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Rahul Dravid might have retired from all forms of cricket, but his desire to assist players at the grassroots level is as undimmed as his appetite for runs. The former India captain turned up for a club side in Bangalore as they looked to qualify for the next stage and Arjun Dev Nagendra, who was part of the opposition, presents a few highlights from the game in Wisden India
He did not disappoint. He scored a century. When his partner, who also scored a hundred, was cramping a little, Dravid walked down and helped him stretch. He had a go at the umpires a couple of times as they were missing out on no-balls. Yes, Rahul had a go at the umpire in a club game because they missed out on no-balls. And you thought club cricket might not be important to him. I told him in between overs that in our innings as well they had missed a few. He was really angry and made a gesture with his hands suggesting that they were missing huge no-balls
On Thursday, Durham won their third Championship title in 21 years, a victory that was built entirely by players picked from the community. In the Telegraph, Scyld Berry says that the Durham's victory is an example of what can be achieved when new regions are empowered with first-class status. While admitting that the addition of another county may stretch first-class cricket resources too thin, Berry also suggests that the road ahead for English cricket may lie in empowering communities.
I suspect our inner cities contain many cricketers who play below the official radar of premier leagues, or never play formal cricket at all, now or in the past. Not a single England Test player has been born in Wolverhampton, one in Hull, two in Stoke-on-Trent, and one in Liverpool since the nineteenth century.
There needs to be a pathway for inner-city players of all ethnicities, who either have no access to proper cricket facilities or cannot afford to join the few inner-city clubs that exist, with their costly membership and match fees, quite apart from expensive kit.
The Kanga League, one of Mumbai's and the country's toughest domestic environments, is slated to begin on Septmeber 7. The players walk out to wet, uncovered pitches that offer ready and often exaggerated help to seam bowling. As former Mumbai captain Shishir Hattangadi puts it, "If a batsman scored 30 or 50 runs, it would be considered equivalent to an 80 or a 100." Though the tournament has sustained several changes, stark among them being it beginning after the monsoon instead of during, former India cricketers reminisce the Kanga League's impact on their game in the company of Venkat Ananth of Livemint.
"The wet and soft pitches definitely helped develop my technique," says former wicketkeeper Chandrakant Pandit. "The wickets were a bowler's paradise and even after they eased out and got harder, they were usually two-paced. Survival was important. Your shot selection improved drastically. Whenever there were loose balls, you had to put them away, because they didn't come that often."
Fawad Ahmed had led a difficult life after his application for asylum in Australia was rejected for a third time in September 2012. Memories of fellow state cricketer and friend of 10 years, Nauman Habib's unexplained death in October 2011 made him dread his return to Pakistan. But just when the legspinner, who had received threats from "terrorists" at home, was losing hope Derek Bennett, president of the cricket club Ahmed played for, received an important phone call, writes Warwick Green in the Herald Sun.
"The key moment came when Ed Cowan rang,'' Bennett said. The Australians, preparing for the first Test of the summer against South Africa, were looking for a net bowler whose action resembled Proteas leg-spinner Imran Tahir. Cowan recalled seeing just such an action when Ahmed was bowling in the MCG nets.
"And then Ed said, 'Do you reckon Fawad could come up and bowl to us?''' Knowing full well that the assignment could help generate some timely publicity, Bennett had no hesitation in agreeing on Ahmed's behalf.
After several days of having his face and story plastered across the nation's media, Ahmed found his application for permanent residency status granted by the Minister
Paul Weaver in the Guardian muses over the biting-cold start to the English county season in Hove.
There was everything, in fact, apart from a small tent and the flag of Norway to inform us that Roald Amundsen, Scott's old adversary, had beaten us to it.