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Fawad Ahmed's presence in the headlines, having so far been a feel-good tale of success and survival, had taken a sour turn when his decision to appear for Australia sans their sponsor, Victoria Bitter's logo, on his uniform has invited criticism from from former sportspeople. Cricket Australia made their support for Fawad amply clear and Sharda Ugra writing in the Australia India Institute explores Australian cricket's migration from the supposed 'pale, male, stale' stereotype.
It is understood that the contract between Cricket Australia and Carlton & United Breweries, owners of VB, contained an opt-out clause about wearing the alcohol sponsor's logo because of a player's religious belief. Fawad's Australian team shirt was not an after-thought that had led to the logo being ripped off or covered with black tape minutes before he went on to the field. It is part of a larger, constantly evolving picture
Fawad's swift rise raises a point which is applicable to several international athletes. It asks how much, and what playing for a country, any country, means in the modern day, writes Osman Samiuddin in the National. Fawad's story is not very different from Kevin Pietersen's, in that it just places notions of individual progress and excellence above collective pride.
Does not the pride and honour of individual achievement naturally supersede that of representing a country? That is, it must feel great to be acknowledged as one of the top individual athletes in the country, more so than the feeling of pride that comes with representing your country. In other words, the identity of the country an athlete represents - or any attachment to it - may not be as important to the athlete as the desire to be among the best at whatever discipline the athlete has chosen and be recognised as such by being selected to represent their country.
Just two days before his magical Mohali debut, Shikhar Dhawan was having a nets session when he happened to pick up M Vijay, his opening partner's, bat and found that it was to his liking. While other cricketers tend to know the exact weightage of their bats and how many grains they want across the blade, Dhawan has a more intuitive approach, taking in the bats' balance and how it 'feels' when he gets into his stance. He walked out with Vijay's bat that fateful day on March 14, and has not looked back since, stroking the fastest century on Test debut, and then adding a further two centuries and a fifty in his ODI comeback during the Champions Trophy. Its safe to say that Dhawan will not be too perturbed if he smuggles a few more pieces of willow out of Vijay's kit bag.
Since its inception in 2008, the IPL has brought more credence towards the use of bigger bats as the boundaries are reined in and the crowd expects sixes galore. In a feature with the Hindustan Times, the owners of Sareen Sports (SS) and Sanspareils Greenlands (SG) discuss the evolution of batting blades and how the business has boomed, especially during IPL season.
"Everyone wants customised heavier bats for T20, bats that can hit sixes. Pollard wields the heaviest (1400gm). Yusuf also prefers a heavy bat. Other big names on this list are Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Chris Gayle (around 1300gm)," says Paras Anand, owner of Sansparaeils Greenlands.
Apart from big hitting, the other reason for the choice of heavier blades Anand feels is the short duration. "Using a heavy bat in Tests and ODIs puts more pressure on the arms and back. But in T20 games you play just 60 to 70 balls."