June, 2019

Spin king Shane Warne endorses Nathan Lyon as Australia’s go-to bowling man

Shane Warne backs Nathan Lyon as the go-to man in Australia’s bowling line-up. Photo: Morne de KlerkAustralian cricket great Shane Warne has endorsed Nathan Lyon as “the first picked” in the Test side, describing the former ACT Comets spinner as one of the “most important” in the team and a “go-to man” for captain Steve Smith.
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Lyon celebrated his 50th Test in style, taking three wickets in the West Indies first innings as Australia demolished the visitors in Hobart to win by an innings and 212 runs.

Lyon is the most successful finger-spinner in Australian Test history and the only off-spinner to play 50 Tests.

But uncertainty has hovered over his position in the team for most of his career as Australia launched a search for a long-term successor to champion leg-spinner Warne.

Warne says the former Manuka Oval curator has finally put any questions about his role in the team to bed, and is adamant he will evolve now that he sits comfortably in the selection ranks.

“What a great story Nathan Lyon is. He had his knockers when he first came into the Australian side, but he’s nearly one of the first picked,” Warne said on Channel Nine.

“He’s nearly one of the most important players in the Australian side because if you didn’t have Nathan Lyon in that side, who else is there around the country?

“We’ve got some good young spinners, but [Lyon] is a go-to man for Steve Smith and he was for Michael Clarke. Just look at the Ashes series recently, [Clarke] threw the ball to [Lyon in seaming conditions. He can bowl in all conditions.”

Lyon has now claimed 175 wickets in his 50-Test career and will take his place in the line-up for the Boxing Day match at the MCG.

He is fifth on the all-time leading wicket-takers for Australian spinners, sitting behind Warne (708), Richie Benaud (248), Clarrie Grimmett (216) and Stuart MacGill (208).

Australia used 12 spinners in a wide-ranging search for a long-term successor to Warne when he retired in 2007.

Warne and former Australian wicket-keeper Ian Healy are united in the belief that Lyon now owns the mantle and will improve even more as the 28-year-old embraces selection certainty.

“He’s a good team man, his record is standing up and I reckon he’s getting more confidence because he feels like he’s part of the side, too,” Warne said.

“Every time he gets out to bowl, he’s not afraid to get the ball out there. The way he’s bowling at the moment is about as good as he’s ever bowled.]

“…[In the first-innings against the West Indies] he knew the team needed him to play a role and he did it.”

Lyon was scarcely used in the second innings on Saturday as Australia’s quicks tore through the West Indies batting line-up.

The Young junior bowled just four overs as Australia romped to an easy win.

But it was his first-innings performance that had Warne and Healy raving as he took three early wickets to trigger the West Indies’ collapse.

“For me, I was in and out of the side in 1991-92. At the Boxing Day Test match in 1992 I took 7-52 and then I knew I was in the team, after that you approach the game differently,” Warne said.

“You start thinking about how you’re going to bowl rather than am I getting a game. I think we’re seeing Nathan Lyon evolve now, a bit more expansive with his thinking.”

Healy added: “That’s really exciting, he’s in his 50th Test and he’s got such a wonderful platform that he’s laid. He’s got all that experimentation and freedom to perform … A very dependable cricketer.”

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Australian jockeys on show against the best at Hong Kong International Races day

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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The jockeys’ room at Sha Tin on Sunday may quite easily be mistaken for Randwick or Flemington as no less than nine Australian riders saddle up on Hong Kong International Races day.

There may be only a trio of horses – Preferment, Lucia Valentina and Criterion – flying the flag for Australia, but its jockeys are in demand with their reputations of being among the best in the world.

There is no disputing the king of Hong Kong is Brazilian Joao Moreira, who makes frequent trips to Australia for group 1s, but leading the chasers are Zac Purton and Brett Prebble, who sit second and third on the jockeys premiership.

“It is good to see the boys again,” Purton said. “We see quite a bit of each other these days because we are travelling more as jockeys but you notice there more Aussie boys around.

“There are four of us up here at the moment [on contract] and, out of nine of 10 western jockeys, it is a good number to have and shows how well thought of we are.

“Hong Kong racing in general is very similar to Australia, so it is easy for someone coming from home to fit in and adapt here. Whereas it can be tougher for the European jockeys because it is a completely different style for them.

“It is tough but I think most of the Aussies do well here because it is so tough and competitive at home.”

Chad Schofield and Nash Rawiller also have riding contracts in the former colony. Rawiller will ride Contentment, which is a rough hope of upsetting favourite Able Friend in the Hong Kong Mile, and a handful of jockeys have flown in for the International meeting.

“It’s a credit to our jockeys in Australia to have so many up here for this day,” said Tommy Berry, who has ridden with success in Hong Kong and is completing a contract in Japan. “People in Hong Kong are starting to see it and bring us here for more short-term contracts.

“There are more opportunities for all of us to ride internationally and I think it is because we really have a high level of competition at home.”

Berry has rides in each of the international races, three for John Moore, but he admits they are outsiders.

Hugh Bowman, who has also been in Japan for the past month, takes the ride on Preferment and has been picked up for several rides on the card, while Craig Williams reunites with Criterion, on which he won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes earlier in the year, in the Hong Kong Cup.

“He feels great and can measure up to this class again as he has shown in the past,” Williams said. “We went close last year [when third] but we need the breaks to go our way [from barrier 13].”

Damien Oliver has the seat on Lucia Valentina in the Hong Kong Cup and James McDonald has the ride on Japanese Cup contender Satono Aladdin.

