Benjamin stars in thrilling Phoenix win over Spirit in men’s Hundred

London Spirit 144-6 (100 balls): Crawley 64, Denly 25; Milne 2-18, Howell 2-25
Birmingham Phoenix 148-7 (97 balls): Moeen 40, Benjamin 24*
Phoenix win by three wickets

Unknown 22-year-old Chris Benjamin catapulted himself into the spotlight by leading Birmingham Phoenix to a stunning last-gasp victory over London Spirit in the men’s Hundred.

In a thrilling finish that swung one way and then the other, Benjamin, who only made his professional debut five days ago, hit 24 not out from 15 balls to take Phoenix to a three-wicket win.

They needed 24 runs from 14 balls when Benny Howell was dismissed but Benjamin smashed two sixes – one of them an audacious reverse scoop over his shoulder – and a four, sending the sizeable home crowd wild.

That left Birmingham requiring one from the last five and, despite Chris Cooke falling, Adam Milne hit the winning runs with three balls to spare.

It capped another entertaining game for The Hundred, which also included stunning catches and expert bowling.

Zak Crawley earlier hit 64 for London Spirit, who are captained by England skipper Eoin Morgan and coached by Australia legend Shane Warne.

From zero to hero

South Africa-born Benjamin wasn’t even supposed to be playing in The Hundred three days ago.

He smashed 60 from 34 balls to take Warwickshire to victory in the Twenty20 Blast last Sunday and, when fellow wicketkeeper-batter Adam Hose was sidelined with injury, he was called up.

That T20 was his first professional match, making him the least experienced player in the competition.

It did not show.

He reverse-scooped Blake Cullen over the wicketkeeper’s head for a sensational six and followed that with a huge pull over square leg two balls later.

Many in the crowd wouldn’t have heard of him at the start of play but by the end they were singing “oh Benji, Benji…”.

‘The man with 50 different variations’

Another man to impress for Birmingham was bowler Benny Howell.

He is an expert of slower balls – deliveries bowlers use to deceive batters – and claims to have 50 different types. Many bowlers would be happy with one or two.

The 32-year-old used two of those variations to outfox both England captain Morgan and Joe Denly, who were both caught mis-timing shots for 13 and 25 respectively.

Howell studies baseball pitchers to help him develop the deliveries, which he has honed when playing in various Twenty20 leagues around the world.

One delivery in particular, the knuckle ball – when a bowler holds the ball in the knuckles of his hand rather than the fingers making it loop towards the batter slowly – caught the eye.

“It’s so hard to grip the ball when you bowl a knuckle ball, it’s something I can’t do,” England’s Women’s World Cup winner captain Heather Knight told the BBC.

“I have immense admiration for those who have mastered it and brought it into their game.”

A night of great catches too

But not only was there amazing batting and fielding, this was a night of great catches.

The best was probably the brilliant display of awareness and skill from Spirit’s Roelof van der Merwe which quietened the vocal crowd, at least for a little bit.

On the boundary at long-on he snaffled a high catch but, with his momentum taking him over the rope, tossed the ball in the air, stepped over the boundary edge, steadied himself and then calmly leapt back inside to complete the catch before the ball touched the ground.

Earlier Chris Wood, the Spirit bowler, produced a grab almost as good at fine leg. He was running around the boundary edge chasing a pull from Liam Livingstone and when he caught the ball it was behind him, almost over the boundary at shoulder height.

We should not forget a fine reaction catch from Phoenix bowler Milne either. Ravi Bopara hit a drive back at him and the New Zealander casually stuck out a right hand to cling on in his follow-through.


Concern mounts for missing 11-year-old schoolgirl from Bolton

image copyrightGMP

image captionPolice are “extremely concerned about the welfare” of Fatuma Kadir

The parents of a missing 11-year-old girl said they are in a “state of shock” as police stepped up their search for her.

Fatuma Kadir left her home in Bolton on Thursday and travelled from Manchester to London by train overnight.

Her parents Asheem and Misra urged her to let them know she was OK.

“We miss you, we want you to come home. We want to at least know you’re safe. You’re not in any trouble. Please contact us or the police,” they said.

“We are in a state of shock. We want to know where she is, who she’s with, but most of all, that she’s safe. Fatuma, Please come home.”

Fatuma was seen boarding a train from Manchester Piccadilly at 21:27 on Thursday to Birmingham New Street before getting onto another train at 23:10 to London Euston, arriving at 01:13.

