Tag Archives: wobble

Martin Kaymer wins Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City

Former world No 1 Kaymer shines in Sun City to secure first title of the year

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UPDATED:

16:17 GMT, 2 December 2012

Martin Kaymer survived a late wobble to hold on for his first title of the year with victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City.

The overnight leader bogeyed the 15th hole to see his advantage at the top of the leaderboard cut to one stroke by South Africa's Charl Schwartzel but held his nerve the rest of the way to prevail by two strokes.

Kaymer finished on eight under par overall, with Schwartzel at six under and American Bill Haas alone in third, three strokes further back.

Long wait: Kaymer won his first title of the year in Sun City

Long wait: Kaymer won his first title of the year in Sun City

Long wait: Kaymer won his first title of the year in Sun City

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen began the final round just one stroke behind Kaymer, but a 74 saw his challenge run out of steam and he ended in fourth place on two under, one stroke ahead of defending two-time champion Lee Westwood of England, who carded a 73.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the leader after the second round, went over par for the second day running as he managed 74 to finish in sixth place overall.

Kaymer famously sank the putt that ensured Europe retained the Ryder Cup earlier this year, but on a personal level this season has been a disappointment for the German.

And he admitted that as the opportunity to finally break his year-long victory drought edged closer, nerves began to tell.

Clinging on: Kaymer bogeyed the 15th hole

Clinging on: Kaymer bogeyed the 15th hole

Clinging on: Kaymer bogeyed the 15th hole

'It was always tight,' Kaymer told reporters.

'Charl played a great round of golf and I was telling (my caddie) that I need a win. I need a win in 2012.'

Rainy conditions on the final day at Gary Player Country Club were in keeping with the previous three, meaning yet again that scores were kept in check by the weather.

No-one shot better than 69 all week, and that mark was again achieved by Kaymer on Sunday having also managed a three-under total over the second round.

The German began in positive fashion on Sunday, hitting a brilliant eagle on the second only to see his hard work erased with a double-bogey at three.

Birdies at nine, 10 and 11 took him clear of the pack again, although Schwartzel's birdie on the 14th trimmed the lead to one.

Swinging in the rain: Schwartzel made a late bid for the title

Swinging in the rain: Schwartzel made a late bid for the title

Swinging in the rain: Schwartzel made a late bid for the title

Kaymer hacked his way out of the rough to make an unlikely birdie on 14 and take his lead back out to two, but a bogey at the next meant the pressure stayed on.

Schwartzel's victory bid finally stuttered as he committed his first bogey of the day at the 17th, as Kaymer made par the rest of the way to close out an overdue victory.

'I'm very happy to finally win this year, that was the most important thing for me, because I was practising very hard,' Kaymer added.

'I played very well the last few weeks and months, but it just did not happen for me on the golf course.

'I said to Craig, my caddy, we have to win one tournament every year and this is our last chance. Fortunately we could bring it home.'

Graeme McDowell gets engaged to Kristin Stape

G-Mac finds perfect playing partner as Ryder Cup star gets engaged to Kristin Stape

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UPDATED:

09:31 GMT, 22 November 2012

Old romantic Graeme McDowell hit the heights in Dubai as he proposed to his girlfriend on the helipad of the Burj Al Arab.

McDowell, taking part in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship this week, went down on one knee to pop the question to long-time partner Kristin Stape.

The Northern Irishman – solid as a rock when closing out a US Open or the final match of a Ryder Cup, admitted to a bit of a wobble 700ft above the UAE.

Two for tee: Graeme McDowell and Kristin Stape will get married in 2013

Two for tee: Graeme McDowell and Kristin Stape will get married in 2013

He said: 'She had no idea what was going on and was shocked and stunned. I even found myself getting a little bit emotional. It was a very special location, looking out over Dubai.'

McDowell met American Stape when he contacted her interior designer business to decorate his Orlando home and the couple are set to get married at the end of 2013.

World No 1 Rory McIlroy, McDowell's friend and fellow countryman, will also be celebrating this week as he is officially crowned the winner of the Race to Dubai.

McIlroy tweeted: 'Congrats to my good friend @Graeme_McDowell on his engagement to the lovely @kristinstape! Delighted.'

