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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Filthy FIFA! World Cup vote chiefs wanted bribes from FA, says ex-chairman Triesman

FIFA were accused of being rotten to the core as six members of their executive committee faced allegations of corruption in the House of Commons.
Former FA chairman Lord Triesman alleged that four of the ExCo members effectively wanted bribes for their World Cup votes for 2018, while the Select Committee investigating football governance named two more who had been paid by Qatar's winning 2022 bid.
Unpublished material provided to the MPs by The Sunday Times newspaper named Cameroon's Issa Hayatou and Ivory Coast's Jacques Anouma as having allegedly received $1.5million (£900,000) each to secure their votes for Qatar.
  • The Triesman files: The eight executive members of FIFA accused of corruption
Giving evidence: Former FA chairman Lord Triesman speaks at the House of Commons on Tuesday
Giving evidence: Former FA chairman Lord Triesman speaks at the House of Commons on Tuesday
As two ExCo members have already been suspended following earlier newspaper revelations, it means a third of world football's leading committee, who decided the venues for two successive World Cups in Zurich last December, are now under suspicion for alleged massive wrongdoing that would shame an already discredited organisation.
Tory MP Damian Collins said: 'The Sunday Times submission claims $1.5m was paid to FIFA  executive committee members Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma who went on to vote for Qatar.'
An alleged Qatar deal had also been struck with the third FIFA ExCo member from Africa, Nigeria's Amos Adamu, although he had already been banned from voting.
Triesman, who was making his second appearance before the inquiry specifically to lift the lid on the World Cup vote shenanigans, went into detail about his unacceptable dealings with a quartet of FIFA officials.


Kingmaker: FIFA vice-president Jack Warner (left) and executive committee member Jacques Anouma (right)
These were led by Trinidad's Jack Warner, the most vocal critic of England's campaign who had nevertheless pledged his support to Prince William in Zurich.
Triesman claimed Warner had told him and Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards in October 2009 that he wanted financial support from England to build an education centre in Trinidad that would cost around £2.5m. The funds would be channelled through him and he would guarantee they would be 'appropriately spent'. 
Another request from Warner came after the Haiti earthquake. He wanted £500,000 to buy TV rights so the country could watch the World Cup in South Africa.

He wanted a knighthood! Triesman has made allegations against Nicolas Leoz (left) and Worawi Makudi (right)
Paraguay's Nicolas Leoz, who had a breakfast meeting with Prince William in Zurich, wanted a gong rather than hard cash, according to Triesman. The Labour peer said Leoz had asked him to arrange a knighthood for him through Triesman's Foreign Office connections.
Brazil's Ricardo Teixeira met Triesman after his country had beaten England in a friendly in Qatar in November 2009. When Triesman told him he was looking forward to meeting Brazil's President Lula on his 2018 campaign travels, Teixeira is said to have replied: 'Lula is nothing, you come and tell me what you have for me.'
Triesman's final allegations of major FIFA misdemeanours were aimed at Thailand's Worawi Makudi, with whom the FA foolishly arranged a friendly international which was due to take place in Bangkok next month.

