Eoin Morgan rejuvenated and is committed to leading white-ball side

I WILL play on: Eoin Morgan reveals he is rejuvenated by his break from the game and is still committed to leading white-ball side… and he could extend his reign to include a World Cup title defence in 2023

  • Eoin Morgan insists he is still focused on captaining England’s white-ball team
  • The Irishman skippered the side to World Cup glory at Lord’s last July
  • Now, after a break from the game a rejuvenated Morgan is ready to do it all again

If there were any doubts Eoin Morgan still holds a statesmanlike grip on the England white-ball captaincy they were quickly dispelled on Wednesday when he ruthlessly dismissed the case for recalling Alex Hales before expressing his desire to march on at the helm of his side.

There was no sitting on a metaphorical Zoom fence when Morgan was asked whether the time was now right to forgive the disgraced opener who was banished on the eve of last year’s triumphant World Cup campaign for concealing the results of a drugs test.

Instead there were echoes of Kevin Pietersen about Morgan’s insistence it will take a lot longer than 12 months to rebuild a complete breakdown of trust and bring Hales back into a white-ball training group the captain said should not even be described as a squad.

A rejuvenated Eoin Morgan insists he is still focused on captaining England’s white-ball team

‘Trust is a complete feeling,’ said Morgan. ‘And it is demonstrated by things you say you are going to do and how you follow through with that.’ Basically the message was, you could have cost us the World Cup, Alex, so you can wait a bit longer.

Equally, there was little hesitation when Morgan was asked whether a global crisis that looks certain to begin playing havoc with the international calendar with the postponement of October’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia will affect his longevity.

Not only does Morgan intend to fulfil his stated aim of leading England in the next two short-form global tournaments but he might now even extend his reign to include a defence in 2023 of the 50-over World Cup he lifted so dramatically at Lord’s last July.

‘This doesn’t change my view,’ said Morgan, speaking on the 15th anniversary of Chance to Shine, the charity he was due to support this season through his Middlesex testimonial before the world was put on hold.

 Morgan (left) says Alex Hales (right) could still be some way away from an England comeback

‘For the simple reason that a lot of players will have benefited from this break. It’s not just physical but a complete mental refresh from the game we’re so involved with. I’ve certainly benefited from the break and I feel at the stage now where I want to pick up a bat again and I’m ready to go. That’s always a nice place to be.

‘I’m in a high-performance industry and if you’re not performing you can’t just carry on. But my ambition would certainly be to still play in the next two Twenty20 World Cups even if they are put back.’

The likelihood, which Morgan agrees with, is that this year’s tournament will be put back a year, with the next T20 tournament currently scheduled to follow on just a year later in India also needing to be postponed.

So that could then take place barely a year away from the next 50-over World Cup, also due in India. Surely it would be tempting to carry on even if Morgan will be 37 in 2023? 

Morgan captained England’s white-ball team to World Cup glory at Lord’s last July

The 33-year-old struggled with back issues during the 50-ball tournament last summer

The captain smiled, albeit remotely. ‘A lot of it will depend on my body,’ said Morgan. ‘I just about got over the line physically at the World Cup last year because I had a little hiccup with my back. If it continues to get better then yes there could be a chance. But if it continues to deteriorate I can’t look beyond the two T20 World Cups.’

Perhaps the most encouraging feature of Morgan’s address on Wednesday was his faith in the way ECB are handling the coronavirus crisis and his confidence that the provisional international schedule they hope to confirm on Friday will go ahead.

That proposed schedule sees their three-Test series against West Indies, which should be signed off on Thursday, dominating July and three subsequent Tests against Pakistan taking up much of August. A separate white-ball squad will just play three 50-over matches against Ireland sandwiched between the two Test series and, if all is still well, T20 games against Pakistan and Australia in September.

‘I’ve been extremely impressed with the ECB and the medical staff appointed to map our route back to cricket,’ said the all-powerful Morgan. ‘Everything is transparent and at the forefront of that has been player safety and well-being.

Morgan (pictured) spoke with Sportsmail’s Paul Newman over Zoom about his future

Morgan is confident he will be able to lead England out at the next two T20 World Cups

‘Moving forward, everything looks extremely optimistic about playing in the timeline they are working on providing nothing changes between now and then.’

