The alleged kidnapping and bashing of Australian golf star Robert Allenby was simply an opportunistic crime and probably did not involve any “weird, kinky sex shit,” according to Honolulu police officials.
Honolulu Police Chief Barry Saunders told The Public Apology that so far there is no real hard evidence to suggest anything other than a conventional mugging.
“I’ll admit, this case looks really fishy on the surface,” Saunders said.
“One guy being led from a wine bar by two other men, then being found bashed and robbed in a carpark has all the hallmarks of a gay sexual rendezvous gone wrong.
“We see these types of cases all the time around here. But in this instance, quite bizarrely, Mr Allenby just appears to be the victim of a random crime.”
Since the incident emerged, the overwhelming sentiment on social media is that it all seems a bit ‘suss’, with lots of thinly veiled speculation that Allenby’s predicament may even have been the result of a risky sex game gone wrong.
“The media reports said he was drinking at a ‘wine bar’. If they just said it was a ‘bar’, and left it at that, I wouldn’t have thought any more of it, but the adjective ‘wine’ really does evoke sordid sexual imagery,” Tectater1981 tweeted.
“Everyone knows that golfers have voracious appetites – and while Allenby is only a low-profile, mid-tier golfer with no previous history of rampant sexual activities, I can’t imagine him to be any less insatiable than Tiger [Woods],” another commentator, Jeremyredman2, remarked.
At the time of publication, Honolulu Police had not ruled out the possibility Robert Allenby’s kidnapping was the work of an international criminal syndicate, ala the plot all the films in the Taken series, as initially suggested by Mr Allenby.
Tony Greig has sadly passed; Richie Benaud isn’t coming back. Ian Chappell and Bill Lawry remain, but they’re peripheral figures now. It’s the end of an era, as we know it, and the shoes to fill are large. So why is Channel Nine intent on putting its greatest product in the hands of imbeciles? TPA chief editor Dave Edwards laments the low-brow approach to modern cricket commentary…
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The New Wave music movement of the late 70s and early 80s carried with it a “twitchy, agitated feel,” representing a distinctly modern departure from the smoother, traditional blues-infused rock of the early-mid 1970s.
It felt fresh, relevant, and invigorating. Choppy rhythm guitars, synths and energetic vocals were aimed at a young audience, with an emphasis on lyrical complexity and polished production. The genre was angular and sharp, like the very frontmen and women themselves. These young artists had recognised the times and moved with them, not against them.
Richie Benaud and his famous commentary line-up represented traditional rock and roll. Benaud himself was positively Dylan-esque. A poet speaking truths; the voice of a generation; a cream-clad doyen with a voice of velvet. Greig and Lawry, meanwhile, were the equivalent of Lennon-McCartney. Bickering creative partners, yet responsible for some of the greatest four-chord hits in history.
This New Wave of Channel Nine Cricket Commentary – which relies on puerility, boorishness, and sexual innuendo – is neither fresh, nor necessary.
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Essentially, the problem with the Channel Nine coverage (and modern sports commentary in general), is that there’s too much colour and not enough substance. Everyone’s a ‘hype’ man, with former greats willing to play the goat for a giggle. As a result, the coverage lacks credence and gravitas.
Despite his health scares, Richie Benaud is probably more than capable of coming back for a cameo. But who could blame him from steering well clear, given the level of buffoonery which exists within the once sacred commentary box today?
You could be excused for thinking you’d tuned into an episode of The Footy Show – given the conversation that takes place between commentators such as James Brayshaw, Michael Slater, Shane Warne, Mark Taylor, Ian Healy, Brett Lee, etc. This collegiate humour is fine in small doses – in fact, it has held down the 9:30pm Thursday winter night slot for 20 years – but when forced down your throat for five days, often at the cost of actual game analysis and insight, it wears very thin indeed.
Channel Nine has a lot to answer for, but in the tough world of channel ratings and sponsorship, it’s hard to knock their strategy.
Like all mainstream FTA channels – Channel Nine’s modus operandi is to capture the hearts and minds of mass-market middle Australia. Shows such as The Block, Big Brother and Underbelly reflect the nation’s appetite and attention span.
But cricket is a different product. It’s not a dispensable reality TV show; it’s a premium offering which must be treated with care and respect. On the Mad Men spectrum of key accounts, Cricket is Chevrolet – a luxurious high-value item that represents all things Americana Australia.
That said, cricket’s target audience has surely changed over the years, in line with the various developments within the sport itself.
Ever since One Day cricket beamed onto our TVs in the late 70s courtesy of Kerry Packer, Benaud and his team steered us to present day with barely a hiccup.
This era of blues-inflused rock is over. Test and one day cricket have a new cousin, known as T20 cricket. This young relative is a bit different – he probably suffers from Aspergers Disease or some other strain of autism – and, consequently, he soaks up all of our attention.
Without the disruptive influence of T20 cricket and the need to ‘entertain’ rather than simply ‘commentate (there’s a huge difference, let me tell you), the old team injected just the right amount of energy, humour and absurdity that televised cricket required.
T20 cricket changed pretty much everything. It gave way to ‘hype’ and fast money. Richie Benaud-style understatement was (naturally) eschewed for loud monosyllabic catch-cries, with any idiot now capable of calling a game.
Cricket changed, ergo commentary changed. It had to.
But somehow, this bold braggadocio has seeped into the test match arena. Shot selection is key in test cricket; not just on the field, but in the box, too. Instead of blurting out the first thing that comes to mind, test cricket commentators should take a considered, thoughtful approach to their art.
As Robert Browning once said in his 1855 poem, ‘Andrea del Sarto’: less is more.
