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Tuesday, December 30, 2014
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Black Caps Kane Williamson, left, and Ross Taylor leave the field after yesterday’s first test win against Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval,
of the New Zealand Herald
The hits keep coming for this
New Zealand team, as they push
through previous performance
barriers in fine style.
Yesterday ’s eight-wicket win
over Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval
was achieved with more than
a day to spare and in a manner
that deser ves praise for its
substantial qualities of skill and
application from a foundation
of players having confidence in
They have ticked off five wins
in the year, a record, and six
successive test series either won
or drawn will be clocked up at
the Basin Reser ve starting on
Saturday, also new territory.
It is a far cry from a couple
of years ago when the Brendon
McCullum/Mike Hesson axis
began in ignominy in South
“I’m really pleased with the
“I thought we played a really
good test,” captain and man of
the match McCullum said last
Yesterday’s work was
When Sri Lanka started
the day, they were 10 runs in
arrears overall but there was
the possibility of making life
awkward for New Zealand in
their second innings chase on a
pitch which kept doing a bit for
Instead, Tim Southee ensured
there would be no dramas with
three early wickets, including
the important one of captain
Once some late, breezy
defiance from last pair
Shaminda Eranga and Surenga
Lakmal was ended, senior
batsmen Kane Williamson
and Ross Taylor made their
way to 105 in an unhurried,
Southee’s four wickets gave
him 33 at 26.02 for the calendar
year. He was fractionally pipped
by his new ball chum Trent
Boult who ended the year with
34 wickets at 28.58.
They shared 13 wickets in the
match, merely carrying on the
way they began the year, with 11
and 10 wickets respectively in
the two tests against India back
McCullum mentioned they
are always wanting to bowl. So
too the industrious third seamer
Neil Wagner. There is no hiding.
Players are relishing their roles.
Tired bodies gain an injection of
fresh life. Winning tends to do
that to sports people.
The skipper was lavish in his
praise of New Zealand’s newest
test venue too. He loved the
ground’s design, which has
spectators closer to the action,
and the pitch’s properties also
“I thought it was brilliant. It
certainly gets a pass mark.
“It’s nice to play a test on a
purpose-built cricket ground.
Kane and Ross were saying there
was still a bit in the pitch today.
There was bounce throughout
and once you get that, normally
a result comes into play.”
Sri Lankan captain Mathews
was left to bemoan a poor first
batting effort during which
“ we kicked ourselves out of the
His bowlers failed to take
advantages of winning the
toss in favourable bowling
conditions, but that said he
doffed his cap to McCullum’s
blistering 195 which set up the
“ You can’t do much when a
guy walks in and gets almost a
double hundred in a couple of
“It was one of the best innings
I’ve seen. He was playing like a
New Zealand are playing a
positive brand of cricket too.
That ’s intentional.
“ We want to make sure we’re
playing aggressive cricket,
trying to move the game
for ward, looking for results. You
remember test wins, not draws.
“And we’re trying to achieve
special things along the way.”
That box is repeatedly being
ticked right now.
Issues to be worked on?
The openers. Not Tom Latham
but Hamish Rutherford, who
did not take his chance on his
return to the test side. Yesterday
offered the perfect scenario for
a confidence-bolstering innings.
Instead he fended a short ball to
gully at 10.
Other wise the good ship New
Zealand is sailing along nicely
going into the New Year.
Corey Anderson replaces
Dean Brownlie in the second
test squad, but how he will be
fitted into the XI is another
Right now there is no room,
given Jimmy Neesham’s bracing
return to form with the bat, plus
a useful stint with the ball in
Southee has stitches in the
webbing of his left hand but
McCullum quipped that that
would not hamper him batting
at the Basin as “it’s his top hand
and Tim doesn’t use his top
hand so he should be okay ”.
Black Caps sitting
on six not out
PICTURE: Viv Logie
Fashion call-up at
Katie Shaw, organiser of the inaugural Fashion in the Field at the Omoto races on
Sunday, is hoping for some good fields in the fashion stakes. She contacted the
Greymouth Jockey Club to see if they were interested in holding a fashion contest as a
fundraiser for the Cancer Society Relay for Life. “ They said they had been wanting to
hold a Fashion in the Field contest for a few years, and now they have it.” She is keen
for ever yone to ‘dress up to the nines’ and enter. Entries will be taken on the day up
until race three. Categories include best dressed man and woman, best dressed boy or
girl under-15, and the best hair piece or hairdo. Prizes include CDs and DVDs for the
children, and a hamper and Stewart Nimmo voucher, while the overall winner will get
an Inter-islander travel voucher.
