Usman Khawaja confident of Boxing Day Test return

first_imgKhawaja has missed Australia’s past two Tests with a hamstring strain and must prove himself fit in Sydney Thunder’s Big Bash League clash with Melbourne Stars if he is to be included in the Test XI for Boxing Day at the MCG.He said he was confident of being ready to take on West Indies at the MCG from next Saturday and expected to know exactly where he stood following Sunday’s hit-out in Melbourne.”If there’s one thing that gets real sore after a T20 game, it’s my hamstring,” Khawaja said.”It’s going to be a test and I’m not going to go out there and nurse it in any way because I want to test it. I don’t want to go into the Boxing Day Test match not having that confidence.”I want to go out pretty hard.”In Khawaja’s absence, Shaun Marsh made the most of his opportunity in the first Test against West Indies in Hobart with 182, making him hard to displace.The Australian selectors are faced with a difficult choice between dropping Marsh or opener Joe Burns or excluding Khawaja.Khawaja was excellent in the opening two Tests of the summer against New Zealand, with two centuries, and said he would be happy slotting into any position in the top order.The 29-year-old said he could not guarantee he would not break down again but was comfortable with how his hamstring was feeling.”If I had any doubts, I wouldn’t go in but that’s not to say I’m not under risk,” Khawaja said.”There’s always a risk coming back from [hamstring] tears.”I’ve done everything I possibly can to get back to this point. I’m confident but I can’t predict the future.”AAPlast_img read more


Hunters tops Intrust Cup Ladder

first_imgThe super-impressive Round 3 performance saw Intrust cup teams shuffle back and forth on the ladder while the hunters climbed to the top.Burleigh Bears failed to maintain their win after topping the ladder for the last two weeks when East Tigers toppled them to fifth placing after round three.The top three teams on the ladder are Hunters with 6 points, Townsville Blackhawks also on 6 points but with added advantage the Hunters are on top because of the winning margin between Burleigh Bears and East Tigers.PNG Hunters: 6 ptsTownsville Blackhawks: 6 ptsEasts Tigers: 4 ptsCQ Capras: 4 ptsBurleigh Bears: 4ptsSunshine Coast Falcons: 4 ptsNorths Devils: 4 ptsRedcliffe Dolphins: 2 ptsNorthern Pride: 2 ptsIpswich Jets: 2ptsTweed Heads Seagulls: 2 ptsSouths Logan Magpies: 2 ptsMackay Cutters: 0 pts Wynnum Manly Seagulls: 0 ptslast_img read more


Pakistan named number one Test team for first time

first_imgThe team – who have replaced India at the top – have not played a Test at home in six years for security reasons.Pakistan, who drew their recent Test series against England, are the fifth team to top the rankings.”For us, the number one ranking is not a destination but part of a journey,” captain Misbah-ul-Haq said.Pakistan were named the number one side after the Test between India and the West Indies at the Port of Spain was abandoned.India are second in the rankings with 110 points, while England and Australia are in joint third place on 108 points.last_img read more


