Archive for the ‘Cricket’ Category

Cricket Will Never Be Free from Corruption

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Sir Ronnie Flanagan, chief of the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption wing, has admitted corruption will never be expunged from the game.

But he was quick to add that fans should know administrators are doing ‘everything humanly possible’ to root out illegal practices.

“I’ll give you the honest answer – That we will never totally, utterly, and absolutely eradicate corruption from the game,” Flanagan said to icc-cricket.com.

“But we can make the game a very difficult environment for those who would seek to bring corruption to bear.”

Flanagan labelled as ‘most evil’ those who attempted to corrupt the game.

“Those are organised criminals. These are members of organised criminal gangs across the world.”

Recently three Pakistan internationals were jailed for spot-fixing during the 2010 Test series in England.

Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt, and Mohammad Asif have since been released and are attempting to resume their cricket careers.

When asked whether he thought the three should be eligible for international duty with the Pakistan side Flanagan said it was a matter for  the Pakistan cricket Board.

“They’ve been punished. They’ve met their punishment. It’s now a matter, I think, for their home board to decide whether they should ever grace an international cricket team again.”

But cricket’s integrity remains under a cloud of suspicion worldwide.

After football, cricket is the main sport in the world attracting illegal gambling.

One expert estimated the sports betting market is worth $3 trillion annually, with the vast majority of that being illegal.

Cricket is thought to make up 12 per cent of that figure.

Streaker Pitches Tent on Cricket Ground

Image: twitter

You know the ground security guards are slow when a pitch-invader has time to erect a tent.

Yep, that’s what happened at Canterbury County Cricket Ground yesterday. A fan ran onto the pitch, erected a tent, crawled inside, stripped off, and emerged completely naked – but for a crash helmet.

‘Mr Lee Marshall disrupted play for several minutes with what must be one of the most ludicrous pitch-invasions ever.

A solitary female attendant confronted Mr Lee Marshall.’

But upon her approach he simply hid in his man-cave.

Reinforcements dawdled onto the county ground and eventually Marshall was escorted from the field.

Marshall (who goes by the Twitter handle #Discoboy) is, according to his profile an “Entertainer, prankster and DJ.” He has performed the same stunt at shopping centres.

He later claimed on social media that he had been released without a fine. He says authorities simply told him, “You can’t camp there.”

King Calls for Mandatory State-Funded MRIs for Boxers

Injured boxer Image: en.wikipedia.org

Queensland boxer Shannon King took to the canvas on the weekend against talented super middle-weight Liam Hutchinson. The two fought at the Mansfield tavern on Saturday, the first sanctioned boxing match since the death of Toowoomba fighter Braydon Smith.

King is a boxing trainer, coach of Reds rugby star Quade Cooper, veteran fighter, gym owner and long-time advocate for mandatory, government-funded MRI scans for combat athletes.

Professional fighters are required to have regular scans in South Australia, but no such checks are required in Queensland. Individuals may decide to get the scans done, but they then face a hefty $250 bill.

“We need bulk billed MRIs for fighters,” said Smith. “It is $250 for each MRI, so promoters can’t afford that.

“If a promoter has ten fights, that’s 20 fighters and $5,000 – and who can afford that?

“If you are a professional athlete in a combat sport you should be able to access an MRI every six months for free from the government.”

At the same time king said, “Football is more dangerous than boxing. Since I have trained Quade (Cooper) he has had a shoulder reconstruction, a broken collarbone, and he was knocked out in a Test in England.

“In that same time I have had five boxing fights and all I have had is 12 stitches.”

On wonders then if King believes all footballers should have access to free MRIs as well?

Match-Fixers Likened to Paedophiles

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mohammad_Amir.jpg

Outspoken chairman of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, has launched an incredible tirade against match-fixers. He has likened their selfishness and manipulation to those of paedophiles – saying, doing, and promising anything to attain their evil ends.

Flanagan was in Sydney to address the media about measures the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit have created to eradicate match-fixing from cricket.

“In our line of work,” he told reporters, “we too often meet and know that there are rotten people out there, criminal people out there who will do all in their power to get at players and others of influence within the game.

“They’ll trick them, they’ll coerce them, they’ll try and attract them – they’re almost like paedophiles in how they attempt to groom people into ultimately attempting to do what suits their nefarious intentions in terms of illegal betting.

