News Cricket

'Why would you show your neck to the bowler?': Sehwag on use of neck guards in helmets

Staff Writer Updated: 22 August, 2019, 2:52 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Steve Smith was hit on the side of his neck by a vicious bouncer from Jofra Archer. He had to leave the field after the incident but came back to resume his innings after a while. The right hand batsman added just 17 runs and was dismissed on 92. Smith was ruled out of the second innings and was replaced by Marnus Labuschagne, who came on as substitute.

Following the blow, there were calls from former cricketers to make the neck guard in helmets mandatory. Virender Sehwag, however, is not convinced with this idea.

Speaking at the launch of a new mobile app ‘The Selector’ in New Delhi, Sehwag said, “Why would you show your neck to the bowler? You have a bat in your hand and you have a helmet over your head. Make sure you don’t get the ball to hit your neck. I never even used a chest guard when I was batting.”

The neck guards were introduced after the death of Phillip Hughes who was hit on the side of his neck by a bouncer from Sean Abbott.

When asked about limiting the use of bouncers following the incident, Sehwag sided with the bowlers.

“It is not that every ball bowled can be a bouncer. There is an ICC rule on the limit of bouncers that you can bowl. Leave something for the bowlers,” said Sehwag.

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News Cricket

Ricky Ponting or MS Dhoni? Michael Hussey picks the best ODI captain

Staff Writer Updated: 20 September, 2019, 2:34 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni and Ricky Ponting have an excellent track-record as captains of their respective national teams. They went on to win multiple ICC trophies during their tenures. While the former Aussie skipper won the World Cup in 2003 and 2007, along with two Champions Trophy titles, MS Dhoni won the T20 World Cup in 2007, Fifty Over World Cup in 2011 and the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013.

Dhoni has also won the Asia Cup in 2010 and 2016 and is the only captain in the world to win all the big ICC trophies.

Michael Hussey, who has played under both of them, was asked to pick the best skipper between Ricky Ponting and MS Dhoni.

Michael Hussey made his debut for Australia under Ponting in 2005, while he went on to play under MS Dhoni in the Indian Premier League.

“It’s a tough one, well, I will have to say, Ricky. I never played in ODIs with MS Dhoni, so I will go with Ricky,” Hussey was quoted as saying by Times Now.

News Cricket

India grooming backups for failing Rishabh Pant – Chief Selector

Staff Writer Updated: 20 September, 2019, 2:00 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant is failing miserably in the shorter formats of the game. In the second T20I against South Africa, his quick dismissal was criticized by leading experts.

BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad, who has always backed Rishabh, has said some players are being groomed as Pant's backup.

“We are monitoring the workload of Rishabh. Of course, we have been grooming backups across all formats. We have the young KS Bharath doing well in the longer format for India A. We also have Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson doing well in the shorter formats for India ‘A’ and domestic cricket,” Prasad told The Indian Express.

Rishabh Pant (4) carelessly pulled Bjorn Fortuin (1-32) straight to short fine leg, resulting in yet another cheap dismissal.

“I have already said that post World Cup we have been concentrating on the progress of Rishabh. We need to be patient with him, considering the immense talent that he possesses,” MSK Prasad added.

News Cricket

I have a huge amount of respect for what Virat has achieved as a player and captain – Simon Katich

Staff Writer Updated: 20 September, 2019, 1:56 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Simon Katich, the newly appointed coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), has lauded Virat Kohli. According to him, Virat Kohli’s records speak for him and his contribution as a player and skipper has been massive. The right hand batsman surpassed Rohit Sharma in the list of leading run-scorers in the shortest format of the game during the course of second T20I between India and South Africa.

Katich rated Virat Kohli's century in Perth as one of the best he has ever seen.

“Kohli’s records speak for him. I have a huge amount of respect for what he has achieved not only as a player but also as the captain of India. What I really like about him is the fact that he is super competitive. I also had the pleasure of watching him score a hundred at Perth last year in the Test series at what was like an old WACA wicket. It was one of the best Test hundreds I have seen,” Simon Katich said as quoted by India Today.

