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09 December 2014

Abbott Government's cruel ABC cuts hurt women's soccer

Australian women's soccer is going from strength to strength — but maybe not for much longer after the Abbott Government's cruel cuts to the ABC, reports Lachlan Barker, who also previews the summer's first cricket Test.

I nearly missed it, but luckily, I saw the clock and noticed the Canberra v Perth W-League match was coming to an end, after being 1-1 last time I checked.

So I flicked over to the ABC and Im so glad I did, because in the shadow of full time, Canberra midfielder Ashleigh Sykes scored as technically proficient a goal as you will see anywhere in the world — in either the male or female form of the game.

Apart from being a candidate for 101 Great Goals, it took Canberra to 2-1 and into the semis. Before yesterday’s final round, Canberra, Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets were competing for the final two spots in the playoff series.

Canberra had the hardest ask, playing as they were the top team, Perth Glory, but in the end it was Newcastle who missed out. The female Jets had a 2-2 draw with Sydney and so once this game was complete, both teams turned their eyes toward the ACT for the match that would decide their fate.

Down at Viking Park in Erindale, Sykes’ winner saw the Green machine, Canberra, through with their NSW neighbours, Sydney FC, to join them.

The finals match-ups are now Perth Glory vs Sydney FC, while Canberra travel to Melbourne to play the Victory.

However, this is of course bittersweet as this is the last year, for the foreseeable future, that the women’s soccer will be on ABC television. As we reported two weeks ago, the W-League soccer has been a casualty of the Abbott Government cuts to the ABC.

IA has been referred to as an opinion paper (I don’t know why, as factually verifiable reporting is what we do), but anyway, whether that’s the case or not, I am going to give my opinion here.

The cuts to the ABC were of course nothing to do with the so-called budget emergency — they were, of course, simply the only methods the Coalition had to try to stop ABC news reporting “bad” things about the Abbott government.

Those troglodytes in Canberra want the ABC to be simply a player of lovely British sitcoms starring the delightful Felicity Kendall, for The Chaser team to be sent immediately into maximum security confinement, and for the news to constantly report in glowing terms about the great achievements of the virtuous and heroic Abbott Government.

It’s an outrageous attack on the factual and unbiased reporting that the ABC does across all media platforms and all political stripes.

So for me, an admittedly Johnny-come-lately to the women’s soccer, to have this excellent sporting broadcast cut because Tony Abbott really wants Lateline off the air and for Fran Kelly to say “Tony Abbott is fantastic” a minimum of 40 times every morning on ABC Radio National Breakfast, is frustrating beyond belief.

Anyway, that’s my rant. One can only hope that sanity returns in the future, possibly only with a change of Federal Government and the women’s soccer returns to our screens.

And now Cricket
Elsewhere, the real cricket – that is, Test cricket – finally gets underway in Adelaide with the first test against India. The Test series for this summer was due originally to start in Brisbane last week but was postponed due to the tragic death of Phil Hughes.

Hughes’ funeral was held in his home town of Macksville on the NSW north coast on Thursday last week, and many of the Test team attended. From all reports this did provide some closure for the players, though all the same, going out on the field in Adelaide is still going to be difficult.

However, as Test captain Michael Clarke said:

“And we must play on.”

The Australian team is favoured to win, as all home teams are these days, and their favouritism was enhanced with the news that Clarke will play, with his hamstring having responded to treatment. Shane Watson has (again) returned from injury, and will bat at first drop.

Chris Rogers has retained his place at the top of the batting order. Things are difficult here as Rogers failed to impress on the recent tour to the gulf, however, his most likely replacement would have been Phil Hughes. Thus the selectors will adopt a steady as she goes attitude, and hope Rogers will respond to batting at home again.

The other contentious spot was in the bowling attack, where Peter Siddle and newcomer Josh Hazlewood were contending for a fast bowling position. Siddle will play, no doubt the great amount of capital he built up over recent times with his lion-hearted performances has stood him in good stead. However Hazlewood is cherry ripe, and will exert a constant pressure on the veteran paceman throughout the summer.

Australia’s team is: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (c), Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin (vc), Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris and Nathan Lyon. Shaun Marsh is 12th man.

The Indian team has similar issues with injury concerns over inspirational captain MS Dhoni. The delayed start to the series has given Dhoni an unlooked for extra amount of time to recover.
With the postponement of the first test, a tour match was hastily arranged for the Indians at Glenelg Oval. From this game, Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli are looking like the ones to watch in the Test. Both showed good form at the crease, with Vijay posting 60 (retired) and Kohli 66 (also retired). Paceman Ishant Sharma was feisty and dangerous with a five-wicket haul in the same match.

So, the real cricket finally gets underway, with the enormous shadow of Phil Hughes’ death falling across cricket for some time to come, no doubt.

The wait for the start of any sporting fixture is always hard on those involved, and never has this been truer than of this Test match.