Friday Frills - Thanks Richie

It's weird how things work. This morning I had a variety of commitments that I needed to handle which left my no time to follow my Friday morning ritual, writing the Friday Frills column. It was frustrating, I like to put these online around the same time every week but what can ya do? Life got in the way.

Finding out that the great Richie Benaud passed today put a different spin on all that, here I am, late Friday afternoon eager to share my thoughts about Mr Benaud. I, like most of you don't know much about Richie Benaud the cricket player, the leg-spinner, the former Australian captain but ever since a youngster when I would park my backside on the couch in summer to watch Australia smash whoever was touring at the time, Richie Benaud's voice would offer warmth.

The Black Caps sucked at cricket for a long time, especially during the years when I really started to passionately watch any sort of cricket. I wanted to watch the best, which meant that watching Australia play was compulsary and that always included Richie Benaud. 

There's no need to go into all his mannerisms that made him the commentator he was, but I think the fact that many of us love him thanks to only really knowing him as a commentator speaks volumes of the man he was. People who know are great deal more than me will tell you about Richie Benaud the cricket player, how good he was etc, but here I am talking about a commentator like he's a cricketing god.

Commentators are weird, especially Australian commentators yet it's impossible to not love Richie Benaud. The ego that the majority of the Australian commentators have was absent in Benaud, it was never about him which is one of the more unbearable aspects of their commentary. Benaud simply loved cricket and he used his expertise to offer insight, to add to what you were seeing on the telly and he never harped on about his day, it was about the here and now. Cricket has changed a great deal over the years but Benaud always found a a way to add his infinite knowledge to the modern game, the game that I grew to love.

Apparently he was a great bloke as well, good on him.

It's fitting that Benaud will have a state funeral and tributes will flow from across our little planet, all for Richie. He deserves it, he's graced my ears every summer, a task not easily done as most commentators do nothing more than hurt your ears. He truly graced my ears.

Also this afternoon we had news that the A-League has come down pretty hard on the Perth Glory for breaching the salary cap. They had breached the salary cap in each of the past three seasons and this season they exceeded the salary cap by $400,000. Jeepers creepers, that's not good for the westerners, pretty dumb all round really.

This All Blacks Sevens side is going to be one of the most intriguing stories as they gear up for the Olympics. Aaron Cruden has turned down that opportunity, as he'd rather play for the All Blacks and not sacrifice that season to prepare for the Olympics, all power to him.

You can't celebrate players who choose to play in the Olympics and you can't question blokes who don't want to, situations are different as is every player. That said, it's going to be interesting to see who is keen to test themselves and give it a go. First of all they have to be asked by Sir Gordon Tietjens, they have to be wanted and have Sir Gordon at the helm is perfect as I'm sure he's very aware of how beneficial it will be to have specialist sevens players. He's got a fair amount of quality players to choose from thought, Aaron Smith? Israel Dagg? Julian Savea? The list goes on and on.

We seem to celebrate blokes who have talked about their concussion issues, so it's only right that we celebrate someone who has taken action. Ben Afeaki's retired at 27 years of age thanks to the head knocks and he can only be respected, while many players continue to hit the brick wall expecting a different result.

Why anyone would honestly care about FIFA's rankings is beyond me, especially when you're from Aotearoa and your football team can rise and fall with very little reasoning. On the surface, the All Whites lost a game so they probably deserve to slip down the rankings a bit but they in no way, shape or form take in to account the performance or the bright future this side has. Don't get down in the dumps about it.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's move to the Warriors continues to serve up little bits of confusion. The fact that Roosters coach Trent Robinson had no idea about his impending move to Auckland should explain a fair bit. The Roosters have a squad that is full of Origin/rep players which makes keeping them all pretty darn difficult and it looks like Daniel Tupou could be heading out the door as well.

Steven Adams, Upto Bro?

vs San Antonio Spurs - 26 minutes, 5 points, 2 blocks, 4 rebounds

This Weekend

We're once again spoilt for choice this weekend with sporting action. The Wellington Phoenix have a game they would love to win against Melbourne City, it's not a must win fixture but after two rather stink losses, a win is desirable. Same with the Warriors, two stinkers and they face the Wests Tigers at Mt Smart in Manu Vatuvei's 200th game, surely they have to step it up a gear and put together a performance worthy of the occasion.

Headlining the A-League's action we have 2nd place Perth Glory taking on 5th placed Sydney FC, while in Super Rugby the Crusaders face the Highlanders on Saturday. With the Highlanders ahead of the Crusaders by one point, this south island derby will be a huge battle.

The Black Sticks ladies suffered a heavy 7-1 defeat at the hands of Argentina after getting a win in game one. They now play in the Hawkes Bay Cup which starts this weekend and features Argentina, Australia, China, USA, Korea, Japan and India. It'll be great to host a tournament like this in Aotearoa and with the Hawkes Bay having a strong hockey following, it should serve up decent crowds. 

The Black Sticks men also suffered defeat, 3-1 to Australia and will be eyeing up a win against Korea on Saturday night. A draw will do to secure a finals spot against the Aussies and it should be achieved but Korea are a tricky side who will serve up a tough contest.