Shastri new boss, Fletcher cut to size
terse message: The appointment of Shastri as Team Director, who was given somewhat similar role after India’s disastrous 2007 World Cup outing, makes it clear that Fletcher has lost the BCCI’s confidence and his days with the team are numbered. file photos
Bhamara may soon make the NBA cut
No need to remove MS: BCCI
Punjab 4th in Fed Cup
Rahul Kumar Pal of Maharashtra prays after winning the men’s 10,000m
race in the Federation Cup in Patiala on Tuesday. Tribune photo
No changes to Arjuna list
Three HP boys shining in Pro Kabaddi League
Suarez was ‘depressed’ after biting incident
Luis Suarez played his first match — a friendly — for Barcelona against Mexican side Leon at the Camp Nou in Barcelona on Monday. AFP
Debutant Costa scores in Chelsea win
End ban on Sikh basketball players with turbans
Shastri new boss, Fletcher cut to size
London, August 19
This is an interesting development — Shastri has no coaching experience and led the team in only one Test match, 26 years ago; it could be argued that he's the BCCI's unsecret agent who will keep a close watch on the phlegmatic Fletcher. Shastri, a complete establishment man — though under the garb of an independent commentator and columnist —may or may not be able to change India's approach towards preparation and execution of plans. Calling the Indian players “glam boys”, which he did in his new column, may not be a great start — he himself, it could be argued, was something of a “glam boy” himself in his time.
Fletcher, though, is no glam boy - never was. He never had the skills as a player himself to be that. As coach, his method is to plan, plan, plan - he then prefers to step away and let the players perform.
His best work was with England, as their coach from 1999 — he did a brilliant job, because he was able to bring about some massive changes in the system. The central contract system was introduced under his guidance in 2000. This change put country above counties; this enabled him to monitor England's premier players directly, and to protect them from excessive cricket.
However, there is no way Fletcher can ensure that the Indian cricket board (BCCI) puts country above club cricket of the IPL.
Fletcher knows the top Indian players play too much irrelevant cricket — he would wish to do something about that, but he cannot. He would desperately wish that MS Dhoni or Virat Kohli played fewer matches in the IPL, but he can't do anything because the IPL is the BCCI's baby — the players must play it, despite the heat and travel in the Indian summer.
“There are irrelevant Twenty20 and ODI matches India play,” says Lawrence Booth, editor of Wisden Almanack. Booth thinks Fletcher would wish to reduce those numbers — as he did with elite English players — but may not have the power to do it.
Fletcher is known as a brilliant one-to-one coach, but some of the things that have gone on this tour have baffled former players. For instance, why are the batsmen changing their stances so much? Why are the slips fielding so deep? Why no third man when the team is leaking runs in that region? Why wasn't Ravichandran Ashwin played in the first three Tests?
Kohli began the series with slightly open stance, which would enable him to whip the ball through the legside; he ended the series with a closed stance, both toes completely aligned, which theoretically would help him to play with a straighter bat, but would also make it a bit more difficult to strike the ball on the legside.
“Fletcher is massive on alignment,” Nasser Hussain said. “Kohli is trying to be more side-on now, Fletcher has been working with him.”
Sunil Gavaskar is upset that Cheteshwar Pujara has changed his stance.
“I'm not privy to what happens in the dressing room, but when you see the changes, different techniques in matters of stance and initial movement, you have to say that there has been some sort of input there,” Gavaskar said.
“Pujara used to place his bat behind his right foot in his stance,” added Gavaskar. “Now the bat is between the feet. I think it's easier to pick up the bat when it's behind the feet… I think in your normal stance, bat behind backfoot, your head and body are still.” “Then there's this forward push, your initial trigger movement,” he said. “I've not really seen any benefits of that as far as India are concerned.”
Dhoni said the other day that Fletcher has been very useful; but he added that it's difficult to completely implement the plans because of the scarcity of time.
“If you have one month in between (with no cricket), you can go into the technical aspect, work on your technique,” he said. But there's no break from the cricket, or not long enough.
“Changes can't be done or implemented in seven day or 10 days. You can't do any major changes,” the captain added. “You may feel comfortable doing it (working with new methods) in the nets,” he said. “But once you go into the middle, there is pressure on you. You miss a few deliveries, and then you go back to your basics. That's your instinct.”
