Jonathan Trott to take another stress break from cricket

London: England batsman Jonathan Trott is reportedly set to take another break from cricket due to the stress issues that forced him to quit the recent Ashes series, while talented all-rounder Ben Stokes has been taking anger management advice to avoid a repeat of the episode that cost him his World Twenty20 place when he broke a wrist punching a dressing-room locker.
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Against this backdrop, Australian Trevor Bayliss is still in the running to coach England, and was due for a second interview on Friday.

Trott decided to pull out of the Ashes tour after the first Test in Brisbane with what the England and Wales Cricket Board described as a “stress-related illness”.

The 32-year-old spent four months away from the game working with a psychologist and the ECB’s medical team in a bid to rebuild his career.

Trott later described his Ashes exit as a case of “burn-out” and said he hoped to return to England duty this season.

But according to the Daily Mail’s report on Thursday, he has had to step away from the firing line again after just one championship match for his county Warwickshire in which he scored 37 and 26 against Sussex.

According to the Mail, it was “a far from easy decision to take for the emotional Trott, but his anxiety levels have been so high that he felt he had no choice for his own wellbeing”.

The news will inevitably lead to speculation that Trott’s England career is over, but he reportedly hopes more specialist treatment will enable him to return.

Stokes has not picked up a bat since he broke the scaphoid bone in his right wrist by punching the locker after he was dismissed for a first-ball duck in a Twenty20 international against West Indies in Barbados last month.

The 22-year-old suffered a similar injury earlier in his career when he punched a fire door during a club match, but hopes that sessions with England’s sports psychologist, Mark Bawden, will help him to control his temper.

“England have got a sports psychologist who you can have some chats with him and let out things which you wouldn’t tell someone on the street,” Stokes said. “Anything that stops me doing what I did is going to be helpful.”

Stokes’ embarrassment, and a full apology to his teammates before he headed back to England, ensured that there was no need for a dressing down from England’s limited-overs coach, Ashley Giles.

Stokes will have to wait at least another month before he is picked by England again. No date on his comeback has been set and he is due to see a specialist again on May 12, three days after England plays its next one-day international against Scotland in Aberdeen.

With the England coching job, Peter Moores is the front-runner to replace Andy Flower, but Trevor Bayliss, the 51-year-old who recently coached NSW to the Sheffield Shield title, impressed ECB officials when they met in Dubai two weeks ago while he was preparing his Kolkata Knight Riders team for the Indian Premier League. He is set for a second interview with Paul Downton, the managing director of the England team, via Skype.

Moores met Downton on Wednesday to outline his vision for resurrecting England after the Ashes whitewash and has strong supporters within the higher echelons of the ECB, while Ashley Giles has been groomed for the top job for the past two years.

Mick Newell, of Nottinghamshire, Mark Robinson, of Sussex, and Giles have all also been interviewed this week. Downton will make the final decision, which will then be rubber-stamped by the ECB’s executive board, chaired by Giles Clarke.

The appointment of Bayliss would cause consternation within the county set-up because of a desire to promote a home-grown coach, but there is a chance he could be teamed with his former assistant when he was coach of Sri Lanka, Paul Farbrace.

James Frawley at home on Demons’ forward line

Chris Dawes and James Frawley are likely to share the forward line again this weekend for Melbourne. Photo: Pat ScalaIf there was one area on the field to engender confidence in Melbourne fans entering the season, it was the Demons’ forward line. With Mitch Clark on the comeback trail, former Magpie Chris Dawes more settled in his second season across the Olympic Park divide, and prodigious talent Jesse Hogan at last able to unleash his gifts on the competition, one would have been hard pressed to envisage a situation whereby Melbourne would find its attacking linchpin in the form of an All-Australian key defender.
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Clark has since retired to focus his energies on battling depression, while Dawes’ entrance into the 2014 season was delayed by a calf complaint, and Hogan, too, has been put on ice to nurse a back issue. So a locum was employed inside 50, and after a 24-possession, 14-mark and two-goal performance in the drought-breaking triumph over Carlton, newly made forward star James Frawley won’t be shifting anywhere, at least in the opinion of teammate Jeremy Howe.

