Tag Archives: clarke

Australia announce Ashes squad: Brad Haddin recalled as Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus miss out

Veteran Haddin recalled as Australia announce 16-man squad heading to England in bid to win back the Ashes

PUBLISHED:

02:22 GMT, 24 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:30 GMT, 24 April 2013

Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin has been named as Australia vice-captain for the upcoming Ashes series in England.

The 35-year-old replaces Shane Watson, who stepped down as Michael Clarke's deputy after the troubled tour on India but remains part of the 16-man squad.

National selector John Inverarity said: 'We feel it's important to have a senior, seasoned player support Michael at this time.

Return the Urn: Michael Clarke (centre), Steve Waugh (left) and Mark Taylor before today's squad unveiling

Return the Urn: Michael Clarke (centre), Steve Waugh (left) and Mark Taylor before today's squad unveiling

Key dates

June 26-29: v Somerset

July 2-5: v Worcs

July 10-14: 1st Test, Trent Bridge

July 18-22: 2nd Test, Lord's

July 26-28: v Sussex

August 1-5: 3rd Test, Old Trafford

August 9-13: 4th Test, Durham

August 16-17: v Northants

August 21-25: 5th Test, The Oval

'When Shane Watson advised of his
decision to stand down, the NSP (national selection panel) viewed Brad
as the exceptional candidate to step into this leadership void.'

Matthew Wade, who has been Australia's first-choice wicketkeeper of late, will also travel to England.

'Matthew Wade is a very good cricketer and remains central to our plans for the future,' Inverarity added.

Left-arm seamer James Faulkner is the only uncapped player to be named, with Mitchell Johnson missing out.

Chris Rogers, the 35-year-old batsman
who has just one Test cap to his name, also makes the squad and seamer
Ryan Harris returns.

'Chris Rogers is a hardened
first-class cricketer and has been given a deserved opportunity on the
back of sustained run-scoring in both Australia and England over many
seasons,' said Inverarity.

Eyes on the prize: Brad Haddin has been recalled to the Australia squad to tour England this summer

Eyes on the prize: Brad Haddin has been recalled to the Australia squad to tour England this summer

'James Faulkner has also been given
an opportunity after impressing in recent months as an all-rounder. His
performance in last month's Bupa Sheffield Shield final was compelling
and he has now produced three consistently good seasons with the ball at
Shield level for Tasmania.

'He is a player who is seldom out of the game for long. He takes wickets, forms partnerships and makes valuable runs.

'Ryan Harris has regained fitness and
it is great to have such a very highly regarded and well-performed pace
bowler back in the mix.'

Fawad Ahmed, the Pakistan-born
leg-spinner who has not yet received his Australian passport, has not
been included, leaving Nathan Lyon as the only spinner in the 16.

Ahmed also misses out on the 14-man
Australia A squad to tour the British Isles ahead of the Ashes, which
contains a number of players from the senior squad including Haddin, who
will captain the side, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Harris, Jackson
Bird and Nathan Lyon.

Steven Smith, who misses out on a
place in the Ashes squad despite some creditable performances in India,
is vice-captain of the A side.

Smith is one of five men to drop out
from the India squad – along with Johnson, Moises Henriques, Xavier
Doherty and Glenn Maxwell – which slipped to a 4-0 series defeat amid
high-profile problems with discipline.

Revenge: England were convincing 3-1 series winners in the 2010-11 series

Revenge: England were convincing 3-1 series winners in the 2010-11 series

Inverarity added: 'The tour to India was very demanding and a learning experience for all.

'The result was unacceptable and the
players, coaches, support staff and NSP are smarting from those
performances and are galvanised to ensure that we play tough,
competitive cricket throughout the Ashes.'

The first Ashes Test begins at Trent
Bridge on July 10, with two tour matches before that, while Australia A
will take on Scotland, Ireland and Gloucestershire, with the first match
getting under way in Edinburgh on June 7.

Lawrence Booth, Sportsmail cricket writer and editor of Wisden, gives a run down on the Australian squad heading to England for the Ashes series this summer

Michael Clarke

MICHAEL CLARKE (c)
AGE: 32
CAPS: 92
VERDICT: World cricket's in-form batsman in 2012, the captain will need to score three hundreds to give Australia a chance.

Brad Haddin

BRAD HADDIN (vc)
AGE: 35
CAPS: 44
VERDICT: Ousted by Wade behind the stumps, he's a spiky character who England would rather not have to deal with.

JACKSON BIRD

JACKSON BIRD
AGE: 26
CAPS: 2
VERDICT: Seam bowler who is not particularly fast but his ability to swing the ball both ways has proven very successful in domestic cricket.

Ed Cowan

ED COWAN
AGE: 30
CAPS: 17
VERDICT: Steady, cerebral left-handed opener, but unlikely to frighten the England attack.

Phillip Hughes

PHILLIP HUGHES
AGE: 24
CAPS: 24
VERDICT: England have exploited his vulnerability outside off stump in the past – expect more of the same, plus a peppering of short stuff.

David Warner

DAVID WARNER
AGE: 26
CAPS: 19
VERDICT: Another left-handed opener, he has the potential to destroy the opposition, but inconsistent at Test level. Jimmy Anderson will fancy swinging the ball into him.

Urn the victory: Former England captain Andrew Strauss led Eng;and to victory in the last series

Urn the victory: Former England captain Andrew Strauss led Eng;and to victory in the last series

James Faulkner

JAMES FAULKNER
AGE: 22
CAPS: 0
VERDICT: A left-arm seamer and hard-hitting batsman, the 22-year-old Faulkner is an outsider for a Test spot – but look out for him in the shorter stuff.

