Decision on Test series today
‘Players not forced to
Bookies running T20 cricket in India: Roebuck
Asif seeks hearing at neutral venue
India tour: PCB remains optimistic
Abu Dhabi, December 6
The 38-strong contingent, which includes 13 Test members and 10 performance squad members, were to head to nets at (9.30 local time), but their departure for the Sheikh Zayed Stadium was put back to (1 pm) due to persistent rain.
England have set up a training camp here until a definitive decision is made tomorrow on the trip back to India following the Mumbai terror attacks.
They are breaking unusual ground by preparing for a Test in a different country to that in which it is being played.
The squad arrived in the UAE capital last morning and had a three-hour light practice session in the afternoon yesterday. A friendly match is scheduled between the players tomorrow.
If the England security experts give a green signal to undertake the two-Test tour, the squad will leave for Chennai on Monday.
Hugh Morris, managing director of England cricket, and Sean Morris, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, will return here tomorrow with their conclusions.
England cancelled the final two one-dayers of its tour of India following last week's terror attacks in Mumbai that left nearly 200 people dead.
The first Test, which is due to start Thursday, was shifted from Ahmedabad to Chennai and the second from Mumbai to Mohali (starting December 19) because of the attacks. — PTI
New Delhi, December 6
The much-anticipated report will determine whether the England team, which is currently training in Abu Dhabi, will proceed to India to resume cricketing activities after the one-day series was scrapped in the wake of the Mumbai carnage.
The England and Wales Cricket Board's security adviser Reg Dickason has already inspected the stadium and hotel in Chennai, the venue of the first Test scheduled from December 11, and had detailed discussions on the security arrangements with BCCI and police officials.
ECB's managing director Hugh Morris and England Professional Cricketers Association (EPCA) Chief Executive Sean Morris have also reached Chennai to inspect the arrangements before taking a final decision on the tour.
During the day, the ECB delegation had more discussions with BCCI and police officials who have promised to put a fool-proof security set-up in place for the team and support staff.
The trio would also inspect Mohali which hosts the second Test starting December 19.
After concluding their recce, the trio would then report back to the team management which will in turn inform the players about all the security arrangements that have been put in place. — PTI
Chennai: Armed with a written undertaking from Tamil Nadu Police to provide foolproof security during the first cricket Test here, ECB Managing Director Hugh Morris will hold discussions with the English cricketers in Abu Dhabi before giving green signal to the two-match Test series against India.
Morris arrived here this morning from Abu Dhabi and held two meetings with city police Commissioner K Radhakrishnan and other top officials. He discussed with the police officials the security arrangements made at the stadium and for the players and also the latest threat at the airports in India.
"As per the detailed discussion in the morning, we have handed over a statement of account detailing the arrangements at each of the places, including the venue, where the England players and their officials are expected to make their presence. This is in pursuance of the discussions held by the Commissioner with Reg Dickason, Security Chief of ECB," police sources said.
"Morris said he would hold discussions with the team management stationed in Abu Dhabi before giving his final say to us," the sources added.
Meanwhile, speculations that ECB had requested the Indian Cricket Board to shift the second Test from Mohali to Bangalore turned out to be incorrect with top BCCI officials denying this.
The Chennai police is installing extra equipment to provide a tight security cover to the visiting team.
"Dickason expressed satisfaction. Central access control system will be installed at vantage points and the players' viewing area and also at the team hotel," police sources said.
"The players, upon their arrival here, will be advised to restrict their movements outside the hotel area. The Tamil Nadu Police will also provide extra security at the stadium, which will be more than the usual security arrangement and the players protection by the security staff will be watertight," the police sources said.
Dickason, who had a round of meeting with the Police Commissioner and held discussions with BCCI Secretary N Srinivasan, besides inspecting the dressing rooms and few stands at the stadium on Thursday, looked satisfied and said, "We had some security concerns and those have been addressed." — PTI
Dubai, December 6
England arrived in Abu Dhabi yesterday and had a routine practise session at the capital's Sheikh Zayed stadium.
''No one's had their arm twisted behind their back to come here,'' Collingwood said after his team's practise.
The one-day series between India and England was cut short last week following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, with the visiting side flying back home last Saturday.
There were reports suggesting that some of the senior members of the team, including former skipper Andrew Flintoff and fast bowlers Steve Harmison and James Anderson, were unhappy about coming back to India.
''It is not an ideal situation, but the facilities in Abu Dhabi are excellent and, all being well, all of us should be on the plane to India on Monday morning.
''Being in the UAE is ideal for us and helps us acclimatise and this is the perfect way for us to do it,'' Collingwood, who did not have a great ODI series in India, added.
Collingwood confirmed that the players had done some soul searching when back at home with their families.
''Obviously, everyone was in the same boat and we were in constant contact with each other and thinking about the situation. Every single person had concerns. But what we've got to do is get mentally attuned as players to the fact we are playing a Test match on Thursday,'' he conceded.
