Bravo spares Windies worse 1st Test pain

The hapless West Indies somehow found a new tour low against Australia in Hobart on Friday before villain-turned-hero Darren Bravo salvaged a measure of first Test respect.


Before some stubborn resistance from the stylish left-hander, Windies captain Jason Holder had been left ruing a disastrous option not to challenge a lbw ruling which left the visitors reeling at 6-116 in response to Australia’s 4(dec)-583.

Holder’s decision was based on lousy advice from Bravo at the other end. To his credit, however, Bravo (94no) then set about rectifying his misjudged call, guiding the Windies to 6-207 by stumps on a rain-hit day two.

They still trail Australia by 376 runs.

While impressive, Bravo paled in comparison to Australia’s heroes Adam Voges and Shaun Marsh.

Their mighty fourth-wicket Test record stand of 449 finally ended just before lunch.

Marsh (182) and Voges (269no) also amassed the second-highest Test partnership for Australia, the biggest on home soil and sixth largest overall.

The Windies’ dire tour to date was summed up by Holder’s unfortunate dismissal for 15.

Given lbw by umpire Marais Erasmus off Peter Siddle, he opted not to review after consulting a sceptical Bravo who had arguably the best seat in the house at the non-striker’s end.

Holder then walked despite the two-metre tall allrounder being hit on the pads high and was the last of the recognised batsmen.

Ball-tracking technology showed the ball would have comfortably bounced over the top of the stumps on big screens as Holder trudged off.

He appeared to baulk at a challenge after Kraigg Brathwaite’s unsuccessful review when the opener was trapped in front by Josh Hazlewood (2-43) for two.

“That sums up how the Windies have done,” Nine Network commentator Shane Warne said of Holder’s call.

Bravo sparked a fightback in an unbroken 91-run seventh-wicket stand with tailender Kemar Roach (31no).

“For what he saw, he thought he (Holder) was out,” Roach said of Bravo’s call.

“We moved on. Hopefully, he (Bravo) can come out and score big for us.”

At least Bravo enjoyed a rare piece of luck.

He had a life on 74 when his nick off Hazlewood sailed between Voges and Steve Smith in the slips.

Offspinner Nathan Lyon (3-43) blamed “black spots” around the ground for Voges losing sight of the nick but did not want to make excuses.

“It should have been taken,” Lyon said.

“It’s not the Australian standard.”

Lyon celebrated his 50th Test with quick wickets – including two in five balls – to leave the Windies reeling at 4-81 by tea.

But that was not the only milestone celebrated on Friday – not by a long shot considering the efforts of Marsh and Voges.

Voges’ knock, peppered with 33 fours, was the highest Test score against the Windies and 10th biggest overall by an Australian.

He also set a new Hobart Test highest score, overtaking Ricky Ponting’s 209 against Pakistan in 2010.

It was the third Test tons for both Marsh and Voges and Marsh’s first on home soil.

The Windies will learn on Saturday whether they have to send injured paceman Shannon Gabriel home.

Despite arriving at the ground on Friday on crutches, he has been cleared of an ankle fracture but will take no further part in the Hobart Test.

Formula E could develop driverless element, says Agag

Sounds like science fiction? Not for Alejandro Agag, the chief executive of the Formula E electric series whose latest brainchild is an entirely driverless championship to be known as ‘Roborace’.


If the Spaniard concedes that robot racing is not sport as the world knows it, he believes the technology could also find a home in more conventional competition — and maybe not in the too distant future.

“Maybe…(Formula E) cars could drive themselves to the starting grid and the drivers can just walk and do interviews on the way,” Agag told Reuters when asked about potential crossover between Roborace and his main series.

“I think that is a transfer we could organise quite soon, actually,” he added.

“I kind of just came up with it but…the cars could just go and place themselves on the grid and then we start the race. This is the kind of technology every car will have in the future,” he added.

Agag, an entrepreneur whose office in Hammersmith, West London, overlooks a particularly traffic-choked part of the capital, is a big fan of ‘disruptive’ technology that changes the existing order.

He also likes to think out loud, the conversation free-wheeling from the dawn of classical civilisation to the realms of science fiction, but his series has pushed boundaries from the start.

The ‘Roborace’ concept was conceived less than two months ago when Agag flew back from Beijing with Denis Sverdlov, founder of investment fund Kinetik.

It was unveiled last month as a proposed support package for Formula E’s 2016-17 season, with 10 teams each fielding two identical all-electric cars in hour-long races.

Every ‘car’ will have a name, so that fans — and particularly gamers — can engage even without the human element.

For those who say robot racing is a long way from sport, Agag can only concur.

“This is a competition of technology which is not necessarily motorsport or sport at all. Sport is Formula E. Driverless racing is probably not sport,” he said.

“People will always want to see drivers racing. Driverless is never the end of motorsport. Motorsport will always be there. From the Roman times, or before, we’ve been watching humans racing each other.”


Driverless technology is, however, a major focus for manufacturers and others such as Google and Apple.

“Formula E wants to be where the industry is going. This is one of the places where the industry is going and we want to add value to the industry,” said Agag.

The Spaniard recognised, however, that the technology was still only 90 percent complete.

“I think we can have a prototype ready in September (2016), so we will do testing…in October, November and December and then start producing in January and you can have 10 or 20 cars by end of March and do the first race in April (2017),” he said.

“This car is more or less going to be like a skateboard. So you have a flat battery in the floor, four motors – one on each wheel – and that’s it.