If an Australian horse can’t lift one of the main prizes, the attention will turn to the jockeys and Purton believes he may be able to go one better than last year on Military Attack in the Cup after running second on him, beaten by a short head.

“He just got touch off in this race last year,” Purton said. “He always turns up on the big days and has been a fantastic horse over a couple of seasons.

“Although we won last time, I thought it was a bit of below par performance from what he can give. Caspar [Fownes] has targeted this race with him and I think he will lift.”

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Duo offering a coal for Christmas service

O Coal All Ye Faithful: Wollongong entrepreneur Luke Szalla is all generosity with a handful of coal this Christmas. Picture: Georgia MattsThe legend of getting coal for Christmas has a part in just about every country’s Yuletide lore.
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Be a good child or your stocking will have only coal in it, the threat would go.

Now a pair of Wollongong entrepreneurs is offering the black diamond, as it was once known, for delivery this Christmas, for just $19.95, via their online trading business.

At that price it might turn out to be one of the most expensive per-gramcoal purchases going, but business partnersRegan Kerr and Luke Szalla said the raw material is close to the least expensive of their inputs.

“The coal’s not the biggest cost at all,” Mr Kerr said.

“We wash it up real nice so it’s clean and shiny. We put it into a nice little display box, we wrap it and put a ribbon on top, then we pack it up and send it.”

Send it to your enemies, send it to your friends, and you can even sit back in the righteous knowledge you have contributed to a small piece of carbon capture and storage, saving the coal from being burned.

The business partners wereinspired by the “send your enemies glitter” campaign earlier this year, and when they saw some sellers delivering coal for Christmas in the US, they thought they could do it better.

Now they are filling orders coming from the US.

They initially found it difficult to find a supplier for their needs –miners would have a minimum order of 200 tonnes, and some online brokers wouldn’t respond for less than 30,000 tonnes.

But now they have a supply and business ispicking up for the Send Coal team.

When the Mercury caught up with Mr Kerr on Friday, he was delivering another load of coal to their temporary premises and preparing to wash it for sale.

He and Mr Szalla are friends from school and have become business partners, focusing on online trading. They also runan online breakfast smoothie sales business, Compleat.

But that has had to take a back seat while their Send Coal idea has its moment that must be seized.

“It’s a fun side project that’s taken over our lives,” Mr Kerr said.

Mr Szalla said with the coal being about 165 million years old, it was a present for the ages.

“Theoretically, you could put this on a displayshelf and admire the sedimentary remains of ancient vegetation for millions of years to come –the longevity is great,” Mr Szalla said.

“It’d be perfect to send to the officesof your favourite Coalition MP”.

Illawarra Mercury

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Qantas will no longer carry racing greyhounds on flights to Asia

Greyhounds sent to Macau are kept in poor conditions, says Animals Australia. Photo: ABC 7:30Exported greyhounds receive a “death sentence”: ABC 7:30 report
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Qantas will no longer carry racing greyhounds on flights to Asia in what animal activists say is a “win for gentle dogs facing certain death”.

The move follows revelations that greyhounds were being exported to Hong Kong and Macau. As many as 800 dogs were being kept in prison-like cells in Macau to replace those that had been culled and incinerated.

It means Australia’s two major carriers to Asia, Qantas and Cathay Pacific, will no longer carry racing greyhounds as freight.

The change of heart followed coverage last week by the ABC of an investigation by Animals Australia into the export of dogs to Hong Kong and Macau.

Australians have been exporting dogs to countries like Macau and China, an investigation by the ABC’s 7.30 program revealed.

The practice is not illegal but, without the required passports, it is against rules set out by Greyhounds Australasia.

Animals Australia said as many as 30 dogs a month – dogs that were too slow to race on Australian tracks – were being condemned to a death sentence, and being held in conditions that were “a blatant breach of the industry’s own rules”.

Animals Australia said the “game-changing decision” by Qantas was “a win for the gentle dogs exported to certain death each year” and for its “passionate and relentless supporters and caring community members who have been leaving no stone unturned to be a voice for these animals”.

In its expose, the organisation claimed more than 800 dogs were kept in squalid conditions in cages, dozens were destroyed every month, and one dog died on the track every day, animal rights advocates estimated, according to the report.

“For those dogs it’s actually a straight-out death sentence,” Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White said.

“The conditions are awful, it’s prison-like, barren cells, and in fact it really is like being exported to another country and put on death row,” she told 7.30.

Athough Qantas has not issued a formal announcement, it telegraphed the change in policy on social media on Friday night.

“We share your concerns about the disturbing story that appeared on the 7.30 Report earlier in the week,” Qantas said in response to inquiries about its policies, including by Animals Australia.

In a response, the carrier acknowledged that it had transported a small number of racing greyhounds to Asia.

“However in light of the story we have made the decision to no longer provide racing greyhound freight services to Asia.”

On Friday night, an animal activist on Twitter known as @Nez_animallover posted an image of dead greyhounds dumped in a mass grave and asked Qantas if it was true it was going to ban exports of racing greyhounds.

Qantas responded nearly immediately.  @Nez_animallover In light of the recent ‘7.30 Report’ story, we’ve decided to no longer provide racing greyhound freight services to Asia.— Qantas (@Qantas) December 11, 2015

The response on social media was overwhelmingly positive.

“Qantas thank you so much for refusing to export our wonderful greyhounds to a fate worse than death! Well done for taking the right stand, the only stand, to protect these dogs. Qantas – you are the BEST!” said one supporter on Facebook.

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