Tag Archives: englishman

Tony Bellew draws with Isaac Chilemba, putting Chad Dawson title fight in jeopardy

Bellew left frustrated in bid to line up Dawson title fight after draw with Chilemba

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

01:10 GMT, 31 March 2013

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UPDATED:

01:12 GMT, 31 March 2013

Tony Bellew was left frustrated in Liverpool after a lackadaisical performance saw him draw with fellow world title contender Isaac Chilemba in Liverpool.

The 30-year-old Scouser knew victory in this WBC light-heavyweight title final eliminator would put him in position to take on American champion Chad Dawson, who first defends his title against Adonis Stevenson in June.

Bellew was unable to force that title challenge, though, with a laboured night's work in front of 7,000 partisan fans at the Echo Arena in his home city.

Bellew – with a record of 19-1 with 12 early wins heading in – is ranked at number one with the WBC having steadily rebuilt since his only career defeat, which came against British rival Nathan Cleverly for the Welshman's WBO title in 2011.

Head-to-head: Tony Bellew (right) drew with Isaac Chilemba

Head-to-head: Tony Bellew (right) drew with Isaac Chilemba

Malawi native Chilemba, with a record of 20-1-1 (9KO wins) heading into the encounter, represented another step up for the Englishman and boasted a number three ranking with the WBC.

Everton fanatic Bellew, watched by Toffees manager David Moyes in the crowd and entering the ring the club's Z Cars theme tune, started positively in an untidy first round, landing a solid early right hand to mark Chilemba's card before the two had to be pulled apart after the bell.

Bellew employed the jab in the second with some success but Chilemba was ready to counter when the chance arose.

Both men landed stiff right hands in an otherwise-tepid third round with Bellew struggling to pin down the visitor. Both men traded close-in in the fourth with Bellew just about coming off better thanks to a stern body shot and right hand.

Another burst of action saw the Scouser repeat the attack with a left hook to the stomach and glancing right but Chilemba was certainly making a fight of it.

Chilemba bullied the home favourite across the ring with one attack without doing any real damage but looked to have done enough to win the round.

Bellew was labouring but did land a long right hand in the sixth, though the African was landing more prolifically. Chilemba was progressing from prey to predator, taking ring centre in the middle rounds. A Bellew right made him think twice for a moment.

Chilemba was more accurate and, as his confidence grew, more aggressive. The consensus at ringside was that the fight was level after eight rounds but Chilemba had the momentum heading into the ninth. Chilemba landed two body shots before Bellew responded with a booming right and following it up with two more decent shots.

The Englishman had sparked into life at last, doubling up the jab before a left to the body and short right gave him a strong finish before the bell.

Chilemba began the 10th well, landing hard shots from range and edging the round. The underdog's combination punching was superior too as he arguably did enough to take the 11th, picking his punches and landing eye-catching shots with the right.

It was all to play for heading into the final round and Chilemba landed a right followed by a counter left hook to Bellew's temple.

Bellew still seemed flat, only sporadically forcing the action as he urged the crowd to gee him up. A right to the body did land for the Briton but he faced an anxious wait before scores were read out.
One judge scored it 116-112 for Chilemba, another 116-115 for Bellew and the third had it level at 114-114 to leave both men disappointed.

Bellew said afterwards: 'I thought I won nine out of the 12 rounds and even Chilemba's trainer Buddy McGirt, one of the most respected men in boxing, told me he thought I won. I've got a lot of time for Chilemba he's a good fighter and a tough man but I won the fight.'

Jack Wilshere reveals how he got Lionel Messi and Xavi"s shirt

Xavi had the hump with me but I still got his and Messi's shirts, reveals Arsenal ace Wilshere

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

11:58 GMT, 29 January 2013

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UPDATED:

12:11 GMT, 29 January 2013

Few can boast to have given Barcelona star Xavi such a run for his money that the Spaniard has left the pitch in the huff.

But Jack Wilshere managed just that while still a teenager in 2011. And now the Arsenal star has revealed his adversary begrudgingly handed over his shirt after the pair did battle in the Champions League.

Making his mark: Jack Wilshere more than matched Xavi and Lionel Messi when they faced off in the Champions League back in 2011

Making his mark: Jack Wilshere more than matched Xavi and Lionel Messi when they faced off in the Champions League back in 2011

Making his mark: Jack Wilshere more than matched Xavi and Lionel Messi when they faced off in the Champions League back in 2011

The two-legged tie, won 4-3 on
aggregate by the Catalans, was seen as a coming of age moment for the
young Englishman, standing up as he did to one of modern football's
truly great midfielders.

Arsenal had edged the opening leg 2-1, but were downed, not for the first time, by Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp.

Despite the result, though, all was not well for one of the victors.

