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Greg Baum

Greg Baum is chief sports columnist and associate editor with The Age

John Coates.

Coates plays the trump card

Coates clash with John Wylie is not news. What is extraordinary is Coates' account of it, self-reporting his aggressive posturing, his snarls and a foul-mouthed flourish.

Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand in his match against Rafael Nadal of Spain in the final of the Miami Open.

Backhand to the future

It's not just that Roger Federer at 35 is winning at the same rate as when he was 25. It's not just that he has beaten Rafael Nadal three times in a row for the first time in their long rivalry, all in finals.

James Pattinson of the Bushrangers celebrates with teammates after claiming the wicket of South Australia's Callum ...

Victoria completes 'accidental' Shield hat-trick

In 2014, Cricket Victoria reversed its emphasis. From time immemorial, it had set out to win Sheffield Shields, believing the bi-product would be a stream of Australian players. Three years ago, it decided that its No. 1 KPI would be Australian caps, and the Shield could look after itself. One consequence, says CA cricket manager Shaun Graf, is that coaches and selectors became more adventurous, also looked more favourably on youth.

Lokesh Rahul celebrates as India wins the fourth Test.

Small victories all round, but still the Indians prevail

Australia had moral victories, and personal victories, and technical victories, and an actual victory. They had a victory over doomsayers - and let's face it, we were legion - a victory over an old phobia about playing in India, and a victory for their unorthodox, laboratory-style preparation. They won respect, which they have not always enjoyed in India. They won hearts. They probably even won the war of words, if anyone cares.

Pat Cummins took four wickets, three of which were with short-pitched balls.

Cummins quickens Australian hearts

If not a red letter day for Australia, it was at least a red leather day. Pat Cummins on his return to Test cricket took four wickets, and is not done yet.

Captain Steven Smith kisses his helmet after scoring a century during the first day of the third Test.

Smith and Maxwell blaze the trail

Steve Smith looked to the dressing room at least twice, at 50 and 100, and again as he walked off at stumps, unbeaten. If in Bengaluru he had misguidedly needed an outside opinion about whether or not he was out, it is a long time since he has needed direction about how to stay in. This was his 11th cenury in 21 matches since he become captain, merely 16 months ago. He is Australia's man for all situations, seasons and reasons.

Centenary Test, Australia v England: March 17, 1977: David Hookes hits five consecutive fours off English bowler Tony Grieg.

The Centenary Test 40 years on - cricket with style

The way the Melbourne Cricket Club pulled the Centenary Test together moved Marylebone Cricket Club secretary Billy Griffith to remark: "This must be the most magnificent effort ever made by any cricket authority."