Daniel Ricciardo has warned McLaren fans not to expect a “comedy show” with new teammate Lando Norris and that he made the move from Renault for “business” reasons only.
The Australian has joined McLaren after two seasons at the French constructor in which he ended its wait for a podium by securing two over the course of the year to finish fifth in the drivers’ standings.
Ricciardo, one of the most popular drivers on the grid, will now join 21-year-old Norris, another fan favourite, in a team which is expected to provide plenty entertainment both on and off the track.
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Australian GP postponed until November
But despite all of the laughs between the pair during press conferences and in pitlane over the years, Ricciardo has insisted he is it McLaren because he wants to win again, and nothing else.
“It’s something I want to reiterate to everyone watching, and every fan of McLaren in particular,” Ricciardo stated in an interview with Sky Sports News.
“It’s not going to be a comedy show. I’m going there for business, I’m going there to improve the car.
“My personality won’t change so I think I do enjoy doing what I do… but I’m certainly not going there to be this meme power couple or whatever it’s described as these days!”
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“The players will laugh with you and the other ball kids will have a laugh afterwards,” she said.
This year, Maddie’s sister, Lucy, 12, will be a first-time ball kid. Watching Maddie do it, it looked like fun, Lucy said. “I’m kind of nervous but I’m really excited, too.”
The later scheduling of the 2021 Open due to the COVID-19 pandemic means the two-week event coincides with the beginning of term one at school.
Ball kids manager Elise Mace said both the Education Department and each child’s principal had to approve them missing a few school days a week.
There are a record 380 ball kids this year and their age range has expanded to 12 to 17 years, compared with 12 to 15 last year, so there will be kids with more experience.
Ball-kid training usually begins in June but the lockdown meant it was pushed back to early January this year.
Among COVID-safe measures, ball kids will be allocated to one of three lounges across Melbourne Park, instead of one big lounge.
Kids will no longer handle players’ towels or drink bottles. They will handle tennis balls as normal but will be encouraged to use hand sanitiser. They don’t have to wear masks.
Ball kids aren’t paid but get a daily allowance for food and transport and keep their uniform (designed by Ralph Lauren) and other goodies, which last year included Apple AirPods, gift cards and backpacks.
Ms Mace said they were told to “hold on to your hats” because members of the public had tried to pinch the legionnaire-style cap with side flaps. “They’re hot property,” she said.
Maddie and Lucy’s father, Paul Higgins, said he had been concerned about the COVID-19 risks and about Maddie missing classes. However, ball kids learned a lot, including commitment, confidence and concentration.
“They’re real-life skills. If you’re tired, you get on with it, go back the next day and do it again,” Mr Higgins said. This year, Maddie had been chosen as one of 20 “ball kids leaders” so she would be a mentor, too.
Maddie said it was at thrill to mix with famous players.
“It’s crazy and surreal seeing them up close after you’ve seen them on TV,” she said. “And walking on to court with the huge crowds at Rod Laver Arena was really amazing.”
But she also loves hanging out with the other ball kids. “That was one of my favourite parts about it and one of the reasons I wanted to come back this year,” she said.
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Carolyn Webb is a reporter for The Age.
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MCG will play host to Tuesday”s
Round 7 BBL Big Bash 2021 game between Melbourne Renegades and
Hobart Hurricanes. The game kicks off at 4:15 pm with Hobart Hurricanes heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Melbourne Renegades vs.
game and give you our free tips and bets.
When: Tuesday January 26, 2021 at 4:15 pm
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Melbourne Renegades vs Hobart Hurricanes Odds
Melbourne Renegades vs Hobart Hurricanes Preview
The Renegades are the only team to have already been eliminated from finals contention as they set out to spoil Hobart’s party.
The ‘Canes are desperately clinging to the fifth spot on the ladder knowing full well that a win and a Thunder or Heat loss would be enough to extend their season.
The Hurricanes won by six wickets when these two sides last met, and although an upset would be fun, it’s hard to see this one going any other way.
Hobart has won four straight over the Renegades dating back to 2018, so this one really isn’t worth overcomplicating.
