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AFL Draft: Players open up on what the night is really like

AFL Draft: Players open up on what the night is really like

23/11/2017, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 24935940

Hundreds of teenagers across the country will be glued to television screens on Friday evening, knowing their life could change at any minute.

The lucky ones will have their name called in the 2017 AFL Draft, held at the Sydney Showgrounds, safe in the knowledge that, for the next two years at least, they will be a professional footballer.

Many of those picked will have to pack up and leave home, and mum’s cooking, to start a new life interstate, while others will be overwhelmed with disappointment when they do not hear their name.

The mix of emotions felt by those directly involved in the draft is unimaginable from afar, but like all current players, Richmond defender Nick Vlastuin has experienced the rollercoaster ride before.

“I was pretty confident in the year that I’d had – but I was nervous about where I could end up,” Vlastuin told The New Daily.

The Victorian got his wish, remaining in the state to join Richmond at pick No.9 in the 2012 draft.

“I just felt relief once my name was called out … and then excitement and nerves all in one,” he said.

He can barely remember the next hour.

“It’s all a blur from memory,” Vlastuin said.

Damien Hardwick
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick and Vlastuin at the 2012 draft. Photo: Getty

“I remember getting a call on the night from [Richmond stars Trent] Cotchin and [Brett] Deledio and just being starstruck.”

While Vlastuin remained in his home state, many others aren’t so lucky.

They either go interstate or miss out altogether, with St Kilda champion Stephen Milne doing so in 2000.

Milne went unselected in that year’s national draft, prompting a serious test of fortitude.

“I was always hoping my name would get read out,” he told The New Daily.

“You don’t lose hope but you question yourself.”

The pressures are endless for those in the draft pool, and the strenuous lead-up is highlighted by the difficult juggle of football and year 12 studies.

“I was pretty fortunate in my draft year that I finished year 12 a year earlier than most … so I was just focusing on footy,” Vlastuin said.

But with enormous commitment to the game required, these young men are often left with little to fall back on in their careers.

“I was more nervous for the [2000] rookie draft than anything because it would have been my last hope if I didn’t get picked,” Milne said.

After missed opportunities, Milne was finally selected by the Saints with pick 23 in the rookie draft.

Stephen Milne St Kilda
Milne kicked 574 goals in 275 games for St Kilda. Photo: Getty

“It was a dream come true,” he said.

Draftees don’t have long to bask in the glow, though, with a demanding training schedule quickly bringing them back to earth.

“The next couple of weeks after you get drafted you’re on cloud nine,” Vlastuin said.

“Then training gets pretty tough and you just sleep, train and eat for the next couple of months.”

Despite being a first-round draft pick, Vlastuin said he never felt any additional pressure to succeed.

“I didn’t mind when I got picked,” he said.

“Every pick gets the same two years on the contract.

“As soon as you get to a club they don’t talk about what pick you are anymore and you all get treated the same.”

The pick number is clearly inconsequential – so much so, Milne is unable to recall what number he was taken.

“It’s kind of the same, getting drafted or rookie drafted, because it’s the chance to play at an AFL club,” he said.

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Swimming Australia head Mark Anderson dives into Collingwood CEO role

Swimming Australia head Mark Anderson dives into Collingwood CEO role

23/11/2017, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 24935347

Swimming Australia’s Mark Anderson has been appointed the new chief executive of Collingwood Football Club.

Anderson will leave Swimming Australia after four and a half years at the helm, and has also worked with Hockey Australia and Essendon Football Club as its chief commercial officer.

He will take over the role vacated by the Magpie’s long-serving chief executive, Gary Pert, who announced his resignation in July.

Pert resigned when the club was in the middle of a review looking into the club’s underwhelming on-field performance.

The Magpies have not made the AFL top eight since 2013.

Anderson said Collingwood was “one of the great clubs” in Australian sport.

“There is rich history, tradition, passion, scale and success in the Collingwood story,” Anderson said.

“The challenge to build on these wonderful attributes and lead a truly iconic organisation into a new age is a tremendous opportunity.”

