Australia chief selector Trevor Hohns expects players to forgo Indian Premier League if it clashes with planned T20 tri-series
Melbourne, Jun 16 Australia chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns on Wednesday said he expects the country's IPL players to forgo the high-profile T20 league starting mid-September if a tri-series involving West Indies and Afghanistan is scheduled at the same time.
In addition to the white-ball series against West Indies and Bangladesh, for which a 18-member squad was announced on Wednesday, Australia is hoping to finalise a T20 tri-series with West Indies and Afghanistan just before the T20 World Cup which will be held in October-November.
Should that tri-series go ahead, it might potentially clash with the final phase of the IPL which is expected to resume in the UAE from mid-September, and Hohns made it clear where Cricket Australia expected players' priority to lie.
"Around that time of the year, I would certainly hope so (that players forego the IPL for national representation)," Hohns was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
"However, it will certainly depend on their commitments and what we think they should be committing to regarding their Australian commitments at that time." Hohns, however, added that the matter "would have to be addressed in the future".
"We haven't looked at that yet and we haven't heard from our players at this stage," he said.
Hohns also hinted that there is no guarantee that some of the IPL returnees who have opted out of the squad for the white-ball tours of West Indies and Bangladesh would get an automatic spot in the T20 World Cup.
Seven cricketers -- David Warner, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams -- who recently played in the IPL have pulled out of the twin tours while Steve Smith has been rested to fully recover from an elbow complaint which flared during the IPL.
"That will be an interesting discussion for us, there's no doubt about that, depending on performances in the West Indies particularly by some of the extra inclusions for this tour," Hohns said.
"If somebody were to really shoot the lights out with the bat or the ball, we'd have to stand up and take notice." He said it would have been ideal to have all the players together and play as a group and a squad (ahead of the World Cup).
"It is concerning ... but unfortunately we can't. However, we've got at least half of our (first-choice) squad going to the West Indies and Bangladesh, so a core group will be there, and they will be able to play together." Hohns also said prior to the finalisation of the 18-man touring party for the West Indies and Bangladesh, the selectors were "pretty well down the track" in finalising the squad they planned to take to the T20 World Cup.
"There may have been one or two positions up for grabs, but we virtually thought we were close to the mark or had a good idea of where we would be going with our T20 World Cup squad.
"We're obviously disappointed they made themselves unavailable for this tour, but quite frankly we totally understand and respect their decisions," Hohns said. News source PTI
Two India squads playing in different locations may continue if COVID challenges persist: BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal
New Delhi, Jun 16 India fielding two different squads in different locations due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic can become a norm as it allows more bilateral cricket and some respite to all-format players from bio-bubble fatigue, said BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal on Wednesday.
In a rare instance, Shikhar Dhawan will be leading a second string Indian team in Sri Lanka next month when the Virat-Kohli-led side will be in the UK ahead of the Tests against England.
Kohli has already spoken about the need to give players a break from the bubble life besides managing their workload.
"It is a definite possibility that India could play another limited overs tour with a younger squad while the main team players are playing elsewhere or need a break. The COVID-19 related restrictions also need to be factored in," Dhumal told PTI.
"It (two India squads) also shows the solid bench strength of the Indian team and gives us an opportunity to organise more bilateral cricket and help other boards which are facing financial challenges amid the pandemic." "It is imperative to come up with new ideas to deal with the loss of bilateral cricket that has happened over the last 18 months," he said.
India have picked as many as six uncapped players for the Sri Lanka tour comprising three ODIs and as many T20 Internationals from July 13. All games will be played in Colombo.
Talking about women's cricket, for which BCCI has often faced criticism, Dhumal said the board is taking all the necessary steps to grow the game in the country.
"Women's cricket has come a long way after it came under the aegis of BCCI. The sport will grow even more in the future and the board will leave no stone unturned to give more exposure and opportunity to budding women cricketers," he asserted.
"The board has already made a conscious attempt to give them substantial game time before the World Cup (next year) with tours of England and Australia lined up.
"We are also really happy to see them playing Tests again and wish the players the very best." However, he said it would be tough to slot in the Women's Challenge during the IPL as the team is scheduled to play three ODIs, a pink ball Test and three T20s in Australia from September 19 when the second half of IPL begins.
The players will also have to do a 14-day quarantine upon their arrival in Australia.
"With the way schedule stands, it is tough to find a window for the Women's Challenge during the IPL," said Dhumal. News source PTI
Australian batsman Steve Smith replaces Williamson as top-ranked Test batsman, Virat Kohli rises to fourth
Dubai, Jun 16 India skipper Virat Kohli climbed to the fourth spot while Australia batsman Steve Smith reclaimed the top position in the ICC Test rankings released on Wednesday.
Kohli, who will lead India in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton from Friday, has 814 points.
Keeping Kohli company in the top 10 is flamboyant Indian wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant (747 points) and star opener Rohit Sharma (747 points), who have retained their joint sixth position.
