Sunday, October 31, 2010

Are the Selectors Watching?

The games mightn't be over, and the selection of the team for the First Test against the Poms still a fortnight away, but some worrying signs have emerged in the last two days of two important Sheffield Shield matches.

In Adelaide, South Australia have made Western Australia follow on even though they lost most of the first day to rain. the Croweaters declared at 8/452 after they made Mitchell Johnson and his fellow bowlers look abysmal. Michael Klinger and fellow Victorian import Aiden Blizzard made runs, but it was the composed century by Callum Ferguson that must have made Greg Chappell sit up and take notice. Out of the game for over 12 months due to a knee injury, his first innings in a first class match on his return was this one, and from all reports it was chanceless 129. Ferguson is definitely at the front line when it comes to future Australian Test batsmen, and his chance may not be as far away as some say.
Western Australia were felled for only 295, of which Shaun Marsh scored 137. Michael Hussey was given leave from the Twenty20 match tonight to play this Shield game to find some form. His first ball duck has complicated matters no end. Marcus North needed runs despite his century in India and his 94 not out in the Ryobi Cup match last week. His 10 leaves his position vulnerable - if only the selection panel had the bottle to choose a replacement for him.
Meanwhile, in Brisbane, Usman Khawaja scored 60 in New South Wales first innings on the track that the First Test will be played. Following on from his big double hundred against South Australia two weeks ago, his name must be chiseling its way into Australia's middle order.

Surely it would be folly to take batsmen into the First Test who are palpably out of runs. And surely it is folly not to picked a young batsman while they are in red hot form. The past two days of first class cricket will have given our selectors a lot to think about.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One Day Selection Madness

I confess that I am a little mystified as to the way the Selection panel have gone about picking our team for the one day games against Sri Lanka next week.

OK, their decision to give Xavier Doherty a game is to be applauded. he has arguably been the best spinner in domestic one day cricket over the past two to three seasons, and his figures demanded attention. Whether he succeeds or not is irrelevant - he deserves his chance. John Hastings is another to emerge in the last twelve months, a strong-actioned fast medium bowler who also doesn't mind hitting the ball hard when he gets his chance to bat. Both are good selections.

The area that worries me is the casting aside of the two young gun batsmen, David Warner and Callum Ferguson. The selectors would not doubt suggest I would find it difficult to leave out any of what they consider to be the top order - Watson, Marsh, Ponting, Clarke, White, Hussey and Haddin. Fair point... if they were all in form and all contributing regularly. But they aren't, and surely changes need to be made. Warner has started spectacularly in the T20 rubbish, and his explosion at the top of the order is something Australia could use to their advantage. Ferguson, before his knee injury that robbed him of 12 months, was the finisher in the middle order, and doing it in style. Both are also excellent fieldsmen.

In my mind, replacing Marsh - who did not take his opportunities last summer - and Hussey - who is probably running out of chances - would add a freshness to the batting that isn't always apparent at the moment. With Haddin and Steve Smith and Mitchell Johnson stalking the lower order, it should be viable to put on a good total in all games under most conditions.

We'll soon see how the selected team performs, and get a glimpse of the chances we have of winning a fourth consecutive World Cup.

The full squad is: Ricky Ponting (c), Michael Clarke (vc), Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin, John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Clint McKay, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Shane Watson and Cameron White.

Connecting to the Intranets

OK. Seriously. How f*#king hard is it to try and get your new abode connected to the internet? It has been pretty much six weeks now that we have been trying to sort this out, out it just isn't happening.
Two weeks before moving, we contacted our internet provider, asking them to ensure we'd be right to be connected up again at our new address. They claimed we would have to contact the telephone company to ensure there were enough ADSL ports to do so. When we contacted the telephone company, they informed us that they couldn't tell us, but that our internet provider would be able to tell us. Our internet provider then gave us the same information as they had before. The final solution, at this point, was to disconnect our phone at our house we had sold a few days early, and re-connect at our new house, and that this would ensure we could be connected before moving in.


Having done as asked, our internet provider then got back to us to say that the line had not been upgraded, and that they would need 14 days to get the new home connected. Showing patience, we agreed.
13 days later, I received a call from our internet provider to say that they were unable to connect our home using the current phone line, and that they would have do cancel our account.
Having used a few choice words, I then hunted down the most popular four internet providers in our area that did NOT include our telephone company. After a couple of hours, I discovered that none of them believed that they could connect us to the internet in our current position and with our current equipment. So, I went with the phone company's internet service, and applied online to be connected. At this time, I was informed that it would take up to 14 days for my application to be processed, and for us to be connected to the internet.


