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Disappointing not to get picked for India – Shubman Gill

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Shubman Gill has admitted to being disappointed at not being selected for India’s tour of the West Indies, saying he expected to be there in at least one of the squads.

India will play three T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests against West Indies, with the first T20I on August 3.

Gill, who is with the India A squad in the Caribbean, finished the one-day series as the top run-getter with 218 runs in four matches, averaging 54.50 with a strike rate of 98.19. He hit three half-centuries and was named the Man of the Series.

Gill had earned a call-up to the India squad for the New Zealand tour earlier this year, and played two ODIs, though he didn’t get into double digits in either game.

“I was waiting for the Indian senior team to be announced on Sunday and I expected to be selected for at least one of the squads,” Gill told CricketNext. “It was disappointing not to get picked but I am not going to spend time thinking over it. I’ll keep scoring runs and performing to the best of my ability to impress the selectors.

“It was a fantastic series for me and team as well since we won with a 4-1 margin,” Gill said. “Personally, I would have liked to carry on and score at least a couple of hundreds in those fifties. But I will learn from this experience. The biggest lesson that I have learned from my first West Indies tour is to try to curb my natural game depending on the match condition.”

But while he didn’t make it to the squad, Gill was discussed at the selection meeting, with chief selector MSK Prasad saying, “He went to New Zealand when KL Rahul was suspended and now Rahul has come back so he (Gill) is in the waiting list. Definitely he will be considered in the future.”

In his brief career, Gill has shown he has the game to adapt to different formats, and found success at almost every level he has played at. His first-class career is only nine games old but he’s already amassed more than 1000 runs, and has hit at least a half-century in each of those matches. His List A numbers are also good. In 47 matches, including 17 for India A, Gill has 1942 runs at an average of 47.36 and a strike rate of 87.51.

Most of his T20 career has come in the IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders, having batted at different numbers from 1 to 7. Despite that, Gill’s average (32.31) and strike rate (132.90) have been impressive.

Gill’s next assignment is the three four-dayers in the Caribbean, with the first match starting on Wednesday in North Sound.



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Hafeez back with Pakistan squad after negative Covid-19 test

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Pakistan’s worries that there may have been a breach of the bubble they are supposed to maintain on tour appear to be over, with Mohammad Hafeez back with the squad, having returned a negative test for Covid-19.

Hafeez was placed in self-isolation on Wednesday and underwent testing, but once the results came back negative on Thursday morning, he rejoined the rest of the squad.

The Pakistan allrounder breached the regulations around social distancing during a round of golf on Wednesday. It came to light after he posted a picture on social media with a member of the public, a 90-year old woman who was not part of the bio-secure bubble. Though the picture showed them maintaining some distance between them, it was evident they were within two metres of each other.

The PCB released a statement acknowledging the breach, and announced that Hafeez was being tested and placed in self-isolation until the test results came back. It was termed an “inadvertent mistake”, with no further action to be taken. ESPNcricinfo understands the decision was taken in consultation with the ECB, whom the statement said were “updated of the decision”.

The breach has seen the PCB take a significantly less austere approach than in other instances of breaches over the summer.

England fast bowler Jofra Archer was stood down for the second Test and entered self-isolation for five days. He was only allowed to rejoin the side upon returning two negative tests.

The same was required of West Indies head coach Phil Simmons, who left the team bubble to attend his father-in-law’s funeral.

Earlier this week, 19-year old Kent batsman Jordan Cox was dropped for a Bob Willis Trophy fixture after posing for a photograph with young fans.

The golf course where Hafeez committed the breach is open to members of the public, though the players have been instructed to maintain social distancing. Hafeez is not part of the Test squad, but will be in consideration for the T20I leg of the tour, beginning on August 28.



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Graeme Smith denies Thami Tsolekile’s allegations of racial discrimination

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Graeme Smith has defended himself against allegations of racial discrimination during his 11-year tenure as South Africa’s captain after Thami Tsolekile joined Makhaya Ntini and Ashwell Prince in telling his story of exclusion.

