Mar 12, 2009

Pietersen attributes India's one-day success to IPL

March 13, 2009


England batsman Kevin Pietersen has said the IPL contributed in a big way to India's recent success as a one-day team. He said greater participation by England players in the annual Twenty20 tournament would help improve their consistency in one-day internationals.


"I think the reason why India have gone through the roof is because of the Indian Premier League," Pietersen told BBC Sport. "After missing out last year, there is no way we can get up there if we don't play."


Pietersen is among five England players - Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara are the others - who will play in the IPL which is scheduled to begin on April 10. The inaugural season in 2008 featured only one England player, Dimitri Mascarenhas, that too for one game, because it clashed with the start of the county season. However, the ECB eased the restrictions by clearing its players to play in the 2009 IPL for three weeks.


Pietersen was the England captain when they lost 5-0 in India last year. India continued their good form in Sri Lanka, winning the series 4-1, and now in New Zealand, where they have won the five-ODI series with a match in hand. All three ODI victories in New Zealand were set up by the top order, with Virender Sehwag leading the way with a blazing hundred in Hamilton, and Sachin Tendulkar smashing an unbeaten 163 in Christchurch.


"India are taking one-day cricket to a different level," Pietersen said. "Have you seen the way they are playing in New Zealand? Then compare that to what we did out there last year - India are on a different level.


"It's important for our players to learn how to hit fours and sixes. You can do that in Twenty20 cricket and you can practise it. You must practise it in order to play it. In the middle, when you try to play like that you have to know you've practised it, and Twenty20 is a boundary fest. I'm afraid to say it but they have taken the game to a new level because of the IPL and I think the players recognise that."


England are scheduled to play a Twenty20 international against West Indies in Trinidad on March 15.


Lee banks on quick return to new-ball duties

Alex Brown


March 13, 2009


Brett Lee expects to be immediately reinstated to the role of Australian pace spearhead, and believes his new-ball combination with the vastly improved Mitchell Johnson will cause "carnage" among opposition batsmen throughout the Ashes and beyond. Fitter and stronger after his recovery from foot stress fractures, Lee was in a bullish mood when assessing his chances of returning to an attack that has won three consecutive Tests against South Africa since he limped from the scene during theBoxing Day Test.

Australia's selectors face a difficult decision ahead of this year's Ashes campaign. Lee, the 2008 Allan Border medallist, and Stuart Clark are nearing the end of their recoveries from foot and elbow surgery respectively, and will attempt to force their way back into a young and in-form attack. Johnson and Peter Siddle lead all-comers on the current tour of South Africa with a combined 23 wickets at 19.78, but Lee hopes his imposing record of 310 dismissals from 76 Tests will convince selectors to restore him to new ball duties for the Ashes.


"I'm not embarrassed to say that I expect to lead the pace attack and take that brand new ball again for Australia," Lee told Cricinfo. "I think it will add another dimension to our attack to have a right- and a left-hander out there capable of bowling over 150kph and swinging the ball in and out to the batsmen. Australian cricket is obviously in a very healthy state at the moment with the way the likes of Mitch and [Siddle] have been bowling, and I can't wait to be involved again. I hope that my record speaks for itself - I've worked hard to achieve ten years at the top of the game - and I can be out there creating a bit of carnage again alongside Mitch."


Lee, 32, revealed for the first time he was carrying two separate foot stress fractures towards the latter stages of the Australian summer. He required as many as eight painkilling injections to complete 10 second-innings overs at the MCG, with surgery later revealing he had not only broken the fourth metatarsal in his left foot, as suspected, but also a bone in the back of his foot as well.


Lee has employed the services of a six-day-a-week personal trainer since the operation, and has added 10kg of lean muscle mass to a frame that had suffered from the effects of the giardia bug. The illness hampered him throughout Australia's unsuccessful Test tour of India and subsequent home series against New Zealand and South Africa, and resulted in his weight falling to 82kg during the domestic summer.


"The hardest thing was that I had no momentum behind the ball," he said. "I had nothing to drive myself through the crease with and I just wasn't able to consistently bowl fast, no matter how much I wanted to. It wasn't a great feeling.


"I am back up around 92-93kg now, and I'm feeling much stronger and energetic. My strength is up, my skin folds are down and I'm feeling much better for it. I am viewing the time off as a positive, as much as I can. It has helped me get my foot, ankle and general health back, and when you've built a great base like this, it can only create longevity."


Despite security issues stemming from the recent terror attacks on Lahore and Mumbai, Lee expects to make his competitive comeback for the Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League in April. When asked whether the IPL governing body's move to block FICA from the security process would sway his decision in any way, Lee was coy.


"The best way to answer that is to say that we do get guidance every single day as to what is recommended from a safety point of view," he said. "There are several places where that information comes from, and it gives you the basis to make an informed decision about certain places. But I am looking forward to going to India. I have been going there since 1994, and I can't wait to unleash a couple of thunderbolts at the IPL ahead of the Ashes series."


