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24 Mar 2023, Edition - 2810, Friday

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England’s heaviest Test defeats, the 1981 Fed Cup and Haneen Zreika

The Guardian


1) England receiving a Test match cricket horsing will be familiar to those of a certain age, so at the risk of inspiring PTSD, here are some more. Their heaviest defeat in terms of runs to West Indies was in 1976 at Old Trafford, the Test remembered for Brian Close being peppered by the quick bowlers and for Gordon Greenidge scoring centuries in both innings as the tourists won by 425 runs. Brisbane hasn’t been a happy place for England: they haven’t won there since 1986, lost by 381 runs in 2013, by 277 runs when Ricky Ponting starred in 2006 and 384 runs when Matthew Hayden was the destroyer in 2002. Hi Nasser! 2015 at Lord’s was a weird game: despite England winning the series they were mullered by 405 runs. Likewise at Centurion in 2016: this was the series of Ben Stokes’s 258 and Stuart Broad’s 5-1, but also the series of losing by 280 runs.

2) What an absolute screamer this was by Konstantinos Mavropanos for the Arsenal Under-23s. Well, probably. Possibly. Actually we have no idea.

3) With England facing France in the Six Nations at the weekend, it’s worth going way, way, way back to, erm, 2015 and the extraordinary final day of that year’s tournament. A George North-inspired Wales handed Italy’s bottoms to them in a 61-20 hammering, taking top spot in the standings, but if Ireland could beat Scotland by 21 points they would usurp the Welsh. They did so with room to spare, running out 40-10 winners at Murrayfield and thus meaning England needed a 26-point victory over France. They gave it a fair dig, ultimately ‘only’ winning 55-35 and the Irish took the title. Still, 221 points over three matches isn’t bad.

4) The New England Patriots won what has been widely regarded as one of the worst Super Bowls of all time last week – at 13-3, it was certainly the lowest scoring. However, the 2000 edition – enticingly billed as a clash of the two best defenses in the game – between the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants is in with a shout, while a thumping is never particularly edifying so the San Francisco 49ers’ 55-10 blowout against the Denver Broncos wasn’t a great watch. Then there was the previous low point for, erm, points, when Washington kept things tight by beating the Miami Dolphins 14-7 in 1973.

5) Great Britain are playing in the Federation Cup this week: they’ve never won, but here’s the closest they came in 1981, one of four times they were runners-up, when Chris Evert beat Sue Barker. Perhaps we’ll never know whether or not Barker was distracted by the future prospect of having to work with Phil Tufnell and Matt Dawson every week.

6) Enjoy Patrick van Aanholt and Andy van der Meyde discussing what it’s like working with Sam Allardyce. Long balls to Chris Samba, trips to Dubai and the admission that, actually, he’s quite a nice guy and a good manager.

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