'I asked Xavi for his but he had the hump a bit,' said Wilshere. 'So he just threw me his shirt and strolled off. I asked Cesc Fabregas to get me Messi's because they’re good friends, and he did.'

Xavi was also on the scoresheet on the night of the second leg and it is that element of his game that Wilshere admits he most needs to improve.

The 21-year-old has scored twice this season having only previously grabbed three in three years as a first-team player.

He added: 'I'm working on it. I was always top scorer in the youth team but I didn’t score enough in my first year and then I got injured for the whole season. So I’m building up again this year, then next season I’m going to start scoring.'

PSG and former Chelsea performance chief Nick Broad killed in car crash

Cole and Reid lead tributes after PSG and former Chelsea performance chief Broad killed in car crash

By
Dave Wood

PUBLISHED:

23:16 GMT, 18 January 2013

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UPDATED:

23:16 GMT, 18 January 2013

Former Chelsea Head of Sports Science Nick Broad was killed in a car crash on Friday. He was 38.

The Englishman was part of Carlo Ancelotti's backroom staff during his two-year spell at Stamford Bridge from 2009. His role spanned both the coaching and medical departments.

Wel, respected: Nick Broad pictured with Carlo Ancelotti at Paris Saint-Germain

Wel, respected: Nick Broad pictured with Carlo Ancelotti at Paris Saint-Germain

He then followed the Italian to Paris St Germain, where he was the club's performance manager.

Broad, who began his career as a
sports nutritionist at Blackburn Rovers, died in hospital after a road
traffic accident on the outskirts of Paris.

West Brom defender Steven Reid, who
worked with Broad at Blackburn, tweeted: 'Absolutely shocking news that
Nick Broad has died in a road accident.. Worked with Nick at BRFC..
Thoughts go out to his family!! #legend.'

And former Blackburn and Manchester United striker
Andrew Cole added: 'Just heard the news about nick broad shocking news
worked with him at blackburn rovers. Heart goes out to his family.'

The French football league reportedly rejected a request to
postpone PSG's match with Bordeaux on Sunday.

Michael van Gerwen beats James Wade to book place in World Darts final

Mighty Mike hits maximum on the way to booking final place after seeing off Wade

PUBLISHED:

22:36 GMT, 30 December 2012

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UPDATED:

22:36 GMT, 30 December 2012

Michael van Gerwen tonight reached the Ladbrokes World Championship final and went agonisingly close to historic back-to-back nine-dart finishes in his semi-final win over James Wade.

Van Gerwen was leading three sets to one but trailing 2-0 in the fifth set when he produced a perfect leg, matching the achievement of Dean Winstanley earlier in the tournament.

The Dutchman hit a maximum 180, 177 and then finished 144 on double 12 to send the Alexandra Palace crowd wild.

Cloud nine: Michael van Gerwen hit a perfect nine dart finish on the way to booking his place in the final

Cloud nine: Michael van Gerwen hit a perfect nine dart finish on the way to booking his place in the final

And the fans were still on their feet moments later when the speedy right-hander hit two more maximums to start the next leg and narrowly missed double 12 for a checkout on 141.

Remarkably, Van Gerwen did not even win the set, with Englishman Wade holding his nerve to win the fifth leg and reduce his deficit.

The left-hander won the next set as well to make it 3-3, but Van Gerwen regained his composure to open up a 5-3 lead and looked set to seal the win when he needed 52 to win the ninth set.

In top form: Van Gerwen has looked at his very best in the World Championships

In top form: Van Gerwen has looked at his very best in the World Championships

However, he hit single five instead of 12 and ended up missing his only dart at double 20, allowing Wade in to make it 5-4.

Wade was unable to take further advantage though, Van Gerwen racing through the next set 3-0 to complete a hard-fought 6-4 victory.

On the money: Van Gerwen celebrates his perfect leg

On the money: Van Gerwen celebrates his perfect leg

'It was unbelievable,' Van Gerwen said. 'It was a very difficult game for me because Wade is a very slow player and I had not beaten him on TV, but it was a nice one to win.”

Asked about attempting to hit his second nine-dart finish, Van Gerwen added on Sky Sports 1: 'I was very concentrated, thinking 'Just carry on' because I was 2-1 down in the set and I still lost it, but it's not about nine-dart finishes, it's about winning games.

'It's nice to be in the final of the World Championships.'

Beaten man: James Wade looks dejected after losing the semi final

Beaten man: James Wade looks dejected after losing the semi final

Ballon d"Or: the making of the trophy Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andreas Iniesta want

World's oldest jewellers employs six-a-side team to make the Ballon d'Or trophy… but can we see the name they're engraving

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UPDATED:

10:46 GMT, 21 December 2012

The battle has been raging fiercely across the globe since the shortlist of three was announced. Some say Andres Iniesta, a few more back Cristiano Ronaldo, while the majority are firmly in the camp of the three-time winner Lionel Messi.

