After massive build-up across sixteen qualifying nations, the 2013 World Baseball Classic commences on Saturday, with Australia facing a stern challenge in a first-round pool that includes Korea, Netherlands and host nation Chinese Taipei......
UPDATE (from Australian Baseball Federation, 2 March):
Team Australia opens the World Baseball Classic Pool B on Saturday 2 March against Chinese Taipei. Here are the links for where you can follow your national team.
Live Online Broadcast for Foxtel or Austar Subscribers – Saturday 2 March, 3:30pm (ADST).
for Apple Products. In Australia the app will provide Live Play-by-Play via Gameday. Unfortunately we have been advised today that WBC and MLB Network have blocked the live game video outside of the US and Puerto Rico.
will air the game on delay at 9:00am (ADST) Sunday morning.
An unrivalled marquee event on the international baseball calendar, the World Baseball Classic has drawn sixteen teams from around the globe, split into four pools for a first round of matches before a Second Round and a Championship Round in San Francisco later in March.
While Australia has avoided double reigning champion Japan for the first round- along with other baseball superpowers in Cuba and United States - it faces a tough first-up round-robin assignment against three nations all rated higher by the International Baseball Federation.
Korea is currently ranked fourth, Chinese Taipei fifth and Netherlands seventh, with tenth-placed Australia yet to advance past the first round after previous appearances at the Classic in 2006 and 2009. At the 2009 event, it began in barnstorming fashion by beating up the Mexican team - with an avalanche of hits that included four home runs – and it lost by a run to Cuba before being eliminated in a return game against Mexico.
Even with the unavailability of Major Leaguer pitchers like Grant Balfour, Travis Blackley, Peter Moylan, Rich Thompson, Liam Hendricks and Josh Spence, Australia will field an experienced and well-credentialled squad that has already made its intentions clear with narrow losses to Cuba and Japan in trial games played during team preparation in Taiwan and Osaka.
“A critical element to our preparation has been the two exhibition matches we played against the Japan WBC team across last weekend,” Australian Baseball Federation CEO Brett Pickett reported from Taiwan today.
“While we suffered two tough losses, the team gained valuable practice game time and a great insight into a potential Round Two opponent,” he said.
“The team was treated exceptionally well as always by our hosts – Nippon Professional Baseball – and the players had a wonderful opportunity to play in front of massive crowds in a remarkable domed stadium.”
Now back in Taichung, Taiwan, the squad is preparing for its first World Baseball Classic game – against the home nation – on Saturday 2 March.
“The team is in good spirits and plays another game against a Taiwan University All-Star team on Wednesday night,” Pickett said. “A number of niggling injuries to some of the players has kept the team trainers busy, but everyone should be right to go by Game One.”
Victorian players – all with Melbourne Aces in the Australian Baseball League - will be right among the action as the national team gives its all in an attempt to get past the first round and enhance its already respected position on the world baseball stage.
Pitchers Adam Bright, Shane Lindsay and Andrew Russell are among the seven players selected from Victoria, with James Beresford and Brad Harman certain middle infielders, Josh Davies on board as an infield utility and Justin Huber expected to be used at first-base or as Designated Hitter.
Lindsay, Harman and Huber all have Major League experience, along with pitchers Chris Oxspring (NSW), Ryan Rowland-Smith (NSW) and Brad Thomas (NSW), infielder Luke Hughes (Western Australia) and outfielder Chris Snelling (NSW).
With his team suiting up against an array of outstanding baseball talent, Head Coach Jon Deeble is realistic about the magnitude of the task, while believing that his team has the pitching and the defence to keep it in the contest against any opponent.
Head Coach of the national team for over thirteen years, the astute Deeble guided Australia to a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics and is well qualified to understand the capabilities of his own players as they take on many of the world’s very best.
“We lost a lot of good arms, but I love the makeup of our club,” Deeble said after the first trial game against Japan.
“Our guys played perfect defence and we pitched great,” he said. “We out-defended them, we out-pitched them and we out-scouted them. The only place we didn’t win was on the scoreboard.”
“I’m very proud of the way our guys have been playing and have been preparing themselves. We can mix it with the best and it's time for us to step up and show the world what we've got".
To advance to the Second Round of the World Baseball Classic, Australia will need to finish in the first two of Pool B competition.
Our first game – against Taiwan – is a sellout that will be played at Taichung Stadium on Saturday 2 March.
The entire baseball world will be following the World Baseball Classic with interest. Along with widespread media and online coverage, Australian Baseball Federation will be providing daily reporting and news on our team’s progress.
For informal feedback from Head Coach Jon Deeble, check out the Aussie Baseball Forum.
ESPN will be bringing the World Baseball Classic live to Australia and New Zealand. The thirty nine games played in seven venues and four nations will be broadcast from Saturday 2 March through to Wednesday 20 March. ESPN SCHEDULE
Keep a look out for the all-new 2013 WBC App to be released soon, where you will be able to watch all games LIVE from your personal device!