Listen: Full script of Episode 145 of Spodcast where we discuss Chris Gayle's retirement from ODI cricket and more

Welcome to Spodcast, where we cover the big sports headlines of the day. Today, we discuss Chris Gayle's announcement of retirement from ODI cricket after 2019 World Cup, Real Madrid's shock loss to Girona in LaLiga and other news stories.

FP Sports February 18, 2019 12:16:51 IST
Listen: Full script of Episode 145 of Spodcast where we discuss Chris Gayle's retirement from ODI cricket and more

Welcome to Spodcast. Let’s look at the big sports headlines for today.

We start with some cricket news today. The West Indies cricket board has announced that flamboyant West Indian batsman Chris Gayle will retire from ODI cricket after the 2019 World Cup.

Gayle, who is 39-year-old, 39-year-old opener, has scored 9,727 runs from 284 ODIs and will play his first ODI since July 2018 against England on Wednesday. He requires 677 runs to go past the great Brian Lara as the West Indies' all-time record ODI run scorer, a feat he will be hoping to achieve at his fifth World Cup. Since his debut in 1999, Gayle has 23 ODI hundreds, a record for West Indies cricket. That list also includes the first ever World Cup double century, scored against Zimbabwe four years ago.

Over the last few years, Gayle has fashioned himself as something of a T20 specialist. His last Test appearance was way back in 2014. His most recent assignment was the Bangladesh Premier League that was played earlier this month.

West Indies and England face off in a five-match ODI series starting Wednesday. The 2019 World Cup starts on 30 May in England.

The Pulwama attack has led to some consequences even in Indian cricket. The Punjab Cricket Association removed photographs of Pakistani cricketers from various points inside the Mohali stadium in what they labeled a "humble step" to show solidarity with the families of the CRPF personnel killed in the terrorist attack.

PCA treasurer Ajay Tyagi said the decision was taken at a meeting of the cricket body's office bearers on Sunday. Tyagi explained, “As a humble step, the PCA has decided to show its solidarity with the families of martyrs of the Pulwama attack. There is so much anger in the nation against the heinous attack and PCA is no different in this.” He added that there are around 15 portraits of Pakistani cricketers inside the stadium at various points including the galleries, long room, reception and 'hall of fame' area. The list Pakistani cricketers whose photographs have been removed from the PCA includes current Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Shahid Afridi, Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram.

India captain Virat Kohli continues to rule the latest ICC rankings while Chesteshwar Pujara managed to hold onto third place in the latest Test rankings. Sri Lankan batsman Kusal Perera, who helped his side achieve a historic win in South Africa, made a quantum leap of 58 places.

Kohli leads the chart with 992 rating points while Zealand skipper Kane Williamson is in second place with 897 point. Pujara, with 881 points, rounds off the top three. Aside from Kohli and Pujara, no other Indian features in the top 10 list. Kusal Perera, the left-handed Sri Lankan, jumped from the 98th rank to a career-best 40 after 15 Tests. He scored 51 and an unbeaten 153 that guided his team to an improbable win, partnering in the highest ever unbroken 10th wicket stand in a winning cause in first-class cricket. He added 78 runs for the last wicket with Vishal Fernando (who was 6 not out) to overtake an 83-year record set by the Australians against Madras in February 1936.

In the bowlers' rankings, Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins overtook Kagiso Rabada to grab the top spot. Cummins is the first bowler from his country to grab pole position since Glenn McGrath in February 2006. He is followed by England's James Anderson and Rabada of South Africa. Ravindra Jadeja is in fifth place with 794 points. Jadeja also features in the all-rounders' list at the third position ahead of West Indies' Jason Holder and Shakib-Al Hasan.

Tennis news now. Women’s world no. 1 Naomi Osaka remarked that she would not prioritise "success over happiness" after some debate over the surprise sacking of her coach. Osaka heads into the Dubai Championships as top seed for the first time.

The US and Australian Open champion this week split with coach Sascha Bajin, who led her to a pair of Grand Slam titles as well as the World No 1 ranking over the past year.

