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 India says no to Sharjah tri-series

New Delhi, March 25: The Indian government has once again refused to allow its cricket team to play against Pakistan in the Gulf venue of Sharjah, officials told AFP on Sunday.

A senior sports ministry official said that India will not take part in the limited-overs tri-series tournament against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Sharjah from April 8-20. "Permission has not been given to play in Sharjah," the official said, adding a formal announcement to this effect will be made by sports minister Uma Bharti on Monday.

The government's decision has been conveyed to officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the official said.

This is the fourth time in the past two years that India has refused to play senior-level cricket against Pakistan, even though the two countries have met in other sporting events recently.

India played Pakistan in the final of the Prime Minister's Gold Cup hockey tournament in Bangladesh on March 19, with India winning in a penalty shoot-out.

Sources in India said the government was wary of the national team taking part in offshore limited-overs series in the wake of the match-fixing scandal that has rocked the sport.

India cancelled the annual Sahara Cup series against Pakistan in Canada twice in 1999 and 2000 following the Kargil conflict in the disputed region of Kashmir.

Last December, India's scheduled Test tour of Pakistan was called off and in February this year India refused to play Pakistan in Sharjah to raise funds for the Gujarat earthquake.

It was not immediately clear whether the Sharjah-based Cricketers Benefit Fund Series (CBFS) would go ahead with the April tournament in India's absence. 

 Six people arrested for running a betting racket

Udaipur, March 24: Police raided two premises and arrested six persons inolved in a betting racket of cricket matches, police said here on Friday.

The raids were conducted on Thursday when the India-Australia cricket Test match was in its crucial final moments.

Betting slips worth Rs 50 lakhs, five mobile phones, two colour television sets, several signed cheques and Rs 30,000 in cash were recovered from the two premises.

While six persons involved in the racket were nabbed on the spot by a special task force of the police, one person succeeded in fleeing, police said.

The arrested persons were being interrogated, police added.

 Bangladesh invites 5 Indian cricketers for Independence tie

Mumbai, March 24: Bangladesh Cricket Board has invited five Indian cricketers, including opening batsmen Sadagopan Ramesh and Shiv Sunder Das, for a one-day cricket match to commemorate that country's independence day.

The match will be played between a Bangladesh XI and an Invitation XI on March 27 at Dhaka.

Cricket Board executive secretary Sharad Diwadkar said here on Friday that the other three Indians who would play for the Invitation XI are Yuvraj Singh, Reetinder Singh Sodhi and Hrishikesh Kanitkar.

While Ramesh and Das belong to Tamil Nadu and Orissa respectively, Kanitkar is from Maharashtra. Both Yuvraj and Sodhi are here representing Punjab in the ongoing Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against reigning champions Mumbai.

However, the Indian Board is still to receive the names of the other members of the Invitation XI, Diwadkar added.



 Government unlikely to clear the Sharjah tourney

New Delhi, March 22: The government is unlikely to clear India's participation in the three-nation Coca Cola Cup at Sharjah in April this year. India along with Pakistan and Sri Lanka are scheduled to compete in the seven-match tournament from 8 to 19 April.

According to sources, India's withdrawal from the three-nation tournament is a mere announcement away. The government has indicated this in meetings with the President of International Cricket Council, Mr. Malcom Gray, and representatives of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

While the government on the other hand has expressed its support in principle for hosting of the ICC Knockout tournament in India next year. Initially, the BCCI had rejected this offer of ICC citing rigid taxation laws in India, which require deduction of withholding tax on any revenue generated from India. Since all sponsorship and television revenues from the Knockout tournament go to the ICC the BCCI felt that withholding tax would lead to a problem.

The meeting of the ICC and the BCCI chief with the sports and finance minister seem to have elicited support from the government to favorably tackle this issue.

Traditionally, the ICC Knockout tournaments have been staged at non-regular centers as part of former ICC chief Jagmohan Dalmiya's globalisation plans. But Mr. Gray feels that such big events must only go to major centers like India.

The sports minister Uma Bharti and the finance minister Mr. Yashwant Sinha assured Mr. Gray of the government’s cooperation if the event came to India. The finance minister informed Mr. Gray that his ministry would examine the possibility of waving the tax requirement.

