Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Quinn parts company with Cherries

Jimmy Quinn
Quinn took over from Kevin Bond as Bournemouth boss in September

Bournemouth have parted company with manager Jimmy Quinn following a board meeting on New Year's Eve.

The 49-year-old took over from Kevin Bond at the start of September and was in charge for just 121 days.

The Cherries are second from bottom of Coca-Cola League Two, seven points from safety after starting the season on minus 17 points.

Eddie Howe is now the caretaker manager and will take charge of the team for the match with Darlington on Saturday.

"AFC Bournemouth have today parted company with manager Jimmy Quinn," said a club statement. "The move follows a board meeting held this evening with the new board.

"The club would like to take this opportunity to thank Jimmy for his efforts over the last four months and wishes him every success in the future."

The club say there will be a press conference on 2 January "where the new board will update the media on the current situation".

Late try helps Ospreys beat Blues

Cardiff Blues (9) 12
Pens: Blair 2, N Robinson Drop-goal: N Robinson
Ospreys (8) 16

Tries: Byrne, Tiatia Pens: Biggar, Hook

Filo Tiatia scores the late winning try for the Ospreys
Tiatia scores his second of the season and Welsh rugby's final try of 2008

The Ospreys finished 2008 at the top of the Magners League table following their 16-12 victory over Welsh rivals Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.

Wales star Lee Byrne scored the opening try for the Ospreys in the first-half after a great off-load by Tommy Bowe.

Ben Blair and Nick Robinson kicked six points each for the Blues.

But Filo Tiatia's try with five minutes remaining confirmed the Ospreys as the kings of Welsh regional rugby as they completed the double over the Blues.

Byrne was in danger of going from hero to zero after his second-half sin-bin but the 14-man Ospreys defence kept the Blues at bay.

The Ospreys' hard-fought win was just the Blues' second home defeat of 2008 and came after their 32-10 defeat of their old rivals back in September.

Both teams traded penalty goals as the all-Wales showdown took time to splutter into life in bitterly cold temperatures in Cardiff.

Blues full-back Blair landed two easy penalty kicks either side of a Dan Biggar reply for the Ospreys.


But both kickers also missed relatively straightforward kicks at goal inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour.

However, a scuffle near to the Blues try-line between Ospreys hooker Richie Hibbard and Blues skipper Paul Tito lit the blue touch-paper to warm up the full house inside the Arms Park.

Hibbard prevented Tito taking a quick line-out and the Kiwi lock seemed to lash out at the Welsh international, who in turn seemed to head-butt the giant Blues star.

It needed some stern words from referee Nigel Owens to calm the situation.

Tito's fellow New Zealander Blair, though, was forced off in the 17th minute with a suspected broken bone in his hand after stopping a Sonny Parker break.

The stop-start showdown burst into life when Tommy Bowe latched on to Biggar's flick pass to set up Byrne for the opening try of the game.

Bowe's burst sliced open the Blues defence and his delicate off-load to full-back-turned-wing Byrne was perfectly timed as the Welsh international dived over for his third Ospreys try of the season.

Moments after Biggar missed the conversion, replacement Leigh Halfpenny, on for the injured Blair, almost replied instantly for the hosts.

The Blues youngster's 30-yard burst was superbly and unceremoniously stopped und by Wales star Gavin Henson, the centre-turned-full-back, just yards from the Ospreys try-line.

However, Nicky Robinson's successful drop-goal from just outside the 22-yard line ensured the Blues held the half-time advantage.

The simmering undercurrent of the game between Wales' top two regions bubbled to the surface again when Tom James appeared to stamp on former New Zealand star Marty Holah when he chased down a kick.

Byrne was sent to the sin-bin for ten minutes after blocking Tom James' path to the line with a superb crunching tackle only to be penalised for killing the ball.

A Nick Robinson penalty extended Cardiff's lead but replacement James Hook, the Wales star on for young Biggar, dragged the visitors back into the game with a penalty of his own.

A great Henson break set-up a Ospreys onslaught and after bombarding the Blues line for a couple of minutes, Hook unleashed Tiatia to bulldoze over the line to complete an excellent comeback for the Ospreys with five minutes remaining.

The Ospreys survived a late Blues rally to end the year on the Magners League summit while the Blues, who have performed superbly in the Heineken Cup and are unbeaten in Europe, have only Connacht below them in the division.

Cardiff Blues coach Dai Young:
"Obviously we were playing a quality team, it was always going to be tight and it could have gone either way but I have to be honest, they did deserve it.

"They edged it, the scrum was a problem for us and I don't think we were accurate enough with the ball.

"We were not in a position to mount enough pressure with the ball in their half and they controlled the game better than we did."

Ospreys coach Sean Holley:
"The score-line was close because perhaps we didn't take as many chances but the difference really was the relentless pressure and some of the attacking rugby we took to the Blues.

"We were rewarded with two good tries and we deserved it but for long periods we were frustrated by some very good Blues defence.

"The intensity was awesome and it gives me goosebumps reflecting and both teams know they've been in a huge game.

"They were passionate about winning the game, I'm hoping the crowd have gone away after enjoying a great Welsh derby because that's what we're here to do as rugby is an entertainment business.

"The league table is a satisfying sight but there is still a long way to go but we've got to be confident because we are in a good position."

Cardiff Blues: Blair, Mustoe, Shanklin, G. Thomas, James, N. Robinson, Spice, Jenkins, G. Williams, Filise, D. Jones, Tito, Molitika, M. Williams, A. Powell.
Replacements: Halfpenny for Blair (20), Allinson for Spice (57), Morgan for Tito (57).
Not Used: Sweeney, Yapp, T. Thomas, Sowden-Taylor.

Ospreys: Henson, Bowe, Parker, A. Bishop, Byrne, Biggar, M. Phillips, James, Hibbard, A. Jones, Gough, Wyn-Jones, R. Jones, Holah, Tiatia.
Replacements: Nutbrown for M. Phillips (60), Thomas for Tiatia (76).
Not Used: Vaughton, Hook, Shervington, Griffiths, Smith.

Att: 12,813

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales).

