The Weekly A-Z


When in Rome! Only on this occasion it is “When in Sri Lanka”. The raging turner that greeted Australia for the first Test at Galle surprised even those who had become accustomed to wickets that turn square early in matches in the Island nation. As a result, the Aussies are seriously considering dropping Mitchell Starc and replacing him with Glenn Maxwell as a spinning all-rounder at No.8 for the second Test, starting today. It would be a huge shift from tradition for Australia, but captain Pat Cummins has hardly put a foot wrong since replacing Tim Paine at the helm. 


Black Fantasy entered the Listed Aquanita Stakes firm in the market. Placings behind crack three-year-old Devoted in the Listed Raconteur Stakes (1400m) and Listed Belmont Guineas (1600m), coupled with his third in the Group 2 WATC Derby (2400m) back in the autumn, demanded that be the case. And Lucy Warwick ensured those willing to take the shorts weren’t disappointed, positioning the Blackfriars three-year-old outside stablemate Outspoken Lad at the front of the field where he proved stronger for longer in the 2000m feature. 


If you haven’t become weary of the commentary surrounding the future of Alastair Clarkson, it is only a matter of time. The fascination with his future is completely understandable considering his deeds at Hawthorn, but with Stuart Dew signing an extension at Gold Coast and the North Melbourne post looking less and less desirable by the day, it could be only GWS that is open for business. That is unless Essendon decide to move on Ben Rutten. Clarkson and his strong Hawthorn allegiance coaching at fierce rivals Essendon? Now that would be spicy. 


When Darcy Moore crumpled to the Metricon Stadium turf last Saturday night after landing awkwardly, the football world held its collective breath. Vital to Collingwood’s finals push and having experienced leg issues previously, the vision of Moore hyperextending his left knee was hard to watch. The Magpie returned back to Melbourne ahead of his teammates for scans, which fortunately cleared him of any structural damage. He will still miss this weekend’s match against North Melbourne, but is expected to return in round 18. 


Is building at Oklahoma City Thunder as Josh Giddey and his new toy, seven-footer No.2 draft pick Chet Holmgren, go about their business during the Summer League. The pair created an impression this week in Holmgren’s first OKC appearance before the Australian guard underlined his skillset yesterday. Giddey, who was in line to be named NBA Rookie of the Year last season before injury curtailed his campaign, tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in an 87-71 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. 


Another season of Super Netball with West Coast Fever and another standout campaign from Jhaniele Fowler. The superstar Jamaican won her fourth successive club champion award, polling 58 votes to cruise to victory ahead of Alice Teague-Neeld and collect the Stacey Marinkovich Medal. It was little surprise given how dominant Fowler had been throughout the season, including last Sunday evening’s 70-59 grand final victory over the Melbourne Vixens. She scored 804 goals in the Fever’s triumphant season, eclipsing the 795 she poured in during 2020.


It never scaled the heights most were anticipating, but Geelong couldn’t care less. They wake up this morning on top of the AFL table, having avenged last year’s humiliating preliminary final defeat at the hands of Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium. The Cats gave up the game’s first two goals, but held the ascendancy thereafter, courtesy of enormous pressure and a dominant midfield display. Melbourne still hold premiership favouritism, but the flag race is wide open.


The Brisbane Lions were aggrieved Eric Hipwood’s push of Ryan Gardner which led to field umpire Jacob Mollison crashing to the Gabba turf was sent directly to the AFL Tribunal. The Lions argued Hipwood did not know Mollison was in the vicinity, therefore he should be exonerated. The tribunal didn’t share that sentiment, although it viewed the incident as careless rather than intentional and elected to fine the Lions key forward $2500 rather than suspend him. It’s fair to say though that the next player who does something similar could be spending a week or two on the sidelines.


Sad to wake up this morning and learn Rafael Nadal’s remarkable recuperative powers had deserted him. The tennis world desperately wanted to witness the Spanish legend lock horns with Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon semi-final tonight, WA time. Nadal dug deep like few others can in his quarter-final with Taylor Fritz, defying his father’s wish to quit because of an abdominal tear to prevail in five sets. But he informed tournament officials overnight that he was not fit enough to take the court, gifting Kyrgios an opportunity to become the first Australian male to win Wimbledon since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002. 


The Cleveland Browns thought they had landed their man when they used the first selection in the 2018 NFL Draft to acquire Baker Mayfield. Yesterday they traded him to the Carolina Panthers for a fifth-round draft selection in … wait for it … 2024. So badly did they need to offload Mayfield after signing Deshaun Watson to a massive five-year deal, the Browns have agreed to pay $15.3 million of the quarterback’s salary for the 2022 campaign. The Panthers will pay around half of that for Mayfield, who will enter free agency within the next 12 months.  


It seems inevitable that David Noble will be fired as coach of North Melbourne. Clearly the Kangaroos have regressed this season under the second-year mentor, with last Saturday night’s shellacking at the hands of Geelong hard to stomach for so many with links to the club. Given how dire the situation has become at Arden Street, it would be a surprise if only Noble made way. Chief executive Ben Amarfio is a polarising figure and also appears to be on shaky ground.


Australian rugby has done it pretty tough for a fair while now. Therefore it was terrific to see the Wallabies overcome serious adversity to take down England 30-28 in Perth last weekend, snapping an eight-game losing streak against the tourists ahead of the second Test in Brisbane tomorrow. The Wallabies have not only won their past 10 matches at Suncorp Stadium, they have been strengthened by the recall of Taniela Tupou. 


Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew had his efforts rubber stamped this week when the club’s board extended his tenure for at least two more seasons. Dew was facing an uphill battle to hold on to his position entering 2022, his fifth at the helm, considering Ben King ruptured his ACL in February. But the development has been undeniable and while an historic finals appearance is more unlikely than likely, Gold Coast have shown they have the substance to be a top-eight contender for years to come.


