Lachlan Barker delivers the good news first in January sport.
AS EVER, when asked the question, "Would you prefer the good news or the bad news first?" I usually say, "bad".
However, when it comes to the sport column, I tend to reverse things and try hard to put the good news at the top, so at least that gets read first.
This is somewhat crucial these days, as week after week in Australian sport, controversy stalks the playing fields and reading – and indeed writing – about controversy is not very enjoyable.
So, good news first: Australia won the Hopman Cup tennis for the first time in 17 years.
Australia’s team of Daria Gavrilova and Nick Kyrgios defeated Ukraine 2-0 in the final on Saturday.
Gavrilova set the tone defeating Elina Svitolina 6-4 7-6(8-6), a good win for her as Svitolina is ranked higher in the ATP standings.
Kyrgios then likewise went out and performed well, knocking off Alexander Dolgopolov in straight sets 6-3 6-4.
At that point, it was all good on the tennis front — well done Kyrgios and Gavrilova. And indeed, as the results came through I was thinking, "the best part here is there has been no prima donna spoilt brat behaviour from anyone".
That feeling lasted through the weekend until news came through that the very behaviour I had been dreading had indeed occurred.
Bernard Tomic became involved in a controversy over the use of the courts at a resort in Queensland. He reportedly asked some other players to leave the courts so he could practice.
They took umbrage, court management and security were called and Tomic apparently let slip a load of verbal in frustration.
However, Tomic has since apologised and hopefully, he has learned something here. Like it or not, when you are in the public eye, you need to exercise a modicum of PR skill. Amateur players, like the ones using the courts when Tomic showed up, also go to the matches you play on centre court at Kooyong and getting them on side, will mean they are there shouting loudly in support of you on game day..
The fastest Test century EVER at the @scg! #AUSvWI #PinkTest https://t.co/s1qVE49jjn— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 7, 2016
Moving on to the other main Australian summer sport, cricket, we learn this was totally overshadowed by the appalling Chris Gayle incident.
Gayle made sexist remarks to a female interviewer, Mel McLaughlin – live on national TV – and these remarks were really beyond the pale.
I was dreading having to write about this unsavoury incident and thankfully, I was spared as Tess Lawrence took up the cudgels — her article can be seen here. This article is well worth the reading time, I promise you.
Gayle has since been sanctioned by his team, the Melbourne Renegades, with a $10,000 fine and to give credit where it’s due, his team and Cricket Australia have made it crystal clear that his comments were unacceptable.
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has also warned Gayle that: "a repeat offence would have dire repercussions."
And, of course, this all happened in the same period that federal minister Peter Dutton was caught out referring to a female journalist as a ‘mad f*cking witch’. Dutton received no punishment for this.
Clearly, it would have been appropriate for both men to be punished for their transgressions. That Dutton got away with it makes a mockery of any supposed stance from the Turnbull Government in the field of women’s rights.
So leaving (thankfully) the unsavoury aspects aside, we can move on to the sport itself.
The women's 20-20 competition is currently led by the Sydney Thunder from the Hobart Hurricanes, with then the Brisbane Heat and the Melbourne Stars fourth.
The Thunder did lose their most recent match to the Melbourne Renegades; however they have enough wins under their belt to retain the top spot on the table.
Player of the match here, was Rachel Priest of the Renegades with 57 from 55 deliveries. For the Thunder, captain Alex Blackwell was best in a poor batting performance with 45 from 41.
Ellyse Perry was the star of the show as @SixersWBBL defeated @StrikersWBBL by 23 runs. https://t.co/PZBnP68o5K pic.twitter.com/7lU01YTwIQ— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 9, 2016
Other matches from the weekend saw the Sydney Sixers only requiring 14 overs to gain some NSW revenge over the Renegades. Perry of the Sixers was player of the match, with a blistering 67 from 46 showing a strike rate of 145.
The Sixers won their other game of the weekend over the Adelaide Strikers with Perry again performing well with the bat with a top score of 47 from 50, while player of the match was Sarah Aley with a miserly 2-13 from three overs plus an explosive batting cameo of 22 from 12 deliveries with a strike rate of 183.
I was about to go and see if this strike rate was a record for women’s 20-20, when I saw right underneath, that Aley’s batting partner Angela Reakes hammered out 17 from 7 with a strike rate of 242. Short but full of fireworks — and saved me some stats research.
And briefly, with the men’s comp, the male 20-20 is led by the Perth Scorchers and the Adelaide Strikers.
The Scorchers got home by a run over the Hurricanes with English import Michael Carberry leading the way with 62 from 35 and a strike rate of 177. Ashton Agar led the bowling for Perth with 2-40 from four.
The Strikers, for their part, had an easier win over Brisbane with Sri Lankan Denagamage Jayawardene best with the bat with 53 from 30. Side note: Jayawardene is more commonly known as Mahela Jayawardene but Mahela is his third name, Denagamage is his first name.
With the ball for the Strikers, Adil Rashid did the job with the ball with 2-17 from four.
Final note in the world of cricket goes to test cricket. With the last test match of the summer now complete.
Played in Sydney in early January, the match was heavily rain affected with large portions of the game – both the third and fourth days for instance – rained out.
Thus the match was drawn. This became somewhat of an achievement for the currently very weak and disordered West Indian team as they didn’t lose the series three-nil.
What’s more, when they did actually get on the field in this match, they performed creditably in context.
Their only innings garnered 330 runs – their highest of the summer – with Kraigg Brathwaite topping with 85. Brathwaite gained support from Denesh Ramden with 62 and Carlos Brathwaite with 69.
For Australia, the highlight was another rapid fire output from Dave Warner, with 122 from 103 deliveries when Australia finally took to the crease on the fifth day.
With the test matches complete, Australia move on to play one a series of 50 and 20-over matches against India, while the West Indies return to the Caribbean to wonder what the hell they are going to do now.
In a reversal of the AFL's 2015 acquittal of Essendon football players, thirty-four players from the troubled 2012 team have been found guilty of doping offences by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). They have been suspended from the entire 2016 season.
Lachlan Barker blogs at cyclonecharlie88.blogspot.com.au. You can also follow Lachlan on Twitter @CycloneCharlie8.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
"That was in if you want to challenge it" @JackSock's moment of sportsmanship is worth another look... #HopmanCup https://t.co/nGcfFYH4DC— Hopman Cup (@hopmancup) January 7, 2016
Clamp Chris Gayle's balls, Jamie Briggs hasn't got any — don't blush, baby https://t.co/S0Fkxf5vS3 @IndependentAus— Sandi Keane (@Jarrapin) January 6, 2016
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