England bowler finishes with exemplary figures of 3-24
Jimmy Anderson was a class apart on his return to the England side but a century from old adversary Angelo Mathews made it a fair fight on day one of the second Test against Sri Lanka.
Anderson put his ego and record-breaking status aside to sit out the series opener but, having traded places with Stuart Broad in Galle, was quick to restate his enduring class as he got the better of the home side’s top order on a batsman’s pitch.
Both parties relaxed about delaying talks amid Covid
Frankfurt’s André Silva among strikers under consideration
West Ham are delighted with their revival under David Moyes and intend to reward him with a new contract at the end of the season.
Moyes is nearing the end of his 18-month deal, and although that includes an option for a further year, the desire is to hand him a long-term contract. The situation is different from the Scot’s first spell at the London Stadium. Although Moyes saved West Ham from relegation after replacing Slaven Bilic on a six-month deal in November 2018, the board decided to go in a different direction at the end of the campaign, hiring Manuel Pellegrini.
Hello! As the weekend approaches once more, welcome to another Friday countdown. For the next few days, the leagues will take a back seat as the FA Cup fourth round beckons.
Tonight will see Wolves travel to Lancashire to face National League North side Chorley. Tomorrow’s games include Southampton versus Arsenal, Brighton against Blackpool and Manchester City at Cheltenham.
Conor McGregor has told Khabib Nurmagomedov “the world knows this war is not over” as he hinted at a future confrontation if his long-standing rival avoids a rematch.
The pair’s storied grudge escalated when Nurmagomedov retained his UFC lightweight title by forcing McGregor to tap in the fourth round of their October 2018 bout, after which a post-fight melee involving both combatants ensued. McGregor has made it known he would relish a chance to avenge the loss, but Nurmagomedov announced his mixed martial arts retirement last October after extending his perfect professional record to 29-0 by defeating Justin Gaethje.
Scott Morrison says any leader must put population’s health first amid continued speculation about Tokyo 2020
The pandemic is placing “real pressure” on preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, the Australian prime minister has said, after a report claimed the Japanese government had privately concluded this summer’s Games will have to be cancelled.
“The situation in Japan, right now, in terms of the spread that’s occurred there more recently, is quite different to even when I was there in November,” Scott Morrison said on Friday.
3rd over: Sri Lanka 2-0 (Thirimanne 1, Perera 1) Anderson’s fifth ball, the 17th of the innings, allows Thirimanne to bunt down into the off side and they take a run, the first of the innings, then Perera does likewise.
2nd over: Sri Lanka 0-0 (Thirimanne 0, Perera 0) That was a good ball, swinging away then nipping back in, but did just a bit too much. Another maiden.
Aiden O’Brien was fined for embarrassing debacle at Newmarket last year when two horses swapped identities
The British Horseracing Authority said on Thursday that it has been conducting “additional ID checks” at major Flat meetings and is still engaged in a “longer term piece of work” to prevent any repeat of the embarrassing debacle at Newmarket last year when two horses from Aidan O’Brien’s yard, Mother Earth and Snowfall, swapped identities in the Group One Fillies’ Mile.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews says former tennis champion holds ‘disgraceful’ and ‘hurtful’ views and should not be honoured
Margaret Court, the former Australian tennis player who has sparked controversy in recent years because of her views on LGBTQ+ issues, will be recognised with Australia’s highest honour.
Court, who has worked as a Pentecostal minister since her retirement from tennis, will be awarded the Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC), the highest category of honour awarded as part of the Australia Day honours on Tuesday.
World No 3 says Djokovic tried to help players in Melbourne
Paula Badosa tests positive for Covid before Australian Open
Dominic Thiem, the US Open champion and world No 3, has denied the top players are receiving a notable advantage before the Australian Open by spending their 14-day quarantine in Adelaide, rather than Melbourne where more than 300 players are staying.
Sean Dyche’s turn. “We have settled down the defensive side of things, and look more solid, but then you’re looking for that balance. We have created some chances, better chances, because that’s the key to it, it’s the quality of chance. And in some games we haven’t taken those chances. From the last nine games we’ve got 14 points, so that’s a good return after a tough start.”
Jurgen Klopp talks to BT Sport. “We play every three days, and that’s why we have to make changes. Hendo is not in the squad because he felt a little bit ... it’s not serious but he couldn’t make it tonight. It will be a very intense game tonight.”
Players and staff forced into unnecessary isolation
Premiership Rugby has started an investigation after an error in the laboratory run by the company that conducts its Covid-19 testing programme resulted in Bath’s squad and management needlessly having to isolate at home and the club’s training ground given a deep clean that was not required.
Bath were told on Tuesday morning that a number of their players and staff had tested positive, but it turned out there were only two positive tests out of the 989 conducted by Randox Health at the 12 top-flight clubs at the start of the week, the second lowest number of the season.
Rory Burns also recalled after missing Sri Lanka series
Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Sam Curran to be rested
England have announced their squad for the first two Tests of their tour of India. Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Rory Burns join the group after missing the trip to Sri Lanka, while Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Sam Curran will return home at the end of the second Test in Galle, which starts on Friday.
Club struggling in Championship after losing at home to QPR
Harris joined in late 2019 and took club to play-offs last term
Cardiff have sacked manager Neil Harris after a run of six straight defeats. Harris was appointed in November 2019 and leaves the Cardiff City Stadium with the Bluebirds 15th in the Sky Bet Championship, 13 points from the play-off places.
Cardiff owner Vincent Tan told the club website: “I’d like to thank Neil and David [Livermore, assistant manager] sincerely for their hard work at Cardiff City. Their efforts to propel us towards a fifth-place finish and play-off position last year are recognised and appreciated, although sadly we are in a result-orientated business and our on-field results of late and progress this season has been very poor.
