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Get into the festive spirit this weekend with a little help from the Herald

SATURDAYChristmas Tree Treasure Hunt 10am to 3pm,Newcastle Museum Lawn. Also,Christmas Tree Maze,until December 20.
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Christmas Lights SpectacularSaturday and Sunday, 5.30pm to 10pm, Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin. Rides, entertainment, food and market stalls and more.

Carols at Swansea 5pm, Chapman Oval, Swansea. Entertainment and fireworks.

Tighes Hill Village Garden Working Bee3pm, next to 36 Kings Road, followed by Christmas drinks and nibbles at 5pm.

Aussie Beach-style Santa Photos 9am to 1pm, Hunter Street Mall. Free.

BYO Inflatable 7pm, Merewether Ocean Baths, Newcastle.

Cringeworthy Christmas PortraitsSaturday and Sunday, 11am to 3pm, near JB Hi-Fi. Cost $5 (cash only).

Sunset Gather 4pm, Gregson Park, Hamilton. Food, live music, market stalls and more.

Hyundai A-LeagueNewcastle Jets vs Adelaide United, McDonald Jones Stadium, Broadmeadow. Gates open 4.35pm; kick off 5.35pm. Westfield W-League vs Perth Glory, kick off 8.15pm.

Hamilton North Bowlo Kids Xmas Disco 2pm, Hamilton North Bowling Club. Face painting, a jumping castle, Santa and more.

King of Concrete10am to 5pm, Empire Park, Bar Beach. The country’s best skaters compete for cash, skate products and n Skateboarding Federation ranking points.

Pups in the Park8am to 1pm, Lambton Park. Giveaways, Santa photos, prizes for best-dressed dog, free microchipping of your pet available to Newcastle residents only. Proof of address is required.

A Day On The Green Bimbadgen Estate, Pokolbin. KC and the Sunshine Band, Sister Sledge, Marcia Hines, Village People. Gates open 2.30pm.

One Day Only Christmas Party Sale9am, MisKonduct Clothing, newcastle. Drinks and canapes from 3pm.

Hypnotic fun to save Morisset Hospital 8pm, Kahibah Sports Club. HypnotistHenry John performs his mind-bending magic.Funds raised will help develop Morisset Park.

Revolution Sounds Hawaiian Party 5.45pm to 9pm, Revolutions, Mayfield. Under 18s.

Carols Under The Stars 6pm, New Vine Church, Maryland. Sideshow alley, Santa and more.

Community Sports Afternoon & Carols By Candlelight 4pm, Stockton Bowling Club. Egg and spoon races, tug of war and more.

SUNDAYCarols By The Lake 6pm, Croudace Bay Park, Eleebana. Jumping castle, entertainment, sideshow alley, food stalls.

Christmas Carols in Lambton Park 5pm onwards. Rides, activities, market and foodstalls, fireworks at 9pm.

Northlakes Community Carols 5pm, Macquarie College, Wallsend. Free rides, activities, music, fireworks.

Swansea Hotel Christmas Party1pm, Swansea Hotel. Animal farm, face painting, Santa visit, live music from 3pm.

The Voice Studio Christmas Concerts 1pm junior showcase; 6pm senior showcase by The Voice Studio. Lizotte’s Newcastle.

Frother 2pm, The Beach Hotel, Newcastle. The launch of Murray’s Brewery’s Frother Newcastle Kolch. Live music; supporting Merewether Surfboard Club.

Lemon Jam 5pm to 9pm, Henderson Park, Lemon Tree Passage. Live music, children’s activities.

SAVE THE DATEThe Hi-5 Summer Rainbows Show comes to Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, Lovedale, on January 12. Accommodation packages available.

MARKETSThe Olive Tree Market Saturday, 9am to 3pm, Civic Park, Newcastle.

Farmers & Artisan Market at Lake Mac East Saturday, 8am to 1pm, Quinn Park, Swansea.

Handmade in the Hunter MarketsSaturday,9am to 3pm, Kevin Sobels Wines, Pokolbin.

Hunter Wine Country MarketsSaturday, 9am to 3pm, De Bortoli Wines, 532 Wine Country Drive, Pokolbin.

Hunter Street MarketsSaturday, 9am to 3pm, Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle.

Newcastle Flower MarketsSaturday, 9.30am to noon, 1 Rural Drive, Sandgate.

Hamilton Clocktower Markets Saturday, 9am to 2pm, James St Plaza, Hamilton. Plus, Christmas Market on December 21, 9am to 5pm.

Adamstown Lions MarketsSunday, 7am to 12.30pm, corner Brunker and Glebe roads, Adamstown.

Newcastle City Farmers MarketSunday, 7am to 1pm, Newcastle Showground, Broadmeadow.

Maitland Markets Sunday, 8am to 2pm, Maitland Showground.

The Sunday Muster Artisan Market Sunday, 9am to 2pm, Mortels Sheepskin Factory, 1 Weakleys Drive, Thornton.

Newcastle Racecourse MarketSunday, 9am to 2pm, Newcastle Racecourse, Broadmeadow.

ARTSJohn Earle Gallery Mugs and Beaches. Until December 23.

Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery Board; Lake Macquarie: Living Cultures (surf lifesaving); At The Beach.

Finite GalleryCaves BeachPatchwork, an exhibition of paintings by more than 40 artists. Until December 24.

Cooks Hill GalleriesPEARLA meaning good or beaut … you get my drift, by Rod Bathgate. Ends Sunday.

The Lock UpFinal Remembering, by Lottie Consalvo. In the Halls of My Youth, by James Drinkwater. Until January 21.

Wollombi Cultural CentreWe Three. Ends Sunday.

Newcastle MuseumDinosaur Revolution, until January 28.

Maitland Regional Art GalleryArt Maker, Patron, Lover, by Gary Grealy. Until March 18.David Archer: Archer’s Arcadia. Until February 4. Passchendale –A Ridge Too Far, Photography in Battle; Taking a closer look, by Bruce Roxburgh. Until January 28. Lionel’s Place. Until April 8.