Gavaskar also thought the technique of the slip-catchers was bad. “Nobody is bending in the slips,” he said. “So it's virtually impossible to take catches. I don't know whether these techniques are being taught now, but they haven't really worked.”
David Lloyd, the former England player, has an interesting anecdote to relate. “During his stint with South Africa, he'd be working all the time on the laptop,” Lloyd said. Once Fletcher looked very serious as he worked, and thus the camera panned on the laptop. “He was just sending his emails,” laughed Lloyd. “He would advise one in the break between sessions,” said former England captain Andrew Strauss.
Gavaskar said that after the win in the Lord's Test, there has been slow deterioration in the concentration and attitude of the Indian team. “There are these optional practice sessions in which no one turns up,” he said. He also thinks that emphasis on skills is less than needed, and he has a strong dislike of Indian cricketers playing football to warm up.
He also said that a touring team must play as much as possible, else you become rusty — Ashwin mentioned that after missing the first three Tests, he had to work hard on finding his rhythm.
With Shastri's appointment — and forced leave for fielding coach Trevor Penney and bowling coach Joe Dawes — things become interesting for a couple of reasons. One, how would Fletcher react? Two, one must be careful and not laud Shastri and the team too much if India win or do very well. As Gavaskar noted, India has a good ODI team, and ODI cricket is separate animal entirely. The humiliation of the Test defeat must not be forgotten — the team must be helped to ensure that those horrible days of the 1990s, when India won just one Test abroad, do not return.
Bhamara may soon make the NBA cut
Chandigarh, August 19
In fact, before reaching 17, Satnam Singh Bhamara had represented the country thrice. In the FIBA Asia under-16 championship, he scored 34 points against South Korea, which was a record. Born and brought up in the remote Ballo village, near Rampura Phul of the Malwa region, Bhamara is now honing his skills at the renowned IMG sports academy in Florida, USA.
He trains under the watchful eyes of Kenny Natt, the Director of Basketball at the IMG academy. Natt, who coached in the NBA for 15 years, became associated with the development of basketball in India in 2011-12.
Satnam, who will turn 20 in December, is 7 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 140kg. Bhamara, known as Satta among his friends, was in Ludhiana recently where he attended a training session at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy — where he started playing basketball — and gave a few tips to the current trainees.
“The next 10 months are very crucial for me. I am being closely watched by top colleges and NBA coaches,” said Bhamara. “My coaches have told me to reduce my weight by 15kg. That will improve my agility and speed. They tell me that my current weight will have an adverse effect on my knees in the long run,” said Bhamara.
He said that the NBA coaches were in regular touch with his coach, enquiring about how I was progressing as a player. Bhamara started playing basketball at Ludhiana Basketball Academy in 2005 when he was 10-year-old.
“I know that the players back home have high hopes from me because if I play in the NBA, it will open the door for other talented players,” he added. “I am fully focused on my game and do little else.” He begins his training at 7am. “The first hour is spent in the gym and the next four hours on the court. Almost daily, basketball players who play in the NBA come to practice with us.” In the afternoon, he attends school.
Basketball Federation of India secretary Teja Singh Dhaliwal said that Bhamara's best quality was that he was a humble and adapts to all types of situations.
Dhaliwal added that there were many more talented basketball players in the state. “The Punjab government should pay due attention to them,” he added.
Mumbai, August 19
The India captain enjoys the blessings of International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman N. Sriniavasan, who has been removed as the BCCI president by the Supreme Court.
“There is no need to remove Dhoni as the captain,” said BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel. The BCCI, however, has acted tough by clipping the wings of chief coach Duncan Fletcher and the rest of the foreign support staff.
Meanwhile, Sunil Gavaskar also threw his weight behind beleaguered captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. “He has led from the front. He has batted at difficult positions. He has set an example. If his example has not been followed by the rest of the team, I don't think you can blame the captain. I don't think there is any alternative to Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the foreseeable future and I would back him to carry on,” said Gavaskar.
