The private lunch to pitch Crown casino that James Packer and then-premier Barry O’Farrell failed to mention

Billionaire James Packer and then-NSW premier Barry O’Farrell failed to reveal a private lunch at influential broadcaster Alan Jones’s apartment as they became central players in the high-stakes battle to build Crown Sydney.

Now Sydney’s tallest building, the tower opened last year on land that was meant for a public park, but its gaming rooms remain closed after an inquiry deemed Crown unfit to hold a casino licence in NSW over money laundering and criminal links.

It was the lunch hosted by Jones in 2012 that paved the way for the $2 billion casino development on the prized edge of Sydney Harbour. The lunch meeting didn’t become public for years.

A Four Corners investigation has found that both gambling tycoon James Packer and then-NSW premier Barry O’Farrell failed to disclose the lunch when asked about their meetings.

In February 2012, Mr Packer and Mr O’Farrell were brought together by Mr Jones inside his luxuriously appointed apartment in the building known as “The Toaster”, which boasts uninterrupted views of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Mr Packer had asked Jones to set up the meeting.

“He said he’d like to meet Barry O’Farrell, that was my recollection,” Mr Jones said. “So, I just invited the premier to lunch and we had lunch here and they met and away it went.”

Mr Jones said the catalyst for the meeting was that Mr Packer “had this vision for Sydney” — a luxury hotel, to be financially underpinned by a casino.

It was all to be housed in a new skyscraper at the prestigious waterfront development site Barangaroo, which was in the process of being transformed from a shipping container port into Sydney’s flash new financial centre.

“He said he wanted something that would be a destination. And he said, ‘Look, everyone knows the Opera House. Everyone knows the Harbour Bridge [but] we’ve got to do more than that’,” Mr Jones recalled Mr Packer telling him at the time.

Mr Jones said it was an “unpretentious” lunch between the billionaire and the premier over some “pies and mash”.

Mr Jones told Four Corners the proposition Mr Packer put to the NSW premier was in “general” terms but was about building a hotel and VIP casino at Barangaroo.

“In a very vague and general way … But he’s always drawing things, so he had some diagrams and whatever, and showed Barry.”

“Barry O’Farrell, as I remember, quite rightly indicated … everything’s got to go through about 155,000 regulatory bodies so, Barry made the point that it wouldn’t be all that easy, but he embraced the vision, if I could use that cliched word.”

Mr Packer’s pitch was for a “passport casino” aimed at wealthy international gamblers.

“He [Mr Packer] was concerned with the public perception that these things might have been a hive of gambling, and that would diminish the capacity of the ordinary battler to keep his money in his pocket,” Mr Jones said.

“So there would only be people who are overseas people who’d come to the destination, who would use the casino.”

“That also appealed to Barry O’Farrell. Barry was impressed by this, as the new premier and so on, that he was someone who was wanting to do something and I guess, sort of leave a legacy in a way.”

Mr Jones said the lunch ended with “no guarantees” but he had the impression that Mr O’Farrell was “open to the idea”.

In a little over an hour, the stage was set for a future deal.

Later in February, an artist’s impression of what Mr Packer had in mind appeared in The Daily Telegraph, which ran it under the headline: “The Jewel in Packer’s Crown”.

Almost immediately, Mr O’Farrell signalled his approval, declaring the idea, “could add life to Barangaroo — not only a world-class hotel, but extra jobs and a boost to tourism”.

The following week, Mr Jones was on air as usual, helming his influential radio program on 2GB with Mr Packer as his guest.

Mr Packer either forgot or failed to mention the lunch he’d had with Mr O’Farrell to discuss his plans just weeks earlier.

Mr Packer did not respond to questions from Four Corners.

At the time, media interest in the proposal was at fever pitch. Mr Packer and Mr O’Farrell met at NSW Parliament House later that week to discuss the idea.

