Sunday, January 26, 2003

Australia Day, Mad Max, and more Cricket

Today (Sunday) is January 26: Australia Day. The Prince Charles repertory cinema in London had an Australian films weekend to mark the occasion. They started out with a really old, scratchy print of Mad Max at midnight on Friday night. This is of course the film that made Mel Gibson famous in Australia, and I had never seen it on the big screen before. Very low budget, and sort of a punk comic strip western mixed in with a particularly Australian car culture. It's interesting that an Australian film with a tiny budget and relatively low production values could spawn sequels the way this one has. The fourth film is clearly intended to be a full scale Hollywood blockbuster, and even the third was clearly aimed as much at American than Australian audiences. (It also amazes me that such a low budget film grossed more money in cinemas in Australia than did the original Star Wars , but it did).

Anyway, Mad Max was a lead in to something else at the cinema, which was a digitally projected telecast of the second one day cricket final from Melbourne, digitally projected live on a big screen. I am not a great admirer of digital projection of movies at this point, simply because the resolution of digital projectors used in cinemas so far is much too low. The best digital projectors manage a resolution of 1280x1024, which is much lower than can be managed by conventional analogue film. (You cannot directly compare a digital medium with an analogue medium, so this is problematic, but conventional wisdom is that a conventional 35mm film has resolution somewhere around the 4000x2000 level). However, one advantage of digital projection is that cinemas can now be used to show all manner of live programming on the screen as well as movies. When the material being shown on a screen is standard definition television, which has a maximum resolution of 720x576, current projectors are more than adequate. And it is impressive just how good at showing television pictures current generation video projectors are. It was only a few years ago that video projectors provided extremely blurry images on medium sized screens in pubs. They are now crystal clear. The best ones use a technology called a "Digital Light Processor" instead of the old cathode ray tubes, and they are really good.

Thus I watched the whole cricket match, and my quick comments are that although England were much improved on the first game, they still couldn't finish Australia off. Australia got off to a bad start, but were always able to do enough to just stay in the match. Firstly there was that fine 71 not out from Brad Hogg to get Australia to a score (229) that could be defended. Then there was a fine opening bowling spell from Brett Lee. Then there was a few good overs from Hogg. Then there was Shane Warne, who though nowhere near full fitness, was still able to take the wickets of the two most dangerous English batsmen, Vaughan and Stewart. Then there was Brett Lee's final spell, in which he took three quick wickets to finish England off. (And also my compliments to Brad Williams for not conceding any boundaries of over 49. His job was to make sure that Lee had enough runs in hand to finish off in the 50th over what he had started in the 48th). England only had to prevent one of these things from happening to finish the task of pushing Australia out of the game. However, they couldn't do this. Australia didn't give up, and eventually this meant they were able to win. However, England really shouldn't have lost this game from the position they were in.

Plus we have an injury to Michael Bevan, which means he might miss the World Cup. This would be a major blow, as he is a key player. However, if he has to be replaced, what do you do. You can select Michael Clarke, and reward him for his fine performance on debut the other day. This is what most Australian newspapers seem to think what will happen. Or you can decide that Bevan needs to be replaced by another player of great experience. This means Steve Waugh. It is not likely to happen, but I do think it would increase Australia's chances of winning the tournament.

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