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Don’t believe in comparisons: Azharuddin on Kohli-Azam debate




Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin heaped praise on Pakistan white-ball captain Babar Azam but didn’t weigh into the debate when asked to compare him with India’s talismanic skipper Virat Kohli.

The two modern-day greats are time and again pitted against each other, by fans and critics alike, for their impeccable playing styles and incredible consistency.

Azharuddin, however stated that Azam has the necessary skills and qualities to etch his name alongside some of the top-class batsmen that Pakistan have produced in the past.

“Babar is still young and has a lot of cricket ahead of him. He has the ability to become a top batsman and register his name among the great Pakistani batsmen of the past,” Azharuddin was quoted as saying by Cricket Pakistan.

“I don’t believe in comparisons. If a batsman is good, then his batting should be enjoyed and he should be praised rather than comparing him with someone else,” he added.

Azam, himself had earlier said that he would rather be compared with batting greats from this own country rather than Kohli.

“I don’t want to be compared with Virat Kohli. It would be better if people compare me with one of the Pakistani legends like Javed Miandad, Mohammad Yousuf or Younis Khan,” Azam had told reporters earlier this month during a videoconference.

Azam is part of the Pakistan team that will take on England in a series involving three Tests and as many T20Is starting August 5. Batting coach Younis Khan had earlier urged Azam to convert his starts into big hundreds in the upcoming series.

“I have tried to work with everyone in the side including Babar Azam. These players are our future. I have no doubts about the skills of Babar,” Younis told reporters via videoconference.

“I want him to keep performing better and better. He should strive for a 150 when he makes a 100 and then go on to even 200,” he added.


Indian players were racially abused at SCG, confirms Cricket Australia




Cricket Australia on Wednesday confirmed that Indian players were subjected to racial abuse by a section of the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) crowd during the third drawn Test of the recently-concluded Border Gavaskar series.

The Indian team had apprised match referee David Boon of racial abuse of players — Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj — by a section of the SCG crowd at the end of the third day’s play during the Sydney Test. The incident again took place on the next day following which six people were evicted from the stand just before Tea during Australia’s second innings on Day Four of the Test match.

Following that incident, Cricket Australia had launched an investigation and the International Cricket Council (ICC) had also asked the Australian cricket board to submit its report.

“Cricket Australia has submitted its report into crowd behaviour at the SCG during the third Test against India to the International Cricket Council,” Sean Carroll, CA’s Head of Integrity & Security, said in a statement.

“CA confirms that members of the Indian cricket team were subjected to racial abuse. CA’s own investigation into the matter remains open, with CCTV footage, ticketing data and interviews with spectators still being analysed in an attempt to locate those responsible. Spectators who are found to have breached CA’s Anti-Harassment Code face lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police.

“CA’s investigation concluded that the spectators filmed and/or photographed by media in the Brewongle Stand concourse at the conclusion of the 86th over on Day Three of the Test did not engage in racist behaviour,” he added.

Cricket Australia further said that it is now awaiting confirmation from New South Wales Police that it has completed its investigation into the matter and “will not offer further comment until it is received”.

Siraj, who played a crucial role in helping India retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, had revealed that the umpires in Sydney had told India skipper Ajinkya Rahane that the team can walk off the park.

“The case (on racial abuse) is going on. Let us see if we get justice or not. I told my captain that some audience are abusing me. The umpire said you can leave the ground but the captain said we will not go as we respect the game of cricket and you may send them out,” Siraj had said upon his arrival in Hyderabad.

Cricket Australia, on its part as well as Australian players including David Warner and head coach Justin Langer, had condemned the incident.

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Jack Leach extends stay with Somerset until 2024




England spinner Jack Leach has extended his contract with Somerset County Cricket Club by two years.

The 29-year-old’s current contract was due to expire at the end of 2022 but he has signed a two-year extension which will see him play for the club until at least the end of the 2024 season.

“I am very excited to have signed an extension with Somerset. It is a proud day for me and my family,” said Leach in a statement.

“I would like to thank Andy Hurry, Jason Kerr, all the coaches, the staff and my teammates for their support. I would also like to thank the Members and fans. I would like to send my best to them at this difficult time and say how much we miss you. We can’t wait to have you back. I am very excited about what we can achieve as a group. There is a good feeling around the boys, and I can’t wait for the season to start,” he added.

Leach, who recently excelled in England’s Test series win over Sri Lanka, had successfully progressed through the Somerset Age Group Pathway before making his debut for the County against South Africa in 2012.

Since that day, the left armer has gone on to take over 240 wickets for the club, and his consistently outstanding performances for Somerset have seen him receive recognition at international level.

Leach now has 44 Test wickets from 12 matches at an average of 30.50.

“To put it in simple terms, Jack Leach is an outstanding cricketer. Not only is he a bowler of the very highest calibre, he is also exactly the kind of character you want in your team environment,” Somerset Director of Cricket Andy Hurry said.

“Jack has had to overcome a number of hurdles during the last few years and on every occasion he has come back stronger and better. He sets a great example, and I am delighted that we will continue to see him representing the club that means so much to him,” he added.

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ICC introduces ‘ICC Player of the Month’ awards




The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday announced the introduction of the ‘ICC Player of the Month’ awards to recognise and celebrate the best performances of both male and female cricketers across all forms of international cricket throughout the year.

In a media release, ICC stated that an independent ICC voting academy comprising former players, broadcasters, and journalists from around the world, will team up with fans to vote for the ICC men’s and women’s player of the month respectively.

Youngsters such as Mohammed Siraj (India), Washington Sundar (India), T. Natarajan (India), Rishabh Pant (India), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (Afghanistan) to established players such as Ravichandran Ashwin (India), Joe Root (England), Steve Smith (Australia), Marizanne Kapp (South Africa), Nadine de Klerk (South Africa), Nida Dar (Pakistan) will be among the candidates for the month of January.

“The ICC Player of the Month is a great way to connect with fans of the sport and celebrate performances of their favourite players through the year. It gives us all an opportunity to acknowledge world class performances on the field by male and female cricketers and they have been in abundance throughout January,” Geoff Allardice, ICC General Manager – Cricket, said.

The nomination and voting process:

The three nominees for each of the categories will be determined by the ICC Awards nominations committee based on on-field performances and overall achievements during the period of that month (the first to the last day of each calendar month.)

This shortlist is then voted for by the independent ICC voting academy and fans around the world.

The voting academy will submit their votes by email and will retain a 90 per cent share of the vote. Subsequently, on the 1st day of each month, fans registered with the ICC will be able to submit votes via the ICC website and will have a 10 per cent share of the vote. Winners will be announced every second Monday of the month on the ICC’s digital channels.

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