ICL terminates contracts: Razzaq

Pakistan's Abdul Razzaq has gone ahead and made a claim that the Indian Cricket League (ICL) has terminated the contracts of all Pakistani players and would issue 'No Objection Certificates' (NOCs) this week to enable them to play elsewhere, including for the national team.

"In the next two or three days we will have the NOCs in our hands and will be able to submit it to the Pakistan Cricket Board," Razzaq said.

He said the ICL would have no issues if the players signed up to play anywhere else. I think this opens the way for ICL players to again qualify and be eligible to play for Pakistan," he said.

Recently, senior batsman, Mohammad Yousuf has written to the PCB asking it to reconsider him for national selection and has submitted a written document confirming his willingness to end his ICL contract.

However, the PCB Chairman Ejaz Butt said he had no knowledge about ICL releasing the Pakistani cricketers, adding the matter would be discussed at the executive board meeting of the ICC on April 16 after which a final decision could be taken.

"I have spoken to the ICC Chairman and chief executive about the ICL players issue and we are hopeful we will get some good news. We want to resolve problems for these players who are after all our national players," Butt said.

What adds substance to the claim of Razzaq is the fact that the ICL has decided to hold it's championship in October instead of March due to the deepening economic recession. Also there are murmurs that the ICL has yet to settle the outstanding dues from the last year to the players.

Also the future of the ICL was put in further jeopardy after The Kiwi cricketers contracted with the rebel cricket league, were told that they would be offered a lease from their contracts if they were to request for their release. This move would enable the rebel Kiwis to resume their duties with their national side. The ICL contracted players recently received an e-mail from their organizers stating the option.

As per this, the players are allowed to immediately join their national team in case of a contract termination with ICL.

The ICL-bound 17 Pakistani players were banned by the PCB from playing domestic as well as international cricket since 2007.

But the Sindh High Court recently lifted the domestic cricket ban on the players after they challenged the PCB ban.

If the ICL does release the Pakistan players then Yousuf, Razzaq, Sami, Imran Nazir, and Rana Naveed could come into the equation when the selectors meet to pick the ODI squad to play Australia in Dubai.


IPL announces schedule

Cape Town will host the opening ceremony and the first match of the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on April 18 while the Wanderers Stadium will host the final on May 24.

The semi-finals are to be held on May 22 and 23 in Pretoria and Johannesburg respectively, as per the full schedule of the Twenty20 league.

In a double header on the first day, champions Rajasthan Royals will take on Bangalore Royal Challengers while the evening game will be contested between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Superkings.

Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria, East London, Kimberley, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth will be the 8 hosts for the 59 games.

Durban, which has a large South Asian community has been allotted the most games - 16 while Centurion in Pretoria will play host to 12 games.

The Wanderers in Johannesburg and Newlands in Cape Town come next best with eight matches each, with the latter playing host to four of these on the first two days of the tournament.

Seven matches are to be held in St George's Park in Port Elizabeth while Buffalo Park in East London has been allotted four matches.

Two matches each have been allocated to Outsurance Oval in Bloemfontein and De Beers Oval in Kimberley. Matches will start at 4 pm IST (12.30 pm local time) and 8 pm IST (4.30pm local time). There are a total of 10 double headers (two matches back-to-back at the same venue) with Durban hosting half of these.

Schedule: All times IST (GMT + 0530)

April 18: Rajasthan Royals (RR) v Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) (4 pm) at Cape Town; Mumbai Indians (MI) v Chennai Super Kings (CSK) (8 pm) at Cape Town

April 19: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) v Deccan Chargers (DC) (4 pm) at Cape Town; Delhi Daredevils (DD) v Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) (8 pm) at Cape Town

