Shane Watson’s Test Career is O-V-E-R

Without disrespecting Watto for his efforts in Australian cricket over many years, needs to go. Should’ve happened a few years ago! Well written here without just shot potting him as the whipping boy of the Australian cricket team.

Hannah's Australian Sport Scoop

With the amount of jokes made on social media about who would be replacing Watson at #3 to Watson reviewing absolutely every single life decision, goes to show how all Australians have realised that Shane Watson has come to the end of his career in Test cricket.

I have never been a fan of Shane Watson as an all rounder, I have never found him to make an impact on the team. Yes his experience may have been beneficial but personally I believe to be part of the Australian team means you need to illustrate great results on the field.

Finally on a monumental date of 15th of July 2015 he was stood down to play the second Ashes test and Mitch Marsh took his place. Steve Smith batted at number 3 and boy was that an incredible innings, going on to make 215 at Lord’s Cricket Ground i.e. Home…

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Round 2: The Washup

In the first edition of ‘The Wash-Up’ for 2015, along with new features compared to the 2014 column, the author looks at his highlights and lowlights of round two. 

The Highlights 

Essendon’s two-point victory over Hawthorn on Sunday afternoon wins first prize here.

There’s much to like about this Bombers outfit, the most resilient group in recent times, given the stress and uncertainty surrounding their club in the wake of the horrendous two year ASADA investigation.

It was a telling victory, particularly after almost knocking off the Swans on their home deck in round one.

They got off to a flier, making Hawthorn earn their right to victory.

The reigning premiers were missing Josh Gibson and Sam Mitchell, yet the greater story was the match winner in key defender Cale Hooker.

For the man who was most often known for his impossible chase of Buddy Franklin in the ex-Hawk’s stunning 2010 goal of the year, he turned the tables on Sunday to kick the Dons to a win to savour.

The Western Bulldogs are another highlight of the round.

Their aggressive nature, ferociousness and preparation to break things open with flying handballs and gut running from one end to the other broke Richmond down on Saturday.

After a disastrous and much publicised off-season, not even this writer could’ve predicted two wins in the opening rounds.

It was great stuff to watch and be assured, the Dogs are the best under-23 team in the competition. Under new coach Luke Beveridge, expect big things.

Doggies’ fans get ready, it appears to be an exciting ride ahead.

The Lowlights

Three clubs made the bill here and are under the microscope – Gold Coast, Richmond and Carlton.

1. Gold Coast 

Of the three clubs in the worry list, the Suns are who most concern.

High expectations are nothing new at Metricon Stadium, with many experts having predicted a top four finish pre-season.

Having sacked Guy McKenna at the end of last year and appointed former Swans and Bulldogs mentor Rodney Eade as his replacement, the expectation more specifically was that the experienced Eade would be the man to lead the Suns deep into September.

Gun midfielder Jaeger O’Meara did his knee before round one and now after two rounds captain Gary Ablett, who remains out of contract, will be missing with that troublesome shoulder.

Worse still, the losses against Melbourne and St Kilda are alarming. My issues begin with the latter.

The Saints were able to do what they liked away from home on Saturday night, in what appeared to be like a training run at their Seaford base.

The Suns didn’t give a yelp and the basic fundamentals of hard work and pressure didn’t exist.

The Gold Coast have lots of work to do and others must stand up, particularly without their skipper to lead them.

2. Richmond

It seems to be the same old story for the Tigers – always the same mistakes that they need to rectify.

Coach Damien Hardwick is in his sixth year in charge and its finals or bust for him now. Surely.

Missing the suspended Brett Deledio and the late withdrawal of Shaun Edwards against the Bulldogs, the Tigers were without the class and run they rely so much on in those two men.

No aggression at the contest and the willingness to hunt the running Dogs outfit is what should concern the Tiger army.

The Tigers need to stick together and come game day, commit to a hunger and desperation to ferociously hunt the opposition and hurt them on the scoreboard.