News Cricket

I wanted to retire after being left out of 50-over World Cup squad in 2007 – Gautam Gambhir

Staff Writer Updated: 20 September, 2019, 1:53 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Gautam Gambhir will always be remembered for his twin innings in the finale of T20 World in 2007 and fifty over World Cup in 2011. His knocks were one of the main reasons behind Team India's triumph in South Africa and Mumbai. He retired from all forms of cricket in 2018. However, he was thinking of bidding adieu in 2007. The southpaw, who made his ODI debut in 2003, couldn't make it to the World Cup squad in 2007.

He couldn't handle the rejection and was on the verge of quitting.

“In 2007, when I missed the 50-over World Cup, that was the lowest moment in my cricketing career. I had given up on cricket. Before that, I had missed both U-14 and U-19 World Cups. In 2007 I thought I was the closest to play the World Cup, but when they did not include me in the squad, I had given up on cricket,” Gambhir was quoted as saying in India Today.

Just when things looked over for him, he was picked in the Indian squad for the T20 World Cup in 2007.

“Then I was chosen in Twenty-20 World Cup in 2007 and I got dismissed for a duck in the first match against Pakistan. But as fate has it, I finished as the leading run-scorer in the World Cup and we ended up winning the tournament so one should never give up,” the veteran added.

News Cricket

Rahul Dravid joins Team India ahead of 3rd T20I

Staff Writer Updated: 20 September, 2019, 1:41 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The governing body of Indian cricket posted a photo of Rahul Dravid who paid a visit to Team India ahead of the third T20I in Bengaluru. He met head coach Ravi Shastri and players during the course of their practice session.

The BCCI posted the photo on Twitter with the caption: "When two greats of Indian Cricket meet."

The former Indian skipper was appointed as the head of cricket at NCA (National Cricket Academy) earlier this year.

After taking retirement from cricket, Dravid has worked in various capacities. He was associated with Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils. The legendary batsman also worked with U-19 and India A teams.

Meanwhile, Ravi Shastri was recently reappointed as the head coach of the Indian team for a two-year period, ending with the 2021 T20 World Cup in India.

News Cricket

No question of sacking Virat Kohli as skipper of Royal Challengers Bangalore – Mike Hesson

Staff Writer Updated: 20 September, 2019, 12:43 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Royal Challengers Bangalore have been one of the most famous franchises of the cash rich league but they have never tasted success since the inception of the tournament in 2008. Even Virat Kohli, who is their longest serving skipper, has failed to lead them to glory in the league. In the last three seasons, the performance of RCB has been worst.

The owners of the team made some key changes ahead of the new season in 2020. Gary Kirsten and Ashish Nehra were told to leave while former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson was appointed as director.

He has ruled out any captaincy change for the under-performing team.

“We don’t have that perception that Virat controls things. But maybe he has had his learnings from the past (mistakes) while moving forward. There has been no question mark over Virat’s captaincy during last couple of weeks (of discussions),” the 44-year-old Hesson said during a media interaction on Thursday.

“…we have been very much aligned and he has been more than happy to take our advice from our experience,” he added.

News Cricket

Sunil Gavaskar wants MS Dhoni to retire before T20 World Cup in 2020

Staff Writer Updated: 20 September, 2019, 12:23 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni has sealed lips when it comes to his future with Team India. The former skipper, who has not represented India since the last edition of the World Cup in England and Wales, is making everyone wait.

Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, the two most powerful personalities in Indian cricket, haven't touched this subject either.

Meanwhile, former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar wants MS Dhoni to retire from international arena. He believes only Dhoni can speak about his association with the national team.

Gavaskar further added India should start preparing for life after the veteran Indian batsman.

He pointed out that Dhoni would be 39 at the time of the next year's T20 World Cup and its time for him to draw curtains on his glorious career.

"Nobody knows know what is in MSD's mind. Only he can clarify what he thinks his future with Indian cricket is. But I think with him being 38 now, India should be looking ahead. Because by the time the next T20 World Cup comes around he will be 39 years old," Sunil Gavaskar was quoted as saying.

"His value to the side is always going to be fantastic. Not just the runs he will score or the stumpings he will effect. But his overall presence on the field will be calming for the captain because the captain gets the benefit of his views. So that is a huge plus. But I do believe the time has come," Gavaskar added.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli is breaking records as skipper because of Dhoni and Rohit – Gambhir

Staff Writer Updated: 20 September, 2019, 12:13 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Gautam Gambhir has some kind of enmity with Virat Kohli. He has time and again targeted the current Indian skipper for no reason. In his latest attack on Virat, the Member of Parliament has stated that he is able to lead India efficiently because of players like MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma in the squad.

