Watson suffers fresh injury setback

Hobart: Shane Watson has suffered a setback in his bid to regain fitness in time for Australia's Test series opener against India but he is still expected to recover in time for the big clash.

Despite suffering a calf strain, Shane Watson is expected to play in the Test series against India. © AFP

Watson, already sidelined from Australia's current series against New Zealand with a hamstring injury, is still on course to play in the first of four Tests against the Indians, Australia skipper Michael Clarke said on Thursday.

Despite suffering a calf strain, Shane Watson is expected to play in the Test series against India.

"Watto has got a light calf strain. It's put him a couple of days behind but we're confident he'll be right for the Boxing Day Test," Clarke said on the eve of Australia's second and final Test against the Black Caps in Hobart.

Clarke indicated that even if Watson's recovery prevented him from bowling in the Test starting on December 26 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, he would be chosen primarily as a batsman, if available.

"His batting is still a very big part of our team at the top of the order. He's been pretty consistent for us," Clarke said.

"But in the best-case scenario I would love him to be able to bowl as well because he's had a lot of success with the ball, especially particularly of late.

"Perfect world for us is both batting and bowling, but I think his batting is important to us."

Watson, 30, illustrated his worth as an extra seamer in the Australian attack when he captured five for 17 off 30 balls in the first innings of the Cape Town Test against South Africa last month.

Allrounder Watson has scored 2,135 runs and taken 56 wickets in 32 Tests.


Dilshan praises Smith role over salaries

Benoni: Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan thanked South Africa counterpart Graeme Smith on Wednesday amid signs that most of the salaries owed to the touring team will be paid this week.

Tillakaratne Dilshan thanked Graeme Smith amid signs that most of the salaries owed to the touring team will be paid this week. © AFP

Heavily indebted Sri Lanka Cricket have been unable to pay national players since the country finished runners-up to fellow co-hosts India in the World Cup last April.

Sports minister Mahindanda Altuthgamage promised in Colombo on Tuesday that 65 percent of the outstanding salaries would be paid within three days and the rest by January.

"Thanks to Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers for assisting us by making statements to the International Cricket Council (ICC)," Dilshan said at a pre-tour media conference in this eastern Johannesburg suburb.

Sri Lanka play a three-day warm-up game against a South African Invitation XI at Willowmoore Park here from Friday before tackling the Proteas in a three-Test and five-ODI series.

Dilshan denied the outstanding salaries issue was behind recent 1-0 Test series losses to England, Australia and Pakistan, saying the results were not an accurate reflection of performances.

"We are here to play cricket - everyone in the team wants to play cricket and not worry about payments. If we use this warm-up match properly, it will help us before the first Test," he said.

"It will not be easy as South Africa have been playing good cricket for a few years and we cannot afford any mistakes. We must give 100 percent commitment with everyone putting their hands up."

Sri Lanka play Tests at Centurion (Dec 15-19), Durban (Dec 26-30) and Cape Town (Jan 3-7) before the one-day games between January 11 and 22 in Paarl, East London, Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Johannesburg.

Ashraful returns for Pakistan Tests

Dhaka: Bangladesh’s selectors have recalled former captain and middle-order batsman Mohammad Ashraful for a two-Test series against Pakistan starting in Chittagong on Friday.

Bangladesh’s selectors have recalled former captain and middle-order batsman Mohammad Ashraful for a two-Test series against Pakistan. © AFP

Ashraful, who has scored 2,418 runs in 56 Tests, had been axed for the two home Tests against the West Indies in October-November and was also kept out of the recent one-dayers against Pakistan.

Vice-captain Mohammad Mahmudullah, seamer Robiul Islam and batsman Mohammed Nazimuddin, who also did not feature in the West Indies Tests, were named in the 15-man squad, announced by the Bangladesh Cricket Board on Wednesday.

Nazimuddin has played seven one-day internationals but is yet to make his Test debut, while Robiul has played two Tests.

The second and final Test will be held in Dhaka from December 17.

