Top flight: My published articles for premierleague.com


In August 2012, I secured a full-time placement as Digital Operations Assistant at the Premier League. The role has mostly included editorial work, image editing and website content management, but it has also allowed me to write a series of articles and photo galleries for the site. The links for some of my articles are below:

Premierleague.com Photo Galleries:
19th March: Owen announces retirement at end of season
1st March: Manchester United in lead as ‘ever-presents’ reach 800 mark
7th February: Carragher to call time on Liverpool career

4th February: Ten out of ten for freescoring Lampard

Facebook Photo Galleries:
Fantasy Premier League picks – Gameweek 29
The ‘800 club’ – ever-present Premier League clubs
Premier League players spread festive cheer
Man United v Arsenal – classic matches

Premier League articles:
24th March: Paul Lambert relishing the challenge at Villa
16th March: Man Utd close in on Spurs
15th March: Great Escapes: How Premier League clubs beat the drop
11th February: Chelsea trio help Nigeria win African Cup of Nations

11th February: Giggs: ‘Man City seven-goal thriller topped the lot’
6th February: Premier League stars set for international duty
5th February: Manchester City can call upon history for hope in title race
4th February: Little margin for error if Manchester United wish to set record
18th December: Five-star Southampton reach Elite Group Stage
2nd December: Tough FA Cup trips for Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal
2nd November: Arsenal aiming to improve poor Old Trafford record

19th October: Making Suarez captain pays off for FPL manager
15th October: Saints back on top
10th September: Saints and Fulham shine
5th September: Michu top of Fantasy Premier League chart
31st August: Capital One Cup – Liverpool draw West Brom
30th August: Liverpool claim first U21 win at Palace
15th August: New fantasy player trading game launched
3rd August: Fans flock to Barclays U21 Premier League debut

From the start of 2013, we also began to delve through the Premier League archives to find the most memorable moments in the division’s history as part of a regular ‘On this day’ feature. I have written most of the ‘On this day’ articles, and extensively researched significant matches, transfers, managerial appointments and landmarks so we have a detailed database for the feature going forward.

You can find the links for individual articles on the ‘On this day’ holding pages below:
On this day: January
On this day: February
On this day: March

Click here for the home page of the official Premier League website.

Giggs: ‘Anfield was the toughest place to visit’

Ryan Giggs said Arsenal's Lee Dixon was always a tough opponent

Ryan Giggs said Arsenal’s Lee Dixon was always a tough opponent

On Tuesday night attendances at Barclays Premier League matches broke the 250 million barrier. To commemorate this milestone, premierleague.com invited its Twitter followers to ask a question of Ryan Giggs, the only player still playing in the Barclays Premier League who also featured when the first fans filed through the turnstiles for the competition’s inaugural matchday on Saturday 15 August 1992.

The Manchester United legend, who was voted the Best Player in the Premier League 20 Seasons Awards, answered 10 questions sent by followers of the Premier League’s Twitter account.

@DalisoC: Which trophy are you most proud of winning?

Ryan Giggs: I think the trophy I am most proud of is probably the first Premiership [1992/93]. Growing up as a United fan and obviously not winning it for so long, for me, coming so close the year before and losing out to Leeds was really disappointing so when we did eventually win it, the excitement and the relief and the pressure was off a little bit. It was probably the foundation to go on and win many things so I would probably rank that as my favourite.

@shanekels: Which three players from the Premier League era would you have with you in your midfield?

Giggs: I think the two midfielders that stand out are [Paul Scholes] Scholesy and [Roy Keane] Keaney, the year we won the treble. And then it would be close to [David Beckham] Becks and Cristiano [Ronaldo] but what Cristiano has done in the last couple of years probably just pips him. In my view, along with [Lionel] Messi, he’s the world’s best player. So, I wouldn’t mind being in that midfield, if I can get in!

@Ali_Alex_MUFC: If you could go back to any of your previous seasons, which one would it be and why?

Giggs: I think the treble-winning season. It was just such a rollercoaster season and [we had] three cup finals in 10 days; obviously winning the league first of all, then the FA Cup and going on to win the Champions League in the manner that we did. It was just like the season really. Those 10 days were like a rollercoaster, so that was probably the feeling and feat that you don’t often get.

@SiHanTheGoonerWhich team do you always look forward to playing the most?

