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On this day: May 18, 2002 Biting headline derides England’s batting star

THE MORNING STAR’S splash headline on May 18 2002 will seem all too familiar to today’s readers:  “Israeli terror haunts Jenin.”

Only last week the Star reported the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, shot in the head by an Israeli sniper while she and her colleagues were covering an Israeli raid on a Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin.

The 2002 story opened: “Israeli forces raided the devastated Jenin refugee camp yesterday, snatching a number of Palestinians and destroying more houses” and went on to mention the national demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian people taking place in London that day.

At the back of the paper, racing from Newbury occupied the left hand of the inside sports spread while rugby union dominated the right hand.

But the big story on the back page that Saturday was that England opening bat Marcus Trescothick had failed to last even four overs against the Sri Lanka bowling attack, the tourists having finally declared after running up a hefty 555 for 8 on a batters’ wicket at Lord’s in the first of a three-Test series. Trescothick had survived one loud lbw appeal before he edged to first slip, the report fumed. 

Marvan Atapattu (185) and Mahela Jayawardene (107) had been the main compilers of the Sri Lankan total, alongside handy contributions from from Aravinda de Silva (88) and Russel [sic] Arnold (50).

Genial individualist Trescothick, then 26, somehow shook off the Star’s opprobrium and went on to be England’s leading batter in the early noughties and hailed as one of England’s best openers of all time. 

The hard-hitting left-hander went on to play for his beloved county of Somerset until he was 43, retiring in 2019, though stress-related illness brought on his international retirement in 2008. It was an episode that prompted much beneficial discussion about depression and stress in the lives of sportspeople.

In his long and illustrious career Trescothick managed to score more than 26,000 first-class runs at an average of 41.05 — so perhaps he could be forgiven for the odd mishap against Sri Lanka. 

Those eternal speculations, a plan for Liverpool to quit Anfield and Scottish clubs joining the English leagues, took up the rest of the back page.  

“The estimated saving of around £60 million could be made available to [Liverpool] manager Gerard Houllier to strengthen his team,” reported the Star. “The new stadium will cost between £60m and £70m to build and could even be ready for the start of the 2005-2006 season.”

On the Scottish story, Football League spokesman John Nagle said: “The league has given careful consideration to its future structure. In this connection, it has held a preliminary discussion with senior representatives of Celtic and Rangers.”

Sports journalists thrive on such malarkey, don’t they?

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