Gavaskar agrees with the BCCI's decision to remove bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding consultant Trevor Penney for the one-day series and replacing them with former Indian all-rounder Sanjay Bangar and ex-India pacer Bharat Arun as assistant coaches. Both Dawes and Penney were hand-picked by chief coach Duncan Fletcher.
“I think the fact that they have appointed coaches, assistant coaches, who have a very real interest in Indian cricket as against a commercial interest of maybe somebody else, they will have an impact. Mind you they will not have an immediate bearing. This is not instant coffee. So you just have to be a little more patient,” said Gavaskar.
Gavaskar feels having Indian coaches as support staff will also improve the communication process. “There are a lot of our players who might not be able to understand the foreign language. So having Indian assistant coaches will make a huge difference.”
Punjab 4th in Fed Cup
Patiala, August 19
Though the women athletes from the state were tied with ONGC (55 points) for the second spot, they were declared third and finished closely behind Kerela (57) and ONGC.
The performance of the male athletes was slightly below expectation as they finished fifth, scoring only 33 points behind Tamil Nadu (82), ONGC (65), Kerala (64) and Haryana (41). It was the men’s poor show that led to a dip in the overall points and dragged Punjab down to the fourth spot.
Tamil Nadu took the overall trophy with 125 points, while Kerala was second with 121 points and ONGC finsihed third with 120 points.
Arpinder wins gold
Glasgow Games bronze medallist Arpinder Singh of ONGC overcame initial hiccups to win the triple jump with an effort of 16.70m. Renjith Maheswary (16.43m) and AV Rakesh Babu (16.15m) settled for second and third positions respectively.
Arpinder, who holds the national record of 17.17m, is also the Asian leader this season. The AFI qualifying standard for the event for Asian Games is 16.56m.
Delhi CWG gold medallist Krishna Poonia asserted her position right from the first round to win the women’s discus throw with a throw of 56.84m. IAAF World Junior Championships bronze medallist Navjeet Kaur Dhillon hurled the disc to 53.26, winning the silver medal.
Poonia's effort was below the 57.55m qualifying mark. Glasgow CWG silver medallist Seema Punia skipped the meet.
Uttar Pradesh’s Chandrodaya Singh bettered his own meet record of 67.78m in the men's hammer throw with an effort of 67.84m. Kamalpreet Singh (66.78m) of ONGC took silver, while Neeraj Kumar (66.71m) of the Indian Navy won bronze.
Thingalaya, Poovamma adjudged best athletes
Siddhanth Thingalaya equalled his own national record in the 110m hurdles, qualifying for the Asian Games.
Thingalaya clocked 13.65s, which also bettered his own meet mark of 13.69s. Prem Kumar of Telangana was a distant second in 13.96, while Surendhar of Tamil Nadu finished third in 14.24secs.
Thingalaya and MR Poovamma were declared the best athletes.
In the women’s 400m race, favourite Poovamma strolled to an easy win in 52.42s and confirmed her berth in the Asian Games squad by bettering the qualifying mark of 52.99s. Priyanka Panwar of Uttar Pradesh was second in 53.40s while Debashree Majumdar of West Bengal was third in 53.79s.
In the men’s 400m race, Kunhu Muhammad pipped favourite Rajiv Arokia to win in 46.40s. Arokia was second in 46.41 with Jibin Sebastian finishing third in 47.28.
In the morning session, 2010 Asian Games gold medallist Preeja Sreedharan of Kerala won the women's 10000m race in 34:27.94. Swati Gadhave of Maharashtra was second in 36:28.46 while Monika Athare (Maharashtra) was third in 36:44.15.
In the men's 10000m race, Rahul Kumar of Maharashtra bagged the gold in 30:04.77. Tamil Nadu’s Laxman (30:05.20) and Kheta Ram (30:08.98) of Rajasthan were second and third respectively.