Morgan knows that, now one World Cup has been won and the attempt to win another will probably be delayed, his white-ball heroes will have to again take a back-seat to the Test team. For now England’s all-format players will concentrate on the red-ball.

‘There’s a strong chance of that,’ admitted Morgan. ‘We said even before the pandemic we would use the 50-over matches against Ireland to try to grow our squad of 15 players. We also planned to use them to give our senior players a break.

‘Now you look at how the schedule will be, and how compact it is, and we will have to see if anyone will be able to jump from one format and squad to the other. And I think it would be completely unreasonable to expect players to take part in every game. I think we can grow the white-ball squad while the Test side can still perform.’

Morgan was speaking ahead of an online event to celebrate 15 years of the Chance to Shine charity which has given 5 million children the opportunity to play and develop through cricket

For now cricket has got a great chance of resuming business on July 8, even if it is behind closed doors. ‘Every sport is really struggling but we are in a unique position where we don’t have a lot of contact,’ added Morgan. ‘Social distancing is part and parcel of playing cricket so we might get back earlier than other sports.

‘Safety is the priority but once that is ticked off I think as a playing group we’re prepared to commit to whatever cricket is possible. We will do whatever we can as players. There is more light at the end of our tunnel.’

Sadly for Alex Hales, though, the light at the end of that tunnel is red.

Eoin Morgan was speaking ahead of an online event to celebrate 15 years of the Chance to Shine charity. Since 2005, over five million children have been given the opportunity to play, learn and develop through cricket thanks to the work of the charity.




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Hales told he’ll have to wait for England return by ODI captain Morgan

Eoin Morgan reckons Alex Hales must continue to wait a little longer before he is considered for an international recall.

Just over a year has passed since Hales was booted out of England's World Cup camp in Cardiff following revelations he had served a 21 day suspension for a second recreational drugs offence, something his team-mates knew nothing about.

That breakdown in trust was the last straw and not only cost batsman Hales his place in the victorious squad, but his place in any England squad since then.

Speaking last week, World Cup winner Chris Woakes thought it might be time to welcome Hales back into the fold.

And skipper Morgan has been in contact with Hales to let him know that his exile is not permanent, but ultimately this summer is still too soon for him.

“Given it could have derailed a World Cup campaign, I think it might take some more time,” said Morgan, while celebrating 15 years of cricket in schools charity Chance to Shine who are facing a £1million shortfall in funding this year.

“I've spoken to Alex and certainly see an avenue for him to coming back to playing cricket but like in life and in any sport, when there's a breakdown of trust, the only healer is time.

“It's only been 12 or 13 months since the incident which could have cost us four years of hard work.

“Playing cricket for England is about on and off the field, values we adhere to or do our best to adhere to and Alex showed complete disregard for them.

“I think teams in the past wouldn't have been strong enough to make decisions like we did pre-World Cup, and then continue to stand by them post-World Cup.”

It is a credit to Morgan's leadership that up until now he has refused to be swayed on Hales' reintegration despite the scheduled arrival of a T20 World Cup in Australia in October.

Since his axe Hales has plied his trade in T20 leagues around the world and was in sensational form at the Big Bash and then Pakistan Super League before Covid-19 struck scoring 815 runs at a rate of 9 runs per over.

With both Morgan and Hales putting up their best cases, the coronavirus situation may yet end up working out for both of them, with a likely postponement to 2021 providing enough time for the opener to be reconsidered.

“It's obviously not about performance with him,” added Morgan. “Alex is a fantastic player, it's never been discussed whether he's good enough to be in the squad or not.

“Moving forward, time is a great healer so we will continue to assess things moving forward as we've spoken to Alex about, and then hopefully an opportunity will present itself down the line.

“I'd be surprised if it (T20 World Cup) goes ahead. Australia have had a limited number of cases and deaths. Having 16 teams across eight venues has the potential to expose something.”

