Lindop tips apprentice to be at her best in Diamond

Resuming … Glencadam Gold scores for Nash Rawiller at Broadmeadow in September.IN NOVEMBER Clare Lindop was quietly excited she had found a smart two-year-old which could have a promising career.
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Lindop, one of South Australia’s leading jockeys, has always been a hard marker and doesn’t get overwhelmed by a one-off gallop.

However, this time the youngster gave her the right feel and the juvenile was entered for a barrier trial at Morphettville. Hence Lindop was astounded when another filly flew past her in the middle stages to win comfortably.

On pulling up, Lindop leaned over to Lauren Stojakovic and asked the mature-age apprentice who this nuggetty but brilliant baby was. ”With a broad smile, Lauren said to me, ‘This is a filly called Miracles Of Life and, yes, she is very good’ and I said, ‘You’re not wrong,”’ Lindop said.

But Lindop was convinced the trial at Morphettville wasn’t the first hint that Miracles Of Life had speed. The two-time Adelaide premiership winner knew much work had gone into Miracles Of Life before then.

At Caulfield, Miracles Of Life is a $2.90 favourite to win Victoria’s top two-year-olds’ race – the $1 million Blue Diamond Stakes (1200 metres).

Argument has been raging over whether a two-kilogram-claiming apprentice at the age of 29 is capable of taking on the best jockeys in Victoria in a group 1 event.

Lindop sees Stojakovic in action every Saturday at Morphettville and is convinced connections have made the right decision. ”It’s funny, whenever a good horse comes from Adelaide to Melbourne the call is to put a Melbourne jockey on and perhaps in some cases that is correct, but not this time,” she said.

”Lauren has a perfect and complete feel for Miracles Of Life. She’s been with her every day and understands every little quirky part of her make-up. In the case of major two-year-old races like this, connections have made the right decision. It’s a two-year-old race where horses can be erratic because basically they’re very new to what they are doing, and an intimate understanding of a horse’s habits is just vital whereas tactics aren’t as important.

”It’s a different story if you’re coming over for a race like the Caulfield Cup … when you’re riding a seasoned racehorse and you’ve got to plan tactics and perhaps have a ‘B’ plan if things don’t go right. But in a Blue Diamond, it’s over 1200 metres and your main job as a jockey is to make your horse comfortable and relaxed, more than other races when they get older.”

When asked if she’d given Stojakovic advice, Lindop said: ”I think she’s had more than enough advice, you can get too much information. I’ve just said, ‘You know your filly’ and ‘enjoy the moment’.

”There are some big stables involved in the Blue Diamond and they’ll pull a few sneaky gear changes, which happens every year, but … she can use her barrier one to glide up and just sit on the pace.

”She’ll need a little luck on the turn into the straight to get a run but, again, we can’t forget they’re two-year-olds, who more than likely will roll or fan off the track, that’s why the importance of having them relaxed and happy for you is more important than what the ones around you are doing.”

Lindop has a full and exciting book of rides at Morphettville on Saturday. She has ridden four group 1 winners and won nearly every feature race on the South Australian calendar. Lindop is hoping Stojakovic keeps her feet on the ground and enjoys the moment.

”I’ve got great confidence in her, sure things can go wrong but things go wrong for the very best jockeys in Australia at times, so full credit to all those involved keeping Lauren on in such a race,” she said.

At 4pm on Saturday, in the tiny women jockeys’ room, Lindop will be cheering home a good friend who has worked hard for this day.

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It’s dust in the wind as Clarke passes the Don

CHENNAI: If Michael Clarke’s heart skipped a beat at the toss of the coin in the middle of M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, he could be excused. Batting third on this south Indian dustbowl, against a coterie of hungry spinners, will be difficult enough. Chasing even 100 to win in the final innings would have been about as easy as a foreigner driving a hire car in Chenani peak hour.
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Thankfully for Australia’s captain, it went his way, a win revealed once the specially minted Board of Control for Cricket in India coin was excavated from the red soil. As the pitch began to break out inside the first hour of the first Test on Friday, it was drummed home as no small victory.

A team of barefoot ground staff, armed with straw brooms, swept the barren deck for much of the session breaks, emitting a large puff of orange dust with each pointless swipe.

Australia should barely have been surprised; they have been here for two weeks and the only sign of life were the odd grass clippings sprinkled on the deck like coriander leaves on a stir fry.

Australia’s radical decision to include only the one specialist spinner, Nathan Lyon, in their XI was met with bemusement in some sections here, and the finished product of the BCCI pitches and grounds committee demonstrated why. India chose three – Harbajan Singh, in his 100th Test, Ravichandran Ashwin and the all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy opener.

The results were immediate: they were on by the sixth over of the day and by five minutes after lunch Ashwin had four wickets as Australia, after an enterprising start, lost 2-5 to fall to 4-131.

The tall right-arm orthodox claimed the prized wickets of Shane Watson (28) and David Warner (59), both leg-before, with his first seven balls after the break. Watson was left stranded by a dud bounce, while Warner was beaten by a darting off-break. If they had any complaints about the decisions, it was no good – India’s lack of trust in ball-tracking technology means there is no decision review system here.

