Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Test cricket scores spectacular own goal

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cricket

The first day of the second test between England and West Indies unfolded meekly in front of a sparse crowd in Chester Le Street on Thursday.

England made smooth but cautious progress towards what they hope will be a match and series-winning first-innings score.

But they did it in near silence as the few spectators as the few people present at the picturesque ground watched the proceedings with an air of resigned inevitability.

Many of them shivered in the chilly conditions and the West Indies fielders ambled around with their whites fluttering in the stiff north-east breeze.

English shuttlers falter in bid to overtake China

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Lin Dan

Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy made what looked like a highly optimistic prediction last month when he said he thought Britain could eventually overtake China as the dominant power in badminton.

“There will be no compromise. China are the competition but we can be bigger,” said Christy, who is in charge of developing talent for the 2012 London Olympics and beyond.

Rain, Ravi Bopara and a gigantic leap of faith

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There was much tut-tutting* when we heard there were still 19,000 tickets available for the first cricket Test at Lord’s — officially the first day of summer for those of us brought up in the UK.

So only 15,000 or so were brave enough to book a day off work and pay a small fortune for a ticket to watch today’s first day — at best around a fifth of the first of two matches between two teams who only finished playing each other in the Caribbean a couple of months ago — and that if the weather holds.

We know our Onions, but what about other foody names?

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I defy anyone to read the name Graham Onions without letting off a short, poorly subdued snigger. It’s a brilliant name that brings out the schoolboy humour in all of us.

The Durham seamer’s call-up into the England cricket squad propelled him to the pantheon of headline writers’ dreams alongside Usain Bolt, Ian Rush and Mardy Fish.

Hoggard deserves better

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I saw this story and was very surprised. The usually mild-mannered Matthew Hoggard has hit out at his treatment after being dropped by the England cricket side 13 months ago.

“My contact with the ECB has been zero and so I’m completely and utterly not even thinking about a recall,” said the 32-year-old pace bowler, who was part of the attack which beat Australia in 2005.

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”.

Bowlers, not captains, have been key to England success

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After the Pietersen affair was followed by a mixed West Indies tour under Andrew Strauss, John Mehaffey looks at the role of England captain.

Amid the sound and fury generated by Kevin Pietersen’s abrupt departure as England cricket captain, The Guardian newspaper offered an irreverent take on a national institution.

Who should captain the Lions in South Africa?

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ireland

The Six Nations provided a stirring finale and a lifetime of memories for Ireland fans but few watching from South Africa will have been left quaking in their boots ahead of this year’s British and Irish Lions tour.

That is exactly how wily Lions coach Ian McGeechan will want it as he plots a repeat of 1997 when his unfancied group triumphed there in the first Lions tour of the professional era.

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.

You can beat Europe’s top teams but you can’t beat the Six Nations

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odriscolSouthern hemisphere fans might scoff at the quality of Europe’s premier rugby competition but, yet again, the Six Nations championship has proved itself unrivalled when it comes to unpredictability and excitement.

Having waited 61 years for their second grand slam, Ireland were within seconds of having it cruelly ripped from their grasp, only for Stephen Jones’s last-minute penalty to fall short in Saturday’s nail-gnawingly tense Cardiff finale.

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