A shock for the ages provided the happiest night in the life of what, right now, might be the saddest city in Spain
“Javi Antón is crying,” said Vicente Parras, and he wasn’t the only one. The manager of Club Deportivo Alcoyano looked across the pitch at El Callao with its whitewashed walls, “Morale” splashed alongside the little blue door in the corner and saw his players still on the grass long after the final whistle. Some of them held white shirts, most of them held phones. “They’re all out there calling home,” he said: endless messages and dozens of conversations starting the way his had a few minutes before. Parras’s son couldn’t come to the game; no one could. “I just wanted to make sure he had seen it,” he admitted.
Not all of them had. José Juan Figueiras’s wife and his daughter were in tears when he called overwhelmed by it all, but his five-year-old son was in bed, asleep. It was late and he had school tomorrow; he’d have to find out what had happened in the morning, just what his dad had done, why everyone was suddenly talking about him. What had happened was this: tiny Alcoyano, the club that had not been in the first division for 70 years and were now in the semi-professional third tier with its 102 teams and 10 groups, had just beaten the biggest of them all, knocking Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey. With 10 men, no fans and in extra-time.
Striker had been isolating after contact with confirmed case
Argentinian has started only three matches this season
Sergio Agüero has announced he has tested positive for coronavirus. The Manchester City striker had been self-isolating after being identified as a close contact of another confirmed case.
The Argentinian tweeted: “After a close contact, I’ve been self-isolating and the latest test I took was positive for Covid-19. I had some symptoms and I’m following doctor’s orders for recovery. Take care, everyone!”
The pod review Manchester United’s and Manchester City’s Premier League wins over Fulham and Villa, respectively, which saw the former go back to the top after a candidate for goal of the season from Paul Pogba. But what is the secret to making him happy?
This was one way for Rory McIlroy to divert unwanted attention away from his good friend Justin Thomas. Whereas pre-tournament discussion at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship surrounded a homophobic slur muttered by Thomas at a recent event in Hawaii, McIlroy took 18 holes to alter the narrative as an eight under par 64, his lowest score in Abu Dhabi, planted him atop the leaderboard.
Fifa and continental confederations issue strong statement
Their competitions would ban any Super League participants
Fifa and all six of football’s continental confederations have issued an emphatic joint rejection of any moves towards major clubs forming a breakaway European Super League, saying such a venture would not be ratified by any governing body.
The statement, made by the presidents of Fifa and Uefa, Gianni Infantino and Aleksander Ceferin, and those of the other five international confederations, says that because none of them would endorse such a league, any players and clubs that did participate in it would effectively be football outlaws.
Athletes don’t want to be accused of hypocrisy but the changing environment is already impacting many sports
For a sector of society so adept at harnessing communities, cities, even entire countries, sport is strangely weak at empowering action on the issue which matters most. Perhaps the pace of sport, the relentless rotation of preparing, travelling and performing, restrains us from stopping, breathing and thinking about the existence of sport as we know it.
Having globe-hopped for 25 years, reporting on Olympics, Paralympics, World Cups and tennis grand slams, I know I’ve taken sport for granted. When it stops – rain delay, postponement, pandemic – we notice. At other times, it’s just there. Silly games, essentially, for escapism and entertainment.
Bach says ‘no reason’ Games will not open on time in July
Pound suggests the Olympics could go ahead with no fans
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach declared on Thursday that the Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead as scheduled this year, reiterating that there is “no plan B” in place.
“We have, at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on 23 July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo,” Bach told Kyodo News in an interview just days ahead of the six-month countdown toward the games.
Chelsea players have taken active roles for charitable causes
‘It is going to help massively for kids,’ says Rashford
Marcus Rashford has praised Chelsea’s Reece James and Mason Mount for their “amazing” charitable work during the pandemic and believes it will help drive significant social change for the next generation.
Rashford, 23, has become a leading figure in the fight against child food poverty in Britain, with the Manchester United striker only last week calling for the government to launch a major and urgent review into the free school meals system.
50,000 on startline to be joined by 50,000 ‘virtual’ runners
Total of 100,000 would eclipse New York marathon of 2018
This year’s London Marathon is set to be the biggest marathon ever staged, with organisers increasingly hopeful that a full national rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine will enable 100,000 runners to take part in the race on 3 October.
A record 50,000 people will be given the opportunity to run the famous 26.2 mile course from Blackheath to the Mall in central London – up more than 7,000 on the previous number of finishers – with another 50,000 being offered the chance to run or walk the race “virtually” across the globe during a 24-hour window.
A 3-0 home defeat against Hoffenheim leaves Hertha two points above the relegation play-offs and looking for answers
The semi-legendary escalators that lead from the dressing rooms to the Olympiastadion pitch are a great idea in principle. You see how it’s meant to work – let the tech take the strain, and just get in the zone for the game. So when Hertha’s two most naturally gifted players, Matheus Cunha and Matteo Guendouzi, argued on the escalator out for the second half on Tuesday night like a couple in a department store locking horns over the future of their soft furnishings, it was clear this team had reached some sort of breaking point.
Understandably so. Sebastian Rudy’s deflected shot which opened the scoring for Hoffenheim in the first half was “symbolic of the whole Hinrunde”, coach Bruno Labbadia lamented after the game, but there were few excuses to be made here. They had their early chance to settle nerves, which Krzysztof Piatek spurned from the penalty spot. When Andrej Kramaric got a second with just over 20 minutes to go, a visiting team who had looked to be in a post-Christmas freefall and recently even become Schalke’s first victims of the season were on their way to a comfortable away win.
Manager offers no comment on whether Ødegaard a target
Arteta feels squad is ‘a little bit short in certain areas’
Arsenal’s mini purge of unwanted players has left them free to make additions this month according to Mikel Arteta, who says they are active in the market.
Arteta would not comment on suggestions Arsenal are competing with Real Sociedad for the loan signing of Martin Ødegaard, the Real Madrid playmaker, but confirmed he plans to bring players in before the transfer window closes on 1 February.
Creating a 14-team top tier and asking a promoted side to pay for the privilege is not in the best interests of English rugby
When the Premiership abandoned the first-past-the-post system to determine the champions and replaced it with play-offs, the justification was that the league table was not necessarily a barometer of form because some clubs were more disrupted by international calls than others during the league campaign.
