South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. North Queensland Cowboys (TV style) – My call (Round 19, 2017)

Yesterday, I commentated (from my home) the Round 19 match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the North Queensland Cowboys, which was held up at Barlow Park in Cairns on a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon.

The Rabbitohs were desperate for a victory, and realistically needed to win at least six from their final eight matches if they wanted to play in the finals.

For the Cowboys, it was all about proving their premiership credentials without Johnathan Thurston, who had won five of their nine matches without their inspirational skipper in 2017.

Overall, the Cowboys led the head-to-head record between the two teams, winning 16 of their 31 matches against the Rabbitohs, with the Rabbitohs winning 14, with a single draw between the two teams.

However, the North Queensland Cowboys have won seven of their past eight meetings against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, including the only previous meeting at Barlow Park last year.

I hope you enjoy listening to the match and my commentary!

Canberra Raiders vs. St George Illawarra Dragons (TV style) – My call (Round 19, 2017)

Earlier tonight, I called the Round 19 match in the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) season between the Canberra Raiders and the St George Illawarra Dragons.

It was a crucial match for the Raiders, who sat six points outside of the top eight, who had lost their last four matches, and needing to win at least six of their last eight matches in the regular season to make the finals. In six out of the last 10 years, 28 points has been enough for a team to finish eighth, and play finals footy.

It was a crucial match for the Dragons, who had lost three of their last four, and six of their last nine matches.

However, looking at the match-ups between the two teams, although the Dragons had won their last four matches against the Raiders, they have only won six of their last 23 encounters against the Raiders.

Overall, the Canberra Raiders have won 16 of their 27 matches against the St George Illawarra Dragons, while at GIO Stadium, the Raiders have won 11 of their past 15 matches against the Dragons.

Would the Raiders claim a vital victory, or would the Dragons cruel the finals hopes of the Raiders?

Find out here, and enjoy my sports commentary!

My review of the 2017 State Of Origin series

Queensland have done it again!

The Maroons have won their 11th State Of Origin series in 12 years by defeating New South Wales by 22-6 in front of a record crowd of 52,540 people at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Coming into the series, many people thought the Blues were a massive chance of ending Queensland’s dominant run, and after a 28-4 victory in Game One at Suncorp Stadium, many more people were convinced that New South Wales could claim just their second series victory in 12 years.

And, despite suffering an earth-shattering 18-16 loss in Game Two at ANZ Stadium, and the criticism of the Blues second half performance, many experts still thought New South Wales could still win the series, especially when Johnathan Thurston was ruled out of Game Three for the Maroons after producing one of the most courageous performances of all-time, after severely injuring his shoulder early in the match, but played the entire match without showing too much of the effects of the injury, kicking the winning conversion attempt to see Queensland home.

However, despite the ongoing optimism surrounding the Blues heading into Game Three, they just could not deliver! Why?

To work out why New South Wales have lost their 11th State Of Origin series in 12 years, we need to look at the long-term set-up of both the Maroons and the Blues to establish the differences between the two states.

Back in 2006, the great Mal Meninga became the coach of Queensland, and while most people see the role of a head coach as coaching and managing the playing staff of a sporting team, Meninga saw the role of coaching the Maroons, the team that he once represented on a total of 32 occasions in State Of Origin, as a role much greater than coaching the team itself.

Meninga wanted to create a culture that made whoever was selected not only better players, but better people. He wanted the players to understand the past, understand the history of the team and the state, the history of the people who came before the current group, how they came to being a Queensland player, what they were willing to sacrifice, how desperate the players of the past were to win and give their absolute best for the Maroons to get the players of the modern era to understand that they had a tradition to uphold, and that they couldn’t afford to let their mates, their families and their state down to such a level that it spurred them onto such a level of dominance over New South Wales that is unparalleled in the history of the game that level.

Meninga also controlled the people that he allowed into the team set-up, and he didn’t want anyone who could, and possibly would ruin the set-up of what he created, but also what the state created in the years before today.

Meninga is now doing the same with the Australian rugby league team.

However, New South Wales has not been able to match their fierce rivals as far as this is concerned, and the Blues have copped a lot of criticism as a result.

Andrew Johns, who played 23 times for the Blues, has been by far the most scathing in his critique of the team, and of its culture, explaining on the post-match coverage on Nine’s Wide World Of Sports that the New South Wales team don’t get it, and don’t understand what it takes to win at this level.

The coach of New South Wales, Laurie Daley, has also played 23 times for New South Wales, and has won 13 games as a player, the same as Johns.

So, what can Johns see that Daley can’t to get New South Wales inspired to win?

Vision.

Johns, like Meninga, has a rare gift that not too many people in any walk of life have.