Smith, who claimed the top spot for the first time since the Boxing Day Tests last year, takes over from New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who is set to lead his team in the WTC final.
Williamson, who missed the second Test against England due to injury, has slipped five points behind Smith's 891 rating points and is second in the batters' list.
This means that Smith has been at the top for 167 Tests played worldwide in total, only behind Garry Sobers (189 matches) and Viv Richards (179 matches).
In the Test bowling rankings, senior India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin continued to occupy the second place (850 points), behind Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins (908 points).
Ashwin is the lone Indian in the top 10.
West Indies' Jason Holder retained his top position in the Test all-rounder rankings with 412 rating points. India's Ravindra Jadeja (386 points) and Ashwin (353) are second and fourth respectively.
Kiwi pacer Matt Henry's player of the match performance has lifted him to a career-best 307 points and 64th position while Ajaz Patel too is at a career-high points tally of 323. Devon Conway continues his good run and is in joint-61st position.
The rankings update also includes performances from the first Test between South Africa and the West Indies in St Lucia. Quinton de Kock finds himself in joint-12th position with Cheteshwar Pujara while his compatriot Adrian Markram has advanced two slots to reach 14th position.
De Kock has gained 11 positions to attain his highest position since December 2019.
Formerly top-ranked Kagiso Rabada has gained two spots to reach seventh place after a five-wicket haul in the second innings, Anrich Nortje is up into the top 30 for the first time in his career, while Lungi Ngidi is up 14 places to 44th position with a first-innings five-wicket haul. News source PTI
England Women opt to bat in one-off Test, Shafali Verma debuts for India
Bristol, Jun 16 England Women won the toss and opted to bat against India in the one-off Test here on Wednesday.
Rising star Shafali Verma will make her India debut, the same for Sophia Dunkley in the England team.
The Test is India's first in nearly seven years.
The Teams: England: Heather Knight (c), Lauren Winfield Hill, Tammy Beaumont, Natalie Sciver, Amy Ellen Jones (wk), Sophia Dunkley, Georgia Elwiss, Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole, Sophie Ecclestone, Kate Cross.
National record holding sprinter Dutee Chand expects Olympics spot on basis of world rankings if not through qualification timing
New Delhi, Jun 16 An Olympic qualifying spot within her grasp, national record-holding sprinter Dutee Chand on Wednesday said her target in the upcoming Tokyo Games is to reach the 100m final with an improved timing.
Dutee is yet to breach the qualification timing of 11.15 seconds but is expected to make it to the Tokyo Games on the basis of world rankings. Out of the 56 athletes to compete, 33 will be those who touch qualification timing and the remaining will be picked on the basis of rankings.
The 25-year-old, who has a personal best of 11.22 sec, is currently 42nd in the World Athletics' Road to Tokyo list, which also includes those who have already qualified on the basis of entry standard timing.
The qualification deadline is June 29 and the final list of entries will be published on July 1.
"I will try my best to touch the 11.15 sec standard during the Indian Grand Prix 4 on June 21 and the National Inter-State Championships (June 25-29). If not, I am expecting qualification on the basis of rankings," Dutee said in a virtual press conference.
"My aim in Tokyo is to run below 11.10 seconds and qualify for the final round. Olympics is the biggest event, there will be a lot of athletes who run around 11 seconds and below that," said the runner who was roped in as brand ambassador of Senco Gold and Diamonds company as part of its initiatives for the LGBTQ community.
Dutee rued missing the World Relay Championships in Poland in May and two competitions in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan this month due to travel restrictions on the Indians in view of the COVID-19 situation in the country.
"There have been a lot of changes in training competition schedule (due to pandemic). I am disappointed to have missed the international events but we can't do anything.
"Our (4x100m) relay team could have already qualified for the Olympics had we taken part in the World Relays in Poland. All four of us can run below 11.60 and could have run below 43.05," said Dutee who is currently at the national camp at NIS Patiala.
Sixteen teams will compete in the women's 4x100m relay in the Olympics and the country occupying the 16th spot in the Road to Tokyo has a timing of 43.05 seconds.
India is currently in 22nd spot with 43.81 achieved during the 2019 Asian Championships.
She said the next one month will be crucial for her in terms of training as she aims to improve her timing.
"Training-wise as well as diet, it is going on perfectly at the NIS. It is minimum six hours training everyday, besides other workouts at the gym, swimming and lifting of weights. I train between 6 and 10am, rest in the afternoon and then training again from 6-8pm in the evening.
"I started speed training from February, running 60m, 80m and then 100m. Even a 100m run during training is repeated six times. My coach told me my stamina has improved, so I can improve my timing," said Dutee who won a silver each in the 100m and 200m events in the 2018 Asian Games.
