Tag Archives: debutant

6 Nations: Alex Goode says England are always pantomime villains

The Six Nations has so much history… but England are always the pantomime villains

By
Alex Goode

PUBLISHED:

01:57 GMT, 2 February 2013

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UPDATED:

01:57 GMT, 2 February 2013

This is my first appearance in the Six Nations and I’m very excited to be involved in it at last.

The tournament has so much history and for as long as I can remember England have been seen as pantomime villains.

Part of the tradition seems to be for pundits from other nations to talk about how much they dislike the English and accuse us of arrogance, and that has happened again this week. I’m not sure why but it occurs in lots of sports. In football, everyone wants to beat Manchester United, for example.

Breakthrough: Alex Goode is getting ready to play in his first Six Nations

Breakthrough: Alex Goode is getting ready to play in his first Six Nations

It often comes across as if all the passion in these games comes from the other side, not England. People talk about all this passion Scotland have, but the English are passionate too. When we play against the Scots, of course we want to beat them. We would hate to lose against them. It’s not something we ever want to deal with. It’s the same with every team we play against.

I don’t have hatred for any other countries, but I definitely hate losing. I would hate to be involved in a game that led to stories in years to come when people talk about a famous Scottish victory against England. That would wind me up.

No-one likes losing and that can be what produces the passion. I know that me and Owen (Farrell), for example, are extremely competitive, whether it’s in training or playing for Saracens or England. We both hate to lose. We want to be the best and that drives us to try to get to the top.

Preparation: Goode (right) trains with debutant Billy Twelvetrees ahead of the Six Nations opener against Scotland

Preparation: Goode (right) trains with debutant Billy Twelvetrees ahead of the Six Nations opener against Scotland

We needed a bit of passion to beat New Zealand. I just remember how loud the crowd was that day, and I have never been part of a team that was more fired up. That showed we can be a passionate people too. That win against New Zealand was great, but we can’t make too big a deal of it.

As players, we would rather there wasn’t such a fuss because we want that standard to be our norm. We can only achieve that if we bring the same level of intensity to our performance against Scotland – an intensity they will struggle to match.

I’m relieved that I recovered from a shoulder injury to play. I was out for more than a month and the first reaction from the boys was that I had become ‘big-time’ and didn’t fancy playing in winter. When I used to play with Thomas Castaignede at Saracens, he would come out on a wintry day and say: ‘No electricity. No electrics in Thomas. Thomas don’t train!’ Then he’d walk back inside. So the lads said that about me and how I have changed!

Famous: Goode impressed during England's 38-21 win over New Zealand

Famous: Goode impressed during England's 38-21 win over New Zealand

It was tough when I realised the injury was worse than expected. It knocked me a bit, then it was a race against time, putting the hours in. Luckily, I came through a game for Saracens to prove my fitness.

You know there are always going to be people pushing you for that shirt. I’d had to wait longer than most to get my shot, before I made my Test debut in South Africa last summer, so I didn’t want to let it go. A year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined starting a Calcutta Cup game at Twickenham, but now I’m raring to go.

We have gone from being underdogs against New Zealand to favourites for this game. Everyone expects us to win – pundits and the public, but Scotland are bouncing back from a bad loss and they’ve got new coaches in Scott Johnson and Dean Ryan and they’ll be fired up to impress, which makes them dangerous.

This will be a dog-fight, but I’m hopeful we can win.

Heather Watson and Laura Robson first top-50 ranked British pair in 25 years

Rankings revival: Watson and Robson become first top-50 British pair in 25 years

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

22:41 GMT, 7 January 2013

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UPDATED:

02:39 GMT, 8 January 2013

Heather Watson and Laura Robson continue to take British women’s tennis back to the Eighties, this time becoming the first British pair to reach the top 50 together in more than 25 years.

The new WTA rankings yesterday showed that Robson (50th) had joined No 47 Watson in the top 50 just ahead of next week’s Australian Open, thereby emulating Jo Durie and Sara Gomer, who were there, in tandem, in 1987.

If either turns out to be as good as Durie, the former world No 5, then they will not have done badly, and at 18 and 20 years old respectively there is plenty of time.

