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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dastardly attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team shocks Indian board

MUMBAI: The Indian cricket board Tuesday expressed its shock over the dastardly attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in

"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) expresses its sorrow and anguish over the dastardly attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team at Lahore. We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured cricketers, and sympathise with their families and compatriots. The BCCI stands alongside Sri Lanka Cricket in this hour of crisis," said BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan.

At least six Sri Lankan cricketers including captain Mahela Jayawaredene, his deputy Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Samaraweera, Tharanga Paranavitana and Chaminda Vaas were injured Tuesday when the team bus came under attack from gunmen enroute to the Gaddafi Stadium for the ongoing Test match.

Five escorting policemen were killed in the attack that took place near the Liberty Market crossing.

The Sri Lankan team filled in for a one-day and Test series after India pulled out following the Mumbai terror attack in November last year.

Indian Premier League asked to avoid clash with general elections

NEW DELHI — Indian politician Palaniappan Chidambaram has asked the organizers of the twenty20 Indian Premier League to avoid a clash of dates with the country's general elections.

Chidambaram, the federal home minister who is charge of policing, said Tuesday that he wanted the IPL organizers to postpone the event as he did not want to "juggle security between elections and cricket matches."

"We're concerned about the security arrangements. We'll talk to the IPL organizers," Chidambaram told Indian television. "Cricket is safe in India. If the IPL clashes with elections, I don't want my forces to be stretched."

The IPL is scheduled to be held from April 10 to May 24, while the elections for the Indian Parliament's lower house will be staged across the country in five different phases between April 16 and May 13.

Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman and a vice-president of the Indian cricket board, said the IPL dates were set but the matches would be scheduled in a manner so they don't clash with elections in a particular state or city on the polling dates there.

"I agree that the IPL matches should be structured around the elections, we've taken that into account from Day 1," Modi said from Macau. "We're not going to compromise with security, but will work with government and go ahead with tournament."

IPL director Dhiraj Malhotra said there was no possibility of starting the tournament after the elections had concluded on May 13.

"Unfortunately, there's no window to shift the IPL," Malhotra said, adding that the IPL organizers would "prepare a new schedule and share it with the government."

"We can work around the dates of the voting as long as we can convince the government."

India can rise to 2nd in ICC rankings

DUBAI: The Indian cricket team has the chance to rise up a notch and replace Australia as the second-placed team in the ICC one-day rankings if
it manages to whitewash New Zealand 5-0 in the series starting tomorrow.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team is currently third, four ratings points behind second-placed Australia and five behind top team South Africa.

A clean sweep will put India ahead of Ricky Ponting's men by a fraction of a point but it would remain just behind the Proteas in what would be an extraordinarily tightly packed leader-board with one ratings point separating the top three ODI teams in world cricket.

For its part, New Zealand can move up to third ahead of India if it wins the series 4-1 or better but it will drop as low as sixth if it suffers a 5-0 defeat.

The series is also an opportunity for some of the top players to make further gains in the rankings.

Dhoni is currently enjoying the top spot in the rankings for batsmen but team-mate Yuvraj Singh is hot on his heels in third position.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Azharuddin, the new political batsman

More than eight years after former Indian cricket team captain Mohammed Azharuddin was banned from cricket for his alleged involvement in the match-fixing scandal, he now takes guard as a political batsman.

"The controversy took place long time back, I have nothing to say to that. In fact I have lodged a case against the BCCI. Now I want to keep moving forward," said Azharuddin.

Azhar, in his playing days, was a role model for all cricketers because of his fitness. His obsession with keeping himself fit would serve him well in the energy-sapping cesspool of Indian politics.

"When I was playing, my managers always told me that I should speak up. That training I have, and it will help me address the people well," said Azhar.

His admirers would like Azhar to contest from any of the three Lok Sabha constituencies in Hyderabad. The former skipper who has played 99 tests would need all his batting skills to negotiate all the political bouncers and googlies.

People who don't promote cricket are running the game: Kapil

Bangalore: Miffed by BCCI's rigid stance against the Indian Cricket League, former India captain and ICL Board Chairman today alleged the Cricket Board is just not interested in promoting the game.

“It's a very simple thing. People who do not want to promote the game are running the game,” Kapil said.

Earlier this week, a tripartite talk in Johannesburg on ICL's application seeking ICC approval failed to end the deadlock. ICC President David Morgan, chief executive Haroon Lorgat, BCCI secretary N Srinivasan, chief of the Essel Group, which is bankrolling ICL, Subhas Chandra and its business head Himanshu Mody attended the three-hour meeting.

Kapil said the basic idea was to promote the game and ICL had no reasons to feel bad about it.

“Aren't we promoting the game?. That's the bottom line. If we are promoting the game in India, then one should not feel bad. Rather one should feel proud and we are happy about that,” Kapil said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a mascot launch programme of International Wheelchair & Amputee Sports (IWAS) World Games which would be held here from November 24 to December one.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Captain's inputs important, not decisive: Ex-cricketers

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's threat to resign to back a player of his choice did not find much support among former cricketers, who on Monday insisted that while a captain does have the right to give his inputs, the final call should rest with the selectors.

The former cricketers said while a captain's views should be given priority the ultimate responsibility and authority lies with the selectors, who have been entrusted with the job.

"The inputs of captain and coach in selection matters are very important. It's also important for the selection committee chairman to have a quiet word, informally, on the day before the selection panel meeting with the captain and coach. I used to do it most of the times, but not always," former chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar said.

