I Dig Sports
Pakistan left-arm spinner Raza Hasan, who once played a pivotal role in a win against Australia in the 2012 World T20, has seen his career set back sharply once more after being expelled from the Quaid-e-Azam trophy for breaching Covid-19 protocols. According to a PCB release, the 28-year old left the bio-secure hotel where his team, the Northerns 2nd XI, was based. Nadeem Khan, the PCB's High Performance Director, called his actions "irresponsible and damaging".
The PCB has set up bio-secure hotels for both the Quaid-e-Azam trophy teams as well as the second XI sides, with players forbidden from leaving the premises without seeking express permission from the medical staff as well as the High Performance department. Hasan, it appears, did not attempt to obtain clearance from either, which has landed him an effective ban for the rest of the season.
"It is sad and unfortunate that despite several reminders and educational programmes on the significance and importance of respecting and following Covid-19 protocols, Raza Hasan decided to take matters in his hand and overstepped the line," Nadeem Khan said. "As such, he has been expelled from the tournament and will not be allowed for the remaining season.
"The PCB has a zero-tolerance approach towards Covid-19 breaches as these are designed to not only ensure health and safety of all participants but to also demonstrate to the world that we can successfully organise and deliver domestic competitions.
"I sincerely hope Raza Hasan will use this time to reflect on his irresponsible actions and the potential damage his breach could have caused to the event in general and Pakistan cricket in particular."
This is the latest incident in a career that began promising so much, but has so far too long appeared on a path of self-destruction. After making his debut as a 19-year old in T20 cricket in 2012, Hasan was picked for the T20 World Cup, where he memorably returned figures of 4-0-14-2, against Australia removing both Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell in a Man-of-the-Match performance. Consistency, as well as discipline, however, eluded him, and in 2015, he was banned for two years for testing positive for a prohibited substance.
He was given an opportunity to return when Lahore Qalandars snapped him up in a draft ahead of the 2018 PSL. He played two games without making an impact, or indeed taking a wicket. He was let go after the season, and has been a regular in the Northerns 2nd XI side this season, without quite delivering the standout performances that might hint at a career anywhere near as promising as the one he looked set to have in 2012.
How the game played out
Thisara Perera, seemingly possessed by the spirit of Andre Russell, transformed an ailing Jaffna Stallions innings into a truly imposing one, with an awesome exhibition of power hitting, as his team secured an ultimately comfortable win to remain unbeaten in the LPL.
Chasing 219 on most days is a tall ask, but it becomes downright daunting when it follows an innings as demoralising and deflating as the one Perera produced.
In what was his best-ever T20 score, and the second-highest by a No.7 batsman in T20 cricket (highest is, unsurprisingly, by Andre Russell), the raw numbers - 97 runs off 44 deliveries, including eight fours and seven sixes, at a strike-rate of 220 - only tell part of the story.
After all, the day had started so well for the Viiking. On a flat track, they had won the toss, chosen to field, and then utilised their bowling options to great effect, with five different bowlers keeping the Stallions to 40 for 4 inside the powerplay - the lowest powerplay total of the tournament. During this period, each of Lahiru Kumara, Ramesh Mendis, Anwar Ali and Samit Patel had struck in the first over of their opening spells. Life was good.
By the time Perera came to the crease, the Stallions were in an even more precarious position - 64 for 5 midway through the ninth over. But that's where the good times end; in the final 10 overs, the Stallions would ransack 147 runs, with Perera responsible for 94 of them.
Even as late as the 19th over, with the score on 172 for 7, the Viiking might have imagined a target under 200 - more than they would have liked, sure, but still doable - only for Perera to plunder 30 more off Kumara. The 18 runs off the final over was just overkill, as were the two wickets he would pick up later.
The Viiking would respond with 152, a total which in another universe - one where Perera had an off-day, or wasn't born - might have won them the game.