Dani Pedrosa wins Malaysian GP

In-form Pedrosa cuts Lorenzo's lead at top of championship after win in Malaysia

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UPDATED:

10:48 GMT, 21 October 2012

Dani Pedrosa put on a wet-weather master class to capture a rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday and keep the pressure on MotoGP championship leader Jorge Lorenzo after notching a fifth victory in six races.

The Spanish Honda rider was clear of the field after 13 of the scheduled 20 laps at a rain-swept Sepang International Circuit when the race was red-flagged because of dangerous conditions.

Pole-sitter Lorenzo held on to second place on his Yamaha as conditions deteriorated with world champion Casey Stoner crossing the line in third place on another Honda.

Champagne moment: Dani Pedrosa (left) celebrates winning in Malaysia

Champagne moment: Dani Pedrosa (left) celebrates winning in Malaysia

With torrential rain continung to lash the circuit, the race could not be re-started, giving Pedrosa his first victory in Malaysia as the Spaniard continued his audacious late-season title push.

The win enabled Pedrosa (307) to cut fellow Spaniard Lorenzo's (330) lead in the championship standings to 23 points with two more races remaining and a maximum of 50 points available.

Pedrosa started behind Lorenzo in what was declared a wet race but was soon breathing down the 2010 world champion's neck as the pair pulled clear of the pack.

In front: Pedrosa (right) saw off the challenge of Jorge Lorenzo

In front: Pedrosa (right) saw off the challenge of Jorge Lorenzo

The 27-year-old snatched the lead just past the scheduled halfway point and never looked like being challenged by Lorenzo as several riders behind the leaders crashed out on the slippery surface.

Lorenzo was lucky to survive a heavy wobble seconds before the race was red-flagged as his bike threatened to lose control at the hairpin before the home straight.

Australia's Stoner recorded his first podium finish since returning from an ankle surgery in August while Ducati's Nicky Hayden finished fourth, ahead of team mate Valentino Rossi.

ICC World Twenty20 2012: Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe

Mendis skittles Zimbabwean batsmen as Sri Lanka cruise to victory by 82 runs

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UPDATED:

18:27 GMT, 18 September 2012

Sri Lanka spinner Ajantha Mendis demolished Zimbabwe with the best ever international Twenty20 bowling figures as the hosts cruised to an 82-run victory in the opening ICC World Twenty20 match in Hambantota.

The Lions overcame a minor wobble in the middle of their innings to set an imposing target of 183 which Zimbabwe never looked likely to reach.

Mendis was the key weapon in the Sri Lankan attack, claiming six wickets for just eight runs as Zimbabwe crumbled under the floodlights and could only reach a total of 100 in the Group C match.

Demolition man: Ajantha Mendis was in devastating form as the hosts cruised to victory

Demolition man: Ajantha Mendis was in devastating form as the hosts cruised to victory

Tough luck: Mahela Jayawardene (right) was gracious after an outstanding victory for Sri Lanka

Tough luck: Mahela Jayawardene (right) was gracious after an outstanding victory for Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka started strongly in their innings before they were reduced to 54 for one when Dilshan Munaweera was run out for 17 in the seventh over.

Mahela Jayawardene was then handed a reprieve when he was given out lbw only for the decision to be chalked off as a back-foot no-ball by bowler Graeme Cremer.

However, three balls later, Cremer came back to claim the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan with a quick ball. The Sri Lanka captain tried to cut the delivery but mistimed it, with wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor claiming the second wicket with a neat catch.

Shining light: Mendis demolished Zimbabwe with the best ever international Twenty20 bowling figures

Shining light: Mendis demolished Zimbabwe with the best ever international Twenty20 bowling figures

Not bad either: Jeevan Mendis knocked 43 with the bat in an impressive display

Not bad either: Jeevan Mendis knocked 43 with the bat in an impressive display

Jayawardene was then run out two overs later as the momentum was briefly lost from the Sri Lankan innings before Kumar Sangakkara (44) and Jeevan Mendis (43) steered the side's total to an impressive 182 for four from the 20 overs.

In reply, Zimbabwe were quickly reduced to 43 for three with captain Taylor dismissed for a first-ball duck.

Opening batsman Hamilton Masakadza top-scored with 20 but after that things went downhill, with only four other batsmen creeping into double figures.

