Monthly Archives: August 2019

Joe Burns facing biggest test after call-up to make Australian cricket debut

Joe Burns thought his biggest test over the next few weeks would be the final exam of his economics degree next month.
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Now, with the Queensland batsman contemplating a shock Boxing Day Test debut for Australia, the studying has been put on the backburner for a self-confessed cricket “nuffie” who knows only too well the significance of the occasion.

“It’s a dream come true,” the 25-year-old said on Sunday. “Any Australian player, Australian cricket fan, dreams of playing these sorts of games. It’s something that I’ve always dreamt of in the front yard. I’m a massive Australian cricket fan who just happens to play cricket himself.”

Burns, who is expected to replace injured all-rounder Mitchell Marsh at the MCG, will join his new national teammates in Melbourne on Monday after featuring for Brisbane Heat against Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night.

It is an unorthodox lead-in to playing in the marquee event of the Australian cricket summer, but only 24 hours before his surprise call-up he was expecting to juggle the BBL with another significant occasion in his diary.

On January 19 Burns is due to sit the last exam of an economics degree he has been studying since 2007 at Brisbane’s University of Technology. The subject is called Contemporary Application of Economic Theory – a fair way from the “homework” Australia’s cricketers were infamously handed in India last year.

Over the next few days, however, his mind will be trained on learning the ropes of the Australian team.

It is yet to be determined where he will slot into the batting order. He has been opening this year for Queensland so his inclusion presents the possibility of out-of-sorts Shane Watson being shifted to the middle order to accommodate the newcomer going into the top three.

In the long tradition of Australian Test bolters, Burns’ elevation surprised him and family so much that he said his father, Reg, didn’t believe him when he picked up the phone while browsing in a Brisbane bookstore to be told the good news by his son. “That was a little disappointing,” he joked on Sunday.

The selection is merited, though, after a start to the season in which the composed right-hander has compiled 439 Sheffield Shield runs at 54.87.

Burns has been on the national radar since an Australia A debut in England two years ago, and his connection to Darren Lehmann, the former Queensland coach, has done him no harm.

“I am certainly looking forward to having Boof as the Australian coach,” he said. “I really enjoyed playing underneath him and if I do play on Boxing Day, it’s going to be with great pride that he’s my first Australian coach and hopefully there is plenty of games to come underneath him.”

Burns gets a start as state teammate Usman Khawaja faces the next nine months on the sideline recovering from a serious knee injury. Khawaja would have been a major contender to replace Marsh at the MCG, but his misfortune is Burns’ gain.

“I certainly do feel for Ussie,” Burns said. “There are plenty of players that dream to be in this situation so you feel for them when other circumstances take that away. All I can do is try and do the best I can and see what comes from that.”

Lehmann referred to Burns on Sunday as a cricket nuffie, and the man almost certain to be Australia’s 441st Test cricketer is not about to disagree.

“I do follow the game closely,” Burns said. “I love the game of cricket and that makes Boxing Day even more special, knowing how  big this day is on the Australian sport calendar.

“The day after Christmas, where you’re sitting on the back deck watching cricket, it’s a special day on the cricket schedule, those are some of my earliest memories. I am a cricket nuffie, yeah.”

Lehmann said he had been anticipating Burns would get a crack at international level since he began coaching him.

“When I saw him play, I thought he could really play at the next level,” Lehmann said. “It’s taken him a while, he’s had some ups and downs like all players do. He’s put his name up at the right time. An opportunity comes up, now he’s got to grab it.”

‘Complete rubbish’: Peter V’landys takes aim at Racing Victoria over unpaid Championships bill claim

Speaking his mind: Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys. Photo: Anthony Johnson Speaking his mind: Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys. Photo: Anthony Johnson
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Speaking his mind: Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Speaking his mind: Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Peter V’landys has described as “complete rubbish” claims Racing NSW is still yet to foot the Werribee quarantine bill from Gordon Lord Byron’s visit for The Championships this year at the same time the international scouting mission for next year’s showpiece heats up.

