In Brief

Sport shorts: support grows for four-day cricket Test matches and Saracens chairman Nigel Wray retires

Ten things from the world of sport on Thursday 2 January

1. Support grows for four-day cricket Tests 

New Zealand’s cricket board has joined England and Australia in supporting the introduction of four-day Test matches. 

The Daily Telegraph exclusively reports that the International Cricket Council (ICC) is proposing scrapping the five-day format to “create more space in the calendar and ease the workload of players”.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White told the Telegraph: “Given the congested schedule, four-day Tests demand serious consideration in order for us to accommodate an increasingly packed calendar - ICC world events, bilateral arrangements, and domestic leagues.”

The BBC says the England and Wales Cricket Board “cautiously” supports four-day Test matches while England captain Joe Root told Sky Sports: “I think there’s a place for it in the game - I do, whether that’s across the board or can it be flexible?”

2. Archer a doubt for Cape Town 

After losing the first Test match by 107 runs England will look to draw level in the series against South Africa when the second Test begins tomorrow at Newlands in Cape Town (8.30am GMT daily start, live on Sky Sports). 

England, who have not won in Cape Town since 1957, could be forced to line up without Jofra Archer. The fast bowler is an injury doubt after missing training because of a sore right elbow. 

3. Wray retires as Saracens chairman 

English rugby union giants Saracens are planning for a “fresh start” after owner Nigel Wray decided to retire as chairman with immediate effect. 

In November Saracens were given a 35-point deduction and fined £5.36m for breaching league salary cap regulations. 

In a statement Wray said: “As we enter a new year, a new decade, it is time for the club to make a fresh start. The Wray family will continue to provide the required financial support to the club.”

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4. Reds look to increase lead

Premier League leaders Liverpool face Sheffield United tonight knowing that victory will see them build a 13-point advantage at the top of the table. Jurgen Klopp’s men are already more than halfway through an invincible league season. Tonight’s match at Anfield kicks off at 8pm and is live on BT Sport 1. 

5. Jordan hails ex-NBA chief Stern

David Stern, who was the NBA’s commissioner for 30 years from 1984 to 2014, has died at the age of 77. NBA legend Michael Jordan said: “Without David Stern, the NBA would not be what it is today. He guided the league through turbulent times and grew the league into an international phenomenon, creating opportunities that few could have imagined before.”

6. Snakebite wins first world darts title 

Peter Wright’s victory against Michael van Gerwen in last night’s PDC World Championship final is described as a “stunning upset” by The Guardian

“Snakebite” Wright won the darts showdown 7-3 against Dutch icon Van Gerwen to end a wretched record of ten defeats in 11 major finals. 

“You should never give up,” Wright said after winning his first world darts title. “It doesn’t matter how many times you get beaten. From the beginning, I believed.”

7. F1’s UK TV viewership down by 8.6m in 2019

The Independent reports that Formula 1 lost 8.6m television viewers in the United Kingdom during the 2019 season. 

Last year 20 of the 21 races were exclusively live in the UK on Sky Sports, with Channel 4 showing highlights of all races and live coverage of only one grand prix, the British GP in July. 

According to data released by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board, Channel 4’s highlights were watched by a “cumulative total of 34.7 million viewers [in 2019], which is a staggering 10.8m less than in 2018”, says the Independent. 

Sky Sports’s audience increased by 2.2m viewers to 20.1m, but despite these numbers the total UK viewership was down by 13.6% to 54.8m.

F1: Robert Kubica joins Alfa Romeo as reserve driver

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8. Arteta’s Arsenal impress

Mikel Arteta’s 2020 started in superb style with his first victory as Arsenal manager. The fact it came against Manchester United made it all the sweeter, and for the long-suffering fans there are reasons to be cheerful after a miserable few months.

After goals from Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis Papastathopoulos secured the 2-0 win, Arteta said: “The confidence, the things they tried and the energy they had towards the game was much better. The challenge is to maintain it.”

9. Solskjaer takes swipe at Pogba’s people 

The “strained relationship” between Manchester United and Paul Pogba receives extensive coverage in the press today. The French midfielder has been suffering from an ankle injury since September and according to reports he is set to undergo surgery, or at least that is what his “people” are saying. 

Speaking last night after seeing his side beaten 2-0 by Arsenal, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is allegedly concerned about the “influence of Pogba’s entourage”. 

Asked how long it will be before Pogba is back in action, Solskjaer said: “Three or four weeks maybe, I don’t know. He’s been advised to have an operation by his people and he’ll probably do that.”

10. Today’s back pages 

The Sun, the Daily Star, The Times and i Sport all focus on Jose Mourinho admitting he was “rude to an idiot” during Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat at Southampton yesterday. 

After a touchline spat with Saints goalkeeping coach Andrew Sparkes, Mourinho was shown a yellow card by referee Mike Dean. 

In his post-match interview the Spurs manager then said: “I think the yellow card is fair because I was rude, but I was rude to an idiot. And for some reason, I was rude, but I was and because I was I deserve the yellow card.”

Spurs suffered a double blow after striker Harry Kane limped off with a hamstring injury. 

Today’s newspaper back pages

Mourinho is ‘rude to an idiot’ and Solskjaer takes swipe at Pogba’s people

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