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English cricket great Bob Willis dies

English cricket great Bob Willis dies

05/12/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29652596

Former England captain and cricket pundit Bob Willis has died at the age of 70.

The pace bowler played 90 Tests for England and has been a popular figure in broadcasting since his retirement in 1984.

It is understood Willis, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago, had begun to deteriorate in health over the last two months, with a recent scan revealing the cancer had advanced.

Willis’ family said in a statement: “We are heartbroken to lose our beloved Bob, who was an incredible husband, father, brother and grandfather. He made a huge impact on everybody he knew and we will miss him terribly.

“Bob is survived by his wife Lauren, daughter Katie, brother David and sister Ann.

“The Willis family has asked for privacy at this time to mourn the passing of a wonderful man and requests that in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to Prostate Cancer UK.”

It is understood Ian Botham went to see his former team-mate earlier this week, with fellow former England players John Lever and David Brown visiting on Wednesday before Willis died.

Willis’ most famous moment as a player came in the 1981 Ashes series as his eight for 43 fired England to a remarkable win in the third Test at Headingley.

He is England’s fourth highest wicket-taker of all time with 325 wickets.

Willis’ former county Surrey paid tribute on Twitter, saying: “All at Surrey County Cricket Club are devastated to learn of the passing of former Surrey and England bowler Bob Willis.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”

Former England fast bowler Darren Gough said Willis was “hugely admired”.

“As a player he had a big heart, he’d run in, nearly 6ft 6ins, and hit the pitch hard. At his peak was one of the best three bowlers in the world,” Gough said on Talksport.

“He was hugely admired all around the world. Everybody knew who he was.

“If you just saw him on TV people might think he’s a bit straight, but in his company over a glass of wine he would make you laugh all night.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board said that “cricket had lost a dear friend”.

“The ECB is deeply saddened to say farewell to Bob Willis, a legend of English cricket, at the age of 70,” a statement read.

“Bob spearheaded the England bowling attack for more than a decade and took 325 Test wickets.

“He will always be remembered for his outstanding cricket career, in particular his eight for 43 in the dramatic Headingley Test victory over Australia in 1981.

“In later years as a broadcaster Bob was a perceptive and respected voice at the microphone. We are forever thankful for everything he has done for the game.

“Everyone at the ECB sends sincere condolences to his family. Cricket has lost a dear friend.”

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England’s Headingley hero Bob Willis dies

England’s Headingley hero Bob Willis dies

05/12/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29652914

Bob Willis wrote himself into English sporting folklore on a single day in 1981.

At 32 and having just recovered from knee surgery, he went into the third Ashes Test at Headingley knowing his international career was fast approaching a crossroads.

The seeds of an unlikely victory had been sewn by a belligerent but seemingly futile innings of 149 not out from Ian Botham, but they reached full bloom in the hands of Willis.

Set just 130 to win, Australia embarked upon its second innings fully expecting to ease its way to victory with the minimum of fuss and, having reached 1-56, was well on course.

It was then that Willis produced the performance of his life, pounding across the West Yorkshire turf in the manner of an enraged bull to blast his way through what remained of the Australian batting line-up to return career-best figures of 8-43 and secure an improbable 18-run victory.

Robert George Dylan Willis – or, more accurately, Robert George Willis – was born in Sunderland on May 30, 1949.

The youngest of three siblings, he added ‘Dylan’ to his name by deed poll as a teenager in tribute to American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, of whom he was a devoted fan.

The newest member of the family spent only a matter of weeks on Wearside, where his father Ted was a journalist, before the family relocated to Manchester, the baby receiving a somewhat rude welcome at the hands of a porter at Piccadilly Station when his carry-cot was dropped on to the rails.

When Willis was five years old, the family moved once again, this time to the Surrey village of Stoke d’Abernon. It was there that his love of sport, in particular and cricket and football, blossomed.

Indeed, the game in which he was to forge an international reputation was to prove a distraction during his days at Guildford’s Royal Grammar School.

Under-performance in his O-levels meant Willis had to stay back a year and, although he belatedly knuckled down, by his own admission he became something of a rebel.

“I became a loner and have no doubt, in retrospect, that I was a thoroughly disagreeable young man,” he said.

Willis had to shelve his plans to go to university when his A-level grades fell below what was required. He briefly contemplated a career as an insurance agent, having already had a spell as a petrol pump attendant.

He made his County Championship bow against Yorkshire at Scarborough and continued his education at Trent Bridge, where he took a creditable 5-78 in the first innings against Nottinghamshire, but only after the great Gary Sobers had dented his early return of 4-11.