World champion Jones to grace UK

Lolo Jones
Jones is targeting gold at the World Championships in August

World indoor 60m hurdles champion Lolo Jones has confirmed she will run in Glasgow in January and Birmingham the following month.

She will be part of the USA team taking part in the Aviva International Match at Glasgow's Kelvin Hall on 31 January.

Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be among the other teams.

And Jones will also be competing at the Aviva Grand Prix at the England national championships at the National Indoor Arena on 21 February.

UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos said: "It is clear Lolo was the best female high hurdler over the course of last season.

"These meetings are about our athletes competing against the best."

There is no doubt that Mo Farah has everything it takes to compete at the top in distance running

Ian Stewart, UK Athletics

Jones, 26, suffered mixed fortunes in 2008 after winning the world indoor title in Valencia before suffering heartache in the Olympics in Beijing.

Jones was favourite to take gold after setting a new personal best in her semi-final, but disaster struck in the final when she clipped the penultimate hurdle, when in front, and eventually finished seventh.

Her personal best indoors of 7.77 seconds is the 10th fastest of all time and Jones will be hoping to eventually threaten the world record of 7.69 seconds.

Jones is added to a line-up for Birmingham and Glasgow that already included former world 100m champion Kim Collins.

British long-distance prospect Mo Farah this week confirmed that he would be taking part at both venues, along with the Aviva European Trials in Sheffield on 14 and 15 February.

The 25-year-old claimed an encouraging silver medal at the European cross country championships a fortnight ago and former Olympic bronze medallist Ian Stewart - now head of endurance at UK Athletics - says Farah has the talent to add to his medal tally in future.

"There is no doubt that Mo has everything it takes to compete at the top in distance running and I'm looking forward to working with him to help him achieve that," he said.

"We have such a proud history in this country of success at middle and long distance and I believe we can get back to those days. Mo is hugely talented and - if he really applies himself - can play a big part in this revival."

Gerrard receives Benitez backing

Steven Gerrard
Gerrard has been key to Liverpool's success this season

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez says Steven Gerrard has his "full support and backing" following his captain's arrest after an alleged brawl.

Gerrard was charged with assault and affray after an incident at a bar in Southport in the early hours of Monday.

Benitez said: "I sat down with him and had a very good talk about the situation. We'll do whatever we can to support Steven in the weeks ahead."

Benitez also confirmed that Gerrard, 28, took part in training on Wednesday.

Gerrard was arrested with five other men - two of whom face the same charges as the footballer - near the Lounge Inn bar and nightclub in the seaside resort.

Benitez added: "Steven explained to me what had happened and I told him he has my full support and backing, along with everyone else at the football club.

"He's trained with the other lads after a couple of days off for the squad and is keen now to focus solely on his football. He is our captain and a key player for us.

"We've worked very hard to get into the position we're in going through to the new year and all of us are determined to keep that progress going. We're now concentrating on our preparation for the FA Cup game at Preston this weekend."

Steven has been an outstanding servant to Liverpool for the last 10 years and the club will give him all the support he needs at this time

Liverpool FC statement

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said: "We have a watching brief on this and have offered any help we can. I was concerned when I heard about the case as I have known Steven Gerrard a long time.

"I don't know the full details but as the players' union we would want to be supportive of him."

The England midfielder arrived at Liverpool's training ground in the suburb of West Derby at 1005 GMT and was greeted by a few fans, despite the freezing temperatures.

He has so far remained silent about the controversy and on Tuesday his wife Alex Curran, 26, said they would not be commenting.

Gerrard's visit to the bar on Sunday followed Liverpool's 5-1 demolition of Newcastle at St James' Park, a game in which the England international scored twice, as the Reds moved three points clear of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.

A 34-year-old man was taken to hospital with facial injuries after the alleged incident. Gerrard is due to appear at North Sefton Magistrates' Court with the other two men on 23 January.

The Football Association said it would not be making any comment on the Gerrard case other than to stress that his position with England was not in question.

It added that players would continue to be considered for England while police investigations were on-going, with their situation looked at on a case-by-case basis were they to be convicted of a serious criminal offence.

Meanwhile, Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish believes Gerrard will cope with the scrutiny, saying: "Liverpool will support him and the Liverpool fans will support him tremendously well. He's a really strong character and I'm sure it won't affect his performance.

A Liverpool statement, released on Tuesday, read: "Steven has been an outstanding servant to Liverpool for the last 10 years and the club will give him all the support he needs at this time."

Gerrard has been capped by England 70 times and has captained his country four times. He was made an MBE last year and received an honorary fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.

Transfer window set to swing open

Lassana Diarra
French star Diarra has already been unveiled by Real Madrid

The January transfer window opens on New Year's Day, giving clubs their first opportunity to buy or sell players since the end of August.

Several deals have already been agreed, including Portsmouth midfielder Lassana Diarra's £20m move to Real Madrid, and can be rubber-stamped from 1 January.

This year's window has been extended until 1700 GMT on Monday 2 February because 31 January falls on a Saturday.

A record £150m was spent by Premier League clubs in January 2008.

But that figure could be eclipsed this season if, as expected, Manchester City boss Mark Hughes is given major funds to strengthen his squad by his club's billionaire Arab owners.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has underlined his desire to sign new players, and has already had a bid of around £6m rejected for West Ham striker Craig Bellamy.

But teams such as Manchester United and Chelsea insist they will not be buying and others, like Pompey and the Hammers, may be forced to sell some of their stars to balance the books.

Wigan are keen to keep hold of England striker Emile Heskey, who is out of contract in the summer, while Newcastle striker Michael Owen and his Magpies team-mate goalkeeper Shay Given are also in demand.

Most Premier League managers have already had their say over how they see the next month going:

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
"Although we are not close to signing anyone at the moment, if we do buy I think what we need is maybe someone with a bit of experience. I need a creative midfielder and eventually another midfielder, because we are short.

"We already have many young players so, if we buy, it will be somebody who is ready to play straight away. A loan deal could also be a possibility.

"What we might need is someone who can create a little spark."

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill:
"We are definitely looking at trying to do something if it is at all possible.

