Monthly Archives: June 2019

  • Ashes begins in Brisbane


    After being given three months to deal with the disappointment of another Ashes series loss, Australia have another shot at revenge against England starting in Brisbane today.


    Australia is looking to protect an unbeaten record at the Gabba which dates back to 1986, while England is shooting for a fourth straight Ashes series triumph.

    Captain Michael Clarke and allrounder Shane Watson are generally thought to be carrying the weight of expectations on their shoulders this Test. 

    But according to cricketing legend Steve Waugh, Steve Smith is the key man for Australia this Ashes season.

    The tourists are sweating on the fitness of wicketkeeper Matt Prior, while Australia is yet to confirm spinner Nathan Lyon’s place in the side.

    Ian Bell’s series-defining performance during the last Ashes series is also looming front and centre as Australia plan for the England run-machine this time around.

    But until further notice, the best they can come up with is to be more patient.

    Australia have been open about plans to nick off Cook, bounce Trott and pitch up to Root.

    But their bowling tip-sheet on Bell for the first Test in Brisbane is a little less dynamic.

    The grand plan centres on beating the most stoic batsman in Test cricket at his finest strength.

    Australian allrounder Shane Watson also believes the Gabba bounce will offer a stern test of Bell’s technique.

    But if that doesn’t work, the home side are prepared to pop on the kettle, bring a good book and camp out for as long as it takes to bore a mistake out of England’s No.5.

    Bell scored 562 runs at 62.44, with a century in each of England’s three wins during the last series in the UK.

    Australia know they may need to play the waiting game before uncovering a weakness.

    “We just have to be more patient than him,” Watson said.

    “He is a very patient test batsman and knows his game very well. He has a very good defence.

    “We have to find ways to try and expose certain parts of his technique … but also we need to be more patient than he is. 

    That’s certainly where his game has developed and he has been very hard to dismiss.”

    Overall, however, Bell has experienced mixed fortunes against Australia, especially in his two trips down under where it took him 10 Tests to make a breakthrough hundred in Sydney in 2011.

    Leg-spin has proven a problem for Bell, with Shane Warne his earliest tormentor and Steve Smith dismissing him twice at Lord’s in July.

    Even 20-year-old Victorianlegspinner James Muirhead had Bell’s measure last week in a tour match.

    Test great Mark Waugh praised Bell as a better batsman than 100-Test man Kevin Pietersen, who he thought had really only excelled on flatter pitches.

    Watson said the famous Gabba bounce would also test out Bell’s text-book batting

    “Conditions are slightly different and that bit of bounce will test out his technique,” Watson said.

    “He has a very good defence. We have to find ways to try and expose certain parts of his technique and that will be a very good challenge for us.

    “He scored crucial runs (in the last series) when his team needed it.”

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  • France names suspect in Paris shootings


    France has named a man arrested over dramatic shootings in Paris this week as Abdelhakim Dekhar and said his DNA matched samples from the scene of the attacks.


    The suspect was arrested on Wednesday after a major manhunt following Monday’s shooting at left-wing newspaper Liberation, which critically wounded a photographer, and a subsequent shooting outside the offices of bank Societe Generale.

    France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday identified him as Dekhar, who was sentenced to four years in jail for his role in a Bonnie-and-Clyde style murder spree that gripped France in the 1990s.

    Valls praised Dekhar’s arrest, saying that “all the evidence today points to his involvement in the events that he has been charged with”.

    Dekhar was convicted in 1998 of buying a gun used in the 1994 shooting attacks by student Florence Rey and her lover Audry Maupin, in which three policemen and a taxi driver were killed.

    He was arrested around 7.00pm on Wednesday (0500 AEDT Thursday) in a vehicle in an underground parking lot in the northwestern Paris suburb of Bois-Colombes, the Paris prosecutors’ office said.

    Sources close to the investigation said he was found in a semi-conscious state, with one saying he may have taken an overdose.

    Prosecutors said the suspect was not immediately in a position to be questioned, but provided no explanation.

    Police sources said he had been taken to a Paris hospital and was under medical care.

    Police tested his DNA against samples taken at the sites of the various attacks, announcing early on Thursday that the samples matched.

    Earlier DNA tests confirmed that a single person was responsible for the series of attacks across Paris in the past week, including hijacking a car on the famed Champs Elysees and threatening staff at a 24-hour television station.

    The arrest came after a witness statement to police, who had on Tuesday released a new photograph of the man suspected in the attacks and received hundreds of calls from potential witnesses.