History: Laura Robson (above) and Heather Watson (below) are the first British female pair to be ranked in the top 50 together in 25 years

History: Laura Robson (above) and Heather Watson (below) are the first British female pair to be ranked in the top 50 together in 25 years

History: Watson (above) and Robson (below) are the first British female pair to be ranked in the top 50 together in 25 years

Both were named yesterday by captain Judy Murray in the GB team for the Fed Cup tie against Israel next month.

Murray also included Anne Keothavong, currently world No 142, and debutant Australia-born Johanna Konta, who qualified for Britain in May and is ranked at 153.

Konta is hoping to qualify this week for the Australian Open.
Seasoned campaigner Elena Baltacha is injured – her ranking is now 183 – but she will also travel with the team.

Australia beat Sri Lanka in second Test

Johnson shines as Australia fire Ashes warning with brutal demolition of Sri Lanka inside three days

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UPDATED:

07:37 GMT, 28 December 2012

Fierce bowling from a revitalised Mitchell Johnson powered Australia to victory by an innings and 201 runs against Sri Lanka in a Boxing Day Test that ended inside three days at the MCG.

Johnson – after being left stranded eight short of a second Test century earlier in the day when Australia were dismissed for 460 in reply to Sri Lanka's first-innings 156 – captured two for 16, injured two top-order batsmen and affected a run-out as the tourists were skittled for 103.

Sri Lanka had lost seven wickets midway through day three's second session but, with Prasanna Jayawardene and Chanaka Welagedara unable to bat, and Kumar Sangakkara unable to return having retired hurt on 27, the Australians were home and dry.

The trouncing meant Australia retained the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy, with the third fixture in Sydney to start next week.

Flying high: Mitchell Johnson (left) and Matthew Wade celebrate the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan

Flying high: Mitchell Johnson (left) and Matthew Wade celebrate the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan

Party time: The Aussies celebrate as they grind down Sri Lanka in Melbourne

Party time: The Aussies celebrate as they grind down Sri Lanka in Melbourne

Johnson's brilliant second-innings effort capped a remarkable Test for the rejuvenated 31-year-old.
The left-armer claimed four for 63 – including his 200th victim – in Sri Lanka's first innings before boosting his reputation as a lower-order batsman with an unbeaten 92 in Australia's reply.

Light showers delayed the start of play by 15 minutes this morning before Australia added 20 runs for the loss of Nathan Lyon, caught at short mid-wicket for one, and Jackson Bird, comprehensively bowled by Shaminda Eranga for a duck.

Eranga (three for 109) and Dhammika Prasad (three for 106) were the leading bowlers for Sri Lanka.
The visitors could not have started the rearguard action any worse as Johnson and debutant Bird (two for 29) dismantled their flaky top order.

Unstoppable: Johnson was in stunning form in the Melbourne sunshine

Unstoppable: Johnson was in stunning form in the Melbourne sunshine

They had dramatically slumped to 13 for four midway through the morning session. Johnson started the rot with the run-out of Dimuth Karunaratne (one) in the first over and removed Tillakaratne Dilshan (nought) the next ball when Ed Cowan pouched a catch at square leg.

Bird made matters worse for the besieged tourists when he bowled Mahela Jayawardene for a duck and trapped Thilan Samaraweera lbw for one just before lunch.

Only Sangakkara (27) and Angelo Mathews (35) provided any resistance and, when the former retired hurt after copping a blow to the index finger from a Johnson bouncer, the match was in its death throes.

Sliding in: Johnson runs out Dimuth Karunaratne as Australia dominate Down Under

Sliding in: Johnson runs out Dimuth Karunaratne as Australia dominate Down Under

After Johnson bowled Mathews, Peter Siddle wrapped up Australia's win by removing Eranga for a duck.

Johnson took man-of-the-match honours ahead of Australia captain Michael Clarke who scored 106 on day two.

Shane Watson was another contributor for the winners with a gutsy 83 yesterday, but the all-rounder was unable to bowl in the second innings and is in doubt for the third Test after aggravating a chronic calf injury.