Given the television pictures they could have seen in their hotel rooms of the Hyderabad bombings on the eve of the match, the Australians could be forgiven for being a tad shaky on day one regardless of the treacherous conditions laid out for them. They did not appear the slightest bit on edge in the first session of the series, however, racing to three figures before lunch led by Warner’s half-century.

Australia’s head coach, Mickey Arthur, had instructed his batsmen to take on India’s spin-oriented attack in the way that Kevin Pietersen did so effectively for England late last year.

They did exactly that from the beginning, with Ed Cowan channelling his partner Warner with an aggressive 29 that featured four boundaries and a six and ended in most uncharacteristic fashion: stumped, trying to skip down the wicket to Ashwin. His replacement, Phillip Hughes, never looked comfortable in his brief stay before chopping Ashwin onto his stumps trying to cut the off-spinner to the rope for six.

Warner and Watson, swapping helmets for baggy green caps, did not back off, though, and during their 54-run partnership Australia’s innings began to look settled once again.

Ashwin undid them both in quick time and Australia’s hopes were for the latest instance left largely with Clarke.

Like most Clarke innings of late, there were records, too.

An early single took his Test runs total past Sir Donald Bradman’s tally, and with a subsequent four from Ashwin he notched 7000 for the career.

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Hunt for Aboriginal talent starts at the Top End

Field of Dreamtime … the Tennant Creek and Alice Springs teams in the Imparja Cup.AT THE age of 47, Digger has seen better days. But with his Tennant Creek side in trouble against the old foe, Alice Springs, he strides proudly to the crease, his long, wiry beard barely moving despite the late afternoon breeze. For 20 years he’s padded up to face his arch-rivals in this annual clash. Now he wields the willow like a fighting stick, a series of dashing cut shots drawing roars of approval from the modest crowd at Traeger Park. The legs don’t move as fast as they used to, and when there’s a chance of a run out, he dives full length and barely scrapes into the crease. The crowd erupts. Even the Alice Springs fans jump to their feet and, as one, will him home.
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A modest 10 runs seems like a spectacular century, and as Digger trudges back to the dressing room the onlookers rise once more, showing their appreciation of an Imparja Cup legend.

As the game unfolded on Wednesday, a thoughtful Ross Williams watched on, remembering the day back in 1993 when it all started.

”I was actually sitting in the Tennant Creek Hotel and one of my cousins, Mervyn Franey, went through. We had a quiet beer – it was 48 degrees outside. I said to him, ‘You’re a member of the Imparja board of directors – is it possible that we can have a game between Tennant Creek and Alice Springs? I said most of us are families and a lot of our younger relatives and cousins haven’t met their family in Alice and it’d be a good way to get the connections going together again.’ ”

The pair had a friendly wager on which team would win and the Imparja Cup was born.

Twenty years later and 500 indigenous players descend on Alice Springs from around the country, competing in community and state competitions. But behind the celebrations there is a universal acknowledgement that the indigenous population has been largely ignored by Australian cricket since 1868, when the first Australian touring side, made up entirely of Aborigines, set sail for England.

Of the 432 baggy greens handed to Australian men, only one has been worn by a player acknowledging indigenous heritage – Jason Gillespie. The former Test fast bowler said he always knew of his background but did not realise its significance until it was revealed in a newspaper report.

”I must admit when I was first alerted to that fact [I was the only indigenous Test player] it absolutely blew me away but then I thought about it a lot more,” Gillespie said. ”Cricket Australia would love nothing more than an indigenous player and, with all due respect to myself, they want a full-blooded indigenous Australian playing in the Test side. That would be their ultimate goal, but how do you get there?”

The women’s game hasn’t fared much better. In 1958, South Australian fast bowler Faith Thomas opened the bowling for Australia against England and took the wicket of the English captain with a searing yorker that sent middle stump cartwheeling straight over the keeper’s head. Now 80, Thomas remains the sole indigenous woman to represent her country, but it is not the baggy green that stirs her pride.

”We’ve got the maroon and white one, the first team that went to England, I call that the black fella’s baggy green,” Thomas said. ”So when I go to schools I take that and talk about the first Aboriginal team, the first cricket team that went to England, and the kids have a choice of putting on whichever cap they want, and most of them go for that one … the Aboriginal baggy green, and that really makes me proud you know, that they want to sit on my lap and have their photo taken.”

The case of Eddie Gilbert illustrates the difficulties indigenous cricketers have faced. The Queensland fast bowler terrorised opposition batsmen in the 1930s and once famously dismissed Donald Bradman for a duck. Bradman compared Gilbert’s pace to Harold Larwood and several players considered him the fastest bowler of the time. But state laws forced Gilbert to obtain special permission to travel from his settlement, there were suggestions of an illegal bowling action, and it is widely believed prevailing racist attitudes played a part in preventing him playing for Australia.

If Gilbert were to emerge today, it would be a different story. Cricket Australia officials consider it a significant goal to increase the number of indigenous cricketers in state and national competitions. Early in the week, National Talent Manager Greg Chappell spent two days casting his eye over the current crop of state representative players.

