Tag Archives: winter

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

|

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

Cheltenham Festival 2013: Day one inspection at 10.30am due winter weather

Concern on day one at Cheltenham with early morning inspection set after parts of the course are left frozen by winter weather

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

07:04 GMT, 12 March 2013

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UPDATED:

08:15 GMT, 12 March 2013

Cheltenham will hold an inspection at 10.30am today ahead of what is predicted to be the coldest-ever start to the Festival.

Although the covers were put down at the track over the weekend, officials report the track to be frozen in a few places this morning after a wind chill of -12C overnight.

Over 55,000 spectators are expected to
attend the first day of the meeting when nine horses, including three
previous winners – Binocular, Hurricane Fly and reigning champion Rock
On Ruby – will line up in the Champion Hurdle.

Bleak: Cheltenham will host an inspection after temperatures plummeted to -12C overnight

Bleak: Cheltenham will host an inspection after temperatures plummeted to -12C overnight

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Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said: 'We are frozen in places but it seems to be small areas. We can't really tell the extent of the frozen areas until we start to take the covers up.

'If the weather does what we expect it to and the temperature gets up to 3C by 12 noon, we should be kicking off as planned at 1.30pm.

'The wind chill dropped to -12C overnight and it was still -9C at 5am today.

'The is sun is out now and if we get an hour or two of sunshine on it, it should start to move.

'If we get some cloud cover, the rate at which that will happen will obviously slow.'

Frozen: As many as 55,000 spectators are expected to arrive for the opening day of the Festival

Frozen: As many as 55,000 spectators are expected to arrive for the opening day of the Festival

Claisse says he remains 'optimistic' about the meeting going ahead as planned.

He told Channel 4's The Morning Line: '90 per cent of the course is fine but obviously we can't clear it as fit to race until it's 100 per cent OK.

'(The problem areas) tend to be on some of the take-offs and landings and some of the wider ground. We have got fresh ground seven or eight yards on the inside, but you just have to be a bit careful of a horse that's going wide.

'It's on those areas that were worn a little bit in October, November and December, that's where the frost has got in under the covers.

'We will look at everything we can possibly do to ensure the meeting goes ahead. If we have to, we will go round any fences or hurdles.

Covered up: Cheltenham remain confident that racing will go ahead on the first day of the Festival

Covered up: Cheltenham remain confident that racing will go ahead on the first day of the Festival

'We are not running on the cross
country course until 4pm this afternoon and the afternoon temperature is
4C or 5C, so it may take a little bit longer to get fit when the sun
comes out, but should be OK by 4.

'I remain optimistic but you just
never quite know what is happening with this weather. Our experiences
last night were beyond anything we've seen before.'

The process of lifting the covers is
expected to be completed by 1.15pm with the traditional curtain raiser,
the William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle, due off 15 minutes later.

Lindsey Vonn in horror ski crash in Austria – pictures and video

American skier Vonn airlifted to hospital with leg injury after horror crash in Austria

PUBLISHED:

14:58 GMT, 5 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:52 GMT, 5 February 2013

Lindsey Vonn was taken to a hospital by helicopter after crashing and suffering serious injuries in the super-G race at the World Ski Championships.

Vonn, a four-time overall World Cup champion, lost balance on her right leg while landing after a jump. Her ski came off immediately, and Vonn slid off course and hit a gate before coming to a halt.

The American received medical treatment on the slope for 12 minutes before being taken to the hospital.

US Ski Team medical director Kyle Wilkens said she was suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in her right knee, plus a lateral tibial plateau fracture.

Scroll down for video

Crash: American skier Lindsey Vonn was airlifted to hospital after a horror crash in the women's Super G race at the World Alpine Skiing Championships in Schladming, Austria this afternoon

Crash: American skier Lindsey Vonn was airlifted to hospital after a horror crash in the women's Super G race at the World Alpine Skiing Championships in Schladming, Austria this afternoon

Speed: Vonn lost balance on her right leg while jumping and her ski flew off straight away. She appeared to land on her right knee

Speed: Vonn lost balance on her right leg while jumping and her ski flew off straight away. She appeared to land on her right knee

Airlift: Vonn received 12 minutes of treatment on the slopes before being taken away by helicopter

Airlift: Vonn received 12 minutes of treatment on the slopes before being taken away by helicopter

Lindsey Vonn airlifted to hospital after crash

A statement on the US Ski Team’s official website confirmed: 'She will be out for the remainder of this season but is expected to return to racing for the 2013-14 Audi FIS World Cup season and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.'

