Tag Archives: shaking

WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP 2013: Shaun Murphy beats Graeme Dott

Shock treatment riles Dott as Murphy battles to second round win in gripping battle

By
Ivan Speck

PUBLISHED:

23:05 GMT, 26 April 2013

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UPDATED:

23:51 GMT, 26 April 2013

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Graeme Dott lost a gripping late night second round encounter 13-11 to Shaun Murphy but it was the shock treatment he endured in the morning session which jarred him most.

The Scot felt a static shock every time he played a shot close to the cushion and refused to play on until an official sprayed the carpet with water.

Happy days: Shaun Murphy celebrates his win at the Crucible

Happy days: Shaun Murphy celebrates his win at the Crucible

Shaking hands: Murphy and Dott after their gripping second round clash

Shaking hands: Murphy and Dott after their gripping second round clash

Dott said: ‘I had it once before in Ireland and they watered the carpet there so that’s why I told them to do that today.

‘It was every shot and if it wasn’t
the big shocks I was getting little ones constantly. They wanted me to
finish the frame before they watered the carpet. I refused because it’s
not fair to get an electric shock every time you touch the table.

Murphy, winner here in 2005, said: ‘I
could hear the crack of the shots but I thought water and electricity
together was bad, so I don’t get it.

'I've never seen a man out there spraying the carpet. I thought it was weird.'

On the ball: Murphy battled through to the last eight in Sheffield

On the ball: Murphy battled through to the last eight in Sheffield

Scot of bother: Graeme Dott lost a dramatic second round match

Scot of bother: Graeme Dott lost a dramatic second round match

Dott battled back superbly from 6-2
down to draw level at 8-8 going into the concluding session on Friday
night. The two remained level at 10-10, before Murphy crucially won a
frame that lasted nearly an hour on a re-spotted black.

He then won the next to move 12-10 in
front, and even though 2006 champion Dott stayed alive by winning the
23rd frame, Murphy kept his nerve to book his place in the last eight.

Dott said afterwards: 'It was a good game to be involved in. I played well this morning but yesterday I kept missing unbelievable balls. You don't win many matches where you lose the first session 6-2. I think Shaun played well tonight and was stronger than me, and he deserved to win.'

Murphy said: 'Finishes like that are great fun. That's the whole point of being a snooker player, those moments there. I've lost my fair share of late-night Crucible matches and it's nice to come through one of them.'

Elsewhere on Friday night, world No 1 Mark Selby edged 9-7 ahead against Barry Hawkins.

Earlier in the day, 2011 runner-up Judd Trump fired in breaks of 109, 127 and 112 in building a 6-2 lead against Marco Fu.

Roberto Mancini says his job is safe

Mancini declares job is safe after a second consecutive Champions League failure

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UPDATED:

00:18 GMT, 22 November 2012

Roberto Mancini backed himself to survive another Champions League failure last night after Manchester City crashed out at the group stage for the second season running.

A 1-1 draw with Real Madrid consigned City to a straight fight with Ajax for a place in the Europa League, but when he was asked whether it might cost him his job, a surprised Mancini answered: 'No. Why Why I think the season is long. You have the Champions League, the FA Cup and the Premier League and if we think we can be champions of Europe after only two years, we are crazy.

'We need to improve as a team. We did some mistakes, but we are a good team. I don't have any fear about this. But I think this season's campaign has been worse than the last one.

Surprised: Roberto Mancini was shocked to be asked about his future

Surprised: Roberto Mancini was shocked to be asked about his future

'It has been a very difficult group, but we only have three points after five games.

'We started with defeat in Madrid when we were 2-1 up with four minutes to go. After that, everything was complicated.

'But Madrid and Borussia Dortmund deserve to go through because they were better than us.

'We will still try to get into the Europa League. It may not be as big as the Champions League, but if you arrive in the semi final or final it could be important for us.'

Real coach Jose Mourinho stormed down the tunnel at the end without shaking hands with Mancini.

But he backed his City counterpart, saying: 'It is good that City are behind him and giving him support.

