England coach Flower quits
Andy Flower has quit as England’s head coach following the team’s whitewash Ashes loss in Australia, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Friday. Despite the former Zimbabwe international being in charge of England’s recent 5-0 Ashes series Test drubbing in Australia, the ECB said they wanted to retain his services, while Flower himself said he would remain a selector “for the time being.” Flower, explaining his reasons for standing down, said in an statement: “Following the recent very disappointing Ashes defeat it is clear to me that this is now time for England cricket, led by [captain] Alastair Cook, to rebuild... I do not feel like I am in a position to undertake that challenge.” In December 2012 Flower ceded coaching control of England’s one-day teams to former England spinner Ashley Giles, who has been tipped as his successor with the Test side. Flower said he had come to the conclusion a man in his position needed to be “responsible across all formats.” He had been England’s head coach since 2009. He oversaw three Ashes series victories and guided England to the 2010 World Twenty20 title — the first time they had won a major international limited-overs event. Under Flower, England also rose to the top of the world Test rankings in 2011.
McIlroy leads, Woods toils
Rory McIlroy remains on track to end a 14-month European Tour title drought after shooting a second-round 70 to lead the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday, while world No. 1 Tiger Woods toiled on the Majlis course. McIlroy reached the event’s halfway stage on 11-under 133, having done most of the hard work a day earlier with a first-round 63. He is one shot ahead of Brooks Koepka of the US, who followed his first-day 69 with a 65. Scoring on Friday proved tougher for most players as Thursday’s lush greens dried out under the unforgiving Gulf sun, with the Northern Irishman’s playing partners Woods and Stephen Gallacher shooting 73 and 71 respectively. That left Woods on 141 and defending Dubai champion Gallacher on 137.
Jones, Watson share lead
Australia’s Matt Jones fired his second straight six-under 65 on Friday to seize a share of the second-round lead of the Phoenix Open alongside former Masters champion Bubba Watson. Watson, tied for the lead after a first-round 64, carded a 66 to maintain a share of the lead on 12-under 130. The leading duo were two strokes in front of Australian Greg Chalmers and Harris English, who both posted second-round 67s. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama also shot a 67 to join the group sharing fifth place on nine-under. He was tied with Pat Perez and Kevin Stadler.
Celta edge Granada 2-1
Augusto Fernandez scored a late winner as RC Celta de Vigo beat Granada 2-1 in La Liga on Friday. Celta coped with Granada’s initial momentum and then took the lead in the 28th minute when midfielder Rafinho floated a cross to the far post for Gustavo Carabel to head home. Granada struck back in the 41st minute when Youssef El-Arabi rose high to head home a corner. With a draw looking likely, Celta struck on the counterattack with just two minutes to play. Michael Krohn-Dehli’s cross into the penalty area was deflected by goalkeeper Roberto and Augusto reached the loose ball first to poke it under the goalkeeper for the winner. Celta moved one point ahead of Granada into 11th place before the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.