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Michel Platini: A summer World Cup in Qatar is not possible… it has to be staged during the winter

Platini: A summer World Cup in Qatar is
not possible… it HAS to be staged during
the winter

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

19:03 GMT, 20 March 2013

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UPDATED:

19:04 GMT, 20 March 2013

UEFA president Michel Platini has once again stressed his belief that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar must be held during the winter.

Platini echoed comments made by Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce yesterday that the searing heat in the Asian country will make playing football unbearable.

'In the summer, at 50 degrees, you can not possibly play football in Qatar,' Platini said in an interview with Germany's leading sports magazine Kicker.

Unconvinced: Michel Platini believes the 2022 World Cup cannot be played during the summer

Unconvinced: Michel Platini believes the 2022 World Cup cannot be played during the summer

This is not the first time the former France midfielder has stated his opposition to holding the Qatar tournament in the summer and he is supportive of a winter break for domestic championships.

Platini also responded to FIFA president Sepp Blatter's comments that the decision to stage Euro 2020 across the continent would rip the 'heart and soul' out of the tournament.

European football's governing body announced in December that it had taken the unprecedented step of hosting the event in several cities throughout Europe.

And Platini defended the decision, saying: 'The name European fits better than ever, as the Euros will be held for the first time in Europe.'

'Heart and soul': FIFA chief Sepp Blatter doesn't agree with Platini's plans for the Euros

'Heart and soul': FIFA chief Sepp Blatter doesn't agree with Platini's plans for the Euros

Sepp Blatter blasts UEFA on Euro 2020 that will lack "heart and soul"

Euro 2020 will lack heart and soul… we may as well not call it the Euros! Blatter blasts Platini over plan to host finals in 13 different countries

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

11:41 GMT, 14 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:52 GMT, 14 March 2013

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has denounced Michel Platini’s plans to stage the 2020 European Championship across the entire continent and called on UEFA to change the name of the tournament.

Euro 2020 will be held in 13 cities across the continent with the semi-finals and final being played in the same stadium, UEFA announced in January.

But Blatter isn’t impressed with the plans and believes one host country is the best way to deliver
the event.

Wrong: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticised Michel Platini's plans to use more than one country for the 2020 European Championship

Wrong: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticised Michel Platini's plans to use more than one country for the 2020 European Championship

Euro 2020 details so far

12 cities will host three group stage matches and one knockout round

One stadium will host the semi-finals and final

There will only be one venue per country

In the frame to host the final are Wembley, the Olympic Stadium in Istanbul and the Allianz Arena

He told Kicker magazine: ‘A tournament should be played in one country. That is how you create identity and euphoria.

‘They have fragmented the 2020 tournament. So it is not a European Championship any more. It has to have a different name.’

‘I do not know what name. Such a Euro lacks heart and soul.’

UEFA said that 12 cities would be
awarded a package of three group games plus one knockout-stage game,
either from the round-of-16 or quarter-finals.

A
special 13th package would be awarded, consisting of the two
semi-finals and final with UEFA eager to split the costs for the bigger
tournament and celebrate its 60th anniversary across Europe.

The Swiss sports administrator also said
he planned to end his stint at the top of the world soccer’s governing
body in 2015 if FIFA was strong and stable.

Coming home: Wembley is one of the favourites to host the final after the FA said they would bid

Coming home: Wembley is one of the favourites to host the final after the FA said they would bid

First class: The Allianz Arena in Munich hosted the Champions League final last season

First class: The Allianz Arena in Munich hosted the Champions League final last season

Close contest: The Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul is also thought to be in with a chance

Close contest: The Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul is also thought to be in with a chance

Blatter, who took over the FIFA presidency in 1998, added: ‘I want to push through the FIFA reforms at our congress in Mauritius in May, then we go to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014 and after that everything is open.

‘When it is secured that FIFA will
continue to be led like that, that it will remain global and the pyramid
will not collapse then I will gladly hand over the sceptre to a new
president.'

UEFA chief Michel Platini is seen as a possible successor to Blatter.

