England outclassed once again as West Indies bowl them out for 187 to take control of second Test

31 Jan

England suffered bruised egos as well as bruised bodies as they suffered a painful start to their second Test against the West Indies in Antigua.

After being hammered in Barbados last week, Trevor Bayliss’ men were looking for a good reaction but were dismissed for 187 on a lively – occasionally hazardous – pitch.

The hosts ripped through England’s batting line-up once again

Home captain Jason Holder chose to bowl on a green top at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and saw the clatter of wickets interspersed with a series of nasty blows.

Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Sam Curran and Ben Foakes were all rapped hard on the gloves, the latter unable to keep wicket as a result, while top-scorer Moeen Ali was clattered on the helmet by Shannon Gabriel.

Comparisons with 1998’s abandoned Test in Jamaica would be unwelcome and exaggerated, not least because the West Indies reached stumps on 30 without loss, seeing off 21 overs to undermine any concerns over the suitability of the surface.

Only Jonny Bairstow (52) and Moeen (60) negotiated conditions well enough and the prospect of a series-deciding defeat appeared high as the tourists trudged off without landing a blow in response.

England took a battering in more ways than one

Holder happily inserted England after winning the toss and saw his side pick up four wickets before lunch. Rory Burns was the first, held low at second slip pushing inconclusively at Kemar Roach.

It was Roach who sowed the seeds of England’s match-defining 77 all out in Bridgetown and he was on the hunt again here with figures of four for 30.

Debutant opener Joe Denly survived a highly precarious lbw shout on nought and eked out six runs before the day’s worst dismissal. Chasing a short, wide loosener from local boy Alzarri Joseph the 32-year-old stretched too far and sent a thin edge sailing into Shane Dowrich’s gloves.

Root failed to settle but was hardly complicit in his dismissal, Joseph getting one to rear violently off a length. The ball thumped Root’s top hand as he attempted evasive action and it took a wonderful team effort from John Campbell and Shai Hope to complete the catch.

Jos Buttler was promoted to five, leapfrogging Stokes, but lasted just 12 deliveries before Holder found extra bounce and picked up the edge.

Watching from the other end was Bairstow, in a comparatively serene bubble of his own. He left better, offered the full face of the bat when bowlers over-pitched and played a pair of deliberate steers over the slips.

In a lunch score of 78 for four, he was responsible for 52 of them. That rendered his wicket, two balls after the restart, all the more important as Roach sent one down at yorker length and won an lbw.

Gabriel soon began working up a mean head of steam at the other end, pinging Stokes’ bottom hand as the all-rounder tossed his bat to the ground.

Kemar Roach took impressive figures of 4-30

Moeen was next in line, struck on the helmet by a well-aimed bumper.

Stokes was undone by skill as much as speed, Gabriel coming from a wide angle round the wicket and precisely snaring the edge to leave England 93 for six.

Moeen and Foakes went on to share a gutsy stand of 85, carefully watching for unpredictable bounce, running aggressively and taking on the spin of Roston Chase.

Moeen, fresh from a pair in Barbados, reached his half-century in 69 balls but fell in ugly fashion, scooping Roach to mid-on.

That was the first in a sequence of four wickets for nine runs as Gabriel and Roach cleaned up.

Foakes (35) deflected a short one into his own stumps and injured his right hand in the process, Curran copped a painful blow before being beaten by bounce and James Anderson backed away to expose his stumps.

England had over an hour to cause some chaos of their own but, despite a challenging spell from Stuart Broad, West Indies openers Campbell and Kraigg Brathwaite reached the close with their partnership intact.

Dillian Whyte rubbishes Eddie Hearn’s claim that fight with Anthony Joshua is ‘close’

31 Jan

Dillian Whyte has rejected claims from Eddie Hearn that a rematch with Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium on April 13 is “close”, insisting it is dead in the water from his perspective.

Whyte, ranked No 1 with the WBO and the WBC sanctioning bodies, claims bitter rival Joshua, holder of the WBO, IBF and WBA heavyweight titles, has never wanted to fight him.

He told the Telegraph: “It’s clear to me that they have never been serious about making a fight with me for April 13.

Dillian Whyte says a potential fight with Anthony Joshua is dead in the water

“If they were serious, they should have started negotiating sooner and with more realistic terms. The way he is going about business, Joshua won’t be fighting me, Wilder, or Fury any time soon.

“They’ve had the (Wembley Stadium) date booked for ages, and have known AJ was available since he beat Alexander Povetkin on 22 September, yet didn’t even make an initial offer until 10 January.

“We could have made this fight if Joshua really wanted it but it has been clear to me all along that they’ve been focused on making the Jarrell Miller fight in New York city on [streaming service] DAZN.”

He continued: “Eddie has been trying to make him and Joshua look like they’ve made a serious attempt to make a fight with me for April 13.

“But I know Eddie, I’ve dealt with him for years and he didn’t make a real attempt.

Whyte insists Joshua has never had any intention of fighting him

“Eddie is very good at what he does, his hands must be tied or he would have offered me more than 10-15% of what the fight is worth.

“I’d love to fight AJ but it’s obvious that he doesn’t want it.”

