THE WEEK THAT WAS: Doting Dads are always proud when their sons turn out to be high achievers, especially when it is doing the same thing they do themselves. It’s been a big few days for that, Chief Writer RON REED reports:
SPORTS FANS find father-son combinations fascinating in Australian sport, especially in footy – or any other sport for that matter. This week has certainly been no exception. Irish trainers Joseph O’Brien and his dad Aidan quinellaed the Melbourne Cup with Rekindling and Johannes Vermeer while, also in Melbourne, young South Australian batsman Jake Lehmann, son of the national coach Darren Lehmann, presented his credentials for a surprise Ashes call-up by making a ton and 93 against Victoria at the MCG.
This is nothing new for the great race. The big three trainers who dominated Australian racing in the 60s and 70s, Tommy Smith, Colin Hayes and Bart Cummings, have all been part of father-son combinations – or in Smith’s case, father-daughter. TJ won with Just a Dash in 1981 and Gai Waterhouse followed up with Fiorente in 2013. Hayes had Beldale Ball in 1980 and At Talaq in 1986 while his son David produced Jeune in 1994. Cummings, of course, won a record 12 Cups following in the trail of his fathe, Jim Cummings, who had Comic Court in 1950
Two of these dynasties are far from finished yet. Cummings’ son Anthony and Anthony’s son James are both full-time trainers with plenty of time on their side to emulate their elders and, maybe, make it a four-generation story. And Hayes’s son Ben has joined the old man as a partner, hoping for a third generation Cup.
The syndrome is not all that common in cricket, not in Australia anyway. If Lehmann the younger makes it all the way, he will be only the fourth son to follow his father into a baggy green cap. The first was Syd Gregory way back in 1890, 13 years after Ned Gregory played in the inaugural Test at the MCG. It took another 121 years for Shaun Marsh to follow his dad, Geoff Marsh, with another brother, Mitchell, following soon after. In a couple of cases, the talent has skipped a generation or two. The Chappell brothers, Ian, Greg and Trevor, are the grandsons of Victor Richardson, a fine all-round sportsmen between the wars. And Paul Sheahan is the great-grandson of one William Cooper, who played two Tests in the 1880s.
There are well over a dozen such English combinations, with two certain to feature in the coming Ashes battle. Feisty pace bowler Stuart Broad is the son of former opening batsman Chris Broad, who became an ICC referee. And wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow has followed David Bairstow, also a well-performed gloveman. If either of the Marsh brothers gets a recall or Lehmann forces his way in, it will probably set some sort of record.
Some of the better combinations from other countries have been New Zealand’s Walter and Richard Hadlee (plus Barry and Dayle) and Lance and Chris Cairns, along with South Africa’s Peter and Shaun Pollock.
And don’t get us started on brothers – every country has numerous pairs.
FOR the first time in its six years of existence, Australia’s only World Tour cycling team, Orica-Scott – or whatever it is going to be named next year – may have a legitimate rival for the affections of local fans.
That would be the American team BMC, which established a strong Australian connection when it was home to Cadel Evans when he became the first Australian to win the Tour de France in 2011. Now they have recruited another Australian favourite son, Simon Gerrans, who will join Richie Porte and the promising Miles Scotson to intensify the antipodean flavour, while Orica-Scott continues to dilute its own DNA.
The Australian team announced its squad for 2018 this week and while it was no surprise to see Gerrans’ name missing – he made his move months ago after being disappointed to miss selection for Le Tour for the first time – it might still take some getting used to for fans of the rider who did more than anyone to get GreenEDGE, as the team was originally known when it was established in 2012, up to speed in the highly-competitive elite European environment.
Orica – still the team’s handle, although the naming rights sponsorship was to have expired at the end of this year with owner Gerry Ryan having made no announcements about a replacement, if he has one – have named 25 riders, one fewer than last year. They include 10 Australians and 15 from other countries. These numbers and ratios are very different from the 2012 launch, when it was 31 riders of whom 17 were home-grown. Commercial and competitive realities have seen the team profile change considerably over the past four years, although its management and coaching staff is still overwhelmingly Australian and it still proudly flies the same flag and always will while Ryan is in charge.
Half of this year’s Australian contingent – Caleb Ewan, 23, Alex Edmondson, 23, Jack Haig, 24, Lucas Hamilton, 21, and Robert Power, 22, are under 25 and still making their way in the sport, guided largely by veteran Mathew Hayman, 39, while Luke Durbridge, 26, Michael Hepburn, 26, Damien Howson, 25, and returning all-rounder Cameron Meyer, 29, will all shoulder a lot of responsibility.
