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Archive for August 2009

Free zone 2 bus travel

Travelling by bus in the Melbourne Metlink's Zone 2 will be free every weekend of September.

In an effort to get more people to use buses over the weekend, all bus travel will be free on Saturday and Sunday for the whole month of September.

I think its a good move but maybe they should have said buses in both zones 1 and 2.

Its good if you are travelling within zone 2 but the problem comes when you want to start or finish your journey in zone 1. In that case you are expected to have a valid zone 1 ticket.

I am keen to see if bus patronage will increase in Zone during September.

Maiden pole for Force India

Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella got his team first ever pole position when he qualified first for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Last season Force India failed to score a single point and I hope that Fisichella will be able to turn this pole position into some points at the end of the race.

Second on the grid will be Toyota's Jarno Trulli and in second row will be Nick Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello.

Current championship leader will have to fight hard to get points here after he qualified fourteenth. He has Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen for company as they qualified 13th and 15th respectively.

Federer triumphs in Cincinnati

Roger Federer is edging towards another record after the world number one beat Novak Djokovic in four sets and claim his sixteenth Master's title.

Federer is just one title away from reaching the record 17 Masters title won by Andre Agassi. I think Federer will reach that milestone and pass it to set his own record now that he has found his form again.

Federer completely dominated the first set winning it 6-1 but Djokovic gave some resistance in the second as he lost 7-5.

This was a very good preparation for Federer having beaten Andy Murray in the semis and with the US Open only a week away he is once again the favourite to win the last grand slam of the year.

England wins Ashes

England regained the Ashes series after winning the final Test at the Oval by 197 runs.

This has been a see-saw series with both teams either playing so well or so badly and then there was the rain mix which helped get the two series.

After Australia's massive win at Headingly I was confident a win was possible at the Oval but scoring 160 runs in the first innings did not help.

In that first innings the openers did very well scoring 84 runs between themselves more than half the total from there the highest score came from Peter Siddle.

Once England declared 373 in their second innings to set a chase of 545 for the tourists with two days to go I knew the best result from then would have been a draw assuming the rain came in.

But this time the rain did not intervene leaving England to regain the Ashes after bowling Australia out for 348.

Its interesting to see that England did not lose a match with Andrew Flintoff in the side and also they did not have Kevin Pieterson for the last four Tests.

I am now looking forward to the Twenty20 matches which will then be followed by the one day matches and I hope they are going to be just as interesting.

Barrichello ends five year wait

Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello ended his five year wait for a win when he won the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

The last win for Barrichello was five years ago at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai when he was driving for Ferrari.

On the podium with Barrichello was reigning champion Lewis Hamilton who started the race on pole and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

I thought that Hamilton was going to win his second successive race of the season but in the end Barrichello had a strategy which was made for success.

In fourth place was a rare placing near the top for McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen who was just ahead of Williams's Nico Rosberg.

Kovalainen finishing fourth and Hamilton finishing second seems to point to the fact the McLaren's are on the way up although with six races to go they may not influence the championship that much.

In sixth place came crowd favourite Renault's Fernando Alonso and behind him was current leader Jenson Button.

The last points place went to BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica and it was good to see BMW collecting some points.

Mark Webber finished just outside the points in ninth and I hope that this was just a little blip in his season which has been very good so far.

Stand in Ferrari driver Luca Badoer finished in 17th place which was the second car from the last position.

The next race will be in a week's time at the Belgian Grand prix and I think Button must regain his form of the first few races if he is to win the championship.

England on the ropes

Its looking very good for Australia at the moment in the fourth Test at Headingly and the tourists should soon wrap victory.

Last week I wrote about the importance of winning the fourth Test and now unless something dramatic happens Australia should win comfortably.

England had a very poor first innings scoring just 102 runs and with 445.

Now England in the second innings are on 82 for 5 and still trail Australia by 262 runs.

This is only after day two and therefore it doesn't look that good for England and they may well start preparing for the fifth Test.

Marcus North, Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting shone for Australia in their innings whilst Peter Siddle took five wickets in England first innings.

I hope this Test will over on the third day and now there will be a showdown at the Oval to see who takes the Ashes.

Hero debates starts again

It has become a pattern that when somebody dies and is accorded hero status in Zimbabwe, some people question the process used to accord that hero status and rightly so.

This week the Vice President Joseph Msika died and I think there is no doubt that he deserves to be declared a hero after serving the country for so many years.

However, its not always that somebody has universal acceptance as a hero and sometimes its about who actually doesn't get that recognition.

The Zanu PF politburo is charged with according people hero status and I think in this day and era that shouldn't be the case.

Maybe it was well and truly good when Zanu PF was the ruling party and the fact of the matter is that they are no longer and are in fact are now a minority party.

The idea of designating people as heroes by the politburo possibly made sense during the days when Zimbabwe was virtually a one-party state but things have changed now.

What happens if there is a new government led by another party other than Zanu PF. Does it mean that that party's supreme body the equivalent of the politburo will make that call?

That surely can't be right and I think that now is the time to set up an independent body which will decide who is a hero and who is not and at level.

Another thing to look at is the idea of giving people awards or medals before they die and not to wait until they die.