“If it’s up to him, he’ll definitely be playing forward [and] after that performance it’d be highly unlikely for him to move out of there. So if he can play like that, he can probably spend the rest of the year down there,” Howe said on Friday.

Howe was not, however, downplaying the role of a fresh and bullocking Dawes in the Melbourne win. “Yeah, [Dawes] has come in and he’s just got a good presence about him; always rocks up at the right times, which is what we need,” he said. “He’s getting called the decoy around the club at the moment by Chip Frawley, so so he’ll probably try and stamp his authority a bit more even this week.”

Howe, 23, has been jettisoned to defence, but despite the role being an unfamiliar one for the Demons’ leading goal kicker in 2013, he is not perturbed by the change of scenery.

“If [Frawley] keeps on playing well, there’s no chance I’m going to get down there, but yeah, I’m happy playing in the back line and if he can keep kicking goals I’m more than happy,” Howe said.

The high-flying Tasmanian went goalless over the first two weeks of the season, a fact that Howe recognises was a major factor in the move down back.

“I definitely started slow in the forward line; I wasn’t making the most of my opportunities and then I’ve kind of gone back and started to focus on a new role off half-back, more so to get my own confidence going,” he said.

“Last week, I didn’t get a lot of it but still felt involved through defensive actions and stuff like that … just see how long it lasts.”

Howe said the self-belief within the team had increased following the victory last weekend, although the focus had shifted quickly to the task of toppling the improving Gold Coast Suns on Sunday at the MCG.

“The mood’s up and about. I think the mood’s always been positive around the club, but I think getting our first win just gives confidence to the boys that what we’ve been doing actually works,” he said. “We tried to keep a lid on it, we know we’ve got a long way to go, we enjoyed the win for what it was, but we knew we had to quickly turn around and face Gold Coast this week.”

Damien Dempsey to perform at folk festival

Hanging around Newtown, Sydney, Damien Dempsey is enjoying being back in Australia again.
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His thick Irish accent cuts through the air with ease and his affable personality makes it a pleasure to talk to a man described as the greatest Irish singer of his generation.

Performing at Canberra’s burgeoning National Folk Festival, Dempsey has already frequented our shores eight times and enjoys our colonial sense of humour and that we’re ”one of the oldest and youngest countries in the world”.

He’s also enjoying the release of a best-of double album that spans his 15-year career and six Irish Top 10 albums. It’s All Good allows Dempsey to reflect on his past and captures him over the years blending rock with folk, reggae, roots and traditional Irish music.

”I feel very lucky to be doing what I am doing and very privileged,” Dempsey says. ”A lot of writers and talented musicians have to give up, as they just couldn’t afford to play music any more and I am very privileged to take it one step forward where I can make money and pay the rent.

”I am one of these people that feel the song comes through you and the good ones write themselves. I wouldn’t take credit for all of the songs and I had a lot of help – a higher power, I believe.”

People usually assume that artists making music are well-off and living a life of excess, but Dempsey knows that many wonderful musicians are obscure, not in the limelight and that sometimes it takes time for music to pay your bills.

”I went through a lot of lean years and didn’t start making money until I was around 40 years of age. And whatever money I make now kind of pays the rent and I can feed myself and then I invest by coming down to Australia and the States and UK to get my music out there,” he says.

”Only 1 per cent are rich and famous and the rest are out there working, playing music and helping people through life with music. Some of the best music in the world is out there and people don’t know about it. Some artists just do music not for money but because it is magic, it’s essential and it helps you feel alive, you know.”

Dempsey is a grounded individual who appreciates it takes hard work and a lot of luck to get where he is. His father entered him into a national Irish song contest in his youth; he came second, and suddenly a whole new world opened before him – but it wasn’t always easy.

”As soon as I got the guitar around 12, I always had dreams of being on stage and there being an audience, and I always had visions of this. I mean, it got a bit hard in my mid-20s, when things weren’t really going anywhere for me and people were saying, ‘Give up, you’ve tried your best but it’s time to get a real job.’ But music is like breathing to me. It’s like oxygen. I enjoy writing songs and it’s a form of healing for me.”

