The Sport Matrix: Monday 6 December 2014


Saturday 06 December 2014 01:00

Leader Donald dodges an ape of good hope

Luke Donald raced to the top of the Nedbank Golf Challenge leaderboard yesterday after a round which featured nine birdies and one baboon.

The Englishman fired a nine-under par 63 to go two shots clear of the field but admitted the brush with the monkey had given him a scare.

Donald, 34, said: “He didn’t really pay any attention to me in the end but it gave me a bit of a fright when Shane [Lowry, his playing partner] said, ‘Watch out!’ They are big and strong and you wouldn’t want to mess with them, that’s for sure.

“So I got well out of the way. I jumped pretty high.”

Returning to the more prosaic question of his score, he added: “It’s been a while since I’ve gone really low. I’ve been seeing some signs of improvement in the last few weeks and some rounds in the mid to high 60s, but obviously nine birdies is something I was very pleased with.”

Overnight leader Ross Fisher stayed in contention with a round of 70 and now sits two behind Donald – with the same gap back to Frenchman Alexander Levy.

Young players have to make mistakes

At some clubs there is a climate of fear around the selection of young players. It starts with the manager, working on such a short-term basis he is afraid to select academy players because he feels pressure to win games. Academy coaches are under pressure to produce players to perform the moment they step into the team. They have to be allowed to make the same mistakes as any player.

Cole relishing fight for England place

Dan Cole admits he faces a challenge to force his way back into the England team, 10 months after his last appearance. “I have to start playing to a standard where I make myself selectable,” the Leicester prop said. “From there, it’s the competition that drives people on.”

Captain Morgan seeks batting form

Eoin Morgan hopes his temporary spell leading the England ODI side will have a positive impact on his form with the bat. “I always enjoy captaining the side,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s fourth ODI with Sri Lanka. “It gives you another string to your bow. It also takes attention from your batting thoughts throughout the game. Maybe it will contribute to me getting some runs.”

Martinez: Everton are due a bit of luck

The Everton manager, Roberto Martinez, believes his side are due a change of fortune as they struggle to replicate last season’s form. “We have been unfortunate,” the Spaniard said ahead of today’s trip to Manchester City. “At times we haven’t been able to take advantage or we’ve been punished when the game becomes more open. Too many 50-50s are going against us.”

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