Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Zealand v India, 5th ODI, Auckland

Finally there was a contest between bat and ball. And India, perhaps continuing in their merry ways, came unstuck when the ball moved around, more so in the first half of the day and less and less as the pitch started to get older. Daniel Vettori was surprised his bowlers got the first use of the pitch, something Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted India should have done.
"We misread the wicket," said Dhoni. "That is what I can say. We did make mistakes, but we negotiated the period quite well when initially it was doing quite a bit. It was an ideal start given by Gautam [Gambhir] and [Virender] Sehwag but we failed to capitalise."
Dhoni also admitted that with the ball moving around a bit, the batsmen didn't adjust well. "We played shots that didn't really come up very well in this game," he said. "Throughout the series we have played big shots which were paying off but this time we lost a few wickets and we put ourselves under pressure."
Vettori was pleased with the effort his bowlers put in on a helpful track. "In most of the games, whether we've gone well or not has depended on the bowlers," he said. "Today I thought they bowled really well. The wicket had a little more in it than the previous ones, but you still have to bowl well. You saw that a guy like Sehwag can still be explosive, like he has in previous games, even on a deck like that. Really pleased for the guys. Some guys who haven't performed in the series stepped up. Jacob Oram was outstanding and Jesse Ryder came through with the ball."
For this dead rubber India went with an unchanged XI, the best available team, and were still outplayed. But today's result, according to Dhoni, wouldn't matter much going into the Test series. "Before the start of the one-day series, we had lost two Twenty20 games and the same question was asked," he said. "It's not about what we have done. We have to start from scratch again. Nothing changes. You have to perform at your best. I don't think anything matters when it comes to the last game of a one-day series."
New Zealand are definitely not thinking the same way. "It [the win] puts us in a good space," said Vettori. "If you lose a series outright 4-0 you can get demoralised. The guys will take that confidence into the Test series. It was a lot nicer being in that dressing room than in the rest of the series."
At the same time, Vettori said it didn't take away from the challenge that the Indian team will present in the Tests. "Nice for us to finish on a winning note, but we still understand that we have been outplayed and haven't lived up to our own expectations," he said. "We can take a bit of momentum into the Test series. It's going to be a massive challenge with [Sachin] Tendulkar, [Rahul] Dravid and [VVS] Laxman coming back into the mix."

Virender Sehwag gets India's fastest ODI hundred

Sehwag smashed Kiwi bowlers in the 4th ODI between New Zealand and India and got his hundred off just 60 balls, the fastest by ay Indian in ODI cricket. He completed his hundred in a superb fashion hitting a six in the ball of Daniel Vettori and making his score 103 in the 19th over. This is the 11th ODI hundred for india. Sehwag remained not out on 125 off 74 balls hitting 6 sixes and 14 fours as India won the match by D/L method.
Just 1 ball before Sehwag completed his hundred, Gambhir made his 50 off 52 balls. At that stage India were 164/0. Sehwag's hundred is of course the fastest by any Indian but also the 7th fastest ODI hundred. Before this Mohammad Azharuddin had got his hundred in 62 balls.
Here are the fastest ODI hundreds for India:

60V Sehwag
62M Azharuddin108*NZBaroda (MP)1988
64Yuvraj Singh
66SK Raina 101HKKarachi2008
69V Sehwag100NZColombo (SSC)2001
71SR Tendulkar124*ZimSharjah1998
73Yuvraj Singh 103EngMargao2006

Here are the fastest ODI hundreds (overall):

10237116Shahid AfridiPakistan v Sri LankaNairobi04/10/1996
147*44108MV BoucherSouth Africa v ZimbabwePotchefstroom20/09/2006
11745418BC LaraWest Indies v BangladeshDhaka09/10/1999
10245910Shahid AfridiPakistan v IndiaKanpur15/04/2005
134481111ST JayasuriyaSri Lanka v PakistanSingapore02/04/1996
13055616ST JayasuriyaSri Lanka v BangladeshKarachi30/06/2008
V SehwagIndia v New ZealandHamilton11/03/2009
10862310M AzharuddinIndia v New ZealandBaroda17/12/1988
15764123ST JayasuriyaSri Lanka v NetherlandsAmstelveen04/07/2006
138*64616Yuvraj SinghIndia v EnglandRajkot14/11/2008

Sidin's guide to the greatest Indian cricketers of all time especially that period between 4 and 6 pm last week

After yesterday's fantastic win against Pakistan there is a new-found optimism in the Indian camp especially with our younger players coming of age and beginning to complement the senior players nicely. When asked of his feelings about the current Indian team Rahul Dravid stated that there was a new-found optimism in the Indian camp especially with our... you get the drift yeah?
So it is but natural that several young Indians of today, drunk with current glory, lose touch with the glittering past of Indian cricket. India has had a history of outstanding cricketers many of whom have been instrumental in the achievement of a large number of cricketing records by countries like Australia, Pakistan, England, Scotland, Vidharbha etc.
This negligence has to stop and the movement to relive our cricketing past starts with this blog right now. So today we celebrate some of the luminaries who have taken Indian cricket to where it is today in the cricketing record books (i.e. in the "vs." column). This list is by no means exhaustive, authoritative or even authentic, and the author strongly expresses the opinion that you do not try this at home.
List of luminaries with brief biographies, often true. (Part 1)
Ranjit Singhji: One of the first great Indian cricketing heroes. Singhji was "The cricketer formally known as "Prince"". His most famous exploits include obtaining a UK visa and work permit and inventing the Leg Glance, a move whereby when friends' sisters walks by in a short skirts you make a sweeping cricket shot action imitation thereby looking at their legs but not getting caught. Famously, Ranjit Singhji once fell ill after a mixing some bad milk in his cup of Darjeeling and could only bowl a single over. In spite of this he got 3 wickets through judicious use of line and length. This is immortalized today in the famous "Corridor of Uncertain Tea". He names lives on to this day in the form of the tournament named after him, the "Coca-Cola Cup".
Gundappa Viswanath: Widely considered the greatest left-handed batsmen from Andhra with a moustache to play in the 60s, in Indian History. Played several crucial test innings for India, many times pulling India back from the brink of complete disaster, taking them to mere comprehensive defeats. He was a daring, brave batsman who stood fearless in the face of the quickest bowlers, primarily because he was blinded by his moustache. Renowned for his deft footwork, he once, after being bowled for duck, moonwalked all the way back to the pavilion. His first name means "Fat Papa" in Tamil and this ensured constant victory for India against the Sri Lankans who could not bowl at him with a straight face.
Sunil Gavaskar: The first big international Indian cricket star. Scored thousands upon thousands of runs in a career that spanned several millions of balls left outside off-stump. He was affectionately known as Sunny, the Little Master and that little Prick though the first two were rarely used. He was a tireless team player and inspiring captain who often shouldered a lot of the batting burden and most of the match fees single-handedly. Gavaskar was a cricketer who patiently waited for the loose ball and once did so for three whole days in a limited overs match before stadium security politely asked him to leave. Gavaskar became the captain of India in 1982 taking on the mantle from Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan, an accomplished cricketer himself, who retired from cricket in protest after it became mandatory to wear kits with one’s full name on the back.
Ravi Shashtri: Holds the record for maximum sixes hit in one over with 6 against Tilak Raj in Bombay. Shastri would have hit more but little Tilak had maths homework and a Social Studies test the next day and we all know how bad 7th standard CBSE is. Shastri was one of our first great all-rounders and once, in a remarkable game in the 1987 tour of Ooty and Coimbatore, Shastri bowled himself around the legs. Ravi Shastri was the heartthrob of millions of women in the late 80s and early 90s and was considered a great looker. This has now been found to be an error due to primitive TV broadcasting technology. He is now a well-known and respected cricket commentator. Fiercely patriotic, he recently pegged India to win all the one-days in the South African tour of Sri Lanka.
Kapil Dev: Explosive with the ball, dynamic with the bat and ridiculous with the English language, Kapil Dev was the life of many humorous post-match press conferences. Dev often stood alone in the face of adversity and dragged India out of tight spots. His 175 run innings in Tunbridge Wells is a classic and some of his shots continue to orbit the Earth to this day bouncing off space stations and interfering with TV broadcasts (see Ravi Shastri above.) Kapil Dev was also one of the first few cricketers to make it big in the world of advertising and synonymous with the caption: "Boost is the secret of my enema. Our enema. (Smile)" Nowadays he is a successful entrepreneur and often appears on TV when he roots for India from his heart saying: "India needs to play the games with the heart and the tactics is nice if then the whole together comes... err... boost is the secret of my enema..."
Krishnamachari Srikkanth: A dynamic one-day player who pioneered the technique of repeated letters in one's name for good luck. Srikkanth was an explosive opening batsman who often stepped out of his crease and swung his bat with great gusto only to be stumped down leg side. He holds the record for maximum consecutives world cups without a haircut (4). Kris Srikkanth was the quintessential South Indian in the team who rapidly learned Hindi while playing for India, leading to an average of well over 4 run outs per match in the process. Today Kris is a passionate cricket commentator who can say “Oh shit, sorry” in over 14 north Indian languages.
Venkatesh Prasad: If Akthar is the "Rawalpindi Express" then for many years Venkatesh Prasad, a key part of the bowling attack, was affectionately called "The Slow Bangalore Passenger That Is Currently Broken Down At Palakkad Station. Passengers approach ticket counter for refund please." Despite several key wickets, Prasad was not a pacey bowler but instead used a bewildering array of slow, slower and slowest balls to vex batsmen. In the 1992 World Cup he bowled a slow one to Wasim Akram that has not reached the batsman to this day. He was a pioneer of the "Intimidation" school of fielding whereby you do not run for the ball but merely try to stop it by looking at it gravely.
Anil Kumble: Named after the Anil Kumble Circle in Bangalore, where he grew up learning to bowl, Kumble continues to be one of the spinning maestros in the country. However he is not a big mover of the ball but instead unleashes a repertoire of balls so complicated even he does not know what he is doing. He holds the record for having captured 10 wickets in a single test innings but honestly cannot explain how. The author has a particular grouse with Mr. Kumble for having released a shitty cricket video game that the author's brother forced him to buy. The game has graphics reminiscent of a Rohrschach Test and game play marginally more engaging than digging one's nose. Kumble is frequently a useful all-rounder and was the first Indian to achieve the “supreme” double of 400 wickets taken and 4000 misfields.
Sachin Tendulkar: No one makes fun of Sachin. Not even me.
Sanjay Manrekar: Manjrekar is an exciting top order batsman with an amazing repertoire of shots. If you play him in that stupid Anil Kumble game that is. In real life he was often called a text-book cricketer, in the sense that watching him bat was like reading a macro-economics text book. Sanjay Manjrekar was full of technique and single-handedly developed 2567 ways of padding upto an off-spinner. His moment of glory was during the Ashes Test of 1994 when Imran Khan approached him and accepted defeat as several of the Pakistani players were collapsing from brain inactivity. Manjrekar valiantly declined and went on to score an astounding century in just under a fortnight.
Venkatpathy Raju: With tremendous movement off the pitch especially in windy gusty weather, Venkatpathy Raju is one of the lightest players to have ever played the game. His bowling, on the other hand, was tricky especially because of a complete lack of speed. Raju bowled with such little pace and his ball took so long to come that batsmen often practiced facing him by getting friends and relatives to courier cricket balls overnight to them through local courier companies.
That was the first edition of this special blog series on Indian cricket greats. Hope you enjoyed these brief character profiles and you often burst out, like Azhar, with the words: “Wow!! This I will do for free…” More exciting profiles of Indian cricketing heroes coming soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

