India slam Jadeja fine for Anderson run-in

Indian allrounder Ravindra Jadeja has been fined 50 per cent of his match fee after being found guilty of “conduct contrary to the spirit of the game”, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on Friday.

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However, he has not been banned and remains free to play in the rest of the five-Test series with England.

Jadeja, 25, was involved in an incident with England seamer James Anderson during the lunch break on the second day of the drawn first Test at Trent Bridge on July 10.

England charged Jadeja with a level two offence under the ICC’s code of conduct in retaliation for India bringing a more serious level three charge against Anderson for allegedly abusing and pushing Jadeja.

However, ICC Australian match referee David Boon – following a two-and-a-half hour hearing in Southampton on Thursday involving the two players, their lawyers and respective cricket board representatives – downgraded Jadeja’s offence to level one status.

While a level two infringement could have led to Jadeja being banned for at least one match, the maximum penalty for a level one breach is 50 per cent of a player’s match fee.

“While I was in no doubt that confrontation did occur, and that such conduct was not in the spirit of the game and should not have taken place, I was not comfortably satisfied that this was a level two offence,” Boon said in an ICC statement.

“Therefore, in exercising my discretion under Article 7.6.5 of the Code and having heard all the evidence, I was comfortably satisfied that Mr Jadeja had committed a level one offence under Article 2.1.8 of the code.”

Although Boon found Jadeja guilty of a lesser charge than the one levelled against him by England, India team management were unhappy with his decision.

In a statement, they said they were “not satisfied with the verdict” and reserved their right of appeal, adding they believed Jadeja was “not at fault, and supports him fully”.

An England and Wales Cricket Board spokesman told AFP they were not commenting on the Jadeja decision.

Anderson’s case will be dealt with in a separate hearing under ICC code of conduct commissioner Gordon Lewis on August 1 – the day after the scheduled finish of the third Test in Southampton, where the England paceman and Jadeja are free to play.

If found guilty of a level three offence, Anderson faces a ban of two-four Tests.

That would rule him out of next month’s fourth Test at Old Trafford and the series finale at The Oval.

However, Lewis, like Boon, does have the option to downgrade Anderson’s charge if he finds him not guilty of a level three infringement.

India lead the series 1-0 after their second Test at Lord’s, the match ending with Jadeja’s run-out of Anderson after which the players were seen shaking hands.

Cronk stars in Storm NRL defeat of Broncos

Cameron Smith became the highest point-scoring forward in the NRL but it was Cooper Cronk who shone brightest as Melbourne continued their stranglehold over Brisbane on Friday night.

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Cronk scored a try and set up three others for the Storm in a top-shelf playmaking display to rack up a 30-8 victory at Suncorp Stadium – their seventh straight success over Brisbane.

The halfback’s performance prompted league great Darren Lockyer to claim Cronk’s broken arm in the State of Origin opener, forcing a six-week break, has been a blessing in disguise for Melbourne.

With six more games before the playoffs, the 30-year-old is fresh and at the top of his game to give Storm fans great hope of another premiership.

With the crucial win, Melbourne leapfrog Brisbane into sixth on the NRL table and in striking distance of a top-two shot.

Cronk compounded departing Broncos coach Anthony Griffin’s week of woe with his man-of-the-match performance while Smith broke Craig Fitzgibbon’s point-scoring record when he slotted his fourth conversion for 1605 points.

Through his right boot, Cronk set up the opening two tries for a 12-0 lead after 15 minutes.

He also threw the short ball for Ryan Hoffman to bust past Matt Gillett close to the line for his second try in the 52nd minute for a match-winning 18-4 lead.

Although Brisbane hit back through a freak try to Alex Glenn, Cronk then put the icing on the cake with a scintillating four-pointer of his own.

It was a disappointing second-half effort by the Broncos who had been motivated to produce their best in response to Griffin’s axing for Wayne Bennett’s imminent return next season.

It was one-way traffic in the opening 20 minutes as Melbourne enjoyed 85 per cent of possession.

As expected, the Storm targeted Ben Barba on Brisbane’s left-side defence but it was their right side which let the Broncos down as Cronk’s cross-kicks reaped tries to Marika Koroibete and Hoffman.

The 36,319-strong Brisbane crowd were up in arms over the video referee’s controversial decision to award the second, with Billy Slater taking Ben Hunt in the air but deemed to have been contesting the ball.

Bit by bit, the Broncos dragged themselves back into the match.

Barba’s confidence grew in both defence and attack and he ultimately sparked the fightback with a floating cut-out pass for Dale Copley to score.

But in the second half, they fell away badly.

Griffin said his side paid most for their sloppy start, and also rued the “50-50” decision for Hoffman’s first try.

“We killed ourselves,” he said. “We lost all our composure with the ball.”

Brisbane skipper Corey Parker denied the emotion of the week had an adverse affect on the team.

“It was a different week but that had nothing to do with the way we started and the way it panned out,” Parker said.

“We were up against a quality outfit tonight.”

Storm coach Craig Bellamy paid tribute to Cronk as the ultimate professional but also felt his side’s weight of possession early sapped Brisbane’s energy.

“The start of the game took a bit out of them with the amount of ball we had,” he said.

“If we didn’t have as much possession at the start of the game they might have been more dangerous but it took a lot of gas out of them.

“Our performance was really good. I was really happy defensively and with the ball we are getting a bit better each week.”

Smith was modest about his record mark as the highest-scoring forward, which now sits at 1607 points.

“Individual accolades are nice to have but they come on the back of team success,” he said.

“If I could score some tries that would be great, and I would have gone past it a while ago if I had.”

Knights snatch last-gasp win over Roosters

A Tyrone Roberts-inspired Newcastle Knights defied the odds in the second half to upset the Sydney Roosters 16-12 at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.

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Down 6-0 at halftime and without injured skipper Jarrod Mullen (abdominal strain), the 14th-placed Knights led 10-6 in the 63rd minute after two tries from Roberts.

The defending premiers took back the lead 12-10 in the 71st minute through a scrappy Frank-Paul Nuuausala try but Roberts came up with the matchwinner, kicking for Joey Leilua to score with just over a minute remaining.

The shock defeat leaves the Roosters’ title aspirations in plenty of doubt – this was their third loss to a team currently in the bottom four including just two games after being run down by the bottom-of-the-table Cronulla.

Newcastle, missing six regular first-graders, had drawn level when Roberts put Beau Scott through with a flat pass then backed up on the inside to score in the midway through the second half.

Dane Gagai converted, but only after Jared Warea-Hargreaves was given 10 minutes in the sin-bin for dissent.

Roberts was in again three minutes later when Willie Mason burst into the clear, recovered from a failed tackle and offloaded.

Gagai, though, missed an easy attempt at goal to leave the door open for the fifth-placed Roosters.

Nuuausala took advantage to score a lucky four-pointer with less than 10 minutes to go, Sonny Bill Williams offloading close to the ground and Nuuausala inadvertently kicked it through and regathered to score.

James Maloney added the extras to put the visitors back in front before Roberts and Leilua responded.

In the first half, a penalty for a Willie Mason high shot put the Roosters in position early and they capitalised in the second minute when 18-year-old Sione Mata’utia made a horror start to his NRL career.

The fullback, on debut in place of Darius Boyd who is seeking treatment for depression, slipped over attempting to gather a Jake Friend grubber to gift Anthony Minichiello a try in the second minute.

The Roosters dominated the rest of the half, getting over the line three times but having no success against a scrambling defence.

Mata’utia gained some redemption for his early howler with a desperate chase to force a knock-on from Maloney in the 15th minute after the pair sprinted to a deflected Gagai kick.

The video referee’s decision to overturn the onfield try was puzzling, while desperate defence from Robbie Rochow denied Maloney soon after.

Knights coach Wayne Bennett said it was his side’s best win in a season of missed opportunities.

He said he could not prouder of their efforts given last week’s poor performance in a 22-8 loss to Gold Coast in the Rise for Alex round.

Bennett praised the efforts of Roberts who he said had benefited from time at dummy-half in recent weeks when Kurt Gidley was at halfback.

