On this day in sport: Australia caught ball tampering, Gronk calls it a career

By Sports Desk March 24, 2020

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.

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    Brett Favre is not optimistic star quarterback Aaron Rodgers will play for the Green Bay Packers again.

    Rodgers and his future in Green Bay has dominated headlines since the opening day of last week's NFL Draft, with the reigning MVP reportedly unhappy and seeking a Packers exit.

    The Packers have made it clear they are unwilling to trade the 37-year-old three-time MVP and Super Bowl champion.

    Hall of Famer and Packers great Favre spent the majority of his illustrious career in Green Bay, where he led the franchise to the Super Bowl before leaving in 2008, having been replaced by Rodgers.

    "Boy it's a good question; that's the million-dollar question," Favre told ESPN on Wednesday when asked about Rodgers' future.

    "I think I know Aaron fairly well, and honestly I just don't see him coming back and just saying, 'All right, let's just bury the hatchet, whatever caused the rift, and I'm just going to come back and play because I love the guys, I love the Green Bay fans' -- I assume he does -- but his rift isn't with the fans or the players.

    "It's with the front office. Will he just swallow his pride and come in? Maybe. But I don't see that happening.

    "If there's not a trade, my gut tells me that he'd rather sit out than play. That's just my gut. There's no reason for me to say that other than that's what my gut's telling me, and I think you guys know Aaron fairly well enough to sort of feel the same way."

    Rodgers amassed 48 touchdowns, five interceptions and a completion rate of 70.7 per cent for the Packers, who lost to eventual Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game last season.

    His quarterback rating of 121.5 puts him second on the all-time list among qualifiers, behind only his 2011 campaign (122.5).

    In total, Rodgers completed 372 of 526 attempts for 4,299 yards as the Packers topped the NFC North with a 13-3 record to clinch home-field advantage and the top seed in the NFC playoffs for the first time since 2011.

    Rodgers is now level with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown with three MVP honours – only Peyton Manning (five) has more in NFL history.

    "I'd like to see him win a Super Bowl in Green Bay, another one," Favre said. "But the thing is, life's too short, I want him to be happy. He's been there as long as I was there, and I know what that means, and he's put up unbelievable numbers.

    "Win another Super Bowl and then do what you want to do, whether it's keep playing, play somewhere else, whatever. But win one more in Green Bay and go out the way you want to go out.

    "You don't want to go out this way, whether it's sit out or play somewhere else."

  • Chelsea deserved it – Zidane returns Madrid's focus to LaLiga scrap Chelsea deserved it – Zidane returns Madrid's focus to LaLiga scrap

    A gripping LaLiga title race should be all Real Madrid need to pick themselves up from their Champions League semi-final loss to Chelsea, according to Zinedine Zidane.

    Madrid head coach Zidane conceded his team were beaten by the better side after goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount gave Chelsea a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge, sending them through 3-1 on aggregate to an all-English final against Manchester City at the end of this month.

    Los Blancos looked a shadow of the side that won three consecutive European crowns under Zidane between 2016-2018, but the France great insisted he was proud of his players' endeavours on Wednesday.

    Now they face up to a LaLiga battle, where they are level on points with Barcelona and two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with four games remaining. Barca and Atleti face one another this weekend.

    "We have spoken on this many times this season. It has been a year with many injuries, ups and downs, and that’s what we have dealt this year," Zidane told a post-match news conference midweek.

    "Despite it all, we have done good things in this Champions League in order to reach this stage.

    "I think we deserved it and we were only one step from the final, but we have to congratulate this team [Chelsea], who has been better tonight.

    "It doesn't change anything. I am very pleased and very proud and now it is the time to rest and be focused on the last four games in LaLiga."

    Captain Sergio Ramos and Ferland Mendy were passed fit to start for Madrid and struggled to find top gear, although Zidane insisted he had no regrets over the selections.

    "If my players have played it's because they were ready for the 90 minutes," he said.

    "Ramos and Mendy were ready to play, that's why I put them on. It was a semi-final and they were ready."

    Another man recently back to fitness, Eden Hazard, lasted 89 minutes but had minimal impact against his former club.

    After the match, images of Hazard congratulating his old Chelsea team-mates played very badly in Madrid, but Zidane urged patience with the €100million forward.

    "Eden needs to play regularly and get his confidence back," he added. "And you get that slowly and playing games.

    "So, we need to get back Eden and it will be possible playing games."

  • Champions League history-maker Tuchel says sacrifice to join Chelsea 'worth it every single day' Champions League history-maker Tuchel says sacrifice to join Chelsea 'worth it every single day'

    Thomas Tuchel said the sacrifice of leaving his family to take on the challenge of managing Chelsea has been "worth it every single day" after making history by guiding them to the Champions League final.

    The Blues progressed to the final for the third time in their history as a 2-0 win over Real Madrid clinched a 3-1 aggregate victory and a place in the Istanbul showpiece against Premier League rivals Manchester City on May 29.

    In doing so, Tuchel became the first manager in the history of the Champions League and European Cup to reach the final in consecutive seasons with different teams. Tuchel led Paris Saint-Germain to the final last year, only to lose 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

    Chelsea will also contest the FA Cup final against Leicester City on May 15 and hold a three-point lead over fifth-placed West Ham in the race for the Premier League top four.

    Tuchel has lost only two of his 24 games (W16, D6) since taking charge in January and insists he immediately felt right at home at Stamford Bridge.

    "It was worth it every single day so far," Tuchel said of the sacrifice he made.

    "I was part of an amazing club from the first day, I felt huge support from day one. I'm very grateful to be at the sideline of this team."

    Chelsea took a 1-0 lead through Timo Werner's simple 28th-minute header after Kai Havertz had struck the crossbar, but spurned several chances to stretch their lead as Havertz twice went close and Mason Mount and N'Golo Kante wasted opportunities.

    But Mount made the tie safe five minutes from time, becoming the second youngest Englishman to score in the semi-finals of the Champions League – aged 22 years and 15 days – after Wayne Rooney (21 years 182 days).

    "The heads were never down, the heads were always up even after these big chances," added Tuchel.

    "We always stayed positive and we never regret something so it was fantastic. The job is not done yet, we are in two finals now, the sacrifice I personally gave was worth it since day one."

    Chelsea beat Pep Guardiola's City in the FA Cup semi-finals and will face them again in the league on Saturday.

    Tuchel rejected the notion of that victory giving Chelsea the upper hand ahead of the final but said of the Wembley win: "It gives us a good feeling, it gives us confidence.

    "We played that semi-final on the edge and we used it. I said before and I will say it always for me Bayern Munich throughout the last season with Manchester City, they are the benchmark.

    "We wanted to close the gap in this one match, the semi-final, which we did on a very impressive performance and we will need the same level of performance again.

    "It gave us belief, it gave us self-confidence for every game after that because it is the highest level you can face. We have these huge challenges in the Premier League, we have come out of it very, very strong, we showed mentality and quality in all of these matches.

    "We will arrive with self-confidence and with the positive energy in Istanbul. We will arrive in Istanbul to win, not to be one of the participants, we arrive to be focused to win." 

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