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Alerx McLeish quits as Nottingham Forest boss after just 41 days

McLeish does a Clough and walks out on Nottingham Forest after just 41 days

PUBLISHED:

11:16 GMT, 5 February 2013

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UPDATED:

11:34 GMT, 5 February 2013

Alex McLeish has left Nottingham Forest by mutual consent, the League Managers Association says.

The Scot was in charge of the Championship side for just 41 days and seven games, winning only one and losing four.

Gone: Alex McLeish has left Nottingham Forest manager

Gone: Alex McLeish has left Nottingham Forest manager

It is thought the reason behind McLeish's decision to leave Forest is interference from the club's Kuwaiti owners, the Al-Hasawi family, in team affairs.

McLeish, who replaced Sean O'Driscoll as manager on December 27, said via a statement on the club's official website, nottinghamforest.co.uk: 'I am extremely saddened to be leaving after such a short period.

'But even so, it has been a privilege to be manager of such a fantastic football club and I want to thank the players, staff and fans for their support and wish Nottingham Forest the best of fortunes ahead.

'Both parties entered into the relationship in good faith. However, there was a difference in the understanding of the development strategy of the football club and it was felt by both parties that we should part company.'

Forest chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi had denied claims that there was a bust-up with manager Alex McLeish following the club's lack of transfer activity on deadline day.

Reports circulated that McLeish, who did manage to secure the services of Kuwaiti goalkeeper Khaled Al-Rashidi, was unhappy after George Boyd's proposed move collapsed at the 11th hour over what Peterborough described as an 'inconclusive eye test'.

Chairman Fawaz Al-Hasawi said: 'I'm bitterly disappointed – as is Alex – that it has not worked out as we had hoped when he became our manager and I would like to put on record my thanks for his services to the Club and wish him every success in the future.'

McLeish's turbulent reign at the City Ground rekindled memories of Brian Clough's disastrous 44-day spell at Leeds United.

Clough was famously sacked by the Yorkshire club after falling out with the players and board but went on to lead Nottingham Forest to league and European Cup glory.

More to follow

Bebe insists he still has Manchester United future

You've not seen the last of me! Man United flop Bebe insists Fergie still rates him

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

17:11 GMT, 16 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:11 GMT, 16 January 2013

Manchester United’s Portuguese flop Bebe has claimed that Sir Alex Ferguson still believes he has a future at Old Trafford.

The young winger – who has never started a game in the Barclays Premier League – is currently on loan at relatively unknown Portuguese club Rio Ave.

High hopes: Bebe was tipped for big things when he arrived at United

High hopes: Bebe was tipped for big things when he arrived at United

Keeping the faith: Bebe claims Ferguson has told him he still has a future at Old Trafford

Keeping the faith: Bebe claims Ferguson has told him he still has a future at Old Trafford

It is widely thought that the 22-year-old will never be seen again in England and that United will sell him if they can.

But the 7.4million signing from Guimaraes said this week: 'Sir Alex advised me to leave and find a club where I could play more often, so that I could make a great return in the future.

'Obviously something went wrong in the last phase of my career. I had a serious injury which thankfully I have fully recovered well from.

'I'm fine physically now. I was always training and playing. It's good to come here and I want to show what I can do.'

Bebe has already scored one goal for Rio Ave but it is unclear whether the club has the money to take him back to his home country on a permanent basis.

Mark Cavendish confident of success in 2013

Keep the faith! Cavendish bullish success will come his way in 2013 after switching to Omega

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

09:06 GMT, 2 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:16 GMT, 2 January 2013

Mark Cavendish believes the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team can propel him back to winning ways.

The 'Manx Missile' struggled to make an impact at Team Sky last year before failing to win a medal at the London Olympics.

But the world’s fastest sprinter has been impressed with the set-up at his new employers.

New beginning: Mark Cavendish has joined up with his team-mates

New beginning: Mark Cavendish has joined up with his team-mates

New beginning: Mark Cavendish has joined up with his team-mates

'I have to say that the first approach with the team in Slovakia and Mallorca during the training camp was great,' Cavendish said.

'When you come to a new group, you never know how it’s going to go or how to behave. Instead, with this group there was immediate synchrony.