"I do no know whether the credit crunch has affected the market but this is a chance for all clubs to add to their squads."

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce:
"I'm also more focused on getting players in rather than players out. Certainly my focus over the last two days has been speaking to the chairman about that.

"We're both going to go out and try and improve our squad as quickly as possible."

Nicolas Anelka
Scolari wants cover for Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka
Chelsea manager Luiz Filipe Scolari on his side's transfer policy:
"I knew that it's a different time for Chelsea but, if we suffer more injuries, the board understand that I'll need one or two players to replace some [injured] players.

"They understand this. If, on the other hand, the players are in good condition and there are no more injuries, I think it's maximum one player they'll replace because we need one more. Only one. A striker.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon says transfer activity will be kept to a minimum:
"I don't think we will be doing any business in the January transfer window because the type of players we are looking for are not available.

"Another reason is that we have still got some long-term injuries coming back and in January or February, Chelsea will have more player availability."

Everton manager David Moyes:
"We are actively looking at what will make a difference, but I don't think I will be able to do much in January. I am more likely to be looking at loans.

"Anything the club have got they will give me. But that doesn't mean to say I am not out there looking for loans or Bosman signings or anything else that can help us.

"I don't think we will be selling because we don't have the numbers. We are short at this present time and that limits what I can do off the bench."

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez admits signings are unlikely:
"It will be difficult to bring anyone in January because we have a good squad.

"To bring in anyone better than what we've got isn't easy and could be expensive."

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes
Hughes is expected to make a number of signings in January
Manchester City manager Mark Hughes:
"I think everyone understands there are certain areas of the squad which need strengthening and we will look to address those in the window.

"We are looking to bring good quality players to the club to help our situation and make sure that the club is moving forward in the future. There is no guarantee how many of those players we will be able to bring to the club. It is clear from everyone's point of view that we do need help."

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
"I do not think there will be any January transfers, I am happy with what I have got.

"We are probably going to bring back a couple of young players who have been on loan. That may just give us extra protection.

"We took 23 players to Japan (for the Club World Cup) and they are substantial players. I would be happy to play any one of them."

Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear insists goalkeeper Shay Given is not for sale:
"Shay won't be leaving - he has no interest in that whatsoever. He loves the football club - he's part of the city and that suits us because he's a world-class goalkeeper.

Portsmouth manager Tony Adams:
"The board are going to do exactly what they did for [former boss] Harry Redknapp to me, and I had money anyway [before Real's move for Diarra]. I have had new signings in mind since I have been in the job."

Stoke chairman Peter Coates:
"We've got a few things on the go. I think Tony Pulis would like about three players, but I don't want to give too much away.

"I do know we'll have a stronger squad at the end of January than what we have now."

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp on his January targets:
"If could find a wide-left player I would like to get one. That and a frontman would be the priority."

"I think Portsmouth have had a massive offer from somebody for Jermain Defoe, so good luck to them - I paid about £9m when I signed him. He is a good player but we're not going to pay over the top for anyone."

"I like Stewart Downing but I don't know whether Middlesbrough want to sell him."

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola:
"We have some very good players and I'm not surprised that big teams want them.

"As far as I am concerned they are not for sale and I don't want to sell my best players. I would be very annoyed if we did. They [the club] have to give me a very good reason if they do that.

"They have been very good to me and I don't think they want to make this team weaker."

Tuitupou out for rest of season

Sam Tuitupou
Sam Tuitupou has scored 12 tries since joining Worcester Warriors in 2007.

Worcester Warriors' All Black centre Sam Tuitupou will miss the rest of the season after injuring his right knee.

The New Zealander ruptured his right anterior cruciate ligament during Saturday's 16-16 Guinness Premiership draw at Newcastle Falcons.

Director of rugby Mike Ruddock said that losing the 26-year-old international is a major setback.

"He's out for the rest of the season so it's a big blow for Sam and for us," Ruddock told BBC Hereford & Worcester.

"What's amazing is that he did it quite early on in the Newcastle game and was able to play on and that just shows what a great character and competitor he is. We're going to miss those traits."

Tuitupou, who has played nine times for the All Blacks, has scored 12 tries in his 35 appearances for the Warriors.

He will need reconstruction surgery but is expected to make a full recovery and be available for pre-season training next year.

And, in the short term, his injury gives summer signing Hal Luscombe a chance to get back into action.

The 27-year-old Wales international has spent most of the season on the sidelines since his summer move from Harlequins, but is back to full fitness.

'He's a class player," said Ruddock. "And he's looking more and more confident with his progress after injury.

"If ever you're going to look to a player to step in to take over from someone like Sammy then I think Hal Luscombe is the sort of player you'd want there as a replacement."

Zaliukas considers Hearts future

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Zaliukas was accused of head-butting Aberdeen's Lee Miller

Marius Zaliukas is considering his future with Hearts after the club's appeal against Saturday's red card was rejected by referee Iain Brines.

Zaliukas, who has been linked with a £2m January move to Russian football, was accused of head-butting Lee Miller.

And he told Hearts' website: "The whole world could see I did nothing wrong.

"I like football here, but I am now disillusioned with the game. Now I'm thinking I would rather leave if this sort of thing is going to happen."

Zaliukas had already been booked in the 1-0 defeat by Aberdeen before receiving a straight red card.

Hearts lodged an appeal after manager Csaba Lazslo reviewed video evidence, but Brines stood by his decision after also watching replays.

I have spoken to players from other clubs since the incident and they were all surprised it was a red card having seen it on television

Hearts defender Marius Zaliukas

"I did nothing wrong," said Zaliukas. "Okay, I made a mistake when I got my yellow card in the game and I admit that.

"But I still maintain I didn't deserve the red card."

Hearts were angered not only to lose the appeal but that the referee who was in charge of the match was the final arbiter.

"The club was very supportive of me, which I'm grateful for, and we were all confident justice would be done," said Zaliukas, who has been linked with both Moscow clubs.

"I like Hearts and the fans and want to do well for the team, but what chance do players have when this sort of thing happens?

"I have spoken to players from other clubs since the incident and they were all surprised it was a red card having seen it on television."