Chance to Shine celebrate their 15 birthday this week with every donation matched £ for £ by Adrian Beecroft up to £100,000. Visit  chancetoshine.org

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Sri Lanka bowler Shehan Madushanka banned after drugs arrest

Sri Lanka have suspended bowler Shehan Madushanka after he was arrested for alleged possession of illegal drugs.

Madushanka was arrested on Saturday in possession of 2.7 grams of heroin and remanded in custody, police said.

The seamer, 25, won the last of his three caps for Sri Lanka in 2018, but did take a hat-trick on his one-day international debut against Bangladesh.

Sri Lanka Cricket said his ban begins immediately and will remain in place until a full inquiry is conducted.

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Valeya set to thrive at Prix des Sardiniers in step up to 12 furlongs

Valeya set to thrive at Prix des Sardiniers with patient approach by Alain de Royer-Dupre paying off

  • Prix des Sardiniers meeting is set to be held at Dieppe, France, on Tuesday
  • Alain de Royer-Dupre trained filly Valeya is relishing step up to 12 furlongs 
  •  Cut in the ground at Dieppe should benefit her and jockey Nicolas Larenaudie

Valeya (12.10) appears to be thriving from a typically patient approach by connections who have found a good stepping stone for their progressive filly in the Prix des Sardiniers at Dieppe on Tuesday.

Septuagenarian trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, who has trained more than 1,000 winners in a stellar career stretching back five decades, perhaps isn’t the force he once was but the likes of grand stayer Vazirabad and 2019 Prix Saint-Alary winner have kept his name in lights in recent campaigns.

In Valeya, the Chantilly-based trainer saddles a filly that looked to relish the combination of a step up to 12 furlongs and a switch to aggressive tactics at Compiegne back in March.

Valeya, trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre (L) will be a favourite to watch at Prix des Sardiniers

The grey daughter of Mastercraftsman was sent to the head of affairs early in proceedings by Christophe Soumillon from which point the duo set a steady gallop before seeing off their rivals, one by one, in the straight with the Belgian rider keen to utilise the favourable stands’ side rail.

The cut in the ground at Dieppe should play to the strengths of the selection who is reunited with jockey Nicolas Larenaudie for the first time since they combined to finish third at Chantilly in mid February.

Larenaudie, who has ridden four winners for the de Royer-Dupre operation in an embryonic career, may well find himself aboard a filly which has improved significantly since that initial outing and the duo are fancied to see off Pretorio and the Soumillon-ridden veteran Golden Wood.

The last-named makes the 41st start of a career that has seen him win narrowly twice in Meydan under Soumillon which may explain the reason the Belgian is keen to retain the association.




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Larson gets 1st Outlaws win since NASCAR firing

Fired NASCAR star Kyle Larson won the World of Outlaws race Saturday night in Peavley, Missouri, a day after finishing second behind brother-in-law Brad Sweet in the first Sprint Car event with live fans in the dirt series’ return from a coronavirus pandemic suspension.

With attendance limited and other safety measures in place at Federated Auto Parts I-55 Raceway, Larson edged Brent Marks by 0.794 seconds — with Sweet third in the 40-lap feature on the one-third mile oval.

Larson has returned to dirt racing after losing his NASCAR Cup ride with Chip Ganassi Racing for using a racial slur during an online race.

“This win means so much personally. I can’t even describe it,” Larson said.

Larson earned $20,000 for his ninth career series victory as part of the two-state Drydene Double Down Invitational, with Ricky Thornton Jr. also getting $20,000 for his Late Model victory at Jackson Motorplex in Minnesota in a race run without fans at the track.

The Sprint Car series returned last week at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa for a race run without fans. The series also plans to limit attendance next week for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader at Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, Missouri.

On Friday night in the Peavley opener, Sweet edged Larson by 0.189 seconds in the 30-lap feature. In qualifying Friday, Larson became the first Sprint Car driver to break 10 seconds at the track, turning a lap in 9.995.

On Friday at Jackson, Canadian Ricky Weiss won in the series’ return from the pandemic break.

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Sunday's Tips

Call The Wind can prove the star attraction in the Prix de Barbeville at Deauville on Sunday, according to Nick Grant.

A small but select field has been assembled for the Group Three contest over a mile and seven furlongs, with preference for Freddy Head’s smart stayer.