    A source close to the investigation said the witness who came forward had been a man who had housed the suspect.

    “He had said to him, talking about the shooter case: ‘I’ve made a stupid mistake’,” the source said.

    The man opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun at the offices of Liberation early on Monday, shooting a 23-year-old photographer’s assistant as he hauled gear in the lobby, then firing another blast that hit the roof before leaving within seconds.

    He then crossed the city to the La Defense business district on its western edge, where he fired several shots outside the main office of the Societe Generale bank, hitting no one.

    He hijacked a car and forced the driver to drop him off close to the Champs Elysees in the centre of the French capital, before disappearing.

    Police say he was the same man who on Friday stormed into the Paris headquarters of a 24-hour TV news channel, BFMTV, briefly threatening staff with a gun before hurrying out.

    His attacks set off a major manhunt and raised concerns about violence against media outlets.

    The photographer, who suffered wounds to the chest and stomach, was rushed to surgery and appeared to be in better condition on Wednesday.

    Hospital officials said he had regained consciousness and was no longer in need of an artificial respirator.

    The new photo of the suspect, taken by a surveillance camera, showed a white man, aged 35 to 45, with a round face and thin-framed glasses, wearing a red jacket and beige cap and carrying a black shoulder bag.

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  • Barca wary of ‘FIFA virus’ ahead of Granada visit


    In their two La Liga outings immediately following their players’ return from country duty this season, Barca needed a last-gasp Alexis Sanchez goal to scrape past Sevilla 3-2 in September and were held to a 0-0 draw at Osasuna last month, the only points they have dropped in 13 matches.


    Their task against eighth-placed Granada has been complicated by a rash of injuries to key performers, including World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, playmaker Xavi and goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

    Messi is unlikely to play again before mid-January, Xavi is a doubt for Saturday and Valdes, who has made a host of crucial saves this season, is out for around six weeks.

    “I am sad that I cannot help my team mates at the moment but it’s an injury that will heal normally and I will return next year full of desire to get going again,” Messi said in an interview with Marca sports daily published on Thursday.

    Coach Gerardo Martino will be looking to Brazil forward Neymar to shoulder some of the burden of scoring and creating goals in Messi’s absence, while Chile forward Alexis has been in fine form for club and country in recent weeks.

    Barca are three points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid, who host city rivals Getafe on Saturday (2100), after Real Madrid, a further three points back in third, play at promoted Almeria (1900).

    Real’s Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, La Liga’s top scorer with 16 goals, is on a high after his brilliant hat-trick against Sweden on Tuesday secured his country’s place at next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil.

    The 28-year-old is close to unstoppable on current form but Real coach Carlo Ancelotti also has injury problems to deal with, especially in defence.


    Ronaldo’s Portugal team mate Fabio Coentrao was hurt in the Sweden game, while fellow left back Marcelo has not played since damaging his knee in training on November 8 and is not due back for another couple of weeks.

    Ancelotti will also have to shuffle his midfield after regular starter Sami Khedira tore knee ligaments playing for Germany last week and has been ruled out for six months.

    Playmaker Isco, who started the season strongly but has faded in recent weeks, could come in to play behind Real’s formidable attacking trident of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and record signing Gareth Bale, Ancelotti said this week.

    Atletico have emerged as a genuine third force alongside wealthy Real and Barca, at least for the time being, but face a stiff test against Getafe, who have out-performed this term and are sixth.

    Atletico coach Diego Simeone, whose nickname is “Cholo”, has infected his players with the same fighting spirit he showed as a combative midfielder and Messi had warm words of praise for his Argentine compatriot in Marca.

    “Atletico is a very competitive team,” Messi said.

    “Some thought they wouldn’t be able to maintain the rhythm but carrying on from the end of last season they are still fighting on all fronts,” he added.

    “Cholo is doing great work.”

    Fourth-placed Villarreal, seven points adrift of Real, play at mid-table Levante Sunday (1100).

    (Editing by John O’Brien)

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  • Crows shut door on Tippett affair at draft


    Adelaide is looking forward to moving on after ending their AFL-imposed punishment over the Kurt Tippett affair at the national draft on Thursday night.


    For the second year in a row the Crows were forced to trade their way into the second round of the draft as part of sanctions imposed for breaching the salary cap.

    The Crows picked up midfield duo Matt Crouch and Riley Knight with picks 23 and 46 on the Gold Coast, a result that list manager David Noble was pleased with.

