Ben Stokes made a surprise decision to declare the England innings towards the end of Day 1 in the opening Test of the Ashes Series against Australia at Edgbaston. Joe Root scored an unbeaten ton in the innings.
In football news, England and France picked up wins in their respective Euro 2024 qualification campaigns Wales suffered a defeat to Armenia. Germany, who will host the continental event next year, lost to Poland in a friendly to extend their dismal run since their early exit at the 2022 World Cup.
For the upcoming women’s Fifa World Cup, defending champions United States will likely miss out on the services of skipper Becky Sauerbrunn due to injury.
Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for June 17, 2023:
England declare on Day 1
England captain Ben Stokes’ bold declaration on the opening day of the first Ashes Test may have come as a shock to cricket traditionalists, but it was “no surprise” to team-mate Jonny Bairstow.
England were 393-8 at Edgbaston, with Joe Root unbeaten on 118 and in superb touch after leading a revival from a mid-innings slump, when Stokes called a halt.
With 20 minutes left in the day, Stokes was prepared to lose the promise of extra runs in the hope of snaring an Australia wicket in the four overs remaining before Friday’s close.
There was no breakthrough, however, with Australia 14-0 at stumps after David Warner survived his latest encounter with Stuart Broad, who dismissed the left-hander seven times during the drawn 2019 Ashes series in England.
Stokes has been no stranger to declarations while overseeing a run of 11 wins in 13 Tests since linking up with coach Brendon McCullum last year.
“I’m sure there’s many decisions Ben has made that have taken commentators and other people by surprise, but it was no surprise to us,” said Bairstow.
Bairstow played his part in allowing Stokes to make that decision with a run-a-ball 78 in his first Test innings since a freak golf accident in August last year left him with multiple injuries, including three separate fractures in his left leg.
“I’m delighted to be back out there on the big stage, during the big dance. It’s something you want to be part of and it didn’t disappoint,” he said.
Bairstow also helped former England captain Root add 121 for the sixth wicket, with his longtime friend and Yorkshire colleague ending an eight-year wait for an Ashes hundred.
England, France cruise in Euro qualifiers
England and France cruised to victories over international minnows in Euro 2024 qualifying on Friday, but Wales saw their hopes of reaching next year’s finals in Germany suffer a setback in a 4-2 home defeat by Armenia.
Gareth Southgate’s England scored twice from the penalty spot as they eased to a 4-0 win away to a Malta side ranked 172nd in the world and kept up their perfect record in Group C.
Malta defender Ferdinando Apap turned Bukayo Saka’s cross into his own net to give England an early lead, and Trent Alexander-Arnold made it 2-0 with a superb strike.
Harry Kane, who became England’s all-time top scorer during the last international window in March, made it three goals in three games in this campaign with a penalty to make it 3-0.
Substitute Callum Wilson then completed the scoring late on from another spot-kick awarded for a handball following a VAR check.
“Of course we know we have the quality to win the game and then it’s about the mentality. I thought that was excellent from the start,” said Southgate.
England are six points clear of Ukraine, Italy and North Macedonia, albeit having played one match more.
France beat Gibraltar
Kylian Mbappe put speculation over his future at Paris Saint-Germain to one side as he captained France and scored in their 3-0 win over Group B outsiders Gibraltar in Faro, Portugal.
Olivier Giroud’s early header put France ahead and Mbappe added a penalty awarded for handball in first-half stoppage time.
France got their third late on when Aymen Mouelhi scored an own goal, turning in Mbappe’s low cross.
“The objective was to win and get the job done but we should have scored more goals,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.
The World Cup runners-up are top of Group B with a maximum nine points from three games, leaving them three points clear of Greece, who beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in Athens.
Germany lose to Poland
Euro 2024 hosts Germany lost 1-0 to Poland in a friendly in Warsaw on Friday, with Jakub Kiwor’s first-half goal piling more pressure on coach Hansi Flick.
Poland’s victory was just their second over their neighbours in 22 games dating back to 1933, and left Germany with a single win in four games since their disastrous World Cup campaign in Qatar.
Kiwor headed in a corner midway through the first half to give his side the lead against a disorganised Germany defence, adding to Flick’s problems ahead of next year’s Euro on home soil.
Despite the “totally disappointing result”, Flick said his side had time to get things right.
“We’re in a process and we’re trying things out” Flick explained. “There’s a long way to go until we’ll get there.”
“In June next year, we’ll have a team that functions together.”
Sauerbrunn to miss women’s Fifa World Cup
Becky Sauerbrunn, captain of the two-time defending Women’s World Cup champion United States squad, will miss the upcoming World Cup due to a foot injury, according to multiple reports Friday.
Sauerbrunn, a 38-year-old defender, suffered a setback earlier this month with the National Women’s Soccer League’s Portland Thorns of an injury suffered in April, unnamed sources told ESPN and The Athletic.
This year’s Women’s World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, kicks off July 20.
Sauerbrunn has 216 caps for the Americans and helped the US women capture World Cup titles in 2015 in Canada and 2019 in France. She also contributed to 2012 Olympic gold in London and was on the third-place squad at the Tokyo Olympics.
She helped Portland win the NWSL title last year and was part of championship sides with Kansas City in 2014 and 2015.
US head coach Vlatko Andonovski is expected to name his final roster for the tournament in the next few days.
With text inputs from AFP
Updated through the day