Australia, India left frustrated as rain ends day two early in fourth Test at Gabba in Brisbane


On Friday, India’s Shardul Thakur took a wicket with his first delivery of the Brisbane Test. On Saturday, Pat Cummins did it with his second. Nathan Lyon, backed by a roaring crowd in his 100th Test, waited only 17 deliveries to take the 397th of his career.

In the morning session, India took three in the space of 14 deliveries to fight its way back into the contest. Its bowling attack in this match is the least-experienced Australia has faced in a home Test in 140 years: 11 Test wickets between five of them before this game.

With better catching from their colleagues on day one, they might have taken 10 in a day.

Cameron Green, on the other hand, is four Tests and 216 deliveries into his Test bowling career and hasn’t managed a single breakthrough. It is one of the more curious aspects of a series mostly shaped by bowlers, to many of whom Green compares favourably.

The 21-year-old has height, pace, prodigious outswing and great consistency of line and length. But no wickets.

We take it for granted watching a series like this day in, day out, but bowling a cricket ball at 135 kilometres per hour is a tremendous physical feat. Few cricketers in recent memory have made it look so simple as Green, who ambles in and eases through a relaxed, simple delivery stride.

To bowl at a similar speed, the short and dumpy Shardul requires the exertion of a strongman pulling a bus.

Green’s lavish talents and imposing physique come with a predictable vulnerability: stress fractures in his back forced the remodelling of his bowling action and the careful limitation of his output. So, he bowls within himself. Coaches and selectors are wary of the two-point plan of his childhood: bat like Ricky Ponting, bowl like Brett Lee. Only one has the potential to cancel out both.

The closest recent parallel is with Shane Watson, with whom Green’s early Sheffield Shield career bears a close resemblance: teenage sensations taking bags of wickets and batting with maturity beyond their years. Green debuted for Western Australia as a 17-year-old and destroyed Tasmania with seven wickets. As per Watson, when the injuries began, his batting took centre stage.

Green has since learned that patience and an even temperament are the bedrock of an all-rounder’s game. When the wickets don’t come, runs inevitably will, and vice versa. In the morning session on Saturday, he moved gracefully through the gears as he had in the sparkling 84 he made in Sydney.

Cameron Green plays a shot towards the cover region against India.
Cameron Green fell short of a second consecutive Test half-century.(AAP: Darren England)

From the assured 28 he’d made by stumps on day one, he moved to 47 with a pair of dreamy straight drives off the bowling of Thangarasu Natarajan — weight transferred perfectly to the front foot, head dead still and over the ball, full face of the bat making sublime and late contact, ball thudding into the fence a second later.

With the ball, he will eventually have similar moments.

Patience was certainly a virtue for players and fans alike on Saturday at the Gabba, with rain destroying a large chunk of the afternoon session, reducing the sum total of play to the slap-happy end of Australia’s first innings of 369 and the jittery beginning to India’s reply.

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The downtime prompted certain niche analyses that are the only benefit of Test cricket’s endless delays. One: why, despite overwhelming evidence that Mitchell Starc is a better batsman, does Australia persist with Pat Cummins at number eight?

This tactical error is now particularly glaring in a team whose scoring load is carried by too few. It is downright bizarre in a line-up containing a settled rookie number six in Green and an ascendant number seven in Tim Paine, both of whom could accompany clean-hitting Starc through the sort of momentum-shifting partnerships that have been the bane of many touring teams in the last decade.

On Saturday, Cummins departed quickly, another misfire in an unimpressive recent run. Starc’s crisp and undefeated 20 in the aftermath only underlined the dilemma he faces: by the time he comes in, hitting out is basically the only option and he soon runs out of partners: not backed to forge partnerships with the middle-order batsmen, he seems uninterested in applying himself to much more.

For a batsman with 10 Test half-centuries to his name, it seems a waste. And in a Test series that might go down to the wire over the next three days in Brisbane, it is a rare problem with an obvious solution.

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Australia vs India LIVE updates: Cummins strikes early in Indian innings



After Australia were all out for 369, it was the world’s best bowler that delivered the early breakthrough the home side were after.

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ASX ends up as early guidance arrives



A mid-session turnaround has helped the ASX close slightly higher, while Premier Investments’ substantial earnings guidance upgrade gave cause for optimism.

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Australia v India third Test LIVE updates: Pujara, Pant dig in after early Lyon breakthrough



Nathan Lyon claimed the crucial early wicket of Ajinkjya Rahane but it’s been all India since. Australia still need seven wickets to win.

