Peter Richardson.
Peter Richardson.

I yearn for the days when Australia fought above its weight

I DON'T usually venture on to the hallowed ground of the sports writers. 

They are masters oft the metaphor, but none has ever excelled the mock obituary written by Reginald Shirley Brooks in The Sporting Times after the the England cricket team was thrashed by Australia, and notably by its superfast bowler "Demon" Spofforth, at The Oval in London in 1882.

This was the start of the Ashes legend.

Fast forward to 2013. After the first match in the Test series,  I saw no need for Aussies to wear sackcloth and ashes to mourn the loss.

Why? Because at Trent Bridge, gifted young Ashton Agar had showed us how to play cricket … as a game, not a war.

His debut performance was memorable, but even more impressive were his attitude and his example, which made me think the winner of the series might well be cricket itself … the sport that gave its name to good- natured competition.

That prospect has been tarnished to some extent by the off-the-field scenario of factionalism, dysfunction and interpersonal clashes in the Australian team, and a few post mortems about sportsmanship and umpiring, but I remain hopeful.

I am old enough … and old-fashioned enough …  to yearn just a little for the days when Australia fought well above its weight in international sport long before professionalism, commercialism and media-incited jingoism combined to promote the "win at all costs" approach.

Patriotism and partisanship come naturally to most of us, as does the desire to personally excel, but it is the "at all costs" bit that worries me, one of these costs being the effect of unsporting behaviour on impressionable young followers.

Let's hope, then, that by the end of the series, the elite players who have come so far in the game, and who are so handsomely paid for their skills, will have pocketed their egos and give us reason to applaud them as a team who really  played the game, both on and off the field.

We will then be able to raise a glass to cricket, and another to sport for sport's sake.

I HAVE often thought the plant kingdom knows more about long-range weather forecasting than we humans do.

As I noted last week, we are having an early   purple patch this winter, with the native hovea, our harbinger of spring, already on show in a Coolum garden.

Now Amanda Hanson, of Conondale, tells me she's seen it flowering in the roadside bushland along Steve Iriwin Way, between the Caloundra Road interchange and Landsborough

Amanda agrees that it does seem early, so what does that mean for spring? Is the hovea getting in first before a drought?

MY thanks to the Daily for publishing Word of the Day and so expanding my vocabulary. 

I would like, though, to know the correct meaning and usage of one I hear everywhere. It is omygod. 

In its former three-part form, it expressed fearful surprise and even an appeal to a deity, but now it seems to preface just about any spoken reaction, as in "Omygod, it was awesome."

Dare I say "Omygod, I'm over it?

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