He knows within himself what it takes to achieve success, and he knows what he wants to put in place, and where he wants to place the puzzle pieces, and how he wants everything to be organised, and he wants it organised exactly the way that he likes it.

However, most people, whether that is in sport, the media, or even in another industry struggle to get these kind of people, but the organisations who have embraced these kind of people, and keep asking them to be involved over a long period of time have had a huge amount of success.

Daley is a great role model, and a great contributor to rugby league in New South Wales, he doesn’t have vision in the same way as Johns does. Johns, while he can ruffle a few feathers if you don’t treat him in the right way, he always has everyone’s best interests in his mind.

Johns has the best interests of the Blues in what he is saying and how he is speaking!

Sadly, most people across rugby league in New South Wales across all levels of the game, including the media, simply do not get it!

And, for the entire game of rugby league, that is just sickening!

 

And another thing

I hope you enjoying reading my previews of Game One, Game Two, and Game Three, which were published on The Roar!

 

2017 British Grand Prix Preview

The 10th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend at the Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire in England.

Sebastian Vettel comes into the British Grand Prix with the championship lead on 171 points, 20 points ahead of championship rival Lewis Hamilton (151 points), after the Ferrari driver finished second at the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend, pushing eventual winner, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, all the way.

Hamilton lost ground to Vettel in the championship standings after being forced to take a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change in his Mercedes. Starting from eighth on the grid, Hamilton managed to make up four positions before running out of time to pass Daniel Ricciardo for the final spot on the podium.

The winner of the Austrian Grand Prix, Bottas, is third in the world drivers’ championship on 136 points, 35 points behind Vettel, and in some people’s eyes, is starting to look like a serious championship contender, but if he is not considered by people as a serious championship contender, Bottas is at least stealing critical points away from Vettel on the days that Hamilton is having a struggle.

Ricciardo is fourth in the world championship in his Red Bull on 107 points, 64 points behind Vettel in the world championship after achieving his fifth-consecutive podium at the Austrian Grand Prix after holding off a fast-charging Hamilton, and although he isn’t a serious championship contender in 2017, Ricciardo has been in the right place at the right time to pick up the pieces when more fancied rivals are having a tough day, or weekend, to grab some solid results.

Someone who should be a championship contender is Kimi Räikkönen, but he is struggling in fifth position in the world championship on 83 points after finishing fifth at the Austrian Grand Prix. He is under serious pressure to keep his seat at Ferrari for 2018, and with a number of rising stars putting in some great performances in lesser machinery, his career could be coming to an end at the end of 2017.

Sergio Pérez is sixth in the world championship on 50 points, and has been putting in some solid performances in his Force India, just like his teammate Esteban Ocon, who sits in eighth in the drivers’ championship on 39 points.

However, it is the man who sits in seventh position in the championship that has had all the bad luck that you could imagine! Max Verstappen is having a horror run, with his third retirement in a row, and his fifth retirement of the season, which is precisely his fifth retirement in the last seven races.

Verstappen sits on 45 points in the world championship after finishing just four races out of the opening nine rounds. He has had problems ranging from a brake failure in Bahrain, to damage from a first lap collision with Räikkönen in Spain, to an electrical issue in Canada, to an oil pressure issue in Azerbaijan, to more opening lap collision damage in Austria.

In addition to this, Verstappen had misfire problems with his engine/powerunit in qualifying in China, which contributed to him starting 16th on the grid, which he recovered from spectacularly after a brilliant start, picking up nine places on the opening lap, which was the catalyst to his awesome drive to third, beating his teammate Ricciardo in the process.

So, Verstappen has only had three weekends where qualifying and/or the race hasn’t been interrupted by a serious issue. He needs a result this weekend to keep within touch of the front-runners in this world championship.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes still lead the way on 287 points, 23 points ahead of Ferrari (254 points). Red Bull are third on 152 points, while Force India are fourth on 89 points.

Looking at who will be strong at Silverstone this weekend, the fast-flowing nature of the circuit combined with a couple of long straights, the Wellington and Hangar straights to be precise, should suit the long-wheelbase of the Mercedes, although you would expect Ferrari to be a strong package at Silverstone, and you cannot rule out Red Bull here at a track which has suited them in the past.

However, only four of the current drivers have won the British Grand Prix, and while no one expects the winner of the 2006 and 2011 race, Fernando Alonso, to challenge in his McLaren-Honda, the other three drivers are all in race-winning machinery, and are capable of grabbing the crucial 25 points that are on offer.

