Last Update: March 26, 2019 - 4:00 pm
Last Update: March 18, 2019 - 2:30 pm
Last Update: March 26, 2019 - 4:00 pm
Last Update: March 26, 2019 - 4:00 pm
Paul Nicholls primes big guns for Aintree but Frodon earns long break
Paul Nicholls primes big guns for Aintree but Frodon earns long break

• Chance of no National runner for first time since 1995
• Warrior’s Tale could go in shorter Topham Chase

Frodon, whose victory under Bryony Frost brought the feelgood factor to the Cheltenham Festival, has done enough for the season and will not be seen again until autumn, Paul Nicholls said on Tuesday. The trainer is determined to hold on to his lead in a title race battle with Nicky Henderson and could have used Frodon at Aintree next week or Sandown later in the month but prefers to give the horse a long break, and also indicated he may be without a runner in the Grand National for the first time since 1995.

Nicholls said: “Frodon’s had five hard races and every time he gives an awful lot, and Bryony is injured as well. So it didn’t give me too many options, bar Sandown on the last day and I don’t really want to go there with him.”

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The Spin | Gambling on captain Cameron may prove light-bulb moment for Durham
The Spin | Gambling on captain Cameron may prove light-bulb moment for Durham

Cameron Bancroft has never played for Durham but in 1998 Somerset took a punt with Jamie Cox and never looked back

Cameron Bancroft is not the first Australian to be made captain of a county cricket club he has never represented. In 1998 Somerset were in a similar quandary to Durham this spring. They were casting around for a captain as counties so often do because it is such a difficult job to fill satisfactorily.

In contrast to the majority of team sports the captain in cricket is much more than a titular post. He is the key man, who makes the most important decisions – in between clocking up vital runs and wickets – and the best coaches understand that. It is no coincidence that only one sport has triggered a publication entitled The Art of Captaincy and that is cricket. Mike Brearley’s book was published in 1985 and despite the advent of Twenty20, slower-ball bouncers and all those highly paid coaches it remains a source of wisdom to any aspiring captain, something to read on the long flight from Perth, perhaps.

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Latest Mankad incident splits opinion in cricket world
Latest Mankad incident splits opinion in cricket world

  • Shane Warne brands Ravi Ashwin ‘disgraceful’
  • Mitchell Johnson and Dean Jones offer support

It’s the manoeuvre that polarises opinion like no other whenever it rears its head, so it was little surprise the latest execution of a Mankad, performed by Ravi Ashwin to dismiss Jos Buttler in an IPL game, sparked fierce debate among the cricket community.

The controversial tactic involves the bowler checking his run up to take off the bails at the non-striker’s end with the backing-up batsman out of his crease. Named after the brilliant Indian all-rounder Vinoo Mankad, the run-out is technically legal but widely considered to be against the spirit of the game.

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Callum Hudson-Odoi dazzles in the limelight on his first England start
Callum Hudson-Odoi dazzles in the limelight on his first England start

The Chelsea teenager was unplayable at times against Montenegro – England have yet another gem on their hands

There was a period of this contest when Callum Hudson-Odoi was unplayable. Panicked Montenegrin defenders crumpled to the turf as he swerved beyond them at pace, the winger leaving a trail of markers floored in his wake. This was his stage, that jaw-dropping spell at the start of the second half seized as an opportunity to showcase lavish talent. It is baffling to contemplate that this was a player yet to make a Premier League start.

No wonder he is coveted by Bayern Munich and no wonder Chelsea are so eager to retain his services, their contract offer likely to be improved in the months ahead as they try to convince him to commit. Three times the full debutant had darted away from Filip Stojkovic or left Adam Marusic or Mirko Ivanic dazed and confused. Twice he picked out Raheem Sterling at the far post with pinpoint accuracy, stretching opponents whose early lead had been such a deception. He darted infield himself on the third occasion, feigning to shoot to tip defenders off balance and eke out that extra yard of space, before skimming away a shot which Danijel Petkovic did well to turn behind for a corner.

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How baseball owners came to value profits over World Series titles
How baseball owners came to value profits over World Series titles

MLB rules state that players must give their best to achieve victory. If only the same could be said for those who run the game

Gio Gonzalez isn’t a star, but he’s been a reliable starting pitcher for nearly a decade. The kind MLB teams sign during free agency, because it’s worth diving in early for dependability. At least, it was that way once: Gonzalez recently signed a minor-league deal with the New York Yankees, because it was the only contract offer the 33-year-old received all offseason.

