Sunday, December 7, 2008

Amjad Khan called up by England

Kent fast-bowler Amjad Khan has been called up by England to replace the injured Ryan Sidebottom in the squad for the scheduled two-Test tour of India.

Born in Denmark, Khan will join Kevin Pietersen's squad if they decide later on Sunday to return to India following last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai. That decision will follow scrutiny of the latest security reports from the country.

Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid will also travel with the squad but has not officially been added to it.

Sidebottom is not among those currently preparing in Abu Dhabi for a series set to start in Chennai on Thursday, having suffered a side strain during the aborted one-day leg of the pre-Christmas tour.

Khan, 28, was awarded British citizenship in 2006 - following a breakthrough season for Kent a year earlier.

ICC chief urges fans to support India-England Tests

International Cricket Council (ICC) president David Morgan has urged fans to join him in attending the upcoming India-England Test series and so demonstrate that "we will not be dictated to by terrorists".

The future of the two-Test campaign was called into question following last month's terror attacks in Mumbai which left 172 people dead.

England cut short the one-day international section of their tour to fly home but have since gone out to a training camp in Abu Dhabi, where they are due to make a definitive decision on whether to return to India on Sunday.

The first Test is due to start in Chennai on December 11 and the second in Mohali on December 19 after officials switched the venues from Ahmedabad and Mumbai respectively in response to the attacks.

Morgan, a former chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said in a statement issued from the ICC's Dubai headquarters: "ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat will be in Chennai for the first Test and I will be in Mohali to show the ICC's support for India and the two teams.

"I would urge as many supporters as possible to join us during the series, not only because they will see two excellent sides playing Test cricket, the pinnacle of our sport, but also because by doing so we will demonstrate that we will not be dictated to by terrorists,"
the Welshman added.

"I believe the Test series will be a clear demonstration of the resilience of the Indian people and the game of cricket and an illustration that the game has the ability to bring people together."

Morgan insisted he was sensitive to safery concerns, saying:
"Safety and security of the players, officials and spectators must be the key consideration at all times.

"But if security assessments indicate that the measures put in place are appropriate then we - players, officials and all stakeholders - have a duty to ensure cricket takes place,"
he added.

"I have been in regular contact with both the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Shashank Manohar and Giles Clarke, the England and Wales Cricket Board's chairman, and it is clear they both want to play the matches if at all possible.

"The players have also demonstrated an acceptance of their role in trying to put a smile back on the face of a country that has undergone a horrendous experience."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

England cancels India tour

England has canceled its cricket tour of India in the wake of terror attacks that have killed at least 101 people in Mumbai.

While the English squad remained in Cuttack, where it lost Wednesday night to go 5-0 down in a seven match limited-overs series, England and Wales Cricket Board officials met Thursday morning with the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

The Indian news agency reported that the tour, which still had two limited-overs internationals and two test matches remaining on the itinerary _, had been canceled.

A high-ranking BCCI official, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to comment to the media, told the media that the tour had been canceled and a formal statement would be released later Thursday.

The Champions League Twenty20 tournament, due to start next Wednesday in Mumbai, could also be scrapped. Officials were not available to comment, but Australian and English provincial clubs had already postponed leaving for India.

India cancels T20 Champions League after attacks in Mumbai

The inaugural six-million dollar Twenty20 Champions League has been called off because of the deadly attacks in Mumbai, organisers said on Thursday.

The tournament, featuring the top eight Twenty20 domestic teams from Australia, South Africa, India, England and Pakistan, was due to be held from December 3-10 in Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore.

"We held consultations among all the stakeholders including the founding members, the participating teams and members of the Governing Council after the unfortunate terrorist attacks in Mumbai on Wednesday night,"
League chairman Lalit Modi said in a statement.

"It was agreed that in the best interests of all concerned, the inaugural edition of the Champions League should be postponed."

"We very strongly condemn this dastardly and heinous criminal act of a few which has resulted in the loss of precious lives and injury to hundreds.

"We offer our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and we are with them in their hour of grief."

Modi did not say when the tournament will be played.

The teams taking part were Victoria and Western Australia (Australia), Dolphins and Titans (South Africa), Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals (India), Middlesex (England) and Sialkot Stallions (Pakistan).

The touring England team had earlier on Thursday cancelled the last two One-day Internationals of their seven-game series against India and were in talks with Indian officials over next month's two Test matches.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

India's Laxman vows 'special' 100th Test

Indian batsman Venkatsai Laxman on Wednesday said he was hoping for a "special" performance in his 100th Test against Australia, the team he has smashed more centuries past than any other.

Laxman has scored six of his 13 hundreds against Australia, including two double-centuries, and is only the second Indian after Sachin Tendulkar to have made more than 2,000 runs against them.

"I have always enjoyed playing against them (Australia),"
said Laxman, who on Thursday will become the eighth Indian to play 100 Tests.

"It gives you a lot of satisfaction to do well against the top side in the world. They have always been been number one since I started playing international cricket.

"It's been an amazing journey. It's a great moment for me and for all the people associated in this journey of mine. I hope I can make it special."

Laxman's liking for the Australian bowling began in 2000 when he hammered a robust 167 in Sydney for his maiden Test hundred.

His best came the following year at Kolkata when he hit 281 under pressure to turn the second Test against Steve Waugh's Australia upside down, eventually setting up India's win after the follow-on.

He looks at his fluent best against Australia, having been involved in four massive partnerships against them.

The middle-order batsman put on 376 with Rahul Dravid in 2001 (Kolkata), 353 with Tendulkar in 2004 (Sydney), 303 with Dravid in 2003 (Adelaide) and 278 with Gautam Gambhir last month in Delhi.

Laxman, 34, is a spectators' delight when on song, with timing being his hallmark. His wristy shots and impressive footwork have often reduced the opposition to a state of helplessness.

Yet, he has never felt as secure as his renowned middle-order teammates -- Tendulkar, Dravid and Sourav Ganguly -- since making his Test debut in 1996 against South Africa at home.

He was often criticised for not converting solid starts into big innings in the early stages of his career, taking three years to score his first Test century.

Laxman was also pushed up and down the batting order in the initial years, his first hundred coming as an opener.

He was upset when the media reported after a Test series defeat in Sri Lanka in August that it was time for veterans, including Anil Kumble, Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly, to make their retirement plans.

"It hurts when people criticise,"
Laxman said after scoring a double-century in the third Test in Delhi last week.

"Don't over-respect us, but we don't want people downgrading our contributions for so many years. Everyone keeps advising us to retire, but each of us is mature and responsible enough to make his own decision."

Kumble retired after the last Test while Ganguly has already announced he will quit after Thursday's match.

The hosts lead 1-0 in the four-Test series following their 320-run win in the second match in Mohali. The Tests in Bangalore and Delhi were drawn.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Kumble retires from Test cricket

The third Test between India and Australia ended in a tame draw here on Sunday but not before the host captain Anil Kumble announced his retirement from Test cricket.