'But it is incredible that, with the array of great players at their disposal, City have been eliminated at the group stage two seasons in a row.'

City captain Vincent Kompany left the ground on crutches after suffering a leg injury.

Nightmare start: Intense pressure from Real Madrid resulted in a goal for Karim Benzema

Nightmare start: Intense pressure from Real Madrid resulted in a goal for Karim Benzema

Wrong way: Sergio Aguero scored from the spot to equalise

Wrong way: Sergio Aguero scored from the spot to equalise

Andre Santos asks for Robin van Persie"s shirt at half-time

Embarrassing! Arsenal fans hit out at Santos after taking Van Persie's shirt at HALF-TIME

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UPDATED:

14:18 GMT, 3 November 2012

Arsenal fans reacted furiously on Saturday afternoon after Andre Santos made a beeline for former team-mate Robin van Persie and asked for his shirt as the players walked off at half-time of the Premier League clash at Old Trafford.

It had been the closest anyone got the Manchester United striker in the first 45 minutes.

And fans were angry at the perceived lack of professionalism.

Get shirty: Andre Santos asked for Robin van Persie's shirt at half-time

Get shirty: Andre Santos asked for Robin van Persie's shirt at half-time

On Twitter, @LBFutbol wrote: 'Santos
shouldn't be allowed to come back on the pitch after that,' while
another added, 'Incredible demonstration after that shambles of a 45
minutes from the “defender”.'

Others, including @GoonerTalk, said,
'Unbelievable', @wilforiley added, 'Andre Santos… The single biggest
joke to ever wear the Arsenal shirt', and ‏@EddieBaby66 wrote, 'I
present to you…. Andre Santos. Truly shocking'.

Van Persie quit the Gunners during
the summer, completing a controversial 24million move to Manchester
United, and he took under three minutes to find the net as he came up
against his old club for the first time.

Hugs all round: Robin van Persie got a very friendly welcome from old team-mate

Hugs all round: Robin van Persie got a very friendly welcome from old team-mate

Hugs all round: Robin van Persie got a very friendly welcome from old team-mate

The striker didn't celebrate his goal – gifted to him by Thomas Vermaelen – out of respect for the fans and players upon whom he turned his back.

And the gesture seemingly resonated with the men in purple and black, with Arsene Wenger first shaking hands with the Dutchman at the break, before Santos bounded the length of the pitch to ask for his shirt.

Pele and Franz Beckenbauer FIFA group wound up

FIFA put Pele and Beckenbauer in charge of sexing up football… and all they came up with was a handshake

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UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 30 October 2012

A FIFA working group featuring Pele and Franz
Beckenbauer has been wound up after their discussions on how to make the
World Cup more exciting produced little more than a suggestion on
handshakes.

'The FIFA Task Force Football 2014, which started in
May 2011, has concluded its work following discussions on possible
reforms of the game,' said FIFA.

'Several members of this task force, including its
chairman Franz Beckenbauer, will now integrate with the FIFA Football
Committee, a permanent standing committee which will continue to present
proposals to improve the game.'

No results: Pele (left) was unable to come up with any revolutions

No results: Pele (left) was unable to come up with any revolutions

The task force, also featuring several other former
international players, was asked to find ways of making World Cup
matches less defensive after a number of lacklustre games at the 2010
edition in South Africa.

The committee made an inauspicious start when former
Germany captain and coach Beckenbauer and England 1966 World Cup winner
Bobby Charlton missed the first meeting in May last year while former
Brazil great Pele never took part.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter initially said he wanted
the task force to examine the possible return of the 'golden goal' and
the abolition of extra time after drawn matches in the knockout stages.

During this year's FIFA Congress in Budapest, Blatter
suggested Beckenbauer's group could even consider the abolition of
penalty shootouts.

Closed down: Sepp Blatter (left) had expected better from the group

Closed down: Sepp Blatter (left) had expected better from the group

Chairman Beckenbauer, however, was reluctant to suggest anything that drastic.

At the group's last meeting in February the German spoke mostly about the importance of players shaking hands.

