The Sport Matrix: Tuesday 10 December 2013


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The Independent Online

Cook’s future looks rough as captain admits to bad form

Alastair Cook’s future as England captain is in jeopardy after suffering two heavy defeats in the Ashes series, the second a 218-run mauling in Adelaide yesterday morning.

Cook’s diagnosis after the loss included a personal check on his own form – he scored just four runs as England went 2-0 down in the series, with the third Test in Perth beginning on Friday.

“I need to score more runs, we all do,” said Cook. “But there are only so many times you can tell the lads to do it, and if you’re not doing it, it makes it harder. I’m there at the top of the order as a batter, and in the last two games I haven’t been scoring enough runs. I need to go and change that.”

Australia’s captain, Michael Clarke, insists Mitchell Johnson’s turnaround has driven the hosts to turn performances into results after a summer series in England in which he believes his side did not play too badly.

“Mitch has done an amazing job,” said Clarke. “He has always been an X-factor, with bat, with ball, he’s as good an athlete in the field as you’ll see.” MORE

Graham’s drought ends at former club

Hull’s Danny Graham scored against his old club and registered his first goal in 11 months as his side drew 1-1 at Swansea. Chico Flores’ header from a Jonjo Shelvey corner on the hour mark gave the hosts a point after Graham’s early opener, for which he refused to celebrate. MORE

Paisley struggle gives Moyes hope

David Moyes claims “complete responsibility” for Manchester United’s form after suffering back-to-back home defeats for the first time since 2002. Moyes will take hope from his comparable record to former Liverpool manager Bob Paisley, who lost five of his first 16 league games. MORE

FIA changes rules to bring back fans

Formula One will award double points for the last race of the season in an attempt to keep titles undecided until the very end, the sport’s governing body announced yesterday. The FIA said the change would “maximise focus on the championship until the end of the campaign”. MORE

Keane: Fergie can’t let go at United

Roy Keane says Sir Alex Ferguson’s account of their relationship is “nonsense”. In an explosive ITV interview to be aired tonight, Keane claimed that Ferguson is still trying to exert “control and power” at Manchester United.

He said: “Everything is about control and power. He’s still striving for it now, even though he’s not manager. There’s massive ego involved in that.” Signed by Ferguson in 1993, Keane played for United until 2005 when a falling out led to his departure. When asked who the best manager he’d played under was, Keane said: “Brian Clough.” MORE

Ibrahimovic misses out on Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribéry have made the final three for the 2013 Ballon d’Or with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gareth Bale missing out. Messi has won the award four years in a row, but Ronaldo is the favourite to take the prize in January.

Gold departs as Bath restructure

Bath director of rugby Gary Gold has left the Premiership club. The 46-year-old South African took over at the Rec in May 2012, replacing Sir Ian McGeechan. The club said his departure followed a restructure in the rugby department. MORE

Crawford next up for champ Burns

WBO lightweight world champion Ricky Burns will defend his title for the fifth time against unbeaten American Terence Crawford in February. Burns broke his jaw during a draw with Mexican challenger Raymundo Beltran in Glasgow in September.

Celtic ban 128 fans for Fir Park trouble

Celtic have made moves to disband the Green Brigade section at Parkhead after around £10,000 worth of damage was caused to seats at Motherwell. The club have handed “precautionary suspensions” to 128 fans. MORE

Fifa: No Brazil risk

Fifa have moved quickly to play down the risk of violence at the World Cup after fighting halted a match between Atletico Paranaense and Vasco da Gama for more than an hour on Sunday. MORE