The sporting week ahead (03/06/12)

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The Independent Online


This is a candidate for the quietest sporting Sunday of the year. No Test cricket, no grand prix, only the dregs of the England friendly to pore over.


Ole, ole, ole. After 10 years away from tournaments the Irish are on the march again, this time under the aegis of a septuagenarian Italian. Giovanni Trapattoni oversees the Republic's final warm-up against Hungary in Budapest today.


The rugby union season ended last Wednesday. Six days later the summer season starts with Scotland facing Australia in the first Test of their tour to the Southern Hemisphere.


New manager, but will it be same old England at Euro 2012? Today Roy Hodgson's side depart from Luton for the charms of Krakow. Quite why the Football Association decided to base them 822 miles away from where they will play most of their games remains a mystery. It was always a mad plan, and will no doubt be unmasked as such over the next couple of weeks.


Nothing is more guaranteed to send England's cricket team into a collective funk than the sight of a mystery spinner licking his fingers. Today we should catch first sight of Sunil Narine in a Test setting at Edgbaston. The 24-year-old off-spinner has already taken 14 wickets in eight ODIs and prospered in the IPL. Now is his moment: you can almost hear England's timbers rattling.


And so to Poland and Euro 2012. There comes a time when you must forget all the talk of rip-offs and racists and think about the football. All very well in theory but Poland v Greece and Russia v Czech Republic are not most people's ideas of opening-day show-stoppers. It could be worse, England could be playing, but for that we must wait until next week. I predict it will be short and not sweet: out at the group stages. There we are, said it.


The day when the serious football starts with Holland v Denmark and Germany v Portugal setting the benchmark. Hodgson will still be talking a good game. In rugby, Stuart Lancaster's England will do well to keep the score down when they rub up against the Springboks in the First Test in Durban. Wales stand more chance against Australia than Ireland in New Zealand.