New meet records
Kheta Ram (Rajasthan) in 5000m
Kundan Singh (Air Force) in pole vault
Manju Bala (Rajasthan) in women’s hammer throw
Inderjeet Singh (Haryana) in shot put
Rajender Singh (Haryana) in javelin throw
Sajeesh Joseph (Kerela) in men’s 800m
Surekha (Tamil Nadu) in women’s pole vault
Nikhil Chittrasu in men’s high jump
Annu Rani (UP) in women javelin throw
Lalita Babbar (Maharashtra) in 3000m steeplechase
Chandrodaya Singh (UP) in hammer throw
Siddanth Thinglaya (ONGC) in 110m hurdles
Indian Navy (Vishnu Sabu, Lijo Mani, Arun KJ and Jithu) in men’s 4X400m relay
ONGC (Juana Murmu, Anju Rani, Mandeep Kaur and MR Poovamma) in women’s 4X400m relay
New Delhi, August 19
Jiji Thomson, Sports Authority of India (SAI) director general, who was part of the committee, said they discussed seven athletes in the review meeting but it was unanimously agreed that no changes were needed in the earlier shortlist. The sports ministry is unlikely to turn down the panel’s recommendations before approving the names for the ceremony to be held later in the month.
“The committee decided against adding any name for the Awards. It was an hour-long meeting and we all agreed that the 15 names shortlisted earlier deserved the honour. Having said that, there will always be a case when a deserving candidate misses out and his or her turn comes later,” Thomson said.
Choosing Bhagwan and ignoring the 2010 CWG gold medallist boxer Manoj Kumar had led to a controversy and forced the committee to reconsider its decision. The 20-year-old squash player Alankamony’s inclusion in the list had also raised eyebrows while Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra went to the extent of slamming the panel for overlooking seven of its players.
Thomson said Kumar’s application was not considered earlier owing to a case of mistaken identity and today the committee discussed him. However, the committee thought Bhagwan was also a deserving candidate and therefore stuck to its stance, the SAI DG added.
Kumar, with 32 points, had maximum points amongst the boxers who applied for the honour and two more than Delhi CWG bronze medallist Bhagwan.
“The committee thought Manoj was also a deserving candidate but decided to select one athlete per discipline. In fact, we have recommended to the ministry to award only one athlete per discipline in the future,” said Thomson. — PTI
Three HP boys shining in Pro Kabaddi League
Chandigarh, August 19
Twenty-eight-year-old Ajay Thakur, considered as one of the best raiders in India was merrily bagged by Bengaluru Bulls for Rs. 12.2 lakh. Thakur belongs to Dabhota village in Nalagarh. It’s not that he is the find of the season. Not many, not even his home state of HP, know that he was the member of India’s gold medal winning team in Asian Indoor Games, 2013.
His fair looks and chiselled features have made him the lead in the league’s promotional campaign on the TV channel. Ajay says this has been the biggest perk of his job. “Thankfully, things have started to change. You know kids come to me for autographs after the game. Can you imagine? All this goads you to do well. Kabaddi is now becoming a happening sport in India,” he says with disbelief. Thakur was also one of the leading scorers in the league till recently.
His teammate Thakur Villam Singh may not have raked in as much moolah as his senior pro has but the wiry defender from Sirmaur was the youngest player in Pro Kabaddi League auction. The 19 year old student of (BA-I) Government College, Bilaspur was bought for Rs. 1.1 lakh. Villam’s coach Nand Lal says, “It’s a trend in the state if a kid is athletic and has poor financial conditions, he tries to get into a sports hostel where they get free lodging and there are good chances of getting a job under the sports quota. These three boys too came with the same ambition.”
Twenty-six year-old Rohit Rana, of Kangra, made it to the Pink Panthers Jaipur as defender after a bid of Rs. 8.4 lakh. Rohit and Ajay are the products of Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel in Bilaspur. Vilam too is enrolled in Bilaspur but in State Sports Hostel. Though Himachal Pradesh is not known as a sports-friendly state but kabaddi is an exception here. Off and on HP produces good national-level kabaddi players.
Pro Kabaddi League
The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is a professional kabaddi league in India. The first edition of the tournament started on 26 July 2014 with eight franchises consisting of players from around the world. The 8 teams will play 60 league matches in all 8 venues. The top four teams will play in the semifinals on August 29th. The final is in Mumbai on August 31.
Barcelona, August 19
Suarez can now train with new club Barcelona and play friendlies, following an appeal hearing last week, before making his competitive return at the end of October. “I prefer not to look backwards,” the former Liverpool forward said as he was presented to the media at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.
