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PHIL DEFREITAS: Cricket should be a game for all, where everyone gets a fair go

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phil defreitas cricket should be a game for all where everyone gets a fair go

Does county cricket favour the privileged classes? As someone from a state school, it’s a question I have often asked.

In a sense it does, because most of its players come from private schools. They are the ones with great facilities. Most state ones don’t have any.

And it’s why I got involved with the London Schools Cricket Association two years ago — to provide youngsters of all backgrounds with an equal chance. Monte Lynch, my fellow head coach, and I believe there has been a lot of talent from different communities that simply hasn’t been given an opportunity. To us, everyone has a right to try to play cricket.

Phil Defreitas works to help youngsters have an equal chance of getting involved in cricket

Phil Defreitas works to help youngsters have an equal chance of getting involved in cricket

Phil Defreitas works to help youngsters have an equal chance of getting involved in cricket

If it wasn’t for Ellis Williams, my games teacher at Willesden High, making sure I played the game, I don’t think I would’ve had the life in sport I have. What he did for me, I am trying to do for kids now.

This summer we had around 800 kids at trials, with a healthy number of Asian cricketers, but not as many as I had anticipated from the black community.

When I first started playing county cricket, and for England soon afterwards, in the Eighties there were a lot of black cricketers. The million-dollar question is why the numbers have gone down so drastically.

Defreitas got involved with the London Schools Cricket Association to help get more ethnic minorities in the game

Defreitas got involved with the London Schools Cricket Association to help get more ethnic minorities in the game

Defreitas got involved with the London Schools Cricket Association to help get more ethnic minorities in the game

Back then, the West Indies were a powerful cricket side. You admired them. They inspired you. I wanted to be like them, really. In more recent years, have there been fewer role models for black children?

Personally, I always felt it was hard for me as a state schoolboy moving into a system like county cricket. I was always trying to prove myself. Obstacles were in my way. Was there racism? Yes, absolutely. But I didn’t feel I could cry out through fear of being called a troublemaker.

I experienced some horrendous things and the support wasn’t there. I went through them on my own. Things were said and done that destroyed me, but I never felt secure enough to share them. That is what’s made me so passionate about this. To make things better.

He works alongside fellow coach Monte Lynch (right) who played for England in the 1980s

He works alongside fellow coach Monte Lynch (right) who played for England in the 1980s

He works alongside fellow coach Monte Lynch (right) who played for England in the 1980s

I try not to look at the negatives because I’ve dealt with my life experiences in my own way.

What concerns me most, though, is that things I went through 30-odd years ago might be happening in 2020. I hope that’s not the case because, from what I have seen through the terrific support they have given to the schools programme, the ECB want to improve things — I can’t fault them at all.

They know there’s been a problem and they’re trying to rectify it.

I don’t care what colour you are, where you are from, private school, state school. I just want to give you the opportunity to play cricket. That’s what I am really passionate about.

I want to get away from that private club mentality. 

It should be a game for all, where everyone gets a fair go.

If you don’t treat people properly, they will walk away.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Dias showed what he is about by bouncing back from error to shine for Manchester City against Porto

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dias showed what he is about by bouncing back from error to shine for manchester city against porto

Manchester City‘s detractors might say that Ruben Dias has settled in already. He strode out from the back, purposefully attempted to pass through the lines, gave away possession and the opposition scored on the break.

A fair few central defenders have done that in this stadium over the years and it was not the £64million signing’s finest moment in what has been an encouraging start to his City career.

But he has bashfully rejected comparisons with Vincent Kompany, and severe criticism would be premature. If nothing else, City at least appear more stable for the inclusion of Dias, which is a significant step forward.

Pep Guardiola will take heart from how Ruben Dias recovered after his early mistake

Pep Guardiola will take heart from how Ruben Dias recovered after his early mistake

Pep Guardiola will take heart from how Ruben Dias recovered after his early mistake

Pep Guardiola’s hunt for someone to slot alongside Aymeric Laporte has been a long one, taking in at least five targets over the last 18 months.

City settled on Dias and have already benefited from his rugged defensive ability — a bit of grit in a unit that has been far too porous.

In that sense, the 23-year-old has borrowed a fair amount from his mentor Pepe, described by those around the Portugal squad as something of a father figure. 

Pepe — who captained Porto on Wednesday night — has been one of the best, an unashamed master of the old art for well over a decade. City need that. 

The 23-year-old defender has injected a bit of grit and leadership into City's backline

The 23-year-old defender has injected a bit of grit and leadership into City's backline

The 23-year-old defender has injected a bit of grit and leadership into City’s backline

There will be time to finesse Dias’s distribution when they finally get the chance to take training sessions that are not focused on recovery from the last match or preparation for the next.

What they do not need to hone is his leadership. Although young, Dias has that in abundance, with a ‘mentality of a champion’, according to those who know him. 

His English is flawless and Guardiola will take heart from how he approached this game after his early mistake — notably when he jockeyed Luis Diaz for 20 yards and held him up as Porto threatened to nudge ahead for a second time.

Many who went before him wilted in adversity. There was some evidence here that Dias is made of stronger stuff.

Dias speaks to Eric Garcia during Wednesday's Champions League victory over Porto

Dias speaks to Eric Garcia during Wednesday's Champions League victory over Porto

Dias speaks to Eric Garcia during Wednesday’s Champions League victory over Porto

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Klopp praises Gomez and Fabinho but warns his players ‘there is a lot to improve’ after Ajax win

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klopp praises gomez and fabinho but warns his players there is a lot to improve after ajax win

Jurgen Klopp hailed Liverpool‘s battling qualities that enabled them to emerge from a ‘pressure situation’ in Amsterdam with a confidence restoring victory.