USA Cricket Association appoints Donald Lockerbie as its CEO

USA Cricket Association (USACA) announced today that its board has appointed Donald Lockerbie as its first CEO.
USACA's Treasurer John Thickett commented, "After a rigorous three-month recruiting process in which we assessed applicants from all over the world, we are thrilled to announce that Don Lockerbie will be joining us. We have great expectations of what he can bring to US cricket and see a bright future under his leadership as CEO. All the Board members are excited about working with Don."
USACA's President Gladstone Dainty remarked that, "Don brings a robust dynamism to USACA at a time when it is urgently needed. His proven track record is exactly what's required to attract interest and support for the development of cricket in America. He's a team-player and will no doubt succeed with the support of America's diverse group of stakeholders, while bridging the gap of interest in the sport between the current enthusiasts and our untapped American resources."
Don Lockerbie is expected to hit the ground running starting in his new role on April 1, 2009. Mr. Lockerbie stated, "I am extremely humbled and honored to be selected by the USACA board for the new post of Chief Executive Officer of the United States of America Cricket Association," adding, "I am familiar with the working nature of cricket on the international landscape and I look forward to utilizing this experience to be a new and proactive resource for American cricket and our dedicated cricketers."
Mr. Lockerbie is currently the President of Olympvs International, LLC, with offices in USA, Switzerland and West Indies. Olympvs is a sports facility and operations consulting firm. He is best known as the Chief Operating Officer and Venue Development Director of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.
Mr. Lockerbie's appointment reinforces USACA's commitment to creating a new and dynamic organization that will promote cricket in USA with renewed vigor.
Long Track Record
Mr. Lockerbie has a long track record of commercial success in sport combined with exceptional management and organizational skills, and has earned respect in all areas of the sports profession.
As an athlete in the 1970's, Mr. Lockerbie competed successfully in Track and Field on the collegiate, national, and international levels and was a two-time national champion. With competition and professional experience covering over 80 countries, Mr. Lockerbie developed an invaluable perspective on international sports facilities and major event operations.
In the 1980's, Lockerbie became the Head Track & Field Coach at the University of North Carolina - which boasted nine outstanding All-America athletes.
Organizational and Infrastructure Experience
USA Cricket needs innovative ideas for development of cricket venues and monetizing existing venues so that they can attract major sporting events and bring money and attention to the game. Mr. Lockerbie appears uniquely positioned to make that happen.
Between 1991 and 1994, Mr. Lockerbie served as a venue Design Manager and a senior consultant for FIFA World Cup Soccer USA 1994, where he was primarily responsible for all planning and construction at Giants Stadium, site of seven games in the New Jersey venue. He was also in charge of Turfgrass construction and maintenance for all nine World Cup venues.
Following that, in the fall of 1995, Lockerbie resumed similar duties and tasks as a Consultant to the Venue Planning Department of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.
In August 1998, Mr. Lockerbie's team was retained to plan and oversee the construction and preparations for all 7-competition venues for the 1998 Goodwill games in New York. At the same time, Lockerbie provided Olympic event consulting services for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Overlay Project.
Mr. Lockerbie has served as a programming consultant and has helped venues in Munich and Raleigh monetize their facilities.
Lockerbie is a graduate of the UNC - Chapel Hill where in 1979 he completed a degree in American Studies specializing in literature and military history. His leisure activities include playing golf, running, and attending sports events around the world.

England Cricket: Prior Drops Another Match

After England lost their last one-day match to the West Indies thanks to a sensational 100 from Shivnarine Chanderpaul, I am wondering if West Indies would have won if Matt Prior had not put down Chanderpaul on 27.
There has been a lot of talk about the South African-born wicket keeper, especially about whether or not he should be England's first choice.

Prior was called up to the England team in May 2007 and showed he was able to bat, hitting 126 not out and a quick 21 off nine balls.

But although he may be able to use the blade affectively in tests, he has yet to prove what he can do with the bat in one-day internationals, nor what he can do behind the stumps. Dropping Chanderpaul sure wasn't too terribly convincing.

Prior has been on and off the team since he arrived. I think he's worth keeping around, but I must ask why England is still choosing him as a wicket keeper.

I think that, assuming he is retained, he should be promoted up the order as a batsman, and we should bring in James Foster as wicket keeper, who has not had a chance for England since 2002.

Foster has been proving how reliable behind the stumps he is for Essex for quite some time now, but he still has not got a call up to England.

Prior's got a chance of sticking around, but England really needs a new wicket keeper if they want to succeed in cricket.

Women target place on ECB board after World Cup win in Sydney

England's triumphant women's cricket team will parade the World Cup at Lord's tomorrow morning amid the prospect of something more than mere global dominance: a female representative on the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB, has said the organisation wants to "increase the representation of women in the governance of the game" and has discussed the issue with the culture secretary, Andy Burnham. The former England captains Rachael Heyhoe-Flint and Clare Connor would be among the favourites to play a leading role at Lord's.
The sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, and Burnham will be among those applauding England's captain, Charlotte Edwards, and the players who defeated New Zealand to lift the trophy in Sydney at the weekend. Clarke will also be there as pressure grows for women – who were allowed to enter the famous red-brick pavilion at Lord's for the first time only 10 years ago – to become more involved in the game at an administrative level.
A spokesman for the department for culture, media and sport, said tonight: "Andy will be going straight from cabinet to Lord's. He had meetings with the England and Wales Cricket Board recently and is very keen that women should be involved not only with the playing side but also with the governance of the game."
Clarke and the ECB chief executive, David Collier, had a meeting with Burnham and Sutcliffe this month in which they outlined their plans for cricket for the next two years and the success of their Building Partnerships programme.
"The Government are one of cricket's key delivery partners," Clarke said. "This ranges from assisting us to stage successful major international events such as the ICC World Twenty20 2009 through to the investment Sport England make in our grass-roots programmes. It is therefore right that we have an ongoing dialogue with DCMS to share our vision of how we intend to take the sport forward.
"I advised them of the great progress the ECB has made in meeting the objectives set out in our five-year plan Building Partnerships. The investment by the ECB of 21% of our income in enthusing participation in grass-roots cricket sets a benchmark for all sports to aspire to.
"This includes growth of 49% in the number of women and girls playing cricket and our women's team retaining the Ashes in Australia. Gerry Sutcliffe has been an energetic champion and supporter of the progress made by women's cricket at all levels and I am delighted he accepted my invitation to open the women's part of the ICC World Twenty20 in Taunton on 11 June 2009.
"In the coming weeks we will engage closely with the DCMS on our plans for taking cricket forward including the framework of our new five-year plan. This will include the proposals the board agreed today to increase the representation of women in the governance of the game and careful examination of the fit and proper person arrangements we set for those who wish to invest in cricket or have ownership interests in our counties."
As well as Heyhoe-Flint and Connor, Baroness Scotland, the attorney general for England and Wales, would be another popular nomination for any senior post. However, in the short term at least, it is more likely that women will be used in a special advisory role or be co-opted on to certain sub-committees than sit on the full board.

