Archive for May, 2019

Pace tyro Rabada surging through Proteas ranks

By admin | 杭州桑拿

When South Africa broke its bafflingly poor record at international tournaments earlier this year, in the under-19 World Cup, team coach Ray Jennings predicted its pace spearhead would be playing for the Proteas’ senior team within three years – maybe even two.
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Kagiso Rabada’s progression in that sense has been, like his bowling, rapid. What Jennings expected would take years was instead completed within seven months, on Wednesday night at Adelaide Oval.

At 19 years and 164 days, Rabada became South Africa’s youngest Twenty20 debutant and third youngest in any format over the past half a century – and all before he has even completed his first full season in domestic cricket in South Africa.

That the 191-centimetre paceman consistently reached 140 km/h in the first Twenty20 against Australia, and could do so again if chosen at the MCG on Friday night, would not have surprised anyone who saw him excel in the under-19 World Cup, not least Australia’s batsmen against whom he claimed 6-25 in the semi-final to surge to public prominence in South Africa and the world.

“Ever since I started playing … I’ve always had pace. Always,” Rabada said this week. “I didn’t get lots of wickets in school, but my economy was really low. I didn’t have one single five-for for the first team. But as soon as I got to the provincial ranks, that’s when I started to get wickets.”

South Africa’s determination to expedite Rabada’s progression from the elite junior teams to the elite senior teams was reflected in his selection for South Africa A for a mid-year series in Australia, and then in the top team in the one-day tri-series in Zimbabwe that also featured Australia.

“Things have happened really quickly for me, but I love it. I love the opportunity,” he said.

That Rabada did not play in the series in Zimbabwe – he was deliberately chosen as a non-playing member, to ease him into international cricket – did not grate on him at all.

He was instead rapt to be able to approach the likes of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel for advice, as prospective teammates rather than just idols.

Because of Rabada’s rapid pace and skin colour, he is likely to generate comparisons to now-retired Proteas fast-bowler Makhaya Ntini. Rabada is less bothered by such comparisons than he is baffled by them.

“To me it [skin colour] is irrelevant,” he explained. “I’m labelled as a ‘born free’ in South Africa. Obviously I know the history, but I didn’t live through that era so I don’t know what it’s like. Obviously there is racism around still, but I don’t see skin colour in anything.

“I’m me, and I’m trying to be like me and no one else. I look up to lots of bowlers, not just one bowler … it doesn’t matter what country you’re from. If I like something … I’ll try and incorporate that into me. But at the end of the day I want to be me, not anyone else.”

Kyle Abbott, who is emerging as South Africa’s most reliable paceman outside its big three of Steyn, Morkel and Vernon Philander, said Rabada had impressed him with his efforts in training and on the field, as well as socially.

“There’s a lot of talent there. For a 19-year-old to be bowling … at 140-odd clicks … is really encouraging,” Abbott said.

“The environment we’ve got here is a perfect one for a youngster to come into. We respect each other and he’s fitted in incredibly well. I definitely think he’s going to be one to look out for in the future.”

Rabada’s rapid progression through the ranks has already forced him to abandon a plan to study law.

He will still study at university, at his parents’ urging, but will pursue a less onerous qualification more conducive to his playing duties in domestic cricket for Gauteng and Johannesburg’s Lions, as well as the national team.

Rabada’s intent to maintain his close ties with family and friends has already helped him adjust to life on the road and “not [be] letting the fame go to my head”.

“Family is important; even on this tour they’ve really helped me. I’ve been on the phone with them and they’re there. They encourage me a lot,” he said.

“When you feel down – and I know I’ve felt a bit down for various reasons – [they’re invaluable] when you’re seeking some advice.

“I do feel nerves, I admit it. I’m not Superman. But they [family] really get your head in the right space, and I’m grateful for that.”

Council awards Buildev Group company sand-mining lease against advice of staff

By admin | 杭州桑拿

Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie. PORT Stephens councillors awarded a sandmining lease over council land to a Buildev Group company against the advice of council staff and an independent expert, who recommended that it go to another company with decades’ more experience.
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Castle Quarry Products, which was unveiled this year as the Newcastle Jets’ new naming rights sponsor, was issued the lease in 2013 to mine up to 6million tonnes of sand from the 175-hectare Cabbage Tree Road, Williamtown property, amid widespread publicity about the mounting financial woes of other Buildev Group companies and major shareholder Nathan Tinkler.

Criticisms have since been levelled at mayor Bruce MacKenzie for taking part in confidential council deliberations on the matter within a day of his own family sand supply company, Macka’s Sand, withdrawing from the tender process for the lease.

The issuing of the lease also followed council investigations and legal proceedings in 2009 over alleged unauthorised sandmining by another Buildev company, Buildev Properties, at Fullerton Cove.

The Newcastle Herald can reveal the proceedings were dismissed by consent, with Buildev Properties required to pay the council’s legal costs under the settlement.

But it would not agree to pay about $80,000 – the amount that the council estimated the company made from the alleged mining – into a community trust fund, as was sought by the council.

Cr MacKenzie was among councillors to back Castle Quarry Products for the Williamtown lease during a confidential vote in April 2013, because the financial return to council stood to be far more lucrative, he said.

He told the Herald that council staff got it ‘‘absolutely wrong’’ in recommending the lease go to M.Collins & Sons and had given the advice as ‘‘they were fearful of any involvement by Nathan Tinkler’’.

‘‘I wasn’t,’’ Cr MacKenzie said.

Sensing an opportunity for big earnings, the council called for tenders to mine the sand at Williamtown in 2012. It received nine responses and hired an independent specialist to help evaluate them.

According to council documents, M.Collins & Sons was unanimously recommended in February 2013 as the preferred tenderer as it had the highest overall rating against criteria that included royalties and base rent to the council, previous experience, management and technical resources and capabilities.

Councillors were advised Sydney-based Collins ‘‘has been in operation since 1975’’.

Castle Quarry Products, which company records show was registered in late 2010, had the better prices but had not satisfied tender documentation requirements.

But a majority of councillors opted to terminate the tender process on February 12, a day after councillors received a memo that Cr MacKenzie’s family company had withdrawn.

The details remain under wraps and the council has refused to release its tender evaluations, but acting corporate services group manager Carmel Foster cited ‘‘confusion’’ over the different price structures that made the tenders difficult to compare.

Castle Quarry Products and Collins were invited to give presentations to councillors.

Collins upped the royalty payment it was offering but this was still lower than Castle Quarry Products, which had increased its own prices to include annual CPI rises, according to the council.

Ms Foster said all pricing information was kept ‘‘strictly confidential’’.

Councillors voted for Castle Quarry Products in April after being advised again to accept Collins, although Cr Geoff Dingle and Cr John Nell sought to have the meeting open to the public.

Lease conditions included that the council retained intellectual property rights over documents prepared in order to obtain project approvals.

In July that year, Castle Quarry Products deposited $250,000 into a bank account as security.

Ms Foster said the deal was expected to raise more than $20million for the council – about 27per cent more than if Collins had been selected.

Nearly three years on, the mining has yet to start.

The council said the project remained on track, although advice to councillors shows the company was permitted ‘‘to delay progress’’ of an environmental impact statement because of bushfires on the site last year.

Castle Quarry Products is housed at Fullerton Cove – the same site of the alleged unauthorised mining in 2009 – where it operates another sandmine. The property is owned by a third Buildev company, BD (NSW) J001.

The site’s future is unclear, with the Herald revealing in July that receivers had been appointed to BD (NSW) J001.

Buildev co-founder Darren Williams remains a director of Castle Quarry Products, but Tinkler associate Troy Palmer pulled out in August, amid the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings into Buildev’s and Mr Tinkler’s secret political donations and lobbying.

Cr MacKenzie told the Herald he was not afraid to justify the deal ‘‘in any setting’’ and he was ‘‘prepared to take the risk’’ for a higher return.

But Cr Dingle said ‘‘two years down the track, they haven’t even done the [environmental impact statement]’’.

Calls to Buildev were not returned.

Hyundai in bid for top marques with Genesis

By admin | 杭州桑拿

SERIOUS VALUE: Hyundai’s new Genesis has refinement and pricing on its side for its attack on the Australian market.KOREAN car maker Hyundai is set to come out swinging when it makes its first foray into the Australian luxury car market next week with its new Genesis large sedan.
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Hyundai is planning an attack on established luxury brands Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Jaguar and Lexus and will hit its rivals with a package encompassing size, style, finesse, warranty and marketing, the new car arriving on the market with a vast standard equipment list.

If that is not enough, there is always the pricing, Hyundai putting the car on the market for $60,000 (plus on-road costs), a number that could find favour with Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore fans wondering where their next cars will come from once local manufacturing stops.

That pricing brings a staggering amount of standard equipment, with everything from nine airbags to a stack of electronic safety systems, radar-guided cruise control and a spacious, leather-trimmed interior.

But owners wanting more will be able to take the Sensory Pack of extras for another $11,000 or the Ultimate Pack with even more equipment (but including the complete Sensory Pack) for $22,000, making the best-specced variant an $82,000 buy and more than $45,000 less than a comparable Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Hyundai is also making a statement with the Genesis warranty with 10 years roadside assistance, a five year unlimited warranty and five years or 75,000kilometres free servicing.

