Archive for July, 2019 | Monthly archive page

Chris Gayle equals fastest ever Twenty20 half-century for Melbourne Renegades

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Going big: Chris Gayle blasted a quick but deadly innings on Monday night. Photo: Graham DenholmYuvraj Singh has some company at the top of the list for fastest ever half-centurions in Twenty20 cricket.

Chris Gayle has proven a controversial figure during this season’s Big Bash, but he let his cricket do the talking on Monday night; he blasted his way past 50 in just 12 deliveries, bringing up the milestone with a monster six off the bowling of Travis Head.

He clubbed seven sixes and one four in lightning-quick time, as the Melbourne Renegades looked to secure a spot in the finals series by chasing down the 170 posted by the Adelaide Strikers.

The first over saw the majority of the fireworks, with young quick Greg West being hit for four straight sixes off the final four balls of his first over.

Of the seven maximums, the pick of the lot was surely an almighty blow over deep mid-wicket, after bowler Ben Laughlin dug one in short following a free-hit (which was also blasted for six).

Sadly for the crowd and for Melbourne’s finals hopes, the innings soon came to an end – caught off the bowling of Head for 56, from 17 balls. It was Head’s third scalp of the night, recovering brilliantly from that first-ball six by bowling both Cameron White and Dwayne Bravo in consecutive balls, before nabbing the main man in his next over.

Gayle’s ball-by-ball: wide, 2, 0, 6, 6, 6, 6, 2, 6nb, 6, 4, 1, 6, 1, 0, 4, 1, 0, out

Gayle’s phenomenal striking was ultimately in vain, as his Renegades fell 27 runs short of their target of 171 within 16 overs against the top-placed Strikers, as they were bowled out for 143 in that deciding over.

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Novak Djokovic opens up over £110,000 bribe bid but is unaware of match fixing at the top level

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Tennis rocked by allegations of widespread match-fixingATP rejects suggestions that match-fixing evidence was suppressed.

​It is almost a decade since world No.1 Novak Djokovic knocked back a £110,000 ($227,000) bribe to throw a match, but the 28-year-old insists he has no knowledge of match fixing still being prevalent at the top level.

After a report by the BBC and BuzzFeed revealed details of an investigation into match fixing involving international crime syndicates in Russia and Italy, tennis was again thrown under the microscope on Monday, with the ATP forced to deny a cover-up.

According to the report, authorities have been repeatedly warned about a core group of 16 players, all of whom have been ranked in the top 50 and half of which will play in this year’s Australian Open.

“From my knowledge and information about the match fixing or anything similar, there is nothing happening on the top level, as far as I know,” Djokovic said. “Challenger level, those tournaments, maybe, maybe not.”

While Djokovic was unable to shed light on the current situation facing the sport’s governing bodies, the Serbian opened up about his experience in 2006 when he was offered £110,000 bribe to lose a first round match in St Petersburg, a tournament he didn’t end up playing in.

“I was not approached directly. I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team,” Djokovic said.

“Of course, we threw it away right away. It didn’t even get to me, the guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn’t even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it. Unfortunately there were some, in those times, those days, rumours, some talks, some people were going around. They were dealt with. In the last six, seven years, I haven’t heard anything similar.

“It made me feel terrible because I don’t want to be anyhow linked to this kind of – you know, somebody may call it an opportunity. For me, that’s an act of unsportsmanship, a crime in sport honestly. I don’t support it. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis.”

The approval of online bookmaker William Hill as a major sponsor of the grand slam has also been a discussion point.

While Djokovic is yet to form an opinion on the matter, he admits the sport is entering dangerous territory.

“It’s a fine line. Honestly it’s on a borderline, I would say,” Djokovic said.

“Whether you want to have betting companies involved in the big tournaments in our sport or not, it’s hard to say what’s right and what’s wrong. One of the reasons why tennis is a popular and clean sport is because it has always valued its integrity … I don’t have yet the stand and clear opinion about that. I think it is a subject of discussion. We’ll see what happens.”

Also in 2007, Andy Murray spoke out over the presence of match fixing in the sport, saying: “It’s pretty disappointing for all the players but everyone knows it goes on.”

However, world No.1 Serena Williams insists she has never been exposed or has knowledge of it existing in the sport.

“Not that I’m aware of,” Williams said after her first-round victory against Camila Giorgi.

“When I’m playing, I can only answer for me, I play very hard, and every player I play seems to play hard. I think that as an athlete, I do everything I can to be not only great, but, you know, historic. You know, if that’s going on, I don’t know about it. You know, I’m kind of sometimes in a little bit of a bubble.”

