Tag Archives: haters

Alastair Cook and Nick Compton dig in to give England slim fighting chance

Cook and Compton dig in to show England's spirit after first innings collapse

|

UPDATED:

11:32 GMT, 17 November 2012

At tea-time today we awaited a dog’s dinner. Instead we got a curate’s egg. As Alastair Cook and Nick Compton calmly began the follow-on with an unbroken stand of 111, the sheer incompetence of England’s first-innings 191 felt all the more bizarre.

Execrable in the morning, they were excellent in the evening. It will probably be too late to save this game, for England still trail by 219. But the way Cook and Compton knuckled down at least prevented this first Test from turning into the kind of one-way traffic that can rob a series of its tension.

Yet while England were slipping to 97 for 7 before lunch today in reply to India’s 521 for 8, that was precisely the scenario feared by everyone bar the most hard-core Indian fans and the usual cluster of England-haters. It wasn’t a game of cricket so much as a bloodsport.

Composed: Alastair Cook made a half century in England's second innings

Composed: Alastair Cook made a half century in England's second innings

PICTURE DISPUTE:

We are unable to carry live pictures from the First Test in Ahmedabad due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations. The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies. MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

And despite the calm that descended late in the day, there will be undoubtedly be more of it to come. That, at least, seemed to be the only sensible conclusion.

Kevin Pietersen did his best to disrupt the Indian spinners’ lengths by using his feet, but his approach felt haphazard. And with the men round the bat going nowhere in a hurry, it never seemed likely to shift them into the outfield, which would have opened up the gaps Pietersen craved.

Most disconcertingly of all was the curtain-rail shot that brought about his demise, reminiscent as it was of the worst of his travails against left-arm spin two years ago. Still, at least his dismissal silenced those who saw his return as a guarantee of English success. Cricket always has been a team game.

Making his mark: Nick Compton looked more comfortable in the second innings

Making his mark: Nick Compton looked more comfortable in the second innings

Ian Bell had what can only be described as a complete shocker. England were gently mocked by the Haryana off-spinner Jayant Yadav for leaving their crease a little too indiscriminately during the four-day practice match. It betrayed uncertainty, he felt. Unerringly, Bell proved his point by lifting his first ball straight to deepish mid-off.

It may have been the most witless moment of his career. Since he is missing the Mumbai Test to attend the birth of his child, the second innings here has suddenly assumed crucial proportions.

Matt Prior, as industrious a player of spin in this team, showed what was possible between lunch and tea, only to be forced into a big shot by a lack of partners. And the adhesiveness of the lower order put their top-order colleagues to shame.

With two days to go, England are still hot favourites to lose this game. But they must build on the platform set by Cook and Compton. Their earlier ineptitude has left them with no choice.

Audley Harrison will fight on after David Price defeat

One more shot at glory! Deluded Harrison will fight on after embarrassing Price defeat

|

UPDATED:

11:38 GMT, 25 October 2012

Audley Harrison has announced his intention to carry on boxing.

The 40-year-old, who won Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000, lasted just 82 seconds against British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion David Price in a humiliating defeat on October 13.

And afterwards he admitted he would give serious consideration to hanging up his gloves.

Message from above: Harrison will return to the ring

Message from above: Harrison will return to the ring

But he has now opted to fight on, saying on Twitter: 'It's official… I've decided to carry on. One more shot at glory. 'It could be over; next fight will tell me. See u in a ring real soon.

'A decision has come from above. He told me son “lace up your gloves” your time as a boxer is not quite done, so go out there & have some fun.

'Despite the haters …I've had a good journey, truly am grateful for my blessing & give all praise to jah, god, universe. Rolling the dice!'

Paying the price: Harrison was sent to the canvas after just 82 seconds

Paying the price: Harrison was sent to the canvas after just 82 seconds

While Price was magnificent, the loss appeared certain to end the career of Harrison, who has become a figure of ridicule in boxing.

Writing in his boxing column earlier this month, Sportsmail's Jeff Powell had urged Harrison to call it a day.

'Audley Harrison, in a statement which gives full credit to David Price for Saturday’s knock out, says he is still thinking about whether to retire,' Powell said.

