End of an era: Warne, McGrath set to retire
Sourav’s showing exceptional: Vengsarkar
Proteas a blooming disaster, say former cricketers
Pawar in running for ICC top post
Punjab restrict Maharashtra
Sher-e-Jalandhar rout Signals
Surkumar is AIFF Player of the Year
Bopanna, Sanam in quarters
Nabha to host All-India Liberals hockey
Melbourne, December 20
Warne, who is one wicket away from becoming the first bowler ever to claim 700 scalps but has not been very successful against India, is to announce his retirement tomorrow while McGrath is expected to make a similar announcement after the fifth and final Test in Sydney (Jan 2-6), Australian broadcasters Channel Nine reported today.
Their decision is bound to have an impact on world cricket given their stature and record as the most successful spinner and seamer.
The 37-year-old Warne in fact heads the all-time highest wicket-takers’ list with 699 scalps while McGrath, 36, is third with 555.
While the leg-spinner had hinted in Perth, venue of the third Ashes Test, that he may quit the game, the decision of McGrath has come as a surprise since he was expected to play in the World Cup in March-April next year.
Their retirement would come on the heels of Damien Martyn quitting the game last week and could also force the likes of Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist—all of whom are 35 or above—to rethink their careers.
Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said it was up to Warne and McGrath to make any announcements regarding their futures. “Those two players are the masters of their own destiny and the owners of their own futures and when they announce decisions on their futures is up to them,” he said in a statement.
Warne’s career has been as much about bowling brilliance as off-field misdemeanours, which included a failed dope, test, numerous sex scandals and a nexus with bookies.
But his sheer genius often put to shade his controversy-prone personal life.
In fact, he single-handedly bowled the Aussies to Ashes win in Perth this week. Even in the last edition, although the Australians lost the urn, Warne stood out with a total haul of 40 wickets from five Tests.
However, Warne, who once famously said that Sachin Tendulkar gave him nightmares, did not have much success against India. In 14 Tests against India, he took 43 wickets at an average of 47.18, an economy rate of 3.10 and strike rate of 91.2.
But there can be no doubt about the impact he left on the game itself by revolutionising Test cricket through the dying art of leg-spin in an era dominated by fast bowling.
“There’s little doubt Warne could have played on into his 40s, but with his old friends and team-mates stepping aside, and a new life beckoning, reclaiming the Ashes and reaching the magical 700-wicket mark in Melbourne remained the final accomplishments,” the Sydney Morning Herald said on its website.
The possibility of Warne reaching 1000 wickets was talked about by the followers of the game but as Warne celebrated the Ashes win at the WACA in Perth, he hinted his career was nearing its end. “These are the things you’re going to miss... I’m closer to the end than the bloody start,” he had said.
Warne could not be contacted for his comments while coach John Buchanan said he could not comment anything at this stage.
McGrath, who has played in 123 Tests and 230 ODIs, also was not available for comment.
The decisions of the two bowlers come as all the more surprising because Justin Langer had said only a few days ago that the seniors in the side must postpone their retirement plans to avoid a repeat of the 1980’s exodus when Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh quit around the same time.
“You’ve got to have a nice progression of players coming through. You don’t want to see all the senior players going out at once,” he said.
“If you’d asked me 12 months ago, I’d have thought, ‘Yep - end of the Ashes, Sydney, that might be a good time to do it’. But now, when someone like Marto (Martyn) retires it brings into stark reality what the situation is,” he said. — PTI
It all began with the toss and I could sense the hand of Greg Chappell in it. It is typical of Australians to bat first when confronted with conditions, as it existed in the first Test at the Wanderers. They like to seize the bull by the horn, avoid batting last and importantly if they have a quality spinner and a good seam attack, to go for the jugular.
I could sense from where it was coming from: Indians must have thought if they could put up 250 or 270 on the board, they would be in the game.
I must confess though I was extremely surprised when I learnt of India’s option to take first strike. There wasn’t anything about their batting in the preceding games to suggest that this kind of confidence was still running in their veins and that too for an awkward pitch.
I spoke to Rahul Dravid a day later and he confessed he did not want to put his side for that kind of test in the fourth innings.
Indians stood the test of fire and quite a few played a critical hand. They, however, were put on course for 250 by the resilience of the lower half and Sourav Ganguly squeezed the maximum out of the tail, no less from VRV Singh whose plucky effort was the kind of knock, which shifts the momentum of the game critically. Indians from then on were very much on.