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Australia v India third Test LIVE updates: Lyon makes early breakthrough with Rahane wicket



Australia have struck early on the final day at the SCG with spinner Nathan Lyon removing Ajinkya Rahane in his first over.

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Police officer killed in U.S. Capitol riot wanted to be in law enforcement from an early age


From his early days growing up in a New Jersey hamlet, Brian Sicknick wanted to be a police officer.

He enlisted in the U.S. National Guard six months after graduating high school in 1997, deploying to Saudi Arabia and then Kyrgyzstan. Joining the Guard was his means to joining law enforcement, his family said.

He would join the U.S. Capitol Police in 2008, serving until his death Thursday after being attacked as rioters seething over President Donald Trump’s election loss stormed the U.S. Capitol, believing the president’s false claims of a rigged election.

“His brother told me, ‘Brian did his job,”‘ said John Krenzel, the mayor of Sicknick’s hometown of South River, N.J.

Sicknick’s death has shaken the U.S. as it grapples with how an armed mob could storm the halls of the U.S. Capitol as the presidential election results were being certified, sending hundreds of lawmakers, staff and journalists fleeing for safety. Videos published online show vastly outnumbered Capitol Police officers trying in vain to stop surging rioters, though other videos show officers not moving to stop rioters in the building.

A native of South River, N.J., Sicknick served in the New Jersey Air National Guard and went on to a law enforcement career, which his family said was his lifelong dream. (U.S. Capitol Police via The Associated Press)

Police leadership badly miscalculated the threat despite weeks of signals that Wednesday could get violent. And they refused Pentagon help three days before the riot, and again as the mob descended. Under withering criticism, the police chief resigned as have the chief security officers for both the U.S. House and Senate.

The Capitol Police said in a statement that Sicknick was injured “while physically engaging with protesters.” During the struggle, Sicknick, 42, was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, two law enforcement officials said. The officials could not discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Sicknick was the youngest of three boys growing up in South River, a small borough of about 16,000 people in central New Jersey, about 25 kilometres from Staten Island. He graduated from the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School in East Brunswick, N.J., in June 1997.

Superintendent Dianne Veilleux said school records show Sicknick wanted to be in law enforcement. The school will honour him by planting an oak tree on campus to symbolize his strength.

He enlisted in the New Jersey Air National Guard that December, still a teenager, first deploying to Saudi Arabia in 1999. In 2003, he deployed to Kyrgyzstan, where the U.S. military operated a transit base supporting the war in Afghanistan. He was honourably discharged in December of that year.

Vocal critic of U.S. war in Iraq

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Sicknick became a vocal critic of the war, writing several letters to the editor of the local newspaper that sharply criticized former president George W. Bush for his management of the effort. In one July 2003 letter, published five months before his formal discharge, he said that “our troops are stretched very thin, and morale is dangerously low among them.”

In a statement issued Friday, Sicknick’s family said he “wanted to be a police officer his entire life” and had joined the Guard “as a means to that end.”

A biography issued by his family says Sicknick cared for rescued Dachshunds in his spare time and rooted for the New Jersey Devils. He is survived by his parents, Charles and Gladys Sicknick, his brothers Ken and Craig, and his longtime girlfriend, Sandra Garza.

The family asked the public to respect its wishes “in not making Brian’s passing a political issue.”

“Brian is a hero and that is what we would like people to remember,” the family said.

The Capitol police chief has resigned amid questioning about how prepared the force was for a rally that turned into a riot on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. 2:27

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Australia vs India third Test LIVE updates: Rain stops play after Warner dismissed early



David Warner’s return to the Test arena lasted just over three overs. He’s been caught at first slip, leaving debutant Will Pucovski and Marnus Labuschagne at the crease.

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Australia vs India third Test LIVE updates: Warner out early as Pucovski makes debut



David Warner’s return to the Test arena lasted just over three overs. He’s been caught at first slip, leaving debutant Will Pucovski and Marnus Labuschagne at the crease.

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4 Questions The San Francisco 49ers Must Answer Early During NFL Offseason


The San Francisco 49ers just closed up shop on an injury-plagued and disappointing 2020 NFL season. Dealing with star players missing substantial action, San Francisco followed up a Super Bowl appearance by winning six games and finishing in last place in the NFC West.

This obviously isn’t the way head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch envisioned things going fresh off both receiving contract extensions.

Heading into what could very well be a franchise-altering NFL offseason, the 49ers now have a ton of questions to answer. A lot of these questions will be answered early in the offseason. Here’s a look at four of said questions.

Who Do The 49ers Replace Robert Saleh With As Defensive Coordinator?

