Australia down but not yet out
Australia’s ‘Recyclables’ in chaos
‘Centurion pitch will have a bit of bounce
Tremlett ahead in race to Perth
Heady mix of panic, Beer and Kochi cooes
Khan faces moment of truth
Pargat Singh to head Hockey India Development Committee
Saina in Hong Kong Super Series final
Chamba, Nahan cricket match today
Perth, December 11
"Despite being 1-0 down and clearly outplayed in Adelaide, we are still very much in this series and a win in Perth will give us the momentum we need to seriously challenge England and win the Ashes back," Ponting wrote in an article in 'The Australian'.
Dismissing all the possibilities of his retirement after the media bashing, which he and his team received after an unimpressive outing during the second Ashes Test, Ponting wrote, "I have not stopped for one moment to consider retirement. The question of my future as captain is ultimately a decision for Cricket Australia and categorically the future of Australian cricket must come first." Reiterating faith on his batting prowess the veteran cricketer, who failed to make a mark during the second Test, insisted that he still has the ability to score and lead his side out of the slump.
"I have every confidence in my ability to score runs and be the experienced batsman and leader that my teammates can rely on," Ponting added.
However, the captain courageous emphasised that being the leader of the bunch he is responsible for the performance of the unit and in every right is liable of being evaluated by the Cricket Australia and fans around the world.
"As captain, I am accountable for the performance of my team and I accept that our most recent results mean that I am being assessed more critically than at other times in my career as captain," Ponting wrote.
On the introduction of some new faces into the squad for the third Test at WACA, Ponting brought out to the fore that their inclusion will lift the spirits in the dressing room, which would help reap positive results.
"It's always an exciting time when youngsters are chosen to play for Australia. Their enthusiasm becomes infectious in the dressing room and out on the ground," Ponting mentioned.
On the team's prospects at their favourite hunting venue, the skipper pinned hopes on the fact that the wicket at Perth has redeemed some of its spice which it has been famous for.
"The wicket at the WACA ground is beginning to regain the pace and bounce which once made it famous and gave Australia such a good record there," he wrote.
"I've always gone to Perth believing it offers a significant home-ground advantage and it gives us a wonderful opportunity to get back into the series," Ponting added.
Mentioning about their dry run, the veteran said the team discussed about what all went wrong during the Adelaide Test and emphasised on the fact that how close they thought they were to playing some pretty good Test cricket.
Keeping faith on the ability of his teammates, the 35-year-old said, "We've got to make sure we believe in each other and what we are doing is right. If we do that I honestly believe a win is just around the corner for us." — AFP
Sydney, December 11
There is a conviction among the media that another round of chopping and changing at the selection table was not going to fix things for the troubled Australian team, who have not won any of their last five Tests.
"Australia have gone from the 1948 Invincibles to the 2010 Recyclables after their sack-then-back approach to fast bowlers during this Ashes campaign," The Sydney Morning Herald said.
Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus have been recalled after being dropped for the second Test and Doug Bollinger, dropped for the first Test, has been axed again after a recall in the previous game.
Former Test paceman Geoff Lawson said the fast bowlers would be unsure of their places and what selectors were thinking.
"I think they'd be very confused -- I'm confused," Lawson told the Herald.
"I think there's some logical things to do and they haven't been done. It's hard to find a rhyme or reason why they do things." Another ex-Test paceman Stuart Clark said a major problem facing the Australian bowling unit was the confusion surrounding places in the team.
"I can't quite work out the logic behind the omission of Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus for the second Test, only to bring them back for the third. And what of Doug Bollinger missing the Perth squad altogether?" Clark told the Herald.
The Melbourne Age drew parallels with Australian cricket's 'bad old days' of the 1980s when it hit rock bottom.
"Then as now, Australia were out of the habit of winning.
Then, Australia had not won in 14 Tests, spanning more than a year. Now, it is five Tests, comparatively a blip," The Age's Greg Baum wrote
Shock selection Michael Beer -- after just five first-class matches for Western Australia — became Australia's 10th spin bowler used since the retirement of Shane Warne almost four years ago. — AFP
Cape Town, December 11
Supersport Park groundsman Hilbert Smith said he is heeding to what had been told to him but it depends on weather conditions in the next few days, though overcast conditions have been forecast in the run-up to the match.
