|Rajasthan Royals owner Shilpa Shetty (right) talks with former captain Shane Warne and his girlfriend Liz Hurley (C) during the IPL Twenty20 match last May. Shetty appointed Rahul Dravid as the team's new captain earlier this week. (AFP PHOTO)
Sri Lanka’s forthcoming tour of South Africa is in jeopardy. There is a distinct possibility it could be called off as the players haven’t been paid since the World Cup in April. And this is a crying shame as this same team reached the final before bowing out to India.
The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations admits it has been approached by the Sri Lanka Cricketers’ Association (FICA) for advice and assistance. FICA chief executive Tim May said he is in discussions with the ICC looking “for a short-term solution.” May told the BBC Sinhala service the alternative would be for the players to stop playing, but wished such action wouldn’t be necessary.
“This would be identical to any normal employee who hasn’t been paid by their employer for some time — it’s a breach of contract, and the employee would be able to terminate his contract and work elsewhere,” he added.
PONTING MOTORS ON
There has been a growing pressure for Ricky Ponting to retire. The latest call came from former New Zealand captain Chris Cairns, who described the former Aussie skipper as the “elephant in the room.’’
Cairns believes the 37-year-old is allowed to continue because of his stature in the game and who he is. Ponting has repeatedly said he will bow out when he is ready. This is something Cairns takes issue with.
“When you look at the likes of Mark Taylor, (Ian) Healy, Mark Waugh — they were told it was their time. And there’s an elephant in the room at the moment in Ricky Ponting that nobody is really addressing,” he was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald. Ponting hit back at his critics by carving out 78 in Australia’s first innings total of 427 in the first Test versus New Zealand at Brisbane Saturday. Ponting had 12 boundaries off 140 balls and combined to put on 86 runs for the fourth wicket with his skipper Michael Clarke who made 139. New Zealand made 295 in its first knock and 10 for one in the second at stumps on the third day.
RAMPAUL CAN BAT, TOO
Ravi Rampaul has had a dream season with the new ball for a young West Indies team that is hoping to recapture the glory years of the 1960s and 70s. But few expected this Trinidadian to star with the bat as well. Rampaul smashed a 66-ball 86 against India, the best ever by a No. 10 batsman. He also got his name in the record book for the most sixes for a No. 10 batsman, clearing the ropes on six occasions. The previous highest score by a No. 10 was 73 not out by Pakistan’s Mohammed Aamer against New Zealand in 2009.
Rampaul and his fellow-paceman Kemar Roach came together with West Indies in dire straits at 149 for eight. The two added 99 runs in 14 overs for a respectable total of 269. Unfortunately, Rampaul’s whirlwind knock was in vain as India nipped the visitors by one wicket in a thriller at Visakhapatnam, thanks to Virat Kohli’s 117 and an unbeaten 90 from Rohit Sharma. The two starred in a 163-run fourth-wicket partnership with India reaching 270 for five with 11 balls to spare.
PAKISTAN ENJOYS RESURGENCE
Pakistan is on a roll following the match-fixing scandal that rocked the cricketing world. The team led by Misbah-ul-Haq defeated Sri Lanka 1-0 in the three-match Test series and followed that by thrashing the islanders 4-1 in the five ODIs and also taking the lone Twenty20 encounter. The team then jetted from the United Arab Emirates to Bangladesh and continued its winning ways. It appears all-rounder Shahid Afridi can do no wrong as he continues to shine with bat and ball every time he dons the green uniform. After that great showing in the U.A.E., he mesmerized Bangladesh with his leg-spin to grab five wickets for 23 as Pakistan overcame the home team in Dhaka by five wickets in the first ODI Thursday. He was at it again Saturday by slamming 42 off 27 balls to lift Pakistan to 262 for seven in the second ODI for another easy win by 76 runs.
Meanwhile, Mohsin Ali, who took over on an interim basis after Waqar Younis resigned in September, has declared his interest in the vacant position. But he can expect competition from Aussie Dav Whatmore who guided Sri Lanka to the World Cup in 1996. Whatmore is one of 35 who applied. There is talk that South African Jonty Rhodes will be approached to take over as fielding coach.
PACE BOWLERS VULNERABLE
Richard Hadlee is convinced today’s fast bowlers are injured frequently because of the adjustment they make when playing in Twenty20s and the one-day internationals. The legendary fast bowler from New Zealand would know. He told the Sydney Morning Herald, “When you get into one-day cricket, particularly when you are bowling in the death overs, you are bowling wide of the crease. You tend to open up a little bit and force the ball in to middle and middle and leg. You are putting a different stress on the body and that may take its toll and cause a reaction.”
He makes a good point. Australia went into the first Test versus New Zealand minus four pacers — Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Shane Watson and teenager Patrick Cummins — following that hard-fought tour of South Africa . . . India’s medium pacer Praveen Kumar is out of India’s trip Down Under in January with a chest injury . . . England’s outstanding fast bowler Tim Bresnan had elbow surgery Friday and India’s star opener Zaheer Khan has been out of the game for four months after an ankle operation.
England’s Graeme Swann, who was left battered and bruised by India in the recent ODIs, says it is time this version of the game was scrapped for Test and Twenty20 competitions. Of course, this opinionated spinner, won’t get any support for a ridiculous suggestion. But it is surprising at the amount of ink he received in Britain . . . Bollywood beauty Shilpa Shetty, who also happens to co-own the Rajasthan Royals of the Indian Premier League, has named Indian Test star Rahul Dravid captain of the team for next season’s Indian Premier League. Dravid takes over from Shane Warne . . . All-rounder Sam Loxton, a member of Don Bradman’s all-conquering Aussie squad of 1948, has died at the age of 90 in Queensland. This is how Bradman once described Loxton’s batting: “When he hits the ball it is the music of a sledgehammer.’’