'Everyone here, staff and athletes, really loves cycling and is psyched to be a part of this group that has such a great history. For me, it’s important to be a part of this and to feel the faith around me.’

Cavendish will join his team-mates for a training camp in Spain later this week before making his debut at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina later in January.

'I will probably anticipate my arrival in Spain by a few days, so I can get right down to hard work,' he added.

VIDEO: New year, new team for Cav…

‘It’s going to be an important training camp, during which we’re going to be doing a lot of work to prepare for the start of the season,

‘2013 already looks like is going to be full of events. I want to do well and give back to this fantastic group that has placed so much faith in me,

‘The heritage of this team is incredible; it’s been around since 2003. I’m proud to wear this jersey that Tom (Boonen) and the other guys on the team have made unique in the group.

‘Now I, too, want to contribute and feel like this jersey I’m wearing is even more my own.’

Ben Davies sees 400-a-week wage quadrupled in new Swansea deal

Davies quids in after Swansea quadruple his lowly 400-a-week wages

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UPDATED:

17:22 GMT, 23 November 2012

Swansea left-back Ben Davies has ditched the tag of being one of the Premier League’s lowest earners by signing a new three-and-a-half year contract.

The 19-year-old was previously earning in the region of 400-a-week, placing him well down the order in terms of wages for regular starters in the top flight.

Pay rise: Ben Davis has been given a significant increase on the 400-a-week he was on

Pay rise: Ben Davis has been given a significant increase on the 400-a-week he was on

But Sportsmail understands his new deal has quadrupled his pay packet and will keep him at the Liberty Stadium until June 2016.

'I'm delighted to have signed a new deal here,' he said. 'It shows the faith the club has in me and I’ve been rewarded for that.

'It is more security for me, and that will allow me to keep working as hard as possible to continue my development here.

'I have already learned a lot from not only playing, but by working hard in training with the manager, coaching staff and team-mates and taking as much advice as possible from them.

'It’s a great time to be at Swansea City – whether you are a player or supporter – and I’m delighted to be a part of it.'

Davies was expected to be a fringe player this season, but was thrown into the deep end when Neil Taylor broke his ankle in the home draw with Sunderland in September.

He has since made 11 Premier League appearances and won two caps for Wales.

Blow: Neil Taylor suffered a fractured ankle which has put him out until the end of the season

Blow: Neil Taylor suffered a fractured ankle which has put him out until the end of the season

Rangers v Elgin postponed after too many tickets sold

Rangers match against Elgin postponed after too many tickets sold

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UPDATED:

18:13 GMT, 23 November 2012

Rangers' Irn-Bru Third Division game against Elgin has been postponed because too many tickets were sold.

The Light Blues were set to travel north for Sunday's lunch-time clash at Borough Briggs.

However, the Ibrox club have confirmed the match is off due to 'circumstances completely outwith Rangers Football Club's control'.

Are you sure Rangers boss Ally McCoist trying to sell MORE tickets

Are you sure Rangers boss Ally McCoist trying to sell MORE tickets

A statement from the Scottish
Football League read: 'Following today's pre-ops meeting for the above
match, it has come to light that there has been a substantial oversale
of tickets for this fixture and Elgin City Football Club could not
confirm the exact number of tickets which have been sold for this match.

'Therefore, on the grounds of public safety and in close consultation with all parties, this match has now been postponed.

'Further information regarding tickets which have been sold will be provided as quickly as possible.

Small capacity: The number of tickets sold for the clash here at Borough Briggs was far too high

Small capacity: The number of tickets sold for the clash here at Borough Briggs was far too high

'Elgin City FC would like to apologise sincerely for this disappointing outcome. The SFL will conduct a full investigation into the circumstances.'

Elgin's apology has been accepted by Rangers, however manager Ally McCoist expressed his disappointment at the postponement.

He said: 'We are disappointed the match has been called off at such short notice and I know Elgin are as well.

'This was due to circumstances
outwith our control but we were informed a short time ago that there was
no way the match could go ahead on safety grounds.

'I am sure this is a huge disappointment to our supporters, who have purchased match tickets and arranged travel in good faith.

'Elgin City have apologised to the club and we accept their apology but I feel for our fans.'

