sport Saturday March 31 2018 One giant leap Joshua v Parker Britain hosts showdown between two undefeated world heavyweight champions for first time, pages 2-3 Tonight, 10.30pm Sky Sports Box Office COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY LAWRENCE LUSTIG / MATCHROOM Inside Bairstow leads England fightback 4-5 Spurs and Chelsea: the great culture clash 8-9 Ray Wilkins ‘critically ill’ in London hospital 9 2 2G S Saturday March 31 2018 | the times Sport Joshua v Parker Grounded Joshua knows that failure is not an option Ron Lewis Boxing Correspondent The thin line between success and failure could be one lucky punch, one mistimed duck. Anthony Joshua knows this, which is why he tends to leave the dreaming about his future to others. Tonight, at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Joshua faces Joseph Parker with three of the four widely recognised world heavyweight titles at stake. That is significant: no heavyweight in history has held all four at the same time. It took Lennox Lewis, who has become the benchmark for great British heavyweights, 35 fights and 11 years from his Olympic gold medal to get to a world-title unification match. Joshua has done it in 20 fights and six years. Different eras maybe, but Joshua’s career is still very much on fast-forward. There has already been much hype about a future meeting between Joshua, the WBA and IBF champion, and the American Deontay Wilder, who holds the WBC title. But Parker, the WBO champion, must not be taken lightly. The New Zealander may not have looked great in his two most recent fights but he is good enough to be a threat, dangerous enough to find out if the whole Joshua legend is built on sand. Come up short tonight and everything will come crashing down. “I feel that everyone is waiting for you to fail,” Joshua said. “I used to go in there thinking about a knockout but if I just think about performance I will revert back to training camp — balance, position of hands, defending and coming back. “Performance is what wins the fight. I have to repress the knockout urge, you have to be mature.” Among Joshua’s greatest assets are his thirst for knowledge and an ability to stay grounded. He remembers where he came from and is aware of how he got to where he is today. Among the promotional and training shots on his Twitter feed this week, he posted a picture of himself from seven years ago, in a hi-vis jacket chopping wood. Eighteen months before he came Joshua posted this picture from 2011 of him doing community service into the nation’s consciousness by winning Olympic gold in London at super-heavyweight, this was Joshua doing community service after admitting drug possession. His career could have been over then, but the man who stood by him is still in his corner today. Rob McCracken allowed him back into the Great Britain squad in his role as performance director and still trains him today. “It’s good to look back at the struggle,” Joshua said. “It shows where you’ve come from, the journey you are on. The world is built on opposites, isn’t it? It’s either success or failure, good or bad. It’s good to show the comparisons really. This is where it began and it’s never too late to start. “What you see is what you can achieve. If you don’t know there’s a Range Rover out there you won’t aspire to get one. I would just tell that kid to have a broader mindset and not focus on the estate or the community that you know. There’s a whole world out there, there are people with a lot of knowledge so it’s about broadening your horizons. “Boxing wasn’t that serious back then. If it was over then I’d just have thought, ‘It is what it is,’ because I didn’t understand the importance of it or where we were heading. “Kids can feel like there’s nothing out there for them. I won’t tell people it’s easy. It’s tough and the way the world is set up makes it difficult.” Back then, Joshua considered himself a big name in his part of Watford. Now he is a massive name around the world. McCracken has watched Joshua improve from raw novice to unified world champion and has never seen a dip in his eagerness to improve. “He has always got a smile on his face,” McCracken said. “He comes in laughing and joking and he leaves laughing and joking. “He enjoys training, he wants to know why he is doing certain things. He is always looking at different ideas. We’re always looking at people he is fighting and other fighters out there. “With boxers, you go through the start, the middle and the end. He’s still somewhere in the middle where he totally enjoys it and it’s an adventure for him and exciting for him. “The middle of your career is the best bit. You are learning things and thinking, ‘I’m not bad, I can really be good at this.’ He is not at the latter end which is, ‘Oh f*** it, this is a chore.’ And he’s not at the start where he doesn’t know if he is any good or not.” Tonight’s bout marks the first time that Joshua has faced someone younger than himself since the semifinal at London 2012. Joshua rightly starts as a strong favourite with bookmakers, but Parker presents him with a series of challenges that he has not faced in some time. At yesterday’s weigh-in, Joshua recorded his lightest reading in more than three years, which could be a sign that he is expecting to face a mobile opponent. Parker, who was also significantly lighter than in recent fights, needs to be elusive and must try to stop Joshua landing his jab. But Joshua’s height and reach advantage could prove the key to the fight. While there could be a cagey opening, at some point Parker must chance his arm and try to land some big punches. Joshua can afford to be patient as he knows that Parker is unlikely to have much success on the back foot and he can wear down the New Zealander to win in around eight or nine rounds. If one bit of news excited Joshua this week, it was that Sugar Ray Leonard was coming to Cardiff to watch him box, although even the news that a boxing hero was coming to see him was treated with a cold dose of reality. “That’s sick,” he said. “They’ll be at Parker’s fights if he beats me.” British star’s big weakness: ice baths Ron Lewis Anthony Joshua never shies away from hard work, but one thing he can’t stand is the cold. The biggest torture of Joshua’s training camp is the ice bath. No surprise then that he was the chief suspect when Mark Ellison, his nutritionist, discovered that the temperature controls on the bath had been altered. “I set it to 3C, which is as low as it will go, but I noticed someone had fiddled with it and put it up to 7C,” Ellison said. “He hates it. At first he was straight in and straight out again. He couldn’t last more than a couple of minutes. I like him to have five minutes minimum. “He rang me one night at 10 o’clock after being in it and asked could he have a shower because he was ‘f***ing freezing’. I said he had to keep cold and wait a couple of hours before having a shower. Those are the little things he wouldn’t have done in the past.” The ice baths are not the only things that have changed during this camp — so has his sleep. It meant getting a new bed — the same mattress has been brought to Wales for fight week — and changing his timetable to train earlier, having found that he would spend a long time on his phone after a late training session instead of heading to bed. “We monitor all aspects of his recovery, including his sleep,” Ellison said. “That’s significantly improved.” He was notably lighter at yesterday’s weigh-in, but Ellison insists that Joshua’s weight is of secondary importance to his body mass. “Our main challenge is to get energy into him,” Ellison said. “The last fight, his weight crept up. The trappings of success, we’ve a great chef here and he probably ate too much.” Anthony Joshua Joseph Parker 28 26 Age 6ft 6in Height 6ft 4in 17st 4lb Weight 16st 12lb 82in Reach 76in IBF, IBO and WBA Titles WBO heavyweight heavyweight Watford, UK Born Auckland, NZ 20 Fights 24 20 Won 24 20 Knock outs 65 18 0 Drawn 0 0 Lost 0 Total rounds 123 the times | Saturday March 31 2018 3 2G S Sport GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/GETTY IMAGES ron lewis on five crucial punches for the british fighter Joshua faces down Parker at the weigh-in yesterday This could be a nightmare for favourite Left jab “Establish the jab” is Rob McCracken’s most regular demand of Joshua. Everything Joshua does starts with the jab: combinations, one-twos and, most importantly, it allows him to use his size to control range. Straight right Joshua’s biggest weapon. It often follows quickly after a jab and can be thrown off front or back foot. It was the punch that won his IBF title as he knocked down Charles Martin, left, with it twice. Hughie Fury, Parker’s last opponent Analysis M ost people are seeing this as a straightforward fight for Anthony Joshua, but Joseph Parker is not to be underestimated. It’s a good clash of styles, it will be exciting, I see this as a genuine 5050 fight. If you set your feet against Parker, he has got good power and he has deceptively fast hands as well, so can get his shots off quickly. When I was preparing for Parker, I had been out of the ring for a long time, but we concentrated on not staying in front of him and moving away from the shots so they lost their power. I handled his style quite well. My style was kryptonite to his; he never really landed anything clean on me. But Joshua has another style and things could be different. Joshua’s biggest asset is the fact that he can punch. He can knock a house down. If Parker stands in front of Joshua, he is going to get knocked out, so he has to move his head to avoid the shots. Joshua has got good boxing ability but I don’t believe he will have an answer to movement. Everyone improves in fights, but as he showed against Carlos Takam, Joshua struggled with a moving target. If Parker uses his ability and gets his tactics right, he could cause him a major problem. If Parker gets caught in front of Joshua he will be in trouble; if he can use his movement, it could be a nightmare for Joshua. 6 Hughie Fury challenges Sam Sexton for the British heavyweight title on May 12 in Bolton. For tickets see https:// www.eticketing.co.uk/bwfc Overhand right Thrown more as a wound-up single shot, this punch produced Joshua’s favourite knockout when he beat Raphael Zumbano Love in round 2 in May 2015 Uppercut Everyone remembers the uppercut that led to the finish against Wladimir Klitschko, a sign that he is now more dangerous up close and has better upper body movement Body shots Joshua and McCracken have spent a lot of time developing him as a body puncher, a significant weapon especially against tall opponents. Tall opponents suit me, says Parker Ron Lewis tonight’s card Joseph Parker has begun to enjoy listening to the plans of Anthony Joshua. The WBO heavyweight champion is quietly confident he can spring an upset in Cardiff tonight. Parker, 26, says that he has come off his best training camp in years, helped by surgery to both elbows last year. It means he is fitter, faster and will be able to get his punches off more quickly. There has already been talk of Joshua facing Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion, for the undisputed title this year, or making an American debut against Jarrell Miller. Parker, though, believes the only fight Joshua will be after by tomorrow morning will be a contracted rematch with him. “He says he’s focused on us, so I believe what he says,” Parker said. “But for him to be talking to other camps doesn’t show much respect and doesn’t really go with what he’s saying. “Joshua is our only focus. Even though my team might be looking at Live on Sky Sports Box Office from 6pm Joe Cordina (Cardiff) v Hakim Ben Ali (Belgium) WBA International lightweight championship Josh Kelly (Sunderland) v Carlos Molina (Mexico) WBA International welterweight championship Anthony Crolla (Manchester) v Edson Ramirez (Mexico) Lightweight Ryan Burnett (Belfast) v Yonfrez Parejo (Venezuela) WBA bantamweight championship Alexander Povetkin (Russia) v David Price (Liverpool) WBA Inter-continental heavyweight & WBO International heavyweight championship From 10.30pm Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker fights in the future or talking about other fights, no one is talking to me about it because I don’t want to know. “The only person I want to know about is Joshua, the only person Kevin [Barry, his trainer] wants to know about is Joshua. Our whole team is focused on him. They can say what they want; if they are overlooking us, well it’s a big mistake.” Parker looked in good shape at yesterday’s weigh-in at 16st 12½lb, more than 8lb lighter than for his previous bout, against Hughie Fury. He believes Joshua’s style will suit him. “I box better against a taller opponent,” Parker said. “I expect him to come forward and I expect him to be active. I think it will go to and forth. I expect a good solid fight.” A crowd of 80,000 will mostly be rooting for Joshua but Parker says he will not be intimidated. “A lot of people flew here from New Zealand and Samoa to show their support and cheer us on. Hopefully they will be louder than everyone who is cheering for AJ.” 4 3G S RK Saturday March 31 2018 | the times Sport Cricket Bairstow and Wood fight back Mike Atherton Chief Cricket Correspondent Christchurch Day one New Zealand v England Hagley Oval, Christchurch (first day of five, New Zealand won toss): England scored 290 for eight wickets against New Zealand There is no more bucolic scene for Test cricket than the Hagley Oval and for Jonny Bairstow at least the surroundings proved to be inspiring. Three weeks ago he scored a blistering oneday international hundred on this ground and yesterday, with England in a crisis, he ended the day unbeaten and just short of a fifth hundred in Tests. He dominated a memorable counterattack after another dismal performance from the top order. It was touch and go whether Bairstow was going to get to his hundred before the close, given that he began the final over of the day needing three runs to do so. But Neil Wagner, the fast bowler for whom the stumps are an ornament rather than a target, was determined to keep him waiting overnight with an over of bouncers that Bairstow, in the main, let fly harmlessly by, apart from one tennis-bat style swat that failed to connect. Maybe there is a link between Bairstow’s brilliant one-day hundred and his innings yesterday, for he appeared to be in form when others were not. Alastair Cook and Dawid Malan, for example, have had minimal batting since the Ashes and are in the ridiculous situation of being rusty at the end of one of the longest winters on record. Both failed again, as did the rest of England’s top order, before Bairstow rescued the situation in combination with Mark Wood, who made an enterprising maiden Test fifty, full of eyecatching strokes that will, I fancy, be enjoyed just as much in the recounting. For a long time, it looked as though those twin architects of the Auckland debacle, Tim Southee and Trent Boult, would hurry England to an insignificant first innings again, sharing all eight wickets ultimately. They bowled an immaculate and probing length with the new ball, taking two wickets in the opening hour, returned after lunch to take three wickets for one run in nine balls, before running out of steam. Quite who was the more satisfied team, then, at the close is hard to say. Kane Williamson will feel that the eight wickets fully justified his decision to insert England for the second time in this two-match series, but from two crisis positions — 94 for five when Bairstow came to the crease, and 151 for six when Ben Stokes was dismissed just after tea — England will feel gratitude that they are still very much in the match rather than chasing their tail again, as they had to in Auckland after day one when they were skittled for 58. England made three changes to the team who lost the first Test, with James Vince and Wood returning and Jack Leach becoming England’s 684th Test cricketer, in place of Moeen Ali, Craig Overton and Chris Woakes. At the same time, it strengthened and weakened the batting, with Vince back in the No 3 berth, but Stuart Broad promoted two places to No 8, although that may be a temporary move given how well Wood played. A good Test pitch should put captains in a dilemma at the toss and once again, with the sun shining, an autumnal feel to the morning and a decent carpet of grass in front of them, neither was certain in his intentions as the coin Lunch scoreboard, day two England: First Innings A N Cook b Boult 2 (7) Poor footwork costs him his off stump M D Stoneman c Latham b Southee 35 (111) Caught in crease, edge to second slip J M Vince lbw b Southee 18 (41) Playing around full-length ball *J E Root b Southee 37 (63) Poor shot to ball nipping back off seam D J Malan lbw b Boult 0 (1) Stuck in crease, no need for a review B A Stokes c Watling b Boult 25 (63) Thin edge to ball going down leg side †J M Bairstow c Taylor b Boult 101 (170) Skied an upper-cut to fly slip S C J Broad c Sodhi b Southee 5 (6) Poor drive lobs easy catch to mid-off M A Wood b Southee 52 (62) Beaten for pace by full, straight ball M J Leach c Watling b Southee 16 (54) Edged a ball that held its line J M Anderson not out 0 (4) Extras (b 9, lb 5, w 1, nb 1) 16 Total (all out, 96.5 overs) 307 Fall of wickets 1-6, 2-38, 3-93, 4-94, 5-94, 6-151, 7-164, 8-259, 9-307. Bowling Boult 28.5-5-87-4; Southee 26-7-62-6; De Grandhomme 17-4-44-0; Wagner 20-5-69-0; Sodhi 5-0-31-0. New Zealand: First Innings J A Raval c Bairstow b Anderson 5 (15) Feathered a full ball that moved away T W M Latham c Bairstow b Broad 0 (3) Dragged forward and nicked off *K S Williamson not out 18 (41) L R P L Taylor c Cook b Broad 2 (13) Flashing drive to first slip H M Nicholls lbw b Broad 0 (7) Full ball nipping in towards off stump †B J Watling not out 7 (23) Extras 0 Total (4 wkts, 17 overs) 32 C de Grandhomme, T G Southee, I S Sodhi, N Wagner and T A Boult to bat. Fall of wickets 1-0, 2-14, 3-17, 4-17. Bowling Anderson 5-1-9-1; Broad 7-3-183; Wood 4-1-5-0; Leach 1-1-0-0. Umpires M Erasmus (South Africa) and B N J Oxenford (Australia). First Test: Auckland New Zealand beat England by an innings and 49 runs. 35 Balls it took Wood to move from 11 to 52 having taken 27 balls for his first 11 runs Wood proved a revelation as he struck his maiden Test-match halfcentury went up. Having inflicted a few scars in Auckland, Williamson decided to take his chances again and was rewarded with the wicket of Cook before spectators had settled themselves on the grassy banks. Cook’s vulnerability to the new ball is becoming a real concern. His past 17 innings in Test matches show a remarkably odd pattern: two massive double hundreds, one against Australia and one against West Indies, interspersed with 15 innings in which he has not passed 39. Once a byword for consistency, he is finding it increasingly hard to get through the new ball and there are not many better combinations to expose this frailty than Boult and Southee. Vince looked more fluent, although he was never entirely comfortable, having a review called against him for leg-before by Southee before he used one to overturn a bat-pad decision against Colin de Grandhomme. A fine straight drive to the boundary preceded another review, this time unsuccessful, as he was adjudged leg-before to a nipbacker from Southee that would have scraped leg stump. Then came the mini-collapse half an hour after lunch. Southee no longer swings the ball as significantly as he used to, making up for that with canny alterations, cutting his fingers down the seam to drift the ball into the righthander. It was to this variation that Joe Root succumbed first of all, the ball after driving sumptuously to the fence. Stifflegged and upright, and thus presenting a gap between bat and pad, Root had his off stump flattened and before he had removed his pads in the dressing room he had been joined by Malan and Mark Stoneman. The Middlesex batsman was leg-before after missing his first ball from Boult by a considerable margin and the opener was caught at slip to the same variation that defeated Root. d Stokes, watched by his mother and father from the m stands, and Bairstow began the s iinitial recovery, as Williamson turned to his supporting cast. t Both move more positively into their strokes than those who had t come before them, and it was a surprise when Stokes tickled one down p the t leg side shortly after tea. Broad lofted tamely to mid-off, and in walkl ed Wood at No 9 to help change the day. What a revelation the Durham man was, as he drove fiercely through the off side, pulled with authority to leg and when the wrist spinner, Ish Sodhi, was introduced, thrashed him over the infield. Soon h enough, Williamson was forced to spread the field and, with Bairstow flourishing as the stranglehold was removed, the control that New Zealand had enjoyed for so long began to disappear. A brace of thunderous pull shots off Wagner took Bairstow to 50. A finger-tipped drop by BJ f Watling was the only W chance he gave c although he, like Root, had his chops rattled, this h ttime when a rare bouncer ffrom De Grandhomme snapped the strap and sent his helmet flying off his head and h perilously close to the stumps. p Wood was bowled by Southeee with the final delivery before tthe second new ball became available, after which Leach played with pleasing assurance to p tthe close, to ensure Bairstow’s endeavours were not wasted. d Broad’s early wickets help Day two Mike Atherton With a nudge into the leg side for a single, a jig of delight and both arms raised, Jonny Bairstow went through to an excellent fifth Test hundred on the second morning, as England were bowled out for 307 half an hour into play. Below par maybe, but it represented a fine fightback after the top-order woes of the first day. Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson then took four quick wickets with the new ball, including that of Ross Taylor, New Zealand’s second-best batsman, to confirm England’s advantage. Broad picked up three in one of his more incisive opening spells of recent times, bowling quickly and challenging the batsmen with an attacking, full length. Broad had been threatened before the start of this series with demotion from new-ball duties and he responded to that by being England’s best seamer in Auckland. He continued that improvement here, by dismissing Tom Latham, caught behind, Taylor caught at slip and the century-maker in Auckland, Henry Nicholls, leg-before. England would not have been in this position without Bairstow, who has a far superior record as a wicketkeeperbatsman, rather than as a batsman alone, as he enjoys the dual responsibility, as well as the freedom that batting with the tail allows. He was the last man to be dismissed as he looked to carve Trent Boult over the off side, only to upper-cut the ball to an expertly placed fly slip. Earlier, Jack Leach became Tim Southee’s sixth wicket of the innings, the times | Saturday March 31 2018 3G S 5 RK Sport to avert another crisis KAI SCHWOERER/GETTY IMAGES 1 164 Bairstow’s century came off 164 balls. He hit 11 fours and a six on the way to his fifth Test hundred Langer the frontrunner to succeed Lehmann Elizabeth Ammon Justin Langer is favourite to be appointed Australia’s head coach after the resignation of Darren Lehmann in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal. The 47-year-old had been widely tipped to take over from Lehmann after the 2019 Ashes series, when it was expected he would step down. Lehmann announced on Thursday that he would leave his post after the final Test of the series against South Africa, which is due to finish on Tuesday. Australia’s new-look team — without the three suspended players, Steve Smith and David Warner, the former captain and vice-captain respectively, and Cameron Bancroft — produced a late rally on the opening day in Johannesburg yesterday, leaving South Africa 313 for six after an impressive 152 from Aiden Markram, the opener. Langer, who played 105 Tests for Australia between 1993 and 2007, has been the head coach of Western Australia since 2012 and has led them to two Sheffield Shield runners-up finishes. He has also had success in the Big Bash League as coach of Perth Scorchers, winning the title on three occasions. He has already been part of the Australian coaching set-up, standing in for Lehmann during some recent limited-overs tours. However, Cricket Australia (CA) will take their time before announcing Lehmann’s replacement. After the Johannesburg Test, Australia have no inside today ‘To watch Smith in tears felt voyeuristic and predatory’ Gideon Haigh, page 6 ‘We have fostered a culture of winning at all costs’ World, main paper, page 46 Bairstow celebrates after reaching his century early on the second day in Christchurch. He was out soon afterwards for 101 England to turn tables on New Zealand Broad celebrates the wicket of Latham — one of three he took in the first session when he edged to the wicketkeeper, after an assured first contribution in England colours, ending a valuable ninth-wicket partnership of 48. So for the second time in consecutive matches, New Zealand’s opening pair shared all ten wickets in England’s first innings, the roles reversed on this occasion, with Boult playing second fiddle to Southee. They had thrown down the gauntlet again to England’s new-ball pair on another clear, but crisp morning. When Anderson went past Jeet Raval’s outside edge six times in the first two overs, it confirmed the suspicion that the mornings could be the best time to bowl. It was no surprise when Anderson dismissed Raval soon afterwards and only a hair’s breadth prevented Kane Williamson from following soon afterwards as he survived a leg-before review from Anderson. Wake up to Wilde This morning: read the report on the second day’s play in Christchurch from Simon Wilde of the Sunday Times Available at thetimes.co.uk/ sport and on The Times smartphone app international cricket until they play five ODIs and one Twenty20 match in England in June, and they will want the dust to settle after the ball-tampering scandal. A potential obstacle to Langer’s appointment appears if CA’s review of team culture finds that his approach is too similar to Lehmann’s, or if it is decided that a complete break from anyone presently or recently involved in the Australian coaching set-up is necessary. Ricky Ponting is likely to be offered a role as an assistant coach. CA has been trying to get the former captain more involved in coaching the national side, but he is concerned about the amount of travel and being away from his family. It is possible that they will come to some arrangement with him to be an assistant coach, without having to take part in every overseas tour. Joe Burns, Peter Handscomb and Matt Renshaw came into the side yesterday with Tim Paine starting his first full match as captain. South Africa, who lead 2-1 as they aim to secure a first home series victory over Australia since 1970, made an impressive start after winning the toss and electing to bat on a slow pitch. Australia, though, fought back with late wickets, including those of the captain Faf du Plessis for a golden duck and AB de Villiers for a battling 69, to earn a much-needed boost in confidence. 