Pakistan players return to hostile reception

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Pakistani cricketers returned home to a heated reception on Wednesday, angry fans telling them to "go to hell". The team's outing in the West Indies had ended in tragedy, their first-round exit from the World Cup being followed by the murder of their coach Bob Woolmer.
Shahid Afridi, Danish Kaneria, Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Sami were heckled by a crowd of around 100 people after arriving at the Karachi international airport. The players were protected by dozens of policemen.

"Why have you come back?" one fan shouted while another supporter bellowed "Go to hell" at Afridi, according to a reporter. When Kaneria tried to leave the arrivals lounge the crowd shouted "Shame on you" and he went back inside, before asking for police protection to help him leave.

Afridi said that all the Pakistani players were feeling "disturbed" after the events of the past two weeks. "The police did ask us a few questions but these were normal inquiries," said Afridi. "We have been asked by the PCB [Pakistan Cricket Board] not to speak much on the issue. Just pray for us."

Inzamam-ul-Haq and several other squad members arrived in Lahore but were driven out of the airport's cargo section to avoid waiting reporters and fans. "We didn't want to hurt them, we just wanted to vent our frustration," said one fan after finding out that the players had eluded them.

Pakistani police had pledged to protect the players if necessary. "We are deploying police at the airport. We will not allow people to go near the players," Malik Iqbal, the Lahore police chief, told reporter. "The players will be provided with mobile police escorts as well."


Mohammad Yousuf named in Wisden elite

Few sights in England in 2006 were as striking as Mohammad Yousuf. Eyes fell naturally to the beard first, so W.G.-like and dense you wondered how the helmet's chinstrap managed. And once past the beard, another visual feast awaited.

With anything other than a bat in his hand, Yousuf cuts an unremarkable presence; as a fielder he is plain clumsy. With a bat, he comes alive. Bob Woolmer, his coach, likens him to a Ferrari when he is batting and a truck when he isn't. Throughout the English tour, he provided the surreal spectacle of a Ferrari doing the heavy pulling.

At Lord's, he arrived as Pakistan skidded to 28 for two, then 68 for four; at Headingley the wreckage read 36 for two. Each time, England had already scored 500-plus. Both messes demanded the sleeves-rolled-up, gritty salvation ethic of Steve Waugh and, in soul, they got it. But in body and mind, it was done with an élan more reminiscent of Mark Waugh. That 631 runs at an average of 90 eventually counted for so little was not his doing. The manner of each of his three hundreds did not change. An endearing, useful quirk was the early boundary to settle. The backlift was always high and only at the very last moment was the ball played. The feet didn't much help, but hand and eye were steadfast friends. Little of his strokeplay was anything other than soothingly hypnotic, though his punches, drives and dabs through cover were particularly entrancing.

Ultimately, his performance drew from the richest traditions of Pakistani batting in England. It combined Zaheer Abbas's lust for monumental scores, Mohsin Khan's sense of occasion (Yousuf was only the second Pakistani, after Mohsin, to score a Test double-hundred at Lord's) and Salim Malik's wristy defiance. The beard flavoured it uniquely.

I never thought of playing for Pakistan. I just wanted a job in an organisation with a first-class cricket team, and to make a living Mohammad Yousuf was born Yousuf Youhana on August 27, 1974, in Lahore, and his story is as striking as his current presence. A Christian, he was born, like much of his community (most Pakistani Christians converted from Hindu untouchables in the 19th century), into poverty. Circumstances scripted his early years.

His father worked at the railway station, the family lived in the nearby Railway Colony. As a boy, he couldn't afford a bat and so swatted his brother's taped tennis ball offerings with wooden planks of various dimensions on surfaces masquerading as roads. As a 12-year-old, he was spotted by the Golden Gymkhana, though even then only circumstances dictated his ambitions. "I never thought of playing for Pakistan. I just wanted a job in an organisation with a first-class cricket team, and to make a living." He joined Lahore's Forman Christian College and continued playing until suddenly giving up in early 1994, for nearly a year. A steady income was the need of the hour. He was set to work at a tailor's when he was pulled back: "A local club was short of players. They called me to make up numbers. I made a hundred." It led to a season in the Bradford League, with Bowling Old Lane, and a path back into the game.

A year later, he was pushing for first-class cricket. Lahore ignored him at first: his faith and background were not helpful. Undaunted, he went to nearby Bahawalpur and, in October 1996, made his debut. A heavy-scoring second season (back with Lahore) aroused interest and in February 1998, in South Africa, he became the fourth Christian to represent Pakistan. Gradually, he established himself. His numbers were very decent: an average of nearly 48 from 59 Tests, with 13 hundreds. But there was still an impression that his career was a flimsy tribute to his talent. Yousuf could make dreams come true - he scored a century at Melbourne on Boxing Day when standing in as captain - yet he could be wasteful.

In 2005, he changed, first his faith, then his batsmanship. His family expressed anger at his conversion to Islam, though they later reconciled themselves; liberals scoffed, and Christians moaned. The rumours swirled that he had been pressurised into the change by a team with increasingly devout Islamic beliefs.

The turbulence passed. And now, as well as Grace's beard, he has developed Bradman's appetite for runs: from November 2005 to November 2006, he averaged 92 in 14 Tests. At no cost to his stylishness, he has developed a pragmatic understanding of run-gathering. His centuries tend to be bigger (two doubles and a record three 190s), and he has shown an ability to convert on the field as well as off it: only four times has he been out between 50 and 99, and he has made ten centuries.

The discipline and focus Islam has instilled have filtered into my batting Yousuf is clear about the connection. "The discipline and focus Islam has instilled have filtered into my batting." Many would argue that it is precisely what was needed, though he does admit to a slight technical tinkering concerning his balance.

