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The Sports Matrix: Tuesday 7 February 2012

Strauss backs players despite series whitewash

England captain Andrew Strauss said that there will not be wholesale changes to the England side, after a 71-run defeat yesterday ended in a 3-0 series whitewash against Pakistan.

"We have some really good talent in English cricket," Strauss said. "That's a good thing but I still believe that by and large the best players in England are out here in Dubai and the challenge is for them to improve."

England go to Sri Lanka next month for a two-Test series, knowing that they might have lost their No 1 Test status to South Africa by the time the series starts.

"No one has got a right to play for England for ever," said Strauss. "That's patently wrong but I think it's important that we take a bit of time to let the dust settle, start thinking about what went wrong individually and what components the team needs to function properly and win out here."

Strauss had just seen England bowled out for 252, chasing 324 to win the Test and only lose the series 2-1. Alastair Cook and Matt Prior both scored 49 but Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal took four wickets each as England were bowled out cheaply yet again. MORE

Suarez returns to action after ban

Luis Suarez was back on the pitch for Liverpool last night following an eight-game suspension for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra but was unable to inspire the hosts to a win, Tottenham leaving Anfield with a point after a 0-0 draw. MORE

Capello to meet FA to discuss criticism

The England manager, Fabio Capello, is to hold talks with the FA to discuss his criticism of the game's governing body over its decision to withdraw the national captaincy from John Terry ahead of the Chelsea player's trial for racial abuse. MORE

Redknapp's QC attacks tabloid

Harry Redknapp's QC attacked the now defunct News of the World as "despicable" and "repugnant" during the Spurs manager's trial for tax evasion. An interview with the paper forms the centrepiece of the prosecution case against Redknapp. MORE

Abramovich visit adds to pressure

The news that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich visited the club's training ground before the team surrendered a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 at home against Manchester United has added to the pressure on the club's manager, Andre Villas-Boas. MORE

Flood return good news for England

England have been bolstered by the return to fitness of Toby Flood ahead of the Six Nations visit to Italy at the weekend. Outside-half Charlie Hodgson has recovered from the shoulder injury suffered in the victory over Scotland at Murrayfield. MORE

Wales in good Six Nations spirits

Ryan Jones has warned Wales to keep their feet on the ground, despite an opening Six Nations victory over Ireland. Sunday sees Wales hosting Scotland, who Jones says will be "smarting" following their defeat to England at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Contador stripped of 2010 Tour title

Alberto Contador has been banned for two years and stripped of his 2010 Tour de France crown after testing positive for a banned substance. Because the ban is retrospective the Spaniard will be able to return to racing later this season. MORE

Manning inspires Giants' victory

Quarterback Eli Manning and the New York Giants are celebrating a 21-17 Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback, had 57 seconds to mount a drive after the Giants' final score but failed to find the end zone. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

Three years after Fabio Capello's famous win in Zagreb, England are in a state of confusion worse than at any point for years. The direction of the national team has become, yet again, nothing less than dysfunctional. MORE

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