McCullum gets apology
New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum yesterday scrapped plans to sue former skipper John Parker after receiving an apology over claims he said attacked his integrity. Parker alleged earlier this month that McCullum, 31, was aware his predecessor Ross Taylor was going to be axed as skipper late last year, despite the batsman’s insistence he knew nothing about the decision. McCullum, who is currently playing in the Indian Premier League, said last week that he would sue Parker for defamation unless the 62-year-old retracted the claims. Parker complied in a statement issued yesterday through McCullum’s lawyers which said he had not meant to imply that McCullum was dishonest or had put his own interests ahead of the team’s.
Pietersen to play in Japan
Rugby World Cup-winning right wing J.P. Pietersen became the second Springbok to sign an overseas contract on Monday when he revealed plans to play in Japan. The 45-cap Coastal Sharks star, who helped South Africa win the 2007 World Cup in France, is set to move to an unnamed club after the Super 15 season and will also play in the competition next year for the Durban franchise. Seeking a “change of environment,” versatile Pietersen, 26, is following in the footsteps of the Western Stormers’ flyhalf Peter Grant, who combines Super 15 rugby with playing for Japanese side the Kobe Steelers. The Northern Bulls said on Monday that Springbok fullback Zane Kirchner would be joining Irish province Leinster on a two-year contract as a replacement for retiring Fiji Test player Isa Nacewa.
Davis knocks Higgins out
Four-time winner John Higgins was knocked out of the World Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield, England, on Monday after a 10-6 defeat at the hands of journeyman professional Mark Davis. Scotland’s Higgins trailed 6-3 overnight and was unable to rescue the match when play resumed on Monday, with the world No. 16 from Sussex in southern England advancing to the second round. Higgins, who won the World Championship in 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011, also lost to Davis at the UK Championship in December. On that occasion, he lost despite producing a maximum 147 break, but this, in contrast, was a flat performance by the Wizard of Wishaw, now aged 37. Higgins was finished off by a brilliant break of 87 as 40-year-old Davis — known as the Battler from Hastings — reached the second round for the third time in his career.