Liverpool beat Ajax 1-0 thanks to an own goal from Nicolas Tagliafico but their performance in their opening Group D fixture was characterised by the way midfielder Fabinho moved back into central defence and never put a foot wrong.

The highlight of his display came just before half-time, when he acrobatically scooped Dusan Tadic’s lob off the line. Ajax were a nuisance throughout and they came close to grabbing an equaliser when Davy Klaassen hit a post early in the second period.

Jurgen Klopp was impressed with how his Liverpool team battled to win three points at Ajax

Jurgen Klopp was impressed with how his Liverpool team battled to win three points at Ajax

Jurgen Klopp was impressed with how his Liverpool team battled to win three points at Ajax

An own goal from Nicolas Tagliafico in the first half was enough for Liverpool to win the game

An own goal from Nicolas Tagliafico in the first half was enough for Liverpool to win the game

An own goal from Nicolas Tagliafico in the first half was enough for Liverpool to win the game

Klopp conceded there is still significant room for improvement in Liverpool’s form but, after a turbulent week that began with Virgil van Dijk being ruled out for the majority of the season, the manager was delighted with his team’s determination.

‘Was there pressure in the situation? Yes,’ said Klopp. ‘It (a clean sheet) is huge but we are not dumb enough to think we didn’t need a bit of luck as Fabinho needed to make a proper stretch to get that ball from the line and they hit the post.

‘The clean sheet is one information but we could have done better. I don’t care in the moment. We wanted to win the game and we have done that but now we don’t hang the clean sheet too high because there were two situations where we were not far away from perfect.

Liverpool registered a clean sheet and Klopp was complimentary of Joe Gomez's performance

Liverpool registered a clean sheet and Klopp was complimentary of Joe Gomez's performance

Liverpool registered a clean sheet and Klopp was complimentary of Joe Gomez’s performance

Fabinho was also a standout performer and made a vital goal-line clearance in the first half

Fabinho was also a standout performer and made a vital goal-line clearance in the first half

Fabinho was also a standout performer and made a vital goal-line clearance in the first half

‘But the result is absolutely OK. Now on Saturday night a completely different challenge. Sheffield United have had their legs on the sofa and we need to recover quickly. It was a good performance but there is a lot to improve – and that is good.’

All eyes were on Fabinho and Joe Gomez, given the injuries to Van Dijk and Joel Matip, but Klopp did not have any doubts about whether the Brazilian would be able to cope with the different demands that were asked of him.

‘For the two at the back, it was their first game together,’ said Klopp. ‘They need to get used to each other, they need to get used to the verbal demands. Fabinho can play the position, he likes playing it actually. If I asked him to play right back I don’t think he would enjoy it as much.

‘In our situation we have to keep those boys fit. I’m not surprised Fabinho plays in the position, otherwise I would have thought about a different solution. That would have been tricky but I’m really pleased.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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‘We are struggling at the moment’: Ilkay Gundogan admits Manchester City are not their usual best

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we are struggling at the moment ilkay gundogan admits manchester city are not their usual best

Ilkay Gundogan has said that Manchester City still haven’t found top gear this season despite a strong second-half display against Porto.

Gundogan scored a sublime free-kick in City’s 3-1 Group C victory in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

City did, however, go behind through Luis Diaz’s goal in the first half which exposed frailties in Pep Guardiola‘s defence.

Ilkay Gundogan scored Manchester City's second goal in the 3-1 win over Porto at the Etihad

Ilkay Gundogan scored Manchester City's second goal in the 3-1 win over Porto at the Etihad

Ilkay Gundogan scored Manchester City’s second goal in the 3-1 win over Porto at the Etihad

And while City have won two of their opening four Premier League games, Gundogan believes they are still some way off their best.

He said: ‘If I’m being honest we are struggling at the moment.’

City were dealt a further fitness blow late on in Wednesday’s win when Fernandinho, who came on as a substitute in the 85th minute, left the pitch nine minutes later with an injury. The Brazilian midfielder could be out for four to six weeks.

There was bad news for City when Fernandinho went off injured nine minutes after coming on

There was bad news for City when Fernandinho went off injured nine minutes after coming on

There was bad news for City when Fernandinho went off injured nine minutes after coming on

Nathan Ake wasn’t included in City’s squad against Porto, raising doubts over his fitness and whether he will play against West Ham on Saturday.

Gundogan, who admits he still isn’t fully fit having tested positive for coronavirus last month, added it would be easy for Guardiola to rotate because of City’s fitness problems.

He said: ‘Fernandinho went off at the end, we have players playing in different positions. I am not 100 per cent there because I had Covid, we are not all at the same moment.

Pep Guardiola could be without his Brazilian defensive midfielder for four to six weeks

Pep Guardiola could be without his Brazilian defensive midfielder for four to six weeks

Pep Guardiola could be without his Brazilian defensive midfielder for four to six weeks

‘That is the challenge for this season, it’s not going to end for a while. It’s not going to be difficult for Pep to pick an XI because players are going to be tired.’

Guardiola said after the game that he was ready to take Gundogan off seconds before he scored in the 65th minute – the 29-year-old came off three minutes later. 

Guardiola added: ‘We decided before the goal he [Gundo] would go off but he made an incredible goal.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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