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County Championship 2013: Nick Compton"s rise highlights importance of domestic circuit

County cricket is back! And if you're in any doubt how relevant it is, just ask Compton

By
Richard Gibson

PUBLISHED:

22:26 GMT, 9 April 2013

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UPDATED:

09:19 GMT, 10 April 2013

Anyone wondering whether the County Championship retains its relevance within the framework of 21st-century cricket ought to pose the question to Nick Compton.

In an age when Twenty20 offers the quickest route to fame and fortune, Compton took the sleepy backroads around the shires with Somerset to reach the international fast lane.

Perhaps held back in his early career by lugging a famous surname around, the 29-year-old has flourished since moving to Taunton in 2010.

Driving seat: Nick Compton hit back-to-back centuries in New Zealand to all but secure his Ashes spot

Driving seat: Nick Compton hit back-to-back centuries in New Zealand to all but secure his Ashes spot

Prolific: Compton averaged 99.25 last season

Prolific: Compton averaged 99.25 last season

Last season he achieved a Bradman-esque
County Championship average of 99.25 and, two Test hundreds in New
Zealand later, he holds an England place three months shy of the Ashes.

‘The County Championship provides the route to the England team and it is really important that message is projected.

'Compton is a fine example of someone who was banging out big runs to a degree where we could no longer not pick him,’ acknowledged England limited-overs coach Ashley Giles as county sides prepare for Wednesday's opening games of the Championship season.

‘In the end he selected himself by the sheer weight of numbers he was stacking up and that has to be a boost for all county cricketers out there.

'From my experience with Warwickshire, he was by far the stand-out guy we played against; by virtue of the fact you actually had to get him out.

'He exhibited the skills you look for in a top player as well. You can’t just do it by getting runs, you have to display the mental and physical attributes to play Test cricket.’

Mark Butcher, a predecessor of Compton’s as an England Test opener, added: ‘Compo’s thing is that he was not picked on the basis of one glorious summer. He has done it year in, year out and that as much as anything is the lesson for others.’

Recognition: England coach Ashley Giles believes Compton selected himself after his prolific run-scoring

Recognition: England coach Ashley Giles believes Compton selected himself after his prolific run-scoring

Championship cricket, with its
unrelenting schedule, remains the best gauge of a player’s credentials,
according to Giles, the director of cricket who guided Warwickshire to
the title last September.

‘Over
the course of a long season, take away all the variables of weather,
injuries to a degree, and it is the best signal of who is the best
cricket team in the land,' he said.

On Wednesday morning, the Championship
pennant will be hoisted on the pavilion at Edgbaston for the champions’
opening fixture against Derbyshire. But who does Giles view as the most
likely challengers this year

Champions: Warwickshire will begin their Division One defence on Wednesday against Derbyshire

Champions: Warwickshire will begin their Division One defence on Wednesday against Derbyshire

Addition: Middlesex have been strengthened by the signing of James Harris (left)

Addition: Middlesex have been strengthened by the signing of James Harris (left)

‘I think Middlesex will be a dangerous side,’ he said. ‘When we sat back at the end of last season and reflected, we felt they were the most similar side to us in how they played their cricket. If they had nudged us a bit harder last year I reckon they could have beaten us but they were quite tentative.’

Former Surrey batsman Butcher, meanwhile, said: ‘I will be keeping an eye on Yorkshire because they are a very talented group. They have some young guys in there so to go all the way might be beyond them because of that youth.

‘To me it’s no surprise that Warwickshire got into positions to win things over the past couple of years because of the average age of their team. They are a mature team, not an old team.'

Cups run over: All the trophies that will be played for this summer, and the Ashes in the middle

Cups run over: All the trophies that will be played for this summer, and the Ashes in the middle

Ashley Giles and Mark Butcher were talking ahead of this year’s LV= County Catch-up – A monthly online programme featuring news, player interviews and behind the scenes insight from the LV= County Championship circuit.

Harry Redknapp chasing Nicolas Anelka and Joe Cole

Redknapp to meet QPR owner Fernandes over January transfer targets Anelka and Cole

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 17 December 2012

Harry Redknapp will meet Queens Park Rangers owner Tony Fernandes this week to discuss the club's transfer window plans.

