Tag Archives: fettle

Darren Barker beats Simone Rotolo to win IBF Inter-Continental middleweight title

Barker makes light work of Rotolo to take middleweight title at Wembley Arena

By
Declan Warrington

PUBLISHED:

23:10 GMT, 9 March 2013

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UPDATED:

00:15 GMT, 10 March 2013

Darren Barker secured a routine victory over Simone Rotolo and the vacant IBF Intercontinental title after the Italian was forced to withdraw before the start of the fifth round.

The middleweight, fighting for the second time in a matter of months after a cruel run of injuries, needed to make a statement with his domestic rivals also progressing and would have been underwhelmed that the opportunity to do so was taken away.

Barker is one third of a rivalry with world-title contender Matthew Macklin and next month’s WBC challenger Martin Murray and impressed with a relaxed approach at the start but soon after fought more raggedly.

Strong showing: Darren Barker knocks down Simone Rotolo during their IBF Inter-Continental Middleweight bout

Strong showing: Darren Barker knocks down Simone Rotolo during their IBF Inter-Continental Middleweight bout

Fine fettle: Barker took Rotolo to task with a flurry of punches in the first round

Fine fettle: Barker took Rotolo to task with a flurry of punches in the first round

Rotolo was knocked down after a flurry
of punches towards the end of the first round when caught against the
ropes but instead of stopping his opponent there and then, Barker lost
any real polish and instead messily pursued the knockout which
ultimately never came.

Edging each round if not dominating
them as a more polished Barker perhaps would have done, the middleweight
tested his opponent occasionally if not convincingly and was in the
midst of another flurry of punches when Rotolo significantly backed off,
avoiding the fight and shaking his hand in obvious pain until the end
of the round came and the Italian’s corner announced his withdrawal
almost instantly after.

'Macklin and Murray [who fights WBC
champion Sergio Martinez on 27 April]' are looking busy now, so I’d like
a fight with Andy Lee,' he said afterwards.

He told Sky Sports 2: 'I'm ready to push on now. There's the obvious domestic fights
and world title fights – I'm game, I'll fight any of them. It just takes
two of us to get the ball rolling and it could be rematches, trilogies,
whatever.'

Pushing on: Barker is looking ahead to his future which could involve 'rematches' and 'trilogies'

Pushing on: Barker is looking ahead to his future which could involve 'rematches' and 'trilogies'

Alistair Brownlee wins Abu Dhabi International Triathlon

Olympic triathlon hero Brownlee cruises to Abu Dhabi win by smashing course record

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

12:47 GMT, 2 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:12 GMT, 2 March 2013

Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee smashed the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon short course record on his way to clinching his first win since the Olympic Games last summer.

Wearing the colours of the Union Jack, the 24-year-old Yorkshireman looked every inch the champion in Abu Dhabi.

Having spent much of his winter training acclimatising to the warm Arabian temperatures, the hard work paid off for the back-to-back European Triathlon Union champion as he finished the 111.5kms pure power course in 3h20m18s – 29 seconds ahead of the previous record, set in 2010 by Dutchman Jan Van Berkel.

Winning feeling: Alistair Brownlee smashed the course record on his Abu Dhabi debut

Winning feeling: Alistair Brownlee smashed the course record on his Abu Dhabi debut

And Brownlee, who is used to the shorter Olympic distances and is in Abu Dhabi to expand his competitive horizons, was full of praise to the thousands of fans who turned out to cheer him over the line.

‘It is a good race to do for an introduction to longer distances and I would like to do more, but right now my focus us is on the ITU circuit.’ said Brownlee.

The young Briton was in fine fettle, coming out of the water in the opening 1.5kms swim leg comfortably positioned.

Riding to glory: Brownlee was on commanding form in Abu Dhabi

Riding to glory: Brownlee was on commanding form in Abu Dhabi

With a cycle distance of 100kms more than Brownlee is used to, pundits tipped the following bike section to be the make or break for the youngster, and it nearly proved to be true. After taking a wrong turn on the circuit, Brownlee lost ground and was overtaken by Dutchman Cesar Beilo – who won the Abu Dhabi short course in 2011.