At the age of 21, he was summoned to Australia to join the England squad for the 1970-71 Ashes series.

Willis made his debut at Sydney as the tourists took a 1-0 lead in the series after the first two Tests had been drawn and the third washed out and he retained his place for the rest of the tour to launch his international career.

Standing at almost two metres and a model of intensity, he was an intimidating sight as he embarked upon his idiosyncratic 30-metre run-in before delivering the ball at menacing pace.

He would play 90 Tests, including a spell as captain and take 325 wickets at an average of 25.20.

After his retirement in 1984 his knowledge and understanding of the game were put to good use in the commentary box, where his no-nonsense assessment and dry wit proved popular.

Willis, who is survived by his second wife Lauren, died on December 4 at the age of 70 after a battle with prostate cancer.

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Hair-raising: Footballers giving back to the community

Hair-raising: Footballers giving back to the community

04/12/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29651651

Observers of the A-League over the past month would have been hard pressed to miss the sudden explosion in figures sporting a hairy addition to their top lip.

Movember took the A-League by storm across November and one of the more easily identified moustachioed characters was Melbourne City’s Josh Brilliante, who – taking advantage of his existing beard – sported a look the likes of which would easily qualify him for a part in Hollywood’s next western blockbuster.

“I think it’s important as a footballer [to get involved in charitable efforts],” the City midfielder said as Movember wound down to its final days.

“Obviously, it’s quite a good lifestyle and it’s a lucky position to be in.

“I think it’s nice to be able to give back to the community and enjoy and appreciate these times.”

Brilliante’s point is a salient one for, as the world’s most popular sport by some distance, the power that football wields to serve as a driver for positive social change is undeniable.

The uniting of the footballing community behind the work of Craig Foster and his push to free falsely imprisoned Hakeem al-Araibi in late 2018 and early 2019 shows what can be done when those that love the beautiful game come together.

Less than a year after political machinations denied him a place on the FFA board, Foster worked tirelessly as he crisscrossed the globe to rally support behind the release of the young refugee – a Bahraini refugee wrongfully detained while in Thailand at the request of his former government.

“When I look at Hakeem I see a footballer. I don’t see a Bahraini. I don’t see a Muslim and I don’t see a refugee,” Foster went on to tell Australian Story.

“I just see a kid who plays my game. We are going to have to step up for this kid and as an ex-player, I knew I had that responsibility.”

Hakeem al-Araibi, with Craig Foster, at Pascoe Vale’s first home match following his release from a Thai prison. Photo: Getty

Demonstrating the latent potential that lies at all levels of the sport, though, the original call for support for al-Araibi came in a social media post from his NPL Victoria club, Pascoe Vale FC.

That one small voice started a global movement and saved a life – and it’s just one example of local football making a difference at all levels of society.

In May, the extraordinary bravery shown by Andy Brennan in becoming the first openly gay male footballer in Australia broke down previous taboos and helped add to the positive conversation around LGBTQIA+ athletes.

Across the 2019 NPLW Victoria season, Melbourne Victory, Calder United and fringe Matildas’ defender Angie Beard ran a fundraiser in which she donated funds to Beyond Blue every time she found the back of the net – which she did 31 times.

And, despite being cruelled with a long-term injury before the season, the impact of Newcastle Jets attacker Kaine Sheppard is still felt through the work of the KS Foundation.

Inspired by Kaine’s experiences with his brother Jake, the foundation seeks to create opportunities for children with autism to play and enjoy football.

Kaine Sheppard in action for the Newcastle Jets. Photo: Getty

“I was born and raised in England and [Jake] had autism,” Sheppard told The New Daily.

“He used to come to all of my games – he was my No.1 fan and supporter. Being able to give back to families, it was something that I was really excited about and interested in, so we started the KS Foundation.

“We’ve got sensory rooms – one of the boxes in the [Jets’] stadium – and we put kit in there; headphones for the children, tents and games. A lot of sensory stuff can set children off, such as loud noises, lights, storms or if there are any emotions, such as getting upset or getting angry.

“It’s an opportunity to go back into the room and have an area where they can relax a bit instead of having to leave the game.

“They have space when they can relax and once they calm down, quite a lot want to go back out there to watch.

“We’ve had families that have been to their first game ever – they felt they haven’t been able to before because they didn’t have an area to go to – and we’ve got families that haven’t been able to watch for a few years.

“The biggest one is families being able to go all together. Normally, the husband is a member and goes on his own but more recently they’ve been able to go and enjoy the game together.