USMAN

USMAN KHAWAJA
AGE: 26
CAPS: 6
VERDICT: Left-handed top order batsman who was one of the four players dropped ahead of the third Test in India following a breach of discipline.

Shane Watson

SHANE WATSON
AGE: 31
CAPS: 41
VERDICT: Averaging only 25 since the start of 2011, he needs a big series to prove he was right to quit the vice-captaincy. Could do with bowling too.

Matthew Wade

MATTHEW WADE
AGE: 25
CAPS: 12
VERDICT: His batting can be punchy, but his glovework is shaky. And he's a place too high at No 6.

Nathan Lyon

NATHAN LYON
AGE: 25
CAPS: 22
VERDICT: Australia's first-choice spinner is tidy but unthreatening, and his confidence was knocked recently when he was dropped in India.

Ryan Harris

RYAN HARRIS
AGE: 33
CAPS: 12
VERDICT: Fast and hostile, as he showed when England lost at Perth in 2010-11. Only trouble is, he's rarely fit.

Home of cricket: The first Test in the five match series will take place at Lord's in north London

Home of cricket: The first Test in the five match series will take place at Lord's in north London

cHRIS rOGERS

CHRIS ROGERS
AGE: 35
CAPS: 1
VERDICT: Another left handed top order batsman whose one and only cap came against India in 2008. Played country cricket so is used to English conditions.

James Pattinson

JAMES PATTINSON
AGE: 22
CAPS: 10
VERDICT: Young, hungry, angry and highly talented. He will be the bowler England's batsmen fear most.

Rain on their parade: The Aussies will be hoping they have their own reasons to celebrate on English soil

Rain on their parade: The Aussies will be hoping they have their own Sprinkler Dance on English soil

Peter Siddle

PETER SIDDLE
AGE: 28
CAPS: 41
VERDICT: The workhorse of Australia's seam attack, he has improved hugely over the last year. But will he be bowled into the ground

Mitchell Starc

MITCHELL STARC
AGE: 23
CAPS: 9
VERDICT: Tall left-arm seamer who could be Australia's best chance of keeping Alastair Cook quiet. Can bat a bit too.

Huddersfield 2 Middlesbrough 1 – match report: Danny Ward scores late winner to complete comeback

Huddersfield 2 Middlesbrough 1: Ward's late show completes dramatic comeback

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

23:04 GMT, 5 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:12 GMT, 6 March 2013

Mark Robins could hardly have done more to engineer his first home win as Huddersfield manager after two of his second-half substitutes inspired a dramatic late turnaround at a mist-shrouded John Smith’s Stadium last night.

Middlesbrough looked primed to add a desperately needed three points to their faltering promotion campaign when Scott McDonald slid home a Sammy Ameobi cross at the far post just 12 minutes from time.

But Alan Lee equalised with his first touch, just seconds after going on in the 86th minute, and fellow substitute Danny Ward crowned a stunning fightback with a brilliant winner in stoppage time.

Hero: Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies celebrates with Danny Ward, who scored the winning goal

Hero: Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies celebrates with Danny Ward, who scored the winning goal

MATCH FACTS

Huddersfield: Smithies, Hunt, Peter Clarke, Gerrard (Wallace 66), Dixon, Clayton, Gobern, Norwood (Lee 84), Danns, Novak, Robinson (Ward 78).

Subs Not Used: Bennett, Arfield, Atkinson, Lynch.

Goals: Lee 86, Ward 90.

Middlesbrough: Steele, Smallwood (Rhys Williams 59), McManus, Hines, Friend, Leadbitter, Bailey, McEachran (Ledesma 58), McDonald, Ameobi, Miller (Main 68).

Subs Not Used: Leutwiler, Carayol, Haroun, Emnes.

Booked: Smallwood, Ledesma.

Goals: McDonald 78.

Att: 12,705

Ref: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).

SEE THE LIVE CHAMPIONSHIP TABLE HERE

‘I was proud of my players, and it is more pleasing than ever when substitutions come off,’ said Robins.

‘Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but it showed how the lads on the bench have been champing at the bit to get on.

‘That was the best we’ve played in my time here, and it has to give the players confidence to know they can pass the ball on what was a cabbage patch of a pitch.’

After squandering several clear chances, and being denied a penalty when Middlesbrough striker Ameobi poleaxed Theo Robinson with a kick in the face as he tried to clear, Huddersfield looked like paying the price when McDonald scored.

In retaliation, Robins sent on Lee and his big front-runner promptly pounced on a Peter Clarke header, from a right-wing corner, and toe-ended it past Boro keeper Jason Steele from point-blank range.

There was nothing scrappy about Ward’s winner as, just 12 minutes after going on, he gained possession on the right and cut inside before hammering a left-foot drive beyond Steele.

On course: Scott McDonald gave Middlesbrough the lead in the 78th minute

On course: Scott McDonald gave Middlesbrough the lead in the 78th minute

Reflecting on his side’s eighth
defeat in 11 games, Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray said: ‘When you
go in front late on, in a drab game low on quality, you hope you are
going to see it out.

‘The equaliser was particularly
disappointing because you expect your big players to get the first
contact when a corner comes in.

‘They made changes near the end to try to get back into it, but you have to adapt and cope with that.’