Coming into the final 10kms run, Brownlee was nestled in second place. Having conserved his energy on the bike, the look of determination on his face was easy to see at the final transition. With thousands of fans lined up to cheer him on, the Olympic golden boy dug deep to make light work of the final run, bringing it home in emphatic style.

‘I was swimming very fast in the beginning, apologies to anyone we might have kicked on the way through,’ joked Brownlee on the Abu Dhabi finish line.

Top gearL Brownlee was in fine form during his Abu Dhabi win

Top gearL Brownlee was in fine form during his Abu Dhabi win

‘The bike was a challenge. I saw a sign on the bike course and thought that was where I needed to go; it was only when I got back on the course I realised I had been there before. I tried to pace it quite well, but I have no idea how to pace 100kms on a bike, but it seemed to go ok.

‘I felt tired towards the end, but I didn’t have to push too hard, which was good as it was getting hot; it’s a bit of a shock as it is zero degrees back home and nearly 30 here, but it was early morning so I didn’t struggle too much.’

Beilo took second place, more than five minutes behind Brownlee, with Russia’s Alexander Bryukhankov taking third. Egyptian star, Omar Nour, finished in seventh place, making him the highest Arab athlete on the day.

Event organiser, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), said that Brownlee’s win would be a huge inspiration to local athletes and it hoped to see more kids get into the sport because of it.

Australian Open 2013: Serena Williams beats Maria Kirilenko to face Sloane Stephens

Williams cruises past Kirlenko to set up mouthwatering clash against the youngster billed as the next Serena

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

10:42 GMT, 21 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:51 GMT, 21 January 2013

Serena Williams was in fine fettle as she beat Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-0 to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The American will face her compatriot Sloane Stephens who is competing in her first grand slam quarter-final after beating Bojana Jovanovski.

Serena landed close to 90 per cent of her first serves and knew herself how strong her performance was.

Flying: Serena Williams made light work of Maria Kirilenko at the Rod Laver

Flying: Serena Williams made light work of Maria Kirilenko at the Rod Laver

'I thought I played really well,' Williams told The Australian. 'I didn't expect to come out and play so well tonight.

'I
was like 'wow'. I saw I had like 95 per cent of first serves in the
first set and I thought: “Who is this girl” It's not me normally.'

Stephens
is the 'next big thing' in American tennis and the clash against Serena
will be intriguing. The 19-year-old beat Jovanovski 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 to
set up the clash against her childhood hero.

Less than 60 minutes: Kirilenko struggled at the hands of Serena

Less than 60 minutes: Kirilenko struggled at the hands of Serena

Although she doesn't like being compared to Serena, there are similarities between the two.

Both have powerful serves and like playing from the baseline, for instance.

They get along well off of the court too, often texting each other. 'We just keep it goofy,' Stephens said. 'She’s like the goofiest person I know.'

Serena said of Sloane: 'I think she's playing great. We played just two weeks ago in Brisbane, she played unbelievably well.

'I think she is an incredible talent and I admire her too. It will be a tough match for me but I feel like I have nothing to lose.'

Tale of the tape

SERENA WILLIAMS

SLOANE STEPHENS

Age

31

19

Weight

155lbs

135lbs

Height

5'9″

5'7″

Birthplace

Saginaw, MI, USA

Plantation, FL, USA

World seeding

3

25

Serena v Sloane

SERENA WILLIAMS

SLOANE STEPHENS

WTA Singles titles

47

0

WTA Doubles titles

22

0

ITF Circuits singles titles

0

1

ITF Doubles titles

0

1

Prize money

$41,960,896

$694,995

Won/Lost Singles

558-108

108-77

Won/Lost Doubles

166-21

29-32

Serena throws her towel in to the sky

Serena throws her towel in to the sky

Chris Wood will sign for Leicester for 1.5m

Foxes snare 1.5m West Brom hitman Wood to aid promotion push

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UPDATED:

17:10 GMT, 27 December 2012

Leicester have won the battle to sign Chris Wood after
agreeing a 1.5million deal with West Brom for the free-scoring New Zealand
striker.

Wood has been in prolific form during a loan spell with
Millwall, who were anxious to turn his temporary stay into a permanent transfer and were competing with Leicester, Huddersfield and several other
clubs for his signature.