Cricket and Blood Center team up for drive

FRANKLIN — Cricket and the Community Blood Center are asking some local students to be a hero.
In a traveling blood drive called "Donors Rock," high school students can give a little and get a free T-shirt. On March 25, the blood drive, named after the popular Guitar Hero and Rockband videogames, is coming to Franklin High School.
Cricket has joined the Community Blood Center for a third year in making this blood drive both fun and educational, providing incentives for students who donate. Once students donate, they'll receive a "Donors Rock Hero Tour" concert-style T-shirt as a thank you for helping to save lives.
Last year, the drive had more than 10,000 registered donors.
"Each year this blood drive continues to grow, and the success is especially exciting because the students are not only participating in a great community service, they're also learning," said Sher Patrick, marketing manager for Community Blood Center. "For most participants, it's the first time they've ever donated blood, and we hope they will become lifelong donors."
More than 100 high schools in 15 counties will be participating in this program, including Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Darke, Greene, Logan, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, Shelby, and Warren counties in Ohio, and Randolph, Wayne and Union Counties in Indiana.
High school donors must be at least 17 years old – or 16 years old with signed parental consent form – weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Parental consent forms for 16-year-old donors are available online at or from a Community Blood Center representative.
Parental consent is not required by law for 17-year olds; however, individual high schools may require parental consent for all student blood donors.
Donors are required to provide a photo ID that includes their full name. Past Community Blood Center donors are also asked to bring their CBC donor ID card.

These are exciting times for Indian cricket: Tendulkar

Auckland, Mar 24 (PTI) Sachin Tendulkar is relishing the success of the Indian cricket team and admits that in his 20-years association with the game, the time has never been as exciting as it has been in the last three-four years.
The master batsman, who has 85 international hundreds - 42 in Tests and 43 in ODIs - said team's victory in New Zealand was indeed satisfying.
"It is good for Rahul (Dravid) and myself to be part of a winning team here. We've been here on earlier tours, but it wasn't so good. But it is better late than never.
"It is exciting time for Indian cricket. It has been quite satisfying. The Test victory is very special. We have been able to achieve that in the last few years wherever we have travelled. I am glad that we made it possible here as well," said Tendulkar, who had a strenuous net session at the Eden Park.
Tendulkar attributed team's heady performance to its all-round capability.
"It has been all-round performance that has seen us do consistently well. We just needed a break and that break I thought we got in Zimbabwe (2001) which came after a long time," he said. More PTI

Cricket-New Zealand add How to squad as cover for Flynn

WELLINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) - Batsman Jamie How has been added to the New Zealand squad for the second test against India starting in Napier on Thursday.
How, who was dropped from the side during the one-day series against West Indies in January, was recalled on Tuesday as cover for top order batsman Daniel Flynn, who is in doubt because of a hand injury.
Flynn suffered bruising and ligament damage when he was struck on the left hand by India paceman Ishant Sharma while batting in the second innings of New Zealand's 10-wicket defeat in the opening test at Hamilton.
The player batted through the pain to make 67 but was unable to complete practice on Tuesday, forcing the selectors to call for reinforcements.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Senate should not interfere in Pakistan cricket: Imran

Karachi: Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan has said the country's senators should refrain from interfering in national cricket affairs.

Images: India thrash New Zealand by 10 wickets India in New Zealand 2009

Imran, now a politician, told reporters that senators have no business telling the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) what to do as they "don't know anything about the sport".

"The senators should do the job they are supposed to do and leave cricket alone," said Imran.

A war of words has been going on between the PCB chairman Ijaz Butt and the Senate's committee on sports in recent weeks.

India vs NZ: Scorecard Video Highlights

Earlier this week, Butt wrote a letter to senate chairman Farooq H Naek, challenging the senate's authority to probe national cricket affairs.

Butt is already facing a privilege motion filed by five senators last month after he said at a press conference that the committee had no powers over national cricket affairs.

The panel, which has been probing national cricket affairs for a long time, last month called the current PCB management incompetent and recommended to president Asif Zardari, the board's chief patron, that a new set-up should be appointed.

Soon afterwards, Pakistan senate's standing committee on sports moved a resolution for an "immediate change" in the PCB management.

If Butt is found guilty of a breach of privilege, he would be asked to apologise.

Meanwhile, Imran said only drastic measures can put Pakistan cricket back on track. "We will have to take concrete steps to revive our cricket," he said.

Cricket-De Villiers benefits from mind games

CAPE TOWN, March 21 (Reuters) - AB de Villiers said he was concentrating on the mental side of his game after scoring 163 to lead South Africa to a massive total of 651 against Australia on Saturday.

"I've learnt from my mistakes and I'm a better player now mentally," De Villiers told reporters after the third day's play on Saturday.

"I had a nice chat to Jacques Kallis about batting and I've changed my mindset. I know my strengths and weaknesses better, I'm less flashy and my conversion rate once I get 50 is better.

"The improvement is more in the mind really than any big technical adjustment," De Villiers added.

De Villiers, who averages 61.87 over the last two years, hit medium-pacer Andrew McDonald for four consecutive sixes, only the third man to achieve the feat in test cricket.

India's Kapil Dev did it off England's Eddie Hemmings at Lord's in 1990 and Pakistan's Shahid Afridi off Harbhajan Singh in Lahore in 2006.

"I decided to push up the run-rate and put more pressure on (Australia captain) Ricky Ponting. His leg-spinner had just gone for a few runs and I knew if his containing bowler had to go for a few too, he would have nowhere to go.

"After I hit the first three, Albie Morkel came down the pitch and said I had to make a decision now about six in a row. I told him we're playing test cricket now, but I decided to give it a go after the fourth six, but unfortunately McDonald bowled a good yorker," De Villiers said.

IPL moving to South Africa? Crisis meet today

The Indian Premier League (IPL) may be headed for South Africa, following the governing council tiring of no definite response from the government on whether the tournament can be held from next month or not.
Some IPL officials also feel there is no point in antagonising the government beyond a point. “No one wants to keep taking on the establishment. This matter is increasingly becoming a poll issue, and we want to stay away from politics,” a top Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official said. Another said that if the IPL did move, it would be a one-off affair and it would remain “Indian in character”.

Following a teleconference among key IPL officials on Saturday, an emergency meeting of the BCCI working committee was called on Sunday in Mumbai. One of the proposals, among several alternatives that could be considered, is expected to be the move to South Africa.

Franchise owners were sounded out about this on Saturday and are likely to meet with IPL-BCCI officials after the Sunday meeting. “It’s not the best solution, but it’s better than not holding the event,” a franchise official told Hindustan Times.

"In terms of logistics, it will not hit either the IPL or the teams too much. IMG — the company that manages the IPL — has an office in Johannesburg. Flying players and officials to South Africa will be the biggest expenditure,” a team owner said. But the IPL is expected to subsidise all parties and work out a revenue-sharing deal.

Though both IPL and Cricket South Africa (CSA) officially denied the move, sources said IPL chief Lalit Modi had had informal talks with CSA chief Gerald Majola. Reports from South Africa said cricketers’ association chief Tony Irish confirmed the talks.

A South African official told HT that a meeting between IPL officials — reportedly already en route to South Africa — and CSA was expected in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Reports indicated that CSA would not be averse to hosting the event, not just because of the revenue but also because it would show that South Africa was capable of hosting an international event.

Next year’s football World Cup, due to be held in South Africa, has been plagued by doubts over whether the crime-ravaged country is safe. A successful IPL could silence critics.

The three-and-a-half hour time difference between South Africa and India could work to the IPL’s advantage. They might start games early evening South Africa time to coincide with prime time in India.

It is believed that 12 venues in South Africa could be made available, with the northern part of the country preferred because of better weather conditions.

If the tournament does move, it is expected to start around the third week of April, after the end of the South Africa-Australia one-day series.

India Cricket Body Plans to Hold Tournament Overseas, PTI Says

March 22 (Bloomberg) -- India’s cricket body plans to hold the Indian Premier League tournament overseas, the Press Trust of India reported, citing Shashank Manohar, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

The country where the Twenty20 cricket tournament will be held is to be decided in two or three days, the Press Trust said.

India earlier this month had asked the Indian Premier League to redraw its cricket match schedule because of security concerns as it coincided with the national and state elections. Elections will be held in five phases between April and May.

The Indian Premier League tournament, a shorter version of the game spread over about three hours, was first held in India last year.

England beats NZ to win cricket Women's World Cup

SYDNEY: Caroline Atkins top-scored with 40 runs and late replacement Nicky Shaw took four wickets for 34 as England beat New Zealand by four wickets Sunday to claim the Women's World Cup.

It was England's third World Cup win and came after the side dismissed New Zealand for 166 in the 47th over at North Sydney Oval after the Kiwis won the toss and chose to bat.

England scored 167-6 and surpassed New Zealand's total with 23 balls remaining.

