AFL finals series should revert to longer quarters to ensure legitimate battle for glory
The AFL has done a marvellous job to complete the 153 regular-season games, but its decision to maintain shorter quarters for the finals series does not stand up to scrutiny.
This is a unique season that has been compromised enough by necessity. I didn't agree with the decision to reduce quarters to 16 minutes and time-on earlier this year but understand now why it had to happen.
Players and coaches are drained after the fixture was compressed to complete the season and under normal circumstances, there would be no change to the length of games for finals.
But the eight clubs to qualify for the finals will start on a level-playing field after enjoying a reasonable break, so the AFL's position for retaining shorter quarters to maintain "the fairness of the competition" is nonsensical.
The nine finals are marquee events attracting plenty of extra eyeballs. As host broadcaster, the Seven Network would be pleased about the resumption of 20-minute plus time-on quarters. That would provide added content and the prospect of higher scores - more goals mean more advertisements.
Clubs' depth, endurance and mental toughness would be more severely tested with longer terms, making it a more legitimate battle for ultimate glory. Longer quarters would suit some teams more than others, but the best side always prevails.
Angst for delusional Dons
Eight clubs are out of finals contention and searching for improvement, but it is clear Essendon has massive issues to resolve in the post-season after another wasted year.
The Bombers have won only one of their past nine games and the supporter backlash is growing. Maybe they and the club's hierarchy are delusional and have overrated the capabilities of the playing list.
Senior coach John Worsfold will hand over the reins officially to Ben Rutten next season, but the Bombers are yet to demonstrate that they are totally on board with Rutten's new game plan.
The Dons have lost homesick defender Conor McKenna, who will return to Ireland, and dashing half-back Adam Saad remains out of contract.
But the biggest question this off-season again will revolve around the enigmatic and injury-prone Joe Daniher, who wanted to leave at the end of last year. Daniher, who becomes a restricted free agent this year, is a pale imitation of the key forward who won All-Australian selection in 2017.
Shaun Burgoyne deserves to become only the fifth man to play 400 AFL/VFL games and, thankfully, Hawthorn has given him that opportunity by offering the veteran a new one-year deal.
Burgoyne, who will be 38 at the start of next season, will also take on a role within the club as a part-time Indigenous adviser.
The four-time premiership star, who sits on 388 games with Port Adelaide and Hawthorn, has struggled to recapture the form that earned him the nickname 'Silk', but the utility's experience will be invaluable for younger teammates.
Carlton also faces a tough call on veteran Eddie Betts. Despite an ordinary second half of the season with only three goals in his past eight games, the Blues are likely to offer Betts, 33, a similar deal to Burgoyne.
TV deal vital
Cricket's imbroglio with its host broadcaster is casting a shadow over the 2020-21 season and the game's administrators must resolve the issue quickly and amicably.
Just as the AFL and NRL were forced to agree to reduced new deals earlier this year, Cricket Australia has to accept the rapidly-evolving marketplace will require a commonsense approach to maintain the crucial free-to-air TV coverage.
The Seven Network and Fox Sports are well within their rights in demanding the best players turn out for all competitions, including the Big Bash League.
The BBL, whose ratings and crowds dropped last season, is likely to be a diminished product this season because of several factors, primarily the unavailability of star players due to the introduction of hubs.
The networks' revenues have shrunk dramatically since the $1.2 billion, six-year deal was signed in 2018 with the pandemic accelerating the decline.
While the football codes can guarantee their fixtures will proceed rain, hail or shine, cricket cannot provide the struggling broadcasters with such certainty. Not every test in Australia lasts the full five days, often leading to a shortfall of content and advertising dollars.
Question of the week
Ashley Small, of Caulfield, Victoria, asks:How would the late Lou Richards understand the modern game with the new terminology from the commentary box in the past few years?
I don't think Lou could get his head around ball-ups or throw-ins being referred to as stoppages. In his day, there were followers and utilities, now there are swingmen, inside and outside mids. Forward pockets and half-forwards are small or medium forwards, there are quarterbacks in the back half and the list goes on. My pet hate is "dee-fence" or offence, terms taken straight from basketball.
While on commentators, I've got some advice for Bruce, 'BT', 'Darc', 'Dwayno', 'Hammer' et al at Seven and Fox Footy: Cut the crap, just call the game and ensure your player identification is accurate.
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- Supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.