Jeevan Mendis (three for 24) was also in the wickets and he claimed the scalps of Craig Ervine (10) and Malcolm Waller (0) in the same over before Zimbabwe finally capitulated in the 18th over when Lasith Malinga removed Chris Mpofu for a duck.

Oh dear: Elton Chigumbura fell victim to Mendis

Oh dear: Elton Chigumbura fell victim to Mendis

Walk in the park: Mahela Jayawardena, left and Lasith Malinga will have far tougher tests ahead

Walk in the park: Mahela Jayawardena, left and Lasith Malinga will have far tougher tests ahead

Zimbabwe skipper Taylor was naturally disappointed to fall to such a convincing defeat in the opening game.

He told Sky Sports 1: 'We are a far better side than how we performed today but it was tough. We have to bounce back strongly. There's no excuse for it.

'We've all played enough cricket to go away from today and rethink, come back tomorrow and start training but we don't have a long time until Thursday.'

Sri Lanka captain Jayawardene said: 'It's tough playing a team like Zimbabwe as you can't take anything for granted.

'We got got a good score then bowled really well. It's a pretty good wicket but you have to get used to the pace a bit. The spinners came on and did the job.'

London 2012 Olympics: Badminton: Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei take gold

Sublime Chinese duo take gold in badminton mixed doubles in wake of fixing scandal which saw compatriots disqualified

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UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 3 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

China made badminton headlines for the right reasons as Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei produced a world-class performance to claim Olympic gold at Wembley Arena.

The top seeds were far too strong for their compatriots and second seeds Xu Chen and Ma Jin as they powered to what could prove the first of five golds in the sport for the Asian powerhouse.

Their 21-11 21-17 victory showed the best of Chinese badminton two days after one of their mixed doubles pairs was expelled from the London 2012 competition in a match-fixing row.

Winners: Gold medalists Zhang Nan (left) and Zhao Yunlei (right) put on a class performance at Wembley

Winners: Gold medalists Zhang Nan (left) and Zhao Yunlei (right) put on a class performance at Wembley

The pair put on a remarkable display and were overjoyed to have taken yet another gold for the Chinese

The pair put on a remarkable display and were overjoyed to have taken yet another gold for the Chinese

It was a result which rarely seemed in doubt as the world champions Zhang and Zhao got off to a superb start, racing into a 12-5 lead.

Zhao, despite apparent trouble from a knee injury, rarely relinquished control at the net while Zhang set up plenty of winners.

Their opponents could not impose themselves and were frequently forced into errors.

Zhang and Zhao led 8-0 in the second game and only had a brief wobble two points from victory as Xu and Ma won four in succession.

Zhao played down the significance of their victory in light of this week's scandal.
She said: 'Everybody is doing their best to achieve their best performances.

'I have been training very hard in preparation for this gold medal and this is just the start of our careers.'

The pair restored some credibility to Chinese badminton after their compatriots had been kicked out of the Games for deliberately trying to lose

The pair restored some credibility to Chinese badminton after their compatriots had been kicked out of the Games for deliberately trying to lose

The bronze medal was won earlier in the day by Danish pair Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen, who beat Indonesia's Tonowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir.

Fourth seeds Fischer and Pedersen earned some consolation after their semi-final defeat to Zhang and Zhao by outplaying third seeds Ahmad and Natsir to win 21-12 21-12.

Fischer, who smashed a racket after losing out on a place in the gold medal match, celebrated exuberantly and gave away his racket and shirt.

The result meant that for the first time in Olympic history Indonesia had failed to pick up a badminton medal. At all Games since the sport was introduced in 1992, the country had won at least one gold.

Ahmad said: “There has been too much pressure on from home and from the media.

'I failed to cope with the expectation and under-performed.'

The men's singles final on Sunday will be a repeat of the Beijing showpiece of four years ago between all-time greats and arch-rivals Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan.

Defending champion Lin had little trouble seeing off South Korea's Lee Hyun-il.

The world number two won 11 of the first 12 points of the match and 12 of the last 14 as he powered past the ineffective seventh seed to win 21-12 21-10.

Malaysia's top seed Lee was made to work much harder by third seed Chen Long and looked more impressive for it as he won 21-13 21-14.