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Royal Ascot reveal revamped schedule of 36 races over five days

Royal Ascot organisers reveal revamped schedule of 36 races over five days to be held behind closed doors subject to government approval

  • Racing In Britain set to return on June 1 amid government plan to exit lockdown
  • Royal Ascot will remain a five-day meeting and take place behind closed doors
  • The meeting is set for June 16 to June 20, subject to government approval 
  • There will be seven races on the first four days, with eight on the final day

Royal Ascot will have six additional races added to its originally scheduled programme as it plans to stage a bumper 2020 meeting in an unprecedented year.

The extra races to maximise running opportunities include ‘Silver’ versions of both Wokingham Stakes and Royal Hunt Cup. They are keystone handicaps which traditionally attract over 25 starters, although runner limits have yet to be finalised with the BHA.

There will be seven races for the first four days with a blockbusting eight-race card on the Saturday.

Royal Ascot set to start on June 16 and five-day meeting will take place behind closed doors

The Buckingham Palace Handicap, lost from the fixture in 2015, will be the opening race at the meeting on Tuesday 16 June.

The Queen has also given her permission for the names of three one-off handicaps.

They are the mile and three-quarter Copper Horse Handicap named after a stature of King George III on horseback in Windsor Great Park, the 10-furlong Golden Gates Handicap which marks the ceremonial entrance point for the Royal Procession at the end of the straight mile and the five-furlong Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap named after the Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

The Queen will not be able to make her traditional appearance this year due to coronavirus

Britain’s most popular race meeting usually attracts around 300,000 visitors over five days

Ascot spokesman Nick Smith said: ‘We are of course taking nothing for granted in terms of government’s final approval to permit behind closed doors sporting events from June 1 but we hope these extra opportunities will be welcomed by horsemen, broadcasters and the public at home.’

As expected there is a reshuffling of the race order. The St James’s Palace Stakes, traditionally run in the opening day, and Coronation Stakes, usually part of Friday’s programme, revert to the Saturday to maximise the time between them and the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on June 6 and 7.

Four of the six two-year-old races will be staged on Friday and Saturday while King Edward VII Stakes and Ribblesdale Stakes become key trials for the Derby and Oaks (both scheduled for July 4).

Tuesday

Buckingham Palace Handicap (7f, 3yo+)

Queen Anne Stakes (1m, Group One, 4yo+)

Ribblesdale Stakes (1 1/2m, Group Two, 3yo fillies)

King Edward VII Stakes (1 1/2m, Group Two, 3yo colts & geldings)

King’s Stand Stakes (5f, Group One, 3yo+)

Duke of Cambridge Stakes (1m, Group Two, 4yo+ fillies and mares)

Ascot Stakes Handicap (2 1/2m, 4yo+)

Wednesday

Silver Royal Hunt Cup Handicap (1m, 3yo+)

Hampton Court Stakes (10f, Group Three, 3yo)

King George V Handicap (1 1/2m, 3yo)

Prince of Wales’s Stakes (10f, Group One, 4yo+)

Royal Hunt Cup Handicap (1m, 3yo+)

Windsor Castle Stakes (5f, Listed, 2yo)

Copper Horse Handicap (1 3/4m, 4yo+)

Thursday

Golden Gates Handicap (10f, 3yo)

Wolferton Stakes (10f, Listed, 4yo+)

Jersey Stakes (7f, Group Three, 3yo)

Chesham Stakes (7f, Listed, 2yo)

Gold Cup (2 1/2m, Group One, 4yo+)

Britannia Handicap (1m, 3yo colts & geldings)

Sandringham Handicap (1m, 3yo, fillies)

Friday

Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap (5f, 3yo)

Albany Stakes (6f, Group Three, 2yo fillies)

Norfolk Stakes (5f, Group Two, 2yo)

Hardwicke Stakes (1 1/2m, Group Two, 4yo+)

Commonwealth Cup (6f, Group One, 3yo colts & fillies)

Queen’s Vase (1 3/4m, Group Two, 3yo)

Duke of Edinburgh Handicap (1 1/2m, 3yo+)

