Ashes angst behind Voges’ run of runs

Memories of Ashes angst are driving Adam Voges’ ruthless streak and the veteran is hungry for more.

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Voges’ Test career could have ended in England earlier this year, where he managed a handful of starts but no scores of substance during the first three Tests.

The veteran restored confidence at Trent Bridge, where he finished 51 not out as England celebrated reclaiming the urn with a crushing victory.

The 36-year-old did enough to stay in the XI, now he’s showing exactly why selectors picked him in the first place.

Voges’ unbeaten knock of 106 in the Boxing Day Test means he has tallied 1028 runs in 2015.

Not since Mark Taylor announced himself as a future captain in 1989 has an Australian batsman started Test cricket with so many runs in a calender year.

“I probably go back to what happened during the Ashes and thinking about the tough times I encountered then,” Voges said.

“And I guess that drives me a little bit as well to be ruthless when I’m out there batting at the moment.

“To go through the tough times and come out the other end and now be … scoring some runs is very enjoyable.”

More than half of Voges’ haul has come against West Indies.

He is averaging a staggering 542 against West Indies, having started his Test career with an unbeaten 130 that guided Australia to victory in Dominica this year.

Voges reached his latest milestone in his 18th Test innings, only three other Australians have done it in fewer knocks.

All were Invincibles – Don Bradman, Neil Harvey and Sid Barnes.

Despite the impressive numbers, Voges isn’t complacent about his place in the side.

“I don’t think my spot is ever safe at 36 years of age,” he said.

“Comfortable is not the right word.

“I certainly feel part of this team and I’m loving every minute of it but I also understand that it won’t last forever.

“I’m just going to enjoy it while I can. I won’t put a timeframe on anything.”

Voges is yet to be dismissed in the current series but highlighted the fact he had a bit of luck on day two of the MCG clash.

“They came up with a few different ideas to me than what they did in Hobart,” he said.

“I got dropped at slip and had a couple that could have gone on to the stumps, but you ride that luck when things are going well I guess.”

Perfect conditions for Melb-Hobart start

Spirit of Downunder has overcome sail trouble to take an early lead in the Melbourne to Hobart yacht race.

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The day after the Sydney to Hobart yachts copped a battering in wild weather, conditions were near-perfect for the start of the Melbourne to Hobart race that got underway from just off Portsea pier on Sunday afternoon.

But last year’s line honours winner, skippered by Lawrence Ford, had to deal with an early setback.

“The start was absolutely sensational,” Ocean Racing Club of Victoria commodore Neville Rose told AAP.

“The conditions allowed a spinnaker start from Portsea over to Queenscliff.

“Spirit of Downunder had a blinder of a start and mowed through the fleet but unfortunately for them they had trouble getting their spinnaker down, which allowed Peccadillo and Extasea past.”

Spirit of Downunder was the third boat to clear Port Phillips Heads, behind Peccadillo and Extasea, before retaking the lead.

After clearing the heads, nine entrants went on to fight for line honours in the 440-nautical-mile ‘Westcoaster’ course along the rugged west coast of Tasmania, while seven boats split off to race for the Rudder Cup, from Melbourne to Devonport, with catamaran Peccadillo leading the way.

Shortwave set the course record for the Westcoaster race – just over one day and 17 hours – in 2008 but forecast light conditions are expected to see this year’s fleet take three to four days to cross the finish line.

The races follow on from traditional Boxing Day feeder race the Cock of the Bay from Port Melbourne to Blairgowrie, with multi-hull Peccadillo and mono-hull Journey taking line honours in their respective classes.

US storm toll rises to 22

The death toll following four days of wild weather in the southeastern United States has risen to 22.

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Unusual warmth, tornadoes and torrential downpours have sparked flooding and caused damage across the region during the Christmas holiday.

Two people missing due to the conditions since Wednesday were reported dead on Saturday in Mississippi, bringing the state’s death toll to 10.

Late on Saturday, one death was also reported in Alabama, while in Texas, four people were confirmed killed in vehicle accidents near the intersection of two major highways in Garland, east of Dallas.

Local police officer Joe Harn said the four were killed in accidents that occurred during a massive storm but it’s unclear if all four were in the same vehicle or how they died.

A tornado was reported to have gone through the suburb east of Dallas, damaging several homes.

Harn said there were no active rescues under way, though first responders continue to search houses for anyone trapped after the storms passed.

Texas residents hunkered down for what the National Weather Service was calling a “historic blizzard”.

Some parts of the Panhandle could see as many as 356 millimetres of snow, with sub-zero wind chills and accumulating ice. Residents in Lubbock and Amarillo prepared for an evening storm.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said 56 injuries were reported. In a statement, Flynn said preliminary damage estimates showed 241 homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

More than 400 homes in total were affected, he said.