She left Euston station alone and went onto Eversholt Street towards Euston Road at 01:17.

Police believe she was at London Bridge Tube Station at 11:16am and may be in the area around Tower Bridge.

image copyrightGMP

image captionPolice have released CCTV footage from Manchester Piccadilly railway station of Fatuma and the man and the woman

The force is also looking to trace a man and woman, who they believe were worried about Fatuma and travelled on the same train as her from Bolton to Manchester Piccadilly and then to Birmingham New Street.

Detectives think the man and woman may know where Fatuma was going after arriving in London.

Fatuma, who is described as Asian and of slim build, was last seen wearing a black headscarf and black dress.

Police say the woman, who is described as black, of slim build, was wearing a light blue tunic, black pants and black trainers with a white sole.

The woman’s face was covered with a white face mask and she was carrying an orange carrier bag.

Det Ch Insp Paul Rollinson said: “We are understandably extremely concerned about the welfare of this young girl who was reported missing to us last night as it would seem extremely out of character.”

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Covid: Double-jabbed students denied quarantine exemption

image copyrightGiulia Benedetta Calabrese

image captionGiulia Benedetta Calabrese, right, and her two St Andrews University friends received their first dose in England and their second in Scotland

Three students have been refused exemption from travel quarantine rules because their vaccination certificates do not show they have had two jabs.

The St Andrews University friends all received their first dose in England and their second in Scotland.

But only the second jab shows up on their NHS Scotland paperwork – meaning they would have to isolate if they travel abroad.

The BBC has also learned of problems for English students studying in Wales.

The Scottish and Welsh governments and NHS Digital – which covers England – have said they are working to resolve the issue.

Since 19 July, adults in Scotland who were fully-vaccinated in the UK have no longer had to quarantine for 10 days on return from amber-list countries, with the exception of France.

On the same day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that ministers planned to make proof of full vaccination a condition of entry to venues with large crowds in England from the end of September.

But Giulia Benedetta Calabrese – a PhD student at St Andrews – fears the paperwork confusion between health authorities in Scotland and England may force her to miss her brother’s wedding at home in Italy.

She said: “I have been very careful to ensure I got both vaccines and had all the paperwork ready to travel.

“I can’t understand why the vaccination programmes in England and Scotland are struggling to match up people who have moved across the border, between jabs.

“I know there are many more people that have had similar experiences to me and I don’t think it’s fair that we have to go through all of that.”

Ms Calabrese, 28, moved to St Andrews to start her PhD in neuroscience in November 2020.

She has sought the help of her new MP, Liberal Democrat Wendy Chamberlain, who has raised the issue with Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf.

Sharing data

Ms Chamberlain described the confusion between NHS Scotland and NHS England as “a shameful situation that should never even have come up”.

She said: “Many people, including thousands of students every year, move between the four nations of the UK.

“Yet confusion between our separate vaccine programmes has reached the point where jags received elsewhere in the UK have not been recognised by NHS Scotland.”

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionThere is currently no UK-wide system to show where individual doses of the vaccine were delivered

The BBC also heard from Kate Loynes from London, whose son is at university in Cardiff.

She said that it had been “incredibly frustrating trying to establish how to obtain proof of his full vaccination”.

Her son had his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Wales and his second at a walk-in vaccination centre in London.

Ms Loynes said that when he tried to get proof of his fully-vaccinated status, the Welsh health system could not trace the vaccine administered in England.

Meanwhile, his GP in London was unable to record the Welsh vaccination on the software system in England.

The Scottish government told the BBC it would look to see if it could assist with the St Andrews cases.

A spokesman said: “We are working at pace to align vaccination records from different nations of the UK and have a process in place for sharing data between England and Scotland.

“We continue to work towards replacing the record of vaccination status with a digital record of Covid status, which will include vaccination and testing data to be used for outbound international travel.”

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “We are working with NHS Digital to resolve this issue.”

An NHS Digital spokeswoman said: “The NHS Covid Pass service is helping tens of thousands of people to demonstrate their vaccination status quickly, easily and for free. We are currently working to ensure that all vaccination information is shared across the devolved administrations.

“We are working on a solution for people who are registered with a GP in England, who have received one or both of their vaccinations in Wales or Scotland, to see their records in the NHS Covid Pass, and will roll it out as soon as it is ready.”


Lions angered by ex-Ireland international Francis’ ‘offensive’ Smith comment

Marcus Smith
Smith was part of the Harlequins side that won the Premiership title earlier this year

The British and Irish Lions and Harlequins have both criticised former Ireland international Neil Francis’ “offensive” description of fly-half Marcus Smith.

