Category Archive: 南京夜网

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New Year’s Eve extravaganza in Sydney was a head trip for artist Reg Mombassa

A tired but relieved Reg Mombassa has admitted letting millions of people around the world peer ”inside” his head as part of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve extravaganza was a somewhat nervy experience.
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The short fireworks show, between the main fireworks at 9pm and midnight, was based on Mombassa’s work Cranium Universe and depicted the inner workings of the artist’s brain as a group of planets and stars.

”It’s about the idea that every human perceives the world and the universe at large in their own head, really,” he says. ”It’s an illusion in some respects although I do believe that reality exists.”

The centrepiece of Mombassa’s contribution to the night was the unveiling of a single blinking eye on the Harbour Bridge gazing down on the 1.5 million revellers.

”Eyes are interesting,” he said. ”Everyone is fascinated by eyes. The first thing you look at in a face is the eye. Also with the harbour setting, the eye is like a watery harbour in the landscape of the face as well as being the window to the soul – and the soul is theoretically a fairly deep piece of work.”

Mombassa’s characteristic absurdist artwork was seen all around the city on hundreds of 4.5-metre banners as well as on the sides of buses and on thousands of posters before the event.

”I really appreciated being asked to do it,” he said. ”There are hundreds of artists who would have liked to have a crack at it. I really appreciated having a wider audience for my stuff.”

Mombassa, who was involved in the 2000 Olympic closing ceremony, said New Year’s Eve 2013 was a career highlight, but he was not expecting a repeat performance for 2014. ”I think it’s a one-shot job, really. I probably could do it again but I’m not sure I’d want to. Someone else should do it; you shouldn’t hog something like that.”

Art critic John McDonald is not entirely convinced about the artistic merit of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve spectacle – despite the input this year from Mombassa.

”He’s a recognised artist and a very versatile figure,” he said. ”Whether that gives the whole spectacle more integrity, I think that’s really in the eye of the beholder. I don’t think you can analyse fireworks very deeply.”

McDonald was surprised at Mombassa’s role, describing him as an ”intimate artist”. ”He does very lyrical and quirky things, but usually it’s on a pretty small scale. It was kind of strange to see him dragged up into the spotlight.” He also said the pressure to keep making the fireworks bigger and better would only become more intense each year.

Former Sydney Festival director Leo Schofield agreed. ”You’ve always got to do something as good as your last,” he said. ”There’s always this urge to do something novel and new, and a public expectation that should be such.”

Schofield was not present at Tuesday night’s celebrations but had a more liberal approach to the artistic merits of the display.

”I think they are a great celebratory and ceremonial thing,” he said. ”Once upon a time, they were works of art. Great historical celebrations have always been marked by fireworks.”

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TonyAbbott meets Ashes cricketers

Welcome: Margie and Tony Abbott say hello to Australia captain Michael Clarke. Photo: Anthony Johnson After 41 days of hostilities, sledging on and off the pitch and a war of attrition, the Australian and English cricket teams look to have settled their differences – for the time being.
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott welcomed the touring party and victorious Australian squad to his temporary residence at Kirribilli and made his best effort at breaking the ice following England’s tumultuous summer.

”Under a gorgeous Australian sky, beside the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour, I think we can safely say we’ve got the English cricket team exactly where we want them,” Mr Abbott joked.

Cricketers always say they like to leave the unpleasant stuff on the field and share a beer after the game. This was not quite the case on Wednesday. Stuart Broad had a cup of tea, Joe Root a lemon, lime and bitters, and Mitchell Johnson, the most menacing of them all, just a sparkling mineral water.

Children descended on to Mr Abbott’s adopted backyard, overlooking the harbour, and played with their joyful fathers. For players and their families, it was a lovely way to forget about leather and willow for a few hours.

The whitewash Australia will be looking to inflict on their colonial birthparents is not dissimilar to the drubbing Mr Abbott gave Kevin Rudd in September.