‘I do not know if he wants to,’ said Blatter. ‘He has an idea about the future of FIFA which he has to explain to the continents at some point. But he has not decided yet.’

On the rocks: Blatter and Michel Platini have usually had an amicable relationship

On the rocks: Blatter and Michel Platini have usually had an amicable relationship

Rory McIlroy admits he was wrong to storm off at Honda Classic

It was the wrong thing to do, admits McIlroy after storming off at Honda Classic

By
Derek Lawrenson

PUBLISHED:

00:48 GMT, 5 March 2013

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UPDATED:

01:16 GMT, 5 March 2013

Rory McIlroy had barely made it back to his new home ten miles away on Jupiter Island on that fateful Friday last week when he knew he had done the wrong thing.

As Jack Nicklaus so wisely opined, if only he had thought for five minutes, he wouldn't have done it.

In an interview with American magazine Sports Illustrated last night, McIlroy held up his hand and admitted it was a terrible mistake to walk off the course after eight completed holes of his second round at the Honda Classic.

Backtracking: Rory McIlroy is now saying he was wrong to walk off

Backtracking: Rory McIlroy is now saying he was wrong to walk off

Whatever has been said in the aftermath
during the storm that has become McIl-gate, 'I have probably said to
myself,' he commented.

'It was the wrong thing to do,' added
McIlroy, and with those seven words he did what he's always done on the
few occasions he has made mistakes, and taken full responsibility for
his actions.

World No 1: But the defending champion insisted he wasn't in the right frame of mind to play on

World No 1: But the defending champion insisted he wasn't in the right frame of mind to play on

'It was a reactive decision. What I
should have done is take my drop, chip it on, try to make a five and
play my hardest on the back nine, even if I shot 85,' he said.

'What I
did was not good for the tournament, and not good for the kids and fans
who were watching me.' Mcilroy said at the time he was 'not in a good
place mentally,' and then a statement was issued on his behalf an hour
later blaming a sore wisdom tooth.

Concerning: There had been no signs that McIlroy was about to withdraw

Concerning: There had been no signs that McIlroy was about to withdraw

The latter is an ongoing problem –
his Belfast dentist Mark Conroy has faxed a letter to the PGA Tour
describing the problem – but McIlroy admitted it can be treated with
painkillers and did not constitute the sort of injury that would be a
mitigating reason for walking in.

This, after all, is the man who played
on with a badly strained tendon in his wrist after damaging it while
playing from off a tree root at the 2011 USPGA Championship.

McIlroy will learn from this, like he
always does. He will learn that it is always best to come clean, and not
seek to pull the wool over people's eyes. Here's betting he never walks
off a course again.

Miserable: The Northern Irishman did not appear to be enjoying himself

Miserable: The Northern Irishman did not appear to be enjoying himself

McIlroy breaks four-day Twitter silence

For every complex problem, there is a simple solution. #FTB

Now it's time to work on those damn
swing issues that are far more infuriating than a bad tooth.

McIlroy admitted to suffering teething problems since his switch from Mike. 'The driver and the ball took some time to get used to, but I had weeks at Nike before the start of the year, and I feel comfortable with all the equipment,' he said. 'The problem is, I’m bringing the club too upright on the backswing then dropping it in too much on the downswing.'

The next
time he will be seen in public is tomorrow at Doral and the WGC-Cadillac
Championship.

Caught in the act McIlroy had been pictured eating a sandwich, despite later claiming a tooth ache

Caught in the act McIlroy had been pictured eating a sandwich, despite later claiming a tooth ache

Regret: He has since withdrawn that as an excuse

Regret: He has since withdrawn that as an excuse

Luca di Montezemolo: I"d want Sebastian Vettel not Lewis Hamilton to replace Fernando Alonso at Ferrari

Forget Hamilton, I'd want Vettel to replace Alonso at Ferrari, claims Di Montezemolo

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UPDATED:

18:40 GMT, 20 December 2012

Lewis Hamilton is lagging behind Sebastian Vettel on Ferrari's wishlist of a potential replacements for current team leader Fernando Alonso.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo revealed he is a greater admirer of Vettel's talents than those of Hamilton when asked who he would like to take over when Alonso decides to call it a day.

