Tag Archives: decent

Paul McGinley named Ryder Cup captain for Europe at Gleneagles in 2014 ahead of Colin Montgomerie

Player power sinks Monty! It's Rory's choice as McGinley is named Ryder Cup captain

.

McGinley has never been involved in a losing Ryder Cup side.

European Tour wins: Four (plus five other professional titles).

Best finish in a major: Tied sixth at the 2004 US PGA Championship.

P.S. In the 2009 and 2011 Seve Trophy, McGinley was the winning captain of Great Britain and Ireland over Continental Europe.

But it was McIlroy and the rest of
the miracle makers at Medinah who held sway; McIlroy's intervention on
Twitter last December that turned everything McGinley's way.

Where he went, other critical voices
followed, such as Luke Donald, Justin Rose and the hero in the last
match in America, Ian Poulter.

Thomas Bjorn, chairman of the
Players' Committee, said: 'Our players on tour wanted us to make this
choice and we listen to our players.'

As so often these days, McIlroy was
spot on with his judgment. McGinley might not have the star persona of
other captains but this was a deserved victory for a decent man who will
leave no stone unturned in his quest to complete a successful defence.

Never have you seen a golfer look
more proud than the 46-year-old Dubliner, who becomes the first Irish
captain in Ryder Cup history.

'I am obviously thrilled and also
feel very humbled to become the captain and I'm relishing the chance to
go up against one of my all-time gol f ing heroes i n Amer ican skipper
Tom Watson,' he said.

'I thought I had a strong hand
because I had the support of the players and, obviously, when the new
star of golf is so vocal in your favour, that is very gratifying as
well. If Rory doesn't make the team I think he has got a good chance of
getting a pick.'

All smiles: McGinley at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Tuesday ahead of this week's championship

All smiles: McGinley at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Tuesday ahead of this week's championship

McGinley on the course

The kingmaker was in the back of the
room to see his nominee gain his due, as was another architect of
Ireland's wondrous recent success on the world stage – McGinley's
long-time friend and golfing partner, Padraig Harrington.

'I couldn't be more thrilled for him,
he's a dogged man with a real passion for team golf and I think he will
be a brilliant captain,' said Harrington. One of the first to send his
congratulations was Watson.

'Paul is a class act,' he said.
Ironically enough, given what transpired, it was Montgomerie who gave
McGinley his first stab at captaincy, when he invited him to become
Britain and Ireland skipper at the 2009 Seve Trophy.

One of the team members was McIlroy.

'Paul made me feel so comfortable from the start,' said McIlroy.

'He makes you feel so good about
yourself. He put me out as No 1 and I was so determined to deliver a
point for him. He is the best captain I have ever played under.'

McGinley has fewer tournament wins in
526 European Tour starts than Watson has triumphs in The Open – four to
five – but it matters little.

Common sense: Rory McIlroy was pleased with the decision to install McGinley

Common sense: Rory McIlroy was pleased with the decision to install McGinley

More Twitter reaction

EUROPE

IAN POULTER (Ryder Cup specialist, looking to make his fifth appearance next year): 'Paul Mcginley Ryder Cup captain truly really happy that he has given the opportunity to captain the 2014 Ryder Cup team.'

RORY McILROY (World No 1, and McGinley's biggest supporter for the job): 'Common sense prevailed in the end…. Paul McGinley 2014 European Ryder Cup captain!!! Couldn't be happier for him… Roll on Gleneagles'

EDOARDO MOLINARI (Italian who played in the 2010 match): 'I am sure that Paul will be a fantastic captain! Well done to him…and now it's time to work even harder to be part of his team!'

SCOTT JAMIESON (Scot who has made a flying start to the season): 'Congrats Paul McGinley, def gets my vote, will be a great Ryder Cup captain.' UNITED STATES

TOM WATSON (United States Ryder Cup captain): 'Congrats to Paul McGinley on your R/C Captaincy. Looking forward to our future competition. You're a class act.'

DUSTIN JOHNSON (2011 Open runner-up, Ryder Cup player in the last two events): 'Heard the Ryder Cup news about McGinley… @TomWatsonPGAPro & the USA will be ready!!!!'

DAVID DUVAL (former world No 1 and two-time Ryder Cup player): 'Congrats to McGinley for the captaincy. We competed first 20 plus years ago in the Walker Cup.'

In the Ryder Cup he has been a lion,
sinking the winning putt at The Belfry in 2002. Alongside Donald, he is
the only European never to have been on the losing side having played at
least three Ryder Cups.

He was a vice-captain in 2010 and at
Medinah. 'I don't know what it is but team golf and the Ryder Cup have
always brought the best out of me,' said McGinley, who was forecast to
become a Gaelic football star for Dublin until his career was cut short
by a knee injury at the age of just 19.

McGinley's nomination as captain was a
victory for modesty, for he never felt the need to blow his own trumpet
in the months leading up to the announcement.

He started the drawn-out process
trailing Darren Clarke by a seemingly hopeless margin until the
Ulsterman's campaign was derailed by McIlroy's tweet of support for
McGinley before Christmas.

Then came Montgomerie as those committee members who wanted a big personality switched their allegiance to the Scot.

Sky were trailing in the days leading
up to the announcement that Montgomerie was confident he would get the
nod. Still McGinley kept silent.