Oh, how times can change. At a time when Mr Rudd was thrashed into retirement, just like Graeme Swann at the WACA Ground, both England and Mr Abbott were at the height of their power. Well-drilled, thorough and ostensibly unflappable. It seemed unfathomable a few months ago that Mr Abbott could be down in the polls. It seemed absolutely unthinkable that Cook, Root, Pietersen and Bell would not score a hundred Down Under. As they say, cricket can be a funny game, and by the state of our man in charge, politics too.

For Mr Abbott, his first 105 days in power have been as slow as the English cricket team’s run rate this summer. With the new year upon us, he too will be aiming for more victories in the new year.

His message to Cook that the English need not worry about the past is reminiscent of his own political mantra for the new year. Mr Abbott and Cook need to be prepared for the future more than anyone. The PM’s Medicare dilemmas and abolition of the carbon tax combined with Cook’s wearing top order pose some difficult problems for two successful and proven leaders gripped in the midst of their toughest hour.

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Wellington seal comeback win

Wanderers to be sold as Primo boss achieves coveted goal
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Barely three weeks ago, Wellington Phoenix weren’t just winless but hopeless. Winning at Parramatta Stadium would have seemed a fanciful prospect.

Indeed, when the Phoenix trailed 1-0 after Mark Bridge’s flick, you could have picked up triple-figure odds on the visitors scoring three times in the next 20 minutes.

Now the Phoenix, instead of being doomed to a wooden-spoon battle with Melbourne Heart, are equal on points with seventh-placed Adelaide. Finals are back on their agenda.

This was a victory engineered in the dugout as much as on the pitch. Ernie Merrick, once derided for his blunt tactics at Melbourne Victory, had to work out a way to turn the match in his favour once they fell behind on the hour mark.

The introduction of Tyler Boyd – a 19-year-old forward without an A-League goal to his name – was a cunning masterstroke.

Boyd scored one, set up another and combined with Stein Huysegems to shred the seemingly impenetrable Wanderers rearguard.

It was the first time an away team has  scored three goals at Parramatta Stadium, and the first time the Wanderers have been beaten on home soil all season.

They’ve now taken five points from the Wanderers in three games. That’s not to be sniffed at – nor is the fact that of the six goals scored by away teams at the venue in this campaign, the Kiwis have bagged four of them.

Some will be tempted to point the finger at Wanderers coach Tony Popovic for aggressively rotating his squad again. He made no fewer  than six changes to the starting team that drew 1-1 at Melbourne Victory.

There’s merit to that point but the real truth is  once they went ahead, they relaxed. All three goals came down the right-hand side as sloppy organisation opened holes.

While the sides were poles apart  going into the match – second-top versus  second-bottom – there didn’t appear much of a class gulf early.  However, the Wanderers did squander a couple of good early chances as Bridge headed over and Aaron Mooy’s volley troubled Glen Moss but neither troubled the scorer.

The Wanderers looked at their best down the right, where the hard work of Jerome Polenz and Youssouf Hersi was rewarded by Shinjo Ono’s vision, continually exploiting Kenny Cunningham’s inferior work rate. At times, left-back Manny Muscat was having to mind two or more of them without support.

Ono very nearly scored on the brink of half-time when his well-timed header appeared goal-bound, only to strike the underside of the crossbar.

Luck aside, Wellington’s work through the middle was keeping them in the contest. Spaniard Albert Riera brought a rhythmic motion to holding midfield while Jason Hicks showed glimpses as a No.10 before being changed for Matthew Ridenton at half-time.

He was beaten to the bench by Louis Fenton, who dislocated his shoulder in what could be the third bad injury in a week for the Phoenix. In the 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart, Paul Ifill snapped his Achilles  and Carlos Hernandez suffered a fractured wrist.