Bangladesh Test squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), Mohammad Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal, Shahriar Nafees, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan, Naeem Islam, Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Hossain, Elias Sunny, Shahadat Hossain, Suhrawadi Shuvo, Robiul Islam, Mohammed Nazimuddin.


Govt could deregister CSA: Probe panel chief

Pretoria: The South African government could deregister Cricket South Africa and withhold funding if it refused to accept the findings of an inquiry into its financial affairs, the chief of the probe panel said on Wednesday.

The inquiry into the financial affairs of CSA, sparked by undeclared IPL 2 bonuses that chief executive Gerald Majola paid himself and other senior CSA officials, will continue in 2011. © AFP

"Hopefully the power of public opinion will be that Cricket South Africa (CSA) will take up our recommendations and implement them," said retired judge Chris Nicholson, the chairman of the inquiry into the financial affairs of CSA that instituted by sports minister Fikile Mbalula.

The inquiry into the financial affairs of CSA, sparked by undeclared IPL 2 bonuses that chief executive Gerald Majola paid himself and other senior CSA officials, will continue in 2011.

Nicholson said at the end of the third week of oral hearings that more oral hearings may be held in January.

Mbalula had requested the inquiry committee to deliver a final report by Christmas, but Nicholson said this was not possible.

"At the moment, in excess of 5,000 pages have been brought to our attention. All of that will need very careful scrutiny and analysis, so although the minister wanted us to report within a month, that unfortunately is not going to be possible," Nicholson said.

The final report is now expected to be ready only in February, when Mbalula plans to release it publicly, according to Nicholson.

The retired judge said he was keen to hear from other parties as well, including Dr Ali Bacher, the former general manager of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, which preceded CSA.

In his testimony to the inquiry on Tuesday, Majola accused Bacher of having set a precedent for future executive bonuses by pocketing South African Rand 5 million bonus for hosting the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, something that Bacher has denied.

Unchanged Australia team for second Test

Hobart: Captain Michael Clarke has resisted the temptation to play all-rounder Dan Christian in naming an unchanged Australian team for Friday's second Test against New Zealand in Hobart.

Daniel Christian has missed out on the starting line-up for the second Test against New Zealand. © AFP

Christian was added to the squad for injured paceman Ben Cutting following Australia's emphatic nine-wicket win over the Kiwis in Brisbane last weekend, but Clarke is staying with the same eleven for the Hobart Test.

The Bellerive Oval wicket looked green with plenty of grass covering on the eve of the Test with Clarke anticipating tough work for the team that bats first on the opening day.

"The wicket has got a lot more grass on it than I've ever seen in Hobart, looks better today than yesterday, so I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like tomorrow morning," Clarke said on Thursday.

"I think day one is going to be quite tough for the batters, especially if it's overcast and then it will turn into a pretty good wicket.

"I still see Nathan Lyon playing a big part as our spinner, probably later in the game than day one."

Clarke said overhead conditions on the morning of the match would be a bigger factor than the pitch when deciding whether to bat or bowl.

"I will be more looking up than looking down," said Clarke, who has only won the toss once in his seven Tests as Australian captain.

Clarke said he had confidence in his four front-line bowlers to get the wickets to beat the Kiwis after newcomer James Pattinson's devastating five for 27 in New Zealand's second innings to set up an easy victory at the Gabba.

"There's probably a little concern that if your front-line bowlers don't do the job with the new ball it could be quite a long day, but I'm confident. I thought we bowled really well at the Gabba in both innings," he said.

"I'm confident I can get some overs out of Michael Hussey, myself and David Warner as part-timers, but I have to make sure I rotate the bowlers the right way and hope we bowl and field well with that new ball."

Clarke said the team bowling first will have to make good use of the new ball.

"There's going to be a bit of seam and swing through the whole game with that grass on it so if you bowl really well with the new ball you're going to have some impact," he said.

Australia: David Warner, Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (capt), Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon. Dan Christian (12th man).

Cummins hopes to play Adelaide Test against India

Melbourne: A heel injury might have ruled him out for bulk of the home Test series against India, but teen pace sensation Pat Cummins is in no mood to give up hope yet and said he is expecting to be fit in time for the fourth and final match of the rubber at Adelaide Oval.

