England and Pakistan were denied valuable T20 World Cup preparation after the first game of their limited-overs series was abandoned due to rain at Headingley on Wednesday.

The umpires took little time to call off the first of a four-match T20I series as the decision was made without a ball being bowled at the ground in Leeds.

England will have to wait to assess the fitness of the returning Jofra Archer, with Pakistan also having no chance to evaluate their players as the only side to still not announce their World Cup squad yet.

Edgbaston will play host to the next meeting on Saturday, with clashes at Cardiff and The Oval to follow before the pair head off to the United States for the T20I tournament in June.

Emma Raducanu will return to action at the Nottingham Open, as she steps up her return to action ahead of Wimbledon.

The 21-year-old withdrew from the French Open after instead choosing to prepare for the grass-court season.

On Wednesday, Raducanu was confirmed as a participant in Nottingham, with the tournament starting on June 8, three weeks prior to the start of Wimbledon.

The former US Open champion has played at the event twice before, but lost to Harriet Dart in 2021 and withdrew due to injury from a match against Viktorija Golubic the following year.

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Elaine Thompson-Herah, the fastest woman alive, is poised to make her highly anticipated season debut in the 100m at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon, on May 25. This event promises to be a thrilling spectacle as Thompson-Herah faces off against reigning world champion ShaCarri Richardson.

Thompson-Herah's return to the Prefontaine Classic holds special significance. In August 2021, at this very meet, she clocked a blistering 10.54 seconds in the 100m, a performance that solidified her status as the fastest woman alive. Only Florence Griffith-Joyner's legendary world record of 10.49 seconds stands ahead of her on the all-time list.

The Prefontaine Classic will see Thompson-Herah and Richardson, two of the most electrifying sprinters in the world, go head-to-head. Richardson, who has already competed in two 200m races this season, will be running her first 100m of the year. This clash is eagerly awaited by athletics fans worldwide, as it brings together the fierce competition and star power of two dominant figures in women's sprinting.

Thompson-Herah's season opener at the Prefontaine Classic is just the beginning of what promises to be an exciting year. She is scheduled to run her second 100m of the season at the Grenada Invitational on June 6, at the Kirani James Stadium in Grenada. This continuous competition will help her build momentum as she eyes further successes and potentially more record-breaking performances.

The Eugene meet is set to be a highlight of the Diamond League series, with Thompson-Herah's participation adding to the event's prestige. Her remarkable career, highlighted by her Olympic triumphs and her record-setting performances, continues to inspire and captivate the athletics world. As she lines up against ShaCarri Richardson, all eyes will be on this epic showdown, anticipating another memorable chapter in the storied careers of these two sprinting superstars.

Reported Chelsea target Thomas Frank is in no rush to leave Brentford, saying "the grass is not always greener" for managers who choose to jump ship.

Chelsea are hunting their fourth permanent boss under the Todd Boehly regime, having surprisingly parted ways with Mauricio Pochettino by mutual consent on Tuesday.  

With the Blues reportedly looking for a dynamic young coach capable of working within their existing set-up, Ipswich Town's Kieran McKenna and Bees boss Frank have been touted as possible successors.

Brentford's finish of 16th in 2023-24 was their worst since Frank led them to the Premier League in 2021, but they remained comfortably clear of the drop zone despite battling a lengthy injury list and seeing Ivan Toney suspended for the first half of the season.

Across their three seasons in the Premier League, Brentford rank ninth for expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes (1.44) and eighth for expected goals against (xGA) per 90 (1.38).

While Frank has refused to rule out a move after almost six years as Brentford's head coach, he is not actively searching for a new job.  

"I will probably be on that touchline on August 17," Frank told The Athletic. "I think that will happen. I'm happy here. I've said it many times and I mean it. 

"It's close to the perfect football life. I'm not in any rush or searching to do something else but I also think I've learned in life I'm open for what can happen.

"I can see myself being here for a long period. Can I stay here for seven more years? I don't know and that's not that I don’t love Brentford, it's just, do I want to try something different? 