“It may not look like a car. But cars of the future may not look like cars. Or the cars today won’t look like cars of the future,” he added.

The driverless cars will be truly autonomous, reacting to rivals through sensors and guided by radar or satellite positioning. Once out of the garage, they are on their own.

Agag said tests conducted by Audi, who compete in Formula E, had shown already that driverless cars could be a match for anything driven.

“The driverless car, one car on its own, now can go faster than any driver because it takes the corners exactly at the maximum limit and calculates with the computer,” he said.

“When you have another 10 cars, you crash. Because you don’t know where the other cars are. So the difficulty here is to create a system that can recognise where the other cars are and beat them, overtake and so on.

“It’s going to take time,” said Agag. “Probably in the first race a lot of cars will crash against each other.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Jakarta signals more open cattle policy

Indonesia’s agriculture minister isn’t ready to reveal how many Australian cattle he wants next year, but has announced a policy shift away from self-sufficiency.


Indonesian media reports earlier this week suggested the ministry would move from quarterly to annual permits and was eyeing up to 700,000 head in 2016.

Amran Sulaiman on Friday said the numbers were still under discussion.

But he wants to overhaul Indonesia’s policy on beef, saying he will change the decades-old market structure “starting now”.

“This is not about self sufficiency, it’s about increasing productivity,” he told reporters in Jakarta.

“But if we reach self-sufficiency, then thanks to God.

“Increased productivity is in line with self sufficiency however, but that’s political language.

“We are professional, practical.”

President Joko Widodo is targeting food self-sufficiency within four years, however in the past Indonesia has fallen short of its aims on this.

Earlier this year it slashed cattle imports in the name of self-sufficiency with a disastrous effect on Indonesian consumers.

The minister responsible was replaced by the new Trade Minister Tom Lembong, who has promised less protectionist policy.

Mr Sulaiman says he’s still aiming for self sufficiency in rice, corn and soybeans.

The new aim for beef is “productivity”, he stressed.

“If we bring in (import) cattle for breeding, it’s like we’re purchasing a factory,” he said.

“This is what we’re buying. A cattle factory, to increase the population.

“This is for the people, distributed to the people.”

The imported stock could be fattened to 700kg within two years, compared with 70kg with domestic herds, he said.

The minister is targeting a market beef price of Rp75,000 per kilo ($7.50). It is now about Rp100,000-120,000/kg.

Australian cattle producers, who have long argued for an annual quota system to remove fluctuations in demand between quarters, are eagerly awaiting Jakarta’s 2016 numbers.

Australia joins Paris climate coalition

As negotiations on a global climate change deal drag out to their final stages in Paris, Australia has joined an alliance of 100 countries dubbed the “high ambition coalition”.


The group, spearheaded by the Marshall Islands, calls for a strong deal at the United Nations climate change conference, with several non-negotiable demands.

It bridges the historical divide between rich and poor and large and small countries, and calls for ambitious global warming goals and five-yearly reviews of country efforts to slash emissions.

Seemingly unaware of the coalition shortly after it was revealed, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told media she’d have to check if Australia had scored an invite.

It hadn’t, however the alliance extended an open invitation to all countries on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Ms Bishop confirmed on Friday Australia had now been invited by the European Union and had accepted.

Canada, which has been criticised alongside Australia for a lack of climate action in recent years, joined a day earlier.

Both countries have recently installed new prime ministers.

Michael Jacobs, who was special advisor to former UK prime minister Gordon Brown, believes the coalition could be a significant force in the negotiations.

Whether it was a game-changer would be seen once a deal was signed, he told AAP.

Australia had held out on joining the coalition despite supporting its intentions, saying it was focusing its attention elsewhere.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop chairs the non-European Union negotiating group of developed countries and has been holding meetings on its behalf.

When revealing the coalition, Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum said its four demands were a “single package” and the group would not be trading one off for another.

In the latest iteration of the text, released on Thursday night, many of their demands were met, including an aspirational goal to limit global warming below the previously agreed two degrees.

The text is still being negotiated however, and as conference president Laurent Fabius declared earlier in the week: “Nothing is agreed until everything is”.


* Reference to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees (is in the text)

* Clear path towards a low carbon future (emissions neutrality by second half of century in text)

* Five-yearly updates (is in the text)

* Strong package of financial support for developing nations ($100 billion per year plus scale up after 2020 is an option in the text – could be removed)

Brazil police to question Lula

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been called in for questioning next week by Brazil’s federal police in a bribery investigation involving his son Luis Claudio, according to a summons document seen by Reuters.


Lula is not under investigation but will be questioned about the case in which police suspect a 2.5 million-real ($A886,266) payment to one of his son’s companies could have been a bribe to influence passage of legislation favouring car industry companies.

The summons dated December 1 and instructs Lula to appear at police headquarters next Thursday to “provide clarifications.” The summons was provided to Reuters on Friday by a source close to the investigation.

Police raided the offices of a company owned by his son on October 26 as part of the bribery investigation that threatens to drag his family into yet another scandal.

Police said at the time that evidence of bribery, extortion and influence trafficking prompted the raid.

Lula’s law firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The former president is himself under investigation for influence-trafficking after he left office in 2010 as Brazil’s most popular president.

His reputation has been tarnished by a massive kickback scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras that has landed the treasurer of his Workers’ Party in jail and led to the investigation of dozens of his political allies.

On Wednesday, a judge authorised a police request to break bank and tax secrecy for Luis Claudio’s company LFT Marketing Esportivo, and a former Lula cabinet minister, Gilberto Carvalho.