The crash came almost exactly one year before the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Recovery scene: The hospital where Vonn is being treated after being airlifted (below)

Recovery scene: The hospital where Vonn is being treated after being airlifted (below)

Airlifted to hospital

Airlifted to hospital

Vonn returned to the circuit last
month after taking an almost month-long break from racing to fully
recover from an intestinal illness that put her in a hospital for two
days in November.

It was recently reported that Vonn had hired bodyguards to handle the increased media scrutiny of her personal life after rumours she was dating golfer Tiger Woods.

VIDEO: Vonn receives treatment on the slopes

Shock: Tina Maze of Slovenia, the race leader, reacts after seeing the crash on the big screen

Shock: Tina Maze of Slovenia, the race leader, reacts after seeing the crash on the big screen

Rescue: Vonn received medical attention on the piste before being flown to hospital

Rescue: Vonn received medical attention on the piste before being flown to hospital

The helicopter carrying skier Lindsey Vonn to hospital

Poster girl: Vonn's personal life has been the subject of increasing media attention in the States

Poster girl: Vonn's personal life has been the subject of increasing media attention in the States

Pin-up girl: Vonn pictured at a Tiger Woods Foundation event in Last Vegas in April last year

Pin-up girl: Vonn pictured at a Tiger Woods Foundation event in Last Vegas in April last year

Vonn trailed Tina Maze of Slovenia, who won gold, by 0.12 seconds shortly before the crash.

Maze won the race in 1 minute, 35.39 seconds, beating Lara Gut of Switzerland by 0.38. Julia Mancuso of the United States came 0.52 behind in third.

The race, which was postponed for 3 hours because of fog, continued after another 15-minute delay.

Several racers struggled with the conditions.

'It's not a very difficult course but in some parts you couldn't see anything,' Fabienne Suter of Switzerland said.

American skier Lindsey Vonn

Win: Vonn smiles after winning the giant slalom event in Maribor, Slovenia, last week

Win: Vonn smiles after winning the giant slalom event in Maribor, Slovenia, last week

Lindsey Vonn, of the United States, celebrates at finish line after winning an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom, in Maribor, Slovenia

Lindsey Vonn, of the United States, celebrates at finish line after winning an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom, in Maribor, Slovenia

Manchester United stuck with dodgy pitch meaning Real Madrid will have to play on mudbath

Real Madrid will have to play on Old Trafford mudbath as Fergie admits title-chasing United left stuck with dodgy pitch

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

23:34 GMT, 30 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:51 GMT, 31 January 2013

Manchester United are stuck with their deteriorating Old Trafford pitch until the end of the season after the club decided not to rip it up before the summer.

United’s playing surface has been in a mess since the wet Manchester weather before Christmas and now represents something of a rutted sandpit after being dried out by a period of frost and cold weather.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was damning in his criticism of the pitch after his team struggled to beat Southampton 2-1 in the Barclays Premier League on Wednesday night but it is understood that the club’s ground staff have advised there is no way it can be replaced mid-season.

They've got their work cut out: Manchester United's pitch has been left a mess by the winter weather

They've got their work cut out: Manchester United's pitch has been left a mess by the winter weather

Ferguson said after the match: 'We found the pitch difficult to play on. Southampton won a lot of 50-50 balls as our players looked to take a touch.

'We watered the pitch before the game but once it dried out in the second half it became difficult.

'We couldn’t play our normal game on it and its really becoming a problem for us.'

Life's a pitch: United struggled on the surface during the win against Southampton, said Sir Alex Ferguson

Life's a pitch: United struggled on the surface during the win against Southampton, said Sir Alex Ferguson

Turf wars: The pitch can clearly be seen churning up during Wednesday's match at Old Trafford

Turf wars: The pitch can clearly be seen churning up during Wednesday's match at Old Trafford

With United looking to cement their position at the top of the Premier League in coming weeks and due to face Real Madrid at Old Trafford in the Champions League on March 5, Ferguson would certainly like his team to have a better surface to play on and it is not unknown for clubs to relay surfaces during a season.

It seems, however, that United will have to make the best of things until the summer.

