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Will Pucovski ruled out of final Australia vs India Test, Marcus Harris to open


Australia opener Will Pucovski will miss the fourth Test against India at the Gabba due to a shoulder injury.

Pucovski suffered a shoulder subluxation injury while diving in the field on day five of the third Test at the SCG.

Marcus Harris will come into the side and partner David Warner who has been deemed fit despite appearing to struggle with a groin injury in Sydney at the top of the order.

There were no other changes to the side that drew the third Test in Sydney on Monday.

Australian skipper Tim Paine confirmed the change after the team’s final training session on Thursday morning.

“Will won’t play tomorrow,” Paine said.

“Marcus Harris will replace him … We’re looking forward to seeing what he will do.”

Two Victorian batters walk off the field smiling during a Sheffield Shield match against South Australia.
Marcus Harris (right) will replace his Victoria teammate Will Pucovski in the Test side.(AAP: James Elsby)

Harris has not played a Test since the 2019 Ashes Tour, where he made a top score of 19 in three matches.

The 28-year-old West Australian has a top score of 79 from nine Test matches, with a first-class average of 38.86 and a top score of 250.

“[Harris has] been working his backside off in our hub,” Paine said.

“He deserves his opportunity.

“He’s a really relaxed type of character, so he’s one we certainly enjoy having him in and around our group.”

Pucovski made scores of 62 and 10 in his maiden Test match, with Paine saying the medical staff needed more time to get him right for the Test than was afforded under the three-day turnaround.

“He’ll have a bit of work to do with our medicos to see where he goes from here.”

The Border-Gavaskar Test series is tantalisingly poised at 1-1, with the final and deciding Gabba Test set to start on Friday.



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Joe Burns axed from Test squad as David Warner, Marcus Harris and Will Pucovski named in 18-man group


Struggling Test opener Joe Burns has been left out of the squad for the remaining two games of the series against India.

Long-time opener David Warner is expected to fill one of the spots at the top of the order in his return from a groin injury, while fellow openers Marcus Harris and Will Pucovski have also been included in the 18-man squad for the Tests in Sydney and Brisbane.

“David has made strong progress in his recovery from injury and will be given every chance to play in Sydney with another seven days until the match,” selector Trevor Hohns said.

Burns was the only member of the team who played the first two Tests in Adelaide and Melbourne to miss out on selection in the squad for the rest of the series.

He had struggled in Sheffield Shield cricket leading into the Test series and had scores of 8, 0 and 4 in three of the four innings through the first two Tests.

He did score an unbeaten half-century as Australia chased down 90 to win the first Test, but it was not enough to save the out-of-form Queenslander.

An Australian cricketer kneels with his head on the grass after injuring himself while fielding.
Warner injured his groin while fielding in the ODI series last month.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

“Unfortunately, Joe’s returns haven’t been what he or the selectors would like or what we consider he is capable of,” Hohns said.

Warner, Pucovski and all-rounder Sean Abbott, coming off a calf strain, will rejoin the squad in Melbourne on Thursday.

Spectacular Shield form had put Pucovski in the frame to make his debut as an opener in the first Test, but a nasty concussion, his ninth, during a warm-up match saw him sidelined.

“He will be fit to play in Sydney subject to completing the return-to-play protocols and an independent assessment.”

The injuries to Pucovski and Warner allowed Burns to keep his spot for the first two games of the series and forced middle-order batsman Matthew Wade into an unfamiliar opening role.

Despite performing respectably at the top of the order, there is speculation Wade may move back down to his preferred spot lower down the batting order for the rest of the series, meaning two new openers could be picked for the third Test in Sydney.

That opening partnership would be some combination of Warner, Pucovski and Harris, with current number five Travis Head possibly being dropped.

The third Test will start at the SCG as scheduled on January 7, but COVID-19 protocols mean the squad will fly into Sydney later than usual and only be allowed out of quarantine to train and play the match.

Players will train in Melbourne on January 2 and 3 before travelling to Sydney on January 4.



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Joe Burns, Marcus Harris fail to fire ahead of first Test against India, Mitchell Starc returns to Australia squad


Joe Burns and Marcus Harris have failed to impress with the bat in their final hit-out before the first Test against India, both being dismissed cheaply in Australia A’s second innings against the tourists at the SCG.

But in positive news for Australia four days out from the Adelaide day-night Test, the home side will welcome back fast bowler Mitchell Starc who was granted compassionate leave last week.