David Lloyd – Bumble Test Diary: England will smash the Aussies (twice) but India need to forget IPL razzmatazz and get serious about Test cricket

BUMBLE TEST DIARY: I predict England will smash the Aussies (twice) but India need to forget IPL razzmatazz and get serious about Test cricket

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UPDATED:

17:16 GMT, 17 December 2012

NERVOUS COOK NEEDN'T WORRY, THIS WAS AN EPIC WIN

Alastair Cook said he was nervous going into the final day and feared one bad session could cost England but their two Bears (Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell) played wonderfully well. They helped themselves to a century each and, in the end, it was a very comfortable series win as expected. But this was also an epic win, an outstanding performance.

England coach Andy Flower

Smiler: Coach Andy Flower

SMILES BETTER FOR FLOWER

I've never seen coach Andy Flower with such a wide smile on his face. He understands what England have achieved. To turn India over in their own backyard is as good as any Ashes win, it's the holy grail, you just don't do it. When India bamboozled England in the first Test, they asked for spinning pitches because they wanted a 4-0 win, but it backfired badly and England pounced.

IPL PARTY IS NO EXCUSE FOR FAILING TEST

India now have a massive choice. They either get real about Test match cricket or they concentrate on the IPL, which is a fantastic event but it's just entertainment, a seven-week party. It's light years away from the discipline of Test cricket. How interested the India players are can be judged by the debutant in this Test (Jadeja) who is already a millionaire from IPL! So why should he care about Tests

U.S. singer Katy Perry performs at the Indian Premier League (IPL) opening ceremony in Chennai, India

Cheerleaders attracts the cricket fans at the inaugural match of DLF Indian Premier League cricket at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore

Just not (real) cricket: Katy Perry (left) and cheerleaders have added much glamour and fun to IPL cricket

KP'S CELEBRATIONS SHOW HE'S BACK IN THE FOLD

England have stabilised from the summer when the Kevin Pietersen issue dominated. There was a lot of love around during the celebrations at the end of the Test, particularly surrounding KP. And it was noticeable that Flower said 'we have had a tough time but we're back on track'.

Yorkshire gold: Tim Bresnan (left), Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow (right) celebrate England's series win with a beer and signing each others shirts (PICTURE POSTED BY @timbresnan ON TWITTER)

Yorkshire gold: Tim Bresnan (left), Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow (right) celebrate England's series win with a beer and signing each others shirts (PICTURE POSTED BY @timbresnan ON TWITTER)

NOW FOR THE INTEGRATION OF THE YOUNG TYKES

England go to New Zealand in the New Year who are second from bottom in the rankings. There can be no complacency and England must win in style. We've had the reintegration of KP and now look forward to the integration of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow as England get ready for the Ashes.

PICTURE DISPUTE

We are unable to carry live pictures from the
fourth Test in Nagpur due to a dispute between the Board of Control for
Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture
agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic
agencies. MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

TWO SPINNERS MAY NOT GO IN FLOWER'S PLAN FOR WORLD DOMINATION

As for Monty Panesar, my experience of New Zealand is that you can play two spinners, and Flower acknowledged he has two world-class spinners. But he also insisted that it was three seamers and one spinner who took England to the top of the world and pointedly remarked that Graeme Swann took the most wickets on tour, so Monty may just play here and there.

Spin twins: England spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann (right) pose on Twitter after the draw in Nagpur. Swann's team-mates have been ribbing him for allegedly looking like Chandler Bing from the US sitcom Friends

Chandler, Phoebe and Rachel

Friends: Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann (left) pose after the draw in Nagpur. Swann's team-mates have been ribbing him for looking like Chandler from the sitcom Friends (right)… Judge for yourselves…

I EXPECT THREE WINS FROM ENGLAND'S NEXT THREE SERIES

I am a betting man and I predict three series wins for England next year, in New Zealand and home and away in the Ashes. England are the better team with, crucially, better players on the bench. When the likes of Monty, Root and Steven Finn can come in and take over, you're laughing.

