Zampa bound for Victoria as NSW look to lure Tremain

Adam Zampa is poised to join Victoria in a bid to turbocharge his Test cricket dream as dumped NSW left-armer Steve O'Keefe declared supporting young spinners "a matter of urgency" if Australia wanted to win a series in India again.

NSW’s announcement on the weekend that they were cutting O’Keefe fuelled speculation that his place in the Blues’ squad could be taken by fellow tweaker Zampa, who has been linked for several weeks with a move from South Australia to either Victoria or NSW.

Adam Zampa batting in a one-dayer earlier this season for South Australia.Credit:Darren England/AAP

However, rather than return to NSW – the state in which he was born and made his first-class debut – sources have indicated Australia’s frontline white-ball spinner is highly likely to move to Melbourne and chance his arm with Victoria. In another development, highly productive paceman Chris Tremain could also be on the move, from Victoria to NSW.

The Blues are unlikely to recruit another spinner from interstate to replace O'Keefe, who will continue to play for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League and for Manly in the Sydney first-grade competition. Due to Australia's heavy white-ball commitments next summer they will have Test spinner Nathan Lyon at their disposal for some of the season but according to sources fellow spinner Dan Fallins is also in danger of missing a state contract.

He would rather have played another season himself but O'Keefe now wants NSW to back up and comers such as 18-year-old Tanveer Sangha and Fallins.

“I’m disappointed with the decision," O'Keefe said of NSW not offering him another contract. "I don’t agree with it. But there are a lot of guys who are going to get the opportunity. Some might say ‘they’re not ready for it’. But when I first played for NSW, many people would have said the same thing."

O'Keefe argues Australian cricket needs to support spinners far more if the national team wants to fulfil one of its major ambitions and win a Test series in India for the first time since 2004.

“I was the leading wicket-taker in the shield competition this year with 16 wickets and I played five games," he said. "I didn’t have a match-winning role or responsibility in any of the games. But when you go to these places [like India], it’s all on your spinners.

"They’ve got to be people who are mentally resilient. It is a matter of urgency. Let’s make sure when we pick shield teams, there are two spinners, not half a spinner, not an all-rounder. And make batters also face spin in the first session of a game and put the pressure on them to be able to get through it.”

Dubbo-native Tremain, 28, has enjoyed a successful stint with Victoria, taking 209 Sheffield Shield wickets at 23.79 since making his debut for the state in 2014. The right-arm quick has also represented Australia in white-ball cricket and was on the cusp of a Test debut in late 2018.

But after a lean summer in which he fell out of favour in Victoria, Tremain is being courted for a return to his home state, where he already plays in the Big Bash League for Sydney Thunder.

Tremain’s potential move to NSW comes after it emerged that Tasmania and Western Australia were both circling long-time Test quick Peter Siddle in a bid to lure the veteran away from Victoria late in his career.

Victoria should, however, be boosted by leg-spinner Zampa, 28, – who is almost guaranteed to earn a Cricket Australia contract after entrenching himself in Australia’s first-choice white-ball XIs. Zampa’s first-class record is modest but having been in and out of the South Australia shield side, the leggie is keen for a change of scenery and is comfortable in Victoria where he has excelled for the BBL’s Melbourne Stars.

Zampa’s white-ball commitments will continue to limit his red-ball opportunities although Victoria could do with extra depth in the spin department as left-armer Jon Holland approaches the twilight of his career.

Cross-code tyro Wil Parker impressed for the Vics on shield debut earlier this summer but could yet pursue a career in the AFL, while fellow teenager Tom O’Connell has been plagued by injuries after moving to Victoria from SA almost two years.

In other domestic player movements, SA’s Nick Winter has attracted interest from Tasmania.

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Virtual Tour of Flanders result: Greg van Avermaet wins De Ronde on home trainer bike

Greg van Avermaet stormed clear to win the Virtual Tour of Flanders, as the Belgian former Olympic Champion dominated his rivals from his home trainer. Oliver Naesen finished second ahead of Nicholas Roche in third.

The race was hosted by BKool, a platform which offers users the chance to ride famous routes, and was broadcast live on Eurosport. Cameras showed Van Avermaet powering away on his home trainer while his CGI character streamed clear of the competition, which included a dozen other professionals in total.

