There are now only 8, yes EIGHT days left until that massive sporting event the London Olympics kicks off with what is sure to be an amazing opening ceremony followed by two weeks of great sporting feats. Moments of sporting brilliance and achievement will abound. Until recent weeks and months it has been a good lead-up with the Brits looking more than ready to host such an epic sized event.
But then in recent times we’ve seen basic security cock-ups, the acknowledgement that all tickets were not and would not be sold, including football tickets no less. The arrival of the first athletes has seen the operation of Olympic only lanes commence on the roads, complete with a lost driver and traffic snarls. Then just yesterday an acknowledgement that one part of the opening ceremony act would need to be dropped to facilitate spectators making the last transport services of the evening. Oh and then there’s the weather. Finally, overnight came confirmation that airport border security staff would strike the day before the games begins.
But despite the scrambling things will be fine, there might be some hiccups along the way but all in all the show, including the bookend ceremonies will go on and will run smoothly.
The venues for one are finished and will be able to house the sports and events trouble free for the entire period of the Olympics. There won’t be any holes in the track, bumps where there should not be bumps or poorly designed stadiums.
The security shortfall caused by poor coordination on the part of G4S, the company contracted to provide basic security in the Olympic precinct and event locations will likely be fully plugged. The shortfall will likely be made up by police and defence personnel who will be redeployed from their regular postings to make up for this awful mistake, but it will happen, it has to.
The customs strike will cause some serious gridlock and delays at the airport and is an arrogant and calculated move attempting to embarrass the government. Above all though, people will still get to the Olympic events even after annoying delays which could have been postponed to a time where it wouldn’t result in negative perceptions from the all important tourist market.
All tickets will not be sold, that is a given. There will be numerous venues operating below capacity. But this won’t matter too much, except for the bottom line of the organisation behind the games. More will be given away and there will be a mad scramble to sell as many tickets as possible, even to the bloody football in England for goodness sake. That will surely cause some embarrassment for a soccer, sorry, football loving nation like Ol’ Blighty.
Traffic snarls will cause some headaches for the English people and Londoners with athlete only lanes in operation around and between venues. This will also lead to increased pressure on the public transport network which will be at peak capacity, even overflowing from now until the last of the athletes and visitors depart the nation.
The organising committee can only hope that all other drivers other than one this week actually know where they’re headed, but surely they do and in any case that is a pretty trivial example of an “issue”.
An act was dropped from the opening ceremony overnight, just over a week from the extravaganza commencing. That will be annoying for that act, who were undoubtedly excited to be playing their part in such an historic event. It will also be a tad embarrassing for the artistic director and the organisers who will not have wanted to come to that kind of realisation so close to the beginning of London 2012.
The weather might keep some of the spectators away but the large international contingent and the absolute Olympic fanatics are likely to still want to venture to events. In any case, many events take place in covered facilities anyway.
But these issues, save for likely gridlocked transport for regular Londoners and the broader English population and the serious, but likely to be overcome security shortfalls will not impact negatively on the running of the actual events. There may well be some holes in crowd shots at some of the events because not all tickets were sold and the weather might be a bit shite, but all are likely to go ahead with a level of ease, even if some have to be delayed because the weather is a bit dreary. Embarrassment might just be the worst outcome, along with a bit of a hit on the bottom line.
Overnight the Australian cricket team again went down to the English cricket team in the final match of the best of five one day series over in England where one match was a wash-out. The Australians, in suffering this defeat after a rain shortened match have now experienced their worst ever head-to-head one day series defeat, a terrible statistic for a country that could once put down the English cricket side with ease, be it in one day internationals (ODI) or test match cricket.
Australia lost this series to the England side while sitting at the top of the ODI world rankings with the team we fell to so comprehensively being placed fourth on the list of one day cricketing nations.
Australia did, as far as scores go and balls remaining go close in every single match of the four that were played.