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How to be proactive and pitch your news directly to the media –Part 2

Why are some brands and businesses always in the news? Why are some people constantly quoted? How can you use the media to build the profile of your business?

Many of the news stories you read, watch and hear were pitched by an individual or business (or a PR agent) directly to an editor or journalist.

You can pitch your stories to the media, too. However, as news outlets receive oodles of pitches every day, you need to know how to make a winning pitch.

I asked PR practitioners and working journalists to join with me in each sharing one tip on how to successfully pitch a story to the media.

If your business has news to share, or you have something newsworthy to say, you’ll appreciate this practical advice. You can read more great tips in Part 1 of this article.

Avoid unintelligible jargon

Leo D’Angelo Fisher, Freelance Journalist

Businesses pitching a story make the mistake of thinking it’s only about them rather than considering the story from the perspective of the journalist and the journalist’s readers. They focus their pitch on positioning themselves as “global”, “leading”, “passionate”, “unique”, the “first” and the “only” before they even get to the story idea. And often there’s a lot of unintelligible jargon and buzz phrases that might sound impressive to them but only prompt journalists to press ‘delete’.

Journalists are only interested in what businesses have done or have to say that will be of interest to readers. A pitch should get to the point, be presented in plain English and be genuinely topical and informative. Before pitching a story idea, ask yourself, ‘What will readers get out of this story? Am I making a worthwhile contribution to this issue or topic? Is this a story I would want to read myself?’

Have something to say

Adrian Thirsk, Senior Consultant, P&L Corporate Communications

You would be surprised at how many firms believe they can magically appear in print just because they want to. Some think that being who they are or doing what they do is sufficient for a journalist to take an avid interest. It is not. The media want stories, yes, but not just any stories. A story needs to have appeal, relevance, importance to, or impact on, the widest possible readership or audience. Over the years of a career, a journalist hones what is referred to as a “news sense”. It is what allows them to judge the extent to which a potential story meets those criteria. The successful pitch to a journalist will tap into that need for a compelling angle or news hook. Hook your own key messages to that and you have given yourself the best chance of successful media coverage.

Perseverance pays

Paul McKeon, Group Account Director, Mave

I love media relations. But no matter how good you are at it, you must be comfortable accepting rejection. Even the entertainment reporter for Horse & Hound would receive a steady stream of releases and pitches each day. That any editor or journalist takes the time to reply with a ’thanks but no’ is a small miracle. You might be lucky to get a positive response to one in ten of your emails.

One of the pet hates of most reporters is PR people calling up to say, “did you get my press release?”. But that doesn’t mean you should assume it is job done once you’ve pressed send on your first approach.

The sheer number of emails journalists receive means that sometimes good opportunities get missed. I have a rule of three: I follow-up three times using three different methods. If I’ve not heard back after the third, I cut my losses and move on.

Add value with visual assets

Jacqueline (Jaci) Burns, Chief Marketing Officer, Market Expertise

Pre-COVID, news outlets world over were already tightening their belts in response to media fragmentation and diminishing ad revenue. The pandemic has accelerated and further amplified the cost cutting.

Consequently, many news outlets and publishers run on tight budgets. Small, niche and industry publications tend to have particularly limited resources.

Everyone’s trying to do more with less.

When you make a pitch, let the editor or journalist know if you’re able to provide visuals to accompany the story. This might include high resolution headshots, location photos, illustrations, maps, infographics, charts, and even videos.

Visuals not only aid comprehension and the retention of information, they also dramatically boost readership and engagement.

fast pitch

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White-hot housing market has Merseyside suburb at fever pitch

Prices in Wallasey, on the Wirral, are soaring in a nationwide boom fuelled by the stamp duty holiday, but will it last?

Homebuyers are scrambling for houses in Britain’s latest property hotspot – on the tip of the Wirral peninsula.

The Merseyside town of Wallasey has over the past year recorded a bigger rise in asking prices than any town or city in Britain, according to the listings site Rightmove. And it’s family homes with gardens – a popular choice during lockdown – that have become must-have assets.