Whichever, he scored 1,788 Test runs in 2006, breaking Sir Viv Richards's record, with nine hundreds, also a record. But numbers cannot reveal what is most significant. As Pakistan's batting faltered repeatedly last year, it was to Inzamam-ul-Haq that they turned, as they have done since the dawn of the century. But it was Yousuf who kept responding. The passing of torches is something to be felt, not measured. As Inzamam approaches his dusk and Yousuf his high noon, never has that sense been so vivid.


Musharraf asks Ashraf to continue as PCB chairman

ISLAMABAD: President Prevez Musharraf has rejected the resignation of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Dr. Nasim Ashraf on Friday.PCB chairman had tendered his resignation after poor performance of the cricket team against Ireland and early exit of the team from World Cup, however, Dr. Nasim made it clear that he would continue his job if President Musharraf will ask him to do so.


Tendulkar should quit, says Ian Chappell

NEW DELHI: Former Australian captain Ian Chappell on Friday suggested what millions of Indians had been dreading to hear the great Sachin Tendulkar should hang up his boots.Chappell, whose younger brother Greg could be sacked as India's coach next week following the team's first round exit from the World Cup, said Tendulkar was past his prime and must retire."At the moment he looks like a player trying to eke out a career; build on a glittering array of statistics," the senior Chappell wrote in the Mumbai-based daily."If he really is playing for that reason and not to help win as many matches as he can for India then he is wasting his time and should retire immediately."


England and Pakistan boards settle Oval claims

The England and Pakistan cricket boards have finally settled the ECB's compensation claims relating to the forfeited Oval Test in August 2006. The agreement means that Pakistan will play a Twenty20 match in England in 2012 and waive the fee.
Both boards also agreed that the proposed tour of Pakistan by England in 2010 would be postponed until January 2012 and would contain three Tests and five one-day matches. Pakistan will then stage a return tour in July-August of the same year. The forfeiture occurred when the Pakistan team, penalised for ball-tampering by umpire Darrell Hair, refused to take the field for the post-tea session on the fourth day. England were awarded the match with a day to spare. The ECB had asked the PCB to pay damages worth $1.3 million for the lost fifth day, a request the Pakistan Board Rejected.
David Collier, the ECB chief executive, said that the decision to push back the dates had been taken since otherwise England's overloaded schedule that season would not allow for three Tests and five ODIs against Pakistan. "The meetings with PCB demonstrated the goodwill and desire of both boards to find a cricketing solution to the issues arising from the Oval Test match," Collier said. "Rescheduling the tour results in a significantly lighter schedule for our players in 2010." He added that the Twenty20 match would greatly benefit the ECB which will withdraw its compensation claims once the PCB confirmed the arrangements.


South Africa and West Indies play tournament opener

South Africa and West Indies will contest the opening game of the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship which will be held in South Africa between September 10 and 24.

A day after the opening match is played at the Wanderers, Durban's Kingsmead Stadium will host the first double-header when New Zealand and Kenya square off in the morning followed by Pakistan and Scotland in the afternoon. On the same day, Newlands in Cape Town will host its first match when Australia take on Zimbabwe in a night fixture. India face Pakistan, which could be a marquee match, in the third slot on September 14.

Each venue will host nine games and the ten Full Member countries and two Associate nations have been split into four groups of three teams and will play a round-robin format. Once that is completed, the top two teams from each group will qualify for the Super Eights in a bid to make the semi-finals. The final will be played in Johannesburg on Heritage Day on September 24.


Pakistan team allowed to leave for London

Sunday, March 25, 2007

KINGSTON, JAMAICA, (Report:Abdul Majid Bhatti): Pakistan cricket captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and caretaker coach Mushtaq Ahmed were requestioned on Saturday as part of the investigation into the death of coach Bob Woolmer. But Inzamam insisted that the questioning was routine and that he and Mushtaq had been told by police that they were free to leave for home as planned later Saturday. "It was nothing, just routine investigation, nothing special," Pakistan team media manager PJ Mir told this Geo News correspondent, while team manager Talat Ali said Inzamam and Mushtaq will go home along with other team members. "There have been so many rumours but we are going home tonight and everything is clear. The police said we are free to go home."Team spokesman PJ Mir denied that either Inzamam or Mushtaq were involved, as Inzamam confirmed the team packed their bags for their Saturday evening flight home via London.Jamaican police asked Mushtaq about his injured nose, of which he replied he got injured during a practice session and went to hospital as well.


Aussies snatch win from Protease

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS: In a hard-fought battle between two giants, Australia emerged victorious by 83 runs against south Africa here on Saturday.Chasing a difficult target of 378 in 50 overs, South Africa accepted challenge bravely as their openers Andrew de Villiers and captain Graeme Smith were scoring runs at a faster rate and made 160 runs in only 21 overs. However, as soon as de Villiers was run out and his partner retired hurt the Aussies changed the entire scene and made South Africa collapsed at 194 in 48 overs.Andrew de Villiers scored 92 off 70 balls with 15 fours and two sixes while Graeme Smith made 74 in 69 balls with eight fours and two sixes. Jaques Kallis contributed 48 from 59 deliveries.Nathan Bracken and Shaun Tait claimed two wickets each for 40 and 61, respectively.Earlier put in by the Protease, Australia compiled 377 runs for six wickets in 50 overs. This is their highest score in the World Cup. Australia's previous World Cup highest total of 359-2 was made against India at Johannesburg in the 2003 final. Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist laid the foundation, scoring 106 runs in the opening stand. Gilchrist’s contribution was 42 while Hayden went on to get 101, his eighth ODI hundred, smashing 14 fours and four sixes.This was the fastest hundred in the World Cup history as he completed it in only 66 balls, eclipsing the previous record held by John Davison of Canada, who reached the three figures off 67 deliveries against the West Indies in 2003. Then, captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke continued the attack and took score from 167-2 to 328 – a 161-run third wicket stand - when both in succession fell into the nineties. Ponting hit 91 from the same number of balls with nine fours and two sixes and Clarke blasted 92 off 75 balls with seven fours and four sixes. Ponting during his 91, completed 10,000 ODI runs when he hit a six off Hall over long on, becoming the seventh batsmen to reach the milestone. Andrew Hall claimed two wickets for 60 runs while Makhaya Ntini and Charl Langeveldt took one wicket each.