Do I really have to play on that pitch Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid come to Old Trafford on March 5

Do I really have to play on that pitch Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid come to Old Trafford on March 5

Lewis Holtby to join Tottenham now from Schalke

Holtby to complete Spurs medical after 1.5m fee is agreed to sign Schalke star NOW

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

11:53 GMT, 28 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:01 GMT, 28 January 2013

Lewis Holtby is heading to White Hart Lane in the next 24 hours after Tottenham finally agreed a deal to sign him now, rather than at the end of the season.

The Germany midfielder is flying over to London to complete the deal, after Tottenham gave way over Schalke’s 1.5million asking price and also agreed to play a money-spinning friendly with the Bundesliga club at a date to be announced later this year.

On the move: Lewis Holtby (right) will join Tottenham in this transfer window

On the move: Lewis Holtby (right) will join Tottenham in this transfer window

First again…

Sportsmail broke the story that Tottenham wanted to sign Lewis Holtby this month – read more

Sportsmail revealed earlier this month how an injury to Sandro had forced Tottenham to reconsider their plans over Holtby, who was due to join them as a free agent in the summer, and approach Schalke with a cut-price bid to sign him during the current transfer window.

Their initial offer was rejected, as Schalke set their valuation at 1.5m and underlined their determination to stick to it by selecting the attacking midfielder for their return to Bundesliga action, after a mid-winter break, against Hannover.

Early bird: Holtby had originally been due to arrive in the summer

Early bird: Holtby had originally been due to arrive in the summer

But with Sandro ruled out for the rest of the season after being injured against QPR, and manager Andre Villas-Boas underlining the need for reinforcements, Tottenham have relented over the fee and agreed to Schalke’s demands.

Rami Gershon is on the verge of signing for Celtic

Gershon arrives in Glasgow to hammer out a deal with Celtic

By
Mark Wilson

PUBLISHED:

20:14 GMT, 3 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:20 GMT, 3 January 2013

Rami Gershon last night arrived in Glasgow and spoke of his thrill at the chance to join Celtic.

The Israeli international defender, capped 10 times by his country, touched down at 5pm and will hold talks with the Parkhead club tomorrow to finalise his switch.

It is expected that Gershon will sign on loan from Standard Liege until the end of the season, with Celtic holding the option of an 800,000 transfer.

On the move: Israel defender Rami Gershon (centre) is a target for Celtic and has arrived in Glasgow to discuss a possible move

On the move: Israel defender Rami Gershon (centre) is a target for Celtic and has arrived in Glasgow to discuss a possible move

An 18-month permanent deal could,
however, emerge as an alternative for a player under contract in Belgium
until the summer of 2014.

Celtic's Beram Kayal

Celtic's Beram Kayal

Gershon made limited first-team appearances for Standard but had a successful loan spell at Pro-League rivals Kortrijk.

‘I am very happy to be here,’ he said
last night. ‘I am very excited about the opportunity to play for Celtic
and I just hope everything can be sorted out tomorrow. Then I can say
more.

‘Beram Kayal is a good friend of mine,
but I have not yet spoken to him about Celtic. Everything happened so
quickly that I could not find the time. But in the past he has told me
only good things.’

The 24-year-old, who can play at
centre-back or left-back, is being drafted in to bolster Celtic’s
defensive options ahead of their Champions League last-16 tie with
Juventus next month.

Efe Ambrose could be on duty with Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations until early February, while Kelvin Wilson will miss the first two matches following the winter break after yesterday being landed with an SFA suspension for his clash with Dundee’s John Baird.

Gershon’s agent Dudu Dahan, who brought both Ambrose and Kayal to Parkhead, is confident a deal for the player will be signed off today.

‘Normally, there should not be a problem, but nothing is finished until it is finished,’ said Dahan.

Options: Celtic boss Neil Lennon is hoping to improve his squad as they prepare for a Champions league clash with Juventus

Options: Celtic boss Neil Lennon is hoping to improve his squad as they prepare for a Champions league clash with Juventus

‘We have to respect Celtic and wait until it is all completed. There is nothing to consider as a player if a club like Celtic decides to call you.

‘You get on a plane and you get there. That is what we have done.’

Dahan also represents Nigeria left-back Juwon Oshinawa, who was
yesterday linked with a potential move to Parkhead through reports in
his homeland.

