FOXSPORTS.com.au | Cricket

Nov 202016
 

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA — NOVEMBER 20: Interim Chairman of Selectors Trevor Hohns speaks to the media during a Cricket Australia press conference at Adelaide Oval on November 20, 2016 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA — NOVEMBER 20: Interim Chairman of Selectors Trevor Hohns speaks to the media during a Cricket Australia press conference at Adelaide Oval on November 20, 2016 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

TREVOR Hohns has pleaded for a restless cricketing public to show patience, as selectors took drastic measures to try and restore Australia’s credibility as a Test nation.

However, that call for calm doesn’t mean the six new faces in the dressing room are guaranteed an extended stay in the baggy green, with futures to be re-evaluated ahead of the next Test series against Pakistan in December.

Nic Maddinson, Peter Handscomb and Matt Renshaw are set for a baptism of fire in the third Test against South Africa in Adelaide, and if Chadd Sayers can oust Jackson Bird for a final fast bowling spot it will mark the first time Australia has fielded four debutants in a match since the 1970s.

Interim Chairman of Selectors Trevor Hohns has pleaded for patience.Interim Chairman of Selectors Trevor Hohns has pleaded for patience.Source: News Corp Australia

To wield the axe more viciously than it has for well over a century, Australia has taken one of cricket’s greatest ever gambles in a bid to rescue itself from a summer of shame.

Callum Ferguson and Joe Mennie have been shown the door after just one Test, but selectors determined in a meeting in Adelaide on Saturday night that a crisis was not the time for traditional thinking to apply.

David Warner is now the eldest in the squad at just 30 years and 24 days, and the almost unprecedented overhaul in personnel is virtually an admission that selectors had been doing it all wrong before.

Hohns started his press conference with an address to the cricketing public of Australia to implore that such a radical and fluid strategy could take some time to bear fruit.

“Obviously the past few days have been very challenging and important for cricket in this country, since the surprise resignation of Rod Marsh,” said Hohns.

“This panel with the support of our administrators decided to revamp our team taking into account form, ability and or potential to perform at Test level.

“We see this as a very exciting challenge for everybody concerned.

“I’m not for one minute going to suggest an immediate turnaround. Patience will be required but we are obviously hopeful that these players can gel together and ultimately stop the downward losing momentum we are currently experiencing.

“We accept that a lot of the criticism that has come our way has been warranted, however, I ask that everybody takes a deep breath and gives this new team a bit of space.

“We need everyone to get behind these blokes.”

The polarising reaction to selections on social media yesterday suggests Australia’s rocky road is far from over.

Peter Nevill’s dumping for Matthew Wade as wicketkeeper split opinion, while Maddinson’s first class average of 38 was also brought into question.

Debutants Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson are both expected to make their Test debuts.Debutants Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson are both expected to make their Test debuts.Source: News Corp Australia

Looking at the middling numbers across the board in Shield cricket, selectors were right to pick this side largely on “instinct”.

However, just because Australia has invested in youth doesn’t mean the panel will be tying themselves to any individual selection for the long haul.

Hohns wants to see evidence that batsmen are hungry before any assurances are given.

“It’s not about how much time,” said Hohns.

“What we would like to see now is a better performance.

“If this group can give us a better performance, that will hold them in good stead going forward.

“At the moment this team is for the Adelaide Test. Then we go into one dayers, a different format, then we come back again and reselect for the Test matches against Pakistan.

Matthew Wade will play his first Test since 2013.Matthew Wade will play his first Test since 2013.Source: Getty Images

“All we can do is give people the opportunity, and it really is up to them to take it.

“What that period of time is, is completely up to us and at our discretion.”

The last time Australia had six changes from one Test to the next was during the Civil War of 1884-85, although in 1984 there were six changes made from one series to the next.

Joe Burns, Mennie, Nevill and Ferguson were all axed, Adam Voges and Mitchell Marsh weren’t considered due to injury, while Nathan Lyon likely would have been tossed out too if rival spinner Steve O’Keefe hadn’t succumbed to a calf injury.

Selectors were after youth and toughness and rewarded newcomers Handscomb and Renshaw on form after they smashed double hundreds and hundreds respectively in the Sheffield Shield round.

SMASH: Why Maddinson got the nod

MONGREL: Wade to return to Test cricket

Hohns believes that this embarrassing series loss to South Africa might prove a turning point for Australian cricket.

“I’m not so sure it’s a bad crisis,” he said.

“As I suggested, it wasn’t long ago we were number one in the world.

“Things haven’t gone our way, no excuses — we haven’t played well.

“A lot of countries go through this, I have no doubt.

“We’ve got to try to get on the upward spiral if we possibly can.

“We’ve put a lot of faith in these players now, everything is there provided for them to improve their game and continue to hopefully perform well.”

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Nov 202016
 
Too small? Too slow? Chadd won’t be denied

TOO small. Too slow. Won’t make it as a Test bowler.

South Australian swing bowler Chadd Sayers has felt the knocks year after year and that only made his selection in Australia’s Test squad for Adelaide all the sweeter.

Chalk it up as a victory for subtle, old fashioned skills over speed, with his 125kmh wobblers earning him a deserved call-up and a possible debut.

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People in high places have told Sayers he lacked the pace to be a Test bowler as Australia consistency searched for high voltage performers in the 140kmh range, which was always going to be well beyond his limitations.

He responded by not changing a thing; partially because he couldn’t and also because he was filling his bag with wickets.

With 188 first-class wickets at an average of around 24, many of them taken at often batsman-friendly Adelaide, his record demanded more respect than he has usually been given.

Chadd Sayers celebrates the wicket of Joe Burns.Chadd Sayers celebrates the wicket of Joe Burns.Source: Getty ImagesChadd Sayers in action for South Australia.Chadd Sayers in action for South Australia.Source: Getty Images

“I am never going to be a bloke who would blast batsmen out,’’ Sayers said at the Gabba after being South Australia’s last man out in their loss to Queensland. He had fought hard to deny Queensland a victory but was bowled two overs from stumps.

“If I changed what I was doing I would not be as good a bowler as I am today.

“I guess when you are taking wickets and are told you are not quick enough you tend to think ‘why not?’ but if I get the opportunity I am not going to change anything. I will keep doing what I have done to get me this far.’’

While he is often compared to Ashes champion Terry Alderman, Sayers said Ryan Harris was an inspiring force.

“I was in the Redbacks squad with Ryan and was very impressed with the way he went about things so I have taken a bit out of his game.

“The pink ball is supposed to swing around more at night so hopefully I can get it in my hand and get it to swing and get some wickets.

“The pink ball has come a long way since it first came out. My bowling in general just makes batsmen play and if it is swinging and nipping around it makes it tougher for them.’’

Test call-ups Matt Renshaw and Chadd Sayers.Test call-ups Matt Renshaw and Chadd Sayers.Source: Getty Images

Oct 132016
 
Get Ponting as chairman, says Chappelli

CRICKET Australia has been urged to chase Ricky Ponting as their new chairman of selectors when Rod Marsh stands aside next year.

Marsh’s decision to walk away was made long before Australia’s recent embarrassments in South Africa and Sri Lanka, however, those results suggest one way or another a big change was needed.

According to Mark Taylor, as many as six members of the Australian Test team are under the pump to hold their place – Steve Smith, David Warner, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood the only exceptions.

There are some major selection headaches to come.

Respected former Test skipper Ian Chappell says Ponting stands out as one of the sharpest cricket brains in the country, and should at least be asked the question when the hunt begins for a new boss.

Former Test captain Ricky Ponting should be appointed the new chairman of selectors, says Ian Chappell.Former Test captain Ricky Ponting should be appointed the new chairman of selectors, says Ian Chappell.Source: News Corp Australia

Fellow selection panel members Mark Waugh and Trevor Hohns boast strong credentials to take over the top job, but the big question for them – and star candidates like Ponting – will be whether they’re prepared to take the plunge on what is undeniably a high-pressured and taxing job.

Hohns has served as the chairman before for the best part of a decade, while Waugh also balances Big Bash commentary commitments with Channel Ten.

Waugh says he enjoys being a selector, but that he is yet to think about the future with his contract also up in June next year.

“I haven’t even thought about that,” when asked on Nine’s coverage of the Matador Cup whether he aspires to be chairman.

“Actually my contract’s up at the same time as well so I’ll have to have a think about that.

“But I’ve enjoyed doing the selecting I’m sure Rod Marsh has enjoyed it as well. Everyone’s got to move on don’t they? Rod isn’t getting any younger is he but he’s been a great chairman ever since I came on board so I’ve enjoyed working with him so it’s going to be a shame he’s going to be retiring. You’ll have to wait and see but we’ll what happens (next year).”

Chappell says he believes a focus on Twenty20 cricket needs to be a priority for the new panel, a component that has been lacking based on Australia’s constant failures in the short-form World Cup.

For him, Ponting stands out.

“He’d be the one to go for, whether he’d go for it or not is another matter,” Chappell said.

“From his academy days right through, he’s been a pretty solid thinker on the game and he’s captained all over the world. I’d at least be putting a call in.”

Rod Marsh is standing down as chairman of selectors.Rod Marsh is standing down as chairman of selectors.Source: News Corp Australia

Ponting has been in CA’s sights for various roles for some time – due to his impressive coaching resume and standing in the game. But time has always been the former captain’s problem – in between a coaching gig in the IPL and commentary for the Big Bash, he hasn’t shown a willingness to go on the road with the Australian cricket team.

Marsh selected a side that has gone to No.1 in Test cricket twice and won a World Cup, but he’s also overseen some massive disasters overseas.

Head of team performance Pat Howard said when asked about the claims of Waugh and Hohns that he will be looking for a chairman first and foremost, and then fitting the other selection panel positions around that.

“We always put the national job first, the top position and get that job first and look at complimentary skill sets under that,” said Howard, who praised Marsh for his thick skin and contribution to the team’s success.

Australia has copped it for taking a second string bowling attack to South Africa and getting whipped 5-0 – an unprecedented failure in ODI cricket.

However, Mitchell Starc has returned from his leg gash to bowl this week in Brisbane, Josh Hazlewood is back for NSW and Peter Siddle also enjoyed a positive comeback for Victoria yesterday.

Howard is confident the bowling depth this summer will hold up, and Hazlewood says the rest will do him well.

“Sri Lanka was a long tour physically and mentally,” he said.

“And with a lot of cricket coming up I think the rest was valid.

“(Losing 5-0 to South Africa) gives us a lot of motivation. There will be a few guys there carrying what happened but there will be a lot of fresh faces (for the first Test).”

Oct 132016
 
Statistic no team wants to have

THE Australian national cricket team has earned one accolade they’d like to forget after losing the fifth ODI against South Africa.

The Aussie unit has now lost three series’ to a whitewash in all three formats of the game this year.

Their recent 5-0 defeat to South Africa in their ODI tour adds to their 3-0 Test defeat in Sri Lanka and 3-0 T20I defeat against India earlier in the year.

The days of defeating England 5-0 twice in a decade seem long behind the boys in the Baggy Green, but there’s still time to redeem this rocky year in the upcoming home Test series against South Africa.

A strong performance from the young bowling attack will be needed to bring down the South African top order, and if this past 5-0 whitewash is any indication, they’ll have to step up their game.

Time to hit the drawing board, boys.Time to hit the drawing board, boys.Source: Getty Images

David Warner hit a magnificent century for Australia but could not prevent South Africa from completing a clean sweep by winning the fifth and final one-day international by 31 runs at Newlands on Wednesday.

Warner hit 173 off 136 balls but received scant support from his teammates as Australia, chasing South Africa’s 327 for eight, were bowled out for 296.

South Africa won all five matches in the series, the first time Australia have suffered such a beating in a five-game bilateral series. Australia will retain their number one ranking in one-day internationals, however, with South Africa two points behind in second place.

“Davey was phenomenal but the rest of us didn’t stand up,” said Australian captain Steve Smith. “Credit to South Africa, we’ve been outplayed in all the games.” Rilee Rossouw hit 122 and JP Duminy made 73 as South Africa piled up the third-highest total in a one-day international at Newlands, making them firm favourites on a ground where the highest successful run chase was 258.

Warner was dropped by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock off Kagiso Rabada when he had 11. He went on to play a thrilling innings, hitting 24 fours, and Australia remained in with a chance of victory until he was ninth out with the total on 288, run out by a throw from the point boundary by Imran Tahir, desperate for a risky second run in order to keep the strike.

Leg-spinner Tahir had earlier taken two wickets in his first over, ending an opening stand of 72 between Warner and Aaron Finch, then bowling Smith two balls later.

South African captain Faf du Plessis paid tribute to Warner for an “incredible innings” but said South Africa deserved their series triumph. “At different times different guys stood up. Whatever Australia threw at us we had the answers. I’m very proud of the team.” Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head both made 35 but Australia were not able to stage a big partnership such as the 178 off 170 balls posted by Rossouw and Duminy after South Africa had been struggling at 52 for three.

There’s a lot to work on for this young Australian attack.There’s a lot to work on for this young Australian attack.Source: AP

Rossouw, who also hit two fifties in the earlier matches, was named man of the series and Warner was named man of the match.

Australia’s bowlers made a good start after South Africa won the toss, with Scott Boland having De Kock caught at cover and Joe Mennie bowling both Hashim Amla and Du Plessis.

Mennie, who conceded 82 runs without taking a wicket in his only previous international in Johannesburg, also ended the Rossouw-Duminy stand when Duminy was caught at backward point. He was the best of the Australian bowlers, taking three for 49.

Chris Tremain, another bowler who made his debut during the series, also took three wickets, aided by two in his last over. He conceded 64 runs.

Rossouw hit the ball with great power in making his runs off 118 balls with 14 fours and two sixes, while Duminy was the ideal partner with a combination of silky stroke play and good running between the wickets.

Oct 132016
 
Warner’s classy response to sledge

DAVID Warner is known for his hefty on-field chatter, but this time he was on the receiving end of a tirade of sledges.

The Aussie opener was on his way to a record-smashing 171 in Cape Town last night, trying to bring Australia from the dirt to seal its only win against South Africa on tour.

But South Africa’s legspinner Imran Tahir took a distaste to Warner’s blockbuster innings in the 37th over when Australia needed nine runs an over to win.

He marched up to the 29-year-old, who had just survived a DRS call for LBW, and began a bizarre argument with him.

It’s still not yet clear what irked Tahir, but he sure had something to say to Warner — it didn’t worry the Aussie batsman, however.

“What happens on the field, happens on the field,” Warner said.

“I honestly have no idea what sparked it — I’m still trying to work it out.

“For the first time in my life, I didn’t say anything.”

In stark contrast to the bizarre sledge he just received, Warner made a classy gesture at the end of Tahir’s spell, congratulating the leggie for his handy figures of 2/42 in a brief embrace — but the expression on Tahir’s face suggested he was still fired up.

Warner’s trailblazing innings of 173 from 136 balls wasn’t enough to get the Aussies over the line in Cape Town.Warner’s trailblazing innings of 173 from 136 balls wasn’t enough to get the Aussies over the line in Cape Town.Source: Getty Images

“Immy wears his heart on his sleeve,” South African captain Faf du Plessis said.

“He loves doing well. I haven’t seen him like that, but it just shows how badly he wanted to win the game tonight.

“He realised that David Warner was playing a great knock and he had to maybe try and get under his skin and the two of them had a few words. That’s cricket; that’s competitive nature.

“Dave is trying to win a game for his country and so is Imran, so I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

The situation was flipped on its head when Tahir ran out Warner on 173, but proceeded to congratulate the Australian vice-captain on his knock.

“The great thing was that when Immy was done Dave put a hand over the shoulder and said ‘let’s have a beer afterwards’. That, for me, is the spirit of the game. Immy is obviously going to have a glass of water, but it’s the thought that counts,” Du Plessis said.

South Africa has struck gold in selecting Tahir. Having only played 64 matches with the Proteas, the 37-year-old has had a flurry of success, rising to the top of the ICC ODI bowling ranks during last year’s World Cup while claiming plenty of key victories for the Proteas.

“He’s an absolute gun. Immy is the reason why we are where are as an ODI side,” Du Plessis said.

“He’s been so consistent over the last few years — he’s won me plenty of games.”

It’s hard to hold Imran Tahir back when he’s fired up.It’s hard to hold Imran Tahir back when he’s fired up.Source: AP

The weird outburst comes barely a day after the Aussie team was slammed by former Test batsman Kepler Wessels for “mindlessly” sledging South Africa.

“There was a time when Australian teams used sledging cleverly as a strategy,” Wessels wrote. “The mindless babble that this group have resorted to is both embarrassing and totally ineffective.

“There is just something very wrong with the fact that players who average 25 are trying to intimidate proven campaigners on the international stage.”

