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  • admin 14:45 on 05/18/2019  

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    Selector and coach Darren Lehmann has given Cameron Bancroft a ringing endorsement, in a strong indication the out-of-form opening batsman will be retained for the tour of South Africa.

    Lehmann has also given his pacemen Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood glowing praise, saying they had the potential to outstrip Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle.

    After nailing a series of line-ball decisions for the successful Ashes campaign, selectors will in the next fortnight finalise a squad for the four Tests against the Proteas.

    Arguably the biggest call they will have to make is whether Bancroft keeps his place after his form tailed off against England.

    The 25-year-old passed 50 only once from eight innings for a series average of 25.57 and with the Sheffield Shield in hiatus for the Big Bash League he will not have another chance to push forward his case at first-class level.

    Questions were raised about the opener’s technique after he was bowled through the gate for a duck in Sydney.

    But he received strong support from captain Steve Smith after the game and, more importantly, was given an encouraging report card from Lehmann.

    Lehmann is pleased with how Bancroft combined with David Warner at the top of the order. The pair posted two century stands though South Africa’s high-class pace attack is expected to provide a sterner examination.

    “He would like bigger scores as you always would as a batsman, but some of our starts have been exceptional, especially early on in the series,” Lehmann said.

    “Apart from Adelaide, we got starts in most games, so that’s the pleasing thing, barring this one, but we still ended up with 600.

    “For me, you’ve got a young guy there learning his craft, he’s got a great work ethic, so for me moving forward, end of the day it’ll come down to selectors but he’s a good young kid, works hard, we’re pretty happy with him.”

    As celebrated into Monday night, the Proteas, led by swing king Vernon Philander, dismantled India’s high-class line-up with a masterful display of pace bowling.

    Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, if fit, are expected to provide a much stiffer test than England did on the flat wickets in the Ashes.

    “They’ve got some quality bowlers South Africa, no doubt about that. They’ll swing it around,” Lehmann said.

    “It’s been quite dry there so it’ll be interesting to see what sort of wickets we get there, only time will tell. Preparation is the key for whatever series. You’ve got to get there as early as we can.”

    Four years ago, Johnson and Harris spearheaded ‘s success in South Africa. This time pace is again shaping as the team’s weapon with much resting on the form of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins.

    “Harris, Siddle, Johnson and [Nathan] Lyon were pretty good four years ago, but these guys are younger, they’ve got the appetite to be great,” Lehmann said.

    Continue reading ‘Pretty happy’: Lehmann’s encouraging words for Bancroft
     
  • admin 14:45 on 05/18/2019  

    ELVIS LIVES: Ben Portsmouth’s The King Is Back show is coming to Newcastle. The late, great Elvis Presley would have turned 83 this week. On January 8, to be exact.
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    Ben PortsmouthDavid Letterman’s LateShow.

    Portsmouth grew up listening to Elvis –his father was an avid fan –and in 2005 started performing his songs to an audience.He looked like Elvis, sang like Elvis and, unlikely many imitators,had that unique on-stage charisma. Audiences were spellbound.

    “I’ve always been fairly good at mimicking people throughout my life, either people I know personally or the famous,” Portsmouth tells Weekender.

    “Performing asElvisis something that I’m constantly developing and trying to get better at.”

    Portsmouth recalls singing Elvis songs at the tender age of six but his musical tastes included everything from Guns n Roses and Iron Maiden to classical, Latin and blues.

    “I like all kinds of music. But when it comes to Elvis,I like the fact that he came from a very poor background and become a legend,” he explains.

    “His voice was amazing and he seemed to be a very charismatic and generous man on and off stage.”

    Portsmouth’s latest world tour, The King is Back, takes the audience on a memorable musical journey.

    The first half of the show traces his career fromSun Studios in the 1950s where it all began,including poignant parts of his career and personal life.

    The second half is a recreation of what it would have been like to seeElvisperform live in concert in the 1970s.

    “Elvisis a legend in the field of music and crossedboundaries in a segregated America. He is still loved and missed so much by fans,” Portsmouth says.

    “His music is a mixture of all different styles and appeals to many people from around the world. Elvishad everything.”

    The King Is Back plays at Wests New Lambton on January 20. Tickets are on sale now.

    Continue reading The King lives on through award-winning tribute artist
     
  • admin 14:45 on 05/18/2019  

    England’s cricket focus has turned to a five-match ODI series against with an eye towards winning next year’s home World Cup following their disastrous Ashes campaign.
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    The visitors’ one-day squad assembled in Sydney on Tuesday ahead of a warm-up match at Drummoyne Oval on Thursday against a Cricket XI, and the January 14 series opener in Melbourne.