'It's amazing how much you hear when you don't talk,' the Irishman said wryly.

'To be honest, it was my wife,
Alison, who told me not to join in but I didn't need much persuading. I
watched the story grow legs and the speculation swell but I thought I
was much better just letting the players speak for me.'

It is that sort of judgment call that
will serve McGinley well when he lines up opposite Watson. After 30
minutes of usual committee business, McGinley and Montgomerie, both
members of the body that decides on the captaincy, were asked to leave.

Glory days: Europe won the Ryder Cup in incredible fashion in 2012

Glory days: Europe won the Ryder Cup in incredible fashion in 2012

Not chosen: Colin Montgomerie was not asked to reprise his role as captain

Not chosen: Colin Montgomerie was not asked to reprise his role as captain

Thinking man: McGinley says he loves the tactical side of the game

Thinking man: McGinley says he loves the tactical side of the game

McGinley retreated to a room with his
brother, Michael. Thus began the longest two hours of his life. They
ate oatmeal cookies. Still no knock on the door.

'I've been there so I knew what was going on but it didn't stop the time dragging on,' he said.

Eventually, the call came, the one
that signalled the proudest moment of his professional life. Down an
escalator he went and into a world where the phone never stops ringing
and there's always another interview to give.

'I don't mind all that,' he said,
smiling broadly. Indeed, the grin never left his face all night. He was
wearing a 2014 Ryder Cup sweater of Seve Ballesteros blue, and he might
never take it off.

Derek Lawrenson weighs up the two captains in their areas of influence

Playing Record

Watson: If this counted for very much, Europe might as well hand over the trophy right now. Eight majors and still going strong at the age of 59 says it all. Such a glorious CV earns Watson the guaranteed respect of his team. But that's about all. McGinley: No captain in the modern era has had so few wins as the four mustered by McGinley. However, like Watson, he has never been on a losing Ryder Cup side (he played in three winning ones) so something will have to give. USA one up. Partnerships

Watson: An area where the great man may well struggle. How can he possibly know the different personalities of his team and what makes them tick when he's never played alongside them on a regular basis

McGinley: One of the Irishman's great strengths. Will know the players inside out and whether the time is right to put an arm around the shoulder or deliver a kick up the backside. All Square

Tom Watson

Tactics

Watson: Before Peter Baker played his matches at The Belfry in 1993, captain Watson made a beeline for the young Englishman and looked him squarely in the eye while shaking his hand. Baker was left with the clear impression Watson was trying to intimidate. Expect similar moves at Gleneagles.

McGinley: One of the reasons why Rory McIlroy was so effusive about McGinley for captain is his work in this area, where his attention to detail is second to none. Brilliant in this regard when Britain and Ireland captain at the Seve Trophy. Europe one up Home advantage

Watson: One of the reasons why Watson was picked was to nullify the partisanship of the Gleneagles crowd. Will the cheers ring out quite so raucously when the opposition is led by the golfing hero of so many Watch Watson play on this for all it is worth – and it is worth a lot.

McGinley: Not one of life's cheerleaders like all the other recent captains on home soil. His relatively low profile means that the roars when he appears on the first tee may well feel slightly muted when compared to previous matches. All Square

McGinley

Media Relations

Watson: In the press room, Watson is second to none. When he's telling one of his stories he has an audience of usually hard-bitten journalists eating out of his hand. Anticipate glowing testaments from the usually hostile UK press.

McGinley: Contrary to popular opinion, journalists like a bit of intelligence and the erudite McGinley has it in spades. Expect passionate and articulate answers laced with enough lines to keep even the most cynical tabloid man happy. All Square Speeches

Watson: One thing's for sure – he won't be standing up and forgetting how many children he has, like Hal Sutton did in 2004. At the opening ceremony expect a speech that strays perilously close to cheese territory but is also filled with grace and warmth.

McGinley: The fundamental reason why so many of the Medinah miracle makers wanted McGinley as captain is to do with his powers of persuasion in the team room. Knows what to say at the right time. Europe one up

McGinley factfile

1966: Born December 16 in Dublin. 1986: Promising Gaelic football career is ended by a broken kneecap. 1987: Wins an Irish youth cap in golf. 1988: Becomes Irish youths champion. 1989: Crowned Irish amateur champion. 1991: Earns a Walker Cup cap and turns professional. 1993: Makes his Dunhill Cup and World Cup debuts. 1996: Claims first European Tour win, in Austria. 1997: Achieves his second European Tour victory, and wins World Cup with Padraig Harrington. 2001: Wins Wales Open. 2002: Finishes 18th in first Masters. Makes his Ryder Cup debut and holes the winning putt. 2004: Earns second Ryder Cup cap and finishes unbeaten in a record nine-point win for Europe. 2005: Wins Volvo Masters to finish third on European money list and reach a career-high 18th in world rankings. 2006: Third Ryder Cup cap, and again McGinley plays his part in a nine-point win. 2009: Captains Britain and Ireland to Seve Trophy win. 2010: Among Europe's vice-captains in Ryder Cup win at Celtic Manor. 2011: Makes his 500th European Tour start and captains Britain and Ireland to another Seve Trophy win. 2012: Among vice-captains in another Ryder Cup win for Europe, this time at Medinah. 2013: Named Europe's captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup, to be staged at Gleneagles.