But tucked away in the basement of a 400-year old family-run Paris jewellers a six-a-side team are quietly beavering away making exactly what it is the world of football is fighting over.

Golden balls: The world's oldest jewellers have a team of six working on the Ballon d'Or trophy

Golden balls: The world's oldest jewellers have a team of six working on the Ballon d'Or trophy

Golden balls: The world's oldest jewellers have a team of six working on the Ballon d'Or trophy

Golden balls: The world's oldest jewellers have a team of six working on the Ballon d'Or trophy

The Ballon d'Or trophy, a brass football dipped in gold, resting on a rocky base of pyrite, has remained largely the same since the original awards ceremony in 1956, won by Englishman Sir Stanley Matthews.

'It's something we're happy be a part of,' Francois Mellerio, who along with his brother Olivier are the 14th generation to run the firm, told AFP.

The jewellers currently employs 12 artisans at its store on Rue de la Paix, six of whom have worked on this year's trophy.

Piece by piece: The same family-run store in Paris have built the trophy every year since 1956

Piece by piece: The same family-run store in Paris have built the trophy every year since 1956

Piece by piece: The same family-run store in Paris have built the trophy every year since 1956

Using a real football as a guide, the
masters of their art weld two brass disks together and painstakingly
chisel the seam lines by hand.

It is then engraved with the award logo and dipped in gold before being attached to the base, which Mellerio explains is the unique part of the design.

'No two rocks are identical, no two emeralds, no two rubies – there's always a difference, that's nature,' he said.

Previously, the jewellers, who also craft the Musketeers' Trophy for the men's singles champion at the French Open, would be given the name of the winner before the big night. Now, though, plaques are engraved with all three names before being attached at the last minute.

Craftsman: All the finishing touches are applied by hand... but who will get their hands on the trophy

Craftsman: All the finishing touches are applied by hand... but who will get their hands on the trophy

Craftsman: All the finishing touches are applied by hand… but who will get their hands on the trophy

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta

The 2012 gong is to be handed out in the first week of next year at a special gala evening celebrating the great and good of the last 12 months.

Barcelona's Messi, whose triumph last year put him on a par with Michel Platini with three, is hot favourite again this time around, though the argument is strong for both team-mate Iniesta and Real Madrid's Ronaldo.

Amir Khan v Carlos Molina: Fans invited to exchange toys for tickets

Amir's toy story! Fans asked to exchange gifts in return for tickets to Khan fight in LA

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UPDATED:

13:22 GMT, 11 December 2012

Fight fans have been offered free tickets to watch Amir Khan's return the ring in Los Angeles this Saturday… in exchange for an unwrapped toy.

Ticket sales have reportedly been slow for the former world light-welterweight champion's comeback clash against Carlos Molina.

But Khan's American Golden Boy promoters want to make a full house at the 17,000 LA Memorial Sports Arena this weekend and have engineered a scheme that will see fans handed tickets – worth as much as 100 – to the the fight in exchange for a unopened toy priced as little as 15.

Golden Boy chief Oscar De La Hoya has come up with the giveaway idea to give to deprived families in time for Christmas.

Amir Khan makes his return to the ring in Los Angeles this weekend

You've got a friend in me: Fight fans are being encouraged to trade toys – like the ones from the film Toy Story (below) – for tickets to Khan's fight against Molina

You've got a friend in me: Fight fans are being encouraged to trade toys - like the ones from the film Toy Story - for tickets to Amir Khan's fight against Carlos Molina

'I am looking forward to distributing the toys to those families who need them most,' said De La Hoya, speaking to The Sun.

Khan, meanwhile, has vowed to reinvent himself as 'a totally different fighter' when he aims to bounce back from two successive defeats.

A year ago the Bolton fighter controversially lost his WBA title to Lamont Peterson, only to be subsequently reinstated when it emerged the American had been using synthetic testosterone.

However, he lost his next fight too when Danny Garcia knocked him silly in a fourth-round stoppage win in Las Vegas in July.

The Garcia defeat brought about much soul-searching before the Englishman made the tough decision to leave renowned trainer Freddie Roach and join forces with another Californian, Virgil Hunter.

Khan's questionable punch resistance and over-zealous attacking instincts point towards the need for a change in approach and the fighter himself admits there has been plenty to work on under Hunter, who boasts a stellar reputation having guided Andre Ward to pound-for-pound recognition.

'Training with Virgil's been going really well,' the 26-year-old said ahead of his scrap with undefeated Californian Molina.