Thankfully, Dempsey got through the hard times but he’s too modest to tell me he has performed with an array of brilliant musical minds, such as Brian Eno, U2, Bob Dylan, Sinead O’Connor, Morrissey and Glen Hansard.

His influences are many but two in particular stand out.

”Sinead O’Connor is a big influence on me, ’cause she never sat on the fence and she hit out at anything she thought was wrong,” Dempsey says.

”Bruce Springsteen’s early work was important too, as he’d make working class scenes and dead-end places come alive like a movie, and paint a picture with the lyrics.”

Dempsey is similar to Springsteen and O’Connor, with songs that speak of injustice, loss and longing, of heartache, hope and despair, of suffering and healing. It’s clear that he finds inspiration from everyday life.

”I watch the news or have debates with people and conversation can be a great way of getting a song,” he says.

”I’m always walking around the city with a notebook or pen and keeping my eyes and my ears open, and always observing people and anything that annoys me that I feel strongly about, and justice. A song to me is like scratching an itch. I was never really one for writing love songs as I’ve always being more socially conscious.”

Damien Dempsey will be at the National Folk Festival, April 17-21.

Oscar Pistorius trial: athlete’s blame-shifting a recurring theme for prosecutor

Full coverage of the Pistorius trial
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Pretoria: Edging towards the end of his cross-examination, prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Oscar Pistorius who the world should blame for the athlete’s actions in shooting Reeva Steenkamp dead.

After all, the wily Mr Nel said, Mr Pistorius says he is blameless because he just made a “terrible mistake” that night, reacting instinctively to a noise like “wood moving” in his toilet cubicle that he thought was made by a dangerous intruder.

“So who should we blame for the fact that you shot her?” Mr Nel said, casting his arm around the court, as though anyone would do. “Should we blame Reeva? She never told you she was going to the toilet, should we not blame her?”

“No, my lady,” came the quick response, addressed to the judge.

Was it the government then, Mr Nel continued, for not doing enough about South Africa’s crime problem, leaving the disabled athlete apparently so paranoid of attack that he would shoot at a closed bathroom door?

“I don’t know who [is to blame], my lady,” he said.

“You must be blaming somebody for this?”

“I don’t, my lady, I believed there was a threat.”

Mr Pistorius’ penchant for blame-shifting had been a recurring theme over the course of Mr Nel’s tough cross-examination, and the questions were a fitting way to end his take-down of the international sporting icon.

After days in full attack mode, Mr Nel’s climax was simply stated.

“You shot four shots though that door knowing she was talking to you … you armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her,” Mr Nel said.

“That is not true, my lady,” Mr Pistorius replied.

“And after that you were overcome by what you had done … because you had intended to kill her?”

“That is not true, my lady.”

For five days, it had been the kind of clash relished by sports lovers as much as court watchers – the Pit Bull prosecutor and the Blade Runner engaged in a battle that could have only one winner.

If the look on Mr Pistorius’ face was anything to go by as he slumped back in the dock after seven days in the witness box, the answer was obvious.

Mr Nel had been his tormenter: the experienced prosecutor’s precision cross-examination laid out a compelling argument that Mr Pistorius’ version of events is utterly implausible.

Mr Pistorius appeared to be caught out and confused on numerous occasions, flatly denying minor facts that were easily proven.

Nonetheless he stuck to his central story, claiming he had mistaken Ms Steenkamp for an intruder that night, firing four bullets at his toilet door in a panic but adamant he had not intended to kill.

Mr Nel alleged numerous discrepancies in Mr Pistorius’ version, highlighting that the Olympian was a stickler for detail on some matters and had a complete memory blank on others.

Mr Nel stepped Mr Pistorius through the minutiae of his version, citing numerous inconsistencies, contradictions and “tailoring” of evidence.

The athlete was also accused of using his tearful outbursts to avoid difficult questions and also changing his defence from one of self-defence, in which he genuinely believed he was acting lawfully, to another available – that of an “involuntary action”.

