Justin Langer is urging Australia's cricketers to "find some silver living" as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the globe.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced several countries into lockdown, with sporting events across the world postponed or cancelled.

With the cricket calendar usually so relentless, Australia coach Langer - who is still preparing for the Twenty20 World Cup in October - wants his players to take the opportunity to "recharge".

"I'm trying to encourage our players to find some silver lining," he said.

"We identified in South Africa a number of our players were physically and mentally exhausted.

"We had all winter [in England] with the World Cup and the Ashes then into our summer ... it gives them a really good opportunity to recharge.

"We're looking at scenarios to make sure we'll be ready for whatever comes."

Speaking during a video call while in self-isolation, Langer confirmed he would proceed with his original schedule for telling players whether they would be centrally contracted for the 2020-21 season.

"I think we're sticking to the plan of April 2," he said. "Out of respect we'll talk to the players who have been contracted this year and who missed out on a contract."

 

 

 

March 25, 2013 proved a momentous day for Tiger Woods following a rocky few years.

An all-time golf great, Woods' career appeared to be spiralling out of control towards the end of the 2000s.

But he was back at the top of the pile in March 2013, signalling an impressive renaissance.

It was also a notable – albeit controversial – day for Mike Tyson back in 1995, as the infamous boxer was released from prison after being convicted of rape in 1992.

Below, we look at those and the other major events to happen in the sporting world on March 25.

 

1958 - Sugar Ray Robinson claims historic fifth title

The phrase "pound-for-pound" essentially came into being because of Sugar Ray Robinson – a fighter whose performances in the welterweight and middleweight divisions earned him renown. A professional boxer in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Robinson is regarded by many as the greatest of all-time and on this day in 1958 he became the first in history to win a world championship five times when he defeated Carmen Basilio.

1982 - Wayne Gretzky reaches 200 points for season

Wayne Gretzky's influence on ice hockey is unrivalled and he remains comfortably NHL's all-time leading points (goals and assists) scorer in history, with 2,857 – more than 900 clear of his closest challenger Jaromir Jagr. One of his finest accomplishments was becoming the first player to rack up 200 points in a single season during 1981-81, helping Edmonton Oilers to their first NHL title. He reached 200 with an assist early on against Calgary Flames, before adding another three points in that encounter. Gretzky finished the season with 212, 107 more than anyone else on the team.

1995 - Mike Tyson released from jail

After serving less than half of his six-year sentence for rape, Mike Tyson was released on March 25, 1995. He went on to ease through comeback fights against Peter McNeeley and Buster Mathis Jr, with Tyson's management accused of organising "tomato cans" to secure straightforward victories upon his return.

2013 - Tiger Woods regains world no.1 spot

After dominating golf in the 2000s, Woods endured a turbulent period from late 2009. Persistent injury problems, issues in his private life and struggles with a new swing all played a part in Woods dropping to 58th in November 2011. In March 2013, he was back on top thanks to victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, beating Justin Rose by two strokes.

2018 - Steve Smith punished for sandpaper gate

In March 2018, some Australia players were caught out in arguably the most infamous cricketing scandal ever. After admitting involvement in Cameron Bancroft's attempts at ball-tampering with sandpaper, captain Steve Smith was handed a one-match ban and fined 100 per cent of his fee by the International Cricket Council on March 25. That was just the tip of the iceberg, however. Smith and vice-captain David Warner were both banned for a year by Cricket Australia (CA), while Bancroft was given a nine-month suspension for his part in what CA labelled "cheating".

March 24 was a momentous date in the world of cricket, just for all the wrong reasons.

The actions of an opening batsman during a 2018 Test series with South Africa plunged Australian cricket into crisis.

Six years earlier, one of the greatest footballers of the modern generation made Spanish football history.

It is also a date that marked the end of the career of arguably the best tight end to ever play a snap in the NFL.

We look back at the major events that happened on this day in sport.

 

1936: Red Wings outlast Maroons in NHL marathon

Want an easy way to lose weight? Play nearly three full NHL games in one day. 

That's what Detroit Red Wings goaltender Normie Smith and his team-mates did as they defeated the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the first game of the Stanley Cup semi-finals, the longest game in NHL history.

Smith reportedly made 92 saves, losing 12 pounds of body weight in the process, before Mud Bruneteau scored the decisive goal in the sixth overtime period at the Montreal Forum, the game finally coming to a close at 2:25am.

