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It is a quirk of the women’s game – one that does not reflect well on domestic cricket – that England’s Kenneth Faried Youth Jersey left-arm spinner Alex Hartley, having spent four seasons playing for Middlesex before returning to her home county Lancashire this summer, has never played at Lord’s. In fact, only in her last two seasons at the club were the Middlesex Women allowed to use the indoor school, situated next to the Nursery Ground, and they have never trained on the grass wickets.The only chance she had to have a good look around Lord’s came about 10 years ago, when she accompanied her father on a tour of the ground. With England training here before their sold-out final against India on Sunday, the 23-year-old took the chance to take in her surroundings on Thursday.“I stood out there in the middle and thought: ‘Oh no – you’ve got to be kidding! That’s a lot of seats.” Nerves quickly turned to excitement, then from excitement to the sort of defiance that has seen Hartley emerge as one of the players of the tournament: a quality, left-arm orthodox bowler who, in a tournament of big scores, has gone at under four an over. She cannot wait to play here for the first time.“We’ve sold it out,” she says. “It’s proof that people are taking women’s cricket seriously, no matter the result on Sunday. We’ve done the world of good for English cricket. Who knows what will happen in the future.” Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Winfield and Fran Wilson are three others who have grafted to get to where they are now – all three deserving of their positions in England’s batting line-up. Hartley’s rise, though, has been the most punchy.A year ago she was a good spin bowler who had work to do on her batting and bowling. She would get tweets telling her as much.Now, between flinging herself around at fine-leg, saving boundary after boundary, she is getting the best players in the world out. Meg Lanning, Suzie Bates, and Sophie Devine are three of eight who have fallen to her this World Cup.“I got told as a kid I’d never spin a ball, yet I’m one of the only left-arm spinners in the world that spins it,” says Hartley in a matter-of-fact manner. “I got told I’d never play for England and I wanted to be like, ‘Up yours, I’ve done it! I’m gonna stay here.’”Hartley is not alone when it comes to avoiding anodyne answers. Take the India captain, Mithali Raj, putting a journalist in his place before the competition had even started, when asked who her favourite male cricketer was. “Do you ask the same question to a male cricketer?” went Raj’s riposte. “Do you ask them who their favourite female cricketer is?”If Authentic Bucks Womens Jersey Twitter on Thursday was anything to go by, there was no need. Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Kapil Dev and countless other greats of the game came out in awe of Harmanpreet Kaur’s unreal knock of 171 not out from 115 balls that stunned the life out of the defending champions, Australia.A few England players watched on while they were in the gym, many tweeting out their own OMGs. Kaur will be playing in the Super League for Surrey Stars, alongside Hartley and Beaumont. Naturally they are both chuffed that this Sunday will be the last time they play against her this summer.The support for both sides has been the most impressive of the tournament over the last month. More than 4,000 packed into Bristol to watch England beat Australia in the group stages while India-Pakistan sold out in Derby the week before. Sunday’s expected crowd of around 27,000 should be a loud, boisterous mix of both.One has to go back to the 1993 World Cup when Lord’s last hosted a women’s World Cup final. England and New Zealand duked it out in skirts, with the hosts triumphing in front of a crowd of 5,000 which, at the time, was the highest for a World Cup match. Aside from the mammoth 80,000 who attended the 1997 final in Kolkata this will be the best attended.Factor in a global TV audience, which so far has reached in excess of 50 million, and an expected global viewership 80% greater than the 2013 edition, and this will be the most visible women’s World Cup match. And rightly so. There has never been a better time to watch the two best sides in the world.Chelsea have announced the signing of Álvaro Morata from Real Madrid on a five-year contract. The Spain striker is the Premier League champions’ third major signing of the summer, following the arrival of Antonio Rüdiger from Roma and Tiemoué Bakayoko from Monaco and reportedly costs in the region of £58m.“I am so happy to be here. It’s an incredible emotion to be part of this big club,” said Morata, 24. “I am looking to work Authentic Chris Webber Womens Jersey hard, score as many goals as I can and to win as many trophies as possible.”Morata is expected to be a direct replacement for his compatriot Diego Costa, who has been told by the manager, Antonio Conte, that he no longer has a future at the club and is expected shortly to join Atlético Madrid, from whom he moved to Chelsea in July 2014 for £32m.“Concerning the expenses related to the president office in Taipei, please note that yearly expenditures do not exceed 200,000 Swiss francs and all costs, approved by the Aiba executive committee, are meant to cover the administrative expenses, travel and accommodations and activities related to his position.”Earlier this month Terry Smith, the Aiba Welsh executive committee member who had written to president Wu and other senior members of Aiba to demand answers to some of the concerns raised by Garea, was removed. In a letter in June, Smith had urged Wu to clarify a number of issues, saying: “The content of the finance director’s letter to EC members have given me great concern for the future of Aiba because it implies there may be serious deficiencies or irregularities in finance and governance.”Wu responded by saying a full financial report would be provided to executive committee members when they meet in Moscow on Monday and he had commissioned a review to improve Aiba’s corporate governance.Shortly afterwards Smith was removed from Aiba’s executive committee – with Wu claiming it was because he was no longer an honorary member of Welsh Boxing. Others, however, believe Wu wanted to see a vocal critic out of the way. Smith immediately took Aiba to a Swiss court and earlier this week was able to overturn the decision.Aiba HQ focuses heavily on presidential PR management. I believe the management culture of the organisation is neither inclusive nor transparent and needs reforms.”In response an Aiba spokesperson told the Guardian: “President Wu Ching-kuo does not receive any remuneration in respect of his function as he has accepted to handle this important position on a volunteering basis. Aiba has 2001 national federations affiliated and its president travels more than 200 days per year to meet our members and attend boxing events.Antonio Conte has finally put pen to paper on a new contract at Chelsea, whom he steered to the Premier League title in his first year in English football, to ease any immediate concerns over his future, though the Italian has not extended his commitment to the club beyond the next two years.Chelsea confirmed the deal as the manager and his squad left for Beijing and a three-match pre-season tour of China and Singapore, on Tuesday evening with Conte describing the team’s achievements last year as “something amazing” in the club’s statement. The director, Marina Granovskaia, hailed the 47-year-old’s “incredible success” with the new contract reflecting the board’s “belief that he can continue to deliver results both domestically and as we return to European competition in the Champions League”. The hope is they will deflect Milan’s interest in Álvaro Morata to secure the Spain forward from Real Madrid ahead of the new campaign, and still manager to prise Sandro from Juve. But, with Nemanja Matic expected to leave and Eden Hazard currently recovering from ankle surgery, the process of strengthening the team is at a fledgling stage with the start of the title defence only 25 days away.unication and travel fees is out of proportion and wasteful.