Continue reading…

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Rugby Australia’s private equity pitch to state powerbrokers

Rugby Australia chair Hamish McLennan will on Thursday walk into a meeting with rugby’s most influential powerbrokers and pitch the case for the game’s governing body to sell a significant stake to private equity.

McLennan, RA chief executive Andy Marinos and the chair and chief executives of each state member union will spend Thursday and Friday discussing the biggest issues facing the game.

Rugby Australia boss Hamish McLennan.

Rugby Australia boss Hamish McLennan.Credit:Edwina Pickles

At the top of the list will be the proposed sale of a 10 to 15 per cent share of the game’s commercial rights to private equity, raising a sum worth close to the $387 million New Zealand Rugby generated through their deal with Silver Lake.

McLennan has admitted that in an ideal world, RA would not have to contemplate a private equity deal. But after recording a $27 million loss in the last financial year, the game has little choice.

However, that didn’t stop McLennan declaring the investment as having the potential to be “the best of all time”.

“We will debate the pros and cons of the private equity process and have a high-level discussion around percentages and potential returns and get their much valued input on what is right for the game,” McLennan said.

“Most in the know understand that we need external investment. It’s important to note that the decks are pretty well cleared – notwithstanding another COVID shock. We think it’s all upside from here. This could be the best investment of all time, as the game rocks on.”

McLennan and RA have mapped the game’s finances out to 2025. They will take advice from the states in the two day conference before deciding exactly how much they are chasing from private equity firms.

While the states will have a significant say, sources with knowledge of the package that will be offered to private equity firms told the Herald the tender documents are likely to include a range of options, including stakes worth 10 and 15 percent.

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How to be proactive and pitch your news directly to the media –Part 1

For many, the media is a thing of mystery. Why are some brands and businesses always in the news? Why are some people constantly quoted? Where do news outlets get their stories?

Some people wrongly assume huge sums of money are exchanged every time something appears in the press. Certainly, some content could be paid placement (it should be marked in small print as “Advertisement” or “Sponsored Content”) but otherwise, editorial is independent of advertising.

So how does it work? News outlets and publishers get their stories from a multitude of places. Investigative reporters dig up stories. Editors brief their staff to follow breaking news. And individuals and businesses, directly and via their PR agents, pitch their ideas to the press. In fact, 2020 research by US creative agency Fractl found 57 per cent of top-tier publishers receive between 50 and 500 pitches per week.

I asked PR practitioners and working journalists to join with me in sharing one tip each on how to successfully pitch a story to the media.

Help freelancers help you

Nina Hendy, Freelance Business and Finance

journalists are a completely different beast to in-house journalists, which can
very much be to your advantage. Freelancers are self-employed, and the time
they spend wading through their inbox is time they could be spending earning
money, so you’ve got to make it worthwhile.

want to be offering unique, exclusive content to their editors. Take a look at
some of a freelancer’s previous work and understand who they write for and what
they like to cover.

A pitch isn’t “look at me, write about me” but rather “have you noticed this new trend, it doesn’t seem to have been covered, here’s my thoughts as one of the people you’d interview for it, you should write a story on it”. That sort of pitch takes time but will definitely fly.

Be realistic

Beverley Head, Freelance Writer and

Write the headline and first paragraph of the story you are hoping might appear, then ask yourself – is that realistic? Would this journalist write that? Would this publication/website/program really be keen to publish or broadcast that? If you honestly believe that “yes, they would” – then go ahead and pitch. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.

Make your media pitch publish-ready

Andrew Birmingham, Editor-in-Chief
and Associate Publisher, Which-50

The more publish-ready a media pitch is, the more likely it is to get run. Pitches that are full of jargon, adjectives, adverbs (or worse trademark symbols!), and full of the kind of technical details beloved by your staff but by no one else, are just too much hard work. 