Dr. Muthiah also informed the ministers that the BCCI gets fifty percent of the gate receipts and this would be a big source of income for the various centres. The ICC bears all staging costs for the Knockout tournament.

On the issue of participation of India in Sharjah tournaments, the government is quite skeptical due to the recent months allegations of underworld and ISI links have tarnished the reputation of the Sharjah tournaments. The government wants to investigate this matter before it clears any tours to this destination. Sports ministry sources indicate that the BCCI would not allow sending a team to Sharjah as the issue was not about sporting contacts with Pakistan but about the venue itself.

The home minister, Mr. L K Advani has expressed a similar viewpoint to Mr. Gray and BCCI representatives, Mr. Raj Singh Dungarpur and Mr. Shukla when they called up on him on Thursday.

The home minister informed the delegation that a decision on Sharjah is still being processed and Thursday's meeting should be confined only to the ICC Knockout tournament.

The home minister further assured the ICC chief that there would be no problem with Pakistan's participation in the tournament.

 Geoff Allott finally gives in to injury; announces his retirement from game

Auckland, March 23: Allott's retirement has resulted from a stress fracture to his lower back, which has refused to heal sufficiently for him to continue bowling. He has had a history of lower back stress fractures over the past five years. He was forced to entirely rebuild his bowling action in 1998 so that he was delivering more front-on and therefore putting less pressure on his back.

He fought his way back to fitness for a second time for the tour to Zimbabwe and South Africa late last year. His workload was managed through both of those one-day series but on his return to New Zealand he was again diagnosed with a stress fracture to the lower back. It was the sixth of his career.

"No player has worked harder to fight his way back to fitness than Geoff Allott," said New Zealand Cricket chief executive Christopher Doig. "He has always been 100 percent committed to New Zealand cricket and to his career and it is a testament to his courage and determination that he has played as long as he has and achieved significant success."

"Geoff Allott was a talented bowler," said New Zealand convenor of selectors and former fast-bowling great Sir Richard Hadlee. "He was particularly dangerous in the one-day game. Being a left-armer gave him an advantage and he had an ability to move the ball away and across the right handed batsman, which he did with devastating effect in the World Cup taking 20 wickets. He was an asset with the new ball and also later in the innings when he had an ability to reverse swing the ball and take wickets."

It was indicative of the injury problems which dogged him that, over his seven-year career, Allott played in only ten Tests and 31 one day internationals, but his talent was plain during the 1999 World Cup in England, when he was the tournament's leading wicket-taker, with 20 victims at an average of 16.25. English conditions suited his action perfectly and his performance was one of the main reasons behind the Black Caps' push to the semi-finals. Australia's Shane Warne tied for the crown, having played one game more.

In the limited overs game, he took 52 ODI wickets at an average of 23.21: in the Test arena, just 19 wickets at 58.47, six stress fractures to his back preventing him from being anything but an occasional player. Even in the first class arena, he played just 31 matches, taking 102 wickets at 30.36.

Allott debuted for Canterbury as a 23-year-old medium-fast strike bowler in 1994/95 and, after only two games for Canterbury and two games for a New Zealand Selection XI, he made his debut in the first Test against Zimbabwe in January 1996. His final Test was New Zealand's historic first-ever victory over England at Lord's in July 1999. In the deciding final innings he took a crucial 3-36. New Zealand went on to win the series 2-1.

Allott's name will likely remain in the record books for some time to come but, even though he was the archetypal tailender, it was for his contribution with bat rather than ball. In the drawn first Test between New Zealand and South Africa at Eden Park in March 1999, Allott batted for 101 minutes without scoring, passing the 97-minute record of England's Godfrey Evans. He was eventually caught out for nought but, for an hour and a half, he had successfully fed the strike to his partner Chris Harris, who ended on 68 not out. Harris had batted for five hours and along with Allott, the pair effectively denied South Africa the likelihood of winning. When he was out, Allott held his bat aloft and acknowledged the applause of the crowd, much akin to a batsman reaching his century.