"I've been told to leave some grass on it, so there will be bounce. I've rolled some grass into the base for that," Hilbert Smith, the groundsman at Supersport Park, said.
"It will have just a bit of bounce. But everything depends on the weather. If it stays hot, somewhere in the region of 34 degrees Celsius and the pitch dries out, then it will flatten out totally and then we will have a problem because we need some moisture to get bounce," he said.
Smith, however, ruled out preparing a green-top pitch as he fears that it will generate too much bounce and movement leading to the match ending prematurely.
"If I leave too much grass on the pitch, there will be too much movement and then the match could be over in three days and we don't want that. If it ends in four days, that will be fine, but ideally, I would like it to go the full five days," Smith said00.
Smith has also been told to leave no room for turn, all but negating the role of the spinner, who will, particularly in the case of someone like Paul Harris, be used to contain.
Former South African spinner Paul Adams, however, said bounce alone may be enough to excite the slow bowlers, particularly tall ones like Harris and Harbhajan Singh.
"Spinners just need the bounce to be able to deceive the batsmen," he said.
Smith said he has "done most of the Test pitch already" though he lost a couple of days due to the domestic MTN40 final yesterday.
"There will be a little bit of wear and tear on the Test pitch (because of the MTN40 final) and the grass may come out a bit because of its position," Smith said.
The pitch to be used for the December 16-20 Test is adjacent to the one used during the MTN40 final match.
Although the mercury has risen above 30 degrees Celsius for the past few days, but it has rained on three days also. — PTI
Melbourne, December 11
Unfortunately, this was not the role of Billy Elliot and the third Test match in Perth next Thursday is not governed by those restrictions about hours worked that apply to young actors. Whoever is picked for the Waca can expect to plough a lone furrow for hours in to the Fremantle Doctor.
Thus, from the applicants for the place on the big stage sadly vacated by Stuart Broad when he tore an abdominal muscle during the second Test, the likelihood remains that Chris Tremlett will be the chosen one. Neither Tim Bresnan nor Ajmal Shahzad did quite enough - and the implication was that they would have to do a considerable amount - to alter the thinking of the England management.
There remains the dreaded outside possibility that there will be two holes left in the attack for the Waca. Jimmy Anderson flew home immediately after the second Test for the birth of his second child, a little girl, who was successfully delivered yesterday weighing 7lb 9oz. He is due to rejoin his colleagues in Perth on Tuesday.
Leaving aside the fact that new babies can be tricky blighters, Anderson will still do well to roll up on Thursday morning shipshape and Bristol fashion. He will have been on two long flights, to and from England, within a week. There are worse things at sea but it is not conducive to the playing of a Test match that could decide the Ashes.
The possibility of his falling asleep at the end of his run-up cannot be excluded. But if he makes it, there might at least be relief for the batsmen. Anderson has been on their case in every way in the two Test matches so far, peppering them with verbal onslaughts which he will presumably be much too tired to reprise.
Of the backing trio, only Bresnan took a wicket, though both the others, like him, had catches dropped off their bowling. None was quite a straightforward chance but the culprits would have been grateful in the extreme that they were erring in a low-key match. It was not the fielding performance of the brave new England where chances are plucked from the air as if catching flies.
There is something bizarre about a professional contest watched by no more than 1,000 spectators being played in a stadium which can hold 100,000 people. On Boxing Day, when the fourth Test begins (with, who knows, the destiny of the Ashes already decided) the MCG will be full but yesterday there was an eerie quality surrounding the place.
Tremlett, Bresnan, and Shahzad, however, had to bowl as though their lives depended on it. They all brought to the proceedings what it was expected they would bring, a professional competence and observation of decent bowling principles not always shown by Test aspirants in recent years.
Not that the droll Bresnan saw it as a three-way contest. "I know people have been calling it a shootout, but that's not the way we see it," he said. "We just turned up as a bowling unit with a match to win." Uh huh, Tim.
The favourite to replace Broad is Tremlett because he possesses similar virtues and physical attributes. He had a catch dropped off his third ball yesterday, by Matt Prior, in the unfamiliar position of third slip (the squad's reserve keeper for the tour, Steve Davies, was behind the stumps).
