SAfrica prove sultans of reverse-swing

They were on the canvas in Centurion, but now South Africa have swung the hardest in the much-hyped battle of the two best pace attacks in the world.

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The victor will be crowned next week, but the Proteas take form into the three-Test series decider in Cape Town given their thumping last-start second Test win was triggered by a reverse-swing rout.

Dale Steyn (4-55 from 20 overs) was the most damaging, but Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel also had the ball zipping around.

It was in sharp contrast to what Australia managed with either the new or old ball in Port Elizabeth, but coach Darren Lehmann was not concerned.

“Not at all, considering we bowled on day one when the pitch was not as course and day three when our bowlers were cooked because we only batted for two sessions,” Lehmann said.

“I knew it would go reverse day four and day five and we didn’t get to day five.

“It’s not an issue. The time we batted first we got the ball going reverse. That’s just the way the game goes.”

Michael Clarke was undone by Steyn in Australia’s embarrassing second-innings collapse and said there were some lessons for his team.

“South Africa showed us how to get the ball reversing, we didn’t get one to reverse in both innings so we can learn from that,” he said.

Proteas captain Graeme Smith noted the introduction of part-time spinners Dean Elgar and JP Duminy helped scuff the ball quickly and allowed for reverse-swing earlier in the match.

Smith was unsure of whether Steyn and his two offsiders would be able to repeat the effort at Newlands.

“It’s always a tough one (to predict),” Smith said.

“End of the season (if) the square’s going to be quite worn you would think maybe reverse-swing was going to be a factor, but when we get to Newlands now it could be looking immaculate.”

US, allies want united Ukraine

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice says Russia, Europe and the United States all have an interest in keeping crisis-hit Ukraine from breaking apart.

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A new era dawned in the ex-Soviet state when parliament appointed a pro-Western interim leader after impeaching a defiant president Viktor Yanukovych, whose whereabouts remain a mystery following a week of carnage that capped three months of mostly peaceful protests.

“It’s not in the interests of Ukraine or of Russia or of Europe or of the United States to see the country split,” Rice told NBC’s Meet the Press talk show.

“It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence return and the situation escalate.”

She warned it would be a “grave mistake” for Ukraine’s old master Russia to send in forces to restore the kind of government it would like to see in Kiev.

“There is not an inherent contradiction… between a Ukraine that has long-standing historic and cultural ties to Russia and a modern Ukraine that wants to integrate more closely with Europe,” Rice said.

“It need not be mutually exclusive.”

In a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry “underscored the United States’ expectation that Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic freedom of choice will be respected by all states”.

According to a senior State Department official, Kerry also expressed Washington’s “strong support” for the Ukrainian parliament’s move to name an acting president and acting prime minister.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, meanwhile, pointed to “broad support” at the G20 meeting in Sydney for an international aid package based out of the International Monetary Fund, once a transitional government formally takes power.

Drivers warned cockatoos on the move

Wildlife officers have urged motorists to avoid endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoos which are in the Perth area after their breeding season in the Wheatbelt.

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Department of Parks and Wildlife senior wildlife officer Rick Dawson said many Carnaby’s had returned from the Wheatbelt with their fledglings and were moving along the Swan Coastal Plain in search of food and water.

There was usually an increase in the number of black cockatoo deaths from vehicle strikes during February and March, and there had already been 34 needing treatment at Perth Zoo after being injured in the metropolitan area, he said.

“We know that many more are hit by vehicles and never reported to the department,” Mr Dawson said.

“As a large-winged bird, black cockatoos usually take off into the wind, often putting them in the path of vehicles, so we ask that motorists slow down safely when they see a black cockatoo and approach with caution.”

Mr Dawson asked people to report injured cockatoos to the department and also advise of any deaths because their DNA could aid further research into the species.

He’s warned people to use a towel when picking up injured cockatoos to avoid being bitten.

The birds should be put in a dark box and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation centre or to a local vet who will arrange for it to be collected.

According to the federal Department of the Environment, Carnaby’s populations have declined by more than 50 per cent in the past 45 years, and they are no longer breeding a third of their former breeding sites in the Wheatbelt.

The cockatoos are specially protected fauna in WA.

Evans able to refer cases to AFL tribunal

AFL football operations manager Mark Evans will have increased powers after changes to the league’s tribunal system.

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The commission has beefed up Evans’ role in the tribunal system, giving him the option to refer a case directly to the tribunal.

Evans can decide on a direct referral, which means the player cannot take an early plea, even after the match review panel has assessed the matter.

He previously could lay a charge and grade the incident himself.

The league has also tried to clarify the definitions of negligent, reckless and intentional action in the tribunal rules, as well as what constitutes low, medium, high and severe impact.

Also on Tuesday, St Kilda announced they would contest the reckless umpire contact charge against midfielder David Armitage.

Armitage was booked for alleged contact with umpire Andrew Mitchell during last Wednesday’s pre-season game against the Western Bulldogs.

He could have accepted a $1950 fine and now will be $2600 out of pocket if the tribunal finds him guilty.

Tuesday’s hearing will be the first tribunal session of the year.

West Coast utility Patrick McGinnity can accept a one-game AFL suspension after he was charged with rough conduct against Fremantle opponent Danyle Pearce.

The incident happened in the final quarter of last Tuesday’s pre-season win over the Dockers in Joondalup.

McGinnity would risk a two-game ban if he went to the tribunal.

He would have to serve any suspension during the regular season.

Gold Coast forward Timmy Sumner can accept a reprimand for his rough conduct charge against Brisbane’s Tom Rockliff.

Hawthorn’s Mitch Hallahan also faces a fine for umpire contact.

CNN pull plug on Piers Morgan show

CNN president Jeff Zucker has decided to end television host Piers Morgan’s talk show after its ratings plunged.

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The former British tabloid editor – who irked conservative Americans after launching somewhat of a crusade for greater gun control measures – struggled after stepping into the shoes of popular, down-to-earth host Larry King in the coveted 9pm primetime slot.

King, an 80-year-old talk show star who now hosts a show broadcasting on Hulu, Ora TV and Russia’s RT television, is known for his ability to connect immediately and easily with ordinary Americans. He hosted Larry King Live on CNN from 1985 to 2010, wearing his trademark wide-rimmed glasses, shirt with rolled-up sleeves and suspenders.

Morgan, in contrast, was inherently British and not just in his accent. In particular, he made repeated references to cricket, a sport with little US presence, and professed his ignorance about American football and preference for the round football, soccer.

“CNN confirms that Piers Morgan Live is ending,” CNN vice president of communications Barbara Levin told AFP.

“The date of the final program is still to be determined.”

US media reports said the show could end as early as next month but that Morgan may stay with CNN in another role.

In an interview with The New York Times, Morgan said the show had “run its course,” adding that he and Zucker “have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.”

He also acknowledged the show was underperforming.

“It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings,” Morgan said, adding that the show suffered especially on slow news days.

“Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarising, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it,” he added