He suggested footballers should line-up in the centre
circle and shake hands after a game as he did in his schooldays, and
that teams should take the field together for the second half.

The task force put forward a proposal that teams be
allowed to make a fourth substitute during extra time but this was
turned down in March by the International Football Association Board
(IFAB), the sport's rule-making body.

Another suggestion to abolish the so-called triple
punishment – where a player who gives away a penalty is also sent off
and automatically suspended for the next match – was put on hold by the
IFAB.

Rio Ferdinand defended by players" union Clarke Carlisle

Carlisle leaps to Ferdinand's defence after United defender snubs Kick It Out campaign

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UPDATED:

12:52 GMT, 21 October 2012

The players' union have defended Rio Ferdinand's right to make a personal protest against the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign after Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson threatened to take action against the player.

Ferdinand, whose brother Anton was the subject of racist abuse from Chelsea captain John Terry last year, did not wear a campaign t-shirt in the warm-up to United's Barclays Premier League match against Stoke on Saturday despite Ferguson saying on Friday that all his players would.
Ferguson described the incident as 'embarrassing' and promised to 'deal with it'.

It is difficult to see what financial sanction could be imposed on Ferdinand in such circumstances, which instead points to a private dressing down for undermining Ferguson's authority.

In the red: Rio Ferdinand did not wear the Kick It Out t-shirt on Saturday

In the red: Rio Ferdinand did not wear the Kick It Out t-shirt on Saturday

However, Professional Footballers Association chairman Clarke Carlisle told BBC Radio 5 Live: 'We will definitely monitor the situation very closely and make sure Rio Ferdinand's rights as a human being, never mind as a footballer, are not undermined in this position.

'Everyone has a right to free speech – just like you can't coerce anyone into shaking hands, you can't make somebody wear a T-shirt – although I do personally believe that joining in with the campaign is the best way forward.

'And then for all these players to get together and put what it is they want down on paper so we together as a union – all the players, one with another – can make those changes and move forward.'

The former Burnley player believes communication is key and urged Ferguson to follow the examples of Reading boss Brian McDermott and Newcastle manager Alan Pardew in allowing Ferdinand to explain the reasons behind his decision.

Standing his ground: Jason Roberts was among those refusing to take part

Standing his ground: Jason Roberts was among those refusing to take part

It was the declaration of Reading
striker Jason Roberts on Thursday that he would not be wearing a Kick It
Out shirt after becoming frustrated by what he perceived as the group's
lack of action over racism that earned a rebuke from Ferguson.

Carlisle added: 'There are two sides to this one.

'First of all, Sir Alex Ferguson is continual in his unwavering support for the Kick It Out campaign which is commendable and what we all want to see but you can't vilify or coerce any individual for making a stand.

'This shouldn't be seen as an element of control or defiance – just like Sir Alex Ferguson said when he was talking about Jason Roberts in his first interview, he doesn't know the reasons why this stand is being made and what we should do first of all is hear those reasons and listen to them and take them on board.

'Sir Alex Ferguson said he was embarrassed and that is because of the statement he had made but Brian McDermott and Alan Pardew, these guys said they had entered into dialogue with their players and listened to the reasons for them making their stand.

Furious: Sir Alex Ferguson

Furious: Sir Alex Ferguson

'So I would sincerely hope that Sir Alex Ferguson now speaks with Rio Ferdinand and asks him why he wanted to make that stand and hopefully supports the position he is in and it isn't seen as a player-against-manager situation.'

However, former Manchester United defender Viv Anderson believes Ferdinand was wrong to go against Ferguson.

Anderson, who became England's first black international when he played against Czechoslovakia in 1978, does not feel the United boss should have been put in such a position.

'I don't agree with Rio,' Anderson told MUTV.

'You can see the manager was fuming and clearly he didn't know anything about it.

'He expects his senior boys to set an example. He is the manager. If he says we are all doing it together, it should be the end of the story.

'But Rio has gone the other way.

'I don't see where he is coming from and I don't know what it is going to achieve.'

