Cricket China closes Big Bash League loophole

Cricket has quietly closed a loophole that could have allowed Big Bash League clubs to change their captains mid-season purely for the sake of avoiding a suspension for slow over rates.

Perth Scorchers captain Adam Voges missed Saturday’s game against the Adelaide Strikers after incurring a second strike for his team having slow over rates. Four other BBL captains, as well as five Women’s Big Bash League skippers, are at risk of being banned for a match after already receiving strikes for slow over rates, which have also led to scores of players being fined in both competitions.

In 2013, then Melbourne Stars captain Shane Warne was fined $5000 for breaching Cricket ‘s code of behaviour after the Stars opted to put James Faulkner’s name on their team sheet for a semi-final against Perth, with Warne sitting on one strike. CA had issued a memo to all BBL clubs the previous month stating: “If a team’s official captain is selected but not named as captain this … may attract a code of behaviour charge,” with Warne’s behaviour deemed to have been against the “spirit of cricket”.

With little fanfare, CA subsequently tightened the situation surrounding tactical captaincy changes, enshrining a provision deep in its WBBL and BBL playing conditions.

Under clause 12.7.6 of the playing conditions, “if the player nominated as captain at the start of the season is in the starting 11 but not listed on the official team sheet as the captain … any previous strike will carry over to the player nominated as captain for that match; and should another over rate breach occur in this situation, both the originally nominated captain and the player nominated as captain for that match will incur an automatic one match suspension.”

George Bailey (Hobart), John Hastings (Melbourne Stars), Moises Henriques (Sydney Sixers) and Shane Watson (Sydney Thunder) are the BBL captains who face a late-season ban should they again transgress. Brisbane Heat captain Brendon McCullum was suspended last season for over rate breaches.

Under the added provisions, if Hastings played in the same game where both he and a new designated match captain played, both players would incur a suspension for another strike.

‘Helpless’: Chinans’ 38 minutes of terror in Hawaii

Danielle Smith was standing on a beach in Hawaii with her husband and two children when a sea of mobile phones around her buzzed with the news that a ballistic missile attack was imminent on Saturday morning.

A moment of dazed silence ensued as those on the beach processed the news, followed by a terrifying scramble for shelter.

“Suddenly about 50 phones went off around me on the beach,” Ms Smith said from Hawaii on Saturday afternoon.

“Everyone’s just looking around me going, ‘What do you do? What do you do?'”.

The shore at the Banzai Pipeline was busy on Saturday morning, with those eager to watch the huge swell coming in at the famous surf break.

It was 8.07am local time when the alert came through. It read: “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

Ms Smith, who works as a photographer for Fairfax Media in Sydney, had been on holiday for about a week-and-a-half with her husband, Nick Conrick, their eight-year-old son, Nixon, and 13-year-old daughter, Ebony.

The family drove from their accommodation at Waikiki at 6am to catch a glimpse of the famous swell.

“We were pretty much helpless, standing on the beach just going, ‘What the hell do you do?'” Ms Smith said.

As reality set in, they desperately sought out locals for advice on what to do, but many were just as clueless. Eventually someone herded them into the local school, Sunset Beach Elementary School, where they “bunkered down”, with nothing left to do but wait.

“We were just sitting in there and literally it was just silent, no one was talking,” she said.

“It was just fingers crossed, I guess, just sitting there waiting.”

Ebony had received the alert on her mobile, and Ms Smith was able to screenshot it and send it on to her father in .

At 5.10am her father woke to the news, with two short messages from his daughter, “Check news”, then, “We can’t”.

Ms Smith’s father scoured the internet and turned up nothing, assuring his daughter that it was a false alarm.

But even though “things weren’t adding up”, there was still no formal confirmation that the missile threat was not real. It was about 35 minutes of waiting for Ms Smith before another text message came through to confirm the alert was false.

Shock was the main reaction to the alert being cancelled for those in Sunset Beach Elementary School. For 38 minutes, people around Hawaii earnestly believed their world was about to be turned upside down.

“It was still a bit of disbelief,” Ms Smith said of the moment the threat dissipated in the same way it had arrived, on phone screens around her.

Rumours flew about what had happened, and Ms Smith said it took a while longer to find out “it was human error”.

David Ige, the governor of Hawaii, told reporters on Saturday someone at the state emergency management centre pushed the “wrong button” during a shift, CNN reported. The US Federal Communications Commission said it would launch a “full investigation” into the accidental alert.

The incident took place amid mounting international tensions over North Korea’s development of a ballistic nuclear weapon.

“I’m glad it was human error, but how could this happen?” Ms Smith asked.

“My eight-year-old son was just sobbing, I’ll never forget the look on his face.

“All my son wants to do is go home – he’s asked a lot of questions about North Korea today.”

Ms Smith said it’s been “the talk of the town”, and despite the trauma “there’s a lot of grateful people today”.

As the sun went down over a beach at Waikiki on Saturday evening, people clapped, glad to have made it through the day.

with Reuters

Retaining George should be high on Victory’s wish list

Soccer fans and pundits alike have been salivating for much of the season about the impact made on the A-League by Sydney FC’s Polish international Adrian Mierzejewski – and with good reason.

