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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

SPORTS CHART OF THE DAY: Astros And Indians Commit More Than 25% Of Payroll To One Player

We are often critical of the Yankees and Red Sox for spending exorbitant amounts of money on lots of players. But at least those teams typically spreads the wealth around.
The worst thing a team can do in terms of payroll, is to spend too much money on one player and leaving the team with little flexibility for the rest of the roster.
Neil Paine of Baseball-Reference.com took a look at which players make up the highest percentage of their team's payroll. Below are the single-highest paid players on each team and what percentage of the payroll they are responsible for.
Number above each bar represents that team's opening day payroll...

Mobile Payments — Coming Soon to a Sports Venue Near You

Indeed, 2011 may well be the year of the mobile payment, what with the rise of Square, the pocket-sized credit card reader that plugs into your phone’s audio jack and the impending release of the much talked about Google Wallet.
In the sports industry, cash and credit cards have long been welcome at sports venues across the globe. Yet with the rise of smartphones and apps like Foursquare and Groupon, more and more fans are likely to use their mobile device while attending a sporting event.
The sports industry is not new to using technology in innovating ways at sporting events. The Seattle Mariners have long been one of the most technologically friendly franchises in pro sports. Since 2007, the Mariners have allowed fans to rent or use their own Nintendo DS systems to look up player stats or order food from the seats at Safeco Field. As smartphones have grown, so too have their usefulness at sporting events. Now fans of teams everywhere can check in on Foursquare or “tweet their seats” to win prizes during games. Paying for items may not be far behind.
PayPal President Scott Thompson predicts that consumers will no longer need to carry wallets by 2015–all payments will be mobile. “We believe that by 2015 digital currency will be accepted everywhere in the U.S. -– from your local corner store to Walmart. We will no longer need to carry a wallet,” Thompson wrote in a blog post announcing PayPal’s 100 millionth account in June.
The transition to mobile payments in the sports industry may happen even earlier. Earlier this year, Stephen Bates, the UK managing director of RIM, BlackBerry’s parent company, announced that his company aims to have a mobile payment system in place in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. “We think [contactless payments] is the right direction for the future…the drive to have a contactless Olympics is quite strong and we are very excited about its potential” Bates told MarketingWeek.com in February.
In the same MarketingWeek blog post, Gerry McQuade, Chief Development Operator of UK mobile provider Everything Everywhere, explains why mobile payments are such an important goal for his company. “This is the beginning of a revolution in how we pay for things. It is a cultural shift that is an important as the launch of the personal credit card or ATMs.”
While it remains to be seen if McQuade’s prediction comes true, what is certain is that fans will have a new way to buy tickets and merchandise with their smartphones. The technology is coming–and soon.
Author: Brendan Wilhide is a co-author of the forthcoming textbook on social media, “Sports Marketing in Social Media,” due to be released next year. He is a freelance social media consultant, the founder of Sportsin140.com and a contributing writer for Macworld.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @BrendanWilhide

Sports Minister Urges Tottenham To Drop Olympic Stadium Legal Dispute

White Hart Lane club blocking World Championships bid.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson insists Tottenham’s legal dispute over the Olympic Stadium is harming the UKs chances of staging the 2017 World Athletics Championship.
The Athletics community are hoping to stage the event at the stadium but the uncertainty over its future means any bid for the tournament will be ruined.
The IAAF have set a deadline of September 1 and if Spurs’ legal action for a judicial review of the decision to award West Ham the stadium is still continuing, the bid will have to be withdrawn.
The Qatar capital of Doha is favourite to win the 2017 event with Budapest and an as yet unnamed Spanish city also competing.
The MP says there would be little chance of success if there was not certainty over the stadium.
Tottenham’s defeated bid for the stadium included removing the athletics track so it could be in their interest to string out their legal action, but Robertson hopes the club will not do so.
“We are caught between the court timetables and the IAAF timetable. We need to confirm a bid by September 1.
“The key thing is if we can get Tottenham’s and Leyton Orient’s appeal through the High Court and, I would say, dismissed. We’re in the queue and we don’t have a date.
“If the High Court is not settled we don’t have a secure venue. That would make it very difficult to bid.
“I would hope Tottenham would see the greater good to London, maybe it’s a fond hope,” he added.
“The initial economic planning tells us it will be a £100million boost from hosting a World Athletics Championship.
“I hope anyone involved in sport would see the greater good in that and would recognise whatever their feelings about the stadium process, they would see the greatest good.”