A heel injury has ruled the Aussie pacer out for bulk of the home Test series against India. © AFP

The 18-year-old fast bowler is expected to be sidelined until late January with a heel injury that he picked up during his seven-wicket haul on debut against South Africa in Johannesburg last month.

Although Cummins has set his eyes on the Twenty20 international against India on February 1 to mark his return to international cricket, he has not completely ruled out his availability for the final Test from January 24.

"Cricket Australia are working closely with Cricket NSW with all my rehab and we'll be working on it all summer. I'll definitely be watching and looking forward to getting back as soon as possible," he said.

"I'll just rest it up for the next couple of weeks, and early January I'll start building up the running again and bowling, so I'm right not too long after that."

"The one-day series and Twenty20 I'm still definitely looking at, and maybe even the back of the Tests. It's only a couple more weeks," Cummins was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I've never injured the foot before. It's a one-off. The doc (doctor) says hopefully once it's healed, you're at no more risk of suffering the injury than anybody else. I'll be doing everything I can to be available for the last Tests."

Talking about his injury, Cummins said he felt something wrong with his heel on the opening day of his debut Test.

"Day one was when it first became an issue. It was bearable then but towards the end, it started to get worse and worse," he said.

"It was all in that last Test match, the damage. It was an accumulation of bowling a couple of days on a bruised heel and something that's unavoidable.

"The original scan a few weeks ago was all clear, so we were pretty confident that it wasn't there. But I found out (Tuesday) when it was still causing some pain and it wasn't great news. It's a stress fracture on the bone, but right on the minor side of the scale," the lanky pacer added.

Clarke versucht, zuerst in Hobart Test Schale

Hobart: Australian Captain Michael Clarke said on Thursday that he could be tempted, first Bowl, when he throw on a Bellerive wins Green top in the second test against New Zealand.

Clarke, just throw the once in his seven tests as captain has won, said, that overhead costs help conditions in the morning of the game it would decide whether you bat or bowl. © AFP

The bowler-friendly pitch threatens life for the team first make it difficult batting in Hobart and Clarke said he may be forced to go against his natural instincts and Bowl should the flip to go his way.

Australia lead the two-test series after a thumping nine wicket has named win at the Gabba in Brisbane on the weekend and Clarke of an unchanged eleven.

Clarke, just throw the once in his seven tests as captain has won, said, that overhead costs help conditions in the morning of the game it would decide whether you bat or bowl.

"I will wait and see tomorrow." I think that overhead conditions will play a role. For me it's more about look as below to see what the weather as "he said."

"If the wicket not much changes from what I see and it is still a bit sticky and overhead exists conditions, is a great opportunity that I will Bowl in first."

"But I've said a few times in the past and gone out there and batted."

"I think the two things that I really hard to find are bowling first if I the draw profits and not picking a spinner."

Clarke was a bowler-friendly Strip, surprised.

"I think, be one day will be very hard for the batters, especially if it is cloudy and then it is in a pretty good wicket,", he said, adding, that Lyon later still play an important role could the spinner Nathan in the game.

Clarke named an unchanged team and said that he had to get confidence in his four frontline bowlers to the gates.

The skipper said that good bowling with the new ball would be rewarded.

"It is with a bit seam and swing through the whole game, grass on it to be so when you go really well with the new ball bowling you will have some impact," he said.

Tendulkar might play last two ODIs against West Indies

Ahmedabad: Sachin Tendulkar, still in search of his elusive 100th international century is likely to play the last two one-dayers against West Indies, after being rested for the first three matches of the series.

Sources claim that the 38-year-old wants to play the two matches at Indore and Chennai. © AFP
According to sources, the 38-year-old wants to play the remaining two matches of the series scheduled on December 8 and 11 in Indore and Chennai respectively.
The Kris Srikkanth-led selection panel will meet on Monday to pick the squad for the remainder of the series besides choosing a replacement for the injured pacer Praveen Kumar for the upcoming Tests against Australia.
Tendulkar's last international century came on March 12 during a World Cup group league match against South Africa in Nagpur.
The last missed opportunity came in the third Test against the Caribbeans when Tendulkar was dismissed six runs short of the milestone.
India lead the five-match rubber 2-0 with the third ODI scheduled on Monday.

