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Pink balls set for one-day trials

_44235717_ball270.jpgThe white ball used in one-day cricket could be replaced by a pink one if tests prove it is more durable. A flourescent ball could be adopted for full county cricket by 2009, and then across the international game.  The red ball lasts much longer, so the pink ball will not be used for Tests and four-day county games.

“It’s about the quality of the ball and the fact the white one doesn’t last 50 overs,” a spokesman for the game’s lawmakers, the MCC, told BBC Sport.  But there is also the visibility factor to consider – white balls can be notoriously difficult for fielders and batsmen to see in certain light conditions.

The tests will be carried out in the nets at Lord’s this winter and also in women’s cricket in Australia. In the summer of 2008, further trials will see the pink ball used in county second XI and university matches.

The MCC’s head of cricket John Stephenson said: “Paint tends to flake off white balls. The challenge is to produce a ball which retains its colour.

“My aim would be to use the pink ball in Twenty20 cricket in 2009 and therafter in one-day international cricket. But this will be dependent on trials and what the England and Wales Cricket Board [ECB] thinks.”

Mike Gatting, the ECB’s managing director of cricket partnerships, said: “We must always push the game forward and make sure we have the right equipment.

“We have tried white and orange balls and perhaps pink ones will last longer. This is a very interesting and a very wise development.”

Traditional red balls used for Test and first-class cricket can last 80 overs before being replaced.  However, in one-day internationals a mandatory ball change is now enforced after 34 overs because the white titanium dioxide dye rubs off the leather.

Kookaburra, the Australian manufacturer charged with making the existing white balls, are also producing the pink ones to be used in the trial.


Biyani wooing Sachin with a bright Future

MUMBAI: In a first in the world of Indian sport, a cricketer may end up being a player and his own boss. The Kishore Biyani-owned Future Group, which has expressed interest in becoming a franchisee of BCCI’s home league initiative — Indian Premier League (IPL) — is currently in talks with Sachin Tendulkar to look at jointly bidding to own the Mumbai team.

Sources at Future Group confirmed to ET that the talks were on, and that the company has been in talks with BCCI and simultaneously with Sachin to own a minority stake.

The rationale is simple: Sachin’s presence and the ownership status mean the valuation of the team would rise instantly and the Future Group can use Sachin to rope in other cricketers.

For Sachin, the deal spells money. The stake in the Mumbai team will ensure the cricketer a fixed fee on an annual basis, plus a variable component depending on the profits the team garners. However, sources pointed out that the structure of the deal was still being worked upon.

But Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani said, “We do not comment on speculation.” Future Group, along with the Manipal Group, has already entered into a joint venture with Sachin for its new sports initiative, which entails the launch of a variety of products in the health supplement, sports goods, fitness equipment and lifestyle accessories categories.

The products will be marketed under the brand names S Drive and Sach, which would be retailed across the multiple Future Group formats like Big Bazaar, Central, Planet Sports, Manipal Cure & Care.

The deal with Future secures Sachin’s position, both as an investment and a retirement plan. Several attempts to contact Sachin were in vain, as he was on his way to Gwalior for the fourth one-dayer against Pakistan.

BCCI has currently put its base price for owning a team at $50 million for 10 years, but insiders say the price could be anywhere between $75 million and $90 million.

Meanwhile, the IPL governing council has invited the three broadcasters — ESPN Star, Nimbus Sports and Sony Entertainment Television — for making presentations for awarding the broadcast and media rights on November 17.

The presentations will include IPL’s promotional strategy, an advertising rate projection and other ancillary and programming support. The meeting will essentially discuss non-financial issues such as a broadcaster’s capabilities. The tender document for the bid will be available from November 21 to December 7. The winner of the media rights will be announced by the BCCI on the December 7.

Once the BCCI decides on the franchisees who will own the eight different teams, it will provide a pool of players — comprising the national players, Ranji Trophy players as well as the 29 international players who have signed up for the league — who will be auctioned as planned.

The Future Group is being looked at as the front runner for the Mumbai team, while Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher is said to be the front runner for the Bangalore team.

As a bowler I know the subtleties of the game: Kumble

BANGALORE : Only the third spinner after Bishen Singh Bedi and S Venkataraghvan to become the captain of Indian team, Anil Kumble says as a bowler he knows the ’subtleties’ of the game well and can use that knowledge while leading the country in Test matches.

In an exclusive interview, Kumble said he is aware of the responsibility associated with the job and captaincy has come at a time in his career when he can ‘relish the challenge’.

Kumble also feels that the new-found aggression in the young Indian team was always there.

Regarded as a fighter on the field, the 37-year-old sees nothing wrong in the younger lot showing their emotions on the ground.

India’s most successful bowler speaks about the new challenge, his expectations from the team and the forthcoming three-match Test series against Pakistan.

Q: Nice Diwali gift for you?

A: I think it has come on a nice auspicious day. It is a nice feeling.

Q: Was it a surprise to you?

