Archive for January, 2008

Gloveman Gilchrist goes

January 27, 2008

And so Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist leaves the game (cricket, for those unfamiliar) he has graced for the last decade and more, with a flair few matched behind the stumps or with bat. He will be missed – especially by Ricky Ponting 😉

Decapitating Dear Leader

January 27, 2008

It seems Dear Leader’s days may be numbered – at least if you believe erstwhile left-wing commentator Chris Trotter. Trotter, whose controversial appearance (due to his Ruatoki raid comments) at Labour’s last conference in Takapuna cemented him firmly back onside with Labour, has posted calling for minister Phil Goff to oust PM Helen Clark.

While I agree with Trotter’s analysis, especially:

A worryingly large chunk of Labour’s core constituency has become alienated from the Helen Clark-led government, and it is to be seriously doubted whether they can be persuaded back while she remains Labour’s leader.

This vital chunk of culturally conservative, economically stressed voters, a great many of them married men in their thirties with young children, large mortgages and high aspirations (both for themselves and their kids) could represent as much as 5 per cent of the electorate.

I’m less inclined to agree that John Key “has got ’em”, nor that Labour’s solution is to behead Clark. David Farrar’s post about Trotter’s article has a fun selection of comments, including this about Trotter from ‘Brownie’:

I wonder what happened to him? He used to be a thorn in the side of the right. Now he’s merely a pimple on the bottom of the left.

and Bryce Edwards notes the very astute analysis from another Trotter article:

Only a prime minister who had lost the plot both strategically and tactically could have come up with something as extravagantly self-defeating as the Electoral Finance Act.

Labour’s trouble stems from Clark and Finance minister Cullen being the only in Cabinet who appear to have a pulse above the shoulders. Supposedly strong ministers like Annette King, Lianne Dalziel, Trevor Mallard and even up-and-comer David Parker have demonstrated mostly stubborn defense of the indefensible (aka civil servant blunders) that translates to electoral suicide.

Meanwhile, ministerial handbag Judith Tizard annoys anyone within a 5km radius, while thankfully the puerile Tim Barnett and George Beyer are on the outer (kinda literally).

Clark and Labour’s probable solution lies with forced promotion of the capable Chris Carter (to more portfolios) and David Cunliffe (to portfolios that matter – say health), and rapid and forced induction of new ministerial talent. Having a Cabinet who have to focus most of their cranial capacity on the intricate task of breathing rather detracts from their ability to sate the electorate’s outrage over unaffordable housing, rising violent crime and climate change that so far has only had solutions in name.

Unhindered by the ‘new ethical way of doing politics’ the Greens espouse, Labour may even want to contemplate forced retirement of dross to bring their predicted next-term talent (Kate Sutton, Jordan Carter, etc) in now, to blood them and possibly drop a few in Cabinet on minor portfolios for some good news. The mooted replacement of Ann Hartley by Sua William Sio will not help – Labour have the Pacific vote wrapped up; it is the Gen X pakeha vote they are losing, and to which they must appeal with talented Gen Xers.

Question is, do Labour have them, and the bollocks to usher in such talent in time to save this government? That is Clark’s true test of leadership.

Making a monkey of the game

January 11, 2008

I’ve finally got over my shock (though not surprise) to comment on the drama in the Australia-India test series being played out over the ditch. To recap events from the 2nd test:

  1. Oz win test 2 using dubious umpiring decisions, claiming dubious catches, and generally pysching the Indians out, not least by charging Harbhajan Singh with racism for allegedly calling Andrew Symonds a ‘monkey’.
  2. BCCI (Indian cricket board) spit the dummy, suspend the tour, demand removal of West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor and that an appeal against Singh’s 3 match ban must find him innocent.
  3. ICC (international cricket board) boss Malcolm Speed drops Bucknor from the Perth test, appoints an appeal judge (literally – a Kiwi high court judge) and generally prostrates himself before the dollar signs. Then claims new-found courage … see how long that lasts!

To this punter, the ICC board must fire CEO Malcolm Speed immediately, censure the BCCI, and run a proper appeal for Singh. The BCCI have brought the game into disrepute (as has Ponting and team with their antics) by trying to blackmail an appeal outcome, and engineer the removal of a neutral umpire.

Far worse though, is the gutless, craven cowardly actions of Speed in giving in to the BCCI bullying. He has actually broken his own organisation’s rules (which prohibit countries demanding removal of neutral umpires), and exposed the ICC to legal action by Bucknor (similar to that of axed umpire Darryl Hair).

None of this is to say Bucknor (or Hair) should not have been axed – just that the ICC should have rapidly followed their employment agreement with the umpires to do a performance review, and sack if they failed to be up to scratch.

As for Ponting – don’t sack him, but Cricket Australia should make it clear to them they don’t want a repeat of silly and crude efforts to pressure opponents, and they expect a higher standard of honesty in claiming catches!

If the BCCI don’t like it, cancel the tour. They cannot be allowed to hold sway over all other cricket countries, even if the Oz team behave badly. 

A humorous montage and quotes are at Tumeke, while Cactus Kate offers an insight after the last NZ-Oz ODI:

The good news is that we avoided the follow on. The bad news is that it was a one day match.

But the best article about the whole messsy business is this Indian correspondent’s view. Suresh Menon correctly highlights the danger Speed has put the ICC in; cricket may truly suffer if this is not sorted carefully.