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Archive for December 2009

Sweltering into the New Year

Its been some hot two days in Melbourne as 2009 comes to an end but the first day of they year is forecast to have more comfortable temperatures.

Today the forecast says the temperature will reach 38 degrees and yesterday it was the same level.

I think the problem is when the the minimum temperature is as high as 24 degrees like last night because that means the night will be so warm and you have to endure the air-conditioning noise all night long.

I think there is going to a cool change later today which fortunatelty means we wont exactly swelter into the New Year.

I remember a few years ago when the last two days of the year had temperatures of above 40 degrees and I remember the New Year's eve was as uncomfortable as it could have been.

I hope the new year will start on a cooler footing and for now I wish you a happy 2010!

Australia one up after MCG Test

Australia won the first Test at the MCG after beating Pakistan by 170 runs.

I think this was a very good Test match and better than what I had anticipated at the beginning.

Also the Test went into the fifth day where Pakistan started with a good chance of a draw but that meant batting all day especially as there was going to be no rain.

I think the first innings was the key to the hosts winning as Australia declared at 454 for 5 wickets which didn't look like a high total at the time of declaration.

The tourists had poor first innings but just managed to avoid the follow-on by four runs. Australia's second innings was not as impressive as the first but it was just good enough and I think a better opponent would have taken advantage of that.

This Test was captain Ricky Ponting's 42nd win and therefore he becomes the captain with the most wins.

I think from here he will set a record that will take a long time to match or supercede.

The next Test will be in Sydney as the SCG and I hope its going to be as interesting as the first one.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all readers of this blog and I wish you a prosperous and successful 2010.

Many thanks to all the people who have taken time to read the various posts on this blog throughout the year and also those who have spared their time to post a comment or two.

These hasn't been any design changes to Owatalk this year but behind the scenes there has been a few changes and hence the improved email notification for example.

Next year is FIFA World Cup year and I look forward to a number of posts around that plus the usual stuff in F1, tennis, Melbourne, Zimbabwe and so on.


Schumacher to race for Mercedes

Michael Schumacher has come out of retirement to race for the Mercedes team which took over Brawn GP.

Schumacher's team-mate will be Nico Rosberg who was at Williams this year.

Schumacher nearly returned to F1 when he attempted to replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari but that was not possible because of neck problems.

I think this is going to be interesting to see Schumacher back and see how competes against the likes of Lewis Hamilton and champion Jenson Button.

I think he will be assured of a fast car because Mercedes took over Brawn GP who won both the drivers and constructors' championships.

I can see McLaren and Ferrari being more competitive than what they were this year and I think that will make it difficult for Schumacher to win the driver's championship but I am sure he will be able to win some races.

Schumacher's joining Mercedes will unite him with Ross Brawn who was team principal when he was at Ferrari.

Meanwhile there will be four new teams on the grid next season. Lotus, Virgin Racing, Campos and US F1 are all expected to lineup on the grid next year.

Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen are going to be driving for Lotus whilst former Toyota driver Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi will drive for Virgin Racing.

Campos has so far signed Bruno Senna and are still to announce the second driver.

US F1 are still to announce their driver lineup.

Zim commissions announced at last

At last the names of the people in the Zimbabwe Media Commission, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission were announced earlier this week bringing an end to speculation that had gone on for at least four months.

I am actually happy to see that the people in the Zimbabwe Media Commission have been named including its chairperson Godfrey Majonga and I am keen to see it starting to do some work in the coming year.

All these commissions are very important but I think that the one that could have immediate impact will be the media one when it starts processing applications for media licensing.

There has been tight media control in Zimbabwe over the last 30 years and at the moment there is no independent daily paper and independent television is just but a dream.

I hope the media commission will do its work quickly and process applications for people who have had their projects on hold for some time.

With unemployment so high at the moment in Zimbabwe, I think the media sector once fully opened up can employ a number of people which is good.

This could also see some experienced journalists go back to Zimbabwe because before they were simply no jobs especially after the Daily News stopped operating.

Its good also to see the new Electoral Commission established when the last one didn't even have the courage to announce the results.

After the 2008 General Elections, the results were withheld for a very long time and I could see that the electoral commission of the day didn't any much power at all over elections it was meant to have organised.

I hope that this new one will be truly independent and not be run by one of the political parties as was obvious in the last one.

These parliament driven commissions bring an end to commissions stuffed with retired army personnel.

One area of concern is funding to get these commissions rolling. Without the necessary funding I cannot see them do their work effectively and I hope the unity government will make sure that these commissions are well funded.

Australia face Pakistan next

Australia will face Pakistan in another three match Test series after seeing off the West Indies in the first series of the summer.

The first series ended up being very interesting after a less than competitive first Test at the Gabba which ended after three days.

