Tag Archives: experience

England lose Test warm-up game by three wickets to New Zealand XI

Watling's second half-century gives Cook and Co plenty to ponder ahead of first Test as England lose tour match

By
David Clough, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

07:33 GMT, 2 March 2013

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UPDATED:

07:33 GMT, 2 March 2013

England suffered an unexpected defeat as BJ Watling's second half-century of the match proved too much for the tourists at the Queenstown Event Centre ground.

Watling (89no) followed his unbeaten 66 in the first innings with another telling contribution to help a New Zealand XI chase 334 to prevail in a tight finish with eight balls and three wickets to spare.

England, in their first red-ball fixture of a double-Ashes year in this warm-up for the first of three Tests in Dunedin, were losing in a first-class tour match for the first time in almost seven years – the last defeat came against an India board XI in Vadodara.

Trudging off: England captain Alastair Cook alongside Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad react after losing to the New Zealand XI

Trudging off: England captain Alastair Cook alongside Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad react after losing to the New Zealand XI

Watling finished with eight fours and two sixes from 122 balls, in a run chase which featured three other individual scores between 40 and 50 as England – without rested frontline seamers James Anderson and Steven Finn – paid for an unconvincing performance with the ball in particular.

Graham Onions lost his way, and it is hard to see him being considered as the go-to back-up Test seamer if needed after recording match figures of one for 213.

Inconsistent batting from the top six was also part of the problem – with Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Nick Compton all short of runs as the Test series looms.

There was no particular shame in losing to a team in which all but Carl Cachopa have international experience, and five – including wicketkeeper Watling – are in the squad to face England again next week.

It is hardly the start Alastair Cook would have wanted nonetheless as his side seek to follow up their historic series win in India with more success here over the next three weeks.

After England declared on their overnight 256 for nine, progress was initially unremarkable for both sides.

Openers Hamish Rutherford and Tom Latham began the chase with their second stand of 56 in this match, at four-an-over on a cloudy morning which yielded no immediate headway for Stuart Broad and Onions with the new ball.

Rutherford even climbed into an upper-cut which deposited a short ball from Broad high over point and into the enclosure in front of the players' pavilion for six.

Soon afterwards, Broad hit the same batsman on the head with a sharp bouncer.
But it was first-change Chris Woakes who made the first breakthrough when Rutherford cut him into the hands of point.

Woakes was rewarded for a spell which was much-improved from his first-innings efforts, and Broad also struck in the next over when he switched to a fuller length and bowled a static Cachopa for a third-ball duck.

Onions looked a slightly more likely wicket-taker too for a time, but no one could find a way past Latham or Neil Broom up to lunch.

Their stand had extended to 64 by the time Swann got Latham two short of his half-century, apparently caught-behind as he tried to sweep.

Then with the first ball after mid-session drinks, Broad saw off Broom lbw playing no shot.

When Dean Brownlie went too before tea, neatly caught low at second slip by Swann off the returning Woakes, the hosts were running out of frontline batsmen.

But Watling and Corey Anderson, who had battered England for a rapid century stand in the first innings, were once more in occupation.

They almost repeated the dose too, in a partnership of 82 this time which took the hosts to well within 100 runs of their target with more than 20 overs remaining.

Onions had suffered at Anderson's hands yesterday, and did so again today in two overs which cost 23 runs and contained three no-balls.

A much-needed wicket came from an unlikely source in Joe Root, who did Anderson in the flight as he aimed another big hit to leg and was bowled.

Swann, off the field for several overs previously, returned only to almost immediately drop Watling on 47 off Broad at gully.

It proved a costly miss – because, even after Jimmy Neesham had pulled a Root long-hop straight into Broad's hands at square-leg, Watling saw the job through against the second new ball in an unbroken half-century stand alongside Neil Wagner.

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UPDATED:

17:21 GMT, 18 February 2013

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John Guidetti stakes claim for Manchester City promotion after scoring for development squad on injury return

Guidetti stakes claim for City promotion after scoring nine minutes into injury return

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

19:51 GMT, 14 January 2013

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UPDATED:

19:51 GMT, 14 January 2013

Manchester City striker John Guidetti returned to Blues colours for the first time in 18 months today – and marked the occasion with a goal.

