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With close to a year still left to serve of his ban from cricket, Mohammad Amir has found a novel way of keeping himself occupied - he is all set to play the lead role in Blind Love, a film by the Pakistani director Faisal Bukhari.
"I am the hero of the film and my heroine will be an Indian. Don't you think Pakistani people will like this combination? I am excited," Amir said, speaking to the Hindustan Times. "Of course, you have to try different ways to clean your image in the public. I want to be loved by Pakistani people again and hope this film will improve my image."
Amir is serving a five-year ban for his part in the spot-fixing controversy during the 2010 Lord's Test against England. His ban is set to end in September 2015.
"Amir's bad phase is going to end soon. If he performs well, people will love him," said Bukhari, who is in India to scout for a female lead to star opposite Amir. "He is young. He wants to reform. He also deserves a chance like everybody. I find an amazing protagonist in him because he himself is a story."
Does Mitchell Johnson make more of an impact on the batsman's psyche when he is sporting a moustache? He certainly seems to think so, and says the mo' will be back to intensify his stare at batsmen this summer. Johnson is presently wearing a goatee in the UAE, but the handlebar will make a return in time for Movember and South Africa's visit down under.
"I think it does give you that little bit of extra agro as well when you have the stare going on," Johnson told News Corp Australia. "I've looked back at some footage when I've been clean shaven and it doesn't really have the same effect.
"When you look at all the (great) fast bowlers in the history of the game … Dennis Lillee had a mo', Merv Hughes … (there have been) all different shapes and sizes and it definitely adds an effect to being a fast bowler. I will be doing Movember again this year so I'll have to start from scratch and we'll have to see. I'll probably do the full mo' again."
Did Johnson's mo' have anything to do with England losing the Ashes 5-0 last summer? Maybe KP's book will have the answer.
With Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Virat Kohli already on board as co-owners of franchises in the Indian Super League, it isn't a surprise that MS Dhoni, who famously began his sporting life as a goalkeeper, has claimed a space for himself in the IPL-style football tournament. It's even less of a surprise that the team he has a stake in is the Chennai franchise, Chennaiyin FC.
"I am fortunate to get associated with the team," Dhoni said, when he was unveiled as one of the team's co-owners. "I have played seven years of Indian Premier League from this city. It would have been emotionally difficult if I had been associated with other teams like Mumbai or Kolkata. So I am glad to be a part of it."
Like the IPL, Dhoni said the ISL would allow Indian players to interact with and learn from foreign players.
"The sport is different. But the format is quite similar," Dhoni said. "When CSK was formed, we also had foreign players. It helped us understand different cultures. I feel our Indian footballers should look up to these international stars and learn from the different footballing styles that they bring in."
Remember Ash the pig? He was the one smuggled into the Gabba on a steaming summer's day during the last Ashes and later found to be dehydrated and in fairly sorry condition. Well, the update is that David Gunn, accused of smuggling him in wrapped in a blanket, his snout taped shut and ensconced in a baby harness, no longer faces charges of animal cruelty. The charges were reportedly dropped by Brisbane's prosecuting authorities because they couldn't prove that Gunn was the same person who'd smuggled in the pig. And Ash? Well, he was adopted soon after his ordeal and spent his recuperation eating liver and swimming in his own pool. He's now reported to be in good health.
Forty-year-old Shivnarine Chanderpaul and his son Tagenarine playing together for Guyana is one thing, but imagine a 58-year-old father joining his son in a national side. That was the case at the Asian Games this week, when Bastaki Mahmoud and his son Bastaki Fahad turned out for Kuwait in matches against Nepal and Bangladesh.
It is fair to say that Kuwait are not exactly a powerhouse in the cricket competition at the games - they were bowled out for 20 by Nepal and for 21 by Bangladesh - but they certainly provided one of the tournament's feelgood moments. That occurred when Fahad, a spinner, managed to claim the wicket of Tamim Iqbal, one of the top 40 batsmen in Twenty20 internationals, according to the ICC's rankings.
