Howdy and welcome back to Sports Briefs for another week.
In this week’s edition I will recap the action from the second test between Australia and South Africa as well as looking towards the action from the A-League and NBL for this weekend.
With last week’s bet Australia covered the line easily in the Rugby League but the Adelaide 36ers loss to Illawarra was the stopper.
A great weekend of sport lies ahead of us – grab your family and friends and get along to The Gate, The Brook or The Ashby. The friendly staff can’t wait to treat you to a stellar time over the next few days.
Let me start this by saying in life I am generally a glass half full sort of a person – wherever possible I try to find the positives in a tough situation but right now even I am struggling to find many positives to come out of Australia’s performances in the first two tests of the summer against South Africa.
Down in Hobart rain was expected to play a significant part and the money for the draw as well as the forecast from the Weather Bureau suggested a result was unlikely.
How wrong that proved with South Africa getting the job done early on day four – and that was with an entire days play being lost to rain!
For the second time in as many tests Australia lost ten wickets for less than a hundred in their first innings.
It got ugly early for the home side with Warner departing for one, Burns following not long after for the same score, Khawaja perishing for four, Voges for a duck and Ferguson was run out for three. After just 13 overs Australia were 5/17. It didn’t get a whole lot better from there for the Aussies with Nevill out for 3, Mennie for 10, Starc for 4, Hazlewood for 8 and Lyon for 2. Skipper Steve Smith played a lone hand for the Aussies with 48 not out and in less than 33 overs Australia were all out for a paltry 85.
For South Africa it was a bowling masterclass with the Proteas quicks pitching the ball up and making the ball talk. Vernon Philander proved deadly taking 5/21 from his 10.1 overs while Kyle Abbott made the most of his test recall taking 3/41 and the destroyer from the first Test in Perth Kagiso Rabada was barely required taking 1/20 from his six overs.
South Africa went about knocking off the tally in slick fashion and recorded a first innings score of 326. Quinton de Kock continued his golden summer piling on a classy 104 with Bavuma 74 and Amla 47 proving valuable assistants. For Australia Josh Hazlewood was the pick of the bowlers taking 6/89 while Mitchell Starc toiled away for his return of 3/79. Debutant Joe Mennie finished with 1/85 while Nathan Lyon again missed out taking 0/57.
It left Australia trailing by 241 runs and once again they appeared to be facing a mountain too steep to climb.
That proved the case with Australia again coming up well short with the bat in the second innings. Joe Burns continued his forgettable return to the test side nicking off to keeper de Kock off the bowling of Abbott for no score – it left him with just 1 run for the match as David Warner’s opening partner.
Warner remained as positive as ever and he managed 45 before he was bowled by Abbott. Khawaja top scored with 64 and Steve Smith managed 31 but after being 3/129 Australia again collapsed to be all out for 161 losing 7/62 in another astonishing cave-in.
Kyle Abbott who returned to the side only due to the injury of Dale Steyn took his opportunity claiming 6/77 and Rabada snared the rest taking 4/34. Abbott’s 9 wickets for the game earned him Man Of The Match honours.
The end result was a victory for South Africa by an innings and 80 runs. It was nothing short of a shambles from Australia. To further rub salt into the wounds South Africa’s best player and skipper AB de Villiers is not playing in this series and Dale Steyn is on the sidelines – how much worse could it have been if they were fit and firing!
As mentioned last week heading into this test Australia is now officially in a slump. They have lost their last 5 straight test matches as well as having lost their recent ODI series to South Africa 5-0. To lose 10 straight international fixtures as a proud cricketing nation is simply inexcusable.
The start of the fallout has commenced with Chairman of Selectors Rod Marsh resigning after what has been one of the ugliest six month periods Australian Cricket has ever seen.
Quite simply Australia need to find some batsmen who are prepared to put a price on their head and show some good old fashioned guts and determination.
In the first two tests Dave Warner, Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja have all shown in difficult circumstances that they can find a way to occupy the crease and score. Aside of them there are three batting spots up for grabs.