Newcastle Art GalleryPainting Memory: From The Collection. Until January 28. Everything Changes: Tim Maguire 2002-2017.

Art Systems Wickham You’ll Fest ’17. Until December 24.

Muswellbrook Regional Arts CentreGraham (Polly) Farmer Foundation –Muswellbrook Student Works. Until December 22.

Cessnock Regional Art Gallery Circles of Connection. Until January 7.

Timeless Textiles Beautiful Swarm, by Jan Clark. Until December 24.

CStudios Art Gallery Xmas Exhibition.

Watt Space Gallery Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) Exhibition. Ends Sunday.

University of Newcastle Gallery2017 Bachelor of Fine Art Honours Graduates exhibition.

NewcastleStudio Potters & Back to Back GalleriesChristmas Takeaway. Ends Sunday.

Michael Reid MurrurundiThe Paris Paintings, by Catherine Hickson. Until December 31.

Port Stephens Community Arts CentreSummertime People Exhibition. Until January 8.

Gallery 139 Director’s Choice 2018. Until December 23.

MUSIC5 SawyersSaturday, DJ Sean Andrews. Sunday, Jerome.

Anna Bay TavernSaturday, Arcane. Sunday, Kylie Jane.

Argyle HouseSaturday, Throwbacks.

Hotel CessnockSaturday, Brazillian Brothers Duo.

Avon Valley InnSaturday, Siren.

Bar PetiteSaturday, Junior & Luana.

Battlesticks BarSaturday,Little Cents.Sunday,Pana,Robbie Long.

Beach HotelSunday, Misbehave.

Bellbird HotelSaturday, Todd Schmoo.

Belmont 16sSaturday, Cruzers, Kellie Cain. Sunday, Phillip Crawshaw.

Belmont HotelSaturday, Kaylens Rain.

Belmore Hotel Saturday, Loko.

Beresfield Bowling Club Saturday, Loose Bazooka. Sunday, Red Dirt Country Club.

BimbadgenSaturday, KC & The Sunshine Band (US), Village People (US), Sister Sledge (US), Marcia Hines.

Black MalabarSaturday,Paco Lara (Spain) & Damian Wright.

The BradfordSaturday, Crawfish Stew Band.

Burwood InnSaturday,Prestige Inc.

Cambridge HotelSaturday, Jones The Cat, Hello Bones, Whispering Jackie, Trouble In Paradise. Sunday, Dyer Maker, Moon Dogs, Byren, Lee Moon, Hypnofuzz.

Cardiff RSL ClubSaturday, Jungle Kings.

Catho PubSaturday, John Larder.Sunday, All Access 80s.

Central Charlestown Leagues ClubSaturday, Tim Harding.

Central HotelStroudSaturday, Zac & Ben.

Charlestown Bowling ClubSaturday, Frick N Orson.

Clarendon HotelSaturday, Zane Penn.

Club KotaraSaturday, Love That Hat.

Club LemonTreeSaturday, Solid Gold Night.

Commercial Hotel MorpethSaturday, Spank N The Monkey.Sunday, The Fruittrees.

Criterion Hotel CarringtonSaturday, Pete Gelzinnis. Sunday, Zane Penn.

Criterion Hotel WestonSaturday, Xyz.

Customs House Saturday, Glen Harrison. Sunday, Anyerin.

Cypress LakesSaturday, Bobby C.

D’Albora MarinaSunday, Todd Schmoo.

Denman HotelSunday, Allison Forbes.

Duke Of WellingtonSaturday, Dean Kyrwood Duo.

East Cessnock Bowling ClubSaturday, Hendo, Brett Thomas, Morgan Kent.

East Maitland Bowling Club Saturday, Hurricane Fall. Sunday, Emil.

Easts Leisure & Golf ClubSaturday, Robbie T.

Edgeworth Bowling Club Sunday, Big Pete.

Edgeworth TavernSaturday, Misbehave.

Exchange HotelSaturday, Jon Schatz.

FinnegansSaturday, Danny Simms.

Gallipoli Legion ClubSaturday, Pam & Les with John Bond.

Gateshead TavernSunday, James Naldo.

George TavernSaturday, Mardmax.

Great Northern Hotel TeralbaSaturday, Joel Oakhill. Sunday, Last Resort.

Gunyah HotelSaturday,The Fedz.Sunday, Blues Bombers.

​Hamilton Station HotelSunday,Jen Buxton,Keeskea.

Harrigan’s PokolbinSaturday, Roxy, Shooting Molly. Sunday, The Levymen.

Hexham Bowling ClubSaturday, Good Company.

Honeysuckle HotelSaturday, Big Bang Band. Sunday, CrocQ, Bobby C.

Hotel Cessnock Saturday, The Mokos.

Hotel DelanySaturday, Sunday’s Record.

Imperial Hotel SingletonSaturday,Hard Hitter.

Jewells TavernSaturday, Hornet. Sunday, Tim Harding.

Kent HotelSaturday, The V Dubs.

King Street HotelSaturday, Danny Simms.

Lake Macquarie Yacht ClubSunday, Andrew G.

Lass O’GowrieSaturday,Good Thanks.Sunday,Barfunkle.

Lizotte’s Saturday, Diesel. Sunday, The Voice Studio.

Lochinvar HotelSaturday, Pete Evans-Taylor.

Lucky HotelSaturday, CrocQ. Sunday, The Dew Cats.

Mark HotelSaturday, The Remedy. Sunday, Anthology.

Mary Ellen HotelSaturday, The Cassettes. Sunday, Matt McLaren.

Maryland TavernSaturday, The Levymen.

Mavericks On The BaySaturday, Todd Schmoo. Sunday, Mick Jones.

Mavericks On DarbySaturday, Greg Bryce. Sunday, Chad Shuttleworth.

Mayfield Ex-ServicesSaturday, The Years.

Merewether SurfhouseSunday, Marissa.

Mezz Bar at Wallsend DiggersSaturday,Tre Soul Band.Sunday,Marshall O’Kell Band.

Morisset Country ClubSunday, Kristy James.

Murray’s BrewerySaturday, Casey Bellamy. Sunday, Jim Overend.