Adverse weather: The match was played under heavy fog at the John Smith's Stadium

Adverse weather: The match was played under heavy fog at the John Smith's Stadium

Fog

India in control of second test with Australia after Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar take three wickets each

India in control as Jadeja and Kumar blow Australia away in Hyderabad

PUBLISHED:

12:16 GMT, 2 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:16 GMT, 2 March 2013

India are in control of the second Test against Australia, who made 237 for nine declared in Hyderabad.

Part-time spinner Ravindra Jadeja picked up three wickets, while in his second Test Bhuvneshwar Kumar also took three, with Michael Clarke's 91 keeping the Australian innings together.

The visitors once again turned to their skipper after slumping to 63 for four, with the 31-year-old putting on 145 with Matthew Wade for the fifth wicket.

Three wickets: India's Ravindra Jadeja (left) had Australia in a spin on the first day of the second test in Hyderabad

Three wickets: India's Ravindra Jadeja (left) had Australia in a spin on the first day of the second test in Hyderabad

Second Test, Hyderabad

Australia first innings
237 for 9 declared (85.0 overs)
Clarke 91, Wade 62
B Kumar 3-53, Jadeja 3-33

India first innings
5-0 (3.0 overs)

However after Wade went for 62, the lower order failed to fire as Australia lost their final four wickets for just 29 runs.

And with little chance of numbers 10 and 11 James Pattinson and Xavier Doherty adding to the total Clarke brought them in so his bowlers could take advantage of conditions for the final three overs of the day.

However India were untroubled and finished five without loss.

Australia made two changes from the side which lost the opening match in Chennai with Glenn Maxwell making his Test debut coming in for Mitchell Starc, while Xavier Doherty replaced Nathan Lyon. The home side were unchanged.

After the visitors won the toss, Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled David Warner (six) with a delivery which cut back into the left-hander, then trapped Ed Cowan (four) lbw with a ball which may have pitched outside leg stump.

That left Australia 15 for two, with Phil Hughes and Shane Watson at the crease.

The
pair effected a mini-recovery, with the left-hander playing some
eye-catching late drives off the back foot, but Watson (23) then fell
lbw attempting to pull a ball which kept a little low with the score on
57.

Hughes (19) followed,
caught behind at the second attempt by Mahendra Singh Dhoni off the
bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin, before Wade and Clarke began the
Australian recovery.

Clarke looked comfortable at the crease, with a well-placed clip for four between two fielders indicative of his current form.

Wade
was less fluid, but equally determined, digging in at one end while his
skipper totted up the runs at the other as they moved Australia to 129
for four midway through the afternoon session.

Important innings: A 91 from captain Michael Clarke saved Australia from a humiliating total

Important innings: A 91 from captain Michael Clarke saved Australia from a humiliating total

Wade's confidence grew and when new bowler Jadeja came on to bowl, the wicketkeeper had no problem in hitting him back over his head for four.

After facing 95 balls, Clarke brought up his 26th Test half century with a single in the 48th over, edging his side closer towards 150.

On 52 India missed their best opportunity to dismiss Clarke as the skipper inside edged on his pad with the ball dropping to a diving Cheteshwar Pujara who got his fingers under the ball, but could not hang on.

Wade reached his half-century in the 55th over as Australia batted themselves back into the game.

Australia started the third session much as they ended the second, as the duo moved the score past 200 in the 65th over.

They could add just eight however before the hosts made a much-needed breakthrough. Wade cut one which was possibly too close to his body and was caught by Kumar at point for a 116-ball 62.

A sixth wicket did fall when Jadeja got one to turn away from Moises Henriques, who, playing to leg, missed the ball completely as it clipped the top of the stumps.

At 217 for six and with debutant Maxwell at the crease, the pressure once again was on Clarke.

He continued to bat sensibly, but his partner at the other end would make just 13 before he edged to Dhoni behind the stumps.

Peter Siddle was then soon walking back to the pavilion as he was caught on the crease by a low one from Harbhajan Singh for a 14-ball duck, leaving the visitors 236 for eight.

Clarke finally departed looking to up the rate with the tail, swinging across the line to Jadeja whose delivery kept low and hit the stumps.

India had little to worry about for the final three overs, with a Virender Sehwag boundary through gully off Siddle the highlight.

Eden Hazard ball boy kick charge shows the FA as hypocrites – Martin Samuel

A booking for one but a charge for the other. — so less than a year ago — Oxford United played at home to Swindon Town in League Two. This is the biggest match of Oxford’s season, for those not up on lower-league rivalries or the geography of middle England. The A420 derby might not enjoy the same prestige as its equivalents in Manchester or Liverpool, but if you have a season ticket at the Kassam Stadium, it’s the big one. There was a crowd of almost 12,000 and tempers ran high.

Oxford had James Constable sent off early, but were leading through goals by Asa Hall and Oli Johnson, when Matt Ritchie, a right winger voted League Two Player of the Year last season, became involved with a slow-moving ball boy, identified as Aidan Hawtin, 16 at the time, and on Oxford’s books as a youth player.

A report from Mark Edwards, sports editor of the Oxford Mail, and published on March 5, explains what happened next: ‘Acting as a ball boy in front of the Oxford Mail stand, Hawtin was grabbed and kicked by Matt Ritchie after the Swindon man felt Hawtin was taking too long to return the ball to goalkeeper Ryan Clarke. “He tried to grab the ball off me and kicked me as well,” Hawtin said. The Oxford Mail stand gave him a huge ovation for his efforts, which saw Ritchie booked for his antics. The Swindon man did apologise to Hawtin at the final whistle, however.’ Sound familiar

Long spell on the sidelines The FA's independent regulatory commission could increase Hazard's three-match ban

Long spell on the sidelines The FA's independent regulatory commission could extend Hazard's ban

A Facebook group catchily named ‘Matt Ritchie is a disgrace’ claimed that Hawtin was ‘grabbed round the throat and pushed’ and there was talk of a complaint to the police. Believing that the punishment should be greater, Myles Francis, an angry Oxford fan, wrote to the FA asking what action would be taken against Ritchie.

