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Wanderers shift focus to A-League

Asian champions Western Sydney Wanderers are determined to turn around their winless A-League season as the fallout continues from their against-the-odds triumph in Riyadh.

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Coach Tony Popovic on Wednesday dismissed Al-Hilal’s call for an investigation into the Asian Champions League final won 1-0 on aggregate by the Wanderers, saying it was of no interest to his club.

The rich Saudi club called on the Asian Football Confederation to look into the refereeing which they claimed cost them six penalties over two legs, suggesting the integrity of the competition and the reputation of the Asian Football Confederation had been tarnished.

Popovic was unfazed, saying the Wanderers were rightful Asian champions.

“When you lose, some teams and some clubs take it differently,” Popovic told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.

“That’s been their approach and it’s of no interest to us.

“We’re not really concerned by their words at the moment. We’re the champions, we’ve earnt that. We played them over two matches, 180 minutes and we were the better team over the two games.”

Popovic was a lot more measured in his response than Wanderers goalkeeping hero Ante Covic, who suggested Al-Hilal look into the post-match melee prompted by alleged headbutting and spitting by their forward Nassir Al-Shamrani.

“If they want to investigate the penalties, maybe they should investigate their own players and their behaviour after the game,” fumed Covic on Fox Sports’ The Back Page.

“For me, that was more disgraceful than anything that happened on the field.

“They’re going to be bitter. They’ve been arrogant from the moment they came to Sydney. They were arrogant in this game (second leg). They believed they should win by default.

“They’re are going to get nothing out of it because for me their behaviour in those two legs and the way they treated us as a club – I’ve got no sympathy for them.”

Popovic was quick to get his travel-weary squad back to training business on Wednesday as they face a trip to Wellington for their A-League clash with the Phoenix on Friday night.

Wanderers captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley said the last-placed Wanderers were was not resting on their ACL laurels.

“We should feel like champions but that’s not getting in the way of winning games in the A-League,” he said.

“We’re not going to get carried away and think that’s gonna get us over the line.

“We’re going to work hard because that’s what got us an Asian Champions League medal.”

Popovic lauded the courage of striker Brendon Santalab who is headed for shoulder surgery on Friday, ruling him out for up to two months, after playing the ACL final match in Riyadh in great pain.

The 32-year-old had dislocated the shoulder in his team’s first leg 1-0 win over Al-Hilal at Parramatta Stadium and he will now miss the side’s Club World Cup campaign in Morocco in December.

“He did a fantastic job for us in the second leg, he’s in excruciating pain,” Popovic said.

“He played nearly 60 minutes for us and we’ll forever be grateful for that and his reward is an Asian Champions League medal.

“Unfortunately, now we’ve got to help him fix his shoulder.”

Noel Pearson has been met with resounding applause in an address listing the achievements of Gough Whitlam.

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Addressing those gathered at the state memorial service in Sydney for the former prime minister, the Cape York indigenous leader commended the Whitlam Government for achievements which changed the face of healthcare, divorce, Indigenous and foreign relations for Australia.   

Citing a Monty Python sketch and referring to the late politician as a Roman, Mr Pearson said the country was changed forever under his three-year leadership.

“The modern, cosmopolitan Australia finally emerged like a technicolour butterfly from its long, dormant chrysalis,” he said.

“… There is no need for nostalgia and yearning for what might have been. The achievements of this old man are present in the institutions we today take for granted.”

His speech was heralded on social media as a speech for the ages.

Noel Pearson’s Whitlam eulogy must surely rank alongside Keating’s Redfern address as one of the best ever Australian speeches.

— john lord (@saint13333) November 5, 2014

I suspect Noel Pearson’s speech might be spoken about for years to come.#9Newscomau

— Mark Burrows (@MarkWBurrows) November 5, 2014

Am I the only person hearing something of the slow, resonating cadences of Dr King as Noel Pearson speaks?

— Dominic Knight (@domknight) November 5, 2014

Doubt I will ever hear a speech as good as Noel Pearson’s today. Sentiment, insight extraordinary, not to mention delivery. #WhitlamMemorial

— Phillipa McGuinness (@pipmcg) November 5, 2014

If Cate Blanchett’s speech today was generousness and gracious, Noel Pearson’s was positively, fist-pumping gospel #WhitlamMemorial #auspol

— comrade jenny (@jennyeather) November 5, 2014

I am absolutely blown away by Noel Pearson. Such power of words. A fitting tribute to Whitlam one of Australia’s finest orators.

