West Indies takes one on the chin from Bell

England's Ian Bell celebrates reaching 100 runs not out during the first one day international...

England's Ian Bell celebrates reaching 100 runs not out during the first one day international cricket match between England and West Indies Saturday.(AFP)

NORMAN DA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:05 AM ET

Cricket fans around the world had their eyes firmly focused on the Ageas Bowl in Southampton for the highly-anticipated return of one Chris Gayle. The interest was exceedingly high in England as well where 14,000 tickets for the first of three one-day internationals Sunday were sold out in minutes.

But after all that hype, Gayle limped out with a shin injury to the disappointment of the public who had waited 15 months for his return to international cricket.

Gayle was left out of the team after a spat with management, but there’s no need to feel sorry for him as the opening batsman lined up his pockets by signing lucrative deals in T20 tournaments in Australia, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and India. The only loser in this long drawn out squabble was the West Indies and its die-hard followers.

Those who packed Ageas Stadium, previously known as the Rose Bowl and home of English county team Hampshire, though were treated a scintillating century from England opener Ian Bell. He carved out a superb 126, his century coming off 95 balls. It was a courageous knock as he received 10 stitches and a feared broken jaw after taking one on the chin during nets on Friday.

Together with Jonathan Trott (42) and an unbeaten 38 by Craig Kieswetter, the home team totalled 288 for six. Rain then sent the players scurrying for cover and the visitors should have stayed in the pavilion as they were bundled out for 172 to give England a 114-run win. Only Dwayne Smith stood up to the England pace bowlers with a 56. Tim Bresnan led the home team with four for 34 and James Anderson took two for 48 ... In another rain-delayed encounter in Colombo, Thisara Perera spun Sri Lanka to 44 runs in the fourth ODI on Saturday with a hat trick over visiting Pakistan. Perera took four wickets for 42 runs off his 10 overs as Pakistan had six ducks in its innings on 199. Only Azhar Ali (81 not out) and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (57) offered any kind of resistance chasing Sri Lanka’s 243 for eight. Captain Kumar Sangakkara made 97 and Mahela Jayawardene weighed in with 40.

SACHIN SCORES AGAIN

One of the perks of a being a minister in India’s parliament includes a free house, two escort vehicles and 24-hour security for the family. Sachin Tendulkar, who was sworn in as a member of parliament a couple of weeks ago, will receive the same perks. The greatest batsman in the game, who is worshipped by millions of Indians has been offered a five-bedroom colonial-era bungalow in New Delhi that has large manicured lawns. One who has visited this city will attest the houses in this part of the Delhi rival those on Forest Hills in Toronto.

It isn’t yet known if the scoring machine, who is a millionaire many times over because of his sponsorship deals, will accept this offer.

ABOUT TIME

Pakistan’s cricket board has at long last approached Wasim Akram, possibly one of the game’s greatest pace bowlers, to coach emerging fast players in Karachi next week. The legend had previously intimated his interest in helping Pakistani youngsters, but was never formally approached by the board. Both India and England also wanted to pick Akram’s brain, but he turned down their offers using the excuse that he was too busy because of his commitments as a Test commentator and consultant in the Indian Premier League. They were lucrative contracts but would have been reviled in his country if he had accepted their offers ... Pakistan and Australia will meet in three one-day internationals and an equal number of T20 matches in August and September. The matches will take place in either the United Arab Emirates or Malaysia as no Test country tours Pakistan because of security concerns.

WARNE MAKEOVER

Shane Warne has bamboozled batsmen with his spin for years. Now the Aussie supremo is stepping up to the crease to unleash his own skincare line for men. Warne, who took a lot of stick for his weight during his international career, has lost some eight kilos and groomed his hair and eyebrows. This was obviously all done at the insistence of his fiancée Elizabeth Hurley. “I can 100% tell you that I have not gone under the surgeon’s knife or had a facelift,” he was quoted as telling Hello! magazine. “Yes, I have also nicked Elizabeth’s moisturisers, but now I have my own. I’m considering doing my own line of men’s products,” he added.

SIMON SAYS I’M DONE

Star Australian opening batsman Simon Katich, who had a falling out with Cricket Australia last year, has announced his retirement from first-class cricket. Although he was a prolific Test scorer and considered one of the best he was controversially axed. He later revealed at a packed press conference that a dressing room slugfest with newly-appointed captain Michael Clarke in 2009 meant he would never be picked by the national team. That obviously brought his international career to a premature end ... What a difference a week makes. It appeared a certainty that Australia’s tour of Ireland and England was on the verge of being called off after the players threatened a boycott if a new pay deal was not put in place. But an agreement has been signed and delivered and the team boarded a flight a couple of days ago ... Bangladesh is smiling all the way to the bank. The cricket board has just signed a sponsorship deal worth $14 million for four years with Aamby Valley, an affiliate of Indian corporate giant Sahara ... Allen Stanford, the Texan financier who bankrolled tournaments in the West Indies and promised to pour in millions of dollars into the game, has been sentenced to 110 years in jail. He was found guilty of defrauding investors of more than seven billion dollars.

 


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