Severe storms were forecast for Sunday night through Monday as a strong cold front pushed through. Tornadoes were possible and residents were being asked to remain alert.

The flooding is the result of heavy downpours that have thrashed the southeastern US since Wednesday, bringing record rainfalls.

Six people were killed in Tennessee, including three found in a car submerged in a creek, according to the Columbia Police Department.

One person died in Arkansas and dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed.

Japan and South Korea hold talks on comfort women issue

Senior diplomats of South Korea and Japan met on Sunday ahead of talks by their foreign ministers over the issue of ‘comfort women’, a legacy of Japan’s wartime past that has long plagued ties between the two countries.

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The row over the Korean women forced into prostitution for Japan’s military brothels during World War Two remains the last major obstacle to better ties between the East Asian neighbors.

The two countries have been pushing to improve relations since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met President Park Geun-hye last month. That meeting took place partly under pressure from Washington, which is keen to see its two allies get along.

Kimihiro Ishikane, director-general of the Japanese foreign ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, met with his South Korean counterpart Lee Sang-deok. The two officials have held more than 10 rounds of meetings since April last year to find a common ground on resolving the issue.

The meeting is seen as preparation for Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit and meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se on Monday.

Yun said on Sunday Kishida’s visit was very important in its timing coming after more than a year and a half of high-level talks aimed at resolving the comfort women issue.

Park and Abe pledged in November to seek “the earliest possible resolution” to the issue, noting that this was the 50th year of their diplomatic relations.

Japan has said there was no change to its stance that the matter of compensation was settled by a 1965 bilateral treaty.

However, the Nikkei business daily reported that Japan would propose creating a government-backed fund to help the former comfort women as part of a possible agreement.

Abe, like many conservative Japanese politicians, had in the past criticized a 1993 apology acknowledging the role of Japanese authorities in coercing the women. As prime minister, Abe has said he stands by the statement.

South Korea has demanded fresh steps by the Japanese government that it said should be acceptable by the surviving former comfort women and the public in general, without specifying what was needed.

Tokyo wants assurances any resolution to the feud that might be reached will be final, Japanese government sources have said.

Helping to set the stage for Kishida’s visit, a South Korean court last week cleared a Japanese journalist of defaming Park. On Wednesday, its Constitutional Court also refused to review a complaint over the 1965 treaty.

More evacuations amid UK flooding

Hundreds more people have been told to leave their homes in northern England as weeks of rain continues to cause heavy flooding.

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Police in the York area 320 kilometres north of London advised more than 300 people to leave their homes because of rising river waters on Sunday.

Several hundred had been evacuated in the previous 24 hours in the West Yorkshire and Lancashire regions and officials said thousands had lost power.

The official Met Office weather service indicated on Sunday that only very small amounts of rain were expected in the flooded areas in the next day.

However, hundreds of flood warnings and alerts remain in place in parts of England and Wales.

Prime Minister David Cameron plans to convene the government’s emergency Cobra ministerial group to co-ordinate the crisis response.

The number of severe flood warnings reached 15 early on Friday afternoon and 335 alerts were in place across England, Wales and Scotland.

In response, The Met Office issued its most serious red weather warnings – danger to life – for both Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Residents in Whalley and Ribchester in Lancashire were forced to abandon homes when flood waters poured through the streets.

Todmorden in West Yorkshire was also hit with rising waters.

In Whalley on the burst banks of the River Calder some residents were evacuated by rescue boats as water levels continued to rise.

In Cumbria, already hit hard by flooding earlier this month, the rainfall has smashed records as the Lakeland region braced itself again ahead of the fresh deluge.

England bowled out for 303 in Durban

Morne Morkel took four wickets as England put up a defiant last-wicket stand before being bowled out for 303 at lunch on the second day of the first Test against South Africa in Durban on Sunday.

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The tall paceman claimed the wickets of Ben Stokes, Nick Compton, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes, out first ball, in a hostile spell of bowling as the sun came out after a rain-affected first day in which England ended at 4-179.

Kyle Abbott and Dale Steyn claimed the other wickets on Sunday while Stuart Broad (32 not out) partnered Steven Finn (12) to add 36 runs for the last wicket.

England added 124 runs to their overnight tally for the loss of six wickets on a slow track at Kingsmead.

Stokes went first, trying to pull to midwicket but skying the ball to JP Duminy at gully for 21 after coming out in positive fashion to counter the slow-scoring rate of Compton, who was 69 overnight.

The Durban-born Compton, picked at No.3 for England in his first Test in two years, played a circumspect and one-paced innings but was out for 85 off 236 balls to an uncharacteristically rash shot after he and Jonny Bairstow had scored a brisk 29 runs in six overs after the new ball was taken.

Morkel forced Compton into trying to pull a bouncer and he got an under edge through to wicketkeeper AB de Villiers.