Maria Sharapova confirms entry into 2012 Brisbane International Tournament – Tennis News


  • Maria Sharapova confirms entry into 2012 Brisbane International Tournament – Tennis News
Maria Sharapova confirms entry into 2012 Brisbane International Tournament – Tennis News
Russian, Maria Sharapova has confirmed her entry into the season opening, 2012 Brisbane International played at the Queensland Tennis Centre. The event, jointly organized by the Association Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour and by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) World Tour, is a warm up event for the first Grand Slam tournament of the season, The Australian Open.
Currently world number 5 since two consecutive years-2010 and 2011, Sharapova announced that she was looking forward to starting her next season in Brisbane and was excited about the championships thus confirming her entry. This year she played three Grand Slams and was a Wimbledon finalist 2011, although she didn’t win the match she was all about spirit and motivation.
Sharapova’s last run on tour was at Wimbledon on the 2nd of July this year against then world number 8 and now world number 7, Petra Kvitova. Sharapova, had not dropped a single set during the tournament and pushed it out on the outdoor grass court in the finals, however, lost the match 3–6, 4–6 straight two sets. With this result she has been able to maintain her position as world number 5, which is the highest she has ever reached since she came back from her shoulder injury in 2008.
2011 saw her first official Australian Open warm-up which was held at the 2011 ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. The number one seed there won two rounds but lost in the third to the Hungarian Greta Arn 2-6, 3-6 losing two straight sets. Later during the year she changed coaches and participated in the first Grand Slam of the season, where she was seeded number 14; she qualified the first three rounds and lost the fourth to Andrea Petkovic due to inconsistency.  During the French Open earlier this year she managed to reach the semi-final as the number seven seed, before losing to Li Na 4–6, 5–7 and ending her clay season with 12 wins and only 2 losses. Sharapova, is yet to play at the US Open in September this year.
Tournament Director Cameron Pearson was excited about the news for the combined ATP-WTA event and was awaiting the tournament in Brisbane 2012. While looking forward to top players at the event Pearson said, “The reality is we can now look forward to seeing even more of the world’s top women players join the world’s best men competing here in Brisbane”
Started in 1970’s it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the tournament started as a regular run; a major event of the Grand Prix Tennis Circuit until 1990. In 1997 the WTA created a new event played on outdoor hard-courts, adding to the three pre-existing tournaments of Auckland, Sydney and Hobart, making it one of the two events held in the first week of the women's calendar. In 1998 the Gold Coast Classic became Thalgo Australian Women's Hard-courts which later in 2003 was again renamed to Uncle Tobys Hard-courts and finally in 2006 Adelaide International and the Mondial Australian Women's Hard-courts merged into a larger ATP-WTA joint tournament in Brisbane. This year in May the WTA-ATP announced yet another upgrade, to a Premier event which meant more prize money and unlimited participation by the world’s top 10 tennis players.

BYU ushers in new ESPN, independent era

Provo • Touting their eight-year agreement with television sports giant ESPN and their broadcasting capabilities through their own network, BYUtv, BYU athletics officials opened their football media day Tuesday by proclaiming the move to independence was not only the right thing to do, but the most prudent.

"I am completely happy here," he said.
Mendenhall also said he will continue to coach the defense, having installed himself as defensive coordinator midway through the 2010 season after the dismissal of Jaime Hill.
In the opening session, televised nationally by BYUtv, ESPN’s Dave Brown, vice president of programming, called ESPN’s relationship with BYU "a great moment for us" and said that at least eight BYU football games this season will be televised by an ESPN platform.
"We are excited ... to get Cougar football in front of as many fans as we can," he said.
Mendenhall called scheduling, especially finding "late-season balance," the Cougars’ biggest challenge now that they don’t belong to a conference. He said he’s been involved in scheduling more in the last three months that he was in his first six years.
Big name schools "are taking our calls," Holmoe said. "They are listening right now, but we have to be persuasive."
Mendenhall said there had to be a reason that ESPN wanted to partner with BYU, and that reason is the school is a national brand with a national following.
"Our job is to make sure we uphold our end of the bargain," he said.