Wang Xiaoli (left) and Yang Yu were disqualified from the Games and were unable to compete for the medal positions

Wang Xiaoli (left) and Yang Yu were disqualified from the Games and were unable to compete for the medal positions

The women were top seeds and were likely to rack up another medal for the Chinese

The women were top seeds and were likely to rack up another medal for the Chinese

Despite his superb display, Lee, who came into the tournament with doubts over his fitness after an ankle injury, said: 'I didn't expect to win because my preparation has only been 50 per cent.

'I said to myself, “I have nothing to lose,” but when I saw it was 11-4 in the first game I realised I had to win this match and that's why I played more confidently.'

Lee and Lin produced a stunning spectacle when they met in the final of the World Championships at the same venue last year.

Lin survived match point to win and will again be favourite despite Lee's long-established status at the top of the world rankings.

The Malaysian, a perennial runner-up to Lin, will also carry the pressure of bidding to win his country's first Olympic gold in any sport.

The first women's semi-final proved a disappointing spectacle as top seed Wang Yihan made easy work of India's fourth seed Saina Newhal, winning 21-13 21-13 in 42 minutes.

Wang was joined in the final by fellow Chinese Li Xuerui, who beat another compatriot in Wang Xin.

Third seed Li, a late selection by China for the tournament, continued her impressive progress with a 22-20 21-18 success over the second seed.

China are top of the medals table, with the USA in second place

China are top of the medals table, with the USA in second place

Stuart Broad: Ian Botham shook my hand and Twitter went wild!

Stuart Broad: Beefy shook my hand at Lord's and Twitter went wild!

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UPDATED:

21:52 GMT, 22 May 2012

Stuart Broad hit the headlines in England’s first Test victory against West Indies by becoming the first bowler to take 10 or more wickets in a Lord’s Test since Ian Botham in 1978.

He also became only the fourth man to put his name on all three honours boards at the home of cricket – for scoring a hundred, taking five wickets in an innings and 10 in a match.

Here, the world’s No 3 ranked bowler writes exclusively for Sportsmail about those man-of-the-match heroics…

History boy: Broad earns his place on the three Lord's honours board

History boy: Broad earns his place on the three Lord's honours board

Bit of a wobble

The Lord’s wicket was far from green despite all the rain in the last month, but I think Andrew Strauss decided to bowl because it just seems to play better and better as Tests go on.

As a bowling unit we aimed to take seven wickets on the first day, so to finish with nine was excellent. They took their time in coming for me but, as the wicket was slow, it was hard to get the right length because if you pitched it up too often there was a danger of being hit for four.

I eventually got into a nice rhythm at the Nursery End and just tried to aim the ball into off stump which, with the slope, made it seem as if it was running down the hill and helped me get edges.

What really ended up helping me get six wickets on the first day was the wobble seam delivery which we have all worked very hard on. It is a weapon for flatter wickets, really, and something that Curtly Ambrose perfected and, in the series we lost in Australia, Stuart Clark used.

Man of the match: Broad hails yet another wicket

Man of the match: Broad hails yet another wicket

Basically, the batsman doesn’t know if seam or leather will hit the pitch first which makes it difficult to work out what the ball will do.

Of course it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t get your lengths right and goes against everything you’re taught as a boy about keeping the seam upright but it worked for me last Thursday. Most of my wickets came that way.

Yes, it was in the back of my mind that I’d got on the bowling honours board but my main focus that afternoon was trying to be brutal with the tail after Shiv Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo had held us up.

Swann the sage

As we walked out on the second morning, Graeme Swann said to me: ‘I fancy you to get this last wicket first ball’, and Jimmy Anderson said: ‘Yes please, I’m in no shape to bowl this morning.’ So when I did just that there was a great scream of elation from Jimmy that the job was done. And I’d ended up with my first seven-wicket haul in Test cricket.

Then it was over to the batsmen and Andrew Strauss showed a great deal of calmness and played beautifully for his hundred. He had a bit of stick during the winter so everyone was delighted for him and you could tell from the reaction of the dressing room and the crowd that everybody backs, respects and likes him.

Ton-derful: Strauss celebrates reaching his century

Ton-derful: Strauss celebrates reaching his century

Hopefully that will set the captain up for a big summer because he will be hugely important to us in the Tests to come. We got a lead of 155 but actually we were a bit disappointed with that because that wicket was screaming out for 500 rather than 398.

