AS I SEE IT (20 FEB)

By Terry O’Neill

World Cup cricket will enter its second week tomorrow with the initiated and the uninitiated hopefully in an ecstatic mood. But cricket can be a confusing game. The game was first played in England over 300 years ago. Written and pictorial records of cricket go back to the Plantagenet era. A gentleman, because only gentlemen played the game then, A R Littlewood ,wrote a book called the Earliest Known Laws of Cricket, The Code of 1744. This stated, amongst other things, that the length of the pitch was 22 yards, and so it has remained up to the present day.

Fifty over cricket, the format of the World Cup games, has developed rapidly in popularity over the last half century. The game continue to evolve especially in law changes and bat and ball development mainly in an effort to make the game more popular. These changes usually bring criticism from the staunch traditionalist. Under scrutiny  currently are bat sizes, mainly brought about by memorable innings from efforts of  A B de Villiers, Corey Anderson and Chris Gayle who have scored centuries off a mere thirty plus balls. Many are blaming the size of bats currently in use.Bat dimensions permitted in the laws of cricket are  96.5 centimetres in length  and 10.8 centimetres in width and bats are made to suit lefthanded and righthanded batsmen . The bat that Chris Gayle uses in the current World Cup has 45 millimetre  edges.

Blaming bats for the recent prolific scoring has been scoffed at by Chris Gayle and English captain Eion Morgan and come under criticism from the bat manufacturers. Allrounder Dan Christian possibly puts it into perspective when he states that the two 200s and the twice broken fastest centuries  have also been in the period since the two new balls  and only four fielders outside the ring rule have been in use.

Cricket is a game piled high with records and statistics. Do you believe that the following ten efforts are unbeatable? Don Bradman’s 99.4 test batting average; Muttiah Muralitharan’s 1347 international wickets; Jack Hobb’s 61,760 first class runs; Jim Laker’s test match bowling figures of 19 for 90; Wilfred Rhodes’ 4204 first class wickets; Australia’s sixteen consecutive test wins twice, once under Steve Waugh and once under Ricky Ponting; Chaminda Vaas’ one day international bowling figures of 8 for 19; Graham Gooch’s 456 runs in a test match; Phil Simmonds economy rate of 0.3 in a one day international and Chris Gayle’s 20/20 century off just 30 balls.

And just to add to the novice’s confusion there are at least eleven ways for a batsman to be dismissed. He/she can be caught, bowled, leg before wicket, run out, stumped, hit wicket, handled the ball, obstructing the field,hitting the ball twice, timed out, and retired out.

And if you want to be in a complete state of confusion the field placings such as third man, long on, long off, slips, gully, point, covers, midwicket, and fine leg will ensure that.

And then you have the wide variety of balls that can be bowled, the off break, leg break, googly, chinaman, doosra, flipper, Yorker, arm ball, slider, full toss  and of course the Aussie favourite the underarm!

ENDS

First Published in The North OtagoTimes

Does New Zealand’s legal system favour some ahead of the rest of us?

ICCWC15As I See It By Terry O’Neill.

Does New Zealand’s legal system favour some ahead of the rest of us?

2014 Junior World Cup promising rugby star Tevita Li (19) was caught drink-driving in Auckland last May. Last week the Blues-contracted player was discharged without conviction by Judge Gus Andree Wiltens as long as he paid $210, the costs to establish his blood alcohol level. Judge Wiltens took into account that Li completed The Right Track programme and alcohol counselling, and justified his decision because, “A conviction would prove to be a real impediment to what so far has been a stellar career. All indications are that you can go a long way in rugby.”

A conviction possibly would restrict Li’s international rugby travel, and if he pursued a career overseas, teams may overlook him because of that black mark against his name. After his rugby days a clean record would keep the door open for his intention to follow his father into a police career. Another Blues player, George Moala, recently found guilty of assault with intent to injure, appears for sentencing in May, and will apply for a discharge without conviction. Try telling an ordinary 19 year old club rugby player that’d be a fair deal.