The agent offered a terse ‘no comment’ when asked about potential
interest in the 22-year-old, who is currently preparing, alongside
Ambrose, to represent his country.

Banned: Wilson is to miss two matches

Banned: Wilson is to miss two matches

Meanwhile, Celtic manager Neil Lennon tonight expressed his
disappointment with the Fast Track Tribunal’s decision regarding Wilson,
after the player lost his appeal against his two-match ban.

The defender had been charged with violent conduct after catching Baird
with an elbow during his side’s 2-0 victory over Dundee at Dens Park on
Boxing Day.

Wilson will now sit out the SPL games with Hearts and St Johnstone later this month.

‘Clearly we are very disappointed with today’s decision and, unfortunately, there is no right of appeal available,’ said Lennon.

‘We find it disappointing that Kelvin has been found guilty of violent
conduct, particularly when the other player involved has stated that it
was an accidental incident.’

Tito Vilanova returns to Barcelona training

Recovering Vilanova back at training to help Barca prepare for fiery Espanyol derby

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

11:52 GMT, 2 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:52 GMT, 2 January 2013

Barcelona have been handed a New Year boost as manager Tito Vilanova returned to training this morning just two weeks after undergoing surgery.

He suffered a recurrence of cancer in his saliva glands and temporarily stepped down from his post.

But Vilanova was pictured at the training ground ahead of Sunday's derby against Espanyol.

Looking well: Tito Vilanova poses with his son Adria after playing paddle

Looking well: Tito Vilanova poses with his son Adria after playing paddle

Club President Sandro Rosell had expected the coach to return to work in the middle of January but Vilanova's son, Adria, posted a picture with his father on his Twitter account after the pair played paddle on New Year’s Eve.

The picture appeared alongside the tweet: ‘Happy New Year to all! This afternoon I fired the year with a game of paddle with a special person.’

Barcelona went into the winter break in outstanding form, having dropped just two points in 17 league matches under Vilanova's stewardship after he succeeded Chelsea target Pep Guardiola in the summer.

In the bag: Barcelona are clear at the top of the La Liga title

In the bag: Barcelona are clear at the top of the La Liga title

Gotta keep the best! Pietersen takes to Twitter to demand Chelsea"s Lampard is given a new contract

Gotta keep the best! Pietersen takes to Twitter to demand Chelsea's Lampard is given a new contract

PUBLISHED:

23:21 GMT, 30 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

23:21 GMT, 30 December 2012

As someone who knows how it feels to be instrumental to a team's fortunes but be ushered out, it's perhaps no wonder Kevin Pietersen took to Twitter to remind everyone of the virtues of Frank Lampard on Sunday night.

The England batsman and Chelsea fan took delight in Lampard's outstanding performance – and two goals – in Sunday's 2-1 win at Everton and urged owner Roman Abramovich to renew his contract when it expires at the end of the season.

He wrote: 'Lamps shows who the boss is today.. YOU DARE, Roman! #gottakeepthebest' and posted it just after watching a re-run of the Chelsea win on Match of the Day 2.

Support: England cricketer Kevin Pietersen took to Twitter to demand Chelsea's Frank Lampard be offered a new contract

Support: England cricketer Kevin Pietersen (below) took to Twitter to demand Chelsea's Frank Lampard be offered a new contract

England batsman Kevin Pietersen

The hashtag could be interpreted as a reference to his own reintegration to the England cricket squad after being outcast during the summer Test series with South Africa for allegedly sending defamatory text message to members of the opposition squad.

Pietersen was forced to make an apology to his captain Andrew Strauss, coach Andy Flower and other teammates after the text messages emerged and was reinstated for the tour of India this winter.

Food for thought: Lampard's double in an excellent performance at Goodison Park may prompt the Chelsea hierarchy to rethink not offering him a new contract in the summer

Food for thought: Lampard's double in an excellent performance at Goodison Park may prompt the Chelsea hierarchy to rethink not offering him a new contract in the summer

Lampard, 34, is out of contract at Stamford Bridge at the end of this season and, with negotiations over a new deal seemingly a non-starter, his two goals against Everton were a timely reminder of his undiminished abilities.

Pietersen is no stranger to airing his views on Chelsea's fortunes on Twitter – in November 2011, he called then manager Andre Villas-Boas a 'muppet' and gave him six months in the job. This turned out to be true, with the Portuguese sacked a few months later.