England team's managing director Hugh Morris, after accompanying the team to their Abu Dhabi base, travelled straight to Chennai, where the first Test is to be held to finish the security assessments and would return over the weekend to reveal his findings to the players.
Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) chief executive Sean Morris has also been dispatched to the southern Indian city to view the provisions put in place pending a possible resumption of the pre-Christmas tour.
Security advisor Reg Dickason has spent the last few days back in India, having returned with the England and Wales Cricket Board's requests for player safety, and has inspected the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai.
England players, including the nine-member performance squad, began their net session yesterday afternoon, just nine after their arrival.
Collinwood further revealed that the players visuals of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai were horrible but said he was hopeful that once the first Test gets underway, the attention would once again shift back to the game.
''Watching the events unfold on the television while we over there was horrific. I've stayed at the Taj Hotel and could relate to what I was seeing.
''I am sure once the Test match starts on Thursday, everything will be put to bed. We have to get focused on the job in hand,'' he said.
England was scheduled to play a warm-up game in India ahead of the Test, but will have to make do with two net sessions and a warm-up game on Sunday involving most of the squad augmented by some local players.
''It's not an ideal situation but we have to make the most of it,'' said Collingwood adding, ''We've all got concerns for obvious reasons, but we've got to trust those in charge of the decisions to make them.'' — UNI
Melbourne, December 6
''Conversations with Indian Cricket League players confirm that the bookmakers are running amok in the rebel league, and it'd be the height of folly to assume that the Indian Premier League (IPL) has remained intact,'' Roebuck wrote in The Age today.
''Conversations with IPL players suggest that the official brand is equally vulnerable to outside forces. No stone must be left unturned to rid the game of malefactors,'' he said.
Roebuck said the ICL authorities have done their job in fighting match fixing which is very prominent in the game especially Twenty20 cricket.
''Before the competition began, (ICL) officials asked the ICC to provide corruption officers to supervise the contests but the game's governing body pointed out that it had no jurisdiction over a breakaway domestic tournament and advised ICL to make its own arrangements.
''To that end, officers were appointed. Officials were amazed to learn cricketers could be offered $ 40,000 merely to score five runs or fewer in the 10th over of an innings...
''At least, the ICL confronted the challenge. It could easily have let things roll along,'' he wrote.
Roebuck, who has also played for English county Somerset, however, did not seem pleased with the IPL and BCCI's steps to combat corruption in the game.
''The IPL includes numerous players of untarnished reputation entitled to be treated with respect and protected from the unsavoury.
''To that end, the BCCI and the IPL need to step up their anti-corruption activities. They could start by talking to ICL officials, and obtaining from them the names and numbers of the identified 'businessmen','' he said.
He further added that some of the strange events that happen in Twenty20 cricket are enough to prove the spirit in which it is being played.
''These players talk about strange events in matches, and one thinks he played in a match both sides were trying to lose. Others speak about batsmen suddenly playing out a maiden or padding up to a spinner, an odd technique to use in a 20-over contest,'' he said.
''They talk about long faces among a few teammates after a match had been won thanks to an innocent youthful rally. And they confirm it is possible to be unaware that colleagues, even captains, are following a preordained plan,'' he said. — UNI
Lahore, December 6
Asif was tested positive for a banned substance during his stint in Indian Premier League (IPL) earlier this year and was due to appear before the three-member tribunal on November 29 but two days before the hearing, attacks on Mumbai led to its postponement.
Sources close to the paceman told cricketnirvana.com that Asif's lawyer Shahid Karim is due to write to the IPL to conduct the hearing either in London or in Dubai so that the case is settled sooner than later.
The IPL's new lawyer, who hails from London, will also have security concerns over travelling to India and would also press for a neutral venue hearing.
Asif's lawyer successfully challenged the appointment of Charles Russells for the hearing, as Russell had also advised Asif on various issues of the case before joining the IPL.
In an interview yesterday, Asif sounded disgusted with the procedure of the IPL's drugs inquiry tribunal which he believed had dragged on needlessly and was not allowing him to return back to the game.
''First of all I don't understand why the test results were disclosed so late. And now I feel for some reason the IPL drug inquiry tribunal hearings are dragging on too long. I want this issue to be over.