More allegations: FIFA executive committee members Ricardo Teixeira (left) and Issa Hayatou (right)
But the game was cancelled after the Zurich fiasco in which the only votes for England came from our own Geoff Thompson and African confederation president Hayatou, one of the six in the dock.
Triesman claimed that Makudi had asked for the UK TV rights for the proposed match to come his way. He added: 'These were some of the things that were put to me personally, which did not represent ethical behaviour.'
Asked why he did not report the incidents to FIFA, Triesman said he feared it would damage the England bid but admitted he should have done so in retrospect. And he will now take belated action, sending a transcript of his Select Committee appearance to FIFA as the first step.
I'll clean up FIFA! President Sepp Blatter promised to investigate Lord Triesman's claims
I'll clean up FIFA! President Sepp Blatter promised to investigate Lord Triesman's claims
FIFA overlord Sepp Blatter, who is seeking a fourth term as president in the elections on June 1, said: 'If this is true, I will fight this. I am fighting for FIFA to clean FIFA. I cannot answer for individual members of our committee. I cannot say if they are all angels or if they are all devils.'
Makudi was the first to refute Triesman's allegations, saying he was negotiating for the Thailand FA to get the rights money, not himself.
Warner predictably called the accusations against him a 'piece of nonsense' and said Triesman 'no doubt feels he can revive his dying political career by mentioning that piece of foolishness'.
Doomed: Lord Triesman (left) and Prince William were both involved in England's unsuccessful World Cup bid
Doomed: Lord Triesman (left) and Prince William were both involved in England's unsuccessful World Cup bid
Warner added: 'I've never asked Triesman nor any other person, Englishman or otherwise for any money for my vote at any time. Before (Triesman) was unceremoniously kicked out, I've spoken to him on his initiative on only three occasions, while not one of his colleagues will ever corroborate his bit of trivia. This is the last I intend to say on this matter.'
But Warner is sure to be among those under the spotlight again when the BBC's Panorama, whose documentary on the eve of the Zurich vote was said to have helped derail England's chances, broadcast a second programme about FIFA's alleged super-corrupt affairs. It is due to be broadcast on May 23. 
In a statement, Qatar 2022 dismissed the latest claims. It read: 'We categorically deny these allegations. We have nothing to hide and are prepared to support and cooperate with any further investigations and will be happy to counter any allegations from whistleblowers with real evidence.
'The Qatar 2022 bid team ran an historic campaign that changed football. We were beset by rumours and allegations from the outset. Bidding, like football, is a rough sport. Happily, our promise of bringing football to new lands and expanding its legacies across the developing world compelled FIFA.'


R-truth injures John Morrison – WWE Monday Night Raw Update

R-truth injures John Morrison – WWE Monday Night Raw Update
The World Wrestling Entertainment Raw superstar R-Truth injured John Morrison in Monday Night Raw event on May 9, in Knoxville, Tennessee.
R-Truth became the Number One contender for the WWE Championship on April 11. The Number One contender match was fought between five deserved superstars Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, John Cena, R-Truth and Morrison. R-Truth won the Number One contender match.
Cena also became the second contestant for the WWE Championship against The Miz in the same show. The rivalry between Morrison and R-Truth was started in the following Monday Night Raw on April 18. R-Truth was very excited on becoming the Number One contender of the WWE Championship. He appeared in Monday Night Raw to give his comments about the WWE Championship.
R-Truth said that he was very happy that he was in line for WWE title. Morrison came out and greeted R-Truth on his great accomplishment. Morrison said that he was not in a position to win the match. Actually everything was in the favour of him, as he was tired in the match just because of his smoking. That argument set one more Number One contender match between R-Truth and Morrison.
It was set that if R-Truth lost the match, he would be out from the WWE Championship and Morrison would get in. The match was finally taken by Morrison and he became the new contestant to fight against Cena and The Miz. On May 1 at Extreme Rules, R-truth interrupted in the Triple Threat match of The Miz, Cena and Morrison. He cost Morrison the WWE Championship.
On May 2, Morrison attacked R-Truth from behind and beat him down. Although the match was set between both, it ended with no contest. R-truth took pay-back in the following Monday Night Raw. He attacked Morrison and hit his submission “What’s Up” on Morrison. Referees came out and stopped R-Truth. While referees were taking Morrison towards the ramp, R-truth attacked again and hit his submission again. Referees stopped him and called the Emergency Medical Technicians to take Morrison to the hospital.