'If, tomorrow, Fernando would withdraw for any reason – let's say he moves to Hawaii with his girlfriend – then I would want Vettel,' said the Ferrari president to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

Moving on: Hamilton will race for Mercedes next season

Moving on: Hamilton will race for Mercedes next season

'He is young, he has his feet on the floor, and he has an indomitable will to win. Michael Schumacher made me aware of him years ago because he knew him from his karting years. I must say, Michael was right.'

Seemingly ruling our Hamilton's chances of driving for Ferrari, di Montezemolo claimed his decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes counts against him.

Asked why he preferred Vettel to Hamilton, di Montezemolo replied: 'Because he (Vettel) is younger, and because Ferrari would be Hamilton's third team. And if you've reached your third team, your career is already in its second half.'

Even hints by Vettel that Ferrari had used 'dirty tricks' to try and derail his pursuit of a third successive world title do not seem to have dented his chances of a move to Maranello.

Hat-trick: Vettel claimed his third world title this season

Hat-trick: Vettel claimed his third world title this season

'In the heat of battle you can always say something emotional,' said Di Montezemolo.

Given the increasingly fierce rivalry between Vettel and Alonso there seems little prospect of the pair sharing a garage at Ferrari until the Spaniard decides to call it a day.

And Di Montezemolo insisted he would be only too delighted if Alonso opts to see out the remaining three years of his contract with Ferrari.

He added: 'I'm incredibly happy with him. He is more than just a driver.'

Long-term contract: Alonso still has three years to run on his Ferrari deal

Long-term contract: Alonso still has three years to run on his Ferrari deal

With Hamilton having already admitted he is unlikely to be in the title frame next season as he strives to turn Mercedes into frontrunners, the drivers' championship has all the hallmarks of being another titanic battle between Vettel and Alonso.

However, Jenson Button will hopeful of forcing his way into the title picture if McLaren can find the required reliability to go with the speed advantage they enjoyed last season.

McLaren's 2013 challenger, the Mercedes-powered MP4-28, will break cover on January 31 at a launch ceremony in the UK.

Ronaldo fed up of being compared to Lionel Messi

Ronaldo fed up with being compared to Messi as battle for Balon d'Or heats up

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UPDATED:

13:59 GMT, 6 November 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo admits he is growing tired of comparisons with Lionel Messi and believes the race for the Balon d'Or is wide open.

The La Liga pair, whose feats for Real Madrid and Barcelona continue to wow the football world, are widely considered to be in a head-to-head battle for the prestigious award.

Both are on a 23-man shortlist compiled by FIFA's football committee and experts from France Football magazine.

A little less conversation: Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) talks to Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho

A little less conversation: Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) talks to Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho

Messi mania: Barcelona superstar arrives at their team hotel in Glasgow ahead of Wednesday's clash against Celtic

Messi mania: Barcelona superstar arrives at their team hotel in Glasgow ahead of Wednesday's clash against Celtic

When asked who he expected to win the award, Ronaldo played down the supposed rivalry with Messi and suggested there were plenty of potential recipients.

'(The rivalry) is a question of the media,' he told France Football.

'We constantly face it to sell more papers and improve television audiences.

'The truth is I'm a little tired of it. It's a little heavy but I'm used to it. I don't like to compare myself with others.

A little less conversation: Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) talks to Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho

A little less conversation: Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) talks to Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho

Fierce rival: Barcelona's Lionel Messi (left) is also in contention for the Balon d'Or

Fierce rival: Barcelona's Lionel Messi (left) is also in contention for the Balon d'Or

'Messi and I are different, that's for sure.

'I respect him a lot.

'Messi can win (the Balon d'Or) but so can Xavi or Iniesta. And we cannot forget (Didier) Drogba or Falcao. They can also receive the trophy.'

The award, which is voted for by international managers and captains, as well as selected journalists, will be cut to a shortlist of three before a winner is named on January 7.