Digging in

I was on what would surely have been the longest drawn out hat-trick in Test history when West Indies’ second innings started but that was not to be.

Still, we got three quick wickets, which lifted the energy levels until Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels played fantastically well. I don’t think we did much wrong, it was just that it was pretty flat by then and we just had to keep working hard. There was quite a bit of playing and missing going on, and Chanderpaul only needed to feather one of those for it to be very different.

Chanderpaul, of course, provides us with a big challenge. He plays the ball so late, virtually off his stumps, and hits through the leg side even if the ball is outside off.

No 1: Chanderpaul is ranked as the best Test batsman in the world

No 1: Chanderpaul is ranked as the best Test batsman in the world

THE LORDS OF LORD'S

Sir Gubby Allen

The first man to claim a place on all three Lord’s honours boards captained England in 11 of his 25 Tests between 1930 and 1948.
Played all his cricket as an amateur and strongly disagreed with Douglas Jardine’s Bodyline policy. Went on to be chairman of selectors and treasurer of MCC.

Keith Miller

A charismatic character and probably Australia’s greatest all-rounder, Miller played 55 Tests in the 10 years after the Second World War where he served with distinction as a pilot. In retirement he famously said: ‘Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your a**e, playing cricket is not.’

Sir Ian Botham

England's greatest all-rounder and leading Test wicket taker with 383 victims. ‘Beefy’, now a Sky commentator, will be remembered for his performances with bat and ball in the 1981 Ashes series, which he won almost single-handedly. Knighted for services to charity and cricket in 2007.

He has no obvious weaknesses and there are times when you feel you just can’t beat him but I’m hoping the sun will beat down at Trent Bridge for the next couple of days before the second Investec Test and there will be a lot more pace in the wicket on Friday. There should be plenty of swing, too.

Three of a kind

When I took the third of my four second-innings wickets, I completed a different hat-trick to go on the third honours board for 10 wickets in the match and I was amazed to see that no-one had done that since Ian Botham 34 years ago. It was an amazing feeling, one that makes me feel very proud.

Beefy shook my hand when I walked across the outfield on the last morning and my Twitter time line went pretty wild. Huge thanks to all my followers who sent kind messages.

It was especially nice that my mum, dad and my 94-year-old grandparents were all at Lord’s during various stages of the Test and my dad was asked to ring the pavilion bell on Saturday morning, which he was chuffed to bits about. Getting six wickets and a hat-trick on my home ground of Trent Bridge last year was pretty special but I think this tops even that and it’s something I will remember fondly whenever I walk through Lord’s and look up at those boards in the future.

More to come: The second Test starts at Trent Bridge on Friday

More to come: The second Test starts at Trent Bridge on Friday

It’s definitely fair to say I have bowled better in the past than this but it can go like that. I think back to a game like the first Ashes Test in Brisbane when I kept on beating the bat on the third day but ended up without wickets and had no luck. This time the force seemed to be with me and I got on a roll.

Not so nervous

West Indies’ resistance meant we had to get 191 to win but as the wicket was so good it never really felt like Abu Dhabi last winter. Kemar Roach looks a good bowler and will be a real handful on a track that suits him but even when he took three early wickets we always fancied our chances. In the end Alastair Cook and Ian Bell showed their experience and class to see us home.

Tasty starters

That was a tough game for us. West Indies played really well and in all honesty we expected them to because they gave Australia a lot of problems recently and there was no way we were going to underestimate them.

The pleasing thing for us is that we won even though we can improve in a lot of areas and we will be looking to do that in Nottingham.

For now the focus will be on the first hour at Trent Bridge on Friday because that can set the tone for the Test but it goes without saying that we will be looking to wrap up the series there. A good start to the summer. One I will never forget.

Matthew Stevens digs in to reach semi-finals at the Crucible

Stevens digs in to beat Day and reach semi-finals at the Crucible

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UPDATED:

11:39 GMT, 2 May 2012

Matthew Stevens dispatched Ryan Day
13-5 in the Betfred.com World Snooker Championship, winning an
astonishing 11 consecutive frames to set up a semi-final tie with either
Ronnie O'Sullivan or Neil Robertson.

The two-time runner up took a tight
first frame in the third session, emerging the victor in a cat-and-mouse
battle as Day attempted to snooker him with the pink and the black on the table.

