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Cam

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Listening to Terry Reader and Bob Jones talking about the Dolphins prospects back in October, they were naturally very optimistic. As Nov 1 was nearing, names being thrown around as possible signings were Cam Munster, Brandon Smith, Christian Welch, Joey Manu, Cody Walker, Viliame Kikau, Reed Mahoney, Clint Gutherson, Harry Grant, Junior Paulo and Dylan Edwards. I looked at potential 2023 R1 teams posted based on off-contract players and you couldn’t help but be excited. The problem is, they didn’t get any of those blokes. To bring some perspective into expectation, Bennett finished 5th on the ladder with his inaugural Broncos team, which was pretty much All-Origin. No doubt he is going to find it an infinitely harder task the second time around. To answer your question, my expectation on November 1st, when I thought the Dolphins were going to announce a raft of quality signings was a 8th-10th finish. They only have 6 players signed at the moment, but based on who they have and who is left on the shelf, I’m adjusting those expectations to bottom 4. Same for 2024. What are you expectations?

Dolphins must start targeting younger players but only three Origin players on market

I agree that existing player contracts have been expedited due to the Dolphins lurking and they have, in most cases, extra coin in their pocket for the experience. The problem I see is that when the squeeze comes on in 2 years, unless the Dolphins are signing players to 1 year contracts, they will be in a worse position than most clubs to sign players for 2024. Most, if not all players will be heading to the Dolphins in 2023 on at least 2 year contracts. The squad that fronts for 2023, will by and large be the same squad for 2024. Beyond that though, there will be some significant roster change.

Dolphins must start targeting younger players but only three Origin players on market

Although you have correctly pointed out there are 14 months until their first game, the Dolphins would have expected to sign much of their roster after November 1st, when players were “officially” allowed to negotiate. What we have seen instead is clubs scrambling to lock up star players, leaving very few quality players left on the shelf. Rather than stepping in to an existing club, initially I thought Bennett would be at a huge advantage with his cap and roster by fronting a new franchise. Starting from scratch, he isn’t weighed down by underperforming players signed by previous coaches to huge money (think what Bennett did with Milford, Bird and Darius Boyd). But surprisingly, the Dolphins are having to pay overs for players and even then, are struggling to gain traction in the market. Come 2024, Bennett could find himself in the same situation as some existing underperforming clubs, a lopsided roster with middling players on long-term contracts. That creates its own vicious cycle where quality players are reluctant to go to bottom 4 clubs. I hate to see them fail, but I reckon there are going to be some pretty lean years ahead.

Dolphins must start targeting younger players but only three Origin players on market

Maybe we will see the Storm pivot in how they had previously operated around their cap. The successful formula in past seasons was to pay unders on talent, knowing they would get the best out of them (think Brandon Smith, Nico Hynes or petty much anyone they signed from the Q Cup). It frees up money to keep their absolute guns, currently Munster, Hughes, Paps, Harry Grant. But with a raft of players leaving at the end of 2022, suddenly they are going to be flush with cash. Smith ($500k), Finucane ($580), Kaufusi ($640k), Bromwich ($660k) and NAS ($675K) will have Storm in the market in a way we haven’t seen for some time. Paps and Welch are locked down long term, Grant, Hughes and Munster can probably expect an upgrade, which will still leave money in the cap. I can’t recall the last time the Storm went after a truly big name, an established player in in the peak of their powers? Someone like an Angus Crichton or Latrell Mitchell.

Storm co-captain Dolphins-bound in major coup

The main difference between Novak entering the country in 2021 and 2022, was the extra 100+ days of lockdown (on top of the 160 days already endured). His fatal error was to post about a medical exemption. The most locked down city in the world saw this as the entitled rich and famous rubbing their nose in Covid and they weren’t having a bar of it. The law of public opinion carries much weight, especially in an election year.

Djokovic deserved to play the Australian Open

I’m sure his batting coach will be into him about the shot, certainly threw a century away. Power wasn’t the problem, shot selection and overconfidence brought about his wicket. Watching the 3 previous bouncers from Wood (which definitely had Green uncomfortable), we all knew what was coming. Green premeditated the shot and was confident he had Wood’s measure. But Wood had come around the wicket, with the ball getting out to 4 or 5th stump and moving away from the right hander, which made pulling the ball was a poor option. No doubting Green’s class, but he’s still a work in progress and that dismissal is one that you will regularly see at park cricket. I really enjoy watching him bat and reckon he will be a 100 test player.