Hyundai Australia chief operating officer John Elsworth said the introduction of the big luxury car was all about challenging the traditional values in the luxury car category.

‘‘We’re proud to put the Hyundai badge on this vehicle and we are pretty confident this car will stand the test of time and quality,’’ he said at the car’s national launch.

In some markets, Genesis is available with 3.0 and 3.8litre V6 engines as well as a 5.0litre V8 and either rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. For Australia, Hyundai has opted for the 232-kilowatt, 397-Newtonmetre, 3.8-litre engine with eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel-drive.

Movie review: Love, Rosie a true love tale

By admin | 杭州桑拿

FAIRY FLOSS: Lily Collins stars in Love, Rosie.LOVE, ROSIE (M)
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Stars: Lily Collins, Christian Cooke, Sam Claflin, Tamsin Egerton

Director: Christian Ditter

Screening: selected cinemas

Rating: ★★

IT would be hard to find a film with less local flavour than Love, Rosie – the work of a German director, Christian Ditter, and an Iranian-English screenwriter, Juliette Towhidi, adapting an Irish novel, Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern.

Shooting took place in Toronto and Dublin, though all the actors speak with English accents. The film involves best friends who seem destined to become a couple, but don’t.

Instead, Rosie (Lily Collins) falls pregnant to her prom date (Christian Cooke), who leaves her. Meanwhile, her soulmate Alex (Sam Claflin) goes off to Harvard where he takes up with a snooty American girl (Tamsin Egerton).

The humour is slightly bawdier than expected.

Despite this, the film remains a traditional Cinderella story, in which the patience of true love is at last rewarded.

Typically for the genre, this entails some callousness: secondary characters are allowed to seem like actual romantic possibilities before being kicked to the kerb.

What all this adds up to is a film with the consistency of fairy floss.

Christian Rein’s cinematography has the inviting warmth of a latter-day Woody Allen movie, cranked up beyond realism.

Collins manages to be sweet and chirpy without being too cloying. Claflin is well cast as a good-looking doofus, although it’s a stretch to think of him getting intoHarvard: given his failure to register Rosie’s extremely obvious passion at the outset, you’d have to presume he’s either not that keen or not that bright.

Movie review: Interstellar, bold sci-fi is on the dark side

By admin | 杭州桑拿

PIONEERING ASTRONAUT: Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar.INTERSTELLAR (M)
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Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Mackenzie Foy, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck

Director: Christopher Nolan

Screening: general release

Rating: ★★★

IN a standout year for science-fiction cinema, Interstellar takes the prize for ambition. Boldly overreaching and fearlessly cheesy, Christopher Nolan’s space travel epic aims to go where no filmmaker has gone before – at least, no filmmaker since Stanley Kubrick.

On near-future Earth, resources are running out. Most have given up on space travel as an impossible dream, but not the ruggedly individualistic Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a test pilot and engineer turned unwilling farmer, who sets off through a wormhole to find humanity a new home.

The situation may be dire but the set-up has a Jules Verne innocence, especially when Coop is puzzling over scientific anomalies with his precocious daughter, Murph (Mackenzie Foy). Once the voyage gets going – with Murph furious at being left behind – the tone grows more sober but not less intriguing.

What are Coop and his companions destined to encounter? Aliens? Time travel? God Himself?

Only near the climax does interest start to wane. Rather than preserving a sense of mystery as Kubrick does in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Nolan insists on explaining everything, meaning that much of the thrill is liable to evaporate on second viewing.

Still, there’s no question that Nolan sees himself as an artist, not just an entertainer. Interstellar may be a blockbuster spectacle but it’s also a puzzle that bends the laws of space and time to create different kinds of links between images, like Nolan’s Memento.

Nolan has never been strong on what you’d call the human touch: his insistence on shooting on celluloid seems meant to give his basically mechanical vision a semblance of organic warmth. The rule of thumb is that his films work better the more they verge on horror – as in Memento, The Prestige and parts of The Dark Knight, all of which hinge on the implication that a seemingly upright protagonist might be merely an empty shell.

Unfortunately, Interstellar instead goes in the direction of emotional uplift: there must be more weeping here than in all Nolan’s other movies put together. For Anne Hathaway, who plays another of the astronauts, this is business as usual. But even the swaggering McConaughey has to keep something in the tank for when Coop’s defences come down.

That the big speeches about the need for connection ring hollow is unsurprising, considering that Nolan has yet to direct a convincing love scene. Beneath the schmaltz lies a characteristic chill, evident literally in the harsh landscapes, and figuratively in a plot where most of the characters are loners of one kind or another.

At the heart of it all is a guilt that’s never resolved: why does Coop agree to travel into space and abandon his kids? But given his boredom with farming, it’s clear that part of him can’t wait.