Time will tell if they can make that a reality.

3. Carlton 

The Blues are in real strife.

Uncompetitive and unable to play four quarters of football, along with a disinterested and unmotivated playing group without leadership is damning so early on in the season.

Adding to the on-field woes is the out of contract coach in Mick Malthouse, and the uncertainty surrounding his future beyond 2015.

Two uninspiring losses has prompted the rebuild discussion to come up again.

The rebuild term is the focus here and one the club seems to finally coming around to realising the situation they’re in.

Like Eade at the Suns, Malthouse was brought to Carlton at the expense of Brett Ratten to lead this club to the top four and contend for a premiership. That hasn’t happened and most likely won’t either.

In some ways, the Blues have already started rebuilding with the departures of Eddie Betts (Adelaide), Jarrad Waite (North Melbourne), Jeff Garlett (Melbourne) and Mitch Robinson (Brisbane Lions) in the past two seasons. Those players were once the nucleus to a potent forward set up that is now not threatening to the opposition at all.

The big question for Carlton powerbrokers remains, is Mick Malthouse the right man to lead the rebuild that’s required?

In this author’s opinion, the Blues would be wise to allow Malthouse to coach out the season and then evaluate and decide whether to reappoint him or not.

The Blues are in a rebuild and would be wise to look at the Hawthorn model and in more recent times, St Kilda and the Bulldogs as evidence as to how to go about things.

To rebuild the club must be bold at the trade table and consider the likes of Chris Yarran, Andrew Walker, Matthew Kreuzer and Bryce Gibbs in order to build through the draft again.

List Manager Stephen Silvagni has a mighty job ahead of him.


Round 6: The Wash-Up

PORT Adelaide’s premiership credentials are genuine and now a threat to the rest of the competition.

Two years ago this club was labelled a basket case and many held the view, including myself, that it would take several years for the Power to return to the top of the ladder.

They deserve much admiration and respect, having turned around their fortunes since the struggling years of 2010 and 2011 under former coach and club great Matthew Primus.

Last night they dismantled Geelong by 40 points in front of their home crowd at Adelaide Oval, which one suspects could well be a venue that holds a distinct advantage over any opposition.

What a story this club has become.

Ken Hinkley replaced Primus as coach and had an immediate impact in year one, and despite expectation to reproduce in 2014, this club has embraced success and keep on performing.

They are relentless in pressure, tackle hard, gut run and play for each other. All key characteristics of a premiership side in the making.

This Power outfit are tough, fit and fast. They run hard and move the ball with such precision, running games out superbly. They’re solid in the back half and boast an attack capable of big scores through Jay Schulz and Justin Westhoff. Add Chad Wingard and Robbie Gray at their fit, and they’re a handful for any defence.

Matthew Lobbe is an underrated ruckman, while they are led superbly by Travis Boak. Brad Ebert, Kane Cornes, Matthew Broadbent, Ollie Wines and Dom Cassisi form the nucleus of a well-balanced midfield group. Add to that off-season recruits Matt White (Richmond) and Jared Polec (Brisbane Lions), the Power are more than just a formidable unit.

They’re playing with such spark, its hard to see them halting here. The Power are finals bound and a top four finish is well and truly achievable.

Anzac Day Football is great!

There’s something to be said about Anzac Day footy – its just great.

Collingwood and Essendon always produce every year at the MCG and while the Pies got up in clash number 19, the Brisbane Lions pipped St Kilda by 3 points in Wellington.

The occasion of Anzac Day makes our game feel insignificant compared to the real meaning of the sacrifice our soldiers took and continue to take, but the fighting spirit always ensures a great spectacle.

QUESTION TIME

How much pressure are the Tigers under?

Plenty. It wasn’t a great day for the Tigers on Sunday, and with the Cats up next it won’t get any easier. The absence of Alex Rance, Brett Deledio and Ivan Maric is significant, three players they need back very quickly. Tyrone Vickery also needs bust his guts at VFL level and push his way back in the line up, because at his best, he’s a very handy player in attack.

