Friday, 14 June 2013

The Rivalry that Unties Us

Remember how we had to just grin and bear the piles of marketing slop that have become Cricket Australia's stock-in-trade over the last few years? It was going to get the ladies and the kiddies interested, you see. 

CA had to get away from that dreadful white, middle-aged demographic that had everyone down at Jolimont threatening to jump out the window in despair. I mean Channel Nine called Ten's bluff and stumped up big cash for the TV rights, that was a bummer. Ten would have at least brought them a fresh approach. It wasn't a certainty that this approach would lead to young kids dragging themselves away from iPads and grabbing the new Wisden, but it was worth a shot.

But what exactly is this new ad for the upcoming Ashes saying? That we should feel sorry for John Howard that Cricket Australia like him far more than the ICC do? That Jimmy Barnes is a big hit with youthful demographics? I mean, he was great in this NRL ad back in 1993, wasn't he? But that was twenty years ago, when we had batsmen who regularly averaged over 40 in international cricket.

I just think if you're trying to get away from this dreadful scourge of middle-aged white guys, stuffing your ad to the brim with them is an odd way to go about solving the problem. Also, when was this filmed? Were we really banking on Shane Watson being a certain starter? Maybe I'm being a bit bitchy there. Anyway, if CA finally decides who it is they want to watch their cricket games and how they're going to go about reaching out to them, someone please let me know.

Also, the "Cmon mate" thing remains embarrassing. How are the advertising agencies the only people in the world who don't realise this? I guess that's something that hasn't shown up in the focus groups yet.


In the meantime, tomorrow morning I am off to the USA for four weeks and will be missing the first Ashes Test due to cunning planning on the behalf of my girlfriend and an abject lack of diligence on my part. The last time I was in the US I had some absorbing cricket conversations with Indian expat cab drivers so hopefully I'll find a way to take in the first Test.

Americans like cricket, don't they? Muhammad Ali is mad for it...

ZZ Top are all over it...

Even Eisenhower stopped by the 1959 Australia v Pakistan Test at Karachi because he simply could not get enough cricket...

Anyway, I wish everyone well in their Ashes-watching endeavors. especially in the Southern Hemisphere where there'll be bleary eyes aplenty. 

If you snooze, you lose.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Get into shape for the Ashes with Dennis Lillee

So the Ashes is nearly upon us and it's time to dust off those cobwebs and get ourselves into full fitness for the 10 Tests ahead. What better way to do it than taking in the visual splendour and handy fitness tips of Dennis Lillee's Book of Family Fitness, one of 1980's best literary offerings.

There was something about the cover of this book that told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to own it. I think you'll agree I made the right choice.

Dennis always starts the day with some wholesome muesli and a glass of coffee. Maybe not as healthy as a fresh juice, but certainly more nutritious than a six pack of Tooheys and twenty Marlboro Reds, which was probably how Doug Walters started his day.

With that out of the way, it's time to get the kids up and active. Unless they are watching a replay of DK's over to Viv in the 1976 Gilette Cup semi final, off goes the TV.

Always nice to take the kids on your morning run, just make sure you completely ignore golf course etiquette and run through someone's round. 

If you get a bit thirsty, just stop off in someone's front yard and drink from their garden hose. The sight of Dennis Lillee doing that would be exactly what the neighbours were expecting when they looked out the window.

I kid you not, Dennis lists actual instructions in the book for laying out an obstacle course to make your run more interesting. Pretty simple really, you just need a chainsaw, some chaps and a few mature natives.

Of course once you have your stumps, it's always great to get the kiddies involved in a bit of log-stepping, which they tend to go crazy for.

I admit it is slightly elaborate to construct your own hurdles, but well worth the effort.

Again I am not making this up. Dennis suggests that should it be a bit chilly when you head out for a run, it might pay to pop some socks over your hands to keep them toasty warm.


It's always good to break the tedium of a run up by hanging from a precariously placed log for as long as you can.

Having ditched the kids, Dennis is now on a reconnaissance mission looking for more trees to turn into obstacle courses. He seems to be onto a winner here.

If there's a shirtless old bloke out on a run, it always pays to sidle up next to him and have a chat.

The kids are probably pretty pooped by now, but there is nothing that will kill their enthusiasm for the outdoors like a spot of orienteering, or as DK calls it, "cunning running." Is that even a thing? I'm 95% he's just made that up.

With the kids back home it's time to hit the beach and do a bit of body surfing to impress the babes. Just make sure you're wearing your gold chain with cricket bat pendant.

"Yo Dennis, I'm really happy for you. Imma let you finish, but Bo Derek had one of the best rising up out of the water scenes ever! Ever!"

Back home to jump on the scales and indulge in a bit of self-loathing. In this section Dennis actually suggests that this task can be done in the nude to spice things up a little bit. I'm thankful he kept things civil for the sake of the book.

Of course, it always pays to be careful when it comes to your health. The ACB had just had these devices installed at team practice facilities. The were used to measure your blood alcohol reading; if you blew anything under 0.05 you weren't allowed to train.

This could be a skin-fold test, but it also might just be a photo from Dennis's private collection that was never meant to see the light of day.

If you head to the gym, always make sure you jump on the exercise bike next to the woman who is wearing her bathers. Ignore your trainer and talk to her. What does he know, anyway?

When you're down at the gym sometimes it's also just cool to hang out.

If your new gym friend is ignoring your subtle advances, maybe just amp things up a little with some intense, prolonged staring. Woman dig guys who are a little unbalanced, it's a fact.

Once this approach has worked wonders, always make sure you include your new-found friend in any planking you do.

It's not all about chatting up the ladies though, you need to get your sweat on. Just pretend your fists are flying towards Kim Hughes.

"Here at the Dennis Lille Institute of Fitness, we have a clear uniform policy; either you go bareback or you wear a lab coat."

Admit it, you hadn't previously seen a photo of Dennis Lille shoveling soil into a wheel barrow and now you have. I'm not asking for thanks because I know you appreciate it.

After a day of fitness work with Dennis, you too will be forced to mimic a pistol to your own head.

Should you ever find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night at a hotel, Dennis has a workout plan for you. Chair lunges are always a good start. Again, gold chain mandatory.

I have no real explanation for this photo but it is genuinely tough to know where to look. This is heading into Shane Watson territory now.

Ahh, looking under Kerry Packer's sofa for loose change; oldest trick in the book. Nice one Fot.

Just doing some morning lunges by the bed, what of it?

I'm beginning to think this entire section of the book is actually just documentation of a serious sleep-walking problem.

But now you're all fit, firing and ready to go. With your new-found fitness you can take on the world, or even just form a solid barrier against any potential home invasions.

Champions Trophy Preview - Australia

Well, I still haven't got around to another post on here, but assure I have something brewing. In the meantime, here's a preview of five things for Australia to consider at the final installment of the under-loved Champions Trophy that I did for The Guardian.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Mark Cosgrove and the stigma of obesity

I promise I will get something nice and colourful up here sooner or later folks, but until then feel free to take a look at this little thing I wrote for the good people at ESPN Cricinfo.