Recently I commented on former Olympic triathlete Kris Gemmell. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Gemmell a 15 month ban after Drug-Free Sport NZ had appealed the NZ Sports Tribunal’s decision not to impose a sanction on him for missing a drug test in August, 2012. Last week the Tribunal cut his ban to 12 months stating his conduct would not be a violation under the new rules confirmed January 2015. Gemmell, basically vindicated, lost his International Triathlons Unions athletes’ committee role plus his position as its Global Head of Partnerships for the world triathlon series. He retired from international competition after the World Cup in 2012 but remained on the drug testing programme because he intended to involve himself in long distance racing.

Who had the self-righteous knife out at Drug-Free Sport NZ? Another graceless Tall Poppy blitz.

The Cricket World Cup kicks off next week amidst concerns for security during the tournament. If visitors seek easy access to NZ over the tournament period, visa-free entry is permitted provided an individual’s cricket interest is proved with, say, game tickets. This visa-free entry is primarily to allow ease of movement for cricket fans between NZ and Australia. Many “cricket supporters” from countries for which visas are usually required to enter NZ, have apparently used the “loophole” for easy entry. By last week 94 people had travelled here under the arrangement and others were prevented from boarding flights to NZ. Several Chinese passengers emphasised their intention to attend games and produced Cricket World Cup tickets as evidence but, ironically, those games were scheduled after their NZ departure dates.

And what a temptation to anyone “terroristically” inclined.

ENDS

Note: this version differs from that published in The North Otago Times.

Great minds…

…..really do think alike…even if they’re both mine…

WordPress rehashed the Morton’s Fork prompt this morning – not even a remake, just a rehash – and I mused briefly about taking it up, totally not remembering (which is not the same as simply forgetting) that I had responded to the same prompt at the end of 2012. As is my pattern at the moment, this would most likely have been just another waysided good intention had someone not ‘liked’ my original post today, triggered one of those “They thought Go ahead, stick a Morton’s fork in it. | rarasaur was pretty awesome….You should go see what they’re up to. Maybe you’ll like their blog as much as they liked yours! ” email notifications…

On opening my original post, I could not remember for the life of me what  OBE meant and decided to edit the post with a footnote expanding on it…only to find at the bottom of the post that I’d already had that good idea at the time…”…OBE = Overtaken BEvents…”

What surprised me on reading the original though was how different it was from my gut response to the same prompt “If you had to choose between being able to write a blog (but not read others’) and being able to read others’ blogs (but not write your own), which would you pick? Why?” this morning…

Having so much going on in my life at the moment, my take on this is now that I would rather read the work of others and be inspired, motivated and edumacated than take time I don’t have right now to try to draft something myself…but then I wrote this anyway…go figure…

Maybe I should be applying myself a little harder to churn something, anything out at least once a week..?

 

via Go ahead, stick a Morton’s fork in it. | rarasaur | The World According to Me….

As I See It

Oamaru Opera House

AS I SEE IT (16 JAN) edited copy wc 465

By Terry O’Neilll

Waitaki District will celebrate and record for eternity the fine efforts of its athletes at the annual sporting awards on Monday, ninth of March, at the Opera House. The district’s population may be fairly sparse but is by no means a reflection on the sporting prowess of its people. Nine divisions of achievers from Emerging Talent to Masters Athletes are represented in nominations of athletes who excel locally to those who succeeded nationally or internationally. The range includes downhill mountain biking and ultra distance running to swimming, rowing and table tennis, and athletes and administrators of all ages.

Many may view the annual sports awards celebration as a function that highlights winners and losers and do not realise that each nominated athlete achieved a target that they set themselves. At whatever level, to achieve that target is success, a platform of many definitions. American columnist Walter Winchell claimed in 1897 “Nothing succeeds like success”. Author, physician and WW1 Intelligence Officer Somerset Maugham believed “The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistical and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary it makes them for the most part humble, tolerant and kind. Failure makes people cruel and bitter.” And author Robert Louis Stevenson believed “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”. In other words it is the learning on the journey that the athletes travel that is more valuable than the ultimate achievement itself.

Success is relatively easy to cope with as long as it placed on the correct rung of the personal ladder of life. Too often success produces over-confidence or even arrogance. As in any field of endeavour that greatest characteristic, humility, is one of the hardest life skills to embody and we are fortunate so many of our sports heroes and role models have it in abundance.

