MELBOURNE: Cameron Bancroft, Matthew Wade, and Mitchell Marsh have earned a recall to Australia’s 17-man touring party for the Ashes series against England, while uncapped Queenslander Michael Neser is a surprise selection in the pace attack.Opener Bancroft earned a spot in the squad with an unbeaten match-winning knock of 93 on day three of the intra-squad clash in Southampton on Thursday.The 26-year-old’s return means all three players – along with Steve Smith and David Warner – who were banned after the South Africa ball-tampering scandal feature in the squad and could all lineup for the first Test at Edgbaston starting on Aug. 1.”David Warner, Steve Smith, and Cameron Bancroft have forced their way back into the Test squad through the excellence of their recent performances,” Trevor Hohns, the chairman of selectors, said in a statement.”David and Steve also have the advantage of being proven players at test level while Cameron has produced impressive numbers for county side Durham this season and his innings in the intra-squad match in Southampton on a tough pitch was outstanding and showed his quality.”Wade, who last played a Test in September 2017, edged out Alex Carey as the squad’s reserve wicketkeeper-batsman behind captain Tim Paine, while all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne will serve as a second spinning option alongside Nathan Lyon.”We have faith in his ability, we know our strength lies in our pace attack and we have Marnus Labuschagne’s leg-spin as another spin option as he has bowled almost 200 overs for county side Glamorgan in first-class cricket this season,” Hohns added.”Wade fully deserves his recall as he has made an irresistible case for inclusion through sheer weight of runs with 1021 first-class runs at home last summer followed by three hundred on Australia A tour.”Neser, the right-arm seam bowling all-rounder, is one of the seven fast-bowling options in the squad, led by world number one test bowler Pat Cummins, alongside Mitch Starc, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, and Peter Siddle as well as Marsh.Hazlewood returns for the first time since suffering a stress fracture of his back in January, which kept him out of contention for the World Cup squad.The squad will travel to Birmingham on Saturday and practice at Edgbaston ahead of the first Test.Squad: Tim Paine (captain), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner. IANSAlso Read: Aaron Finch Rubbishes Adam Zampa Ball-Tampering Claims
Fresh off of an undefeated run in 2015 that culminated with the program’s first-ever AVCA National Championship, the No. 1-ranked beach volleyball team will be in a prime position to repeat its success and win it all once again in 2016.The upcoming season will mark the first year of beach volleyball being recognized as an official NCAA sport, in addition to becoming the first ever season of Pac-12 beach volleyball. After going 28-0 in 2015 and claiming the school’s 123rd national team title, the Women of Troy have been ranked preseason No. 1 by multiple media outlets, including the AVCA National Poll and by DiG Magazine.While the early expectations may loom large for the Women of Troy, fifth-year head coach Anna Collier will return some firepower in 10 letterwinners from last year’s squad. USC boasts a good mix of experience and fresh faces in their line up with the top three pairs being made up of upperclassmen — five of whom are juniors — while the four and five pairs consist of a freshman, a sophomore and two former transfers.“Interestingly enough, I actually think we have an even tighter-knit group than last year, and we’re also pretty deep,” Collier said. “I really think we’ve got the correct pairs playing together and ultimately in the correct order.”Among the returning players are junior All-Americans and reigning AVCA Pairs National Champions Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes. In just their first season playing together collegiately, USC’s No. 1 duo went an impressive 44-3 overall in 2015 en route to becoming the third USC pair in a row to claim the pairs title.Now, the two will look to cement themselves as the best beach duo in the nation and make another big run together this season as the Women of Troy’s indisputable on-court leaders.Also returning will be the experienced pair of senior Alexa Strange and junior Sophie Bukovec. Last season, both were named AVCA All-Americans for the first time in their careers after going 33-10 overall at USC’s No. 2 position and will provide key leadership and stability in 2016. Juniors Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler, who went 31-5 together at the four spot in 2015, move up one flight to stand at the No. 3 position this year, while sophomore Jenna Belton and freshman Abril Bustamante will suit up together in their place at No. 4. Rounding out the pairs will be sophomore Jo Kremer and graduate student Zoe Nightingale, debuting at the No. 5 position.With one AVCA national championship already under their belts, team captains Bukovec and Hughes are hoping their team can leave an imprint on this the inaugural season of NCAA beach volleyball.“Our main goal is ultimately to win the first ever NCAA National Championship, because this is the first official year as an NCAA sport,” Hughes said. “That’s really what our team is striving for.”However, the team knows that the road to the championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama, won’t be easy.“I think that because we are ranked No. 1, we have a pretty big target on our back,” Hughes said. “It’s going to be about us taking things one point at a time and one match at a time. Then, we’ll get to that ultimate goal of winning the national championship, which I really think we can achieve.”Bukovec also noted that the early pressures of being the No. 1-ranked team in the nation will be a challenge that the Women of Troy are up for.