6 1G S Saturday March 31 2018 | the times Sport Cricket Love of the game will rise above anger AFP/GETTY IMAGES Gideon Haigh says cricket’s devoted community will help it to make a full recovery A week ago, I was in Nyora, in Gippsland, a town of around 1,500 people that puts on to the field two senior cricket sides and one junior team at a picturesque oval. Nyora CC have battled back from the brink a few years back, led by a coach who is an old mate of mine. I was a guest at their presentation night, and had, as I seldom fail to at such gatherings, a great time, with solid cricket people. There was, as they say, a lot of love in that room. Afterwards, the coach and I adjourned to his couch for some cricket watching . . . and suddenly turned to each other, eyes on stalks. What. Just. Happened? Actually what had happened was pretty obvious, which paradoxically was what made it difficult to take in. Ball tampering has usually been evidenced by blurry photographs of furtive fingers worrying at balls and seams, not crystal clear live footage amenable to super slo-mo. In the statute book, at least, tampering has remained a relative trifle, certainly compared with matchfixing and doping. But here the misdemeanour was magnified by its being so vivid, so avid, so downright clumsy. My phone began to ping, and has not stopped, in a week of outrage unexampled in my sports-writing experience, to which my colleagues and I have contributed our share, but rather a lot of which emerged organically. Certainly I have never received such a volume of correspondence where opinion has run so strongly one way. There is a degree of selfselection to this: those motivated to write will be drawn disproportionately from the disaffected. But I was struck by the uniformly pained and long-suffering tone of these communications. This was, for many, in the nature of a last straw, after a protracted estrangement from South Africa fans mock the Australia players during the first day of the fourth Test between the teams in Johannesburg a team they’d lost faith in. At the same time, people don’t write or sound off about what they don’t care about, and in this respect they had perhaps more in common with the objects of their ire than they knew. The players and the coach in their mea culpas all used the word “love” when they talked about their relationship with cricket. I don’t think that’s a coincidence; nor is it invention or hyperbole. I’m aware of the passion engendered by other games, but I’m prepared here to make a claim for the uniqueness of the love of cricket. One simply does not love tennis or golf or even football the same way, even though they all matter equally — a lot and hardly at all. There’s the love of cricket’s complexity, the fascination exerted by the intricacy, variety and subtlety of its skills. There’s the love of its romance, of the elaborateness of its rituals, of its ineffability and mysteriousness to outsiders, of its heritage and continuity in the national story. There’s the love of its difficulty — the perverse affection that arises from it being so challenging and frustrating, for offering even the poorest practitioner a glimpse of the possible, for leaving at times even the greatest so helpless. There is also the love of its spirit. Sometimes this is travestied as an appeal for gentility — effete, Pommy nonsense, all garden parties and cucumber sandwiches. This is a misunderstanding. The spirit expresses a grasp of the need, as cricket is constituted and regulated, for restraint and mutual respect. As the Indian sociologist Ashis Nandy has noted, cricket is “almost unique in providing ample scope for unjust play as well as having strong taboos against such play”. Participants are quietly but bindingly committed to doing the right thing, by each other and by the game. It takes only one player to disrupt and ruin a cricket match. Two or three, as we have seen, and the game has no chance. In that sense, cricket will always be in danger of plunging into chaos; it is a source of constant wonder to me that it does not do so more often. This is actually a very different “love” to the kind that Cricket Australia has been selling these past few years, which has been an attempt, through the Big Bash League, to introduce to cricket a version of the tribalism of football. It is accessible, it is fun, it is lucrative but it relates to love about as deeply as Bachelor in Paradise. It is also a different kind of love to that expressed towards the game this week by cynical and exploitative politicians — the prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, cocking his tin popular ear to this story may have been just about its low point — and the craven, self-serving sponsors who quickly made for the hills. Commonwealth Bank cutting Steve Smith — now there’s a laugh, because it could just as easily have been the other way round. For all that he has erred, Smith can tell right from wrong; Commonwealth Bank has spent years wringing profits from serial violations of the law and common decency. Perhaps this is not the time to pick and choose, but cricket has gone too long helping the Commonwealth Bank launder its filthy reputation. While I listened sympathetically to the plaints of others, I outraged out quickly on this story. Professionally, I was obliged to feed the beast of opinion; personally, I’d just as soon have turned away, from the spiralling indignation, and the squalid business of public shaming. To watch Smith in tears and Cameron Bancroft in anguish felt voyeuristic, predatory. The desire to isolate, concentrate and punish the guilty was in part about the absolution of others who turned a blind eye to a worsening culture and reputation. It’s not David Warner’s fault alone that we have a team so widely disliked; there have been others perfectly comfortable with this because they thought it worked in our favour. It’s not Bancroft’s fault alone that he did what was asked; it’s what the culture encouraged him to do, even celebrated him for. But it’s self-indulgent in these circumstances to give way to anger and dismay, not if you truly love the game. Sadly, perhaps, cricket’s not always going to make you happy. Sometimes it will disappoint and depress you: it’s as straight only as the crooked bat willow of humanity. But love finds a way to rise above that, and there’s lots of it out there. I can recommend a visit to Nyora, Steve. You’d get a real kick out of it. 6 Gideon Haigh is a columnist for The Australian the times | Saturday March 31 2018 7 2G S Football Sport PETER CZIBORRA/REUTERS West Ham’s reputation at stake on and off the field Matt Hughes Deputy Football Correspondent It says much about West Ham United’s plight that the behaviour of the club’s fans is being deemed equally as important as the performance of the players against Southampton this afternoon. Compared with their hosts at the London Stadium, a visiting team managed by Mark Hughes in the Premier League for the first time, who have slipped into the relegation zone following a dismal run of one win in 17 matches, have little to worry about. A West Ham win would take David Moyes’s side five points above thirdbottom Southampton, representing a huge step forward in the battle to avoid relegation, yet such are the club’s myriad off-field problems that the eyes of many in the recently reinforced directors’ box will be fixed on other areas of the stands rather than on the pitch. The FA’s investigation into the pitch invasions and protests that marred the 3-0 defeat by Burnley earlier this month continues, and there is a real fear at West Ham that any repeat of those scenes will lead to them being forced to play home games behind closed doors, potentially for the rest of the season. The prospect of West Ham being forced to entertain Stoke City, Manchester United, Manchester City and Everton in an empty stadium would significantly hinder their chances of staying in the Premier League, particularly as their remaining away fixtures look fiendishly difficult, including London derbies away to Chelsea and Arsenal and a trip to Leicester City. The FA has permitted West Ham to maintain the stadium’s 57,000 capacity this afternoon, but are expected to issue a fine once their investigation into the Burnley game is concluded. The club have been busy since that toxic afternoon three weeks ago, issuing 20 lifetime bans to supporters, installing a protective barrier around the directors’ box and Hughes will take charge of Southampton in the league for the first time this afternoon holding talks with the stadium’s Safety Advisory Group that have resulted in a significant increase in the numbers of stewards and police on duty today. In addition Karren Brady, the vicechairman, met the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, this week, although fans immediately questioned how one 45minute meeting could solve the problems between West Ham and the London Legacy Development Corporation, the stadium owners who are engaged in a bitter legal battle, as The Times reported last week. West Ham have also been attempting to ease tensions with their fans, with Moyes, Mark Noble and Sir Trevor Brooking all appealing for calm this week, although the impact of such messages remains to be seen. Despite the calls for unity, the Real West Ham Fans Action Group have organised a protest to be held outside Stratford station today, and it would not be a surprise if this atmosphere of dissension permeated the stadium. The fact that crowdfunding pages have been set up to help the five fans who are facing fines following criminal charges also demonstrates that the miscreants have support within the wider fanbase. While he will not say so publicly Moyes is convinced that the pitch invasions cost West Ham points against Burnley, as his side had been dominant before Ashley Barnes gave the visitors a surprise lead. Then again, the manager has enough problems in his own department to keep him occupied without spending too long worrying about fan behaviour. Having initially stabilised the side after replacing Slaven Bilic in November West Ham’s form has slumped since a three-game run in which they took seven points from Chelsea, Arsenal and Stoke at the start of December. Injuries to Manuel Lanzini, Andy Carroll, Winston Noble shoves a pitch invader during the 3-0 defeat by Burnley, a game in which West Ham fans targeted the directors’ box Reid and Pedro Obiang — and the six- said to have tightened bonds and boostmatch ban given to Arthur Masuaku for ed morale. With three weeks without a game spitting at Wigan Athletic’s Nick Powell in the FA Cup — have not helped Moyes took the opportunity to vary what can be a rigid training matters, but there are also concerns regime, and their five days in inside the club about elements of Florida began with a run on Moyes’s approach to matches. the Miami beach boardThe Scot’s perseverance walk and attending a with a 3-4-3 formation has spinning class at SoulCybeen privately questioned Years since by some of the players, Southampton completed cle on South Beach, before three days of who have also expressed a league double over more orthodox and slight irritation at his habit West Ham tough training sessions. of naming his team late, The players were also with some suspecting that he given considerable downchanges his mind at the last time and freedom, with minute. several going fishing and Goalkeepers Joe Hart League games in a and Adrián, for example, row West Ham have lost playing golf in addition had not been told who by three or more goals. to having a Chinese meal Hakkasan, with would start against South- No top-flight side have at Moyes expressing happiampton before their final lost four by such a ness afterwards that his training session yesterday margin since Forest trust was not abused as they with Moyes keeping his cards in 1968 behaved themselves. As a very close to his chest. result the paparazzi who trailed The January sale of André Ayew to relegation rivals Swansea City has al- the players’ every move on their trips to so been questioned by some of his the beach were left disappointed. Hughes is also said to have lifted spirformer team-mates at a club short of goals, although that was not entirely its since arriving at Southampton a fortnight ago, instituting a back-tothe manager’s decision. Moyes retains the support of players basics approach that has gone down who had lost faith in Bilic long before well with the squad. While his predehis autumn dismissal — the Croat has cessor Mauricio Pellegrino was personsince said privately that he should have able and popular, the Argentinian left last summer — and the club’s train- struggled to get his message and tactiing camp in Miami earlier this month is cal instructions across to a core of 20 3 players who are British or who have spent the last few years playing in this country. Pellegrino’s obsession with possession at all costs jarred with the instinct of many to attack at a club who have become used to playing on the front foot since they were promoted from League One seven years ago, and by November there were increasing signs that he had lost the dressing room. In common with most Premier League clubs West Ham and Southampton have acted to mitigate the financial cost of relegation by inserting clauses into most of their players’ contracts, stipulating a mandatory pay cut if they find themselves in the Championship, an outcome that would see Moyes and Hughes lose their jobs. It is indicative of short-termism inherent at many clubs that both men were only given contracts until the end of the season, which may not be extended even if they succeed in their task of staying up. With an unpopular stadium to fill, West Ham have more to lose from relegation, particularly as their recently published accounts revealed that even in the Premier League it is only generating annual revenue of £8.7 million. With more at stake than three points this afternoon it is a wonder that West Ham’s key triumvirate of Brady, David Sullivan and David Gold want to watch the action, on the pitch or otherwise. Moyes: more crowd trouble could deter players from joining James Gheerbrant David Moyes has spoken to his squad about how to deal with a recurrence of the crowd trouble in the 3-0 defeat to Burnley and warned that a repeat of such scenes could put players off from joining West Ham United. Security has been increased for today’s game against Southampton after fans invaded the pitch and massed in front of the directors’ box at the previous home game at the London Stadium. “I want this club to appeal to good international players,” the manager said. “I want them to say, ‘I want to join West Ham.’ I don’t think what happened against Burnley is going to make those players want to join us. “I can show you the stats that said as soon as the pitch invasions started the players dropped off physically, massively. So we’ve said to the players if anything like this happens again, we have to rally round each other because it looked like we just went to pieces.” Mark Noble, the club captain, took it upon himself to tackle a pitch invader during the chaotic scenes earlier this month and Moyes questioned the response of stewards. “Do you know what I think the bigger thing was?” he said. “I think the guy was on the pitch that long. Nobody took him off. Who was going to do it? “We were waiting on somebody running on and wrestling him. Mark was probably feeling the same as us: we are waiting too long here, why is nothing happening? The players have to be protected from these situations.” Moyes says he does not fully understand the reasons for the widespread discontent among West Ham fans. “I’m a bit unsure what the problems are,” he said. “I’m a football supporter so I understand a little bit that I would like to be right on the pitchside watching. “But [it’s a] fantastic new stadium and we’re only in it a year or two. So we’re going to have to grow into it.” Asked if he wanted to stay past the end of the season, Moyes, who signed a short-term contract in November, said: “Yeah I do, but I want a club I can move forward and I want a club which gives us every opportunity to do that. “I would want to know why [there is a divide between fans and the board]. You want to be at a club where you can say, ‘We can make this better,’ and I think when there are bits of it not working right, then it can break down. And for some reason, lots of the supporters don’t think it’s working.” 8 1G S Saturday March 31 2018 | the times Sport Football Oliver Kay Chief Football Correspondent Tottenham must offer players more than new stadium F or a time, it was a standing joke among Tottenham Hotspur fans. At the start of last season, it seemed barely a day went by without another of their heroes signing a new contract. One after another, they were photographed alongside a suited Mauricio Pochettino, all smiles as the players put pen to paper. “I love this club,” Kyle Walker said. “I’m over the moon that I’ll stay here until I’m an old man,” said Danny Rose. Between July 2014 and December 2016, the new deals just kept on coming: one for each of Walker, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembélé and Christian Eriksen, two apiece for Rose and Hugo Lloris, three for Eric Dier, Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Harry Winks — bigger contracts, longer contracts, win-win for player and club. Since then, though, Pochettino has not had much cause to wear his suit. There have been new deals for Winks, Ben Davies, Kieran Trippier and some of the club’s most promising younger players, such as Marcus Edwards, Kyle Walker-Peters and Josh Onomah, but not for the team’s real stars. Walker has left for Manchester City, Rose is halfway out of the door and talks with Toby Alderweireld and Dembélé are at an impasse. All has gone disconcertingly quiet on Alli and Kane. Tottenham’s supporters might prefer to make light of this, reassured that Lloris, Alli and Kane are under contract until 2022, that Dembélé is 30 and that the team have coped extremely well without Alderweireld and Rose for much of this season, but it is a serious and growing concern. Yes, the bigger picture is about their development under Pochettino and, of course, the construction of a new 62,000capacity stadium that will be the envy of many, but it would be naive to make light of the challenge that lies ahead. Put simply, that challenge is to remain prudent and competitive in an era of excess. To put that into context, when Tottenham line up at Stamford Bridge tomorrow afternoon, the vast majority of their players will be on contracts far, far smaller than those of their Chelsea counterparts. It means Vertonghen earning less than Antonio Rüdiger. It means Eriksen and Alli earning less than Danny Drinkwater and Ross Barkley. It means Kane earning significantly less than Álvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud — and this at a time of comparative restraint at Chelsea, who baulked upon hearing of the wages offered by Manchester City for Walker, by Manchester United for Romelu Lukaku and by Liverpool for Virgil van Dijk. As Tottenham’s highest earner, Kane has a contract worth £120,000 a week plus bonuses. Lloris is on a similar deal. Rose, who made his displeasure public last August, is on £65,000 a week. There is an obvious temptation to point out that these players do not know how lucky they are, being paid fortunes to live out their childhood fantasies, kicking a ball around in front of an adoring crowd, but the reality is that there are dozens of Premier League players earning six-figure sums every week. There are players at Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Watford and West Bromwich Albion who earn more than Dier and Rose. Kane’s earnings are similar to those of Theo Walcott at Everton or Daniel Sturridge at Liverpool — less than half of the sum earned by Alexis Sánchez at Manchester United. The former England midfielder Kieron Dyer mentioned recently a conversation with a Tottenham player, “a full international, regular for his country and for his team” who told him he was earning less than Dyer was at Newcastle United in 2002. Tottenham are not the bad guys here. We should be lauding Pochettino and the chairman Daniel Levy for building a team who are on course for a third consecutive top-four finish and have attained a sense of belonging at Champions League level — with a wage bill which, though significantly increased from the £100 million reported in their most recent financial accounts (for the 2015-16 campaign), remains far closer to West Ham’s (£105 million, their vice-chairman Karren Brady said last week) than to that at Arsenal (£199 million last season), let alone Chelsea (£222 million last season), Manchester City (£244 million last season) or Manchester United (£263 million last season). Points per pound Tottenham put most of their rivals to shame. Admiration, though, comes with a serious warning about what lies ahead. For that two-year period of what seemed like endless contract renewals, Levy and Tottenham were way ahead of the curve, proactive in rewarding excellent form with wage rises — an extra £10,000 a week here, an Tottenham’s talks with Alderweireld over a new deal are at an impasse as they continue to find it tough to convince players to commit to the club at a time when their chief rivals in the Premier League are prepared to pay considerably higher wages extra £20,000 a week there — that were gratefully accepted by players and agents alike. As wages across the Premier League have soared, though, so too have numerous Tottenham players’ (and their agents’) sense of their market value. The club’s financial scope has increased too, with regular Champions League qualification and the promise of far greater matchday revenue at the new stadium, but, even if the purse strings are loosened considerably, it will still be hard for Tottenham to offer the type of wages Kane, in particular, could command elsewhere. This is where talk of loyalty comes in. Kane seems just the sort to put happiness before money, but nobody should be blind to the reality of what governs the vast majority of career choices in football. Winning trophies? Playing in the Champions League? It is not easy to convince yourself of that when you consider how many of the Premier League’s biggest deals in recent years (Carlos Tévez, David Silva and Yaya Touré to Manchester City, Ángel Di María, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United, N’Golo Kanté to Chelsea, Luis Suárez to Liverpool, Henrikh Mkhitaryan to United and Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Arsenal, and even Mesut Özil’s contract extension) have not involved Ö the lure of Champions League football. Pochettino and Levy will appeal to their players’ loyalty, their desire to be part of something special as a brighter future unfolds at the new stadium, but in the real world it does not seem quite as easy as that. They could win the FA Cup — and, being candid, it would be lovely, from a neutral perspective, to see their progress rewarded. Even then, though, it still will not be easy to convince themselves that they are in the best possible place to progress their careers when, for example, Walker has gone from strength to strength since leaving. Walker told The Times earlier this season that “sometimes I feel like crying” when he considers what he left behind at Tottenham, but his move to City has worked out extremely happily for him. It is far from the cautionary grass-isn’tgreener tale that some at Tottenham might have hoped. As for Alderweireld and Dembélé, they and Vertonghen spent most of the past fortnight in the Belgium squad alongside not only Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Lukaku, whose contracts befit their status among the most coveted, most marketable stars of the Premier League, but also Axel Witsel and Yannick Carrasco, who have become two of the best-paid players in world football since moving to the Chinese Super League. Witsel is reported to be earning more than £300,000 a week and freely admits that his choice was made “especially with money in mind”. Money makes the football world go round. It always has, to some extent, but the sums offered by the very richest clubs these days tend to prove more alluring than ever. That is the reality of football in 2018. What Tottenham have done, in a challenging financial climate, has been difficult. Even with the new stadium, it is unlikely to get a great deal easier. Sterling has to stay here, says Guardiola Sturridge still out injured Paul Hirst Pep Guardiola hopes Manchester City swiftly conclude contract talks with Raheem Sterling after admitting that other clubs may try to tempt the forward away this summer. Kevin De Bruyne, Nicolás Otamendi, David Silva and Fernandinho have all signed long-term contracts this season. City officials are yet to begin talks with Sterling, who has two years left on his deal, even though the England international has been key to the team’s success, scoring 20 goals. “In terms of contracts, I’m not the guy, it’s [director of football] Txiki [Begiristain] who’s talking about that, but there are no doubts [we want to keep him],” Guardiola, the City manager, said of Sterling, who is on Real Madrid’s radar, according to reports in Spain. “It’s important he stays. But you know the deals are the deals. The agents and many circumstances, maybe other clubs are interested in him. Anything can happen but he knows how important he is to us.” If City beat Everton today, they could clinch the title in record-breaking time by beating Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium next Saturday. The derby is sandwiched between two Champions League quarter-final ties against Liverpool, but Guardiola will not rest players today. Sergio Agüero is set to miss the Goodison Park game in a bid to be fit for Wednesday’s first leg at Anfield. Steve Madeley Alan Pardew has defended West Bromwich Albion’s expensive loan deal for Daniel Sturridge after the news that the injury-plagued Liverpool forward is ruled out for at least two more matches. West Brom will pay almost £4 million in wages and a loan fee for the player who has only managed 78 minutes for the Premier League’s bottom club since joining in January. Sturridge will miss today’s meeting with Burnley at the Hawthorns and is a major doubt for the visit of Swansea City next Saturday. He has started only twice, limping off after three minutes against Chelsea on February 12. Pardew said: “One of the strikers that we were very interested in, which was a buy, hasn’t played either. It’s that kind of window when you’re taking gambles. “Unfortunately for Daniel a hamstring is a serious injury. We can’t accelerate that process. It is what it is.” the times | Saturday March 31 2018 3G S 9 RK Sport Trophies matter, Conte tells Spurs Pochettino’s approach is admirable, but Chelsea manager says silverware is real gauge of success, writes Alyson Rudd The present paradox in English football is the reverence afforded to Tottenham Hotspur under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino. It is no exaggeration to state that when Chelsea host Spurs tomorrow the backdrop will be painted in terms of the creaking old guard facing the shiny future comprising talent nurtured by a paternalistic genius. Chelsea provoke cynicism, Spurs spark smiles. And yet. Chelsea keep winning trophies, keep trumping Tottenham. There will be no asterisk next to Pochettino’s name when the list of successful managers pre-2018 are pored over in years to come, though if there was it would state merely “came stylishly close”. Spurs currently represent values that are warm and comforting. They are run sensibly with no silly salaries, they plan ahead, there is a sizeable English core and should Gareth Southgate’s team perform well in Russia it will be in large part thanks to the progress made by Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane under Pochettino. Spurs can be relied upon for attractive football too. They sizzled twice against the galacticos of Real Madid this season and in Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen have players with a sunny and compelling creativity. Their manager bristles at the notion that all these factors are but loose ends without silverware. He is concerned only with progress and the bigger picture of a new stadium that needs to host Champions League games for its construction to make sense. He is looking towards