Nag’s Head Hotel Saturday, Mick Jones.

Neath HotelSaturday, The Tantrums.

Nelson Bay DiggersSaturday, Davis & Jayne. Sunday, Mark Wells.

Nelson Bay Golf Club Saturday, Matt Gaudry.

Newcastle Cruising Yacht ClubSunday, Hornet.

Northern Star HotelSaturday,Wesley’s Edge.

Paxton Bowling ClubSaturday, Emily Smith.

Pedens Cessnock Saturday,Dos Eager.

Pelican RSL ClubSaturday, Rock Factor.

Pippis At The PointSaturday, Kim and Mik. Sunday, Jason Bone.

Potters BrewerySaturday, David McCredie.

Premier HotelSaturday, Paperboy. Sunday, Milestones.

Queens Wharf HotelSaturday, Just Jade, The Rumour. Sunday, The Years, Wharf Life.

Raymond Terrace Bowling ClubSunday, Karen O’Shea.

Royal Federal HotelBranxtonSaturday, Steel City.

Royal Hotel SingletonSunday,Jamie Martens Duo.

Royal Motor Yacht Club TorontoSunday, Bernie Ayrton.

Rutherford HotelSaturday, Kristy James.

Sawtooth StudiosSaturday, Plastic Voyage.

Seabreeze HotelSunday,Sarah Christine.

Shenanigans at the ImperialSaturday, Purple Hearts.

Shortland HotelSaturday, Mike Vee.

Singleton DiggersSaturday, Hummdinger, Katie N Feff.

Soldiers Point Bowling ClubSaturday, Snape Brothers.

South Newcastle Leagues ClubSaturday, Tyler John.

St John’s Anglican Church HallSunday, Darren Hanlon, The Space Lady.

Stag and Hunter HotelSaturday, Music For The Mind.

Star HotelSaturday, Paparazzi.

Station HotelKurri KurriSaturday, Extreme Mobile Entertainment.

Stockton Bowling ClubSunday, Amigos.

Stockton RSLClubSaturday, Jumpin Jukebox.

Swansea-Belmont Surf LifeSaving ClubSunday, Reggie Sinclair.

Swansea RSLClubSaturday, Back Beat.

Tea Gardens HotelSaturday, Phil McKnight.Sunday,Kazzie.

Tilligerry RSLSaturday, Loose Bazooka.

Toronto WorkersSaturday, Chad Shuttleworth. Sunday, Peta Evans-Taylor.

Victoria Hotel HintonSaturday, Jon Matthews. Sunday, Tailgate Drive.

Wangi HotelSunday, Ben Woodham.

Wangi Wangi RSLClubSunday, Brendan Murphy.

Warners At The BaySaturday, The DuoTones.

Warners Bay HotelSaturday, Project X.

Westfield KotaraSaturday, Anyerin.

Wests CardiffSaturday, Midnight Drifters.

Wests New LambtonSaturday,Mark Wells Duo.

Wickham Park HotelSaturday,Peta Evans-Taylor,Crimson Tide.Sunday,Greg Bryce,Compadre Diablo.

Windsor Castle HotelSaturday, Pete Hibbert.

MOVIES Mark Hamill reprises the role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Picture: Disney, Lucasfilm

Daddy’s Home 2(PG)Father and stepfather, Dustyand Brad, have joined forces to give their kidsthe perfect Christmas.

Ferdinand(G)After Ferdinand, a bull with a big heart, is mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home.

Justice League(M)Inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince.

Murder On The Orient Express(M)A lavish train ride through Europe quickly unfolds into the thrilling mystery of thirteen strangers stranded on a train, where everyone’s a suspect.

Paddington 2(G) Now happily settled with the Brown family, Paddington picks up a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen.

Stars Wars: The Last Jedi(M)Having taken her first steps into a larger world in The Force Awakens (2015), Rey continues her epic journey with Finn, Poe and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the saga.

The Disaster Artist(M)A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room in 2003.

The Man Who Invented Christmas(PG) In October 1843, Charles Dickens was suffering from the failure of his last three books and set out to self-publish a book and revive his career. (Regal)

The Star(G)A small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, andfinally goes on the adventure of his dreams.

Three Summers(M)Two young musicians fall in love against a wider collection of tales dealing with a microcosm of contemporary discussion points, including Indigenous, immigration and refugee issues. (Lake Cinema)

Thor: Ragnarok(M)Thor must face the Hulk in a gladiator match and save his people.

Wonder(PG)A boy born with a facial deformity is destined to fit in at a new school, and to make everyone understand he’s an ordinary kid.



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The best holiday destinations around China to invest in

Good news moving into the Christmas holidays: there is a way to buy property where you love to vacation and make money in the process.
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Many property investors usually steer clear of tourism destinations, but property research site LocationScore has crunched the numbers and identified the top holiday hotspots for property investment across the nation.

But before you start buying up units in Noosa and a house on the Mornington Peninsula, LocationScore’s research has found, in general, you might have to settle for holidaying a little further from your usual wind-down location in order to get the best investment potential.

The new research scores each suburb out of 100, using eight key indicators that measure the level of supply and demand as well as growth prospects.

LocationScore co-founder and research director Jeremy Sheppard said the research showed the long-held perception that holiday homes were a bad property investment did not always hold true.

“Ordinarily I’d advise investors to buy in great growth locations, not simply a place they’d like to live in or where they like to go on holiday,” Mr Sheppard said.

“According to LocationScore, though, there are holiday locations around the country that stack up investment-wise, including having much more demand than supply, which is essential for capital growth.”

Mr Sheppard admitted some of the suburbs that made the list were not necessarily popular holiday destinations themselves but were within close range of those that were.

“Another point to consider is that not everyone wants to holiday in the middle of classic tourist locations. These areas are often close to popular spots but removed enough that the local property market appeals for investors.”

NSW

In NSW, units in Banora Point, just south of Coolangatta, had a remarkable LocationScore of 79 out of 100, while houses in nearby Bilambil Heights scored 75.

