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Author Archive for Rob Smyth

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England v West Indies: day-night Test at Edgbaston, day two – live!

2.21pm BST

95th over: England 359-3 (Cook 158, Malan 34) A wide half-volley from Roach is driven emphatically for four by Malan, down on one knee. That was a beautiful stroke. Cook then feels for a good awayswinger, aborting his stroke just before it whistles through to the keeper.

“Someone elsewhere has mentioned that the reason why there were fewer people in the ground last night is that train timetables haven’t been changed,” says Richard O’Hagan, “so for some people the only option was to leave at 8 or they wouldn’t have made it home.”

2.16pm BST

94th over: England 354-3 (Cook 158, Malan 29) Cook inside-edges Holder into the leg side for the first run of the day, and then gets a thick edge along the ground for the first boundary of the day.

“After yesterday’s OBO and the comments from colour-blind people, like me, I was keen to see the Channel 5 highlights (memo to your sports desk, the highlights are at midnight, not 7pm – someone forgot to tell the people who do the Big Paper layout),” begins John Starbuck. “There were times when I could infer where the ball was but not actually see it, especially when it went out to the deep, where a fielder picked it up and threw it back. All very like the tennis game towards the end of Blow Up. Maybe it heralds a new kind of Virtual Cricket?”

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Celtic v Astana: Champions League play-off first leg – live!

6.49pm BST

Celtic (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Bitton, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest, Rogic, Sinclair; Griffiths.
Substitutes: Armstrong, de Vries, Benyu, Ajer, McGregor, Ralston, Miller.

Astana team to follow

12.36am BST

Good evening. With the possible exception of u, nothing compares to European nights in Scotland. The atmospheres are like something from the 1980s, cacophonous and entitlement-free. It’ll certainly be an ear-splitter at Celtic Park tonight, as Celtic try to take out the Kazakhstan champions Astana for the second year running.

Celtic needed an injury-time penalty to win the third qualifying round match between the sides a year ago, and that was with home advantage in the second leg. Astana, in the best traditions of crack eastern European teams (sic), are formidable at home and a bit useless away, so Celtic will want a decent win tonight: 4-2, 3-1, 2-0 and 1-0 would all be acceptable.

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Celtic v Astana: Champions League play-off first leg – live!

6.49pm BST

Celtic (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Bitton, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest, Rogic, Sinclair; Griffiths.
Substitutes: Armstrong, de Vries, Benyu, Ajer, McGregor, Ralston, Miller.

Astana team to follow

12.36am BST

Good evening. With the possible exception of u, nothing compares to European nights in Scotland. The atmospheres are like something from the 1980s, cacophonous and entitlement-free. It’ll certainly be an ear-splitter at Celtic Park tonight, as Celtic try to take out the Kazakhstan champions Astana for the second year running.

Celtic needed an injury-time penalty to win the third qualifying round match between the sides a year ago, and that was with home advantage in the second leg. Astana, in the best traditions of crack eastern European teams (sic), are formidable at home and a bit useless away, so Celtic will want a decent win tonight: 4-2, 3-1, 2-0 and 1-0 would all be acceptable.

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A youth spent star??ing at the ZX Spectrum 128k | The Fiver

In today’s Fiver: Celtic begin their Big Cup campaign, Nigel Clough summons the spirit of Brian and Jesé Rodríguez raps

Big Cup’s back then. After three qualifying rounds that were largely ignored by those who shape the narrative, things went up a notch last night with the start of the play-offs. What a season it’s going to be: MORE British clubs, MORE noise, MORE stories that are described as “narratives” to make them sound grander than they actually are, MORE of Jake Humphrey’s smart-casual banter, just … MORE. There could be as many as six British teams in the draw for the group stages, and the good news is that all six of them are going to win it! Let’s all have a disco!

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Barcelona v Real Madrid: Spanish Super Cup, first leg – live!

9.35pm BST

33 min A classic through pass from Iniesta finds Alba, who crosses low first time towards Messi at the near post. The alert Kovacic slides in to concede a corner.

9.33pm BST

32 min Suarez tries to run the last man Varane, who deals smoothly and calmly with the danger. France have a disgusting amount of young talent, don’t they.