For any pitch, apply the old news rule of thumb: make the first sentence the first most important point, the second sentence the second most important point, and the third sentence the third most important point, and you have done half their work for them. Bullet points with key issues are also good.

Know the audience

Nicole Schulz, Group Practice Lead,
Sefiani Communications Group

Your focus must be on the audience first and what they would want to know. The goal is to find that perfect intersection between what you want to say as a business and what the audience may want to hear from you, to create an interesting media angle. The journalist or producer you are pitching to will need to quickly understand how the story is providing value to their audience and delivering something new.

Do your research on the media outlet and
the specific journalist you are speaking to. Develop a strong understanding of
the types of stories they cover and tailor your pitch specifically for them and
their audience.

Jacqueline (Jaci) Burns, Chief Marketing Officer, Market Expertise

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Texas governor nixes first pitch at Rangers opener over ASG move

FILE PHOTO: Sep 24, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; A view of the stands and the open roof during the game between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros at Globe Life Field. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

April 6, 2021

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he will not throw out the first pitch at the Rangers’ home opener in protest over Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta.

Abbott made the announcement on Monday, hours before he was scheduled for the honorary first toss at Globe Life Field ahead of the Rangers’ 4:05 p.m. ET opener vs. the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I was looking forward to throwing out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opening game until @MLB adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about Georgia’s election law reforms. It is shameful that America’s pastime is being influenced by partisan politics,” read the letter tweeted out by Abbott, a Republican.

Abbott addressed the letter to Rangers COO Neil Leibman.

Further, Abbott said he will not “participate in any event held by MLB” and that Texas would not seek to host the All-Star Game.

Abbott made it clear his decision did “not diminish the deep respect I have for the Texas Rangers baseball organization.”

MLB announced Friday that it is moving the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to a new Georgia law that could impact voting access rights. The All-Star Game was scheduled for July 13 at Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves said they were “deeply disappointed” about the decision to move the game from Atlanta.

“This was neither our decision, nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city,” the team said in a statement.

–Field Level Media

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Marshall’s secret Formula: E-racing pitch kept under wraps

The Marshall Government has refused to release any correspondence or briefing documents relating to a bid to bring Formula E racing to Adelaide – despite ruling out such an event taking place.

It comes as crossbench senator Rex Patrick raises concerns about troubling secrecy from the state government, which has similarly refused to hand over documents on several other matters, including keeping a report into the viability of water supplies to Coober Pedy residents under wraps.

Several Freedom of Information requests submitted by Patrick in recent weeks have been knocked back by state government agencies – with the senator pursuing avenues of appeal through the Ombudsman and the SA Civil and Administrative Tribunal [SACAT].

Patrick has sought access to correspondence or briefing documents related to a campaign to get the international, electric-car motorsport Formula E series into Adelaide – potentially as a ready-made replacement for the Superloop Adelaide 500 supercars event that the Marshall Government canned last year.

At the time, Premier Steven Marshall revealed that the Government and Adelaide City Council had invested in preparing a business case for Formula E, but declared Adelaide’s streetcar circuit was “very unlikely” to be revived in any form.

“The future of a streetcar racing funded by the taxpayers of South Australia in this COVID environment is completely unviable,” he said.

“I haven’t seen the business case but I think it’s going to fall into a pretty similar category to what we’re talking about [with the supercars], because… the very high infrastructure costs associated with establishing a street circuit and the very significantly diminished number of people that can attend make these types of events very difficult at this time.”

Nonetheless, discussions between the event’s proponents and the Government are being closely guarded, with Patrick “refused access in full to all documents relevant” to his application under Freedom of Information laws.

A Government spokesperson today reiterated that the event was a no-go, telling InDaily: “Together with the City of Adelaide, the SATC has investigated the feasibility of bringing Formula E to Adelaide [and] it has been determined it is not financially viable to bring the event to Adelaide at present.”

