sports

Australia vs India day one review

Marnus Labuschagne impressed again for Australia with yet another 100.

After failing to win the third test, Australia got their innings off to a solid start after the hosts made 274-5.

Tourists India, who have done well to put aside together after the injuries suffered in the drawn third test, were punished for two drop catches as Marnus Labuschagne made his fifth century.

The South African born Labuschagne who was dropped on 37 and 48, took full advantage of those reprieves and made his century off 204 balls.

The Asian side, who were without Hanuma Vihari and Ravid Jadeja, were arguably missing the presence of these two men on the field as India’s inexperienced bowling attack toiled on the first day.

The day did start well for the tourists as David Warner (5) and the recalled Marcus Harris (1) both fell cheaply. Hosts Australia were able to steady the ship through Steve Smith (36) and Matthew Wade (45).

Captain Tim Paine (38) and Cameron Green (28) put on 61 for the sixth wicket, as the world champions looked to press home their advantage. India’s inexperienced bowling attack toiled, even opener Rohit Sharma sent down one over.

On the flip side, should the visitors get an early breakthrough, they’re right back in this test match. It’s well documented that, the tourists have a depleted bowling attack, but they still have a very solid top order.

Tomorrow’s first session will be very important, one thing is for sure is that this test promises to be a classic.

Sports and COVID-19

For the past year, it’s dominated our lives and it’s dominated the news headlines too. I am not referring to Brexit, which in amongst itself has been a constant topic on everyone’s lips, I am indeed talking about the Coronavirus (Covid19). What started in December 2019 it’s believed (hence the name) has been a topic and an issue that’s still just as prevalent as it was over 12 months ago.

The virus has affected all aspects of life. From work, to shopping, to getting  a haircut and sports athletes too.  Supermarkets were rationing, which in turn lead to a Royal Rumble in its own right. In England and the rest of the UK is in yet another lockdown, where barber shops are closed and a lot of shops- recognised shops from the high street are closed. Here, I want to talk about the Coronavirus from more of the sporting side of things.

As mentioned, sports stars/athletes have been affected by Covid19 with many of these sports stars we adore and idolise suffering from Covid. So sports has been carrying on, but not with some of the worlds best and most known athletes. Football matches have been cancelled and rearranged and sports like snooker are just competing in one arena.

This year’s snooker masters tournament, just like with the other snooker tournaments that have been in a bubble environment. Cricket has been the same too, but in this article I want to talk about sports and is sports setting a bad example during covid?

Well, yes sport is but at the same time, I feel sport is unfairly targeted. Problems in the world, such as racism .. it seems like sport is solely responsible to sort the problems of society on the whole. The other side of this topic is, there’s been moments like football players clearly breaching lockdown guidelines, but at the same time the nations Prime Minister has fallen foul of the rules too.

Now if our leader isn’t following the rules, then how can we single out sports stars? There has been incidents such as India’s cricketers being seen at a Melbourne restaurant. Or the fact the Milijovic and Mitrovic been seen together.

But the one case which really took the biscuit was Manchester United’s women taking a trip to Dubai. This has caused a knock on affect in this current time for the women’s game. Sport has been seen by many as being some form of antidote to those who have mental vulnerabilities during this lockdown.

Stamford Bridge, the grave yard for strikers?

Torres, Sturridge and Werner? What do these names have in common? Football fans, these are some of the strikers who have joined West London club Chelsea and unfortunately for them have failed. All three are very talented strikers, but it begs the question why have these three struggled whilst playing for The Blues?

I have a theory, and with Daniel Sturridge and Timo Werner my theory and beliefs are supported. Former Liverpool forward Sturridge was played out of position as is Werner currently. In the case of Germany forward Werner, he has played some games down the middle, but he needs a consistent run up top.

The same could have been said with Sturridge. Former Man City academy starlet Daniel Sturridge did impress whilst on loan with Bolton and playing for Liverpool.

The former England striker in his time at Anfield, was part of the legendary strike force that was labelled SAS, which came with in a whisker of winning the league title in the 2013 Premier League season.