Kimi Räikkönen, the 2007 winner looks the least likely given his form, but what is most is most surprising is that Sebastian Vettel has only won the British Grand Prix once, all the way back in 2009, the last race on the old layout in his first year with Red Bull. He will be looking to give Ferrari their first win at Silverstone since 2011.

Lewis Hamilton, on the otherhand, has a wonderful record at the British Grand Prix, winning the race four times, including the last three editions. He will be looking to join Jim Clark and Alain Prost as a five-time winner of the British Grand Prix, as well as become the first driver since Clark to win the British Grand Prix four years in a row.

And, if Hamilton grabs pole position on Saturday for the British Grand Prix, he will move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 career pole positions in Formula One.

So my tip this weekend is for a fifth British Grand Prix victory for Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 9am and 1pm local time (6pm and 10pm AEST).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 10am and 1pm local time (7pm and 10pm AEST).

The 52 lap race is on Sunday from 1pm local time (10pm AEST).

My thoughts on Jarrod Mullen and the issue of drugs in sport

It has almost been six months since Jarrod Mullen received the news that he tested positive to the anabolic-androgenic steroid Drostanolone, and then subsequently received a four year ban from rugby league on the 3rd of May, back-dated to the 17th of January, when he tested positive to the banned substance, after his B-sample came back positive on the 7th of March.

Mullen in June spoke exclusively with Seven News about his drugs suspension, and explained during the interview that he received an injection from an unnamed physiotherapist had he had known and trusted for a decade, and explained that he did not intentionally take a banned substance to help repair a long-standing left hamstring injury, which he originally injured at the National Rugby League (NRL) Auckland Nines in February 2014.

Mullen continued to re-injure his left hamstring, which only allowed him to play 41 top-level matches (40 matches in the NRL for the Newcastle Knights, plus a game for Country up against City) between the start of 2014 and the end of 2016.

However, Mullen explained in the exclusive interview with Seven News back in June that he wanted to take full responsibility for what had happened, and didn’t want to blame anyone else, despite having the opportunity to tell the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) the unnamed physiotherapist who gave him the banned substance to have his drugs suspension cut in half.

A month since Jarrod Mullen did that exclusive interview with Seven News, his mother Leeann Mullen has sat down for an exclusive interview with 1233 ABC Newcastle’s Craig Hamilton, talking about the impact that his suspension has had on their family.

The major things to come out of the interview is the emotional toll the positive drugs test has had on the Mullen family, including Jarrod Mullen himself, the severity of the punishment, the lack of a response from Newcastle Knights Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Matthew Gidley to a letter from Leeann Mullen, and the lack of payment to Jarrod Mullen after his B-sample came back positive, despite most media organisations reporting that Mullen was still being paid by the Newcastle Knights.

Leeann explained that her son’s drugs suspension had taken a great toll on them as a family, although that Mullen has remained strong and brave until recently in regards to dealing with his new reality. Leeann also mentioned that she hasn’t attended an NRL match this year because it has not been the same, although Jarrod’s father Steve Mullen, who played 22 first grade games in the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) between 1981 and 1985, playing both for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the Western Suburbs Magpies, has attended two matches this year.

Leeann was also frustrated that ASADA and the NRL had not taken into account her son’s good behaviour, and image as a good citizen within the game of rugby league, especially taking into account his considerable charity work, in determining the penalty Jarrod Mullen would receive for taking the anabolic-androgenic steroid Drostanolone, after Jarrod thought he was being injected with a drug that was an amino acid.

Leeann also said in the exclusive interview with 1233 ABC Newcastle that she was disappointed that Newcastle Knights CEO Matthew Gidley had not responded to the letter she had sent to him, or stated a reason why he has not responded to Leeann’s letter, although NRL CEO Todd Greenberg had responded promptly to the letter she had sent to him.

Leeann was also angry that most of the media reported that Jarrod Mullen was still being paid after the B-sample came back positive when that was simply not the case, and she also mentioned that her son wasn’t paid for the exclusive interview that he did with Seven News.

Looking at the issue of drugs in sport on a whole, many people have come up to this writer, including members of this writer’s family and said that it is impossible to understand the World Anti-Doping Code from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), saying that you need to be a pharmacist or a chemist to understand what drugs contain what substances, and whether these drugs are on the official prohibited list or not, even though I have said to these people that it is the responsibility of the athlete to know what he or she is taking, and this is stated clearly throughout the World Anti-Doping Code.

However, these people are right, and even people who are involved in sport are struggling to understand what drugs and substances are on the banned list.

For someone like myself, someone who is trying to break into the media industry, wanting to become a sports commentator, sports journalist, and/or a sports writer, you would expect me to know, as a prerequisite, what is, and isn’t on the prohibited list, and I, among most other people, most of them more experienced than I am, would struggle just to name and pronounce many of the substances listed on the prohibited list.

