29 November 2005

Help from above for cricket umpires?

To the cricket yesterday and today. Australia completed a comfortable and deserved win today. The turning point of the game IMO was the West Indies' failure to gain a significant first innings lead (at least 50) when they had the opportunity, though the margin of Australia's victory was exaggerated by poor umpiring from Billy Bowden and Aleem Dar.

Today Billy Bowden added to his mistakes of the previous days. He called a 5 ball over during the morning session and on one occasion stopped the bowler half way through his run up to upbraid the West Indian fielders for some alleged infringement, which looked and sounded to me like one man clapping before the ball was delivered.

These lapses seem odd for a man who has recently claimed that God is his "third umpire in a way" http://sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2005/11/09/scgad09.xml&sSheet=/sport/2005/11/09/ixcrick.html . It would be interesting to know how God communicates his decisions to Billy: on the cricket field they seem to come through very quickly and to favour Australia more than the opposition.

Perhaps there is something to be said for referring more decisions to a third umpire: an earthly one with access to good technology would suffice. Maybe the batting side should be given a certain number of challenges to umpire's decisions: this idea was discussed on the ABC radio commentary during the test. And "elite" umpire training needs to be reviewed.

Perhaps even the third umpire could be the ultimate decision making authority

27 November 2005

The hills and the valleys of test cricket

It was another very good day of test cricket at Adelaide Oval today, despite some lapses by the Australian middle order batters (note PC usage) and the West Indian fielders.

The first session was a la recherche de temps perdu (ie a throwback to the past): hard grafting with wickets falling regularly. 48 runs from 27 overs, for 4 wickets. Hey, this wasn't in the script but it was good to see the West Indian bowlers lift their game. Bravo was magnificent (as his name suggests) and even Fidel Edwards (will his name preclude him from gaining entry to Orstrailia when the new sedition laws are in force?) bowled at the stumps and earned a wicket.

Unfortunately for those who were hoping that the Windies would adminster the coup de grace after lunch. Fidel couldn't maintain the pressure and Hussey (who before lunch might have done more both to protect Symonds and to move the score along) and McGill took advantage of very slack bowling (what did Fidel E have for lunch to make him bowl so loosely afterwards?)

Ramdin dropped Gilchrist from a sitter (but AG didn't last much longer as Chanderpaul took a good catch). Hinds also dropped McGill from as easy a catch as must have ever been offered in test cricket. When the Windeis batted again Ricky Ponting at second slip caught Devon Smith with a catch that as good aas one could hope to see: Lee delivered at about 150km/hr, Smith edged downwards, Ponting moved forward (how could he in the nanosecond?), caught the ball and retained his balance.

26 November 2005

B Lara (cont)

Today Brian Lara scored another 24 runs which was sufficient to make him the top test match run scorer of all time. Congratulations to a master.

The ABC has engaged another master West Indian - Tony Cozier - as part of its radio commentary team. His comments are a combination of incisive analysis of the play and graphic description of the match ambience. IMO only Richie Benaud of current commentators rivals him.

25 November 2005

Another magnificent innings

Brian Lara finished the first day of the Australia - West Indies Test on 202 not out of a total of 7/352. His innings began with intense concentration and very careful, almost wary, shot selection. In the middle session he moved from 27 (out of 71) to 106 (out of 194) gradually revealing his full hand of strokes, while still maintaining his concentration apart from one or two foregiveable lapses. He sprinted to the 200 mark in an over in which he made Brett Lee (who otherwise bowled well) look like a net bowler, or parkland cricketer.

And this is his second great innings at Adelaide this year: the other his 156 against Pakistan in a one day international in January, which I also saw. Unfortunately I won't be able to be at the Adelaide Oval for the start of tomorrow's play but I feel as I've just consumed a magnificent meal - I'll leave the wine comparisons to the Cricinfo reporter who shares my opinion http://content-aus.cricinfo.com/ausvwi/content/story/227179.html.

24 November 2005

Letter to the Editor

Today's Advertiser published an open letter from Mr Rumsfeld "Secretary of Defence" (sic) thanking everyone for making his visit to "your beautiful city" such a success. Interestingly it was published in the Letters to the Editor section, and wasn't even the lead one. It did at least precede those written by the regular correspondents such as Paul Scott Wattle Park (today's contribution a characteristically pithy statement " Bring on TramsAdelaide") and Brian Wreford Morphett Vale (requesting express trains from Oaklands to Salisbury, a variation on his usual theme of extending the Noarlunga Line to Aldinga).

