Pak displace England from second spot
Chuck out the chuckers: Crowe
Zidane may lose Golden Ball: Blatter
insulted mother, sister: Zidane
Ronaldinho apologises to fans
India drop 13 places in FIFA rankings
Klinsmann hangs his boots
London, July 12
The tourists ended England’s prolonged post-Ashes celebrations with a 2-0 home victory late last year. Now they will test to the full England’s resolve and character before the hosts travel to Australia for the Ashes defence this year.
Much has been made in England of the injuries which have deprived the side of captain Michael Vaughan, fast bowler Simon Jones and left-arm spinner Ashley Giles for the entire season.
Vaughan is a non-starter for the Ashes after a fourth operation on his right knee. The other two have made optimistic noises about a return sometime in September although, realistically, their hopes of touring Australia are remote.
England will also start at least the first test without Vaughan’s stand-in Andy Flintoff, who missed the 5-0 one-day series loss to Sri Lanka with a heel injury.
Even taking injuries into account the feeling persists that England have under-achieved in their three series since defeating Australia with a lack of concentration and rigour allowing Sri Lanka to seize a 1-1 draw in the most recent encounter.
After winning the second test, England lost seven matches in a row to the Sri Lankans and their bowling in the one-day series was an embarrassment with the spearhead Steve Harmison conceding 97 from his 10 overs in the final match.
Harmison, who missed the three-test series against Sri Lanka with sore shins, is one player with no intention of playing the injury card.
“We can make as many excuses as we want about injuries but I think it’s time we put them to bed,” he told a news conference yesterday. “We need to stop making excuses.”
Harmison’s role at the ground where he unsettled the Australians last year with his pace and bounce becomes even more important if Matthew Hoggard is unable to take the field.
Hoggard had six stitches in his right hand after a team mate trod on it at the weekend and will test his fitness in the nets this morning. “I’m not a big fan of Lord’s,” Harmison said. “I never feel comfortable bowling here. But I’ve always been successful here.” Jon Lewis, a similar type of bowler to Hoggard with his reliance on late outswing, is in the squad as a potential replacement while Ian Bell has been recalled to bat at number six in place of Flintoff.
Bell will share the fifth bowler’s duties with Paul Collingwood.
Pakistan, who have not lost a series in England since 1982, also have injury problems.
Shoaib Akhtar, who took 17 wickets in the series last year, is absent because of a persistent ankle injury and his opening partner Rana Naved ul-Hasan was ruled out of the tour this week with a groin injury.
There is still plenty of talent among the remaining bowlers with leg spinner Danish Kaneria relishing the chance to play in the latter part of the English season when the pitches are drier and offer most assistance to the spinners.
Pakistan’s particular strength lies in their batting.
Inzamam-ul-Haq averaged over a hundred in the last series with a lowest score of 53 and two centuries in the second test while Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf are consistent accumulators.
Shahid Afridi, who has rescinded a decision to play one-day cricket only, is a destructive batsman and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal showed his pedigree with 154 in the final Test in Pakistan.
Under the unruffled captaincy of Inzamam and shrewd guidance of coach Bob Woolmer, Pakistan, a side who often prove less than the sum of their parts, appear united without losing their flair for the unexpected.
On current form they start favourites for the forthcoming series and as a bonus they have all the components necessary for success at the World Cup in the West Indies early next year.
Teams (from): England: Andrew Strauss (captain). Marcus Trescothick, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Geraint Jones, Liam Plunkett, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, Sajid Mahmood and Monty Panesar.
Pakistan: Salman Butt, Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik, Faisal Iqbal, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Asif and Samiullah Niazi. — Reuters
Dubai, July 12
Pakistan, who have a series of recent victories against England, India and Sri Lanka, are now just 10 rating points behind leaders Australia in the annual update of the rankings.
They close to within three points of the top side if they can clean-sweep the four-Test series beginning tomorrow.
But if England win the series, it will move back above Pakistan while a 4-0 home success would move it to with in 10 points of Australia and drop Pakistan into fourth place, below India.
The annual update is carried out to ensure the LG ICC Test Championship table continues to reflect recent form with older results being discarded.
The new table no longer reflects series concluded before August 1, 2003, and that also benefits Pakistan as it means losing series in 2002/03 against Australia (3-0) and South Africa (2-0) no longer feature in the calculations.
The rankings of most of the other teams are largely unchanged by the update although New Zealand and South Africa’s ratings have suffered as strong performances in series in 2002/03 are no longer counted.
Matthew Hoggard is the highest-placed player on either side in the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers, in fifth place.
Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria lies in 13th spot while Stephen Harmison, fit again after missing the Sri Lanka Test series with a leg injury, is 17th.
On the batting front, however, Pakistan looks like it has an edge with three players — Inzamam (4th), Younis Khan (6th) and Mohammad Yousuf (joint 7th with Australia’s Michael Hussey) — in the top 10 of the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen.
England’s top-ranked batsman is Kevin Pietersen in ninth spot, fit again after missing two ODIs against Sri Lanka with bruising to his left knee, while Marcus Trescothick is 11th and acting captain Andrew Strauss lies 14th.
Flintoff, who is on the comeback trail after missing the ODI series against Sri Lanka with an ankle injury, is second in the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test all-rounders behind Jacques Kallis of South Africa.
Pakistan’s leading Test all-rounders are Shahid Afridi (11th) and Abdul Razzaq (12th).
Australia’s Ricky Ponting heads the batting list while Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralidaran is the leading bowler.
India keep fourth place
NEW DELHI: India have maintained their fourth position in the Test ranking, thanks to their series victory in West Indies. Indian captain Rahul Dravid is placed second in the batting ranking table while Virender Sehwag has been slotted at the 16th spot. They are the two Indians among the best 20 batsmen in the world. In bowling, headed by Muthiah Muralitharan, Anil Kumble occupies the eighth
position while Irfan Pathan is slotted at the 15th place. — PTI, OSR
NEW DELHI: India have maintained their fourth position in the Test ranking, thanks to their series victory in West Indies.
Indian captain Rahul Dravid is placed second in the batting ranking table while Virender Sehwag has been slotted at the 16th spot. They are the two Indians among the best 20 batsmen in the world. In bowling, headed by Muthiah Muralitharan, Anil Kumble occupies the eighth position while Irfan Pathan is slotted at the 15th place. — PTI, OSR
London, July 12
Changes to international regulations brought about by investigations into controversial Sri Lanka off-spinner Muralitharan’s action mean bowlers are now allowed a maximum of 15 degrees of straightening in delivery.
But there is no room for manoeuvre under the Laws of Cricket and former Test batsman Crowe insisted that was right.
“I have zero tolerance of ‘chucking’ in cricket,” said Crowe while giving the 2006 Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s here Thursday. “I’m sick to death with the hypocrisy of the past 10 years.
“I don’t care about talk of 15 degrees here or 10 degrees there... if with the naked eye a bowler is clearly chucking — even by one degree — he should be chucked out...
To straighten your arm from any bent position is a massive advantage over other bowlers who bowl properly.” Then, in a reference to Muralitharan, he added: “Having been pinned in the head by ‘chuckers’ over 15 years, having been dubiously bowled first ball in a Test by a certain Sri Lanka bowler, having tried to bowl a decent ball myself with a straight arm, I’ve had more than enough of this aspect of the game.” Only Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne has taken more than 34-year-old Muralitharan's 635 Test wickets in the history of the game.
But the Sri Lankan’s career has been dogged by rows over the legitimacy of his unique action, which saw him no-balled for throwing during tours of Australia in 1995/96 and 1998/99.
Two years ago his ‘doosra’ delivery (a ball which turns away from the right-handed batsman, the opposite of a standard off-spinner) was reported by match referee Chris Broad, the former England opening batsman.
That led to a general inquiry into throwing by the International Cricket Council (ICC) which in turn sparked a relaxation of the rules governing Test, one-day and first-class matches after it was found that many bowlers were bending their arms in delivery.
Meanwhile, in a wide-ranging speech, Crowe, who exactly 23 years ago on Tuesday scored a Test century at Lord’s, called for the World Cup to be shortened and one-day games to feature two innings per side.
He added minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe should be thrown out of Test cricket, saying they were “clogging up the works”.
Crowe, now 43, scored over 5,400 runs in 77 Tests at an average of above 45 with 17 hundreds before his career was cut short by a knee injury which led to his retirement in 1995.
The Cowdrey Lecture was inaugurated six years ago by Lord’s owners Marylebone Cricket Club in memory of the late England captain Colin Cowdrey. — AFP
Rome, July 12
Zidane was announced as the winner of the prestigious award on Monday morning, the day after the World Cup final, which saw him sent off in the second period of extra time for head-butting an Italian opponent.
Italy went on to defeat France 5-3 on penalties after the game in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium was tied at 1-1.
FIFA has since launched an investigation into the sending off incident involving Zidane and Italy’s Marco Materazzi.
Zidane claims he was reacting to insults aimed at him by Materazzi and is scheduled to give his version of events live on French television on Wednesday evening.
Blatter said before taking any decision on whether to strip Zidane of the best player award, he wanted to see the results of the FIFA investigation.
