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.

Illingworth blames 'irresponsible' play

"We blew it" was the response of England's chairman, Ray Illingworth, to his side's 10-wicket defeat yesterday in the fifth Test against South Africa, which brought with it a 1-0 defeat in the series.

Sky's team still has much to learn about coping with a dull day

Sporting history was made yesterday. For the first time in 120 years of winter tours, it was possible to spend Boxing Day at home watching live Test cricket. This is the third time Sky has televised the Christmas Test, but the other two both took place in Melbourne, so you had to go without sleep to see them.

Taylor takes pleasure in double delivery

Andrew Baker speaks to a woman who plays for England at cricket and football

FOOTBALL: Mansfield look for Daley bread

On the face of it, even Mansfield Town would admit that their registration of former Olympic champion Daley Thompson smacks of a publicity stunt to rival Ian Botham's dalliance with Scunthorpe.

how to be an End-to-Ender

A Harrier Jump Jet whizzed from Land's End to John O'Groats in 49 minutes, which is hardly fair competition. On the ground, the journey across Britain from north to south, or vice-versa, has been travelled by eccentric transport - a penny-farthing, a motorised bath-tub and scores of old bikes - while an endless procession of walkers follows in the footsteps of Dr Barbara Moore, who endlessly tramped across Britain. Today's End-to-Enders have an extra achievement in mind - raising cash. Ian Botham did it on a grand scale, raising pounds 800,000 for leukaemia research.

how to fly a chopper

Next time you're stuck, fuming, in yet more traffic mayhem, cast your mind upwards to those elite beings in helicopters, buzzing, high in the sky above us.

All square, so it's over to the Oval

The final act of this summer's cricket drama will unfold on a perfect stage. Simon O'Hagan reports

Dear Ian Botham

Why would a swashbuckler at the wicket want a job as a whipping post? Resign now before it's too late

What the papers said about . . . Dominic Cork

"Three balls that shocked the world." Today

Fate bails out all-round hero

Stephen Brenkley reports on a curious incident that helped England's cause

Women hit 250 years and a car on the A281

Robert Winder watches as the women's game celebrates its quarter- millennium with a match on Bramley Common

Free spirit aiming to haunt his old mentor

Cricket: England will be leaning heavily on Yorkshire's Darren Gough this season. He spoke to Martin Johnson

Beefed-up rugby, and plenty to beef about

Sport on TV Giles Smith
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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee