Apr 152014
McGrath, Perry to meet Prince William and Kate Middleton

Australia’s bowling legend McGrath and women all-rounder Ellyse Perry will meet the Royals in a special event at the Sydney Opera House

McGrath, Perry to meet Prince William and Kate Middleton (© AFP)


Sydney: Australian cricket legend Glenn McGrath and woman all-rounder Ellyse Perry will meet Prince William and Kate Middleton on Wednesday in a special event at the Sydney Opera House here when the 2015 ICC World Cup and participating nations will be showcased.

The event will highlight the diversity of cricket as the royal couple will be greeted by children from the 14 participating nations and presented special indigenously painted cricket bats along with a baby ‘baggy green’ for their son Prince George.

Three-time World Cup champion McGrath and the youngest Australian to play international cricket Perry will be joined by 2015 ICC World Cup chief executive John Harnden and Cricket Australia (CA) director Michael Kasprowicz to meet the royal couple.

Apr 112014
australian born robson closes in on England cap

Sydney-born batsman caught in Lord’s spell

Quick Single: English-born Whiteman eyes Baggy Green

While Sam Whiteman ponders his journey from Yorkshire to the Australia A squad and a shot at a Baggy Green, Sam Robson is treading a path of polar opposites.

Sydney-born Robson has nailed his colours to England’s mast and the opening batsman is tipped to be a key component of the rebuilding process following the team’s Ashes whitewash last summer.

Whiteman’s journey is not so far advanced yet but is heading in the right direction at age 22. He was this week named in a 21-man squad for the Australia A series against India A and South Africa A to be played in Brisbane, Darwin and Townsville in July and August.

Australia’s incumbent wicketkeeper, Brad Haddin, was in the form of his career last summer in the Ashes, a key component of the whitewash. But at 36, the National Selection Panel has an eye to the future.

Robson, meanwhile, opens the batting for Middlesex and even the cajoling of Australian Test opener and county captain Chris Rogers cannot sway the 24-year-old from his chosen path.

“As soon as I left school I came to England,” Rosbon told the Guardian. “I’ve been a professional cricketer with Middlesex for six or seven years, so definitely I feel England is where I learned to play first-class cricket.

“When I came over here I was young. It was a commitment that I came over here and I loved everything about it, loved playing cricket here, loved turning up at Lord’s as a professional cricketer and the longer I’ve stayed here, it’s become my home, I suppose.

“That’s the be all and end all of it. I’ve spent so much time here. This is where I live and this is where I’m a professional cricketer.”

Robson captained the Australia Under-19 squad, playing alongside Phillip Hughes and James Faulkner.

His father, Jim, played a season with the Worcestershire Seconds in 1979. Robson’s mother, a nurse from Nottingham, gave him a British passport and the opportunity to take up a county spot.

His first tour to England was for the New South Wales Under-17s. “I loved it,” Robson told the UK’s Daily Telegraph. “I think on that trip we played at The Oval – and against the Middlesex Academy, which had Steven Finn.

“I just loved the grounds and the passion, and thought it would be a great place to play.

“I wanted to be a professional cricketer from 15 or 16. When I came over to England, I had a rookie contract with NSW but I wanted to play as much as I could.

“In 2008 I just loved playing all the time: sometimes I was getting three or four hits a week, travelling around with my mates, and I thought it was outstanding.

“To top it all off, to turn up and train at Lord’s, the great ground … I was taken aback. That’s what influenced me to sign on full-time with Middlesex.”

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 11 April, 2014 4:00PM AEDT

Feb 192014
Walking wounded must fight back

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GRAEME Smith walked out on to the Sydney Cricket Ground to a standing ovation, though his own left hand was broken and his right elbow so damaged he could hardly hold his cricket bat.

The South Africans were nine wickets down on the last day of an unwinnable Test in 2009 and the only thing standing between them and defeat was their wounded skipper.

“This is a mighty figure,’’ commentator Mark Nicholas exclaimed, “one of the great men of the modern game.’’

Smith needed help in getting dressed; he had no plaster cast and even refused painkillers since he wanted a clear head. Hand-breaker Mitchell Johnson was ready to rumble and Australia had at least 8.2 overs to bowl in the 34 minutes before stumps on the last day.

South Africa already had the series won but the prospect of losing a Test was more painful to Smith than his injuries.

Ricky Ponting said it was one of the most courageous things he’d seen.

Ricky Ponting and Smith shake hands at the finish of the third Test in 2009 at the SCG.

Ricky Ponting and Smith shake hands at the finish of the third Test in 2009 at the SCG. Source: News Limited

“That’s what every team looks to from their leader,’’ he explained. “To show that fighting spirit, to stand up when they are needed.’’

07/01/2009. Australia v South Africa. Fifth day. Third Test. SCG. South African captain Graeme Smith with his broken left han...