“This (series) will be true competition between teams fought out on the basis of ability and sometimes a little bit of luck. A tournament that is free from corruption, or the threat of corruption.

“We will be delivering education programs to all the teams involved reminding them of their responsibilities and the commitment they must strictly adhere to right throughout the tournament.”

When asked about the early return of Pakistani quick Mohammad Aamer Flanagan was effusive: “I am absolutely comfortable that it’s (allowing Aamer to return to domestic cricket) the right thing to do. He delivers messages to others that they shouldn’t ever put themselves in a position that he put himself in.”

Aamer was found guilty of spot-fixing in 2010. He was subsequently banned from all competitive cricket until 22 September this year. However, after demonstrating sincere remorse and a commitment to protecting his peers from similar temptations he has been allowed to return.

New Zealand Prepares to Take on Cricket World Cup Match-Fixers

New Zealand police and politicians are preparing for the illegal activity that has attended recent high profile cricket matches.

The cricket World cup is to be held in New Zealand in February and officials are preparing a bill to prevent the entry of people with links to match fixing.

Superintendent Sandra Manderson told the NZ Herald they are aware of players having been blackmailed with sexually explicit photos by match-fixing syndicates.

“We know they bring in women into the country to fraternise with players,” she said. “Afterwards they’ll ask the players to do something and if they refuse they’ll say, ‘Well, see these photographs? They will be with your wife, your neighbours, your parents.’”

The New Zealand Crimes Amendment Bill has been introduced to Parliament to combat just this. It allows police and customs officials to stop the entry of anyone with links to illegal syndicate betting.

Another scam under the watchful eye of New Zealand law enforcement is ‘court-siding’. This is the practice of having a member of the syndicate reporting on the game from the ground. Because of the delay in TV telecasts those receiving the information are able to place bets before the bookies see what is happening.

Lou Vincent. Photo: www.telegraph.co.uk

Lou Vincent. Photo: www.telegraph.co.uk

The New Zealand public have very little sympathy for match-fixers. The recent high-profile admission of Black Cap player Lou Vincent for match-fixing caused a storm of outrage. The government is determined to stamp it out.

Bowing Out – A Sportsperson’s Retirement

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Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko was today forced to retire from the men’s singles program. The 31 year-old – one of the icons of the sport – complained of spinal pains earlier in the week, after helping Russia secure gold earlier in the team competition.

Plushenko’s exit from the men’s singles event was dramatic. He took to the rink to warm up, holding his lower back in visible pain. He attempted various jumps and spins, but struggled to pull them off, eventually liasing with his coaching team before announcing his withdrawal to the judges. Although he is yet to officialy retire, Plushenko was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying “this was not how I wanted to end my career”. “For now I need a very big rest, ” he said.

Plushenko’s injuries and plateauing scores represent a familiar tale when it comes to sport: an elite athlete, after years at the top of their pecking order, experiences diminishing returns. Their constant physical exertions take a toll, causing further problems and an eventual, expected retirement announcement.

The familiarity of this narrative, though, doesn’t make it any less painful. Ian Thorpe’s tumultous career of highs and lows is indicative of this. After winning five Olympic gold medals, Thorpe retired from swimming in 2006. Four years later, though, he announced a comeback geared at the 2012 London Olympics. The media salivated at this prospect: the wonder-kid reclaiming his place as Australia’s king of swimming.

However, the height of expectations seemingly proved too much; Thorpe failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. This process was the subject of an insightful 2012 ABC documentary. Thorpe re-retired in the middle of 2013. However, he has continued to attract media attention – most recently for being admitted to rehab after a ‘dazed and confused’ episode in his parents’ southern Sydney neighbourhood.

retirement-waughHappily, not all retirement stories are quite so fraught with difficulty and pain. Cricket, for example, is ripe with happy end-of-career stories. Steve Waugh, then serving as the captain of Australia’s cricket team, bowed out in 2003. He ended his run in front of a home crowd, and referenced the mixed emotions that are sure to come with ending such a successful career. Glenn McGrath also managed to finish with dignity, taking a wicket with the last ball of his career.

These case studies all serve as food for thought: is it better for athletes to retire relatively early, at the top of their game with their dignity well and truly intact? Or should they fight, on Lleyton Hewitt style, earning the ‘veteran’ tag and forging a stronger place in the minds of sports fans? It’s safe to assume that, in pondering such a decision, logic and emotion will have to battle it out. There are cautionary tales related to both avenues, with neither resolutely better than the other.