Highs and lows of Fabio Cannavaro

Cannavaro's failure to call it a day at his peak takes nothing away from his status as a legend of the modern game who was perhaps denied his due

Fabio Cannavaro
  • Image Credit: AP
  • Fabio Cannavaro
Dubai: Much like his last season playing for Al Ahli, Fabio Cannavaro's retirement last Saturday passed relatively unnoticed. But here Gulf News takes a deserved look back at the highs and lows in the career of arguably the world's greatest defender of all-time.
As pinnacles go, that 2006 World Cup penalty shoot-out win over bitter rivals France not only granted Italy their fourth trophy but topped off a spectacular year for Cannavaro who picked up the World and European Player of the Year awards (the first time a defender had ever done).
He was also ruled Serie A footballer, Italian footballer and Serie A defender of the year. On top of this his name appeared in both European and World X1 dream teams for 2006.
All this success had culminated from many years of hard-work and consistency for Cannavaro at his clubs and country, in a career that took him full circle from cleaning Maradona's boots at Napoli to lifting the same trophy Diego did 20 years on.
Most-capped record
Having won the U21 European Championship in 1994 and 1996 it was certain Italy had a team for the future, but Cannavaro's personal involvement in that fact was only enhanced with a coming of age treble in 1999 at Parma winning the Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana and the Uefa Cup. He would go on to win the Coppa Italia again in 2002.
A post World Cup winning wind-down would see him win back-to-back La Liga titles at Real Madrid (2007, 2008) and the Supercopa de Espana in 2008, as his tenure saw him start and leave Real between two Galactico eras. In 2009 he surpassed Paulo Maldini as Italy's most-capped performer (136) a title he still holds.
That same World Cup win ended a bittersweet year in Italian football, which had been rocked with revelations of a referee-rigging scandal. The main culprits were Cannavaro's Juventus. The club and thus Cannavaro were stripped of their 2005 and 2006 Serie A winning titles, fined, relegated and ruled out of European tournaments for a season.
The pain
Beating the French on penalties in 2006 did much to deter from this gloom but it was also significant coming off the back of Euro 2000, where Cannavaro's Italy were rumbled by a cruel last-minute equaliser and a golden goal from Trezeguet. This agony arguably gave Italy the determination to sink France on football's biggest platform six years on.
Cannavaro followed Capello to Madrid after the World Cup and Juve scandal but received the ire of Italian football fans who had deemed him a deserter in their hour of need, albeit a deserter who had just won them football's ultimate prize.
With the league titles revoked, it means Cannavaro ended his career having technically never won the league in his native Italy. Two drug scandals also shook Cannavaro in 1999 and 2009, the first after a video was leaked from the night before the Uefa Cup of the star injecting himself with Neoton and the second occurred when banned substance cortisone was detected. Both cases were quickly dropped.
What will ultimately overshadow Cannavaro's excellence however was his inability to call it a day earlier.
Crashing out of the World Cup 2010 group stages drawing with Paraguay and New Zealand and losing to Slovakia certainly dented his pride from four years earlier. Also being rated one of the worst performers for Juventus in the previous season and then joining Al Ahli and finishing in the same league position as they had the year before (eighth), didn't help matters.
Retiring a year ahead of contract and being linked with a move to Swindon or QPR, before doctors ruled his knee-injury career-ending, wasn't quite how his swansong was meant to be sounded out.

NCAA Football 12 Dynasty Mode and Road to Glory Impressions

Day One: Gameplay and Presentation Impressions
One aspect of NCAA Football 11 that had the community in an uproar during the weeks following the game's release was the progression issue that found its way into Dynasty mode pre-patch. For those of you unfamiliar with the issue, after multiple years the dynasty recruits, specifically kickers, would enter the game with extremely low ratings. The result was a sharp decay of a team's overall ratings as the years progressed, as well as CPU kickers that struggled to hit extra points and short field goals. Many rejoiced when the eventual patch was released in August to fix this issue while also adding season player progression. However, others were left disappointed after the patch, claiming recruits still never seemed to blossom to their full potential, and lower-tiered teams would fade into obscurity because they could not recruit top talent.

