Friday, April 30, 2010

West Indies too strong for Irish

ICC World Twenty20, Guyana:
West Indies 138-9 beat Ireland 68 by 70 runs
Match scorecard

Darren Sammy
Sammy gave the Windies a lift at an important time

By Oliver Brett

West Indies were given a brief scare by 17-year-old spinner George Dockrell before thrashing Ireland by 70 runs on day one of the ICC World Twenty20.

The hosts were 93-6 with four overs remaining in Guyana with Dockrell taking 3-16 with his slow left-arm.

But Darren Sammy clicked into gear with 30 off 17 balls to help them achieve a respectable enough total of 138-9.

It was the St Lucian's night as he took 3-7 and held four catches as Ireland crumbled to a dismal 68 all out.

In the first match of the same group that also features Paul Collingwood's England, West Indies won the toss - and as Sri Lanka had done on the same wicket four hours earlier elected to bat first.

But whereas Sri Lanka were unable to defend their score of 135-6, overhauled as they were by New Zealand in a final-over thriller, the Windies ultimately beat the Irish underdogs with total comfort.

George Dockrell, 17, bowling against West Indies
Young George Dockrell looks an exciting prospect

Windies skipper Chris Gayle missed the match after straining a buttock muscle, and injury also robbed them of two important bowlers in Sulieman Benn and Jerome Taylor.

Their top five batsmen all got starts, but then got out to give the Irish reason for optimism.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul top-edged a pull in the third over but Dwayne Bravo was unlucky to be caught and bowled by Alex Cusack from a confident drive which bounced off the Irishman's chest and rolled up his leg before being taken.

Dockrell took two wickets in an over when lofted drives were safely taken inside the boundary ropes, and picked up a third through a Niall O'Brien catch at the wicket - after Boyd Rankin had removed Narsingh Deonarine.

But just as Ireland threatened the unthinkable - three years after beating Pakistan in the World Cup - Sammy reignited the Windies innings in timely fashion as 32 runs came in the space of two overs, bowled by Rankin and the experienced Trent Johnston.

Sammy hit two fours and two sixes in that time, while Kieron Pollard added a classy boundary of his own.

Kemar Roach and Darren Sammy
Kemar Roach and Darren Sammy played key roles in the victory

And though neither man lasted until the finish, the momentum had shifted.

Sammy took an excellent slip catch from the second ball of Ireland's innings to remove Will Porterfield, and then accepted an easy offering inside the ring when Paul Stirling's attempted pull off Ravi Rampaul went wrong.

Either side of a 30-minute rain break, Rampaul picked up two further wickets as Ireland were rapidly overwhelmed.

In desperation, Kevin O'Brien launched a big shot as soon as Sammy came into the attack, but unerringly picked out long-on.

There was no respite for the batsmen as the wickets were shared around, and the highest scorer was extras, with 19.

Fittingly, the last wicket came when Sammy had Dockrell caught behind for the second lowest total in Twenty20 internationals with 20 balls remaining.

Ireland skipper Porterfield said afterwards: "We were right in it at half time, it was just disappointing with the bat.

"We lost four wickets in the first 21 balls. We were right on the back foot from there and the wicket was always going to get lower and harder to score on.

I knew once we got over 130 it would be difficult for Ireland

Dwayne Bravo

"We can be pretty positive about the way young George Dockrell bowled and it could be a straight shoot-out between ourselves and England when we play them."

West Indies stand-in skipper Bravo said: "My team-mates made my job very easy, they gave me a lot of information and I am very happy that we won our first game.

"I know Sammy is a clean hitter of the ball. I always had faith in the lower order and knew once we got over 130 it would be difficult for Ireland.

"With Darren and also Nikita Miller bowling it was always going to be very hard for them to get past us if we put the balls in the right areas."

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Wayward Woods fails to make cut

Second round leaderboard:
-8 Billy Mayfair (US) -7 A Cabrera (US) -6 P Mickelson, D Johnson, JP Hayes, P Goydos (all US)
Selected others:Evens P Harrington (Ire) +1 L Westwood, G owens, R Fisher (Eng) +9 Tiger Woods (US)

Tiger Woods watches his shot from the bunker
Woods cut a troubled figure after finding the sand on the seventh hole

Tiger Woods missed the cut for only the sixth time in his professional career after a horrendous second-round back nine at the Quail Hollow Championship.

The world number one, who started day two on two over, began with a birdie on the first hole in North Carolina.

But Woods, 34, went on to card three successive bogeys from the 10th before two straight double bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes to finish with 79.

American Billy Mayfair leads on eight under following a second-round 68.

Woods's second-day playing partner Angel Cabrera is one stroke adrift while world number two and Masters champion Phil Mickelson is among a group of four Americans on six under.

However, the spotlight will be firmly focused on Woods, who carded his worst round for seven years as he finished eight shots over the projected cut at one over.

His total of 153 was his highest ever score for the first two rounds at a PGA tournament.

"Whatever it was, it wasn't good enough," said Woods, making only his second appearance since his five-month hiatus following revelations about his personal life.

Woods reached the turn at level par - but his game completely unravelled on the back nine as he dropped an incredible seven strokes.

The 14-time major winner's troubles began at the 10th as he bogeyed the par-five hole before dropping further shots at the 11th and 12th.

Although he regained his composure to par the 13th, his game completely imploded at the par-four 14th, carding six when he pitched over the green and into the water.

Worse was to follow when he four-putted the par-five 15th but managed to consolidate the damage by carding three pars on the final three holes.

Woods has previously only missed the cut five times in 240 professional starts, his last came in the Open at Turnberry last year.

His half-way exit was his first on home soil since the 2006 US Open.

More to follow.

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Superb Henin through to last four

Justine Henin celebrates beating Jelena Jankovic
Henin produced 43 winners against Jankovic

Belgium's Justine Henin booked her place in the semi-finals of the Stuttgart Grand Prix with a 3-6 7-6 6-3 win over Serbia's Jelena Jankovic.

Three-time French Open champion Henin extended her unbeaten run against her fourth-seeded opponent to 10 matches.

The 27-year-old Belgian will play Israel's Shahar Peer, who overcame world number three Dinara Safina 6-3 6-2, for a place in the final.

Samantha Stosur also booked a last-four place with a 6-3 6-3 win over Li Na.