”Cricket Australia’s quite serious about it,” Chappell said. ”There’s a big contingent from different departments here this week, not least of which is game development, which is really important because we’ve got to get indigenous kids involved in the game as early as possible”

Chappell is frank about the game’s failure in the past to produce elite indigenous players. ”None of us are happy about the fact that we’re only aware of one indigenous player having played Test cricket and that’s Jason Gillespie,” he said. ”We’ve had a number, probably a handful, that have played first-class cricket, a couple playing currently in Josh Lalor and Daniel Christian. It’s nowhere near enough when you consider the talent pool that’s there.”

Cricket Australia’s commitment to improve indigenous participation leaves it trailing far behind sports such as AFL and NRL, which have long been embraced by Aborigines. There are no Ben Barbas or Buddy Franklins at the highest level of cricket to inspire the next generation to pick up a bat or ball and, particularly in remote areas, high-quality equipment and facilities are scarce and expensive.

As Gillespie noted: ”The cost of just putting together a basic kit to play cricket – it’s immense. You’ve got your bat, your pads, gloves, whites, and shoes. Footy – you put a pair of boots on and you’ve got 40 kids running around and off you go. You don’t even need boots, you just start booting a footy around.”

Over the past week, representatives from several communities said they wanted more game development officers, indigenous officers, and regular clinics and competitions for children.

”Instead of just having cricket clinics during Imparja Cup, it’d be good to see more cricket development officers go out to more of the communities and spend more time with the kids, coaching, running the clinics,” Williams said.

Perhaps one answer lies north of Darwin, on the Tiwi Islands. Last year the Tiwi Islands put together a team to compete in the Imparja Cup’s community division, under the guidance of local sports and recreation officer Mick Rees.

”We basically put out onto the table what cricket was available, what formats and said, ‘What do you want to do?’ We didn’t go there and say, ‘This is cricket, this is how you play it,’ ” Rees said. ”We worked out the best format to suit was a super eights format that the guys play at Imparja Cup because we identified early that, if we’re going to be successful in building some sort of pathway, we need it to lead to high performance.”

A year on, player numbers have tripled, the Department of Sport and Recreation runs regular cricket clinics in schools, and a high-performance pathway has emerged.

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Jackson’s future hangs in the balance

Lauren Jackson will consider offers from Europe and Asia along with a possible return to the Canberra Capitals, but Australia’s greatest woman basketballer won’t decide anything until she feels confident of being in peak condition.
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After one of the most frustrating seasons of her illustrious career, the four-time Olympian also revealed retirement had crossed her mind during her six-month stint on the sidelines and that she had sacrificed part of her $1 million salary.

Under the terms of the five-year, three-season deal, Jackson is due to have the 2013-14 season off, which would enable her to take up an overseas offer before returning to the Capitals for the next two seasons.

However, the Capitals are desperate for Jackson to alter the contract and play next season after she sat out the entire first season with a chronic hamstring injury.

Capitals chief executive Tony Jackson (no relation) told Fairfax Media earlier this week that the superstar centre ”needs to show maturity and a bit of professionalism, and the best way she can do that is to play next season”.

Lauren Jackson brushed those comments aside, saying her sole focus is on returning to full fitness and once again becoming a valuable contributor on the court.

”I’m just waiting to see how my body pulls up after surgery,” she said.

”I don’t want another season like this year.

”I really need to be 100 per cent sure my body can hold out because it comes down to me not wanting to let anybody down, most of all myself.”

Jackson has elected to bypass the WNBA season with the Seattle Storm.

”If I had gone back to the WNBA this year it would’ve been my last year [in the US],” she said.

”I can’t guarantee it would’ve been my best year.

”I’m very aware of the injuries I’ve had and making sure I get everything right.”

Jackson said she had contemplated retirement when her injury was so severe she couldn’t walk after the London Olympics.

The extent of the damage wasn’t revealed until she underwent surgery with Western Bulldogs AFL doctor David Young in January.

”That [retirement] was something I went through for four or five months, there was serious consideration until we made the choice to go to Melbourne and see David Young,” she said.

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Tigers must learn from losses to the top sides, says Greer

MELBOURNE Tigers co-captain Tommy Greer wants his teammates to heed the lessons from two losses to Perth Wildcats as the NBL play-offs approach.
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The Tigers fell to an undisciplined 78-58 loss to the Wildcats at Perth Arena on Thursday night which followed another loss to the Wildcats last Sunday.

But the Tigers still hold third ahead of the Wollongong Hawks and with nine days’ rest before facing the Hawks in Melbourne next Saturday, Greer wants his side to reflect on why it has fallen short in six matches against top-two sides, Perth and New Zealand Breakers, this season.

”It was a reality check for us but if it’s taken in the right way it will be good for us,” Greer said.

The Tigers have to keep winning to assure themselves of making the top four, especially against sides below them, starting against the Hawks, along with clashes against lowly Townsville (twice) and Cairns.

The Tigers also get two more clashes with the Breakers.

Tigers import Jonny Flynn complained about the referees during Thursday night’s game, questioning whether the 10,000-strong Perth Arena crowd influenced the officials as the Tigers were stung with two unsportsmanlike fouls late in the third term, with the home side just five points ahead.

