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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Jofra Archer oversteps - out of Old Trafford Test

This is a Cricket post and not a political one ! ~ decades ago, Great Britain proudly proclaimed ‘Sun never sets in British Empire’.  British Broadcasting Corporation for long was considered the most authentic – now frequently, they would run stories on how poor India and most other Nations are ! ~ how Indians are suffering without adequate infrastructure, health facilities and – in the present circumstances, they would write concern (!) on whether Indian States have sufficient no. of hospital beds to house Indian Covid victims. .. .. Not much would be written on how UK is suffering, how many have died, and how hospitals have fared !  .. .. .. since first being recorded late last year in China, the Covid-19 coronavirus has spread around the world, and been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

A pub landlord in Cornwall in south-western England has hit the headlines in the UK for his unique method of ensuring Covid-19 secure social distancing guidelines by installing an electric fence around the bar area. Jonny McFadden, who runs the popular Star Inn in Saint Just town of Cornwall, said there is limited space at the bar where drinks are served and therefore he resorted to what he says is “just a normal electric fence” found in many field perimeters to control cattle and sheep around England. The man reportedly  said the fence is for everybody’s benefit due to the space constraints.  "It's there for social-distancing. Before the fence, people were not following social distancing and were doing as they pleased, but now people take heed to the guidance around social distancing. It's for everybody's benefit," he said.

As many as 649,000 people lost their jobs between March and June during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown in the UK, official data released recently showed, with Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak admitting "difficult time ahead" but stressed that the government had a comprehensive jobs plan in place.  The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recorded 649,000 people leaving company payrolls, a figure which does not reflect a surge in the country's unemployment figures because large numbers of firms have put their employees on the government-backed furlough, or forced leave scheme, put in place by the Indian-origin finance minister.

In between Britain accused Russia and the Kremlin today  denied claims by Britain that "Russian actors" sought to meddle in last year's general election and that Russian intelligence services most likely hacked coronavirus vaccine research. "We have no information on who could have hacked pharmaceutical companies and research centres in Britain," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the TASS news agency.

Getting back to Cricket – the 2nd Test between England & West Indies,  got off to a wet start at Old Trafford today.  Pakistan all-rounder Kashif Bhatti has become the first member of the visiting team to test positive for coronavirus after landing in the UK. The 33-year-old was one of the three players who had flown to the UK in the second week of the month. As per a report in Cricket Pakistan, Bhatti has entered self-isolation. The PCB is waiting for the report by England Cricket Board, the report adds. Bhatti had initially tested positive for COVID-19 but his test returned negative on July 1. He, along with Haider Ali and Imran Khan, was cleared to fly to the UK after the trio tested negative for the second time three days later. Since he has now tested positive for the infection, Bhatti is unlikely to take part in the series. ECB and PCB are expected to come up with official word regarding his health soon.  The Pakistan tour of England was unlikely to take place after 10 Pakistan players tested positive initially. The PCB decided to add three players to the squad and the first batch flew to England last month. Questions were raised over PCB when Mohammad Hafeez, who had tested positive initially, tested negative a day later. He was cleared to fly after his test returned negative in PCB's testing.

On to England Test Series, Lancashire County Cricket Club was founded  in 1864 as a successor to Manchester Cricket Club, Lancashire have played at Old Trafford since then and, in 1865, played their inaugural first-class match, beating Middlesex at Old Trafford.  Our own Farokh Engineer, the flamboyant keeper and opener played alongside Clive Lloyd between 1968-76.  Years later, the left-arm spinner Murali Karthik too played for this club.

 The immediate reference of modern times of this place would of course be – ‘Manchester United Football Club’ the professional football club, based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester; founded in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR Football Club and changed name to Manchester United in 1902.   Manchester United is one of the richest football clubs; in Augt 2012, Manchester United made an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

Manchester's fortunes decreased after the Second World War; however investment spurred by the 1996 Manchester bombing led to extensive regeneration, particularly in the city centre. Manchester was the site of the world's first railway station and is where scientists first split the atom, and developed the first stored-program computer. Manchester is also regarded as the birthplace of Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, and both capitalism and communism.  Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels began to write the Communist Manifesto at Chetham Library, the oldest public library in the English-speaking world.