April 20: RCB V CSK (4 pm) at Port Elizabeth

April 21: RR v MI (4 pm) at Durban; KKR v KXIP (8 pm) at Durban

April 22: DD v CSK (4 pm) at Durban; RCB v DC (8 pm) at Cape Town

April 23: KKR v RR (4 pm) at Port Elizabeth

April 24: KXIP v RCB (4 pm) at Johannesburg

April 25: KKR v CSK (4 pm) at Cape Town; DC v MI (8 pm) at Durban

April 26: RR v KXIP (4 pm) at Cape Town; RCB v DD (8 pm) Port Elizabeth

April 27: KKR v MI (4 pm) at Cape Town; CSK v DC (8 pm) at Durban

April 28: DD v RR (4 pm) at Pretoria

April 29: MI v KXIP (4 pm) at Durban; KKR v RCB (8 pm) at Durban

April 30: DD v DC (4 pm) at Pretoria; RR v CSK (8 pm) at Pretoria

May 1: RCB v KXIP (4 pm) at East London; MI v KKR (8 pm) at Durban

May 2: RR v DC (4 pm) at Johannesburg; CSK v DD (8 pm) at Port Elizabeth

May 3: MI v RCB (4 pm) at Durban; KXIP v KKR (8 pm) at East London

May 4: DC v CSK (4 pm) at Port Elizabeth

May 5: DD v KKR (4 pm) at Durban; KXIP v RR (8 pm) at Durban

May 6: MI v DC (4 pm) at Pretoria

May 7: KXIP v CSK (4 pm) at Pretoria; RCB v RR (8 pm) at Pretoria

May 8: DD v MI (4 pm) at East London

May 9: DC v KXIP (4 pm) at Bloemfontein; CSK v RR (8 pm) at Port Elizabeth

May 10: KKR v DD (4 pm) at East London; RCB v MI (8 pm) at Johannesburg

May 11: DC v RR (4 pm) at Bloemfontein

May 12: RCB v KKR (4 pm) at Pretoria; KXIP v MI (8 pm) at Pretoria

May 13: DC v DD (4 pm) at Durban

May 14: MI v RR (4 pm) at Durban; CSK v RCB (8 pm) at Durban

May 15: KXIP v DD (4 pm) at Kimberley

May 16: CSK v MI (4 pm) at Johannesburg; DC v KKR (8 pm) at Port Elizabeth

May 17: RR v DD (4 pm) at Kimberley; KXIP v DC (8 pm) at Johannesburg

May 18: CSK v KKR (4 pm) at Pretoria

May 19: DD v RCB (4 pm) at Johannesburg

May 20: CSK v KXIP (4 pm) at Durban; RR v KKR (8 pm) at Durban

May 21: DC v RCB (4 pm) at Pretoria; MI v DD (8 pm) at Pretoria

May 22: Semi Final 1 at Pretoria

May 23: Semi Final 2 at Johannesburg

May 24: Final at Johannesburg.

Sourav's Aussie connection

Here we go again, just when Sourav Ganguly thought he had seen it all, from him being called the Maharaja who refused to carry drinks on his maiden tour to Australia in 91-92, to making a century on Debut at Lord's when he was derided as a zonal pick, to taking over the reins of the Indian cricket team at it's lowest ebb(the Match Fixing saga had just blown out in 2000), to leading India to the World Cup final in 2003, to having a public spat with Greg Chappell, then unceremoniously dropped from the team, making a glorious comeback, finally retiring in a blaze of glory after the Australian series, now comes another shocking announcement- he is stripped of the captaincy of the Kolkatta Knight Riders(KKR). Ganguly must be thinking why does it have to be him always who attracts all the controversy. After all he is controversy's favorite child.

What is with Sourav Ganguly and Aussie coaches- first he made the horrible mistake of choosing Greg Chappell over Tom Moody- when everyone in the team wanted Moody, Greg Chappell turned out to be more hotter than he could handle, now with John Buchanan saying he will field 4 different captains in a game, Ganguly must be getting the same old feeling of deja vu when Chappell wrote a damning mail to the BCCI after the tour of Zimbabwe in 2005. Looking at Ganguly's face in the press conference yesterday it was easier to fathom that he wanted to be somewhere else, he was trying hard to hide his disappointment, his expressions changing from anger to disbelief, even Buchanan said that if he was Ganguly he would be upset, Ganguly if he had his way might just have gone into invisible mode and smacked the hell out of Buchanan, but it was quite a sight to behold the coach and the captain seemingly at pains to explain the latest blockbuster innovation of Mr. Buchanan.