But details of the business case remain confidential.

A letter sent to Patrick late last month by new Premier’s Department boss Nick Reade, in his capacity as the agency’s Principal FOI Officer, said two documents matching his request criteria “consist of information that has a commercial value to the South Australian Tourism Commission, as well as consisting of its business, commercial and financial affairs”.

“If disclosed, the value of that information would erode SATC’s competitiveness in carrying on these activities, both in these and future arrangements with other parties,” he said.

“The SATC operates in a highly competitive tourism market. The ability to undertake confidential negotiations with organisations to secure events aimed at growing awareness of and visitation to South Australia is one of the ways the SATC is able to maximise its competitiveness.”

He said SA “competes against other states, territories, nations and private sector organisations to bring events and attractions”, which were “strategically targeted and bid for based on a calculated return on investment”.

“The goal is almost always to derive a return on investment for the state of South Australia,” he said.

“It is therefore crucial [that] when the SATC explores commercial arrangements with third parties it can be relied upon to keep commercially-sensitive information confidential, as well as maintaining the confidentiality of its own negotiating position.

“Sporting bodies and major event organisers in general do not expect their commercially and financially sensitive information to be disclosed to the public.”

Despite the Government effectively ruling out the Formula E street-race, Reade said there was “a confidentiality clause in operation between the two parties concerned and I am of the view that disclosure of this information would found an action for breach of that confidence”.

“If the SATC cannot guarantee confidentiality, it is reasonable to expect the national and international bodies and corporations may be reluctant to deal with the SATC in future projects,” he said.

“This would seriously diminish the SATC’s ability to secure new events that deliver strong economic and job outcomes for South Australians.”

Reade insisted that “should this information be released, the SATC would suffer commercial loss that would hinder its ability to negotiate similar agreements in the future”.

That’s despite Marshall effectively ruling out similar future agreements when he declared the Adelaide 500 finished.

Patrick told InDaily: “When the Government has reportedly decided not to back a Formula E event, it’s pretty disingenuous of them to then suggest that releasing the study will give other states a competitive advantage over SA.”

“It seems to me that the Premier and the Commission have plenty of courage to say, ‘no, it doesn’t stack up’, but then seem to exhibit cowardliness when it comes to explaining how it arrived at such a conclusion,” he said.

A similar submission by Patrick to the SATC was likewise shot down, with the senator now preparing to appeal the decision to the state ombudsman.

“The SATC has a statutory obligation to identify tourism opportunities for the state, including opportunities for events such as Formula E – as such, South Australians have a right to scrutinise and check the Commission’s findings in relation to feasibility of such an event,” he said.

“The feasibility study is likely to explore very SA-specific aspects of holding a Formula E race [such as] identifying locations for holding the event, gauging public support for the event, determining whether there are infrastructure, technical or logistical barriers to running the race and establishing whether the business case stacks up.

“These are things that cannot properly be held from the South Australian public.”

A spokesperson for Marshall today insisted: “This Government is committed to transparency.”

“In fact, the Government currently has stronger FOI legislation before the Parliament,” they said.

“Ccommercially sensitive information however is not released, as is normal practice.”

They said the SATC “continues to explore events which attract visitors to Adelaide and support our local economy, while at the same time ensuring return on investment”.

Patrick is challenging a range of other knock-backs by the Government on issues he insists are in the public interest – including a government-commissioned report by SA Water into the viability of and potential solutions for water supply at Coober Pedy.

The outback town’s council runs its own treatment plant, with residents paying three times the price Adelaide consumers pay for the essential service.

Local Government minister Vickie Chapman told the ABC last year subsidising the regional hub might not be viable.

But the Government has refused to release the SA Water report under FOI, with Patrick pursuing the ruling through SACAT.

“This report was commissioned to establish the state of Coober Pedy’s water infrastructure… it was paid for from the public purse and is ultimately for public purpose,” he said.