“I said to him the other day I think this stint at halfback-hooker helped him just get a lot more confidence about him,” Bennett said.

“I noticed it at training. I really thought tonight was going to be his night and he proved it. All the indicators were there.”

Roosters coach Trent Robinson said his side failed to take their opportunities and were “out-scrapped in the end”.

But he saved most of his criticism for the referees, saying it was a poor effort from the officials which “irked” him.

He pointed to a held-up decision against Maloney, the sin-binning of Warea-Hargreaves for swearing, the call to let Mason continue on after a tackle before the Knights’ second try and Sione Mata’utia taking the ball dead and not conceding a line dropout.

“You could just feel it – the refs were looking for stuff from us,” Robinson said.

Greece name Italian Ranieri as manager

The 62-year-old Ranieri takes over from Fernando Santos who left when his contract expired after this year’s World Cup in Brazil.

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One of the most experienced coaches in European club football, Ranieri said he did not plan to make radical changes to a Greece team which reached the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time in the country’s history before losing to Costa Rica on penalties.

“I had other proposals, but as soon as I met with the president (Giorgos Sarris) of EPO I had a good feeling as I knew the squad had responded positively,” said Ranieri.

“For me there is no need to make many changes in the spine of the squad, but we’ll see that more clearly when we are able to evaluate all the players,” he added.

“I saw the team in the World Cup; they progressed well and Ireally liked the spirit and organisation they displayed. I want to continue this hard work ethic.”

The federation said in a statement: “The Italian coach, with service at many major European clubs, is expected to lead our group to new successes with Euro 2016 on the horizon.”

Greece were surprise winners of the 2004 European Championship in Portugal but have not come close to repeating that success.

Ranieri’s first match in charge will be a European Championship qualifier against Romania on Sept. 7 with Northern Ireland, Hungary, Finland and the Faroe Islands also providing the opposition in Group F.

The experienced tactician has been out of work since his sacking by Monaco in May after two seasons in the principality.

He made his name in Italy winning the Coppa Italia with Fiorentina before moving to Valencia where he won the King’s Cup and the Intertoto Cup.

Four seasons at Chelsea followed before a brief return to Valencia and spells at Parma, Juventus, Roma and Inter Milan.

(Reporting by Tony Goodson and Graham Wood, editing by Ed Osmond)

European challengers commit to America’s Cup

The European rivals from Italy, Sweden, Britain and France said they would cooperate with Oracle Team USA, the holders, to ensure the 35th America’s Cup in 2017 was a sporting and commercial success.

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“The teams Luna Rossa Challenge, Artemis Racing, Ben Ainslie Racing and Team France – jointly with the yacht clubs they represent – confirm their full support to the event, regardless of the host venue that will be selected,” they said in a joint statement.

Planning for the 2017 Cup was thrown into turmoil last week when the Australians, the Challenger of Record, withdrew from the event.

The next America’s Cup will be sailed in either San Diego or Bermuda, with the venue to be confirmed in October.

The Challenger of Record is tasked with negotiating the details of the next event with the holders of the trophy.

A series of regattas is usually held in the run-up to the America’s Cup and the winner of those goes forward to take on the defending champion.

The 2013 America’s Cup captured the imagination of the sporting world when the U.S. team backed by software billionaire Larry Ellison roared back from an 8-1 deficit to beat New Zealand 9-8 in San Francisco.

Four-times Olympic champion Ainslie was part of the winning Oracle team but is now aiming to claim sport’s oldest trophy for Britain for the first time since the event started in 1851.

The event will be sailed with a similar but smaller version of the 72-foot (21.94-metre), wing-sail catamarans used in 2013.

The new 62-foot boats, called AC62s, will be crewed by eight people, three fewer than last year.

“AC62 will again be incredibly exciting to watch, both on and off the water, all the ingredients you need for a great sporting event,” said Ainslie, who is aiming to raise 80 million pounds ($135 million) to fund his team.

Besides the Europeans, New Zealand have said they will challenge again, though a lack of clarity on the venue had been putting potential sponsors off committing to back the venture.

($1 = 0.5889 British Pounds)

(Reporting by Keith Weir, editing by Ed Osmond)