In the second of a three-part interview with Marawa Sports Worldwide Tsolekile read out a prepared statement to Smith, on Tuesday, asking the former captain what he else he was “not aware of” after Smith earlier told media he did not know the extent of the difficulties players of colour faced. In particular, Tsolekile referred to his own experience of being nationally contracted and identified as Mark Boucher‘s successor in 2012, only to be sidelined when Boucher was injured in England. Tsolekile did not end up taking over from Boucher after AB de Villiers was installed as the Test wicket-keeper and called the incident “pure racism.”

Smith denied that race played a role in the decision not to add to Tsolekile three Test caps, earned in 2004. “In the case of the 2012 tour to England, which Thami has alluded to, there was a whole panel of selectors. Thami was in the squad as reserve keeper to AB de Villiers and this was communicated to him on both the England and Australian tours by Gary Kirsten, which has been previously acknowledged by Thami,” Smith posted in a statement on Twitter.

Tsolekile, who was on air again shortly after Smith’s statement was issued, refuted that he was back-up to de Villiers, and said he understood that he was due take over from Boucher. “It’s a lie. They picked Mark Boucher as a keeper and I was told I was the reserve keeper,” Tsolekile said on air. “I was playing for the South African A side (in England) When Mark Boucher got injured and the selectors called me. I was Mark Boucher’s deputy.”

At the time, de Villiers was announced as Boucher’s replacement by then-coach Gary Kirsten, before the South African selectors had been consulted. Later that year, selection convenor, Andrew Hudson, conceded that Tsolekile was told he would play in the home summer against New Zealand, but the decision was reversed when de Villiers opted to continue the dual role of keeper-batsman. According to Smith, that left no room for Tsolekile. “Unfortunately, Thami was a wicket-keeper, which meant he was always only fighting for one position,” Smith said. “I can understand how frustrating that must have been, and there have been several other excellent wicket-keepers that South African cricket never saw on an international stage, because keepers tend to stay in a team for long periods of time. That is also an international trend, not unique to South Africa.”

Smith also pointed to other players who were left out of the team during his time in charge, including Lance Klusener and Shaun Pollock, and that he had had “personal relationship challenges” with players across races. In 2003, Smith said Klusener “can sometimes ruin a team” and in 2010, Smith called Herschelle Gibbs “insecure,” after Gibbs’ autobiography was published. He maintained that he had a good relationship with Tsolekile. “I have never had an issue with him as a person and he has never borne out the frustrations of his international career on a personal level,” Smith wrote.

Although Tsolekile acknowledged he and Smith had a good relationship at under-19 level. he said he was “disappointed,” with Smith’s statement today and would have preferred an apology. “He (Smith) does not want to accept anything. It’s just excuses and denial. I am very disappointed,” Tsokelile said. “The least I would have expected is, ‘Thami, I am sorry and let’s move on’.

“He does not want to accept anything. It’s just excuses and denial. I am very disappointed. The least I would have expected is, ‘Thami, I am sorry and let’s move on.”

Tsolekile on Smith

Tsolekile also questioned why Smith was “surprised,” at the claims that are being made now in which players of colour are revealing their feelings of isolation. That includes Prince recalling an incident in 2005 when players of colour were subject to verbal abuse in Australia and Ntini explaining that he ran from the ground to the team-hotel because his team-mates wouldn’t sit with him on the bus. “You probably saw nothing in that because maybe you see racism as a norm in this country,” Tsolekile said, in his address to Smith.

Smith maintained that the “many of the issues being brought up on public domains have never been brought to my attention before, so they have come as a surprise to me,” and that his memories of playing alongside, Ntini, for one, were “some of the happiest.” He also indicated a willingness to engage with players to find a collective way forward.