The bad news was made even worse as the Wanderers broke through to score the first of the evening. A delightful three-way move involving Hersi, Ono and Bridge ended with the latter being put through on goal.

Moss raced out to Bridge but the former Sydney forward was able to tap the ball over the keeper with the edge of his toe.

Merrick’s answer to falling behind was to turn to young Boyd in a decision that changed the match.

Most of the 14,151 fans were  stunned as Huysegems wriggled his way to the byline before poking across goal to Boyd, who was in the right place to prod home.

But the Phoenix weren’t done yet, nor was their big Belgian. Sensing the game was up for grabs, he outmuscled Mooy and  went one on one against Nikolai Topor-Stanley. Huysegems had feigned one way and then the other before placing a superb shot into the far corner.

By now the hosts were reeling and had  lost their shape. The Phoenix had the audacity to chase a third, and who else but Boyd and Huysegems combined to put an exclamation mark on the biggest upset of the season.

WELLINGTON PHOENIX 3 (Tyler Boyd 68m, Stein Huysegems 78m, 83m) bt WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 1 (Mark Bridge 62m) at Pirtek Stadium. Crowd: 14,151. Referee: Lucien Laverdue.

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Chris Waller’s Permit steals Travolta’s big moment at Randwick

Outside chance: Blake Shinn rode Permit (No.2) to victory in the Tatersalls Club Cup. He was later suspended. Photo: Anthony JohnsonChris Waller’s Sydney staying arsenal again left a sour taste in the mouth of the Gai Waterhouse camp after Permit gunned down tearaway leader Travolta in the Tattersalls Club Cup on Wednesday.
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Six days after I’m Imposing fought back to beat Travolta in the group 3 Summer Cup on Boxing Day, this time it was Permit’s turn to steal a stakes success from Tulloch Lodge in the listed feature at Randwick.

It was the seven-year-old’s second straight black-type success, capping a remarkable return to form after winning the Christmas Cup on the Kensington track last month. Permit was a one-time Sydney Cup favourite, but badly lost his form last season before Waller weaved his magic again.

Waller will toy with starting Permit, which was forced to do the donkey work lugging the field up behind Travolta, in the Australia Day Cup over the same course and distance.

”We won’t be setting him for The BMW or anything like that during the carnival, we’ll just take one race at a time,” Waller said. ”[I’ll] try to talk the handicapper into not giving him too much weight. He has done his job, but what do you do? Do you wait and he might come back and find it tough? Or there’s the Australia Day Cup over 2400 metres, where we might have a few going for that.”

Joe Pride’s Destiny’s Kiss was favourite at $2.10 in the Tattersalls Club Cup, but couldn’t reel in the leading pair after having every chance from near the back of the field. Despite stumbling out of the gates, Adam Hyeronimus whisked Travolta to the lead and he opened up a big mid-race break while Permit led the chasing brigade.

But Hyeronimus was again left with that sinking feeling after Permit collared Waterhouse’s runner in the shadow of the winning post. It was Waller’s second straight win in the headline act on New Year’s Day after Moriarty won the corresponding race last year.

”He just keeps rolling and doesn’t give in,” Waller said of Permit. ”It was a classic English staying race and I guess you can say he just outstayed them. You could say he had a pacemaker out in front which kept giving him something to chase. It didn’t fall off at the 400-metre mark and it kept him honest all the way to the line.

”He’s just a perfect gentleman [at home]. We don’t have a stable pony – we’re one of the few stables that don’t – but he might be putting his hand up one day.”

Added jockey Blake Shinn: ”You’ve just got to take your hat off to Chris. [Permit] has got that spark back in him. A couple of preparations ago he took all before him in the staying ranks and he might win a really good race this autumn over a staying distance. We found a great rhythm and when it got into a dogfight he was there for me.”

Hyeronimus lamented Travolta’s slow start and the big weight of 59 kilograms as the five-year-old fell a short neck shy of his second listed win of the summer.