Guidetti has been out of action for nine months with a knee injury and also had an extended spell on loan at Feyenoord.

The Swede took just nine minutes to hit the target, sliding in to finish off Marcos Lopes' cross.

Remember me John Guidetti (right) in action for Manchester City's development squad on Monday

Remember me John Guidetti (right) in action for Manchester City's development squad on Monday

Jose Angel Pozo and Albert Rusnak wrapped up a 3-1 win for City, with Reading's consolation coming through Lawson D'Ath.

Guidetti is yet to feature in a Premier League game for City, but proved his talent when on loan last season with Feyenoord, where he scored 20 goals in just 23 appearances.

On target: Guidetti (floored) scores City's first goal of the game in a 3-1 win against Reading

On target: Guidetti (floored) scores City's first goal of the game in a 3-1 win against Reading

He signed a new three-year deal with the Barclays Premier League champions in October last year.

West Ham, Southampton, Sunderland and Fiorentina have shown interest in Guidetti and City are keen for him to gain Premier League experience so could send him out on loan.

Stephen Kelly set for Reading switch but Martin Jol insists Fulham will make no more January sales

Kelly set for Reading switch while Jol admits he is still chasing Huddlestone

By
Sam Cunningham

PUBLISHED:

17:01 GMT, 11 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:01 GMT, 11 January 2013


On the move: Fulham defender Stephen Kelly

On the move: Fulham defender Stephen Kelly

Martin Jol revealed defender Stephen Kelly is having a medical at Reading today – and that he is interested in Tottenham midfielder Tom Huddlestone.

Kelly was a main part of Jol's team last season but has struggled for games this campaign. Fulham have received a fee for the transfer but the club would not reveal how much it was.

If the move goes through the defender will become Brian McDermott's third signing in the January transfer window. Last month he said he was targeting two or three players the club could afford that had Premier League experience and Kelly fits that mould.

Jol said: 'It's a permanent deal. We won't lose any other players. It's one single player who could go in this transfer window. Kelly is the only one.

'I thought it was good for him because he wanted to play. Last year he played all the games almost so I thought it was good for him to talk to Reading and they decided to take him and he decided to go there. I never say never but the players I want to keep here will be here after the 31st.'

Jol is still keen to strengthen his squad in the transfer window and clearly sees Fulham's midfield as an area he needs to improve.

On the radar: Martin Jol is still tracking Spurs midfielder Tom Huddlestone

On the radar: Martin Jol is still tracking Spurs midfielder Tom Huddlestone

He is still interested in defensive midfielder Derek Boateng who is at Ukrainian club Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and also Tottenham's Huddlestone, whom he has monitored for years.

The 56-year-old added: 'Over the last six years I had an interest in Tom Huddlestone, but he was injured and then went to Stoke. I think he failed a medical there but I am not sure, so he went back to Spurs.

'If Tom is fit, he is always in the back of my mind but as I told you before, I won't speculate on names. I can't say Tom is not on my list because I like him.'

Manchester United block striker Angelo Henriquez from representing Chile for loan to Wigan

United anger Chilean fans by loaning striker Henriquez to Wigan

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UPDATED:

17:11 GMT, 31 December 2012

Manchester United have blocked Angelo Henriquez from representing Chile to allow him go to Wigan on loan.

The striker had planned to play for his country in the South American Under-20 championships in Argentina next month but United are keen to see him stay in England.

Henriquez, 18, has revealed United have ordered him to stay put in order to gain some Premier League experience.

Devastated: Henriquez is unhappy at United's decision not to let him represent Chile

Devastated: Henriquez is unhappy at United's decision not to let him represent Chile

The move has angered fans in Henriquez’ homeland but he insists the matter is out of his hands.

'I asked repeatedly to go and showed desire to do so,' Henreiquez told the Daily Mirror.

'But they want me to go to Wigan and keep playing in the Premier League.

'I would never say no to Chile,' he added.

Lethal: Henriquez has one goal in his only appearance for the Chilean first team

Lethal: Henriquez has one goal in his only appearance for the Chilean first team

'It would be a serious mistake, but United are not letting me go.'