— Paul Bongiorno (@PaulBongiorno) November 5, 2014

 

By Daniel Bennett, University of Melbourne

At one level, this seems like an easy question: we think our options through, pick the one we like best and act on it.

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If we dig a little deeper, though, the question becomes more difficult to answer. How do we settle on what our options are? What makes us prefer one option to another?

These decisions may be partially unconscious, according to mounting evidence. This is because, from moment to moment, our brains are set to run on autopilot. Most of the information that our senses pick up is processed automatically; just a fraction of that information ever makes it into our conscious awareness.

This makes our brains efficient, since it means we don鈥檛 have to pay conscious attention to everything at once. But it has the side effect that we can make decisions based on information of which we are not fully aware.

Fully automatic advertising

Advertising provides a good example of this effect. Even if you are not paying attention to the fast-food billboard beside you at the bus stop, your brain may still be processing it outside your conscious awareness.

 

Advertisements might seem like part of the background but our subconscious is always taking notice. The Ximending District in Taipei, Taiwan/Shutterstock

Later on, when you decide to buy take-away food instead of cooking dinner, you might have no idea that the billboard you saw half-an-hour ago prompted your decision.

In a recent study at the University of Melbourne, we investigated this phenomenon. Specifically, we looked at what kind of information our brains automatically extract from the world around us.

To do this, we showed participants a series of pictures in the background of their vision while they performed an unrelated task in the foreground. The pictures were pleasant images of everyday things, such as food and social scenes, or status symbols like money and cars. Meanwhile, we recorded the electrical activity of participants鈥?brains using a technology called electro-encephalography (EEG).

After participants finished the task we showed the pictures again. This time we asked several questions about them. Specifically, we asked participants to think about the images and tell us: (a) how exciting they thought the images were; and (b) whether the images made them think more of the present or of the future.

We then applied a statistical 鈥渄ecoding鈥?technique to the EEG brain activity recorded when people first saw the images, and found that we could predict judgements of both excitement and time reference from brain activity.

Importantly, participants didn鈥檛 know that they would have to make these judgements when they first saw the pictures. This implies that the information about excitement and time reference must have been automatically extracted by the brain.

A little faster than thought

What this tells us is that participants鈥?brains were performing a fast semantic analysis of the images, even though the images weren鈥檛 relevant to the task at hand. What鈥檚 more, participants鈥?brains were extracting highly abstract information, like whether an image related more to the present or to the future.

 

Making judgements about the past and future is high-level thinking, but we can do it unconsciously. Sara/Flickr, CC BY-NC

Taken in context, our results suggest that common-sense ideas about how we make decisions underestimate the importance of processing outside conscious awareness.

Curate your environment

Our laboratory has previously shown that people become more impulsive in simple financial decisions when they are first shown a rewarding 鈥減rime鈥? such as the Apple logo.

This is true even when the prime appears for only a very short time and is not recognisable. That goes to show the surprising power of processing outside conscious awareness.

Our brain鈥檚 automatic processing of the world around us can tilt the playing field, even when we feel we are in full control of our actions. By showing that our brains automatically make abstract judgements about images, our research suggests a possible mechanism by which this decision priming could work.

Even very complex decisions might be more influenced by this mechanism than we realise. We have been speaking so far of 鈥渟imple鈥?decisions, but in principle even decisions with important ramifications, like buying a house or changing jobs, could be affected.

This perspective might seem disconcerting, since it seems to rob us of our sense of control over our decisions. However, this isn鈥檛 entirely true. We may not control what kind of information our brain processes from our environment, but we can control what kinds of environments we put ourselves in.

This explains, for instance, why it鈥檚 a bad idea for somebody trying to quit smoking to surround themselves with people who smoke, and why someone with a gambling problem would be better off not watching TV poker.

Likewise, the more impulsive and risk-seeking you are, the more important it may be to surround yourself with people and environments that prompt you to think of the future. Our brains may be automatic processing engines, but we can control what kind of fuel those engines receive.

Daniel Bennett does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Rudd arrives home to Rio storm

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has flown back to Australia, with pressure mounting on him to intervene over the arrest of an Australian mining executive in China.

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The PM’s plane touched down in Sydney just before 6.30am (AEST) after a week-long trip to Europe where he attended the Major Economies Forum in Italy, met Pope Benedict XVI and discussed Australia’s bid for a soccer World Cup with FIFA boss Sepp Blatter.

