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UAE’s Qadeer Ahmed handed five-year ban for corruption

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Qadeer Ahmed, the UAE medium pacer, has been banned for five years by the ICC for committing six breaches of the governing body’s anti-corruption code. Ahmed’s ban will be backdated to October 16, 2019, when he was provisionally suspended by the ICC along with his colleagues Mohammad Naveed and Shaiman Anwar, both of whom have since been handed eight-year bans.

The ICC anti-corruption unit found 35-year-old Ahmed, who played 11 ODIs and ten T20Is between 2015 and 2019, guilty on counts that included failing to disclose approaches during two bilateral series the UAE played away in 2019. The first was in Zimbabwe in April, where Ahmed was offered AED 60,000-70,000 (US$ 16,000 to 19,000 approx) by the corruptors. Then, in August in Netherlands, Ahmed was again found to be in contact with corruptors, and the ACU subsequently suspended him just at the start of the 2019 World Cup qualifiers, held in Zimbabwe in October-November.

The ICC said in a media statement on Wednesday that Ahmed had failed to disclose details of the approaches from corruptors, or that he provided inside information in August 2019 to a person, who had played with club cricket with him in the UAE.



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Hanuma Vihari’s network of volunteers helps out during ‘unthinkable’ Covid-19 crisis

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Vihari has used his Twitter handle to amplify appeals apart from creating a network of volunteers to help people

For India batter Hanuma Vihari, the biggest satisfaction these days comes from being able to arrange a hospital bed or an oxygen cylinder for Covid-19 patients through his network of friends.

While a number of premier Indian cricketers have helped out in various ways, Vihari, while playing for Warwickshire, created a team of around 100 volunteers – comprising friends and followers from across Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka – who have reached people with plasma and oxygen cylinders, while also arranging food and hospital beds for patients.

“I don’t want to glorify myself – I am doing it with the intention of helping people at the ground level, who actually need every help possible in these difficult times. It is just the start,” Vihari was quoted as saying by PTI.

Vihari left for England in early April to play in the County Championship, and is expected to join the India team directly in the UK when they reach on June 3 for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand (followed by a Test series against England).

“Yes, I am a cricketer, well known but I am able to help because of their untiring efforts to reach the distressed. Even my wife, sister and few of my Andhra team-mates are part of my volunteer team.”

Hanuma Vihari

“With the second wave being so strong, getting a bed became a difficulty and that is something which is unthinkable,” he said. “So, I decided to use my followers as my volunteers and help as many people as I can. My goal is to actually mainly reach out to those people who are not able to afford or arrange for plasma, beds and essential medicine. But this is not enough. I would like to do more service in the future.”

When the distress calls and messages for help started pouring in, Vihari wanted to create a network of help-givers and he found that support from common people, his own family members and Andhra team-mates like Prithviraj Yarra.

“I have around 100 people on a WhatsApp group as volunteers and it’s their hard work that we have been able to help a few people,” he explained. “Yes, I am a cricketer, well known but I am able to help because of their untiring efforts to reach the distressed. Even my wife, sister and few of my Andhra team-mates are part of my volunteer team. It’s so heartening to see their support.”



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County Championship 2021 – Tom Westley seeks uplift after ‘strange’ start to Essex’s twin title defence

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Halfway through the group stage of the Championship, and Essex have got it all to do. The defending champions are currently fifth in Group One – albeit only 15 points off a top-two spot – and in need of a run of good form in order to make sure of qualifying for Division One when the competition splits. If Tom Westley, Essex’s captain, had been hoping a return to Chelmsford would spark an uplift after two defeats and a draw on the road, then a washed-out first day against Derbyshire only served to dampen the mood.

Westley admits it has been a “strange start” to the season. Having scored 490 for 9 declared in their opening game, only to be held to a draw by Worcestershire, Essex then recovered from being skittled for 96 by Durham to defend their manor in the manner to which most observers have become accustomed – scrapping hard in the second innings to post a target of 168, and then defending it ruthlessly on the back of another Simon Harmer ten-for.

But defeats at Edgbaston, by seven wickets, and Trent Bridge, by an innings, either side of another stalemate away to Worcestershire have left Westley puzzling over how to get what he views as “the best team in the country” playing like they can.

“Things definitely could be going a bit better,” he tells ESPNcricinfo. “It’s been quite challenging, a bit disappointing for the standards that we set at Essex. We’re used to winning lots of games of cricket, which hasn’t been the case this year. Halfway through, still a lot of games to be played and the group is tight – if you win a couple of games all of a sudden you’re right back up there.

“It’s been quite strange, in that we’ve been bowled out for less than 100 twice, and we’ve also got 500 twice. We haven’t been able to piece the whole game together with bat and ball. Certain games we’ve batted really well and bowled not as well, and in other games we’ve bowled well and not batted well. Which is the crux of cricket, I suppose.

“It’s immensely frustrating not being able to piece it together. It’s been a reminder of how hard four-day cricket is, especially when the some of the surfaces have been either way – very flat or [doing a bit]. It’s a strange start for us.”



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