the horizon while successive Chelsea managers in the Roman Abramovich era have been gazing at the nearest all-weather pitch. It is the latter outlook that has reaped tangible success. Since Pochettino took over at White Hart Lane in May 2014, Chelsea have won the Premier League title twice with different managers. Abramovich keeps his managers on their toes. They are not the ones who dictate the club’s direction, they are employed to succeed in the short term. It is not a likeable model but it works. The problem with the Spurs framework is that should Pochettino leave, all that presently glistens could turn foggy. Players happy to remain on a relatively DARREN WALSH/GETTY IMAGES the biggest bogey teams Chelsea v Tottenham Longest run since winning away in top flight to a specific club (present top-flight clubs only) Stoke...................54 games at Liverpool Most recent win: never won Tottenham..........27 games at Chelsea Feb 1990 Everton.................23 games at Chelsea Nov 1994 Everton..................22 games at Arsenal Jan 1996 Southampton.....22 games at Arsenal Nov 1987 Newcastle........22 games at Liverpool Apr 1994 Tomorrow 4pm Sky Sports Premier League Spurs have not won at Stamford Bridge since Gary Lineker scored in 1990 Drinkwater, left, and Hazard prepare for tomorrow’s London derby modest wage because of loyalty to their manager could be lured away and finding a replacement with Pochettino’s charisma and patience would be tricky. Indeed, Antonio Conte, who defines his success in terms of trophies won rather than scalps along the way, says that Pochettino would need to move abroad if he wanted the guarantee of silverware. “I think that every manager wants to win a trophy,” the Chelsea head coach said. “I must be honest, if you want to win trophies, maybe for important managers, it’s easier to go to another country. In England, if you stay here, never, never will it be easy to win trophies.” Four years ago, Conte, then the Italy head coach, visited Pochettino at Spurs’ training ground. He was impressed then and is impressed now. Conte feels that Spurs have the head start over Chelsea in terms of giving fans a new stadium and promoting homegrown talent. “I am talking about my period, my era,” Conte says. “For sure, now, they are ahead of us. But, despite this, last season we were able to win the title and reach the final of the FA Cup.” There is a shift in emphasis at the west London club. Abramovich’s wealth is not as influential and he is seemingly keen to see the club’s successful youth players better integrated into the senior squad. There is nothing to suggest, however, that he would accept four years without silverware while he watches the building of their new 60,000 capacity stadium and the nurturing of young talent. Which brings us to tomorrow’s fixture, one that Spurs have not won since 1990 but need to in order to stave off a late challenge from Chelsea for the fourth Champions League place. It might not come down to a straight battle between the two clubs for a topfour finish, especially with third-placed Liverpool potentially distracted by this season’s Champions League, but it feels like the start of a special sort of tussle, one that could be as significant as the winning of a first trophy for Pochettino. It was at Stamford Bridge two years ago that his team let slip a two-goal lead, let slip their self-discipline and let Leicester City win the title. It was a performance that underlined the brittleness of their resolve and made it clear that the former Southampton manager had much work to do in forging the relentless camaraderie and pragmatism that winning teams need to possess. It is because of the climate of concern over ticket pricing and fan alienation, with the rich clubs soaking up the talent and the points, that Pochettino, rather than ridiculed for missing a near open goal in 2015-16, is still afforded guru status. He has the knack of turning defeats into signs of below-the-surface success. While Chelsea managers are not permitted to feel pride beyond the immediate ticker tape and fireworks of silverware lest it breed a whiff of stagnation, Pochettino can construct his own narrative. The surprising part is that we are being allowed to watch it unfold. He is the only big club manager who has won nothing who nonetheless has an arrow next to his name, Netflix style, pointing to the next episode. “Every important manager wants to finish the season with a trophy,” Conte says. “This is the truth.” If an important manager is feted while not winning one, though, does that create a negative force field around a team itself unused to success at the final hurdle? Chelsea and Spurs could yet meet in the FA Cup final, where a win for the North London club would not, according to Pochettino, prove a thing — but it would serve to dilute the derby paradox. Mourinho: onus on Pogba to improve Wilkins has ‘heart attack’ Paul Hirst José Mourinho feels that he has done all he can to get the best out of Paul Pogba. The £89 million midfielder’s domestic form is concerning the United manager, who admitted last month that the Frenchman had “not been playing well in the last few matches”. Pogba has started just two of the club’s past seven games but registered a goal and an assist for France in the 3-1 win away to Russia on Tuesday. Mourinho bristled at the suggestion that Pogba’s poor displays for United are a consequence of a hamstring injury that kept him out for two months. “[His poor form] has nothing to do with his injury. His recovery was good,” Mourinho said. “I think he [physically] is very fine after the injury.” It is understood that the Portuguese has taken a dim view of Pogba’s application in training, especially since the turn of the year. The Frenchman lacks focus at times, according to some Carrington figures. Mourinho made it clear yesterday that the onus was on the 25-year-old to start showing the kind of form that he exhibited in the final stages of last season, when he was key to the team’s Europa League success. Pogba’s first opportunity to impress could come this afternoon, when Swansea City visit Old Trafford in the Premier League. Luke Shaw, the unsettled left back, has been named in the match-day squad as cover for Ashley Young, who suffered a knee injury during England’s 1-1 draw with Italy on Tuesday. Mourinho is willing to let Shaw, who has grown tired of being publicly barracked by his manager, leave in the summer if the player has had enough of life under him. When asked whether he thought Shaw would be at the club next season, Mourinho said: “I think so. But I always say the door is open for everyone so no problem for him but I think [he will be here]. He’s selected. He’s in the 18.” He said that he replaced Shaw with Young in United’s win against Brighton & Hove Albion because the latter offered more “class and desire”. “I am the coach. I make the changes I want to do,” he said. “If I want to change the player in minute five, I change the player in minute five. The moment when a new rule comes into football that forbids managers to do that, I become a pundit, not a manager.” Ray Wilkins, the former England captain, was seriously ill in hospital last night, with reports saying that he had suffered a cardiac arrest. Wilkins, 61, was said to have been taken to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London. “He is not in a good state at all, I’m afraid. He’s critically ill,” his wife, Jackie, is quoted as saying in the Mirror. “The cardiac arrest led to a fall which has meant he’s had to be put in an induced coma. It’s very, very bad.” His son, Ross, told the Daily Mail: “I hope everyone can respect the family’s wishes over privacy at this very difficult time for us. It’s touch and go whether my father will gett through this.” Wilkins was capped 84 times by England between 1976 and 1986, captaining his country ten times. He enjoyed lengthy spells with Chelsea, Manchester United, AC Milan, Rangers and Queens Park Rangers before going on to manage QPR and Fulham. He also had three spells as assistant manager at Chelsea, taking over as caretaker manager when Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked in February 2009. More recently, despite poor health, he r had worked in the media as a h pundit with Sky Sports News and p ttalkSPORT radio. Chelsea said in a statement: “The thoughts of everybody at Chelsea Football Club are with Ray Wilkins and his family tonight. Keep fighting Ray, you have our love and support.” 10 3G S Saturday March 31 2018 | the times Sport Sky Bet Championship Nuno ‘loses control’ as nine-man Wolves close in on the title Middlesbrough Bamford 90 Wolves Costa 32, Cavaleiro 37 1 0 2 1 2 Jason Mellor Tony Pulis refused to criticise Nuno Espírito Santo despite the Portuguese coach’s excessive celebrations after a dramatic victory for his nine-man Wolverhampton Wanderers. Pulis quickly disappeared down the tunnel at the final whistle while his opposite number leapt and gesticulated provocatively in front of the Middlesbrough bench, as his side took another significant step towards promotion. “I didn’t see all the incidents afterwards, they were delighted obviously as they’d just won a game,” Pulis said after a pulsating contest in which the away side played out the final 20 minutes with nine men after red cards for Rúben Neves and Matt Doherty. “I know the manager jumped in the air. To be honest, I don’t know the fella. It might be different if he was someone I knew. I’d have been delighted as well, but I’d have reacted differently. He’s very welcome to come into my room, but I doubt he will.” Nuno admitted that his emotions got the better of him as his side restored their six-point advantage at the top of the Championship courtesy of a first victory on Teesside since 1951. In mitigation, he insisted that he was not ott alone, though the regularr sight of at least four of his backroom staff sprinting from the bench to protest every contentious decision was far from edifying. Neves was sent off for a rash tackle after 55 minutes how they stand PW Wolves..........39 26 Cardiff............38 24 Fulham..........39 20 Aston Villa....38 20 Derby.............38 16 Middlesbro...39 18 Bristol City...39 16 Millwall..........39 16 Sheff Utd.........39 18 Preston..........39 15 Brentford......39 14 Leeds............39 15 Ipswich.........38 15 Norwich........39 13 QPR...............39 12 Nottm For.....39 13 Sheff Wed.....39 10 Hull ................. 38 9 Reading.........39 9 Bolton............39 9 Barnsley........39 7 Birmingham.38 9 Sunderland..39 6 Burton ........... 39 7 D L F AGDPts 7 6 71 34 37 85 7 7 61 32 29 79 12 7 68 41 27 72 9 9 61 37 24 69 14 8 56 38 18 62 8 13 55 38 17 62 13 9 56 44 12 62 13 10 48 37 11 61 7 14 52 44 8 61 15 9 49 41 860 13 12 55 47 8 55 8 16 52 54 -2 53 7 16 47 48 -1 52 13 13 41 46 -5 52 11 16 45 56 -11 47 7 19 43 56 -13 46 14 15 45 53 -8 44 12 17 53 59 -6 39 12 18 45 57 -12 39 12 18 34 58 -24 39 13 19 39 58 -19 34 6 23 28 57-29 33 13 20 42 69 -27 31 9 23 28 70-42 30 “Everyone in the stadium lost control,” Nuno said, claiming that decisions by Stuart Attwell, who issued d ten yellow cards in addition to two reds, added to the fractious atmosphere. “It’s difficult to control your emotions when a bad decision can cost you.” It appears increasingly a matter of when not if Wolves are promoted back W to the Premier League as in the space of 90 breathless minutes they accumulated more points than they had managed over the previous 26 years in this o ccorner of the North East. They now require a maximum of three wins from their remaining seven games. They are Cavaleiro heads home the second goal for Wolves yesterday to earn a win that pushes them ever closer to the title unbeaten in 27 games in which they have taken the lead this season, meaning that the outcome here looked in little doubt once their early dominance was rewarded with two goals in the space of five minutes as half-time approached. Barry Douglas was the source of both goals, first when sending over an inviting cross for the unmarked Hélder Costa to volley in his fourth goal in nine league appearances at the back post in the 32nd minute after Middlesbrough failed to clear. The advantage was soon doubled, Darren Randolph saving Willy Boly’s near-post header from a Douglas corner only for the ball to loop across goal where Ivan Cavaleiro nodded into an unguarded net. With Wolves content to defend their lead, the onus fell on Middlesbrough to make the running after the break, but it was a task which proved beyond them. The visiting side coped with relative ease, at least until Neves made an early exit with 35 minutes remaining, after picking up a second yellow card inside two minutes for an ugly lunge at George Friend. Doherty’s second caution for a flailing elbow on Friend as the pair challenged for an aerial ball meant Wolves were further diminished 15 minutes later, but their opponents failed to take advantage until Patrick Bamford’s volley in the fourth minute of stoppage time set up a nervy final 90 seconds. “They will go up,” Pulis said. “And when they do, they’ll invest again and they’ll be a good side in the Premier League.” Middlesbrough (4-3-3): D Randolph — R Shotton (sub: M Cranie 70mim), D Ayala, B Gibson, G Friend — A Clayton (sub: B Assombalonga 70), G Leadbitter (sub: J Howson 63), M Besic — A Traoré, P Bamford, S Downing. Substitutes not used D Konstantopoulos, D Fry, L Baker, J Harrison. Booked Shotton, Cranie, Leadbitter. Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-4-3): J Ruddy — R Bennett, C Coady, W Boly — M Doherty, R Saïss, R Neves, B Douglas — H Costa (sub: M Gibbs-White 84), B Afobe (sub: L Bonatini 63), I Cavaleiro (sub: A N’Diaye 58). Substitutes not used W Norris, D Batth, R Vinagre, K Hause. Booked Ruddy, Bennett, Doherty, Saïss, Neves. Sent off Doherty, Neves. Referee S Attwell. Attendance 27,658. Sunderland stun Derby to climb off foot of the table Fulham thrive Derby County Vydra 42 Sunderland Forsyth (og) 10, Fletcher 36, McGeady (pen) 50, O’Shea 76 1 0 2 1 4 Steve Madeley Gary Rowett questioned the commitment of his Derby County players after they gave Sunderland a huge helping hand off the foot of the Sky Bet Championship table. Derby’s annual battle against promotion is apparently in full swing while Sunderland have unexpected hope in a season of misery after they ended a ten-game winless run in emphatic style. Chris Coleman, the Sunderland manager, will take wins however they come but Derby committed defensive suicide to extend their own series of winless games to eight and leave Rowett in forthright mood. “In six years of management that’s the worst 90 minutes I’ve had to sit and watch,” he said. “I’m not going to defend that performance. “When things go against us you see some of the players not standing up and being counted. I’ll be the first one that will criticise the people that suggest we haven’t got the bottle when the chips are down. If I’m being honest I’m questioning it myself after tonight. “I’m a tad embarrassed because I’ve not seen many of my teams play like that in the past. Tonight it was a very abject performance and I would apologise to anyone who has paid to come and watch.” Victory left Sunderland only three points adrift of safety yet for Derby, a promising challenge for automatic promotion has evaporated, leaving them in a fight for a spot in the play-offs. With nerves increasing that Derby could throw away yet another promising season, the last thing Rowett needed was a chaotic defensive display. Yet a bizarre own-goal and the clumsy concession of a penalty from Craig Forsyth — combined with a dreadful error from Richard Keogh — handed goals to Sunderland as Ashley Fletcher, Aiden McGeady and John O’Shea found the target. It meant a fine goal from Matej Vydra, his 19th of the season for Derby, counted for nothing. The opening score came on ten minutes when Forsyth tried to head away George Honeyman’s firm shot but instead nodded past a wrongfooted Scott Carson and into the net. Then, on 36 minutes, Keogh’s errant pass went straight to Fletcher, who muscled his way past Curtis Davies and finished low past Carson. There was hope for the home side just before the break when Tom Lawrence crossed from the left, Andreas Weimann headed down and Vydra struck a superb volley into the top corner. Yet four minutes into the second half Forsyth sent Lynden Gooch tumbling with a clumsy challenge from behind and McGeady scored from the spot. Sunderland hit the woodwork twice, with a Fletcher shot and a header from Paddy McNair, but the fourth goal duly came when O’Shea forced a corner home for his first goal in four years. Coleman said: “It was a superb performance and at one point in the afternoon there was an eight-point gap with Barnsley winning. Now the gap is down to three. We get carried away with ability but it’s amazing what a bit of courage and steel will do.” Derby County (4-2-3-1): S Carson — C Baird, C Davies, R Keogh, C Forsyth — G Thorne (sub: D Nugent 58 min), B Johnson — A Weimann, M Vydra, T Lawrence (sub: K Palmer 46) — C Jerome (sub: J Ledley 83). Substitutes not used K Roos, A Wisdom, A Pearce, L Thomas. Booked: Vydra, Johnson. Sunderland (4-2-3-1): L Camp — D Love, J O’Shea, L Koné, B Oviedo (sub: A Matthews 81) — P McNair (sub: M Wilson 78), L Cattermole — L Gooch (sub: J Maja 90), G Honeyman, A McGeady — A Fletcher. Substitutes not used J Steele, K Lualua, C McManaman, E Robson. Booked: Love, Koné, O’Shea, Cattermole. Referee J Linnington. Attendance 27,890. Norwich Fulham Johansen 66, Cairney 70 0 2 1 2 Jon West Fulham started a Championship game without Ryan Sessegnon for the first time this season after the 17-year-old was linked with a £40 million move to Manchester United. The left-sided midfielder came on early in the second half at Carrow Road to help to inspire his side to a comfortable win courtesy of two goals in four minutes from Stefan Johansen and Tom Cairney that extended Fulham’s unbeaten league run to 17 games. “It was a tactical decision, Ryan did a great job for us in the second half,” Slavisa Jokanovic, the head coach, said. “He is young but he shows his head is healthy. He accepts what are rumours the times | Saturday March 31 2018 11 3G S Sport MI NEWS & SPORT LTD 9 Points Wolves need from their final seven games to guarantee automatic promotion Warnock nears record as Cardiff win eight in a row Cardiff City Zohore 16, Mendez-Laing 45+1, Paterson 64 Burton Albion Bent 21 3 0 2 1 Graham Thomas Neil Warnock’s attempt to win what would be a record eighth promotion now appears more likely than not after his team won their eighth successive game. The Cardiff City manager was born in 1948, the year after his present club set their record of nine victories on the trot and it will be fitting should he equal that figure in his home city when Cardiff play away to Sheffield United on Monday. Kenneth Zohore, Nathaniel MendezLaing and Callum Paterson scored the goals that kept Cardiff well clear of the Championship play-off places and 15 more points from their remaining eight matches will be sufficient to guarantee a return to the Premier League four years after their solitary season of 2013-14. “I’ll get a good reception up there,” Warnock said as he looked forward to returning to one of his former clubs. “People remember me up there and what I did. I’m just not so sure I’ll get the same reception in the boardroom. That record was set the year before I was born, but I’d settle for a draw up there. “I’m not that bothered about records. They are usually pushed at you when it’s a worst sequence, rather than the best.” As he has done at so many clubs, Warnock has defied criticism and expectation at Cardiff and this battling victory was typical of their ability this season to gain results when their performance is not entirely convincing. Burton were the better side for 20 minutes and managed to make it 1-1 through Darren Bent midway through the first half, but they were overwhelmed by the power and speed of Cardiff long before the end. “We knew it would be difficult today,” Warnock added. “Everyone expected us to win and that’s the most difficult thing in football. Having conceded an their winning run February 13 Bolton (h)....................................................2-0 February 17 Middlesbrough (h)..................................1-0 February 21 Ipswich (a)...................................................1-0 February 25 Bristol City (h)...........................................1-0 March 6 Barnsley (h).................................................2-1 March 10 Birmingham (h)........................................3-2 March 13 Brentford (a)...............................................3-1 Yesterday Burton (h).....................................................3-1 equaliser, it was crucial to score again first and we did that.” For Burton, though, the outlook looks bleak and Nigel Clough appears resigned to relegation, even if he was quick to clarify his gloomy assessment of their predicament. This was their fifth defeat in six matches. “We’re down in terms of our mood — not down, down — just down as in low,” the Burton manager said. “When you’re losing games, that’s what it is. You’re down. You play quite well, you miss chances and you concede, decisions go against you, and it doesn’t help that feeling. “It’s the usual story for us. We played quite well, created enough chances, missed them and gave away soft goals. Usual story. Anybody who’s seen us for the last eight weeks and the majority of the season that’s been the same story.” Cardiff’s winning momentum had been halted 12 days previously when their fixture at Derby County was called off due to safety concerns after a not particularly heavy snowfall, a decision that Warnock said was a disgrace. His misgivings were prompted by a concern that 17 days without a game, due to the international break, could upset the rhythm of his team and those fears appeared well founded in a surprisingly one-sided opening, heavily weighted in Burton’s favour. However, the visiting side missed opportunities before Cardiff took the lead with their first attack of note. Junior Hoilett, whose pace and trickery troubled Burton throughout, crossed for Zohore to strike a crisp half-volley. The uncertainty in Cardiff’s defensive work remained, though, and when Lloyd Dyer was given the space to pick out Bent, the veteran striker forced the ball home at the far post for the equaliser five minutes later. But Cardiff have developed a valuable knack of regaining control of games, even when they are some way below their best. They seized the initiative, and the lead, on the stroke of half-time. Mendez-Laing’s pace had already embarrassed the onrushing Stephen Bywater, so it was perhaps no surprise that the Burton goalkeeper chose to stay on his line when the Cardiff striker next broke clear. The result was a comfortable finish as the ball was lashed high into the net for a 2-1 lead. Burton never looked remotely capable of threatening Cardiff in the second half. Instead, the surprise was how they managed to concede only one further goal. Sol Bamba and Sean Morrison had already had the ball in the net for efforts that were ruled out for offside and a foul by the time Paterson made it 3-1. That effort, too, might have been disallowed as the ball appeared to strike Craig Bryson on the arm before it fell to Paterson, who scored for the fourth league match in succession. The Scot is one of many shrewd Warnock signings who have improved as the season has progressed and this was his ninth goal of the campaign. Cardiff City (4-3-3): N Etheridge — B Manga, S Bamba, S Morrison, J Bennett — C Paterson, M Grujic, C Bryson (sub: A Gunnarsson 66min) — N Mendez-Laing (sub: Y Wildschut 85), J Hoilett, K Zohore (sub: G Madine 71). Substitutes not used L Peltier, B Murphy, J Ward, A Pilkington. Booked Bryson. Burton Albion (4-4-1-1): S Bywater — J Brayford (sub: T Egert 76), T Naylor, K McFadzean, T Flanagan — M Sordell, J Allen, L Murphy, L Dyer — L Boyce (sub: J Davenport 69) — D Bent (sub: J Sbarra 82). Substitutes not used B Turner, H Campbell, M Samuelsen, J Buxton. Booked Naylor, McFadzean. Referee S Hooper. Attendance 21,086. Mannone gives Clement a winning start despite Sessegnon rumours and what is around him. We don’t let this situation affect him. Everything he puts under control and his mind is focused. I cannot make any comment about his value but he is going to be an expensive player.” Sessegnon, who made his England Under-21 debut in midweek, enlivened an encounter in which Fulham dominated in terms of possession but failed to create clear-cut chances. One fell to Sessegnon after Angus Gunn, the Norwich City goalkeeper, came out of his area but failed to clear a long ball, and only a goalline block by Christoph Zimmermann kept the game scoreless. Fulham did take the lead in the 66th minute. Zimmermann’s central defensive partner, Timm Klose, was at fault by allowing Aleksandar Mitrovic a close-range header that Gunn could only parry into the path of Johansen, who was left with a tap-in. Klose’s failure to deal with Lucas Piazon’s delivery into the box then allowed Cairney to wrap up a victory that left Fulham seven points behind second-placed Cardiff City, who have a game in hand. “It is not in our hands to fight for second,” Jokanovic said. “Everything is in the hands of Cardiff, they must make mistakes. But if they help us we will be ready to catch a present.” Norwich are marooned in mid-table and Daniel Farke, their head coach, said: “We must score more to be a team looking at promotion next season.” Norwich City (4-2-3-1): A Gunn — I Pinto, C Zimmermann, T Klose, J Lewis — H Reed, A Tettey (sub: W Hoolahan 77min) — J Maddison, M Vrancic (sub: M Edwards 85), J Murphy — D Srbeny (sub: N Oliveira 77). Substitutes not used J Husband, S Raggett, G Hanley, M McGovern. Booked Murphy, Maddison, Reed. Fulham (4-1-4-1): M Bettinelli — R Fredericks, D Odoi, T Ream, M Targett — K McDonald — (sub: O Norwood 68) — L Piazon, T Cairney, S Johansen, F Ayite (sub: R Sessegnon 54) — A Mitrovic (sub: A Kamara 78). Substitutes not used R Fonte, C Christie, T Kalas. Booked McDonald, Fredericks, Norwood, Kamara. Referee K Stroud. Attendance 26,750. Paul Clement’s first big decision as Reading manager paid off in style as the recalled Vito Mannone saved a stoppage-time penalty to give his side a 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers — their first win in ten matches. The Italian was back in goal in place of Anssi Jaakkola as one of four changes Clement made after succeeding Jaap Stam. He justified his inclusion with a brilliant stop to deny Jake Bidwell from the spot and that, combined with Sone Aluko’s 13th-minute goal from 255 yards, gave Clement’s side a victoryy x that takes them six points clear of trouble. ment “I’m really pleased,” Clement said, having seen his team play the last ten minutes without the sent-off Yann Kermorgant. “The players have had a difficult time but that was full of passion.” Clement’s first game in charge of Reading ended in a 1-0 win Millwall’s unexpected progress towards the play-off places may have come as a surprise but there are no signs that Neil Harris’s players are inhibited by the prospect of breaking into the top six. For the third time in four games they forced a lead inside the opening minute, this time through Shaun Williams’s header after only 27 seconds, before Lee Gregory added a second to defeat Nottingham Forest 2-0 and extend Millwall’s unbeaten league run to 13 matches. Harris believes the lack of expectation of his side can work in their favour. “We have no pressure on us, and that helps,” he said. “As regards any chance of the play-offs it is one g game at a time and let’s go and beat Ipswich on M Monday. If the play-offs are no longer just a dream it is a lot of hard work that h got us there. But I tell has the players I want more.” Alex Neil was on the receiving end of another potentially costly Hillsbor- ough thrashing as his Preston North End team went down 4-1 to Sheffield Wednesday — their first away league defeat since November 4 — when victory would have lifted them into the play-off places. A 5-1 loss at the same ground a little over a year ago contributed to him losing his job as Norwich City manager. “This is the judgment time of the season when you have to maintain your performances, and even take them to a higher level,” Neil said. “But I’ve been in this situation before. In the two promotions I’ve had we’ve lost games at crucial times and responded. We have to do the same now.” Brentford’s 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United was overshadowed by the double dismissal of Ryan Woods and Jamal Blackman. The home midfielder and visiting goalkeeper were sent off after a Chris Mepham equaliser, with Woods tussling with Blackman to retrieve the ball for a quick kick-off. Barnsley twice squandered a lead against Bristol City and had to settle for a 2-2 draw that stretched their run without a win at Oakwell to a clubrecord 12 matches and leaves them a point above the bottom three. 