Andy Murray won"t complain about OBE

OBE The fantasy league is my goal, says Murray on back of stunning year

|

UPDATED:

00:17 GMT, 30 December 2012

Andy Murray would have every right to feel aggrieved for receiving ‘only’ an OBE in the New Year’s honours, but you will not find Britain’s best tennis player complaining about it — his focus is firmly on 2013, when he says his main aim, aside from winning matches, will be to retain his Fantasy Football title.

Murray’s historic 2012 included Olympic singles gold and the US Open title (the first Slam title by a British man for 76 years) in tennis’s greatest era for quality bar none, as well as being voted into third place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Yet Murray’s OBE was two tiers down from the award handed to Bradley Wiggins (knighthood), a tier below the CBEs handed to Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Kath Grainger, and on the same level as up-and-coming cyclist Laura Trott and dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin.

Main man: Andy Murray was honoured with an OBE after his winning season

Main man: Andy Murray was honoured with an OBE after his winning season

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Murray, 25, will be unruffled because his sport comes ahead of any resulting baubles, although he has already been installed as the favourite to win the SPOTY award in 2013. England cricketer Alastair Cook is second favourite in what will be Ashes year, ahead of Ennis, Farah and Chris Froome, a possible winner of the 2013 Tour de France with Team Sky.

Murray outlined his 2013 targets, including retaining the fantasy league title he contests among friends, in a debut Twitter forum hosted by football’s world governing body, FIFA.

In the same session, Sir Geoff Hurst invited Murray to watch England play football in 2013 — and Murray accepted. Murray also disclosed that ‘purely on satisfaction’ his Olympic gold meant more to him than his US Open title.

He also said that if he had not been a tennis player, his dream would have been to play football for Arsenal, rather than Hibernian, the Edinburgh team he supports.

Jess a Twitter millionairess

Jessica Ennis’s army of Twitter followers reached the one million mark on Christmas Eve, prompting the heptathlon star to tweet: ‘That’s mad! Thanks guys. I’d better start tweeting some interesting stuff.’

Golden moment: Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon at the London Games

Golden moment: Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon at the London Games

Ennis becomes only the third British Olympian to pass 1m followers after diver Tom Daley, who has 2.1m people following his tweets, and Andy Murray, with 1.33m. Mo Farah (710,000) is next closest to the tally, Sir Chris Hoy is on 430,000, Becky Adlington has 311,000, Victoria Pendleton attracts 237,000 and gymnast — and ‘Strictly’ winner — Louis Smith is on 195,000.

These numbers are dwarfed by Britain’s best-followed footballers Wayne Rooney (5.5m) and Rio Ferdinand (3.7m).

Mum Julie flies to Crowe’s nest

Four Yorkshire brothers, who have all been signed to play for the Sydney-based rugby league club owned by film star Russell Crowe, will celebrate the New Year as a family after their mother, Julie, flew to Australia to begin a new life Down Under with them last week.

England and Great Britain international Sam Burgess, 24, as well as older brother Luke, 25, and twin siblings George and Tom, 20, have been signed by the South Sydney Rabbitohs, owned by Crowe, 48, since 2006.

Helping hand: Russell Crowe

Helping hand: Russell Crowe

Widowed Julie has been a friend of Crowe’s since the club signed Sam in 2009, with the other brothers following. ‘He’s always very hospitable and looks after the boys. He loves being part of our family, he likes to look after us,’ said Ms Burgess earlier this year.

Once in Sydney, she tweeted: ‘Hello Australia! I’ve arrived and couldn’t be happier!’

Sam Burgess has played down suggestions of a romance between Crowe, who recently split from his wife, and his mother, insisting they are ‘just mates’.

BT warned

Sunset+Vine, the award-winning company who have bagged the contract to produce the live sports programming for BT’s new sports channel, including Premier League games from summer 2013, will face financial penalties in the event of any broadcasting cock-ups, say sources.

BT are desperate for their new content to be perfect and a schedule of fines is aimed at making sure there are no bloopers like the one made by ITV during the 2010 World Cup, when viewers missed Steven Gerrard’s goal for England against the United States because of an advert break. BT declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Jake Humphrey’s appointment to front BT’s Premier League coverage has led to joy for petrolhead pin-up Suzi Perry. The 42-year-old presenter will replace Humphrey as the face of BBC1’s Formula One coverage. Gary Lineker is among those who tweeted his congratulations, saying: ‘Great choice, she’ll be brilliant.’