''Whatever they decide, it must be decided soon as I am wasting my playing years,'' he said. — UNI
India tour: PCB remains optimistic
Lahore, December 6 The PCB is making all possible arrangements for a successful hosting of the much-awaited series and is involved to getting solid assurances from the authorities over security arrangements for the India team. ''Our standard operating procedure is in place for the series,'' PCB chief operating officer said Saleem Altaf. ''As far as we are concerned the series will be on until it is called off and till then we will continue taking steps to ensure that everything is in place for the series (against India),'' Altaf was quoted as saying by The News today. Altaf, a former Test pacer, however, admitted that the uncertainty prevails over the fate of the tour that is due to begin from January 4 and the board is treating the arrangements for the series as a routine exercise. The Indian government is yet to clear its cricket team's visit to Pakistan and there have been reports that it will block the tour in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai that left almost 200 people dead. India has pointed the finger of suspicion at Pakistan, an accusation that has put a serious strain on the relations between the two countries. The cash-strapped PCB is desperate for the home series against India because it will replenish its dwindling bank accounts if it does take place. The Board, which is still recovering from the back-breaking financial setbacks following the postponement of the home series against Australia and September's ICC Champions Trophy is not even willing to calculate its losses in case the January-February series is cancelled by India.
Lahore, December 6
The PCB is making all possible arrangements for a successful hosting of the much-awaited series and is involved to getting solid assurances from the authorities over security arrangements for the India team.
''Our standard operating procedure is in place for the series,'' PCB chief operating officer said Saleem Altaf.
''As far as we are concerned the series will be on until it is called off and till then we will continue taking steps to ensure that everything is in place for the series (against India),'' Altaf was quoted as saying by The News today.
Altaf, a former Test pacer, however, admitted that the uncertainty prevails over the fate of the tour that is due to begin from January 4 and the board is treating the arrangements for the series as a routine exercise.
The Indian government is yet to clear its cricket team's visit to Pakistan and there have been reports that it will block the tour in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai that left almost 200 people dead.
India has pointed the finger of suspicion at Pakistan, an accusation that has put a serious strain on the relations between the two countries.
The cash-strapped PCB is desperate for the home series against India because it will replenish its dwindling bank accounts if it does take place.
The Board, which is still recovering from the back-breaking financial setbacks following the postponement of the home series against Australia and September's ICC Champions Trophy is not even willing to calculate its losses in case the January-February series is cancelled by India. — UNI
Kolkata, December 6
Addressing newspersons here, Maradona when asked to respond to the debate over who's the all time greatest footballer, chose to reply in a rather jocular manner.
In fact, not so long ago, former German captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge during his visit to city had also said that Maradona was better than the Brazilian legend Pele.
Asked what he thinks about the comparison, the 48-year-old said, "It's his (Rummenigge's) personal view. But my mother considered me to be the greatest footballer in the world and I think if my mother considers it then surely I am the greatest footballer in the world."
The 1986 World Cup triumph beating West Germany in the final when he was the captain of Argentina was the best moment of his life, Maradona said, and, in a rather jocular way, added that his 'Hand of God' goal was the best ever he ever scored.
"Hand of God is the greatest goal," he quipped. "That is definitely the best goal in my life. The win (in 1986) was the best in my life. I did well in the in 1990s, but that (1986 World Cup win) was the best ever achievement in my life." He said he was here to serve the sport so in that way if people call him God of football then he can be so.
"God is only one in this world. They considered me as the God. But God is in this world to help others. I am here to help football. I am not God. But, maybe I am the God of football," said the Argentine legend.
Maradona, however, regretted for not having spent more time with his two daughters Dalma Nerea and Giannina Dinorah.
"I have a lot to lament in my life. I could not spend much time with my two daughters. I had a very bad time in my life for which I could not dedicate much time to them. That is one thing I will always regret. But I think there are times I can recover for which I could not do much."
He said to become happy one has to lead a good personal life and the greatest happiness is the company of one's children. — PTI
Kolkata, December 6
Thousands of soccer-crazy fans thronged Maheshtala, in the southern fringes of the city, to watch the Argentinian legend lay the foundation stone of the Indian Football School. The 48-year-old newly appointed coach of Argentina was accompanied by his girlfiend Veronica.
Clad in denims, Maradona seemed in high spirits, as he clapped, threw flying kisses and waved at the crowd, who waited anxiously for 40 minutes as the soccer great was late in leaving the hotel for the venue.
He was flown in from the hotel in a chopper to a helipad a few kilometeres from the venue at Batanagar and then was carried in a specially designed bus, with large fibre-glass windows, to enable people to gave a glimpse of their "god" and for Maradona to see this packed and pulsating city which he is visiting for the first time.
Maradona spent 30 minutes at the complex, which houses the academy. The complex is also named after Maradona.
One hundred children displayed ball juggling skills and sang songs to welcome the football genius, who passionately reached out to his fans by coming down the dais and shaking hands with some of them.
"If football is religion, then you are its God," the band sang in praise of him.
Seeming to enjoy every minute of the festive spirit, Maradona unveiled the foundation stone with a press of a button and then touched it, much to the joy of the large number of lensmen.
"Best wishes. India is far off from my country. But I had no idea I have so many fans here," Maradona said in a brief speech towards the end of the programme.
"I had no idea that such beautiful football is played here, people love football so much. Long live India," said Maradona, as the crowd lapped up every word of the man who led his nation to World Cup glory in 1986. — IANS