Those fouls and the resulting Wildcats’ baskets helped them take their lead out to a match-winning double-figure advantage.

While those fouls proved controversial, the Tigers were thumped on the rebound count, 44-28, and failed to run proper offence, with top-scorer Adam Ballinger (15 points) getting only eight shots on the night.

Greer, who became just the 10th Tiger to play 200 club games in last Sunday’s loss to Perth, said his side had to keep improving.

■Bendigo Spirit will get the right to host the WNBL grand final at Bendigo Stadium if it wins the major semi-final against Dandenong on Sunday.

The league had previously planned to play the game at a bigger venue in Melbourne.

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Solving the case with Inspector AFL

LORD Athol Findlay Layton Footballe (1921-1984) was an acclaimed master detective, whose foolproof deductive methods are still used by certain major sporting bodies. Join us as we delve into the voluminous casebook of “Inspector AFL” – as Footballe became known – and try to arrive at the solution before the inspector does.
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CASE #37: Sir Cedric Founderbinder-Sprawke was discovered dead in his sprawling mansion clutching a measly toupee, half a liverwurst, and the score to Puccini’s opera, The Mangy Locksmith. His head had been beaten in with a large-scale model of the Hindenburg, rendered entirely in pocket lint and wood glue.

Further, the room was locked, otherwise empty, and the only keys were held by Sir Cedric. That is, other than one set in the possession of a former butler, Snivers, who had been discharged for theft some weeks prior, and was known to be secretly bald, an offal-fancier, obsessive concerning dirigibles, Puccini, and, for that matter, ravioli, and the possessor of pockets and glue. The case seemed insoluble.

Inspector AFL’S solution: After measuring the room and all locks for several months, and interviewing a chap who once saw the Loch Ness Monster, Inspector Footballe announced he could come to only one conclusion: as the room had been locked, it was impossible for murder to have occurred.

CASE #153: Lord Pule Snickerhole, (14th Duke of Earl and vice-versa), was found dead on his salon floor, with more holes and less breath than usual. His young wife, Lady Norinda Snickerhole (nee Verna Gitt), was found standing over him carrying a smoking gun, adjacent to a blood-stained knife, shrieking, “I done it to the old goat, cor blimey!!” Can you unravel this perplexing puzzler?

Inspector AFL’S solution: After examining every square inch of the residence with a magnifying glass, Inspector AFL lost the magnifying glass. He then declared: since the couple were married, and thus obviously in love, murder was patently impossible. He declared Lady Snickerhole innocent of all charges, but fined her £500,000 to replace his magnifying glass, and for “sundry expenses”.

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Puzzled Newbold backs AFL boss

JEFF Kennett’s successor as Hawthorn president says the AFL has made some puzzling rulings on recent off-field dramas but they are no reason to prompt a review of Andrew Demetriou’s role as league boss.
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Kennett has called on the AFL Commission to fix a ”culture problem” at the top, and that the public had lost faith in the code’s administrators over issues relating to salary cap rorting, illicit drugs and tanking.

”Andrew has done a good job, but we now have a culture existing in the AFL that I think should have the AFL Commission thinking whether it’s time to address the leadership of the AFL,” Kennett told Channel Nine on Thursday night.

AFL club bosses contacted by Fairfax Media on Friday supported Demetriou and his leadership, although Hawks boss Andrew Newbold, who took over from Kennett at Hawthorn in 2011, was concerned about contrasting penalties imposed on Melbourne after the tanking probe and on Adelaide for salary cap cheating.

Newbold said it was hard to understand why the Demons were this week fined $500,000 when the club was cleared of deliberately losing matches for draft picks, while Adelaide was penalised $300,000 last year for paying Kurt Tippett outside the salary cap and agreeing to trade him to the club of his choice.

But Newbold said there was no reason for Demetriou’s position to be reviewed.

”I do agree some of the decisions could be said to be slightly puzzling, but I don’t know if you then jump to the conclusion that the leadership of the AFL has got to be revamped,” he said.

”We’re right to ask questions of them and maybe they could say ‘Maybe on reflection we could have done that better’, but I don’t know that that brings you to the conclusion that the CEO has to stand down.”

Melbourne was fined because it was deemed responsible for the actions of former football leaders Chris Connolly and Dean Bailey, who were found to have acted in a prejudicial manner to AFL interests in 2009. Newbold questioned why Melbourne was fined heavily when cleared, whereas the Crows deliberately acted outside the laws.

”They [Melbourne] either did tank or they didn’t, I would have thought. Why does Melbourne get slapped with a half million-dollar fine for one off-the-cuff comment by Connolly in a planning meeting?” he said.

”[Adelaide], I thought they got off pretty lightly. I did hear Jeff draw an analogy last week between what happened to the Melbourne Storm when they breached the salary cap. I don’t think it’s the nature of the breach, it’s the fact that you have acted deliberately to breach it.”

Storm was stripped of two premierships, fined $500,000, had to pay back $1.1 million prizemoney and could not play for points in 2010 when found guilty of rorting the salary cap.