Giggs: I think as a player you want a challenge, so any of the top teams really. I would probably say Liverpool, because there is always such a great build-up. It doesn’t matter how the teams are doing in the league, there’s always that rivalry and there’s always that ferocious tempo within the game, whether it be at Old Trafford or Anfield.

@amatan: In your opinion, what was your best game in the #BPL?

Giggs: I’m struggling with that one! I think I would have to say the City game, the 4-3 [against Manchester City in September 2009]. I set up a few goals and – the way the game went, obviously passing to Michael [Owen] to score the winner – that was a great game.

@Minion786: How does it feel to be playing alongside the youth players knowing you were starting for Man United before they could walk?

Giggs: [Laughs] I got used to the fact a long time ago that I am playing with someone who wasn’t born when I made my debut and all these sort of things that come up. So, yeah, I have just got used to it. It’s something I have got to live with, I suppose.

@Nookums69: What is your favourite goal that you did not score?

Giggs: I’d say Wayne’s overhead kick [Rooney against Manchester City, February 2011] or maybe Becks’s from the halfway line [David Beckham against Wimbledon, August 1996].

(After being asked if he’s tried to emulate either goal) It wasn’t the same as Becks’s but at Charlton away I hit the crossbar [in December 2000]. So I nearly scored from the halfway line but Wayne’s, no, I haven’t come close!

@deba1993Which stadium has the most daunting atmosphere?

Giggs: I think Anfield. Like I said before, no matter how the teams are doing there is always a great atmosphere. You could be playing against an average Liverpool team and it would still be one of the toughest games of the season, just because the crowd drive them on and the tradition between the two clubs.

@maestrofmhellWho is the one defender who gave you nightmares?

Giggs: I think Lee Dixon was always tough to play against, especially at Highbury where it was a tight pitch and it was that famous back four and [David] Seaman [in goal]. It was always tough to find that bit of space, which normally I can find but he had that experience, knowing whether to go tight or whether to come off, and it was always a test to play against him.

I edited and transcribed this audio Q & A as part of a feature on Premierleague.com. You can listen to the interview below:

Gallery: Premier League Player Profiles

As part of my role within the Premier League’s Digital Operations team, I have sourced and edited images for all player profiles this season.  I have also been editing information within player and club profiles. Here is a selection of some of the best images to date:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chelsea target Luke Shaw and three other young Saints to watch

Chelsea are reportedly lining up a £4m bid for Luke Shaw

Chelsea are reportedly lining up a £4m bid for Luke Shaw

There has been no shortage of top class talent coming through the Southampton academy in recent years, with Arsenal & England wingers Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tottenham’s former PFA player of the year Gareth Bale and former Chelsea full back Wayne Bridge developing their game on the South Coast. It’s no surprise then that Champions League winners Chelsea have been strongly linked with Southampton’s latest wonderkid Luke Shaw.

The national press are linking Chelsea with a £4million bid for Shaw, and Manchester City and Arsenal have also reportedly expressed an interest, but it will take something special for Southampton to relinquish one of their brightest young talents. Manager Nigel Adkins and chairman Nicola Cortese have insisted that he is not for sale and, as one of the richest clubs in English football following a takeover by the late Swiss billionaire Markus Liebherr in 2009, there is no pressure for the club to sell – especially as they are back in the Premier League after seven years outside the top flight.

But can the 16-year-old attacking left back be the next Gareth Bale or make the same sort if impact that Alex Chamberlain did at Arsenal 12 months on? Here is a lowdown on Shaw’s star potential and three other Southampton youth players to watch out or over the next few seasons.

Luke Shaw

There is no doubt that 16-year-old Luke Shaw is the most sought-after player in Southampton’s latest generation of talented players at the moment. And, despite only making one senior appearance for Saints last season, it is clear to see why the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City want to snap him up now before he bursts on to the professional scene with a string of first team games.

He has been a regular in Jason Dodd’s Under-18 side since the age of 15, and his rapid progression through the youth ranks was rewarded with two call ups to the England Under-16’s team in 2011. He is now a regular in the Under-17’s international team, having made 8 appearances.

Shaw is an attacking full back with bundles of pace, good set piece delivery and an eye for goal, having scored three times from left back in Southampton’s successful Under-18 side, and he’s been promoted to the first team squad ahead of Saints’ comeback season in the Premier League.

