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Pick of the purple patch

ATTENTION all novelists, published and unpublished: you are creatures of fragile ego, notoriously plagued by self-doubt. There might be dark moments when you convince yourself you are so bad you might be the worst novelist ever.

Cheer up. You aren’t. Apart from those who lived and died in obscurity, that honour goes to Amanda McKittrick Ros, an Irish school teacher born in 1860 who wrote several novels (one, Irene Iddesleigh, was a bestseller) and a number of poems, all of staggering awfulness.

Photographs of Ros show a woman who looks a bit like Margaret Dumont, the perennial society matron and butt of jokes in the Marx brothers films, who never quite understood they were meant to be funny. Perhaps Dumont and Ros had something in common there.

Ros had a bit of trouble starting her brilliant career when no one would publish her work. But her first husband, Andrew, came to the rescue and put up the money for Irene Iddesleigh to be published. From then on, there was no stopping her.

It was not the plots of her novels that were so bad: they were romantic melodramas of the kind popular then, though much harder to follow than most. It was her prose that defied belief. Here’s a typical speech from Irene’s outraged husband: ”Speak! Irene! Wife! Woman! Do not sit in silence and allow the blood that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue!”

As Mark O’Connell explains in his book Epic Fail, Ros knew enough to make ”a lunge in the general direction of the literary” but not enough to understand how such things as metaphor and syntax work. Nothing gets called by its name. Eyes are ”globes of glare”, trousers are ”the southern necessary”. O’Connell suspects ”she may have inadvertently invented postmodernism”.

After a critic brought her work to wider attention, Ros acquired what every writer craves: a wildly enthusiastic cult following that persists to this day. She became the subject of a biography, and a literary festival was held in her honour. Mark Twain praised her and Aldous Huxley analysed her. The Inklings, the club of Oxford dons that included Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, held regular Ros readings at their local pub (they gave prizes to the readers who could last the longest without laughing).

Ros appreciated her fans, but she never grew to love her critics. Even though she was blessed with a complete lack of humour, she seemed to detect some mockery at work in the review that declared Irene Iddesleigh ”titanic, gigantic, awe-inspiring … I shrank before it in tears and terror”. She never lost an opportunity to attack her critics, even devoting two pages of her novel Delina Delaney to an entirely irrelevant diatribe against such ”hogwashing hooligans”.

Did she never come to understand that her whole fan base was ironic? Apparently not. She sincerely believed her work was up there with Defoe, Dickens et al, and once wrote to her publisher about the Nobel prize in literature: ”What think you of this prize? Do you think I should make a ‘dart’ for it?”

There’s something weirdly admirable about Ros: maybe it’s the serene courage of her artistic conviction. She should be celebrated in the same way we celebrate Ed Wood, the eccentric creator of Plan Nine from Outer Space, generally seen as the worst film made. She once said, ”I expect that I will be talked about at the end of 1000 years”, and I’m not at all convinced that she’s wrong.


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Merger moves closer

THERE’S a long way to go but the proposed merger between Random House and Penguin is closer to becoming a reality after the US Justice Department completed an investigation of the deal and said it would have no objections. It’s safe to assume that other regulatory authorities might well follow the example set by the Americans and approve the union that will give the new entity more than 25 per cent of the global consumer anglophone publishing market. When Penguin’s global boss, John Makinson, was in Melbourne last October, shortly after the announcement of the merger, this column asked him about the possibility of the deal coming unstuck. ”The regulatory process is a pretty complicated one; it involves a lot of different jurisdictions so it would be a very brave chief executive who said there is no possibility of this thing going wrong here but you would expect that we would have taken fairly comprehensive legal advice before making an announcement of this kind, which indeed we did. So we feel we have the ability to meet the regulatory tests in the major jurisdictions, but I don’t want to pretend this is going to be a completely straightforward process. Obviously we’re going to have very detailed discussions with the Department of Justice in the States, with the European Commission and, indeed, here in Australia and Canada and other jurisdictions.” The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is undertaking an ”informal review” and considering the proposed transaction under section 50 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which ”prohibits acquisitions that substantially lessen competition in a market, or are likely to do so”. The ACCC expects to reveal its outcome in early March.

