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Punter fails as Windies bounce back

A REJUVENATED West Indies outfit yesterday declared they were ready to pull off one of the greatest turna-rounds in Test history this weekend after a stunning batting collapse left Australia facing Perth calamity for the second successive year.Ricky Ponting’s late attempt to prevent catastrophe failed when it took his nemesis Kemar Roach just three balls to dismiss the injured captain, who had come in late at No.9 to stem the meltdown.Australia were reeling at 8-137 at stumps but believe they will be able to defend their eventual lead, which presently stands at 345 runs.A spellbinding bowling display by the Windies invoked memories of last year’s loss to South Africa at the same ground when a second-innings lead of 410 was not enough.All-rounder Dwayne Bravo said Australia were now in the hot seat.”We have the batters in our line-up to actually chase down 360-plus runs, with a day-and-a-half to go, at this point in time we will back ourselves,” he said. ”A lot has been said coming to Perth; it’s going to be bouncy, we wouldn’t stand a chance here down at the WACA. After the way we played in Adelaide [to draw the second Test] – that really helped our confidence.”We know the Australians are under a lot of pressure to perform well, some of the players in the team are also under pressure, so that’s good for us. We have nothing to lose.”Ponting (2) could do little as paceman Roach fired two short balls into his body before he deflected the third to Travis Dowlin at short leg.Nathan Hauritz (11 not out) and Clint McKay (1no) occupied the crease at stumps on a helter-skelter day that saw 16 wickets fall.While not nearly as strong in their batting as the Proteas, Windies captain Chris Gayle has shown already in this series he is an unstoppable force with momentum and could spark one of the most remarkable comebacks after losing inside three days in the opening Test at Brisbane.Ponting had resisted batting in an attempt to rest the elbow injured by Roach in the first innings but was forced to pad up as wickets fell in a steady stream. Roach clearly had his measure and Ponting hurled his bat into the dressing room in fury afterwards.The Windies bowlers rolled through the Australian card to set up an enthralling finale to the series, with Shane Watson making the highest score of 30.Sulieman Benn had his revenge by dismissing rival Brad Haddin while Bravo was superb with three wickets.Meanwhile, a secret boxing training regime helped Doug Bollinger produce a knockout spell earlier in the day that has thrown the race for Australian fast bowling spots wide open, with selectors facing an extremely difficult choice ahead of the Boxing Day Test when Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus should be available for selection.Bollinger demolished the Windies with his first five-for in a Test match, collecting 5-70 in what he described as ”the ultimate” as the visitors crashed for 312. Bollinger was shattered after missing Australia’s Ashes squad and decided to work on his fitness, turning to boxing training in the belief he could cement a spot in the national side through consistently long spells without dipping in pace.Offered the chance to play county cricket, Bollinger instead chose to remain in Sydney and embark on a new 10-week fitness regime under trainer Christian Marchegiani – who also trains Haddin – at Thump gym in Five Dock, losing weight and gaining stamina for sustained fast spells.The hard work was evident yesterday as Bollinger fired in whizzing deliveries that repeatedly missed the edge, bowling 20 overs with no loss of sting.Prior to this series, Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson had been identified as the three clear pace standouts in the country, but Bollinger’s latest effort should put him level with the top three.”That’s the last thing I need to think about,” Bollinger said. ”If I start thinking too much about selections and having to take wickets every time I play, I’ll just go insane.”Hopefully I just keep doing well and putting my name forward. I’ve been out of the team, and when you get back in the team it’s the best buzz in the world.”[Playing in the Boxing Day Test] would just be the ultimate, with 90,000 people there and the whole aspect of the Test is just amazing, it would mean a lot to me.”But Bollinger’s delight was cut short as his teammates went to the crease and kept returning in quick time, and he is aware that the stage will be set for him to lead Australia to victory.”We shouldn’t be eight down to be completely honest, but that’s the game, that’s cricket,” he said. ”We’ve just got to turn up positive â?¦ we’ve just got to come out and be aggressive and try to get as many as we can for the team.”
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Pipped at the post in a year that wasn’t

Wrote one of those predictions columns at the start of the year. The space filler in the Christmas edition. Before taking a not-particularly-well-earned break, thought I would see how I went:* ”Expect man to run 100 metres in less than 9.5 seconds.” Figured it would be Usain Bolt, who could only jog a 9.58. Turned out to be Tiger Woods while being chased by a club-wielding wife. One from one.* ”Australia will comprehensively outplay England and win Ashes.” If you take the Ricky Ponting approach and focus on the averages rather than results, you will find that eight out of the nine words in that prediction were bang on (an outstanding 88.88 per cent strike-rate.) Australia comprehensively outplayed England and somehow lost the Ashes. Like Australia – near enough.* ”Serena Williams will reassert her dominance because she is one female tennis player who never chokes.” Technically correct. Williams only threatened to choke a lineswoman in New York by shoving a ball down her ”f—ing throat”. (Although, if you believe Williams and the feather duster-wielding officials who refused to impose a ban, what she really said was: ”I’m gonna take this ball and feed it to a frolicking goat. They get very hungry you know!”) Pass.* ”More defecations to rock the NRL.” This was a typo. Was actually predicting more defections to rugby union (you can throw in Karmichael Hunt who, after a stint with a French rugby club, a holiday and a haircut, might turn up to start earning his seven-figure pay cheque from the AFL’s Gold Coast franchise). But since Sydney Roosters forward Nate Myles mistook a hotel floor for a portaloo, it works both ways.* ”The impending showdown between AFL and soccer for corporate and spectator support will be settled when a compromise rules game is invented.” Thank you Thierry Henry for rising above the petty squabbles and showing the warring codes the way forward. Handsoccer! Tick.* ”Hooker will cause heartache for star athlete.” Take your pick. I am settling on Frenchman Romain Mesnil, who was the runner-up in the pole vault at the IAAF World Championships.* ”After the Shark’s bitter divorce, Greg Norman and Chris Evert will lead long and happy lives.” Hey, I didn’t say it would be together. Since neither was hit by a bus – or Laura Andrassy’s Beamer – still on track for a perfect score.* ”Tennis will again be a blast for Dokic.” Jelena’s Australian Open renaissance gets this one over the line. But if Damir’s personal weapons cache had not been seized, I would have really nailed it.* ”Kiwi coach Robbie Deans will finally bring all the attributes and success expected of New Zealand to the Wallabies.” Which he did, if you are talking about the success expected of the New Zealand cricket team. Check.* ”Superman will finally overcome kryptonite.” Roger Federer won the French Open. On clay. Sure, Lex Luthor (Rafael Nadal) took an early bullet. But this stacks up.* ”An international star will be involved in a particularly hair-raising moment.” Could I have made it any more obvious that Andre Agassi would reveal that he had worn a mullet wig during the 1990 French Open final? And still not too late for Pim Verbeek to provide a bonus point by shaving off that comb-over.* ”A 59 will not be quite good enough to win the British Open in the final round.” This was a copy-editing mistake. I actually wrote, ”a 59-year-old will not be quite good enough.” Tom Watson lost in a play-off. Are you with me?* ”Although key forwards have not been prominent recently, expect a big showing from Brendan Fevola at the Brownlow Medal.” Drank plenty of Carlton products, but is no longer one himself. Starting to make Nostradamus look like Mr Magoo here. Tick.* ”Mark Webber will fail to crash, retire, hit a school crossing guard or have to pull over when the air bag suddenly inflates during at least one grand prix.” Yes! Yes! Yes! Ohhhh yes!* ”Bart Cummings will win his 13th Melbourne Cup.” There goes the perfect score. What a miserable failure that old geezer turned out to [email protected]南京夜网.au
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Morocco ends exile of Western Sahara activist

ARRECIFE, Spain: The Western Sahara independence activist Aminatou Haidar is declaring a victory after being allowed to return home, ending her month-long hunger strike in protest at being exiled.Ms Haidar, 42, was released from hospital in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands on Thursday night and immediately headed to the airport in an ambulance before boarding a plane heading for the Western Sahara.”This is a triumph for international law, for human rights, for international justice and for the cause [of Western Sahara]” she said as she left the clinic.”The first thing I am going to do when I arrive will be to kiss my mother and my two children.”She had been admitted to intensive care after stopping eating more than a month ago, when Morocco denied her entry into the disputed territory.After being turned back from her homeland, the award-winning activist was put on a plane and sent to Lanzarote, where she started her hunger strike. She continued her hunger strike in intensive care.A medically equipped plane – fitted out to treat Ms Haidar, who was rushed to hospital shortly after midnight on Wednesday – took off from the island late on Thursday.It touched down shortly after midnight yesterday in Laayoune, the main city in Western Sahara. The phosphate-rich territory has been a source of tension since Morocco annexed it after the withdrawal of Spain in 1975.The annexation sparked a war with the Polisario Front, which is backed by Algeria. The two sides agreed to a ceasefire in 1991 but talks sponsored by the United Nations have made no progress since then.Morocco has pledged to grant the territory autonomy but rules out independence.The details of the agreement that finally led Ms Haidar heading back were not immediately clear, but Spain’s Government had vowed to work around the clock to find a solution to the situation, which had embarrassed it.Agence France-Presse
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Obama’s health bill stumbles in Senate