Fast medium bowler Shaw received a call-up just a few minutes before the team list was submitted after Jenny Gunn aggravated a calf strain during her team's warmup. Shaw's figures of 4-34 from 8.2 overs were her best one-day international totals of her career.

Shaw (17) was at the crease when Holly Colvin (5) hit the winning runs for England.
Earlier, New Zealand slumped to 101-7 after 29 overs and at one stage went scoreless for 23 balls.

An eighth-wicket partnership of 63 off 99 balls between Lucy Doolan (48) and Nicola Browne (25) added some much needed respectability to the Kiwi total.

England captain Charlotte Edwards said the win was a big relief after having dropped Shaw from the side only to recall her when Gunn suffered her injury.

"It's a really special moment and I'll treasure it for the rest of my life," said Edwards. "We were up against a very good New Zealand team and they never gave up."

New Zealand captain Haidee Tiffen said her side might have been caught up in the emotion of the day.

"Maybe there were some nerves in amongst the camp," Tiffen said. "We didn't hype it up to be anything more than another day at the office. Unfortunately it was a bad day at the office."

On Saturday, India beat Australia by three wickets in the match for third place, ensuring the hosts posted their worst performance at any Women's World Cup. It was the first time in nine tournaments Australia has finished lower than third and the first time they had lost three times in the one tournament.

At Bankstown Oval in Sydney, India clinched the win with 13 balls to spare in a match that was reduced to 46 overs after a 104-minute morning rain delay. Australia was dismissed for 142, with veteran skipper Karen Rolton top-scoring with 52 in possibly her final World Cup innings.

Player of the match Rumeli Dhar (24 not out; 2-21) and captain Jhulan Goswami (18 not out), who was playing her 100th one-day international, also combined at the end in a decisive unbroken stand of 41 off 51 balls to guide India to a winning total of 145-7.


Score of final:

England 167-6 (Caroline Atkins 40, Sarah Taylor 39; Lucy Doolan 3-23, Aimee Mason 2-28) def. New Zealand 166 all out (Lucy Doolan 48, Haidee Tiffen 30, Nicola Browne 25; Nicky Shaw 4-34, Laura Marsh 2-34) by four wickets at North Sydney Oval.

New cricket administration under scrutiny

Sri Lanka Cricket’s new interim committee headed by former leg-spinner DS de Silva was straight away put under the microscope in the most bizarre fashion when one of its employees barged in to the inaugural conference they had with the media last Wednesday breaking all protocol and trying to use the forum to present his side of the story.

This employee who had survived under several previous cricket administrations has been under the spotlight from the media for his nefarious activities which have so far gone unheeded giving the individual a sense of self-imposed power that he is ‘untouchable’ and that he could get away with anything under the sun.

This individual known as BH Perera or to some as ‘Podi Sir’ or often referred to in the media as the ‘Tender Fraudster’ was put in his place by the interim committee chairman DS de Silva who ordered him out of the meeting but not before he had created some kind of drama in front of a packed media audience that soaked up every bit of the action that took place before their very eyes.

The new interim committee straightaway went into action issuing a press statement a few hours after the incident apologising to the media over the incident and suspending the employee from employment pending an inquiry. A further release issued two days after the incident stated that Perera had been handed a letter of suspension from all duties related to Sri Lanka Cricket pending an inquiry.

The integrity of the new interim committee is in question as to what type of action they would take against Perera who has proved quite immune to allegations and charges brought against him under previous administrations. The new interim chairman made it clear at the inaugural press briefing that his committee would be above political fiefdom and would tolerate no outside interference referring to the Ministry of Sports which hounded the previous interim administration headed by Arjuna Ranatunga for virtually every action they took. Let’s wait and see.

Whilst commending the action taken so far by the De Silva administration reports in the media indicate that moves are afoot to replace the CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket Duleep Mendis ahead of his contractual period which ends in December. So far no charges have been brought against Mendis and any reasons given why his services are no longer needed by the present administration. Mendis has served in this position for the past five years and has been an employee of SLC since 2000 serving initially in the capacity of National Cricket Development chairman. Reports suggest that he is to be given a golden hand shake and paid his salary upfront and asked to leave for reasons best known to the interim committee. But any such move at this stage is bound to push back the progress of the new administration which is at its infancy stage having been in office for only 10 days being appointed on March 12. Needless to say the seven appointed personnel in the committee don’t carry much weight in terms of cricket administrative experience.

The De Silva management should not act like the way a new government does when it comes to power making wholesale changes for the sake of a change without any tangible reasons. To do so would be to invite disaster into the fold. Mendis may have his faults and misgivings but to remove him at this stage would deprive the new administration of the much needed experience that the former national captain could bring to the table. The best way is to make the maximum use of Mendis’ experience and try to develop Sri Lanka cricket for the next two years which the chairman has stated are the most vital years for cricket in this country, rather than banish him and replace him with someone with lesser experience.

It would be imprudent to remove Mendis from his position at this point of time where he is the only recognized individual all international cricket boards and the International Cricket Council (ICC) have come to accept and respect as the sole representative of Sri Lanka Cricket in a vulnerable environment where cricket administration keeps changing like one changes infants nappies.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Threat of Terrorism Casts Doubt on Future of Indian Cricket

The disclosure that Pakistani militants planned to kidnap Indian cricketers underscores the terrorism concerns that threaten to cancel an upcoming cricket tournament.
Kidnapping Plot Stokes Cricket Terrorism Fears
The Delhi Police told a city court Tuesday that a Pakistan-based Islamic group had planned to kidnap Indian cricket players Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar earlier this decade. The revelation, coming two weeks after the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in Pakistan, has cast further doubt on the safety of cricketers in the subcontinent.

The Indian Premier League, a professional league that includes many of the world’s best players, is scheduled to begin its Twenty-20 cricket tournament next month despite security concerns following the Sri Lanka attack. League officials and sponsors are reluctant to cancel the lucrative tournament, which generates $1 billion from television alone.

The six-week tournament, which runs from April 10 to May 24, coincides with the general elections in India between April 16 and May 13. The Indian government has warned the IPL that government security forces will be unable to provide adequate security for both the elections and the cricket games, and has asked the IPL to postpone the tournament.
The IPL has been working with the government to adjust the tournament schedule, and on Tuesday it announced that the cities of New Delhi and Jaipur—home of defending champions the Rajasthan Royals—would not be hosting matches. The schedule appears likely to be approved by the government, but there is still doubt surrounding the tournament.

Delhi Police Commissioner Y. S. Dadwal said Wednesday that he agreed matches should not be held in the capital city. “We are stretched,” he said. “I will have to withdraw personnel from their present assignments to provide security for IPL matches. We are all cricket fans, but my priority is to provide security to the people.”
Background: Lahore cricket attack
On March 3, a bus carrying the Sri Lankan national cricket team to its match in Lahore, Pakistan, was attacked by 12 gunmen believed to belong to a militant group with ties to al-Qaida. Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed, while several players and coaches were injured.

Due to the attack, the first terrorist attack targeting athletes since the 1972 Munich massacre, international cricket matches will not be played in Pakistan for the foreseeable future. Many analysts fear that a terrorist attack in India would have a similar effect.

Opinion & Analysis: IPL security concerns

Cricket columnist Pradeep Magazine writes in the Hindustan Times that tournament organizers must be willing adhere to the government’s requests in order to protect the long-term future of the game. Though the IPL may lose money by radically changing its schedule, it cannot risk a terrorist attack that would devastate cricket in the country.

“If those who administer the game don’t respond with care and sensitivity, this million-dollar industry could come to a grinding halt,” he writes.

However, some IPL officials believe that security concerns are not the cause of the government’s objections to the IPL schedule, according to Cricket360. One official anonymously told the Web site, “Politicians want the election fever to grip the nation. They don’t want them to get distracted by Indian Premier League. … Politicians of all parties would prefer to get IPL off their backs till the elections are over.”
Reference: Cricket and the IPL
The Indian Premier League is an eight-team professional league that began play last year. The official Web site of the IPL features news, statistics, game results, video, and team and player profiles.
Source: The Official Web Site of the Indian Premier League
go to site »
A basic explanation of how to play cricket is provided by Purdue professor Antony Hosking.
Source: Purdue University
go to site »
The IPL plays Twenty20 cricket, a variation of the traditional game that takes less time to play. The Twenty20 explains how it differs from traditional cricket.
Source: The Twenty20

Political Stability required for Resurrection of Pak Cricket

The international cricket series to be played between Pakistan and Bangladesh was postponed in the aftermath of the Lahore attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team and now has been put on hold because of security in Bangladesh. However for Pakistan cricket to get back on track, it is important that should return to the country a degree of political stability which can give the cricket fraternity the assurance that Pak cricket is on the road to recovery and a safe place to host international cricket matches.