"Still a long way to go for him. Kohli was very good in the last World Cup but he has a long way to go. He captains so well in international cricket because he has got Rohit Sharma, he had MS Dhoni for a long time. Captaincy credentials are noticed when you are leading a franchise, when you do not have other players supporting you," Gambhir told reporters while interacting with the students of a university.

"I have been honest whenever I have spoken about this. See what Rohit Sharma has achieved for Mumbai Indians, see what Dhoni has achieved for Chennai Super Kings. If you compare that with RCB, the results are there for everyone to see", he added.

News F1

Hamilton looking to extend F1 lead at Singapore Grand Prix

AP Updated: 20 September, 2019, 11:07 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Lewis Hamilton aims to turn up the heat in his bid for a sixth Formula One championship at this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver heads into Sunday's race with a 63-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas.

As with last year's race, drivers can expect sweltering heat and humidity. In addition to the heat, a thick haze has set in over the city-state with advisories issued from the national government over "unhealthy" air conditions.

Hamilton will be hoping for a repeat of the 2018 race here when he won comfortably from pole position to extend his championship lead.

He was on a major roll entering last year's GP, having won four of the past five races. While he already has eight wins this season, the British driver last won at the Hungarian GP in early August.

"The offset schedule and the climate make it a demanding weekend for the team," Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said of the night race. "Temperatures in the garage can easily reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) or more with high humidity levels as well. It's a tough environment to work in and it's equally challenging for the drivers and the car itself."

Hamilton has won here the last two years. A win on Sunday would move him a step closer to his third straight championship and sixth overall, moving him just one away from equaling Michael Schumacher's all-time record of seven titles.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc heads into Singapore having won the previous two races this season. After his first-ever F1 victory in Spa at the Belgian GP, the 21-year-old Leclerc became the first Ferrari driver to win the Italian GP since Fernando Alonso in 2010.

Leclerc, who is now fourth in the standings, finished ninth for Sauber here last year.

"Singapore is maybe the toughest track for us drivers physically, just because of the heat and the humidity," Leclerc said. "After two positive weekends in Belgium and Italy, the race in Singapore doesn't look as good on paper for us, because of the very different circuit layout, featuring lots of slow corners and fewer straights ... but we will give our all to have a good result."

News F1

F1 driver Kubica to leave Williams at end of season

AP Updated: 20 September, 2019, 11:04 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Formula One driver Robert Kubica says he has decided to leave his Williams team at the end of the season after a widely praised return to the sport.

"I will not continue with Williams after the end of the season," the Pole said Thursday at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Kubica made a return to F1 with Williams after a serious injury at the Ronde di Andora rally in 2011 in which his right forearm was partially severed.

In November last year, Kubica was announced as a Williams driver for 2019.

However, the 34-year-old has taken only one point after 14 races this season.

"Definitely it has been the biggest achievement of my life to come back," Kubica said. "To go through what happened and still manage to race. Being back on the F1 grid was the best outcome I could imagine."

News Tennis

Federer, McEnroe push for Laver Cup's place in team tennis

AP Updated: 20 September, 2019, 11:01 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Team events are having quite the resurgence on the men's tennis circuit, with three different competitions scheduled in the next four months. What's still unclear, though, is whether they can all co-exist in the long term.

"Something's got to shake out," John McEnroe acknowledged Thursday, ahead of captaining a six-man world team in the annual Laver Cup event.

The three-day Laver Cup, co-owned by and starring Roger Federer, started in 2017 while the International Tennis Federation sought a new format for the historic but ailing Davis Cup. It pits a team of European stars against a selection of players from the rest of the world.

The revamped Davis Cup arrives in November with 18 nations — though not Federer's Switzerland — playing over seven days in a single city, Madrid, to end the 2019 season.

Another team event launches the 2020 season — the inaugural 24-nation ATP Cup played Jan. 3-12 in Australia. Then there's the Tokyo Olympics as well, another addition to an already packed schedule.