12 Saturday March 31 2018 | the times 2G S Sport The ultimate Premier League guide 2017-18 How they stand 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Man City Man Utd Liverpool Tottenham Chelsea Arsenal Burnley Leicester Everton Bournemouth Watford Brighton Newcastle Swansea Huddersfield Crystal Palace West Ham Southampton Stoke West Brom P W 30 26 30 20 31 18 30 18 30 17 30 14 30 11 30 10 31 11 31 9 31 10 30 8 30 8 30 8 31 8 31 7 30 7 30 5 31 6 31 3 Crystal Palace v Liverpool D 3 5 9 7 5 6 10 10 7 9 6 10 8 7 7 9 9 13 9 11 L F A GD Pts 1 85 20 65 81 5 58 23 35 65 4 73 34 39 63 5 59 25 34 61 8 52 27 25 56 10 55 41 14 48 9 27 26 1 43 10 45 43 2 40 13 37 50 -13 40 13 37 49 -12 36 15 39 55 -16 36 12 28 40 -12 34 14 30 40 -10 32 15 25 42 -17 31 16 25 52 -27 31 15 30 48 -18 30 14 36 57 -21 30 12 29 44 -15 28 16 29 58 -29 27 17 24 49 -25 20 Leading scorers: 28 M Salah (Liverpool). 24 H Kane (Spurs). 21 S Agüero (Man City). 15 R Sterling (Man City). 14 R Lukaku (Man Utd), J Vardy (Leicester), R Firmino (Liverpool). In-form Willian can ensure a profitable double gameweek Paddy von Behr Charlie Scott The Sweeper The second double gameweek of the season is fast approaching, so we’ve ranked the fixtures of those with two matches and here are four players we think may shine. Chelsea In his past four league starts Willian has racked up 48 points. The midfielder is a slight rotation risk, despite impressing in Europe against Barcelona, but his potential for big returns at a price of £7.1 million is tempting. Man United Eric Bailly (£6 million) is owned by 5.8 per cent of managers despite United keeping clean sheets in six of the nine games he has started this season. Not many defenders can score an own goal and still come out of a match with credit, yet that’s what he managed against Liverpool. Today 12.30pm TV Live, Sky Sports PL Radio BBC 5 Live Times app Live updates (4-2-3-1) Hennessey Kelly WanBissaka Sakho Van Aanholt Cabaye Watford v Loftus-Cheek McArthur Townsend Mané Firmino Salah Karius Home win 6/1 (4-3-3) Referee N Swarbrick (17 games) 44 Last 5 CP LLLLW 0 Liv WWWLW Brighton v Leicester Today 3pm TV Highlights, BBC One, 10.30pmTimes app Highlights, 5.15pm BRIGHTON Doubt Stephens Suspended Knockaert (4-4-1-1) Ryan Schelotto Duffy March Kayal Dunk Bong LEICESTER Injured Amartey Doubt Iheanacho, James Propper Izquierdo 33 Percentage of top-flight own goals by English players this season scored by Brighton’s Lewis Dunk (4 of 12) Gross Murray Vardy Okazaki Albrighton Mahrez Iborra Chilwell FINK TANK PREDICTION H 37% D 27% A 37% Ndidi Maguire Morgan Simpson Schmeichel Draw 21/10 (4-2-3-1) 1 34 Bri WDWWL Lei DLDDW Manchester United v Swansea Highlights of Uefa Champions League, Europa League and the FA Cup Today 3pm TV Highlights, BBC One, 10.30pm Radio talkSPORT 2Times app Highlights, 5.15pm (4-3-3) MANCHESTER UNITED Injured Blind, Romero De Gea Valencia Smalling Bailly Young McTominay Matic Pogba Lingard Lukaku Rashford Abraham SWANSEA Injured Sanches, Rangel, Bony Suspended J Ayew A Ayew Naughton Olsson Clucas Mawson 2 Home league goals let in after half time by United this season – one scored by United themselves (an own goal) King Carroll Fernández FINK TANK PREDICTION H 73% Van der Hoorn D 18% A 9% Referee R Madley (14.3 games) 2 47 Nathan Aké has thrived at centre back despite his relative lack of height Shortest to play in centre back pairing in last round of Premier League matches Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City) 5ft 10in Nathan Aké (Bournemouth) 5ft 11in Adrian Mariappa (Watford) 5ft 11in Ben Mee (Burnley) 6ft Draw 6/1 (3-5-2) Sat 3pm highlights available at 5.15pm Bournemouth OxladeMilner Henderson Chamberlain FINK TANK PREDICTION H 19% D 22% Clyne Robertson Van Dijk Matip A 59% Fabianski Watch every Premier League goal first on the Times phone app. Get goal video clips and highlights of every big match Nathan Aké 42 Premier League games televised live in 2018 – none has finished 0-0 Benteke Referee C Kavanagh (11 games) Don’t miss a goal this season Troy Deeney LIVERPOOL Injured Can, Gomez Milivojevic Leicester If Riyad Mahrez hadn’t gone Awol there’s a distinct chance he would have scored more FPL points than Raheem Sterling this season. As it is, he is merely fourth in the midfield standings. He is in great form too, with 21 points in his past two games. Marc Albrighton would never go Awol. The midfielder (£5.6 million) is one of the first names on the team sheet — the kind of player you want in a double gameweek — and has more points in 201718 than Paul Pogba. Head to head CRYSTAL PALACE Injured Wickham Doubt Schlupp, Tomkins, Sorloth MU WLWWW Swa DWLWD Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal) 6ft Newcastle v Huddersfield Today 3pm 6ft TV Highlights, BBC One, 10.30pm Times app Highlights, 5.15pm NEWCASTLE Injured Joselu (4-2-3-1) Dubravka Yedlin Lascelles Lejeune Dummett Shelvey Ritchie Diamé Kenedy Pérez Ince Pritchard Mooy Löwe Quaner Hogg Schindler Zanka Hadergjonaj Lössl Referee M Atkinson (23 games) HUDDERSFIELD Injured Williams, Hefele 2 Top-flight loan goalkeepers who have been first choices for past two months: Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka and Huddersfield’s Jonas Lössl Gayle Mounié FINK TANK PREDICTION H 61% D 22% A 18% Draw 12/5 (4-2-3-1) 5 77 New DWDLW Phil Jagielka (Everton) Hud WWLDL the times | Saturday March 31 2018 13 2G S Sport In association with By Bill Edgar Watford v Bournemouth Today 3pm TV Highlights, BBC One, 10.30pm Times app Highlights, 5.15pm (4-2-3-1) Karnezis Prödl Janmaat Doucouré Carrillo Ibe Gosling Daniels Adrian Mariappa 99 (3-4-2-1) L Cook Francis FINK TANK PREDICTION H 45% D 24% A 32% Rice Ogbonna Zabaleta Kouyaté 0 0 Wat LWWLL Bou LDDLW Cresswell Noble Antonio Arnautovic 8 “W” opponents in Southampton’s past 13 wins: West Brom lost four times, Watford twice, West Ham and Wigan once each Gabbiadini Tadic Hojbjerg Ward-Prowse FINK TANK PREDICTION H 42% D 26% A 32% Lemina Bertrand Hoedt Stephens Cédric McCarthy Home win 9/5 (4-2-3-1) Referee J Moss (22.7 games) 2 78 WH LWLLL Chances of winning the Champions League Barcelona Bayern Munich SOUTHAMPTON Injured Austin, Davis, Yoshida Masuaku Hernández Home win 7/5 (4-2-3-1) Referee A Madley (0 games) WEST HAM Doubt Lanzini, Collins Hart Redmond Begovic 278 Craig Cathcart BOURNEMOUTH Injured Mings Doubt Mousset, A Smith B Smith S Cook Aké WATFORD Injured Kabasele, Cleverley, Chalobah, Kaboul, Deulofeu, Success 11 Home games in row when Watford have scored, but they have not scored in their past six away matches Wilson Troy Deeney 147 Richarlison Deeney Stanislas Heurelho Gomes Holebas Capoue Pereyra Most Watford appearances among present players 327 Mariappa Today 3pm TV Highlights, BBC One, 10.30pm Radio BBC 5 Live Times app Highlights, 5.15pm Real Madrid Manchester City Juventus Liverpool Roma Seville Sou WLDDL 0% West Brom v Burnley Today 3pm WEST BROM Injured Barry, Field, Chadli, Sturridge (3-5-1-1) Foster Dawson Evans Livermore Yacob Nyom Phillips Hegazi Gibbs Westwood Ward Mee Lennon Cork Tarkowski Lowton Pope BURNLEY Injured Arfield FINK TANK PREDICTION H 34% D 32% A 34% 2 15 WB LLLLL Bur DLDWW Name the season Can you work out which season this table is from? P 1 2 3 4 20 21 22 Wolves West Brom Huddersfield Manchester United Sheffield United Middlesbrough Liverpool 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 Answer below W 25 22 20 18 11 10 9 Keane D L 7 10 9 11 11 11 12 12 11 20 10 22 10 23 F 96 86 78 73 69 60 68 A 56 63 61 58 90 91 97 ? Pts 57 53 51 48 33 30 28 Baines Davies Rooney Walcott Tosun Bolasie Sané Jesus MANCHESTER CITY Injured Stones, Mendy Doubt Agüero 9 Man City goals in row that have been scored with a left foot Sterling D Silva Fernandinho De Bruyne Delph Laporte Otamendi Walker Home win 8/1 (4-3-3) Referee P Tierney (11 games) 0 31 Eve WLLWW Arsenal v Stoke MC DWWWW Tomorrow 1.30pm TV Live, Sky Sports PL Radio BBC 5 Live Times app Live updates ARSENAL Doubt Wilshere (4-2-3-1) Cech Bellerín Mustafi Koscielny Monreal Ramsey STOKE Doubt Choupo-Moting, Grant, Ireland Suspended Adam Xhaka Wilshere Mkhitaryan Özil 6 Arsenal goals scored in opening 15 minutes during their past four home league games Aubameyang Crouch Sobhi Jesé Fletcher Shaqiri FINK TANK PREDICTION H 78% D 14% A 9% Ndiaye Stafylidis Shawcross Zouma Johnson Last season Southampton West Brom FINK TANK PREDICTION H 10% D 17% A 73% Ederson Bill Edgar’s weekend numbers The last time two teams were relegated from the top flight having finished in the top half the previous season was 1992-93 (Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace) – but Southampton and West Bromwich Albion are on course to repeat that Jagielka Gueye Away win 19/10 (4-2-3-1) Referee L Probert (12 games) Pickford 2 Albions (West Brom and Brighton) who have had 94 shots on target and faced 133 shots on target this season in the league Rondón Barnes EVERTON Injured Sigurdsson, Mangala, McCarthy Suspended Williams (4-3-3) Coleman Brunt Gudmundsson Hendrick Everton v Manchester City Today 5.30pm TV Live, BT Sport 1 Radio talkSPORT Times app Live updates TV Highlights, BBC One, 10.30pm Times app Highlights, 5.15pm 8th 10th Butland Away win 8/1 (4-2-3-1) Referee C Pawson (19 games) 4 68 Ars WLLLW Sto DDDLL This season Southampton West Brom 18th 20th Answer: 1953-54 Troy Deeney is in his eighth season at Watford. West Ham v Southampton Chelsea v Tottenham Tomorrow 4pm TV Live, Sky Sports PL Radio BBC 5 Live Times app Live updates CHELSEA Injured Luiz, Barkley, Ampadu (4-2-3-1) Caballero Azpilicueta Christensen Kanté Moses Rüdiger Fàbregas Willian TOTTENHAM Injured Winks Doubt Kane Alonso Hazard 2 Managers here – Chelsea’s Conte (Italy) and Spurs’ Pochettino (Argentina) – with exactly 20 caps and two goals as players Morata Son Lamela Alli Eriksen Dembélé Wanyama Rose Vertonghen Sánchez Aurier FINK TANK PREDICTION H 51% D 25% A 24% Lloris Home win 6/5 (4-2-3-1) Referee A Marriner (21 games) 2 54 Che LWLLW Tot DWWWW 10% 20% 30% 40% Barcelona may be the best team, but Messi is no Ronaldo Daniel Finkelstein The Fink Tank When Chelsea fans consoled themselves that they had been beaten by the best team in the Champions League and the best player in the world, were they correct? Well, yes and no. Henry Stott, Mark Latham and Dinesh Vatvani have developed the Fink Tank’s computer model of European football, using a weighted measure of goals scored and conceded and fine tuning it to provide the probability of victory or defeat in games between sides in different countries. The model shows that Barcelona are the best overall side remaining in the competition and by quite some distance. Bayern Munich, the second-best side, are only 75.6 per cent as good. The reason for Barca’s dominance is because they are well balanced. They aren’t the best side in attack (that’s Real Madrid) or in defence (that’s Juventus) but they are competitive in each part of the field. By contrast Real are only 61.5 per cent as good as Juventus in defence while Juventus are only 58.1 per cent as good as Real in attack. The best English team is Manchester City. It is an open question whether, at 64.6 per cent as good as Barcelona, the model undervalues them. Salah is ranked No 3 in the competition To believe this you would have to think that there had been a sharp increase in the relative quality of the Premier League which had not yet been priced in. This is plausible without being probable. The dominance of Barça means that they are more likely to win the Champions League than the bookies think. The standard bookie odds are around a 25 per cent chance, while the Fink Tank puts it at 38.5 per cent. Manchester City are very popular with punters who are happy to take up bets based on a 22 per cent chance of them winning the trophy. The Fink Tank puts the chance at 10.8 per cent. So that’s the yes bit. Chelsea were beaten by the best team in the competition. But the best player in the world? Not quite. Clearly Lionel Messi is extraordinary and over his career is almost certainly the best player in the world and maybe even the best player ever. But at the moment, based on his contribution he is second-best to Cristiano Ronaldo, as has been the case for some time. What about the suggestion that Mohamed Salah c could one day be mentioned in the s same breath? True, even without the “some day” bit. The Liverpool forward is the third-best p player left in t the competition and not far behind Messi at the moment. 14 1G S Saturday March 31 2018 | the times Sport Football SERENA TAYLOR/NEWCASTLE UNITED ‘If you’re from the academy fans assume you’re no good’ Paul Dummett, the only Geordie in the Newcastle team, is thriving under Rafa Benítez after 18 years of proving people wrong, he tells George Caulkin I t has been a long journey for Paul Dummett, although the distance is short, from Kingston Park to St James’ Park, from doubt to acceptance and, finally, to love. At a club that dots between extremes, the left back’s reliability is unusual, but in Newcastle United’s last match his name was sung, a fitting tribute much delayed. “It was weird,” he says. “Normally people shout, ‘Dummett, you’re shite.’ ” A sturdy defender who relishes defending, Dummett shuns flamboyance. In an era of dashing full backs he does not offer glitter, but solidity is precisely why he is prized so highly by Rafa Benítez and his absence for 136 days this season with a hamstring injury put his worth in context. In the 12 games he has played since returning to the team, Newcastle have lost only to Manchester City and Liverpool. Victory over Huddersfield Town today would take Newcastle to 35 points, close enough for survival to beckon. This life is all Dummett knows. “You never switch off,” he says. “I’m a fan, all my family and friends are fans, so wherever I go it’s always football. The whole city revolves around how well the team are doing. If the team gets beat, town is quiet; if the team wins, town is busy. I feel it.” He grew up close to Newcastle’s ground. “It was Kingston Park when I was younger and then we moved to Gosforth when I was 11,” he says. “I still live there now. My first memory is playing football and my first memory as a fan is watching Alan Shearer, my hero as a kid. I had a season ticket with my dad and brother, up in level seven, which was quite a climb. I was in the East Stand for a bit as well. “I was there when Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer had their fight on the pitch. I remember Sir Bobby Robson’s team. I was ballboy once when Laurent Robert was playing and he hoyed [threw] his gloves to one side and I picked them up. Now I’m playing and other people are watching. It’s strange when you think about it. I’ll carry on doing it for as long as the club want me.” There have been moments when Dummett, 26, has not felt wanted at all, Dummett says that Newcastle must keep Benítez if they are to improve but he has doubled down on effort, a model of perseverance. He fought for his place, for a career, for football. “When I was six, my dad, Ian, took me to a little soccer school in Ponteland,” he says. “The weather was bad so they did it in the gym. Dad said I was like Bambi on ice. My co-ordination was terrible. “After training Dad said, ‘Look son, I don’t think football’s for you.’ The week after, he took me to Newcastle Falcons for a bit of rugby but I said, ‘I want to go back to football.’ The next time it was on grass and totally different. Two years later, I joined Newcastle and I’ve been there ever since, apart from loans, but there have been times when I’ve wondered, ‘Am I going to get kept on, am I going to be released?’ “When I was leaving school at 16, not really knowing what was going to happen, dad d would ask me, ‘What if you don’t make it? i Get some extra education.’ I put it off. He knew how difficult it was to become a player. He runs a plumbing and heating company, so if it hadn’t happened I’d probably be working for the family business, like my mam and brother. “I’d always tell my dad not to worry. I suppose I just believed the worst wouldn’t b happen. It was either ha confidence or the kind of thing c where you think, ‘Ah, it won’t be me, it’ll be someone else.’ I just had the same attitude then that I have now, that I’ll keep trying, keeping working, t that I’ll give it my best shot. I always t ended up staying.” The naysayers included Alan Pardew, Newcastle’s former manager. In 2012-13, Dummett had two spells on loan at St Mirren. “When I l came back at the end of the season, Pardew told me he was giving me another P one-year contract but said, ‘I don’t think you’ve what it takes to play in my team.’ y “It was a shock. It was one of those: there you y go, another contract, but you’re not good enough. You’ve got no chance, basically. “My response was to say, ‘It’s up to me to prove you wrong,’ and I think Pardew liked that. I’m naturally fit, but I worked even harder on my fitness and either started or came on for Birthplace distance from Newcastle Kenedy DeAndre Yedlin Chancel Mbemba Christian Atsu Ayoze Pérez Jesús Gámez Islam Slimani Javier Manquillo Martin Dúbravka Mikel Merino Joselu Mohamed Diamé Florian Lejeune Massadio Haïdara Matt Ritchie Rob Elliot Jonjo Shelvey Dwight Gayle Jacob Murphy Ciaran Clark Isaac Hayden Jamaal Lascelles Karl Darlow Paul Dummett miles 5,938 4,563 4,223 3,405 1,974 1,283 1,280 1,012 948 842 629 462 456 456 290 Dummett 251 is the only 247 244 Geordie in the 243 Newcastle 241 first-team 240 squad 142 102 0 every pre-season game that summer. We played Manchester City in our first Premier League game, Steven Taylor was sent off and I came on. Against Liverpool, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was sent off, I came on again and scored. The club asked me to sign a new six-year contract straight after that, which was quite a difference. It just shows what can happen. You have to be lucky to get an opportunity, but then you have to take it.” Pardew provided the motivation and was not too rigid to block Dummett’s path to the team, but he never admitted being wrong. “No,” Dummett says. “He said nothing. When Pardew has been at other clubs there’s been some interest in taking me there, but I don’t know whether that’s always been true and I’ve never spoken to him direct.” Under Benítez, Dummett has thrived, a mainstay during Newcastle’s promotion season. His improvement has been palpable, and there has been another contract extension. “When we were first linked with the manager, I remember thinking, ‘He’s not going to come here,’ ” Dummett admits. “It was a reminder of how big this club is. We’re lucky to have him. Hopefully we can stay up, he’ll stay and we progress. Because the fans love him so much, it’s made it easier for us. There’s pressure, but it’s a good environment. I wouldn’t say a bad word about him. He’s been nice about me, which is great when he’s achieved so much and worked with so many fantastic players. He always says he wants to strengthen, bring in another left back, I don’t have a problem with that. I want to be pushed.” There is a stubborn determination that filters across to his international career. There have been two caps for Wales (he qualifies through his grandfather), but none since 2015. “Under Chris Coleman I was going away knowing I wouldn’t be playing,” he says. “You have to be professional, but it was difficult. I wasn’t picked for Euro 2016 but I was taken away for the friendlies and to cover for injuries until a couple of days before. I was gutted. “I’d be thinking to myself, ‘When am I ever going to get an opportunity?’ I didn’t feel like I had a chance, like I was part of the squad, because I wasn’t involved. I decided to have a break from it, to concentrate on playing for Newcastle. Coleman said that for as long as he was manager he would never pick me for Wales again, but it’s been a different approach from Ryan Giggs and we’ve had a conversation. “He said that I’d get opportunities to play. No manager can guarantee games and I understand that. I told him that I wouldn’t close the door — it’s a massive honour to play for your country — but if I’d gone with Wales now, got injured and Newcastle went down, I’d have regretted it for ever. My contract is with Newcastle. I want to do the best for Newcastle, make sure we stay up. After that, I can have a rethink.” That commitment will crystallise Dummett’s relationship with Newcastle’s supporters. He has had to work for it, work for everything. “If the club had bought me for £8 million it might have been different,” he says. “When you’ve come through the academy and cost nothing maybe they assume you’re no good. And if the team is struggling, you’re associated with it more as a local lad. “Fans like to see attractive football and I’m never going to be taking people on, doing fancy tricks and hitting one in the top corner. I know what I can do and I know what I can’t do. I do what I can as best I can.” It has been a slow burn, but Dummett is Newcastle’s own and they proclaimed it against Southampton three weeks ago. “I haven’t had that sort of thing before,” he says. “It’s taken a long time. It was strange when I heard it. I was buzzing. I just need to keep putting performances in, so they keep doing it and sing it louder. I’m doing what I’ve always wanted.” the times | Saturday March 31 2018 15 1G S Sport Matt Hughes Football Notebook TIMES PHOTOGRAPHER MARC ASPLAND Chelsea hope big club hire Conte to save them £9m Chelsea could have to pay Conte for up to a year if they dismiss him Stam ally’s future on line B rian Tevreden’s position as director of football at Reading will come under scrutiny at the end of the season after the club’s decision to sack Jaap Stam as manager last week. The Dutchman was instrumental in his compatriot’s appointment at the Madejski Stadium two years ago and the pair worked closely together so Tevreden is seen at the club as being vulnerable after Stam’s replacement by Paul Clement. Reading have a potential replacement for Tevreden already at the club having appointed Ged Roddy as their academy director last month. Having previously spent eight years as the Premier League’s director of football development, Roddy is well qualified to step up to the position of technical director. C helsea hope that a big European club, such as Paris Saint-Germain, will offer Antonio Conte a job this summer as it would save them a significant amount of compensation should he leave. Under the severance terms of the two-year contract Conte signed last summer, the Italian is entitled to be paid for up to a year until he gets another job, or the difference between his old and new salary if he returns to work immediately. PSG would be one of the few clubs able to match Conte’s salary of £9 million and he is on their shortlist to replace Unai Emery, who is expected to be sacked at the end of the season. Chelsea would also be obliged to pay off the nine Italians on his back-room staff if they sack Conte, with only the assistant goalkeeping coach Henrique Hilário, the assistant coach Carlo Cudicini and the fitness coach Chris Jones expected to remain in the light of their boss’s departure. Winger’s Dutch courage B Southgate wows No 10 G areth Southgate’s blunt dismissal of Boris Johnson’s recent remarks about Russia staging the World Cup has been well received by Downing Street. The government is seeking to ease tensions with Russia regarding the tournament despite the continuing diplomatic row with Britain, and Johnson’s comparison of this summer’s World Cup to the 1936 Olympics staged in Nazi Germany at last week’s foreign affairs select committee went down badly at No 10. Southgate was dismissive of Johnson when recounting his positive experience of Russia staging the Confederations Cup at a press conference before England’s friendly against Holland in Amsterdam on London, in talks over the London Stadium this week, but it was not for want of trying. The club have written to the mayor’s office nine times over the past year seeking a meeting before finally being granted a slot. Friday last week, telling journalists, “It’s of little interest to me what the foreign secretary thinks about it”, much to the delight of Downing Street aides. Kane target H arry Kane’s ambition of beating Alan Shearer’s Premier League goals record of 260 will be a factor in the decisions he makes regarding his future and could help Tottenham Hotspur to keep hold of their talisman striker. While there is little prospect of Tottenham agreeing to sell Kane to an English club, a world-record offer from Real Madrid could tempt them to do business, particularly after they have settled into their new stadium. Kane has set a target of surpassing Shearer’s top-flight record however, which is likely to require him to spend the vast majority of his career in England. The 24-year-old has some way to go to beat Shearer as he is 26th in the Premier League table with 102 goals, although his strike rate of 0.71 goals per game is the best on the list, which suggests his target is attainable. Mayor makes Brady wait K arren Brady, the West Ham United vice-chairman, was widely criticised by fans for receiving only a 45-minute audience with Sadiq Khan, the mayor of rentford pride themselves on doing things differently under the ownership of the gambling and data entrepreneur Matthew Benham, often taking an alternative approach that extends to the players. The club’s Dutch winger, Florian Jozefzoon, has been so impressed since signing for the Championship team from PSV Eindhoven in January last year that he recently asked the board if he could buy a stake in Brentford, but Benham politely declined the request. Media on hacking alert S uch are the fears about Russian hackers at the World Cup that some media organisations have told their staff not to use the USB flash drives that are routinely given away as part of a welcome pack at major tournaments because of the suspicion that they could contain hacking software. One global media company has also increased the death-in-service element of the life insurance covering reporters it is sending to cover the tournament to the value of $1 million (about £710,000). Mee stalling on new deal Mike Whalley Ben Mee’s future at Burnley is looking increasingly uncertain, with Sean Dyche indicating that the defender is continuing to stall over a new contract. Mee has just over a year to run on his present deal and if he does not agree an extension by the summer, the club will consider selling him. The centre back has been an important figure in Burnley’s rise this season, standing in as captain while Tom Heaton, the goalkeeper, has been recovering from shoulder surgery. Dyche, the manager of a Burnley team who visit West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League today, is relaxed about Mee’s situation, having sold key players before without it affecting the club’s progress. Michael Keane left for Everton for an initial £25 million last July, followed a month later by Andre Gray, who joined Watford for £18 million. Burnley are not under pressure to sell, having announced a £22.2 million profit in their latest accounts. “I’m not concerned,” Dyche said. “We’ve had it before. ” I’m staying put, says Allardyce Timothy Abraham Sam Allardyce insists that he will still be in charge of Everton next season and has dismissed speculation that his job is under threat. Rumours persist that Everton will replace Allardyce at the end of the season, with Paulo Fonseca, the Shakhtar Donetsk coach, and Marco Silva, the former Watford head coach, regularly linked to the position. Everton fans remain largely sceptical about Allardyce’s ability to take the club forward, although since the 63-yearold’s appointment their points tally is the sixth best in the Premier League. “I have no problem with the security of my position and never have,” Allardyce said. “Only other people have created that insecurity. I worry about the team’s performances — or lack of — and not the insecurity on whether I lose my job or not. That will be determined by the players on how well they perform, or on not getting results.” 