The Indians declared their second innings on 208-5 to set the tourists an improbable target of 245 from 23 overs.

The visitors, who made 577 all out in their first innings, were 31-0 when the teams decided to call off play with 15 overs still remaining in the day.

Openers Matthew Hayden (16) and Simon Katich (14) were at the crease when stumps were drawn.
The Border-Gavaskar series, which India lead 1-0 after winning the second game in Mohali, heads to Nagpur for the fourth and final match from November 6-10. The opener in Bangalore ended in a draw.
With the action on the field being only of academic interest, Kumble, 38, announced he was quitting the Test game with immediate effect. He had already given up one-day cricket.

The leg-spinner, who bowled with 11 stitches in his finger in Australia's first innings, said he made the decision because he knew he would not be fully fit for the Nagpur game.

"The injury helped me take this decision,"
he said after the match.

"I wanted to quit after the series. But after the injury here, I knew I would not be 100 percent fit for Nagpur and I did not want to let my team down.

"Ideally I would have liked to end with a win here but I am confident of sealing the series in Nagpur,"
said Kumble, who was given a lap of honour by his teammates at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.

Kumble did get a chance to bowl one final time following his surprise announcement half an hour after tea.

But he could not add to his 619 Test wickets and his last ball in 132 Tests was a full toss that was driven straight down the ground for four by Hayden.

The day had draw written on it after Australia failed to spark the collapse that they had hoped for.
They picked up two wickets in the first session and one in the third but India's talented middle order, led by Venkatsai Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar, batted cautiously on a pitch that remained good for batting on all five days.

Resuming at their overnight score of 43-2, the hosts lost an out-of-sorts Rahul Dravid (11) early when he dragged a Brett Lee in-swinger onto his stumps for his second failure in the match.

Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir (36) put 40 runs on for the third wicket before the opener was unlucky to be adjudged leg-before off paceman Mitchell Johnson as TV replays showed the ball would have missed leg stump.

Laxman welcomed Johnson, celebrating his 27th birthday, with a boundary, prompting the bowler to hurl a few angry words at him.

The right-hander also hit a classic straight drive off White besides a cover driven boundary off Clarke and was named man of the match, remaining not out on 59.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Three nations plan joint IPL spin-off

Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have confirmed they are planning a multi-nation franchise-owned Twenty20 tournament based on the IPL, which they hope to launch by 2011. Although the competition is still in the planning stages, the idea is to have city-based teams and schedule it at a time that would allow Indian stars to take part.

The concept will involve two separate conferences - an eastern division based in Africa and a western division in Australasia - and the top sides from each will progress to the finals. It will not replace the existing domestic Twenty20 competitions; instead it is most likely to be held in October with each nation free to also retain their state- or provincial-based tournaments.

The organisers want the competition to feed teams into the Champions League Twenty20. The southern hemisphere-based tournament, which as yet has no name, is another indication of the growing dominance of Twenty20.

The first season of the IPL was massively popular this year in India, where there is also the unsanctioned ICL competition, while England will soon be playing for US$20 million in the Stanford Super Series. Peter Young, Cricket Australia's spokesman, conceded it will be a challenge to squeeze the new tournament in but the organisers were confident it could be achieved.

"It'll be short, sharp and very focused but the exact number of games is yet to be determined,"

Young said.

"Strategically we see that there's a finite amount of Twenty20 cricket that's likely to be ideal, with a number of major global blocks."

There is still a way to go before the finer details can be finalised, including the number of teams. There is also potential for the African conference to feature sides not based in South Africa and for the Australasian division to have teams from outside Australia and New Zealand. Domestic players are likely to feature heavily but the three boards are keen to ensure international stars, from India or England, for example, take part.

"Gathering a large number of the world's marquee players into a single competition over a compressed time-frame can capture the public imagination and create new audiences for cricket,"

Justin Vaughan, New Zealand Cricket's chief executive, said.

"The challenge for the three southern-hemisphere boards is to create the stage for that opportunity to be captured in a way which complements international cricket."

Cricket Australia has been considering a franchise-based Twenty20 system for some time. James Sutherland, the chief executive of Cricket Australia, said it had become clear that to reach a critical mass, a regional approach was needed.

"The idea developed out of blue-sky Twenty20 thinking over the past 18 months,"

Sutherland said. "Regional-level Twenty20 cricket played at the level immediately below international cricket has shown it can capture the public imagination and create new audiences for cricket.

"But as we have seen in India, it needs critical mass to generate major public excitement. The regional concept we have been charged with developing provides that critical mass."

Cricket Australia is also keen to increase the international focus of its state-based Twenty20 tournament. From 2009-10 it will encourage the six state teams to recruit star players from overseas.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shakib Al Hasan sets new Bangladesh Test innings record

Left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan recorded the best bowling figures in an innings for Bangladesh in all Test cricket when he took 7-36 against New Zealand here on Sunday.

The 21-year-old bowled 25.5 overs in an extrordinary display to help Bangladesh dismiss New Zealand for 171 in their first innings on the third day of the opening Test at the Divisional Stadium here.

Bangladesh had made 245 in their first innings.

The feat surpassed the previous best bowling figures in an innings of 7-95, also taken by a left-arm spinner, Enamul Haque, against Zimbabwe at M.A. Aziz Stadium in Chittagong in 2005.

England's off-spinner Jim Laker leads the chart of best figures in an innings since Test cricket began in 1876, with 10-53 against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester in 1956.

Here are the best innings figures for all ten Test playing countries:
(bowler's name, figures, for, against, venue, year)

J. Laker 10-53 England v Australia Manchester 1956
A. Kumble 10-74 India v Pakistan Delhi 1999
M. Muralitharan 9-51 Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe Kandy 2002
R. Hadlee 9-52 New Zealand v Australia Brisbane 1985
Abdul Qadir 9-56 Pakistan v England Lahore 1987
J. Noreiga 9-95 West Indies v India Port of Spain 1971
H. Tayfield 9-113 South Africa v England Johannesburg 1957
A. Mailey 9-121 Australia v England Melbourne 1921
P. Strang 8-109 Zimbabwe v New Zealand Bulawayo 2000
Shakib Al Hasan 7-36 Bangladesh v New Zealand Chittagong 2008.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

West Indies to host World Twenty20 in 2010

Minutes after speaking about maintaining the "primacy of test cricket", the International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat announced a World Twenty20 would be staged in the West Indies in 2010. A similar tournament will be held in England next June before the rescheduled Champions Trophy is due to start in Pakistan next September.

"There was a choice that the board had between holding a Champions Trophy or Twenty20 and it was decided it would make more sense, and get a better spread of events, for that to be a Twenty20,"

Lorgat said. After the 2009 Champions Trophy, the tournament will not be played again until at least 2012 because the World Cup is being staged in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in 2011.

Concerns have grown over the future of Tests with the emergence of Twenty20, which is quickly gaining in popularity. Lorgat, who attended a full ICC board meeting in Dubai this week, said the world's cricket boards "respect the primacy of test cricket" and the ICC was considering its position on a number of issues involving the abbreviated format.