“Expectation goes hand in hand with pressure, and that’s something I think our team is really good at handling,” Bukovec said. “We’re just going to come out and use it as fuel for each and every match.”Collier was more frank in describing what her team needs to do in order to repeat as national champions.“Honestly, I think we’re going to have to play better than we did last year,” Collier said. “Everybody wants to win the first NCAA Championship, so everything is elevated. Every team that lines up on the opposite side of the net will play their best match against us, so we need to make sure that we not only know that, but also know that we’re still going to win in the end.”In addition to the star-studded roster, USC boasts an impressive coaching lineup as well. Collier herself is a former three-sport athlete and All-American at USC and has coached women’s beach volleyball teams in a pair of Olympics. Named AVCA National Coach of the Year in 2014, Collier has compiled a 74-15 record as USC’s first and only head coach. Also returning to the sidelines as volunteer assistant is former gold medalist and two-time beach volleyball Olympian Dain Blanton, while Ali Lamberson comes to Troy in her first year as assistant coach. Lamberson, formerly a volunteer assistant at Tulane, brings 25 years of experience as a player, coach and administrator and has worked with Collier for more than 20 years.With all of these factors put together, Collier thinks she has the recipe for success.“I’m expecting us to come out and play some good, solid, elite volleyball, which I always call ‘USC volleyball’ because it’s true — we are elite,” Collier said. “So, I think if we can just play USC volleyball, we’re going to be fine.”USC will begin their quest to win the first-ever NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship this weekend in Malibu for the Pepperdine Kick Off. The Women of Troy will face off against four of the nation’s top six ranked teams in this tournament, starting with No. 3-ranked Hawaii on Saturday at 10:15 a.m., followed by a match against host and No. 2-ranked Pepperdine at 12:45 p.m.
Stat that mattersAuburn is 7-1 against the spread as a home underdog under Gus Malzhan. That should at least make Georgia fans nervous. The Tigers are going to pull out all the stops here, so expect Malzahn to break tendencies on both sides of the ball to try to mix up Georgia.Auburn vs. Georgia predictionAuburn takes the early lead, perhaps on a trick play, and the defense gives Fromm problems in the first half. The Tigers, however, cannot capitalize on that early momentum and it’s a one-score game at home. Georgia stays patient in the running game, and D’Andre Swift — who had 25 carries for 86 yards against Florida — comes up with a few big runs in the third quarter. Georgia holds on in the fourth quarter to keep those Playoff hopes alive.Auburn vs. Georgia scoreGeorgia 30, Auburn 23 WEEK 12 PICKS: Straight up | Against the spreadAuburn, it’s worth mentioning, can still get to a New Year’s Day 6 bowl; this is its third matchup against a top-10 team this season. It’s the first one at home, however, and could set the tone for the Iron Bowl on Nov. 30.The Bulldogs and Tigers have a lot on the line here. With that in mind, here’s everything you need for Saturday’s matchup:Georgia vs. Auburn oddsSpread: Georgia -2.5Point total: 44Moneyline: Auburn-110, Georgia-110Georgia is a 2.5-point favorite, according to odds at Sportsbook Review, and 56 percent of the wagering has come in favor of the Bulldogs.MORE: Get the latest NCAAF odds and trends at Sportsbook ReviewAuburn vs. Georgia all-time seriesGeorgia leads the all-time series 59-56-8 and has won the last two meetings. Auburn won the last meeting at Jordan-Hare Stadium, 40-17, in 2017.Three trends to know— The Tigers are 14-7 against Georgia when both teams are ranked in the AP Top 25, but the Bulldogs have won two of the last three regular-season meetings in that situation.— The Tigers are 7-2 against the spread this season, including a 2-0 against-the-spread mark as an underdog. Those games were on the road.—Georgia is 9-4 against the spread as a road favorite under fourth-year coach Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs have been favored in every game this season and are 5-3 against the spread.WEEK 12 PROJECTIONS: Bowls | PlayoffThree things to watchThe running gameAuburn (219.3 ypg) and Georgia (215.9) are both excellent on the ground, and the team that wins the battle could run away with this game. On defense, however, the Bulldogs have been better at 74.6 yards per game (fourth in the FBS). That’s nasty, and if it travels that would put Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix behind the chains. There is more pressure on the Tigers to get a running game started.A better Bo NixIn the losses to LSU and Florida, Nix was 26 of 62 (41.2 percent) for an average of 146 yards per game with two touchdowns and four interceptions. If that happens again, then Georgia will cruise to victory. Nix’s numbers are better across the board at home, and he averages 5.0 yards per carry. Perhaps Auburn uses more designed quarterback runs early to loosen up the passing game.What did Fromm learn?The last trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium was a nightmare on all fronts for Jake Fromm, who was sacked four times and managed a 13 of 28 passing day for 184 yards and a touchdown. Georgia had 32 carries for 46 yards in a game dominated by the Tigers’ defensive front. Georgia has won the last two meetings since, but this was on the road. No. 5 Georgia (8-1) travels to No. 13 Auburn (7-2) in the marquee SEC game of the week at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. The game will be televised at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry has SEC and College Football Playoff implications for the second straight season. Georgia can clinch a spot in the SEC championship game with a victory, and Auburn can knock the Bulldogs out of Playoff contention once and for all with a win.