Jul 27, 2011

"How can India expect to beat us?"

Ian Botham
Ian Botham

Ian Botham considers England as "cricket kings of the world" and can predict them displacing India from the number-one position.

"What we saw at Lord's was the sort of performance you would need from the best team on the planet and there will be more to come before this series is over," said the former all-rounder.

"At some point, England will take the No.1 title from India officially and then an era of dominance should go behind, because we are well in front of the pack. Every department is covered and without a weak link," he added.

England beat India by 196 runs in the opening Test of the four-match series, putting up a proven performance against their depleted opponents, who were a bowler short after Zaheer Khan's hamstring injury.

And Botham feels that India's hopes of beating a strong English side - on home soil - with a depleted unit are in vain.

"How can India hope to beat us, especially with their injury worries?," asked the 55-year-old.

"And as good as some of India's players have been over many years, I don't see how they can get back into this series against a side as confident as England. And they will get better, because there is a hunger in the dressing room to search for that bit extra."

The second Test of the series is to be played at Trent Bridge from Friday and the legendary all-rounder warns India to beware of some fierce bowling from the hosts.
"England will have two bowlers on home turf, while a third - Jimmy Anderson - never leaves without a five-fer in his back pocket. And judging by the way he is bowling at the moment, India should be happy if all he takes is five wickets," Botham said.

"The great thing about this England team is that they are all peaking together and dovetail like the best teams do."

Botham also appreciated Kevin Pietersen for his unbeaten 202 innings at Lord's.

"In terms of the way it started when things weren't easy and then ensuring he was still there and cashing in after he had made his first hundred. That is what Test match batting should be about," the former cricketer said.

Strauss and Dhoni

"Matt Prior performed magnificently again. We know his batting ability is as good as any Test middle order batsman, but his glovework was in the top bracket too."

Botham also confessed that Stuart Broad had silenced his critics with seven wickets from two innings in the first Test, but stands by his previous comments about the 25-year-old.

"On an unhelpful wicket the bowlers hunted as a pack and I have to doff my cap to Stuart Broad, who took all the criticism that came his way then hit back in the best possible way with wickets.

"I was one of those calling for him to be dropped before the game and I stand by those words because the Broad we saw at Lord's was not the one we had been watching earlier.

"I hope he pushes on from here and doesn't let it be his only performance of the series. He also showed maturity in the way he handled his lbw knock-backs, although it is ridiculous that the DRS is not being used," he said.

Criticising Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) for not using the full Decision Review System in the series, Botham said, "It is time India accepted it and understand that the game is not here just for them. Everybody wants the full DRS."

Jul 25, 2011

Tiger Woods tumbling down world golf rankings

Tiger woods in press conference
Tiger woods in press conference

Tiger Woods is out of the world's top 20 for the first time since January 1997.

The man who is expected to declare later this week that he is returning to action at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday, held the number one spot for more than 11 years in 10 different spells has not played since May 12 because of knee and Achilles tendon hurts.

He has dropped from eighth to 21st in the golf rankings in that time and last Wednesday announced on his website that he will not have New Zealand caddie Steve Williams by his side on his return.

"I think it's time for a change," he said without naming a replacement.

sad tiger woods
Sad Tiger woods

In a television interview in his home country Williams, with Woods for 13 of his 14 major wins and surprised by the decision, said: "You could say I've wasted the last two years of my life. I've stuck with Tiger and been incredibly loyal.

"I'm not disappointed I've been fired - that's part of the job - but the timing is extraordinary."

Referring to the sex scandal that rocked sport at the end of 2009 Williams also stated: "I, along with a lot of people, lost a lot of respect for Tiger.

Disappointed Tiger woods
Disappointed Tiger woods

"I pointed out before his return at The Masters at Augusta in 2010 that he had to earn back my respect."

Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia has earned a place in next week's world championship by keeping his place in the game's top 50.

Back to form with two consecutive top-10 finishes in majors and a play-off defeat in Germany in between, Garcia is 48th going into this week's Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.

Alex Noren's runaway win in Sweden moved him up from 92nd to 70th, but he already had a place in Akron thanks to his Wales Open victory last month.