Asked about the controversy arising out of her relationship with a woman from her village in Odisha, she said, "Is it a crime to love another person? Some may love another person of opposite sex and some may love another person of same sex. Where is the problem? "I am being seen by some as somebody who creates controversy. But it is about one's choice. I love my partner who is a woman and she loves me also. I have not forced her. We want to settle down together in life." News source PTI
Indian hockey team among top five contenders for medal at Tokyo Olympics: Former head coach Roelant Oltmans
New Delhi, Jun 16 Former head coach Roelant Oltmans has picked the Indian men's hockey team among the medal contenders for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in July-August.
In an insightful conversation with 'Hockey Te Charcha', a podcast series initiated by Hockey India ahead of the Olympics, Oltmans emphasized that mental toughness will be a deciding factor for any team to succeed in Tokyo.
"For me, India is among the top five contenders to win a medal in Tokyo. The team has shown good consistency in competing with the best teams in the world over the last two years," he said.
However, Oltmans warned against needless panicking in pressure situations.
"India has already shown they can beat teams like Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands. However, doing it at the Olympics will be a different matter. The decisive factor when you are trying to win such a tournament is the mentality of the team.
"You cannot panic if you are behind in a game or get overexcited when you are ahead. You have to be in control of each situation,” Oltmans said.
The Dutch coach anticipates that the weather conditions in Tokyo will be another key factor.
"In terms of physical fitness all the top teams in the world are at the same level so no team has an obvious advantage, but the weather conditions will be more favourable for India as they are used to that type of climate.
"The weather will definitely be harsher for the European teams, and they will have to adjust to it." Oltmans was head coach when India reached the quarterfinals in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He believes that the team has made headway since then.
"Preparing the team to secure a medal in the Tokyo Olympics was always the main objective since I joined as High Performance Director at Hockey India in 2013, and then became Chief Coach of the Men’s Team in 2015.
"India has made progress in that regard with their current standing, and Hockey India has created the conditions for this to happen through its professional setup.
"You need a good development plan, but you also need the resources to execute a plan. Hockey India and SAI have played a big part in creating and executing this plan to develop hockey in India," he added.
India has not won an Olympic medal in the sport since 1980. News source PTI
Inter-Provincial Cup: Porterfield century leads North West Warriors to a 4 wicket victory over Munster Reds
CORK – A brilliant batting performance from William Porterfield guided the North West Warriors to victory over Munster Reds at The Mardyke on Tuesday.
Man of the Match Porterfield required a few overs to find his rhythm before crafting a fabulous innings of 110 from 123 balls. He smashed 14 fours and 2 sixes as he led from the front and powered the Warriors team to a comfortable victory.
The Warriors will be delighted with the run chase, after being set 290 for victory – breaching the target with 17 balls left.
Graham Kennedy hit an unbeaten 52 off 48, with contributions all the way down the batting order. The Reds tried hard, but some ordinary fielding at times let the pressure off at crucial points.
William McClintock brought up the win in style with a nonchalant six flicked off his pads.
Earlier in the day the Reds seemed to have the momentum after half-centuries to Murray Commins, skipper Tyrone Kane and Matt Ford – and a quick unbeaten 49 from Fionn Hand.
While early wickets perished and the Reds top order struggled to get started, their top-scorer in competition, Murray Commins looked like he was batting on a different pitch as he hit expansive shots all over the ground in his innings of 79 from 99 deliveries.
Reds’ skipper Tyrone Kane brought up his half-century off 58 balls, Kane hit five sixes in his 78 which came off 68 deliveries and the momentum he gave his team was carried on by Ford and Hand. The duo added an unbroken 64-run partnership from just 32 balls, punishing the Warriors bowlers at will.
The hosts side’s 289-6 from 50 overs easily surpassed their previous best team total of 219 this year, and set up a brilliant run chase.
For the Warriors team, Craig Young bowled well with figures of 3-48 while Andy McBrine claimed 2-44.
The experience and power of the Warriors proved to make the ultimate difference as the Reds did not do themselves justice in the field.
Munster Reds v North West Warriors, Inter-Provincial Cup, Cork, 15 June 2021
Reds 289-6 (50 overs; M Commins 79, T Kane 78, M Ford 53*; C Young 3-48)
Warriors 292-6 (47.1 overs; W Porterfield 110, G Kennedy 52*; F Hand 2-48)
Bombay High Court sets aside arbitration award that required BCCI to pay Rs 4,800 crore to Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd
Mumbai, Jun 16 The Bombay High Court on Wednesday set aside an arbitration award that directed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to pay over Rs 4,800 crore to Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd (DCHL) over the alleged illegal termination of the latter's IPL franchise team, Deccan Chargers Hyderabad, from the Indian Premier League (IPL).
A single-bench presided over by Justice Gautam Patel "set aside" the award that had been passed in July last year by a sole arbitrator appointed by the high court to ascertain if the termination of the franchise during the fifth IPL season in 2012 was illegal.
