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Self-interest overrides global development as ICC confirms ten-team World Cup

With the World Cup final still fresh in the memory, the ICC Executive Board met on Monday and confirmed that the next tournament, to be held in Australia and New Zealand, will be contested only by the ten Test-playing full members. That means there will be no place in 2015 for associate members such as Ireland and the Netherlands.

It is a decision which says much about the ICC’s determination to maximise commercial revenues and protect its elite club of full members at the expense of the game’s global development. It will also try the patience of both fans and casual viewers, many of whom consider the current format too long and drawn-out.

In its press release following the Executive Board meeting, the ICC said:

The Executive Board confirmed their decision made in October 2010 that the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand and the ICC Cricket World Cup in England in 2019 will be a 10-team event. The Board agreed that the 2015 World Cup will comprise the existing 10 Full Members, however, they gave notice to all Full Members that participation in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup will be determined on the basis of qualification. It was also agreed that post the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 there will be promotion and relegation introduced in the ODI League.

The Board had also decided in October 2010 that the ICC World Twenty20 will comprise 16 teams. This would allow six Associates or Affiliates the opportunity to participate in an ICC Global event every two years.

What’s the impact?

First of all, don’t be distracted by the expansion of the World Twenty20 tournament from 12 to 16 teams. The net effect remains that the associate member nations have been relegated from the sport’s showpiece tournament. Yes, associate members can play in an ICC tournament every two years, but it is like being told you are no longer eligible for the Champions League but can participate twice a year in the Europa League instead. It is scant consolation.

Ireland's Kevin O'Brien will not have the opportunity to repeat his World Cup heroics in 2015

Secondly, why restrict the tournament to only the full members? The ICC one-day international rankings shows that Ireland are currently tenth, one place ahead of full member Zimbabwe. The Irish more than held their own at this World Cup, winning two matches including a thrilling triumph over England, and in the 2007 tournament even qualified for the quarter-finals ahead of Pakistan. Zimbabwe beat only lowly Canada and Kenya and have progressed beyond the initial group stage just twice in their history (1999 and 2003). Indeed, the majority of their previous participations have resulted in a bottom-place finish.

Can you imagine FIFA deciding to scrap the qualifying competition for the 2014 World Cup and instead declaring that it will only be open to the nations represented by the 24 members of its Executive Committee? I think not.

The ICC’s decision now means that an Ireland side who are more than capable of holding their own with the Test-playing nations will be unable to participate until at least 2019. And even then, that is uncertain, with the ICC cagey as to the exact qualification format. It is hard to avoid the feeling of the governing body protecting its nearest and dearest at the expense of other ‘lesser’ countries whose continued development can hardly be helped by exclusion from the top table.

Unsurprisingly, Cricket Ireland chief Warren Deutrom reacted to the news by pointing the finger directly at the ICC:

We’re outraged by this decision. It’s a betrayal of sporting principles and it flies in the face of all the evidence we saw at the World Cup, which was that an associate nation could compete with the best teams in the world.

It’s baffling but am I surprised? Not really, because clearly there are instances where protection of existing privileges is considered more important than any other principle – including those of sport, fairness and equality.

In the last four years we have been ranked above one of the teams that now has automatic qualification for the World Cup, Zimbabwe, and there isn’t a single point you can take from that that is remotely justifiable.

When questioned about the possibility of legal action, which could include an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Deutrom added:

Nothing is being ruled out at this stage. Legal action could be a relatively slippery slope but we will examine every possible option.

I have worked in the ICC for the best part of eight or nine years, and I can say that today I am ashamed to be part of that apparatus.

With entry to the World Cup now apparently barred for at least eight years, there is a danger that talented Irish players will not consider a place in the World Twenty20 tournament to be sufficient incentive and will declare themselves eligible for England or abandon cricket altogether. This would set back development of the sport in the country – it is certainly not going to encourage it. How can this be a good thing?

A mixed reaction in Australia

It has been interesting to note the divergence of reaction to this news from different stakeholders in Australia, co-hosts of the next tournament.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland was supportive, believing that a tighter format might reinvigorate the tournament:

Fourteen [competing nations] was unwieldy and sub-optional with a lot of mis-matches and long breaks. Though there was an element of uncertainty about the David-Goliath games, it was hard to generate public interest in them.