The unofficial Indian Cricket League met with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the owner of the sanctioned Indian Premier League, this week but the talks failed. The ICC will wait for an official report from the BCCI before considering an application from the ICL to become an official competition.

Players in the event, which is currently being held in India, are banned from representing their home domestic and international teams.

"We are going through a process and part of that process is to wait for a report from the BCCI and we will consider that report and deal with that application,"

Lorgat said.

The ICC is also involved in "on-going discussions" over Sri Lanka's in-doubt tour of England next May after a US$70m proposal from the BCCI for Sri Lanka's players to appear in the IPL instead of the Test tour.

"What we are seeing is the challenge between the way players want to be in terms of their earnings, the potential to earn the most while they have a window in their own careers,"

Lorgat said.

"It's clear what the position of the Sri Lanka cricket board is, they want to see their team to tour England to go through. Equally the England cricket board is keen to see it go ahead."

Lorgat said a "window" for the IPL competition, which would allow players to switch between international and Twenty20 duties, had not been discussed by the ICC.

"We are waiting to see how it all unfolds,"

he said.

"This is the first occasion we have this challenge with the Sri Lanka players. When we do a complete review of the Future Tours Programme that will be up for discussion."

Crowds in Mohali for the second Test between India and Australia have been poor and Lorgat said the attendances were a worry, especially on Friday when Sachin Tendulkar became the leading run-scorer in Test cricket.

"Absolutely, all of us who came through yesterday were quite concerned at the lack of spectators,"

he said.

"It is something we will have to look at very seriously."

Lorgat also said the ICC would be more careful over its handling of the 2009 Champions Trophy following the postponement of this year's event due to safety and security concerns in Pakistan.

"We want to make sure long before the September and October dates next year that we make a final choice on the security situation,"

he said.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bangladesh recall Saleh for New Zealand Test

Bangladesh Tuesday recalled Rajin Saleh to their 13-man squad for the two-Test series against New Zealand after the middle-order batsman spent a year in the wilderness.

The 24-year-old Saleh, who last played against Sri Lanka in 2007, was regarded as one of the finest Test batsmen in the country during his 22-match Test career before he lost form.

The first Test starts here Friday. The second Test will be played at Dhaka from October 25.

Bangladesh have also included left-arm spinner Mehrab Hossain and uncapped rookie paceman Mahbubul Alam in an attempt to balance the bowling attack.

The home team lost the three-match one-day series 2-1.

Squad: Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Mashrafe Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal, Zunaed Siddique, Rajin Saleh, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehrab Hossain, Naeem Islam, Mushfiqur Rahim, Abdur Razzak, Syed Rasel, Shahadat Hossain, Mahbubul Alam.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Canada v Zimbabwe, T20 Canada, King City

Zimbabwe 135 for 9 (Taibu 37, Baidwan 3-27) tied with

Canada 135 for 7 and won bowl-out 3-1

Zimbabwe earned a win they barely deserved, claiming a 3-1 victory in a bowl-out, after scrambling to a tie against Canada as the second day of T20 Canada tournament at King City produced a thrilling game. Zimbabwe, who slumped to 61 for 5 in the 11th over, recovered through a stand of 53 between Tatenda Taibu and Elton Chigumbura, but still needed 10 off the last over. Harvir Baidwan took two wickets in two balls, but Prosper Utseya and Tawanda Mupariwa squeezed nine off the next four balls, with Utseya run out off the final delivery trying to win the match.

Under the regulations, Twenty20 matches can't be tied in tournaments so it was time for cricket's version of a penalty shoot-out. Baidwan, so nearly the match-winner, missed with his effort and so too did Sunil Dhaniram. Abdool Samad then overstepped with his delivery after Zimbabwe's bowlers hit the stumps three times. The visitors could breathe a sigh of relief, but they hardly deserved their escape route

Twenty20 again proved how it levels the playing field between teams, but Canada didn't quite have the experience or skill to hold on at the end. A few misfields came into their game and occasionally bowlers lost their nerve, but to force their way into a position where they could even contemplate victory should be a huge boost to their confidence. It also shows, once again, how far Zimbabwe have sunk. In truth they are barely the standard of a mid-ranking Associate.

Defending 135, Canada made regular inroads with local hero, Rizwan Cheema, claiming two wickets in his first over to put then on their way. Baidwan almost succeeded in the final over, but was let down by some sloppy fielding after removing Timycen Maruma and Taibu to catches at long-on. However, a crucial mistake off the penultimate ball gave Utseya a boundary and he gained one off the final ball.

After the disappointing attendances on the opening day the ground was around half full as 5000 fans, mostly waiting for the second match involving Sri Lanka and Pakistan, made their way down on a chilly autumnal morning. By the time Canada were taking out Zimbabwe's middle order there was plenty of cheering and flag-waving to keep them warm and, although the result they wanted slipped away, performances like this are what Canadian cricket needs.

In the end, though, Zimbabwe had just enough thanks to two of their more successful players. Chigumbura and Taibu hauled Zimbabwe from the brink of an embarrassing defeat by adding 53 in 5.5 overs; when Chigumbura came in his team were 61 for 5 with the game slipping away.

Cheema, to the delight of the local supporters, claimed a double-wicket maiden in his first over as Hamilton Masakadza chipped to midwicket and Chamu Chibhabha was brilliantly caught by Baidwan, who then struck with the ball to trap Stuart Matsikenyeri lbw. However, as Chigumbura and Taibu steadied the innings Zimbabwe appeared to be back in control only for Henry Osinde to remove Chigumbura.

It was down to Taibu, and when he fell to the second ball of the final the game was Canada's for the taking. But in such a tight match one slip can make the difference, and so it proved.

Canada battled impressively throughout and reached 135, a total that is proving to be about par in late-season conditions. Cheema livened the crowd going by slamming 23 off 11 balls with two sixes, one over long-on and the other over deep midwicket. As quickly as Cheema got going, though, he was gone when he edged Chigumbura. Zimbabwe clawed back the run rate when Samad was run out towards the end of the fielding restrictions.

Canada were scoring at 10 an over, but it quickly sank against the spinners with Ray Price conceding three runs off his first three overs. He also bowled Mohammad Iqbal with an arm ball and when Dhaniram was run out, Canada were floundering on 78 for 6.

However they didn't give in, far from it. Karun Jethi and Balaji Rao hit useful twenties towards the end - Rao twice managing to clear the boundary - and it was enough to give Zimbabwe a huge scare. It was the type of match the tournament needed.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, T20 Canada, King City

Sri Lanka 107 for 5 (Dilshan 33, Price 2-9) beat

Zimbabwe 106 for 8 (Taibu 45*, Mendis 3-15) by five wickets

Sri Lanka opened the T20 Canada tournament in King City with a five-wicket win against Zimbabwe, but were made to work hard chasing 107 in a match reduced to 17 overs per side by early-morning rain. Ray Price bowled a superb economical spell of left-arm spin, and a couple of run-outs increased the pressure, however Sri Lanka's middle order completed the chase with an over to spare in front of a few hundreds spectators.

Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Udawatte began briskly, adding 36 in four overs, before Udawatte was caught behind. Price caused problems from the start and debutant Jeevantha Kulatunga struggled for 20 balls - and was dropped at deep midwicket - until being bowled for 8. A mild dose of panic hit the middle order as Thilina Kandamby was run out trying for a quick single, followed next ball by captain Mahela Jayawardene who fell without facing. It's a long way to come to not face a ball.

Dilshan was playing neatly, but in the next over he became Price's second scalp and suddenly Sri Lanka's reply was far from smooth at 77 for 5. It was proving tough to score against the spinners, while there was a hint of rustiness from Sri Lanka who only arrived in Canada two days ago.

However, no one could quite match Price's effort and when he finished his four-over spell the pressure was released. Chamara Kapugedera and Farveez Maharoof both hit sixes to calm the nerves and the sixth-wicket pair finished the match with an over to spare.

Zimbabwe's efforts in the field were commendable, but their batting let them down after a delayed start due to a damp outfield. Sri Lanka's bowlers proved a tough proposition with Maharoof nipping out two with the new ball, Thilan Thushara a brace in the middle and Ajantha Mendis - on his Twenty20 debut - three at the end.

Tatenda Taibu, the former captain, offered the most prolonged resistance as he finished on 45 off 47 deliveries to push Zimbabwe into three figures. He was at the crease in the fourth over after Maharoof removed both openers and Thushara, the left-arm quick, further dented Zimbabwe's progress with a tight spell of 2 for 19.

Mendis has proved too good for far better players than Zimbabwe's lower order and he helped himself to a few easy pickings. Elton Chigumbura was caught behind and Prosper Utseya was stranded by Mendis' carrom ball, which turns away from the right-handers. Sri Lanka weren't at their best, but it was still enough to clear the first hurdle.

Friday, October 10, 2008

India v Australia, 1st Test, Bangalore, 2nd day

India 68 for 0 (Sehwag 43*, Gambhir 20*) trail

Australia 430 (Hussey 146, Ponting 123, Katich 66, Zaheer 5-91, Ishant 4-77) by 362 runs

There is a wall in Bangalore that celebrates Rahul Dravid's immovability at the crease. In the city's Chinnaswamy Stadium, Michael Hussey built an impenetrable barrier of his own with a supremely focused innings of 146 that ensured an impressive total for Australia on the second day. By the close, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had made the visitors' 430 look a little less daunting and with a solid construction of their own reduced the deficit to 362.

It was a promising start from the openers, particularly the confident Sehwag, but the challenge will come on the third day. India will need to make certain their own wall is reinforced and on a pitch that has held up but is threatening to crack like a dry river bed they could also some putty to fill the widening gaps. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma did what they could to make use of the variable surface but there is no doubt Australia had the best of the conditions by batting first.

Still, the visitors needed to put their plans into action on the field. After Ponting had led the way on the first day, Hussey followed on the second with his ninth Test century, an innings of intense concentration. It ended a record streak of low scores for Hussey, who entered the game fresh from five Test innings without a half-century, the longest such spell in his remarkable career.

He has spent the past few months insisting he was unhappy with some minor aspects of his technique but any deficiencies must have been ironed out during the Australian winter. Perhaps his least convincing shot was the one that brought him to triple figures from 188 balls, an inside-edge off Ishant that flew past the stumps for four. Hussey's landmark was a bad sign for India; Australia have won every Test in which Hussey has made a century.

His judgement was excellent. A pair of drives sailed through the off side off consecutive deliveries when Zaheer overpitched and a perfectly placed drive against Anil Kumble bisected the mid-off and extra cover, who weren't that far apart. He faced 189 dot balls, patiently waiting for chances to find gaps or hit over the top, like when he launched a safe six over midwicket off Harbhajan Singh.

He had some assistance from India's fieldsmen - another four came when his drive went through the legs of a sluggish Sourav Ganguly at mid-off. That was the most conspicuous fielding error but just as maddening for India was the ease with which Hussey and Brad Haddin turned the strike over during an important 91-run partnership, repeatedly pinching singles to fielders who were either flat-footed, placed too deep, or both.

The sixth-wicket stand between Hussey and Haddin came at a critical time; Ishant had just picked up Shane Watson cheaply in the fourth over of the day and at 259 for 5 there was a risk Australia would waste Ponting's strong start. Haddin hasn't struck a fifty in his short Test career but five times in his four Tests he has helped steady the lower middle-order with half-century partnerships.

The personal milestone again eluded Haddin, who had 33 when he fell for Ishant's slower ball. Haddin was so surprised by the offspin-style delivery from Ishant, who had not used it so far during the day, that he shaped to drive, hesitated, and then went through with the shot, which lobbed to VVS Laxman at short cover. Ishant decided that he was on a good thing and lured the debutant Cameron White (6) into a similarly fatal prod to cover from a near identical ball.

For most of the first two sessions Ishant looked by far the most dangerous bowler. He steamed in enthusiastically and moved the ball subtly both ways, sometimes dug in a short one and at other times used the interesting surface to keep balls low. He ended up with 4 for 77 but it was Zaheer who finished with the best figures, 5 for 91, after an unexpectedly vivid spell of reverse-swing bowling just after tea.

Zaheer had not been particularly threatening until he suddenly started moving the ball about following the break and he crashed into the stumps of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and finally Hussey within the space of seven balls. The wickets had to come from Ishant and Zaheer as the two spinners struggled for impact despite probing for the footmarks. Kumble returned 0 for 129, the second time this year he has conceded a triple-figure tally without a wicket, while Harbhajan could not add to his first-day removal of Ponting.

That the innings ended with a couple of hours to play was a blessing for India, whose openers enjoyed the time to settle in against a pace attack that was taking time to find its rhythm. The third day will provide an intriguing test for the Fab Four, including Sachin Tendulkar, who needs 77 runs to break Brian Lara's all-time Test record. On a pitch likely to become more difficult the main thing could be to ensure that Dravid is at his most wall-ey.

BCCI’s 10-year agreement for $70 million with Sri Lankan board

Getting the benefit of the weakness of the Sri Lankan cricket board facing financial crisis nowadays, the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) has finalized a 10-year agreement with the Sri Lankan board for an amount of $70 million.

Under this agreement, the Sri Lankan players are bound to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Champions Trophy.

Sri Lanka’s ministry of sports has directed the cricket board to release the players for participating in the IPL and the reason is the attractive $70 million deal offered by the BCCI to the Sri Lankan board.

Sri Lankan board agreed to sign this deal due to its monetary crisis but this deal has left the question mark regarding its international cricket.

Sri Lanka has to tour England from May 21 to 30 for an two-Test series but now it seems impossible according to an official of the Sri Lankan board.

The English Cricket Board (ECB) has not given any indication for Sri Lanka’s playing with its junior team.

However, Sri Lankan board has offered the ECB to hold three One-day matches after May 25.