“There can be no reasonable argument for the state to withhold this report from the people of Coober Pedy.

“We are not talking about missile release codes or submarine blueprints – this is simply about the water works of an SA township.”

Patrick argued the Government’s responses to FOI requests made a mockery of the Liberals’ claim to open and transparent government, saying “these battles should not be necessary”.

“The public are entitled to enquire into what the Government is doing and participate in debate and discussion as they see fit,” he said.

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Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to donate to InDaily.

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Cricket 2021, India vs England, third Test score: Kevin Pietersen defends Ahmedabad pitch, wicket

A whopping 17 wickets fell in just over two sessions on day two as India was dismissed for 145, rolled England for 81, and then chased down 49 to win.

One ball turned, the next did not — and England was left utterly powerless to tame the unpredictable conditions in a contest that was entertaining but, ultimately, a bad look for Test cricket long-term.

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17-wickets fall within 59 overs!


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SCG pitch, rain, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, cricket news 2021, Shane Warne criticism

The New Year’s Test was Australia’s to lose leading into day five.

The hosts needed eight wickets in 97 overs to take a 2-1 series lead against India — several pundits predicting the match would be over before the tea break.

But Australia could only muster three scalps on Monday, with the bruised and battered tourists clinging onto an unlikely draw.

The Indians blocked, ducked and prodded for a whole day, with the wounded Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin surviving 42.4 overs to guide the depleted side to stumps.

One more wicket would have exposed India’s brittle tail, which featured three players with a Test batting average below seven and a one-handed Ravindra Jadeja, who suffered a fractured thumb while batting in the first innings.

So how did Australia manage to botch what many believed would be a comfortable Test victory?

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Firstly, dropped catches were once again a prevalent issue for Tim Paine’s men on Monday, and the biggest culprit was the skipper himself.

Paine put down two chances off Nathan Lyon’s bowling in the morning session, before spilling another opportunity late in the day’s play.

The Tasmanian gloveman gifted Rishabh Pant two extra lives at the crease, and the young wicketkeeper went on to compile a critical 97 off 118 balls.

“I’m bitterly disappointed, I pride myself on my wicketkeeping,” Paine told reporters on Monday evening.

“Haven’t had too many worse days than that today, it’s a horrible feeling knowing our fast bowlers and our spinner bowled their hearts out and gave everything to do the team.

“I certainly feel I let them down. I have to wear that, but I’ll get another crack at it next week so move on.”

Substitute fielder Sean Abbott also dropped a tough chance at square leg in the evening session, with Ashwin the fortunate batsman on this occasion.

The SCG deck also offered little assistance to Australia’s talented bowling attack. Pitches typically deteriorate as the match progresses, leaving an assortment of gremlins for bowlers to exploit on the final day.

But Monday’s surface looked more akin to a day three pitch, with last week’s rain potentially contributing to the slow decay.

Even when the second new ball was taken on day five, there was little to no movement through the air or off the pitch.

Despite the batting-friendly conditions, Australia’s bowlers were undeniably below their best in the second innings, specifically Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc.

Lyon sent down 77 overs in the SCG Test, finishing with match figures of 2/201.

The lack of left-handed batsmen in India’s starting XI exposed the tweaker’s biggest flaw — as revealed by CricViz in September 2018, Lyon averages 23.58 against lefties and 37.24 against right-handers in the Test arena.

English cricket journalist Jack Mendel tweeted: “Nathan Lyon was made to look incredibly average and easy to play … at no point did he look like winning Aus the Test by ripping through the Indian order.”

Test great Shane Warne also questioned the field placements off Lyon’s bowling on the final day, implying the Australians became too defensive when Pant went on the attack.

“I think Australia are panicking,” Warne said on Fox Cricket. “I can’t believe some of the fields I’m seeing from Nathan Lyon the last over before lunch — five men on the fence. Why aren’t we bringing these people up?