Stony Brook baseball winning while at home on road

NEW YORK (AP) - Stony Brook's baseball team has piled into buses and hit the road for home games all season.
It's certainly been a strange and successful year for the nomadic Seawolves (34-10), a resilient bunch while their ballpark received a facelift. Show 'em a field, and they'll play on it - and probably win, too.
"We really have been bouncing around, but we all take it in stride,'' sophomore infielder and reliever William Carmona said. "When it all comes down to it, though, it doesn't matter where we play.''
That's because the America East-leading Seawolves are on the verge of setting the school record for victories, just three from topping the 1999 team that won 36 games while still playing at the Division II level. Coach Matt Senk's squad has also thrown two no-hitters - the first in the program's history - and is tied for the Division I lead in fielding percentage.
"Not having a field obviously wasn't too pleasant, but we didn't think about it too much,'' junior right-hander Nick Tropeano said. "We all talked and said, 'Hey, it's baseball, so let's keep taking as many groundballs and flyballs as we can, no matter where it is.' Despite the adversity, we've overcome it.''
It appears the Seawolves can finally settle in at home now and leave the bus rides for actual road trips. Stony Brook practiced for the first time Tuesday on Joe Nathan Field, named for the former Seawolves shortstop and Minnesota Twins All-Star closer who donated $500,000 to the program.
"It's hard to get guys to go to that school,'' Nathan said before the Twins' game against the Detroit Tigers in Minnesota on Wednesday. "You bring them in and show them the (old) field and that's not going to be something that impresses them. So hopefully this field is something that helps a player's decision-making process to go there.''
The team expects to play there during its last regular-season series next weekend, and hopes to host the conference tournament if it maintains its hold on first place.
"It's definitely going to make an improvement,'' said Nathan, who gets regular updates on the team from athletic director Jim Fiore. "The players were pumped to get on it. Anytime you get a new toy, you're excited to play with it. Hopefully it brings excitement and only greater things to come.''
The team hoped the field, which has a FieldTurf surface, would be ready to start the season. But a lousy winter and spring in the Northeast delayed the completion and sent the Seawolves looking for alternative locations for home games. Practice was limited to the turf inside the school's new track and indoors on campus.
"We all made jokes about it and said it's called 'No Nathan Field,''' Carmona said with a laugh. "And then when we're on a bus, we're like, 'Oh, I guess we're playing at home today.'''
Despite all that, the Seawolves are 10-3 at "home'': 4-1 at Dowling College in Brookhaven, 3-0 at New York Tech in Old Westbury, 2-1 at the Baseball Heaven Sports Complex in Yaphank, and 1-1 at Adelphi in Garden City.
"I've never been around a more resilient group,'' said Senk, in his 21st season at Stony Brook. "Whether it was another snowstorm or another batch of bad weather, whatever has come this group's way, they haven't complained or moaned. It's just been, 'Tell us where we have to be, coach, and let's play.'''
The Seawolves, 15-2 in the America East and 2 1/2 games ahead of Binghamton, have been doing it with solid pitching, terrific defense and timely hitting.
"When we go out to the ballpark, we really expect to win,'' Carmona said. "We just don't expect to lose, ever.''
Tropeano heads the pitching staff, going 9-1 with a 1.36 ERA and four complete games. Last year's conference co-pitcher of the year, whom Senk calls the most competitive player he's coached, also combined with freshman Brandon McNitt (6-2, 1.55) on a no-hitter against Army in March. It came just over a week after freshman Frankie Vanderka tossed one against NJIT. McNitt also came within three outs of a seven-inning no-no last weekend.
"I never thought I'd be able to coach a team that had a no-hitter, and to have two happen within a five-game span was just incredible,'' Senk said. "The pitching showed early signs they were going to be very good.''
The offense has also done its part with Carmona (.370, five homers, 34 RBIs), center fielder Travis Jankowski (.373, 2, 33 and 29 stolen bases), second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum (.333, 2, 37) and third baseman Stephen Marino (.329, 5, 37). Stony Brook is ranked in the top 10 nationally with a .318 team batting average and is second with 122 doubles, led by Carmona's 25, which ties a school record.
Stony Brook has its sights on its third NCAA tournament appearance in four years. The Seawolves know they can win on the big stage, too, after upsetting North Carolina State in the regionals last year for their first NCAA tourney victory. And that, not to mention all those bus rides around Long Island, has made the Seawolves even hungrier.
"We are under the radar,'' Carmona said. "I mean, we're a small school from Long Island, we play in the Northeast, but when we go out on the road or go down South, everyone knows who Stony Brook is when we leave. They can call us underdogs or whatever, but I'll take this team any day against anybody.''