'For your own sake – at coming up 41 and coming out of hospital – don’t think about it for too long, Audley.'

John Terry and Anton Ferdinand should not play in Cup tie

Terry and Ferdinand should take a rest from the Cup… for the good of the game

When Mark Hughes was asked whether he would have any concerns about playing Anton Ferdinand against Chelsea in the FA Cup, the QPR manager said 'no'.

If a similar question is put to his counterpart at Stamford Bridge, Andre-Villas Boas, this week, you can be sure the reply will be the same.

But it would be for the greater good if both Terry and Ferdinand missed the match on 28 January, to take the spark away from a highly flammable situation.

Coming together: John Terry and Anton Ferdinand are set to face each other again in the FA Cup

Coming together: John Terry and Anton Ferdinand are set to face each other again in the FA Cup

Both clubs could make early announcements that the pair will not play and bring a little calm to the build-up.

More from Leo Spall…

Leo's London: What goes around, comes around, Warnock
11/01/12

Leo's London: Henry can show Arsenal the route to success
04/01/12

Leo's London: Van Persie proved us wrong but whether he'll be an Arsenal icon… time will tell
28/12/11

Leo's London: Replacing Redknapp won't be as easy as Tottenham fans think
21/12/11

Leo's London: To be Frank, competition for places is good… unless my place is under threat
14/12/11

Leo's London: You're not safe yet AVB, you still have to face Manchester City
07/12/11

Leo's London: Silence the Twitter haters and let targeted stars move on
30/11/11

Leo's London: Spurs aiming to be kings of the capital – but it could be a short reign
23/11/11

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Would it be a sign of weakness from the game and a blow to the idea of true competition, suggesting it is not robust enough to withstand this unwanted situation Possibly.

But it would be an equitable, grown-up solution to the real possibility of more problems that the sport could without.

The match comes four days before a scheduled court date in which the England captain faces a charge, which he denies, of committing a racially aggravated public order offence by abusing Ferdinand.

So, a face-off between the pair on the pitch is the last thing that is wanted by anyone who has the good of the game at heart.

If they play, the atmosphere at Loftus Road on 28 January will be febrile. Tribal loyalties are bound to be on show in unthinking, if not abusive, ways.

There will be intense scrutiny of everyone at the ground and Terry and Ferdinand will have to deal with almost intolerable pressure.

It could be a busy day for the referee, the police and the cameramen and we would be left to hope that the image of the game does not take another beating.

Chelsea boy: John Terry

Rangers man: Anton Ferdinand

Give them a rest: Terry and Ferdinand should not play in the Cup game

After Luis Suarez left a stain on football with his racist behaviour and Liverpool made matters worse with their handling of the disciplinary action against him, it really could do without another damaging incident. Yet, even before Terry has a chance to clear his name, some of the worst elements of the game will be the inescapable talking points.

The Cup game will provide a forum for discussion (not to mention a potential platform for the ignorant) but the looming court case prevents any significant conclusions.

Terry insists he is innocent and so will see no reason to back out. He sees it as important, too, that he faces up to his detractors and the pressure, no matter how great.

Ferdinand, having been brave enough to pursue an allegation of racism, will also be reticent to withdraw in case it is seen as a sign of weakness.

But if they and their clubs could see the wider picture – admittedly, not the forte of most in the game – it would be a victory for common sense.

Harry has neutrals on side

There has been talk recently of Tottenham being the neutrals’ favourite for the title.

Quite how that is measured is unclear, but a case can certainly be made for backing them to make things interesting.

Manager Harry Redknapp’s accessible, common sense approach, their nice passing play and a spattering of British talent would all be factors.

There seems to be an element of nostalgia too, an attraction to the idea that a club who were last genuine contenders more than 50 years ago are enjoying a revival.

In the race: Harry Redknapp and Tottenham have mounted a credible title challenge

In the race: Harry Redknapp and Tottenham have mounted a credible title challenge

The idea that other clubs have bought their title shot while Spurs have earned theirs while operating on a shoestring budget is rubbish, of course.

But they bring a fresh face to the race and, along with City’s push for success, have shaken up the old order.