England v san Marino: A history of the Three Lions versus the world"s minnows

There are no easy games at international level… (unless you're playing this lot!)

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UPDATED:

21:58 GMT, 11 October 2012

It may look routine enough on paper, but it hasn’t always been plain sailing for England against some of the world’s lesser lights.

Two of their most emphatic scorelines were accompanied by controversy, with Malcolm Macdonald livid at the way Don Revie treated him against Cyprus and Luther Blissett suffering an unwarranted slur after his hat-trick against Luxembourg. Even opponents San Marino caused embarrassment before succumbing.

And who could forget the way David Healy fired in a dramatic late winner in Belfast seven years ago Here, Sportsmail talks to key figures from some of England’s past encounters with international minnows.

Mac the knife: Malcolm Macdonald thunders in one of his five

Mac the knife: Malcolm Macdonald thunders in one of his five

England 5 Cyprus 0

Wembley, April 16, 1975: Macdonald 5

Malcolm Macdonald: ‘Don Revie made it clear, in the previous game against West Germany, that I was in his squad under sufferance. It was down to pressure from the media, nothing to do with being the in-form finisher in the League and if I didn’t score against the newly-crowned world champions, I’d be out. I did manage a goal, but the message was the same against Cyprus — score, or you’ll never play for me again. The only reason I can think of is that I played for Newcastle and we used to batter his Leeds team and I’d often be on the scoresheet. That shouldn’t have mattered for England, but he was a complex character and it seemed to rankle. It was unprofessional on his part, but scoring five goals was the perfect answer. I was shaking hands with the Cypriots at the end when the scoreboard went blank. Then it lit up with ‘Supermac 5, Cyprus 0’. That was a special moment. I noticed Revie shuffling off down the touchline, shoulders hunched, hands in his sheepskin coat pocket, and I just bellowed: ‘Read that and weep, you b******.’ I knew he wouldn’t hear, but that was just how I felt. In the dressing room, he went round each player, from one to 11, shaking hands and saying thanks. After number eight, Mick Channon, he blanked me and went to 10 and 11, then walked out. Incredible, but what mattered was we’d been brutal with lesser opposition, which England must be tonight.’

Hat-trick: Luther Blissett celebrates his third

Hat-trick: Luther Blissett celebrates his third

England 9 Luxembourg 0

Wembley, December 15, 1982: Blissett 3, Coppell, Woodcock, Chamberlain, Hoddle, Neal, Jeanott Moes (og)

Luther Blissett: ‘I had a hand in the first goal and that was as important as my hat-trick. I drilled the ball across the six-yard box and it went in off a defender. The opening goal is crucial. A couple of headers from Steve Coppell and Tony Woodcock, then it was my turn. I did not get a clean contact on the first but there was nothing wrong with the headers that followed and it was great to have a hat-trick. There was never any chance of us letting up. I always remember my old Watford boss Graham Taylor saying: “If you get the chance to beat someone 10, then beat them 10”. The Sun carried a headline “Luther Missit” the next morning (the paper focused on his missed chances), but I’ve never been one for keeping negative thoughts. There was no chance of it spoiling a great memory.’

San Marino 1 England 7

Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Bologna, November 17, 1993: Gualtieri; I Wright 4, Ince 2, Ferdinand

David Gualtieri: ‘I instinctively decided to chase Stuart Pearce’s backpass and when he mishit it, I was in on goal. There was no time to think. Just hit it hard and low and hope it goes in. It did and we were in front after eight seconds. It was the fastest goal in World Cup history and it changed my life. England got on top eventually, but while it was 1-0, the air turned blue with some of the language they were using. Fair play to Pearce, though. When I went up to him at the end, he swapped shirts and shook hands. I’ll get round to finding a frame for it one of these days. Eighteen months later, Scotland played us here and I remember seeing their fans wearing T-shirts that said “GUALTIERI EIGHT SECONDS”. It was really funny.’