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Manchester United v West Ham United: Premier League – live!

3.36pm BST

In the early game, Spurs got their title challenge off to a solid start with a 2-0 win at Newcastle. You can read about it here.

Related: Newcastle United 0-2 Tottenham: Alli and Davies strike after Shelvey red – as it happened

3.29pm BST

Pre-match reading

Related: Mourinho ‘on fire’ at Manchester United in bid to maintain second-season habit

Related: Joe Hart: ‘I want to be an England goalkeeper playing for West Ham’

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The scariest Test England ever played: terror at the hands of West Indies

In 1986, England went to the Caribbean fancying their chances. After Patrick Patterson inspired a brutal first Test thrashing, a 5-0 defeat was inevitable

Graham Gooch’s specialist subject is West Indian pace bowling. He is probably the leading authority on what it was like to face the four horsemen of the apocalypse. From 1980 to 1995, when the West Indies dominated Test cricket, nobody scored more runs against them than Gooch, and only Allan Border faced more deliveries. Gooch also played the greatest innings of all time, 154 not out at Headingley in 1991. It is worth listening, then, when he says that only once in his career did he feel unsafe: Friday 21 February 1986 at Sabina Park, the first day of a much anticipated series, and the start of a weekend festival of chin music.

England had a bespoke batting line-up full of men who didn’t understand the concept of pain, yet they were still brutalised inside three days. It was horror bingo: they had to contend with a corrugated pitch, a low sightscreen, an umpire with a laissez-faire attitude towards bouncers and the volcanic pace of the debutant Patrick Patterson. “It was the first time,” said Gooch, “I’d ever really got the whiff of danger in the nostrils.”

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Brighton v Manchester City: Premier League – live

6.01pm BST

32 min De Bruyne smacks the free-kick into the wall.

6.01pm BST

31 min Stephens takes a needless shortcut through Silva 25 yards from goal. It’s another free-kick in a good position for De Bruyne, slightly to left of centre.

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Watford v Liverpool: Premier League – live

11.47am BST

Some more pre-match reading

Related: It’s the season of … what to expect in the Premier League in 2017-18

Related: New Sky thinking: how the Premier League revolution was televised | Scott Murray

11.35am BST

Watford (4-2-3-1) Gomes; Janmaat, Kaboul, Britos, Holebas; Doucoure, Chalobah; Amrabat, Cleverley, Pereyra; Okaka.
Substitutes: Pantilimon, Prödl, Femenía, Watson, Capoue, Richarlison, Gray.

Liverpool (4-3-3) Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Substitutes: Karius, Klavan, Gomez, Milner, Grujic, Solanke, Origi.

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As Roland-Jones showed us, it’s rotation that makes the sporting world go round | Rob Smyth

England’s cricket selectors need to follow Alex Ferguson, whose tinkering helped him get the best out of his Manchester United stars on the big occasions

In Fight Club, his incendiary rumination on the existential thrill of being punched in the gob, David Fincher does a spectacular job of skewering the “Ikea nesting instinct” that lives in most of us. One quote has always stayed in the Spin’s mind. After his condo is burned down – by himself, the daft bugger, but he doesn’t know that yet – Ed Norton’s character tells Brad Pitt: “When you buy furniture, you tell yourself: ‘That’s it, that’s the last sofa I’m gonna need. Whatever else happens, I’ve got that sofa problem handled.’”

Cricket teams are constructed in a similar way. We have the same nesting instinct, to build a team piece by piece. It came to mind again after Toby Roland-Jones’s wonderful debut at The Oval. Whatever else happens, England have got that backup third-seamer problem handled.

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Arsenal v Sevilla: Emirates Cup friendly – live!

4.14pm BST

“Hey Rob,” says JR in Illinois. “What’s with these 4:20 kickoff times? Don’t they know people have other things to do at 4:20?”

You don’t wanna know, believe me.

4.13pm BST

Some pre-match reading that has absolutely nothing to do with this game

Related: Manchester United poised to complete Nemanja Matic signing from Chelsea

Related: Liverpool fans and Shrewsbury plans signpost way ahead for safe standing | Amy Lawrence

Related: Lee Bowyer: ‘My life has changed – I don’t need to justify myself to anybody’

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England v South Africa: third Test, day two – live!

