Monthly Archives: January 2019

Argus: we can still be No.1

Former BHP chairman Don Argus, whose landmark review of Australian cricket charted a course back to world domination. Photo: Nic WalkerEXCLUSIVE
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Don Argus, whose landmark review of Australian cricket charted a course back to world domination, says there is no quick fix for the problems laid bare in India, and implored selectors and administrators to ”hold their steel”.

Although largely supportive of Cricket Australia’s efforts to implement many of the recommendations in the Argus review of team performance, tabled in response to the 2010-11 Ashes disaster, the former BHP Billiton chairman cautioned against panic, expressed concern about the lack of emphasis on spin bowling in the coaching structure, and warned the schedule of the Big Bash League must not detract from Australia’s Test objectives.

In an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media, Argus said the report’s ultimate goal – to restore the Test team to No. 1 by 2015 – was ”absolutely” still achievable.

He said the harrowing results in India – defeats by eight wickets and an innings and 135 runs in the first two Tests – demonstrated how deep-seated Australia’s problems were to begin with.

”I think they have been quite bold in implementing a lot of the stuff and going down the recommendation path in the report,” Argus said. ”Everyone wants instant success … and the trouble when you go through a transition or succession phase is that impatience manifests itself into a bit of emotion.

”Up until this series, the guys have done pretty well in trying to unearth new talent and things like that. Everyone is going to have to hold their steel here to get the ultimate outcome, because if you start thrashing around in water then you drown, and up until now I think they’ve held it pretty well.

”I think India is probably the toughest environment of all to blood new talent and that’s what is happening over there.

”I’m not that despondent. I think it’s probably teaching the selectors a lot more about the strengths and weaknesses of the squad. I don’t think they could put together a better squad.

”They’ve tried a lot of people and you can add a few here and a few there, but they’ve gone about a process quite systematically that will

get us there in the end, but it was never going to be a short-term fix.”

Almost two years after the Argus report was released, its architect backed CA’s controversial injury management methods, and called on former players who criticised to ”give up their day jobs to offer their services to go and help”.

On selection, he said John Inverarity’s panel had, ”by and large”, adhered to his philosophy that dictated ”players must earn their positions in the time-honoured way of making runs, taking wickets and showing that they are ready to play at the next level”.

But he acknowledged the selection of Xavier Doherty for the second Test in India, after taking just two Sheffield Shield wickets at an average of 80 this season, was an exception.

”Selectors will sometimes make subjective judgments for whatever reason … I’m sure they can justify their selections. Up until probably that one [Doherty], they’ve stuck with what they’ve said they were going to do, and I think that has paid off for them,” Argus said.

”They’ve won in the West Indies, they’ve comprehensively won two series at home [against India and Sri Lanka, but also lost to No.1 team South Africa], and they go to the toughest environment in the world with an inexperienced side in those conditions, and it’s tough.”

Of the need to reduce the impact of the BBL on the Test summer, he said: ”If you deviate from your priorities, if you compromise on your plan … you’ll always get caught out. If Test cricket is the No.1 game, and we say it is, that’s the way it is.”

On coaching, Argus said there was scope for a dedicated spin coach on tour, a job currently performed by assistant coach and former wicketkeeper Steve Rixon. ”Whether they’ve got enough concentration on spin bowling is probably debatable … but if there’s a weakness, you’ve got to do something about helping to develop someone that can [address] that weakness.”

As Michael Clarke prepares to move up the order to paper over the batting woes, Argus said CA could only have prepared for the retirements of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey by resting star batsmen from the Test team, which would have provoked an even greater public outcry than rotating fast bowlers.

Argus said he had not given up on success in the Ashes this year and stands by the ambition of Australia returning to No.1 by 2015. ”I wouldn’t compromise on that at all. It’s like a five-year plan in a company – if you commit to something, you’ve got to get it, and all these players have committed to it.

”I don’t believe in blind faith. I believe in a lot of hard work, and it doesn’t come tomorrow. I think there’s a lot of effort going into getting this team to its goals. I’ve got great faith they will get to where they want to get to.

”Stay the course, but also recognise the challenges that are there. We tend to fall back into thinking we’ve still got this side with seven champions in it. Maybe that will come again, but that just doesn’t come overnight.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Continue reading

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UPDATE: Sharks up in arms with former trainer

Cronulla players and officials believe former head trainer Trent Elkin has informed the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency about the drug and supplements program which was in place during his time at the NRL club.
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Sources have told Fairfax Media that Elkin, who finished his tenure at the club last year to take up a position at Parramatta, met with ASADA recently. It is understood players and officials are furious at Elkin.

When contacted by Fairfax Media, Elkin refused to comment about any matter regarding his involvement with the Sharks.

Cronulla players are believed to be considering legal action if they are suspended for inadvertently taking performance-enhancing substances.

Up to 14 Sharks players are understood to have been offered six-month bans if they plead guilty to using prohibited drugs. But it is understood they argued that if they had taken drugs, they did so unknowingly. It is unclear whether former Cronulla players now at other clubs have been offered the same deal, which would save them from the usual two-year bans handed down to athletes testing positive to performance-enhancing drugs.

