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Bookies eyeing women’s cricket, approach international player for fixing: ICC report

Jasvinder Sidhu

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Bookies and corrupters have begun to explore the potential in women's ccricket, after its gradual rise in popularity.

New Delhi: An international female cricketer has been approached by a bookie, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) annual report for 2018-19 reveals, making it the first case where a women player has been approached with a fixing proposal. cricket news match fixing mithali raj

International women’s cricket has gradually become popular across the world, thanks to extensive live TV coverage, bookies and corrupters have now begun to explore possibilities and potentials in it, Sports Lounge understands.

“The ACU’s education has extended to female players and under-19 sides. This past year has seen the first reported approach to a women’s player,” says the report authored in May.

“The increased profile and coverage of women’s cricket, in particular, will potentially make those games more attractive to gamblers and therefore corruptors. Education materials are also being made available to national governing bodies to share with players and teams at the domestic level”.

SL has learnt that the woman cricketer in question had reported this approach to the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU). cricket news match fixing mithali raj

The report read: “The increased reporting has enabled the ACU to disrupt and pursue corrupters who are outside cricket. Even though their activities may fall outside the Anti-Corruption Code, they can be interviewed, warned to stay away from the game and reported to law enforcement or immigration authorities”.

Last year, the ICC had invited India’s ODI skipper Mithali Raj in its five-day meeting in Kolkata as a special invitee and she was asked if any corrupter ever approached her or made her any offer. However, she declared that no one had ever approached her.

The 2017 women’s ODI World Cup had witnessed an almost 300 per cent increase in viewing hours in comparison to its last edition in 2013. cricket news match fixing mithali raj

In the 2017 edition of the tournament, the ICC ensured that matches could either be viewed on television or via live-streaming as part of its commitment to the global growth of the women’s game. The approach paid huge dividends.

According to the ICC, “An extraordinary 156 million people viewed the event (2017 World Cup) in India, of which 80 million was rural reach and 126 million were for the final alone. India’s fine performances contributed to a 500 per cent increase in viewing hours in their country”.

The ICC and Interpol (international criminal police organisation) has now been working together to curb the malaise of corruption in international cricket. cricket news match fixing mithali raj

The fresh annual report discussed about corruption in Sri Lankan cricket in length and revealed that it has recruited new anti-corruption officers specifically for Sri Lanka.

“Our ongoing strategic aim is to press for anti-corruption legislation in countries where it currently does not exist. The ACU has worked closely with the Sri Lankan government to introduce legislation to criminalise corruption in cricket,” the report said. cricket news match fixing mithali raj

“Sri Lanka was a major focus of ACU activity over the past 12 months with a number of charges being brought and a number of people coming forward during the ground-breaking two-week amnesty in January.”

In February, former Sri Lanka captain and chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya was banned from cricket for two years after admitting breach of two counts of ICC’s anti-corruption code.

The ICC also suspended three other former Sri Lankan players—Nuwan Joysa, Avishka Gunawardene and Dilhara Lokuhettige—for breaching the anti-corruption code.

“New anti-corruption officers, who have been trained by the ACU, have been put in place in Sri Lanka. This is part of a new, improved approach to anti-corruption in that country. The high profile nature of some of the charges made a significant impact,” the annual report said.

The ICC’s anti-corruption unit has also charged three Hong Kong players, while a Zimbabwe official was banned for 10 years.

According to the report the short-format leagues around the world continue to present challenges and 10 investigations emerged from the Afghanistan Premier League which took place in the UAE on October 2018.

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For Indian football’s sake, AIFF must disclose future plan for clubs, says Bhaichung Bhutia

Jaydeep Basu

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Bhaichung Bhutia
Former captian Bhaichung Bhutia is concerned about the state Indian football finds itself in.

New Delhi: Bhaichung Bhutia donned national colours for 17 years, 12 of them as captain. He hung up his boots in 2011, but did not stay away from the game.

He managed a professional club in Sikkim and remained the chairman of All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) technical committee. He heads a successful football school that has branches all over India.

“At least two footballers in the current national team, Ashique Kuruniyan and Aniruddh Thapa, were first spotted by our school,” he said with a tinge of pride in his voice.

Yet the soccer icon looked unsure when Sports Lounge asked him when the I-League could begin this season? “Will at all it be played this season,” Bhaichung asked back smilingly.

The smile on his face, however, vanished almost immediately. For him, it is not a subject to laugh about. Looking through the large window of the fashionable cafeteria in the Capital’s upscale Khan Market, Bhaichung spoke almost absent-mindedly.

“I hear they may start I-League in November. The announcement may come any time. But what Indian football urgently needs is a structure. That is missing for now.