South Africa set to host Champions Trophy

NEW DELHI - South Africa should host this year's Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka ruled out due to possible rain interruptions in September-October, an International Cricket Council (ICC) committee has recommended. 

Pakistan was originally due to host the one-day international competition last year but after several teams voiced security concerns about playing there, the ICC reacted by postponing the event before switching venues to Sri Lanka last month. 

The ICC chief executives committee recommendation will go before its executive board for a final decision on Monday, the ruling body said in a statement on Wednesday. 

South Africa is set to be confirmed as the venue for the eight-team tournament scheduled from Sept. 24 to Oct. 5 if certain financial terms are agreed, the release said. 

Sri Lanka Cricket told the meeting it could not guarantee clear weather in Colombo during the period. In 2002, the event was held around the same time in Colombo and Sri Lanka and India were declared joint winners after rain marred the final. 

"The CEC agreed the need to do everything possible to ensure this year's Champions Trophy is a successful event," ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said. 

"On that basis it was felt that it would be too great a risk to stage the tournament in Colombo at a time of year when there was a distinct possibility of rain. 

"This was especially relevant given the length of this year's Champions Trophy has been reduced to 12 days, part of our desire to make it a short, sharp event, as on that basis there would be no room for reserve days. 

"South Africa was a successful and excellent host of the World Twenty20 at much the same time of the year two years ago and the weather pattern in the area around Johannesburg in September and October is stable and ideal for cricket." 

Security concerns have increased in South Asia after gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore last week, injuring six players and killing seven Pakistanis. 

The ICC panel also recommended dates for next year's World Twenty20 in West Indies, now planned from Apr. 30 to May 16. The ICC board will give the final approval.

Sri Lanka names Sangakkara as skipper

 Wed, 11 Mar 2009 17:36 GMT


Sri Lanka on Wednesday promoted Kumar Sangakkara to captain for the upcoming World Twenty20 series in England, the sports minister said. 

The former vice captain will have spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan as his deputy, Gamini Lokuge said. 

Sangakkara, a stylish left-hand batsman and wicket-keeper, was the front-runner to succeed Mahela Jayawardene. 

Jayawardene stepped down as skipper after the two-Test Pakistan tour this month, which was abandoned because an attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.

Chasing revised target was not easy: Dhoni

Wed, 11 Mar 2009 11:29 GMT

Mahendra Singh Dhoni said after India's successful run chase in the 4th ODI that with the victory target being revised after every rain interruption it was far from easy. 

"It was a difficult chase with the rain interruptions. The way Viru and Gautam batted, it looked easy but it was never easy," Dhoni said after India's series-clinching win here. 

"The wind was very strong all through. Overall, we got a good start and capitalised on it later on," Dhoni said. 

Dhoni said the team no longer relied on individuals to do the job as every member "chips in". 

"We are not relying on individuals. For instance, we were without Sachin (Tendulkar) on Wednesday but still performed well. That's the plus point that we are not relying too heavily on individuals," he said. 

Man of the Match Sehwag, gave away 500 dollars out of the 1000 from his prize money to the local Hamilton Star Wars Cricket Club.

Australian cricket retains ICC Championship mace

MAR 11, 2009


WHEN Ricky Ponting arrived in Johannesburg, he was escorted straight to a press conference where the ICC Test Championship mace lay on the table.

Asked to front more press conferences at Johannesburg's Wanderers Stadium a week later to promote the first Test, Ponting was again questioned several times about the importance of the trophy and his team's bid to hold onto the No.1 ranking.

The ICC even sent one of their media men to do shopping-centre promotions in Johannesburg to stir up interest in Test cricket and the home team's chances of being the ace team with the silver-and-gold mace.

Local journalists joked that Cricket South Africa was clearing a special space in their trophy cabinet for the 90cm mace, which was valued at STG30,000 ($A64,000) in 2001.

Australia have held the trophy since 2003 and after winning the first two Tests of their three-match series in South Africa, Ponting's men are hanging onto it thanks very much.

Although the ICC Test Championship table is only updated at the end of each series, the Proteas needed to win the series to overtakeAustralia before the annual cut-off date of April 1.

"Australia can breathe easy in the knowledge that the ... ICC Test Championship mace will be returning with them to CricketAustralia's headquarters in Melbourne along with a cheque for US$175,000," the ICC said in a statement.

Ponting insisted it had not been his side's main goal and it shouldn't have been South Africa's either.

"If they have been focusing on that for the last couple of weeks, it might be the reason why they haven't performed as well as they would have expected," Ponting said.

"I haven't mentioned the trophy once around this whole group because it's not the reason we play.

"We play to win games of cricket for Australia and to do the best that we can for each other as a group of players.

"Whatever happens as a result of that, happens.

"If silverware comes your way then great. But that's not the reason that we play the game."