“I’m a little surprised by Australia’s tactics.

“How can Nathan Lyon bowl to Rishabh Pant the last over before lunch and have five men on the fence? That’s terrible tactics.

“That showed me Australia were worried.”

Meanwhile, Starc’s bowling was inaccurate and ineffective for most of the second innings, so much so that Paine denied him the opportunity to bowl with the second new ball, handing the responsibility over to Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

Veteran cricket journalist Robert Craddock penned: “Starc’s radar is scrambling to the point where he is bowling far too many leg-side balls.”

The left-armer did have two catches dropped off his bowling in the evening session, and his final burst with the Kookaburra on Monday was fierce and well-directed.

But considering he’s developed a reputation as someone who can easily clean up the tail, he’ll be bitterly disappointed to finish with match figures of 1/127.

READ MORE: ‘Classless’ Paine owns up

Newcastle Herald journalist Xavier Mardling posted: “Starc doesn’t look like he’d get a wicket at Melbourne Country Week the way he’s bowling. Trash.”

Ultimately, India was too good when it mattered most, with its batsmen overcoming immense adversity to pull off the greatest escape at the SCG in more than 50 years.

Australia was simply unable to claim 10 wickets in 131 overs, which was perceived as more than enough time when Paine declared on Sunday afternoon.

However, sporadic rain and low over rates resulted in 425 of a possible 444 overs being played in the New Year’s Test. Would those 19 overs have made a difference to the final outcome?

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Newport boss warns Brighton over “awful” FA Cup pitch 24 hours after rugby match

Newport boss Mike Flynn has warned Premier League Brighton to prepare for an “awful” pitch tonight.

The County chief even revealed he has banned his League Two players from back-passes as it is so uneven.

Newport’s Rodney Parade ground hosted a rugby match on Saturday night when Dragons lost to Ospreys in a Guinness PRO14 Welsh derby clash.

It was just over 24 hours before Newport’s televised FA Cup third round tie with Graham Potter’s Seagulls.

The hosts have got a heated dome on the pitch to protect it from the frost but Flynn still admits the visitors will be in for a rude awakening.

Flynn,40, said: “It will be bobbly especially because of the game on Saturday.

Brighton’s Ben White thrived on loan at Newport in the past and returns today

“It could be awful – it depends how cut up the pitch gets.

“But the groundstaff have worked exceptionally hard and will try and have it flat.

“But any back-pass to the goalkeeper – keep it out of the width of our goal.

“Brighton’s pitch is not bad so I hope this is an eye-opener to them.

“I hope they walk through the gates of Rodney Parade and think they can’t wait to get out.

“We have to use things to our advantage.”

Newport are riding high in second in League Two after a very promising start to the season.

They also boast an impressive pedigree in the FA Cup after previously knocking out Leicester and Middlesbrough in 2019 and Leeds in 2018 at home before losing away at Spurs in a replay.

Newport nearly knocked out Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino previously

Flynn, in charge since 2017, admits the financial boost from those heroics has helped keep the Welsh club alive.

“I think we would be struggling to still be here if it wasn’t for the FA Cup,” he said.

“It has kept the club going, it is as simple as that.

“We were heavily in debt, close to £700,000, and it wasn’t until the following season when we have played Tottenham and Leeds that we were able to clear those debts.

“Since then we have been able to put money in the bank and build on it.

“It is something I will always be proud of.

“The FA Cup has been our saving grace and is part of the reason why it is the best competition in the world.

“I loved watching it growing up and will continue watching until the day I pop my clogs.”

Sunday’s game sees the return of Brighton’s highly-rated star Ben White,23, who caught the eye on loan at County in 2017/18 when he played 51 games.

Flynn said: “He is the best loan the club have ever had.

“He will go on to play for England.

“He is an exceptional lad and I look forward to seeing him if he comes down.

“When you have a young professional with the attitude and ability he has, then sky is the limit.”

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