Cricket’s T20 giants and minnows ready to battle in USA and Caribbean

Cricket’s T20 giants and minnows ready to battle in USA and Caribbean
The ICC Men's T20 World Cup trophy is displayed at Broward Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida, on May 6, 2024. (AFP/File)
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Updated 27 May 2024
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Cricket’s T20 giants and minnows ready to battle in USA and Caribbean

Cricket’s T20 giants and minnows ready to battle in USA and Caribbean
  • This will be biggest ever T20 World Cup after ICC decided to extend number of teams from 16 to 20 
  • ICC also sees World Cup as launchpad for cricket’s return to the Olympics for Los Angeles 2028

FORT LAUDERDALE, United States: Cricket’s ability to grow its global presence beyond its heartlands, while still maintaining the quality at the highest level, will be tested over the coming month in the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and the United States.

The ninth edition of the tournament, in the fastest and most explosive form of the game, will be the biggest ever after the decision of the International Cricket Council (ICC) to expand the field from 16 nations to 20.

It will also be the first ever major ICC event to be held, in part, in the United States, a country where attempts to grow the sport have consistently failed.

Three American venues — in Florida, Texas and New York — will host 16 of the group stage games including the marquee match between India and Pakistan which will be played in Long Island, New York.

The rest of the tournament will be held in the West Indies, including the Super Eight stage, the semifinals and the final, which will be played at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados.

While cricket is widely played at a recreational level in the United States, with strong presences in all three of the states that have been chosen for games, organizers are realistic about the chances of “converting” mainstream American sports fans.

Instead, they expect that the large immigrant communities from cricket-loving backgrounds, including thousands of India fans in particular, will pack the stadiums.

“I think, number one, we want to celebrate those that are already fanatical lovers of cricket. They deserve to see the best players in the world come into their backyard and have that chance,” T20 World Cup USA, Inc. chief executive Brett Jones told AFP.

“Number two, I think it’s about spiking curiosity in the game,” he said.

The ICC also sees the tournament as a launch pad toward the sport’s return to the Olympics for Los Angeles 2028, when the T20 format will be used.

Major League Cricket, a T20 tournament, was launched last year and also stands to benefit from any growth in interest in the big-hitting, spectacular shortest form.

But it is not only the American market that the ICC is focused upon — the expansion of the tournament has opened up opportunities for newer cricket nations to compete on the big stage.

In recent years, the sport has been able to expand outside of its traditional strongholds with Ireland and Afghanistan earning places in the 12-strong elite with full Test status.

But the ICC see the shortest format as the perfect vehicle for growing the game and this year’s edition will feature three T20 World Cup debutants in the USA, Canada and Uganda.

Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Oman are among the other nations who are relatively new to the big stage and who will be looking to make their mark and grab some attention with an upset win.

With the teams drawn in four groups of five teams, with just the top two advancing, none of the smaller nations are expected to progress beyond the group stage and there is a danger the pool stage could mainly be a ‘weeding out’ process.

India, winners of the first edition in 2007, are the favorites, with their line-up packed with players steeled from the annual Indian Premier League.

Veterans Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli could be playing in their final big tournament and are desperate to make up for defeat in the ODI World Cup final last year.

Despite being the epicenter of the modern game, India have not won a major title since the 2013 Champions Trophy.

Australia, winners of the ODI World Cup last year along with the World Test Championship, opted to leave out their veteran batsman Steve Smith but big-hitting David Warner with the bat and pacemen Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins provide plenty of experience.

“There’s five, six or seven teams that can win it and we know that in tournament play it’s all about getting things right at the right time and winning in big moments,” said Australia captain Mitchell Marsh.

Among those contenders, England are the defending champions, but will be without the star of their 2022 triumph Ben Stokes, with the all-rounder managing his fitness after a knee operation and they will look to skipper Jos Buttler to provide the fireworks with the bat.

Co-hosts West Indies won the tournament in 2012 and 2016 and while the Caribbean team have struggled in the longer formats, they remain a threat in 20-over cricket and are hoping that they can benefit from familiarity with the surfaces in the region.

South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan will all fancy their chances of making an impact in a tournament which always produces surprises.


Hungary coach Rossi blasts ‘passive’ flops after Euro defeat to Switzerland

Hungary coach Rossi blasts ‘passive’ flops after Euro defeat to Switzerland
Updated 57 min 47 sec ago
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Hungary coach Rossi blasts ‘passive’ flops after Euro defeat to Switzerland

Hungary coach Rossi blasts ‘passive’ flops after Euro defeat to Switzerland
  • Rossi’s side failed to live up to their pre-tournament billing as dark horses with a lacklustre display in Cologne
  • “We had a tactical misunderstanding. We didn’t cope and have time to press them. The first half was very bad. We were too passive,” Rossi said

COLOGNE, Germany: Marco Rossi slammed his Hungary flops after their Euro 2024 campaign started with a dismal 3-1 defeat against Switzerland on Saturday, warning it may be “impossible” to defeat hosts Germany in their next match.
Rossi’s side failed to live up to their pre-tournament billing as dark horses with a lacklustre display in Cologne.
They were rocked by first half strikes from Kwadwo Duah and Michel Aebischer, who both netted their maiden international goals.
Barnabas Varga’s second-half header gave Hungary hope, but Breel Embolo came off the bench to net in stoppage-time in his first international appearance since 2022.
“We had a tactical misunderstanding. We didn’t cope and have time to press them. The first half was very bad. We were too passive,” Rossi said.
“Switzerland are very experienced, with quality players all over the pitch. Against teams at this level, you run the risk of doing bad things. They made the most of our mistakes.”
Taking his share of the blame, as well as lambasting his players, Rossi said: “I’m not looking for guilty people. I’m the coach and need to take my responsibility.
“We had some short-comings in individual performances. There aren’t many strategies to stop individual mistakes.
“It’s hard to say anyone did well apart from two or three performances.”
Hungary’s defeat leaves them three points behind title contenders Germany and second placed Switzerland in Group A.
A loss against Germany on Wednesday would be a hammer blow to Hungary’s hopes of making the last 16, and Rossi admitted he is not confident of upsetting the odds.
“We play Germany in four days. I dare anybody to bet one Hungarian forint on us. As of today that looks impossible,” he said.
“Germany are a different team than the last Euros, they proved it against Scotland. In my opinion they are the biggest favorite of the European Championship.”
Switzerland have only lost one of their last 15 matches in all competitions and a win against Scotland in their next game on Wednesday would send them into the last 16.
There were 22 passes in the build up to Duah’s opener, the third-longest passing sequence leading to a goal at the Euros since 1980.
It was a welcome result for Swiss boss Murat Yakin, who had been under pressure after a rift with his players over tactical issues during the qualifying campaign.
“I trust myself. I have a strong team which is fundamental. We need mutual trust, so it is a satisfaction when we get a result like that. We can reach important goals,” Yakin said.
“We have prepared for three weeks and the players have the right spirit. I have a role in creating this atmosphere.
“I like to play chess. Yesterday I had a victim who lost twice to me. I like to compare football to chess and we got our tactics right.
“We used that formation for a particular reason. We surprised Marco Rossi at the beginning maybe. You have to make the most of our qualities.”
Scotland will be fighting to stay in the tournament when they face the Swiss and Yakin urged his team not to underestimate Steve Clarke’s men.
“It is a completely different game next Wednesday. It will bring more confidence to our game but we have to play better against Scotland,” he said.
“We have a lot to improve. The second half of the match didn’t go very well. We conceded too many chances.”


Football great Zidane kicks off Le Mans 24 Hours

Football great Zidane kicks off Le Mans 24 Hours
Updated 15 June 2024
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Football great Zidane kicks off Le Mans 24 Hours

Football great Zidane kicks off Le Mans 24 Hours
  • Zidane was wearing winter gear as he waved the ceremonial starter’s flag
  • The temperature was a chilly 15 degrees celsius with plenty of rain forecast until Sunday