Ali followed in Morkel’s next over as he was caught behind and Woakes was out next ball with an lbw decision upheld after review. Broad almost got a nick for Morkel’s hat trick ball after flashing at a fast delivery.

Bairstow, who had been aggressive on a spongy track, got a thick edge off Abbott and was well caught at slip by Dean Elgar for 41.

Play started 30 minutes early to make up for lost time on the first day and was extended by a further half hour with England nine down at the scheduled lunch break.

England eventually folded when Steyn trapped Finn leg before to return figures of 4-70.

Henriques hurt in Sixers’ loss to Stars

Half centuries from Glenn Maxwell and Peter Handscomb have guided Melbourne Stars to a comfortable five-wicket BBL win over Sydney Sixers after the home side’s innings was curtailed by a calf injury to captain Moises Henriques.

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The Stars made light work of their target of 140 at the SCG on Sunday, reaching the total with eight balls to spare to record their first win of the season in their third game.

Handscomb hit 52 off 40 balls before he was dismissed with just four runs required, while Maxwell struck 50 off 36 balls in a typically eye-catching innings before a crowd of 29,104.

Captain David Hussey contributed 24 off 15 to get the visitors home.

Tom Triffitt clubbed the winning boundary through mid-wicket off Doug Bollinger to move the home side to 5-143 and hand the Sixers their second loss of the season from four games.

However the Sixers could have posted plenty more Henriques not gone down with a calf injury while batting.

Henriques (41 off 34 balls) and Maddinson (25 from 21 balls) rescued the home side from a slow start after the Sixers were 2-18 in the fourth over with both openers Brad Haddin and Michael Lumb back in the pavilion.

The pair moved the scored to 78 with some lusty hitting before Maddinson was bowled by Adam Zampa in the 11th over.

Injury then struck Henriques in the 13th over as he attempted to take off for a single and his leg gave way. He made his way back into the crease but was forced to retire hurt and left the SCG in a medicab.

It is the same calf that Henriques injured in the Sheffield Shield in November, which sidelined him for a month.

Some late hitting from Jordan Silk who struck 35 off 28 balls moved the Sixers to a competitive 6-139 off their allotted 20 overs.

Maxwell said the Stars were relieved to break through for their first win of the season, especially considering they were without Kevin Pietersen who has flown back to England for the birth of his second child.

“Without probably our best player in KP in this game somebody had to stand up and me and Peter filled that void,” Maxwell said.

“I’m really, really happy we got it done as comfortably as we did in the end.”

Maddinson stood in for Henriques as Sixers’ skipper and said it was his side’s below-par batting that cost them the game.

“For me to get out and then for Moises to do his calf let them back in the game I guess,” he said.

“I thought we were probably 20 runs short and it was those few overs after my dismissal and after Moises that cost us the game.

“I’m not disappointed with how we bowled we were probably 20 runs short.”

Inspired Broad gives England the edge

Opener Dean Elgar provided stubborn resistance after Broad claimed three wickets as the hosts finished on 137 for four in reply to England’s 303.

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Elgar was unbeaten on 67 at the close after Broad removed three of his partners, including a superb delivery to dismiss the dangerous AB de Villiers caught behind.

Temba Bavuma was 10 not out with South Africa 166 runs adrift going into the third day.

Broad also snagged the wicket of Stiaan van Zyl with the second ball of the innings and had out-of-form South Africa captain Hashim Amla caught behind for seven.

Spinner Moeen Ali bowled Faf du Plessis for two, the batsman dancing down the track but missing the ball which clipped the top of the bails.

The second day in Durban tests are traditionally the preserve of the batsmen but 10 wickets fell on a sunny and breezy day after Saturday’s play was dogged by rain delays.

England could not have asked for a better start when Van Zyl, back in the side, shouldered arms to a straight ball from Broad and was bowled while Amla was squared up by Broad and caught behind by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.

De Villiers survived a controversial call for a gully catch, that was eventually ruled to have fallen short when he was on 11 but was cleverly set up by Broad who tempted him into a faint touch to a wider ball when he was on 49.

“AB was taking the game away from us slightly so we tried to put pressure on him to make score shots and the ball swung late and got more grip than I thought it would,” Broad told reporters.

Morne Morkel took four wickets before lunch as England added 124 runs to their overnight tally for the loss of six wickets. Nick Compton, 63 overnight, was one of Morkel’s victims as he went out for 85, the top score of the innings.

Morkel also dismissed Stokes, Moeen and Chris Woakes, out first ball, in a hostile spell that brought him figures of 4-76. “The first hour tomorrow will be crucial,” Morkel said. “It’s tough to score with the wicket and outfield both being slow.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond; [email protected]杭州桑拿会所,; +27828257807; Reuters Messaging: Reuters Messaging: mark.gleeson.thomsonreuters杭州桑拿会所,@reuters杭州桑拿按摩,)

Goulding leads Melbourne past Perth

Melbourne United coach Dean Demopoulos reflected on his childhood after his team’s 92-87 win over the ladder-leading Perth Wildcats with the roof open at Hisense Arena on Sunday night.