At stages in last year’s grand final, the Western Bulldogs had Melbourne on the ropes. They were unable to land a knockout punch, an issue that is on the verge of being compounded big time. The Bulldogs have slipped outside the top eight and face the very real prospect of missing finals altogether. If Luke Beveridge is unable to orchestrate an upset of Sydney at the SCG tonight, their task of being active in September becomes nigh on impossible. Time to get to work.


Get set. Go. And go very quickly they will in tomorrow’s $125,000 Beaufine Stakes at Belmont. Despite the forecast of some rain, the engagement of renowned speedsters Mervyn, Wilchino, Heavenly Waters, Iseered Iseered and How’s The Serenity will guarantee this Listed feature is not one for the faint-hearted. Wilchino might have failed in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m), but there were genuine excuses on that occasion and her presence tomorrow is great for WA racing. Don’t blink.


Is what Ajla Tomljanovic did Australia during an excellent run at Wimbledon. For the second straight year, the Croatian-born right-hander proved highly proficient on the grass, advancing to the quarter-finals where she pushed Elena Rybakina to three sets. It looked like an upset was on the cards when Tomljanovic won the first set, but her Kazakhstani opponent turned the screws to advance to the last four. Boasting a powerful backhand, it wouldn’t be a shock if Tomljanovic exceeded her previous best of a third-round appearance at the US Open next month.


Expect the “Queenslander, Queenslander” chant to reverberate around Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday night when game three of the State of Origin series concludes. The Maroons were obliterated by NSW here late last month to surrender a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three battle. Billy Slater’s men return to the comforts of home for the decider and the Queensland faithful will be doing everything they can to make life as inhospitable as possible for the Blues players. 


The Fremantle Dockers will be chasing it on two fronts in tomorrow night’s clash with St Kilda at Marvel Stadium. Justin Longmuir was exasperated earlier this year when the Dockers narrowly lost to the Saints at Optus Stadium, a result that came after the stirring win against Adelaide in round one. They get the chance to turn the tables and will also be eager to bounce back from the poor effort at the Docklands venue a fortnight ago opposed to Carlton. Fremantle started well on that occasion, only to be stifled badly by the undermanned Blues. 


Steve Smith was interviewed this week in the lead-up to the second Test against Sri Lanka at Galle. Naturally, he was asked about his immature reaction to a mid-pitch mix-up with Usman Khawaja that led to his run out in the first Test. There was no apology to be seen. “That happens in the game, I got over it pretty quickly, I had to keep moving forward,” he said. “I spoke to Uz straight after, it was pretty chilled. Mix-ups happen and you keep moving on.”


It is little wonder England are 4-0 in their home Tests against New Zealand (3-0) and India this year under new coach Brendon McCullum and skipper Ben Stokes. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow have produced herculean performances, the latest being this week when they helped steer the hosts to 3-378 in the fourth innings against India at Edgbaston. It delivered England their highest successful run chase in Test history. The stunning seven-wicket win came off the back of Root’s brilliant unbeaten 142, his fifth ton in 2022, while Bairstow’s 114 not out was his fourth century in his last five innings. The attack-at-all-costs approach forged by McCullum and Stokes has been a breath of fresh air to the traditional format.


We aren’t even at the midway point of winter, but there will be a sense tomorrow’s Group 3 Monash Stakes (1100m) is the unofficial launch of the Melbourne spring. Premature? Consider this. Expected favourite Oxley Road boasts a  placing in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate at the track and trip last campaign and should progress from the Monash towards the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) in a fortnight. It’s not long now until the big boys — and girls — come out to play.


To the last person left at the Brooklyn Nets, please turn off the lights. Kyrie Irving, despite agreeing to stay at the team for one more season, seems destined to follow good friend and teammate Kevin Durant out the door. Durant has requested a trade even though he has four years left on his contract and the Nets are happy to facilitate it. Less than 12 months ago, Brooklyn were viewed as the side to beat in the Eastern Conference, having assembled a range of quality performers to back up their Big Three — Durant, Irving and James Harden, who finished last season at Philadelphia.


If the jungle drums beating are to be believed, Will Weaver is going to be the next coach of the Perth Wildcats. Weaver, who led the Sydney Kings to the COVID-19 impacted grand final series taken out by the Wildcats in 2019-20 in his only season at the helm of an NBL club, has been interviewed by the club. The Wildcats are in the market for a new coach following Scott Morrison’s recent resignation and are impressed by Weaver. 


If Craig Bellamy used language best described as “strong” after Melbourne Storm’s shoddy 36-30 loss to Manly last week, your mind boggles at what the master coach spewed out in the changerooms last night. The Storm were flogged 28-6 by Cronulla, a result that saw them surrender second spot on the ladder and bring into sharp focus their premiership legitimacy. 


To find a better ride than the one turned in by Kyra Yuill in last Saturday’s Belmont Oaks. Yuill earnt her riding fee when she wrestled odds-on favourite, the headstrong Searchin’ Roc’s, early in the Listed race in order to get her to settle at the rear of the field. Having accomplished that, she then made her move at the exact right time approaching the corner, sensing Clint Johnston-Porter on main rival Mystery Moment was caught up in traffic. Searchin’ Roc’s was able to build momentum and fought on doggedly to prevail, while Mystery Moment was climbing all over heels up the straight and finished out of the placings.


Carlton were chuffed this week when Zac Fisher committed to the club until the end of 2025. The York product was contracted for next year, but put pen to paper on a fresh two-season deal. Fisher, 24, has played in all 15 matches this campaign and shapes as an important player in Michael Voss’ plans this