Jos Buttler hailed as ‘the difference’ between England and Australia in tourists’ win

England's Jos Buttler celebrates after scoring a century during the one-day international match against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 January 2018
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Jos Buttler hailed as ‘the difference’ between England and Australia in tourists’ win

SYDNEY: The explosive Jos Buttler was hailed as “the difference between the sides” as England defeated Australia by 16 runs in the third one-day international at the Sydney Cricket Ground Sunday to clinch their five-game series with two games to spare and hand the world champions their first ODI series defeat at home since 2010.
The tourists had looked to be in trouble after slumping to 189-6 in the 39th over but rebounded in spectacular fashion with Buttler belting six boundaries and four sixes to finish 100 not out from just 83 balls, while Chris Woakes chipped in with five fours and cleared the rope twice to remain unbeaten on 53 off only 36 deliveries.
The Australians did not help themselves in the field, bowling 13 wides and dropping three catches, including one off Buttler when he was on 70.
The Englishman had another scare on 97 when he was given out leg before wicket on the first ball of the last over but the decision was correctly overturned on review after replays showed the ball hit the edge of his bat.
Buttler took a single off the next ball and did not get back on strike until the final delivery, but managed to squeeze Starc’s attempted yorker into the legside field and scramble through to reach his hundred, leaping into the air with excitement. England made 302-6 and Australia fell short on 28
“Jos was probably the difference between the sides,” said England captain Eoin Morgan. “On a two-paced wicket, he paced it to perfection, played the anchor until about five or six overs out.
“This is one of the best wins from this group. With our bowling efforts, everybody was required to give a bit extra and everyone did. With the ball we were outstanding.”
The century was his first against Australia but the slowest of his five ODIs, clocking in at 83 balls.
“Great win, probably the best we’ve had,” said Buttler. “We’ve championed this way of playing, even if you lose wickets. Chris and I tried to push on, we were looking at 270 but we had a couple of good overs. Against Cummins, Starc, etc it was very special.”
After being thumped 4-0 in the Ashes Test series, England’s limited-overs players have now produced a stunning turnaround to beat the Australians three times in a week, outplaying the home team both when chasing and defending big totals.
Needing to win Sunday’s match to keep the series alive, Australia brought their best fast bowlers together for the first time since the Ashes but it was to no avail as England’s middle-order pounded Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins at the death to post an imposing total of 302 for six.
Australia’s reply began poorly when Dave Warner and Cameron White both went cheaply but Steve Smith’s men were thrown an unexpected lifeline when England paceman Liam Plunkett pulled a hamstring in his second over and was forced off the field, leaving the tourists a bowler short.
Most of the Australians made starts but none was able to go on and post a big number to match Buttler’s electrifying rate and they finished on 286-6.
Aaron Finch, who made centuries in each of the first two matches, top scored with 62, while Marcus Stoinis (56) and Mitchell Marsh (55) also made half-centuries after Smith was controversially given out for 45 when caught behind by Buttler although replays were inconclusive as to whether the ball had carried through.
“Disappointing tonight,” a rueful Smith said. “I thought the way we bowled in the first 45 overs was good, but Jos played exceptionally well, Woakesy too, but we bowled poorly at the end, can’t do that to a guy like Jos.
“We were chasing probably 30 too many, batted well but not enough to get over the line. Our one-day cricket hasn’t been up to scratch, we’ve got to find ways to win against quality opposition.”


London clash between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad a chance to showcase Saudi football to the world, says SAFF

Updated 16 August 2018
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London clash between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad a chance to showcase Saudi football to the world, says SAFF

  • Super Cup final in UK capital can boost Saudi football's image around the world, claims SAFF official
  • SAFF defends number of foreign players allowed to play in Saudi Pro League claiming they help raise the standard.

LONDON: Saturday’s Super Cup final between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad in London will not just be a great experience for the players, but also a chance to showcase the best of Saudi Arabian football on an international stage ahead of what should be a season to remember.
That is according to Luai Al-Subaiey, the General Secretary of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF)ahead of the cup clash at Loftus Road, the home of Queen’s Park Rangers. The match is the traditional season curtain-raiser that features the champions and the winners of the King’s Cup. And with holding fixtures overseas a growing trend in modern football, Al-Subaiey told Arab News the decision to play the match in London was a no-brainer.
“Club teams from one country playing in another country is commonplace,” Al-Subaiey said.
“Teams from the English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese leagues played in the US this summer. The Spanish Super Cup was played in Morocco last week.
“We do it because it is good for our players to gather more international experience, to learn what it’s like to play in large overseas stadia, and of course, there is a large Saudi Arabian and Middle Eastern population living and working in London, (roughly) 300,000 people there.”
Al-Subaiey and Co. are confident that a great game in London this Saturday will be a springboard to a great season to come, especially with leading clubs in the country active in the international transfer market.
With eight overseas players allowed in Saudi Arabian teams in the upcoming Saudi Pro League season, there have been concerns that opportunities for local talent could be reduced. Al-Subaiey, however, believes that importing quality players can only be a good thing.
“Foreign players in the Saudi League will help improve the quality of football,” he said.
“But it also needs to be managed and balanced with the need to nourish domestic talent and provide our homegrown players with a pathway to the top.”
International stars such as Omar Abdulrahman have a part to play in the development of the Saudi Pro League and its ambition to be one of the leading leagues in the world. The United Arab Emirates playmaker joined Al-Hilal earlier in August in a season-long loan deal worth a reported $15 million — the second highest in football history.
As well as Abdulrahman, Al-Hilal have signed Peruvian international Andre Carrillo, who scored at the World Cup this summer, as well as former Barcelona defender Alberto Botia. Al-Nassr have bought Nigerian international Ahmed Musa from Leicester City and Nordin Amrabat from Watford.
“Has Wayne Rooney added something to DC United and the MLS? Has Omar Abdulrahman added to Al-Hilal? Of course, additions like these improve the quality of football,” Al-Subaiey said. “For the fans, these players bring excitement, and for the clubs and their league, these players bring a higher profile and greater attention — but there is something deeper too.”
For the official, what the best players bring is attitude and the utmost professionalism.
“Central to high performance sport is the right mindset. People like Rooney and Abdulrahman bring a great work ethic and possess great skills — but they also possess a professional mindset. And the young players who will work with them will see this, experience this — and learn from this.”
If all goes according to plan Saudi Arabia will qualify for the 2022 World Cup and perhaps even
progress to the second round for the first time since 1994. In Russia the Green Falcons started off with a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the hosts in the opening game in Moscow. The team tightened up before losing narrowly to Uruguay, and then going on to beat Egypt 2-1 in the final game.
“We were absolutely delighted to be at the World Cup,” Al-Subaiey said.
“As you can tell with teams like Italy, Holland and the USA not qualifying and teams like Germany and Argentina not progressing (far in the tournament), the standard of play in international football is very high.
“Our particular group was quite challenging, and our initial game against host Russia, one of the biggest surprises of the World Group, was a difficult first match. Our final game, our win against Egypt, was a World Cup high point for our team. It was a match our young players and our national program can build on.”