Australian Stosur extended her unbeaten run on clay to 10 matches and will play either the Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova or Anna Lapushchenkova of Russia.

Henin continued her excellent form since returning to the WTA Tour in January following a 18-month hiatus.

And Jankovic believes the former world number one is close to returning to her best form.


"She is playing the same, she is still one of the best on clay," said world number seven Jankovic.

"You have to hold your ground, as soon as you lose concentration she takes advantage, she has so much experience."

Henin made 44 unforced errors but produced 43 winners, while Jankovic could only manage 18, coupled with 23 unforced errors.

"She played very consistently in the first set and I was under a lot of pressure," reflected Henin.

"I kept fighting and I am really happy to get through."

Safina was playing her first tournament since retiring from the Australian Open in January with a back injury.

The Russian, who admitted she was struggling with her back during her win over Agnes Szavay on Thursday, made 27 unforced errors in her straight sets defeat at the hands of Peer.

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NZ beat Sri Lanka in T20 thriller

ICC World Twenty20, Guyana: New Zealand 139-8 (19.5 overs) beat Sri Lanka 135-6 (20 overs) by two wickets
Match scorecard

Nathan McCullum
Nathan McCullum celebrates after seeing the Kiwis home with one ball to spare

By Oliver Brett

Nathan McCullum was New Zealand's hero with a six off the penultimate delivery as they beat Sri Lanka in the opening game of the ICC World Twenty20.

Sri Lanka's 135-6 in Guyana was constructed around a brilliant 81 from 51 balls by Mahela Jayawardene.

Jesse Ryder hit 42 from 27 balls as the Kiwis started the chase brightly but they lost their way mid-innings.

Jacob Oram revived them with two sixes, and McCullum's blow off Lasith Malinga saw them home by two wickets.

"We put ourselves under pressure with the way we batted in the middle (of our innings) but Jacob Oram and McCullum rescued us in the end," said skipper Daniel Vettori, who ran himself out in the final over to give McCullum the strike.

"I can't hit them. It was easier for Nathan to do it and his six was pretty amazing."

It was an absorbing start to the Caribbean tournament, and provided an exciting conclusion to match those in both the 2007 and 2009 World Twenty20 openers.

And McCullum, ostensibly picked as a spinner - he bowled three overs of tidy off-spin, taking 1-17 - had ended up with 16 match-winning runs off just six balls faced.

With the threat of low scores on slow wickets widely advertised, particularly in Guyana, Sri Lanka's total always looked a notch or two better than it did on paper.

Mahela Jayawardene
Jayawardene produced easily the best innings of the match

They made sluggish progress after a bright start to their innings - with Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara managing a combined seven runs from 30 balls faced.

Fortunately for them, Jayawardene was anything but becalmed at the other end, launching Shane Bond for a nonchalant six over deep square leg in the paceman's first over, and two boundaries in his second.

Dilshan and Sangakkara were each bowled attempting manufactured across-the-line heaves, and that left Sri Lanka with problems at 44-2 in the ninth over.

But the 20-year-old debutant Dinesh Chandimal finally gave Jayawardene the support he needed, and gaining confidence from a fine straight six off Scott Styris, the young right-hander helped the former skipper add 59 off 44 balls.

Chandimal eventually fell to an outstanding catch by Ross Taylor, who held a catch on the long-on boundary after initially jumping up to knock the ball down as it threatened to disappear for six.

Jayawardene continued to hit some sweet shots for a while, but was one of three men to fall in a disappointing final three overs for Sri Lanka which produced just 17 runs.

One of those was peppered with near-perfect yorkers from Tim Southee, the most economical New Zealand bowler with figures of 1-21.

Sri Lanka looked in the mood to defend their score when Angelo Mathews opened with a wicket maiden, in which Brendon McCullum mis-hit a pull to midwicket.


But Ryder, back from frustrating injuries, played a typically muscular innings and scored his runs so quickly that New Zealand soon looked warm favourites.

In an attempt to show he could play deft shots as well, he missed an attempted late cut to be bowled by Muttiah Muralitharan - and the game fluctuated once again.

Sanath Jayasuriya, who did not face a ball, became a specialist bowler for the day, sending down four overs costing just 17 runs - and he yorked Martin Guptill into the bargain.

Things were getting tough for the New Zealand middle order, and Taylor carried over his Indian Premier League struggles when he slog-swept Muralitharan to deep midwicket.

Hopes were finally raised when consecutive sixes by Oram off Ajantha Mendis left him and Daniel Vettori needing 26 from the last three overs.

With Lasith Malinga's low-slung exocets largely on target, and Chanaka Welegedara bowling Oram in the 19th over, 10 were still wanted from the final over.

Malinga bowled it, and after singles came off each of the first two balls McCullum, facing only his third ball in all, somehow swung a low attempted yorker behind deep square-leg for four.

Vettori was run out from the next ball, but with New Zealand attempting a second run McCullum was crucially put back on strike.

His next shot was a drilled, flat six over long-off which decided the match in stunning fashion.

Having reached the final against Pakistan last year, the result was a disappointment for Sri Lanka skipper Sangakkara.

"We fell about 10-12 runs short. Mahela batted well with Chandimal but we need to convert good starts into good totals and improve our fielding," he said.

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Afghanistan eye historic victory

ICC World Twenty20, 30 April-16 May
Venues: Guyana, St Lucia and Barbados
Coverage: Live Test Match Special commentary of selected matches on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and Radio Four Longwave , plus live text commentary and reports on all matches on the BBC Sport website

Norwoz Mangal in action
Norwoz Mangal captains Afghanistan in the West Indies

Minnows Afghanistan will make history when they take on 2007 champions and global powerhouse India in Group C of the ICC World Twenty20 in St Lucia.

Afghanistan were playing in division five of cricket's world tier two years ago, but have made remarkable progress.

"We want to give them tough cricket, fight hard and maybe make an upset," coach Kabir Khan said of India, who have not played a warm-up match.

Defending champions Pakistan open their Group A campaign against Bangladesh.

Shahid Afridi's team have endured a tumultuous year following the repercussions of their disastrous tour to Australia, where they lost every single match.

Experienced batsmen Younus Khan and Mohammad Yousuf were banned indefinitely, while ex-skipper Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved have been suspended for a year.