Knowing what we know of the FA’s take on Hazard, Ritchie’s yellow card would also have been deemed insufficient, one imagines. The FA made a direct link in their statement between Hazard’s actions and the offence of violent conduct and, coincidentally, that was among the points raised by Francis in his letter.

He wrote: ‘I would be interested to know for what offence Ritchie was cautioned by Mr Salisbury. To my mind, the altercation with the ball boy was a clear case of violent conduct. Violent conduct is defined in Law 12 as “using excessive force or brutality against a team-mate, spectator, match official or any other person”. Law 12 goes on to say that a player guilty of an offence of violent conduct must be sent off [my emphasis].’

More from Martin Samuel…

This Big Apple school trip is a rotten idea
24/01/13

Beware of the monster: Demolition job from gunslinger Djokovic with straight-sets demolition of Ferrer
24/01/13

Martin Samuel: WANTED! A coach who can stop Abramovich from looking a mug
22/01/13

Martin Samuel: We know Moyes is ambitious, so why on earth would he choose Chelsea
20/01/13

Martin Samuel: Armstrong appeared throughout with no emotion or great remorse… he is a flint-hearted cheat!
19/01/13

Who wants to be the office dogsbody
17/01/13

Martin Samuel: Get off that hobby horse, Judd. You're paid what you deserve for potting balls for a living
15/01/13

EXCLUSIVE: Revealed… Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs join forces to shackle lavish spending by rivals Man City and Chelsea
14/01/13

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

And this was the FA response. ‘Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. The FA have investigated and liaised with Oxford United on this matter. The player was cautioned by the referee for the incident and has subsequently apologised to the satisfaction of the ball boy and Oxford United.’ So much for the hard line.

Faced with near identical transgressions — in both cases the referee saw the incident and administered the punishment he believed fit, in both cases the player apologised and in both there is evidence to suggest that the ball boy was carrying out his duty to the benefit of the home team only — the FA behaved in contradictory ways.

They are now rigorously pursuing Hazard, having completely ignored Ritchie. The letter announcing that no further action would be taken against the Swindon player came from Gary Stonehouse, who is a member of the FA communications team. He signed off on behalf of customer relations.

‘Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you: he really is an idiot,’ President Firefly tells Freedonia’s Cabinet.

But this is not true in Stonehouse’s case. Stonehouse is not to blame for the inconsistency. He is a lowly employee who would no doubt have taken guidance from his superiors over Ritchie. The communications department do not get to make judgment calls on serious disciplinary matters.

Stonehouse would have asked a suitable senior, or the correct department, and would then have mouthed that response. He could not have imagined, either, that within a calendar year those superiors would hang him out to dry by adopting an entirely contradictory stance — just because Hazard’s transgression attracted headlines and Ritchie’s went unnoticed beyond that day’s crowd of 11,825.

Not exactly a kickabout in the park though, was it Not exactly a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing.

Anyway, considering some of the punishments meted out to amateur footballers playing in front of the proverbial two men and a dog, it would be highly disingenuous of the FA to claim that a kick is less of a kick if only 11,000 people see it. Such a stance would be indefensibly hypocritical. Stonehouse’s reply was also the standard FA fudge, hiding behind the dubious excuse that because the referee saw the incident and ruled on it, no further action would be appropriate.

Funny how that does not apply in Hazard’s case.

When Roy Keane almost snapped Alf Inge Haaland in two during the Manchester derby, a foul that still looms large in the memory such was its studied viciousness, there could be no additional action against the Manchester United player because referee David Elleray brandished a red card. In Hazard’s case, this no longer applies. More confusion, more inconsistency, more regulation on the hoof.

No extended ban: Roy Keane was sent off for this appalling tackle on Alf Inge Haaland

No extended ban: Roy Keane was sent off for this appalling tackle on Alf Inge Haaland

It wasn’t so long ago that the FA self-servingly appealed a lengthy UEFA ban for violent conduct because it would free up Wayne Rooney to play in the European Championship finals. Now they want to come over all masterful, the guardians of morality. They should pick a face, and wear it.

Chelsea are aware of the Ritchie precedent and may use it in defence of Hazard. At the very least, they believe its existence is an embarrassment and a point of weakness for the FA. Yet has that bothered them in the past

This is an organisation who speak proudly, some might say shamelessly, of their high conviction rate in disciplinary matters, having devised a system in which the prosecution appoints the independent judges and is therefore responsible for covering their time and expenses. Such a system creates an obvious conflict of interest.

On disciplinary matters, the FA act like the Mounties, always getting their man. But that is not so hard when the same body get to play judge and jury, and write the rulebook.

Their problem is that we now live in an age where even the smallest details exist in the public domain and a two-minute internet search can throw up records, precedents and case histories that were once filed and helpfully forgotten. You have got to be good to preside over sport these days because an Oxford fan with time on his hands and a computer can post damning correspondence on a forum that is picked up and circulated like wildfire.

At which point, a body as morally flexible as the FA are likely to be asked how their populist posturing over Hazard can be justified when less than a year ago, an identical incident was deemed worthy of no more than a yellow card, an apology and a handshake.