Meanwhile, Hearts have been told they must win the backing of fellow clubs if they want to revolutionise the Scottish Football Association's disciplinary procedures.

An SFA spokesman said: "Disciplinary procedures are approved by member clubs at the agm.

"If any member club wishes to bring forward proposals then that, of course, is their right."

In England, appeals are refereed to an independent panel and Hearts could propose the introduction of a similar system in Scotland.

Cash-strapped Chambers may retire

Dwain Chambers
Chambers has tried American Football and Rugby League since his ban

Dwain Chambers may have to retire in 2009 because of financial concerns.

The sprinter tested positive for THG in 2003, served a two-year doping ban and was banned from the Olympics for life by the British Olympic Association.

UK Athletics says he is welcome to run for Great Britain again, but he has been banned from many top meets.

Chambers, 30, said: "It's not going to be easy. If I can't earn anything next year then I'll have to consider finding some other kind of living."

After his positive test, Londoner Chambers admitted he had taken other banned substances to enhance his performance and revealed to the BBC that he had started taking THG 18 months before he was eventually caught.

The revelation led to him being stripped of the 100m gold medal he won at the European Championship in 2002, and also cost him and his team-mates the gold they had won in the 4x100m relay.

The duration of my career will depend on how well I'm treated by the meet promoters

Dwain Chambers

Chambers challenged for a place in the British Olympic team for Beijing in 2008, winning the 100m at the GB trials, but in July the High Court refused his request for an injunction against his Olympic ban.

After failed stints in American Football and rugby league, Chambers relies on his partner to pay the bills and he owes the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) more than £100,000, money earned during the period he was using performance-enhancing drugs.

"I'm able to continue competing as long as my lady is still in a job," Chambers. "I have no-one other than Leonie supporting me."


The Euro Meetings Group, which represents 51 promoters, has banned him and other drug offenders from its events and Chambers admitted: "The duration of my career will depend on how well I'm treated by the meet promoters."

UKA chief executive Niels de Vos failed in an attempt to prevent Chambers competing in last year's World Indoor Championships.

UKA at that time were unaware Chambers had continued to abide by IAAF out-of-competition regulations and the world governing body pronounced he was eligible to race.

However, in September De Vos said Chambers, who claimed world indoors 60m silver, would be welcome back in the British team.

"The reason I didn't think Dwain should have competed in the world indoors was that he had not been on a [drugs] testing programme for 12 months. That was it, pure and simple," said De Vos.

Chambers plans to challenge for the European Indoor 60m title in March and then compete at the World Championships in the summer.

"I plan opening my season at the Birmingham Games in January, then the trials as I want to run in the European Indoors and at the World Championships," he added. "I want to win medals for my country. I can achieve that and get the job done."

Chambers reveals in his book Race Against Me, which will be published in March, how he not only lost his house but saw his income drop from six figures to nothing.

He will soon attempt to overturn his ban on competing at UKA-organised international meetings, which could provide him with valuable income.

"I'll try to arrange a meeting with Niels de Vos in the new year and we'll see what happens," said Chambers.

Addicks appoint Parkinson as boss

New Charlton boss Phil Parkinson
Parkinson came to Charlton as Alan Pardew's assistant in January 2007

Charlton have appointed caretaker boss Phil Parkinson as their new manager on a permanent basis.

The Addicks are rooted to the bottom of the Championship table after a nightmare season, and parted company with Alan Pardew on 22 November.

"The overwhelming feeling was that Phil was the best man to lead us and rescue us from our current plight," said Charlton chairman Richard Murray.

Parkinson has won three points from the eight games he has been in charge for.

"I'm obviously delighted with the board's decision, and I fully intend to make the most of this opportunity," said Parkinson.

"January is a very important time for the club and while we are in a similar position to most Championship clubs with little money around, it's up to us to wheel and deal to the best of our ability to improve the squad and give us a fighting chance of staying in the division."

Charlton have not won a league game since 4 October, and are four points adrift of second-from-bottom Southampton.

"With 20 matches remaining this season, we were aware that time was an issue, particularly with the January transfer window opening on Thursday," added Murray.

"Phil knows the players, knows the strengths and weaknesses of the side, and has huge Football League experience. Perhaps most importantly, he is a strong character and knows how to battle against adversity."

The 41-year-old played for Bury and Reading before moving into management with Colchester, who he guided into the Championship in 2006.

He then took the reins at Hull, but it proved an unsuccessful move as he left the club after less than six months in charge.

Parkinson was brought in as Pardew's assistant at The Valley in January 2007, and stepped up as caretaker boss in late November in the wake of Pardew's departure.

The Addicks have not won any of the eight Championship games that Parkinson has been in charge for as caretaker, with his only points coming courtesy of draws against QPR, Derby and Southampton.

I've been greatly impressed by Phil's motivational skills

Charlton chairman Richard Murray
"There has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes and performances have improved, although that hasn't been shown by results yet," added Murray.

"We've looked at the alternatives, but the calls and discussions we've had, given the current situation, have led us to conclude that there is no one better than Phil to turn things around, and we believe any money the club currently has to invest must be spent on the pitch.

"Changing managers and the backroom staff comes at a very high cost, and it's clear we need to focus any investment on the pitch because that is what will really influence matters entering a hugely important period for the club.

"We need someone who can operate smartly during the January window and someone in place for the biggest game of the season, our next league match against Nottingham Forest on 10 January when it's absolutely vital to pick up three points.

"I've been greatly impressed by Phil's motivational skills, and with Mark Kinsella and Phil Chapple, both of whom have Charlton running through their veins, supporting him, we feel they are capable of doing the job that is required."

Charlton are looking to strengthen their squad as they attempt to avoid relegation to League One, with Murray expecting three or four players to join.

"Phil now has the authority to act quickly in the window to make the changes we feel are needed to the squad ahead of a vitally important four months," said Addicks chief executive Steve Waggott.

"I think everyone would agree we have underperformed this season, and it was therefore obvious that, with limited time and resources, we needed someone with strong views on how to get the club out of trouble, and how to do it quickly."