We lost the first match by 15 runs after a full 50 overs after England scored what is these days a quite strong 272 with Australia batting out the full 50 overs in reply only to end up on 257 for the loss 0f 9 wickets.
In the 2nd match Australia scored a decent 251 runs off 50 overs, but England eclipsed that with 26 balls to spare.
The third match was abandoned without any play.
In the fourth Australia started very poorly but managed to reach a total of 200 in the end, giving Australia’s quite strong bowling line-up a decent target to bowl at after what could have easily been a much more devastating collapse of our batting line-up. Again we went close, with England only managing to reach the target of 201 with 13 balls in hand, a surprisingly close match given the poor target.
Then last night, in the final match of the ODI series, in a rain delayed match, Australia scored in 32 overs a reasonably respectable score of 145, reduced to 138 under the Duckworth-Lewis system. With 29 overs of batting because of rain, England reached the 138 run target with 11 balls to spare.
So Australia was close yes, it wasn’t exactly a comprehensive series whitewash in that respect, the team did manage to exert some form of control and did s0 with at times decent batting and reasonably solid bowling displays which just did not result in wickets.
The point is that we were very inconsistent and to lose every match, regardless of how close the team got should have never happened to a team that sees itself at the top of the world rankings and wants to continue to cement that place of dominance atop the world of cricket.
Australia in losing the series were overall too inconsistent with the bat, with the top order performing quite ordinarily and leaving it to the lower order for the most part to at least attempt to post a respectable total.
The Aussies also, over the entire four matches that were played, regardless of how close were were able to get through reasonably economic bowling, only managed to take 14 wickets over the series, that’s an average of just 3.5 wickets per match.
All this is not at all to reflect badly on the northern hemisphere side, they capitalised on the poor and inconsistent form of the Australian team managing to take advantage of our poor batting efforts in particular and break through for wickets and they also made the runs, even if it wasn’t through particularly vibrant and widespread shot-making. They at the least ground out each win.
So Australia will now need to sit down together as a team with management and discuss just what went wrong and how this can be remedied so that we can manage to stay ahead of the pack who are now biting at our heels hungry and well within reach of taking us off the mantle. A team review of the series has already been foreshadowed.
The positive purpose of a tour like the one just passed is that it allows us to identify deficiencies before the major Ashes series which ranks so high above just about any other form of the game outside of the World Cup for one day cricket. We certainly identified those deficiencies.
Firstly, we need to get back to batting basics. Our core batting line-up did not contribute the sorts of runs they have been well and truly capable of in the past.
We cannot say as a nation that we have a dearth of batting talent and that our domestic competition in all forms of the game is second rate, it is not. At times you could say we have too much talent and that makes selecting the best person for each position and then identifying a shadow player or two for each all the more difficult.
What our batsmen need to do is to get back into the nets before the summer and to work on the basic techniques in order to be able to withstand the strongest of bowling lineups that other cricketing nations can hurl at us.
Our batsmen above all else could learn to be more consistent with our top order all more than capable, some world-beating, some in the early stages of an international career, but all who have shown an ability to play with flair and aggression which was badly missed in England.
Our bowlers, while they did quite well, restricting England to a highest score during the series of 272 need to do more than be economical, particularly when our batters fail as they did during the four matches, though they cannot be consistently called upon to save a poor batting effort. Taking under 4 wickets a match is well below sub-par and cannot be tolerated. Some time in the nets bowling at wickets might be just the medicine needed for some of our bowlers who need to be more aggressive than at present.
The team perhaps also in light of the injuries received to our bowlers may need to look at a rotation system where we rely, particularly in the one day matches, on one or two key wicket-taking bowlers and then rotate the rest throughout matches. We can then let the others focus on longer game match fitness in our domestic competition so that they are test match ready.
It should disturb the cricketing fraternity greatly that we didn’t win a single match against the English and a period of looking inwardly at our game plan, players and structure of the team and the management of that time are all a vital part of a mix needed to ensure that we again find ourselves consistent enough to win matches and series’.