President Firefly would certainly know how to administer justice in these circumstances. ‘I got a good mind to join a club — and beat you over the head with it.’

VIDEO: How to be a leader… Groucho Marx style

Veron proves Fergie is not always right

Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, regards some of those criticising his goalkeeper David de Gea as idiots. He is entitled to his opinion. It is not as if anyone is going to score many points disputing the merit of professional footballers with the greatest manager in the world.

One cannot help but recall, though, that the last time he used this phrase was over criticism of Juan Sebastian Veron’s performances for United. Remind us what happened there again

Expensive mistake: Juan Sebastian Veron cost Manchester United 28m - he was sold to Chelsea for 15m

Expensive mistake: Juan Sebastian Veron cost Manchester United 28m – he was sold to Chelsea for 15m

And while we’re at it…

It was a wonderful weekend in the FA Cup. Luton Town’s victory is among the greatest upsets of the modern era, while the results for Oldham Athletic, Milton Keynes Dons, Leeds United and Brentford were stunning achievements. Arsenal also defeated Brighton and Hove Albion in a five-goal thriller.

Yet live on ITV on Saturday, Stoke City played Manchester City and Fulham travelled to Manchester United. The richer teams won. Ho, and indeed, hum.

No imagination, some people, when it comes to Cup football. If City had drawn United then, yes, show a glorified Premier League game. But these were not even particularly good replica league fixtures. They would not have been the marquee match on any casual Saturday.

When United went a goal up after three minutes through Ryan Giggs, their tie with Fulham was dead and Stoke’s defeat was eminently forgettable. Some think the Cup has lost its magic, yet the earliest stages of the competition rarely fail to delight. It is football’s television masters that have grown stale.

The magic of the Cup: Luton's stunning victory at Carrow Road was one of the great giant-killings

The magic of the Cup: Luton's stunning victory at Carrow Road was one of the great giant-killings

Dual role: Sky pundit and England coach Gary Neville

Dual role: Sky pundit and England coach Gary Neville

Crunch time to come for Neville

Few pundits have a higher approval rating than Gary Neville. Fans who thought they would hate him on Sky love him instead for his honest, straight-shooting appraisals. Falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson over David de Gea will only enhance his reputation. Richard Keys could not have picked a worse week to suggest Neville was being operated, remotely, from inside Old Trafford.

Keys did make one valid point, though. Crunch time for Neville, Sky and the Football Association is yet to come. Last weekend, Neville stated quite explicitly that Tottenham Hotspur player Clint Dempsey should have gone down under pressure from a Patrice Evra challenge in the penalty area, rather than staying on his feet. As Roy Hodgson’s England regime remains inexplicably on honeymoon, the comment was ignored.

There will come a time, however, when results are not good and some are looking to make mischief for Hodgson. At which point ENGLAND COACH TELLS PLAYERS TO CHEAT would be quite a lively story. Under pressure.

That is when Neville’s hope of riding both horses to the finish line will be tested, not before.

West Brom reject QPR"s bid for Jonas Olsson

Blow for Redknapp as Baggies reject QPR's 5m bid for Olsson

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

08:15 GMT, 10 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:59 GMT, 10 January 2013

West Brom have rejected a bid from QPR – believed to be around 5million – for defender Jonas Olsson.

Olsson only signed a new four-year contract with the Baggies in October.
The Swedish international is reported to be keen on a move to London for family reasons, but Albion have turned down the offer from Rangers.

Top target: Jonas Olsson is the man Harry Redkapp wants to sign

Top target: Jonas Olsson is the man Harry Redkapp wants to sign

Olsson is also understood to have reservations about any potential move to Loftus Road given their precarious position in the Barclays Premier League.

In any case, Baggies manager Steve Clarke made it clear last week he has no desire to let Olsson go during the January transfer window – and that stance has not altered.

Clarke said: 'Why would I expect to lose Jonas in January January is the silly season.

Looking to strengthen: Harry Redknapp wants to add to his defence

Looking to strengthen: Harry Redknapp wants to add to his defence

'We can hang on to every single player. We don't have to sell anybody.'
Olsson has also been linked with Arsenal, amidst speculation he has a get-out clause in the contract he signed three months ago.

The 29-year-old has been one of Albion's key performers since joining them four and a half years ago.

His form for the Baggies has also led to him becoming a regular for his country.

Football betting guide for Jan 1-2 2013

THE BETTING SLIP: Top tips and ones to watch in our gambling guide for the New Year fixtures

|

UPDATED:

16:26 GMT, 31 December 2012

The Premier League produced 41 goals over two thrilling days at the weekend and if QPR had managed to make it 42 we would have finished 2012 on a high.

But they didn't. So, we didn't.

Goals Galore, as the 'both teams to score' bet is known with some bookies, was well named for punters who follow the English top flight.

Ruinous: Adel Taarabt and his team-mates failed to score

Ruinous: Adel Taarabt and his team-mates failed to score

But from over here, the Hoops drawing a
blank against Liverpool was hard to watch after Norwich, Manchester
City, Arsenal, Newcastle, Tottenham, Sunderland,

Everton and Chelsea had all scored and the Reds broke the deadlock early doors at Loftus Road.

A goal for Harry Redknapp's side would
have completed a five-timer at around 14/1 and provided a tidy wee sum
for the first assault of 2013.

The attack is still on though, and who better to lead it than the Gunners.

Arsenal have hardly put a foot wrong
since their Capital One Cup calamity against Bradford and put seven past
Newcastle on Saturday evening.

