Ponting applauds Watson
Captain Ricky Ponting believes all-rounder Shane Watson could replace retired opening batsman Justin Langer in Australia's Test side. Phil Jaques and Chris Rogers are widely considered to be the most likely candidates to step in for Langer but Watson, a key figure in Australia's one-day team, may also come into consideration. "We've got some excellent competition for quite a few spots in the side," Ponting told reporters at a training camp in Queensland yesterday. "The opening batting is probably the one that has been the most spoken about over the past few months." Watson usually competes with Andrew Symonds for the all-rounder's spot in the Test team but both could play if the former moved to the top of the order.
Bangladesh skipper Mohammad Ashraful is confident his team can reach the second round of the Twenty20 World Cup, emulating their performance in the one-day version of the tournament earlier this year. Bangladesh face hosts South Africa and West Indies in the group stage of the 12-team championship to be played from Sept. 11 to Sept. 24. "We've done it once," he said yesterday. "Naturally we are confident that we can do it again." In March, Bangladesh stunned India in the group phase of the World Cup in the Caribbean to reach the Super Eights round, where they also beat South Africa. "We need to win just one game to go into the next stage and I think it is very much possible," said Ashraful, whose aggressive batting style is ideal for the shortest version of the sport.
Kevin Tkachuk out of Cup
Prop Kevin Tkachuk will miss the Rugby World Cup after breaking his leg in Canada's last buildup game. He was replaced on Monday by Canada's youngest ever international, flyhalf Nathan Hirayama. Tkachuk had scored a try and was barreling toward another when someone landed on the back of his leg in Saturday's 40-10 win over the Newfoundland Rock. Tests revealed the Glasgow Warriors player broke a bone in his fibula and will be on crutches for up to five weeks. Tkachuk, capped 42 times since 2000 including the 2003 World Cup, said missing the tournament in France hadn't hit him yet.
Solskjaer set to retire
Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who scored the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final, is reportedly set to retire because of persistent knee problems. The 34-year-old Solskjaer, who played almost half his games as a substitute during 11 years at United, has struggled with injury for four years and is quitting after several short-lived comebacks. British papers reported that Solskjaer, who has not played since last season's FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea, would announce his retirement yesterday.
■ AUTO RACING
Owner pleads guilty
A NASCAR team owner pleaded guilty in Los Angeles, California, on Monday to defrauding the US government of more than US$34 million in taxes. Gene Haas, the 54-year-old owner of Haas Automation and NASCAR's Haas CNC Racing, agreed to pay a fine, back taxes and interest totaling more than US$70 million, the US Attorney's office said. Haas pleaded guilty to a felony charge for launching a plan to list bogus expenses that could be written off as business costs and save Haas Automation millions in taxes. Haas was scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 5. Prosecutors recommended he serve two years in federal prison and six months probation.