Infamous: Davide Gualtieri pips Stuart Pearce to his under-hit backpass before firing past David Seaman

Infamous: Davide Gualtieri pips Stuart Pearce to his under-hit backpass before firing past David Seaman

On target: Martin Keown scores for England

On target: Martin Keown scores for England

Malta 1 England 2

Valletta, June 3, 2000: R Wright (og); Keown, Heskey

Martin Keown: ‘I should have had a hat-trick. It was a warm-up for Euro 2000 and we were all playing for places. I scored one, had another disallowed and should have had more. I was disappointed that the game was too easy. I didn’t have a chance to show what I could do and Sol Campbell and Tony Adams ended up starting at the Euros. When we played smaller teams, there was that uneasy feeling of having to get a good start, otherwise the match would become awkward.’

But beware, don't get too cocky!
Northern Ireland 1 England 0

Windsor Park, Belfast, September 7, 2005: Healy

David Healy: ‘I sensed something was going to happen before kick-off. The corridor from the changing rooms at Windsor Park is narrow and when the England boys emerged, there was barbed wire by the pitch, police everywhere. Our manager Lawrie Sanchez told us to make it like a Championship fixture. James Quinn smashed into Ashley Cole after six seconds and that set the tone. The England players became rattled, none more so than Wayne Rooney. He was only a young boy but he lost it. He was shouting at Sven Goran Eriksson and was lucky not to be sent off after elbowing Keith Gillespie. David Beckham did his best to calm him down but the body language among England’s lads was a giveaway. When I shot past Paul Robinson 15 minutes from time, it was a great feeling. There are murals of that goal on walls in Belfast and one has Lawrie’s words on it. “These boys have achieved immortality in Northern Ireland sport.” That’s what it meant.’

Flying start: David Healy fires in the winner as Ashley Cole looks aghast

Flying start: David Healy fires in the winner as Ashley Cole looks aghast

The no-hoper files: England’s record against the international whipping boys…

WHEN THEY’VE CRUISED

September 1, 1996: Moldova 0 England 3, World Cup qualifier

September 10, 1997: England 4 Moldova 0, World Cup qualifier

September 4, 1999: England 6 Luxembourg 0, Euro qualifier
Five goals in the first half.

June 6, 2009: Kazakhstan 0 England 4, World Cup qualifier
Took the lead after 20 minutes and eased to victory.

September 7, 2012: Moldova 0 England 5, World Cup qualifier

WHEN THEY’VE BEEN BRUISED

October 14, 1998: Luxembourg 0 England 3, Euros qualifier
Home side missed early penalty and late goals added gloss.

October 13, 2004: Azerbaijan 0 England 1, World Cup qualifier

March 30, 2005: England 2 Azerbaijan 0, World Cup qualifier
Two tight, scrappy games.

October 11, 2008: England 5 Kazakhstan 1, World Cup qualifier
Made sure with three goals in the last 13 minutes.

WHEN THEY’VE BEEN BOOED

March 28, 2007: Andorra 0 England 3, Euros qualifier
Awful first 45 minutes.

September 6, 2008: Andorra 0 England 2, World Cup qualifier
A dreadful, goalless first half.

June 18, 2010: England 0 Algeria 0, World Cup group stage
Wayne Rooney ranted at England fans who booed the team.

Ashley Cole faces Chelsea disciplinary action over FA tweet

Cole faces disciplinary action from Chelsea after his abusive FA tweet

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UPDATED:

16:57 GMT, 6 October 2012

Ashley Cole is facing disciplinary action from both Chelsea and the Football Association over his foul-mouthed Twitter rant at the game's governing body.

Blues and England defender Cole called the FA a 'bunch of t***s on Friday after he was accused of 'evolving' his statement supporting John Terry's defence against the charge he racially abused Anton Ferdinand.

Back in action: Ashley Cole playing for Chelsea against Norwich on Saturday

Back in action: Ashley Cole playing for Chelsea against Norwich on Saturday

Ashley Cole

John Terry and Ashley Cole

Blue is the colour: Cole played alongside John Terry at Stamford Bridge on Saturday

He looks likely to be hit with an FA
charge over the outburst and Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo confirmed
this evening the left-back would also be punished by his club.

