Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

No Aussie World Cup bid, good news for Asia?

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Great news that Australia will not be bidding for the 2015 and 2019 rugby World Cups.

Not because Australia wouldn’t do as fantastic a job as it did in 2003 but because it increases the chance that Japan might finally get the nod to host the tournament in Asia for the first time.

Japan's Taku Inokuchi walk on the pitch with Canada's Carpenter at the end of a Rugby World Cup match in Bordeaux

Horse-trading among the old boys club of the senior rugby nations gave New Zealand the 2011 tournament ahead of Japan, making a mockery of the game’s oft-trumpeted ambition to be a truly global sport.

While Japan are still highly unlikely to get out of the pool stage at the World Cup, every encouragement has to be given to a country which already has more than 125,000 registered players and is clearly the continent’s top rugby nation.

England reject Vaughan, supremacy for Australia assured?

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SPORT CRICKET AUSTRALIASporting the maniacal grin of a Bond villain caressing his favourite pet, Australia coach Tim Nielsen must have held England’s teamsheet for the series against West Indies this month comfortable in the knowledge that world domination is around the corner once again.

England’s decision to omit Ian Bell, Steve Harmison and, most significantly, Michael Vaughan goes against one of Australia’s most successful adages — always do what your opponent would least like you to do.

India fears Davis Cup decision may spark other no shows

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Indian officials will be keeping their fingers crossed that Australia’s decision to boycott next month’s zonal Davis Cup tie in Chennai over security fears will turn out to be an isolated case and not one which will set a precedent for other sporting events.

India has ambitions of becoming a global sporting destination and over the next two years, the Commonwealth Games, cricket World Cup, a Formula One race, hockey World Cup and badminton world championships are all scheduled to take place in the country. However, the ambush of the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore last month triggered fears that sport could become a target for more attacks in South Asia.

New England coach Flower is used to daunting tasks

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Andy Flower, appointed England director of cricket on Wednesday, was responsible with Zimbabwe team mate Henry Olonga for a startling and unprecedented protest in his team’s opening 2003 World Cup match.

Flower and Olonga took the field against Namibia in Harare on Feb. 10, 2003, wearing black armbands to “mourn the death of democracy in our beloved Zimbabwe”.

Aussie Rules players fined over chicken ‘sex’ video

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I think this has to go in the ‘you couldn’t make it up’ file. Enough said.

Two leading Australian Rules players have been fined A$5,000 (US$3,551) each for their part in making an offensive video showing a rubber chicken simulating sex with a chicken carcass.

Indian cricket fans are surely the world’s most demanding

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India have just won their first test series on New Zealand soil in 41 years after rain spoilt their chances of winning the third and final test at the Basin Reserve.

The victory was their third successive test series win since defeating top-ranked Australia in November.

Opinions divided on England’s Ashes leg-up to Aussies

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The recent announcement that two Australian cricketers will play English county cricket before the Ashes has been met with stinging criticism and bewilderment in the UK.

Opening batsman Phil Hughes, who’s just played in the third test against South Africa and is fresh from becoming the youngest batsman (at 20) to hit two centuries in a match, and opening bowler Stuart Clark, chief destroyer of England in the 2006-7 Ashes with 26 wickets, will play for Middlesex and Kent respectively.

Australia’s Voges puts vows before cricket

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Australian batsman Adam Voges has turned down the chance to play for his country to marry his sweetheart. 

The 29-year-old Voges announced on Tuesday he had withdrawn from the Australian one-day team to tour South Africa in order to stay home and tie the knot.

Rashid omission shows England are still behind Aussies

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While England’s opponents for the famous urn this summer used their last test match to bleed new talent before the Ashes, it comes as no surprise that England spurned the opportunity to do exactly the same with leg-spinner Adil Rashid.

Australia, visibly in decline after a spate of retirements, started the first test match at Johannesburg against South Africa, one of the top test nations, with three debutants.

Flat pitches a further concern for cricket

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To those uninitiated with cricket, to hear complaints about a playing surface being ‘flat’ would only further confuse them. As if the game, also hit by tragedy this week, wasn’t complex enough.

Now, a recent trend of high scores has led to criticism from some of the game’s former players, who are equally baffled by pitches that serve up nothing more than run feasts.

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