Sergio Aguero not giving up on Manchester City Champions League hopes

Aguero refuses to give up hope on City's Champions League dream ahead of must-win Real Madrid visit

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UPDATED:

11:41 GMT, 19 November 2012

Sergio Aguero has called on his Manchester City team-mates never to give up their ambition of making the knockout stages of the Champions League and says the Premier League champions can still beat Real Madrid and escape their group of death.

Victory over Jose Mourinho’s side and then a win away to Borussia Dortmund would give City a slim chance of progressing from Group D into the knock-out stages, but the City striker insists it is possible.

'We should never give up,' he told the Manchester City website. 'Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right Of course, it’s harder now because we’re not just relying on ourselves but also on the other teams’ results.

Keeping the faith: Aguero celebrates scoring as City beat Aston Villa 5-0 at the weekend

Keeping the faith: Aguero celebrates scoring as City beat Aston Villa 5-0 at the weekend

'What we mustn’t do is leave the pitch with any regrets and be content knowing that we have given our all. This club deserves nothing less and our supporters deserve as much, too.’

City sit bottom of the their group with only two points after four matches, with Dortmund first with eight points and Madrid only one point behind.
Aguero believes that only makes the game more significant.

'I think it’s even more significant now than if we had been in a better position in the table,' he opined.

'It may sound strange, but I firmly believe that. We must win this game. Whatever the final score-line is – a good one, I hope – we’ll show on the field that we don’t give up, like we did in the game against Ajax and in every game we’ve played. We have a great team, I have no doubt about it and now it is time for us to show just how good we are.

Struggling: City could only draw with Dortmund at the Etihad last month

Struggling: City could only draw with Dortmund at the Etihad last month

'It’s always special to play against a
club like Real Madrid. Personally, my connection with Atletico Madrid
gives it an additional kick – but there’s no difference in how much I
want to win this match.

'Never defeating Real when I was with Atletico was a real regret for me – Atletico haven’t succeeded in beating them for many years – but I did get to score against them even if we never managed a win.

'Wednesday night will hopefully break that run for me.'

Leaving out Monty Panesar is big mistake – Nasser Hussain

Daily Dossier: Missing Monty is England's achilles in Ahmedabad

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UPDATED:

21:14 GMT, 15 November 2012

It is not being wise after the event to say that the pitch in Ahmedabad looked like a two-spinner surface and that England misread the conditions.

They should have played Monty Panesar in this first Test.

England put a lot of faith in statistics and they know seamers have fared better than spinners against Indian batsmen in India in modern times. It would not have gone unnoticed by England either that they have not won any of the seven Tests Panesar and Graeme Swann have played together.

Missing link: Monty was on the sidelines when he should have been playing

Missing link: Monty was on the sidelines when he should have been playing

Yet there are times when you have to trust your gut instinct. England should have looked down at the pitch. /11/15/article-2233589-160603EF000005DC-858_468x364.jpg” width=”468″ height=”364″ alt=”Face the music: Cook's team have made a patchy start to the first Test” class=”blkBorder” />

Face the music: Cook's team have made a patchy start to the first Test

Celtic were lucky against Barcelona – Lionel Messi

Messi: Celtic's win wasn't historic, they only beat us because of their height!

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UPDATED:

10:56 GMT, 9 November 2012

Lionel Messi insists Celtic were lucky to pull off their stunning Champions League victory over Barcelona – because their players were taller.

The Scottish club won 2-0 thanks to goals from Victor Wanyama and Tony Watt to boost their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Messi pulled a goal back in stoppage time for the Catalan giants but believes Celtic were fortunate to take all three points.

Leap of faith: Victor Wanyama rises highest to head Celtic in front

Leap of faith: Victor Wanyama rises highest to head Celtic in front

'They were very lucky. It’s a shame but we just couldn’t do anything about it,' he said in the Daily Record: “They were very lucky. It’s a shame but we just couldn’t do anything about it.

'We did everything in the game but just couldn’t get past them.

'Celtic came at us twice and got two goals from it. When they scored they just locked their defence.

'The first goal from the corner arrived because they are a bigger team than us – it was the same as their goal in the Nou Camp.

'The second goal was our own fault.

Lucky: Lionel Messi (right) believes Celtic were fortunate to beat his side

Lucky: Lionel Messi (right) believes Celtic were fortunate to beat his side

'We did everything well and made good chances but the ball just didn’t go in.'

