Cricket in its long form is testing my patience somewhat

Fitbit on the side

The best story of the sporting week, in a generally dull sporting time? It comes from NFL reporter Jane Slater, who put out a tweet from @SlaterNFL that went viral. Take it away, Jane: “An Ex Boyfriend once got me a Fitbit for Christmas. I loved it. We synched up, motivated each other . . . didn’t hate it until he was unaccounted for at 4am and his physical activity levels were spiking on the app. Wish the story wasn’t real.”

The responses were many and varied but, as the American press delighted in reporting, perhaps the best came from a woman with the Twitter handle of @just_mindy who tweeted:

“Been there. Didn’t find out through Fitbit though. My ex’s physical activity would have only spiked for like 90 seconds so it would have been practically unnoticeable anyway.”

Ahem. Moving right along!

In their defence

The cricket skills might be questionable at times, but there will be no doubting the competitive fire when two teams from the Australian Special Operations Command – the Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment and the Commando Regiment – take each other on in a cricket game on Australia Day.

The”East v West” grudge match is an initiative of Wandering Warriors, a group dedicated to supporting those Australian Defence Force members who served Australia in the relentless series of deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, Timor Leste and elsewhere on the globe between 2001 and 2012 in particular.

Merry Christmas, readers!Credit:John Shakespeare

Wandering Warriors raises money to help ADF personnel gain education, employment, mentoring and respite beyond military life. Members of the public are welcome at the big game, to be held at Reg Bartley Oval in Rushcutters Bay, where another Australian who made a place at the intersection of cricket and military life, Steve Waugh, carved his first first-grade century for Bankstown more than 30 years ago. More information www.

Bronzed Aussie moi

Thank you, thank you all! Thank you for your many inquiries – or enquiries, I’m never sure which – as to how I fared at the British Indoor Rowing Championships in London last Saturday. I have not been able to reply to all queries, but this is the guts of it: There were about 2500 competitors there, across all age groups, including mine, the over-55s.

The Fitz Files gave it a good shake at the British Indoor Rowing Championships in London last weekend but just came up short.

The Fitz Files gave it a good shake at the British Indoor Rowing Championships in London last weekend but just came up short.

As discussed I thought I needed to do about 6 minutes 36 seconds in the 2000m – three seconds faster than my best – to get onto the podium, and that proved to be the case. I came fourth, with a time of 6:41, just off my best. But, no worries. I should own the 500m, right? Last year’s winning time was 1:25.9. I had done a 1:24.5 just last week, and a couple of years ago had nailed the Australian record for over-55s with a time of 1:23.6. I was confident . . . right up until the moment when I saw them: a couple of those young punk 56-year-olds with bristling muscles, slick hair-style, strange tatts and weird music, one of whom had been the world-record holder in the 50-55 range!

Oh, Gawd.

Ready . . . set . . . GO LIKE THE CLAPPERS.

And I did, falling off the rower, shattered with exhaustion, 1:23.1 seconds later to secure the bronze. The gold medallist did it in 1:22.1, and the silver medallist in 1:22.6.

As it happened, they were very nice blokes and, after the medal ceremony, even agreed to having a little practice for next year’s podium placements by letting me stand on the top spot momentarily, as I advised them I am going to come back to smoke them both.

It means your ideas for how I can get another second off my time are most welcome. It is going to have to start with improving my technique. My one-time Wallaby teammate David Dix got silver in the 50-54 age-group for the 2000m with a time of 6:18  and it was extraordinary how languorously he appeared to row while still generating extraordinary power. I want to be able to do it like that. So I need stroke instruction – oh, stop it – and pilates yes? Together with rowing 500 or so kilometres in the next 12 months?


Fitzing farewell

And so that’s it for the year. Thanks so much for your copious correspondence throughout. For the first 15 years or so of emails, I really did pride myself on responding to all of them in some fashion. In the last five years or so, though it has got beyond me – I still read them all, the good, the bad and the ugly, and am informed by them. Keep ’em coming on Wishing you a good break, as I head off on my own. As ever, if you need me you will find me between the flags at Newport Beach.

