Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Will Gravy make a comeback now cricket is back at the Rec?

After the farcical scenes on Friday at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, where play in the West Indies v England test was abandoned after just ten balls, the authorities pulled out the stops to get the Antigua Recreation Ground fit for a hastily re-arranged test on Sunday.

While embarrassed that the unloved ‘ Sir Viv’ stadium was unable to put on a game, most locals were delighted at the chance to see international cricket back at the traditional home of Antiguan cricket.

I’ve heard so much about cricket at the ‘Rec’, the atmosphere, the intimacy of a small ground in the centre of the capital, as opposed to the concrete modernity of the new venue built out in the middle of nowhere. I had read the obituaries written at the time of the World Cup, lamenting the departure of the old venue next to the prison and a church, and I was looking forward to the chance to see a test at a venue where most thought we would never see international cricket again.

The game went ahead, on a good first day batting track, Andrew Strauss struck a fine 169 as England made 301-3 at the close. It was a nice day’s cricket but sadly not the authentic Caribbean experience that so many recall. The crowd was at least 80 percent English with just pockets of local support. The lager, not the rum, was flowing, burgers and hot dogs were being grilled – and Gravy didn’t dance around the outfield.

This glorious, unpredictable northern festival

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Wales' Leigh Halfpenny celebrates his try against England with Andy Powell during their Six Nations rugby union match in CardiffYou wouldn’t have got great odds on Wales and France coming out on top against England and Scotland respectively on the first day of the second weekend of the Six Nations.

But England beating Wales in the try count at the Millennium Stadium and Scotland taking the game to the French the way they did in St Denis were not forecasts I’d read anywhere.

First day of test abandoned because of dangerous outfield

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Just when West Indies looked back on the up after the drubbing of England in the first test, cricket in the region has suffered another blow to its credibility.   

The first day’s play in the second test match at Antigua was abandoned on Friday because of an ‘unfit and dangerous’ pitch, match referee Alan Hurst said.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

The Spanish secretly love Beckham too

David Beckham was roundly booed when he was booked for dissent in Seville on Wednesday but most of the local fans had their tongues firmly in their cheeks given there is a good deal of affection in Spain for the former Real Madrid midfielder.

His feat in equalling Bobby Moore’s England outfield appearance record of 108 is impressive to the Spanish, whose most-capped non-goalkeeper is Beckham’s former Real colleague Raul with 102, followed by Fernando Hierro on 89.

Just why did England’s cricketers bat so badly?

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England’s abject batting collapse against West Indies on Saturday, a 51 all out, was the third lowest total they have made in test matches and inevitably journalists search for an explanation for how Andrew Strauss’s side batted so badly.

I’m still searching and having read most of the attempts to explain, I’m not convinced that any of them, on their own, provide the answer .

Sports picture of the day: David Beckham

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SOCCER-SPAIN/

To celebrate the launch of the new sports blog we’re reviving a feature from View from the Bird’s Nest and posting a picture of the day from the Reuters file.

Sports Pictures Editor Greg Bos has chosen the first pic, a shot of David Beckham from Spanish photographer Marcelo del Pozo. Over to Greg…

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Beckham deserves to stand alongside Moore

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A great many people, most of whom never saw Bobby Moore play, have decided that it is an insult to his memory that David Beckham will equal his outfield record of 108 England caps if he plays against Spain on Wednesday.

But if Moore , who died in 1993, had been around today you can be sure he would have been the first to sincerely congratulate a fellow gentleman of the game. The Golden-locked hero of 1966 would have recognised much of himself in Goldenballs.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Would a unified Britain have won more than one World Cup?

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Resistance to plans for a unified British soccer team for the 2012 London Olympics means the idea may well be a one-off, if it gets off the ground at all.

The four home nations are wary of setting precedents that could harm their independent status, despite their lack of success as separate entities.

It’s been a long time coming … But are West Indies back?

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CRICKET-ENGLAND/

Too many false dawns over the Caribbean in recent years have induced increasing pessimism among those who follow and cherish West Indies’ cricket.

Isolated flashes of brilliance, such as the record run chase to beat Australia in 2003, have been more than outweighed by a succession of heavy and, sometimes, humiliating defeats.

Only thing red about this England team should be their faces

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My Reuters colleague Padraic Halpin suggested last week that no Englishman would be good enough to merit a place in British and Irish Lions team to face South Africa this year but on the evidence of this weekend none of Martin Johnson’s men would even have a chance of donning the red shirt of Wales.

The only England player to enhance his reputation was Danny Cipriani, having been dropped for the squad to face Italy then seen the Saxons game in Dublin frozen off. The 21-year-old’s confidence took enough of a dent in autumn and Johnson should get some credit for enabling to rebuild it away from the car crash that is the current England team.England's Armitage shrugs off the tackle of Italy's Marcato during their Six Nations rugby match at Twickenham in London

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