Daily Mail


- By IAN LADYMAN @Ian_Ladyman_DM


HIS team may have lost a typically bad-tempered Border-Gavaskar series but Smith remains a burgeoning talent with the bat. The Australian captain’s trio of tons in India means he is only the second skipper to achieve such a feat there in a single series. The other was Alastair Cook.


FINALLY it looks as though the RFL have got the balance of their competitio­n right and this season looks set to be the most open for years. Before last night’s games, little Castleford sat top of the table with Salford third and last year’s Grand Finalists Warrington stranded dead last. It’s still hard to see past Shaun Wane (above) and his formidable Wigan side for the title, mind you.


THE monthly football bible can be a little dry at times but full marks for saying it like it is. Under a heading ‘Cheats Still Prosper’ the magazine pointed out that the two great Champions League stories of the first knockout stage were written with the help of clear dives from Leicester’s Jamie Vardy and Barcelona’s Luis Suarez (above). Now the excitement has settled, it is hard to argue.


THE Arsenal chairman refused to get into detailed discussion­s about Arsene Wenger’s future, saying only that a season that had started well had become rather disappoint­ing. ‘Football is a very uncertain game,’ he said. Arsenal fans will know that the opposite is actually true. There is nothing more certain than an Arsenal season beginning well and then petering out when the gig gets serious.


THE Stoke striker remains in denial about the drug test he failed last year, claiming his drink was spiked on a night out. ‘Nobody protected me at my old club,’ he says of West Bromwich Albion. Well, if you forget about all those people who kept the story under wraps for weeks — even when people were asking questions — then yes nobody protected him at all.


INTERNATIO­NAL fixtures in March are contentiou­s enough for club managers. So there is little point having friendlies to follow competitiv­e games, as Martin O’Neill’s (above) Republic of Ireland side did against Iceland. A friendly warm-up for a World Cup qualifier is OK. A friendly as, well, just a friendly really is not.

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