It was Davies who narrowly failed to gather another chance induced by Tremlett off an inside edge later in the day. Bresnan had a catch put down at mid-on by Tremlett, Shahzad a sharp one at gully by Ian Bell. To make it a full house, Monty Panesar also had a catch dropped, this one by Prior at midwicket. The left-handed Michael Hill was reprieved on four of these occasions and not surprisingly went on to his maiden first-class century before Victoria declared at 216 for 2.
The wicket fell to Bresnan, who was pretty fiery early on, and had Ryan Carters caught behind from his second ball. Panesar took the only other wicket to fall. Nobody then made a "you must pick me" case.
England were in for an hour and there was the surprising sight of Alastair Cook being dismissed after a mere 43 minutes at the crease. He edged a cut to the wicketkeeper and turned and went immediately, probably glad of a break.
But then a man who has batted as he has recently was auditioning for nobody.
Heady mix of panic, Beer and Kochi cooes
So the Aussies have found the secret potion for Ashes success — Beer! Poor Michael Beer. The lad must have been quite a favourite of the schoolyard bullies. Now he will have to go and face up to a rampaging Nick Cook and Kevin Pietersen (whose love for left-arm spinners is legendary).
One wonders what happened to Nathan Hauritz. He was by far the best Australian off-spinner on display, at one time supposed to be competition for Graeme Swann. But he fell victim to an unforgiving tour of India.
Having said that, one still can’t believe that Beer will emerge as a better bowler. But you never know. Xavier Doherty, the man Beer replaces, however got it exactly right when he said that the Australian selectors were reacting in panic. But when and Ashes disaster looms, especially at home, panic is always the first reaction, especially for Australia, who are the worst losers in the business.
Talking of panic, how can we forget our own Indian Premier League. Take stock of the situation. The Board of Control for Cricket in India, in its innate wisdom, had stated in October that irrespective of how things panned out with the Kochi team, there would be eight teams in IPL 4.
They weren’t panicking then, since there was Sahara’s Pune outfit, all set to go, while Ahmedabad was also looking like a strong bet, so Kochi could be done away with. But suddenly, with the player auction barely a month away, the board realised that they were one team short, since Ahmedabad had fallen through.
Time to panic! So there was lot of behind-the-scenes pushing of the Kochi outfit and its assorted partners to come to Time to panic! So there was lot of behind-the-scenes pushing of the Kochi outfit and its assorted partners to come to some sort of agreement, since the BCCI was a team short.
Nothing heals like money, and Kochi suddenly was a happy family, as all sins were forgiven, and the side was cleared by a much relieved BCCI.
Then came the news of how many of the stars of Indian cricket were actually not quite T20 stalwarts, as they were dropped like hot potatoes by their franchises.
Sourav Ganguly wasn’t retained by Kolkata Knight Riders! This was supposed to be a shock, but don’t be too surprised if Dada isn’t particularly perturbed. Surely, the Sahara people would have something lined up for him.
The IPL never was and is unlikely to, despite the BCCI’s claims to the contrary, a particularly transparent affair. So whatever goes on behind closed doors largely stays there, making it a bit of a mystery as to how things dramatically fall into place at the last moment.
Las Vegas, December 11
Maidana is young at 27, has just one defeat in 30 fights and has left 27 of his 29 victims on the canvas or in the welcome arms of the referee. He is a serious threat to the British fighter and accepting the fight was an enormous risk by all involved in the Khan business; it is a reassuring fact that it was the boxer who ordered his handlers and advisers to get Maidana in the ring at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Khan will need to box a strategically flawless fight, refuse any rushes of blood to his head and be content to take the drama out of the occasion at the risk of ruining the event; winning ugly is still a win.
The biggest test for an Olympic medal winner is not in Las Vegas but at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, where Beijing gold medallist James DeGale makes an audacious bid for the British super-middleweight title after only eight fights.
DeGale has never completed five rounds as a professional boxer during his brief, entertaining and textbook career and eyebrows were raised when his promoter Frank Warren announced that fight No 9 would be against Paul Smith. — AP
Pargat Singh to head Hockey India Development Committee
New Delhi, December 11
Pargat will head minimum of a three-member committee, with former international Thoiba Singh being the second member. "Other members, including women representatives, will be finalised later", a top source in Hockey India told The Tribune.
