Tag Archives: wales

ECB announce 2013 Ashes dates and venues

England to start 2013 Ashes defence at Trent Bridge with Old Trafford another returning venue

PUBLISHED:

11:03 GMT, 1 June 2012

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UPDATED:

13:01 GMT, 25 April 2013

The England and Wales Cricket Board have released the itinerary for next year's international fixtures, with Trent Bridge playing host to the first Ashes Test.

It is another packed schedule for England, with series against New Zealand in all three formats between May 16 and June 27 before the world's top-eight teams contest the Champions Trophy.

The Oval, Cardiff and Edgbaston are the home grounds for that tournament but, as ever, the focus will be on the arrival of Australia.

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Ashes heroes: England will begin the defence of the Ashes at Trent Bridge

Ashes heroes: England will begin the defence of the Ashes at Trent Bridge

They will play two four-day warm-ups, against Somerset and Worcestershire, before the opening Test in Nottingham on July 10.

The second Test, at Lord's, follows immediately on July 18 before Australia face Sussex in another tour match at Hove.

The next two Tests are also back to back, with Old Trafford the venue for the third match, as it was in the memorable 2005 series, and Durham's first taste of Ashes cricket coming in the penultimate match of the series, starting on August 9.

The tourists then have a two-day fixture at Northampton before the sides meet again at The Oval, where England have clinched the urn for the last two home series.

Having announced his shock retirement from limited-overs cricket, Kevin Pietersen's international commitments will end on August 25, while his colleagues contest two Twenty20s and five one-day matches against the old enemy as well a stand alone trip to Malahide to face Ireland.

Happy memories: The England team celebrate winning the Fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in 2005

Happy memories: The England team celebrate winning the Fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in 2005

The final match on the calendar, a 50-over clash with Australia, takes place at Hampshire's Ageas Bowl on September 16 – four days later than its 2012 equivalent.

ECB chief executive David Collier said: 'The prospect of England defending the Ashes on home soil, the world's top eight teams competing in the ICC Champions Trophy, and a full programme of 50-Over and T20 International cricket will provide rich pickings for cricket fans next summer.

'Last season's international programme attracted a record aggregate attendance of more than 850,000 spectators and we would urge all fans to purchase their international tickets early for 2013 to avoid missing out on what promises to be a memorable summer.'

Collier also referred to the decision to hand Lord's the first Test of the summer against New Zealand, having initially awarded the fixture to Cardiff.

Australia announce Ashes squad

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Ticket sales for last summer's Test against Sri Lanka were disappointing and a compromise deal was reached which saw Glamorgan trade their Test for the Champions Trophy fixtures.

'Wales has earned an outstanding reputation for its ability to deliver world-class sporting events and we are delighted that Cardiff will be used as a host venue for the ICC Champions Trophy and stage a semi-final,' said Collier.

'Cardiff was originally scheduled to stage next summer's first Investec Test match against New Zealand and following further discussions between ECB, Glamorgan CCC, and MCC, this match will now be played at Lord's. We are grateful to both parties for their co-operation in this matter.'

2013 SUMMER DATES FOR NEW ZEALAND AND AUSTRALIA

New Zealand tour itinerary

May 4-6 v Derbyshire

May 9-12 v England Lions (Leicester)

May 16-20 v England (First Test, Lord's)

May 24-28 v England (Second Test, Headingley)

May 31 v England (First One-Day International, Lord's)

June 2 v England (Second ODI, Ageas Bowl)

June 5 v England (Third ODI, Trent Bridge)

June 22 v Kent (T20 warm-up, Canterbury)

June 25 v England (First T20 international, Oval)

June 27 v England (Second T20 international, Oval)

NB. T20 tour match at Canterbury on 22 June cancelled if NZ in Final of ICC Champions Trophy.