"I'm very aware the grass is not always greener in the garden next door, even if it looks like it. You get in there, take a closer look and see there are a lot of weeds in the grass."

Brentford have already seen set-piece coach Bernardo Cueva agree to join Chelsea, and reports have suggested the Blues' hierarchy were unimpressed with how Pochettino's staff dealt with dead balls.

Brentford ranked second for xG from set-pieces in the Premier League this season (15.7) and allowed opponents the third lowest xGA figure from such situations (8.6), behind only Arsenal and Manchester City.

Newcastle United overcame Tottenham on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Wednesday's controversial friendly in Melbourne, just three days after the end of the Premier League season.

A crowd of 78,419 packed into Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch two of the Premier League's top seven face off in a post-season game which had been criticised on player welfare grounds. 

James Maddison celebrated being named in England's preliminary Euro 2024 squad by firing home Spurs' opener after 32 minutes, before his Three Lions team-mate Kieran Tripper was substituted after just 36 minutes.

Alexander Isak levelled from close range on the stroke of half-time, and the game went straight to spot-kicks after neither team was able to force a second-half winner. 

Bryan Gil was denied by Mark Gillespie from Tottenham's first kick, with the nine subsequent attempts all successful as the Magpies triumphed 5-4.

After the game, Newcastle boss Howe moved to allay fears over Trippier's condition, saying his withdrawal was planned.

"We spoke with Kieran and thought the best thing to do was for him to start the game," Howe said.

"He's still in the early stages of recovery from his calf problem, we didn't want to take risks with him so half an hour was the aim. No injury there."  

Ange Postecoglou, meanwhile, immediately turned his attentions towards the transfer window after failing to oversee a win in his native Australia.

"Last year, it certainly benefited us having a couple in early and having all the whole squad for pre-season," he said. 

"Everyone wants to do business early, everyone is keen to bring players in but the reality of it is it usually takes a little bit of time.

"But the good thing for us is we know what we need to do, we've had the plan in place for quite a while and it's just about now going through that process." 

Investment fund Oaktree Capital Management has taken ownership of Serie A champions Inter after a missed €395million payment from the club's majority shareholder.

Granted by Oaktree in 2021 to the Luxembourg-based vehicle through which Chinese conglomerate Suning 002024.SZ controlled Inter, the loan was guaranteed by a stake in the club.

That gave Oaktree, which specialises in providing rescue funding to struggling firms, the potential right to take control of the club in the event of a default.

"Oaktree is committed to working closely with Inter's current management team, partners, the league and governing bodies to ensure the club is positioned for success on and off the pitch," it said in a statement.

A person close to the matter said Oaktree, which has only limited previous involvement in sports franchises, was not planning to sell Inter immediately and was prepared to be a "patient investor."

The upheaval off the field contrasts with the club's success on it, with Inter having last month secured their 20th Serie A league title and the second under Suning's ownership.

There was no immediate comment from Suning, which bought a majority stake in the club in 2016 in one of the highest-profile forays by a Chinese business into European soccer.

Since then, Chinese authorities have imposed curbs over overseas spending in sport and Suning has been hit by the COVID-19 downturn.

That prompted Suning three years ago to get a €275m emergency financing package from Oaktree, which helped Inter to weather the pandemic crisis.

In a letter to fans published on the club's website on Saturday, Inter chairman Steven Zhang, the son of Suning's founder Zhang Jindong, warned the club's stability was at risk as attempts to find an agreement with Oaktree had failed.

Oaktree's move mirrors the takeover of Inter's rivals Milan by U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management in 2018.

Elliott took control of Milan after Chinese businessman Li Yonghong missed a payment to the club.

Andy Murray is a "gladiator" and his love for tennis means he could yet prolong his career, according to former world number eight Diego Schwartzman.

Murray has endured a difficult few years with injuries, undergoing surgery on both hips in 2018 and 2019.

The three-time major champion has repeatedly said he is approaching the end of his career, revealing in February that he does not "plan on playing much past this summer".

Murray is currently preparing for what will likely be his final appearance at the French Open, having sat out five of the last six tournaments at Roland-Garros.