If the athletes themselves, the organisations that they are employed to, as well as the medical professionals and physiotherapists who are treating the athletes do not know what is banned, and what isn’t banned, then what chance do we have?

Luckily, there is a website that can help all of us determine what is prohibited and what isn’t prohibited. It is called Global DRO, and there are links to where you are playing your sport, whether it is in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland, Japan, or somewhere else in the world.

You check what drugs are or aren’t allowed through these links, depending on who is using the drug, whether it is an athlete, coach, pharmacist, medical professional, parent, sports administrator, and/or other parties who may be involved in sport, the sport that you are participating in, and the nation you have purchased the drug from.

After this, all you have to do is type in the drug or substance that you are taking, and then press the search button. It will then give you some options to look at. Make sure it is the drug or substance that you are looking for, click on that particular link, and it will then tell you if it is prohibited or not in and out of competition, and any additional information as to what methods the drug or substance can or cannot be taken.

However, if you are competing in a sport, and you need to take a drug to treat a medical condition, or illness that falls on the prohibited list, you may apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), and if granted, may use that particular drug without penalty.

However, going back to Jarrod Mullen, we all feel sorry for his plight, and what him and his family are going through, and even though we all accept that he broke the rules of the World Ant-Doping Code, we can all understand how tough it is for all people involved to know what is or isn’t a banned substance, and when these substances can or cannot be taken.

However, no one can accept the fact that Newcastle Knights CEO Matthew Gidley, or even Newcastle Knights chairman Brian McGuigan haven’t responded to Deeann Mullen’s letter, and it shows how poor the management is within the struggling NRL club.

As we all know, success starts from the front office, and given the Knights have won only seven of their last 60 matches (one draw, 52 losses), you can judge for yourself how well the front office at the Newcastle Knights is tracking.

In my view, not very well at all, and no wonder the coach in Nathan Brown, and the players are struggling to deal with the pressure that experts and fans are placing on the club.

Both Gidley and McGuigan have got to have a long hard look at themselves, and understand that they aren’t doing a good enough job of running the club.

If they can’t do that, I think they should step aside, and let someone else who knows what they are doing run this beleaguered sporting organisation.

 

Please note that the digital edition of the Prohibited List is for easy reference only; in the event of any conflict between the digital version and the official version, the official version shall prevail.

 

 

 

My thoughts on Bernard Tomic

Throughout his career to date, Australian professional male tennis player Bernard Tomic has come under plenty of criticism, some of it warranted and some of it not so warranted.

However, his comments after losing in the opening round at Wimbledon in straight sets against 27th seed Mischa Zverev, implying that he was bored with the game of tennis, and not enjoying being out on the tour, has really got a lot of people worked up, saying that he is a disgrace to tennis, and that he should not be on the tour if he is not enjoying the game.

Others, albeit only a few, have come out in support of Tomic, saying that he is speaking honestly about most players on tour, and their feelings about the enjoyment they have playing the game of tennis as a profession.

Sponsors have come out not in support of his comments, with HEAD cancelling the sponsorship arrangement that they had with Tomic, despite sticking with Maria Sharapova during her 15 month drugs suspension.

However, what seems to be missing from all of the coverage of Tomic’s trials and tribulations is the cause of what is causing him to lose motivation for the game of tennis?

Does Tomic have a mental health issue or illness that he is not willing to reveal?

Does Tomic have a physical health issue, illness or injury that he is not willing to reveal?

Is there something happening within his private life away from the tennis court, such as with himself, his family, and/or his relatives that he is not willing to reveal?

No one that has been close to Bernard Tomic, or has anything to do with him during his life and career to date has said anything about his state of mind specifically, and whether he has some kind of issue that has been diagnosed.

However, throughout his career, there has been a history of hate from within the hierarchy of Tennis Australia towards Tomic, his father John Tomic, and towards the Tomic family, something which has happened for years.

Tennis Australia have hated that John Tomic has wanted to be so involved in the career of his son and of his daughter, Sara Tomic, and have wanted more control over Bernard Tomic’s career and progression.

However, Tennis Australia have failed to understand Tomic as a person, and as a tennis player. They have tried to change him into playing like everyone else, wanting him to embrace the training methods and techniques that most professional athletes, let alone tennis players.

It is clear to me looking in as a outsider that Tomic is not a great gym trainer, and that the gym is not the best place to improve his athletic ability. The best place to improve Tomic as an athlete is outside in the open.

Long distance running, repeated sprints (simulated to tennis conditions), agility testing, hill running among other exercise training, and less training in the gym.