Fairfax Media understands Racing Victoria is squabbling with its northern counterpart over an alleged outstanding fee, believed to be about $20,000, from Gordon Lord Byron’s two-week quarantine stay at Werribee in March.

Racing NSW is yet to establish a permanent quarantine centre and used Werribee, a hotbed of activity during the Melbourne spring carnival, to help lure this year’s international visitors after covering their travelling expenses to Australia.

But relations between the country’s two premier racing states have soured over Gordon Lord Byron’s visit almost nine months ago, with chief executive V’landys adamant Racing NSW has settled the amount quoted for the Irish star’s visit.

Asked about the claim, V’landys said: “It’s complete rubbish and muck-raking. We were quoted an amount and have paid the amount in total. They’ve asked for more and naturally we’ve asked for more documentation why.

“We have paid the fees that were quoted and there’s some fees that weren’t quoted and we’re in discussions with [them about]. In fact, we actually paid in excess of what we were quoted – but we’re questioning some of the amounts they’ve added onto it.”

It is believed Racing Victoria asked a substantial amount, as high as $80,000 in total, for Gordon Lord Byron’s stay at Werribee. The two states are already heavily invested in the bitter struggle for the vision rights from NSW and Victorian racing that is dividing broadcasters TVN and Sky Channel.

Gordon Lord Byron and Hana’s Goal were the only two international horses to travel to Sydney for the inaugural The Championships in April. Both provided priceless exposure around the world for the Sydney carnival, having returned home with group 1 wins.

Gordon Lord Byron won the George Ryder Stakes before Hana’s Goal ploughed through the wet to claim the All Aged Stakes, becoming the first Japanese horse to win in Sydney.

Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club have intensified efforts to attract more stars from around the globe for the fast-approaching The Championships in 2015 after the NSW government pledged $10 million in August to guarantee the event’s short-term future.

V’landys said a hit list of “six or seven” horses had been drawn up and every indication was the arrivals would far outstrip the international representation for the inaugural Sydney racing showpiece.

“We’re certainly having discussions with the connections and we’re very, very happy with the response we’re getting from these people,” V’landys said. “We have the chance of getting six or seven international horses.

“We’re talking both Asia and Europe – with two in Europe and quite a few in Asia. We’re overwhelmed with the response we’re getting from them. I’m pretty confident we’ll get a lot more than the two [this year]. We want to limit and we don’t want too many, but the response we’re getting [is incredible].”

Three-time Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux has been mentioned as a potential Sydney Cup coup after trainer Ed Dunlop hinted he would be open to an Australian return next year. The 150th running of the Sydney Cup will offer an inflated $1.6 million in prizemoney.

But the Dubai carnival looms as a more logical option for the globetrotter after he arrived back at his Newmarket base in Britain over the weekend. Red Cadeaux ran sixth in the Hong Kong Vase at his last start.

Temporary truce imminent as racing’s warring broadcasters seek to end blackout before Christmas

Looking for action: TVN chief executive Bruce Mann. Photo: Jim Rice Looking for action: TVN chief executive Bruce Mann. Photo: Jim Rice
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Looking for action: TVN chief executive Bruce Mann. Photo: Jim Rice

Looking for action: TVN chief executive Bruce Mann. Photo: Jim Rice

Racing’s warring broadcasters TVN and Sky Channel have shelved designs on a fresh long-term agreement for the sport’s vision rights in NSW and Victoria until the new year after resolving to prioritise a temporary truce and end to the blackout before Christmas.

Fairfax Media has been told the first Saturday of the Sky blackout resulted in a “significant” downturn in turnover on the week’s premier race day given recent trends, but the exact percentage drop remains a secret by Tabcorp, which has Channel Sky as its television arm.

TVN board members met on Sunday and agreed an interim deal to have vision restored in TAB retail outlets and hundreds of pubs and clubs Australia-wide was a matter of urgency as punters suffered.

“We hope to see what we can do,” TVN chief executive Bruce Mann told Fairfax Media on Sunday. “Nobody wants to disenfranchise the public and we’ll see what we can do. The first proposition made certainly wasn’t where we need to be. At the end of the day everyone’s interest is for the best outcome for the punter.”