What they said

Andrew Webster on WADA’s ban on Russia competing at the Olympic Games and other forthcoming international sports tournaments: It might be the strongest sanction WADA has ever handed down, but in essence it’s a ban on a tracksuit and a national anthem.” That is a bit brilliant, Andrew.

Faf du Plessis wants to turn around South African cricket by channelling Donald Trump: “The attention needs to be on the cricket and making sure we will build ourselves as a team and ourselves as an organisation to be great again.”

Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev on Russia being given a doping ban by WADA: “This is part of anti-Russian hysteria which has become chronic.”

Yury Ganus, the head of RUSADA: “There is no chance of winning this case in court. This is a tragedy. Clean athletes are seeing their rights limited.”

Joseph Williams, former NRL player, then boxer: As far as the short-term memory stuff goes, it’s horrific. I lay down next to my daughter when she was two days old – she’s two now – and I had no idea of her name. I couldn’t remember her being born. The reason I’m a big advocate for [the brain bank] isn’t to work out whether [CTE] is or isn’t true, it’s about how we can advance the science around healing it. That’s where I’m coming from.” He’s 36 years old.

The redoubtable Kerry O’Keeffe commentating on Fox Cricket: “Marnus Labuschagne’s eyes are interesting guys. A mate of mine who studies eye position tells me his eyes are so close together it’s such an advantage. He suggests Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, athletes who both have eyes very close together, and I’ve looked at Marnus’s and they’re tight. Just a thought. It’s a theory.”

NSW spinner Steve O'Keefe strikes to remove Mitchell Swepson in extraordinary conditions at the SCG this week.

NSW spinner Steve O’Keefe strikes to remove Mitchell Swepson in extraordinary conditions at the SCG this week.Credit:AAP

NSW cricketer Stephen O’Keefe on playing in the haze: “For someone like me who smokes 40 a day, it’s now smoking 80 cigarettes a day.”

Latrell Mitchell in an interview with NSW went real funny on us because we don’t sing the anthem.” It was an implication of racism that, of all people in rugby league, least fits NSW coach Brad Fittler. In public, and in private, he was entirely supportive of Indigenous players who didn’t want to sing the anthem.

Alfonso Meyer from Super Rugby Bulls on whether they would recruit Israel Folau after being approached by his camp: “Initially I was excited but if you look at this matter with a sober mind then it’s simply not worth the risk. He is controversial and you’ll expose yourself by contracting him.”

Laurie Daley on Big Sports Breakfast on whether he would have Folau at a club, even if the NRL would allow it: I’m not paying him anything. I don’t bring him to my club. Too much baggage. You divide your club, you divide your sponsors, you divide your members and you probably would even . . . have some players that would have some concerns with him coming in and fitting in to your culture . . . Why would you want to bring all this disruption to your club when you don’t need it?”

Caroline Wozniacki on hanging up the racquet after the Australian Open: “I’ve accomplished everything I could ever dream of on the court.”

David Warner on if he wants his leadership ban lifted: “I was waiting for those questions. At the end of the day you just have to respect the decision and move on and get on with it.”

Team of the Week

Sam Kerr. Last week the London Guardian put out its list of top 100 female soccer players and she was top of the list!

Lynne Anderson. The Australian Paralympic CEO won the leadership category at the AIS Sport Performance Awards.

Beth Mooney celebrates with Heat teammates after winning their second consecutive Women's Big Bash final.

Beth Mooney celebrates with Heat teammates after winning their second consecutive Women’s Big Bash final.Credit:Getty Images

Brisbane Heat. Won the Women’s BBL for the second year in a row.

Matt Jones. Won the Australian Open for the second time.

Ange Postecoglou. Led Yokohama F. Marinos to J.League title

RIP George Mackinlay. Born and bred in Holbrook, George was a life member of Holbrook Football club being a player and coach, while also a stalwart of the Holbrook cricket club and netball club, and much loved PE teacher at Billabong High School at Culcairn. Taken too soon, from illness, at the age of just 58. The Herald sends its deepest condolences to his widow Julia and children Hamish, Greta, Freya and Ewan.

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