Despite Wednesday’s defeat, Barcelona still sit at the top of Group G, two points ahead of Celtic in second place.

And Messi is confident the Spanish side will qualify.

'We are still in first place and we are relaxed,' he said.

'My goal didn’t mean too much but I’m sure I’ll score many goals and significant victories to dedicate to the birth of my son.'

Champions League elite are far in front of Manchester City: Ian Ladyman

Europe's elite are too far in front as Begiristain faces up to a new challenge

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UPDATED:

01:11 GMT, 7 November 2012

Plenty to ponder: Manchester City's chief executive Ferran Soriano (left) and new director of football Txiki Begiristain after the 2-2 draw with Ajax

Plenty to ponder: Manchester City's chief executive Ferran Soriano (left) and new director of football Txiki Begiristain after the 2-2 draw with Ajax

Manchester City’s new director of football Txiki Begiristain attended his first match at the Etihad Stadium. He will certainly not have been bored, but equally he will not have recognised much of what he saw.

Begiristain, we should remind ourselves, spent seven years at Barcelona recently. This is not the way they do things there.

Frantic, scrambling, desperate football is not familiar to Barca, even if late goals from Real Madrid — like the one which rescued Jose Mourinho’s team against Borussia Dortmund — certainly are.

Here in east Manchester, though, Begiristain will see that this is already becoming one of those seasons where things have to go wrong before they can even begin to go slightly right. There certainly doesn’t seem to be much method.

Begiristain is due to speak with City’s manager Roberto Mancini towards the end of this week. It will be the first time the two men have sat down together since the Spaniard arrived 10 days ago.

Mancini is comfortable with Begiristain’s appointment. As far as he is concerned, Begiristain benefits from having worked at one of the world’s biggest clubs and from not being previous incumbent Brian Marwood, in whom the Italian had no faith.

Mancini has by all accounts already established a rapport with new chief executive Ferran Soriano, which is a relief. The City manager used to communicate with Garry Cook — sacked a year ago — only through his assistant David Platt.

This week’s meeting should certainly be interesting, though.

Caught napping: Manchester City conceded from two corners

Caught napping: Manchester City conceded from two corners

From
the directors’ box, Berigistain will have recognised a certain spirit
that would have brought City an improbable victory had it not been for
tight late decisions.

Nevertheless,
he would also have seen a team playing for long periods without
cohesion, direction and purpose. This was not European football as he
knows it.

Bottom of the group: City have been exposed in Europe this season

Bottom of the group: City have been exposed in Europe this season

City: Ajax exposed

City conceded bad early goals. As they
flew in, Mancini’s players turned and stared and argued with each
other, just as Ajax winger Ryan Babel said they had in losing 3-1 in
Amsterdam a fortnight ago.

Late in the game Mancini argued with
Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli. At full time it was with the referee and
then a cameraman. He did not look to be in control.

It
is appropriate here to ask questions of Mancini’s players. Expensive
international footballers are not paid to make mistakes and then turn
round and blame somebody else.

But the way his team have played in
Europe does not reflect well on Mancini. In the Barclays Premier League
City are unbeaten. It is understandable, therefore, that their manager
chose to make a point in his programme column.

‘Some
of the things that have been said about the team in recent days make me
think we are bottom of the league,’ wrote Mancini rather tartly.

In
Europe, however, City have looked so far short of what is required that
Begiristain would be entitled — if he wished — to ask Mancini this week
why things have gone so dismally wrong.

City’s game in Madrid in September, for example, is remembered largely for its thrilling ending as Mancini’s team lost 3-2 after going 2-1 up in the 85th minute. What those of us present also remember, however, is that City barely touched the ball for the first hour.

At home to Borussia Dortmund, with whom they drew 1-1, City were outplayed. Away against Ajax they had their moments but were deservedly beaten. In short, City have so far been the worst team in this tough group.

City started like they finished in Amsterdam and then got quite a bit better. A linesman’s call denied them a stunning victory but the holes in the performance were still noticeable. Joe Hart perhaps should have stopped the first goal while Yaya Toure should have prevented the second. When a dependable player such as Toure starts to get the disease then you know you are in trouble.