Smith at the team presentation five years ago. Source: News Limited

Smith’s heroics were not lessened by the fact he was bowled by Johnson 10 deliveries short of saving the Test. His bravery rivalled that of Rick McCosker facing Bob Willis with a broken jaw and Ken “Slasher” Mackay taking on Wes Hall as his torso was tattooed by deliveries hitting him at 160km/h.

Michael Clarke’s team recently ran roughshod over an England side under such heavy enemy fire they needed Winston Churchill at the helm, not Alastair Cook.

South Africa promised a lot more spine in this series, but confronted by Johnson, now as intimidating as any fast bowler ever, they flopped badly in the series opener at Centurion. It will be up to Smith to lead the fightback in Port Elizabeth or this series will be another mismatch.

Across the political spectrum the South Africans have always been scrappers, from the Boer guerilla leader Louis Botha to the black guerilla leader Nelson Mandela and they have brought that mentality into sport with rugby players Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha, single minded golfers Ernie Els and Gary Player and even the disgraced Paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

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Smith needs to rekindle his stoic resolve of 2009 or South Africa will go the same way as the humiliated Poms.

Behind the microphone he refuses to give ground, saying that Johnson had a lot of help from the first Test wicket and that it wasn’t that long ago that South Africa had the Australian tearaway on the back foot.

Now Smith needs to bring that attitude onto the pitch and live up to his fighting nickname

“Captain Biff.”

Mike Procter’s career was cut short.

Mike Procter’s career was cut short. Source: News Limited

Many years ago I made a tour of South Africa to report on the way the country was trying to regain a foothold in international sport as apartheid — its policy of racial segregation — came to an end.

I met many of their towering sporting figures from rugby icon Danie Craven down, and at a party at the Elangeni Hotel in Durban fast bowler Mike Procter told me that his country’s years in the sporting wilderness had bred an intense determination to dominate all other sides.

The international ban on South Africa had restricted Procter’s own career to just seven Tests, all of them against Australia, but playing against Bill Lawry, Keith Stackpole, Ian Chappell, Doug Walters, Bobby Simpson and Bob Cowper he took 41 Test wickets at an average of just 15.02.

Procter generated phenomenal pace from a ridiculous but effective chest-on whirlwind action.

South Africans have always been able to turn out great fast bowlers since the fiery “Kodgee” Kotze in the early 1900s. His wicketkeeper used raw steak inside his keeping gloves to minimise the impact of the ball and both men would often finish a session with blood on their hands.

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South Africa need their quickest bowlers, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, to give Australia some of their own Mitchell Johnson treatment just as Neil Adcock and Peter Heine did in the 1950s.

“Adcock and Heine were giants,” Neil Harvey Australia’s great batsman of the era told me, “and they formed a truly ferocious partnership for South Africa. Heine was the more belligerent and he gave me plenty of bruises.”

After felling England opener Peter Richardson during the 1956-57 series, Heine told him: “Get up, I want to hit you again.”

And the next year at Port Elizabeth, where the second Test begins on Thursday, Adcock was warned for bowling three consecutive bouncers that whistled past the temple of Australia’s Colin McDonald.

Adcock responded to the umpire’s rebuke by hurling down an even faster bouncer that had McDonald caught at slip.

Game on.

Feb 162014
Breakers win ninth straight title

NSW pose with the trophy after beating Victoria in the final.

NSW pose with the trophy after beating Victoria in the final. Source: Brett Hemmings / Getty Images

NSW have won their ninth straight Women’s National Cricket League one-day title, with a seven-wicket victory over Victoria in wet conditions at North Sydney Oval.

Sunday’s match was reduced to 20 overs a side and started almost five and a half hours late at 3.25pm, the latest possible time for it to commence.

Set 112 for victory after sending Victoria in, NSW got home with seven balls to spare.peMost of the match was played in drizzle and under floodlights.

Australian star Meg Lanning (49 off 48 balls) helped Victoria to 9-111, hitting seven of the 10 fours in the innings.

Alex Blackwell played a vital innings for NSW.

Alex Blackwell played a vital innings for NSW. Source: Getty Images

The Spirit were well-placed at 1-50, but lost wickets at regular intervals.

NSW lost Alyssa Healy (4 off 6) early, but two solid partnerships thwarted Victoria’s bid for their first WNCL title since 2005.

Leah Poulton (48 off 48) added 48 with captain Alex Blackwell (26 off 29) before the latter was run out by a direct hit from Jess Cameron at square leg.

Poulton then added 55 with former Victorian captain Rachael Haynes (33 not out off 29), before being dismissed five runs short of the target,

Haynes, who is in her third season with the Breakers, hit the winning boundary and won the player of the match award after taking 3-20 with her left-arm medium pace.

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