Both suburbs were popular with holidaymakers from the north and south, as well as being within striking distance of the Gold Coast.

Mr Sheppard said Banora Point units were being snapped up quickly by eager buyers.

Views for miles: Bilambil Heights, NSW. Photo: Sophie Carter Exclusive Properties

“Our measure for this is days on market. On average, units there spend about six weeks on the market, which is pretty quick – about three times faster than the national average of about four months,” he said.

“And rentals have a vacancy rate of less than 1 per cent which is very low ??? 3 per cent is the widely accepted ‘balance’ point. So renters are obviously under pressure and landlords are licking their lips.”

Closer to Sydney, houses in Kanahooka scored 78, which Mr Sheppard put down to its Lake Illawarra location and short commuting distance to Wollongong.

He added Gosford and the Central Coast were great markets in general for growth, having a holiday feel but just a short drive from Sydney.

Houses in Berkeley Vale on the Central Coast also made the cut, scoring a solid 75.

Queensland

Mr Sheppard said though Queensland had a plethora of holiday destinations, not all of them made wise investment locations.

“Just because a suburb or town is desirable, doesn’t mean it’s in demand,” he said. “They might be really glamorous locations but are they going to go up on price? Is there demand?

“To get the price growth you need people at auction bidding or making offers, driving prices up ??? there needs to be the competition.”

The Gold Coast was Queensland’s top holiday destination worth investing in, the research showed, with a number of suburbs ticking investment boxes like strong local employment.

The Gold Coast has rated well as a holiday hotspot for property investment.Photo: Supplied

“Houses in Worongary scored 77 out of 100, perhaps partly due to the recent announcement that a new train station is earmarked for the suburb,” Mr Sheppard said.

Elanora had nearly 100 people searching online per property listed for sale. The vacancy rate was 0.46 per cent.

Currumbin Waters had over 100 people per property searching online and a healthy yield of 4.74 per cent.

On the Sunshine Coast, Currimundi recorded a LocationScore of 71 for November, which Mr Sheppard said was partly due to its location just north of the major employment node of Caloundra.

Victoria

It may not be as glitzy as the Gold Coast, but Clifton Springs near Geelong was kicking its own property goals with a LocationScore of 76.

Mr Sheppard said it had a very impressive auction clearance rate of 92 per cent: “That’s the extreme end of demand,” he said.

Port Phillip from Clifton Springs, where the auction clearance rate is an impressive 92 per cent. Photo: Richard Cornish

Nearby Torquay was also a beneficiary of the strong Geelong market, scoring 70.

The charms of Swan Hill, located on the Murray River near the NSW border, resulted in it scoring 71 out of 100 for November with much more demand than supply of property, according to the LocationScore research.

Its most impressive metric was its yield of 5.88 per cent. That was enough rent to cover all expenses, including mortgage interest, Mr Sheppard said.

Tasmania

Tasmania’s property market had strengthened thanks to demand from local and interstate investors. Mr Sheppard said Hobart and Launceston were the top picks for holiday investment, with both locations backed up by robust local economies.

West Launceston and Invermay were two suburbs showing strong growth prospects, he said.

Great for holidays and property investment: Launceston, Tasmania.

“When you think of all the fantastic holiday destinations around the country, it’s pretty obvious from our list that great capital growth and great investments don’t often go hand-in-hand,” Mr Sheppard said.

“Although there are some fantastic places to holiday in this summer, don’t be tempted to buy in one as an investment just because you like to visit every now and then.

“You either buy a holiday home or you buy an investment property, which are two different goals, but our research shows that sometimes you can combine both ??? if you’ve done your research.”



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Lyon prepares for the ultimate Test of his spinning wares

It may well be that Nathan Lyon’s staunchest opponent in this week’s third Ashes Test is neither English nor a batsman. Rather it might be the 22 yards of unyielding rolled turf in the centre of the WACA Ground that has earned a reputation over the years as a spinner’s graveyard.
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Lyon is the leading spinner in this Ashes series and not only does he have 11 wickets so far, behind only Mitchell Starc for the series, but he heads all bowlers in Test cricket this calendar year with 57 scalps. He is in sublime form, with Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara declaring him “the key difference between the two sides” in a recent Wisden column.

But when you think of Perth, you think of Lillee and Thomson off the long run, or Curtly Ambrose’s seven wickets for one run. Only four spinners have bagged five-fers in WACA, with Bruce Yardley the only n among them. The great Shane Warne never managed more than four wickets in his 21 Test innings there, and Lyon has taken just 12 wickets in four Perth Tests at an average of more than 50.

He may be the Greatest Offie of All Time, but Lyon won’t be bowling on a goat track in Perth.

And yet, as former England off-spinner Vic Marks observed in his musings in The Guardian: “It feels unprecedented before a big match at the WACA that batsmen should spend time fretting about playing against an off-spinner.”

Lyon has taken 11 wickets in this series, 10 of them left-handers, and Marks believes that his flight and dip will continue to present a threat, regardless of the amount of turn he extracts from the WACA pitch.

It is a sentiment supported by coach Darren Lehmann, who suggested Perth was “a tough place (for spinners) … but Nathan will get drift obviously with The Doctor [Fremantle’s famous sea breeze] and some bounce”.

But one man well placed to forecast what Lyon can expect is WA finger spinner Ashton Agar.

The 24-year-old left-armer, who has played four Tests for , predicts Lyon will still bowl plenty of overs in Perth, but will be bracing himself for more of “a supplementary role”, albeit a crucial one.

“Playing Shield cricket here the past few years I’ve hardly seen a ball ever spin,” Agar said. “So I don’t expect to see it spinning at all this week.

“I wouldn’t say the WACA is a spinner’s graveyard, it’s just the role of a spinner is very different in Perth.

“Successful teams have tended to use their fast bowlers a lot at this ground, and they get the wickets. But a lot of bowlers who have played vital roles in Perth have played more of a holding or restricting role, going at two runs an over or less without necessarily taking any wickets.

“The only time Perth usually gets harder to bat on is by about day four when cracks start to open up. But even then captains are more tempted to use their seamers to exploit that, rather than spinners.”