Australia now have a huge job to do in recuperating their losses and preparing for next month’s looming home Test series against South Africa.

Oct 132016
 
Siddle fires on injury return as Vics roll Tas

AUSTRALIAN Test fast bowler Peter Siddle enjoyed a successful return to cricket following off-season ankle surgery, helping the Bushrangers restrict Tasmania to 7-210 in the domestic one-day Cup match at North Sydney Oval.

Siddle — a veteran of 61 Test matches — made an immediate impact, clean bowling in-form Tasmanian opener Tim Paine in just his second over.

Siddle bowled with trademark control to return figures of 1-19 off eight overs, while Australian Twenty20 international Glen Maxwell opened the bowling and took 2-17 with his off-spin.

After winning the toss Tasmania saw both openers return to the pavilion inside the first three overs, and soon slipped to 4-39 against the second-placed Bushrangers.

A bad day looked set to become far worse for Tasmania with batsman Alex Doolan retiring hurt on 32 with a back injury, before the No. 4 returned at the fall of the seventh wicket.

Doolan showed little sign of injury upon return and batted impressively to finish unbeaten on 87, including five sixes.

Tasmania’s rearguard action was helped along by medium-pacer Simon Milenko (41) and spinner Xavier Doherty (34 not out), who added 82 runs with Doolan for the eighth wicket.

Oct 132016
 
’Lying’: Hughes’ dad rejects evidence

THE father of late cricketer Phillip Hughes has rejected the statement of Cricket Australia’s physio — muttering “lying” — as the team official told an inquiry he was unaware of any concerns about the nature of the play leading up to the death of the 25-year-old.

Alex Kountouris told the inquiry into Hughes’ death he had not known that the family were worried the cricketer had been subjected to bowling tactics that were “inconsistent” with the spirit of cricket.

Hughes’ father, Greg, could be heard saying “lying” and mouthing the word “bullshit” as the evidence was led.

Greg and Virginia Hughes and their daughter Megan arrive at the Downing Centre this morning, ahead of day four of the inquest. Picture: Ross SchultzGreg and Virginia Hughes and their daughter Megan arrive at the Downing Centre this morning, ahead of day four of the inquest. Picture: Ross SchultzSource: News Corp Australia

Mr Kountouris also said Hughes’ death, from a vertebral artery dissection that led to a brain haemorrhage, was one of just two cases he had ever seen of someone dying from an injury of that nature.

The other case happened in Melbourne.

Mr Kountouris said he had not interviewed umpires about the Sheffield Shield match on November 25, 2014 in preparing this report.

“You weren’t concerned in the focus of the report, of the play that lead up to the incident,” counsel assisting Kristina Stern SC asked.

“No,” he said, agreeing it was “a report detailing emergency and medical response to the incident”.

Earlier, the family began to cry as a senior staff member from NSW Ambulance expressed his condolences.

James Vernon, the director of the Control Division of NSW Ambulance, said he wanted to give his sympathies to the Hughes family.

Mr Vernon gave evidence about procedures followed by NSW Ambulance when calls were placed through to triple-0 from the SCG.

Cricket player and close mate of Hughes’, Matt Day provided a written statement yesterday.Cricket player and close mate of Hughes’, Matt Day provided a written statement yesterday.Source: News Corp AustraliaA distressed looking Greg Hughes arrives at the Downing Centre today. Picture: AAPA distressed looking Greg Hughes arrives at the Downing Centre today. Picture: AAPSource: AAPAustralian cricketer Phillip Hughes who died on the pitch in 2014.Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes who died on the pitch in 2014.Source: News Corp Australia

Hughes’ father had his arm around his daughter Megan, the batsman’s sister, and his mother Virginia during the proceedings.

Yesterday, a statement provided to the inquest by the cricketer’s close friend, Matthew Day, alleged NSW player Doug Bollinger said he had sledged the South Australian team on that day by saying “I am going to kill you”, and vowed he would never make such a comment on the field again.

Bollinger denied making the sledge in his evidence to the court on Monday.

He then passed on his condolences to the tearful Hughes family as he finished his evidence.

The inquest will resume tomorrow at 10am for closing submissions, with State Coroner Michael Barnes to hand down findings at a later date.