Ganguly was always a feisty character, prepared to speak his mind, never afraid to call a spade a shovel. When a similar sort of personality like Shahrukh Khan is the boss of the team there are bound to be ego clashes, throw in Buchanan into the mix and you have the perfect recipe for disaster, as a matter of fact both Ganguly and Shahrukh had huge differences of opinion in the IPL last year, but as any family would, they settled down to brush aside their differences, but it seems the infighting and petty squabbles have reared their ugly head again. It looks like the KKR are taking the promotional ad film of their franchise in which Ganguly grabs McCullum and Ponting by the scruff of their necks, a little bit too seriously.

John Buchanan the most successful coach in history is a man who has always stood for invention, be it the Chinese style army camp organized for the Aussies prior to their departure to England for the Ashes in 2005, ironically they lost that series and also many in the team were not happy with him which is a different story altogether. He also predicted that players in future will be ambidextrous,where they can bat or bowl equally well with both hands, so it is not a surprise to see him coming up with another move this time of having different captains for different stages of a game.

Buchanan spelt out his plan, he will have a player walking out for the toss, a batting captain, a fielding captain, a bowling captain, probably a captain for overseeing what should be the menu for the players to eat, then there can be a captain as well to see who drives the team bus on the way to the ground. Innovation is Buchanan's middle name but it does seem he has gone a little too far this time.

It is an arduous task of managing an international cricket team and it becomes even more difficult when you consider coaching the Indian cricket team, because India is a country of different hues and everyone in the team can have their own little cliques. Now imagine managing an IPL team which has Gayle, Ponting, McCullum, Mendis and Ganguly, it would take a brave man to say that he will have 4-5 captains for this side. It will be very interesting to see what will Mendis reply to Gayle if he does not agree to give his field, probably some cuss words in Sinhala, the possibilities are endless.

In recent times we have had numerous coach- captain fiascos, again Ganguly heads the list, his infamous spat with Guru Greg Chappell hogged so much news space in the media in India that he might well have been the most loved or hated man on the planet depending on your choice. Recently Kevin Pietersen just did not want anything to do with Peter Moores and ultimately both had to be sacked, but the repercussions were found immediately as England lost the Test series 0-1 to a spirited West Indian side.

What exactly is a coach's role in cricket? This issue has been discussed thread bare in the media numerous times, but to just state the obvious, a cricket coach is not the final authority on the game unlike a football manager who has to worry about substitutions, the time left on the clock, decide on who takes the Penalty kicks in a shootout, and several other finer details. A football manager has to be proactive since it involves his total effort into the game, a timely substitution at the vital moment can change a game, a cricket coach on the other hand does not have much to do other than ironing out small technical deficiencies that might have crept into a player's game.There are so many back room staff in cricket nowadays that the role of the coach is getting diminished by the day. England for example have a separate XI of back room staff if you can call it that, if god forbid something happens to their main cricket team they can step in at any time without worrying about replacements.

Then why cant the coach and captain seem to co- exist peacefully in cricket? Is it because that either of them think that they are the sole authority on the game or is it that the coach wants to operate like a football manager who exerts more power on his players? Either ways unlike a football manager who is the final decision maker on the field, the captain will and always be the one who will be calling all the shots on the field, if the reverse of the above mentioned scenarios were to happen then it will lead to many Chappell- Ganguly episodes. Also it should be mentioned that the iconic Sir Alex Fergusson hurled a boot at David Beckham after he was seen as encroaching upon the authority of the coach. Now imagine Buchanan throwing something at Ganguly after he gets out cheaply, probably Buchanan might never want to know the consequences of such an action.

