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Monthly Archives: October 2018

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Tremlett eyes Test recall

England’s tour match against Western Australia this week is more than a warm-up for the Ashes.

With pace bowler Tim Bresnan unlikely to overcome a stress fracture in his back in time to play in Brisbane on November 21, it is an opportunity for contenders to make a final bid for a Test spot.

With James Anderson, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad set to lead England’s attack, the battle appears to be between Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn and the inexperienced Boyd Rankin.

A betting man would back the 201-centimetre Tremlett to snare that place for the first Test.

The tour match, starting Thursday, is being played at the WACA Ground where Tremlett took eight wickets during England’s 2010 Ashes winning series.

He took Michael Clarke’s wicket in both innings, beating him for pace and bounce. Clarke was caught behind by Matt Prior for four then bowled for 20.

It’s the wicket of the now Australian captain Tremlett has his sights set on again.

”Yeah, it’s always important that you target the captain in any side and obviously he’s been their form player in the last few years,” Tremlett said after his first bowling session in the WACA nets.

Tremlett demolished Australia’s top order in Perth in 2010, with each of his eight wickets being recognised batsmen.

He then took 4-26 in the first innings of the Boxing Day Test as Australia was dismissed for just 98 runs. England won the MCG game by an innings and 157 runs inside four days.

But injury has taken its toll on Tremlett. He has played only five Tests since and didn’t play against Australia earlier this year.

At 32, he knows how important this series is for him.

”I have to concentrate on enjoying the times when I am fit,” he said. ”I am doing all I can here to do well and get back in to the team and I can try to do all I can to replicate what I did here last time.

”I came over to Australia not expecting to play in the first Test match [in 2010] and had to grab my place in the third Test.

”Personally I did well and contributed in the last two Tests to help to winning the Ashes. It’s great for me to get back into Test cricket. Unfortunately I have had a time away with injury, but it’s great to be back in Australia now and I have that experience from last time, so hopefully I can contribute if I do get back in the team …

”When you know how to bowl on these pitches and you’ve done well here, that’s obviously in my favour.”

The England team that will tackle WA has not been named yet.

While the battle for a bowling spot for the first Test is still alive, the batting line-up is set and coach Andy Flower is likely to give them a chance to spend some time on the bouncy WACA wicket.

England will be back in Perth for the Third Test starting on December 13.

Kevin Pietersen is expected to be available and played in the corresponding game in 2010 when he scored 58 in the first innings of England’s six-wicket victory.

Pietersen was a late arrival in to Perth this week. He was granted compassionate leave by the coaching staff to travel from England via South Africa after the recent death of a close friend.

He trained with the squad on Monday, which Tremlett said was a pleasing sign for the team.

”Yeah, it’s good to have him back. He’s been away for a couple of days but he’s in good spirits,” he said.

”We know he’s capable; he’s capable of taking any situation away from the opposition. We know how destructive he can be.”

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Marsh boys gear up for WA games

This week is an important one for WA’s Marsh brothers – Shaun and Mitch. They will represent Western Australia in separate games being played at the same time and both are desperate to perform – or at least get through unscathed.

Shaun takes the helm of the Warriors in the Shield opener against Victoria at the MCG, with an aim of pushing for Test selection for this summer’s Ashes series. Mitch will play for a WA XI against the visiting England side in a Tour Match at the WACA Ground. Both are coming off serious hamstring injuries that have hampered their careers.

Mitch is hoping he can follow his brother’s recovery. Shaun was in hot form in the recent Ryobi Cup tournament his month, averaging 76. He will be keen to perform in the longer form against the Bushrangers to give himself a chance of adding to his seven Test appearances.

Mitch say he has it in him and if Australia’s top order doesn’t perform early, the selectors are likely to give him a chance.

”I have no doubt the selectors will probably be looking at him. If he scores enough runs, there’s no reason why he can’t play Test cricket for Australia again.”

Shaun was dropped from the Australian side after a disappointing tour of India where in 2011-12 when he averaged just 2.83.

But he has shown that he is capable at the level. He averages 41 in Test matches, thanks mainly to a 141 and 81 in his first two innings, against Sri Lanka.

Promising all-rounder Mitch will play only as a batsmen against England. ”Obviously after missing an extended period time, I’m happy to playing any cricket,” he said.

”I have started bowling in the nets off a short run and if all goes to plan I hope to be playing as an all-rounder in a few weeks.”

