I owe my England chance to Warne, says Carberry

The former Australia spinner told British media one-test Carberry would make a better opener than talented youngster Root and was duly vindicated on Wednesday when county cricket veteran Carberry shared an unbeaten first wicket stand of 318 with Cook on the opening day of the Hobart tour match against Australia A.

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Warne, who now dissects English players as a television pundit after a career of worrying them with his legspin, may live to rue praising 33-year-old Carberry after his former Hampshire protégé got a big confidence boost with his unbeaten 153 at Bellerive Oval.

“I think Shane Warne is basically the reason I actually got a chance to play test cricket,” Carberry told reporters of his mentor, who captained Hampshire from 2004-07.

“I was a young guy who was a little bit lost in county cricket. I didn’t really get an opportunity.

“I came to Hampshire and from day one he made me feel very very much at home. He gave me the backing any young player needs and allowed me to play a brand of cricket that I wanted to play.

“So I think he was very influential in terms of me actually doing what I’ve done and obviously getting a chance of playing for England.”

England are bidding for a fourth straight Ashes success after winning the first of this year’s back-to-back series 3-0 at home.

SCATHING CRITICISM

Warne’s scathing criticism of Cook, saying his lack of invention as a captain could cost England the Ashes, drew a predictable “look at the scoreboard” response from Cook on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the England captain let his bat do the talking as he compiled an unbeaten 154 to pick up where he left off in Australia after his dominant three-century effort during the 2010-11 Ashes tour, which England won 3-1.

Pundits suggested Cook should ignore Warne’s ‘trash talking’ but he appeared to heed the Australian’s more constructive advice when Root was named to play at number five in Hobart.

Carberry played his sole test against Bangladesh in 2010 and has not had a second chance since, having suffered a blood clot in his lung that prevented him boarding long-haul flights and with former captain Andrew Strauss and Cook firmly ensconced at the top of the order until a year ago.

Concerned that health problems could cut his career short, he became a qualified electrician and had little idea he would be padding up for England on their tour Down Under until a few weeks ago.

“Nothing much was really explained to me,” Carberry said of his selection as an opener for the Hobart match on Wednesday.

“I was just told: ‘Carbs, you’re going in with Cookie’ and that was good enough for me.

“To do it for England is a very special moment and (in) Aussie (Australia) to do it, even better.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Ken Ferris)


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Louw backs breakdown specialist Gray in battle on floor

Louw, South Africa’s chief exponent in poaching and securing the ball on the ground, says the art plays a much greater role in matches in the northern hemisphere where referees are generally happier to allow teams more opportunity to contest.

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“Richie has been great for us, he is a great addition to the coaching set-up with his philosophies around the breakdown,” Bath loose forward Louw told a news conference in Cardiff, where Saturday’s test takes place.

“Being a Scot he is obviously a bit more attuned to how the guys play over here. He brings a different perspective to that area.

“The guys have really caught on to him and believe in his views and the things he is saying. He has come up with some great drills and helped the guys develop their skills at the breakdown.

“We are now making the correct decisions, especially on defence, when to go in and when not to, and on attack you obviously want to get in there early to stop the opposition slowing your ball down.”

Irishman Alain Rolland will be in charge of Saturday’s match, the first time he will referee Wales since their 9-8 World Cup semi-final defeat by France in 2011 in which he sent off Welsh captain Sam Warburton.

“I think we have seen in the past, certainly in the last year, that northern hemisphere referees like to allow the breakdown to develop and allow more of a contest there,” Louw said.

“I think it is a big point in northern hemisphere rugby, guys do compete there, they like to counter-ruck and slow the opposition ball down. It is going to be a big challenge for us.

“The breakdown is a massive element, if we have a good platform to attack from it is always going to make you better as a side.”

After Wales this weekend, South Africa will play Scotland in Edinburgh on November 17 and France in Paris on November 23.

(Writing by Nick Said; Editing by Sonia Oxley)


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Banker payment was ‘insurance policy’, says F1’s Ecclestone

Billionaire Ecclestone is defending a $100 million damages claim brought by German media firm Constantin Medien who accuse him and three other defendants of deliberately undervaluing Formula One in the 2005 sale to safeguard his position as CEO.

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The legal fallout from the sale of a controlling stake in the business to CVC is threatening Ecclestone’s four-decade hold on the glamorous motor sport and complicating stalled efforts to float it on the stock market in Singapore.

A Munich court in 2012 jailed Gerhard Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer at German bank BayernLB, for tax evasion and bribery for taking a $44 million payment after the 2005 sale.

Ecclestone, 83, said he paid Gribkowsky 10 million pounds ($16 million) but said that was because the German banker was threatening to make damaging claims about a family trust to the British tax authorities that could have cost him up to 2 billion pounds.

“What I paid him was a very small amount, what I call an insurance policy,” Ecclestone told a hearing at the High Court in London, calling it “quite a cheap insurance policy”.

He said there was no link to a deal in which CVC paid BayernLB $830 million for a 47 percent stake in Formula One. “This issue was nothing to do with anyone except Gribkowsky and myself, nobody else.”

“SHAKEN DOWN”

Ecclestone has run Formula One for four decades, turning it into a money-spinner with annual revenue of around $2 billion generated by races held around the world watched by hundreds of millions of TV viewers.

A German court is due to decide next year whether Ecclestone himself should stand trial on bribery charges linked to the Gribkowsky payment. Ecclestone denies any wrongdoing.