Francis, 57, made a comment about Smith’s skin colour in an episode of the Irish Independent’s Left Wing podcast, which was published on 14 July but drew attention on social media this week.

“We find the remarks relating to Marcus Smith offensive and have written to the Independent to express our deep dissatisfaction,” said the Lions.

Harlequins, who have also written to the newspaper, said they were “disgusted” by the “racist” comments made by Francis.

Francis said:external-link “I would never intentionally or wilfully make a comment to disparage somebody on the basis of the colour of anyone’s skin. Never! The comments have been interpreted differently from what I intended and I apologise sincerely for that.

“I fully apologise for any offence taken by the player and his family. I intend to apologise directly to him shortly if he is agreeable. I also apologise to anyone who also took offence to what I said.”

Former Quins player Ugo Monye, the ex-Lions and England wing, added on Twitter: “The fact Neil Francis said what he did is appalling, but to publish it and no-one challenge him is as equally appalling.”

Publisher Mediahuis Ireland said: “We acknowledge that Mr Francis says his comments were inadvertent but we have decided to end our relationship with him and he will no longer write columns or contribute to our podcasts.”

Smith, 22, was born in the Philippines to a British father and a Filipina mother, and moved to England when he was 13.

He made his debut for England earlier this month, before being called out to South Africa by the Lions as fly-half cover.

He made an impressive first appearance for the touring side in their 49-3 win over the Stormers but has not been included in the matchday 23 for the first Test against the Springboks on Saturday.


The Hundred – Birmingham Phoenix v London Spirit: Andrew Milne removes Ravi Bopara caught & bowled

Birmingham Phoenix bowler Andrew Milne shows stunning reactions to remove London Spirit’s Ravi Bopara caught and bowled for 17 in The Hundred at Edgbaston.

FOLLOW LIVE: Men’s Hundred – Birmingham Phoenix v London Spirit

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British GP crash ‘to cost Red Bull at least £1.3m’

Christian Horner and Max Verstappen
Christian Horner says Red Bull and Max Verstappen are determined to try to recover from the damage to their championship bid the crash at Silverstone has caused

Max Verstappen’s crash with Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix cost Red Bull at least $1.8m (£1.3m), team principal Christian Horner says.

The figure is more than one percent of the team’s total budget this season, following the introduction of Formula 1’s budget cap at $145m this year.

Horner said the loss “has massive ramifications” for this season.

The cost could impact on Red Bull’s ability to bring performance upgrades to their car, among other expenses.

The figure is a best early estimate for repairs the car, and could yet go up – Red Bull are still looking into whether the monocoque can be repaired or will have to be replaced with a new one.

The top teams such as Red Bull are already struggling to meet the budget cap – the limit is in the region of half the previous annual spend for teams such as Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari. Any extra expense such as this makes it even more of a challenge to do so.

Engine partner Honda has sent the power unit back to its base in Sakura, Japan to investigate the extent of the damage.

If it cannot be saved, Verstappen will need a new one and will almost certainly exceed the permitted number of engine parts for the season, in which case he will receive a grid penalty at a race later in the season.

However, Honda’s initial inspection suggested it was not as badly damaged as feared. A spokesman said that, while a full diagnosis had not been completed, “there may be a possibility that we might be able to bring it back to Hungary [for the next race]”.

He added, however, that if it was taken to Hungary it would likely only be used in Friday practice and that it will “still take a long time” to establish whether the engine can be used in a race again.

Drivers are allowed only three engines per season, so each has to complete in the region of seven races if he is not to receive a grid penalty.

Horner’s revelation came in a column published by Red Bullexternal-link dealing with the incident and its aftermath.

Hamilton won the British Grand Prix despite being given a 10-second penalty for being judged by race stewards to be “predominantly to blame” for the incident.

Combined with Verstappen’s retirement, this meant the Mercedes driver cut Verstappen’s championship lead from 32 points before the race to eight.

Horner said the team “felt at the time, and still feel now, that Hamilton was given a light penalty for this type of incident”.

He added that Red Bull were still considering whether to try to take the matter further in an attempt to increase Hamilton’s penalty.

“Given the severity of the incident and the lenient penalty, we are reviewing all data and have the right to request a review,” Horner said. “We are therefore still looking at the evidence and considering all of our sporting options.”