Return: Khan is looking to bounce back following his defeat by Danny Garcia in July

Return: Khan is looking to bounce back following his defeat by Danny Garcia in July

'The gym is quiet, it's chilled, you can think about what you're doing.

'For example when I'm sitting in the gym, or warming up, I can think things through about what I want to do in the session or the sparring. I can think things through, whereas previous gyms I've trained at have been very busy with lots of people there.

'Sometimes it's a distraction because you can't really focus on what you need to focus on.

'Virgil is a great trainer. He breaks everything down and every day he reminds me what I need to do, what I need to work on and what mistakes I make which need improving on.'

Khan was in control against Garcia before leaving himself exposed and being taken apart by the Philadelphian's power shots. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist insists he will use that experience, combined with Hunter's input, to right those wrongs.

Change of plans: Khan (R) has prepared for his upcoming fight against Molina with new trainer, Virgil Hunter

Change of plans: Khan (R) has prepared for his upcoming fight against Molina with new trainer, Virgil Hunter

'We've sat down and watched the Garcia fight together and we've been working on some new stuff from that, including being more patient and waiting for the right shots at the right time and not over-committing myself,' he said.

'When I watch the Garcia fight, I can see that I'm like a totally different fighter. Virgil said to me when we watched it again “now you tell me what you're doing wrong in the fight and what you'd do differently now” and so I told him.

'It shows that the sparring I've been doing and the training I'm getting is helping me. I'm a better fighter by far because I would not fight Garcia the way I did. I've changed my fighting style a lot and proves I'm doing something right.

'We're ready for this guy.'

England must teach India much-needed lesson in fourth Test in Nagpur – The Top Spin

Let's all hope England teach India a much-needed lesson in Nagpur

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UPDATED:

11:32 GMT, 11 December 2012

Top Spin

India may yet square the series at Nagpur on a pitch that, it’s safe to say, won’t be produced with the fifth evening in mind. But the best thing for them would be a bit of tough love – and another loss.

I write that not as Englishman keen to witness history – although witnessing history comes right at the top of the sportswriter’s wishlist – but as a cricket lover who does not want to see the game’s superpower turn away from Test cricket.

Victory for India later this week may, in some quarters – BCCI HQ, mainly – be regarded as vindication of the status quo.

MS Dhoni

N Srinivasan

Hubris: The two most powerful men in world cricket – MS Dhoni (left) and BCCI president N Srinivasan (right)

But should they lose (or draw), the excuses will have run dry. If Indian cricket really is interested in more than money, it will finally have to address a malaise which, since the start of the tour of England in 2011, has brought them 10 defeats in 16 Tests, and five wins – all at home, and four of them against West Indies and New Zealand.

This will doubtless enrage those Indian fans who may have noticed that England, until Mumbai and Kolkata, had suffered a pretty disastrous year of their own. But the last two Tests have revealed a resolve that was entirely lacking when India lost 4-0 in both England and Australia. Against all the odds, England have dusted themselves off and had another go.

THE TOP SPIN ON TWITTER

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

The nature of India’s malaise is a basic one: they could just about swallow their overseas capitulations because they expected to return the favour once they hosted non-Asian guests. And at Ahmedabad, both sides followed the script to the letter.

Then hubris struck. So keen were N Srinivasan and MS Dhoni to demonstrate the inevitable triumph of home conditions – and, by logical extension, to mitigate the whitewashes in England and Australia – that they overplayed their hand: Alastair Cook’s team would be humiliated on turning pitches.

Amid the clamour for revenge, the fact that England, once they had sorted out their selection issues, possessed the better spinners seemed to be forgotten.

While the two most powerful men in the world game have been getting worked up about the Wankhede and Eden Gardens pitches – it seems they reckoned without a single-minded 83-year-old – England got on with the task of addressing their problems against spin.

Captain marvel: Alastair Cook is just one win away from leading England to an historic triumph

Captain marvel: Alastair Cook is just one win away from leading England to an historic triumph

From an English perspective, this year will be remembered for the meltdown in the UAE, the Kevin Pietersen affair, the resignation of Andrew Strauss – and, if they avoid defeat in Nagpur, a stunning turnaround which says plenty for their refusal to take the easy way out and blame alien conditions.

It’s unclear whether India are willing to make the same concession. In a recent interview with Sambit Bal of ESPN Cricinfo that should concern anyone who cares about the future of the global game, Srinivasan concluded an answer about India’s overseas record thus: ‘I don't think we should run down our players by saying we did not do well abroad. Other teams don't do well when they come to India.’