Whyte insists Jarrell Miller has been the fight that Joshua, who beat him to become British heavyweight champion in December 2015, has been plotting for some time,

He added: “Let’s be very clear. They have long been cooking a Miller fight for DAZN at Madison Square Garden in the US. I said that before the Dereck Chisora fight (on December 22).

“In spite of having Wembley booked for April 13 for more than six months and knowing that AJ is available since September 22, they made no approaches or offers to me until 10 January.

Whyte insists Joshua has always had his eyes on a fight with Jarrell Miller

“The offer was unacceptable so I rejected it. It’s so obvious. Joshua doesn’t want to fight me.

“He wants to go to America and fight Miller. That is easy money.

“One hundred per cent this was their plan the whole time.

“He [Joshua] has had two kind of tough fights and Miller is an easy fight. Miller has got no power but does have a good workrate.

“He is just a big cabbage and Joshua will punch him to bits.”

 

Fizik present Valverde with custom rainbow edition shoes and saddle

31 Jan

World champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) gets his season underway in Mallorca this weekend and team sponsor Fizik has presented the Spaniard with special edition Infinito R1 Iride shoes and an Antares 00 Iride saddle.

After winning the world championships men's elite road race last year, Valverde will spend much of 2019 wearing the iconic rainbow jersey with Movistar's bike supplier Canyon presenting the Spanish veteran with a custom frameset back in October.

Alongside the custom kit, frameset, shoes and saddle, Valverde also has customised Campagnolo Bora Ultra wheels, a Power2Max power meter and Oakley Jawbreaker sunglasses - all in the iconic rainbow design.

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Fizik's Infinito R1 shoes were presented to the team for the 2018 season in a custom team edition finish and Valverde's custom pair feature a rainbow trim on the tongue and heel of the shoe. The main body of the shoe is all white, with Fizik logos, Boa dials and cables also all white to showcase the rainbow trim.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

West Ham youngster Reece Oxford joins Bundesliga club FC Augsburg on loan until the end of the season

31 Jan

West Ham’s Reece Oxford has joined Bundesliga side Augsburg on loan until the end of the season.

The 20-year-old, who burst onto the scene in the opening weekend of the 2015/16 Premier League season spent part of last term in Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach during two loan periods.

Oxford in action for Monchengladbach last season

He has not played in the league for the Hammers this campaign, with his only appearances coming in the EFL Trophy.

Oxford’s contract at West Ham expires in 2021.

He became the Hammers’ youngest-ever player at 16 years and 198 days when he made his debut for the club in a 3-0 Europa League win against Andorran club Lusitanos in July 2015.

Leicester sign highly-rated Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans on loan from Monaco

31 Jan

Leicester have announced the signing of 21-year-old midfielder Youri Tielemans on loan from Monaco until the end of the season.

The Belgium international arrives at the King Power in a deal which sees Portuguese midfielder Adrien Silva head the other way.

Monaco ace Youri Tielemans has joined Leicester on loan

Tielemans represents a major coup for the Foxes, who fought off competition from Tottenham Hotspur for his signature.

The highly-rated midfielder has 14 caps for his country and featured in Roberto Martinez’s World Cup squad which finished third at Russia 2018.

Although Monaco have struggled desperately this season, Tielemans is the club’s second highest scorer behind Radamel Falcao.

The young midfielder rose to prominence at Anderlecht, becoming the youngest Belgian to play in the Champions League, starring in two title-winning campaigns, and eventually moved to France for £22million in 2017.

Silva has endured a torrid time at Leicester

Monaco boss Leonardo Jardin is thought to be a huge admirer of Silva, who completes the other half of the joint deal.

The Portuguese midfielder has struggled to establish himself in England after joining Leicester for £22million from Sporting Lisbon in 2017.

He was forced to wait six months to make his debut after paperwork arrived 14 seconds after the deadline, and he has made just two Premier League appearances this season.

Landa to undergo surgery for collarbone fracture

31 Jan

Movistar's Mikel Landa was hoping to regain his momentum after a terrible end to his 2018 season, but suffered a broken collarbone in his first race back, the Challenge Mallorca, on Thursday, and will require surgery to fix the break, his team announced.

Landa was involved in a large crash during the Trofeo Ses Salines-Campos-Porreres-Felanitx with 15km to go with Rasmus Byriel Iversen (Lotto Soudal), who also suffered a broken clavicle.

It is unclear how long Landa will be out of action, but he will likely miss the Vuelta a Andalucía, his next scheduled race February 20-24. He is scheduled to have surgery after returning home to Álava on Friday.

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His other targets, Tirreno-Adriatico, the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Ardennes Classics, are still realistic, however, and his aim to race both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France should not be in jeopardy.

Landa suffered a bad crash in the Clasica San Sebastian in 2018 that left him with a fractured vertebra. He tried to resume racing six weeks later, but ended his season in frustration, having to miss out on a planned participation in a world championships that would have suited his abilities.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Manchester United news: Red Devils ‘a couple of signings’ away from Premier League title challenge, says ex-coach

31 Jan

Manchester United are just ‘a couple of players’ short of having a title challenging squad, believes former coach Rene Meulensteen.