He did not talk to waiting media on arrival.

During his absence, the arrest of Rio Tinto executive Hu Stern became public.

Hu, the man in charge of Rio Tinto’s Chinese iron ore operations, has been accused of bribery and undermining China’s economic security.

Fairfax is reporting that Chinese government sources say President Hu Jintao personally endorsed the Ministry of State Security investigation into Rio Tinto that led to the detention of Mr Hu and three staff.

The sources say the inquiry began before Rio Tinto broke off its $24.89 billion investment deal with Chinalco and joined iron ore production forces with BHP Billiton on June 5.

Meanwhile, The Australian says reports have emerged that Rio Tinto was seeking as much as $9 billion in compensation for breach of contracts from Chinese steel mills.

Australian officials in Canberra and Beijing will seek more details from Chinese authorities on Monday about the circumstances of his arrest eight days ago. He’s accused of bribery and undermining China’s economic security.

The opposition says Mr Rudd needs to use his influence with China to secure Mr Hu’s release.

Mark Webber has secured his maiden Formula One victory and Australia’s first since 1981, leading team-mate Sebastian Vettel home in a triumphant one-two for the Red Bull team at the German Grand Prix.

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Webber, in his 130th F1 race after eight years in the sport, started from his first pole position and overcame a drive-through penalty for a first lap collision on his way to a spectacular win at the circuit in the Eifel mountains.

The 32-year-old driver from Queanbeyan, in NSW, came home 9.3 seconds clear of Vettel as he raced to a victory that threw the fight for the world championship wide open.

Webber is third in the title race with 45.5 points behind leader Briton Jenson Button on 68 points and Vettel on 47. Brazilian Rubens Barrichello has 44 points and is fourth.

“It’s incredible,” he said. “I wanted to win so badly after Silverstone. The only thing I thought could beat me was the rain. I lost Rubens completely off the start and banged into him.

“It’s not normally my style, so I had to take a drive-through and recover from that. It’s a great day for me. It was a difficult winter, but I had great people around me and I thank them all.”

Vettel said: “Mark was unbeatable. I’m very happy with the result. It was quite a good recovery from quite a bad start.”

The two Red Bulls finished first and second ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa of Brazil, who grabbed his first podium finish of the year, with German Nico Rosberg fourth for Williams.

Button battled through to finish fifth ahead of team-mate Barrichello, the Brawn pair resisting a late charge from two-times world champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Renault.

Finn Heikki Kovalainen came home eighth for McLaren Mercedes.

Defending world champion Briton Lewis Hamilton finished 18th and last after a hot-headed attack on the opening lap saw him involved in a collision with Webber’s Red Bull that cost him a puncture.

Webber bashed into Barrichello’s car on the run from the start to the first corner, a collision for which he was punished with his drive-through penalty, but he overcame that with a dazzling drive to victory.

Barrichello, who led at the end of the first lap, could not believe that his team tactics cost him not only a victory, but a podium position. Asked what went wrong, he said: “I guess the strategy … it was a good show from the team on how to lose a race today.

“I’m terribly upset with the way things went. I did all I had to do. I went first on the first corner and then they made me lose the race. If it is really what’s going on, we’re going to end up losing both championships.

“I feel sorry for myself, the team. To be very honest, I wish I could get on the plane and go home. I don’t want to talk to anyone in the team. It will be all ‘blah, blah, bla,’ and I don’t want to hear that.”

Watched by his father Alan, a motor cycle dealer in Australia, Webber romped to a triumph that ended Australia’s long wait for another winner since Alan Jones won at Las Vegas in the 1981 United States Grand Prix.

As he completed his final lap, Webber screamed with joy: “Yeah, yeh, yeh.” he screeched aloud. “Oh yes. You beauty! Yes.” And his team-boss Christian Horner said: “Mark Webber – you are a Grand Prix winner. Well done. You did it.”

On a much warmer day, under a cloudy sky, the race started with high drama when Webber, from his first pole position, was marginally slower off the line than Barrichello and steered to his right to bump cars and push the Brazilian towards the barriers.

It was a solid knock, but not enough to slow the Brawn car which pulled away to lead into the first corner ahead of the Australian while another spectacular incident saw Hamilton flying off the track.