More from Lawrence Booth…

The Top Spin: Kolkata pitch row revelations highlight panic among India's cricket establishment
04/12/12

The Top Spin: Home is not so comforting after all as Dhoni's plan backfires
27/11/12

The Top Spin: Spooked England were beaten in their minds in Ahmedabad
20/11/12

The Top Spin: India preparations leave England in a spin, but for Cook's charges the warm-up has barely begun
13/11/12

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

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

He was speaking before the series turned on its axis in Mumbai, but the message was clear – and it is being delivered from the very top of the Indian game: so long as India are prospering at home, both on and off the field, little else matters.

The fragility of the argument has been exposed. But what will India do about it The impression Srinivasan gave to Cricinfo was that, as long as the IPL continued to rake in the cash, the rest would take care of itself.

Pushed on the question of the impact the IPL was having on other countries’ schedules, he replied: ‘It's a free world. People and players make their choices and we can't compel a person.’ True. But you can coerce them with a fistful of dollars.

Even in the aftermath of their defeats in the second and third Tests, India have been in denial. Dhoni used his post-Mumbai press conference to insist on another turner in Eden Gardens (hadn’t he seen what Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann had just done to his batsmen); and, on Sunday, he suggested his bowlers had actually done OK.

Really, MS It’s true that Pragyan Ojha has not let him down, but Ravichandran Ashwin and Zaheer Khan have fallen well short: their combined 15 wickets have cost 52 apiece. The loss of Umesh Yadav after Ahmedabad has turned out to be more serious for India than either side could have imagined.

An Indian win in Nagpur will allow them to paper over the cracks. Defeat, and they may just be forced to look beyond their own cocoon. And for that, the rest of the world would be extremely grateful.

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

Cheeky: Legendary England opener Geoffrey Boycott had a dig at the state of the roads in Kolkata

Cheeky: Legendary England opener Geoffrey Boycott had a dig at the state of the roads in Kolkata

Boycott’s headline act

Improbably, perhaps, Geoff Boycott’s brand of straight-talking Yorkshireness has always played well in India, and he made the front page in Kolkata last week when he felt moved to comment on the quality of the city’s roads. Invited to open a set of concrete cricket pitches at a local school, Boycott was asked what he would do if, in some wacky parallel universe, he was ever elected to office in the capital city of West Bengal.

‘You’ve got to fix your roads,’ offered Boycs. ‘It takes forever to reach anywhere.’ The look on the local politicians’ faces was said to have been worth the admission fee alone, and transport minister Madan Mitra later claimed: ‘Boycott did not mean that the roads were bad [Yes, he did]. He tried to say that the journey was too long [No he didn’t].’

Perhaps with the A647 from Bradford to Leeds in mind, Mitra added: ‘In his country, it may take him a few minutes to travel from one place to another but the roads are not like that in this country.’ Which was a nice try.

Compton’s heartfelt tribute

On the second evening at Kolkata, Nick Compton gave a long and engaging answer to a question about batting with Alastair Cook. For a moment, it stripped away some of the cynicism that can surround modern sport. In essence, England’s new opener conveyed the awe he felt when he looked up at the Eden Gardens scoreboard and saw the giant homage to Cook’s 7,000 Test runs – reached at a younger age than anyone, including Sachin Tendulkar.

Forgive me if I come across misty-eyed but, in a part of the world where the size of your IPL deal is now up there in terms of importance with the size of your Test average, it was heartening to hear a newcomer to the international game speak with such ingenuousness about a colleague – and, to extrapolate, about his own hopes and dreams.

Best seat in the house: Nick Compton has watched opening partner Cook pile on the runs

Best seat in the house: Nick Compton has watched opening partner Cook pile on the runs

Did I say ‘ugly’

There were touching scenes ahead of the Kolkata Test, when MS Dhoni was seen embracing his bte noire Prabir Mukherjee, the Eden Gardens curator who has stubbornly refused to do what he’s told by the BCCI.

According to Indian newspaper reports, Mukherjee said Dhoni told him: ‘Have I ever disrespected you You are the boss here.’ This was all very well, except that a year earlier Dhoni had branded Eden Gardens an ‘ugly wicket’ after a one-day international against England.

Beggars can’t be choosers

New Zealand have had a miserable Test year since blowing away Zimbabwe at Napier in January. They lost at home to South Africa, when rain limited the damage to 1-0. They lost 2-0 in the West Indies, then 2-0 in India. Sri Lanka then beat them by 10 wickets at Galle. It may be that Ross Taylor, the captain they have just sacked, does indeed lack the leadership qualities of Brendon McCullum, as some close to the story have claimed.

But wasn’t it a strange piece of timing to kick Taylor out after he made 142 and 74 to help New Zealand square the series in Colombo If any team needs to cling on to their world-class performers, it is New Zealand. But Taylor will now miss the tour of South Africa while he wonders whether it’s all worth the hassle.

