Not too much but enuff by Les Everett

• THE WACA during the Sheffield Shield final. Photo by Les Everett

I am not a sports nuffy. In fact, that’s the first time I’ve ever used that word. And last.

But last weekend I got a feel for what it’s like to be one those people who, in addition to watching footy in the winter and cricket in the summer, is passionate about some soccer team in England and one at home, an American basketball team and one at home. People who get up to watch bloody golf tournaments and every match at Wimbledon. Who pay to see boxing on TV. Who think cage fighting is sport. Who get emotional about a race horse. Who can’t wait for the Commonwealth Games and understand American football. Some even watch the Grand Prix.

The weekend started early when I headed to the WACA for the first day of the Sheffield Shield final between Western Australia and Victoria on Thursday. It was the first of four games featuring teams I really care about – the WA cricket team, Fremantle’s AFL and AFLW teams and the Australian Women’s cricket team.

It was a pleasure to be at the WACA to the sound of bat on ball, applause, ground announcements of relevant information and no music. And no, “MAKE SOME NOISE!!!”

Cameron Bancroft hit the ball in the middle from the start and crafted a patient century. Sam Whiteman seemed to be in the middle to be hit for the early part of his innings but hung around as a big opening stand built. 

Victoria had their moments. Will Sutherland bowled with great energy and there were times in both WA innings when he and Scott Boland threatened to make things uncomfortable for the home team. However a 20-20-style 50 from Corey Rocchiccioli in the first innings and great centuries by Whiteman and Aaron Hardie in the second put the game to bed. 

Victoria’s decision not to chase a bonus point lead in their first innings was puzzling. It was almost like they didn’t understand the rules.

Young Vic Mitchell Perry impressed with bat and ball (and in the field), Xavier Teague played in his first winning Shield final in his second game; Shaun Marsh in his 121st. And speaking of Marsh, getting out to Matt Short once might be regarded as careless – but twice. Let’s hope he’s back again next year.

Saturday I was in sport-nut mode watching the AFLW preliminary final on TV while keeping an eye on the Sheffield Shield on the laptop. The Crows were too good but, as is their way, the Dockers kept it at and could have been within three points with four minutes to go if a set shot had been straight. Fremantle needs someone big, strong and skilful in the ruck. This will have a twofold effect – increasing stoppage wins and releasing Mim Strom, a very good player, into another role.

The Fremantle AFLW team had a difficult year. The way they handled it could be used as a blueprint for others. New captain Hayley Miller was the standout – on the off the field. Make sure you read her article about hub life.

Hub life by Hayley Miller

The Australian women’s cricket team is so powerful it’s scary. There’s always a chance Alyssa Healy will get out early – she got a pair in the Test against England in January – but there’s trouble if she hangs around. Rachael Haynes and Beth Mooney also batted brilliantly and Ellyse Perry chimed in with 17 off 10 balls. The bowling was good but Nat Sciver made things interesting with an innings almost as good as Healy’s. Australia didn’t need much from Lanning, McGrath, Gardner and Brown – all potential match winners.

Derby day was Sunday and we saw possibly the weakest line-up of players to appear in WA footy’s big day. Covid and injuries messed up both teams and no one has seen anything like the disruption to West Coast’s season before. Despite that the Eagles went in as favourites but Fremantle were much too good and the world is a better place for it.

I also managed to watch half of a game where Collingwood thrashed Geelong and Geelong thrashed Collingwood so everyone was happy.

Monday proved I’m really not cut out for this kind of stuff. I was on the train bound for the WACA when a Tweet from Channel 7’s Adrian Barich informed me the Shield final had been called off. A draw – WA the champions.

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