Australia's Southern Stars win back The Ashes in England, while Jason Day wins his third tournament in four starts in the States. Lachlan Barker reports.
AUSTRALIA WINS THE ASHES! It’s so good to be able to write that.
The Ashes I am referring to is the Women’s cricket series, currently approaching its conclusion in Britain.
Our men’s team recently played a parallel Ashes series, but lost that 3-2 and so this win by the women’s team, the Southern Stars, finally brings a breath of northern summer joy to Australian cricket.
The men play a straight five test series, while for the women it is a composite event involving all forms of the game — Test matches, one day games and 20-over contests.
So a brief recap, the women began their series with the one day matches, with Australia winning two of those matches. They received two points for each game and so went to the single test match leading the series 4-2.
So the T-20 matches began with Australia leading the series 8-4, needing to win only one 20 over fixture to snag the full series.
They lost the first game and the jitters must have begun to loom into the Australian psyche.
However, following a moderate roast from coach Mathew Mott, in which he urged the team to kill things off in the second 20 over match and not leave things till the final game in Cardiff, the Stars went out and played like the hard bitten team that we like all Australian cricket teams to be — and won.
So England took to the wicket with the series on the line and with the odds in their favour due to Australia’s small total.
However, this possibly undid the English effort, as they began to fall away from the start. At the quarter stage of the chase, England were four down for 24, with none of these first four bats achieving double figures.
However Katherine Brunt and Lydia Greenway hauled the England team back into some sort of contention with 20 and 26 respectively. However the run rate was mounting and this led to some panic in the English ranks and, with them needing 21 to win off the final over it was all too much.
Greenway was the final wicket, caught at deep midwicket by Jonassen off Rene Farrell and Australia was home with the Ashes in the bag.
Farrell took 3-17 from 3.1 overs and was a deserved recipient of the player of the match award.
By the way, I really wanted to write 'woman of the match', however it is listed on the scores website as ‘player of the match’, so I’m guessing this is a better, non-sexist way to describe the way individual achievement in a sporting fixture.
The men’s results also list it as ‘player’, not ‘man’ of the match, so we’ll go forward into a world of more sexual equality in sport with the non-gender assigned term "player".
Australia’s men also played a single fixture during the past fortnight, a 50-over match against Ireland. Ireland were last seen by us on the world cricket stage fighting hard in the Cricket World Cup, where they went very close to qualifying for the knockout phase, while England didn’t even get close to qualification.
Ed Joyce (44) and captain Niall O’Brien (45) did the best for the Irish and, though they lost, they were once again not disgraced and did not look out of place against a top flight world cricket team.
So moving from the world of flannelled foolery to that of muddied oafishness, the Rugby World Cup is about to begin in Britain.
However, it was across in north London that things took a comic turn leading to red faces among organising officials.
Samoa was playing against the world select team, The Barbarians, at the newly renovated Olympic Stadium. In the 16th minute, a brain snap occurred and two players became involved in fisticuffs. Australia’s Saia Fainga’a, playing for the Barbarians was one, while Kane Thompson for Samoa was the other. Thompson was sent off and now faces an anxious wait n the judiciary to see if he will be banned for the world cup, while Fainga’a was sin binned.
Considering this was a warm up match, with nothing crucial on the line, this was a ridiculous incident to occur and not a good look in the run up to rugby’s show case event.
However, then things moved into high farce when the sprinklers came on. This happened not long after the fight in the first half, and looked for a short period like the match would have to be cancelled. However, some official with heart racing no doubt sprinted for the logistics control room and flipped the sprinkler kill switch allowing the game to continue, with Samoa eventually losing 27-24.
As for the Cup itself, Australia is in group A, along with the above mentioned England and Fiji, as well as Wales and Uruguay. If all goes well for Australia and they win their group, they will play most likely Samoa in the quarter final, then France in the semi leading to the final against either South Africa or New Zealand.
Across the Channel, the last of the Grand Tour bike races, the Vuelta a España, is currently rolling through Spain.
In the early stages of the race, Australian team Green Edge was at the front with Colombian rider Esteban Chaves wearing the leader’s red jersey. However, this was relinquished on the most recent stage to Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin for team Giant-Alpecin.
However, it has been a great effort by the Australian team, and shows they are coming of age as a touring team.
On the serious down side, there was major accident on the stage won by Dumoulin, which saw Belgian rider Kris Boeckmans end up in hospital in an induced coma, with facial fractures and perhaps needing surgery.
The accident itself wasn’t caught on film, but the aftermath – showing a motionless Boeckmans on the road requiring immediate attention from the medical team – was a timely reminder of why we wear helmets when cycling. Boeckmans was helmeted at the time; without his protective gear, it could have been even worse.
Additionally, but thankfully much less severe, Slovak rider Peter Sagan, wearer at the time of the sprinter’s green jersey, was hit by an auxiliary motor bike. It was only a glancing blow, but Sagan was racing hard towards the finish at the time and this knocked him out of contention for the stage. Sagan received multiple burn and abrasion injuries to the left side of the body, and has since abandoned the race.
The race now moves into the mountains proper and once again great scenery, and great bursting of lungs for the riders looms.
Lastly, mention needs making of Jason Day, the Australian golfer who recently won his first major tournament — the U.S. PGA, held on August 13-16 this year. This breakthrough major win came hard on the heels of his serious struggle with vertigo in the U.S. Open in June.
He has overcome that difficulty with great personal strength and yesterday recorded another victory in The Barclays tournament, Day’s third win from four starts. Day finished The Barclays at 19-under, six shots clear of Henrik Stenson and a further two shots clear of Bubba Watson in third place.
If Day continues his good form in the last three tournaments of the year, he could move up to be the world’s number one player. Currently the top spot is held by Rory McIlroy and if Day achieves this, it would be a rich reward for a man whose vertigo nearly brought him completely undone so very recently.
So, in the end, we extend congratulations to Jason Day for a great return to the course and to our female cricketers, the Southern Stars and I think I’ll take the opportunity to conclude by once more writing with great pleasure ‘Australia wins the Ashes’.
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