The virtual edition covered only the final 32km of the course, including the final two climbs over Oude-Kwaremont and Paterberg, compared to 266km in the real race. Home trainers attempted to replicate the demands of cobbled sections of what is one of the five Monuments of cycling’s one-day calendar.

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The result does not count officially, but with the Tour de France expected to be postponed or possibly cancelled in line with much of the race schedule due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it might be the closest cycling gets to serious competition for some time.

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Virtual Grand National LIVE: Updates and result as Tiger Roll chases third successive win

Horse racing fans are in for a treat this evening as the Virtual Grand National takes place. Millions are expected to tune in for the race, which is set to raise cash for the NHS as it battles through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Virtual Grand National replaces the real thing – with what would have been the Randox Health Grand National Festival making way for the CGI equivalent.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced The Jockey Club to cancel this year’s National after the UK government advised against mass gatherings.

A behind-closed-doors race at Aintree was not considered viable and so the race was called off completely.

But thanks to CGI technology and special algorithms, 40 runners who would have been expected to take part in the regular race will go head-to-head in a lifelike animated alternative broadcast on ITV.

The profits of the virtual race will go to NHS Charities Together to help the UK’s fight against the deadly virus, which has claimed the lives of more than 4,000 in this country.

Maximum bets of £10 win per horse, or £10 each way, will be allowed according to the Betting and Gaming Council.

“With the UK understandably and rightly in lockdown, unfortunately the Grand National can’t take place” said BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher.

“However, the virtual Grand National will be the closest we can get to creating one of those moments when we can all come together in celebration, not just for the world’s greatest sporting events, but for the NHS heroes working on the front line to keep us all safe.”

The runners will include Tiger Roll, who had been chasing an unprecedented third consecutive victory in the iconic four-mile, 514-yard steeplechase., which encompasses two laps of 16 fences.

The horses will have their details fed into a computer simulation done by a company called Inspired, with the probability of their potential finishing positions calculated by their form and past performance.

Other contributing factors include the horse’s age, weight, form and the weather conditions, while the race will also include fallers, unseated riders and collapsing fences to make it all the more real.

After the National, another virtual race will take place – the Race of Champions. That will see some of the best ever horses – including Red Rum and Many Clouds – take each other on.

Express Sport brings you the latest live updates below. 

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Coronavirus: Cheltenham Festival organisers defend decision to go ahead with four-day meeting

The organisers of the Cheltenham Festival have defended their decision to go ahead with the meeting last month, after fears were raised the mass gathering helped spread coronavirus more widely around the country.

The four-day event saw more than 250,000 racegoers attend, despite the pandemic seeing the cancellation of other large sporting events in the days after.

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Tony McCoy reveals his top tip for the Virtual Grand National 2020

Former Champion Jockey Sir Tony McCoy has revealed his pick to win the Virtual Grand National 2020 and called on fans to get behind Saturday’s race after the usual event at Aintree was called off.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused havoc with the sporting calendar, forcing the biggest horse race of the year – which has been going since 1836 – to be cancelled for the first time since World War II.

Instead, ITV will air a virtual, computer-simulated Grand National at 5pm using the 40 runners who had been expected to race in the real event – with all profits from bets going to the NHS.

McCoy, who finally won the race aboard Don’t Push It in 2010, believes it is an excellent idea and is backing reigning champion Tiger Roll to make it three in a row – though admits he would have gone for another horse had the event proper gone ahead.

‘For those people that are working in the NHS, doing the work they are at the moment, it must be horrific, what they are seeing at times,’ said McCoy.

‘I’d have gone for Burrows Saint in the real one. I just thought having won the Irish Grand National last year he’d have plenty going for him.

‘If we were being realistic I’d say Burrows Saint, but a better story would be Tiger Roll winning.

‘I’d like Tiger Roll to win the Virtual Grand National. I hope none of them get bad rides!

‘Most of all it’s a great cause — you wouldn’t expect anything else — but it’s good of the bookmakers to be doing it.’

The Virtual Grand National has been run previously to try and predict the winner of the actual race, with recent form and stamina key parts of the algorithm, though Tiger Roll was well beaten in his last outing in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham.