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Footy on Sunday nights set for Seven

Sunday night footy will be a first for Seven. Photo: Mick TsikasSunday night television is set for a football revolution with the AFL to trial up to three prime-time games on Channel Seven for the first time in that timeslot in 2014.

The move means that next year’s home-and-away season will feature 7.40pm games on five of the seven week nights from Thursday night through until Monday night with the Sunday night fixture seen by the league as a long-term prospect – preferable and more practical than Monday night.

While the finishing touches are being administered to the 2014 schedule, Fairfax Media understands Collingwood should be involved in at least one of the Sunday night Channel Seven games with West Coast tentatively scheduled to play North Melbourne at Subiaco on Sunday night (Melbourne time), June 1, as part of Western Australia’s public holiday weekend.

Sunday night football has been regarded as an attractive proposition by the game’s governing body given the relative dearth of quality free-to-air programming on a night once regarded as a weekly ratings high point.

AFL clubs were warned in a recent meeting of the 18 chief executives to expect some experimental fixturing in 2014 with the introduction of two byes, the early start to the season and the need to combat rival football codes. Round one sees Carlton host Port Adelaide on the Sunday night of the Melbourne Grand Prix weekend although that game is expected to be shown on Fox Footy.

Both the Seven Network and the AFL remained tight-lipped on Monday about Sunday night football but it is believed at least two and potentially three of Seven’s 3.20pm Sunday games will be moved next season to 7.40pm. Neither Seven boss Lewis Martin nor AFL executive Simon Lethlean would comment on the new football timeslot, which will be unveiled on Thursday.

The AFL also looked at scheduling two Sunday twilight games at Geelong’s Simonds Stadium but at the Cats’ request reduced that to one – a round-16 clash between Geelong and the Western Bulldogs.

Seven had been unhappy in 2013 with the AFL’s move to feature blockbuster games on Fox Footy – notably the Collingwood-Richmond clash at the MCG in round-four and the Collingwood-Essendon game in round-19.

The two AFL broadcasters were still waiting for final confirmation of the breakdown of games on Monday, although Seven was understood to have been more satisfied with its allocation.

The free-to-air AFL broadcaster was also looking to expand its Friday night football telecast, bringing forward its pre-game coverage from 7.30 to 7pm, a move that will further encroach on the Friday radio audience.

While the Blues have again been handed a generous prime-time fixture of at least six Friday night games, along with two Thursdays and one Monday night clash, another big prime-time winner next season is North Melbourne, which is expected to feature in five Friday night games – two more than 2013 and four more than 2012.

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Grandma won the Cup, now it’s my turn

Cup dreams: Let’s Make Adeal with strapper Will Ford at Flemington. Photo: Joe ArmaoNigel Blackiston has got form when it comes to knowing what’s needed to prepare a Melbourne Cup winner: he was the man who led Let’s Elope off the float when she first arrived at Bart Cummings’ Melbourne stables in the winter of 1991 to be prepared for a Cups campaign by the master trainer.

Back then Blackiston was working in Cummings’ Melbourne operation and Let’s Elope was a little-known New Zealand galloper who had been bought by Dennis Marks. By the end of the spring of 1991 the mare had completed the Caulfield and Melbourne cups double, and Blackiston was well and truly bitten by the cups bug.

Fast forward more than two decades and the English-born horseman is a Flemington-based trainer – and he would like nothing more than to emulate the man from whom he learnt so much when he arrived in Australia in the late 1980s.

He believes that Let’s Make Adeal, a lightly raced grand-daughter of Let’s Elope, can put his name in the spotlight if she gets the chance to show what she can do in Australia’s greatest race where 41 horses remain on the entry list and she is number 40. Blackiston trains the four-year-old for Marks, and he believes that if she can squeeze into the field she will be more than competitive, especially as she will have the services of Cox Plate-winning jockey Chad Schofield in the saddle.

To force her way into the race the daughter of Red Ransom will have to win the Lexus Stakes on Saturday.

Horses who win the 2500-metre handicap are catapulted directly into the field and, even though they are backing up three days later in the Cup, Lexus winners have a terrific record: three of the past four (Kellini 2012, Maluckyday 2010 and Shocking 2009) have finished in the first four on the first Tuesday in November, with Shocking winning.

Blackiston has only ever had one previous Cup runner in his own name – Littorio, a dual group 1 winner who has been his best horse. He finished 13th behind Cummings’ last winner, Viewed, in 2008.