And that, rather than the difficult-to-prove idea that they are riding a wave of neutral goodwill, is what is most important.

Torres must show his class before it's too late

It must be now or never for Fernando Torres at Chelsea as the idea of the striker leaving gathers pace.

Time to shine: Fernando Torres has to show his class before it is too late for him at Chelsea

Time to shine: Fernando Torres has to show his class before it is too late for him at Chelsea

His display against Sunderland suggested a little form may be returning (he would have completely fluffed the volley that led to Frank Lampard’s goal a few weeks ago) and with Didier Drogba away at the African Cup of Nations, Torres has to take advantage.

This is a golden opportunity for the Spaniard, the like of which he may not see again at Stamford Bridge as patience wears thin.

Hammers give fans a good deal

Leaflets have been dropping on doormats in south London offering fans the chance to buy substantially discounted tickets to Championship games on the other side of the River Thames at West Ham.

But the matches on offer are not the usual duds – there is a London derby against Crystal Palace and a clash with promotion rivals Middlesbrough among them.

Good deal: West Ham have a number of ticket deals for fans

Good deal: West Ham have a number of ticket deals for fans

West Ham are not adopting a unique marketing ploy by fishing for fans in territories traditionally associated with rivals but it is not a great sign for a club hoping to move to and fill a much larger arena: the Olympic Stadium.

Thierry Henry can show Arsenal the route to success

Former talisman Henry can show Arsenal route to success

Arsenal, with a striker shortage looming and inspiration sources in short supply, desperately need Thierry Henry back.

But his presence is required not just to alleviate the pressure on Robin van Persie and bring the stardust which might help provide a feel good factor and, in turn, more momentum.

Good times: Thierry Henry with Arsene Wenger (right) after joining from Juventus in 1999

Good times: Thierry Henry with Arsene Wenger (right) after joining from Juventus in 1999

As much as that, Arsenal need their former talisman to complete his loan switch from New York Red Bulls to remind them of the path they have to rediscover.

The route that would persuade the doubters that Arsene Wenger retains his magic touch and satisfy the money men who hold the club's purse strings so tightly.

More from Leo Spall…

Leo's London: Van Persie proved us wrong but whether he'll be an Arsenal icon… time will tell
28/12/11

Leo's London: Replacing Redknapp won't be as easy as Tottenham fans think
21/12/11

Leo's London: To be Frank, competition for places is good… unless my place is under threat
14/12/11

Leo's London: You're not safe yet AVB, you still have to face Manchester City
07/12/11

Leo's London: Silence the Twitter haters and let targeted stars move on
30/11/11

Leo's London: Spurs aiming to be kings of the capital – but it could be a short reign
23/11/11

Leo's London: Chelsea's arrogance could be their downfall
09/11/11

Leo's London: FA and police must deliver swift verdicts on Suarez and Terry
02/11/11

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

You know the one – it involves the manager taking a good player for a reasonable fee and turning him into superstar who transforms the team.

When Henry first signed for Arsenal, in 1999, he was a 22-year-old wide player struggling at Juventus who cost close to 11million.

Wenger taught him how to play as a striker in the Premier League and Henry's subsequent contribution to the club cannot be underestimated.

His impact on the manager's reputation should not be undervalued either. That signing, more than any other, showed that Wenger knows best in the transfer market. It was probably a once-in-a-career moment and there have been plenty of deals since which have not turned out nearly as well.

But such is the strategy of Arsenal now, they need something close to a repeat soon to stay as contenders over the coming seasons.

Their recent spending – and it cannot be just down to Wenger – suggests their target of staying in the top four and aiming higher will have to be done with a fraction of the fees budget of their rivals.

There is young talent coming through in the impressive Aaron Ramsey; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain already has a growing army of fans, too, even before establishing himself in the team.

However, Arsenal need results now and they cannot wait for the next Theo Walcott to find consistency at the top level.

They have done well to be patient with Walcott's development as it is and the fact that they need to return to Henry now is proof that they have lost their way.

Loan deals from the MLS, discounting the special commercial case of David Beckham, are the sort that Everton indulge in, that Aston Villa are showing interest in.

Generally speaking, the biggest clubs, the title contenders, look to loan players out in January rather than take them in apart from in unforseen emergencies.