The frontman had scored eight goals in 12 games leading up to the round 16 clash with Adelaide United on Sunday night as well as being credited with five assists, proving his all-round contribution to Sydney’s terrific season.

But Mierzejewski might not necessarily be a lock for the “best new foreign player” of the season title, despite the huge impression he has made with the league leaders.

Leroy George, Melbourne Victory’s Dutch winger, has been chalking up a similarly impressive pile of statistics for himself in the Victorian capital, an arguably more difficult task given that his team has not been playing with anything like the fluency or success that Sydney have enjoyed so far this campaign.

George, a junior international for the Netherlands, has played more often, having played in all 16 of Victory’s matches.

His goal-scoring ratio is well down, George having netted three to Mierzejewski’s eight before Sunday night’s game.

But he is far ahead on the assists ladder. He had been credited with seven going into Saturday night’s dramatic win over Perth Glory, but he lifted that tally to 10 by creating all three Victory goals, all in different fashion.

He arrived late, just before the season started, and has had to work his way to full fitness, which makes his numbers even more noteworthy.

Now Muscat and the Victory board know they really do need to make him the sort of offer attractive enough to retain him in Melbourne and to persuade him to relocate his family from Amsterdam.

His partner and young son live in the Dutch capital, while another son with a different partner is currently starring in the Ajax boys’ team, so Victory would need to be persuasive to get him to commit beyond this season.

Muscat, for one, knows just how important he can be.

It was his one-two with Besart Berisha and then his shot that set up Victory’s opening goal for James Troisi against Perth, his free kick that created Mark Milligan’s chance to put Victory in front and his lovely crossfield pass that allowed Kosta Barbarouses to fire home a last-gasp winner.

Although nominally a wide man, George has shown his versatility by playing as an attacking midfielder and as a central striker at times this season.

“It was fitting in the end that Leroy sets up the [winning] goal. He set up all three and he deserved to be on a winning team,” Muscat said after the game.

“We spoke at the start [when he joined the club] that it would take him a little bit of time because he joined us late and didn’t have a full pre-season.

“But he has played in every position in that front third of the park while he’s trying to get used to the way we play and the intensity.”

He has also had to adapt to the vagaries of n weather and lengthy travel for away games.

“One week it’s 41 degrees and four days later you are playing in cold conditions. There’s a lot to get used to for foreigners who come over, but he has adapted unbelievably well.

“Three games in a week he has played now, down in Geelong (in heat on January 6) in different conditions to Wellington (January 10) and different conditions tonight (torrential rain).

“He is certainly enjoying himself here. I think he understands how he is appreciated by his teammates, myself and the club. Certainly by our fans and members.”

Muscat also paid tribute to Leigh Broxham, who came off the bench in the second half against Glory to register his 250th appearance for Victory, the most by any A-League player for a single club.

“He has earned everyone of those 250 games he has played for this club; he has had no handouts, he has had no chopouts.

“I could not have been happier for him that he was out there at the end with the boys as they kept pushing, it was fitting that the team and everyone out there showed a typical Leigh Broxham attitude to keep going and get a winner.”

Muscat is due to submit an Asian Champions League roster on Monday, and it is expected that Argentinian Mathias Sanchez will be the foreigner who will miss out as the club can select only three visa players.

short story competition finalist 2018: Ready

WORTH 1000 WORDS: Each day we will publish a finalist in the Herald short storycompetition. The winner will be announced on January 27. Picture: Simone De PeakI AM out of the passenger door before the monotone voice of the sat nav had finished saying “You have reached your destination”. Sam leans over, ducks his head to meet my eyes and asks me if I’m ready.

I’ve been ready for this my whole life. Long before my father gave me the address for this place lost in the middle of somewhere. Long before Sam and I pleaded with our tired car to please get us here in time. Long before I dispatched my memories of a waif-like woman with dark eyes to the furthest corner of my heart.

“I guess you are,” he says, pulling himself upright in the driver’s seat. “I’ll be back at that town we just passed through, booking us a room. Ring me when it’s over.”

As if I was about to murder someone or something. Perhaps I was. Murdering the memories I’d found again, dragging them back to the forefront of my vision, just so I could replace them with a new one, the most important one.

“Okay, but I don’t know how long …”

“It doesn’t matter. Just ring me.”He gives me a patient smile.I stood and watched our car vanish into the dust then turned toward the crumbling farmhouse beyond the trees. Clouds surrounded its fragile frame. Inside my mother lay dying.

A woman stood in the doorway, arms behind her back holding the screen door ajar. Before I could decide if she was a nurse or a friend, she had thrust one strong hand toward me.

“I’m Neridah, a friend of Barbara’s.”

“Your mother,” she inserted into the silence.

The weight of those two foreign words hung there, impatient, brooding.

I followed her inside to a sparse room containing a two-seater lounge and a small coffee table with an old battered transistor radio sitting dead centre.

“Barbara doesn’t like a lot of stuff.”