Basketball: Pistons thrash Sharks

Jason Crowe lit up the Hamilton Boys High School gym from outside the three-point arc while Alex Pledger was even more dominant inside as Waikato thrashed Southland 102-69 in a National Basketball League (NBL) match last night.
Crowe, the American point guard and a former NBL MVP, only had eyes for the big shots, landing seven from 14 three-point attempts in a 21-point haul and adding nine assists in a top drawer individual performance that was notable for another statistic - he did not attempt any shots from inside the arc during 33 minutes of court time.
New Zealand Breakers centre Pledger was arguably the man of the match, however, dominating inside and shooting at 83 per cent in a game-high 25 points.
Import Jerry Smith and Breaker Thomas Abercrombie also featured prominently as the Pistons notched their third win from six matches, which takes them into sole possession of third early into the fifth week of the season.
The hosts were all over Southland from the outset. They were hot with the ball in hand and pressured the Sharks on defence, causing the visitors to cough up the ball too often and making a habit of immediately punishing them.
Southland's shooting percentages were low and new signing, Breakers star Kevin Braswell, struggled on his debut for the franchise, making four shots from 16 from the field and totalling just nine points.

New coach Turgeon calls Maryland 'a special place'

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Before he accepted the offer to become Maryland basketball coach, Mark Turgeon needed to get the lowdown on the job from Gary Williams.
Williams held the post for 22 years before retiring, and Turgeon was poised to become his successor. Working at a school with a great basketball tradition was very appealing to Turgeon, who had spurned several other opportunities to move during his four years at Texas A&M.
After speaking at length with Williams on Sunday night, Turgeon knew it was time to leave College Station for College Park - even if it meant replacing an iconic coach.
"If I was apprehensive, I wouldn't be standing here,'' Turgeon said at his formal introduction Wednesday. "I had a great conversation with Gary, and he made me feel comfortable. I know Gary's not going to try to sabotage Maryland basketball.''
The comment drew a roar of laughter in a room filled with Maryland alumni, former players and booster club members.
Last month, former Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow said Williams "tried to sabotage'' her search for a new basketball coach at North Carolina State.
Current Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson was beaming about the results of his quick and efficient quest to replace Williams, who announced his retirement late last week.
"It's a great day to be a Terp,'' Anderson declared.
Turgeon, 46, compiled a 97-40 record at Texas A&M and took the team to the NCAA tournament in each of his four seasons at the school. He learned last Thursday that he might be a candidate for the Maryland job, but that didn't stop him from leaving on a camping trip Friday.
Turgeon couldn't get cell reception until Sunday, and that's when Anderson called to set up a meeting in a Pittsburgh hotel. With Anderson in jeans and a scruffy Turgeon wearing a Kansas City Chiefs shirt over his Texas A&M shirt, the two talked about the future of the basketball program.
"When he left the meeting, I knew it was my job to take or leave,'' Turgeon said.
It was too good to turn down. Less than 24 hours, Turgeon became part of a group that includes such names as Lefty Driesell, Len Elmore, Tom McMillen, John Lucas, Walt Williams, and, of course, Gary Williams.
"I've followed Maryland basketball. The reason I'm here is because of its great tradition and all the things this basketball program accomplished over the years,'' Turgeon said. "It was going to take a great job for me to move. I've turned down a lot of jobs over the last four years. It was going to take a special one for me to move my family, and Maryland is a special place. That's why I'm here.''
Turgeon has been associated with successful programs since his playing days at Kansas. He won as an assistant at Kansas under Larry Brown and Roy Williams, then experienced success at Jacksonville State, Wichita State and Texas A&M.
He expects more of the same at Maryland.
"My style of play is winning,'' Turgeon said.
After turning down so many other jobs, why Maryland?
"This is a basketball school. That's first and foremost,'' his wife, Ann Turgeon said, said. "We've been in great areas, we have a great group of kids we left behind at Texas A&M, and a phenomenal university. But he was really attracted to the idea of being at a basketball-minded school.''
Exactly.
"This is a school that loves basketball. They value their basketball,'' Mark Turgeon said. "I was lucky enough to play at the University of Kansas, and they were the same way. I'm glad to be a part of something like that. We're going to do some great things here.''
Anderson had a few other coaches on his search list, but it was evident Wednesday that he had absolutely no doubt he ended up with the perfect replacement for Williams.
"He's a great man, a great leader, and he wants everything that we stand for,'' Anderson said of Turgeon. "He wants our young people to be successful in the classroom, he wants them to be good leaders in the community, and they're going to be good basketball players. We're going to compete at the highest level for championships, there is no question about that.''
Turgeon made it clear that he would welcome, rather than shun, any comparison to his predecessor.
"Gary Williams was Maryland basketball for the last 22 years,'' Turgeon said. "He did it with class, he did it with dignity, he did it the right way. I'd like to think I have a lot of the same qualities that Gary has. So it should be an easy transition for the fans and the players as we go forward.''

