England suffer embarrassing defeat in West Indies Test Series

Joe Root’s side looks set to suffer their first whitewash against the West Indies since 1986.

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The West Indies have achieved their first Test series win against England since 2009 by securing a second Test victory in Antigua to put the score at an insurmountable 2-0 with only one Test remaining. England will be hoping that they can avoid further embarrassment and not suffer a whitewash by winning the final Test in St Lucia.

The opening test took place at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, a ground where Hanif Mohammad became the first Pakistani batsman to score a triple hundred, hitting 337 runs back in 1958, the eighth-highest score in a single Test innings ever. 

England failed to achieve that figure of 337 runs in total over both innings, reaching a dismal 323 all told. Captain Joe Root’s side fell to a 381 run defeat, the seventh-heaviest Test defeat England have ever suffered, with West Indies off-spinner Roston Chase taking an impressive eight wickets for 60 runs. 

It could be said that the Test was lost after England’s first innings. 77 was all Root’s side could muster, not due to world-class bowling but due to horrendous batting. Burns, Root, Stokes, Ali, Buttler, and Foakes all fell for four or less. 

After the West Indies declared in their second innings 627 runs ahead, England would need to smash the current fourth innings chase record of 418 set by the West Indies in 2003. When Root fell, the score was 167-4 and all was not lost yet, there was still a glimmer of hope for a comeback.

Sadly though the final six wickets were lost for 34 runs in another shambles of a batting performance. After the loss Root said: “we have played way below our potential. We have to remember that there are still two games left in this series and we have to come back very strong very quickly and learn a few lessons.”

“At no point will we underestimate these guys, we haven’t so far. It just shows how difficult it is to win away from home. There are some guys that are hurting. It doesn’t make us a bad side overnight. It’s about picking ourselves up very quickly. We’ve got to learn very quickly.”

Root’s sentiment was echoed by coach Trevor Bayliss and the England side was hoping to bounce back in the second Test taking place at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. The stadium holds the unsavoury nickname of ‘Antigua’s 366th beach’ due to a Test match against England in 2009 being abandoned after just ten balls.

The groundsmen decided to apply an extra layer of sand after heavy rain in Antigua. The extra sand meant that the West Indies bowlers at the time, Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards, were unable to gain a foothold when running in, making bowling near impossible. 

The incident was an embarrassment for West Indies cricket as the ground was suspended from international cricket for 12 months. England were surely hoping for something similar to happen during their Test, however, the only embarrassment here was the batting performance put forward by Root’s side.

They failed to even reach the run total of the first Test, achieving just 319 over both innings. Going into the West Indies’ second innings they only had to chase 14 runs to win the Test and the series.

As if the run total enough wasn’t enough to put England cricket fans into hiding, the fact that Darren Bravo batted for longer than the whole of England’s second innings should do it. Bravo batted for 342 minutes and hit 50 off 216, the third slowest fifty in Test history. England on the other hand batted for 211 minutes, clearly failing to learn from the mistakes of the first test.

Joe Root seemed a bit more resigned with his remarks after the Test: “we’ve been outperformed once again and that’s quite hard to take. Scoring under 200 isn’t going to win you many games of cricket.”

“West Indies know these conditions well and they’ve exploited them to their advantage. They’ve played some really good stuff at times and made it very difficult. They’re fully deserving of winning the series.”

The final Test takes place at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in Saint Lucia, named after the fast-medium bowler who captained West Indies to back-to-back ICC World Twenty20 titles in 2012 and 2016. 

If the West Indies manage to beat the English, which is not a stretch of the imagination by any means, it will be their first whitewashing against England on home soil since 1986. The sides in ’86 featured such great names as Graham Gooch, Allan Lamb and Ian Botham for England and the same Viv Richards for the West Indies whose named ground Root’s side lost at days ago.

With just one Test left before the Ashes, England really needs to put on a show if they want any hope of regaining the trophy they lost so comprehensively last time around. The final test starts on the 9th February and will finish, barring another England collapse, on the 13th February.

New England Patriots to face Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII

Brady will be looking to win his sixth Super Bowl ring against the Rams.

The New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 37-31 in overtime to reach a third successive Super Bowl. Elsewhere the Los Angeles Rams won in overtime 26-23 against the New Orleans Saints to reach their fourth-ever Super Bowl.

This isn’t the first time that these two teams have met at the Super Bowl. Back in 2001, the two sides met at Super Bowl XXXVI, although the LA Rams were playing in St. Louis at the time. The game ended 20-17 to the Patriots, led by second-year quarterback Tom Brady who was named MVP, and was the first in the franchise’s history. 

That game marked the start of the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady partnership that has since seen 8 more Super Bowl appearances and 4 more victories. Both Belichick and Brady are considered amongst the greatest coaches and quarterbacks in NFL history. Their Patriots have a winning or tied record against every team in the NFL. 

Back in 2019, this was the first time in the Super Bowl era that both the AFC and NFC Championship games have gone to overtime. In the AFC Championship the Patriots, who were appearing in their eighth straight Championship game, were dominant in the first two quarters, going into half time 14-0 up. 

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw touchdown passes to Travis Kelce and Damien Williams to take the score to 17-14 Patriots going into the final quarter of the game. An incredible 38 points were scored in the fourth quarter with the lead moving to the Chiefs then back to the Patriots before Mahomes managed to get within field goal range with just 32 seconds left to send it to overtime. 

Sadly it wasn’t to be for the Chiefs as the Patriots won with a touchdown from the only possession of overtime. After the game, Brady said: “We knew it was going to be tough. Kansas are explosive and they have been beating teams here all year. It was awesome, what a game.”

Elsewhere in the NFC Championship game, the Los Angeles Rams were behind for the entirety of the game, only pulling level with a field goal to force overtime. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals throughout the game with the last the game winner.

The game was not without its controversy though as the New Orleans Saints were denied an obvious pass interference penalty that would have presented a fantastic opportunity to score a game-winning touchdown. The Saints were well inside the Rams half late in the fourth quarter with the score tied.

The football was thrown to receiver TommyLee Lewis who was taken out by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman well before the ball arrived. The referees should have called for pass interference but no penalty was given. 

The head coach of the Saints Sean Payton said: “It’s tough to get over it. It was as obvious a call (as could be) and how two guys can look at that and come up and arrive with their decision, I don’t know. It happened though, so we can’t dwell on it. We’ll probably never get over it.”

With the AFC and NFC Championships over, all eyes now turn to Super Bowl LIII. It will be hosted at the Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta and will be the third Super Bowl hosted in the city, the two others being XXVIII in 1994 and XXXIV in 2000, the latter of which saw the Rams, then in St. Louis, win their first Super Bowl.

The Patriots will be playing in their third consecutive final, becoming only the third franchise to achieve the feat. The other teams were a Buffalo Bills side that played in four consecutive Super Bowls from XXV to XXVIII losing all four and the Miami Dolphins in three consecutive Super Bowls from VI to VIII, winning twice.

This game also sees record age differences between both the coaches and the quarterbacks. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is 33 years older than the Rams’ Sean McVay, and Brady is 17 years older than Jared Goff.

With Brady looking to win his sixth ring, Super Bowl LIII is set to be a thriller. The game will take place on Sunday, February 3rd with BBC coverage starting from 11:30pm. 

Search called off after Cardiff City signing Emiliano Sala’s plane disappearance

“We were looking forward to providing Emiliano with the next step in his life and career”

At 15:15 on 24th January 2019, Guernsey Police announced that they had called off the search for missing Cardiff City signing Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson after failing to find any sign.

Harbourmaster Captain David Barker said that the chance of finding the pair alive at this point was “extremely remote”. “We reviewed all the information available to us, as well as knowing what emergency equipment was on board, and have taken the difficult decision to end the search.”

He added: “I understand Emiliano Sala’s family are not content with the decision to stop the search and I fully understand that. I’m absolutely confident that we couldn’t have done any more.”

“Despite best efforts of air and search assets from the Channel Islands, UK, and France, we have been unable to find any trace of the aircraft, the pilot, or the passenger.”

The 28-year-old Argentine striker became Cardiff City’s record signing, joining from Ligue 1 club Nantes for a £15 million fee. He was enjoying a phenomenal season in the French league scoring 12 goals, just one less than Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar. 

