Sad to see T20 World Cup postponed, but grateful for the options

By Sports Desk July 26, 2020

I use my Sundays to look back at what has been happening in the world of sport. On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT 

T20 Cricket World Cup postponed, but still lots of cricket to see

The men’s T20 World Cup, which was scheduled to take place in Australia this year, between October 18th and November 15th, has been postponed due to COVID-19. The International Cricket Council Chief Executive Manu Sawhney said the decision was made with safety in mind and that it would be moved to 2021. 

Initially, the news came as a surprise and I must admit I was disappointed, to an extent, as West Indies are the defending T20 champions and I am always ready for some competitive cricket. Upon weighing the pros and cons of hosting a tournament of this magnitude and prestige, however, the huge risk it would pose due to the extent of planning and caution that would be required became clear.  

I compared it to the ongoing biosecure test in England, which has been smooth so far. It would definitely be more difficult to stage the World Cup than the biosecure tour of England as it would involve gathering 15 other nations with different levels of the coronavirus infection, in Australia, where the state of Victoria was currently under lockdown after a new surge in cases. Victoria was to stage the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. 

Now, with every setback, we can choose to see the positives or dwell on the negatives. The postponement has reshaped the men’s international calendar to accommodate the bilateral series that have been postponed everywhere since March, except in England. 

Despite the loss of this exciting tournament, it has cleared the way for the popular Indian Premier League. The IPL has advanced the 13th edition of the tournament by a week, rescheduling the start date from September 26th to the 19th, with the final set for November 8th in the United Arab Emirates. Sixty matches will be played in fifty-one days. 

India will see in excess of 1200 individuals flying to the UAE once both governments give the nod. However, plans on how to fly the players, staff, and team management to the venue are still being worked out. This is the first time in the history of the tournament that the entire competition has been shifted out of the country and at the last minute. The BCCI and the IPL franchises are busy figuring out the logistics. 

In addition to this venture, Cricket West Indies Chief Executive Johnny Grave confirmed that discussions are ongoing with South Africa officials over a tour to the Caribbean. Grave says the tour is likely to follow the CPL, which ends on September 10.  I am appreciative of the effort being exerted to ensure our male cricketers continue to play the game they love but I do hope the same discussions are being carried out to ensure that our Windies women cricketers are afforded similar opportunities. 

Eagerly anticipating the NBA restart

   I shall not read too much into the scrimmage matches that took place during the week, but it was heart-warming to see the players back on the court, in their gears, doing what they love. The most outstanding part of the restart is the players' commitment to highlighting social justice issues and seeking change. The players have not allowed the issues to be swept under the carpet.  

Last week, LeBron, speaking for nearly 15 minutes, outlined his objection with the term movement in the “Black Lives Matter Movement.” LeBron stressed that being born black is not a movement but instead a lifestyle. In addition, LeBron wrote a message on his shoe with a marker, #justiceforbreonnaT. What resonates with me is that LeBron is not just wearing symbols associated with the injustices meted out to black people but he is using his voice and platform to call on the authorities to make a change. 

Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell believes that inaction is not an option. What happens if they do not continue to prop up issues of racial inequality and police brutality? The conversation could fade into the background. He stressed how sad it was for one to feel unsafe at one's own home.  “It’s near and dear to my heart and painful to see,” Mitchell said. “The fact that an African American woman can’t be safe in her own home is wild, just the concept is wild. The fact that there hasn’t been anything done about it is crazier. ... What are we waiting for?” 

            Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris also put pressure on Kentucky’s AG Daniel Cameron to press charges against the officers and questioned the No Knock warrant. Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, is thanking players from the NBA and WNBA for continuing to keep her daughter’s name alive as she continues to fight for justice.  Keep up the good work on and off the court gentlemen!

Liverpool's 30-year wait well worth it!

The fireworks started at Anfield long before the Premier League trophy was presented to Liverpool at the Kop. Liverpool's 5-3 win against Chelsea was an entertaining finale to their third successive unbeaten Premier League season at Anfield. Liverpool has officially ended their 30-year wait for a Premier League title, beating all odds, even the coronavirus pandemic. 