Trophy laden: Messi with the the European Golden Boot 2012 award

Trophy laden: Messi with the the European Golden Boot 2012 award

Mario Balotelli Time Magazine interview says racists will never change

Stupid racists will never change, says Balotelli in Time Magazine interview

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UPDATED:

16:46 GMT, 2 November 2012

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli believes that nothing can be done to change the ways of racist people because they are inherently stupid.

In an interview with America's iconic Time Magazine the Italian international born to Ghanaian parents spoke frankly about the racist abuse he has suffered during his football career.

The 22-year-old was on the receiving end of racist chants while playing for Inter Milan in Italy and he believes the problem is far worse in his homeland than in England.

Cover star: Balotelli spoke to Time Magazine about racism among other things

Cover star: Balotelli spoke to Time Magazine about racism among other things

'Racist people are few and you can do nothing against [to change] them,' said Balotelli.

'You can talk, you can do what you want, but you can't do anything because they are just stupid people.

'When I wasn't famous, I had a lot of friends, almost all of them Italian,' he says. 'The racism only started when I started to play football.

Training day: City face West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday evening

Training day: City face West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday evening

'But me, personally, I hope I can help Italy to be a modern country like England or America.'

Balotelli also discussed his admiration of US President Barack Obama, revealing: 'I was really happy to see a black man be the chief [commander-in-chief]. I would like to meet him.'

Fang-tastic: Balotelli with Man City captain Vincent Kompany on Friday

Fang-tastic: Balotelli with Man City captain Vincent Kompany on Friday

Balotelli has endured a rocky relationship with City manager Roberto Mancini at times, but he told Time that he sees his countryman as a father figure.

'My relationship with Mancini is really important,' added Balotelli. 'He's known me since I was young and he's like a father to me. 'I used to play with the young children at Inter Milan, so I know him very well and I can tell him anything.'

Test Match Special row: Jonathan Agnew hits out as The Cricketer defends Test Match Sofa

Sofa wars: Editor of The Cricketer defends Test Match Sofa in row with BBC's Test Match Special
We're no parasites and no threat, Test Match Sofa hits back at BBC
Andrew Miller left baffled by hostility from BeebTMS anchor Agnew responds by threatening never to read magazine againEngland T20 captain Broad supports Agnew in row

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UPDATED:

13:04 GMT, 1 November 2012

Test Match Sofa, the alternative cricket commentary which operates from central London not from Test venues, has this week been described as a 'parasite' that needs to be 'nailed' and 'swept offline'. Here ANDREW MILLER, the editor of The Cricketer magazine, who owns TestMatchSofa.com, hits back at those allegations…

Earlier this year, one of the oldest voices in cricket took a leap of faith and jumped into bed with one of the newest.

The Cricketer magazine, established in 1921 by Pelham Warner, saw in Test Match Sofa, an irreverent online cricket commentary service established in Tooting in 2009 by Daniel Norcross, a spark of innovative potential that it simply could not afford to pass up.

The tie-up was never going to be to everyone’s taste, but like two inter-joining circles on a Venn diagram, that was never really the point. In a print media market that seems to be shrinking as quickly as broadband speeds are rising, innovation is vital if you want to stay afloat.

Alastair Cook (second, left) takes evasive action from a shot by Ajinkya Rahane of India 'A' during the final day of England's first warm-up match

England expects: Alastair Cook (second, left) takes evasive action from a shot by Ajinkya Rahane of India 'A' during the final day of England's first warm-up match

WHAT IS TEST MATCH SOFA

test match sofa logo

Test
Match Sofa is an online broadcaster providing cricket ball-by-ball commentary for
all England test matches and selected One Day Internationals.

The
station is available worldwide serving as alternative commentary to
the BBC's Test Match Special which is only available in the UK.

The station began broadcasting from
the Tooting Bec home of one of the station's creators, Daniel
Norcross, but moved to a rented house in Nunhead, also in South
London, in August 2010. In January 2011, Test Match Sofa moved to an
undisclosed location, believed to be somewhere in central London.

Listeners interact with the show's commentators through
Twitter, with this interaction often influencing the agenda.