FLEM'S VERDICT: 'Test cricket's alive' as 'Gilly-like' Head outguns disappointing England

Great innings by Green and he has a record of massive tons and double tons in first class cricket, so a big century probably isn’t to far away. He didn’t look comfortable under the barrage of bouncers from Wood and no doubt international teams will be zeroing in on this. Expect Pakistan to be giving him some short stuff in their upcoming tour.

Pucovski is a tough one because he looked to be a generational player as a youth, but with 10 concussions under the belt, he is probably only one head knock away from retirement. For those who know their way around a concussion (I’ve had my share), the more you get, the easier it is to get them.

FLEM'S VERDICT: 'Test cricket's alive' as 'Gilly-like' Head outguns disappointing England

I think Head and Green can develop a very special partnership, as they have very contradictory techniques which help to upset the bowlers lengths. Green is a very tall front foot player who can access the ball down the wicket and has a punishing off drives, while Head is a more compact player who plays late off the back foot. They are also a right hand/left hand combo.

FLEM'S VERDICT: 'Test cricket's alive' as 'Gilly-like' Head outguns disappointing England

I’m sure Cricket Tasmania CEO, Dominic Baker must have been chewing his fingernails at 3/12 thinking the test will be all over in two days. Forecast isn’t great for today, but looks good days 3-5. I assume Cummings, Boland and crew will in get their chance with the ball this arvo. It will be humid and overcast, the wicket is still green and the English bats will need to get through a session similar to what the Aussies faced on day 1. Looking forward to it!

FLEM'S VERDICT: 'Test cricket's alive' as 'Gilly-like' Head outguns disappointing England

Not many 22yr olds in the world who can bat/bowl like this lad can. His fielding in the slips is next level as well.

FLEM'S VERDICT: 'Test cricket's alive' as 'Gilly-like' Head outguns disappointing England

All reports from experienced cricketers who know the ground and conditions have said 250 on this wicket is a good score. Aussies are 6/241, so I reckon they are on top at the moment. Still a long way to go, but having had the Aussies 3/12 and then walking off at 6/241, I think the Australians will feel momentum is well and truly with them. Humid and overcast today, but the new ball isn’t due for another 20 overs. With the long tail Australia have, I think they can post up near 350. Can the English then score 400+ on a green-top vs Cummings, Starc, Boland and Green?

FLEM'S VERDICT: 'Test cricket's alive' as 'Gilly-like' Head outguns disappointing England

The first hour Broad and co were hitting beautiful line and length on a green wicket under very English conditions. Full credit to Head and Marnus who took the bowlers on, which had the effect of changing the bowler’s lengths. The batting got easier when the bowlers lost control.

FLEM'S VERDICT: 'Test cricket's alive' as 'Gilly-like' Head outguns disappointing England

You can cherry-pick and polish just about anything and put a spin on it. “First innings average across both series of 41.4, without 103 and 56, it drops back to 31.9“. By the same reasoning, if I take out his two lowest scores, Dave averages 49 across the series, which is just below his actual first innings average. The reason batters put weight in averages is because it is exactly that, an average across all innings. There is no prejudice to opposition, venue, or weather. It doesn’t care if you were feeling unwell or just had a fight with your girlfriend. A batting average evens out the poor umpire decisions and the dropped catches and the time you might have been bbq’d by your batting partner. It can’t be manipulated and it is a record that all batsmen hold up in comparison to their brethren. An average is only second to weight of runs, to which Warner has plenty. With 7500 runs currently in the bank, Warner has more runs, a better average and more centuries than opening icons David Boon and Mark Taylor. Justin Langer is only 100 runs away and sometime in the next season or two, Warner will pass Matty Hayden to become Australia’s greatest ever opening bat. I will raise a beer when it happens.

Khawaja gets nod over Harris for fifth Test, Boland may be out

My bad, Lyon 16, Starc 15.