Ryder Cup record:

Caps: 3 (2002-04-06) Matches played: 9 (4 foursomes, 2 fourballs, 3 singles) Wins: 2 (1 foursomes, 1 singles) Halved: 5 (2 fourballs, 1 foursomes, 2 singles) Lost: 2 (2 foursomes) Points: 4 1/2

Judd Trump wear spiky shoes at snooker – that cost 845!

Trumped in the fashion stakes Judd sends snooker loopy with crazy spiky shoes… and they'll cost you more than 800 (if you'd actually want them, that is!)

By
Dan Ripley

PUBLISHED:

16:47 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:20 GMT, 15 January 2013

Snooker isn’t the sort of game where you let your feet do the talking but Judd Trump has sure made a decent effort to try to change that.

The 23-year-old has caught the attention of many in the game, with his quick playing style already making him world No 1 last year, but it is his footwear that is now the talk of the baize.

Spiky competitor: Judd Trump's loafers caught the attention at Alexandra Palace

Spiky competitor: Judd Trump's loafers caught the attention at Alexandra Palace

Talk of the baize: Judd Trump's spiked loafers caught the attention at Alexandra Palace

Playing in the Masters tournament at Alexandra Palace, the current world No 2 took to the table in his last 16 clash win over Barry Hawkins wearing a pair of spiked loafers.

Being snooker, they are unlikely to have any impact on his performance at the famous event which is contested by 16 of the game’s top ranked players.

But fans hoping to snap up a similar pair to practice in may want to double check the price tag before doing so.

The Juddernaut’s loafers are a bold
fashion statement as they are a pair of Christian Louboutin’s Rollerboy
Spikes that would set you back 845.

Those
still interested in following in the footsteps of the 2011 World
Championship runner-up may instead want to save their spikes for a
mid-week six-reds tournament down the local snooker club.

Ace of baize: Trump plays a shot in his last 16 Masters match with Barry Hawkins

Ace of baize: Trump plays a shot in his last 16 Masters match with Barry Hawkins (below)

Full focus: Trump plays a shot in his last 16 Masters match with Barry Hawkins

Trump survived a huge scare to seal his spot in the quarter-finals of the Betfair Masters with a nail-biting 6-5 victory over Hawkins, claiming the win with a superb century.

The 23-year-old, who was last year's semi-finalist and widely fancied to go all the way at Alexandra Palace this time, looked destined for an early exit after Hawkins rattled off three successive frames from 3-2 down to leave himself within sight of the win.

However, Trump battled back with a 105 break before edging a tension-filled 10th frame – where Hawkins missed a couple of a straightforward-looking pots with victory within his grasp – to send the match to a decider.

No doubt relieved to still be in contention, the Bristolian made no mistake in the final frame as he rattled off a break of 107 to claim the win and set up a quarter-final meeting with Graeme Dott.

James Degale wins WBC silver belt in Hull

Degale takes step towards world title shot with impressive points win over Zuniga

PUBLISHED:

23:50 GMT, 8 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

12:27 GMT, 9 December 2012

James Degale produced arguably the performance of his fledgling professional career with a classy unanimous decision victory over veteran Fulgencio Zuniga to win the lightly regarded WBC silver super-middleweight title in Hull.

Degale, who has struggled to match expectations in the paid ranks that were placed on him after winning a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, took the fight to his opponent from the opening bell and knocked him down with a beautifully timed left in the third round.

The Colombian barely survived and
although Degale could not finish the job, he was rarely troubled as all
three judges scored the contest 118-109 in his favour.

On the deck: James Degale sent Fulgencio Zuniga crashing to the canvas but could not force a stoppage

On the deck: James Degale sent Fulgencio Zuniga crashing to the canvas but could not force a stoppage

Clinical: Degale gets on the inside of Fulgencio Zuniga

Degale (14-1) knew he had to impress tonight after a rather uninspiring points decision victory over the little-known Hadillah Mohoumadi two months ago.

The reigning European super-middleweight landed several decent shots in the first and had his man down with a glorious uppercut in the third. Despite surviving the count, Zuniga, who has challenged for world titles at three different weights, was on shaky legs as Degale went in for the kill.

Tough shot: Degale lands a shuddering uppercut as he continues on the road to a world title shot

Tough shot: Degale lands a shuddering uppercut as he continues on the road to a world title shot

Through the defences: Degale lands another blow on his way to victory

Referee Luigi Muratore may have inadvertently given Zuniga valuable seconds to recover after thinking he had heard the bell to end the round but after realising his mistake, allowed the fight to continue.

Zuniga was rocked once more but the end of the round prevented Degale from an early win.

The 26-year-old continued to use his impressive hand speed to excellent effect and Zuniga was visibly stunned in the sixth round but managed to stay on his feet.

Comeback: Degale has won two fights in quick succession after a spell in the wilderness

Comeback: Degale has won two fights in quick succession after a spell in the wilderness

Zuniga was looking increasingly clueless against Degale's speed but valiantly kept ploughing forward as his opponent's work-rate dipped slightly.

He did land a decent right in the 11th but it was too little, too late as Degale continued his march towards a world title shot.