By the time Mr Pistorius left the witness box, Mr Nel had presented a compelling picture of what the state alleges took place on the night Ms Steenkamp died based on the versions of “ear witnesses”, ballistics and forensic experts and evidence found at the crime scene.

The state alleges that the couple had an argument, and the young model and law graduate packed her bag to leave. There was perhaps a tussle over her jeans, the only item not neatly folded in her gym bag, after which Ms Steenkamp fled to the bathroom in fear of her life as Mr Pistorius grabbed his weapon, likely following her screaming: “Get the f— out of my house.’’

Ms Steenkamp locked herself in the toilet with her mobile phone, and the couple may have continued to argue for some time.

Eventually, Mr Pistorius opened fire, the first bullet striking Ms Steenkamp in the hip as she stood close to the closed bathroom door.

She screamed and fell backwards onto a wooden magazine rack. The second bullet missed, but ricocheted off a wall and hit her on her back. A third struck her right upper arm, the fourth entering her skull through her left hand, raised to her head in a protective position.

“You knew Reeva was behind the door and you shot at her. That’s the only thing that makes sense,” Mr Nel said in summary.

“She was talking to you – she was standing right in front of the bathroom door talking to you when you shot her [wasn’t she?]”

“No she wasn’t.”

Mr Nel: “She wasn’t scared of any intruder, she was scared of you.”

“It’s not true, my lady,” Mr Pistorius replied in a small voice.

The court has now adjourned until May 5, when the defence will resume, calling about 10 more witnesses.

After that, Judge Thokozile Masipa is likely to adjourn for a further month to enable both sides to make their closing submissions in writing before final argument takes place.

Eating Singapore, Masterchef-style with Audra Morrice

Local knowledge … Audra Morrice at Bugis Markets in Singapore.”Food is the Singapore culture so it’s a good place to start to get to know about the country,” ex-Masterchef contestant Audra Morrice tells me.
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On a recent trip to Singapore the foodie, who grew up in the city-state and now lives in Sydney, showed me her favourite places to eat while introducing me to the place.

One of my first lessons about the country and its food was to not try to label everything into neat packages because they don’t always fit into just one category.

Like Singapore, which is not only a country but a city, its food is also many things.

With so many Asian influences, eaters should forget about putting foods into certain categories, like sweet or savoury, or even breakfast or lunch.

In Singapore, food is served and eaten all day long and can sometimes be a combination of flavours that are not commonly used in European-style cooking.

On a warm afternoon stroll, a stop for a refreshing sweet treat proved this point.

Audra suggested we get an ice kachang or a cendol.

These are two similar desserts with the main ingredients of shaved ice, coconut milk, green jelly noodles, pandan flavouring and palm sugar.

Other topping options include rice, red beans and creamed corn.

It is not only the food that should not be labelled quickly without a second thought; Singapore is a very multicultural city.

As a child growing up in Singapore, when Audra was asked about her background, people expected her to tell them where her dad was from, instead she was always sure to tell them “my mum is Chinese and my father is Indian.”

She is very proud of her heritage, a heritage which has only made her knowledge for food richer.

Singapore’s Little India gives Morrice a chance to immerse herself in the culture she has inherited from her father’s side of the family.

The Indian influence on Singapore started as far back as the 14th Century when the then city of Singapura was a trading post, welcoming vessels from a number of countries including India.

Today almost 10 per cent of the Singaporean population is of Indian origin.

One of Audra’s favourite places to eat in Little India is Madras New Woodlands Restaurant.

A glass case of brightly coloured waxy looking desserts welcomes patrons upon arrival.

I made a quick trip to the hand basin in between ordering and the food arriving on our table; this is necessary because the south Indian vegetarian dishes are served in the traditional way, without any utensils.

Using my hands I got to feel how soft and sponge-like the idlis (little savoury cakes made from ground rice) felt on my fingers.

I was able to tear open the poori and watch the steam come out of the expanded bread before dipping it into the tasty chickpea masala it was served alongside.

