The Sport Matrix: Monday 6 January 2014


Cook ‘desperate’ to lead the rebuilding of England side

England captain Alastair Cook said he was “desperate” to be given  the chance to lead the rebuilding of the side after the shambolic 5-0 Ashes defeat  to Australia.

In the immediate aftermath of only England’s third Ashes whitewash defeat in history, previous captain Nasser Hussain questioned whether Cook (above) was the right man to lead the side in the future, but the hierarchy at the England and Wales Cricket Board is convinced he should spearhead the necessary rebuilding job.

England’s latest defeat was as pitiful as it was inevitable. Australia needed just 31.4 overs to bowl out the tourists for 166 in Sydney to complete a 281-run victory. Dejected as he was, Cook remains determined to stay in charge.

“I’ve been given the vote of confidence by the board,” he said. “I’m desperate to turn it around and feel I’m the right man. I’ve always said it’s down to results. If I feel my position is not justified for the amount of runs I score, I’ll resign. I’m very proud to be England captain. It is a huge honour.” MORE

Swansea dump United out of Cup

Manchester United’s troubled season reached a new low yesterday as they were beaten 2-1 at home in the FA Cup third round by Swansea City, Wilfried Bony scoring the late winner. Chelsea had no such problems, easing through with a 2-0 victory at Championship Derby. MORE

Portugal mourn the great Eusebio

The game was in mourning last night following the death at the age of 71 of the Portuguese great Eusebio. The 1965 European Footballer of the Year won the European Cup with Benfica as well as 11 league titles and 64 caps for Portugal. MORE

Biddlecombe passes away at 72

Three-time champion jump jockey Terry Biddlecombe died yesterday at the age of 72. He landed the Gold Cup in 1967 and rode a total of nine Cheltenham Festival winners. He also trained Best Mate to successive Gold Cups. page 46

Forest inflict more Hammers misery

Nottingham Forest thrashed an injury ravaged West Ham 5-0 in the FA Cup third round yesterday to keep the heat on Hammers manager Sam Allardyce. Jamie Paterson scored a hat-trick. Elsewhere, Liverpool overcame a spirited Oldham Athletic side 2-0 at Anfield. MORE

Gibson score gives Leicester late draw

Jamie Gibson scored a last-minute try to secure a 27-27 draw for Leicester at Bath yesterday. The visitors led at the interval but were pegged back to remain in third place in the Premiership, while Leicester are fifth, level with Quins.

Sunderland win as Argyle force draw

Sunderland were made to work by a stubborn Carlisle before winning 3-1 and claiming a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Port Vale and Plymouth must meet again next week after the Pilgrims fought back from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw at Vale Park. MORE

Wasps come Goode when it matters

A late drop goal from Andy Goode took Wasps above Exeter in the Premiership table as Dai Young’s side ran out 19-16 victors at Adams Park. Exeter were 13-3 ahead at the interval before Joe Simpson went over ahead of Goode’s late intervention. MORE

Opinion: Sam Wallace

If all Mark Clattenburg did in response to being sworn at was book Adam Lallana (left) and offer the opinion that the player had changed, then it shows that at least one person had not lost his sense of humour. MORE

Walcott injury may force Arsenal to buy

Arsenal will today learn the extent of the knee injury suffered by Theo Walcott in Saturday’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Tottenham. The forward’s likely absence, along with injuries to strikers Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner, could force manager Arsène Wenger into the transfer market. MORE

Hewitt shocks Federer in Brisbane

Lleyton Hewitt put down a marker ahead of his home Grand Slam as he beat Roger Federer to win the Brisbane International. Hewitt, 32, overcame the Swiss 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 for his first title since winning at Halle four years ago – against Federer.