Thursday 23 November 2017

Cricket: Ashes rivals show their ruthless side

England and Australia have both taken ruthless decisions in their quest for the Ashes with the home side dropping an opening batsman in Nick Compton and the tourists sacking their coach Mickey Arthur.

With 15 days to go before the series starts at Trent Bridge it was clear evidence that both countries will do what they think it takes.

There is always a phoney war leading up to the most resonant contest in the sport but it does not usually claim such significant casualties so quickly.

Australia struck first early yesterday by announcing that Arthur, coach for the last 18 months, was being removed to be replaced by the former Test batsman Darren Lehmann. Former Yorkshire left-hander Lehmann (43), who departs as coach of Australia 'A', takes charge immediately.

Hours later, England jettisoned Compton and promoted Joe Root as Alastair Cook's partner at the top of the order.

Although the squad announced was for the warm-up match against Essex next week, not the first Test, there is no way back for Compton.

SIMMONS HAS FULL DECK FOR QUALIFIERS

IRELAND will be at full strength for next month's World Cup qualifiers in the Netherlands, with all seven county professionals included in a 14-man squad named by coach Phil Simmons.

Victory in one of the two games in Amsterdam should be enough to secure a place at the 2015 World Cup finals, to be held in Australia and New Zealand, but Simmons wants his table-toppers to win their final four games against the Dutch and Scotland.

"These matches are the most crucial we'll play this year," Simmons said. "I want the team to finish strongly with four wins."

Of the county pros, only George Dockrell, of Somerset, is available for the four-day InterContinental Cup game in Deventer that precedes the qualifiers, with three-time winners Ireland close to securing a place in the final for the fourth time in five attempts.

Kevin O'Brien will captain the four-day side, with impressive young wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter retaining the gloves after his spirited half-century against Australia A in Belfast.

squads in factfile

KATIE TAYLOR will fly out to Keszthely, Hungary on Friday ahead of her first major outing since winning gold at the Olympics.

The Bray woman will be aiming for her fifth successive title at the EU Senior, Youth and Junior Championships in Keszthely.

The IABA have named a 26-strong squad for the tournament. The group will arrive in Hungary on Sunday ahead of Monday's opening bouts.

Taylor's coach and dad Pete is taking no opponent for granted.

"Whoever is sitting on the opposing stool is the biggest threat," he said. "All Katie's opponents raise their games against her."

Irish Independent

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