After the signing was completed he returned to Nantes to say a final goodbye to his teammates, who he had played with for three-and-a-half seasons. It was on this return leg back to Cardiff that the plane disappeared from the radars. 

Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan gave a short statement about the events, saying: “We were looking forward to providing Emiliano with the next step in his life and career. Those who met Emiliano described a good-natured and humble young man who was eager to impress in the Premier League.”

“The response from the football community has been truly touching and we place on record our sincere thanks to those who have sent messages of support. We also thank everyone involved with the search and rescue operation, and continue to pray for Emiliano, David Ibbotson and their families.”

Judd Trump beats Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-4 to win his first Masters title at Alexandra Palace

“I was getting sick of losing and watching other players winning all the titles on TV.”

Judd Trump pulled off a convincing victory in the final of the Masters against Ronnie O’Sullivan. The match was expected to be closely fought between two of the biggest snooker players however Trump played magnificently in the first session creating a lead that was too much for the seven-time champion O’Sullivan.

Trump had not won a Triple Crown (World Championships, UK Championship, and the Masters) event in eight years since the UK Championships in 2011, but his performance would have you believe it was only a few months. He took a commanding 4-0 lead in the first session, with O’Sullivan picking up just 45 points. 

The 43-year-old O’Sullivan managed to take the next frame but could not get any more of a foothold in the session and it ended 7-1 to Trump. With the match a ‘best of 19 frames’ format, O’Sullivan would need to achieve a 9-2 or better scoreline in the evening session to win.

Whilst this may seem an insurmountable task, it has been seen in a Masters final before. Back in 1991 the defending champion Stephen Hendry came up against Mike Hallett and was expected to seal a quick and simple victory. Hendry, to the surprise of everyone except perhaps Hallet, went down 7-0, then 8-2. 

With this iteration of the tournament a ‘best of 17 frames’ format, Hallet needed just one more frame to take his first Triple Crown title. Hendry proved to be far from beaten though and, in what has been called one of the greatest finals in snooker history, he won 7 straight frames to successfully defend his Masters title. Hallett later said, “it took me about six months to get over it, I was totally crushed.”

Sadly, for O’Sullivan and the audience watching, there wasn’t a legendary comeback like Hendry’s. Despite O’Sullivan getting two century performances getting three frames back, he ultimately lost to Trump 10-4. Trump wins £200,000 for his victory and receives the Paul Hunter Trophy.

After the match, Trump said: “I have waited a long time for this. It has been seven or eight years since I last won a big one. You are always surprised when you have a lead against Ronnie at any point. He looked sharp tonight. I had to be at my best to just get to 3-3 in the last session.”

“I was getting sick of losing and watching other players winning all the titles on TV,” said Trump. “The likes of Mark Selby consistently staying at world number one, Mark Williams coming back to form and winning the World Championship and obviously Ronnie O’Sullivan. 

“This is easily the biggest event I have won now. I used to play all-out attack and it worked now and again but this week I did not play brilliantly apart from against O’Sullivan. I am very pleased with how I dug in and showed patience.

“It has been a long time since I won a massive event and it has taken a lot of hard work and sacrifice. The rewards have paid off for the practice I have done over the last four or five months. Hopefully it is a major turning point in my career now and I can kick on.”

With the next Triple Crown event coming in April with the World Championships, the result of this final seems to have changed a few people’s minds about who could win. Six-time world champion Steve Davis said: “It’s put the cat among the pigeons for the World Championship because all of a sudden he is a credible winner. He plays a modern-day game.”

“It’s no-compromise snooker. He doesn’t shirk up his responsibilities on the table. He can play safe, he knows how to mix it up, but he’s happiest among the balls the same as O’Sullivan is. Some of the modern players coming through, they’re changing the equation for what are the right and wrong shots.”

Joe Gomez out for up to six weeks with a fractured leg

The defender was injured after a tackle from Ben Mee during his side’s 3-1 win over the Clarets on Wednesday.

Liverpool and England defender Joe Gomez could be out for up to six weeks after fracturing his left leg in his side’s 3-1 win over Burnley on Wednesday.