Burns, who opened the batting in every Test for Australia last domestic season, was out for 1 on the final day of the pink-ball tour match in Sydney.

He was dismissed for a duck in the first innings on Friday.

Fellow opener Harris, who was called up to Australia’s Test squad on Saturday after Will Pucovski withdrew because of concussion, could only manage 5.

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Both batters were dismissed by India quick Mohammed Shami.

Burns faced 21 balls and spent 39 minutes in the middle on Sunday before being trapped LBW by Shami.

The twin failures at the SCG add to an unconvincing start to the domestic season for Burns, who has tallied just 62 runs from nine first-class innings this season.

The Queenslander made 4 and a duck in Australia A’s first match against India last week at Drummoyne Oval.

Burns seemed a certain selection to open the batting for Australia in Adelaide, with David Warner (adductor injury) and Pucovski both ruled out.

But Australia Test great Allan Border said national selectors might be doing a disservice to Burns if they retained the out-of-form batsman in the Test XI.

“He just doesn’t look like scoring a run,” said Border, who was commentating on Fox Sports.

“If he just showed something, even if he made 20-odd today, batted OK and got out to a good ball, then you’d think we might stick with the incumbent.

Border backed Harris and Matthew Wade to open in the pink-ball Test, however that plan would be dependent on Cameron Green being passed fit for the match.

Cricket Australia (CA) is monitoring the condition of the young all-arounder, who was subbed out of Australia A’s match against India at the SCG on Friday evening after suffering a concussion while bowling.

CA’s medical staff said Green had shown “clinical improvement” on Saturday and was “symptomatically better” than he was the previous day.

Starc set to play Adelaide Test

Starc took leave from Australia’s T20 squad after the first match of the series against Indian because of a family illness.

The left-arm fast bowler has since advised the team management he is ready to return to the squad and he will fly from Sydney to Adelaide on Monday to join up with the rest of the Test team.

Mitchell Starc holds the pink ball in his hand above his head as his teammates stand around him and clap
Mitchell Starc will join his Australian teammates on Monday.(AP: Trevor Collens)

Fellow quick Josh Hazlewood said Starc’s return was very welcome.

“It’s obviously great news for us,” he said.

“He’s a huge part of our team and a huge part of our attack.

Starc has had great success with the pink ball since it was introduced for day-night Test and first-class matches.

Mitchell Starc celebrates another wicket with some high fives
Mitchell Starc (centre) claimed figures of 6-66 and 1-45 during his last day-night Test in Adelaide.(AP: James Elsby)

He has played in seven day-night Test matches, taking 42 wickets.

AAP/ABC



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Victoria’s Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris record highest partnership in Sheffield Shield’s 128-year history


Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris have broken the record for the biggest partnership in Sheffield Shield cricket history, passing the 30-year-old mark set by Steve and Mark Waugh.

On Sunday morning the Victorian opening pair overtook the 464-run stand made by the Australian Test team twins for NSW back in 1990.

The feat was achieved in Adelaide against South Australia when Harris crashed a boundary off the bowling of Wes Agar.

It stands as the highest Australian first-class partnership since the competition started in 1892.

The new record was set at 486 when Harris was caught behind off Agar’s bowling for 239. Pucovski remains not out.

South Australia had a chance to prevent the record on Sunday morning when Callum Ferguson dropped a simple chance from Harris at slip with the score at 0-436.

An old-fashioned manual scoreboard that reads "PUCOVSKI 226, HARRIS 226, 0 WKTS 465"
Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris etched their name in Australia cricket history.(AAP: James Elsby)

Elsewhere, leg-spinner Mitch Swepson took five wickets as Queensland bowled New South Wales out for 283, giving the Bulls a 15-run first innings lead.

Meanwhile, Tasmania has built a decent lead over Western Australia on the back of a patient 90 from Ben McDermott.

ABC/AAP



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Brisbane Lions’ AFL premiership hopes may hinge on whether Harris Andrews returns from injury


As Victorians absorbed their Premier’s declaration of ongoing stage 4 restrictions, Brisbane Lions fans were also digesting an Andrews announcement that was very difficult to swallow.

Confirmation star defender Harris Andrews will miss five to six weeks with a hamstring injury is an enormous blow to Brisbane’s premiership aspirations.

It pains me to admit, as an admirer of the Lions and they way they play, it could almost ruin them.