Federer has committed to playing at the ATP Cup but hasn't made up his mind yet on the Olympics. He is confident, though, that there is room in the calendar for all three team events.

"Absolutely," Federer said Thursday, at the Europe squad's Laver Cup news conference in Geneva.

"There were places in the past for four different Davis Cup matches," Federer said, recalling the February-April-September-November fixtures he and Stan Wawrinka played to lift the 2014 trophy. "Now it's less than that" for the three separate team tournaments.

Since Switzerland won its first and only Davis Cup title, Federer has only played a single fixture to gain eligibility for the 2016 Olympics.

Few expect the 38-year-old Federer to fit a Davis Cup comeback into his selective schedule. He would likely get a wild-card exemption for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, if he decides to play there.

McEnroe noted there was no Olympic tennis for most of his career, during which he committed to the Davis Cup more than most peers.

"Davis Cup was an important part of my life and career, a chance to represent your country," he said, adding that the competition founded in 1900 was only recently "on life support."

Then came a flurry of team formats.

"(This) radical change finally took place after way too long," McEnroe said. "Now they have this, what's it called, ATP Cup. So we have three of them when it almost seemed like there was none."

News Football

Barcelona says it will surpass 1 billion euros in revenue

AP Updated: 20 September, 2019, 10:59 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Barcelona says it will become the first sports team in the world to surpass 1 billion euros ($1.15 billion) in revenue this season.

The Spanish club made the announcement on Thursday while presenting revenue of 990 million euros ($1.09 billion) for last season, also a record an 8% increase from the previous year.

It says the 1-billion-euro mark will be achieved a year earlier than projected.

Barcelona says its profits after taxes will reach 11 million euros ($12.1 million) this season, the ninth consecutive year with a positive result.

The club's revenues are expected to increase by 6% this season thanks in part to "an unprecedented commercial effort in sponsorship."

It says "forecasts indicate an increase of 9% in income for player transfers and loan, which consolidates this resource as a recurring source of income at both the club and in the football industry itself."

News Football

Kaka urges Neymar to stay at PSG, lead CL push

AP Updated: 20 September, 2019, 10:55 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

From lifting the World Cup to being named the world's best player, Kaka ascended the highs Neymar is still chasing.

So after more tumult in Neymar's career, Kaka has some advice for his fellow Brazilian:

— Stay at Paris Saint-Germain to lead the pursuit of Champions League glory, and the world player of the year accolades will follow.

— Keep on maturing and maybe the forward can win a World Cup to avoid being viewed as a failure for Brazil.

"Everybody wants to give some advice or an opinion about his life," Kaka said in an interview with The Associated Press. "He's just a 27-year-old guy, a lot of people of the same age make mistakes and improve with that."

But Kaka's opinions and advice could be worth listening to, even for Neymar.

After all, Kaka won the game's top individual honors in 2007 when he was named FIFA world player of the year and collected the Ballon d'Or after winning the Champions League with AC Milan.

Neymar, the world's most expensive player, is reeling from being jeered on his return to the PSG side last weekend after sitting out the opening four league games of the season as he pushed for a move back to Barcelona during the summer transfer window. He won't play in the Champions League until the third group-stage game because of a suspension.

"For him I think it's good to stay there in PSG for now," Kaka said at the FIFA20 video game launch. "I think it's good for him, for the club. I think PSG is always trying to build a great team to win a Champions League, so he can be the leader for this project and in my opinion, it's good. It will be a great year for him."

When the FIFA player awards are handed out on Monday, though, Neymar will be far from the Milan ceremony. He has never finished higher than third in the vote for the Ballon D'Or, and still lives in the shadow of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"What I believe that lacks in Neymar to accomplish the world's best player award is a big team accomplishment," Kaka said in London. "When he achieves this big team accomplishment, being the leader of this accomplishment — and he has a big chance for it, I am sure of that — Neymar will be chosen to be announced as the world's best player."

Neymar is starting a third season in Paris after Barcelona could not strike a deal to re-sign the player it sold two year ago for 222 million euros (then $246 million).

"Maybe at 27, I could have made the same mistakes," Kaka said. "And so I think this is a great opportunity for him to improve himself and to be better and mature."