LE MANS, France: French football great Zinedine Zidane acted as starter to get the mythic Le Mans 24 Hour race on its way at 1400GMT on Saturday.
Ahead of the 62 cars split into three categories on the grid lies the ultimate test of motorsport endurance — for the 186 drivers, their cars, mechanics and last but not least the crowd estimated at 250,000.
One major unknown for the 92nd edition was — despite being mid-June — the weather.
Zidane was wearing winter gear as he waved the ceremonial starter’s flag — a French tricolor with ‘24’ embossed in gold on it — handed to him by French soldiers who had abseiled down with it from a hovering helicopter.
The temperature was a chilly 15 degrees celsius with plenty of rain forecast until Sunday at 1400GMT when the winner will take the cherished chequered flag after around 350 laps of the iconic 13.6kilometer Sarthe circuit in the west of France near the medieval town of Le Mans.
There was nothing ancient about the gleaming machinery setting off led by the elite category Porsche Hypercar, in pole after qualifying on Thursday.
Ferrari are the defending title holders after claiming the centenary edition 12 months ago.
The Hypercar class is the most open in almost three decades with no fewer than nine different constructors presenting 23 cars.
In the early stages, Ferrari’s number 50 car led from the team’s 51 car, which won last year. A Porsche was in third.
Ferrari’s Formula One team principal Fred Vasseur predicted a close race.
“The fight is very, very tight, lot of good drivers.
“Twenty-four hours with this weather, very, very tight, we are just focused on ourselves.”


German police shoot to death an Afghan man who killed a compatriot, then attacked soccer fans

German police shoot to death an Afghan man who killed a compatriot, then attacked soccer fans
Updated 15 June 2024
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German police shoot to death an Afghan man who killed a compatriot, then attacked soccer fans

German police shoot to death an Afghan man who killed a compatriot, then attacked soccer fans
  • The 27-year-old Afghan citizen first attacked a 23-year-old compatriot with a “knife-like object”
  • The man later attacked a group of people watching the soccer game between Germany and Scotland

BERLIN: German police shot to death an Afghan man after he fatally attacked a compatriot and later wounded three people watching the televised opening game of the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in eastern Germany, police said Saturday.
The 27-year-old Afghan citizen first attacked a 23-year-old compatriot with a “knife-like object” in Wolmirstedt, a small town about 130 kilometers (80 miles) west of Berlin, on Friday evening, police said. The victim later died of his wounds.
The man later attacked a group of people watching the soccer game between Germany and Scotland in the yard of private house, injuring three German men, two of them seriously, police said.
Police said the assailant, still armed with the same object, also attacked officers called to the scene. Two of the officers shot and wounded the man, who died soon after in a hospital.
Police said the motive for the attacks was unclear. The Interior Ministry in Saxony-Anhalt state, which includes Wolmirstedt, said police had increased their presence across the state. The soccer tournament is taking place in cities across Germany and runs through July 14.


IOC issues first list of Russians and Belarusians eligible for Olympics

IOC issues first list of Russians and Belarusians eligible for Olympics
Updated 15 June 2024
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IOC issues first list of Russians and Belarusians eligible for Olympics

IOC issues first list of Russians and Belarusians eligible for Olympics
  • The athletes had to qualify for the Games and pass a double check, first by the international sports federations and then by the IOC
  • The athletes named on Saturday compete in four disciplines