Padraig Harrington stands on the 17th fairway at Royal Birkdale, a five wood and the destiny of the 2008 Open in his hands. He strides towards his ball, checks, and then stares intently at the pin. The process is repeated a second time, then a third. Given the high stakes – ripping a 272-yard shot over a praetorian guard of bunkers and on to the narrowest of greens would be dicey enough without the pressure of leading by two shots on the penultimate hole – he needs to be sure.But as he sets his stance, the BBC’s commentary team fear Harrington’s boldness is veering into recklessness, especially in the 40mph winds lassoing at his trousers.“Perhaps he doesn’t know where he is?” suggests Ken Brown. “He’s two Dave Keon Womens Jersey ahead. This is a bit of a risk into this wind, don’t you think?”Then Peter Alliss pipes up. “I would have thought so. He is aiming into the grandstand virtually on the left,” he says. “Two shots ahead …”Another former pro, Wayne Grady, spots a further problem: “There’s danger here on the right too.”But Harrington knows his playing partner Greg Norman, who is three behind, has a chance of an eagle on the par-five 17th. Understandably he wants to win this thing himself, not leave it on the clubs of others.He sets. He strikes. The contact is perfect – so perfect his caddie shouts “great shot” while the ball is in the air, something he does once in a blue moon – and as it lands off the bank and rolls tenderly to within four feet of the flag, Birkdale bellows its approval.Meanwhile in the living room of Harrington’s coach, Bob Torrance, the phone starts to ring. “Dad,” says his son Sam, the former Ryder Cup player and captain. “I have just seen the best golf shot of my life.”Nine years on, Harrington remembers every microsecond like it happened yesterday. “I was facing all the trouble in the world on that shot but I was feeling bulletproof,” he says. “I had played well all day, I had swung the club well. And the five wood was my favourite club so I was extremely confident.”The rest is history. Harrington sank his eagle putt and his rivals’ hopes, to claim his second successive Claret Jug, four shots clear of Ian Poulter in second.Padraig Harrington with the Claret Jug in 2008. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images This week Birkdale hosts the Open for the first time since Harrington’s glorious triumph. Yet Crockett Gillmore Authentic Jersey in the intervening years the landscape for golf has changed, at least in Britain. The way viewers consume all sports – frequently on the go rather than on the sofa – is shorter and snappier. Participation levels and viewing figures for golf in the UK are on the slide. Even those in charge accept they need to attract a younger, more diverse audience and find a way to retain people whose work and family commitments mean they are not able to spend four hours on a course.If there is an edge anywhere, McIlroy said, it may be in “the mental side of the game and being maybe a little bit better in that aspect than the rest of the guys”. This, he explained, “is really about knowing yourself and knowing what works for you and what thoughts work and what techniques work”. This rings true. Especially at the Open. In the decade since Woods last won a major, the average age of the Open champion has been 37.During that time, McIlroy and Louis Oosthuizen were the only players under 30 to win the Claret Jug. The rest – Padraig Harrington, Stewart Cink, Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, and Henrik Stenson – were all in their late 30s or early 40s.So if you are looking for likely winners, you could start by skimming through the players’ DOBs. But then, it is only a theory. And the day before the tournament starts, theories are a lot easier to come by in Birkdale than tickets, and a deal cheaper too. Almost everyone here has got one, about how the wet ground will give the advantage to the long-hitters, or that the course suits those who can shape the ball left to right, or the players willing to compromise their swing to keep it low beneath the wind. On Wednesday, the storm finally broke around 6pm. We will need to wait a while longer yet to see which is right, and who is the winner.A bullish Rory McIlroy has insisted his Open Championship prospects have been understated, including by bookmakers, with the four-times major winner adamant he can rip up the form book.McIlroy begins his pursuit of a second Open after a run of three missed cuts in four events. Two of them, at the Irish and Scottish Open tournaments, came in his last two starts. An unusual year has seen equipment change and injury, both mitigating factors in his slide to No4 in the world.