Sydney chairman Richard Colless said the AFL had faced difficulties but there was no need to question its leadership.

”Jeff Kennett should know better than anyone, from his political days, how easy it is to be an armchair critic,” Colless said.

Geelong president Colin Carter, a former AFL commissioner, disagreed with Kennett.

”Every leadership group should be constantly evaluating themselves or getting outsiders to do it but I don’t agree with Jeff’s comments,” he said.

”There are always some issues around, but we’re not calling for heads to roll.”

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India the new world provider for cricket

THE reason cricket is one of the world’s most popular sports is mainly due to the influence from India.
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Cricket is played by 10 nations with Test status and 35 associate countries. But it is India that provides nearly 80 per cent of the world’s cricket revenues. And cricket-playing countries and players around the world are a lot wealthier because of that revenue generated by India.

Generally, people who have the most money get what they want. India is no different, and it is very protective of its power and very shrewd when it comes to using it. Many fans and cricket leaders think this is a bad thing for the game. I don’t.

Over the past few years, the Board of Cricket Control of India has not won too many friends with its directions and opinions on the game. It wasn’t long ago that India was easily bulldozed by the boards from England and Australia. Not now.

Let me be completely transparent here. I work for many media companies that the BCCI has some command or authority over. Nevertheless, I believe it has every right to make decisions in its own interest, as England and Australia did during their reign of more than 100 years of cricket.

The Indian authorities are the ones who have invested heavily in cricket, and ultimately they are the ones who pay the invoices. The BCCI really knows how to maximise every commercial deal it has entered and this polarises people’s opinions. Other countries just hang onto India’s coat-tails. Today, India always has a massive audience and it brings along a massive bank cheque. Money speaks all languages, and India’s power has made all cricket nations bow to the needs of the BCCI.

This shift of power has come from the fact that India is booming economically. The BCCI has been very clever in how it maintains that power. The board has a full understanding on how to control bureaucracy. The British taught it that over many years. Strategically, the BCCI has placed many board members throughout the International Cricket Council committees and now the ICC cannot do anything without the BCCI’s approval.

The two most dominant figures within the BCCI are Sharad Pawar and Narayanaswami Srinivasan. Many of the board members are federal ministers, who are powerful people in their own right.

Over the past five years, India has really started to use its power. Its broadcast and media rights have been sold for staggering amounts of money. India recently refused to come under the World Anti-Doping Agency code, and it was the only major country that opposed the decision revision system.

The board has copped a lot of criticism for its strong stance against DRS and its opinions of the WADA code. In hindsight, maybe the BCCI got its strong stance right against the DRS. It’s great for TV, but with the many weird and funny cases over our summer, perhaps there is a strong argument that the Indian board may be right after all.

Is the BCCI’s control of everything a bad thing? It has become so dictatorial and protective of its control of the game that it chooses commentators for any series in India. The BCCI has just recently stopped me from commentating for a Twenty20 Indian universities tournament. I am led to believe the BCCI is still upset with my involvement in the creation of the Indian Cricket League in 2007 without its approval.

The ICL was created by Zee Sports as part of their bid for Indian cricket TV broadcast rights. They instructed Kapil Dev, Ajay Kapoor (a television executive for Zee Sports) and myself to come up with a tournament. The ICL was created, but was quickly listed as an ”unauthorised league” by the BCCI. The Indian board was furious and banned all ICL administrators, players and staff. The ICL disbanded not long after, and the Indian Premier League is now a mirror copy of what we invented. It was only recently that my great friend Dev was allowed back into the board’s arms. Thankfully, time does heal some wounds. I hope to be back in the fold soon.

Recently we have learnt that the ABC won’t broadcast from India after refusing to pay the high broadcast fees demanded. I know many fans in Australia are upset with the BCCI’s stance, but it is the board’s right as to who it wants to do its broadcasts and what it wants to charge. If you cannot pay, then bad luck.

While massive tantrums and power plays are happening off the field, it is what is happening on the field that makes things interesting. The Indian board will not allow any Indian player to play in any of the Twenty20 competitions outside the IPL – competitions such as the Big Bash League, Bangladesh Premier League, Sri Lankan Premier League and the Pakistan Super League. Not one Indian player has played in these competitions. You must ask yourself why. Does Mercedes-Benz sell some of its spare parts to help construct a Mini? The BCCI is just being smart in protecting its brand.

The IPL today is one of the top six sporting brands in the world. It has really put India on the world map. Companies are flocking to the IPL just to be part of it.The Indian board ploughs most of its money back into grassroots cricket, where there are more than 55,000 matches played in India every day. It pays out millions every year in player pensions for former players. India also helped South Africa return to international cricket and helped Bangladesh reach Test status.

When the Indian board isn’t part of your income, people tend to have a point of view that it is ruining the fabric of the game. Then there are the players, officials and media outlets that are commercially involved with the BCCI. These people only have good words for the board.

Since the board has started to be the major powerbroker of the game, has world cricket benefited? Yes, and more power to it.

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Hepburn keeps pursuit title on another golden day

AUSTRALIA’S Michael Hepburn retained his pursuit title at the world track championships on Thursday with Ireland’s Martyn Irvine claiming silver.
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It was 21-year-old Hepburn’s second gold medal of the championships, coming a day after helping Australia win the team pursuit title.

