Don’t even bother looking for Kevin Pietersen’s name when England announces its 15-man squad for the World Twenty20 Cup later this week. One of the world’s greatest batsmen will be at home with his county team instead of helping England in Sri Lanka in September.
It was a turbulent week for the star batsman who first denied and later admitted that he did send derogatory messages about his England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower to his ‘close friends’ on the South African team during the second Test two weeks ago.
England’s management demanded an apology and received one, but still went ahead and dropped him for the lineup for the third Test and replaced him with Jonny Bairstow. As one can imagine, Bairstow was under tremendous pressure and he came through with flying colours to prove that Pietersen was indeed dispensable.
But back to Pietersen’s itchy fingers and Textgate. The England board has made it clear that it won’t entertain any disharmony in its dressing room. That alone should rule out Pietersen from the Twenty20 squad as rebuilding trust with Pietersen will take time. Strauss said the selectors made a “brave and correct’’ decision in dropping Pietersen for the third Test.
Strauss, who is expected to meet with Pietersen sometime this week, added: “We have to address this issue. We can’t sweep it under the carpet. It is going to be testing, no doubt about that.’’
With the Pietersen saga dominating the news there was not much attention paid to the fact Strauss is playing in his 100th Test match and that England needs to win to hold on to No.1 Test ranking. After three days of play it appears England may lose that crown to South Africa. South Africa fought back to score 309 in its first innings after struggling to 54 for four, thanks to JP Duminy and fast bowler Vern Philander scoring 61 each. Steve Finn celebrated his Test recall by taking four wickets for 75. England suffered early jitters as well, losing its first four for 54 before Ian Bell (58) and Bairstow (95) put on 124 for the fifth wicket. Bairstow fell five short of what would have been a thoroughly deserved century as England scored 315. South Africa’s pace attack shared the 10 wickets with Morne Morkle and Dale Steyn taking four each and the Philander the other two. South Africa then made 145 for three in its second knock with Hashim Amla unbeaten on 57.
Australia’s Big Bash League is courting the Bash Supersonics to pad up for Twenty20 tournament in December. Former Aussie spin great Shane Warne has approached Jamaican sprint greats Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, both cricket nuts, to play in the tournament. And both have expressed an interest. Of course, this is a great publicity stunt for the league, but would Bolt and Blake really risk their million-dollar limbs? I doubt Bolt would jeopardize the $20 million he makes in endorsements. Would Blake be crazy enough to wear his $500,000 wrist watch in a match?
Blake was given a rousing welcome when he walked around at Lord’s during the England-South Africa Test on Thursday and was thrilled to meet one of his cricketing heroes Michael Holding, one of the world’s and Jamaica’s greatest fast bowlers.
Blake said he could bowl as fast as Holding before he converted to sprinting.
“I’m a better cricketer than I am a runner,’’ he said. Bolt also says he was better at cricket and once hit his Jamaican cricket superstar Chris Gayle for a six and later clean bowled him.
CRICKET NATION DEBUTS
Local cricket fans will get a chance to catch the one-hour premiere of Cricket Nation on OMNI 2 in Punjabi tonight at 9 p.m. The English version will be aired on Aug. 26 at 9. The documentary is a production of filmmaker Stephen Young-Chin who traces Canada’s cricket history. Few, of course, know that cricket was proclaimed Canada’s national sport by first Prime Minister John A. Macdonald ... Toronto’s Prairie Fire, led by Canada’s opening bowler Henry Osinde, won the first National Cricket League T20 championship that was marred by bad weather. Opening batsman Hiral Patel, nominated as the associate player of the year by Cricket Canada, was the tournament MVP ... B.C.’s Vimal Hardat has filled the vacant position as Cricket Canada’s first vice-president. Toronto’s Mohammed Shaikh steps in as second vice-president.
India’s swashbuckling captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is going to start smelling like a rose. The wicket-keeper who became an overnight sensation in his country after leading the team to the World Cup in 2011, is set to uncork his very own brand of perfumes in association with Beauty Contact.
Dhoni joins a long list of celebrities linked with the company that include Paris Hilton, Bob Mackie, Perry Ellis, Maria Sharapova, Alfred Sung, Hummer and Jessica Simpson. The line will hit the markets during the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in September. Apparently Dhoni, one of the world’s highest-paid athletes at $26.1 million a year, will be personally involved in the creation, formulation and development of the M.S. Dhoni line of fragrances, which caters exclusively to men ... Top international Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf has had his middle stump uprooted by Mumbai model Leena Kapoor. She laid a complaint with the Mumbai police that he took advantage of her for some six months after promising marriage.
Rauf travelled to Mumbai frequently on duty as an umpire and that’s when the two hooked up. For the record, the model is 21 years old while the man in the white coat is 56 ... Well-known actress Sarah Jane Dias has never met Indian cricket star Virat Kohli but the Indian press has the two romantically linked.
“I have never been in the same room as Virat Kohli, I have never spoken to him on the phone. I have never met him. I have not shook hands with him,’’ said Dias. Bollywood fans can see the 29-year-old actress playing a bartender in a movie Kyaa Superkool Hain Hum filmed in Goa. “I am currently unavailable,’’ she shot back when asked about her current relationship.
LAXMAN CALLS IT QUITS
VVS Laxman had style and he could bat. India’s great middle-order batsman followed in the footsteps of another great Rahul Dravid and called time on his 16-year international career on Saturday. It came as a surprise as he was widely expected to retire following the two-Test series against touring New Zealand later this month ... England versus South Africa is the pick of the under-19 World Cup tournament’s quarter-final clashes that start on Sunday at Townsville, Australia. Australia is favoured to romp over Bangladesh in the other quarters today. The other quarter-final that has created a buzz is the clash between old rivals India and Pakistan on Monday. In other matches on Monday Nepal faces Sri Lanka and West Indies takes on New Zealand.