More from David Lloyd…

BUMBLE'S TEST DIARY: I've done 'a Trott' and was not proud of it, but I'm less of a fan of Captain Beefheart
16/12/12

BUMBLE TEST DIARY: Revealed – Anderson swings both ways and Nasser is the ice man
14/12/12

BUMBLE TEST DIARY: On your bikes, lads… Get on with the flipping game, India… You're 2-1 down!I was expecting someone to bring you tea and sarnies
13/12/12

BUMBLE'S TEST DIARY: A billion reasons why India must improve… (and leave Samit alone)
09/12/12

BUMBLE'S TEST DIARY: It's a case of 'after you Claude' for captain Cook but England can rely on their attack
07/12/12

BUMBLE TEST DIARY: How I nodded off and woke up dreaming of Monty and Bruno (but Beefy's wrong, it had nothing to do with Timothy Taylor)
05/12/12

BUMBLE TEST DIARY: Rolling Stones fan Bumble says – It's only an England Test victory in India… but I like it, like it, yes I do!
26/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

England fail to punish India"s MS Dhoni and leave the door ajar after first day in Nagpur: Nasser Hussain

Careless England fail to punish defensive Dhoni and leave the door ajar

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UPDATED:

21:32 GMT, 13 December 2012

Negative outlook: MS Dhoni opted for caution in Nagpur (FILE PHOTO)

Negative outlook: MS Dhoni opted for caution in Nagpur (FILE IMAGE)

England went into the fourth Test promising they would be ruthless but they were not as clinical as they might have been on the first day and ended it having left the door slightly open for India.

India picked the wrong side —they really needed two seamers on that pitch — and lost the toss but England failed to take full advantage and will have been just the unhappier of the two sides going into the second day.

Yes, that was a very difficult pitch to score on and MS Dhoni immediately went on the defensive, which didn’t exactly help, but was it a hard pitch to survive on Was it a difficult pitch to play spin on Not really.

If the tourists had lost three or four
wickets to reverse swing I would have understood but the truth was that
they gifted India three and Alastair Cook will be thinking that the
close score could easily have been 200 for three.

Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell will both be disappointed with the way they got out and, while Kevin Pietersen batted well and I could understand him wanting to be assertive, he got out in the end to nothing more than a soft chip.

Cheap dismissal: Jonathan Trott will be angered with the loss of his wicket (FILE IMAGE)

Cheap dismissal: Jonathan Trott will be angered with the loss of his wicket (FILE IMAGE)

In the end the 21-year-old debutant in Joe Root showed, with a bit of that over-my-dead-body Yorkshire spirit, that you could survive and also play a few shots.

Graham Thorpe rates Root highly and you could see why here in the calm, composed and organised way he went about his business.

I have often said that you should pick on character and Root’s character immediately looks right.

Keeping his head: Joe Root made an impressive start to his Test career in tough circumstances (FILE IMAGE)

Keeping his head: Joe Root made an impressive start to his Test career in tough circumstances (FILE IMAGE)

I wasn’t surprised that England chose to replace Samit Patel — if he is not going to bowl then you can’t consider him one of England’s six best batsmen — but I was surprised they chose Root over Jonny Bairstow.

It is a brave call, and one that probably reflects England’s reservations about Bairstow’s playing of spin at this stage of his career, but so far it is one that you have to say they got right.

Kevin Pietersen says Nagpur pitch was his toughest challenge yet after England"s slow start

Nagpur pitch was my toughest challenge yet, says Pietersen after hitting a watchful 73

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UPDATED:

21:32 GMT, 13 December 2012

Kevin Pietersen described the Nagpur pitch as the ‘toughest’ he had encountered in his 92-Test career as England crawled to 199 for five on the crucial first day of the fourth Test against India.

England’s No 4 faced 188 balls for his 73 — one of the slowest innings of his career — and described the task ahead for Alastair Cook’s team as ‘an incredible challenge’ as they seek a first series win in this country for nearly 28 years.

Tough test: Pietersen hit an obdurate 72 before falling to Ravindra Jadeja

Tough test: Pietersen hit an obdurate 73 before falling to Ravindra Jadeja (FILE IMAGE)

‘It is the toughest wicket I have played Test cricket on in terms of trying to play strokes,’ he said. ‘The Indians think this is the kind of wicket they can produce to pull the series back.’

Pietersen suggested the day’s play,
which saw a run-rate of 2.05 an over, must have proved a turn-off for
TV audiences, with only 21 fours struck in 97 overs.

‘The
viewers have got no interest in what I’ve got to say because they
switched off four or five hours ago,’ he said. ‘It’s an incredible
challenge for the lads to see what we can get out of this over the next
four days.’