Follow Test Match Sofa on Twitter @TestMatchSofa

The Cricketer saw in Test Match Sofa a
cult following of young, technologically savvy cricket fans – a
demographic that it might not have attracted by any other means. In
return the Sofa was offered shelter and status, and a chance for that
seed of a concept to germinate. At a stroke, each had doubled their
potential audience, and shored up the other’s foundations. It was, and
remains, a win-win scenario.

We
expected resistance to our venture, and it duly arrived – though not
from the quarters we had imagined. The ECB, recognising that we were not
breaching any rights, ceased correspondence on the subject back in May,
ahead of England’s Test series against West Indies. Test Match Special,
on the other hand, have taken the Sofa’s existence as a personal slight
– culminating in a declaration on Wednesday that it needed to be
'nailed' and 'swept offline'.

We're flattered by TMS’s attention, but baffled by their hostility. At what point in that magnificent programme's evolution did the promotion of cricket become a zero-sum game To complain, as they do, that Test Match Sofa is a 'parasite' that pays nothing for rights and gives nothing in return is a sad parody of the public access position the BBC once held dear.

After a summer in which rain, the Olympics and the Tour de France combined to squeeze cricket to the margins of public interest, surely the game needs as many people as possible to make as much noise on its behalf as is feasible. Anyone who believes otherwise might also argue against letting schoolkids enter for free on the fifth day of a Test.

The Sofa does not profess to fill the void by any means, but it provides a start. Through the use of Twitter (@testmatchsofa), every listener is offered a voice that, as often as not, will help dictate the narrative of the day’s play. In so doing, we aim to cement the enjoyment of a new breed of cricket listener – ones who, like those who will doubtless enter their blog comments below – want a conversation with their commentators, not a lecture.

Different audience: The Test Match Sofa crew pose up

Different audience: The Test Match Sofa crew pose up

Surely, if any BBC institution could still be relied upon to uphold the company's Reithian principles it should be TMS, the voice of cricket for more than half a century and, let's be frank about this, the very reason why Norcross and his colleagues were inspired to establish the Sofa in the first place.

Without exception, the Sofa team venerates TMS. Every one of the enthusiastic amateurs who give up their own time to watch cricket in a windowless studio do so because their youths were misspent with radios under their pillows and Wisdens in their stockings.

Front row, from left, Henry Blofeld, Jonathan Agnew and scorer Bill Frindall. Back row from left, producer Peter Baxter, assistant producer Shilpa Patel, Vic Marks, Mike Selvey, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Colin Croft and Tony Cozier

Window to the world: Members of the BBC Radio Test Match Special team in the commentary box at Lord's with the window cut out on the far right. Front row, from left, Henry Blofeld, Jonathan Agnew and scorer Bill Frindall. Back row from left, producer Peter Baxter, assistant producer Shilpa Patel, Vic Marks, Mike Selvey, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Colin Croft and Tony Cozier

… AND WHAT IS TEST MATCH SPECIAL

Test Match Special (known as TMS) provides ball-by-ball coverage of most Test cricket, One Day International, and Twenty20 matches and tournaments involving England.

It is, rightly, considered by most cricket lovers THE place to listen to coverage of England matches.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan and former professional cricketer Jonathan Agnew commentate for BBC Test Match Special

BBC Radio was the first broadcaster to cover every ball of a Test match.

TMS is broadcast on Radio 4 long wave (198 LW). At times of cricket matches, the normal BBC Radio 4 schedule continues on its FM frequencies, while longwave is taken over by the cricket. This has sparked controversy with some Radio 4 listeners unable to change frequencies. The shipping forecast is, however, retained. TMS can also be heard via the Internet.

TMS's coverage of England's tour to India had been under threat over fees demanded by the Indian board to broadcast from the grounds.

However, TMS producer Adam Mountford revealed on Twitter on Thursday that a deal had finally been reached.

'We are pleased to confirm that Test Match Special will broadcast England's cricket tour of India from the grounds,' he said.