Agar believes captain Steve Smith will set more defensive fields for Lyon’s bowling, “because he will be less likely to create those catches around the bat”.

“I think in Perth you’ll be more likely to see a lot of the Englishmen get out cutting, getting caught behind the wicket because there’s been more bounce than they expected. A lot of the English guys have got out like that in the practice matches.”

He also predicted Lyon might create some chances with a deep long-on, because some batsmen would “fancy themselves to take on the shorter straight boundaries”.

Agar said the Fremantle Doctor “certainly got spoken about a lot … but Nathan’s getting so many revs on the ball he’s going to get drift and nice drop no matter where he bowls”.

He felt certain the WACA curators would have been “trying to produce the hardest, fastest pitch that they can to suit the Aussie quicks, but I also know that they’ve been trying to prepare similar wickets for the Shield matches and it hasn’t necessarily worked out like that.

“I’ve seen a few balls that haven’t carried to the keeper this season. They’ve been really flat wickets that haven’t really broken up.”

Regardless of how the WACA Ground pitch plays in its final outing before Test cricket shifts five minutes up the road to the new Optus Stadium, Agar is convinced Lyon will bowl with supreme confidence.

“From a personal point of view the outcome might be a little different for him, but I expect the process will be exactly the same,” he said.

And no matter how many overs he bowls or wickets he takes, Lyon will hope he gets the chance to fulfil another of his key responsibilities within the team, the man who leads the chanting of “Under the Southern Cross I Stand” after a victory.

FIVE-WICKET HAULS BY SPINNERS IN WACA TESTS:

6-84 Bruce Yardley v Pakistan 1981

6-87 Dan Vettori v 2001

5-89, 5-105 Bishan Bedi v 1977

5-92 Monty Panesar v 2006 5-107 Bruce Yardley v England 1982.



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Dry conditions, then frosts hit farm production and exports

Dry conditions in winter and spring, followed by severe frosts in cropping districts in south-eastern , have combined to slash crops, farm incomes and agricultural export earnings in fiscal 2018.
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‘s wheat crop, forecast to be just over 20 million tonnes, is on track to be the lowest in a decade.

The fall in incomes for some farmers – particularly grain producers – coincides with rising fuel and electricity prices and means a large number of farmers will have less cash to spend in regional areas.

Dry conditions hit grain farmers in all grain-growing states this year, but had a particularly harsh impact on growers in New South Wales and Queensland who were also hit with above-average temperatures.

The dry conditions were so severe that ”many of ‘s most important cropping regions” received just 40-60 per cent of their average rainfall in the crucial period between April and November, according to the latest report from the n Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

The report forecasts the gross value of farm production to fall seven per cent to $59 billion in fiscal 2018, down from last year’s record $63 billion result.

But the fall in winter crop production, including major crops like wheat, barley, canola and others, of 41 per cent, will be much greater.

”Spring rainfall came too late to help winter crops in northern New South Wales and Queensland, resulting in lower yields. However, it did assist the recovery of delayed crops in parts of South and moisture-stressed crops in the northern grains belt of Western ,” the Agricultural Commodities December Quarter 2017 report said.

Major declines are forecast in the value of canola exports (down 52 per cent), barley (down 41 per cent) chickpea (down 32 per cent) and sugar (down 13 per cent).

Derek Schoen, president of the New South Wales Farmers Association, said it had been a frustrating year for grain growers in NSW.

”It’s been a very problematic grain year, I don’t think any district has come out unscathed in New South Wales,” he said.

”In the north of the state some of them didn’t even plant a crop, because they didn’t have the moisture there to warrant them planting a crop. And then some that did plant a crop, it basically died on them, so they had a very disappointing result after a bumper year last year,” he said.

”And then, as you move down the state, it was patchy all the way through, and then we had the late frosts in August and September that took a large swag of the canola and a lot of the barley out,” he said.

Steve Hatfield-Dodds, executive director of ABARES, said the fall in the total gross value of farm production was mainly due to lower crop production and lower prices.

“Despite the decline, gross value of farm production would still be higher than the average of $55 billion over the past five years. This forecast reduction is likely to lead to a decline of around 3 per cent in export earnings, to $47 billion in 2017-18,” he said.

Dr Hatfield-Dodds said export earnings were forecast to rise for livestock and livestock products (up 11 per cent to $23 billion), wine (up 12 per cent to $2.64 billion) and cotton (up 24 per cent to $2.1 billion).

“While grain prices are expected to remain low in 2017-18, prices for livestock and livestock products are expected to increase,” he said.

But the report reveals a much more challenging picture for grain producers, particularly in eastern , with the national wheat crop forecast to be just over 20 million tonnes this season.

“If realised, it will be the lowest since 2007-08. Wheat yields are forecast to be below average for all states except Victoria. Seasonal conditions in the eastern states were variable but mostly unfavourable for crop development,” the report said.

”Wheat crops in Queensland and New South Wales were adversely affected by below average in-crop rainfall, well above average daytime temperatures and severe frost events. October rainfall aided crops in south-eastern New South Wales, Victoria and South but came too late to benefit most crops in Queensland and New South Wales.”



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How Kylie could have been queen of the desert

A film still from the new n film Swinging Safari.?? Jo Jones (Radha Mitchell), Rick Jones (Julian McMahon), Kaye Hall (Kylie Minogue), Keith Hall (Guy Pearce), Bob Marsh (Jeremy Sims), Gale Marsh (Asher Keddie) – Swinging SafariFor Garry Maddox. Image supplied.It could have all been so different for the classic n film The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.
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In the nervous hours before the world premiere of new film Swinging Safari, writer-director Stephan Elliott revealed his breakthrough film about drag queens was originally meant to be full of Kylie Minogue songs instead of Abba and disco hits.

“I’d done a deal with Stock Aitken Waterman to set Priscilla to their library but more specifically all Kylie tracks,” he said. “The film was going to be this little Kylie Minogue homage.”

But the plan changed when PolyGram took over the film and insisted Elliott choose songs from its music catalogue.