Pietersen
did, however, suggest England’s selection of two seam bowlers (Jimmy
Anderson and Tim Bresnan) to India’s one (Ishant Sharma) could yet help
the tourists in their hunt for an historic 3-1 series win. ‘We are in a
position of strength by having two seamers,’ he said. ‘I found Ishant
incredibly difficult to play.’

But Indian debutant Ravindra Jadeja, who removed both Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, defended India’s selection policy, saying: ‘It was a good decision to play four spinners because it will help us in the second innings, when there will be more footmarks.’

India v England in Nagpur: Hosts hold edge after day one – Lawrence Booth

Lawrence Booth: India claim the edge at stumps after England's old-fashioned progress

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UPDATED:

11:30 GMT, 13 December 2012

The opening day of the Nagpur Test was characterised by caginess and perhaps a little fear.

A combination of India's desperation to avoid a historic series defeat, England's determination not to squander a rare triumph at the toss, and a pitch of stultifying slowness meant the cricket rarely got out of second gear.

It was tempting to label as old-fashioned England's progress to 199 for 5 from 97 overs, especially given the sight of a Yorkshireman – the assured 21-year-old debutant Joe Root – getting his head down with something close to religious fervour.

Good day at the office: Pietersen steadied the England ship in Nagpur

Good day at the office: Pietersen steadied the England ship in Nagpur

In fact, the day was full of the angst that has marked both side's cricket in 2012 – and it finished, appropriately, in an uneasy kind of truce, with India just claiming the edge.

Their policy of selecting only one seamer, Ishant Sharma, would have looked slightly less curious had MS Dhoni won his fourth successive toss.

Forced to take the field for the first time in the series, the Indian captain instead opted for containment, quickly dispensing with all his slips and keeping Alastair Cook quiet with a 7-2 leg-side field for the bowling of Pragyan Ojha.

Sharma's first spell of 6-2-8-2 – which included a needless nibble by Nick Compton and a geometrically ignorant lbw decision against Cook by Kumar Dharmasena – suggested India had got their selection horribly wrong.

And while Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen were advancing to 102 for 2 against a four-pronged spin attack that seemed to rotate while Sharma rested, England appeared to be quietly taking advantage.

In the runs: Trott made 44 for England before he was dismissed

In the runs: Trott made 44 for England before he was dismissed

But India's slow bowlers were giving nothing away – and nor were the fields. If England wanted to make history, Dhoni seemed to be saying, they would have to make all the running too. It turned into an unexpectedly successful ploy.

Trott shouldered arms to the debutant Ravindra Jadeja, whose left-arm spin is a class above poor old Samit Patel's. Ian Bell contrived to pick out short extra cover with a little over 10 minutes to go before tea. And Pietersen, having controlled his urges for well over three hours, went down the track to whip Jadeja to short midwicket.

If there was culpability in all three shots, then they were at least understandable: Chinese water torture can do funny things to the mind. At 139 for 5, England's innings felt more like Ahmedabad than Mumbai or Kolkata.

But Root, who had stylishly collected 10 runs from the 11 balls he faced before tea, came with no baggage and played with a freshman's resolve, while Matt Prior helped him inch the run-rate above two.

Root ran hard between the wickets, stretched well forward to smother the very gentle turn, and even had the nerve to reverse-sweep Ravi Ashwin. Prior was the ideal partner: busy, wise, and with a deft touch against spin.

Together, they have given England hope of a first-innings total which, if the pitch really does break up, could ask serious questions of India's shaky batting line-up. But it was a day that only grudgingly yielded answers.

Picture Dispute

We are unable to carry live pictures from the fourth Test in Nagpur due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Matt Prior happy with England fightback

Prior takes solace after fightback and claims England can still eke out a draw in India

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UPDATED:

18:27 GMT, 17 November 2012

PICTURE DISPUTE

We are unable to carry live pictures from the First Test in Ahmedabad due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

England did their best to put a 'shocker' of a first innings behind them as they followed on 330 runs behind against India at the Sardar Patel Stadium.

It was hard to make much sense of a day of two halves in which the tourists lurched from 41 for three to 191 all out by teatime to the spin of Pragyan Ojha (five for 45) and Ravichandran Ashwin (three for 80), yet then moved serenely to stumps on 111 without loss.

Captain Alastair Cook tried to lead from the front both times, getting as far as 41 first time round and then an unbeaten 74 at the second attempt in an unbroken century stand with debutant Nick Compton.