Theo Walcott helped himself to a
treble and his former club Southampton (who shared six goals with Stoke)
will not be looking forward to his return to the south coast.

Homecoming: Theo Walcott (left) is in fine fettle and Saints need to watch out

Homecoming: Theo Walcott (left) is in fine fettle and Saints need to watch out

Saints have lost all six matches against top-seven opponents and were crushed 6-1 at the Emirates earlier in the season.

The 8/11 (Ladbrokes) on an away win should be snapped up.

West Brom (21/20) also jump off the page against a Fulham side with just one win in their last 12 Premier League fixtures.

Baggies manager Steve Clarke was
fairly satisfied with the performance if not the result as his team lost
2-0 against table-topping Manchester United at Old Trafford and the
same effort again should be enough to see off the Cottagers.

Add in Crystal Palace (10/11) at home
to Wolves and Leicester (8/15) against Huddersfield and a tenner on the
four returns just over 100.

Not too bad: Although West Brom lost to United, they should beat Fulham

Not too bad: Although West Brom lost to United, they should beat Fulham

Goals galore… again

'Both teams to score' is THE popular bet in shops and online and I'm not letting QPR put me off.

Four to give you a run for your money on Tuesday and Wednesday are Swansea v Aston Villa (the Welshmen will win this but Paul Lambert's youngsters can't go another game without finding the net), West Ham v Norwich, Newcastle v Everton and St Mirren v Kilmarnock.

All four correct pays just under 8/1 with Coral.

Three is the magic number

Theo Walcott took the match ball home with him after his hat-trick downed the Magpies on Saturday and he is 33/1 (widely available) to do the same to his old employers at St Mary's.

Walcott is 11/2 with bet365 for the opener and 11/8 with most firms to score at any time.

Sir Alex Ferguson is as hungry as ever at 71

'Grumpy Scot' Ferguson won't go quietly from United… and he's proving to be as hungry as ever at the age of 71

|

UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 30 December 2012

Steve Clarke called him 'a typical grumpy Scot'. One half of Ant and Dec accused him of losing the plot. Others will be less kind. As he turns 71 on Monday, Sir Alex Ferguson couldn't care less.

Manchester United are top of the Barclays Premier League and halfway towards reclaiming the title. They head for Wigan on Monday seven points clear of Manchester City and with their manager in the rudest of health.

Referee Mike Dean and his assistants discovered that to their cost on Boxing Day. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew complained and Ferguson responded by not only belittling Pardew but the whole of Tyneside just for the hell of it.

Rant: Sir Alex Ferguson labelled Newcastle a 'wee club' after blasting officials at Old Trafford

Rant: Sir Alex Ferguson labelled Newcastle a 'wee club' after blasting officials at Old Trafford

Fergie is at that age when you no longer have to care. Anyone who thought he would let the furore over his 'wee club in the North East' comment get in the way of securing another win for his team was fooling themselves.

Granted, the United boss was conspicuous by his absence on the touchline for 70 minutes of Saturday's 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.

Rarely had he played such a minor role at his Theatre of Dreams, preferring to let assistant Mike Phelan venture occasionally into the technical area. But when United needed him, when the flow of the game changed and West Brom began to press for an equaliser, Ferguson couldn't help himself.

He stepped forth into the wind and rain to rally his players and turn up the heat on referee Jon Moss and his assistants.

At one point, as he berated Andy Garratt for awarding a throw-in against his team, the linesman skipped sideways down the touchline towards him and patted Ferguson playfully on the back without taking his eyes off the game.

The manager's scowl immediately dissolved into a smile. It was a wonderful moment. For all that Ferguson undoubtedly got wrong with his behaviour on Boxing Day, it was a reminder that good man-management can defuse the most heated situation.

Others are less prepared to tolerate Fergie's outbursts. TV celebrity and Newcastle fan Declan Donnelly took to Twitter to condemn what happened last week.

Gentle side: Ferguson was laughing before his team's victory over West Brom

Stern: Ferguson stands in front of fourth official Phil Dowd

Stern: Ferguson stands in front of fourth official Phil Dowd (right) and shows his gentler side (left)

Passion: Ferguson, who turns 71 on Monday, is as hungry for success as he ever has been

Passion: Ferguson, who turns 71 on Monday, is as hungry for success as he ever has been

Escaped: Ferguson wasn't punished by the FA for ranting at the linesman and referee

Escaped: Ferguson wasn't punished by the FA for ranting at the linesman and referee

Escaped: Ferguson wasn't punished by the FA for ranting at the linesman and referee

'Has anyone seen his plot' asked Dec. 'He seems to have lost it. Majorly. Lost huge respect for him, both for his actions during and words after the #nufc game…the beginning of the end methinks.'

West Brom boss Clarke has been there from the start. Three months after Ferguson came down from Scotland to take over at Old Trafford in November 1986, Clarke left St Mirren for Chelsea.

The 49-year-old has faced his fellow Scot as a player and coach at Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham and Liverpool on countless occasions since.

'He's a typical grumpy Scot,' said Clarke. 'He likes to go chasing. He hasn't lost his hunger or his desire. I worked with Sir Bobby Robson at a similar age. He was maybe not quite as aggressive but he was the same. He had that determination and will to win. It's great to see.

'I don't know if I'd last until 71. I think it would be great to think there could be someone like that in the future, someone who has that longevity, but the way the game has gone, it's more short-term. 'It will be really difficult, if not impossible, to match his achievements,' Clarke added.

