Marnus Labuschagne says "riding the wave" has been the key to his success after the Australia batsman scored a third consecutive Test century on day one of the series against New Zealand.

Labuschagne's purple patch continued on a slow-scoring deck in Perth, the number three reaching stumps on 110 not out with Australia 248-4 in the day-night encounter.

Don Bradman and Charles Macartney are the only other Australians to have scored three successive hundreds in the longest format.

Labuschagne also became the fourth-fastest Australian to score 1,000 Test runs and the number three says staying in the moment has enabled him to spend so much time in the middle.

"No hundred is easy, but today there was definitely patches where scoring really dried up completely and you just had to be patient and trust you were going to come out the other side," said the 25-year-old.

"It's about riding the wave, not trying to get too high when you are going well, keep everything consistent, keep it process-driven in terms of your mind.

"It's great to get runs, but just making sure you are doing your routines, keeping that clear mind on the field and from there you're just playing the ball as it comes. It's making sure you put a real high price on decision making."

Test debutant Lockie Ferguson went for a scan after suffering a calf injury on a searing hot day and Labuschagne says Australia must try and make the tourists' bowlers suffer in the field if they are a bowler short.

"I think one of the boys said when we came back in that he [Ferguson] pulled up with an injury, but me and [Steve] Smith didn't even know," the centurion said.

"It's a massive advantage they do have an all-rounder [Colin de Grandhomme] in their side, so that probably does lighten the load but it's a massive advantage if we can really bat well tomorrow and keep them out there.

"Batters, we've just got to keep putting runs on the board and with our world-class bowling attack, it gives them the upper hand."

Neil Wagner said New Zealand can only cross their fingers and hope debutant Lockie Ferguson has not bowled his last ball in the first Test against Australia.

The Black Caps paceman pulled up with a calf injury on day one at Perth Stadium after bowling just 11 overs.

Ferguson went for an MRI scan to discover the extent of the damage, leaving the tourists a bowler down as Marnus Labuschagne (110 not out) made a third consecutive Test century.

Wagner, who took 2-52 as Australia closed on 248-4 in the day-night contest, felt for Ferguson as New Zealand wait to discover how serious his injury is.

The seamer said: "It's gutting, isn't it. It's pretty heartbreaking and I know he'll be devastated.

"We'll all get right behind him and hopefully it's not too bad. We haven't heard anything back yet so hopefully it's good, or better news than what everyone is expecting."

Wagner added: "Hopefully we'll find out [the results] pretty soon. Fingers crossed it's not too bad, he's a quality player and we would have loved to have seen him bowl more."

New Zealand, already without left-arm seamer Trent Boult due to a side strain, will assess Ferguson's fitness prior to Friday's play in the series opener.

 

Marnus Labuschagne continued his stunning form with a third straight Test century as Australia made a strong start against New Zealand in Perth.

After winning the toss, Australia ended Thursday on 248-4 in the day-night contest, which is the first of three Test matches between the teams.

When he was on 95, Labuschagne, who had gone past 1,000 runs in only his 12th Test earlier in the innings, smashed a six off Mitchell Santner over long on.

He calmly saw out the day from there, finishing on 110 not out from 202 deliveries with 14 boundaries and that one maximum, and will return on day two alongside Travis Head (20no).

Labuschagne's exploits came after he recorded scores of 185 and 162 against Pakistan last month.

Neil Wagner (2-52) provided the main resistance for New Zealand, who lost Test debutant Lockie Ferguson to a calf injury and will hope the problem is not serious after being a bowler light for the final 22 overs.

Opener Joe Burns rued his decision not to appeal after being given out lbw to Colin de Grandhomme for just nine in the 13th over, replays showing the delivery would have missed leg stump.

David Warner could not replicate his epic partnership with Labuschagne from the Pakistan series as he fell for 43, sending a low full toss back to bowler Wagner, who dived forward to take a key scalp.

It meant Warner remains tantalisingly short of Don Bradman's Test haul of 6,966 runs, now six adrift.

But Labuschagne did find a partner in Steve Smith, the pair putting on 132 for the third wicket.

That crucial partnership should have been thwarted only for Smith to be dropped by Tom Latham at second slip off the bowling of Ferguson while on 19, Ross Taylor unable to gather the rebound.

Smith eventually fell for 43, though he had occupied the crease for 164 balls by the time Wagner had him caught by Southee.

New Zealand took the new ball as soon as it became available and Southee claimed his first wicket when he bowled Matthew Wade for 12, a superb in-swinging delivery doing the job.

Head survived an lbw appeal and a dangerous moment where he inside-edged past his own leg stump, but he gained in confidence from there and ended the day with four boundaries.

Labuschagne was the constant presence at the other end and he will have his sights set on a huge score as Australia's patience approach gave them the edge after an intriguing first day.

