Sports shorts: Murray loses on comeback, Benitez rips into Newcastle
Ten things from the world of sport on Tuesday 13 August
1. Murray rules out US Open
Andy Murray’s singles return ended in defeat at the Cincinnati Masters on Monday. The 32-year-old, who has not played singles since January, lost 6-4, 6-4 to Richard Gasquet and afterwards ruled himself out of the US Open. “There was no disgrace in Murray’s performance on Monday, even if he started with understandable tentativeness. Baby steps should be perfectly acceptable for a man whose career was pronounced dead at the start of the year. The main thing is that he has begun the process,” says the Daily Telegraph, which adds that there were flashes of his old brilliance. “I’m obviously happy to be back,” said Murray, “but I’m sitting here disappointed, which I think is probably a good thing if I want to get back to playing at a high level.”
2. Benitez attacks Newcastle board
Former Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has revealed the reasons why he quit the club last summer, revealing the he did not “trust” the board “after three years of unfulfilled promises”. Benitez, who is now working in the Chinese Super League, hit back after Newcastle’s managing director Lee Charnley suggested he had “moved to China for the money”. Writing for The Athletic, Benitez said: “I tried to do my best every day, even staying when we went down to the Championship and saying no to other offers – bigger offers than the one I recently accepted with Dalian Yifang… Newcastle’s board had a year to sort out my contract but, when we met after the end of last season, they didn't make me an offer I could accept.”
3. Red Bull ditch Gasly
F1 team Red Bull have dropped Pierre Gasly and replaced him with Torro Rosso driver Alexander Albon for the remainder of the season. “Albon has competed in 12 races with Toro Rosso this season and impressed while Gasly has not in what is his first year with Red Bull,” says The Guardian. “Gasly has not only been way off the pace of his teammate Max Verstappen but of other drivers around him. He has 63 points to Verstappen’s 181 and is only five points in front of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, who is driving a car demonstrably not as quick as the Red Bull.”
4. Joshua fight controversy
Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Andy Ruiz Jnr in Saudi Arabia is already mired in controversy days after it was announced. Amnesty International has accused the host country of trying to “sportswash” its dreadful human rights record and has urged the fighter to call off the clash. There have also been claims Joshua is “cashing out”, ensuring that he gets a big payday even if he loses. However, promoter Eddie Hearn insists that Joshua is “very comfortable” with the agreement to fight in Diriyah on December 7. Whether Ruiz is as happy remains unclear – the Mexican has still not confirmed that he has agreed to the fight, despite Hearn’s insistence he has “100 per cent signed the contract”.
5. 'Samurai' England squad
England coach Eddie Jones has named his 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup with uncapped wing Ruaridh McConnochie and inexperienced internationals Lewis Ludlam, Willi Heinz and Piers Francis included, and Ben Te’o and Mike Brown omitted. Jones said he had chosen players “who have got a Samurai spirit” for the tournament in Japan. “You need guys who are mature, who enjoy life. And we've deliberately picked a squad like that because it’s going to be an important factor. This is an enormous cultural event apart from being a sporting event and you’ve got to be able to cope with the different culture.”
6. Wales lose Anscombe
Wales have been dealt a blow ahead of the World Cup, with fly-half Gareth Anscombe ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury. Anscombe limped off during the warm-up game against England on Sunday. “It is a devastating setback for a New Zealand-born player who had belatedly earned the affection of the Welsh public with his starring role in the Grand Slam triumph earlier this year,” says the Daily Mail. “The news is not only a hammer-blow to Anscombe but Warren Gatland too - he is now without two of his star men, with star number eight Taulupe Faletau also out having fractured his collarbone in training.”
7. Alisson out for a 'few weeks'
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker will be out for a “few weeks” with a calf injury, manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed. The Brazilian goalkeeper was substituted during the win over Norwich on Friday and was replaced by new signing Adrian. “Klopp has now confirmed the club will sign free agent Andy Lonergan on a short-term basis to provide back-up to Adrian, with the 35-year-old former Middlesbrough player ‘likely’ to be on the bench for their UEFA Super Cup tie against Chelsea in Istanbul on Wednesday,” reports Sky Sports.
8. Archer can't promise miracles
Jofra Archer has warned England fans not to expect “miracles” when he makes his Test debut against Australia tomorrow. However, the pace bowler, who will spearhead England’s attack in the absence of Jimmy Anderson, has been tasked with dismissing Aussie run-machine Steve Smith, so miracles may be required. But the 24-year-old Sussex star dismissed concerns over his stamina. He has built his reputation playing short form cricket but responded to questions from Australian coach Justin Langer by suggesting he had not done his homework. “I don’t think Justin Langer has seen me play first-class cricket. I usually bowl 40 overs every game. I think he has another thing coming,” he said.
9. More women's events at 2022 Games
The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will be the first major multi-sports event with more medals for women than men after three sports were added to the programme. Women's Twenty20 cricket, beach volleyball and para-table tennis have been confirmed as additional sports. It means there will be 135 women’s medal competitions, compared to 133 for men. As well as being the biggest women’s programme in Commonwealth Games history, 2022 will also host the largest programme of para-sports, with eight sports confirmed.
10. Bury owner urged to sell
Staff at League One crisis club Bury have urged owner Steve Dale to sell up after an offer for the club was tabled. “The club will be kicked out of the league if they do not fulfil a list of EFL requirements by August 23, and according to the website statement, Dale has received an offer. The first three matches of the season have already been postponed, and Saturday’s game at home to Gillingham will also be rescheduled unless Dale can today provide evidence that Bury can meet commitments to creditors,” reports The Times.