More substance, less style please Harry

TWO minutes on the park in the past six months. That’s all we’ve seen of Harry Kewell, the footballer. Harry Kewell the fashionista, however, we’ve seen everywhere. Cover stories in magazines such as Good Weekend, Sport & Style, Emporium, and InStyle. Thousands of words written elsewhere. Front page of both dailies when the Socceroos kicked off their World Cup against Germany. Talk, talk, talk. A compliant, obsequious media lapping it all up.
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One television reporter went one step further. At the end of Kewell’s first round of media interviews last week, he signed off with: ”Don’t worry Harry, we love you.” True story.

And where was our Harry when Germany were systematically, surgically, dissecting the Socceroos? On the bench. Where he was always likely to start the World Cup. No sign of him on the field with the rest of the subs in the warm-up and in the end he didn’t take the field.

In between he was seen warmly embracing a member of the German coaching staff at half-time, and then smiling, chatting to family and friends at the fence after the final whistle. If the catastrophe that unfolded before his eyes upset him, there were no outward signs of distress.

Pim Verbeek gambled on selecting Kewell for this tournament. Right now, the gamble hasn’t paid off. Don’t worry, came the message from the coach throughout the build-up, he’ll be right to play the opening game. He wasn’t. If he can’t even complete a proper warm-up with the other players, how could he have been?

There was always going to be a point where the talk became cheap. More than that, irrelevant. Well that point has arrived. No doubt there will be plenty of headlines over the next few days about King Kewell coming to the rescue. By accident, or design, he seems to embrace the role of saviour. Well this time it’s not about Harry saving Australia. It’s about Harry saving what’s left of his international career.

Guus Hiddink never indulged Kewell, and given his chronic injury list you can’t imagine he would be playing in his second World Cup if the Dutch Master was still in charge. However, the Dutch Apprentice has obliged him at every turn. In return, Verbeek has got one influential performance out of his star man since he took over. Against Iraq, in Brisbane, where he led the line with enthusiasm, energy, and – most of all – courage. Since then, Kewell has basically been a myth.

On Saturday (midnight, AEST), in Rustenburg, he gets the chance to prove he’s got something left to give. At times in his career, Kewell has been a genuine star. And his long, arduous battle to keep his body together remains a tribute to his bravery, and resilience. But he’s never been able to accept his diminished circumstances. Instead, he’s chosen to deflect the scrutiny with hype. Kewell Inc is on the way up. Kewell, football player, is on the way down. And has been for years.

Now there is nowhere left to hide. If he’s got any petrol left in the tank, he’s got to show it, against Ghana. Preferably by starting the game, and finishing it. Preferably by providing a point of difference. Preferably by giving glimpses of the Harry of old. Anything less, and there’s no more excuses. None.

If the Socceroos lose to the Black Stars, they’re out of contention. With a new coach coming on board, there’ll be a broom swept through a squad creaking at the joints. Believe it or not, Kewell is likely to be part of the clean out. A few years ago that was unthinkable. But a few years is a long time in football. ‘Our Harry’ knows that better than anyone.