Pretty much the hottest NFL head coach commodity of this cycle, it’s already a foregone conclusion that Saleh will move on from the 49ers this offseason. The Detroit Lions have been linked to him more than any other team. However, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers have also shown interest.

For good reason. Saleh, 41, has led a top-five total defense in San Francisco each of the past two seasons. However impressive his performance was with a fully-loaded unit last season, Saleh was even more impressive in 2020.

49ers Defensive Players Who Missed Games In 2020

* K’Waun Williams: 8 games

* Jaquiski Tartt: 9 games

* Richard Sherman: 11 games

* Nick Bosa: 14 games

* Solomon Thomas: 14 games

* Dee Ford: 15 games

We’re talking about three Pro Bowl performers and two other core starters. Even then, San Francisco yielded the fifth-fewest points in the NFL while recording 17 interceptions. Once Saleh does in fact move on, the 49ers will have to look for candidates to replace him.

San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator candidates

“I think Saleh will kill these interviews,” Shanahan told reporters Monday about the defensive coordinator. “I think he’ll do a great job.” That sounds like a head coach resigned to the fact that Saleh will be leaving the organization after four seasons.

Recently-fired former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn becomes the most-realistic option to replace Saleh with the 49ers. Shanahan worked under him as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016. The 50-year old Quinn was also an assistant in San Francisco from 2001-04, meaning he has a built-in relationship with the organization.

Another option becomes former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley, who served on Anthony Lynn’s coaching staff with the Los Angeles Chargers over the past four seasons and is currently out of a job after Lynn’s firing on Monday.

Bradley has led four top-10 defenses during his tenure as a coordinator and head coach. He worked with Saleh in Seattle and has the defensive play-calling abilities an offensive-minded Shanahan will seek out.

An up-and-comer of sorts, former Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans could very well be an internal option for the 49ers’ defensive coordinator position. Serving as San Francisco’s inside linebackers coach, Ryans has overseen the progression of Pro Bowler Fred Warner as well as youngster Dre Greenlaw. He might be a popular pick among 49ers players.

Will The San Francisco 49ers Release Dee Ford?

“When you’re dealing with that part of your body, sometimes these things take more time and I think Dee tries to say encouraged but I think it’s been a struggle for him and we try to stay encouraged as well but I can’t tell you with great absolute that yeah, he’s going to be ready,” general manager John Lynch told reporters about Ford’s back and neck injuries that limited him to one game (47 snaps) this season.

Ford, 29, remains an impactful player when on the football field. Unfortunately, he’s been injury-plagued since the 49ers acquired the former Pro Bowler from the Kansas City Chiefs ahead of the 2019 season, signing Ford to a huge contract in the process. The former first-round pick has recorded 6.5 sacks in 12 games with San Francisco.

Complicating things further is the fact that San Francisco can save a whopping $16 million against the 2021 NFL salary cap should the team release Ford with a post-June 1 designation. Given the uncertainty surrounding the NFL salary cap due to the revenue downfall brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s a whole heck of a lot of cash.

Sure the 49ers can go to Ford with the hopes that he agrees to a new deal that lowers his 2021 cap number. But relying on the injury-plagued EDGE rusher to remain healthy seems foolhardy.

A lot of this will also depend on options for the 49ers during NFL free agency. Veteran Kerry Hyder led the team with 18 quarterback hits and 8.5 sacks in 2020. He’s also set to his the open market. Could Hyder be a more cost-effective option opposite Nick Bosa moving forward? His market will dictate that.

Jimmy Garoppolo And The 49ers’ Quarterback Situation

This is, quite honestly, the $26.9 million question for these 49ers heading into the NFL offseason. Garoppolo, 29, was limited to six games this past season due to multiple high-ankle sprains. Suggestions are that Lynch and Co. are going to be on the look out for an upgrade to see if they can find a better option than the Super Bowl quarterback.

The backstory here is Garoppolo’s $26.9 million cap hit and the fact that San Francisco can save as much as $25.5 million by releasing or trading the embattled signal caller. Garoppolo talked to reporters about his possible future with the 49ers on Monday. In what can’t really be considered too much of a surprise, he wants to remain in Northern California.

“Yeah, this is where I want to be and I love it here,” the quarterback told reporters in a Zoom call.

This decision will not be left up to Garoppolo. Unlike previous offseasons, there’s going to be a ton of starter-caliber quarterbacks available, either via free agency or a trade.