Champions Trophy

June 6-17 ICC Champions Trophy Group Stages

June 19-20 ICC Champions Trophy Semi-Finals

June 23 ICC Champions Trophy Final (Edgbaston)

Australia tour itinerary

June 26-29 v Somerset

July 2-5 v Worcestershire

July 10-14 v England (First Test, Trent Bridge)

July 18-22 v England (Second Test, Lord's)

July 26-28 v Sussex

Aug 1-5 v England (Third Test, Old Trafford)

AuG 9-13 v England (Fourth Test, Emirates Durham ICG)

Aug 16-17 v Northamptonshire

Aug 21-25 v England (Fifth Test, Oval)

Aug 29 v England (First T20, Ageas Bowl)

Aug 31 v England (Second T20, Emirates Durham ICG)

Sept 3 v Scotland (Edinburgh)

Sept 6 v England (First ODI, Headingley)

Sept 8 v England (Second ODI, Old Trafford)

Sept 11 v England (Third ODI, Edgbaston)

Sept 14 v England (Fourth ODI, SWALEC Stadium)

Sept 16 v England (Fifth ODI, Ageas Bowl)

Sept 3 Ireland v England (ODI, Dublin)

Swansea 0 Southampton 0 match report: With nothing to play for Swans and Saints play out draw

Swansea 0 Southampton 0: With nothing to play for Swans and Saints play out draw

PUBLISHED:

15:52 GMT, 20 April 2013

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UPDATED:

17:08 GMT, 20 April 2013

Southampton edged closer to Premier League survival as they ground out a goalless draw in a lacklustre encounter at Swansea.

The Saints may feel aggrieved they did not leave south Wales with all three points after Adam Lallana had an effort ruled out for handball after an error by Michel Vorm just before half-time.

Nathan Dyer went closest for the hosts as Maya Yoshida cleared his effort off the line, but in truth neither side showed sufficient quality in the final third to craft a winner in what was, for large parts, a tepid game.

Chalked off: Adam Lallana (right) sees his goal disallowed for a foul on Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm

Chalked off: Adam Lallana (right) sees his goal disallowed for a foul on Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm

MATCH FACTS

Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Britton, de Guzman, Hernandez (Ki 61), Michu, Dyer, Moore (Routledge 46).

Subs Not Used: Tremmel, Taylor, Monk, Shechter, Tiendalli.

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fox, Schneiderlin, Cork, Steven Davis, Lallana (Puncheon 77), Rodriguez (Mayuka 88), Lambert (Ramirez 63).

Subs Not Used: Kelvin Davis, Fonte, Ward-Prowse, Shaw.

Att: 20,561

Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).

Latest Premier League table and results

Not that Southampton will mind too much.

Mauricio Pochettino's side are now eight points clear of the drop zone, and are well-placed to secure survival having been written off in some quarters at the start of the season.

Swansea can also look forward to another top-flight season, but Michael Laudrup will be concerned that their campaign is tailing off as they equalled their previous longest winless run in the Premier League of five games.

Swansea had made a promising start, with their movement causing the visitors problems without creating any clear-cut opportunities.

The best early chance fell to Jonathan de Guzman. Pablo Hernandez's pull-back fell behind Michu to the Dutch international, but several Southampton defenders were out quickly to block.

Doing the splits: Swansea's Chico Flores (right) tackles Southampton captain Lallana

Doing the splits: Swansea's Chico Flores (right) tackles Southampton captain Lallana

Racing away: Nathaniel Clyne takes on Swansea full back Ben Davies

Racing away: Nathaniel Clyne takes on Swansea full back Ben Davies

Luke Moore then narrowly failed to get on the end of Dyer's cross as Saints struggled for a foothold in the early going.

But Pochettino's men grew into the game, with the industrious Jack Cork forcing Vorm into the game's first save with a hopeful effort from the edge of the box.

Vorm made an excellent stop to deny Jay Rodriguez after 25 minutes, getting down low to hold the volley after Rickie Lambert had teed up his colleague.

I'll have that: Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc (centre) claims the ball ahead of Luke Moore

I'll have that: Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc (centre) claims the ball ahead of Luke Moore

Vorm continued to be the busier
goalkeeper and had to be at full stretch to deny Lambert his 15th goal
of the season, the Dutchman tipping over a free-kick that was arrowing
into the top corner.

But the keeper blotted his copybook
seconds later, failing to hold a simple Rodriguez cross for Lallana to
bundle in, only for the whistle to go for handball against the Saints
midfielder.

