Euro 2020 Special

The Sky is Blue…All We Need Now is Cricket!

Easter weekend has passed and that means the cricket season would, in normal times, be back on the agenda here in England.

The sun is out and the sky is blue, but there is no sound of leather on willow because the great game has been put on hold due to the spread of coronavirus. It’s the same story right around the globe and we simply need to be patient.

Of course Cricket 2020 hit the skids a few weeks ago with the World Test Championship put on hold, along with the domestic seasons and the IPL and PSL delayed on the sub-continent. But we’ll get through this sooner or later, and in the meantime we’re watching highlights of great games gone by.

Cricket fans in England have been treated to a re-run of the 2019 Ashes Test at Headingly with the BBC broadcasting ball-by-ball coverage of Ben Stokes’ spectacular performance which broke Aussie hearts. It was the greatest afternoon for years for Three Lions fans and well worth reliving. When Stokes, who had already fired England to ODI World Cup glory in 2019, was joined by number 11 Jack Leach, the hosts still needed 72 to win.

Cricket: Ben Stokes smashes a six on the way to an unbeaten 135 in Headingley Test
                                                               Ben Stokes celebrates after winning the third Ashes test vs Australia

But the Durham man, supported by the bespectacled Leach, who showed bravery beyond belief, hammered England home with an unbeaten 135. Comparisons with Ian Botham’s 1981 Ashes heroics have been drawn, and Stokes comes out favourably alongside the great man.

Cricket highlights are all we have to keep us going at the moment but, for England fans, it doesn’t get any better than that!


Player uncertainty

Delays in cricket around the world are disappointing for fans but have also been disruptive for players, with two stars from down under missing out on a chance to play in the English County Championship.

Hampshire fans were looking forward to the arrival of Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon, so often a tormentor of the England team, but his hopes have been dashed by the spread of the virus. Director of cricket Giles White says cancelling Lyon’s contract was the most sensible thing to do but he is hopeful Hampshire will see him play before too long, saying: “He’s been brilliant to deal with and totally understood the situation. We had adult discussions around his contract and where the season was heading; we felt the best thing to do for now is to postpone his contract and hopefully we’ll see him again.”

Meanwhile, along the English coast towards France, New Zealand’s Matt Henry’s chance to return to Kent has disappeared along with the start of the English County Championship. The 28 year old fast bowler took 75 wickets for Kent in 2018 and was due to return for the opening seven fixtures of this season. Former player and current director of cricket Paul Downton rates the Kiwi highly, saying: “Hopefully another opportunity will arise in the near future which will allow him to join us once again.”

Meanwhile, players are doing their best to support the fight against COVID19. Lancashire and England star Jos Buttler has auctioned the shirt he wore in last summer’s World Cup final to raise money for hospitals fighting the disease.

The wicket-keeper played a massive role in the victory over New Zealand, scoring a half century and batting in the Super Over.


IPL on hold

The world’s most popular T20 competition has been postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic, following the India government’s decision to extend the country’s lockdown until May 3rd. The eight-team league was due to start at the end of March but with airports shut, fans stuck at home and no-one able to move around freely there seems little prospect of seeing any change for the next four weeks.

Players can’t travel and that’s a problem for most sports. All the big world competitions are on hold, apart from football in Belarus of course! But let’s look on the bright side folks. There’s plenty to look forward to here at SBOTOP, with La Liga, Pro Golf, Formula 1, the ATP Tour as well as football and the cricket to enjoy when this all blows over.

We’ll be right back as soon as play starts again with the best Cricket predictions, and hopefully we’ll get a long hot summer to bring the crowds flooding back in.

Until then, stay safe.

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