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from Bruce Manly, proud to have seen Dale Steyn cause the shivers to go down the spine

What a boytjie! Steyn (pronounced Steeeeeeeeeen in Oz speak) rattled the furniture yesterday at the WACA and them Aussies are starting to quake. Now, suddenly our pace quartet are being compared to the ‘greatest ever’ – Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner from the halcyon West Indies sides of the 1980s and 1990s.

Michael Holding has put the Australian top order on notice rating the Protea pace arsenal the most ferocious attack to arrive in almost 20 years. Australia has not lost a test series at home since Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh terrorised the home team with a cocktail of raw pace and steepling bounce.

It’s being predicted that the Proteas will unleash this quartet and provide some chin music against a doddery Mathew Hayden and a relatively inexperienced opener in Simon Katich. The man with the wonky wrist, Ricky Ponting comes in at first change and he can;t be looking forward to a fired up Steyn and Morkel clocking up 154kmph deliveries.

Such is the interest in the series, Melbourne Cricket Ground patrons are rushing to buy tickets for the Boxing Day test – already 41,500 tickets have been sold which is 3,500 more than for an Ashes test at this stage of the month. Corporate boxes are sold out and after the AFL Grand Final, this is the biggest corporate occasion at the MCG – probably due to the fact that most leading Aussie companies have a significant of South African ex-pat executives!

……from Bruce Manly in the Hay Street Mall in Perth, scanning the betting shops and trying to cope with the trauma of Morkel’s ‘rolled ankle’.

Punters have turned against the Australian cricket team – and I don’t mean that there’s dissent in the ranks – after all, Ricky Ponting’s nickname of punter has been well earned. They say over here in the land of Oz that if you really want to win the office sweep, look at the bookie’s odds!

Betfair have now gone on record as saying that after 17 years of Test dominance, the betting trend has gone against the local team for the first test against the Proteas and also for a series win. Punters can get black and white figures (that means $2 or better for those of us who are ignorant of the punt) against the Aussies for the first time that in a home test since ‘Pup’ Clarke (that Michael Clarke, the vice-captain) really was a pup.

The Aussies are out at $2.10, the South Africans at $3.80 while a draw is an outsider at $3.80. To put it into perspective The Kiwis drifted at between $13 and $15 during the recently completed series. Sportingbet have said that punters are even shying away from backing a home series win for the men in the baggy green. “The confidence of punters in the Australian team is gone”, said the MD Michael Sullivan. “We can hardly win a bet on them to win the series at $1.85”.

A great time to earn some hard currency!

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from Bruce Manly chilling next to the Swan river in Perth sipping on a chilled Swannie (Lager that is)

It looks as thought the New Year’s test in Sydney is going to live up to its reputation as a swansong venue for a long-serving Australian cricketer. Over the years, Aussies have made a habit of signing off in Sydney – remember Steve Waugh’s famous 127?
Well, talk is that big Matty Hayden is ready to hand in his card, abandon hope of playing in the Ashes next year, and go off to collect a pension in the IPL.

Attention is now focussed on his replacement – Chris Rogers (31) from Victoria or Phil Hughes (20) from New South Wales. The much loved and the late David Hookes famously said on more than one occasion that when a baggy blue cap was handed to a NSW debutant, an Australian Test baggy green was given as well to save time! For those who lived and played outside the NSW dressing room, the cynical view had widespread support. As the immediate past coach of Victoria, Hookesy would be screaming from the rooftops over the latest push out of Sydney for left-hander opener Phillip Hughes to become the heir apparent to Matthew Hayden.
As the First Test against South Africa in Perth next week looms and Hayden’s grand career draws closer to a natural conclusion, Hughes will at the same time pad up for the Blues, the calls for his elevation to Test status becoming louder all the time.

This summer Rogers has played a game less than his NSW counterpart and scored 621 runs at an average of 88.71, with three centuries. He has played 130 first class matches — including one Test as a stand-in last season — and he averages just on 50. He has recorded 34 first class hundreds. In contrast, Hughes with only 15 first-class matches to his name has scored 1200 runs at an average of 52.17 (3×100; 9×50). “

The smart money’s on Phil Hughes walking out at the Wanderers!

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AMERICAN golfer John Daly grabbed a spectator’s camera and smashed it into a tree in the first round of the Australian Open today.

Daly, who is heading for an early exit from the tournament, pushed his tee shot on the ninth hole – his final one of the round – and walked into a clump of trees when golf fan Brad Clegg tried to take his picture from close range.

It was the last straw for Daly, who was clearly frustrated at his lack of success in three tournaments in Australia this season.

After snatching the camera he stalked up to the nearest tree and hurled it with all his force into the trunk, saying “you want it back, I’ll buy you a new one”.

As Daly completed the hole Clegg, a 15-handicapper at Sydney club Ashlar, was left to pick up the pieces – literally.

Clegg, who had taken a leave day especially to see Daly play, said it was a disappointing way to finish the day.

“It hasn’t ended well,” he said.

Asked if he would be seeking compensation, Clegg said: “I don’t think I’ll be chasing him for the money. He’s a big bloke.”

Clegg said he had come out specifically to watch Daly because it might be the last chance he has.

“It was very unexpected,” he said.

Clegg said he did not think he had provoked Daly.

“I was bold but I wasn’t unreasonable,” he said.

Daly shot a six-over-par 78 and will need something special tomorrow if he is to avoid missing his third cut in as many weeks.

Manu

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Pat Symcox has weighed in with his own bit of free publicity in the war of words before the Proteas-Australia test series in an interview where he has labelled the Proteas ‘pathetic’ for talking up their talent before actually playing in Australia.

Symcox insists his former side is living in false hope by believing its recent 2-0 Test series win against Bangladesh is an adequate formline for playing Australia at home.
“To believe that they are now well-prepared to take on the Aussies after a convincing win at home against Bangladesh is naive in the extreme,” Symcox said.

“Bangladesh would battle to beat my local ski-boat club on a bad day.

“To hear players and coaches stating how well they played against these palookas is really pathetic.”

Symmo is well remembered here for being hit on the head by a flying roast chicken while fielding in the deep at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the mid-90s. Although the rather over-refreshed spectator apologised for his actions, Symcox’s hilarious reactions are still spoken about in the bowels of Kings Cross and other pubs in the vicinity.

Symmo continued with his spray, “Kallis is a great player but in recent times has lost his way,” .

Symcox’s comments will go down like a lead balloon in a South African camp that is confident of winnings its first series in Australia but were the lead item on Channel 9’s sports broadcast throughout Australia this morning.

Talking of Channel 9, Ian Chappell the former Australian great, has had to take a pay cut as the network battles with debt and falling ratings. However, the full line-up of commentators for the Protea series makes one wonder if they’re asking for enlarged commentary boxes – Richie Benaud; Mark Nicholas; Mark Taylor, Ian Healy, Shane Warne, Michael Slater, Ian Chappell and, of course, Tony Greig. I’m not sure how objective that lot are going to be.

Manu

Isn’t it amazing! The world’s economy is in shreds – people have to cut down on their debt and the Australian government is urging everyone to spend, spend, spend!

Big payouts to carers, pensioners and the rest are ensuring that Oz retail survives another Christmas.

All Rudd is doing is saying, sorry I took too much tax and now you can have some back.

Please say a big thank you to our Mr Rudd, sir.

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Coming soon – all the pen pics / news etc for the Bishops Class of ’68

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