“I didn’t want to do anything and I was very depressed,” added Suarez referring to his state of mind following the biting incident involving Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup in Brazil. “I decided that all I could do was accept reality and say sorry. I have apologised to people in Uruguay for what happened and I am now looking ahead.”
The Uruguayan featured for the first time for Barca when he came on for the last 15 minutes of Monday’s 6-0 friendly victory over Mexican side Leon.
Suarez is set to play his first La Liga game in the ‘Clasico’ against Real Madrid the weekend of Oct. 25-26.
During Tuesday’s presentation, vice-president Jordi Mestre disclosed that the transfer fee Barca had agreed with Liverpool was £65 million. “I hope the time goes quickly as I want to play again,” said Suarez. “It is going to be difficult as I will have to wait some months but I have accepted this.
“My job is to train and be ready to return by the end of October. All I can do is prepare and be ready for the game against Real. It would be great to play but it is down to the coach,” added Suarez. — Reuters
BURNLEY, August 19
Former Arsenal midfielder Fabregas, brought in from Barcelona during the close season, was influential throughout the game, having a hand in all three Chelsea goals and striking up an impressive midfield pairing with Eden Hazard.
Chelsea recovered from conceding a 14th minute goal, quickly turning on the style in an impressive half hour spell to go in 3-1 up at the break.
Jose Mourinho’s side were content to see out the game in the second half as Burnley, tipped by many for relegation, put in a creditable professional display after the Londoners had threatened to run away with the game.
“We kept playing according to the way we want to play, the players were calm and never lost their composure and after that we had a fantastic 20-25 minutes with three goals, the second one a fantastic goal, and in the second half we had control of the game,” Mourinho said.
In a fiery atmosphere, the home side took a surprise lead in the with a superb drive from Scott Arfield after a fine run and pull back from Matt Taylor.
But any hopes the capacity home crowd at Turf Moor had of witnessing an upset were quickly dashed as Chelsea showed why so many bookmakers have them as favourites to win the title this season.
Three minutes after Arfield’s strike, Brazilian-born Spain international Costa, a close season signing from Atletico Madrid, brought the Londoners level on his Premier League debut — firing in after a Branislav Ivanovic cross-shot, following a Fabregas back-heel, had come out off the post.
Four minutes later, Chelsea had the lead - Fabregas providing a beautiful first time pass to German World Cup winner Andre Schurrle who confidently drove home. — Reuters
Washington, August 19
Expressing concern about "recent reports indicating that Sikhs are not able to participate in FIBA games while wearing a turban, which is essential to their faith", the lawmakers sought a "change in this discriminatory policy". "There is no evidence showing that a turban has been dangerous during basketball games or other popular sports events," they wrote.
"In fact, there are many examples of Sikhs who have safely competed in basketball at many levels with their articles of faith intact." Other sports leagues, such as Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), also allow athletes wearing turbans to participate, the lawmakers noted.
In July, two Sikh players were told by referees that they must remove their turbans if they were to play in FIBA's Asia Cup as they were in violation of a FIBA rule stating "Players shall not wear equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players". FIBA's governing board is expected to address the issue of players wearing turbans and other headgear during a meeting at the end of August.
"Basketball is a beloved team sport that has the ability to bring people of all backgrounds together, regardless of history, culture, language, and religion," the US lawmakers wrote. "In addition to becoming one of the most popular sports in many countries, basketball has come to exemplify how those of diverse backgrounds can communicate, coordinate, and work together in pursuit of a shared goal," they wrote.
"We believe that makes the basketball court the perfect venue to showcase the diversity of our world and the ways in which sports bring people together," the lawmakers added. — IANS
Indians need exposure to world outside IPL : Vaughan
"Young Indian players need exposing to a wider world outside the pampering and riches of the Indian Premier League. They need to learn how to bat and bowl in our conditions," said the former captain. "All the greats of the past 30 years had spells in county cricket. It would do their development a great deal of good to come here," he added.
Vaughan yesterday took criticism to another level after he posted a ‘white flag’ on his twitter handle, terming it as the new Indian cricket flag following India’s abject surrender at the Oval.
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