”He’s not jumping really clean, which probably isn’t helping,” he said. ”He’s giving me a bit to do to get to the front. He rolled along nice and picked up well at the 600 [metres]. He’s getting found out a little bit with the weight, and the blinkers can probably come off now over the 2400 [metres].”

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Federer eases into quarter-finals

Roger Federer is enjoying life in the fast lane in Brisbane as he laps up the type of speedy playing surface he has been advocating for years.
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But how well it prepares him for the more-sluggish Australian Open venues remains to be seen, although the world number six said he always preferred to go from fast to slow, rather than be ambushed with a lightning surface at the start of a major tournament.

The top seed began his summer with a crisp 6-4 6-2 victory over Finnish journeyman Jarkko Nieminen on Pat Rafter Arena on Wednesday night and was quick to praise the slick courts, which amplify his natural attacking game and ability to end points as early as possible.

It was more than enough to keep good friend and tour veteran Nieminen reaching, with Federer warming into the contest on the back of nine aces and pinpoint power from the baseline.

The Swiss great has long been an outspoken supporter of faster playing surfaces in an era where many of the hard courts have been tamed, greatly aiding the defence of some of Federer’s greatest rivals.

Federer remains a fundamentally aggressive player and while slower courts make for longer rallies – pleasing fans and organisers – he’s come to believe the balance of power has been shifted too far in favour of noted scramblers like Novak Djokovic, who return the previously unreturnable.

“It’s an easy fix. Just make quicker courts, then it’s hard to defend,” Federer said after a loss to Djokovic in the ATP finals in London two years ago. “Attacking style is more important. It’s only on this type of slow courts that you can defend the way we are all doing right now.”

Brisbane seems to get his tick of approval, with Federer just one of the players noting the relative increase in pace on the plexicushion courts that have been baking in the Queensland heatwave.

Melbourne Park is played on the same surface but it tends to be notably slower. Federer won three of his four Australian Open titles on the faster Rebound Ace surface before it was controversially reolaced in 2008.

“It depends how Melbourne is going to be playing but I prefer to go from fast to slower because then you usually return better,” Federer said on Wednesday night.

“I like it a bit faster, to be honest.  It’s just nice when the slider drags a bit or the slice stays a bit lower and guys don’t just eat it up, even though it’s a decent slice. So I think it’s a good thing that it’s a bit faster here.”

The pace of the surface will certainly play into Federer’s hands in Brisbane, where he is the top seed and hot favourite to collect the title in his maiden appearance.

At 32 and coming off his first season since 2002 where he didn’t add to his exorbitant tally of 17 Grand Slams, Federer is seeking every advantage he can get as he tries to stay in touch with the new group of faces now dominating the mens game.

Quicker surfaces would help, as may new coach Stefan Edberg, the Swedish serve-and-volley ace who will join his coaching staff in Mebourne after spending time in Federer’s camp in Dubai.

After a six-week break – a long one for Federer – the early signs were promising. He was pleased with his matter-of-fact disposal of Nieminen, a win that sets up a quarter-final with Australian Marinko Matosevic, who defeated American Sam Querrey earlier in the day.

The key facets of his game, the serve, the forehand, the net play, appear to be in good working order as he takes another step towards the opening Slam of the year.

“Tonight you come out of it and think, ‘Okay, I’ve been serving okay, my forehand is going well, my movement is okay, I’m seeing the ball okay, I’m getting used to the conditions’,” Federer said.

“I expect myself to play a bit better in the next match, even though today was already very good for a first match in so many weeks, to be honest, and against Nieminen who can play very good tennis.”

In the other result late on Wednesday night, women’s second seed and world number two Victoria Azarenka had an easy time of things against Australia’s Casey Dellacqua, advancing after a 6-3 6-1 victory.