But the 21-year old has opted for Championship promotion
chasers Leicester and will be confirmed as a Foxes’ player shortly.

Goal machine: Chris Wood has been in fine fettle for Milwall

Goal machine: Chris Wood has been in fine fettle for Milwall

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson bemoaned his side’s lack of
a cutting edge after seeing them follow a 1-0 home defeat by Cardiff with a
goalless draw at Hull on Boxing Day.

He was adamant that the addition of more firepower could
prove vital to their promotion prospects and admitted he was hopeful of a
transfer breakthrough in the next few days.

Though he played down speculation
that he was closing in on Wood, the burly West Brom target man was always his
main priority and is now heading to the East Midlands to bolster Leicester’s
promotion push.

Aston Villa 2 Manchester United 3: Javier Hernandez saves the day – match report

Aston Villa 2 Manchester United 3: Red hot Hernandez single-handedly saves Sir Alex

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UPDATED:

20:40 GMT, 10 November 2012

Two-goal substitute Javier Hernandez inspired a dramatic Manchester United comeback against Aston Villa as the Red Devils stretched their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League to four points.

Villa stunned their opponents by taking a two-goal lead through Andreas Weimann in the space of five minutes either side of half-time.

But Hernandez turned the game on its head by scoring United's first goal, seeing his shot deflect off Villa skipper Ron Vlaar for the equaliser, and then heading a late winner.

Hard to handle: Javier Hernandez's strike flies in off of Ron Vlaar

Hard to handle: Javier Hernandez's strike flies in off of Ron Vlaar

In fine fettle: Hernandez has sprung to life in recent weeks

In fine fettle: Hernandez has sprung to life in recent weeks

Match facts

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens, Weimann (Holman 81), Westwood, Ireland (El Ahmadi 79), Bannan (Delph 87), Agbonlahor, Benteke.

Subs not used: Given, Albrighton, Bowery, Williams.

Booked: Ireland

Goals: Weimann 45, 50.

Man Utd: De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Smalling, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes (Cleverley 72), Young (Hernandez 46), Rooney (Anderson 79), Van Persie.

Subs not used: Lindegaard, Welbeck, Fletcher, Buttner.

Booked: Carrick

Goals: Hernandez 58, 87 Vlaar (og) 62.

Att: 40,538

Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

It stretched United's advantage over nearest rivals Chelsea with another of their famous fightbacks in the face of adversity.

But Sir Alex Ferguson will be
concerned United again looked suspect defensively against a Villa side
who had scored only eight times in their previous 10 league games.

Summer signing Christian Benteke again
impressed up front, while Stephen Ireland looked a threat in his free
role behind the main striker.

But United never know when they are
beaten and after seldom posing a threat in the opening 45 minutes, the
introduction of Hernandez sparked them into life.

They dominated the second period and their persistence finally paid off as they took their goal tally to 29 in 11 league games.

United started on the offensive and
left-back Enda Stevens, who was making his first Premier League start,
blocked a shot from Antonio Valencia at the expense of a corner.

Michael Carrick was first to react to
the resulting corner from Robin van Persie but his header flew straight
at Villa keeper Brad Guzan.

Contortionist: Hernandez flings himself at the ball to head in No 3

Contortionist: Hernandez flings himself at the ball to head in No 3

All gone wrong: Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney look miserable as Aston Villa leapt into the lead

All gone wrong: Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney look miserable as Aston Villa leapt into the lead

Former Villa winger Ashley Young, who was booed every time he was in possession, then curled a 20-yard shot just wide.

Villa responded and, from the second of three successive corners, Benteke had a shot blocked by Young inside the danger area.

The home side found themselves with a
three versus two advantage on the counter-attack but Weimann attempted
to find Ireland rather than shooting and the ball deflected through to
David de Gea.

Pow pow: Andreas Weimann points his fingers to the sky after sending Villa fans into raptures

Pow pow: Andreas Weimann points his fingers to the sky after sending Villa fans into raptures

Make mine a double: Weimann runs in to put Villa two goals to the good

Make mine a double: Weimann runs in to put Villa two goals to the good

Villa fans booed their United
counterparts after only a small number clapped during the customary
minute's applause for skipper Stiliyan Petrov, who is battling against
acute leukaemia.

