Fourth Test between Australia and India could have been played in Perth instead of Brisbane: Dirk Nannes


With just four Tests played over the current Australian summer, ABC Sport commentator Dirk Nannes has questioned why Brisbane was given hosting rights instead of Perth.

The hard-fought series between Australia and India has been played in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, while the new Perth Stadium going without a Test.

The series is going down to the wire at the Gabba, with Australia seeking a win to clinch the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. India only require a draw.

Nannes said the investment in Perth Stadium and the quality of the cricket played on the grounds meant there was a strong argument to play a match in WA ahead of Brisbane.

“They’ve just put a billion dollars into a stadium and put on a great Test match when they’ve had it there,” he said.

Australia’s superb record at the ‘Gabbatoir’ is often raised as a reason to hold a game there, with the hosts having not lost a Test in Brisbane since 1988/89.

“Or do you pick it on your place that puts on the best product?”

Nannes’s comments about the viability of the Brisbane Test came in the wake of low crowd numbers on day four. The crowd capacity had been limited to 10,000 each day due to coronavirus concerns, but the Monday crowd was a fraction of that.

“There’s only 2,200 people who find it entertaining enough to turn up and watch,” Nannes said.

“I just feel like it’s a trend over the years that people aren’t coming to the Brisbane Test in the numbers that you get elsewhere,” he said, pointing out that it was still school holidays in Queensland.

SCG and MCG have the advantage of consistent dates

The Test and series are evenly poised.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

Fellow commentator Quentin Hull said it was harder for Queenslanders to blank out their diaries for the annual Test, as it wasn’t on a set date.

“Everyone has lower crowds on day four. Aside from Melbourne and Sydney, you aren’t sure when the Test will be played each year,” Hull said.

“Melbourne is always on on Boxing Day. The SCG is always in the New Year.

“This is an event that doesn’t have a set date in the calendar.”

Nannes admitted the Brisbane pitch was of a high standard.

“This is my favourite cricket pitch in the country.

“You need an atmosphere. You need bums on seats in Australia. And the ground is somewhat antiquated.

“I just feel with the amount of investment that has gone into Perth — and you don’t just chase the money — but [also] the quality of cricket Perth has put on in the last few years, they might deserve it.

“This topic generates discussion every year, and it’s always going to be along state lines.”

Both Nannes and Hull agreed they would like to see more Tests played, even if it doesn’t generate the revenue of limited-overs cricket.

In 2019 former Australian batsman Ed Cowan called the Gabba a “concrete bowl”.

“Brisbane is not a great place to watch Test cricket. It’s hot, it’s sweaty, you’re in a concrete bowl,” he said

“There’s nothing great about the Gabba except probably the wicket.”

Listen to live coverage of Australia vs India on ABC Sport.

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Less danger from JobKeeper end: Deloitte



Deloitte Access Economics believes the recovery in the jobs market so far makes it less dangerous for JobKeeper to end in March.

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Collingwood appoints new GM of Football


Collingwood has appointed Graham Wright as its new GM of Football.

Wright replaces Geoff Walsh as the Magpies’ new football boss following a successful stint at Hawthorn.

During his time at the Hawks, Wright oversaw four premierships working in recruiting and list management before moving into the head of football role in 2018.

A premiership player with Collingwood in 1990, Wright is looking forward to returning to his former club.

“I am very excited to take on the General Manger of Football position at Collingwood and look forward to the opportunity to work with Nathan Buckley, the players and staff at the club,” Wright said in a statement.

“Following a strong 2020 campaign and with a fresh crop of talent from last year’s draft, I am clearly stepping into a program with a strong foundation and a desire for even greater success.”

Wright played 201 games for the Magpies between 1988 and 1998.





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Australia v India LIVE: Fourth Test, day four



The stage is set for an exciting finale to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. Can Australia set the game up on day four at the Gabba?

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Israel approves hundreds of settlement homes in last-minute push


“By promoting hundreds of settlement units, Prime Minister Netanyahu is once again putting his personal political interests over those of the country,” the group said. “Not only will this settlement activity erode the possibility for a conflict-ending resolution with the Palestinians in the long-term, but in the short-term it needlessly sets Israel on a collision course with the incoming Biden administration.”

Netanyahu’s office said last week he would seek approvals for the latest construction projects. They include 100 homes in Tal Menashe, a settlement where an Israeli woman was killed last month in an attack for which a Palestinian man has been charged.