Sean Abbott, who bowled the fatal ball to the young batsman.Sean Abbott, who bowled the fatal ball to the young batsman.Source: AFPJames Vernon, director of NSW Ambulance’s control division. He expressed his condolences to the Hughes family. Picture: Ross SchultzJames Vernon, director of NSW Ambulance’s control division. He expressed his condolences to the Hughes family. Picture: Ross SchultzSource: News Corp Australia

FOLLOW OUR COVERAGE OF DAY FOUR OF THE INQUEST LIVE

Oct 122016
 
Stat that pushes Indian spinner ahead of greats

Ravichandran Ashwin was named both man of the match and player of the series.Ravichandran Ashwin was named both man of the match and player of the series.Source: AP

SPINNER Ravichandran Ashwin claimed seven wickets to lead India’s whitewash of New Zealand as the hosts romped to a 321-run victory on day four of the third and final Test on Tuesday.

Ashwin with career-best match figures of 13-140 helped India skittle out the visitors, who were chasing a daunting 475-run target, for 153 in under two sessions of play at Indore.

Ashwin, the highest wicket-taker in the three Tests with 27 scalps, was named both man of the match and player of the series.

India, who climbed to the top of the world Test rankings after their series-clinching win in Kolkata, remain in number one position ahead of Pakistan.

Umesh Yadav (C) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Tom Latham.Umesh Yadav (C) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Tom Latham.Source: AFP

New Zealand, whitewashed in India for the second successive time after their 2-0 loss in 2012, suffered an early blow when Umesh Yadav trapped opener Tom Latham lbw for six.

The visitors took tea on 38 for one but lost nine more wickets in the final session of play.

Ashwin, who registered his 21st five-wicket haul in Tests, took charge in the evening session to remove skipper Kane Williamson for 27.

It was the fourth time in a row that the Black Caps’ star batsman, who missed the second Test due to a viral infection, had been dismissed by Ashwin.

Ross Taylor showed some aggressive intent with 32 off 25 balls including five fours and a six, but did not last long before he was bowled by another Ashwin turner.

Ravichandran Ashwin (R) is congratulated by Cheteshwar Pujara after dismissing Ross Taylor.Ravichandran Ashwin (R) is congratulated by Cheteshwar Pujara after dismissing Ross Taylor.Source: AFP

Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja soon joined forces with Ashwin to dash New Zealand’s hopes of surviving the day after getting the all-important wickets of Martin Guptill and James Neesham.

Ashwin then disposed of the tail as the hosts celebrated their 3-0 series triumph.

Earlier in the day, a century by Cheteshwar Pujara put the hosts on course to set New Zealand a daunting victory target at India’s newest Test venue, Indore’s Holkar Stadium.

Pujara struck an unbeaten 101 as India, who started the day on 18 without loss, declared their second innings on 216 for three in the afternoon session.

Pujara, who recorded his eight Test hundred, put on 76 for the second wicket with recalled opener Gautam Gambhir (50).

ICheteshwar Pujara (L) celebrates with Ajinkya Rahane after scoring a century.ICheteshwar Pujara (L) celebrates with Ajinkya Rahane after scoring a century.Source: AFP

Gambhir had retired hurt on Monday after aggravating his shoulder injury while diving to save himself from being run out.

India had already gained the upper hand after bowling out New Zealand for 299 in response to their massive first innings score of 557 for five declared.

Skipper Virat Kohli’s second Test double-century paved the way for India’s dominance as he registered his career-best score of 211.

The star batsman put on a record 365-run fourth-wicket partnership with Ajinkya Rahane (188) to keep the New Zealand bowlers on the field for close to six sessions.

Oct 102016
 
‘I know in my heart I didn’t say that’

DOUG Bollinger has denied telling Phillip Hughes “I will kill you” on the day the former Australian opener died, an inquest into the 2014 tragedy has heard.

The court heard Bollinger made the comments on the day Hughes was fatally struck in the neck during a Sheffield Shield match at the SCG in November 2014.

Detective Senior Constable Jay Tonkin said the Hughes’ family had raised concerns with police over the alleged sledges but said no players had any memory of such comments.

Counsel assisting the coroner Kristina Stern SC earlier on Monday told the court there had been some concerns NSW bowlers may have been targeting Hughes with short balls.

Bollinger, when asked at the inquest about the allegation he said “I’m going to kill you” in the direction of Hughes and fellow South Australian batsman Tom Cooper, Bollinger replied “I know in my heart I didn’t say that.”