LAUSANNE: A total of 14 Russian and 11 Belarusian athletes were included on Saturday by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on an initial list of “Individual Neutral Athletes” (AINs) eligible to compete in the Paris Games.
The athletes had to qualify for the Games and pass a double check, first by the international sports federations and then by the IOC, to prove they did not actively support the war in Ukraine or have any links with their countries’ armies.
The athletes named on Saturday compete in four disciplines.
Sixteen are wrestlers. The IOC has also approved two weightlifters, three trampoline gymnasts and four road cyclists, including Aleksandr Vlasov, who was fourth in the 2021 Giro.
“Our cyclists passed the ‘test’,” Vyacheslav Ekimov, the President of the Russian Cycling Federation told Russia’s state-run TASS news agency.
“The IOC allowed us to the Olympics, although I did not expect a different development. As for Vlasov, despite all his past statements, I think he will participate in the Olympics. And with great pleasure.” Ekimov said.
The President of the Russian Trampolining Federation, Nikolai Makarov told TASS he was not entirely happy.
“The fact that the IOC has decided to admit Angela Bladtseva to the Olympics is very good news,” he said.
“But I don’t understand why another one of our contenders for the only ticket — Yana Lebedeva — is not on the list. I hope that her name will be on the next list.”
Saturday’s IOC statement also listed taekwondo, but that section included no names.
“It is absolutely true — none of our taekwondists will perform at the Olympic Games in Paris,” Vadim Ivanov, Russia’s taekwondo head coach told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.
After initially banning the two countries’ athletes from world sport following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the IOC adjusted their regulations to allow their participation, under a neutral banner, subject to strict conditions and excluding team events.
Last March, the IOC said it was expecting 36 Russians and 22 Belarussians at the Paris Games “according to the most probable scenario,” and a “maximum” of 55 and 28 respectively.
That would be far fewer than the 330 Russians and 104 Belarusians that took part in the last Games in Tokyo in 2021.
The IOC will update its list as the final qualifying results come in.
There will be no track and field athletes. World Athletics has banned all Russians and Belarusians.
Other sports have reinstated them so late that their presence is uncertain.
On Friday, Yuliya Efimova, who has three Olympic breaststroke medals, became the first Russian swimmer to be granted neutral status for the Games although she has not yet swum a qualifying time. She also said she did not yet have a visa to travel to France.
While Moscow has finally decided not to boycott the Paris Games, some athletes may opt to. Russia’s gymnasts have said they will refuse to take part.
The neutral athletes will neither take part in the opening ceremony on the Seine nor appear in the official medal table.
In March, the IOC awarded them a dedicated flag, stamped with the letters “AIN” on an apple-green background, as well as a short composition without words, which will serve as their anthem if they win an Olympic title.
At the same time, the IOC set up the Individual Neutral Athlete Eligibility Review Panel (AINERP) to help decide which athletes to invite.
The expert panel “has been able to benefit from new information from various sources, in particular official lists of athletes affiliated to sports clubs of the armed and security forces, published on official websites in Russia and Belarus,” said the IOC.


Former Arsenal and Everton striker Campbell dies at 54

Former Arsenal and Everton striker Campbell dies at 54
Updated 15 June 2024
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Former Arsenal and Everton striker Campbell dies at 54

Former Arsenal and Everton striker Campbell dies at 54
  • Campbell, who died after a short illness, holds the record for most Premier League goals, 83, by a player never to win an international cap
  • “Everyone at Arsenal Football is devastated to hear of the death of our much-loved former player Kevin Campbell,” said Arsenal

LONDON: Ex-Premier League striker Kevin Campbell has died aged 54, his former clubs Arsenal and Everton announced on Saturday.
Campbell, who died after a short illness, holds the record for most Premier League goals, 83, by a player never to win an international cap.
“Everyone at Arsenal Football is devastated to hear of the death of our much-loved former player Kevin Campbell,” said Arsenal.
Campbell joined the Gunners as a schoolboy in 1985, making his first-team debut in 1988. He went on to play 228 times for Arsenal scoring 59 goals and winning a league title, an FA Cup, a European Cup Winners Cup and a League Cup.
“To actually play for the team I supported was a dream come true,” he said.
In 164 games for Everton he scored 51 goals, including nine in five games which saved them from relegation in 1999.
“Everyone at Everton Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the Club’s most popular and much-loved former strikers, Kevin Campbell,” they said on their website.
Campbell, who also played for Leicester, Leyton Orient, Nottingham Forest, Trabzonspor, West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff, said one of his favorite memories in football was scoring the winner in the 2000 Merseyside derby, Everton’s last victory at Anfield for 22 years.
“It was at the Kop End and my view, which will live with me until the day I die, is the Blues in the Kop going crazy,” he said.
In January 2001, manager Walter Smith made Campbell Everton’s first black captain.
“He made me the first black captain of Everton, which is something that I’m so proud of,” Campbell said.
Campbell moved to West Brom in January 2005 and was part of their “great escape,” as they became the first club bottom of the Premier League at Christmas to survive.
His son, Tyrese Campbell, is a striker who has just been released by Championship side Stoke City after seven seasons at the club.
“The pain of this is indescribable and as a son you look at your dad as invincible,” said Tyrese Campbell in a message released on his behalf by journalist Alan Myers.
“He is my idol, the one I wanted to be when I grew up...I’ll miss you dad.”