"Though it was a bad delivery, it gave me a lot of pleasure, especially because my father took the catch," Fahad told the Daily Star. "As I'm also a wicketkeeper, I have taken many catches off my father's bowling, but it was the first time today that the reverse happened. I will remember this moment for the rest of my life.
"I have seen these players on TV only. This is the first time I am seeing them in person and talking to them. It is a dream come true."
Not only did Fahad take three wickets, his father Mahmoud also claimed two, including that of opener Anamul Haque. Quite an achievement for a 58-year-old whose day job is heading the credit finance department of a Kuwaiti bank.
"By the grace of Allah, I am very happy and I thank the Kuwait cricket board for giving us such an opportunity to represent the national team," Mahmoud said. "I want to keep playing cricket for as long as I am fit."
Fines, not fun. That's what awaits you should you decide to streak at World Cup matches in New Zealand next year. And that's if you're lucky. Else you might find yourself locked up for three months.
Keen to 'showcase New Zealand in a perfect light', the powers that be have sanctioned penalties for streakers which include fines up to NZ$ 5,000 (US$ 3900 approx) and jail terms of up to three months, the Dominion Post reported. "We will have waited 23 years for the return of what is now one of the world's biggest sporting events," a World Cup spokesman was quoted as saying. "This is not the time to let the side down."
If it is superheroes in Hollywood, it is sports biopics in India. After the stories of Olympic medal-winning boxer Mary Kom and legendary athlete Milkha Singh hit theatres, it is the turn of India's captain MS Dhoni.
MS Dhoni - the untold story is a biopic produced by Rhiti Sports, the company that manages Dhoni's commercial interests. The film, due to release in 2015, hopes to highlight Dhoni's life prior to becoming one of the most successful cricketers on the international circuit. It will be directed by Neeraj Pandey, who was at the helm of the acclaimed thriller A Wednesday. Sushant Singh Rajput, who is two films old and also has experience on the television circuit, plays the lead.
"MS Dhoni is one of the biggest sporting icons in this world, and his biopic will certainly be an inspiration to those who dare to dream and then go all out to achieve their dreams," said chairman of Rhiti Sports Arun Pandey.
Nasir Khan, a Pakistani-born coach living in South Korea, was searching for a way to motivate South Korea's Asian Games team. His idea: showing clips of Sachin Tendulkar to the local players. Nasir's efforts have led to several local girls slowly shifting disciplines from swimming, golf, tennis and badminton, to a "new sport" called cricket.
Eunjin Lee, a 21-year-old former lifeguard, is one such batsman who has copied Tendulkar's style. "She used to fret over the lack of strength in her arms, and her height. But I motivated her by showing her videos of the great man," Nasir told Daily News and Analysis. 'See, this guy is short in stature, but he's very tall in his achievements'," Nasir tells Lee and her other team-mates during training sessions.
Though South Korea has had a cricket league in place since the early 90s, it mostly consisted of players from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia. It wasn't until the 2010 Asian Games that South Korea even formed a men's team, and it took another three years to create one for the women. Nasir was then tasked with finding women who could be trained for these games, and he set out by putting up banners in colleges and universities for the same. He next had to take these women to a cricket-playing country for exposure, and surprisingly, Nasir chose Nepal.
Why? "The girls were not ready to go to Pakistan," he said. "Sri Lanka would be too rainy and Australia too cold. We were also worried that I could be denied an Indian visa because of my Pakistani background.
"It was during our stay in Nepal that the girls watched the IPL. As cricket in Asian Games is a T20 affair, the girls could understand the game better."
The Indian cricket team loves its football. It plays the game pretty competitively before every training session. Now one of the biggest stars of the team will help pay wages of FC Goa in the upcoming Indian Super League, a franchise-based domestic football tournament.
"Some might think I am pretty young to do something like this or it is a step taken too early, but nothing is never too early," Virat Kohli said. "If you believe in something, you have to put your 100% commitment to it, and I decided to do it because I want football to grow in India.