Stars of the day
Thisara Perera has long frustrated Sri Lankan fans with his inconsistent ways, but when he's on song there are few batsmen in world cricket more destructive - which is why it's probably not the best idea to repeatedly pitch the ball straight, full and in the slot.
The Viiking, who had done exceptionally well to nullify a strong Stallions top order, undid that work in equally exceptional fashion as they repeatedly tried and failed at executing yorkers. The mere fact that if you took away Perera's runs from every part of the ground, aside from in front of the wicket, he would still end up with 56, tells its own story.
Aside from Perera, Usman Shinwari also deserves a mention for his four overs that produced three wickets for 16 runs - a spell which tweaked the difficulty slider on an already tough task.
Thisara waking up on the right side of the bed.
The big miss
The inability of the Viiking bowlers to hit their marks at the death proved costly, but Dasun Shanaka might look back ruefully at his decision not to bowl out Aftab Alam, the only one of his seamers that was executing his yorkers with some degree of consistency.
Patel, too, could have been an option in the latter overs, when it became clear Perera had got his eye in against pace. Paul Stirling, a more than decent off-break option in his own right, meanwhile did not get a bowl.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The NFL canceled the Baltimore Ravens' practice for Monday morning, a day before the team is scheduled to play the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The Ravens are in the midst of one of the biggest outbreaks in professional sports with at least one positive test for the past eight days. Baltimore has officially placed 18 players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list in the past week and has since had three starters -- tight end Mark Andrews, outside linebacker Matthew Judon and wide receiver Willie Snead IV -- test positive, according to sources.
As of Monday morning, the Ravens are still deciding on when to travel to Pittsburgh, according to a source. Baltimore was originally set to take two planes, which would allow for extra social distancing, to Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning and play the Steelers at Heinz Field that night. But the Ravens could leave as early as Monday night because the Pittsburgh area is expected to get 2 to 4 inches of snow Tuesday.
The outbreak in Baltimore has already led to the Week 12 game between the Ravens and Steelers to be postponed twice.
The Ravens were about to hold their first full practice in 10 days on Monday morning before the league cancelled it. The team facility has been closed since Tuesday at noon.
After the practice was cancelled, All-Pro Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey tweeted: "Virtual Tuesday Night Game?"
Virtual Tuesday Night Game? https://t.co/9pVNlX0gPS— Marlon Humphrey (@marlon_humphrey) November 30, 2020
Over that time, at least a dozen players have tested positive, including reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, starting center Patrick Mekari, fullback Patrick Ricard, defensive end Calais Campbell, outside linebackers Pernell McPhee and Judon, according to a source. All of these players will not play against the Steelers.
In total, there have been at least 30 members of the Ravens organization -- from players to coaches to even the team nutritionist -- who have tested positive or have been identified as a high-risk close contact since Nov. 22.
Who are the NBA free agents to watch in 2021 and 2022? The 2020 free-agent class featured less star power than normal, as the league blitzed through a condensed transaction period featuring the draft and free agency in the same week.
The 2021 class has more hype, potentially featuring names such as LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul, Paul George, Victor Oladipo, DeMar DeRozan, Blake Griffin, Rudy Gobert and Andre Drummond. Some of those players will agree to extensions or pick up player options before ever hitting the market, while others will have plenty of suitors.
Here's our team-by-team look at all the players who can and will hit free agency over the next two seasons.
