1. Cricket first. Four home tests against India this summer, a home Ashes in 12 months’ time. Two names that could not be more front of mind with an eye to both are Cameron Green and Will Pucovski. One a 21-year-old batting all-rounder who not only has two 5 wicket hauls from just 17 matches, bowling at 21, but as a batsman, already has an average over 50, so good Greg Chappell thinks he is the best young batting talent since Ricky Ponting.
Then you have Will Pucovski, who has a first class average of 51, a Sheffield Shield average of 62, has two first class double tons to his name already and he is only 22. Cam White thinks he’ll average 50 at test level.
Peter Lalor from The Australian thinks it’d be too harsh to drop any of the incumbent top six who retained The Ashes last year in the UK, but when you have Green and Pucovski who are destined for 15-year, above-average test careers at worst, you have to find the spots, and find them soon.
Greg Chappell also goes on to say too that for lads like Green and Pucovski, bright talents clearly destined for better things, there’s little point trying to get them ready for Test cricket by keeping them in the Shield; the only way to get them accomplished at the level is to put them in that situation.
Joe Burns hasn’t got a record that warrants hitching your trailer too, Matty Wade is 33 next year and hardly Mike Hussey, so whilst they’re both not guys you’re keen to ditch asap, if Green and/or Pucovski are too good to leave out, then you’re chucking one of them in sooner rather than later, if not both.
2. So if it was me? Pucovski gets runs again, and Burns fails again, that’s a genuine 50-50 call for me to open the First Test with Warner and Pucovski. Remember, they’d wanted Pucovski in the team at some point of each of the last two summers, and is fresh off his highest first class score. He is properly close. And as for Green, I’d have him in now. If it was Travis Head or Green, I’d chose the South Australian, but Wade has a test average of 30 odd and has two scores over 50 in his last 15 test innings.
3. Last one on Cricket – we now have a schedule for this summer and it seems Channel 7 will be a content broadcaster after all. So all the hot air about pulling out completely and all that jazz, much like the NRL and Channel Nine mid-year it was just a whole bunch of posturing and the discerning sports lover on their couch never had their viewing prospects in jeopardy.
4. Alrighty, footy, what do we have, firstly, Jayden Short, always keen to see who wins a best and fairest from the premiers each year. Short’s an amazing story, came second in the Norm Smith voting to a player many are now discussing in the all-time greats category, and then wins the Jack Dyer medal for his year, amazing. Remembering, he was pick 11 in the 2015 rookie draft, so overlooked over and over again that year by pretty much everyone. Terrific tale.
5. Trades, well, How do we have a trade period where we haven’t locked in list sizes or the 2021 salary cap? I mean I know its been a big year for the AFL and the bean counting has never been more difficult, but honestly the idea tha clubs can wheel and deal with half a blindfold on is a little bit Riddell District footy league second division isni’t it? Next there’ll be delistings from certain clubs because old mate got a new job and has to move interstate, or so and so from St Kilda will need to have a year off because he can’t commit to Thursday training. Please be serious.
6. Daniher got to Brisbane without too much fuss, the Bombers get pick 7 for him, which is exactly half the value of what Sydney offered last year. Might just be the missing piece for the Roys if he can stay on the park, and given the Lions medicos are ex-Essendon and that they know all about his history, then every chance he kicks 50 and looks a million bucks next season.
7. Geelong and the GWS will take the inevitable trade down to the wire I feel, that’s a hard price to work out. Essendon didn’t match Brisbane for Daniher, so they have said their All-Australian key forward is worth just one first rounder in essence. But the Giants will be suggesting their All-Australian key forward’s worth double, or perhaps more. And they know the Cats can do it, with the big currency West Coast paid last year for Tim Kelly there for all to see. It gets done, but in the final hours for sure.
8. Interesting that the Giants match for Jeremy Cameron, but then have declared they will trade in Jesse Hogan. Geelong now know its not just about the Giants wanting better compo, but that with Hogan coming they’ll now need to trade him out, so their leverage at the table has gone. If they hadn’t had pursued Hogan yet, the Cats were in a spot of bother, but now, with the Hogan development, the Cats hold all the cards now. Watch GWS get unders now; poor, poor strategy.
9. Ben Brown will be at Melbourne, I think it’s a great fit, on the proviso that the 2018 Dees can repeat themselves, somewhat, with a 2017-2019 Ben Brown to kick too. But if Melbourne’s anything like the last 24 months, I don’t think it matters whether the ex-Kangaroo can replicate his 60-goal a season efforts or not.
10. Collingwood will keep Jordan De Goey and more than likely Adam Treloar as well. I know the media game from those dedicated yet niche platforms have been heavy on the scrutiny and criticism, but if the Pies and Trelaor have spoken about the whole thing as civilly as you’d hope, then if Treloar wants to give it a crack sticking with the Pies next year, then all parties will get together and give it a shot. It’ll attract doubters all offseason and into next season, but hey, if the end product is good form for Collingwood on match day, in reality the whole thing will be a non-story.