Redknapp will have 10million to spend in January but is expected to rely largely on loan deals.

Liverpool's Joe Cole and former Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka are targets.

Target man: Joe Cole could be offered an escape route from Liverpool by QPR

Target man: Joe Cole could be offered an escape route from Liverpool by QPR

Anelka is also being targeted by east Londoners West Ham.

Cole has struggled to force his way back into the Liverpool team since he returned from a season-long loan at French side Lille.

The 31-year-old made 32 appearances for the Ligue 1 club and scored four goals.

Should Cole choose to link up with Redknapp it would not be for the first time. The former England international played under Redknapp during his time at West Ham.

The midfielder scored his first goal of the season against the Hammers last week, but doesn't appear to be in Brendan Rodgers' plans.

Meanwhile, QPR are preparing an official approach for Tottenham coach Les Ferdinand.

They are also keen on adding Clive Allen to their set-up.

Striking options: Nicolas Anelka (right) is also being tracked by Harry Redknapp

Striking options: Nicolas Anelka (right) is also being tracked by Harry Redknapp

Glorious: Adel Taraabt scored a remarkable goal against Fulham on Saturday

Glorious: Adel Taraabt scored a remarkable goal against Fulham on Saturday

Bradley Wiggins turns back on second Tour de France title to support Chris Froome

Wiggins stuns fans by turning back on Tour de France defence to support Froome after nightmare route is unveiled

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UPDATED:

12:11 GMT, 24 October 2012

Reigning champion Bradley Wiggins has turned his back on a second Tour de France title after agreeing to support Chris Froome's bid for glory.

The move marks a role reversal for the Team Sky team-mates after Froome played a key part in Wiggins' historic victory in July.

Look says it all: Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome watch the 2013 route presentation

Look says it all: Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome watch the 2013 route presentation

Rivals: Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and Bradley Wiggins

Rivals: Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and Bradley Wiggins

Wiggins has set his sights on winning the Giro d’Italia next year as he attempts to secure all three Grand Tour titles.

Speaking at Wednesday's 2013 route announcement, Wiggins said: 'It's more than likely I'll be there in a helping capacity. For me it was about winning one Tour. I want to win the Giro.'

The 32-year-old became the first
Briton to win the Tour this summer when he beat Froome to the yellow jersey.

This year's race suited Wiggins'
time-trial prowess but next year's event, which starts for the first
time in Corsica, is apparently more mountainous which would not favour
the Briton but instead the likes of Alberto Contador.

Enlarge

The 2013 Tour de France route

The 2013 Tour de France route

the 2013 cycling classic Tour de France route

The Tour – the first since lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven titles – will end on the Champs-Elysees at night, organisers confirmed.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme revealed a 3,360-kilometre, 21-stage route, which takes place entirely in France, beginning on Corsica on June 21 and finishing under floodlights on the most famous boulevard in Paris on July 21.

Organisers made a decision to shorten
the combined length of the race's two individual time trials in part as
a response to the domination in this year's tour by champion Wiggins.

The 65 kilometers (40 miles) of time
trials split evenly between the 11th and 17th stages is almost 40
kilometers (25 miles) less than in the 2012 Tour, which could play into
Olympic time trial champion Wiggins' decision to focus instead on the
Giro d'Italia.

The first individual time trail on July 10 finishes against the backdrop of the Mont Saint-Michel monestary.

Line up: (l to r) Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Tejay van Garderen, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador

The contenders: (l to r) Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Tejay van Garderen, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador

Main man: Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme

Main man: Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme

Organisers have given sprinters like Mark Cavendish a gift – the June 29 stage finish in Bastia is the first time since 1966 that a sprinter can hope to wear the yellow jersey after the first stage, Prudhomme said.

The traditional Bastille Day stage on July 14 is the race's longest at 242 kilometers (150 miles), ending with the 20.8-kilometer (13-mile) ascent of Mont Ventoux, one of cycling's most mythical climbs.

In another first for the race, which has only stopped for the two world wars since the first Tour in 1903, riders will begin the final stage on July 21 inside the grounds of the Versailles Palace. With the sprawling 17th-century chateau as a backdrop to the race start, 'It's going to be a knockout,' Prudhomme said.

The last stage will start later in the day than traditionally and timed for a finish at about 9 p.m., while there is still enough light to ensure riders' safety, Prudhomme said.