NSW cricketer Doug Bollinger.NSW cricketer Doug Bollinger.Source: AAP

Bollinger said that while NSW captain Brad Haddin did not specifically tell him to bowl short deliveries, “it was just part of the game.”

He was asked if he could specifically recall any sledging at the match that day and replied “not exactly, no.”

Bollinger said: “Phil was batting well, we were trying to get him out, we were trying to get him anyway we can, either by LBW [leg before wicket] or through caught behind.

“I can’t recall if I said anything to Tom Cooper but it is possible I did.”

“Did you say those words [I am going to kill you]?” Ms Stern asked him.

“To Tom Cooper? I don’t recall saying that, no,” Bollinger replied.

“So you accept it’s possible?”

“I know in my heart I didn’t say that.”

“Did you say anything like that to Phillip Hughes that day?”

“No.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Yes.”

Bollinger then said, in answer to a question about abuse or intimidation taking place on the field that day, “I didn’t sledge Phil.”

James Henderson (centre), the manager of former cricketer Phillip Hughes, speaks to the media on Monday.James Henderson (centre), the manager of former cricketer Phillip Hughes, speaks to the media on Monday.Source: AAP

Ms Stern said numerous NSW cricketers, including David Warner and Brad Haddin, had given statements to the inquest about their team’s strategy. “As far as many players could remember, Hughes was not being unfairly targeted by bouncers and the umpire did not issue any warning about bowlers contravening the limit for short balls per over,” she said.

Counsel for the Hughes family, Greg Melick SC, said Warner’s statement indicated there was a plan to bowl at or over leg stump to move Hughes backward. Wicketkeeper Haddin, who was captaining the NSW side on the day, said on Monday he had no recollection of such a plan and that the game had been played in good spirit.

He also had no recollection of Bollinger “mouthing off” and that he only talked to the team’s coach about changing field positions to slow the scoring rate. Haddin did recall the moment Hughes fell to the ground after being hit by a delivery from NSW paceman Sean Abbott, saying he had never experienced anything like the groaning he heard.

Greg Hughes (centre), the father of former cricketer Phillip Hughes, stands with his family.Greg Hughes (centre), the father of former cricketer Phillip Hughes, stands with his family.Source: AAP

Haddin said he saw Hughes get hit but didn’t know where the ball had hit him. “He looked OK for about three seconds then it was something like I’ve never witnessed before in my life,” Haddin, who is one of numerous players not to review footage of the incident before the inquest, said at the Downing Centre on Monday.

Hughes died two days after he was struck on the side of his neck by the short- pitched delivery.

“It was the noise that he let out. The groan and the way he fell … straight down motionless,” Haddin said.

Bollinger is listed to give evidence, as is Warner, who is in South Africa and expected to testify via audio visual link.

State Coroner Michael Barnes will look at whether the nature of play contributed to risk, the response to Hughes’ injury and whether different equipment could make players safer.

He started Monday’s inquest by offering his condolences to the Hughes family, saying the cricketer was “before anything else, a son and a brother”. Speaking before the inquest began, Hughes’ manager James Henderson and Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland both said they hoped something positive would come out of the week.

Mr Henderson said it was a “very very difficult” time for Hughes’ family. “They haven’t been looking forward to this week as you would imagine,” he said outside court.

“But they are hoping that perhaps there will be a positive come out of Phil’s death.”

The inquest continues.

Oct 092016
 
How ODI shocker could influence Test summer

AUSTRALIA’S one-day tour of South Africa has provided the hosts with the perfect opportunity to trial its fringe players ahead of the Test series down under.

At Port Elizabeth, two of those fringe players stepped up, with its second-string bowling attack skittling Australia for 167.

Kyle Abbott and Tabraiz Shamsi each left a huge mark on the game, taking seven of the 10 wickets.

Seemingly, everything that could go right for the pair did. The opposite was true for Australia, with standards slipping with the bat and in the field. However, there was one positive.

Following Australia’s hammering at the hands of South Africa in the fourth on-day international, we take a look at the game’s five biggest talking points.

DID WE JUST SEE SOUTH AFRICA’S FOURTH BOWLER?