ICC objects to microphones in one-dayers amid corruption concerns

The International Cricket Council will not allow broadcasters to strap microphones to players during one-day internationals for fear that corrupt cricketers could send coded messages to illegal bookmakers and gamblers live on air.Channel Nine is trying to convince the ICC to ease its stance on the issue but the recent controversies surrounding alleged match-fixing and spot-fixing has led to increased resistance.The concerns about corruption within the game may also lead to the withdrawal of permission for players to wear microphones in Twenty20 internationals. No players are allowed to wear microphones in ICC events such as World Cups and Champions Trophy tournaments, but in bilateral series, host boards can decide if their players will wear them for the broadcaster.Networks consider this a great tool to boost audiences because the viewer can get closer than ever to the action by listening to what players are thinking at crucial stages.However, as rumours of corruption swirl around cricket, officials are worried that players could use secret words or phrases that would sound meaningless to the average listener, but would trigger a response for gamblers and bookmakers who deal in spot-fixing. This is where bets are taken on the outcomes of small moments in play, for example, what might occur in the fourth ball of the second over.Channel Nine has had positive feedback from viewers to players being able to speak while on the field in T20s and wants to use the system in ODIs, where ratings are lower.Nine’s executive producer of cricket, Brad McNamara, said the blockade reflected double standards by the ICC because they allow players to wear microphones in international Twenty20s.”There is absolutely no difference as far as we’re concerned, that is one thing we’re going to investigate, we can’t see any problems with it,” he said. ”I think it is a little bit overprotective, we think they are being way oversensitive about it.”If people are going to be drawn to one-day cricket through tools that have proven successful in Twenty20s, then it makes sense to use those tools.”We definitely see the miking of players as adding to the entertainment value of the product and our indication from the players is that it is not a drama.”The problem is with the ICC. If they want to lift their game they need to start thinking outside the box. We think they are being overzealous about miking the players.”An ICC spokesman last night said the gambling aspect was one of many issues they had a problem with and suggested the T20 allowance could be revoked.”We allowed players to wear microphones in Twenty20s in the early days because it was a new form of the game and we wanted to give it every opportunity to succeed,” the spokesman said. ”There is a relaxation to players being miked in Twenty20s, but the board can review that decision if it wishes.”
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Giteau admits he isn’t guaranteed a walk-up start

MATT GITEAU concedes he will struggle to regain his place in the Wallabies starting line-up to play England on Saturday night because the Test selectors could easily show faith in midfielders Quade Cooper and Berrick Barnes following Australia’s triumph in Perth.Giteau was named at inside-centre in the starting line-up at Subiaco Oval, only to be withdrawn on Friday because of a hip complaint. He remains the Wallabies’ No.1 goalkicker and has been selected at No.12 in the first two Test teams of the season, but Giteau realises that everything changes when you hand the spot to someone else.And after five-eighth Cooper and inside-centre Barnes combined with aplomb in the 27-17 first Test victory against England, Giteau understands that even though he is now fully fit, he could still miss out for the clash at ANZ Stadium. Barnes helped his cause with an exceptional defensive effort in Perth.”With the way things are, you just got to train hard and see what happens,” Giteau said yesterday. ”But the way they went, the back line is playing some good football, and so I’m like anyone else, I’ve just got to train hard and hopefully get an opportunity.”Deciding between Barnes and Giteau at No.12 is not the selectors’ only dilemma. There is also the question of who starts at halfback. Even though first-choice No.9 Will Genia is available again, it will be near impossible to drop Luke Burgess after his best performance for the Wallabies.Giteau, an unwilling spectator, said that he had been enthused by the development of the young Australian back line, with fellow centre Rob Horne immediately acquitting himself to Test football.”Rob’s great and he offers a lot,” Giteau said. ”He plays the way he has been playing in the Super 14, so you know he has that confidence, as with all the younger guys. Look at Quade. He’s carried that form into the first couple of Tests, while Luke Burgess had one of the best games I’ve seen him play.”Giteau also revealed that despite the Australian team management last week stressing he had not injured his hip during a brutal Test against Fiji, the ailment did emanate from the Canberra international.”It first happened in the Fiji Test when I was shoulder-charged, and my legs split a little bit,” Giteau said.The Wallabies midfielder said he felt pain ”throughout the hip” during the game, and it failed to improve in Perth, forcing him to withdraw. Like all the Wallabies, Giteau is anticipating Jonny Wilkinson will start as the England five-eighth this weekend.”We’re not so much preparing for it, but it won’t shock us if he is named,” Giteau said.”He offers different things to Toby Flood, so with that comes a different game, in particularly using their big backs. I think they will make a few changes which will probably improve the way they’re going to play.”Former England hooker Brian Moore, meanwhile, believes it is time for the team’s manager, Martin Johnson, to sack some of his coaches, including his defence coach Mike Ford.In his column in London’s Daily Telegraph, Moore wrote: ”In games against southern hemisphere sides, England’s defence under coach Mike Ford has shipped more than 32 points per game, which is a terrible record. I have hitherto not joined the glowing clamour from fans for any specific member of the England coaching team to resign or be replaced, but enough is enough. Loyalty to colleagues is admirable but not in the face of these statistics”Johnson has to ask himself this – if this continues are England likely to beat any of the Tri Nations sides in the World Cup when, on the balance of probabilities, that side will score 32 points, England will be slower in thought and deed and also be unable to position a win through a territorial kicking game?’
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Report says better financial state for unis temporary