The teenager will fight for a starting berth at Wigan who are set to lose Ivory Coast striker Arouna Kone to the Africa Cup of Nations next month.

He added: 'I already talked to the manager Roberto Martinez and he told me that I would have more chances.

Boost: Martinez is keen to add Henriquez to his striking options

Boost: Martinez is keen to add Henriquez to his striking options

'His idea is to have me as a substitute for Kone.'

'It will then depend on me taking advantage of the opportunity.'

Henriquez scored on his debut for Chile in a 3-1 defeat against Serbia in November and is highly rated at Old Trafford since his move from Universidad de Chile in the summer.

Roy Keane favourite to take over at Nottingham Forest as Sean O"Driscoll sacked after beating Leeds

Keane set to return at old club Forest to replace O'Driscoll after watching his final win over Leeds

|

UPDATED:

08:31 GMT, 27 December 2012

Roy Keane is the frontrunner to become the new Nottingham Forest boss.

Sean O'Driscoll was rewarded for
Forest’s Boxing Day thrashing of Leeds with the sack, leaving the
Championship club looking for their fifth manager in four years.

The Kuwaiti owners, who appointed O’Driscoll in July, just 25 games ago, have decided that he is no longer the man for the job.

Next in line Roy Keane was in the stands as Forest routed Leeds

Next in line Roy Keane was in the stands as Forest routed Leeds

Sacked: Sean O'Driscoll has left Forest

Sacked: Sean O'Driscoll has left Forest

Forest are one point off the
play-offs but that is not good enough for the Al Hasawi family, who may
now look to former City Ground favourite Keane.

Keane was a spectator as in-form
Leeds were put to the sword and is available for employment after his
failures at Ipswich and Sunderland.

Significantly,
the Al Hasawi family have targeted a manager with Premier League
experience and they have promised him money to buy players next month.

First name on the shopping list should be Billy Sharp, on loan from Southampton and scorer of two goals.

There was not much wrong with any
part of the Forest team against Leeds but getting it right on the day
was still not enough to save O’Driscoll.

When he looks back, nine draws
have probably cost him his job, especially after being allowed to bring
in 11 new players. His record reads: won nine; drawn nine; lost seven.

‘We cannot speak highly enough of
Sean as a man,’ said chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi, before delivering his
damning verdict.

‘He was appointed at an extremely difficult time for
the club and can count himself unlucky to have lost his job with the
team just one point away from the top six.

Hotshot: Sharp's double proved the difference in Forest's victory

Hotshot: Sharp's double proved the difference in Forest's victory

‘But we have a responsibility to look
to the future for this great club because we have huge ambitions for
it. We knew when we bought the club in the summer that it would take
time for the players we bought to settle but that process has taken
longer than we anticipated.

‘We feel we have developed a really
strong squad of players but are still searching for consistency in terms
of team performance, underlined by the fact that we have not won more
than two games in succession in the Championship this season.

‘And with the January transfer window approaching, we feel it’s the right time to make a change.

‘We are looking to bring in an ambitious manager with Premier League experience.’

Spot on: Sharp's penalty brought Forest level

Spot on: Sharp's penalty brought Forest level

Match facts

Nottingham Forest: Camp, Hutton, Ward, Collins, Halford, Cohen, Guedioura, Majewski, Reid, Sharp, Blackstock.
Subs: Darlow, Harding, Gillett, Moussi, McGugan, Cox, Lansbury.

Leeds: Kenny, /12/26/article-2253315-16A7E9C8000005DC-370_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Agony: Leeds players saw Forest overtake them in the Championship table with victory” class=”blkBorder” />

Agony: Leeds players saw Forest overtake them in the Championship table with victory

Not even Leeds boss Neil Warnock
accusing Sharp of diving, under a challenge from Tom Lees, could
detract from an impressive win. But the Leeds boss tempered his
criticism by adding: ‘I don’t blame Billy at all. He always used to get
penalties for me at Sheffield United.

‘He’s going to go down poleaxed for
the penalty. Don’t give them a chance to dive because they are going to
dive and that was the only way they were going to get back into it.
We’ve been mugged. It’s professionalism. If you look at it in slow
motion the kid (Lees) breathes on him. The goal killed us before
half-time and then we were amateurish for seven minutes in the second
half.’