The Akmal brothers Kamran and Umar, along with Afridi, were fined and placed on probation for six months following an internal investigation conducted by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

"I don't know much about them

Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Afghanistan

However, new coach Waqar Younis believes the team have taken more responsibility for their performances on the pitch.

"I don't know if it's got anything to do with the bannings, but they have really started pushing themselves," said Waqar.

"I wouldn't say they're scared but they've probably started thinking it's a professional game and they get paid for it and there's a country's (honour) at stake."

Neighbours Afghanistan began their journey to the World Twenty20 playing the likes of Japan and Vanuatu in the lowest tier of the World Cricket League.

They clinched their berth in the West Indies tournament following a victory over the United Arab Emirates in the qualifying event in February.

And coach Khan said his team have the ability and confidence to surprise India and South Africa, the other team in Group C.

"They are mentally very strong, top-level cricket is all about the mental side of the game," he said.

"They are fairly used to [pressure] as wherever we have gone there have been big crowds following us, they will just have to get used to having the crowd against them as well."


India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, fresh from leading the Chennai Super Kings to the Indian Premier League title, admitted he doesn't know too much about his opponents in Gros Islet.

"If you ask me, I would not consider our opening match against Afghanistan as a practice game," said the 28-year-old.

"I don't take my opponents lightly. At the end of the day you have to win whichever team you play.

"I don't know much about them. It is good in a way because if we know too much about a side then you are thinking too much about them.

"However, our preparation will remain the same as if we were playing the best opponent in world cricket."

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Connacht 12-19 Toulon

Connacht (9) 12
Pens: Keatley (4)
Toulon (19) 19
Try: Kefu Con: Wilkinson Pens: Wilkinson (3) Drop-goal: Wilkinson

Gabiriele Lovobalavu of Toulon battles with Connacht's Frank Murphy
Gabiriele Lovobalavu of Toulon battles with Connacht's Frank Murphy

A Mafileo Kefu try just before half-time and 14 points from Jonny Wilkinson gave Toulon victory over a committed Connacht in the Amlin Cup semi-final.

Connacht threw everything at their classy opponents but fell just short.

Ian Keatley and Wilkinson landed three first-half penalties each with the Toulon star also landing a drop-goal.

Kefu surged over after a lengthy series of scrums before the break which proved decisive as Keatley's fourth penalty was the only score of the second half.

Toulon's victory means the final will be staged in Marseilles' 60,000-capacity Stade Velodrome on 23 May, with Wasps or Cardiff Blues meeting in the other semi-final on Saturday.

Connacht will be hugely disappointed having been right in it for so long.

They enjoyed a brief early lead at Galway's Sports Ground, with Keatley kicking a simple penalty after Juan Fernandez Lobbe had been caught offside.

Wilkinson replied with two penalties as Toulon threatened to overpower the home side.

But, after all that pressure, a Toulon infringement from the restart saw Keatley level at 6-6.

Wilkinson landed a fine drop-goal before exchanging penalties with Keatley.

The first-half action stretched to almost 50 minutes as Toulon were awarded a series of penalties and scrums close to the Connacht line.

The pressure told when Australian scrum-half Matt Henjak put centre Kefu in under the posts from close range and Wilkinson converted to give the French side a 19-9 interval advantage.

Keatley claimed a fourth penalty early in the second period as Connacht came out fighting.

But, despite laying siege to the visitors' line in the closing stages, the Irish province could not find the try they needed.

Connacht: G Duffy; T Nathan, N Ta'auso, A Wynne, F Carr, I Keatley, F Murphy, B Wilkinson, S Cronin, J Hagan, M Swift, M McCarthy, J Muldoon (capt), J O'Connor, G Naoupu.
Replacements: A Flavin, R Loughney, B Upton, M McComish, C O'Loughlin, M Nikora, B Tuohy, R Morris.

Toulon: L Rooney, G Lovobalavu, M Kefu, T May, C Marienval, J Wilkinson, M Henjak (c), S Taumoepeau, P Fitzgerald, T Leaaetoa, J Suta, E Lozada, J van Niekerk, T Sourice, J Fernandez Lobbe.
Replacements: S Bruno, B Basteres, T Ryan, K Chesney, O Missoup, J Sinzelle, P Mignoni, S Williams.

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Fulham cleared over selection row

Hull's Jimmy Bullard celebrates his goal against Fulham
Former Fulham player Jimmy Bullard scored in Hull's 2-0 win

Fulham have been cleared by the Premier League after West Ham's complaint about their team selection for the 2-0 loss at Hull on 27 March.

The Cottagers rested key players for a game which raised Hull's survival hopes possibly at the expense of West Ham, as the pair were then relegation rivals.

But with two games left West Ham are all but safe and Hull as good as down.

A statement said the Premier League board had decided "no breach of the rules had taken place".

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson rested Bobby Zamora, Danny Murphy, Damien Duff, Aaron Hughes and Dickson Etuhu for the game, which came in the same week as as vital Europa League tie.

Zola has 'no complaints' over Fulham selection

After the fixture, West Ham's hierarchy submitted a complaint despite their own boss Gianfranco Zola saying he had no problem with Fulham's actions.

Earlier this week, Hammers co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold said they had attempted to withdraw the complaint and regretted making it "in haste and passion" in the first place.

"We were very disappointed about the decision to put that team out at the time," admitted Gold.

"Let me tell you though, I would have done the same thing. I would have put out the ladies team if I had been Fulham.

"They were beaten 2-0 by Hull and you're thinking 'come on, how can that be?' but of course if you put out the ladies team then that's what's going to happen."

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West Ham and Fulham are already at loggerheads after the Cottagers claimed they were owed £450,000 compensation because the Hammers finished one position above them in the 2006-07 season, when they included the illegitimately-registered Carlos Tevez among their ranks.

Sullivan is reportedly ready to donate £100,000 to charity if Fulham scrap their bid for compensation and Gold now hopes the two clubs, who meet in the Premier League this Sunday, can draw a line under the whole matter.

"We're big boys and we'll move on now," he added.

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Djokovic hopes ended by Verdasco

Novak Djokovic
Djokovic made 46 unforced errors

In-form Spaniard Fernando Verdasco dumped world number two Novak Djokovic out of the Rome Masters, winning their quarter-final 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-4.

It was a gruelling encounter which ended after three hours and 18 minutes when Verdasco fired down an ace to book his place in the last four.