Failure tests the mettle of the individual facing it: daunting and disappointing to cope with but a process that is but part of the journey. How we cope with failure, and with success, in our sporting endeavours will likely mirror the way we live and relate to people as the journey progresses. It’s about perspective. About relativity, that elusive ability to see situations and generalities in appropriate balance.

This district’s annual awards climax embraces a passion to nurture talent, leadership and flair. The formal celebrations of our sporting prowess extends well over fifty years to 1963 when Commonwealth Games gold medallist rower George Paterson became the inaugural Sportsman of the Year, the premier award. The range of sports recognised in these honours indicate the versatility of participants in the district. Cricket, rugby, rowing and athletics have been intermixed with darts, paraplegic codes, show jumping, croquet, sheep dog trialling and shearing.

The basic inhibitor for success in sport is to stop trying!

ENDS

First Published in The North OtagoTimes

As I See It

To open 2015, I’d like to welcome my Dad, Terry O’Neill to the The World writing team. Dad’s been covering regional sport in New Zealand in print and radio for as long as I can remember and his As I See It commentary delivers insights into contemporary sports issues…

We had planned to launch this at the end of the year but a major computer meltdown on my part delayed proceedings until I could rebuild and recover everything…

Untitled

Springboks vs All Blacks, 1956 (c) http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/

The picture is of my choosing as I always like to lead a post with a picture, all the rest is Dads…

By Terry O’Neill

The 1956 Springboks New Zealand tour, concussion, the rapid development of gymnasiums, and Irishmen Brian O’Driscoll and his uncle Barry O’Driscoll, appear to have little in common.

That tour was the first by South African since 1937, and prior to it All Black selectors stated that back trialists, midfield in particular, must weigh at least twelve stone, an indication of the approaching tour’s intensity. Since then, players have pursued improved performance through intense physical development. Increased muscular bulk multiplied by greater pace, and changes in defensive techniques may be spectacular entertainment but raise serious concerns about head injuries. Significantly last season’s English Under 18 team were, player for player, heavier than those of the 1991 World Cup English side.

That Irish prince of centres, Brian O’Driscoll, the most capped test player with 141, believes the All Blacks will win the next World Cup because of their higher skill factor. “I don’t think the gym monkey thing applies to them as much as it does over here. They have farmer strength. The Polynesians guys are pretty strong without going to a gym. They focus way more from an early age on skills. They do everything with a ball. They have balance. They have that physicality, but they are able to mix their game up.”

Barry O’Driscoll, former early 1970s Irish fullback and a medical doctor, served the IRB medical committee 15 years but resigned in protest at the trial of their new head injury protocol. Previous policy stated that any player suspected of suffering concussion had to leave the field and not play for a week (incidentally reduced from three weeks in earlier policy). New IRB guidelines state a player can return to the field five minutes after an injury providing a medical inspection has cleared him of concussion.

The game has changed admits Barry O’Driscoll. “Rugby’s now a big community sport. So what’s important is to get the spectators in? The TV in? They love big hits.”

Current players’ size and weight is accentuated by the tackling technique change from “around the legs” to the defensive side’s emphasis on the all-encompassing upper body tackle. This attempts to jolt the ball loose, or to try and smother it and force a turnover, leading to more head clashes.

Brian O’Driscoll said he’s not a fan of gymnasiums. “In Ireland there is a huge focus on the weights room, as opposed to whether a player can throw a 10m pass on the run. They should be rugby players becoming athletes, not athletes becoming rugby players.”

Statistically 50 percent of injuries occur in tackles. Under 18 schoolboys have half the injuries of those in professional ranks, and hookers and flankers are most susceptible.

Does the IRB care about players’ wellbeing? Or do these practices attract more dosh from TV moguls?
But change is on the way. In the Saracens/ London Irish rugby game played a fortnight ago the Saracen players wore a device behind the ear referred to as the X patch which measures the size and direction of hits to the head. The X patch is currently being used in American football as well.
Tradition is a terrible reason to give people avoidable brain damage.” – Chris Nowinski, co-dir. for study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Boston University School of Medicine, former Harvard Ivy Football player.