11.28am BST

65th over: England 183-5 (Stokes 27, Bairstow 0) This is tremendous Test cricket. It would, I might humbly suggest, be a very good time for one of Stokes, Bairstow or Moeen to show that they can also make 250-ball hundreds.

Meanwhile, a good stat from Shane Warne on Sky: Morkel has dismissed Cook 10 times in Tests, more than anybody else.

11.24am BST

He’s out! It was hitting the top of the bails, umpire’s call, and that’s enough for South Africa. Cook was batting very deep in his crease, perhaps because he was bounced out by Morris in the last Test, and that meant the ball didn’t have so far to travel. That’s a huge wicket. It was a good delivery from Morkel, cutting back from around the wicket, and Cook pushed defensively around his pad as he jumped back in his crease.

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England v South Africa: third Test, day two – live!

11.28am BST

65th over: England 183-5 (Stokes 27, Bairstow 0) This is tremendous Test cricket. It would, I might humbly suggest, be a very good time for one of Stokes, Bairstow or Moeen to show that they can also make 250-ball hundreds.

Meanwhile, a good stat from Shane Warne on Sky: Morkel has dismissed Cook 10 times in Tests, more than anybody else.

11.24am BST

He’s out! It was hitting the top of the bails, umpire’s call, and that’s enough for South Africa. Cook was batting very deep in his crease, perhaps because he was bounced out by Morris in the last Test, and that meant the ball didn’t have so far to travel. That’s a huge wicket. It was a good delivery from Morkel, cutting back from around the wicket, and Cook pushed defensively around his pad as he jumped back in his crease.

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England v Spain: Euro 2017 – live!

6.57pm BST

England are unchanged after thrashing Scotland 6-0 in their opening game. Spain make one change from the team that beat Portugal 2-0, with the right wing-back Marta Corredera replacing Mariona Caldenty.

England (4-2-3-1) Bardsley; Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes; Moore, Scott; Nobbs, Kirby, White; Taylor.

2.57pm BST

Hello there. It’s already been a landmark day for women’s sport in this country, with England’s cricketers winning a sensational World Cup final against India at Lord’s. BREAKING NEWS: ENGLAND ARE WORLD BLOODY CHAMPIONS!

Now it’s time for the footballers to take on Spain at Euro 2017. Both sides won their opening games in Group D and will probably qualify for the quarter-finals regardless of what happens tonight. But beating a fellow contender in the group stages never hurt anyone’s morale.

Related: Toni Duggan: ‘I’m not thinking about Barcelona. Hopefully we’ll smash Spain’

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England v Spain: Euro 2017 – live!

6.57pm BST

England are unchanged after thrashing Scotland 6-0 in their opening game. Spain make one change from the team that beat Portugal 2-0, with the right wing-back Marta Corredera replacing Mariona Caldenty.

England (4-2-3-1) Bardsley; Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes; Moore, Scott; Nobbs, Kirby, White; Taylor.

2.57pm BST

Hello there. It’s already been a landmark day for women’s sport in this country, with England’s cricketers winning a sensational World Cup final against India at Lord’s. BREAKING NEWS: ENGLAND ARE WORLD BLOODY CHAMPIONS!

Now it’s time for the footballers to take on Spain at Euro 2017. Both sides won their opening games in Group D and will probably qualify for the quarter-finals regardless of what happens tonight. But beating a fellow contender in the group stages never hurt anyone’s morale.

Related: Toni Duggan: ‘I’m not thinking about Barcelona. Hopefully we’ll smash Spain’

Continue reading…

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England v Spain: Euro 2017 – live!

6.57pm BST

England are unchanged after thrashing Scotland 6-0 in their opening game. Spain make one change from the team that beat Portugal 2-0, with the right wing-back Marta Corredera replacing Mariona Caldenty.

England (4-2-3-1) Bardsley; Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes; Moore, Scott; Nobbs, Kirby, White; Taylor.

2.57pm BST

Hello there. It’s already been a landmark day for women’s sport in this country, with England’s cricketers winning a sensational World Cup final against India at Lord’s. BREAKING NEWS: ENGLAND ARE WORLD BLOODY CHAMPIONS!

