Tim Paine backs banned duo of Steve Smith and David Warner to have “huge” impact during the Ashes
CANBERRA: Skipper Tim Paine Monday said he expects the banned Steve Smith and David Warner to play “a huge” role in this year’s Ashes series against England, with Australia now in “a really good place.”After a torrid 12 months marred by the ball-tampering row and poor form without their top stars, Australia ended their summer on a high by emphatically winning two Tests against Sri Lanka.They claimed the first in Brisbane by an innings and 40 runs and the second in Canberra by 366 runs, following a tough home series defeat to top-ranked India.Smith and Warner’s bans for their role in trying to alter the ball in South Africa expire late next month and they are widely expected to quickly return to the national set-up.“I think everyone to a degree has to earn their stripes. I think those two have got plenty of runs in the bank if you like,” Paine said when asked if they could slot straight back in.“Look, I see us going to the Ashes and them having a huge part in us winning the series. That’s how I see how important they are to this team.“We know how good they are and hopefully once their bans are up they’ll be welcomed back and they will win Test matches like they did before.”Without the experienced pair, Australia struggled. But at least they broke a century drought stretching back to October in Canberra, with Joe Burns, Travis Head, Kurtis Patterson and Usman Khawaja all cashing in.Their knocks put them in prime position for the Ashes against an England side reeling from an embarrassing capitulation in the West Indies.Following a 381-run defeat by the hosts in the first Test in Barbados last month, England suffered a 10-wicket thrashing in Antigua on Saturday to lose the three-match series 2-0.
WON BACK RESPECT
With the imminent return of Warner and Smith, there are now question marks over Marcus Harris and number four Marnus Labuschagne.Harris struggled in Canberra on a batting-friendly wicket as fellow opener Burns hit 180, while Labuschagne managed just six and four in his two innings.Khawaja’s snapping of a run drought is widely seen as being enough for him to remain at first drop, with Head’s 161 and 59 not out sealing his place at No. 5.Paine said he has a “fair idea” of what the Ashes team might look like.“What we have seen over this summer is we are starting to build a squad with plenty of depth. There’s probably anywhere between 16 and 25 players we think are now in the mix, which is a really good place to be,” he added.For Paine, heading to England, and as skipper, is something that has been on his mind for months.“I’ve been dreaming about it actually,” he said. “I’m happy now that we’ve got this (Sri Lanka series) out of the way and I can put everything into it because every Australian cricketer can’t wait to go and play an Ashes series, particularly in England.”The ball-tampering scandal, which led to year-long bans for Smith and Warner and nine months in exile for Cameron Bancroft, led to Australia changing its cricketing culture and toning down its aggressive sledging.Paine said he was “really proud of the way we have gone about it.”“We spoke at the start of the summer that our main priority was to win back the respect of our Australian public and cricket fans. Sitting here now, I think we’ve gone a long way to doing that,” he said
Going for goal: Saudi Arabia kicks off first women’s football league
RIYADH: First they opened the grandstands to women, now Saudi Arabia is encouraging them to cross the touchline and compete in the Kingdom’s first Women’s Football League tournament. The historic competition kicks off on Tuesday morning, with 24 teams across Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam competing for a championship cup, and a $133,000 cash prize. The…
RIYADH: First they opened the grandstands to women, now Saudi Arabia is encouraging them to cross the touchline and compete in the Kingdom’s first Women’s Football League tournament.
The historic competition kicks off on Tuesday morning, with 24 teams across Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam competing for a championship cup, and a $133,000 cash prize.
The Kingdom opened its stadiums to women football supporters in January, 2018, but this is the first time they will have been allowed to compete in a tournament.
The competition has been lauded as an important step for the Saudi sports world, with many in the game throwing their support behind the event.
Calling the competition a “positive step,” Abdullah Alyami, Saudi football coach and sports reporter, said he expects many more women to participate in future tournaments.
“This is a very happy day for all athletes, be they male or female. And based on what we’ve seen, and how beloved the sport of football is all over the Kingdom, I believe we will see many more of our sisters getting involved in professional sports,” he said.