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battled wheel-to-wheel from the start of the race
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battled wheel-to-wheel from the start of the race

Horner said Verstappen and the team were determined to try to recover the damage to their championship bid at the next race in Hungary on 1 August.

“We will all be fully motivated to retain our championship lead,” Horner said.

“Max won’t dwell on anything from Silverstone and wants to do his talking on track. He is determined to put this incident behind him and use it as added motivation for the rest of the season, as are we.”

He added: “I would like to respond to some comments I have seen from Toto [Wolff, the Mercedes F1 boss], who is quoted as saying our comments regarding Hamilton having caused the accident were ‘so personal’.

“I would like to make it clear – this was an on-track incident between two of the best drivers in the world.

“At the point in time when you have a driver in hospital and the extent of any injuries have not yet been made clear, your car has been written off and the stewards have penalised the driver seen to be responsible, it is natural that emotion comes into play, for all involved, whether you feel wronged or victorious.

“I also felt the narrative that Max was being ‘overly aggressive’ at that stage was unjustified.

“You only have to look at the fact Max has zero penalty points on his licence and has not been found guilty of any on-track misjudgements in recent years.

“The aggressive 17-year-old F1 rookie Max Verstappen that Hamilton is referring to is not the Max Verstappen of today, just as Hamilton is not the same driver he was when he entered the sport.

“Both drivers are of course uncompromising in their driving style, but they are both highly skilled with a great deal of experience.

“The reality is that Hamilton has met his match in a car that is now competitive, and I agree that both drivers need to show each other respect, but Hamilton was the aggressor on Sunday.”

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Spirit stutter to win over Phoenix in women’s Hundred

Birmingham Phoenix 128-6 (100 balls): E Jones 47, A Jones 33; Dottin 2-28
London Spirit 132-7 (96 balls): Dattani 34; Burns 2-15
London Spirit win by three wickets with four balls remaining

London Spirit survived a big scare to beat Birmingham Phoenix and begin their women’s Hundred campaign with a three-wicket win at Edgbaston.

Spirit, captained by England skipper Heather Knight, were cruising at 108-3 – needing 21 from 23 balls in their chase of 129.

But in a frenetic few minutes they lost three wickets in four balls without scoring a run, as Emily Arlott dismissed Chloe Tryon and Susie Rowe and Deepti Sharma carelessly holed out for 28.

Spirit needed Amara Carr to edge them to victory with 11 not out before Danielle Gibson hit the only two balls she faced for four to seal the win with four balls to spare.

Despite defeat Phoenix’s Eve Jones was given the Match Hero award for her 47 in her side’s 128-6.

The match was the first doubler-header of The Hundred with the same two men’s teams playing from 18:30 BST.

Davies impresses after big Verma wicket

The most important wicket in the women’s Hundred may well be that of Birmingham opener Shafali Verma – the 17-year-old India superstar who can win matches on her own.

She had just started to show her dynamic attacking skills with back-to-back fours when she was dismissed by Freya Davies for 13.

Davies, a tall fast bowler, deceived her with a looped slower ball that knocked over leg stump. It was the key moment in an impressive display from the 25-year-old.

Davies has played 17 times for England and has been tipped to break up the current Katherine Brunt-Anya Shrubsole opening bowling partnership in the not too distant future.

On this occasion she continued mix things up with slower balls, conceding only 19 runs in her 20 deliveries in addition to the scalp of Verma.

All-action Wong expensive

It’s hard to miss Birmingham fast bowler Issy Wong in any match she plays.

The 19-year-old, who is regarded as a star of the future because of her pure pace, buzzes around with her bleached blonde hair and appears to relish the limelight.

She screamed with delight and passionately punched the air after dismissing the dangerous Deandra Dottin lbw for nine – the first Spirit wicket to fall after 14 balls.

Following that, however, Wong was wayward, with her 20 balls costing 31 runs – the most of any bowler on either side.

With Spirit needing 16 from 15 balls soon after their collapse, Wong was handed the ball.

Her first delivery of the spell was brilliantly scooped over the wicketkeeper for four by Carr – a boundary that eased the tension for the visitors in a match which went to the wire.

Jones double act in vain

The best batting effort in the match came from Eve Jones in a losing cause.

After the loss of Verma, Phoenix continued to slide and were 37-3 after 36 balls but Jones played an impressive attacking innings – hitting a number of dazzling shots back past the bowler.

She combined with her skipper, Amy Jones, in a key, well-paced partnership of 64 from 41 balls.

