Bichel hangs up boots
Former Australian Test pace bowler Andy Bichel yesterday announced his retirement from first-class cricket after 17 seasons. Bichel, 38, who played 19 Tests and 67 one-day internationals for Australia, said he had been forced to quit because of an ongoing shoulder problem since having reconstructive surgery 14 months ago. “I don’t want to let anyone down,” Bichel told a press conference. “It [the shoulder] is good enough for grade [club] cricket, but I didn’t want to get out there [for Queensland] and not do what I used to do.” Bichel captured 58 Test wickets at 32.24 and hit 355 runs. He finished two games short of 100 first-class matches for Queensland but is the second-highest first-class wicket-taker in state history with 463 wickets, behind only Michael Kasprowicz (505) and is the third-highest wicket-taker in Australian first-class domestic cricket, behind leg-spinner Clarrie Grimmett and Kasprowicz.
Wildcats stun Wigan
Super League outsiders Wakefield stunned Wigan 12-6 on Sunday, a victory made more special by the Wildcats’ decision to dedicate this year’s campaign to prop forward Adam Watene who died of a heart attack in October. Wakefield, who have started the season as 100-1 title outsiders, were shocked by the death of the 32-year-old Cook Islands player who collapsed while training. They led 10-0 at half-time thanks to a brace of tries from debutant winger Dave Halley. Joel Tomkins scored Wigan’s only try but Warriors, who had Australians Mark Riddell and Amos Roberts making their debuts, never got out of first gear. Wakefield skipper Jason Demetriou wore the No. 8 shirt of Watene. “In Jason’s last words before we went out onto the pitch, he said Adam would have wanted us to play for 80 minutes with passion and purpose and perhaps that summed up the performance,” Wakefield coach John Kear said. Sunday’s other match between Harlequins and Bradford Bulls was postponed due to a frozen pitch while, on Friday, defending champions Leeds enjoyed a 28-6 win over newboys Celtic Crusaders.
Voeckler claims victory
Frenchman Thomas Voeckler of Bouygues Telecom claimed overall victory in France’s Etoile de Besseges stage race on Sunday. Voeckler finished comfortably ahead of Slovenian Jure Kocjan and Russian Yuri Trofimov, last year’s winner, in the general classification. Another Frenchman, Jean-Eudes Demaret of Cofidis, won the fifth and final stage after 145 km of racing between Gagnieres and Besseges. An eight-man breakaway formed after just 10km but none of those proved a threat to Voeckler’s overall lead. They were allowed a maximum lead of nearly five minutes and despite going on to dispute the finale their advantage was kept constantly in check by the peloton. In the finale Demaret, who was part of the initial breakaway, beat Jimmy Engoulvent and Frederic Guesdon.
Germany win team relay
Germany won the team relay at the World Championships for the second straight time. The team of Felix Loch, Natalie Geisenberger, Andre Florschutz and Torsten Wustlich easily bested the Austrian quartet of Daniel Pfister, Nina Reithmayer, Peter Penz and Georg Fischler at Mount Van Hoevenberg on Sunday. The Latvian team of Guntis Rekis, Maija Tiruma, and Andris and Juris Sics took the bronze. The Germans finished in 2 minutes, 39.630 seconds, 1.510 seconds ahead of the Austrians.