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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
The cricket team that shoulders a billion hopes? No, we're not talking about India, but cricket's new converts - the Vatican. With ecclesiastical records numbering members of the Catholic church at around 1.2 billion worldwide, the ICC, in their bid to expand the game, would sure welcome the news of the Vatican being interested in cricket.
And that's what it seems to be, with the Pontifical Council for Culture announcing plans to form cricket teams - one for men, made up of priests from around the world, and a women's XI comprising nuns. Australia's ambassador to the Vatican, John McCarthy, a former SCG Trust member, is helping to put the teams together, and hopes to organise a match against a Church of England XI.
Cricket, McCarthy said, was already popular in Rome, with priests and religious arriving there from around the world, and the Vatican's teams would draw on talent from everywhere cricket is played. "Internationally one would have a team representing the Vatican drawn from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies," McCarthy told Vatican Radio. "We are looking for Sri Lankan, Indian or Pakistani sisters who have played cricket and if they are found, they certainly will be invited to join the [women's] cricket team."
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.
Known for their swagger, Surrey have only added to their reputation as the most glamorous of counties by signing Dermot O'Leary, the radio host and television presenter.
It is well documented that Surrey are in the market for a fourth-choice wicketkeeper but 5'8" O'Leary, whose previous major appearance at The Oval was a chat on Test Match Special, won't be donning the gloves but heading up a new media group to improve the county's work in the local community and their charity operations. O'Leary will also use his television glitz to raise the club's profile within London's media outlets.
"I am really excited to be getting involved at this fantastic club and hope we can really make a difference over the next few years," O'Leary said. "I am a huge sports fan and see The Oval as one of the leading venues in London and beyond. Although it regularly delivers world-class matches on an international stage, I am excited by its further potential and look forward to playing a part in its future development."
Surrey are yet to deny that a leg of the X-Factor Live! tour will be staged in Kennington and that Stacey Solomon - former X-Factor finalist, winner of the 10th series of I'm a Celebrity and (probable) Essex fan - is to be employed as a guest tour guide.
Kieran Gray is only 11 years old and yet he might already have enjoyed the most memorable day of his cricketing life.
Kieran, who plays for Maidenhead & Bray's U13 side, a picturesque Berkshire ground on the banks of the River Thames, took a wicket with every ball of an over - inviting speculation from club officials that the feat might never have been achieved before in a competitive match.
He was surely the first bowler to be removed from the attack after taking six wickets in an over. As other juniors got a chance to bowl, he preserved remarkable figures of 1-1-0-6.
The first five batsmen from Taplow CC were all bowled and, with tension rising on the banks of the Thames, his sixth ball was struck straight to cover. Taplow, 0-6 after one over, were all out for 21 and lost by 131 runs.
Staff from Loughborough University have set a new world record for the longest continuous game of cricket. Two teams of 11 - and one substitute fielder per side - utilised floodlights to play through wind, rain and hailstorms to extend the previous record by around 45 hours and set a new mark of 150 hours and 20 minutes.
While the record remains unofficial for now, organisers have sent extensive data - including sworn statements by participants, umpires and onlookers and video - to Guinness World Records in anticipation of verification of their achievement. Among those making appearances as umpires were former England players Matthew Hoggard, Paul Nixon and Alex Tudor, former New Zealand player Iain O'Brien and Derbyshire's Wes Durston. Graham Lambert and Stephen Holt of rock band The Inspiral Carpets also visited.
The game was inspired in an attempt to raise money for the Harley Staples Cancer Trust. The charity was setup in 2009 by Katherine Staples in memory of her son Harley, who passed away in 2009 after a long battle with a rare form of Leukaemia; B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia Burkitt Type. It is hoped the game will have raised around £15,000. For more details visit www.charitygiving.co.uk/cricket.
"We played 25 matches in a cycle," one of the organisers, Chris Hughes, told ESPNcricinfo. "We had torrential rain and hailstones the size of golf balls but, in true British tradition, we kept calm and carried on. Nothing Mother Nature could conjure up was going to stop us from breaking the record and raising many thousands of pounds. And we're already talking about having a go at extending the record next year."
Budding cricketers in England might have a host of clubs to support, but here's one that is making news more for its name than its record - 'VVS Laxman Cricket Club'. India batsman VVS Laxman's supporters named the club after him in Bradford, in northern England, as a "small way of showing our gratitude and affection towards a great friend," Manish Patel, Laxman's friend and club secretary, told the Indian Express.
"It was a little strange. He (Patel) was very adamant and I had no choice but to say yes," Laxman said. "Manish and his family are among my closest friends. I have known them since 1995 when I played in the Bradford League as a youngster. Obviously I was humbled by their gesture to name a club after me."
The club is playing in the 117-year-old Bradford Mutual Sunday School Cricket League this season and is in with a chance of making the semi-finals. Patel said senior members of the newly-formed club were unanimous on naming it after Laxman. "Laxman is an icon, probably the closest to being Mr Perfect," Patel said. "And not just on the field. He is a perfect example of how you should carry yourself. It is unimaginable how he's handled his fame. He is also like family to us."