I wonder whether Mr R sends an open letter of thanks to the people of each city he visits. I'd like to see what he says to the citizens of Baghdad.

Despite Mr R's description of his meeting with Mr Downer and Senator Hill as "important talks" his visit to Adelaide doesn't rate on the "What the Secretary has been saying" section of the Defense Department website http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/secdef.html . The only reference there to a town hall is a transcript of a "Town Hall Meeting" at MacDill Airforce Base on 11 October this year http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/2005/sp20051011-secdef1981.html in which Mr R describes himself as a "broken down ex-cabinet officer".

17 November 2005

Donald ducks for cover?

All was quiet on the western North Terrace front at 7.30 tonight when I passed Fort Apache redux, aka the Hyatt. True, the fortifications were still in place and a good number of police in attendance, but there was no sign of any demonstrators.

At 9.45pm when I walked past on my way home it was a different matter. Several fire engines with lights flashing were parked in the vicinity and the police contingent was concentrated at the south eastern corner of the perimeter. It soon became evident why. The constabulary were trying, with limited success, to clear some of the barriers to open a passage for Mr Rumsfeld's entourage which, led by a wedge of police motorcyclists in arrow formation like a well-drilled bikie gang, swept imperiously across King William Street and came to a halt on North Terrace. As the entourage consisted of at least ten vehicles and a dozen motorcycles this took up quite a lot of the street. No doubt this wasn't quite as planned: did Mr R have to duck for cover?

Great Sporting Moments

This week I watched a great sporting moment: a triple century scored by Darren "Boof" Lehmann for SA against WA . While the opposition was below strength they were probably stronger than the current Bangladesh and Zimbabwe test teams so the achievement should not be devalued. Unfortunately the media ballyhoo about the Australia - Uruguay soccer match overshadowed the acknowledgement of this achievement. Even the Advertiser gave more prominence to the build up to the soccer.

I watched the match last night and was pleased with the outcome, though not for the first time thought it odd that an important game could be decided by a penalty shoot out.

Perhaps there could be a place in the finals - like a wild card - reserved for teams which have missed out because of penalty shootouts. Another competition would need to be arranged at relatively short notice but surely this wouldn't be too difficult.

By the way, was I the only Australian to be appalled by the rabidly chauvinistic tone of the SBS commentary? Have I been listening to too much cricket or is this now the new standard?

More dead heart than centre of the universe?

This week two pillars of the current world order (or a certain version thereof), Mr Murdoch and Mr Rumsfeld, have visited Adelaide. This has prompted some tongue in cheek remarks from commentators for example Christian Kerr in today's Crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/ (subscription may be required) about Adelaide being, at least for the moment, the centre of the universe.

The local media have matched this with stories about the city being locked down (Ch9 News today). I thought that I'd satisfy my curiosity (and check the accuracy of the reports) so went into the city early this afternoon. Everything looked quieter than usual, though there seemed to be more police and security people around. The 6pm Channel 9 news had a different story, with footage of the Hyatt (which I didn't go past) fortified and bag searches taking place.

I'll be heading in that direction soon (to see a movie, not to demonstrate) so will check out the situation again.

Yesterday Mr Rumsfeld was given a column in Mr Murdoch's Australian to expound his opinion about the strength of the Australian - US alliance http://theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17258445%5E7583,00.html. In this he makes some comments about the military commission process which draw a very long bow: it "is fair, it is time tested and was a process by which several detainees were brought to justice [sic] during and after World War II."
For alternative views see http://www.llrx.com/features/military.htm and http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1701789.stm. Note the BBC presenting two sides of the question.

13 November 2005

Miss Julie

ABC Radio National is my default radio station (except when test cricket is being broadcast) and Life Matters is one of my favourite programs. Last Friday however I was, to put it mildly, annoyed by a blatant combination of product placement and job interview featuring Julie McRossin. http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/lm/stories/s1502494.htm

Julie was puffing Forever Yours: Australia's Hidden Love Letters, a compilation of material submitted by Life Matters listeners, which she has co-edited (whatever that means). She was her customary eloquent self and admitted that she was now relying on speaking engagements to keep the wolf from the door. I'd thought that someone of her erudition (for an example see http://www.takver.com/history/womyn.htm) would have no difficulty finding work. On air she implied that she might be open to other offers (she didn't mention returning as presenter of Life Matters but this no doubt came to many regular listeners' minds).