Ecstacy: Forest are well-placed to challenge for promotion in the New Year

Ecstacy: Forest are well-placed to challenge for promotion in the New Year

O’Driscoll countered: ‘Anybody who has seen Billy Sharp knows he’s not someone who dives.

‘We needed that win after the
disappointing performance at Watford. Billy was a bit under the weather
too but he’s made his name scoring goals.’

Forest went a goal down to Paul Green’s scruffy effort but were level just before half-time when Sharp scored the penalty.

Three goals in seven second-half
minutes by Sharp, a Rodolph Austin own goal and a Dexter Blackstock
header, gave Forest a deserved win. Not enough to save O’Driscoll,
though.

Nottingham Forest 4 Leeds 2: Sean O"Driscoll sacked

Nottingham Forest 4 Leeds 2: O'Driscoll sacked despite thumping Boxing Day win

|

UPDATED:

21:26 GMT, 26 December 2012


Sacked: Sean O'Driscoll has left Forest

Sacked: Sean O'Driscoll has left Forest

Sean O'Driscoll was rewarded for
Forest’s Boxing Day thrashing of Leeds with the sack, leaving the
Championship club looking for their fifth manager in four years.

The Kuwaiti owners, who appointed O’Driscoll in July, just 25 games ago, have decided that he is no longer the man for the job.

Forest are one point off the play-offs but that is not good enough for the Al Hasawi family, who may now look to former City Ground favourite Roy Keane.

Keane was a spectator as in-form
Leeds were put to the sword and is available for employment after his
failures at Ipswich and Sunderland.

Significantly,
the Al Hasawi family have targeted a manager with Premier League
experience and they have promised him money to buy players next month.

First name on the shopping list should be Billy Sharp, on loan from Southampton and scorer of two goals.

Roy Keane watched Nottingham Forest's 4-2 win over Leeds. The former Sunderland and Ipswich manager could be in the frame to take over at the City Ground following the sacking of Sean O'Driscoll
Is Roy Keane to take over

Roy Keane watched Nottingham Forest's 4-2 win over Leeds. The former Sunderland and Ipswich manager could be in the frame to take over at the City Ground following the sacking of Sean O'Driscoll.

There was not much wrong with any
part of the Forest team against Leeds but getting it right on the day
was still not enough to save O’Driscoll. When he looks back, nine draws
have probably cost him his job, especially after being allowed to bring
in 11 new players. His record reads: won nine; drawn nine; lost seven.

‘We cannot speak highly enough of
Sean as a man,’ said chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi, before delivering his
damning verdict. ‘He was appointed at an extremely difficult time for
the club and can count himself unlucky to have lost his job with the
team just one point away from the top six.

‘But we have a responsibility to look
to the future for this great club because we have huge ambitions for
it. We knew when we bought the club in the summer that it would take
time for the players we bought to settle but that process has taken
longer than we anticipated.

‘We feel we have developed a really
strong squad of players but are still searching for consistency in terms
of team performance, underlined by the fact that we have not won more
than two games in succession in the Championship this season.

‘And with the January transfer window approaching, we feel it’s the right time to make a change.

‘We are looking to bring in an ambitious manager with Premier League experience.’

Hotshot: Sharp's double proved the difference in Forest's victory

Hotshot: Sharp's double proved the difference in Forest's victory

Spot on: Sharp's penalty brought Forest level

Spot on: Sharp's penalty brought Forest level

Match facts

Nottingham Forest: Camp, Hutton, Ward, Collins, Halford, Cohen, Guedioura, Majewski, Reid, Sharp, Blackstock.
Subs: Darlow, Harding, Gillett, Moussi, McGugan, Cox, Lansbury.

Leeds: Kenny, /12/26/article-2253315-16A7E9C8000005DC-370_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Agony: Leeds players saw Forest overtake them in the Championship table with victory” class=”blkBorder” />

Agony: Leeds players saw Forest overtake them in the Championship table with victory

Ecstacy: Forest are well-placed to challenge for promotion in the New Year

Ecstacy: Forest are well-placed to challenge for promotion in the New Year

Not even Leeds boss Neil Warnock
accusing Sharp of diving, under a challenge from Tom Lees, could
detract from an impressive win. But the Leeds boss tempered his
criticism by adding: ‘I don’t blame Billy at all. He always used to get
penalties for me at Sheffield United.

