SPORTS AGENDA: Tim Henman and family play on empty centre court

Wimbledon may have been cancelled this year but the famous Centre Court was in use last week.

In an unprecedented move, new All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt allowed ordinary members the chance to have a hit on the hallowed turf.

Centre and No 1, usually out of bounds for all but Wimbledon stars, were available for members to book and play on all week.

In an unprecedented move, new All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt allowed ordinary members the chance to play on the hallowed Centre Court

Among those taking advantage was former British No 1 Tim Henman, 45, who played doubles with his father and mother, Tony and Jane.

They became familiar faces to millions in the competitors’ box during their son’s career, but had never before had a chance to hit on the famous court.

Limited help for the EFL? 

Thrifty Premier League clubs will point to the recent announcement of proposed redundancies at Arsenal as justification to ignore calls to provide further financial assistance to their counterparts in the EFL.

The top flight have agreed to advance solidarity payments, but there is scepticism over any additional help, with a feeling that the overspend on wages at many Championship clubs — rather than the Covid crisis — has got them into such a mess.

Journalists left unimpressed 

Sky Sports have won few friends among the media following the cancellation of Sunday Supplement. 

The broadcaster announced last week that the long-running show would not return next season, blaming a tight schedule because of an increased volume of fixtures and the production issues that brings.

Several journalists are said to be disappointed by Sky Sports' axing of Sunday Supplement

Several journalists are said to be disappointed by Sky Sports’ axing of Sunday Supplement

Given the show aired on Sunday morning, the explanation has not gone down well with many of those who appeared. Journalists who have featured since football was suspended did so for no fee on the understanding they were helping out and would be paid when things returned to normal.

‘A lot of goodwill has gone out of the window,’ said one journalist. ‘It’s a strange decision and an even stranger explanation.’

Bob’s Ascot joke that even had the Queen laughing 

Old friends of the late Bob Willis travelled from far and wide last week to the Oval for the socially distanced launch of a book about his life. 

Among the tales in Bob Willis: A Cricketer and a Gentleman is one about when he introduced the Queen to the teams during the 1982 Test against India at Lord’s. 

Looking at the crowd, Her Majesty asked why all the people were not at work. This met with a typically dry Willis response: ‘You wouldn’t be saying that if this was Ascot, Ma’am.’

Warne’s spin on lockdown dash 

Viewers of Sky’s coverage of England versus Pakistan may have been surprised to hear the Antipodean tones of Shane Warne.

The former Australia spinner hails from Melbourne, which is in lockdown because it is at the epicentre of Australia’s new Covid-19 outbreak. Melburnians have been told that they can only leave their houses for essential trips, such as food shopping or daily exercise.

Not Shane, who has flown 12,000 miles to commentate on a number of cricket matches, starting at Old Trafford with one that does not involve his homeland.

Shane Warne has escaped Melbourne lockdown rules to commentate on England cricket

Shane Warne has escaped Melbourne lockdown rules to commentate on England cricket

Warne attempted to justify his trip to local broadcaster Triple M. ‘I’ve got over to London because I’ve been working with Sky over here for the last 11 years on the cricket and it’s my job,’ he said.

The 50-year-old added that he had written to the Australian government and obtained permission for the trip before stating his surprise at how quiet the airport was.

Funny, that.

Test cricket viewing figures on the up

Those who fear for the future of Test cricket may be encouraged by Sky’s viewing figures. 

The recent visit of the West Indies was the highest-rated series of all time on Sky Sports in terms of average viewing while Saturday’s thrilling conclusion of England v Pakistan saw a peak of more than 1.7million across the main event and cricket channels. 

That is a record non-Ashes peak and the second-highest for Tests on Sky.

Harsh reality of reality TV

A scarcely-believable tale from the world of rugby league. Former Leeds and Bradford enforcer Jamie Peacock is set to appear on reality television hit SAS: Who Dares Wins and has been taking his training for the Channel 4 show very seriously.

Sources disclose the 42-year-old has devised a gruelling programme which sees him head out for a 10km run every four hours for a week. 

The former England and Great Britain captain has been setting his alarm for the middle of the night to ensure he complies with the plan, before heading into the streets. Peacock’s fellow contestants had better beware.

Ex-Leeds and Bradford enforcer Jamie Peacock will feature on TV show SAS: Who Dares Wins

Ex-Leeds and Bradford enforcer Jamie Peacock will feature on TV show SAS: Who Dares Wins

Moans from camera crew with no fans 

The absence of supporters at Old Trafford has been masked by the ‘Lord’s hum’, which this column revealed would be used by Sky.

There were concerns the lack of noise would lead to those watching hearing everything uttered by the players, including sledging. However, it appears during the last Test, one cameraman was heard moaning loudly over the performance of the England team on a number of occasions.

His words wound up the hosts and he was put in his place by an England player, who told the man in no uncertain terms to keep his mouth shut.

In the absence of fan noise, one cameraman was heard moaning about England's performance

In the absence of fan noise, one cameraman was heard moaning about England’s performance

It runs in the family 

The fine sporting tradition of the Cross family continues. Former West Ham, West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City striker David Cross has three children who continue to make their mark. 

Kate plays cricket for England, Bobby is the chairman of the Lancashire Cricket Foundation and Jenny has been looking after the Pakistan cricket side in her role as venue medical manager at Worcester and Derby. 

Jenny, a physio who also works with the England netball team, has been in a biosecure bubble since June 22 but hailed the tourists as a ‘delight’ to work with.

Contributors: Paul Newman, Mike Dickson and Matt Hughes 

About Krystal K. Lindahl

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