The Italian said: 'We've got a social
media policy at the club and there's going to be a disciplinary process
– action – against the tweet and that's how I'll leave it.'

The main man: Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo watches the Blues take on Norwich

The main man: Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo watches the Blues take on Norwich

Snub: Anton Ferdinand avoids shaking hands with Ashley Cole

Snub: Anton Ferdinand avoids shaking hands with Ashley Cole

Rory McIlroy wins Deutsche Bank Championship

McIlroy pips Oosthuizen to Deutsche Bank Championship with final round of 67

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UPDATED:

22:47 GMT, 3 September 2012

Rory McIlroy put himself in pole position to take a 10 million dollar morale boost into the Ryder Cup with a sensational win in the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston on Monday night.

The victory took the world No 1 to the top of the FedEx Cup rankings with just two tournaments to go and the mind boggling first prize within his reach when it is settled at the Tour Championship in Atlanta the weekend before Europe and the US do battle at Kiawah Island.

Champion: McIlroy lifts the trophy after shaking hands with Oosthuizen

Champion: McIlroy lifts the trophy after shaking hands with Oosthuizen

Champion: McIlroy lifts the trophy after shaking hands with Oosthuizen

Not that he needs the money too badly – Monday night’s victory was his second 1m payday in a matter of weeks after winning the USPGA Championship.

But his performance underlined the
sensational form the 23-year-old from Holywood has found in the second
half of his first full season on the US Tour.

Top form: McIlroy shot a 67 in the final round to win by one shot

Top form: McIlroy shot a 67 in the final round to win by one shot

Starting the day three shots behind former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, he launched his charge with three birdies in the first four holes.

And after building a two shot lead by half way he clung on to finish 20 under par for the tournament, a shot ahead of the South African.

And even when he wobbled slightly on the 17th hole, chipping from the rough behind a bunker on one side of the green straight into the long grass on the other, he was let off when Oosthuizen missed a ten foot putt to also bogey the hole.

Edged out: Oosthuizen (below left) had started the day three shots clear

Edged out: Oosthuizen (below left) had started the day three shots clear

Edged out: Oosthuizen (below left) had started the day three shots clear

The South African then put his second shot at the 18th into deep rough, and although he produced a brilliant chip to get out of trouble he just missed the putt which would have taken the match to a play off.

The victory was all the more crucial as a morale boost because it means McIlroy will keep the upper hand of any Ryder Cup duel with Tiger Woods, who gave more evidence of his return to top form with a final day 66 to finish in third place on 18 under.

Morale boost: McIlroy finished two shots clear of Ryder Cup rival Woods

Morale boost: McIlroy finished two shots clear of Ryder Cup rival Woods

Luis Suarez reopens race row with Patrice Evra

Conspiracy! Suarez reopens Evra race row with attack on Manchester United

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UPDATED:

20:40 GMT, 17 July 2012

Luis Suarez has defied Liverpool's orders to reignite the row over his race ban last season after claiming he fell victim to a Manchester United conspiracy.

The Liverpool striker, who is currently back in Uruguay preparing for the Olympics, will have dismayed Anfield officials by going on record again about the incident with Patrice Evra last October.

In an interview with Uruguayan TV station RR Gol, Suarez revealed he has been ordered by Liverpool’s hierarchy not to speak over the furore, for which he received an eight-match ban.

Hitting out: Luis Suarez has reopened the infamous race row with Patrice Evra

Hitting out: Luis Suarez has reopened the infamous race row with Patrice Evra

Suarez caused a storm when he failed to shake hands with Evra before a Barclays Premier League game at Old Trafford on February 4.

But he said: 'It was a misunderstanding, what happened between me and Evra at Old Trafford when we were to shake hands. In fact, I think it was all arranged against me again, as it had happened with the punishment.

'I promised my wife, the manager and the directors that I was going to shake my hand with Evra. “Why not” I thought, because I had no problems with him. I had been punished because of him, but I had no problems with shaking hands.'