A: I don’t think it was a surprise. People were discussing about me as a contender. There were lot of discussions happening. Yeah, I mean it was only after actually Sachin pulled out that the likelihood of they (selectors) looking at me as a captain happened.

Q: Do you feel that Test captaincy coming after 17 long years has happened too late towards the fag end of your career?

A: Better late than never. I think it has come at a time when I think I can relish this challenge. I ensure that I go out there and enjoy my cricket and enjoy being captain of India.

Q: Do you think the selectors have gone for a stop-gap arrangement?

A: No, I haven’t really sat down and spoken to them. I really don’t know what they have in mind. So it’s a bit too early for me to say anything on that.

Q: Do you hope to continue as captain for the forthcoming Australian tour and also the home series against South Africa early next year?

A: I would like to take one step at a time. So I still have not really sat down with the selectors and found out what exactly they have in mind. But I’m sure that will happen very soon.

Q: You are the 30th captain and third spinner after Bishen Singh Bedi and Venkatraghavan in Indian Test cricket? How does it feel?

A: I think it’s a great challenge for a bowler to be captain of India and it is not looked at very positively in India for some strange reasons. I am happy that the selectors and the people have shown a lot of faith in me and I hope to live up to those expectations. As a bowler I understand the subtleties of the game. Hopefully I would be able to use that knowledge when it comes to captaining.

Q: As a captain what are your expectations from the Indian team now?

A: I don’t think expectations would change as a player or as a captain. We have discussions and people who have played the game for long definitely express their views in a team meeting and I don’t see that changing much. But the expectations would be to ensure that we are consistent. We try and build a team that will be consistent over a period of time.

Q: How do you see this new-found aggression in Team India now? Do you feel this Indian team after their T20 success has transformed?

A: I think we’ve always been aggressive. I don’t think Team India has found any new aggression after T20 triumph. It’s just that there has been a lot of presence on the field. I mean it’s just that the younger lot show flare and emotions on the field which is good.

Q: Personally have you set any target now that you have 566 Test wickets, third behind Shane Warne (708) and Muttiah Muralitharan (702)?

A: Absolutely none. I just want to go out and enjoy my game and ensure that I contribute to the team’s success, to whatever I was doing before. I would like to continue that if not better whatever I was doing. It’s important for me to ensure that we win every time we go out, that’s the personal target and team goal.

Q: How do you see this Pakistan team touring India now?

A: They have a good side. They have always done well whenever they have played us and we respect that. I think we have the potential and the team to win. I am hopeful and pretty confident that we will be able to do that.

Q: In Inzamam’s absence, post-retirement, do you see India holding an upperhand?

A: I think Inzy is a great player. It is very difficult to replace a player like him within a matter of couple of matches. But having said that Pakistan still have Md Yousuf and Younus Khan while Misbah-ul-Haq looks pretty good and then they have Shoaib Malik. (Shahid) Afridi and Salman Butt can be dangerous. So they still have a pretty good batting order. It will be an evenly-contested series.

Kaneria, Faisal and Sami to join Pakistan team in India

KARACHI: The cricket selectors have decided to send three players to India before the start of the three-Test series. Daily Times has learnt on good authority that leg spinner Danish Kaneria, middle order batsman Faisal Iqbal and fast bowler Mohammad Sami are favourites to join the Pakistan cricket team before the first Test starting in New Delhi from November 22.

The national selection committee, headed by former Test cricketer Salahuddin Ahmad, had already decided to send a wicketkeeper to share the burden with Kamran Akmal. The chief selector had a discussion with members Shafqat Rana and Saleem Jaffer regarding the combination of the Pakistan team for the Test series.

Kaneria, not selected for the one-day series, is all set to play the Test series against India. Kaneria has taken 17 wickets for Habib Bank Limited in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. On the slow turning wickets of India, Kaneria could be a useful weapon for Pakistan.

Sami is also performing very well in the domestic circuit, representing the Karachi Whites team as its skipper. The 26-year-old Sami, who has played 30 Tests and 83 ODIs, is in a devastating form.

He has taken 17 wickets with an average of 20.94 in the first class matches. Sami last played a Test match for Pakistan in January this year against South Africa at Cape Town. He also played against Australia A in the home series representing Pakistan A.

An elbow injury to fast bowler Mohammad Asif has convinced the selectors to include experienced Sami for the crunch Test series against the archrivals.

The selectors are of the view that Faisal can strengthen the middle order batting. Faisal played in the first Test against South Africa in Karachi last month. He batted well in the second innings but after the return of seasoned batsman Mohammad Yousuf he had to sit in the dressing room.

The players who will return to Pakistan after the India one-day series are opener Imran Nazir, fast bowler Rao Iftikhar Anjum and all rounder Fawad Alam.