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“Some of the funnest times in my life were when I was a kid playing outside on playgrounds,” Demopoulos said.

“When I walked into the arena from the tunnel and I could feel the breeze I was a little shocked, because I didn’t think you’d be able to feel it.

“It was pretty cool, but I have to tell you, my first concern was whether the ball was going to go in or not.”

Demopoulos needn’t have worried, his star shooting guard Chris Goulding took care of that, sinking a blistering six-of-eight three-pointers on his way to 27 points and a match-winning performance.

Goulding scored 11 points in the first quarter, continued his long-range barrage in the second, and after being benched with foul trouble in the third term, delivered 10 final-quarter points that acted as the knockout blow.

“I’ve got to work on being aggressive and trying to get everyone involved. I think more so than previous years on this team I’ve need to shoulder a bit of that load,” Goulding said after wowing the capacity crowd which enjoyed the open air for the first time.

“It turned out to be a really good night, so credit to the NBL, credit to our front office staff, we must have a weatherman in the ranks who picked a great night.”

While Perth couldn’t match Goulding’s shooting, they circumvented any issues with the breeze by pumping the ball inside to dominant big men Matt Knight (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Nate Jawai (15 points).

They combined with reserve Tom Jervis to score 21 points in the first half, then Jawai and Knight notched 11 more early in the final term to put the Wildcats in a winning position.

But it was the Wildcats’ defence that had issues for much of the night.

“I thought we played Santa Claus in the first half and gave them plenty of points,” coach Trevor Gleeson said.

“We don’t play defence and they get their eye in, and they’re very hard to stop once they get their tails up.”

Melbourne were also handing out the gifts, coughing up eight second-half turnovers to the Wildcats’ pressure defence as import Casey Prather (24 points) dominated with his speed and athleticism.

Having led by 11, the home team looked in trouble trailing 71-74 with seven minutes left, but consecutive clutch jumpshots from Goulding swung the momentum, before triples from Todd Blanchfield and Goulding put United ahead for good.

Perth charged back, pulling within two points with one minute 23 seconds remaining, and a solitary point on a Prather dunk with 15 seconds to play, but Goulding and Stephen Holt (16 points, 7 assists) held their nerve from the free-throw line.

A potential game-tying triple from Wildcat Jermaine Beal sailed long.

Perth forward Greg Hire could nevertheless appreciate the importance of the sold-out open air game for the league.

“Obviously the result wasn’t the one we wanted, but it was a fantastic environment, the atmosphere was pumping,” he said.

More flee floods in Paraguay

With further rain looming, more families have abandoned their homes in Paraguay, the country hardest hit by the worst flooding in decades in the area bordering Uruguay and Argentina.

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The floods have already forced more than 100,000 people to evacuate.

The weather phenomenon El Nino has exacerbated summer rains, swelling rivers in the region. The River Paraguay, which flows by the country’s capital, Asuncion, has already reached 7.82 metres, its highest level since 1992.

Around 90,000 people have already left their homes in Asuncion. In Alberdi, about 120km further south, authorities have called for 7000 more people to evacuate because of cracks detected in the town’s levee.

“We are very uncertain about what could happen with the (flood) wall and we do not want to run any type of risk, so the population has been alerted,” said Paraguay’s minister of national emergencies, Joaqun Roa. He said, however, that many people did not want to leave their homes for fear of looting.

This year’s El Nino, which causes global climate extremes, is the worst in more than 15 years, the United Nations weather agency said last month. While it has worsened floods in some parts of South America, in others such as Colombia it has brought drought.

The Paraguayan government has declared a state of emergency in Asuncion and seven regions of the country to free up funds to help those affected. There is no official death toll yet.

Local media reported two people were electrocuted in their flooded homes and several were killed by trees falling in the storms that caused the flooding.

In northern Argentina, across Paraguay’s southern border, some 20,000 people have had to evacuate in what local authorities have called the worst flooding in 50 years.

“Fortunately, the rains have lessened, and the rivers have stopped rising,” said newly elected President Mauricio Macri, who suspended his Christmas vacation to visit the worst affected areas in Entre Ros province.

Macri, who studied to be a civil engineer, blamed the floods partly on climate change, and promised federal aid to help build housing further away from river shores and to raise flood defence walls in the area.

Next year, his government plans to focus on finding long-term solutions to the flooding problem, building new infrastructure that was long overdue, he said.

In Uruguay, the number of evacuees was 11,300, Fernando Traversa, the head of the national Emergencies Office said on Sunday. He said the situation was improving.

“Various rivers are already stabilising,” he said.

In southern Brazil, flooding has forced 1800 families to leave their homes.