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Archive for December 2008

South Africa wraps up series

South Africa wrapped up the Test Series against Australia on the fifth day after successfully chasing the 183 run target set by Australia to win by nine wickets.

This was a very interesting Test match and the match seemed to swing from one team to the other until the end of the third day.

On the first day it looked like South Africa were on top after the Australian top batsmen failed to click but Australia's tail managed to get the score to 394 on the second day.

But I think the real drama was on the end of the second day when it looked so likely that South Africa were going to struggle and possibly lose. South Africa ended day two on 198 for seven and that was 196 runs behind Australia's first innings total and it looked like South Africa would be dismissed early on the third day.

But up stepped Jean-Paul Duminy who scored 166 runs and together with Dale Steyn's 76 took South Africa's tally to an unimaginable 459.

I think that was the turning point for the match because from then on I think the worst South Africa could get was a draw.

I think Australia's biggest problem is in the bowling department. At the moment there is so much reliance on magic moments but there is no consistency.

This is not surprising especially given it will take some time to replace Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

This is the first time for Australia to lose a series at home since 1992/93 in the loss to the West Indies.

Now the third and final Test is a dead rubber but I am hoping that it wont be a series whitewash.

A draw could be a good result at the SCG at the moment.

Hauritz for Boxing Day Test

Nathan Hauritz will replace Jason Krejza when Australia play South Africa in the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

Australia has to avoid defeat in the MCG Boxing Day Test because that will make South Africa win the series after their six wicket win in the Perth first Test.

Normally the MCG Test is the fourth Test when Australia plays a five Test series in the summer but this year its a three Test series against South Africa after Australia first won two easy Tests against New Zealand.

It is in the bowling department where I think Australia is facing its greatest challenges. Krejza did not play any worse in terms of wickets at the WACA because he took just one wicket but so did Peter Siddle and Brett Lee.

But Krejza conceded the highest number of runs yielding 204 runs in nearly 50 overs and this was more than any other bowler and I think that's why he is being replaced by Hauritz.

But I am keen to see what Hauritz will do at the MCG and this is a good chance for him to prove his worth in what is proving to be a problem area for Australia.

Merry Christmas

Once again I am writing to wish all the readers of this blog a Merry Christmas and a very successful 2009.

I hope you will all have a wonderful time and loads of fun. Owatalk will continue into the new year and your readership and continued support has made this blog what it is now.

Have a good time, cheers.

Wheel starts turning

The Southern Star wheel started working on the weekend and the website has since been updated since my last post on the wheel.

This is a welcome attraction to Melbourne and I think some people will also find it interesting. Without taking a ride myself I am not so sure how much one really sees from that wheel but I hope to go there soon.

Another thing to consider is whether one can get a better view from Eureka Tower but in terms of experiences maybe the Southern Star will be more interesting.

On the pricing, I was surprised to see that the people at Southern Star did not consider having a family ticket. At the moment adults pay $29 and children pay $17 and for thirty minutes worth of fun the pricing seem steep.

They have got all these other groups including a category called International students but I think they should also add a family ticket in that mix.

Mourinho to face Fergie test

Italian giants Inter Milan were drawn against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

Once again it will be Jose Mourinho against Alex Ferguson and the last time around the two managers clashed in a Champions League encounter Mourinho won with Porto and went on to win the coveted trophy.

This time the second leg once again will be at Old Trafford in March and its going to be interesting to see what will happen in that match because one thing is certain and it is the fact that one of them will not reach the quarters.

In a draw which pitted all Italian teams against English ones, Chelsea were paired against Juventus whilst Arsenal will battle it out against Roma.

Because the Gunners and the Blues finished second in their groups, both second legs will be in Italy.

I think it will be a tough test for Chelsea who I think began the season well but have become inconsistent of late.

Claudio Ranieri now with the Turin giants will be playing against his former team for the first time since he left the Bridge and so both legs will be played in familiar surroundings for him.

As for the Gunners its hard to tell with them and I think you basically see how they play on the day. These fixtures are so far away as well and its very hard to predict what may happen because in between there is also the January transfer window.

Liverpool were drawn against Real Madrid and this is going to be a tricky fixture. Juande Ramos is now in charge at the Bernabeau and surely he will be trying to make sure he shows the English fans he is a good coach after a bad spell at Spurs and if he strengthens his team in January it could be a very tight encounter.

Villareal were drawn against Panathinaikos and I think it was fair these two teams were drawn together. It means that one of them will be in the quarter finals which I think is good for the fans of these two teams which I wouldn't classify as one of the biggest left in the draw.

If Barcelona continue playing the way they are doing at the moment then I think Lyon are as good as out after being drawn against the Spanish giants.

Bayern Munich will battle it out against Sporting Lisbon and I fancy Bayern to go through especially as they play the last leg in Munich.

Lastly but not least former champions FC Porto have been drawn against Atletico Madrid and I this is an even tie which can easily go either way. I was impressed with Atletico in the group phase and they should have won at Anfield but in Porto they are facing a very experienced team in this competition.

I think I will do a review sometime in February because at the moment the fixtures are so far away and a lot can happen in between. Key players can be injured, clubs could bring new talent in January and so on but by mid-February it should be clear who is likely to advance to the quarters.

All in all this draw produced some appetising encounters and I am keen to see who will remain standing in March and into the quarter-finals.

Southern Star not turning

The latest Melbourne attraction, the Southern Star Observation wheel seems to be having problems because nearly three weeks after it was scheduled to open it hasn't started operating.

Sometime in October it was announced by the Premier John Brumby that the wheel would be opened on the 28th of November but come 28th of November nothing happened and even now there doesn't seem to be any movement.

I have just been to wheel's website and the site says it will open in late 2008.