"Cricket is not going to last forever so, whenever I am done, whenever I retire, I am keeping all my options open. It is something that excited me a lot and I tried to go ahead with it."
Kohli is not just an owner in name. "I was pretty much in touch with FC Goa, figuring out whom to pick," Kohli said. "We have a pretty strong side. Average age of the side is 28." The team will be coached by Brazilian legend Zico, and has in its ranks former French playmaker, Robert Pires.
Kohli might be the first active cricketer to co-own a team in the league, but Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly already own stakes in the Kochi and Kolkata franchises respectively.
It is not often that MS Dhoni loses his cool, but if reports are to believed, the India captain was upset by a rather trivial matter: home-cooked Hyderabadi biryani sent by his international team-mate Ambati Rayudu.
The day before Chennai Super Kings were handed a three-wicket defeat by Kolkata Knight Riders in the Champions League T20, Dhoni and his Super Kings team-mates were busy shifting hotels from the Grand Kakatiya to the Taj Krishna. The reason: Grand Kakatiya's strict policy against consumption of outside food in the hotel premises.
Though the Grand Kakatiya was willing to relent a bit and allow the players to partake the biryani in their rooms, Dhoni was adamant on using the board room, after which the hotel put its foot down. Dhoni's response was to leave the hotel itself, and take his squad along.
While BCCI and Super Kings officials, as well as the hotel staff, said that the players had abruptly moved out on Tuesday, they refused to give a definite reason.
"We're a five-star deluxe facility and there are five other such hotels in the city. One is free to pick one's place of stay," George Verghese, the general manager of the Grand Kakatiya, said.
It may have only been included as a footnote in a wire service report of the New York Yankees late season encounter with the Kansas City Royals, but a meeting between a pair of baseball and cricket titans occurred on the field before Friday night's game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
Derek Jeter, the Yankees all-time leader in hits and games played, met with Sachin Tendulkar during batting practice ahead of the game. The Yankees posted a photo on social media of Friday's encounter in which they described Tendulkar as "the god of cricket". The pre-game meet up also included another industry leader, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi.
There's been no word on whether or not Tendulkar was able to convince Jeter to come out to India for a chance to watch the IPL in person.
Usain Bolt outhits Yuvraj Singh in a six-hitting competition. Yuvraj Singh outruns Usain Bolt in a 100m dash. Both share the honours in a bowl-out, hitting the stumps three times apiece.
That was just some of the 'action' witnessed by the fans who turned up to watch an exhibition match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Tuesday. While some of it was clearly not authentic, the 6000-strong crowd present at the Puma event didn't seem to mind.
The highlight of the day, of course, was the match itself, a four-overs-per-team, seven-a-side affair. There were other big names on show too: Yuvraj's team included Zaheer Khan, while Bolt had Harbhajan Singh.
And it was a thriller: with 10 needed off two balls, Bolt hit a six off the penultimate ball - sent down by full-time keeper, part-time offspinner Aditya Tare - but missed the next one. In keeping with the entertainment-first theme, umpire Ajay Jadeja called no-ball, and Bolt duly smashed the final one for six more to finish 45 not out off 19 (both captains were allowed to bat through the innings, even if dismissed in between). Wonder if Royal Challengers' scouts were around?
Usain Bolt isn't a stranger to cricket. He played during his early years, did a number on Chris Gayle's stumps in a charity match in Jamaica in 2009 and almost turned out for Melbourne Stars during the 2012 Big Bash League. And he will be at it again when he squares up with Yuvraj Singh during an event at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium, on September 2.
Though Bolt's abilities on the open track are considerably more impressive, Gayle had a word of warning about Bolt the cricketer: "In a charity game he [Bolt] played against me, he almost knocked my head off with a good, competitive bouncer."
Bolt's trademark celebrations have been copied by cricketers, but here is a chance for catching the original one on a cricket field. Look out, Yuvraj.