"The match could have gone either way - it was decided by one or two points," said Serbia's Djokovic.

Four-time winner Rafael Nadal plays Stanislas Wawrinka later on Friday.

Clay-court specialist Verdasco has reached the final of his last two events - he lost to Nadal at the Monte Carlo Masters before going on to win last week's Barcelona Open.


He will now face compatriot David Ferrer, who beat Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-1.

The other quarter-final sees Latvia's Ernests Gulbis, who beat world number one Roger Federer earlier in the tournament, face Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

Meanwhile, Federer's Rome exploits came to an end when he exited the doubles, along with Swiss Davis Cup team-mate Yves Allegro, following a 6-4 6-4 loss to American pair John Isner and Sam Querrey.

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Hosts South Africa name Cup squad

South Africa's World Cup build-up

South Africa's World Cup build-up (UK users only)

International users World Cup build-up video highlights here

South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has named a 29-man preliminary squad for the World Cup which they host in June.

Included on the list are West Ham striker Benni McCarthy and Portsmouth midfielder Aaron Mokoena.

But Nasief Morris who plays for Real Santander in Spain's La Liga is omitted from the squad.

South Africa kick off the tournament on June 11 against Mexico, at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

There are nineteen home based players in all on the list with the remaining ten playing in various leagues across Europe.


Other notable inclusions in the team are Steven Pienaar of Everton and Siphiwe Tshabalala who plays for Kaizer Chiefs in the South African league.

Coach Parreira will announce his final final 23-man squad for the tournament on 1 June, 10 days before the tournament begins.

According to coach Parreira, his main headache will be how to intergrate the foreign based players, with the locally based boys.

"This is going to be rather difficult, not because the overseas-based players are coming to this camp, but because we don't know what condition they will come in - physically and technically," Parreira said.

"Some of them have played too many games - like Steven Pienaar who has played 27 games since November, some have played half of what Pienaar played while others started in one or two.


"So they will come here in different fitness levels, which will give our physical trainer a lot of headaches to put them in good shape for the competition," said the coach.

The Bafana Bafana have just ended a three week training camp in Germany, with coach Parreira complaining about the quality of the opposition they faced.

Full Bafana Bafana squad:

Goal Keepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Shu-Aib Walters (Maritzburg United), Rowen Fernandez (Arminia Bielefeld, Germany), Moeneeb Joseph (Orlando Pirates).

Defenders: Matthew Booth (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Innocent Mdledle (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongani Khumalo (Supersport United), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth, England), Bryce Moon (PAOK, Greece), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk, Belgium), Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates).

Midfielders: Surprise Moriri (Mamelodi Sundowns), Franklin Cale (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fulham, England), Andile Jali (Orlando Pirates), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows), (Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia).

Strikers: Benni McCarthy (West Ham United, England), Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyabonga Nomvete (Moroka Swallows), Bernard Parker (FC Twente, Holland).

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Live Twenty20 - Sri Lanka v New Zealand


To get involved, e-mail (with 'For Mark Mitchener' in the subject), use 606 or text us your views on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide) with "CRICKET" as the first word. (Not all comments can be used. Messages will be charged at your standard operator rate)

By Mark Mitchener

Play is due to start at 1800 BST (TMS coverage starts at 1745)

1741: Here are the full teams:

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum, Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Gareth Hopkins (wk), Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori (capt), Nathan McCullum, Shane Bond, Tim Southee.

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara (capt & wk), Sanath Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendia, Chanaka Wekegedara.

Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew on Twitter: "Rumours of an opening ceremony. Guaranteed chaos in my experience"

1733: Toss news - Sri Lanka have won the toss and will bat first. Captain Kumar Sangakkara reveals that his predecessor Mahela Jayawardene will open the innings. Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori admits he'd also have batted - the Black Caps have a fully-fit squad and have left out experienced seamer Kyle Mills.

1730: Afternoon, everyone. It's three years and two days since Australia beat Sri Lanka in a crazy finish to a Caribbean World Cup which had veered from tragedy to farce at times. Once again, the West Indies hosts a showpiece International Cricket Council tournament - with a few lessons hopefully learned from last time.

But the world of cricket has turned on its head since then, with Twenty20 very much in vogue - so 313 days after Pakistan won the last ICC World Twenty20 at Lord's... welcome to another ICC World Twenty20, 2010-style.

The ICC's slogan for this tournament is "Bring It!" - and we've got a live text double-header in store for you each day, with two games from Guyana first up. Sri Lanka and New Zealand get the ball rolling at 1800 BST, before Ireland hope to cause an upset against their West Indian hosts at 2200 BST.

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Ferguson banks on Liverpool pride

Rafa Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson (right) is hoping Benitez's Liverpool can do United a favour on Sunday

Sir Alex Ferguson insists Liverpool will not "throw away history" by giving Chelsea the win to scupper Manchester United's Premier League title chances.

The Blues head to Anfield one point clear of United, who visit Sunderland bidding to overhaul the record of 18 English titles they hold with the Reds.

With two games to go, United boss Ferguson said: "They've been in 11 European finals and won 18 titles.

"Great clubs don't throw traditions away for one game. The fans know that."

The 68-year-old Scot added: "Do you think the fans want to go home saying their players capitulated and they didn't try and thinking it wouldn't happen again?"

Liverpool have endured a difficult season, which took a further downturn when they suffered a Europa League semi-final defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid on Thursday, going out on away goals after Diego Forlan's extra-time strike.

I don't care what Manchester United will do. I will play to win on Sunday because I want to make sure we can get those three points and still have a chance of fourth place

Jose Reina

However, with Ferguson's side facing Sunderland at the Stadium of Light two hours later, the Scot is hopeful that Liverpool's proud history and their professionalism will ensure they perform against Chelsea.

The Merseysiders themselves are battling for fourth place which comes with the chance to play in the lucrative Champions League but Rafael Benitez's Reds are seventh, two points behind fourth-place Tottenham having played one game more.

"It is difficult to say how Liverpool's players will feel," reflected Ferguson. "It is Rafa's job to prepare his players.

"The way we lost to Bayern Munich [in the Champions League] gave me a difficult job to raise players but you have to do it. That is your job.

"It took me a couple of days to get over it. But you can't wallow in pity.

"I would totally agree that we would have preferred last night's game to finish in 90 minutes and I have always said teams don't get the proper help when they are in Europe.