Given that it is the theme of the week, we should note here that City’s spirit did enable them to get back into the game. They didn’t throw the towel in at two goals down.

Nevertheless, in the match programme there was a photograph of Mancini standing alone in the Amsterdam ArenA. In terms of imagery, it was perhaps appropriate.

India grateful for England"s old ineptitude – The Top Spin

Why India are clinging to faith in England's ineptitude against spin

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UPDATED:

11:12 GMT, 6 November 2012

Top Spin

When England arrived in Australia two years ago, travelling journalists who had grown used to being mocked even as they passed through customs noticed a change of mood.

‘You guys are going to win,’ grumbled my taxi driver in Brisbane. I didn’t believe him, but the comment was symbolic. Australia without its swagger was like bubble without the squeak.

To be in India this last week has not quite been to sense the same defeatism. Yet there is an anxiety here that has matched England’s own concerns about selection.

Our hero: Sachin Tendulkar's century for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy settled a few Indian nerves

Our hero: Sachin Tendulkar's century for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy settled a few Indian nerves

India remain favourites to win the four-Test series starting in nine days’ time in Ahmedabad, but mainly because of enduring faith in English ineptitude against spin, rather than the kind of confidence that was once inspired by the greatest batting line-up on the planet and has produced only four series defeats at home out of 40.

Just to repeat, in case you choose to read this piece selectively: I expect India to win (2-1, to make a fool of myself in advance). But it has required centuries for Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in the opening round of Ranji Trophy matches to settle nerves – theirs and everyone else’s – while question marks remain about the form of Gautam Gambhir and the fitness of Zaheer Khan.

Then there’s the alleged civil war between Sehwag and MS Dhoni, the captain, which the local TV channels can be relied upon to rev up on the flimsiest pretexts in the weeks ahead.

We are hardly in the realms of a crisis here. But such has been the expectation that England are due another subcontinental misadventure that the desire to avenge the 4-0 whitewash of 2011 has acquired an introspective air.

Rift Indian heavyweights MS Dhoni (left) and Virender Sehwag (right) are said to be at loggerheads

Rift Indian heavyweights MS Dhoni (left) and Virender Sehwag (right) are said to be at loggerheads

Rift Indian heavyweights MS Dhoni (left) and Virender Sehwag (right) are said to be at loggerheads

When will Sachin quit Is Viru past it What about Gauti Is Zak too old Why have we gone back to Harbhajan

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 answer to that last question also explains why England faced no frontline spin (sorry, Yuvraj) in their first two warm-up matches, and will be tested only by leggie Amit Mishra in the four-day game against Haryana starting on Thursday here in Ahmedabad.

It’s not so much that BCCI conceived a cunning plan to deprive England of the chance to apply a sticking plaster to their old achilles heel – more that India’s stock of quality spinners is not what it once was. This is not to denigrate Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, who could yet win them the series. But the cupboard is disconcertingly bare.

Although there is never a good time to play India in India, the truth is that this is one of the better times. England, though, need absolutely everything to slot into place – and the early signs have been mixed.

England have problems too: Steven Finn (second left) is vital to the attack but is struggling with a thigh strain

England have problems too: Steven Finn (second left) is vital to the attack but is struggling with a thigh strain

Crucial to their hopes of unsettling India’s batsmen on docile tracks is the fitness of Steven Finn, who may play his first Test out here with only four overs under his belt thanks to a thigh strain. Next in the queue is Stuart Broad, who will have been limited to 10 by a bruised heel.

Through no obvious fault of their own, England’s eminently sensible plan of playing three warm-up games before the Tests is in danger of losing its value.

But they have learned things too. For one thing, it seems Nick Compton has guts. It’s true that the Mumbai A bowling on Monday afternoon wasn’t up to much, but his entire tour was in the balance after scores of 0 and 1, and he responded with a show of bloody-mindedness that will have resonated with Andy Flower.

Got guts: Nick Compton overcame a poor start to his tour to hit a half-century against Mumbai A

Got guts: Nick Compton overcame a poor start to his tour to hit an unbeaten half-century against Mumbai A

For another, Samit Patel looks ready –
and so too do either Jonny Bairstow or Eoin Morgan when Ian Bell flies
home around the time of the second Test in Mumbai. And Kevin Pietersen
Gloriously, he is yet to put his foot in it.