South Africa bid to take top spot

Third Test, Sydney:
Australia v South Africa.
Match starts Saturday, 3 January (2230 GMT, Friday, 2 January)

Match scorecard

Graeme Smith
South Africa captain Graeme Smith was the top Test run-scorer in 2008

South Africa can eclipse Australia as the leading Test-playing nation with victory in the third and final Test which begins in Sydney on Saturday.

The visitors took a 2-0 series lead with a nine-wicket triumph at the MCG and are looking to inflict Australia's first home whitewash in 122 years.

With Brett Lee, Shane Watson and Andrew Symonds injured, the hosts feature one of their most inexperienced attacks.

Andrew McDonald plus Doug Bollinger or Ben Hilfenhaus will make their debuts.

Having lost the final two Tests in India, Australia recovered to win both matches of the home series against New Zealand, but face the very real prospect of their first whitewash down under since 1887-88.

Australia have been the official world number one team for all but eight months of the last 13 years.

"We've had an amazing run as a team. We have dominated world cricket for a long period of time," said Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

"We've all got to remain upbeat. There's no time for panic or as (chief selector) Andrew Hilditch said, chop and change

"I'm still very positive and very sure that with some of these younger guys coming on that in a few years time we can get back up there and be dominating world cricket once again."


Joining left-armer Mitchell Johnson, a 17-cap veteran, in the bowling line-up will be seamer Peter Siddle, who has played three Tests, and spinner Nathan Hauritz, who also has just three caps.

"It's going to be a challenge for me and something I'm looking forward to," said the 27-year-old Johnson.

"That's probably my job in the team - to try to help these young blokes through this next little period.

"That's something I've got to step up and do now. I still think we're a very strong side even though we've got a lot of young guys in the team."

Meanwhile, the South Africans are determined to press for the cleansweep.

Batsman Ashwell Prince, who has missed both matches in the series with a thumb injury and rates his chances of being fit for Sydney at 60%, says the winning mentality is important ahead of the return series beginning in Johannesburg on 26 February.

"Momentum is important and we certainly don't want to give it back to them," he said.

We still have three Tests to play against them at home and to win this Test will obviously keep the momentum with us

Ashwell Prince

Referring to the series against England when they lost the final Test at The Oval to make their winning margin 2-1, he said: "We don't want to make the same mistakes again, and this third Test is obviously important for the rest of the summer.

"We still have three Tests to play against them at home and to win this Test will obviously keep the momentum with us."

Prince insists, however, that the world number one ranking is not on their minds and said: "We leave the rankings to the people responsible for them and we will just concentrate on what goes on on the field."

Australia have a fine record against the South Africans at the Sydney Cricket Ground, winning seven and losing just one of the 10 matches between the teams played there since 1910.

Prince and Jacques Kallis both scored centuries in the most recent encounter in January 2006, but Australia skipper Ricky Ponting made hundreds in both innings as his side won by eight wickets.

The world's three leading news agencies are not covering the series due to a dispute with Cricket Australia.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press have suspended all coverage of the 2008-09 season.

Their photographers and reporters did not supply material from within the ground. As a result, we cannot use pictures from the current match.

Given will not be sold - Kinnear

Shay Given
Given produced a series of magnificent saves against Liverpool on Sunday

Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear insists goalkeeper Shay Given will not be leaving St James' Park in January.

In recent weeks, Arsenal and Tottenham have both been linked with a transfer window move for the 32-year-old.

But Kinnear told The Journal: "He won't be leaving - he has no interest in that whatsoever. He loves the football club.

"He's part of the city and that suits us because he's a world-class goalkeeper. He's very happy here, he's very comfortable at Newcastle United."

Speculation surrounding Given's future increased after he produced a series of magnificent saves during the Magpies' 5-1 defeat by Liverpool on Sunday.

That performance led Kinnear to hail the Republic of Ireland international as the best goalkeeper in the Premier League.


"Shay's performance against Liverpool was brilliant and that got picked up on," added Kinnear.

"But ask the Geordie fans and I think they already knew how good he is. They know their football, so to be one of their favourites says it all about how good he is.

"He's the best goalkeeper in the Premier League by a mile."

Newcastle have some strength in the goalkeeping position, with Given's long-term deputy Steve Harper currently in discussions over a new contract.

However, Kinnear is determined to hold on to his best players, including England striker Michael Owen whose contract expires in the summer, as he attempts to steer the club away from the bottom half of the table.

Sharapova hopeful for Aussie Open

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova missed the Olympics and the US Open because of injury

Maria Sharapova is "hopeful" of being fit to defend her Australian Open title despite withdrawing from an exhibition event in Hong Kong next week.

Sharapova, 21, pulled out of the JB Group Classic as she continues to recover from right shoulder surgery.

The world number nine said on her website she was "not ready to play top-class competition in Hong Kong".

The Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the season, starts in Melbourne on 19 January.

Sharapova, who missed the Beijing Olympics and the US Open because of her shoulder injury, added: "It's with much disappointment that I have to withdraw from Hong Kong.

It's been a very difficult decision, but I only started practising 16 days ago

Maria Sharapova

"I've been using this event for the last five years to get match fit and ready for the new season. In fact, Hong Kong has been successful in preparing me for the Australian Open.

"Believe me, it's been a very difficult decision, but I only started practising 16 days ago."

The JB Group Classic, which will feature world number one Jelena Jankovic and Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, has a new format this year, featuring four teams - Europe, Russia, Team Americas and Asia Pacific.

Sri Lanka defeat spirited Tigers

First Test, Mirpur, day five:
Sri Lanka 293 & 405-6 bt Bangladesh 178 & 413 by 107 runs
Match scorecard

Shakib Al Hasan hugs Mohammad Ashraful
Shakib Al Hasan congratulates Ashraful after the captain reaches his century

Sri Lanka won by the first Test in Mirpur by 107 runs after Bangladesh made a gallant attempt to reach a massive victory target of 521.

The home side's 431 all out was their highest fourth innings total and the fourth highest overall score in Tests.

Skipper Mohammad Ashraful completed his fifth Test century before falling lbw to Chaminda Vaas for 101.