The current political situation in Pakistan is not one that inspires confidence in anyone, least of all the international cricket fraternity. The President is at the receiving end of ultimatums from the army to put its house in order, it has had to give into extremist forces within the country to broker peace which has resulted in compromising the sovereignty of its territory; things are far from stable or secure. That there is a political crisis in the country is undeniable.
Inevitably this has reflected on the cricket community in Pakistan, with those connected with cricket in Pak coming out in the cricket news as saying that political stability was a prerequisite to any kind of stability in cricket. The Chief Operating Officer of the Pakistan cricket board, Saleem Altaf was quoted as having said that international cricket's return to Pakistan hinges on political stability in the country, essential to ensure a secure environment for touring teams.
It is widely perceived in Pak that cricket is imperiled in the country. Neutral venues for playing any series with other sides in international cricket is far from an ideal solution, but at this time it is the only one available to Pak. "I think we are already mentally preparing to play that series at neutral venues as that is the only option available to us at this stage unless there is stability in the country," Altaf was quoted in the cricket news as saying.
He admitted that the situation within Pak looked bad to the rest of the world and that it had to improve before the situation in Pak cricket improved. “Once there is political stability in the country and a secure environment teams will return to play international cricket. The rest of the world sees the situation in Pakistan as volatile and unless that perception changes with time, it is very difficult for the Pakistan Cricket Board to convince teams to come here," he added.
Although it had been announced at the beginning of the month that the Aussie team would be playing Pak at a neutral venue, there has been no recent conformation of this news. The PCB also faces the problem of fining neutral venues for the New Zealand tour later in the year.

Earmarking crickets / Special interest allocations draw fire, but Utahns with cricket trouble love this one

GROUSE CREEK -- Big bugs with bulging goggle eyes swarmed the remote ranching outpost of Grouse Creek like a biblical plague. Each of the past four summers, the hungry critters known as Mormon crickets have marched by the tens of thousands over grassy hillsides, past juniper trees, across dirt roads and through ranch houses. The noisy insects have devoured crops, frightened children and threatened families' livelihoods in the tranquil high desert.
"It's almost like an Alfred Hitchcock movie," said Brent Tanner, who helps run a large cattle ranch in Grouse Creek that has been in his family since the 1870s. "You just see swarms of these large crickets that move in and can be devastating to crops, and certainly are very irritating. They'll just crawl right into your house, get up on your walls. It's enough to drive a person totally insane."
And this summer, scientists say, it's a sure bet Mormon crickets will be back.
So to the 80-odd folks who live in Grouse Creek, the $1 million congressional earmark secured by their state's junior senator to kill the insects is hardly wasteful pork, as it has been demonized. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and television comedian Jon Stewart may lampoon it as an egregious example of government spending, but to Grouse Creek, the earmark is salvation.
"Everything that's green is just gone," said Tanner's older brother, Jay, who described what happens after Mormon crickets hatch on federal land, migrate onto his family's Della Ranches and eat up acres of grass, alfalfa and cattle feed.
The passage of the $410 billion omnibus spending bill rekindled the debate in Washington over lawmakers' long-standing and fiercely guarded practice of appropriating public money for pet projects. The legislation contained more than 8,500 earmarks, which together accounted for roughly 2 percent of the bill's overall spending.

But since the bill was introduced last month, McCain, among the most vocal critics of earmarks, has highlighted projects he considers pork-laden. Opining on his Twitter page about the Mormon crickets earmark, he asked, "Is that the species of cricket or a game played by the brits?"
Earmarks do not mandate additional spending. Rather, they require federal agencies to set aside portions of their budgets for specific projects. Critics say this process has long been ripe for corruption. McCain recently called the spending provisions a "gateway drug" to possibly illegal forms of influence peddling.
When it comes to Mormon crickets, there is no quid pro quo.
"Who gave me the campaign contribution with respect to Mormon crickets?" Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, the earmark's sponsor, said in an interview. "The answer is, obviously, nobody."
Since 2002, earmarks of $350,000 to $1.1 million have been aimed at cricket control, and local officials say the controls appear to be working. At their recent peak in 2004, Mormon crickets infested about 2.8 million acres, a figure that declined to 37,500 acres in 2008, according to state data.
But officials say the insects are difficult, if not impossible, to kill off. "We don't believe eradication is possible," said Larry Lewis, spokesman for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
State officials kill the insects by laying poisonous bait -- rolled oats laced with insecticide -- around populated areas and private ranches, Lewis said. The cost is shared equally among the federal government, state government and landowners.
Lately, ground zero for Mormon crickets has been Grouse Creek. There, residents said, the cricket swarms have been so dense that ranchers driving over them on a road leave behind a gooey layer as slick as ice. Townspeople keep brooms by their front doors to sweep away crickets when they open their doors.
There have been economic consequences, too. In ravaging pastures, Mormon crickets leave cattle without feed, dealing a blow to Utah's agricultural economy, which Bennett valued at $340 million. So spending $1 million on cricket control to protect the area's cattle industry should be an easy choice, Bennett argues.
Bennett, a top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, sponsored 64 earmarks totaling $93.9 million in the latest bill, ranking him 41st among 100 senators, according to the anti-earmarks group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Bennett said his earmark for Mormon cricket control is "as defensible a one that they'll ever find. It's good public policy, it's good economic policy, and it's the kind of thing a representative from the West should do."
Critics argue that lawmakers should not have unchecked authority to allocate public dollars and that these decisions should be left to federal agencies.
"I don't doubt that Utah has a serious problem with the Mormon cricket," said Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), one of three Democratic senators who voted against the spending bill. "I'm just not sure that it's fair to the other states. ... I think the process of earmarking is too arbitrary."
For weeks, ranchers in Grouse Creek have listened to McCaskill, McCain and talk show hosts rail against pork-barrel spending. But they politely disagree.
"I voted for Senator McCain and I know he's straight down the line on no earmarks, but I would disagree with him," said Brent Rose, 53, who tends to 1,000 cattle on his family's sprawling ranch.
"I would ask, 'Doesn't the government have a responsibility to control the pests that come off of their land?' "

Cricket teams strike

The tension between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) erupted yesterday into a full-scale boycott of the WICB Regional Four-Day Tournament with none of the scheduled three matches in round 11 getting underway
The West Indies (WI) team also protested by placing masking tape over the Digicel logos on their uniforms during play against England in the first match of the One-Day International series in Guyana yesterday.
The regional players strike occurred one day after WIPA president Dinanath Ramnarine resigned his executive post on the WICB citing their inability to address issues concerning the welfare of the cricketers.
Manager of the Trinidad and Tobago (TT) team, Colin Borde revealed he was stunned when informed about the players strike yesterday morning. The national team is in St Vincent to play the Windward Islands at the Arnos Vale Ground.
“At 8.15 am, I, like every manager in the Caribbean, was informed about the decision of the players to strike. I was told by Daren Ganga that the team would not be playing because of the ongoing strike between WIPA and the WICB. He then informed me that the players will be in their room awaiting further word from WIPA,” said Borde.
Following the news of the strike, Borde explained he made calls to president of the TTCB, Deryck Murray informing him of the action taken by the players and the relevant officials.
“I went to the match venue and informed the umpires and match officials that the players will not be coming to play because they are striking. I also spoke to manager of the Windward Islands team Lockheart Sebastien and the necessary arrangements were made,” said Borde.
The TT manager stated he was optimistic the remainder of the first class season would not be lost but accepted that in the current climate of cricket there will be a lot of conflict.
Despite striking, the national team completed a training session at 3 pm keeping themselves ready for the resumption of cricket.
“We came here to play cricket and get 12 points against the Windward Islands. The players need to know when they have to focus and when they could relax,” noted Borde.
The regional strike is expected to conclude today with all matches including Jamaica versus Combined Campuses and Colleges, Barbados versus Leeward Islands and Windward Islands against TT bowling off with the matches revised to three days.
At the press conference on Thursday, in which he announced his resignation, Ramnarine hinted at the possibility of the West Indies team boycotting one of the test series in 2009 but gave no indication of the impending strike in the regional first-class competition.
“We have to decide at this point in time where we go from here and whether in fact these matters are serious enough for us to take that sort of action (boycott). I have to say that it is very unfortunate because really the truth and the fact is we should be talking about how we could be continuing the progress of West Indies cricket,” said Ramnarine.
The WI team playing against England in Guyana yesterday, wore masking tape over the Digicel logos on their left arm, in a show of solidarity for their peers. The masking tapes were removed at the drinks break. WI captain Chris Gayle also blocked out shirt manufacturer Vampire’s logo which was also removed at the interval.
Julian Hunte, president of the WICB, revealed a meeting has been arranged between his organisation and WIPA to thrash out the issues which have aggrieved the players body enough for them to warrant industrial action. This meeting will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday in Barbados.
WIPA, in a press release yesterday, instructed its regional members and international players to proceed with their respective fixtures and obligations pending the outcome of the meeting in Barbados.
Hunte refused to divulge the main items on the agenda but explained that the regional governing body has requested the attendance of the WI players.
“It will be premature for us to speak about the issues that have been submitted for our consideration, but I believe we will also want the players to be in attendance at the meeting on Tuesday because things have reached the stage where we need to involve them so that they can hear both sides,” he said.
Ramnarine gave an outline of the main issues of contention on Thursday including retainer contracts and first class fees. The WIPA boss pointed out the regional players are not satisfied with their salaries which have been stagnant since the last industrial action in 2003.
“As far as the first class fees are concerned, while the board members have recognised and publicly acknowledged that these are extremely low, nothing has changed since we were forced to take industrial action in 2003, some 15 years after the previous increase,” he stated.
Injury payments, the updated anti-doping policy, non-payment of players for the recently concluded tour of New Zealand, outstanding monies for 2008 retainer contracts, the finalisation of contract fees for the current series versus England, the upcoming tour of England, the West Indies ‘A’ team fees for the match against England and the Provident Fund– a pension scheme for retired players–are some of the important matters WIPA is expected to put on the table.
“These matters ought to be dealt with you just cannot go and sign a contract with someone when there are outstanding issues from the previous contract. You either agree to a mechanism to deal with it in a timely fashion and you proceed in good faith. We served the notice in June 2008 but the actual agreement was in November/December 2007 and again these are minutes coming from the WICB agreeing to certain things on how we proceed with third party agreements,” said Ramnarine.
Forbes Persaud, CEO of the TT Cricket Board (TTCB), was hesitant about supporting the national players in their protest, stating he is yet to officially know the nature of the conflict. He revealed he was aware of the issues raised by Ramnarine that led to his resignation from the WICB but was not willing to comment further.
He revealed the TTCB is not likely to take action against the players since the strike was not a unilateral one but involved all teams competing in the regional four-day tournament.
“The manager called me in the morning and said the players were not taking the field based on instructions from WIPA. We understand that the strike was for today only,” he said.

It's just not cricket

What is it to be British? For columnist Katharine Whitehorn, it is to refuse to countenance torture, to speak English, and to respect the law of the land - and nothing to do with enjoying the thwack of willow upon leather.
Who do I think I am? Who do we think we are? What makes for loyalty, or a sense of what class or nationality or religion we belong to? The conviction that we are a certain sort of people. We behave in a certain way, we have certain rights, certain taboos - and certain values.
We see ourselves as British because we will insist on doing this, and are absolutely not the sort of people who ever, EVER, do that.
At least so I thought. But now it becomes increasingly clear that if we didn't actually torture anybody ourselves, we did the next best thing in helping Americans, or at least profiting from their use of torture.
I know that we the British haven't had too good a record in the past on this - we apparently tortured Barack Obama's grandfather, and it's still a matter for debate whether the good we may have done in the way of missionaries, commerce, occasionally schools (not enough), stopping people burning their widows and so forth, does or doesn't outweigh the brutality we undoubtedly inflicted while keeping the Empire under control.
But by now we hoped that was all in the past, which people can surely put behind them. We're constantly told that nice young Germans are not Nazis, that people in this or that Pacific island don't eat each other any more (whether or not they actually ate only a few significant bits to partake of the strength of their enemies, or were simply after the healthful protein). What we're talking about is now.
The standard we aspire to, our only claim to be better than our enemies is that we are more civilised than they are; that whatever the provocation there are things that we simply do not do.
Torture is one of them. I can't remember who it was who said that it wasn't winning that was difficult, but winning without becoming too like your enemy. Torture certainly doesn't bring any tactical benefit big enough to justify the appalling loss of one's principles and integrity; an English common law ruling as long ago as 1783 said anything got by torture should not be given any credibility.
The United States has come to realise, I suppose, that however useful the information they got from Guantanamo Bay, it is puny and negligible compared to the massive and catastrophic damage it did to its reputation.
Ends and means
There is more than one view on torture, of course - the Michael Ignatieff view is that one establishes firmly that one does not, in any circumstances, sanction torture. But that if you knew you had in front of you the one man who had the plans and the means to blow up all London, and the question was whether you stuck to your principles and didn't use the thumbscrew - or did use it and saved London - you would have to do it, but would be forgiven.
Anthropologist Jeremy Swift, who has one of the most subtle minds I know, says no. If it was ever the right thing to do, the only honest thing you can say is: "In some circumstances I would." I don't know who is right on that one.
Until now, people like me - who have lived in the US, been inspired by its ideals, have close friends and a son there - have sympathised with them for having a Bush government that allowed things like Guantanamo and so let them in for the world's obloquy. Well, now it's us, who thought - hoped anyway- that such things were just not British.
So what is being British? It has nothing to do with knowing about Agincourt, the Corn Laws or the Kings and Queens of England, since half our allegedly educated young Britons born here do not. And certainly nothing whatever to do with cricket, or I'm a Bolivian.
For me, it comes down to two things: to be British you must speak English and respect the law. Note I don't say obey the law, as too many Britons obviously don't, much of the time. And of course there are differences between Scottish law and English.
But even burglars and swindlers still reckon they'll be hauled up in front of the courts, subject to one or another form of British law, with all its safeguards, achieved bit by bit over centuries.
Whatever the minor discrepancies, it's a question of what you consider to be the law - not thinking women should be stoned to death if they sleep with the wrong man; not thinking you can get away with murder if you belong to the right church; and certainly not thinking Sharia law, that would more or less negate all the rights that two centuries of British women have fought for, should supersede ours.
Which stands for being the sort of people who don't pull people's toenails out; who obey the Geneva conventions; who have at least an idea of fairness and honour.
Mother tongue
So where does speaking English come into all this? Language, too is a vital part of the interface between those who grew up here and those who didn't, the others, the outsiders - and it's another problem we share with the US.
They require those becoming citizens to learn English for very good reason - the constitution and all it implied was formed in English, and if you wanted to uphold it, benefit from it, you had to learn it. (A friend of mine had met a man who, as a child, had always thought that English was something that declined with age, like sight or hearing; because he spoke it perfectly, his mother pretty well but his grandmother - the original immigrant - was really bad at it.)
At one point the flood of Spanish-speaking immigrants in California was such that they decided children should be taught initially in their mother tongue, Spanish. After quite a few years it was the Spanish-speaking parents who asked for this kind privilege to be stopped, as they realised that the children of Oriental immigrants got ahead far faster - they weren't hampered by having to learn the national tongue as a second language.
A lot of liberally minded people would say that requiring English is restrictive, makes things hard for the less brainy or more elderly. That it's more civilised to accept that we have a lot of languages spoken here, and it's only fair to interpret for them.
I absolutely don't agree, for two reasons. The first is that if you don't understand English, you can't understand what's going on - you are second class citizens and can't effectively take part in any public debate.
You can have the news and views interpreted for you - but who by? The local mullah? The head of the household - who may be very happy to have his wife unable to know anything he doesn't tell her? It reminds one of the prosecution's remarks in the famous Lady Chatterly trial: "Would you like your wife or your servants to read this book?"
Your seven-year-old son, who has learned English at school, can interpret for you - but do you want him to be the one who tells your medical troubles to the doctor?
A few years back the winner of a prize in medical communication was a pair who went around lecturing about getting through to difficult groups - deaf people, people with learning difficulties, people who didn't speak English. They had a marvellously telling film of an Asian woman consulting the doctor about pain in intercourse, using her cousin as interpreter - who instead said she had irregular periods, because that was more seemly - so the doctor prescribed for that.
And restaurant inspectors, I'm told, have given up using the children to relay their criticisms to the owners of mucky ethnic kitchens, as the kids don't want to say anything that might upset Papa.
Melting pot
There is no going back on the single fact that tribes and races and nations are now totally intertwined. The conflicts are not about to go away.
To my mind it doesn't matter what your meal times are, what clothes you wear, whether you keep birthdays or saints days or name days, what songs you sing, whether you think the world came from outer space, was made in six days or sits on the back of an elephant.
The nation that now has chicken tikka masala as its favourite dish can absorb almost anything - but only if it hangs on to the essentials that make it what it is - our language and above all our law. It can be improved, made more enlightened. Stripped of bureaucratic inessentials. Made fairer to both sexes, adapt to changing conditions. But keep its essential premise - that all are equal before the law. Not, as George Orwell's pigs in Animal Farm had it, that some are more equal than others.
Remember the exchange in the play A Man for All Seasons? Cranmer likens the law to trees, saying he would cut down every law in England to get at the devil. And Thomas More says "And when you have cut down every law and the devil comes after you, where will you hide?"

Cricket for Bigger Gains

The cheer girls are ready, the squads are rolled out, the venues are set but the Indian Premier League is still taking sometime to take off. The tussle between the home ministry and the high profile IPL officials have delayed the dates. And no one knows when the league will get a green signal.
However it has got the biggest names lined up, and not just for money. Kevin Pietersen believes that India’s performance levels have gone up due to the IPL. So like KP, many biggies want to get T20-ready ahead of the World T20 Championship. IPL offers them the ideal platform to think, strategize, play and win in the super-short version of the game. The championship kicks off in England shortly after the IPL and most of the top line T20 players will turn up for the billion dollar league in India.
Despite security concerns and home ministry delaying permissions due to elections clashing with the IPL, no one yet has cancelled their India trip. The players and their managers have blocked the dates for India. After all India till date is not perceived as dangerous a territory as Pakistan. So it is just not money but the thrill of twenty20, the glitz, the glamour, the high that the likes of Shane Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Graeme Smith and many more do not want to give it a miss.
Such is the passion of this format that many have books their tickets a fortnight in advance. Some top players will come down soon to get acclimatized to the Indian conditions. All that they are waiting now is the date. Many in Australia still believe that Adam Gilchrist had a year or two cricket left in him and so did Shane Warne. They called it quits because they found IPL the ideal cricket fix for the year. So they will not be there in Australia’s defence of Ashes this summer.
Minus Gilly, minus Warnie, minus Haydos, minus Pigeon it won’t be easy. So Ricky Ponting made a conscious decision to stay away from the league and concentrate on the Ashes later in the summer. Though many would say his decision of not coming for IPL is largely because The KKR management refused to guarantee him a place in the side. Whatever it may be, the top line is not coming to India and if the series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi falls through they may well head to England for conditioning.
Infact some of them have raised interest to turn out for English counties. The counties themselves are excited at the prospect of little help from the Aussies to reclaim their regional glories. But English skipper Andrew Strauss feels that allowing them to appear in counties will be at the cost of national interest. Stuart Clark will turn up for Kent. Strauss thinks that Australians playing county cricket before the Ashes is different because Stuart Clark will be using a stint with Kent to regain form and fitness after elbow surgery. The Australian vice captain dismissed Strauss four times in the previous Ashes series.
Of course ECB does not have the power to over rule the counties. So they cannot stop the influx of the Aussies ahead of the Ashes. But the BCCI certainly has more authority in the running for the game. So Mr. Modi and Co is currently involved in a powerplay that could well see a season two of IPL shortly, even if it is not in the ideal home and away format.