Shane Warne once famously said that the coach is one who drives the players to and fro from the ground, it is said that he was never in favor of coaches and especially not pleased with Buchanan's methods, he proved everyone wrong by winning the IPL last year when he successfully led a team of rank rookies to the title. In fact India too were without a proper coach when they won the series in England in 2007, the senior players like Sachin, Ganguly, Kumble, Dravid and Laxman were the decision makers on that tour, it just shows that you don't need a coach when you have such a top class line up. It is debatable whether Australia would have won two World Cups without John Buchanan, they might well have because they had such a wonderful line up.

With a bowling coach, a fielding coach, and a coach for every aspect of the game, the head coach of the cricket team is becoming just another man in a bunch of guys looking to produce the results. Strikingly coaches who prefer to be in the back ground like John Wright, Gary Kirsten, Duncan Fletcher have had the most success unlike the harsh handed methods of a Greg Chappell who successfully turned the late swing of Irfan Pathan's bowling into a batting swing from which he could never recover his tremendous bowling skills and finally a wonderful talent was lost to the world. Guru Greg even had the temerity to question Sachin Tendulkar's commitment after India bowed out of the 2007 World Cup which was as blasphemous as John Lennon saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ.

Finally for the creme de la creme to finish it off and it comes from who else but Shane Warne, when asked during the IPL last year "What is the coach doing mate"? he replied in his usual naughty style, "He is driving the bus mate". That quote symbolizes what he thinks of coaches in cricket, probably he was right and you cant dispute with one Shane Keith Warne, can you?

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Indian media, players disappointed over losing IPL

Indian media and top players expressed disappointment on Wednesday after cricket's showpiece Indian Premier League (IPL) was moved to South Africa over security concerns in only its second year.

The decision, announced in Johannesburg, follows days of uncertainty over the glitzy event, which was hailed as the sport's future on its debut last year but was thrown into doubt by recent terror attacks in Mumbai and Lahore.

Organisers took the dramatic step of shifting the event abroad after Indian authorities could not guarantee security because of a clash with national elections, naming South Africa as the venue just three days later.

"To move the event outside India has been one of the hardest decisions that the Board of Control for Cricket in India has had to take," said IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.

"But I'm equally confident that staging it in South Africa will be a major success. We extend a huge gratitude to our friends at Cricket South Africa for agreeing to host the Indian Premier League in such a short time."

The IPL and South Africa now face the mammoth task of organising the eight-team tournament, probably played over six venues, in just over three weeks with the start scheduled for April 18.

The event is likely to be shortened from six weeks to five and include double-headers, with all matches broadcast live in South Africa by the Johannesburg-based SuperSport channel.

The move abroad has been controversial in India, with an NDTV news channel poll showing 59 percent of people opposed it and only 26 percent were in favour.

Some 50 percent thought the relocation was a disgrace to India, revealing a sense of anger that India was not a trustworthy host of top-grade cricket.

"The decision to outsource the tournament, even as schedules were being repeatedly revised, has come as a bitter disappointment - publicly shared by the great Sachin Tendulkar - to millions of fans," The Hindu newspaper said.

"It is astonishing that Lalit Modi & Co. missed what every newspaper-reading schoolboy and schoolgirl was expected to know, namely that the 15th general election would be held in April-May 2009."

Tendulkar, who captains the IPL's Mumbai Indians and holds the all-time record for Test runs, said the players "would certainly miss playing in front of our supporters."

"It is obviously going to be different," he said. "In India it is about home games and away games. Right now, everything is going to be an away game."

Sri Lanka's star spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan, who plays for Chennai Super Kings, agreed the move was unfortunate but inevitable.

"I guess it would not be the same this year," he said. "But at the same time, the game must go on, else cricket would die. This is the right decision."

November's Mumbai attacks, which left 165 dead, raised security fears for the tournament and this month gunmen in Lahore, Pakistan ambushed the Sri Lankan team's convoy, killing eight Pakistanis.

The decision to move the IPL also caused fresh worries for next year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, although organisers insist they are not worried about security.