Burnley captain Ben Mee made the challenge that saw Gomez come off in the 23rd minute. Clarets boss Sean Dyche said that is was “fantastic tackle”, however Jurgen Klopp complained about the nature of some of the opposition’s tackling.

“We won the game but the challenges from the beginning, the sliding tackling on that wet ground, I really think the referee should have said something earlier. The injury threat is massive. That was hard.”

“You get the ball, nice, but it’s like bowling because you get the player as well. It happened four or five times. The first three or four challenges everybody likes it. I know that. It’s part of football but it lead to the situation. OK, no foul but Joe Gomez is injured.”

A statement released by Liverpool said that the “initial indications” were that Gomez would be out for up to six weeks “though this is dependent on how his treatment and rehabilitation programmes progress”.

Out of the 15 league games Liverpool has played this season Gomez has been a part of 13 so the impact on the squad, who are yet to lose in the league this season, could be massive.

Green Bay Packers fire coach Mike McCarthy after 13 years in charge

The Packers have lost five of their last six games in their worst season in a decade.

The Green Bay Packers have fired head coach Mike McCarthy after 13 years in charge. McCarthy’s fate was sealed after their 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, leaving his side third in the NFC North division with a poor 4-7-1 record.

The Wisconsin-based team won Super Bowl XLV in 2010 under McCarthy but have struggled in recent seasons, failing to make the playoffs last year breaking a streak that went back to 2009.

McCarthy arrived in 2006, replacing Mike Sherman, following stints at the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints as the offensive coordinator. His greatest achievement didn’t happen until his third season, however, when departing quarterback Brett Favre was replaced by first-round draft pick Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers proved himself to be an incredibly influential player as he led the Packers to the Super Bowl XLV championship in 2010. He was named Super Bowl MVP as the Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in the most-watched program in American television history at that time. The game is also notable for having perhaps the worst ever halftime show, performed by the Black Eyed Peas featuring Usher and Slash.

Since then, the Packers have failed to return to the Super Bowl, twice losing the NFC Championship game in 2014 and 2016. This season has been the worst under McCarthy with his side unable to win a single game on the road, as well as losing five out of their last six games.

Team president and Chief Executive Mark Murphy, therefore, made the decision, with four games of the regular season left, to fire McCarthy. “The 2018 season has not lived up to the expectations and standards of the Green Bay Packers,” he said. “Mike has been a terrific head coach and leader of the Packers for 13 seasons, during which time we experienced a great deal of success on and off the field.”

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin has been named as the interim head coach for the final games of the season. The chances of Philbin turning this season around and gaining a spot in the playoffs is incredibly slim, with all four games needing to be won as well as favourable results everywhere else just for the chance of being a wild-card qualifier.

England complete first ever tour whitewash of Sri Lanka

Moeen Ali and Jack Leach both grabbed four wickets in a close finish to the series.

England have completed their first ever whitewash in Sri Lanka after an incredibly close 42-run victory in the third and final Test in Colombo.

It appeared as though Sri Lanka might be able to salvage a consolation win in this Test with Kusal Mendis scoring 86 and Roshen Silva reaching 65. The England bowlers struggling to make headway with the Sri Lankan batsman.

Eventually, Jack Leach continued his fantastic form with a run out of Mendis that set England back on the right track. Moeen Ali also proved himself to be one of the best spin bowlers in the world by taking four wickets, including Perera and Silva with only one run between them.

With the scorecard reading 226-9, it seemed routine for England to finish the game, the series, and the tour, however, it proved anything but. Lakmal and Pushpukumara managed a very respectable last-wicket stand of 58 before Lakmal finally succumbed by lbw to Leach, who joined Ali on a four-wicket haul.

Talking about the tour Joe Root, England’s captain, said “it has been a fabulous tour. It has been a complete team performance throughout the whole trip. Everyone has contributed in some shape or form and that is the most pleasing and impressive thing.”

England have sprung back from their own whitewashing by Australia in the Ashes by winning eight of their last nine Tests. They have just four more Tests left though, three against West Indies and a one-off against Ireland, before the Ashes comes around again on August 1st 2019.