<strong>Durham close in on second title</strong><br />CRICKET: Durham closed in on a second successive LV County Championship division one title yesterday after making a flying start in their crunch match with closest rivals Nottinghamshire.<br /><br />Durham need just 11 points to win the title with two matches to spare.<br /><br />Michael Di Venuto smashed a magnificent unbeaten 219 while fellow opener Kyle Coetzer hit 107 as Durham ended day one on 377-1<br /><br /><strong>Thomas leads Sky assault</strong><br />CYCLING:Olympic gold medallist Geraint Thomas was the star name as cycling&rsquo;s Team Sky announced the capture of their first six riders yesterday.<br /><br />The team, funded by broadcasters BSkyB, expect to take part in next year&rsquo;s Tour de France. Thomas will be joined by former Barloworld team-mates Steve Cummings and Chris Froome, Tour of Ireland champion Russell Downing, Ian Stannard and Peter Kennaugh.<br /><br /><strong>Reds fan Shields is freed </strong><br />FOOTBALL: Liverpool fan Michael Shields walked free from prison yesterday after receiving the royal pardon for the attempted murder of barman Martin Georgiev.<br /><br />The 22-year-old was convicted of the attack, which took place in Varna, Bulgaria on the eve of Liverpool&rsquo;s Champions League triumph in 2005.<br /><br />Justice Secretary Jack Straw issued the royal pardon, stating Mr Shields was &ldquo;morally and technically innocent.&rdquo;