Monday, December 1, 2008

Swann too reluctant to tour India

After Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff, England spinner Graeme Swann too has developed cold feet and is reluctant to tour India following the terror strikes in Mumbai.

Swann said though he has full faith on security adviser Reg Dickason, who is yet to give a go-ahead to the tour, he was not particularly keen on returning to India for the two-match Test series.

"I wouldn`t be 100 per cent happy with going back, you know," the off-spinner said.

"There`s a security report being compiled and I have every faith in Reg Dickason, if he comes back saying, `Look guys, it`s safe, we can go back there, we can do some good and get playing sport` then I would go. But until that report comes back, certainly at the minute, I`m not that keen, to be honest," the player told reporters.

Incidentally, pacer James Anderson is also likely to stay back to be with his pregnant wife.

Swann admitted, for a spinner trying to cement his place in the side, skipping the India tour might jeopardise his prospect but said cricket lost its importance to him after the Mumbai terror strikes.

"Obviously it`s tricky for people like myself who are trying to forge a regular place in the team. It comes down to thinking, `If I don`t go will I miss out on future selection` and stuff like that, which sort of clouds the issue a little bit. It`s certainly not an easy decision to make and not one that anyone will be enjoying.”

"You could potentially do some good, but you`ve got to weigh that up against and factor in, if it is still dangerous, what good are you going to do if you`re just providing another target," said the Nottinghamshire spinner.

"It (cricket) didn`t feel very important to me personally in the past few days. As I said the scenes we were watching were just harrowing and, you know, the last thing on your mind was playing cricket. The Test match was due to start in 10-14 days and that`s a long time in anything, so we`ll see how the dust is going to settle. Personally, to me, it seems pretty volatile over there at the moment," said Swann.

Harmison had earlier made it clear that he would not return to India and also questioned those urging the team to go ahead with the tour.

"The idea of being asked to go back out there is the last thing on my mind," Harmison said.

"It`s all very well for people back home to say we should carry on with the tour, but none of what has happened has anything to do with cricket. How anyone can say we should be carrying on with the tour in these circumstances is beyond me," he said.

England to return on Dec 3; first Test match at Chennai

England’s cricket tour of India resumed again when it was confirmed on Monday that the squad would come back to play the Test match series. The team would return on 3rd December.

The schedule of venues would be changed due to revised security guidelines. The first Test would be held at Chennai instead of Ahmedabad while the venue of the second Test would be shifted from Mumbai to Mohali.

BCCI Secretary N Srinivasan said in a media release that England have agreed to resume their tour of India that was halted after the first five ODIs were completed following the terror attack in Mumbai.

However, the final word on the tour would be given only after the England and Wales Cricket Board send their security consultant for discussions with the authorities in India.

England were originally scheduled to play the Test matches at Ahmedabad and Mumbai before the Mumbai terror attack.

The three-day tour match scheduled prior to the commencement of the two-match rubber has been cancelled, he added.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prince of Pretoria helps South Africa romp to series win

South Africa won the second Test against Bangladesh by an innings and 48 runs on Friday after three middle-order run outs contributed to the visitors’ feeble second innings of 131 all out.

Ashwell Prince was named Man-of-the-Match and the series after scoring a Test best 162 not out in South Africa’s 429, a score that gave the home side a platform to complete a second innings victory in the two-Test series.

Bangladesh, trailing by 179 runs in the first innings, lost the key wickets of Mohammad Ashraful (21), Mehrab Hossain (0) and Raqibul Hasan (28) to direct hits from Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla and Prince respectively.

Earlier, wicketkeeper Mark Boucher too slammed a fluent century as the hosts reached 429 in reply to Bangla’s 250.

CA puts all travel to India on hold

With an eye on the situation in Mumbai, Cricket Australia (CA) suspended plans to send the Western Australia and Victoria squads to India for the Champions League T20 competition before the event was postponed.

Both teams were scheduled to leave for India on Friday and the Bushrangers - as the Victorian team is known as in the T20 format - were booked to stay at the Taj Hotel which was attacked by terrorists on Wednesday night.

"Given the circumstances, all travel to India have been put on hold. We are in constant touch with the BCCI and the governing council of the Champions League T20. We are also consulting our government and security agencies and trying to get extensive information on the situation," CA spokesman Philip Pope told HT from Melbourne.

"We are exploring all options and holding talks with everyone concerned. We also feel deeply for those to have suffered significant personal distress following the incidents. As of now, trips to India have been halted," said Pope, adding that there is no timeframe as such. "For the moment, we will wait for instructions."

Chennai to host second Test against England

n a bid to salvage the Test series against England, the BCCI chose Chennai as the venue for the second Test on Friday as it promptly responded to England and Wales Cricket Board's request to shift the match from terror-hit Mumbai.

Even as the England cricket team prepared to leave the country after the remainder of the one-day series was called off following the terror attacks in Mumbai, the BCCI acted swiftly by changing the venue and maintaining that the Test series will go ahead as per schedule.