Equiprent and the Motocross Fundraiser

 When a Perth Cricket club recently decided to raise funds for clubhouse extensions a call was made to the members for ideas. Nothing was off limits, everything would be considered – no matter how wild.

And so the idea of a motocross rally and show was born.

Several of the members had sons or daughters in motocross clubs. Motocross, for those unfamiliar with the sport, is an exhilarating, fast-paced, viewer friendly sport. It consists of riders negotiating a hilly, convoluted circuit and breakneck speed. All the action takes place in front of the audience

operatorThe idea put to the Cricket Club Board was to transform the cricket grounds into a motocross circuit and sell tickets to the one-night event. It would certainly beat the hell out of a lamington drive.

The first problem was to construct a course.

Fortunately one of the board members had previous experience with the mining industry. “It’s not as hard as you think,” he told his fellow board members. “Places like Equiprent offer equipment for just this kind of job.”

And they do.

An engineer donated his time to calculate the volume of soil required to construct a course, operatorEquiprent was asked about equipment able to transport and move the earth. They were even asked about hiring drivers for the machinery (which they also helped with).

In fact, had it not been for Equiprent an otherwise splendid idea would have been dead in the water.

It took a lot of planning and a lot of work, but the event went ahead. It was a roaring success.

Melbourne Madness

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Melbournians could be forgiven for breathing a collective sigh of relief at the end of this week, when the Australian Open – this year characterised by extreme heat in the early rounds, and shock exits of some loftily-seeded players – wraps up and the international tennis stars shuffle off. That sigh seems unlikely to eventuate, though, given the slew of other events sure to keep sports fans entertained.

Melbourne has, in the past, been heralded as the sporting capital of the world. Whether or not this label is deserved, it’s certain that the city is never short on high quality sporting drawcards, with international stars forever jetting in and out. If there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s that it’s been a busy season for the Melbourne hotel industry – and for good reason.

Cricket

If you’re not a fan of the sport, you could be forgiven for feeling like this year’s summer of cricket has dragged on for far too long. Unfortunately, as a cricket abstainer, you’d also be in the minority there.

Australia and England will face off once again at the MCG on the last day of January. At this point the result seems all but assured. It’s important, though, that the Australian team don’t rest on their laurels, as so many teams in their position would do. Redoubling their efforts and not relying purely on the momentum of this summer will ensure that Clarke and co. maintain the incredible winning streak they’ve been experiencing.

To get a true indication of just how taxing this summer has been for English fans, you could consider checking in to a Melbourne CBD hotel populated by Poms. Their howls of woe and admissions of lethargy are sure to make this match all the more enjoyable for Australian spectators, and victory all the sweeter for our own excellent team.

Formula 1 Grand Prixmelboure-shin

As soon as the words “Grand Prix” are uttered, most of us can almost hear the roaring of engines, and smell the burning of rubber. This year – as always – the event will not only attract adrenaline junkie drivers and their incredible machines, but also a nest of celebrities and a sea of crowds. The Grand Prix is certainly in the top tier of annual sports outings hosted by Melbourne – along with the Open and the Melbourne Cup – and is not to be missed by motoring enthusiasts. The high esteem in which the event is held means that leaving bookings to the last minute can result in a desperate, often disappointing scramble for tickets and accommodation. Rev-heads who have brains to match, then, should be sure to book a room at Hotel Urban Melbourne as far in advance as possible. On your marks, get set…!

Golf

Compared to the adrenaline of the Grand Prix, the 2014 Handa Australian Women’s Open is sure to be a civilised – if at times still cutthroat – event. This year’s tournament will attract many of the world’s top ten female golfers, including defending champion Jiyai Shin. The standard of the game is excellent, so we can only hope that the media gives this tournament the attention it warrants.

Prolongoing Sydney’s Summer of Sports

summer-dragon

So far, the 2013/2014 Australian summer has been one of high drama and high stakes. From Australia’s incredible cricket victories, to tough conditions in the Sydney To Hobart, to a number of early high-profile knockouts in the Australian Open, it’s been consistently surprising and engaging. It’s not over yet, though.