He featured in the Saints squad in Cup matches against Coventry, Preston North End and Millwall last season and he will undoubtedly want to follow in the footsteps of Tottenham star Gareth Bale and former England international Wayne Bridge by making a name for himself on the left side of Southampton’s defence.

James Ward-Prowse

James Ward-Prowse

James Ward-Prowse

Arguably Southampton most impressive academy graduate of the 2011-12 campaign was 17-year-old central midfielder James Ward-Prowse, who was subsequently awarded Young Player of the Year at the club’s end of season celebrations.  Also an England Under-17 international, Ward-Prowse made two starts for the senior team and he impressed on both occasions. Despite Saints being defeated in the last 16 of the Carling Cup, thanks to two late goals from Crystal Palace, Ward-Prowse earned praise from Southampton boss Nigel Adkins for his composed performance in the middle of the park. He scored his first senior goal in a 2-1 win over Coventry in the FA Cup and featured on the bench on a few occasions.

He’s quite small I stature, but he makes up for it with great energy and a superb passing range. His composure and ability to recycle possession certainly helps him fit in to Southampton’s style of play, and he is probably the most likely academy player to break in to the first team frequently this season.

Calum Chambers

Calum Chambers

Calum Chambers

Along with Shaw, Ward-Prowse and former Plymouth youngster Jack Stephens, Calum Chambers was also promoted to the first team squad after Saints gained promotion to the Premier League in April.

He’s another exciting talent, and another player who features in the England Under-17 set up, but he still seems to have crept in to Nigel Adkins’ long-term first team plans under the radar, as he is the only academy graduate in Saints’ first team who didn’t feature in the first team last season.

He’s a tall and talented winger who offers great creativity and a quality final product going forward. He featured regularly in Southampton’s Under-18’s team that finished ahead of the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea in the FA Premier League Academy Group A and contributed seven goals from out wide. He also scored the only goal in England Under-17’s 1-0 win over Ukraine in March, and has added a further two goals in just 6 appearances for the side.

Jake Sinclair

Jake Sinclair

Jake Sinclair

Every good team needs a clinical goal scorer, and the Southampton Under-18s talisman last season was 17-year-old forward Jake Sinclair. Brother of Swansea striker Scott Sinclair, Jake banged in 25 goals in 29 appearances last term – an impressive record at any level. Much like his brother, he’s got pace to burn, he’s tricky, likes to run with the ball and is a clinical finisher. There are Premier League goals in his family already, and Jake has the potential to follow in his brother’s footsteps and score goals at a high level.

He’s not gained the same sort of recognition at international level as his academy team-mates Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse and Calum Chambers, but a strong season with the academy and Under-21 development squad could encourage Saints boss Adkins to call on the pacey forward for cup matches in the upcoming campaign.

Murray knocks down ‘The Wall’ to close in on Wimbledon Final

The sky's the limit: Murray's one match away from a maiden Wimbledon final

The sky’s the limit: Murray’s one match away from a maiden Wimbledon final

Pulsating drama, sublime skill, crushing winners and gutsy determination – a sell-out crowd on Centre Court was treated to the whole lot as Andy Murray edged Spaniard David Ferrer in one of the best matches of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships to put himself one match away from his first ever Wimbledon Final.

In four sets amounting to three hours of graft on the court, Murray silenced a lot of doubters of his capability to compete for Grand Slam glory and showed the whole Tennis world what we already knew. He’s a quality player, and he surely has the best chance any Briton has had to lift the Grand Slam curse that has weighed on the shoulders of Men’s Tennis in the United Kingdom since Fred Perry’s Wimbledon triumph in 1936.

This Grand Slam drought has led to fans and critics putting huge pressure on any talented Brit that has played the sport since. Many people accused Tim Henman of being a bottler after several near misses at the All England Club, which was often unfair. He had a fine career, got to four semi-finals at Wimbledon and, if the classic British weather hadn’t rained on his parade in 2001, he would have surely beaten Goran Ivanisevic with the momentum he had in their epic Wimbledon encounter to set up a Final with Australian Pat Rafter. Then, who knows, he might have gone all the way.