”It would be fantastic to get her in the field. I have only had her a while but I have always felt she would be a really good stayer. She has a tremendous pedigree being a grand daughter of Let’s Elope and I have several of her near relations in the stable – horses like Outback Joe, who is her uncle, her aunt Karata and Let’s Make Adeal’s half-brother, Heez Notorious,” says Blackiston.

”She does remind me a lot of Let’s Elope when she first came here. She had only won a maiden race and a group 3 race but improved tremendously in the spring of her four-year-old career as the distances got longer. This horse won a maiden for me and then was only beaten a head in a group 3 race in Adelaide in the autumn.”

It was that race at Morphettville – the 2500-metre SA Classic – that fired Blackiston’s Cup dream.

Many people thought he was tilting at windmills in early September when he ran Let’s Make Adeal at Flemington in the group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes against the likes of Puissance De Lune, Foreteller and Sea Moon. She ran out of her skin to finish fourth that day.

”I knew then that she would run a long distance. We have had to work hard to try and get her rating up during the spring to try to get into the good races. I initially wanted to get her into the Caulfield Cup, but she didn’t make the field. I know it’s a dream, but if she does get there on Cup day she won’t be disgraced. And if she doesn’t, well we will try again next year.”

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The young and the restless

They wanted to move back home, get a game, stop waiting and start over. ”Watch this space,” one player manager told The Age, after six players quit their clubs after one, two or three years. ”Check back in five years. In five years, it could be an epidemic.”

That was just 12 months ago. But by the end of the trade period, 12 players aged 21 or under had switched clubs, with the western Sydney-bound Jed Lamb to come. It seemed worth asking the question again: what’s going on with the kids?

Like last year, each player that wanted out had his own reasons. Some wanted to go home. Five were fleeing Brisbane. One, Dom Tyson, helped the Giants get their hands on the No.2 draft pick less than two years after they chose him at No.3. Sydney couldn’t match the offer put to Lamb.

Still, 13 is a lot. Are today’s young players, generally speaking, more impatient? Many managers think they are. ”It doesn’t matter where the player’s picked or which club they’ve been drafted to. When you sit down with them before the season and write down their goals, they all want to play senior footy. It’s no surprise that the biggest lure a club can offer is opportunity,” said Ned Guy.

”The other thing is, the kids all know each other. They’ve kept track of each other for years and they have a much bigger sense of how good they are, or where they fit in. If they’re seeing guys get games for GWS when they’re not, and their own form has been pretty good, they start wondering when their turn will come. A lot of them do want it to happen right now.”

There are other reasons. The savvy kids read all the pre-draft previews, said Tom Petroro, and start out with a far greater sense of their own value than they might have eight or nine years ago.

They’re growing up now in the world of free agency, watching older teammates take greater control of their own destinies and make decisions that money and success have a lot to do with.

”I think a lot of them are starting to look at the sport as a profession, from a young age,” said Petroro. ”They get more publicity, so they have a much stronger opinion on their own value and a much more commercial focus. They back themselves more. There’s a lot who are happier to sign a two-year deal because they’re confident, rather than take the security and get three years.

”They’re seeing other players move more easily and more frequently, as well. They’re more prepared to do it, whereas a player who’s 29 or 30 and born in an era when no one moved, finds it a really difficult thing to do.”

They have also become more sought after. Clubs have expressed their interest in getting some of his clients back, said Nick Gieschen, on the very night they have been drafted. He thinks clubs have started to chase young talent more aggressively, given how thoroughly Gold Coast and the Giants have dominated the last few drafts. And as Petroro points out, trading a good kid in at 20 means you could still get a lot of games from him.

”The value of a second-year player going into his third year has gone through the roof,” he said. ”You’re basically getting a whole career out of them. If you’re bringing in someone who could potentially play 10 more years, it’s a pretty good investment.”

Gieschen agrees. ”Interstate clubs have had a lot of the early picks in the last few years. More Victorian kids have gone interstate, so I think that’s one reason it seems like a lot of them are wanting to come home,” he said.

”I think the clubs are getting smarter, getting in contact earlier, and it works for a club like the Giants because they can trade these guys when their value is high and get some good picks back. It means a lot goes back onto the clubs that draft them – not to give them games they don’t deserve, but to pick the right ones, sell them the future and make them want to stay.”

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