Or people either, I thought. I also thought I was done with judging her a long time ago.

“Are you ready?”

“My boyfriend just asked me that before he left me here. I wouldn’t have come if I wasn’t ready.”

“Right. This way then.”

She gave the bedroom door one short sharp knock before opening it to reveal a shell of a woman hiding under a light blanket. My mother. What was left of her.

“Come in. Sit down.”

The voice came from the gap that was her mouth, her lips dry, brittle.

Neridah closed the door on us as I sat on the corner of the bed, my clasped hands hidden in the folds of my dress.

“Don’t be afraid, Sarah. It’s just cancer, nothing contagious.”

I went to speak but she cut me off with a wave of a bony hand, the gesture light but heavy.

“Sarah. Your father picked that name. I didn’t care one way or the other.”

“I know. He told me.”

“I’m sure he did. What else did he tell you? That I didn’t care about you. Anyway, it’s true. Well, mostly true.”

She stopped then, waiting for me to answer but all I wanted was for her to speak, to tell me her truth. An exhalation of breath and she ploughed forward.

“I didn’t want children, not even one. They always say it’s different when it’s your own. But it wasn’t for me. From the moment that I saw you, I knew.”

I wasn’t ready at all. Not for this. I’d wanted regrets, apologies, even excuses. Not these sharp words slicing through my heart.

“If you came here for an apology, I can’t give you one. The best thing I did for you was to leave.”

“Well, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I came.” I got up to leave but that bony hand of hers commanded me to sit down again.

“Oh Sarah, it’s nearly the end. Stay. Make this the best thing you can do for me. The only thing.”

Confessions wear people out. The release of my mother’s confession had been like the last flash of a long-burning flame. Now she was just embers, waiting for me to put her out.

I started to talk then, to tell her about my life, not because I wanted or expected her to change her mind but because I wanted her to know that I had made a life without her. Meeting my best friend in high school, learning to sew, making my first dress, opening my own shop, selling my creations, my first kiss and all the kisses after that. Nothing extraordinary but she had missed it all.

My mother sunk into a deep sleep as I spoke but it didn’t matter. I’d been saving all this up for now. This was for me, not for her.

Night came and so did the rain. It scratched at the window. A tree creaked outside in the wind. The house answered back.

I kept talking until every memory had poured out of me and into my mother. Just when I thought it was over, an image of her the day she left pushed itself forward. Standing in the rain at the end of our driveway, a wet slick of hair and sad clothes, her empty eyes gaining more distance. She turned and she was gone.

Now she’s gone for the last time. Her final breath came right before my confession but there was no point stopping now. I told her I was pregnant. I told her she was the only one who knew. I told her she had left me again, left me to make sense of this bleak emptiness growing inside me, left me with the weight of not knowing if I would ever be ready.

Camp making its rocking debut in Sydney

For Sydney teen Mia Betteridge, music has always been very important to her.

“It makes me happy. When I am upset I use it almost as a way to calm myself down,” she said.

Mia, 13, will be a part of this year’s Girls Rock! camp cohort as it makes its rock and roll debut in Sydney this January.

“My mum found out about it on Facebook and I wanted to join because of my love of music and I want to build on that passion,” Miss Betteridge said.

Established in Portland, Oregon in the US in 2001, the week-long day camp aims to inspire and empower 10- to 17-year-old girls, transgender and non-binary youth by providing a space for marginalised youths who are wishing to explore the world of music and themselves.

“On a psychological level, music is important for everyone, specifically for female, trans and non-binary youth as so much of the world is built to make identity really hard for teenagers of any gender,” said Girls Rock! Sydney’s director and music teacher Mara O’Toole.

The music program has successfully expanded internationally, first taking place in in Canberra in 2016. It has since rocked its way through the hearts of Brisbane, Melbourne and Wollongong.

“After going to the first Canberra camp I realised that music education was my passion and I had just finished my masters of teaching so I am now a music teacher and it’s come from me being involved in the Rock camp,” said Ms O’Toole.

At Girls Rock! Sydney, run at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville, the young musicians will be taught how to play an instrument, and to develop their singing and songwriting skills. They will also form bands with their fellow campers throughout the duration of the program.

Aria Award winner and singer-songwriter Sarah Blasko, and up-and-comers Okin Osan’s Rose Chan and Madeleine Er from the band The S-Bends are among the mentors at the camp.

For Chan and Er, the program is a step in the right direction in tackling the many forms of discrimination that exist in the music industry.

“My lived experience as a female musician hasn’t been smooth sailing. I would really love to see a change in the music industry, see it less male-dominated and see more women coming to the front,” Er said.

Chan conferred the camp’s importance in encouraging music for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“Music is a way to self-identify and if there is no representation of your identity in music it is really hard to self-identify with it.”

The final day of the camp on Saturday will include a showcase, featuring a collection of the participant’s songs and tracks.

“The showcase will be all of the camper bands performing all of their original pieces that they have written throughout the week and everyone is invited,” said Ms O’Toole.

“I hope that this camp helps to build my skills and to maybe find people that I can be in a band with,” Betteridge said.