Key: Restricted = Restricted free agent; Player = Player option; Team = Team option; ETO = Early termination option
Jarrett Allen (restricted)
Spencer Dinwiddie (player)
Bruce Brown (restricted)
Kevin Durant (player)
Kyrie Irving (player)
Landry Shamet (restricted)
Rodions Kurucs (restricted)
Nic Claxton (restricted)
Lauri Markkanen (restricted)
Wendell Carter Jr. (restricted)
Chandler Hutchison (restricted)
Facundo Campazzo (restricted)
Michael Porter Jr. (restricted)
Vlatko Cancar (restricted)
Bol Bol (restricted)
Kawhi Leonard (player)
Paul George (player)
Serge Ibaka (player)
Luke Kennard (restricted)
LeBron James (player)
Montrezl Harrell (player)
Kyle Kuzma (restricted)
Talen Horton-Tucker (restricted)
Goran Dragic (team)
Andre Iguodala (team)
Meyers Leonard (team)
Avery Bradley (team)
Duncan Robinson (restricted)
Kendrick Nunn (restricted)
Chris Silva (team)
Jrue Holiday (player)
D.J. Wilson (restricted)
Bryn Forbes (player)
Bobby Portis (player)
Lonzo Ball (restricted)
Nicolo Melli (restricted)
Josh Hart (restricted)
Dennis Smith Jr. (restricted)
Frank Ntilikina (restricted)
Kevin Knox (restricted)
Omari Spellman (restricted)
Jacob Evans (restricted)
Ignas Brazdeikis (restricted)
Justin Jackson (restricted)
T.J. Leaf (restricted)
Hamidou Diallo (restricted)
Markelle Fultz (restricted)
Al-Farouq Aminu (player)
Jonathan Isaac (restricted)
Terrance Ferguson (restricted)
Tony Bradley (restricted)
Vincent Poirier (restricted)
Shake Milton (team)
Rodney Hood (team)
Derrick Jones (player)
Zach Collins (restricted)
Gary Trent Jr. (restricted)
Lonnie Walker (restricted)
Norman Powell (player)
Aron Baynes (team)
OG Anunoby (restricted)
DeAndre' Bembry (team)
Raul Jimenez suffered a fractured skull in a collision with Arsenal defender David Luiz during Wolves' 2-1 win at the Emirates on Sunday, the Mexico international's club confirmed in a statement on Monday.
Jimenez, 29, underwent lengthy treatment on the pitch following the clash of heads with Luiz while defending an Arsenal corner in the fifth minute of the game.
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Although Luiz was able to continue until half-time after having a bandage applied to a head wound, Jimenez was wheeled off the pitch on a stretcher while receiving oxygen after 10 minutes of on field treatment.
Jimenez was taken to hospital and Wolves have confirmed that the forward underwent surgery on Sunday.
"Raul is comfortable following an operation last night, which he underwent in a London hospital," a Wolves statement said.
"He has since seen his partner Daniela and is now resting. He will remain under observation for a few days while he begins his recovery.
"The club would like to thank the medical staff at Arsenal, the NHS paramedics, hospital staff and surgeons who, through their skill and early response, were of such help.
"The club ask that Raul and his family are now afforded a period of space and privacy, before any further updates are provided in due course."
Sources have told ESPN that it is too early to ascertain the likely length of Jimenez's absence and that the player needs to recover fully from surgery before a full assessment is made.
Greg Barclay, the new ICC chairman, has conceded that the ambitious World Test Championship (WTC) hasn't quite achieved what it intended to, and the disruption caused by Covid-19 has only highlighted its "shortcomings". Barclay suggested going "back to the drawing board" after getting the latest - maiden - edition of the competition out of the way.
"In short, I don't think so. Covid has probably highlighted its shortcomings of the championship," Barclay said during a virtual media conference for wire services on Monday, when asked if the WTC has served its purpose.
The WTC schedule was affected in a big way by the pandemic, forcing the ICC to come up with a percentage allocation of points since it wasn't going to be possible to finish all the scheduled series before the 2021 final at the Lord's.
"... the issues that we have already got, I wonder whether some of it was because of an attempt to develop a Test Championship, clearly designed to drive interest back into Test cricket, provide a bit of context and relevance around the Test matches," Barclay said.
"From an idealist's point of view, probably it had a lot of merit but practically, I do disagree, I am not sure whether it has achieved what it intended to do.