After day-long discussions with top BCCI officials on Thursday, the ECB representatives had given an assurance to the BCCI to return to India and play the two-match Test series starting on December 11 provided the second match was shifted to a venue in South India.

"India's Test series against England will be played as per schedule. Chennai will host the second Test from December 10 to 23, instead of Mumbai", BCCI Secretary N Srinivasan said in a statement.

"The first Test will be played at Ahmedabad from December 11 to 15 as originally scheduled. Baroda will host the three-day game between the visitors and the Board President's XI from December 5 to 7 as scheduled", the statement said.

England will return home from Bangalore later on Friday night after abandoning the Guwahati and New Delhi one-dayers in the wake of the Mumbai terror strikes which also forced the postponement of the USD 6 millions Champions League Twenty20

Ex-England captains say team should play Tests

Former captains Bob Willis and David Gower have joined Ian Botham and Mike Atherton in urging the English team to return to India and play the two-Test series next month. Willis and Gower backed the decision to abandon the one-day series but felt if England do not return to India for the two Tests the same treatment could be meted out to them by visiting sides when such a situation arises in the country.

“If India is deemed safe before first Test in Ahmedabad on December 11 and the second in Chennai, they should go and play. Otherwise no one will come to England — teams will say we are as much a terrorist target as any country. I hope that within a fortnight, things will have settled down,” Willis said. On Friday, former captains Ian Botham and Mike Atherton had urged ECB to continue the Test series.

Willis gave an example of the England squad, including himself, continuing to tour India in 1984-85 when former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated. “England players stayed on in 1984-85 when Mrs Gandhi and Percy Norris, the deputy British High Commissioner, were assassinated.

But I can understand reluctance of any cricketer to go into areas where there have been terrorist attacks. As Westerners are being targeted, it is sensible for the team to leave,” Willis was quoted as saying by ‘The Times’.

Twenty four wickets fall on Day One at Kotla

Ishant Sharma ran in with purpose and bowled with fire, just as Delhi would have liked their star bowler to do. On a pitch tailor-made for his ilk, the pace bowler grabbed a career-best seven for 24 to save Delhi the embarrassment of conceding a huge lead in their Ranji Trophy Elite Super League match against Orissa at the Feroz Shah Kotla here.

Needing a victory desperately, Delhi prepared a green-top pitch that would guarantee a result, but on being asked to bat first, they were skittled out for a mere 78. However, Sharma, supported at best by some miserly bowling from the other end, ripped through the top order to restrict the opposition to 80.

Delhi captain Virender Sehwag was battling on 27 as Delhi finished the opening day at 38 for four in their second innings, just 36 ahead with six wickets in hand. On a windy day that saw most batsmen being bowled, caught behind or leg-before wicket if not trying a desperate shot, Sharma sent the wickets cartwheeling five times.

Former Test opener Shiv Sundar Das and P Jayachandra were among those castled by huge incoming deliveries from the beanpole, the fielders anticipating the sweet sound of ball hitting the timber and enjoying scurry to fetch the dislodged bails from far off.

Sharma, who had just two first-class five-wicket hauls prior to this match including one in a Test against Pakistan at Bangalore last year, did his best after the team management decided to play aggressively after getting back the services of their star players.

Gautam Gambhir though proved to be a big let down for the home side, getting a ‘pair’, facing only two balls in each innings. Sehwag was run out in the first innings with a top score of 17 and batted with defiance in the second to keep Delhi’s hopes alive.

Good to talk

Warwickshire this week attempted to paper over the cracks that have begun to appear all over Edgbaston.

Their decision to fine skipper Brian Lara pounds 2,000 for his missing last Sunday's Axa League game against Somerset at Taunton might appear to have been a punitive measure but it was taken partly to quell growing unrest among the members.

There is no doubt that Lara made every effort to dash from Gatwick Airport to Taunton and that with better communication with director of coaching Phil Neale, he would have been included in Warwickshire's starting line-up and there ...

Cricket crazy or shock?

Call it a casualty of the Indo-Pak one-day series, day matches from 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. are seriously affecting normal works, even minor ones like repairing a fuse box.

Sample this. It's 11 a.m. on a match day. A locality in the city suddenly finds itself sweating in the scorching heat as a nearby fuse box decides to take a break, after a little bit of hissing and sparking. A couple of disgruntled residents call up the `power Gods' on 1912, dubbed the `helpline.'

Sure, the response is polite: "Our people will be there to help you in less than 30 minutes." The wait starts. Thirty minutes. One hour. Another call. "They haven't come so far? Please check up after 10 minutes, I'll remind them."

The wait continues. The residents decide to go to the local Discom office where a person sitting on the veranda checks out their complaint number and then calls out a name, that of the repair expert, who saunters out of the office, seriously listens to the complaint and then says in the politest of tones: "Please excuse me for another 30 minutes, the first session of the match will be over by then and I'll come."