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said Anderson had shown an ability to lead.

“Mark understands the unforgiving realities of elite sport, having led organisations competing on world stages, and has proven his strong commercial sense in securing landmark sponsorship and broadcast deals across the AFL, swimming and hockey,” he said.

“The Collingwood Forever Blueprint clearly outlines the direction this club needs to take and we are certain Mark has the skillset and character to lead a 21st-century sports organisation that houses elite male and female teams and is home to an unparalleled supporter base.”

On departing Swimming Australia, Anderson said the organisation was going through a time of change and “the job is not done”.

“Although I was not planning to leave at this time, I am confident that we have highly talented staff, coaches and systems in place to deliver future success,” he said.

Anderson will start the new role in early March.

-AAP

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The Ashes: England surprise with excellent start to series

The Ashes: England surprise with excellent start to series

23/11/2017, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 24933959

England fought back from an early setback to claim control of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba on Thursday.

As of 4.30pm (AEST), England was 1-111, having battled its way out of a difficult morning session before assuming control following a rain delay.

Playing just his eighth Test, English batsman James Vince has impressed and sits on 66 not out.

Opener Mark Stoneman is the other unbeaten batsman, on 46.

The pitch is offering little to the Australian bowlers despite curator Kevin Mitchell Jnr telling The New Daily in the build-up that they aimed for “bounce and pace” to assist Steve Smith’s quicks.

The only joy so far from Australia came when former England captain Alastair Cook departed for just two.

He fell in the third over when edging a Mitchell Starc delivery to Peter Handscomb at first slip.

It was a brilliant start for Australia and a big crowd at the Brisbane venue roared with approval.

But that was as good as it got for the hosts, with Stoneman and Vince digging deep to stop the momentum.

Vince has been particularly impressive, with a series of slashing cover drives suggesting he could be in for an excellent summer.

The pair took England to lunch at 1-59 off 29 overs and became more expansive after rain saw the resumption delayed by one hour and 35 minutes.

Mitchell Starc
Starc celebrates after dismissing Cook. Photo: Getty

Former Australia captain Michael Clarke urged captain Smith to change his tactics.

“I don’t think, just yet, they’ve used their aggression,” he told the Nine Network.

“I think he [Josh Hazlewood] can stay really patient and bowl that disciplined line and length but maybe [Mitchell] Starc can come around the wicket … try a few bouncers … try a few different things. Try that yorker.”

He also questioned Smith’s field placement, saying he was “not quite sure” why defensive fields were being used.

Australia stuck with its selected XI, despite injury doubts over David Warner (neck) and Shaun Marsh (back).

Glenn Maxwell was rushed to Brisbane to be on standby but was not required, as Cameron Bancroft made his Test debut and wicketkeeper Tim Paine returned to the side for the first time since 2010.

England opted for Jake Ball to play as a fourth paceman, favoured ahead of Craig Overton.

The post The Ashes: England surprise with excellent start to series appeared first on The New Daily.



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The Ashes: Vince shines but Aussies finish strongly on day one at the Gabba

The Ashes: Vince shines but Aussies finish strongly on day one at the Gabba

23/11/2017, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 24935348

A strong end to day one has seen Australia’s bowlers take a slight edge after the opening chapter of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba.

England’s batsmen had successfully negotiated a fair portion of the opening day, but at stumps the tourists were 4-196, with Dawid Malan on 28 not out and Moeen Ali unbeaten on 13.

After all the speculation about Glenn Maxwell being a late inclusion, the Australians went in as picked, with David Warner opening with Cameron Bancroft and Shaun Marsh due in at six.

The tourists won the toss and chose to bat, despite all the hype about Australia’s battery of pacemen including Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

The pacemen made an early breakthrough, with Starc striking in the third over of the day, his delivery drawing the edge from the former England skipper Alastair Cook, and the ball was taken nicely at first slip by Peter Handscomb.

The English were in trouble at 1-2, and the Gabba crowd roared, sensing an opportunity for the home side to make inroads.

Opener Mark Stoneman was joined at the crease by James Vince, and the Australians tried very hard to get another breakthrough. They tied the pair down, with scoring very slow early on.