16 2G S Saturday March 31 2018 | the times Sport Rugby union Inside the Dublin school supplying stars to Leinster For tomorrow’s purposes, the names in question are Dan Leavy and James Two and a bit years ago, when the All Ryan — two of the architects-in-chief Blacks won the World Cup, of England’s downfall at Twickenham Christchurch Boys’ High School could two weeks ago — plus Luke McGrath, reasonably be said to be the best rugby- the scrum half, and three more, Max playing school in the world. After all, in Deegan, Nick McCarthy and Rory the starting XV for the final, Dan O’Loughlin on the bench. Ryan is very much the coming superCarter, Brodie Retallick and Owen Franks were all CBHS old boys. There star of Irish rugby, a Maro Itoje in green was a fourth on the bench and a fifth in (today in blue). At St Michael’s they saw him coming from way off. Bernard the squad. Is it the best rugby-playing school in Jackman, the former Sale Sharks and the world now? This is, of course, to a Ireland hooker, was a coach there when large extent subjective, yet the answer Ryan was in his second year. “Even may lie on the Ailesbury Road, in then,” Jackman recalls, “everyone was Dublin, where, tucked in around the saying, ‘That’s the kid. That’s the kid.’ ” Jackman went from St Michael’s to foreign embassies and ambassador residences, there is a private school for 600 coaching at Grenoble and is now head coach at the Dragons. It is not unusual boys called St Michael’s. Why is this relevant this weekend? for a former player of Jackman’s quality Because tomorrow, when Saracens play to be coaching at Irish schools such as Leinster in the quarter-finals of the St Michael’s. “If you want to coach in Ireland, Champions Cup at the Aviva schools rugby is as close as you Stadium, they will be coming can get to professionalism,” up against not just the team he says. “It was a big part of who look the strongest in Leinster v my development. You test Europe, but also a system yourself in knockout, highthat feeds off one of the Saracens ly intense competition. I best schools. Tomorrow know, it’s school rugby, so One of Leinster’s many Kick-off: 3.30pm that sounds ridiculous, but strengths is their excelBT Sport 2 it’s true.” lence in identification and What does professionalism development of young at St Michael’s look like? They players. Of Leinster’s 45-man play today, will have video analysis of senior squad, 37 have come through their academy. The production line is so each player’s game in their inbox by strong that The Irish Times recently tomorrow, will be doing the first of the described Leinster as “akin to Ajax in week’s gym sessions at 7am on Monday morning and then the full post-match their 1980s pomp”. And quite a lot of this is to do with video review session on Monday lunchSt Michael’s. In the broader Leinster time. That is one reason why Ryan, Leavy squad, there are 14 St Michael’s alumni. Blackrock, Dublin’s more famous rugby et al can transfer so quickly from school school, has been overtaken as a devel- rugby to the professional game — opment centre for professional rugby because they have been conditioned in players. St Michael’s has provided the a school system that is so close to the past six captains of the Ireland Under- real thing. That is not just St Michael’s, though. Christchurch Boys in New Zea20 team. On recent Six Nations weekends, land is no different. The top English when Ireland, Ireland Under-20, schools too. To give the level of the rugby at Leinster and Connacht were all playing, there were, at any time, between 20 and St Michael’s some context, though, 22 St Michael’s old boys in action. It Kirkham Grammar and (an injury even goes as far as the headmaster, -depleted) Wellington College, two of whose two sons, Cian and Ronan the strongest school sides in England, Kelleher, have also graduated from the played there in the autumn and were school and into the ranks of the beaten 65-0 and 72-0 respectively. Some more context: some of the top professional game. Owen Slot Chief Rugby Correspondent Brian O’Driscoll on the key English public schools recruit heavily and compete with each other with the scholarships they can give to attract the best up-and-coming players. At St Michael’s, though, Andy Skehan, the director of rugby, explains, “No one is recruited. There is no vetting of their athletic ability coming in. We just get what we get and make the best of it we can. We have no players coming into the school late.” What is also impressive is how St Michael’s mapped out their rapid progress. “I remember reading the match programme at Lansdowne Road internationals and they listed the schools the players came from, and I thought, ‘ It’d be quite cool if we couldget one from St Michael’s,’ ” Skehan says. Ten years ago, a decision was made to improve the school rugby programme. This involved, for instance, two new 4G pitches being laid and increased levels of professionalism in the senior teams. A unified coaching vision across all teams and age groups was introduced; a lot of it is Leinster-based, while the attack owes a lot to Exeter Chiefs. In 2012, they won the Leinster Senior Schools Cup, a huge event. They were beaten in the final the year after. They haven’t been in the final since, which is just a comment on the quality of the competition and the quality of the Leinster supply line. Blackrock, Belvedere and Clongowes are traditionally the toughest rivals. In their semi-final against Belvedere this year, St Michael’s were 19-3 up with ten minutes to go, made a number of substitutions and lost by a point. Does this make them the best rugbyplaying school in the world? Blackrock, who beat Belvedere in the final, would probably like a say in that. Or, ideally, St Michael’s would be playing in the inaugural World Schools Festival next week in Paarl, South Africa. That is a 20-team invitation tournament; Christchurch Boys High will be there. St Michael’s were invited but declined because too many of their top players were unavailable as they were playing for Ireland Under-18 or Under19. That is a nice problem to have, a great situation for Leinster to inherit. Farrell passed fit but rested Irish side start as favourites Owen Slot The team news was good for Saracens yesterday, and not so hot for Leinster. On that front, Saracens appear to have the edge. However much they are buoyed by the return of Owen Farrell, though, this fixture is about so much more than one man. For Saracens, it was a good start to Easter when Farrell had recovered from a quad injury. Whether he is ready to take up place-kicking duties will not become clear until tomorrow afternoon. It may well be that Alex Goode has to step up as kicker. On the other side, Seán O’Brien’s long-awaited comeback will have to wait a little longer. Leinster were hoping for that extra lift by picking an iconic player but it will take more than that setback to stop Leinster, who bring so much momentum into this potentially epic quarter-final. It is impossible to divorce tomorrow’s game at the Aviva Stadium from Ireland’s grand-slam win two weeks ago. We left the Six Nations wondering about England and fatigue. The Ireland grand-slammers left it and seemed to head straight for Dubai. We are back into a knockout game that pits one team who are rested against one who are not. Of Leinster’s starting XV, only five played last weekend. And Saracens? Of their starting XV, 13 played last weekend. If George Kruis and Farrell had not been injured, it may have been the full house. Saracens, of course, are so convinced that fatigue is a massive red herring that Maro Itoje joked about it with his try celebration last weekend. We will see how funny the joke is tomorrow. But these are systems and coaching decisions too. Mark McCall, the Saracens director of rugby, could have rested more first-choice players last weekend but put as much of his Champions Cup team together as he could. This Leinster team have not really played together since January. They had been on such a roll it seemed nothing could stop them. They have grand-slammers among them and have been toasting their success on the beach. Hard work versus celebration. This is one of the many decisions that pits two smart rugby brains against each other. Many would install McCall as the next Ireland coach; others in Ireland would have Stuart Lancaster, the Leinster senior coach. That is one of the many subtexts to a massive game. Though it is tempting to read this as England versus Ireland, but in different shirts, it is about the struggle for performance. Leinster tend to be consist- ently excellent, and were by some distance the best team in the pool stages, but since the Six Nations started they have won two games out of five. Saracens, meanwhile, are searching for performances to match last season’s, such as the semi-final win over Munster at the Aviva. They have been up and then massively down this season. Schalk Burger, the Saracens flanker, put it in straightforward terms: “The big thing for us, as a group of mates, is to pull together and put up a performance representative of Saracens and what we stand for. We are the type of team that embraces these sort of challenges.” Now is truly the time to show it. the times | Saturday March 31 2018 17 2G S Sport Lowering height of tackle may actually cause more injuries clashes W JAMES RYAN v MARO ITOJE The really good players respond when their performances are being questioned and it has looked as though Maro has responded to suggestions that he might have been needing a rest. He’s a future captain of England, undoubtedly. Ryan is also a natural leader and, like Itoje, is an extremely athletic lock. He is perhaps a year ahead of what we might have expected in his development, having started the grand-slam match against England two weeks ago. Amazingly, he has not lost a game in his professional career. Ben Kay B E X JOHNNY SEXTON v OWEN FARRELL Even if he is not fully fit, Owen Farrell at 80 per cent or more is still going to be a real threat and an important player for Saracens. Farrell and Sexton have so much in common: they’re bolshie, they’re stubborn, they’ve both learnt to cool their occasionally fiery temperaments. They’re two of the best three fly halves in the world, with Beauden Barrett making up the club. W TADHG FURLONG v MAKO VUNIPOLA The two pillars of the British & Irish Lions’ scrum in New Zealand. I thought Mako was one of the shining lights for England in their defeat by Ireland at the end of the Six Nations, he just kept going. Maybe there’s a danger now that he’ll be running on fumes, but he’s an incredibly consistent performer in the loose. Where Furlong will hope to get the edge is in the scrum, but he’ll need plenty of help from his team-mates against the Saracens pack. 6 BT Sport is the only place to watch rugby from the Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and the Aviva Premiership. For more info visit www.bt.com/sport Solomona accused of using term ‘faggot’ John Westerby The homophobic insult that Denny Solomona has been accused of making is the same term that led to Mathieu Bastareaud being banned for three weeks earlier this season. Solomona, the Sale Sharks wing, will attend a disciplinary hearing on Thursday, having been accused of verbally abusing Jamie Shillcock, the Worcester Warriors fly half, during their teams’ Aviva Premiership meeting last weekend. Shillcock has alleged that Solomona twice used the term “faggot” when the pair scuffled in the 56th minute of the match at the AJ Bell Stadium. Bastareaud, the Toulon and France centre, was found guilty of using the same insult towards Sebastian Negri during his club’s European Champions Cup game against Benetton in January. A guilty plea meant that Bastareaud’s ban was reduced from six weeks, the minimum entry for the offence, to three weeks. It is not yet known how Solomona will plead Sale’s wing could face lengthy ban at his hearing. The Sale wing, who was part of England’s Six Nations squad without adding to his two caps, has scored 11 Premiership tries this season, one fewer than Worcester wing Josh Adams, the league’s leading scorer. Sale have four Premiership games remaining and lie seventh in the table, six points away from the top-four play-off positions. verything in sport happens in the moment and tends to be judged accordingly. When England win the Six Nations, Eddie Jones is the best thing since sliced bread. And be when England finish fifth a year later, wh it’s seen in some quarters as an unmitigated disaster. There’s a lot of un black and white in sport, not so many bl shades of grey, and the same rationale sh tends to apply when we have a te pressing problem that needs solving: pr here is the issue, we need to make a he clear-cut change as soon as possible. cle But sometimes there are unintended consequences of changes un that we can’t appreciate until those th changes are made. Take the change in ch the breakdown laws this season. I th don’t think many people foresaw, do when the ruck laws were redrafted to wh favour attacking teams, that midfields fav would become so much more wo congested and that there would be co bigger collisions as a result. This was a knock-on effect, unforeseen until the new laws were being implemented, and sometimes you have to go through that process to see whether something works, especially in a game such as rugby, with so many moving parts. This crossed my mind when the Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project on the English game was released this week, coming with the recommendation from the RFU that World Rugby should consider lowering the legal height of the tackle to reduce the risks of concussion. The report had found that incidents of concussion had risen for the seventh consecutive year and that it was the most commonly reported injury, accounting for 22 per cent of the total injuries studied. I have huge respect for the work that Simon Kemp, the RFU’s medical services director, is doing and this is clearly one of the biggest issues facing the game. But I wonder if lowering the height of tackles could come with the unintended consequence of actually making the collision more dangerous for the tackler. According to the report, 19 per cent of injuries to the ball carrier were concussions. For the tackler, this figure was 43 per cent. The tackle is naturally more dangerous for the tackler because he’s the one who has to react to the carrier’s sudden movements, he’s the one who’s more likely to get something slightly wrong in this high-speed blur of action. Now think of the tackler setting himself even lower for a tackle, and what will be coming from the ball carrier. If he sets his head lower, shifting the trajectory of the hit down a few inches, there will be knees, elbows and hips in close proximity. A lot of hard bones for the side of his head to come into contact with. Consider also that many carriers dip into the tackle, with their backs almost horizontal when they’re taking contact, while carrying the ball around their midriff. Where does the tackler aim? This doesn’t leave much in the way of soft landings on the carrier’s body for the tackler’s head to find. I’m not sure that lowering the tackle height would reduce the risk of concussion and it might even make the situation worse. We won’t know because you can never tell whether a significant change like this will lead to other unintended consequences. But this is an area where the game needs to get things right. I should say that I believe the spike in concussions detailed in the report is not a sign that the game is becoming more dangerous, merely a reflection of improved education. Quite simply, players are reporting their concussions more often. Back in my playing days at Leicester, our training sessions could be fierce and it was not unknown for them to erupt into huge punch-ups. If a player was feeling groggy, he’d take a minute, shake it off and pitch himself straight back into the fray. Nowadays, because of the brilliant work involved in the study of injuries, players are much more aware of the risks and will put their hand up when they’ve been knocked on the head for the medics to take a look at them. There are times, of course, when the tackler simply puts his head in the wrong place. Jonny May was one such May receives treatment for the head injury he suffered against Wasps example, knocked out playing for Leicester against Wasps last weekend when he lined up a tackle on Christian Wade. The Wasps wing stepped in, dipped slightly into contact and May jarred his head in contact with Wade’s shoulder. But it’s so hard for the tackler to react to late movement from the player with the ball. Tacklers are often accused of being reckless, but there’s always got to be margin for error. If we go much further down the path of penalising reckless tackles, we’ll see more players being sent off and more games being decided by one marginal misjudgment in a tackle, detracting from what supporters have paid to watch. I wonder if the rugby league system of placing players on report, with the possibility of disciplinary action further down the line, would be more effective than sending them off for slight errors in the timing of a tackle. Rugby is inherently a reckless sport. The players generally know that participation comes with a risk attached and they gladly accept that risk, but I really don’t think the game is becoming more dangerous. To ensure that this remains the case and that mums and dads can believe this is a safe game for their kids, we must keep looking at ways to reduce concussions, but I’m not convinced that lowering the height of the tackle is the clear way forward. 18 Saturday March 31 2018 | the times 3G S Sport Rugby union Late tries put Scarlets into the Scarlets La Rochelle 29 0 2 17 1 Champions Cup quarter-final Steve James It was not necessarily the game to match a remarkable atmosphere and occasion as Welsh regional rugby at last returned to the European party, with Scarlets progressing to their first semifinal in this competition since 2007. But nobody in Llanelli was complaining about that last night. The victory was all that mattered and it was thoroughly deserved in the end, achieved by some brilliant work from their pack at the breakdown and in defence, in particular a captain’s performance from the hooker Ken Owens, two secondhalf tries and the trusty boot of Leigh Halfpenny. There has never been a Welsh winner in the elite European competition — and the last Welsh semi-finalists were Cardiff Blues in 2009 — and Scarlets will have to do it the hard way in the semi-final, with a trip either to Dublin to face Leinster or Coventry to meet Saracens, but they will know they can play a lot better than this. They are a seriously dangerous side. “We can dare to dream,” Owens said. “It wasn’t pretty at times but, as someone who has been at this club all my career, this victory means everything to me. It was the biggest game of my club career.” Only in the last quarter through a try from the centre Scott Williams did we really see their true style, those quick passes and offloads, but that was down to a combination of nerves and a huge La Rochelle side that often dragged Scarlets down to their pace. “We didn’t quite execute the game plan we wanted,” Owens admitted. “But we ground out the victory. In knockout rugby we have learnt that you can try to play as much rugby as you want, but you have just got to find a way to win. That is what we did.” The visitors simply conceded too many penalties at crucial moments, especially in the first half. They were unable to please the referee, Luke Pearce, sufficiently, in particular at the breakdown, where Tadhg Beirne and John Barclay were superb for the home side. Pearce, unusually for an Aviva Premiership official, often sided with the defender and jackaler rather than the attacker. Scarlets had scored first with a Halfpenny penalty kick but then came a controversial score from La Rochelle. The outstanding centre Arthur Retière had unexpectedly received the ball from a ruck — that often flummoxes defences — and duly opened up Scarlets with a lovely kick and collect. From there Jérémy Sinzelle, the fly half, kicked to the corner, where the ball evaded Steff Evans, the home wing. There was a mad scramble to touch the ball down, with Halfpenny and the lock Romain Sazy in attendance. After lengthy deliberation from David Grashoff, the television match official, the try was awarded to Sazy. Alexi Balès converted to make it 7-3. Halfpenny kicked a second penalty goal and when Scarlets lost their wing Paul Asquith, they replaced him with Josh Macleod, a flanker, meaning James Davies had to move to the wing. The other option would have been to bring Dan Jones on at fly half, with Rhys Patchell moving to full back and Halfpenny to the wing. It seemed rather a waste to banish Davies out wide given how influential he has been for Scarlets in recent times, but Macleod made an immediate impact, winning a penalty at the breakdown so that Halfpenny could kick his third penalty goal and return Scarlets to the lead at 9-7. That became a five-point advantage when Halfpenny kicked his fourth penalty goal. La Rochelle did rally, though, and Balès, the scrum half, very nearly went through for a try. A penalty was some consolation, at least, and Balès kicked that himself to make it 12-10 at the break. When Steff Evans was injured, his head hitting Balès’s elbow, Scarlets had to make that back-line change with Jones arriving at fly half, but not before Halfpenny, now on the wing to accommodate Patchell at full back, had kicked his fifth penalty goal after yet another silly La Rochelle offence at a ruck. The French side pounded at the Scarlets line but then, having somehow survived through valiant defence and a Barclay turnover, came the killer blow from the home side. Hadleigh Parkes, again having one of those quietly efficient games, made the initial break with his trademark spin out of the tackle. The ruck ball was quick so that Gareth Davies could feed Jones. The replacement fly half made a clever long pass to Patchell, who could have used Halfpenny outside but went himself and duly scored Scarlets’ first try of the match. Halfpenny converted brilliantly to make it 22-10. La Rochelle would not yield easily, however, and again were camped on the west Walians’ line but this time Patchell, who started at fly half before moving to full back, received the ball from Jones before opting not to pass to Halfpenny and running over for the Scarlets’ opening try, making it 20-10 Halfpenny converted, and the score was 29-10. It was all over. A last-ditch try from replacement Pierre Boudehent from his own half was no consolation for La Rochelle. another hero, the replacement Lewis Rawlins, appeared to save the day. But the yellow card we had all been expecting — Beirne had been very fortunate at one stage — came as the replacement Will Boyde was sent to the sin-bin for side entry at a ruck. No matter. Scarlets had one moment of magic up their sleeves. Gareth Davies had collected a kick in the sweeping role and the ball was transferred swiftly to the short side by Patchell and Aaron Shingler, freeing the flanker-cum-wing James Davies down the right-hand side. He found Williams inside and the centre stretched away to score. Scorers: Scarlets: Tries Patchell 61min, Williams 75. Conversions: Halfpenny 2. Penalty goals: Halfpenny 5 (4, 11, 17, 25, 45). La Rochelle: Tries Sazy 8, Boudehent 80. Conversions Noble, Balès. Penalty goal Balès. Scoring sequence (Scarlets first): 3-0, 3-7, 6-7, 9-7, 127, 12-10, (half-time), 15-10, 22-10, 29-10, 29-17. Scarlets: L Halfpenny; P Asquith (rep: J Macleod 14 [rep: W Boyde 62, sin-bin 69]), S Williams, H Parkes, S Evans (rep: D Jones 45); R Patchell, G Davies (rep: A Davies 78); R Evans (rep: D Evans 68), K Owens, S Lee (rep: W Kruger 56), T Beirne, D Bulbring (rep: L Rawlins 56), A Shingler, J Davies, J Barclay (rep: R Elias 78). La Rochelle: C Bouldoire (rep: P Boudehent 31); V Rattez, A Retière, P Aguillon, S Barry; J Sinzelle (rep: B Noble 62), A Balès (rep: T Kerr-Barlow 56); D Priso (rep: K Tufele 62), P Bourgarit, U Atonio (rep: M Boughanmi 52), R Sazy, M Tanguy, B Veivuke (rep: K Gourdon 24), Z Kieft (rep: G Lamboley 56), A Amosa (rep: H Forbes 56). Referee: L Pearce (England). Attendance: 15,373. Fixtures Today Football Kick-off 3.0 unless stated Premier League: Brighton v Leicester; Crystal Palace v Liverpool (12.30); Everton v Man City (5.30); Man Utd v Swansea; Newcastle v Huddersfield; Watford v Bournemouth; West Brom v Burnley; West Ham v Southampton. Sky Bet Championship: Birmingham v Ipswich; Hull v Aston Villa (5.30). League One: Walsall v Portsmouth. Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership: Aberdeen v St Johnstone; Celtic v Ross County; Hibernian v Partick; Kilmarnock v Hamilton; Motherwell v Rangers (12.30). Championship: Dumbarton v Livingston; Dunfermline v Queen of South; Falkirk v Brechin; Inverness CT v St Mirren; Morton v Dundee Utd. League One: Alloa v Arbroath; East Fife v Ayr; Queen’s Park v Airdrieonians; Raith v Albion; Stranraer v Forfar. League Two: Annan Athletic v Berwick; Cowdenbeath v Stenhousemuir; Elgin v Stirling; Montrose v Edinburgh City; Peterhead v Clyde. Vanarama North: Blyth Spartans v AFC Telford; Innard at the Anglo-Welsh Cup final Jack Innard scored two tries as Exeter Chiefs regained the Anglo-Welsh Cup with a 28-11 win over Bath at Kingsholm. It was the fourth final in a row that the Chiefs had contested and, after losing the past two, they claimed back the trophy they first won in 2014. Bath went into the final unbeaten in this season’s tournament but they were comfortably second best on the day as their wait for a first trophy since 2008, when they won the European Challenge Cup, went on. Apart from Innard, the hooker, right, Toby Salmon scored Exeter’s other try, with Joe Simmonds adding three penalties and two conversions, while Bath’s Results Darlington v Southport; Leamington v FC United of Manchester; York v Chorley. South: Chippenham v Eastbourne Borough; Gloucester v St Albans; Wealdstone v East Thurrock. Evo-Stik Premier Division: North: Ashton Utd v Mickleover Sports; Coalville Town v Workington; Halesowen v Stourbridge; Lancaster City v Sutton Coldfield; Marine v Buxton; Matlock Town v Stalybridge; Nantwich Town v Farsley Celtic; Rushall Olympic v Altrincham; Shaw Lane v Barwell; Stafford Rangers v Grantham; Whitby v Warrington Town; Witton Albion v Hednesford. South: Bishop’s Stortford v Merthyr; Chesham v Redditch; Dorchester v St Neots Town; Farnborough v Kings Langley; Frome Town v Banbury; Gosport Borough v Biggleswade; Hereford v Royston Town; Hitchin v Tiverton; Kettering v Weymouth; St Ives Town v Basingstoke; Stratford Town v Kings Lynn Town. Bostik Premier: Enfield Town v Brightlingsea Regent; Hendon v Met Police; Leatherhead v Billericay; Margate v Worthing; Merstham v Harrow Borough; Needham Market v Tooting & Mitcham; Staines Town v Folkestone; Thurrock v Leiston. Women’s Super League: Yeovil v Liverpool. League Two: Doncaster v Watford (5.0). Rugby union European Champions Cup: Quarter-finals: Munster v Toulon (3.15). European Challenge Cup: Quarter-finals: Connacht v Gloucester (1.0); Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues (Murrayfield, 5.45). British & Irish Cup: Quarter-finals: Bedford v Ulster A (3.0); Ealing Trailfinders v Cornish Pirates (3.0). Women: Tyrrells Premier 15s: FirwoodWaterloo v Wasps (2.0); Worcester v Darlington Mowden Park (2.0). Other sport Boxing: IBF, WBA, WBO, IBO heavyweight title bout: Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker, Cardiff Principality stadium. Ice Hockey: Elite League play-offs: Sheffield v Guildford (7.0); Fife v Manchester (7.15). Tomorrow Football Premier League: Arsenal v Stoke (1.30); Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur (4.0). Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership: Dundee v Hearts (12.30). FA Women’s Super League (2.0): Arsenal v Chelsea (12.30); Birmingham v Sunderland; Everton v Bristol City; Man City v Reading. League Two: Brighton v Tottenham (2.0); Durham v Oxford Utd (12.0); Sheffield FC v Millwall (2.0). Cricket Football Millwall Williams 1, Gregory 33 16,004 Sky Bet Championship Norwich Fulham Barnsley (1) 2 Bristol City (1) 2 Moore 7, Potts 78 12,236 Diedhious 31 Brownhill 90+1 Brentford Sheffield Utd (0) 1 (0) 1 (2) 2 (0) 0 26,750 Reading Nottm Forest (0) 0 (1) 1 QPR (0) 0 MCC University matches: First day of three (11.0): Fenner’s: Cambridge MCCU v Nottinghamshire. Bristol: Gloucestershire v Cardiff MCCU. Canterbury: Kent v Oxford MCCU. Hove: Sussex v Loughborough MCCU. Edgbaston: Warwickshire v Durham MCCU. Worcester RGS: Worcestershire v Leeds/ Bradford MCCU. Mepham 68 Basham 55 11,174 Sent off: R Woods (Brentford) 69, J Blackman (Sheff Utd) 69 Aluko 13 Sheffield Wed (0) 4 Preston Cardiff Nuhiu 50, 90+2 Lucas João 52 Forestieri 90+6 Moult 72 26,588 Rugby union Derby European Champions Cup: Quarter-finals: Clermont Auvergne v Racing 92 (2.0); Leinster v Saracens (3.30). Other sport Basketball: BBL Championship: Sheffield v Leeds (2.0); London v Leicester (4.15); Cheshire v Glasgow (5.30). Ice Hockey: Elite League play-offs: Manchester v Fife (5.30); Cardiff v Coventry (6.0); Guildford v Sheffield (6.0); Nottingham v Belfast (7.0). (2) 3 Zohore 16 Mendez-Laing 45+1 Paterson 64 (1) 1 Vydra 42 27,890 Leeds Bent 21 21,086 Sunderland (2) 4 Honeyman 10 Fletcher 36 McGeady 50 (pen) O’Shea 76 (1) 2 Ekuban 4 Hernández 50 Middlesbro Burton Albion (1) 1 Bolton (0) 1 Le Fondre 53 35,377 (0) 1 Wolves (2) 2 Bamford 90+4 Costa 32, Cavaleiro 37 27,658 Sent off: R Neves (Wolves 56), M Doherty (Wolves) 71 (0) 2 Johansen 66 Cairney 70 20,273 Sent off: Y Kermorgant (Reading 81) P Wolves................39 Cardiff.................38 Fulham................39 Aston Villa..........38 Derby...................38 Middlesbro..........39 Bristol City..........39 Millwall...............39 Sheff Utd ............ 39 Preston................39 Brentford ............ 39 Leeds...................39 Ipswich................38 Norwich...............39 W 26 24 20 20 16 18 16 16 18 15 14 15 15 13 D 7 7 12 9 14 8 13 13 7 15 13 8 7 13 L 6 7 7 9 8 13 9 10 14 9 12 16 16 13 F 71 61 68 61 56 55 56 48 52 49 55 52 47 41 (0) 1 A 34 32 41 37 38 38 44 37 44 41 47 54 48 46 GD Pts 37 85 29 79 27 72 24 69 18 62 17 62 12 62 11 61 8 61 8 60 8 55 -2 53 -1 52 -5 52 the times | Saturday March 31 2018 19 3G S Sport Froome ‘suffers setback’ in bid to avoid ban for use of asthma drug semi-finals JAMES CROMBIE/INPHO/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK Cycling Martyn Ziegler Chief Sports Reporter Chris Froome has suffered a first setback in his hopes of avoiding a ban for excessive levels of salbutamol after the UCI referred his case to its independent anti-doping panel, according to Le Monde, the French daily newspaper. The Team Sky rider had been hoping that his explanations would be enough to persuade the international cycling union to drop the case but it will now proceed to the next stage in the process. The four-times Tour de France winner returned an adverse finding for double the permitted level of the asthma drug salbumatol at the Vuelta a España in September last year. Froome, 32, had argued there were natural reasons for it and that there had been no wrongdoing on his or the team’s part. He has been allowed to continue competing until the case is resolved and is part of Team Sky’s plans for the Giro d’Italia, which starts in Jerusalem on May 4. However, if the case is still hanging over him it looks unlikely he will be permitted to take part in the Tour de 11 Years since a Welsh team reached the semifinals of European club rugby’s leading competition France as organisers have indicated they will not issue an invitation. David Lappartient, the UCI president, said earlier this month that he believed Team Sky should have suspended Froome pending the outcome of the case and that it would be “a disaster for the image of cycling” if he rode in the Tour de France without his case being resolved. Froome’s hopes of avoiding a ban rest on him being able to conat there t vince the panel that was a natural reason for the high level of salbutamol. In previous cases, Diego Ulissi tested positive for a similar level of salbutamol at the Giro in 2014 and was banned for nine months by a Swiss disciplinary panel. In the 2007 Giro, Alessandro Petacchi tested positive for salbutamol and was then banned for a year by the Italian authorities. When the news of t the adverse finding b broke, Froome insisted h had followed the rules he about the permitted dose. He said at the time: “It is w well known that I have a asthma and I know exactly w what the rules are. I use an inhaler to manage my symptoms and I know for sure that I will be tested every day I wear the race leader’s jersey. “My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed t team doctor’s advice to the i increase my salbutamol d dosage. “As always, I took the g greatest care to ensure that I d did not use more than the perm missible dose.” The UCI has not been convinced by Froome’s explanation Grace ends Saints’ nine-year derby wait St Helens Wigan Warriors 21 0 2 18 1 Betfred Super League Christopher Irvine double as Exeter secure cup points came from a try by Cooper Vuna and two penalties from Freddie Burns. “I’m really proud of this group of players as we thought we were out of this competition at various stages during the season,” Ricky Pellow, the Exeter skills coach, said. “The club has a squad of 48-52 players and we have faith in all of them, and they showed that today by playing with emotion and passion in a competition that is a massive part of the club’s development plan.” Todd Blackadder, the Bath director QPR ..................... 39 12 11 16 45 56 -11 47 Nottm Forest......39 13 7 19 43 56 -13 46 Sheff Wed...........39 10 14 15 45 53 -8 44 Hull......................38 9 12 17 53 59 -6 39 Reading...............39 9 12 18 45 57 -12 39 Bolton..................39 9 12 18 34 58 -24 39 Barnsley..............39 7 13 19 39 58 -19 34 Birmingham........38 9 6 23 28 57 -29 33 Sunderland..........39 6 13 20 42 69 -27 31 Burton.................39 7 9 23 28 70 -42 30 League One AFC Wimbledon(0) 0 Fleetwood 4,378 Sowerby 22 Blackpool (0) 1 Doncaster (1) 1 (1) 2 Daniel 56 4,533 Rowe 43, 70 Bristol Rovers (0) 2 Bury Telford 65 Lines 85 (pen) Danns 54 9,030 Northampton (0) 0 Charlton 6,416 Reeves 14 Fosu-Henry 19, 51 Magennis 79 Oxford United (0) 1 Scunthorpe Henry 56 (pen) 7,479 Toney 12 (0) 1 (2) 4 (1) 1 of rugby, did not spare his side criticism. “We set ourselves up in the first quarter as our kicking was aimless and our discipline killed us,” he said. “We were on the back foot for the whole of the first 20 minutes and didn’t have any possession at all. We came out a different team after the interval but it shouldn’t take a rocket at half-time to make us turn in a performance.” 6 Two tries by Alex Tait helped Newcastle Falcons to beat Brive 25-10 at Kingston Park and earn a place in the European Challenge Cup semi-finals. Plymouth (2) 4 Lameiras 3, 88 Carey 33, 52 Rochdale Southend (0) 0 11,965 (1) 3 Shrewsbury (1) 1 Rathbone 45+12 Davies 80 Henderson 90+6 Thomas 8 4,098 Rotherham Peterborough (0) 1 (0) 1 Lavery 68 9,573 Wigan There was no finer way for St Helens to break Wigan’s nine-year stranglehold over the great rivals’ Good Friday derby fixture than Regan Grace’s spectacular try from Jonny Lomax’s perfect looping pass five minutes from time. St Helens had been staring at yet another Easter loss to their arch rivals after George Williams converted Willie Isa’s try to put Wigan 14-12 ahead. But the early league leaders’ admirable control in the last nine minutes and flurry of nine points allowed them to stretch their advantage to four points at the top of the table. Sean O’Loughlin added to Wigan’s disciplinary woes with a contentiouslooking ball steal in allowing Danny Richardson to draw the home side level. His penalty was followed by a conversion from wide out after Grace’s diving finish, then a drop-goal to render Joel Tomkins’s last-act second try for the Marriott 90+8 (1) 3 Grigg 40, Vaughan 49 Powell 66 P W Wigan..................37 24 Blackburn............38 23 Shrewsbury.........39 23 Rotherham..........39 20 Scunthorpe..........40 15 Plymouth.............39 17 Peterborough......39 15 Charlton .............. 38 16 Portsmouth.........38 17 Bristol Rovers.....39 16 Bradford..............38 16 Southend.............39 13 Doncaster............38 12 Gillingham...........38 12 Fleetwood Town.39 13 Blackpool.............39 11 Oldham (0) 0 L 5 5 7 13 10 13 11 12 17 17 17 15 13 13 17 14 F 71 72 52 64 57 51 61 50 48 56 49 45 47 43 51 45 A 23 35 31 46 48 47 49 46 47 58 56 59 45 43 57 50 GD Pts 48 80 37 79 21 78 18 66 9 60 4 60 12 58 4 58 1 55 -2 54 -7 53 -14 50 2 49 0 49 -6 48 -5 47 12 11 10 11 10 10 8 7 10 11 12 9 10 10 14 9 16 16 17 19 17 20 15 23 53 47 39 37 50 36 38 32 58 57 52 50 65 67 46 59 -5 -10 -13 -13 -15 -31 -8 -27 46 44 42 42 40 40 38 30 League Two Barnet 10,625 D 8 10 9 6 15 9 13 10 4 6 5 11 13 13 9 14 Oxford Utd..........38 Walsall................38 MK Dons..............39 AFC Wimbledon..39 Oldham................37 Northampton......40 Rochdale..............37 Bury.....................39 Crewe (0) 1 McKirdy 70 Cambridge Utd(2) 3 Crawley Town (0) 1 Ibehre 4, Maris 22 Brown 58 Payne 49 (pen) 4,131 Cheltenham Carlisle (0) 0 3,107 (0) 1 (2) 2 Luton (0) 1 Hylton 88 (pen) 5,461 (0) 0 Stevenage (0) 0 (0) 3 Exeter (1) 2 5,368 Lincoln City Newport Co Accrington (1) 1 Coventry Demetriou 40 4,667 Biamou 79 Notts County (0) 0 Wycombe Rowe 60, Green 62 Palmer 86 Port Vale (0) 1 (0) 1 (0) 0 Stockley 10, Taylor 78 9,785 (1) 2 Chesterfield (0) 1 Pugh 45 Reed 56 Whitfield 82 5,713 Sent off: D Pugh (Port Vale) 45+2 Swindon Devitt 74 (pen) Eastman 15 Prosser 27 Grimsby (0) 0 5,053 Conneely 60 Sent off: M Benning (Mansfield Town) 13 8,038 (0) 2 Akinde 51 (pen), 87 (pen) 1,951 Colchester Mansfield Warriors academic. Justin Holbrook, the St Helens head coach, said: “There’d been a lot of talk of the eight years and this win means so much.” Shaun Wane, the Wigan head coach, bemoaned the late loss of Sam Tomkins through illness. Morgan Escaré, deputising at full back, kicked Wigan into an early lead, but Saints improved once Ben Barba slipped the shackles. Luke Thompson’s offload left the full back to cover 50 metres and beat Escaré. Wigan persistently fell foul of Robert Hicks, the referee, and were further punished by James Roby darting from dummy half and angling a pass for Zeb Taia, who left John Bateman and Josh Woods clutching at thin air, to grab Saints’ second touchdown. The home side’s similarly low-key start to the second period was exploited. Sam Powell’s inside ball and Williams’s switch to Tomkins produced a timely retort. Tomkins was held up, but Isa seized O’Loughlin’s pass to ground out wide, defying a clutch of defenders. It levelled the scores and Williams’s touchline conversion nudged the Warriors in front, before Richardson’s immaculate kicking and Grace’s intervention turned the tide. “I’ll get (0) 1 Norris 55 (pen) 6,328 Yeovil P Accrington...........38 Luton...................40 Wycombe............40 Notts County ...... 40 Exeter..................39 Coventry..............39 Lincoln City.........39 Mansfield............39 Swindon..............39 Carlisle................40 Morecambe (1) 1 Lang 43 P W 24 21 20 18 20 19 17 16 19 16 Forest Green D 5 11 11 13 6 8 13 15 4 12 L 9 8 9 9 13 12 9 8 16 12 F 65 82 73 61 52 48 56 56 60 57 A 40 42 54 42 44 32 42 41 59 49 P GD Pts 25 77 40 74 19 71 19 67 8 66 16 65 14 64 15 63 1 61 8 60 Colchester...........40 Newport County . 39 Cambridge...........40 Crawley...............40 Cheltenham.........40 Stevenage...........39 Crewe..................40 Yeovil..................37 Morecambe.........39 Port Vale.............40 Forest Green.......39 Grimsby...............40 Chesterfield........38 Barnet.................40 15 13 14 15 12 11 13 11 9 10 11 9 9 8 13 15 12 8 12 12 4 9 15 12 7 11 7 9 12 11 14 17 16 16 23 17 15 18 21 20 22 23 49 49 42 50 58 50 50 47 38 43 47 32 41 36 44 50 52 57 58 56 65 57 48 55 67 61 68 59 over it,” Wane said, “in about a year. We did some good stuff, just not enough of it.” Elsewhere, Hull beat Hull Kingston Rovers 30-22 and Leeds Rhinos were held 22-22 by Huddersfield Giants. Josh Charnley scored two tries on his league return from Sale Sharks in helping Warrington Wolves to defeat Widnes Vikings 32-18, and Catalans Dragons lost 32-16 away at Salford Red Devils. Scorers: St Helens: Tries: Barba, Taia, Grace. Goals: Richardson 4. Dropped goal: Richardson. Wigan Warriors: Tries: Tomkins 2, Isa. Goals: Escaré 2, Williams. St Helens: B Barba; T Makinson, R Morgan, M Percival, R Grace; J Lomax, D Richardson; K Amor, J Roby, L Thompson, D Peyroux, Z Taia, J Wilkin. Interchange: T Fages, L McCarthy-Scarsbrook, L Douglas, M Knowles. Wigan Warriors: M Escaré; T Davies, J Bateman, O Gildart, J Burgess; G Williams, S Powell; T Clubb, T Leuluai, B Flower, W Isa, L Farrell, S O’Loughlin. Interchange: J Tomkins, R Sutton, T Tautai, J Woods. Referee: R Hicks. St Helens Wigan Warrington Castleford Leeds Hull FC Wakefield Widnes Salford Huddersfield Hull KR Catalans Dragons 5 -1 -10 -7 0 -6 -15 -10 -10 -12 -20 -29 -27 -23 58 54 54 53 48 45 43 42 42 42 40 38 34 33 Vanarama National: AFC Fylde 2 Halifax 0; Boreham Wood 0 Barrow 0; Bromley 1 Wrexham 1; Chester 0 Torquay 2; Dover v Tranmere (postp); Eastleigh v Ebbsfleet (postp); Gateshead 0 Dag and Redbridge 0; Guiseley 1 Leyton Orient 3; Maidenhead v Sutton Utd (abandoned h-t with score 2-3); Maidstone 1 Hartlepool 2; Solihull Moors 0 Aldershot 0; Woking 2 Macclesfield 3. North: Alfreton 1 Nuneaton 1; Boston 3 Kidderminster 2; Brackley 0 Harrogate 0; Bradford PA 2 Stockport Co 3; Gainsborough 4 Spennymoor 1; Salford City 2 Curzon Ashton 1; Tamworth L North Ferriby L. South: Bognor Regis v Chelmsford (postp); Braintree v Oxford City (abandoned after 30mins: 0-0); Concord Rangers v Hungerford (postp); Dartford 1 P W 8 7 7 5 9 5 6 5 7 4 8 4 7 4 8 3 8 3 8 2 8 2 8 1 D 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 L 1 2 4 1 2 4 3 5 5 5 6 7 F 228 202 168 105 136 183 128 159 142 114 134 92 A 96 103 149 114 129 158 111 157 170 216 172 216 Pts 14 10 10 10 9 8 8 6 6 5 4 2 Hampton & Richmond 0; Havant & W 2 Westons-Mare 0; Poole v Whitehawk (postp); Truro 3 Hemel Hempstead 3; Welling v Bath (postp). Cricket Fourth Test South Africa v Australia Johannesburg (first day of five): South Africa have scored 313 runs for six wickets South Africa: First Innings D Elgar c Sayers b Lyon 19 A K Markram c M R Marsh b Cummins 152 H M Amla c Handscomb b Cummins 27 A B de Villiers c Paine b Sayers 69 *F du Plessis lbw b Cummins 0 T Bavuma not out 25 K S Rabada c Renshaw b Sayers 0 †Q de Kock not out 7 Extras (b 8, lb 6) 14 Total (6 wkts, 88 overs) 313 V D Philander, K A Maharaj and M Morkel to bat. Fall of wickets: 1-53, 2-142, 3-247, 4-247, 5-299, 6-299. Bowling: Hazlewood 18-3-60-0; Sayers 26-664-2; Cummins 19-3-53-3; Lyon 21-1-95-1; Marsh 3-0-23-0; Renshaw 1-0-4-0. Australia: M T Renshaw, J A Burns, U T Khawaja, P S P Handscomb, S E Marsh, M R Marsh, *†T D Paine, P J Cummins, N M Lyon, C J Sayers, J R Hazlewood. 20 2G S Saturday March 31 2018 | the times Sport ‘I was world No 1 but I hated Nick Matthew explains to Rick Broadbent how he emerged from a dark place to focus on a fourth Commonwealth Games Nick Matthew’s mother makes the best Yorkshire puddings so he knew something was seriously wrong. Earlier that day he had reversed his car over an ice machine used to treat his chronic ankle. He says it provoked the meltdown. He took his wife and daughter to his parents for Sunday lunch, but excused himself and went for a walk alone. He was gone for two hours. “Everybody was worried and there was I, sitting on a park bench,” Matthew says. “I was on the verge of what you read about, athletes getting into depression. I was on the bottom rung but it’s a chicken and egg cycle of self-pity and guilt and I could understand how people got to the second and third rungs.” The squash player from Sheffield is probably the most self-aware sportsperson you could meet and, with the help of a psychologist, the husband of fellow British squash player Laura Massaro, he dragged himself back. Having long been a happier benchmark, three World Open crowns, three British ones, three Commonwealth Games gold medals, his openness about darker days is jolting. Now, as he heads to the Gold Coast and then retirement in June, he explains how hard it can be to juggle sporting machismo with thoughts of “what next?” Around 18 months after soulsearching in the park, he recently met his friend, Jessica Ennis-Hill. Matthew, 37, was struggling again as he prepared for his fourth Commonwealth tilt. “She is one of my wife’s closest friends but we don’t really speak about sport. I was feeling flat and had the worst week of training I’d had all year. She said it was probably my body’s radar protecting me. Before the last two Commonwealth Games I’d had food poisoning and surgery, so she said it was my body telling me to calm down and not to get too excited too soon. It took a couple of words from Jess for me to realise my subconscious had the handbrake on.” Back in 2016 there was no quick fix and Matthew admits he was lost. Surgeons told him his ankle needed surgery but that would mean nine months out and the end of his career. His back-up team turned away, “not through maliciousness”, but because he was a gloomy, ageing sportsman and they needed to serve their futures. “My wife always says if I have an issue in my head I verbalise it,” Matthew says. “She’ll say I don’t need her help because I’ve already said it out loud. For the first time in my life I went inside. I was scared to see a psychologist because this time it was like admitting a weakness. For six months my wife did not know what mood I would be in. I’d think I was the happiest person in the world but then crash because it was forced and I could not sustain it. Finally, I got the balance right and now I’m not scared by it.” The future will evolve around his academy, coaching, media work and his family. It will be an easier life. Squash is a brutal sport and Matthew Matthew has found peace with his sport as he prepares to leave it behind ttalks of his desire to be able to rrun around after his daughter, Charlotte. Yet he also says C sshoulder surgery a decade ago was the making of him. w That lay-off was when he first ggot interested in psychology. “I tthought how can I get better at squash without playing squash s and a that opened up this whole world. I was in the top 10 and w could beat anybody, but the c psychologist wanted to know p why w I was hitting a glass ceiling. He H asked me what my strengths were. I said I was one of the w fittest players and a good fi volleyer. ‘But are you the best?’ v he replied. I could think of a r couple of people better and he said, ‘How are you going to be the best in the world without being best in one of those areas?’ I started working on my strengths rather than weaknesses and turned them into super-strengths. Within a year I was No 1.” Between the ages of 14 and 20 he says he was constantly threatening never to play again. Even in 2013, playing in front of a packed house at Canary Wharf, his favourite tournament, his introspection unearthed doubts. “I was playing a lot that year because I was getting married and needed the money and I looked around thinking, ‘I’m in my prime, I’m the world No 1 and I want to be anywhere but this court. I hate this.’ ” Nicknamed “The Wolf” and famed for his fitness, he is at peace with his sport as he prepares to leave it. “I’m proud of my longevity but I feel I want to sign off with something big,” he says. “I feel I have something big in my locker.” He hopes to make it to the Dubai Series in June for the top eight players, but the Commonwealth Games is what matters. And what better way to sign off than with the last instalment of a rivalry that should have been British box office. James Willstrop is an intriguing figure himself, a vegetarian who likes Morrissey and Larkin but not Matthew, whom he has dubbed “pretentious” and “vicious”. The dislike stems from the 2009 British Open when Matthew, having been blocked by Willstrop, asked loudly if his dad had taught him that move. Malcolm Willstrop, his son’s the times | Saturday March 31 2018 21 2G S Sport being on court’ Champions vying for title to help My sporting body kick-start season by Nick Matthew Picture exclusive: Marc Aspland On a good day I still feel as strong as ever. The difference is I am more of a diesel engine compared with when I was at my peak and could get to top speed faster. Now, pushing 38, I feel I can go for longer and maintain better quality but it’s harder to get to those top speeds. You need to be tough to survive in squash. I have had a couple of knee operations, shoulder surgery and every time I play I strap my ankle. If I were going to carry on after this season I would need an operation on that. One of the worst and best times was 2009 when I won the British Open. In the second round I’d had a back spasm. These can be so bad that I cannot tie my shoelaces. The next day my whole body was twisted and when I tried to stand up, one nipple was three inches below the other. I had a bulging disc in my spine but had eight hours of physiotherapy and still won. I am not like Roger Federer. I wish I had an ounce of his ability to make it look as easy as he does. We all know how difficult it is the older you get, factoring in family and schedules, all the wear and tear you have suffered. I feel good being in the top eight, but Federer is still at the top. He makes it look the opposite of what it is. I make my sport look every bit as hard as it is. I’m more Novak Djokovic, grinding wins and picking up injuries; Federer is way too classy for me. Mind you, he is a year younger so maybe those 12 months will catch up with him! Squash hips are a real problem. It’s a term you hear a lot. All that coach, later wrote a report for the Squash Player website, prompting Matthew to label him “the most opinionated man in sport”. “I stepped so far over the line that day that you couldn’t even see it,” Matthew says. “I was talking under my breath, calling him this, that and the other, but people have done ten times worse — spitting, whacking opponents on the shins when the ref is not watching. We have come from an era when the Aussies’ rivalry with Pakistanis was really dirty. Now everyone is best mates.” Well, not everyone. The British National final between the old warhorses in February was another feisty throwback, with Matthew incredulous that some blamed him. “He was 2-0 down and, like a true champion, decided to get in my face and get physical. No problem, but I was good as gold and he was telling me to F-off. I’d never seen that side of him. It was funny because it was the same court as 2009, but back then I was like a lower league club in the cup; I could not beat him playing silky stuff, but I could rattle him by being physical. Now he was being physical and the tables had turned.” You sense a seam of respect and grudging affection in all this chequered history. “I hope people remember our rivalry rather than the argy-bargy.” It certainly makes you consider just how good squash could be for the Olympics. The pair’s five-game final at the last Commonwealth Games was “caveman squash”, according to Matthew. Had the sport made the Ostapenko could become world No 4 if she wins said. “I just needed some time to get myself together and get myself in a good place and make sure that I was ready to play. “Like I said at the end of last season, I had to play. My heart was there but my body physically was not. And I think that was the most important thing, getting myself back in the best shape that I could be in. “Going into this season, I knew that I didn’t have the greatest off-season. So, for me, the two matches that I lost the first part of the year in Australia, [it was] not a big deal. If you’re not 100 per cent, you can’t expect much. I think now I took the time to get myself together, I guess there’s been some good results.” There is a curious Stephens-related statistic that even baffles her. Since the start of last July, she has won 23 of the 28 matches she has played in North America. In her nine matches across the rest of the world, she has walked off the court as the loser on all nine occasions. “I saw that the other day,” Stephens said. “I was, like, ‘Oh my god, that’s embarrassing.’ ” Ostapenko did not suffer an immediate slump after winning at Roland Garros, but her results in 2018 had caused much frustration. Finally, though, she is again trusting her powerful ground strokes and could rise to No 4 in the world if she wins today. “I think I’m calmer and also mentally I’m stronger now,” she said. “I am just more consistent, more confident and just going for shots sometimes and not afraid to miss it.” This will be the last women’s singles final at Crandon Park, as the tournament moves to Hard Rock Stadium next year. It is particularly poignant for Stephens, who was raised in nearby Plantation, around an hour north of here. “To play in front of my friends and family again here for the last time, it feels kind of cool that I’ll be able to close it out in style for them,” she said. Poulter boosts hopes for Masters with birdie run Controversial All Blacks prop Murdoch dies at 74 Golf Ian Poulter, whose only hope of qualifying for a place in next week’s Masters field is to win the Houston Open this weekend, put himself in contention with a superb second round in Texas yesterday. Starting at the 10th, Poulter, whose first-round 73 had left him nine shots behind Paul Dunne, the overnight leader from Ireland, picked up shots at the 12th, 13th, 15th and 17th holes on his outward nine and added four more after the turn to be seven under par overall after a 64, the joint lowest round of the week, and within four shots of the clubhouse lead. Justin Rose was also seven under Poulter thought he had done enough to qualify for Augusta last weekend, when he reached the quarter-finals of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, only to discover that that was only good enough to reach No 51 in the world rankings — only the top 50 earn an automatic place in the Masters. Rugby union Keith Murdoch, the Tennis lunging. I’m fortunate that I was taught from a young age to work on my flexibility. You adapt your training too. When I was younger I would do six days a week with maybe three sessions a day. Each session would last 90 minutes plus a warm-up. Now it’s down to a five-day week. I used to do lots of shuttle runs on the track in my pomp but I don’t run now. All my cardiovascular training is done off my feet: rowing, biking, swimming. There are four key areas — mental, physical, technical and tactical. It’s the off-court things that get harder and you have to put a finish line in sight to motivate you. When you’re younger you are always setting goals and you wake up every day striving towards them. That gives you a purpose. In psychology they talk about inspiration versus motivation. Inspiration lasts longer, but if you’re having to self-motivate every day it’s like sipping from a bottle that eventually becomes empty. Inspiration is bottomless. Would I beat myself from five years ago? In some areas I have improved — experience, technique, tactics — but in an out-and-out physical test against my 2013 self I would not be as good. Yet I know my body better now and know what I can’t do. Recovery takes longer. I was feeling shattered before my favourite event, the Canary Wharf Classic, a few weeks ago. I had a niggle and a cold. The younger me would have shrugged it off, but cumulatively I felt wiped out. I had to withdraw, but now I’m going to my fourth Commonwealth Games feeling great. 