'We wanted the finish of the 100th Tour winner to be unique,' Prudhomme said.

In another change to tradition, the eight laps of the Champs Elysees will send riders all the way around the giant Arc de Triomphe arch at the top of the grand avenue, rather than just passing in front of it as in past years.

Armstrong finished on the top of the podium in a record seven Tours from 1999 to 2005 but was subject to a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation and stripped of his titles and banned for life.

The UCI, cycling's world governing body, ratified the sanctions on Monday.

Marouane Chamakh could return to Bordeaux

Chamakh will get second shot at Bordeaux escape from Arsenal

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UPDATED:

09:52 GMT, 13 October 2012

Marouane Chamakh will be given a second chance to play for former side Bordeaux.

He had the option last year for a move away from Arsenal but rejected the opportunity.

Escape route: Marouane Chamakh could return to Bordeaux

Escape route: Marouane Chamakh could return to Bordeaux

Bordeaux chairman Jean-Louis Triaud has insisted the door is still open for the Morocco striker but he must take a pay cut.

He said: 'Money is the key question because salaries in the Premier League are enormous but it’s also necessary for him to play.

'In December 2011 I sent a message to say the door was open for a return but he wanted to stay.

'Now the message is there again with the same objective.'

The 28-year-old began well in England but soon faltered and has never hit his stride again.

There was bad news for Arsenal as Chamakh's team-mate Theo Walcott was sent to hospital following an incident in England's match with San Marino.

Ouch: Theo Walcott was smashed into by the goalkeeper

Ouch: Theo Walcott was smashed into by the goalkeeper

San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini charged into the Walcott in the fifth minute as the Arsenal ace tried to get on the end of a through ball.

He needed five minutes of treatment on the field before going off to be replaced by Tottenham Hotspur's Aaron Lennon.

Walcott was admitted for tests on his chest as he suffered breathing difficulties amid fears he may have broken ribs. He was also said to have been coughing blood is unlikely to be fit for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier in Poland.

'If I described it as reckless I'd be kind,' said England boss Hodgson. 'It was a fierce challenge. I don't believe there was any malice but it's put Theo Walcott in hospital. It was a very poor challenge.

US OPEN 2012: Laura Robson beaten by Samantha Stosur

Robson's run comes to an end as Brit is defeated by defending champion Stosur

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UPDATED:

22:54 GMT, 2 September 2012

Laura Robson's valiant US Open campaign was brought to an end on Sunday night by defending champion Samantha Stosur.

The Brit, who beat Grand Slam champions Kim Clijsters and Li Na en route to the fourth round, could not capitalise on a number of opportunities as she went down 6-4, 6-4 to the Australian.

Robson broke Stosur early in the match but was then broken twice herself as she lost a tight first set. Several break points then came and went in the second set as the 18-year-old was eventually overpowered by her more experienced opponent.

More to follow…

Beaten: Robson's valiant run came to an end on Sunday night

Beaten: Robson's valiant run came to an end on Sunday night

Defending champion: Stosur advances to the last eight

Defending champion: Stosur advances to the last eight

Brave effort: Robson saved eight match points

Brave effort: Robson saved eight match points

Brave effort: Robson saved eight match points

More to follow…

Job done: Stosur is defending the US Open crown she won last year

Job done: Stosur is defending the US Open crown she won last year

Heading home: But Robson has enjoyed a tremendous run

Heading home: But Robson has enjoyed a tremendous run

Heading home: But Robson has enjoyed a tremendous run

Marouane Chamakh offered Arsenal escape by Besiktas

Besiktas offer escape route for Arsenal flop Chamakh

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 20 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Besiktas want to take Arsenal misfit Marouane Chamakh on loan with a view to a permanent 4million deal.

The Morocco centre forward, 28, joined from Bordeaux in 2010 but scored just one goal in 19 appearances last season.

Misfit: Marouane Chamakh

Misfit: Marouane Chamakh

Wolves full back Ronald Zubar says that he wants to stay at Molineux despite interest from Besiktas.

Zenit St Petersburg have confirmed their intent to make a fresh bid for Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin, 31.

