Sat, Jul 19, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Sport Briefs

AGENCIES

■CRICKET

Pattinson gets shock call-up

Former roof tiler Darren Pattinson was set to make his England debut after being named in the side to play South Africa in the second Test against England at Headingley yesterday. Pattinson, who has appeared in just 11 first-class matches, wasn’t in the original squad for this match and nor was he even the first reserve. But, having been called up as cover for James Anderson on Thursday, the 29-year-old swing bowler was included in the team. Anderson was passed fit but left-arm quick Ryan Sidebottom, who suffered a back strain during the drawn first Test at Lord’s, was omitted. All-rounder Andrew Flintoff was recalled for his first Test in 18 months at the expense of the out-of-form Paul Collingwood in the other change to the England team.

■SOCCER

Silva leaves Arsenal

Brazil midfielder Gilberto Silva has left Arsenal to join Panathinaikos. The former Gunners captain, who was a key member of the team that went unbeaten through the 2003-2004 Premier League season, cost the Greek team a transfer fee reported to be about £1 million (US$2 million). Panathinaikos announced it signed a three-year deal with Silva on Thursday. The Brazilian thanked about 1,000 fans who gathered to greet him on Wednesday at Athens International Airport. The 31-year-old Silva ends a six-year spell with the north London club, with his departure continuing manager Arsene Wenger’s policy of ditching older players.

■RUGBY UNION

Super 14 chiefs mull revamp

The heads of Rugby Super 14 said yesterday they wanted to expand the finals of the championship from a top-four to a top-six play-off series from next year. The board of SANZAR, representing the three nations included — South Africa, New Zealand and Australia — said it would put forward the proposal to those countries for consideration. They also discussed ideas for an overhaul of the competition’s structure when Super Rugby is revamped — possibly from as early as 2010 — to expand the tournament from its current 14 teams. Argentina, Pacific island nations and Japan have been linked to an expanded Super Rugby and Tri-Nations format. Australian Rugby Union boss John O’Neill said the US was also in the mix for a Super Rugby franchise. “The first step next year is the expanded play-off finals series and perhaps as early as 2010 you could see an expanded Super Rugby competition,” he said. O’Neill said separate playing conferences within the Super Rugby competition would also be possible as the competition expanded, while the format of the six team play-offs is still being discussed.

■SOCCER

Gunmen free Yobo’s brother

Gunmen released the kidnapped younger brother of Nigeria soccer player Joseph Yobo on Thursday. Rivers State police spokeswoman Rita Inoma-Abbey said Norum Yobo, who was seized on July 6 in the oil hub town of Port Harcourt, was reunited with his family late on Wednesday. Inoma-Abbey had no details about the circumstances of the release or whether a ransom had been paid. Norum was expected at police headquarters in Port Harcourt yesterday to assist with investigations, she said. Joseph Yobo played for Everton last season and is a regular on Nigeria’s national team. Everton said on its Web site that Joseph Yobo was in Nigeria with his brother but was expected to return to England on Monday to begin preseason training.

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