Laudrup removed Moore at the break and introduced Wayne Routledge in a bid to find some inspiration.

Why Lallana asks the linesman why his goal was disallowed

Why Lallana asks the linesman why his goal was disallowed

PREMIER LEAGUE – AS IT STANDS

PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE

The change almost paid dividends just two
minutes after the resumption, but Michu could not keep his header down
from the winger's cross.

Hernandez engineered another promising situation on the hour as he skipped past Nathaniel Clyne and put a teasing ball across the six-yard box, but there were no white shirts lurking to tap in.

Swansea went closer still six minutes later.

Lallana let the ball run loose inside his own area and Michu pounced to set up Dyer, but Yoshida got himself in the right place to clear off the line.

Southampton dropped ever deeper and packed midfield as the pressure increased and Daniel Fox survived an ambitious handball appeal as he blocked substitute Ki Sung-yueng's volley.

Artur Boruc then made two excellent saves as he denied De Guzman and Dyer when the pair were in on goal.

And with time running out the visitors almost snatched a winner.

Ki was muscled off the ball by Steven Davis, but Vorm sharply held Emmanuel Mayuka's effort.

Well defended: Flores steers Jay Rodriguez away from danger

Well defended: Flores steers Jay Rodriguez away from danger

Tricky: Former Southampton trainee Nathan Dyer (left) cuts inside of Steven Davis

Tricky: Former Southampton trainee Nathan Dyer (left) cuts inside of Steven Davis

Sol Campbell joins Chris Coleman for Wales training as he does his coaching badges

Why is the Sol shining on Wales England legend Campbell checks in on Bale and co as he begins coaching badges

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

17:11 GMT, 25 March 2013

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UPDATED:

17:19 GMT, 25 March 2013

With Gareth Bale in their ranks, Wales need little help in the attacking department. But having conceded 12 goals in just five World Cup qualifying matches, it is perhaps no surprise Chris Coleman has just him some hired help in the shape of former Arsenal and England defender Sol Campbell.

The towering defender announced his retirement from playing earlier this year and revealed that he would begin earning his coaching badges.

Double, double, double trouble: Sol Campbell has been observing Wales training with Chris Coleman

Double, double, double trouble: Sol Campbell has been observing Wales training with Chris Coleman

Sol Campbell

Speaking in May, he said: 'I want to start sometime in the summer. But it's a slow burner that takes three to four years. The best thing is to get it done and over with. Eventually I want to get into something.

'But it's a long old stint to get your badges for the UK and then the UEFA badge.'

Point to prove: The former England defender retired from playing earlier this year

Point to prove: The former England defender retired from playing earlier this year

Point to prove: The former England defender retired from playing earlier this year

And now he has taking his first steps on the long road with Coleman's Wales, who on Tuesday host Croatia bidding to keep their World Cup 2014 hopes alive.

Campbell, who won two league titles and three FA Cups during his playing career as well as winning 73 caps for England, was a keen observer as Bale and co were put through their paces in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Arsenal's Sol Campbell

Sol Campbell

Sol man: Campbell enjoyed a stellar career for club and country, winning titles and caps throughout

Sol Campbell

Northampton approach Scarlets over move for Wales winger George North

Northampton approach Scarlets over move for Wales winger North

PUBLISHED:

20:22 GMT, 19 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:23 GMT, 19 March 2013

George North's agent has revealed the Scarlets and Northampton are in talks over a possible move for the Wales winger.

The giant three-quarter has one year left on his contract with the west Wales region, and helped Wales retain their RBS 6 Nations crown with a record 30-3 victory over England in Cardiff.

The 20-year-old has previously been linked with a move to France, where several members of the current Wales squad ply their trade, but his agent, Christian Abt confirmed discussions are being held with the Saints.

Targeted: Wales international George North could join the Premiership

Targeted: Wales international George North could join the Premiership

He told the BBC: 'There has been an approach between the two clubs to discuss a possible transfer.'

'I don't think it will drag on too long,' he added.

'I think these things need to happen quite quickly if it's going to happen so that each party knows where they stand.

'It's counter-productive to sort of drag on and for the player as well to know where he will be, so ideally I'm sure it will resolve itself in the next couple of weeks.'