Question mark over ICL’s Kolkata camp

kolkata : A day before Daryll Cullinan is scheduled to leave South Africa for the much-awaited Kolkata-leg camp of the Indian Cricket League (ICL), a fresh battle between the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the rebel league has cast a shadow on the camp. The ICL’s east zone contingent, Calcutta Tigers, are slated to assemble at the Calcutta Cricket & Football Club (CC&FC) this Friday for a week-long camp, where east zone coach Cullinan, along with five yet-to-be-announced international stalwarts, are scheduled to take the players through the paces.

However, the CC&FC is an affiliated unit of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), apart from being the state body’s founder member. And it is this CAB—and hence BCCI—connection, that has now pushed the camp’s hosts, CC&FC into a spot.

Although no one is coming out in the open with, sources in both the club and in the CAB disclosed that the state association is working under express instructions from the BCCI to force the CC&FC to not to host the ICL’s camp.

A prominent member of the Essel Group-backed ICL body told The Indian Express on the condition of anonymity: “With less than a week to go now for the camp, the picture is getting increasingly difficult for us because the BCCI is probably trying all that it can to stall this camp. And they are probably doing it through the CAB, of which the CC&FC is a member. I just hope the CC&FC doesn’t give in to the pressure and pull out. The ICL will be in a soup then.”

The CC&FC top brass, too, conceded that they have a difficult call to make, with time running out. The club’s cricket-secretary Dipankar Nandi said that the ICL has applied for corporate membership with them, which is a way out for the hosts and the ICL.

“The ICL has approached us for corporate membership, which is generally worked out on a temporary basis. We will discuss this case and finalise it by tomorrow. If a given body obtains our corporate membership, then it is always officially entitled to use the CC&FC ground for any camp or other activities,” Nandi spelt out, adding: “However, we are also affiliated with the CAB. So, let’s see how things work out tomorrow.”

The CAB, expectedly, has made its stand clear—that the CC&FC won’t go unpunished if it hosts the ICL camp. Says CAB joint-secretary Samar Paul: “We have instructions from the BCCI, that we should disallow all ICL-related activities on BCCI and CAB territory.

“The CC&FC is affiliated with the CAB. They can host any camp, but it shouldn’t be any ICL camp. That’s final. However, the CC&FC hasn’t yet announced anything. It’s only after they announce that they are hosting the ICL camp that we will decide a course of action.”

Bharti, UB to bid for Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore teams in premier league

Bharti Airtel and United Breweries have expressed interest in acquiring, respectively, the Delhi and Bangalore or Mumbai teams in the impending Indian Premier League (IPL) for Twenty20 cricket matches. 
A leading Indian private bank and another mobile operator that recently went public are also considering acquiring IPL teams, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) sources confirmed. 
Bharti executives confirmed the mobile service provider’s interest in acquiring an IPL team. Vijay Mallya of United Breweries was not available for comment. 
Bharti executives are working on the details of the bids, which are likely to be invited through the BCCI’s normal process of tendering. 
“Everything will be done through tenders. Those buying the teams will have a right to make their own teams,” said Lalit Modi, chairman, IPL, and BCCI vice-president, adding, “There will be an auction for international players and a separate auction system for Indian players.” 
The Indian Premier League, the BCCI’s answer to Subhash Chandra’s breakaway Indian Cricket League, is slated to have eight teams. 
It has already signed on 49 international players including Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Shoaib Akhtar, Shaun Pollock, Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs. 
The Indian Cricket league, also a Twenty20 competition, initially comprises six teams. 
The eight franchise teams of the IPL will participate in a 56-game season. The four top teams will then play the semifinals, and the winners will contest in the championship match. 

Ambani, Mallya in race to own IPL T20 teams

MUMBAI: Industrialists Anil Ambani and Vijay Mallya, football teams from the English Premier League, some members of the American National Basketball Association, two foreign banks with operations in India and as yet unnamed investment bankers are among those who have expressed interest in owning cricket teams in India.

Sources said these parties had submitted their bids to the Indian Premier League, a body created by the Board of Control for Cricket in India to stage the T20 format of cricket matches.

BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi said, “All I can confirm is that the Tatas and the Mahindras are not among the bidders. But many business houses, investment bankers and film personalities have expressed their interest in bidding for a team.”

TOI had reported in its November 5 edition that Hollywood star Russell Crowe was one of the interested bidders.

Matches under the IPL banner are scheduled to be played during April 2008. Under the format, interested parties can bid for one of the eight teams that will represent an Indian city.

The floor price for each team has been set at $50 million, Modi said. While 15 bidders have said they will bid only for Mumbai, nine have expressed interest in Delhi. Until now, 90 bidders have expressed their intention to participate in the auctioning that will be telecast on television, Modi added.

Having done that, the successful bidders then get to bid for players of their choice. According to Modi, the pool of players the bidders can compete for will include the top 50 cricketers according to ICC’s current rankings and every player in the current Indian team. Players ranked higher up on the listings will command as much as $300,000 while those lower down the rung can take home roughly $100,000.

The caveat here is that “iconic Indian cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly can only play for their home teams”, Modi said. Else, he explained, the sentiments of fans in their home state could be hurt.