Anyone who doubts how tough it is to be a 12th man for a Test match should spare a thought for Queensland swing bowler Michael Neser.
He missed a bowlers paradise as his state teammates wiped out the Tasmanian Sheffield Shield side on the weekend.
While James Pattinson and Cameron Bancroft were released to their respective states for Shield duty over the weekend, Neser was left to carry the drinks for the Australian team.
Tim Paine was effusive in his praise for Neser before the second Test, knowing that as 12th man he had a good handle on the South Australian conditions as a member of the Adelaide Strikers Big Bash League squad.
“I don’t think Nes (Neser) will be batting in our top six (as a concussion substitute),” Paine told cricket.com.au.
“But he is a real handful with a pink ball and if something was to happen (to one of our bowlers), we will know Nes will do a great job.”
Still, it’s not all rosy.
As 12th man you spend a lot of time cooling your heels and – as this video from Melbourne cricket fan Jason Parsonage shows – quite often you are left as the spare wheel.
Parsonage was on hand when the players took the field for day one, with this footage showing poor old ‘Nes’ was embarrassingly the only player left without a kid to escort onto the field.
Parsonage is the son of a venerable former Melbourne newspaper editor Bob Parsonage, who has maintained an annual pilgrimage, established by The Age newspaper sub-editors, to SA for the Adelaide Test.
Indeed Parsonage Sr is renowned in media circles for his 1979 Walkley Award-winning headline that detailed how the famously pink-uniformed West Indies team won a match against Australia by blasting a winning score before the heavens opened.
That headline: ‘Pink bats beat the weather’.
Needless to say, Bobby’s no 12th man.
Weathering the storm
One thing the Adelaide Test rarely sees is rain … indeed the match is usually one of the hottest Test fixtures played in the Australian summer, even though it’s usually in early December.
Given the usually hot conditions the city was a perfect choice for a day-night Test, but the cool conditions and rain that hit this week was not part of the plan.
Commentators spent much of the weekend marvelling over the fact that players were wearing jumpers and that Adelaide had inexplicably turned on Melbourne wet weather.
With New Zealand finally getting a chance to play at the MCG on Boxing Day for the first time since 1987, the Black Caps will be hoping that Adelaide’s poor showing is a good omen and Melbourne gets more than a fair share of sunshine.
“Every second Kiwi you bump into says they’re going to be in Melbourne on Boxing Day,” NZ cricket boss David White told AAP on Monday.
The long-range forecast – for those who dabble in this witchcraft – suggests a fine 22 degrees on Boxing Day.
Coach’s Darwin mission to speak to Rioli
With most AFL clubs back in training, West Coast coach Adam Simpson has revealed he recently visited Darwin to speak with banned small forward Willie Rioli, but is no closer to knowing when his doping infraction case will be heard.
Rioli is facing a ban of up to four years after allegedly tampering with his urine sample in August during a routine drug test.
The 24-year-old tested positive a few weeks later to cannabis, but it’s alleged he poured a substance other than urine into his tube in the first test.
Rioli was provisionally banned just two days before West Coast’s semi-final loss to Geelong and has since spent time with family in Darwin and the Tiwi Islands to try to escape the spotlight.
“I went and saw Willie up in Darwin a couple of weeks ago, to see how he is,” Simpson told AAP.
“I haven’t seen him since the Wednesday of the Geelong game.
“I got to catch up and see more of his family and see how he’s travelling, so he’s going OK. But nothing much has changed in the last couple of months.”
Rioli has spent time training with St Mary’s Football Club in Darwin in a bid to stay fit, but with no timeline yet on his case the Eagles are not holding their breath for a 2020 return.
I have a meme …
There have been times in the formula one paddock when Daniel Ricciardo has appeared to have an apprentice in mischief with McLaren rookie Lando Norris.
There was no better example of how well Ricciardo has trained the youngster in 2019 than Norris’s exchange with McLaren Performance Engineer Andrew Jarvis after the season-finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Sport Thought …
‘‘Playing through injury just to satisfy fans can only worsen his back and hurt his confidence if he’s playing poorly in front of home crowds. He needs to spend time rehabilitating his back for next year.’’
– Golf commentator Ian Baker-Finch says Jason Day’s chronic back injuries are a huge concern and it’s time for the 32-year-old to rest and get it right.