West Ham eye Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov

West Ham move for Man United striker Berbatov after Carroll bid rebuffed

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UPDATED:

06:39 GMT, 17 July 2012

West Ham are ready to offer Dimitar Berbatov an escape route from his Manchester United misery.

The Hammers have switched their
attention to the Bulgarian striker after their bid to sign Andy Carroll was rebuffed by the Liverpool forward, reports the Daily Mirror.

Time to say goodbye: Dimitar Berbatov is looking to leave Manchester United this summer

Time to say goodbye: Dimitar Berbatov is looking to leave Manchester United this summer

Berbatov, 31, has revealed his desire to quit the Reds in search of regular first-team football next season.

But United have taken out an option
to extend his contract by another 12 months in the hope of landing a fee
for the 5m-rated striker.

West Ham would prefer a season-long loan and believe former Spurs hitman Berbatov would be tempted by a return to London.

On the bench: Berbatov was not used a lot by Manchester United last season

On the bench: Berbatov was not used a lot by Manchester United last season

Signed for 30m from Spurs four years ago, Berbatov hit 14 goals in his first season at United and 12 in his second.

In his third, he rattled in 20 Premier League goals to share the Golden Boot with Carlos Tevez of Manchester City.

However, the emergence of both Danny
Welbeck and Javier Hernandez at United, has since seen Berbatov
restricted to a bit-part player.

Everton"s Tim Cahill given lucrative offer from China

Cahill offered Everton escape by Chinese club promising mega deal for Australian

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 12 June 2012

Chinese side Guizho Renhe are ready to make Tim Cahill a lucrative offer to leave Everton.

The 32-year-old has two years on contract but looks increasingly likely to leave Goodison with Saudi Arabian clubs Al Hilal and Al Nasr also interested and offering wages of around 3.5m a year.

The midfielder, who has recently been on international duty with Australia in Oman, is one of Everton's longest serving players, making 278 appearances and scoring 68 goals.

Exit route: Tim Cahill looks increasingly unlikely to be at Everton next season

Exit route: Tim Cahill looks increasingly unlikely to be at Everton next season

Mark Hughes chasing Aston Villa"s Shay Given

Hughes to launch 3m attempt to lure Villa's Given to QPR

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UPDATED:

11:30 GMT, 11 June 2012

Mark Hughes is about to launch a bid to sign his former goalkeeper Shay Given for QPR.

The Aston Villa stopper played under Hughes as the Welshman's No 1 at Manchester City.

On the move Shay Given has attracted interest from QPR

On the move Shay Given has attracted interest from QPR

Both have since moved on, and after Joe Hart proved his worth and claimed the No 1 jersey at City, Roberto Mancini shipped Given on to Villa.

Hughes is keen to replace Paddy Kenny between the sticks at QPR, and he sees his former player as the ideal replacement.

The QPR manager is hoping to bag Given, who played in goals for Ireland on Sunday, for around 3million.

Oh dear: Given played for Ireland as they were beaten 3-1 by Croatia

Oh dear: Given played for Ireland as they were beaten 3-1 by Croatia

There have been reports that the 36-year-old has become disillusioned with life at Villa Park since the sacking of Alex McLeish.

He could be offered an escape route to Loftus Road through Hughes.

Yet, Given looked sluggish on Sunday, and was unable to prevent his country slumping to a 3-1 defeat to Croatia in their Group C opener.

Johan Djourou considering leaving Arsenal

Djourou looking at Emirates escape route after admitting life at Arsenal is not easy

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UPDATED:

07:46 GMT, 30 May 2012

Johan Djourou is considering leaving Arsenal after admitting life at the club is not 'easy'.

The 25-year-old centre back says he is willing to consider a move away from north London if he is presented with the right offer.

Switzerland international coach Omar Hitzfeld stated at the weekend Djourou needs to be playing more regularly at club level to guarantee his place in the team.

Options: Johan Djourou could exit the Emirates

Options: Johan Djourou could exit the Emirates

'My situation at Arsenal is not easy,' he told 20min.ch. 'I’ve never played so little, and especially not in my own position.'

Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen are the Gunners' first choice central defensive options, while Per Mertesacker adds further competition.

Djourou has found himself put at right-back, a position he is clearly uncomfortable in.

'If an interesting offer comes, I’ll look at it carefully,' he explained.