IMO Julie has burnt her Life Matters boat and should not, repeat not, be reinstated. Since she left several presenters have been tried: all have been competent, and some eg Sarah McDonald and Richard Aedy, have been outstanding. The ABC should give Miss Julie a miss.


09 November 2005

Water over the bridge? Observations of the Adelaide floods 8 November 2005

Yesterday I was planning to walk in the Adelaide Hills. The heavy rain precluded this but I decided to visit a couple of the places where the media (particularly the ABC, for whom thanks despite a quibble or two about terminology) had reported that floods either threatened or had occurred.

Waterfall Gully Road

In the middle of the day a kind of order, represented by the CFS, SES, Burnside Council and the police, had been restored though no Canute figure had emerged to bid the waters to recede. A lot of damage had been done to both public and private property, which made me wonder

(1) Given the history of flooding on Waterfall Gully Road, what contingency plans had been made, and by whom, to deal with future flooding?

(2) What if any measures were taken, when and by whom, to alert residents to the emerging threat of flooding over the preceding 24 hours?

(3) Who authorises development along Waterfall Gully Road, especially in its flood prone areas?

(4) Are there any proposals for development in these flood prone areas currently
before the development authorities and, if so, what, if any, impact will yesterday's events have on the eventual decision/ recommendation?

Onkaparinga River at Old Noarlunga

Here there was abundant evidence of effective planning and timely response.
The houses at risk had been identified (based on previous flood threats) and protected with a layer of sandbags laid by what appeared to be a functional coalition of the willing including the local council and the CFS (community based volunteers). I was there in the mid- afternoon when the water was rising rapidly, but measures were clearly in place to deal with any threats.

Although Old Noarlunga is low lying and situated on an oxbow bend of the river it has many aged buildings which must have survived previous floods or threats thereof. I wonder why. Did the early white settlers have regard to the vicissitudes of nature and build above the high water line? Did they draw upon the knowledge of the local Aboriginal people to help determine optimal building sites?

Media Coverage

Considering the main news story of the day (terrorism suspects arrested, and the media generously fed with information ), today's Australian had a reasonable report with photos, including one of Waterfall Gully Road (which may have been taken with a very wide angle lens). The Advertiser 's coverage didn't get below the froth as it concentrated on some Christmas decorations which were swept away down the Torrens, though it also warned of the danger of sharks gorging on the dead fish swept out to sea by the Torrential torrent .

One minor black spot was the solecism of the ABC reporter at Noarlunga who described a "swing bridge" across the river when he could only have meant a suspension bridge (I was within eyesight of his ostentatiously decorated ABC vehicle when I heard his live report on the 3pm news).

I can (up to a point) cope with allegations of left-wing bias at the ABC, but when it comes to poor English expression it is harder to defend such lapses, even if they were perpetrated by a person better known (to me at least) as a sporting commentator . Does the ABC have a re-education program for such people?

Where to from here?

Floods are uncommon, but not rare, in and around Adelaide so it's not surprising that some problems have resurfaced. No doubt the state government, local councils and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all will be assuring the media that all is well and that those for whom all is not well will be given $700 to assuage the short term pain (and the donors' consciences). No doubt development processes will continue to permit houses to be built in flood prone areas without any flood mitigation procedures in place.

To be fair, some measures are being put in place.See for example
You may well wonder what contribution so many disparate groups can make
to an understanding of floods in SA, let alone to coming up with moderately effective proposals to respond to the next set of problems.

02 November 2005

Worth how many words?

The Bill Leak cartoon in today's Australian http://theaustralian.news.com.au/cartoon is IMO a magnificent summary of the current Australian political environment.

As if to demonstrate that written words are capable of matching pictures, Paul Kelly's opinion piece immediately underneath the cartoon http://theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17109859%255E12250,00.html shows that not only the Leader of the Opposition is hedging his bets:

"Australia's public mood seems more decoupled than ever from the sheer complexity of Iraq. This contest is not a morality play. It is about the balance of power in the region, the balance of power in the war on terrorism and how to minimise the damage from Bush's disastrous 2003 intervention."

It will be interesting to see who responds to each of these items, and how.