"If the captain's demands are reasonable then it's okay to go with him as he formalises the team strategies. Every captain will put forth his views in selection meetings and Dhoni is no exception. But the final decision rests with the selectors," he added.

Former captain Bishan Singh Bedi said that the captain's views should be considered as much as possible.

"The captain is a co-opted member of the panel. His views should be considered as much as possible. But the selectors also have their plans and they should mutually sort out the issues if there are any," Bedi said.

Former captain and selection panel chairman Chandu Borde said the captains are given their due say during the meetings.

"During our times we used to include captain and manager (now coach) in selection committee meetings for discussions. Generally 85-90 per cent players select themselves on merit and performance. Only one or two players need to be picked.

"We used to discuss among ourselves and come to an understanding. There were times when the captains used to insist on certain players and we used to try and convince him about our choice," Borde explained.

"There were times when we used to put forth certain players' names and he would try and convince us about his choice and we will agree. He knows what is best as if the team does well then he gets the credit.

"In the end of the discussions there would be a consensus on all players keeping in mind the larger interest of the team. It always used to be a unanimous decision. I don't think a captain needs to have a vote. Already there are five votes and there can be ten also without solving the problem," he added.

Abbas Ali Baig also echoed Borde's views and said selectors should pay heed to the captain's opinion if they think it is sensible.

"I think the selectors should choose the team and tell the captain what they have in mind. If the captain is not happy with a couple of players, he can convince the selectors. The captain is responsible for what happens on the field and he is crucified when the team does not do well and he should a considerable say in selections matters," he said.

"But at the same time the selectors have also watched the players and they have some idea on what the team should be like," he said.

Former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad said even a voting right to the captain would not make much of difference as just one vote against an entire panel would not count for much.

"Even if captain or coach has a vote, it's not going to help because what can two votes do against five?

"Captain having a say is not a solution to this problem, but there should be a better understanding between the members attending the selection committee meeting," the former coach and selectors said.

"We should not forget that this is a selection committee meeting and not elections, even if there are votes to decide. Decision has to be mutual and with agreement," he added.

But Gaekwad insisted that a captain's views should be respected.

"But then it is up to the captain to convince the selectors. It must have reasoning and logic. I have gone all this being a selector and a chief coach. In all likelihood players develop a rapport when they are together so things may look a bit different from a third eye and a common man's angle," he said.

Another ex-selection panel chief Bapu Nadkarni also felt that the captain has to be convincing enough in his argument for a player's selection.

"He has got every right to speak his mind in the meetings. Captain's views have to be given priority by the selectors. But it also depends on how convincing he is to get the player of his choice. But I don't agree that he should have more say that he has at present (with a vote)," he opined.

C D Gopinath felt Dhoni should have been hauled up when he threatened to quit.

"I would not accept that. He cannot say that if you do not pick a player of my choice I will step down from captaincy. It is absolutely wrong. It amounts to indiscipline. It is virtually challenging the five guys sitting there and he cannot threaten. He can make his case but he cannot say that without him, I will not lead a side."

Legendary off-spinner E A S Prasanna said, "A captain should have bigger say in selecting players. Dhoni is right in his opting for a particular player if the concerned is in right form and will be of great balance to the team. At the same time, no captain had said so far that he was not given the team that he wanted and therefore he lost a match or a series."

"Captain is only a co-opted member but in order give bigger say and more responsibility to the captain he should be given voting right in selection meetings," he added.

Another spinner Maninder Singh was more sympathetic towards Dhoni, saying that a captain invariably gets the flak when the team fails and therefore he should be given the team he wants.

"He should have a lot of say in the matter but the selectors also have a job to do and it is their job to pick the team. I think that whoever plays international cricket must be good but sometimes their form deserts them and it is then that selectors should take the decision.

"Like the captain, the selectors are also accountable because they also get flak when the team fails to perform," Maninder said.

T A Sekar said, "In my opinion it is a double edged sword. It depends on the captain. Selectors also identify talent. But captains should have a vote in the meeting."

Hayden to play in CL T20 for Chennai Super Kings

Matthew Hayden has been cleared by Cricket Australia to play for Chennai Super Kings in next month's Champions League Twenty20 starting December 3, according to coach Tim Nielsen.

Hayden, who will be playing his 100th Test in the second match against New Zealand at the Adelaide Oval from Friday, will have rush to India for the Twenty20 event before embarking on a three-Test series against South Africa.

Hayden will have Michael Hussey as his company in Chennai Super Kings team while another member of the Australian Test squad -- Peter Siddle -- will represent Victoria Bushrangers in the Twenty20 tournament which is wedged between the series against New Zealand and South Africa.

"Cricket Australia has endorsed their participation, that's the way the modern game goes. We've just got to deal with it like we do when we've got players who are a bit sore or a bit tired on the road," Nielsen said.

To ensure that Australian and South African players represent their domestic T20 teams in the Champions League, Cricket Australia, which has a 25 per cent stake in the tournament, has delayed the Perth Test until December 17.

South Africa will be represented by Titans and Dolphins in the Champions League Twenty20.

"We have to understand the changing nature of the game, that this is what is going to happen to ensure the game keeps generating money and getting people involved and kids wanting to watch it," Nielsen was quoted as saying in 'The Age'.

"From my point of view, the Australian team and international cricket will always be the number one commitment, but it's not as simple any more as just saying that means we have our lead-up and everything else is put on the backburner," he added.