”THAT’S why he’s the Test keeper,” Mike Hussey said of Matthew Wade, who enhanced his reputation for producing runs under pressure when he took Victoria to victory over Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield game at the MCG on Saturday.
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Six days before his maiden home Test against South Africa, Wade made a feisty and unbeaten 50 that revealed many of the qualities behind his selection ahead of the experienced Brad Haddin.

Hussey, the opposing captain at the MCG, will become a Test teammate at the Gabba on Friday, and paid tribute to the calm competitiveness that should hold the 24-year-old in good stead against the formidable Proteas attack.

”He showed it again today, under pressure. That will be great for his confidence to have a bit of time in pressure situations leading into the first Test,” Hussey said.

Wade and impressive young all-rounder Alex Keath (18 not out) joined forces at 5-99, after Victoria lost three quick wickets in pursuit of the victory target of 168.

The left-hander released the shackles with three sixes – two dispatched over mid-wicket and the third hit long and straight – part of a pre-meditated plan to get after the spin of Michael Beer.

”It’s a weird feeling batting in that situation,” Wade said. ”I don’t feel really pressured, to be honest, I feel comfortable that I’ve been there before, and that if I can work with the other blokes down the other end we can get the job done.

”The wicket was doing enough to warrant that when the spin came on we had to be aggressive. I think we needed 50-odd runs when he [Beer] was bowling. If you get a couple away and all of a sudden to get it under 40 [required], it starts to look a bit nicer on the scoreboard.”

The 72-run stand between Wade and Keath completed Victoria’s come-from-behind win, by five wickets, within three days. The Bushrangers conceded first-innings points, but Clint Mckay batted them back into the match with a staunch innings of 65.

A withering second-innings bowling effort from James Pattinson (4-42) put the Warriors on the back foot. The young Test quick nicked out Adam Voges and bowled Tom Triffitt in the opening overs on Saturday, and Jayde Herrick finished off the visiting team’s second innings with two wickets in two balls.

The target of 168 looked like a tricky one when Peter Handscomb, given a torrid working over by Mitchell Johnson in the first innings, was bowled by the left-armer for eight in the second.

The Bushrangers slumped to 2-21 when captain Cameron White, on four, drove a simple catch to mid-on.

Chris Rogers and David Hussey put on 76 before Rogers was thumped on the pad by Jason Behrendorff and given out lbw for 44.

The subsequent mini-collapse gave the Warriors a whiff of hope.

Hussey chastised himself for a pull shot gone wrong, while Aaron Finch was given out lbw to Beer.

Hussey was proud of the Warriors’ effort after a turbulent week, following the Perth Scorchers’ boozy night at the Champions League and captain Marcus North’s resignation.

”It’s disappointing to go down in the end but I was actually really proud of the guys’ performance,” he said.

”We’ve had a tumultuous couple of weeks and we’ve been able to put the distractions aside and play a brand of cricket that is competitive against almost a Test-standard Victorian team and have them under pressure.

”Once we start doing the basics of the game well, and for longer, that’s when we’ll start winning games of cricket.”

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SHANE Watson is the latest victim of Australia’s compromised preparation for the major Test series against South Africa.
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The Australian vice-captain is in doubt for the Gabba Test, starting on Friday, with soreness in the same calf he injured during the winter. He bowled one over in the Sheffield Shield game against Queensland on Saturday – his only first-class fixture since the West Indies Test series in April – before talking to his state and national captain, Michael Clarke, and leaving the field for scans.

He is not the only Test batsman under an injury cloud, with ex-captain Ricky Ponting receiving treatment in Hobart for a sore hamstring.

The Watson drama presents Cricket Australia with a nightmare scenario, having consented to sending its pivotal and injury-prone all-rounder to the Champions League, in which it has a substantial commercial investment, if only for a short time.

It also presents selectors with a last-minute headache. Should Watson fail to recover they will have to decide whether to replace him with a batsman or an all-rounder. Victorian Rob Quiney (85 runs) and Tasmanian Alex Doolan (161 not out) have both performed for Australia A against the Proteas’ attack, while national selector John Inverarity has recently spoken of Andrew McDonald’s return to Test contention.

