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Bio-bubble fatigue forces some overseas players to opt out of IPL-14



by S Venkat Narayan,    

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, April 3:

The months-long bubble life is beginning to take its toll as international players have started to drop out of the world’s richest cricket Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 14th edition citing bubble fatigue.

Fast bowler Mark Wood, who has spent many weeks, on and off, in bio-bubbles with the English team since July last year, was the first to withdraw, hours before the auction in February. Then, a couple of weeks back, Australian wicket-keeper batsman Joshua Philippe informed his franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) that he is not coming. Now, two more Australian cricketers, Mitchell Marsh and Josh Hazlewood, have made themselves unavailable, hours before their flight to India.

The IPL begins on April 9 and concludes on May 30. The tournament will be staged, without spectators, in six bio-secure bubbles even as India is in the grip of an intense second wave of the pandemic.

All the players who have opted out have spoken of the challenge of playing while under the constant restrictions of quarantines and bio-bubbles, often away from their families for long stretches at a time. The IPL requires all stakeholders to undergo a week of hard quarantine before entering the bubble.

“It’s been a long 10 months in bubbles and quarantine at different times. So, I decided to have a rest from cricket and spend some time at home and in Australia in the next two months,” Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) seamer Hazlewood told on Thursday. “That’s the decision I’ve made and it sits pretty well with me.”

The Australian internationals have been living the bubble life since July last year, competing in England, then the UAE IPL, followed by the international bubble at home against India. Hazlewood said he has prioritized international cricket, with this being a T20 World Cup and an Ashes year. He could now be seen playing at the back end of the domestic season for New South Wales.

On Wednesday, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) declared that all-rounder Marsh had “opted out due to personal reasons”. Marsh had to pull out of the last IPL in SRH’s season opener itself due to an ankle injury. After recovery, he played in the Big Bash league as well as the T20I’s against New Zealand. Philippe, who is a white ball specialist, competed in the same competitions post-IPL as Marsh.

Although the franchises have been left to look for last minute replacements, they have been publicly supportive of the players’ decisions. “The RCB management is disappointed to lose a player of Josh’s calibre for this IPL season. But, at the same time, we fully understand, respect and support his decision of excluding himself from the tournament,” the franchise said in a statement.

RCB found a like-for-like replacement for Philippe in New Zealand’s Finn Allen. SRH have replaced Marsh with England’s prolific opener Jason Roy, although their top order resources are many with Jonny Bairstow, David Warner and Kane Williamson in the squad.

With the IPL being the most lucrative tournament in cricket, the predicament before the players is real.

“It’s life-changing money which is why it was such a difficult decision for me,” Wood said. One of the fastest bowlers in the world right now—he regularly bowls at 150kph—Wood is a much sought-after player. “I didn’t want to go into the auction and then let a team down at a later date. I didn’t think that was fair,” he said.

As many as 12 of Wood’s English teammates are competing in the IPL this year. England Cricket Board’s acceptance of IPL as a part of the cricket calendar is as much about the quality of the league as it is about the money on offer.

“We don’t particularly want to go toe-to-toe with our players over IPL participation in the long run because we may face losing some of our best players,” Ashley Giles, ECB director of cricket said in a BBC talk show. “I don’t want that to be a kiss of death. I think we have to understand that it could be a danger in the future.”

England’s rotation policy for their all-format players, which came in for criticism for not fielding their best Test team against India, was devised with the seven-week long IPL in mind.

No Indian player has withdrawn from IPL-14. But captain Virat Kohli also spoke about the workload and bubble fatigue recently.

“Scheduling needs to be looked at in the future, because playing in ‘bubbles’ for so long is going to be very, very difficult going forward,” he said after the conclusion of the two-month-long home series against England. “You can’t expect everyone to be at the same level of mental strength. Sometimes, you do get cooked.”

Indian players have been competing in bubbles starting with the UAE IPL last September. Since then, there was a long tour to Australia and a lengthy home series against England. There is non-stop cricket ahead too, with the WTC final following the IPL, a five-Test series in England, and more home matches before the T20 World Cup this October.

While BCCI officials say the players are permitted to opt-out, unlike England there is no planned rotation policy in place.

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First sprinter to run 100m in under 10 seconds dies




Jim Hines held the world record in the men's 100m for nearly 15 years (pic BBC)

US sprinter Jim Hines, the first man to run the 100m in under 10 seconds, has died at the age of 76.

He broke the record in 1968 when he recorded a hand-timed 9.9 seconds at the US Championships. Hines then broke his own record shortly after while winning gold at the 1968 Olympics, where an electronic timer in Mexico City recorded him at 9.95. His record held for nearly 15 years until Calvin Smith ran a time of 9.93 in 1983.

That is the longest length of time an athlete has held the record for the men’s 100m since the International Amateur Athletic Foundation began keeping track – 110 years ago.

His death was announced in a statement by World Athletics. The organisation said it is “deeply saddened” by the news. Both the Olympics and USA Track and Field shared tributes to Hines on Twitter. “The sport has lost a legend,” USA Track and Field said.

Hines was born in the state of Arkansas in 1946 but was raised in Oakland, California.

He had an early love of sport, namely baseball, but showed a real talent for sprinting as a teenager. He attended Texas Southern University where he ran for the Tigers track team before competing in national championships and the Olympics.

