Indian superstar Virender Sehwag is among those to have agreed deals to participate in forthcoming television show Titans of Cricket. Sehwag is joined by a Pakistan team led by non-playing captain Wasim Akram and also comprising Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, Azhar Mahmood and Shoaib Akhtar.
The presence of A-list cricketers from the subcontinent is essential to investors Ingenious Media’s long-term strategy. After the initial series on British TV, the plan is to expand into the Asian market, where the serious money is, and Sehwag and Co provide the necessary credibility at the start of the proposed five-year venture.
The action will be filmed in three city arenas, with England, India, Pakistan and the Rest of the World pitting their individual skills against each other in cricket-specific challenges. The preferred dates for shooting are in early October, with late March 2012 pencilled in as a reserve option.
Both those slots are outside international fixture schedules and organisers are hoping to persuade the England and Wales Cricket Board to release at least one centrally-contracted player for the three episodes. It is anticipated that the England team will be made up of five Ashes winners.
Surrey are expected to sign Dirk Nannes as a Twenty20 Cup replacement for his injured fellow Australian Shaun Tait. As reported in this column last week, the 35-year-old former Netherlands and Australia 20-over international has settled in the Cotswolds and is available for the full Friends Life t20 campaign. He has been proving his fitness at the Kia Oval over the past few days.
Tait, undisputedly the fastest bowler in world cricket, pulled out of his contract after being given an ultimatum by medics to rest his sore elbow following his stint in the Indian Premier League with Rajasthan Royals, or face surgery.
So the Twenty20 specialist – he has not been involved in a first-class match since December 1, 2008, and quit one-day internationals earlier this year – will spend June with his feet up before heading to Sri Lanka for their inaugural seven-team tournament, to be held between July 20 and August 8.
England captain Andrew Strauss, when quizzed by BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew in a Q&A at the Broad Appeal charity dinner at Lord’s last week, confessed to warming to the Decision Review System.
His feelings coincide with Paul Collingwood’s retirement from Test cricket. Word from inside the England camp is that Collingwood’s abundance of enthusiasm, one of his finest qualities, was also his major weakness when it came to judging the merits of challenging on-field decisions. And Strauss lost more than one referral after ‘outer’ Collingwood’s advice.
Much was made of the battle between Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara to take Collingwood’s place in the Test team. But England will find covering his loss in the field more challenging than his departure from the middle-order.
While they will need to employ a new third slip to the pace bowlers, the harder task will be to find a suitable replacement to field at slip when off-spinner Graeme Swann is bowling. The prime candidate is James Anderson, who has been slipping to Lancashire left-arm spinner Gary Keedy with success in County Championship matches this past month.
Steven Croft admitted it was “gutting” to learn of his beloved Blackpool’s relegation from the Premier League this past weekend. The manner in which he found out made it doubly painful.
Croft was on the field, captaining Lancashire to victory for the first time in the last-over Clydesdale Bank 40 win over Nottinghamshire, during the second-half drama at the other Old Trafford, half a mile down the road. The multiple roars from 70,000 Manchester United supporters within a 20-minute period gave him an indication of his team’s fate before post-match confirmation of the 4-2 defeat.
Blackpool were winning 2-1 when the players had their mid-match interval in between innings, and were therefore safe when Croft led Lancashire out on to the field. But Ian Hollway’s team’s second-half capitulation sent them down.
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