Sri Lanka demolish India by 69 runs

Saturday, March 24, 2007

PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD: India have remote chances of entering the super eight stage as Sri Lanka defeated them by 69 runs in the World Cup 2007 group ‘B’ match (tomorrow). Now, India will be eliminated from the World Cup if Bangladesh win their last match against Bermuda on March 25.Chasing a target of 255, India could not cope with the accurate bowling from Sri Lankans and were all out for 180. Star off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan captured three wickets for 41 and pace-bowler Chamanda Vaas claimed two for 39.From India, except captain Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag nobody could play Sri Lankan bowlers comfortably. Sehwag scored a quick-fire 48 from 46 deliveries with five fours and a six. Dravid made 60 off 82 balls with six fours. He also became the eighth batsman to complete 1000 World Cup runs. Earlier, Sri Lanka put in by India, scored 254 runs for six wickets in the allotted 50 overs. Upul Tharanga with 64 and Chamara Silva with 59 were the top-scorers for Sri Lanka. From India, Zaheer Khan claimed two wickets while Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, Sarouv Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar all got one wicket each.


‘Woolmer’s death due to manual strangulation’: Jamaican police

Friday, March 23, 2007

KINGSTON, JAMAICA: In a press conference addressed jointly by Jamaican police and the ICC, it is confirmed that Bob Woolmer’s death was due to asphyxia by manual strangulation. Jamaica’s deputy police commissioner Mark Shield, who is now heading the police investigation addressed the press conference along with ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed and Chris Dehring, managing director and chief executive officer of Windies World Cup 2007. Mark Shield told that the post mortem results show that Woolmer was strangled.According to the police, the post mortem report reveals that marks of strangulation were found on the deceased’s throat.Mark Shield said that there were no evidences of any resistance from Woolmer during the strangulation.He said that the police is investigating the case from each and every angle and the hotel’s security and management is being questioned in this regard.He further said that all people close to Woolmer have been questioned.According to Mark Shield, coach Bob Woolmer died at about quarter to eleven on Sunday morning and one or more than one person were involved in the murder.The Jamaican deputy police commissioner thanked Pakistan cricket team, team management and the ICC for their fullest cooperation. He hoped that the ICC’s anti-corruption unit would continue its cooperation during the police investigation.The ICC chief executive, Malcolm Speed on the occasion condoled the death of Bob Woolmer with the family members of the deceased. He said that his death was a great shock.Malcolm Speed said that the World Cup tournament would continue and all the matches would be held as per schedule.


Players pay tribute to Bob

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Pakistani players on Wednesday paid glowing tributes to their coach Bob Woolmer saying they have all lost a father figure.“He was a good coach and great human being and I am going to miss him for the rest of my life,” said Pakistan vice-captain Younis Khan at the remembrance meeting that was attended by his teammates, officials, journalists and some members of the Irish team.Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious in his hotel room here on Sunday and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. His untimely death was a huge shock for the cricket world and left the national cricket team in mourning.Skipper Inzamam said that he is sorely missing Woolmer who he described as a great coach and a friend. “Bob was close to all of us and his death is a great loss,” said Inzamam. Fast bowler Mohammad Sami was almost in tears when he described how Woolmer help resurrect his international career.“I’ve seen many ups and downs in the last few years but Bob was always there for me. He always supported me. It was a father figure to me,” he said.


So long, dear Inzamam-ul-Haq!

KARACHI: There has already been one goodbye this week. Another today (Wednesday) makes it two too many, but life moves on. Like Bob Woolmer, this is not the way Inzamam-ul-Haq should have bid adieu to cricket, or at least ODI cricket, stumbling out of the World Cup disastrously. In recent months, an essentially amiable, lumbering giant has become a figure not so pleasant. He has been accused of becoming too authoritarian, picking his own teams, stubbornly demanding certain players, not listening to anyone and generally proving how power can change men. Age and his back have feasted hungrily on his batting and the last calendar year was an indifferent one. Last August, he was the country’s poster-boy, defending a nation’s pride at the Oval, and yet last weekend his posters were being stomped on and burned, so quickly feelings have changed. But in one instant, as he skied Tawanda Mupariwa to Sean Williams and began the last ride to the pavilion one last time, emotions switched again. Brisker than usual on departure, the walk stalled as every Zimbabwe player rushed to shake his hand. And briefly, as life is supposed to flash before your eyes in the instant before you die, as he hurried, teary-eyed, into an emotional guard of honour from his team, all that was good and great about Inzi flashed before us; the yo-yoing weight, the clean-shaven cherubic chubby giving way to the patriarchal beard, the brain ticking over impassively calculating run chases, the bendy flick off his hips over square leg, the hunched, shuffling drives, those violent cuts. If you squinted hard enough through coloured eyes, you glimpsed the impudence of the 1992 semifinal 60, the grace of the Karachi hundred against India and the scheming behind the Ahmedabad 60. In a week of tears, here came another sly one: once he was up those dressing room stairs, who would bring that calm, that solidity that you sensed in the middle order, even when he was out of form, every time he walked out? His last knock ended exactly 2.52 runs short of his career average. It also came exactly 15 years to the day since his 37-ball 60 gazumped the Kiwis on the way to Pakistan’s 1992 triumph. It appeared mostly to be an innings of release: from the immense pressure he has been so good at handling and from the traumas of the last few days and months. He swung his bat greedily and merrily, as he had all those years ago as an ODI whipper-snapper. It didn’t last though that wasn’t really the point. Who can gauge what sort of pressures he has been under just in these last few days? Maybe the announcement of his resignation was mistimed but there are no certainties to how a mind reacts to the worst defeat of an international career followed swiftly by a tragic death. As Kamran Abbasi noted, the decision to resign and retire itself was the right one. It was also a rare one in Pakistan cricket.So then, so long Inzi. We may see you again in whites come September but the way Pakistan cricket works there is an equal chance we might not. If we don’t, thanks for the dry humour at the pressers; the calm; the slip catches; the running and, of course, the batting. Thanks also for the captaincy reign, which at over three years was one of the longest uninterrupted reigns in this country (which amounts to something) and contained enough memorable moments in it. Thanks even for opening all your post-match presentations, shambolic loss or euphoric win aside, with the same, “First of all, thanks to...” They say change is inevitable but in turbulent environments, sameness can be precious. Don’t mind the anger at the Irish loss. In time, I suspect we will come to look over the last eight months and remember instead all that went before for over 16 years.


