Tag Archives: ashes

ECB announce 2013 Ashes dates and venues

England to start 2013 Ashes defence at Trent Bridge with Old Trafford another returning venue

PUBLISHED:

11:03 GMT, 1 June 2012

|

UPDATED:

13:01 GMT, 25 April 2013

The England and Wales Cricket Board have released the itinerary for next year's international fixtures, with Trent Bridge playing host to the first Ashes Test.

It is another packed schedule for England, with series against New Zealand in all three formats between May 16 and June 27 before the world's top-eight teams contest the Champions Trophy.

The Oval, Cardiff and Edgbaston are the home grounds for that tournament but, as ever, the focus will be on the arrival of Australia.

Scroll down for video

Ashes heroes: England will begin the defence of the Ashes at Trent Bridge

Ashes heroes: England will begin the defence of the Ashes at Trent Bridge

They will play two four-day warm-ups, against Somerset and Worcestershire, before the opening Test in Nottingham on July 10.

The second Test, at Lord's, follows immediately on July 18 before Australia face Sussex in another tour match at Hove.

The next two Tests are also back to back, with Old Trafford the venue for the third match, as it was in the memorable 2005 series, and Durham's first taste of Ashes cricket coming in the penultimate match of the series, starting on August 9.

The tourists then have a two-day fixture at Northampton before the sides meet again at The Oval, where England have clinched the urn for the last two home series.

Having announced his shock retirement from limited-overs cricket, Kevin Pietersen's international commitments will end on August 25, while his colleagues contest two Twenty20s and five one-day matches against the old enemy as well a stand alone trip to Malahide to face Ireland.

Happy memories: The England team celebrate winning the Fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in 2005

Happy memories: The England team celebrate winning the Fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in 2005

The final match on the calendar, a 50-over clash with Australia, takes place at Hampshire's Ageas Bowl on September 16 – four days later than its 2012 equivalent.

ECB chief executive David Collier said: 'The prospect of England defending the Ashes on home soil, the world's top eight teams competing in the ICC Champions Trophy, and a full programme of 50-Over and T20 International cricket will provide rich pickings for cricket fans next summer.

'Last season's international programme attracted a record aggregate attendance of more than 850,000 spectators and we would urge all fans to purchase their international tickets early for 2013 to avoid missing out on what promises to be a memorable summer.'

Collier also referred to the decision to hand Lord's the first Test of the summer against New Zealand, having initially awarded the fixture to Cardiff.

Australia announce Ashes squad

Loading video…

DM.has('rcpv2324420181001','BC',
'renderConfig' :

'css' : “videoplayer-thinArticle”,
'autoplay' : false,
'muted' : false,
'title' : “Australia announce Ashes squad”,
'videoId' : 1006328,
'adsEnabled' : true,
'playerId' : “1989148206001”,
'playerKey' : “AQ~~,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWELN_eSE9A7gpcGWF5XAVmI”,
'objId' : “rcpv2324420181001”,
'videoPlayer' : “2324420181001”,
'width' : 470,
'height' : 264,
'linkBaseURL' : “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-2153178/ECB-announce-2013-Ashes-dates-venues.html”

});

Ticket sales for last summer's Test against Sri Lanka were disappointing and a compromise deal was reached which saw Glamorgan trade their Test for the Champions Trophy fixtures.

'Wales has earned an outstanding reputation for its ability to deliver world-class sporting events and we are delighted that Cardiff will be used as a host venue for the ICC Champions Trophy and stage a semi-final,' said Collier.

'Cardiff was originally scheduled to stage next summer's first Investec Test match against New Zealand and following further discussions between ECB, Glamorgan CCC, and MCC, this match will now be played at Lord's. We are grateful to both parties for their co-operation in this matter.'

2013 SUMMER DATES FOR NEW ZEALAND AND AUSTRALIA

New Zealand tour itinerary

May 4-6 v Derbyshire

May 9-12 v England Lions (Leicester)

May 16-20 v England (First Test, Lord's)

May 24-28 v England (Second Test, Headingley)

May 31 v England (First One-Day International, Lord's)

June 2 v England (Second ODI, Ageas Bowl)

June 5 v England (Third ODI, Trent Bridge)

June 22 v Kent (T20 warm-up, Canterbury)

June 25 v England (First T20 international, Oval)

June 27 v England (Second T20 international, Oval)

NB. T20 tour match at Canterbury on 22 June cancelled if NZ in Final of ICC Champions Trophy.