The defending champion, from fifth, applied his KERS to pass almost everyone into the Castrol S curve, but out-braked himself in a vain attack to stay on the circuit. In the process, he collided with part of the left-front wing of Webber’s Red Bull and picked up a right rear puncture.

This impetuosity, in effect, ended Hamilton’s race as he was forced back to the pits, from 20th and last, for new rubber – swapping his super-softs for a harder compound.

Australian Michael Rogers appeared more optimistic of continuing the Tour de France after managing to stay with the main peloton throughout the third and final day in the Pyrenees on Sunday.

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Rogers said before the ninth stage that his chances of continuing the race looked “grim” following a crash on Thursday which has left him with a swollen disc in his back.

In-depth: Tour news, pictures, blogs

But after finishing with the main bunch 34secs adrift of stage winner Pierrick Fedrigo on Sunday, he said: “That was much better than I thought it was going to be. I’m feeling a little bit more optimistic now.”

Rogers’ hopes for a top ten overall finish in this year’s race, his first since crashing out of the 2007 edition while in the virtual yellow jersey, dimmed when he crashed on the rain-hit sixth stage.

Since then his swollen disc injury has left him struggling to produce any power, let alone produce the high intensity needed to keep pace with the yellow jersey favourites.

On Saturday’s stage in the Pyrenees he immediately struggled on the climb out of Andorra, eventually finishing 23 minutes behind stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez and 22 minutes adrift of the main bunch.

When asked before the start of Sunday’s stage if he was optimistic of resuming the race on Tuesday (after the rest day), he replied: “It’s looking a bit grim at the moment.

“The legs are fine but it’s pretty hard just trying to push on the pedals.

“I had two hours with the physio last night to try and relieve the stiffness and a bit more this morning but it’s still pretty stiff.”

Rogers is set to continue intense sessions of physiotherapy on Monday’s rest day.

The race resumes with an undulating 194.5km 10th stage from Limoges to Issoudun on Tuesday.

Italian Rinaldo Nocentini retained the Tour de France yellow jersey on Sunday as Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo won the race’s ninth stage held over 160.

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5km from Saint Gaudens to here.

Fedrigo, who rides for the Bbox-Bouygues team, handed the hosts their third stage victory from this year’s race after outsprinting breakaway companion Franco Pellizotti at the finish line.

It was Fedrigo’s second stage win on the race after his victory at Gap in 2006, and the hosts’ third after teammate Thomas Voeckler’s win on stage five and Agritubel’s Brice Feillu win on the mountainous seventh stage.

Fedrigo admitted he had been wise enough to study the technical finish to the stage.

“Thankfully I had a look at the stage finish so I knew there was a bend not far from the finish. Once he attacked I made sure I jumped on his wheel, especially as there was a bit of a headwind,” said Fedrigo.

The main peloton containing all the race favourites came over the finish line 34secs later having failed to close the gap to the leading pair on the 70.1km descent leading from the summit of the Col du Tourmalet to Tarbes.

On the third and final day in the Pyrenees and before Monday’s rest day, a truce appeared to replace the yellow jersey battle allowing Nocentini to keep his 6 seconds lead on Spain’s 2007 champion Alberto Contador.

Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong, Contador’s Astana teammate, is still in third place overall at 8 seconds in arrears.

“It was pretty controlled, although it’s never easy, it’s long, it was very hot,” said Armstrong when asked to compare this year’s climb of the Tourmalet, the 76th in 96 editions, to previous attempts.

“The tempo was pretty regular as no one really attacked, we just kind of rode our race.

“I have felt a lot more pain on the Tourmalet, 2003 was painful.”

Liquigas all-rounder Pellizotti had prompted their initial break when an acceleration by the Italian around 10km from the summit of the Tourmalet shook off Jens Voigt of Saxo Bank.

From then on Fedrigo and Pellizotti collaborated to distance the main group, which came over the summit with a deficit of 5min 10sec.

“I knew that if we went over the summit (of the Col du Tourmalet) with only four or five minutes we’d find it hard to go all the way,” said Fedrigo.

The whole descent there were adverse wind conditions so we really had to go for it and work together to keep our lead.”

Armstrong’s Astana team then moved to the front early on the descent, with Nocentini sticking on the American’s wheel, before a more organised chase was established on the declining run in to the finish.

Leading the chase was the Caisse d’Epargne team of Luis Leon Sanchez and the Columbia team of Mark Cavendish, but their efforts only succeeded in reeling in some earlier escapees.