‘Bob was more than a coach to me’

BASSETERRE, St Kitts: The South African camp has been in a sombre mood since the news broke of the death of their former coach, Bob Woolmer, on Sunday. But of all the players in the squad who knew and respected him, none can have had closer ties than Jonty Rhodes, the team’s fielding coach, whose career was hand-moulded by Woolmer.“The two most important people in my cricketing career were Hansie (Cronje) and Bob and they’re both gone,” said Rhodes. “I just hope they’re not in heaven picking a team because I don’t want to be next,” he added.Under Woolmer’s tutelage, Rhodes was transformed into the most electric fielder in the world, but he still had to hold down a place as a batsman alone. “My cover drive was beyond help,” he said, “but Bob adjusted it. Technically he was a good coach, but he had passion, and for me it was more the passion and his attitude towards coaching. He made it exciting, and he made it fun. It was not about ‘you have to do it this way’. He actually gave us options,” he explained.“Every week we had the ‘Abuse the Coach’ award,” added Rhodes, “but Bob used to give as good as he got. I had an amazing relationship with him. He was more than just a coach, and he had a way of giving off of himself and it was something I could relate to. That made him more than a coach to me,” he expressed.Woolmer was in charge of South Africa’s fortunes for five years from 1994, and Rhodes admitted that his departure - in the aftermath of the team’s traumatic exit from the 1999 World Cup - was a big loss that they are only now beginning to overcome. “Similar to Hansie’s leadership he wasn’t easy to replace,” said Rhodes. “In the same sort of way he too was an all-rounder. He could be a batting coach and a bowling coach,” he said.


Woolmer to be awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf sent his condolences to the wife of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer on Thursday, saying he and the country were immensely saddened and shocked by his death in Jamaica on Sunday.Former England batsman Woolmer was found unconscious in his Kingston hotel room less than 24 hours after Pakistan’s shock World Cup defeat by Ireland which knocked them out of the tournament. He was pronounced dead in hospital later that day.Jamaican police said the 58-year-old’s death was being treated as “suspicious” and a second pathologist’s opinion was being sought. Musharraf, according to a copy of his letter to Gill Woolmer released by his office, did not refer to the investigation.“I had the pleasure of knowing Bob personally, we found him to be a thorough professional and above all an excellent human being,” the Pakistani president said. “With him at the helm of coaching affairs, Pakistan cricket team enjoyed success with unprecedented consistency and the players gelled into a winning unit,” he addedMusharraf said Woolmer would be given the Sitara-e-Imtiaz civil award in recognition of his contribution to sports. “Pakistan cricket shall forever be indebted to his services and this nation will always remember him for the joys he brought into the lives of millions of Pakistanis,” he said. “We shall greatly miss him,” he expressed.


Woolmer to be awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf sent his condolences to the wife of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer on Thursday, saying he and the country were immensely saddened and shocked by his death in Jamaica on Sunday.Former England batsman Woolmer was found unconscious in his Kingston hotel room less than 24 hours after Pakistan’s shock World Cup defeat by Ireland which knocked them out of the tournament. He was pronounced dead in hospital later that day.Jamaican police said the 58-year-old’s death was being treated as “suspicious” and a second pathologist’s opinion was being sought. Musharraf, according to a copy of his letter to Gill Woolmer released by his office, did not refer to the investigation.“I had the pleasure of knowing Bob personally, we found him to be a thorough professional and above all an excellent human being,” the Pakistani president said. “With him at the helm of coaching affairs, Pakistan cricket team enjoyed success with unprecedented consistency and the players gelled into a winning unit,” he addedMusharraf said Woolmer would be given the Sitara-e-Imtiaz civil award in recognition of his contribution to sports. “Pakistan cricket shall forever be indebted to his services and this nation will always remember him for the joys he brought into the lives of millions of Pakistanis,” he said. “We shall greatly miss him,” he expressed.