This theory that I have although maybe supported with Werner and Sturridge, can’t be said with Fernando Torres. World cup winning Torres, before he made his then British transfer record £50 million to West London, was one of the most feared strikers on the planet. Sadly for El Nino, injuries ended up curtailing a career that had promised so much.

Those injuries, dented the confidence of the Spaniard and what promised to be a good transfer never worked out that way. Torres was able to resurrect his career of sorts at boyhood club Atletico Madrid, but sadly he was never the same.

With Werner, he is of course still in West London and he has time to break what seems to be a curse that strikers have when they go there. Frank please, play him where he needs to be up top!

Didier Drogba in recent times has been in my humble opinion, the sole striker who has succeeded at Chelsea.

The fact that Frank Lampard ( a midfielder and a world class one at that) is the clubs all-time leading scorer, maybe proves my point?

But maybe the role of the striker isn’t like what it used to be?

Kezman, Crespo and Shevchenko are other players I thought of (who have struggled at Stamford Bridge) as I write this. Am I on to something here? Does my argument have substance to it? Let me know in the comments.

FA Cup fourth and fifth round draw

Manchester United and Liverpool face each other in what is the tie of the fourth round. Due to the coronavirus, both the fourth and fifth round draw were done on the same day.

The Red Devil’s who were last years semi-finalists face Liverpool, who of course won the Premier League last season after a 30 year wait. These two Premier league giants, are due to face other in the league this month, and this extra game between the two sides, has all the ingredients to be a classic.

In some other ties of note, third round giant killers Crawley are rewarded with an away game to Championship high-flyers Bournemouth. Fellow giant killers Chorley face Premier League Wolves, and if the Lancashire side beat Wanderers, then holders Arsenal could be awaiting in round five.

The remaining minnow left in the draw (Stockport, at time of writing), could face the mouth watering prospect of facing United in an alternate Manchester Derby match up.

Here is the full draw of the FA Cup fourth and fifth round;

FA Cup fourth-round draw

Cheltenham Town v Manchester City

Bournemouth v Crawley Town

Swansea City v Nottingham Forest

Manchester United v Liverpool

Southampton/Shrewsbury v Arsenal

Barnsley v Norwich

Chorley v Wolves

Millwall v Bristol City

Brighton v Blackpool

Wycombe v Tottenham

Fulham v Burnley

Sheffield United v Plymouth

Chelsea v Luton

Stockport/West Ham v Doncaster

Brentford v Leicester

Everton v Sheffield Wednesday

FA Cup fifth-round draw

Fulham/Burnley v Bournemouth/Crawley Town

Manchester United/Liverpool v Stockport/West Ham or Doncaster

Sheffield United/Plymouth v Millwall/Bristol City

Chorley/Wolves v Southampton/Shrewsbury or Arsenal

Barnsley/Norwich v Chelsea/Luton Town

Everton/Sheffield Wednesday v Wycombe/Tottenham

Swansea City/Nottingham Forest v Cheltenham Town/Manchester City

Brentford/Leicester v Brighton/Blackpool

Opinion, why five batters are better than six

Hello and good afternoon, my name is Ayyaz Malik, sportswriter and sports broadcaster for six years now. Through my blog, I hope you the reader, have been able to digest and feast your self on some very good reading.

Some of the pieces I have written of late have been designed to provoke some thoughts of all sports fans. What I want to talk about today, is an issue in the world of cricket, and offer my thoughts on the debate too.

The issue I am referring to is the issue of, should a team have five batsmen or six? In the modern game, a lot of bowlers are able to bat, as are batsmen are able to bowl.

But what I want to talk about is the team line-up more for test matches. Traditionally, in limited over matches, teams tend to field, five bowlers and five batsmen. In the test format, it differs pending on the team.

Misbah Ul-Haq’s Pakistan team, in my humble opinion, were notorious for fielding six batsmen and four bowlers (three seamers and one spinner). There are two ways to look at this argument.

With having the six batsmen, like that Pakistan team did where Asad Shafiq became one of the best in the world. The 2009 T20 champions, simply were outscoring their opponents, especially at their adopted home of Abu Dhabi.

