ROUND-UP: Willis dies at 70; Harden’s 50 in vain; Kohli back at #1; and South Korea’s food worries


International Round-up: Former England captain Bob Willis dies at 70; James Harden’s dunk incorrectly ruled out; Virat Kohli back at number one; UEFA announces new playoff system for 2022 World Cup qualifiers; and South Korea to ship own food to Tokyo Games

CRICKET: Former England captain Bob Willis dies at 70

Former England captain Bob Willis has died at the age of 70.

The fast bowler took 325 wickets in 90 Tests from 1971 to 1984, claiming a career-best 8-43 to help England to a famous win over Australia at Headingley in the 1981 Ashes.

He captained England in 18 Tests and 29 one-day internationals before his retirement from all forms of cricket in 1984. In a statement, Willis’ family said he had died “after a long illness”.

“We are heartbroken to lose our beloved Bob, who was an incredible husband, father, brother and grandfather,” the statement continued. “He made a huge impact on everybody he knew and we will miss him terribly.”

Willis subsequently worked as a summariser on BBC TV before joining Sky Sports as a commentator in 1991. He continued to work for Sky and was part of their coverage of this summer’s Ashes series. (BBC Sport)

James Harden

BASKETBALL: James Harden’s dunk incorrectly ruled

The Houston Rockets suffered a controversial 135-133 defeat by the San Antonio Spurs in Texas after a James Harden dunk was incorrectly ruled out.

Officials judged the ball had bounced out of the basket for Harden’s breakaway two-pointer in the fourth quarter, with the Rockets ahead 102-89.

The home side then blew a 10-point lead with four minutes of normal time to play to lose after double overtime. NBA referee James Capers later said Harden’s dunk “did clear the net”.

The crew chief added: “We have looked at the play and Harden dunked it so hard that the net carried back over the rim a second time and should have been a successful field goal.”

At the time, the Rockets protested on the sidelines, but failed to call for a video review of the play within the 30-second window allowed. It meant Harden’s 50-point personal tally was in vain. (BBC Sport)

Virat Kohli

CRICKET: Virat Kohli back at number one in Tests

The baton of No. 1 Test batsman in the world has changed hands between Virat Kohli and Steven Smith again, with Kohli surpassing Smith following a century in his team’s inaugural day-night Test, against Bangladesh in Kolkata.

While Kohli led the Indian batting effort, Smith failed to go past 36 in Australia’s home Tests against Pakistan, resulting in the swap at the top.

The good news for Australia, though, is that David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne, who were in red-hot form against Pakistan, moved up to No. 5 and No. 8 respectively. (ESPNCricinfo)

FOOTBALL: New playoff system for 2022 World Cup qualifiers

UEFA is to introduce a new-look playoff system for its 2022 World Cup qualifying competition which will avoid the need to compare results of teams in different groups.

UEFA said the 55 teams, who will be battling for 13 places at the tournament in Qatar, will be divided into 10 groups.

The 10 group winners will qualify directly for the World Cup, while the runners-up will go into the playoffs along with two more teams from the 2020-21 Nations League.

Those 12 teams will then be divided into three paths, with a one-leg semi-final and a one-leg final in each path to decide the remaining three European finalists.

In the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, there were nine groups where the winners qualified directly and the eight best runners-up went into four two-leg playoffs. (Reuters)

TOKYO GAMES: South Korea to ship own food to Tokyo Games

South Korea’s Olympic committee plans to buy radiation detectors and ship homegrown ingredients to Japan for its athletes at the Tokyo Games because of worries local food may be contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Japan has posted data to show the country is safe from Fukushima radiation and many countries have lifted Fukushima-related food restrictions.

The Korea Sports & Olympic Committee (KSOC) plans to ship red pepper paste, a key ingredient in Korean dishes, and other foods, and check for radiation in meat and vegetables that can only be sourced locally due to stringent quarantine rules, a KSOC meals plan report shows.

“Apparently, ingredients and food will be transported from South Korea as much as possible, possibly including canned food,” Shin Dong-keun, a ruling Democratic Party member of the parliamentary sports committee who was recently briefed by KSOC, told Reuters in an interview.

“For this Olympic games, food is our team’s main focus so they can provide safe meals for the athletes to erase radiation worries, as opposed to in the past, food was meant to play the supplementary role of helping with their morale.” (Reuters)

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