Will Pucovski won’t be ready for opening Ashes Test after being ruled out of Victoria’s clash with NSW

David Warner will have a new opening partner for the Ashes after Will Pucovski’s concussion comeback hit another hurdle.

Batting star Will Pucovski hasn’t yet returned to the nets a month after his 10th concussion and may not be available for Australia until the middle of the Ashes.

Pucovski won’t play for Victoria against NSW at the MCG in a Sheffield Shield clash starting this Friday, which is a “touch too soon” as he continues to recover from the effects of the concussion suffered on October 5 at training.

Victorian coach Chris Rogers said there was a “strong desire” to get the 23-year-old into the Test team, but everyone was taking a long-term view of Pucovski’s cricket future.

Rogers said Pucovski, who was the frontrunner to open with David Warner during the Ashes, could be ready for one of the later Tests in a “best-case scenario” as he returns to full fitness.

“He hasn’t quite recovered as well as hoped. In discussions with the medical team and the national selectors it was felt we would give him a bit more time to select him to play for Victoria,” Rogers said.

“He hasn’t started hitting the nets, I think that was the main concern. It’s really difficult just to walk into one of these games unprepared. All the people who are in these conversations understand we have an immense talent on our hands and we want him to be playing for five to 10 years, so these are the decisions we are going to make in his best interests to set him up to have a long career.

“There’s some symptoms which are just a little too close to the game.”

Pucovski trained on Wednesday and was “positive” about how his recovery was tracking.

But his playing return may not come until a yet-to-be-confirmed third Sheffield Shield game in mid-November or even a Victorian second XI game.

Rogers said that would delay any chance of him playing in the Ashes until mid-series.

“No doubt it’s a setback. I’d say now it’s unlikely he’d play in the first Test,” he said.

“Hopefully, if we play a third Shield game in mid-November and there may be a second XI game for Victoria as well, that might prepare him for one of the matches in the middle of the Ashes series. That’s the best-case scenario.

“He was very positive about how it was all tracking and pretty hopeful of playing soon, but he felt this match was a touch too early.”

Rogers said Pucovski, who hasn’t played a game since injuring his shoulder in his Test debut last January, was “frustrated” by this latest concussion and its lingering effects.

But the young star also knows he has to be fully ready when he makes a playing return.

“He hasn’t played for seven months. You have to walk straight back in the cauldron and perform against very good opposition. That would have been playing on his mind,” Rogers said.

“Of course he wants to play for Australia for a long time to come. There’s a strong desire to get him into that Australian side, he’s such a talented player.

“I think the decision is to look after him and allow him a bit more time to prepare in the right time rather than rush him to matches which are going to have a lot of intensity and scrutiny.”

Originally published as Batting gun Will Pucovski won’t be ready to play for Australia until the middle of the Ashes as he recovers from another concussion

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Ashes news; Steve Waugh says Pat Cummins should take Tim Paine’s spot as Australian captain

Tim Paine will turn 37 on the opening day of the first Ashes Test and his successor as Australian captain will be a talking point all summer.

Test legend Steve Waugh says “it’s time” for a bowler to be given the Australian captaincy and endorsed Pat Cummins to take over from skipper Tim Paine when he steps down.

Paine, who turns 37 on the opening day of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba on December 8, is racing the clock to be fit for the clash as he continues his recovery from neck surgery.

He was forced to have surgery in September to repair a pinched nerve in his neck and has only just begun light duties. Paine remains hopeful of making his playing return in a second 11 game for Tasmania in mid-November.

But speculation around Paine’s successor as Test skipper is set to linger throughout the five-match series against England, with Australia set to tour Pakistan, Sri Lanka and then India in 2022.

Cummins, who is national vice-captain of the Test, one-day and T20 teams, would be the first fast bowler since Ray Lindwall in 1956 to captain Australia in a Test match. Lindwall only did it for one match against India.

Waugh, who captain Australia for seven years and finished with a 72 per cent winning rate, was one of the mentors brought in by coach Justin Langer during the 2019 Ashes in England and spent time with all the players.

He was adamant Cummins, who was recently made one-day captain of NSW, should get the opportunity to be skipper

“I’d like to see Pat Cummins have an opportunity,” Waugh said on Wednesday

“They say bowlers can’t do it, but they said keepers couldn’t do it. I think we have to find out if a bowler can be a captain of Australia. I don’t see why not.”

Waugh said Cummins, who is now 28 and has played 128 games for Australia across all formats, including 34 Tests, had the right “acumen” to be a successful leader

“I’ve always thought that if he’s bowling the vice-captain could set the field to give him a mental break,” Waugh told SEN.

“He has good acumen, the respect of the players and he’s ready to go.