Dramatic win in Dambulla for Aussie captain Warner

first_imgIt’s loud, with people cutting holes in the fence to get in at the corner of the ground where there are banks for standing.During his countless skirmishes with authority did Australia’s newest leader imagine this would be his fate? It is now. Nerves? Good luck telling with a bloke who bills by the hour in bravado.He calls heads, it falls tail. They’ll bowl, despite his acknowledged wish to do otherwise. “Looks a nice wicket,” Warner concedes.This is Dave’s Day One: how it happened, as it happened.3pm – Sri Lanka 2-42, 6 overs: Tillakaratne Dilshan 14, Dinesh Chandimal 15Fast, full and straight. Stumps pegged back. Mitchell Starc’s first over party trick really isn’t a bad one, nursing Warner nicely into this captaincy caper. Take a load off, Danushka Gunathalika.As much as this is Warner’s day, it’s also Tillakaratne Dilshan’s, this the 330th and final time he will walk out in a Sri Lankan ODI. To give a sense of the 39-year-old’s longevity, he debuted for Sri Lanka when the Millennium Bug was still a real and present danger.His presence gets the crowd going, now climbing trees in the outer in a throwback to simpler times. More by the moment as Dilshan dispatches a Starc half-volley then takes a ball from well outside off-stump to the rope on the other side of the ground as a reminder that convention has never been his thing.Meanwhile, Hazlewood’s return to favour earned Warner’s men a reward eight deliveries into his day. The bustling Bendemeer boy drew Kusal Mendis forward and prodding, the captain doing the rest at second slip.Arguably the most important local wicket. So far so good, even if new man Dinesh Chandimal’s driving looks on point.4pm – Sri Lanka 3-96, 19 overs: Dinesh Chandimal 36, Angelo Mathews 0A captain’s dream, John Hastings. Almost a year since his most unlikely return to international cricket, he’s back to toil on a belter of a track – what he does best. A maiden first up, and two from his second over, completely stunting any flow Dilshan and Chandimal built in their productive Starc counterattack.James Faulkner helped – only one boundary in the final four overs of the power play. The game is just where Warner needs before the accumulation phase: slow.Hastings and Faulkner’s initial four over forays conceding nine and 14 respectively preceded the introduction of Adam Zampa. His also-frugal beginning encouraged the incorrigible, Dilshan, following up an effective sweep with a nonsense chip to midwicket. After 10,920 runs, there would be no more with a 360-degree goodbye to the adoring fans.5pm – Sri Lanka 5-143, 32 overs: Dinesh Chandimal 62, Kusal Perera 5Zampa’d. That’s what Angelo Matthews was. He was Zampa’d. Handy to have a trademark with fewer than nine months’ international experience, but this is what it is to be trapped by the wrist spinner by a straight one colliding with leg stump via your pad. Usually after a DRS referral.Scoring just one, the Sri Lankan skipper had failed. The advantage to his counterpart should have been augmented when the reintroduction of Hazlewood brought another high-on-the-bat edge. It wouldn’t be: Warner grassing the straight-forward chance off Chandimal. It all went down when he was on 41. Might hear about that again? Feels that way; he’s beyond 50 now for the sixth time in his last seven starts.At least his seamers are doing the job. Nicely rotated to let Zampa at it from one end, short burts from Starc then Faulkner then Hastings are all effective, the locals now well behind the game. When Dhananjaya De Silva holed out, 30 had been added in 54 balls for the fourth wicket. They’re languishing.6:20pm: Sri Lanka all out 226, 49.2 oversStarc back: his in-swinging yorker again hits stumps, this time Kusal Perera’s. Rinse and repeat. The auxiliary quicks Hastings and Hazlewood continued to be tidy as a hotel bed, the former into the book when Thisara tried to slog his simple slower ball. Loved it too, the triumphant bowler.For all this middle-overs graft happy hour is never fun for the captain between sums and field tweaks and general chaos. But when Zampa came back and immediately had Seekkuge Prasanna out slapping as well, maybe they could shift them before 200?That would require shifting Chandimal first. The man Warner dropped continued his shrewd accumulation while Dilruwan Perera took on the attack. Warner had a chance to end the stand, missing a run out opportunity with three stumps to aim at, the target now beyond 200.Finally, the last of the three Perera’s gone when Hastings had him swatting to midwicket, the skipper again in the game with the catch, the quick finishing with orderly figures of 2 for 42.A Chandimal single to deep cover brings up his ton. He had a chance, sure. But integral in getting the hosts to a credible total. He finally packed it in without adding to the century, Australia’s death-over specialist Faulkner collecting the last, 2 for 44 his fine afternoon.All told, just about the perfect bowling performance to dine on with the best of them Zampa, claiming another 3-for, conceding only 38. He has skills.8pm – Australia 3-83, 17 overs (Bailey 19, Head 21)Amila Aponso hadn’t been hit for boundary of any variety in his only two ODIs to date, pocketing a man of the match in Colombo as well. Aaron Finch’s response? Hitting him over the cover rope first ball he bowled. That’s intent to match a solid start.But then… oh how Warner may rue that cut that wasn’t quite, caught at point, dismissed by his opposing number Mathews for 10. Dilshan with the snaffle – would it be right him for him end up a winner tonight, the retiring champion?That romantic narrative is helped by Finch, who won the first Aponso battle but comprehensively lost the war within a quarter hour, the second to fall when trapped LBW on 30. And Shaun Marsh. He may not always get out early, but when he does it sure looks awful with the catch he gifted to mid off defying a man of his talent through that region.So Bailey to do the tidy up work from three-for-not-enough again, then. This time with Travis Head, elevated to the top five and off his training wheels; he has expectations on him tonight. And he looks up for it with a cut shot reminiscent his coach Darren Lehmann.9pm – Australia 4-165, 33 overs (Bailey 54, Wade 27)Bailey and Head, Head and Bailey. A 50 stand, then the youngun’s highest international score when smashing Thisara Perera through midwicket. But when bowled on the back foot cutting at spin in the way the Test side learned the hard way that you can’t in these conditions, he was gone for 36 when 56 or 76 was needed to guarantee a win. Even so, another innings of some presence. More, please.Bailey and Wade, Wade and Bailey. The two from the stoic stand on Wednesday. Boundaries to each; Bailey’s reversing Aponso, Wade dancing Perera of the off-spinning variety. A review denied to save Wade, another reverse sweep from Bailey, then a cut to bring up his own 50. That should do it, from the guy who used to stand in as captain. Easy from here. Right?10:04pm – Australia win by two wickets with 24 balls to spareNothing is ever easy, you fool. Wade had been a stumping candidate throughout, and missing a sweep he was finished for 42. Very handy runs, and another step in the right direction.But platitudes are forgotten when Bailey from nowhere let’s one skip through off his pad onto his off stump on 70. A vital 70. The defining innings of the match, assuming they don’t mess it up. Four balls later, though? A filthy holing out from the guy who is meant to eat up these chases for dinner, James Faulkner. Uh oh.Balls left no longer the issue, 21 to get with three wickets in hand is the only equation. But all bowlers. Thankfully one is Starc, who long-handles over the long on boundary. Then the next over picks out the same spot, albeit on the bounce this time. Home now, yeah? Not that quick. Next ball, he is caught at that identical long on position. Here we go…Blimey, Adam. Zampa is deep in the crease and cutting off his stumps, but gets enough wood on a ball that otherwise would certainly have bowled him. The result was secured, even if the same player was dropped when the scores were level, appropriately enough. Phew.”To be brutally honest, we should have won that five wickets down,” said Warner when it was all over, reflecting on the 2-1 lead his side take into the final pair of rubbers. He may be new, but he’s spot on. With this bloke in charge, it will always be worth watching.last_img read more