Cricket-Asif contests legal bill after Dubai detention

KARACHI, March 21 (Reuters) - Pakistan's banned pace bowler Mohammad Asif is contesting a bill of 6.5 million rupees ($80,770) presented by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for legal help.
The board's finance department want to recover the amount it says was spent on helping Asif during his 19-day detention in Dubai last June after he was stopped at the airport for carrying 0.24 grams of opium in his wallet.
Asif was released by the Dubai authorities without facing any criminal charges after the PCB hired a law firm to represent him.
"They have sent me a bill of around 6.5 million rupees but I have said I am not in a position to pay this amount," Asif said on Saturday. "I have been paid nothing by the board nor earned anything since last July because of the ban."
Asif, who has played 11 tests, is serving a one-year ban after testing positive for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone during the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year. He has denied intentionally using drugs.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cricket Launches Nokia 3606 with AWS and Series 40

Cricket has launched one of the internal Nokia models first revealed last year in the 3606.
The midrange clamshell phone features tri-band AWS CDMA support (800/1700/1900), OLED external display with touch sensitive media player controls, Bluetooth with stereo audio support, microSDHC slot with support for 8GB cards, and a 1.3 megapixel camera with video recorder and LED flash along with Series 40 support, confirming internal Nokia production.
The phone is now available online for $159.99 after $20 instant online discount before an additional $20 mail-in rebate, bringing the total to $139.99.

Cricket: Tendulkar reigns supreme - NZ's batting woes continue

Live scoring
India claimed three wickets in the final session to leave New Zealand struggling at 75-3 after Sachin Tendulkar notched his 42nd test century to power the visitors to a first innings total of 520 on the third day of the first test in Hamilton.
Tendulkar's 160 helped India to a commanding position in reply to New Zealand's first innings of 279. At stumps, New Zealand still trailed by 166 runs with its fragile middle order exposed and India holding a grip on the first match of a three-test series.
Tendulkar further contributed to India's dominant position when he caught opener Tim McIntosh at slip from the third ball of the innings, before New Zealand had scored.
However, television replays showed the ball, bowled by Zaheer Khan which took the outside edge of McIntosh's bat, may have bounced a fraction of an inch in front of Tendulkar before his hands closed around it.
Tendulkar left the field for medical attention to a cut hand after taking the catch and it is unlikely he could have known if the ball had carried to him, although McIntosh left the field in company with him with obvious reluctance.
The dismissal was a blow to New Zealand's chances of saving the match, which became more tenuous when test rookie Martin Guptill was out for 48 and nightwatchman Kyle Mills fell to the last ball before stumps.
Daniel Flynn was unbeaten on 24 at the end of play.
The day revolved around Tendulkar and his superb innings, which brought up his fourth century against New Zealand and extended his lead over Australian captain Ricky Ponting (37) on the list of test century-makers.
Tendulkar resumed Friday at 70 not out, having batted for 210 minutes on the second day for his 52nd half century in his 157th test. He reached his century in 260 minutes, from 168 balls with 15 fours and his 150 in 359 minutes when India was 407-5. The innings marked the 18th time in his career Tendulkar has scored 150 or more.
He was finally caught by Ross Taylor, standing upright at first slip off Iain O'Brien, after occupying the crease for exactly 400 minutes, facing 260 balls and hitting 26 boundaries.
Tendulkar took 20 runs from the first 13 balls he faced Friday to move into the 90s, then slowed before reaching his century from 168 balls in 260 minutes and with 15 fours.
He took a pair of twos and two singles to reach 96, then a three to got to 99, denied his century at that point by a desperate save on the cover boundary by New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori.
Tension built around Seddon Park, and among a crowd of several thousand made up overwhelmingly of New Zealanders of Indian descent, as Tendulkar played out a maiden over from Chris Martin to remain poised for 10 minutes on 99.

Ryder century impresses cricket legends

Former internationals are struggling to remember a better maiden test century than the one posted by Jesse Ryder against India in Hamilton this week.
The most talked about New Zealand cricketer in the last decade almost played the perfect innings, curbing his natural aggressive instincts because his team was in a deep hole against a quality attack on a first day test pitch.
Ryder's 102 was his fourth successive 50-plus score in tests and came just 10 days after he posted his maiden one-day hundred in Christchurch.
Former Indian international Ravi Shastri marvelled at the way Ryder was able to adapt to his game to the match situation.
"I see him getting many more hundreds but at the end of it all he might just rate this as one of his best," Shastri said. "It was that good a hundred and for someone to get his maiden hundred in that fashion when the chips are down is terrific."
Martin Crowe was impressed by Ryder's defence, saying 80 per cent of a test match innings was normally about blocking the ball or choosing not to play it.
Ryder was content to see off offspinner Harbhajan Singh for the most part, but he drove, cut and pulled with immense power when the fast bowlers erred.
Crowe said Ryder looked like a person born to bat.
"He to me looks like a man who is comfortable out in the middle with a bat in his hand.
"That is his whole life. He has a few troubles off the field that he is working very hard at, but get him out in the park and he looks to have the temperament in which to maximise the great potential he has."
Each New Zealand player chooses a specialist coach who they work with on an occasional basis.
Ryder chose John Wright and his mentor was chuffed to see his pupil prosper.
"I've worked a little bit with Jesse but not a lot before the test," Wright said.
"I watched it all and couldn't help but be impressed.
"Everything is so natural about him and the big thing now is the thinking process and whether he can monitor that.
"Hopefully he will work out how he was thinking and what he did well.
"The thing that strikes me is that Jesse looks the most contented in his life when he is out in the middle." Wright rates Ryder as the bargain buy of the Indian Premier League, after Bangalore snapped him up for US$160,000 (NZ$295,000) on a two-year contract.
"You would have to say that now looks a tremendous buy for them and then you have the other bloke Martin Guptill sitting on the shelf, he is a marvellous hitter and prospect."
The man behind the scenes for Ryder is his manager Aaron Klee.
Klee was racing home from work in Wellington desperate to see Ryder reach three figures and he admits he just about drove off the road when the radio commentators described Iain O'Brien's dismissal when Ryder was on 98 leaving Chris Martin as his final partner.
Klee is pleased for Ryder, given his trials off the park and confirms Ryder has not had a drink since his lapse in Wellington on January 7.
Klee said Ryder was desperately keen to do well against India because of the disruptions earlier in the season through injury and ill discipline.
"He said to me at the start of the series that he was amped up, so he was in the right frame of mind," Klee said.
Ryder's batting exploits during the one-day series and now the first test against India are being written up very favourably by the touring Indian media. Ryder posted scores of 11, 105, 46 and 63 in the one-dayers.
Klee shrugs his shoulders and believes there will be significant spinoffs through endorsements in India for Ryder to get income in keeping with his peers.
"There will be opportunities for him if he keeps playing the way he is playing, but I do see he is now being talked about as the best buy in the IPL."

Briefs-England cricket captain Strauss fit for one-dayer

March 19 (Reuters) - Sports news in brief from around the world on Thursday:
Cricket - England captain Andrew Strauss is fit for Friday's opening match of the one-day series against West Indies.
Strauss suffered a right hamstring strain during Sunday's six-wicket defeat in the Twenty20 international and used a runner in practice on Wednesday.
"I had a little bit of a hamstring niggle but I've been working hard with the medical staff and I feel absolutely 100 percent fine," Strauss was quoted as saying on the England and Wales Cricket Board website (
Soccer - Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton could return from injury for their last five matches of the season, coach Chris Hughton said.
Barton, 26, broke a metatarsal against his former club Manchester City on Jan. 28.
"It's very much the case that we're looking at having Joey back for the last four or five matches," Hughton told Newcastle's website ( "It has been very frustrating for him and for us as well because he is a quality player. We have to cope with that but when we get him back it will be a big bonus for us."
Athletics - Triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt will compete in July's Paris Golden League meeting, organisers said.
The Jamaican will run either in the 100 or the 200 metres.