In other action, Chris Eubank Jr continued his burgeoning career with a second-round technical knockout of Olegs Fedotovs to improve his record to nine wins from as many fights.

Eubank Jr, son of the former two-weight world champion, was competing in his second bout in eight days after defeating Bradley Pryce on points last Saturday.

Tough test: Chris Eubank Jnr stopped Olegs Fedotovs to remain undefeated in the professional ranks

Tough test: Chris Eubank Jnr stopped Olegs Fedotovs to remain undefeated in the professional ranks

Tough test: Chris Eubank Jnr stopped Olegs Fedotovs to remain undefeated in the professional ranks

Rugby World Cup 2015: England dismiss Wales offer to host showdown

England dismiss cheeky Wales offer to host World Cup showdown

|

UPDATED:

14:34 GMT, 4 December 2012

Rugby Football Union chief executive
Ian Ritchie has rejected the proposal that England's crunch 2015 Rugby
World Cup pool match against Wales should be played in Cardiff.

England are the host nation of the
tournament but the RFU's bid included the prospect of the Millennium
Stadium being used for up to eight matches, including two
quarter-finals.

Cheeky: Wales want to host England at the Milennium Stadium

Cheeky: Wales offered to play England at the Millennium Stadium

England and Wales were drawn together alongside Australia in the World Cup's pool of death, with the likelihood of them being joined by Fiji as Oceania qualifiers.

Immediately after the draw, Welsh Rugby Union boss Roger Lewis suggested Wales should play England at the Millennium Stadium because 'it is the finest rugby stadium in the world'.

Ritchie's response to the WRU was a polite thank you but no thank you – and that is the message he will take to the board of England Rugby 2015, who will make the final decision on venues.

'We have a very nice home of our own and I would hope very much we would contemplate playing the match here,' said Ritchie, who is overseeing a 76million upgrade of Twickenham stadium.

'With our modest little stadium here at
Twickenham, with the further investment we might be able to make it into
a decent spot to play rugby.

'We equally believe we are very good hosts here and that we could hold a
decent game here and would very much want to do that. Shock, horror and
astonishment that I would suggest that!

'We will not get a better opportunity to inspire people to play rugby, be volunteers and participate in rugby.

'We are putting the building blocks in place to make sure we can take the most advantage of having the World Cup.'

Home: England will be determined to host the match at Twickenham

Home: England will host the match at Twickenham

England coach Stuart Lancaster is
convinced home advantage could make a decisive difference at the World
Cup and he wants to be at Twickenham, where his team were roared on to a
record 38-21 victory over world champions New Zealand on Saturday.

'Clearly from our point of view Twickenham would be our preferred venue,' Lancaster said after the draw was made.

'Before the All Blacks game I was asked about the haka and said that we'd respect it as a cultural ritual but it was also true we had 82,000 people behind us.

'We certainly felt that in the stands and I am sure (captain) Chris (Robshaw) and the boys felt it on the pitch. It was an unbelievable atmosphere. It was a special day.

'What home advantage did for the Olympians is a great example of how it inspires people to an extra five or 10 per cent and sometimes at this level that's what's needed.

'It's massive for England to have the World Cup here. For the game in general, so many people who will benefit from the tournament which will last way beyond 2015.'

Australia are the top seeds in the group with England in the second tier and Wales slipped into the third band after last weekend's 14-12 defeat to the Wallabies.

Lancaster's plan is to turn those seedings upside down by using victory over the All Blacks as a launchpad to propel England into the top two in the world by 2015.

'Our self-belief has grown, but it has to continue to grow to a point where we are consistent,' he said.

'We want to improve our rankings so that we're a top two side by the time the World Cup comes around.

'If we get to that point, we'll know we've got the consistency and inner belief to get across the line.'

Harry Redknapp thinks Queens Park Rangers can beat relegation

Redknapp optimistic that scrappy QPR can beat drop after stopping the rot at Sunderland

|

UPDATED:

00:54 GMT, 28 November 2012

New QPR boss Harry Redknapp believes he has the players to scramble out of trouble after picking up a point in his first game with a 0-0 draw at Sunderland last night.

Redknapp said: 'This was good for us. You can only work with what you've got, we can't pluck anyone out of the air, so we just have to get the best out of players I have.

'We came in on Sunday and on Monday I picked the team and worked with the shape. I thought the midfield looked strong and powerful and they have bags of ability. There were some good points to come from it.'

Welcome back: Harry Redknapp was on the touchline for the first time for Queens Park Rangers

Welcome back: Harry Redknapp was on the touchline for the first time for Queens Park Rangers

Redknapp added: 'I certainly feel a lot more optimistic than I did on Saturday night (after watching QPR lose at Manchester United), that's for sure.

'We worked hard. I was really pleased with how we defended.

'When we had to, we denied them opportunities and we had several ourselves so there were a lot of positives.

'It is going to be tough. We can't kid ourselves but we will look at positives. I can see there are some decent players who need to be a team and if we can get them working together then we must have a chance.'

Rangers now face Villa – whose win against Reading last night took them out of the relegation zone – at Loftus Road on Saturday and Redknapp believes the fans will have a crucial role to play in their survival fight.

