The Reuters global sports blog
Cricket boards can ruin careers and no example demonstrates it better than the England and Wales Cricket Board’s treatment of their star batsman Kevin Pietersen.
The decision to retire is always best left to the player unless he carries on without form and fitness, and Pietersen, England’s highest run-getter across all formats, should have been allowed to make that call.
The ECB, however, decided that the time had come to move on without Pietersen and after informing the batsman announced the news to the cricketing world.
It was nothing new. Just like they had done in the past, the board yet again demonstrated their inability to manage Pietersen.
It’s not only the on-field performances that let England down in the Ashes. The selectors too got it wrong starting from the initial announcement of the squad to the playing XI that was chosen for the third Test. The team management must also share the blame for going 3-0 down and losing the urn.
They made their first mistake in denying paceman Graham Onions a place in the touring party, a move that then came under harsh criticism in the English media. He has long been considered the second best swing bowler in England after James Anderson and his omission especially after a good season with Durham was baffling if not downright foolish. Instead, Onions is now in South Africa, playing for the Dolphins.
Former Sweden defender Glenn Hysen is at Euro 2012 as a fan and he told Left Field that his nation will have to “show some balls” if they are to match England’s fighting spirit in their Group D clash in Kiev on Friday.
“It’ll be tough, but if the players show that they have balls we can do it,” said Hysen, whose son Tobias is part of Erik Hamren’s Sweden squad.
Sweden defender Mikael Lustig will have no excuse for forgetting to hold his position against England in Euro 2012 - his mistake on the post for Ukraine’s second goal in Kiev has sparked a tactical Twitter meme that will take a long time to live down.
With the scores level at 1-1, Ukraine won a corner and Lustig took his place on the goal-line defending the near post.
By Phil O’Connor
Unheralded and unpopular when he took over at Newcastle United, Alan Pardew has led them into the upper reaches of the English Premier League, and within touching distance of a Champions League place.
The question is whether he can beat Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Redknapp to fourth spot and the last Premier League place in football’s top club competition – and make himself a contender for the England manager’s job at the same time.
By Padraic Halpin
Ireland’s rugby board advertised for the newly established role of high performance scrum coach on Tuesday, just days after the national team’s scrummaging skills were shambolically exposed in a 30-9 Six Nations defeat by England.
The job, posted on the Leinster and Munster provincial websites, called on applicants with “a complete and thorough understanding of rugby union” to plan, research and constantly evaluate current scrummaging practice.
Whoever takes over from Fabio Capello either as a caretaker manager or a long-term replacement faces the dauting task of living up to somewhat unrealistic hopes that England will land their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
Let’s face it, the Three Lions have entered every tournament since, bar Euro 1996 on home soil, as one of the dark horses to bring the silverware back home but never as the top contenders among a plethora of more talented if not more resourceful nations taking centre stage either in European Championships or World Cups.
Fabio Capello arrived in London four years ago with a sparkling CV but for all his club success he departed still barely able to speak English and with his adopted country frought with division and long shots for success at Euro 2012.
It is ironic that his tenure was effectively ended by an interview given in his native Italian, when he said he disagreed completely with the FA’s decision to strip John Terry of the England captaincy.
So now we know. John Terry has been stripped of the England captaincy (again) but is available for selection for Euro 2012, which ends days before the start of his trial for alleged racist abuse.
Of course, Terry is innocent until found guilty and most fans would agree he should not be dropped from the team because of a so far unproven allegation, which he denies.
The fallout from England’s crushing first-test defeat by Pakistan has led many pundits to call for Monty Panesar to play as a second spinner in next week’s second test, despite the fact it was the batsmen and not the bowlers who failed to turn up for the world’s top-ranked test side.
Number 11 Panesar may have performed heroics with the bat in Cardiff to save the first Ashes test in 2009 but the Pakistan bowlers will hardly be quaking in their boots. Including Panesar would seemingly mean dropping seamer Chris Tremlett, who did not get a wicket in Dubai but still bowled decently. England getting Pakistan down to 289-8 having only scored 192 first up themselves was a good effort from the England attack.