ACC wants to include cricket in SAF Games for Indo-Pak peace
Karachi, August 10

The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Sunday suggested the inclusion of cricket in the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games as part of a move to end a deadlock between the two neighbours.

"ACC will officially request the South Asian Sports Federation (SASF) to include cricket in the SAF Games which we think can be stepping stone for the revival of cricket between India and Pakistan," ACC development manager Zakir Hussain Syed told AFP.

India snapped bilateral cricket ties with arch rivals Pakistan over political tension in 2000 but recent efforts to normalise relations between the two neighbours have triggered hopes of ties being revived by next year.

"We are sure that cricket can increase the appeal of the Games to a great extent and besides Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - the four Test playing nations - Nepal can also chip in," Syed said.

Pakistan last week announced it will stage the biennial SAF Games in January 2004 after withdrawing its right to host the game April this year, after becoming frustrated by repeated postponements.

The Games, scheduled to be held in Islamabad in September 2001, were first cancelled following security fears in the wake of the 9/11 terrorists attacks on the United States and the ensuing war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Later Pakistan was twice forced to cancel the Games, first in March 2002 and then in March this year, over Indian refusals to participate.

Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) last month said it received a great boost to rescheduled the Games in Pakistan when their Indian counterparts supported them to host the regional sporting festival.

Pakistan will now request the SASF to fix new dates for the Games in its meeting likely to be held in October this year.

The SAF Games events include athletics, badminton, boxing, football, volleyball, weightlifting, taekwondo, karate, table tennis, wrestling, shooting and swimming.

Hockey was included on expiremental basis in the Games held in India in 1995.

"Cricket can have more representation in the Games and even the fledgling nation like Afghanistan can also participate in it," Syed said.

The Games were initiated in 1984 under the auspices of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and are participated by India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal.

Afghanistan was also included in the SAF Games fold last year.

The last edition of the Games were held in Nepal in 1999.

Beware of under-rated Kiwis: Wright
Bangalore, August 10

Ahead of the New Zealand tour of India, Coach John Wright on Sunday warned that the Kiwis are a tough side to beat and Sourav Ganguly's boys would have to strive hard to press home the advantages.

"New Zealanders peformed well on a recent tour to Sri Lanka. They (the Kiwis) are always underrated and they make fight hard", Wright told PTI.

"Perhaps, the other side (India) isnt different. Its up to us (India) to perform better and keep the home record going".

Asked how eager the Indian team was to avenge its thrashing by New Zealand on their last tour, Wright said the team is always eager to play good cricket, against any side.

On Javagal Srinath, recuperating from a knee injury, being doubtful for the home series, Wright said, adding that he would speak to the pace spearhead soon and expressed hope that he would carry on.

"I havent had a chat with Sri for a month. But obviously we will have a talk in the next week or so. Sri is big enough to take the decision. Lets hope he wants to carry on. But that will be his decision".

Wright added: "But we seem to be getting more depth in the pace department which is good".

Indias pace department has got a "little more depth", particulary after a "little bit of over-competition" on the New Zealand tour, followed by the World Cup campaign in South Africa where they were perhaps "wayward" in the final, he said.

Wright said its a good move by the BCCI and the selectors for having picked 36 players for the conditioning camp, including the India "A" team that toured England, and dismissed suggestions that it would be too big a group to handle.

"It will be alright and fine. I think its a good move by the BCCI and the selectors to get as many for selection".

There were some good performances in India "A"s recent tour of England, he said, adding that it was an excellent tour and Coach Sandeep Patil deserved congratulations.

"It (36 probables) will be a good base from the fitness point of view. I will not find it difficult to handle as many. I am confident of doing a good job", Wright said.

Asked if some of the India "A" players who did well on the tour have a chance to get into the national squad, he said the selectors are looking for them to consolidate their performances on the tour and be consistent in domestic matches as well.

Wright said the conditioning camp begining on August 14 would focus on physical fitness.