Bashar fears for Cup survival after Sri Lanka rout

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad: Bangladesh skipper Habibul Bashar fears Wednesday’s 198-run defeat by Sri Lanka could scupper his unfancied team’s hopes of qualifying for the Super Eights at the World Cup.Bangladesh boosted their chances of advancing into the second round for the first time after shocking 1983 champions India by five wickets in their opening Group B match. However, all the hard work seemed to come undone on Wednesday when Sri Lanka overwhelmed them following a sloppy all-round display.“I’m very sorry, it was a bad match for us,” said Bashar, who dropped two catches and misfielded. “It was a bad day. I hope we will never have a day like this again,” he expressed.Sri Lanka are in pole position to qualify for the Super Eights, but India, the other fancied team, need to beat the 1996 winners in their final game today to be in contention for one of the two berths.A defeat would knock them out and Bangladesh could qualify with Sri Lanka if they beat debutants Bermuda on Sunday. “We’ve to look at the India-Sri Lanka game now,” Bashar said. Even if India win, Bangladesh can force a three-way tie in which case two teams with superior run rate would go through.“We have a little advantage, we would know what we need to do,” Bashar said referring to the fact that they will play their final group game two days after India. “Even if we had lost by a close margin, we could have improved our net run rate which would have helped us in the last match,” he added.


Bob Woolmer’s widow says murder a ‘possibility’

LONDON: The widow of the late Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer on Thursday said there was a “possibility” her husband was murdered.In an interview with Britain’s Sky News television from her home in South Africa, Gill Woolmer was asked about claims her husband was murdered. “I suppose there is always the possibility,” she said, apparently contradicting statements she made to Indian television late on Wednesday in which she dismissed the possibility of a conspiracy.“I mean some of the cricketing fraternity, fans are extremely volatile and passionate about the game and what happens in the game, and also a lot of it in Asia, so I suppose there is always the possibility that it could be that.”She added: “It fills me with horror, I just can’t believe that people could behave like that or that anyone would want to harm someone who has done such a great service to international cricket.”In the following days, there have been claims the former England international may have been killed by “match-fixing mafia”. Asked about the police terminology, Gill Woolmer said: “I don’t really know, it does suggest that there might be foul play, but they obviously don’t want to jump to conclusions and want to make sure that they’re able to make the right decision after they have completed the tests.”She added: “The latest that we heard last night (Wednesday), was that the police are obviously going on with their investigation and they had a second pathologist coming in to give their second opinion and they are hoping that the results will be available today.”


Imran Nazir steers Pakistan to post 349 runs

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

KINGSTON, JAMAICA: Pakistan for the first time in the 2007 World Cup looked in form after being ousted from the mega event when they set Zimbabwe an improbable target of 350 runs in their last group ‘D’ match here today.Put in by Zimbabwean captain Prosper Utseya, Pakistan piled up a huge score of 349 runs in 49.5 overs, thanks to opener Imran Nazir’s devastating career-best innings of 160 from 121 deliveries. This is the highest individual score by any batsman in this World Cup.Imran hammered 14 fours and eight record equaling sixes to share the World Cup record with Australia’s Ricky Ponting for hitting the most sixes in an innings. Ponting did it in 2002-03 when he hit eight sixes in his unbeaten innings of 140 against India at Johannesburg.Pakistan’s 349 is their highest World Cup innings and the eighth highest in the World Cup history. Pakistn’s previous best was 338 for five in 60 overs against Sri Lanka at Swansea in the 1983 World Cup.The main feature of the innings was captain Inzamam-ul-Haq’s emotional exit from the ODI field. He scored 37 off 35 balls with three fours and the same number of sixes. He was given a warm send-off by the Zimbabwean and Pakistani players when Inzamam returned to pavilion with tears in his eyes.Elton Chigumbura was the most successful Zimbabwean bowler who took three wickets for 50 runs.


Inzamam leaves field with tears in his eyes

KINGSTON, JAMAICA: Pakistan captain and one of the leading batsmen in the present cricket world, Inzamam-ul-Haq, has finally left the field after playing his last innings in One-day International cricket here at Sabina Park today.In his 378th ODI, the 37-year-old veteran cricketer scored 37 off 35 deliveries and hit three sixes and two fours. When he got out, caught Stuart Williams bowled Mupariwa, all Zimbabwean fielders gathered around him and shook hands to see off the great batsman who could not control his emotions at the moment. Pakistani players also came out of the dressing room to receive their tearful captain.Inzamam, who was shattered by the shock defeat to cricket minnows Ireland and dejected by the sudden death of coach Bob Woolmer in the wake of Pakistan’s loss, today played only to bid farewell to his ODI cricket career.Inzamam-ul-Haq has played 378 one-dayers over a 15-year career. He has scored 11,739 runs, which is the second highest aggregate in One-day International cricket. He hit 10 hundreds and a world record 83 fifties.He has appeared in five successive cricket world cups since1992 when he famously sparked his side into the final with a dashing 60 off 37 balls in the semi-final against New Zealand. He has scored 717 runs in 35 World Cup matches.However, Inzamam said he will be available in Test cricket, not as captain but as a player.


Pakistan selectors resign after World Cup exit

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

LAHORE: Pakistan's cricket selection committee has resigned in the wake of the team's disastrous World Cup campaign, chief selector Wasim Bari said on Tuesday. A series of resignations of top cricket officials continued in Pakistan after the national team’s ouster of the cricket World Cup at Caribbean.Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq had earlier announced his resignation from the team’s captaincy and retirement from one-day cricket. PCB Chairman Nasim Ashraf had also submitted his resignation yesterday.The cricket selection committee has resigned in the wake of the team's disastrous World Cup campaign, chief selector Wasim Bari said today. The three-member committee's tenure was to be reviewed after the World Cup, but Bari said they had decided to quit and shoulder some of the blame for the poor performances. Bari said he along with two members of the committee Iqbal Qasim and Ehtishamuddin have tendered their resignations.