A grind: Matthew Stevens had to dig in

A grind: Matthew Stevens had to dig in

It restored his confidence after his initial wobble in the 17th frame and he comfortably wrapped the game up with a 77–0 victory in the next frame.

Asked which opponent he would prefer to face in the next round, Stevens laughed: ‘Neither of them!’

He added: ‘I have to obviously improve if I am to go any further. I'm going to go into it second favourite.’

Day, 32, finished the first session with a 5-3 lead after hitting two centuries of 100 and 110, with Stevens winning the final frame 74-44 to keep up.

Then the 34-year-old took a stranglehold on the tie during the second session, winning all eight frames against the helpless Day.

Stevens said of the second session: ‘Last night was very, very strange. Both of us struggled. It was very tough for Ryan. I don't know what was happening to be honest. Sometimes you have to dig in and I managed to do that a bit better.’

Good run: Stevens won 11 frames in a row

Good run: Stevens won 11 frames in a row

Surprisingly he managed to achieve his 8-0 session simply by capitalising on Day's errors, rather than racking up any magnificent breaks.

It was a low quality affair – Stevens’ biggest break was 59.

‘If you told me that at the start I would have laughed at you,’ he said.

‘Sometimes you have to grind some frames out.’

Day meanwhile, was under no illusions about his performance. He said: ‘Last night was just a shambles. I just wasn't there.

‘I don't really know why. Towards the end it was just embarrassing and I just wanted to get out of there to be honest.’

But regardless of the level of the snooker, to win 11 frames in a row is a magnificent feat – one which has largely gone unnoticed with the news of snooker legend Stephen Hendry's retirement on Tuesday night.

Hendry was demolished 13-2 by fellow Scot Stephen Maguire and announced his exit from the sport shortly afterwards.

O’Sullivan and Robertson resume their match on Wednesday afternoon, with the Australian 5-3 ahead, but with ‘The Rocket’ involved, that lead could be vanquished within a matter of moments.

World Championship 2012: Stephen Hendry beats Stuart Bingham

Hendry beats Bingham to set up clash with countryman Higgins

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 22 April 2012

Progress: Stephen Hendry set up a clash with John Higgins

Progress: Stephen Hendry set up a clash with John Higgins

Seven-time champion Stephen Hendry overcame a wobble to convert his 8-1 overnight lead over Stuart Bingham to a 10-4 victory.

When the evening's opening three frames went to Bingham, it raised the prospect of a comeback, but Hendry soon quashed that and goes on to tackle defending champion John Higgins in the second round.

Hendry made the 10th Crucible 147 in Saturday's opening session against Bingham, and reasoned that it was difficult to hit the same heights again.

The 43-year-old Scot, who finished off Bingham with a break of 96, said: 'Everyone wants to be 8-1 up but it's hard to have the same intensity you had at the start of the match. I was pretty flat tonight and I think it showed. But I finished it off well.

'Overall I played really well in the match, topped off by the maximum which I'm delighted about.

'Now it's John and I can't wait, I'm really looking forward to it.'

James Anderson: Even the Sri Lankans admit nobody spins it better than Swann

Even the Sri Lankans admit nobody spins it better than Swann

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UPDATED:

22:13 GMT, 7 April 2012

I was asked if Graeme Swann and me
have signed a deal whereby he calls me the best seamer in the world and I
have to call him the best spinner.

But I found out yesterday it is not
just England players who think Swann is the best of his type on the
planet. We were coming off the outfield in Colombo when Suraj Randiv,
the Sri Lankan offie, asked him: ‘How do you spin the ball so much I’d
love to be able to spin it as much as you.’

If a Sri Lankan spinner who’s grown up in these conditions comes up with that kind of question, that’s some compliment.

On top of the world: Swann

On top of the world: Swann

I honestly mean what I say. In the
conditions we experienced this week there is no better spinner. He’s not
got the variation of a Saeed Ajmal but the turn he gets and the
constant pressure he puts on a batsman’s inside and outside edge makes
him dangerous all the time — and on helpful pitches almost unplayable.

