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20/20 World Cup Guide

In Cricket on April 30, 2010 at 6:33 pm

This year’s edition of the 20 over World Cup is due to get under way in the Caribbean this Friday, hot on the heels of a hard hitting IPL tournament in India. Here’s a rundown of the who’s in and out of form, and who’s likely to be in the contending for the title.

Group A

Australia


KEY MAN: Shane Watson

Form: The Aussies have been in excellent 20/20 form this year. They’ve beaten Pakistan, the West Indies and New Zealand since last year’s disappointment, and have been looking very strong. Many of their players were star performers in the recent IPL tournament, and they will be primed to atone for their shock group exit in 2009.

Strengths: Just about everywhere on the field. From Warner and Watson at the top of the order, to Johnson and Nannes with the ball, it’s tough to locate any cracks in this Australian squad. Their fielding should be top notch aswell, but it’s their devastating batting attack which will blow away most teams.

Weaknesses: Perhaps the lack of spin options. Nathan Hauritz has won over the boo boys and established himself as a quality off spinner, and Michael Clarke will be looking to him to take the sting out of the middle overs. Beyond Hauritz though, alternatives are thin on the ground. Smith, White, David Hussey or Clarke himself could turn the arm over, but an over-reliance on Hauritz could hurt them if he underperforms.

Outlook: All Gold. This squad is one of the most well-rounded and focussed in the competition and it would be a major surprise if they don’t make a semi-final appearance.

Squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Daniel Christian, Brad Haddin (wk), Ryan Harris, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Dirk Nannes, Tim Paine (wk), Steven Smith, Shaun Tait, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White. Read the rest of this entry »

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Breaking Down The Northern Bias

In Rugby Union on April 17, 2010 at 12:32 am

So after a thrilling quartet of Heineken Cup games this weekend, which featured more free flowing action than Jay Z and Nas on a white water rafting trip, will some Northern Hemisphere pundits be retracting their complaints over the new laws at the breakdown?

As the (somewhat romanticised) story goes, rugby was invented by William Webb Ellis when he picked up the ball during a football match and ran with it rather than simply kick it away. True or not, it doesn’t matter. The point is, the essence of the sport is running with the ball, and kicking it should not be the primary option. Something was rotten in the state of Rome this February, for instance, when England and Italy played out a one try eyesore featuring 84 kicks from hand in the starring role. That’s 61% of possession kicked by the Azzuri, and 54% from England. Not even the English and Italian fans would have enjoyed watching that.

The problem was that players had become so adept at forcing turnovers at the breakdown, that no-one would take the risk of running the ball anymore. Better to just kick it away. So it is to the eternal credit of the IRB that they took positive action so promptly. Read the rest of this entry »

NBA Playoff Quick picks

In NBA on April 17, 2010 at 12:25 am

It’s playoff time in the NBA, with the first round match ups getting started this weekend. Here’s how it should go down:

Eastern Playoffs

No.1 Cleveland Cavaliers vs No.8 Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls just pipped Toronto’s Raptors to the last playoff spot in the East with a late season surge. Their reward? A meeting with King James and his Cleveland side, who finished the regular season with an NBA best 61-21 record.

The Bulls have some great talent, with Derrick Rose always dangerous and Luol Deng back from injury. Kirk Hinrich is also a tough player, with Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah hoovering up the majority of the boards for Chicago. They won’t have the scoring to keep up with LeBron and his supporting cast though, and will be doing well to even take a game from the Cavs

This one is all Cleveland. Expect James to dominate with Antawn Jamison, Shaquille O’Neal and the rest tuning up their games in preparation for the bigger challenges to come.

Cavaliers in 4 Read the rest of this entry »

UFC 112 Preview

In MMA on April 7, 2010 at 1:24 pm

There’s more MMAyhem this weekend, with two UFC belts on the line in Abu Dhabi. It’s the 3rd event in two weeks, and the 3rd and 4th belts that are going to be on the line. With Machida-Shogun pencilled in for next month, that’s all five belts up for grabs in an unprecedented couple of months of UFC action.

Anderson Silva (c) vs Demian Maia

The main event at 112 sees the return of the man Dana White has been billing the ‘pound for pound best in the world’ for a couple of years now, Anderson ‘the Spider’ Silva. Given White’s penchant for spin though, you wonder exactly how easily he’d ridicule a ‘pound for pound great’ whose last two years have consisted of wins over James Irvin, Patrick Cote, Thales Leites and a horrendous looking Forrest Griffin. Read the rest of this entry »

6 Nations Review: Part 2

In Rugby Union on April 1, 2010 at 12:19 am

We continue our tournament review with a look back at the key moments that made the 2010 Championshp, and a recap of some of the best and worst. Plus, a bonus ‘Team of the Tournament’…

Best Performance:

France 33-10 Ireland


Grand Slam champs, unbeaten in a year and conquerors of South Africa, Ireland came into this game with more confidence than Tiger Woods at a crazy golf tournament. They left with questions being asked about how they were going to compete with rugby’s elite. How quickly things turn in the world of rugby.

As always, it would be unwise to draw too many conclusions from 80 minutes, as Ireland are still where most sane observers would have put them before the game – in the second tier of rugby nations. Ireland can’t compete with the resources available to South Africa and New Zealand, and need to play at their optimum level to take a victory against either the Aussies or the French. Read the rest of this entry »

6 Nations Review: Part 1

In Rugby Union on April 1, 2010 at 12:01 am

To kick off our 6 Nations Tournament review, here’s a breakdown of the six teams involved, how they fared and why, what went right, and what didn’t…

Ireland

Final placing: 2nd

Grade: D

A disappointing tournament for Declan Kidney’s team. Coming off the back of a Grand Slam and an unbeaten year, they should have been looking for four wins at the very least. Losing to France in Paris is par for the course, but the manner of defeat was very disappointing. They were overrun and badly beaten by a team that looked far superior in every facet of play

I wrote in my preview that a loss in the Stade de France could derail Ireland’s tournament, so it was to their immense credit that they were able to bounce back and beat the English in Twickenham next time out. A good win over Wales followed, but the team’s set piece travails and multitude of handling errors in the Scottish loss gave us all a pertinent reminder of where their weaknesses lie

Read the rest of this entry »