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BCB chief positive about getting security clearance for Pakistan tour

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BCB president Nazmul Hassan is hopeful that the Bangladesh team will get security clearance from the government to tour Pakistan next month for a series comprising three T20Is and two Tests. However, he also said that there remained a couple of more steps that needed to be taken before a final decision could be arrived at.

Last week, BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury had said that the board was expecting a decision from the government imminently, but that time was running out. However, Hassan struck a more positive tone on Saturday.

“We had written to the government about our security clearance for Pakistan,” Hassan said. “We had sent a women’s team and an Under-16 team previously. We don’t have the clearance for the senior men’s team yet. Security is paramount even if it is for an Under-12 side. It is going to be the same for everyone, which is why I believe that we are likely to get the security clearance.”

Bangladeshi sides have toured Pakistan in the recent past, but the men’s team haven’t done so since 2008. Seven years ago they were close to deciding on a tour to Pakistan, only for the AHM Mustafa Kamal-led BCB to pull out shortly after the decision to tour was taken.

Hassan has said that after the government announces their decision, it would be up to the BCB to speak to the players who could decide for themselves whether they were keen to tour or not. BCB director Akram Khan has already suggested splitting the tour so that the Tests could be played later.

“The government had sent their security team, so once we get the clearance we can tell you our decision. After the security clearance, we also must ask the cricketers, whose opinion is important.

“We also have to consider the board’s decision, but we are at the final stages of our decision. I think we will know about it in the next 4-5 days,” said Hassan.

The tour comprises of three T20Is, scheduled to be held in Lahore on January 23, 25 and 27, and two Tests, which are slated to be held in Rawalpindi and Karachi.



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No CAC, but BCCI advertises for new selectors

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Despite having not yet appointed a Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), the BCCI has put out an advertisement to fill positions in the national selection panels including the men’s committee where two members were on extension. On Sunday, the BCCI advertised to fill up the following positions: two slots on the senior men’s selection committee, all five in the senior women’s selection committee, and two on the junior men’s selection panel. Applicants need to apply by January 24.

All applicants need to have retired from the game at least five years ago. Candidates applying for the senior men’s positions should have played a minimum of seven Test matches, or 30 first-class matches, or 10 ODIs and 20 first-class matches. Applicants for the senior women’s positions should have played for the India women team, while the junior men’s candidates should have played a minimum of 25 first-class matches.

Out of the five members on the current men’s selection committee, former India and Andhra wicketkeeper MSK Prasad and former India and Rajasthan batsman Gagan Khoda have been on an extension, having finished their original four-year tenures in November 2019. Both Prasad and Khoda were originally appointed in 2015, as part of the previous selection panel led by former India batsman Sandeep Patil.

Prasad’s panel picked its final squad on January 12 for India’s tour of New Zealand. The selectors were originally scheduled to announce three squads for the tour, which comprises five T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests. However, the BCCI released only the T20I squad, without providing any information on when the ODI and Test squads would be announced.

It remains unclear whether Prasad’s panel will convene one last time to pick those two squads. The ODI series starts on February 5 while the Tests will commence on February 21.

In 2016, the BCCI for the first time picked selectors based on interviews, discarding the long-standing process of picking members from each of the five zones. Joining Prasad and Khoda were three new members – former India offspinner Sarandeep Singh, former India and Bengal batsman Devang Gandhi and former Mumbai captain Jatin Paranjpe. Prasad, being the most experienced, was appointed chairman of selectors.

A productive tenure

If this is the end of the journey for Prasad’s panel, they have plenty to feel proud of. The biggest thing Prasad has stressed in his interactions with the media has been the desire of his panel to solidify India’s bench strength. About three dozen debuts have been taken place across the three formats, with the selectors focused on creating back-ups for every position.

During this panel’s tenure, India reached the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy, won a historic Test series in Australia, solidified their position as the world’s No. 1 Test team, and made the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup. The most contentious call Prasad’s panel had to make concerned the former India captain MS Dhoni, whose wavering batting form raised questions over his place in the limited-overs teams. The selectors kept faith in Dhoni until the 2019 World Cup, but he hasn’t played since the end of the tournament, with Prasad remarking that the selectors had “moved on”. Dhoni’s name was missing from the list of BCCI-contracted players released on Thursday, but the questions over his future haven’t yet been decisively answered, even as Prasad moves on himself.

Uncertainty hangs over CAC situation

Even though the BCCI has issued a call for applicants, it is not clear who exactly will conduct the interviews to pick the new selectors. Even as it has retained the eligibility criteria as mentioned in the constitution that were formed as per the RM Lodha Committee’s recommendations, the board still needs to appoint the CAC, which has been tasked specifically with picking the men’s selection panel. Since last November there has been no CAC, after all three members of the previous panel stepped down in the wake of conflict-of-interest charges filed against them.

The BCCI, which elected a new administration last October led by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, has found itself in a spot trying to find new members for the CAC. Ganguly said appointing a new CAC would be one of the first tasks of his administration, but he has admitted that the existing conflict-of-interest rules have proved to be an obstacle, with former players not keen to serve on the committeee. Nonetheless, three former India players – Madan Lal, Gautam Gambhir and Sulakshana Naik – had recently given the BCCI their nod for joining the CAC.

The BCCI, however, has not yet made the news public, mainly because it is still waiting for the Supreme Court to respond to its plea concerning various amendments to the board’s constitution including relaxing the conflict norms. The court has not yet fixed a hearing date, leaving the BCCI restless.



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Highly-rated Tom Barber joins Nottinghamshire after Middlesex release

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Tom Barber, the highly-rated left-arm fast bowler, has signed for Nottinghamshire on a one-year deal following a successful trial.

Barber, 24, has previously had spells at Hampshire and Middlesex, and has regularly attracted high-profile admirers due to his ability to bowl genuinely fast – he once fractured the thumb of Eoin Morgan in the nets, and holds the record for the fastest delivery bowled at the national performance centre in Loughborough, believed to be around 97mph.

While Barber’s statistics in professional cricket are underwhelming to say the least – his economy rate in his 11 career T20s is an eye-watering 11.25 – he has long been considered an international prospect by the ECB. He was picked in the North v South series in 2018 and for an ECB XI to play India A in the same year, and has worked extensively with Kevin Shine, the former England and newly-appointed Nottinghamshire bowling coach.

“We’ve had the chance to take an extended look at Tom, and he’s fully earned his opportunity as part of our setup,” said the club’s head coach Peter Moores.

“His left-arm angle offers something different to our bowling attack and he bowls with genuine pace as well, which is an asset to any squad.

“He’s quickly gelled with the rest of the lads and has brought a work ethic that demonstrates his determination to make it in the professional game.

“I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in,” said Barber.

“Since I started training with the guys before Christmas, everyone has been really welcoming, and it’s going to be great to work with the likes of Paul Franks and Mooresy – as well as picking up with Shiney again.

“Trent Bridge is a really special place – it’s a Test ground, and plenty of great matches and performances have happened here, so I’m excited to hopefully get out there for Notts this summer.”



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Bowlers star as Sydney Thunder win rain-affected encounter

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Thunder exacted revenge against crosstown rivals Sixers with a dominant performance at the Sydney Showground Stadium



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