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England deems practice too hard

Its batting has been streets behind Australia’s and it has been terrorised by Mitchell Johnson this summer, but England has snubbed an opportunity to iron out its problems ahead of Friday’s fifth Test.
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While Australian captain Michael Clarke and most of his top six had a hit-out in the SCG nets on Wednesday, their opponents’ pre-match practice was restricted to a fielding session on the ground.

Down 4-0 in the Ashes series, and having been blown away by Australia again in Melbourne due to another poor batting performance, England has not picked up a bat since. ”I don’t think they’re in a great place to be perfectly honest,” said Australian vice-captain Brad Haddin.

”I think you can probably tell a bit of that in their fielding the other day. I think that’s the first thing to go when you’re struggling a bit. All the team stuff, all the one-percenters, they’re the first things to go.

”The batting and bowling is an individual thing, but I think the team stuff looked like it was breaking a bit the other day.”

England’s fielding reached a new low with captain Alastair Cook as guilty as anyone. He dropped a at first slip on the fourth and final day of the Boxing Day Test on the weekend. It followed another chance that Cook dropped after wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow failed to move.

Yet it is England’s failures with the bat that have been most damaging, clearing the way for Australia to dramatically turn around a

10-month period in which it had not won a Test. Only twice in eight innings has England managed to pass 300 in total and Australia boasts the top five run-scorers in the series, with Kevin Pietersen scraping into sixth place with 285 runs at an average of 35.62.

Australia’s eight hundreds for this Ashes campaign are matched by only one from England – an admirable maiden century by all-rounder Ben Stokes in Perth.

And the tourists’ shortcomings have not only been in the ranks of their specialist batsmen. While Australia’s lower order has produced important partnerships and got it out of trouble on several occasions, there has been little or no resistance to the onslaught led by Johnson on the England tail.

It lost 5-6 to be rolled for 179 in its second innings at the MCG, squandering its best chance of a win in this series.

But Haddin was reluctant to criticise Cook and the England leadership on Wednesday. ”It’s not my place to judge how Alastair runs his team. We have to make sure our own backyard is in order,” he said. ”I’m not concerned about moves he makes … it’s hard enough making sure we’re up for every game.”

Asked why England did not bat, its emerging leg-spinner Scott Borthwick said: ”No reason whatsoever. We just had a nice run around, a bit of catching and worked on our skills.”

The 23-year-from Durham was a mid-tour addition to the squad after the shock retirement of Graeme Swann before the fourth Test and is tipped to make his debut in Sydney. He disputed the perception that England is in disarray.

”The lads are sticking together,” Borthwick said. ”Like I say, we had a great fielding session and our energy was fantastic. We were running around taking great catches and everyone was patting each other on the back. The spirit is brilliant. We’re trying our best to get a good win in Sydney.”

As for Australia, Ryan Harris (knee) and Shane Watson (groin) did not train on Wednesday – Harris and fellow fast bowlers Johnson and Peter Siddle had a pool session instead – but there was optimism that they would be fit for Friday. If they are cleared, the other possible change to the XI is a recall for all-rounder James Faulkner in place of George Bailey.

”We would love to have the same group go out that we did at the start of the tour and if they are right to go, they deserve to come out in this fifth Test,” Haddin said.

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Federer a coup for Brisbane

Before Roger Federer hit his first match ball on Pat Rafter Arena this week, he had cuddled koalas, posed at scenic Kangaroo Point, joined Rod Laver as the special guest at an intimate $1000-a-plate dinner, met a starstruck Sally Pearson and her fellow Olympic gold medallists Libby Trickett and Natalie Cook, and pretty much charmed everyone in sight.
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The Federer Show. Brisbane’s debut episode.

”The hurdler in particular, I think she was very excited meeting me,” said the 17-time grand slam champion in that way that can sound so arrogant but is usually just, well, actually how it is.

And Pearson, certainly, has been in good company. However much it cost to help lure Federer to Brisbane for the first time since he was a 14-year-old on a family holiday, it was money well spent.