The run and dare of 2013 is missing right now, something they desperately need. Along with getting the ball into their best ball users as much as possible.

Jack Riewoldt is their best key forward and needs to be played in the goal square, where he’s most dangerous as well.

They need to find form and quickly the Tigers, because more losses only mount the pressure as the season rolls on.

What’s wrong with the Bombers?

Too much left to too few. No Brendon Goddard, Heath Hocking, Tom Bellchambers and players devout of confidence isn’t helping either.

The Bombers had a great start on Anzac Day, but their dysfunctional forward line is an issue. Joe Daniher is still young and raw with much to learn, while Jake Carlisle plays best as a defender and looks lost as a key forward.

Getting Goddard, Hocking and Bellchambers back will give them a boost but its time Bomber Thompson re-jigged his attack.


Round 5: The Wash-Up

LET’S BEGIN this week’s agenda by discussing Chris Judd. Was he right to play? If not, why was he the sub? Did he come on too early or too late? Is this the end of one of the game’s greats? The questions kept coming on Sunday night, despite Carlton’s stirring 28-point victory over the Western Bulldogs.

The former captain didn’t even last five minutes before his hamstring went. Despite the club and Judd himself saying he’ll be back, the reality is the clock is ticking on his career and retirement is most certainly closer given the timing of this injury.

Critics say he may have been rushed back, given the different ways opposition bring back players similar to the situation Carlton had with Judd. In recent years, Hawthorn has brought Luke Hodge and Brian Lake through the VFL while the Swans nursed Kurt Tippett through the NEAFL last weekend. I’d expect them to do the same with Adam Goodes as well.

In hindsight the Blues probably should’ve taken the more conservative approach given that their former captain will now miss somewhere between 4-6 weeks as the curtains close on one of the most decorated AFL careers we have witnessed.

Having said that, the Blues were mighty stiff and unlucky to lose Judd the way they did. The Blues boast the oldest list in the competition and have the fewest 23 year olds in the league right now, which is cause for concern. A rebuild of the list is inevitable and now is the perfect time for Malthouse to play the youngsters and find out who can play.

Geelong continue to haunt Hawthorn

What a rivalry this has become. The Cats have beaten the Hawks 12 of the last 13 encounters, with last year’s preliminary final the only exception. Monday’s 19-point victory was emphatic with the Cats’ big names standing up. Steve Johnson loves to perform on the big stage and showed just that, but skipper Joel Selwood, Jimmy Bartel and Tom Hawkins (5 goals) were just as iconic.

The mental toughness of Hawthorn is tested to the maximum in these big clashes, and its clear Geelong remain the benchmark for Alastair Clarkson and his outfit. The Hawks were missing Brian Lake and Ryan Schoenmakers, who potentially could’ve curtailed the dominance of Hawkins, who was too good for Kyle Cheney.

A number of key Hawks weren’t at their best – Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli and Josh Gibson – among them.

The Cats have a belief that they can beat anyone on their day, particularly Hawthorn, a belief that expresses their best is undeniably good. Even more impressive is that Caddy, Motlop and Christensen are on the sidelines, along with Vardy and Menzel, who still remain a big part of their future.

The confidence to move on experienced clubmen Paul Chapman, James Podsiadly, Josh Hunt and Joel Corey, and instil belief in the youngsters to step up is impressive. The Cats are a proud club with rich history and a rock solid culture that opposition clubs should take notice of, more so then perhaps they already recognise.

Saints on the right track

St Kilda should be applauded. They took on an Essendon side I expected to win well, yet the boys from Seaford got the chocolates.

Strong players and teams just get on with the job, and thats exactly what the Saints did. After an 86-point belting at the hands of the Crows last round, they needed to refocus and put all their energies into combating an in-form Bombers outfit.

