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McCullum torments India with another double-ton

McCullum was on 228, his highest test score, at the tea break while wicketkeeper BJ Watling was on 119, his third century and also his highest score in tests, to guide the hosts to 440 for five, a lead of 194 runs.

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The pair have combined for a 346-run partnership, the third highest by any New Zealand combination in test cricket.

Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe hold the highest partnership for New Zealand after they scored a then-world record of 467 against Sri Lanka in 1991.

McCullum, who scored 224 in the first test at Eden Park, is the second New Zealand batsman after Stephen Fleming to have scored three test double-centuries.

All of McCullum’s have come against India, his first a 225 in 2010.

McCullum and Watling came together shortly after lunch on Sunday at 94 for five, still 152 runs from making the visitors bat again.

The naturally aggressive McCullum curbed his attacking instincts and battled problems with his shoulder and troublesome back in taking his side to a six-run lead at stumps on Sunday.

They survived to guide New Zealand to lunch at 347-5, a lead of 101 runs, and picked up from where they left off by accumulating singles, leaving plenty of deliveries and hitting bad balls to the boundary.

Milestone after milestone fell in the middle session with the ground announcer seemingly making a new announcement every five minutes.

Watling brought up his ton when he clipped a Zaheer Khan half-volley off his legs to the midwicket fence for his 12th boundary and was warmly embraced by his captain.

McCullum then flayed a wide delivery to the cover boundary to bring up the 300-run partnership and moved his personal score to 199.

The 32-year-old had to wait until after the drinks break to notch his 200th run, but clipped a ball to the midwicket fence to bring up the milestone and received a standing ovation from the small crowd.

The first New Zealand batsman to have scored a double-century in successive tests, McCullum is also the second to have achieved two double-centuries in a test series after Glenn Turner against West Indies in 1972.

India must win the match to level the two-test series after New Zealand won the first test by 40 runs.

(Editing by Ian Ransom)

Medicare makes Aust a mental health leader

Medicare funding for psychological treatment has made Australia a world leader in helping people with conditions like anxiety, depression and substance use, according to a study.

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Thanks to the funding, the treatment rate for those with mental health issues has risen faster than in any other country, from 37 per cent in 2006/7 to 46 per cent 2009/10.

This is directly attributable to the Better Access initiative launched by the federal government in 2006, write the authors led by Professor Harvey Whiteford of the University of Queensland.

“No other country of which we are aware has demonstrated such an increase within three years,” they write in the Australian Health Review.

Funding for psychological treatment had helped promote mental health to a similar standing as physical health, said Professor Lyn Littlefield, executive director of the Australian Psychological Society.

But 54 per cent of people with mental disorders were still not being treated, she said.

At present, Medicare subsidises up to 10 psychology sessions a year, down from 18 sessions when the initiative was introduced.

“We have already begun to see an erosion of the effectiveness of Better Access,” said Prof Littlefield.

She urged the federal government not to impose further cuts.

The report was “wonderful news”, said Kate Carnell, CEO of the mental health charity beyondblue.

“Taking the first step to get support is often difficult, but most people make a full recovery after doing so.”

She said beyondblue data showed that an increased awareness about symptoms played an important part in encouraging people to seek help.

She said her organisation was running a national anxiety awareness campaign.

“We have also launched Man Therapy, a first of its kind campaign that has attracted over 300,000 unique visitors to its website.

“The more we work to get these messages into the community, the more we believe that treatment rates will continue to grow.”

Nepal police find plane wreckage

Nepalese police have found the wreckage of a missing Nepal Airlines plane carrying 18 people in the country’s mountainous west but there are no survivors.

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“The plane crashed into a hill, police have found its wreckage in a village, but no survivors,” Bimlesh Lal Karna, chief air traffic controller at the country’s largest airport in Kathmandu, told AFP.

The plane, carrying 15 passengers including an infant and three crew, lost contact with air traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the popular tourist town of Pokhara on Sunday afternoon, airline officials and police said.

The aircraft from the state-run carrier was travelling to the town of Jumla, 353km west of Kathmandu, when air traffic controllers lost contact.

Heavy rain hampered Sunday’s efforts to locate the plane with two helicopters forced to turn back because of bad weather.