Now it’s time for the footballers to take on Spain at Euro 2017. Both sides won their opening games in Group D and will probably qualify for the quarter-finals regardless of what happens tonight. But beating a fellow contender in the group stages never hurt anyone’s morale.

Related: Toni Duggan: ‘I’m not thinking about Barcelona. Hopefully we’ll smash Spain’

Continue reading…

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Arsenal v Chelsea: pre-season friendly – live!

12.06pm BST

Arsenal (3-4-2-1) Ospina; Maitland-Niles, Mertesacker, Monreal; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Xhaka, Bramall; Ozil, Iwobi; Lacazette.

Chelsea (3-4-2-1) Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Pedro; Batshuayi.

11.10am BST

Hello madam, hello sir. July is the happiest month to be a football supporter. There’s no real football, but that’s kind of the point. Your team’s record signing is yet to banjax a penalty into Row FFS; nobody has stomped down the tunnel after a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to West Brom; no one on TV is using the phrase “on social media” as if they are about to discuss the grave findings of a year-long judicial review into historic corruption.

It’s the time when hope and optimism replace mope and cynicism. Today, Arsenal and Chelsea both continuing preparations for their title-winning 2017-18 campaigns, and whatever happens in the next few hours won’t change that. The best and worst thing about this match is that it means absolutely nothing. Enjoy it, because soon things will get very, very, very, very important – and not just when we look at what people are saying on social media.

A dark family secret comes to light when a girl deliberately runs over a woman on a pedestrian crossing, and the result of an internal inquiry board is revealed.

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England v South Africa: first Test, day three – live!

11.16am BST

72nd over: South Africa 222-5 (Bavuma 48, Rabada 16) Rabada is quite stylish for a lower-order batsman, with a hint of Stuart Broad in his Garry Sobers days (see the last paragraph here). Stokes hits him on the collarbone with a terrific bouncer from around the wicket; Rabada times the next ball beautifully through mid-on for four. This is an excellent duel between two players who don’t like each other. I don’t think there have been any words between them yet.

11.12am BST

71st over: South Africa 217-5 (Bavuma 48, Rabada 12) A wide grubber from Wood to Bavuma hits Bairstow on the shin, forcing him to hop around in pain. Joe Root shows that captaincy won’t change him that much by failing to stop a fit of the giggles. That was a lovely moment of infectious, affectionate schadenfreude. There is a hint of reverse swing for Wood, with Bavuma digging out an inswinging yorker. Another maiden continues a good start from England.

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Football transfer rumours: Tottenham target Adrien Silva and Carles Aleñá?

Today’s gossip does not have a light

The Mill loves the smell of gossip in the morning. How better to start a new day than with that fresh, invigorating, hopeful, malodorous, fetid, putrid, fecal scent wafting up our freshly tweezered snout. It’s true that 95% of football tittle-tattle makes us retch, but it’s worth the pain and suffering for the 5% of rumours that turn out to be true.

There is something persuasive and thrilling, for example, in the suggestion that Liverpool want to sign Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal, thus prompting all kinds of banter-based hilarity about Arsenal being a feeder club. Chelsea and Manchester City have also set up an RSS feed for Oxlade-Chamberlain.

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England v South Africa: third T20 international – live!

2.35pm BST

1st over: England 4-0 (Roy 4, Hales 0) Chris Morris, whose rage brought South Africa back into the series on Friday, bowls the first over. This is a fresh pitch with a striking green tinge, so this might be a decent toss to win. Crikey, Roy has been dropped third ball. He slogged the ball miles – miles – in the air towards fine leg, so much so that the cameraman had no idea where the ball was. The keeper Mosehle ran 30 yards to get there, only for it to burst through his gloves. I know this because of the magic of action replays.

2.12pm BST

Some pre-match reading

Related: Pink balls at night may not be every batsman’s delight | Vic Marks

Related: Tom Curran determined to build on confident start in England decider

Related: Heather Knight the first of four run-outs as India shock England in opener

Related: Steve Harmison: ‘I didn’t want the public to know about my depression’

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