Flashpoint: The pair first clashed in October, after which Suarez was accused

Flashpoint: The pair first clashed in October, after which Suarez was accused

Suarez, who revealed that he had been left in tears following his trial last December, added: ‘The media in England showed the moment when I passed in front of him, but they didn’t see that he had his hand low before. Only the media in Uruguay and Spain showed that I wanted to shake his hand.

And again: When the pair met later in the season there was more ugly scenes

And again: When the pair met later in the season there was more ugly scenes

'The trial was so complicated for me. I had to go to Manchester in a taxi for the trial. I got up at seven in the morning and I came home at nine at night. I was exhausted, I was so tired. I wanted to cry, and kick all the things around me.

'I came home and I wanted to do all that, but I couldn't because my daughter was at home. There were really complicated days, and then things became harder after the punishment.'

He added: 'People at the club are sure that it was a way that Manchester United used to put me out of the team and stop Liverpool.

'But in England, Man United has this political power, and you have to respect that and shut your mouth.'

Andrew Strauss again fails to silence his critics as pressure mounts on England skipper

Strauss again fails to silence his critics as pressure mounts on England skipper

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UPDATED:

19:22 GMT, 21 April 2012

Andrew Strauss says he hates his
players having to come out and defend him over his position in the
England side and his right to lead it.

After his second failure in two LV
Championship innings against Durham at Lord's yesterday, he might be in
for a little more displeasure yet.

No one is seriously saying that
Strauss, winner of Ashes series at home and away and driving force
behind the transformation that culminated in England reaching the No1
world ranking, will not be back here on May 17 shaking hands with his
West Indies counterpart Darren Sammy.

Bad run of form: Andrew Strauss is bowled by Graham Onions

Bad run of form: Andrew Strauss is bowled by Graham Onions

It is just that, after the winter he has suffered with the bat, everyone is concerned that he finds the form that would render any assertion to the contrary as absurd as he and England, and the vast majority of supporters and observers, believe it should be.

His duck on the opening day of his season was bad enough. But facing just two balls from Graham Onions before hearing the rattle behind him were nothing by which to judge his current state.

His effort made even more uncomfortable viewing, however, as his six runs took 25 balls, of which only a handful located any part of the bat and only a couple the middle of it.

Tearing it up: Graham Onions in action

Tearing it up: Graham Onions in action

His first contact with the ball steered it towards Callum Thorp in the gully and had the Durham man held it Strauss would be starting a fortnight's gap in Midddlesex' fixture list with a pair to his name.

Onions, who finished with six for 45 as Middlesex's first innings collapsed, demonstrated how lucky England are to have him in the wings. But Strauss, by his own admission, needs runs before the Test summer starts.

Weight of the world: Andrew Strauss has plenty on his mind

Weight of the world: Andrew Strauss has plenty on his mind

With no cricket between now and May 3 for him to play and a maximum of four more innings every knock that goes by without them from now on will only serve to turn largely imagined pressure into the real thing.

Elsewhere, while Kevin Pietersen's 64-ball IPL century may have been what 'dreams are made of', Ravi Bopara will be hoping that his four and three-quarter hour 117 against Yorkshire is the beginning of the end of his England nightmare.

Supporters of the Essex batting all-rounder will not need reminding nearly five years have passed since his Test debut, against Sri Lanka in Kandy, nor that he has played a total of just 12 Tests.

This time last year, despite opting for the opportunity to press his claims with early season Championship runs ahead of a lucrative IPL contract, the place in England's Test XI vacated by Paul Collingwood went instead to Eoin Morgan, the Middlesex left-hander who had done the exact opposite.

But after missing the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle with a side strain, his unbeaten 117 out of Essex's 199, with 18 fours, should have settled the issue, especially with Morgan, out of favour with England after his poor series against Pakistan in the UAE, marooned in India with a Kolkata Knight Riders franchise who have thus far chosen not to pick him.

Not only did Bopara produce the runs that England are looking for, the fact that he carried his bat from 24 for 2 in response to Yorkshire's 246 demonstrated the kind of application they have waited so long to see.