One of the most mouth-watering prospects of Australia’s Test series against South Africa is the thought of the hosts’ batsmen taking on the searing pace of veteran quicks Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander and the game’s hottest young fast bowler, Kagiso Rabada.

On Sunday, South Africa reminded Australia’s batsmen they’ve got more than three standout fast bowlers.

Left out of the XI for the first three games of the series, Kyle Abbott made the most of his call-up, pegging back Aaron Finch and David Warner’s stumps in the space of his first seven balls.

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Abbott went on to take 4-40 to topple Australia for 167 after the tourists elected to bat first. Unsurprisingly, he was named man-of-the-match and now South African papers are calling for him to be included in the squad for the tour of Australia.

“Kyle Abbott stuck up his hand on Sunday to be the ‘fourth element’ if South Africa opt to go all-pace in the first Test against Australia at the WACA from November 3,” wrote veteran cricket writer Rob Houwing forSport24.

Of course, Abbott wasn’t the only bowler to put his hand up for selection in Port Elizabeth.

Left-arm wrist-spinner Shamsi accounted for three of Australia’s batsmen, taking the key wickets of Smith and Travis Head as well as John Hastings. The 26-year-old has been knocking on the door for Test selection for a while now, and with a first-class bowling average of 24.90 it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he debuted in Australia.

AUSTRALIA’S FIELDING STILL LEAVING SOMETHING TO BE DESIRED

Last week, needing a win to keep the series alive, Australia let its standards in the field slip, leaking six runs in unnecessary boundaries in the final 15 overs.

On Sunday, with the team chasing quick wickets, the fielding was once again lax. Having reduced South Africa to 2-29 a ball into the seventh over, Australia only leaked 18 runs in the next 48 balls. With the pressure building, Faf du Plessis charged John Hastings looking to pull the quick, only for a leading edge to skew to Adam Zampa at point. It was the simplest of catches, but somehow Zampa shelled it.

For what it’s worth, the spinner is actually one of the safer pairs of hands in the team. It was just one of those games for Australia. It’s been one of those series as well.

AUSTRALIA’S PROBLEMS AGAINST THE MOVING BALL BACK

Last August, Australia’s batsmen were undone on seaming tracks in England as the country sunk to a 3-2 Ashes loss. This year in February it looked like the country’s reconfigured batting order had come to grips with the moving ball, dominating a two-Test series on lush tracks in New Zealand.

In August on turning tracks in Sri Lanka, Australia was whitewashed three-nil, with the host nation’s spinners taking 54 of the 60 Australian wickets that fell. Still, it looked like that particular issue was restricted to Test cricket, with the tourists cruising to a 4-1 win in the ODI series that followed and 2-0 in the Twenty20s.

It turns out the country is still coming to grips with the moving ball, with Abbott’s seam and swing and Shamsi’s left-arm wrist-spin accounting for seven of the Australian wickets that fell.

Abbott bowled both Finch and Warner through the gate, extracting just enough seam movement on both occasions to expose the gap between bat and pad, before removing Zampa and Mitchell Marsh. Shamsi managed to cause similar trouble for Australia’s batsmen with the little turn on offer, trapping Smith, Travis Head and John Hastings plumb in front.

Australia has some way to go before its dominating cricket globally rather than just at home.

TREMAIN’S STEADY PROGRESS

Australia’s new look pace attack has had a tough time in South Africa but the bowlers deserve little to none of the blame for what happened in Port Elizabeth.

Chris Tremain in particular was impressive. Defending a low total, Australia needed early wickets to keep itself in the contest and Tremain provided just that, removing Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock in the first seven overs.

Having gone the distance on debut (1-78 off 10 overs) and leaked over a run-a-ball in his second game (1-65 off 10), Tremain took 2-48 on Sunday. He’s still leaked the fourth most runs of any player in their first three ODIs (191) but it looks like he’s coming to grips with playing at this level.

AUSTRALIA LOVE A SLEDGE

Well at least they’re persistent.

Despite South Africa needing just another 10 runs to win off 112 balls with six wickets in hand, Warner and Matthew Wade kept up the sledge, with Farhaan Behardieen copping plenty.

In the 32 over, Behardieen was twice forced to pull out as Adam Zampa ran in because Warner was still talking. The incessant chatter saw umpire Nigel Llong call Smith over to get his fielders in line.

Behardieen had a better way of shutting them up, driving Zampa through the covers for four.

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