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The Sports Matrix: Thursday 30 August 2012

Strauss takes "tough decision" to depart the sport

Andrew Strauss admitted yesterday that it was poor form with the bat which helped force his hand as he announced his decision to step down as England captain.

"It's a very tough decision to make," Strauss said. "But for me the driver to it all was my form with the bat. I haven't batted well for a long period of time and for a captain to perform in his role properly it's important that people aren't speculating as to whether you should be in the side or not."

The 35-year-old, who is retiring from all forms of cricket with immediate effect, will be replaced by Alastair Cook, above, who will combine the position with his captaincy of the one-day side.

England recently surrendered top spot in both the Test rankings and ODI standings to South Africa after home defeats this month – and trail the tourists 1-0 in the current ODI series, with three matches to play. pages MORE

Hooper puts Celtic into group stage

Celtic completed an easy victory over Helsingborgs to reach the group stage for the first time in four seasons. Leading 2-0 from the first leg, Gary Hooper tapped in from an offside position before Victor Wanyama cemented a 2-0 victory, giving Neil Lennon's side a 4-0 aggregate win. MORE

Toffees make it through with ease

Everton coasted into the third round last night, thrashing Leyton Orient 5-0. Kevin Mirallas, scoring twice on his first start for the club, Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe found the net before the interval, with Magaye Gueye grabbing the fifth halfway through the second half. MORE

Arsenal back down over Walcott deal

Arsenal have backed down on the ultimatum handed to Theo Walcott that he must sign a new deal before tomorrow's transfer deadline or risk being sold. The England international has not yet signed a £75,000-a-week deal but has never considered leaving the club. MORE

GB to target one medal every hour

The Great Britain squad has been set the goal of winning a medal an hour if they are to meet their target. "We are quietly confident," said Penny Briscoe, Team GB's performance director. "The expectation is there but we are used to dealing with that pressure." MORE

Djokovic makes light of Lorenzi

Defending champion Novak Djokovic lost his opening game against Paolo Lorenzi in the first round but he went on to record a comfortable 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 win. Andy Murray was due to play his second-round match early this morning. MORE

Konta comes of age with first Slam win

Johanna Konta pledged to take her first Grand Slam victory in her stride after beating Timea Babos in the first round. Asked how she felt after beating an opponent 144 places above her, the Briton replied: "Kind of normal, as I would hope to." MORE

Froome cuts gap in Vuelta a España

Chris Froome closed the gap on Tour of Spain leader Joaquin Rodriguez to 16 seconds yesterday, but Alberto Contador moved into second spot in the classification. "There's everything to play for," Froome said. "It's not over by any means." MORE

Blake and Bolt unlikely to meet

Usain Bolt's agent says the sprinter is unlikely to race compatriot Yohan Blake again until next summer. "People think there should be head-to-heads nine months of the year," Ricky Simms said. "If we do this every week it will devalue the big day." MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

The loss to England of Andrew Strauss is of a captain who understood the nature of the common challenge and who had an even temperament in the most pressing circumstances. MORE

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