There comes a moment in all great
sporting careers when the puzzle fits
together and for Kei Nishikori it arrived
on a sweltering early September afternoon
in New York.
It was there that the young kohai
( Japanese for protege) humbled the master,
in this case Novak Djokovic.
Nishikori beat Roger Federer in Miami
and had Rafa Nadal on the ropes in
Madrid early in the season, but this was
against the ruthless world No 1 in the US
Open semi-final, having just played back-
Undaunted, the 24-year-old showed
Djokovic scant respect, rocking the Serb
with the force and relentless warrior-like
spirit of his play to claim a four-set
In doing so he became the first Japanese
man, and the first from an Asian country,
to reach a grand slam singles final.
Croat Marin Cilic cut Nishikori down to
size in the final but, providing the Japanese
stays clear of the injuries that haunt all top
athletes, there seems little doubt he will
contest more grand slam finals.
Japan has produced few male players to
be taken seriously and until Nishikori,
Shuzo Matsuoka had been their
benchmark in the professional era, having
reached 46th in the rankings.
Hence the reason a teenaged Nishikori
was dubbed “Project 45” when he left the
home comforts of Shimane for the endless
drills and ball-chasing at Nick Bolletieri’s
Academy in Florida.
The project can now be classified a
spectacular success even if there have been
some doubts along the way.
Nishikori bettered Matsuoka’s ranking
in 2011 but spent the next three years
hovering around the top 20 as the tennis
fraternity watched on, waiting for his
Admired for his eye-catching, attacking
shots, all that seemed to be missing was a
touch of steel.
So last December he hired former French
Open champion Michael Chang as coach
and it proved a masterstroke.
He began the year 17th in the ATP
rankings and with three career titles to his
He ended it ranked No 5, more than
doubled his career title haul with
silver ware from Memphis, Barcelona,
Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo, and qualified
for the elite ATP World Tour Finals.
Nishikori’s 11 wins this year against
players in the top 10, including beating
Andy Murray at the year-ender, was
bettered only by Djokovic and Federer.
“My goal after last season was to get into
the top 10 and make the semi-finals of a
grand slam, but I surpassed them both,”
Nishikori told the Japan Times.
“I got stronger as the season wore on in
the second half and, I have to admit, I’m
surprised by the success I had this year.”
With the fiercely competitive Chang in
his team, there is little chance of Nishikori
taking his eye off the ball once the news
season kicks off in Asia in January.
Nishikori said the American had helped
him push through barriers this year when
in the past he may have shirked the
“It had only been a few weeks after
surgery when I went to (the US Open),”
“I was still feeling pain and I didn’t want
to risk it. I didn’t want to go. But he told
me a story from his career about getting to
a grand slam semi when he had shoulder
problems. So I went to New York and I
ended up reaching the final. He constantly
tells me to believe in myself.”
With Chinese woman Li Na now retired,
Nishikori will shoulder Asian hopes next
year. “ The next goal is to win a grand slam
but I know it’s not easy to go even to the
semis or final, so it may take some time but
hopefully I can reach a grand slam final
again,” he said. — Reuters
Lance Hohaia has spoken of his regret and
disappointment over his Super League grand
final clash with Ben Flower but insists he has
put the incident to bed.
Flower, the Wigan and Wales for ward,
became the first player to be sent off in a Super
League decider and was subsequently banned
for six months for striking the St Helens half
twice on the head in the opening minutes of
October’s Old Trafford showpiece.
Former NRL player Hohaia’s grand final
contribution was restricted to less than two
minutes as he was taken off with concussion
and he was later given a one-match ban for
provoking his Wigan opponent with illegal
use of his forearm but went on to collect a
“I was disappointed with what occurred
in the grand final,” Hohaia told his club’s
website wwwsaintsrlfc.com .
“It was a big game and we’d had a tough
year. It was a chance for me to step up, lead
the team around the pitch and to be the half
“I was disappointed I didn’t get to play a
bigger role but we got the trophy in the end
so I was pretty happy about that.