Thanks for nothing! New Zealand ditched Ross Taylor as captain despite a drawn series in Sri Lanka

Thanks for nothing! New Zealand ditched Ross Taylor as captain despite a drawn series in Sri Lanka

And finally…

A quick plea: next time Shane Warne gives a straight answer to a straight question about a hypothetical return to Test cricket, can we all ignore it Thank you.

Lewis Hamilton is leaving McLaren to "grow up"

EXCLUSIVE: Hamilton: It's the hardest decision I've made, but I'm leaving McLaren to grow up

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 8 December 2012

Lewis Hamilton walked out of the McLaren headquarters on Friday after delivering a heartfelt and candid farewell speech to the workforce who supported his journey to Formula One stardom.

Hamilton's relationship may have soured with McLaren chairman Ron Dennis, the man who bankrolled him for 14 years from his childhood days as a karting prodigy, but he relished the opportunity to explain personally why he has chosen to drive for Mercedes from next year.

'It was the hardest decision I've ever made,' admitted Hamilton, granted a dignified departure by McLaren, a rare privilege in a sport renowned for being heartless when drivers switch allegiance.

Heavy heart: Lewis Hamilton said he is leaving McLaren to grow up

Heavy heart: Lewis Hamilton said he is leaving McLaren to grow up

Yet it was the right moment, insisted Hamilton, for him to explore life beyond the boundaries of McLaren.

'It is to do with the process of growing up, of leaving home,' he said. 'That's why I am taking the next step, to grow as a driver and as a human being.'

Yet Hamilton, who was leading his last race for McLaren in Brazil a fortnight ago when he was driven off the circuit by Nico Hulkenberg, acknowledged the inherent risk he has accepted by signing for Mercedes, a team with one win in three seasons.

'The team I'm joining isn't yet performing well,' he said. 'But I hope I'll be able to help them get where they want to be.'

See you next year... Hamilton will drive for Mercedes

See you next year… Hamilton will drive for Mercedes

Hamilton has been lured from McLaren to Mercedes by more than the simple economics of a threeyear contract worth 60million.

He is attracted by the challenge of attempting to become the catalyst for the Mercedes team's development – and future success – under Englishman Ross Brawn, who worked a similar alchemy with Michael Schumacher during their time together, first with Benetton, then with Ferrari. Hamilton is banking on Brawn – and Mercedes – making capital gains when new 1.4 turbo engines are introduced to Formula One for the 2014 season.

Importantly, Hamilton also wants to be freed of the influence of Dennis, which in recent years has become claustrophobic. Dennis similarly fell out with Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, although all of them would testify to the brilliance of his leadership and vision for McLaren.

So long: Hamilton's now former team-mate Jenson Button hugged him after his final race at McLaren

So long: Hamilton's now former team-mate Jenson Button hugged him after his final race at McLaren

One last go: Hamilton and Button were side by side in Sao Paulo

One last go: Hamilton and Button were side by side in Sao Paulo

Hamilton enjoyed his working relationship with Martin Whitmarsh, who succeeded Dennis as McLaren team principal, but during his contract negotiations this summer the 27-year-old British star realised that he needed a fresh start.

Dennis is believed to have been bitterly disappointed – and his relationship with Hamilton was irrevocably damaged. At least Hamilton and Dennis, who achieved so much with one another, held a private, convivial chat on Friday.

'/12/08/article-2245146-16354543000005DC-885_634x374.jpg” width=”634″ height=”374″ alt=”Going and gone: Hamilton is looking forward to his new challenge ” class=”blkBorder” />

Going and gone: Hamilton is looking forward to his new challenge

'When I arrived in Formula 1 in 2007, I now realise I never really grasped what I was taking on. Ron [Dennis] had told me: “Don't be surprised if you're 0.5sec slower than Fernando [Alonso]”, and I just smiled because I knew it wouldn't be the case. But, even so, that year was very hard, for many reasons.

'The following year, 2008, as a result of so much hard work from all of you, we won the championship. Thanks so much. You were brilliant – you still are. I have so much affection and love for this team. And that's why McLaren has always felt like home.'

As a parting gift, Hamilton received a three-foot model of his 2008 McLaren. 'Maybe I'll come back one day… if you'll have me,' he said, his voice heavy with emotion.

A champagne toast was offered in Hamilton's honour and he will not forget the standing ovation he was given as he walked away from McLaren's plush HQ in the Surrey stockbroker belt.

Nasser Hussain: Alastair Cook did not impress me when I first saw him

Fletch told me 'This lad will be a great…' I just couldn't see it!

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UPDATED:

05:50 GMT, 7 December 2012

The first time I saw Alastair Cook was
during one of my many spells when I was struggling to score runs as
England captain. I wanted to clear my head, get back to basics, so I
asked my former coach Keith Fletcher if I could play for Essex seconds.

