News The tone in the Sky Sports commentary box these days is like a dressing-room banter free-for-all

The first session of the First Test has often proved a pivotal passage of play in Ashes series Down Under. Even the first ball; Steve Harmison’s wide to second slip in 2006, or Michael Slater smashing Phil DeFreitas through cover point for four in 1994. It tends to “set the tone”, as the pundits like to say – and the tone in the Sky Sports commentary box these days is like a dressing-room banter free-for-all.

Cricket: Atherton earns his moment of joy

New Zealand 124 & 191 England 383 England win by innings and 68 runs: SECOND TEST: England's trouncing of New Zealand by an innings and 68 runs takes embattled tourists into welcome territory

Cricket: Atherton unlikely to adopt a bold strategy

SECOND TEST: Caddick strives for recognition but Silverwood is ruled out as New Zealand look to turn defiance into attack

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Derek Pringle studies the double life of England's singular success on tour

Botham inspires Irani to make recovery

Cricket

It's just not cricket: Botham Jnr sells his soul to rugby

The name is the same, but not the game. Liam Botham may be a chip off the old block but he is still his own man. There was no way that he could have emulated the feats of his father, former England Test cricket all-rounder Ian Botham, who singlehandedly, and in one bound, won the Ashes when Liam was just four years old, in 1981.

Sri Lanka approach Lamb

Allan Lamb, the former England batsman, is being targeted by Sri Lanka to run their international sides.

Cricket: Simpson slams English game

The former Australian coach Bob Simpson has hit out at the standard of English cricket and cited Ian Botham as one of the components in its decline.

Presenting the Sixes and Sevens XI

Simon O'Hagan selects a side to look back in anguish

Lord Donaldson calls for jury research

Research into how juries reach their verdicts was last night demanded by Lord Donaldson, the former Master of the Rolls, following the failure of Ian Botham and Allan Lamb's libel action against Imran Khan and the acquittal at a trial in Liverpool of four women accused of criminal damage after an attack on a British Aerospace Hawk jet.

Imran's 'humiliation and denigration of Botham'

Imran Khan, the former Pakistan cricket captain, "lashed out" at Ian Botham because he was horrified by the publicity given to his own confession of ball-tampering, the High Court was told yesterday.

Imran offers public apology to Botham

Imran Khan changed his tune again yesterday and admitted that his defence - a plea of justification - had failed. The dramatic climbdown came on the ninth day of the High Court cricket libel trial, as the real battle between England and Pakistan got under way at Lord's.

Cricketers' wives tell how charge of racism has upset family life

Emotions were running high on the seventh day of the Imran Khan libel hearing yesterday. There was laughter and tears as the wives of Allan Lamb and Ian Botham stepped into the witness box to stand by their men - followed by a hush as George Carman, QC, delivered a rousing speech to the jury.

Hammond under the microscope

BOOK OF THE WEEK

Reverse swing ball stumps QC in cricket libel case

CLARE GARNER

Khan v Lamb and Botham; Botham steps up to crease for libel battle

Ian Botham played a straight bat against his cricketing rival Imran Khan as he stood in the dock yesterday afternoon, denying that he was a racist and a ball-tamperer. The jury was well briefed on the lingo and aerodynamics of the game. Charles Gray QC, representing Mr Botham and Allan Lamb, delivered an ABC guide to cricket - even though he admitted that his definition of a twelfth man was wide of the mark.
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