The Ashes: England clutching at straws

Updated 08 December 2017
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The Ashes: England clutching at straws

LONDON: Hope is one of those double-edged emotions, on one level it’s positive, hinting at what is possible, and on another it can mask reality and delude people. But such is modern-day sport that positivity is all that is really allowed, no negative talk can contaminate the dressing room.
That’s where England are at the moment — talking a good game while seemingly ignoring the bigger picture.
It’s all well and good claiming the side has left “scars” on Australia, as Trevor Bayliss did, while forgetting the hosts once again inflicted the much bigger wound of a 120-run defeat.
It’s also understandable that you would highlight your belief that the side has ”out-performed Australia” during periods of the two Tests “but just not over five days”, as Joe Root did, while forgetting that the ability to perform for all five days of a Test is pretty key to winning them.
Talk can only do so much and England head into the third Test in Perth seemingly clutching on to it as a panacea for the side’s many problems — the lack of runs from Alastair Cook; the inability to convert 30s into 50s, and 50s into 100s; the lack of an effective spinner; the inability of the left-handers to combat Nathan Lyon, to name only four of many.
It’s one thing to say Australia are “beatable” having lost both Tests by some margin, it’s completely another to then back up those words by actually going out and beating them.
In Perth — where they have not won since 1978 and where the pitch should be a godsend for the Australian pace attack — England are likely to find out that hope over expectation can only get you so far.
 


Good evening, Jeddah! A wave from Neymar for 60,000 Saudi fans

Brazilian footballer Neymar acknowledges cheers from Saudi spectators before the match between Brazil and Argentina at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City. (Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Good evening, Jeddah! A wave from Neymar for 60,000 Saudi fans

  • For many, watching Brazil play Argentina in the “Superclasico de las Americas” was the opportunity of a lifetime
  • I never imagined I would be watching Brazil vs. Argentina in my country: Saudi fan

JEDDAH: Lionel Messi was not there, but Neymar and his Brazilian superstars were — and more than 60,000 Saudi fans loved every minute of their feast of football on Tuesday night at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

For many, watching Brazil play Argentina in the “Superclasico de las Americas” was the opportunity of a lifetime. 

“I always had a dream to see South American teams abroad, but I never expected a Superclasico to come all the way to my hometown,” said Abdullah Sheikh, 25.

Female fans were full of praise for King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for making this moment happen for them. “I am a football fanatic and was always jealous to see my brother going to football matches,” said Anoud Husseini. 

“After the ban was lifted this year, I went to Al-Ahli vs. Al-Batin, and now I’m at the Superclasico and watching my favorite superstars live. It’s a dream come true for me.”

Bayan Qutub, also from Jeddah, told Arab News: “I never imagined I would be watching Brazil vs. Argentina in my country. Although I am not a diehard football fan, witnessing two giants lock horns in my city is a big thing, and so far it is full of entertainment for me and my family.”

And the match? Brazil won 1-0 — but the real winners were those 60,000 ecstatic football fans.