Other Sports

Sport in brief: Snooker, Cricket, Formula One

Ding Junhui celebrates after winning the Betway UK Championship at the York Barbican.

Snooker

Former finalist Ding Junhui has confirmed his participation in next month's World Snooker Championships, effectively guaranteeing a full quota of top 16 stars at the tournament.

Ding, the world number 11, withdrew from this month's Coral Tour Championship due to concerns relating to travel and quarantine in the coronavirus pandemic.

However, World Snooker said the 33-year-old, who lost to Mark Selby in the 2016 final, has indicated he will play in the event, which is set to start on July 31 at The Crucible.

Ding's move comes as a number of fellow Chinese stars, including Zhou Yuelong, Xiao Guodong and Zhao Xintong, officially withdrew from the tournament citing ongoing coronavirus-related concerns.

The trio had been due to take part in the qualifying tournament which is set to start on July 21, also in Sheffield.

Yan Bingtao, the only other Chinese player currently in the world's top 16, is based in the UK and will not be affected by travel or quarantine issues.

World Snooker chief Barry Hearn remains hopeful that some fans will be allowed to watch this year's tournament, which will take place amid strict social-distancing regulations.

Ding's decision to withdraw from the Tour Championships saw him replaced by Stephen Maguire, who went on to win the tournament and claim the £250,000 total prize fund.

Cricket

Ben Stokes will captain England for the first time in next week's opening Test against the West Indies, with regular skipper Joe Root taking time out to attend the birth of his second child.

Root's wife Carrie is due to give birth later this week and, with the strict protocols in place to ensure the series takes place in a 'bio-secure' environment, he will need to be isolated from the group for at least a week on his return from hospital.

That means Stokes will be the man to lead the team out at the Ageas Bowl next Wednesday, having never before taken the reins in first-class cricket.

Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, who serves as vice-captain to Eoin Morgan in the limited-overs side and has also been Root's deputy in the past, will be Stokes' second-in-command.

Stokes and Buttler will both be involved in a three-day internal match which begins in Southampton on Wednesday morning, with Root heading north for Sheffield to link up with his family.

Formula One

Lando Norris says a number of Formula One drivers have discussed "taking a knee" at the first race of the season in Austria on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton, the sport's six-time world champion, has been vocal about the Black Lives Matter movement, attending an anti-racism march in London earlier this month.

Hamilton's Mercedes team announced on Monday that they will adopt a black livery on their cars this year in the fight against inequality.

Premier League players have shown their support for the BLM movement by taking a knee before kick-off - and F1 drivers could choreograph a similar show of solidarity on the grid on Sunday.

"Some of the drivers have already been speaking [about taking a knee]," Norris told the PA news agency. "If we are going to do it, we should all do it as a grid.

"It will be discussed following the drivers' briefing with the Grand Prix Drivers' Association on Friday. We will do whatever we can to show that we care and respect everyone. We will do what is right when the time comes."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Other Sports