”Roger transcends tennis. He’s a global brand and he’s the most popular player of all time,” says Brisbane tournament director Cameron Pearson.

”The anecdotal evidence that we’ve seen, and the feedback that we’ve been given, is that so many people that haven’t been interested in the sport are now interested in the sport and are coming to the event and want to pick up racquets. It’s quite incredible really.”

After a first-round bye, the top-seeded world No.6 played his opening singles match against Finn Jarkko Nieminen on Wednesday night, but the value-adding doubles idea was his own, and Wimbledon marathon man Nicolas Mahut the lucky invitee after a quick ringaround on arrival.

The fact that the pair beat top seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in Tuesday’s opening round was a bonus, and not just for a veteran thirsty for early-season matchplay. ”He [Federer] said, ‘Do you mind if I play doubles’? I was, ‘You can do anything you want’. Do I mind?” laughs Pearson (not the hurdler).

”He just wants to play a lot of matches here in Australia and the weather has been very kind to us, so he’s getting out and getting acclimatised.

”The reality is he needs to play matches, he needs to play somewhere, and he wanted to play somewhere new and maybe somewhere that’s a little bit warmer [than the Middle East in January], and I guess Brisbane provides that for him.”

All of which represents the culmination of a determined recruiting drive that began in March 2011, and ended when the man who has spent more weeks at No.1 than any other landed safely – and, apparently, looking and acting as if he had disembarked from a five-minute limo ride rather than a long-haul flight from Dubai – on Saturday with pregnant wife Mirka and twins Charlene and Myla among a relatively modest entourage.

Federer, 32, had played in every Australian tournament besides this one during his career, and Pearson’s persistent negotiations with Federer’s long-time agent, Tony Godsick, finally paid off in June. It is a complex, expensive deal that is speculated to be worth close to the million dollars that the Swiss has reportedly been paid to play in Doha in past seasons.

No one is talking numbers, though, preferring to make this all about the legend who came to town, showed all the grace, warmth and class expected of the sport’s greatest ambassador, stroked a few co-operative marsupials, sold a lot of tickets, and is now into the business of hitting as many balls as he can manage before the year’s first grand slam starts on Monday week in Melbourne.

”Roger hasn’t played much in Australia outside of Melbourne in the last 10 years, so this is very rare,” says Pearson, quietly hoping that the first visit is not the last.

”So many people have said to me, ‘we want to see Roger Federer play before we see the back of him’, I guess. Hopefully that’s not for a few years and this is one of those opportunities.”

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Panesar calf strain opens door for Borthwick

England spinner Monty Panesar has strained his calf at training, strengthening the claim of Scott Borthwick to make his Test debut at the SCG.
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Panesar will be assessed on Thursday, but it is believed England is set to call up 23-year-old Durham leg-spinner Borthwick as it looks to avoid a 5-0 whitewash.

It is not the first time England has looked to blood a young slow bowler in a dead-rubber Ashes Test, after Simon Kerrigan made his debut in the fifth Test at the Oval in August. The match ended in a draw but Kerrigan was slaughtered by the Australian batsmen – going for 53 runs from his only 48 balls in Test cricket.

Kerrigan hasn’t been seen since, with Borthwick instead called into the England squad following the retirement of Graeme Swann before the Melbourne Test.

Borthwick had a stint with Sydney first-grade side Northern Districts and was about to fly home when the call came.

Australian vice-captain Brad Haddin played alongside him for Northern Districts earlier in the summer and said Borthwick could expect a stern test.

”No doubt [we’ll get after him],” he said. ”It’d be an exciting time for him, but interesting to see how we approach him.”

Australia belted Swann in the first three Tests and Panesar was largely ignored in the Melbourne match – with captain Alastair Cook opting to bowl part-timer Joe Root ahead of him during Australia’s second innings.

But Borthwick said he welcomed the challenge.