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A report has emerged that India had refused to continue playing during the Sydney Test until action was taken over the alleged racial abuse levelled at Mohammed Siraj.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age claims the visitors would not continue playing until the complaint was addressed and acted upon.
Cricket Australia on Wednesday confirmed the spectators ejected from the SCG on suspicion of racial abuse had been cleared, but didn’t offer a public apology to them in its press release.
“CA’s investigation concluded that the spectators filmed and/or photographed by media in the Brewongle Stand concourse at the conclusion of the 86th over on day three of the Test did not engage in racist behaviour,” the statement reads.
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CA’s report concluded that racial abuse from the crowd did occur, but the men removed from the ground were not responsible.
CA’s findings have reportedly been sent to the International Cricket Council after interviews with several Indian players as well as witness accounts from spectators.
“As stated at the time of the incident, CA has a zero tolerance policy towards discriminatory behaviour in all forms and, as hosts of the Border-Gavaskar series, apologises to the Indian men’s cricket team,” the statement added.
“CA confirms that members of the Indian cricket team were subjected to racial abuse. CA’s own investigation into the matter remains open, with CCTV footage, ticketing data and interviews with spectators still being analysed in an attempt to locate those responsible. Spectators who are found to have breached CA’s Anti-Harassment Code face lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police.”
Siraj had told CA after the Sydney Test he was called a “brown dog” and monkey”.
The Indian fast bowler revealed last week that on-field umpires gave the team the chance to leave the third Test midway through after his complaint.
“You lucky f***” – Stoinis falls cheaply
“I faced abuses in Australia. The case is going on, let’s see whether I get justice or not. My job was to report the incident to the captain,” the 26-year-old said in a press conference after arriving in India.
“The umpires offered us to leave the game but Rahane said we won’t leave the game. We did no mistake, so we will play,” he said.
Play was stopped for several minutes after Siraj told captain Ajinkya Rahane and on-field umpires Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson of the abuse.
CA earlier this month issued a statement apologising to the Indian team for the alleged racial abuse.
It was a very difficult period for India, with fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar revealing how the entire Test series was in jeopardy from the very start due to an issue with bringing families over.
Big Show keeps hope alive for Stars
“Do you know something? When we were quarantined in Dubai, before the last 48 hours, they suddenly announced that the families will not be allowed,” he said on Ravichandran Ashwin’s Youtube channel.
“Sorry families not allowed, Australian government is strict on this. There were total 7 players who had brought their families and kids. How to convey this to them? Then came Ravi Shastri into the scene. He then setup a zoom meeting since all of us were in our rooms in quarantine in Dubai.
“He said ‘If families are not allowed, then we would not be going to Australia as well. Do whatever you can. Thats’s the news from the centre’. And then he added ‘no one knows Australia better than me. I have been going there for the last 40 years. How one should behave or bargain with them, I know’. He literally made sure that BCCI listened to what he said. Australian government worked overnight during the weekend to get the permission.”
Renegades spoil Hurricanes finals hopes
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Carlton was one win away from a second straight Grand Final appearance before the 2020 AFLW season was shut down, but they didn’t rest on their laurels over the off-season and made moves to improve their list.
The Blues traded a first-round draft pick for veteran Melbourne midfielder Elise O’Dea who, after a down 2020, is enjoying a revitalised pre-season at Ikon Park.
Maddy Prespakis led Carlton’s midfield in 2020 on her way to winning the league best and fairest, but the side was heavily reliant on her to dominate on-ball.
Co-captain Kerryn Harrington believes the addition of O’Dea has given the group a new element both in the midfield and around the club.
“It’s honestly like adding another captain into the team,” Harrington said at the AFLW Captain’s Day on Wednesday.
“Particularly our midfield is quite young and inexperienced when you look at it quite closely and what she’s been able to bring in is a whole heap of stability and organisation which is exactly what we needed her to do.
“The added bonus is she’s a big body so she’s a bit of a protector for Maddy Prespakis and Grace Egan and Mimi Hill who we hope will have a big season for us as well.”
Carlton takes on Collingwood on Thursday night to launch the 2021 season and one of the key players for the Blues for a fifth straight season will be Darcy Vescio.
The inaugural AFLW leading goal kicker was reinvented in 2020, playing further up the ground and roaming between the arcs.
