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Clarke reigns supreme again

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HEROES & GOATS: The Aussie skipper etches his name in the record books and gets help from Mr Cricket, but the NRL lose touch with their fans and players…


Michael Clarke

The Australian captain wrote his name into the history books with a sensational 230 from just 257 balls in the first innings. He achieved a feat that even the great Sir Donald Bradman couldn't boast – as the first man in Test history to score four double centuries in a calendar year. Remarkably, 224 of Clarke's runs were scored on the first day. What was also impressive about Clarke's performance was the match situation when he arrived at the crease. The Aussies were struggling at 3/55, having lost Ed Cowan, Rob Quiney and Ricky Ponting in quick succession. Clarke's innings firstly helped Australia avoid a low total, and secondly was the catalyst to a mammoth total of 550.

Michael Hussey

Hussey backed up his hundred in Brisbane with another three-figure score in the first innings in Adelaide, and a half-century in the second innings. Mr Cricket played a brilliant supporting role to Clarke. The pair put on 272 for the fifth wicket and in doing so, ensured the best outcome South Africa could achieve in this Test was a draw. The flood of runs couldn't have come at a better time for Hussey. The other 37-year-old in the Australian team, Ponting, is struggling to find form, and it is widely thought that the pair can't both be carried on Australia's Ashes tour next year. Hussey now looks a certainty to go to England, but Ponting is unlikely to join him.

Abul Hasan

Abul Hasan lived out the dream of many a Bangladeshi youngster with a Test ton on debut against the West Indies earlier this week. But what makes his knock truly hero-worthy is that Abul, a paceman by trade, was batting at No.10. The 20-year-old is just the second man in 135 years and 2059 Test matches to hit a century on debut from No.10. The other, Aussie Reggie Duff, did it at the MCG back in 1902. Abul hit 14 boundaries and three sixes in his 123-ball 113. His 184-run stand with Mohammad Mahmudullah (76) is the third-highest in Test history, and fell just 11 runs short of the overall record (held by Mark Boucher and Pat Symcox).

Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)

Ever since the Saints took a punt on Brees, a diminutive quarterback with a bum shoulder, he has repaid their faith both on the field and in the city of New Orleans. Through the Dream Foundation, which he runs with wife Brittany, Brees has invested countless hours and dollars into the community, building new homes and schools, providing alternative pathways for at-risk youth and undoing the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. On Friday, the Brees's announced they would donate US$1 million to relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of New York and New Jersey in October. In addition, they pledged to give $2 million to various New Orleans organisations in the next 12 months, further solidifying his reputation as the model sportsman to which all others should aspire.


The Australian Rugby League Commission

The ARLC decided this week to ban the shoulder charge from all levels of the game following a review led by Brian Canavan, recently appointed the Roosters' chief operating officer of football. The shoulder charge is one of the more spectacular aspects of rugby league, and one of the many reasons why it has the edge over rugby union (a game that had previously outlawed the shoulder charge) for entertainment value. Only seven years ago, the NRL used Sonny Bill Williams' unforgettable shoulder charge on Joel Clinton for their advertising campaign. Canavan's review found that only 0.05 per cent of all 2012 tackles were shoulder charges, and of that 0.05 per cent, just 17 per cent were at the head. And yet, the ARLC banned it anyway, a disappointing decision that has publicly raised the ire of several players.

Roman Abramovich (Chelsea)

Nine managers in nine years. That is the legacy Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has left at Stamford Bridge since buying up the club for 140 million pounds in 2003. Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas Boas and now Roberto di Matteo have all been given their marching orders during Abramovich's terrible reign, one in which winning percentages, titles and the opinion of the playing group matter less than the whim of a tyrannical ruler who thinks loyalty is a weakness. Di Matteo was sacked just 21 games after leading the Blues to the Champions League trophy, the cup coveted by Abramovich more than any other. Interim boss Rafa Benitez will not be long for this world either, with reports Abramovich is already pursuing Pep Guardiola to take over. The ex-Barcelona boss would be crazy to take Abramovich's calls.

Michael Beauchamp (Western Sydney Wanderers)

With Melbourne Victory reduced to ten men early when Sam Gallagher was red-carded, the Wanderers naturally took charge and dominated for most of the match at Parramatta, until a rare Melbourne cross deflected from Beauchamp's injudicious slide for an own goal, gifting the visitors hope and momentum. To cap off the Western Sydney skipper's shocker, in the second half he coughed up the ball on the halfway line with a dreadful pass, allowing Marco Rojas to streak downfield and pass to Archie Thompson who sealed an unlikely win.

Mark Sanchez (New York Jets)

Embattled Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez provided one of the best NFL bloopers of all time on Thursday, fumbling the ball after being floored by his own linesman's backside. In the second quarter, Sanchez botched a handoff to running back Lex Hilliard, apparently after forgetting the play he had just called in the huddle. Panicked, he tried to run the ball himself, but he found a hole of a different kind when he ran face-first into Brandon Moore's butt. The impact knocked Sanchez flat on his back and he lost the ball, which was returned 32 yards for a touchdown by Steve Gregory. The New England Patriots went on to win the Thanksgiving blockbuster 49-19, but all anyone will remember from this game is this one special moment:

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