Puppy love could still turn sour

EVER since Michael Clarke was handed the leadership baton, it seemed that Pup was on a recruitment drive.
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A campaign to convince the many knockers that this ”young punk” surely can be man to hold what many believe to be the most important job in this country.

To fight off the opinion that the young man who has sported the peroxide look, worn the ear rings, driven the fast cars and had the supermodel companions surely couldn’t follow in the footsteps of street fighters like Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor.

But after a breathtaking triple century, Clarke’s once empty bandwagon is now overflowing.

His demolition of India in Sydney was sublime to say the least, and exemplified leadership at its very best.

Shots all around the wicket, with a level of confidence and timing rarely seen from his unsponsored blade.

I didn’t think I would ever be more impressed with a Michael Clarke knock than his 151 against South Africa in Cape Town in November.

That was a gutsy, brave knock that ensured his side complied a respectable total.

There are comparisons to both those knocks, with Australia 3-37 when he came to crease (3-40 at Cape Town), but this innings soon changed from a dog-fight to a master class.

The other major argument against Clarke becoming our new leader was at the time he was barely demanding a place in the team.

His unbeaten 329 was his fourth Test ton since taking charge, in comparison to none in the 12 months leading up.

Combined with his cleverness in the field placements and with bowling changes, it’s nothing but a big tick for the 30-year-old.

And the cherry on top of our new-found love for Clarke is his unselfish decision to call time on his innings.

Even with the forecast of rain today, he could have batted on until deep into final session and had a crack at the magical 400, but put the team first.

But like any relationship, one event could easily end this bout of ”Puppy Love”.

A disastrous Ashes campaign, even if Clarke himself stands up with the bat, is all that it will take to get people off-side again.

As impressive as this current form is, it is against an Indian team which suffers from major cases of homesickness.

England are still the benchmark, and even with the likes of James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Mitch Marsh, Nathan Lyon and Usman Khawaja there is hope, but there’s still a lot of work needed to done before 2013 rolls around.

Losses to New Zealand and an inability to pass 50 against South Africa to close 2011 is evidence of that.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Top fancies lose first Twenty20 games

BIG BASH: Wests batsman Chris Young on the attack yesterday against Hamwicks at Harker Oval. – Picture by Dean OslandTWO of the hot favourites for the Newcastle grade cricket Twenty20 crown suffered shock defeats yesterday in the opening round.
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Two-time defending champions University fell seven runs short of chasing down Waratah-Mayfield’s 119 at University Oval and Hamilton-Wickham were rolled for 73 in reply to Western Suburbs’ 9-86 at Harker Oval.

With Webber brothers Sam and Matt and captain Kirk Mullard in their ranks, Hamwicks boast some of the most destructive hitters in the competition.

Only a month ago at Harker Oval Sam Webber belted 15 sixes in a knock of 175.

But yesterday Webber made just six in five balls in a game that failed to produce a single six.

Fresh from match figures of 9-60 in the two-day win over Cardiff-Boolaroo, Rosellas captain Ben Woolmer took 2-14 off four overs against Hamwicks.

‘‘We bowled and fielded very well,’’ Woolmer said.

‘‘It was definitely a good win with only 86 on the board. We were looking a bit dodgy at the start at 6-30.’’

No.5 Wests batsman Todd Griffith top-scored for the game with 28, an innings that proved a saviour for the home side.

University captain Josh Emerton said he believed his and Daniel Odd’s dismissals led to the loss.

‘‘We restricted them pretty well as the pitch was dry, but a couple of decisions were pretty costly at our end,’’ Emerton said.

Waratah’s Myles Cook (34) and Nathan Hudson (36) were the backbone of the Tahs’ 119 from 19.3 overs.

Opening bowler Nathan Martin then cemented Waratah’s second win of the summer with a spell of 4-24 in 3.1 overs.

Merewether (5-124) chased down Stockton-Raymond Terrace’s 123 with four balls to spare at Lynn Oval.

And Charlestown got the points when they defended 5-154 against Toronto (140) at Ron Hill Oval.

Wallsend’s Joe Curk (56) ensured the Tigers handed Cardiff-Boolaroo a 91-run defeat at Wallsend Oval.

The Tigers made 7-196 and dismissed the CBs for 105 in 13 overs, thanks to 4-23 from Cameron Roxby.

Competition leaders Belmont (4-148) chased down Newcastle City’s 7-144 at Cahill Oval after an unbeaten 53 from skipper Mark Littlewood.

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Sex offences under spotlight

Attorney-General Brian Wightman.ATTORNEY-GENERAL Brian Wightman has a wide-ranging legislative agenda for 2012, with the sex industry, electoral donations, surrogacy and sex offender sentencing all on his list.
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Sex offender sentencing is one of the more high-profile issues Mr Wightman will be considering.

He has referred the issue to the Sentencing Advisory Council.

“It’s very, very important that we make sure that we have an informed debate,” he said.

Mr Wightman said the council, in its second year of operation, would provide a good grounding for informed debate on a range of legal issues as its members were all experts in the operation of the justice system.

“We all have opinions on justice but at times we’re very reactionary,” he said.

“I think it’s absolutely vitally important that we have a link between the government and the public and the justice system.”

Mr Wightman will also follow up on work done by the council in relation to arson sentencing and said he was expecting the council to soon release a paper relating to assaults on emergency service workers.

He said he was eagerly awaiting a paper from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute on a review of sections of the Criminal Code relating to child sex offences, which was triggered by the 2009 case of a twelve-year-old girl sold for sex by her mother and a family friend.

Mr Wightman said legislative changes would be made if necessary.

He is hoping to release a discussion paper relating to electoral donations either this month or next, which will look at whether there should be a cap on campaign expenditure for House of Assembly candidates – a cap already applies to Legislative Council candidates.