I spent the better part of two days dissecting Dynasty mode progression this year, not stopping until the simulations reached the year 2025. Well, what a difference a year makes. But before I dive into everything related to NCAA 12's "career" modes, I first want to briefly touch on the game's incredibly deep custom playbook feature. EA has given would-be coaches the ability to create up to 30 playbooks that can be packed with up to 377 total plays. This customization is incredibly deep, especially considering these playbooks can be used in Dynasty mode and online, allowing you to carve out an offensive or defensive identity. This is especially important considering this year's game contains the long-anticipated Coaching Carousel.
Dynasty Mode

Coaching Carousel

The Coaching Carousel takes Dynasty mode in NCAA 12 to another level. Asked for by the community for years, this addition to NCAA's most-played game mode is enough to justify a purchase for hardcore college football fans. As many of you already know, when you first begin your dynasty, you will either create a coach (via some extremely limited creation tools), or assume the role of an existing coach in the game. You are then given the choice to take the reigns as an offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator or become the head coach of a specific program. You are then able to import a custom playbook, which is a great touch when creating a coach from scratch.

The final step in shaping your destiny is deciding what coaching prestige you would like to start at, anywhere between one and five stars. The prestige level you choose will determine the initial teams lining up to offer you a job, so don't expect to step into the head coaching role at Alabama if you decide to create a one-star coach. While many will disagree, I do like the freedom of choosing your own destiny by setting your starting prestige level. This system allows those who want the challenge of taking over a three-star school like Central Michigan to experience the rigors and challenges of advancing up the coaching ranks without being stuck rebuilding a one-star school like Eastern Michigan. In essence, the ability to choose remedies one of my biggest complaints with coaching carousels in other collegiate games. It is an awful feeling when you get stuck with a garbage team you have no interest in, grinding out games until you get the opportunity to leave.

The coaching position you decide to accept will determine how much of the actual on-field gameplay you will be charged with running. Offensive coordinators will only play offensive downs, defensive coordinators deal with defensive downs, and head coaches handle both sides of the ball. If you are not controlling offense or defense, you can either Super Sim or watch from the game's press box view.

Your coach will then be evaluated after each game, and each season, based on a list of goals set by your school's athletic director. These goals range from beating rivals to throwing or rushing for a certain number of touchdowns in a season, all weighted differently should you succeed or fail these goals. The more prestigious jobs come with higher expectations, and a job security meter has been implemented into a separate menu screen in Dynasty mode. From this hub, you can constantly check in to see how your coach is doing, and you can also spy on other coaches throughout the NCAA that may be on the hot seat. This is a great tool should you be hoping a certain job becomes available at year’s end, but make sure you are meeting your goals and keeping your AD happy, or you will find yourself unemployed -- a truth I found out the hard way after becoming the head coach of Wyoming and losing every game to my rivals and top-25 teams by 20-plus points.

At the end of each year, you will be taken to the Coaching Carousel screen, implemented as the last item of business to attend to before beginning a new season. From this screen, you will see every coaching vacancy in college football, whether it is a coach’s contract expiring, a coach outright being fired, or a job opening becoming available because another coach left for a better position. To be perfectly honest, when the Carousel was first announced, I was worried about the hiring/firing logic, specifically that too many coaches would be fired on a yearly basis regardless of their overall coaching rating. I'm very relieved to say that the Coaching Carousel logic is top notch, and you can tell that EA developers did their due diligence to polish this feature.

For starters, you will see firings that make sense: 6-6 is not going to cut it at Florida State two years in a row, time to bring in Connecticut's offensive coordinator who led the Huskies to a 10-2 record and an Orange Bowl victory. CPU teams tend to consider candidates that run similar styles of offense and defense, but don't be surprised to see teams completely change things up. In my simulation, Wake Forest went to a full-on Georgia Tech option attack by year five after hiring an offensive coordinator from Navy. The best part of the Carousel is that after a certain number of years you start recognizing the coach names, so you either get to watch the mighty fall or witness young obscure upstarts rise to the upper echelon of the coaching ranks.

Jobs offered to user coaches make just as much sense as those offered to the computer, and there is a certain sense of addiction to the mode that I have not felt in years because there is always the thought of where you might get an offer from next year. After starting as a one-star, spread-happy offensive coordinator at Eastern Michigan, I was offered the offensive-coordinator position at Hawaii after two years with the Eagles. While at Eastern, our team struggled to win four games each year, but my offense was dynamic enough that the Warriors took a chance on me once their OC left for a head-coaching job at Bowling Green. After my offensive schemes at Hawaii led the squad to a 10-2 season, I decided to leave the Warriors to become the head coach at Wyoming. And, as I mentioned, the wheels fell off after year one, and I was fired, eventually winding up as an OC at Indiana, which led to my current head-coaching job at Pittsburgh.

