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This summer of sport will be one to remember

SCENES: The England men’s cricket team lift the ICC Cricket World Cup for the first time

I NEED A REST! The summer of sport is virtually over and has certainly left an indelible mark on me and no doubt millions around the world over the last few months.

The ICC Cricket World Cup, FIFA’s Women’s World Cup, the Vitality Netball World Cup, Wimbledon and track and field’s Anniversary Games have left me breathless and with plenty of memories.
But there is only one place to start – and that’s cricket!

ICC Cricket World Cup final, Lord’s

Sunday, July 14 was the sport’s ultimate ‘I was there’ moment . What right does cricket have to be so bloody exciting?! For so long the sport of gentlemen has been the preserve of the more mature spectator, shall we say.

Well, the World Cup final between England and New Zealand catered for all. The hosts landed the 50-over crown after a staggering, heart-pounding finale.

They won via a super over bowled by their Barbados import Jofra Archer after the regulation fixture somehow ended in a tie. Crazy!
None of us at the so-called ‘Home of Cricket’ even knew the terms of conditions of a super over which added to the drama.

I predicted pre-tournament that Eoin Morgan’s men would land the silverware but I never thought they would do so in the most exciting of finishes.

England might have won but I have to pay tribute to the Kiwis. They battled all match and were undone by some suspect umpiring and a fired-up England – but they will come again.

Hats off to Morgan’s men, though. They might just want to win a global prize with a little less emotional theatre next time round.

Of course the starting point of the World Cup for yours truly was the West Indies thrashing of Pakistan in the tournament’s second match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham on May 31.

It was their only win of a disappointing campaign.

After that seven-wicket win the West Indies failed to deliver save for left-arm bowler Sheldon Cottrell who was invariably his team’s best player.

FIFA Women’s World Cup, France

There was a real buzz as a crowd of 17,600 crammed into the Stade Auguste Delaune in Grenoble when Jamaica made their World Cup bow against Brazil on June 9. The stadium was a sea of yellow and, for me, the Jamaican support outnumbered their South American counterparts on a blisteringly hot day.

The Jamaicans were well beaten 3-0, but to their credit, Hue Menzies’ side battled for the entire match and had goalkeeper Sydney Schneider, 19, to thank for keeping the score down.


Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz made their Fifa Women’s World Cup debut this year

There was a tad more predictability about the winners of this global showcase. Reigning champions United States saw off Neth- erlands in an underwhelming final.

In the semi-finals the uSA beat England who, quite literally, paid the penalty. The Lionesses leader Steph Houghton missed a vital effort from 12 yards late in the match and Phil Neville’s side were reduced to playing in the bronze medal match, which they contrived to lose to Sweden. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Wimbledon

Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff was the star of the fortnight for me. The 15-year-old announced herself on the opening day by beating legend Venus Williams. The girl was a bright future for sure.

As does Simona Halep, who won the ladies’ singles crown by dismantling the icon that is Serena Williams in a display of ruthlessness that Serena has dished out to many an opponent.

Novak Djokovic took the men’s title, and I have to admit that my respect for the Serbian increases with every Grand Slam that he wins.

The standard of tennis when Djokovic and tennis king Roger Federer met (somehow on the same day the Cricket World Cup final) was out of this world.

Two titans of the game went head-to-head and delivered something special. It was a pity, like the cricket, that there had to be a loser.

Netball World Cup, M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool

Top-ranked Australia were beaten by near neighbours New Zealand in the final. England, led superbly by inspirational captain Serena Guthrie, will be kicking themselves having been edged out (sound familiar?) by the Kiwis 47 - 45 in a pulsating semi at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool. Jamaica will also be looking back in possible anger.


Netball World Cup

Having gone into the tournament as the second ranked team they eventually finished fifth with the giant Jhaniele Fowler the standout player for the Sunshine Girls.

A personal highlight was the noisy and colourful supporters of Uganda.

Anniversary Games, London Stadium

Having clocked up the rail and motorway miles this summer, it was nice to do a ‘local’ job in the shape of the Müller-sponsored Anniversary Games at the London Stadium in Stratford, east London. One of my favourite athletes, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, proved that she is still the woman to beat at 100m when she comfortably saw off home favourite Dina Asher-Smith.

Another Jamaican to note with the Athletics World Championships rapidly approaching is Fraser-Pryce’s compatriot Danielle Willliams who looks a good bet to land a podium spot in Doha.

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