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Friday, February 14, 2014 - 11
PICTURE: Getty Images
Graeme Smith of South Africa is all at sea, and out, to this ball from Mitchell Johnson.
Centurion, South Africa
It will arguably rank among
the modern game s best opening
spells and forever be etched into
the memory of all present, none
more so than South Africa captain
With four incredible overs on
day two, Mitchell Johnson gave
Australia a vice-like grip on the
opening test with a brutal barrage
that was near unplayable on a
bouncy Centurion pitch.
When Faf du Plessis fell victim
in the eighth over to a 151kph
thunderbolt, Johnson boasted
figures of 3-5 and had set the
wheels in motion for the Proteas to
be 6-140 at stumps --- 257 runs in
"I can t remember seeing four
overs like that in a very long time,"
Michael Holding, who was calling
the game, told AAP. "I ve seen
other spells, later in a game, when
bowlers have really charged in
and frightened the dear life out of
batsmen and got a few wickets.
"But Mitchell Johnson was just
"I presume Michael Clarke told
him: don t hold anything back.
"It s great when you have the
ability to bowl fast, but it s even
better when you can put the ball
where you need to on a regular
basis." First in the firing line was
Smith, who looked comfortable
taking 10 runs from the opening
over bowled by Ryan Harris. Smith,
whose hand Johnson has broken
twice, was ungainly in his belated
attempt to take evasive action and a
menacing ball directed at his skull
hit the bat handle instead.
Alviro Petersen s self-inflicted
dismissal was next, the opener s
attempted cut gifting Brad Haddin
a regulation catch. Unsure if he
should come for ward or rock
back to a rising ball on a perfect
length, du Plessis then jutted his
bat tentatively and the edge flew to
Michael Clarke at second slip.
"I don t think any right-hander
would have managed that ball,"
Holding said. Johnson later
removed Ryan McLaren s off
stump and held a great catch in
the deep to remove J P Duminy.
A B de Villiers (52 not out) was
the only local to offer substantial
resistance and did it in style ---
hooking Johnson for a six when the
32-year-old returned for his second
De Villiers, who was hit on the
forearm by Johnson, and Robin
Peterson (10 not out) face an
immense task when play resumes
" ere were a few cracks out
there early on," said Johnson, who
finished with figures of 4-51.
"I didn t feel like the ball was
swinging, so my plan was to bang
the wicket hard and it came off."
Johnson, who hit a quick-fire 33
with the bat before Dale Steyn
(4-78) cleaned up the tail, was
quick to credit centurions Shaun
Marsh and Steve Smith for putting
Australia on top. Marsh and Smith
took almost five hours to compile a
233-run partnership, a record fifth-
wicket test stand for the venue that
boosted Australia s total to 397.
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e countdown to the Cricket
World Cup has officially begun, with
the unveiling of a clock in downtown
Auckland this morning.
e large cricket ball-shaped digital
clock marks exactly one year to the eve
of the opening match between New
Zealand and Sri Lanka at Christchurch s
It was unveiled by Auckland mayor
Len Brown at Queen s Wharf, as some
of international cricket s biggest names
And then the party truly kicked off,
as the tournament s ambassador Sir
Richard Hadlee took on Australia s
Dean Jones for a few bowls, with
crowds of aspiring young cricket fans
e kids were having a ball as they
notched up the autographs of their
favourite cricketers, including Sir
Richard, Jones, Martin Crowe and
Martin Guptill, among others.
Jack Trickett and Charlie Bent, both
eight-years-old, said they were excited
to have the competition come to their
"I wan t to go to lots of games, and I
hope New Zealand wins," said Charlie,
who had numerous autographs scrawled
on the back of his Grafton United
Cricket Club jersey.
When Bollywood Bhangra s Nachda
Punjab Crew performed live, getting the
crowd jumping, India s Sunil Gavaskar
joined in, dancing with the band.