It’s true that a lot of international sportspeople will be heading for the Departures terminal in the next week or so, as big events wind up. What we’re left with, though, is a range of events that cater to tastes that are diverse and slightly left-of-field. Those hoping to assert their status as a well-rounded sports fan will do well to stick around in Sydney, situating themselves in a North Sydney hotel so they have close access to all corners of the city, which will play host to a variety of different sports in the coming weeks and months.

summer-surfingAustralian Open of Surfing

Surfing and youth culture have always gone hand in hand. It makes perfect sense, then, that the Open of Surfing doesn’t restrict itself to sport. Music, art, and fashion will also be on display during the nine-day event, which is free and is expected to attract about 125,000 spectators to Manly during February. There’s also a skateboarding element, ensuring that the tastes of teenagers the country over will be catered to. It’s pretty rare for an event to combine so many elements of youth culture, so don’t be surprised if your uppity teenager is asking to be booked into a nearby hotelurban.com.au/sydney in the near future.

Dragon Boat racing

Now a cornerstone of Sydney’s annual Chinese New Year Festival, dragon boat racing attracts spectators for a number of reason. The physical prowess of participating paddlers is not to be scoffed at, for one thing. Dragon boat racing is also of great significance in Chinese culture, and both reflects and perpetuates national pride and collectivity. Equally important is the visual spectacle aspect that the races bring to Cockle Bay, as an armada of delicately crafted, exquisitely decorated boats – each twelve metres long and housing twenty paddlers – descend for a weekend.

Waratahs vs Blues

A February 7 preview match, to be held at Allianz Stadium, will serve as an interesting preview of what’s to come in 2014 for Super Rugby.

Readers unfamiliar with the curious love/hate relationships between Australians and New Zealanders may well find the stoush enlightening. Interactions between the two nations are like a more jovial, good-natured version of the French and English rapprochement, in sentiment if not in practicality. With the two sides last year occupying neighbouring slots towards the bottom of the Super Rugby ladder, fans will be waiting with baited breath to see who can gain the upper hand in 2014.

Observers from overseas are like to find that situating themselves in the heart of Waratahs territory will make the lead-up and come-down from the match even more exciting. So book yourself into the Chatswood Shopping Center hotel to truly  get a true indication of just how passionate New South Welshman are about their sport. Go ‘Tahs!

The Ashes 2013/14

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The latest edition of the Ashes can only be taken one of two ways – either a resounding success or a howling failure. I’d personally gone into the Australian summer looking forward to a tough cricketing season. Australia had just struggled their way to a significant loss to the English on their own soil. Truthfully, I was expecting much of a similar drumming in front of their home crowd.

Of course, I was indescribably wrong. The five – nil hammering that the English had succumbed to was to a great surprise for myself. As an Australian with somewhat of an English heritage, the Ashes always prove to be a rather difficult series to deal with. I generally, however, throw my support on the side of the Lions, really because they are the ones that usually require it. This choice has made the last few months a rather dismal affair.

It’s not that the English lost, it’s rather how they lost. It was a complete hammering – so much so I’m sure the queen herself has been cringing on her throne, John Lennon has been turning in his grave and Postman Pat has gone on strike.

I could always go through each game and tell you each of the star performers, but I’m sure you’ve already heard all of that. And, to tell you the truth, I can’t bear talking about them again. I remember comparing Alistair Cook to superman a few months back – right now I regret even noting the resemblance.

So, the question remains – where do we go from here? Well, first of all, as fans the English raise their heads from their buckets of cookies and cream ice cream, get out of bed and drink a large cup of coffee. The Players? Well, they just have to pick up some form. It is not that the squad is lacking in quality – they had been resoundingly successful in the months prior to this series – they just have to find their feet again and get over how incredibly stunning the Australian bowling attack is – and I’m not talking about Mitchell Johnson’s moustache. Admittedly, losing Jonathan Trott after the first game and then Graeme Swann to retirement after the third didn’t help – and we can’t forget seemingly always-troublesome Kevin Pietersen.

The Australians, well after the struggles that they have gone through in the early parts of 2013, they are probably due for a good win. I’ve noticed that the fans have been rather tame in their slagging of the British – letting the scores speak for themselves rather than actually saying anything.

The concurrent one-day tournament has just begun. I was hoping for a lift in performance in the red pajamas but when Captain Cook was sent packing after just four deliveries, my heart knew it would face little happiness over the next few months. I hope, with St George’s cross over my heart, that we can win a battle before the final day.