Amazon under attack

WHEN the Random and Penguin deal was announced, much was made of it as creating a bulwark against the increasing power of Amazon. Makinson told Bookmarks that ”the strength of Amazon featured in our thinking just as the pressure on physical booksellers featured in our thinking”. So Makinson might have given three cheers to the comments of James Daunt, managing director of British bookshop chain Waterstones. Certainly owners of bricks-and-mortar bookshops would. In an interview with the Financial Times, Daunt got stuck into the online retailer for destroying jobs and for the loose tax regime it enjoys. ”What proportion of jobs do they create in a warehouse relative to the number they destroy on the immediate high streets around them, and why is the taxpayer funding this destruction?” He said the online retailer’s business model was a ”job destroyer” and castigated politicians for not creating tougher tax rules for multinational companies. But to be fair to Daunt, who last year made a deal with Amazon to sell its Kindle e-book readers, he did acknowledge in the interview that, like supermarkets, Amazon offered ”tremendously good value”.

Shop sales steady

FIGURES from the US should give enthusiasts for the traditional bookshop some cheer. In 2012, sales dipped by only half a percentage point to $15.3 billion, a result that was described by Publishers Weekly as the smallest drop in years. The monthly results fluctuated throughout the year – in May, for example, they jumped 5.7 per cent compared with the same month in the previous year, while in September they dropped 8.3 per cent. December bookshop sales climbed 2.9 per cent to $1.7 billion.

A Tartt return

SHE can hardly be called prolific – two novels in 21 years – but at long last another is on its way. Donna Tartt’s third novel, The Goldfinch, will be published in the US, Britain and Australia in October by Little, Brown. Her most recent novel, The Little Friend, came out 10 years ago to little enthusiasm from readers and critics, unlike her first, The Secret History, which sold millions on publication in 1992. Apparently, the new novel has been with the publisher since 2008. According to its description, young Theo Decker survives an explosion in New York that kills his mother. To avoid being taken into care, he scrambles between nights in friends’ apartments and on the city streets. He then becomes obsessed with a small, mysteriously captivating painting that reminds him of his mother and soon draws Theo into the art underworld. The novel ”is a haunted odyssey through present-day America. It is a story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the enormous power of art.”

Tolstoy with sex appeal

ANDREW Davies has a pretty good track record adapting for the small screen classic novels from the 19th century. Think Pride and Prejudice – yes, he was responsible for Colin Firth as Mr Darcy emerging wet and tantalising from that lake – Bleak House and Little Dorrit. In Sense and Sensibility he had a fireside sex scene at the start of the first episode, a seduction scene not mentioned and certainly not dwelt on in Jane Austen’s novel until page 218. When Davies spoke at the Melbourne Writers Festival in 2008, he told the audience at one session that Pride and Prejudice was all about ”sex and money and young people with raging hormones”. So what are we to make of the news that Davies’ next project is a six-part adaptation for the BBC of Tolstoy’s whopper, War and Peace? He says Natasha Rostova beats Elizabeth Bennet as the most loveable heroine in literature. And Davies wants to get women ”excited about one or two of the male stars”, apparently.

POETRYA Useful Fan

Queen Victoria woke up near the embersof a burnt-out gum, where Tony Abbottdozed lightly in his capacity as VolunteerFirefighter. Her copy of his publication,The Minimal Monarchy proved a useful fanfor her. Active charity work always seemed to her odd, like Mr Gladstonecombing the streets for ladies to reform,but she supposed being Leader of her Oppositionwas still the cause of great frustration. Abbottseeing her at last felt huge reliefthat she wasn’t Santamaria, Mannixor Loyola, with all of whom he’d growndeeply tired of conversation. “Mam,”he implored, “I do not despise women,” sinceshe looked motherly not minimal and seemedto understand him with her owlet gaze. She sawthe genuine stillness of hurt, did notpoint out that electorally it would not matter, said:”Some woman has flirted with you, thenattacked you and you expected goodness, justas my dear Mr Disraeli required Mr Gladstoneto provide him a radical context. But onecannot always rely on the enemy’s rightness, a flirtnot to attack one after flirting. That is whatthe flirtatious always do. Concern yourself,as Mr Gladstone would, with the singlemothers she impoverished on that very day.”  “As Mr Disraeli also would,” he added, forthe mercy from her fierce woman’s eyes.