Detroit went on to win their first Stanley Cup. Thankfully, shootouts mean such epics are no longer necessary in today's NHL.

2012: Ronaldo races to LaLiga landmark

Cristiano Ronaldo elevated himself from superstar to candidate for greatest of all time during his glittering career at Real Madrid.

Even in a spell that included four Champions League titles and two LaLiga crowns, his achievement of eight years ago against Real Sociedad ranks among his finest at Los Blancos.

Ronaldo netted twice in a 3-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu, making him the fastest player to reach LaLiga 100 goals.

He reached his century in just 92 games, surpassing the mark set by fellow Madrid great Ferenc Puskas, who did the same in 105 games.

2018: Bancroft caught on camera

Australian cricket was plunged into a ball-tampering scandal on the third day of the third Test with South Africa. 

Footage emerged of Cameron Bancroft rubbing the ball with a yellow object, later revealed to be sandpaper.

His attempts to rough up the ball led to unprecedented sanctions being handed out by Cricket Australia. 

Captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were banned from all forms of domestic and international cricket for 12 months for their roles in the incident.

They were also stood down from the respective leadership roles, with Warner removed from future consideration for such positions. Bancroft, meanwhile, was banned for nine months.

2019: Gronk bows out a champion

Rob Gronkowski became the gold standard at tight end in a career that will surely see him one day enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

However, the well-documented injuries he battled throughout his time in the NFL took their toll and he hung up the cleats after nine seasons in the league.

He went out a champion, however, helping the New England Patriots to their sixth Lombardi Trophy with victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII a month prior to his retirement.

Gronkowski won three Super Bowl rings with New England and, despite retiring before the age of 30, he ended his career widely regarded as the pre-eminent tight end in NFL history.

Jofra Archer wants the issue of online racism to be "addressed properly" after highlighting instances of abuse he has received.

England fast bowler Archer posted screenshots of racist messages to his Instagram story on Monday.

He wrote: "I [have] given a lot of thought about reacting to this and I hope that no one else has to deal with stuff like this on a regular basis, it isn't ever acceptable and should be addressed properly in my opinion.

"I will never understand how people feel so freely to say these things to another human being. It baffles me."

Archer made a sensational breakthrough in international cricket last year, claiming 55 wickets for England across all formats as he starred in their World Cup triumph and 2-2 Ashes series draw with Australia.

This week is not the first time the 24-year-old has spoken out against racism, after he was abused during England's Test match against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui last November.

"A bit disturbing hearing racial insults today while battling to help save my team," Archer wrote on Twitter, having heard the slurs on his way back to the pavilion.

"The crowd has been amazing this week except for that one guy. The Barmy Army was good as usual also."

New Zealand Cricket announced a two-year ban from attending all cricket matches in the country for a 28-year-old man who admitted the offence.

The Pakistan and Bangladesh cricket boards have agreed to postpone April's planned Test and ODI encounters amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bangladesh, who visited Pakistan for Test and Twenty20 matches earlier this year, were due to arrive back in the country on March 29 to complete the final leg of their three-part, multi-format tour.

Those plans are now on hold, with the two boards set to discuss options for rescheduling the second Test that was due to begin in Karachi on April 5.

A standalone ODI had also been scheduled to go ahead in Karachi on April 1.

A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) statement read: "The Pakistan and Bangladesh cricket boards have decided to postpone the upcoming One-Day International and Test in Karachi for a later date.

"The two boards will now work together to identify a future opportunity to complete the ICC World Test Championship commitment."

Pakistan beat the Tigers by an innings and 44 runs in the first Test in Rawalpindi in February.

The unusual fixture arrangements emerged as a compromise after the Bangladesh Cricket Board expressed concerns over security and player safety in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the PCB has also indefinitely postponed the domestic one-day Pakistan Cup tournament, which was scheduled to start on March 25.

The world's leading sporting competitions have been halted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With almost 160,000 confirmed cases of the virus and close to 6,000 deaths, athletes across the globe are waiting to learn when they will return to work.

We take a look at the provisional return dates set out so far.
 

BASKETBALL

The NBA came to a sudden stop when a Utah Jazz player - later revealed to be Rudy Gobert - tested positive on Wednesday, and league commissioner Adam Silver warned the hiatus would "be most likely at least 30 days".