Follow Adam Mountford on Twitter @tmsproducer

Jonathan Agnew and Christopher
Martin-Jenkins remain two of the greatest broadcasters of any
generation. But as a homogenized TMS leans more and more on ex-pros and
multi-sports specialists to fill the vacancies that crop up in the
course of time, one wonders where the next John Arlotts and Brian
Johnstons will appear to infuse cricket commentary with the whimsy and
digressions of old I’d suggest, right now, the Sofa is the likelier of
the breeding grounds.

And yet, TMS is still the undisputed master of the airwaves. Earlier this year, the question was put to me, rhetorically, what would happen if the BBC chose to stop broadcasting from the grounds and tried to do it off the telly On account of the India access row, we might be about to find out … and I think the answer has come as a greater surprise to the BBC.

Peter Baxter, the former TMS producer, understood the value of his product (and by extension the rights that the BBC pay) when in 1999, he demanded that a special window be cut in the middle of the enormous sheet of glass covering the front of the new Lord’s media centre. Quite rightly, he wanted to be able to dangle his effects mike into the crowd to provide total aural immersion to TMS’s legions of listeners.

That sense of being there is priceless – it’s the hum of contented silence that tells you you’ve twiddled your long-wave radio to the right frequency – and it’s something that the BCCI, rarely slow to spot a changing trend, have recognised.

Radio rights per se are irrelevant in the internet age. You can no sooner stop Test Match Sofa from commenting on the action than demand silence while fans watch it in the pub. The true value lies in being able to call it from the ground. Remarkably, it has taken the Sofa’s existence to remind TMS quite how important they are.

Andrew Miller is editor of The
Cricketer magazine, who own TestMatchSofa.com

AGGERS HITS BACK AND BROAD JOINS ARGUMENT

After reading the Cricketer on Thursday, Test Match Special presenter Jonathan Agnew tweeted: 'I've never read such hypocrisy & assumed knowledge as that spouted by the once great Cricketer magazine today. I won't be reading it again.'

England's Twenty20 captain and former Sportsmail columnist Stuart Broad also weighed in to the argument, saying: 'Don't read the media Aggers… What have I told you!! Can only bring negativity to your world!'

Kevin Pietersen returns to England team against India A

One of the boys: KP mucks in as 'team player' on England return

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UPDATED:

23:43 GMT, 30 October 2012

If Kevin Pietersen was told to keep his head down as he reintegrates himself into international cricket, then he played the role to perfection in his first game for England since all hell broke loose in the summer.

When Pietersen walked out with his team-mates on Tuesday at Mumbai’s picturesque Brabourne Stadium, it was the first time in 85 days he had worn the colours of his adopted country. There may have been times when he wondered whether this day would arrive at all.

Such has been his dominance of cricket’s agenda during his period of exile that his unmitigated failure to grab the headlines here almost counted as a story in itself.

Scroll down for video

Comeback: Kevin Pietersen (right) returned for England in Mumbai on Tuesday

Comeback: Kevin Pietersen (right) returned for England in Mumbai on Tuesday

Comeback: Kevin Pietersen (right) returned for England in Mumbai on Tuesday
SCORECARD

Click here for the full scorecard from Mumbai

Pietersen held a simple catch in the gully as England’s bowlers began brightly against India A, and later — as the batsmen fought back — bowled a single over of off-spin, which cost seven and merely paved the way for Jimmy Anderson to take the second new ball. This felt symbolic. Pietersen was here to help.

In between, he chatted amicably during a drinks break with Ian Bell and Graeme Swann, and generally went about his business as if the BlackBerry texts furore had never happened — mucking in, geeing up and throwing himself around like the new boy.

That is precisely how England, with their emphasis on team unity, hope it remains.

All smiles: Pietersen looked to be enjoying his return to the side

All smiles: Pietersen looked to be enjoying his return to the side

All smiles: Pietersen looked to be enjoying his return to the side

The balance, though, will inevitably be a delicate one. In an interview with this month’s Cricketer magazine, Anderson joked about ‘there being two cliques in the England dressing room: one with 10 in, the other with one’.

