October 15, 2012
Cricket soap opera continues
By NORMAN DA COSTA, QMI Agency
When will this soap opera involving England batsman Kevin Pietersen ever end? The country booted him out for emailing provocative messages about his captain and manager to players on the South African team during a Test series. The wayward star later apologized and the England board reinstated him. Surprise, surprise!
It appeared this was all put to bed until David Collier, chief executive of the England board, accused South African players of deliberately provoking Pietersen into sending those insulting messages. Wonder how they could have done that?
An angry South African board immediately demanded an apology and received one from a contrite Collier on Monday.
“Collier has apologised for his comments and underlined the respect the ECB has for the ‘highest ethical standards of behaviour’ observed by South Africa players.’’
COME HOME, SHANE
Cricket Australia ordered its star all-rounder Shane Watson on Monday to return home from South Africa where he is representing Sydney Sixers in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament.
The board has allowed him to play two more matches before boarding the flight home to prepare for the crucial series against South Africa. Watson, who was voted player of the recent World Twenty20 tournament, is an integral part of the Aussie lineup and will want him to be at his best in the series. Other Aussie internationals that could be ordered home before the tournament concludes include David Warner, Mike Hussey, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Brad Haddin.
Sixers’ GM Stuart Clark was upset by Watson’s recall.
“We’re disappointed by it all. They want Shane to prepare for Test cricket. I understand those reasons — I just wish someone had told me this 15 months ago,’’ Clark told The Sydney Morning Herald.
It appears whenever India fails to live up to expectations in a major tournament or series the local media places the blame on dressing room politics. A senior Indian board official, who remains nameless, says there was a major row between Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virender Sehwag after the veteran opener was dropped for the crucial match against Australia in the World Twenty20 tournament.
After the Indians got their clocks cleaned by the Australians on their last visit Down Under, Indian media reported that the on-going rift between the two senior players had contributed to its poor showing. And that’s the same old news making the rounds this time around as India was the odds-on favourite to win the Twenty20 tourney. Instead it bowed out early.
Maybe Dhoni does harbour a grudge, but we will never know until one of them retires and then reveals all in a book like so many other cricketers do. After India lifted the 2011 World Cup the captain was showered with praise by all and sundry for his leadership and his batting, but this adulation didn’t sit too well with Sehwag. He went on record as saying India’s triumph was the result of “team effort” and not because of Dhoni’s leadership.
A panel of experts had its work cut out for it in selecting an all-star World Twenty20 team based on performances during the tournament. The unanimous choice to lead the team was Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene. Finalists Sri Lanka and the West Indies are represented by five players with India, Australia, England, New Zealand and Pakistan contributing the rest to the 12-man squad.
In batting order: Chris Gayle (West Indies), Shane Watson (Australia), Virat Kohli (India), Jayawardene, Luke Wright (England), Brendon McCullum (New Zealand — wicket-keeper), Marlon Samuels (West Indies), Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka), Mitchell Starc (Australia), Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan), Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka). 12th man: Suresh Raina (India). Unfortunately there was no room for Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan, West Indians Sunil Narine and Ravi Rampaul, South Africans AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn and India’s Yuvraj Singh.
CANADA SHUT OUT
It is hard to comprehend why the sport’s governing body would direct funds to Test playing nations. That’s exactly what it has done and two top-tiered nations that will benefit are the West Indies and Zimbabwe. Both countries have an established base and are recipient of TV revenues. The top beneficiary is the West Indies and it will receive $3 million, while Zimbabwe gets $1.5 million. We cannot quibble about the Netherlands, an associate country, receiving a handout of $1.5 million, but directing any monies to the West Indies and Zimbabwe makes no sense at all as this fund is supposed to bankroll minnows like Canada to be more competitive at the highest level.
Canada was one of seven countries that applied for an ICC grant but was turned down. It obviously did not present a strong enough case and was asked to reapply in 2013. Earlier this year two of the stronger associate countries — Ireland and Scotland — were handed $500,000 to strengthen their domestic programs. In all fairness, the ICC does subsidize Canada’s national team and pays for a national coach, but additional funds would have helped develop the game at the grassroots level.
Indian police and television stations have for years played an active role in helping the sport stamp out corruption starting with the Hansie Cronje case in 2000. Last week India TV broadcast footage of umpires from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka striking deals with officials to give their teams favourable decisions in exchange for money. But these ‘officials’ turned out to be under-cover reporters. The ICC immediately suspended the umpires pending an investigation ... Former New Zealand Test star Martin Crowe has been diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of cancer that attacks the immune system. The 50-year-old Crowe played 77 Tests for the Black Caps. ... Former Zimbabwe batsman and coach Kevin Curran passed away at the age of 53 in Mutare last week. He collapsed and died while jogging. The West Indies has surprisingly dropped star spinner Samuel Badree and replaced him with uncapped Veerasammy Permaul for November’s series in Bangladesh. Darren Bravo and Kirk Edwards are back in place of Adrian Barath and fast bowler Fidel Edwards.