عبدالله اليامي: انطلاق #الدوري_النسائي في #السعودية خطوة إيجابية.. وأتوقع إقبالا كبيرا على المشاركة في فرق كرة القدم النسائية#تواصل #قناة_الرسالة@m3sss3 pic.twitter.com/UxRa8pZSWo
— قناة الرسالة (@alresalahnet) November 17, 2020
Saudi sports reporter Riyan Al-Jidani tweeted his support.
“To all my dear sisters participating the Women’s Football League, your success in the tournament is a step in the right direction towards our dream of universality and representing our homeland to the outside world. Raising the flag on the field is a glory and pride,” he said.
The tournament was due to start in March – but the coronavirus pandemic stopped play.
But for some that just presented the opportunity to up their game.
“We started preparations early, and the delay due to the pandemic actually worked in our favor. We were able to take more than two months to prepare for the tournament,” Maram Al-Butairi, general manager and head coach at Dammam-based Eastern Flames FC.
Amal Gimie, 26, an Eritrean midfielder for Jeddah’s Kings United, previously told Arab News that she had been playing the beautiful game since she was eight.
“There was a match every weekend. The boys made us play as goalkeepers in the beginning, and in 2002, when I first saw the Women’s World Cup, it sparked my passion to learn more about this sport,” said Gimie, who is also a management information systems graduate. She joined her first female football team, Challenge, in Riyadh in 2014.
She said: “It was the first time I joined something organized. I was happy to be playing but at the same time I felt as though it was an unreachable goal (to become a professional athlete or join an official league), I felt like I was growing older without achieving anything.”
The matches won’t be broadcast, but Saudi’s army of football fans remain excited by the tournament.
Wejdan Al-Shammary, who grew up playing sports in school, said she would have tried for a team “in a heartbeat” if she had been just a few years younger.
“I played both basketball and football on my high school teams. I was a complete sports nut, but it makes me happy to know that even if it’s too late for me to achieve those dreams, there’s a chance now for young Saudi girls that I never had,” she said.
Najla Ahmed, a 16-year-old from Riyadh who plays on her school’s football team, said she would try for a local team in 2021.
“I’ll be 17, and therefore eligible, and I would love to see anyone try and stop me,” she said.
Both women said they hoped this was just the start and that more sports would be opened up to women.
“Football is just the beginning. I would love to see more focus on other sports, as well. Basketball, tennis, maybe even competitive swimming,” said Al-Shammary. “I’m sure we have so many potential Olympians among us who just need their talents nurtured.”
NFL game postponed over Covid-19 cases
Tennessee Titans’ long snapper Beau Brinkley (left) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (right) have been put on the reserve/Covid-19 listThe NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday has been postponed because of Covid-19 cases.The game will be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday after the outbreak among Titans players and staff.On Tuesday,…
Tennessee Titans’ long snapper Beau Brinkley (left) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (right) have been put on the reserve/Covid-19 listThe NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday has been postponed because of Covid-19 cases.The game will be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday after the outbreak among Titans players and staff.On Tuesday, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson were put on the reserve/Covid-19 list.The NFL has since shut down the team facility.According to the NFL network, a fourth player also returned a positive test on Wednesday.The Titans played the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis last Sunday.The Vikings’ facility was also closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and it is unclear whether their scheduled game with the Houston Texans will take place on Sunday.
Pliskova survives scare at French Open
Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world…
Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world – in a tie-break.The 2017 semi-finalist wrapped up a quick second set against the 24-year-old after winning four games in a row.Pliskova came through a tense decider to claim a 6-7 (9-11) 6-2 6-4 victory.”It was super tough,” she said. “Especially after losing the first set after having set points.”She played a great game, especially in these conditions.”Sherif kept up an impressive level throughout and the pair exchanged breaks at the start of the second set.But Pliskova then won four games in a row, eventually holding serve to level things.The Czech was made to work much harder for the final set as she failed to convert five break points before winning the sixth to go 4-3 up.She held serve and wrapped up the match after two hours and 15 minutes with an ace down the middle.Pliskova, who has never won a Grand Slam, will face Latvian world number 43 Jelena Ostapenko in the second round.Live scores, results and order of playAlerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone