Four days before the third Test against India, the Indian Cricket League (ICL) confirmed that some of its New Zealand recruits would forego their contracts making them eligible for a return to mainstream cricket. Some Pakistani players too are giving up the rebel league for the same reason.
Due to the time difference between India and New Zealand, no one from New Zealand Cricket could be contacted but ICL sources hinted at the possibility of some Kiwi players being fast-tracked into returning to the national team. Among New Zealand’s ICL players are Shane Bond and Daryl Tuffey.
“We are proud to give these players an opportunity to play for the their countries,” said Kapil Dev, ICL director. “Unlike some other boards, we are against the idea of denying players the chance to represent their country,” he said, in obvious reference to the BCCI, which is vehemently against the ‘rebel’ league.
Without talking about the possibility of Bond or Tuffey playing for New Zealand immediately, ICL official Roland Landers confirmed that some players have forgone their contracts.
“If players want to take this route to play for their countries, we will not restrict them. We have never restricted them from playing anywhere anyway.”
Landers said that barring “some players” from New Zealand and Pakistan, players from no other country have opted out of their ICL contracts and that the next edition of the T20 meet will be held in October. The one slated for March was cancelled due to the economic meltdown.
On Monday, a PTI report from Karachi quoted Abdul Razzaq as saying that the ICL has terminated contracts of all Pakistani players and would issue ‘no objection certificates’ (NoC) this week to enable them to play elsewhere, including the national team.
Merely ending his contract with the rebel Indian Cricket League will not be enough for Mohd Yousuf to return to the Pakistan team as the PCB has made it clear that the senior batsman will have to give certain “guarantees” before becoming eligible for national selection.
The conditions include that Yousuf terminate his ICL contract, give in writing he will not align with any other body without the permission of the board and will not demand any compensation in return for ending his ties with the ICL.
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ejaz Butt discussed these conditions with Yousuf in a meeting at the Gaddafi stadium on Friday after the batsman said he was willing to end his contract with the ICL if considered for national selection.
Butt made it clear that while he was also keen to see the senior player back in the team but certain issues had to be sorted out.
“It is not a simple matter and we are looking into it. But I have told Yousuf that he has to meet certain conditions and give guarantees first to be considered for national selection,” he said.
Yousuf has been banned since last year from playing for Pakistan after he joined the ICL, which is not recognised by the International Cricket Council or its member boards.
The Sindh High Court last month allowed Yousuf and other ICL players to play domestic cricket but the ban on them representing the country remains in place.
The ICL had filed a case against Yousuf after he walked out of a contract with them in 2007 before finally joining them again last year claiming he was frustrated at being mistreated by former captain Shoaib Malik and the PCB.
After meeting Butt, Yousuf told reporters that he wants the PCB to include his name in the list of probables for the forthcoming one-day series against Australia and also for the Twenty20 World Cup in England.
“I have discussed my future with other senior players and then decided to be available for Pakistan again. I am keen to play for my country and now the rest is up to the board,” he said.
However, Butt made it clear that Yousuf will have to pass a fitness test like all other players and be cleared by the selectors to play for Pakistan once again.
Yousuf, who has played 79 Tests and 269 one-dayers, is considered one of Pakistan’s top players and is said to have been convinced to leave the ICL by captain Younis Khan.
Indications are that the PCB will first get approval from the ICC before allowing Yousuf back into the team. The move could pave the way for other ICL-aligned cricketers to play for the national team once again.
Melbourne: The Australian Cricketers Association has found out from a survey of player attitudes towards Twenty20 cricket that if quality spinners have to be preserved then they should not be thrown into the shortest and the trendiest form of the game, the Australian media reports.
A report in The Age says while the super-abbreviated format has gained credibility even among traditionalists, there is a strong view among Australian players that it threatens to destroy budding spin bowlers.
Harbhajan might have to sit out: Dhoni
Among players contracted to Cricket Australia, 64 per cent said Twenty20 diminishes spin bowling skills. “Anecdotally players believe T20 encourages negative bowling and as such is counter-productive to the development of spinners,” the study found.
That argument was wholeheartedly endorsed last night by spin bowling mentor Terry Jenner, the day after chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said he was disappointed in the development of young South Australian pair Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey, who are contracted to Cricket Australia but have been unable to nail their spots with the state side let alone press for national selection.
Jenner refused to discuss Hilditch’s remarks, but the man who coached Shane Warne throughout his exceptional career has consistently argued that young spinners take time to mature to the point where they can defend themselves in the first-class arena, and that limited-overs cricket is their enemy.
“There is no place for a developing spin bowler in Twenty20 cricket,” Jenner said. “In my view, you might as well bowl Michael Clarke and all those (part-time) guys in those forms of the game because the outcomes are pretty much the same.’’
“I watched (Indian off-spinner) Harbhajan Singh in the Twenty20 final and I reckon he bowled 90km/h plus from wide of the crease. He was effective, but picture a developing spinner trying to do that and he would be lessening his capacity to improve.”
Jenner believes Twenty20 in England, where it was first played at domestic level, has inhibited the development of spin bowlers in that country. “If we are looking for Test cricketers we are not going to find them in Twenty20 and, dare I say this, we’re not going to find them in 50-over cricket either,” he said.
“Someone who spins the ball should not be encouraged to take away his spin to try and bowl four overs and go for less than 50. They may as well roll out a bowling machine.”
In general, state and national players believe Twenty20 enhances skill development, with spin bowling the exception. Interestingly, state-contracted players were less inclined to think that Twenty20 was damaging for young tweakers.
Australia’s premier one-day spinner, Brad Hogg, has not played a Twenty20 international since last summer, while other teams have persevered with spinners.
New Zealand skipper and left-arm finger spinner Daniel Vettori, for instance, thinks there is a place for spin bowling in the shortest form of the game. In fact, he believes they will flourish. “If you look at the (Twenty20) World Cup, spinners were some of the most successful bowlers. And every time I have watched a game or played in a game spinners held quite a bit of control not only over wicket-taking but over run-rate,” Vettori said.
“I think they are going to be a more and more important part of it. We’re playing two, we even played two at the WACA (Ground). We realise how important it (spin) is and I think other teams are seeing it around the world as well.”
Sydney : Michael Clarke, who will lead Australia in a Twenty20 match against New Zealand, believes that the one-day champions would dominate the shortest form of the game as well.
“When you look at (Australian) one-day team every player could play Twenty20 cricket. They all have natural ability, they have an instinct and all enjoy the fast format of the game,” The Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday quoted Clarke as saying.
“It is up to the selectors to work out who they believe is best suited but I believe everyone in the one-day team could play his role.”
Clarke, who is being groomed by Cricket Australia (CA) as the future captain, also said that he doesn’t want to look ahead, and just wants to enjoy the opportunities and challenge.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead. Ricky (Ponting) is our leader and a fantastic one. I will just enjoy the challenge and opportunity,” he said.
“That is crucial for me now. I will enjoy the challenge of this game but I have to keep learning and improving my own game so that I stay in the team.”
Clarke was delighted to lead Australia in the Twenty20 match against New Zealand but said this provided no evidence that he would eventually succeed Ponting in the permanent job.
“There are a lot of guys in the team who could captain but Ricky is only 32 and I hope he will be around for a lot longer,” Clarke said.
“When Ricky decides to hang up his boots, who knows what will happen or who will be in the team. Hopefully I will still be playing but Ricky could play until he is 50.”
In a wide-ranging interview with the Herald Sun yesterday, the International Cricket Council chairman said the popular Twenty20 format could eventually reap millions of new supporters and sponsorship dollars for a game that is otherwise struggling to compete with other sports.
The popularity of cricket’s bite-sized format has exploded in the past year and has become a major battle ground for cashed-up television networks, particularly in India, where two domestic Twenty20 competitions will start soon. Australia’s domestic Twenty20 competition has been a success, and this summer there are two Twenty20 internationals on the calendar.
The first is an expected sell-out between Australia and New Zealand at the WACA Ground on December 11, while there are likely to be few seats left at the MCG on February 1 when India is in town.
