Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

England need Twenty20 rethink

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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.

A swashbuckling 100-run victory over Australia in their first ever Twenty20 clash in 2005 proved the falsest of dawns for England who have won only five of 14 matches since and tried an extraordinary 42 different players in a bid to find the right team.

While other countries have used a core of proven test players as the nucleus of their Twenty20 sides, England have blooded a succession of journeymen county players in the vain hope that they would be up to the job.

England’s big fish rise from the depths

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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.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

British Olympic soccer team becomes right royal farce

There has not been one since 1960, the Scottish don’t want its return, neither do the Welsh, nor the Northern Irish and yet the prospect of a British soccer team at the 2012 London Olympics remains.

The English Football Association is refusing to relinquish an idea that nobody else seems to care about.

Plodding England undone by return to 60s mentality

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England and their captain Andrew Strauss were slammed from every direction for their safety-first declaration on the final day of the last test against the West Indies – which merely spared them the criticism they should have got for their performance on the first two days.

Strauss said it was a match he was prepared to lose to give himself the chance to win it and square the series, yet from the toss he went about his task as if he was facing the Windies of old rather than the nervy side desperate to secure a draw any way they could.

Sports photo of the week

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Here’s Sports Pictures editor Greg Bos’s view: Photographer Phil Brown captured a superb action moment from the cricket match between England and the West Indies. He’s got the ball in the frame, the player with both feet off the ground and a clean dark background to make the image standout.

ORIGINAL CAPTION: West Indies’ Lendl Simmons reacts to an Amjad Khan bouncer during their cricket test match against England at Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain March 8, 2009. REUTERS/Philip Brown

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.

Plenty of winners from drawn test as Stanford loses ECB deal

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In a week when Twenty20 cricket’s highest profile backer fell from grace, the drawn test between West Indies and England provided a strong reminder of the enduring quality of the long-form of the game.

The fraud charges against Allen Stanford have led the England and Wales Cricket Board to end its deal with him, meaning the Stanford-sponsored international Twenty20 events in England will never happen. 

Ambitious French rugby clubs seem immune to crisis

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Brive-bound Riki Flutey (R)

Gone are the days when top French rugby players such as Philippe Sella, Thomas Castaignede and Raphael Ibanez were crossing the Channel to improve their skills and make their fortunes, writes Jean-Paul Couret.

French clubs, seemingly immune to the global economic crisis, have reversed the tide and are now threatening to plunder the English Premiership.

What impact will Stanford charges have on cricket?

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U.S. authorities charged Texas billionaire Allen Stanford and three of his companies with “massive ongoing fraud” on Tuesday as federal agents swooped in on his U.S. headquarters.

The England and West Indies cricket boards quickly suspended sponsorship negotiations with the financier following the news.

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