Teammate Alexander Morgan, 18, just missed the bronze medal, losing to 19-year-old Swiss rider Stefan Kueng.

Irvine later won the men’s scratch race to give Ireland a first world track gold medal.

Andreas Muller of Austria was second and Australia’s Luke Davison was later given the bronze medal despite the original decision having gone to 2011 world champion Kwok Ho Ting of Hong Kong.

Great Britain retained the women’s team pursuit title, beating old rival Australia.

With Olympic gold medal-winning Laura Trott and Dani King joined by Elinor Barker, the British were too strong for Australia’s Annette Edmondson, Ashlee Ankudinoff and Melissa Hoskins in a time of three minutes, 18.140 seconds.

Canada beat Poland for the bronze.

Germany defeated New Zealand to win the men’s team sprint gold, but only by 0.49 seconds. France took the bronze medal.

Hong Kong’s Sarah Lee Wai Sze won the women’s 500-metres time trial, beating Germany’s Miriam Welte. Britain’s Rebecca James was third.

■ Australian Caroline Buchanan went to the London Olympics with the weight of the nation on her shoulders. Despite entering the final of the women’s BMX as one of the favourites, Buchanan placed fifth.

”I was pretty devastated and it was just a lot of disappointment within myself that I didn’t pull off my goal,” she said.

Buchanan is back on her bike – just in a different discipline.

The 22-year-old has returned to her home town of Canberra this weekend for the women’s downhill 2013 mountain bike Australian championship.

Buchanan will go into the national championship race on Sunday in peak form, having won the two previous rounds in the national series at Mount Buller and Thredbo.

But the one-off downhill national title race is the one that counts most, and Buchanan will need to win if she wants a ticket to the downhill world championships to be held in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, later this year.

■Another of cycling’s biggest races will start in Britain next year after organisers announced on Thursday that the Giro d’Italia will be flagged off in Northern Ireland.

The 2014 edition will begin in Belfast on May 10, kicking off three days of action that will also include a stage finishing in Dublin.

AGENCIES

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Dons the love of Killer’s life

Essendon legend: John ”Killer” Kilby has been a part of the scene at Windy Hill since starting as the under 19s’ trainer in 1968.I HAVEN’T reached John Kilby before he introduces himself and reaches for my hand, saying, ”John Kilby, Martin. The players call me ‘Killer’. I don’t like the name, but they gave it to me 45 years ago.”
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At 77, tall, lean and tanned, Killer looks like the athlete he once was when he ran cross-countries and threw the discus for the Essendon Amateur Athletic Club. He’s lost a lot of his hearing, but, in his grey-haired vitality and the way he leans forward bright-eyed to further impress his meaning upon you, he is slightly reminiscent of Doc from the film Back to the Future.

Killer was an only child – he says that explains a lot about his life. He was born in Tasmania and came to Melbourne when his father tried to enlist in the army during World War II. The family settled in Essendon. Two of his Tasmanian uncles, Duffy and Boy Plummer, had played for the Bombers so the family quickly became ”Essendon people”. Killer’s parents travelled to away games in the back of a truck belonging to a fruit shop in Glass Street.

In 1968, the Bombers couldn’t get a trainer for their under 19s, and Killer, an aircraft examiner, got the call. ”I was the head trainer,” he says leaning forward, his face scored with humour, ”I was the only one.” Killer was very happy with the under 19s, watching the young fellows progress, but eventually duty called. He was asked to be head trainer for the reserves, then the seniors; in time, he was the head trainer for the Victorian state team.

His best day at the club was the 1984 grand final when the Bombers won their first premiership in 19 years. ”It was this feeling of joy at being involved with a great team, a great coach, a great administration. It was just a great day for my footy club.” Killer’s a great believer in the power of good administrators and, when asked to list the club’s three greatest personalities in his time, he names two presidents, Greg Sewell and Ron Evans.

The other name, not surprisingly, is Kevin Sheedy. It was Sheedy who appointed Killer head trainer of the Essendon Football Club. ”Because of him I got to stand on the MCG on grand final day and be part of four premierships. When he left I went into his office and told him I was very sorry to see him go. I’m a sentimental man. I had tears running down my face.” His emotion is still visible.

Killer dates back to the time when the trainers organised functions for the players such as tennis and golf days, when they went on the end-of-season trips. Of all the Essendon players he’s dealt with over the past half-century the one he remembers most fondly is the late Merv Neagle, a wingman from the 1980s. ”He was rough and tough, but that’s how footy was played then. He was a character.” Neagle used to take Killer with him when he went home to watch the Horsham league grand finals. When Neagle was late for his wedding, Killer found him in a pub. ”I said to him, ‘Merv, they’re waiting for you to get married’. ”

Killer still hears from Neagle’s former wife each Christmas. He even gets a Christmas card each year from Billy Duckworth, as rough and tough a character as Neagle. Paul Van Der Haar, the Maddens, the Danihers, Paul Salmon – the list of former Essendon players Killer has stories about goes on and on. A lot of them used to ring him but, being hard of hearing, Killer’s not much good on the phone these days.

