Wednesday 27th May
Good morning! Here’s what made the cut today…
Rugby Union England hooker Dylan Hartley may miss the World Cup warm-up games – and even the tournament itself – after being cited for an (admittedly very gentle) headbutt during Northampton’s Premiership semi-final defeat to Saracens. The disciplinary hearing is today.
Tennis Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic all cruised through to round two of the French Open, but Eugenie Bouchard, last year’s semi-finalist, and Grigor Dimitrov both lost. Sixth seed Bouchard is on a spectacular run of bad form: she has won only three matches since the Australian Open quarter-finals in January.
Football Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has been named the League Managers’ Association manager of the year, having led the Cherries into the top flight for the first time in their history. West Ham qualified for the Europa League by finishing top of the fair play league. Abel Hernandez has been charged by the FA for his disgraceful punch on Phil Jones.
Formula One Former F1 team Marussia will face no action from the Health and Safety Executive over the 2012 crash at Duxford Airfield, Cambridgeshire, in which test driver Maria de Villota lost her right eye. De Villota died a year later, aged 33, from what a doctor said was “a consequence of the neurological injuries she suffered” in the crash.
THE BIG STORIES:
1. England appoint Bayliss
Yes, within 24 hours of the ECB announcing they were in “exclusive talks” with their “preferred candidate”, they agreed terms with Trevor Bayliss. The 52-year-old will take over in June ahead of the first Ashes Test on 8 July, becoming the first Australian to coach England.
Is he the goods?
As we outlined in Sportcut yesterday, Bayliss has mainly been chosen for his one-day pedigree, ahead of the home World Cup in 2019. He took Sri Lanka to the finals of the 2011 World Cup and the 2009 World Twenty20, led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles, and won Australia’s Big Bash with Sydney Sixers. He has an excellent relationship with England assistant coach (and current caretaker) Paul Farbrace, who was his assistant at Sri Lanka. And players seem to like him, too. “He is fantastic with the boys, especially the younger guys,” gushed Mahela Jayawardene. “He will allow the players to express themselves.”
Any flies in this ointment?
Some worry that Bayliss never played Test cricket; others that his free-flowing, expressive approach may clash with captain Alastair Cook’s conservative, safety-first ways. But all in all, the cricketariat seem happy with this appointment. How they’ll feel if England succumb to a consecutive Ashes whitewash is another matter…
2. Sacking madness
The football league season is barely over, and already the managers’ heads are rolling. What’s surprising this week, though, is the calibre of the candidates getting the chop – and how ruthlessly they’re being dismissed.
Carlo Ancelotti was sacked by Real Madrid yesterday, having committed the cardinal sin of not winning La Liga. Steve McClaren was axed from Derby, despite having taken the Rams to the Championship play-off final last year and finishing within a point of this season’s play-offs. And Nigel Clough got the boot from Sheffield United, because apparently reaching the semi-finals of both the Capital One Cup and the League One play-offs just wasn’t good enough. But the real madness has taken place at Watford.
What’s going on there?
The Hornets have just won automatic promotion to the Premier League, finishing second in the Championship under the stewardship of Slavisa Jokanovic. But contract talks between club and manager have broken down, and Watford are now looking to replace the Serb with Quique Flores. Jokanovic was the club’s fourth manager of the season – Flores, if he signs, will be their fifth in ten months – and has a win percentage of more than 50% since arriving in October. He is, statistically, Watford’s best ever manager. Shut the door on your way out, mate.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I found it was a little edgy on his part. There is nothing else I have to say at this point. I think a lot of players know him; I did not know him. I know him now.”
– Tennis player Maxime Hamou was far from impressed with Jerzy Janowicz’s extremely vigorous handshake at the end of their four-set match in Paris
1. Will the king be deposed?
Rafael Nadal has just begun what may turn out to be the most riveting of his 11 French Open championships. Dogged by injury, seeded sixth, and with the prospect of a quarter-final against Novak Djokovic, the nine-time champion will have to dig deeper than ever if he wants to retain his title. Can he do it?
2. Rugby’s absentees
“In most sports, players tend to retire after a World Cup. Rugby union has a worrying trend of retirements accumulating just before.” Why? Because many players, particularly those from the Pacific Islands, cannot afford the trip. Two Tongan players have already pulled out; others are expected tofollow. (Paywall)
3. Captain concentration
“When you meet a brilliant performer – whatever the field – they almost always have an air of calmness and simplicity.” And as the first Test against New Zealand ebbed and flowed, England skipper Alastair Cook “was the same player throughout. His tempo and body language found equilibrium.” From Ed Smith: the importance of Captain Concentration.
Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk play Sevilla in the Europa League final. Worcester take a 29-28 lead into the second leg of their Championship play-off final with Bristol.
A social media storm kicked off this week when Preston’s hat-trick hero Jermaine Beckford threw his shirt into the crowd, and a woman appeared to pinch it off a small boy. The shirt then popped up on Gumtree for the bargain price of £1,500. Beckford, though, has come to the lad’s rescue: the striker will present him with a signed shirt, and he’ll get a free stadium tour.