The Reuters global sports blog
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.
I reckon that’s not too shabby when you consider just how early in the year this match is being played, amid two Champions League soccer semi-final deciders no less, and just how unreliable the British weather is. There’s also the small matter of a huge global recession.
There have been leaps of faith all round this Test. West Indies put England into bat this morning after winning the toss. I thought that was pretty adventurous but most seem to think England would have done the same, with any help for the bowlers likely to come on the first day.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Southern 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.
The second Twenty20 World Cup takes place in England this year and the hosts are facing the prospect of a humiliating experience.
England’s feeble six-wicket loss to the West Indies in Sunday’s one-off match was further proof that they have completely failed to get to grips with the newest form of the game.
England’s recovery was always on the cards International rugby is a small pond with the same big fish taking it in turns to swim at the top. The bonus for those lurking just below, and even for the minnows in the depths, is that unlike in many other major sports they never disappear into the silt completely.
So for England, during Martin Johnson’s struggles, there was always going to be light at the end of the tunnel, though even the World Cup winning-captain must have been shaken by the speed his team finally rushed towards it.