However, the Australian media has been more critical, with the Daily Telegraph in particular pulling no punches:

Australia has just become host of cricket’s Shame Games. The showpiece 2015 World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand, now carries the unmistakable stench of rampant cronyism. By banishing Ireland in favour of the game’s most corrupt country, Zimbabwe, the Afro-Asia dominated ICC has once again driven a stake through the heart of the game’s credibility.

Will a smaller World Cup be a shorter World Cup?

One of the few key arguments in support of a smaller World Cup would be the shortening of a tournament which ran to an unwieldy 43 days this time around (and 47 in 2007).

Should any global tournament take this long in an already hectic calendar? Players are away from their families for extended periods and with little opportunity to recharge their batteries between domestic seasons and international tours. This takes its toll physically but also places a heavy mental burden on players, as we saw in this tournament with Michael Yardy‘s withdrawal due to depression.

The ICC could point to the Rugby Union World Cup – this year’s tournament lasts 45 days – but the physical nature of that sport precludes games being played closer together. Besides, that competition involves 20 teams – some of whom are the equivalent of the ICC’s associate members – as opposed to cricket’s 14. And football manages to invite 32 teams to its World Cup and still have everything wrapped up in 31 days.

I know there were big commercial considerations, but was it really in anyone’s interests to have a group phase which took 30 days and 42 games to whittle 14 entrants down to eight quarter-finalists? Indeed, it was not until day 34 – nearly five weeks in – that it felt as if the tournament had started properly, when India dethroned three-time defending champions Australia. That surely cannot be right.

Thankfully, the two semi-finals and the final were thrilling affairs. But that should not cloud the fact that the excitement had been a long time coming, and we had to endure a long, hard slog to get there.

True, the move to a ten-team tournament could result in a shorter tournament. However, it was worrying to read the following tweet from the BBC’s Jonathan Aggers:

As I understand it the [Australia/New Zealand] World Cup will largely be one match per day because TV deal already done. Fewer teams but same [approximate] length.

It’s easy to see why commercial considerations could lead the ICC down this path. If true, it would certainly echo comments made by ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, who told BBC 5 Live’s Sportsweek last Sunday that he considered the length of this year’s tournament to be fine, and that most people seemed to agree. Really?

Learning from football

I’m not normally one to praise FIFA, but the way it has expanded its World Cup should be an object lesson to the ICC. Football’s World Cup has gradually increased the number of participants without becoming bloated, in a tournament which takes just one month.

Furthermore, FIFA does not automatically protect its oldest members. The number of places reserved for European teams has gradually eroded – 13 in 2010. If qualification was based solely on historical importance or FIFA ranking Europe would have closer to 20 places, and there would be barely any teams from outside Europe and South America. (There were 14 at the 2010 tournament, six of whom were ranked outside the top 32.) Okay, that means every now and then a ‘major’ power such as England or the Netherlands fails to qualify, but the finals tournament is never any worse for that.

Just imagine what the football World Cup might be like if FIFA behaved as the ICC have just done. The World Cup would probably be reduced to just 16 teams – including Scotland as an automatic qualifier – with Asia, Africa and other smaller confederations left out in the cold. There would be one game a day, and the tournament would probably take closer to two months than one to complete. Ridiculous, no?

I realise I’m being a bit harsh on the ICC here. The differing attitudes between it and FIFA are driven largely by the political power bases in each sport: Africa/Asia in cricket versus the disproportionate power wielded by men such as CONCACAF’s odious Jack Warner in football. But the fact remains that a football World Cup is a celebration of diversity and growth in which England scrape through the group stages only to lose early in the knockout rounds, whereas the cricket World Cup is, for 2015 at least, a closed shop in which England scrape through the group stages only to lose early in the knockout rounds. One is democratic, the other an elitist boys’ club. I know which system I’m happier with.

A potential solution?

To attract casual fans and keep them engaged, the tournament certainly needs to be shorter. So what is the solution?