The low point of his time at the club has been the drug scandal, which Killer dismisses, with feeling, as ”hogwash”. But, he adds, he was very pleased that not one Collingwood supporter made a rude remark about it during last weekend’s NAB Cup round. ”And,” he says, leaning forward as if to divulge a confidence, ”I’ve never been a Collingwood person.”

Killer never married. ”I don’t have a wife, my mum and dad are dead, I was an only child.”

He has a dog – a Jack Russell called Rusty – that was bought for him by players David Hille and Chris Heffernan. ”They said, ‘Killer, you need company’. At the time, I thought I needed him like a hole in the head but he’s a lovely little feller.”

Hille visits Killer and Rusty at least once a week. Sometimes, they go for a walk in the Botanical Gardens or go for a meal. ”We seem to have something special,” says Killer. ”I would love to have had a brother like him.”

Hille says their friendship comes from having the same feeling for the game and their club.

The Essendon ruckman is a thoughtful young man. He says footy’s changed a lot even in his time. ”It’s important that we don’t lose people like John and others in that process.”

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

Stackhouse would jump at chance to ride at ‘Bool

Easy does it: Apollo Creed coasts to victory under a hold from Daniel Stackhouse.STROLL into the weighing room at Caulfield before the Blue Diamond is run and inquire if any of the jockeys preparing for the $1 million scamper would be interested in schooling a few jumpers next week with a view to riding one in the Grand Annual at Warrnambool.
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Chances are that there would be very few takers. Yes, Glen Boss did once express an interest in partnering champion hurdler Black And Bent, although nothing came of it, while it would not surprise if lanky Steven Arnold might once have thought that obstacles were where his future lay. But one hand – belonging to one of the youngest and least experienced jockeys in the big race – would shoot up straight away.

Daniel Stackhouse, who partners two-year-old filly Quest For Peace for champion trainer Peter Moody in the Diamond, would be equally at home pushing, shoving and cajoling an aged gelding over the marathon Annual trip at the ‘Bool in May if given the chance.

Why wouldn’t he? After all, the 22-year-old had done something very similar earlier in his career. For one so young, he has crammed in plenty, riding feature-race winners over jumps in his native New Zealand as well as winning apprentices’ championships and senior riders’ premierships where he grew up, in the South Island.

He has even given away the game for a while, working on his parents’ farm, when he thought rising weight would get the better of him.

”It has been an interesting journey but I am really enjoying it now,” says the Kiwi who first came to Australia in late 2010 when he won a scholarship to ride here. ”I knew a girl who was working for Pete so my bosses, Tommy Hazlett and Pam Gerard, got in touch and I came here. I was undecided about coming back, but Pete said if you come in and ride work you will get a chance. And he has been true to his word.”

Stackhouse is certainly a jockey in a hot vein of form. On February 15 he rode five winners for the first time in his career, and the following day he piloted Golden Archer into third place, sealing a Moody stable trifecta, behind Black Caviar and Moment Of Change in the group 1 Black Caviar Lightning.

”That was an amazing feeling. She is incredible,” said the jockey, who rode his first group winner in this country the Saturday before when There’s Only One scored for Moody in the group 3 Bellmaine Stakes at Caulfield.

With a background in farming and equestrian, Stackhouse is certainly grounded as a horseman.

He credits his time as a jumps jockey with making him a better rider. His headline success was in the Hawkes Bay Steeplechase aboard Youretheman at only his third ride over obstacles, in the winter of 2010.

”I did showjumping when I was younger. I then went to Mark Walker at Matamata but I got too heavy so I thought my time was up,” he said. ”I went home to the family farm and worked for dad. Then Tony and Pam got hold of me and encouraged me to become a jumps jockey. I found after working on the farm that my weight stabilised and dropped down and I can do 54 [kilograms] now.

”I won around 30 races over fences and hurdles. I finished second in the Grand National Steeple and then rode three winners on the flat. Riding over jumps has taught me a lot and improved me as a horseman.”

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

Colt ran his race before hitting the track

CAULFIELD
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THE IMPROVER

Race 4, No.5 HIGH SHOT

Mick Kent will be expecting sharp improvement from his highly talented colt High Shot after everything that could have gone wrong here first-up did go wrong. The horse was in a playful mood in the pre-parade area before the race and knocked his head. A vet inspection passed the sore and sorry colt fit to run, but it was clear by the sweat on his flanks and his general demeanour that he had run his race before stepping onto the track. The fact that he was able to hold on and run sixth in a strong field was remarkable, and the step up to 1800 metres plays to his strength and stamina. He proved his fitness with a soft barrier trial win at Traralgon earlier this week.

SUGGESTED BET Play High Shot as the roving banker in First 4’s with 1, 2, 3, 6

THE ROUGHIE

Race 8, No.9 FREERETURN

Jason Warren is throwing his smart, listed-winning sprinter in the deep end for this race but based on his form over the last six months it is a task that needed to be set. Freereturn graduated from a handy off-season, Saturday-class sprinter to a genuine listed-grade performer in the spring. He has a very strong fresh record and will get plenty of room to move from a middle gate. If Craig Newitt can get him into clear running from the 400, he can run on strongly and threaten the placegetters.