“I spoke to the media after wards and said
once I walked off the field that was the end of
the incident for me. I put it to bed then and
I don’t see any reason to discuss it further.”
While Flower will miss the first three
months of the new season due to his
suspension, Hohaia will be available for
the start of St Helens’ title defence against
Catalan Dragons on February 6 after ser ving
his one-match ban in pre-season .
The 31-year-old former New Zealand
international, who has made 73 appearances
for Saints, is set for a new role in his fourth
season at the club following the signing of
Australian five-eighth Travis Burns from
Hohaia moves on from Super League clash
Former Greymouth man Lance
Pascoe, who is on the verge of national
selection, has been bowled out of the
men’s pairs at the New Zealand Bowls
Championships under way in
Pascoe, playing for the Christchurch
club Belfast, teamed up with Jamie Hill
(Manurewa) for the pairs, and had to
win all three games to qualify. In their
second match they went down 21-8 to
the Manurewa pair of George Shaw
and Brian Snookes.
Pascoe has a couple of days off before
his next competition in both the fours
and the singles.
He is knocking at the door for New
Zealand selection, having been named
in a national squad of 16, which will be
taken down to 10, with the final team of
five to be named soon.
Pascoe, 33, has been bowling since
he was in primary school, playing for
Blaketown, and has represented West
Coast and Canterbury in bowls.
“He has been knocking on the door
of national honours for a while now
and he has his foot in the door, which
is about time,” his father, Trevor Pascoe
Squads of up to 10 men and 10
women will be announced soon after
Pascoe is expected to be back in action
in Greymouth in February for the West
Liverpool ended their topsy-tur vy 2014 on
a high after two goals from Adam Lallana,
one excellent and one freakish, helped inspire
their 4-1 trouncing of Swansea today in the
last Premier League game of the year.
Brendan Rodgers, whose side came so close
to winning the title in May but have laboured
so often since, could afford a festive smile
after his side’s biggest home win of the season
which at last reprised some of the best of the
goal-hungry, early-2014 Liverpool.
Alberto Moreno both started and finished
off an excellent team move to score after 33
minutes before Lallana was gifted one of the
strangest goals of the season after 51 minutes.
Swansea keeper Lukasz Fabianski took an
age to make a clearance, then struck the ball
straight at the England midfielder only for
the ball to thump into Lallana and balloon
into the empty net.
Within a minute Swansea responded
through a close-range Gylfi Sigurdsson strike
but Liverpool soon took complete command,
Lallana scoring an authentically excellent
third in the 61st minute, ghosting past two
defenders and firing home after being freed
by a delightful flick from Philippe Coutinho.
When Jonjo Shelvey netted a 69th minute
own goal, flicking a header past his own
keeper from Jordan Henderson’s corner, it
completed a miserable night for the former
In the first half, Shelvey could have been
sent off after he lashed out with his arm and
struck Emre Can in the face right in front of
referee Andre Marriner, who ignored it.
Raheem Sterling also could have been in
hot water late in the game after a retaliatory
half-push, half-slap into the face of Federico
Fernandez but Rodgers felt neither Shelvey
nor Sterling deser ved punishment for heat of
the moment antics.
The victory, only Liverpool’s third in their
last nine Premier League games at Anfield,
pushed them into eighth place on 28 points,
jumping above Swansea on goals scored and
just five points off the top four.
Lallana felt that Liverpool had turned
a corner here after all their struggles — a
feeling Rodgers seemed to echo.
“ It ’s something we’ve been searching for
all season,” Rodgers said, of the combination
between Lallana, Coutinho and Sterling.
“There’s a lot of work to do but there’s a real
exciting second half of the season for us.”
Lallana double sees Liverpool end year on high
Pascoe falls at national champs
Warrior spirit sees
up the ranks
Alan Pardew is set to quit Newcastle
United and take over as the new manager
of Crystal Palace after being granted
permission to speak to his former club
about the move.
Crystal Palace are looking for a new boss
after sacking Neil Warnock on Saturday
and Western Sydney Wanderers coach
Tony Popovic was initially linked to a
return to struggling Premier League club
where he was previously a player and
assistant coach. — Reuters
Pardew set for change
to Crystal Palace
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