”I’ll try and spin the ball and give it my best shot,” said Borthwick, who regards Shane Warne as his inspiration.

Borthwick is a born-and-bred Englishman, but that hasn’t stopped one Sydney family from claiming the budding leg-spinner as an ”honorary Australian”.

It might be a stretch for Australia to lay any dibs on the 23-year-old with the thick Geordie accent, but the local system can at least claim some credit for his rise.

As recently as the weekend before Christmas, Borthwick was plying his trade with Northern Districts in Sydney’s grade competition, before Swann’s shock retirement left the spinner on the verge of making his Test debut.

Borthwick is no stranger to Australia, having played a season in Adelaide’s grade scene and also spent time at the city’s Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy, where he received tutelage from Warne and Stuart MacGill.

Add that to the six first-grade games he has played with Northern Districts and that is enough for the club president to label him one of ours. ”I’d call him an honorary Australian and a decent Pom too,” Mike Langford said.

No matter how thorough Australia’s dossier is on Borthwick, few here would know him better than Langford, whose family has played host to him during his Sydney stint.

Borthwick was at the club’s Christmas party and due to fly home to prepare for the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka when he received a phone call from coach Andy Flower telling him to scrap those plans – he was needed with the senior squad rather than England’s development team.

Borthwick’s numbers with Northern Districts – 11 wickets at an average of 35 with the ball and 219 runs, including a century, at 31 with the bat – are respectable, but the Test arena is a massive leap.

”The standard in Sydney is very good, it’s very competitive,” Borthwick said. ”You come across some good players, especially when the state players are playing. I got what I needed to get out of it.”

Borthwick considers himself more a spinner than a batsman but with a first-class average of 31 in both disciplines he is clearly no slouch in either.

As a leggie on debut, he expects the Australian batsmen to attack him but is backing himself to spin the ball past them.

”When batters do come at you it gives you the chance to get some wickets,” he said.

”Being around the squad and on an Ashes tour really excites me and I’m thrilled to be here.”

With aap

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Queensland paceman Ben Cutting hopes to overcome bowling woes

Ben Cutting is vowing to spend his new year punishing himself in the nets in a desperate bid to recover from a horror bowling stint.
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The 26-year-old’s fast-bowling prowess, especially in limited-overs matches, earned him a one-day debut for Australia last summer. But his start to the Big Bash League has been poor.

Of the 26 matches Cutting has played in the BBL, initially for Queensland and now for Brisbane Heat, his two most expensive spells have come in recent days.

On Saturday night against Hobart Hurricanes at the Gabba, the tall right-armer finished with 1-39, after Ben Hilfenhaus hit him for 10 runs off the first two balls of his last over to give the Hurricanes a dramatic win, having overhauled the Heat’s 3-209.

On Monday night, against the Melbourne Renegades at Etihad Stadium, the Heat again conceded 210 runs, with Cutting blasted for 0-51 from 3.3 overs.

While Cutting gave Brisbane’s chase some respectability by blasting five sixes in his innings of 40 from 19 balls, he was more disconsolate about his bowling than proud of his batting.

”We’ve given away 420 runs in 40 overs,” he said after the Heat’s 57-run loss. ”We haven’t bowled well. Our plans have been good, it’s just our execution [that has not been].”

Cutting said he felt for fellow seamer Alister McDermott, whose excellent night was ruined when he bowled two high full-tosses in the 19th over that were both whacked for six – and was subsequently taken out of the attack.

”That’s the nature of the beast in Twenty20,” he said. ”Sometimes it’s a bit of a runaway train with the ball … like it was a couple of nights ago at the Gabba as well.”

Since the start of last season, Cutting’s batting has improved dramatically, to the point where he scored a maiden Sheffield Shield century.

Across all three formats during that time he has struck 53 sixes, including 15 in Twenty20. In Brisbane’s three BBL matches this season he has already broken four bats.