Australia have appointed former England assistant Scott Wisemantel as their new attack coach.

Wisemantel worked closely with Eddie Jones over 18 months up until the end of this year's Rugby World Cup, which saw England reach the final before losing to South Africa.

Australian Wisemantel will now return home to work with new Wallabies boss Dave Rennie, who has replaced Michael Cheika.

The 49-year-old has also had roles in Japan and France, with this being his first position back in Australia since working with the Waratahs in 2010.

"I'm really looking forward to returning home to Australia after 10 years and for the opportunity to work alongside Dave Rennie," Wisemantel said after signing a four-year deal.

"I've learnt a few things from working with various programmes around the world and it's given me another perspective on how to view the game as an attack coach.

"Historically, the Wallabies have been innovative in how they play the game and how they attack so I want to bring that to the table.

"There's a good group of players with some exciting talent coming through, which will create competition for spots amongst the current crop."

Wallabies general manager Chris Webb thinks luring Wisemantel, who worked as a skills coach with the national side earlier in his career, should be seen as a significant move as they look to build a set-up that can end a 20-year wait for a World Cup win.

"Scott's return to Australia is a huge coup for the Wallabies," Webb said.

"He's got great experience and has had success with club sides in Europe as well as with other international sides, but I also know what he's like as a person and as a coach and he will add tremendous value to the group.

"Dave has been closely involved in the appointment of Scott and I know those two guys will complement each other really well."

New Zealand are monitoring Trent Boult's fitness ahead of the first Test against an unchanged Australia side at Perth Stadium.

Boult has been troubled by a side strain and could miss the day-night contest, which starts on Thursday.

Batsman Ross Taylor (thumb) and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme (abdominal muscle) are set to feature in the first of three Tests between the trans-Tasman rivals.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson said of Boult's availability on the eve of the match: "We're going to have another look today before deciding anything for Thursday.

"I think you look at it as a long-term decision in terms of this whole series. He has tracked really nicely and felt really good on Tuesday."

Lockie Ferguson could make his debut in the longest format after the paceman missed out in a 1-0 win over England.

"It’s exciting we've got Lockie in our squad to consider him," said Williamson. "It's exciting to have a guy in our camp who can bowl at that speed."

Australia have gone with the same side that completed a whitewash of Pakistan.

"We've been playing some really good cricket, happy with the way it's going so we're trying to get a consistent team together and as I touched on after Adelaide, the great thing is we've got guys that are performing really well," Australia skipper Tim Paine said.

"That's what we wanted so we're going to go with the same team."

 

 

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani is confident Australia and England will tour the country in the coming years as they prepare for a first Test on home soil since 2009.

Pakistan face Sri Lanka - the last team to visit over a decade ago - on Wednesday in Rawalpindi, the opener in a two-game series that also includes a Test in Karachi.

Mani insists Pakistan are not planning to play future series on neutral grounds, with England "very supportive" ahead of a possible tour.

"We are due to play England in 2021-22 and we are in serious discussions with them about coming to Pakistan," Mani told ESPN Cricinfo.

"So far, they've been very supportive, so I fully expect they will come and play their cricket in Pakistan. 

"Similarly, Australia, their chief executive has been to Pakistan and he's gone back with a totally different perception from what he thought it was like."

Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali, meanwhile, has said the series opener against Sri Lanka is a huge moment for the country.

"It's a moment to rejoice, not only for the players but the whole Pakistan nation," he said, in quotes reported by Sky Sports.

"We had a tough series in Australia and the way we lost there was disappointing. Moving forward, we see this home series as an opportunity and advantage to turn things around.

"We will try our best to fix our mistakes and improve wherever we had been lacking.

"We have outstanding talent in our squad. They have potential and, if we implement it, results will be good."

Steve Smith is backing Melbourne Cricket Ground curator Matt Page to deliver an acceptable wicket for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand.

The final match at the MCG before that contest - the Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia - had to be cancelled on Saturday due to an unsafe pitch.

Umpires called off day one after Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were struck multiple times amid unpredictable bounce.

Cricket Australia promised to ensure there is a wicket of "international standard" for December 26, though, and Smith has no doubt Page will do the necessary hard work.

"I'm sure they'll produce something good for us on Boxing Day," the Australia superstar said ahead of the first Test in Perth this week.

"It's a really fine line with that wicket. Pagey is a very good curator - he'll be working as hard as he can to try to get a wicket that is suitable for bat and ball.

"These guys have a really tough job. They've tried a lot down in Melbourne but not been able to get something that is a bit more bowler friendly.

"They're going to work hard over the next couple of weeks to get us a good wicket for Boxing Day."

A dangerous pitch has forced the MCG's final match before the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand to be cancelled in Melbourne on Sunday.

Preparations for the December 26 Test were thrown into chaos after the Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia was suspended on Saturday.