And although team director Andy Flower insisted on Monday that he did not regard this tour as Pietersen’s last chance as an England player, there is little doubt he will be watched closely in the weeks ahead.

For now, the players are determined to pull together. ‘It’s pretty much business as usual,’ said Tim Bresnan, who claimed three wickets as India A closed the first day of their three-day match on 369 for nine.

‘He’s the same old Kev, with the energy in the field that he showed all day. He’s just Kev. It’s been good.

It's good to be back: Pietersen should get a chance to bat on Wednesday

It's good to be back: Pietersen should get a chance to bat on Wednesday

It's good to be back: Pietersen should get a chance to bat on Wednesday

It's good to be back: Pietersen should get a chance to bat on Wednesday

‘I don’t suppose you’d be able to see from the outside looking in that it’s anything other than normal. But I’m pretty sure most of the lads in the dressing room were expecting it to be like that.

‘Everyone in the know has sat down and spoken about it, but for the rest of the boys it’s nothing different from having any player come back into the squad who’s been missing for a while.’

It was a brave attempt by Bresnan to put an ordinary gloss on an extraordinary situation, and England will expect to field questions about the KP situation until they fly home for Christmas.

But on Tuesday, Pietersen looked just like one of the boys as England tried to limit India’s Test hopefuls to a manageable total on the kind of slow track that will keep Alastair Cook’s seamers honest in the weeks ahead.

Good morning: Bresnan starred for England with a wicket and a run out

Good morning: Bresnan starred for England with a wicket and a run out

Good morning: Bresnan starred for England with a wicket and a run out

They were not helped by the early loss of Steven Finn to a thigh niggle, but Bresnan ran out opener Murali Vijay off his own bowling, then had Ajinkya Rahane caught by Pietersen in the gully off one that bounced more than the batsman expected.

Bresnan ought to have had Yuvraj Singh — making his own way back into international cricket after fighting off a rare form of cancer — caught first ball, but Samit Patel missed a low chance at square leg.

Yuvraj proceeded to play with the freedom that could earn him India’s No 6 spot in next month’s first Test at Ahmedabad before he was stumped for 59 off the persevering Swann. And it was left to Manoj Tiwary to continue India A’s fightback with a classy 93 that ended when a Bresnan yorker sent his off stump flying.

Concern: Finn pulled up with a thigh injury

Concern: Finn pulled up with a thigh injury

Tiwary later admitted he draws inspiration from watching YouTube videos, with special mention for British 400metres runner Derek Redmond’s efforts at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, when he hobbled round the track with a torn hamstring.

On this evidence, Tiwary could push Yuvraj for the last spot in India’s top six. England will hope he does not spend next year watching re-runs of Test hundreds at their expense.

VIDEO: Cook says the team are putting the Pietersen controversy behind them…

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Chelsea v Manchester United – is it a level playing field?

So, is Sir Alex on the level playing field of Chelsea and Manchester City

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 25 October 2012

Poised first and second in the Barclays Premier League, the winners of 10 of 13 titles since the turn of the century prepare to meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The world’s 'most valuable' football club travel to the home of the European champions, the first of the game’s new mega-rich, bankrolled by Russian billions.

Chelsea's collision with Manchester United is a mouth-watering prospect with repercussions on the destiny of this particular title. But are these two clubs operating in the same dimension

All's fair: Manchester United and Chelsea do battle in the Premier League

All's fair: Manchester United and Chelsea do battle in the Premier League

All's fair: Manchester United and Chelsea do battle in the Premier League

Against the tide: Sir Alex Ferguson

Against the tide: Sir Alex Ferguson

Their transfer habits bear many differences. Both clubs pay big wages to attract top players, as summer raids for Eden Hazard and Robin van Persie proved, but their net-spending trends have become very different and this is what the financial experts say matter most.

Chelsea’s net spend on transfers over the last five years has been 228.7million, compared with Manchester United’s 60.95m. Manchester City’s recent figures soar even higher and their wealth is limitless.

United were valued at 1.43billion by Forbes magazine this year, making them the most valuable club in world sport, not only football.