    The 2013 punishment came after the club voluntarily withdrew from the first two rounds at last year’s draft in a bid to lessen their punishment from the AFL.

    Noble admitted the two-year period had presented challenges to the club’s recruiting plans but overall he was happy with how the Crows were placed as they re-enter situation normal next year.

    “It was an awkward, difficult situation that we had to cope with but I think from what we’ve done in the last couple of years, it’s a tick for us from a club as to what we’ve had to work through,” Noble told AAP.

    “We’re pleased with how we’ve come out of it.

    “If you look at how we’ve re-contracted our talent in the last couple of years we’ve been pretty bullish about doing it early, maintaining that group through and adding into our coach development, our player development.

    “So some other elements have become crucial links into that retention element.”

    The other club forced to trade their way into the second round of the draft was Essendon, as the first of two years of sanctions following the supplements scandal.

    Bombers list manager Adrian Dodoro said the club’s plans had been thrown somewhat into chaos when the punishments were handed down in August.

    He viewed the capture of midfielder Zach Merrett with pick 26 as a win, but Dodoro was hopeful a bit more time to plan will lessen the impact of the punishments going into next year’s draft.

    “At least we’ve got 12 months, or more than 12 months to plan, which is a little bit different to this year,” he told AAP.

    “We got caught pretty late, so planning had already taken place.

    “It’s a long way out but at least you’ve got 12 months to do it, whereas this year we had a few weeks to get our house in order.

    “Got out of it okay in the end, good result, don’t forget Paul Chapman’s on board. It’s positive, we’re optimistic we’ll have a good year next year.”

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  • Groundhog day for Australia in Ashes


    Another series, another withering batting collapse for Australia.


    Day one of the first Test at the Gabba proved nothing much has changed.

    Following an all-too familiar script, it was left to the lower order to save Australia’s batsmen from utter embarrassment as the home side stumbled to 8-273 in the Ashes opener.

    Brad Haddin (78 not out) and Mitchell Johnson (64) mounted a salvage mission with a 114-run seventh wicket stand after Australia at one stage lost 5-61.

    But the rearguard action couldn’t mask the damage done.

    Led by their most maligned man, Stuart Broad (5-65), England cast aside a disrupted preparation to look every bit a side destined for a fourth consecutive Ashes triumph.

    The capitulation was eerily similar to collapses at Trent Bridge, Lord’s and Chester-le-Street earlier this year, but coach Darren Lehmann has pledged to pick and stick with his batting order this series.

    Of Broad’s five victims, none was more significant than Michael Clarke, who popped up a short ball for one just two overs after lunch.

    The England fast bowler has now had Clarke’s number for six of his past eight innings.

    “I saw the reaction from the players, how much it meant to the guys,” Broad said.

    “I wouldn’t say I have got a hold over him, his record’s obviously phenomenal how important a player he is for them.

    “The key was getting him in early enough with a hard enough ball to execute plans like that.”

    Clarke had no hesitation in winning the toss and electing to bat on a belting Gabba pitch, but optimism soon turned to disaster.

    It wasn’t hard to see why Australia haven’t won in nine Tests and England haven’t lost in 13.

    David Warner (49 from 82) showed intent from the first ball he faced from Broad, taking the fight to England early.

    But, after the early loss of Chris Rogers (1), the real turning point came on the stroke of lunch, when England’s villainous fast bowler fought back from a jeering crowd and Warner’s boundaries to dismiss Shane Watson and kick-start a devastating fightback.

    Australia quickly slumped from 1-71 to 6-132.

    Broad struck again when Warner spooned a catch to Kevin Pietersen; debutant George Bailey then lasting just 15 balls before edging James Anderson (2-61) behind for 3.

    Steven Smith’s (31) dismissal off the bowling of Chris Tremlett completed the middle order route.

    Johnson then came in and did what most of the batsmen couldn’t, mixing patience with aggression in an innings that featured six fours and two towering sixes, more than justifying his return to Ashes cricket.

    Haddin also showed his willingness to fight, combining with Johnson to save Australia from an unmitigated disaster.

    “We fought back very hard,” said Johnson.

    “(The collapse) isn’t frustrating. It’s an opportunity for us to score some runs. We don’t want to be in that situation too often but it’s good we can get ourselves out of those situations by putting on big partnerships.

    “We want to get 300-plus and we think that’s definitely a good score to have. It can play on opposition’s minds if you get over that 300 mark.”

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