A long-awaited discussion paper on the regulation of the state’s sex industry is also expected this month.

“It will particularly focus on the health and safety of sex workers and the protection of public health,” Mr Wightman said.

He expects to be able to re-introduce legislation to allow altruistic surrogacy, following an inquiry by a Legislative Council committee.

Mr Wightman said his department was working through the committee’s recommendations and that he hoped to have the amended legislation before the Parliament this year.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Real men lift heavy things

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Physically we were spent before departure, but greatness is rarely achieved being sensible.

Some people believe men are basically useless unless they’re lifting something.

That’s harsh because many men are often useless lifting things too. But we must be doing something right because people keep asking us to lift things.

So the other day, the call went out: a lounge suite had to be picked up from somewhere sooner rather than later, triggering forward motion in our house not seen since the great bushfire evacuation of 2004. Not exactly panic – that came later when the three-seater sofa fell off the roof of the 4×4 – but definitely a sense of purpose.

First of all, a favour had to be asked of an unfortunate mate at short notice. I shudder to think what pleasant expectations this mate had of his day off as he answered the phone. But he responded in the affirmative, perhaps lured by the opportunity for men of valour to join in glorious union to defy gravity and middle age. More likely because he was a good bloke.

That decided, we got into it with gusto, as men of valour do when there’s a lift on.

A monster rack had to be put on top of the 4×4. It’s called a monster rack because it’s monstrously heavy. Nearly heavier than the 4×4 . And it’s amazing how much energy is expended hoisting one onto a roof, back to front first time. Second time I don’t remember much except screaming repeatedly ‘‘You got it? You got it? HANG ON!!!’’

Physically we were spent before departure, but greatness is rarely achieved being sensible.

First thing to do when we arrived at the pick-up spot was to look like we knew what we were doing. That was achieved by reversing into the neighbour’s fence with my rear vision mirror, at speed. Any remaining doubts were erased when my mate attempted to open the back door of the 4×4 by pulling the casing off the number-plate light. I could sense our host thinking ‘‘seasoned removalists’’, and I was pleased.

Next step was to address the lift. Seemingly an innocuous leather lounge; but when engaged, heavier than a war memorial.

The plan, if you could call it that, was to put it on the monster rack of the 4×4. The Egyptians had built pyramids without machines. How hard could it be putting a sofa on a roof? Without an army of slaves, reasonably difficult we discovered. It was hard enough getting the monster rack up there without a slave army! Getting it to the vertical was easy. Achieving lift-off was the catch. Avoiding crush injuries and hernias were other concerns. Don’t really know what went down, but when the red mist cleared, that sucker was up, proving miracles can happen if you strain hard enough.

Now to tie it down. Rope voodoo. Not much method in the madness, but by the time we finished that thing looked like the latest Christo creation.

Not sure whether stepping in dog poo was part of the plan, but I’ll always associate the sweet sensation of rope burn with the heady scent of Fido.

Next, navigate home without stacking it. Rather than a long wide load, we were a short, tall fulcrum.

Best to take the shortest route with the least amount of camber. That’d be ‘‘tilt’’ in layman’s language. One step away from ‘‘roll’’ in the 4×4 disaster handbook.

Once home, the thing had to come off the roof, which gets us back to the panic mentioned earlier.

Again I remember screaming ‘‘you got it, you got it, HANG ON!!!’’ before the sofa slipped off the rack and started inexorably crushing me. As I sagged I recall crying out ‘‘tell the kids I love them’’ and ‘‘I’m melting’’.

Just before asphyxiation, I gave it one last desperate death roll and got a grip. Then we lugged it to the door.

I kid you not, though, after all the guts and glory, when we got it there, the thing didn’t fit.

Who said we’re useless?

Are men basically useless unless they’re lifting something?

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Great expectations asAmbrose takes top spot

Marocs Ambrose will move into the spotlight this year as the lead driver at Richard Petty Motorsports.MARCOS Ambrose has been declared the `undisputed’ lead driver for the Richard Petty Motorsports team for this year’s top-level NASCAR series after the departure of team mate AJ Allmendinger.
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Richard Petty Motorsport announced yesterday that well-performed second tier racer Aric Almirola will drive the team’s No. 43 Ford Fusion in 2012.

Allmendinger, who finished the 2011 season in 15th place, replaces 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch at Penske Racing and will drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger.

Ambrose confirmed his commitment to the Richard Petty team after a disappointing did-not-finish in the last race of the past season in Miami.

“It’s a bad way to finish the season, but we’ve had a great year and really wanted to finish on a high note . . . I’m looking forward to 2012 and making it ever better.”

The Launceston-born driver scored his first Sprint Cup win in August when he won at Watkins Glen International, one of two road races in the series, and finished the season in 19th place.

The Watkins Glen victory was his 105th start and he joined Mario Andretti (Italy), Earl Ross (Canada) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Columbia) as the only non-American drivers to win a race in the US’s premier motorsport category.

Writing on the official NASCAR website, commentator Joe Menzer says Ambrose is poised for more success in 2012.

“Ambrose will enter this season as the undisputed top driver at Richard Petty Motorsports in the No. 9 Ford.

“With that comes increased expectations to get to Victory Lane on an oval (track) and contend for a Chase berth.

“This year he seems better prepared for what may lay just ahead.

“If he can contend again on the two Cup road courses and finally get it done on at least one oval (track), his closely-watched season will be considered a success.”

It will be Ambrose’s fourth season of full-time racing in the Sprint Cup series.

Aric Almirola, who finished fourth in the second tier Nationwide Series in 2011, has made 35 starts in the Sprint Cup Series and drove five races for Richard Petty Motorsport in 2010.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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