The ATP and Tennis Integrity Unit denied allegations they hid or overlooked evidence of match fixing related to international crime syndicates when they fronted a packed media contingent on the opening morning of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

BBC and BuzzFeed claim to have evidence of suspected rigging at major tournaments including Wimbledon, alleging the fixing was orchestrated by gambling syndicates that targeted prominent players in their hotel rooms at major tournaments and offered them $US50,000 ($A72,800) for each fix.

But ATP president Chris Kermode says information or suspicion alone isn’t enough, requiring hard evidence before they can prosecute those involved.

“The Tennis Integrity Unit and tennis authorities absolutely reject any evidence of match fixing has been suppressed for any reason or isn’t thoroughly being investigated,” Kermode said.

“And while the BBC and BuzzFeed reports mainly refer to events from about 10 years ago, we will investigate any new information, and we always do. In its investigations, the Tennis Integrity Unit has to find evidence as opposed to information, suspicion, or hearsay. This is the key here, that it requires evidence.”

TIU director of integrity Nigel Willerton refused to confirm or deny whether there were players competing at this year’s Australian Open under investigation, describing it as unprofessional.

“Under the Tennis Anti-corruption Program, we can demand their phones and laptops and iPads,” Willerton said.

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Australian Open 2016: Evergreen Roger Federer eases through to second round

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Full Nick Kyrgios package wins first roundFederer describes lack of names in match-fixing reports as ‘nonsense’

The green stripes on Roger Federer’s predominantly white shirt were a good fit.

After all, the major talking point on day one of the Australian Open was not what had happened on court, but rather the revelation that several pros were happy bending the rules in order to procure a certain green substance.

But on a day which rocked the tennis world, comfort could at least be provided the ease in which the evergreen champion trampled over his first-round opponent – the 116th ranked Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.

Showing no signs that he was still suffering from the flu-like illness which affected him in the first half of this month, Federer claimed a 6-2 6-1 6-2 win on Monday night at Rod Laver Arena, a court where he has four times earlier hoisted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup – even if three of those triumphs came on the green Rebound Ace surface no longer in use.

In beating Basilashvili in one hour and 12 minutes, Federer extended his streak of Grand Slam tournaments at which he won at least one match to 51.

Federer now faces 35th-ranked Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, against whom he has won both of their previous encounters.

It said something of Federer’s dominance on Monday night that he could afford to drop his serve midway through the opening set, but still contain it to 23 minutes.

The third-seeded Swiss broke for the first time in the third game of the opening set, claimed following a double fault by the Georgian. Even when landing them in play, Basilashvili’s second serve was ripe for the picking by the all-time men’s Grand Slam singles title record-holder, who won 17 of the 24 points on which the Georgian had faulted.

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Tour Down Under: Sean Lake hopes to raise bar again in bid for professional career

Friday, July 19th, 2019

“The goal is to become professional and that is what I would like to do with my life”: Sean Lake. Photo: John VeageSean Lake has barely had time to absorb the trajectory that his cycling career has taken in the last two weeks, let alone in the last two years since he gave up rowing.

A former lightweight rower with the Melbourne Mercantile club, Lake, 24, once had his eyes on earning a seat in the Australian men’s lightweight coxless four for the Olympics – if not for Rio this year, then for the next Games in Tokyo in 2020.

But despite having raced in the under 23 world titles three times, the struggle of getting down to the 70kg weight he needed was, over time, too much of a test for his mind and body.

As the rowing flame dimmed, his passion for cycling grew while he and his crewmates rode up to 250km a week on top of the on-water training in the boat.

It was a little over two years ago that Lake, who now weighs a comfortable 77kg now and is 184cm tall, gave up rowing for cycling.

But even then, he had no inkling that by today he would be about to start in Australia’s only World Tour event, the Tour Down Under that starts on Tuesday and finishes on Sunday.

But that is where he has found himself is, as a member of the Uni SA-Australia national team that will mix it with 19 professional teams, of which 18 are World Tour.

Lake has impressed in his two years on the bike in the National Road Series. In 2014 and 2015, he even became the first rider to win the Grafton to Inverell back to back with the African Wildlife Safaris team and was then signed up by Avanti-IsoWhey.

But it was really at the recent Australian road championships in Buninyong where Lake, for two months coached by Mark Fenner, extended awareness of his potential beyond the NRS.

In the men’s elite time trial national title race, Lake finished third behind BMC teammates Rohan Dennis who won, and Richie Porte.

That result and his work for Avanti-IsoWhey in the men’s elite road race three days later sealed him his Uni SA-Australia selection – and with that an opportunity to showcase his talents on the world stage.

“Absolutely,” Lake said in Adelaide on Monday, the morning after he made his debut in the World Tour peloton that raced in the People’s Choice Classic criterium.