Tomic is not a tennis player that was built by a machine, he is an organic player, a player with unique skills which have the ability to take him to the top of world tennis if he was trained in the right manner and fashion.

However, Tennis Australia have continued to ignore him, continued to not understand him, and has led Bernard Tomic to the position where he is currently today.

A man who is totally lost touch with himself and the game that he once loved.

Every organisation in any profession in any industry must understand and learn to embrace people with difference, learn what makes them tick, and allow them to develop in a way that suits them, not in the way that necessarily suits the particular organisation in question, particularly the short-term obligations of the particular organisation in question, and not threatening their dignity, or their sense of place.

In my opinion, Tennis Australia is a sporting organisation that is completely underachieving in this regard, and have for a long time with a number of different players, players who had huge amounts of ability, but were let down by an organisation that never tried to understand them.

I don’t think they know that!

Sydney Roosters vs. South Sydney Rabbitohs (TV style) – My call (Round 18, 2017)

Last night, I called the Round 18 match in the National Rugby League (NRL) between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Coming into this match, the Rabbitohs were looking for a win to keep themselves within touching distance of the top eight, while the Roosters were looking for a win to keep themselves in the top four.

In their 215 meetings previous to this one, the Rabbitohs had won 112, the Roosters 98, and there have been five draws. However, at Allianz Stadium, the Roosters have won 23 out of the 36 matches they have played against the Rabbitohs, with the Rabbitohs winning 13.

I hope you enjoy listening to my sports commentary!

2017 Austrian Grand Prix Preview

The ninth round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.

Sebastian Vettel leads the world drivers’ championship for Ferrari on 153 points, extending his lead over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton (139 points) to 14 points after both finishing off the podium in Azerbaijan in fourth and fifth respectively, making it the first race since the Malaysian Grand Prix last year where neither Vettel or Hamilton finished on the podium.

Both the championship protagonists had problems in Azerbaijan, with Vettel receiving a 10 second STOP-AND-GO penalty after causing a collision with Hamilton, while Hamilton had to unexpectedly pit to change his headrest after it wasn’t attached properly after the red flag midway through the race.

The penalty for Vettel received a lot of criticism for various media sources close to Formula One, as well as teams, drivers, and legends of the sport.

I have stated my opinion on the incident between Vettel and Hamilton last week and while I thought Vettel should have been disqualified for breaches of Article 27.4, and Article 39.8 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, I can understand the difficulty stewards had in handing out a penalty that fit the crime due to the penalty-points system that has been introduced into Formula One in recent years, and thought it was the better way of handling the incident, although many people would disagree with this.

Valtteri Bottas is third in the world championship for Mercedes on 111 points after salvaging a miraculous second after being a lap down after two laps after a tyre puncture after a collision with Kimi Räikkönen.

Räikkönen drops to fifth in the world championship on 73 points after having a myriad of issues in Azerbaijan, eventually retiring with an oil leak. He needs to respond this with a podium (at worst), otherwise his place at Ferrari for 2018 will be under scrutiny.

The man in fourth position in the world championship is Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo (92 points) after a remarkable victory on the streets of Baku, taking his fifth race win of his Formula One career, and capping off a run of four-consecutive podiums.

While he has never had to best car throughout his Formula One career so far, Ricciardo has this innate ability to put himself in at the right place, at the right time to pick up the pieces if rivals have problems, and run with it!

Talking about fierce rivals, Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen cannot a trick right now in his Red Bull, suffering his fourth retirement of the season, and his second retirement in a row at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, growing ever frustrated at his team’s inability to produce a reliable car.

Verstappen looked like a genuine contender for a race victory in Baku for most of the weekend until encountering issues with his car. Red Bull have got to sort out their reliability issues with both cars if they want to make sure they keep third place in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of Force India.

Before I touch on the Constructors’ Championship, I would like to give a special mention to Lance Stroll for his first podium in Formula One. Stroll drove a very mature race to become the second-youngest driver to finish on a Formula One podium, and while he is not the finished product yet, he does have some untapped potential and deserves to be persevered with.

In terms of the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (250 points) lead by 24 points over Ferrari (226 points), with both Red Bull (137 points) and Force India (79 points) comfortably in third and fourth respectively. There is a good scrap for fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship with Williams (37 points), Toro Rosso (33 points), Haas (21 points), and Renault (18 points) all within 19 points of each other, with Sauber (five points) and McLaren (two points) battling for ninth and 10th in the Constructors’ Championship after Fernando Alonso scored McLaren’s first points of the season in Azerbaijan.

Looking at who will be strong at the Red Bull Ring, on paper Mercedes looks like the better package, who have all the ingredients for success in Spielberg, with a strong powerunit, a well-balanced car through the quick corners and changes of direction, and decent traction out of the slow to medium speed corners.