More from James Anderson…

James Anderson: Cook's grand plan to get rid of Strauss
25/02/12

James Anderson: We'll hit back … there's no way we're this bad
04/02/12

James Anderson: We're playing happy families and we're raring to go
07/01/12

James Anderson: Read the truth behind my little wobble…
20/08/11

Jimmy Anderson: From big Kylie to the Chef who doesn't sweat, England's band of heroes
13/08/11

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Some bowlers might get intimidated by
being expected to take wickets on turners, but Swann thrives on that. He
wants to show people how much he can spin the ball. And when he is the
main spinner in a four-man attack he also thrives on that extra
responsibility.

No other bowler in world cricket puts
as many revs on the ball nor lands it where he needs to more often, and
he knows where and how to work a batsman out.

So, all in all, there’s not much I can
criticise him for. Even when it comes to all-round irritability he
seems to be maturing with age, like an old cheese. I think he’s
definitely learned when to be a buffoon and when not to. It’s about
bl**dy time!

It has been a very tough winter for
one reason or another but, from a seamer’s point of view, it has been
very encouraging that the spin department hasn’t had it all its own way.
I’m looking forward to more helpful conditions back home but we’ll be
back in Asia at the end of the year for four tough Tests against India.
The fact that our quicks had some success in the UAE and here means
we’ll go there with confidence that we shouldn’t have to rely too
heavily on the twirlymen.

Pucker up: Graeme Swann kisses Jimmy Anderson after England wrap up their victory

Pucker up: Graeme Swann kisses Jimmy Anderson after England wrap up their victory

Calm Straussy told us to 'take control'

Everyone realised Straussy has been under some pressure, mainly from himself because he has not scored the runs he would have liked to this winter.

But as an England player, I know this team wouldn’t be where we are and would not have achieved what we have without him at the forefront. He didn’t just take over the captaincy in 2009, he took over the team. He put the emphasis on players taking responsibility for their actions and performances.

As a leader he has been a brilliant, calming influence. Take yesterday’s run chase. He made a point of reminding us about Abu Dhabi and told us to go out and take control, rather than try to winkle out the 94 we needed.

Well earned: Stauss enjoys a victory

Well earned: Stauss enjoys a victory

Pace of KP's knock set up our victory

Kevin’s batting in the first innings showed how lucky we are to have him playing for us rather than us having to bowl against him. I’m sure he does wish he could be a bit more consistent. Who doesn’t think that about their job

But when he plays like that he can take the game away from the opposition. In terms of time, his innings earned us an extra session in which to try to force our win.

On a pitch on which 21 others struggled to score, he did so at such a rate we were able to go past their first innings score with ease and set up the win.

Pace-setter: Pietersen (right) steered England to victory with a speedy 42 not out

Pace-setter: Pietersen (right) steered England to victory with a speedy 42 not out

That's what I call a well-earned drink

Here in Sri Lanka, I’ve been hotter on a cricket field than ever before. That’s why I went on the wagon for the past couple of weeks. But we deserved our reward for some hard work yesterday —

so you’ll forgive me if I happen to wake up this morning with a slightly sorer head than of late. Cheers.

Real Madrid draw with Villareal

Mourinho sent off as Madrid are held at Villarreal to offer Barca hope in La Liga title race

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UPDATED:

23:32 GMT, 21 March 2012

Nine-man Real Madrid suffered another La Liga title wobble at El Madrigal as Marcos Senna struck an 83rd-minute equaliser to grab a 1-1 draw for struggling Villarreal.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring on 62 minutes for Jose Mourinho's men, who had seen their 11-match winning run in La Liga ended by a home draw with Malaga on Sunday.

Dejected: Real Madrid were held to a draw at Villarreal

Dejected: Real Madrid were held to a draw at Villarreal

Leveller: Marcos Senna fired home a free kick to earn Villarreal a point

Leveller: Marcos Senna fired home a free kick to earn Villarreal a point

But after Senna's leveller the visitors imploded with Mourinho sent from the dugout and Sergio Ramos and Mesut Ozil both red carded as Madrid were forced to settle for limping six points clear of second-placed Barcelona.

Mourinho was dismissed for his reaction to the equaliser, Ramos for a second yellow card and Ozil for apparent dissent all in the space of three minutes.

Opener: Cristiano Ronaldo put Real Madrid ahead at Villarreal

Opener: Cristiano Ronaldo put Real Madrid ahead at Villarreal

Opener: Cristiano Ronaldo put Real Madrid ahead at Villarreal