What I really enjoy about the Carousel is that my coaching rating is tied directly into reaching my goals, with winning counted as a bonus -- no ridiculous hoops to jump through or head scratching advancement logic seems to destroy the mode. Win, achieve your goals and I guarantee you will be getting offers in the offseason and become an A-plus rated coach/coordinator in a five-year span. Make sure you hold out for the job you want as well because sometimes an offer may come across the table with a personnel set at a certain school that does not match your scheme, or worse yet, an AD with some unrealistic goals and a one-year contract (like winning eight games with a C-minus rated Wyoming team, what was I thinking signing that?). How you shape your future is completely up to you, and as I said before, this is the most addictive career coaching mode I have played in a sports video game.

I do have a couple very minor gripes about the revamped Dynasty mode. The biggest is that while having the option to become an OC or DC is a blast, you are given far too much control over your team. Coordinators still are able to recruit, and you are even able to dictate the team's coaching strategies, complete with offensive and defensive schemes and aggressiveness. Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure real coordinators do not have this type of control over their team. It would have been nice to see EA lock out these abilities until you are a hired as a head coach -- you can ignore certain coaching elements if you want to "fake" things to keep things realistic. I found myself setting recruiting to CPU assist during my days as an OC, maybe making a pitch or two to an offensive player I wanted to join the squad, and then just sitting back and worrying about my offense.

My other issue with the mode deals with a design decision made by the NCAA team. As a coordinator, the game does not track your wins, losses, bowl games, national titles or any other stats (these stats are tracked only when you are a head coach). The only categories you will receive credit for are winning seasons and if any of your players win an award or are selected to the All-American team. I know coordinators typically do not have their wins/losses tracked, it just would have been nice to have some sort of documentation of your coordinator's successes/failures at a certain school, or perhaps even a total yards for/allowed type of statistic that could be included in a coaching yearbook.

Recruiting

I have very good news on this front for hardcore dynasty fans, also known as those OS posters with a billion posts. During all the years I simulated in Dynasty, the only issue I witnessed was some small-scale recruit hording at bigger-named schools. The best example of this was that at one point LSU had three 90-plus rated quarterbacks on the active roster: a senior, junior and redshirted junior. This really did not create an issue with the integrity of the dynasty like in the past because there seems to be a much larger recruiting pool this year. Even with LSU's QB trifecta, I was hard pressed to find any big-name program or mid-tiered school in a power conference with a QB rating lower than 80. There truly is an even distribution of talent in this year’s game, and I expect to see some parody from year to year in the rankings. Connecticut developed into a powerhouse, winning a national title, and teams like Michigan State (YES!), Alabama, Oregon and TCU were all hovering around the top five on a yearly basis.

Scouring through depth charts, I was also very pleased to see that every school had the required number of players as the years progressed, and that these players had realistic ratings, even kickers. EA must have taken the criticism of kickers to heart last year because kickers this year are routinely some of the highest-rated players on a team, and the highest-rated overall recruits each year -- no more botched 15-yard CPU field goals or extra points.

Incoming position recruits typically max out right around an 80-82 overall if they are five-star prospects. Before you start complaining that this is too low, realize that in-season progression coupled with a well designed off-season progression system will have stud recruits pinging the mid-90s by their junior year. If you really think about this, it is incredibly realistic. Most freshmen in college football can come in and make a solid impact on a team, but few would be considered 99-rated overall game breakers until they are in school for a year or two. Several of the top players that came in as five-star recruits walked away with the Heisman, and these same players were consistently some of the best players statistically each year. Even two- and three-star recruits that eventually maxed out in the mid-80s could be found regularly in the top five of each statistical category, leading me to believe there will be quite a few diamonds in the rough come signing day.