On a wander around Little India after lunch there is plenty to see.

There are women sitting around a friend in a small arcade as she gets henna painted onto her skin in a decorative pattern, shops appear to sparkle with all of the shiny bangles on display and the smell of flowers waft from stalls with brightly coloured floral garlands hanging down.

Singapore’s geographic position means it has a very cosmopolitan vibe.

It is nestled between Malaysia and Indonesia with the South China Sea to its north-east and the Indian Ocean to the south-west with its international airport: Changi, acting as a major aviation hub in the area.

Singapore is open to a number of global influences and in a past life was under British rule as a colony of the Crown.

Evidence of this colonial past can be seen in the architecture and the large white, double story buildings with high ceilings dotted throughout different neighbourhoods.

European trends can be seen in some of the city’s dining establishments.

An afternoon stop at Café Symmetry had me thinking back to a recent trip to Berlin and the trendy yet laid back cafes nestled within local neighbourhoods, offering not only a great place for a morning brunch with family but also a good choice for drinks with friends in the late afternoon.

In trendy Ann Siang Road, Lolla provided Mediterranean type dining with tapas style dishes perfect for sharing.

Audra recommended the place after a visit with her husband last time she was in Singapore.

My favourite dish on our visit was the char grilled paprika octopus which was braised and then grilled and served with the kalamansi lime.

I was also happily surprised to enjoy dishes which I had been a little cautious about ordering including a sea urchin pudding and braised beef tripe in a tasty marinade with a crispy edge.

Like almost three quarters of the Singaporean population, Audra’s mother comes from a Chinese background.

Singapore has kept a lot of the Chinese culture including its food.

While there are plenty of Chinese dishes on offer here, there was one dish that was continuously mentioned throughout our trip.

I got to try Hainan chicken rice, the dish Audra tells me is “almost a staple dish” in Singapore at Boon Tong Kee, a restaurant in River Valley.

The restaurant is one of seven in a chain of the local eateries which grew out of humble beginnings in a small stall in Chinatown.

The dish is lightly seasoned boiled chicken, served at room temperature alongside rice cooked in a chicken stock.

Boiling the meat makes the flesh very silky and moist and combining it with the flavoured rice and some chilli sauce, pulls it all together.

It is no flavour sensation but when something simple is done well, it does not have to be anything fancy to be appreciated.

The nearest country to Singapore is Malaysia, where about 13 per cent of Singaporeans are originally from.

At one point Singapore was part of Malaysia and Malay food features prominently on local menus.

A common dish is satay; skewers of grilled meat cooked over charcoals and served alongside peanut sauce, with raw onions and cucumber.

In Singapore, like Penang, Malacca and Indonesia, early Chinese immigrants have inter-married with the local Malays to form a new distinct culture known as Peranakan and referred to by locals as “nonya.”

These people also have their own style of food.

Their creative cuisine infused with delicate flavours uses Malay and Indonesian spices with the ingredients and cooking techniques of the Chinese.

Audra took me to Chin Mee Chin Confectionary to try a peranakan style breakfast of kaya toast.

As I drank my coffee, or ‘kopi’ as the locals call it; sweet coffee made with condensed milk, I was able to watch all the activity in the kitchen at the back of the eating area.

The traditional coffee shop, known locally as a kopi tiam was a long narrow hollowed out space, with tiles on the floor and halfway up the walls.

The staff were busy, trying to get food out as quickly as possible, with people waiting out front for seats to become available.

My kopi was served in a basic white mug and the food being prepared was coming out on orange plastic plates.

Plates of pastries and silver bowls full of boiled eggs in their shells were arriving at other tables before the runny eggs were cracked open and eaten with soy sauce.

When my kaya toast arrived, it looked a little like hot cross buns cut open.

The warm slightly toasted bread was topped with a thick spread made from eggs sugar, coconut milk and pandan preserves- with a dollop of butter on top.

It was a perfect accompaniment to my morning coffee.

While I was not won over by it, a story about Singapore food would not be complete without a mention of the stinky fruit banned on public transport in the country.