Watson’s injury comes after CA’s team performance unit was left in the dark about Pat Cummins’ back soreness during the final week of the Champions League, which turned into a season-ending bone stress injury.

CA chief executive James Sutherland admitted the preparation of several Test players had been compromised by the lucrative Twenty20 tournament, which earned the Sydney Sixers a $US2.5 million ($A2.42 million) prize but robbed the participants of valuable shield games before the Test series. CA’s own research suggests that bowlers are more vulnerable to injury when they are moving from the short formats to four or five-day matches.

”I can assure you that Test cricket is worth a lot more to us than $2.5 million, so I don’t think that commercial issue is relevant,” Sutherland said on ABC’s Grandstand.

”We took the effort and sacrificed [Watson] out of the Champions League recently in order to come back and prepare for Test cricket,” he added.

”I’m confident, in the circumstances, we have been meticulous in our preparation and planning and we are continuing to take that to a new level. In my experience as chief executive the planning around each individual player is at a higher and more sophisticated level than I have ever seen.

”There’s probably a number of players you can highlight who haven’t had an ideal preparation but it’s not as if our opponents are in a different boat … We’re doing the best we can in the circumstances.”

Cummins’ season-ending injury has reignited debate about how Australian cricket looks after its young fast bowlers.

James Pattinson, who was left out of Australia’s World Twenty20 squad to prepare for the longer formats, has no doubt short-form bowling places more strain on developing bodies.

”I tend to get a bit sorer when I do play one-day cricket because you’re trying different balls, you’re coming wide of the crease, you’re trying to bowl slower balls. Your action changes when you do that,” Pattinson said.

”The good thing about shield cricket is … you can just hit the right spot over and over again and your body can get into a rhythm.”

Pattinson, 22, described Cummins’ latest setback as ”shocking news”.

”Everyone forgets how young he actually is. He’s 19, he’s playing Test cricket, he’s bowling 150s. I was in the same position as him at 19, I had a couple of stress fractures,” he said.

”Everyone wants it to be happening right now but … if we’re just patient with him he’ll come round and his body will be fine in a couple of years.”

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AFL coaching guru Mick Malthouse says Israel Folau’s decision to quit his Greater Western Sydney contract is a “no brainer” with the Giants ready to use the salary-cap freedom to pounce on potential recruit Kurt Tippett.
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The three-time premiership winning coach thinks the loss of Folau, recruited from rugby league with a big pay cheque to raise the profile of AFL in western Sydney, is no big deal.

”It’s a great convenience for Greater Western Sydney, him out of the salary cap and Tippet in,” Malthouse said.

”It’s a no-brainer – one wasn’t equipped for the game and the other one’s a very good footballer.”

Malthouse, in Canberra on Saturday signing copies of his biography, said he didn’t think Folau proved to be a good promoter of the game. ”I admire him for changing over, he’s got some great athletic ability but he wasn’t born with a football in his hands, and it was always going to be very, very difficult, the way I saw it, to adjust to the game.

”At the end of the day you could see he was struggling with the mechanics of the game, where to get, where to stand, how to react to the game. Now he’s decided to leave … it’s a great opportunity for GWS to open up that salary cap hole for Tippett.”

Malthouse takes the reins at Carlton on Monday but said, as a long line of Canberrans queued to get their copy of his biography autographed at Dymocks Belconnen, the decision on whether Carlton would play in the capital wasn’t up to him.

With the Blues finishing 10th in the premiership this season, Malthouse’s priority is returning them to the top eight.

”It’s going to be a big challenge, but I took Collingwood over when they were on the bottom, West Coast were 11th of 14 clubs, and Bulldogs were well down the ladder, so it’s not foreign to take on challenges and this one will be a beauty.”

The Carlton job is the epilogue to his biography, a ”warts and all” story of his life in football, written by his daughter Christi Malthouse.

”It’s our family’s life in football – so it’s dad’s journey in football, his career and his early start in football, right through to even now, getting back into Carlton,” Christi Malthouse said. ”It is written through my eyes, so it includes the private side of football, as well [as those things] you rarely get to hear about.”

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THE Jets suffered their second loss in three games on Saturday after a Rebekah Stott goal on half-time condemned the Newcastle side to a 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory and last place on the W-League table.
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It was a match to forget for Jets defender Stacey Day who received two yellow cards within three minutes to all but end any chance of a late Newcastle fightback, as the Victory’s numerical advantage proved too strong.