FAR AND WIDE

Morphettville, Race 7, No.7

LAST DAY

Normally, Last Day would need at least 1100 metres to get over the top of these but there is plenty of pressure in this race, which gives him a chance to finish off strongly. David Jolly can certainly find a good sprinter and he looks to have another one here with this unbeaten three-year-old, who has been really impressive in his two runs to date, finishing powerfully to beat good fields on both occasions. This is clearly his toughest test, a strong listed race with some good quality leaders to run down, but if each-way odds are available, he is well worth a bet.

SUGGESTED BET Back Last Day each way, assuming he is each-way odds.

FEELING EXOTIC

Warwick Farm Daily Double – 1, 2, 3, 4, 13 / 2, 5, 6. A $30 flexi bet returns 200% of the dividend

CAULFIELD QUADDIE

$50 returns approx 20% of the dividend

LEG 1 1, 10

LEG 2 1, 8, 9, 10, 14

LEG 3 3, 7, 8, 9, 14

LEG 4 2, 3, 5, 10, 11

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

Praying for Miracles in Diamond

LAST November Clare Lindop was quietly excited that she’d found a smart two-year-old who could have a promising career. Lindop, one of South Australia’s premier jockeys, has always been a hard marker and has trained herself not to become overwhelmed by a one-off gallop.
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But this time the youngster gave her the right feel and the two-year-old was entered for a barrier trial at Morphettville to get a guide on the depth of her talent.

But Lindop admits to being astounded after another filly raced past her in the middle stages to win the trial comfortably.

When they had pulled up, Lindop couldn’t help herself and leant over to Lauren Stojakovic, quizzing the mature-age apprentice about the nuggety but brilliant two-year-old.

”With a broad smile, Lauren said to me, ‘This is a filly called Miracles Of Life and, yes, she is very good,’ and I said, ‘You’re not wrong,’ ” Lindop said.

But Lindop was convinced the Morphettville trial wasn’t the first hint that Miracles Of Life had ability. The two-time premiership winner in Adelaide knew plenty of work had gone into Miracles Of Life before that day.

At Caulfield on Saturday, Miracles Of Life is the $2.90 favourite to win Victoria’s most important two-year-old race, the $1 million Blue Diamond Stakes (1200 metres).

It is no secret that argument rages on whether a two-kilogram apprentice at the age of 29 is capable of taking on the best jockeys in Australia in a group 1 event.

Lindop, a tough judge at the best of times and who sees Stojakovic in action every Saturday at Morphettville, is convinced connections have made the right decision.

”It’s funny. Whenever a good horse comes from Adelaide … the call is to put a Melbourne jockey on when you’re going to Melbourne, and perhaps in some cases that is correct but not this time,” she said.

”Lauren has a perfect and complete feel for Miracles Of Life. She’s been with her every day and understands every little quirky part of her make-up.

”In the case of major two-year-old races like this, connections have made the right decision. It’s a two-year-old race where horses can be erratic because basically they’re very new to what they are doing and an intimate understanding of a horse’s habits is just vital, whereas tactics aren’t as important.

”It’s a different story if you’re coming over for a race like the Caulfield Cup. That’s when you’re riding a seasoned racehorse and you’ve got to plan tactics and perhaps have a ‘B’ plan if things don’t go right. But in a Blue Diamond, it’s over 1200 metres and your main job as a jockey is to make your horse comfortable and relaxed more than other races when they get older.”

Each week Lindop sits opposite Stojakovic and believes the challenge that awaits her is an exciting one, not a daunting one.

Lindop points out that, like herself, Stojakovic is meticulous in her form study and believes she will know where each rival will be when the race is on.

”She sometimes outdoes me on studying the form. Actually, I’m really excited for her,” Lindop said.

Asked if she had given Stojakovic any advice, Lindop said: ”I think she’s had more than enough advice. You can get too much information. I’ve just said, ‘You know your filly and enjoy the moment.’

”OK, there are some big stables involved in the Blue Diamond and they’ll pull a few sneaky gear changes, which happens every year, but as an outsider she can use her barrier one to glide up and just sit on the pace. OK, she’ll need a little luck on the turn into the straight to get a run, but again we can’t forget they’re two-year-olds who more than likely will roll or fan off the track. That’s why the importance of having them relaxed and happy for you is more important than what the ones around you are doing.”

Lindop, as usual, has a full and exciting book of rides at Morphettville on Saturday. She has notched four group 1 victories and has won nearly every major race on the South Australian calendar, so she knows what she’s talking about.

Lindop is hoping Stojakovic keeps her feet on the ground and enjoys the moment.

”I’ve got great confidence in her. Sure, things can go wrong but things go wrong for the very best jockeys in Australia at times, so full credit to all those involved keeping Lauren on in such a race,” she said.

At 4pm on Saturday, Lindop will be glued to coverage of the race at Morphettville. She will be hoping that not only can another woman bring a major race trophy home to South Australia but that it is also her good friend who has worked hard for this day.

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