Bangladesh v New Zealand, 1st ODI, Mirpur

Bangladesh 202 for 3 (Junaid 85, Ashraful 60*) beat

New Zealand 201 for 9 (Oram 57, Mortaza 4-44) by seven wickets

A determined Bangladesh recorded their first-ever win over New Zealand in emphatic manner on Thursday, making light of their player exodus to the ICL. The loss was a huge blow for New Zealand, who needed a clean sweep to take second spot in the rankings. Junaid Siddique, along with Mohammad Ashraful, ensured Bangladesh capitalise on the momentum given by Mashrafe Mortaza's bowling which helped restrict New Zealand to a modest target.

It was a significant victory for the hosts given the circumstances leading into the series but the challenge seemed to have inspired Ashraful and his team, who played sensibly with both bat and ball.

Junaid remained calm despite the fall of Tamim Iqbal, his fellow opener, in the fifth over. Even if Bangladesh's run-rate - the runs coming mainly in singles - was similar to New Zealand's after 15 overs (New Zealand were 62 while Bangladesh were 55) the hosts had lost one wicket compared to New Zealand's four. Junaid found good support in Mushfiqur Rahim, who brought up the team's 50 with a six over long-on off Tim Southee. Mushfiqur scored a useful 30 before going for another big hit, this time failing to clear deep midwicket.

During the New Zealand tour earlier this year Junaid had failed to consistently get off to good starts but today he showed he'd learned from past mistakes. He got lucky, too, on 46, when Scott Styris failed to collect a return catch. He went on to finish his half-century with a single and grew in confidence especially in the company of his captain. In the process he scored more runs than he had in his career: before this match, his ninth, his tally was 62.

Ashraful had been condemned for both his leadership and below-par batting form on the recent tour of Australia. Today he displayed a grim attitude and bolstered the good start provided by his young partner. When Daniel Vettori brought himself on in the third Powerplay - taken by Bangladesh under the new rules - in the 39th over, Ashraful immediately pulled him for a four past square leg and then stepped out for a six over long-on. Bangladesh had reached the 100-mark after 28 overs; ten overs later, they had piled up 60 more. The 109-run partnership was the highest of the day and overshadowed Jacob Oram's hard labour in the morning.

Oram had taken New Zealand to safety after they found themselves in a dangerous position at 79 for 6. Though he took a while to adapt to the low bounce and slow pace of the wicket, he managed to steadily regain the momentum. He had help from Vettori and their partnership of 70 for the seventh wicket rescued New Zealand.

For Bangladesh, Mortaza led from the front, pitching it accurately and taking advantage of the early movement after Ashraful had opted to field. Sensing the opposition batsmen's rustiness, since their only warm-up game was washed out, Mortaza hardly gave the batsmen any room in his unbroken spell of eight overs that fetched him three wickets.

New Zealand failed to benefit from any of the fielding restrictions or from the new Powerplay rule - they managed 55 in the first and then slumped in the second when they lost three wickets for seven runs. The final Powerplay, to be decided by the batting side, was taken in the 38th over but only 26 runs resulted off that.

Bangladesh had beaten New Zealand in the warm-up game during the 2007 World Cup, after which they recorded their best showing in the shorter version with four victories in the tournament. Today's win could be the start of another new chapter.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

India v Australia, 1st Test, Bangalore, 1st day

Australia 254 for 4 (Ponting 123, Katich 66, Zaheer 2-39) v India

Ricky Ponting erased 12 years of doubt over his record in India by striking a defiant century that gave Australia a marginal edge on the opening day in Bangalore. However, a late pair of wickets - Ponting departed for 123 and Zaheer Khan removed Michael Clarke in the final over - brought India back into the contest on what had until then been a frustrating day for the hosts. At the close Australia had reached 254 for 4 with Michael Hussey unbeaten on 46.

Zaheer's final strike - he trapped Clarke plumb lbw for 11 - gave India's fans cause to cheer on the first day of Test cricket in the country since the frenetic and colourful IPL. The contrast between the game's longest and shortest formats was stark as Australia's batsmen spent most of the day grinding down the India bowlers.

The man most responsible for the tough contest was Ponting, who in the lead-up declared that it was up to him to set the batting standard for Australia despite his disappointing average of 12.28 in his eight previous Tests in India. Australia's two most unflappable batsmen, Simon Katich and Michael Hussey, gave Ponting exactly the support he needed as he began to master his long-time tormentor Harbhajan Singh and his newer nemesis Ishant Sharma.

The two men bowled admirably and created opportunities but the pitch offered them little assistance. When Harbhajan finally picked up Ponting, lbw attempting to sweep a ball that might have missed leg stump, it came as a major relief to India, who had seen a few doses of luck go the other way throughout the day.

Katich and Hussey both prodded within centimetres of short leg against the spinners. Hussey got a thick outside edge off Kumble that Mahendra Singh Dhoni could not get his gloves to in time. Ponting survived a couple of tight lbw calls early and, after he had reached triple figures, was reprieved when replays suggested he was caught and bowled by Kumble off a delivery that was adjudged to be a bump ball.

But nothing should take away from Ponting's brilliance. Rarely can a 33-year-old veteran of more than 100 Tests claim to make a genuine career breakthrough, but Ponting's history in India was so poor that his century was exactly that.

The 2008-09 version of Ponting was more patient and less tentative than on his earlier trips. Until this innings, Harbhajan had an undeniable hold over Ponting and had dismissed him eight times in Tests. But Ponting watched the ball more closely this time and eliminated his bad habit of lunging outside off stump, a custom that had brought so many edges to Harbhajan over the years.

Instead, he trusted his judgement. He left the ball where appropriate and picked the right deliveries to hit; he twice lofted Harbhajan over wide midwicket for four. He also survived his mini-battles with Ishant, whose steepling bounce and tendency to jag the ball in had troubled Ponting earlier this year.

A couple of cracking back-foot drives through extra cover off Ishant were particularly impressive, as was the slap through cover off Zaheer that brought up his half-century. When the hundred arrived with a cut through point off Kumble, Ponting refused to smile, instead willing himself to go on with the innings.

The burden on Ponting would have increased considerably had he been regularly losing partners. Katich's determination was therefore a godsend for the captain. Katich was also under pressure to justify his selection after he was preferred over the incumbent Phil Jaques as Matthew Hayden's opening partner.

His experience and composure provided a calming influence on Ponting, who had joined him in the first over of the match following Hayden's early departure. Katich handled the first 15 deliveries from Harbhajan, which allowed Ponting time to get a look at his major danger without having to face up.

Katich was scratchy in the opening hour but as his confidence grew he worked easy runs through the leg side via his habit of walking across the stumps. His half-century came from 122 deliveries with a boundary forward of point off Harbhajan and it was the sort of watchful innings that made it hard to believe he had scored 184 in a single first-class session for New South Wales last season.