‘He’s going to go down poleaxed for
the penalty. Don’t give them a chance to dive because they are going to
dive and that was the only way they were going to get back into it.
We’ve been mugged. It’s professionalism. If you look at it in slow
motion the kid (Lees) breathes on him. The goal killed us before
half-time and then we were amateurish for seven minutes in the second
half.’

O’Driscoll countered: ‘Anybody who has seen Billy Sharp knows he’s not someone who dives.

‘We needed that win after the
disappointing performance at Watford. Billy was a bit under the weather
too but he’s made his name scoring goals.’

Forest went a goal down to Paul Green’s scruffy effort but were level just before half-time when Sharp scored the penalty.

Three goals in seven second-half
minutes by Sharp, a Rodolph Austin own goal and a Dexter Blackstock
header, gave Forest a deserved win. Not enough to save O’Driscoll,
though.

Kevin Pietersen rested from England"s limited overs tour of New Zealand

Pietersen rested from England's limited overs tour of New Zealand but Anderson, Trott and Swann all return

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UPDATED:

10:18 GMT, 23 December 2012

Kevin Pietersen has been rested for England's one-day and Twenty20 squads for February's tour of New Zealand.

The batsman was included in the 50-over party for the five-match series in India next month after his successful 'reintegration' into the national set-up, but will not head to New Zealand as selectors look to manage the workload of key players.

James Anderson, Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann have returned to the 14-man one-day squad after being rested for the India series.

Taking a rest: Kevin Pietersen will not play in the limited overs form of the game

Taking a rest: Kevin Pietersen will not play in the limited overs form of the game

The 14-man T20 squad features two changes from the party selected for the recent series against India with Stuart Broad returning from a heel injury to captain the side and quick Steven Finn also back in the fold.

National selector Geoff Miller said: 'Following on from the ODI tour to India the tour to New Zealand will require players to adapt to different conditions and will prove a real challenge for the squad as we look to continue the progress we have made in limited overs cricket recently.

'There are a number of players who we have decided not to select for parts of the competitive programme this winter as we look to manage their workloads effectively while ensuring we remain competitive across all formats.

Back in the attack: James Anderson will be in the attack after missing the India series

Back in the attack: James Anderson will be in the attack after missing the India series

'We feel this is the best way of keeping players as physically and mentally fresh as possible during a demanding 2013 and beyond.

'Kevin Pietersen will miss the limited overs tour of New Zealand with Graeme Swann missing the T20 leg of the tour.

'This approach also provides an opportunity for talented young players to gain more international experience which will be important for their development and the development of England sides in the future.'

England's three-match ODI series begins on February 17 in Hamilton.

The England and Wales Cricket Board also announced a 15-man England Lions squad for the limited overs tour of Australia in February which will be captained by Joe Root, who made his Test debut earlier this month against India.

Leading the Lions: Joe Root will captain the England Lions in Australia

Leading the Lions: Joe Root will captain the England Lions in Australia

Miller added: 'The tour of Australia will provide a tough test for this Lions squad and it will present an opportunity for the players to show us that they are capable of representing England at ODI level in the future.

'The vast majority of these players were on the England Performance Programme in India during the end of this year, so we are looking forward to seeing the skills they have developed put into practice during the tour in February 2013.

'Australia is the venue for the 2015 ICC World Cup, along with New Zealand, so we hope this will help us identify potential players that could go on to be a part of the 2015 World Cup squad.'

Essex teenager Reece Topley is in the party, alongside Gary Ballance, Varun Chopra, Ben Foakes, Toby Roland-Jones and Chris Wright, who are also uncapped at Lions level.

England T20 and ODI squads for the tour of New Zealand and the England Lions squad for the ODI series in Australia

England T20 squad: Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire, capt), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire), Danny Briggs (Hampshire), Jos Buttler (Somerset), Jade Dernbach (Surrey), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Michael Lumb (Nottinghamshire), Stuart Meaker (Surrey), Eoin Morgan (Middlesex), Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire), James Tredwell (Kent), Luke Wright (Sussex).