"Having to play Sunday lunchtime after a Thursday game is not fair but it happens time and again when we see repeatedly teams abroad being allowed to bring games forward to suit their programme. That is a fact.


"They say there is congestion but it is not that big you can't help a team by one day or a few hours.

"We have all had to cope with it over the years. You depend on the great resilience of the English player."

This weekend's fixture situation bears similarities to 1995, when on the last day of the season United headed to West Ham knowing it would take a victory at Upton Park and a Liverpool win over Blackburn at Anfield to give them the title.

United's failure to beat the Hammers 15 years ago made Liverpool's victory over Blackburn that day redundant.

But Ferguson is hoping Benitez's side can emulate their predecessors to aid the Red Devils in their quest to claim a record 19th league title by sealing an historic fourth in succession.

"We were depending on Liverpool producing - and they did," recalled Ferguson.

"You have to earn a right to win the title. Okay, there were a lot of English players in their team that day and they understood the history of Liverpool FC.

Owen 007

"But I don't think there has been such a swing that the current players do not understand the history of Liverpool."

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina has bristled at the suggestion he and his team-mates would be going for anything other than a victory against Chelsea.

"I don't play for them," Spaniard Reina said. "I play for my team and my supporters.

"I don't care what Manchester United will do. I will play to win on Sunday because I want to make sure we can get those three points and still have a chance of fourth place.

"We are playing at home and we never play for a draw or defeat. We will try to deliver a last home win of the season."

United's own quest for a win at Sunderland could be boosted by the return of 34-goal striker Wayne Rooney and captain and defender Rio Ferdinand, who has had recent groin injuries.

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Zola 'surprised' by Dorrans bid

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola
Zola said he had no idea the club had made a bid for Graham Dorrans

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola has revealed he was not told the club had made a bid for West Bromwich Albion midfielder Graham Dorrans.

The Hammers had a £4m offer for Dorrans rejected on Tuesday and co-owner David Gold said they may try a second bid.

But Zola, whose future at Upton Park appears uncertain, admitted: "Dorrans is a good player but I didn't know the club was interested in him.

"I just found out in the newspaper and it was quite a surprise."

However, Gold insisted Zola was involved in the decision to make a move for the Scotland midfielder.

Dont Panic Mr Parker for Captain

"Everyone was involved in the decision making. Nobody is precluded from it," said the 73-year-old.

"A second bid is possible. He is one of the players we are looking at.

"We'll have to wait and see what happens on that. The player is a favourite of mine.

"He is a young British player who we like but having said that, sometimes deals don't work out and you have to move on."

West Ham are planning a summer of rebuilding with Gold promising to "push the boat out" on "quality" players.

Co-owner David Sullivan said on Tuesday that West Ham would consider offers for all their players apart from captain Scott Parker - something Zola also claimed he was not made aware of.

"If I was Mark Noble or Rob Green or Valon Behrami I wouldn't be very pleased to listen to that," said the Italian.

"I didn't know that it was something like this but it's ok. We have been through so many things we are going to get through this as well."

Gold said on Thursday Sullivan's comments had been misinterpreted and assured worried fans he wanted the Hammers' best players to stay at the club.

After struggling to avoid relegation this season Zola's position at West Ham has been questioned.

The Hammers effectively secured their Premier League safety on Saturday with a 3-2 victory over Wigan but several managers, including Martin Jol, Steve McClaren and Mark Hughes, have been linked with Zola's job.

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Leonardo hints at Milan departure

Leonardo's team have failed to keep pace with city rivals Inter in Serie A

AC Milan coach Leonardo has dropped his strongest hint yet he will leave the San Siro at the end of the season after being criticised by Silvio Berlusconi.

Milan owner Berlusconi is reported to have told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper: "He will leave, we are working on a new coach.

"Leonardo has been too tough headed and the team has played badly this season."

Leonardo responded by saying: "I can't deny our relationship is difficult. We are different, maybe incompatible."

Leonardo stepped up from his role as Milan's technical director to succeeded Carlo Ancelotti last May when the Italian left for Chelsea.

However, with no previous managerial experience, Leonardo, 40, capped 60 times by his country, has failed to improve an ageing team.

The Rossoneri, who have not won the league title since 2004, are third in Serie A but well adrift of top two Inter Milan and Roma and only four points above in-form Sampdoria who threaten to steal the third automatic Champions League spot.

"The important thing is these next three games," added Leonardo.

Milan crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage after a 7-2 aggregate defeat by Manchester United.

England midfielder David Beckham re-joined Milan for a second loan spell from LA Galaxy earlier this season but failed to have much of an impact before injury ended his campaign.

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Give Schumacher time, says Webber

Michael Schumacher
Schumacher has been struggling to get back to the front on his F1 return

Red Bull's Mark Webber says Michael Schumacher's return should not be judged until after the next two races.

Schumacher, 41, has been off the pace of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in all four races so far after returning to F1 after a three-year retirement.

"After Monaco we'll know how his form really is," Webber told BBC Sport.

"He knows he's not going to just jump back in and start blowing people away. He knows he was going to have to get used to it. He's not that naive."

Schumacher begins the European leg of the 19-race season at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on 9 May with an upgraded car in an attempt to get him on level terms with Rosberg, who is second in the drivers' championship.

Mercedes have introduced aerodynamic upgrades, fitted the chassis Schumacher used during pre-season testing and lengthened the wheelbase to improve weight distribution.

Monaco is the sort of place where you just plug Michael in and off he goes. If he's not going to be doing that this year, you can say he might be having problems coming to grips with the car
Mark Webber

Schumacher has won the Spanish race six times and Monaco five times, and Webber believes that the German legend's feel for the Princpality's street track will give him a chance to demonstrate his full potential.

"He'll feel a bit more at home at Barcelona and Monaco," Webber said.

"They're the sort of places, particularly Monaco, where you just plug Michael in and off he goes.

"If he's not going to be doing that this year, you can say he might be having problems coming to grips with the car.

"These cars change every two or three weeks let alone every four years, so he's coming back to such a totally different environment.

"The cars are totally different, the tyres, the aerodynamics, all of which he's had to get used to.

"He's going to have to work at it - and that's what he's doing right now.

"But as I always said, you have to take your hat off to him, it was a very brave call to come back and test himself again at the highest level. He's an incredible competitor and he always has been."