Champions Trophy

June 6-17 ICC Champions Trophy Group Stages

June 19-20 ICC Champions Trophy Semi-Finals

June 23 ICC Champions Trophy Final (Edgbaston)

Australia tour itinerary

June 26-29 v Somerset

July 2-5 v Worcestershire

July 10-14 v England (First Test, Trent Bridge)

July 18-22 v England (Second Test, Lord's)

July 26-28 v Sussex

Aug 1-5 v England (Third Test, Old Trafford)

AuG 9-13 v England (Fourth Test, Emirates Durham ICG)

Aug 16-17 v Northamptonshire

Aug 21-25 v England (Fifth Test, Oval)

Aug 29 v England (First T20, Ageas Bowl)

Aug 31 v England (Second T20, Emirates Durham ICG)

Sept 3 v Scotland (Edinburgh)

Sept 6 v England (First ODI, Headingley)

Sept 8 v England (Second ODI, Old Trafford)

Sept 11 v England (Third ODI, Edgbaston)

Sept 14 v England (Fourth ODI, SWALEC Stadium)

Sept 16 v England (Fifth ODI, Ageas Bowl)

Sept 3 Ireland v England (ODI, Dublin)

England are Ashes favourites for good reason, admits Jason Gillespie

England deserve to be Ashes favourites, admits Aussie great Gillespie

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

10:30 GMT, 2 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:45 GMT, 2 February 2013

Yorkshire coach and former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie believes England will deservedly start as favourites for their defence of the Ashes later this year.

England retained the famous urn with an emphatic 3-1 win in the five-match Test series on Australian soil in 2010/11, and have been tipped to dictate terms again when the famous rivalry resumes in July.

Gillespie, having been installed as Yorkshire's first-team coach in 2011, has been able to assess the hosts' preparations first hand, and believes English optimism is well-placed.

Jason Gillespie thinks England's Ashes victories give them the advantage

Odds on: Jason Gillespie thinks England's will be full of confidence

Gillespie took 65 wickets in 18 matches against England

Pedigree: Gillespie took 65 wickets in 18 matches against England

'They are incredibly confident over here but they deserve to start favourites, England, no doubt about it,' Gillespie told The Australian newspaper.

'I think potentially they could underestimate our bowling. I've been speaking about it quite regularly over here and saying, ''Don't underestimate the strength of Australia's pace bowling attack''.

'But England won't underestimate Australia. They're too clever for that and I know the England management has already been doing a lot of research.

'They've been planning and researching for a long time. I've got no doubt they'll be wary.'

Gillespie took 7/37 at Headingley on his first Ashes tour to England

Lethal: Gillespie took 7/37 at Headingley on his first Ashes tour

Gillespie, who claimed 259 wickets in 71 Tests for Australia between 1996 and 2006, expects England's well-established bowling attack to trouble a relatively inexperienced Australian batting line-up.

'England's bowling is very good at the moment,' he said.

'Coming up against the Australian batting order, they will rightly feel they're in the game. They feel they can put Australia under pressure and can have Michael Clarke coming in consistently very early, at two or three down for not very many.

James Anderson could prove to be the difference

Match-winner: James Anderson could prove to be the difference

'James Anderson is one of the best going around. He'll lead the attack, (Steven) Finn is a very good bowler, (Tim) Bresnan is a very good bowler, (Stuart) Broad has had a bit of an up-and-down time but he's also a very good bowler.

'Graeme Swann is one of the best spin bowlers in the world, if not the number one. Their batting is strong and they've got the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world (Matt Prior) so they're in a good place.'

WHO ARE THE LIKELY BOWLERS IN THE MIX

England: James Anderson, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar, Graeme Onions

Australia: Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Xavier Doherty, Jackson Bird, Steven Smith

Shane Warne fit for Ashes for Australia against England

WARNEING: I'm fit for Ashes! Shane, 43, is in the shape of his life and ready to save Australia

|

UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 4 December 2012

Just when it seemed we could bid an
emotional farewell to the last of Australia's true greats with Ricky
Ponting's tearful retirement, up pops Shane Warne to flex his spinning
finger and tease us all over a possible Ashes comeback.

Warne chose the week of his latest
return to action in the Australian Big Bash Twenty20 competition with
the Melbourne Stars to say that he had 'absolutely no doubt' he could
bowl at Test level again.

The ball, it seems, is in his close
friend Michael Clarke's court and fizzing like a classic Warne
leg-break. Can he really be serious

Ashes to Ashes! Warne is willing to come out of retirement to face England once again

Ashes to Ashes! Warne is willing to come out of retirement to face England once again

Final Warne-ing: Would Shane's other half put a block on him playing England again

Final Warne-ing: Would Shane's other half put a block on him playing England again

Well, perhaps the greatest bowler
of them all, and almost as great a showman, has talked of comebacks
before but there has always been more than a hint of publicity stunt
about it.

Now, in the aftermath of Australia's crushing defeat by South
Africa in Perth, he again chose to provide a glimmer of hope to a
slightly desperate nation.

