The Sport Matrix: Wednesday 29 May 2013


Defiant Cook defends his tactics after series victory

Alastair Cook launched a spirited defence of his captaincy after England completed a resounding series win over New Zealand. Although Cook, right, led his team to a 247-run victory in the second Test against New Zealand at Headingley to complete a 2-0 triumph, it was overshadowed by questions about strategy and tactics.

Rarely can such an overwhelming win have been accompanied by such a muted chorus of approval. Two players, Cook and Joe Root, scored centuries for England, their 25th and first respectively, and Graeme Swann became the first spinner for 41 years to take 10 wickets in a Headingley Test.

“I think the result vindicates the decision [not to ask New Zealand to follow-on],” Cook said. “There is no doubt about that. To win by 250 runs is a good win and in just effectively over three days’ cricket. It was an outstanding performance. Tactically we thought the wicket was only going to get worse. We wanted a bit more time for footholes for Swanny to get a bit deeper with the left-armers bowling at us.” 

Tuilagi playing catch-up for Lions

England centre Manu Tuilagi accepts that his late arrival with the Lions tour party leaves him playing catch-up. “You just have to be on your game the whole time here,” he said as the squad arrived for Saturday’s opening tour match, against the Barbarians in Hong Kong. MORE

Watson delayed as Baltacha is blitzed

Heavy rain delayed Heather Watson’s opening French Open match until today, while fellow Briton Elena Baltacha hardly enjoyed better fortunes. The 29-year-old lost her first-round match against New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic inside an hour, going down 6-3 6-0. MORE

Cole confusingly named captain

Chelsea pair Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard were both named captain for England’s match with Ireland tonight after a confusing day at the Football Association. Cole will lead the team out to celebrate his recent 100th cap, but will cede media duties to Lampard. MORE

Trapattoni keeps gaze on qualifier

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has insisted next month’s World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands is more important than tonight’s visit to Wembley. “Our aim is about the Faroes,” the Italian stressed. “I have to preserve the energy for the Faroes.” MORE

Dettori’s Derby place in jeopardy

Frankie Dettori faces missing Saturday’s Derby after renewed talks with French regulators failed to secure the return of his licence. Dettori’s team remain optimistic matters will be resolved, although maybe not in time for the weekend. MORE

Hamilton content to focus on races

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has insisted he will not allow the furore over the team’s tyre testing to affect his displays. “That’s for the team to worry about,” he said. “I just have to focus on myself and try to get my s*** together.” MORE

Martinez embarks on long goodbye

Roberto Martinez yesterday began his departure from Wigan Athletic, and will enter discussions with Everton over their managerial vacancy. The Spaniard led Wigan to the FA Cup this month, before being relegated to the Championship. MORE

Phillips: Holloway has learnt lessons

Kevin Phillips says Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway has learnt from his top-flight spell with Blackpool as he prepares to return to the Premier League. “[He] will have learnt from his Blackpool days,” Phillips said. “Maybe they were a bit too gung-ho.” MORE

Obscure sports hope to make cut

From rollersports to climbing and wakeboarding to wushu, eight sports today hope to make the IOC’s shortlist to join the Games ahead of a September vote. i’s Robin Scott-Elliot assesses their credentials.

Opinion: James Lawton

Now it is comfortable to believe there will no scarring when England host Ireland tonight at Wembley, but manager Roy Hodgson is surely right to put every England fan on guard. MORE