It is thought the temporary deals will last weeks into 2015, suggesting both parties are far from confident a long-term deal will be reached soon.

Almost 1000 pubs and clubs have been without vision of NSW and Victorian races for four days, but the sharp decline in turnover has been most keenly felt in the TAB’s retail outlets.

TVN rejected Sky’s offer to carry its vision in affected pubs and clubs over the weekend, mainly in regional areas that don’t have access to Fox Sports, which has agreed to show TVN on its platform.

Likewise, Sky scuppered any hopes of TVN adding an extra channel to its Foxtel service to ease the burden of the provincial and bush meetings it must now screen alongside its usual extended coverage of Sydney and Melbourne racing.

The stand-off has prompted questions about the financial viability of TVN, which is reliant on Sky’s funding to acquire vision rights.w

Despite Mann claiming the broadcaster could survive for six to 12 months without Tabcorp funding from Sky, it is believed TVN costs $18 million a year to operate and generates only $4 million in advertising.  “I don’t think the six to 12 months is the real issue,” Mann said. “Our stakeholders are happy to do whatever it takes [to secure long term future].”

Mann strongly denied claims the channel could last no longer than two months, given the amount of debt that will accumulate.

Fairfax Media also understands the racing broadcaster borrowed heavily some years ago to purchase media assets Winning Post and Best Bets and that debt is still on its books.

On Saturday, the four Victorian shareholders of TVN reinforced their resolve to maintain the media and vision rights in Victoria despite heavy lobbying that the rights should be turned over to the state’s governing body. The Sydney-based Australian Turf Club is the other part-owner of TVN.

Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula said he was hoping negotiations between both parties would see an outcome.

“I’m advised that negotiations are continuing and that RVL is working with the racing clubs to find a resolution,” he said.

“I’m also advised that the availability of visions in pubs and clubs is likely to improve over the next 48 hours.”

Pakula said he had been in contact with Racing Victoria and Tabcorp and was urging both parties to find temporary relief as soon as possible.

“I’ll be meeting the chairman and CEO of Racing Victoria [on] Monday and have asked them to provide a full status report,” he said.

The festive season is one of the busiest periods for the racing industry, which attempts to cash in on the entertainment dollar.

In NSW alone, metropolitan meetings have been scheduled for Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and December 27 while Randwick will also host a New Year’s Day program.

Six TAB meetings have been scheduled across both states on both Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

TOPICS: High achiever sinks a low quipping comment

CLEVER KIDS: Merewether High School students Samara Thambar, Bridget Neave-Cowley, Cameron Allen, Rebecca Tyler, Emily Chen, Betrice Walker and Lydia Watson-Moore. Picture: Phil HearneOK. We’ll admit it.
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Our first thought when we saw Phil Hearne’s snap of the Hunter’s top HSC achievers on the Newcastle Herald website last week ran along the lines of, ‘‘whey, ladies’ man!’’

But only for a sec. At centre is Cameron Allan of Merewether High, who scored a cool 99.95for his Tertiary Admissions Rank. Everyone else in shot, keep in mind, also got over 99.

So you can understand why, when a Facebook commenter named Heath quipped beneath the photo, ‘‘Run! They just want your future money!’’, Cameron’s fellow high-achiever Lydia Watson-Moore was compelled to reply.

‘‘Ah yes good one Heath you nailed it, thanks, I have no aspirations with my 99.65 atar other than to pine for a male friend’s future wealth,’’ wrote Lydia.

Which was, as the kids say, a pretty good burn.

POPULAR: Kate Dundas-Sharrad stands proud as Princess Leia. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

KATE Dundas-Sharrad, the shy 12-year-old who dreaded her year six farewell but came as Princess Leia and owned it (Topics, December 20), is seriously impressing people.

Reader Kim McAlister was all praise after Kate reprised her role to visit sick kids at John Hunter Hospital.