If the Australian captain gives him a call,
Warne insists he will respond. 'If your best friend says, “Mate, I want
you to seriously consider making a commitment to Australian cricket by
coming out of retirement”, that's a different scenario,' said Warne.

'Especially with back-to-back Ashes series coming up next year. It could
be a 12-month thing where you take three spinners with you and say,
“Righto, work with these spinners and see how you go”. That's a
different kettle of fish.'

Nemesis: Warne took great delight in bowling England over time and again

Nemesis: Warne took great delight in bowling England over time and again

Nemesis: Warne took great delight in bowling England over time and again

Ball of the century: Mike Gatting was bowled all ends up in 1993

Ball of the century: Mike Gatting was bowled all ends up in 1993

So is this what you might call a
'come-and-get-me plea' 'I'm definitely not asking for Michael Clarke to
come out and say that,' conceded Warne.

'You asked me if I felt I could
still play international cricket, if I wanted to just turn up, do my
bowling and if the first Test was in three weeks, do you think I could
play

'I'd have no hesitation in saying yes. And I think I'd do pretty
well.'

It does, of course, feel like madness. Warne, after all, is 43
and has not played Test cricket for almost six years.

He may be able to
turn his arm over in a domestic Twenty20 league but could he really
return to what remains the biggest battle in world cricket

It is not as
if he needs to. Warne is busy and in successful postretirement and,
since he met Elizabeth Hurley, has found contentment in what has often
been a rocky personal life.

Surely he would not risk his considerable
reputation by putting his neck on the line again

And yet. Warne is
probably in the best physical shape of his life, has never been close to
being replaced in the Australian team and could bowl off a couple of
paces and resume his old position at slip, as long as his eyes haven't
gone, without too much fuss.

It couldn't happen, could it 'From purely a bowling perspective I don't think my form would be a concern,'
said Warne.

'It's just the time and actually making a commitment again.
'My kids are turning 16, 14 and 12 next year and we're juggling two
continents with my work commitments and Elizabeth's.

'There's travel, sponsors, businesses, so much stuff that I'd have to put
on hold to come back to international cricket. That's the reason I
haven't said for a while that I'm going to make a comeback.'

Oh Shane,
don't spoil it. His comments, made in Adelaide, have guaranteed
publicity so we might as well dream of what it might be like.

Shane's world: Warne retired in 2007 and soon took up commentary duties

Shane's world: Warne retired in 2007 and soon took up commentary duties

The
thought of Warne in another Ashes series is like a huge dollop of
stardust that will be missing in the contests in England and the return
in Australia as a result of Ponting's absence.

'For me it's not a
question of whether I could do it,' said Warne. 'I have no doubt that if
I wanted to commit I could do it.

'I watched the Perth Test and I felt
like jumping off the couch and grabbing the ball. I really felt for
Michael Clarke from a captaincy point of view.'

Nathan Lyon, the latest Australian spinner faced with the thankless task of stepping into
Warne's shoes, should look away now.

'When you've got international
bowlers bowling one or two full tosses and half-volleys an over I felt
for Pup (Clarke), I really did. I think I'm bowling as well as I have
for a long time. The best since I retired from international cricket. My
body's fresh and strong and fit. My mind's fresh from it all and off
the field I'm very happy, content and looking forward to playing.'

Oh,
go on Pup, give him a call. You know you want to. We all certainly want
you to. That really would light up the Ashes.

Andrew Flintoff has
improved his fitness levels so much in his boxing training that he may
play Twenty20 cricket again, says his father, Colin.

The only people cheering Warne's return would be England's batsmen

The only surprise about Shane Warne's latest dalliance with the idea of unretiring and playing Test cricket once more is that it's been a while since he's aired the possibility.

Barely a week went by during the 2010-11 Ashes when Warne wasn't asked whether he fancied helping out his struggling former team-mates. And, being a straight-talking kind of guy – and one with an eye for a PR stunt – he was damned if he was going to dismiss the prospect without giving it at least some room to breathe.

Now, he's done it again, saying he has 'absolutely no doubt' he could hack it at Test level and leaving a nation to dream of the good old days, when the thought of Australia failing to take six South African wickets in an entire day to win a match – as Michael Clarke's team contrived to do recently in Adelaide – would scarcely have occurred.

No one can question Warne's self-belief. It was part of the package that made him the most compelling spin bowler in the history of the game. His capacity to wring so many front-foot lbws out of impressionable umpires was a wonder to behold.

His aura might still earn him the odd wicket, and he could doubtless summon up the old magic to produce the occasional rip-snorter. Hell, it would be fun to watch.

But Test cricket is a gruelling business. And in a shade over six months next year spilling over into 2014, Australia will play ten straight matches against England, away and home. Warne will turn 44 between the two series. A return to Test cricket Really

If the headlines ever descended from the realms of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the only people cheering once the initial excitement had worn off would be England's batsmen.