Shakib Al Hasan (96) added 111 with Mushfiqur Rahim before the final four wickets fell for 10 runs in six overs.

Bangladesh had resumed on 254-5 following a 15-minute delay caused by a damp outfield.

Ashraful, starting again on 70, cracked successive boundaries in the second over of the day, before surviving a confident lbw appeal from Dhammika Prasad with the new ball.

Having despatched Vaas to reach three figures in style with a thumping one-bounce four over mid-off, Ashraful then succumbed to the left-arm seamer in his next over.

He tried to work the ball on the leg-side but it straightened, hit him low on the pad and studious umpire Steve Bucknor made an instant decision.

Rahim maintained the positive intent, guiding his first ball down to the third man boundary and Shakib was also full of strokes, reaching his second Test fifty with a firm drive through extra-cover off Muttiah Muralitharan.

The star spinner was on the receiving end two balls later when Shakib launched one from off-stump and slog swept in over mid-on for four more.

The two batsmen took their team safely through to lunch, with Bangladesh having added 119 in the session.

Rahim took the score past 400 following the re-start with a deft late cut through the vacant slip region for four.

But in the next over, four short of a maiden Test century, the left-hander departed in unfortunate fashion when he dragged a wideish delivery from Prasad back on to his stumps.

Prasad struck again in his next over when Mashrafe Mortaza got a thin edge through to the keeper, and Rahim's enterprising innings ended on 67 when he launched Murali into the leg-side but failed to clear mid-wicket.

Five balls later it was all over when Mahbubul Alam drove confidently, only to be run out after slipping when he attempted a third run.

The series concludes with the second Test, which starts in Bogra on Saturday.

Teenage star Simmonds becomes MBE

MBE a real honour for Simmonds

Paralympic swimmer Eleanor Simmonds has become the youngest person to be awarded an honour in the New Year Honours list.

Simmonds, who only turned 14 in November, won two gold medals in Beijing and is appointed MBE.

She described the award as "a huge and unexpected honour".

Swimmer David Roberts, who equalled Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson's record of 11 gold medals, and equestrian rider Lee Pearson, who now has nine, become CBEs.

Billy Pye, the coach of both Roberts and Simmonds, is appointed MBE.

Cyclists Darren Kenny, Sarah Storey, Aileen McGlynn and Ellen Hunter, and swimmer Sascha Kindred, become OBEs along with British Swimming disability performance director Tim Reddish and ParalympicsGB chief executive Phil Lane.

Cyclists Mark Bristow, Jody Cundy, Anthony Kappes, Barney Storey, Simon Richardson and David Stone, swimmer Matt Walker, equestrian riders Anne Dunham and Sophie Christiansen and wheelchair racer David Weir all become MBEs.

Simmonds claimed gold in both the S6 100 and 400m freestyle at the age of 13 to become Britain's youngest-ever Paralympic medallist.

Lee Pearson
Pearson is yet to be beaten in three Paralympic equestrian competitions
"This is a real honour and I was so amazed when I got the letter," the 14-year-old told BBC Breakfast.

"I had to keep it a secret, but my mum knew."

Earlier this month she was named the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year but is setting her sights firmly on more golds in London in 2012.

"The last three months have been a whirlwind and, while feeling as though I am living a fairy tale, I want to work hard to keep my feet on the ground and refocus my efforts on my training and my schoolwork so that by 2012 I can hopefully repay in part the wonderful accolades and affection that I have received," she said.

Reddish also praised the efforts of Simmonds, and all of the Paralympians who were honoured.

"This is great recognition for Paralympic sport in general and it shows how disability sport is becoming the norm rather than the exception," he told BBC Sport.

"I can't remember as many athletes being honoured after any previous Games and I'm particularly pleased that swimming has been recognised.

"My own award came as a shock but I'd like to dedicate it to British Swimming because it is the culmination of 10 years of hard work which has brought us to where we are now."

Welsh swimmer Roberts won four golds in Beijing - three individual and one relay - to equal Grey-Thompson's mark of 11 Paralympic gold medals.

Pearson continued his unbeaten record by winning three golds - two individual, one team - for the third successive Paralympic Games.

Previously appointed MBE and OBE, he now becomes a CBE.

"It's great for all of us to be recognised for our achievements and I'm very proud to have been awarded another honour and happy for Anne and Sophie to have been honoured as well," said Pearson, who is now aiming towards 2012.

"I went into the Paralympics with an new and temperamental horse and it was a real test for me. When it got to the end of each of the competitions there was a real relief and to win three golds was unbelievable."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hamilton MBE a 'massive honour'

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton became the youngest ever F1 drivers' champion at 23

Lewis Hamilton said he felt "humbled" after becoming an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours.

The Stevenage-born driver, 23, became the youngest winner of the Formula One championship after a dramatic finish to the Brazilian Grand Prix in November.

"It is a massive honour and incredible privilege to receive an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen," said Hamilton.

"It is the most amazing culmination to what has been quite a year for me and something I am very appreciative of."

Having come close to claiming the F1 drivers' championship in his debut season, Hamilton secured the 2008 title with a fifth-place finish at Interlagos.

The Englishman's title rival and local hero Felipe Massa won the race in his Ferrari but Hamilton passed Timo Glock at the final corner to push the Brazilian into second place in the drivers' championship.

"The support I have received from the UK as a whole has been fantastic and a huge motivation," added Hamilton, who turns 24 next month and now lives in Switzerland.

Report - Lewis Hamilton, making of a champion

"This is not just a proud moment for me, but also for my family and every single person involved with the McLaren Mercedes Formula One team.

"I am also very humbled to be included on the Honours list alongside all the members of the general public who have been recognised for their tireless work in such varied and worthwhile arenas.

"It has been an outstanding year for British sport as a whole, and it is great to see so many fellow sportsmen and women being honoured."

Aged 13, Hamilton was signed up by McLaren and Mercedes-Benz to their young driver support programme and went on to claim the British Formula Renault, European Formula Three and GP2 titles.

In 2007, Hamilton became the first black driver in F1 and came within a point of securing the drivers' championship.

Hamilton added: "I am very fortunate to have been awarded for achieving my dream.