Chances were almost non-existent after Cook’s dismissal.

The English pair chose to leave plenty of deliveries, but eventually Vince started playing some shots on both sides of the wicket, and he began to accumulate some runs.

Stoneman also showed a preference for shots square of the wicket, and after a slow start he started to beat the field.

The English went to lunch at 1-59, a solid comeback after the poor start.

Mitchell Starc
Starc celebrates after dismissing Cook. Photo: Getty

Any hopes of immediately building on their position went out the window, however, as rain began falling shortly before the scheduled resumption — it seemed like a passing shower, but in the end the players were off for an hour-and-a-half before things got under way.

When play resumed, Stoneman and Vince continued to make progress, as the usually bowler-friendly Gabba pitch appeared far more docile.

When Cummins had a shout for LBW turned down against Vince half an hour before tea, it was one of the first times the bowlers had had any sort of win.

Vince had already reached his 50 and kept going, while Stoneman pushed on to his half-century, getting there with a false shot through slips for two to make it 1-119.

Ground staff rush to cover the pitch at the Gabba
Rain delayed the afternoon session for an hour and a half on day one at the Gabba. Photo: AP

The English were not breaking any records for speed of scoring, but they were getting the job done of keeping their wickets intact.

The Australians had a big chance before tea, and it fell to wicketkeeper Tim Paine — Nathan Lyon’s delivery turned and took the edge of Vince but Paine couldn’t hold it and the partnership continued.

Finally, just before the break, Pat Cummins produced a brilliant delivery to clean bowl Stoneman for 53, ending the partnership and bringing skipper Joe Root to the crease.

England was 2-128 at tea, and the Australians returned with renewed vigour for the final session, hoping to crack into the middle order by stumps.

Before this Test, Vince’s highest-scoring knock for England had been 42 — he was eyeing off a first Test century at the Gabba, but it all came unstuck when he was on 83.

A poor decision to run for a quick single was punished as Nathan Lyon threw down the stumps from cover to end an excellent innings.

Nathan Lyon and David Warner
Nathan Lyon’s (L) stunning run out of England’s James Vince turned the tide on day one at the Gabba. Photo: AP

The Australians were growing in enthusiasm, and Cummins struck again in the final hour when he speared one in at Root’s legs.

Umpire Marais Erasmus did not give an LBW decision, but the replays showed the skipper was plumb, out for 15.

The Australians took the new ball after 80 overs and Starc steamed in — an LBW shout was turned down and dismissed on review, and the umpires then called a halt due to the light.

Of the Australian bowlers, Cummins finished with 2-59, Starc with 1-45, Hazlewood 0-51 and Lyon was the most economical with 0-40 off 24 overs.

-ABC

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The Ashes: Peter Handscomb’s ‘unbelievable’ series preparation

The Ashes: Peter Handscomb’s ‘unbelievable’ series preparation

22/11/2017, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 24922846

When you’re an international cricketer about to play in the Ashes, everyone wants a piece of you. Even Usain Bolt.

As part of a recent Gatorade promotion, Australian batsman Peter Handscomb got the chance to spend time with arguably the greatest athlete of all time.

In the middle of the MCG, cricket tragic Bolt probed Handscomb with questions in exchange for the Jamaican’s running tips.

“It was pretty unbelievable,” Handscomb told The New Daily on the eve of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba.

“He just had this aura about him. He is the fastest man in history and it was great for him to teach us some of the tricks of the trade to help us between the wickets.

“He was talking to us about the importance of power and was working with us to get out of the crease nice and low when turning on our twos and threes.

“Speed between the wickets is crucial and every little inch counts in helping us get the edge over the English this summer.”

England’s visit comes at an important stage in Handscomb’s career and provides the Victorian with a chance to establish himself as a fixture in Australia’s top order.

In 10 Tests so far, the 26-year-old has hit two centuries and averages 53.07 with the bat – no mean feat given six of those matches came on the sub-continent earlier this year.