Jennifer Maiden



NIGERIAN novelist Chika Unigwe discusses her writing. 6.15pm. The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, city.

LES Murray on the sacred in life. 6.30pm. Carmelite Centre, 214 Richardson Street, Middle Park. $25. Bookings:; 9690 5430.


CLIVE Hamilton considers the threats posed by ”geoengineering” the planet. 12.45pm. The Wheeler Centre.

MICK Dodson discusses indigenous politics with Robert Manne. 1.30pm. John Scott Meeting House, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

JAMES Button discusses his memoir Speechless with Bruno Lettieri. 6.30pm. VU Bar, Building M, Level O, Footscray Park campus, Victoria University, Ballarat Road, Footscray. $13/$6. Bookings:; 0422 298 643.

LAUNCH of Belinda Hawkins’ Every Parent’s Nightmare. 6.30pm. Readings Hawthorn, 701 Glenferrie Road.

NOEL Tovey discusses Little Black Bastard and And Then I Found Me. 7.45pm. Hares & Hyenas, 63 Johnston Street, Fitzroy. $15/$10. Bookings: trybooking苏州美甲美睫培训 (keyword: hares).

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Setting a killer pace

A PARAMEDIC knows better than anyone that catastrophe, even death, lies in wait for ordinary people, striking at the most unlikely of times. Meeting people on the worst day of their life was one reason Katherine Howell decided to step back from the brightly lit, high-stakes world of emergency medicine to write.

”I was losing it, psychologically,” Howell recalls of the decision seven years ago. ”I came to think everyone was destined for some kind of grim end. I really believed it was only a matter of time before I or someone in my family would get cancer.”

Chronic fatigue, stress and a patient who once threatened, ”I know where you live and I have a shotgun,” unravelled a composure built over 15 years. Years of scribbling away at drafts of unpublished novels during rare moments of downtime crushed what remained of her professional distance.

”I’d been writing for years and the better I got at it, the better I was able to put myself into characters’ shoes,” she recalls. ”I couldn’t turn that back off at work.

”I remember one accident where this young girl was dying in this car wreck. I was thinking, ‘Isn’t it terrible? All her family are there watching us, trying to get their loved one out of the car.’ I just couldn’t turn that off. I couldn’t stop thinking of jobs after I’d done them. Whereas others I worked with would say we’d done the best we could, I would agonise over them. I had high blood pressure, skin problems and was seeing a psychologist.”

Frantic, the draft manuscript Howell turned into her debut novel, the first in the police-procedural crime series featuring investigator Ella Marconi, was eventually picked up by Pan Macmillan. Selling into 11 countries, it won the Australian Sisters of Crime Davitt Award for adult fiction.

Her next, The Darkest Hour, won the Davitt readers’ choice award in 2009. Cold Justice was named best novel in 2011, with the Davitt judges remarking on Howell’s ”superb characterisations” and the warmth and empathy of her writing, concluding the author was ”fast showing herself to be one of Australia’s leading authors”.

Web of Deceit is her latest, a tautly plotted crime thriller that unfolds with Howell’s signature shot of adrenalin, an ambulance call-out.

Sirens yelp through familiar Sydney streets as the reader is immersed in the paramedics’ vertiginous world of chaos and carnage. The emergency dash serves the novel’s demands for heart-hammering suspense and unpredictability and pitches Marconi and the paramedic team of Jane and Alex on a twin trajectory that unites them at Town Hall Station in response to a ”code 4 under a train”.