THE University of Sydney has nearly regained its billion-dollar fortune after its annus horribilis caused by the global financial crisis, a new report says.The collapse in world share prices wiped 23 per cent off the university’s $1.15 billion invest-ment holdings during the furious fallout. To maintain financial liquidity, the university sold a number of equities at a loss of $45 million.Twelve months later, improving financial markets meant the value of the university’s investments rose from $877 million to $927 million. It recorded an operating surplus of $69 million in 2009 after a $167 million loss.The NSW Auditor-General, Peter Achterstraat, disclosed the significant rebound for the state’s 10 public universities yesterday in his annual report to Parliament.He warned, however, that the recovery may be fleeting, amid falling enrolments for foreign students, who contributed nearly 20 per cent of total revenue for NSW universities last year.Mr Achterstraat said the sector also faced an ageing staff base; a quarter of academics employed in NSW universities are 55 years or older and their skills could be lost when they retire.”Financial risks remain for universities,” Mr Achterstraat said. ”With the recovery in global financial markets remaining fragile, universities with overseas operations and those needing to fund capital works programs are at most risk. Capital funding is estimated at $2 billion for 2010 and 2011.”Yesterday the Universities Australia chief executive, Glenn Withers, said new international student numbers were falling substantially, buffeted by changes to the skilled migration policy, the fallout from the attacks on Indian students and a high Australian dollar.He said higher education visa applications for semester two were down by 20 per cent, with bigger falls being reported by agents for 2010-11.Over the past three years Macquarie University has had the highest percentage of foreign students, with more than 37 per cent of full-time enrolments from overseas.Wollongong also had high numbers and Sydney University and the University of NSW are rising.The vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, Steven Schwartz, said the impact of falling overseas student enrolments was too early to gauge.”We may be in a better position than most universities, at least in the short term,” he said. ”We have a strong [number] of students who are already on campus studying.”A Greens NSW MP, John Kaye, said the universities remained highly vulnerable.”An inevitable steep decline in foreign student enrolments and an ageing workforce could combine with another downturn in the economy to form the perfect triple-headed storm for the sector,” he said.
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Hewitt hits Wimbledon on a high