ABC Grandstand expert Chris Johnson, a three-time premiership player with Brisbane, believes Andrews’ injury will have major implications for the Lions.

“We’ve all seen how Harro (Andrews) goes about it, his intercept marking, his ability to work off his opponent and go third up at times to spoil,” Johnson said.

“They haven’t got someone like him that can come in [to replace him], even the height and his athleticism.”

Andrews tore his hamstring in the third quarter of Brisbane’s eight-point victory over Collingwood on Friday night, a win that propelled the Lions to second on the ladder at the conclusion of round 15, with three home-and-away matches remaining.

If you look at the injury optimistically, a return in five weeks would put him in the frame for the second week of the finals.

If it is six weeks, the All-Australian fancy will be available for the preliminary final, provided the Lions can make it without him.

And that is a significant ‘if’.

Brisbane AFLW player and ABC Grandstand expert, Lauren Arnell, feels Andrews’ professionalism will likely help his cause.

“Knowing Harris Andrews, if it’s five to six weeks, potentially, some players just get back a little bit earlier …” she said.

“You just keep your fingers crossed for the Lions because he is absolutely crucial to them.”

In my view, Andrews is the best key defender in the competition. A player with telescopic arms, he’s also an expert judge of when to use them for marking or punching.

A Crows player unsuccessfully attempts to mark as two Lions players punch the ball away
Andrews (right) has been crucial to the success of the Lions’ defence this season.(AAP: Darren England)

Critically, he reads the flight of the ball and gets into positions that allow him to make the best decision.

Andrews is rarely beaten one-on-one and routinely takes towering contested grabs that hold the opposition at bay.

Many would argue that the Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale is the Lions’ best player, but Andrews is unquestionably the most important.

On Friday night, his second-half absence saw Collingwood swing Darcy Moore forward alongside 211-centimetre beanpole Mason Cox in a bid to stretch the opposition’s undermanned and undersized defence.

Daniel McStay was sent back as a counter move but Brisbane looked vulnerable.

It can be argued that Richmond won the flag last year despite the doomsday predictions that followed a season-ending injury to their star backman Alex Rance in round one.

But Richmond was better equipped to cope, with highly credentialled key defenders Dylan Grimes and David Astbury able to adequately fill the void.

The Tigers started the season poorly, but ultimately had plenty of time for their side to gel despite the absence of a crucial player.

Brisbane hasn’t the luxury of time or personnel.

Darcy Gardiner has become a dependable player who, like Grimes, is highly versatile with a knack for guarding tall and small forwards, and Brandon Starcevich is an increasingly valuable addition to the Lions’ defence.

But Andrews is the leader.

Arnell reckons Andrews’ absence will lead to a permanent positional switch for McStay.

“My gut feel is that you leave McStay as that key defender because he’s not having that offensive impact at the other end as their tall forward,” Arnell said.

Lions’ forward line needs to find spark

While Brisbane has performed impressively this season with 11 wins and only three losses, there were already question marks over its capacity to go all the way.

The absence of Andrews has created a huge backline problem, but the Lions’ forward line has also been an ongoing area of concern.

McStay is part of the problem as one of several players plagued by a lack of confidence in front of goal.

Only 22 years old, Eric Hipwood shows glimpses of the attributes possessed by champion players, but he too is a completely undependable set-shot kick.

In modern football, each team will typically have periods of momentum within a match but poor conversion stifles that momentum and affects team confidence.

Against good sides, you simply must take your chances.

The Lions have kicked more goals than behinds in only five of 14 matches this season.

Perusal of their scores makes for some cringeworthy reading: 10 goals and 23 behinds against Adelaide in round four, 4.17 against Richmond in round 10 and 6.14 against St Kilda in round 13.

A Brisbane Lions AFL player moves both his hands as he celebrates kicking a goal against St Kilda.
Charlie Cameron needs to rev up ahead of the Lions’ finals campaign.(AAP: Darren England)

There is also the worrying lack of form of livewire forward Charlie Cameron, who has managed only two majors in his last five matches.

Cameron hurt his knee during the round 11 clash with the Bulldogs, but didn’t miss a match as a result of the injury.

Lions coach Chris Fagan has declared him fully fit.

A crowd favourite, the number 23’s work rate has dropped along with his output and confidence.

The revs are down.

For Brisbane to progress far enough in the finals for its star fullback to return, Cameron must rediscover the electric form that led to a career-best 57 goals last season.

