May 10th, 2006

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Time to move on from Ashes triumph, says Flintoff

England’s players cannot revel in last season’s Ashes triumph any longer.

Stand-in England captain Andrew Flintoff said on Wednesday his team and their fans must turn their attention from the victory over the Australians last year to the first Test against Sri Lanka starting at Lord’s here on Thursday.

“I think there still is an excitement about cricket, people are still talking about last year but at some point we have to move on and that’s going to be tomorrow (Thursday) morning,” Flintoff said. “I don’t think we’ll recreate what happened last year with the Ashes … but if we can get a buzz and excitement about cricket again, that’s down to us. If we start winning, I’m sure the nation will get behind us once again.’’

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SA receive rankings boost after series win

South Africa have climbed above New Zealand into fifth place in the ICC Test rankings following the Proteas’ 2-0 series victory over the Black Caps.

The International Cricket Council announced the standings on Monday, one day after South Africa had defeated New Zealand by four wickets in the third and final Test in Johannesburg. Australia remain well clear in top spot on 131 points, ahead of England (113), India (111) and Pakistan (109) with South Africa (101) moving four points clear of New Zealand.

South Africa skipper Graeme Smith also enjoyed a boost in the player rankings, rising five places to 19th in the batsmen’s standings following his two half-centuries in the final New Zealand Test.

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McGrath seeks successful return

Glen_McgrathAustralian fast bowler Glenn McGrath believes he will be back better than ever for this year’s Ashes series after his extended break from the game. McGrath has not played international cricket since January after his wife Jane was diagnosed with cancer. He missed Australia’s tours of South Africa and Bangladesh but says suggestions his career may be over are off the mark. “Whenever people have written me off, I have always proved them wrong,” McGrath told the Sunday Telegraph. “People can say what they want but all it means is I’ll be proving them wrong again. “I’m really in the same position as every other player because the Ashes will be our first series after a long break. I’ve been working on a number of things I believe will make me an even better bowler come the start of the Ashes.” McGrath said he was hoping to make his international comeback at the ICC Champions Trophy in India in October and early November. The first Ashes Test starts in Brisbane in late November.

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Sajid Mahmood, Jon Lewis included in England Test squad

England’s selectors included uncapped pace bowlers Sajid Mahmood and Jon Lewis in their 13-man squad for next week’s first Test against Sri Lanka here at Lord’s. It was the first time that Sajid, the cousin of British boxing sensation Amir Khan, had been included in a Test squad. Lewis, who has been chosen in three Test squads before without winning a place in the starting line-up, was rewarded for his nine-wicket haul for England A during their 10-wicket victory over Sri Lanka concluded on Saturday. Injuries ruling out England quicks Stephen Harmison (shin), Simon Jones (knee) and James Anderson (back), possibly for the whole of the three-match series in all cases, have led to Sajid and Lewis’s selection alongside that of Durham seamer Liam Plunkett and the experienced Matthew Hoggard. And with England captain Michael Vaughan still out with a knee injury, pace bowling all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, a Lancashire team-mate of Sajid, had been given the captaincy after leading the team to a drawn series in India. “With three of our pace bowlers, James Anderson, Simon Jones and Stephen Harmison all unavailable, this is a real opportunity for Sajid Mahmood, Liam Plunkett and Jon Lewis to press their case for inclusion on a regular basis,” Graveney said. Graveney also praised Flintoff’s leadership skills, saying: “ Flintoff did an outstanding job as captain in difficult circumstances in India with a young team and he will lead the side again while Michael Vaughan continues with his rehabilitation from injury.” England squad: Andrew Flintoff (captain), Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Matthew Hoggard, Geraint Jones (w/k), Jon Lewis, Sajid Mahmood, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Liam Plunkett, Andrew Strauss and Marcus Trescothick.

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BCCI to seek govt assurances over Gibbs and Boje

The Indian cricket board is to seek an assurance from the government that South African players Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje will not be detained over a match-fixing probe during this year’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy.

“We’re going to take up the issue with the (federal) home minister, home secretary and the Delhi police commissioner,” the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sharad Pawar told a news conference on Friday.

Batsman Gibbs and left-arm spinner Nicky Boje were named in a Delhi Police investigation into cricket match fixing during South Africa’s tour in 2000 which eventually led to a life ban for then captain, the late Hansie Cronje.

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India to renovate venues for 2011 Cup

The Indian cricket board would spend substantial sums to renovate its grounds before co-hosting the 2011 World Cup, its president Sharad Pawar said on Friday.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is also in early discussions to build a new stadium in the national capital, he told reporters. The government has allotted 30 acres of land for the purpose. “I have to admit one thing, our stadium standard is not up to the mark,” Pawar said. “We have to improve our grounds, wickets and stadiums.”

“Because of the good monetary support the board got, we are going to invest substantially and provide permanent international standard infrastructure in India.”

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Mani terms Indo-Pak cricket revival biggest feat

The International Cricket Council (ICC) President Ehsan Mani said that the resumption of the India-Pakistan cricket ties has been the biggest achievement of his tenure.

“One thing that does stand out for me is the resumption of India-Pakistan cricket. This is one single achievement that, if I were to choose amongst anything else, stands out in the cricket context,” said Mani on Sunday, whose three-year term ends in July.

“It was so important that these two great cricketing nations should be playing cricket with each other,” added Mani.

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Dravid hopeful of improving overseas record

DravidCaptain Rahul Dravid on Monday said it was high time the Indian team justified its potential by setting right its overseas record on their upcoming tour of the West Indies later this month.

With the exception of a 2-0 win in Zimbabwe last year, India have not won a series outside the subcontinent since 1986 when, led by Kapil Dev, they beat England in England.

Dravid said the visit to the Caribbean would be an opportunity to correct that anomaly.

“Obviously it is a big challenge. It is important for us to do well and correct the record outside the subcontinent,” Dravid said at a press conference in New Delhi.

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Inzamam convinced PCB to drop tri-series for giving players rest

Inzamam
Pakistan cricket team’s captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, in a recent meeting with the top officials of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), indicated that the players should be given proper breaks between the matches to save them from fitness problems before the World Cup.

An official of the PCB disclosed that Inzamam, during a meeting with Chairman Shaharyar Khan and some other Board officials, had spoken on the subject of the international calendar when the discussion focused on an invitation from India and Australia to play a One-day International (ODI) tri-series later this year.

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