Simulated Stats

Realistic simulated stats is an area where EA has really found its mark this year. I was blown away when reviewing the statistical leaders each year of my dynasty because they were eerily similar to how the numbers looked when compared to real stats. One stat that especially caught my eye was QB completion percentages, which max out in the 65-70 percent range (last year’s leader, Dan Persa, checked in at 73.5 percent). Because of the robo-QB issue, past years of NCAA led to multiple CPU quarterbacks routinely falling into the 75 percent and above range versus the 66 percent range real quarterbacks typically fall into. Even more impressive than the QB completion stats are the simulated QB rushing statistics. It is now commonplace to see a spread or mobile QB rack up 1,000-plus yards over the course of a season, which is a breath of fresh air after last year’s lack of rushing CPU quarterbacks.

In short, the statistics in NCAA 12's Dynasty mode are consistently solid. Outside of one year where four quarterbacks rated in the high 90s threw anywhere between 47-51 TD passes, and only five players returned punts for touchdowns, I did not notice any anomalies that immediately stood out. Simulation statistics are always the truest testament to how a game's CPU AI plays, and NCAA 12 is on the right track.

Complete Conference Customization

One of the hidden gems when it comes to NCAA 12's Dynasty mode is the ability to completely customize conferences at the start of every season. You will be able to create super conferences of up to 12 teams, edit bowl tie-ins, protected rivals, determine if teams play on weekdays and even determine the names of each division within a conference. The entire experience is a dream come true for would-be college football czars, and you can literally spend hours crafting the NCAA that you determine. My personal favorite setup? Creating the old Southwest Conference and then dumping Notre Dame into the Big Ten to bother my wife, the Notre Dame elitist that she is. The combinations are endless, and there is tons of fun to be had in both online and offline dynasty.
The Road to Glory

If any game mode received love from the team at Tiburon in NCAA 12, it would be Road to Glory. Taking a role-playing game approach to the player's career mode has added some much needed depth to a mode that has been mostly forgettable in the past. You now must earn the trust of your coach in order to audible, hot route and eventually call plays, and you can upgrade your character's attributes and move sets once he reaches college by spending XP points earned during practice and games.

I would not be doing my job if I did not mention my favorite addition to the on-field portion of RtG: being able to play iron man football. Now you are able to choose an alternate position on the other side of the ball, and you will be independently recruited at each position. CPU play calling has also been revamped so you will not see as many boneheaded calls from your coach -- finally making positions like wide receiver worth playing.

For as many meaningful additions present in this year's RtG, by far the most significant is the ability to import Teambuilder squads into the mode. What EA has essentially created within NCAA 12 is a completely separate high school football simulator. With the ability to play a full 7-12 game season, importing your area's high school teams means you can re-create your entire senior year to rewrite history. You can even change the difficulty of each imported team on your schedule to better represent your respective high school career.

It's difficult to describe the amount of joy I felt as my virtual player suited up in my high school Birmingham Seaholm Maples football jersey circa the year 2000 to take on the rest of the MHSAA OAA Division 2 and other area teams. Thanks to the efforts of Kotaku's Owen Good, and a dedicated Teambuilder user base around the country, you will likely have no issue finding your high school already created on the service. Unfortunately, I did not get the same rush of excitement once my created player had made it to college. While the mode is still fun, and it's great to see your player advance, nothing can compare to the high school experience in my eyes.

On the field, this year’s RtG mode feels like it has for the past couple of years, gameplay enhancements aside. Even so, what the NCAA 12 team has done with RtG this year is a perfect example of how upgraded immersion and player customization can trump actual on-field gameplay in a career mode. Even if you have never been a fan of this mode in past games, you owe it to yourself to spend at the very least a full high school season playing. I've enjoyed this game mode so far, and I can see myself going back and playing multiple positions before I buckle down and stick with Dynasty mode.