“I went ballistic and said ‘we’re a year into this deal’,” he said. “Then they showed me the PolyGram catalogue and [an executive] said ‘by the way, we bought Motown yesterday’.”

That triumphant comedy launched Elliott as a filmmaker. And while he used Kylie songs in the stage musical version of Priscilla, it has taken him more than two decades after his “dirty, dark, little secret” to team-up with Minogue on a film again.

She is part of the cracking cast for Swinging Safari, a colourful n comedy about growing up in the 1970s.

The story centres on three couples – played by Minogue, former Neighbours co-star Guy Pearce, Radha Mitchell, Julian McMahon, Asher Keddie and Jeremy Sims – during an eventful summer week in a coastal town.

As a washed-up blue whale draws national attention to the local beach, a budding young filmmaker (Atticus Robb) explores a growing bond with a teenage neighbour (Darcey Wilson), while their parents experiment with their new sexual freedom at a “fondue night”.

It’s an evocation of where carefree children play without supervision while their restless parents drink cask wine, play disco records on a K-Tel record selector and feast on a new culinary sensation called Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Minogue said she instantly wanted to be involved when Elliott emailed her the script while she was working in England.

“I dutifully printed [it] out and was reading it in the back of a car in London between A and B,” she said. “I was ‘lolling’ as they say these days. Chortling.

“That’s one of the favourite periods of my life – being seven, eight, nine, living in Wantirna South in the [Melbourne] suburbs with the pool and my brother and sister and eating watermelon and running out and lying on the pavement and hopscotch and BMX.”

Elliott said the he portrayed in the film was “pretty close” to his own childhood growing up in Dee Why on Sydney’s northern beaches.

“I used my own childhood as a base and then as I started talking to people, more stuff started coming in,” he said. “It’s amazing if you ask people to go into the memory banks.”

The larger-than-life director of Welcome To Woop Woop, Easy Virtue and A Few Best Men thinks ns were “completely and utterly lost” in the 1970s.

“In the ’60s – my earliest memories being born then – there was turbulence and wars and the sexual revolution,” Elliott said. “The ’80s was the information explosion – the internet [was invented] and travel was cheaper.”

Between them was “this incredibly lost decade” before seatbelts, sunscreen and strict supervision of children.

With Elliott working again with Priscilla’s Oscar-winning costume designer Lizzy Gardiner, the film highlights the gaudy fashions of the time – safari suits, facial hair and gold jewellery for the men; pantsuits, giant earrings and big hair for the women.

“It looked like somebody had gone to a Darrell Lea shop and thrown up,” he said. “There was so much colour – terry towelling, plastic this, rayon that.”

A film that will have older viewers fondly recalling their own memories of the ’70s had its world premiere in Sydney on Tuesday night. After a Melbourne premiere on Thursday night, Swinging Safari opens on January 18.



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Bai knocked out of wildcard in first-round heartbreaker

Alison Bai’s n Open singles dream has been shattered at the wildcard play-offs in Melbourne after the Canberra junior failed to turn her dominance into victory on Tuesday.
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Bai was serving for the match in a tight third set, but squandered her lead and then lost the first-round match against Olivia Tjandramulia 7-5 4-6 8-6.

But Bai will still have a chance to chase n Open glory in January when she joins doubles partner Zoe Hives in the first grand slam of the year.

Tjandramulia managed to find the perfect shot at the perfect moment to clinch victory even though Bai threatened to storm away with the match.

The No. 8 seed continually fought from behind in the third set and then capitalised on Bai’s errors when the match was on the line.

“I’m pretty frustrated and a bit annoyed with myself,” Bai said.

“I don’t feel like I played that well, but credit to [Tjandramulia] because she made some good shots on big points. Unfortunately I just made too many unforced errors.

“I know I can play a lot better, we were both really nervous at the start. I think if I had managed to win the first set I would have relaxed a bit more.”

Bai will start planning her doubles schedule over the Christmas break before ramping up her preparation with Hives in January.

The Tomics hopes of having a player at the n Open have taken another hit with Sara a first round casualty at the wildcard playoff.

Troubled older brother Bernard elected not to contest the wildcard tournament at Melbourne Park and will instead enter qualifying in early January.

World No.466 Sara faced a tough battle, drawing top seed Victorian Arina Rodionova and bowed out in a tight contest 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.

World No.120 Rodionova was relieved to advance, saying she wasn’t at her best at this time of the year.

“It wasn’t my best performance obviously but it was enough today and I’m happy to get through,” Rodionova said.

“We’re normally not peaking yet and we’re all in similar condition … you have to be able to win without playing your best.”

Meanwhile, tickets will go on sale on Wednesday morning for the Fed Cup to be played in Canberra on February 10-11, with two-day packages starting at $25 for children, $80 for adults, $63 for concession.

Family packages costs $186 and will be on sale through Ticketek. Tennis ACT is hoping for big crowds to send a message to Tennis about hosting future marquee events at Lyneham.



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Competing James Packer biographies set to hit shelves

By Jennifer Duke
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Two biographies of casino mogul James Packer are in the works, both from high-profile journalists, but they’ll likely be very different reads on the billionaire’s life.

The first biography, announced by Fairfax Media’s n Financial Review journalist Aaron Patrick, is an unauthorised account, with the tentative title The Curse of the Mogul.

Mr Patrick has written extensively on the billionaire and called out favouritism from Mr Packer, who gave an exclusive interview to a rival paper, News Corp’s The n, in October.

News Corp’s co-chairman is Lachlan Murdoch, who is also a friend of Mr Packer.

And it’s a journalist from The n that will be behind this competing title – though editor John Lehmann would not confirm which member of staff would be writing it.

While associate editor Nick Tabakoff would be a likely candidate, given his track record as a former media editor and chief media writer, it’s understood he’s not set to author the new book.

Another potential would be Melbourne-based business editor Damon Kitney who has a long history of reporting on Mr Packer.

Mr Lehmann said it was a separate project not linked to the newspaper.

Mr Patrick would not confirm a publication date.