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Virtual Grand National 2020 sweepstake kit featuring the 40 runners

Virtual Grand National 2020 sweepstake kit featuring the 40 runners, riders and odds as Tiger Roll seeks third successive win

  • Sportsmail’s Grand National 2020 sweepstake kit has everything you need for the race 
  • Print out the kit and cut out the names to join in the fun with your friends and family 
  • This year’s race is scheduled to take place at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 4

Millions of people take part every year in a Grand National sweepstake — and even though the famous race won’t be run this year, you can still have some fun with our kit for Saturday’s Virtual Grand National. 

This year, with so many of us having to stay at home, it is a brilliant way to socialise and give everyone something to look forward to. 

So ‘virtually’ get together with friends, family, neighbours and colleagues and invite them to join your sweepstake via phone, email, WhatsApp or communication platforms such as Zoom. 

The Virtual Grand National is pre-recorded and will be shown on ITV on Saturday at 5pm

The Virtual Grand National will be run after the Grand National was cancelled due to Covid-19

If you’re the co-ordinator, cut out the 40 runners on the right and put them in a hat. Then make the draw and on a sheet of paper write the person’s name next to the runner(s) they draw. 

Don’t worry if you can’t get 40 people involved; you can divide the runners among the number of players. So if there are 10 of you, that’s four horses each. You could have a prize but it doesn’t have to be money. 

Each player could put in £1 per horse with prizes awarded to the first three, for example, £25, £10 and £5. If you are including your children, first prize could be a bar of chocolate or a treat. 

Then don’t forget to tune into ITV from 5pm on Saturday, with the Virtual Grand National starting at 5.15pm. 

Tiger Roll (centre), who was bidding to enter the record books at Aintree, heads the field 

 Bets on the Virtual Grand National could raise £1million to support battle against coronavirus

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES  

The 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed until 2021 on March 24 – becoming one of the last major sporting events this summer to fall victim to the coronavirus.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a crucial conference call with Olympics chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday to formally decide a plan and they have chosen to postpone for 12 months.

The decision also means the Tokyo Paralympic Games will be subject to a one-year delay.

Despite the delay, the name of the delayed Games will still be Tokyo 2020, the city’s governor Yuriko Koike revealed.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee read: ‘In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

‘The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. 

‘Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.’ 

There was plenty of scepticism whether the Olympics would pull through and continue as scheduled while events linked to the games were called off. The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday March 13 – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed by one year due to the coronavirus

Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus.

That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.

The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday March 19, but without fans present. 

Athletes were told to keep training but many struggled considering the government lock-down measures put in place. 

On Friday March 13 US president Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference in Tokyo.

On Tuesday March 17, Kozo Tashima, one of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s vice presidents and president of the Japanese Football Association, tested positive for coronavirus.  

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as scheduled on July 24. 

Tokyo 2020 organisers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on March 19. 

ATHLETICS 

The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was due to be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, is postponed until March 2021.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea, where the Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all public gatherings of more than 100 people, before ordering people to stay at home from March 15 for at least 15 days. The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday March 1. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The London Marathon, which had been scheduled to take place on April 26, has been postponed until October 4. Over 40,000 runners were due to take part. 

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October.

BOXING 

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, but went ahead in Amman from March 3-11.

The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.

The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.

Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce’s Battle of Britain has been pushed back from April to July

The British Boxing Board of Control announced on Tuesday March 17 that all boxing events under their jurisdiction for March will be postponed due to the coronavirus.

That decision has lead to the heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce being postponed. That fight, which had been penciled in for April 11, has been rescheduled for July 11 at the O2 Arena. 

Anthony Yarde, who was due to fight Lyndon Arthur on the undercard of the all-British clash, announced on March 29 that his father had died as a result of contracting the coronavirus. 

He revealed in an Instagram post that he had no underlying health issues and urged everyone to stay at home.  

Matchroom Boxing has also postponed all events scheduled for March and April, including Josh Kelly’s European title fight against Russia’s David Avanesyan (scheduled for March 28). 

The European Olympic boxing qualification tournament in London has been suspended. It was due to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 for 77 male and female boxers, with 322 taking part. 