Latest leading positions in the world golf rankings:

Luke Donald
Lee Westwood
Martin Kaymer
Rory McIlroy
Steve Stricker
Phil Mickelson
Dustin Johnson
Jason Day
Matt Kuchar
Nick Watney
Charl Schwartzel
Graeme McDowell
Bubba Watson
KJ Choi
Paul Casey
Ian Poulter
Adam Scott
Hunter Mahan
Robert Karlsson
Retief Goosen

Jul 20, 2011

Eidur Gudjohnsen signs two year deal with AEK Athens

Eidur Gudjohnsen
Eidur Gudjohnsen seriously thinking

Former Chelsea and Barcelona forward Gudjohnsen has signed for Greek Super League side AEK Athens on a two-year contract.

Eidur Gudjohnsen, 32, had been close to a move to npower Championship club West Ham, but after the deal stalled he quickly decided on a move to AEK.

The Icelandic international has played for Tottenham, Stoke and Fulham in the past 18 months but told AEK's official website he is now looking further to the challenge of playing in a new country.

Disappointed Eidur Gudjohnsen

He said: "I'm happy and excited to be here. It is a new step in my career and a challenge for me. I will give it my all."

Eidur won the Eredivisie with PSV also as back-to-back Premier League titles during his time at Chelsea, while his spell at Barcelona culminated in winning the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and the Champions League.

Jul 15, 2011

Russia's Alisa Kleybanova diagnosed with cancer

Alisa Kleybanova
Alisa Kleybanova

Russian tennis player Kleybanova, who feted her 22nd birthday on Friday, has revealed she has been diagnosed with cancer.

Alisa, the world number 28, is suffering from Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

"It's my birthday today and I want to thank all of you for the wonderful messages. I haven't written anything for a long time about why I haven't been on Tour, so that's why I'm writing this today," she said in a statement.

"It's not an easy time for me right now. I've been a bit unlucky with my health. I have Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer.

"I've been having treatment in Italy and it has been going well, but it takes lots of patience and I've had to be really strong to get through this. The good news is after I do treatment for a few more months, if I feel well, there's a chance I'll be able to play tennis again.

"I really miss playing - I miss seeing fans and friends Around the world, I miss hitting the ball, I miss everything. Tennis has been my life for the last 15 years."

The Moscow-based player reached a career high of 20 after the Dubai tournament in February, but illness pulled her out of the French Open and Wimbledon.

The Fed Cup team member is undergoing treatment in the Italian city of Perugia.

"Second, they have a really great hospital here that specializes in this problem; I've been going there since the problem started, so the doctors know me well. It's the best place for me to be - the surroundings help me stay strong.

"This is the toughest time in my life, and I hope it always stays the toughest time in my life. I'm sure I'll be able to overcome this - it's just a matter of patience and time. When this is over, everything will be even better than before.

"I won't be on tour for a little while, but I will see you all again soon."

The WTA praised Kleybanova's courage.

"The thoughts of the WTA and the entire tennis family are with Alisa and her family at this difficult time," said a WTA statement.

"Alisa is a very strong and optimistic person and we wish her a speedy and full recovery."

Fellow players also sent their best wishes to Kleybanova.

"Wishing Alisa Kleybanova all the best as she battles Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Will miss her on Tour, great player and lovely person," tweeted Britain's Laura Robson.

Germany's Julia Goerges also tweeted: "girl I wish u all the best."

Kleybanova has collected two WTA titles at Kuala Lumpur in 2010 and in Seoul in 2008 with her best Grand Slam performances coming at Wimbledon in 2008 and the Australian Open in 2009, where she attained the fourth round on both occasions.

Jul 14, 2011

Bobby Labonte searches rebound

Bobby Labonte searches rebound
Bobby Labonte

Bobby Labonte doesn't want to talk about past season. It was one of his most difficult ones, driving for four owners, and he failed to record a top-10 finish.

Instead, Labonte is concentrated on this season and has a rejuvenated energy with his new team, JTG Daugherty Racing. He opened the season with a fourth-place run at the Daytona 500, and has had a competitive car in every race since, including a 13th-place finish in Bristol, Tenn., three weeks ago.