In the middle of the chaos stood
a shining World Cup, perched on a
block surrounded by people posing for
photograph beside the coveted trophy.
e event, to be jointly hosted by
New Zealand and Australia next year,
was important for the country, said Sir
" e fact that we re sharing the games
with Australia, pretty well 50/50, is an
outstanding result for New Zealand,"
"Every team in the competition will
be playing at least one game in New
Zealand so fans from all around the
world who are supporting their team
will hopefully come to New Zealand."
He said the tournament will be good
for the country, the economy and cricket
as a whole, particularly local cricket.
But there was an "extra incentive" for
the Kiwi lads to win the cup, he said,
"particularly on our home patch".
" ere will be pressure there, but
there s home advantage with conditions,
pitches, the environment --- we ve got
to maximise all that."
Organisers and cricketers alike claim
the tournament will be the most
watched sporting event of 2015.
Crowe said it was a "thrill" to have it in
his home country for the first time since
1992, and said he was sure everyone
would get behind the team.
"It s fantastic to have it back on home
shores, and I m sure the two countries
will combine beautifully to make
something special," he said, adding that
old rivalries will be put to one side.
But only until New Zealand play
Australia, he said.
" at would be great, particularly if
it s the grand final. at s the one we re
hoping for." --- APNZ
Countdown to World Cup
COAST TO COAST
Robin Judkins arrived at Serpentine
beach before dawn today, blowing
the hooter to start the Speight s
Coast to Coast two-day race for the
Having sold the franchise for the
world-renowned race he created in
1983, Judkins was still as enthusiastic
as ever this morning, shaking hands
and greeting competitors as they
arrived at the beach.
He said he had mixed feelings
about leaving the event behind.
"It s been great the past few weeks,
thinking of the stress that will go.
But at the same time it s very sad.
Over half my life has been spent on
it."Judkins was making the most of
the occasion today, going through
his routine of thanking the crew and
personally greeting athletes.
"It s the last time I ll shake
everyone s hands."
After 32 years of running the race,
considered to be one of the premier
multisport events in the world,
Judkins was ready to pass the torch.
"I m extremely pleased to be able to
hand it over."
He was confident that the new
organisers, Queenstown company
Trojan Holdings, would take care of
"Oh, they know what they re
However, Judkins still expects to keep
up some involvement, even though
he will no longer be in charge of the
Despite handing on the baton for the
Coast to Coast, he said he would not
be slowing down, with a book in the
offing, an art exhibition in September
and a few other undisclosed things in
the on the go.
PICTURE: Nicholas McBride
Speight s Coast to Coast race guru Robin Judkins chats with competitors Dick Dinsdale, of Wellington, and Greg and
Michael Lieshout, of Pukekohe, before the start of the two-day race on Serpentine beach this morning.
Judkins bows out
PICTURE: Nicholas McBride
Aucklander Karen Riordan makes quick work of the transition on to her bike
after the first 3km run from Serpentine beach at the start of the Speight s Coast
to Coast two-day race early this morning.
Shaun Johnson once played for a
touch team called Kryptonite.
A bit like the substance that
weakened Superman if he touched it,
many were rendered powerless in their
efforts to get near Johnson on a touch
He could dance, jink and weave his
way through defenders and, if that
wasn t enough, outsprint them, too.
Johnson caught the eye, representing
North Harbour at touch, and it was
a large part of the reason why the
Warriors signed him up as an 18-year-
old in 2009.
Five years later he will return in
part to his roots when he plays in this
weekend s Auckland Nines at Eden
Park. He will have space to dance,
jink and weave again, only this time
opposition players can leave a much
bigger impression on him than merely
But Johnson is expected to feature
prominently in a tournament that
has invigorated the rugby league pre-
Most clubs have opted to rest their
top-line players who took part in last
year s World Cup as they manage their
workload but there was little doubt
Johnson would play.
"Shaun just about knocked my door
down wanting to play," Warriors coach
Matt Elliott says.
