Root to retain England captaincy as Archer gets central contract

By Sports Desk September 20, 2019

Joe Root will captain England's Test side regardless of their new head coach, Ashley Giles has confirmed.

Test skipper Root came under pressure in the recent Ashes series as England were held to a 2-2 draw, seeing Australia retain the urn as tourists for the first time since 2001.

The uncertainty around the coaching position added to speculation regarding the Yorkshireman's future, with Trevor Bayliss leaving his role following the series.

But Giles, the managing director of England men's cricket, has confirmed Root will continue to lead the side going forward.

"There have been no questions asked [about Root's future] by me," Giles told Sky Sports News. "I would hope that is the most important thing for now.

"One of the most important things for Joe is that we now redress that balance between red and white-ball cricket and we have more focus on Test match cricket.

"And when the new coach arrives, Joe gets a choice to sit down with him and really plan and decide a way forward - with me as well - our DNA around Test cricket going forward.

"If I were Joe, and we've had these discussions, we need to start planning towards winning the Ashes back in Australia in just over two years."

England will have one coach across all formats when they replace Bayliss, with Giles adding: "It's an exciting process because it's my first big appointment and we need to get it right."

The team's central contracts for the 2019-20 season were confirmed on Friday, with Eoin Morgan, England's white-ball captain, also set to continue in his role after winning the Cricket World Cup.

He has been given a limited-overs contract again, with Jofra Archer awarded an all-format deal.

The paceman starred in his first international campaign, playing key roles as England won the Cricket World Cup and drew the Ashes.

Rory Burns has been handed a Test contract following his performances against Australia, although Joe Denly got a white-ball deal.

Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, previously contracted across all three formats, received limited-overs agreements, while Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett and David Willey missed out completely.

Jack Leach and Sam Curran were granted incremental deals.

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  • Emotional Stoichkov calls for tough sanctions on Bulgaria after England clash Emotional Stoichkov calls for tough sanctions on Bulgaria after England clash

    Bulgaria great Hristo Stoichkov fought back tears in a TV appearance as he demanded action over the racist abuse England players suffered in their Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

    The former Ballon d'Or winner suggested "heavier punishments" than stadium closures could be required in response to the shameful scenes that marred Monday's match.

    A section of Bulgaria supporters aimed monkey chants at Raheem Sterling, Tyrone Mings and Marcus Rashford and were also seen performing Nazi salutes.

    Bulgarian Football Union president Borislav Mihaylov stepped down amid the fallout and UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the organisation.

    The abuse witnessed at Vasil Levski National Stadium moved 53-year-old Stoichkov during an appearance on TUDN programme Futbol Central.

    "People don't deserve to suffer," Stoichkov said, before becoming emotional and hanging his head.

    Play was twice halted in the first half on Monday before a group of fans were ejected from the ground.

    Asked about about a suitable sanction, former Barcelona forward Stoichkov said: "That fans are not allowed in the stadium, or even heavier punishments, like in England a few years ago."

    Stoichkov did not specify a particular incident involving punishment in England. He may have meant the ban from European club competitions imposed after the 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster, when English clubs were barred from UEFA competitions for five years, and Liverpool excluded for a further year.

    The Sofia stadium that hosted Monday's match had already been partially closed as a result of racist behaviour from fans during qualifiers against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.

    Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov issued an apology on Wednesday and condemned the racist abuse after initially stating he did not hear it occur during his team's 6-0 defeat.

    "I would like to say very clearly: since there were cases of racial discrimination in Sofia, I would like to sincerely apologise to the English footballers and to all those who felt offended," Balakov said.

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: May reveals how meal with parents prompted successful England career Rugby World Cup 2019: May reveals how meal with parents prompted successful England career

    Jonny May reflected on how a decision to snub a team night out in favour of dinner with his parents paid huge dividends as he prepares to celebrate winning a 50th England cap.

    The Leicester Tigers flyer made his international debut over six years ago during a tour of Argentina, when the majority of the team was on British and Irish Lions duty.

    May was overlooked for the first Test in favour of David Strettle and Christian Wade and had initially missed out on selection for the second game before the latter was drafted to Australia with the Lions.

    It is here where fate was on the side of May, who had shunned a drinking session with the players not in the matchday squad the night before the game in favour of a more serene evening.

    "Funnily enough Christian Wade got called up for the Lions on the morning of the game," said May. 

    "And basically because my mum and dad were out and I went out for dinner with them and all the other non-23 players went out on the p***, so I got the 'go on you can play' pretty much! It's funny how it works out.

    "I didn't feel ashamed but I didn't feel great because my parents were out there and it looked like I wasn't going to get a game. 

    "What was probably quite a challenging couple of weeks finished on a really good note as my parents got to watch me play and I got my first cap. It all worked out in the end."

    It took May until his eighth cap to score a first England try but his strike rate is now an impressive 25 in 49 Tests.

    The 29-year-old has established himself as one of the best wingers in world rugby and could make his landmark England appearance in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia in Oita on Saturday.

    Any personal achievements are on the back burner for May, though, whose sole focus is on helping the team defeat the Wallabies.

    "If you take a step back, you'd say it's an awesome achievement, something I'm very proud of and hopefully I've made my family proud," he added. 

    "But it's no time to take a step back. It's a huge team game at the weekend.

    "It really has been a challenge. You have to fight to be a part of the squad, let alone to start. My mindset has changed so much on that, especially with Eddie [Jones] coming in. 

    "It's a squad performance. We're competing to be the best we can be, we're not competing with each other.

    "I have changed a lot, not just as a rugby player but as a person. I have matured. I have become more focused, maybe a little bit more introverted as the years have gone on.

    "I'm not necessarily at a stage now where I'm working harder but I'm working smarter, just to keep developing and improving."

  • Bulgaria coach Balakov apologises to England after racist chants Bulgaria coach Balakov apologises to England after racist chants

    Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov has apologised after initially saying he did not hear the racist abuse directed at England players during Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

    England claimed a 6-0 win but the match was marred by incidents in the stands, which were reported to officials and resulted in two delays to the action before half-time.

    UEFA opted to charge the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) for "racist behaviour (chants, Nazi salutes)", with local reports indicating four people have been arrested in connection.

    BFU president Borislav Mihaylov resigned under pressure from Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov in the wake of the furore.

    Before the match, coach Balakov claimed England had a bigger problem with racism in football than his own country, then insisted after the game he had not heart the chanting.

    But he has since issued an apology after accepting racist abuse did occur.

    In a letter posted to his official Facebook page, Balakov wrote: "I condemn all forms of racism as an unacceptable behaviour that contradicts normal human relations.

    "I think that this form of prejudice should be buried deep in our past, and no one should ever be subjected [to it].

    "I have trained many Bulgarian teams with players of different origin and never anyone judging by the colour of their skin. In addition, I have always participated actively in all initiatives involving privileged people or those who need to be involved.

    "My comments before the game against England that Bulgaria did not have problems with racism is based on the fact that the local championship did not see such a problem on a large scale.

    "There may have been individual cases, but it's definitely not something you see at the stadium. The majority of football fans do not participate in this kind [of behaviour], and I believe that this has also been the case in the game against England.

    "I would like to say very clearly: since there were cases of racial discrimination in Sofia, I would like to sincerely apologise to the English footballers and to all those who felt offended.

    "At the same time, however, I would like to address everyone who uses hateful language on social media, that my words have been incorrectly removed from context - and if that does not stop, I will be forced to take legal action against it."

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