‘‘We were in the Starlight room on Thursday and my 4-year-old daughter looked at Princess Leia with utter adoration,’’ reports Kim. ‘‘Up until now she has had a morbid, paralysing fear of dressed up characters and this lovely girl gave her the sweetest smile and made her day. Year 6 can be tough, I hope she always stands tall and stays true to herself.’’

And so say all of us. Speaking of frightening dress-ups, a young Topics was traumatised by the sight of a shopping centre Fat Cat (remember him?) removing his head and going for a smoke on his break. Staying in character is a serious responsibility, people.

COLOUR: A sea of floral tributes has swept across Martin Place, Sydney from outside the cafe where the siege took place. Picture: Louie Douvis

AMIR Rezapourmoghadammiyandabi might have the longest surname known to man.

He’s also an Iranian who lives in Newcastle, and wanted to speak up after the sad events of last week.

‘‘I would like to let you know that in solidarity with all Australians, Saturday afternoon, we as Iranian students of University of Newcastle did pay our respects to the victims of the Sydney siege and their families by travelling to Sydney and laying flowers on the memorial of the victims at Martin Place,’’ Amir tells us.

‘‘On behalf of fellow Iranian students of the UON, we express our sorrow and thoughtfulness of the tragedy. We also express our absolute condemnation of the terrorist attack.’’

All good mate. No-one (with half a brain) blames this on you.

THE build-up to Slide Month, the yet-to-be-confirmed dates in March when not one but two giant waterslides are rolled out to the delight of the (paying) Hunter public, has thrown up a bit of panic.

One of the slide companies that has been in talks with Lake Macquarie council was concerned by our report Newcastle City council is negotiating with another slide operator. What was going on? Had they been given the flick without being told?

Topics gently informed them these are two separate local government areas, both of which are booking slides. Crisis averted.

Tribunal: Obstetrician Dr Richard Reid a world expert, no risk to patients

Dr Richard ReidA FORMER Newcastle University associate professor who was suspended by the NSW Medical Council in July, and reinstated in October, was a ‘‘world expert in his field’’, said an appeal tribunal last week in its published decision.
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Gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Richard Reid, 72, ‘‘enjoys the glowing support’’ of colleagues, said the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal after rejecting the Medical Council’s claim Dr Reid posed a risk to the public by using a ‘‘novel’’ mesh product to treat women with prolapse problems after childbirth.

Dr Reid’s use of Tissue Fixation System (TFS) genital mesh did not pose ‘‘any risk to the health or safety of any patient whether past or present, or likely to be any such risk to any future patient’’, the tribunal concluded after an appeal hearing on October 28.

One week later, on November 5, TFS mesh was one of the first three mesh products to be deregistered by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration after its South Australian manufacturer failed to substantiate how the products complied with relevant standards.

The tribunal was told there were 14 complaints against Dr Reid between 2002 and 2014.

In 2011 the Medical Council imposed conditions on Dr Reid after a performance review panel found his professional performance was unsatisfactory. While assessors found he was ‘‘technically very skilful’’, certain aspects of his work procedures were said to be ‘‘experimental’’, the tribunal noted.

The tribunal expressed concern about the lack of information available to it at the October hearing to assess Dr Reid’s treatment of women with prolapse problems, compared with ‘‘the orthodox approach’’.

‘‘There is no information available to us that would allow us to make any informed decision about this controversy, and whether there are sufficient deficiencies in the approach and technique of (Dr Reid) to be able to characterise what he does as creating some relevant concern for the health and safety of his patients,’’ the tribunal said.

It accepted Dr Reid’s evidence that he had been unfairly labelled ‘‘overzealous’’.

The Medical Council had not provided any evidence to challenge the view of a number of doctors that Dr Reid was a world expert in his field, the tribunal said.

In November Dr Reid said he was relieved by the tribunal decision, because ‘‘medicine is my life’’.

A complainant with an outstanding Health Care Complaints Commission matter against Dr Reid criticised the Medical Council’s handling of the tribunal matter, and said it appeared to be ‘‘under-resourced and under-prepared’’.