The arbitrator had held the termination illegal and awarded DCHL a compensation of Rs 4,814.67 crore plus 10 per cent interest that was to be computed from 2012.
The detailed order from the high court is awaited. News source PTI
Southampton is boiling hot, expecting both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to play: Legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar
New Delhi, Jun 16 Legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar believes that India will go in with both Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin against New Zealand in the World Test Championship final as Southampton's "boiling hot" weather is going to ensure that the pitch dries up progressively and assists spinners.
Gavaskar is part of the match's commentary panel and is currently in Southampton with first-hand knowledge about the pitch and conditions for the match starting June 18.
"In Southampton, it's been boiling hot over the last few days so the pitch will definitely be dry and help spin as the match progresses, so yes both Ashwin and Jadeja will play," Gavaskar told PTI in an exclusive interview.
For Gavaskar, it's not just bowling but all-round abilities that give India the kind of balance they need going into a marquee match like this.
"That (Ashwin and Jadeja together) also gives depth to the batting as well as give a fine balance to the bowling attack. For the series later (vs England) much will depend on the weather and pitch conditions." While New Zealand will be on a high after their series win against England, Gavaskar doesn't feel that the Indian team is under-prepared either just because it didn't get any practice matches.
"(In) today's tours there are barely one or two practice games before the Test series begins and the Indian team has had intra-squad matches so they have had that practice.
"The team is a good blend of youth and experience and most of the players have been to England several times so they know the conditions and what to expect," said the former India captain.
Ashwin is expected to play a significant role with his experience. Gavaskar feels that watching the Tamil Nadu tweaker is as fascinating an experience as it was playing alongside Erapalli Prasanna and also having watched another match-winner Harbhajan Singh in action.
"They are all awesome bowlers. Prasanna is called the wily fox because he had this wonderful ability to trick the batsmen into playing bad shots. Apart from varying degrees of off-spin, he had a deceptive floater where he got batsmen clean bowled or caught at slip with the ball that went straight through.
"Harbhajan has the same clever variations plus he had the doosra which often turned quite sharply from leg to off with little visible change in action. Wonderful bowler." "Ashwin has all these plus he has added the flicker or carrom ball and is bold enough to actually bowl a leg spinner to fox the batsman." But what separates these champion bowlers from others is their big hearts while facing world class batters.
"I was privileged to play with Prasanna and I am fortunate to be able to watch Harbhajan and Ashwin win matches for India." Over the years in England, save skipper Virat Kohli, who absolutely dominated the English bowling during the 2018 tour, odd hundreds by Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay (both in 2014) or Cheteshwar Pujara (2018) have been indicators that consistent success in conditions conducive to seam and swing is missing.
What is it that makes Kohli so special across conditions? "The influence of one-day cricket had made some batsmen play the ball on the rise or through the line as it is called. Most times, they get away where the ball doesn't move but in England where it moves, it's important to get closer to the ball," he said.
Playing "on the rise" or "through the line" in cricketing parlance means when a batsman makes contact with the ball even before it has reached the top of its bounce.
"Virat Kohli hardly ever plays through the line even on flat pitches and he plays late covering any movement off the pitch and that's why he is successful on all types of surfaces.
"In the recent series against England in India he didn't get a century but his 60 odd in Chennai was a wonderful exhibition on how to play spin bowling. He was smelling the ball and that's the hallmark of all great batsmen," the master batsman said.
Gavaskar is also confident that Rohit Sharma will be able to replicate his 2019 white-ball form in England and the century he scored in tough conditions in Southampton against South Africa in the World Cup opener would give him confidence.
"We saw Rohit Sharma score five incredible hundreds in the World Cup in England two years back.
"The century he got against South Africa was on a tough pitch and cold conditions and he made the adjustments beautifully. Now two years later he is even more experienced so don't be surprised if he repeats that performance in this series too." For one of the most respected voices in world cricket, the emergence of Rishabh Pant as a pure match-winner at No 6 has given Indian team a chance to check out various bowling options depending on conditions.
"Rishabh Pant has now got even better in shot selection as we saw in Australia. His batting allows the team to go in with an extra spinner or pacer. Expect some game changing innings from him in the summer." Proper shot selection will be key to success.
"As long as Shubman, Rohit, Virat, Cheteshwar and the other batsmen get their shot selection right, India will get enough runs on the board," he concluded. News source PTI
New Zealand cricketer B J Watling hoping his 'one hell of a journey' ends with World Test Championship high
Southampton, Jun 16 New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman B J Watling is hoping to end his "one hell of a journey" in international cricket with a triumph in the World Test Championship final against India beginning here on Friday.
Watling is set to play his 75th and farewell Test after recovering from a back injury that made him miss the second Test against England last week.
“I'm just looking forward to playing another test match. It is an exciting one, and I'm certainly pretty pumped to be in the final. I'm just going into it how I do with every other test – going through the processes of trying to win a test match," the 35-year-old was quoted as saying by stuff.co.nz.