The site also says that tickets prices will be announced soon which means that the operators have not yet decided how much they will charge for a ride on the wheel.

I hope that the Southern Star will be open before the school holidays finish and in the meantime I will just keep checking the website and see what they have to say.

Richmond good decision on Cousins

I think its good that the Richmond Football Club decided to take up Ben Cousins in their draft pick today.

I think it would have been very sad if Cousins had failed to get an AFL team for next year and therefore the fact that Richmond has decided to give him a second chance is commendable.

I think what he did was wrong but he served his punishment and deserves a second chance and I think after a year out of football this time he will be focussed to cover up for lost time.

Whether that will mean he will perform better for Richmond I don't know. I don't watch many AFL matches but next season I will try to go and watch him play for the Tigers.

The onus is now on Cousins to make sure he returns the trust the Tigers have given him and the chance they have given him to revive his career.

Costing cutting measures right direction

I think the F1 costing cutting measures announced the FIA are a move in the right direction.

I think there comes a time when F1 has to decide whether it wants three teams on the grid or ten because if the costs become prohibitive then the other teams will just pull out like what Honda did.

I also think that its a good idea that the one engine for all idea has been thrown out.

We already have A1 racing where there is a one engine for all rule and adopting the same rule for F1 would have been a bad idea.

I also hope that the proposed rule to give medals to the first three drivers will also be thrown away. I don't see how that will benefit the sport especially if those are more likely to be won by just two or three teams and the rest of the teams will have nothing to celebrate.

The current formula of giving points to the top eight races is good because it means that down the grid drivers will still be fighting for the minor places because every point counts.

If the Olympic medal style is introduced then it will mean a driver in sixth will have no incentive to overtake driver in fifth especially when he knows its nearly impossible to reach third position where there would be a bronze medal.

What maybe I would like to see is to see the re-introduction of the rule that awarded the driver who ran the fastest lap a bonus point. That could create a bit of drama and see drivers trying to run the fastest lap.

Melbourne transport plan looks good

The new proposed Melbourne transport plan unveiled today by the Premier John Brumby looks good to me as it also caters for public transport.

Maybe for me the best bit is the South Morang rail extension because the people in South Morang and surrounding suburbs have been clamouring for this for some time now and its good it has been fitted into the plan.

In future the line could be extended to Mernda but thats for another plan I think.

This will make that whole area in the north of Epping an attractive place to live for people who want to use public transport especially when going to the city.

The other thing that I liked is the proposed link between the Metropolitan Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway. Currently it takes so long to drive from the Greensborough end of the Metropolitan Ring Road to the Eastern Freeway and a link between the roads would of great help.

I think even if the link is made a tollway its better to have that option than the current situation where there is no option at all. That route could also be used as an alternative route to the airport by people in the Eastern suburbs.

All the other plans do not directly affect me and so I am not going to dwell on them but I think the 17 kilometre cross-city tunnel from Caulfield to Footscray via St Kilda Road and inner Melbourne is a very good idea.

It seems however that there will never be a train link to Melbourne Airport something that I wish once in a while it was there.

Honda up for sale

The Honda F1 team has put its team up for the sale after a less than successful 2008 season.

Honda finished with only 14 constructors points from its two drivers Jenson Button and Reuben Barrichello and the two drivers never challenged for the podium.

I thought that Honda were going to do very well in 2008 after Ross Brawn joined the team at the end of last season but his joining seems to not have had the expected impact.

Now if nobody buys the Honda team there will be nine teams left next season which means 18 cars on the grid. That may not be very good for F1 because as it stands right now it will not be surprising to hear of another team pulling out.

In these harsh economic times for car manufacturers and everybody else for that matter, F1 racing may not be the thing high on their list but I am hoping somebody will buy the Honda team so that there will be twenty teams.

The proposed idea from Bernie Ecclestone of giving medals to the three top places may actually make the sport even less popular because those three positions are likely to be shared by just three or four teams throughout the season.

Therefore a team not getting one of those three positions may not find it very attractive to participate in the sport.

Unending new notes

Once again the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is going to release some new notes in its unending cycle of introducing new notes followed by cutting zeros.

This time the RBZ is introducing $10-million, $50-million and $100-million notes after the price of goods has gone so high the previous notes had become useless.

I agree with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) that there should be no limit in what people can withdraw from their bank accounts.

If the RBZ would like to put limits then these must be on the ATM withdrawals but people who go into the banking hall must be allowed to get as much money as they want as long as they have it in their account.

Its up to the RBZ to make sure that there are enough notes in circulation because people cannot spend days queing to withdraw their money and by the time they get it it will be worthless.

In such an environment of high inflation I think people should be able to get their money when they need it because it becomes valueless so quickly.

Now the new limits are quoted as per week and that is very interesting. Maybe Gideon Gono the RBZ governor is trying to make sure that people only go to the bank once a week and get money they can use for the next three days or so and then struggle for another week to start and I think that is unacceptable.

Meanwhile, its sad to see that deteriorating situation has now lead to the spread of disease in the form of cholera and anthrax and I think the number of people who have died is probably six to ten times more than the number quoted in the official figures.

Its hard to see what can be done and quickly when the current defacto government of Robert Mugabe doesn't seem to care about the people at all.

Less than a dollar a litre

For the first time in a very long time I bought fuel for less than one dollar a litre in Melbourne and it was very good.

I can't remember the last time unleaded fuel cost less than a dollar a litre and it was good to be able to do so this week.

For some time the fuel price on the world market has fallen but it always takes time for the lower price to filter down to the pump.

I have always wondered why it takes so long for the price to come down and yet when it goes up on the whole market its quickly reflected on the pump.

I also think the lower fuel price has come at a good time in December where I do a bit of travelling than normal and I am now hoping that it will stay like for some time.