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has said Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev, which is scheduled for June 20, could be rearranged for July. All Matchroom promoted fights in March and April have been postponed. 

Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders, earmarked for May in Las Vegas, was postponed before even being announced, however the Mexican is reportedly still planning to make the bout happen in June. 

CRICKET 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on March 13, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.

The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series.

On March 18, the West Indies offered to host England’s upcoming home Tests against them in the Caribbean instead of in the UK – should the coronavirus outbreak not have improved by then. England are due to face the Windies in a a three-Test series, which is due to start at the Oval on June 4 but could be delayed until September. If playing the series in England proves unworkable, CWI have offered to step in for this series, and also for England’s three Tests against Pakistan, due to start on July 30. Although there are Covid-19 cases in the Caribbean, its impact there has been limited so far. 

The start of the Indian Premier League season has also been delayed until April 15. The 2020 campaign had been set to start on March 29. The IPL franchises are also ready to quarantine their foreign players for a period of 14 days, if travel restrictions are lifted to allow them to arrive.

On March 13, India’s ongoing one-day international series against South Africa was postponed, while Australia’s one-day internationals against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.

Scotland’s one-day series against the United States and UAE have been postponed. The games were scheduled to be played in Florida in April. 

England’s cricketers would not play any rescheduled Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean until December at the earliest, it emerged on March 19.

CYCLING 

Cycling’s Giro d’Italia has been called off, with the race scheduled to start in Hungary in May. 

The final two stages of the UAE Tour were cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease. 

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

The Tour de France is under threat of cancellation, with the scheduled start in Nice taking place in just over three months, on June 27. With British and French governments anticipating that the pandemic will last until the summer, race organizers are studying alternative scheduling. 

The Paris-Roubaix cycling race, another major event on the French sports calendar, was postponed due to the pandemic, while the April 5 Tour of Flanders, only previously cancelled during World War I, was also postponed in a further sign that Le Tour is under grave threat.

FOOTBALL 

This summer’s Euro 2020 tournament has been moved to next summer (2021) following a UEFA conference held on March 17. The postponement provides a chance for European club competitions to be completed.

All football in England is suspended until at least April 30 – but the 2019-20 season should eventually be completed after the FA bend their own rules to extend the campaign INDEFINITELY after holding crisis talks on March 19.

The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The Premier League has moved to cancel games following the global outbreak of coronavius

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium. 

On March 13, UEFA announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA hope to conclude the competitions in the summer but no dates are yet set. 

Birmingham City become the first Championship side to see players take temporary 50 per cent wage cuts to ease financial pressure.  Leeds United soon followed in a bid to keep paying all of their non-football staff. 

All Chinese domestic fixtures at all levels were postponed and the season pushed back, the first football to be affected by the outbreak in the country of its origin. However, reports suggest that the league could resume on April 18 as China gets to grip with the virus.

Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.

The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March, but further delays are inevitable. 

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Italy, the country worst hit by the virus outside China, suffered a spate of cancellations before the government put the population on lockdown. All sport, including Serie A games, were suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.

In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed. LaLiga is also postponed until the end of March at least.

Germany’s Bundesliga, the other major European league, is also suspended until April 3 at least. 

The Dutch Eredivisie and Portugal’s Primeira Liga are also suspended.

The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29. 

Major League Soccer has been suspended for 30 days until mid-April with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed.  

The South American Football Confederation postponed this year’s Copa America, due to take place from 12 June to 12 July, until 2021.

FIFA said that the newly-expanded Club World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in China in June 2021, will be postponed and a new date announced when ‘there is more clarity on the situation’.

On March 13, the FA announced that all of England’s games scheduled for the month would be postponed, including those of development teams. It means that England’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark have been called off.    

Euro 2020 play-off matches due to be held on March 26, including Scotland v Israel have been put off until June. 

Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus

Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game. 

Newcastle United banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears. 

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. Squad members Blaise Matuidi and Paolo Dybala also tested positive. 

Elsewhere in Italy, Fiorentina striker Patrick Cutrone, who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, tested positive for coronavirus.

In Spain, 35% of Valencia’s squad staff tested positive for coronavirus, with all cases being asymptomatic. 

Real Madrid’s first-team squad were in quarantine after a member of the basketball team tested positive for Covid-19. The two teams share the same training facility.   

Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.

FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.

In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.

The club’s first team went into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham were closed. 

Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City, have sent players home to train alone following the British government’s increasing crackdown on mass gatherings and unnecessary social contact.   

West Ham chief Karren Brady called for the season to be null and void while Aston Villa believe no team should be relegated. In this situation Liverpool, the runaway league leaders, could face the horror of being denied the title despite being on the brink of securing their first league trophy in nearly 30 years.

Reports suggest football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September.

Top-level English and Scottish football was initially suspended until April 3 at the earliest. The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect. 

All levels of English football below the National League North and South have been called off and voided with no promotion and relegation due to the calendar being decimated by the coronavirus outbreak.  

FORMULA ONE 

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead. 

The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead. 

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 was the first race to be postponed, with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season. 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is also called off, as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5. 

It was hoped that the Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 would be the first race of the new season but that has also been postponed due to Covid-19. 

The iconic Monaco Grand Prix on May 24 was cancelled for the first time in 66 years before Formula One announced their race in Azerbaijan had been postponed. 

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

GOLF 

On March 13, the Masters was postponed. In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the championship ‘at some later date’. The first men’s major of the year was due to begin on April 9.

The US PGA Championship, the second major of the year, has now joined the  Masters in being postponed. It had been due to take place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from May 11-17, but has been rescheduled for later this summer.

After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on March 12. 

They also scrapped the following three events leading up to the Masters, but after that was cancelled four further events in April and May – the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson – also bit the dust. It is hoped that the season can be resumed in late May.

The European Tour have cancelled all tournaments until the popular Made in Denmark event on May 21. Many of them were due to be held in China or east Asia in countries badly hit by the outbreak.

The women’s game has also been hit by postponements and cancellations, with the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, the highest profile casualty.

The Masters has been postponed for the first time since the Second World War

Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus. 

HORSE RACING 

The Grand National was called off following new British government restrictions to fight the spread of coronavirus made it impossible to stage the Aintree showpiece on April 4. The Cheltenham Festival went ahead amid some criticism before the social distancing measures were tightened. 

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go ahead behind closed doors.  

Racing in Ireland attempted to take place behind closed doors starting on March 29 – but that decision was changed after government cancelled all sporting events.  

The Dubai World Cup meeting will go ahead on March 28 ‘without paid hospitality spectators’. 

Racing Post forced to temporarily suspend publication of the flagship daily racing newspaper for the first time since their inception in 1986 due to all action in UK and Ireland being suspended.  

The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY 

This year’s Six Nations will have to wait for its conclusion with all remaining games postponed.

England’s game with Italy and Ireland’s trip to France had already been called off with Wales and Scotland leaving it until the day before before calling off their game. 

Saturday, 31 October is a possible date for the final weekend of matches. 

The Women’s Six Nations has also been hit by postponements.

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The RFU has suspended all levels of rugby in England until April 14, with the announcement coming shortly after the Premiership was halted for five weeks. 

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have also been postponed. Those games were scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5.   

The RFL and rugby league’s Super League have now followed suit and postponed all fixtures for at least three weeks. Eight Leeds Rhinos players had been confirmed to be self-isolating.  

TENNIS

Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II as All England Club chiefs called the tournament off at an emergency meeting.

It was considered impossible for the tournament to be moved back to later in the year, or to be played without fans, and so chiefs have pulled the plug entirely.

This is the first time that Wimbledon will not be staged since 1945. Only one Grand Slam has missed a year since the war, the 1986 Australian Open, and that was for the technical reason of the date shifting forward from December into January. 

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is postponed until September amid a wide lockdown in France.

The clay-court major was scheduled for May 24 to June 7, but that has shifted to September 20 to October 4, after the US Open, which was due to be the final major of the year. 

Players have been quick to criticise the move, which has created a conflict with the Laver Cup men’s team event spearheaded by Roger Federer, and a women’s tournament in China.

All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks. 

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour.  It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine was cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.

China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 play-off.

WTA events have also been cancelled. The WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

The International Tennis Federation has announced that the Fed Cup finals have been postponed. The event was due to be held in Budapest in April and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.

The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks.   

Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II

OTHER SPORTS 

The NBA has been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. On March 17 Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant confirmed he had tested positive for the virus alongside three unnamed team-mates.

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA had told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume. 

The UFC has cancelled its next three events, although president Dana White is still pushing ahead for the highly-anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. 

South Korea’s baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off. 

The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.

A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.

The World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed as a precautionary measure.  

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Canada have been cancelled.   

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

In badminton, the German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’. 

The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.  

Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed. 




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Gordon Elliott admits considering Tiger Roll sale before Grand National success

Champion trainer Gordon Elliott has admitted he was close to selling "people's horse" Tiger Roll prior to their back-to-back Grand National successes.

Davy Russell romped to victory on Tiger Roll in the 2018 edition of the race at Aintree, before repeating the feat again last year.

Tiger Roll became the first horse since Red Rum to win successive Grand Nationals, but has been robbed of an historic hat-trick attempt.

Elliott made his confession in a new documentary released this week by Betfair which tells the story of the Irish thoroughbred's rise from humble beginnings to record-breaker.

This weekend would have seen him attempt to win a record third Grand National in a row, until the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Red Rum is the only other horse to have won the race on three occasions, but earned the third of those three years after retaining his first title.

No horse has ever won three Grand National titles back-to-back.

Speaking on 'Tiger Roll – Horse of a Lifetime', Elliott said: "He is the people’s horse and this documentary gives viewers a great understanding of the path he has taken us on in what, it’s fair to say, hasn’t always been a smooth one.

"We were close to selling him, but luck or faith meant we didn’t, thank God and while its disappointing to miss this year’s Grand National, as he is in flying form at home, there are currently more important things going on in the world and it’s all systems go for the 2021 Grand National, which is something to look forward to.”

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Tony Lewis: Cricket statistician of the Duckworth-Lewis method dies aged 78

Tony Lewis, the mathematician and statistician who co-devised what became known as the Duckworth-Lewis method for settling weather-affected limited-overs matches, has died at the age of 78.

Lewis and fellow academic Frank Duckworth came together to produce a fairer method of settling such games than the controversial system which had been used at the 1992 World Cup.

Their new system was first used in 1997 for a Zimbabwe v England game, and officially adopted by the International Cricket Council in 1999.

Duckworth-Lewis calculates targets based on the batting team’s remaining resources – wickets in hand, and overs in hand – via mathematical formulae.

In 2014, Australian professor Steven Stern became the custodian of the system, on the retirements of Duckworth and Lewis, and it is now known as the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement: “Cricket is deeply indebted to both Tony and Frank’s contributions to the sport. We send our sincere condolences to Tony’s family.”

  • From 2007: A decade of Duckworth-Lewis

Born in Bolton, Lewis was a lecturer at the University of the West of England when he and Duckworth came together after South Africa’s target in the 1992 World Cup semi-final against England was comically reduced from 22 runs off 13 balls to 22 runs off one ball.

Duckworth explained in 2007: “I recall hearing Christopher Martin-Jenkins on radio saying ‘surely someone, somewhere, could come up with something better’ and I realised that it was a mathematical problem that required a mathematical solution.”

Lewis and Duckworth were appointed MBEs in 2010.

Around the same time, an Irish pop group formed by Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy and Thomas Walsh of Pugwash – calling themselves The Duckworth Lewis Method – released two cricket-themed concept albums in 2009 and 2013.


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Alyssa Healy: Australia wicketkeeper missed jury duty to play in T20 World Cup final

When you need a reason for missing something really important, it doesn’t come much better than saying you were starring in a World Cup final.

Australia opener Alyssa Healy had some explaining to do when she failed to turn up for jury service in early March, then received a letter from the local sheriff inquiring about her absence.

Her excuse? She was playing in the Women’s T20 World Cup final against India.

Healy replied to the sheriff’s letter by sending a picture of her taking part in Australia’s post-match celebrations.

Did the sheriff buy it?

Yes, he most certainly did, deeming it an acceptable reason and letting Healy – who is married to Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc and is the niece of former Australia wicketkeeper Ian Healy – off the hook.