Harrington believes Vescio has come back fitter than ever and ready for a role with greater midfield time.
“She’s kind of gone a bit unspoken this season. I think she’s primed for her best season yet,” she said.
“She’s as fit as she’s ever been and that ability for her to get up the ground and impact the contest is going to be huge for us.”
Similarly, crafty forward Georgia Gee, who booted three goals in the club’s finals win over Brisbane last year, will also spend more time in the midfield.
“Georgia Gee is probably one of the cleanest players in the competition, so the more that she’s around the ball the better for us,” he said.
One of Carlton’s most impressive players in their practice match win over St Kilda last week was young key forward Serena Gibbs.
Gibbs did not feature at AFLW level in 2020, but Harrington believes she’s ready to have an impact at some stage this year.
“The growth that she’s had in the last 12 months, I have no doubt she’ll get her opportunity at some stage this season and she’ll do a great job for us,” she said.
The Blues will be without reliable defender Gab Pound for Round 1 as she deals with a hand issue.
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David Mundy has “full confidence” that Fremantle will play finals footy this year.
The Dockers made great progress in their first season under Justin Longmuir in 2020, winning seven of 17 matches which was a better result than many expected.
With the new season fast approaching, midfielder Mundy says there is one point of difference that will see today’s Dockers take another step forward in 2021.
He cites the desire of the club’s younger brigade as one of the key components for potential success.
“I think the big difference with the group we have at the moment to a lot of other groups I’ve had in my time at Fremantle is a real strong individual desire to improve,” he said on Sportsday WA.
“All of the guys we’ve drafted over the last three or four years are of really high character, high football ability and are really self-driven to improve.
“No one has gone away after last season and thought, ‘Oh, how great was that. We improved last year, it will just happen again’.
“It’s a pre-season cliche and I hate saying it, but everyone has come back in really great nick and are really enthused to come back to the group and improve together.
“I have full confidence that no stone will be left unturned from a club perspective, but all the way down to an individual perspective, in a bid to take us back up the ladder and playing finals.”
Many pundits have indicated that there should be cause for concern with Fremantle, who despite being strong defensively, lacked scoring power in that they averaged a tick over 50 points per game last year.
Mundy pointed out how Longmuir and his coaches are attempting to fix the disconnect between the midfield and forward line.
“We’re working really hard on our midfield connection. How we deliver the ball inside forward 50 to our forwards,” he added.
“Matt Taberner and Rory Lobb in particular showed that they have an incredible ability to take contested marks. That’s great but we’d love to get them some really easy ones on the lead where they can go back and convert for us.
“It’s something that we’re working on really hard. We certainly understand that it’s an area of improvement for us and we’re putting in the time there.
“Hopefully with that time comes an improvement that we’re looking for.”
As Mundy enters his 18th season, he still expects to spend most of his time in the midfield even with a group of quality youngsters including Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra and Caleb Serong snapping at his heels.
But he feels with decreased interchange rotations from 90 to 75, we may see a new normal in 2021.
“At the moment I’m training full-time with the mids and doing my midfield minutes there,” he said further.
“I’m really trying to continue to improve, get myself up to scratch and hopefully along the way pass on some knowledge to the younger guys.
“I think what we are going to see moving forward, especially with reduced rotations across the AFL, is that multi-positional players will become the new norm.
“I expect, if I manage to sneak into the Freo best 22, to play midfield minutes but it would be very naive thinking that it will be only midfield minutes.
“Whether that’s a bit of time up forward or out on a wing or at half-back, we’re not too sure yet. We’ll play that as it comes about.
“I certainly think most players in the AFL will be looking at being multi-positional players.”
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Essendon Football Club has become the latest sporting body to call for the Australia Day public holiday date to change.
Last week, Cricket Australia decided to omit references to Australia Day from Tuesday’s three Big Bash League fixtures.
The public holiday matches have been spruiked as “January 26” games after consultation with Indigenous leaders.
It was a decision which faced plenty of backlash, including from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who called it “pretty ordinary”.
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But on Tuesday morning, Essendon released a statement suggesting the public holiday should move away from January 26.