Schwartzman, however, feels Murray's love for the game could lead to him playing on for longer than anticipated.  

"His life is tennis and I think he enjoys it. I think this is his legacy," Schwartzman – who won his only tour-level meeting with Murray in Antwerp in 2021 – told Stats Perform.

"No matter what you do, your age or how you are doing, if you really love the sport and you love what you do, you can do it and you can push hard for as many years and as many tournaments as you want.

"He's a fighter, a gladiator, and he's been doing the same since he was very young, and for us also, sharing tournaments and sharing moments, he has the passion out there. 

"So, it's good to see these kinds of guys because tennis always needs guys who love the sport, and this is the one for sure."

Murray would surely have added to his one US Open title and two Wimbledon crowns if not for the presence of the 'big three' of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. The Scot has lost five grand slam finals to Djokovic and one to Federer. 

Schwartzman says the importance of preparation is the main thing he learned from being on tour with those three greats, though he refused to say who was the greatest of all time. 

"I know them very well, playing them on court, outside of the court," the Argentine added. "The good thing for me and many guys who share the tournaments with them is how differently they prepare the tournaments.

"How differently they do things with food, with practice, with everything. It's crazy.

"I think, okay, 'in one small way he's the best to do this side of the game', and then the other one is the best [at another aspect], so it's not my thing, who the GOAT is."

United States all-rounder Harmeet Singh declared the team will not be "walkovers" at the T20 World Cup, having scored a huge upset over Bangladesh on Tuesday.

The USA, who sit 19th in the T20 world rankings and will co-host next month's World Cup alongside West Indies, chased down a target of 154 for a five-wicket win in the first of four warm-up matches in Dallas.

Harmeet was named man of the match after teaming up with Corey Anderson to get USA over the line with three balls to play, smashing 33 runs off 13 deliveries.

Speaking after the win, Harmeet said the USA had sent out a message ahead of their home campaign, which begins against Canada on June 2.

"You don't always get an opportunity to win a game against a big side like this every day," Harmeet said. 

"The way the boys have been training, it is a personal effort from everybody. It means a lot to us to put on a show against Bangladesh. 

"We are no walkovers. I think our potential is immense. We have a lot of match-winners in the team. It gives us the edge. We bat as well now.

"I told the guys before the game that Bangladesh are a good team on paper, but if we go down without a fight, it won't send a good message."

Harmeet also thought Bangladesh may have taken their hosts lightly, particularly when choosing the wrong end for Mustafizur Rahman to bowl from and giving the USA's batters the advantage of high winds against other bowlers.

Mustafizur conceded 32 runs within the space of two overs before changing ends. 

"When I saw him bowl from the other end, with the wind, I thought we had a chance to sneak in a 20-run over from the other side," Harmeet said. 

"I think either they took us lightly or I don't know, they didn't have bowlers to bowl with from the other side."

Beatriz Haddad Maia and Madison Keys have both progressed to the quarter-finals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

American Keys, seeded fourth, surged clear of China’s Wang Xinyu in a dominant second set to prevail 7-5 6-0, only being broken once in the match.

Haddad Maia, meanwhile, fought back from losing the first three games to defeat Emma Navarro 6-4 7-6 (7-1) in a keenly contested battle.

Second seed Haddad Maia will face Liudmila Samsonova in the last eight, while Keys will take on either Ekaterina Alexandrova or Magda Linette at the WTA 500 event.

Top seed Marketa Vondrousova and two-time tournament winner Elina Svitolina are among the other players due to play later on Wednesday.

Data Debrief: Haddad Maia shows resilience

The battling win for Haddad Maia lasted two hours and 16 minutes, with Navarro pushing the Brazilian all the way.

Navarro forced 17 break points on Haddad Maia’s serve across the two sets and converted six of them, but still fell to defeat.

Haddad Maia now leads the head-to-head against Navarro 2-1, having also beaten her at the Madrid Open last month as part of her run to the last eight in Spain.