Yesterday - 13 days later, I received a call from the phone company's internet arm, informing me that they could not connect our house because there were no ADSL ports available at our phone exchange. He had no alternatives for us to actually connect to the internet, and he informed me that he would have to cancel our ADSL application. I said nothing, given that if I had started, I just would have lost it, and done myself and the guy on the phone no good at all.
Helen took the bull by the horns, got on the phone, and proceeded to spend over an hour with the people at the telephone company. Firstly, she discovered that apparently there WERE ports available for ADSL for us. Secondly, she waded through the plans and accessories available if we were to connect with them. Finally, after an hour (no, I am not kidding... an hour) she was told that they couldn't connect our house, because there was already an order to connect ADSL to our home in their system. Further on we delve, explaining (again) about the phone call I had received over an hour ago, and that they couldn't connect us, and that's why we were calling... so they transfer to connections. Another five minutes explaining the whole story passes, and agreement is reached on the plan (again) and the term (again). Helen is told she will be on hold for ten minutes, after which she is promised everything will be completed.
Ten minutes later, and we are informed that they cannot connect us for three days, but they promise to call us as soon as connection is available.

So, with a business to run and living in a so-called developed country, there is a real chance that we will not be able to access the internet. Can anyone actually believe this? How does our country move forward?
FYI. Internet provider = TPG. Telephone company/possible internet provider = Telstra. Other internet providers = Optus & Dodo.
And my wife is a champion. Over an hour on the phone getting nowhere, and she handled it all beautifully. But don't get on her bad side, because she is more than willing to take her problems all the way to the top of your company...  :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Current iPod Playlist

Night Ranger - Midnight Madness. 80's hard rock in all it's glory. Still some great tracks on here, led by "Touch of Madness".
Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier. Still "new" so still getting a fair hammering. "The Talisman" remains my favourite off the album.
Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force - Marching Out. Still right up there with the best albums released. Not a weak song on here, and Yngwie's guitaring is probably at it's best, helped along by Jeff Scott Soto's wonderful vocals. "I Am A Viking" and possibly "On The Run Again" are my current two faves.
Scorpions - World Wide Live. Showcasing the band's very best material, and live at that. Still one of the best live releases ever.
The Misfits - Earth A.D / Wolf's Blood. Insane punk alternative speed thrash topped off by Glenn Danzig's vocals. As much as I love Danzig the band, I still sometimes dream of it having more of a faster edge like this stuff does.
Gamma Ray - Land of the Free II. Funny how this took so long to grow on me, and yet now resides at the top echelon of Gamma Ray albums. With most of the rest of them.
Gamma Ray - Majestic. See above.
Motorhead - Ace of Spades. A bit similar to above. It took me a long time to get into this album (apart from the title track of course), given its iconic stature in the metal industry. I like it a lot more now than I did initially, but I think there are better Motorhead album's out there too.
Jorn - Dio. Jorn Lande's tribute to RJD is a brilliant update on some magnificent Dio songs. All stay true to the original, but sound superb in their re-recording.
Dio - Dream Evil. Always reminds me of the end of Year 12 high school, and with a mate's eldest son finishing his Year Twelve days this month, I thought this was a good choice to bring back some good memories.
Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force - Odyssey. With Marching Out proving such a hit at the moment, I thought I'd put Odyssey on here too. I haven't regretted it.
Michael Schenker Group - Unforgiven World Tour. Double live album, featuring all the hits from Schenker's career with his own groups and UFO and Scorpions. Good overview of all his best songs.
Megadeth - Rust in Peace Live. Recent recording of entire Rust in Peace album, along with some other favourites. Have to say that those songs that you don't hear so often live, like "Lucretia", "Take No Prisoners" and "Five Magics" are awesome.

Four Nations League

So, does anyone really care that this is on? I mean, I fluked on Sunday when changing channels because the cricket from India had been washed out (again), and found a replay of the Australia-PNG match. I watch about ten minutes, saw Australia score three tries from errors that kids in Under 10's would have been chastised about, and then moved on to "How I Met Your Mother" repeats on Arena.
I don't even know if the Kiwis played the Poms or not.
It's just a bad time of year to be playing international League - or Rugby for that matter. It's the Spring carnival in horse racing, the premium races are on in the V8 Supercars, the cricket season has begun in earnest... why would they try this now? Even Channel Nine didn't show the game live, though I guess that might change with the big games coming up.
And let's not even start with the Darius Boyd-Lote Tuquiri debate - if Tim Sheens is going to try and convince us there was no favoritism there, then he's just a stooge.