by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka Cricket has roped in Grant Luden to their coaching staff ahead of the two Test series against England. South African Luden has worked with several international teams and will function as SLC’s trainer. SLC sources said that Luden was set to join in November last year, but his recruitment was delayed due to the pandemic.
Luden entered the Sri Lankan team’s bubble in South Africa and arrived in the island in the chartered flight that carried the Sri Lankan team and he is at present in Galle with the team.
Luden is credited for raising Pakistan’s fielding standards as they went onto win the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017. During his time in Pakistan, he doubled up as Fielding and Conditioning Coach working alongside current Head Coach Mickey Arthur.
SLC sources said that Luden’s ‘tough guy’ reputation was one main reason for them to hire him. There have been question marks about Sri Lankan cricketers’ fitness standards in the last five years. The issue came to the attention of the Sports Ministry as well in 2017. Guidelines were issued by the Ministry to the national selection panel indicating minimum fitness standards for selection. This resulted in a run-in between then Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara and Lasith Malinga.
Sri Lanka are staying in the posh Le Grand in Galle where a room costs more than Rs. 40,000 per night. The hotel is a stone’s throw away from the Galle International Stadium. England are a bit further away at the more spacious Light House, where they stayed during their visits to Galle since 2001.
Sri Lanka’s training session was cancelled yesterday as it rained the whole day in Galle. The team was forced to stay indoors. England, who spent their quarantine and early training in Hambantota, reached Galle on Saturday. They had a day off yesterday.
Meanwhile SLC has allowed players families to enter the bubble. Some players have been away from their families since early December when they entered into a bubble for the LPL and then travelled to South Africa for the two Test series.
The opening Test match between the teams will get underway on the 14th of January. Both Tests will be played in Galle. Sri Lanka will travel to West Indies soon after the England series and on return will host Bangladesh. All the postponed series of last year due to the pandemic will be played this year.
ICC names all-woman panel of match officials for 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup
The upcoming women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa will have an all-woman line-up of match officials, in what will be a landmark first in the game.On Friday, the ICC announced the panel of three match referees and ten umpires, featuring officials from seven countries. The match referees are GS Lakshmi (India), Shandre Fritz (South Africa) and Michell Pereira (Sri Lanka). The on-field and TV umpires will be Sue Redfern (England), Eloise Sheridan (Australia), Claire Polosak (Australia), Jacqueline Williams (West Indies), Kim Cotton (new Zealand), Lauren Agenbag (South Africa), Anna Harris (England), Vrinda Rathi (India), N Janani (India) and Nimali Perera (Sri Lanka).
Selecting this panel was part of the governing body’s “strategic ambition of advancing the involvement and visibility of women in cricket,” an ICC statement said.
The panel will also have the most number of women umpires and match referees in a global ICC tournament, four more than the nine who are at the ongoing women’s Under-19 T20 World Cup.
“Women’s cricket has been growing rapidly in recent years and as part of that, we have been building the pathways to ensure more women have the opportunity to officiate at the highest level,” Wasim Khan, ICC’s general manager of cricket, said. “This announcement is a reflection of our intent in this space and just the start of our journey where men and women enjoy the same opportunities across our sport.
“We are committed to continuing to support our female match officials and provide opportunities to showcase their talents on the global stage. I wish them all the best for the tournament.”
The eighth edition of the women’s T20 World Cup begins with hosts South Africa facing Sri Lanka on February 10. Defending champions Australia are in Group A with Bangladesh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Arica. Group B has England, India, Ireland, Pakistan and West Indies. The top two teams from each group will move into the semi-finals.The matches will be played in Cape Town, Gqeberha and Paarl with the final scheduled for February 26 at Newlands.
ACC to meet in Bahrain on Feb 4, call on Asia Cup expected
The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) will meet in Bahrain on February 4. A decision on the Asia Cup is expected at the much-awaited meeting where the representatives of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will be present. It could be a stormy affair in the Persian Gulf city of Bahrain, with the two boards having been at loggerheads.
The hosting right of the upcoming Asia Cup, which will be an ODI championship among the continental sides, has been a bone of contention, with the BCCI and the PCB being at odds over the venue. The August-September championship was allotted to the PCB but in view of political tension between India and Pakistan, the BCCI had declared that the Indian team will not be in a position to travel to Pakistan.
The BCCI’s refusal was initially escalated by former PCB chairman Ramiz Raja who threatened to boycott the World Cup in India later in the year. A similar stand seems to have also been taken by Najam Sethi, who succeeded Raja, but there seems little support from other ACC members to the PCB position.
The BCCI and the PCB sparred recently after Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary and ACC president, announced the schedule of the council. It was responded with sarcasm by Sethi who said in a social media post, “Thank you @JayShah for unilaterally presenting @ACCMedia1 structure & calendars 2023-24 especially relating to Asia Cup 2023 for which Pakistan is the event host. While you are at it, you might as well present structure & calendar of our PSL 2023! A swift response will be appreciated (sic).”
The PCB chairman’s comments were rejected by ACC which declared that Shah’s post was not unilateral. “It has come to our knowledge that PCB Chairman Mr Najam Sethi has made a comment on the ACC President unilaterally taking the decision on finalising the calendar and announcing the same. The ACC wants to clarify that it has followed well established and due process. The calendar was approved by its Development Committee and Finance & Marketing Committee in a meeting held on December 13th, 2022.
“The calendar was then communicated to all the participating members individually, including Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), via an email dated December 22nd, 2022. While responses were received from certain Member Boards, no comments or suggested modifications were received from PCB. In view of the above, Mr Sethi’s comments on a social media platform are baseless and are vehemently denied by the ACC,” the ACC said backing Shah’s position.
With the meeting in Bahrain happening in such a backdrop, it could be a stormy affair. A BCCI official, who was in Mumbai for the unveiling of Women’s Premier League teams, confirmed a final decision on the Asia Cup will be taken in Bahrain on February 4.
Brian Lara joins West Indies management as ‘performance mentor’
Cricket West Indies have roped in legendary batter Brian Lara as a ‘performance mentor’, who will work across formats with the international teams as well as with the academy. Lara will assist the various coaches with regard to “providing players with tactical advice and improving their game sense”. He will also work with Jimmy Adams, the Director of Cricket, on ICC World Cup tournament strategic planning.
“Having spent time with the players and coaches in Australia and in discussions with CWI, I really believe that I can help the players with their mental approach to the game and with their tactics to be more successful,” Lara said.
The 53-year-old Lara’s first assignment in the new role will be with the Test side on the tour of Zimbwbwe, where he has already joined the squad ahead of the first Test in Bulawayo on February 4. Lara will take a short break in the middle to discharge his duties as the head coach of the Sunrisers Hyderabad during IPL 2023.
Lara was recently appointed on a CWI review panel following their early exit at the 2022 T20 World Cup. They were subsequently swept 2-0 by Australia in a Test series and now seek a course-correction as they build towards this year’s 50-over World Cup in India.
“I am really looking forward to Brian making a significant contribution to our cricket system by providing invaluable guidance and advice to our players and coaches,” Adams said. “We are confident that Brian will help to improve our high-performance mindset and strategic culture that will bring us more success on the field across all formats. Everyone is excited to have Brian involved in supporting our players.”
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