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The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mid-east war, as part of a future independent state. They say the growing settler population, approaching some 500,000 people, makes it increasingly difficult to achieve their dream of independence.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Sunday’s decision marked a “pre-emptive attempt by the Israeli government to undermine any effort that the US President-elect Joe Biden’s administration might make to relaunch the stalled peace process.”

Jordan, which borders the West Bank, and the European Union also condemned the Israeli announcement. The EU said it is “contrary to international law and further undermines the prospects of a viable two-state solution”.

A string of US administrations, along with the rest of the international community, opposed settlement construction. But Trump, surrounded by a team of advisers with close ties to the settler movement, took a different approach. His administration did not criticise Israeli settlement announcements, and in a landmark decision, announced in 2018 that it did not consider settlements to be illegal under international law.

As a result, Israel approved plans for over 27,000 settler homes during Trump’s four-year term, more than 2.5 times the number approved during the Obama administration’s second term, according to Peace Now.

Biden is expected to return to the traditional US position of opposing settlements, setting the stage for a possible clash with Netanyahu.

AP

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Access to capital crucial to small-business survival: ASBFEO


The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has called on the Government to set up a revenue-contingent loan scheme for small businesses. The Ombudsman said that such a move is critical to the cashflow requirements of many SMEs in staying solvents in the next 12 months with COVID fiscal stimulus measures ending and banks still making the loans process so complicated and time-consuming for small businesses.

“Unfortunately, it’s a perfect storm scenario, especially for those small businesses that haven’t been able to fully recover from the COVID crisis,” Carnell said.

“Access to credit will be critical to keeping those otherwise viable small businesses afloat, particularly over the coming months as support measures are phased out and the bills start flowing in again.”

The Ombudsman is advocating for a revenue-contingent loan scheme for small businesses that mirrors the HECS scheme, meaning borrowers will only have to start making repayments once their turnover reaches a specified level. The proposal is that the Federal Government fund the scheme, and that maximum loan values are calculated based on each SME’s annual revenue, with businesses applying for funding needing to pass  a viability test to qualify.

“Sudden lockdowns and border closures have heavily impacted small businesses in recent weeks – it’s no wonder they are scared to take on additional bank debt given conditions can deteriorate so rapidly,” Carnell said.

“Even in the best of times, small businesses have struggled to secure finance. Taking into account the enormous challenges they are now facing, the fallout of insufficient working capital could be devastating, not only for small business owners and their staff, but for the broader economy,” Carnell added.

“The latest ASIC data shows external administrator appointments were up by 23 per cent in December 2020 and economists are predicting the number of businesses entering voluntary administration to rise this year.

“A revenue-contingent loan scheme would give small businesses the confidence they need to seek funding, so they can survive and employ again. It’s essential to Australia’s economic recovery.”



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Coronavirus Australia live news: Brazil approves emergency use of Sinovac, AstraZeneca vaccines amid second wave



Brazilian health regulator Anvisa has approved the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech and Britain’s AstraZeneca, kicking off immunisations as the pandemic enters a deadly second wave.

The agency has authorised the use of eight million imported doses of both injections, with two local biomedical centres also starting to produce them.

Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, who oversees the Butantan biomedical center that partnered with Sinovac in Brazil, said widespread vaccinations could start immediately.

“I have determined that as soon as Anvisa approves the emergency use of the Butantan vaccine, the Butantan Institute will immediately deliver the vaccines to the Health Ministry to be distributed to SP (Sao Paulo), DF (Federal District) and all Brazilian states,” Doria tweeted just before the deciding vote was cast by Anvisa’s board.

President Jair Bolsonaro has been accused of delaying the beginning of vaccination, despite a surge in the number of cases and deaths in the past two months.

Brazil has recorded almost 8.5 million cases, and in excess of 200,000 deaths throughout the pandemic.

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Novak Djokovic letter, proposals, COVID-19, Adelaide, Melbourne, quarantine


The No. 1 male tennis player in the world Novak Djokovic has reportedly issued a letter to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley as the shambolic arrival of overseas participants continues.

On Sunday night, a third plane with a positive COVID-19 test arrived in Melbourne as tennis stars continued to complain about the conditions they face in quarantine.

There are now reportedly 72 players who face a hard 14-day lockdown, unable to leave their hotel rooms.

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Spanish tennis website Punto de Break reports Djokovic has called for Tiley to support the players who are being forced into quarantine, after originally believing they would be able to leave their rooms for five hours a day to practise and receive treatment.

