Monthly Archives: September 2018

Darren Lehmann attacks Victoria over Peter Siddle, James Pattinson selection row

As the national selectors debate their best attack, Australian coach Darren Lehmann has taken aim at Victoria’s decision to overlook Peter Siddle through the one-day domestic series and their call for James Pattinson to not be considered for a Test recall.

Victorian coach David Saker told Fairfax Media on Monday he felt Pattinson should not be considered for Test selection until Christmas, as the Bushrangers’ spearhead continues to refine a revamped bowling action he hopes will avoid further back injuries.

Despite Siddle being an Ashes tourist and returning strongly to the side in the final Test, he has been bypassed for Victoria’s three opening one-day clashes, with Saker admitting he is not in their best XI.

The national selectors had hoped to see him play during the Sydney-based series, with Lehmann on Tuesday sarcastically taking aim at the Bushrangers.

Asked if Siddle was likely to remain the third quick behind Mitchell Johnson and Mitch Starc for the first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba, Lehmann responded: “Don’t know. Haven’t seen him bowl. Victoria have been nice – it’s been good for them not to play him, hasn’t it?

“That is just the way it is. We can’t control what Victoria do. It would be nice to see him play, because we have a Test match coming up. We’ll just have to wait and see at the selection table.”

Siddle has said he will continue to work hard in the nets. He will return to the Bushrangers side for the sole Sheffield Shield clash, beginning October 28, before the squad for the first Test is picked a day or two later.

“That’s probably all he is going to get, so that’s what it is,” Lehmann said.

Lehmann, also a selector, was clearly unhappy with Saker’s call for Pattinson to be allowed to regain his groove in several first-class matches for the Bushrangers before he was considered for a Test recall.

“I think David Saker should concentrate on coaching Victoria and leave us to pick the side for Australia,” Lehmann said. “If James Pattinson is in and ready to go, then we think highly of him. We won’t rush him back in if he is not right. He has got to be ready to play.

“I think at the end of the day, we have to pick a side to get 20 wickets, which we always do. One of the things Australian cricket has done over the last 20 years, we have been able to get 20 wickets. What we have got to do is get control back, go for less runs.”

The robust Pattinson, who has been man of the match in two one-day clashes this summer, played the last of his 13 Tests against South Africa in Cape Town last year.

Saker, a former Victorian fast bowler and former England bowling coach, did not wish to comment when contacted on Tuesday.

The Australians were unable to contain England as much as they had hoped during the losing Ashes series, and regularly leaked runs at more than four an over.

Siddle, the 57-Test veteran, has the ability to hit a consistent line and length, allowing Johnson and Starc – expected to be front-line quicks at the Gabba – the opportunity to attack more.

However, Lehmann has made it clear it will be unacceptable for any of the fast bowlers to concede runs heavily against the Black Caps and West Indies this summer.

“The biggest thing in England for us, the learning curve, was the type of pitches they chopped and changed with – that you might have to chop and change your best attack, depending on the best conditions, and Ryan Harris’ [retirement] certainly hurt,” he said.

“England was the first time our bowlers have leaked a lot of runs or went for pretty much four an over. We certainly had it [control] at Lord’s and the Oval, but the other three, we went around the park – that’s not what we have been about for the last 18 months.

“We have kept it really much under three an over and kept control of the game. That has been the interesting change for us with the group – to make sure those blokes who are playing, the attacking bowlers, have still got to be able to defend as well.”

Johnson, now said to be over his injury “niggles”, and fellow quick Josh Hazlewood were rested from what ultimately was an abandoned Test series in Bangladesh this month.

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Australian skipper Steve Smith ready to bat at No.4 for top-heavy top order

Steve Smith said the anticipated influx of top-order batsmen for the opening Test against New Zealand could result in him batting at No.4, but he has made it clear he won’t bat any lower than that during his first series as skipper.

Smith conceded it was feasible he could drop down the order for next month’s opening Test in Brisbane after speculation that batting at No.4 could provide the order with balance, especially against spin bowling.

“It depends upon the make-up of the team where I’m going to bat,” Smith told Fairfax Media. “I think a lot of the players coming through at the moment, they’re top-order players, so there’s a good chance I’ll be batting at No.4

“I think I performed really well at No.4 last summer. I won’t be batting any lower than there – I can tell you that!”

While his baptism as Michael Clarke’s permanent successor was put on hold when the threat of terror against Australian “interests” in Bangladesh forced the postponement of the two-Test tour there, Smith said he understood his role.

“It is my team now, I guess,” said Smith. “It’s a really exciting time; a bit of generational change, some young players coming into the team and trying to build almost a new team.

“[My leadership approach] is about leading from the front with my performances. That’s the most important thing from my aspect.

“I’m also ensuring I have a good group of guys around me; a good leadership group and people who I can talk to away from cricket to give me some guidance and a kick up the backside if I need it.”

Smith was excited with the new-look team the selectors will unveil in Brisbane after the post-Ashes retirements of Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson and Clarke, saying they now had an opportunity to grow together.

He also conceded being blooded at home rather than on the sub-continent could be a smoother introduction to Test cricket for a side expected to be lacking experience.

“It might take a little bit of time but I’m hopeful the guys can come straight in and perform this summer,” he said.

“It would’ve been nice to have played the two Tests in Bangladesh but I think for the start of this new team playing at home might be a little bit easier for us, although it’s going to be a tough summer against New Zealand and the West Indies.

“It’s a really exciting time. I think there’s going to be a few experienced guys around the group – which is going to be good – but it’s a pretty new team. We have to try and build that up as much as possible and learn quickly on our feet and hopefully keep improving every day.”

