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SPORT | IN BRIEF

PONTING FEARS ENGLAND CHALLENGE
CRICKET: Australia captain Ricky Ponting admits his side will be up against it when they take on a rejuvenated England side in the NatWest series – but is confident they will ride to the challenge.

Ponting leads out the Aussies for the first of the five-match series at the Rose Bowl this afternoon against a limited-overs England side still buoyant from their World Twenty20 success.

The touring skipper said: “When we are faced with a bit of adversity, the guys normally put their hands up and leap to a new level. I dare the players to surprise us with performances.”


COOK TO LEAD LIONS SQUAD
CRICKET: Alastair Cook will lead an England Lions squad to take on India A and West Indies A in a one-day tournament next month.

The three teams play each other twice before a final in Worcester on 8 July.

Veteran Kent batsman Darren Stevens has been called up to the squad, while Surrey wicketkeeper Steven Davies is preferred to Matt Prior.


YOUNGS IS THE ONE TO CATCH
RUGBY UNION: Richard Wigglesworth says the rest of the England scrum-halves are playing “catch-up” to Leicester’s Ben Youngs after his outstanding debut performance in the 21-20 victory over Australia in the second Test on Saturday.

“You have to give everything you have got and we are playing catch-up to Youngs,” the new Saracens star said of his 20-year-old rival for the No9 shirt.

“Fair play to him, he was outstanding. Even if you take away the try the rest of his game
was really impressive. He has certainly set the bar very high.”


SAINTS ADD SCRUM-HALF PAIR
RUGBY UNION: Northampton have strengthened their squad with the signing of two scrum-halves for the new Guinness Premiership campaign.

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder has added former England Under-18 international Ryan Glynn to the ranks from Sale, while South Africa-born Stuart Commins joins him at Franklin’s Gardens from the Western Province Under-21 squads.