CRICKET

International cricket has been pushed back, but there are no firm dates as things stand for rescheduled matches. England's two-match Test tour of Sri Lanka was called off midway through a warm-up match, while the ODI series between India and South Africa was postponed after the first of three matches was washed out. Australia won an opening ODI against New Zealand behind closed doors, but the remaining two 50-over matches were delayed, along with a three-match Twenty20 series. There is at least a provisional date for the Indian Premier League to belatedly start: April 15, pushed back from March 29.

FOOTBALL

European football is at a standstill, with the Champions League among the elite-level competitions suspended. UEFA is set to meet to discuss the future of that tournament and Euro 2020 this week, while FIFA has advised postponements of upcoming international fixtures, for which clubs are no longer required to release their players. The Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A are all paused at least until April 3 although the Bundesliga has only called off one matchweek as things stand, while Ligue 1 is off "until further notice".

GOLF

The PGA Tour initially announced a three-week suspension, with The Players Championship stopped after its opening round. The Masters - won in 2019 by Tiger Woods - was therefore set to mark the Tour's return on April 9, but organisers soon announced the first major of the year would also be postponed. The RBC Heritage on April 16 is the next scheduled tournament. Organisers are planning "regular status updates in the coming weeks" amid "a very fluid situation that requires constant review, communication, and transparency".

MOTORSPORT

The Formula One season is still to start after races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China were postponed or cancelled. The Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 remains on at this stage, however, while managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn has suggested the calendar could be reshuffled, with races held in August. NASCAR has postponed events in Atlanta and Miami this and next weekend, and all IndyCar Series races through April have been cancelled.

RUGBY

Rugby league has largely been able to continue both in England and in Australia, but the same is not true of rugby union. Six Nations matches were among the first to fall by the wayside amid the crisis in Italy, with the Azzurri seeing matches against both Ireland and England postponed until later in the year. France versus Ireland was off, too, while Scotland's trip to Wales belatedly followed suit. Club action has ground to a halt, with Super Rugby finally paused this weekend and no return imminent.

TENNIS

After Indian Wells and then the Miami Open were cancelled, the ATP Tour announced its suspension up to and including the week of April 20. The WTA Tour preferred to call off individual events, but the schedule is now clear for five weeks. It was still to make a decision on the European clay-court season. The Fed Cup finals and play-offs - set for mid-April - have been pushed back, meanwhile, with the ITF vowing to address any impact the postponement may have on players' eligibility for Tokyo 2020.

OTHERS

Despite chaos surrounding various sports across the globe, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe says the country is still planning for the Olympic Games in Tokyo to go ahead as scheduled in July. The London Marathon and the Boston Marathon will both still go ahead this year, but with revised dates of October 4 and September 14, respectively. The Giro d'Italia will be postponed and a new date for the race will not be announced until at least April 3 when a decree in Italy banning sport ends. The NBA is not the only American competition to be disrupted, meanwhile, with the 2020 MLB season moved back "at least two weeks" from March 26, and the NHL campaign paused indefinitely.

 Joe Root says there is "an element of relief" that England's Test series in Sri Lanka was postponed due to the spread of coronavirus.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Friday it had made the decision to return its players to the United Kingdom after discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket.

England were due to play two Test matches in Sri Lanka, starting in Galle on March 19.

The ECB said the "physical and mental well-being of our players" is its priority and captain Root has backed the call to abandon the tour.

"The right decision has been made," he told Sky Sports. "There was an element of relief. You could see looking at the players that their minds were elsewhere, thinking about people back home.

"Now that we can go and look after families and be with loved ones, that's put a lot of guys at ease." 

England's second warm-up fixture with a SLC Board President's XI was abandoned on Friday when news of the Tour cancellation was announced. 

"Naturally there was a lot of talk in the dressing room and it got to a stage where it overshadowed the cricket," Root said. 

"Looking at how quickly things have happened at home, you're thinking about family and friends who might be a bit more vulnerable and that's hard when you're a long way away. 

"It was clear it was getting in the way of performance and affecting the mental well-being of the guys." 

England's Test tour of Sri Lanka has joined the growing list of sporting events to be postponed due to the spread of coronavirus.

In a statement on Friday, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed it had made the decision to return its players to the United Kingdom following discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket, "due to the COVID-19 pandemic worsening globally".

England were set to play two Test matches in Sri Lanka, starting on March 19 and 27. They completed their first warm-up fixture against a SLC Board President's XI in Katunayake last week and began another game against the same opposition in Colombo on Thursday. Joe Root's side were on the field contesting the latter fixture when the news was announced, but play was soon suspended.

The ECB confirmed its intention to reschedule the Tests against Sri Lanka as soon as possible.

It added: "At this time, the physical and mental wellbeing of our players and support teams is paramount. We will now look to bring them home to their families as soon as possible. These are completely unprecedented times, and decisions like this go beyond cricket.

"We would like to thank our colleagues at Sri Lanka Cricket for their outstanding support and assistance throughout this situation.

"We look forward to returning to Sri Lanka in the very near future to fulfil this important Test series."

Lahiru Thirimanne has been left out of Sri Lanka's squad for the Test series with England.

The opening batsman was part of the squad for Sri Lanka's 1-0 win in Zimbabwe but did not feature in the two-match series.

He has not played in the longest format for his country since August last year against New Zealand.

Kusal Perera takes his place for this two-game series, though a finger injury could keep him out of the first Test.

Wanindu Hasaranga, impressive in recent limited-overs clashes with West Indies, earned a place in the squad as the 16th man.

However, a hamstring injury will prevent him from playing any role in the series. His replacement is expected to be named before the first Test, which starts on March 19 in Galle.

 

Sri Lanka squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya De Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Lasith Embuldeniya, Oshada Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga (injured, replacement to be named before first Test), Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Kusal Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan. 

Jofra Archer is "progressing as expected" as he recovers from a stress fracture in his right elbow and is set to make a return to action for Sussex in May.

The pace bowler suffered the injury during England’s tour of South Africa, featuring in just the first of four Test matches before withdrawing from the Twenty20 series against the Proteas.

In a statement released on its website, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced Archer has undergone a repeat MRI scan and, following a review by the medical team, is focused on being fit for the first Test against West Indies in June.

The 24-year-old, who will again be assessed in April, had hinted at potentially being fit in time to play in the Indian Premier League for the Rajasthan Royals, but will instead make his comeback in the County Championship.

"Following a repeat MRI scan undertaken this week in London, Jofra Archer has been reviewed by the ECB medical team and is progressing as expected from the stress fracture to his right elbow sustained during the South Africa tour in January," the statement read.

"He will have a further scan in mid-April before a return to competitive cricket.

"Archer's focus will be playing for England, starting with the West Indies Test series, which commences in early June.

"He will play County Championship cricket in May for Sussex to ensure his preparation is optimal for Test cricket."

Archer helped England win the Cricket World Cup last year and has played in seven Tests so far in his international career, taking 30 wickets in the longest format at an average of 27.40.

He recently signed a two-year contract extension with Sussex, saying: "I am very happy to commit long term to the club."

England fast bowler Jofra Archer has signed a two-year extension to his Sussex contract.

The 24-year-old, who made his international debut last year, has committed to the county until the end of 2021 season.

Cricket World Cup winner Archer was delighted to agree fresh terms.

"Sussex gave me my opportunity right at the beginning of my career, so I am very happy to commit long term to the club," said the paceman, who signed for Sussex in 2016.

Archer has 55 England wickets across all formats since making his breakthrough at the highest level but is currently sidelined with a low-grade stress fracture of his right elbow. 

Joe Root has revealed England will fist bump rather shake hands during their tour of Sri Lanka due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Illness swept through the England camp during a successful recent tour of South Africa.

Captain Root says they will be taking no chances in Sri Lanka, where they start a two-match Test series in Galle on March 19.

Speaking before England boarded the plane for their latest tour, the batsman said: "After South Africa we are well aware of the importance of keeping contact to a minimum and we've been given some really sound and sensible advice from our medical team to help prevent spreading germs and bacteria.

"We are not shaking hands with each other – using instead the well-established fist bump – and we are washing hands regularly and wiping down surfaces using the antibacterial wipes and gels we've been given in our immunity packs.

"There is no suggestion that the tour will be affected.

"But of course, it is an evolving situation, so we are in regular contact with the authorities and will proceed as advised."

Virat Kohli lamented India's batting after their Test series loss to New Zealand, while paying tribute to the Black Caps.

New Zealand wrapped up a 2-0 series win over India on Monday thanks to a seven-wicket victory in Christchurch.

India struggled with the bat throughout the series, posting scores of 165 and 191 in the first Test in Wellington and 242 and 124 at Hagley Oval.

Kohli praised New Zealand's bowlers and rued his side's batting after their series defeat.