With two days remaining in the first Test, it is tough to work out which England will turn up tomorrow.
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior is struggling to make sense of events so far, but is pinning his hopes on the belief that England have learned the errors of their ways.

Happy: Matt Prior is delighted with the way England have fought back

Happy: Matt Prior is delighted with the way England have fought back

'We all know our first innings was a bit of a shocker,' said Prior, whose battling 48 from number eight was England's best first-innings score.

'As a professional sportsman, you have to look forward – and the way Compo and Cookie went about their business was absolutely fantastic.

'To end up none down at close of play, we'll take a huge amount from that.'

Prior is both a realist and an optimist.

'We're still behind in the game, obviously, but it gives us a lot of confidence so we can go out tomorrow and try to bat for a long period of time – which we need to do,' he said.

'To end up none down at close of play, we'll take a huge amount from that.'

– Matt Prior

'I sat here two days before the Test match and said “It's all very well talking – you've got to go out and do it”.

'Unfortunately, in the first innings we didn't do it.

'I think we're all honest enough to hold our hands up and say “Right, we didn't get that right”.

'Maybe we got a little bit too ahead of ourselves, and a bit panicky.'

Kevin Pietersen was perhaps the least convincing of all, while Ian Bell's first-ball exit was the most embarrassing after he went down the wicket and was caught at mid-off.

Prior knows of old both are capable of world-class batting, and said: 'KP' is one of our main batters, but he's only one player.

'We watched Kevin batting at Headingley against (Dale) Steyn and (Morne) Morkel (last summer), at Colombo getting 150.

'But because he doesn't get runs today, we can't all fall apart.

'He's one player in a team of 11, and we all need to hold our hands up.'

Bell was anxious to dominate Ojha from the outset, but never gave himself a chance.

'Belly is one of the finest batters at hitting over the top that I know, and the one thing we talk about is playing your own game and backing yourself,' added Prior.

'Only Belly will know the plan he had … and it didn't come off.

'These are the fine lines in sport. It doesn't come off, and it doesn't look great admittedly.

Composed: Alastair Cook made a half century in England's second innings

Composed: Alastair Cook made a half century in England's second innings

'But you cannot question the quality and class of a batsman like Ian Bell. We all know, and hope he's going to show it.

'There's no point sulking. He knows he probably got it slightly wrong. But we've got a big second innings coming up, and I'm sure he'll be as motivated as any of our batters to get a big score.'

Whoever makes good on the start Cook and Compton have made, Prior believes it is still feasible to eke out a draw.

'In the second innings we seemed to be a lot calmer,' he said.

'There are no demons. Yes, it's turning a bit and bouncing a bit – but you can bat out there.

'It's certainly not a snakepit by any stretch of the imagination.

'We're still in this game. We're behind the game, but we're still in it and fighting hard. That's all you can do'

– Matt Prior

'There's no point crying over spilt milk – you have to move on.

'We knew that we under-performed – no one was more frustrated than the guys sitting in the dressing room – but most importantly, we've gone out there (again) and we're none down for 111.

'That's a fantastic turnaround.

'We're still in this game. We're behind the game, but we're still in it and fighting hard. That's all you can do.

'If we get anything from this game, it will be a fantastic effort. But it's not unrealistic.'

Ojha knows he may have to work harder to see off Bell and Pietersen so cheaply next time.

Of the former, he said: 'He has a weakness against left-arm spin. But I won't be taking him easy in this series, because he's a very good batsman.'

As for Bell, he added: 'I think when you're playing a five-day Test, and a batsman comes at you like that the very first delivery, it's a very encouraging thing as a spinner.'

Russia 2 USA 2: Fabio Capello and Jurgen Klinsmann draw

Russia 2 USA 2: Capello denied victory as Klinsmann's men fight back in last minute

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UPDATED:

19:50 GMT, 14 November 2012

Mix Diskerud scored deep into stoppage time as the United States twice fought back from a goal down to hold Russia to a 2-2 draw in the first match between the two former Cold War adversaries since 2000.

Debutant Fyodor Smolov put the home team 1-0 up in the ninth minute of the friendly before Michael Bradley's spectacular volley in the 76th minute rewarded an improved second-half display by the Americans in the southern city of Krasnodar.

