The Sports Matrix: Friday 7 December 2012


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The Independent Online

'Unflappable' Cook praised for record tally of centuries

Alastair Cook was showered with praise after becoming the first England batsman to score 23 Test hundreds yesterday.

The 27-year-old set another landmark figure by becoming the youngest player from any country to score 7,000 Test runs, during the second day of the third Test against India in Kolkata.

Cook, pictured, was unbeaten on 136 yesterday with England 216 for 1, trailing India by 100.

"Unflappable is a good way to describe him," said Nick Compton, who made his first 50 in a 165-run stand with Cook. "He's tough. There's not a huge amount said in the middle but I feel like I've got a really good bond with him."

Geoffrey Boycott said Cook's feat of breaking the 73-year-old record for England centuries was inevitable. "I don't think it'll be such a big deal to him, to pass Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, myself and Kevin Pietersen," said Boycott. "He's going to get a lot more unless he suffers some serious illness or injury."

Sir Ian Botham said: "He's 28 on Christmas Day and every day is like Christmas Day for him at the moment." MORE

Wood to start for Northampton

After excelling for England against New Zealand, Tom Wood has been handed a start for Northampton in tonight's Heineken Cup match with Ulster. Courtney Lawes will also be in the starting pack. MORE

Watson to shine

Clinching the Japan Women's Open title has given Heather Watson, 20, confidence heading into 2013. And Albert Hall billing with Tim Henman shows her growing status, says Paul Newman. MORE

Newcastle suffer defeat in Bordeaux

Newcastle relinquished their unbeaten record in this campaign's Europa League as they suffered a 2-0 defeat away at Bordeaux, with Cheick Diabaté scoring in each half. Bordeaux win Group D, while Alan Pardew's side qualify for the knockout phase in second place. MORE

Spurs progress after fight back

Tottenham reached the round of 32 in the Europa League after beating Panathinaikos 3-1 at home last night. Emmanuel Adebayor put Spurs ahead, before Zeca equalised for the Greek side. An Orestis Karnezis own goal and a late Jermain Defoe effort sealed victory. MORE

Henderson seals Liverpool victory

Jordan Henderson scored his first European goal as Liverpool defeated Udinese 1-0 away to reach the next round. Henderson's low drive in the 23rd minute ensured Brendan Rodgers's side finished top of Group A, qualifying with Russians Anzhi Makhachkala. MORE

Euro 2020 to be held across Europe

Uefa has announced that the 2020 European Championship will be held across Europe and Wembley will hope to host the final. Decisions on the cities used for the 24-team tournament will be made in 2014. Uefa said the tournament would be a "Euro for Europe". MORE

Drogba coughs up for Chelsea dinner

Didier Drogba last night hosted a dinner in a London hotel where he gave his Chelsea team-mates from last season's Champions League final victory individual rings to commemorate the win – at what is thought to be a cost of about £800,000. MORE

PSG line up £5m bid for Evra

Manchester United are set to be tempted by a £5m bid from Paris St-Germain for defender Patrice Evra, who is said to be interested in playing for the club. PSG, though, may consider a move for Manchester City's Gaël Clichy if the Evra move fails. MORE

Cuts threatened over youth target

Sport England has warned it will cut funding to certain sports if they fail to meet participation targets. London 2012 helped increase overall numbers playing sport, although there was no growth in the 16 to 25-year-old age range.

Adlington clears air with Sparkes

Rebecca Adlington has held talks with British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes following her recent criticism of the governing body. A further meeting involving senior swimmers has been set in place for early next year.