SPORTS in brief

Published: Friday | December 27, 2013 Comments 0

James wins AP crown


The only thing that keeps LeBron James up worrying at night is basketball, which simultaneously makes perfect sense and no sense.

On one hand, he's the game's best player. On the other, he's rarely impressed with himself.

Even after a year like 2013 - when a spectacular wedding, a second NBA championship and a fourth MVP award were among the many highlights enjoyed by the Miami Heat star - he still is, as he puts it, striving for greatness.

James was announced yesterday as The Associated Press' 2013 Male Athlete of the Year, becoming the third basketball player to capture the award that has been annually awarded since 1931. James received 31 of 96 votes cast in a poll of news organisations, beating Peyton Manning (20) and Jimmie Johnson (7).

"I'm chasing something and it's bigger than me as a basketball player," James told the AP. "I believe my calling is much higher than being a basketball player. I can inspire people. Youth is huge to me. If I can get kids to look at me as a role model, as a leader, a superhero ... those things mean so much, and that's what I think I was built for."

Past winners include Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali, Carl Lewis, Joe Montana, Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps. Serena Williams was named the AP Female Athlete of the Year.

India make strong start

DURBAN, South Africa (AP):

India took advantage of a placid first-day pitch to move comfortably to 181-1 against South Africa's toiling bowlers when bad light ended play early on the opening day of the second Test at Kingsmead yesterday. There was no doubt India's decision to bat first was the correct call as Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara made unbeaten half-centuries and shared an unbroken and relatively untroubled 140-run partnership for the second wicket, to put India in control early in the deciding match of the short two-game series.

Vijay was 91 not out, and approaching a century and Pujara 58 not out, as India batted through the second and the curtailed third sessions without losing a wicket.

Morne Morkel had South Africa's only breakthrough before lunch, when Shikhar Dhawan edged to Alviro Petersen at slip for 29 at 41-1. But Vijay and Pujara batted confidently for most of the 48 overs after that, as even overcast conditions throughout much of the afternoon in Durban didn't offer any real help for the bowlers.

MCG crowd breaks Test world record

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - A world record crowd of 91,092 attended day one of the fourth Ashes test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday to watch Australia again take the contest to England.

The total crowd surpassed the previous mark of 90,800 for a single day of Test cricket, also at the MCG, set on the second day of the fifth Test of the West Indies' tour of Australia in 1961.

Despite Australia already clinching the Ashes 3-0 after the third test at Perth last week, Australian fans have been eager to witness the resurgence of their national team after three consecutive Ashes series defeats.

"To play in front of 90-plus-thousand people ... the noise out there was unbelievable," Australia pacemen Ryan Harris said.England 226-6 at stumpsMELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Mitchell Johnson made the most of the second new ball, taking two late wickets in front of a world record crowd yesterday to leave England on a precarious 226-6 at stumps on the opening day of the fourth Ashes Test against Australia.

Kevin Pietersen had two big reprieves to bring up a half century and anchor a dour England batting performance before Johnson (2-59) struck shortly before the close of play to remove Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow. He was unbeaten on 67 at the close of play.

Ryan Harris (2-32) claimed the important wicket of Ian Bell (27) earlier in the evening session to add to his dismissal of Joe Root after lunch.

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