In addition to winning the 100m at the Mexico Olympics, he was also part of the US 4x100m relay team which won a gold.

He ended his sprinting career shortly after the Olympics and joined the NFL. He spent three years in the league, playing for the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs.

(BBC Sports)

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Silverwood promises to address dot ball issue



Rex Clementine
at Suriyawewa

Leading up to the World Cup Qualifiers starting in less than two weeks’ time in Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka’s Head Coach Chris Silverwood promised to address the team’s dot-ball woes.

In the first ODI against Afghanistan which the hosts lost by six wickets here on Friday, there were 158 dot balls with the batters struggling to rotate the strike. That is a huge amount coming up to more than 25 overs. Although the number was cut down to 128 in the second game, Sri Lanka would like to do better than that.

“The dot ball issue is something that we are addressing. A lot of people are talking about it I know. We need to rotate the strike better and put the pressure back on the bowlers. The boundary percentage went up in the last game. Getting a balance between the two will help us to score above 300,” Silverwood told journalists.

Silverwood, the former England Head Coach, also welcomed the return of seniors Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne back into the side bringing more stability to the batting unit. Mathews was left out for game two, but that appears to be part of the team’s strategy to give everyone in the squad a go.

“Angelo was brought into the squad to boost the batting lineup and bring confidence into the side. He has experience of playing big matches. The fact is we must prepare the whole squad to cover ourselves to face any situation.

“Dimuth is making a comeback into the ODI side and he played superbly. He had a good Test series against Ireland. His tempo is very good. He gave us something to build on. The openers added 80 plus for the first wicket. Every partnership after that was scored at less than run a ball. It shows what we can do when we have a good start,” noted Silverwood.

Dhananjaya de Silva came up with a match-winning effort in the second game bowling his off-spin so well picking up three wickets that included the prize scalp of Ibrahim Zadran and earlier his less than run a ball 29 had helped Sri Lanka to a match-winning total of 323 for six.

“Dhananjaya is at six and has to adapt to situations whether it be setting a target or chasing one. The first game he played a superb inning. Today we saw him capitalizing after we had a great start. He kept the momentum going. Obviously scored quickly which is exactly what we need to get over 300. We want to keep pushing the barriers. When it comes to his bowling, he has been threatening to do it for a while.”

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Tharushi dazzles with two golds



Sri Lanka’s mixed relay team with their medals. (from left) Jayeshi Uththara, Tharushi Karunaratne, Susantha Fernando (coach and manager), Shehan Dilranga and Vinod Ariyawansa.

Asian Junior Athletics Championship

by Reemus Fernando

Ratnayake Central, Walala runner Tharushi Karunaratne won back to back gold medals as Sri Lanka reaped a haul of three medals on day two of the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in South Korea on Monday.

Karunaratne won the gold medal in the women’s 800 metres before running the vital anchor leg for her team to clinch gold ahead of strong Indian and hosts’ teams in the 4×400 metres mixed relay.

Gold medals Sri Lanka won yesterday were its eighth and ninth since the commencement of the biennial championship in 1986.

Competing in her pet event, Karunaratne was hardly challenged as she led from the first 100 metres to finish in a time of 2:05.64 seconds. Karunaratne, had set an Asian (junior) leading time just outside the current national record to earn her ticket to the event in South Korea. “I am really proud of her achievement. I was not expecting her to run close to her personal best as she had given her best in the 400 metres,” Susantha Fernando her coach told The Island after she clinched her first gold. She won the silver medal of the 400 metres on Sunday.

In the mixed relay she started in the third position but when the Indian counterpart who had won the gold in the 400 metres individual event tumbled at the start she grabbed the opportunity to fight for the first place and there was no turning back for her from there on. Jayeshi Uththara who won the 400 metres bronze, Shehan Dilranga and Vinod Ariyawansa were the others to form the mixed relay team.

She finished in a new Sri Lanka record time of 3:25.41 seconds. She was also a member of the team that had set the previous national record at the World Junior Championships. While the country’s senior athletes are yet to run the mixed relay at an international event, the junior athletes’ performances had been considered as National Records.

Kahawatta Central triple jumper Malith Yasiru was the other medallist of the day. Yasiru cleared 15.82 metres, seven centimeters shy of his personal best, to win the bronze ahead of India’s Sukhpreet Singh. Japan’s Miyao Manato who was the only athlete to clear the 16 metres mark (16.08m) and China’s Ma Yinglong (15.98m) won the gold and silver medals respectively.

With the two gold medals won yesterday the country has nine gold medals against her name at these championships now. Sri Lanka’s first gold medals of these championships were won by Damayathi Dharsha (100m) and Susanthika Jayasinghe (200m) in Jakarta Indonesia in 1994. The country had to wait till 2012 when it hosted the event in Colombo to witness the next gold. Dulaj Madusanka and Shivanthi Kumari Ratnayake won golds in the men’s and women’s 400 metres at the Sugathadasa Stadium while also anchoring the 4×400 metres relay teams to bronze and silver.

At the last edition in Gifu, Japan the country won three golds with Aruna Dharshana winning the men’s 400 metres with a championship record time of 45.79 seconds. Dharshana also ran a vital leg to win the 4×400 metres gold. The other gold came in the women’s 3000 metres steeplechase when Parami Wasanthi clocked a National Junior Record time of 10:21.54 seconds to win.

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