'Stick to the plan!' Analytics, the Ryder Cup and the lessons for other sports | Sean Ingle

20-11-2018 Last week Thomas Bjørn admitted analytics played a big part in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory – the best teams are open to ideas no matter where they come fromThere is a scene in Moneyball, the story of how the Oakland A’s defied a tiny budget to come close to reaching the 2002 World Series, that neatly encapsulates the friction between gnarly, gum-chewing scouts and the newer wave of analysts who seek truths in spreadsheets.“You don’t put a team together with a computer,” the A’s scouting director, Grady Fuson, scoffs at the general manager, Billy Beane, who has begun deep-mining data to find undervalued – and thus cheap – players. “Baseball isn’t just numbers. It isn’t science … there are intangibles that only baseball people understand.” Beane’s terse response? “Adapt or die.” Continue reading...

Blooming marvellous – Gareth Southgate throws off weeds of caution

20-11-2018 With England facing defeat by Croatia, the manager brought on the 18-year-old winger Jadon Sancho and the world turnedNever throw anything away. That was the lesson from this fun, late-breaking England victory. On an unexpectedly epic afternoon at Wembley, Croatia were beaten by an England 2.0 team who decided to muss their hair, throw the briefcase out the window, create a little chaos with long throws and free-kicks; and win, in the end, a bit like England 1.0.There was a wonderful note of theatre about the finish. As the sun dipped below the lip of the Wembley roof England were 1-0 down then, at 1-1, five minutes from relegation for the first time in their history – and indeed at the very first opportunity. One slightly wild attacking surge later and England are now marching on instead to (it says here) Portugal for a semi-final against whoever December’s Uefa draw at the home of football (AKA the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin) decides to throw their way. Continue reading...

Highlights: Dominant Alexander Zverev beats Novak Djokovic to win ATP Finals in London

20-11-2018 Watch highlights of Alexander Zverev's dominant display over world number one Novak Djokovic to win the season-ending ATP Finals and earn the biggest victory of his career in straight sets.

Ireland defeat could be pre-World Cup tipping point for All Blacks

20-11-2018 This loss may not prove to be such a good thing for rugby for simple reason New Zealand are going to get better because of itWhen I was playing for the All Blacks we would always talk about making sure that after the November series we did not have “a stone under the beach towel” during the off-season. Make no mistake, the New Zealand coaches and players have rocks under theirs now.Having said that, regardless of what Steve Hansen says, New Zealand are still the best team in the world and they are the favourites for next year’s World Cup. Yes, the gap has been closed a significant amount but the big question is whether the All Blacks should be panicking now, and I still think the answer is no. All credit to Ireland, they deserved their fantastic victory and they are being widely congratulated and rightly so, but I wonder if it does prove to be such a good thing for the world of rugby for the simple reason that the All Blacks are going to get better because of it. Continue reading...

Alexander Zverev charms crowd after beating Novak Djokovic – video

20-11-2018 Alexander Zverev landed the biggest win of his career by shocking Novak Djokovic to win the ATP Finals on Sunday. The 21-year-old German, who was booed by indignant Roger Federer fans after beating their idol 24 hours earlier, saw off the world No 1 6-4 6-3. Zverev delighted the crowd during the post-match ceremony with quips and jokes that kept them laughing. Continue reading...

Anya Shrubsole: England’s all-round asset in T20 semi-final with India

20-11-2018 If the England bowler can keep adding runs to her wickets, she may tip the balance in a 20-over rematch of last year’s World Cup finalThere was a useful rule of thumb to predict if Mitchell Johnson would contribute with the bat during his career: if he was taking wickets, useful runs would surely follow. For England’s women, now at the business end of their World T20 campaign, they could do well with this also applying for Anya Shrubsole. Dominating with the ball through England’s pool games, her career-high 29, compiled in a 55-run partnership with Sophia Dunkley, was the only reason Heather Knight’s side made a fist of their final group game against West Indies after the top order misfired.Until Sunday Shrubsole had more wickets than runs to her name in T20 internationals, but she set that straight in an innings that showed the resourcefulness and confidence expected from a player of far greater numerical stature with the bat. Continue reading...

Referee attack: Club sorry over 'disgraceful' assault in Irish amateur league

20-11-2018 Mullingar Town FC apologise after a referee in the Irish amateur league was attacked after officiating one of their games last week.