The overlap between domestic and international rugby in the autumn and during the Six Nations meant some clubs could be without players for more than a third of the season, and then there were rest weeks to factor in. And so play-offs, never mind that a league turned into a knockout tournament, were determined to be the better way to decide who was the best.
The pressure on Andrea Pirlo’s team to deliver in the Supercoppa had been intense. Juve’s talisman carried out the delivery
Andrea Pirlo used to love winding up Gennaro Gattuso. In his autobiography, the now Juventus manager described his former teammate as “my favourite target … despite the fact that he tried on numerous occasions to kill me with a fork”. Pirlo recalled bursting out of Gattuso’s wardrobe to scare him in the middle of the night and stealing his phone to message a Milan director with an offer to swap his sister for an improved contract.
It is one thing to tease, though, and another to defeat. If Pirlo derived any additional pleasure from claiming the first trophy of his managerial career at Gattuso’s expense on Wednesday night, then he did a good job of hiding it. “I feel sorry for him,” Pirlo confessed after steering Juventus to a 2-0 victory over Napoli in Italy’s Supercoppa. “But we are doing a different job now to the one that we had before. It was important for me to bring home the win.”
England can now see that teams willing to counterattack the Australians can unsettle them
It is probably hackery to roll out Lady Bracknell’s most famous line in another reworked form, but great lines are great because they are universal. In this context: “To lose one home series to India, Mr Paine, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
Two years ago Australians were, by and large, willing to accept being beaten 2-1 by a visiting India. The circumstances were special. Australia’s Test team was dizzy after the Cape Town sandpaper circus, Steve Smith and David Warner were comfortably the two best batsmen in the country and were missing on suspension, and India brought a once-in-a-generation assembly of fast-bowling quality to take advantage of their absence.
The former professional fighter has been a prominent figure at far-right events but has faced abuse from the same people she runs with
On 14 November 2020, thousands of President Trump’s supporters flocked to the nation’s capital for a “Million Maga March” in support of the then-president and his baseless claims that the presidential election had been rigged. Among those who gathered were the Proud Boys, a far-right hate group known for violent confrontations with left-wing demonstrators.
Dressed in their characteristic Fred Perry polo shirts with hipster beards and short, close-cropped haircuts, the Proud Boys made their presence known as they vandalized historically Black churches and trashed the Black Lives Matter Plaza. By evening, clashes erupted in downtown DC between the Proud Boys and counter protestors, while the police attempted to separate the two sides.
With the Covid-19 pandemic still raging, Olympians wonder whether they will – and should – be vaccinated in time for the Games
Steve Solomon, a 400-metre sprinter and co-captain of the Australian athletics team, has plenty to think about. The postponed 2020 Olympics are now just six months away and, barring a Covid-19 outbreak in Australia, Solomon will compete in the national championships in April before beginning final preparations for Tokyo. But there is one thing that the sprinter insists is not front of mind for him and his teammates: the coronavirus vaccine. “Everyone is just focused on making sure we are physically and mentally ready for the Games,” he said.
Solomon’s thoughts may be elsewhere, but plenty within the Olympic movement in Australia and overseas are pre-occupied with how the world’s biggest sporting event can take place safely in the midst of a pandemic. The Games are scheduled to begin on 23 July; the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government insist it will go ahead, despite a recent spike in cases in Tokyo. If the Olympics are to proceed, the vaccine offers a potential solution.
Scheduled 12-city proposal thought up before Covid
Uefa’s president, Aleksander Ceferin, is weighing up whether to stage the European Championship in one country this summer rather than across the continent as planned, according to the Bayern Munich CEO, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
The tournament, still titled Euro 2020, is scheduled to start on 11 June in 12 cities across Europe but Rummenigge said the concept was dreamed up before the Covid-19 outbreak.
Teenage winger is thriving having found focus after release by Crystal Palace, where his push to halt time-wasting drew laughs
Kwadwo Baah well remembers being rejected at the age of 14. “I knew it was coming so I was prepared but it was still a shock,” says the former Crystal Palace youth player thriving in League One with Rochdale. “I remember waking up one Tuesday after I had been released and it felt weird that I didn’t have to go to training. It felt like I was out of the system.”
Luckily for Baah, who had enjoyed a brief taste of fame in October 2016 as a Palace ballboy when he ran on to the pitch and put down the ball for a goal-kick in an attempt to stop West Ham’s goalkeeper from time-wasting, the Kinetic Academy gave him a second chance.
Racecourse officials moved to fend off criticism for continuing to race on Wednesday, with support from a local GP’s practice
The old maxim that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ appeared to be proved true once more on Wednesday when, a week after allowing itself to be used as a Covid-19 vaccination centre, Newbury racecourse was subjected to strongly worded criticism on social media for a one-day return to its day job. Course officials insisted that the NHS had planned around the track’s long-established fixture list and that the racing which took place here on Wednesday did not cause a delay to the vaccination process but hecklers on Twitter appeared reluctant to accept that point.
On a sodden, freezing Wednesday night in west London Manchester United came from behind to claim a fiercely-fought 2-1 win against an impressive, resilient Fulham team.
The result leaves United top of the Premier League table, and extends to 17 matches their unbeaten away run, equalling the all-time club record. Best of all it arrived thanks to a moment of the highest quality from Paul Pogba, who was a quietly majestic presence in midfield.
Captain backs Dom Sibley before Friday’s second Sri Lanka Test
Root notes Australia’s ‘fortress broken’ by India’s Gabba victory
The England team hotel in Galle was seemingly abuzz after Australia’s defeat in Brisbane this week. But this schadenfreude was also tempered by the knowledge that they themselves have nine Tests this year against the might of India and, more pressingly, one against Sri Lanka starting on Friday.
Certainly Joe Root was keen to stress this on Wednesday, smiling as he noted that “the fortress has been broken, the Gabba has been breached” before swiftly returning to his more serious face and issuing the latest reminder that there is “a lot of cricket to be played” in the runup to his side travelling to Australia.