Rio Paralympics a stepping stone for Pacific nations

first_imgRNZ reports Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea each had two athletes in Brazil, with a number managing to set season best, or personal best, milestones.Fijian table tennis player Mere Rodan may have lost her two singles matches but President of the Oceania Paralympic Committee, Paul Bird, said just by competing the 48-year-old created history.”That’s the first that’s happened in our Oceania group to get someone outside of athletics and power-lifting through, so that has been an outstanding effort from Fiji to a fledgling program, that we’ve only just started over the last 18 months to two years,” he said.”That bodes well for our future and we’re trying to develop table tennis as well as badminton in our smaller developing countries because badminton is a new sport for (the 2020 Paralympics in) Tokyo and we are trying to look at sports that take little equipment, little infrastructure but maximise opportunities.”Mr Bird was also encouraged by the potential of Samoan discus duo Alefosio Laki and Maggie Aiono, who are just 19 and 26-years-old.”Young Sio, he qualified in his own right as a thrower and we had Maggie – she really is someone to look to the future. If we can keep them both into training they showed tremendous potential,” he said.”I think (they) probably would have gone home maybe disappointed with their performance but first time on a big stage and they showed great potential and have got the opportunity, if they’re looked after and if we can maintain their interest and particularly their training and opportunity over the next four years, they should go well so that was a bright light.”Vanuatu and Solomon Islands did not compete in Rio but Mr Bird said planning towards the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo had already begun.”It’s a pretty big ask for them to come to a stage like this and perform, so we are trying to change that by running talent ID programs now, we’re trying to target athletes, get them into a local programme, provide opportunities for qualification and then try to continue them on,” he said.”It’s a challenge because in a lot of cases the funding isn’t there and, where we can we’re trying to put them into mainstream programmes in those countries – now we do that well in Australia and New Zealand, but it is a struggle in other Oceania countries and that’s our challenge.”This year Vanuatu made the decision they felt they did not have an athlete ready to take a wildcard so they rejected the wildcard – they felt it was more important to develop at the grassroots level … it’s a pity they didn’t at least have maybe their developing athlete there to experience and understand what it’s about.”We would expect that out of all the six countries, plus Kiribati which will become a new National Paralympic Committee for us in November, we will have seven NPC’s that will be represented in Tokyo.Four of the eight Pacific athletes qualified directly for Rio and Paul Bird said Oceania hopes to lift that number and rely less on wildcard entries going forward.last_img read more


