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This week’s one-day international series win over England had more than the usual significance for Australia


For Australia’s cricket-watching public, some series matter and others … not so much.

Players who perform at the Adelaide Oval or the Gabba in December or January find their feats well-received and remembered.

Games in the middle of the night during winter beamed back from far-flung countries may go entirely unnoticed.

In this week’s case, though, the one-day international series that wrapped up in England had more than the usual significance.

It wasn’t just that Australia won at the last gasp in Manchester, thanks to a pair of brilliant centuries from Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey, and a pair of equally vital swings of the bat from Mitchell Starc.

The first piece of context was the corresponding ODI trip to England two years ago, in the winter of 2018.

A batsman stares back at grandstand, holding his bat aloft in one hand and his helmet in the other.
Glenn Maxwell hit sixes often enough to keep the Aussies in contention for the one-day international win.(AP/Pool: Shaun Botterill)

This was the first outing for any Australian men’s team since the ball-tampering scandal the previous March.

It was a 5-0 whitewash, the sort of result that Australians were used to dishing out, but not receiving.

Four of the matches were competitive but the one in the middle was a new level of thrashing, as England made a world record score of 481. The rest of the series was viewed through that lens.

A year later, on the same shores in 2019, England walloped Australia in the semi-final of the World Cup.

It echoed their Champions Trophy match of 2017: another global tournament, another game at Edgbaston, another instance of England knocking out Australia.

So for four years running, Australian one-day teams had headed to England in the middle of the year, and three of those years had not been happy.

The team of 2020 had a point to prove, not so much to England as to themselves, that they could match it with the recent world champions on a consistent basis.

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The need to foster this belief became more urgent after Australia went ahead in the series and had a chance to seal it, but produced one of the more extraordinary chokes you’ll see to lose the second match. Cruising at 2 for 144, Australia somehow managed to get bowled out chasing 231.

There had been a similar implosion the previous week in a Twenty20 match: needing 39 in 38 balls with nine wickets in hand, Australia’s batsmen had contrived to fall short.

Confidence in Australia holding things together wasn’t high. In the third and deciding ODI, the team conceded 302 despite Starc having taken wickets with the first two balls of the match, and the chase collapsed to 5 for 73.

No team has ever recovered from such a score to chase more than 300 runs.

In a year where we’ve overworked the word ‘unprecedented’, what happened next is a fair application.

While it was initially difficult for Maxwell and Carey to find singles and get momentum into the innings, they managed to stay calm enough to see that period through.

Once they could manipulate the strike, they used the short boundary on one side of the ground to great effect, making sure that either the left-handed Carey or the right-handed Maxwell could target it as his leg-side field.

Maxwell hit sixes often enough to keep them in the hunt and judiciously enough to stay relatively safe.

There was fortune for both with a no-ball and a dropped catch, but the way the partnership surged towards the end was bigger than that.

There was still the chance of a fumble when both were dismissed within 10 runs of the win, but Starc made the last over of the match as dramatic as he had made the first, swinging Adil Rashid for six down the ground before sweeping four.

Aaron Finch accepts a high-10 from Glenn Maxwell as Alex Carey and Pat Cummins mull around to join the celebrations.
Aaron Finch and the Australian team could be slowly rebuilding their form.(AP: Alastair Grant)

Australia is still a team with a makeshift feel. So much is geared around Steve Smith, who has never dominated one-dayers as he does Tests.

After he was concussed in training before the series, his return was spoken about before each game, but he didn’t end up playing any.

He was a presence in his absence.

Marcus Stoinis is still being mucked around with: he lost his mojo in 2019 during a World Cup where he couldn’t be dropped because there was no reserve all-rounder, then found it in the Big Bash as an opening bat, before being popped back into Australia’s T20 team as a finisher in a role that didn’t suit him.

With Smith out, Stoinis batted at three but couldn’t produce what we’ve seen in domestic cricket.

For the moment, something about playing in national colours diminishes him.

The best use of Maxwell is still unclear. There was a movement to have a player of his ability bat at number four, but then he would get scolded like a regular batsman when he got out to an attacking shot.

The first-choice top four now has a conservative build: the new-edition David Warner, Aaron Finch, Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, none of whom are whirlwind players in the 50-over format.

