THE FITZ FILES
Illustration: John Shakespeare
Which one of you mongrels brought the wrong script! This is not how it's meant to go for the third Test? The script we wrote was to unleash Mitchell Johnson, as he created havoc among the cowering Englishmen! And now this! An Australian collapse! The top order down for three-fifths of bugger all!
I DEMAND a rewrite.
On the second day, see, Australia rises from, yes, the ashes, and secures them with a devastating performance that shocked the Englishmen, just as they were shocked on the first day. You heard it here first!
TFF had a small rant on Thursday on what a great job "Boof" Lehmann has done by embracing the old values and getting away from the mumbo-jumbo, and one of the comments below the article fascinated me.
"It reminds me of when Joey Johns was sharing a room with Tony Butterfield the night before Joey's first NRL game. Brian Smith was the coach, and as usual, he had prepared a comprehensive and long game plan that each of the players was expected to read and absorb before the game. When Joey started reading it, Butterfield took it off him and threw it out the window with words to the effect of 'Don't worry about that bullshit.' True, or not true?"
"Almost true," says Butterfield, because the only difference was that the coach was David Waite.
"It was against the Rabbitohs," Butterfield recalled on Friday. "After I told him to forget the bullshit, I told him to just pretend he was playing with his mates at the Cessnock under 16s, and go out and have the time of his life. He did and scored two or three tries, and knocked over six or seven goals, for the most points on debut."
My own closest equivalent, for what it's worth, was Bob Dwyer, before a Test in New Zealand in 1990, was in full cry for about 45 minutes about how he wanted the back line to play, the angles of attack, etc, and out of pure bloody-mindedness, I decided to try to really concentrate, to see if I could follow. Nothing. Stone-cold, motherless, nothing.
At its conclusion, I said to Kick-Too-Farr-Jones: "Nick, as Wallaby captain, and a back yourself, I have to ask, did you understand all that? What on EARTH was that ALL ABOUT?!"
"Fitz," he replied, "95 per cent of it was run straight and try to draw two tacklers, not one. And the rest of it you needn't bother about."
Too long for quotes, but too inspiring to leave out, here is our most excellent Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, at the opening ceremony last week of the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games: "Tonight, we come together to celebrate our athletes' remarkable sporting talents and determination to give their very best. Special Olympics athletes, I know that each and every one of you will compete with strength, determination and courage. You inspire us every day, you give your absolute best to overcome life's challenges – now is the time for you each to achieve your personal best on the sporting field. Athletes . . . this is your time to shine."
And so they did. Bravo.
FUNNY OLD GAMES
I find it interesting that in football, a physically violent game, the players act like gentlemen and the spectators like thugs, while in cricket, a gentleman's game, if ever there was one, the spectators are unconfrontational, friendly even, while the players, hurling threats, abuse and invective, are the bullies.
Love this. It comes from a website known as The Shovel, which describes itself as "Australia's second-favourite source of satire, after Today Tonight."
"England fans say being 537 runs behind after three days of play feels better than they expected.
"It feels warm and familiar," said Terry Ford, from Manchester. "Dominating Australia for the best part of 10 years was new and different. But it wasn't really me. I'm secretly hoping we get humiliated again in Adelaide."
Australian fan Tony Verity said it was a relief Australia was playing well again. "The bulk of my self-esteem is dangerously tied up in how well Australia does at sport, so the last few days have been more important than you probably realise."
Next Saturday, at 11am at the Olympic Stadium, Adam Gilchrist will launch an interesting concept for the LBW Trust, to raise money to educate underprivileged youth in developing cricket nations. The brainchild of Sydney University student and NSW and Sydney Thunder wicketkeeper-batsman Ryan Carters, "Batting for Change" is basically an opportunity for cricket lovers to pledge (as much or as little) money as they like for every six hit by the Sydney Thunder batsmen this season.
As ever, I'm off and will be for six weeks. "Best of TFF" will fill the space. Given I take flak every year for recycling the old stuff, this year I will try to freshen it up a little by throwing in a bit of new stuff. If you need me, I will be on Newport Beach. Meanwhile, may the sun shine upon you, may your stocking be filled with my Ned Kelly book – oh, naff off, c'est plus fort que moi – and may you stay safe, until we meet again.