“For me growing up, seeing the impact that some of the players I looked up to had on me, to be able to give back and seeing how much the kids liked seeing their heroes was really good.”

There’s a lot of things that Australian football doesn’t get right.

But it can’t be forgotten that every level of the game is inhabited by good people doing what they can to give back.

Donations to the KS Foundation can be made here.

A-LEAGUE – ROUND 9
Friday: Melbourne City v Perth Glory, AAMI Park, 7.30pm
Saturday: Wellington Phoenix v Western Sydney Wanderers, Eden Park, 5pm; Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar, Jubilee Stadium, 7.30pm
Sunday: Western United v Melbourne Victory, Kardinia Park, 4pm; Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets, Coopers Stadium, 6pm
Bye: Central Coast Mariners
W-LEAGUE – ROUND 4
Thursday: Canberra United v Brisbane Roar, McKellar Park, 7.30pm
Saturday: Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers, Latrobe City Stadium, 4.30pm; Perth Glory v Newcastle Jets, Dorrien Gardens, 10.15pm
Sunday: Sydney FC v Melbourne City, Cromer Park, 4pm
Bye: Adelaide United

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Jeff Fenech to donate his post-boxing brain to science

Jeff Fenech to donate his post-boxing brain to science

04/12/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29651212

Australian boxing great Jeff Fenech has pledged his brain to scientific research into the effects of concussion after a series of worrying incidents that saw him forget things straight after being told and going places without realising.

Research into the brains of ex-athletes shows that repeated knocks to the head – like those experienced by boxers and football players – might be causing serious brain disease.

Recent events have left Fenech worried about the effects a career that saw him claim world titles in three different boxing divisions and win 29 of his 33 professional fights might have had on his body.

He said personal experiences, as well as seeing friends deteriorate to the point where they could no longer speak, prompted him to make the extraordinary decision.

“I’ve done things where I’ve spoken to people and I’m supposed to meet them in 15 minutes and I’ve forgotten. I’ve been places and I’ve picked things up without even knowing,” Fenech told AM.

“Just recently I had all my tests, and they were all 100 per cent, so look, I’m not sure what it was. But look, I’m worried about it.”

jeff fenech brain science
Jeff Fenech claimed world titles in three divisions over his career. Photo: National Portrait Gallery/ABC

Fenech, who had emergency heart surgery in Thailand in October after contracting an infection, also wants to challenge the way all sports, but particularly boxing, approach the growing body of research showing the lasting damage caused by multiple knocks to the head.

“In rugby league, if you get concussion, they take you off and they leave you there for 20 minutes and you go through a series of tests,” he said.

“In boxing we count to 8. If you’re not up by 10, the fight’s over. If you’re up by 10, we fight on.”

“Somebody needs to get up and speak the truth. If we’re going to have a protocol to look after people’s health, we need a protocol over all sports.”

The 55-year-old’s pledge is to the Australian Sports Brain Bank, a joint venture between the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney.

It already has more than 100 pledges from a variety of sportspeople from different codes, including former rugby league players Peter Sterling and Ian Roberts, former AFL players Sam Blease and Daniel Chick, and jockey Dale Spriggs.

A study published in 2017 on the impacts of American football found 110 of the 111 NFL players who donated their brains for research had suffered the condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Neurologist Rowena Mobbs said Fenech’s brain would be studied for the same condition.

“Jeff has very bravely, I feel, put himself forward to try to explore this issue into whether multiple hits to the head can lead to lasting injury,” she said.

Dr Mobbs said the research was trying to establish the links between CTE and some of the symptoms.

“A person, for example, may have issues with their short-term memory in particular, their judgement, their vision and balance,” she said.

“There can be mood changes such as irritability, depression or anxiety, that don’t always match up perfectly with changes in the brain on the technology we know of now.

“We really need further work in this field to understand what those culprit proteins are, that may contribute to chronic traumatic encephalopathy.”

Fenech said he hoped his donation would improve the understanding around CTE and make sure more was done to keep athletes safe in the future.

“I really don’t know what to say because I love boxing and without boxing, I’d be nobody,” he said.

“But I also think that life in general and helping people is more important than boxing,” he said.

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Cameron Bancroft out of Australian Test squad

Cameron Bancroft out of Australian Test squad

03/12/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29648906

Batsman Cameron Bancroft has been left out of Australia’s Test squad for the looming three-Test series against New Zealand.