"It has required a lot of hard work and dedication, however it has been worth every single minute and I only hope that I can inspire young kids to do the same, whatever their dream may be."

Hoy surprised by knighthood


Hoy delighted by huge honour

Chris Hoy admitted he was still coming to terms with receiving a knighthood in the New Year's Honours list.

The 32-year-old won three gold medals in track cycling at the Beijing Games - becoming the first Briton since 1908 to win three titles at one Olympics.

"It's a huge honour, really unexpected and just an amazing way to end the year," the Scot told BBC Sport.

Hoy's mother, Carol, was appointed MBE for her work as a specialist nurse at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.

The Olympian said: "I was as delighted with my mum becoming an MBE as I was with my knighthood.

"She retired this year after about 40-odd years of work. The department she worked for became the top sleep lab in Europe. They've done numerous studies there which have broken new ground."

I certainly think there's more to come in the next three-and-a-half years

Sir Chris Hoy
Asked if they would go to the Palace on the same day, Hoy said: "I don't know how it'll work.

"I wouldn't want her day to be overshadowed by me but it would be nice if we were both there together."

Mrs Hoy revealed her delight at her son's award: "I'm really blown away, it's just absolutely amazing. It's just such an honour and I'm very, very proud of him."

The knighthood caps off a remarkable year for Hoy, who was also recognised for his Beijing achievements when he beat Rebecca Adlington and Lewis Hamilton to the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year crown.

"A knighthood is a unique thing," said Hoy. "You can't compare it to anything else - it's something that money can't buy.

"It's a fantastic way to top off a year when you've achieved everything you possibly can in your sport and to get this kind of accolade means a huge deal to me."

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Hoy looks forward to 2012 and beyond

The former University of St Andrews student, appointed MBE in 2005, said his honour would have far reaching consequences.

"For cycling, it's a big deal. I always try to do what I can to promote my sport because I think it's a great thing to do," Hoy said.

"It's great for kids or for anybody to do at any level whether it's elite level or just doing it for fun."

The Scot was a cycling enthusiast as a child. Having tried BMX, mountain biking and road racing during his teenage years, he eventually focused his efforts on track cycling and joined the renowned City of Edinburgh Racing Club in 1994.

Two years later Hoy was called up by the Great Britain national squad and after 1999 the medals began to flow.

His first major successes came in 2002, with world titles in the 1km time trial and team sprint followed by 1km time trial success at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

Hoy has managed to win nine world titles, but the Scot achieved wider recognition with his efforts at the Olympics.

Born: 23/06/76
Olympic medals:
team sprint silver (2000)
1km time trial gold (2004)
team sprint, kerin and sprint gold (2008)
World titles:
1km time trial & team sprint (2002)
1km time trial (2004)
team sprint (2005)
1km time trial (2006)
keirin & 1km time trial (2007)
sprint & keirin (2008)
Commonwealth medals:
1km time trial gold & team sprint bronze (2002)
1km time trial bronze & team sprint gold (2006)
The 32-year-old achieved silver in the team sprint at the Sydney Games, along with Craig MacLean and Jason Queally, before landing his first Olympic gold four years later in the 1km time trial.

But the crowning accomplishment of his 12 years as a Great Britain track cyclist happened during a five-day period at the Beijing Games when he won three gold medals.

By doing so, Hoy became the first Briton since Henry Taylor 100 years ago to win three titles at one Olympics.

Hoy began the rush with victory in the men's team sprint which was followed by gold in the keirin before the hat-trick was completed with a powerful performance in the sprint when he beat compatriot Jason Kenny to the title.

Asked if he would demand to be addressed by his new title, Hoy joked: "My girlfriend and my family will have to call me 'Sir' from now, I'm going to enforce that.

"I'm going to make my team-mates call me it too, or maybe a little curtsy as well."

He added that he is looking to compete at the highest level for several more years, having stated his intention to participate at the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where the Scottish National Velodrome is to be named in his honour.

"I'm doing it because I love my cycling and I still believe I can improve," he said.

Hoy wins Sports Personality of the Year

"I've only really been doing the sprint for less than a year and a half so I've still got more to learn technically and if I can keep the same level physically or even improve, which I believe I can do, there's definitely room for improvement.

"I don't see it as frustrating because you look at it on paper and you see 'This guy's 32, he's just had the best year of his life, how can he go on from this? There's younger guys coming through'.

"But I think I've improved massively in the last year so how do I know I've reached the top?

"I could be on a steep improvement curve so while I don't expect this season to be that spectacular, I certainly think there's more to come in the next three-and-a-half years."

But Hoy warned he might not be at his best when he returns to the track in 2009.

"I see next year as a stepping stone to the 2012 Olympics in London," said Hoy.

"The World Championships are only 12 weeks away. I'm not likely to be in the best of form due to the other commitments I've had, but I still want to ride them.

"I want to keep my hand in and see how it goes. I see them as the first step to winning another Olympic title in 2012."

Hoy knighted in New Year honours

Chris Hoy
Chris Hoy won three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics

Britain's Olympic heroes have been recognised in the New Year Honours list, with cyclist Chris Hoy knighted.

Team-mate Bradley Wiggins and sailing star Ben Ainslie become CBEs, swimmer Rebecca Adlington receives an OBE and boxer James DeGale is made an MBE.

Team GB cycling performance director Dave Brailsford is made a CBE, as is rowing counterpart David Tanner.

Lewis Hamilton receives an MBE after becoming Formula One's youngest world champion in only his second season.

Reading FC chairman John Madejski receives a knighthood for his charity work, and BBC cricket commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins is recognised with an MBE.

Hoy delighted by huge honour

Scotland's Hoy, recently crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year, became the first Briton in 100 years to win three golds at an Olympics with his success in Beijing in August.

Hoy has a double reason to celebrate as his mother Carol, who is a retired nurse, is recognised for her work on sleep-related illnesses.

"It's incredible and I'm absolutely delighted," said Hoy.

"I still can't quite believe it. To be given a knighthood is an enormous honour - it means so much to me and also to my family."