Watling made his debut in 2009 and few years later established himself as a batsman in the middle-order.
He is thankful that he did not have any major injury issues in his long career.
"I think as a cricketer you have the odd niggle every now and then. The back, it's been pretty good to be fair for most of my career.
"There's been a couple of instances when it's just played up a bit, but I think you learn how to manage those types of injuries, and I'm thankful that I haven't been majorly injured over my time.
"I've certainly enjoyed the time I have spent with this team playing cricket for New Zealand. It's been a hell of a journey." New Zealand last week won their first Test series in England in 22 years by outplaying the hosts at Edgbaston.
“It's obviously a massive opportunity to win a title, but I think what we've been doing leading into this, winning the games at home this summer, and then obviously winning a test series against England, it's certainly been fantastic.
“We'll try and do our best and try to carry on the form that we've been playing in for a reasonably long period,” Watling added. News source PTI
Looking forward to hit the ground: former Mumbai spinner Ankeet Chavan after being cleared to play
Mumbai, Jun 16 Cleared to play again by the BCCI after his ban for involvement in the 2013 spot-fixing scandal ended, former Mumbai left-arm spinner Ankeet Chavan says he cannot wait to hit the ground even though COVID-19 and the Mumbai monsoon are in his way for now.
The 35-year-old was given the go ahead to resume cricket by the BCCI on Tuesday.
"The ban has been completely over as of September 2020. I am open for whatever (comes) my way. I am really looking forward to getting on the ground as soon as possible," Chavan told PTI on late Tuesday night, hours after the development.
"Unfortunately, because of the pandemic (COVID-19) and the rains, the grounds would probably be closed but whichever opportunity I get to be back at the ground, I will be really eager for that," he said.
Chavan, who never represented India, was initially suspended for life for his involvement in IPL spot-fixing scandal in 2013 along with S Sreesanth.
Last year, BCCI Ombudsman Justice (Retd) DK Jain had reduced the quantum of sentence for both Sreesanth and Chavan to seven years from the life ban imposed by the BCCI.
In a mail to Chavan, BCCI Interim CEO Hemang Amin wrote, "As per the directions of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court, your representation for modification of the BCCI order, imposing a life ban on you was placed before the Ld. Ombudsman of BCCI." "The Ld. Ombudsman, has restricted the ban imposed on you from life ban to 7 years, with effect from 13 September 2013.
"In view of the order dated 3 May 2021, the ban imposed on you therefore ended on 13 September 2020," the mail from Amin read.
While the copy of the order regarding Sreesanth had arrived even before the speedster's ban ended in September 2020, Chavan had to wait till May 3 to get his order.
Earlier in the month, Chavan had urged the Mumbai Cricket Association to write to the BCCI to give him the clearance letter. News source PTI
David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins among seven Australian Indian Premier League returnees to pull out of West Indies and Bangladesh tours
Melbourne, Jun 16 Seven top Australian cricketers who recently played in the IPL have pulled out of the country's white-ball tour of West Indies and Bangladesh.
The two tours are part of team's preparations for the T20 World Cup later this year.
David Warner, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams have requested not to be considered for the tours for various reasons while Steve Smith has been rested to fully recover from an elbow complaint which flared during the IPL, Cricket Australia said in a statement.
The move will leave coach Justin Langer without seven of his best players four months out from the T20 World Cup to be held in October and November.
Cricket Australia on Wednesday named a 18-man squad for the twin tours. Australia play five T20 Internationals and three ODIs between July 9 and 24. The five-match T20 tour of Bangladesh is yet to be confirmed.
"The tours are subject to agreement on bio-security arrangements and relevant government approvals," the CA said in the statement.
Cummins, Maxwell, Warner, Stoinis and Richardson were released from hotel quarantine late last month following the suspension of IPL and Australia's subsequent border closure for all arrivals from India, which led to the Australian contingent spending more than a week in the Maldives before they could return home.
Richardson left hotel quarantine around three weeks earlier than the rest of the IPL contingent after he, Adam Zampa and AJ Tye flew out of India before the federal government's travel ban had come into effect. Richardson, who has a young son, has declined to tour, while Zampa and Tye will go.
Jason Behrendorff, Moises Henriques and Riley Meredith have all agreed to go for the tour despite also being part of the IPL contingent that recently left hotel quarantine having returned home via the Maldives.
National selector Trevor Hohns said they "are naturally disappointed not to have all players available for the Australian team at this time however the NSP respects the decisions of those who have opted out of this tour.
“Steve Smith was unavailable for selection due to an elbow injury and will now be able to use this time to fully recover ahead of the World Cup and home Ashes Series." Hohns, however, said the missing out of some of the top players will present opportunities to others to push for selection in the Australian T20 World Cup squad.