As teams for the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup begin arriving in the Caribbean and the USA for their final preparations, the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) has thrown its full support behind the West Indies T20 cricket team. The tournament, set to bowl off on June 1, marks a significant moment in cricket history, coming on the heels of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to include cricket in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Cricket fans across the Caribbean and the USA are eagerly anticipating the T20 World Cup, hopeful for a strong showing from the West Indies cricket team. CANOC President Keith Joseph emphasized the importance of rallying behind the team, stating, “Let’s put all of our energies in rallying around the West Indies.”

Joseph highlighted the historic significance of this World Cup, noting its unique timing post the IOC's decision. “This year’s edition of the Cricket World Cup holds a special place in the history of the sport, if only because it comes after the decision of the IOC to agree to the request by the organizers of the Summer Olympics of 2028 to include cricket on the sports programme,” he remarked.

The 2028 Olympic Games will feature cricket, but only teams entered by their respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs) will be eligible to participate. This excludes a unified West Indies team, as there is no West Indies Olympic Committee. Joseph acknowledged this challenge, drawing a parallel to the era of the West Indies Federation (1958-1962), which had unified participation in various sports.

To address this, the ICC, Cricket West Indies, and CANOC have been in discussions with PanAm Sports and Centro Caribe Sports about including cricket in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games and the Pan American Games of 2026 and 2027, respectively. Further discussions are planned with the organizers of the South American, Central American, and Caribbean Games to consider cricket's inclusion in their sports programs.

Joseph urged cricket associations around the Caribbean to join their respective NOCs. He stated, “Our NOCs and cricket associations must work together to get it right.” While recognizing the challenges and increased expenses, he emphasized the significant opportunities. “There are immeasurable opportunities that would be open to those with whom the initiative would find favour,” Joseph added.

Cricket has deep roots in the Caribbean, having been brought by colonizers and mastered by the region’s youth to achieve global excellence. Joseph called for the region to embrace this new era, saying, “Participation in multisport Games is another frontier whose barriers to inclusion have been broken by the organisers of LA2028 and which we in the Caribbean must all embrace.”

An important starting point for this new era is the strong support for the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup. Regardless of the tournament's outcome, the collective energy and unity behind the West Indies team are crucial. Joseph concluded, “Let’s take the next compulsory steps to build the individual teams that will want to participate in LA2028.”

As the T20 World Cup unfolds, the Caribbean community stands united, cheering for their team and looking forward to a bright future in cricket, both in regional competitions and on the Olympic stage. CANOC's support for the West Indies T20 team is not just about this World Cup but about embracing a future where Caribbean cricket can shine in every international arena.

 

 

 

 

Arne Slot should block out any noise around trying to catch Manchester City and instead set his sights on compiling 90 points in his first season in charge of Liverpool.

That is the view of former Liverpool goalkeeper David James, who believes securing Champions League football should be seen as the minimum requirement for former Feyenoord boss Slot, who is replacing Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.

While Klopp lifted the EFL Cup in his final campaign as manager, James feels it is very difficult for Premier League teams to set any targets relating to any silverware due to the consistent dominance of City under Pep Guardiola.

City have won an unprecedented four straight Premier League titles and will face rivals Manchester United this weekend at Wembley in an attempt to win back-to-back FA Cup crowns. Guardiola also has four EFL Cup trophies to his name.

James feels Slot should therefore focus only on what he can control and believes 90 points is an aspirational target that will at least put the Reds in contention.

Liverpool made it to 82 points in 2023-24, which saw them finish nine behind Man City and seven adrift of second-placed Arsenal.

That tally was comfortably enough to seal a return to the Champions League for next season, a status which James says Slot must ensure he maintains.

"As we have seen under Jurgen Klopp, the fantastic manager, there are teams around in the Premier League who don't really care what you think you want to do, namely Manchester City," James said to Stats Perform when asked what Slot's minimum target should be.

"There could invariably be a situation where whatever it is, such as if Pep decides it is his last season, then it might be fairytale stuff again, that he goes for the quadruple and he does it.

"Then it doesn't matter [what your targets are], no one wins anything domestically. 

"The minimum requirement, which Pep can't stop you from doing, has to be qualifying for the Champions League of course. But beyond that, I think it's just getting the performances. 