The Japanese player explained, “Everyone thinks it was a money-related issue, but it wasn't. That's one of the most hurtful things I've ever heard. I travel with everyone on my team, I see them more than my family. I would never do that to them. I think my reason is I wouldn't put success over my happiness — that's my main thing.”

She added, “I'm not going to say anything bad about him (Bajin), I'm really grateful for all the things that he's done...If anything, you would have to see or ask him.”

21-year-old Osaka claimed there were rumblings of discontent in the arrangement during the Australian Open this year. She said, “It was kind of brewing in Australia. I think some people could see that if they saw how we interacted. I would not want to split on really bad terms; he is the person who made me open up more to people. I didn't want it to be really, like, hard stopping.”

She confirmed her decision was final and she had moved on. Osaka said, “I felt really happy. I'm surrounded by people that genuinely care. They have such positive energy. I'm really grateful for everyone that's around me at this time.”

Football update now, and some bad news for Real Madrid fans. Real Madrid's title hopes were dashed last night after their shock defeat to Girona left them nine points behind Barcelona. Girona came from behind to pull off a shock 2-1 victory.

Girona had not won in 13 matches and looked on course for a seventh straight defeat. Casemiro headed a dominant Madrid ahead in the first half. But complacency set in, and Girona seized the moment - Cristhian Stuani scored a penalty and Portu nodded in at the back post, leaving the European champions scrapping even for a point before Sergio Ramos was sent off in the 90th minute.

Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari said, “It's a shame. We drop points and our rivals won. It is a pity because we were on a great run. Is the league over? Not at all.”

Barcelona still have to go to the Bernabeu later this month but that Clasico will be a lot less nervy now. Their cushion has been extended to nine points over Real, with Atletico jumping back above them into second, seven points from the top.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova came to the defence of Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya ahead of this week's hearing on proposed rules that aim to restrict testosterone levels in female athletes. Semenya is a three-time world champion and an 800m gold medalist at both the London and Rio Olympic Games.

The International Association of Athletics Federations, or the IAAF, has proposed rules that would force so-called "hyperandrogenic" athletes or those with "differences of sexual development" to medically lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount. The association claims such a change would promote fairer competition between all female athletes.

South African middle-distance star Semenya, the most high-profile athlete who would be affected by such an alteration to the rule book, is challenging the legality of the proposal in a case that will be heard at the Court of Arbitration in Lausanne, Switzerland starting today. The Court is expected to hold a five-day hearing into Semenya’s appeal.

A Firstpost report on the issue noted that from stripping athletes and examining genitalia to chromosome tests, karyotyping, buccal smear tests to hyperandrogenism regulations to the present DSD (Differences of Sex Development) rules, the process of gender verification has evolved in an effort to find a less intrusive, more acceptable form of verification to determine sex. It has been a delicate issue and remains one but the IAAF and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other international federations are determined to find a way out. Confidentiality rules were readily flouted by the Sports Authority of India in the Dutee Chand case but that eventually proved a blessing in disguise for not only the Odisha athlete but also for dozens of other hyperandrogenic athletes across the world.

Both Chand and Semenya have often said they were born with what their advantages were perceived to be, and they would not be prepared to change. Semenya reportedly went through a hormone suppression therapy and her timings slowed down to an extent she was no longer a force in the 800 metres, the event she had won in the World Championships in 2009 in an awe-inspiring 1:55.45, triggering a debate that led to her gender verification and subsequent absence for a period when she was barred.

Significantly, the new changes if enforced, would only apply to female athletes competing in distances from 400 metres to a mile. This was highlighted by 18-time Grand Slam single champion Navratilova in her newspaper column. Navratilova wrote, “Leaving out sprints and longer distances seems to me to be a clear case of discrimination by targeting Semenya...And can it be right to order athletes to take medication? What if the long-term effects proved harmful? Semenya's case will come up tomorrow before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It is expected to last a week and the outcome is expected by 29 March. I hope she wins.”

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