"It was a matter of not having enough intent in the first game and then playing well in the first innings here but then again the small things, small margins," the India captain told Sky Sport.

"When you sit down and look back at this series you have to also give credit to the New Zealand bowlers because they bowled in the right areas for long enough, created a lot of pressure. There were hardly any scoring opportunities so that meant you had to play extravagant shots to get runs rather than just rotating strike and getting runs easily.

"It was a combination of us not quite having the right kind of execution and New Zealand playing really well in their conditions and I think the bowling and the consistency was outstanding and that's something that forced our batting to make those mistakes.

"We're usually a batting side that does show a bit of fight and put up scores on the board, but there was just not enough done by the batsmen in the series for the bowlers to try and attack."

After ripping through the India lower-order to begin day three in Christchurch, New Zealand were untroubled on the way to their target of 132 for victory.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson was happy with his team and said their ability to combine for small but vital partnerships was crucial.

"Outstanding," he said. "Both fairly sporting surfaces where bowlers had to put the ball in the right area, but if you did you created opportunities throughout every day of this game which was surprising. History suggests that it does a bit initially and then flattens out.

"I guess therein lies the value in a lot of those partnerships that we had with the bat, those 30s and 40s that were huge out there on that surface.

"I don't think the end result reflected how perhaps tight that match was because as we saw in both innings the ball going past the outside of the bat and it is such a fine line, but a fantastic series from our side in terms of the balance with the bat and the ball and the way the guys stuck at it.

"As we know, it is a fine line and India are a world-class side, top of the comp [ICC World Test Championship], so a great effort from the guys."

New Zealand wrapped up a 2-0 series victory over India with a seven-wicket win in the second Test in Christchurch on Monday.

India set the Black Caps just 132 to win on day three and the hosts had no troubles reaching their target at Hagley Oval.

After 16 wickets incredibly fell on Sunday, India needed a response to begin day three, but they added just 34 runs after resuming at 90-6.

Tom Latham (52) and Tom Blundell (55) ensured New Zealand cruised through their chase to win the series 2-0.

Hanuma Vihari (9) was the first to go on Monday, caught down the leg side by BJ Watling off Tim Southee (3-36).

India were unable to get anything going, although Ravindra Jadeja did manage an unbeaten 16 off just 22 balls.

Trent Boult (4-28) added the wicket of Rishabh Pant (4) and Southee also removed Mohammed Shami (5) before Jasprit Bumrah (4) was run out.

While India's bowlers caused some initial problems to Latham and Blundell, the openers set up what proved a comfortable chase for the Black Caps.

Latham fell to Umesh Yadav (1-45) and Kane Williamson (5) went off Bumrah, who bowled Blundell to finish with 2-39 before Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls helped New Zealand see out their victory.

New Zealand closed in on victory over India in the second Test after 16 wickets fell on day two in Christchurch on Sunday.

India, who trail the series 1-0, made the better start to the day at Hagley Oval, taking a seven-run first-innings lead after bowling the Black Caps out for 235.

New Zealand had resumed at 63-0 and appearing on track to charge past India's first-innings total of 242.

However, after their fightback, the tourists were reduced to 90-6 at stumps in their second innings, a lead of just 97, as the bowlers dominated.

Trent Boult (3-12) did most of the damage for New Zealand, landing the first blow when he trapped Mayank Agarwal (3) lbw.

A short delivery from Tim Southee (1-20) removed Prithvi Shaw, but India seemed to be steadying through Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli.

But Colin de Grandhomme (1-3) struck the huge blow, getting Kohli lbw for 14 to reduce India to 51-3.

De Grandhomme dropped Ajinkya Rahane on two but it did not hurt the Black Caps, the India batsman bizarrely playing a Neil Wagner (1-18) short ball onto his stumps.

Boult produced a beautiful inswinger to remove Pujara (24) before also bowling Umesh Yadav (1) as New Zealand closed in on victory.

Earlier, Mohammed Shami (4-81) and Jasprit Bumrah (3-62) had helped India fight back after New Zealand's bright start to their first innings.

Tom Latham (52) and Kyle Jamieson (49) top-scored for the Black Caps, while Ravindra Jadeja produced an incredible catch to remove Wagner (21).

Jadeja stuck out a hand as he jumped near the boundary to hold onto a powerful Wagner pull shot.

That moment of brilliance came as India looked on top, but New Zealand's finish to the day has them on track for a 2-0 series win.

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