England ODI squad: Alastair Cook (Essex, capt), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Jos Buttler (Somerset), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Craig Kieswetter (Somerset), Eoin Morgan (Middlesex), Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire), Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), James Tredwell (Kent), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire).

England Lions squad: Joe Root (Yorkshire, capt), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Scott Borthwick (Durham), Danny Briggs (Hampshire), Varun Chopra (Warwickshire), Matthew Coles (Kent), Ben Foakes (Essex), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), James Harris (Middlesex), Simon Kerrigan (Lancashire), Toby Roland-Jones (Middlesex), Ben Stokes (Durham), James Taylor (Nottinghamshire), Reece Topley (Essex), Chris Wright (Warwickshire).

Xavi talks about his love of Bruce Springsteen and Diego Maradona

It's top secret: Barcelona superstar Xavi talks dinner with De Niro and Diego

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Barcelona's midfield maestro Xavi tells Sportsmail's Alex Kay about his sporting heroes, his unwavering loyalty to his club and his love of Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen and Argentina legend Diego Maradona.

Maestro: Xavi (centre) pulls the strings in Barcelona's midfield

Maestro: Xavi (centre) pulls the strings in Barcelona's midfield

Who is your sporting hero

I have said I think Paul Scholes is the best midfield player of the last 20 years. He is a great role model as well.

Of course, though, like most Barcelona central midfielders, my idol was Pep (Guardiola).

What would you be if you weren't a sportsman

Like so many of the players I started at La Masia at the age of 11. I can't ever imagine not playing for Barcelona, let alone not playing soccer for a career. I don't ever want to play anywhere else.

Hero: Xavi believes Paul Scholes is one of the best central midfielders in the past 20 years

Hero: Xavi believes Paul Scholes is one of the best central midfielders in the past 20 years

Career highlight

In terms of what the game means, how can you ever beat playing a World Cup final that you win You can't is the answer.

The best game I ever played in was when we beat Real Madrid 5-0. The feeling of total superiority was incredible. We just stood in the dressing room afterwards clapping ourselves. It was a surreal experience.

… and the worst moment

It was when we found out, as a team, about team-mate Eric Abidal's liver cancer. It put everything else into perspective. I remember thinking how strong he was and he was encouraging us as much as we were encouraging him.

In perspective: Xavi says being told about Eric Abidal's liver cancer was the worst moment of his career

In perspective: Xavi says being told about Eric Abidal's liver cancer was the worst moment of his career

If your house was burning down, what one possession would you save

Just the things that can't be replaced. There is no money in the world that can replace the jersey you were wearing when you lifted the World Cup.

What's your favourite song

Losing My Religion by REM. I love all of their stuff.

What's the programme you can't miss on TV

I don't actually watch many shows. I will either watch movies or football. I enjoy to watch games in the Premier League and will also watch movies a lot as well.

That is how I relax.

Last film you saw

The Lincoln Lawyer. It was really good.

If you could have dinner with three famous people, who would it be and why

People I admire in the things that I like. I would choose Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen, and Diego Maradona.

Born to run: Xavi idolises rock star Bruce Springsteen

Born to run: Xavi idolises rock star Bruce Springsteen

Can you cook

I am competent enough but I won't try anything tough. Probably just pasta, grilled chicken, and a little olive oil.

Your favourite holiday destination

Ibiza is a popular vacation place for a lot of the players in Spain. If you go in the summer there are some of the world's most famous movie and music stars so nobody cares about soccer players.

In a film of your life, who would you like to play you

I am not known for being a tall player so you would have to take that into account. Probably somebody like Matt Damon.

Tell us a secret…

We were playing at the Bernabeu when I was about 18 and things got a little heated between the players. Raul came up and gave me a cuff round the ear and said calm down. He is one of my great friends now – but what he was saying is: 'Know your place, kid, there is hierarchy.'