“It’s not FIFA that decides who wins this award but an international committee of journalists,” he told La Repubblica. “All the same, the FIFA executive committee has the responsibility of intervening when it is a matter of conduct which goes against the ethics of the sport. That is why I gave the orders to our disciplinary commission to investigate what happened.”
Voting by journalists covering the World Cup for the best player award is by a deadline of midnight on the day of the final, but most journalists submit their votes earlier to better concentrate on their work during what is the busy climax to the competition. Blatter said Zidane’s head butt shocked him personally. — AFP
Materazzi insulted mother, sister: Zidane
Paris, July 12
The French captain reacted to the insult by head-butting Materazzi’s chest in the second period of extra time of the match. He was sent off.
“Materazzi pronounced very tough words about my mother and my sister. I tried not to listen to him but he kept repeating them,” Zidane said in a live interview on French television channel Canal Plus.
Rio De Janeiro, July 12
Favoured to win a record sixth World Cup in Germany, Brazil was knocked out in the quarterfinals 1-0 by France, which was runner-up to Italy.
“I’ve seen and heard the criticism, and it all seems very exaggerated,” Ronaldo said at a news conference yesterday.
He acknowledged the team didn’t live up to expectations.
“Our performance was below expectations. We just have to accept it,” he said. “I think it’s too much to look for a culprit for our elimination. Brazil won’t win every Cup, even though we’re the best team in the world.” Ronaldo, 29, has won the Cup twice, in 1994 and 2002, and nearly won a third time in 1998, when Brazil reached the final but lost 3-0 to host France.
He compared the sullen mood in Brazil with the ecstasy of 2002, when the team defeated Germany 2-0 in the final in Japan.
“Four years ago everyone was happy — the press, fans, politicians — everyone commemorating the fifth World Cup title,” he said. “Now the losers are just the players and the coaching staff.” Ronaldo defended coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who led the team to the title in 1994 and was expected to repeat the feat this year.
“The coach can’t be the only one guilty for the defeat of the national team,” Ronaldo said.
The tournament was a personal success for Ronaldo, who scored three goals to eclipse former German star Gerd Mueller as the tournament’s all-time leading scorer with 15 goals. He also was the Cup’s third-highest scorer with three goals, two behind Germany’s Gold Shoe striker Miroslav Klose.
Ronaldo confirmed rumours he was considering surgery on his left knee, and said he was consulting Brazil team doctor Jose Luis Runco.
“We’ll talk with Runco and see what’s the best way to resolve this problem,” he said.
FC Barcelona striker Ronaldinho, twice voted the world’s best player, also apologised for the team’s disappointing play.
“Many expected a brilliant performance from the team and especially from me. Which didn’t happen,” he said in a statement on his Web site. “I regret we left this World Cup without showing our qualities, and what we’re capable of.” — AP
Rio De Janeiro, July 12
The world player of the year and his ‘Selecao’ team-mates did not sparkle as expected and were one of the tournament’s huge disappointments as they crashed out in the quarter-finals to France.
“Many people were waiting for a brilliant performance from the team and especially from me, something which did not happen,” said the Barcelona star on his personal website.
“I regret having left the World Cup without showing our true capabilities. “There is nothing I can say to change the past. For this reason I want to say sorry.”
“It is not this time that we claimed a sixth world title, but with your help, we will get over the mistakes of 2006 for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.” Ronnie has borne the brunt of much of the fans’ criticism after failing to reproduce the form he showed throughout the season at Barca.
A statue of him in a southern town was burned to the ground just hours after Brazil’s elimination by France as fans vented their anger at his insipid display. — AFP
Rome, July 12
“I believe that I have achieved what I set out to achieve as coach of the Italian team,” Lippi said in a press release issued by the federation.
He said his decision came at the end of “an extraordinary professional and personal experience. I want to thank the federation for the confidence it had in me during the last two years of work crowned by a result that will rest in the annals of Italian football and live on in the memory of our fans,” he added. The 58-year old Lippi took over from Giovanni Trapattoni after Italy’s poor showing at the Euro 2004 finals in Portugal.
Lippi won five league titles and a Champions League trophy during his two spells with Juventus from whom he parted company shortly before accepting the job as Italy coach.
He was born in the Tuscan seaside town of Viareggio and enjoyed an unspectacular playing career, his most successful spell coming at Genoa club Sampdoria.
His managerial career began in 1985 with third division Pontedera before taking the helm of top flight club Cesena four years later.
After spells at Atalanta and Napoli, Lippi’s big breakthrough came in 1994 when he was given the job at Juventus and he led the club to the Serie A title in his first season in charge.