Journalist Fernando Murciego reports Djokovic’s proposals include:

• Fitness and training material in all rooms

• Decent food for elite athletes, following players taking aim at the meals on offer

• Reduce the days of isolation for players in quarantine and carry out more tests to confirm they are negative

• Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both test negative

• Grant both the player and their coach permission to be on the same floor of the hotel

• Move as many players as possible to private houses with a tennis court to facilitate training

Djokovic was the former president of the ATP Player Council but resigned to help set up the PTPA (Professional Tennis Players Association).

As the proposals began to circulate, social media was quick to remind the world that Djokovic had tested positive for COVID-19 in June after organising the Adria Tour, a tennis exhibition series in Serbia and Croatia held without any social distancing measures in place.

It comes a day after Austrian World No. 42 doubles player Philipp Oswald, who is one of the players in hard quarantine, called out Djokovic and other players who landed in Adelaide instead of Melbourne for an exhibition tournament.

Tennisnet.com reported a Q&A where Oswald called out the tournament double standards as it was revealed on January 9 that a curtain-raiser to the summer of tennis called A Day at the Drive was to be held in Adelaide on Friday January 29.

It will feature players including Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka and Djokovic.

“Conditions are much better in Adelaide,” Oswald said. “First, players were allowed to take a lot more staff with them. Medvedev and Zverev, for example, were only allowed to take two people with them, while Thiem, Nadal and Djokovic each came with 10 people.

“They also have a gym in their hotel. So they don’t have to do their fitness exercises during the five-hour period. You only have the five hours to play tennis. There was a huge discussion and the other players were also upset.

“It was then that Djokovic could understand that and wanted to be in Melbourne like the other players. One day later it was said that everything was already organised for him in Adelaide. It’s not apples and apples here, but apples and pears — and I caught the sour lemon.”

Italian tennis journalist Luca Fiorino reported world No. 3 women’s player Naomi Osaka deleted a photo that caused a stink, with rivals “not very happy for the unequal treatment in relation to big players staying in Adelaide”.

While there have now been three flights with players forced into quarantine in Melbourne, the Australian Open Twitter page wrote on Saturday night that “SA Health has confirmed that there is no one who has an active COVID-19 infection in the entire tennis cohort based in Adelaide. Testing will continue on a daily basis.”

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Minderoo ups spend to $88m



Andrew and Nicola Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation spent $88 million on philanthropic causes in 2020, giving $19.7 million to its Flourishing Oceans initiative.

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Peterhansel claims 14th Dakar Rally title


French veteran Stephane Peterhansel has celebrated a record-extending 14th Dakar Rally title victory, and his eighth in the car category, after a gruelling two weeks in the Saudi Arabian deserts.

The 55-year-old X-Raid Mini JCW driver, nicknamed “Mr Dakar” for his unprecedented success, first won the endurance event on a motorcycle in 1991 and switched to cars after five more wins on two wheels.

Argentine Kevin Benavides, riding a Honda, became the first South American to win the motorcycle category after the 12th and final stage that ended in Jeddah on Friday.

The annual rally started in 1978 as a race from Paris to the Senegalese capital, Dakar, but moved from Africa for safety reasons in 2009. It is now held entirely in Saudi Arabia after a stint in South America.

This year was the 43rd staging of the event.

Friday’s finish was clouded by news of the death of French amateur rider Pierre Cherpin who had been in an induced coma since he crashed on the seventh stage.

The 52-year-old amateur was the first fatality of this year’s event. Two motorcycle riders died on the Dakar last January.

Peterhansel, who had led since the second stage but won only one of the 12, finished 14 minutes and 51 seconds ahead of Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, a three times Dakar winner, in a Toyota.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz, the defending champion and Peterhansel’s team mate, won the final stage and finished third overall.

In the motorcycle class, 2020 champion Ricky Brabec of the United States won the final stage to finish runner-up to team mate Benavides and complete Honda’s first one-two Dakar finish since 1987.

Britain’s Sam Sunderland, the 2017 winner, finished third overall for KTM.

“On stage five I was worried, because I crashed so fast and hit my head and my ankle and felt a lot of pain. On that day I said maybe the Dakar is finished for me. But I continued pushing,” said Benavides.

“I still have some pain, but at the moment I am more happy than in pain.”

Manuel Andujar made it an Argentine double with victory in the quadbike class.



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