News from Sporting Agenda

 

  • Ashes in the balance as England look to bounce back at Lord's

    It may be the back end of August, and football is beginning to take centre stage again, whilst the Rugby World Cup is only around the corner, but the Lord’s test is finally upon us. Normally the highlight of the cricketing calendar, albeit this year probably superseded by the World Cup Final, it is, however, a game England daren’t lose if they are to have any realistic hope of regaining the Ashes. Having capitulated so badly despite being on top for the most part of the first test, England are now up against it after Australia seized the upper hand with a crushing victory. However, England will be hoping the much anticipated introduction of Sussex speedster Jofra Archer will not only boost their chances, but also send shivers through the Australian ranks. With a bit more application with the bat and some luck with the ball, there’s no reason England can’t turn it around.

  • Premier League blows back into town

    After a seemingly brief respite, apart from the endless transfer speculation, football’s eagerly anticipated Premier League kicks off again this weekend. With the transfer window now closed and all business completed, it’s time to see how wisely the millions have been spent. Whilst Liverpool have been relatively frugal, the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and reigning champions Manchester City have invested heavily, the latter taking the Community Shield on penalties last weekend at Wembley. It’s hard to look beyond the usual suspects, but who knows, with upsets and shocks along the way, although probably not of the magnitude of Leicester City’s miracle, and the battle to avoid relegation will be as hard fought as ever. If it’s anything like the last, it should be a season to remember.

  • England out to regain the urn

    Cricket’s oldest rivalry returns this week as England’s bid to regain the Ashes from Australia begins at Edgbaston. Having suffered an almighty scare before comfortably seeing off Ireland at Lord’s last week, England will be taking nothing for granted and will be fully focussed on the task in hand. With their World Cup victory still fresh in the memory, confidence levels will be high, and they will be hoping to ride the crest of this particular wave for the rest of what could possibly be their greatest ever summer. Australia, for their part, have included in their squad all three players recently returned from ball-tampering bans, so they can expect no quarter from what will be a partisan English crowd. Meanwhile, new innovations making their first appearances in the game include a points system towards an overall World Test Championship, names and numbers on shirts, and like for like concussion substitutes. Whilst the game itself moves on, there is also nothing like the traditions of an Ashes series to stir the emotions.

  • Thomas up against it in Tour defence

    With the Tour de France nearing its completion, and no Chris Froome this year, following his horrific crash during June’s Criterium du Dauphine, British interest is restricted to Simon Yates and last year’s winner, Geraint Thomas. Whilst Yates has managed to win a couple of stages, it is Thomas who holds any realistic hopes of winning the outright yellow jersey, although with only a few stages remaining, he has a ground to make up on the current leader. However, whilst he has it in him to retain the title on the Champs Elysee in Paris, it would be a truly remarkable achievement should he do so.

  • England take on Ireland in Ashes warm-up

    Following their nail-biting but gloriously exhilarating victory over an unlucky New Zealand in the World Cup final at Lord’s, England return not only to the scene of their triumph but also to the longer form of the game as they try to hone their skills prior to the Ashes with a one off test match against Ireland. It remains to be seen whether their World Cup hangover has left Joe Root’s side feeling a little worse for wear, whilst Ireland wily bunch of experienced cricketers are bound to be up for it as they make their first test match appearance at the home of cricket, and only the third in their history. England won’t be expecting a pushover.

  • McIlroy looking for home advantage at The Open

    The Open Championship crosses the Irish Sea for the first time since 1951 this week, as the golfing world descends upon the spectacular Royal Portrush golf course on the beautiful County Antrim coastline for what is now the final major of the year. With Rory McIlroy very much on home turf and not only a serious contender but also the holder of the course record of 61, shot as a mere 16-year-old, it is clear where the home support will lie. However, he and any other Europeans with title pretensions, including the current holder Molinari, as well as Fleetwood, Rahm and Rose, will have their work cut out to stop the first American clean sweep of the four majors since 1982, after Woods, Koepka and Woodland took the US Masters, US PGA and US Open respectively. With some slightly inclement weather in the forecast, it’s bound to be a bumpy ride but will make for compulsive viewing.

  • England finally on course for World Cup glory

    With their mid-tournament wobble now firmly behind them, England simply annihilated Australia in front of an expectant and baying Edgbaston crowd to reach their fourth ICC World Cup final, and their first since 1992. Standing in their way for the showpiece event at Lord’s will be New Zealand, who, managed to overcome India’s stellar batting line-up with a superb display in the field during what was a brilliant first semi-final.  New Zealand are not to be underestimated, as they have a few potential match winners in their side, but, with home advantage and their own form on an upward spiral, England will have to consider themselves as hot favourites to finally and deservedly lift that elusive title at the home of cricket. Whatever the outcome, it promises to be a fantastic occasion.