The meeting also approved the formation of various other committees and the future programmes, though Hockey India will take some time to fill in the various committees, including the selection committee. The appointment of the chief coach, coaches and support staff of the men's hockey team will be decided later, with the committee headed by Pargat Singh having a decisive say.
"They will examine the whole issue", the source noted. The men's team is without a chief coach as the Government has not taken any decision to renew the contract of Jose Brasa of Spain, or appoint a new coach. Hockey India has also not taken any decision on Indian coach Harendra Singh, who had tendered his resignation during the Asian Games in China last month. "No decision has been taken on the coaches issue", the source added.
The meeting adopted the decision to hold the 1st Olympic Qualifying Tournament in India in February, 2012 as well as the Champions Trophy in November 2011, though the venues were yet to be finalised. India will bid for the Asia Cup and the Junior Asia Cup for men and women.
The Indian men's and women's teams will participate in the inaugural Asian Champions Hockey Tournament in China. The men's National Hockey Championship will be held at Pune in January, 2011 while the women's nationals will be held at Sonepat in February.
Saina in Hong Kong Super Series final
New Delhi, December 11 The second seeded Indian registered a 21-19 17-21 21-12 win over Juliane in a 53-minute women's singles semifinal match. 20-year-old Saina will lock horns with third seed Shixian Wang of China in the summit clash tomorrow. Shixian beat top seed and compatriot Xin Wang 21-12 21-14 in another semifinal match. In a battle of nerves, Saina was trailing 8-12 but the Indian won four straight points to first catch up with the German and then level 17-17 before marching ahead to pocket the first game. But the Hyderabadi couldn't hold on to the lead in the second game and from 5-5, Juliane moved ahead in strides to bounce back into the match. In the decider, Saina gave no chance to her rival and opened a 6-1 lead before surging ahead to 11-3 and 19-9 before wrapping up the match.
New Delhi, December 11
The second seeded Indian registered a 21-19 17-21 21-12 win over Juliane in a 53-minute women's singles semifinal match. 20-year-old Saina will lock horns with third seed Shixian Wang of China in the summit clash tomorrow. Shixian beat top seed and compatriot Xin Wang 21-12 21-14 in another semifinal match. In a battle of nerves, Saina was trailing 8-12 but the Indian won four straight points to first catch up with the German and then level 17-17 before marching ahead to pocket the first game.
But the Hyderabadi couldn't hold on to the lead in the second game and from 5-5, Juliane moved ahead in strides to bounce back into the match.
In the decider, Saina gave no chance to her rival and opened a 6-1 lead before surging ahead to 11-3 and 19-9 before wrapping up the match. — PTI
Chamba, Nahan cricket match today
Chamba, December 11 Earlier, two similar historical goodwill cricket matches were played between the senior citizens of Chamba and Mandi at Mandi in 2008 and Sundernagar in 2009 in the last two years. The proposal was conceptualised and executed by the Senior Citizens’ Sports Club of Chamba, which was acclaimed by all and sundry. Major SC Nayyar who captained the first Himachal Ranji team is the captain of Chamba senior citizens team. Nayyar, who is also the convener of the HP Senior Citizens’ Cricket Association said objective of such goodwill matches were just to strengthen the mutual bonds of affection and fraternity, which would certainly rejuvenate the vanishing physical, mental and spiritual health of the senior citizens.
Chamba, December 11
Earlier, two similar historical goodwill cricket matches were played between the senior citizens of Chamba and Mandi at Mandi in 2008 and Sundernagar in 2009 in the last two years.
The proposal was conceptualised and executed by the Senior Citizens’ Sports Club of Chamba, which was acclaimed by all and sundry.
Major SC Nayyar who captained the first Himachal Ranji team is the captain of Chamba senior citizens team. Nayyar, who is also the convener of the HP Senior Citizens’ Cricket Association said objective of such goodwill matches were just to strengthen the mutual bonds of affection and fraternity, which would certainly rejuvenate the vanishing physical, mental and spiritual health of the senior citizens.
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