Six Nations winner: North is among Wales' key players

Six Nations winner: North is among Wales' key players

If a move is completed North, widely expected to feature on the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia, would become the latest Wales player to opt to play club rugby outside the principality.

Mike Phillips (Bayonne), James Hook (Perpignan), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Aled Brew (Biarritz), Lee Byrne (Clermont) and Paul James (Bath) have already moved, while Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate are set to cross the Channel this summer.

The Scarlets said they would not discuss players' contracts publicly when contacted by Press Association Sport, while Northampton also declined to comment on Abt's remarks.

Fraizer Campbell joins Cardiff City from Sunderland

Cardiff sign Campbell in bid for goals to fire them to top flight

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

16:12 GMT, 21 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:40 GMT, 21 January 2013

Enlarge

On the move: Campbell has joined Cardiff from Sunderland

On the move: Campbell has joined Cardiff

Cardiff have signed Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell on a three-and-a-half-year deal.

The 25-year-old England forward, moves to South Wales for an undisclosed fee having scored 10 times in 72 Sunderland appearances since joining from Manchester United.

Campbell came through the youth ranks at Old Trafford before signing as a professional for Sir Alex Ferguson's side in 2006.

He spent loan spells with Antwerp and
Tottenham but really made a name for himself at Hull, scoring 15 goals
in 32 starts and helping them reach the top flight.

Campbell says goodbye (via Twitter)

'Thanks for having me Sunderland it's been emotional I will miss it all. All the best for the rest of the season lads #hawaythelads'

After recovering from injury he made his
full England debut against Holland 11 months ago but has scored just
once in 15 appearances this season for the Black Cats.

Despite Cardiff sitting 10 points clear at the top of the Championship, none of their forwards have scored on a regular basis.

Heidar Helguson is their top scorer with just seven goals in 24 starts.

New start: Campbell's career never properly took off at Sunderland

New start: Campbell's career never properly took off at Sunderland

Nicole Cooke retires from cycling and attacks drug cheats

When Lance cries on Oprah spare a thought for those who walked away with shattered dreams: Golden girl Cooke slams drug cheats after retiring from cycling

.

Cooke had thought she could put an indifferent four years behind her and mount a defence of her title, but finished only 31st.

The time between Beijing and London
was marked by a spat with Armitstead at the 2011 World Championships,
when Cooke was accused of riding 'for herself', rather than the team.

The duo put that behind them before again being team-mates at last summer's Olympics.

Armitstead was among the first to pay
tribute to Cooke, writing on Twitter: 'Congratulations to Nicole Cooke
on a fantastic career!'

British Cycling president Brian Cookson said: 'There is no doubt that Nicole has been a pioneering force in women's cycling.

'British Cycling owes a huge debt of gratitude to her and wish her all the best.'

COOKE REPORT – A LIFE ON THE ROAD

Team-mate: Elizabeth Armitstead and Nicole Cooke

1983 – Born April 13, Swansea, Wales.

2000 – Wins gold medals in World Championship junior road races in France and Spain.

2001 – Continues that success with further wins in junior race and time-trial in Portugal.Awarded the Bidlake Memorial Prize, given for outstanding performance or contribution to the betterment of cycling.

2002 – Wins gold medal in women’s road race at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

2003 – Wins the women’s road race World Cup, the youngest to do so and the first Briton. Named BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year.

2004 – Becomes the youngest winner of the Giro d’Italia Femminile.

August – Finishes fifth in road race in the Athens Olympics.

2006 – Wins the bronze medal in the road race at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
September – Wins road race World Cup for the second time.

2008 – August – Wins gold medal in road race at the Beijing Olympics, Britain’s first medal of the Games.

September – Becomes first cyclist to win World Championships and Olympics in same year with victory in Varese, Italy.

2009: June – Wins Giro del Trentino, before triumphing in British Championships road race for the ninth time.

2010: June – Beaten into third place as Emma Pooley wins British Championships.

September – Fourth in World Championships road race.

October – Fifth in Commonwealth Games road race.

2011: June – Fourth in British Championships as Lizzie Armitstead wins.