“International tours in the time of Covid-19 undoubtedly present many additional challenges for athletes. This is a great chance for these players to make a case for the World Cup and all are considered very real prospects of making that tournament by performing well across these tours.” The squad is due to depart for the West Indies on June 28 for five T20 Internationals at Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia followed by three One-Day Internationals at Kensington Stadium in Barbados.
If confirmed, the team will then play five T20 Internationals against Bangladesh.
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Dan Christian, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
Thinking outside the box will get more women into the sports ecosystem - Aditi Mutatkar, Program Head, Simply Sport
Sports is not just a profession for elite athletes to gain worldwide fame, recognition, it’s a lifestyle that teaches valuable life skills that equips children to deal with the challenges of life. From setbacks, fighting spirit, humility, teamwork and integrity, sports encompass all these qualities and more. That’s why every child deserves a fair opportunity in participating and learning from sports.
Few others are bigger believers of fair opportunities and female participation in sports than Aditi Mutatkar, 5 time national badminton champion who has represented India at the World Championships, Asian and Commonwealth Games and has made into the badminton news innumerable times. In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Aditi speaks about the beginning of her badminton journey, overcoming challenges, special achievements, female participation in sports, importance of mental health and her advice for young athletes.
Q 1) How did your journey in badminton begin and what motivated you to take up the sport professionally? Did you also face any challenges?
I began playing at the age of nine and I lived in Bombay at that time. My father used to play badminton as a hobby and he would take me out to play because I was a hyperactive kid and my parents didn’t know how to use my energy and considered sport as a good option. I started playing with him and it started with outdoor badminton at the beginning and I picked it up pretty well from day 1. That’s where my parents thought that I might have a spark to pick up the sport. My father enrolled me in some competitions and I reached the semifinals of one of my first tournaments without any formal training. That’s where my parents decided that I should get professional training and see how it goes. My professional training began at Andheri Sports Complex during my summer holidays and after training for two months my coach suggested that I enter into a state tournament. I won that tournament and that’s how it started for me. From there on I kept winning more often and it made me realize that badminton is a sport that I want to play seriously.
My father was a banker, my mother was a school teacher at that time and I have a younger sister as well, so in the beginning it was tough financially for a young family in Bombay because a sport like badminton has expensive racquets, coaching is expensive and one shuttle is 75 rupees. It was tough financially until I landed a job with Bharat Petroleum at the age of 16 but the first two years of financing my career made my parents move to Pune from Bombay as it was cheaper. That was a major challenge at the beginning of my career.
Q 2) You have competed in a number of international tournaments, representing India. Which is your most special achievement so far?
The Bitburger Open Final in 2008 was a very important tournament for me because it was the first Grand Prix event that I played a final in. Only Saina (Nehwal) had played a final in such an event so that was an important achievement for me individually. As a team event, the Commonwealth Games silver medal that we won in Delhi where I contributed by playing the women’s singles with Saina. Being a part of that team and winning the silver medal, having never won it before was a historic achievement. These two are my major accomplishments that I feel happy about.
Q 3) You are the head of women in sports department at Simply Sport Foundation, what is your focus area and how do you plan to achieve it?
If we speak specifically about the women in sport initiative, the idea is to firstly approach it in a very methodical way. It starts with doing proper research about what is really going on at the grassroot level with regards to participation in sports for women. We don’t just want to look at athletes participation but the ecosystem in general. If you look at the numbers at an administrative level, coaches, support staff then you will notice there are a lot fewer women as compared to men. The idea is to first understand the problem which is not that easy at the India level. India is a complicated country and every part of it brings its own set of problems. The North East is completely different culturally as compared to the west. We have to understand the issues at every level on a country wide scale to come up with solutions that make sense. The idea is to first do an extensive research project, come up with a report and have objective recommendations which can actually be implemented rather than something theoretical. Once we do that, we will be able to come up with specific programmes for specific geographies in India which can help get more women into the sports ecosystem.
Q 4) We have seen young girls, especially in rural India, face immense social challenges while taking up sports. What needs to be done to encourage more girls/women to be involved in sports?
We have to lead by example, for example: if you look at Manipur as one of the states that do really well in sports despite not having a proper structure in place, I believe it comes from the fact that they don’t have a patriarchal society. They have football tournaments for ordinary mothers who come and play and I think the culture makes a lot of difference. If you have your own mothers, middle aged women actively playing on the grounds, it makes a difference in how a young girl or boy looks at sports. Especially when it comes to rural girls, it’s the mothers who will have to take up the challenge and start pushing themselves in some way or another into sports. It’s a dream to see more women on the grounds which is not just a rural issue but an urban one as well. You don’t see many women playing at Shivaji Park in Dadar compared to men, so it’s a huge expectation to see more mothers and middle aged women playing sports. The other issue in rural areas is that it’s very difficult for mothers to send their daughters because there is always an issue of public safety as there is an issue with transport systems. Having a playground or a center is not enough, there also needs to be safe transport to take them to and fro. There are many things that can be done but we need proper research that is geography and area specific. It cannot be a central research that’s applicable all over India because it will just not work, India is too complicated in that sense. We have to think outside the box but these could be some of the ways of getting girls to play first, as that’s the first step towards entering the ecosystem and then making a career.