“I felt assured when the AIFF in June said there would be a roadmap down the line for three years. But so far nothing has come out. Whether there will be a kind of merger between the ISL and I-League or two separate divisions, everything has to be laid out on the table. All stakeholders should be called and made a part of it.

“The I-League clubs should also know what is there in the offing. They would start preparing according to it. Even if there are divisions, there has to be promotion and relegation.

“But most importantly, there has to be an announced structure. Without it, you can’t operate,” the scorer of 42 international goals says emphatically.

There is one thing Bhaichung has no doubt about. The country’s top league, be it ISL or I-League, can’t flourish without the two Kolkata clubs.

“Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have to be there. The popularity, the support base, the emotion involved with these two clubs can’t be ignored. It has to be encashed. No league in India can reach dizzy heights without them.”

Bhaichung has a note of warning for the two clubs too. “If they have to play a truly professional league, then they also must change the style of functioning. The days are over when a football club can be run like a grocery shop.

“In I-League, year after year, the small-budgeted teams like Aizawl, Minerva, Chennai are winning the title. And these two clubs, despite spending money and having the support base and so-called tradition, are lagging behind. It clearly proves there is something seriously wrong in running those clubs.

Bhaichung Bhutia

Bhaichung Bhutia (from left) forged successful goal-scoring partnerships with Sunil Chhetri (centre) and IM Vijayan.

“It doesn’t happen anywhere. The Leicester City may have won the league once but it is not going to be repeated again and again. The EPL will continue to be dominated by Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea etc.

“It doesn’t mean the smaller clubs have no role to play in football. They will continue to work honestly and the supply line of footballers will remain intact,” said the striker, who spent three seasons in England for the now-expelled Bury FC.

Surprisingly, Bhaichung is not in favour of reducing the five-foreigner rule in Indian football. At least not for the moment. “There has to be something on the plate for the spectators. At the same time, let the local players face the competition,” he said.

Bhaichung has the moral right to say so. In the inaugural NFL in 1996-97, the clubs were allowed to field five foreigners. Yet Bhaichung emerged the top scorer with champions JCT.

There is one thing that bothers him. Who will take the responsibility of scoring for India once Sunil Chhetri calls it a day? “Once we hunted in pairs. First, it was me and IM (Vijayan). Then me and Sunil. Who is the next one?

“Well I am happy the way Ashique Kuruniyan and Abdul Sahal are shaping up. They are hugely talented.” Bhaichung feels assured the Indian football is in safe hands.

Find more football stories at Jaydeep Basu.

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Inexperienced South Africa has potential to improve: Amol Muzumdar

Ashish Mani Tiwari

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South Africa

New Delhi: South Africa’s new interim batting coach Amol Muzumdar believes the team lacks maturity but can improve with proper guidance.

The former Mumbai batsman was appointed Proteas’ interim batting coach for the three-match Test series against India.current sports news

South African batsmen have struggled to score in their recent outings with the team failing to qualify for the ODI World Cup semifinals.

Asked about his observations regarding the deficiencies of the team, Muzumdar told Sports Lounge, “Yes inexperience is evident in South Africa team, but there is a scope for improvement.”current sports news

“Once, I will join the team, I will be able to analyse what exactly is the problem. Also, I am very excited about this new chapter of my coaching career”, he added.

Muzumdar will join the South African team on September 18 at Mohali. The three match-Test series will be beginning at Visakhapatnam (October 2-6) followed by matches in Pune (October 10-14) and Ranchi (October 19-23). South Africa was defeated in a four Test match series 0-3 by India in 2015.

Before the Test series, India and South Africa will engage in a three- match T20 series.

Muzumdar made his first class debut for Mumbai (Bombay) in 1994 against Haryana and made total 11,167 runs in first class cricket. He is the second-highest run-getter in the history of the Ranji Trophy.

Muzumdar holds wide coaching experience, including batting coach of Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL), India’s Under 19 and Under 23 sides at the National Cricket Academy. He has been the batting coach of the Netherlands In December 2013.

Commenting on the Muzumdar’s appointment, Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) acting director Corrie Van Zyl said, “He brings an intimate knowledge of Indian playing conditions and the challenges our batsmen are likely to face.

“He also assisted us at the spin bowling camp we held recently in India and thus has already built up a good working relationship with Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma and Zubayr Hamza.”