To their surprise, the paramedics discover the victim is Marko Meixner, a road-accident patient they had treated earlier that day. Meixner had driven his silver sedan into a power pole, the paramedics arriving at the accident scene to find him weeping, hunkered down into his seat peering over the dash, claiming someone is hunting him down.

Unlike her boss, Marconi is unwilling to write off Marko’s death as suicide or accident.

In Frantic, Marconi is introduced to readers as the restless detective eager for attachment to the homicide squad to which men of duller intellect have been promoted ahead of her.

By Web of Deceit, Marconi is a permanent member of the homicide team and having trouble bowing to the male-dominated brass.

Marconi is in the tradition of Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski: not only a smart detective but also a warm and compassionate woman who is more than a little unlucky in love, the type to blink away tears as she shoots to kill.

Seething when her homicide investigation is obstructed by overtime bans and petty bean counting, Marconi resorts to unorthodox policing methods to outwit her jailbird key suspect with a watertight alibi. When her boss demands she drop the stroppy attitude, Marconi can barely restrain a derisory snort.

Marconi is an idealist who always falls on the right side of justice, yet is wise enough to understand that ”even though we win, we lose”. It’s a life lesson Howell carried from paramedic to author: you can cradle the injured and sick, patch their wounds, but you can’t make the dead walk again.

Howell’s experience in the NSW Ambulance Service gives her Marconi series authenticity, though she dislikes the vogue for graphic crime scenes and gory forensic examinations. Sitting harbourside, eyeing a grey choppy swell, she finds writing can ”do her head in” some days.

On a good day, characters feel alive on the page. On a bad day, she starts imagining what a lovely fire the pages would make. ”Other times you’ll think what you’ve written is magnificent, but after you go off and work on other stories, you’ll come back and wonder what drugs you were on.”

The perfect book in her head is rarely the perfect book on paper, she says. To her brother, Phillip Guy, a writer of literary short stories, she comes with perplexing syntax problems. ”He’s good with the nitty-gritty; I’m about the whole rush of the novel.”

Howell’s first, naive attempts at writing were racy ripoffs of the Trixie Belden series, mysteries she had enjoyed as a teenager featuring a heroine who manages to solve mysteries that baffle dimwitted authorities.

”Nancy [Drew] was too prissy,” Howell says, laughing at the young detective who went on to trump Trixie’s popularity. ”Trixie is down to earth and a tomboy.”

During a year at university studying agricultural science, then 15 years working as a paramedic, Howell never stopped writing. Practice made close to perfect.

”In all that time I never knew if I was going to get there but I wanted to write stories that made other people feel the way I feel about other people’s books,” she says. ”I’ve met a lot of aspiring authors who have wonderful talent but they don’t have that willingness to sit down and keep working, and put aside that manuscript and write something else, and put aside that manuscript and write something else.

”They don’t have that stubbornness to keep going or they want to write but they don’t want to edit or they don’t want to listen to what an editor has to say.” Those shelved manuscripts – the Patricia Cornwell pastiche, the ghost detective fiction – are instructional if nothing else. ”I use them for workshops and ask, ‘What’s wrong with this page?’ and we all laugh. But I can see how with each one I got a little bit better and I learnt how to put in information, how to develop characters.”

The last of her four manuscripts became Frantic. Originally, she took it to Selwa Anthony, her agent, a woman with a reputation for spotting an instant bestseller. She sent it back. Where was the suspense, Anthony asked.

Howell decided to make the art of fictional suspense the topic of her master’s degree at the University of Queensland, then forensically applied theory to the new novel, stripping the narrative of extraneous detail, ramping up the tension, cultivating sympathy for the central characters and ending each chapter with a cliffhanger. Before starting a novel, Howell makes a habit of re-reading her thesis.

Frantic dramatises police corruption through the anguish of a good cop caught in its dirty paws, and there is a running thread in the series about gender politics in the force, but Howell is insistent that hard political truths should never subvert the primacy of plot and its urgent pacing.