Police finally spotted scattered pieces of the wreckage while conducting an aerial search of Arghakhanchi district, 226km west of the capital, aviation official Karna said.

One of the passengers is from Denmark, according to airline spokesman Ram Hari Sharma.

The rest of those on board – including Manab Sejuwal, a local politician from the ruling Nepali Congress party – are from Nepal.

The crash again raises concerns about the Himalayan nation’s aviation sector, which has come under fire from international authorities after a series of fatal accidents.

The European Union in December banned all the country’s airlines from flying to the EU.

Nepal, which counts tourism as a major contributor to its economy, has suffered a number of air crashes in recent years, which have usually been attributed to inexperienced pilots, poor management and inadequate maintenance.

Kim Williams joins AFL Commission

Former News Corp Australia boss Kim Williams has been named the AFL’s newest commissioner.

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AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick nominated Williams for the non-executive role at an announcement in Sydney on Monday.

He replaces Rio Tinto chief financial officer Chris Lynch, who will step down on March 4 after six years in the role.

The media executive joins a number of other businessmen on the commission, including Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder and Seek co-founder Paul Bassat.

Williams abruptly stood down as News Corp chief executive in August last year after less than two years in the job.

He previously spent a decade as head of pay TV company Foxtel.

The appointment comes as the AFL reportedly looks to bring forward negotiations over television broadcast rights.

Fitzpatrick thanked Lynch for his role in developing the game at a time of great change, which included the addition of Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney.

He said Williams’ nomination was recommended by a sub-committee made up of himself, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, West Coast chairman Alan Cransberg and current commissioner Linda Dessau.

“Kim will bring significant experience and knowledge of broadcasting, print and digital media to the role, as well as his well-known life-long interest in the arts,” Fitzpatrick told reporters.

“He’s one of Australia’s most dynamic and creative business people.

“We welcome his intellect and his vision to Commission deliberations.”

Williams said it was a great honour to join the AFL.

“I look forward to being a dedicated contributor to Commission affairs and I trust that my skill set will represent something that combines harmoniously with that of the other commissioners,” he said.

Williams was an invited observer at the AFL Commission’s meeting in Sydney on Monday.

Fitzpatrick confirmed the league’s controversial cost of living allowances was being discussed, but was not a “key” item.

He said he didn’t anticipate a decision on any potential changes to the current regulations at Monday’s meeting, but hopes the AFL will reach “some sort of conclusion” in the next two to three months.

“Obviously whatever happens, clubs have to plan,” he added.

Asked whether the issue of cost of living issue was connected to the Sydney Swans’ multi-million acquisition of Lance Franklin, Fitzpatrick said: “It’s not specifically.

“(It) has been under discussion for sometime. I think the Franklin deal, to be frank, it was almost exogenous when it turned up. It turned up over the deal.”

New arena would keep Phoenix in Wellington

The Phoenix A-League team need a purpose-built 12,000-seat stadium in Petone if Wellington wants to keep home games, says club co-owner Gareth Morgan.

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Plans have been unveiled to build Petone Arena, costing up to $NZ48 million ($A44.85m), shifting matches away from the 35,000-seat Westpac Stadium on Wellington’s waterfront.

Phoenix backers want $NZ25m ($A23.4m) from the Hutt City Council with the balance will come from them, and corporate and community fundraising.

They will submit the idea to council and it is hoped construction could begin next year and the stadium be ready for the A-League season opener in October 2016.

Morgan said on Monday the club faced having to move more games out of Wellington.

The Phoenix lost revenue each time they hosted games at Westpac but made money from matches in Napier, Dunedin, Auckland or Christchurch.

They attract up to 8000 fans each game, but it is unreasonable for Wellington to pull crowds of more than 10,000. That number of fans “got lost in a corner” at Westpac, he said.

However, big games would return to Westpac Stadium.

The trend of making stadiums intimate and designed to amplify the fan experience was the only way to compete with television coverage, he said.

“We have to re-invent the game-day experience for fans and the start of that is an arena that is fit for purpose.”

That meant a stadium designed around a rectangular playing field which would be more intimate and family-friendly. The technology would be “stunning”, he said.

Petone would become the Phoenix’s training base, but it would also be used for club and provincial rugby, league and other community events.

Petone is only 13km from Westpac Stadium. The distance is not seen as a barrier for Wellington-based fans.