Six special fans attend all-star game, putting focus on what's important

PHOENIX - A few summers ago, Erick Cruz was playing summer ball with Bryce Harper.
This weekend, both were at baseball's all-star celebration, with Harper playing in the Futures Game for top prospects. Cruz was overjoyed just to be watching the festivities from a suite at Chase Field, one of six families treated to the trip by the Phoenix-based Make-A-Wish Foundation
An 18-year-old from Claremont, Calif., Cruz made the varsity as a freshman at Claremont High during the 2007-08 school year.
"During the summer, I started getting tired for no reason," he recalled. "Little things made me gasp for air. When I got back home, I got a blood test."
The shocking diagnosis: leukemia.
"I was playing travel ball with the cancer in me," he said. "I didn't even know."
Following chemotherapy, radiation and prescription steroids, Cruz's cancer is in remission. But the treatment has taken a toll on his once-strong body. He needed knee surgery. When he started to work out again, he needed a full hip replacement.
"I haven't played in the last 2 1/2 years," he said. "I'm starting now to work out, trying to get back in there."
While Harper was taken by the Washington Nationals with the first pick of last year's amateur draft, Cruz had to take off a year from school because of his illness.
Now he will start his senior year at the end of the summer. Joined by his family, he was greeted with a reception Saturday night by Major League Baseball Executive Vice-President Tim Brosnan and Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.
Joining Cruz, a Los Angeles Angels season-ticket holder, were Clayton "Bo" Anderson, a 13-year-old from St. Bernard School who lives in Dallas; Jose Avalos, 16, who goes to Carver High and is from Houston; Steven Contreras, 17, who attends Rolling Hills Prep and lives in Wilmington, Calif.; Zachary McMasters, 13, who is entering Etiwanda High and lives in Fontana, Calif.; and Scott Selman, 14, who goes to Stevenson High and lives in Buffalo Grove, Ill.
The group got to meet major league home run leader Jose Bautista, Hank Aaron, Ozzie Smith, Rickey Henderson and Commissioner Bud Selig.
MLB and the Make-A-Wish Foundation have been arranging such All-Star programs since 2003. The group arranged about 22,000 wishes for young people last year, including 13,580 in the United States.
"We grant more wishes during the summer than any other time of year. It's easier for kids to travel. The timing happens to be perfect," said Paul Allvin, vice-president of brand advancement for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. "Our kids all have life-threatening medical conditions. They're not terminal, but they have life-threatening conditions."
It's not just the kids who make the trip. Parents and siblings are included.
"Often times for these families, it's their first chance in a long time to forget about being sick and to just go back and be kids and family together," Allvin said. "It provides them a really important break. A lot of them really feel like it's a turning point in their fight to regain their health."
Selman walked off the plane at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and was greeted by dozens of people, holding up a large banner and joyously shouting a welcome. The right-hander pitcher and devout Chicago Cubs fan, has Long QT syndrome (LQTS), as does his sister.
"It's an electrical short of the heart. It causes sudden death," said his mother, Aleyce.
He was diagnosed in the fourth grade. His father, Phil, is also his baseball coach. Both parents are proficient in using a defibrillator, just in case.
"My favourite thing in life is basically this. I just like playing. I love meeting players and I love baseball," Scott said. "I wasn't allowed to play for a year or two. I can't always — if it's really hot out, I can't do as much as I usually want to do. I have to sit out a couple more innings than most of the other people on my team."
Contreras, a fan of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, plays high school baseball and football even though bone cancer caused his left leg to be amputated below the knee.
Avalos is fighting muscular dystrophy, McMasters is battling brain cancer and Anderson is combating leukemia.
In a ballpark filled with thousands of happy fans at Tuesday night's game, these six may be the happiest.
"We can't control what we do on the field, but we can certainly control what we do off the field," Hall told them. "I'm so proud of those of you that are battling and even beating. I'm glad you're here healthy, happy."

