Sport

There was, for the first time in his Test career and perhaps his life, a moment’s hesitation in Ben Stokes. He had come off the field after taking 6 for 99 in his fourth Test match and was asked if he relished the fray.

The secret life of the beard

To mark the dramatic return to form of the manly growth, as sported by England's David Beckham, Katy Guest explores the history of facial hair

Andrew Strauss: 'You don't have to be mates, but as a team we stuck together'

Divisions in the squad, crushing lows, champagne moments... the Middlesex batsman has had a torrid reign as England captain. As his touring squad is announced today, he tells Robin Scott-Elliot why the biggest test is yet to come

Pietersen admits to contract doubts

Kevin Pietersen believes other players may follow Andrew Flintoff in opting not to sign central contracts in the future.

Forthright Flintoff underlines his commitment to England

All-rounder points to the pain he endured in the Ashes as an example of his dedication to his country's cause, reports Robin Scott-Elliot

Strauss warning to England's under-achievers

Captain Andrew Strauss today provided a veiled warning that England's one-day team are playing for their futures at the Champions Trophy.

Flower: KP may not make SA tour

England coach Andy Flower admits Kevin Pietersen may miss this winter's tour of South Africa as the former captain makes a slower than expected recovery from surgery on his Achilles.

Harmison still wants England chance

Steve Harmison wants to continue playing for England. The Durham pace bowler missed out on a central contract last week but he is still hoping to be picked for the four-Test series of South Africa which begins in December.





Swann's struggling to stop England sinking to new low

There are 13 one-day internationals in England next summer. It is understood that queues will not be forming around the block to attend, though it might get interesting if England lose the first 12.

On the Front Foot: Freddie can go and take a running jump if England do not come first

There were two memorable performances by Andrew Flintoff at Lord's this summer. The one everybody recalls is his momentous bowling spell in the Second Test against Australia.

Cook fuels Essex's promotion drive

Round-up

Mike Gatting plays down Andrew Flintoff snub

Former England captain Mike Gatting has played down the implications of Andrew Flintoff's decision to reject an ECB contract in favour of becoming a freelance player.

Freelance Fred opts to chase game's riches

Andrew Flintoff's decision to turn down England's offer of a one-day contract opens the door for other players to follow suit

England fret over Flintoff and Pietersen

There are issues of much greater concern to England than being 4-0 down in a one-day series against Australia. Were it to become 5-0, as seems probable in Nottingham tonight, or even 7-0 by the time the interminable round of matches is apparently complete in Durham on Sunday, it would matter hardly a jot compared to the continuing uncertainties about the side's two most influential players.

Andrew Strauss calls for improvement

England captain Andrew Strauss has challenged his players to prove they are matchwinners in the absence of stars Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen.

Collingwood: England peaked before ODIs

For England, amid an interminable one-day series, a grim truth has begun to dawn. This season was about recapturing the Ashes. Nothing else mattered, nothing else came close.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there