Sportsmail cricketer writer and editor of Wisden – LAWRENCE BOOTH

VIDEO: Ball of the century which heralded Warne's arrival on Ashes scene…

Shane Warne open to Australia return to face England for Ashes

I've still got it at 43! Aussie spin king Warne wants one last go at England… in next summer's Ashes (But will Liz let you)

|

UPDATED:

13:25 GMT, 4 December 2012

It's the news all England cricket fans didn't want to hear: Shane Warne has opened the door to make sensational return to Ashes cricket to help Australia win back the Urn next summer.

Warne says he is in the right shape and still bowling well enough to return to the international arena and wants to help the Baggy Greens during the forthcoming back-to-back series.

Ashes to Ashes! Warne is willing to come out of retirement to face England once again

Ashes to Ashes! Warne is willing to come out of retirement to face England once again

He took 195 Ashes wickets in 36 Tests at a staggering 23.25 after bursting onto the Ashes scene with that delivery to Mike Gatting with his first delivery against England in 1993.

The leg-spinner's final Test against
England came in Sydney in January 2007, but is willing to dust off his
whites for one more attack on the Old Enemy.

He told the Herald Sun:
'If your best friend says, “Mate, I want you to seriously consider
making a commitment to Australian cricket and coming back out of
retirement”, (to) make myself available for selection, that's a
different scenario.

Nemesis: Warne took great delight in bowling England over time and again

Nemesis: Warne took great delight in bowling England over time and again

Nemesis: Warne took great delight in bowling England over time and again

'Especially with back-to-back Ashes
coming up next year, it could be a 12-month thing where you take three
spinners with you and say, “Righto, work with these spinners and see how
you go for 12 months”. That's a different kettle of fish.

'I'm definitely not asking for Michael Clarke to come out and say that – that's a different scenario.

Ball of the century: Mike Gatting was bowled all ends up in 1993

Ball of the century: Mike Gatting was bowled all ends up in 1993

'You asked me if I think I could still play international cricket if I wanted to just turn up, do my bowling and if the first Test match was in three weeks, do you think I could play, (then) I'd have no hesitation in saying yes – and I think I'd do pretty well.

'From a purely bowling perspective, I don't think my form would be the concern, it's just the time and actually making that commitment again.

'My kids are turning 16, 14 and 12 next year and we're juggling two continents, (wife-to-be) Elizabeth's (Hurley) work and my work commitments.

'There's travel, sponsors,
businesses, there are charities, so much stuff that I'd basically have
to put it all on hold to make a commitment to international cricket.

'That's the reason I haven't for a while said I'm gonna make a comeback.

'For
me it's not a matter of whether I could do it or not – I have
absolutely no doubt if I wanted to commit to try to make a comeback and
go through grade cricket, first-class cricket and try to get selected
… that I could do it.'

Warne said he felt the urge to make his return while watching the Aussies' third Test against South Africa as the hosts' bowling attack were hammered around the WACA Ground.

'I felt like I wanted to jump off the couch and grab the ball,' he said. 'I really felt for Michael Clarke from a captaincy point of view.

'When you've got international bowlers bowling one or two full-tosses an over and half-volleys, I felt for Pup, I really felt for him.'

Shane's world: Warne retired in 2007 and soon took up commentary duties

Shane's world: Warne retired in 2007 and soon took up commentary duties

The only people cheering Warne's return would be England's batsmen

The only surprise about Shane Warne's latest dalliance with the idea of unretiring and playing Test cricket once more is that it's been a while since he's aired the possibility.

Barely a week went by during the 2010-11 Ashes when Warne wasn't asked whether he fancied helping out his struggling former team-mates. And, being a straight-talking kind of guy – and one with an eye for a PR stunt – he was damned if he was going to dismiss the prospect without giving it at least some room to breathe.

Now, he's done it again, saying he has 'absolutely no doubt' he could hack it at Test level and leaving a nation to dream of the good old days, when the thought of Australia failing to take six South African wickets in an entire day to win a match – as Michael Clarke's team contrived to do recently in Adelaide – would scarcely have occurred.

No one can question Warne's self-belief. It was part of the package that made him the most compelling spin bowler in the history of the game. His capacity to wring so many front-foot lbws out of impressionable umpires was a wonder to behold.

His aura might still earn him the odd wicket, and he could doubtless summon up the old magic to produce the occasional rip-snorter. Hell, it would be fun to watch.

But Test cricket is a gruelling business. And in a shade over six months next year spilling over into 2014, Australia will play ten straight matches against England, away and home. Warne will turn 44 between the two series. A return to Test cricket Really

If the headlines ever descended from the realms of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the only people cheering once the initial excitement had worn off would be England's batsmen.