His stand with Ponting was worth 166 when Katich's concentration finally waned on 66 as he edged behind when Ishant seamed the ball away. It was a well-deserved reward for Ishant, who tried valiantly to extract anything from the benign surface. Nearly two full sessions had passed since India had had any reason to celebrate after Zaheer struck with the third ball of the match.

Hayden was given out caught behind off a Zaheer outswinger, although the ball appeared to miss the outside edge as bat hit pad. It was the perfect start for India, who had lost the toss and were staring at a long Australia batting order with the debutant and powerful striker Cameron White listed at No. 8.

The rest of the wickets did not come as swiftly. But India can be happy with their fightback after Ponting and Katich threatened to bat them into the ground. The first day has set up an intriguing battle; the second day could well be one of the most decisive of the series.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ganguly to retire after Australia series

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly said Tuesday he would retire from international cricket at the end of the upcoming four-Test series against Australia.

"This will be my last series,"
Ganguly, 36, told reporters after a training session ahead of the first Test starting in Bangalore on Thursday.

"Before coming here, I spoke to my team-mates and hopefully I will go out with a winning knock."

Ganguly was a surprise inclusion for the first two Tests after being ignored for the five-day domestic Irani Cup tie last month, regarded as a trial match for the series.

There was media speculation that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had struck a deal with Ganguly to give him a graceful exit, provided he agreed to quit after the series.

Ganguly denied the charge, but admitted he was disapointed at being left out for the Irani Cup, and surprised when the selectors picked him for the Tests.

"The speculation about my future has been going on for a long time, but I categorically deny any talk of a 'voluntary retirement scheme', which is what the media is calling it,"
he said.

"Such things do not happ?augh's world champion Australian side at home in 2001.

All seemed lost for India when Waugh's men wrapped up the first Test in Mumbai in three days and made the hosts follow on 274 runs behind in the second match in Kolkata's Eden Gardens.

India, however, conjured up a remarkable fightback on the back of Laxman's extraordinary 281 to win the Kolkata Test by 171 runs and then clinched the series with a two-wicket humdinger in Chennai.

Ganguly also captained India to the World Cup final in South Africa in 2003, where they lost to Australia.

High Court ruling leaves world's richest match in doubt

Plans to stage the world's richest cricket match in Antigua next month were thrown into disarray on Tuesday when the West Indies Cricket Board lost a dispute with sponsors Digicel in London's High Court.

As a result of the defeat, the WICB was been told it will have to withdraw its sanction for the 20-million-dollar Twenty/20 match between the Stanford Superstars XI and England on November 1.

That could mean that either the match will have to be called off or that the Stanford Superstars side will be weakened by the withdrawal of most of the leading West Indian players.

The WICB had previously agreed to make all their players available to play for Texan billionaire Allen Stanford's select side.

But Digicel went to the High Court in a bid to establish that, as the contracted official sponsor of the WICB until 2012, it enjoyed commercial rights associated with a game that was, in effect, a West Indies XI v England.

The High Court upheld that argument and ruled that the Board would be in breach of its contract with Digicel if it sanctioned the match without granting commercial rights to its sponsor. The WICB was also ordered to pay costs.

WICB chief executive Dr Donald Peters confirmed the court defeat.

"We understand the arbitrator has ruled against the West Indies Cricket Board and at this point we are trying to evaluate what the terms of the ruling are before we make any statement,"
Peters told Britain's Press Association.

He added:
"As soon as my board has been informed there will be a statement."

The WICB and Digicel began arbitration proceedings under the auspices of the High Court last Friday but were unable to agree a negotiated resolution of the dispute.

In return for putting up the money for the match, Stanford 20/20 had wanted to find their own sponsors for the match, bypassing Digicel.

The fate of the match and several warm-up encounters involving Middlesex and Trinidad and Tobago, now depends on the outcome of negotiations between Digicel and Stanford over the next few days.

Sky Television, which is planning to broadcast the matches, said it was confident that a solution would be worked out to allow them to go ahead.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Indian batting power has been vanished: Boycott

Geoff Boycott said that if the English team would go to India next month considering that it can only draw the series there then it would be in fools paradise.

He said that if the English team enters into the ground it would put India in trouble.

In his newspaper column, Boycott further wrote that many front-ranking Indian batsmen have passed through their prime and now they have no power like earlier.

The way in which Sri Lankan spinners Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis demolished Indian batting line shows that the batting power of India has been vanished and the series against Australia may be the last series for many Indian stalwarts.

Boycott wrote that Steve Harmisson and Flintoff would be main weapons of England team on the tour of India. Though Indian wickets are not more helpful to fast bowlers but the bowlers keeping line and length would certainly be successful.

Friday, October 3, 2008

ICC Confirm Rule Changes

The International Cricket Council have confirmed that a series of amendments to playing conditions will take effect from tomorrow.

The ICC chief executives' committee ratified a number of proposals when they met at the end of June and all future Tests and one-day internationals will now be played under the revised laws.

The practice of players leaving the field for 'comfort breaks' to be replaced by substitute fielders has been legislated against, with clause two of the game's playing conditions explicitly stating that such reasons do not represent "wholly acceptable" justification.

Additionally, all catches can now be referred to the third umpire when the on-field officials are unsure as to the validity of an appeal.

The amended wording on disputed catches now reads:

"Should both umpires be unable to make a decision, they may consult by two-way radio with the third umpire as to whether there is any definitive evidence as to whether the catch was taken cleanly or not. Following such consultation, the final decision will be made and given by the bowler's-end umpire."

One-day captains have been handed another tactical decision to make, with one of the two options power-plays - periods of five overs when fielding restrictions are applied - to be picked by the batting side.

Current rules have a 10-over enforced power-play, with the fielding captain choosing the timing of the next two.

Another change that was brought about at the ICC meeting involved handing the umpires the chance to reduce the interval between innings when the game has been delayed or interrupted was introduced with immediate effect in June.

An ICC statement read:

"These amendments, which were unanimously approved by all 10 full members and the three associate member representatives on the CEC at its meeting at the end of June, are designed to improve the game for players, umpires and spectators."

Underwood The New President At MCC

Derek Underwood takes over as president of Marylebone Cricket Club on Wednesday.

The former England star takes the reins from Mike Brearley and will preside over what is set to be the busiest year in the MCC's 221-year history.

Among the highlights will be Lord's staging an Ashes Test and much of the world Twenty20 tournament.

Underwood said: "It is indeed a great honour to become president of MCC, especially to have been invited by Mike Brearley, for whom I have always had the utmost respect and admiration. I look forward immensely to the year ahead.

"It is an exciting era for the sport with Twenty20 cricket opening up so many possibilities for the game worldwide. It is important for all those who work in cricket to embrace that change whilst protecting the game's rich heritage.

"MCC is ideally placed to be at the heart of much of this change. With its development of the Masterplan project at Lord's, its independent voice of the MCC World Cricket committee and its playing remit to develop the game worldwide, the club has the passion, stature and desire to ensure the best for our wonderful game in the years ahead."

