October 10th, 2006

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Brett Lee excited by Ashes rematch

Bret LeeBrett Lee cannot wait to renew rivalries with England when the Ashes series gets underway this winter and insists the tourists have made a wise choice in appointing Andrew Flintoff as captain.

Perhaps the iconic image of England’s Ashes triumph a little over 12 months ago was Flintoff consoling Lee after the second Test at Edgbaston which the hosts dramatically won by just two runs.

Despite the fierce rivalry of the series, that moment†encapsulated the excellent spirit in which it was played and Lee retains the utmost respect for the England all-rounder. The Aussie paceman concedes he is desperate to help his country reclaim the little urn, but is certain it will be a fantastic occasion once again.

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McGrath predicts Ashes whitewash for England

mcgrahAustralian seamer Glenn McGrath has once again predicted that England will suffer a 5-0 whitewash in the Ashes that starts in November.

The outspoken McGrath was left eating humble pie last year after making the same prediction last year — England won 2-1 to reclaim the Ashes for the first time in 18 years.

But McGrath insists he has even more reason to make such a controversial declaration this time around and has criticised England for failing to progress from their incredible triumph.

“I reckon it will be 5-0 this time, as well,” he said in the Mail on Sunday newspaper. “To say anything else would be negative. If we’re going to win 2-1, or 3-2, which games are we going to lose?”

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Players are supporting me: Younis

khanAfter the unsavoury incidents of last week, Pakistan cricket team’s captain Younis Khan insisted he had full support of the team, adding that the players were focussed on playing good cricket in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy.

Younis claimed the flip-flop over the captaincy issue hours before the team’s departure for the prestigious tournament was behind them and would not hamper their performance. “Let bygones be bygones. I have already forgotten the incident because you cannot change what has happened. The issue has died down and I foresee no problems,” said Younis, who was reinstated after he initially refused to captain the side saying he did not want to be a “dummy captain”.

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Pakistan can win in India without me: Inzi

inzamamBanned Pakistan cricket captain Inzamam-ul-Haq on Monday said the side was capable of winning the Champions Trophy in India without him under stand-in skipper Younis Khan.

“This team is capable of playing the final and if they can reach the final without me they can also win it,” Inzamam told reporters after meeting newly appointed Pakistan cricket chief Nasim Ashraf.

Inzamam, who was appointed captain until Pakistan’s home series against the West Indies starting next month, also reacted to reports he might not return as captain and his replacement Younis might continue after the Trophy. “Captaincy doesn’t bother me, it’s not an issue at the moment. The main thing is that the team does well in the Champions Trophy,” he said.

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Fleming relishes leading full-strength New Zealand

flemingNew Zealand captain Stephen Fleming is raring to get into the Champions Trophy in India because he finally has a fully-fit team at his disposal.

“I am excited about my side because we are approaching a tournament in full strength and that is something we haven’t done for a long time,” Fleming said after the former champions arrived here in New Delhi on Monday morning.

“With (Shane) Bond, Daniel (Vettori) and (Jacob) Oram all fit and raring to go, we know what we want to do and what we can do,” said the 33-year-old with 7,184 One-day International (ODI) runs under his belt.

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Giles confident England will retain Ashes

gilesEngland left-arm spinner Ashley Giles believes his team is capable of defending the Ashes in Australia beginning next month.

“I fancy our chances very highly, else I wouldn’t have worked as hard as I’ve worked to get there,” said the 33-year-old spinner, who has not played this year due to injury, but has been named in the squad for the Ashes defence.

“It’s great to go to Australia with the Ashes urn in your hand. This is the biggest challenge I think any of us will face in cricket,” Giles told reporters on Sunday. Giles was an integral part of the side that won the Ashes 2-1 in England last year after 18 years of Australian domination with his accurate slow bowling and obdurate batting at number eight.

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Pakistan not happy with Inzamam: Zaheer

Sacked team manager Zaheer Abbas claims regular captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has lost the confidence of officials in Pakistan cricket following the Oval debacle.

Abbas told BBC Radio Five Live that the refusal to play on the fourth day of the Test was Inzamam’s own choice. He said: “Pakistan’s management is not happy with Inzamam at the moment. I requested him to go into the field at The Oval, chairman Shaharyar Khan requested also, and a few members of the cricket team, but he refused.”

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Tendulkar defends Indian tactics

sachinSachin Tendulkar has defended the tactics blamed for India’s recent slump in form and expects the hosts to regain their one-day touch in the Champions Trophy.

“Experiments should go on to a certain extent,” the batsman told reporters on Sunday. “I know it is equally important to settle down and figure out individual roles. That doesn’t mean we should totally stop experimenting. There should be a nice balance, but things will change for sure,” Tendulkar said.

Skipper Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell came under fire from former players and the media after losing a one-day series in the West Indies 4-1 and failing to reach the final of last month’s tri-series in Malaysia, won by Australia.

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Inzamam will be back as skipper for WI home series

inzamamPakistan’s new cricket chief Dr Nasim Ashraf on Monday removed any doubts over Inzamam-ul-Haq’s future as the national team’s skipper by making it clear that the aging batsman would be back at the helm for the home series against West Indies later this year.

In a bid to bring some order to the chaotic state of Pakistan cricket, Ashraf held a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) meeting in Lahore on Monday and later announced that Inzamam would be back as Pakistan captain after serving a four-match International Cricket Council (ICC) ban over The Oval fiasco.

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Sri Lanka wary of taking Zimbabwe for granted

Sri Lanka cricket coach Tom Moody will raise Zimbabwe to the same league as Australia and India when they clash in Tuesday’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy qualifier here.

“Quite clearly we’ll be approaching this game just like any other — whether it’s Zimbabwe, England, Australia or India, it makes no difference,” said Moody. The Sri Lankans, considered one of the favourites to win the 10-nation tournament, began their campaign with an emphatic 37-run win over Bangladesh in Mohali on Saturday.

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PCB regime change poses new threat to deal: ECB

Pakistan’s latest regime change threatens to undermine settlement of the compensation claim by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for losses sustained by Pakistan’s forfeiture of the Oval Test in August.

The ECB had hoped for a quiet and amicable settlement by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) of their claim for £800,000, the loss incurred when part of the fourth day and the whole of the fifth day were cancelled after Darrell Hair had imposed a five-run penalty for ball tampering, and Pakistan then refused to take the field.

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Mushtaq hurt and angry at sacking

ahmedMushtaq Ahmed said he is “hurt and angry” after he was sacked as Pakistan’s assistant coach just hours before the team left for the Champions Trophy in India.

Mushtaq’s dismissal followed a turbulent couple of days that saw Younis Khan quit the captaincy only to be reinstated, but not before Board chairman Shaharyar Khan resigned and Mushtaq was sacked.

New chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf, on President Musharraf’s orders, attempted to restore united to the team and in the process Mushtaq was fired. Although a full explanation has not been given it is likely that Mushtaq’s close friendship with Inzamam-ul-Haq — banned for four matches and why Younis was promoted to skipper — had a bearing on his removal.

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