If you’ve travelled anywhere in south east Asia you’ve probably seen, or heard of durian, I have no doubt you would have smelled it.

Going by the wretched smell that the fruit gives off you would avoid the stuff (like I had always done) – but you can’t judge it until you try it.

I tried the bitter tasting fruit and later I gave durian puffs a go; all I can say is that I won’t be giving durian a third try.

If I could go back to only one of the places that Audra took me to it would have to be the hawkers markets.

Chinese, Malay, Indian and Peranakan dishes are all available at affordable prices in relaxed settings.

These markets, which are a collection of individual stalls are dotted throughout Singapore and vary in size.

They are usually open air structures with a roof over top and plenty of basic seating.

While hawkers markets might look a little like what we know as a food hall, there are some differences.

Forget the idea of food left in bains-marie, generally dishes served at hawkers stalls are made fresh.

Each stall usually offers only a handful of different dishes that they specialise in.

The markets are more organised than in the past, each stall is even rated for cleanliness on an annual basis by local authorities and labelled with an A, B, C or D accordingly.

With a group of friends, Audra and I headed to Adam Road Hawkers Centre for dinner.

Singaporeans eat many of their meals out and this centre was buzzing with people.

Orders are taken at the individual stalls and some of them deliver the food to your table, others you have to collect the food yourself.

We had satay, a plate of sambal clams, a sambal stingray dish, an Indian migoreng, oyster omelette and rojak which is a fruit and vegetable dish civered in roasted peanuts and spicy fermented prawn paste sauce.

Another dish we ate was carrot cake, despite its name, it is nothing like the carrot cake with cream cheese icing.

The local favourite is made of cubes of steamed rice flour and white radish, fried in egg and garnished with spring onions, seasoned with sweet black sauce or molasses, I could not get enough of this one.

Drinks and a number of dishes to share cost a little more than $S62, about $53, not bad for some of the tastiest food I’ve eaten.

Audra said she spent many late nights eating here with friends when she was in her early 20s and I can see how these rich, flavoursome, savoury dishes could be just the thing to hit the spot after a night out and a few drinks.

When it was time for Audra and I to say our goodbyes I felt more than comfortable to venture out and order for myself.

Like travelling, the more places you go, the more places there are that you want to go, our food journey through Singapore just made me keen to go and try even more food.

Audra put it well, “food is what makes people comfortable, if you know where to go to find food you can explore from there,” she said.

THREE MORE PLACES TO EAT WITH A VIEW

OCEAN RESTUARANT

On Sentosa Island, a place full of attractions including a water park and Universal Studios, the SEA Aquarium offers patrons an underwater eating experience with no towel required. Ocean Restaurant serves its customers dishes created by Singapore’s own Iron Chef in full view of the world’s largest aquarium.

KUDETA

For those who don’t mind tall buildings, Kudeta restaurant provides modern Asian dining on the rooftop of the Marina Bay Sands resort. The resort is made up of three towers 57 floors up.

POLLEN

As part of Singapore’s newest attraction, Gardens by the Bay which is a modern take on botanical gardens, Pollen restuarant serves its customers surrounded by greenery. The restaurant is within the Flower Dome, which replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions.

TRIP NOTES

MORE INFORMATION

yoursingapore爱上海同城论坛m

GETTING THERE

Singapore Airlines has multiple direct daily flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to Singapore with connections to other international destinations including Asia and Europe. See singaporeair爱上海同城论坛m, phone 13 10 11.

GETTING AROUND

Singapore may promote itself by saying “get lost and find the real Singapore” but with the easy-to-use Mass Rapid Transit network, known by locals as the MRT, it would be pretty difficult to get seriously lost.

SEE + DO

The Singapore Tourism Board has launched a Singapore Celebrity Concierge travel service, which will give travellers the chance to get insider tips on the island-city. Audra Morrice, Tetsuya Wakuda, Tom Williams and Antonia Kidman will provide their own insider tips on the island-city. Visit SingaporeCelebrityConcierge爱上海同城论坛m.au