Flair player: Adel Taarabt was reunited with former Spurs boss Radknapp

Flair player: Adel Taarabt was reunited with former Spurs boss Radknapp

Powerful: Redknapp was pleased with the strength of players like Samba Diakite (left)

Powerful: Redknapp was pleased with the strength of players like Samba Diakite (left)

He said: 'It's a big game. I see a lot of similarities with Portsmouth, which is the same type of stadium. We have to make Loftus Road intimidating, show we can have a real go and get the fans right behind us.'

Sunderland never recovered from the sixth-minute substitution of captain Lee Cattermole who will have a scan on his knee amid fears he has damaged medial ligaments.

Up for a scrap Djibril Cisse will need to produce some goals to propel QPR out of the bottom three

Up for a scrap Djibril Cisse will need to produce some goals to propel QPR out of the bottom three

That's handy: Redknapp gestures to his players from the touchline

That's handy: Redknapp gestures to his players from the touchline

The home side, who are now level on points with Villa, created only two chances for Steven Fletcher, who was denied by Julio Cesar and then Robert Green after the Brazilian keeper suffered a groin injury which forced him off at the break.

Sunderland have now won only four of their last 27 games and are in danger of being dragged into the relegation battle themselves.

Manager Martin O'Neill said: 'We knew they would be buoyed by Harry's arrival and it was a tough night. You can feel the crowd getting edgy. We have to tough it out.'

'It was a rather frustrating evening, I think frustration would sum it up.

'It was tough for us. Losing Cattermole so early on in the game disrupted us somewhat, but even so, that's a handicap you have to overcome.

'It was just a frustrating evening.'

Cattermole, who shook off a knee injury to start, departed with just seven minutes played having damaged the other knee in a 50-50 challenge with Samba Diakite.

The Northern Irishman said: 'It was his other knee that he hurt, funnily enough, in the block challenge and as we speak now, he's in a lot of pain, so that would be a blow to us if that was the case.

'It seemed as if it was the same knee – I thought immediately that was the case – but it's not, it's his other knee.'

Harry Redknapp inherits flawed QPR squad

Flaw show for Harry as QPR throw away lead against United at Old Trafford

|

UPDATED:

23:18 GMT, 25 November 2012

After sitting in the directors’ box at Old Trafford for 80 minutes, Harry Redknapp can probably sum up the Queens Park Rangers squad he has inherited from Mark Hughes. Decent players. Deep flaws.

A goal up and less than half an hour left, the Barclays Premier League’s bottom team sensed increasing desperation in their opponents. There was a restless home crowd, too.

Three goals in 10 minutes undid them, though, and once again QPR were left to lament basic mistakes. Errors in concentration, errors in application and errors in decision making.

Work to be done: QPR manager Harry Redknapp takes his first training session

Work to be done: QPR manager Harry Redknapp takes his first training session

Forward Jamie Mackie summed it up, saying: ‘When you look at Man United you see the greatest club in the world and their basics are spot on.

‘That’s what it takes to win these games and, if we can take anything from this great club, it’s that. We were leading and failed to do the basics at two set pieces. That’s unacceptable. We need to eradicate the soft goals because they are killing us.

‘Its a real shame. We have to take responsibility. The previous manager brought a lot of these players in and there were some good players here already. It’s no good pointing the finger at anybody else.’

Down and out: QPR took the lead at Old Trafford but conceded three

Down and out: QPR took the lead at Old Trafford but conceded three

Having scored his team’s goal, Mackie was also one of QPR’s better players. During Hughes’s time, though, the players did not apply themselves. On Saturday they did for long periods for caretaker boss Mark Bowen.

Bowen refused to criticise the club’s owners and offered his services to Redknapp if required. Deep down, though, he knows he will lose his job today. ‘It hurts but we will be back and Mark will definitely be back,’ he said.

As for United, this was the ninth time in 13 league games that they have had to come from behind.

Headers from Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher put them in command and substitute Javier Hernandez stroked in the third.

Signed, sealed, delivered: Javier Hernandez fires in United's third

Signed, sealed, delivered: Javier Hernandez fires in United's third

It’s a habit Sir Alex Ferguson’s team cannot allow to continue. Wayne Rooney said: ‘It’s happening too many times. We need to take control of games.’

Redknapp, meanwhile, has opened the door for David Beckham, calling the 37-year-old a ‘fantastic’ footballer who could ‘still play in the Premier League’.

He added: ‘David could still be a great asset. Just having him round the place, showing people how to train and look after yourself. His professionalism is second to none.’

Joe Hart scores overhead kick in Manchester City training

England keeper Joe Hart shows he can score an overhead kick just like Ibrahimovic

|

UPDATED:

15:58 GMT, 15 November 2012

Joe Hart may have been beaten FOUR times by Zlatan Ibrahimovic last night – but he has proved that he has some of the Swede's magic himself.

The England goalkeeper suffered a nightmare evening at the hands of Ibrahimovic as the hitman inspired the comeback for a 4-2 win in Stockholm.

Although he's more at home in his
gloves, Hart considers himself a decent player with the ball and
regularly gets stuck in at Manchester City training with the star outfield players.