What they said
Australian bowling coach Craig McDermott on ABC News 24, with a wry smile, on how he wants the likes of Mitchell Johnson to go about attacking the English in Perth: "Our plans will be a little bit different but, ah … not a lot different if you know what I mean."
The great Englishman Stephen Fry tweets at the end of the second Test: "Oh bottoms bums poo willy and smell. We're destroyed. #theashes"
I know it. You know it. Shane Warne knows it. The Botoxed blond just couldn't help himself on the Channel Nine cricket commentary: "He's an impressive Root, that's for sure."
Socceroos captain Lucas Neill, not sounding too confident about our chances in the World Cup's Group of Death - this week's sporting cliche, by the way."And let's look at it in a different way for a second, all the pressure is on Spain, Holland and Chile to qualify, and one of those teams will miss out."
Classic Ian Healy, as the shadows lengthened over Adelaide Oval, nearing the end of the first day of the second Test: "Stuart Broad can probably see the light at the end of the day." Was there a tunnel somewhere there, Heals?
Muhammad Ali: "What I will remember most about Mr Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge."
Mandela in 1999: "Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people, in a way that little else does."
England cricket captain Alastair Cook, who seems like a nice chappie: "We've got to look deep into our souls, deep into our hearts, and turn it round. Only the guys will know that inside themselves but I honestly believe we have got that. I need to score more runs, it's a simple deal." He does. This series, he has just 82 runs over four innings at 20.50, while four years ago in Australia he scored 766 runs at 127.67.
On Kevin Pietersen: "He's a senior player and he'll be the first to hold his hand up and say some of his shot execution and selection hasn't been good enough."
Lance Franklin gets to wear No.23 at the Swans, taking it from Jordan Lockyer: "I'm super excited to wear the number 23 .., He is starting again with number 18, which is great for him. It's about just getting on a list or playing a game, your jumper number doesn't matter as long as you're playing football for the Sydney Swans." Betcha that last line was written by a media minder.
Bernard Tomic on Croatian Velimir Zovko, his new interim coach: "He's starting to get into a good bond with my dad and team." Translation: Dad hasn't beaten him up yet.
Why NSW wicketkeeper Ryan Carters studies Weberian sociology and Keynesian economics: "I'm interested in the way [everything] intersects, and how ethical concerns should really underlie political thinking. And political thinking, in turn, shapes economic decision-making."
Team of the week
Neil Robertson. His win in the UK Championship, following his World Championship and Masters titles, means he is the first non-Brit to win snooker's Triple Crown.
Australian Test team. The goodies go to a 2-0 lead in the Ashes, with three Tests left to play. Where are you, ooh-ahh Glenn McGrath, with your prediction of a 5-0 series win, now that it might actually be on the cards?
Mitchell Johnson. MoJo is The Man. Two Tests into the Ashes, and he is already 17 wickets to the good, at a cost of just 12.7 runs apiece!
Greg Hartung, AO. After 12 years as chair of the Australian Paralympic Committee – during which the Paralympic movement has hit the big time, with a mainstream following – steps down this week. Well done, oh good and faithful servant of the mighty Paralympians.
Socceroos in Brazil. Find themselves with Spain, the Netherlands and Chile in the “Group of Death” for the coming World Cup. Nelson Mandela. The great man who, perhaps more than anyone, realised the power of sport to change the world, is laid beneath the sod this weekend.
Jesse Owens. One of the three gold medals won by him at the 1936 Berlin Olympics sold for a record $US1.4 million ($1.6 million) in an online auction – the highest price ever for a piece of Olympic memorabilia.
Jeremy Belcher. After captaining his Niagara Park CRICKET team to victory in the NSW Primary Schools competition the 12-year-old was selected for the Sydney North team that won the State comp, and is a member of the Central Coast under-13 rep team which plays Sutherland District in the Gee Shield of the NSWCA this weekend.
Dr Hugh Torode. Is going south again in this year's Sydney to Hobart, raising money for the Shepherd Centre. They are looking for armchair adventurers to share the excitement and sponsor the yacht to help give deaf children a voice. Contact Hugh on email@example.com