The IPL has been seen as a fresh start for cricket and a shift from its traditional power bases to South Asia, where lucrative TV rights provide the sport's main source of income.

The new order is highlighted by the IPL's glittering auction, where team owners including Bollywood stars and Indian tycoons bid large sums of money to sign up the world's top players.

With the IPL heading for South Africa, the country is at the centre of the cricket world with Australia touring until April 17 and a 12-nation qualifying tournament for the 2011 World Cup starting next Wednesday.

The International Cricket Council eight-nation Champions Trophy, the second biggest tournament after the World Cup, will also be held in South Africa during September and October.

South Africa to host Indian Premier League

A CSA source told AFP the opening ceremony is slated for Cape Town and Centurion, Durban, East London, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth would be the other venues.

A tournament that attracts most of the biggest names in the game is being moved from India because the dates clash with general elections and there would be insufficient security for the cricket event.

Bollywood cinema stars and major Indian industrialists own the IPL eight teams and cricketers are 'bought' at an auction for a tournament designed to feed the enormous Indian appetite for their favourite sport.

South Africa beat England to the hosting rights because of several factors, including weather, finances, television rights and the speedy issuing of more than 1,000 visas.

Rain is less likely to affect matches in South Africa than England during the tournament period and with a dollar worth almost 10 rand it is an attractive option financially.

Johannesburg-based sports channel SuperSport hold the rights to IPL and international cricket in South Africa, clearing a huge hurdle.

CSA sources told AFP another factor which favoured South Africa was government assurances that the 1,000-plus visas required would be processed swiftly and the tournament would receive "red-carpet treatment".

Majola and Modi have developed a close personal relationship through various cricket projects, including the formation of the Twenty20 Champions League last year.

With the IPL heading for South Africa, the country becomes the centre of the cricket world with Australia touring until April 17 and a 12-nation qualifying tournament for the 2011 World Cup starting next Wednesday.

The International Cricket Council eight-nation Champions Trophy, the second biggest tournament after the World Cup, will also be held in South Africa during September and October.

"Both these factors weighed heavily in favour of South Africa, and we look forward to a successful and exciting tournament being held at venues throughout the country."

Majola said: "The organisers can be assured they have the full support of CSA structures and the South African public to stage a successful tournament.

"This will strengthen the ties even further between South African and Indian cricket, as well as binding our nations even closer together.

"We are looking forward to hosting some of the world?s best cricketers, and we can assure them they will be provided with the very best facilities to show their skills."

The ECB recognised that the IPL organisers had taken the practical option.

"The England and Wales Cricket Board has today (Tuesday) been thanked by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for their readiness to be a venue for the Indian Premier League," the statement said.

"Both the ECB and BCCI recognised that there were logistical issues, including climate and permanent floodlights, which made South Africa a more practical choice in the timescale available."

Plans include shortening the tournament from six weeks to five, staging double headers and all matches to be broadcast live in South Africa by the Johannesburg-based SuperSport channel.

South Africa will host the Indian Premier League (IPL) during April and May, it was confirmed at a press conference here on Tuesday.

The decision follows days of frenetic speculation over whether South Africa or England would earn the right to host the second edition of a dazzling show featuring the international stars of cricket.

South Africa was chosen even before IPL commissioner Lalit Modi held talks with officials of the England and Wales Cricket Board in London, scheduled for Wednesday.

Modi and Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Gerald Majola told media at Wanderers Club here that the Twenty20 tournament would be staged from April 18 into May, probably at six venues.

"To move the event outside India has been one of the hardest decisions that the Board of Control for Cricket in India has had to take, but I?m equally confident that staging it in South Africa will be a major success," said Modi.

"We extend a huge gratitude to our friends at Cricket South Africa for agreeing to host the Indian Premier League in such a short time.

"I?m sure all South African cricket fans are looking forward to the spectacle of seeing the world?s best players compete against each other in this tournament.

"The South African public loves Twenty2O cricket and CSA successfully hosted the inaugural World Twenty20.