Sreesanth was the star for India and I have rarely seen anybody, from the days of Richard Hadlee and Kapil Dev, to have the seam so still on its way to the batsmen. His release is also exceptional and if he can do so regularly he would always be a threat. More so on a pitch such as Wanderers.
I chanced to meet him during the Test and he appeared just the bloke I sensed him to be. He asked the right questions and much of it was about the mental side of the game. We talked about the visualisation, stuff like imagining the nick going to wicketkeeper and all. It wasn’t as if he did not know about it—he had been spoken to on similar lines by Dennis Lillee before and I might just have reconfirmed his
From the South African perspective, they did not respect India enough and India rammed down their throat the message in emphatic style. Graeme Smith and his men were secure in the presumption that it would be a one-sided affair. It would be interesting to see how they recover from the traumatic experience.
Nothing was right about their batting or bowling. The batting was in shambles and the query must start with the openers itself: Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs. That the selectors haven’t gone for a change represents a big vote of confidence for the two but doubts about their form are creeping up all the time.
It was a mistake for the batsmen not to have gone to their franchises and played between the one-dayers and the Test and the same was true for their bowlers. Makhaya Ntini and the likes appeared very rusty and could have done with a stint with their home units.
It would be interesting to see how South Africans approach the second Test at Kingsmead on the Boxing Day. — PTI
Sourav’s showing exceptional: Vengsarkar
Durban, December 20
“Everyone had presumed that he would be bounced out on these pitches but he did very well,” remarked Vengsarkar, reflecting on India’s historic Test win, their first on South African soil.
“He stood his ground. He took time to get moving but it was an exceptional performance.” Ganguly’s return to international cricket has been highly impressive and the decision to recall the former skipper to the Test squad has been largely credited to Vengsarkar.
“I wouldn’t alone take credit for it, it was a decision of all selectors. Laxman, Kumble, Zaheer and Ganguly have a great deal of experience in Tests and one-dayers and I am glad they did exceedingly well.” Vengsarkar was also heartened by the performance of young S Sreesanth who took eight wickets for 99 runs and earned the man of the match award in the first Test.
“His performance and control was exceptional but he has to control his exuberance. He gets too excited. Otherwise he will be fined by the match referee all the time.” Vengsarkar was all praise for the brave decision taken by captain Rahul Dravid to bat first on a wicket which had wet patches and that too when he himself was not 100 per cent fit as far as his finger injury was concerned.
“It was a very courageous decision. He was very positive to bat first on a strip which had wet patches to start with.”
The former India captain has no doubt that the team had begun to acclimitise after a month's stay in South Africa.
“When we arrived, we had played only one one-day game before the one-day series started. The boys couldn’t acclimatise. But now they have been here for over a month and are getting used to the conditions,” Vengsarkar said.
The Selection Committee chairman is making his presence count on more than one front on this tour. He would have a fair deal of say in the selection of the playing eleven and has also has been instrumental in arranging a two-day match ahead of the second Test in Durban, starting December 26.
Vengsarkar’s initiative somehow redresses the lop-sided itinerary of the present tour where for nearly half of December, the team would not be seen on a cricket field.
“It’s important that everyone gets a game and stays match fit. We want to test out Munaf Patel if he has recovered fully. For the likes of Gautam Gambhir too, it’s an important outing.” Gambhir, in particular, would be sensing his moment as openers have continued to fail on the present tour.
The elegant batsman of yore is confident that India could do well with good start provided by the openers. He is not pulling the noose on either Virender Sehwag or Wasim Jaffer yet but is not prepared to give them a long rope either.
That’s why the two-day game has assumed such importance for the touring Indians.
“Everyone has to chip in with their contributions and nobody is an exception. We sure would look for alternatives in case there are regular failures,” remarked Vengsarkar. — PTI
Durban, December 20
Former captain Keppler Wessels said the hosts thought that they could run over the Indians by just some short pitched bowling.
“Graeme Smith and company thought that they could just pitch up at the Wanderers and walk all over the Indians, like they did in the one-day international series,” he told the Daily News while calling the Proteas a “blooming disaster”.
“Well, all I can say is that they were given a rude, rude wake-up call as India, who were down and out, went back to the drawing board, playing a four-day game at Potch and won that pretty well to get their confidence back and they came to the Wanderers far better prepared mentally and tactically.” Wessels said the fact that ever out of form batsmen were given 10 days off betrayed a lack of respect for the opposition.
“Our South Africans — the captain Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs plus others who are battling with the bat — were given 10 days off. That tells you nothing but sheer lack of respect for the opposition and boastful over-confidence — nothing else.
“Here we have batsmen lacking in form — Smith and Gibbs — yet the selectors gave them time off. I could not believe it.
“They needed time in the middle and their presence in the SuperSport series matches a week before the Test would have helped their confidence no end,” he added.
Former spinner Pat Symcox was much more forthright in his criticism and called for “heads to roll”.
“The fish is rotten from the head down — the administrators, the selectors, whom I believe have lost the plot, and the team management which includes the likes of Mickey Arthur, his side-kicks and the captain as well.
“It’s a sad day for South African cricket — it’s an international disaster. What South African cricket desperately needs is a strong batting and an outstanding bowling coach — that’s what is lacking. Mickey Arthur has been found wanting.
He’s been exposed. And the sooner Cricket South Africa looks into it the better or we could sink deeper into trouble,” said the fiery Symcox.
Symcox joined Wessels in condemning the selectors.
“I believe Haroon Lorgat has really lost it. There’s trouble brewing between the players and the selectors — and it’s being covered up pretty well. There's no experience at all. So how can you really pick a national team and expect it to perform at the highest level?”. — PTI
Mumbai, December 20
Incumbent ICC President Percy Sonn has still two years into the job but the process of filing nominations ends on January 1, 2007.
BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah said the Asian countries had reached a consensus on Pawar’s candidature.
“Yes, it has been decided that Mr Pawar will be the candidate to take over as the new ICC president once Percy Sonn’s two-year term is over. Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are in favour of Mr Pawar and we hope to elicit the support of the West Indies too,” he told PTI from Rajkot.
“We have to move fast as the nomination needs to be sent to the ICC by January 1, 2007. A C Muthiah (former BCCI chief) is the head of the ICC’s nomination committee,” said Shah, adding the issue would be discussed at the board’s working committee meeting here on Saturday.
Voting on the nominations will take place at the ICC’s annual meeting in London in July, 2007.
However, Pawar himself refused to give a direct reply when asked about the proposed move. — PTI
Punjab restrict Maharashtra
Kolhapur, December 20
Punjab's fine bowling and fielding did not allow Maharashtra to settle down and finally ended the innings for 452 all out after lunch. In reply to Punjab's total of 550, Maharashtra resumed the last day's play at the overnight score of 308 for five with Yogesh Takwale and captain Sairaj contributing valuable 102-run partnership and also completed their individual half centuries. After lunch, Sairaj was out LBW off R Sharma's bowling when team score was 414. Sairaj scored 52 runs with four fours in 190 minutes facing 155 balls. After that, no batsman stayed longer on the pitch and were all out for 452 before tea. Ravneet Ricky and Karan Goel opened Punjab second innings and at tea, the socre was 18 runs without loss. After tea, they added another 10 runs before play was stopped. Ricky was on eight and Goel was
on 20 when the match
ended. — UNI
Kolhapur, December 20
Punjab's fine bowling and fielding did not allow Maharashtra to settle down and finally ended the innings for 452 all out after lunch.
In reply to Punjab's total of 550, Maharashtra resumed the last day's play at the overnight score of 308 for five with Yogesh Takwale and captain Sairaj contributing valuable 102-run partnership and also completed their individual half centuries.
After lunch, Sairaj was out LBW off R Sharma's bowling when team score was 414. Sairaj scored 52 runs with four fours in 190 minutes facing 155 balls. After that, no batsman stayed longer on the pitch and were all out for 452 before tea.
Ravneet Ricky and Karan Goel opened Punjab second innings and at tea, the socre was 18 runs without loss. After tea, they added another 10 runs before play was stopped. Ricky was on eight and Goel was on 20 when the match ended. — UNI
Jalandhar, December 20
In another league match of the tournament played at the Burlton Park here today, Border Security Force (BSF) downed Punjab and Sindh Bank 3-2.
All the seven goals scored by Sher-e-Jalandhar — which is gearing up for the Premier Hockey League (PHL) — were field goals. The other scorers were Jarnail Singh (2) and Harbhajan Singh (1).
