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The Sport Matrix: Wednesday 05 February 2014

Pietersen England career brought to premature end

The England career of Kevin Pietersen came to an end last night, with the outspoken 33-year-old told by the ECB that he was no longer required following the recent ill-fated tour of Australia.

The South-African born player, who top-scored in the Ashes tour and has played over 100 Tests for his country, was pushed out ahead of the upcoming tour to the West Indies and next month’s World Twenty20 in Bangladesh – a tournament he helped England win four years ago.

The decision comes at the end of a shattering winter for English cricket, which saw the Ashes meekly surrendered, Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann return home early and Andy Flower (above) quit as coach.

“Clearly, this was a tough decision,” England’s new managing director, Paul Downton, said. “Kevin has been an outstanding player, as the fact he is the country’s leading runscorer in international cricket demonstrates.”

Pietersen looked back on his career with fondness: “Although sad the incredible journey has come to an end, I’m hugely proud of what we have achieved over the past nine years.” MORE

Laudrup sacked by struggling Swans

Swansea City last night sacked manager Michael Laudrup, who led the club to League Cup glory last season. The Welsh outfit, though, currently sit just two points off the relegation places and club captain Garry Monk is in charge for Saturday’s match with arch-rivals Cardiff. MORE

Miller’s late show flattens Fulham

Further misery was piled on the Premier League’s bottom side as Fulham were beaten 1-0 by League One Sheffield United in an FA Cup fourth-round replay at Craven Cottage. Shaun Miller’s header from close range at the end of extra time took the Blades into the fifth round. MORE

Matic: Mourinho prepared us well

Nemanja Matic says Chelsea’s win at Manchester City on Monday was the result of some fine tactical planning by manager Jose Mourinho. “To play in a game like this, he prepared us very well,” he said. “Everyone knew what they were meant to do, which is why we got the result.”

Fletcher drafted into United squad

Manchester United have added midfielder Darren Fletcher to their Champions League squad, following his recovery from ulcerative colitis. The Scot missed the group matches before Christmas but returns for the knockout rounds, with new signing Juan Mata ineligible.

Rowntree: Scrum to blame for defeat

England forwards coach Graham Rowntree is of no doubt who was to blame for last Saturday’s defeat in France. “I’m not happy with the scrum,” he said. “Again. I’ve been looking a lot at what happened and we can’t have it.” MORE

Warburton returns to captain Wales

Sam Warburton will resume his Wales captaincy against Ireland in the Six Nations this weekend, despite playing just 15 minutes of rugby in the last two months. Justin Tipuric drops to the bench, while Alex Coombes and Gethin Jenkins also come in. MORE

Christie just wants to get her skates on

Speed-skater Elise Christie will be glad when the Games finally start. “It’s the anticipation of waiting,” the Scot said. “You wait so long. It gets close and you just want to get out there. It is probably the most nervous you get. I want to come back with no regrets.” MORE

Man-made snow ‘a big danger’

US skier Gus Kenworthy says man-made snow on the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park course  needs to warm up in Sochi, in order to make the course safer. “In terms of danger, it’s big,” he said. “The problem is ice – hopefully it warms up and gets softer.”

Wiggins makes peace with Froome

Sir Bradley Wiggins has insisted that he has buried the hatchet with Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome. “I feel very positive about our relationship,” he said. “And I’m looking forward to racing with him.” MORE

Stephen Brenkley

Kevin Pietersen was the leading scorer for England in the Ashes but it was clear he was unsettled. Sometimes, he was disciplined to the point of self-denial; others cavalier to the point of recklessness. MORE

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