Typical: West Brom manager Steve Clarke described his counterpart as a 'grumpy Scot'

Typical: West Brom manager Steve Clarke described his counterpart as a 'grumpy Scot'

Ferguson will not dwell on Saturday's win or his 71st birthday any more than he did the events of last week. It's just not in his nature.

The next game is all that matters and Ferguson and his players do not need reminding that, on New Year's Eve last year, United lost at home to bottom-of-the-table Blackburn Rovers, or that another shock defeat at Tuesday's opponents Wigan in April triggered their collapse in the title race.

'We have to use the bad experiences we had last year,' said defender Patrice Evra ahead of their return to the DW Stadium.

'We lost at this time against Blackburn and I remember when we lost 1-0 at Wigan, we showed nothing. It was a really bad performance.

'This year, there will be no excuse. We will just go there, play like Manchester United and make sure we get the three points because it's really important we do that.'

Cruising: United eased past West Brom to stay seven points ahead of Manchester City

Cruising: United eased past West Brom to stay seven points ahead of Manchester City

Cruising: United eased past West Brom to stay seven points ahead of Manchester City

Michael Clarke breaks Australia run record as they score a big first innings lead against Sri Lanka

Clarke sets new record for runs in a calendar year as the Aussies pile on the pressure against weary Sri Lanka

|

UPDATED:

11:36 GMT, 27 December 2012

Michael Clarke's fifth century of 2012 helped Australia finish day two in complete control at the MCG as Sri Lanka found wickets hard to come by in the second Test.

After being skittled out for 156 yesterday, Sri Lanka returned to the field with Australia perched at 150 for three.

/12/27/article-2253622-16A9A079000005DC-410_634x382_popup.jpg” rel=”” class=”lightboxPopupLink” onclick=”return false”>
Enlarge

Michael Clarke celebrates his century which saw him surpass Ricky Ponting's runs tally

Record breaker: Michael Clarke celebrates his century which saw him surpass Ricky Ponting's runs tally

As has been the way for Australia in 2012, captain Michael Clarke glued everything together, with his 22nd Test hundred the standout innings, although he was ably assisted by Shane Watson (83) and Mitchell Johnson (73no).

In making 106, Clarke became the highest-ever Australian run-scorer in a calendar year, with his tally of 1595 from 11 Tests, beating Ricky Ponting’s 1544 from 15 matches back in 2005.

Already 1-0 down in a best-of-three series, Sri Lanka`s chances of heading home next month with something to their name are remote, especially with Australia adding runs from everywhere.

Clarke's innings looks to have set Australia on the path to victory

In complete control: Clarke's innings looks to have set Australia on the path to victory

That Johnson, often maligned as a player, cracked his score from number eight shows what the tourists are up against.

Johnson provided a substantial roadblock in the final session of the day, with he, Mike Hussey and Peter Siddle upping the tea score of 332 for six to what it was at the close.

Two wickets did fall, though, with Hussey finding Rangana Herath – running backwards and away to his left for a brilliant one-handed take – off the occasional bowling of Tillakaratne Dilshan for 34, and Siddle nicking Shaminda Eranga to the slips (13).

Before that, it had been all about Clarke and Watson who`s 194 partnership was a fourth-wicket record at the MCG.

But after the Australian skipper broke Ponting's seven-year record, Sri Lanka fought back with three wickets in quick succession.

Clarke chased a wide one from Eranga and was caught by Mahela Jayawardene at second slip, before Watson, in similar style to David Warner (62) on the opening day, holed out to Thilan Samaraweera at deep square leg off the bowling of Dhammika Prasad. Australia's score fell quickly to 313 for five.

It was a poor shot from Watson and the Australia vice-captain will rue the fact that he missed a golden chance to record his third Test century, having looked at ease in registering his 19th career fifty.

When Matthew Wade followed Watson and Warner's lead by hooking a short one from Prasad to Eranga on the boundary, Australia were reduced to 315 for six.

Herath took a stunning one-handed catch to remove Hussey

Flying: Herath took a stunning one-handed catch to remove Hussey

The tourists also could have had Hussey late in the session, but the veteran Australian was dropped by stand-in wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara off the bowling of Rangana Herath and then survived a close call for lbw on the next delivery.

Sangakkara is keeping wicket in place of Prasanna Jayawardene, who sustained a thumb injury when dismissed by Johnson on the opening day.

Sri Lanka also picked up another injury early on the second day when paceman Chanaka Welegedara hurt his hamstring following a delivery in the first hour.

Johnson kept the pressure on the Sri Lankans with a swift 73 not out

Slog sweep: Johnson kept the pressure on the Sri Lankans with a swift 73 not out

That has left Mahela Jayawardene without too many bowling options and the Sri Lanka captain used Herath for the majority of the day from the members end of the ground.

The left-arm spinner has bowled without much luck, after a couple of close lbw calls went against him and Jayawardene was guilty of putting down Clarke when the Australian was on 54 – two runs short of breaking Ponting's record.

Australia rip apart Sri Lanka in Boxing Day Test in Melbourne

Aussies run riot on Boxing Day to rip apart Sri Lanka in Melbourne opener

|

UPDATED:

09:01 GMT, 26 December 2012

A brilliant display of pace bowling allowed Australia to assume control of their second Test with Sri Lanka on its opening day in Melbourne.

Having been asked to bowl first in the traditional Boxing Day encounter, Michael Clarke's men skittled their visitors for just 156 midway through the afternoon session, before closing up just six runs shy of that total for the loss of three wickets.