ENDS

NNNN

First published in The North Otago Times 10 January 2015.

Happiness is…

…a big bone…DSCF8758-001 DSCF8739 DSCF8738 DSCF8737 DSCF8736New World Taumarunui was selling these for a dollar each – great for ‘staff’ morale and they last a lot longer than the average chew.

A couple of nights after they got these, Kirk woke me up around 3AM, whining at the front door. Sometimes he will does this when he thinks there is something outside – usually a deer – or when he needs to ‘go’. It was a clear moonlit night so I followed him outside to see what had piqued his interest.

We went up to the top of the house driveway and then a wee ways down the long driveway that runs further down the hill. About 20 metres along the way, Kirk stopped, and shovelled some leaves out of the way with his head. Satisfied, he turned around and trotted back to the house…no stray trampers…no dodgy deer…just checking that his bone was still where he had hidden it.

 

Crisis in Syria and Iraq: All-in or all-out?

Manstan 231014

Josh Wineera is having a busy week…a successful engagement at the New Zealand Association for Training and Development Conference, followed by this op-ed for Fairfax. For me, a most refreshing change from the ‘usual suspect;’ domestic talking heads that are being trotted out to ‘comment’ on the developing situation in the Middle East. Read on…

To use the Texas Hold’em poker analogy, Islamic State (ISIS) is ‘all-in’ to seize the major cities on the Syrian-Turkish border as well as swathes of regional areas in western and central Iraq. The actions are clinical, calculated and surprisingly conventional. The approach is one of simple arithmetic and follows an important principle of war – mass, or more plainly ISIS has the numbers. Unlike poker however, the stakes are not casino chips but rather millions of innocent victims caught up in yet another cycle of Middle Eastern violence.

While the much-vaunted precision-guided munitions continue to be dropped by U.S.-led coalition aircraft, the unrelenting nature of ISIS ‘boots on the ground’ is the decisive factor. Attrition of its fighters is not a concern. Thousands are ready and better positioned to be ordered into the fray. To coin the phrase, ISIS is currently the side that is the fastest with the mostest and many battles throughout history have been won this way.

So, if the tactic is to seize and hold the likes of Kobani or Anbar province on the other front in Iraq, how then might this contribute to the ISIS strategy? First and foremost a narrative is likely being developed to expose the limits and ultimate failure of the ‘West’ to effectively support the likes of the Kurds and even the Government of Iraq. This is certainly being helped along with media commentators such as Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn asserting the ‘U.S. strategy is in tatters as ISIS marches on’.

Second, and more chilling, is the perception that there is no safe place in the region to escape the onslaught. While some fight, the vast majority living under threat of mortal danger are not soldiers nor capable of putting up meaningful resistance. Capitulation and being resigned to the fate that awaits them under a barbarous regime appears inevitable.

But even with air power and small contingents of international land forces can anything really be done to roll back ISIS? At one end of the spectrum there are those that still believe this is not a fight for the West. Continued intervention is not the answer they decry.

Taken further, supporters of Edward Luttwak’s ‘Give War a Chance’ proposition argue that sitting on the sidelines and waiting until all belligerents become exhausted is a better plan. Standing by while foes battle each other is one thing, however giving a free hand for systematic cruelty and genocide is quite a different argument.

On this issue, if widespread butchery and carnage is the trigger for international reaction then according to Canadian journalist Neil MacDonald intervention in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo is more warranted.”ISIS’s acolytes are just apprentices at atrocity compared to some in the Congo”.

The other end of the spectrum leads to an all-in approach by countries that have the tenacity and dedication to endure what would be another long and frustrating campaign. The 2014 all-in version should include the familiar political, economic and military assistance. The time frame for favourable conditions would need to be measured in years not months. So how will these be different, have better outcomes, than the 2003-2011 version applied in Iraq? Politically, positive change has already occurred with Haider al-Abadi confirmed as Iraq’s Prime Minister. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed al-Abadi’s formation of a new inclusive Government in Iraq.

Oversight of political reform is paramount to ensure balance and avoid marginalising the Sunni population in particular. Economically the impact of change will be less disruptive as Iraq’s southern oil fields maintain productivity and buttress the financial markets. Inter-Governmental Organisations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are not expected to have to significantly intervene.