He guided Juve to two more championships before enjoying Champions League success in 1996 when they defeated Ajax on penalties at the Olympic stadium in Rome.
Lippi resigned from Juventus in February, 1999, after a poor start to the season and took charge at Inter Milan for a little more than one season before returning to Turin.
He won successive league titles in 2002 and 2003 before losing the Champions League final to Juventus on penalties. — AFP
New Delhi, July 12
India, preparing for the Vancouver Whitecaps Nations Cup in Canada under new coach Englishman Bob Houghton, fell from 117th place to 130th in the new standings.
Brazil continue to lead the rankings. But the big gainers are world champions Italy, who have gained 11 spots to second place.
The new format, which was used first time, to decide the rankings take into account performances over the last four years as against the earlier format of assessing eight years’ showing. The previous method had attracted criticism indicating that its formula for calculation was too complicated.
Eyebrows were raised when teams like Czech Republic, the United States and Mexico were ranked higher than more establised teams.
In the latest rankings, losing World Cup finalists France gained four spots to number four while Argentina, who impressed all with their fluent football before being ousted on penalties in the quarterfinals by Germany, gained six places to number three.
Hosts and third-placed Germany climbed 10 places to number nine while England, who reached the last eight gained five spots to number five.
Czech Republic, ranked second before the tournament, fell to number 10. Other major losers were the Netherlands (down three places to number six), Spain (down two places to number seven) and Portugal (down one place to number eight).
Switzerland and Ukraine, who overachieved in Germany, have experienced a huge leap in rankings. The Swiss rose 22 places to 13th while Ukraine climbed 30 spots to 15th.
The USA, ranked fifth two months ago, fell to 16th and Mexico lost 14 places to 18th. Paraguay and African newcomers Ivory Coast made it to the top 20. Ghana rose 23 places to 25th while Australia gained nine places to 33rd.
The Asian powerhouses fare dismally in the latest rankings with all the four nations playing the World Cup suffering steep falls.
Iran upstaged Japan as the top-ranked side in the continent even after dropping 24 spots to 47th. The East Asians lost 31 places to be ranked two notches lower.
South Korea fell 27 places to 56th while Saudi Arabia dropped 47 places to number 81. — PTI
Berlin, July 12
His resignation comes just four days after he led Germany to third place in the World Cup finals at home.
“My big wish is to go back to my family, to go back to leading a normal life with them,” the US-based manager said.
“But another important reason is that after two years of putting a lot of energy into this, I feel that I lack the power and the strength to continue in the same way. I quite simply feel burnt out. I want to give myself half a year’s holiday.”
The 41-year-old Klinsmann, who won the World Cup as a player with Germany in 1990, took over as coach from Rudi Voller after Germany’s poor showing at the Euro 2004 finals in Portugal. — AFP
Geneva, July 12
“I’m very happy,” Liu said yesterday, laughing shyly and covering his face with the Chinese flag. “I’m very tired.” Liu ran a victory lap, shirtless and flailing his arms before climbing to sit on the red metal clock on the field that showed his record time.
The previous record of 12.91 was set first by Britain’s Colin Jackson in August, 1993. Liu had matched that time at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, when he became China’s first-ever sprint Olympic gold medallist.
Carter clocked a stunning 19.63 in the 200, the second fastest ever and beaten only by American Michael Johnson’s world record 19.32 at the Atlanta Olympics in August, 1996. Countryman Tyson Gay was runner-up with a personal best of 19.70, while Usain Bolt of Jamaica, the junior record holder with 19.93, was third in 19.88, also a personal best.
American Marion Jones continued her winning ways by leading a US sweep of the top four places in the women’s 100 metres. Jones won in 10.94, ahead of Me’Lisa Barber who was second in 11.03. Torri Edwards was third in 11.07 and Lauryn Williams fourth with 11.13.
Jones had been seeking to beat Jamaica’s Sherone Simpson’s world best of 10.82. Simpson withdrew just hours before the race because of injury. Organisers said she did not specify what the injury was.
Liu also set a junior world record in Lausanne four years ago. Liu’s performance came just three days after struggling to a fourth place finish at the Gaz de France meet outside Paris.
“I can’t believe it, I can’t express it,” Liu said later through a translator. “I had a good start and after the first five hurdles it was a perfect race,’ he said. ‘I wanted to break the record last year, but it wasn’t working. I think I can still run even faster.”
Dominique Arnold of the United States was second in 12.90, which was also faster than the previous record. American Terrence Trammell, who held the season’s best of 13.06 coming into the race, placed third in 13.02. — AP
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