West Indies beat Zimbabwe by 6 wkts

KINGSTON, JAMAICA: The West Indies have qualified for the super eiWith a winning six, the West Indies captain, Brian Lara made his team beat Zimbabwe by six wickets with 13 balls left here today.He remained not out at 46 and Dwayne Bravo unbeaten at 36, both added 75 runs for the unfinished fifth wicket stand. The victory’s foundation was laid by opener Chris Gayle who smashed 40 off 48 balls with three fours and the same number of sixes. Earlier, Zimbabwe scored 202 for five wickets in 50 overs, thanks to Sean Williams, who remained unbeaten on 74 off 88 balls with seven fours, to steer his side to some respectable total after a disastrous start. He was declared man-of-the-match when the play ended. Wicketkeeper-batsman Brendan Taylor was the second highest scorer with 50 runs.


India record biggest ODI victory

PORT –OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD: India after beaten by Bangladesh last week, came back with a record score and a victory by the largest margin in One-day International cricket when they defeated Bermuda by 257 runs in their group ‘B’ World Cup match here today at the Queen’s Park Oval.Put in by Bermuda, India piled up a mammoth 413 for five in 50 overs, the highest team eaggregate in an ODI. Virender Sehwag scored his eighth ODI hundred and the first in two years by making 114 off 87 deliveries with seventeen fours and three sixes. The man-of-the-match, Sehwag shared a 203-run second-wicket partnership with Sourav Ganguly, going to the crease in the second over after being shuffled down the batting order to No. 3. Ganguly made 89 off 114 balls with six fours and two sixes.Other significant contributions were 83 by Yuvraj Singh off just 46 balls and an unbeaten 57 off 29 balls by Sachin Tendulkar.In reply, Bermuda could score only 156 all out for 156 in 43.1 overs. Among their batsmen, only three could reach double figures, including David Hemp who top scored with 76 off 105 balls. He hit nine fours and one six.Spinner Anil Kumble and pacer Ajit Agarkar, each claimed three for 38 while Zaheer Khan got two wickets


India set two World Cup records

During their group ‘B’ match against Bermuda at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, on March 19,India set two World Cup records.Highest total in a matchIndia scoring 413 for five in the allotted 50 overs, set a new World Cup record of making the highest total in a match. The previous highest was Sri Lanka's 398 for 5 against Kenya at Kandy in 1996. India's previous best was 373 for 6 against Sri Lanka at Taunton the Largest margin of victoryBy achieving a 257-run victory, India set a new World Cup record for the largest margin of victory in ODIs. The previous record was Australia's 256-run win against Namibia in the 2003 World Cup. Sri Lanka also defeated Bermuda by 243 runs on March 15. India’s previous record in World Cup cricket was a victory by 183 runs against Sri Lanka at Johannesburg in 2003.Equal record of most sixes in a inningsIndia's tally of 18 sixes equaled the record set by South Africa for most sixes in an innings. South Africa set the record against Netherlands on March 16.


Dr. Nasim Ashraf resigns as chairman PCB

ISLAMABAD: Dr. Nasim Ashraf, chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), has resigned from his post after Pakistan cricket team’s pathetic performance and shock defeat to cricket minnows Ireland in the 2007 World Cup.According to Geo News report, he faxed his resignation to President’s HouseDr. Ashraf’s resignation came a day after the tragic death of Pakistan cricket team coach Bob Woolmer, and captain Inzamam-ul-Haq’s announcement of retirement from ODI cricket and resignation from captaincy..All these events mounted great pressure on Dr. Nasim Ashraf. Besides, various social and sports circles were demanding immediate resignation from him accepting the responsibility of Pakistan cricket team’s ouster from the World Cup.


Woolmer's career in photos

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bob Woolmer played in the England side that regained the Ashes from Australia in 1977 - winning the series 3-0

He played in 19 Test matches between 1975 and 1981 - scoring successive hundreds against Australia in 1977

Woolmer played county cricket exclusively for Kent from 1968 to 1984 and is pictured here with Alan Knott

In 1991 he became coach at Warwickshire - guiding them to success in three out of four trophies in 1994

At the end of the 1994 season he left the club to become coach of South Africa but returns to England in 2000

In June 2004 Woolmer accepted the offer to coach Pakistan - becoming only the second foreigner to hold the post

Woolmer enjoyed success with his new side as they defeated England 2-0 in the Test series in 2005

He was involved in controversy in August 2006 as Pakistan became the first side in Test history to forfeit a Test

The cricketing world was shocked to learn of the 58-year-old's death during the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies


Shaoib says 'learnt a lot from Woolmer'

LAHORE: Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar said coach Woolmer will always be remembered for his great services he rendered to Pakistani cricket.Expressing his sorrow over Woolmer's death, he said he was shocked and saddened after hearing his (Woolmer's) sudden passing, adding he learnt alot under Woolmer coaching, since the deceased used to buck-up and encourage his boys whenever they felt down.Shoaib said he had friendly relation with the deceased coach, for Woolmer was a fun loving man.


Inzamam announces retirement from one-day cricket, captaincy

JAMAICA: Pakistan cricket skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq has announced to retire from one-day international cricket and team captaincy.Addressing his last press conference as Pakistan skipper here, Inzamam apologised Pakistani nation and his fans all around the world for losing yesterday's crucial match against Ireland. The match was considered the greatest upset in the history of cricket.Inzamam said he was saddened by coach Bob Woolmer's sudden demise, saying on behalf of his team that 'it's a great loss'. He added: "I take complete responsibility of yesterday's defeat."The skipper, who also resigned from Pakistan squad captaincy, said he and his boys did everything as per their abilities to perform well but unfortunately failed.He said he was happy for representing 17 years as batsman and 4 years as captain of Pakistan. He thanked PCB, former Pakistani captains and his seniors, his teammates, all his fans, and above all the Pakistani nation for supporting him throughout his cricketing career as a player and captain as well.