In a free-flowing attacking match, Newcastle looked nervy in defence throughout the contest as coach Wayne O’Sullivan set a high defensive line that enabled the Victory to send through balls behind the Jets defence. The Jets were not without chances themselves however, as the game flowed from end to end early.

Newcastle started the match well, dominating possession for the opening minutes, and could have led after a clear goal-scoring chance to Gema Simon. She spurned the chance, a victim of poor decision-making in front of goal, as she sent the ball across goal instead of shooting from a tight angle.

Melbourne started to enter the game as their experienced midfield exploited space down left and right Newcastle flanks. Their young goalkeeper Eliza Campbell kept them in the match with a string of brave saves.

Newcastle will be upset with the goal, conceded just before half-time as the Jets lost concentration and their marking went missing.

The victory was timely for Melbourne who had had little to celebrate this season after suffering the double blow of losing captain Louisa Bisby and Ash Brown, both suffering season-ending knee injuries. This was compounded by the misery of consecutive losses to Brisbane and Perth.

Newcastle were desperate for victory after scraping a point in their 3-3 draw with Sydney before their 5-0 capitulation last week to Canberra, but will have to wait another week yet to record their first win of the campaign.

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Winners are grinners: Anthony Cummings after the Derby. Damien Oliver salutes on Fiveandahalfstar
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TRAINER Anthony Cummings emerged on Saturday from the illustrious shadow of his father, Bart, to win his first Victoria Derby with a little-known stayer that he bred and part-owns and knew was bound for great things.

A $41 chance, Fiveandahalfstar raced on the speed and after taking control of the race with 400 metres to go clearly outstayed his rivals.

Cummings said moments after the three-year-old gave him his first Victoria Derby that he’d seen his father win six derbies as a boy, and ”now I know how good the feeling is”.

”I always knew he had ability and I was always convinced he would run the distance, but it was just a matter if time was on our side. I knew he fitted into the spring carnival but whether it was next Thursday or in the Derby, I knew he would be extremely hard to beat. And really, I’m glad it was today and not Thursday that we settled on.”

Fiveandahalfstar wasn’t given the tried-and-true build-up events before the Derby, with Cummings preferring to keep him in Sydney before the four days of the Flemington Spring Carnival.

But he said he had always wanted his young horses to shuttle between his Melbourne and Sydney stables. ”I think it’s important that they get the experience of being in both stables, so it just rounds them off and is an important feature of their young education. He is a nice horse and he is obviously an above-average stayer. He has got a fairly bold running style, much like his old man, Hotel Grand, who was like that.

”We probably never really saw the best of Hotel Grand but he was a really quality racehorse and one of the best I have trained, and it’s nice to get one of his sons to come here and do the job.”

Cummings said his final push to start Fiveandahalfstar in the Derby came after considering the situation of the favourite, It’s A Dundeel.

”I was looking at It’s A Dundeel and I thought that he was going to be pretty tough to beat, but seeing him getting beaten at Moonee Valley last Saturday [in the Vase] just opened the door,” he said.

It’s A Dundeel ($2.70 favourite) simply had too much to do on Saturday, settling towards the tail of the field in a fast-run race and conceding the front pack too much start. He eventually finished seventh.

Fiveandahalfstar was a noted drifter in the market, blowing from $25 to $41, but after a clever ride by jockey Damien Oliver he proved the superior stayer.

”We had a chat on Wednesday morning after working him and we came to the conclusion that we should run him [Fiveandahalfstar] because he worked well, said Oliver.

”With the favourite getting beaten [at Moonee Valley, the race] was opened up and usually Anthony doesn’t need much talking to to run in races, but I’m glad I did with this one.”

Oliver said the Victoria Derby was a much sought after classic for any jockey. ”You don’t get many cracks at running in a Derby and I thought it was a real worthwhile punt,” he said.

”I had a nice run in behind the leader but he was just a bit keen when I was inside Super Cool, so I just let him slide up in front of him and when he got his own way he switched off beautifully.”

Fiveandahalfstar scored by 1? lengths from Super Cool ($6), with Rawnaq ($101) three-quarters of a length away third.

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