“I think when Tim Paine steps down, Pat Cummins is the man to step in.”

Originally published as Australian cricket legend Steve Waugh wants Pat Cummins to be Australia’s next Test skipper

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Scott Morrison meets with ‘dear friend’ Narendra Modi at Cop26

After a series of frosty encounters at the G20 summit in Rome, Scott Morrison has finally found a mate at Cop26.

Scott Morrison has been thanked for being a “dear friend” to India on the sidelines of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday morning took to Twitter to declare there is never “a dull moment” when he’s with his friend Mr Morrison.

It came just hours after he praised the Australian medical regulator’s decision to recognise India’s locally produced Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin.

Mr Morrison later tweeted it was “wonderful” to see his friend at Cop26.

As the G20 leaders’ summit kicked off last week, Australia and India were joined only by China to resist a global bid to phase out coal-fired power and mining.

In his address to the Cop26 summit, Mr Modi committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2070 – two decades later than the rest of the world.

The announcement falls short of a key goal of the climate summit, which is for nations to agree to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

India is the world’s fourth biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, the US and the EU.

It is the fifth largest export market for Australian coal, and imports into the country have risen off the back of Australian trade woes with China.

Mr Modi also promised his nation would transition to generating 50 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2030.

The Indian leader made the most of his time at the UN leaders’ summit, whizzing around to meet with several of his international counterparts.

Earlier, the Indian Prime Minister was pictured with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles.

He thanked the royal for his commitment to sustainable development and climate change.

Originally published as Scott Morrison meets with ‘dear friend’ Narendra Modi at Cop26

Read related topics:Climate ChangeScott Morrison

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England Test cricket captain Joe Root makes bombshell claim ahead of Ashes

Joe Root has thrown the gauntlet down ahead of the Ashes by making a bold claim about the Australian cricket team.

English captain Joe Root says Australia’s upset loss to India at the Gabba will haunt the side ahead of the Ashes, which begin at the very same ground in just over a month.

Root believes the Aussies lost their stronghold on the Gabba in January when an understrength Indian 11 handed them their first defeat at the venue in 32 years.

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Root said the loss would embolden his side when it arrives down under for the Ashes.

“Look at that India team that won at the Gabba. They were a long way from their first-choice 11 but they had no fear,” he told The Guardian.

“They stood up to Australia and won crucial parts of that Test.

“It will give every player in our squad a huge amount of confidence and just plant a little bit of doubt in Australia’s mind.

“Having to go back there and play again for the first time against us, what with it being such a stronghold for them for such a long period of time. We now know that it’s not.”

Root’s comments were reminiscent of those made by his Australian counterpart Tim Paine ahead of the 2019 Ashes.

In the lead-up to the first Test of that series, Paine was asked whether there was a ground more intimidating than Edgbaston in Birmingham, where England had won 11 matches in a row across all formats.

The skipper enraged the English public with his response: “I could name you 15”.

Australia went on to win that first Test in a 251-run shellacking, but the series ultimately resulted in draw.

Root’s latest jab continued the war of words that has preceded the follow-up series.

No Test side has played more cricket since the pandemic began than the English and when Root expressed concerns with travel and bubble fatigue, he was met with little sympathy from Paine.

“No one is forcing you to come. If you don’t want to come, don’t come,” Paine told SEN.

“The Ashes are going ahead. The first Test is on 8 December, whether Joe is here or not. There will be a squad of England players coming here.”

Injuries have kept Jofra Archer, Olly Stone and Sam Curran from featuring in that squad, but the English have been bolstered by the late inclusion of Ben Stokes.

Stokes, England’s second-highest rated batter in the ICC player rankings, was initially left out of the squad but has managed to overcome injury and mental health concerns and commit to travelling.

“The fact he feels he’s in a place where he’s ready to play cricket again is the most exciting thing,” Root told The Guardian.

Originally published as England captain Joe Root makes bombshell claim ahead of Ashes

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Australian opener David Warner wants to open the batting with Will Pucovski when the Ashes starts in December

The race is on for Will Pucovski to get Ashes ready, and now he’s got the ultimate support to open for Australia.

Australian opener David Warner is all in on walking out to bat with Will Pucovski in the Ashes opener at the Gabba, labelling the young Victorian a “hell of a player”.

After just one Test together last summer against India, for partnerships of just six and 16, Warner declared 23-year-old Pucovski was “primed” for international cricket.

Pucovski is expected to make a playing return from a 10th concussion, suffered during training earlier in October, in Victoria’s Sheffield Shield clash with NSW at the MCG from November 5.

He should have two matches to show he’s ready for a return to the Test team, and everyone at Victoria who has watched him through the pre-season is adamant he’ll only need that much time to get into batting shape.