Neither writer will be short of material. Not only was it Mr Packer’s 50th birthday in 2017 but his $8 billion casino company, Crown Resorts, celebrated its 10th birthday during the year.

His interests have spanned businesses from SEEK, CarSales, Channel Nine, Network 10, Scoopon and the South Sydney Rabbitohs, to the film industry, forming joint venture RatPac Entertainment in 2012 and financing box office hit Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

Ranked the ninth richest n on the AFR’s 2017 Rich List with a personal fortune of $4.75 billion, down $250 million on the 2016 result, his most visible project in recent years is a casino and hotel development underway in the inner-Sydney Barangaroo precinct.

ABC Media Watch host Paul Barry published an unauthorised and controversial documentary of James Packer in 2009, titled Who Wants to Be a Billionaire? The James Packer Story.

Critics at the time described Mr Packer, then 42, as too young for a biography.



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Castle named Rugby China’s first female chief

Former Canterbury Bulldogs boss Raelene Castle has officially been appointed the new CEO of Rugby , becoming the first female boss of a major n football code.
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Castle replaces Bill Pulver, who said in August he would not continue as chief executive.

Castle is a well-respected sports administrator and was the first female boss of an NRL club at the Bulldogs, before resigning in May. Before that, Castle was chief executive of Netball New Zealand for six years. Rugby chairman Cameron Clyne said the organisation was excited to have an administrator with Castle’s experience.

“Raelene impressed the board with her vision for rugby and her clear understanding of what needs to be done to strengthen and unite the code at all levels,” Clyne said. “She offers an incredible wealth of experience in sports administration and business with an outstanding track record in commercial, marketing and communications roles.”

The 46-year-old New Zealander said her first priority was to “take a breath” after a tumultuous year for n rugby.

Pulver had said in August he was stepping down as soon as a replacement could be found, and Castle will face a tough task in trying to unify a sport riven by infighting and off-field controversy this year.

RA was engaged in legal battles with the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels in a protracted decision-making process over which team to cut from Super Rugby. The Perth-based Force were eventually dumped.

Pulver faced intense criticism from the rugby community over the furore and said when the decision was made he would step down rather than see out his contract, which was to expire next year.

Castle will focus on making rugby more appealing to a wider n audience while also developing commercial relationships.

“I am especially looking forward to getting out into the rugby communities across and meeting the diverse range of people that make the game tick.

“We need strong growth in our pathways. We need young people choosing to play our sport,” she said. “That’s not just men, that’s women. That female market’s really hot with the launch of lots of new female competitions. So we know that we’re in a race and we have to be a sport of choice.”

Castle said one of rugby union’s key advantages over rugby league and AFL is the opportunity for athletes to represent on a regular basis. “It genuinely is an exciting sport that has an international landscape that no other sport in this country has.”

More than 200 people applied for the position but Clyne said Castle was the “standout candidate” and will bring a “fresh set of eyes” to n rugby.

Castle will complete her review of New Zealand’s disappointing performance in the Rugby League World Cup before starting her new role in January.

Castle’s CV

1991-1999: Marketing manager, Fuji Xerox

2002: Communications manager: Southern Cross Healthcare

2003-2004: Communications manager, BNZ

2005-2007: Head of business marketing, Telecom NZ

2007-2013: Chief executive, Netball New Zealand

2011-2015: Director, International Netball Federation

2013-2017: Chief executive, Canterbury Bulldogs NRL club

2018: Chief executive, Rugby

With Reuters



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Property deal speculation boosts ASX

Higher commodity prices and deal speculation in the property sector pushed the ASX to gains on Tuesday, with the benchmark closing firmly over the 6000 level.
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The S&P/ASX 200 index notched up its fourth straight session of gains, climbing 14 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6013, while the broader All Ordinaries added 11 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6093.

The n dollar reached US75.34c in late trading. The Aussie has come perilously close to breaking though the US75c level recently and softer housing data on Tuesday worked to hold the currency close to that level.

The housing market has begun to gently cool following recent macroprudential moves, noted Fidelity n Opportunities Fund portfolio manager Kate Howitt.

Still, financial conditions remain supportive for business, Ms Howitt said, and that divergence “provides the RBA with an even greater ability to finesse monetary policy.”

“If we see wage growth, expect modest rate increases; if we see rising unemployment, expect modest rate cuts – meaning that the consumer and housing sectors have a reasonable chance of continuing to trundle along. So against the historical odds, we could see the current n economic expansion continue.”

The property sector took centre stage on Tuesday, after mall giant Westfield halted trading in its shares and told investors that it was in talks over a possible deal.

Elsewhere in the listed property sector, Scentre climbed 4.1 per cent, Dexus jumped 3.1 per cent, Mirvac rose 2.9 per cent, Vicinity Centres rose 2.5 per cent, GPT climbed 2.4 per cent.

Miners and energy companies were among the strongest performers on Tuesday, with BHP Billiton up 1.7 per cent, Rio Tinto up 1.1 per cent, Woodside up 1.7 per cent and Origin Energy up 1.9 per cent.

The gains came after copper prices got a boost after vehicle and loans data from China pointed to improved consumer confidence while oil surged back to 2015 levels after a pipeline shutdown in the North Sea.

ANZ shares rose 1.1 per cent with the banking group announcing that it will sell its life insurance business to the n arm of Switzerland’s Zurich for $2.85 billion.

Medibank shares declined 1.2 per cent. Online retailer Kogan苏州夜总会招聘 said that it will start selling budget health insurance policies under a new brand dubbed Kogan Health, after signing a deal with the private health insurer. Kogan苏州夜总会招聘 gained 1.5 per cent.