The Devils have performed excellently under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and are now pushing for a place in the Premier League’s top four.

Solskjaer has done an incredible job so far at United

Such an assault was unthinkable at the time Jose Mourinho was sacked but given the club’s surge in form under the temporary Norwegian boss, a club legend thanks to his playing days, they could now build upon his foundations.

And Dutchman Meulensteen, who spent several years at Old Trafford as a youth and first-team coach, reckons it might only take two or three signings in the summer around their stable spine to turn them back into title challengers for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

Speaking exclusively to 888sport he said: “United are not too far off from challenging for the league. They need to bring in maybe one or two top players that can boost them but the most important thing is what has been taken away from Manchester United since Sir Alex Ferguson left.

“The identity that United stood for slipped away and that’s why it’s such a masterstroke in that respect to bring Ole back. He is injecting Manchester United with that same sort of identity that he was part of.

“The board and everybody need to understand that that’s what they need to protect. That comes down to making sure it’s a good appointment, whoever that may be, along with the stability of the staff who can make sure they can recreate that identity. On top of that you then look to bring in a couple of players.”

And Meulensteen believes Manchester United should focus on rebuilding their defence when the summer transfer window opens.

He added: “If you look at the firepower and the pace United have up front along with the variety of abilities they can scare any defence in the Premier League and across Europe.

“In midfield they are strong. You have Pogba to the fore and getting better. Matic is very strong with a lot of experience. You could maybe do with another creative player there, a passer that can unlock defences from deep.

Paul Pogba has been rejuvenated under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

“It’s in defence that you maybe need to look at. Valencia is getting on and Ashley Young is a bit older now but still doing a great job. Then there is a need for a really good centre-back who can lead from the back and stabilise everything.”

But one defender he feels the club can rely on is Swedish ace Victor Lindelof, who is blossoming under Solskjaer.

He continued: “Stability is a big thing, especially in the back four. Most of the successful teams are able to play with a solid and stable back line, including the goalkeeper.

“It’s usual with a club like Manchester United that it takes some time for a player to settle in but you can see now that Victor has settled. He’s played a string of games so he’s starting to find his feet and learning what is required to play at this level.

Lindelof is starting to adjust to life in English football well

“He’s done ever so well and even though the defence is still an area where people are critically looking at you need to keep your best players in there.”

Read the full 888sport interview with Rene Meulensteen, including his thoughts on how Pogba is thriving on responsibility and making the difference

Mercedes-Benz to unlock optional tech for a price after cars are bought

31 Jan
2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Seattle media drive, September, 2018Mercedes-Benz will leave the door open to sell owners optional features in its cars even after they've taken delivery. The brand said Tuesday that it will include a new feature within its Mercedes Me application to purchase some features for the A-Class and B-Class small cars and the GLE-Class SUV in Europe after the initial point of sale...

Celtic news: Hoops captain Scott Brown signs two-year contract extension after turning down Western Melbourne move

31 Jan

Scott Brown has reinforced his allegiances to Celtic by signing a two-year contract extension, ending speculation he was set for a move to Australia.

The 33-year-old has been with the Hoops since 2007 and this latest news will see him potentially lead the club to ten consecutive Scottish Premiership titles.

The midfielder, who recently made his 500th Celtic appearance, had taken his time over his latest contract offer after A-League newcomers Western Melbourne made him their priority signing target ahead of their debut campaign.

The former Scotland skipper also reportedly turned down a major offer to move to Dubai and was linked with clubs in the United States.

But the former Hibernian player has opted to continue his long association with the club he joined in a £4.4million deal when Gordon Strachan was in charge.

Brown told Celtic’s official website: “I’m absolutely delighted to have signed this new contract extension.

“Celtic has been such an important part of my life for a long time now, since I joined the club back in 2007, and this really is home for me.

“My focus, as always, will be on doing everything I can to deliver more success to this club in the months and year ahead, and in particular for our wonderful fans, who have given me amazing support from the moment I first pulled on the Hoops.”

 

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba poses with ‘King of Egypt’ Liverpool star Mohamed Salah at Adidas shoot

31 Jan

Manchester United and Liverpool have arguably the biggest rivalry in English football – although it seems Paul Pogba and Mohamed Salah didn’t got the memo, for today at least.

Red Devil Pogba and Reds forward Salah found themselves at a shoot for Adidas, with Pogba sharing a picture of the pair together on Twitter.

The caption of Pogba’s tweet read: “Plotting with the King of Egypt” before tagging Salah in it.

Salah, 26, was with the Frenchman after Liverpool laboured to a 1-1 draw against Leicester at Anfield on Wednesday night.

The result saw Salah and co. extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points following Manchester City’s surprise loss at Newcastle, but Liverpool will feel they should have made it a seven-point gap.

Meanwhile, Pogba and United have been resurgent form despite a disappointing draw at home to Burnley on Tuesday – going nine games unbeaten since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge of the club, winning eight of those.

The 25-year-old scored his sixth goal in eight games during the 2-2 draw in a game which saw United salvage two goals in the final three minutes – Victor Lindelof getting the other.