Andy Murray has had to deal with similar expectation and similar claims of not being able to jump the Grand Slam final hurdle. He’s got to three major finals, won 22 singles titles and got to a further eight major semis – and he’s only 25. He’s had a sensational career already and he has won major titles or come close to Grand Slam glory on all three court surfaces – all whilst competing against three of the best players to ever grace the sport in Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and current world number one Novak Djokovic.

Eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi said that Murray would be a ‘multiple Grand Slam champion’ if he was in any other generation, and Agassi himself would have ‘won much less’. This shows just how highly regarded he is in the sport, and that he thoroughly deserves to have cemented his place in the top four of the Men’s singles rankings.

The biggest problem he has had in Grand Slams of the past is the task of defeating two of the top three players in the space of two days. On his day, he can defeat Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, and he has done so to win a series of ATP 500 and Masters events in his career so far. But the three times he has managed to knock out one of them, it has been an epic clash and he has failed to repeat that sort of form and intensity in the final a day or two later. He has yet to win a set in the three Grand Slam finals he has reached – clearly not a reflection on the ability that got him to that stage in the first place.

Falling at the final hurdle: Murray watches Federer lift the US Open trophy

Falling at the final hurdle: Murray watches Federer lift the US Open trophy

In his first major final at the US Open in 2008, he succumbed to the artistry of Roger Federer in the tournament’s finale, 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. But that was a far cry from Murray’s incredible four set battle with Rafael Nadal. This was the first time Murray defeated the Spaniard, and he did it in some style. The pace, energy and power he played with was sensational, and he thoroughly deserved the victory in a masterclass of hard court tennis. But it came at a cost. The match was a rain-affected, gruelling contest that spanned over two frustrating, hard-fought days. Roger Federer, on the other hand, defeated Novak Djokovic in one hit. He came in to the final with a day’s rest, feeling refreshed and this was reflected in his performance.

Since then, he has lost two Australian Open finals, but he has grown in stature, strength and maturity. He consistently gets to the latter stages of practically every major tournament going and continues to give the ‘big three’ a run for their money despite all the final disappointments and near misses he has suffered from so far. He is well and truly part of a dominant top four in the Men’s game, and this is reflected by the amount of times that the top four seeds live up to their billing and face each other in the Grand Slam semi-finals.

At this year’s Wimbledon championships, more people than ever are starting to believe that this could be Andy Murray’s time to shine. The belief in the talented Scotsman was significantly enhanced when French Open champion Nadal was stunned by relatively unknown Lukas Rosol in one of the biggest shocks in tennis history. Nadal is normally so reliable at dispatching the underdogs and avoiding any type of upset, but Rosol’s sensational five-set win opened up the draw and gave Murray a great chance of going the distance.

He’s not disappointed so far, and he has not had it easy. Banana skins in the shape of former world number three Nikolay Davydenko, big serving Croats Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic have been avoided and Murray managed to put his French Open quarter-final loss to Ferrer behind him in a fine display on Centre Court.

Could this be his year? Murray looks in good form

Could this be his year? Murray looks in good form

The big favourite though is reigning champion Novak Djokovic, who has looked imperious in his title defence so far. His win in last year’s tournament cemented his status as the man to beat, and impressive US Open and Australian Open victories followed. Should Murray get past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his semi-final, and should Djokovic defeat six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer on the other side of the draw, he will certainly be the underdog in the final.

But with the home crowd on his side, you just never know. Murray will have to be at the very top of his game to win his next two matches and win his maiden Grand Slam, but he certainly is capable of doing so. A semi-final against Tsonga will surely be less draining physically and mentally than a clash with Nadal – a superhuman athlete with a superhuman will to win on the big stage. Should he get to the final on Sunday, he may well be the most prepared and in the best shape he has ever been going in to a Grand Slam final. And a whole kingdom of united nations will be hoping that a different British name is finally etched above Fred Perry in the history books.

End of a new beginning? Why this season is vital for the English Iniesta

Jack Wilshere: A future England captain according to Cesc Fabregas

Jack Wilshere: A future England captain according to Cesc Fabregas

This time last year, England fans were whetting their appetite of the prospect of the having an intricate artist of Tiki-Taka football emerging on their shores. He made a huge impact for a title-challenging side and produced a man-of-the-match display as his side stunned the pass-masters Barcelona in the Champions League.

Wind the clock twelve months forward though, and Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere hasn’t played a competitive game in over a year, and all that promise and magnificent talent seems all too distant at the moment. An ankle injury forced him to watch the entire 2011-2012 season from the sidelines, and a knee injury flared up to provide a further setback to his recovery.

He is now a doubt to start the 2012/13 campaign, and many Arsenal and England supporters will be hoping for a return to the level that saw him labelled as England’s next big star.

Wilshere was always touted for a successful career during his academy days, starring in reserve games, scoring fantastic goals and orchestrating play in the middle of the park. After a successful loan spell at Bolton Wanderers in the 2009/10 campaign, he toughened up and showed his outstanding ability to control games as a box-to-box midfielder and playmaker.

What followed would wow lovers of the English game and give them a new ray of hope amongst a great deal of criticism that followed a dismal 2010 World Cup campaign. Wilshere made more senior appearances than any other Arsenal midfielder in the 2010/11 season, earned the PFA Young Player of the Year award and proved instrumental in a Gunners side that looked to be challenging for three trophies until a bitterly disappointing Carling Cup Final defeat at the hands of Birmingham City.

His ability to retain the ball under intense pressure, find killer passes and make play flow with clever one-twos and slide rule passes was the closest many had seen to a replacement for former England international Paul Scholes, and perhaps the closest England had to a Xavi or Andres Iniesta-like player who can dominate games with the famous Spanish brand of ‘Tiki-Taka’ football.

Wilshere broke in to the English international team, making five appearances and looking fit to wear the shirt, but the real acid test came against Barcelona, where he played alongside soon-to-be Catalan player Cesc Fabregas in midfield, and was under massive pressure to stand his own against the most dominant midfield in world football.

Thinking big: Wilshere broke in to the England team last year

Thinking big: Wilshere broke in to the England team last year

Just 19 at the time and playing in his first Champions League knockout phase, you could forgive the prodigious talent for feeling the nerves of the occasion. But, despite Barcelona taking the early initiative and going 1-0 up with a David Villa strike, WIlshere wasn’t just going to lie down. He took the game by the scruff of the neck and, even though he had a World Cup winning playmaker alongside him, it was Wilshere himself who took the game to Barcelona, proved pivotal in Arsenal turning the match around and turned the most heads in a fine 2-1 victory at the Emirates. If there wasn’t any doubt already, a star was born.

If he does get back to his best this season, he will surely get even better and develop into a future England captain – a man who can inspire this transitional crop of England internationals to try and challenge for top honours and compete with the world’s big boys.

Even Cesc Fabregas claimed that Wilshere was a future England captain, and this was something that slightly softened the blow of his departure from the North Londoners last summer.

He’s a unique player, as far as English football goes. While the current England team are grinding out results and proving doubters wrong in this summer’s Euro 2012, Roy Hodgson’s side do seem to miss a player who can control the ball in midfield, boost possession and take the game to opponents frequently. Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker have been fantastic in this year’s European Championships, but they are both over 30 and players like Jack Wilshere will be called upon in the near future.

For the sake of the beautiful game, and the English game, it will be a huge shame if Wilshere suffers further setbacks and doesn’t fully recover from a blip in what has been an extremely promising start of his career. On the flipside, if he gets back to match fitness, he will be mentally stronger for this experience, and he could yet be England’s next Andres Iniesta. Sure, it’s unlikely that England will ever emulate Spain’s incredible wealth of talent or style of play, but a fully fit Jack Wilshere could be just the man to take this country forward.

This piece was written for the Own Goal Podcast. Click here for the link.

It’s also been published by online magazine Sabotage Times. Click here to read more.

Photo Gallery: Behind the scenes at Lord’s Cricket Ground

In the build up to England’s first test against West Indies at Lord’s Cricket Ground this summer, I went behind the scenes at the Home of Cricket to see what really goes on during match days at the famous old ground. All these photos are images I captured personally to show spectators what they can look forward to.

From Caribbean Calypso bands and English Jazz musicians to Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts and Champagne galore at the Harris Garden, there is plenty to enjoy and experience at England’s top Cricket venue.

The full gallery, as published on Day One of the Test, is available on Flickr.

Click here to check out more exciting content at the official website of Lord’s.

Photo Gallery: Hawk-Eye work

After completing my Multimedia Journalism degree at Bournemouth University, I managed to secure a role as a Systems Engineer with Hawk-Eye Innovations, who are at the pinnacle of Sports technology with officiating systems at Cricket and Tennis events worldwide, as well as a Snooker system which is utilised by television companies at major events.