The flipside of this Pakistani side was that as good as they were with bat and arguably the ball due to the brilliance of Yasir Shah, if a team would play sensible test cricket, four bowlers could get worn out quicker, compared to the five.

I am trying to argue that, in tests most likely a lot of overs will be bowled. To be able to get through the overs, I argue that five bowlers are better to keep a bowling attack fresh.

In this test series, current Pakistan test captain, Mohammed Rizwan has opted for five bowlers.

I feel for test series against New Zealand, where they have players like Williamson at their disposal, one would think there would be a lot of overs bowled. So that’s my opinion cricket fans, what do you think?

Football’s silly season

It is the season to be jolly they say. For the people of the football community it can be anything but.

For footballers, they will feel the strain no doubt, of the sheer amount of games in this very short period.

That might be tough on players, but for managers they have a different stress to deal with, the stress of the mind potentially and if they’re still going to be a job come spring.

Football, for all its unpredictably, predictably has a period in the football calendar where there seems to be a mass exodus of managers.

This changes season by season. This seasons exodus of managers has arguably already started.

First it was now ex West Brom manager Slaven Billic who was sacked, despite his side earning a battling 1-1 draw against Manchester City a day or two before.

The other casualties have been Sheffield Wednesday parting company with former manager Tony Pulis.

Former Stoke manager was given just 13 games. The Welshman, was relieved of his duties with the Yorkshire second bottom.

Some may say this is justified, but was it really? Remember The Owls were given a point deduction due to financial troubles, so context need surely!

Cross city rivals Sheffield United, are struggling at the foot of the Premier League table. I really hope for the love of God, the owners don’t give him the chop, that would be one of the worst decisions ever.

In the case of Sheffield Wednesday, who could they have got who’s better than Pulis? There’s not many and the former Palace manager has never been relegated in his proud managerial career.

Many fans no doubt, will argue if he keeps The Baggies up, it was worth it.

West Brom, who I mentioned earlier, have arguably made a safe appointment in Sam Allardyce, but football principals will be lost.

The last managerial name that I wanted to mention was now former PSG manager Thomas Tuchel.

Former Dortmund man Tuchel, was sacked despite last year winning Ligue 1 and getting all the way to the final in last years Champions League.

Former Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, is tipped to take the reigns at the Parc De Princes.

After these Managerial changes, I would hope there would be no more, but this is the world of football management. I am not holding my breath

PSG sack boss Tuchel

This time of year is a busy period in the calendar for everyone, of all shapes and forms and all walks of life.

This time is arguably the busiest for football players, managers and everyone who is associated with a football alike.

Now, I am not telling an emotional tale, trying to garner support for football stars, but their hefty pay packets arguably cushioning the blow of having to endure such a busy period.

For French champions PSG, the people that run the club, now have more work added to their schedule in what is an already busy schedule.

The Parisians, announced that former German manager Thomas Tuchel has been sacked, despite last year guiding the Parc De Princes outfit to a maiden Champions League final appearance last year.

Predictably a Ligue1 title was secured, but the atmosphere at the French club just seemed a bit toxic.

Neymar seemed to have a fractious relationship with the former Borussia Dortmund manager Tuchel as did Kylian Mbappe, the wantaway French star who has taken his game to even higher levels since switching Monaco’s Stade Louis for Paris’ Parc De Princes.

To add further salt to the wounds, record goalscorer Edison Cavani left, arguably partly down to the rift with Neymar and penalty-taking duties.

Despite Tuchel’s impressive achievements, the fact that the 47-year old seemed to not get along with Leonardo, the clubs sporting director and the three superstar forwards they had on their books.

This ultimately derailed and overshadowed Thomas Tuchel’s time in the French capital. PSG, are said to have a replacement waiting in the wings, in former player Mauricio Pochettino.

The former Spurs boss has been out of work since getting sacked by North London side Tottenham Hotspur. As for German Thomas Tuchel, he shouldn’t be short of suitors. Yes, he’s been sacked by PSG, but as have Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery and Laurent Blanc. Just maybe, the Paris Saint Germain job, although may be seen as a dream job, is, in fact, a nightmare, only time will tell.