Maxwell remains Australia’s only consistent hitter, which gives him no support in the enterprise. The inclusion of someone like Matthew Wade, who can clear the boundary on the regular, would be a boost, or Mitchell Marsh needs to grow into that job.

England meanwhile still had the side that won the World Cup. Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow at the top, Test captain Joe Root and one-day captain Eoin Morgan to run the middle, Jos Buttler for fireworks.

Ben Stokes wasn’t away but Sam Billings filled in well. Leg-spinner Rashid was there, seamer Chris Woakes, fast bowlers Mark Wood and Jofra Archer. The only permanent change is that Liam Plunkett has been pensioned off, currently replaced by Tom Curran.

So this was the team that Australia was able to best, nearly three times out of three.

England’s players are probably pretty jaded after months in a bio-bubble, but it’s a significant achievement nonetheless.

In March 2019, a wonder run against India in Mohali gave Australia a boost ahead of the World Cup, shifting back to contender status from something closer to a rabble.

This week’s chase in Manchester could be at least as important over the next couple of years — for Maxwell, for Carey, and for the broader Australian belief that it can be done.



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England vs Australia: Third ODI: Live scores, stats and commentary from Old Trafford



This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)



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Seven refuses to pay Cricket Australia full price to broadcast the summer of cricket


Seven West Media has refused to pay full price for its broadcast rights with Cricket Australia (CA), making a partial payment that is certain to stretch a relationship that is already incredibly strained.

Foxtel is yet to reveal its cards publicly but is also believed to be adopting a similar approach to Seven in its pursuit of a discount from CA.

Seven and CA remain at loggerheads on the eve of the 2020-21 season, with the disgruntled free-to-air broadcaster threatening to walk away from its $450 commitment to the sport.

The media giant last week issued CA a legal letter, declaring the governing body had breached its contract.

CA is yet to formally respond to that dispute, which if further escalated could potentially result in Seven terminating its deal.

The broadcaster, which used a range of arguments while pushing for its annual rights fee to be reduced, has now grown tired of CA’s refusal to enter negotiations and opted to apply its own discount.

Seven, which was due to pay $25 million to CA on Tuesday, has confirmed a smaller total has been transferred.

Seven and Fox Sports share the rights to the home cricket season.
Seven refused to reveal the exact figure transferred to CA.(AP: Trevor Collens)

“Seven has paid the first instalment reflecting our assessment of fair value,” Seven chief executive James Warburton said in a statement.

Seven is unlikely to make future payments, which indicates a legal stoush is looming unless the feuding parties reconcile their significant differences soon.

CA’s interim chief executive Nick Hockley is desperate to avoid a hammer blow to his organisation’s revenue.

He has the backing of a board that has repeatedly declared it will not offer any form of discount on the six-year broadcast deal, which totalled $1.2 billion and was signed in 2018.

Hockley released a statement highlighting the upside of what he termed a “massive summer of cricket”.

“We are confident of delivering a compelling summer schedule that will meet our commitments to our broadcast partners and the high expectations of our fans,” he said.

Seven and Foxtel both remain frustrated at CA’s inability to deliver a final schedule for 2020-21.

CA is waiting on state-government clearances before releasing its updated fixtures list.

The governing body has repeatedly insisted it will, unlike the AFL and NRL, deliver a full season of content as promised.

“We will hold up our end of the bargain. I am sure Channel Seven and Foxtel will as well,” CA chairman Earl Eddings said earlier this year.

India captain Virat Kohli and Australia captain Tim Paine shake hands at the SCG after the Test series between their teams.
Australia is set to play India in four Tests this summer.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

Seven has guaranteed it will broadcast cricket while the dispute rumbles on, starting with the season-opening women’s trans-Tasman Twenty20 on September 26.

“We’ll keep putting on a good show and it’ll be great for lots and lots and lots of Australians to watch it,” national men’s coach Justin Langer said.

Warburton refused to reveal the exact figure transferred to CA but noted Seven picked the number after consulting a third party.

“Putting aside the questions of breach, in accordance with the contract Seven has invoked the right to appoint an independent expert,” he said.

“To determine the fair value of the media rights against the expected schedule for the season, compared to the originally published schedule.”