Usain Bolt
Bolt watches over Handscomb and some of his team-mates. Photo: Getty

In one of those, Handscomb pushed himself to the brink of exhaustion, scoring an excellent 82 on a difficult Chittagong pitch in extreme temperatures.

It was an innings that those who saw it won’t forget, and it is that sort of form that has Handscomb confident of a big summer – even if he has passed 50 just once in six Sheffield Shield hits this season.

“Everything’s feeling good,” he said.

“My movement feels good and my balance is good.

“We’ve had a couple of really good training sessions here [in Brisbane] so I’m feeling good coming into the summer.”

For an Australian cricketer, playing in an Ashes series at home is as good as it gets and Handscomb, born to English parents, is buzzing with excitement.

“I’m very excited. When we put our arms around each other for the national anthem and then the first ball – it’s going to be epic,” he said.

“They [parents] have been out in Australia for 35-40 years, so they’re Aussies now. But it has been funny – I have got a lot of family in England sending me messages.”

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor has backed Handscomb to thrive, despite English question marks about his technique.

“He’s now got enough experience to thrive this summer,” Taylor, who will commentate the series for the Nine Network, told The New Daily.

“He has had a really good start to his career and interestingly, he is the only survivor from when Australia made some big changes last summer.

Peter Handscomb Australia
Handscomb celebrates an SCG hundred. Photo: Getty

“Matt Renshaw has now been dropped and Nic Maddinson didn’t last long – but he is still there and deservedly so. He has played well.”

Taylor sees similarities in Handscomb and skipper Steve Smith, the two Aussie batsmen with a Test average north of 50.

“In a way he is like Steve Smith,” Taylor said.

“He doesn’t have the perfect technique, but what he does have is a technique that he makes runs with. And that’s most important.”

While Handscomb said he is “very confident” about Australia winning the Ashes, Taylor isn’t so sure.

“Australia should start favourites, but I don’t see a massive gulf in class,” he said.

“It’s hard to predict. Both sides have had inconsistent results and both have vulnerabilities.

“England’s [bowling] attack is pretty good – but playing at the Gabba is a real advantage for Australia.”

Much has been made of the pre-match sledging between both sides, something Taylor describes as “nonsense”.

“It means absolutely nothing come the first ball. But it generates pre-series hype and is all a bit of fun,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to it!”

The post The Ashes: Peter Handscomb’s ‘unbelievable’ series preparation appeared first on The New Daily.



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From African refugee camp to elite AFL prospect

From African refugee camp to elite AFL prospect

22/11/2017, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 24921550

Changkouth Jiath said he once thought Australian Rules football was a “stupid game”, but this Friday he will become a professional.

Born in an Ethiopian refugee camp, Changkouth grew up in country Victoria and earlier this month he was nominated by the Hawthorn Football Club, who is committed to drafting him.

But Changkouth (who goes by CJ) said he never imagined himself playing Australia’s indigenous game.

“My school mates were always having a kick of the footy and I would always look over and see them playing when I was playing basketball,” he said.

CJ playing football
CJ caught the eye of football scouts and played in the AFL feeder league. Photo: Supplied/ABC

“They invited me to come over and train at the local football club (in Morwell) and ever since then I fell in love with the game.

“It was kind of a weird-shaped ball and I thought it was stupid. But ever since I started I tried to motivate myself to be better.”

He instantly attracted the eye of local scouts and was soon playing in the AFL feeder league known as the TAC Cup.

CJ then moved to the prestigious Xavier College on a scholarship and has spent the past two years there as a boarder.

“I couldn’t really imagine the journey it’s taken me on,” he said.

CJ always took a liking to sport in the refugee camp. He was obsessively kicking a soccer ball around and his athletic prowess has always been a standout.

“I just love running and kicking goals and winning really,” he said.

It is his drive to succeed that amazes CJ’s dad, Stephen Riek, who lived in the dangerous Ethiopian refugee camp for 14 years.

“I left South Sudan in 1998, just my wife and I. All my children were born there and then in 2007 I was given the opportunity to move to Australia,” he said.