Warner said the selectors would have the final say, with Marcus Harris and potentially even Usman Khawaja in the discussion should Pucovski not come up. But the 35-year-old star knows who he wants to bat with.

“The selectors will pick the people who are in form, bring it down to who they think are the right two or three candidates, then make a decision,” Warner said.

“Looking back, Puck was in waiting, then he played (his one Test), then hurt his shoulder and he’s been recovering. But he’s a hell of a player, he’s primed and right for international cricket.

“If I was to make a judgment call, he’s the first person who is on the top of their list.”

Warner dismissed any issues over a combination of two left-handers if Pucovski isn’t available despite the damage veteran English fats bowler Stuart Broad did to the lefties in the 2019 Ashes.

Broad removed Warner seven times in 10 innings as the opener managed a mere 95 runs, only passing 11 once.

But Warner said things would be different in Australia.

“Australia is different when it comes to left-hand batting and the opposition,” he said.

“We know the conditions. I can’t see the ball reacting to the wicket like it did in England. In Australia you can leave a lot of balls on length, in England those length balls are hitting the stumps.

“It doesn’t worry me too much what the (opening) combination is. Whoever the selectors decide to choose, they will pick the person who is in form.”

Victorian coach Chris Rogers said as long as Pucovski looked “comfortable” when he made his batting return, he’d be ready to step back up to Test level

“The first thing you want to see is him playing well and be comfortable out in the middle, particularly playing the short ball. How many games they want to see that in, I can’t tell you that,” Rogers said.

“He can come out and get a 200 and walk into the Test team and get a 60. You know when you throw balls to him, it’s different, I think perhaps they just want to see him go out and look comfortable and them maybe they’ll be confident to pick him.

“If he went out and scored a big score, I’d definitely pick him.”

Originally published as Australian opener David Warner wants to open the batting with Will Pucovski when the Ashes starts in December

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Thailand prepares to welcome back tourists after devastating shutdown

Bangkok’s hotels, street food carts and tuk-tuks are preparing to welcome back tourists as Thailand gears up to re-open on November 1 to fully vaccinated visitors.

Hotels, street food carts and tuk-tuks are gearing up for the return of tourists to Bangkok as Thailand prepares to re-open on November 1 to fully vaccinated visitors after 18 months of Covid travel curbs.

From November 1, fully vaccinated visitors travelling from more than 40 “low-risk” countries will be allowed to enter with a negative Covid result, retesting again upon arrival.

Originally published as Thailand prepares to welcome back tourists after devastating shutdown

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Cleo Smith search: Pilot reveals chilling detail from remote campsite

A pilot who was one of the first people searching for Cleo Smith made a worrying observation when he arrived at the campsite where she was last seen.

A pilot who was one of the first people to begin the search for missing Cleo Smith says the four-year-old was probably gone from the area long before police arrived on the scene.

Justin Borg received a desperate call from Cleo’s parents on Saturday morning, pleading for him to help find a missing preschooler.

He quickly sent his Coral Coast Helicopter Services team out to search for the girl, as his group of “world class” musterers scoured the surrounding area waiting for police to arrive.

Mr Borg’s team spent the whole day scouring the landscape, but saw nothing that shed any light on Cleo’s disappearance.

“We were just running out the block of possibilities asking ‘where do we look next?” Mr Borg told The West Australian.

“We were pretty sure she wasn’t in the area when we conducted our second search.

“When we go and search for somebody, if they are in the area you find them really quick. Especially if you are talking abnormal colours.”

Mr Borg said the Pink jumpsuit that Cleo was wearing when she disappeared would have stood out starkly against the landscape.

“We flew at a height where we were just glancing over the country side. And then when we found nothing on the broad area search, we started a more slow and thorough search,” Mr Borg said.

“We made sure we looked under every rock, every tree, and every bush with the chopper.”

It has now been seven days since Cleo was reported missing from her family’s tent.

Police believe the four-year-old was taken, with a task force set up to find her.

A spokesman for the Western Australian Police force told NCA NewsWire that officers believed Cleo was located somewhere beyond the campsite.

“They’ve searched absolutely everywhere they possibly can in that area, and they’re confident that she’s not within that area,” the spokesman said.

“It’s moved to an investigative stage, because they’ve done all the searching they can and there’s no evidence or information to suggest she’s wandered off.”

The campsite where the four-year-old vanished a week ago has reopened to the public.

Cleo was staying in a tent with her family at the coastal Blowholes Campground in Macleod, near Carnarvon in Western Australia’s north, when she was reported missing about 6am last Saturday.

After a week of searching the rugged terrain for the young girl, police confirmed it was likely she had been taken from the tent.