Buluminski cycling event set for Easter weekend

first_imgThe event is organised by the Lihir Triathlon Club and includes distances of 69km on Day one, 96km on Day two and 98km Day three.The Buluminski Highway is sealed all the way except for a section of 28km after the first 41km.Day one event on Thursday, April 13 is a mixture of dirt and sealed road.Day two scheduled on Friday, April 14 will see participants cycle on a 96km sealed road.The final day on Saturday, April 15 participants will also cycle on a 98km sealed road.Participants will have an additional one day competition on Monday, April 17 which includes a 1km/2km ocean swim.The event will be promoting awareness for the violence against women program “Trupla man trupla meri”.About 30 participants are confirmed so far for the event including four from Newcrest in Lihir, five from Cairns Queensland and 21 from the New Ireland Cycling Club.The organisers confirmed that some of the junior triathletes from the New Ireland Triathlon Academy will hopefully be participating on the last day along with the Kavieng police on their recently purchased bikes.Participants are reminded that the event is a relaxed PNG style event.Organisers urge participants to be responsibility for their own food, accommodation, safety and transport and there will be support vehicles that can be utilised on notice.Accommodation options in Kavieng include Nusa Resort, Kavieng Hotel, Malagan Lodge, Transit Haus and other smaller guesthouses.last_img read more


PNG go down to NZ in stoppage time

first_imgOver 1,000 spectators turned up to watch the semi-final at Stade Mahina in a nail-biter that finished with Oliver Whyte breaking PNG hearts by scoring in the 94th minute of play to win 2-1.New Zealand were one up in the third minute when PNG’s Aben Pukue attempted to clear a cross but found the back of his own net.But PNG equalised through Barthy Kerobin to end the first half with the score at 1-1.Both sides were neck and neck in the second half and the match looked certain to end in a draw.But Whyte booted the winning goal after charging into the penalty box to break the deadlock and send New Zealand to the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup.In the other semi-final, New Caledonia defeated Solomon Islands 3-2.New Zealand will now meet New Caledonia in the final of the OFC U-17 Championship. Both countries have now qualified for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.last_img read more


England have potential for much more, says Southgate

first_imgEngland manager Gareth Southgate believes his team are “nowhere near” the level they will be capable of reaching in the future, he said ahead of the World Cup semi-final against Croatia.Southgate said that although England had made history in the manner in which they had progressed to the last four, there was the potential for much more.“We have to keep improving as a team, this team is nowhere near the level they are going to be capable of, partly because of their age and partly because over the next few years with us and with their clubs, they are going to have more and more big match experience,” he said“We are excited about the future but also we want to make the most of the opportunity we have on Wednesday as well.”Southgate said England’s dramatic improvement since Euro 2016, which ended with a humiliating defeat by Iceland in the last 16, was down to the FA’s backing.“We’ve got good support for the players and we’ve planned really well, watching hundreds of matches and learning as much as we possibly can and we are starting to see through the age groups some success because of that,” he said,England have reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1990.“We ere enjoying the journey, we came here to enjoy our football,” Southgate said.“We have been one of the youngest teams in the tournament and least experienced in the tournament and we were never quite sure how far this team go. The hunger of players has been there for everyone to see, we are proud of the style they have played.“We have won a game in stoppage-time, we have had to recover from conceding in the last minute, we have been through extra time, we have won on penalties, we have made several pieces of history — the biggest win, the first knockout win for 10 years, the first quarter-final win for longer…..We are looking to keep breaking those barriers down.”Southgate acknowledged that the team may have helped bring the country together in a time of political crisis.“Our country has been though some difficult moments in terms of unity and sport has the power to do that, and football in particular,” he said.“We can feel the energy form home and that is a privilege for us.”last_img read more