We lost but showed a lot of spirit: Gibson

Ahmedabad: West Indies might be 0-2 down in the five match one-day international (ODI) series against India but their head coach Ottis Gibson takes solace from the fact that his team has put up a brave fight against the world champions.

Ottis Gibson took solace from the fact that his team has put up a brave fight against India. © AFP

"It's difficult to say I am satisfied when you are losing. But we have shown a lot of spirit and created opportunities to win. In the first game, making only 211 was disappointing. But the way the guys went out to defend 211 and got to the point where they could have won and the way they ended up losing was obviously difficult (to digest)," Gibson said.

He felt that things could have been different in the second game at Vishakapatnam had they not grassed the chance offered by Virender Sehwag in the second over of the match.

"The new ball was the key. We created some opportunity, got a couple of wickets but dropped Sehwag. If perhaps Rohit and Kohli had to come in and face the new ball a little bit earlier it could have been a different story," Gibson said.

He, however, acknowledged the splendid batting by the two young Indian batsmen, who notched up a 163-run partnership to engineer India's win.

"Having said that, those two played exceptionally well and took the game away from us. We lost but have not disgraced ourselves," said Gibson, adding the way Ravi Rampaul, who hammered an unbeaten 86 and Kemar Roach played "was obviously very heartening". 

He said the batting failure was the main cause for his team's loss in the two games at Cuttack and Vizag.

"The batting failed due to lack of application and a bit of thought processes. We want people to take responsibility and assess the situation a little bit better. If we lose a few wickets early what is needed is for the next two batsmen to put together a partnership. We want to execute the plans like we saw Kohli and Rohit Sharma did in the last game," Gibson said.

He also went on to add that now the team was not depending on one or two players.

"Perhaps in the past we relied a lot on one or two people. Not anymore. In the Test series we had the likes of Kragg Brathwaite coming in and making runs and Kirk Edwards has done exceptionally well since he started his Test career.

Rampaul and Kemar Roach are showing self assurance."

Gibson believed that the team had in it to win close games in the remainder of the series.

"We learn all the time we are getting close to winning.

If we could win one of those close games, that will be a big thing for this young team. We created two good opportunities; we could have won, but didn't. There are still three games left in the series and there's no reason why all the games cannot end up in the last over. And there's no reason why we cannot win one or two of them."

He also backed skipper Darren Sammy who has flopped in the first two games with the bat.

"He's struggling a little bit in this format. I believe he will perform in the next game. He works very hard on his game and has a lot of belief in himself. He knew before he got the job what a difficult job it is.

"Captaining any international team is not easy. He's got everyone's support. He needs to get out and back his ability a bit more. He's a strong character. He's done well but he knows he's not performing as well as he should. He should be making more runs."

West Indies take on India in the third fixture at the Motera on Monday in a must win game.

Uday Kaul to continue as Punjab skipper

Mohali: Uday Kaul will lead Punjab in the remaining three Ranji Trophy matches as regular skipper Harbhajan Singh has been ruled out due to injury, a Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) spokesman said on Saturday.

Punjab are to play three league games against Rajasthan in Jaipur (December 6-9) against Karnataka in Bangalore (December 13-16) and against Mumbai in Mumbai (December 21-24).

Manager of Punjab team Vikram Rathore informed the selection committee, which met here on Saturday, about the shin injury to Harbhajan which has ruled him out for four weeks.

The selectors then decided to continue Uday Kaul as the captain for the remaining league matches, the PCA said.


Uday Kaul (c/wk), Sarul Kanwar, Karan Goel, Andeep Singh, Mayank Sidana, Bipul Sharma, Manpreet Singh Gony, Barinder Singh, Amtioz Singh, Rajwinder Singh, Vishwas Bhalla, Sandeep Sharma, Gitnsh Khera, Ravi Inder Singh, Harmeet Singh Bansal and Rahul Singla.