Monday, July 20, 2015

Oh those doubters, those pouting doubters that never came about. How could they be so wrong? So stout of belief within their belief that Sam Tomkins was nothing more than some light relief.

They've given him untold grief, that was their brief, to rout the realms of realism and ignore the igniting embers of subtlety within the residence of his talent filled abode.

How could they not get it? The man can play.

His game is code to explode the misnomers miscast as fast as a Tomkins flick-on pass. Crass and as ill-advised as a foe underestimating the Englishman's zero to ten metre speed as the former Wigan wonder spies a gap and opens the tap on yet another line break. Stepping and swerving, he may not quite be a quick-stepping Shaun Johnson, but he is effective all the same.

Such hijinks as those doubters disregard the optical wavelengths colouring the delights bestowed upon them by yet another offload to a scurrying teammate keen to flatten a hump of defence.

No matter, they'll never be satisfied. It is oh so indicative of the inclination of the haters to hate, one supposes. Never will they be contented as their content was forever discontented.

And sneer they shall. For fear of petty's prey sitting pretty among the enlightened and the haters darkened souls enlightened only through another's failure.

No, he's not Billy Slater, the games top fullback. The twenty-six year old has not proven to be quite the try scoring machine that Slater is. He does not slice through defences to run the length of the field as the Melbournian can.

He may not even be Roger Tuivasa-sheck, his replacement next year when Tomkins returns home to England. But he isn't half bad. One and a half seasons into his three year contract and barely has a foot been put wrong. So strong to prove the doubters a laughing stock, and despite being out for six weeks with a partial tear of the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, he has come back and made an immediate impact.

From a struggling slide to a winning bent, the Warriors with Tomkins back at fullback have slackened the tether of sloppy losses and fettered six wins from their previous nine played.

Even in Yesterday's 24-0 loss to the Roosters the light of Tomkins shone Tomkins upon his overpowered side. He was at his sidestepping best, regularly evading a foe, procuring many a half-break. But not only was he an attacking dynamo, defence became him.

Never afraid to introduce himself to physicality he is no dove as he dove into his defensive duties. Scrappy and niggly, he stands his ground. And organises. It is no coincidence that his return from injury has resulted in a soaring defensive effort. Over the past four matches this team has leaked a paltry fifteen points against. Superb.

Alas, nothing is forever, though. Homesick, Tomkins is heading home at the conclusion of this season, a year earlier than initially planned. Those haters, always lurking, at the ready to tear their target apart, no doubt will label the man weak. A boy. The lad couldn't handle living abroad.

Others, somewhat more sensibly, would proffer that Tomkins has shown great courage and maturity to shift to the other side of the globe. Twenty thousand kilometres away from family, experiencing a different culture and making new friends. That's intrepidity for you.

Whichever way one looks at it, there is only seven more matches this season, maybe a few more if they make the finals (they should) to witness the wonderful skills he displays each weekend.

So make the most of his final appearances. Tomkins will be missed when he's gone.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Don Bradman should have been prosecuted for plundering runs that no normal human had any right to score.

A twenty year career and six thousand, nine hundred and ninety-six runs later, the greatest cricketer of all time had an average of 99.94. Freak.

Whenever he passed fifty, he invariably went on to score a century, as witnessed by his conversion rate of sixty-nine percent. Twenty-nine centuries and thirteen half-centuries. A rare one indeed, to possess such powers of concentration.

Perhaps it was his ability to pick the line and length earlier than anyone else that set him apart, hence putting less mental stress upon him and allowing him to concentrate better than others for longer.

Whatever it was, it was a record without peer and we may not see it replicated for hundreds of years.

Or maybe not.

You simply never know when that next one is coming around the corner. Could the time be upon us?

Joe Root has acquired fourteen hundred and fifty-two runs over the past thirteen months at an average of 85.14. The twenty-four year old is currently attempting a pretty decent impersonation of Bradman.

But it's been one year. ONE YEAR. Let's repeat that: ONE YEAR. Sure the man from Yorkshire has been in the form of his life. There is work to do though.

His conversion rate currently sits at thirty-eight percent, rising to forty-one over the previous year. Yet, as one television commentator commented today, Root has on seven occasions got out for scores between seventy and ninety-nine during his Test career.

Convert those and that conversion rate is significantly enhanced. On most of these occasions this can only be a concentration issue, for when he does reach three figures he tends to go big.

Such as today.

One hundred and thirty-four star-sent runs. And as is often the norm with Root, he saunters to the middle with England reeling at a minimum of runs gained and closing in on a maximum of wickets lost.

In this case, forty-three for three was the damage. Adam Lyth was caught early in the slips while attempting to pan a ball to the legside. Never mind playing straight at the beginning of an inning to one of the best pace attacks in the World. Or anyone for that matter.

Then Alastair Cook tried to cut a Nathan Lyon delivery close enough to cut Cook in half, getting himself caught behind. Two down and then things became somewhat more dire when Ian Bell continued his run of poor form and went one delivery closer to retirement.

But Root always appears up for a crisis. On numerous occasions he saved the day against New Zealand in their recent series. Fortunately old habits die hard, for he was up to his old tricks again. Not that it was easy batting conditions.

This was a pitch that was far from having the verve and carbonation of Adam and Eve on their first meeting. It appeared to have been prepared with only one thing in mind; To negate Australia's pace attack. Fair enough, I guess.

This is debate for another day whether winning at all costs is the go or should the advertisement of the game come first, or does winning alone create enough of an advertisement by itself.

Back to the game in hand, conditions for England should have been worse as Root was dropped by Brad Haddin while still scoreless. If only Haddin had spent the last few months practicing his catching skills rather more than his sledging skills, Australia may have had the English all out for three hundred instead of the three hundred and forty-three for seven they ended on by the close of this first day.

Root, fortunately, is no worrier. He'll simply shrug off the past and launch into a billowing counterattack, often scoring at a strike rate of over one hundred. Sixteen of his initial seventeen runs came by way of fours, his strike rate at one stage even ascending to one hundred and sixty-six.

With the able assistance of Gary Ballance, who some say has limited footwork while others may call it economy of movement, the pair of them combined for a partnership of one hundred and fifty-three. Though Ballance departed at one hundred and ninety-six for four, having accumulated a hard fought sixty-two, there was no panic.

There never is with Root. He simply moves on in life and finds a new partner to share the joys of dampening Australian spirits with. In this case, Ben Stokes.

This dasher is a blaster and while this blaster may not yet be the ultimate master, he casts his sail to the winds of attack. He assaulted fifty-two, and by the time he was bowled by Mitchell Starc, had six fours and two sixes mixed in.

Unlike some, he doesn't gain much flack for his attack, for he more often than not succeeds. So when on the rare occasions he does fail, he is cut some slack.

So he should be. He is a match winner. Much like Root. By the time both had departed, England had reached two hundred and ninety-three for six and had gone some way to quietening the sceptics who believed this series will be a romp for the visitors. England are in good hands. There is hope on that there horizon.

And in Root, there could yet be the chance of that next one coming around the corner.