In another match, drag-flicker Jugraj put up a spectacular performance for Punjab Police in its outing against RCF today. Jugraj scored three goals through penalty corner conversions and one through a penalty stroke. Amit Singh, Gabbar Singh and Jagbir Singh also scored one goal each for the police team while Roop Singh and Harbir Singh posted one goal each for RCF.
The match of the day, between BSF and Punjab and Sindh Bank, was played at a fast pace. BSF took lead in the 10th minute through a fine field goal by Mukhjinder Singh and Varinder Jit Singh consolidated it with one more goal through a penalty stroke in the 26th minute.
Three minutes later, the bankmen struck through Tasvarjit Singh who converted a penalty corner. One goal each were scored by both teams in the second half through Daler Singh for the bankmen and Varinderjit Singh for BSF.
Punjab and Sindh Bank, which was playing with a second string team in the absence of seven regular star players, lacked experience and not only wasted five penalty corners but also conceded two penalty strokes. — UNI
New Delhi, December 20
Surkumar was selected for the honour following his impressive performances for the country as well as Mahindras throughout the year.
The AIFF announced the decision at its Annual General Meeting at its headquarters here. Surkumar is the second Manipuri to get the honour after Tomba Singh in 2003.
The former cadet of the Tata Football Academy, who is presently in action for his club in the Federation Cup in Kolkata, was a vital cog in Mahindras’ first triumph in the IFA Shield last week.
Surkumar was also part of the Indian team at the Doha Asian Games and found the net in the match against the Maldives.
Climax Lawrence was adjudged Player of the Year in 2005.
Among other decisions taken at the AIFF AGM, 2007 will be the year for talent hunt, while Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been selected for extension of the Vision India project, a part of Vision Asia.
Gangtok and Bangalore were confirmed as the centres for the second stage of FIFA’s Goal project in India after initiating the effort with Delhi and Manipur.
“The federation will make special efforts to spot talented youngsters in age-group tournaments so that they can be groomed to become better players at the senior level. More funds will also be allocated for this purpose,” an AIFF official told PTI.
The federation is also considering starting a women’s football league and club tournament and providing financial incentives for states participating in under-13 football festival. — PTI
Bopanna, Sanam in quarters
New Delhi, December 20
In a battle of wits, Bopanna swung the match in his favour with his consistent serves and searing returns as former national champion Sunil Kumar of Chandigarh failed to match his rival. Sunil was also dogged by self-inflicted injuries as he committed errors when he should have been careful.
Bopanna broke Sunil in the eighth game of the first set when the Chandigarh boy committed three double faults to waste his efforts till then to keep pace with the top seed.
In the second set, Sunil was broken in the very first game to make matters simple for Bopanna who maintained his serves with authority to win the set and the match.
But another boy from Chandigarh, Sanam K. Singh, however, hogged the limelight when he created the biggest upset and entered quarterfinals by defeating second-seeded Alexey Kedriouk of Kazakhastan 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 in an exhausting battle lasting two hours and 11 minutes.
Fifth-seeded Karan Rastogi posted a straight-set 6-3, 6-2 victory over Tushar Liberhan of Chandigarh while Kondo Hiroki of Japan nosed out Vivek Shooken at 6-4, 6-2.
In other matches, Todor Enev of Bulgaria defeated Hsin-Han Lee of Chinese Taipei 6-4, 6-0, Hyun-Woo Nam of Korea beat Ashutosh Singh 6-1, 6-3, fourth-seeded Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan beat Franck Dalla-Sana of France 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 while Divij Sharan disposed of Xavier Pujo of France 6-2, 6-4. It was indeed a pleasant day for the Indian players, despite the murkey weather, as four of them entered the last eight stage.
Nabha to host All-India Liberals hockey
Patiala, December 20 The tournament, which has been accorded grade A status by the Indian Hockey Federation
(IHF), has attracted as many as 26 top outfits from all over the country. A Pakistan based team, Ideal Hockey Club, Lahore, has also been invited to take part in the proceedings.
Patiala, December 20
The tournament, which has been accorded grade A status by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), has attracted as many as 26 top outfits from all over the country. A Pakistan based team, Ideal Hockey Club, Lahore, has also been invited to take part in the proceedings.
Kateryna Lahno maintains lead