This was a breathless affair for which an abacus was needed to keep count of the endless chances created. Manchester City created most of these in a blur of activity close to Emiliano Martínez’s goal and when Aston Villa were finally breached on 79 minutes it was deserved.
Tyrone Mings dallied, Rodri mugged him, the effervescent Bernardo Silva received the ball, swerved away from a clutch of defenders, then fired in a memorable strike.
Their stunning Test series victory in Australia may go down as a watershed moment as the game’s global power shifts to India
The ground has moved after India’s win in Brisbane, lifted, shifted and settled again, so the game’s landscape looks a little different today. The premise of the World Test Championship seems a little redundant all of a sudden, because it’s addressing a question that has just been settled. New Zealand are still top of the official rankings, for now, and since they swept India aside 2-0 at home last February, they deserve the chance to try and beat them again in the final in England later this year. But whether they (or Australia, or England) qualify for that match or not, the future belongs to India, just as surely as the recent past did to Australia and, before them, West Indies.
German coach an option with Werner and Havertz at club
Frank Lampard is running out of time to save his job after Chelsea’s defeat by Leicester prompted the board to start identifying possible replacements for their manager.
Chelsea have grown alarmed after five defeats in eight Premier League games and Lampard finds himself on increasingly thin ice. The 42-year-old is under no illusions about his precarious situation. He does not have long to convince the hierarchy, who have started to consider succession plans, that he can turn the situation around.
Manchester City make three changes to the team sent out to batter Crystal Palace 4-0 on Sunday. Phil Foden, Rodri and Joao Cancelo come in; Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho and Oleksandr Zinchenko drop to the bench.
Aston Villa’s last fixture was the FA Cup tie against Liverpool. They were forced to send out the whippersnappers for that one, so let’s look back to the New Year’s Day match at Old Trafford instead. Just the one change to the team that was unfortunate to go down 2-1: Ross Barkley comes in for Anwar El Ghazi, who is named today as a sub.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Joao Cancelo, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Foden. Subs: Gabriel Jesus, Zinchenko, Steffen, Torres, Mendy, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Garcia, Bernabe.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Douglas Luiz, Barkley, Traore, Grealish, McGinn, Watkins. Subs: Heaton, Taylor, Nakamba, El Ghazi, Engels, Guilbert, Elmohamady, Davis, Ramsey.
Patience is wearing thin among club hierarchy, who are entitled to expect more than a series of tactically incoherent displays
The trouble with hiring a novice is becoming impossible for Chelsea to ignore. Half a season has drifted by and a side assembled at great expense shows no sign of developing an identity. Although Frank Lampard was handed more than £200m to spend last summer, the job is starting to look too big for him. Craftier managers are exposing flaws too easily. Brendan Rodgers was the latest to teach Lampard a painful lesson in strategy on Tuesday and 19 games into a fraught campaign Chelsea are entitled to expect more than a series of tactically incoherent displays.
Patience is wearing thin within the corridors of power. The sense is of the walls closing in on Lampard after his team’s defeat by Leicester, whose discipline, precise movements and rapier counterattacks highlighted the benefits of having an experienced manager. While Rodgers had Leicester playing with nous and purpose, Chelsea were devoid of a plan from front to back. The blame for that lies with one person.
Olympic champion is one of first four swimmers selected
BOA’s Hugh Robertson ‘confident as I can be’ Games will happen
The Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Adam Peaty has insisted he is “very hopeful” the Games will go ahead this summer after being named in Team GB’s squad for Tokyo. Peaty’s comments were echoed by the British Olympic Association chairman, Hugh Robertson, who said he was “as confident as I can possibly be” that the Tokyo Games will go ahead despite the spiralling number of coronavirus cases in Japan.
World No 1 criticised for suggesting Covid protocol changes
‘I use my position of privilege to be of service as much as I can’
Novak Djokovic has defended his “good intentions” after receiving intense criticism for providing Tennis Australia with suggestions on how to improve player conditions and ease some of the protocols in their hotel quarantine.
After the complaints from players in the first days of their hotel quarantine in Melbourne, Djokovic addressed players in their WhatsApp group before sending a list of suggestions to Tennis Australia’s CEO, Craig Tiley.
Manager accepts team have not progressed from last season
‘We have to be calm. It is no catastrophe,’ Klopp says
Jürgen Klopp has claimed a lack of patience is fuelling criticism of Liverpool’s four-game run without a Premier League win, with the manager stating “the world is a crazy place”.
Klopp did admit his team have not progressed from last season when they were champions. Since beating Crystal Palace 7-0 on 19 December Liverpool have drawn three matches and lost one, scoring only once. This has meant a five-point lead has slipped, and they start Thursday’s game at home to Burnley in fourth place.
Quins seventh in Premiership after draw with London Irish
Director of rugby goes following ‘mutual agreement’ with club
Paul Gustard has stepped down as Harlequins director of rugby with immediate effect. The announcement comes with Quins positioned seventh in the Gallagher Premiership table with their 27-27 draw with London Irish on January 10 ending a run of three defeats dating back to early December.
“Having reached this decision it has been mutually agreed between Paul and the club that he will leave with immediate effect to enable him to pursue other opportunities,” a statement read.
Semi-professional third-tier club have knocked out Atlético Madrid in a remarkable cup run that also features a 1am winner
On Thursday Barcelona will travel less than 15 minutes east from the Camp Nou, a trip they normally do once a season. This time, though, they won’t enter the 40,500-capacity RCD Stadium but the small municipal ground that lies in its shadow; their opponents won’t be their city rivals Espanyol, relegated last season, but UE Cornellà from Spain’s Segunda B, the regionalised, semi-professional third tier where 102 teams are spread across 10 groups.
“Our pitch is almost half the size of the one at Camp Nou, and it’s artificial grass – that will be in our favour,” the Cornellà midfielder Àlex Pla says as he prepares for the last-32 Copa del Rey tie.