Injured Del Potro still hopes to make French Open

(Routers) - Former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro said on Wednesday he remained hopeful of playing the French Open starting in 11 days' time.
The Argentine suffered a setback in his comeback season, having missed almost all of last year following wrist surgery, when he tore a hip muscle at the Madrid Masters last week.
"I'm not certain to be in Paris. I'll have tests in the first days of next week to see if I can play five sets on clay," Del Potro told a news conference.
He said he did not, however, want to rush into the tournament at Roland Garros if he was not fit, saying: "I'll respect the recovery time, what the doctors say.
"If I'm fit I'll be there," said the 22-year-old former world number four, who won his first grand slam title at the U.S, Open in 2009.
Del Potro, who sunk to a ranking of close to 500 during his rehabilitation from the operation on his right wrist, said he was not concerned about reaching a particular ranking this year.
Ranked 31 since his victory at Estoril on May 1, his ninth title and first tournament on clay since his return to the circuit, he said he wanted to get back to his former level competing on equal terms with his former peers in the top 10.
"I had one of the highest protected rankings in history," Del Potro, who pulled out before a Madrid quarter-final against Nadal, said.
This opened doors for the Argentine at tournaments but meant he could meet leading players in early rounds.
"I know I may get those matches but further ahead I hope to avoid those super players. Today, my objective is not my (ranking) position but to fully recover my level ... not forget the good things I did and add to them new things I learn.
"I'm the third player after (Novak) Djokovic and (Rafael) Nadal in the number of matches played this year. Apart from this muscle tear, I was able to play all the tournaments I had programed," Del Potro added.
He said he saw no reason to change his plans for the rest of 2011 having started the season with the goal of "playing all year without suffering injuries or setbacks with my wrist."
Compatriot David Nalbandian will definitely miss the French Open due to a lack of fitness after surgery on a groin injury. He said on Tuesday he would return at Queen's.

PCB still undecided on Afridi's future as skipper

Lahore: The Pakistan Cricket Board is yet to take a call on Shahid Afridi's future as captain of the national team.

The PCB has show caused Afridi seeking an explanation for making his views public regarding his differences with chief coach Waqar Younis on the composition of the team during the recently concluded ODI series in the Caribbean.

Official sources in the PCB said that the flamboyant all-rounder would find it difficult to win back the confidence of board chairman Ijaz Butt.

"Afridi is expected to send his reply to our notice today and so far no decision has been taken on his future as captain," the source said.

"Ijaz Butt was not happy with Afridi's attitude and keenness to go public with team issues even before the World Cup. That was one reason why the board took so long to name the captain for the World Cup.

"Even than the board had warned Afridi to avoid giving too many statements in the media and not to discuss team issues. In fact during a meeting, the PCB Chairman had told Afridi to be careful in future. The delay in announcing the captain for the World Cup was to give a clear message to Afridi that he was not indispensable," the source added.

Afridi had criticised Younis for interfering in team selection during the 3-2 one-day series win over the West Indies.

"Waqar interferes with the team selection and everyone should do his job," Afridi said on his return from the West Indies on Sunday.

Television channels and newspapers have reported in the last 24 hours that the board has decided to sack Afridi as captain and he might not be in the squad that will play two one-day matches against Ireland later this month.

