Pietersen left out of England squads

 

SPORTS DIGEST:Kevin Pietersen’s rapid fall from grace was completed yesterday when the controversial batsman was left out of the England squads for the Twenty20 World Cup and the one-day series against South Africa.

Last week the 32-year-old was dropped for the third and final Test against South Africa at Lord’s after having sent “provocative” text messages about his own team-mates and management to opposition players.

England slipped to a 51-run defeat to lose the series 2-0 and concede the number one Test ranking to South Africa.

“Kevin Pietersen’s future involvement is still being determined and he was therefore not considered,” national selector Geoff Miller said as the squads were announced.

The party to face South Africa in five one-day internationals starting in Cardiff on Friday also sees Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad rested ahead of next months World Cup in Sri Lanka. “Stuart has an important period coming up leading our T20 side and we feel a two-week break from cricket is in the best interests of both him and the team,” said Miller.

South Africa 'A' in a hurry to seal victory

South Africa ‘A’ got in some early practise for next week’s Twenty20 series by claiming a six-wicket victory over Ireland in a rain-affected match in Stormont yesterday.

A stop-start day eventually saw the visitors set a target of 96 from 20 overs after play resumed for the final time just before 6pm in Belfast.

South Africa were 19 for one before the almost two-hour delay, but a 48-run stand between skipper Colin Ingram (36) and Dane Vilas (30) for the third wicket brought them to the brink of victory before Stuart Thompson removed them in the space of three deliveries.

South Africa’s bowlers were again on top against an Ireland batting line-up missing all its county players, with James Shannon (32) and Andrew Poynter (28) making the biggest impression with the bat as rain brought an end to their innings on 143 for eight.

Meanwhile, the Ireland women’s team bowled out Bangladesh for just 94 at Phoenix yesterday to record a fine 54-run victory in a one-day international.

EMMET RIORDAN

Nolan claims a golfing gold for Team Ireland

Transplant Team Ireland battled it out yesterday with their greatest golfing rivals, the Finns, at the Seventh European Transplant and Dialysis Games in Zagreb, Croatia securing a gold, silver and bronze medal.

Kildare man James Nolan secured gold in the net competition. The multi-award-winning Kilcullen butcher is celebrating the 25th anniversary since his kidney transplant which he received from his sister.

The Irish took second and third place in the gross competition. Newcomer to the team, Eoghan O’Neill, a kidney transplant recipient from Newmarket-on-Fergus (now living in Limerick), won silver – it was his fourth medal since the Games began. Antrim man John McAleer won bronze.

Maguire begins defence of British Open Amateur title

Leona Maguire launches the defence of her British Ladies Open Amateur title at Shandon Park in Belfast this morning keen to get back on track after a couple of disappointing performances.

The 17-year-old Slieve Russell sensation, who romped home by six strokes at Royal Ashdown Forest last year, only squeezed into the knockout phase of the matchplay championship at Carnoustie in June and then crashed out in the first round and was well below par in the Irish Open at Killen castle.

Her twin sister Lisa has also gone off the boil and will be keen to show a return to form on Irish soil.

The pair form part of a 21-strong Irish contingent for the 72-hole three-day event which includes Muskerry’s Jean O’Driscoll. County Louth’s Deirdre Smith and Gillian O’Leary from Cork are both plus handicappers and could make an impact as could Mary Dowling from New Ross.

Cutis Cup players Amy Boulden and Kelly Tidy could provide the biggest threat to Maguire in her bid to hold onto the crown.

Roche stars in the mountains to move up to eighth overall

Nicolas Roche posted one of the best mountain performances of his career on yesterday’s fourth stage of the Vuelta a Espana, drawing on the final climb of the Estacion de Valdezcaray with former Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and this year’s Tour runner-up Chris Froome and leaving the other general classification contenders behind.

Roche placed a superb fifth on the stage, 55 seconds behind the winner Simon Clarke and improved three places to eighth overall. He will begin today’s flatter stage to Logrono 24 seconds behind the new leader Joaquim Rodriguez.

“I am obviously happy, it was one of the better mountain days that I have had. I rode like there was no tomorrow,” said Roche.

“I got nine seconds on the other contenders, although I was hoping it would be 20.”

Underlining its belief that Ireland’s Dan Martin is a big rider for the future, the Garmin-Sharp team announced yesterday that it has finalised a new deal with the rider which will keep him on board until the end of 2014.

The Irishman, who took three top-10 stage placings in his debut Tour de France, has already been part of the team for the past five years.

“This team feels like family to me,” he said. “After the progression we have achieved together since I signed my first contract, it is the only team where I feel that I can continue to achieve my full potential as a bike rider.”

Team manager Jonathan Vaughters said: “Dan is a champion and we are thrilled that he will continue with us.”

SHANE STOKES

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