July – Wins Giro D’Italia stage five.

September – Has a well-publicised spat with Armitstead, who was
nominated leader at World Championships but accused Cooke of riding 'for
herself'.

2012: June – Sixth at British Championships road race.

July – Finishes 31st in defence of her Olympic title as Armitstead (above) claims
Britain’s first medal of London 2012, a silver behind Marianne Vos of
Holland.

September – Finishes 60th as Vos wins the world title in Limburg, Holland.

2013: January 14 – Announces retirement.

Warren Gatland discusses Lions selection

It wouldn't bother me if I picked 15 English players, says Lions head coach Gatland

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 29 December 2012

Warren Gatland will travel to Australia from his New Zealand home this week as his quest to become the first British and Irish Lions head coach in 16 years to win a Test series begins in earnest.

The 49-year-old former All Black hooker and current Wales head coach, a man who helped Waikato to a 38-10 win over the Lions in 1993, plans to share a beer with fellow Kiwi and Wallaby head coach Robbie Deans when the Lions backroom staff conduct a reconnaissance trip Down Under before returning ahead of a Six Nations tournament that will define his squad selection.

There are so many questions to be answered, such as the make-up of the back row. ‘Can you pick it’ Gatland asks. ‘Because right now I haven’t got a clue.’

Fill the shirt: Head coach Warren Gatland is planning a recce Down Under before picking his Lions squad

Fill the shirt: Head coach Warren Gatland is planning a recce Down Under before picking his Lions squad

But in many areas the former Ireland coach, who also led Wasps to domestic and European success and twice guided Wales to Grand Slams, has made up his mind.

Take the composition of the squad. ‘I’d imagine there will be 35 players made up of a 19 to 16 split between forwards and backs, possibly 20 to 15,’ he reveals. ‘We’ll have three hookers, three 9s, three 10s and an extra prop. It means that in nearly all other positions there’ll be two players fighting it out for one spot.’

Gatland is adamant all four home nations will be represented in the squad, but all politics will go out of the window when it comes to the Test starting XV. ‘It wouldn’t bother me if I picked 15 Englishmen if I thought they were best equipped to beat Australia,’ he says. ‘I don’t think the make-up of the team is the main criteria for getting the job done, although I believe all four nations should have representations in the squad for the morale of the tour. That’s why I hope that Scotland enjoy a good Six Nations because I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn to say representation for the Scots is challenging.’

In deciding his best approach, Gatland has sought advice from two of his predecessors; Sir Ian McGeechan, his boss on the 2009 tour to South Africa that ended in narrow defeat, and fellow Kiwi Graham Henry, who was also Wales coach when he led an ultimately unsuccessful tour to Australia in 2001.

Lion's share: England will be represented in the starting XV

Lion's share: England will be represented in the starting XV

Lion's share: England will be represented in the starting XV

‘Graham told me that coaching the Lions gave him some of the most valuable lessons he ever learned, lessons that he put to good use when he won the World Cup last year for New Zealand,’ says Gatland. ‘He also boosted my confidence by saying how I’m miles more experienced than he was at this point. He was appointed Lions coach 18 months after taking over in Wales. I’ve been coaching in the Northern Hemisphere for the vast majority of the last 24 years.

‘New Zealand try to claim me as a Kiwi coach but, while I was a Kiwi player, I’m most definitely a Northern Hemisphere coach, and very proud to be so.’

The memories of four years ago when Gatland, as forwards coach under McGeechan, saw the Lions lose narrowly are still raw. ‘I’m still hurting from that,’ he says. ‘I recall the tiniest of details, like a lineout the ref deemed wasn’t straight to a Bryan Habana try. I’ll swear until my very last day it was straight.

‘And I’ll never know how Schalk Burger wasn’t sent off, or at the very least sent to the bin, for gouging in the second Test.

‘But I’m proud of what we achieved in 2009 when we put the pride back into the Lions jersey, and regained the respect from the rest of world rugby.’

Second coming: Gatland was part of the Lions coaching team in 2009

Second coming: Gatland was part of the Lions coaching team in 2009

This is in reference to the ill-fated tour of New Zealand in 2005 when Sir Clive Woodward split management and playing staff into midweek and Test groups, resulting in a 3-0 series whitewash.