The team has recruited Italian Matteo Trentin, who won four stages of the Spanish Vuelta in the most successful season of his career, as well as experienced and versatile New Zealander Jack Bauer and accomplished Spanish climber Mikel Nieve. According to head sports director Matt White, this will make the outfit “stronger in all areas – we have bought very well”.
White said there were clear objectives for 2018. “Going after more monument success and results in the classics are definitely part of that along with stages and GC results in all three Grand Tours. There is only one monument we haven’t already won and that is the Tour of Flanders, it’s possibly the hardest to win but we have a team capable of it. Then comes the Grand Tours, we want to be competitive in all three, including stage wins and the GC. It will be a busy year and we are really looking forward to it.”
Ryan will also continue to field a powerful women’s team of 10 riders. He may also be looking for a way to maintain the men’s profile as one of the most fan-friendly and popular teams in the peloton, having lost talented film-maker Dan Jones, who has left to pursue other ambitions – including first-time fatherhood – after producing the enormously successful Back Stage Pass videos which provided an insight to life behind the scenes of a big-time team. This became a recently-released feature movie called All For One, which attracted positive reviews.
At BMC, meanwhile, Porte is back in full training after being badly injured in a crash during the Tour de France in July and will almost certainly be the best Australian hope of joining Evans on the honour roll of the world’s greatest bike race again next year. Whether Gerrans is part of that, in a support role, remains to be seen but it is to be hoped that he contests the Australian circuit in January and February at least one more time. Fans will also be keen to see more of Scotson, 23, from South Australia, who was a surprise winner of the national road race championship in January in his first ride for BMC, narrowly defeating Gerrans.
HOW many new Don Bradmans have there been since the immortal Australian batsman stopped playing in 1948? Stand by for a new one to be anointed. Eighteen-year-old Baheer Shab has played four matches in Afghanistan’s developing first-class competition, the Alokozay Ahmed Shah Abdali four-day-tournament, and has scored 256 not out in the first one, 34 and 11, then 111 and 116, and finally 303 not out. That’s 831 runs at 207.75 and he becomes the second youngest batsman from anywhere to make a triple century, behind Pakistani legend Javed Miandad, who was 17 when he made 310 in a domestic match in 1974-75. Afghanistan was recently given Test status by the ICC but has yet to play a match so it remains to be seen just how good this kid really is. However, Australian Dean Jones recently spent a brief time coaching in Kabul and reported back enthusiastically that there was a lot of genuine talent there.
He’s a good judge, Deano, and a good coach, so no doubt he’ll be adding this discovery to his CV.
WITH due respect to Dusty Martin, this column is among those who believed Bachar Houli was the rightful winner of the Norm Smith medal in the Grand Final. We are not alone – indeed, they think so in Beirut now. Australian journalist Michael Reid recently found himself up on the Syrian border – a stone’s throw from a war zone – where he met a group of people from the western suburbs of Melbourne handing over funds they had raised for their old village school. One of them was Houli’s Dad, who proudly produced photos of his son holding the Tigers’ premiership cup while he told all and sundry how his boy was robbed of Smithy. Needless to say, he didn’t get any arguments.
SPORTSMAN OF THE WEEK
Fast bowler Mitchell Starc is already in white-hot form for the Ashes, taking not one but two hat-tricks for NSW against Western Australia, a feat unprecedented in first class cricket in Australia. Is he about to do a Mitch Johnson against the Poms?
WINNER OF THE WEEK
Unemployed punter Dominic Clemente lucked into a random bet with the TAB that allowed him to pick a Cup horse to win $1 million – and he got it right with Rekindling. That’s what you call a long shot – firstly, being plucked from hundreds of thousands of TAB account holders who were also eligible and then getting a horse at fairly big odds to salute.
LOSER OF THE WEEK
Probably not for the first time, that would-be Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who failed again to win the Melbourne Cup when Hartnell finished a dismal 20th, bringing his losses over his obsession with the great race to an estimated $1.1 billion.
YOU READ IT HERE FIRST
Richmond heavyweight Neil Balme generally keeps his opinions to himself, especially about the opposition, but he threw his weight behind Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley the other day, saying he would succeed — but only if the Magpies got their act together as a club. It was controversial stuff and Sportshounds was there to hear it.
Author: Ron Reed
RON REED has spent more than 50 years as a sportswriter or sports editor, mainly at The Herald and Herald Sun. He has covered just about every sport at local, national and international level, including multiple assignments at the Olympic and Commonwealth games, cricket tours, the Tour de France, America’s Cup yachting, tennis and golf majors and world title fights.