I would actually advocate increasing the number of teams back to 16 and returning to a format of four groups of four. This would reduce the first phase to 24 matches – this year’s two groups of seven required 42 games – and could be finished in less than two weeks, as it was in 2007. Yes, there would still be some mismatches, but viewers will accept a handful of one-sided games if they are scheduled at a decent pace. And, lest we forget, matches between bigger teams can be equally one-sided, with two of the quarter-finals in this tournament (West Indies versus Pakistan, England versus Sri Lanka) being won by ten wickets.

It would also have the benefit of making the eight qualifiers less predictable. Did we really need to spend 30 days to determine that the eight quarter-finalists would be Australia, India, Pakistan, England, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies – i.e. the top eight nations?

In 2007, the shorter group format promoted Bangladesh and Ireland into the last eight at the expense of India and Pakistan. The ICC came under fire for allowing two of their biggest markets to exit the tournament so early – which is presumably why we had the turgid groups of seven this time – but that should be the teams’ problem, not the ICC’s. Nobody wants to see too many favourites exiting early, but equally no one wants things to be utterly predictable either. Two qualifiers from groups of four is a system which has worked perfectly well at the football World Cup. Why not cricket?

After the group phase, we would move straight into knockout quarter-finals, and so on. The tournament would be done and dusted in four weeks, and the quality of the group round would undoubtedly improve with the added importance of not slipping up early on.

Of course, it will never happen. It is in the ICC’s interest to squeeze every last drop of revenue out of the tournament, and in the host nations’ interest to wring cash out of sponsors and fans – even if the quality of the product suffers as a result. And it is also important for the top countries to minimise the risk of an embarrassingly early exit. But what is the point if casual fans simply ignore the group stage, and if the smaller countries never really have a shot at progressing? How does that promote the game to a broader global audience?

The ICC’s move may well maximise the revenue-generating potential of the World Cup and keep its more powerful members happy. But if part of its role is the development of the game in terms of both participation and reaching new viewers and fans, I fear this is a sadly misguided – and utterly selfish – step backwards.

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The week in numbers: w/e 3/4/11

24Novak Djokovic defeated world number one Rafael Nadal 4-6 6-3 7-6 to claim the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, his fourth title of the year. His 2011 record is now 24-0, the best start to a year in men’s tennis since Ivan Lendl had 25 consecutive victories in 1986.

9 – Total points scored by Matthew Stevens in his 5-0 defeat by Stephen Hendry at the China Open. It was the lowest aggregate score ever in a televised best-of-nine match. Hendry scored 444 points.

Williams scored four centuries in his 5-4 defeat by Stephen Lee

4 – Centuries scored by Mark Williams (100, 113, 104 and 137) in his China Open match against Stephen Lee. He nonetheless lost 5-4.

17 – Despite Asamoah Gyan‘s 91st-minute equaliser for Ghana at Wembley, England remain unbeaten in all 17 games they have played against African opposition, winning 11 and drawing six.

9 – Goals scored by Holland against Hungary in the space of five days. They followed up a 4-0 win in Budapest with a 5-3 victory in Amsterdam.

1Germany were beaten 2-1 by Australia in a friendly in Mönchengladbach. It was the first time they have ever lost a match to a nation outside of Europe and South America.

150José Mourinho‘s record of 150 consecutive home games without defeat as a manager ended when Real Madrid were defeated 1-0 by Sporting Gijón. Before that, his previous home loss came in March 2002 (Porto 2 Beira 3).

3 – Defending Masters champion Phil Mickelson will go to Augusta in good form after winning the Houston Open by three shots.

The cricket World Cup in numbers

6New Zealand lost their semi-final to Sri Lanka by five wickets. It was the sixth time in ten World Cups they have reached the semi-finals, but have yet to win one.

4Sachin Tendulkar was dropped four times (on 27, 45, 70 and 81) before being finally dismissed for 85 as India beat Pakistan by 29 runs in their semi-final.

275 – Target set by Sri Lanka (who scored 274/6) in the final, which India successfully overhauled to make it the most successful run chase ever in a World Cup final.

Jayawardene scored an unbeaten century in the final

103 – In defeat, Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene scored an unbeaten 103 off just 88 balls.

500 – Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan finished as the tournament’s highest run-scorer, with 500 at an average of 62.50.