Umpires decided to call off day one of the match due to an unsafe wicket, after Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were struck multiple times amid unpredictable bounce.

Cricket Australia (CA) released a statement, ensuring there will be a wicket of "international standard" ready for the Boxing Day blockbuster as organisers and curators were left scrambling.

The teams returned on Sunday but after a morning inspection it was agreed for the match to be abandoned, despite extensive work from the ground staff.

While a different strip will be used for the Australia-New Zealand Test, it has sparked cause for concern ahead of the trans-Tasman fixture.

"We won't be losing the Boxing Day Test," Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula said. "I understand there is disappointment about the Shield match being abandoned but I've spoken to Stuart Fox [Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive] yesterday and today.

"The wicket being used for the Boxing Day Test is a different wicket to the one used yesterday and I've got no doubt that by the time we get to Boxing Day in a couple of weeks from now the wicket will be in perfect order for a Test match."

"I applaud the MCC for trying to prepare a wicket with more life in it," Pakula added. "It has been criticised in recent years for being too favourable to batsmen. The club is trying to find more balance between batting and bowling and they will keep working on that not just this year but in years ahead."

Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief executive Alistair Nicholson added: "The right decision has been made. When player safety comes into it there's no debate from our point of view."

The opening Test between Australia and New Zealand starts in Perth on December 12.

Cricket Australia will ensure there is a wicket of "international standard" ready for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand after Saturday's play at a Sheffield Shield match was abandoned due to unpredictable bounce.

Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were each struck multiple times by bouncers on day one of the clash between Victoria and Western Australia, forcing the umpires to step in and call a halt to proceedings because of the danger posed by the pitch.

Play is due to resume on Sunday - WA were 89/3 at the time of the suspension - at 10:00 local time (23:00 Saturday GMT), with Cricket Australia focused on ensuring there are no such problems for the second Test with New Zealand.

"We're very disappointed at today's play being abandoned in the Marsh Sheffield Shield match between Victoria and Western Australia," Cricket Australia's head of cricket operations Peter Roach said.

"But we also acknowledge that there have been two previous Shield matches at the MCG this season without incident.

"The MCG groundstaff have more than two weeks to ensure the Test surface, which is a different pitch strip to the one being used in this match, is of international standard.

"We will seek to better understand the issues that resulted in variable bounce at the MCG on Saturday. We will also work closely with MCG groundstaff in the lead up to the Test match.

"The safety of our players is always our highest priority. The decision to suspend play and roll the wicket in an effort to address the variable bounce was the correct one and I applaud umpires [Phillip] Gillespie and [Geoff] Joshua for the decisive action taken."

The Boxing Day match of 2017 was marred by pitch issues of a different nature, with a drop-in surface providing next to no help for the bowlers as Australia and England meandered to a draw in the fourth Ashes Test.

Australia's Trans-Tasman Trophy series with New Zealand starts in Perth next Thursday.

Preparations for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand have been thrown into chaos after a dangerous MCG wicket forced a Sheffield Shield match to be suspended.

Australia and trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand are scheduled to meet in Melbourne for the second match of a three-Test series, starting December 26.

But Saturday's Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia was called off, leaving organisers and MCG curators scrambling in a worrying sign.

Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were struck multiple times on day one of the Shield match, prompting umpires to take action due to unpredictable bounce.

Play is scheduled to resume at 10:00 local time on Sunday.

The opening Test between Australia and New Zealand starts in Perth on December 12.

Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme will travel to Australia with the New Zealand squad after making "good progress" following their injuries.

Boult and De Grandhomme missed the drawn second Test against England due to rib and abdominal injuries respectively.

However, the pair will fly to Perth – where the first Test against Australia begins on Thursday – with the rest of the Black Caps squad, it was confirmed.

"Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme are both making good progress with their injuries and successfully trained today at Bay Oval," the Black Caps wrote on Twitter on Friday.

"The pair will travel with the team to Perth tomorrow."

New Zealand recorded a 1-0 series win over England and face Australia in three Tests, beginning with the clash in Perth.

Melbourne will host the Boxing Day Test before the teams meet in Sydney beginning January 3.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) confirmed the appointment of James Johnson as its new chief executive officer on Friday.

Johnson, most recently the senior vice-president of external affairs with the City Football Group (CFG), is replacing David Gallop as chief and will begin in the role in January.

He has previously held positions with FIFA – as head of professional football and senior manager member associations – and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as director of international relations and development.

"Having run a domestic and international executive search, and in a strong field of candidates, we have no doubt James is the right person for the role. We are thrilled that he is coming back to Australia at this important time for the game," FFA chairman Chris Nikou said in a statement.

"Football is in James' soul. He has demonstrated that he is a collaborative leader and team player and brings global and local experience and networks to the FFA. Importantly he also understands the importance of developmental pathways and the grassroots of the code having on the ground experience representing Australia as a member of the 1999 U-17 'Joeys' national team and having risen through the ranks of football in Queensland in the 1990s.

