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Darren Gough, Wasim Akram join charity fundraising efforts

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Wasim Akram and Darren Gough are among the latest cricketing personalities attempting to combat the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pair have both promised items of memorabilia to be auctioned on behalf of the Centre for Disaster Philanthropy who have set up a COVID-19 Response Fund.

Akram, Pakistan’s highest wicket-taker in both Test and ODI cricket, has pledged a signed bat and ball while Gough, England’s second-highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket, has pledged a signed ball.

Stars from other sports involved in the fundraising include Jack Nicklaus, Mike Tyson, Nick Faldo, Rory McIlroy, Martina Hingis, Stephen Curry, Michael Phelps and Rose Lavelle. To enter the competition, visit athletesrelief.org

Akram and Gough join a long list of cricketers who have made charitable efforts to help out during the crisis, including Jos Buttler, who is auctioning the shirt he was wearing when England won the World Cup.

Ravi Bopara has offered free chicken from his restaurant in London to NHS staff, the umpire Aleem Dar has offered free food from his restaurant in Lahore to those who have lost their jobs, and Kent’s Sam Billings has offered to shop for vulnerable people in his area.

England women’s captain Heather Knight and the Surrey allrounder Rikki Clarke and are among those to have signed up as NHS volunteers, while Sam Curran has launched a fundraising campaign.



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Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul turn down call-ups for England tour

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Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul have declined an invitation to be part of West Indies’ squad to tour England in July, with Nkrumah Bonner and Chemar Holder winning their first Test call-ups.

Jermaine Blackwood, the middle-order batsman who made his maiden Test hundred against England in 2015, and left-arm seamer Raymon Reifer have also been included in the 14-man squad, while Shannon Gabriel, Sunil Ambris and Oshane Thomas are named among the 11 reserve players.

ALSO READ: England-West Indies schedule confirmed

The squad will fly to England on June 8 on private charters, after being tested for Covid-19, and will spend three weeks staying at Emirates Old Trafford quarantining and training on arrival. They will then travel to the Ageas Bowl to train ahead of the first Test, before returning to Old Trafford for the second and third Tests.

West Indies squad to tour England: Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Chemar Holder, Jason Holder (captain), Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach

Reserve players: Sunil Ambris, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shane Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican

More to follow



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Sweat not as effective as saliva, Sri Lanka bowlers tell coach Mickey Arthur

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The feedback from Sri Lanka’s bowlers on the first day of post-lockdown nets sessions, is that sweat is not quite as effective for ball management as saliva.

This is what the bowlers reported to coach Mickey Arthur, who is part of the ICC cricket committee that made recommendations last week to use only sweat while the Covid-19 pandemic ran its course. The recommendations were aimed to minimise infection.

Six members of the 13-man squad that began the 12-day “residential training camp”, are fast bowlers.

“It was interesting chatting to the bowlers, who said sweat made the ball a little bit heavier than saliva did,” Arthur told ESPNcricinfo. “Saliva was their preferred mechanism of shining the ball. But it is what it is now, you’ve just got to get on with it.

“Because I’m on the [ICC] cricket committee, I do know the debates and the chats that went around the recommendation to avoid using saliva on the ball – though you can use sweat on the ball because it’s been proven that sweat is not a real threat. The consensus in that committee meeting was: ‘Oh, well, if you can put sweat on, then it’s ok. It’s almost the same.'”

Although there is a broad consensus that for the time being the use of saliva on the ball should be avoided, there have been calls from leading voices in the game to allow the use of an artificial substance in place of saliva, in order to ensure that fast bowlers’ threat does not diminish substantially past the first few overs of the innings. Jasprit Bumrah, for example, said that if saliva is banned there should be “some alternative for the bowlers to maintain the ball”.

The ICC cricket committee resisted calls to greenlight outside substances, however, not least because the committee had strengthened punishments for ball tampering, in the wake of 2018’s tampering sagas – particularly Australia’s use of sandpaper in Cape Town.

“I will take this feedback back to the cricket committee, but I also know what the whole debate was around that issue,” Arthur said. “At the meeting last year, we actually recommended harsher penatlies for mints or any illegal substance on the ball, and it’s amazing that a year later we are discussing whether they can use artificial substances. It was almost a contradiction.

“The theme of the meeting when that discussion came up was around the fact that even if it made it a batters’ game for a bit, we just had to get cricket on. The focus was getting cricket on without making it too complex. If we allowed them to put an artificial substance on, for example, and Covid goes away in 18 months’ time or whenever, do we say: ‘you can’t use an artificial substance on the ball’ again? We would have just confused everything. There are other ways of evening up the contest for the bowlers as well – by leaving extra grass on the pitch etc.”

In addition to avoiding saliva on the ball, Sri Lanka’s training squad is also adjusting to a highly unusual training and living environment, in order to prevent infection. The 13 players and four support staff are essentially in their own bubble, going from hotel to ground and vice versa, in central Colombo. No one is allowed to leave either venue for personal reasons.

“Every morning we’re having temperatures taken every time you leave the room,” Arthur said. “We’re wearing masks all the time. It’s almost total isolation, because in the hotel we’ve got our own eating area, the gym is cleared during our gym sessions and they clear the pool for our recovery sessions. There’s no interaction with anyone else apart from the little bubble that we’re in. We were washing hands regularly as well. It is so different, but everybody’s sort of embraced it, as we have to. Dr Daminda Attanayake – our health advisor – she’s been absolutely outstanding.”

The training session on Tuesday had been interrupted when captain Dimuth Karunaratne suffered a heatstroke, requiring medical attention. He is expected to be back training on Wednesday, however, according to Arthur.

“They are doing a few more precautionary tests on Dimuth, but soon as those are done he’ll be up and ready to go. He’s a determined bloke.”



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BCA lifts suspension on Atul Bedade but removes him as Baroda Women’s coach

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The Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) has lifted the suspension on Atul Bedade, the former India batsman and head coach of Baroda Women’s team, after conducting an internal inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment by a few female cricketers. The BCA, however, confirmed Bedade would not continue as the coach “considering the sensitivity of the matter”.

The BCA formed a probe committee in March after issuing Bedade a suspension letter for “personal comments on physicality, comments that discourage the morale of team members, angry outbursts unbecoming of a women’s team coach, using language that is not accepted of a person in-charge, and behaviour oblivious of gender sensitivity”.

The committee headed by a four-member panel – CEO Shishir Hattangadi, senior HR manager Priyanka Verma and secretaries Ajit Lele and Parag Patel – conducted a hearing with Bedade and “various stakeholders”, before making their decision public.

“A preliminary inquiry was conducted by the CEO and senior manager-HR in the matter,” a BCA release stated. “During the apex committee [meeting] held on June 2, 2020, the issue was discussed and CEO and senior manager-HR were called to explain the details of investigations and their recommendations. Based on the details provided to the apex committee, it was resolved that his suspension stands withdrawn.”

Bedade’s stint as Baroda Women’s coach lasted less than a year, with the one-day championship in February being his last assignment. He played 13 ODIs for India in the 1990s before getting into coaching full time.



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