Giving evidence in the damages case brought by Constantin Medien, Ecclestone repeated previous statements that he was being put under pressure by Gribkowsky who he feared would make false claims about his tax affairs.

He denied misleading Formula One board members including Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising group WPP, and Peter Brabeck, chairman of Nestle, about payments to Gribkowsky.

“It wasn’t the slightest concern of theirs,” he said. “I paid him because I was being I said ‘shaken down’,” he added, saying this was what he had told the Formula One directors in 2011 after Gribkowsky had been arrested.

Constantin is the successor to German media firm and former shareholder EM.TV. It says it missed out on a share of the proceeds had the sale price for the stake exceeded $1.05 billion.

It argues that Ecclestone favoured a sale to CVC because it planned to keep him on as CEO of a business which he continues to run as a hands-on chief executive.

Questioned repeatedly in court about newspaper reports quoting him after the Gribkowsky arrest, Ecclestone said: “Most of these journalists should be working closely with, what’s his name, Jeffrey Archer,” referring to the best-selling author and former Member of Parliament.

(Editing by David Holmes)


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South Africa recall World Cup winners Pietersen, Fourie

Fourie has not played for the Springboks since the 2011 World Cup after deciding to continue his rugby career in Japan, while Pietersen has not featured this year.

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Both played in the 2007 World Cup-winning campaign and are among five key backline players from that tournament named in the team by coach Heyneke Meyer along with captain Jean de Villiers, wing Bryan Habana and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez.

“We’re very fortunate to have two world class players in JP and Jaque available for selection and I wanted to get then into the action as soon as possible,” Meyer said in a South African Rugby Union (SARU) press release on Wednesday.

“They bring a vast amount of experience to the team and it was clear from our training sessions thus far that they are in great form and ready for Test rugby.”

Uncapped 22-year-old prop Frans Malherbe also comes in for the injured Jannie du Plessis, while the only other change to the pack of forwards is at lock, with Flip van der Merwe starting next to Eben Etzebeth in the middle row.

“Frans has big boots to fill, but he’s been with us for most of 2012 and shown good form since recovering from injury recently and we don’t have any doubts that he has what it takes to make the step up,” said Meyer.

“He’ll have two players with more than 50 Test caps each next to him in the scrum, and his general work-rate across the field and on defence is very good. I’m very happy for Frans.”

Pieter-Steph du Toit, could also make his test debut after the lock was included on the bench.

South Africa and Wales last met in Wellington during the pool stage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The Springboks won 17-16 thanks to a late try by Francois Hougaard.

South Africa team:

15-Pat Lambie, 14-JP Pietersen, 13-Jaque Fourie, 12-Jean de Villiers (captain), 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Fourie du Preez; 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Flip van der Merwe, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Frans Malherbe, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16-Adriaan Strauss, 17-Gurthro Steenkamp, 18-Coenie Oosthuizen, 19-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20-Siya Kolisi, 21-Ruan Pienaar, 22-JJ Engelbrecht, 23-Willie le Roux

(Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; editing by Ken Ferris)


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Springboks hand Malherbe Test debut

Prop Frans Malherbe is to make his debut for South Africa against Wales on Saturday, while other injuries have forced coach Heyneke Meyer into picking an experienced backline.

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The 22-year-old Malherbe comes in for the injured Jannie du Plessis and faces a baptism of fire against a tested Welsh front-row of British and Irish Lions veterans Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard and Gethin Jenkins.

“Frans has big boots to fill, but he’s been with us for most of 2012 and shown good form since recovering from injury recently and we don’t have any doubts that he has what it takes to make the step up,” Meyer said on Wednesday.

Malherbe will pack down alongside hooker Bismarck du Plessis and experienced Zimbabwe-born prop Tendai Mtawarira, something not lost on Meyer.

“He’ll have two players with more than 50 Test caps each next to him in the scrum, and his general work-rate across the field and on defence is very good,” the coach said.

The only other change to the pack is at lock, with Flip van der Merwe starting next to Eben Etzebeth in the second row.

Star backs JP Pietersen and Jaque Fourie are also back in the Springbok team for the match at the Millennium Stadium.

It will be Fourie’s first Test for South Africa since the Rugby World Cup in 2011, while a combination of injury and non-availability means Pietersen is back for his first taste of international rugby yet this season.

“We’re very fortunate to have two world-class players in JP and Jaque available for selection and I wanted to get them into the action as soon as possible,” Meyer said.

“They bring a vast amount of experience to the team and it was clear from our training sessions thus far that they are in great form and ready for Test rugby.”

A second uncapped player, Pieter-Steph du Toit, could make his Test debut for the Springboks, the lock having been included on the bench for this Test.

“To see Frans and Pieter-Steph make the step up to Test match rugby is wonderful,” Meyer said.

“They are two very promising young players and deserve to play for the Springboks, just like we’ve used, with great success, players such as Willie le Roux, Jan Serfontein, JJ Engelbrecht, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Trevor Nyakane in the last two seasons.”

Saturday’s match will be the first time the two countries have met since the Springboks edged a 2011 World Cup pool game in Wellington 17-16.

Wales, however, went on to reach the semi-finals and take successive Six Nations titles.

Wales have beaten South Africa just once in 26 internationals stretching back 107 years.

South Africa (15-1)

Pat Lambie; JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers (capt), Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw; Flip van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malberhe, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Ruan Pienaar, JJ Engelbrecht, Willie le Roux