Ferrari also look close to Mercedes on paper, while it will be interesting to see whether Red Bull will have a good package in Austria to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari.

I am tipping a Mercedes victory, with Lewis Hamilton leading home a Mercedes one-two finish.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 10am and 2pm local time (6pm and 10pm AEST).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 11am and 2pm local time (7pm and 10pm AEST).

The 71 lap race is on Sunday from 2pm local time (10pm AEST).

My view on the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association

The pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) has escalated to a level that no one had expected, or wanted it to go to.

However, with the June 30 deadline already passed, 230 cricketers in Australia are unemployment, and while the very best players, particularly the best male players in Australia are unlikely to feel the pinch of not being paid, the ongoing dispute over Cricket Australia’s desire to make changes to the revenue sharing model.

In most businesses, a revenue sharing model is the distribution of profits (and losses) between the stakeholders of a business, which could be general partners, employees, or between companies in some kind of business alliance or partnership.

The players in this circumstance are not only employees of Cricket Australia, they are also general partners of Cricket Australia, the major product for Cricket Australia and of the game of cricket, and the ability to generate profits, such as from ticket sales for matches, particularly big matches, such as international matches (Test Match cricket, One Day International (ODI) cricket, and Twenty20 (T20) International cricket), as well as domestic cricket, including the Big Bash League.

However, if the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the ACA continues on for a longer period of time, then the ability of Cricket Australia to generate profits from their major product, the players, will become close to non-existent, and this puts at grave risk the Tour of Bangladesh, the ODI series in India, and The Ashes series against England at home in Australia.

Cricket Australia’s motive for wanting to change the revenue sharing model is the need in their view to pour more money into grassroots cricket, and junior development programs, but at the expense of domestic male cricketers, the players who aren’t on the Contracted Players List at Cricket Australia, and female players, with payments increases capped at 18 percent and 150 percent respectively out of a total surplus revenue share for the whole game (both men’s women’s players, including contracted players at Cricket Australia) of up to $20 million.

The motive of the ACA for wanting to keep the revenue sharing model the way that it has been is about keeping on a path that strives towards equality in Australian cricket, and making sure that players at both international and domestic level in both the men’s and women’s games receive their fair share of the monetary pie. They also believe there is already more than enough funding going into grassroots cricket, and junior development programs at that level. They also believe that Cricket Australia is giving them little to no details on their plans for the future of Australian cricket.

Looking at both sides, I think we all agree that a lot more money should be put into junior development to help the stars of tomorrow.

However, should more money be placed into grassroots cricket, and what do you define as grassroots cricket?

Is it grade cricket in the major capital cities of Australia? Is it grade cricket in the major regional cities of Australia? Is it grade cricket in the regional towns of Australia? Or is it junior cricket across all cities and towns in Australia?

If grassroots cricket refers to junior cricket development, then everyone would agree investing money into that would be beneficial for everyone in Australian cricket. If grassroots cricket refers to grade cricket across all cities and towns in Australia, I don’t think you can invest vasts amounts of money into grassroots cricket.

Both sides of the pay dispute know that for a player to make it all the way to the top, and potentially play for Australia in the game of cricket, they must be identified at a young age, and both sides of the argument know that there is a very, very slim chance that a mature-aged cricketer is going to come up from lower grade cricket to end up suddenly playing international cricket for Australia.

So, it makes it all the more astounding that Cricket Australia hasn’t clarified to the ACA what they meant by the term “grassroots cricket” so that the ACA can readjust or reaffirm their side of the argument in terms of what the players want from the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

However, the biggest crux of the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the ACA is to do with the revenue share that domestic cricketers and female players could receive from the total surplus revenue share for the entire game.

Cricket Australia want payment increases capped at 18 percent (domestic male cricketers) and 150 percent (female cricketers) out of the $20 million surplus revenue share. The domestic payment cap doesn’t include cricketers playing in the Big Bash League, who would receive a 42 percent pay increase under Cricket Australia’s because they see it as the biggest revenue maker for them.

However, the Big Bash League has made a loss of $33 million over the last five years, and the host television broadcaster of the Big Bash League, Network Ten, is currently in receivership after being placed into administration last month, and at this stage, logic suggests its contract to broadcast the Big Bash League will not be renewed at the end of the coming season.

Though, that is not the reason why the ACA is furious about the cap on player payment increases.

The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) value domestic cricket, and feel that the Sheffield Shield and the Domestic One Day Cup is the best way to produce the best international cricketers, and believe the cricketers who primarily play at this level deserve to be paid their fair share, more than the 18 percent Cricket Australia says it should be.