Fairfax Media has been told Sharks players were given Thymosin Beta 4 and CJC-1295 peptides during the 2011 season.

It is understood the products were not on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list at the time but both were included in the Australian Crime Commission report into doping and match fixing under the heading “Performance and Image Enhancing Substances”.

If the players were to be suspended, Fairfax Media was told the players might sue the club, claiming to have been told the substances were legal. A source told Fairfax Media the players could claim the Sharks had a duty of care for them while they were employed by the club.

If they were suspended for six months, the players would not only miss the majority of this season but there was a risk their long-term careers would be severely damaged. The players would also lose 50 per cent of their contract money for the year as Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority guidelines prevent the payment to athletes suspended for drugs use.

Cronulla officials will also come under scrutiny over the decision to hire controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank and the level of autonomy he was given at the club.

Dank is at the centre of the ASADA investigation into AFL club Essendon and similar allegations about the use of peptides by their players and has been interviewed twice by the ACC. He has denied any wrongdoing, and Fairfax Media has been told there are allegations against another member of the Sharks’ off-field staff over the use of performance-enhancing substances by players.

The ACC report described CJC-1295 as a growth hormone releasing peptide and “one of the principal peptides identified by the ACC and ASADA as being misused in both professional sports and the broader population”.

Thymosin Beta 4 is used to aid injury recovery and is described in the ACC report as “not regulated”. It is used extensively for performance enhancement in horses.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan shut the media out of training on Wednesday and could not be contacted afterwards.

However, it is understood he does not anticipate any changes to the side he named on Tuesday to host Gold Coast in Sunday night’s opening round fixture.

A statement posted on the Cronulla website on Wednesday night said the club was fully assisting with the ASADA investigation.

“Sharks fans and all rugby league supporters can be assured the club has been very proactive in fully co-operating with ASADA and taking other measures that prioritise the integrity of our club and the welfare of our playing group,” the statement said. “While there are strict boundaries around what we can say while the ASADA investigation is ongoing, fans should be assured that as soon as there is an opportunity to provide further information we will do so.”

– SMH

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Corby’s lack of compliance threatens to extend her sentence

Schapelle Corby’s lack of compliance in prison is threatening to extend her sentence after jail governor Ngurah Wiratna appeared to publicly lose patience with her yesterday.
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Prisoners rely on the governor to commend them for good behaviour when twice-yearly cuts in their sentences are handed out.

But when Corby, who was convicted of smuggling of smuggling 4.1kg of marijuana into Bali in 2004, failed to turn up to an event held by the Governor in Kerobokan prison on Wednesday afternoon, he called her out by name.

Mr Wiratna had ordered all able-bodied prisoners into the yard to address them on the subject of “zero mobile phones, zero bribes, and zero drugs”. Of the 130 female prisoners, only three neglected to turn up — two because of ill health, and Corby.

To media after his speech, Mr Wiratna said: “If a prisoner neglects their duty [to be involved in prison activities] they can forget about their rights”.

“One Indonesian female prisoner was sick, which was confirmed by the doctor. [British death row grandmother] Lindsay Sandiford claimed she didn’t feel well … Corby didn’t show up and she had no clear reason.”

“Prisoners can’t just ask for their rights when they never join or show up for prison activities,” Mr Wiratna continued. “It will all be taken into account.”

In the Indonesian system, remissions of sentences are given twice a year — two months at Christmas (for Christians) and up to six months at Indonesia’s Independence day in August. For Corby, if the governor recommends full remissions and they are accepted, it could cut two years off her sentence, allowing her out in 2015 rather than 2017.

Ms Corby is also now eligible for parole, but has not yet applied for it because of uncertainty over what her immigration status would be.

But Mr Wiratna even appeared to threaten that.

“Parole is not up to me, but the parole team will take into account how active a prisoner is at joining prison programs, their behaviour and so on.”

Corby is notorious for avoiding the public gaze. She rarely leaves the women’s block, and has not for a number of years engaged in prison activities where there is a danger of a member of the public or media seeing her. She is rarely, if ever, seen in the visiting room.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Continue reading

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Behaviour putting Corby at risk of longer sentence

Schapelle Corby’s lack of compliance in prison is threatening to extend her sentence after jail governor Ngurah Wiratna appeared to publicly lose patience with her on Wednesday.
Shanghai night field

Prisoners rely on the governor to commend them for good behaviour when twice-yearly cuts in their sentences are handed out.

But when Corby, who was convicted of smuggling 4.1 kilograms of marijuana into Bali in 2004, failed to turn up to an event held by the governor in Kerobokan prison on Wednesday afternoon, he called her out by name.

Mr Wiratna had ordered all able-bodied prisoners into the yard to address them on the subject of “zero mobile phones, zero bribes, and zero drugs”. Of the 130 female prisoners, only three neglected to turn up – two because of ill health, and Corby.