49ers Options At Quarterback, Sans Jimmy Garoppolo

Detroit Lions Pro Bowler Matthew Stafford could move on from that team via trade when March comes calling. Detroit is coming off a last-place season and seems headed to a full-scale rebuild.

To a lesser extent, Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowler Matt Ryan could potentially be made available depending on the team’s new head coach and general manager situation. Obviously, there’s a fit here with Kyle Shanahan having overseen Ryan’s MVP season back in 2016. Whether the Falcons even contemplate trading Ryan remains to be seen.

Other options include recently-benched Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and young New York Jets former top-three pick Sam Darnold. With that said, it’s not yet known whether the 49ers would view either as an upgrade over Garoppolo. Stafford and Ryan almost certainly would be.

Of course, the 49ers could look to trade up in the 2021 NFL Draft for a quarterback of the present and future. However, that’s a story for much later in the offseason depending on how the early action goes in March.

What we do know is that Garoppolo has proven himself to be a winner since joining the 49ers midway through the 2017 season. He’s 22-8 as a starter for the team while all other quarterbacks have posted a 7-27 record during that very same span. The 49ers must weigh that with Garoppolo’s inability to progress to elite status under a quarterback guru in Shanahan.

How Can The 49ers Create More NFL Salary Cap Room?

Outside of potentially moving Garoppolo and releasing Ford, these 49ers have other avenues to pursue that could help create cap room. It’s going to be needed with Trent Williams and Jason Verrett slated to hit free agency and San Francisco in a less-than-stellar cap situation.

49ers general manager John Lynch told reporters on Monday that they are working under the guise that the 2021 NFL salary cap will be a mere $175 million due to the above-mentioned revenue downfall created by COVID-19. For Lynch and Co., it’s a hope for the best, plan for the worst approach. Taking into account that $175 million figure, the 49ers would currently be $16.4 million under the cap.

In addition to Williams and Verrett becoming free agents, it’s highly unlikely that Richard Sherman will be back. There’s also growing concern about the future of multi-time Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk in San Francisco. None of this even takes into account outside free agents the 49ers might want to add in order to help build up a roster that was ravaged by injury in 2020.

The good news? These 49ers can save another $10 million against the cap by releasing Weston Richburg and Mark Nzeocha. They also have the opportunity to free up a ton more in cap room should the brass opt to restructure the contracts of Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward and Laken Tomlinson in hopes that the 2020 revenue downfall doesn’t extend into next season.

If the 49ers were to move on from Garoppolo and Ford while making the moves mentioned above, they’d actually have a robust $80 million to spend under the cap with a tremendous amount of holes to fill on both sides of the ball. Chief among them, the quarterback position.

The new NFL league year is not slated to start until March. However, the 49ers’ offseason began in full earnest the minute they were eliminated from playoff contention. These are the four questions that must be answered in the short-term.

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Australian house prices could drop in early 2021 despite 3% rise over past year, analysts say | Australia news


House prices in Australia’s biggest cities could decline early in 2021 due to raised coronavirus restrictions for the latest infections affecting the eastern states.

Tim Lawless, the research director of property data group CoreLogic, said house prices would probably decline in the first couple of months as buyers become wary of the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

“It stands to reason that the latest coronavirus changes will dent consumer confidence and the housing market could be negatively impacted,” he said on Monday.

States and territories from December have prevented travellers, mostly those from New South Wales, entering following the Sydney virus outbreak that has spawned more than 100 infections.

NSW last week followed Victoria’s lead in mandating masks be worn for indoor settings in most parts of the state.

Lawless said consumer confidence indices usually dipped following heightened measures.

“We can see when consumer sentiment falls, we see a similar fall in transactional activity,” he said.

“Buying a property is a high-commitment decision and you want to be confident about your household finances, your job and the ability to get a mortgage.”

Australia’s housing market increased in value in 2020, despite the drag on activity caused by the outbreak of coronavirus.

The national home value index rose 3% over the year to a median price of $574,872, according to CoreLogic.

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Values in regional areas led the way with a 6.9% increase for a combined median of $420,502, compared to 2% for major capital cities for a combined median of $651,983.

Melbourne was the only capital city to finish the year in negative territory – albeit on a relatively healthy median price of $682,197 – after battling two waves of Covid outbreaks.

The most expensive city was Sydney, with a median value of $871,749, and the cheapest was Darwin at $416,183.

Lawless said record low borrowing rates supported the market in 2020, along with a “spectacular” rise in consumer confidence.

Confidence was buoyed in the latter months of the year as Covid-related restrictions and border constraints began to be lifted.

“Containing the spread of the virus has been critical to Australia’s economic and housing market resilience,” Lawless said.

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