From a bowling perspective Hazlewood and Starc are our clear two front men but Nathan Lyon continues to have little impact and the third seamers position is very much vacant.
Wicketkeeper Peter Nevill has been steady without being brilliant and his spot is also under the microscope.
I’m aware that you cannot be completely reactionary in situations like this but the reality is more than half the side could be replaced without too many fans raising their eyebrows.
Exactly how Australia go about regrouping for the third test will be very interesting.
In test match cricket there is nowhere to hide and in series like these where an opponent has the wood on you there is no escaping them. A bowler who has owned you is almost certain to be handed the pill when you walk out to bat while as a bowler the same guy who smashed you around the park in the previous match is nearly always licking his lips at the prospect of coming up against you again.
Accordingly South Africa look the goods heading into the third and final test match of the series – the day night test starting in Adelaide next Thursday. They are currently a $1.97 favourite and that to me looks a super price given what we have seen over the last few weeks. Australia are a $2.80 chance while the draw is paying $4.65.
It seems inevitable that the Proteas will continue their dominance and sweep the series 3-0.
The Perth Wildcats lost an epic encounter with New Zealand last weekend but bounced back to winning form at home on Thursday night with a convincing 13 point victory over the Sydney Kings prevailing 93 to 80.
Once again it was the magic of Casey Prather that stole the show for the home side with the US Import racking up 28 points to go with his 5 assists and 3 rebounds – he is having a phenomenal season and has to be a massive chance of taking out the league MVP award.
Fellow Import Jaron Johnson was good with 16 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds, Matty Knight was great inside ripping down 8 rebounds to go with his 3 assists and Jesse Wagstaff played his part with 10 valuable points.
For the visitors Brad Newley was superb with 34 points including 7 from 10 from three point territory while former Perth Wildcat Kevin Lisch contributed 21 points with 4 assists.
It was another illustration of just what a tough outfit the Wildcats are. They clearly missed their skipper and defensive genius in Damien Martin but found a way to get over the league leaders.
The victory saw Perth back up to second position on the table behind Sydney who they meet again on Saturday, this time away from home.
Sydney are favoured to bounce back in this contest with Sydney rated a $1.55 favourite with Perth the $2.45 outsiders. The line is set at 3.5 points.
You can never write off the defending champions but Sydney have been slick at home this season and will take some stopping.
It looked a tough assignment on paper for the Perth Glory last weekend taking on Sydney FC away and it is how it proved with the Glory going down 4-1.
It took Sydney’s season record to 6 wins from as many matches and further underlined what a potent lineup they have in front of the onion bag.
The loss saw Perth slide down to fifth position on the table and after what was a promising start to the season they must now regroup and get back in the habit of winning.
They get their chance this weekend when they play host to Adelaide United at nib stadium on Friday night.
The Reds have had a slow start to their campaign losing 4 of their last 5 matches and the Glory must pounce on their opportunity to take on an out of form opponent.
Adelaide are yet to score more than 1 goal in any of their matches this season and the Glory must back their front half to get some goals on the board and hold out the less potent Adelaide outfit.
For Adelaide Spanish Striker Sergi Guardiola has been in hot form scoring in his last three matches and he is clearly the man to clamp down on from a defensive perspective.
In recent weeks we have discussed how important home wins are for the Glory and similar to the recent match against Western Sydney which Perth let slip for a draw it is games like this that they must grab all three points if they are to be a legitimate contender come season’s end.
The market on the match sees Perth as the $2.03 favourites with Adelaide at $3.30 and the draw $3.55.
While they have disappointed at their last three matches with a draw and two losses Perth really do look the goods in this – I certainly hope they can bank all 3 points out of this fixture.
Let the games begin! Enjoy all of the wonderful sport this weekend at The Gate, The Brook or The Ashby.
My betting play for this week is Australia to win the four nations rugby league final against New Zealand this weekend into South Africa to win the third test against Australia in the cricket. The multi price is $2.47.