And quite right too – we reckon blitzing 75 from 39 balls in front of 86,174 at the MCG to win the player of the match award is a pretty good excuse…

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How cricket went from high-water mark to survival planning in a month

As members of Meg Lanning’s newly crowned world champion team danced on stage at the MCG with pop superstar Katy Perry on the night of Sunday March 8, they and the Cricket Australia executives in the corporate boxes and seats upstairs had little idea of what was to come, and how rapidly.

It was a glorious end point to the season and a feat many years in the making: a record-breaking crowd of 86,174 for the women’s Twenty20 World Cup final.

Katy Perry performs with the Australian team at the MCG.Credit:Getty Images

The next day, a CA crisis committee led by head of security and integrity Sean Carroll assembled by phone conference and in person and discussed the upcoming three-match men’s one-day international series between Australia and New Zealand due to start at the SCG that Friday night. Rattled by the knowledge that someone who tested positive had been at a near packed MCG, the committee believed it could not risk exposing crowd members to the virus again.

While Prime Minister Scott Morrison was still encouraging people to go to the football that weekend, and with fast bowler Kane Richardson isolated at the team’s hotel in Double Bay after reporting a sore throat, the committee recommended to the executive that the Chappell-Hadlee series be played behind closed doors.

The series would be called off altogether only hours after Aaron Finch and David Warner steered to a 71-run win, with New Zealand announcing impending travel restrictions and Kane Williamson’s Black Caps heading home. But cricket’s decision to lock out crowds put them ahead of the curve that weekend and with more time on their side than the decimated football codes that is where they are trying to stay.

The first ODI between Australia and New Zealand was played behind closed doors at the SCG, before the series was abandoned due to coronavirus restrictions.Credit:AAP

With 90 per cent of its revenue for the financial year already delivered, cricket in Australia has not yet been materially affected by the virus. Due to the international nature of the game’s most profitable products, however, it is unlikely to be spared and CA is planning as such.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age can reveal that CA is seeking a $200 million line of credit from banks, just as the AFL has secured a $600m lifeline from the NAB and ANZ, as an insurance measure after drawing up three broad scenarios for the next season: a 25 per cent loss of revenue, a 50 per cent loss and a 100 per cent loss.

The latter would involve a wipeout of not only the men’s T20 World Cup in October and November, for which CA as host will be paid a handsome fee by the International Cricket Council, but also the four-Test home series against India starting in December, which is worth $300m to Australian cricket’s bottom line, and the 2020-21 Big Bash League.

The likelihood is domestic cricket like the BBL should be able to go ahead but with great uncertainty around global travel in the medium-term future, as well as how the virus will impact India as a nation, the most lucrative of Australia’s home international summers is far from secure.

As the NRL and AFL are discovering, a lack of action on the field means no money from broadcasters, which along with cash from commercial partners represents 70 per cent of cricket’s revenue. The scenario planning at CA, however, stretches beyond exactly what cricket might and might not be able to be played. They are also war-gaming for the unwanted situation that a broadcast partner like Seven West Media or Foxtel, or a sponsor like Qantas, runs into such trouble that they can’t pay, or need to renegotiate their deals.

The hope for those in cricket is they don’t ultimately need all or any of the money they are trying to get out of the banks. As of last June, according to the 2019 annual report, CA had $26m in cash on its books as well as $90m parked in investments. But after a lower-earning summer in 2019/20 with Pakistan and New Zealand touring, the health of their four-year revenue cycle depends heavily on whether Virat Kohli’s men, and the broadcast riches from the subcontinent that come with them, can make it here in November.

There has already been pain among the states, who are largely funded by CA, with South Australia making 23 full-time staff redundant, those who remain there suffering a 20 per cent reduction in working hours and executives at Adelaide Oval taking a 20 per cent pay cut. The 15-member CA executive including CEO Kevin Roberts, who has been fronting the whole workforce by live stream three times a week, also agreed two weeks ago to cop a 20 per cent hit to their wages, with that drop in pay kicking in on Wednesday.

Staff at CA have been “gifted” a week’s leave this week by management before being told to remain off in the lead-up to Easter next week.

Meanwhile, the players, who are likely to have flexibility built into their new contracts to cover for the uncertainty ahead, are lying low as best they can as their annual leave period begins.

That night of all nights at the MCG certainly seems a long time ago.

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