Amy Jones is an England international, who learned the game at Walmley Cricket Club just 10 miles from Edgbaston, but here she was outshone by her namesake.

Jones run map


Cold case cracked with smallest ever amount of DNA

image copyrightPolice handout

image captionStephanie Isaacson’s case had been cold for 32 years

The 1989 murder of a 14-year-old girl in Las Vegas has been solved by using what experts say is the smallest-ever amount of human DNA to crack a case.

Stephanie Isaacson’s murder case had gone cold until new technology made it possible to test what little remained of the suspect’s DNA: the equivalent of just 15 human cells.

Police on Wednesday said they had identified the suspect by using genome sequencing and public genealogy data.

Her alleged killer died in 1995.

“I’m glad they found who murdered my daughter,” Stephanie’s mother wrote in a statement that was read to reporters at Wednesday’s news conference.

“I never believed the case would be solved.”

Thirty-two years ago, Stephanie’s body was found near the route she normally walked to school in Las Vegas, Nevada. She had been assaulted and strangled.

This year, police were able to pick up the case again after a donation from a local resident. They turned over the DNA samples left to Othram, a Texas-based genome-sequencing lab that specialises in cold cases.

Typical consumer DNA testing kits collect about 750 to 1,000 nanograms of DNA in a sample. These samples are uploaded to public websites specialising in ancestry or health.

But crime scenes may only contain tens to hundreds of nanograms of DNA. And in this case, only 0.12 nanograms – or about 15 cells’ worth – were available for testing.

Using ancestry databases the researchers were able to identify the suspect’s cousin. Eventually they matched the DNA to Darren Roy Marchand.

Marchand’s DNA from a previous 1986 murder case was still on record, and was used to confirm the match.

He was never convicted and died by suicide in 1995.

The genomic technology used to solve the case is the same that was used to catch the notorious Golden State Killer in 2018.

“This was a huge milestone,” Othram chief executive David Mittelman told the BBC.

“When you can access information from such a small amount of DNA, it really opens up the opportunity to so many other cases that have been historically considered cold and unsolvable.”

The company is currently working on cases dating back as far as 1881.


‘Protest a fundamental human right’ – Asher-Smith

Dates: 23 July-8 August Time in Tokyo: BST +8
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and online; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and Sounds; live text and video clips on BBC Sport website and app.

Dina Asher-Smith has backed the relaxation of rules around athlete protests at the Tokyo Olympics, calling protest “a fundamental human right”.

In early July the International Olympic Committee changed its rules to allow protests before and after events, but a ban on protests at ceremonies, including on the podium, remains.

A letter signed by athletes has called for a complete lifting of sanctions.

And the 25-year-old British sprinter, who is among the favourites for 100m gold, said any punishment would be unworkable.

“If you were to penalise someone for standing up against racial inequality, how on earth would that go, how on earth are you going to enforce that?” she said.

“Would you revoke someone’s medal for saying racism is wrong?

“I see protesting and expressing yourself as a fundamental human right.”

She said the ban was “completely unenforceable”, adding: “I think they had no choice but to lift it otherwise they would have been faced with loads of athlete protests at the Games and it would have been very embarrassing for them.”

The IOC’s rule 50 states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

After consultations in the wake of widespread anti-racism protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the IOC announced that athletes can “express their views” before and after they compete, and when speaking to the media, but not during events, opening and closing ceremonies, on podiums or in the Olympic Village.

The athletes’ letter, with signatories including Tommie Smith and Carlos Smith – the black US sprinters whose Black Power Salute saw them expelled from the 1968 Mexico Olympics – said the relaxation does not go far enough.

Describing the present moment as a “turning point” for the global sporting committee, the letter states: “We do not believe the changes made reflect a commitment to freedom of expression as a fundamental human right nor to racial and social justice in global sport.

Asher-Smith described the Smiths’ Black Power Salute as one of the Olympics’ “most iconic moments”.

She added: “That is something people remember the Olympics for, something they’re very proud to see at the Olympic Games.”

Has anything changed since Black Power salute?

Makina: the UK subculture you’ve probably never heard of

Dubbed “the sound of the North East’s council estates”, makina dance music has been crafted over several generations and is a hugely popular subculture in the region.

As England approaches its first weekend of nightlife since Covid restrictions were lifted, makina fans are preparing for gigs, raves and festivals once again.

DJs and MCs have spent lockdown performing online but are now able to stage shows in person, which makina veteran MC Rockeye says will be “something special”.

Video journalist: Adam Clarkson