Which leaves the lingering question of military assistance. Right now the prime means of international intervention is air strikes and combat advisors. At best these immediate efforts will help the Kurds and the Iraqi Government stem the ISIS advances. Wishful thinking might even result in a stalemate. There is no quick fix. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby has said “people need to understand we need a little strategic patience here…it is going to take a bit of time”.

While western governments continue to debate the merits and risks of deploying ground troops, a ready-made force is already being brought into action. A U.S. Government contract issued in August called for interested vendors to provide security assistance mentors and advisors. The private security community is naturally abuzz with new possibilities.

Eric Prince, founder of controversial security contractor Blackwater, has waded into the conversation. Calling the Iraqi Army inept after billions spent on training and equipping them, Prince suggests, “if the old Blackwater team were together, I have high confidence that a multi-brigade size unit of veteran American contractors or multinational force could be rapidly assembled and deployed to be the necessary ground combat team”. He goes on stating, “a competent professional force of volunteers would serve as the pointy end of the spear and would strengthen friendly but skittish indigenous forces”.

There is much irony in calling for private security companies to fill the void of trainers and mentors to the Iraqi security forces. A number still stand accused of delivering poor training last decade.

Whatever arrangements are put in place by international military forces or private security companies, the processes and methods of training Iraqi’s and even the Kurds must be transformed. Doing the same thing and expecting different results cannot be allowed to prevail. While a focus on technical skills is expected, installing a sense of duty and ingraining societal values to repulse the long-term intentions of ISIS will be essential.
What is clear is this is a poker hand that nobody except ISIS wants to play. Folding and forfeiting interest in the situation does not appear to be an option for those governments already committed. It’s time to ante up or move on. In the meantime millions across the region continue to bleed and live in fear.


Josh Wineera is a member of the New Zealand National Forum for the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific. He is also a PhD candidate with the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago. His doctoral research is on training foreign security forces.

Dinner Dates

I had an attack of the late night sweet munchies a few nights ago and wanted something quick and simple to satisfy the urge. There has also been a large jar of dates in the pantry that has not been getting much attention recently and the last thing I need is a jar of time-expired dates…

The winning contender was this recipe from The Whimsical Wife

Ingredients:

The Pudding

10-12 dates, roughly chopped

1 1/2 Tbsp Boiling Water

1/8 tsp Baking Soda

11/2 Tbsp Butter

1 1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp Flour

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1 Egg (originally this was one egg between two desserts but was too dry)

1 Tbsp Walnuts, roughly chopped

The Sauce:

4 Tbsp Brown Sugar

1 Tbsp Butter (originally only a teaspoon but not caramelly enough)

4 tablespoons of cream (originally this was only a teaspoon of milk or cream but this led to a sauce that was more fudge than sauce – the extra liquid makes all the difference).

Method:

Place the chopped dates and water in a large mug and microwave for 50 sec until the dates are softened.

DSCF8748Add the Bicarb soda and let it sit for 30 seconds before mashing the dates roughly with a spoon.

DSCF8749DSCF8751Add the butter and place again in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to soften and melt.

DSCF8752DSCF8753Add the sugar, egg, walnuts and flour and mix to combine thoroughly. The original recipe called for only half the walnuts and for these to be sprinkled on top – I think I get a better result mixing more walnuts throughout the mix.

Place in the microwave on a sauce for 1 minute. It may need a further 10-20 sec to finish it off completely, depending on your microwave.

For the caramel sauce, place the the sugar, butter and cream into an ovenproof ramekin and microwave for 20 seconds.

Remove and stir and repeat another three times.

Shake the sticky date pudding from the mug into a dessert plate, and add ice cream.