Also the hero net needs to be expanded to look beyond politicians but to also include academics, sports people, artists and so on to encompass the whole population and not just a clique.

Also an independent body would have fairly assessed people like Patrick Kombayi whom some felt deserved to be declared heroes tut obviously the Zanu PF politburo did not see it that way and there could be other cases of similar examples.

The sooner that task is taken away from the Politburo the better because Zanu PF is no longer the ruling party and things have changed and its time to move forward.

Headingley Test critical for both teams

After the third Ashes Test was drawn at Edgbaston, the fourth Test at Headingly has now become very critical with Australia needing to avoid a loss to stay in the hunt.

An England win would hand over the Ashes to the home team because that will mean a 2-nil lead at that stage but a draw wouldn't be that bad either for England.

For Australia I think this is a must win Test even though a draw could be good enough but that would require winning the last Test.

I think the rain helped make sure that the third Test was a draw with really noone having an upper hand.

While the tourists had a poor first innings, I think Michael Clarke helped Australia to a commendable second innings with his century and that should help going into the fourth Test.

Whilst England talked about victory the moment they bowled Australia out for 263, I think they didn't manage to get a good enough lead in their own innings.

I wonder what would have happened had one day not been lost to rain altogether.

Lets hope we see most of the action in the fourth Test and less of the covers.

2009/10 English Premier League preview

The English Premier League kicks off the 2009/10 season when last season's FA Cup winners Chelsea take on Hull at Stamford Bridge and maybe now its a good time to take a brief look at the season ahead.

I think one team most people will be looking at next season is Manchester City after the club brought in Gareth Barry, Carlos Tevez, Roque Santa Cruz, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure.

I will not be surprised to see Mark Hughes adding more quality to his side before the transfer window closes at the end of the month and so on paper they should at least challenge for the title.

I think that even if they don't end up challenging for the title, they should at least finish in the top four places ensuring a champions league place in the 2010/11 season.

Manchester United lost Cristiano Ronaldo who was sold to Real Madrid and added to that they also lost the services of Tevez.

I think it is the services of Ronaldo who they will miss most because the player was their top goal scorer for the last two seasons. Also he drew so much attention and that would free other players.

In return the Old Trafford outfit has brought in Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia and unless they can add on to the list they could find the goals hard to come by this time.

I still think that United are still a strong side will still be favourites to defend their title. I think their biggest challenger will be Chelsea who will now be managed by Carlo Ancelotti.

Ancelotti will come with lots of experience but this will be his first season in the premiership and unless he adjusts quickly his team may struggle a bit. I think its in the Champions League where his team will fare better maybe reaching the final again this time.

Liverpool had a very good season last season and on all accounts should have won the title but I think they will still be strong again this season.

They have managed to retain the key players from last season in Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres and so far they haven't sold any other major player.

The key for Liverpool will be consistence and avoiding the countless draws at home against lowly placed teams. Liverpool did not lose at Anfield last season but they also had a lot of draws which did not help their cause.

I think the team to lose out its top four position to Man City will be Arsenal. So far the Gunners have lost Adebayor and Toure without necessarily replacing them with equally experienced players and so I think they could finish fifth.

I still think Everton, Tottenham and Aston Villa will compete for the top eight places with the rest of the teams fighting relegation.

Last season Spurs had a poor start but I cannot see them having a similar start again this season hence I think they will finish in the top eight.

Talking about relegation, normally the first place I look are the newly promoted sides but last season Stoke did very well whilst Hull had a flying start and it was only West Bromwich that got relegated in the end.

This season I think Birmingham will be safe but I am not so sure about Wolves and Burnley. Wolves come in as champions but I think the premiership will be a big challenge for them.

I also expect Hull to struggle after a poor finish to the season last season. If we talk about surprise packets then maybe it will be Fulham and Portsmouth.

Pompey have new owners and if they can get some good players then they can be surprise packets and Fulham had a very good season last on the back of their excellent home record and if they continue in the same vein then they could also be surprise packets.

I will continue with my premiership tipping on TipsChallenge and with the Baggies no longer in the premier league I should fare better than last season.

So lets hope that the best team will win the premiership and I hope we will also see some exciting football.

Victoria grouped with Wayamba, Daredevils

Victoria has been drawn in the same group as Delhi Daredevils and Wayamba in the Champions League Twenty20 which will be played in October in India.

There are four groups each with three teams and Victoria is in group D where it will play the the teams from Sri Lanka and India.

I think the idea of the cricket champions league is a very good one and I am keen to see how the Bush rangers will stand up to opposition from the sub-continent and especially in the sub-continent itself.

The two teams from England are going to be decided at the end of this month and have therefore been placed in the draw as team 1 and team 2.

The idea of placing the yet to be decided teams in the draw as teams 1 and 2 is a very good one and I think that's what the Asian Champions League should also follow when it comes to the participating teams from Australia's A-League.

The draw for the Asian Champions League is conducted before the season ends in the A-League but instead of using teams 1 and 2 until the teams are decided, the previous years winners are chosen instead.

Back to cricket I am hoping that Victoria will do well especially as the competition starts before the domestic competition is in full swing here in Australia.