More than 130 years after a riotous cricket match in Dundee was abandoned after a team of clown cricketers was attacked by a spectator, the city will stage a similar and hopefully more sedate version of the event on August 24.
On September 27, 1879, Dundee, not really accustomed to cricket, was treated to a game featuring a team of clowns from a travelling circus, who had promised to play in their outfits. An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people turned up at Baxter Park, but as the huge crowd surged dangerously close to the wickets, a man took exception to the clowns' "grotesque appearance" and tried to hit two of them. The ensuing chaos caused the match to be called off.
This time, however, the organisers are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a trouble-free event.
"We loved the idea that so many people in Dundee wanted to see a cricket match, when Dundee is not well known for its love of cricket," chairwoman Irene Shearer told the Courier. "We've been able to get Norwood and Dundee High and one of the teams will be wearing cricketing whites and the other will come in elements of clown fancy dress.
"However, as soon as they admitted they wanted 11 full clown outfits to play cricket, they were turned down by the fancy dress shops. Maybe somebody reading this will be able to help out."
Lendl Simmons*, the West Indies batsman, has been left looking for a new bat after a brush with overzealous customs officials in the USA.
Simmons was travelling through the country between games for Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League when his bat attracted the interest of customs officials. In a sure sign that cricket remains a mysterious and largely unknown sport in the USA, the officials feared that the bat could be used to transport illegal drugs so drilled several holes into it to enable closer inspection.
Initially it was thought that it was New Zealand and Amazon Warriors allrounder Jimmy Neesham's bat that was under scrutiny after he tweeted a picture of the ruined bat, saying: "Imagine if your cricket gear went through America and they drilled holes in your bat to look for drugs..."
Neesham later clarified that it was Simmons' bat. "Just to clarify again, the bat belongs to Lendl Simmons. Pretty happy I managed to dodge that bullet!"
The first tweet spawned an amusing raft of puns on Twitter using the hashtag #drugbat. Among the more imaginative suggestions were Richard Hadl-E, Co-Kane Williamson, Whispering Meth and Arul Supplier. Malcolm Speed was not asked to comment.
Imagine if your cricket gear went through America and they drilled holes in your bat to look for drugs... pic.twitter.com/oaxAFJAvSK— Jimmy Neesham (@JimmyNeesh) August 8, 2014
* August 9, 4.00am GMT: This story was updated to reflect that it was Simmons' bat that was inspected, and not Neesham's.
At 17, Malala Yousafzai is among the most influential people in the world. The Pakistani teenage activist has addressed the United Nations, met with US president Barack Obama, the Queen of England, and among other things, she has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She also travels around the world campaigning for women and child education around the world.
Being from Pakistan, Yousafzai also loves cricket. So when she landed in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, as part of an engagement with National Academy for the Performing Arts to speak to students about her campaign, she couldn't miss the opportunity to meet one of the game's greats.
"I met an amazing person yesterday [July 28] who I thought I would never meet in my life. I met Brian Lara," Yousafzai said.
While giving some cricketing tips to Yousafzai's brother, Lara, Yousafzai said, explained that in cricket, one needs to learn step-by-step. Speaking to the Trinidadian students, she said that like in cricket, one also needs to take education step-by-step.
Justin Langer signed off from his Test career as part of the team that crushed Andrew Flintoff's men 5-0 in 2006-07. Now, Langer has one more thing over Flintoff, having broken his world record for the most deliveries faced in a minute. Flintoff set the record of 19 balls back in 2012, but Langer has now set a new mark of 23 in a minute.
"It's good to get one over Freddie actually," Langer said. "He gave me more bruises and headaches than most fast bowlers, especially towards the end of my career."
Langer was raising money for charity SolarisCare as part of his role as a Dry July ambassador, and Flintoff's record was one of two Guinness World Records he broke on the same day. Langer also claimed the world record for the fastest time to put on a full cricket kit of two pads, two gloves, arm guard, helmet and sweater, achieving it in 38.81 seconds.