Smith, who spent Tuesday at a training camp for the Australian Test squad at Hurstville Oval to bowl and train with the ‘red ball’ in the middle of the Matador Cup one-day competition, has a simple formula to safeguard his batting against the pressures of captaincy.

“I just try to put it out of my mind when I’m batting,” he said. “First and foremost I’m a batsman in the side and that’s my job, to score runs. I’ve performed pretty well in the games I’ve captained Australia in and hopefully I can keep it up.”

Smith added he was not overly concerned by the lack of red-ball action Australia’s Test players will have had when the Gabba Test starts on November 5.

“Guys are playing cricket, that’s the main thing” he said. “One-day cricket, four-day cricket  … it doesn’t matter. We’re going to have the one Sheffield Shield game and that will be with the pink ball.

“I haven’t faced the pink ball since I was at the Academy in 2009 and it felt like the ball left a bit of a trail behind it. I imagine they’d have made a few improvements since then, so I’m looking forward to playing in that game.”

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Treasurer meets Clive Palmer over Townsville’s Queensland Nickel refinery

Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt. Photo: Chris Hyde

Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt has become the second senior Queensland government member to meet with Clive Palmer to discuss his Queensland Nickel refinery, but he has refused to say whether there was a request for help.

But Mr Pitt did confirm that no decisions regarding assisting the Townsville refinery had been made.

Less than two weeks after Deputy Premier Jackie Trad confirmed she met with Mr Palmer late last month, Mr Pitt said he met with the Federal MP and other Queensland Nickel representatives but said the discussions were protected under “commercial-in-confidence”.

Mr Palmer fired off a series of tweets against the Queensland Premier and government on Monday afternoon, highlighting the state’s unemployment record under Labor, claiming Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk “has never been a worker” and that “worker men and women in Queensland are disregarded by the Queensland Labor Government”.

The ABC reported Mr Palmer had approached the government for a $25 million loan and “a government guarantee for banking facilities”.  Mr Palmer has denied making an application for assistance.

At an event to release the Queensland Resources Council’s report on mining’s contribution to the state’s economy, its chief executive Michael Roche said the nickel price was in flux.

“What I know about Queensland Nickel is it is a major employer in Townsville…I’ve watched the nickel price and it is swings and roundabouts,” he said.

“I think its making a bit of a comeback at the moment but one would hope Queensland Nickel is a company which is here for the long term.

“It has been an important part of Townsville economy for some decades.”

At the same event, Mr Pitt would not discuss whether the government had been approached for assistance, given the impact falling commodity prices are having on refineries such as Mr Palmer’s.

“I can confirm that I’ve met with representatives from Queensland Nickel, including Mr Palmer, relating to the facts that Michael Roche has just referred to and that is there is a decline in the price and of course we are interested to see how that is affecting their operations,” he said.

“…Those sorts of discussions are commercial in confidence and it would not make me a very good treasurer if I was going to be discussing matters that involve a private company in a public forum.

“I can say that there has been no decision to provide any assistance to Queensland Nickel.”

The government also vowed not to assist Adani with its attempts to get its Galilee Basin project, the Carmichael Mine, set to be the state’s biggest coal mine if it gets off the ground, by providing any infrastructure, at the 2015 election.

It has since qualified that as “no direct assistance” and has admitted it has been lobbying the Federal Government to provide the infrastructure funding, such as a rail line from the basin to the port, as part of its Northern Australian initiative.

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Call to crack down on gambling ad ‘bombardment’

Victorian Minister for Gaming and Liquor regulation Jane Garrett. Photo: Josh RobenstoneMore footy clubs push back against betting advertising

The constant onslaught of gambling ads should be reined in by tougher federal laws, Victoria’s Gaming Minister says.

Self-regulation of sports odds in live broadcasts failed to quell community concern and a recently announced review of online gambling laws should be expanded to include gambling advertising rules, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Jane Garrett said.

In September, then social services minister Scott Morrison announced a review of online gambling laws to consider how they could be strengthened to tackle illegal overseas online bookmakers.

It has been estimated offshore wagering is a $1 billion illegal business in Australia.

In recent years, criticism of betting advertising has come from all political corners, including former Victorian Liberal premier and ex-Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett, the Greens and independent senator Nick Xenophon.

“We need to start a national conversation now, particularly around its impact on kids and young people who are bombarded through sports betting advertising,” Ms Garrett told The Age.

This week, she wrote to Social Services Minister Christian Porter and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, urging them to expand the online gambling review to include advertising.

“Recent research suggests that sports betting advertising may have negative economic and social impacts on vulnerable groups such as young people and problem gamblers, and it contributes to the normalisation of gambling as part of sport,” she said.

“Given many wagering services providers operate nationally, there is scope for the Australian and state and territory governments to work collaboratively to improve the effectiveness of gambling advertising regulation.

“This could include the development of measures to control or minimise harm associated with gambling advertising.”

Deakin University public health academic Samantha Thomas said gambling advertising was shaping children’s attitudes so that there was a blurred line between sport and gambling.

“When we talk to kids in the community, they tell us that the places they see gambling advertising is on the TV and at sporting stadiums,” Dr Thomas said. “They are two environments where the government could very quickly act to ensure kids are not exposed to gambling ads.”

As gambling advertisers used the full gamut of promotional tools, including social media, Ms Garrett said the review must be expanded to find out if the Australian Communications and Media Authority had adequate powers and resources to regulate the sector.

A spokesman for federal social services minister Christian Porter said the government “always prefers self-regulation over government regulations. But we will legislate to control gambling advertising if self-imposed industry regulations prove ineffective”.

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