"My personal view is let's get through with the little bit that we can in this Covid-19, with reallocation of points and all that [...] but once we have done that, let's go back to the drawing board as I am not quite sure whether it entirely fits the purpose and has achieved what it intended to after being conceptualised four to five years back.
"I think we need to look at it in context of calendar and not put cricketers in a situation where it's a lot worse and not going to help us."
Barclay said that he had the support of some full-member nations on the matter too. "Yeah, I think there would be some countries (who agree with the rethink). It is difficult for some of the full members as they simply can't afford to play Test cricket," he said. "Test cricket has got its legacy and I am a purist but I do accept that as much as I want to keep it as it is, less and less countries are able to afford that arrangement and are able to play it.
"Clearly, there is a demand (for T20 leagues) from the playing point of view and commercial partnering perspective. So let's accept that domestic leagues are here to stay and they have been tremendously contributing to the growth of the really exciting product like the IPL, BBL and CPL" Greg Barclay
"Very few countries can make it work from a financial point of view."
While Barclay said he believed that T20 leagues would stay, and continue to assist the financial health of the member boards, he wanted bilateral series with context as players' safety as well as physical and mental health would be paramount in coming days.
"My view is that, I think all forms of cricket need to be taken into account," he said. "You are right, the calendar is increasingly becoming congested and something has to give somewhere.
"... but I do respect that each country has the right to develop its own domestic league given it meets the ICC requirements and is properly sanctioned.
"Clearly there is a demand from the playing point of view and commercial partnering perspective. So let's accept that domestic leagues are here to stay and they have been tremendously contributing to the growth of the really exciting product like the IPL, BBL and CPL."
Context, he reiterated, would be key in keeping bilateral cricket in good health.
"It's an incredibly difficult juggling act to get in there and also, we need to have enough conversations regarding players' health safety. I don't think we have had enough conversations," he said. "Some of the focus needs to be on the integrity aspect of the game and we need to have competitions which are relevant and have context."
When asked about having more global events, which the world body had informally proposed before being rejected by members, Barclay said, "Bilateral cricket is fundamentally important to member countries. ICC runs very, very good events; all countries must have an opportunity to take part in these events.
"I am a fan of maintaining ICC events which are world-class, but at the same time, giving an opportunity to members to have bilateral cricket."
On (the lack of) cricket between India and Pakistan, Barclay chose not to get involved, saying it was "not his mandate" and that he understood there were "geo-political" considerations in play, but he did acknowledge the importance of the BCCI to the global game, despite the many ICC vs BCCI incidents over the years: "India is a massively important part of world cricket. Like all families, we have general squabbles but India recognises that ICC needs Indian cricket. We have been able to navigate through differences, if any."
Dear ITTF Executive Committee
Dear ITTF Board of Directors
Dear ITTF Member Associations
Dear Chinese Table Tennis Association
Dear ITTF Management, Dear WTT Management, Dear ITTF Foundation Management
After 66 days on the road, the whole team is on the way back home. Personally, I am really looking forward to seeing my wife and kids. Before arriving I wanted to share with you some thoughts and feelings.
Wow! What an amazing few months.
We gave sport and the table tennis world hope that even in a crisis we can prevail. When the majority of Olympic Sports around the world are still trying to return to international competition – table tennis did it.
From the idea, to the planning, to our Executive Committee led by our President Thomas Weikert agreeing to go for it and all the way to the end – we made it. All with not one single health issue during the pandemic – zero COVID-19 cases.
Those of you who were here and also those that were not here – the work, the sweat, the tears and the absolute joy of watching our favourite players competing for the top prizes in our #RESTART series will go down in history as one of the most important things that the ITTF and table tennis has ever achieved. The players were also AMAZING – they have also had a really tough year with no major relevant international competitions – we did this mostly for them and we are indebted for their sacrifice.
But, you all should be VERY PROUD.
Without you it would have been impossible. Even writing this email and thinking about what you have all done brings me to tears. For most of 2020 we have simply been fighting to survive, but in the past few months we did not only survive – we did more – we showed the world that table tennis is well and truly alive and with a very bright future.