I worked in Tennis and Snooker operations, as well as helping to test their goal-line technology system, which is subject to approval by football’s leading governing body FIFA at the start of July, 2012.

Here are a selection of photos I have compiled during my time with the company.

Tri-Pole Trouble: Dortmund lease of life for Euro 2012 hosts

Pole Position: Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski leads the line for Poland

Pole Position: Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski leads the line for Poland

Nothing quite compares to the euphoria and the excitement that gathers as a nation unites in patriotic pride when a major football tournament comes around. Often, this can be the birthing pool of national heroes that make a name for themselves, and often it can be the scene of a great underdog story as the hosts exceed all expectations – punching above their weight against the heavyweight champions fighting for the title on their home turf.

This summer, Poland and Ukraine go toe-to-toe with Europe’s elite in their own respective backyards as joint-hosts of Euro 2012. Despite the disappointment for co-hosts Austria and Switzerland four years earlier, the home teams generally have a strong record of progressing to the knockout stages – and it could be the Poles who axe some of the favourites this time round.

Poland are only competing in their second European championship – a surprise considering a golden era in the 70s and 80s for the country, which resulted in third place finishes at the 1974 and 1982 World Cups respectively  – so they’re enjoying their best years as a footballing nation for a couple of decades. They have made it to three of the last four major tournaments, including this summer’s European Championships, but this will be their best chance of progression to the knockout stages yet.

The nucleus of Poland’s squad has developed considerably since failing to make it past the group stages four years ago. With the safe-hands of Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny and a trio of Bundesliga-winning Borussia Dortmund players, Franciszek Smuda’s men have the ability to cause a surprise or two. A recent 0-0 draw against Portugal and a win over Latvia suggest that they come in to the tournament with a bit of form as well.

Number One: Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny has been in fine form this term

Number One: Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny has been in fine form this term

While Szczęsny and Polish compatriot and second choice keeper Łukasz Fabiański have plied their trade in the Premier League for a few seasons now, it is their Bundesliga-based trio who have made the biggest stir this season.

Dortmund, under the guidance of charismatic boss Jürgen Klopp, pipped Champions League finalists Bayern Munich to the league title for the second consecutive season and defeated Bayern 5-2 in the German Cup Final to round off a great season. Much of their success has been down to the influence of their Polish contingent, despite plenty of top German talent at their disposal.

Robert Lewandowski, who is being linked with a big money move to Manchester United this summer, scored 30 goals to fire Dortmund to glory, and he could well be an outside contender for the Euro 2012 Golden boot. Poland’s captain, Jakub Błaszczykowski, made two assists in the German Cup final and has been a regular in the side since 2007 and Łukasz Piszczek, has been a key part of the Dortmund defence this term.

Not only are they top class players, but they come in with crucial confidence that could reflect in strong performances on the pitch. German giants Dortmund had been dormant for the best part of a decade before their 2011 title success, and it is testament to the quality of the three Polish players that they won the league again – despite star midfielder Nuri Sahin leaving for Real Madrid and German wonderkid Mario Götze being ruled out with a hip injury for a large period of the season.

Lewandowski is the hosts’ star man, and undoubtedly they will be expecting great things of him, but the whole squad will have a passionate home crowd on their side and that could inspire them to progression from their group. Poland have been drawn against Czech Republic, Greece and Russia in arguably the weakest group of the tournament and – as we saw when Ghana had the whole of Africa on their side at the 2010 World Cup, home favourites are capable of building up a real head of steam and performing well above their expectations.

Of course there are a lot of very strong European teams that Poland will have to face if they are to upset the odds and progress to the latter stages of the tournament, but there is always a possibility of a dark horse in a major tournament like this. Ghana were agonisingly close to the World Cup semi-finals two years ago, and Poland’s Group A opposition Greece shocked everyone by going all the way in Euro 2004. Who knows, maybe this could be another one of those special years when the form guide goes well and truly out of the window.

Derek Brewer, MCC CEO, looks forward to first Test

Newly appointed MCC Chief Executive Officer Derek Brewer looks ahead to the first test of the summer at Lord’s, as England face West Indies.

This interview was for Lord’s TV’s live match day feed as England took on the West Indies at the Home of Cricket. Click here for the live match day link.