    Coach Trevor Bayliss has long viewed the 2019 World Cup on home soil as a serious target for his charges after England missed the quarter-finals in the 2015 tournament, and this series provides an excellent opportunity to salvage something productive from a forgettable tour.

    His squad for the limited-overs series looks significantly different to that which surrendered the Ashes this summer, ‘s win in Sydney on Monday completing a 4-0 series triumph.

    Only six members of England’s ODI squad played in the Ashes – Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Jake Ball, Chris Woakes and Tom Curran.

    Four of their new teammates have been playing in the Big Bash this summer, Sydney Sixers duo Sam Billings and Jason Roy, the Thunder’s Jos Buttler and David Willey of the Perth Scorchers.

    “Most of us haven’t got the baggage of the Ashes so we’re fresh, raring to go,” Billings said.

    “It’s a very different group, only a few players are still overlapping from the Test squad. For us, we’re seeing it as a completely fresh challenge.

    “Test cricket’s gone unfortunately, the Aussies simply outplayed the Poms. In ODI cricket over the last two years we’ve been as good a side as anyone, [and were] Twenty20 [World Cup] finalists, could’ve won that as well so we’ve got every confidence.”

    Billings’ inclusion will bolster England’s middle-order batting and his ingenuity was on display in Hobart on Monday as he crafted an unbeaten 61, almost hauling the Sixers to their first win of the BBL season.

    Needing 18 off the last three balls, Billings hit compatriot Tymal Mills for two sixes before failing to connect with the final ball of the innings.

    It was his finest innings of the summer, and looks to have set him up to play a key role against if called upon.

    “For me, I’ve kind of been on the fringes, I’ve played quite a few games now for England but over a long period of time and [they have been] spaced out,” Billings said.

    “Competitions like this [the Big Bash], it’s basically playing international cricket anyway. The standard, the pressure, big crowds, great grounds as well, for me to try and use competitions like this as a springboard to get an opportunity and then ultimately take my opportunity if I get one at international level.

    “I’m hitting the ball well so hopefully get an opportunity and take it. Time in the middle under pressure like that is going to translate well into any format of the game.

    “At the end of the day, it’s runs in the middle. One-day cricket and Twenty20 are far closer together now and Test cricket’s kind of on its own a little bit.

    “That’s the way I see it, and when I try and mentally prepare for different formats of the game. If you’re hitting the ball well there’s no reason why you can’t chop and change.”

    Continue reading No Ashes baggage for English ODI squad: Billings
     
  • admin 14:45 on 05/18/2019  

    A message in red letters flashed up as Brisbane mum Lorraine Pacey applied for a childcare rebate and tried updating her marital status with Centrelink this week.
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    Ms Pacey, who married her wife in New Zealand in 2014, finally had her relationship recognised under n law when Parliament passed historic same-sex marriage legislation in December.

    Centrelink’s website told her otherwise when she tried changing her details on Monday while preparing to resume working after a year’s maternity leave.

    Brisbane mother Lorraine Pacey with her daughter Jocelyn, 11 months. Ms Pacey received a message on Centrelink’s website saying did not recognise her marriage. Photo: Lorraine Pacey

    “You indicated that your relationship status is married and recorded your partner’s sex as the same sex as yourself. Under n law, marriages between same-sex couples are not recognised,” it said.

    It asked her to “ensure” she selected the appropriate sex or relationship status.

    “I was surprised at my emotional reaction to it,” Ms Pacey said. “I took that message as being quite disrespectful and offensive.”

    On Facebook, friends and family reacted the same way.

    “It just doesn’t need to be that wording, in those big red letters,” Ms Pacey said.

    The department had only needed to replace the message with another saying the system was yet to be updated to reflect new legislation, she said.

    The Department of Human Services, which runs Centrelink, said its online claiming systems were updated overnight to remove the message.

    “We’d like to apologise to anybody who was distressed or offended by the message before it was removed,” spokesman Hank Jongen said.

    “Customers can be reassured that further work to update our systems to allow the department to record same-sex marriages is under way and we hope to have this rectified early next month.

    “Unfortunately our current IT system houses layers of complex business rules and processes which means seemingly simple changes take time to work through to ensure they don’t have unforeseen impacts on other parts of the system.”

    Mr Jongen said the department had recognised same-sex relationships for social security and family assistance purposes since July 2009.

    Thousands of same-sex couples who married overseas had their vows recognised under n law in December after a majority of voters supported same-sex marriage and Parliament passed legislation.

    Same-sex couples wedded around on Tuesday, the first day they could legally marry without a waiver.

    Continue reading Centrelink tells woman same-sex marriage isn’t recognised
     
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