The Northern Territory news Mon 4 Feb 2019
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38 SPORT MONDAY FEBRUARY 4 2019 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 Pace ace finds his own way to form BEN HORNE It probably wore me down a bit going into New Years M I T C H E L L S T A R C Handful of reasons Aussies can defeat Poms the West Indies. Here are five reasons for Australian fans to think their team is capable of an upset. OPEN SEASON With Alastair Cook retiring, England lacks a decent opening batsman for the first time in four decades. GOOD NOT GREAT The fact that England bats down to No.10 creates an illusion they are a fine batting side. But they tend to accumulate rather than dominate. HOME TOWN BLUES England plays well at home but is prone to the occasional dreadful stumble. Since Australia last toured England four years ago India, Pakistan (three times), South Africa and the West Indies have all won Tests in England. THE AGEING WARRIOR Magnificent Jimmy Ander son has been the most successful swing bowler the game has seen but at some point he has to fade. By the first Test of the Ashes he will be 37. LOW EXPECTATIONS When Australia won four series in a row against England between 1989 and 2001 it created an aura which suggested Australia would win every series. But thats gone now. England will be expected to win. Khawaja tells of personal struggle BEN HORNE WHO would you rather be the team with no all-rounder or the one with six of them? This is the fascinating match-up that awaits us in this years Ashes series between a fragile Australian side and a suddenly shattered England who have been ripped apart in two Test match spankings in ROBERT CRADDOCK ANALYSIS MITCHELL Starc says he put 450 armchair coaches to one side and looked within for the inspiration behind his blazing form turnaround in Canberra. The form of the Australian spearhead has been one of the talking points of the entire summer, and Starc admits he had to work hard to put the outside voices from his mind. Starc ripped through the Sri Lankan lower order, taking 5-54 to help the Australians bowl out the visitors for 215. The hosts reached 3-196 (dec) in reply in their second dig, Usman Khawaja unbeaten on 101. Sri Lanka was 0-17 in its second innings at stumps, still 499 behind with two days to play. Former teammate Mitchell Johnson who has publicly criticised Starc this summer was among those trusted confidants he turned to, but in the end Starc realised it was down to him. Starc made the frank admission before producing his express five-wicket haul on day three that he didnt believe his position in the Australian attack ahead of the Ashes was safe. But on the last weekend of the summer the 200-Test wicket-taking machine gave a timely reminder of what he was capable of. Ive been working on it a fair bit over the last bit. I had a really nice session with Andre Adams (NSW bowling coach) before the Sri Lankan series and talked to a few people quite close to me who I have worked with over recent years, Starc said. And putting the rest of the coaching and the other 450 coaches Ive had over the past three weeks to the side and going back to what I know best. I am my own best coach and I know whats best for me. Starc has been under siege from Shane Warne this summer and struggled to inject himself on flat wickets in Melbourne and Sydney when the series against India was on the line. Against Sri Lanka in the first Test at the Gabba, he appeared like his confidence had been affected. Starc said it was difficult to simply get back to shutting out the noise around him. Thats probably something Ive really done the past four weeks. Not worry about it, Starc said. It probably wore me down a bit going into New Years, then I got off all the social media and I havent read a paper in four or five weeks. Thats been the best thing for me, and its made me feel quite refreshed. As long as I know I have the backing of my teammates and Im working hard, it will turn eventually. If youre doing the right thing it can feel like its a long way away but things turned pretty quickly for me today. Australias bowling has been ferocious in this Test, with Starc regularly hitting 150km/h and Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson striking Sri Lankan batsmen in the helmet in some sickening blows. Australia's Usman Khawaja celebrates his century during day three of the second Test match between Australia and Sri Lanka at Manuka Oval, Canberra Picture: PHIL HILLYARD USMAN Khawaja has opened up about the enormous personal toll his brothers arrest has taken on him this summer as he celebrated an emotional breakthrough hundred in Canberra. The star batsman hasnt looked himself over the past couple of months and last night the suffering experienced by the committed family man was laid bare as he paid tribute to wife, Rachel, for the support she has given him during one of the toughest experiences of his life. Khawajas brother Arsalan was charged over an alleged fake counter-terrorism plot back in early December and was re-arrested at the end of that same month for breaching his bail conditions. Test great Shane Warne had called on selectors to drop both Khawaja and Mitchell Starc for the final Test against Sri Lanka, but yesterday both of Australias twin engines fired back to life and guaranteed their places in the Ashes squad later this year. Its been tough. Its something you dont expect to happen. My family is very close to me and Im very close to my family, so on some level, yeah, I think it made it tougher to go out and concentrate and execute my skills, said Khawaja, who scored a classy 101 notout with 14 fours yesterday. While I was playing cricket, you forget about everything. By the same token its very taxing and it has been very taxing mentally. Thats why I say Rach has been great, being around and trying to take my mind off things. Fate conspires to derail Thunder SYDNEY Thunder skipper Shane Watson shrugs his shoulders when asked about his sides Big Bash League season, which has been plagued by misfortune. Its just the reality of cricket and the reality of life, a philosophical Watson said. The Thunders season came to an end at the hands of crosstown rivals the Sydney Sixers in a nine-wicket derby loss at the SCG on Saturday. While still a mathematical chance of making the finals, Thunder would require a minor miracle to make it. The Thunder will only advance if it wins its last game against the Hobart Hurricanes, the Melbourne Stars lose their last three and Adelaide picks up only one win from its remaining two fixtures. But things could have been very different were it not for two fateful clashes against the Brisbane Heat. Back in early January the Thunder was set an imposing 187 for victory by the Heat, however, the game was called off just five overs into the run chase because of rain, and Brisbane won under the Duckworth-Lewis method. Then later that month the return clash was abandoned, and the points split, after a light tower at the Gabba failed, despite the fact the Thunder was well on top at the time. Sixers peaking at just the right time THE Sydney Sixers have fired a shot across the bow of the rest of the Big Bash League, insisting theyre yet to hit their stride. Just over a week out from the semi-finals, the secondplaced Sixers are arguably the form team of the competition after notching their fourth straight win on Saturday a nine-wicket victory over the Sydney Thunder. In second spot with only their final-round fixture against the Melbourne Stars remaining, the Sixers are in the box seat to lock up a home semi-final. They have now emerged as the ladder-leading Hobart Hurricanes main rivals for this years title. Opener Daniel Hughes, who starred in their comfortable win over the Thunder at the SCG with 41 not out, said the side still hadnt discovered its potential. That is four on the trot, Hughes said. Weve been trying to string a couple of games together for a couple of years now. Its nice to get it done at the back end of the tournament. Were peaking at the right time. I still think we havent played our complete game yet. The Sixers will spend the next four days in Hobart on a bonding trip before turning their attention to their pursuit of a second BBL title.
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