The sudden influx of Twenty20 cricket means crowded international fixtures have become even more congested and may lead to Cricket Australia eventually axing the traditional one-day tri-series once its contract expires in the 2011-12 summer.
As revealed in the Herald Sun in July, next summer may be a portent of things to come when New Zealand and South Africa play separate one-day series against Australia, with a tri-series unlikely.
While fixturing remains a major problem, South African Mali, speaking from Delhi, could not hide his excitement when asked about Twenty20 and its place in the game.
“My firm belief through Twenty20 cricket is that we can get more attendees to cricket, people that have never played the game,” Mali said.
“It is short, over in three hours. People like that.
“I am looking at new areas like China. This type of game seems to interest them.
“New areas like America. They are so keen on this type of game. In America, they are already playing.
“It can bring new people, both old and the younger generation.”
The ICC’s interest in forging a strong link with China, a country of more than 1.3 billion people, is understandable. Several of the world’s major sports have made a concerted effort to tap into the ever-burgeoning market.
Even the AFL, through the Melbourne Football Club, has made an effort to get a foothold in China, with the Demons holding a promotional camp in there last month.
“I will be going to China very soon, perhaps in May,” Mali said. “The Asian Cricket Council has done a lot to create that interest in the game at school level, which is good for cricket.”
Cricket in China is mainly played by expatriates, who have organised international sixes tournaments in Shanghai for the past four years.
Surprisingly, China has a long cricket history. The first recorded match was held in 1858 in Shanghai, between a team of officers from HMS Highflyer and a Shanghai XI.
Photographs also exist showing 19th century cricket matches in other areas, such as in the southern city of Chongqing, but interest seems to have waned since. The ICC hopes similarities between Twenty20 and baseball can eventually help the game have a minor – but strong – presence in the US.
The US competed in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy in England, but local associations have been hindered by internal bickering and politics, which have stymied growth. Mali said the ICC was looking forward to the next Twenty20 World Cup, in England in 2009, after the success of the inaugural tournament in South Africa this year.
While Mali said he was excited about Twenty20, he stressed the new format would not kill traditional Test and one-day internationals, which have looked tired in recent times.
“Each one of them has its own space on the cricket calendar,” Mali said.
“I have been watching Test cricket since I was 11 years old. I am 71 and still enjoying Test cricket.”
CHANDIGARH:The Indian Cricket League, an Essel Group venture, announced an impressive line up of commentators and experts for the ICL Twenty-20 Tournament starting at Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula from November 30. The commentators names announced include Tony Greig, Dean Jones, Pat Symcox, Jeffery Thomson, Mike Whitney and Ayaz Memon. Additionally Kapil Dev will be seen dawning a new role and be the co-commentator to provide expert insights and opinions on the matches.
Commenting on the line-up ICL Chairman-Executive Board Kapil Dev Nikhanj League said “to deliver the live experience to the audience, commentator’s role is of absolute importance and can’t be ignored. We have signed on some of the world’s best commentators and their vast cricketing experience will add a lot of value in providing a perspective to our cricket fans.”
Commenting on his association with ICL, Tony Greig, said, “I am excited to team up with Zee Sports for the upcoming ICL 20-20 Tournament and look forward to joining Kapil Dev with whom I have had lot of exciting, on-field rivalry. I am personally very happy to be a part of this initiative and I hope to add value through my understanding of the game. “
Renowned opening batsmen of Australia and cricket commentator Dean Jones said, “I am delighted to join ICL panel and team up with my old pals to share exciting, live update with the fan following across the world.”
TONY GREIG: England’s cricket captain from 1975 until 1977, Tony Greig led his country 14 times. He retired young, and immigrated to Australia, where he has had a successful career as an executive in the Packer organization and as a television commentator. Today one of the most recognizable and respected voices on Cricket broadcasts, Tony has the brilliant knack of bringing alive the furious excitement of live cricketing action.
JEFF THOMPSON: Initially a soccer player, ‘Thommo’ took a liking to cricket and went on to become a legend with his furiously fast bowling. He collided with team mate Alan Turner on the field when both went for the same catch and he was seriously injured, and plates and bolts were fitted into his shoulder, but despite the injury he fought his way back into the Australian team and along with Lillie hunted as one of the most lethal pair of fast bowlers of all time!