The series’ setting is identifiably Sydney – Howell grew up in suburban Normanhurst but now lives on the Gold Coast – as Marconi trawls for evidence in Ryde, Granville, a Neutral Bay boat shed and an accounting firm in the city, though not in the crime-postcard way Ian Rankin evokes Edinburgh or James Lee Burke sketches New Orleans.

At 42, Howell finds herself at the vanguard of Australian female crime writers including P. M. Newton, Kathryn Fox, Sulari Gentill and Swaziland-born Australian Malla Nunn, whose book Blessed Are the Dead has been shortlisted for the Edgars.

The indisputable godmother of the genre is Cornwell. Howell believes it was her huge sales and the interest her books generated in forensic science that inspired many women here and overseas to write crime fiction.

”[She] creates an increased appetite in the market for crime fiction generally and so opens the door for more authors to be published here. Another reason might be that many women readers love crime fiction, so when they write, that’s what they produce. That’s why I write it, at least.”

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Ardossi gets nod for MVP despite ban

Canberra Capitals players dress up for their end of year presentation dinner at Woden Tradies.Brigitte Ardossi was crowned the Canberra Capitals most valuable player on Friday night, the club opting not to rule her ineligible after slapping her with an internal suspension late in the season.

In a disappointing campaign for the seven-time WNBL champions, the award was deserved recognition for the power forward, who was clearly their best and most consistent player.

Ardossi averaged 12.6 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and stepped up admirably in the absence of injured superstar Lauren Jackson.

Basketball ACT chief executive Tony Jackson and Capitals coach Carrie Graf decided on Friday to award the 25-year-old the club’s highest individual honour.

The Capitals took the extraordinary step of suspending Ardossi for the last three matches of the season after she received an unsportsmanlike foul for deliberately tripping Townsville’s Rachael Flanagan.

The WNBL tribunal handed her a two-match ban, but Canberra refused to let her play in its final game against West Coast.

Ardossi expressed genuine remorse after the Flanagan incident. She emailed the Fire guard an apology, and fronted the media to express her regret.

She received rapturous applause when her award was announced at the Woden Tradies Club, having become a fan favourite in her two seasons at Canberra.

For the third straight year guard Carly Wilson was given the Kellie Abrams award for defensive player of the year, which was named after the former Capitals skipper who won six championships at the club.

AIS recruit Casey Samuels won the player on the rise award, an accolade won by Ardossi last season. Capitals skipper Jess Bibby won the players’ player gong for the second straight time after a strong finish to the season. Friday night’s function ended a momentous week for the Capitals after Graf re-signed for the next three seasons.

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Time to tackle the trade problem

Forget shoulder charges, referee blunders and peptides – the biggest blight on rugby league is the farcical situation of players signing with clubs while still with another.

Without downplaying the significance of allegations of doping in the NRL, initial reports are those incidents are isolated and not a widespread problem.

Players switching allegiances mid-season is.

Canberra Raiders young gun Josh Papalii is the latest to be caught up in the messy saga, as the Parramatta Eels secured his services for the 2014 season and beyond on Friday night.

Let’s make it clear, I don’t blame Papalii or his manager for engaging in talks with a rival club for a contract beyond this season.

It’s the system players have become forced to operate under, and one the NRL persists with despite constant condemnation from the game’s most influential stakeholders – the fans.

Without people walking through the turnstiles, or more importantly switching on their television sets, the NRL wouldn’t be the billion-dollar business it is today.

I’ve got no doubt players remain professional and don’t drop their level of performance irrespective of where they’re playing next year.

But how are fans expected to cheer for their favourite star and buy merchandise featuring their name or number knowing in 12 months’ time the jersey will be redundant?

We grow up with a belief sport is a tribal beast.

You don’t choose who to support, it’s instead passed on to us through the generations.

You stick by your club through thick and thin, the good and the bad, no matter how dire the situation.

Raiders fans know that better than most, having endured a roller-coaster existence of making the finals one year and missing the next for the best part of a decade, and haven’t won a premiership since 1994.

Football clubs pull on those heartstrings when they go on membership drives.