Saturday

Silver Wokingham Handicap (6f, 3yo+)

Queen Mary Stakes (5f, Group Two, 2yo fillies)

Coronation Stakes (1m, Group One, 3yo fillies)

Coventry Stakes (6f, Group Two, 2yo)

St James’s Palace Stakes (1m, Group One, 3yo colts)

Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6f, Group One, 4yo+)

Wokingham Handicap (6f, 3yo+)

Queen Alexandra Stakes (2 3/4m, Conditions, 4yo+)




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Bransgrove speaks to investors as he looks to sell Hampshire shares

Hampshire chief Rod Bransgrove ready to sell up after 20 years in charge and pumping pumping £15m of his own money into Ageas Bowl as he insists: ‘I have done all that I promised’

  • Rod Bransgrove plans to sell some of his shares in Hampshire before September
  • The chairman has pumped £15million into the club over the last 20 years 
  • The 69-year-old says there are interested investors in India, Asia and France
  • The Ageas Bowl is to become one of two venues to host safe cricket this summer

Rod Bransgrove, the man who saved Hampshire from insolvency and then bankrolled them for 20 years, is looking to sell some of his shares in the club before he turns 70 in September.

Bransgrove has pumped £15million of his own money into the Ageas Bowl, which is one of two grounds — alongside Old Trafford — set to share the hosting of six Tests and three Twenty20s against West Indies and Pakistan this summer.

‘A number of potential investors have been interested in acquiring part of the business,’ he told The Cricketer magazine for their June edition.

Hampshire chairman Rod Bransgrove (left) is looking to sell some of his shares in the club

‘This interest has come from India, Asia and France. If we do sell any new shares in the company, these will be only for new investors and I doubt that I shall see a return on my shareholding during my lifetime.’

Having been appointed chairman in 2000, he is looking to relinquish his autonomy and assume a lower profile in the belief his work at the ground is complete — short of staging an elusive Ashes Test, which the venue keeps missing out on to his bafflement.

‘My job is finished as I have done all that I promised,’ added Bransgrove. ‘We have built a business around Hampshire Cricket so the club won’t be threatened and we have attracted some amazing players.’

The Ageas Bowl is set to become one of two confirmed venues to host safe cricket this summer

Hampshire have hosted just three Tests, although they are at the forefront of the ECB’s plans to deliver bio-secure cricket, a factor that may see them looked upon more favourably in the future.

Southampton and Manchester are set to be confirmed as the two venues to stage safe cricket this summer. The counties who paid £1million apiece to be hosts on the original 2020 itinerary will have their deposits returned.

Sportsmail believes all newly arranged fixtures will be ‘cost neutral’ meaning hosts will neither make or lose money from them. However, there is likely to be a profit in the fees paid for exclusive use of the hotels on the two sites.




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BHA confident of return to action in Britain despite French setback

‘We are making good progress as we prepare for June 1’: BHA confident of racing resumption in Britain despite French suffering shock setback

  • Fench racing in turmoil after the sport was suddenly halted in its key regions
  • The French government stopped any racing in Paris and the north on Tuesday
  • There will be no racing at least until the next review of the transition on June 2
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The BHA have said the fact French racing has been forced to close tracks in Paris and in the east of the country should have no ramifications for the resumption of racing in Britain.

Racing’s ruling body has steered clear of using overseas jurisdictions whose racing has either continued or resumed as evidence as to why British racing should return.

A spokesman for the BHA said: ‘Our proposal has always been that racing will be ready to return safely in Britain as soon as the UK Government permits the resumption of sporting events.

There will be no more racing at Longchamp, where the sport resumed in France on May 11

‘Our plans are being developed with officials from Public Health England and will be in line with UK government policy. We are making good progress as we prepare for a resumption on June 1.’

Final Government approval for the return of British racing has yet to be received.

Racing returned in France on May 11 at Longchamp but the French Government backtracked when announcing on Tuesday that no track inside Red Zones of high COVID-19 infections rates can now race.

Today’s scheduled meeting at Longchamp has been switched to Deauville on the Normandy coast.

French racing was thrown into chaos on Tuesday after being told to shut down its Paris tracks




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