Bath centre has been capped by England at under-20 level
Fly-half Finn Russell included after overcoming injury
Cameron Redpath has been included in Scotland’s Six Nations squad, signalling an apparent U-turn from a player capped by England at under-20 level and thought to be on Eddie Jones’s radar.
Redpath’s selection comes after reports that the Bath centre was considering switching his senior allegiance to Scotland. The 21-year-old was initially included in England’s squad for the 2018 tour of South Africa but has been unable to force his way into contention.
MacLeod sole uncapped player in Pivac’s 36-man squad
Flanker Dan Lydiate recalled as Wales omit Rhys Webb
Wayne Pivac has named Cardiff Blues fly-half Jarrod Evans in Wales’ Six Nations squad, resisting the temptation to recall Bath playmaker Rhys Priestland. Scarlets back-row forward Josh MacLeod is the sole uncapped player in head coach Pivac’s 36-man squad for the Six Nations, with senior men Ken Owens, Alun Wyn Jones and Josh Navidi all selected after injury concerns.
Priestland has not played a Test match since 2017 having moved to England, but is expected to return to Wales next year and Pivac was thought to have the option of selecting the 34-year-old.
Thomas, minus shirt branding, will compete in the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Championship this weekend. Speaking at length for the first time about his offensive comment at the Tournament of Champions, the 27-year-old did admit he hoped to maintain his Ralph Lauren connection. The company, clearly, had other ideas.
Tennis Australia has backtracked from comments made by its chief executive, Craig Tiley, that the Victorian government would foot part of the bill for quarantining Australian Open players, coaches and officials.
The organisation was forced to clarify the details after Tiley told radio station 3AW on Wednesday morning that the state government was contributing to an expected $40m in quarantine costs.
The playmaker left home at the age of 12 to pursue her soccer career. Now she has signed with the most successful club in the women’s game
It has been a week to remember for Catarina Macario, the Brazilian-born, San Diego-bred midfielder who for years has been touted as the future of the US women’s national team but at the moment appears increasingly bound to its present.
Three months after receiving her American citizenship, the 21-year-old playmaker wept tears of joy with her family last Wednesday after receiving confirmation from Fifa of her approval to represent the four-time world champions in international play. The paperwork was finalised a day after Macario signed a contract to start her professional career with European champions Lyon, forgoing her senior season at Stanford University. Then on Monday night, she cut the figure of a polished veteran while making her USA debut in a 4-0 friendly win over Colombia at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium.
Super League has been delayed until at least late March and the NRL is not kicking off until 11 March, but at least rugby league fans have some live action to watch this winter. With Catalan Dragons and Toulouse Olympique still in some jeopardy due to the French government’s decision to prevent their Top 14 rugby union teams from crossing the channel for European competition, the most French rugby league we may see this year is the domestic Elite Championship.
Like last season, regional channel Vià Occitanie is broadcasting one live match each weekend this winter, with the games available not only on TV in France but also worldwide via their online stream. There are several familiar names in action: former Leeds stalwart Anthony Mullally is now playing for Carcassonne, with his ponytail and gawky gait intact; the shorts of former Wigan prop Eddy Pettybourne are tighter than ever at Villeneuve; Con Mika and John Boudebza, who both played for Hull Kingston Rovers, are also in the Elite; and the division is home to a load of former Catalan Dragons, from Mikael Simon to Lucas Albert.
“Udinese have a player named Kevin Lasagna,” notes Yuval Hyman. “Do you know of any other players with a tasty dish as a surname?”
Finding specific delicious meals in a footballer’s surname is no easy feat (or treat) but Tim Postins jumped at the opportunity to combine a few ingredients and serve up some choice dishes on the back of this question. “Adam Curry (currently on loan to Alfreton Town from Hull) would operate well with Declan Rice (West Ham 2016-present). And then there’s Mark Fish (ex-Bolton and Charlton) but only if Worthing’s striker James Lemon is putting the squeeze on. Plus the former Margate defender Paul Lamb who’d go well with a dash of Scott Mint(o). Or maybe you’d prefer a Patrick Berger with a portion of Jonas Fries?”
To some the Brooklyn Nets guard is an entitled conspiracy theorist. To others he is a superstar millionaire with a conscience
Midway through the feature film Uncle Drew, the titular character confronts the coach who lured him and his over-the-hill teammates out of retirement and into a basketball tournament at New York City’s famed Rucker Park. Feeling conned into cooperating for the love of the game while a $100,000 winner’s prize went purposefully unmentioned, Uncle Drew flips his totally convincing wig. “You just don’t get it, do you, Young Blood,” he says. “This game, the love I got for it – it’s all sacred to me.” Looking back, it was a hell of an acting job by Kyrie Irving.
It has been two weeks since the 28-year-old All-Star guard was last seen in uniform for the Brooklyn Nets. That’s counting the Barclays Center dates against Orlando last Saturday and against Milwaukee on Monday, which saw former league MVP James Harden back up his axis-tilting trade out of Houston with 66 points and 26 boards in a pair of Nets wins. “Personal reasons” was the line Irving offered up as cover for his extended leave, which ended on Tuesday. And in these quote-unquote unprecedented times, only a monster would have thought to challenge him on it. Or at least that was until a maskless Irving was caught on video celebrating his sister’s birthday at a packed New Jersey nightclub last week.
The former Manchester United player will take the reins at a club establishing itself on the field, and grappling with challenges off it
On Monday morning, Inter Miami announced that Phil Neville would step down from his role as manager of the England women’s team to take the helm at the MLS club. The club, co-owned by Neville’s former teammate David Beckham, played their first season in MLS amid the tumultuous backdrop of 2020, and will look to Neville to turn the team into a force to be reckoned with in the seemingly ever-expanding league.
In his first statement as Miami manager, Neville described Inter as a “very young club with a lot of promise and upside”. But if he expects his new job to be all beach days and sunshine, he is in for a shock.