“Definitely it was not easy to be in a refugee camp. I think you can’t fully understand the situation in the refugee camp.”

Mr Reike looked around the leafy expanses of Xavier College.

“It is totally different to where we are now because a lot of things are going on there [South Sudan] because there is no security and education is rare. So, it is not for children, even for adults it is hard for them,” he said.

“But it was not easy coming here to adapt to the culture [in Australia], So for my kid to be doing so well is very good.”

Mr Rieke said he would drive his son all around the state to play the game.

“Because I had six kids, it was not an easy job for me, so for CJ to reach this point gives so much happiness to me and my family,” he said.

“This is what a father should do, giving his children the opportunity to what they want to do and achieve their dreams.”

At Xavier College and the new Next Generation Academy where he trained at Hawthorn, he impressed playing half forward and the wing with his speed and ball use.

Xavier football director Lachlan Buszard said CJ could be one of the best players in the AFL.

“He could be sensational, he can play any position, it’s always speculative when you say how good he can be but from what I’ve seen here he’ll be up there amongst the best in the AFL,” Mr Buszard said.

“From an athletic point of view … he could be a very good player for a long period of time.

“He’s played a lot less than someone who’s grown up here but he’s worked really hard and it’s the things you don’t see, the work he puts in off the field.”

-ABC

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Why Maria Sharapova is under police investigation in India

Why Maria Sharapova is under police investigation in India

22/11/2017, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 24919818

Maria Sharapova’s off-court woes have hit the headlines again after it emerged she was the subject of a police investigation in India for “cheating and criminal conspiracy”.

The Russian tennis star endorsed a “luxury housing development” in Gurgaon, near New Delhi, which collapsed, allegedly leaving buyers millions out of pocket.

A local police officer, Arvind Sharma, told AFP that “we have registered a case of cheating on directions from the court.”

Sharapova’s involvement in the project was crucial to gaining investors, a lawyer representing the complainant added.

“Any celebrity who endorses any product technically becomes an agent for that company,” Piyush Singh said.

“No one would have invested in the project if Sharapova’s name was not there.”

A Times of India report said the complaint, filed in a Delhi court, named Sharapova.

They said that the tennis star “travelled to India in 2012 to launch the luxury high-rise apartment complex [named Ballet by Sharapova] which prospective buyers were told would house a tennis academy, a clubhouse and a helipad.

“The project in Gurgaon was supposed to be ready in 2016 but construction work was abandoned after builders collected money from homebuyers.”

The organisation also said that police could not comment on the case and that developers for the project did not return calls.

Sharapova is yet to publicly comment on the allegations but she has posted about unrelated things on social media since.

The 30-year-old served a 15-month ban from tennis for testing positive to a banned substance, returning in April of this year.

Denied access to the French Open and Wimbledon, she finally made her grand slam return in the US Open, where she reached the last 16.

Sharapova is now ranked 61st in the world, with a further rise expected in 2018.

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Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou quits ahead of World Cup

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou quits ahead of World Cup

22/11/2017, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 24917134

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has sensationally turned his back on the Australian football team less than a week after guiding a fourth straight FIFA World Cup.

“After a great deal of thought and soul-searching, I’ve decided that the journey for me ends as Socceroo coach,” Postecoglou told a media conference Wednesday morning.

“As I’ve said many times, it’s been the biggest privilege of my life and probably not the ending I had envisaged when we started, but at the same time, knowing it’s the right time for me and the right decision,” he said.

 

 

Postecoglou watched from the sidelines last week as Australia captain Mile Jedinak scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Honduras in Sydney to qualify for Russia 2018.

The win ended a nerve-wracking qualification run, which took in an Asian play-off against Syria and this intercontinental play-off, with the 52-year-old acknowledging he was overwhelmed with emotion in the aftermath.

Despite qualifying for the World Cup, Postecoglou  told a post-match media conference he will “always be an outsider in Australian football”.

Postecoglou was heavily criticised throughout Australia’s ultimately successful run to reach a theWorld Cup and it was a regular theme of his post-match press conference.