Scroll down to watch Hart's heroics in training…
Flying solo: Joe Hart celebrated this superb overhead kick in training at Carrington

Flying solo: Joe Hart celebrated this superb overhead kick in training at Carrington

Flying solo: Joe Hart celebrated this superb overhead kick in training at Carrington

And he's even been filmed scoring an
overhead kick of his own – although it's not quite in the same bracket
at Ibrahimovic's effort.

Put
through his paces by the coaches at Carrington, Hart reacts to the ball
pinging off the crossbar by priming himself for an effort.

Twisting his body into position, the 25-year-old executes a brilliant overhead kick to beat his fellow City goalkeepers.

Night to forget: Joe Hart suffered at the hands of Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Night to forget: Joe Hart suffered at the hands of Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Wonder goal: Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck a stunning overhead kick

Wonder goal: Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck a stunning overhead kick

After the ball hits the back of the net, Hart turns to the cameras to celebrate with a grin like a boy scoring his first primary school goal.

City boss Mancini may be happy with his Safe Hands inbetween the posts. But judging by this evidence, he could do far worse than sticking him up front…

See the video here…

DM.has('rcpv1969978330001','BCVideo');

India preparations leave England in a spin – The Top Spin, Lawrence Booth

India preparations leave England in a spin, but for captain Cook's charges the warm-up has barely begun

|

UPDATED:

12:41 GMT, 13 November 2012

A fortnight in India is usually enough for the wide-eyed tourist to get his bearings. Some need a little longer. But for England's cricketers – 10 of whom are on their first Test tour here – time has now run out.

Ten days of warm-up cricket have, it's true, brought some reward. There have been five hundreds and 10 fifties, and not a single member of the Test top seven can reasonably fret about being out of nick. It is hard to recall an England trip quite like it.

But the effect has been almost unreal, like sitting a mock exam with the answers laid out in front of you. Because, as you will have noticed unless you've only just returned from a holiday on Pluto, England's exposure to top-rank spin has been strictly limited.

Final preparations: England begin their Test series against India in decent shape

Final preparations: England begin their Test series against India in decent shape

More from Lawrence Booth…

The Top Spin: Why India are clinging to faith in England's ineptitude against spin
06/11/12

The Top Spin: England's batsmen show they are still struggling to get to grips with spin
24/09/12

The Top Spin: England voyage into the unknown on a wing and a prayer
18/09/12

The Top Spin: Bears, Twitter and textgate… a review of the summer that was
10/09/12

The Top Spin: KP's England future is more dependent on his attitude than he may realise
03/09/12

The Top Spin: Strauss's future uncertain after mid-table mediocrity takes hold at precisely the wrong moment
21/08/12

The Top Spin: Don't judge Pietersen – leave that up to Flower and Strauss
14/08/12

The Top Spin: Pietersen chasing omnium of desires… love, 10,000 Test runs and to be rich
07/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The Indian teams have been well within their rights, of course. The days when tourists were given a proper workout ahead of the Tests are gone now that Australia no longer have the same depth. And there are times when county cricket ought to be ashamed of the XIs it fields against our guests.

Yet the upshot is that we are no closer to knowing whether England's achilles heel – everyone's favourite Trojan War hero has been clocking up the name-checks of late – has been properly plastered over.

It's not just that the best spinner they have faced has been Amit Mishra, who ascribed his bowling of only 17.1 overs out of 193.3 for Haryana partly to a sore finger.

But England are yet to bat on a pitch that has been anything other than flat, nor older than three and a bit days. The true test will come on a fifth-day crumbler against Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, with Ashwin already talking darkly of a mystery ball – another pre-England-series staple these days in the grand manner of Shane Warne and Saeed Ajmal.

England have done all they can in the circumstances, chalking up totals of 426, 345 for 9, 149 for 2, 521 and 254 for 7 (when several of their wickets were thrown away ahead of a declaration). It's just possible that India may come to regret allowing all of their batsmen to find their groove. As own-goals go, it would be spectacular.

Yet for all the focus on spin, there are other issues to resolve. For a start, England are yet to encounter anything approaching the skill of Zaheer Khan or the pace of Umesh Yadav, who are likely to share the new ball for India – at least until Zaheer's next injury crisis.

Their own bowling attack is hardly a picture of fighting fitness itself. Steven Finn – to his chagrin – is out of the reckoning after failing to bowl at training on Tuesday morning, while Stuart Broad is set to play in the Ahmedabad Test, starting on Thursday, after sending down only 10 first-class overs on tour.

The phrase 'not ideal' has become de rigueur in press conferences. It may be erring on the side of generosity.

Neither has Graeme Swann been fine-tuned to the degree England would like. To the relief of everyone, not least the Swann family, his baby daughter Charlotte recovered well enough for her dad to return to India on Monday morning. But since bowling 23 overs on the opening day of the tour's curtain-raiser against India A, he has sent down only a further five.

Mo problems: The batsmen are in good nick... but are yet to face frontline spinners

Mo problems: The batsmen are in good nick... but are yet to face frontline spinners

Mo problems: The batsmen are in good nick… but are yet to face the frontline spinners

In the meantime, Monty Panesar has bowled 66. Panesar could yet be an outside bet for a place in a four-man attack ahead of Tim Bresnan, yet the balance of so many aspects of England's game depends rather more on Swann.