Ben Ainslie
Sailor Ben Ainslie has won three Olympic gold medals in total
Sailor Ainslie is honoured after winning sailing gold in Beijing - his third - while disabled swimmer David Roberts also receives an CBE after winning four golds in Beijing and his 11th in total.

Track cyclist Wiggins, who claimed two gold medals in Beijing and his sixth Olympic medal, is also awarded a CBE.

OBEs are also awarded to gold-medal winning sailors Sarah Ayton, Iain Percy, Sarah Webb while Olympic champion rowers Zac Purchase, Mark Hunter, Andy Trigg-Hodge and Tom James, and Peter Reed all get MBEs.

Adlington became the first British woman to win an Olympic gold in the pool since Anita Lonsbrough in 1960, and finished third in the vote at Sports Personality of the Year.

Brabants thrilled with 'really special' honour

She said: "I'm absolutely delighted to receive the OBE - it is fantastic to be recognised in the New Year Honours.

"There are so many amazing names on the list, it's something I'll treasure for the rest of my life."

Born with dwarfism, 14-year-old swimmer Eleanor Simmonds became Britain's youngest ever individual Paralympic gold medallist in Beijing and is also the youngest person receive an honour.

There are also MBEs for gold medal-winning cyclists Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Jason Kenny, Jamie Staff, Pail Manning, Nicole Cooke, Victoria Pendleton and Rebecca Romero.

GB boxing coach Terry Edwards was also honoured with a MBE after steering DeGale to gold and David Price and Tony Jeffries to bronze medals in Beijing.

James DeGale
DeGale has gone professional since winning Olympic gold
"I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard the news and I'm so proud to have received this honour," said DeGale.

"It was a dream come true to represent my country at the Olympics and to have won a gold medal, and this just caps a perfect year for me."

Hamilton's MBE rounds off an astonishing year for the 23-year-old after he won won the Formula One championship in 2008 and was Sports Personality of the Year runner-up.

The McLaren driver received a personally-written note of congratulations from the Queen.


Chris Hoy, cyclist, for services to sport.

John Madejski, for charitable services.


Ben Ainslie, sailor, for services to sport.

David Brailsford, performance director, British Cycling, for services to sport.

Lee Pearson, for services to equestrianism and disabled sport.

David Roberts, swimmer, services to disabled sport.

David Tanner, performance director, GB Rowing Team, for services to sport.

Bradley Wiggins, cyclist, for services to sport


Rebecca Adlington, swimmer, for services to sport.

Sarah Ayton, sailor, for services to sport.

Cheryl Danson, chair England Netball, for services to sport.

Ellen Hunter, cycling pilot guide, for services to disabled sport.

Rhydian James Morgan-Jones, for services to the horseracing industry.

Darren Kenny, cyclist, for services to disabled sport.

Sascha Kindred, swimmer, for services to disabled sport.

Philip Lane, chief executive Paralympics GB, for services to sport.

Brian McCargo, for services to sport and to the Special Olympics in Northern Ireland.

Aileen McGlynn, cyclist, for services to disabled sport.

Stephen Park, manager, British Olympic Sailing Team, for services to sport.

Iain Percy, sailor, for services to sport.

Timothy Reddish, national performance director for disability swimming, for services to sport.

Sarah Storey, cyclist, for services to disabled sport.

Peter Warburton, director of sport, University of Durham, for services to higher education and sport.

Sarah Webb, sailor, for services to sport. London.

Stephen Williams, rower, for services to sport. Henley-on-Thames.


Harold Alderman, boxing historian, for services to sporting heritage.

Robert Bloomfield, for voluntary service to rugby union in Northern Ireland.

Tim Brabants, canoeist, for services to sport.

Mark Bristow, cyclist, for services to disabled sport.

Tony Burns, for voluntary service to amateur boxing.

Sophie Christiansen, equestrian, for services to disabled sport.

Edward Clancy, cyclist, for services to sport.

Nicole Cooke, cyclist, for services to sport.

Bernard Cotton, director, Team GB holding camp, for services to sport.

Jody Cundy, cyclist, for services to disabled sport.

James DeGale, middleweight boxer, for services to sport.

Ms Leslie Dillingham, for voluntary service to equestrian sport.

Anne Dunham, equestrian, for services to disabled sports.

Terry Edwards, Team GB head boxing coach, for services to sport.

Gerald Ells, for services to veterans' tennis.

Major Stephen Farley, Team GB quartermaster, for services to sport.

Dr John Gillespie, for voluntary service to horseracing in Northern Ireland.

Paul Goodison, sailor for services to sport.

Dave Haller, swimming coach, for services to sport.

Lewis Hamilton, Formula One driver, for services to motor racing.

Andrew Triggs Hodge, rower, for services to sport.

Mark Hunter, rower, for services to sport.

Thomas James, rower, for services to sport.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins, cricket commentator and journalist, for services to sport.

Anthony Kappes, cyclist, for services to disabled sport.

Jason Kenny, cyclist, for services to sport.

Lieutenant Commander Brian Maddock, chief umpire, Wimbledon Championships, for services to tennis.

Paul Manning, cyclist, for services to sport.

Owen McGhee, services to sport and to charity.

Christine Ohuruogu, athlete, for services to sport.

Annabel Oxley, for voluntary service to injured jockeys.

Victoria Pendleton, cyclist, for services to sport.

Zachary Purchase, rower, for services to sport.

Billy Pye, British swimming head disability coach, for services to sport.

Peter Reed, rower, for services to sport.

Simon Richardson, cyclist, for services to disabled sport.

Rebecca Romero, cyclist, for services to sport.

Eleanor Simmonds, swimmer, for services to disabled sport.

Andrew Simpson, sailor, for services to sport.

Jamie Staff, cyclist, for services to sport.

David Stone, cyclist, for services to disabled sport.

Barney Storey, cycling pilot, for services to disabled sport.

Geraint Thomas, cyclist, for services to sport.

Matthew Walker, swimmer, for services to disabled sport. Stockport, Cheshire.

David Weir, wheelchair racer, for services to disabled sport.

Philippa Wilson, sailor, for services to sport.

Edward Wingrave, for services to cycling.