December 25th, 2006

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Australia seek Ashes sweep to honour Warne and McGrath

Australia go into the Ashes fourth Test beginning on Tuesday (tomorrow) seeking to remain on track for a series whitewash that would be a fitting farewell to retiring bowlers Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

Both Warne, 37, Test cricket’s greatest wicket-taker, and McGrath, 36, third in the Test bowling rankings, announced last week that they would retire from Test cricket at the end of the current Ashes series.

With Australia already holding an unassailable 3-0 lead to regain the Ashes, the departure of the two bowlers has given the home side added impetus to complete a clean sweep in the final two Tests.

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Lara would not mind playing Tests till 40

laraRetirements might be in vogue but West Indies batting legend Brian Lara appears in no mood to hang his boots now, saying he wants to play Test cricket for as long as he can.

Lara, however, might consider quitting one-day cricket after the World Cup in his homeland.

“I cut back on one-day cricket a couple of months ago because Test cricket is what I really love,” said West Indies skipper.

“Test cricket is true test of your ability and that’s the one game I’d love to play a bit longer. Quitting one-day cricket is looking that way. Since taking over captaincy again, it has had an effect on me mentally and physically,” said Lara who is holidaying in Australia.

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Adam Gilchrist only three short of 100 sixes in Tests

adamAustralian players are currently breaking a lot of records and Adam Gilchrist is on the verge of adding to his impressive collection. Fresh from a 57-ball century against England in Perth, Gilchrist is only three sixes away from becoming the first to hit 100 in Tests.

Brian Lara is his nearest rival with 88 from 131 games while Gilchrist’s 97, which include four in his second innings at the WACA, have come in 88 matches.Gilchrist told ‘The Australian’ his most memorable strike came off Muttiah Muralitharan when he was batting at No. 3 due to a Ricky Ponting back injury in Kandy in 2004. Muralitharan was “on song” and Gilchrist didn’t have the confidence to charge down the wicket.

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The force is with us, declares Younis

khanYounis Khan believes next month’s possible comeback of three key fast bowlers including Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif would make Pakistan the best bowling team in the world even ahead of world champions Australia, writes Khalid Hussain.

The Pakistan vice-captain said that his team would gain a huge pace advantage once Shoaib Asif and another previously banned medium pacer Shabbir Ahmed return to international cricket during next month’s tour of South Africa.

“We would have a bowling attack stronger than Australia’s if Shoaib, Asif and Shabbir return to the squad,” Younis told ‘The News’ in an interview here at the National Stadium.

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Shoaib, Asif may still face ban

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) may be able to reinforce the ban against doping-tainted Pakistani pacemen Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, the country’s anti-doping tribunal chief said on Sunday.

“According to the WADA code they can apply for provisional suspension,” barrister Shahid Hamid told AFP, quashing suggestions the pair were now in the clear.

Hamid headed the three-member Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) tribunal which last month banned Akhtar for two years and Asif for one year, after the new-ball pair tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.

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Shoaib losing race against time ahead of South Africa tour

shoaibThe indifferent form of fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has alarmed Pakistani cricket authorities since returning to competitive cricket after being controversially cleared of a drug-related ban earlier this month.

Well-placed sources told this correspondent on Sunday that Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials are double-minded whether to recall Shoaib in their squad for next month’s important tour of South Africa after watching his lacklustre bowling in a few domestic games recently.

It is quite visible that Shoaib, known in the cricket world as the ‘Rawalpindi Express’, is yet to gather pace after missing Pakistan’s last two assignments - the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy and the home series against the West Indies - because of a doping ban.

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Warne greatest cricketer ever lived: Botham

Legendary England all-rounder Ian Botham believes Shane Warne is the greatest player to have set foot on a cricket field.

“In my opinion, Shane Warne is the greatest cricketer who’s ever lived,” Botham said.

Warne is being described as the second greatest cricketer of all time behind Sir Donald Bradman, but Botham said spin-wizard deserved highest accolade.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t judge people who played 30 or 40 years before I was born because I think you can only really comment on what you’ve seen first hand,” he explained. “And of players I’ve seen, Warnie is out on his own,” he added.

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