THE TOP SPIN ON TWITTER

For cricket-related snippets from England's tour of India, go to twitter.com/the_topspin

It's not just the bowling attack. The retirement of Andrew Strauss means Swann is now England's banker in the slips, standing at second early on, then ousting Alastair Cook to become the lone slip when the ball gets older (although Jonathan Trott, and not Jimmy Anderson, will take the spot when Swann or Samit Patel are bowling).

Cook's fallibility – his miss of Alviro Petersen at Headingley arguably cost England their No 1 ranking – and the fact that the third-slip position will depend on who is bowling, both place extra pressure on Swann to catch everything that comes his way.

And that may just sum up England's predicament. India may have a few issues of their own, but Cook needs to wring every last drop of perspiration and inspiration from his team if they are to stand a chance. Really, the warm-up has barely begun.

Sitting it out: Finn is expected to miss the first Test in Ahmedabad

Sitting it out: Finn is expected to miss the first Test in Ahmedabad

EVEREST COMPETITION WINNERS

Last week we asked you to name the member of the England tour party who climbed to Everest base camp five years ago. As most of you knew, it was Nick Compton.

But there are only three lucky winners of a copy of Alan Curr's new book: Cricket on Everest: The Inspirational Story of the World’s Highest Cricket Match. Congratulations to John Bartlett, Mark Klein and Duncan MacKenzie.

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

All-out attack

Full marks to the Indian brains trust, whose attempts to remind England of their fallibility against spin at every, ahem, turn, even extended during the bore-draw against Haryana to the press conferences.

On the second evening, the 22-year-old off-spinner Jayant Yadav was impressively quick to make the point that England had been 'very uncomfortable' against him, a view based on his contention that they had been quick to use their feet (damned if you do, damned if you don't).

In a spin: Yadav says England struggled against him in the Haryana warm-up

In a spin: Yadav says England struggled against him in the Haryana warm-up

Yadav's assault was almost as withering as England's on the Haryana bowling during their first-innings 521 at 4.4 an over. And yet there was a point amid the propaganda. Against Yadav and the leg-spin of Amit Mishra, England lost 8 for 177. Against Haryana's four seamers, it was 1 for 332.

Gavaskar plays down the hype

Duncan Fletcher once made the point that it is always sad when a good wine goes sour. He was talking about Sunil Gavaskar. The Top Spin couldn't possibly comment, except to say that Gavaskar's columns in the Times of India do a consistently fine job of proving Fletcher’s point.

In his latest one, a bizarre screed in which he argues that a three-Test series has more chance of producing a result than a four-Test series, Gavaskar writes: 'The India-England series has been over-hyped, as is the case with any series involving England.' Pots and kettles, Sunny, pots and kettles…

Anorak heaven

After attending our first Ranji Trophy match in Mumbai the other week, the Top Spin now cannot get enough. And some of the scorecards in the recent round of games made for eye-watering reading.

The stattos at Tamil Nadu (538 for 4) v Karnataka (562 for 6) would have enjoyed themselves, but not half as much as those who sat through Maharashtra (764 for 6) against Uttar Pradesh (528 for 5).

Master blaster: Tendulkar at the crease during a Ranji Trophy match - but the big runs were scored by others

Master blaster: Tendulkar at the crease during a Ranji Trophy match – but the big runs were scored by others

But our favourite has to be Gujarat against Saurashtra. Gujarat had done pretty well to make 600 for 9. Or so they thought. Because Saurashtra responded with a merciless 716 for 3, which included a third-wicket stand of 539 between Sagar Jogiyani (carelessly run out for 282) and Ravindra Jadeja, who finished unbeaten on 303.

The partnership takes its place in the top ten highest stands for any wicket in first-class history.

Come again!

The most unsettling part of last week's story about former Australian batsman Greg Ritchie's use of a racist epithet during a lunch-time speech at the Gabba Members' Club was that no one had complained before.

'I have told the story 500 times during the course of my speaking career,' said Ritchie. 'I do it verbatim.' Tasteless and unoriginal – it's some double whammy.

Rory McIlroy with Caroline Wozniacki at Singapore Open

Rory laps it up! McIlroy sitting pretty with Caroline as world No 1 finds form

|

UPDATED:

12:58 GMT, 10 November 2012

World No 1 Rory McIlroy made early ground on leader Thomas Bjorn on the third day of the Barclays Singapore Open.

The Northern Irishman picked up two shots on the back nine to go to four under but that still left him five adrift of the Dane as play closed early for the day due to darkness.

It was again a mixed bag for McIlroy whose struggles of the first two days continued as he picked up four shots in all but also dropped two with a double-bogey six at the 444-yard sixth.

Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy

Taking it easy: Rory McIlroy with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki as he looks to make progress in Singapore

Having picked up a shot at the par three second he then eagled the 586-yard fourth before throwing away what he had gained two holes later.

A double-bogey six on the sixth was followed by a birdie on the seventh as McIlroy went out in 34 as he looked to improve on shooting 70 on each of the first two days.

'Two under through nine
was a pretty decent effort, but I probably need a few more birdies
tomorrow morning to get myself within a few shots of the lead going into
the fourth round,' he said.