I turned up at Colchester and was
quickly dismissed so I went for a walk round the boundary edge with
Fletch, the wise old ‘Gnome’, to ask him what I could do to get my game
right. Suddenly Keith stopped, pointed to the middle and said: ‘That lad
is going to be one of the greats.’

I couldn’t see it to be honest. All I
saw was a left-hander whose head fell over when he played his shots and
was full of nudges and nurdles. His name was Alastair Cook and
he scored his 23rd Test hundred, more than any other Englishman. At the
time I just said to Keith: ‘That’s all very well, Fletch, but I’m
worried about my game here, not him!’

Eye on the ball: Alastair Cook takes a catch at the launch of the Under 15 World Cup at Lord's in 2000

Eye on the ball: Alastair Cook takes a catch at the launch of the Under 15 World Cup at Lord's in 2000

That reminded me of the time a
young off-spinning opponent of ours walked into the England dressing
room after taking a few wickets for KwaZulu Natal in a tour match in
Durban and plonked himself down next to me, asking if I knew of any
English teams he could play for.

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I
thought he meant club cricket and almost gave him my brother’s number
and told him to try Fives and Heronians but it turned out he had bigger
ambitions than that. His name was Kevin Pietersen and in the second Test
he scored his 22nd Test hundred for England. All of which goes to show
how much I know about spotting a good young player.

Fast
forward a few months after my first meeting with Cook and I bumped into
him again when I went to the indoor school in Chelmsford for a bit of
practice —yes, you’ve guessed it, I was searching for form as England
captain.

When I got there, Cook, who had just
been named England Under 19 skipper, was with a local TV crew, I think
they might have been from Look East.

The
interviewer saw me and asked if the England captain might like to say a
few words about this young star from my county. I looked at Cook, back
at the interviewer and said, ‘Not now, son’, before going off to the
bowling machine.

Cook still
reminds me of that one every time I speak to him. There are plenty of
words to say about him now. He was brilliant here, brilliant in
scoring his record hundred, brilliant in reaching 7,000 Test runs
younger than anyone in history and brilliant in scoring his fifth
century in five Tests as captain.

Truly, this innings has to be right up there with his best. It is as good if not better than all those hundreds he made in Australia and the 294 he scored against India at Edgbaston. It was special because Cook was so fluent.

Ever since Cook scored that potentially career-saving hundred against Pakistan at The Oval in 2010, he has been an absolute run machine. And what really impresses me is that he has worked so hard on improving the areas of his game that, a couple of years ago, weren’t his best. He has never said: ‘This is how I play, it works for me.’ He has kept his strengths and improved his weaknesses.

Special innings: Cook answered his critics at The Oval with a gutsy 110

Special innings: Cook answered his critics at The Oval with a gutsy 110

Not too long ago Cook relied heavily on his cut, pull and nudge off his hips. But now he is playing far more shots down the ground and is sweeping much more effectively. He may not have the flair of Pietersen or the shot selection of Graham Gooch, but he is becoming almost a complete batsman.

Cook keeps himself so well grounded. A lot of players might have been tempted to be a bit flashy after scoring hundreds in the last two Tests but he plays every innings with the same application as the last and at the same tempo. And how mentally strong must he be to score each of those hundreds after he has lost the toss and spent all that time in the field as a young and inexperienced captain

It’s good, too, that he has interests outside the game, in particular the family farm. /12/06/article-0-14214923000005DC-331_634x414.jpg” width=”634″ height=”414″ alt=”Hot on his heels: Kevin Pietersen (right) will be keen to match Cook's milestone” class=”blkBorder” />

Hot on his heels: Kevin Pietersen (right) will be keen to match Cook's milestone

I’m sure Cook’s team-mates will be inspired by him. Pietersen will want to quickly catch him up after falling one Test century behind him and Jonathan Trott will have been prodded after a relatively lean spell of his own. What will please Cook most of all is that his hundred has put his team in a potentially decisive position in this third Test and the series.

India were not very good on the second day, even though I cannot fault the effort of their four bowlers. They were flat and looked an old side in the field. If England can run them ragged they really will be on the verge of something special.

Nasser Hussain: Fletch told me "This lad will be a great…" I just couldn"t see it!

Nasser Hussain: Fletch told me 'This lad will be a great…' I just couldn't see it!

|

UPDATED:

21:08 GMT, 6 December 2012

The first time I saw Alastair Cook was
during one of my many spells when I was struggling to score runs as
England captain. I wanted to clear my head, get back to basics, so I
asked my former coach Keith Fletcher if I could play for Essex seconds.