Roman Shirokov restored Russia's advantage with an 84th-minute penalty and it seemed they would extend their winning streak to five games under Italian coach Fabio Capello.

Good to see you! Russian coach Fabio Capello (left) and his USA counterpart Jurgen Klinsmann

Good to see you! Russian coach Fabio Capello (left) and his USA counterpart Jurgen Klinsmann

Good to see you! Russian coach Fabio Capello (left) and his USA counterpart Jurgen Klinsmann

Substitute Diskerud's low shot then took a lucky bounce and fooled keeper Vladimir Gabulov four minutes into stoppage time.

The Americans were tentative early on and the hosts took full advantage, Smolov beating keeper Tim Howard with a low drive into the corner of the net.

Smolov's joy was short-lived though as suffered a leg muscle injury and had to be substituted.
The U.S., who also lost skipper Carlos Bocanegra to injury early in the first half, had trouble keeping possession.

Clarence Goodson, who replaced Bocanegra, produced the first shot for the visitors after nearly half an hour but it was easily saved by Gabulov.

Russia increased the tempo after the break as Alan Dzagoyev went close with a header and fellow substitute Renat Yanbayev fired straight at Howard from close range.

Level pegging: Mix Diskerud rescued a draw for the United States against Russia

Level pegging: Mix Diskerud rescued a draw for the United States against Russia

Capello introduced several newcomers including winger Denis Cheryshev who plays for Real Madrid's B team Castilla and has yet to feature for Jose Mourinho's side while U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann gave a debut to midfielder Joshua Gatt who plays for Norwegian champions Molde.

The Americans slowly started to find their rhythm and Bradley controlled Jozy Altidore's header before blasting the ball in from the edge of the box.

Shirokov made it 2-1 to Russia only for Diskerud to save the day for the U.S. when his shot took a deflection, bounced over the keeper, hit the post and went in.

Despite the setback the Russians, who have won all four of their World Cup qualifiers, stretched their unbeaten run under Capello to six games.

Battle: Igor Denisov (centre) and Danny Williams fight for the ball

Battle: Igor Denisov (centre) and Danny Williams fight for the ball

'I'm really pleased with what we showed today,' the former England manager, who replaced Dick Advocaat following Russia's poor showing at Euro 2012, told reporters.

'I've managed to see a lot of new young players tonight and now I could use them in competitive matches.'

Klinsmann praised his players for a spirited display against 'one of the best teams in the world. We showed a lot of character to come back. We showed we can play with the best teams in the world,' said the former Germany striker.

It was a fitting end to a good year for the Americans who beat Italy 1-0 in Genoa in February, outclassed Scotland 5-1 in another friendly in May and earned a first away win over Mexico by a 1-0 margin at the intimidating Azteca stadium in August.

The teams last met in a friendly in Moscow 12 years ago won 2-0 by Russia.

Luxembourg 1 Scotland 2: Red hot Jordan Rhodes

Luxembourg 1 Scotland 2: Red-hot Rhodes at the double as minnows nearly upset Tartan Army

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UPDATED:

21:49 GMT, 14 November 2012

Jordan Rhodes hit a first-half double as an attack-minded Scotland side began life after Craig Levein with a narrow friendly victory in Luxembourg.

Rhodes, who scored a hat-trick for Scotland Under-21s on his previous trip to the Stade Josy Barthel, headed home from close range on 10 minutes and then slotted a simple second.

However, Scotland failed to build on their lead and survived some nervous moments after Lars Gerson's well-placed free-kick brought Luxembourg back into the game 90 seconds after the break.

Doubling up: Jordan Rhodes struck twice to earn Scotland a narrow win

Doubling up: Jordan Rhodes struck twice to earn Scotland a narrow win

Both Scotland goals were followed by
cries of 'Are you watching Craig Levein' from the visiting support, who
vastly outnumbered the home fans in the attendance of 2,521.

Their mood was no doubt lifted by
caretaker manager Billy Stark's 4-4-2 formation with Kenny Miller
partnering Rhodes up front and Steven Naismith and debutant Andrew
Shinnie playing in advanced wide positions.

Levein, who paid the price for taking
two points from Scotland's first four World Cup qualifiers, had last
played two strikers from the start in a 2-1 win against Liechtenstein at
Hampden in September 2010.