21 – Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi and India’s Zaheer Khan finished as the tournament’s leading bowlers with 21 each after Khan claimed the wickets of Upul Tharanga and Chamara Kapugedera in the final.

14 – New Zealand’s Ross Taylor hit 14 sixes, three more than any other player at the World Cup.

The Premier League in numbers

2 – Manchester United conceded two penalties in a Premier League match for the first time in their 4-2 win at West Ham. (Mark Noble converted both of them.)

Hernández has now scored five times as a sub

5 – United’s Javier Hernández scored his fifth league goal of the season as a substitute, more than any other player. (It was his 11th Premier League goal overall.)

4 Kevin Phillips hit Birmingham‘s joint-fastest goal of the season in the fourth minute, as they beat Bolton 2-1.  also scored in the fourth minute of the reverse fixture at Bolton back in August.

1 Everton were finally awarded their first penalty of the season (scored by Leighton Baines) in their 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. They were the last Premier League team to be given a penalty this season.

11 – Everton have now failed to win in their last 11 matches played on April 2nd. They last won on this date in 1938.

12 West Bromwich Albion‘s 2-1 win over Liverpool broke a run of 12 successive league defeats against the Anfield club.

8 Steven N’Zonzi was sent off during Blackburn‘s 0-0 draw at Arsenal. The Gunners have seen more opponents sent off (eight) in Premier League matches than any other club – and all have been straight reds.

5Manchester City had five different goalscorers (Adam Johnson, Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Patrick Vieira and Yaya Touré) as they thrashed Sunderland 5-0.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times@InfostradaLiveCricinfo and @StatManJon.)

The week in numbers: w/e 27/3/11

Bonds faces the possibility of being expunged from the MLB record books (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

762 – Career home runs struck by Barry Bonds, a Major League Baseball record. Bonds is now facing trial for perjury, having previously told a grand jury that he had never knowingly taken performance enhancing drugs. He is alleged to have doped as part of the Balco conspiracy.

4Oxford won the 157th University Boat Race by a surprisingly easy four lengths over favourites Cambridge on Saturday.

19 – Age of Oxford’s Constantine Louloudis, the youngest rower on either crew. The Londoner is considered to have a chance of representing Great Britain at next year’s Olympics.

1 – Rowers named Redgrave racing on Boat Race weekend. Natalie, 19-year old daughter of Sir Steve Redgrave, was part of the winning Oxford crew in the women’s race in Henley on Sunday.

3Sebastian Vettel secured a dominant victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne. It was his third consecutive win dating back to last season, and his 11th overall in F1.

New Wales captain Ramsey got off to a losing start

20 – At the age of 20, Aaron Ramsey became Wales‘s youngest captain ever, but England nevertheless won 2-0 at the Millennium Stadium thanks to early goals by Frank Lampard and Darren Bent.

49 Spain came from 1-0 down to beat the Czech Republic 2-1 courtesy of two second half goals by David Villa. They have now have lost just one of their 49 competitive home matches since 1991 (1-0 vs Greece, June 2003).

118 – World ranking of Alex Bogomolov Jr, who defeated Andy Murray in straight sets at the Sony Ericsson Open. It is the second consecutive tournament in which Murray has lost to a qualifier, having been eliminated from BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells by Donald Young.

1 – Number of gold medals won by the Great Britain team at cycling’s World Track Championships at Apeldoorn in Holland. Only the women’s team pursuit won their event, although Britain did win three silver and five bronze medals. Australia topped the medal table with eight golds.

The cricket World Cup in numbers

8Pakistan’s slow bowlers took eight of the ten West Indies wickets in bowling their opponents out for a miserly 112 in their quarter-final victory.

Ponting produced a brave century in defeat

104 – Australia captain Ricky Ponting scored 104 against India – two more runs than he had managed in total in his five previous innings in the tournament – but it was not enough to prevent the three-time defending champions from sliding to defeat.

1996 – India’s quarter-final win means someone other than Australia will win the World Cup for the first time since 1996. It will also be the first final not to feature the Aussies since 1992.

51South Africa lost their last seven wickets for just 51 runs, throwing away a seemingly dominant position as New Zealand won a thrilling match by 49 runs.

3Eoin Morgan was dropped three times by Sri Lanka en route to making 50 during England’s ten-wicket quarter-final defeat.

2Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Thuranga are the only opening pair to both make centuries in a World Cup match. Their unbeaten stand of 231 against England marked the second time they have achieved this feat.

3 – England have now lost on all three occasions after winning the toss and choosing to bat in a World Cup knockout match (also against India in 1983 and Sri Lanka in 1996).

2 – Two of the four quarter-finals were won without losing a wicket by the team batting second – Pakistan against the West Indies, and Sri Lanka against England.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times@InfostradaLiveCricinfo and @StatManJon.)

The week in numbers: w/e 20/3/11

Evans won Tirreno-Adriatico by 11 seconds

21 – Australia’s Cadel Evans became the 21st different winner of the Tirreno-Adriatico seven-day cycling race, defeating Robert Gesink by just 11 seconds.

1 – Australia’s Matt Goss became the first non-European to claim the Milan-San Remo one-day classic, winning a thrilling eight-man sprint in Saturday’s 102nd edition of the race.

2Inter Milan became only the second club ever to win a Champions League knockout tie after losing the first leg at home. They won 3-2 at Bayern Munich, going through on the away goals rule after the tie finished 3-3 on aggregate.

0 – Number of representatives from Germany, Italy, England and France in the quarter-finals of the Europa League – the first time this has happened in the history of the Europa League/UEFA Cup.

27Barcelona‘s 2-1 win over Getafe means they are now unbeaten in their last 27 La Liga matches, a new club record.

8 England‘s points total in the 24-8 defeat to Ireland which denied them a grand slam. It was their lowest score in a Six Nations game since a 31-6 loss to France in March 2006.

25 Brian O’Driscoll scored his 25th Five/Six Nations try against England, breaking the competition record set by Scotland‘s Ian Smith between 1924-33.

18Novak Djokovic improved his 2011 record to 18-0 by defeating world number one Rafael Nadal 4-6 6-3 6-2 in the BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells. Djokovic had already guaranteed he would move up to the number two spot by defeating Roger Federer in their semi-final.

60:23 – At his first competitive attempt at the distance, Mo Farah won the New York half-marathon in a new British record time of 60:23.

The cricket World Cup in numbers

131 Ireland‘s 131-run defeat by South Africa was their largest losing margin in a World Cup match, surpassing their 129-run loss to New Zealand in 2007.

Duminy fell one run short of a century against Ireland

99 – In that same game, South Africa’s J P Duminy became only the second batsman (after Adam Gilchrist) to be dismissed for 99 at a World Cup.

183 Shane Watson and Brad Haddin put on 183 runs, the highest opening-wicket partnership for Australia at the World Cup, as they cruised to a seven-wicket win over Canada.

2 – The NetherlandsRyan ten Doeschate scored his second century of this tournament, tying with A B de Villiers and Sachin Tendulkar. However, his 106 was not enough to avoid defeat as Paul Stirling‘s 101 (off 72 balls) helped Ireland to a six-wicket win.

206Bangladesh‘s 206 -run defeat by South Africa – they were bowled out for just 78 – was their largest margin of defeat in a World Cup match, and their second-largest in all one-day internationals.

34Pakistan ended Australia’s 34-game winning streak after bowling out the defending champions for just 176.

0Kenya‘s 176-run defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe ensured they finished this World Cup with no wins from their six games. The Netherlands were similarly winless.

21 – The West Indies lost their last eight wickets for just 34 runs as they were beaten by India by 80 runs in the final group phase match. They have not beaten a Test-playing nation in an ODI since June 2009 – a period of 21 months.

The Premier League in numbers

31 – Including blocked attempts, Tottenham had 31 shots in their goalless draw with West Ham.

Van Persie averages exactly a goal per game in his last 19 appearances (image courtesy of arsenal.com)

19 – In scoring Arsenal‘s equaliser in their 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion, Robin van Persie improved his record to 19 goals in his last 19 Premier League games.

28 – West Brom have now failed to keep a clean sheet in 28 consecutive matches – a new Premier League record.

1Steven Reid‘s third-minute goal in that game marked the first time Arsenal had conceded a goal in the first 15 minutes of a league game this season – making them the last team to do so.