Q 5) As someone who believes in giving children a fair opportunity in sports, what is required to make India a sporting nation?
It's quite a difficult question but I think we are getting better. Women are watching more sports than ever and taking keen interest in sports as evident by various studies done on broadcast. There is also a rise in awareness in terms of fitness as you now see people hitting the road, running and cycling. I think for us to become a sporting nation, the first thing is to get more girls to play because half of India's population consists of females and if they are not participating and are confined only to the kitchen it won't help. By participation, I don't just mean competitive participation but in the form of a lifestyle. For example, in Manipur you see boys and girls playing football and it isn't considered a big deal there which you still don't see happening even in big cities. This has to stop and should become a norm to have as many girls and women on the playground playing shoulder to shoulder with boys. Another way of looking at this would be having sports in schools including the government ones as well. I have had some experience working with the government schools at the grassroot level when I used to work with Art of Play Foundation before Simply Sport. We used to make curriculums for them regarding physical education and I have seen how physical education is looked at that level. Even if you look at our sports policy and all of those things, we are so much about the competition that we have lost sight of sport as a way of life. Until sports becomes a way of life we cannot become a country with a culture of sports. We have millions and millions of children in schools today, more in the government schools than the private schools therefore, till sports don't reach there and we don't have proper curriculum and proper access of sports to the population especially in rural India, things won't change. I think schools are the best ways to get more and more young people to participate in sports, making it a way of life for them and giving them the access to sport not just in a competitive way but as a part of their life. Hence I feel schools are one of the ways to make sure sports reach more and more people. Also, it is important to get more girls into playing as 50% of the population not playing is definitely an issue. We are already into leagues and such things are slowly coming up in India and I feel it's something really great because it's not just a way of supporting local talent which otherwise would go unnoticed but also a way of making revenues and making it profitable for everyone involved. Therefore I feel things like that could help but it's a deep philosophical question we need to first define culture before we solve this issue but things like these could help.
Q 6) How important of a role does mental health play, not just in achieving a favourable result but also for keeping the spirit high while recuperating from injuries and setbacks?
Mental health is very crucial and you have to be open to it as well. Lots of athletes are actually just not open to putting themselves up for it but I think it's very important. Also, especially when you are going through injuries or downtime in any way when it comes to sport mental health actually plays a very important role. Yes there is professional mental help that you should avail but also the support ecosystem of the athlete is extremely important. The conversation you have with your parents and friends along with the kind of support system that you build around yourself as an athlete is quite important. I think if the channels are open there, it makes a lot of things easier. For example when I was injured I kept my channels with my friends and parents open and was able to discuss anxiety and other things with them. My friends were there with me to keep my spirits high and give me a distraction in a way where I could come back from that positively. I think the ecosystem that athletes build around them and keeping that positive is extremely important in addition to of course the professional counselling that is now more easily available. Mental health is crucial and especially in the times we live in, there are so many pressures that teenagers go through now more than when I was a teenager because there is constant comparison and social media. The money in sports that has come now because of the sponsorships has also led to comparisons such as who is doing what and who is getting what in terms of financial support. I feel athletes today have added pressure compared to when we were teenagers making the issue of mental health all more important.
Q 7) What would be your advice to aspiring athletes? Do you think there should be a lesser focus on ‘winning’ and more emphasis on enjoying the journey?
Yes. I have been there as an athlete when I had compared myself to the next best or to the fact that I was number two to Saina (Nehwal) for a long time as a junior and then as a senior as well. It's extremely difficult to be at the number two position and to still keep a very objective understanding of your own self but I truly believe that you have to enjoy the journey when you are at it rather than looking back at it and saying I could have done it in a better way. Yes, winning is extremely important in sport. I would lie if I say it's great to be number two, no it's never great to be number two. You always work towards being the number one but I would also say that being number two is not as bad at all. It still means a lot and I know the way society looks at all these things but it's very difficult in sports to be at number two or three in the country and it's not a small achievement. Every athlete will have their own journey and till you respect your journey and your achievement it is extremely difficult to find respect on the other side. What happens is if you are number one or number two, the way society will look at you will keep changing all the time. When you are number one they will try to pull you down and when you are at two they will belittle you. It's just that people around you will always have something to say so it's very important to have that own assessment of yourself that too a very objective one. I remember as a junior athlete I would always find myself saying 'hey Saina has become World Number ten and I'm World number thirty and it's not good and if she is at ten I should be atleast number eleven' which was so wrong because I was still world number thirty and there are not many athletes in badminton who have reached that level but at that time there was nobody to tell me that and make me realise the potential of what I was achieving at that point of time even if I was not Saina. Therefore I feel it's extremely important to enjoy your journey and as an athlete you will see it whenever you stop playing and when you come out of it as an athlete you will realise you are so much more equipped than anybody else to cope with things that are going to come to you because sports teaches you so many things. There are too many life lessons that you learn and if you are aware of that and you respect that, you will succeed after that journey of being an athlete as well. You have to start respecting wherever you are. Of course, work at being the best you can be but compare yourself to yourself as much as possible rather than the next player out there. It's important to enjoy the journey and have self respect and have a very objective assessment of your own career rather than a competitive assessment of it. Have fun with it as you are there because it doesn't really last long for athletes since it ends around the age of thirty when most of our peers are starting their journeys. An athlete’s career is for a really short time and one should have fun with it.