In addition to this, the ACA feels that the player payment cap increases for female players shouldn’t be at 150 percent, because they want male and female players to have an equal say in the way the game of cricket is being run in Australia. They want to be equal partners in the game of cricket at all levels, and this what the talk about being partners in the game of cricket in Australia is all about!

It is not about Cricket Australia and the ACA feeling like they are equal partners in Australian cricket, because Cricket Australia is still and will remain the governing body of cricket in this country, but the ACA wants the players at all different levels, and of all different genders to be paid and treated equally.

On the otherhand, I think Cricket Australia is trying to send a message to the domestic male cricketers of Australia to think about playing first class cricket overseas, particularly in England during the Australian winter, to improve their games if you want to challenge for Australian selection.

However, there is no way Cricket Australia can get away with treating female cricketers the way that they are, and the ACA is holding them to account on that one!

However, the current pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the ACA affects more than just the players, it effects all broadcasters and narrowcasters, particularly television and live streaming providers.

In terms of live streaming providers that show primarily the lower levels of cricket, such as the Sheffield Shield, the Women’s National Cricket League and the matches of the Women’s Big Bash League that are not shown on television, the way that Cricket Australia is valuing domestic male players and female players by giving them a smaller share of the monetary pie (in their proposal) should have these narrowcasters alarmed!

Narrowcasters, or live streaming providers, who are already struggling to generate money to survive, despite many of them saying that they are growing, will be wondering, along with current, and prospective business partners, if live streaming cricket competitions that are not being valued by the game’s governing body in Australia, even if the ACA wins their debate over Cricket Australia, is the best way to go about their business? It is caveat emptor on that one!

However, in terms of the television broadcasters, their deals to broadcast in the game of cricket in Australia all comes to an end after the upcoming season, and things aren’t looking good for Cricket Australia on that front.

Network Ten, as I explained earlier, look set to lose the rights of the Big Bash League due to issues at the besieged broadcaster, but also because of the growing value of the competition, despite it making a loss, which may reflect badly on Network Ten more so than anyone else.

The Seven Network is currently under contract to broadcast the Australian Open (tennis) and Australian Open Series (tennis) until the end of 2019, so it is unlikely they will bid for any broadcasting rights to show any form of cricket in Australia.

The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) are also unlikely to be able to afford the sort of money Cricket Australia wants to broadcast cricket on television in Australia.

That just leaves the Nine Network, Fox Sports and Optus Sport as the only television broadcasters who could afford to cover cricket, and with the anti siphoning list currently the way that it is, the Nine Network is only suitable candidate to cover international cricket in Australia, as well as the Big Bash League.

However, I don’t think it will end up this way.

I suspect there may be changes to the anti siphoning list for the coverage of international cricket in Australia to allow competition for broadcasting rights so that Cricket Australia gets the money that it wants from the rights for the next four years or longer (depending on the length of the deals).

The Nine Network have been urged by financial analysts UBS to consider ending its long-term association with Cricket Australia and the game of cricket due to losses per year of $30-40 million during its current deal of around $500 million ($100 million per year), and explained back in April that “We think it would seem logical for Nine to enter negotiations with the following mindset: i) more cricket content at no additional cost, or ii) to step away from the cricket contract.”

However, with Cricket Australia wanting around $250-300 million for the television broadcasting rights of the Big Bash League, that is unlikely to happen.

So, will the Nine Network step away from covering the game of cricket in Australia?

I don’t think so, but I suspect the Nine Network will have to give up some of the cricket content they have in their current portfolio if they want to broadcast the Big Bash League.

The Nine Network still values Test Match cricket, and is covering Australia’s Ashes Tour to England in 2019, and decided to send their own commentators over to England in 2015 to cover The Ashes series.

So, I think the Nine Network will want to cover test matches in Australia, but I suspect they will have to lose the broadcasting rights to all other international cricket matches in Australia in order to get the Big Bash League, and maybe also the Women’s Big Bash League.

So, what would happen with the rights to one day international (ODI) cricket, Twenty20 international (T20I) cricket, women’s international cricket, and the online/mobile rights for covering cricket in Australia?

For Test Match cricket in Australia, as well as the Big Bash League and the Women’s Big Bash League, I would think it would be logical for the Nine Network to have the online rights through its 9Now service/app, or like they have in recent years, simulcast their coverage on cricket.com.au, and through the Cricket Australia Live App.

