Daily Briefing

Sport shorts: Jimmy Anderson fears a ball won’t be bowled and English football is suspended until 30 April

Ten things from the world of sport on Thursday 19 March

1. Cricket cancelled? 

The photo on the back page of The Guardian is of veteran England pace bowler Jimmy Anderson above the headline: “We might not bowl a ball this summer”. 

England’s tour to Sri Lanka was abandoned last week and today cricket chiefs meet to plan the way forward. 

“Cricket and sport is not the be all and end all but it is my livelihood, it’s all I know,” said the 37-year-old Anderson. “There’s a chance we might not even bowl a ball this summer.” 

The 2020 County Championship is scheduled to begin on 12 April, while England’s three-Test series against the West Indies starts on 4 June. 

According to BBC Sport the England and Wales Cricket Board will examine all options, “including postponements and playing games behind closed doors”.

2. English football suspended until 30 April

English professional football will remain suspended until 30 April at the earliest because of the coronavirus pandemic - but authorities confirmed that rules have been amended to extend the season indefinitely.

Under the current regulations the season was scheduled to end on 1 June, but The Football Association (FA) says the campaign will be extended in order to complete the fixtures.

English football suspended until 30 April - but the season is extended indefinitely

3. F1 moves dates of mid-season break 

Formula 1 has brought forward its summer break following the postponement of the opening four races of the 2020 season.

The mid-season shutdown usually takes place for two weeks in August but F1 bosses have confirmed that this year’s revised break will be in March and April and extended to 21 days.

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4. Clay-court season is off

The BBC reports that the ATP and WTA professional tennis tours will now be suspended until 7 June, meaning that the entire clay-court season has been ruled out. 

The French Open grand slam at Roland Garros was due to take place from 24 May to 7 June but will now start on 20 September.

A joint statement by the ATP and WTA said: “Now is not a time to act unilaterally, but in unison. The challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic to professional tennis demand greater collaboration than ever from everyone in the tennis community in order for the sport to move forward collectively in the best interest of players, tournaments and fans.”

5. Pinsent hits out at ‘tone deaf’ IOC chief Bach

British four-time Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent says the Tokyo 2020 games should be called off and has accused International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach of being “tone deaf” over the coronavirus crisis

Quoted by The Daily Telegraph, Pinsent said: “I’m sorry Mr Bach but this is tone deaf. The instinct to keep safe [not to mention obey govt instructions to lock down] is not compatible with athlete training, travel and focus that a looming Olympics demands of athletes, spectators organisers etc Keep them safe. Call it off.”

6. Ryder Cup reports are ‘inaccurate’

Ryder Cup organisers and Team Europe captain Padraig Harrington have dismissed “inaccurate” reports that this year’s big golf event could be postponed until 2021. 

Irishman Harrington said: “September is a long way off so there’s no change to the situation at all at this stage. I know there’s been some rumours and they had to put out a statement to say there’s been no change, but there’s definitely no change. 

“I’m on the inside of these things. Normally you’re looking at ‘anonymous source says this…’ but now that I’m on the inside you go ‘wow, it really is made-up stuff’.” 

The 2020 Ryder Cup between Team USA and holders Team Europe is set to take place from 22-27 September at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. In 2018 Europe beat the Americans 17½-10½ at Le Golf National in France. 

7. Thorne diagnosed with leukaemia

Snooker icon Willie Thorne has announced that he has been diagnosed with leukaemia and will undergo chemotherapy treatment. The 66-year-old said: “I realise everybody is having a tough time. Mine’s just got worse - I’ve been diagnosed with leukaemia. I’m devastated. Start chemotherapy tomorrow. I’m in Spain where the health care is hopefully second to none - love to you all. Willie.” 

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8. Hey Jude 

In a sign that football will one day return to normal, the Daily Star reports that Manchester United are ready to table a £30m bid “to beat off rivals” for the hand of Jude Bellingham.

The 16-year-old wonderkid has been in blistering form for Birmingham City and the Star says that United are “obsessed with coming out on top in the race for him”. 

Apparently Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea and Bayern Munich are also “keen” on the teenage sensation but United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is determined to bring the youngster to Old Trafford. 

9. Pogba’s United career is ‘over’

The Daily Mail reports that Paul Pogba’s Manchester United career is “over” and the Red Devils are willing to listen to offers of £100m for the midfielder.

Pogba’s contract expires in the summer of 2021 and the French World Cup winner has been linked with Spanish giants Real Madrid and a return to former club Juventus.

10. Back pages: hotels of hope 

The Daily Express and the Independent report that Chelsea have offered their Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge to NHS staff as they battle coronavirus. 

Under the headline “Football United”, the Daily Mirror says a similar initiative has been taken by former Manchester United defender Gary Neville. 

Sky Sports pundit Neville and former United team-mates Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and brother Phil Neville co-own the Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester city centre and Hotel Football at Old Trafford.

Today’s back pages

Football unites against virus as Gary Neville and Roman Abramovich hand hotels over to NHS staff

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