Arsenal knew the African Cup of Nations was coming, that Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh would be off but they had no cover. Wenger has expressed fears that the competition will exhaust them, too.

Yet the pair's contribution while they have been around this term, in goals at least (five combined in the Premier League), suggests Arsenal are short in that area anyway.

So, Arsenal need Henry back alright even though he is not match fit yet and a couple of yards slower than at his peak.

But his return, at best, will only provide a sticking plaster over a transfer problem that, as things stand, requires a magic touch to solve.

Frank Lampard

Shirty: Frank Lampard

No lip service from Ramires

After Chelsea beat Wolves this week all the talk was about Frank Lampard and the internal politics at the club, which remain as spiky as ever.

The midfielder thought he had proved a point by scoring the winner and, afterwards, was carping about not playing regularly enough, yet again.

His goal proved, equally well, that Andre Villas-Boas' treatment of Lampard is producing fine results from the England man but that didn't seem to occur to him. The sideshow, apart from ensuring more tension at Chelsea, helped to overshadow the contribution of the team's other goalscorer in the game: Ramires.

The Brazilian has adapted impressively since joining the club in 2010 and his contribution deserves praise, too.

Ramires is well known for his running and hard work but his goal against Wolves was his fourth in the Premier League this season (Lampard has eight), meaning Chelsea are not limited to just one goalscoring midfielder. Not that anyone would know it.

On the up: Martin Jol

On the up: Martin Jol

Jol on way up at Fulham

Fulham meet Charlton in the FA Cup on Saturday, a club whom they used to want to copy.

After Mohamed Fayed dropped the idea of his club becoming the Manchester United of the South, he wanted them to become the Charlton of the south west (of London).

The sensible spending of the club from The Valley turned out to be not quite so sensible, however, and their fall through the divisions has been painful.

So as the impressive Chris Powell takes a step back into the limelight with his resurgent League One Charlton team, who do Fulham, still known for their relatively recent Europa League run, want to be now They are not quite Everton-like (great history, no money) or West Bromwich Albion (a sensibly run yo-yo team) and the direction they are headed in remains unclear.

If Martin Jol is allowed the time and resources to reshape their squad Fulham can be an upwardly mobile mid-table side once again with an eye on cup success. They just have to create their own identity this time.

Leo"s London: Frank Lampard misreads competition rules

To be Frank, competition for places is good… unless my place is under threat

Top players for England and the biggest clubs frequently trot out the platitudes about the benefits of competition for places and how no-one feels their position in the team is safe.

Then one of them gets dropped and there is all hell to play.

Frank Lampard, to his credit, has acted professionally after falling out of the starting line-up at Chelsea. But he is clearly still irked that he could be left on the bench and let everyone know it as he said he didn’t know why he had been dropped after scoring against Manchester City on Monday night.

Benched: Frank Lampard has slipped down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge

Benched: Frank Lampard has slipped down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge

Did he not see Raul Meireles’ goal against City What about the ground the Portuguese covered as he and the excellent Ramires eventually put their team on the front foot

Oriol Romeu was great in midfield, too, and further forward there can be no arguments that Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge have not earned their places in the side.

Lampard himself said in September that Chelsea have ‘got a big enough squad, you have to respect the squad, respect the players that play when you don’t.’

More from Leo Spall…

Leo”s London: You”re not safe yet AVB, you still have to face Manchester City
07/12/11

Leo”s London: Silence the Twitter haters and let targeted stars move on
30/11/11

Leo”s London: Spurs aiming to be kings of the capital – but it could be a short reign
23/11/11

Leo”s London: Chelsea”s arrogance could be their downfall
09/11/11

Leo”s London: FA and police must deliver swift verdicts on Suarez and Terry
02/11/11

Leo”s London: Wise up, Terry! Fans are watching your every move
26/10/11

Leo”s London: Don”t encourage Barton to guide us through football”s moral maze
19/10/11

Leo”s London: Parker”s play may not be pretty but Spurs star is best buy of the season
12/10/11

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

He added that when players get a chance in the team they have to show they should stay there with the way they play. There was no rider about applying pressure through the media.

