Aussies in ‘confusion’ ahead of Ashes

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Steve Smith will captain Australia in the series starting on Thursday. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 18 November 2017
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Aussies in ‘confusion’ ahead of Ashes

SYDNEY: Spin legend Shane Warne says Australia are in a state of “confusion” heading into the Ashes series, with England primed for a first Gabba Test boilover.
Even amid the massive distraction of the Ben Stokes assault saga, Warne believes it’s the tourists who no longer hold any fears about an unsettled Australian cricket team.
The leg-spin great says Australia are in a shambles with wicketkeeper Tim Paine’s surprise selection pointing to a lack of direction from selectors.
Paine, chosen for his first Test in seven years, and 34-year-old Shaun Marsh, recalled to the Test side for the eighth time, were the controversial selections announced on Friday for next week’s first Test in Brisbane.
Pundits say Australia’s Gabba fortress, where the home side is unbeaten in almost 30 years, is now under threat from an England squad missing their best player: All-rounder Stokes, back at home and under investigation over a nightclub brawl.
“At the moment, the biggest shift that has come over the last few years is they don’t fear Australia anymore,” Warne told reporters on Friday.
“England no longer fear Australia and haven’t for a long time and hence that’s why they can beat Australia.
“England, I think at the moment, are just going along nicely. They’re just doing their business.
“Australia look confused. They’re picking wicketkeepers that aren’t even keeping for their state.
“I think England are in a better situation going into that first Test match than what Australia are.”
Television commentating veteran Bill Lawry agreed with Warne that Australia is missing a Mitchell Johnston-style intimidator, although Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are capable of bowling fast. “I think the big key to this Ashes series is Mitchell Johnson and he’s not playing,” Lawry said.
“If I was an opening batsman I wouldn’t be losing too much sleep about facing the Australian pace attack as far as pace is concerned.
“They’re all good bowlers but they’re not going to frighten you.”
Former Test captain Michael Clarke said the Australian team was unsure about their playing style heading into the five-Test series.
Warne is predicting the Ashes series to be the hardest-fought and most dramatic since the iconic 2005 campaign, which England famously won in a fifth-Test decider.
The leg-spinning great says both sides are weak because they rely too much on two players — Australia on David Warner and Steve Smith and England on Alastair Cook and Joe Root.
“It will get down to how those guys bat,” said Warne.


Women’s Bowling Championship 2018 wraps up in Jeddah

Dr. Razan Baker, 3rd left standing, with participants at the Third Women’s Bowling Championship 2018, in Jeddah on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 21 October 2018
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Women’s Bowling Championship 2018 wraps up in Jeddah

  • Sixty-three competitors, many of them amateurs, participated in the competition which consisted of four rounds

JEDDAH: The first Women Bowling Championship in Saudi Arabia took place in October in three cities, Riyadh, Alkhobar, and Jeddah, where it finished at Ice Land Bowling Center on Saturday. Gada Nemer, 42, from Riyadh, who came first in the competition, told Arab News: “I participated in all three tournaments, in Riyadh, Alkhobar, and today in Jeddah. I won first place in Alkhobar too. “I am not a professional bowler, but I used to bowl with my kids. Two of them bowl on the national team. I am very glad to have the chance to participate in these tournaments, and look forward to future ones.”
It was the first tournament of its kind in the Kingdom, as the country is rapidly developing sporting facilities for women and increasing women’s involvement in sports by making reforms that have included allowing physical education for schoolgirls and opening female-only gyms. Sixty-three competitors, many of them amateurs, participated in the competition which consisted of four rounds. All competitors took part in the first round, 33 made it into the second round and 16 qualified for the third.
Participants were between 11 and 56 years of age. Nemer received a cash prize of SR5,000 ($1,335) and those in second and third place received SR3,000 and SR2,000 respectively.
The last round had the best three competitors competing for first place with Nemer winning first prize, followed by Meshael Alabdulwahed (second) and Wissam Al-Harbi (third).

Growing interest
Bowling is still a growing sport for women in Saudi Arabia. The first female bowling team officially registered in the Saudi Bowling Federation, and the Eastern Province bowling team is only seven months old, according to Dr. Razan Baker, member of the board of directors and head of media and women’s participation at the federation.
Baker told Arab News: “We were surprised by the excitement of the participants. The numbers were beyond our expectations.
“Many participants would like to become professional bowlers. With this high turnout I expect bowling centers to start supporting new female bowling teams.”
Abeer Abdulmalik, from Al-Qassim, participated in the tournament. Although she is new to bowling, she made it to the third round.
“I never bowled before in my life, and I did not prepare myself for the game. I am surprised and happy with what I scored, although I was hoping to be in the final round,” she told Arab News. “I would like to take part in future championships.”
Aminah Khan, who participated in the tournament with her two sisters, told Arab News: “I came here for fun, and to try my luck before I go to my midterm exam.”
Khan did not make it to the second round, but said she would start working to improve her skills and take bowling more seriously as a sport.
The championship was organized by the Saudi Bowling Federation, the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, and General Sports Authority, and in partnership with Arab News as the exclusive English media partner for the event.