How is it that Gonzalez was still available in mid-March, days before the 2019 season began? For the same reason Mike Moustakas signed one-year deals in consecutive offseasons despite being a dependable, league-average bat, for the same reason mega free agents like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado had to wait by a phone that wasn’t ringing: because not enough MLB teams are trying to win.

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Why David Beckham is desperate to keep Inter Miami out of the suburbs
Why David Beckham is desperate to keep Inter Miami out of the suburbs

The former England captain wants his team to play in downtown Miami, as soccer in North America markets itself as an urban game

First, David Beckham’s MLS franchise, then unnamed, were to play in PortMiami, not far from the downtown home of the NBA’s Miami Heat. Then, the plan was to fill in a boat slip near Museum Park. After that, two more sites were suggested, one next to baseball’s Marlins Park and another out by Miami International Airport, and then two more sites, one in Overtown and another, again, out by the airport.

Despite all this, despite the numerous sites identified and analysed, Inter Miami, as they have now been christened, still don’t have a permanent home. That means they will play their first two MLS seasons at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, a 45-minute drive from downtown Miami. Beckham made the announcement in front of an overgrown wasteland at the former home of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The Fyre Festival jokes were irresistible.

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Trouble for Scotland, joy for England and Wales hang on – Football Weekly
Trouble for Scotland, joy for England and Wales hang on – Football Weekly

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Marcus Christenson and Faye Carruthers discuss Scotland’s woes, Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick, Wales hanging on to beat Slovakia, contrasting fortunes either side of the Irish border and good footballer names

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

We look back at the weekend of football just gone, starting with Scotland’s 3-0 defeat in Kazakhstan, which they followed up with a 2-0 win over San Marino, getting themselves booed off at the end.

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Simone Biles looks ahead to Tokyo 2020 positively after Larry Nassar abuse scandal – video
Simone Biles looks ahead to Tokyo 2020 positively after Larry Nassar abuse scandal – video

Simone Biles believes US gymnastics is moving in a positive direction after the ‘dark place’ it found itself in a year ago following a sex abuse scandal.

The 22-year-old, winner of a record-equalling four gold medals at the Rio Olympics, was one of more than 100 gymnasts who said they were abused by the former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was jailed last year.

Speaking ahead of the Superstars of Gymnastics event taking place in London on Saturday, Biles revealed Tokyo 2020 will ‘definitely’ be her last Olympics – but said first she must get selected.

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The Fiver | Adding insult to injury, Alex McLeish hasn't been sacked
The Fiver | Adding insult to injury, Alex McLeish hasn't been sacked

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Shortbread McFiver woke up at 5.05pm on Sunday on a San Marinian strada. The Fiver’s increasingly problematic stereotypical cousin from north of Brexitland had spent the previous evening sampling Scazzottata, the grappa-flavoured diesel beverage (EN 590 standard, €1.20/l at Agip), his head was sore, and he was irritated to discover that he’d missed the first four minutes of Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifier with the enclaved microstate in which he’d just met the brand new day. “Jings, crivens and other words popularised by DC Thomson,” he cried, realising that Kenny McLean had already opened the scoring with a deft header. “At least this is the worst I’ll feel all day.” Oh Shortbread!

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Messi, Matty Taylor, Lewis Hamilton and commentators gone wild | Classic YouTube
Messi, Matty Taylor, Lewis Hamilton and commentators gone wild | Classic YouTube

This week’s roundup also features a wild miss in Germany, scary racing from Southwell and Rustu Recber

1) Why settle for just 50 hat-tricks, when you can score a 51st of this quality? Lionel Messi’s treble last Sunday against Real Betis was concluded by using his left foot as a pitching wedge. Mention must also be made of Luis Suárez’s assists for the second and the goal he scored. But could Messi’s left peg ever match the majesty of Matt Taylor, the former Luton Town, Portsmouth, Bolton Wanderers, West Ham United, Burnley, Northampton Town and latterly Swindon player, who announced his impending retirement last week, and scored some fantastic goals in his time, including this one? OK, but still.

2) Eintracht Braunschweig beat SV Meppen in the Bundesliga 3 last weekend, but only after this spectacular contrivance of misses. That surely makes them a contender for a future edition of Nick Murray Wills’s excellent series of animated Bundesliga commentaries. You’ll find loads more on his YouTube page.