The tent zip had been opened higher than Cleo could have reached. Her sleeping bag was also missing.

While the search at the campsite is over, locals and holiday-makers have been urged to remain on the lookout.

Detectives have also revealed there are still witnesses from the crime scene who are yet to come forward.

Police believe there are people who were staying at the campsite who have not identified themselves.

They are urging the mystery campers to make contact.

Police are now performing a radio blitz in a desperate attempt to gather information on Cleo’s whereabouts.

A message is being broadcast across stations WA state imploring residents with any information to come forward to assist police.

“This is an urgent announcement from WA Police Force, police need your help to find Cleo Smith,” the announcement said.

“In the early hours of Saturday the 16th of October, little Cleo vanished from her tent at the Blowholes, near Carnarvon.

“Now the state government is offering $1 million reward. Can you help find her?

“The four-year-old was wearing a Pink onesie. She was wrapped in a sleeping bag. Now she‘s gone.

“Please help us find her. Any information, call Crime Stoppers.”

Police are asking anyone who was within a 1,000 kilometre radius of the Blowholes campsite to send through any dashcam and security footage they have.

Footage of motel check-in and communal areas, service stations, fast food outlets and bakeries, truck stops and camping areas, children‘s clothing stores, pharmacies and cosmetic and camping store are particularly important.

The requested footage or image should be from 6pm on Friday October 15 to 6pm on Sunday October 17.

Footage can be uploaded online or discussed with Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

The police’s message comes as Cleo’s best friend Naya also issued a plea of her own.

Speaking to 7 News, Naya said she “misses (Cleo) a lot now she’s lost”.

“I want her to come back. She needs to come home because she needs to be with her family,” she said.

Naya drew a picture of Cleo and wrote in a note: “Dear Cleo, can you please come back for a little while and come to my nan’s. I miss you, I hope you are all right. Love, Naya.”

A special task force of more than 100 officers has been formed to investigate Cleo’s disappearance.

Between 10 and 20 registered sex offenders live in the Carnarvon area but police said this week that there were no suspects.

Cleo’s disappearance has made headlines in countries around the world, including the UK, US, New Zealand and India.

The state government is offering a $1m reward for information that resulted in finding Cleo, or led to the arrest and conviction of whoever was involved in her disappearance.

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 131 444.

Originally published as Pilot who helped search for Cleo Smith says girl was gone from the campsite before police arrived

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Matildas host Brazil in two-game Sydney series

The Matildas have only won twice in 12 matches under Tony Gustavsson, but the Swedish mentor isn’t too concerned.

Tony Gustavsson has defended his ordinary record since taking charge of the Matildas, saying his only concern was to perform well in major tournaments.

Gustavsson coaches the Matildas for a 13th time on Saturday night when the Australians host Brazil at Sydney’s CommBank Stadium.

Under the Swede, the Matildas have won just twice in 12 games, and have conceded a whopping 30 goals.

But Gustavsson pointed to his team’s fourth-placed finish at this year’s Tokyo Olympics as evidence that when it mattered, the Matildas performed.

His next target is success at next year’s Asian Cup, which starts in January in India, with the long-term goal being a triumphant 2023 World Cup on home soil.

“Yes, we want to win every game we play, but I’m not going to change my mindset in terms of putting this team through these preparations that I think (are) very important to then win something (at the) Asian Cup,” Gustavsson said.

“And if we don’t perform there, I’m the first one to take that hit. I’ll be OK with that.”

Gustavsson was also happy to take a “hit” for the Matildas’ defensive woes.

“Yes, we’ve conceded a lot of goals, but if you should criticise someone for that, it’s me, because I’m putting the players through a process here where it’s all about preparation,” he said.

The former USA women’s team assistant coach said that 15 years ago he might have had a different attitude and played for a 1-0 win rather than try to entertain.

“That’s not what this team is about. That’s not what these fans want to see,” Gustavsson said.

“We want to be aggressive and score a lot of goals. We’ve showed we can score a lot of goals but (must) defend better without being conservative.”

Gustavsson said the Matildas needed to cope with the pressure and scrutiny currently on them following Lisa De Vanna’s allegations of assault, bullying, harassment and grooming in Australian women’s football.

“What I’m trying to do is explain to players and staff is, if you genuinely want to be the team that can lift that (World Cup) trophy in ’23, we need to get used to performing under pressure, and look at pressure as a privilege, because that means there’s a lot of interest in our team … that’s a good thing,” he said.

“I hope this isn’t interpreted as me being disrespectful to the other important things that’s talked about now, meaning all the events in women’s football, but there’s so many things to be excited about here.”

Originally published as Results in friendly matches aren’t a priority for Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson

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