Del Potro backs Djokovic to become most successful man

first_imgJuan Martin del Potro believes Novak Djokovic could eventually overtake Roger Federer to become the most successful male player in grand slam history.Djokovic defeated Del Potro at the US Open to win his 14th title, putting him level with Pete Sampras, three behind Rafael Nadal and six adrift of Federer.But Djokovic is nearly six years younger than Federer and – prior to a two-year barren spell that was ended by his Wimbledon triumph – had been winning slams at an average of nearly two a season.Asked if he can catch Federer, Del Potro said: “Of course he can. He has 14 already. He won two grand slams in one year. He’s healthy. He has a great team working with him.“Hopefully him, Rafa, Roger are still fighting for grand slams, because it is so nice to watch them fighting for history. We just do what we can against them. But Novak has everything to make records in this sport.”Del Potro was back in a grand slam final for the first time since defeating Federer to win at Flushing Meadows nine years ago.Even taking into account all his wrist injury problems, he is certainly one of the players who would have been a multiple slam winner in another era.Between them, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have won 47 of the last 55 slam titles, but Del Potro has no regrets, saying: “It is a big challenge to take these kind of tournaments from them. But also I think we are proud to be close to these legends.“I’ve been – during all my career – learning with Novak, Roger, Rafa, seeing them winning these events very often. It’s amazing. I don’t feel sad that I couldn’t win grand slams because of them. I am just one of the guys that is lucky to be in the same era as them.”For Djokovic, this has been a triumphant summer after his difficulties of the past two years and the low of elbow surgery in February. Returning the following month he lost back-to-back matches to Taro Daniel and Benoit Paire and his ranking dropped as low as 22.Now he is back up to three and within striking distance of Nadal in the race to finish the season ranked world number one.Djokovic said: “If you told me in February this year when I got the surgery that I’ll win Wimbledon, US Open, and Cincinnati (becoming the first man to win all the Masters titles), it would be hard to believe.“But, at the same time, there was always part of me that imagined and believed and hoped that I can get back to the desired level of tennis very soon.“I expected, to be quite frank, after surgery that I’ll be back on a high level quite fast. But it took me actually three, four months. In that process, I learned a lot about myself, learned to be patient, which was never really a stronger side of me.“I try to keep my both feet on the ground. I love this sport. As long as there is that flair in me, I really will keep on going. I still feel it. I still have a lot of passion. I think more than passion, it’s just the will to work and to be dedicated every day.”For Del Potro, the good news is he is playing without problems in his wrist and at a level good enough to put him alongside the three all-time greats in the world’s top four.He cried for a long time after the match and admitted it will be difficult to get over.He said: “I think I did a good tournament, but this is a tough loss for me. I’m really sad to lose the final in this tournament because I had too much passion playing the final, trying to win the title again.“I think it’s time to take a break, to see how my body feels for the future, and then be ready for the next one.”last_img read more


UEFA tells refs to caution players who make VAR gestures

first_imgPlayers who make a television-screen gesture with their hands to appeal for a video replay in UEFA competitions will be shown a yellow card, European football’s governing body has confirmed.Like the Premier League, UEFA has delayed the introduction of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) but has now committed to using them from this month’s knock-out round of the Champions League, the Europa League final, this summer’s Nations League finals and Euro 2020.Having seen the system being used in leagues throughout Europe and at last summer’s World Cup in Russia, UEFA wants its use of VAR to be more consistent and less intrusive, with the final say left with the referee on the pitch.In a media briefing ahead of Thursday’s UEFA Congress, the confederation’s referees chief Roberto Rosetti explained that maintaining the referee’s authority was a key part of that, which is why he wants a crackdown on players appealing for VAR.“Any player who shows shape of the TV screen needs to be cautioned,” said Rosetti.“And if they surround the referee, there must be disciplinary intervention. We want action in these situations.”To illustrate this point, Rosetti showed a video of England defender Harry Maguire clearly gesturing for a video replay after Jordan Henderson was headbutted by a Colombian during the heated last-16 game in Russia.The 51-year-old Italian also explained that UEFA wants to use VAR more sparingly.“We don’t want to re-referee the match and destroy the spirit of football with three or four interruptions every match,” he said.“There must be clear images for clear interventions.”Futhermore, Rosetti wants referees to check all judgement calls on the pitch-side monitor, as opposed to simply taking the VAR’s opinion on the matter.“VAR has to be an insurance, a parachute for the referee,” he said.last_img read more