Monthly Archives: April 2019

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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