Schumacher has scored just 10 points this season and had his worst showing of the season at the last race in China, but he is hoping the changes to the car for Barcelona will help him up his game.

Il Leone

"Our step forward in Barcelona will be bigger than you can make at each race during the fly-aways but it would not be realistic to expect us to suddenly be competing right at the front," Schumacher said.

"I am hoping for a better race in Barcelona than I had in China and of course I would not mind having had better results so far.

"However, the good news is that after three years away, I am feeling extremely motivated."

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Liverpool 'must improve academy'

By Sam Sheringham

Rodolfo Borrell
Borrell joined Liverpool in 2009 as the academy under-18 coach

Liverpool youth coach Rodolfo Borrell has revealed how surprised he was by the poor quality of the club's academy when he arrived at the club in 2009.

Borrell, who came with Jose Segura from Barcelona, believes it could take another two years before a player breaks through into the first team.

"The reality of what we found here was unacceptable," Borrell told BBC Sport.

The likes of Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen all came through the Liverpool ranks.

But since that crop of talented youngsters, the Liverpool academy has struggled to develop a regular supply of players ready for the demands of the Premier League and European football.

Striker Neil Mellor featured intermittently under Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez before being released to Preston, while full-back Stephen Warnock has gone on to play for England since leaving the Reds for Blackburn and then Aston Villa.

This season, Jay Spearing, Martin Kelly and Daniel Pacheco have been limited to occasional forays off the bench.

Benitez - who has signed highly rated Charlton midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, 18, and 15-year-old England youth international Raheem Sterling from QPR recently - says the club have a long-term plan to bring "British players with passion" to the club.

Jonjo Shelvey
Liverpool signed 18-year-old Shelvey from League One side Charlton

"(We want) players who you can feel what playing for Liverpool means to them," said Benitez,

"Shelvey is one of these and we have two or three names ready so we will try to do the best for the club.

"I was trying to sign Gareth Barry before and Glen Johnson was the same idea - we have this long-term plan in place and we will try to follow the plan."

Benitez has expressed his frustration at the lack of talent coming through and moves to restructure the youth structure began when former Liverpool winger Steve Heighway stepped down as academy coach in April 2007.

The club created a new position of academy technical manager, a post initially taken by former Ajax player Piet Hamberg before he was replaced by Segura in May 2009.

Borrell, who joined at the same time to coach the under-18s, said they have been working hard to introduce the practices that functioned to great effect at Barcelona's academy, which produced seven of the team who beat Manchester United in last year's Champions League final.

"The under-18s had no centre forward, no balance. They had no tactical level, no understanding of the game," said Borrell, who spent 13 years at Barcelona, where he worked with Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi.

"We are working hard, but you can't change things overnight.

"I think we have made a lot of progress over eight months, but we need to improve a lot more to get more players into the first team.


"I think if we keep working hard maybe in two years somebody can appear in the first team."

Liverpool's academy features players from Hungary, Iceland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Australia, but Borrell says the priority is to produce English players.

"When I arrived the first thing Rafa told me was that the biggest interest is to try to develop English players," he said.

"I agree - the best players to defend the Barca shirt are Catalan players, the best players to defend the Liverpool shirt are English players.

"The rest of the players who are not English, they must be massive, massive quality.

"We have to fight to make English players arrive. If in two or three years one of our players does make the first team, I think he will be English."

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Hodgson tipped for manager award

Roy Hodgson
Hodgson has received the salutations and praise of his fellow managers

Roy Hodgson is being tipped to receive the manager of the year award after leading Fulham to the Europa League final and Premier League safety.

Fulham, currently 12th in the table, beat Hamburg on Wednesday to set up a 12 May final against Atletico Madrid.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson described Hodgson's work as "miraculous", adding: "He should be manager of the year, no doubt at all."

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp said: "What Roy has done is amazing, unbelievable."

He added: "You look at the teams Fulham have beaten in Europe it's not exactly been easy.

"They've had a real tough run - teams like Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, Hamburg… just amazing results. He deserves all the credit in the world."

The manager of the year award is presented by the League Managers Association and is voted for by the association's 256 members, made up of all 92 league clubs' bosses, retired coaches, and those still involved in the game below managerial level.

The votes for the award were cast in early April, with the result announced at an awards ceremony on 10 May.

Hodgson is favourite to secure the honour after leading Fulham comfortably to mid-table and taking them through 18 Europa League matches, overcoming the likes of Shakhtar, Juventus, Wolsfburg and Hamburg, to reach the final in Germany next month.

It is a remarkable achievement for the Cottagers, who in 1996 were eight places off the bottom of the entire Football League in League Two.


And only two years ago, Fulham looked certainties to suffer relegation into the Championship until Hodgson led them on a run of 12 points from their last five games to ensure survival on the last day of the season, at the expense of Birmingham and Reading.

It makes Hodgson and Fulham's achievements this season all the more impressive, and Ferguson said: "It is a miracle.

"Hopefully Roy does [win] manager of the year now [because] it is one of the best British performances of all time.

"It was their 59th game of the season. He was doing well to get those players onto the pitch, ad they still have another four games to play.

"They started in that tournament in July. Crikey, I was on the beach."

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy echoed Ferguson's sentiments.

"Roy and Fulham have had a couple of fantastic seasons. Since going in there, Roy has really improved things. They are a really solid team.

"Don't forget, they were 4-1 down to Juventus at one stage and to come back and win that game and get to the final is amazing.

"Roy has got my vote as manager of the year. I think he deserves it. He has made the most of his resources without any shadow of a doubt. It is a fantastic achievement."