AAP



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England defeats Australia by 24 runs in second ODI to tie series



Australia has endured a shocking batting collapse while within touching distance of a first ODI series win against England since 2015 to lose game two in Manchester by 24 runs.

Cruising at 2-144 in pursuit of 232, Australia lost 4-3 in 21 balls as England quicks Chris Woakes (3-32) and Jofra Archer (3-34) caused havoc under lights in Manchester to level the three-game series at 1-1.

Australia’s total collapse was 8-63 to be all-out for 207 in the 49th-over after captain Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne put their team in a winning position.

The pair were barely troubled after coming together at 2-37, and England captain Eoin Morgan seemed lost for options.

But bringing Archer and Woakes back on for their second spells yielded results, with the latter trapping Labuschagne lbw to end the 107-run stand and spark Australia’s dramatic downfall at Old Trafford.

Heroes in the game one win on Friday, Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell quickly had their stumps rattled, while Finch also departed as the game was turned on its head between the 30th and 34th over.

Wicketkeeper Alex Carey (36) mounted a brave resistance, but the long tail was always going to make the task of scoring 85 runs at close to a run-a-ball extremely difficult.

Australia will be ruing allowing England to score late runs in their innings, when the hosts were on the ropes at 8-149 thanks to leg-spinner Adam Zampa’s bamboozling spell of 3-36.

Tailenders Tom Curran (37) and Adil Rashid put on a crucial 76-run ninth-wicket partnership, which included 53 from the last four overs, to push England to 9-231 after appearing they would fail to reach 200.

Morgan (42) and a watchful Joe Root (39) were England’s best in the top-order.

Australia were again without star batsman Steve Smith, who was left out of a second-straight match after being hit in the head while batting at training on Thursday.

England haven’t lost an ODI series on home soil since going down 3-2 to Australia five years ago.

They will be aiming to protect that record in Wednesday’s deciding game.

AAP



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England vs Australia: Second ODI: Live scores, stats and commentary from Manchester



This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)



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Australia beats England by 19 runs in Manchester in the first ODI of a three-match series


It doesn’t make up for a lost World Cup, but Australia have exacted some revenge after holding off a fast-finishing England by 19 runs to go 1-0 up in the three-match ODI series.

Not even a maiden international century from Sam Billings could stop Australia from winning the first 50-over meeting between the rivals since England’s thumping semi-final victory at last year’s World Cup.

England found fast bowler Josh Hazlewood (3-26) near unplayable under lights in Manchester — and their slow start proved costly chasing Australia’s 9-294.

Eoin Morgan’s world number one ranked team has built a fearsome reputation of piling on ODI runs in recent years, but they crawled to 2-22 after 10 overs as man-of-the-match Hazlewood tied down his end with three maidens.

“I’ve got a couple of five-fors in one-day cricket, but against this line-up and this top-order to bowl that well on this wicket, I’m very happy with that coming out,” Hazlewood said.

When leg-spinner Adam Zampa (4-55) dismissed captain Eoin Morgan and dangerman Jos Buttler in quick succession, England’s bid to pull off the highest run-chase at Old Trafford was in tatters.

Opener Jonny Bairstow hung around amid the carnage, giving Australia some nervous moments as he lifted his flailing strike-rate during a 113-run stand with Billings.

Bairstow (84) went for one big shot too many and was caught in the deep off Zampa’s bowling in the 34th over but Billings fought on for a tremendous 118.

Making the win even more impressive is Australia did it without star batsman Steve Smith, who was a late scratching after being hit in the head while batting in the nets on Thursday.

Australian skipper Aaron Finch says Smith was only left out as a precaution, but suffering another head knock is still concerning given his history with concussion.

An Australian batsman cracks the ball through midwicket during a one-day international.
Mitch Marsh (C) and Glenn Maxwell got Australia back in the game with a big partnership after some early wickets.(AP/Pool: Jon Super)

Glenn Maxwell (77) and Mitch Marsh (73) stepped up in Smith’s absence by pulling Australia out of a hole with a gutsy 126-run sixth-wicket partnership.

Australia were on the ropes at 5-123, after Morgan won the toss and elected to bowl, when the oft-maligned all-rounders came together.

In his first ODI for more than a year, Maxwell made a cautious start before launching four sixes with some of his trademark explosive hitting.