DSCF8755…and cream and drizzle the sauce over it all. you can see from these pics of my first attempt that there simply isn’t enough sauce to be useful…

DSCF8754

…and that it is quite fudgy…not the desired effect at all. I didn’t have any cream handy for this go-round so it was even drier…DSCF8756

…whereas my modified version has a rich caramel sauce that soaks into the sticky date pudding and mixes with the cream…DSCF8759-001

Finished!!DSCF8760-001

Definitely a keeper but very very very rich – even I could only eat this maybe once a week at most…the pudding itself is a lot less gooey than the other similar cake in a  cup desserts that I have tried so I intend experimenting with it further to see how it goes in the chocolate, banana and golden desserts in a cup that I have played with previously…

Jandalman and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – a cautionary tale

By now some of you may have heard the tale of Jandalman, or seen it on some of the local guiding Facebook pages and sites. The story has been hammered pretty hard locally to get the mountain safety message out there…

This is the tale of the tourist who was found on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing a week or so ago, trying to walk out in bare feet having lost his jandals in the snow (yes, you did read that right!). Of even greater concern was that the same guiding parties turned back four other similarly ill-equipped (at least they had shoes) walkers after this.

Jandalman

Jandalman, in black, sitting on the blue thermal mat, being worked on…

This is the story as posted.

“…TOURISTS – PLEASE USE THE RIGHT GEAR AND GUIDES

This guy missed out on his Darwin Award this weekend…… by an ultra slim margin.
We found him on the Tongariro crossing, he attempted it in Jandals (thongs, Flip Flops), that jacket and jeans. Lost his jandals and jumper in a fall, what a surprise, No gloves, no hat, no food, no water, no over trousers, no map, no compass, solo attempt etc. …

When we found him he was on his way down, trying to get to his car in bare feet (He had made it to the top and fallen down Red Crater I think) and having fallen his hands were well cut up. His brain had switched to survival mode and he was focused on walking the last 5+ km of snow, ice and sharp volcanic rock to his car.

NOTE TO REMEMBER – His brain was so focused on survival, survival instinct kicked in, that I had to insist he stopped and let us help him. He was initially refusing help.

Stopped him, gave him warm chocolate drink, bandaged his hands, put socks on feet and hands and then another Kiwi party came down (also dragging down with them two more terrified, bleeding, Frenchmen who at least had sneakers on, not much use). A member of this other Kiwi group had a spare set of boots and agreed to take our guy down as well so that I could carry on.

Had to put the boots on him, he could not do it for himself.

Had to fix his hands, he could not do it for himself.

We then started up again and found two more idiots coming up behind us, also in jeans, sneakers etc. We turned them around too, they were Polish.

This guy is from France. Very close to being “…his name WAS from France…”

It is quite scary that people are still regularly ignoring or not even seeking the advice available from I-Sites and DOC Visitor Centres, and that there remains a strong perception that the mountains are safe and benign environments. Many of them only here what they want to hear and so the slightest hint that a walk may be walkable is all they need to start off. Even after being warned about winter conditions on the Crossing, a number still try to bluff their way through although many are stymied when shown a picture and asked to point to the crampons.

To assist with education and information on conditions and activities around the Park, DOC has established a Facebook page on which its posts updates on daily conditions around the Park.  So if you’re visiting, maybe check this before you head off..? A free helicopter ride is not all it’s cracked up to be…

Silhouette | The Daily Post

Silhouette | The Daily Post. This week, share a photo with a silhouette.

DSCF8711Having a large dog that likes to watch TV is often like getting the last seat at the movies – right behind the guy with the big hair…

This is Kirk…his habit started with dogs shows like It’s Me Or The Dog and A Dog’s Show and we could always tell with shows used real dog sounds and which relied on canned noises by the level of interest he would show. His taste has slowly broadened over the years to include animal shows, especially Country Calendar; reality shows – possibly because of the uncanned emotion they display; and the lower end of ‘B’ science fiction movies – basically the cornier the monster costume, the more he likes it….

When we let the dogs inside, Lulu will smooch around for cuddles and attention but Kirk will race around to the TV. If it’s not on, he will sit up straight (because that’s how good dogs get what they want) in front of the screen if it’s not not and cry until it’s is either turned on for him or he’s gets the messages and slouches onto his mat to sulk. If the TV is already on, he will watch for a few seconds and pass judgement on the content by either going to sleep – with the standard of modern TV, he sleeps a lot – or arranging himself so it can watch from his mat…

There are three scratches on the screen. That’s from when he preemptively protected me from an on-screen polar bear. So he’s not allowed to watch TV on his own anymore…