Nick Riewoldt is in career-best form in his latter years, leading a new generation of young Saints with experienced pair Lenny Hayes and Leigh Montagna. How lucky are the likes of Billings, Dunstan, Curren, Saunders, Newnes and Webster?

Alan Richardson has shown in a very short space of time how good of a coach he really is. He has missed out on several senior coaching jobs but his highly decorated CV as a developer of talent is shining through.

He has the Saints on the right track and they can only improve under his tenure. Its a much brighter future now then it was this time last year under former coach Scott Watters.

Are the pieces coming together for Collingwood?

Yes, bit by bit. It helps when the Magpie engine room is in full swing like they are at the moment.

Nathan Buckley made bold moves on his list at the end of last year with Heath Shaw (GWS), Dale Thomas (Carlton) and Darren Jolly among the departures, stamping his name on the Pies of today. It wasn’t popular but we can start to see those changes kicking into gear for the better.

Turning Alex Fasolo into a running half-back flanker has proved an inspired move, while the recruitment of ex-Swan Jesse White has proved more beneficial than what Quentin Lynch was able to offer last year.

And on the weekend against the Roos, Travis Cloke got back to form with four goals next to his name by half time.

Dane Swan got back to better form, combining well with captain Scott Pendlebury and I like Steele Sidebottom as a permanent midfielder.

Also pleasing to the coach would be the stability of the back half, despite injuries. Lachie Keefe and Jack Frost are showing plenty of promise in the key posts and are improving by the week, and Nick Maxwell is in career-best form.

With Nathan Brown and Ben Reid closing in on their returns, the coach will have selection dilemmas in the coming weeks. And for the first time in a while, Reid could become a permanent forward given the defence is holding its own right now.

On top of that, Brodie Grundy is performing admirably as the no.1 ruckman with Jarrod Witts as back up. The Pies are slowly building but things are looking good.

Time to ditch the score review system

Its a big call but its time to remove the score review system. The current technology isn’t great, with the SD replays making the vision for a clear decision inconclusive. The time it wastes during games is also another issue.

The case was proven on Sunday when James Frawley shot on goal was given the six points, when it was clearly touched by Suns’ defenders Steven May and Rory Thompson.

Its time to remove a flawed system that isn’t doing what it was designed for.


Food & Drink: Coffee a must have

Dukes rocks!! Great coffee, good food and customer service 🙂


Talking Points: Carlton vs St Kilda

ANALYSIS: There was plenty to like from a Carlton perspective, following Saturday night’s 36-point win over St Kilda.

Most importantly, the Blues are just one game out of the eight at a 7-8 record, and back in contention ahead of next Friday night’s must-win clash with North Melbourne.

No Jarrad Waite and the late withdrawal of Mitch Robinson raised eyebrows but the Blues held their nerve in their first win over the Saints since 2011 and just their third in the past 19 encounters.

THE NEW SWINGMAN

Those who promote Jarrad Waite as Carlton’s most important player may want to have a rethink.

On Saturday night the Blues had Lachie Henderson playing the role that they desperately need from Waite, kicking four goals in a strong-marking and disciplined showing as the Blues’ key forward.

Henderson, a strong and reliable key defender, started deep in attack and immediately had an impact, twice outmarking St Kilda tall Rhys Stanley in a five-minute burst to kick the Blues’ opening two goals.

He took 12 marks, gathered 16 disposals and finished with 4.2, presenting coach Mick Malthouse with the sort of swingman that is invaluable in today’s modern game.

Not only that, but the former Lion may very well end up stationing himself as Carlton’s permanent key forward.

Along with inclusion Sam Rowe (3 goals), the Saints’ defence struggled to contain the strong-marking pair at the rate of delivery.

LIST DEVELOPMENT THE PLAN, SAYS WATTERS

St Kilda deserves a pass mark for effort, but must exhaust every option at season’s end to bolster its list if it wishes to return to the top half of the ladder.

That was the assessment of coach Scott Watters after the 36-point loss to the Blues.