"If you get 90 points, and I know this has happened to Liverpool and they have got records to prove it, but if you get 90 points or even more and still don't win the league, then it's not down to you doing something wrong, it's down to the excellence of whoever finishes above you. 

"I would say minimum Champions League qualification and then just going for 90 points and see where it takes you. As I say, 90 points is the benchmark in the Premier League.

"You know, it isn't that difficult to achieve when you think about it. You can literally lose to the four best teams, again subjectively, four best teams, home and away, and as long as you beat the others, the other 30 games, that's 90 points.

"Who cares [which teams you beat]? You don't get an extra three points for beating the teams above you. It's just winning."

James expects to see plenty of movement in the transfer window now that there have been substantial changes to the staff, but says Slot and his coaching team may not always get their own way.

He added: "I do [expect a lot of movement]. There are a couple of things to say. The analysis department will have their numbers, they'll know who they need to keep, they'll know who they need to replace and obviously they'll know who they need or want to bring in. 

"This wasn't just about Jurgen leaving, this was the whole staff going. This is a massive shift, and everybody [left at the club] has their opinion [on the squad], even the analysis guys.

"[Those opinions] might encourage or discourage the manager from making choices, whether it's selection choices in games or whether it's selection choices for transfers. 

"The conversation with Slot will be a whole room of [new] opinions added to a data analysis group [trying] to find replacements because some of the players are leaving. 

"With transfers I think it will cause a little bit of a ruffle. It will be done for the right reasons but I don't think there'll be a situation where Slot will just bring the ones he likes in. 

"It will be a group decision with the analysis department. It will need to be the right players and, as Liverpool have proven under Jurgen's tenure, when they get it right, they are very successful."

"When I see someone win from a Caribbean island, I feel like I win, too." These words from Trinidadian sprinter Jereem Richards resonate deeply within the Caribbean athletic community, where a shared sense of pride transcends national boundaries.

As Richards gears up for Paris 2024, he reflects on his journey, the unity among Caribbean athletes, and his dream of Olympic success in an exclusive interview with World Athletics Inside Track.

Richards, a 30-year-old multiple global medallist, has become a beacon of inspiration for many. He clinched 400m gold at the 2022 World Indoor Championships in Belgrade and was an integral part of Trinidad and Tobago’s triumphant 4x400m relay team at the 2017 World Championships in London. However, his achievements extend beyond medals; they embody the spirit and resilience of the Caribbean.

"I would say Trinidad and Tobago is a melting pot of the Caribbean. We have very diverse people and a mixture of cultures when it comes to food, music, and everything like that. It’s definitely a really great country," Richards said, highlighting the vibrant cultural tapestry that shapes his identity and fuels his passion for track and field.

For Richards, track and field is more than a sport—it is a vital part of Trinidad and Tobago's history. "Track and field, to me, means a lot. To Trinidad and Tobago, it is definitely one of the most successful sports in our history. I try my best to use my platform to not just educate people about the sport, but to keep the people of Trinidad and Tobago interested in track and field," he explained.

The sense of collective pride among Caribbean athletes is profound. "When I see someone win from a Caribbean island, I feel like I win, too," Richards reiterated, emphasizing the unique bond that links the Caribbean nations in their athletic endeavors.

As Paris 2024 approaches, Richards remains focused on his lifelong dream. "This has been my dream, to be an Olympic medallist, from the first day I started running track and field," he said. "I’m just excited to go through the cycle this year and see how it turns out in Paris. I think my entire life journey builds up to this moment."

Richards also shared valuable advice for young athletes. "Try to find the good in each and every situation. Even if things don’t go your way, there’s going to be some part of that bad situation that has good in it. And even if you can’t find the good in it, use it as an example of what not to do or as motivation moving forward."

As he prepares for the upcoming Olympic cycle, Richards' journey stands as a testament to the power of perseverance and the unifying force of sports. His story inspires not only his fellow Trinidadians but also the entire Caribbean, as they collectively dream of Olympic glory in Paris 2024.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florian Wirtz will stay at Bayer Leverkusen next season despite interest from Europe's elite clubs, says Die Werkself's managing director Simon Rolfes.