Lampard is still an excellent player who will continue to make a useful contribution at Chelsea this season, as he did with his penalty conversion.

But no-one should be fooled into thinking he was the only Chelsea player who could have scored that spot-kick, nor should they forget that they also pulled off a significant win against Valencia without him.

It”s a squad game and Villas-Boas’ side have shown they manage quite nicely without the 33-year-old Lampard.

The midfielder has serious competition from Meireles and others and had better get used to it. Competition for places is good, remember Frank.

Robin reliant

What price Robin van Persie Every goal he scores, every match-winning performance he produces his value rises.

The Arsenal striker must be worth a minimum of 35million right now and the fact that he could become available next summer, that his contract is heading towards its final year, will come into sharp focus on Sunday.

Van Persie and co face Manchester City, the team who have indicated they would like to buy him – and could easily afford him. City are also the team to beat in the Premier League, the side against whom others are measuring themselves.

Top Gunner: Arsenal once again had Robin van Persie to thank for the winning goal

Top Gunner: Arsenal once again had Robin van Persie to thank for the winning goal

So Arsenal have at least one point to prove. This game will be a test of their revival and a chance to show to they are a force to be reckoned with.

Arsene Wenger, who has made the usual noises about maybe, possibly signing somebody in January, needs to do more than make hints in the window. His talk about injuries having a bearing needs to be forgotten.

This intelligent manager, who endured a difficult summer in the transfer market, really has little choice.

Arsenal lose Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh to the African Cup of Nations in January and are already overly reliant on the goals of Van Persie.

The club’s transfer policy for this season has changed as a result of the way the summer turned and if they are serious about keeping Van Persie, about continuing as contenders, they need to act.

Juggling act: Harry Redknapp is favourite to be the new England manager after Euro 2012

Juggling act: Harry Redknapp is favourite to be the new England manager after Euro 2012

Levy Spurs on Redknapp exit

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said all that could be expected of him at his club’s AGM when he addressed the potential problem of manager Harry Redknapp leaving them for England.

But if Levy sincerely wanted to dampen speculation, he succeeded only in doing the opposite.

‘As far as Harry is concerned, he is very happy here and that he doesn’t particularly want to consider England at the present time,’ said Levy. ‘We will worry about that situation if it arises in the summer.’

So, to recap. Redknapp doesn’t particularly want to consider it (but wouldn’t take much convincing) and Spurs will worry about it in the summer (by which time the manager’s position with regard to England will be abundantly clear). The shareholders must have felt very reassured.

Giving “the point” the finger

Neil Warnock, not for the first time, has missed the point.

In defending Liverpool striker Luis Suarez’s one-fingered gesture at Fulham fans last week he seemed to completely forget that he, his QPR squad and all their counterparts in the Premier League are supposed to be professionals.

Warnock claimed players should not be held to a higher standard, ignoring their high profiles and the fact that most have clauses in their contracts stipulating they will not bring the club or the game into disrepute.

If you follow his argument through there would be a lowering of expectations of players as well as fans, leading to lower standards.

Suarez may not have liked the fans’ chants about him (cheat was the gist) but he has a responsibility not to react the way he did.

Better times: Luis Suarez put recent bad headlines behind him against QPR

Better times: Luis Suarez put recent bad headlines behind him against QPR

That is why the FA have charged him with improper conduct. He does not have a ‘normal’ job because he is watched by tens of thousands of people most weeks.

That number goes up to millions when games are shown live on TV, as the Fulham match was, and all the players have a duty to control their reactions.

Incitement of fans at stadiums is just one, albeit perhaps the most significant, element to consider. Players will not always manage to stay in control and of course abusive fans should be reprimanded, too.

Yet it is not that easy. Ask Chelsea, who tried and failed to identify supporters who chanted racist abuse about Anton Ferdinand.

Hammered

Talking of players not controlling themselves, how about Jack Collison.

The way the West Ham midfielder angrily lashed out at Reading’s Jimmy Kebe for some ill-judged showboating at the weekend was more reminiscent of amateur Sunday league football than the Championship.

If it hadn’t been quite so irresponsible and potentially dangerous in terms of injury, it would have been funny.