Vaughan in battle for fitness


 A round-up of the other main sports stories of the day.

CRICKET: Michael Vaughan's chances of being fit for the first Ashes Test are growing fainter by the day and the England management are on the verge of calling up replacements as the squad's injury crisis worsens. Vaughan's knee problem will prevent him playing England's next two matches at least. He will miss the two-day match against Western Australia starting today and the earliest he could take the field is against Queensland on November 2nd, five days before the first Test in Brisbane.

The England coach Duncan Fletcher has said anyone not fit for the match against Queensland will not be considered for the Test squad. The all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, meanwhile, has flown to Adelaide to continue his recovery from a double hernia operation and will almost certainly miss the first Test.

It would surprise nobody if England summoned one or perhaps two replacements in the next few days. Craig White, the closest like-for-like cover for Flintoff, is already in Australia - although there are question marks over his fitness to bowl. The England management could also look towards players at the National Academy or even make a long-distance call to Mark Ramprakash.

SAILING: Italian syndicate Prada revived their title defence in the America's Cup challengers series with two wins in wildly variable conditions yesterday. Prada had managed only three wins in their first seven races, but crushed Italian rivals Mascalzone Latino by more than four minutes in a round robin race that had been abandoned four times since the series began three weeks ago.

Skipper Francesco de Angelis then led his crew out for their second race of the day against third-placed Oracle BMW Racing and they triumphed by one minute and 55 seconds over the $85 million campaign backed by software billionaire Larry Ellison.

HOCKEY: St Andrews College, the holders of the All-Ireland Schoolboys Hockey Trophy, made an impressive start to the defence of their title in Cork yesterday when they defeated Raphoe 7-0. Ian Horsfield, with a hat-trick, took the scoring honours for the defending champions.

There were also good wins for King's Hospital, who defeated Kilkeel 3-2, and Wesley College, who beat Bangor Grammar School 4 - 1. Biggest winners on the opening day were Ashton Comprehensive, who scored 10 without reply against Grosvenor.

GAELIC FOOTBALL: Garda scored an 0-14 to 0-9 victory over NYPD to take the John Morley Memorial Cup at Westmanstown yesterday. The NYPD team included three sets of brothers, including Kevin and Michael Meehan, whose brother Damian, a fire fighter in New York, lost his life at the World Trade Centre on September 11th.

Garda played againt the wind in the first half but nonetheless established an early lead through frees from senior club player Niall Guinan.

SCORERS: Garda - D Cryan 0-4; N Guinan 0-4, three frees; K Doherty, M Kiely 0-2 each; C Dunne, C Fitzpatrick 0- 1 each; NYPD - E McCormack 0-5; J McGovern 0-2 (1 free); P McCormack, J O'Riordan 0-1.

DARTS: Ireland's Jack McKenna lines up against Phil Taylor in the second round of the World Grand Prix at the CityWest hotel tonight.

The Newbridge man faces a tough test tonight, as Taylor is a 10-time world champion.