2012 Olympics, British jingoism would have been unleashed on the world No 1 and 2. The duo might have been faces of the Games rather than relatively anonymous. Squash remains an Olympic blindspot. Matthew has argued the case in front of IOC suits, but says: “Without us getting down on our knees and begging, what can we do? You realise it’s all about politics and networking and all that behind-thescenes stuff. Olympic ideals look good on paper but they don’t matter.” The Commonwealth Games, then, is the big deal for Matthew and squash, their turn in the spotlight. Forget Friendly Games fluff, the fear and loathing in glass cages will be one of the highlights. That is the naked truth. Stuart Fraser Tennis Writer, Miami Two defending grand-slam champions will contest the final of the Miami Open today, yet you would be forgiven if it had slipped your mind that Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko hold that status. Since claiming one of the sport’s ultimate prizes, both players have not exactly set the world on fire. Stephens, the 25-year-old from the United States, lost eight consecutive matches after winning the US Open in September. Ostapenko, the 20-year-old Latvian who won the French Open nine months ago, had won just four of the 11 matches she played this year before arriving in Key Biscayne. The WTA will be quietly pleased that Stephens and Ostapenko have returned to form to reach their first Premier Mandatory final (the tournament status immediately below the grandslams). The women’s tour has benefited this year from featuring more enthralling matches than the men, but it needs players like the aforementioned duo to become marketable star attractions by achieving regular success. It is timely, then, that Stephens’ results this week — she has defeated Garbiñe Muguruza, Angelique Kerber and Victoria Azarenka en route to the final — have guaranteed that she will be a top-ten player for the first time in Monday’s rankings. This has come later than expected after her dismal run at the end of last year, during which she won just two sets across six matches. It must be acknowledged, though, that Stephens’ New York triumph came in only her fifth tournament back from a broken left foot. Her match fitness for the week-to-week grind of the tour has taken longer to return. “No switch has clicked,” Stephens former All Blacks prop who was sent home in disgrace from New Zealand’s tour to Britain in 1972 for punching a security guard, has died at the age of 74. “New Zealand Rugby mourns the loss of former All Black Keith Murdoch,” NZR said on their Twitter page. Murdoch, who played 27 matches for the All Blacks, including three Tests, scored a try in his final match, a 19-16 victory over Wales in Cardiff. He was celebrating when he was refused entry to the Angel Hotel in central Cardiff and knocked the security guard down. Two days later the team manager, Ernie Todd, sent him home. Murdoch, however, did not return to New Zealand as scheduled, having got off the plane en route, and disappeared into obscurity in rural Australia. “No All Black has been more controversial, more enigmatic and more tragic,” the team’s official website says in its profile of Murdoch. 22 Saturday March 31 2018 | the times 1G S Sport Racing 3.50 Haydock Park Rob Wright 2.05 Crievehill 4.25 Hatchet Jack 2.40 William Of Orange 5.00 Timeforwest 3.15 Shanroe In Milan 5.35 Muckle Roe 3.50 Potters Midnight Thunderer: 2.05 Crievehill. 2.40 Wolfcatcher (nap). Going: good to soft, soft in places Racing UK 2.05 Smarkets Challenger Middle ITV4 Distance Series Final Handicap Chase (£30,950: 2m 3f 203y) (8 runners) S Twiston-Davies v143 1 132421 CRIEVEHILL 21 (D,S) N Twiston-Davies 6-11-12 137 D Jacob 2 3-0512 CREEP DESBOIS 44 (D,G,S) B Pauling 6-11-5 137 H Cobden 3 164454 ORBASA 14 (B,D,G,S) P Nicholls 7-11-2 142 4 P4U514 TWENTY EIGHT GUNS 15 (T,P,D,S) M Scudamore 8-10-12 T Scudamore 134 G Sheehan 5 -32PP2 ALOOMOMO 21 (B,D,BF,S) W Greatrex 8-10-9 141 N Scholfield 6 -04114 NATIVE ROBIN 42 (D,G,S) J Scott 8-10-5 142 J J Burke 7 1-2253 MASTERPLAN 21 (P,D,F,G,S) C Longsdon 8-10-4 140 T O'Brien 8 1P-645 AMBER GAMBLER 64 (D,G,S) I Williams 8-10-0 15-8 Crievehill, 9-2 Creep Desbois, 11-2 Orbasa, 7-1 Aloomomo, 8-1 Masterplan, Twenty Eight Guns, 12-1 Amber Gambler, Native Robin. Rob Wright’s choice: Crievehill powered clear up the hill at Sandown Park last time and can follow up Dangers: Masterplan, Creep Desbois 2.40 Smarkets Challenger Two Mile Series Final Handicap Hurdle ITV4 (£30,950: 1m 7f 144y) (11) 138 W Kennedy 1 341530 CHTI BALKO 21 (CD,S) D McCain 6-11-12 132 D Cook 2 621511 JOKE DANCER 35 (CD,S) Mrs S Smith 5-11-3 135 H Skelton 3 550223 APPLESANDPIERRES 14 (P,D,F,G,S) D Skelton 10-11-2 134 N Fehily 4 23-140 SUPER SID 35 (D,S) T George 6-10-12 133 S W Quinlan 5 532635 SLEEPY HAVEN 51 (B,CD,S) J Candlish 8-10-11 136 T O'Brien 6 -65303 WOLFCATCHER 35 (T,P,S) I Williams 6-10-8 115 N Scholfield 7 -00004 ZULU OSCAR 89 (D,F,G,S) J Scott 9-10-7 138 8 P51253 WILLIAM OF ORANGE 28 (W,T,B,D,S) D McCain 7-10-6 L Murtagh (5) 135 A Johns 9 3-2514 SPECTATOR 49 (T,V,D,F,S) T Vaughan 7-10-2 J McGrath v140 10 3-6400 PERCY STREET 73 (B,D,BF,G) N Henderson 5-10-1 -12224 132 HOLRYALE 126 (T,D,S) D Skelton 6-10-1 Bridget Andrews (3) 11 7-2 Joke Dancer, 6-1 Percy Street, 7-1 Holryale, Wolfcatcher, 8-1 Applesandpierres, Chti Balko, William Of Orange, 10-1 Super Sid, 12-1 Spectator, 16-1 Sleepy Haven, Zulu Oscar. Wright choice: William Of Orange has had an operation to help with his breathing and is well-in on his best form Dangers: Wolfcatcher, Joke Dancer 3.15 Smarkets Challenger Staying Series Final Handicap Chase ITV4 (£30,950: 3m 1f 125y) (11) 143 D Cook 1 -33135 DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR 56 (D,S) Mrs S Smith 8-11-12 140 2 -1P414 WICKED WILLY 56 (G,S) N Twiston-Davies 7-11-1 S Twiston-Davies A Coleman v146 3 40P64F POTTERS LEGEND 15 (P,BF,G,S) Mrs L Wadham 8-11-0 129 A P Heskin 4 016-6U MOSS ON THE MILL 81 (P,D,G,S) T George 10-10-13 143 B J Geraghty 5 534231 BEHIND TIME 14 (P,S) H Fry 7-10-11 144 G Sheehan 6 525422 PRIVATE MALONE 8 (V,S) Miss E Lavelle 9-10-10 145 W Kennedy 7 231032 WHAT HAPPENS NOW 15 (D,F,G,S) D McCain 9-10-9 143 J J Burke 8 -00464 KILLALA QUAY 38 (B,G,S) C Longsdon 11-10-9 145 Paul O'Brien (5) 9 2-3U51 SHANROE IN MILAN 64 (S) C Longsdon 6-10-8 -34152 142 HORATIO HORNBLOWER 21 (P,G,S) N Williams 10-10-5 H Cobden 10 142 D Noonan 11 005451 ABRACADABRA SIVOLA 14 (T,P,C,G,S) D Pipe 8-10-1 5-1 Behind Time, 6-1 Potters Legend, 13-2 Shanroe In Milan, 7-1 Delusionofgrandeur, Wicked Willy, 8-1 Horatio Hornblower, Private Malone, 9-1 Abracadabra Sivola, What Happens Now, 16-1 others. Wright choice: Shanroe In Milan improved for a step up to three miles at Doncaster and is up just 7lb Dangers: What Happens Now, Killala Quay 4.00 Carlisle Rob Wright 1.40 Donna’s Delight 2.15 Ballycrystal 2.50 Pixiepot 3.25 Indian Voyage Going: good to soft 1.40 4.00 Luckime 4.35 Finaghy Ayr 5.10 Ruby Tiger Racing UK Novices’ Hurdle (£4,549: 2m 3f 61y) (9) B Hughes 1 -1423 DONNA'S DELIGHT 60 (CD) A Thomson 7-11-7 R Chapman (3) 2 000-1 BOOK OF LOVE 21P M Todhunter 9-11-0 J Bowen (3) 3 -2443 GOING GOLD 14 R Hobson 6-11-0 6-P GOLIATH 8 (P) K Dalgleish 6-11-0 R Hogg (7) 4 P0 HOOLIGAN JACK 99 I Jardine 5-11-0 J Hamilton 5 R Day (3) 6 421-5 LOVELY SCHTUFF 121 J Stephen 6-11-0 0 YOUNOYOUNOYOUNO 88 I Jardine 5-11-0 C O'Farrell 7 0 ELLA'S DENE 95 T Reed 7-10-7 T Dowson (3) 8 G Cockburn (3) 9 2-435 KOALA KEEL 34P (T) N Alexander 6-10-7 5-4 Donna's Delight, Going Gold, 10-1 Lovely Schtuff, 14-1 Koala Keel, 20-1 Book Of Love, 25-1 Younoyounoyouno, 33-1 others. 2.15 Novices’ Chase (£7,473: 2m 4f) (8) -2212 ALZAMMAAR 56 S England 7-11-4 D England F4215 BOLLIN ACE 10 (P,D) T Easterby 7-11-4 J Hamilton 1-51U ALWAYS TIPSY 49P (D,BF) N Alexander 9-10-12 G Cockburn (3) N De Boinville 4 4-232 BALLYCRYSTAL 28 (BF) B Ellison 7-10-12 A Clarke (7) 5 40066 BEAU SANCY 11 (T) K Johnson 6-10-12 6 14-53 SECRETE STREAM 122 (B,D) R Jefferson 9-10-12 B Hughes 7 05122 ELUSIVE THEATRE 21 S Crawford (Ire) 7-10-11 J J Slevin (3) C Bewley (3) 8 223P EXPRESSTIME 18 C Grant 5-10-5 9-4 Ballycrystal, 3-1 Secrete Stream, 11-2 Bollin Ace, Elusive Theatre, 6-1 Alzammaar, 11-1 Always Tipsy, 20-1 Beau Sancy, 33-1 Expresstime. 1 2 3 2.50 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (£4,549: 2m 1f) (11) 1 415P5 OUR VALENTINA 21 (C) S Crawford (Ire) 7-12-2J J Slevin (3) 2 26043 CRAWFORDS MILL 21 S Crawford (Ire) 6-11-12 J Bowen (3) R Chapman (3) 3 50-PP EARTH LADY 89 M Todhunter 6-11-11 4 53533 DANCING AMY 21 (T) Miss L Russell 5-11-9 C Bewley (3) R Day (3) 5 1-234 COCKLEY BECK 59 (D,BF) N Richards 6-11-9 6 03142 PRINCESS MONONOKE 16 (D) D McCain 7-11-7 Miss A McCain (7) B Hughes 7 -0232 PIXIEPOT 20 (D) P Niven 8-11-4 T Phelan 8 00-00 NANACAULSITESKER 47F A Berry 6-10-12 C O'Farrell 9 -P666 ANGEL'S ENVY 103 I Jardine 6-10-11 10 -6P00 AVONDHU PEARL 103 W S Coltherd 7-10-9 S Coltherd (5) J Hamilton 11 1/P03 PLAY PRACTICE 16 James Walton 8-10-3 7-2 Pixiepot, 5-1 Cockley Beck, Princess Mononoke, 6-1 Crawfords Mill, 8-1 Dancing Amy, 10-1 Angel's Envy, Our Valentina, Play Practice, 14-1 others. 3.25 Handicap Chase (£8,447: 2m 4f) (9) R Day (3) 1 -2233 CHIDSWELL 21 (D,BF) N Richards 9-11-12 B Hughes 2 141P5 THE CLOCK LEARY 154 (D) D McCain 10-11-12 3 F-555 CALIPTO 36 (D,BF) Miss V Williams 8-11-11 Mr H Nugent (7) N Moscrop (5) 4 U2443 PISTOL PARK 6 (T) B Ellison 7-11-11 5 64125 UN GUET APENS 40 (B,CD) J Ewart 10-11-8 Steven Fox (5) 6 41P44 WOLF SWORD 35 (CD) Mrs S Smith 9-11-5 S Coltherd (5) 7 01434 VERONA OPERA 21 (C,D) S Crawford (Ire) 7-10-13 J J Slevin (3) 8 P2-21 BRIGHT PROSPECT 76 (D) J Stephen 9-10-11R Chapman (3) D Irving (3) 9 P14P5 INDIAN VOYAGE 6 (T,CD) M Barnes 10-10-5 4-1 Verona Opera, 9-2 Chidswell, Wolf Sword, 6-1 Bright Prospect, Pistol Park, 7-1 Un Guet Apens, 10-1 Calipto, 14-1 The Clock Leary, 20-1 Indian Voyage. Smarkets Challenger Mares’ Series Final Handicap Hurdle (£30,950: 2m 2f 191y) (14) 120 A Thorne (7) 1 -55462 COILLTE LASS 14 (P,G,S) P Nicholls 7-11-12 127 Paul O'Brien (5) 2 531210 CASTAFIORE 21 (H,P,G,S) C Longsdon 5-11-8 124 H Skelton 3 2-0F40 WHATDUHAVTOGET 95 (S) D Skelton 6-11-6 130 N Fehily 4 0-1FP2 LAMANVER ODYSSEY 36 (T,D,S) H Fry 6-11-5 126 W Hutchinson 5 30-316 AWESOME ROSIE 35 (D,G,S) A King 7-11-2 126 J Quinlan 6 /43131 POTTERS MIDNIGHT 15 (G,S) Mrs L Wadham 8-11-0 127 K K Woods 7 25-302 ALL MY LOVE 15 (S) Mrs P Sly 6-11-0 126 Mr B Lynn (7) 8 030111 THE DELRAY MUNKY 33 (P,D,S) I Jardine 6-10-11 129 D Jacob 9 -61464 MONAR ROSE 36 (H,T,F) B Case 6-10-11 128 T Cannon 10 4-2223 PEGGIES VENTURE 26 A King 7-10-9 124 11 111-00 WHATSTHATALLABOUT 36 (T,D,G) N Mulholland 7-10-9 T Scudamore 25-212 128 BABY TICKER 48 (S) D Whillans 9-10-6 C Whillans (3) 12 T O'Brien v131 13 -30340 MIDTECH VALENTINE 81 (D,G,S) I Williams 7-10-2 123 J Corbett (5) 14 321354 REIVERS LODGE 98 (H,T,G) S Corbett 6-10-0 5-1 Lamanver Odyssey, 7-1 Potters Midnight, The Delray Munky, 8-1 Castafiore, 9-1 All My Love, Baby Ticker, 10-1 Awesome Rosie, Peggies Venture, 12-1 Whatduhavtoget, 14-1 others. 4.25 Smarkets Challenger Stayers Series Final Handicap Hurdle Smarkets Challenger Series Mares' Final Handicap Chase (£30,950: 2m 6f 54y) (12) 132 G Sheehan 1 241153 THE NIPPER 50 (C,G,S) W Greatrex 7-11-12 135 S Bowen 2 022212 RONS DREAM 7 (BF,S) P Bowen 8-11-10 133 3 02F321 TWO SMOKIN BARRELS 23 (S) M Scudamore 9-11-8 T Scudamore 128 T O'Brien 4 0-31P1 TARA MIST 44 (D,G,S) H Daly 9-11-7 135 A P Heskin 5 3-2232 SONG SAA 81 (T,D,S) T George 8-11-4 A Coleman v137 6 65B061 TIMEFORWEST 20 (G,S) Jonjo O'Neill 6-11-2 135 P Brennan 7 31-134 SOCKSY 36 (T,BF,S) F O'Brien 7-11-1 120 A Wedge 8 1100P6 STILL BELIEVING 36 (D,F,G,S) E Williams 10-11-0 132 H Bannister 9 13-13F MAID OF MILAN 130 (P,BF,G) C Mann 7-10-12 133 D Cook 10 13-2O2 MILLY BALOO 20 (S) T Easterby 7-10-6 2P4324 134 MARIENSTAR 21 (T,S) N King 7-10-5 H Teal (7) 11 133 12 P5P121 SHENEEDEDTHERUN 36 (T,G,S) M Scudamore 8-10-3 J Kington (3) 5-1 Song Saa, 13-2 Rons Dream, 7-1 Socksy, 15-2 Timeforwest, Two Smokin Barrels, 8-1 Tara Mist, 9-1 Sheneededtherun, 11-1 Maid Of Milan, The Nipper, 12-1 Milly Baloo, 14-1 others. 5.35 Smarkets Tim Molony Handicap Chase (£12,512: 3m 4f 97y) (10) 1 2 3 -60343 CLOUDY TOO 21 (C,G,S) Mrs S Smith 12-11-12 D Cook 23-162 MUCKLE ROE 20 (S) N Twiston-Davies 9-11-8 S Twiston-Davies 4-6025 BLAMEITALONMYROOTS 36 (S) O Sherwood 8-11-7 H Beswick (7) Handicap Hurdle (£7,798: 3m 1f) (8) R Dunne 1 50531 LUCKIME 47 (D) Miss V Williams 6-11-12 B Hughes 2 -3325 VOLCANIC 20 (T,C) D McCain 9-11-11 R Chapman (3) 3 36111 LETEMGO 40 (CD) A Hamilton 10-11-9 T Dowson (3) 4 14314 SKIPTHESCALES 33 (P,D) P Kirby 6-11-5 5 21020 NATIVE OPTIMIST 65 (D) S Walton 11-11-5 F O'Toole (3) 6 F-FPP ROYAL SALUTE 57 (T,B,W,D) G Bewley 8-11-4 J Bewley (3) 7 05243 GENERAL MAHLER 55 (T,W) B Ellison 8-11-2 N Moscrop (5) 22 GERONIMO 21 A Thomson 7-10-13 Mr A Chadwick (7) 8 3-1 General Mahler, 7-2 Letemgo, 5-1 Luckime, 6-1 Skipthescales, Volcanic, 10-1 Geronimo, 12-1 Native Optimist, 14-1 Royal Salute. 4.35 Handicap Chase (£6,498: 3m 2f) (11) 63211 SMUGGLER'S STASH 22 (V,CD) Mrs R Dobbin 8-12-3 R Day (3) B Hughes 2 51222 FINAGHY AYR 16 (P,C) I Duncan 10-11-12 3 31344 LOWANBEHOLD 33 Miss S Forster 11-11-11 T Willmott (7) J Bewley (3) 4 P-0P5 ONDERUN 33 (P) G Bewley 9-11-9 B Campbell (5) 5 42134 MISFITS 15 (T) Miss L Russell 7-11-9 S Coltherd (5) 6 U21P5 DICK DARSIE 22 Mrs S Smith 8-11-7 7 50256 ACHILL ROAD BOY 16 (BF) W S Coltherd 9-11-1 C O'Farrell 8 -PUP6 PURPLE HARRY 39 Miss T Jackson 10-10-11 R Chapman (3) T Dowson (3) 9 U3546 SCORPO 8 V Thompson 7-10-11 S Mulqueen (3) 10 4-03P KALASTAR 133 Katie Scott 9-10-0 -40P0 THEDFACTOR 15 (P) Mrs J Walton 9-10-0 D Irving (3) 11 9-4 Smuggler's Stash, 3-1 Finaghy Ayr, 6-1 Misfits, 8-1 others. 1 5.10 Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race (£2,599: 2m 1f) (11) P BELLE OF YORK 122 (W) M Todhunter 5-11-0 R Chapman (3) 1 35 BLUE BATON 45 Miss L Russell 5-11-0 B Campbell (5) 2 220 DERRIANA SPIRIT 73 N Richards 5-11-0 R Day (3) 3 64 DONNAS DREAM 24 C Grant 5-11-0 C Bewley (3) 4 06 FIG'S PRIDE 65 (H) N Alexander 5-11-0 G Cockburn (3) 5 0-53 LADY SAMBACK 258 (T) M Barnes 6-11-0 D Irving (3) 6 3 LILY'S GEM 95 S Crawford (Ire) 5-11-0 B Hughes 7 SAILING AWAY S Walton 5-11-0 F O'Toole (3) 8 0 SUENO TOMS 54 N Alexander 5-11-0 S Mulqueen (3) 9 ROSEY Mrs R Dobbin 4-10-7 C O'Farrell 10 RUBY TIGER H Daly 4-10-7 A Tinkler 11 11-8 Derriana Spirit, 5-1 Blue Baton, 6-1 Lily's Gem, 7-1 others. Kempton Park Rob Wright 2.00 Tigre Tu Terre 4.20 Kyllachy Gala (nap) 2.35 Fabricate 4.55 Sparkalot 3.10 Qaysar 5.30 Afandem 3.45 Warm Oasis Going: standard Racing UK Draw: 5f-1m, low numbers best 2.00 Novice Stakes (3-Y-O: £5,175: 1m 1f 219y) (10) R Havlin 1 (2) 61- CROSSED BATON 197 J Gosden 9-9 T Marquand 2 (1) 1432- TIGRE DU TERRE 197 (BF) R Hannon 9-6 2 CASPAR THE CUB 39 A King 9-2 W A Carson 3 (4) CHILDE HAROLD Mrs H Main 9-2 C Shepherd 4 (8) DEFINITION C Hills 9-2 L Morris 5 (3) S Donohoe 6 (5) 52- ESCALATOR 151 C Fellowes 9-2 05 KARAKORAM 33 W Muir 9-2 M Dwyer 7 (10) KING OF BURGUNDY J Portman 9-2 R Hornby 8 (9) 0 LUMEN 17 R Charlton 9-2 K Shoemark 9 (6) STAR OF SOUTHWOLD (W) R Hannon 9-2 G Mahon (5) 10 (7) 4-5 Tigre Du Terre, 5-2 Crossed Baton, 10-1 Caspar The Cub, 12-1 others. 2.35 Musselburgh 131 v134 128 toteplacepot Handicap 96 MASHAM STAR 21 (D,F,G) M Johnston 4-9-7 P J McDonald 67 HAYADH 7 (D,F,S) R Bastiman 5-9-7 D Tudhope 100 SET IN STONE 181 (C,BF,S) A McGuinness (Ire) 4-9-4 R Scott (3) 101 LUALIWA 38 (D,F,S) K A Ryan 4-9-4 Kevin Stott 98 OWER FLY 182 (D,F,S) Mrs R Carr 5-9-3 P Mulrennan SHARP DEFENCE 28 (B,D,F,S) A McGuinness (Ire) 4-9-2 93 Josephine Gordon 98 Doubtful 7 (11) /3530- LEFORTOVO 260 (G,S) J Hughes 5-8-13 92 8 (6) 521-45 TWIN APPEAL 52 (B,CD,BF,F,S) T D Barron 7-8-11 B Robinson (5) 100 N Evans 9 (7) 03314- IMPERIAL STATE 245 (T,W,F) M W Easterby 5-8-8 95 10 (10) 2060-5 LUIS VAZ DE TORRES 11 (H,CD,F,G) R Fahey 6-8-7 P Hanagan J Fanning v107 11 (9) 320442 EXCHEQUER 11 (P,D) Richard Guest 7-8-7 4-1 Twin Appeal, 11-2 Imperial State, Set In Stone, 6-1 Lualiwa, 7-1 Luis Vaz De Torres, Masham Star, 10-1 Hayadh, 12-1 Ower Fly, Sharp Defence, 16-1 Exchequer. Wright choice: Masham Star drops in class after a good third in listed company at Wolverhampton Dangers: Set In Stone, Twin Appeal totescoop6 Borderlescott Sprint ITV4 Trophy Conditions Stakes (£18,675: 5f 1y) (9) 3.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 (11) (5) (4) (3) (2) (6) totesport.com Royal Mile Handicap (3-Y-O: £18,675: 1m 2y) (12) 5351-4 5130410002212246-1 010-1 VENTURA KNIGHT 24 (D,F,G) M Johnston 9-7 MISS BAR BEACH 154 (S) K Dalgleish 9-6 CHOOKIE DUNEDIN 198 (G) K Dalgleish 9-3 AYUTTHAYA 182 (S) K A Ryan 8-12 BOOK OF DREAMS 19 (D,S) M Johnston 8-12 FAKE NEWS 21 (S) T D Barron 8-12 (4) (3) (5) (1) (2) toteexacta EBF Stallions Novice Stakes (2-Y-O: £4,205: 5f 1y) (5) -BENGALI SPIRIT R Fahey 9-2 P Hanagan 1 (5) -I AM A DREAMER M Johnston 9-2 P J McDonald 2 (3) -MAYSON MAC D O'Meara 9-2 D Tudhope 3 (2) -THE GREAT HEIR K A Ryan 9-2 T Eaves 4 (4) -LIPPY LADY J Moore 8-11 Josephine Gordon 5 (1) 2-1 I Am A Dreamer, 5-2 Bengali Spirit, 11-4 The Great Heir, 5-1 Mayson Mac, 14-1 Lippy Lady. 4.45 ITV4 J Fanning D Tudhope C Beasley T Eaves P J McDonald B A Curtis 78 v81 79 77 74 67 totetrifecta Handicap (£4,399: 5f 1y) (9) 5.30 A Atzeni 1 (7) 00-34 AFANDEM 18 (D) M Johnston 4-9-9 G Mahon (5) 2 (4) 034-6 REPTON 10 R Hannon 4-9-8 3 (8) 1-311 EXCELLENT GEORGE 28 (T,D) S C Williams 6-9-7 Milly Naseb (5) J P Spencer 4 (2) 04055 ASCOT DAY 7 (D) D Simcock 4-9-4 L Morris 5 (5) 3500- PATRICK 183 (D) P Midgley 6-9-4 3520BAHAMIAN SUNRISE 143 (B) J Gallagher 6-9-2 H Crouch 6 (6) 7 (3) 1/32 WEDIDDODONTWE 52 (D) Richard Guest 4-8-13 P Makin M Dwyer 8 (1) 2060- LORD COOPER (T,P,CD) J Santos 4-8-9 7-2 Excellent George, Wediddodontwe, 9-2 Afandem, Repton, 13-2 Ascot Day, 10-1 Patrick, 14-1 Bahamian Sunrise, 16-1 Lord Cooper. Novice Stakes (£6,469: 7f) (9) Handicap (£6,469: 1m 3f 219y) (8) Handicap (£31,125: 1m 2f 219y) (16) Handicap (£15,563: 6f) (6) Handicap (£6,469: 6f) (8) Chelmsford Rob Wright 5.45 Mr Potter 7.45 George Of Hearts 6.15 Communique 8.15 Image 6.45 Leoro 8.45 Fareeq 7.15 Grandfather Tom Going: standard At The Races Draw: 5f-1m, low numbers best 5.45 Handicap (£3,429: 1m) (8) Jane Elliott (5) 1 (6) -3420 HIPZ 33 (V,C) G Margarson 7-9-7 2 (4) 55303 NO APPROVAL 8 (D) D Bridgwater 5-9-7 Poppy Bridgwater (7) 3 (7) 43331 MALAYSIAN BOLEH 9 (E,B,C) Phil McEntee 8-9-3 Rossa Ryan (5) F Norton 4 (8) 03653 MR POTTER 9 (V,C) Richard Guest 5-9-0 5 (5) -0031 THE KING'S STEED 14 (T,B,D) S Lycett 5-8-13 K Shoemark 6 (3) -4166 TOUCH THE CLOUDS 21 (CD) W Stone 7-8-11 L Edmunds (3) Nicola Currie (5) 7 (1) 500/ RED SNIPER 513 R Brisland 4-8-7 K O'Neill 8 (2) 0000- FAVORITE STORY 150 C Wallis 4-8-7 5-2 Malaysian Boleh, 3-1 The King's Steed, 13-2 Hipz, 7-1 No Approval, Touch The Clouds, 9-1 Mr Potter, 11-1 Red Sniper, 14-1 Favorite Story. 6.15 Novice Stakes (3-Y-O: £5,175: 1m) (8) R Da Silva 1 (3) 300- CAPITAL FLIGHT 189 (H) P Cole 9-2 03 CAPLA JAIPUR 16 M Botti 9-2 M M Monaghan (3) 2 (5) 22COMMUNIQUE 156 M Johnston 9-2 F Norton 3 (8) 0 GUARDIOLA 42 Michael Bell 9-2 Jacob Mitchell (7) 4 (2) 42 WARBURTON 10 (BF) C Appleby 9-2 G Wood (3) 5 (1) 2- WELL SUITED 264 (H,BF) S Crisford 9-2 K Shoemark 6 (7) S W Kelly 7 (4) 06- APACHE BLAZE 101 R Brisland 8-11 L Edmunds (3) 8 (6) 04- DIABLERY 101 W Stone 8-11 6-4 Communique, 2-1 Warburton, 6-1 Capital Flight, 7-1 Well Suited, 10-1 Capla Jaipur, 25-1 Apache Blaze, 40-1 Diablery, Guardiola. 6.45 75 79 83 v87 84 84 81 68 81 totepool Happy Easter EBF Maiden Stakes (£5,175: 7f 33y) (7) 71 P Hanagan 1 (1) 2R22- CHIEF JUSTICE 168 R Fahey 3-8-13 65- FARHH AWAY 185 M Dods 3-8-13 51 P Mulrennan 2 (6) -HOP MADDOCKS T D Barron 3-8-13 B A Curtis 3 (7) 0- PARTY FEARS TOO 213 J Goldie 3-8-13 37 B McHugh 4 (2) v79 S A Gray 5 (5) 32420- QUEEN'S SARGENT 198 K A Ryan 3-8-13 -ZIG ZAG ZYGGY A McGuinness (Ire) 3-8-13 R Scott (3) 6 (3) 5 ON A MAY DAY 23 M Johnston 3-8-8 -P J McDonald 7 (4) Evens Queen's Sargent, 5-2 Chief Justice, 9-1 Hop Maddocks, 10-1 Farhh Away, 12-1 others. (Listed: £25,520: 1m 1f 219y) (5) 31-15 UDONTDODOU 71 (D,BF) Richard Guest 5-9-7J P Spencer 1560- SOLAR FLAIR 238 (CD) W Knight 6-9-7 A Atzeni -4331 TOMILY 7 (D) R Hannon 4-9-7 Hollie Doyle 00-11 REFLEKTOR 33 (D) T Dascombe 5-9-0 R Kingscote -5620 HUMAN NATURE 21 (T,C,D) S C Williams 5-8-8 Milly Naseb (5) L Morris 6 (6) 1-011 SPARKALOT 10 (CD) S Dow 4-8-8 11-4 Reflektor, 100-30 Udontdodou, 4-1 Sparkalot, 9-2 Solar Flair, 5-1 Tomily, 12-1 Human Nature. 1 2 3 4 5 4.10 Magnolia Stakes R Havlin 1 (15) 03-00 EDDYSTONE ROCK John Best 6-9-7 2 (8) -5313 KYLLACHY GALA 2 (C) M Botti 5-9-5 M M Monaghan (3) A Atzeni 3 (4) 6026- BATTERSEA 149 R Varian 7-9-5 R Kingscote 4 (12) 50051 FIRE FIGHTING 8 (C,D) M Johnston 7-9-2 D Muscutt 5 (7) 343-4 CROWNED EAGLE 88 M Botti 4-9-1 T Marquand 6 (3) 60-61 CONTRAST 42 R Hannon 4-9-1 J Egan 7 (9) 214-2 EMENEM 32 (C) S Dow 4-9-0 L Morris 8 (11) 3120- ARAB MOON 169 (CD) W Knight 4-8-13 Fran Berry 9 (13) 04-36 INTREPIDLY 24 (C) J Noseda 4-8-10 C Shepherd 10 (2) 0336- JACOB CATS 167 (V,CD) W Knight 9-8-10 Phil Dennis (3) 11 (6) 35-13 TESTA ROSSA 23 (B) J Goldie 8-8-7 D Probert 12(14) 3-153 WIMPOLE HALL 42 (P,C,BF) W Jarvis 5-8-6 E Greatrex 13 (5) 1022- TUFF ROCK 159 E Walker 4-8-5 J Haynes 14 (1) /1132 KELLY'S DINO 38 (P,BF) K Burke 5-8-2 Hollie Doyle 15(10) 23125 KING KEVIN 2 (B,BF) E Dunlop 4-8-2 Doubtful 16(16) 246-1 SPUTNIK PLANUM 21 (T) M Appleby 4-8-0 5-1 Contrast, 6-1 Arab Moon, Kelly's Dino, 7-1 Tuff Rock, 10-1 Battersea, Crowned Eagle, Emenem, 12-1 Fire Fighting, Kyllachy Gala, 14-1 others. 4.55 Wright choice: Time To Study, who has a good strike-rate, has a touch of class and remains unexposed Dangers: Night Of Glory, Euchen Glen 5.20 (8) (2) (5) (6) (3) (4) (1) 4.20 0364621-121 53101-04066 Wright choice: Alpha Delphini ended last term in fine form and can pick up where he left off under ideal conditions Dangers: Kyllang Rock, Desert Law 0-132 TIME TO BLOSSOM 38 (CD,BF) S Crisford 5-9-7 A Atzeni 0-161 ARGUS 42 (C,D) A Dunn 6-9-6 L Keniry 20-11 INN THE BULL 33 (D) A King 5-9-4 T Marquand 241-2 WARM OASIS 58 (D,BF) J Fanshawe 4-9-3 D Muscutt /321- STANLEY 164 (CD) R Hughes 5-9-3 S W Kelly -2120 BERRAHRI 24 (C) John Best 7-9-3 Dayverson De Barros 41/0- VINCENT'S FOREVER 262 (H,C) E De Giles 5-9-3 C Shepherd D Probert 8 (7) /54-3 HAZAMAR 17 (T) Mrs S Leech 5-8-8 9-4 Warm Oasis, 11-4 Stanley, 9-2 Inn The Bull, 6-1 Time To Blossom, 8-1 Argus, 10-1 Hazamar, 20-1 Berrahri, 33-1 Vincent's Forever. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (12) (10) (4) (13) T Hamilton 1 (6) 4400-0 IMAGINE IF 17 (D,S) R G Fell 4-9-8 P Mulrennan 2 (2) 01010- ONE BOY 166 (CD,F,G,S) P Midgley 7-9-7 D Tudhope 3 (3) 3225-6 JACOB'S PILLOW 31 (P,D,F,G,S) R Bastiman 7-9-7 P J McDonald 4 (7) 5-2453 TOMMY G 11 (F) J Goldie 5-9-4 5 (9) 123-00 ECONOMIC CRISIS 43 (CD,F,G,S) A Berry 9-9-2 C Murtagh (5) G Lee 6 (1) 554-34 SILVANUS 21 (CD,F,G,S) P Midgley 13-9-2 P Hanagan 7 (4) 53430- GEOFF POTTS 122 (BF,S) R Fahey 5-9-1 T Eaves 8 (8) 50000- LAUGHTON 151 (W,CD,F) K A Ryan 5-9-0 J Garritty 9 (5) 44400- FOXTROT KNIGHT 175 (D,F,S) Mrs R Carr 6-8-12 7-2 Geoff Potts, 5-1 Jacob's Pillow, Laughton, 13-2 One Boy, Tommy G, 7-1 others. R Da Silva 1 (3) 12- PLUNGER 148 (C) P Cole 3-9-6 T Marquand 2 (4) 21- QAYSAR 129 (CD) R Hannon 3-9-6 EMBLAZONED J Gosden 3-8-13 R Havlin 3 (6) K O'Neill 4 (8) 00- EPSOM BOUNTY 150 P Phelan 3-8-13 0- HOMBRE CASADO 143 E Walker 3-8-13 L Keniry 5 (5) PIVOTAL MAN R Varian 3-8-13 A Atzeni 6 (9) 0 PLENTYINTHETANKSIR 16 D Simcock 3-8-13 G Bass (7) 7 (2) SUPER D J K A Ryan 3-8-13 J P Spencer 8 (1) WICKED SEA (H) R Hannon 3-8-8 Hollie Doyle 9 (7) 8-11 Qaysar, 7-2 Emblazoned, 6-1 Pivotal Man, 7-1 Plunger, 14-1 Super D J, 33-1 Hombre Casado, 50-1 others. 3.45 ITV4 102 B A Curtis 1 (2) 05-130 CASPIAN PRINCE (H,T,CD,F,G,S) M Appleby 9-9-10 111 G Lee 2 (4) 20011- ALPHA DELPHINI 166 (P,CD,F,G,S) B Smart 7-9-2 111 P J McDonald 3 (9) 362-50 BLUE DE VEGA 7 (P,S) R Cowell 5-9-2 108 P Mulrennan 4 (8) 51166- DESERT LAW 199 (CD,F,G,S) P Midgley 10-9-2 D Tudhope v113 5 (3) 06246- KYLLANG ROCK 175 (D,F,S) J Tate 4-9-2 86 J Fanning 6 (5) 020-00 LINE OF REASON 49 (CD,F,G) P Midgley 8-9-2 96 7 (1) 04-516 MEMORIES GALORE 53 (P,D,F,G,S) R G Fell 6-9-2 T Hamilton 90 J Hart 8 (7) 2066-6 ROYAL BRAVE 23 (CD,F,G) R Bastiman 7-9-2 99 R Scott 9 (6) 54600- TAEXALI 134 (B,F) A McGuinness (Ire) 5-9-2 11-8 Alpha Delphini, 4-1 Kyllang Rock, 5-1 Desert Law, 13-2 Caspian Prince, 8-1 Line Of Reason, 14-1 Blue De Vega, 25-1 Memories Galore, Taexali, 33-1 Royal Brave. R Kingscote 1 (5) 106-0 AUTOCRATIC 35 (D) Sir M Stoute 5-9-0 R Havlin 2 (3) 2214/ DOMMERSEN 574 (C,BF) J Gosden 5-9-0 A Atzeni 3 (4) 6115- FABRICATE 189 (P,D) Michael Bell 6-9-0 E Greatrex 4 (1) 1-330 SNOWY WINTER 15 (T,C) A Watson 4-8-9 5 (2) 1-413 STELLAR SURPRISE 32 (T) S C Williams 4-8-9 Fran Berry 5-4 Fabricate, 11-8 Autocratic, 8-1 Dommersen, 14-1 Stellar Surprise, 20-1 Snowy Winter. 3.10 ITV4 5105-3 41/100 611161260-0 032100-5060 2.25 totepool Queen's Cup Handicap 108 CLEVER COOKIE 161 (P,D,F,G,S) P Niven 10-9-10 J Garritty 94 MOUNT TAHAN 26 (G) K A Ryan 6-9-7 S A Gray 104 TIME TO STUDY 155 (CD,F,S) M Johnston 4-9-2 P J McDonald CARBON DATING 14 (CD,F,G) A McGuinness (Ire) 6-9-2 100 R Scott (3) D C Costello v113 5 (6) 4302-5 CAPE COVA 75 (G) M Appleby 5-9-2 105 D Tudhope 6 (8) 20001- SIR CHAUVELIN 56J (F,G,S) J Goldie 6-9-0 110 A Mullen 7 (3) 11046- BRANDON CASTLE 98 (H,T,D,G,S) A Watson 6-8-11 -P Hanagan 8 (2) 2111 AMERICAN GIGOLO 11 (H,T) H Fry 6-8-7 105 J Fanning 9 (11) 1516-2 MIXBOY 46 (S) K Dalgleish 8-8-7 108 J Quinn 10 (9) 01610- FIRE JET 149 (D,F,G,S) J Mackie 5-8-7 110 B A Curtis 11 (5) 23020- GRACELAND 185 (F,G) Michael Bell 6-8-7 97 C Beasley 12 (7) 00/00- MIRSAALE 6J (P,D,F,G,S) K Dalgleish 8-8-7 112 0025-1 NIGHT OF GLORY 44J (P,F,G,S) A Balding 4-8-6 Josephine Gordon 13 (14) 110 B McHugh 14 (1) 01300- EUCHEN GLEN 140 (F,G,S) J Goldie 5-8-6 5-1 Time To Study, 6-1 American Gigolo, 8-1 Mixboy, Sir Chauvelin, 9-1 Night Of Glory, 10-1 Graceland, 11-1 Carbon Dating, 12-1 Brandon Castle, Clever Cookie, Mount Tahan, 14-1 others. 