In Ireland, today the sport of Test Cricket makes its debut before the orange, white, and green. Pakistan has come to Ireland for a one off Five Day Test Cricket Match, and Ireland will become only the 11th nation where Test Cricket is played. The match was supposed to begin yesterday, in Dublin, but weather conditions scrubbed that inaugural bat. So, today this match begins nine miles north of Dublin, at the Malahide ground at the Malahide Castle estate.
It is not as if the Irish have never excelled at Cricket before. They have, in other formats, but never the supreme expression of Cricket greatness, the multiple day test match. Once upon a time, not too many years ago, being a cricket player in Ireland could bring serious reproaches from the neighbors. Perhaps with the spread of cricket into so many of the Asian countries, and Ireland no longer thinking just like an island, cricket has developed on these shores greatly in the last several years.
There are records of cricket being played in the Emerald Isle as early is 1731. It is just possible that, like soccer in both the USA and Ireland, the home country likes their own sports much better than something foreign. Baseball and Football reign supreme in the US, Irish Football and hurling in Ireland. This has not stopped Crickets development, though, and now this great advancement into the popular imagination of the Irish. 6.000 people reportedly braved the terrible conditions on Friday, in hopes of seeing the match, and waited until the game was called. It is presumed they will return Saturday, perhaps with even more fans, to see the first day of a test match. Capacity at the Malahide grounds is reportedly 11.500, let's hope they fill the grounds for an exciting test match!
In Spain, preparations have been underway all week for the Grand Prix, to be held Saturday (to determine pole position) and the actual running on Sunday.
A key player may be Max Verstappen, well known to readers of this space. He won his first Formula One race in 2016 in Spain when he became, at 18 years old, the youngest driver ever to win a Grand Prix race. For a Hollander, this success has been great, and with the years he has become even better as a driver, and a better known quantity with the fans. The Circuit de Catalunya was the site of his first victory, and he returns there for this Spanish Grand Prix. It is said that Verstappen, who this season has been involved in accidents and incidents could use a quiet race, even coasting to fourth or fifth place would be good for him. Sebastian Vettel remains a key opponent, of course. It will be interesting, today, to see who achieves which pole positions.
In the meantime also in Spain, Rafael Nadal has broken an old record, and been broken himself. He broke John McEnroe's longstanding record for consecutive victories, at the Madrid open on Thursday, and Friday, on that same more or less home court, lost in the quarterfinals to nemesis Dominic Thiem. Saturday will see some semifinal action before the finals on Sunday the 13th.
In the meantime, also in Spain, the San Isidro Festival is ongoing at the Las Ventas Bullring in Madrid. This is perhaps Spanish Bullfighting's most visible festival of the year.