Nocentini and his AG2R team had suffered trying to defend his yellow jersey on Saturday, but a day later they were given some respite.

“It was an easier day than yesterday,” said the Italian, who is not considered a contender for overall victory.

“The team still did a great job to keep me in the lead and for that I have to say thanks.”

In the closing kilometres there was a drama for Saxo Bank’s main yellow jersey contender Andy Schleck when he suffered a puncture.

But a quick change of wheel and the Luxemburger, waited on by two teammates, charged back to the main chasing bunch to avoid losing time. Schleck, expected to move up a gear in the Alps next week, is still ninth overall at 1:49.

Pellizotti meanwhile came away with the largely symbolic prize for the stage’s most combative rider.

And the Italian admitted that on the day he was beat by the better sprinter.

“We worked well together on the climb and on the descent to keep our advantage on the bunch,” said Pellizotti.

“Fedrigo is a stronger sprinter than me – all I could do was give it everything I had.”

England tailenders James Anderson and Monty Panesar have thwarted Australia in holding out for a heart-stopping draw in the first Ashes Test in Cardiff.

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Led by Paul Collingwood’s (74) knock of nearly six hours, every shot by Anderson and Panesar in the dying overs was greeted with enormous cheers from the Sophia Gardens crowd.

The 2005 edition of the Ashes included thrilling finishes in three of the matches and this year’s series has started off in equally dramatic fashion.

Panesar and Anderson survived the last 69 balls of the day and scored 19 runs in 40 minutes as England finished at 9-252 in their second innings after needing to score 239 at the start of the day to make Australia bat again.

The second Test starts at Lord’s on Thursday.

Anderson (21no) squeezed Peter Siddle for two boundaries in the seventh last over of play to ensure Australia had to bat again to the raptures of the crowd.

Then in the fourth last over, Panesar cut the ball for four off a Nathan Hauritz misfield and the game looked as good as saved.

But the appearance of England physiotherapist for no apparent reason in the final overs seemed to only add to skipper Ricky Ponting’s frustration.

In the end, Anderson and Panesar dealt with the last five nail-biting overs of spin from Hauritz (3-63) and Marcus North to the delight of the home fans who celebrated like it was a victory.

Australia had looked like they would wrap up proceedings fairly early in the day after having England at 5-102 at lunch.

But after the break, Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff (26) dug in with the pair lasting an hour and a half in all before Mitchell Johnson parted them by having the big allrounder caught in slips.

Stuart Broad (14) frustrated the opposition team for an hour and made Siddle angry enough to brush his shoulder against the left-hander as their paths crossed on the side of the pitch.

But Hauritz had a ball sneak through Broad’s defences and England again looked shot at 7-159.

But the home side showed real fight.

Siddle went in for the kill by peppering No.9 Graeme Swann (31) with short balls just before the tea break.

In an over that took ten minutes to complete, Siddle struck Swann three times and the batsman needed two trips out from the team physiotherapist.

Swann survived the assault either side of the break and the new ball at 7-200 was cheered out onto the ground by the Australian fans and introduced with 25 overs to go.

The tailender and Collingwood put on 62 runs in 81 minutes to bat England within sight of safety until Swann was trapped in front by Ben Hilfenhaus after attempting to pull a ball that was clearly too full for the shot.

Ponting’s pumping of the fists summed up Australia’s joy at the breakthrough.

With the tension mounting as the overs ticked by and England nearing the total to make Australia bat again, Collingwood almost ran himself out.

Backing up too far, he dived for his crease and a direct hit from Hauritz from point would have dismissed him.

With 12 overs remaining and England still needing six runs to make the tourists bat again, Collingwood’s defiant knock came to an end when he flashed at a Siddle ball that Mike Hussey caught at the second bite at gully.

The No.5’s head immediately fell in disbelief and he stood at his crease, shattered that he hadn’t finished off the job.

Fortunately for him, his teammates were up to the task.

Dollar opens weaker amid US outlook

The Australian dollar has opened slightly weaker as worries about a rebound in the US economy hampered demand for commodity-based currencies.

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At 0700 AEST, the Australian dollar was trading at $US0.7786/91, down from Friday’s close of $US0.7795/98.

During the offshore session, the local currency moved between $US0.7739 and $US0.7805.