Best of enemies: Former Real Madrid star Raul clipped Xavi round the ear to put him in his place

Best of enemies: Former Real Madrid star Raul clipped Xavi round the ear to put him in his place

Andrew Flintoff showed heart if not technique – Mike Dickson

Mike Dickson: What Flintoff lacked in elegance he made up for with sheer heart

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UPDATED:

01:48 GMT, 1 December 2012

Andrew Flintoff never took a step back on the cricket field and, when it came down to a huge test of nerve and courage last night, he remained resolutely on the front foot to record the first win of his reality boxing career.

We knew he could fearlessly smite short balls from Brett Lee off the tip of his nose, that he could bully the world’s finest batsmen with barrages of short-pitched bowling, and now we know he can hold his own inside the ropes before a baying, breathless crowd.

What he lacked in elegance he made up for with sheer heart to surge forward continually and defeat an opponent two stones heavier, albeit one who lived down to expectations, on a 39-38 points decision to the delirious acclaim of the MEN Arena in Manchester.

Pure heart: Andrew Flintoff was unrefined but brave and persistent

Pure heart: Andrew Flintoff was unrefined but brave and persistent

Caught off balance by the otherwise hapless Richard Dawson in the second round, Flintoff was floored by a clipped left hook in a rare show of aggression from the American, who had all the mobility of a giant water butt.

But recovering from that was a typical show of character from the former England all-rounder, who must now decide if he wants to go through all this again. ‘I don’t know, but the feeling of being back in front of a crowd and winning was incredible,’ he said. ‘It’s been amazing, humbling in fact.

‘It wasn’t one for the purist but it was everything I had hoped for and more. It was like an out-of-body experience. It was similar to how I played cricket: a bit ragged but I wanted to leave everything in the ring.’

His relieved and delighted mentor Barry McGuigan added: ‘He forgot everything I taught him in the excitement of it all but he got the job done.’

A few of the Celebocracy in which Flintoff moves these days were among the 6,000 crowd, including comedians John Bishop and Jack Whitehall and a smattering of former Test colleagues such as Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison.

Made it through: Flintoff survived his first foray into the ring to win on points

Made it through: Flintoff survived his first foray into the ring to win on points

When Ricky Hatton had fought a week earlier, the 19,000 tickets had gone within a week, the appetite for an authentic comeback from a credible star of the sport obviously greater than the desire to see a much-loved cricketing hero take this strange and rather brutal voyage of self-discovery.

You could not fault Flintoff’s courage but it was hard for any outcome to glorify the image of the noble art. A quick knockout or stoppage would have been the farce that many in the game had feared and predicted. Lasting the course as he did, even in this bare minimum format of eight minutes, did not suggest that the skill levels required to turn professional are stratospheric.

Something you could not criticise Flintoff for was his dedication to this cause, the loss of more than three stone sculpting his body into a sharper form than the one which, even at the height of his playing days, always had something of a built-for-comfort look about it.

He clearly answered the demands of McGuigan with four months of the kind of discipline that might have elongated the main part of his sporting career had he employed it then.

Get back up: Flintoff stumbled but recovered to emerge victorious

Get back up: Flintoff stumbled but recovered to emerge victorious

The last time he shared a sporting arena with a Richard Dawson it was the spindly Yorkshire off-spinner, not the former gang member from small town Oklahoma who had forged a more traditional, redemptive path into the sport.

Dawson, 23, has the sort of moobs that Simon Cowell might blush at, but unlike the Lancastrian he had the benefit of several amateur fights before two at professional level, albeit against equally unknown opponents.

Flintoff entered the ring wearing a Lancashire Twenty20 shirt, but he will never have heard a cacophony like this.

Compared to the earlier fighters on the bill Dawson was less nimble than a mobile home and after a cagey beginning Flintoff had him rocking back on the ropes.

Crowd favourite: 'Freddie' connects with Dawson's head

Crowd favourite: 'Freddie' connects with Dawson's head

That was until the left hook that had the home favourite sprawling across the canvas, forced to take a count of eight. Our hero survived through to the end of it and into a third round which saw much grappling, pushing and shoving, and the odd jab from both men.

With chants of ‘Freddie! Freddie!’ ringing around the arena and Dawson being reminded about his copious flab, Flintoff surged forward in the fourth round and landed his best combinations of the bout.

The late flurries, while somewhat ungainly, were enough to guarantee him the points decision after eight minutes of a different sort of fame.