Action brought by sailor Sofia Bekatorou likely to end patriarchal country’s taboo on discussing treatment of women
When the Olympic gold medallist Sofia Bekatorou appears before a public prosecutor on Wednesday to reveal the sexual abuse she allegedly endured at the hands of a senior sport official, all of Greece will be watching.
For the sailing champion who shot to fame in the 2004 Athens Olympics, the court proceedings will mark the official end of the fear she says has kept her silent for more than two decades. As she paves the way for more women to speak out, she will lift the veil on a subject considered so taboo in Greece it was never previously aired in public.
Paine’s tactics during lost series have been questioned
Wicketkeeper turns focus to upcoming South Africa tour
Tim Paine is looking no further ahead than a tour of South Africa but feels confident he is the right man to lead Australia, after his team crashed to a 2-1 series defeat to India on Tuesday.
Australia’s star-studded attack failed to run through the tourists on day five of the series-deciding fourth Test, as was the case on day five of the drawn SCG Test. The shock loss to an inexperienced Indian XI, minus a stack of injured stars plus captain Virat Kohli, will ensure near-unprecedented scrutiny of Paine.
The Germany international was supposed to elevate the club when he joined from Real Madrid but he left with no fanfare
There was a first-day-of-school feeling around Arsenal’s training ground when their squad returned from the September 2013 international break. They had a star in their midst and the sense was one of genuine elation. Mesut Özil’s arrival was a show of intent quite out of keeping with the half-decade that preceded it: this seemed the turning of a page and, with that in mind, the players snapped and crackled their way through the morning’s drills.
“It was a complete buzz,” says a senior staff member from that time, who worked with Özil on a daily basis and saw him quickly forge instinctive understandings with fellow schemers such as Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky. “All of a sudden you get a big one coming in, and you felt something was happening again. You could see things forming. There was a real electricity among everyone; you felt something was coming.”
Fifth defeat in eight Premier League games for struggling side
‘There are players not playing as well as they should be’
Frank Lampard shrugged off questions about his managerial future after Chelsea were beaten 2-0 at Leicester, their fifth defeat in eight league matches.
“I can’t get caught up in what the reaction will be because I’d be sitting here all day concerned about it,” said Lampard of suggestions that time is running out for him to show improvement at Chelsea. “I’m not the only manager to be put under this pressure but the good thing for me is I’m good at handling pressure.”
Leicester climbed to the top of the Premier League by skilfully exposing the shortcomings of Chelsea. Frank Lampard was hardly thankful for the lesson, as this latest defeat, his team’s fifth in their last eight league matches, gives ammunition to the critics who insist he is not the manager to fulfil Chelsea’s grand ambitions. Calls for him to be replaced will intensify.
Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, can take pride in his team, who outwitted and outfought the visitors. Goals by Wilfred Ndidi and James Maddison earned a deserved win for the hosts.
The beauty of chaos is that it usually brings opportunity. With injury and illness taking their strain, Dan N’Lundulu struck to help Southampton into an FA Cup fourth round meeting with Arsenal on Saturday with his first goal for the club on his full debut before James Ward-Prowse sealed victory with a peach of a free-kick to deflate a spirited Shrewsbury Town of League One. For absent manager Steve Cotterill, watching on in hospital after spending last weekend in intensive care with coronavirus, it was a performance that would have filled him with pride.
N’Lundulu had impressed in Premier League cameos in recent weeks and took his goal superbly, skipping away from Scott Golbourne before powering in. Danny Ings, who has hit an impasse in contract negotiations over extending his Southampton stay, was among nine first-team players missing.
Nobody hires Sam Allardyce if they want fantasy football. They bring him in because of his ability to organise a defence and haul a struggling team away from the brink. Yet the numbers are starting to look grim for one of English football’s most renowned escapologists and unless West Brom eradicate their flaws at the back, this could prove to be one rescue mission beyond even his capabilities.
It felt desperate as West Brom slipped to another defeat. As Darnell Furlong cracked a late chance of an equaliser wide, Allardyce let out an anguished howl of desperation on the touchline. He knows his proud record of never being relegated from the Premier League is under serious threat. West Brom, who remain five points below Burnley in 17th place, have conceded 17 goals in six league games since he was appointed and there was little sign of them sorting out defensive flaws against West Ham, who twice exposed them with straightforward deliveries into the area.
Sorenstam and Gary Player were afforded recognition with the former’s appearance especially controversial given her recent appointment as the president of the International Golf Federation. That body, responsible for golf at the Olympics and Paralympics, has a stated aim of securing the “enjoyment of the rights and freedoms among its competitions and members without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” Sorenstam claims to have had “overwhelming support” from the IGF.
Some added incentive for Chelsea, should they require any. London rivals West Ham have just beaten West Brom 2-1, a result that sees the Hammers leapfrog them into seventh place. Chelsea need to win tonight to reclaim that spot on goal difference. Simon Burnton was watching that one; here’s how it unfolded in real time.
Brendan Rodgers speaks to Sky. “The team is in good form and we haven’t had to change it too much of late. But we know we will still need the squad this season, and it’ll be a really tough game tonight, and a quick turnaround in games, so we’ll definitely need the players on the bench. If you can be close to the top or at the top, it shows you deserve to be there and have been playing well. Tonight Chelsea are a talented team with good players, but we want to continue with our momentum. From an attacking perspective they look really strong, but we can play football as well. The players have shown real flexibility to play different games in different ways.”
Bath scheduled to play at Ashton Gate on 29 January
Club’s training ground closed after outbreak at club
Bath’s derby against Bristol at Ashton Gate on 29 January is in doubt after their players and staff were sent home on Tuesday to isolate after a number of positive tests at the club for Covid-19.
Bath’s training ground, Farleigh House, is closed for a deep clean and another round of testing will be conducted on Thursday ahead of the scheduled one next Monday. Bristol’s tests this week were all negative.