Festive fun: Mitchell Johnson celebrates taking the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan

Festive fun: Mitchell Johnson celebrates taking the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan

In the swing of things: Matthew Wade and Mitchell Johnson mark the dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara

In the swing of things: Matthew Wade and Mitchell Johnson mark the dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara

A reinvigorated Mitchell Johnson was the standout performer in the Baggy Green, with the often-maligned quick taking a four for 63 that was ably supported by two each from Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon and debutant Jackson Bird.

David Warner then smashed a 46-ball 62 to get Australia up and running in their pursuit of a first innings lead, something that now looks a certainty, despite Sri Lanka taking three wickets before the bails were flicked.

Had their own score been a better one that would have been respectable but, with such a failure on the board, they already look up against it, but only have themselves to blame.

The Australia pace attack got a bit of movement out of the pitch during the first session, but Sri Lanka were let down by a series of poor shots and Kumar Sangakkara was the only batsman to look comfortable.

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

That was until Wade combined with Johnson to pull off a brilliant catch with the veteran on 58.
Sangakkara had not played a false shot all day, but was tempted into hooking a short Johnson delivery that bounced higher than expected and could only collect the top edge.

The ball flew straight over Wade's head, but the wicketkeeper kept his eyes on the ball and sprinted over 30 metres towards the sightscreen, before producing a dive to pull off a tremendous catch that dismissed the man who became the 11th in history to register 10,000 Test runs earlier in his innings.

Sangakkara's patience at the crease and ability to punish anything loose was the only highlight of a poor batting performance from the tourists as questionable shot selection led to many of his team-mates' demise.

Bird (two for 32) had his first Test victim with the 22nd delivery of the morning when Dimuth Karunaratne (five) came forward to a ball on a good length, but was only able to edge one through to Wade behind the stumps.

The usually reliable Tillakaratne Dilshan (11) was guilty of the worst shot of the day as he attempted to hit a booming straight drive off Johnson, only to inside edge it onto his off stump to reduce Sri Lanka to 19 for two.

Siddle (two for 30) made it 37 for three shortly after when Mahela Jayawardene (three) nicked one through to Wade, before Sangakkara combined with Thilan Samaraweera to take the score through to 79 for three at lunch.

Gone: Phillip Hughes is run out by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara

Gone: Phillip Hughes is run out by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara

Bird, who had bowled intelligently during his first stint in the morning, had his second wicket with the third ball after lunch when Samaraweera (10) lofted a short one and Angelo Matthews (15) came and went moments later as the wickets continued to tumble around Sangakkara.

A Prasanna Jayawardene (24) cameo gave Sri Lanka some hope, but when he got a ripper from Johnson and Dhammika Prasad fell the very next ball for a duck, the tourists were 134 for seven and in all sorts of trouble.

Lyon (two for 23) came in to clean up the tail with ease and Australia – with captain Michael Clarke having passed a fitness test before the start of play – set about making hay.

Warner and Ed Cowan raced out to 95 before the former found the hands of Prasad at mid-wicket off the bowling of Andrews, with Phil Hughes then doing little to enhance his credentials as a number three by getting caught out of his ground by Dilshan when on 10.

Another wicket followed when Cowan nicked Prasad to Mahela Jayawardene at second slip, and Australia looked to be reeling when Shane Watson edged the same man to Prasanna Jayawardene, only to see a one-handed attempt at a catch go to ground.

The reprieve stopped the slide and Watson (13no) and Clarke (20no) saw things through to the finish.

Sight for sore eyes: A view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on day one of the second Test

Sight for sore eyes: A view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on day one of the second Test

Peter Odemwingie Twitter row with Nigeria over African Cup of Nations exclusion

Baggies bonus as Odemwingie blasts Nigeria chiefs on Twitter (so, he'll definitely miss the African Cup of Nations now…)

|

UPDATED:

10:03 GMT, 24 December 2012

Peter Odemwingie has used his Twitter account to launch a blistering attack on the Nigeria Football Federation and Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi.

The 31-year-old West Brom striker was controversially left out of the squad for the African Cup of Nations and vented his anger via social media.

Odemwingie, who would have been playing in his fifth African Cup tournament, tweeted: ‘On my non-inclusion to the Eagles list I am not surprised. Not surprised Keshi and NFF couldn’t tell me themselves. No personality!

Unhappy: Peter Odemwingie has blasted Nigeria chiefs for leaving him out of their African Cup of Nations squad

Unhappy: Peter Odemwingie has blasted Nigeria chiefs for leaving him out of their African Cup of Nations squad

‘We talk through press hahaha how come I am the only stubborn one but no ex-Eagles player was sent off from the team with respect

‘Keshi has no footballing reasons not to invite me but is not saying the truth. He is still in my plans he said haha coach u no dey my plans.’

On Friday Keshi announced a 32-man provisional squad to go to a training camp in Portugal and Odemwingie was not in it.

The player has been at the centre of controversy with his country before and some blamed him for Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the 2012 Nations Cup.

Keshi has since claimed that Odemwingie was demanding to be made captain, which has also annoyed the player.

Missing man: Odemwingie is angry over his snub from the Nigeria squad

Missing man: Odemwingie is angry over his snub from the Nigeria squad

He tweeted: ‘This might sound disrespectful but Eagles had no good captain for many years. Everyone looking only after himself.’

Odemwingie made his Nigeria debut ten years ago. It has often been a fractious relationship with a series of coaches but the player was still desperate to represent his country.

The fall-out from the row will be an unexpected bonus for West Brom head coach Steve Clarke, who now has the services of his converted wide man in January.