DEAN JONES: Jones one of Australia’s most successful batsmen of winning team, and was noted for his electric running between the wickets, outstanding out-fielding and aggressive batting especially against. With his positive, aggressive and flamboyant style of play he became a crowd favourite. He played a significant part in the ’87 World Cup and ’89 Ashes wins for the team. Turbulent stints as captain of Victoria and Derbyshire followed and he remained devoted to the game and since retirement has been a Commentator.
PAT SYMCOX: Symcox played first class cricket for South Africa for 21 years, having played in a staggering 20 Tests and 80 one-day internationals. He retired from cricket in 1999. Former South African cricketing great is a well-known critic of the ‘quota system’ that was introduced into South African cricket to benefit previously disadvantaged players.
MIKE WHITNEY: He is former Australian from 1981 to 1993.He was a commentator for The Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, and the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
KAPIL DEV: Arguably India’s greatest all-rounder and recently recognised as India’s greatest Cricketer with the Wisden Indian Cricketer of The Century award, Kapil Dev has charted the course of many famous Indian victories. Captaining India to win the Prudential Cup in 1983 was the highlight of his career. He also led India to a 2-0 series win to beat England in 1986. And, of course, at the top of his most spectacular unbeaten innings ranks his knock of 175 against Zimbabwe when India was on the route to the World Cup win in 1983.
Schedule Nov 30: Chandigarh Lions v Delhi Jets Dec 1: Chennai Superstars v Kolkata Tigers; Mumbai Champs v Hyderabad Heroes Dec 2: Delhi Jets v Hyderabad Heroes; Chandigarh Lions v Kolkata Tigers Dec 3: Mumbai Champs v Chennai Superstars Dec 5: Hyderbad Heroes v Chandigarh Lions Dec 7: Mumbai Champs v Delhi Jets Dec 8: Chennai Superstars v Chandigarh Lions; Delhi Jets v Kolkata Tigers Dec 9: Hyderabad Heroes v Chennai Superstars; Mumbai Champs v Chandigarh Lions Dec 10: Mumbai Champs v Kolkata Tigers Dec 12: Chennai Superstars v Delhi Jets; Hyderbad Heroes v Kolkata Tigers Dec 14: Semi-final I Dec 15: 5/6 classification; Semi-final II Dec 16: 3/4 classification; Final.
Even as the rebel Indian Cricket League (IC) Twenty20 tournament is all set to begin at Chandigarh from November 30 next, doubts prevail over former West Indies captain Brian Lara joining the game.It is learnt that Lara who had signed up with the ICL some time back and is scheduled to lead the Mumbai Champs – one of the teams in the much-publicized tournament, has left his country, but is yet to communicate with the organizers regarding his arrival in India to participate in the matches.
In fact, rumors are doing the rounds in cricket circles that Lara might not play for ICL and might join BCCI-promoted Indian Premier League (IPL).
All that ICL executive board Chairman Kapil Dev was prepared to say is that Lara has left West Indies and only once he reaches here, they all will know. Regarding the participation of the other international players who have signed up for the ICL, Kapil said confirmed that all most all of them would be here for the matches and if one or two falls ill or cannot attend the matches for some unforeseen reasons, they could do little to help.
It may be mentioned here that in addition to many Ranji players, a number of international cricket stars, including some who have retired from the game recently, have signed up with the rebel league. The international player who are scheduled to star in ICL Twenty20 tournament include Nathan Astle, Chris Cairns, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Brian Lara, Russel Arnold, Abdul Razzak, Chris Harris, Nicky Boje, Dinesh Mongia, Lance Klusener, Stuart Law, Craig Macmillan, Vikram Solanki and Ian Harvey On the other hand, Tony Greig and Dean Jones are on the commentary panel of the ICL tournament..
Meanwhile, preparations for the tournament at the Tau Devi Lal cricket stadium in Chandigarh are in full swing with stands, floodlights and other facilities being installed. According to Kapil, things would soon fall in their place before the matches begin. He said that since it is a newly born baby, initially there would be some problems, but all will be well in the end.