The big-hitting Victorian was bowled by Jofra Archer (3-57) when trying to lift the run-rate, but Marsh remained watchful in recording his best ODI score against England.

Quick Mitchell Starc struggled with minor groin soreness in the field and will be monitored ahead of Sunday’s second ODI.

Morgan paid tribute to how Australia played and doesn’t believe England are far off their best.

“We had an OK day with the ball, but the best part of it was taking early wickets,” he said.

“You have to give credit to Marsh and Maxwell for establishing a partnership to get things going.”

AAP



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England vs Australia: First ODI: Live scores, stats and commentary from Old Trafford



Australia takes on England in the first of three ODI’s from Old Trafford in Manchester, looking to atone for the 2-1 T20 series defeat in Southampton.

Follow all the action in our live ScoreCentre.

Match summary

Latest deliveries

Live scorecard

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Live commentary



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China blows up after Australia raided the homes of Chinese journalists


China has accused Australia of double standards after intelligence agencies raided the homes of its foreign journalists in June.

The comments follow two Australian journalists fleeing China with help from Australian officials after state police knocked on ABC reporter Bill Birtles’ door at midnight to inform him he was involved in a case.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has condemned Australian authorities for saying Beijing was engaging in “hostage diplomacy”, while questioning Chinese journalists was normal procedure.

“It fully revealed some Australians’ unfounded sense of superiority, hypocrisy and double standards,” Mr Zhao said.

Australian intelligence officers reportedly raided, searched and questioned in June four journalists who worked for the Xinhua News Agency, China Media Group and China News Service in Australia.

Mr Zhao said they were probed over the possible violation of foreign interference laws.

Computers, mobile phones, educational tablets and children’s electronic toys were seized from the premises.

“The Chinese journalists were threatened, intimidated and not allowed to contact the local Chinese consulate-general,” he said.

Mr Zhao defended the handling of two Australian journalists, saying it was “in accordance to the law”.

He dismissed allegations the journalists were forced out of China, saying it was the Australian embassy that asked them to leave Beijing as soon as possible and arranged their stay in the Australian diplomatic premises.

“They amount to disruption in the Chinese side’s lawful investigation and interference in China’s domestic affairs and judicial sovereignty,” he said.

But Trade Minister Simon Birmingham defended the Australian embassy’s actions saying it provided the support Australians would expect if people were in trouble.

“Our view is that our officials acted appropriately, they ensured the safety of the two Australians involved and they resolved the matter diplomatically through discussions with Chinese authorities,” Senator Birmingham told ABC.

On the June raids, Senator Birmingham said the government took foreign interference matters very seriously.

“But we undertake these matters in no way in response to actions of other countries. We do it purely in relation to the evidence that may be there, the concerns that our agencies have, and they act then on those individual cases and matters,” Senator Birmingham said.

He did not have further information about Australian journalist Cheng Lei, who remains detained in China.



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Rugby Championship tournament to be hosted by Australia



Australia is set to be announced as the venue for this year’s Rugby Championship in November and December.

The tournament will comprise 12 round-robin matches between Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina, played as six double-headers.

The ABC understands all the matches will be played in New South Wales, apart from one double-header, which will be played in Brisbane.

Venues for the matches in New South Wales are yet to be confirmed.

There will also be two Bledisloe Cup matches between the Wallabies and All Blacks.

An official announcement will be made by SANZAAR at 1:00pm AEST.

While Australia and New Zealand’s players have both benefited from playing domestic Super Rugby matches in recent months, there has been no rugby played in South Africa or Argentina since the pandemic hit.

The pandemic may yet halt the participation of Argentina, whose campaign will be contingent on the COVID status of a number of their players.

Last week six Pumas players were confirmed to have tested positive for the virus, with a further nine members of the set-up also testing positive

There has been fierce competition between New Zealand and Australia to win the hosting rights of this year’s tournament.

South Africa are the reigning champions, ending New Zealand’s run of three consecutive tournament victories.

More to come.



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Ironman Australia triathlon to go ahead on Sunshine Coast this weekend under COVID-safe rules


With mass gatherings set to remain problematic for some time to come in a post-pandemic world, large sporting events are busy reinventing themselves to remain viable.

This weekend, Ironman Australia will run its first event since March on the Sunshine Coast, with more than 1,000 competitors set to race under a COVID-safe plan.