I turned up at Colchester and was
quickly dismissed so I went for a walk round the boundary edge with
Fletch, the wise old ‘Gnome’, to ask him what I could do to get my game
right. Suddenly Keith stopped, pointed to the middle and said: ‘That lad
is going to be one of the greats.’

I couldn’t see it to be honest. All I
saw was a left-hander whose head fell over when he played his shots and
was full of nudges and nurdles. His name was Alastair Cook and
he scored his 23rd Test hundred, more than any other Englishman. At the
time I just said to Keith: ‘That’s all very well, Fletch, but I’m
worried about my game here, not him!’

Eye on the ball: Alastair Cook takes a catch at the launch of the Under 15 World Cup at Lord's in 2000

Eye on the ball: Alastair Cook takes a catch at the launch of the Under 15 World Cup at Lord's in 2000

That reminded me of the time a
young off-spinning opponent of ours walked into the England dressing
room after taking a few wickets for KwaZulu Natal in a tour match in
Durban and plonked himself down next to me, asking if I knew of any
English teams he could play for.

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05/12/12

Nasser Hussain: Warne's Ashes return is an exciting prospect, but Aussies must move on
04/12/12

Nasser Hussain: I'd rest Stuart against India, but he will be back for Ashes
03/12/12

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29/11/12

Nasser Hussain: Triumph is thanks to fantastic four… but it's time to have a word with out-of-sorts Broad
26/11/12

Nasser Hussain: 'Public enemy No 1' Pietersen is a genius and he is worth a bit of hassle
25/11/12

Nasser Hussain: England captain Cook comes nicely to the boil in Mumbai
23/11/12

Nasser Hussain: Captain Cook must think on his feet now that the pressure is on
21/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

I
thought he meant club cricket and almost gave him my brother’s number
and told him to try Fives and Heronians but it turned out he had bigger
ambitions than that. His name was Kevin Pietersen and in the second Test
he scored his 22nd Test hundred for England. All of which goes to show
how much I know about spotting a good young player.

Fast
forward a few months after my first meeting with Cook and I bumped into
him again when I went to the indoor school in Chelmsford for a bit of
practice —yes, you’ve guessed it, I was searching for form as England
captain.

When I got there, Cook, who had just
been named England Under 19 skipper, was with a local TV crew, I think
they might have been from Look East.

The
interviewer saw me and asked if the England captain might like to say a
few words about this young star from my county. I looked at Cook, back
at the interviewer and said, ‘Not now, son’, before going off to the
bowling machine.

Cook still
reminds me of that one every time I speak to him. There are plenty of
words to say about him now. He was brilliant here, brilliant in
scoring his record hundred, brilliant in reaching 7,000 Test runs
younger than anyone in history and brilliant in scoring his fifth
century in five Tests as captain.

Truly, this innings has to be right up there with his best. It is as good if not better than all those hundreds he made in Australia and the 294 he scored against India at Edgbaston. It was special because Cook was so fluent.

Ever since Cook scored that potentially career-saving hundred against Pakistan at The Oval in 2010, he has been an absolute run machine. And what really impresses me is that he has worked so hard on improving the areas of his game that, a couple of years ago, weren’t his best. He has never said: ‘This is how I play, it works for me.’ He has kept his strengths and improved his weaknesses.

Special innings: Cook answered his critics at The Oval with a gutsy 110

Special innings: Cook answered his critics at The Oval with a gutsy 110

Not too long ago Cook relied heavily on his cut, pull and nudge off his hips. But now he is playing far more shots down the ground and is sweeping much more effectively. He may not have the flair of Pietersen or the shot selection of Graham Gooch, but he is becoming almost a complete batsman.

Cook keeps himself so well grounded. A lot of players might have been tempted to be a bit flashy after scoring hundreds in the last two Tests but he plays every innings with the same application as the last and at the same tempo. And how mentally strong must he be to score each of those hundreds after he has lost the toss and spent all that time in the field as a young and inexperienced captain

It’s good, too, that he has interests outside the game, in particular the family farm. /12/06/article-0-14214923000005DC-331_634x414.jpg” width=”634″ height=”414″ alt=”Hot on his heels: Kevin Pietersen (right) will be keen to match Cook's milestone” class=”blkBorder” />

Hot on his heels: Kevin Pietersen (right) will be keen to match Cook's milestone

I’m sure Cook’s team-mates will be inspired by him. Pietersen will want to quickly catch him up after falling one Test century behind him and Jonathan Trott will have been prodded after a relatively lean spell of his own. What will please Cook most of all is that his hundred has put his team in a potentially decisive position in this third Test and the series.

India were not very good on the second day, even though I cannot fault the effort of their four bowlers. They were flat and looked an old side in the field. If England can run them ragged they really will be on the verge of something special.