McDermott appointed coach
Former Test paceman Craig McDermott has been appointed bowling coach for the Australia team, Cricket Australia (CA) said yesterday in Sydney. McDermott, who took 291 wickets in 71 Tests for Australia between 1984 and 1996, will replace Troy Cooley in the role after being preferred to South African Allan Donald and compatriot Jason Gillespie, among other candidates. “It’s great to be back as part of the Australian team set-up again and I can’t wait to get started working with the bowlers and the rest of the team,” McDermott said. “We’ve got some challenging tours ahead in the coming months, but I’m excited at the opportunity to be part of the group that helps get Australia back to number one in all forms of cricket.” Australia slumped to fifth in the world Test rankings after a humbling Ashes series defeat earlier this year, during which the English tourists hammered Australia’s bowling attack in all but one Test.
Zimbabwe players probed
Zimbabwean police have questioned three national players as part of a probe into an alleged match-fixing scam in Asia, a state daily in Harare reported yesterday. Washington Arubi, David Kutyauripo and Guthrie Zhokinyi from premier league club Dynamos were picked up from a training session by fraud squad detectives and released after giving statements. “The players said they were asked what happened during the tour to Malaysia,” a source was quoted by the daily. “It was just a brief interrogation and they were released.” Criminal Investigation Department spokesman Augustine Zimbili could neither deny nor confirm the players’ interrogation. In 2009, former Zimbabwe Football Association chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya sent the national team to play unsanctioned friendlies in Thailand, Syria and Malaysia linked to a betting syndicate. Rushwaya was subsequently fired for her actions in October last year. She is also said to have cleared former top league champions Monomotapa to travel to Malaysia where they masqueraded as the national team.
Blackadder defends Williams
Canterbury Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has jumped to the defense of the “unbelievable” Sonny Bill Williams, who has been the target of scathing criticism from Springboks boss Peter de Villiers. Speaking to his home newspaper The Press from South Africa, where the Crusaders are preparing to play the Central Cheetahs this weekend, Blackadder was not prepared to get into a public debate with de Villiers. However, he said rugby needed heroes like Sonny Bill, who was a “fantastic player and a great role model.” Before the Crusaders monstered the Western Stormers last weekend, de Villiers was dismissive of Williams’ flamboyant offloading skills, which he described as “a bad example to aspiring youngsters.” “I hope he will mature his game,” the Springboks coach said. “He’s doing everything wrong what rugby principles require of you in the game. Backhand passes shouldn’t be the norm ... it has become the norm, now everyone wants to do that kind of nonsense.” Williams starred in the Crusaders 20-14 win over the Stormers with his offloads and powerful running, winning praise from Blackadder. “This game needs heroes. All the kids are running around calling offloads ‘Sonny Bill Williams,’” he said.