Wirtz has been in irresistible form throughout Xabi Alonso's first full season at the BayArena, which could yet end with an unbeaten treble.

Leverkusen won 28 of their 34 games as they became the first team to go unbeaten through a Bundesliga campaign, and they face a pair of finals this week – against Atalanta in the Europa League and Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal.

Wirtz was named Bundesliga Player of the Year earlier this week, having scored 11 goals and provided 11 assists throughout the campaign. He has also been involved in eight goals (four goals, four assists) and created 28 chances from open play in the Europa League this term.

That form has reportedly put the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Manchester United on alert, but Leverkusen are not entertaining a sale.

"He will stay. His father and agent said it before. He has a contract here and he's really happy," Rolfes told Sky Sports.

"This is the right place for him to develop as a player and person. His future is bright, that's for sure. He is such a good player and shows a great will to win and to work. 

"It's not normally the attribute of a number 10 but he combines talent with the work rate of a six or a defensive player along with producing special magic moments."

When Bayern Munich last failed to win the Bundesliga title in 2012, they responded by raiding rivals Borussia Dortmund for the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze and Mats Hummels over the next few years.

Asked if Leverkusen had any concerns about that happening to them, Rolfes said: "For sure 10, 15 or 20 years ago that was a normal thing but things are changing. The European environment has changed a lot. 

"It's an international market now with the Premier League, and clubs in Spain, Italy and France as well."

Bayern were, alongside Liverpool, unsuccessful in attempting to lure Alonso away from Westphalia, and Rolfes says he was always convinced the Spaniard would stay.

"Maybe that was a little more special but I'm always convinced you have to concentrate on your strengths," he said. 

"I was convinced we could offer a lot to him and our players with other interest in them. That's why I was always calm."

 

Teenage Liverpool forward Ben Doak has been included in Scotland's 28-man preliminary squad for Euro 2024, with Stuart Armstrong and Che Adams also in despite fitness concerns.

Doak has never previously been called up to Scotland's senior squad, having won seven caps at under-21 level.

The 18-year-old made five appearances for Liverpool in all competitions in 2023-24, including four starts, and could now make his senior international debut when Steve Clarke's side face Gibraltar and Finland in pre-tournament friendlies next month.

Clarke must then cut two of the 28 players he has selected ahead of Scotland's trip to Germany, who they face in the opening game of the tournament on June 14.

Elsewhere, Southampton duo Armstrong and Adams have been included despite fitness concerns, with the former being sidelined by a muscle injury since late April and the latter missing both legs of their Championship play-off semi-final tie against West Brom.

Forty-one-year-old goalkeeper Craig Gordon is included after returning to the fold earlier this year, but Clarke has something of a selection dilemma at right wing-back.

With Aaron Hickey and Ryan Patterson both out injured, uncapped Bristol City man Ross McCrorie has made the cut, while Celtic's James Forrest has been discussed as an option in that role after finishing the Scottish Premiership season in fine form.

Scotland have never reached the knockout stages in four previous appearances at the Euros, only recording two wins in nine total matches at the tournament and failing to score in six of those games.

However, Clarke's side qualified in style from a difficult group headlined by Spain, their five wins representing their best ever tally in an eight-game campaign. 

Full 28-man squad: Angus Gunn (Norwich City), Zander Clark (Hearts), Craig Gordon (Hearts), Liam Kelly (Motherwell), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Kieran Tierney (Real Sociedad), Jack Hendry (Al-Ettifaq), Ryan Porteous (Watford), Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Scott McKenna (Copenhagen), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Greg Taylor (Celtic), John Souttar (Rangers), Anthony Ralston (Celtic), Ross McCrorie (Bristol City), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Ryan Christie (Bournemouth), Billy Gilmour (Brighton and Hove Albion), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Jack (Rangers), Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers), Che Adams (Southampton), Lawrence Shankland (Hearts), Ben Doak (Liverpool), James Forrest (Celtic).

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