Wall Street closed lower as investors remained wary of a rebound in the US economy ahead of the release of corporate earnings for the second quarter of 2009 this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.45 per cent and the broad market Standard & Poor’s 500 index was 0.4 per cent lower.

It was the fourth consecutive week the Dow Jones and Standard & Poor’s 500 indexes closed lower.

Commonwealth Bank vice-president of institutional banking and markets, Tim Kelleher, said the Australian dollar had had a negative session during Friday’s offshore trade on concerns about the health of US companies and a recovery in the American economy.

“We are coming up to US corporate earnings coming out,” Mr Kelleher said from Auckland.

“Chevron came out with a (downbeat) forecast on Friday, and oil is back to $US60 a barrel.

“I would imagine the corporate earnings reports to be disappointing.”

Shares in Chevron fell 2.66 per cent after the oil company said it expected revenue for the second quarter to be weaker than in the first quarter.

Oil prices fell on more worries about the US economy.

Crude oil futures for August delivery fell 52 US cents to close at $US59.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday.

The detention of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu by Chinese authorities also has weakened the Australian dollar, Mr Kelleher said.

Mr Hu is accused — although not yet charged — of bribery and undermining China’s economic security.

China is Australia’s second largest export destination by value.

“The Aussie dollar has this Rio-China stoush hanging over it,” Mr Kelleher said.

“It was one of the reasons why it was weak last week.”

Economic data due locally on Monday includes lending finance for May from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Mr Kelleher expects the Australian dollar to be on the back-foot during Monday’s local session, trading between $US0.7750 and $US0.7825.

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has accused England of not playing in the spirit of the game in a fiery aftermath to a heart-stopping draw in the opening Ashes Test.

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The drama came on an an ill-tempered final day in Cardiff that climaxed when the last-wicket pairing of James Anderson (21no) and Monty Panesar (7no) batted out the final 69 balls of the contest.

The home side ended the day on 9-252 in their second innings, having needed to score 239 on the last day to make Australia bat again at Sophia Gardens.

Ponting was fuming over England sending out 12th man Bilal Shafayat and physiotherapist Steve McCaig with three overs to play for what appeared to be no other reason than to waste time.

Anderson changed his gloves but Ponting didn’t believe there was any need.

“I don’t think it was required, he changed it the over before, I don’t think they’d be too sweaty in one over,” he said.

“I’m not sure what the physio was doing out there, I didn’t see anyone call for the physio to come out. As far as I’m concerned, it was pretty ordinary really.

“But they can play whatever way they want to play.

“We came to play by the rules and the spirit of the game, it’s up to them to do what they want to do.”

Ponting expressed his frustrations on the field to Shafayat and McCaig and expected authorities to take up the matter.

“I won’t be saying anything about it,” he said.

“I don’t think we need to. It was a big enough incident on the field. Someone will say something.”

England skipper Andrew Strauss defended his side’s actions in the nail-biting end to the day.

“There was a lot of confusion to be fair. We sent the 12th man out to let Jimmy and Monty know the fact there was time left, rather than the (number of) overs,” he said.

“Then there were drinks spilt on his gloves and Jimmy called to the dressing room and we weren’t sure whether Jimmy wanted the 12th man or the physio, just a lot of confusion.”

It was just one of many moments in an emotion-filled final day that ignited before a ball had been bowled when Mitchell Johnson and Kevin Pietersen had a heated exchange while preparing for the day’s play on the field.

“It was just a few guys on the ground taking each other’s space,” Ponting said.

“Mitchell was trying to bowl and Kevin was hitting some tennis balls towards him. That’s where it started to get a bit messy.

“They had a few words after that, there was Test cricket to play from there on.”

Back on the field, things became feisty as well during the day’s play.

In one brutal over that took 10 minutes to complete just before tea, Graeme Swann (31) needed two separate trips from the now famous McCaig after being pinged on the finger and just above the elbow.

Swann kept at it and was more than prepared to respond in kind to Siddle’s verbals during the ferocious spell.

Siddle also had a clash with Stuart Broad, after they earlier bumped shoulders after the left-hander had squeezed a shot to the vacant third man boundary.

They then again rubbed shoulders as they both turned around to take up their respective positions.

Ponting said umpire Billy Doctrove had spoken to both players at the end of the game.

“He (Doctrove) said there might have been some contact there,” Ponting said.

“He handled it and got on top of it pretty quickly.

“I haven’t seen it yet, I haven’t spoken to Peter about it but I’ll do it tonight.”

Australia’s Mark Webber was overcome by emotion after securing his first Formula One win at the 130th attempt Sunday when he triumphed in the German Grand Prix.

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The 32-year-old Red Bull driver said his victory was “incredible”.

Webber overcame a drive-through penalty after a first lap contact with Brawn’s Rubens Barrichello on his way to a storming and memorable win, the first by an Australian since Alan Jones won in Las Vegas in 1981.

He came home ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the team’s second successive one-two, the local hero later declaring that Webber was unbeatable on the day.

“It’s an incredible day for me,” said Webber. “I wanted to win so badly after Silverstone. I thought I had a good chance there.

“After pole I knew I was in a good position to win the race, I thought the only thing that could beat me or test me even more was the rain, but that held off.”

Webber’s win came after a long and difficult close season after he broke his leg and a shoulder in a cycling accident.

“I lost Rubens off the start, I thought he had gone to the left, but he went right and I banged into him. I had a drive-through and my engineer kept me calm,” said Webber.

“It was a difficult winter. Sebastian showed in winter testing what the car could do, so I kept my motivation high and I was hurting a lot. The team had patience with me – so did everyone in Australia.

“There were a few people who doubted me, too, so hello’ to them as well. So thank you to everyone who helped me here.”

Watched by his father Alan, from Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Webber, grabbed his maiden pole position on Saturday and was full of confidence before he bungled his start.

“I knew my start was not absolutely fantastic,” he said. “I moved across a little bit and as soon as I hit him I was surprised. I also clipped Lewis (Hamilton) but, with these KERS cars charging and the way the mirrors are set up, everyone is in a similar situation. It is not easy.

“It was a difficult run to the first corner but everyone got away okay in the end.”

Webber’s dazzling drive and victory lifted him to third in the drivers’ standings, 22.5 points behind leader Jenson Button of Brawn GP and 1.5 behind Vettel.

The tall Australian said he now believed that, despite the gap to Button, the championship fight has now been thrown wide open again.

He said: “They are both still up for grabs. Brawn are leading the constructors’, which they deserve to be, but we are not giving up, pushing as hard as we can to be consistent.

“The biggest problem at the factory is building a trophy cabinet, the hard work is being paid off. We love fighting against teams like Ferrari and McLaren, so to take the fight to the big boys is a big credit for us.”

While Webber enjoyed his long overdue celebrations in company with nearly everyone in the paddock where he is a popular figure known for his plain-speaking style, Vettel said he deserved his win.

The 22-year-old German said: “Congratulations to him. Today he was unbeatable so he totally deserved to win. Another one-two finish for the team – that’s so good.”

In a dry, dusty paddock thousands of miles from Mission Control, a group of Australian astronomers were the first people in the world to witness a giant leap for mankind.

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It was 12 minutes past 11 am when Apollo 11 appeared over Dead Man’s Hill, just outside the Australian capital, Canberra, and engineer Hamish Lindsay was waiting with bated breath.

“I’d had six years’ preparation for all this, this was the moment I had been trained for,” Lindsay told AFP.

“I must admit if I stopped and thought about it, which I did a couple of times, I would get goosebumps at what was going to happen.”

Now 72, Lindsay was in the operations room at the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station, one of three radio telescopes in Australia involved in the Apollo 11 mission.

And thanks to Neil Armstrong’s decision to attempt the moon walk early, he was among the first in the world to witness man’s first steps on the lunar surface.

“When it was said that there had to be a rest period after they got down on the moon, that meant it would all be over by the time we could see it,” explained David Cooke, who was manning the 64-metre dish at Parkes, some 400 kilometres to the north.

“But then Armstrong said ‘What are you talking about, we don’t want a rest,’ and it meant at that very moment he was about to come down on the moon his signal was just coming down over our horizon.”

Neil “Fox” Mason was behind the controls of the Parkes telescope, manually directing the antenna to receive Apollo’s telemetry and other data for a very tense five hours, as unseasonable winds threatened to push the signal off course.

“It was blowing (up to) 110 kilometres (68 miles) an hour, a lot more than we would normally observe under, you could feel it going at the walls,” Mason said.

Racing to get the dish in position at a painstaking 15 degrees an hour, Parkes missed the first few minutes of the television signal, leaving it to Honeysuckle to beam Armstrong’s descent and first steps to the world, Lindsay said.

