AS I SEE IT (13 Nov) wc 457

By Terry O’Neill.

Australian opening batsman David Warner joined illustrious pair, Rick Ponting (Australia) and Sunil Gavaskar (India), by scoring back-to-back centuries in three tests after his performance against New Zealand at the Gabba in Brisbane.

Not bad for this young cricketer who as a 13 year-old youngster was switched to bat right-handed by his coach. But only until Warner’s mother returned the youngster to his original left handed style because it wasn’t working. Results confirm her expert perception.

Warner, upon selection to play for Australia, became the first Australian in 132 years to play for a national cricket team, of any form, without experience in first class cricket. And this Paddington boy never looked back. He earned his first test century against the Black Caps in Hobart though it wasn’t enough to arrest the Black Caps win. On August 2 again against New Zealand, in Warner’s unbeaten 123 in the Australian innings of 233 he became the sixth person to carry his bat through the fourth innings of a test match.

Warner’s batting always seems aggressive. And in 2012 his 69 ball century against India in Perth equalled West Indian Shavnarine Chanderpaul’s record for the fourth fastest test century of all times in terms of balls faced. Warner’s two centuries against the Black Caps lifted his test average to 50, on a par with Matthew Hayden (50.73), and better than the career marks of Justin Langer (48.22), Bill Lawry(42.83), Mark Taylor(43.49) and Michael Slater(42.83), all Australians. His 3900 test runs bring him close to becoming the sixth Australian opener to join the elite 4000 run club. Warner has 14 test centuries more than the combined total fellow Australians David Boon(8) and Geoff Marsh(4) managed in the “baggy green”.

Warner’s earlier batting career may be impetuous, but of late, the “molly digger” the term for a left-hander in Australia, illustrates increased discipline and control and has given away a shot which was described as a “halfie’, a half pull and a half a leg side push shot, which too often brought about his downfall.

And what other record challenges does this aggressive Australian opener face? Pakistan’s Misbah-ul-Haq holds one with the fastest test half century from just 21 balls, and West Indies batsman Viv Richards for the fastest test century from just 56 balls.

Many Black Caps supporters worried early in the first test about an innings plus defeat but Steve Smith took that out of the equation. New Zealand’s biggest ever defeat was at the hands of Pakistan when it lost by an innings and 324 runs in 2002. Pakistan made 643 and the Black Caps replied with 73 and 246 in Lahore which places the Kiwis fifth on the greatest loss margins.


In the gathering dusk of 18 August 1966…

Long Tan Cross ceremony, 18 August 1969 (c) AWM

…44 years ago, D Company, 6 Royal Australian Regiment, fought a desperate battle for survival against a Viet Cong regiment, in  a rubber plantation near a little town called Long Tan. This is one of the great sub-unit battles of history, where a few stood against many. Today, it remains as an example of great junior leadership and “…of the importance of combining and coordinating infantry, artillery, armour and military aviation...” The Presidential Unit Citation tells part of the story…

By virtue of the authority invested in me as the President of the United States and as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I have today awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for extraordinary heroism to D Company, Sixth Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, The Australian Army.
D Company distinguished itself by extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations against an opposing armed force in Vietnam on 18 August 1966.
While searching for Viet Cong in a rubber plantation northeast of Ba Ria, Phuoc Tuy, Province, Republic of Vietnam, D Company met and immediately engaged in heavy contact. As the battle developed, it became apparent that the men of D Company were facing a numerically superior force. The platoons of D Company were surrounded and attacked on all sides by an estimated reinforced enemy battalion using automatic weapons, small arms and mortars. Fighting courageously against a well armed and determined foe, the men on D Company maintained their formations in a common perimeter defence and inflicted heavy casualties on the Viet Cong.
The enemy maintained a continuous, intense volume of fire and attacked repeatedly from all directions. Each successive assault was repulsed by the courageous Australians. Heavy rainfall and low ceiling prevented any friendly close air support during the battle. After three hours of savage attacks, having failed to penetrate the Australian lines, the enemy withdrew from the battlefield carrying many dead and wounded, and leaving 245 Viet Cong dead forward of the defence positions of D Company.
The conspicuous courage, intrepidity and indomitable courage of D Company were to the highest tradition of military valour and reflect great credit upon D Company and the Australian Army.

The rest of the story is well worth ferreting out, particularly the section in Mark Woodruff’s Unheralded Victory…many of the lessons from Long Tan from infantry section to coalition task force level still apply to today’s environment…Lest We Forget…

One might hope that The Battle of Long Tan, due for release in 2011, will be on  a par with We Were Soldiers and Blackhawk Down…and serve as a timely reminder to today of yesterday’s sacrifices…

…and thanks to Narelle for the reminder of this day…

I sing you to me…

…just finished watching Australia…and really liked it…in my younger days I had a soft spot for those Aussie mini-series like Sword of Honour, The Flying Doctors, The Last Frontier, etc…I think that they are something that Australia does really well and that it’s a good indicator of the domestic maturity of your film industry when you can make a movie about yourself where everybody DOESN’T die in the last five minutes, that isn’t controversial or revisionist and that keeps legends alive…we’ve become very good at making other people’s movies here, when will we see New Zealand?

To be honest, I still have a soft spot for movies with a upbeat conclusion – I really don’t need much reminding that the world can be a bad place and that the bad guys usually win and the little guy always gets ground down – I just don’t want to be reminded in ‘my’ time so I guess I am a bit of a sucker for true blue hero stories…more so when accompanied by a good soundtrack. Waltzing Matilda makes me sad from the time I first saw the original On the Beach: no longer upbeat but haunting…