Mile Jedinak
Pestecoglou’s announcement comes a week after the Socceroos’ World Cup qualification. Photo: Getty

“I’ve been coaching for 20 years. I won my first championship when I was 31 years old,” he said.

“And you know what, I can coach for another 20 years and I’ll always be an outsider in Australian football. I don’t have the glittering Socceroo career … that you need.

“But that’s fine, I wear that as a badge of honour as I keep saying to people. The more [criticism] that comes my way, the more determined and resilient I am to just keep going down my own path.

“It’s worked well for me. Some people don’t like it. But to be fair, I’ve had a hell of a lot of support from players, coaches, the general sporting public.”

Media reports in October suggested Postecoglou would quit as coach after the qualifiers, regardless of the result.

When asked after the Honduras match if it would tough to walk away from his job, given the Socceroos had qualified for sport’s most-watched event, Postecoglou said: “Oh yeah. I guess so.”

He said while he’d been able to cope with the barrage of criticism, his family had had a tough time.

“While I’ve got a thick skin, they’ve had to cop what I’ve been copping and it’s unfair on them,” he said.

Postecoglou said he had received “a hell of a lot of encouragement” from the public and key football figures but “they just don’t happen to hold microphones so they don’t get heard”.

 

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England chases Australia’s record total in Women’s Ashes finale

England chases Australia’s record total in Women’s Ashes finale

21/11/2017, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 24910666

Australian opener Beth Mooney smashed the first century in women’s Twenty20 internationals in her country, but counterpart Danielle Wyatt hit the second as England claimed a stunning victory in the Ashes finale.

England snatched an 8-8 draw in the multi-format series in consolation for the home side retaining the urn last week by chasing down a record 178 with an over to spare for a four-wicket win on Tuesday.

Australia was left to rue four dropped sitters in the field as Wyatt struck 13 fours and two sixes for 100 runs off 57 balls.

The match’s 359 runs in total was the most in a women’s T20.

With Australia winning the toss and batting, left-handed opener Mooney was scintillating with 19 fours and a six in her 70-ball innings of 117 at Manuka Oval, reaching the rope in each of the first six overs.

The performance bettered her match-winning unbeaten 86 when Australia clinched the Ashes on Friday night in the opening T20 at North Sydney Oval.

Only injured captain Meg Lanning had previously hit an international T20 century for Australia, making 126 against Ireland in 2014 in Bangladesh.

Mooney and Alyssa Healy produced an opening stand of 59 before fast bowler Katherine Brunt removed the dangerous Healy for 19 thanks to a fine diving catch by captain Heather Knight.

Mooney reached her half-century off 38 balls before No.3 Elyse Villani was bowled by spinner Sarah Ecclestone for 16.

Mooney, supported by Ellyse Perry (22), finished the innings superbly with four boundaries in the final over off Anya Shrubsole for the hosts to end on 2-178.

It was a strong bounce back for Australia from a 10-67 batting collapse in losing Sunday’s second match by 40 runs.

Danielle Wyatt
Danielle Wyatt starred as England grabbed the third T20 to level the series. Photo: Getty

England started the chase poorly when opener Tammy Beaumont failed to clear mid-off Ashleigh Gardner off the bowling of spinner Jess Jonassen in the first over.

Sarah Taylor was the next to go when she lofted Jonassen to captain Rachael Haynes at cover to leave England 2-16 at the start of the third over.

The visitors were handed their first reprieve when Wyatt skied spinner Molly Strano, but wicketkeeper Healy was unable to hold an easy catch.

England’s bid for quick runs again came unstuck when Natalie Sciver was removed for seven, run out by a Villani direct hit from mid-off to end the fifth over.

Wyatt and Knight (51 off 37) rebuilt with a 139-run partnership, aided by easy dropped catches by Molly Strano at short fine leg, deep mid-wicket Megan Schutt and Healy again.

Knight’s dismissal was quickly followed that of Wyatt and Brunt.

But England would not be denied in its effort to take some of the gloss off victorious Australia, whose two one-day and sole T20 victories, and a drawn Test, were enough to retain the trophy.

-AAP

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