I was surprised to see the Windies turnaround in the Adelaide and Perth Tests where the Windies were quite good and I think they had a good chance of the winning the third Test.

But Australia did well especially in bowling to make sure they won the series 2-nil. Given the way the series was going it would have interesting to see what could have happened in the fourth Test.

Unfortunately the Test series could easily be remembered for indiscipline in both the Aussies and Windies ranks and lets that's the last we will see of that this summer.

That brings to the three Test series against Pakistan which start in three days time at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Pakistan has finished a tour of New Zealand where they drew the series 1-1 after a draw in Napier in the last Test.

The third and last Test will be at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart, Tasmania and its good to see a Test match being played in Tasmania.

Tough group for Socceroos

The draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa has now been conducted and the Socceroos have been drawn in a tough Group D.

The Socceroos will meet Germany, Ghana and Serbia and this seems to be a very tough group and I think getting out of it will be hard.

I think the toughest match will be against Germany who are the seeded team in this group but its good also that this is the first match. I think that will set the tempo for the remaining two group matches.

The second match will be against Ghana and the last one will be against Serbia.

I would have liked the Black Stars and the Socceroos to go through from this group but I think its a group where any two of the four teams can go through.

Germany has big match experience and they know exactly how to play at these kind of tournaments and I would very surprised if they are not in the second round.

This is the same German team that reached the final of Euro 2008 and lost narrowly to Spain and also in qualifying they managed to put fancied Russia into second place.

Serbia qualified from the same group as France and forced France into the playoffs.

They lost two matches and drew one and they scored a total of 22 goals and only conceding eight. Milan Jovanovic scored five of those goals.

The matches they lost were 2-1 narrow defeats against France and Lithuania and their drawn match was the home match against France.

I think also they don't have much to lose and that gives them another advantage.

I think Ghana is one of the top two teams from the African region and like Ivory Coast they play as as a team even though they have stars like Michael Essien in their ranks.

This will be a very tough match for the Socceroos especially as this will be in Africa with most of the local people probably supporting Ghana.

Ghana has some very fast play and they would have gained experience from participation in Germany three years ago. I will watch the Black Stars very closely now in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.

I hope the preparation from now on until June 13th will be spot on in order to get the Socceroos ready for this tough group.

Meanwhile its good to see that in the first two rounds of the 2010 World Cup there will be matches at 9:30 pm Melbourne time and then midnight and 4:30 am.

From round three onwards kickoff will be midnight and 4:30 am.

The Socceroos have one group match against Ghana at midnight and then the other two are all at 4:30am.

A 33 team World Cup?

I found the article on the BBC website saying that the Football Association of Ireland(FAI) had asked FIFA to consider an extra place for Ireland at the 2010 FIFA World Cup very interesting.

Its unfortunate that Ireland lost out on a place at the 2010 World Cup because Thierry Henry handled the ball before passing it to William Gallas who scored the equaliser for France in extra time but I don't think that warrants an extra place for Ireland at the World Cup.

I would have very much liked Ireland to be at the World Cup in South Africa but surely not as a 33rd team because then every team that had a decision against them would claim for an extra place for themselves as well.

In the France/Ireland second leg match in Paris, the aggregate score before Gallas scored was 1-1 and therefore the match was heading towards penalties to decide the winner.

Its not like Ireland were in the driving seat en-route to the World Cup but they were going to go to penalties and then it would have been anybody's game.

There is nothing to suggest that France were going to lose those penalties or that Ireland were going to win those penalties but either team was going to have a fair chance of qualifying.

I am waiting to see what FIFA will do but I will be surprised if they will allow a 33rd team at the World Cup because that will create all sorts of problems in terms of organising that World Cup.

I also think that if that were to happen a lot of teams will review all their matches and if they find any wrong decision they will also claim a place at the World Cup which I think it will be a fair claim if Ireland were get a place themselves.

I think FIFA should try to do away with these playoffs where possible for the 2014 World Cup qualification.

The playoffs are very tense matches for the officials, players and spectators alike and everything is analysed in great detail because of the World Cup place at stake.

There is a lot riding on the World Cup for the whole nation let alone the players and so everybody wants to be involved and if teams can be decided in group games that would be great.

The playoff can then be held for matches like in the situation of Egypt/Algeria where there was no way to separate the two teams.

Also FIFA should punish the players who cheat. So far as far as I know nothing has been said about what is going to happen to Henry and I think FIFA should do something about it.

That will not stop players from cheating especially with a World Cup place on hand but it will act as a deterrent especially if a player is banned say three matches at the World Cup.

Meanwhile the World Cup draw will be conducted on Friday in Cape Town but it will be in the early hours of the morning here in Australia.

The SBS will show the draw live but I think I will miss that live cast and wait for the analysis after.