WASHINGTON: The signature bill of Barack Obama’s first year – health reform that curbs costs and picks up 30 million uninsured people – is looking sick.The likelihood of a US Senate vote before Christmas is fading, amid stalling tactics by the Republicans and objections from liberal Democrats.A delay over the Christmas break could be extremely dangerous as senators will return home to their states, facing an increasingly worried public. But it would also be a crushing blow to the President, who desperately needs a win.Two new polls show that support for Mr Obama’s health care reform is ebbing in the face of a barrage of negative advertising from interest groups. A Wall Street Journal poll found that only 32 per cent of Americans think it a ”good” idea. A Washington Post poll found that only 35 per cent of independents support it, down 10 points in a month.There is also pressure on the Administration from progressives who are bitterly disappointed that the Senate version has stripped out a public insurance option in favour of private subsidised care, and curtailed plans to expand Medicare, a government-funded program for seniors.This week former presidential candidate and medical practitioner, Howard Dean, called on Democrats to walk away from the latest proposal saying it did not achieve the reforms promised and amounted to the ”insurance companies’ dream”.The latest salvo came on Thursday from the head of the powerful Service Employees International Union, Andy Stern, who criticised the decision to sacrifice the public option and Medicare expansion.There were also rumblings on the right of the Democrats.One conservative senator, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who unsuccessfully proposed an amendment on abortion, was threatening to vote against the bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid needs all 58 Democrats and the two independents to vote to end debate and prevent a Republican filibuster.He has limited senators to 10 minutes each to speak on the bill, but time is running out. When the acting speaker, Democrat Al Franken, tried to impose the 10-minute rule on independent Joe Lieberman, Republican John McCain saw red.Debate had not been cut off in this way in the 27 years he had been in the Senate, he said.Democrats are now looking at a possible vote at 7pm on Christmas Eve – but even that might be ambitious.
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Five dead, huge toll of animals as livestock boat sinks

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Rescuers were continuing the search for dozens of people still missing after a freighter sank in stormy seas off the northern coast of Lebanon with more than 80 people on board, including one Australian.A Lebanese military spokesman said 38 crew members had been found alive and four bodies were pulled from the water after the Panamanian-flagged Danny F II, which was transporting livestock, sank in bad weather.The weather and thousands of dead animals floating in the water were hampering their efforts.”We have recovered 42 people, among them four dead,” he said. He added that the search operations had been widened early yesterday to international waters near Syria.”We have two Lebanese naval ships, two civilian vessels, as well as boats from the UN force stationed in Lebanon (UNIFIL) taking part in the search,” he said.A rescue official said that one of those found alive had died after being pulled out of the sea, taking the death toll to five.”The sea conditions were rough and we couldn’t get him to hospital in time,” he said.One of the survivors, a Filipino national, told rescuers that the British captain of the vessel, which was heading from Uruguay to the Syrian port of Tartous, had been killed.”He told us that the ship’s engine went down and the captain sounded the alarm and told everyone to jump in the water,” a rescue official recounted. ”He said that 10 minutes after they jumped, the ship overturned sideways in very high waves and sank with the captain still on board.”Taking part in the search were Syrian boats as well as a British rescue helicopter which flew from Cyprus. ”The sea conditions are rough and we need to find the survivors quickly because they run the risk of hypothermia,” a Tripoli port official said.The military spokesman said the crew had time to put on their flotation jackets. The ship overturned about 20 kilometres off Tripoli after sending a distress signal.It had changed course and was trying to reach the Lebanese capital Beirut when it capsized.The ship left Montevideo on November 23 with about 10,000 sheep and almost 18,000 cattle.All of the animals were presumed lost.Agence France-Presse
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