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Birmingham v Burnley

Birmingham   2 - 1   Burnley

Live text and stats


Saturday, 1 May 2010

Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Birmingham 2-1 Burnley FT
(HT 2-0)
  • Jensen (og) 29
  • Benitez 41
  • Thompson 87





Ref: WaltonAtt: 24,578


  • Birmingham 54%
  • Burnley 46%

Attempts on target

  • Birmingham 4
  • Burnley 7

Attempts off target

  • Birmingham 9
  • Burnley 5


  • Birmingham 6
  • Burnley 8


  • Birmingham 11
  • Burnley 10
  • Final Result
  • Full Time
  • 90:00+4:18 The final whistle is blown by the referee.
  • 90:00+4:09 Martin Paterson sends in a cross, save by Joe Hart.
  • 90:00+2:21 The official flags Christian Benitez offside. Brian Jensen takes the free kick.
  • 90:00+0:12 The official flags Christian Benitez offside. Steven Caldwell takes the indirect free kick.
  • 90:00+0:07 Christian Benitez is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Brian Jensen.
  • 89:24 Joe Hart takes the direct free kick.
  • 89:24 Substitution Cameron Jerome goes off and Lee Carsley comes on.
  • 89:24 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gregory Vignal by Wade Elliott.
  • 88:15 Effort on goal by Michel from just inside the penalty area goes over the target.
  • 86:48 Assist on the goal came from Jack Cork.
  • 86:48 GOAL - Steven ThompsonBirmingham 2 - 1 Burnley Steven Thompson finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Birmingham 2-1 Burnley.
  • 86:31 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Steven Caldwell by Cameron Jerome. Direct free kick taken by Steven Caldwell.
  • 85:09 Substitution Kevin McDonald joins the action as a substitute, replacing Graham Alexander.
  • 83:56 Tyrone Mears sends in a cross.
  • 82:10 Martin Paterson produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the target.
  • 81:01 Inswinging corner taken by Daniel Fox, Close range header by Steven Caldwell goes over the bar.
  • 79:42 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line, save made by Brian Jensen.
  • 78:13 Substitution (Birmingham) makes a substitution, with Keith Fahey coming on for Stuart Parnaby.
  • 78:13 Shot on goal by Lee Bowyer from just inside the area goes over the target.
  • 73:40 Christian Benitez takes a shot. Leon Cort gets a block in.
  • 72:54 Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson, clearance by Steven Thompson.
  • 71:36 Tyrone Mears takes a shot. Lee Bowyer gets a block in. Corner taken by Robbie Blake from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Michel.
  • 71:09 Lee Bowyer challenges Jack Cork unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Graham Alexander.
  • 68:45 Cameron Jerome delivers the ball, save made by Brian Jensen.
  • 67:13 Substitution Steven Thompson joins the action as a substitute, replacing Steven Fletcher.
  • 65:05 Substitution (Birmingham) makes a substitution, with Michel coming on for James McFadden.
  • 65:05 Centre by Graham Alexander, Headed effort from deep inside the area by Steven Fletcher misses to the left of the goal.
  • 65:05 Booking The referee books Gregory Vignal for unsporting behaviour.
  • 64:34 Unfair challenge on Gregory Vignal by Steven Fletcher results in a free kick. Gregory Vignal takes the direct free kick.
  • 64:05 Free kick awarded for a foul by Gregory Vignal on Tyrone Mears.
  • 64:05 Substitution David Nugent leaves the field to be replaced by Robbie Blake.
  • 62:49 Gregory Vignal crosses the ball.
  • 61:45 The ball is sent over by James McFadden, Brian Jensen makes a save.
  • 59:02 Free kick awarded for a foul by Martin Paterson on Gregory Vignal. Sebastian Larsson takes the direct free kick.
  • 58:10 The assistant referee signals for offside against Christian Benitez. Brian Jensen takes the indirect free kick.
  • 57:04 Sebastian Larsson produces a volleyed right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.
  • 55:29 Direct free kick taken by Brian Jensen.
  • 55:29 Booking Stuart Parnaby goes into the referee's book.
  • 55:25 Stuart Parnaby challenges Jack Cork unfairly and gives away a free kick.
  • 54:27 Shot from just outside the box by Christian Benitez misses to the left of the target.
  • 53:30 The ball is sent over by Daniel Fox, comfortable save by Joe Hart.
  • 53:02 Lee Bowyer concedes a free kick for a foul on Tyrone Mears. Brian Jensen takes the free kick.
  • 49:46 Sebastian Larsson delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing, clearance by Graham Alexander.
  • 49:46 Booking Booking for Daniel Fox for unsporting behaviour.
  • 49:41 Daniel Fox challenges Lee Bowyer unfairly and gives away a free kick.
  • 48:47 David Nugent produces a cross.
  • 48:10 Steven Fletcher takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
  • 46:57 Martin Paterson takes a shot. Blocked by Gregory Vignal.
  • 46:09 Steven Fletcher takes a shot from a long way out clearing the bar.
  • 45:01 The referee gets the second half underway.
  • Half Time
  • 45:00+1:03 The match has reached half-time.
  • 44:35 Free kick awarded for a foul by Martin Paterson on Gregory Vignal. Direct free kick taken by Barry Ferguson.
  • 42:57 Unfair challenge on Martin Paterson by James McFadden results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Graham Alexander.
  • 40:53 Assist by Roger Johnson.
  • 40:53 GOAL - Christian BenitezBirmingham 2 - 0 Burnley Goal scored by Christian Benitez from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Birmingham 2-0 Burnley.
  • 40:23 Steven Caldwell challenges Cameron Jerome unfairly and gives away a free kick. The ball is sent over by James McFadden,
  • 37:41 The ball is swung over by Martin Paterson, Liam Ridgewell makes a clearance. Pass corner from left by-line crossed in by Graham Alexander.
  • 37:15 Sebastian Larsson is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Daniel Fox takes the indirect free kick.
  • 34:19 Jack Cork crosses the ball, blocked by Roger Johnson. Corner taken right-footed by Graham Alexander, Leon Cort takes a shot. Blocked by Liam Ridgewell.
  • 32:49 Free kick awarded for a foul by Gregory Vignal on Martin Paterson. Direct free kick taken by Tyrone Mears.
  • 31:36 The referee gives a free kick against Steven Caldwell for handball. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Sebastian Larsson, Unfair challenge on Steven Fletcher by Roger Johnson results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Brian Jensen.
  • 28:44 The assist for the goal came from Cameron Jerome.
  • 28:44 GOAL - Brian JensenBirmingham 1 - 0 Burnley An own goal is conceded by Brian Jensen. Birmingham 1-0 Burnley.
  • 28:33 Gregory Vignal sends in a cross, Steven Caldwell manages to make a clearance. The ball is sent over by Sebastian Larsson, Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Blocked by Brian Jensen.
  • 26:53 Foul by Cameron Jerome on Steven Caldwell, free kick awarded. Brian Jensen restarts play with the free kick.
  • 25:54 Martin Paterson crosses the ball, Gregory Vignal gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken by Daniel Fox from the right by-line, Steven Fletcher challenges Gregory Vignal unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
  • 25:11 The ball is crossed by Wade Elliott, Liam Ridgewell makes a clearance.
  • 23:24 Corner taken by Graham Alexander.
  • 23:16 The ball is swung over by Martin Paterson, Stuart Parnaby makes a clearance.
  • 22:52 Shot by Jack Cork from 25 yards. Joe Hart makes a save.
  • 21:45 Martin Paterson crosses the ball.
  • 20:13 The ball is swung over by Martin Paterson, Liam Ridgewell makes a clearance. Daniel Fox decides to take the corner short.
  • 19:57 Unfair challenge on Jack Cork by Sebastian Larsson results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Graham Alexander.
  • 18:05 Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Save by Brian Jensen. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by James McFadden.
  • 16:49 Inswinging corner taken by James McFadden from the right by-line, Close range header by Cameron Jerome goes over the crossbar.
  • 16:37 Jack Cork produces a cross, clearance made by Sebastian Larsson.
  • 15:53 Corner taken by Daniel Fox from the right by-line, Liam Ridgewell manages to make a clearance.
  • 15:03 Roger Johnson sends in a cross, clearance made by Leon Cort. Long range shot by Gregory Vignal goes wide left of the goal.
  • 13:40 Cameron Jerome has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the goal.
  • 10:43 Wade Elliott gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sebastian Larsson. Gregory Vignal restarts play with the free kick.
  • 9:57 Christian Benitez is ruled offside. Brian Jensen takes the indirect free kick.
  • 9:17 Martin Paterson takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
  • 7:52 Christian Benitez takes a shot. Steven Caldwell gets a block in. Corner taken by Sebastian Larsson, clearance by David Nugent. Corner taken right-footed by Lee Bowyer from the right by-line, save by Brian Jensen.
  • 6:14 Unfair challenge on Steven Fletcher by Lee Bowyer results in a free kick. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Daniel Fox.
  • 5:01 The ball is delivered by Martin Paterson, clearance made by Roger Johnson.
  • 2:40 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Lee Bowyer by Wade Elliott. Free kick taken by Liam Ridgewell.
  • 1:38 Unfair challenge on Barry Ferguson by Wade Elliott results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Barry Ferguson.
  • 0:57 Cameron Jerome produces a cross, Header from close in by Lee Bowyer misses to the right of the target.
  • 0:00 The referee gets the game started.