He has even been named Warriors
captain for the two-day tournament
and the halfback has played a leading
hand in helping put the Warriors
"I think my background will give
me an advantage," Johnson says. "I am
feeling a little more confident about
the weekend than a lot of others.
ere s a lot more room than for a
normal game. I think it will help and
hopefully we can use some of the tools
I used in touch.
"I want to win because this could
really set the tone for the year so I
will be doing anything and everything
to try to give us that edge. It s going
to be an awesome occasion. It s the
unknown for everyone so I m not sure
one person can come in with more
wisdom than others but in terms of
making sure everyone is on the same
page and not forcing it, letting things
happen naturally, I think that s where
I can really help out."
A look at a youtube video of Johnson
playing in the 2007 and 2008 national
secondary school touch tournaments
shows the game came naturally for
"It was the sport I liked the most,
purely for the fact I was too small to
play rugby league," he says. " e only
thing that stopped me from playing
touch is that it was never going to be
a career. You could never make a living
out of it. If it was a professional sport,
"It was awesome. I appreciate it a lot
more now that I am in this position
and I can look back and see what it s
done for my game."
He weighed just 68kg when he
arrived at Mt Smart Stadium. He
was soon anointed as the next Stacey
Jones, the next Benji Marshall and
former Australian halfback Andrew
Johns said in 2009, "I haven t been this
excited about a player in a long time".
e Warriors took a patient approach
with him, refusing to bow to calls for
Johnson to play for the first-grade side
until 2011, as he learned his trade and
He is now 92kg but does not appear
to have lost any of his speed or agility.
He s still learning the game --- last year
made progress in his ability to control
matches --- and the Warriors last
weekend signed him to a new four-
year deal which will see him remain at
the club until at least the end of 2017.
A fortnight ago, Johnson played
touch for the first time in about two
years with his friends from school.
"I had so much fun," he says. "It was
just like old times. We were calling all
these touch moves we hadn t heard in
so long and it brought back all these
e difference from five years
ago, however, was they were beaten.
Johnson will hope his kryptonite
works better this weekend. --- APNZ
Johnson hopes he s the Warriors Superman
e New Zealand women s football
team fell to their second straight
one-goal defeat at the Yongchuan
International Women s Invitational
Tournament in China when they were
beaten 1-0 by Korea DPR overnight.
e loss, thanks to a goal in the 43rd
minute, is just the second time the
Football Ferns have recorded back-to-
back defeats in 14 games dating back
to the London Olympics in July 2012.
ey were also beaten by China 1-0 in
their opening game at the tournament.
"In many respects, it was similar to
the first game," coach Tony Readings
said. "We controlled possession and
dictated play without converting that
pressure into goals.
"We created a few more chances
this time but were unable to put them
away and we got caught on a sucker
punch when we gave the ball away in
our defensive third and weren t able to
regroup in time."
New Zealand will round out their
tournament against Mexico tomorrow
night and Readings said they will
continue to pursue their goal of
playing possession-based football,
despite the two defeats.
" e players are frustrated. ey
know they ve been the better team in
both games but have come out on the
wrong end of the result. But we ve got
our objectives and we want to keep
developing our attacking play.
"We re looking at the bigger
picture, which is heading towards
the Olympics in Rio in 2016, so we ll
just take the great learnings from this
game and move forwards."
e result was a dramatic
improvement on the last time New
Zealand played North Korea --- they
went down 11-0 in Brisbane in 2004.
" e team have developed a massive
amount since then," Readings said. "If
you look at the performance today,
we can be dominant against a top-10
side in the world and, if you go back
to 2004, we would have struggled to
keep the ball and we would have been
hanging on. at shows how far this
team has come." --- APNZ
Football Ferns frustrated in defeat
On a green wicket the
Indian tourists soon had
New Zealand in all sorts
of trouble in the second
test, after winning the
e Indian bowlers
ripped in to the New
Zealand top order and
it crumbled before the
At lunch New Zealand
was 51 for 4 with the
tourists well and truely in
e wickets to
fall --- Fulton for 13,
Rutherford 12, Latham
0, and captain Brendon
McCullum for 8.
ere were 3 extras.
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