“All I’d say from a trade and draft perspective … we’re going to exhaust every opportunity, from free agency to trade, we’ll look at everything,” Watters said.

“That’s not to say we’ll do everything, but we’ll certainly exhaust every option.”

With the careers of Riewoldt, Koschitzke, Hayes, Milne, Dal Santo and Fisher fast approaching the end, Watters clearly sees the need to develop the list with the talent already there and the need to recruit well in the immediate off-season.

“We need to build some top-end talent. There’s no real secret: play the kids, pick good talent, play the kids … that’s the pathway that we’re on.”

Watters said the Saints would look at playing more youngsters in the remaining seven weeks of the season, mentioning Jimmy Webster, Seb Ross, Tom Ledger and Tom Curren.

“We’d like to expose a few more over the back end of the year, and we will, but we still want to be as competitive as we can be,” he said.

 

 

 


Talking Points: North Melbourne v Richmond

ANALYSIS: In the ‘90s, North Melbourne dominated the competition with Pagan’s Paddock. Today, the 2013 Roos employed Scott’s Slingshot in a dominant team performance over top-eight side Richmond.

The Kangaroos knocked pre-match concerns about their forward potency on the head — in the absence of the suspended Lindsay Thomas — by employing a game style that blew the game open with eight unanswered goals in the second quarter following a 7-point lead at the first break.

The Roos put numbers behind the ball, blocking space in their back half, and then back their pace to sweep down the field into an open forward line.

Entering their forward 50 they used precise kicking to a short option running towards goal, or to the advantage of their dominant tall forwards Drew Petrie (1 goal), Robbie Tarrant (4 goals) and Aaron Black (3 goals).

When Richmond did manage to get numbers back, the Roos still found ways to score through their manic forward pressure and quick, clever handballs in traffic.

The other tactical successes employed by North coach Brad Scott were the shut down roles of Richmond pair Brett Deledio (16 disposals) and Jack Riewoldt (2 goals).

The 62-point win keeps the Roos’ slim finals hopes alive, while the Tigers received a dint in their chase of the top four.

ROOS’ DEFENSE SUPREME

In the post-match press conference, Brad Scott applauded his back six for their defensive efforts in what was clearly their best four-quarter defensive effort all year.

Scott also acknowledged the defensive efforts of Levi Greenwood and Taylor Hine on key Tigers Trent Cotchin (25 disposals) and Deledio.

“It’s been something we’ve been working really hard on.

“So it’s really pleasing to see some reward for effort there. The defenders played well but I thought our midfield gave us the opportunity to defend well.”

Scott Thompson shut down Jack Riewoldt, despite two late final quarter goals to the Richmond spearhead.

Lachie Hansen was the standout down back for the Roos, finishing with 20 possessions and 15 marks, much to the delight of his coach.

“15 marks today, and five contested, and (he) set up the game I thought,” Scott said.

“Everyone can look at stats and who the best players were … but you look at impact on the game, and for impact on the game I don’t think there were too many better players out there today than him.”

JUST A REALLY BAD GAME OF FOOTY: HARDWICK

Richmond came into today’s clash against North Melbourne as the favourite but by five o’clock this afternoon, had come crashing to earth.

The Tigers, in-form with their eyes firmly fixed on a crack at the top four, played with very little purpose or urgency, making several skill errors and poor decisions.

An honest Damien Hardwick said the Tigers “hadn’t come to play” and “weren’t in the game at any stage”, but made it clear that “it was just a bad game”.

“We just played a really bad game of footy today, it’s no deeper than that. The reality is we just had a really poor game.

“We think we’ve got past that stage of the young, inexperienced stuff, we’re past it. Good sides perform on a consistent basis and we didn’t today, granted we came up against a side which I think played hungry, their pressure and their run was first class.

“We don’t wipe it, from a work rate point of view, we didn’t work hard enough. We didn’t. They outnumbered us at every contest, so that to me is a player issue we’ve got to work harder.”