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Morgan skips IPL to boost England

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England captain Eoin Morgan

England captain Eoin Morgan

England captain Eoin Morgan

CRICKET: Eoin Morgan's decision to skip this year's Indian Premier League provides some much-needed encouragement for beleaguered England.

A miserable winter of discontent continued on Sunday when the England and Wales Cricket Board's explanation for the controversial end of Kevin Pietersen's international career met with a decidedly mixed public and expert reaction.

Morgan, however, has perhaps helped to start forging the future of "trust" so high on the ECB's agenda – by saying 'no thank you' on this occasion to the riches available at the IPL.

Competition will hot up at the start of this summer to replace Pietersen in England's Test team, and Morgan has made his intentions clear to put himself in the frame.

Morgan played the last of his 16 Tests in early 2012 when he appeared to be the fall guy of England's 3-0 defeat against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

EQUESTRIAN

Cameron Hanley underpinned his dramatic and successful return to the sport when taking the Showjumper of the Year trophy at The Irish Field Awards at The K Club, Kildare yesterday, writes Louise Parkes.

The 40-year-old's career was all but written off following a freak knee injury in 2011. But Hanley made a sensational comeback last year to win the prestigious Grand Prix with Antello Z at Basel in May. He then went on to be part of the winning Irish team at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada and was instrumental in Ireland's team bronze at the final of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup series in Barcelona in September.

British-based Aoife Clark took the Senior Event Rider trophy for her victory with Fenya's Elegance at Blenheim Palace and her silver medal performance with Fernhill Adventure at the Young Horse Championships in France.

Showjumper Bertram Allen claimed the new Gain Horse Feeds/Irish Field Star of the Year Award. The most exciting talent in many years, the 18-year-old is already a formidable force at senior international level even though he was still competing as a Junior when taking individual silver at last summer's European Championships.

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Southampton-based Roland Tong took the Dressage Rider of the Year Award.

CYCLING

Ireland's Sam Bennett was quite literally blown out of the top 10 at the Tour of Qatar yesterday, losing his white jersey as leader of the under-25 classification, as strong desert winds and crashes saw the peloton split into three by the end of the 165km second stage, writes Gerard Cromwell.

Bennett, who began the day in sixth place overall, just 23 seconds behind race leader Niki Terpstra of the Omega Pharma Quickstep team, finished just over seven minutes down on stage winner Tom Boonen of Omega Pharma Quickstep.


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