Yes, we are back once again with all the high and lows from the world of sports this week as we head into the fourth month of the nationwide lockdown, which has put the world to a halt. But, we can assure you, even with not much going on, the latest edition of Good, Bad and Ugly is worth a read.
ICC launches ODI Super League
Even though there’s not much cricket action at the moment, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has set the tone for One-Day Internationals in the future by introducing the ODI Super League. In a bid to revive the lost glory of the 50-over format and bring relevance to it, the competition involving 13 teams kick-started this week from the England-Ireland series. The tournament featured 12 full members along with the Netherlands - the winner of the ICC World Cricket Super League 2015-17. The league will see each side play four home and four away there-match series, with the top seven teams (as per points collected) will get a direct entry to the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup.
As per the format, each team will not play four out of the total teams in the course of the league. For instance, India will not face Bangladesh, Netherlands, Ireland or Pakistan in the Super League. Each win will fetch a team 10 points, abandoned matches will see the sides share five points each, while there’s no point on offer for a loss. The six bottom-placed teams will feature in the 2022 Cricket World Cup qualifier, the venue for which hasn't been announced yet
Indian football clubs achieve rare milestones
Two of India’s most decorated clubs - Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, already known for its glorious history throughout the world, have enriched their legacy even further. Mohun Bagan celebrated its 131st anniversary of the famous win against East Yorkshire Regiments in the final of IFA Shield on July 29th - celebrated as the Mohun Bagan Day. This year was all the more special, with the American Stock Exchange - NASDAQ - observing the occasion as displaying the club’s name on their billboard at Times Square, in New York.
Crossroad rivals East Bengal completed its 100th year - a feat which is rare in Indian football, thus entering into the elite club, which already includes Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting Club. It's really unfortunate that a club of East Bengal’s stature, who were gearing up to celebrate the occasion with aplomb, had to take a reverse route with the pandemic situation looming over. Nevertheless, it has been a great journey for the club, who made the nation proud by winning the first International club tournament - ASEAN Cup - back in 2003.
South Africa tour of West Indies put on hold indefinitely
Rosy cricket days are far away it seems, with the series’ in England the only silver lining. Graeme Smith, the director of Cricket South Africa has clearly stated that the Proteas are not going to taste International action till November, with their tour of West Indies put on hold for an indefinite period. It was only last week that West Indies chief executive Johnny Grave announced that they are hopeful of hosting South Africa for either two Tests or five One-Day Internationals, but Graeme Smith has put an end to any such possibilities.
Cricket South Africa has already cut short a tour in India back in March, at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic had just struck and also postponed a tour to Sri Lanka for the same reason. But, the Proteas are set for a busy cricket schedule towards the end of this year and early 2021 - if the situation permits. In a span of three months, from January to March, South Africa is scheduled to play Test matches against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia. Once again, the Covid-19 pandemic remains the biggest hurdle.
South African players set to miss out on Caribbean Premier League action
While the IPL is still a couple of months away, cricket fans around the world were expecting some T20 action in the Caribbean Premier League, but the tournament has hit a major blow as five South African cricketers have failed to confirm travel arrangements to reach the West Indies by August 1 to observe a 14-day quarantine period. The event is slated to kick-start on August 18, but the players were expected to arrive in Trinidad by the first day of the month to create a bio-bubble environment as per the safety protocols set in the pandemic.
However, Imran Tahir, who fled directly from Pakistan to Trinidad, will be the only South African to feature in the Caribbean Premier League this season. As per reports, the organisers of the T20 tourney had arranged a chartered flight from the United Kingdom to the West Indies for the players, but the scarcity of the flights and VISA requirements along with other issues have made the five South African players - Rassie van der Dussen, Tabraiz Shamsi, Anrich Nortje, Rilee Rossouw and Colin Ingram impossible to reach the UK on time.
Indian athletes refuse to start training
Even after repeated efforts from the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Indian athletes have been reluctant to join national camps citing safety concerns, with the number of Covid-19 cases increasing at an alarming rate throughout the country. It was only recently that Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat pulled out of a proposed women’s national camp in Sonepat - an area in the NCR region, while Pooja Dhanda has raised concerns over the possibility of hosting a camp in a hotspot like Sonepat. But, that’s not all.
Meanwhile, India’s top pugilist Vikas Krishan has decided to re-start his professional career in the United States of America, rather than attend the national training camp in Patiala as he feels that the latter is not enough to fetch him Olympic glory next year in Tokyo. Swimming which has been neglected so far by the government has seen no improvement, with the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) looking into the possibilities of hosting training camps outside for Olympic aspirants if the authorities do not give permission to re-open swimming pools any time soon. It’s really heart-breaking, but Indian sports are in quite a loss of mess, with less than 12 months left for the Tokyo Olympics.
National shooting camp postponed
Just when you feel the situation has eased a bit, thunder strikes again. That has been the case with the current pandemic situation, with the National Sports Federations trying heads to heels to restore normalcy, but a roadblock has always washed away their plans. It was recently that the National Rifle Federation of India (NRAI) had to postpone the shooting camp for the Tokyo-bound athletes citing health concerns. While the event was set to be held at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, the recent surge in the spike of Covid-19 cases around the National Capital Region (NCR) forced the organisers to push back the camp.
To add more misery, one of the coaches present in the camp has also been tested positive for the deadly virus. As per resorts, the camp, which was set to start on August 1, has now been pushed back at least a week. This is not the first time that camps have been postponed, with the men’s and women’s hockey team yet to get a green signal to resume their activities at the SAI centre, in Bengaluru with the state government declaring lockdown just a couple of days before the official start date.