"He is one of the few leaders in the sport who has spent his playing and executive career within the various stakeholder groups associated with football and in this time of change we think that matters.

"James has inarguably made a meaningful contribution to the code globally. A lawyer by training, throughout his executive career, James has been at the centre of many major industry negotiations, managing multi-stakeholder situations and projects including currently representing Manchester City Football Club [MCFC] within the Union of European Football Associations [UEFA] and European Clubs Association [ECA] bodies in the ongoing reforms to the competition format, match calendar, financial distribution model and qualification pathway to the UEFA Champions League.

"In 2016, James received international recognition when Leaders™ listed him as one of its 'Leaders under 40' across all sports. He is also considered as having played a meaningful role in supporting the global leagues to form the World Leagues Forum."

Raelene Castle insisted Rugby Australia (RA) did not back down in the Israel Folau case, saying settling was the best financial decision for the governing body.

Folau and RA reached a confidential agreement on Wednesday and issued corresponding apologies after an end to their legal dispute.

The 30-year-old was sacked by RA for what the body said was a "high-level breach" of its code after he posted hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram. He had been warned over previous online posts in 2018.

After reports Folau would be paid eight million Australian dollars in damages – something Castle dismissed as "wildly inaccurate" – the RA chief executive defended the decision to settle.

"We didn't back down. We needed to give the game cost certainty," she told a news conference on Thursday.

"The feedback we were getting from our rugby community was that they wanted this matter settled, they want to go into the new year knowing that they can go in with a clean slate and start talking about rugby again instead of talking about this case."

Castle, who insisted she would not resign, said settling was the best decision financially for RA.

"These are ultimately commercial decisions. We had to make a decision that was right for rugby in this country," she said.

"We made the right decision in calling out Israel on his posts and on his inappropriate messaging. That remains the same, we stick to our values that inclusiveness is absolutely core to the key of rugby.

"Ultimately, taking this conversation further into a court situation was not helping the game so we made a decision that gave us cost certainty, that put us in the best financial situation entering the new year in a positive way."

Brian Lara would have loved Australia to have given David Warner a greater opportunity to break his record for the most runs scored in a Test innings.

Warner struck a sublime unbeaten 335 in the second-Test hammering of Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval last week, with only Matthew Hayden (380) above him in the list of highest scores by an Australian.

However, Warner did not get the chance to beat the legendary Lara's overall benchmark of 400 not out achieved against England in April 2004 after captain Tim Paine declared, not wanting to risk the potential for adverse weather scuppering the team's chances of victory.

Lara understands Paine's thought process behind the decision, but he was disappointed Warner was not afforded more time to have a go at his record.

"Well I was hoping that they would give him an opportunity to at least go for it," he told Omnisport.

"I know Australia, first and foremost, want to put themselves in the best possible position to win the game. 

"But looking at the end of it, in hindsight, you're winning with a day to spare. It would have been nice to see someone have a go at it. 

"It is always tricky, you never know what is going to happen when you start approaching a total such as that. I remember doing it the first time in 1994 [375 not out against England], how nervous you can get. 

"But so be it, they won the Test which is the most important thing. He batted well, put his team in a great position. 

"What I like about him is he's an attacking player, which is great. You want an attacking player to be on or around such a record."

Israel Folau believes he has been "vindicated" after reaching an undisclosed settlement with Rugby Australia (RA) over his sacking and called for new federal laws on religious freedom.

The two parties reached a confidential agreement on Wednesday and issued corresponding apologies after an end to their legal dispute.

Folau was sacked by RA for what the body said was a "high-level breach" of its code after he posted hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram. He had been warned over previous online posts in 2018.

A court-ordered mediation in Melbourne went on for two days, with Folau seeking 14million Australian dollars in lost wages and sponsorships.

Having agreed the settlement, which prevents the dispute from moving to a public trial, Folau posted a video on his official website alongside wife Maria.

"We are extremely pleased with the settlement reached today," he said. 

"With today's acknowledgment and apology from Rugby Australia we have been vindicated and can now move on with our lives to focus on our faith and our family. 

"Maria and I would like to thank God for his guidance and strength. Thank you to our supporters for our thoughts and prayers. 

"We started this journey on behalf of all people of faith to protect their rights of freedom of speech and religion. 

"We now look forward to the federal government enacting the legislation necessary to further protect these strengths and rights for all Australians."

Folau, who won 73 international caps, had claimed to have lost out on the chance to play at two World Cups and the opportunity to become Australia captain.

In a fresh controversy last month, Folau's comments linking bushfires that devasted Australia to gay marriage and abortion were slammed as "appallingly insensitive" by the nation's prime minister Scott Morrison.

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