So long, Woolmer!

Bob Woolmer, Pakistan cricket team coach, died on Sunday morning in Kingston, Jamaica. He was 58 years of age. He was considered one of the best cricket coaches of the world. He introduced modern technique and methods in coaching, and was a pioneer in using computer-based analysis. Robert Andrew Woolmer was born on May 14, 1948 in Kanpur, India. As a right-hand batsman and right-arm medium-pace bowler, Woolmer played for England, Kent, Natal and Western Province. His first-class cricket spanned from 1968 to 1984, during which he played 19 Tests and six ODIs for England.Bob Woolmer made his Test debut in 1975 at the Lord’s against Australia. Earlier, he played his first ODI in 1972 at Manchester also against Australia. In his early stage of Test cricket for England, he joined Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, but on his return he was not included in the national team. Later, he joined the rebel South African tour of 1981-82. However, an injury in 1984 forced him to take a premature retirement from cricket. In Test cricket, he scored 1,059 runs at an average of 33.09 with three hundreds, all against Australia. His highest score was 149, which he made only in his second Test. Besides, he appeared in six ODIs. He took four Test and nine ODI wickets. He was named one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1976.His coaching career started in 1991 at Warwickshire till 1994, when he was appointed as coach of South Africa for two upcoming World Cups, in which South Africans showed highly impressive performances, especially in 1999. Later, he left the job when South Africa failed to win the 1999 World Cup semi-final against Australia to make their way for the final at Lord's.In 2001, he joined the ICC as high performance manager. Later in June 2004, he signed a coaching contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to take charge of Pakistan’s national team up to the 2007 World Cup.


PCB issues official statement of Woolmer's death

JAMAICA: PCB media manager PJ Mir read the official statement of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer's death before the media journalists present outside the University Hospital Kingston here today.The statement says: "Robert Andrew Woolmer, the Pakistan cricket team coach, has passed away today. The entire Pakistan team and management are shocked and saddened by his passing. His next of kin have been informed, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family. The chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board, Dr Nasim Ashraf, has also been informed. There will be a coroner inquest, and in keep the Jamaican law an autopsy will take place to determine the cause of his death. Further information will be provided at the earliest opportunity once it has been received from the hospital."


Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer passes away

Sunday, March 18, 2007

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Pakistan coach BobWoolmer died in hospital on Sunday after being found unconsciousin his hotel room, the team's management told to media.
Earleir, the deceased was rushed to hospital in the emergency ward when he found unconscious in his hotel room.
"Bob Woolmer died in hospital," a team spokesman told reporters.
Bob's family and wife were informed by the team management about Bob's condition when he was brought to hospital, the spokesman said.
It was earlier reported that Woolmer was found at 1545 GMT on the floor of his hotel room unconscious and with signs of vomiting. An ambulance took him to the Kingston University Hospital.
Woolmer, who took charge of the Pakistan team in 2004, was seen late on Saturday night, but officials raised the alarm after not seeing him early on Sunday.
When they went to his hotel room, they saw he was unconscious.
Pakistan team manager Talat Ali, their South African based trainer Murray Stevenson and assistant manager Asad Mustafa went with Woolmer to the hospital where he was given medical attention.
Woolmer was last seen in public when he addressed the post-match media conference after his team's defeat to Ireland at Sabina Park.
He talked of the stresses of the coaching job.
"Doing it internationally, it takes a toll on you - the endless travelling and the non-stop living out of hotels."
His contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board was due toexpire on June 30 but it was widely expected he would part company with them after the World Cup which is scheduled to finish on April 28.
"I would like to sleep on my future as a coach," Woolmer said in Saturday's post-match news conference.
In his playing career, Woolmer appeared for Kent in the English county championship and played 19 Tests for England. He has also coached the South African national team.
It should be noted that Pakistan was knocked out of the World Cup on Sunday after a shock three-wicket defeat to Ireland.


Pakistan Cricket in Photo Index

Jeremy Bray falls to Mohammad Sami, Ireland v Pakistan, Group D, Jamaica, March 17, 2007

Mohammad Sami celebrates the wicket of Jeremy Bray, Ireland v Pakistan, Group D, Jamaica, March 17, 2007

Kamran Akmal cracks one through the covers, Ireland v Pakistan, Group D, Jamaica, March 17, 2007

Kevin O'Brien celebrates the wicket of Shoaib Malik, Ireland v Pakistan, Group D, Jamaica, March 17, 2007

Andre Botha pumps his fist after dismissing Imran Nazir, Ireland v Pakistan, Group D, Jamaica, March 17, 2007

And another for Andre Botha, removing Inzamam-ul-Haq, Ireland v Pakistan, Group D, Jamaica, March 17, 2007

Boyd Rankin celebrates Younis Khan's wicket, Ireland v Pakistan, Group D, Jamaica, March 17, 2007

Younis Khan edges Boyd Rankin to first slip, Ireland v Pakistan, Group D, Jamaica, March 17, 2007

Mohammad Hafeez trudges off cheaply, Ireland v Pakistan, Group D, Jamaica, March 17, 2007