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The Spin | How a pencil hitting a cigar box jazzed up early TV coverage of the Ashes
The Spin | How a pencil hitting a cigar box jazzed up early TV coverage of the Ashes

Hans Pomeranz’s thinking helped bring Test highlights to Australia and ignited his distinguished film career

When Hans Pomeranz died in 2007, the Sydney Morning Herald’s obituary described “a force in Australia’s film industry”. Born into a Jewish family in Enschede, Netherlands, in 1938, he survived the second world war in an orphanage and, later, by masquerading as the son of a Protestant minister. At the end of the conflict he and what remained of his family – his sister is believed to have died at Auschwitz – were reunited and emigrated to Australia, where he went on to secure an apprenticeship at a film laboratory. He became, in time, an editor of considerable renown, the husband of the film critic and television presenter Margaret Pomeranz, and in 1964 he set up his own editing company, Spectrum Films. His company flourished and continues to do so: with his eldest son, Josh, now in charge it describes itself as “the pre-eminent post production facility in the Australasian region” and in recent years has been used in producing major films including The Matrix, The Great Gatsby and Wolverine.

Related: Ashes could herald new era for Tests with names and numbers on shirts

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Liverpool stay in Europe, handball chat and Berwick Rangers – Football Weekly Extra
Liverpool stay in Europe, handball chat and Berwick Rangers – Football Weekly Extra

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Philippe Auclair and Faye Carruthers discuss Liverpool’s impressive win in Munich, Juve heroics, sad news out of Berwick and changes to the handball law. Oh, and Barry explains Brexit

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

We look back at the last few days of football, starting with Liverpool’s 3-1 win at five-time European champions Bayern Munich, completing a set of results which mean that this is the first year without German representation in the last eight of the Champions League since 2006.

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Which football players have also turned their hands to art? | The Knowledge
Which football players have also turned their hands to art? | The Knowledge

Plus: people changing their name for football; real-life football on the big screen (2); and did they ever use a real hat for the FA Cup draw? Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU

“Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida played in goal for Real Sociedad, and former Chelsea keeper Petar Barota was an abstract artist. Have any other players had artistic tendencies?” tweets UrbanGriller.

“Surely one of the most unusually named players in Port Vale’s long history is ceramic designer Lucien Boullemier,” writes Rob Fielding. “The son of French ceramic artist Antonin Boullemir, he originally moved to the Potteries to, well, work in the Potteries! He was signed by Stoke City before joining Port Vale in 1897, but retired in 1903 to move to the US. He resumed playing in the States, turning out for Philadelphia Hibernian. He returned to the UK in 1905 and had spells with Northampton Town and a return to Port Vale. Back in the Potteries he produced a range called Boumier Ware, which is highly sought after.”

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The ballad of Joe Hart – a Da Vinci code of England angst | Barney Ronay
The ballad of Joe Hart – a Da Vinci code of England angst | Barney Ronay

All good purges require a bad guy but Joe Hart deserves better than to be remembered as a punchline to the good times

Remember the bad old days of English exceptionalism? Remember the golden generation, the way England’s footballers seemed to collapse and wither in the tournament sun, running through heavier air?

Remember David Beckham, sitting behind Fabio Capello in Bloemfontein in his Victorian undertaker’s suit as England were devoured by Germany, stroking his whiskers in mute confusion and looking all the while like a very clever, very handsome cartoon water vole who lives in a mansion and wears a watch-chain and is only just this moment realising he shouldn’t actually be able to talk or stand up or drive his motor car?

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Tony McCoy was wrong: Cheltenham Festival ride did need investigation
Tony McCoy was wrong: Cheltenham Festival ride did need investigation

The mayhem in the National Hunt Chase advanced the cause of those who want the jumps banned

Justice has been done,” the trainer Philip Hobbs said on Thursday after Declan Lavery, who was banned for 10 days after finishing third on Hobbs’s Jerrysback in last week’s National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham when the stewards decided he had continued on the horse when it had no more to give. And indeed it has, with the appeal panel deciding that Jerrysback did have more to give, as he showed by fighting back for third place having been headed on the run-in.

For some, though, this decision will also be seen as supporting the view that Lavery suffered a gross injustice at Cheltenham, a view shared by Sir Anthony McCoy among others when he described the original verdict as “an absolute disgrace”, “indefensible” and “as bad a decision” as he had seen “in 25 years in racing”. Having watched the closing stages of the race countless times on Thursday morning and from a range of angles that were not available to McCoy or anyone else who criticised the Cheltenham stewards’ decision, I have to disagree.

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