Inverness midfielder Shinnie was the
only debutant in the starting line-up but there were rare starts for
Matt Gilks and Grant Hanley, while Charlie Mulgrew lined up in central
midfield.

Tucked home: Rhodes knocks in the second goal

Tucked home: Rhodes knocks in the second goal

Match Facts

Luxembourg: Joubert, Mutsch, Bukvic, Deville, Schnell, Janisch, Blaise, Gerson, Payal, Bettmer, Leweck.

Subs: Oberweis, Malget, Hoffmann, Peters, Da Mota Alves, Bensi, Laterza, Philipps, Jans, Turpel.

Goal: Gerson 47

Scotland: Gilks, Whittaker, Dixon, Berra, Hanley, Mulgrew, Fletcher, Shinnie, Naismith, Rhodes, Miller.

Subs: Samson, Webster, Barr, Davidson, Kelly, Griffiths, Bell.

Goals: Rhodes 11, 23

Referee: Cyrill Zimmermann (Switzerland)

The Celtic player saw a lot of the
ball in the opening stages as Scotland dominated possession on a pitch
that was already cutting up.

Rhodes had his first chance when
Luxembourg defender Guy Blaise missed his kick after Naismith had helped
the ball up the left, but the Blackburn striker was well wide as he
steered the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper.

However, Rhodes only had two minutes to wait for the opener after more poor defending.

Scotland worked the ball to Paul Dixon
on the left wing and he sent over an inviting cross which Ante Bukvic
turned against his own post. Rhodes was on hand to head the ball over
the line from close range.

Gilks made his first save in the 16th
minute after Naismith had lost right-back Tom Schnell at a short
free-kick. The defender sent over a deep cross that was met by Mario
Mutsch but the Blackpool goalkeeper got down to hold the header.

Mutsch soon fired wide from 22 yards after Scotland again found themselves a man short down their left.

Miller curled over after a Rhodes
lay-off before the Blackburn forward hit his second in the 23rd minute.
Shinnie collected Whittaker's cross from the right and hit the byline
before driving the ball towards goal.

His effort was blocked but fell for kindly for Rhodes who slipped the ball home with his left foot from six yards.

Rhodes to glory: The youngster is congratulated by his compatriots

Rhodes to glory: The youngster is congratulated by his compatriots

Miller was soon through on goal after a
series of short, sharp passes with Naismith but the flag was raised as
the striker shot straight at Jonathan Joubert.

Scotland continued to control
possession but they were almost caught out before the break when Mutsch
broke down the left and sent over a low cross to right-winger Charles
Leweck, whose drive was held by Gilks.

Kilmarnock midfielder Liam Kelly
replaced Mulgrew at half-time to make his debut but he soon gave away a
foul that allowed the hosts back into the game. The execution was superb
as Gerson curled his 25-yard free-kick into the top corner to leave
Gilks with no chance.

Scotland continued to dominate
possession but were making little headway with Naismith growing
frustrated at the number of fouls committed by the home defenders.

Scraped: Scotland only won by one goal against the minnow opposition

Scraped: Scotland only won by one goal against the minnow opposition

Leigh Griffiths became the third new cap in the 70th minute when he replaced Shinnie with Miller moving wide right.

Scotland soon had a let-off after a move broke down on the right with Whittaker out of position.

Hanley backed off after David Turpel
collected the ball and the Luxembourg forward turned and sent the ball
inside him and out to Mutsch.

The home captain's cross found Stefano
Bensi in a great position but Gilks did enough to unconvincingly palm
the header wide for a corner.

Battle: Charles Leweck (left) tries to keep up with Scotland's Paul Dixon.

Battle: Charles Leweck (left) tries to keep up with Scotland's Paul Dixon.

Before the match, Stark had signalled
his intention of making six substitutions but the game was in the
balance and Scotland's formation, now looking more like a 4-2-4, was
giving the hosts space to attack.

Rhodes thought he had his hat-trick as
he headed home Kelly's cross but the flag was immediately raised and
Bensi tested Gilks again with a 20-yard drive that the goalkeeper got
down well to hold.

Gilks then saved Turpel's header
before Murray Davidson won his first cap as the midfielder came on for
Rhodes to see help see out the match in injury-time.