“The goal is to become professional and that is what I would like to do with my life.”

Lake has no regrets about his change of sports, and certainly does not miss the scales.

“Having no weigh-in in cycling is definitely a benefit. I stopped [rowing] because I was struggling to make lightweight,” said Lake, whose decision would cost him his Olympic rowing ambitions.

“That is what I was focused on in rowing – to get to the Olympics. That is where longevity became an issue.

“Although I believed I was a chance for Rio, it was 2020 where I had my opportunity in rowing, but I knew I wasn’t going to last that long.”

Does he miss rowing? No … well, sort of. “I don’t miss so much being in the boat, but I do a bit of coaching. It’s a bit nicer being on the other side of the megaphone,” said Lake.

Lake coaches the year 10 first quad scull at St Catherine’s in Melbourne and rates his crew as a “hot shot” to win the Head of the Schoolgirls regatta on the first weekend of March.

But first things first, there is his race at the Tour Down Under, an event in which the Uni SA-Australia team has never felt intimidated by the seasoned professionals.

“A few of the guys have said, ‘Show them all respect but absolutely [do] not fear them,'” Lake said.

“We will go out with that in mind and definitely take it too them by riders like me getting in the breaks and giving Steele [von Hoff] a lead out [for the sprints.]”

Tour Down Under

Tuesday: Stage 1 – Prospect to Lyndoch (130.8km)

Wednesday: Stage 2 – Unley to Stirling 132km

Thursday: Stage 3 – Glenelg to Campbelltown, 139km

Friday: Stage 4 – Norwood to Victor Harbor, 138km

Saturday: Stage 5 – McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill, 151.5km

Sunday: Stage 6 – Adelaide circuit race, 90km

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Cricket Australia confirms ‘pitchsiders’ have been evicted from Big Bash matches this summer

Friday, July 19th, 2019

So-called “pitchsiders” are continuing to infiltrate Big Bash matches by sneaking laptops and mobile phones into grounds, while it has emerged a number of spectators have been evicted this summer for partaking in an activity cricket authorities are intent on stamping out of the game.

Security and anti-corruption officials are remaining vigilant as Cricket Australia confirmed on Monday it was aware of a number of incidents over the past few weeks involving spectators being tossed out of Big Bash matches for partaking in suspicious activity.

While Cricket Australia refused to elaborate on specific details because the evictions were “operational matters”, Fairfax Media understands a number of spectators who made their way down to the MCG on Thursday for the Melbourne Stars and Brisbane Heat match were evicted for using laptops and other devices while sitting in the crowd.

It is believed even more spectators at the same match were approached by security for using mobile phones to relay information about match conditions and up-to-the-second information about the game at hand. While it appears the issue is not confined to one state in particular, the spectators were evicted from Big Bash matches because they breached various terms and conditions of entry enforced at different grounds around the country.

It is unclear whether the spectators who were asked to leave have been handed bans or move-on notices. Security at the ground passes on information about the incident to police, who then deal appropriately with the offenders and determine a punishment, should one be necessary.

Pitchsiding is not a new phenomenon. It involves a spectator using an electronic device to bet — or relay information — to someone who places a live in-play bet which takes advantage of the slight time difference in overseas broadcasts to potentially gain an advantage over bookmakers before odds are changed. Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit have worked tirelessly in recent years to stamp out the activity; while not illegal in NSW, is not a good look for a sport trying to distance itself from the shady underworld of match-fixing.

In Victoria, however, pitchsiding is now a criminal offence after laws passed in 2013 target individuals who try to corrupt a betting outcome. There is an argument, however, that such a practice should be allowed because it exposes a loophole seized upon byindividuals who are understood to be proficient mathematicians.

“Australian cricket has a long-standing, proactive approach to sports integrity management,” a Cricket Australia spokesperson said. “While betting on sport is not new to our community, the increase in its popularity in recent years has seen us take significant steps to ensure we safeguard the integrity of our competitions.”

In 2013 Cricket Australia hired an external bet monitoring company, Sportsradar, to provide intelligence on the nature and volume of betting on domestic matches.

CA has an in-house integrity analyst to assess betting trends as well as relationships with a number of official betting partners that assist in the ongoing integrity management of all competitions, by agreeing to information sharing and other integrity requirements.

The most high-profile case of pitchsiding in Australia occurred when Rajiv Mulchandani, a British national, was evicted from the SCG and ANZ Stadium in December 2014 after police caught him live-betting on his laptop behind the bowler’s arm during a game between the Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat.

He was charged with trespass offences after it became clear he had re-entered ANZ Stadium after being banned from the venue.

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