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.
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.
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.
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.
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first