Another week ticked off in 2020 and things are getting slightly better if not that great and we have plenty of engrossing content to keep you hooked on this week's Good, Bad and Ugly edition. From the start of the IPL to suspension of Neymar to Rana Naved's racism claims, it was an eventful week.
Finally the IPL begins
After months of postponement due to the novel Coronavirus, this week, finally saw the inception of the cash-rich league after all the players followed the quarantine, bio-secure bubble and tested negative for Covid-19 in the UAE. Last year's champions Mumbai Indians clashed with finalists Chennai Super Kings at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. More than the result or anything, the fact that cricket was back with Indian players and a galaxy of stars in action was a big booster for cricket fans across the globe.
The IPL began sans opening ceremony, cheerleaders, DJ music, Bollywood stars, quintessentially it was IPL without the usual tamasha, much to the delight of fanatics of the game. One thing that hurt was the absence of spectators in the ground but that is prevalent all around the world given we are going through unprecedented times in form of Covid-19. At times when people have been confined to their homes, have lacked means of entertainment, bulldozed with stress, missed Indian cricketers in action, it was akin to peaking of life with social media going into a meltdown.
Justin Langer accepts Michael Holding's criticism
Australia's head coach Justin Langer accepted former West Indies cricketer and strong advocate of Black Live Matter movement, Michael Holding's scathing criticism of the Aussie team. After England and Australia opted out from taking a knee with Aaron Finch suggesting that instead of protesting, education is the way forward, Michael Holding had called out the Aussie and English players and termed Finch's statement as 'lame excuse' not to continue forward with the BLM movement like in the England-Windies series.
Langer asserted that there was so much going on in lead up to the limited-overs series in England that they should have committed time and did something about taking a knee, which they didn't. However, Langer added that BLM movement is paramount and his team had no intention to disrespect anyone or the movement if it came across like that to Holding, whom he repsects dearly.
Injury forces Naomi Osaka to withdraw from French Open
World's third-ranked player and an absolute Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka pulled out of French Open citing 'hamstring issues', which was a bad news for all the tennis lovers especially after Osaka's engrossing run to victory in this year's US Open. The Roland-Garros will kick-start from September 27 in Paris after a forced rescheduled from its traditional spring dates amid global pandemic novel Coronavirus. Having not gone past the third round of the tourney ever, the 22-rear-old felt she wouldn't get enough time to get into the groove for the French Open due to her sore hamstring.
Notably, Osaka's hamstring was taped throughout the US Open. Not only did she grab the eyeballs with her stunning play, but she also hit the headlines for her commitment towards social justice and stance against racism as she wore the name of a different Black person killed by police brutality on her masks for her different games.
David Willey tests positive for Covid-19
England all-rounder David Willey and his wife were tested positive for COVID-19 as the former took to Twitter to announce the same and stated that he was "gutted to be missing the remaining (group) games" of the domestic T20 league Vitality Blast. Earlier, Matthew Fisher, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Josh Poysden and Willey were advised to self-isolate for two weeks after a positive test was received within the squad as per the Cov-19 guidelines. Willey, who last played for England in the ODI series against Ireland, wasn't considered for the Australia series. The Yorkshire cricketer has played 49 ODIs and 28 T20Is so far in his career.
Neymar slapped with ban, Alvaro Gonzalez getting investigated over allegedly racist language
The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) slapped a two-match ban on Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar for striking out at Olympique de Marseille’s Alvaro Gonzalez. All hell broke loose when last Sunday encounter between these two sides turned into a full-scale brawl, quite reminiscent of a street fight as PSG lost to Marseille 0-1 in Ligue 1. It took place during the injury time and witnessed as many as five players being red-carded. It was a truly bonkers fight, sportsman spirit, what?
PSG defender Layvin Kurzawa was handed over the biggest sanction for his role in the incident and has been banned for six games while Jordan Amavi was also churned out the stick with a three-match ban. Leandro Paredes has been also banned for two games with Dario Benedetto getting one-game ban. Neymar had made a big accusation on Alvaro Gonzalez of using racist language towards him in the game, which is being investigated. Alvaro had denied the claim and said there's "no place for racism" and that he has a "clean career." PSG's Angel di Maria will be attending league's disciplinary committee after not receiving any ban despite his involvement in the brawl.
Rana-Naved-ul-Hasan the latest entrant to claim racism in cricket
With passing days the untold stories of racism have started coming out of the cricketing world as more and more cricket boards, players and fans at large, are ready to listen to the victims and have developed a level of sensitivity towards social issues. Former Pakistan pacer Rana-Naved-ul-Hasan backed Azeem Rafiq's claims of rampant racism in Yorkshire cricket club in England. Rana claimed that he faced racist slurs and hooting from Yorkshire fans when he represented the club in 2008 and 2009.
The right-armer also stated that as long as the players kept performing well, there were no issues but the moment their performances dropped, they faced heavy trouble with them getting smaller rooms from big spaces and likewise things. It comes as a major shock for cricket fans.