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My perseverance has paid off: Para-Badminton world champion Manasi Joshi

Sayan Mukherjee

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Manasi Joshi
Para-badminton world champion Manasi Joshi's journey is a story of grit, determination and perseverance. Pics: Google and Twitter

New Delhi: Did PV Sindhu unknowingly steal your thunder?sports news headlines

“No, I don’t think so,” Para-Badminton World Championships winner Manasi Joshi’s reaction was prompt, sharp and insistent on not being at the receiving end of an apparent oversight despite the prevailing sentiment, which was highlighted by Kiran Bedi’s tweet.sports news headlines

“In the high of PV Sindhu getting Gold in World Championship, we forgot to wish Manasi Joshi, who won gold in World Para Badminton Championship. Here is it wishing her,” the Puducherry governor wrote on social media.

But Manasi persisted at not feeling a tad remorseful at being apparently overshadowed after her triumph collided with Sindhu’s World Championships victory. Neither does she believe that she would have received more applause for her achievement had not her win coincided with Sindhu’s on August 25, a red-letter day for Indian badminton.

“It’s all about how media portrays it. I hope our achievements will be given equal share of importance. If it’s overshadowed it’s only for the media, because we put in equal amount of effort and even train at the same academy,” the 30-year-old told Sports Lounge in an exclusive chat.

Considering what she has went through in her life these are indeed the least of her worries. She was only six and able-bodied when she got hooked to the racquet and shuttlecock. Full of ambition and promise, her dreams of “doing a Sindhu” were shattered in December, 2011, when she lost her left leg in a road accident.

Fate might have made her physically impaired but could hardly dent her resolve, her focus shifting towards para-badminton in 2014, collecting a mixed doubles silver medal at the 2015 Para-Badminton World Championship, followed by a bronze at the 2018 Asian Para Games.

After the World Championships gold, her journey might seem akin to a fairytale but not many can comprehend how difficult it is for an athlete to get accustomed to the use of prosthetics after beginning career as an able-bodied sportsperson.

Walking with prosthetics is in itself quite a task, Manasi was not only bold enough to adjust to the psychological demands of her forced shift but also mastered the physical alterations that came with her misfortune.

“As a para-athlete we have to do things differently. Preparation is quite different. We have to look after many things on our own. Right from prosthetics – like I have to make sure that after waking up I fix my prosthetics properly,” she explained.

“Able-bodied athletes don’t have to think about all those things. I have to make sure how much time I have to fit my prosthetics before training. We have to think about so many things just to come out of home and play.

“I am sure an able bodied player or person don’t have to think so much. But everybody has their own method of advantages and disadvantages, I have my own. It’s about facing them and moving on.”

Migrating from Ahmedabad to Hyderabad to enroll at Pullela Gopichand’s academy in 2018 was immensely beneficial. Her family, including her parents and two siblings, were beside her all through, as was “Gopi sir”, coaches Rajendra Kumar, Hary Muliono and fitness trainer Raju.

“My trainers and coaches had to adapt to my current situation and ensured that I underwent whatever was needed for me. It couldn’t have been possible without the support of the people who has worked hard. So I would like to thank all of them.”

One gold, however, doesn’t mask the various problems she has faced throughout her journey, primary among them being funding for para-sports and the high cost of prosthetics.

“The prosthetics for walking, which lasts around 5-6 years, has a market price of around Rs 22 lakh. The playing prosthetics cost about 5-6 lakh. As para athlete I have to spend a lot of amount just to start walking,” Manasi pointed out.

“My sponsors, Mallcom and Welspun, have been very helpful, so have my employers Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL).”

While a lot could obviously be done for para-sports’ upliftment, including support from national sports federations (NSF), India’s para-shuttlers didn’t need much to bag 12 medals at the Worlds in Basel. As reward they were handed a sum of Rs 1.82 lakh once they landed in the country.

Manasi acknowledged the sports ministry’s prompt response and amendment of rules to ensure that medal winners get their cash awards on the day of their return to the country after an international event and not at an annual ceremony.

“We got the reward as soon as we landed in India. We didn’t have to chase for the money. This change in attitude is refreshing. I congratulate the government and SAI for their dynamism.”

Not getting a shot at an Olympics gold in women’s singles at Tokyo 2020 (the SL3 singles category isn’t included in Para-badminton at the Games) doesn’t deflate her spirits, rather she has her eyes on qualifying and winning a medal in the mixed doubles section.

She hopes the SL3 category is included in the Olympics “sooner rather than later” but for now she wishes her World Championships gold would bring attention and attitudinal shift for investment in para-sports.

“I am very satisfied with my win. I worked hard for it. I made sure I kept at it,” she said, determined to stretch the limits of her achievement even further.

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My Khel Ratna award is a beacon of hope for Indian para-athletes, says Deepa Malik

FIFA backs AIFF to end domestic dispute, I-League clubs may move court

“Flying Fish” Phelps and life beyond the swimming pool

Consistency key to betterment of women’s tennis, says Henin

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