Head coach fired up after Australia’s series defeat by India
Silerwood hails Root’s captaincy after win over Sri Lanka
Chris Silverwood has hailed Joe Root’s ever-improving captaincy as England take aim at a fifth successive away Test victory, and admits he is already relishing the Ashes following Australia’s series defeat against India.
India pulled off a spectacular victory at the Gabba on Tuesday to clinch the series and Silverwood, when asked about Australia, said it is “always nice to see the opposition under pressure”.
“Every session we discovered a new hero,” he said of how an untested and inexperienced team, which had so little going for it, managed one of the greatest victories in Test cricket. “Every time we got hit, we stayed put and stood taller. We pushed the boundaries of belief to play fearless but not careless cricket.”
According to the Express & Star, the only way West Brom could prise Snodgrass from West Ham’s clammy grasp before this match was played was to agree that he wouldn’t play in it.
West Ham make one change to the team that beat Burnley, with Lanzini coming in and Fornals dropping to the bench.
West Brom bring back Johnstone in goal after a Covid-related absence and Gallagher after suspension, and drop Button and Snodgrass, whose unexpected and complete absence was presumably agreed before his move between the clubs earlier this month.
From one-down, without their captain and a host of first-choice players, India completed one of the great comebacks in one of the great Test series
There is nothing like the feeling after a classic Test series. There may be greater peaks of human joy or pleasure, but this is a high that fades into a particular satisfaction, elation dimming warmly within us like the spot of light that remains when turning off an old television.
It’s because of the amount of time and effort and energy invested, even from those of us who watch rather than play. We have lived that experience until the final payoff and in the great contests the payoff is immense.
Former Norway international assisted by Rhian Wilkinson
No decision on Team GB coach before end of February
England Women have appointed the former Norway midfielder Hege Riise as temporary manager after Phil Neville left to take over at Inter Miami.
Riise, who has been coaching successfully with LSK Kvinner in her homeland and had a spell on the staff of the United States women’s team, will be assisted by the former Canada international Rhian Wilkinson.
Jared Porter sent the uninvited images in 2016, when at Cubs
ESPN says texts ended with photo of ‘erect, naked penis’
The New York Mets have fired their general manager, Jared Porter, after he confirmed an ESPN story that he sent graphic, uninvited text messages and images to a female reporter in 2016 when he was working for the Chicago Cubs.
Porter sent dozens of texts to the woman, concluding with a picture of “an erect, naked penis”, according to the report. ESPN said it obtained a copy of the text history.
After a pair on debut, Douglas led Essex and England at cricket as well as winning Olympic boxing gold before his death at sea
A century ago England were in Australia, approaching the end of the third Test and on their way to the first 5-0 series whitewashing of their history. It was a grim time for the team, weakened as they inevitably had been by the ravages of the first world war, and they would not win a Test between their last pre-war visit to South Africa in 1914 and their first post-war trip there in 1923.
“It is obvious that cricket, like other games, has gone back a little as a result of the long period during which the war demanded the attention of so many men,” said their captain, Johnny Douglas, before they set off in 1920, though he still thought “that our prospects all around are very good indeed”.
Horse was ‘nobbled by an unidentified third party’
Charles Byrnes, one of Ireland’s most successful trainers, has had his licence suspended for six months by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s Referrals Committee after his horse Viking Hoard was nobbled before a race at Tramore in 2018, possibly on the orders of “an individual based in a distant part of the world [who is] associated with match fixing and associated betting in connection with other sports”.
Viking Hoard drifted from 4-1 to 8-1 before a handicap hurdle at Tramore on 18 October 2018, received a reminder from its jockey after jumping the first and was detached from the field when he was pulled up before jumping the seventh flight. A subsequent dope test showed high levels of the fast-acting sedative acepromazine (ACP) and its metabolites, suggesting it had been administered about two hours before the race.
The four-time Olympic gold medalist is attempting to fulfil his dream by winning the prestigious competition for his country
He has done it before. At the 2012 Olympics Ben Ainslie, favourite for the gold medal in the single-handed Finn class, lost the first six races to a Danish sailor. Starting his fightback, he accused the Dane and a Dutch sailor of ganging up on him. “They’ve made a mistake because I’m angry,” he said. “And they didn’t want to do that.”
Mild-mannered – shy even – on land, Ainslie could become something of a monster in a boat. In a nail-biting final race Britain’s greatest sailor just clinched gold. It was his fourth, to add to the silver he won as a 19-year-old in Atlanta.
The only South Asian Indian woman in the English professional game talks about her career and how it has helped her traumatised twin brother to speak again
“There were many times where I would go to games and of course it would be perceived that I was the physio or any role where I couldn’t possibly be the lead coach,” Manisha Tailor says as she remembers arriving at opposition grounds with her Queens Park Rangers boys’ academy teams. Tailor is now the lead foundation phase coach at QPR and she says that “being a South Asian Indian woman, and the only person of South Asian heritage, male or female, in this kind of full-time coaching role at any of the 92 clubs in English professional football is a testament to QPR”.
Yet, when she first began working as the head coach of the under-nine boys, the opposition automatically assumed she was the QPR physio. “Myself and my colleague had conversations about it,” Tailor says with a smile and a shrug. “We’d say: ‘How many times has this happened? Is it three in a row? We laugh about it but you have to be in a position to influence change. You need to be in a position where you have the qualifications – but you also need an opportunity to coach on a level playing field. I was given that at QPR but I know that there are other South Asian people, male and female, who have the qualifications to do my role. So why are so few people of colour, who have pro licences, getting opportunities to become head coaches?”
The Rugby Football Union celebrates its 150th birthday and the Six Nations champions will want to deliver a fitting tribute
Candle manufacturers in the Twickenham area have never had it so good. The Rugby Football Union, the oldest international rugby body in the world, is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its formation this year and the big birthday will be marked by the wearing of a special-edition vintage kit against Scotland early next month.
It was the Scots who provided the opposition for the first international fixture ever played, on the cricket field at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh on 27 March 1871, which also produced England’s first defeat. In those days games were played on a Monday and the teams consisted of 20 players apiece. Some things, though, never change: Scotland’s winning try was hotly disputed by their English opponents and two years later, in 1873, the visiting side cried foul when their boots were mysteriously mislaid by a local cobbler on the eve of the game.