Gatland, in the forefront of the modern game when it comes to coaching Wales, is more of a traditionalist with the Lions.

‘You have to be more old school for a scratch team who meet up the day after many have played in cup finals and who have been kicking lumps out of each other just a few weeks before,’ he says.

‘Every member of the squad will get to start one of the first three games. That way they won’t throw their toys out of the pram like they did in 2005. It will be good for squad morale.

‘Likewise, I’ll make sure we have a few beers. We’ll have to get the balance right – obviously what happened with England at the World Cup didn’t work out too well – but it’s important the boys enjoy each other’s company and bond.’

For now, Gatland has to choose the right players. He intends to see all four countries as much as possible during the Six Nations, starting with England against Scotland at Twickenham on February 2. He also plans to watch training, although he is wary of his ties with Wales.

Class of 2013: Gatland with his coaches (L-R) Graham Rowntree, Rob Howley and Andy Farrell

Class of 2013: Gatland with his coaches (L-R) Graham Rowntree, Rob Howley and Andy Farrell

‘Stuart Lancaster has offered to let me spend a day watching England train, as has Declan Kidney with Ireland,’ he says. ‘It’s important people feel comfortable and know me well enough to realise I’m not going to go running back to Wales with trade secrets. That would insult me and the coaches’ integrity. If anything, my problem is trying not to be too hard on the Welsh to prove I’m totally unbiased.

‘The coach’s input is vital. I know the players and I can see their stats but I’ll need help to choose the right personalities, an ingredient just as important on a Lions tour.’

He wants consistency from all contenders during the Six Nations, something which has been lacking.

‘If I’d picked the squad after the 2012 Six Nations then there would have been a lot of Welsh Grand Slam winners in it,’ he adds. ‘After the autumn this wouldn’t be the case. If I have the England win over New Zealand in mind then a lot of those guys put their hand up.

‘If we get it right on and off the field we will have a hell of a team, and if that’s the case then we’ll beat Australia. It’s my job now to make sure that happens.’

Gareth Bale booked for diving, banned for one match

Fifth yellow of season for Bale as alleged diving earns Spurs winger one-match ban

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UPDATED:

15:09 GMT, 29 December 2012

Gareth Bale received his fifth yellow card of the season for alleged diving and will miss Tottenham's Barclays Premier League clash with Fulham.

The Wales winger has been subject of number of controversial bookings this season for supposed simulation.

The incident came in the 81st minute when the midfielder raced into the box, only to tumble over as he was about to shoot.

Contact: Bale was definitely clipped by Gardner as he raced into the box

Contact: Bale was definitely clipped by Gardner as he raced into the box

Referee Martin Atkinson added to his
total during the clash with Sunderland, despite replays showing there
was contact with Craig Gardner.

Bale looked aghast at the official's decision which means all of his five cautions this season have been for diving – more than any other player in the Premier League.

Bale said after the match: 'This is the third time this season that it has happened, getting booked after being clipped.

'There's nothing I can do. The referees need to take a closer look at what is happening.'

You sure, ref Bale remonstrated with the official after being booked

You sure, ref Bale remonstrated with the official after being booked

Mark Ramprakash named Middlesex batting coach

England old boy Ramprakash named Middlesex batting coach

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UPDATED:

18:58 GMT, 19 December 2012

Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash has been appointed batting coach at Middlesex for the next two years.

Ramprakash, 43, retired from playing in July after losing his place in the Surrey team following a lean spell of form and takes up the coaching post with the county that gave him his break in cricket.

He played for Middlesex from 1987 to 2000 and had a period as captain, before moving across London to join Surrey.

All smiles: Ramprakash has been appointed batting coach at Middlesex

All smiles: Ramprakash has been appointed batting coach at Middlesex

During his spell at The Oval he passed the career landmark of 100 first-class centuries, reaching 114 in total.

Ramprakash also recently agreed to take on a two-year consultancy with the England and Wales Cricket Board as a batting coach and has been in India with the England Lions.