Warne in yet another phone sex scandal
Sydney, August 10

Controversy prone Australian spinner on Sunday found himself in the midst of another telephone sex scandal with a South African woman accusing the bowler of making lewd calls and sending dirty messages to her.

Cohen Alon, a 45-year-old divorcee and a mother of three, claimed Warne called her up "40 times" saying he "wanted me" and even sent text messages telling her he was lying in bed next to his wife Simone, but thinking "naughty thoughts about me".

The allegations of Alon were reported by the Sunday Times, Johannesburg.

Warne, who was stripped of his vice captaincy after he admitted making dirty calls to a British nurse in August 2000, refused to respond to the charges made by Alon but his manager and brother Jason did issue a terse statement denying the allegations.

Lankan cricket authorities want to modernize Sinhalese Sports Club
Colombo, August 08

Sri Lanka's cricket authorities are planning to modernize Sinhalese Sports Club ground, the headquarters of cricket on the island, as a venue equal to world headquarters Lord's, the cricket board said Friday.

Cricket board chief Thilanga Sumathipala has met club authorities and discussed a plan to "develop SSC as a super grade venue equal to Lord's of London," the cricket board said in a statement.

The development plan will include floodlights, a digital scoreboard, modern dressing rooms, covered stands for spectators and a museum, the statement said.

The ground has hosted 22 test matches since 1984 - the most among the seven Sri Lankan test venues. Also, 47 one-day internationals have been played in the venue.

Shoaib to return to Durham next month
Karachi, August 08

The Pakistan cricket board (PCB) is allowing fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar to re-join Durham after the first two tests against Bangladesh this month.

A board spokesman said Durham had released Akhtar for the tests but wanted him back in the first week of September to complete his contract.

Durham's chances of promotion from the second division would be greatly boosted by the return of Shoaib for the closing games.

Fellow paceman Mohammad Sami, who has been out with an injured ankle, is expected to be fit from the third test onwards. Sami, 22, told Reuters: "I will complete four weeks of rest this week and than start training."

Nimbus denies Ganguly deal
Kolkata, August 07

The speculation over who Sourav Ganguly’s new agents would be, once his existing contract expires in end-September, is gaining steam.

World Sports Nimbus, the group reported to have offered an astronomical guarantee money of Rs 60 crore, has strongly denied of “even contemplating” to sign him.

However, the Indian captain’s departure for Australia earlier this week on a personal visit has set the cricket circles abuzz.

Harish Thawani, co-chairman of WSN, told Times News Network from Mumbai: “We have given no such proposal to Ganguly, nor are we contemplating to. There is no resolution even in the company board of taking cricketers on board for celebrity management.”

Kaif returns to form but Derbyshire faulter
London, August 07

Mohammad Kaif rediscovered his batting form but Derbyshire faultered to bow out of the C&G Trophy one-day cricket tournament in Bristol on Thursday.

Kaif played a pivotal role with a well paced 72 to help Derbyshire post a respectable 219 but it was not enough to stop Gloucestershire from squeezing out a narrow one-wicket win in the semifinal match.

Pakistan's Shoaib Malik was key to Gloucestershire's victory, his 83-ball 74 that included 10 fours guiding the team into the final even as wickets tumbled at the other end.

Derbyshire, electing to bat, were off to a creaky start as they lost three wickets for 59 on the board.

But Kaif and D R Hewson (37) took the score to 134 before the latter was run out.

That was the first of three run outs which derailed Derbyshire's hope of putting past the former champions.

If not for some generous bowling by Mark Alleyne's men who conceded 23 extras, Derbyshire would have struggled to go past the 200 mark.

Gloucestershire were given a solid start by New Zealander Craig Spearman and W P C Weston who put on 48 for the first wicket.

Then wickets began to fall at regular interval but A P R Gidman (41) and Malik added a valuable 56 for the fifth wicket.

There was further drama when Wharton removed Alleyne (27) and wicketkeeper batsman R C Russel in the space of three balls but Malik's innings ensured victory for the Gloucs.




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