Cricket World Cup Final
29 April 2007
30 April 2007
Shosholoza vs. BMW Oracle
3 May 2007
Next picture here
Every four years The America's Cup is held by the current cup champions. For the past three years an army of international sailors have battled each other in a series of regattas for the chance to meet the champion of the America's Cup---Team Alinghi of Switzerland.
So what is so remarkable about a bunch of rich, developed countries and several members of the Richest People in the World list throwing their spare change around to fund an elitist sport and these sailing "syndicates," as they are called? The average budget of these syndicates is over $200 million, but is that suprising to anyone when the funders are individuals like software giant Larry Ellison or biotech CEO Ernesto Bertarelli?
The answer, of course, is "No." But what is remarkable about the 32nd America's Cup is that for the first time ever in its 100+ year history, one of the challengers is from Africa. South Africa, to be exact.
Captain Salvatore Sarno of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) forged ahead with a dream and a plan, out of which was born Team Shosholoza. Sailing on a fraction of the budget of the other syndicates, Team Shosholoza also fielded the first non-white sailors in this prestigious competition.
Currently, the race is on. The warm-up regattas have been sailed over the past three years, all leading up to the Louis Vuitton Cup---which is nearly halfway over. This final bit of this competition (which is almost as long as the ICC Cricket World Cup and comes complete with its own weather delays!) consists of two round robin stages, followed by a semi-final and final. The winner earns the right to meet Bertarelli's Team Alinghi in the America's Cup in June (view the trailer here).
After the first round robin stage, Team Shosholoza, despite being green and underfunded, went 5/10 and is in the hunt for a semi-final appearance, although they have left themselves little margin for error. Mechanical problems have been numerous although they have had their share of good luck, too. Out of 11 boats they are lying in 7th and are five points off the pace (a win earns a team two points). As the final round robin stage begins, the South Africans must not lose to any lower-ranking teams, and also must draw blood from those teams in the top four if they wish to advance to the semis.
On Monday they are up against bottom dweller Team United Internet Germany. Shosholoza needs every point if they are to stay in contention, and so therefore each and every race is vital to their survival. It is easy to follow the live racing and read all the results and rankings here. If they can dispose of the Germans and gain some confidence, then perhaps they can slay the proverbial giant, Larry Ellison's Team BMW Oracle Racing, who has lost only one race (out of 10) so far. They face the Americans on 1 May. In their first meeting last week, Shosholoza gave the yanks a scare, but in the end BMW Oracle's experience won the day and the race for them. A win on 1 May would leave Shosholoza in a fine spot going into their next races and keep them in the hunt for a coveted (and historical) semi-final place.
Good luck Team Shosholoza!
Watch more of Shosholoza:
German TV clip
Well, it's come and gone, with no lack of irony that the only thing shortened in the whole tournament was its showpiece match, and even that went down kicking and screaming, not so gently into the night. For a great read on the ICC and its administrative bunglings, check out this article in CricInfo.org.
But the best team won in the end, and there'll be more analysis to follow, once the bitter taste has subsided. Bring on the IAAF Track and Field season!
An inferiority complex about Australia and sport is something uniquely South African (and perhaps Kiwi, too). In the light of a team that yesterday won its third successive Cricket World Cup, to go along with its multitude of other sporting triumphs, this article analyses why the Australians are so good at sport. Perhaps we can learn from them?
Prior to the 1968 Olympic Games, with a few notable exceptions such as American gridiron football, baseball and basketball, and rugby league in
By 1980 a proposed blueprint for future success had been accepted; the government committed to provide long term funding to establish a national centre of excellence - the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) – to be built in the nation's capital,
In the first four year cycle between 1980 and 1984, government provided the AIS with the equivalent of about R500 million (in current terms). This produced a steep increase in the number of Olympic medals won from 5 and 9 in 1976 and 1980 respectively to 24 at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. By 1996 funding increased to about R2.0 billion per 4 year cycle, reaching closer to about R3.0 billion prior to the 2000 Sydney Olympics at which Australian athletes won 58 medals, their largest haul. Interestingly there has been a linear relationship between the amount of money spent each year by Australian sport and the number of medals won in Olympic competition. The wisdom in the words of a former CEO of the AIS, Olympic marathoner Deek de Castella has been proven: “Money in equals medals out”.
In brief, the Australian model is based on the following foundations:
1. Adequate financial resources.
There has been a progressive increase in the level of funding for elite sport in
2. Enthusiastic government support.
Since 1987 the AIS has merged with the government appointed Australian Sports Commission with the result that a common vision for Australian sport can be followed. Accountability is also maximized by this close relationship.
3. Athletic scholarship programmes.
The AIS offers scholarships to about 700 athletes in 35 different sports each year. Scholarship athletes have the opportunity to live and train at identified sporting campuses whilst in contact with coaching staff, medical personnel and sports scientists for up to 6 months at a time. These programmes are integrated nationally to insure that knowledge is shared across all sporting disciplines wherever located in the national structure.
4. Progressive expansion of physical resources
Whereas the work of the AIS was initially focused exclusively in
In addition, each state has its own Institute of Sport at which expertise comparable to that originally found only at the AIS in Canberra can be provided to athletes training either at the centre of specialization in that state or as individual scholarship athletes.
5. Development of world-leading scientific and coaching expertise (intellectual capitol)
The AIS currently employs 75 official coaches in the supported sports. These coaches are distributed across
The key point not often fully understood is that the financial support for Australian sport by the Australian government has not simply improved the sporting and training facilities available for Australian athletes and allowed athletes and coaches to devote themselves fully to their sports. More importantly, it has allowed the development of a rich intellectual capitol, available for all future Australian athletes, coaches, scientists and medical personnel.