Liverpool were confirmed as champions on June 25, with seven games to spare, when nearest rivals Manchester City lost at Chelsea, but they had to wait until their final home game of the season to be presented with the trophy. 

It was symbolic that the trophy was handed over by the last manager to win it at Liverpool, Sir Kenny Dalglish. Liverpool throughout the entire season showed they had what it took to be worthy Premier League Champions. 

How Liverpool won the title is the most striking thing for me. The 30-year time span that it took to secure the trophy. The fact that in 2018-2019 they finished one point behind Manchester City. Then came the pandemic in March and Klopp did admit he was concerned about the season being declared null and void during the enforced shutdown. As it turned out, Liverpool's tally of 82 points from 29 games when football was stopped was enough to win the title. Jurgen Klopp re-wrote the history books. A well-deserved victory. Congrats. 

 

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    5 - Bryant won the NBA championship five times with the Lakers, in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.

    2 - He was twice named MVP in the NBA Finals, in 2009 and 2010.

    18 - Bryant was a fixture in the NBA All-Star team, named to that side in 1998 and then each year from 2000 to 2016, the year that he retired. Those 18 appearances put him second on the all-time list, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing in 19 of the games.

    4 - Bryant was four times the NBA All-Star Game MVP, in 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

    1 - He received his lone NBA MVP award for the 2007-08 season, during which he became the youngest player to reach 20,000 career points, at the age of 29 years and 122 days.

    33,643 - He sits fourth on the NBA all-time list of points-scorers with 33,643 from 1,346 games. Only Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and LeBron James are ahead of him on the list.

    35.4 - In the 2005-06 season, Bryant recorded his highest points-per-game average for a single campaign, with 35.4. He led the NBA in scoring in that season and in 2006-07.

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    60  - In his final game, on April 13, 2016, Bryant scored 60 points for the Lakers in a 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz.

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    17 - Bryant was an NBA player of the month 17 times, and 32 times the player of the week.

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    65 points - March 16, 2007 v Portland Trail Blazers

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    61 points - February 2, 2009 v New York Knicks

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    "Tonight was one of the nights he kind of showed why he's going to go down in history," Lakers team-mate Lamar Odom said after the game.

    62 points - December 20, 2005 v Dallas Mavericks

    Three quarters were all that Kobe needed to embarrass the Mavericks. Bryant outscored Dallas 62-61 at the end of the third quarter in Los Angeles as the Lakers eased to a 112-90 victory. The Mavericks were one of the best teams that season, going on to reach the NBA Finals before succumbing to the Miami Heat. However, the Mavericks were schooled by the unstoppable Bryant, who shot 18-of-31 from the field and 22-of-25 from the free-throw line. He sat out the entire fourth quarter.

    "It was just one of those nights," Bryant told reporters as he reflected on the game in 2016. "Yes [I could have scored 80 points that night]. It sounds funny to say, but yes, I could have."

    60 points - April 13, 2016 v Utah Jazz 

    Bryant said farewell to basketball in the only way he knew how, with an exclamation mark. It was a true Hollywood goodbye as Bryant capped an illustrious career by scoring 60 final-game points in a 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Bryant drained 23 points in the fourth quarter, posting his first 50-point game since February 2009.

    "It's hard to believe it happened this way," Bryant, who played 42 minutes and attempted a career-high 50 shots, said. "I'm still shocked about it… The perfect ending would have been a championship. But tonight was [me] trying to go out, play hard and try to put on a show as much as I possibly could. It felt good to be able to do that one last time."

    81 points - January 22, 2006 v Toronto Raptors

    The highlight of a stellar career and the night Bryant threatened to surpass Wilt Chamberlain. Kobe played 1,346 NBA games but he was well and truly in the zone against the Raptors, scoring 81 points - just 19 short of Chamberlain's legendary 100-point outing in 1962. Bryant produced 42 minutes of pure brilliance to lead the Lakers past the Raptors 122-104. It was a display of efficiency as Bryant's outburst featured a 60.9 shooting percentage from the field and 53.8 per cent from beyond the arc.

    "Not even in my dreams," Bryant said. "That was something that just happened. It's tough to explain. It's just one of those things."

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