4Stoke City‘s 4-0 win over Newcastle marked the first time they have ever scored more than three times in a Premier League game.

22Junior Hoilett‘s 93rd-minute equaliser in Blackburn‘s 2-2 draw with Blackpool should have come as little surprise. There have now been 22 goals in the last ten minutes of matches involving these two teams this season.

18Everton‘s 2-1 win over Fulham was their 18th straight home league win against these opponents (and the tenth in the Premier League era).

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times@InfostradaLiveCricinfo and @StatManJon.)

The week in numbers: w/e 6/3/11

8 – Number of medals won by the Great Britain athletics team at the European Indoor Athletics Championships – their best tally on foreign soil in 22 years.

0 – Amount of Lottery funding for 37-year old athlete Helen Clitheroe, who claimed gold in the 3,000 metres. Previously, her biggest achievement had been a Commonwealth bronze in the 1,500 metres.

Contador - back and winning already

1Alberto Contador won the overall classification at the Vuelta de Murcia, in his second event since being cleared of doping charges.

3 – American skier Lindsey Vonn clinched this season’s World Cup downhill, super-G and super combined titles within the space of three days.

214 – World ranking of James Ward, Great Britain‘s highest-ranked representative in their Davis Cup match against Tunisia. Ward’s epic 3-6 6-3 3-6 6-3 8-6 win over Malek Jaziri clinched victory as Britain eventually ran out 4-1 winners.

4 – There were just four goals scored in Saturday’s seven French Ligue 1 matches.

The cricket World Cup in numbers

215 – The West Indies‘ margin of victory over the Netherlands, their largest in all one-day internationals.

6Kemar Roach‘s hat-trick against the Netherlands was the sixth at a World Cup, and the first by a West Indian. He finished with figures of 6/27.

2 – In Sri Lanka‘s comfortable win over Kenya, Lasith Malinga became the first bowler to pick up two hat-tricks in World Cup matches. His previous one came against South Africa in 2007.

O'Brien hit the fastest ever World Cup ton

50 – Balls required by Kevin O’Brien to bring up his century in Ireland‘s thrilling win over England, beating the previous World Cup record of 66 by Australia‘s Matthew Hayden. He finished with 113 off 63 balls.

327 – England’s total batting first against Ireland. It was the highest successful run chase ever in a World Cup match.

2New Zealand completed only their second ten-wicket World Cup win after skittling out Zimbabwe for 162. Their first came against Kenya in their opening game of this tournament.

58Bangladesh‘s total against the West Indies, the lowest ever by a Full Member nation at the World Cup, and the fourth-lowest by any team at the tournament.

171 – England became  the only team to have successfully defended a total of less than 175 twice at a World Cup. They scored just 171, but a South Africa batting collapse saw them dismissed for 165.

The Premier League week in numbers

Vela scored crucial goals from the bench twice

2 – On-loan Carlos Vela‘s late goal earned West Bromwich Albion a point at Stoke. It was the second time in as many games the Mexican striker had come off the bench to score an equaliser in the 87th minute or later.

27 – West Brom have now gone 27 matches without keeping a clean sheet in the Premier League. Leaky.

4Sunderland‘s 0-0 draw at Arsenal snapped a run of four consecutive defeats.

6 – Stoke’s 3-0 defeat at West Ham was their sixth consecutive away defeat.

3Ivan Klasnic has scored the winning goal in his last three appearances for Bolton. They beat Aston Villa 3-2.

Zamora scored the winner on his return after a six-month absence

89Fulham‘s Bobby Zamora scored a controversial 89th-minute penalty to seal a 3-2 win over Blackburn on his first appearance after recovering from a broken leg in September.

607 – In starting yesterday’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, Ryan Giggs made his 607th league appearance, breaking Bobby Charlton‘s Manchester United club record.

3Dirk Kuyt became only the third player to score a Premier League hat-trick against Manchester United, after Egil Ostenstad and David Bentley.

10Javier Hernandez, who scored United’s late consolation goal, has now scored 10 Premier League goals from only 14 shots on target.

323Jermain Defoe scored twice in Tottenham‘s 3-3 draw at Wolves. It had been 323 days since his previous league goal.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times@InfostradaLiveCricinfo and @StatManJon.)

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