Still, an Indian elephant lurks. England have not faced either Ashwin or Ojha, and neither have they batted on a pitch that is more than three days old. If India are asking themselves questions, England are equally unsure of a few answers.

Both sides are stumbling towards the starting line – which is why India, in their home conditions, should remain ahead. Just don’t expect another 4-0.

WIN THE REMARKABLE STORY OF CRICKET ON EVEREST

The Top Spin has stumbled across three copies of Alan Curr’s cracking new book Cricket on Everest: The Inspirational Story of the World’s Highest Cricket Match. And we’re offering them as a prize. All you have to do is answer the following question, and email the answer to [email protected] by 12 noon GMT on Monday, November 12.

– Which member of England’s current touring party in India climbed to Everest base camp five years ago

For more information on Alan’s story, please visit www.facebook.com/CricketOnEverest and @everestcricket.

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

Bresnan almost puts his foot in it – and over it

There was a small intake of breath as Tim Bresnan addressed the media on the first evening of England’s warm-up game against India A last week. Earlier in the day, Bresnan had been made to wait for six minutes for the third umpire to confirm that he hadn’t overstepped when removing Ajinkya Rahane, and quipped that he hadn’t bowled a no-ball ‘without meaning to’ for about eight years.

To confess to a deliberate no-ball is an interesting career move in the post-Lord’s-2010 era, but – as the room filled with titters – Bresnan quickly clarified his position. ‘Sometimes you need an extra ball to set the batsmen up,’ he pointed out. Returning to the dressing-room, Bresnan wondered whether he had just dropped a clanger. Still, next time he oversteps, we’ll have a decent chance of knowing why.

Careful, Tim: England bowler Bresnan (right) flirted with controversy in India last week

Careful, Tim: England bowler Bresnan (right) flirted with controversy in India last week

More from Lawrence Booth…

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

The Top Spin at the Test: Headingley – the ground where Weird Things Happen (And Mainly To England)
02/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

India A's flighty openers

The India A openers faced a tricky decision on the final day of the match. Both Abhinav Mukund and Murali Vijay had already booked afternoon flights to Cuttack, 90 minutes in the air from Mumbai, for Ranji Trophy matches starting the next day. Batting again against England was, frankly, an inconvenience. What to do

The two men took different routes. While Vijay cancelled his flight in the hope of impressing the selectors with a big score, Mukund stuck resolutely to Plan A – a stratagem that was not inconvenienced when he was caught at mid-on in the third over from a leading edge off Jimmy Anderson.

What happened, asked India A coach Lalchand Rajput ‘I was too early on the shot,’ protested Mukund. ‘Early on the shot – or late for the flight’ came the withering reply. As for Vijay, his demise in the first over after tea meant he was back on the phone to his airline to retrieve his booking. Both men are understood to have caught their flights, but they need barely have bothered. Bad weather limited Tamil Nadu’s game against Orissa to 33.1 overs.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Forget Steven Finn’s anxiety over how much of a part he’ll play in this Test series. The big question he’s asking himself right now is: why did I shave my legs Finn lost some hair on his right thigh after undergoing treatment for the strain he collected on the first day of the tour, but instead of ignoring the bare patch on a part of the body rarely seen in public, England’s beanpole decided to even things up by depilating both legs – in their entirety. Just don’t be heard suggesting he looks the less manly for it.

The name's P… KP

Reintegration comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it isn’t merely a case of scoring runs or confirming that everything really is back to normal by getting out to a left-arm spinner. So hats off to Kevin Pietersen for pulling a few strings and organising a team outing to a Mumbai premiere of Skyfall, the new James Bond flick.

Movie star: Kevin Pietersen's 'reintegration' with the England team continues apace

Movie star: Kevin Pietersen's 'reintegration' with the England team continues apace thanks to a cinema trip

Here we go again…

If England thought the retirement of Rahul Dravid has created a potential weakness in India’s line-up at No 3, they may have to think again. Cheteshwar Pujara looked a model of concentration as he made 87 for Mumbai A at the DY Patil Stadium on Sunday. But perhaps this should come as no surprise. In the space of a month four years ago, Pujara compiled scores of 386, 309 and 302 not out. Is a new wall being erected