"It's for a great cause in Dry July and SolarisCare so today has been good fun. Having been brought up as a professional sportsman and now a coach, trying to encourage guys to be as professional as possible, actually giving alcohol up wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
"Particularly with the great cause it's going to, it's a very, very small sacrifice for what is an awesome foundation and charity like Dry July."
There is no cricket at the Commonwealth Games this year, but Mitchell Starc's attention is firmly on the Glasgow event all the same. His 20-year-old brother Brandon Starc is competing for Australia in the high jump. And his personal best of 2.28 metres makes him a medal contender.
"He keeps telling me he is jumping against guys who are a lot older and a lot taller than him and he still has a few years of growing left so it's exciting for him, and exciting for me as his brother to watch on and watch someone else do something," Mitchell Starc said. "I think he is definitely confident that if he can jump a personal best he should medal, which is exciting for him."
Starc's qualifying rounds begin on Monday and if he progresses, he will jump for a medal in the final on Wednesday. His big brother is not in Glasgow but will be watching closely from home in Australia.
"I think it's only fair," Mitchell Starc said of Brandon being the centre of attention. "He keeps whinging about copping all of that, being 'my brother', but he's representing Australia at a Commonwealth Games so I'm more than happy to be known as Brandon Starc's brother at the moment."
If the England team management's word is anything to go by, it turns out there is, in fact, a valid reason why several players over the last few days have looked as if they had just seen a ghost.
"It was so hot in my room I just couldn't sleep. All of a sudden, the taps in the bathroom came on for no reason," he said. "I turned the lights on and the taps turned themselves off. Then when I turned the lights off again the taps came on. It was very weird.
"It really freaked me out. I ended up asking to move rooms. Bealey (Broad's girlfriend) was pretty spooked, too, and I know Moeen Ali's other half won't stay there because she's so frightened of the ghosts.
"Ben Stokes has had some problems sleeping as well. He's on the third floor, which is where a lot of the issues are. I'm telling you, something weird is going on."
Room 333 is believed to be the most haunted room with the hotel's own website stating: 'In 1973 a BBC radio announcer James Alexander-Gordon awoke suddenly in the night to see a fluorescent ball which slowly took on the shape of a man wearing Victorian evening wear. The announcer asked the ghost what it wanted and it began to float towards him, with its legs cut off some two feet below the ground, arms outstretched, eyes staring emptily. At this point the announcer got up and fled.'
This, however, is not the first instance of international cricketers being spooked during a tour. In 2005, Shane Watson had to famously share a room with Brett Lee as he was frightened of ghostly activities at the Lumley Castle Hotel near Durham.
Worse yet for Watson, former England seamer Darren Gough made sure that the Australia allrounder did not forget about his scary experience soon enough.
Venkatesh Prasad has ventured into cricket coaching since retiring from competitive cricket, but for a change, the cameras will be on him.
The former India seamer makes his acting debut in in the Kannada film Sachin, Tendulkar Alla (Sachin, not Tendulkar), as coach to the protagonist Sachin, an autistic boy who is mad about cricket and idolises some record-breaking India batsman he was named after.
Prasad had initially been reluctant to jump ship but the opportunity to work with Suhasini Maniratnam, a veteran of South Indian cinema, had been the clincher. His former new-ball partner Javagal Srinath is also part of the film.
"At first, I told him [the director] that I would not be interested, but as I listened to the story and my character narration, I was intrigued," he told Times of India. "Add to that the fact that Suhasini was in the film, and I was hooked. Suhasini is a dear friend of the family, and, as an actress who has done hundreds of films, we have sort of grown up on her work. I took up the film only for her."
Even if his inspiration had caused some nerves to flare.
"The camera didn't bother me at all, until, of course, I had to share screen space with Suhasini. I literally had butterflies in my stomach each time I had to emote or say a dialogue."
The movie had released on July 11 and has received warm reviews.