John Barclay, Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, Peter Leaver and Peter Carroll all join the MCC committee. They replace David Faber, Matthew Fleming, former Prime Minister Sir John Major and Nick Pocock.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ganguly retained for first two Tests

India's selectors have picked Sourav Ganguly in a 15-man squad for the first two Tests against Australia. He is expected to join India A in Chennai for a Test against New Zealand A beginning on October 3 because he isn't part of the ongoing camp in Bangalore. There were also call-ups for Tamil Nadu batsman S Badrinath and Haryana legspinner Amit Mishra, who played three one-day internationals in 2003.

The squad consists of seven batsmen, one wicketkeeper, four fast bowlers and three spinners. The six batting slots are filled by Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly and VVS Laxman, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni as wicketkeeper. The two wicketkeepers used in Sri Lanka after Dhoni opted out, Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel, have been excluded.

Despite the intense speculation on Ganguly's future leading up to the selection meeting, the new selectors apparently felt that he had the three qualities essential for a series against Australia.

"[He has] experience, character and resilience,"

said a national selector.

"Besides, whatever his scores may have been in Sri Lanka, we could not ignore the fact that he has scored in the last 10 Tests."

Ganguly had reportedly considered quitting cricket after being overlooked for the Irani Cup match between the Rest of India and Delhi but India's new selection panel, headed by Kris Srikkanth, has valued his experience over youngsters like Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif.

Ganguly has struggled against Australia, averaging just 31.73 in 20 Tests compared to an overall average of 41.74 in 109 Tests. Since his recall in December 2006 and till the end of the home series against South Africa earlier this year, Ganguly scored 1571 runs at 50.67, including a maiden double-century. However, he managed only 96 runs in six innings during India's 2-1 series defeat in Sri Lanka this summer.

After being called in as a substitute fielder during the home series against Pakistan late last year, Badrinath had a spell in the cold till he was named as Tendulkar's replacement for the Sri Lanka ODIs, and played three games. Dhoni, his captain for the ODIs, publicly expressed his satisfaction at Badrinath's attitude during the series. He managed only 92 runs in the recent A team series against Australia and New Zealand and had a poor Irani Cup but the selectors have clearly indicated that he is the future.

"I am really happy to be selected to play against Australia,"

Badrinath said.

"I was expecting this call. I will take tomorrow's match as serious practice. It will give me some experience against them."

Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma will lead the bowling attack along with Munaf Patel and RP Singh. Anil Kumble, India's captain, Harbhajan Singh and Mishra, 25, make up the spin quotient. Mishra, who has 289 first-class wickets at 25.21, had a fine domestic season (38 wickets in the Ranji Trophy) and has also staked a claim through his good IPL performances (11 wickets at 12.55).

Mishra, a neat and organised spinner, was included in India's Test squad to face West Indies in 2002 but did not get a game then. He subsequently made his ODI debut against South Africa in Dhaka in 2003 but fell out of national reckoning since. He has now pipped left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who was in the Test side for Sri Lanka and played in the ODI series. Piyush Chawla, the Uttar Pradesh legspinner, was the other name doing the rounds but he too has been overlooked.

Mishra said his stint with the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL - during which he claimed a hat-trick against Deccan Chargers - transformed his career.

"It all started from the IPL. It gave me the platform to interact with greats like Shane Warne,"

Mishra said.

"I specifically worked on my loop and top spin. I am very happy after hearing the news. I feel great as I've been expecting the call over the last year."

Before the selection meeting, the selectors were "briefed" by Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president. Manohar, apparently, delivered a "convincing and forceful talk" on the need to plan for the team's future, given that the senior players are on the last leg of their careers. He also reminded the selectors of the board's guidelines for the committee, including curbs on media assignments.

The first Test starts in Bangalore on October 9. The second is in Mohali from October 17-21. The squad for the remaining fixtures, in Delhi and Nagpur, will be named after the second Test.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Eid Mubarak to all Muslim Ummah

Eid Mubarak to all Muslim Ummah, from S. M. Faisal (Owner of Cricket Cafe)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Adam Gilchrist to lead Deccan Chargers

Adam Gilchrist, the former Australian wicketkeeper-batsman, has been appointed captain of the Deccan Chargers, replacing VVS Laxman, who led the team during the inaugural season of the IPL. Darren Lehmann, the former Australia batsman, takes charge as coach, replacing former India player Robin Singh.

Gilchrist said it was a "tremendous thrill and honour" and looked forward to working hard and making the team successful. Gilchrist was Deccan's leading run-getter in the league's first edition, scoring 436 runs at 33.53. He led the team in eight of their 14 matches, after Laxman suffered a wrist injury.

"Adam Gilchrist commands respect within the team and right around the cricket world. He has redefined the role of wicketkeeper-batsman in modern cricket,"

Tim Wright, the Deccan Chargers chief executive, said.

"I am confident Gilchrist will unite Deccan Chargers' outstanding talent. Four members of our squad were on the India tour of Sri Lanka, more than any other IPL team, and the quality of our overseas players is well known. These players will play for Gilchrist.

"We are delighted to be giving Darren Lehmann his first post as coach and have no doubt he will be a great success,"

Wright said.

"He has already brought considerable energy into the group and has a no-nonsense approach to winning cricket matches. Lehmann is in India this week to run player trials in Hyderabad. We are looking to build a solid talent base for the future."

Robin, meanwhile, has said he will discuss his future with the franchise.

"I was aware of the discussions which had been going on for a while about some new appointments,"

he told.

"Definitely I will be featuring in some capacity in a role that is suitable and in line with what I would like to do. We will have to sit and have a mutual agreement on that."

Robin , who also holds the role of a fielding coach with the Indian team, expressed disappointment over Laxman being replaced.

"It's a bit sad about VVS, but it is for him to talk."

Deccan finished last in the inaugural edition of the league, winning only two of their 14 matches. The team's poor performance was surprising given a star-studded batting line-up, with Andrew Symonds, Shahid Afridi and Herschelle Gibbs joining Gilchrist, Scott Styris, Laxman and Rohit Sharma. While Symonds was only available for four games, Afridi and Gibbs both averaged below 20.

Friday, September 26, 2008

ICC To Hear Out ICL Owners

International Cricket Council president David Morgan has agreed to a request to meet with the owners of the rebel Indian Cricket League.

The ICL is not officially recognised by the ICC and has been in conflict with cricket's authorities since its inception last year.

Now Morgan has agreed to meet with Subhash Chandra of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, who own the ICL.

Morgan said:

"The ICL had previously written to the ICC requesting its approval and now it has asked for this meeting, to which we have agreed.

"All members of the ICC Board have been informed of this meeting and I will report back to those directors at the Board's next meeting, in Dubai on 14 and 15 October."

The ICC refused to comment on the subject of the meeting, but it is expected Chandra will wish to discuss the matter of official sanctioning for the ICL.

Representatives from the ICL are unhappy that the league's players are being prevented from playing top-level cricket, with a report on Zee's own website in July suggesting the matter could be taken to London's High Court.