The swimmer won gold medals for his country in Athens and Beijing. And then his patriotism took an ugly turn
Klete Keller was somebody, a two-time Olympic gold medallist who swam in three Games. Then he was nobody, aimless, penniless and reduced to sleeping in his car. Now he is “Person 1” in court documents, identified by the FBI as a participant in the storming of the US Capitol and charged with federal crimes.
Amid the militia gear and Maga paraphernalia on display during the 6 January riot at the heart of American government, footage shows a bearded man in the Rotunda who stands out for his height and his clothes. He wears an officially-branded jacket with a United States Olympic Team patch and USA on the left sleeve and the back.
The former rugby league great has launched a mental health campaign aiming to help people cope with life in lockdown
“Finding your purpose after retiring can be difficult,” says Jamie Peacock. The transition out of playing at the highest level is often challenging, something Peacock is not afraid to admit he experienced when his rugby league career ended in 2015. But whereas many players find direction in coaching or punditry, he has taken a different course.
Peacock, a winner of multiple Super League titles with Leeds and Bradford, as well as a former captain of Great Britain, is regarded as one of the toughest, most uncompromising players of his generation. It may come as a surprise, therefore, to learn the 43-year-old is now pioneering change as a mentor in mental health and positive wellbeing.
A freewheeling Rishabh Pant has stormed Australia’s Gabba fortress in record-breaking fashion, helping India snatch a three-wicket win to cap one of the greatest Test series of the modern era.
A stoic Cheteshwar Pujara refused to release India’s four-year hold of the Border-Gavaskar trophy on a dramatic final day of the four-Test series, weathering 211 balls and 10 body blows while denting Australia’s hopes of victory.
Neville exits after one World Cup semi-final, several outbursts and an arrogance not befitting a coach with such limited experience
After the longest of goodbyes the Phil Neville experiment is finally over. He leaves the England job not on the crest of a wave following major tournament success, or tail between legs having fallen short on the biggest of stages, but with a muted press release that sums up a muted and, dare we say it, tepid tenure.
As he leaves to become Inter Miami manager, five days short of his three-year anniversary, what to make of it all? There has been praise for aspects of the 43-year-old’s spell. His holistic approach and the big-game experience he had from his career as a player were perhaps his greatest strengths. His man-management was described as “world class” by his assistant Bev Priestman (who took charge of the Canada national team on 1 November last year) on the eve of England’s 2019 World Cup opener. She was backed by the right‑back Lucy Bronze, who said his relationship-building with players, fans and staff had helped England to “become a better team”.
Men’s matches will remain best of five sets, says Craig Tiley
Spanish tennis player Roberto Bautista Agut has likened Australian Open quarantine in Melbourne to being in prison and laid the blame solely with the Victorian government.
Frustration and confusion continues unabated in the build-up to the season’s first major, starting on 8 February, with some 72 players and staffers in lockdown in Melbourne following six positive Covid-19 cases among the entourages arriving to Australia on 17 charter flights in recent days.
17th over: India 38-1 (Gill 29, Pujara 2) Gill looks to back-cut Starc behind point but is denied runs by Green in the gully. Good stop. The batsman settles for a single off his pads. Pujara extends his ratio to one scoring shot in 28 balls.
16th over: India 37-1 (Gill 28, Pujara 2) Quite the shot from Shubman Gill, striding forward to an overpitched ball and lacing it through the covers for four! Labuschagne puts in a Tour de France of a chase but can’t overhaul it before the cobbles. Green fixes his length but Gill is feeling good now, and drives off the back foot regardless to pick up three through cover point.
“How do you get Pujara out?” asks Ruth Purdue. “For me he personifies grinding down bowlers. An old school player who you’d love to have in your team but hate to play against.”
Defender turns down approaches from Liverpool and PSG
Mario Mandzukic set to return to Europe with Milan
David Alaba has reached an agreement to join Real Madrid on a free transfer in the summer, bringing to an end an 13-year spell at Bayern Munich. The defender will sign a four-year deal with the Spanish champions in the next few weeks.
The Austrian’s dream has always been to play for Real Madrid and he will go there having turned down approaches from, among others, Liverpool and PSG. Bayern have made three separate contract extension offers but the player had made his mind up and wanted a new challenge.
The event is adding a seventh race to its daily card but with racing’s future so uncertain, more ambition would be welcome
There might be a crusty traditionalist or two who will see the permanent addition of a seventh race to the Royal Ascot daily card as a sign of the end times for the Turf. The fact that all five of the races that will now become fixtures on the schedule are handicaps could also prompt a few complaints that the bookmakers will be the biggest supporters of the move.
The point on which everyone should focus above all, however, is that racing is now two months away from an entire year with 99.5% of its meetings behind closed doors, with no more than 2,500 spectators per day at any of the handful of racecourses where paying punters actually made it past the door.
Manager says tough times ahead as youngsters lack consistency
Danny Drinkwater completes loan move to Turkey’s Kasimpasa
Frank Lampard has warned there could be tough times ahead for Chelsea in attack, saying that his young forwards remain unable to replicate the consistency of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard.
Although Chelsea returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Fulham on Saturday, they lacked creativity despite playing the entire second half against 10 men. Mason Mount’s winner arrived late and there was time for Timo Werner to miss a fine chance, extending the £47m forward’s goalless run in the Premier League to 10 games.
This turned into the kind of Emirates Stadium evening that had become alien to Arsenal: a regulation win, obliging opponents and a decisive contribution from their talisman. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had not scored twice in a game since the FA Cup final but put that right in the second half, either side of a characteristically adept strike from Bukayo Saka. It means Arsenal can taste what, on recent rations, is the rarified air of the top half. Newcastle were ultimately overwhelmed and must wait to see the fruit of Steve Bruce’s much-trailed change in approach.