Asaleo Care, owner of the Sorbent toilet paper brand, lost 5 per cent after flagging a lower full year net profit of between $57 million and $58 million, compared to $59 million a year ago, with the firm blaming aggressive pricing tactics from competitors for the expected result. Stock Watch: DigitalX

Bitcoin fever spilled over to the ASX, with shares in DigitalX rocketing 4.4 per cent higher to 24 cents. Investors are overjoyed at the blockchain technology company’s decision to return to the cryptocurrency market place as a market maker on approved cryptocurrency exchanges. According to an announcement this morning, its board has approved the use of up to $1 million to provide liquidity to both sides of the cryptocurrency market while maintaining a small new open position in the asset being traded. As such, DigitalX will maintain bid and ask limit orders below and above the spot price. Management expects this to produce its best results for DigitalX when price volatility is high. CEO Leigh Travers said: “We wound down our trading desk last year due to a lack of funding, however, our strong financial position, together with the appreciation in the value of Bitcoin, has allowed us to reignite this service.” At present DigitalX holds $18 million in liquid assets, this includes $5 million in cash, over $10 million in Bitcoin, and approximately $2 million in Ether. Business conditions

Business conditions more than gave back sharp gains from last month, with the business conditions index falling 9 points to 12 index points – albeit still well above the long-run average (+5). Meanwhile, business confidence is currently in line with long-run average levels, at +6 index points (down from +9 last month), although there has been a notable downward trend in the series since around the middle of the year. NAB’s chief economist Alan Oster said: “we expected to see last month’s spike in business conditions unwound fairly quickly as it both came as a bit of a surprise, and was also out of sorts with what we were seeing in some of the other leading indicators from the survey, such as forward orders. But even after this decline, business conditions are still very much above the long-run average.” Oil

Brent crude oil prices jumped above $US65 per barrel for the first time since 2015 after the shutdown of the Forties North Sea pipeline knocked out significant supplies from a market that was already tightening due to OPEC-led production cuts. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $US65.07 a barrel at market close on Tuesday, up 37 cents, or 0.6 per cent from their last close. It was the first time Brent rose above $US65 since June 2015. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $US58.21 a barrel, up 22 cents, or 0.4 per cent from their last settlement. Asian stocks

Asian equities were pulling back after three sessions of gains. lower as traders awaited US and European central bank meetings this week for further clues on the 2018 policy outlook. Benchmarks in Tokyo sat on recent gains, while Korean shares slipped. US stock indexes hit fresh highs on Monday night with most major American gauges advancing, led by more than 1 per cent increases in media, telephone and technology-hardware shares. Investors shrugged off a non-fatal explosion in New York in what was called a terrorist attack. Volumes remained lacklustre ahead of the year’s final Federal Reserve and European Central Bank meetings. Metals

There was a broad-based upswing in metals on Tuesday with copper prices gaining 1.5 per cent, lifting for the fourth straight session. Zinc bumped 1.4 per cent higher. Metal investors were buoyed by a weaker US dollar and data from top consumer China that indicated higher demand. Aluminium closed 0.5 per cent higher, nickel was up 2.7 per cent and lead was up 1.6 per cent. A lower US currency makes dollar-denominated metals cheaper for non-US firms. The dollar slipped against a trade-weighted basket of currencies on lacklustre US wage data.



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Canberra product Nick Winter joins Adelaide Strikers

Canberra cricket export Nick Winter can still remember the night South came calling.
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It was during an Eastlake cricket club presentation night that Tim Nielsen called to offer the promising young quick a rookie contract with the Redbacks for the 2013-14 season.

Now he wants to use his Big Bash League deal with the Adelaide Strikers to finally break the shackles and cement a spot at the top level.

The 24-year-old was officially unveiled as a Striker alongside bowlers David Grant and Michael Cormack, and all-rounder Daniel Drew on Tuesday.

Injury and inconsistency threatened to derail his dream when he lost his state deal last year, but he has since fought his way back into the Redbacks squad on a full-time contract.

Winter says he didn’t change a thing but he’s keen to ride the wave into what he hopes will be a sold-out Adelaide Oval against the Sydney Thunder on December 22.

“After last year getting delisted with the Redbacks, it was a pretty tough time,” Winter said.

“I had the Renegades contract last year but I knew that was up as well at the end of the season so to get the Strikers deal as well as the Redbacks deal, it’s been a good little turnaround for me.

“I think the way cricket is, it’s pretty cliche but it’s one of those games where everything jumps on top of you when you’re down, and when you’re going well everything goes right.

“South obviously got me across for a reason. They saw potential in me and they thought I was good enough.

“I just was able to show that last year especially in the Futures League. I felt, without wanting to sound arrogant, I stood out and I was deserving of a full contract.

“They obviously thought so as well. I don’t think anyone really changed, I think another year in the system and another year of me getting better as a player, it just came to fruition on the field.”

He is joined in Adelaide by his former ACT Comets teammate Jono Dean, who is eyeing a contract extension having become a part of the furniture in the city of churches.

Winter fondly recalls Eastlake versus Queanbeyan [Dean’s former club] matches used to turn into “Winter versus Dean” battles and hopes they will be able to create a historic moment for Canberra when they suit up together.

It would be Winter’s second claim to fame in the BBL, right up there with the time he bowled two dot balls to English superstar Kevin Pietersen.

Winter played four games for South in this season’s domestic one-day competition and his goal is to earn a prized baggy red cap.

He’s got a trio of experienced quicks to learn from at the Strikers in Peter Siddle, Ben Laughlin and Michael Neser.

Winter jokes he and Siddle have been “chasing each other around”, having spent three seasons at the Renegades together.

While it looms as a tough side to break into, an expanded fixture has Winter eyeing a breakthrough opportunity with the window for further squad rotations opening up.

“Longer term, I’d have to be realistic and say that it still hurts me that I haven’t made my first class debut yet,” Winter said.

“I’ve been in the squad for four or five years, been in the Shield squad a couple of times and missed out as the 12th man.

“It would be really nice to finish the season having debuted for both the Adelaide Strikers and to have earned myself a red South n baggy, so that’s my goal.”

CANBERRA’S BIG BASH LEAGUE CONNECTION

Aiden Blizzard – Sydney Thunder

Jason Behrendorff – Perth Scorchers

Nathan Lyon – Sydney Sixers

Jono Dean – Adelaide Strikers

Nick Winter – Adelaide Strikers

Alex Ross – Brisbane Heat

Jason Floros – Brisbane Heat

Tom Rogers – Hobart Hurricanes



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