Head of operations Rebecca van Poose said organisers had to submit more than 80 pages of approvals to Queensland Health to get the go ahead.

“We’re just putting a lot of emphasis on the athletes to be responsible and work with us to ensure we remain COVID-safe,” she said.

What does a COVID-safe race look like?

Ms van Poose said the event would focus on physical distancing, enhanced hygiene and touch point minimisations.

She said athletes would be forced to adhere to requirements from the moment they check in.

“They’ve all had to nominate a 50-minute time frame that they’ll come, so that way we can flow our athletes through over a set period of time to make sure that we’ve got the space to ensure that they’re always 1.5 metres apart,” she said.

But with the course spanning a 1.9-kilometre swim, a 90-kilometre bike ride and a 21.1-kilometre run, it is practically impossible to ensure distance is policed at every checkpoint.

Ms van Poose said it would be up to athletes — including world champion Sarah Crowley, competing for the first time this season — to voluntarily keep their distance.

A woman in sports gear raises a banner above her as she runs through race finish with crowd behind.
Australian triathlete Sarah Crowley wins the 2017 Cairns Airport Ironman race.(Supplied: Sarah Crowley)

Ms Crowley said her preparation for the event during lockdown had been bizarre but she hoped serious competition would be limited because of border closures.

“Without any real competition, it’s difficult to see where your fitness level’s at,” she said.

“Typically within the year I’d travel overseas and have had two altitude training blocks and probably three ‘ironmans’ by now.

“We’re very lucky that it’s an individual sport, and we can actually compete fairly similarly without too much of a change.”

Competitors urged to keep their distance

Competitors have been asked to limit their interactions with spectators and volunteers at aid stations.

While athletes have been urged to supply more of their own nutrition and hydration on course, their families and friends have also been asked to keep their distance.

A low view of runners in race along city street with an old church, buildings and trees behind.
Organisers are urging competitors to keep their distance from others during the race.(Melbourne Marathon)

“We’ll have a live feed coming from the finish line, they can obviously go and sit in a restaurant and watch there as well and follow their physical distancing plans,” Ms van Poose said.

The Gold Coast Marathon had to be cancelled in July.

Cameron Hart from Events Management Queensland, organiser of the Gold Coast event, said there were too many unknowns at that time.

“The impact on athletes and then the reduction in international participation when the borders were closed earlier on, it just simply wasn’t feasible to hold an event of our size,” he said.

A packed group of runners stand in front of starting ribbon for mass race on leafy city street.
This year’s Melbourne Marathon will be a virtual event.(Melbourne Marathon)

The Noosa Triathlon and Melbourne Marathon were two other events that faced a similar fate.

Melbourne Marathon Festival event director Marcus Gale said the ongoing restrictions in Victoria forced their hand in calling off next month’s event.

“This decision was made after careful consideration, with the health and safety of our participants, staff, volunteers and the community remaining our top priority,” Mr Gale said.

Virtual marathons the new norm

The Gold Coast Marathon hosted a virtual race in July, which attracted more than 24,000 entrants from 60 countries.

The Melbourne Marathon will follow suit, offering a virtual race in December.

A smiling female runner gives a thumbs up on a running track with a big crowd behind her.
It’s hoped a virtual marathon will encourage positive mental health in people training during lockdown.(Melbourne Marathon)

“Exercise and particularly running has significant positive health benefits, including for mental health,” Mr Gale said.

“We want to continue to support Victorians and the wider running community during this time.”

While virtual events have helped participants stay fit and active, revenue for event organisers has taken a big hit.

Events Management Queensland did not charge people to participate in the July event.

There are fears 40 per cent of all major event operators will not survive another 12 months without a contingency plan.

The Australian Mass Participant Sporting Events Alliance (AMPSEA) was formed in May to help troubleshoot the difficulties facing the big event planners during COVID-19.

Members include event organisers and industry leaders, including former politicians from all levels of government.

Their goal is to lobby for funding to keep the events industry alive.

AMPSEA has also been aiming to work with relevant health departments to seek exemptions to COVID restrictions whenever possible.

“If we had to run on one person every four square metres, it would make it very difficult,” Mr Hart said.

“A lot of the events simply wouldn’t be viable because you can’t get the same number of people.”



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