“I’m still living those moments even now, 40 years later. It was a real thrill to be involved with something like that.”

“We were making phenomenal history, to go off into space and throw yourself at the mercy of whatever’s out there, we didn’t know what was going to happen,” he added.

Lindsay said the entire moon mission was a fantastically complex undertaking.

“Your maths had to be dead right, one decimal point out of place and it was curtains for the astronauts, everything was so critical.”

Up in Parkes, Mason and Cooke were elated.

“There was a picture on a little green TV screen and the time came for Armstrong to get down on the surface, and one of the American operators who’d probably been working on this kind of stuff for years and years just looked at it and said ‘How about that’,” Cooke said.

“I can’t remember any cheers, but I was pretty pleased about it all.”

A proud John Saxon, operations supervisor at Honeysuckle, joked that he noted the exact second Armstrong set foot on the moon in his log “because we had a sweepstake going and I didn’t want to upset anyone by getting the wrong time.”

“There were no high fives or backslaps or handshakes or anything because you’re concentrating, you’ve got to finish the mission,” Saxon said.

“But all that said, you can walk outside and take a quick breath and look up and say ‘Gosh, there’s men up there, and we’re having something to do with it’.”

All four men said it was a moment that changed history, bringing together a fractured world by capturing the public’s imagination with dreams of the impossible.

“400,000 people achieved the impossible in eight years by working together,” said Lindsay.

“To me, that’s the message from Apollo.”

With one small step off a ladder, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, before the eyes of hundreds of millions of awed television viewers worldwide.

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With that step, he placed mankind’s first footprint on an extraterrestrial world and gained instant hero status.

His first words upon stepping on the lunar surface have since been etched in history: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Watched by millions

An estimated 500 million people watched the grainy black and white broadcast that showed Armstrong, clad in a white space suit, climb down the lunar lander’s ladder onto the moon’s desolate surface.

As commander of the Apollo 11 mission, it was also Armstrong who had notified mission control that the module had made a successful landing. “Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Joined by fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Armstrong spent about two and a half hours exploring the landscape around the landing site.

Surface ‘like charcoal’

He described the surface as being like powdered charcoal. “I can pick it up loosely with my toe,” he said.

Armstrong and Aldrin gracefully bounced in slow-motion despite their clumsy space suits, getting a first feel for the moon’s gravity, which is one sixth that of Earth.

The two moonwalkers took photographs, collected rock and soil samples and deployed scientific instruments.

They also planted a US flag and placed a plaque stating: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. We came in peace for all mankind.”

The astronauts returned to Earth on July 24, ending the celebrated Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong’s second and last venture into space.

In September 1966, Armstrong had flown with David Scott on the Gemini 8 mission that linked up with the unmanned Agena Target Vehicle in the first ever docking of two spacecraft.

Early experience in airports

Born in Wapakoneta, Ohio on August 5, 1930, Armstrong had an early fascination with aircraft and worked at a nearby airport when he was a teenager.

He took flying lessons at the age of 15 and received his pilot’s license on his 16th birthday.

A US Navy aviator, he flew 78 missions in the Korean War.

Engineering student

He studied Aeronautical Engineering at Purdue University in Indiana, and later earned a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southern California.

In 1955, he became a test pilot at the High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base in California, where he flew about 50 different types of aircraft.

Seven years later, Armstrong was selected by the National Air and Space Administration to train as an astronaut in Houston, Texas.

Taught after retirement

After retiring from NASA in 1971, Armstrong taught aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati for nearly a decade and served on the boards of several companies, including Lear Jet, United Airlines and Marathon Oil.

Despite his worldwide fame, the lunar pioneer shied away from the limelight.

In a rare interview, Armstrong told the CBS network in 2005, he didn’t deserve the attention he received for being the first man on the moon. “I wasn’t chosen to be first. I was just chosen to command that flight. Circumstance put me in that particular role.”

Controversy over first words

Armstrong faced his share of controversy. For decades he was thought to have flubbed the first words spoken by man on the moon, by dropping the “a” in speaking of a small step “for man.”

But 37 years after the lunar landing, an Australian expert said a high-tech analysis of the static-ridden transmission from the moon found the missing adjective, and said he should restore the dramatic phrase to the grammatically correct “That’s a small step of a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The iconic space explorer also denied claims by conspiracy theorists that the lunar landing was a giant hoax or that he became a Muslim after hearing the Islamic call to prayer on the moon.