As for the rights to ODI cricket, T20I cricket, women’s international cricket, and the online/mobile rights to those three, I suspect Fox Sports and Optus Sport will be in a fierce bidding war for the rights to each of those three, and while I suspect Fox Sports would be the favourite to take the cake on all three, plus online rights through its Foxtel App, Optus Sport have been getting involved in Australian cricket over the last couple of years with addition premium extras and reports on each match, showing matches live in conjunction with the Cricket Australia Live App, and showing classic moments of years gone by.

If Optus Sport wins the rights to any, or likely all three formats/items, plus the online and mobile rights, Optus will need to consider calling a truce with Foxtel to allow Foxtel customers the access to Optus Sport, either by adding them to the existing sports package for a small fee increase, or be sold separately in a different/additional package to Foxtel customers.

If Fox Sports wins the rights ODI cricket, T20I cricket, and women’s international cricket, then I would suspect Optus will get the mobile rights to all cricket in Australia, including Test Match cricket, while Fox Sports would have the online rights to its coverage, plus having access to their coverage via the Cricket Australia Live App.

Another thing that will also need to be considered is whether either Fox Sports and/or Optus Sport would want to show Test Match cricket in Australia, the Big Bash League and the Women’s Big Bash League, particularly if they use their own commentators and score graphics, even though the Nine Network would be the host broadcaster?

All of this could give Cricket Australia the money that it needs in terms of broadcasting rights to then sort out its issues with the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) and the players, who I suspect would want the next television broadcasting deal sorted first so that they know what they are working with in terms of sorting out their pay dispute with Cricket Australia.

However, Cricket Australia want to sort out the pay dispute with the ACA first because they will have no chance of convincing television broadcasters that they should bid for a product where 230 of its key assets are unemployed.

Overall, both parties involved are at fault for where we currently stand right now, and are both situated between a rock and a hard place, putting at grave risk the Tour of Bangladesh, the ODI series in India, and The Ashes series against England at home in Australia.

In conclusion, and in my opinion, you may think that the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the ACA only affects the two parties in question, but as I have explained throughout this article, it is far from the truth, and that is sobering thought for everyone!

 

My view on the Newcastle Knights

Their worst performance of the season.

Shambolic, disastrous, and in terms of their season catastrophic!

The Newcastle Knights 21 point loss to the Wests Tigers in the bottom of the table clash yesterday at McDonald Jones Stadium (33-12) sends the Knights back to the bottom of the National Rugby League (NRL) competition ladder, and raises a number of questions about various aspects of the club.

Do the players have desire?

Do the players have commitment?

Do the players know how to concentrate?

Do the players have mental fortitude?

Do the players know how to push through the pain barrier?

Do the players know how to win?

Does Nathan Brown know how to coach?

Does Nathan Brown know how to lead?

Does Nathan Brown know how to inspire?

Is Nathan Brown the tough-lined leader that you need at a rebuilding club?

Does the club know how to develop quality players with the potential to play 100 to 150 matches (on average) in the NRL?

Is the club’s success from underage competitions, such as the Harold Matthews, SG Ball, and National Youth Competition translating into strong, consistent performances in the NRL over a long period of time?

Can anyone involved in the club definitively say Yes to all of the above questions?

The answer to all of those questions is clearly No! Everyone at the club knows that, from the front office, to the media department, to the corporate department, to the coaching staff, to the players, and to the members and supporters of the club.

In a match that the Newcastle Knights considered in the days leading in to be their “grand final”, to be inexplicably trailing by 20 points to nil after 31 minutes to a team who was on a seven-match losing streak is simply beyond belief.

In my opinion, the team didn’t focus on the result enough, the implications and the ramifications of the result and of their performance.

The team should have been primed for their best performance of the season.

Every team should be primed, every single week of every single season, to produce their best performance of the season, usually an average of an eight out of 10 performance.

The Knights instead produced their worst performance of the year, an epic fail without a shadow of a doubt, and that is the fault of the coach.

Nathan Brown had the responsibility to make sure that his team were ready for their peak performance of the season, and he simply did not achieve this.

The players, judging by the interview with Newcastle fullback Nathan Ross conducted by Mark Gasnier from Fox League, didn’t simply handle the pressure of the week leading into the vital game collectively as a group.

The question is which individual players couldn’t handle the pressure of expectation, and of the occasion?

However, the more poignant question in this discussion is whether the coach handled the pressure of expectation, and of the occasion?

The answer to that question is No, and no one can deny this.

The pressure of coaching a struggling, rebuilding club is eating Nathan Brown alive, suffocating his will, and destroying piece-by-piece any level of credibility that he once had as a rugby league coach.

He must show that this is not the case, lest it be his final head coaching role in the NRL.

Everyone within the club must start waking up to reality, and start living up to their potential, both individually, and as a collective.

Everyone knows what needs to happen!