End of the road: Ramprakash retired earlier this year

End of the road: Ramprakash retired earlier this year

Middlesex are relishing his return to Lord's, with his former county and international team-mate Angus Fraser, now Middlesex's director of cricket, saying: 'I am thrilled to have Mark back at Middlesex CCC.

'It is my job to provide Middlesex's cricketers with the best possible coaching, support and advice available and in Mark Ramprakash they have that.'

Ramprakash takes over from Australian Mark O'Neill, who announced last month he was leaving Middlesex after a three-year stint.

Fraser said: 'Mark Ramprakash will offer our batsmen something different. His record speaks for itself and in the past 25 years there has not been a better batsman in county cricket.

'Mark moved from Middlesex to Surrey in 2000, but I never felt his heart left the club.' Ramprakash said: 'Middlesex is the club that gave me the chance to achieve what I have in cricket and I am delighted to be able to return to work with and help the current and next generation of Middlesex cricketers.

'I am excited by the talent in the current crop of players and look forward to contributing to the club.'

Michu given hope of Spain call-up by Vicente del Bosque

Uncapped Michu given hope of shock Spain call-up as Del Bosque heaps praise on 'superb' Swansea star

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UPDATED:

13:54 GMT, 19 December 2012

Vicente del Bosque has given Michu hope of earning his first international cap after the Spain manager lauded Swansea star.

Michu has set the Premier League alight since joining the
Welsh club from Rayo Vallecano for a paltry 2million this summer.

He currently sits joint first in the league top scorers’ list, alongside Manchester United's Robin van Persie, with 12 goals.

On fire: Vicente del Bosque has noticed Michu's rise to prominence with Swansea in the Premier League

On fire: Vicente del Bosque has noticed Michu's rise to prominence with Swansea in the Premier League

No Spanish player has scored more goals than the attacking
midfielder-cum-striker in any top-flight division in Europe, and Del Bosque,
who will be selecting his Spain squad to face Finland and France in March next year,
says the 26-year-old’s goalscoring prowess hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The former Real Madrid manager, who plans to make a trip to South Wales next month to watch Michu, told Spanish newspaper Marca: ‘Michu
deserves to be credited for his superb season.

‘The way he has stood out in the league at a club like
Swansea, which is not one of the top clubs, is exceptional.

‘He’s not an out-and-out striker and has been scoring a lot
of goals like he did for Rayo Vallecano.’

Michu’s hopes of playing for his country have also been
boosted by the fact that fellow strikers David Villa and Fernando Llorente have
been forced to watch from the sidelines for much of this season.

City and Tottenham target Llorente is attempting to engineer a move away from Athletic Bilbao in January, but the club’s president Josu
Urrutia moved to quash reports the wantaway hitman will make the trip to
England in the New Year.

Del Bosque said of the two forwards: ‘Llorente said he wants
to leave and you can see why Athletic de Bilbao cannot understand. Villa's
situation is not so problematic.

‘Bara has a lot of great players. I'm sure David will play
sooner or later, because a manager always plays his best players.’

Rubbing shoulders with stars: Vicente Del Bosque was next to Cristiano Ronaldo as the pair attended the National Sports Awards ceremony at El Pardo Palace in Madrid

Rubbing shoulders with stars: Vicente Del Bosque was next to Cristiano Ronaldo as the pair attended the National Sports Awards ceremony at El Pardo Palace in Madrid

Prolific: Michu has notched up 12 Premier League goals this season, making him the joint top scorer with Robin van Persie

Prolific: Michu has notched up 12 Premier League goals this season, making him the joint top scorer with Robin van Persie

Despite the problems with Villa and Llorente, Michu could
still struggle to force his way into the team, even if he does keep scoring at
a remarkable rate.

On a number of occasions in Spain’s winning European
Championships 2012 campaign, Del Bosque opted to start without a striker.

Although Michu also plays in midfield, the Swansea man has the unenviable task of competing with Barcelona quartet Cesc Fabregas, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio
Busquets and Real Madrid’s sitting midfielder Xabi Alonso for those positions.

The competition: Fernando Llorente is trying to force through a move from Athletic Bilbao in January

The competition: Fernando Llorente is trying to force through a move from Athletic Bilbao in January