While Neymar has won the French league twice — the minimum expected for a team with lavish Qatari funding — he has not won a European title with the French capital club as he did with Barcelona in the 2015 Champions League final.

Neymar's only titles with Brazil so far are gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the Confederations Cup on home soil in 2013. Neymar missed the 7-1 loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semifinals through injury and was part of the team knocked out the 2018 quarterfinals by Belgium. He also missed this summer's Copa America, which Brazil won without him.

Kaka was part of the squad that won the 2002 World Cup, and Brazil hasn't reached the final since then.

"Always for Brazil we have this pressure," Kaka said. "Because we have won five World Cups, so everyone thinks about the World Cup. So, if you do a lot of good things for the national team but you don't win a World Cup, maybe you fail.

"I don't think it's fair but it's like this and this is the situation. And Neymar had an opportunity to play in two World Cups and didn't win one with Brazil. So, our expectation with him is for him to be the guy for the next World Cup for us. I think it's hard for him but I think every year he's more mature, he understands his position in the national team better as well and it's good."

News Football

Arsenal, Man United open Europa League with wins

AP Updated: 20 September, 2019, 10:47 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Arsenal and Manchester United both relied on a teenager to get their Europa League campaigns off to a winning start.

Arsenal, last year's finalist, saw 18-year-old winger Bukayo Saka score one goal and set up the other two in a 3-0 away victory over 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt. And 17-year-old Mason Greenwood became United's youngest ever scorer in European competition when he netted the loan goal in a 1-0 victory over Astana at Old Trafford.

Sevilla, the most successful team in Europe's second-tier competition, also opened with a 3-0 victory at Qarabag while Kevin Bua struck twice to lead Basel to a 5-0 win over Krasnodar in Group C.

Another Premier League club, Wolverhampton Wanderers extended its winless streak by losing 1-0 to Braga at Molineux.

In a major upset, competition newcomer Wolfsberg routed Borussia Mönchengladbach 4-0 away in Group J.

Feature Cricket

A triumph for Steve Smith the non-conformist

Partab Ramchand Updated: 20 September, 2019, 10:26 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

For all the many hours that Steve Smith batted during the Ashes series while notching up 774 runs in four Tests including two centuries and a double hundred he didn’t exactly satisfy the purists who winced at his unusual technique or the ungainly manner in which he left balls outside the off stump. Some of them said he was a ready candidate for leg before for the manner in which he moved his feet across to cover the stumps while he got into position to play a shot. The experts also pointed out other faults in his approach and opined that he would be caught ere long in the slip cordon or on the leg side. Some former cricketers particularly bowlers were of the view that if they were out there they would get him out sooner rather than later.

Well, Smith was in fact out leg before twice in his seven innings but not before he got 92 and 80. And if there was any beef in the theory put out by the experts there was no way Smith could have batted more than 32 hours in the four Tests while amassing all those runs. No, Smith could come up with his Bradmanesque run only because he did it his way. And his way was to be a non-conformist.

His coach in the formative years Trent Woodhill has now revealed how Smith had worked upon his approach very early in his career. According to him Smith was determined to be different and Woodhill lamented Australian cricket’s ``aversion’’ to embrace unconventional styles while emphasizing the point that uniqueness and unorthodox styles should be celebrated. He wasn’t too happy with those unwilling to accept uniqueness adding that this attitude could have a negative impact on a young player’s career.

``Young players need protection from those who don’t like anything different. A dressing room can be a brutal place for a young player who might be forced to conform’’ he opined adding that his famous ward’s unusual technique would be accepted in the Indian system where it is ``all about the output.’’

While technique remains the foundation on which good batsmanship is based one cannot make an absolute rule of it. The prodigiously gifted player gets past the technical test thanks to excellent hand eye coordination and extraordinary speedy footwork. Ultimately it is all about putting up those runs on the scoreboard and while doing so if you are not looking pretty or even ungainly it shouldn’t matter in the least. That is what Smith has proved in unmistakable terms. Whatever one may say about his technique no one can deny that he has an organized mindset. The elegant 30s and 40s have a place in cricket but they don’t get you or your team very far; big hundreds do. In this regard Woodhill said something that the cricketing world by and large has come to accept. ``He is the best since Bradman. This is not even an argument anymore.’’