Mr Wiratna told the media after his speech: “If a prisoner neglects their duty [to be involved in prison activities] they can forget about their rights.

“One Indonesian female prisoner was sick, which was confirmed by the doctor. [British death row grandmother] Lindsay Sandiford claimed she didn’t feel well . . . Corby didn’t show up and she had no clear reason.

“Prisoners can’t just ask for their rights when they never join or show up for prison activities,” Mr Wiratna said. “It will all be taken into account.”

In the Indonesian system, remissions of sentences are given twice a year — two months at Christmas (for Christians) and up to six months at Indonesia’s Independence day in August. For Corby, if the governor recommends full remissions and they are accepted, it could cut two years off her sentence, allowing her out in 2015 rather than 2017.

Corby is also now eligible for parole, but has not yet applied for it because of uncertainty over what her immigration status would be.

But Mr Wiratna even appeared to threaten that.

“Parole is not up to me, but the parole team will take into account how active a prisoner is at joining prison programs, their behaviour and so on.”

Corby is notorious for avoiding the public gaze. She rarely leaves the women’s block, and has not for a number of years engaged in prison activities where there is a danger of a member of the public or media seeing her. She is rarely, if ever, seen in the visiting room.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Continue reading

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McCabe confident on return

Pat McCabe at Brumbies training on Wednesday. He will make his comeback from a neck injury on Thursday night. Photo: Jay CronanPat McCabe is adamant his hard-nosed crash-and-bash style will not be affected by the broken neck that threatened to end his career.
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But as he prepares to make his return to rugby on Thursday night, McCabe admits he contemplated an early retirement when doctors told him he had fractured his C1 vertebra last November.

A world away from the Test arena and the Wallabies’ loss to France, McCabe will make a low-key return to action when he plays for the ACT XV against Tonga A at Viking Park.

It’s the first step in his journey back to the ACT Brumbies line-up and into the Wallabies squad. Three times a week he spends in gym sessions wearing a ”horrendous looking mask” and chains around his neck in a bid to strengthen his muscles.

In his first three seasons of Super Rugby, the 24-year-old built his game on being one of the most tenacious players in the competition, willing to put his body on the line to save the team.

More often than not he leaves the field bloodied and bruised. And while there’s a neck brace at the bottom of his cupboard to remind him of how close it was to ending, McCabe will not change his approach.

”I really do think this has given me a greater appreciation of what it’s like to play and how good we’ve got it as rugby players,” McCabe said.

”Physically, I feel as good as I’ve ever felt and it will take me a couple of weeks to get back into rugby, but it’s just good to be around,” he said.

”I guess it’s just about getting that confidence back and I expect to perform reasonably well, I’ve been training pretty hard. I’ve taken a few knocks on [my neck] at training, nothing changes and hopefully we get through and everything is fine.”

McCabe’s no stranger to pain. He played the entire 2011 season with a broken shoulder and continued to push through the pain barrier to help the Wallabies in their World Cup campaign before having reconstruction surgery.

McCabe is in line to be part of the Brumbies 26-man touring squad to South Africa if he gets through his comeback match unscathed.

The next challenge is fitting him into the team; McCabe plays inside-centre for the Wallabies, but is also capable of playing wing or fullback.

He will play fullback in his comeback match.

Because of the seriousness of his injury, the Brumbies and McCabe don’t want to risk any further problems if he’s not 100 per cent.

He first felt pain at the back of his neck after getting hit in a ruck in the Wallabies’ clash with France last year. He trained the next week, but when the pain increased doctors sent him for scans and he was immediately put in a neck brace.

He wore the brace every day for two months, getting rashes on his neck. He wasn’t allowed to drive and lost 10 kilograms. Slowly he has increased his training load with the Brumbies and has resumed full contact sessions.

But he spends time alone in the gym building strength in his neck to ensure he doesn’t suffer any setbacks.

”Until you get some knocks and bumps on it, that’s when you get the confidence back,” McCabe said.

”The uncertainty surrounding it was pretty tough. But when I was in the neck brace they said if I did everything right it would heal well, so it was a matter of doing the time.

”I probably had a few moments where I thought about what I would have to do if I didn’t play again, but everyone was confident.”

THURSDAY: ACT XV v TONGA A at Viking Park, 4.30pm: ACT XV: 1. Ruaidhri Murphy, 2. Robbie Abel, 3. Ruan Smith, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 5. Leon Power, 6. Jordan Smiler, 7. Colby Faingaa, 8. Tim Cree, 9. Mark Swanepoel, 10. Zack Holmes, 11. Stephan Van Der Walt, 12. Rodney Iona, 13. Jordan Rapana, 14. Tom Cox, 15. Pat McCabe. Reserves: 16. Josh Mann-Rea, 17. Ray Dobson, 18. Les Makin, 19. Gareth Clouston, 20. Ben McGee, 21. Beau Mokotupu, 22. Sam Windsor, 23. Andrew Barrell.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Continue reading

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