Live text and data provided by The Press Association.

Barclays Premier League
Venue: St Andrew's Date: Saturday, 1 May 2010 Kick-off: 1245 BST
Coverage: BBC Sport website, BBC Radio 5 live, local radio, Final Score, highlights on Match of the Day & live on Sky Sports 1


Birmingham will be without Stephen Carr after he was banned by the FA for one match in light of the gestures he made at Aston Villa last weekend.

Striker Christian Benitez may feature after a six-game absence as the Blues look to return to winning ways.

Burnley midfielder Chris McCann could make a surprise return to the squad after a serious knee injury.

Defender Clarke Carlisle is again absent after twisting his ankle in training last month.


Suspended: Carr (one match)

Injured: Dann (calf), Murphy (hamstring), O'Connor (hip)


Injured: Carlisle (ankle)


Nine months ago both Birmingham and Burnley were looking forward to the Premier League as newly promoted sides.

I've got to fill my car up in Burnley, but some of these (other) owners will never set foot in England again

Burnley chairman Barry Kilby

Since then it has been a season of contrast for the two clubs. Birmingham have long since booked their survival, while defeat last time out condemned the financially frugal Clarets to an immediate return back to the Championship.

However, both sides have been horribly out of form of late. Burnley have won just two league games since the beginning of November, while Birmingham's mid-season purple patch is a mere memory following a run of eight games without a win.

Alex McLeish's side are still smarting after their controversial defeat to neighbours Aston Villa last Sunday and will be keen to put on a show in their final home game this season. Playing another side in claret and blue should act as an incentive.

By not breaking the bank during their Premier League stay, Burnley are set up for the next 10 years according to chairman Barry Kilby.

The Clarets could surprisingly even be playing in the Europa League next season. Should Fulham beat Atletico Madrid in this year's final, Burnley will qualify via the Fair Play League as the clubs above them are already guaranteed a place in Europe.



• The Clarets are looking to complete their first league double over Birmingham in 48 years. Burnley won 7-1 at Turf Moor and 6-2 at St Andrew's during the 1961/62 campaign

• Burnley are unbeaten in their last four matches against Birmingham, although both Championship fixtures last season ended in 1-1 draws.

• Birmingham have not beaten Burnley at St Andrew's since a 3-2 victory in November 2000.



• Birmingham are unbeaten in 13 games at home. Their last defeat came against Bolton on 26 September, one of only two losses at St Andrew's this campaign.

• They have earned just four points out of the last 24 available.

• If the match ends all square Birmingham will equal a 102-year top-flight club record of five successive home draws.


• It's no clean sheet in 25 for the Clarets, who have conceded 56 goals during that period.

• If Burnley concede against Birmingham they will equal Wimbledon's Premier League record of conceding in 26 successive matches. The Dons' record was spread across two seasons 11 years ago.

• Burnley have picked up just seven points from a possible 48 since Brian Laws took charge.


Cameron Jerome


Jerome: 10 goals (10 league); Bowyer: 6 goals (5 league)

Steven Fletcher


Fletcher: 12 goals (8 league); Alexander: 8 goals (7 league)


Referee: Peter Walton

Assistant referees: Rob Lewis & Richard West

Fourth official: Stuart Attwell


Birmingham (L0-1 v Aston Villa, a): Hart; Carr, Johnson, Ridgewell, Vignal (Parnaby 75), Larsson (Fahey 75), Gardner (Phillips 85), Bowyer, Ferguson, McFadden, Jerome. Subs not used: Taylor, Benitez, Michel, Tainio.

Burnley (L0-4 v Liverpool, h): Jensen; Mears, Duff, Cort, Fox, Cork, Alexander (Blake 63), Elliott, Paterson (Eagles 71), S Fletcher, Nugent (Thompson 77). Subs not used: Weaver, Caldwell, Rodriguez, Bikey.


Burnley scorers: Fletcher 53, Bikey 62

Birmingham scorer: Larsson 90+5

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