LAWRENCE BOOTH

VIDEO: Ball of the century which heralded Warne's arrival on Ashes scene…

Ashes 2013-14: Australia announce five-test England series dates

Ashes to Ashes: Australia announce dates for 2013-14 series Down Under

|

UPDATED:

07:33 GMT, 22 November 2012

England's second successive Ashes series next winter will begin in Brisbane on November 21.

Cricket Australia today released the dates for the five-Test portion of the 2013-14 tour, which also contains five one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches and begins just weeks after Australia depart England.

England have three tour matches, the first of which is against a Western Australia XI in Perth beginning on October 31, before the first Test and a fourth in between the first and second Tests.

Ashes to Ashes: Australian chiefs have announced the dates for the 2013-14 series Down Under

Ashes to Ashes: Australian chiefs have announced the dates for the 2013-14 series Down Under

AUSTRALIA v ENGLAND
ASHES SERIES 2013-14

Brisbane, November 21-25, 2013: First Test
Adelaide, December 5-9: Second Test
Perth, December 13-17: Third Test
Melbourne, December 26-30: Fourth Test
Sydney, January 3-7, 2014: Fifth Test

Tour matches
Perth, October 31-November 2: WA XI v England
Hobart, November 6-9: Australia A v England
Sydney, November 13-16: NSW XI v England

Further Tests will take place at the Adelaide Oval, the WACA, the Melbourne Cricket Ground – the traditional Boxing Day game – and the Sydney Cricket Ground, finishing on January 7.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said: “We are delighted to be able to confirm the Ashes fixtures so far in advance of the Series. It means fans will be able to plan their trips around the country to follow all the action.

'I am sure there will be a lot of fans from the UK who will want to make the trip over and we look forward to hosting them here.'

England are facing the same opposition in back-to-back series – at home next summer and away in the winter – to prevent a quick turnaround between the Ashes and the World Cup, which takes place in Australia in early 2015.

The dates of the limited-overs fixtures have not yet been announced.

Water performance: England players celebrating their 2011 series victory in Australia with the famous sprinkler dance

Water performance: England players celebrating their 2011 series victory in Australia with the famous sprinkler dance

Remembrance Sunday sport shouldn"t be a special case – Martin Samuel

Remember, sport isn't a special case when we honour our heroes

|

UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 11 November 2012

From Home Park, Plymouth, Saturday, to St James' Park, Newcastle, Sunday, they remembered. They stood in silence, heads bowed. Did you In your home, out and about, wherever you happened to be at the appropriate time, did you pause to remember the fallen

For all its flaws, for all its trespasses, when it matters most, football usually does the decent thing. Players’ shirts are embroidered with a poppy motif, managers are careful to wear the symbol on their lapels for television interviews.

There was no minute of silence before the school games on the playing fields of Eton on Saturday, and no judgment is intended over that, but imagine if football had stuck rigidly to the parameters of Remembrance Sunday for its ceremony, too

Tribute: Manchester City's team lines up for a minute's silence at the Etihad on Remembrance Sunday

Tribute: Manchester City's team lines up for a minute's silence at the Etihad on Remembrance Sunday

There would have been outrage; the sport would have been accused of colossal disrespect. Mourning is almost competitive these days. Australia once brought the remembrance ceremony forward to before the start of a first Ashes Test in Brisbane, just in case the match did not last until Sunday.

Still, for some, nothing is ever enough. So a think tank called British Future is proposing that Remembrance Day be left free of sporting fixtures in 2014 to recognise the special responsibility the industry has in commemorating the start of the First World War.

They cite the number of sportsmen killed in the conflict — Scotland’s rugby team alone lost 30 internationals — as if this makes sport a special case. No doubt a lot of greengrocers were killed, too. Plenty of train drivers, and journalists, also. Yet British Future is not suggesting the shops stay shut, the newspapers don’t publish or the trains don’t run. Only sport. Always sport.

Freedom: Phil Neville (right) had a poppy on his shirt but James McClean (left) exercised his right not to wear one

Freedom: Phil Neville (right) had a poppy on his shirt but James McClean (left) exercised his right not to wear one

Nobody has to boycott Robert Mugabe’s
corrupt regime in Zimbabwe other than England’s cricketers; the
Government will not regulate pay-day loan companies but Newcastle
United should not accept their sponsorship. Now this. There is nothing
our moral guardians enjoy more than obliging sport to behave in a way
that is not expected of the rest of society.

British Future feels sport can raise awareness of the sacrifices made in 1914. You might think that is what history GCSE is for. Teach the subject properly and nobody would need footballers to have an afternoon off to remind generations of the horrors of the Somme.