Pak players may play in IPL

The beleaguered Pakistan players got a much needed boost when it was speculated that they may get a chance to feature in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season as at least one of the franchises is keen to have them playing.

Sources close to the players say at least four Pakistani players including Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal could be in line to play for their old franchises in the IPL.

"Since the IPL is now not being held in India the franchises are thinking about asking for permission from the organisers to bring back their Pakistani players on board for the tournament," one source said.

The source said Kolkatta Knight Riders was one team that had already indicated it wanted pace bowler Umar Gul back while Rajasthan Royals were also eyeing all-rounder Sohail.

But with the IPL being shifted abroad, even the Pakistan cricket Board has said it would speak to the government and Indian board to find out if Pakistani players can take part in the lucrative competition now.

PCB Chairman Ejaz Butt has said he would find out whether their players are still required to play in the IPL after its relocation from India.

"I will be talking to the Indian board president and also our government," "I am sure some of the players would now like to play in the IPL if possible. If some players are interested in playing in the IPL and if their commitments don't clash with our national team commitments I will talk to the relevant authorities.

"If we get a chance to play why not after all it is a big tournament and there is good money involved. And since it is now not being held in India, I don't see any reason why we should not be allowed to play in the IPL," one senior player said.

Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar also told a cricket website in an interview that he was hopeful the Pakistanis could get a last minute call up despite the franchises having full players roosters and the commitment of the Pakistan team against Australia from April 22.

"For me, it is not over till it's over. I haven't given up. It's up to the franchises. If they call upon my services, I will provide them," he told the website.

"We do not have great circumstances with India at the moment. The situation between us is not crictical anymore, and hopefully it will get better in the coming months. It is a shame for the Indian fans that the tournament will not be played in India, but I think it is a good thing that it is still happening. London is like a second home to us. We would be very comfortable playing there. It would be great if that happened, but for now I am preparing to play against Australia in the ODIs next month and take wickets for my country."

Two new venues for this year's IPL

IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi confirmed Tuesday that two new venues - Ahmedabad and Vishakapatnam will host matches in this year's IPL. He also said that the final schedule was being "fine tuned".

"The schedule is being fine tuned. You have to understand that one game moved has a domino effect," Modi told reporters.

He added that there was also the likelihood of adding Dharamshala and Nagpur as other venues.

The opening and closing ceremonies will take place at Mumbai's DY Patil stadium but the Mumbai Indians are expected to play all their seven home games at the Brabourne stadium.

With security being the top concern this time around, Modi said that the IPL had decided on a central security system, adding that the security budget "has gone up by 10 times since last year".

"Security is paramount for us. Players, officials and fans are all very important. Players' security was the responsibility of the teams last year but this time we have gone venue by venue managing the security centrally. Of course we will coordinate with the teams," Modi said.

"We are in touch with the police commissioners of the states as well for security.

"We have approached the state government for dates when matches should not be held. The IPL will be coming out with a revised schedules with plugging new dates. Ninety per cent of schedules have been cleared. One state has asked for one date to be changed. We are waiting for five states to get back to us with their confirmation," Modi said.

Elaborating on the security plan, Modi said, "From the minute a (foreign) player lands here to the minute he leaves India. From the minute an Indian player enters the hotel to the minute he leaves, we will be managing the security." PTI

Modi said that all states have agreed to the new schedule "in principle" but the new schedule will only be announced "when we get written confirmations".

Modi also said that the Chennai Super Kings might not play all their home games in Chennai and that an alternate venue was being worked out.

The Rajasthan Royals will play their home games in Jaipur.

"Yes, they will play there, Rajasthan was the first state to confirm in writing. The Rajasthan government has approved the schedule in writing."

He also dismissed claims of foreign players raising security issues. No foreign players have contacted IPL about their apprehensions on security."

He added that IPL's security experts had been instructed to be in touch with the board of other countries and "brief them of our security steps".

During the press conference Modi also unveiled the new logo of the DLF Indian Premier League and discussed details of the 30-minute opening ceremony.