It was interesting to see a delegation from Saudi Arabia at Lord’s last week. As this column has previously reported, the Saudis are looking into setting up their own Twenty20 competition that could blow the rest out of the water.
Kevin Pietersen, who has often spoken of his desire to franchise county cricket, was among those to mix with the visiting group. Meanwhile, KP appears to have upset both England and Australia at Lord’s.
His comments on the first day, around England appearing to be too friendly with their opponents in the field raised eyebrows in the home dressing room, given his involvement in the 2012 texting scandal.
Following injured Nathan Lyon’s brave cameo at No 11 on Saturday, Pietersen suggested he only did it to get hit on the head — meaning a replacement spinner could have come in and bowled in the fourth innings.
Given the trauma Australia went through when opener Phillip Hughes tragically died after being hit by a bouncer it was a crass and thoughtless comment. Lyon, who was 10 metres away from Hughes when he was struck, described it as ‘poor’. He may well have used stronger words.
Kevin Pietersen ruffled feathers from the commentary box during the second Ashes Test
He was criticised by Nathan Lyon after suggesting the spinner was trying to get hit on the head
Ange off to winning start
An early victory for Ange Postecoglou at Tottenham. The new manager has already taken a big step towards winning over staff and players by providing a training schedule for the next month.
Such forward planning is a marked change from predecessor Antonio Conte’s reign. Under Conte there was no schedule and a training time for the next day was decided the night before.
That approach caused pain for players and staff alike, who found it difficult to arrange time away from the training ground or commit to time with their families.
Hughes returns to Chelsea
A familiar face will greet Mauricio Pochettino, who starts at Chelsea today. The west London club recently re-appointed Chris Hughes following a spell at Spurs, where he worked with the Argentine.
Before moving to Tottenham, Hughes was promoted from Chelsea’s academy when Eva Carneiro was dropped by former manager Jose Mourinho in 2015 in a move which triggered an employment tribunal and expensive settlement.
Mendy’s City deal ends
Benjamin Mendy’s career at Manchester City is at an end after his contract expired on Friday.
Perhaps understandably, there was no mention of the departure on the club’s website, given that the defender is currently in the midst of a retrial on one count of rape and one count of attempted rape, which he denies.
Mendy was on around £100,000-a-week, but had not been paid by City since September 2021, shortly after he was first charged.
Ange Postecoglou has already given his Tottenham players their training schedule for August
Former Spurs boss Antonio Conte used to give no schedule and only reveal the timings he had decided for training the night before
MCC pioneer’s daughter struggled to find Ashes ticket
One may have hoped that when Eliza Bradshaw, daughter of the late, reforming MCC chief executive Keith, would have been accommodated when she requested tickets for the second day of the Test match on her father’s old stomping ground.
Keith was a pioneering leader who dragged MCC into the 21st century and was equally well-liked in his native Australia, where he was chief executive of the South Australian Cricket Association before his premature death from cancer in 2021 at the age of 58.
However, Eliza, on a trip to the UK, was told that there was no room at the inn, triggering outrage among members. Upon hearing of the situation Hampshire chairman Rod Bransgrove stepped in to offer tickets.
Just an hour beforehand and with the damage done, Eliza then received an email from MCC chief executive Guy Lavender inviting her to lunch. Bradshaw brought in a number of advancements including the ringing of the bell, which is now tradition.
Battle to host World Cup final heats up
The host venue for the 2026 World Cup final is to be chosen by FIFA later this year and it would appear that the heat is on one of the two cities in the running.
Sports Agenda understands that the field has been narrowed down to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
Dallas’ AT&T Stadium is in the running to host the 2026 World Cup final, although there are concerns about temperatures which can reach over 40 degrees
The MetLife Stadium in New Jersey is another option which is likely to be considerably cooler
Initially, FIFA may have been leaning towards the Arlington home of the Dallas Cowboys. But Texas is now entering its third week of a deadly, record-breaking heatwave.
Dallas has consistently seen soaring temperatures north of 40 degrees Celsius which have reportedly accounted for a number of premature deaths, an increase in social unrest and the passing of a 66-year-old postman who collapsed while out on his round.
While AT&T, opened in 2009, is a giant dome, FIFA officials will have to consider the welfare of players and fans around the final which is set for July 19.
These are the highest numbers seen in the area since 1980 and may steer decision makers towards New Jersey, where temperatures have ranged from the low 30s to low 20s.
Cricket legend Knott holds auction
Former England wicketkeeper Alan Knott is auctioning off a vast array of his prized possessions on eBay.
The ex-Kent man has put up a wide range of items on the online site which include an MCC blazer from the 1977 centenary Test in Melbourne, a sports bag from the 1974-75 tour of Australia and New Zealand and a number of stumps and wicket-keeping pads.
The haul also features three Gillette Cup medals, Bob Woolmer’s World Series cap and a match-used Slazenger V500 bat.
Team GB won gold at the European Games, but not before the game was interrupted by a giant advertising banner that attached itself to the goalposts
Rugby sevens game saved by fire brigade
Team GB’s rugby sevens were delighted to win gold at the European Games in Krakow, Poland last week, but it could have been very different but for the local fire brigade.
The win sealed qualification for Paris 2024, but their hopes were nearly scuppered in the semi-final against Belgium, when a giant advertising banner blew loose in the windy conditions, only to attach itself to the goal posts.
With the posts at risk of being ripped out of the ground an hour and a half stoppage ensued, with the game tied at 5-5, while the fire brigade were called.
They eventually released the posts and tethered down the banner, which allowed the British women to complete the job against Belgium before demolishing hosts Poland in the final later that evening.
More than 16,000 tickets have been sold for the women’s Ashes T20 at Lord’s next Saturday.
A ticketing policy of £20 for adults and £5 for Under 16s appears to have reaped the rewards with officials confident more than 20,000 will pass through the gates.