India v England: Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook and Monty Panesar pictured arriving at Heathrow

Flower sees India triumph as turning point for England as Cook, KP and Co arrive back at Heathrow after momentous victory

|

UPDATED:

12:51 GMT, 18 December 2012

Andy Flower senses England’s Test team may have reached a turning point with their historic series victory in India.

The triumphant England players arrived at Heathrow today, as Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook and Monty Panesar were greeted warmly after touching down in London.

Pietersen, who successfully reintegrated into the squad this series after being selected by Flower, was snapped as he pushed his trolley through the airport.

Triumphant: Monty Panesar and Alastair Cook

Welcome back: Kevin Pietersen is pictured arriving at Heathrow Airport this morning

Triumphant: Monty Panesar (left) and Alastair Cook were at Heathrow along with Kevin Pietersen (right)

Cook and Panesar walked alongside each other through Terminal 3 after yesterday's draw in Nagpur.

Cook’s tourists defied the pessimistic expectations of many by recovering from a nine-wicket drubbing in the first Test in Ahmedabad to win successive matches in Mumbai and Kolkata and then clinch the series with yesterday’s draw.

In doing so, they finished a tough year on a significant high.

Under Cook’s predecessor Andrew Strauss, a dual Ashes-winning captain, England fell from grace in 2012 with series defeats against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates last winter and then at home to South Africa.

Their hard-earned world No 1 Test status was a thing of the past by the time Strauss retired four months ago – and even after their 2-1 victory here, a first in India for almost 28 years, they have lost seven of 15 matches this year.

Good show: Cook and Panesar were greeted warmly at Terminal 3 at Heathrow

Good show: Cook and Panesar were greeted warmly at Terminal 3 at Heathrow

All smiles: Cook was accompanied by his wife Alice as he pushed his trolley through the terminal

All smiles: Cook was accompanied by his wife Alice as he pushed his trolley through the terminal

Coach Flower believes, however, there is no reason why the future cannot be a bright one for Cook’s team.

Asked if the fightback in India – completed thanks to centuries by Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell yesterday – could be a turning point, he said: 'I think it is.

'We had a tough time in the UAE against Pakistan at the start of the year, and one of the most satisfying things at the minute – certainly for me, and I’m sure for the players – is that they’ve shown they can score runs.

'Even some of the older guys, that have been around and have excellent Test career achievements, have still adapted their game and shown their game can improve.

'They’ve done that in conditions where English teams don’t historically do very well.

'I think everyone is very proud of that.'

Say cheese: The pair smiled for the cameras after touching down in the capital

Say cheese: The pair smiled for the cameras after touching down in the capital

Spinning to victory: This picture of Graeme Swann (right) and Monty Panesar (left) was tweeted by fellow bowler James Anderson

Spinning to victory: This picture of Graeme Swann (right) and Monty Panesar (left) was tweeted by fellow bowler James Anderson

Generations of England batsmen, in particular, have been found wanting in India since David Gower’s 1984-85 tourists also prevailed by a 2-1 margin.

'It’s very satisfying for that group of 30 blokes to have come out here and adapted to these conditions and overcome the opposition,' added Flower.

'It’s taken a lot of hard work, a lot of thought and a lot of skill out there in the middle – and they should be very proud of themselves.'

Flower paid tribute to his players’ character after they adapted brilliantly to the conditions.

He told Radio 5 Live: 'After the losses in the UAE we put some training regimes in place to help the players with their knowledge of how to play spin and score runs in these conditions.

Captain fantastic: Alastair Cook ensured that the tourists ended 2012 on a high

Captain fantastic: Alastair Cook ensured that the tourists ended 2012 on a high

'The players have put hours and hours of work into improving themselves. Their improvement against spin is great testament to their character.

'I think it has been a great year for English cricket. To win here for the first time in (almost) 28 years is an historic achievement. There is plenty for us to be proud of us in this last year.'

Flower also had words of praise for Kevin Pietersen, who finished a turbulent year personally on a high, the highlight a magnificent 186 in Mumbai.

He said: 'That innings in Mumbai was outstanding. He showed incredible skill and for him to turn the game around for us in partnership with Alastair Cook was a pivotal moment in the series.'