Yet having finished last season without a trophy, fans are concerned about the direction of the club under the ownership of the Glazers and wondering how long Sir Alex Ferguson can defy gravity and compete for silverware while watching pennies.

Only four points separate the teams after eight league games but Chelsea have outspent United in every season since the teams met in the 2009 Champions League final.

The 2009-10 figures are distorted by the 80m sale of Cristiano Ronaldo but the trend has been clear since Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich began his second major team-building project.

In May, they won their first European Cup
and drove on with a summer of heavy spending, in net terms almost
double the size of United’s.

Don't come cheap: Eden Hazard and Robin van Persie cost a combined 56m

Don't come cheap: Eden Hazard and Robin van Persie cost a combined 56m

Don't come cheap: Eden Hazard and Robin van Persie cost a combined 56m

Last year, Chelsea’s net-spend was around 50 per cent more than United’s. In 2010-11, when the Blues smashed the British transfer record for Fernando Torres, it was more than 70m higher.

But with the onset of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, all clubs have become more conscious of the need to balance the books.

Van Persie is a notable exception but the bulk of the big money is spent on younger players with sell-on worth and clubs have trimmed fat from the first-team squads to minimise the wage bills, encouraged by the introduction of the 25-man squad rule.

Glance across average net spending by all Premier League clubs in the summer transfer windows over the last five years, Manchester City are way ahead with 65m, roughly double Chelsea in second. Liverpool lie third and United are fourth with a net summer spend over five years of 3m.

Tottenham and Arsenal record profits. The Arsenal board are under no illusions of what fans make of that after Thursday’s AGM.

David Bick, a financial football expert from Square1 Consulting and the former financial PR man for United, said: ‘It highlights the difference between United and Chelsea and City but it also shows that clubs are being more prudent, financially.

'They have already been behaving like the FFP rules are in place.'

How Chelsea and Manchester United compare

Maria de Villota relives horror smash before British Grand Prix

'I had 140 stitches in my face and they looked like boat rope. I was terrified.' Female F1 driver De Villota relives horror smash in which she lost an eye

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UPDATED:

11:25 GMT, 10 October 2012

Formula One test driver Maria de Villota has spoken for the first time about the horror smash in which she lost her right eye.

The 32-year-old spent a month in
hospital after suffering serious head injuries when she crashed into the back of a team transporter during a
straight-line test for Marussia on July 3.

Maria De Villota before the crash

Speed queen: Maria De Villota before the crash

De Villota has now returned home but she continues to suffer from headaches and has lost her sense of smell and taste.

'I remember everything – even the moment of the impact,' di Villota told
the Spanish Hola magazine.

'When I woke up everybody was around me and they didn't even know if I
was going to speak, or how I was going to speak. I started speaking in
English because I thought I was on an FIA check-up and that the nurse
was a trainer.

'Then my dad said 'Please, Maria, speak Spanish, because your mother is
missing half the things', and then I became aware of everything: of what
had happened, where I was and why.'

The smash, which happened at Duxford Airfield in the run-up to the British Grand Prix, had had a profound effect of De Villota.

'The accident has given me a new perspective about life, about the
things that matter,' she said.

'It has taught me that to achieve what
you want you have to educate yourself in sacrifice through effort.

Crash: De Villota suffered serious head injuries

Crash: De Villota suffered serious head injuries

'Now I have just one eye maybe I perceive more things than before.
Before this, my life was a race against the clock, and now I see you
have to stop and measure things in a different way.'

De Villota admitted she was shocked the first time she saw her injuries, but she is sure that the worst is now behind her.

'In the beginning they were covering it [the eye] so I couldn't see it,'
she added.

'The first day I looked at myself in the mirror I had 140
black stitches on my face, and they looked like they had been stitched
with a boat rope, and I had lost my right eye. I was terrified.

'I have to undergo more surgery soon, but the worst is now behind.'

She added: 'I have headaches that they don't know how long will last – maybe years.

'I have to control my efforts a lot because of the cranial pressure. I
have also lost smell, and taste, which is linked to smell. Now I like
things with a very strong taste.'