Danish Kaneria at Pakistan's net practice, Kingston, March 16, 2007

Umar Gul sends one down at practice, Kingston, March 16, 2007

Pakistan players jog around the park at practice, Jamaica, March 16, 2007


Bangladesh stun India by 5-wkt win

PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD: Bangladesh unexpectedly won their opening group ‘B’ match by five wickets against India here today at the Queen’s Park.Set a winning target of 192 in 50 overs, Bangladeshi batsmen easily overcame India in 48.3 overs despite frequent bowling changes by Rahul Dravid.Three half-centuries were scored by them; opener Tamim Iqbal made 51 off 53 balls with seven fours and two sixes and Saqibul Hasan went for 53 off 86 balls with five fours and one six while wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim, who, remained not out at 59 with four fours and two sixes.Earlier, Bangladeshi bowlers in an excellent performance display shattered Indian batting power house to reduce them at 191 in 49.3 overs.Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar after winning the toss put India in to batting and then his bowlers dislodged their batting greats –Tendulakar, Dravid, Sehwag. Only Sarouv Ganguly (66)and Yuuraj Singh (47) provided some resistance and the whole team collapsed within 50 overs. Man-of-the-match, seam bowler Mashrafe Mortaza captured four for 38 while spinners while Mohammad Rafique and Abdur Razzak bagged three wickets each for 36 and 38, repectively.


Ireland embarrass Pakistan by five wickets

KINGSTON, JAMAICA: Cricket minnows Ireland in a major upset gave unpredictable Pakistan a three-wicket embarrassment in a thrilling group ‘D’ World Cup encounter here today.Through an amazing extra-ordinary performance, Ireland first skittle out Pakistan for a paltry 132 in 45.4overs and then achieved the target in 41.4 overs for the loss of seven wickets when captain Trent Johnston hit a huge six off Azhar Mahmood. Wicketkeeper-batsman Niall O’Brien top scored with 72 off 197 deliveries. He struck six fours and one six during his innings and was later declared the man-of-the-match.From Pakistan, fast bowler Mohammad Sami took three wickets for 29 and Iftikhar Anjum got two for 29 while off-break bowlers Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez claimed one wicket each.Earlier, Ireland captain won the toss and chose bowling against Pakistan to take advantage of the moisturous green-top Sabina Park pitch. His bowlers, fully supported by their fielders, utilized the conditions to make Pakistan collapsed. None of the Pakistani batsmen could make any significant score except Kamran Akmal who made 27 but the top-scorer was Mr. Extras with 29 runs. Only four players could reach double figures.From Ireland side, medium-fast bowler Boyd Rankin captured three for 32 while medium-pacer Andre Botha and off-spinner Kyle McCallan claimed two wickets each for 12 and five runs, respectively.


Inzi attracting negative publicity

Saturday, March 17, 2007

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The World Cup has just got underway but the Pakistan team is already attracting plenty of negative publicity. The team’s captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, however, says he is not really bothered.“It doesn’t surprise me much,” Inzamam told reporters on Friday afternoon here at the Sabina Park following a practice session. “I would have been surprised had there been no negative reports about my team,” the veteran batsman added satirically. In recent days, there have been reports of a serious rift between Inzamam and some of the team officials. There have also been rumours that some of the players, too, were not getting along with each other. Inzamam rubbished all such reports as baseless, asking the media to ‘leave his team alone’.“I’ve been playing for 17 years and am used to such criticism which comes up each time we lose,” he said. “But I would still say that the media should stop speculating and leave my team alone.” Inzamam spoke on several issues ahead of the match against Ireland. He was impressed at the way Ireland played in their thrilling tie against Zimbabwe pointing out that ‘there is no team in the World Cup that could be taken lightly’. “Ireland have proved that they are no push-overs,” said Inzamam. The skipper said that his team has regrouped after losing the opening match to the West Indies and is now looking forward to winning its next two games against Ireland and Zimbabwe. He praised his medium pacers especially Umar Gul for helping his bowling attack in the absence of top strike bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif. “Umar Gul has proved to be our best pacer,” he said.


Bob Woolmer may have ‘overstayed’ as Pakistan coach

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Officially you might hear something different, but whispers coming out of the Pakistani camp here strongly indicate that the national cricket bosses are already searching for the successor of coach Bob Woolmer, writes Khalid Hussain.Sources in the Pakistan squad have confirmed to ‘The News’ here that some of the team players and officials have developed serious differences with Woolmer and are urging the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to bring in a new coach after the World Cup. Woolmer’s contract with the Pakistan team is supposed to run till June this year and the PCB chief Dr Nasim Ashraf recently said that the Board was considering the option to carry on with him even after the World Cup. However, things are far from smooth in the Pakistani camp and some of the team members and officials believe Woolmer has been playing a bit of a role in it. Sources said that there is a feeling in a segment of the Pakistani camp that Woolmer might be leaking information of discord within the team and its officials to the media. They are also unhappy with the fact that the Englishman has opted to write regular columns for a web portal during the all-important World Cup during which he should have been concentrating on his team’s performance in the event. Sources said that Woolmer’s strained relations with a top PCB official are also not helping his cause. There were indications that Woolmer could have been told by the Board that his contract would end after the World Cup before the Pakistani squad left for the Caribbean as the coach is said to have sent his belongings back to South Africa where he is based. Reports coming from Lahore, where Woolmer stays during his visits to Pakistan, suggested that the PCB has already given his room at the National Cricket Academy to a CARICOM official who was in Lahore in connection with special World Cup visas.However, Woolmer said he hasn’t been informed about any such development. “I don’t know if somebody has been put in my room, I’ve no such information,” said Woolmer. “If somebody is staying there then it is without my permission,” he added. Woolmer, 58, also denied that he sent all his stuff back to his home in South Africa from Lahore before coming here. “I did send some stuff that I did not need but all the important stuff is with me right here.”The former England batsman who is regarded as one of the most accomplished coaches in the cricket world is believed to be in the run to replace England coach Duncan Fletcher after the World Cup.

Will Pakistan Premier League gain success just like Indian Premier League ?