I prepare for match by watching videos of opposition batsmen: Afghanistan cricketer Rashid Khan
Karachi, Jun 16 Star Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan has revealed the secret to his success, saying he watches videos of the opposition batsmen to outfox them in the game.
"I take time out to watch videos of all the batsmen I will be bowling to in a match to find out their weaknesses and use that during the match,” Rashid said on Cricket Pakistan YouTube channel.
The wily leg-spinner, who is in high demand in T20 leagues around the world, plays for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League and has been signed up by Lahore Qalandars for the remaining matches of the ongoing Pakistan Super League.
In the matches he has appeared in for Lahore, he has already left a big impact in two of them with ball and bat taking five for 20 in one match.
"I will try to bowl at a good line and length, keep things simple and enjoy the match,” said Rashid.
He also talked about how he dealt with bowling to top batsmen especially Virat Kohli, Babar Azam and Kane Williamson.
"Babar is a world-class player but I always assess my strengths first and bowl accordingly and that is why I make it a point to videos of batsmen,” he added.
“In my opinion it’s quite difficult (to say who the best is) but no doubt, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Babar Azam are world-class players. These are the kind of players who know their limits and shots.
"They have a process to start and finish their innings, which is something I really like about them,” the Afghanistan player said.
He avoided making any comparisons between the IPL and PSL pointing out that while he had been playing in the IPL for long, he had only started playing in the PSL.
"I have only played three of four matches (in PSL) as compared to IPL where I have been playing for five years. I will be in a better position to say something when I play more matches of the PSL at different grounds and in the presence of a crowd." The experienced spinner said he was looking forward to playing a proper bilateral series against Pakistan later this year in the UAE.
"I’m looking forward to that series and hopefully we will see some good cricket,” he added. News source PTI
India has kept bar really high, will be a tough opposition: Cricketer Ross Taylor
Southampton, Jun 15 Senior batsman Ross Taylor on Tuesday said India has set the bar really high and considering their bench strength, it will be an extremely tough battle for his team during the World Test Championship final beginning June 18.
"You go through the Indian line-up, all world-class players all through and whatever side they do decide to go with, they will leave out some world-class players as well. We know whatever XI we face will be very tough," Taylor said during a virtual press conference.
"India has been a world no.1 side and they have kept the bar really high for a long period of time, everyone in the world had to catch up to and I don't see any difference, yes we had a couple of Tests here but playing India in home, away or neutral venue will be a tough opposition." Taylor said India have a "balanced side and their depth has been amazing." "India has been a fantastic side for a long period of time, not only the batters but also the bowlers. They won against Australia during a home summer, it was great to watch...," he said.
"They had a lot of success over here as well. I am sure in their warm-up games and bowling at the nets, they would have enjoyed the swing and bounce that the duke ball has.
"... I am sure their warm-up game would have been a lot like playing a Test match." While India didn't get any game time, New Zealand geared up for the WTC final with a rare Test win in England during a two-match series. Taylor termed it as an "ideal preparation".
"It is an ideal preparation having two tests against England in these conditions, we are very lucky to manage to get these two matches and obviously the guys got some match preparation in these conditions, can't think of anything better," he said.
"Playing England in these conditions was a great Test, we learned a lot but as with everything in cricket, whatever you do first, you gotta do well and the team that puts the best foot forward will go a long away to sitting out in what hopefully is a great series." "...the whole New Zealand side is excited and it is going great occasion to be playing against India who has been world no 1 for 5-6 years. They going to be really hard opposition to play against but at the same time we are looking forward to that." Asked if New Zealand will be invited for longer Test series after their achievement of reaching the WTC final, Taylor said: "As players, we love playing Test cricket and we would love to play three-match series but if it was a difference between playing a white ball series and playing just two-test series, we definitely take two-test series, it is better than nothing.
"It is a moving base world cricket at the moment with COVID and quarantines and bubbles and things like that, so being realistic, with a 3 or 4 match series, I never played one of them.
"I can't see it happening in future but hopefully we can play more three-match series to test ourselves." News source PTI