“We at Essendon Football Club acknowledge that today is a day of sadness and pain for Indigenous peoples,” the statement read.
“We are committed to being a culturally safe and inclusive place where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples want to play, work and support. We value our strong connection with Indigenous Australia and we are committed to reconciliation and celebration the survival of the oldest living culture on earth. We look forward to a time when all Australians can enjoy a day of national celebration together.”
The Bombers are a partner of The Long Walk, an organisation set up by former club champion Michael Long which supports the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Several other AFL clubs acknowledged Indigenous Australians on Tuesday morning as “Invasion Day” protests took place across the country.
Richmond Football Club posted on Twitter: “We at Richmond Football Club acknowledge today is a day of sadness for many of us.
“We place enormous value on our connection with Indigenous Australia.
“We stand united in our commitment to reconciliation and celebrating the survival of the world’s oldest living culture.”
St Kilda Football Club wrote: “Always was, always will be.
“Today, we stand beside our Indigenous brothers and sisters, because this isn’t about division.
It’s about acknowledging our past, and working towards a better future, together.”
On Tuesday morning, Sydney Swans great Judge Bolton revealed he turned down an offer to become an Australia Day Ambassador.
“Extremely grateful for the invitation to become an Australia Day Ambassador,” Bolton tweeted.
“However, it is time to change the date.”
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This line is the knockout punch to the AFL’s clever promotional video for season 2021 of AFLW, in which a tongue-in-cheek narrator reads advice given to women in a 1955 publication called the Good Wife’s Guide.
With lines like “a lady must never complain and boast” juxtaposed with bone-crunching tackles and bravado, the video highlights just how far expectations of what it means to be a woman have come — through the prism of some seriously good football.
It’s an uplifting — even feminist — note for the competition to start on in its fifth year, in part fuelled by what Nicole Livingstone has described as the AFL’s “absolute commitment” to ensure there is no repeat of the previous season, in which no premier was awarded.
In 2020, AFLW was called off with just the preliminary and grand finals remaining after the Federal Government banned all “non-essential” domestic travel in March.
In hindsight, the decision was a poor look for gender equality, considering the elaborate strategies that would later be employed to ensure the men’s competition could be completed.
It’s also a situation that has been mirrored globally — including in cricket — with women’s competitions cancelled or postponed as the first casualty of COVID-19.
In fairness to the AFL, while Australians may now be used to the idea of hubs, bubbles and quarantined tennis players, sport hardly seemed to qualify as essential travel back in March 2020.
But there are no such excuses this year.
Pandemic accelerates competition’s maturity
With some irony, COVID-19 has also paved the way for a raft of changes that fans and players have long been asking for, and which signal the competition’s growing maturity.
These include ticketing games — in part to ensure patron safety — and charging adults $10 for entry, while children are still able to attend for free.
In response to a query about the revenue generated, the AFL would not confirm that this money will be reinvested into women’s football. At the least, however, it is a welcome and symbolic shift that designates the value of a product that drew a record-breaking crowd of 53,034 to its last grand final.
This does not mean crowds are likely to be as strong in 2021, or that attendance will be easy.
Aside from the video on social media, advertising and promotion for the competition has been scarce. So too has clarity on how to purchase tickets; due to the ongoing nature of COVID-19 restrictions, these will only be sold on the Monday of each week’s round, and will need to be pre-purchased, with no ticket sales at grounds.
While the logic of this decision is purportedly to stop patrons crowding in ticket lines, it presents a barrier to the “community-friendly” feel of the women’s game which attracts less-traditional football fans, often to suburban grounds.
More promisingly, while AFW has at times been a stage for the AFL’s experimentation, 2021 finally marks an end to the controversial “conference system” that confused old and new fans of the game alike.
Replacing the clunky, dual-ladder system, the 14 clubs will now vie for the premiership in a more traditional format.
What has not changed is that the competition runs for just nine rounds, meaning all clubs will not play each other once, and making fairness of the fixture impossible.
It also means players train year-round for a home and away competition that lasts just over two months — a situation drawn into sharp focus by Ebony Marinoff’s controversial three-week suspension (currently under appeal) that, if upheld, will see her miss a third of the season.