Ireland flashed a dipping 25-yard drive just past the post after being teed up by Weimann.

Then, in first half injury-time, a superb strike from Weimann put Villa ahead.

Weimann released Benteke, who shrugged
off the challenge of Chris Smalling before spotting the run into the
box of the Austrian Under-21 international. His rising first-time shot
from just inside the box flew past De Gea into the roof of the net.

Ups and downs: Brad Guzan celebrates while David de Gea sits miserably (below)

Ups and downs: Brad Guzan celebrates while David de Gea sits miserably (below)

De Gea sulks

De Gea sulks

Ferguson brought on Hernandez for
Young at the start of the second half but within five minutes Weimann
had doubled Villa's lead.

Benteke's step-over dummy allowed
Ashley Westwood's pass to find its way to Ireland, who released the
over-lapping Gabriel Agbonlahor.

The England striker's precise ball across the box was smashed home by Weimann at close range.

United reduced the arrears after 58
minutes when Hernandez took a flighted pass from Paul Scholes in his
stride and slipped the ball past Guzan for his seventh goal of the
campaign.

Satisfied for now: Ferguson's side turned the game on its head in the second half

Satisfied for now: Ferguson's side turned the game on its head in the second half

Take that: Aston Villa's Stephen Ireland (left) is fouled by Manchester United's Paul Scholes

Take that: Aston Villa's Stephen Ireland (left) is fouled by Manchester United's Paul Scholes

Scholes headed wide from a Van Persie corner while De Gea held on to Benteke's header from a Weimann cross.

But after 63 minutes an own goal from Villa skipper Vlaar brought United level.

Hernandez was again involved as he got on the end of Rafael's cross but his shot deflected off Vlaar past Guzan into the net.

Villa still threatened danger and De Gea had to palm away Weimann's header from Barry Bannan's cross.

At the double: Youngster Weimann struck twice

At the double: Youngster Weimann struck twice

Struggle: Robin van Persie tries to hold off Vlaar

Struggle: Robin van Persie tries to hold off Vlaar

But the woodwork twice came to Villa's
rescue in the space of 30 seconds with a Antonio Valencia header and
Van Persie's dipping shot hitting the crossbar.

Wayne Rooney picked up a knock and was replaced with 10 minutes left as United pressed for the winner.

It finally arrived in the 88th minute when Hernandez stooped down to head home Van Persie's free-kick.

Lee Westwood shoots 61 to share HSBC Champions lead

Westwood shoots super 61 at Shenzhen to share HSBC Champions lead with Louis

PUBLISHED:

11:15 GMT, 3 November 2012

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UPDATED:

11:15 GMT, 3 November 2012

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods may have angered officials by not participating in the HSBC Champions, but Lee Westwood more than made up for their absence on a thrilling third day at Mission Hills.

The no-shows of the sport's two biggest names were not well received by sponsors or organisers alike, but Westwood and a strong supporting cast did their best to prove there is a depth of talent on the tour.

The world No 4's scintillating 11-under-par 61 helped him take a share of the lead, while overnight pacesetter Louis Oosthuizen added a late touch of drama when he missed a chance to go back out in front on the last.

Storming into contention: Lee Westwood shot a superb 60 to share the lead with Louis oosthuizen

Storming into contention: Lee Westwood shot a superb 60 to share the lead with Louis oosthuizen

Beyond the lead duo, who are locked together on 18 under, Brandt Snedeker went within inches of achieving golf's magical 59 when he missed a 15-footer for birdie on the final hole, with the American instead having to be satisfied with a course-record 60 – a shot better off than Westwood.

But although Snedeker shot the lowest, Westwood was the day's biggest winner. The 39-year-old had an unblemished third round of 11 birdies and soared up the leaderboard from 12th to joint first, with he and Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, three shots clear of nearest challenger Phil Mickelson.

The Ryder Cup star set his stall out with birdies at the first three holes and he did not look back. His putting was in good fettle – he landed a tricky 10-footer on the ninth to emphasise such – and he looked in control all the way round.

Oosthuizen had led by five going into Saturday, but a sluggish display with the putter cost him dear.

Good day's work: Westwood was more than happy with his third round at Mission Hills

Good day's work: Westwood was more than happy with his third round at Mission Hills

He had several near misses on his way around – showing signs of decline when he slid one wide from five feet – and things were summed up by his penultimate shot of the day when a 15-footer on the last would have given him a one-shot lead heading into Sunday. He missed by an inch.

The same fate befell Snedeker, who looked set to go sub-60 when he approached the 18th, only to pull up just short.

Earlier in the day, Ernie Els had briefly snagged a share of the lead on his way back to the clubhouse, but undid his hard work when he found the water on the 15th, taking a double bogey.

He finished with a 69 and sleeps on 14 under, along with Bill Haas and Ian Poulter.

So close: Brandt Snedeker just missed out on a 59 in the third round of the HSBC Champions

So close: Brandt Snedeker just missed out on a 59 in the third round of the HSBC Champions

Snedeker is a shot further back but seemingly the man with the momentum to mount a last-day assault. His overnight mood could have been even better too.

'I was disappointed not to shoot 59,' he said. 'In a career you might only get a couple of chances to do it. When I made eagle at the 15th the idea of shooting 59 came to me but I knew I needed to make birdie at the last three holes.'

Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar is a shot further back after an impressive nine-under round, with Martin Kaymer, Carl Pettersson, Scott Piercy and Adam Scott alongside him on 12 under overall.

In a highly competitive field, Luke Donald and Jason Dufner are next on 11 under, although it was not such a good day for everyone, as Dustin Johnson slipped from nine under to three over thanks to a horror 12-over round, with a quadruple-bogey nine on the 15th the lowlight.

Liverpool lead race for Demba Ba

Liverpool lead race for Ba with striker irritating Newcastle over wage demands

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UPDATED:

10:39 GMT, 30 September 2012

Liverpool are interested in bringing Newcastle striker Demba Ba to Anfield to boost their goal tally.

The Senegal forward is at odds with his club currently as he looks to secure a higher salary than his current 50,000-a-week.

Although the Reds smashed in five against Norwich on Saturday they have struggled for goals this term, with Fabio Borini still to find the net in the league.

In form: Demba Ba is in fine fettle of late

In form: Demba Ba is in fine fettle of late

Ba signed for Newcastle in the summer of 2011 and smashed in 17 goals in his first season with the club.

He has leapt to the top of the Barclays Premier League golden boot chart this season with six goals and there is a 7.5million release fee clause in his contract.

Now according to The Star Newcastle have had enough of his representatives' threats and are prepared to let him go without a fight – especially if they can pick up former Toon star Andy Carroll too.

Agent Alex Gontran had caused trouble by saying: 'Since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, Demba doesn’t understand the management.

'If he continues to be a substitute all season we will look at other solutions.'

Marko Marin says Chelsea should be able to stop Lukas Podolski

Marin believes Blues can keep Germany team-mate Podolski at bay on derby day

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UPDATED:

08:51 GMT, 27 September 2012

Marko Marin has claimed the Chelsea defence should be able to prevent his German compatriot Lukas Podolski from running riot when they face Arsenal on Saturday.

The Gunners' striker has hit three in his last four games for the club but Marin is confident his team-mates can stifle the threat.

The 23-year-old midfielder told The Star: 'At the beginning it was a bit new for him, but now he is doing very well.

Belief: Marko Marin thinks Arsenal will come a cropper on the banks of the Chelsea defence

Belief: Marko Marin thinks Arsenal will come a cropper on the banks of the Chelsea defence

'He has scored a few goals and he is playing well.

'Will Lukas be a threat I think we have a very good defence. Our right-back Branislav Ivanovic will do very well.

'It will be very hard for Lukas to play against him. I am not sure that Arsenal have played against a good team like us.

'I am confident that we can keep Podolski quiet.

'There are two German players that we will be playing against, with Per Mertesacker also playing for Arsenal.

'I have not spoken to Lukas. We know each other from the national team, of course, but we are not really friends.

'I talk more with Per. We played together at Werder Bremen.

'I hope I’m in the team, but the important thing is that we win and keep our position in the Premier League.'

Saturday's game will be the toughest Premier League test Chelsea have faced this season – and might also be Marin's first.

Threat: Lukas Podolski is in fine fettle

Threat: Lukas Podolski is in fine fettle

The wide man only made his Blues debut on Tuesday during his side's 6-0 mauling of Wolves in the Capital One Cup because of a hamstring injury.

Marin explained: 'I did it in a training session, but I feel good now and I can forget all that and look to the future.

'I just want to play for as long as possible, for as many games as I can. I am nearly 100 per cent fit again, so I hope to play.'

Kevin Pietersen still the focus while England lose to South Africa

Still talking about Kevin… Pietersen the topic of discussion again as England flop

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 8 September 2012

England fans carried placards asking ‘Kevin who’ at the Emirates Cricket Ground on Saturday.

But England’s management and players
need no reminding of their absent friend, Mr Pietersen, who continued to
dominate discussions while a low-key Twenty20 game, which South Africa
won at a canter, went on in the background.

Stuart Broad and his team depart for
Sri Lanka on Thursday to begin their campaign to retain their World
Twenty20 crown, without the exiled Kevin Pietersen. They start against
Afghanistan on September 21.

Feeling blue: Skipper Stuart Broad suffered as England were beaten

Feeling blue: Skipper Stuart Broad suffered as England were beaten

Fluent: JP Duminy (47no) and Jacques Kallis (48no) shake hands after steering South Africa to a comprehensive victory

Fluent: JP Duminy (47no) and Jacques Kallis (48no) shake hands after steering South Africa to a comprehensive victory

Chief selector Geoff Miller and coach
Andy Flower, who watched Broad’s team lose by seven wickets in Durham,
want to announce the Test squad for next month’s India tour on Thursday
to prevent the Pietersen saga dragging on through the tournament.

With Pietersen understood to be
standing firm in his belief that senior England players were in some way
involved with the spoof Twitter account @KPGenius — set up by Richard
Bailey, a close friend of Broad’s, before being hastily shut down — it
is hard to see a way back in the short term.

Unbeaten: Both Kallis (top) and Duminy (bottom) were in fine fettle, punishing some loose England bowling

Unbeaten: Both Kallis (top) and Duminy (bottom) were in fine fettle, punishing some loose England bowling

Safe hands: JP Duminy hit an unbeaten 47 as South Africa chased down England's total with ease

That makes it unlikely Pietersen, left
off a list of 10 players awarded ECB central contracts on Friday, will
tour India under new Test captain Alastair Cook. Cook’s willingness or
otherwise to include a potentially divisive player in his squad will
determine Pietersen’s long-term fate, but with discussions on-going it
is hard to see how he can return in time for India.

One theory was that with Tim Bresnan
struggling with an elbow problem, Pietersen could yet be drafted in to
the World Cup squad if he shows more contrition. But with an ICC panel
required to ratify that any replacement is ‘like for like’, that is
unlikely. Besides, England’s management have already told players who
are on standby and Pietersen is not believed to be one of them.

In a rut: Ravi Bopara's woes continued, with England's No 4 making six off 11 balls

In a rut: Ravi Bopara's woes continued, with England's No 4 making six off 11 balls

There is no doubt that England will miss his batting both in Tests and the Twenty20 format.

On Saturday the man charged with
filling his No 3 spot, Ravi Bopara, contributed just six as England
reached their third-lowest total in Twenty20 history before Jacques
Kallis (48 not out) guided South Africa to victory in an unbeaten 90-run
partnership with JP Duminy (47 not out).

‘Ravi’s struggled the last couple of
weeks but he’s working very hard to put that right,’ said Broad. Craig
Kieswetter (25) and Alex Hales (11) got England off to a decent start
with a stand of 27 before Hales was run out and the wheels rapidly came
off.

Jade Dernbach and Steven Finn bowled with pace and hostility to reduce the tourists to 29-3 after four overs.

But then the incomparable Kallis hit cruise control to see South Africa home with six balls to spare.

Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy steer South Africa to seven-wicket victory in T20 opener

Kallis and Duminy steer South Africa to seven-wicket victory in T20 opener

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UPDATED:

16:56 GMT, 8 September 2012

England repeated familiar mistakes as they switched formats and venues, but again came up short against South Africa in the first NatWest Twenty20 at Emirates Durham ICG.

As at Trent Bridge, where England posted an under-par total on the way to NatWest Series defeat against the same opponents three days ago, so it was here as a string of frontline batsmen fell to soft dismissals.

A vulnerable 118 for seven resulted before, in another echo of Nottingham, England's new-ball attack took three early wickets – and then an old hand, this time the returning Jacques Kallis (48no), took over in company with JP Duminy (47no) to see South Africa home with seven wickets and an over to spare.

Fluent: JP Duminy (47no) and Jacques Kallis (48no) shake hands after steering South Africa to a comprehensive victory

Fluent: JP Duminy (47no) and Jacques Kallis (48no) shake hands after steering South Africa to a comprehensive victory

On a pitch of decent pace, but with spin available for Johan Botha and Robin Peterson, England's highest partnership was captain Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann's unbroken 33 for the eighth wicket.

Until then, early promise foundered alarmingly as Peterson and Botha shared four wickets – with minimal resistance – and England registered the third-lowest total in their Twenty20 history. Alex Hales began the innings with boundaries from the second and third balls he faced, a sweep and front-foot push past point in the first over off Peterson.

Top scorer Craig Kieswetter clubbed Lonwabo Tsotsobe for England's only six over long-on, but the first-wicket stand ended unsatisfactorily when Hales over-committed himself for a single into the leg-side off his partner's thick inside-edge and could not beat Kallis' direct hit as he tried to dive back.

Unbeaten Both Kallis (top) and Duminy (bottom) were in fine fettle, punishing some loose England bowling

Unbeaten Both Kallis (top) and Duminy (bottom) were in fine fettle, punishing some loose England bowling

Safe hands: JP Duminy hit an unbeaten 47 as South Africa chased down England's total with ease

Kieswetter stayed long enough to help England to 40 for one in powerplay, only to go lbw to the first ball of the next over – Botha striking immediately with a big off-break which hit the batsman just on off-stump.

Out-of-form Ravi Bopara stayed that way after AB de Villiers recalled Dale Steyn, kept a slip in and duly saw England's number three go again to a compliant outside-edge.

Botha and Peterson's spin variations soon did for two of England's biggest hopes.

Eoin Morgan was bowled by Botha, attempting a hybrid leg-side swipe, and Jos Buttler advanced to Peterson but missed one that turned.

Jonny Bairstow picked out long-on with regrettable precision, off Albie Morkel – and Samit Patel was well-caught by a diving Kallis at long-off off Peterson.

In a rut: Ravi Bopara's woes continued, with England's No 4 making six off 11 balls

In a rut: Ravi Bopara's woes continued, with England's No 4 making six off 11 balls

Broad and Swann therefore had to try to rescue a worthwhile total, from 85 for seven in the 16th over, after a procession of six wickets for the addition of only 45 runs.

Swann hit Peterson to deep mid-wicket, for England's first boundary in nine overs, and he and Broad at least pushed their team into three-figures.

Top scorer: Craig Kieswetter made 25

Top scorer: Craig Kieswetter made 25

When South Africa faltered to 29 for three after four overs, it seemed England's bowlers might somehow salvage the situation after all.

But that was a fleeting misconception.

Steven Finn bowled especially well, rewarded only with the wicket of debutant Faf du Plessis – stuck on the crease lbw.

Jade Dernbach had already had opener Richard Levi well-caught high at slip by Swann, and home hopes were truly raised when De Villiers edged the same bowler behind as he tried to force off-side runs off the back foot.

But Kallis, back after his sabbatical during the drawn 50-over series, was still standing in England's way.

He and JP Duminy duly shared an unbroken stand of 90, a record for the fourth wicket by any team against England in this sprint format.

South Africa did not quite complete the task with the conspicuous ease they had in the midlands. But once again, England's faulty batting had given them the freedom to play without risk.

Broad and Swann, in particular, bowled economically. But wickets were the required currency to make a game of it – and despite Finn's early recall, they never came.