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The very nature of test cricket requires its scribes and commentators to exercise verve and wordplay; to fuse the sport with cultural references, to give it life and spirit, the way Peter Roebuck did; the way Gideon Haigh sometimes does. However, as TPA senior editor Sam Perry says:
“These blokey [Channel Nine] commentators actually make cricket more boring than it already is. They breathe zero life into it, reduce its meaning, and persuade audiences that it is the exclusive, inaccessible domain of the white bloke. It’s a closed culture. Cricket Australia should be running secret programs to identify commentators that can open up the beauty of cricket through commentary. Really, cricket should be fused with geopolitics, food, wine, Ancient Rome, and horticulture.”
– Perry, Sam (2015)
Ideally it would be incumbent on CA, as Perry suggests, to actively seek out this next generation of cricket commentators, rather than simply rely on ex-players retiring to the safe, comfortable confines of the commentary box – a closed, male-driven environment, not dissimilar in tone to any grade cricket change-room, in a bid to remain relevant.
With Mark Nicholas, Channel Nine has shown that they are willing to import “class”* given our inability to produce local talent. However, as long as Channel Nine has the rights, this blokey culture will continue to dominate. Cheap gags and surface-level observation will triumph over considered thought and irony.
In all honesty, the old Channel Nine team probably weren’t that good. But they were original – and that’s all that mattered.
Cricket is the soundtrack to summer, and cricket is Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It’s not cricket’s fault that today’s soundtrack resembles a Pitbull track (featuring Ke$ha).
By Dave Edwards
* Nicholas is ‘class’ in that he is English-born, and able to speak reasonably eloquently without resorting to glib bogan catch-phases. However, he will always suffer from the very-Australian criticism that “he didn’t play test cricket, so who cares what he has to say”. This is also a systemic issue within Australian sport: the idea that, as a commentator, your opinions do not matter unless you played the highest level of that particular sport. This prejudice does not exist in the U.S., for example, where sportscasting is a much more highly developed and respectable industry.
The Public Apology chief editor and renowned showman, Dave Edwards, recently called on test spinner Nathan Lyon to “sex things up” and weirdly, “put some Barry White on, and fuck around a bit.”
It is an attitude that not only speaks volumes on Edwards’ lothario lifestyle, but is indicative of exactly where Australia has gone wrong with their spin bowlers since the end of the Warne-era.
I, for one, strongly disagree with Edwards and his notion that spin bowling needs to be sexy. Glancing down the list of the top ten Test spin bowlers in terms of wickets taken is – Shane Warne aside – anything but sexy. Muttiah Muralitharan. Anil Kumble. Derek Underwood. These are not sexy men. Was there anything more boring than watching Anil Kumble bowl? The fact that man took ten wickets in one innings should be proof enough that spin bowling does not need to be sexy!
Shane Warne and his delightful Playboy panties may have fooled us into thinking otherwise for a while, but he was an anomaly. Brilliant, yes, but certainly no pioneer, as the failed experiments that were Colin “Funky” Miller and Jason “Crazy” Krejza attested.
In desperately searching for another “Warnie”, Cricket Australia ignored years of solid evidence that spin bowling does not need to be sexy in order to be effective. When they finally gave up and begrudgingly settled on Lyon, I do not believe it was a coincidence that Australia’s Test ranking once again began to climb.
He provides the foundation for our pace bowlers to do the damage, and occasionally, on a wearing pitch, can tear through batting orders and win us Test matches. Could we ask for any more? Certainly, but to do so would be greedy and fraught with danger.
And what is sexy anyway? It is largely subjective. Edwards seems to consider it something marketable and flamboyant. Cricket Australia would no doubt agree, as exemplified in their ongoing love affair with the Big Bash*. I personally feel it is something entirely different.
Part of Edwards’ sexy plan called for Lyon to name his ‘mystery’ balls, but I would argue that Lyon’s unwillingness, whether down to country boy modesty, as Edwards suggested, or not, only serves to make those balls all the more mysterious. Do you think James Bond would name his deliveries? Lyon’s cool, calm and reserved nature is more fucking Bond-like than doe-eyed country boy.
But it is in fact Lyon’s country charm and modesty that most appeals to me. It is no doubt why Michael Hussey named him to lead the team song when he retired. He is a rarity in this world where actual good old fashioned values, like politeness and helping a friend out, are declining more rapidly than the average IQ of a breakfast radio host, and thus his importance to Australian cricket goes far beyond the playing field.
Nathan Lyon is the quiet guy who always turns up to your birthday, gets happily drunk and helps clean up the next day. On the flip side I reckon you could also easily go out and have three or four beers with him and happily call it a night. Two shouts each, a good catch up, and then home to your loved ones and no hangover the next day.
If Shane Warne** didn’t ditch you at the first sight of an insecure female in a miniskirt, you just know you’d end up catching a cab to Kings Cross at 3am as he desperately tried to score some coke or a blowjob. Two days later you’d wake up naked and hogtied in a hotel room in Canberra, wondering how the fuck you got there and whether you would rather call for help, or die from dehydration and save yourself the embarrassment.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it is certainly not a wholesome end to an evening.
In the next test match Australia plays, Nathan Lyon will most likely take his place as Australia’s highest wicket taking off-spinner. He only needs five wickets to do so and surpass Hugh Trumble’s 100+ year old record of 141.
At a sprightly 27, he may just go on to join the elusive 300 club. Slowly toiling away on a career that is more Scotch Whiskey than Alco-pop, and if you ask me, that is fucking sexy.
By Alasdair McClintock
* Something I absolutely loathe, but must begrudgingly accept has been successful – but at what cost?
** This is not necessarily what I imagine the average night out with the actual Shane Warne would be like, more a caricature of the man, although…