Flexibility not always possible for AFLW
On Friday last week, the AFL announced that the season’s fixture had also been significantly rejigged in response to the hard West Australian border — a situation both predictable and one that mirrors the rolling changes to the AFL men’s competition in 2020.
But while there are parallels with the way the men’s competition was adapted, the solutions for running AFLW in a pandemic are not simple, and can’t by nature be the same.
The obvious difference is that the players are not professional athletes, with their comparatively miniscule salaries meaning many work part-time to maintain a living.
“Hubbing” away from home makes it near impossible to maintain this already delicate and precarious dance, especially for those who work on the so-called front line, such as nurses and police.
As only one example, GWS player and firefighter Lou Stephenson was in January forced to stay in NSW to complete training, while her teammates relocated to Albury and then Adelaide, and looks likely to miss round one as a result.
It is therefore welcome news that the AFL will provide some financial assistance to players who are living away from home, although the details of that deal — and how much the players will be compensated — have not been made public.
Looking forward to this season, the ongoing struggles of these dedicated part-time athletes serve to remind that while AFLW continues to grow and challenge stereotypes, women aren’t the masters of the house — yet.
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Former Formula One world champion Jenson Button will own and drive for a team in the inaugural Extreme E motor racing season this year.
Button has founded the JBXE team for the series, which features electric SUVs racing in off-road locations.
The announcement follows Button’s unveiling as a senior adviser to his ex-Formula One team Williams last week.
“JBXE has been a long time coming and I’m both delighted and proud to announce its formation and entry into the inaugural Extreme E Championship,” the British driver said.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg also own teams that will compete in the five-race series, which starts in Saudi Arabia in April, but unlike Button they will not drive for them.
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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has lifted the lid on Lewis Hamilton’s ongoing contract saga saying “curveballs” have been thrown at the lawyers.
Hamilton is currently unemployed and out of contract after allowing his Merc deal wind down before it expired on December 31st, The Sun reports.
The 36-year-old had maintained that his intention was always to re-sign for the team, expected to be a two-year contract worth up to $70million (£40m) a year.
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However, there is a growing feeling that those negotiations had hit a snag and now Wolff has revealed he “argues’”with the world champion over Zoom, while his demands have held up the lawyers.
“The lawyers are working hard. We don’t make life easy for them, of course, when we both argue over Zoom and keep sending curveballs to the lawyers,” he said.
“But he’s in America now and I’m here in Austria. At some point we will finalise it. It’s how it is with negotiations.
“You always come from different corners, but that’s quite normal.
“We have a really solid basis in our relationship. We have celebrated great successes together and want to continue doing so in the future.
“But sometimes you have to talk things out in detail, and that took or still takes us some time. But before Bahrain at the latest, you have to sign something at some point.”
While Wolff is calm about the situation, the fact he is willing to wait until the season-opener in Bahrain on March 28th for Hamilton’s signature will raise more questions about their relationship and indeed the F1 star’s demands.
Sticking points could include Hamilton’s basic salary, image rights, bonuses and sponsorship and media days.
Some publications have guessed that Hamilton’s contract demands to include a share of the team’s prize money and a free limited edition Mercedes One hypercar – both are untrue according to the team.
However, it does raise serious questions as to how aligned the two parties are, despite Hamilton’s repeated claims where he expresses his loyalty to Mercedes.
Wolff however, has made it clear that he will not use George Russell’s position as a bargaining chip to get a better deal.
Russell was impressive when he filled in for COVID-struck Hamilton in the Sakhir GP and nearly won the race on his debut for the Silver Arrows.
Wolff added: “We never played the George Russell card. He did incredibly well and will one day be in a top car, but our long-standing partnership is not at all about making any threatening gestures.
“We know we want to race together. And now we have to negotiate the contract.”
Meanwhile, in the interview with Austrian TV station ORF, Wolff revealed that he too had been hit by COVID-19 and was forced to self-isolate for 10 days.
He said: “Out of nowhere I got a positive corona test. Now we’ve just been here for 10 days.
“But everything’s fine. No symptoms, thank God. It could have gone badly, but we’re out of quarantine.”
— This story originally appeared on thesun.co.uk and has been republished with permission
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