Bancroft’s omission is the sole change to the 14-man squad that beat Pakistan 2-0, with pacemen James Pattinson and Michael Neser retained in a 13-strong squad to host the Kiwis.

Australia host New Zealand in Perth from December 12 with the other Tests to be played in Melbourne from Boxing Day and Sydney from January 3.

Quicks Pattinson and Neser appear unlikely to force their way into day-night Test in Perth given the strong form of the incumbent trio of pacemen.

Fast bowlers Mitchell Starc (14 wickets), Josh Halzewood (10) and Pat Cummins (eight) were were leading wicket-takers in the Pakistan series.

Pattinson is available for Test selection again after being ruled out because of suspension.

Bancroft’s omission means Travis Head, who remains joint vice-captain with Cummins, is certain to retain his spot in the batting line-up for the first Test against the Black Caps.

“We have cut the squad from 14 to 13, we’re very comfortable of course with our batting line-up at the moment, they are functioning quite well,” chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns told reporters in Adelaide on Tuesday.

“So we don’t see it necessary to have a batsman as cover in the squad at the moment.

“Of course we do reserve the right to add a player if necessary throughout this series.”

Hohns and his co-selectors met on Monday night to pick the squad, hours after Australia completed a series sweep against Pakistan.

The Australians won both Test matches by an innings and Hohns admitted the selection meeting for the New Zealand series was straightforward.

“It’s nice to have a couple of very, very good wins, it (selection) has been quite relaxing, to be honest,” he said.

Hohns said there was no concern over captain Tim Paine, who copped a series of blows on his fingers while wicketkeeping against Pakistan, or Starc, who was nursing a cut big toe.

Australia squad: Tim Paine (capt), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.

-AAP

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In The Hot Seat: Paralympians display their hidden talents

In The Hot Seat: Paralympians display their hidden talents

03/12/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, Australian Paralympic Committee, Article # 29648894


Israel Folau, Rugby Australia talks drag on into second day

Israel Folau, Rugby Australia talks drag on into second day

03/12/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29648765

Israel Folau and Rugby Australia will have a second day of talks after failing to reach a peace deal in 12 hours of mediation on Monday.

Negotiations will resume in the Federal Court in Melbourne at 11.30am on Wednesday.

Folau’s lawyer George Haros said the former Wallaby’s team remained “hopeful to reach an amicable agreement”.

“Where we stand is that mediation remains on foot,” Mr Haros said on Monday night.

“We’d like to thank the Federal Circuit Court for today’s effort and look forward to reconvening in a few days to see if we can strike an agreement.”

Folau claims he was wrongfully dismissed by Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW after a controversial Instagram post in April condemning “drunks” and “homosexuals” and warning “hell awaits” them.

“I understand that not everyone shares my faith and some find it difficult to reconcile with their own beliefs,” Folau said in a video posted on his website before Monday’s meeting.

“I want to be clear that I only share passages from the bible as a gesture of love.”

The former rugby league and AFL player last week increased his compensation claim from $10 million to $14 million, and said the Wallabies would have done better in the 2019 Rugby World Cup if he was playing.

However, RA chief executive Raelene Castle said she had received messages and emails from the rugby community supporting the organisation’s decision to sack Folau.

Ms Castle said a tribunal found Folau had committed a high-level breach of his contract and he had refused to curb his social media use.

“Israel admitted he had caused harm with his comments and stated that he would not curb his social media use and will post whatever he likes whenever he feels the need to share his views,” she said outside court earlier on Monday.

Folau is a hardline Christian who also recently claimed fatal bushfires were God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage.

-AAP

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Lionel Messi and Megan Rapinoe win Ballon d’Or awards

Lionel Messi and Megan Rapinoe win Ballon d’Or awards

03/12/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29648739

Lionel Messi has won a record sixth Ballon d’Or while World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe earned the women’s prize, beating out among others Australia’s Sam Kerr.

A day after scoring his 614th career goal for Barcelona, Messi reclaimed the trophy he last won in 2015. He was also voted the world’s best from 2009 to 2012.

“Ten years ago I received my first Ballon d’Or, guided by my three brothers,” Messi told the audience in the Theatre du Chatelet on Monday.

“Today I receive my sixth, guided by my wife and children.”

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was second in the polling, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo, who had shared the record of five Ballon d’Ors with Messi.

Senegal’s Liverpool striker Sadio Mane was fourth in the poll of international journalists.

Two other Reds players polled in the top 10 after Champions League success, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah (fifth) and goalkeeper Alisson Becker (seventh) of Brazil.

“It was amazing,” Van Dijk said.