On the move: McIlroy improved on day three but still trails leader Thomas Bjorn (below) in Singapore

On the move: McIlroy improved on day three but still trails leader Thomas Bjorn (below) in Singapore

Thomas Bjorn

Bjorn made a steady start by parring his first three holes to retain the lead on nine under, the Dane one shot ahead of England's Chris Wood who picked up one stroke with a birdie on the second.

South African George Coetzee was alone in third on seven under and Italian Francesco Molinari shared fourth a shot further back with Thailand's Chapchai Nirat.

Bjorn was in good spirits as he looked for his first win of the year.

'This course can very quickly bite you, especially if you don't drive the ball well,' he told the European Tour website after completing his second round.

'The numbers can run up on this golf course, so you've got to stay with what you're doing. I've enjoyed these two days, and it's nice to play some good stuff but there's still a long way to go in this golf tournament. I've got two good rounds in the bank but there's a way to go.'

The talk is over… it"s time for England to deliver

The talk is over… it's time for England to deliver (starting with a big win over understrength Fiji)

|

UPDATED:

23:15 GMT, 9 November 2012

England are in such a heightened state of readiness for this arduous autumn series that they even turned up for Test week armed with gift-wrapped soundbites. ‘It’s production time,’ said Stuart Lancaster. ‘Time to rebuild the fortress,’ said various players.

Quite right, on both counts. Management and squad are alert to the shifting of emphasis and mood since they were last at Twickenham.

Back in March, England were coming off a win in Paris and the warmth of the reception from the stands as Ireland were put to the sword was founded on the public’s support for a decent man as Lancaster made a promising pitch to retain his interim role long-term.

Driving forward: England captain Robshaw sets the

Driving forward: England captain Robshaw sets the

Back then, the host nation were still raw from the wounding aftermath of the World Cup, so the revival in the Six Nations created a bubble of relief and hope, especially as the players responsible were new and young and so evidently awash with pride and spirit. But times have changed. Expectation levels have increased.

Those who swarm into HQ today will bring with them a desire to see all the talk of progress writ large on the famous field. They will know that Lancaster is now in charge for the foreseeable future and that his coaching staff is complete. They will know that the ground-work in the championship was followed by a necessary quantum leap in intensity during the June series in South Africa, when England found out what was required to live with the southern hemisphere elite.

Going through the paces: The England players have a final practice at Twickenham

Going through the paces: The England players have a final practice at Twickenham

Lancaster is no fool, so he is aware that the stakes have been raised — hence the ‘production time’ remark. And his players know all too well that England’s stadium has been plundered far too often by southern visitors in the last nine years, having previously been a place even the All Blacks approached with caution. So re-establishing the ‘fortress’ aura is an urgent priority.

A sudden barrage of injury setbacks have been cruel to Lancaster, just when he thought he might have something approaching a first-choice team available, but that is no excuse.

All together: The England team gather during training at Twickenham

All together: The England team gather during training at Twickenham

England as a rugby nation of such bountiful resources should be able to absorb the loss of a few good men and still send out a line-up capable of mixing it with all-comers at home. So the loss of Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes, Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Jonathan Joseph must be taken in stride.

There will be three debutants in white today — Tom Youngs starting at hooker and Mako Vunipola and Joe Launchbury on the bench providing cover at prop and lock or flanker respectively.

In addition, Joe Marler, Tom Johnson, Thomas Waldrom and Alex Goode will all be making their first Test appearances at Twickenham, but they have been in front of full houses there before, so the arena should hold no demons.

Running game: Tom Johnson runs with the ball during training

Running game: Tom Johnson runs with the ball during training

What’s more, Lancaster is adamant that the players he has brought in are the best available, in which case they must be judged without too much allowance for the naivety of youth.

The IRB rankings provide a constant backdrop this autumn, as countries jostle for position prior to the World Cup pool draw on December3. England are fourth on the list and Fiji down in 14th.

Enlarge

England Line up

The visitors have a swathe of newcomers in their squad, are unable to pick several leading players based at European clubs and did not even arrive in this country with enough appropriate kit. As ever, however, the Pacific Island side possess raw quality and a willingness to run from all parts.

They have ample power and a high-class flanker in Gloucester’s Akapusi Qera, but what they do not have is a promising record in this fixture. England have played four against Fiji and won the lot.

This time, England should be well capable of squeezing their opponents and building a steady lead before cutting loose when their superior fitness and collective understanding starts to tell.

What Lancaster really needs is a performance mixing power, precision and the hint of a swagger to set his team up for Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

There will be plenty of focus on Tom Youngs, who could install himself as the preferred deputy to Hartley or even make himself a rival to the Northampton captain.

There will be an onus on Waldrom to impress, as Ben Morgan is breathing down his neck. The same could be said for Danny Care, who has Ben Youngs close behind.

Midfield has been a problem area for most of England’s recent history and the underlying issue now is how best to harness the brute force of Manu Tuilagi. Brad Barritt will today resume his quest to be considered the ideal foil for Leicester’s Anglo-Samoan wrecking ball, but the No 12 must offer proof that he can be a creative presence at Test level.

He must do so while confronted by a giant combination in midfield for Fiji — Sireli Naqelevuki of Exeter and Leicester’s Vereniki Goneva.

There will soon come a time when the England line-up must be settled and galvanised — preferably just before the All Blacks sweep into Twickenham on December 1.

Enlarge

Scouting report