Labonte looked to have another top-15 finish in him during the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, but a five-car wreck on Lap 229 knocked him out of contention. He wound up 27th.

Labonte said he believes he can rebound this week at Texas Motor Speedway, driving the No. 47 Bush's Beans Toyota in the Samsung Mobile 500 on Saturday night.

Jul 13, 2011

Former England captains warn of Tendulkar threat

Sachin Tendulkar

Former England captains Michael Vaughan, Nasser Hussain, Mike Atherton and Graham Gooch have warned that even at the twilight of his international career, Tendulkar would be the biggest threat to England when they take on India in a Test series starting on July 21.

"Sachin`s a different player now from 2007; the best players in the world change little things about themselves to keep themselves in the game. In the last two years he`s become more aggressive, he`s gone back to his old way of trying to score when for a period he tried to survive," Vaughan told a magazine.

"Chris Tremlett bowled well against him in 2007 and he`s a miles better bowler now. But Sachin doesn`t have any weaknesses although every batsman is vulnerable on and around the off stump early on. England might go aggressive at him, test him with a few short balls - I`ve seen people do that over the last two years and it hasn`t affected him," he added.

Hussain said Tendulkar has rediscovered his aggressive instincts in recent years.

"Technically and mentally Sachin has changed little over the years but he has changed his game plan. He began as a flamboyant, extravagant stroke-maker who had all the shots and simply loved the game.”

"Once the records and the hundreds started to be racked up, he turned into a run-machine. His priority was his wicket. Once Sehwag arrived, he was happy to let him tee off. In the last couple of years he has rediscovered his flamboyance and is playing shots again," he added.

Atherton recalled how disastrous it can be to give Tendulkar a life when he is not settled.

"I dropped him in the gully at Trent Bridge (in 1996) and he went on to get a big hundred. He`s not a man you want to put down early on. He was calm at the crease, difficult to get out of his bubble. There weren`t any flaws. He was just a very solid, orthodox player.”

"One of the most remarkable things is that he has hardly changed at all - exactly the same set-up, very few changes to his method. He`s trusted in his technique and power all this time. He`s stayed true to his game," he said.

Gooch went down memory lane to recall the young Tendulkar.

"No one had ever seen him in 1990. As a 17-year-old it was evident that the lad had great skill, great balance, great timing, an eye for the ball. You could see he had all the attributes to make a top player.”

"For one so young he had a poise and composure about his batting. You don`t often get that in young players; you get the talent and the stroke-making but poise, authority and composure normally come," he said.

Jul 5, 2011

WIPA welcomes Caricom's initiative on Gayle

chris Gayle
The West Indies Players Association (WIPA) has welcomed the lead taken by Caricom (Caribben Community) to resolve the ongoing dispute between estranged Jamaican opener Chris Gayle and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

In a statement on Monday, WIPA said it viewed the move with "considerable optimism" and thanked Caricom for deciding to play an active role in the impasse.

"WIPA is pleased that Caricom has heeded the call by Chris Gayle to intervene. Chris made a telling point which we see that the Heads of Government have picked up," said WIPA president and CEO Dinanath Ramnarine.

"West Indies cricket is bigger than the WICB. West Indies cricket belongs to the people of the region and not a miniscule group of administrators who want to dictate to everyone.

"We fully support the move and will do all we can to make it succeed in its desire to put our cricket on a firmer foundation."

Caricom chairman Denzil Douglas, the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, announced on Sunday that the Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on Cricket would be revived in an attempt to broker a solution in the standoff that has seen Gayle repeatedly overlooked for selection for the ongoing India series.

The announcement came after Gayle made an impassioned plea last Friday for the regional Heads of Government to get involved.

His appeal was backed by Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo who on Saturday criticised the WICB for acting as if they were the "private owners of West Indian cricket".

Gayle has been at loggerheads with the WICB ever since he gave a highly controversial interview to a Jamaican radio station in April when he was highly critical of the Board.

Ramnarine pledged WIPA's full cooperation with the Caricom sub-committee.