Khawaja gets nod over Harris for fifth Test, Boland may be out

I will take an old dog for a hard road and back Warner and Khawaja to bat well in Hobart and in the upcoming tours to Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Khawaja gets nod over Harris for fifth Test, Boland may be out

Runs are currency, the two blokes opening tomorrow have earned their spots. There is no reason Harris can’t go away and work on his game similar to Khawaja.

Khawaja gets nod over Harris for fifth Test, Boland may be out

I dont think any 5th tests were ever pink ball though. If Boland is injured, I think Starc should be a lock. I get that he looks a bit cooked, but he is the leading wicket taker in this series. And there is that thing where he is the greatest bowler in the history of pink ball test cricket. Having said that, I can get behind any combination of the Aussie quicks used in the series, they have all shot the lights out.

Khawaja gets nod over Harris for fifth Test, Boland may be out

Geez tough crowd, Warner averaging 46 for the series with a couple of 90s and Uzzy is coming off back to back centuries. Don’t over think it.

Khawaja gets nod over Harris for fifth Test, Boland may be out

To get through a 5 test series and only drop one player is more than a pass mark for the selectors. And that change was less about the poor form of Harris and more to do with the crazy numbers Khawaja threw up. Agree Bailey got it wrong with Uzzy for the first test, he makes runs for fun in Brisbane and had been braining it in the Shield. Bailey justified the decision by pointing to the the age differences and the form of Harris in England. The English batsmen proved County form wasn’t worth a pinch of poo and age should be the least relevant number when looking at batsmen stats.

Khawaja gets nod over Harris for fifth Test, Boland may be out

Nailed it, let’s assume Rashid Khan can handle the spinning duties. Heath Streak was a class quick who had 216 wickets at 28 and an economy of 2.6. He was also more than handy batsmen (his average is a tick under Marcus Harris) and in 2003 scored 127no vs the West Indies batting at 8. In that match he also opened the bowling and took 4 wickets. He has 6 fors against India, England and Pakistan and a Michelle Pfeiffer against Australia. He captained the side through some pretty tough periods and pushed back against the politics and quotas that were being forced on the team at the time. Fair to assume this led to his premature sacking, as he was in pretty good form at the time.

The best Test XII of the last 30 years, with 12 Test nations represented

I read a great piece by an Indian cricket journo Sharda Ugra, her following statement nailed it for me. “This not a tale of an individual striving against unyielding bureaucracy. Or a rebellious anti-vaxxer trying to play fast and loose with Australia’s visa rules. Or gross paperwork errors by his manager and his travel agent. This is about celebrity, privilege and entitlement”. For mine, it is this preferential treatment based purely on his wealth and celebrity that has triggered so many people in Australia. https://mojostory.com/pov/novak-djokovic-aus-open/

D-Day for Novak Djokovic as immigration minister set to rule on his visa

Love the “best ever” lists and reckon you have got a good team picked. I’d probably have picked Gilchrist first in any best-of teams, he was great with the gloves and destructed with the bat, redefining the role of a keeper batsman. While Andy had a good average, he got his runs at 45 runs per 100 balls. Gilly was almost double that rate and had the ability to win matches in a session. Although Andy’s record against Australia and England weren’t great, he had an awesome record against India, averaging 94 from 18 innings and he averaged 117 in India, which is incredible. Having said that, it is impossible to leave Warnie out of these teams, although Muralitharan might argue the point.

The best Test XII of the last 30 years, with 12 Test nations represented

I loved your scrum footage, quick and usable ball for the backs brings back memories. We had a hundred scrum moves, it was a great platform for a backline to express themselves.

Why beating the All Blacks has to be top Wallaby priority in 2022

I recall as a kid hearing the Charlie Pride version, so good. Love Paul Kelly’s passion for cricket, I reckon he’d be a handy off-spinner in the backyard.

Paul Kelly's beautiful tribute song to Usman Khawaja

If the government’s intention was for him to stay and play, they would have announced as much after the court case. They are most certainly getting their ducks in a row to boot him out. The way the whole crazyvsaga has unfolded, surely the final scene has Novak on centre court warming up for his R1 match, AFP burst onto the court where they zippy-tie and bag the champ before dragging him off to a nondescript van with blacked-out windows, followed by a short 2 week stay over at Manus Island. Hollywood are interested.

'Error of judgement': Novak's stunning admission as German media reveals test anomaly

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