Afridi himself has now tried to downplay reports of a rift within the team management involving him and coach Waqar.

The all-rounder, in a damage control step yesterday, said he had spoken in general terms about job descriptions in the team and had not named Waqar Younis at all.

Afridi also added that he would respond to the board's notice today and try to meet with the chairman of the board in Lahore to convey his point of view to him.

The source said while there were no immediate plans to remove Afridi as captain, the board was planning to send players currently playing in the Tests against the West Indies to Ireland for the two-match ODI series on May 28 and 29th.

"In that case, there is every possibility that Misbah-ul-Haq will be asked to lead the team," the source said.

ICC pondered 'stings' to catch fixers

LONDON — International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat has considered the use of 'sting' operations to trap players prepared to fix matches.
The South African administrator said the use of a "mystery shopper" could help weed out possible fixers as the global governing body tries to eradicate corruption from top-flight international cricket.
"I thought when this issue came up last year that perhaps we could have a 'mystery shopper'," Lorgat told the BBC's Hardtalk programme.
"In other words, some people posing as bookmakers approach players and see if those players report along with our codes of conduct."
However, Lorgat admitted the proposal had met with strong resistance.
"We would have to get the players' federations consenting to it and they of course opposed it and were not happy, they considered it a form of entrapment," he said.
Another plan would give the ICC access to players' bank accounts and assets so that they could be monitored, but Lorgat conceded that had less chance of being enacted than his 'sting' scheme.
"It is a bit more complex than that, there are human rights issues and legalities to understand properly," he said.
Three memmbers of the Pakistan team - former Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer - were all bannned by the ICC for a minimum of five years each for their involvement in a spot-fixing scam during last year's tour of England.
The trio now face criminal prosecution in England.
But the scandal, which involved the bowling of deliberate no-balls during the Lord's Test, only came to light as a result of a 'sting' operation carried out by Britain's News of the World tabloid.
Many pundits said the fact it took a newspaper, rather than the ICC's own anti-corruption and security unit, to expose the affair was an embarrassment for the global governing body.
That was a point the ICC denied at the time but Lorgat told the BBC: "We are doing a review of our whole process and all of our systems right now.
"We have engaged an independent firm to conduct that review and I'm hopeful that some constructive recommendations will come up that will enhance or improve the way we are currently tackling the issue."

IPL: not a real training ground

Why the Indian Premier League showcases cricketing talent but may not be the place to find stars who will ace all formats of the game