“There are a couple of players like him (Messi) who are fantastic.

“I’m proud of what I’ve achieved with Liverpool and Holland. It’s going to be tough (to win the award) when these guys are around.”

Messi’s and Ronaldo’s 10-year grip on the prestigious individual award organised by France Football magazine was ended last year by Luka Modric.

But Messi was back on top of his game over the past 12 months.

He scored 36 times last season en route to Barcelona winning the Spanish Liga title, and was the Champions League top scorer.

Messi also won his sixth FIFA award in September, edging van Dijk, who missed the chance to become the first defender to top the France Football poll since Italy’s World Cup-winning captain, Fabio Cannavaro, in 2006.

Juventus defender Mattis De Light won the Kopa Trophy for the best under-21 player and the inaugural Yashin Trophy given to the year’s best men’s goalkeeper went to Alisson.

Rapinoe won the women’s Ballon d’Or for leading the United States to World Cup glory in July, with England international Lucy Bronze second and Alex Morgan third.

megan-rapinoe-soccer
Megan Rapinoe was a key member of the US team that won the World Cup. Photo: Getty

Six goals at the World Cup earned Rapinoe the Golden Boot as the top scorer and the Golden Ball as the top player.

“It’s absolutely incredible congrats to the other nominees. I can’t believe I’m the one winning in this field, it’s been an incredible year,” Rapinoe, who was not present at the ceremony, said in a recorded message.

Kerr, who recently signed for Chelsea in England’s Super League, was the golden boot in the US NWSL for a third successive season and she scored five times at the World Cup.

France Football magazine has been awarding the Ballon d’Or since 1956 and created a women’s award for the first time last year when Norway’s Ada Hegerberg won it. Hegerberg was fourth in 2019.

Ballon D’Or Men’s Top 10

1. Lionel Messi, 2. Virgil van Dijk, 3. Cristiano Ronaldo, 4. Sadio Mane, 5. Mohamed Salah, 6. Kylian Mbappe, 7. Alisson, 8. Robert Lewandowski, 9. Bernardo Silva, 10. Riyad Mahrez.

 

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Ash Barty adds another medal to resume

Ash Barty adds another medal to resume

03/12/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29648309

Australian tennis superstar Ash Barty has added yet another win to her impressive tally, collecting her third straight Newcombe Medal.

She was given the medal for Australia’s outstanding tennis player of year at the sport’s annual awards dinner in Melbourne on Monday night.

The 23-year-old has had a dream year, fuelled by gruelling hours of hard work.

In May, she became Australia’s first French Open champion since Margaret Court, and in June she took the title as women’s World No.1, making her the first Aussie woman to do so since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

Last month, she pocketed the biggest cheque in tennis history ($6.4 million) when she was the last player standing at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

The third Newcombe medal puts her level with Sam Stosur, the only other person to have received the accolade as many times.

Stosur was also recognised at the night, awarded the Spirit of Tennis Award.

Stosur was given the award by her former coach David Taylor, who trained her for about eight years.

“Sam has genuinely remained unchanged and unaffected by all her success,” Taylor said of the 2011 US grand slam winner.

“It’s a testament to Sam’s character that she has enjoyed longevity at the pinnacle of the game. A multiple grand slam champion, Sam joins the ranks of Australian tennis greats and is a terrific role model for any aspiring player.”

Barty’s trusted mentor Craig Tyzzer was named elite coach of the year.

NEWCOMBE MEDAL AWARD WINNERS

Newcombe Medal – Ashleigh Barty (Qld)
Coaching Excellence Club – Yvonne Fantin (West Lalor Tennis Club, (Vic)
Coaching Excellence Development – Tate Roberts (Brixton Tennis, WA)
Coaching Excellence Performance – Craig Tyzzer (Vic)
Excellence in Officiating – Brian Grace (Vic)
Female Junior Athlete of the Year – Talia Gibson (WA)
Male Junior Athlete of the Year – Rinky Hijikata (NSW)
Most Outstanding Athlete with a Disability – Dylan Alcott (Vic)
Most Outstanding Australian Ranking Tournament – 2019 North Beach Junior Classic (WA)
Most Outstanding Club – Queanbeyan Park Tennis Club (ACT)
Most Outstanding Professional Tournament – city of Playford Tennis International (SA)
Most Outstanding School – Elizabeth North Primary School (SA)
Most Outstanding 35+ Tennis Senior – Pat Moloney (ACT)
Volunteer Achievement Award – Darren Wunderer (Henley South Tennis Club, SA).

-with AAP

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