At an ICC board meeting in the same month, the body formed a committee to look at the issues of official, unofficial and unauthorised cricket.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), whose vice-president, Lalit Modi, is the chairman and commissioner of the Indian Premier League, have an understanding with other major nations that individuals who participate in the ICL will not be allowed to ply their trade in any top-level competition.

Both Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Mushtaq Ahmed faced a battle to be allowed to play in the English County Championship this season after their participation in the ICL.

Since then, English Twenty20 Cup runners-up Kent have been prevented from taking part in the upcoming inaugural Twenty20 champions League, co-organised by the BCCI, because they have players who took part in the ICL.

High security arranged for Aussies : India

Indian government said that strict security has been arranged for the Australian cricket team and the visitors should not be worried in this regard.

Spokesman of the Indian government’s interior ministry Onkar Kaidia said that whenever a foreign team comes to India the government makes all out efforts to provide it suitable security to avoid any unpleasant incident and extraordinary arrangements have been made to provide security to the Australian team.

The spokesman further said that if more request is made regarding security then it may be considered but the visitors should not be worried as the most fool-proof arrangements have been made.

I had rejected IPL offer: Mashrafe Mortaza

Bangladesh vice-captain Mashrafe Mortaza said that he had rejected the offer from the management of the Indian Cricket League (ICL) to represent Dhaka Warriors.

Mahrafe Mortaza said in an interview that he had received many phone calls from the ICL, offering him to play for Dhaka Warriors but he preferred to play for his country instead of playing for the ICL.

He said it has now become the part of history and he did not think necessary to tell this thing anybody as he was not interested in that offer.

Mortaza further said that this is wrong to say that the Bangladesh players did not perform well in Australia due to the ICL offer. They made all out efforts for victory but unfortunately, lost the series 0-3 due to poor batting.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sri Lanka lifts domestic ban on 'rebel' ICL players

Sri Lanka will re-admit players aligned with the unauthorised Indian Cricket League into domestic cricket, officials said on Friday, in a move that defies the world cricket establishment.

"Players will be allowed to play for their respective clubs and share their expertise, but cannot represent the country,"
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) media manager Shane Fernando said.

The SLC had last year banned its five ICL players -- Marvan Atapattu, Russel Arnold, Upul Chandana, Avishka Gunawardena and Saman Jayantha -- from playing any official cricket matches.

The decision comes two days after the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) joined its counterparts from other countries in banning 13 players, including former captain Habibur Bashar, who has signed up with the ICL.

The ICL, bankrolled by India's largest listed media company Zee Telefilms, was launched last year in a direct conflict with the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The BCCI not only barred any ICL player or official from taking part in official cricket, but also convinced other boards to take similar action against their 'rebel' players.

The Indian board also started its own lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition, featuring the world's top stars, to counter the ICL.

Not surprisingly, ICL officials welcomed Sri Lanka's decision.

"This is a step in the right direction,"
ICL business head Himanshu Mody told the Cricinfo website.

"We hope that this decision will pave the way for Sri Lankan cricketers to play both for the ICL and their country in the near future."

The ICL's first season last year comprised Twenty20 and 50-overs-a-side matches between eight teams that included a mix of international players and domestic Indian cricketers.

Among the top stars aligned with the ICL are retired former Test captains Brian Lara of the West Indies and Inzamam-ul Haq of Pakistan, besides fiery New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond and veteran Chris Cairns.

The Dhaka Warriors will be added as the ninth team in the second season starting on October 10.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

BCB receives retirement letters from six players

Six leading Bangladesh players - Habibul Bashar, Aftab Ahmed, Shahriar Nafees, Farhad Reza, Dhiman Ghosh and Mosharraf Hossain - have informed the Bangladesh Cricket Board they intend to retire from international and domestic cricket. The news, announced by the BCB, follows a report in the Bangladesh daily Prothom Alo which said 14 players, including the six mentioned above, were set to join the Indian Cricket League. ICL officials contacted by Cricinfo said nothing had been finalised as yet.

The report said the players will represent the Dhaka Warriors in the ICL. Besides the six, those named include current internationals Alok Kapali and Nazimuddin, four players who represented Bangladesh previously - Mohammad Rafique (now retired), Tapash Baisya, Manjarul Islam and Mohammad Sharif, and Golam Mabud and Mahbubul Karim, currently touring Sri Lanka with the Bangladesh Academy team.

If such an exodus does take place the effect on Bangladesh's cricket could be disastrous; the ICL is not recognised by the ICC and players appearing in its tournaments are liable to be banned from all top-class cricket. In effect, Bangladesh would have to create a national side almost from scratch. The report quotes some of the cricketers as claiming their contracts would have a clause releasing them for national duty.

The BCB said the players hadn't stated a reason for their retirement announcement and expressed

"concern at the abrupt decision by so many players to retire from the game".

Aftab, Nafees, Reza, Ghosh and Mosharraf have been part of Bangladesh's recent teams while Bashar, Bangladesh's most successful captain, last played in February. The six have been summoned by the board on Tuesday to explain their decision.

The report suggests the main reason for the players risking their international careers is money. Those playing for the national team are expected to pocket around $200,000 each after signing the three-year contracts, several times what they can ever expect to earn while playing for Bangladesh; the academy players will receive $30,000 each.

That kind of money is a rarity in Bangladeshi cricket but is more common in the IPL; however, only one Bangladesh player is currently in the IPL - Abdur Razzak, who signed up with the Bangalore Royal Challengers.

The plan for a Bangladesh team in the ICL had first been floated last year, soon after formation of a similar team in Pakistan called Lahore Badshahs, captained by Inzamam ul-Haq. The Bangladesh captain, Mohammad Ashraful, told Prothom Alo he had been approached by the ICL to form a team but had turned down the offer.

Kiran More, a member of the ICL's executive board, said no formal agreement had been reached.

"We are currently in the state of discussion with a few Bangladeshi players but nothing has been finalised yet."

He, however, declined to reveal the names of the players with whom the ICL was in touch.

The new ICL season will begin on October 10, featuring 34 matches across four venues in India.

Friday, September 12, 2008

ESPN Star pay $1bln for Twenty20 Champions League rights

ESPN Star Sports will pay nearly one billion dollars for commercial and marketing rights of the Twenty20 Cricket Champions League.

The inaugural tournament will be held from December 3 to 10 with $6 million in prize money. It will feature eight teams, two each from Australia, India and South Africa and the champions from the England and Pakistan domestic leagues.

Organizers said on Thursday the broadcaster had bid $900 million for a 10-year deal, plus some $75 million for marketing.

"The commercial rights were won by ESPN STAR Sports with a bid of $975 million (including $75 million for marketing of the tournament)," they said in a statement. "This makes the Champions League Twenty20 the highest value cricket tournament on a per game basis."

The Australian, Indian and South African boards will jointly organize the Champions League, an off-shoot of a lucrative Indian version launched this year.

"We are absolutely delighted that after a fair and transparent process, we have what we believe to be the best commercial deal for the inaugural Champions League season and for cricket fans across the world," Lalit Modi, vice-president Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said in the press release.