Does the Indian Premier League (IPL) really throw up fresh talent and can the money-spinning Twenty20 tournament be a launch pad for international cricket? The chairman of selectors, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, believes so. During a match recently, he said on television that the selectors watch every match to scout for potential.
Paul Valthaty: Can he carry his IPL form to One Day Internationals? AP
Paul Valthaty: Can he carry his IPL form to One Day Internationals? AP
Paul Valthaty’s rise to prominence in the ongoing fourth edition has helped buttress this argument ahead of Friday’s team selection for the One Day series in the West Indies starting next month. The 27-year-old opener is being hailed as the new find, at least in the shortest format of the game, after a string of spectacular knocks for Kings XI Punjab. The cricketer from Mumbai is yet to earn his first-class stripes.An eye injury during the 2002 under-19 World Cup in New Zealand almost ended Valthaty’s cricket dreams. He played in just one first-class One Day match in 2006 and there was a lull before Rajasthan Royals threw him a lifeline in the 2009 IPL season in the domestic player category, paving the way for his entry into the Mumbai T20 team. A few powerful performances for Mumbai in the domestic T20 competition won him a contract with Kings XI this season: He’s made a mark with a century against Chennai Super Kings, and followed it up with a sparkling 75 against Deccan Chargers.
If Valthaty keeps up his form, will it open the doors to international cricket?
The answer is both yes and no. It is true that the IPL is an international stage that enables greater exposure. But the format is low in significance outside the biennial T20 World Cup and there are doubts about whether those who’ve gained their stripes in Twenty20 have the basic skills and temperament to make the big jump to One Day International (ODI) and Test cricket. The likes of Valthaty may have to prove they can indeed do it.
For while Twenty20 cricket is gaining popularity, thanks largely to global interest in the multimillion-dollar IPL, its significance is limited. In a move to help each of the three formats retain their importance and identity, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has restricted the number of T20 internationals to be played by a country in a season to a maximum of seven matches, with no more than two in any bilateral series. So countries are yet to send T20 specialists on tours, as is the case in Test and ODI cricket.
Experienced ODI campaigners just need to make minor adjustments to adapt to the demands of the T20 game; it’s not so for those raised on Twenty20 cricket.
David Warner: Aconsistent T20 player who failed in ODIs. PTI
David Warner: Aconsistent T20 player who failed in ODIs. PTI
David Warner is a case in point. The aggressive opener bought by Delhi Daredevils for $750,000 (Rs. 3.35 crore) is a regular in the Australian Twenty20 scheme of things. His ODI career, however, kicked off in January 2009 and his last match was in August the same year.Contrast this with Test batsmen Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. The current IPL season has seen Dravid pull his weight for Rajasthan Royals at the top of the order and Tendulkar, who once famously said T20 is for youngsters, crack a remarkable century for Mumbai Indians and be among the top run scorers in the competition.
“It has to do with basics,” says former national selector Kiran More. “Players raised on the three-day, four-day or five-day formats have strong basics and hence can adapt to any format of the game. Those brought up on T20 and 50-over games don’t have sound basics and so find it difficult to make the transition to the longer formats of the game as it requires more skills,” the former Indian stumper adds.
History is replete with instances of players branded as Test batsmen excelling equally in ODIs, although there are far fewer cases of ODI specialists making a mark in the purest form of the game. So how much can T20—and the IPL—really promote young talent and hone skills?
Test cricket gives bowlers and batsmen equal opportunity to showcase their skills. ODIs, despite the growing trend of flatbed pitches, allow a batsman to build an innings and a bowler enough opportunities to have a go at the batsman. In T20, the bowlers get just four overs each, the primary intention being to contain runs, not take wickets.
“There is great exposure for the younger lot to play on an international stage,” argues Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming. “For some of these players who get selected, this is the first time they have got such an opportunity. Since it’s an international stage, they get noticed,” the former New Zealand skipper adds.
“Our game against Kings XI Punjab was a perfect example, where the young lad got a hundred. It was a life-changing experience for him. That’s what the IPL is all about,” he says, referring to Valthaty.
Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer, however, says Valthaty will need to show consistency to earn a Ranji Trophy call-up. “This performance (in the IPL) will help him,” former India opener Jaffer says. “He has made those runs against quality bowling and I’m sure the selectors will keep that in mind. However, you can’t judge someone for first-class cricket based on performance in Twenty20 games.
“It’s a different format. He has to do well in tournaments like the Times Shield (a local competition in Mumbai) and prove himself. He has always played the odd remarkable innings in the Times Shield, but then would have a lean run. He was inconsistent. However, with age people do mature, and he has become better.”
The “one-season wonder” syndrome seen in each of the previous three IPL seasons is a worrying aspect for players such as Valthaty.
Goa boy Swapnil Asnodkar was the toast of the first season with his attacking batting for Rajasthan Royals. Likewise, medium-pacer Manpreet Singh Gony forced his way into the Indian One Day team for two matches based on his strong performance in the 2008 IPL for Chennai Super Kings. Both were unable to sustain their form and fell off the radar.
At the other end of the spectrum, the IPL has also been a platform for experienced campaigners to display their adaptability. Subramaniam Badrinath, whose batting approach is generally assumed to be suited to four- and five-day cricket, has reinvented himself as a finisher for defending champions Chennai Super Kings (294 runs at an average of 98, strike rate 135).
Mumbai Indians’ Ambati Rayudu, spoken of highly since his junior cricket days, has shown that he is a player with the ability to adapt to fast-changing situations (349 runs at an average of 39, strike rate 119.5 in this IPL).
Ultimately, it is for the selectors to see beyond the slam-bang and identify talent that may endure across formats and seasons.
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