At Old Trafford ground, Jason Holder mixed up his bowlers during a one-hour first session after rain delayed the start until 12.30pm local time. Opening bowler Shannon Gabriel who took nine wickets in West Indies' first-Test victory, struggled early with his run-up and was wayward. Having won the toss and elected to bowl first in hopes of making the most of the conditions, Holder took Gabriel and Kemar Roach out of the attack after three overs each, replacing them with himself and Alzarri Joseph. But it wasn't until Chase entered in the last over before the break that they managed to make something happen as Chase trapped Burns with his second delivery.  Roston Chase grabbed two wickets in as many balls either side of lunch to put England at 29 for 2.

England have rung in the changes for this crucial second Test. Jofra Archer is out, while James Anderson and Mark Wood are being rested. Stuart Broad is back after his omission from the first Test, which left him feeling, in his own words, "frustrated and angry". It'll be a while before we see him though. West Indies will bowl first after winning the toss.

"Not sure I like the words in terms of 'unbelievable'," Holder said, rubbing the back of his head with his two fingers, trying hard to hide his annoyance. "But, look, this series is still wide open.  The question, asked during the virtual media briefing on Wednesday, was: "The West Indies, you are pretty much on the verge winning a Test series. I mean it is unbelievable to be saying this, but are the guys geared knowing that they are just one Test win away from winning a Test series in England in some 30-odd years?"

Whether he likes it not, though, Holder's team now stands on the cusp of history after taking the series lead in Southampton, a significant achievement in itself. Not since 1995 have West Indies won a Test series against a major Test-playing country, a feat achieved Courtney Walsh's team which won 1-0 against New Zealand. But in a series involving three or more Tests, West last emerged victorious under Richie Richardson when they pipped Australia 2-1 to win the Frank Worrell Trophy in 1992-93.

Jofra Archer is out – after that spell, none can dream of dropping him .. ..yet he has been dropped not due to poor performance but due to over-stepping !!  He has been severely reprimanded after breaching England’s biosecure protocols by stopping off at his flat in Hove during the journey from Southampton to Old Trafford.  England’s players travelled on Monday in separate cars following their four-wicket defeat at Hampshire’s Rose Bowl and were told there must be no breaks in the 230-mile journey bar the use of a designated biosecure county ground for lunch and pre-approved petrol stations.

But Archer used the travel day to visit his flat en route, details of which only came to the attention of the England management on Wednesday evening after naming him in their 13-man squad for Thursday’s second Test. Archer, who must now spend the next five days in isolation at the team hotel at Old Trafford and undergo two additional Covid-19 tests, said in a statement: “I am extremely sorry for what I have done. I have put, not only myself, but the whole team and management in danger. I fully accept the consequences of my actions, and I want to sincerely apologise to everyone in the biosecure bubble. “It deeply pains me to be missing the Test match, especially with the series poised. I feel like I have let both teams down, and again I am sorry.”

The statement from England, which explained the decision, but gave no details on the breach, said: “Jofra Archer has been excluded from the #raisethebat second Test against the West Indies starting today (Thursday 16 July) at Emirates Old Trafford following a breach of the team’s biosecure protocols. Archer will now commence five days of isolation and will undergo two Covid-19 tests in this period, which have to test negative before his self-isolation period is lifted.  “The West Indies team have been made aware and are satisfied with the measures that have been imposed.”

According to ESPN's Alexis Nunes, a close personal friend of the player, Archer stopped off at his flat for approximately an hour, and avoided any close personal contact while he was there. While conceding that he was "very frustrated" with the situation, Nunes added that Archer had not made any excuses for his actions. "Home is his safe place," she added, "which is why he didn't think it was that much of a risk."

So, for the 2nd Test – England lost a crucial wicket – out dangling with Covid 19
Strange are the ways of people !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16.7.2020 @ 2100 hrs.

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