Jadeja and Aditi Jaitely to wed on March 30

By a special corrospondent in New Delhi

New Delhi, March 21: Banned cricketer but a Former cricket star Ajay Jadeja will marry the daughter of former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly, Aditi, on March 30.

According to sources, the marriage ceremony will be solemnized at the residence of former defence minister George Fernandes' residence at 3 Krishna Menon Marg.

 Veteran umpire Ramaswamy blames media for distorting their image

Islamabad, March 21: Veteran cricket umpire, V K Ramaswamy has blamed the media for distorting the image of the sub-continent's umpires at the international level.

"It is wrong to assume that there was something lacking in the sub-continent umpires. They are among the best in the world," he said in an interview.

Blaming the media for playing spoil sport, he said the umpires in the sub-continent supervised matches under the most demanding conditions. They make an all out effort to give their best under these tiring conditions, he said adding that no umpire willingly made a mistake as it affected his future.

Ramaswamy who has officiated 26 Test matches is in Pakistan to conduct the advance course for umpiring being organised by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).

Ramaswamy, who made his debut in 1984, also blamed the respective boards for not properly backing the umpires.

"It is the duty of the boards to fight for the cause of their umpires at international level," he said.

He said the concept of third umpire has no way diminished the importance of the umpires on the field. He also rejected the idea that the third umpire should be called to decide on the appeals relating to bat and pad catches.

"If you cannot give a batsman out if you have any doubt and the benefit of the doubt should go in favour and that is the beauty of the game," he said. 

 Video to aid umpires understand complex rulebooks

London, March 21: The Britain's Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers, together with cricket law maker MCC and the England and Wales Cricket Board has produced a new training video, 'The Laws of Cricket - 2000 Code', which aims to aid umpires in their understanding and application of the sport's complex rulebook.

The officials took this first step in responding to concerns about declining standards of umpiring.

The video, shot in Barbados, features West Indies great Garfield Sobers.

"Since I stopped playing the game has changed. It's very noticeable the appealing of players, even to people who haven't played the game," the legendary all-rounder said.

"They are continuously appealing, almost trying to scare the umpires."

English Test umpire John Holder, who was born in Barbados, also features in the video.

"When I first thought about becoming an umpire I went on an ACUS course. The scales fell from my eyes. I played for 24 years and I was amazed at how little I knew," Holder said.

Greater use of TV replays has been suggested as a way to improve decision making but Holder insisted they were "not doing the game any good at all and sometimes they are not even conclusive."

The key, he believes, to successful umpiring at first-class level is to "gain the respect of the players".

That respect appeared to be severely lacking on occasions from players on all sides during England's tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, although the umpires did not always help themselves.

"There were a couple of decisions that were given to balls pitching outside leg-stump, of batsmen being given out lbw. To me that's a 'never never'," said Holder.

"What disappointed me about the first Test in Sri Lanka was the speed with which decisions were made.

"As an umpire you should never give the impression of being trigger-happy. Even if it's plumb lbw, you always replay it in your mind quickly and give it in your own time," he explained.

"I'm doing a Test match here (at Lord's) against Australia in July and I certainly hope my partner and I do far better than that." He added.

The major change in updated 2000 code is that umpires can now award penalty runs against either the batting or fielding sides for various offences such as "batsman wasting time" or "deliberately obstructing the striker".

However, penalty runs will have no place in Test matches because world governing body the International Cricket Council has opted out.

ICC claim that as the players can be fined and/or suspended by match referees, penalty runs make cricketers subject to unfair 'double jeopardy'.

ACUS chairman Barrie Stuart-King is not impressed. "The weakness of referees has contributed very considerably to the problem.

"The idea of suspended sentences and don't you do that again or I'll slap your wrist doesn't help.

"If you said to a player 'you are suspended for two matches,' this would have a greater effect than saying 'this is a warning', 'this is a serious warning' and 'this is an even more serious warning'."

At present there is no standardised method for training umpires. Stuart-King would like to see a global grading system introduced and an international umpires association created to monitor standards.

"A grade system would address a lot of the problems we have at the moment. An umpire could go up as well as down and this would help keep standards high."



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