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BY KENT WINZER
MARCH 8, 2004
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Well, it's early March, and it's that unique time in Melbourne when
there is a cross-over in the seasons, and foreigners also feel welcome
to be a part of the sporting capital of the world, Melbourne. Let's
have a look at three sports: Formula 1, cricket and footy!
The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix has been run and
won, with a predictable victory to Michael Schumacher from Germany
in his Ferrari. Australia's home-town hero Mark Webber retired from
the race early due to gearbox troubles in his Jaguar.
Other important highlights of Grand Prix weekend at
Albert Park included the rare vision of cigarette sponsorship in Australia,
grid girls, lanyards galore, and traffic chaos around South Melbourne.
The Formula 1 Grand Prix is an opportunity for many
Australians to show they know absolutely nothing about the sport,
yet choose to wear the Ferrari team colours. This does not account
for all Australians, however, with many wearing the green of Jaguar,
and the navy blue of Williams to show that us Aussies do have our
own thought processes from time to time.
Australia's test team is about to begin their series
against Sri Lanka. Any team is difficult to beat in the sub-continent,
and this series will be no exception.
Australia welcomes back the great Shane Warne to the
side, who will add vital firepower that was sorely missed in the recent
India series. Ricky Ponting will be keen to get his test captaincy
off to a spectacular start after taking over from Steve Waugh in January.
Sri Lanka have one decent bowler in Chaminda Vaas, a thrower in
Muttiah Muralitharan, and some reasonable batsmen scattered throughout
the order. My tip is Australia will win the series comfortably.
Locally, Victoria will host their first Sheffield Shield
final in more than a decade when they meet Queensland at the MCG on
March 12. This match will be one of the most important in recent domestic
cricket history, due largely to the untimely passing of
David Hookes, the coach of Victoria.
The 2004 AFL Premiership Season is fast approaching,
and is as important off the field for many clubs as is the action
on the field.
Melbourne, St Kilda, Geelong, the Western Bulldogs,
Carlton and even Richmond are facing hefty financial difficulties
in the lead up to the season, and some of these clubs are closer to
the brink of extinction than many people realise. Melbourne, in particular,
are surely in grave danger of being the next Fitzroy.
On the field, the non-Victorian teams are powering up
for another stellar year, with tipsters loathe to predict any missing
the finals. Brisbane are undoubtedly the Premiership favourite overall,
with West Coast and Adelaide providing some pressure. For Victorian
fans, the best bets look like Essendon and Collingwood, with St
Kilda's pre-season form also looking promising.
My Two Cents
I guess it would be remiss of me to forget to give Rugby
League a mention here today as well. The Canterbury Bulldogs have
placed themselves in hot water after claims of sexual assault during
a training camp in Coffs Harbour. The Melbourne Storm have also
had similar issues to deal with in the off-season, but have been criticised
for covering up the allegations. The feel on the street is now that
the concerned players, if guilty, should feel the full force of the
law, and be sacked. Fame and fortune comes with its own responsibilities.
Those who abuse their privileges should be duly
punished. And that's my two cents.