1 2 3 4 (£12,450: 7f 33y) (11 runners) (5) (8) (1) (3) (2) (4) Wright choice: Fake News won in good style at Wolverhampton and shapes as though this longer trip will suit Dangers: Ayutthaya, Indomeneo (£62,250: 1m 5f 216y) (14) 1.50 Masham Star 4.10 I Am A Dreamer 2.25 Alpha Delphini 4.45 Imagine If 3.00 Fake News 5.20 Queen’s Sargent 3.35 Time To Study Going: good to soft, soft in places Draw: no advantage Racing UK 1 2 3 4 5 6 66 T Hamilton 7 (1) 410-24 JOE'S SPIRIT 79 (H,BF) R Fahey 8-12 77 P Hanagan 8 (10) 12611- INDOMENEO 172 (D,F,S) R Fahey 8-10 -9 (8) 5-412 BREAKING RECORDS 21 (H) H Palmer 8-9 Josephine Gordon 55 A Mullen 10 (9) 01-331 HARD GRAFT 53 D Brown 8-6 74 P P Mathers 11 (7) 01-33 SHUHOOD 19 (S) I Williams 8-5 -C Hardie 12 (12) 34-24 CHINGACHGOOK 43 R Fahey 8-2 7-2 Ayutthaya, 6-1 Fake News, Indomeneo, 8-1 Book Of Dreams, Breaking Records, 9-1 Shuhood, 10-1 Joe's Spirit, Miss Bar Beach, Ventura Knight, 16-1 others. 3.35 Rob Wright 1.50 (£30,950: 2m 6f 177y) (16) 138 H Skelton 1 1-3121 RED RISING 56 (G,S) D Skelton 7-11-12 135 A Nicol 2 360231 NAUTICAL NITWIT 28 (F,G,S) P Kirby 9-11-5 132 C Nichol 3 -45311 PLANET NINE 35 (D,G,S) Mrs R Dobbin 6-11-5 137 T O'Brien 4 -43213 CLONDAW NATIVE 51 (P,S) S Edmunds 6-11-4 135 C Gethings 5 221102 CLASSIC BEN 38 (P,S) S Edmunds 5-11-4 137 A Thornton 6 -65122 HEAD TO THE STARS 20 (S) H Daly 7-11-0 114-P3 139 TARA VIEW 116 (G,S) A King 7-11-0 W Hutchinson 7 138 T Whelan 8 -56324 ZEROESHADESOFGREY 35 (B,G,S) N King 9-11-0 141 S W Quinlan 9 5-5442 BRYDEN BOY 56 (P,D,S) J Candlish 8-11-0 136 S Bowen 10 410103 MALAPIE 20 (D,S) Mrs C Bailey 10-10-11 141 11 -PP246 SOUTHFIELD ROYALE 51 (T,G,S) N Mulholland 8-10-9 T Scudamore 134 H Cobden 12 0-1031 CULTURE DE SIVOLA 55 (D,S) N Williams 6-10-9 136 S Twiston-Davies 13 P32211 AARON LAD 20 (D,S) Dr R Newland 7-10-8 139 A Coleman 14 01-125 EARLY RETIREMENT 38 (P,G,S) Mrs C Bailey 6-10-6 130 15 P26254 FINGERONTHESWITCH 51 (T,P,D,G,S) N Mulholland 8-10-4 H Reed (5) P Brennan v142 16 034523 HATCHET JACK 42 (BF) Paul Henderson 6-10-4 13-2 Red Rising, 15-2 Aaron Lad, 9-1 Classic Ben, Clondaw Native, 10-1 Tara View, 11-1 Culture De Sivola, Hatchet Jack, Head To The Stars, 12-1 Bryden Boy, Fingerontheswitch, 14-1 others. 5.00 133 A Nicol 4 44-1P1 KILCULLEN FLEM 16 (P,S) P Kirby 8-11-2 130 J Davies 5 6P-4PP MILBOROUGH 21 (B,S) I Duncan 12-11-1 128 A Johns 6 45-P41 BASSARABAD 67 (T,V,S) T Vaughan 7-11-0 130 7 -04603 STREETS OF PROMISE 9 (P,BF,G,S) M Scudamore 9-10-12 T Scudamore 132 T O'Brien 8 1-2P24 ZERACHIEL 20 (P,S) I Williams 8-10-10 132 P Brennan 9 U3P211 TALK OF THE SOUTH 20 (D,S) Paul Henderson 9-10-7 127 H Skelton 10 53PP63 CKALCO DES LOGES 14 (T,G,S) D Skelton 6-10-4 9-2 Muckle Roe, 5-1 Talk Of The South, 6-1 Kilcullen Flem, 7-1 Ckalco Des Loges, Streets Of Promise, 15-2 Cloudy Too, 9-1 Bassarabad, Blameitalonmyroots, Zerachiel, 20-1 Milborough. Handicap (£3,429: 2m) (10) 1 (8) 6234R TEMASEK STAR 2 (P) A McCann (Ire) 7-9-11 M M Monaghan (3) 2 (9) 15/06 GUARDS CHAPEL 14J (V,D) G L Moore 10-9-8 Jason Watson (7) S W Kelly 3 (6) 06-41 LEORO 14 (T,P) C Mann 4-9-8 T Clark (3) 4 (2) /06-5 DALASIRI 10 (T,P) J Farrelly 9-9-8 5 (4) -2124 NAVAJO STAR 10 (V,CD) R Brisland 4-9-8 David Egan (3) 6 (10) -3164 INDIAN RED 18 (BF) M Tompkins 4-9-4 L Edmunds (3) Rossa Ryan (5) 7 (1) 0-464 CARACAS 14 K Frost 4-9-3 8 (5) -0003 IM WAITING 22 (T,P) A McCann (Ire) 5-9-2 Fran Berry 040-5 KIMENE 72 W Stone 4-9-1 T Marquand 9 (7) Doubtful 10 (3) 000-6 CHARLIE CHAPLIN 2 (B) R Eddery 4-8-4 5-2 Leoro, 4-1 Indian Red, 5-1 Navajo Star, 6-1 Temasek Star, 8-1 Caracas, 10-1 Dalasiri, 12-1 Im Waiting, 20-1 Guards Chapel, 25-1 Kimene. 7.15 Handicap (3-Y-O: £7,310: 5f) (6) 1 (3) 21114 GRANDFATHER TOM 10 (D,BF) R Cowell 9-7 E J Walsh (3) C Lee (3) 2 (6) d22-4 MIDSUMMER KNIGHT 35 K Burke 9-2 K O'Neill 3 (5) 22311 SAMOVAR 10 (B,D) S Dixon 9-1 D Muscutt 4 (4) 11324 WIFF WAFF 22 (H,T,D) S C Williams 8-13 R Kingscote 5 (2) 55-31 BECKER 64 (D) J Given 8-13 6 (1) 21-22 KODIAC EXPRESS 9 (D) Mike Murphy 8-11 Nicola Currie (5) 3-1 Grandfather Tom, 7-2 Becker, 9-2 Midsummer Knight, Samovar, 11-2 Wiff Waff, 6-1 Kodiac Express. 7.45 Maiden Stakes (£5,175: 6f) (5) T Marquand 1 (4) 2/3-5 PROMISING 84 (BF) R Hannon 4-9-9 CAPLA DEMON Miss G Kelleway 3-9-1 A Jones (3) 2 (2) 3 (3) 42- GEORGE OF HEARTS 155 (W,BF) R Hughes 3-9-1 S W Kelly Fran Berry 4 (1) 0-0 IRISH TIMES 9 H Spiller 3-9-1 MAXIMUM POWER T Pinfield 3-9-1 M Dwyer 5 (5) 4-6 Promising, 7-4 George Of Hearts, 14-1 Capla Demon, 20-1 others. 8.15 Fillies’ Handicap (3-Y-O: £4,399: 7f) (5) G Bass (7) (5) 541 MAKE MAGIC 32 (CD) D Simcock 9-7 C Noble (5) (3) 2041- ARABIAN JAZZ 204 (D) Michael Bell 9-5 Rossa Ryan (5) (2) 6303- IMAGE 142 P McBride 9-4 (4) 031- EESHA BEAUTY 212 (D) M Botti 9-4 M M Monaghan (3) (1) 43344 MOTHER OF DRAGONS 4 Phil McEntee 8-13 Nicola Currie (5) 13-8 Make Magic, 2-1 Eesha Beauty, 7-2 Arabian Jazz, 13-2 Image, 16-1 Mother Of Dragons. 1 2 3 4 5 8.45 Handicap (£3,429: 6f) (12) Joshua Bryan (5) 1 (6) 36120 FAREEQ 24 (T,B,CD) C Wallis 4-9-7 W A Carson 2 (5) 03524 BILLYOAKES 19 (P,CD) C Wallis 6-9-7 3 (9) 11-05 BREATHOFFRESHAIR 43 (T,P,D,BF) Richard Guest 4-9-6 K Shoemark 4 (7) 04602 ALFONSO MANANA 19 (B,D) J Given 4-9-6 R Kingscote 5 (2) 00006 DEEDS NOT WORDS 19 (P,D) M Wigham 7-9-5 F Norton Fran Berry 6 (10) 0-344 TAWAAFOQ 28 (H) Mick Quinn 4-9-5 J Cooley (7) 7 (8) 256-5 ARCANISTA 16 (P,D) C Dwyer 5-9-5 Jason Watson (7) 8 (11) 11560 MERCERS 12 (P,D) P Butler 4-9-4 9 (3) -4405 DREAM ALLY 18 (CD) J Weymes 8-9-3 Phil Dennis (3) D Brock 10 (1) 40440 TASAABOQ 21 (T,P,D) Phil McEntee 7-8-7 11(12) 03505 JUSTICE ROCK 19 (H,T,CD) Phil McEntee 5-8-7 Nicola Currie (5) K Fox 12 (4) 650-0 MULTI QUEST 19 (B,CD) John E Long 6-8-7 7-2 Fareeq, 5-1 Alfonso Manana, 11-2 Billyoakes, 7-1 Breathoffreshair, 9-1 Arcanista, Tawaafoq, 12-1 Tasaaboq, 14-1 Deeds Not Words, 16-1 others. Course specialists Carlisle: Trainers S Crawford, 9 from 21 runners, 42.9%; I Duncan, 5 from 15, 33.3%. Chelmsford: Trainers J Farrelly, 3 from 13, 23.1%; C Appleby, 20 from 87, 23.0%. Haydock: Trainers Miss E Lavelle, 4 from 13, 30.8%; F O'Brien, 3 from 12, 25.0%; H Fry, 3 from 12, 25.0%; P Nicholls, 13 from 55, 23.6%. Kempton: Trainers A Watson, 14 from 43, 32.6%; J Noseda, 32 from 111, 28.8%; S Crisford, 11 from 43, 25.6%; J Gosden, 57 from 247, 23.1%. Musselburgh: Trainers A Watson, 3 from 7, 42.9%; M Appleby, 7 from 24, 29.2%; K A Ryan, 18 from 89, 20.2%; M W Easterby, 12 from 61, 19.7%. the times | Saturday March 31 2018 23 1G S Sport Godolphin is now all about Dubai’s place in the world RACINGFOTOS Sheikh Mohammed is making radical changes to the way his racing empire is run, writes Mark Souster in Dubai The past year has seen unprecedented change at Godolphin. Sheikh Mohammed’s racing operation attracts more interest than any other in the world, a fascination aroused by its vast wealth, influence, success and mystique. The famous blue colours have been carried to victory seven times in the Dubai World Cup, until recently the most valuable race on the planet. But when it is renewed at Meydan this evening, it will be the first time for 20 years that John Ferguson, the group chief executive who departed last June, has not been there to see it. Last week it was revealed that Joe Osborne, the man appointed to succeed Ferguson, would revert to his former post as managing director solely in Ireland. From now on, each of Sheikh Mohammed’s racing and breeding entities in Britain, Ireland, Australia, America and Japan will be autonomous organisations with power vested in individual directors and a board. The Times has learnt that these various entities will report to Hugh Anderson, managing director of the UK operation, who will act as a global filter for reports and information. Another part of the new power structure will be a committee in Dubai, comprised of Emiratis, set up to provide a further conduit to Sheikh Mohammed and his wife Princess Haya, who exerts a considerable dayto-day influence. The inference of this major restructuring is clear. The days of any one chief executive having the same level of authority as Ferguson are over. One thing will never change: ultimate decision-making will reside with Dubai’s ruler and Princess Haya. Towards the end of his long association, some felt that Ferguson had become too much of a focal point, especially after the rift with the Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor that precipitated his exit. Others suggested that he did not fully appreciate the concerns felt by Emiratis. The feeling in Dubai was that Ferguson’s involvement began to feel like a throwback to a bygone era when the emirate was emerging from its protectorate status in 1971. To help in that process there was initially a dependence on British knowhow and experience, but no longer. The message now could not be more emphatic: Godolphin is about Dubai and its ruler’s vision for its place in a world order being rapidly redefined. Given that his role was to bring some structure, focus and discipline to what had become a sprawling empire, Princess Haya, left, also exerts a considerable daily influence at Godolphin Ferguson could be said to have succeeded in his brief. Godolphin won a record-equalling 18 group one races last season, after several seasons in the wilderness, a spell made worse by the ban issued to the Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al-Zarooni for doping 11 horses based at Newmarket. In the wake of that scandal, Ferguson helped to re-establish Godolphin as a genuine rival to Coolmore, a commendable legacy allowing Ferguson to leave with his head held high. But the concept of Godolphin as a Formula One-type entity with a team principal was jettisoned. Sheikh Mohammed has decided that going back to his roots is the best way forward. As part of that process, a coterie of advisers and confidantes has been brought back together who had faded from view under Ferguson but who, individually, have long associations with Sheikh Mohammed stretching back 30 years. They were there when he articulated his vision of turning a desert into an oasis for business, tourism, and sport. He likened it to attracting birds to a tree, and he was convinced he could make Dubai a significant destination on racing’s global map. Among the group of people who have been brought closer to the operation again are John Gosden, Simon Crisford, André Fabre, Anthony Stroud and Baffert can plunder fourth World Cup The leading American trainer Bob Baffert landed the Dubai World Cup for a third time with the brilliant Arrogate a year ago and can strike again with West Coast. This colt has been beaten on his past two starts, on each occasion finishing in the frame behind the outstanding Gun Runner. There is nothing of that calibre in this field. 5.50 Dubai World Cup (Group I: £4,444,444: 1m 2f, dirt, going, fast) (10) 1 (1) 45-30 AWARDEE (B,D) M Matsunaga (Japan) 8-9-0 Y Take 2 (2) 0-321 NORTH AMERICA 21 (T,CD) S Seemar 6-9-0 R Mullen J Rosario 3 (3) 125-3 GUNNEVERA (T,B) A Sano (US) 4-9-0 4 (4) 0-423 FURIA CRUZADA 21 (H,T,CD) E Charpy 7-8-9 A Fresu 5 (5) 03-32 MUBTAAHIJ (T,CD) B Baffert (US) 6-9-0 V Espinoza 6 (6) /111- FOREVER UNBRIDLED D Stewart (US) 6-8-9 M Smith M Barzalona 7 (7) 312-1 TALISMANIC (D) A Fabre (Fr) 5-9-0 M Gutierrez 8 (8) 304-4 PAVEL (T,BF) D O'Neill (US) 4-9-0 9 (9) 113-2 WEST COAST (T,B,D) B Baffert (US) 4-9-0J Castellano 10(10) 0-212 THUNDER SNOW 21 (P,CD,BF) S bin Suroor (GB) 4-9-0 C Soumillon Evens West Coast, 7-1 North America, 8-1 Forever Unbridled, Gunnevera, Talismanic, 14-1 Pavel, Thunder Snow, 20-1 Mubtaahij, 50-1 others. David Loder. Gosden trained for Sheikh Mohammed in California in pre-Godolphin days as far back as 1986. Crisford’s connection extends even further, to 1982. In them Sheikh Mohammed sees people whom he can trust and who abide by his tenets of discretion and loyalty. A finger of suspicion has recently been pointed in Gosden’s direction as an influential and prominent — some have suggested overly prominent — figure in the new “court”. But that is to overlook the fact that these men are not flunkeys directly dependent on Sheikh Mohammed. These are individuals with their own successful businesses. Gosden, who was 67 yesterday, and Fabre have big stables and high-profile owners to whom they owe particular responsibility. But the Sheikh feels that he can use them as sounding boards, usually in evening phone calls. Gosden was asked to help with the sales last August. He has insisted that that is his sole remit. He did the bidding when Sheikh Mohammed ended his boycott of yearlings by stallions standing at John Magnier’s Coolmore Stud, not least Galileo, a trend set to continue. It is Gosden who will train Gloam, who cost £4.2 million at the Tattersalls sale in October. To extend Sheikh Mohammed’s ornithological analogy, feathers may have been ruffled, but that is his prerogative. And with his son, the Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan, described in a similar mould to his father, that is only set to continue. Time To Study looks class act for Johnston’s in-form yard Rob Wright Racing Editor Mark Johnston has made a fast start to the year, with 23 winners already on the board, and he can land the featured totepool Queen’s Cup Handicap (3.35) with Time To Study at Musselburgh today. The four-year-old improved when stepped up to this trip last year, winning at this track before a highly commendable fifth in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot. Time To Study just seemed in need of the run when a close third at Haydock in September. He then won two of his final three starts of the season, at Doncaster and Newbury, seeming not to stay when below par in the Cesarewitch in between those victories. Unexposed after just five starts over this trip, Time To Study has a touch of class and has plenty of appeal in this field. Night Of Glory rates the main threat. He has already won both on the Flat and over hurdles this year, so will not want for fitness, and should again give a good account. Of those at bigger prices, Euchen Glen merits respect. He had excuses when below par on his final two starts last year and before that had looked unlucky when third in a competitive handicap at York’s Ebor meeting. Johnston could also be on the mark with Masham Star in the opening toteplacepot Handicap (1.50). Gelded since last season, Masham Star shaped well when third in listed company at Wolverhampton three weeks ago and can make the most of a drop in class here. Alpha Delphini looks a worthy favourite in the totescoop6 Borderlescott Sprint Trophy (2.25). He is a half-brother to Tangerine Trees, who won this race twice and, like his sibling, Alpha Delphini is improving with age. He signed off last season with wins under testing conditions here and at Beverley and, with the ground again in his favour, he can pick up where he left off by taking this prize. The totesport.com Royal Mile Handicap (3.00) can go to Fake News. A winner with cut in the ground at Carlisle last year, he stayed on strongly when making a winning return to action at Wolverhampton and seems likely to appreciate this first try at a mile. Over jumps at Haydock Park, Crievehill will be tough to beat in the Smarkets Challenger Middle Distance Series Final Handicap Chase (2.05). He improved for a switch to more patient tactics at Sandown Park last time, winning with plenty in hand despite a bad mistake two out. He can defy top weight. The best bet of the day is Kyllachy Gala in the Matchbook Betting Podcast Rosebery Handicap (4.20) at Kempton Park. He was forced wide throughout when third at Chelmsford on Thursday, doing really well under the circumstances to get as close as he did. He goes well here and can return to winning ways. Yesterday’s racing results Bath Going: soft (heavy in places) 1.50 (5f 160yd) 1, Dan’s Dream (F Norton, 11-4); 2, Grandma Tilly (25-1); 3, Little Boy Blue (3-1). 9 ran. NR: Roman River. 4Kl, nk. M R Channon. 2.20 (5f 10yd) 1, Izzer (F Norton, 5-4 jt-fav); 2, John Betjeman (25-1); 3, Deep Intrigue (5-4 jt-fav). 7 ran. NR: Dixieland. 1l, 2Kl. M R Channon. 2.55 (1m 3f 137yd) Abandoned: false patch of ground on round course. 3.30 (5f 160yd) 1, Under The Covers (F Norton, 4-1); 2, Arrogant (16-1); 3, Quench Dolly (11-4). 6 ran. NR: Here’s Two. 1l, nk. R Harris. Lingfield Park 4.00 (1m) Abandoned: false patch of ground on round course. Going: standard 1.30 (7f 1yd) 1, Take The Helm (Adam J McNamara, 8-1); 2, Reckless Endeavour (22-1); 3, Gallipoli (6-1). 13 ran. NR: War Glory. Ol, nk. B J Meehan. 4.35 (1m 5f 11yd) Abandoned: false patch of ground on round course. 5.05 (5f 10yd) 1, The Daley Express (F Norton, 7-2); 2, Glory of Paris (11-4); 3, Major Pusey (5-2 fav). 6 ran. NR: Delagate This Lord, Jashma, Red Alert, September Issue. Nk, 3Ol. R Harris. Placepot: £43.20. Quadpot: £7.80. 2.00 (1m 7f 169yd) 1, Funny Kid (Maxime Guyon, 7-2); 2, Lord George (10-1); 3, Watersmeet (3-1 jt-fav). 9 ran. Ns, nk. C Ferland (Fr). 2.30 (7f 1yd) 1, Diagnostic (James Doyle, 7-2 fav); 2, Carolinae (15-2); 3, Lucymai (5-1). 13 ran. 1l, Kl. W J Haggas. 3.05 (6f 1yd) 1, City Light (Theo Bachelot, 8-1); 2, Kachy (11-8 fav); 3, Kimberella (8-1). 8 ran. NR: Atletico. 1Kl, 1Nl. S Wattel (Fr). 3.40 (6f 1yd) 1, Corinthia Knight (Oisin Murphy, 5-4 fav); 2, Lake Volta (12-1); 3, Rock On Baileys (12-1). 10 ran. Kl, nk. Archie Watson. 4.10 (1m 1yd) 1, Lucky Team (Theo Bachelot, 40-1); 2, Second Thought (11-8 fav); 3, Goring (9-1). 11 ran. 1Nl, hd. Joel Boisnard (Fr). 4.40 (1m 2f) 1, Victory Bond (James Doyle, 3-1 jt-fav); 2, Master The World (5-1); 3, Abe Lincoln (14-1). 10 ran. Kl, 1l. W J Haggas. Placepot: £77.20. Quadpot: £5.70. Newcastle Going: standard 1.40 (5f) 1, Dynamo Walt (T Eaves, 12-1); 2, Fendale (9-1); 3, Move In Time (16-1). 14 ran. Hd, hd. D Shaw. 2.10 (5f) 1, Cowboy Soldier (L Morris, 15-8); 2, Midsummer Knight (7-2); 3, Gowanbuster (12-1). 7 ran. Kl, 2Nl. R M H Cowell. 2.45 (7f 14yd) 1, Chaplin Bay (J Garritty, 7-1); 2, Welliesinthewater (5-1); 3, Tadaawol (9-2 jtfav). 9 ran. 1Kl, Kl. Mrs R Carr. 3.20 (1m 4f 98yd) 1, Island Brave (L Morris, 7-1); 2, Stargazer (12-1); 3, Eye of The Storm (50-1). 14 ran. Ns, Ol. Mrs H Main. 3.55 (1m 5yd) 1, Gronkowski (J P Spencer, 13-8 fav); 2, Iconic Sunset (33-1); 3, Dark Acclaim (14-1). 10 ran. 1Nl, sh hd. J Noseda. 4.25 (5f) 1, Snazzy (David Probert, 5-1); 2, Harperelle (16-1); 3, Hard Forest (2-1 fav). 12 ran. Kl, hd. C Fellowes. 4.55 (1m 2f 42yd) 1, Casey Jones (R Havlin, 7-4 jt-fav); 2, Rude Awakening (7-4 jt-fav); 3, Dawn Dancer (7-1). 5 ran. NR: Harmonica. Kl, 3Ol. J Gosden. Placepot: £391.60. Quadpot: £23.10. Blinkered first time: Carlisle 2.15 Secrete Stream. Haydock 2.40 Spectator, Sleepy Haven, Percy Street. 5.35 Milborough. 24 1G S Saturday March 31 2018 | the times Sport Giles Smith TWITTER Diligent Southgate left powerless as FA takes its eye off ball I t seems extraordinary that the FA’s contractual obligations to another manufacturer mean that England will have only one match to practise with the official World Cup ball. And it’s especially baffling after Gareth Southgate had revealed an impressive appetite for micro-management by banning his players from taking syrups in their Starbucks cappuccinos at the St George’s Park Hilton. We’re all keen, for sure, to reap the marginal benefits of a sugar-free Chris Smalling — but what about working competitively with the actual ball? Wouldn’t there be something to gain from that, too? Because we all know about the wild variance of World Cup balls from tournament to tournament. It’s the first thing everyone complains about. Indeed, the history of protest amply suggests that although you have been playing the game all your life you still barely recognise as a football the bespoke orb served up for you on arrival at a World Cup. Especially if you’re English. Who can ever forget the glum confusion sewed by the devious Adidas Fevernova of South Korea-Japan 2002, with its cutting-edge “three-layer knitted chassis” and its ability to get up and over David Seaman at free kicks? As for the Teamgeist in Germany 2006, that was a horrible nutcase of a ball, which practically growled when you touched it and only really worked for Portuguese show ponies like Cristiano Ronaldo. And don’t get started on the woeful Jabulani, deployed in South Africa in 2010, which was essentially a balloon on a stick, didn’t seem to have crossed the line even when it actually had, and would have romped away with the prize for most anti-social object at the tournament if it hadn’t been for some sterling work by the vuvuzela. Even in England’s absence, the Questra, used in the United States in 1994, had pictures of stars and planets on it, and whether that was in honour of the 25th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, as maintained by the organisers, or because the ball had been designed for optimum ease of use in conditions of zero gravity . . . well, talk to Roberto Baggio about it. In fact, plenty of people would argue that no World Cup ball has quietly and honestly gone about its business since the classic, straight-andtrue, dubbin-enrobed 25-paneller of 1966. And even that, one senses, would have done enough in the air to worry Joe Hart. Couch potato’s guide to the weekend’s TV 6 Matching Gareth Southgate’s exemplary work at the Starbucks counter, Ryan Giggs has set a stamp on his new job as Wales manager by banning the wearing of baseball caps by his players, halting a planned golf game and quietly advising Gareth Bale on the ways in which different kinds of car seat might be better for the long-term health of his hamstrings. Yet apparently the former Manchester United winger stopped short of banning his players from using their mobile phones at the meal table. Odd. No phones at the table is rule one in the parenting manual, in our view, miles further up the agenda from preventing baseball caps and golf from breaking out, and much more worth the necessary energy of enforcement. Yet Giggs didn’t go there. He should do — and he should stick at it. We would say to him: forget the war — you’ve lost that. But at least win the battles. Anyway, flash forward to this month’s twomatch international break, a crucial staging post in the almost completed journey to Russia, and while the likes of Spain and Belgium were sensibly using their games to begin getting match-acclimatised around the Adidas Telstar 18, left, England were still contractually prodding about with a Nike Ordem V. That’s like preparing for tomorrow’s chemistry test by reading your mate’s notes on Wuthering Heights. And so much for the marginal gains earned in and around Starbucks. In cycling terms, they’ve bought the hand sanitiser but they’ve forgotten to arrange the TUE. Hopeless. But, of course, it’s not Southgate’s fault. He is but the innocent front-seat passenger in a brakeless juggernaut of multimillion-pound sponsorship deals and endorsement packages, otherwise known as the FA — an organisation which is by no means averse to hitching the commercial trailer in front of the football cab. The manager is doing all he possibly can in matters relating to hazelnut syrup and cinnamon buns, but behind him is an organisation that has, quite literally, taken its eye off the ball, which will, in the end — experience insists — prove to be the more decisive factor. What can be done? There’s no substitute for Today 8.55am Cricket, fourth Test, South Africa v Australia, Sky Sports Cricket. 11.15am Football, Serie A, Bologna v Roma, BT Sport 2. 11.30am Football, Premier League, Crystal Palace v Liverpool, Sky Sports Main Event/ Sky Sports Premier League. 12pm Scottish Premiership, Motherwell v Rangers, BT Sport 1. 1.30pm Horse Racing, Musselburgh, ITV4. 2.30pm Rugby Union, Champions Cup, Munster v Toulon, Sky Sports Action (2.55pm, Sky Sports Main Event). 5pm Football, Premier League, Everton v Manchester City, BT Sport 1. Bundesliga, Bayern Munich v Warner, who has the same abrasive qualities as sandpaper, would have a field day in Wickes This year’s must-have: DIY tampering kits W e love a trip to Wickes as much as Australia’s David Warner clearly does, so we needed no further excuse to get in front of the shelves this week and assemble our consumer-friendly pick of the best offers out there — everything the DIY balltamperer needs in his kit bag this summer. Obviously, for light work, a roll of Abrasive Aluminium Oxide Coarse Sanding Roll, at £14.99 for 10 metres, is just the job, while the Wickes own-brand Rubber Sanding Block at £3.99 should give you a comfortable grip and greater purchase for those trickier, more detailed surface alterations. You could find that an Angled Sanding Sponge (£3.99) is also handy, and is definitely a little easier on the fingers. There are days when even the most assiduous manual work can’t get the damn thing to swing, and for those occasions you might want to consider a collapsible work bench (Wickes offer a selection of lightweight but sturdy Bosch models) and a actual match practice, obviously, but perhaps it would be helpful for the players if we could outline some of the key differences and characteristics of the ball chosen for Russia, so that they can begin to claw back some of the 180 minutes they have already lost to key rivals and be at least part-way up to speed when they meet Costa Rica for that last friendly in June. So, the Telstar 18 harks back, in name and colouring, to the ball Adidas provided for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico and therefore effortlessly summons ghostly images of Peter Borussia Dortmund, BT Sport 2. 5.30pm Football, League Two, Luton v Barnet, Sky Sports Main Event. 5.30pm Rugby Union, Challenge Cup, Edinburgh v Cardiff, Sky Sports Action. 6pm Tennis, WTA Miami Open, BT Sport/ESPN. 7pm Golf, PGA, Houston Open, Sky Sports Golf (7.40pm, Sky Sports Main Event). 7.30pm Football, Serie A, Juventus v AC Milan, BT Sport 2. 9.30pm Curling, World Championships, Eurosport. 11pm Cricket, second Test, New Zealand v England, Sky Sports Cricket/Sky Sports Main Event. 11pm Baseball, MLB, Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox, BT Sport 1. Makita BO5031 Random Orbital Sander — quite pricey at £99.99 but blessed with a surprisingly quiet motor and an easy-to-empty micro-filter dust box and almost guaranteeing a fine, swirl-free finish. We would, however, urge you to exercise caution with it in the outfield and certainly when furtively concealing it down the front of your trousers. Wickes also seem to be doing 15 per cent off on bolt cutters at the moment, if you want to take it up a level. Bonetti flailing at the back post. Structurally, it boasts a brand new “carcass”, though we wish they would use a different word. Most likely it will be difficult to retain possession of it against the better sides, and you can rest assured that it will be practically impossible to take a penalty with. Oh, and David De Gea, who did get the chance to use it competitively this week, describes it as “really strange”. Actually, you know what? Maybe it’s better to forget all about it until it’s here. Tomorrow 12.30am Basketball, NBA, Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors, BT Sport 2. 2am Baseball, MLB, Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants, BT Sport 1. 8.55am Cricket, fourth Test, South Africa v Australia, Sky Sports Cricket/Main Event). 9.15am Cycling, Tour of Flanders, Eurosport. 12.30pm Football, Premier League, Arsenal v Stoke, Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League. 12.30pm Rugby Union, Champions Cup, Clermont Auvergne v Racing 92, Sky Sports Action. 3pm Rugby Union, Champions Cup, Leinster v Saracens, BT Sport 2. 3.30pm Motorcycling, British Superbikes, Eurosport 2. 3.30pm Football, Premier League, Chelsea v Tottenham, Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League. 4.30pm Curling, World Championships, Eurosport 1. 6pm Baseball, MLB, New York Mets v St Louis Cardinals, BT Sport/ESPN. 7pm Golf, PGA, Houston Open, Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Golf. 8.30pm Basketball, NBA, San Antonio Spurs v Houston Rockets, BT Sport 2. 11pm Cricket, second Test, New Zealand v England, Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Cricket. 11pm Golf, LPGA, ANA Inspiration, Sky Sports Golf.