This intellectual capitol grows exponentially with each passing year and is never lost since it is part of an integrated whole that has become a national sporting treasure. Nor can this treasure be suddenly lost or indeed replicated overnight by other countries that have lacked the sporting foresight of the Australian government of the late 1970’s.
The special case of Australian cricket (section written by Prof Tim Noakes of the UCT Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine)
Whilst Australians appreciate Olympic sporting success, the national sport remains cricket. In part this is historical and the result of the continuing hold that one man, Sir Donald Bradman, has on the national sporting psyche.
Bradman, the greatest cricketer of all time by some margin, came to prominence at a critical time in Australian history when the nation was financially strapped as a result of the First World War and the Depression and at the financial mercy of the
In this period of great national misery, almost the sole ray of hope was Bradman’s consistency in repeatedly scoring centuries seemingly every time he went to bat and his ability to inspire Australian cricketing victories over the distrusted English.
Two crucial visions that Australian cricket shares with those of the AIS are (i) the development of intellectual capitol and (ii) the retention within the system of the expertise of former players. Thus Australian cricket currently employs two full time research scientists to insure that its science remains ahead of that of its competitors. Those scientists are currently working with more than 10 doctoral students in various Australian Universities. The retention of the expertise of former players explains why, for example, Shane Warne did not have to learn the art of spin bowling from scratch. Rather his brilliance owes at least something to that lineage of world-class Australian wrist spinners – Clarrie Grimmett and Bill O’Reilly in the 1920’s and 30’s and Richie Benaud in the 1950’s and 60’s – who laid the foundation for Warne’s success over the entire course of the 20th century.
Finally there is the perception that Australian cricketers never give up – an ingrained attitude that antedates the influence even of Sir Don Bradman. There are clearly important lessons for South African cricket in this example.
Check out this article on Zhou Chunxiu after her victory in the London Marathon.
It talks about her weekly training distance, a staggering 300 km a week! That is effectively one marathon a day, no rest! She says it's broken up into two sessions a day, covering about 50 km in total.
One wonders how much influence the famous turtle blood has on her ability to sustain such high mileage, because physiologically, it is almost impossible. Of course, there are exceptions, and in a nation of a billion people, it's not impossible that one would be able to handle this. But, given the history and the legacy left by the Chinese women of the early 1990's, I'm sceptical.
Also, interesting how the Chinese government takes 40% of the appearance fees AND prize money to re-invest into future athlete development. It won't all be going to her development, because other Chinese athletes will never even smell the kind of money she earned, but it is an unusual system for handling professional athletes. I wonder if we did that in South Africa whether it would be accepted by the athletes, managers and coaches. Can't see it happening...
Right, so we're halfway through the CWC final, with Australia making 281-4, thanks to Adam Gilchrist's brilliant 149 off only 104 balls - the highest score ever in a World Cup Final, and fastest 100 to boot.
The first 10 overs were steady, only 46 (Australia's lowest score off 10 this whole tournament), but between 10 and 20, they were unstoppable - 91 runs scored, and it wasn't even a Power Play.
I must admit (somewhat sheepishly) that I had been thinking that perhaps the time was right for Gilchrist to retire, he hasn't been the dominant force he used to be. It's often appeared to me that he's not been hungry to keep going, and as a result, was making a lot of 20's and 30's, never going on to make huge 100's. But I guess what better occasion to be hungry than a world cup final? And he rode his luck, but what a great innings.
Match-winning? I think so, it will take a phenomenal innings from someone to beat that. And Sri Lanka's problem is that they have a lot of run-a-ball scramblers in the middle of the order, and that won't be good enough. So it's up the 163-year old Sanath Jayasuria to take them there.
Let's hope it's exciting, but I have a feeling the game's gone already. I call Sri Lanka to reach about 220 for 7 by the time that fat lady sings.
So rain has delayed the start of the CWC Final. Let's hope they get 50 Overs a side in.
But wouldn't it be ironic that a 7-week tournament comes to and end with a final that has to be shortened because of rain?
So I see that Ponting has won the toss, and Australia will bat - so our prediction from earlier can be filtered - Australia to win by 60 runs!
The eternal Cricket World Cup (all 7 weeks of it) comes to an end tomorrow when
But before the curtain draws, we have one more game, one more chance to rescue a tournament drowning in mediocrity. Australia, who have steam-rollered all before them, take on Sri Lanka, who, out of the only eight teams who can really claim to be a cricket nation, have looked most likely to upset the canary yellow juggernaut.
Much depends on the toss of a coin, and with the Barbados pitch known to favour seam bowling, Australia appear to have the upper hand (if they didn't already), especially if they bowl first in seamer friendly conditions. This is however doing a disservice to Chaminda Vaas, one of the canniest and most skillful bowlers around. Then of course there is Lasith Malinga, whose hairstyle is only marginally more unusual than his bowling action. I wince every time he enters his delivery stride, for the biomechanics of his bowling action appear to defy the laws of physics. Judging from the way the
And facing up to these two Sri Lankans will be Matthew Hayden, who has been majestic this tournament.
Nor will Muttiah Muralitharan play a significant role in the greater context of the game. For if Hayden has his day, Murali will be bowling inside the first 20 overs, with 130 on the board. And even a return of 2 for 30 from 10 will not prevent
Ultimately, however, the problem for
Our call - if Aus bats first, they win by 60 runs. If they bowl first, win by 5 wickets.