The right-hander’s most impressive record is in the Ryobi Cup, in which he is averaging 49.6 and has a strike-rate of 158. In October, he blasted an unbeaten 98 from 48 balls against Victoria at North Sydney.

”I try to think of my batting from a bowling perspective,” Cutting said. ”I think, ‘What would I be bowling to me at this point of the game?’ and relate that to the field they’ve set and hedge my bets on where they’re going to bowl from there.

”I certainly enjoy batting more than bowling at the moment.”

While Cutting and his fellow one-day international debutant from last summer, Kane Richardson, are specialist seamers who bat well enough to go in at No.8, the Queenslander is not ”holding his breath” about earning another call-up to the national side.

”I’d like to think so, but the pecking order’s quite long at the moment,” he said.

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Ashes: Mitchell Johnson doesn’t plan to change a thing in 2014

Mitchell Johnson doesn’t deal in New Year’s resolutions. And when you’ve been travelling as well as the reborn Australian fast bowler over the past few months, why bother changing a thing?
Nanjing Night Net

Even as a new year has arrived, Johnson is still coming to terms with what he accomplished at the tail end of the last.

”I haven’t stepped back and had a look at it yet,” said Johnson, who has 31 wickets for the Ashes series with Friday’s fifth Test in Sydney to come. ”That’s something that when I’ve retired or finished this series, I can have a look at and be really proud of.

”I’m proud of it at the moment, but I don’t think it’s really sunk in. Even winning the Test in Perth I don’t think it’d really sunk in yet that we’d won the Ashes. That’s why I think we want to win 5-0 – we’ve got that hunger there. We want to go on with it so that desire is still there and it’s something we’ll look back in years to come and be really proud of and hopefully be one of the greatest teams to have played in the modern era.”

That final statement sums up what an astonishing turnaround Johnson and Australia have engineered this summer. He was in India nine months ago when the Australians were dubbed the worst team to tour there, and wasn’t even part of the squad that was then beaten 3-0 in England.

Number one in the world, a place in the history books – Michael Clarke’s Australians had kept their lofty ambitions in check for much of the series. But now that England is thoroughly buried and they have their own mojo back, they want to make sure it doesn’t go the way of Johnson’s ‘mo’, which will finally get the razor treatment after Sydney.

Just how realistic their goals are will be determined next month when they meet the world’s best side, South Africa, on the Proteas’ turf. It was in Johannesburg more than two years ago that Australia last won a Test away from home against one of the major powers of world cricket – South Africa, England or India – and their record on the road in 2013 showcased just how challenging they have found it to excel in foreign territory.

With a new lease of life, Johnson, 32, can hardly be blamed for feeling as if he can conquer the world.

”It’s just staying as fresh as possible mentally and physically. We’ve got a little bit more time off this year,” he said. ”So it’s just having those times when I’m able to get back home and do the right things back home.

”One of the big things for me has been to be able to keep my gym work up, keep that strength going, just keep being around positive people and keep enjoying my cricket. Which is what I have been doing over this past year. It’s pretty simple really.”

That is exactly what Clarke has endeavoured to do in his management of Johnson against England, with spectacular results.

Reaching speeds of 155.8km/h in the Boxing Day Test and having used the short ball for devastating effect since the series began Johnson’s hold over the opposition can be traced back to a basic tactical instruction from Clarke: bowl fast.

”My role has been very clear,” Johnson said.

”In the past I’ve felt I’ve had to play different roles and sometimes that still happens where you have to back off a little bit and maybe tighten it up a little bit. In general my role has been to go out there, bowl fast, be aggressive, bowl in short spells. I’m very comfortable with that.” An SCG wicket with a healthy tinge of green awaits him on Friday and against a hungry quick with an eye on a whitewash that could be more bad news for England. ”There was a lot of talk about 5-0 the other way,” Johnson said. ”I’ve been involved in a lot of losses against England [so] we really want to make it 5-0.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.