To steal a line from the late Vitas Gerulaitis after his long losing sequence against Jimmy Connors finally ended in 1979, nobody beats Lleyton Hewitt 16 times in a row.Five months after leaving Melbourne Park on crutches, Hewitt will return to the scene of his 2002 grand slam triumph buoyed by a rare win over Roger Federer at the Wimbledon warm-up event in Halle.Indeed, the interruption to a streak that had stretched back to the 2003 Davis Cup semi-final is as ideally timed for Hewitt as it must be troubling for Federer, despite predictable post-match denials. The Swiss has not won a tournament from two finals since claiming his 16th major at the Australian Open in January, and was deposed last week as world No.1 by Rafael Nadal.He also led Hewitt by a set and 0-40 on serve at 4-4 in the second set, only for the Australian to rally for a 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 victory sealed by a dead forehand net cord.Hewitt’s first title win since Houston last year and first on grass since Queen’s in 2006 also brought a six-place rise in the ATP rankings to No.26 in time for the Wimbledon seedings.”It’s fantastic for me,” said Hewitt, 29, after his 28th career title, fourth-best among active players.Having decided to switch his usual Wimbledon preparation from the Queen’s Club, where he is a four-time champion, to Germany, Hewitt will return to London to practise this week at the All England Club, ”and keep the eye in, just freshen up mentally and physically and get ready obviously for five-set tennis”.Hewitt admitted that after his second hip operation and subsequent knee arthroscopy earlier this year he could not have imagined that by June he would find himself upstaging his long-time tormentor on grass.”At that point probably not. So obviously me and my team have done a lot of work,” said Hewitt, acknowledging his coach, Nathan Healy, and physiotherapist Ivan Guttierez.”I don’t cut any corners. It would have been easy just to turn up and not have the surgery and say it’s too hard to get back, and retire there. But I still feel like I’m a good enough player to compete with these guys. It was a matter of getting my body in as good a shape as possible.”So is Hewitt back, Federer was asked. ”For me he was not really gone, except obviously if he’s under the knife with surgery, then you can say, ‘Yes he’s not around’,” said the six-time Wimbledon champion of a rival now 7-0 in career finals on grass and who has won more matches (98) on the surface than any other active player.”People write off former world No.1s and former grand slam champions too quickly. You can see why this guy has been at the top for over a year and has won most of the grand slam titles and Masters Cups. These guys are tough. They know how to win, they know how to play well not just for one match but for entire tournaments. And he proved it this week, even though he was close to defeat in the semis. That’s what makes him a great champion.”Hewitt said he took most heart from the encouraging result having come in a final.Federer, despite entering Wimbledon after his leanest start to a year, in title terms, for almost a decade, insisted: ”I’m happy with the way I’m playing. I’m excited about next week.”ON TO WIMBLEDONAustralians in the main draw:Lleyton Hewitt (ranked 26th), Peter Luczak (88).Samantha Stosur, right (7), Anastasia Rodionova (76), Jarmila Groth (90), Alicia Molik (96).In qualifying: 11 Australians, including Jelena Dokic, Sophie Ferguson, Carsten Ball and Bernard Tomic.
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Ted haunted by the Kennedy curse, FBI documents reveal

WASHINGTON: Edward Kennedy died last year of brain cancer at 77, after a long political career which partially redeemed the disgrace of fleeing a car accident, but the Massachusetts senator was subject to death threats before and after the assassination of his brothers, FBI documents released yesterday revealed.Five years after John was gunned down in Dallas and soon after Robert was shot in Los Angeles, one letter warned he was next: ”Ted Kennedy number three to be assassinated on Oct. 25, 1968. The Kennedy residence must be well protected on that date.”In 1985, he and the then president, Ronald Reagan, were named in another threatening missive. ”Brass tacks, I’m gonna kill Kennedy and Reagan, and I really mean it.”The FBI has released more than 2200 pages of documents, saying on its website: ”These threats originated from multiple sources, including individuals, anonymous persons and members of radical groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, ‘Minutemen’ organisations and the National Socialist White People’s Party.”Some threats were passed on to Kennedy and police but there is no indication they were anything other than threats.The FBI did investigate one threat, however – allegations that Robert’s killer, Sirhan Sirhan, had attempted to hire a fellow prisoner to kill Edward.The FBI documents reveal little about the 1969 accident at Chappaquiddick Island, off the Massachusetts coast, in which Mary Jo Kopechne died.Kennedy was driving when the car left a bridge over a pond. He swam to safety, leaving his 28-year-old companion who was not found until 10 hours later.The files show the FBI was told almost immediately of Kennedy’s involvement but kept his identity quiet at the start.Guardian News & Media
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Planning laws ‘not to blame’ for crisis