Last week, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was part of an announcement that should have strengthened the Lions’ premiership ambitions — a Gabba grand final.

By Sunday, as the Andrews news came through — much like Victorians in lockdown — Brisbane and its fans had to grapple with the uncertain road ahead.



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Brisbane Lions post eight-point AFL win over Collingwood but lose Harris Andrews to injury



The Brisbane Lions have ended their six-year losing streak against Collingwood but the eight-point victory was soured by a hamstring injury to All-Australian defender Harris Andrews.

Andrews limped off in the third quarter but the Lions pushed on in a grinding 6.6 (42) to 5.4 (34) win at the Gabba that lifted them back up to second on the AFL ladder.

Both they and Port Adelaide have 44 points with identical 11-3 win-loss records, however the Power are in top spot courtesy of a superior percentage.

The Magpies stay in sixth position on the ladder with 34 points.

With three matches to go in the home-and-away season, Andrews is in a race to regain fitness before another finals tilt.

Andrews is arguably the Lions’ most important player, given his ability to take intercept marks and then slingshot his side forward.

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The Lions were able to hang on without Andrews on Friday night after their 26-point lead in the third term whittled down as the Magpies kicked the last three goals of the match.

The Magpies edged the Lions in inside 50s (41-33) and contested possessions (136-114), with the home side’s five-goal burst in the second term proving the difference.

Collingwood’s Ed Phillips (hamstring) joined a casualty list that also included Lions’ second-gamer Tom Fullarton (quad).

Jarrod Berry and Jarryd Lyons made the early running for the Lions, who overcame some kicking yips to drill four straight majors among a five-goal second term to set up the win.

Tempers also flared in the second stanza when Brayden Maynard knocked down Mitch Robinson, who had purposely tangled with the fallen John Noble after a Hugh McLuggage goal.

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Lyons pushed Brisbane ahead in the third term, with what would be their final goal of the match, but it was back to a 20-point margin at three-quarter time when Callum Brown snapped truly.

Brody Mihocek had kicked a goal early in a sharp first quarter for the Magpies, but he dropped an easy mark alone in the goal square to start the final term.

Jamie Elliot chimed in though as Collingwood pressed, with Mason Cox soccering through a major to make it an eight-point game with 90 seconds to go.

Jack Crisp had 31 disposals for the Magpies, while Magpies captain Scott Pendlebury posted 29, in addition to seven tackles and eight clearances.

Lyons and Lachie Neale both had 27 touches for Brisbane, with 10 clearances between them, while Keidean Coleman was composed with 12 touches on debut.

AAP/ABC



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Carole Baskin tricked into Rolf Harris shout out by Tom Armstrong


Aussie comedian Tom Armstrong has pulled off another epic prank – and this time, Tiger King’s Carole Baskin is the unwitting victim.

Just last week, the podcaster went viral thanks to a TikTok video after he fooled 7th Heaven star Beverley Mitchell into giving Australia’s most notorious serial killer, Ivan Milat, a shout out.

In the video, the actor – who played Lucy Camden in the hit show – can be heard thanking Ivan Milat for picking up backpackers.

Now, he’s followed it up with an even more scandalous feat after convincing the Tiger King star to acknowledge convicted paedophiles Rolf Harris and Jimmy Saville.

RELATED: Actor’ TikTok video goes horribly wrong

“Surely I couldn’t get another American celebrity to shout out Australia’s most notorious sexual predator – bonus points if they mention UK’s most notorious sexual predator,” Mr Armstrong said in the clip, before the footage switches over to Baskin.

“Hey all you cool cats and kittens, it’s Carole Baskin at Big Cat Rescue,” she says on film.

“Hi Rolf Harris – all your kids wanted to get together and tell you that you have really touched them and that they love all that you have done for them.

“I hear there’s a lot of great stories about you and your best friend, Jimmy Saville – can’t wait to hear those.

“Happy birthday Rolf.”

Rolf Harris was one of Australia’s most successful entertainers before being sentenced to five years and nine months behind bars in June 2014 for a dozen indecent assaults against four teenage girls between 1968 and 1986.

He only served three years of his sentenced before he was released on parole in May 2017.

Jimmy Saville was a hugely successful BBC personality for decades – but after his death in 2011, hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse were made against him.

Last week, Armstrong pulled a similar prank on Mitchell, who was seemingly unaware of Ivan Milat’s crimes.