“I understand that the current environment is one where a lot of hurts are finally being aired out in regard to South African cricket and I am happy to engage in discussions in the right forum even if it is uncomfortable because I think we can only learn from our past and help to shape a better future,” Smith said.

Smith was not present at the first meeting of CSA’s newly-formed social justice and nation-building committee which met on July 26. CSA’s board asked Smith not to attend the meeting to allow the group, consisting of 40 former players of colour and current coaches, to speak freely. The group expressed their dissatisfaction with Smith’s absence and CSA have indicated he will be involved in future.





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Sachin Tendulkar: ‘Waqar’s bouncer and playing through pain defined me’

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Sachin Tendulkar scored the first of his 100 international centuries as a teenager not yet a year old in international cricket, hitting 119 not out in the fourth innings at Old Trafford to help India save a Test. On the eve of the 30th anniversary of that innings – which came on August 14, 1990 – Tendulkar recalled how his first series against Pakistan and his training under Ramakant Achrekar before that had helped negotiate the England bowlers.

“I scored that 100 on August 14 and next day was our Independence Day, so it was special,” Tendulkar told Press Trust of India. “That hundred at least kept the series alive till next Test at the Oval. The art of saving a Test match was a new experience for me.”

Famously batting on despite wearing a Waqar Younis bouncer on his nose during his debut series, Tendulkar harked back to that experience as one that helped him deal with facing Devon Malcolm and company at Old Trafford a few months later, including getting hit on the back of the head by a Malcolm lifter in the first innings of that match.

“In Sialkot where I got hit and scored 57, we saved that Test match, too, from 38 for 4,” Tendulkar said. “Waqar’s bouncer and playing through pain defined me. After those kind of hits you are either stronger or you are nowhere to be seen.

“Devon and Waqar, during that phase, were easily the two quickest bowlers in the world bowling at 90 mph. Yes, I didn’t call the physio as I didn’t want to show them that I am in pain. My pain threshold was fairly high. It’s okay to get hit. So what? You don’t show your pain to the bowler.”

“Yes, I didn’t call the physio as I didn’t want to show them that I am in pain. My pain threshold was fairly high. It’s okay to get hit. So what? You don’t show your pain to the bowler.”

SACHIN TENDULKAR

When he played under childhood coach Achrekar, he had already learned to deal with pain because pitches were often used for 25 days straight at the Shivaji Park Gymkhana.

“I was used to getting hit on my body from my days in Shivaji Park as Achrekar sir would make us play on that and it would have enormous wear and tear,” Tendulkar recalled. “The same pitch we played a match on one day and next day we were back for nets. So balls would just jump off [a] length and hit my nose. In fact, (during fielding practice) I would just throw the ball up and take it on my body to absorb the pain.”

At Old Trafford, Tendulkar walked in with India 109 for 4, which later became 183 for 6, having been set a sizeable 408 for victory. Then Manoj Prabhakar joined him for an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 160 runs which took India to safety and kept the series alive after India lost the first Test.

Tendulkar elaborated on the challenges of facing the England attack.

“Chris Lewis bowled sharp inswing and throughout my career, backfoot cover drive had been my favourite shot,” he said. “The bowler who was the best by far in that series was Angus Fraser. He had a beautiful late outswing, high-arm action, so ball would bounce and move so late that you had to play at it.

“It was a case of showing patience and credit to Manoj that we had a 160-run stand,” he added. “No way till the last over [did we think we were safe in the match]. We came together when we were six down but me and Manoj together said ‘yeh hum kar sakte hain, match bacha lenge’ (we can save the match).”

Among the memories Tendulkar had from the game are the hilarity following his man-of-the-match award and a gift from team-mate Sanjay Manjrekar.

“Well I was 17 and the man of the match was presented with a bottle of champagne. Neither did I drink and also I hadn’t reached the legal age for drinking,” Tendulkar said. “My senior teammates would tell me ‘what would you do with it’. Sanjay Manjrekar presented me a white shirt which was a gift for scoring a hundred. I was really touched.”



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