MAYORS have accused the federal government of ”old-fashioned council bashing” in blaming local planning laws for the housing affordability crisis.The Australian Local Government Association says the problem lies with the federal government’s failure to provide jobs and infrastructure in outer suburban and regional areas to attract new home buyers.The association’s State of the Regions report, publised today, says the rise in property prices relative to incomes has been caused by a centralisation of jobs in big cities, and by the easy availability of credit.”Lack of attention to the job-accessibility aspects of housing contributed to the inability of households to pay the rising costs of construction, which in turn reflected poor macroeconomic management,” the report says.The association president, the City of Monash councillor Geoff Lake, said the group was disappointed that whenever the government and developers spoke about action on affordable housing it focused on tackling council planning processes.”It is unfortunate that they choose a bit of old-fashioned council bashing rather than address the real macroeconomic policy settings which have most impact on the cost of housing,” he told the Herald.Through the Council of Australian Governments, the federal, state and territory treasurers are inquiring into the effect of planning processes on housing prices, but Cr Lake argued that the inquiry should focus on demand issues instead.In linking the federal government to the easy availability of credit, which contributed to a surge in house prices, the report argues that policies such as the first home owners grant was not matched with an increase in the size of deposit required by lenders.The report cites figures showing that if the average household size had stayed as it was in 2001, then the current housing shortage was 382,000 dwellings nationally, including 108,000 in NSW and 75,000 in Victoria.The association’s national general assembly is being held in Canberra and concludes tomorrow.Opinion – Page 15
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England searching for redemption in Sydney

Even though the terrain covered from Perth to Sydney was unknown to most in the England party, the route itself was all too familiar. England have made the journey along redemption road many times before, all too often for comfort.There is little doubt that the next five days will have significant bearing for Martin Johnson and his entire squad, for coaches as well as for players.They will be fighting for credibility on Saturday night, for a sense that they are not to be eternal also-rans, rugby’s economic superpower reduced to pauper status.”I’m sick and tired of being on the wrong end of results, sick and tired of being in a review meeting having to learn more lessons,” No.8 Nick Easter said.England’s World Cup campaign will be derailed before it has even begun if they do not show some wit, invention and get-up-and-go in the second Test.Johnson had been bullish in the build-up. By the final whistle he had been reduced to beetle-browed despair, even making disparaging comment on his own players – a rare state of affairs.Johnson admitted that he did not know why his team made so many mistakes, particularly in the first half; why the kick-chase was so limp, why the close defence was so ruinously flaccid. He was locked in meetings with his coaches until the early hours.The England coach has never ducked his own responsibility. He knows that if the squad has spent plenty of time in his company then he and his coaches have to share the blame for such a lacklustre, angst-ridden display. The mood was despondent as the squad crossed Australia on Sunday.They still maintain, though, that morale is as high as it’s ever been. “A loss will not shake your belief,” Graham Rowntree, the scrum coach, said on arrival in Sydney.”You can’t start questioning belief. And, yes, I have got every faith in Martin. I trust him and he is the right man for the job. But, bloody hell, we do need that breakthrough win. I can’t hide from the fact that we’re not getting wins.”The Wallabies will be licking their lips, seen where they’ve beaten us and seen our lack of tries. It sounds flowery to say our environment is good but the proof is in the pudding.”And that is results. England did as England have done at Subiaco Oval. They scrummed the opposition into a state of collapse, enough to yield two penalty tries, a return never seen before in a match between the major nations. But that was it.The scrum is one of the elements that defines rugby. The Wallabies are a clever, tricky, inventive side. But they cannot lay claim to being top-rank while their scrummaging resources are such a laughing stock.Their props were woeful, their we-all-fall-down antics a betrayal of the game’s fundamentals. Referee Nigel Owens should have reached for the yellow card earlier than he did when sin-binning Salesi Ma’afu in the 67th minute. Romain Poite, the French referee, is unlikely to be as lenient in the second Test on Saturday.Therein lies the problem for England. Even though Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau is back in contention after being named yesterday in the Australian Barbarians side to play England tonight at Gosford, coach Robbie Deans has pledged to back the men who suffered such misery at Subiaco Oval.More of the same for England will take them where exactly? Even Johnson acknowledged that they will not get such dominance as a matter of course in the Test arena. If they rely again only on their scrum to deliver the spoils, it might bring victory but it will be a pyrrhic one. England have to show that they can attack on a broader front. Even one of the few who emerged in credit on Saturday conceded as much. “We’ve got to find other ways to play,” said Leicester tight-head Dan Cole.”We knew the scrum would be important but it’s not the be-all and end-all. We’ve all got to sharpen up.”Telegraph, London
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Pass the parental leave scheme, Rudd urges the Senate