“Hey Ivan! Not many people pick up hitchhikers anymore, but you really helped out the backpacker gang and you belong in 7th Heaven. So thank you, we need more people in the world like you Ivan … Milat, I hope I’m saying that right,” she said in the clip

“Sending you lots of love and thank you again for being such a big fan and for just being awesome and being you.”

That joke divided opinions, with many people finding it hilarious while others questioned whether it was too disturbing.



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Tayla Harris and her parents speak out about abuse and threats over AFLW photo


AFLW star and professional boxer Tayla Harris and her parents have opened up about the online abuse and physical threats she received over a photo of her kicking a goal.

The photo showing Harris kicking the opening goal against the Western Bulldogs in a game last year was swamped by abusive and sexist comments after it was posted on the Seven Network’s social media accounts.

“Some of the comments made me feel physically sick. They are disgusting as your wildest imagination,” Harris told 7.30.

Her father Warren Harris said he found the physical threats made against his daughter “really hard”.

“I’m not a big social media type of person, so I didn’t find out how bad it got until later on. Lisa [Harris’s mother] saw a lot more of it than I did,” he said.

Warren and Lisa Harris sit side by side wearing t-shirts.
Tayla Harris’s parents Warren and Lisa.(ABC News: Christopher Gillette)

“To find out you’ve got people saying threatening things to your daughter and threatening to turn up on the field and do this and that, you just want to — she handled it a lot better than I would have.

“My natural thought process was to find these people and explain why they shouldn’t be talking to my daughter in this way.

“Lisa will tell you it hurt her a lot because she takes those things deeper than I do.”

Harris’s parents were at the game at Whitten Oval in Melbourne’s inner west the day the photo was taken.

“As we got off the plane in Brisbane that’s when all the messages started to come through,” Lisa Harris said.

“I knew how bad it was. We couldn’t get back there for another few days and it was awful.”

‘Why I took a stand’

Tayla Harris wears a pink and blue jacket.
Tayla Harris says there needs to be a conversation about what happened.(ABC News: Chris Gillett)

Harris said she spoke out publicly in the media about the incident to help keep women in sport.

“It was an overdue conversation that needed to happen,” she said.

“Does that affect the uptake of footy at a young age? Does a girl not want to play AFLW because they don’t want to deal with that?

“There’s people in these photos of the commenters, that are making these comments, with young girls, or wives, or girlfriends or sisters and you wonder what’s happening behind the scenes.

“That’s why I took a stand against it.

“I didn’t think I needed to stand up for myself. I felt like I needed to stand up for a whole bigger issue.

“I refuse to believe it can’t get better and that people can’t become more civil, and nice to each other.”

Harris has written a book about her experience called More Than A Kick.

She hoped it would be “a resource for teenagers to relate to me and my scenario and there’s some advice if you’re facing bullying or harassment online”.

“The one thing I want to look back at the end of my career isn’t if I kicked the most goals, or took a good mark, it’s that I was able to make a positive impact on people,” she said.

Warren Harris said his daughter was not worried about fame or fortune.

“She’d give all that away to think she helped someone else,” he said.

‘Life isn’t going to go your way all the time’

AFLW star Tayla Harris at the unveiling of a prototype statue.
Tayla Harris at the unveiling of a prototype of her statue.(AAP: David Crosling)

Harris’s kick has now been immortalised in bronze.

Warren Harris said “the whole statue thing was very tricky” for his daughter.

“People didn’t quite understand at that stage the statue wasn’t put up because of her sporting ability or her football or her anything else,” he said.

“That was put up so people could say at that point in time someone took a stand against these people online bullying other people and potentially pushing those people to suicide.”

Harris said she credits a lot of her success to her mother and father.

“They brought me up to understand life isn’t going to go your way all the time,” she said.

“They would drive me to every single training session, pay for all the footy teams I was in, uniforms.

“I’m sure they would say any parent would do it but any parent wouldn’t do it. A lot of parents aren’t willing to invest that much in their kids.”

Harris would have played in the finals earlier this year but the 2020 AFLW season ending prematurely due to coronavirus.

“We’ll adapt,” she said.

“After coronavirus everything will get affected. Literally everything in the world is going to have an impact in some way.

“In terms of sport, AFL and AFLW and grassroots and local footy are all going to get affected. In terms of funding, everything will take a hit.”

Watch this story tonight on 7.30.



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