History should not be hard to explain in a country full of memorials and museums. Ceremonies at the Cenotaph and Westminster Abbey, exhibitions at the Imperial War Museum or the National Maritime Museum should be considerably more meaningful than pushing Chelsea versus Liverpool back to Monday.

Symbol: Poppies adorned the shorts of City's Pablo Zabaleta (above) and Spurs' Emmanuel Adebayor (below)

Symbol: Poppies adorned the shorts of City's Pablo Zabaleta (above) and Spurs' Emmanuel Adebayor (below)

Symbol: Poppies adorned the shorts of City's Pablo Zabaleta (above) and Spurs' Emmanuel Adebayor (below)

Symbol: Poppies adorned the shorts of City's Pablo Zabaleta (above) and Spurs' Emmanuel Adebayor (below)

Indeed, there is a stronger argument
for maintaining sport’s Remembrance Day presence on the grounds that
50,000 people standing in silent reflection prior to kick-off captures
considerably greater emotion than an individual kicking around at home.

Clear message: Stoke City's Peter Crouch

Clear message: Stoke City's Peter Crouch

Some of the greatest gatherings of
remembrance took place at sports venues this weekend. There were 60,000
at Arsenal on Saturday; 80,000 at Twickenham. They were not there just
to commemorate the fallen but did so anyway. Did you

British Future argue that instead of
playing matches there should be a series of commemorative events, such
as a battlefield visit by the England and Scotland rugby squads to mark
the 11 players from the Calcutta Cup fixture in 1914 who died on active
service.

A YouGov poll found 54 per cent supported a sport-free Remembrance Sunday in 2014. Were they active supporters, though It doesn’t say. If not, few among them would appreciate the noble duty sport performs at this time.

Sport is so uniformly respectful of our historic legacy these days that when James McClean, a Republic of Ireland international playing for Sunderland, refused to wear his poppy-adorned shirt on Saturday it became national news.

Yet if we fought for anything in the last century — and, admittedly, this is a woollier concept when applied to the motivations behind 1914-18 — it was freedom. And that includes the freedom not to wear a poppy, and the freedom to attend football matches. Even on Remembrance Sunday.

Especially, in fact, on Remembrance Sunday.

Drive-past makes a mockery of St George’s

The inspired siting of the Football Association’s new home at St George’s Park, Burton-on-Trent, will hit home this week when Roy Hodgson and his England players fail to venture within 75 miles of it before flying to Stockholm.

The squad will train in Manchester on Monday before departing the next day. Team members based in the south will as good as drive past St George’s or fly over it to meet up. The complex will play host to the Under 19 squad who will have the run of the place before their match against Finland in Telford.

The previous six Under 19 home fixtures have taken place at Preston (twice), Rochdale, Leyton Orient, Brighton and Hove Albion and Chesterfield, yet now the squad have been relegated to the backwaters of the Conference.

Why Have a look at a map. The New Bucks Head ground is one of the few venues that make St George’s Park appear relevantly situated. Next stop: Yoxall Rangers.

Olympic Stadium a scandalous shut-out

The athletes are not the only ones who have been on a lap of honour since the London Olympics. Lord Coe has a book out and everyone connected with the staging of the Games has been basking in the reflected glory. Meanwhile, the plebs are supposed to ignore the growing scandal around the centrepiece of the event, London’s Olympic Stadium.

It has been empty since the Paralympic closing ceremony and has an uncertain future, and now we must politely overlook the fact that 486million was lavished on an arena that is basically unfit for purpose. It does not work as an exclusive home for athletics without being criminally underused and it does not completely work as a football ground because of the track.

The other sports that have expressed interest — from rugby union to cricket and American football — still need a football anchor to guarantee numbers. The Formula One plan overlooks a 17-year contract with Silverstone signed in 2009.

Days of glory: But London's Olympic Stadium is gathering dust as it is not fit for football

Days of glory: But London's Olympic Stadium is gathering dust as it is not fit for football

Here's how to do it: It took American investors to transform the Millennium Dome into the O2 Arena

Here's how to do it: It took American investors to transform the Millennium Dome into the O2 Arena

It did not take a business genius to foresee this crisis. Sir Steve Redgrave was talking of the need to embrace football long before the first brick was laid.

Now it is said the stadium could be shut for another three years while deliberations over tenancy continue. Dennis Hone, the chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, has ruled out a 2014 reopening. His earliest hope is for 2015, but maybe a year later.

Far from capitalising on London’s Olympic spirit, by the time anybody sets foot in the venue again, the real Olympic Stadium will be in Rio de Janeiro.

This could only happen here. What is now the O2 Arena sat idle costing 1m per month in maintenance as the Millennium Dome, while the greatest minds the Government could muster failed to find a use for it. AEG, an American entertainment company, turned the Dome into the successful hub we know today. We weren’t bright enough to think of that ourselves.