CONSCIOUS that his embattled government needs to sell its successes, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, made an unexpected appearance to urge the Senate to pass the government’s paid parental leave scheme.With the Senate debate due to start yesterday, Mr Rudd joined the ACTU president, Sharan Burrow, and the Families Minister, Jenny Macklin, to receive a 25,000-signature petition calling on the Senate to pass the bill.The Coalition has agreed to pass the legislation but it has misgivings about the scheme, which will pay all parents who stay at home the minimum wage of $570 a week for 18 weeks.The Nationals oppose paid parental leave without similar payments for non-working mothers but have agreed to keep quiet until after the election.The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, wants a more generous scheme that would pay a stay-at-home parent their full salary for six months, capped at $150,000.The government’s $260 million scheme will be funded from the budget whereas Mr Abbott’s $2.7 billion scheme would be funded by a 1.7 per cent increase in the company tax rate for more then 3000 businesses.Women who gave birth prematurely, or who were unable to work because of complications with their pregnancy, would also be eligible for payments, under amendments to the scheme outlined yesterday.As Mr Rudd spoke yester- day, the opposition’s childcare spokeswoman, Sharman Stone, heckled him.But she gave an assurance that the Coalition would pass Labor’s legislation, enabling the scheme to begin on January 1.Mr Rudd said he would believe it when he saw it, given that the Coalition had reneged on its deal to pass the emissions trading scheme it negotiated with the government by dumping Malcolm Turnbull as leader.”Get out of the road guys. Just get on with it,” Mr Rudd said.
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Bailey happy with Demons’ resolve in draw

Melbourne just missed the big scalp they were hunting. But Demons coach Dean Bailey was proud of his side’s resilience in at least sharing the points with a heavyweight for the first time this season.The Demons came back from 20 points down early in the match, and fought gamely despite Collingwood’s superior weight of attacking moves and 10 more scoring shots at the MCG yesterday.While the Demons have shown vast improvement this year after consecutive wooden-spoon seasons, their four wins so far have all come against sides which are with them in the bottom six.The closest they had previously come to claiming a major upset was their one-point loss to the Magpies in round two. So given third-placed Collingwood had 20 more entries to their attacking 50-metre zone and kicked the first three goals inside nine minutes, it was a victory of sorts for the Demons, whose only win in the previous six rounds was by a single point against Port Adelaide.”The stats really imply that two points [for a draw] was a good result for us,” Bailey said. ”If you purely look at the stats, you mention inside 50s and the tackle count was way out of sync, we were disappointed in the first quarter [which was 32 tackles to seven], that’s not good enough.”But at the end of it, you look at the three quarters after that and we just seemed to hang in there. They missed a couple of opportunities and we just hung in there and that was the pleasing thing.”To describe the Demons as merely hanging in understates their performance. After Collingwood’s barrage in the first nine minutes, they kicked 11 goals to the Magpies’ six and hit the front twice in the final term.While the Magpies moved the ball into attack much more often, the Demons generally did so more smoothly and directly, reflected by their greater efficiency once they went forward.They had the most effective ball user in general play, in Aaron Davey, whose skill and poise running from defence was critical given the Demons’ frequent need to rebound.Melbourne ruckman Mark Jamar was also the game’s dominant big man, a fine solo effort against Darren Jolly, with whom he was once vying for selection at the Demons, before Jolly left for Sydney in 2004, ahead of joining Collingwood this season.A pack mark and goal to Jamar in the final term levelled the scores, with Matthew Bate scoring the next early in time-on to create the last lead of the match to either side, before Magpies veteran Tarkyn Lockyer again tied the game.The Magpies were also fortunate to have the polish in attack of late inclusion Brad Dick, whose 4.1 provided a stark distinction to the wastefulness of his teammates. It was the goalsneak’s first AFL game of the year, after a shoulder reconstruction, replacing Alan Didak (hip), while Collingwood also lost skipper Nick Maxwell (calf) in the second term.AAP
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