Campaigns thrive on emotive language, throwing around phrases such as ”belonging” and ”culture” with reckless abandon.

Then, in the same breath, we’re to understand sport is a professional business, and your favourite player one season may be running out in a different jersey the next year.

I’ve got no qualms with players switching clubs. It is, after all, the way they make a living.

The vast majority of the population would do the same – leave one employer for another if there was a significant pay rise on offer.

Papalii’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last.

New Zealand Warriors fans would have had mixed emotions seeing James Maloney run around last year knowing he’d be lining up for the Sydney Roosters in 2013.

The players’ association makes the argument its members need job security and can’t be expected to end a season not knowing where they’ll be the following year.

It seems to work pretty well in other sports.

AFL clubs can’t technically sign rival players until the end of the season, although many have been rumoured to have all but had the ink dry before the deal has been announced.

Soccer is just as successful at keeping their movements under wraps, while the biggest issue facing rugby union in this country is the uncertainty of re-signing players before knowing how much the Australian Rugby Union will contribute.

The Brumbies are keen to lock in several of their young stars, including scrumhalf Nic White and back-rower Colby Fainga’a, but can’t do it until they know what top-up amount they’ll get from the game’s governing body.

Perhaps a better example lies overseas.

No-one does professional sport better than the United States, where players are seen as assets and can be traded at a whim as seen at the conclusion of Friday’s NBA trade deadline.

There were crazy scenes in Houston where three of their players left their arena 20 minutes before their game with the Thunder as they’d been sent packing to another team.

Not even time for a farewell game, yet Papalii and others who abide by the NRL’s ludicrous rules get a farewell season. The madness continues.Deserving winner

Common sense prevailed at the Canberra Capitals’ presentation night with forward Brigitte Ardossi a deserving winner of the club’s Most Valuable Player award.

The stand-out player in a disappointing season, Ardossi was in danger of being ruled ineligible for an ugly tripping incident, which resulted in her being handed a three-game suspension.

Ardossi overstepped the mark on that occasion, but once she had served her punishment that should have been the end of the story.

She’s the type of tough and uncompromising player the Capitals sorely need to retain if they’re to turn their fortunes around next season.

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Steelers set to steal the show

Just two things remain in the Australian Steelers’ preparation – fine-tuning their defence and finding out whether their hitting is as good as coach Bob Harrow thinks it is.

With less than a week before the Aussies begin their world championship defence, the Steelers will play four games against Japan at Hawker International Softball Centre on Sunday and Monday.

Then the team will leave for New Zealand on Wednesday and play its first game of the world championships against the US on Friday.

Not surprisingly, Harrow was confident in his team’s pitching.

He has the two best pitchers in the world at his disposal – Canberra’s Adam Folkard and Andrew Kirkpatrick.

Harrow just wants to make sure the fielders all do their jobs to back up the duo.

He has confidence in his hitters, with Canberra’s Michael Tanner leading them off.

Harrow said Joel Southam, Nick Shailes and the ACT’s Zenon Winters were some of the best players in the world with a bat in their hand.

Kirkpatrick is also a world-class competitor with the bat.

”We know we have the pitching … it’s just if we can get the young newcomers blended in with the veterans,” Harrow told The Canberra Times on Friday.

”We’ve got a faster team than last time, we’ve got as good or better hitters … it’s just now if we can get our defence together … and seeing if our hitting is as good as I think it is.”

The Japan games are the final hit-out before the title defence begins, making it a crucial part of the Steelers’ preparation.

Harrow said the Japanese were a world-class team in their own right, having finished sixth at the last worlds in 2009.

”They’re a world powerhouse, they’re up there with us; they play a different style of game,” he said.

”It’s very important, plus they’ve got good pitching, so it’s quite important we play them and see what level we’re at – we need to be a lot sharper on defence because they’re so quick and can execute.”


At Hawker International Softball Centre.

Saturday: Game 1 at 2pm, game 2 at 2pm; Sunday: Game 3 at 11am, game 4 at 1.30pm.

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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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