England defender Gary Cahill gets the better of Sportsmail's Charles Sale in first 'Player vs Press' darts match as Jesse Lingard shows off bowling skills
- Cahill took on Sportsmail's Charles Sale in a darts match at the team's base
- The Three Lions defender got the better of the Sports Agenda columnist
- The darts board is one of many activities at England's headquarters in Repino
- Jesse Lingard, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold also went bowling
- England are counting down to their World Cup opener against Tunisia
By Adam Shergold for MailOnline
Published: 10:33 EDT, 14 June 2018 | Updated: 10:47 EDT, 14 June 2018
England defender Gary Cahill got the better of Sportsmail's Charles Sale in the first 'Player vs Press' darts match at their World Cup base in Repino.
A dart board has been installed in the media centre at England's headquarters near Saint Petersburg and a scoring chart with 'Players' and 'Press' set up to keep track of the challenge matches.
There has been tension in the past between the England squad and journalists reporting on them, culminating in the Football Association's bizarre refusal to tell the Press who won a player darts tournament during Euro 2016 in France.
Sportsmail's Charles Sale takes on England defender Gary Cahill in a darts match at the team's World Cup base in Repino, near Saint Petersburg
Cahill steps up to the oche in the first 'Player vs Press' darts match of the World Cup
Cahill beat Sale in the match as the assembled media watched on at the England media centre
Sports Agenda columnist Sale looks closely at where Cahill's final dart landed on the board
The Chelsea defender raises his arms in triumph after the final count-up of scores
Cahill raised his arms in triumph after Sports Agenda columnist Sale verified where his final dart had landed and the pair then shook hands.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has taken steps to defuse some of this tension and embrace a more open relationship between the players and those writing about them.
This included a Super Bowl-style media day at St George's Park prior to England's departure for Russia at which all 23 members of the England squad were available to interview for an hour.
Charles Sale's verdict
As a proud member of the multi-award winning Daily Mail sports team, I feel I have let my newspaper down in losing a three shot darts challenge to Gary Cahill in the England media centre in Repino on Thursday.
The quick darts contest between player and press that is intended to be a feature of all press conferences held there during the tournament was set up by the FA media department.
It was their amusing riposte to the criticism that goalkeeper Joe Hart and others received - mainly from me - for refusing to talk about their in-house darts competition at Euro 2016.
But I'm afraid the big occasion got to me despite having thrown a 20 with my first arrow, that was unfortunately followed by a five and a one - the numbers on either side of the prize 20.
Cahill, who chose to go second, did need all three of his darts to beat my poor score and then celebrated like he'd won the World Cup with arms outspread.
But credit to him and hopefully other England players going forward for embracing the idea that is part of an admirable FA strategy to improve relationships between players and media (at least until the first match).
All I can say in my defence, having fielded an irate call from a Head of Sport not used to Sportsmail coming second is that at least I looked the part.
Jesse Lingard celebrates as some of the England players bowled at the media centre
Kieran Trippier (left), Lingard (middle) and Trent Alexander-Arnold took to the bowling lanes
Manchester United star Lingard enjoyed himself as the England stars bowled on Thursday
The media centre also contains a ten-pin bowling alley, with Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jesse Lingard enjoying a game as the media watched on.
Lingard looked the most impressive at bowling, though several efforts from all participants found their way into the gutter.
Other leisure activities include a pool table, air hockey, table football and a PlayStation with FIFA 18 game.
Lingard was the best of the three England players who took to the bowling alley
Trippier, Lingard and Alexander-Arnold put plenty of effort into their bowling actions
There were some moments of hilarity as well as Lingard's bowl found the gutter
Southgate is making the final adjustments to his team selection and tactics ahead of England's World Cup opener against Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday evening.
From there, England take on Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24 and Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28 to complete Group G.