So it is with the Olympic Stadium. Nobody with direct influence over the process — not Lord Coe, Tessa Jowell or Ken Livingstone — anticipated this mess. Theirs was a staggeringly ill-conceived plan from the start, yet also wholly preventable. Someone should write a book about it.

Tevez v Neville

A
rather bizarre feud between Carlos Tevez and Gary Neville continues.
Tevez says Neville should be watching games as an England coach, rather
than watching games as an analyst for Sky television. Strange. One
would have thought it was the watching that mattered, rather than a seat
in the directors’ box or media suite.

More from Martin Samuel…

It shouldn't be taxing to make fairness work
08/11/12

Martin Samuel: Strictly speaking, we are looking in the wrong place for racism
06/11/12

Martin Samuel: Thinking football I fear for England when we're always dumbing down
28/10/12

Parky should be interviewed… about his scandalous adverts
25/10/12

Ajax 3 Man City 1: City's comedy of errors renders them a laughing stock once more
24/10/12

Martin Samuel: Racism debate is too big for T-shirt and tweets, Rio
21/10/12

A-levels are hard. Just ask my poor son
18/10/12

Martin Samuel: Cagey Roy faces his moment of reckoning after Poland draw
17/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

And while we’re at it…

Mary Whitehouse did not win. As her calls for censorship and sanitisation grew more shrill and extreme, so she was marginalised. It is the same for Peter Herbert and the Society of Black Lawyers. Having placed his organisation in the middle of the racism in football debate, Herbert’s sensationalist tactics are quickly eroding his credibility.

This is not to say, however, that he does not have a point about the appropriation of the word Yid by Tottenham Hotspur fans. Several decades of gangsta rap, stand-up comedy routines, Jackie Brown and the films of Spike Lee have not made the N-word any more acceptable when said to a black person. So the idea that a racist term can be seized by those it targets and removed of its sting remains pretty dubious.

Lenny Bruce was a brilliant comedian but life never panned out as he envisaged. He would up the house lights, round his audience verbally into niggers, kykes, wops and spics and then conclude that it was the suppression of the word that gave it the power. He suggested President Kennedy use the N-word to every black man he saw. ‘Until nigger didn’t mean anything any more; then you could never make some six-year-old black kid cry because somebody called him a nigger at school.’

It’s a wonderful ideal. But people have tried it. And here we are nearly 50 years later and abuse is still powerful, even with a black man in the White House. It might be simpler to just stop saying the N-word instead.

So there are better ways of repelling the anti-Semitism directed towards fans of Tottenham than having a largely gentile crowd chanting ‘Yid Army’. David Baddiel’s articulate dissection of the issue in these pages, his appeal to reason, was a considerably more effective way to go than the threat of a report to the police filed by Herbert’s Society of Black Lawyers. Do that, and hear the loudest, longest, most inappropriate chants in the history of White Hart Lane.

Brady shows the way

Karren Brady of West Ham United was this week deservedly voted CEO of the Year at the Football Business Awards. Famously, in the masculine world of club football, Brady employs a lot of women in her team because she instinctively places more trust in them than a male would.

Get a wider ethnic presence in at board level, as Charlton Athletic are close to doing with Paul Elliott for instance, and evolution will follow with more black managers being given an opportunity.

Brady’s example shows how much more effective this would be than the much-championed Rooney Rule.

Howley’s postcode punt doesn’t deliver

Mike Phillips has been the best scrum-half in Britain for close to five years now. His size challenges our preconceptions about the position; his attacking threat challenges those who stand in his way.

But Phillips is now with Bayonne in France and was unavailable for Wales’s training camp in Poland this autumn: so interim coach Rob Howley dropped him. It was seen as a warning to all Welsh players looking to make a career elsewhere. Tavis Knoyle of Llanelli Scarlets played in Phillips’ place. It made Wales seem a little like the Royston Vasey XV: a local team, for local people.

A class apart: Tavis Knoyle

The best: Wales' Mike Phillips

A class apart: Wales scrum-halfs Tavis Knoyle (left) and Mike Phillips (right)

On Saturday, the value of worthy training camps versus true international class became apparent, as Wales were soundly beaten at home by Argentina. Knoyle wasn’t the worst of it, but he wasn’t Phillips, either.

Rugby in the 21st century must decide what it wants to be. If it seeks to emulate the global sweep of football, then certain accommodations must be made. Whatever message Howley had hoped to send, the one that echoed loudest across the valleys was that Welsh rugby will travel backwards very quickly if selection is based on postcodes.

Training camps are important, but picking the best team matters more.

The true cost of Watford's loan rangers

Some might think that because Watford scored six against the nine men of Leeds United on Saturday, the Pozzo policy of flooding the club with loan signings is working.