Thank you China. Thank you CTTA. Thank you Liu Guoliang. Without China’s full powerful support for the events and our sport none of this would have been possible. Our sport has a rich history in your country and we look forward to continuing to work together for the benefit of table tennis all over the world. Thank you also to the German and Thailand Table Tennis Associations for agreeing with the move of the World Cups.
Although some still are concerned about our trajectory, simply we need to continue to show the World that Hard Work, Passion, Professionalism and most importantly ensuring that everything we do has table tennis as the main interest. If we always ensure that then we will prove that we are on the right pathway.
We move quickly our attention to 2021 that now with the confidence of #RESTART we will make even bigger and better events and get all our activities back up and running. We look forward to seeing and being together with you all in Busan, Korea for the World Table Tennis Championships.
Thanks again – you are all heroes.
Table Tennis Heroes.
For All, For Life, For Table Tennis.
Wales centre Nick Tompkins says understand rugby fans' frustration over an abundance of kicking and lack of attacking play in the current game.
The Autumn Nations Cup tournament has proved a damp squib in terms of entertainment value.
England ground out a 24-13 victory over Wales at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday in a game dominated by kicking.
"I would say that I totally understand where they [fans] are coming from," said Tompkins.
"Myself, I want to attack and get ball in hand and pass and play, but at the end of the day we are playing Test rugby to win.
"We do that however we can do it, and sometimes maybe the rules shift and this happens. It ebbs and flows. We have to adapt.
"I understand exactly where that argument comes from because I have felt it sometimes myself.
"We have to keep looking at these rules and making decisions to make sure everything is fluid, and we should be able to change things.
"Just as much as we bring them in, we should be able to take them out.
"I believe the rules that have come in around the breakdown have made it a lot harder to attack.
"How the rules are and how quick referees are to give penalties away for holding on, you want to kick the ball away a bit more and put a team under pressure.
"You could argue that, or just say we have to get better at what we do in terms of retaining possession. It's a combination of a couple of things.
"It is frustrating from a backs' point of view, but you have to adapt and move."
Wales' latest defeat was a seventh in nine Tests under head coach Wayne Pivac, although it proved their best performance since running England close at Twickenham eight months ago.
They wind up the Nations Cup campaign with a home play-off against Italy next Saturday, and Tompkins added: "We've got to take the positives out of the performance and can keep getting better, like we are.
"It sometimes feels we shoot ourselves in the foot and our mistakes are our undoing, but if we look at the positives, we are in these games.
"It's going to come. If we keep chipping away, the rock will crack. We just have to keep pounding at it."
Cavani deleted the post, sent to a friend on Instagram, after being made aware of the meaning in the UK.
The 32-year-old scored twice -- including a stoppage-time winner -- as United came from 2-0 down to beat Southampton 3-2 on Sunday.
Sources have told ESPN that Cavani meant the phrase as a term of affection in response to a message of congratulations following the result at St Mary's.
Cavani has explained to United that he was unaware of the meaning in the UK because it is used among friends in his native Uruguay. It is likely to be his defence if he faces an FA charge.
The FA found the tweet constituted an "aggravated breach" of the Football Association's rules on social media behaviour and Silva was also ordered to undergo an education course.
Mikel Arteta is now discovering what it is really like to be Arsenal manager. Just like Unai Emery and Arsene Wenger before him, the Spaniard must ready himself for another winter of discontent at the Emirates after a 2-1 defeat at home to Wolves. The Gunners currently sit in 14th position in the table, having made their worst start to a Premier League season.
Arsenal haven't started any season this poorly since 1981-82, and they hadn't lost on home turf against Wolves since 1979. Star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who started centrally against Wolves, is still waiting for his first goal at the Emirates since last season, too, so there really aren't many silver linings on the clouds that are hovering above the club right now.