Gareth Southgate looks back at past year as he plans England’s future

20-11-2018 • Southgate keen to build on promising foundations• England manager pleased with upbeat, relaxed mood in campGareth Southgate allowed himself a moment to contemplate all that had been achieved over the calendar year. The more rousing occasions tripped off the tongue, from a World Cup semi-final to that eye-catching victory in Spain and progress through a daunting three-team section into the inaugural Nations League finals.Less memorable, perhaps, was the friendly win over Switzerland which had felt rather unconvincing at the time but, he said, had demonstrated his squad’s ability to recover from the lull of September and the exhausted anticlimax after the summer’s adrenaline rush. Everything since has been, to quote the manager, “really top”. The team’s style and philosophy have been further ingrained, with an admirable dynamism to the side. New players have been assimilated and form coaxed from more established personnel. Southgate was speaking in the aftermath of Harry Kane’s dramatic late winner against Croatia. It was good to bask in it all for a while. Continue reading...

The Fiver | Happy to engage in blatant acts of insubordination

20-11-2018 Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!The imposition of a three-week suspension of referee David McNamara for using a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors in place of a coin-toss last week prompted a rather mixed reaction. Many praised him for his gumption after he forgot to bring a coin (or indeed the popular fun-for-all-the-family game of Buckaroo) out on the pitch before a televised Women’s Super League match between Manchester City and Reading. Others, including the respected and eminently sensible Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes, suggested the quick-thinking ref deserved a sanction deemed “draconian” by former referee Keith Hackett. “That just about sums up the quality of refereeing involved in our game, the fact they don’t bring a coin,” she harrumphed. “The basic level of professionalism needs to be in place. I think it’s an embarrassment.” Continue reading...

Alex Rodriguez: ‘If you can’t sell Aaron Judge, you can’t sell anyone’

20-11-2018 Despite being retired, ‘A-Rod’ is promoting baseball to UK audiences before the Red Sox face the Yankees next summer, but he says the sport sells itselfAlex Rodriguez is famous. Very famous. You’d probably know that Alex Rodriguez is famous without knowing who he is. He’s one of those people who, in that abstract way, just looks famous. He is probably still one of the most famous sportsmen in the United States, and certainly one of the most – if not the most – famous baseball players.Which is a problem considering he retired in 2016. Rodriguez was – still is – a cross-cultural celebrity in a way that most of the current crop of Major League Baseball players are not. Being one of the best players the game has ever seen helped, as did a history with performance-enhancing drugs, a very public private life and a feisty on-field persona. But if you asked an average American who did not regularly follow the sport to name a baseball player, there is a good chance they would say Rodriguez, rather than anyone still playing. Continue reading...

WSL round-up: Amazing acrobatics & Arsenal win eight in a row

20-11-2018 Chelsea's Erin Cuthbert scores one of the goals of the season while leaders Arsenal maintain their perfect start to the Women's Super League.

Paul Gascoigne charged with sex assault on Durham train

20-11-2018 Football legend Paul Gascoigne was arrested in Durham in August and will face court next month.

Harry Redknapp sets out tactics in crab-stroking I’m A Celebrity debut

20-11-2018 The former Spurs and West Ham manager’s no-nonsense approach won admirers as he choked down emu in the jungle with Nick Knowles and ‘the brainy lady off The Chase’“They’ve got a football manager on the other team. That’s a bit of a problem because he’s probably good at tactics,” said Rita Simons (once of EastEnders), peering suspiciously at Harry Redknapp before the first full-team challenge on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, which involved extended paddling in a boat incapable of holding everyone who wanted to paddle in it. Related: David Squires on … Mourinho, Ederson and all the Manchester derby fallout Continue reading...

More than 500 footballers may have lost up to £1bn due to bad advice

20-11-2018 • Disastrous investments a factor behind players’ calls for reform• Danny Murphy says PFA failed to protect playersA major motivation behind the growing calls for reform of the Professional Footballers’ Association is the large number of recently retired players struggling with severe financial difficulties, despite having had lucrative careers in the game.One accountancy professional with detailed knowledge of many players’ financial problems told the Guardian that approximately 500 former players from the first generation to play in the Premier League may have lost up to £1bn because of disastrous investments, based on financial advice, and HMRC demands following their involvement in investment schemes promoted as tax-efficient. Continue reading...

David Warner and Steve Smith ball-tampering bans stand, Cricket Australia says

20-11-2018 Players’ union submission to overturn bans dismissedCameron Bancroft’s nine-month sanction also upheldA definitive line in the sand has been drawn under the ball tampering scandal after Cricket Australia dismissed a submission by the players’ union which asked for amendments to the bans handed to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.CA directors discussed the options available to them on Monday, following calls from the Australian Cricketers’ Association to immediately lift the sanctions. Despite the union’s claims the trio had “already been punished enough”, the board of directors unanimously decided the bans were fair, and saw no reason to alter them. Continue reading...