Flower must develop winning habit to secure top job

Andy Flower's good relationship with Andrew Strauss should not disguise England's failings against West Indies
So, here we are, the second half of March and England are yet to win a proper game of cricket this winter. This five-match one-day series is crucial, not just for the players' self-belief ahead of a huge summer, but for Andy Flower's chances of becoming coach on a full-time basis. It seems clear that he's developed a good understanding with Andrew Strauss – and after the shenanigans with Peter Moores and Kevin Pietersen that's no bad thing – but coaches should not be appointed because they get on with people. They should be appointed because they have a proven track record.

I've said before that the England coaching role is the top job in world cricket because of the scrutiny you come under and the expectations involved. I find it odd that the England and Wales Cricket Board needed to employ a firm of headhunters to get their man, but now that's the case you would imagine an impressive CV would be one of the chief requirements. I know Flower has worked a bit with Essex, but surely the ECB are looking for more than that. I may be wrong. Flower may be worth a gamble. But the facts are that England have so far struggled against a pretty ordinary side out in the Caribbean. If by the end of the one-day series there are still no signs of improvement, it would feel very strange indeed to name Flower as coach.

People say there is a lack of credible alternatives but one name that was mentioned for a while and now seems to have been forgotten is Graham Ford. He had success with Natal and South Africa – those CV points to impress the headhunters – and he was at Kent too, so it's not hard for the ECB to get information about him. The fact that he was apparently Kevin Pietersen's choice is irrelevant: England should choose the best man for the job, not the bloke whose connections are least likely to embarrass the ECB. Eric Simons is another name I'd like to see considered – a guy who has done well with both Western Province and South Africa.

The dressing room's first task must be to get the decision-making right. It was crazy to replace Matt Prior, who would have been full of confidence after doing well in the Trinidad Test, with Steve Davies for last Sunday's Twenty20 game. Prior needs the chance to prove himself at the top of the order: guys need time to settle into roles. As I've said so often in the past, chopping and changing is not the way to go.

Then there was the shot selection. England's batsmen didn't stick to the basics on Sunday. They over-elaborated. Davies was actually playing quite well, so why on earth would you walk six inches outside off stump and get bowled behind your legs by a delivery that actually deflected on to the wicket off the pads? That's how far he moved.

Someone in the dressing room has to take control of that and tell the batters that, if you're going to move, move towards the ball, not away from it or into the line of it. They have to keep things simple.

I spoke before the India tour about the way to bat on slow, low pitches and there has to be a chance, given what we've seen so far, that the surfaces for the five games ahead will fit into that category. It's essential to wait that bit longer and not go so hard at the ball. Play square of the wicket and play late, almost when the ball is under your eyes. Use your wrists to generate bat-speed and deflect the ball into gaps. And, please, don't move around too much. On these pitches, you need a solid base from which to get your hips into the shot and make proper contact with the ball.

If England think hard about the way they play, I still believe they can win this series. There must be a danger of West Indian complacency after all that's happened in recent weeks, and who would have thought that at the start of the series? I think England can get it together, whether it's under the captaincy of Strauss or, if his hamstring problem recurs, Pietersen – regardless of how he lost the job.

But if they don't get it together, the questions that are already being asked will get more serious. People talk about my last winter in charge as not being a successful one, but at least we managed to beat Australia in their own backyard in the Commonwealth Bank Series.

As things stand, England are yet to beat one of the weakest teams in world cricket. I'm just hoping we don't end up looking back at this winter as one of England's worst ever.

Security lapses blamed for attack on Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, March 20 (Xinhua) -- An investigation report has shown that the security lapses are to blame for the attack on Sri Lankan cricket teams in eastern Pakistan, local media reported on Friday.
"Some foreign countries were involved in the attack," said the English-language Dawn newspaper, adding that Advisor on Interior Rehman Malik had presented the 40-point report to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
The report said a "complete security lapse" gave the 12 terrorists a free hand to carry out their mission as police did not reach the scene for at least half an hour.
"The attack had been planned and financed by some foreign countries and militants fighting in South Waziristan (tribal agency) might have been used by the perpetrators," the newspaper quoted sources as saying.
At least seven people, including five policemen, were killed and 19 others, including seven Sri Lankan cricket players, were injured in the terrorist attack in eastern Pakistan's city of Lahore on March 3.
The police have so far failed to arrest any of the attackers. Only five people who had allegedly helped the terrorists were detained, reports said.

Tendulkar Century Pushes India Ahead in New Zealand Cricket Test

March 20 (Bloomberg) -- Sachin Tendulkar hit a record- extending 42nd Test century to put India in control of the first cricket Test against New Zealand in Hamilton.
Tendulkar, the highest scorer in Test history, made 160 to lift India to 520 all out, a first-innings lead of 241 runs. He then caught Tim McIntosh at slip to give Zaheer Khan his 200th Test wicket before New Zealand slumped to 75-3 at stumps.
Tendulkar batted for 400 minutes and struck 24 boundaries to move five hundreds clear of Australia captain Ricky Ponting on the all-time list and improve India’s chances of winning a series in New Zealand for the first time in 41 years.
The Black Caps ended the day 166 runs behind, with Martin Guptill scoring 48 and Daniel Flynn unbeaten on 24. The century was Tendulkar’s third in his past seven Test innings and followed his 163 not out in a one-day victory over New Zealand this month.

After Attacks, Cricket Fights for Life in South Asia

Cricket is many things to South Asia. For India and Pakistan it is continuation of war by other means. Whenever England tours, it is a chance to right colonial-era wrongs. Like Bollywood, cricket is a glue that binds, acting as a shared cultural code that overrides differences of language, nationality and culture.
Premier League (IPL), which features a fast and furious short version of the game, began in 2008 and is already worth approximately $2 billion. But last year's terror attack on Mumbai, and the assault on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan on March 3 in which eight people died (six policeman and two civilians) and several Sri Lankan players were injured have raised fears about the future of the game in the region. Will the threat of further attacks spell the end of international cricket in South Asia? (See pictures of the deadly attack on Sri Lanka's cricketers.)

In India, the answer for now seems to be no. Though there was talk of canceling the second season of the Premier League, the IPL looks set to start on April 10 per the original schedule. Security has been beefed up. Players — the teams feature the best in the world from Australia and South Africa to Sri Lanka and the West Indies — will be restricted to the ground and their hotels. Fans will have their bags checked more thoroughly. But the game will go on. "I think we don't have much of [a] choice in this," says Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan skipper whose team was targeted in Lahore. "Cricket will have to survive. It is a much-loved game in the sub-continent and when you look at global revenue, the Indian sub-continent generates a large part of it and that is very important." (See pictures of cricket.)

New Delhi-based cricket commentator G. Rajaraman says individual players may want out, but their number is unlikely to be significant. "If they want to pull out, franchisees will understand," he says, "But I believe players will come." Rajaraman points out that last year's IPL match in Jaipur between the Rajasthan Royals, led by Australian bowling great Shane Warne, and the Bangalore Royal Challengers with players from South Africa, England and Australia, went ahead despite a deadly terror attack in the city just days before. "At one level, it's a game people love and will do anything for," Rajaraman says. "At another, there is greater faith in India than there is in Pakistan."

Pakistan is indeed in much worse shape. The Sri Lankan team was touring there because India had called off its scheduled tour after the Mumbai attacks, which the Indian government blames on Pakistan-based militants. Teams like Australia and England have refused to play there, too, forcing Pakistan to consider playing all its "home" games in Dubai.

International sides have been wary of playing in Sri Lanka in the past as well. New Zealand has twice aborted tours of Sri Lanka, in 1987 after a bomb exploded in the capital Colombo, and again in 1992, when a suicide bomber detonated his payload in front of the team's hotel. That tour continued despite the five leading players and the coach pulling out. The Lahore attack, says Roshan Abeyasinghe, Sri Lankan cricket commentator and manager of Ajantha Mendis, one of the Sri Lankan players injured in the Lahore attack, just confirms the potential dangers of a sub-continental tour. "Now whatever fears they had have come true," he says. (See the worst sporting terror attacks.)

South Asian players and officials are quick to point out that the danger of an attack is not confined to their region. In July 2005, for instance, the Aussies toured England just weeks after the deadly London tube and bus attacks. "I feel that sports all over the world and not only cricket in the sub-continent have to adapt to what is happening around us," Sangakkara says. "We need to assess the situation and then take appropriate measures."

In Colombo, Sangakkara's team is back in action. "It has been actually a relief to get back to practice, to get to the field and do what we do," says Sangakkara, who wants a professional security assessment before every tour. "We have been pushing for pre-tour assessment for some time, for a manager to tour the host country and report on ground conditions, practice facilities, travel time, etc."

The Indian Premier League is bringing in South African security firm Nicholls, Steyn and Associates to manage safety for the entire tournament. Company director Bob Nicholls knows just what he's up against — he was in Mumbai at the time of last November's attacks. The Indian government has also offered to provide paramilitary forces if required, even though the country will be holding general elections over six weeks coinciding with the tournament. IPL president Lalit Modi has been in a running tiff with the government over dates and venues for his tournament, and it is a measure of the importance of cricket to India that the IPL's request to be provided additional security during the time of general elections was not only made but also entertained. The joke in India is that more people will be watching cricket than will be casting their votes anyway.