And just to compound Arsenal's misery, they must travel to face bitter rivals Tottenham next Sunday with Jose Mourinho's team sitting pretty at the top of the table following their 0-0 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier in the day.
"We need more goals to win football matches," Arteta said. "We need to keep supporting the players. We're creating chances but struggling to score goals. That's the difference between winning and losing.
"When you lose matches, the confidence goes down because they believe things can happen again.
"You need to win after a defeat. We've been doing this in my time here, but this is the first time since we've been here [that Arsenal have had a losing run]."
There was always a danger that winning the FA Cup and Community Shield in the first year of Arteta's reign in charge would turn out to be too much too soon for a club that has lost its way as a Premier League force. That is now proving to be the case.
Optimism grew with those Wembley successes, against Chelsea and Liverpool, and they probably played a big role in persuading Aubameyang to end the uncertainty over his future by signing a new three-year contract at the club in September. But Aubameyang has scored just one league goal since putting pen to paper on his deal, and Arteta's progress has also stalled. The trophies papered over cracks that have not gone away.
That Arsenal have gone off the rails at the same time that Aubameyang has stopped scoring is hardly a coincidence. With Arteta attempting to solve the team's long-standing defensive issues by making the Gunners more organised, there was always the risk that the plan would fall to pieces if Aubameyang lost his goal touch.
Arsenal have had 95 efforts at goal in 10 league games so far this season -- only four teams have had fewer -- and scored from just 10 of them. They are scoring at a rate of one goal per game, so whenever their defence comes up short -- as it did against Wolves -- they are in trouble. How starved have Arsenal been for goals? Centre-back Gabriel's header in the 30th minute on Sunday is the club's only goal from open play in six Premier League games!
And the problems run deeper at the Emirates, where Arsenal have now failed to keep a clean sheet in eight successive home league games. When you are struggling to score at home, you really need to be tight defensively, but Arsenal were all over the place against Wolves, just as they were in the last game at the Emirates when they lost 3-0 to Aston Villa.
Wolves, who lost Mexican forward Raul Jimenez to a scary head injury following a clash of heads with David Luiz on five minutes, dominated this game and could have scored more than the two they netted through Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence in the first half.
Adama Traore was unfortunate to be booked for diving on 54 minutes when replays suggested the Wolves winger had been caught in the penalty area by Gabriel, the Arsenal goal scorer. Wolves should have been awarded a penalty.
In Arsenal's defence, Wolves are a strong, impressive side under Nuno Espirito Santo, and they will take points off many other leading teams this season. They were smarter and better organised, with centre-half and captain Conor Coady leading vocally from the back.
Arsenal desperately need a figure such as Coady at the heart of their defence -- a defender who can marshal a back four and take charge without guidance from the sideline.
In contrast, Luiz and Gabriel seemed to barely know what the other was doing. Luiz has always been a maverick defender, one who can create more problems than he solves, but he was handed a new contract during the summer, so Arteta must have some belief in him.
The absence of the injured Thomas Partey in midfield did not help Arsenal, with Dani Ceballos taking the Luiz approach by causing problems for his team with needless fouls and arguments with the officials. But this is the Arsenal that Arteta has been in charge of for a year now, and the same old issues keep resurfacing.
He has made a big decision about Mesut Ozil and chosen not to consider the German midfielder and, with inconsistency a major issue with the former Real Madrid playmaker, Arteta cannot be blamed for that call. That said, he desperately needs somebody in his team who can offer similar levels of creativity as Ozil, with greater work ethic, to make Arsenal a more potent attacking outfit and one which can get the most out of Aubameyang.
As it stands, Aubameyang is marooned up front, starved of service and growing increasingly frustrated. Opponents have started to figure out that cutting off the supply line to Aubameyang pretty much nullifies Arsenal's threat.
Arteta has plenty of problems to solve, but finding a solution to that should be the priority because all the other tweaks will mean nothing if Arsenal can't score.