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IPL 2021 – Will it be MS Dhoni’s final IPL? CSK CEO doesn’t think so

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Also says Ravindra Jadeja is “looking good” at training on return from his thumb injury

MS Dhoni is likely to remain part of the Chennai Super Kings set-up at IPL 2022, according to the franchise’s CEO, Kasi Viswanathan. Viswanathan also confirmed that allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, who left India’s tour of Australia early with a broken thumb and hasn’t played since then, is “looking good”.

“I don’t think it is going to be his final year. This is my personal view and I don’t think we are looking at anybody now,” Viswanathan told the Indian Express.

This is not the first time Viswanathan has come out with such a statement. With doubts over Dhoni’s future in the game swirling ever since the end of the 2019 World Cup, he had said last August, “We can expect MS Dhoni to be part of both [IPL 2020 and 2021] and probably for even the next year – 2022.”

Four days later, Dhoni retired from international cricket, and the Super Kings went on to have a woeful run at the 2020 IPL, finishing seventh out of eight teams in the UAE. Dhoni himself managed only 200 runs from 12 innings at a strike rate of 116.27 in the tournament. Questions of a complete overhaul of the Super Kings set-up naturally followed, prompting the question to be put to Viswanathan.

On the topic of Jadeja, who had fractured his left thumb during India’s epic draw in the New Year’s Test in Sydney, Viswanathan said that while he might not have played cricket since that game, he has been training with the team and they are hopeful of him being fully match fit for their opening game, against Delhi Capitals on April 10. “See, Jadeja has been cleared [to play] by the NCA [National Cricket Academy],” he said. “He has joined our team for practice. He is looking good. He is working hard. And we are hoping that he will be fully fit by the time the IPL starts.”

Viswanathan also said the Super Kings’ decision to pick Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara at the auction – his first IPL gig since 2014 – was partly down to wanting to “honour him” following his fine showing in Australia, but also because of his “calibre” as a batsman. The bid – at his base price of INR 50 lakh (USD 69,000 approx.) – drew attention given the tempo and style of his batting: his T20 strike rate stands at 109.35.

“We also wanted to honour him, that’s for sure. But at the same time, I can tell you one thing, a person of his calibre with such good technique, he can adapt to any format,” Viswanathan said. “That is our view. He can be a player who can contribute a lot to CSK. That’s what we felt and that is the reason why we picked him.

“He will certainly have a role to play, but I cannot say whether he will play the first game or the second game.”

The Super Kings’ top officials throwing their weight behind Dhoni is not new. Last year, N Srinivasan, the vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements, owners of the Super Kings, had also indicated that Dhoni would be retained at the next mega auction, at the time scheduled for the lead-up to the 2021 edition. As part of the fallout of the pandemic, that has now been postponed by a year, and it remains to be seen whether Srinivasan’s opinion stands then.



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Former India Women’s coach WV Raman alleges ‘smear campaign’ against him in email to Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid

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He says it will be “extremely disconcerting” if his candidature was rejected due to reasons other than “my incompetency as a coach”

India Women’s outgoing head coach WV Raman has alleged that a “smear campaign” against him has gained unwarranted traction and he has urged the BCCI president Sourav Ganguly to stop it. In an email that Raman also sent to the National Cricket Academy head Rahul Dravid, he wrote it will be “extremely disconcerting” if his candidature was rejected due to reasons other than “my incompetency as a coach”.

Raman was not retained as the head coach of the senior women’s team by the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) which picked Ramesh Powar for the job.

“I presume you might have been told different views about my style of functioning and work ethic,” Raman wrote. “Whether those views conveyed to the officials of the BCCI had any impact on my candidature is of no consequence now.



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Cameron Bancroft – ‘Self-explanatory’ that bowlers were aware of ball-tampering tactics in Newlands Test

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“All I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part”

Cameron Bancroft has conceded there had to be wider knowledge of Australia’s ball-tampering tactics against South Africa in the Newlands Test than the punished trio of himself, David Warner and Steven Smith.

Speaking to the Guardian interviewer Donald McRae in Durham where he is playing county cricket, Bancroft admitted under questioning that it was “self-explanatory” that bowlers in the Test team had to be aware the ball was being tampered with.

“Yeah, look, all I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part. Yeah, obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” Bancroft said. “I guess one thing I learnt through the journey and being responsible is that’s where the buck stops [with Bancroft himself]. Had I had better awareness I would have made a much better decision.”

When pressed further, he replied: “Uh… yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it’s pretty probably self-explanatory.”

While levying extremely heavy penalties on Bancroft, Warner and Smith for their roles in the ball-tampering, Cricket Australia ring-fenced the matter away from the rest of the team, although head coach Darren Lehmann resigned a few days later after seeing the tearful press conferences of the players upon their early returns to Australia.

The lengthy bans placed on Bancroft (nine months), Warner and Smith (one year each, with Warner banned from holding any leadership positions for life) have left plenty of questions unanswered, even though CA has in the past called for anyone with further evidence about the affair to come forward. Former chief executive Kevin Roberts had this to say in March 2019 about that prospect, while defending the initial investigation conducted by the former CA head of integrity, Iain Roy, between the Cape Town and Johannesburg Tests.

“If they’ve got any concerns about ball-tampering or any concerns about any integrity issue in the game, we’ve invited them to report that through our anonymous integrity hotline or through other means that are available to them,” Roberts had said. “We haven’t had any such reports, so we won’t jump at shadows, but if anyone does report concerns about any integrity matter prior to ball-tampering or whatever it may be, we’re serious about addressing that, and we have a process to address it.

“We’re really serious about addressing any unresolved issues and we’re sincere in the way we’re going about that. So if there are any reports or allegations as opposed to innuendo, then we will investigate that thoroughly.

“Certainly the investigation needed to be conducted swiftly, we needed to fulfil our commitment to field a team against South Africa the following week, and we didn’t know whether we’d need to fly 11 new players in to fill that team or no new players. The ultimate answer was somewhere in between. So the investigation was absolutely fit for purpose, but we haven’t rested on those laurels. We’ve made repeated and extensive invitations to anyone to report any integrity matters or concerns about ball-tampering ever since.”

Though Smith and Warner have returned to the team, Bancroft is now a long way from international consideration, having played the first two Test of the 2019 Ashes series before being discarded and then struggling to recreate his best days in the Sheffield Shield in 2019-20. He performed better last summer but is not considered to be in the front rank of contenders for a place in the national side.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig



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England head coach Chris Silverwood to take time off during Sri Lanka, Pakistan ODI series

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England head coach will hand over to assistants Thorpe and Collingwood during busy summer

Chris Silverwood will miss the ODI series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan as part of England’s rest-and-rotation policy.

Silverwood, the England coach, was one of few ever-presents on England’s tours of Sri Lanka and India and accepts he will find it hard to switch off. But he also acknowledged the need for fallow periods amid England’s relentlessly busy schedule and said that without such breaks, he “won’t be providing the level of service” players deserve.

England’s assistant coaches, Paul Collingwood and Graham Thorpe, will each take charge of an ODI series in his absence.

“It is important we keep our personnel as fresh as possible,” Silverwood said. “It’s not fair on the players if I am operating at less than 100 percent and it is not fair on myself either. I won’t be providing the level of service that I need.



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