Sadly, results are immaterial. It is not a good project if Watford win, or bad if they lose. To field a team that is passing through is wrong, whatever the scoreline, particularly when this is replacing investment in local youth.

Watford have downgraded their academy from category one (costing 2million annually) to category three (costing 250,000 to 500,000). The odd good day just isn’t worth it.

Ricky Ponting will play in Ashes – Mickey Arthur

Ponting will be ready for the Ashes… Australia chief backs veteran to star against England

|

UPDATED:

07:31 GMT, 1 May 2012

Australia coach Mickey Arthur wants Ricky Ponting to stay on until the next Ashes tour and has backed the former captain to overcome the shortage of Test cricket and hold his spot.

The 37-year-old was axed from the one-day international team during the Commonwealth Bank Series but maintained his spot in the Test XI after an outstanding Australian summer and Arthur was hopeful that would continue until the next Ashes tour in England in 2013.

After dominating India with 544 runs from four Tests at an average of 109, Ponting's form dropped in the 2-0 series win against the West Indies with a return of 146 runs at just 24.

Backing: Ponting has no plans to retire, according to Arthur

Backing: Ponting has no plans to retire, according to Arthur

But Arthur said he had no doubt Ponting had the ability and desire to help Australia win back the urn next year, even though a shortage of Test cricket in 2012 would prove a stumbling block.

Australia's next Test match is not until November when South Africa begin their tour, with the only matches for the side until then the five one-day international tour of England and the Twenty20 World Cup.

See you in England: Ponting will be ready for next summer's Ashes

See you in England: Ponting will be ready for next summer's Ashes

'I know there was a lot of media pressure and talk around Ricky, but Ricky's not going anywhere,' Arthur said.

'We hope Ricky's scoring enough runs to go to the Ashes, most certainly, in England.

'Ricky's still got a lot of Test runs in him, there's no doubt about that.

'I thought Ricky was very unlucky (in the West Indies) … he was always bubbling away. His form was always good, so no worries about Ricky Ponting at all.

'Ricky is definitely no way considering retiring I wouldn't have thought from my conversations with him and he'll be fit and ready to go against South Africa … I think if we win the Ashes, then maybe he'll go out on the top of his game.'

Arthur said Ponting's extensive experience in his 165-Test career would be enough for him to enter the South African series in good form, even though he'll be short on match practice.

'We don't have to worry about Ricky Ponting, he'll be ready,' he said.

The new coach, who has won seven of his first nine Tests, also said he was 'very comfortable' with Ed Cowan and David Warner maintaining the opening partnership despite their recent struggles.

Cowan has averaged less than 30 through his first seven Tests and scored only 152 runs in the West Indies while Warner also didn't reach his brilliant best in the Caribbean.

'I think Warner and Cowan will get better and better,' Arthur said.

'Ed Cowan came on through the summer … he got better and better at playing spin bowling.

'We want Dave to get more consistent but it's not his style. We certainly don't want Dave to lose his character, because that's what made him special.'

Andrew Strauss: I hate my players defending me

I hate my players defending me, says under-pressure England skipper Strauss

|

UPDATED:

08:42 GMT, 16 April 2012

Tonless: Strauss is without a century since the Brisbane Test

Tonless: Strauss is without a century since the Brisbane Test

England Test captain Andrew Strauss has expressed his frustration at having his players defend him following his lengthy run without a century and his team's poor form on the sub-continent.

Spinner Graeme Swann praised Strauss for his measured response to what he described as a 'witch hunt' against the 35-year-old, whose position came into question for the first time in his three-year reign after the tourists lost their fourth straight Test in Galle to go 1-0 down in their series against Sri Lanka.

In an interview with former England skipper Michael Atherton in The Times, he said: 'Well nobody is beyond criticism. I didn't feel, I don't feel, that the talk of me finishing after that game was right.

'I can't agree with that, but those are the things you have to deal with as an England player.

Take bat: Strauss hit a hard-working 61 in Colombo

Take bat: Strauss hit a hard-working 61 in Colombo

'I hate my players having to come out and defend me; as a captain you want to feel that you are one of the first names on the teamsheet, so that has been very frustrating. But I was so determined, and feel very determined to take the team further.'

Strauss has not scored a Test century since the first Ashes Test in November 2010, but finished the tour on a positive note with a hard-working 61 in the first innings en route to a series-levelling eight-wicket win in Colombo earlier this month.

'What Colombo has taught me is how much gas there is left in the tank yet,' he added.

'No-one likes to be the topic of the month; it's not fun to feel that pressure.

'I had a long chat with [coach] Andy [Flower] and we agreed that sometimes when you become the focus it forces you to confront the problem. It shouldn't get to the stage where you need a jab to perform but it often does.

'There are countless examples of players who have timed their run late to re-establish their credentials.'