11. The idea even today that Buckley called Treloar that the senior group don’t want him, please, with the prospect that he may still be there next year you don’t’ do that, unless we have a real issue with his training or something else off field, which we have no reason to believe. Someone’s feeding the media mail on this, and it’s got mayo-flavoured Chinese whispers all over it. No doubt Collingwood may be totally incompetent, but the media doesn’t know or want to know the full story here, and to this point I think McClure’s article reigns supreme over all the other “my sources tell me”
Treloar and his partner think it could work. But its not difficult to empathise with the Pies’ who may think that it probably couldn’t. Don’t forget, when the story broke that his partner had signed with the Firebirds, immediately everyone’s response was how can he not go to Qld with her. So its not unreasonable to see the Pies’ position on this. And if you believe McClure’s article, as opposed to say Jay Clark on Triple M this weekend, its far less “we don’t want you, piss off”, it’s a far more supportive “we’ve got doubts on this mate, it’ll be your call but we’d be totally onboard with you moving on, it would help us out too, but if you wanna stick with us then we’ll get around you.” You won’t read that narrative in the press, not because this website goes for Collingwood, but because it’s far less sexy clickbait let me tell you.
12. If St Kilda can get Jack Higgins, that’ll be the second of two great additions so far after getting Brad Crouch in as well. I think Higgins alongside Butler up forward would be tremendous. Then if they were to have the cap space to nibble at Tom McDonald, I wouldn’t be against that. Rather unfancied and hardly Wayne Carey, but someone who can be the second fiddle for Max King, I think he would come at a rather cheap cost especially if the Dees need him out as they bring in Ben Brown. Plus, as shown in the semi-final, the Saints can get a bit thin for key back stocks, to be able to send McDonald back would be an asset. I don’t think McDonald is the final piece of the puzzle, but given his availability and cost, I think why not. A moneyball move at its best.
13. This time last year I suspected Carlton-Collingwood for the 2020 Grand Final, why not, and yeah the Blues showed promise but a mile off it, and the best the Pies looked all year was probably the set Bucks too off Molik mid-year. So with that in mind, what’s an equally preposterous statement for next season? Two of St Kilda, Gold Coast and Carlton make top four, West Coast for the bottom four, and two of Collingwood, Giants and the Dogs miss the finals altogether as well.
14. Denis Pagan on the weekend, bloody hell. His involvement in horses is so at the hobby level only his training license only permits him to train horses he owns, he isn’t even allowed to train for others yet. However, a horse he picked up for a song, that he trains himself, salutes in the $1.2m Group 1 Victoria Derby on the weekend. What a story. One of the sporting stories of the year. 22 years after coaching his second flag at North, and now this.
15. LA Dodgers win the World Series last week, really entertaining end to the baseball season, but have to call out the way Justin Turner finished Game 6. The Dodgers third baseman had a covid test come back positive mid game, so he was pulled out and the match continued unbeknowns, which was strange in itself, but guess who said ‘fuck you’ to the virus by getting amongst the celebrations once his team clinched the title only a few innings later? Only in America, right?
16. Bledisloe Cup, gotta put the hand up, the ambitious call that this would be the year the duck would be broken – yeah nah, horridly wrong call. Drawn test in Wellington, good signs, as good a loss at Eden Park we’ve seen in a decade, not good, but still kinda positive, the greatest margin ever in a game between the two nations in a thumping loss in Sydney over the weekend – bloody tragic. Yeah we’re not winning the Bledisloe back off New Zealand for a long time to come, forget about it.
17. For those who miss their sport, enjoyed the festival of options September and October gave us, NRL’s three-game State of Origin kicks off Wednesday, with games the following two Wednesdays as well. Both teams missing some big names due to it being end-of-season but expect the Blues go really well, much stronger on paper. But, Wayne Bennett back as coach of the Maroons, don’t be shocked if he causes an upset along the way. Not sure he wins the series, but instead of it being 3-0 Blues in a canter, the wildly old coach will pinch a game for Queensland somewhere I expect. Should be good viewing; get in front of it if you can.
18. American sport lovers, NBA is looking at a shortened season to tip off around Christmas time, there’s plenty who think it needs to be mid-January but being so thirsty for cash by then watch them make a December start work instead. NHL, that’s got New Year’s Day written all over it, again, shortened season, neither sport wants to impede on the Tokyo Olympics, which look right on track at this stage.
19. Euros next year, well, I suspect that can go ahead, but not in its current guise. Europe’s winter looks like it’ll be rough as guts, so is there a way a Euros tournament can be held during their summer next year, sure, but unless covid starts to improve out of sight end of their winter towards Easter time, it’s going to be a bubble set up or something if they want to get away with it. Can imagine UEFA would have a lot of underwear to wash right now, let’s say that.
20. But what a year. The NRL and AFL showed the way, impressive stuff, Cricket Australia somehow revealed they were broke even though the virus never touched them, the NHL and NBA got successful bubbles going to end their seasons, baseball almost fucked there’s but awarded a winner too. We lost the Olympics, but we’ll get that next year and what a party that will be for the planet.
Novak Djokovic won fuckwit of the week honours, twice, Lewis Hamilton is too good with or without covid, but at least the virus got us back to the older, glory tracks of yesteryear, last night at Imola for the first time in 20 years case in point, and a Holden won Bathurst in its penultimate year in the sport, how’s that, 2022, it’ll be Camaro vs. Mustang?
Good clubs even in pandemics, Richmond wins flags no matter the situation, same with the Melbourne Storm, the ultimate professionals, Bayern Munich crunched club football in Europe in again another win for the minnows, and even though Tom Brady is a million years old and now playing for the Buccs, he’s still got it, and aren’t Pats fans loving that.
Been a rubbish year, been a real shit year, but for the Kiwis, they’ve been without the virus for some time now, us in Australia, we’re maybe only weeks away from following suit, and as for sport, in the times between the bat soup kicking this all off to where we are now, it’s got us through.
So whether you go for North Melbourne or Liverpool, the Brisbane Broncos or the LA Lakers, its at least been a good year on the couch.
That all said, I’ll see you at the MCG on Boxing Day.