How Curt Flood Changed Baseball and Killed His Career in the Process

barra_flood.jpg
AP Images
If Curt Flood had not existed, not even Marvin Miller could have invented him.
Who Curtis Charles Flood was and precisely his significance in baseball history is something that can't be understood just by looking at the record book. Not that Flood suffers from such an examination. He played 15 years from 1956 to 1971. (He took the 1970 season off, which is something I'll discuss in a moment.) He batted .293, was a three-time All-Star, and, playing centerfield for the St. Louis Cardinals, won Gold Glove seven consecutive seasons, from 1963-1969. He was on three pennant-winning teams with the Cardinals and earned two World Series rings. But it's what Curt Flood didn't do in 1969 that helped change the game forever: He did not accept a trade.
At the end of the 1969 season, the Cardinals traded him, along with Tim McCarver, Byron Browne, and Joe Hoerner, to the Phillies for Dick Allen, Jerry Johnson, and Cookie Rojas. But this trade was turned out to be different from all other trades before or since: This time, one of the two principal stars—most baseball writers regarded it mainly as a swap of Flood for Allen—refused to go.
Not only did Flood refuse to go, but he went to his personal lawyer and then to Marvin Miller, founder and executive director of the Players Association, and told them he wanted to sue Major League Baseball. The decision sent shock waves not only through baseball but ultimately through all professional sports. Those waves reverberate even to this day. And though he was aware that it would cost him dearly, he never wavered.
In 1969, players were still bound to a team for life by the so-called reserve clause. Simply put, a player was a team's property. Unless the team chose to trade him or release him, his first big-league team would be his only big-league team for his entire career. A player's only recourse was retirement.
Oddly enough, the language of the reserve clause was ambiguous. It merely said that if you played for a team, you must play for that team the next season as well. Two players before Flood had challenged the reserve clause only to run up against baseball's exemption from antitrust laws, first established in 1921 in a decision by Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
The reserve clause, the antitrust exemption, and the legal decisions that had accumulated around it all had an aura of irrationality about them. It was as if, as Miller once put it, "the courts were saying 'Yes, you're an American and have the right to seek employment anywhere you like, but this right does not apply to baseball players."
When Flood came to Miller, his mind was already made up. "I told him," recalls Miller, "that given the courts' history of bias towards the owners and their monopoly, he didn't have a chance in hell of winning. More important than that, I told him even if he won, he'd never get anything out of it—he'd never get a job in baseball again."
Flood asked Miller if it would benefit other players. "I told him yes, and those to come.
He said, 'That's good enough for me.'" When Miller realized that Flood understood the odds against him and was still determined to go ahead with the case, he told him, "You're a union-leader's dream."
All these moments are captured in the remarkable new HBO documentary, The Curious Case of Curt Flood, which premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern. The intriguing title is explained in large part by the fact that Flood's real motivations for his decision have never been fully explored in any documentary. Ken Burns' award-winning PBS series Baseball, paid tribute to the historic importance of Flood's suit but gave scant attention to the backstory.
Born in Houston in 1938, Flood was raised in the relatively tolerant Oakland, California. His mother, who had fled the intense racial bigotry of the pre-World War II South, never let him forget what things had been like where she grew up, and in 1962, having little idea of what he was about to encounter, the 24-year-old Flood went to Mississippi to join his idols Dr. Martin Luther King and Jackie Robinson to support the non-violent protests organized by the NAACP.
Less than two years later, to his shock, racial prejudice pursued him to his own hometown—or, to be precise, 21 miles away in the suburb of Alamo—when he rented a house for his pregnant wife and four small children only to denied entrance by the owner, who didn't know they were black when they signed the lease and barred their way with a loaded shotgun. Flood sued and won, but it left him without illusions about what it was like to be a black man in America in 1964—even an affluent one who had just come home after helping a major league baseball team win the World Series.
Most black baseball stars—Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Ernie Banks—were all but invisible during the Civil Rights movement, so Flood's activism was years ahead of its time. When it came time for him to take a stand on being traded to Philadelphia, he was ready. "I do not regard myself as a piece of property to be bought or sold," he famously told Commissioner of Baseball Bowie Kuhn in a letter in which he requested the right to be a free agent. Kuhn, echoing the court decisions of previous years, replied that he was sympathetic to Flood's feelings but "simply did not see how that applied to Major League Baseball."
Flood's teammates and colleagues were skeptical of his suit and did not support him; on the day he testified only two former players, Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg, stood by him. No active players were there—not even Flood's outspoken teammate Bob Gibson dared to support him, all fearful of retaliation from the owners.
What Miller thought was an impossible goal turned out, heart-breakingly, to be within reach. When the decision was announced in 1972, Flood lost 5-3, but only after Judge Lewis Powell, who was sympathetic to Flood, withdrew from the case because of what he called conflict of interest - he owned stock in Anheuser-Busch, whose principal owner, Augie Busch, owned the St. Louis Cardinals. If Powell had remained, Flood could have won a 5-4 decision, but his withdrawal, combined with Chief Justice Warren Berger's 11th-hour switch from Flood's side to baseball's, killed Flood's case.
In effect, the court ruled that yes, Flood should have the right be a free agent, but that baseball's antitrust exemption could only be removed by an act of Congress and that free agency for players should be attained through collective bargaining.
That is precisely what happened. Because of the pressure that Flood's suit brought to the baseball owners, Miller and the union were able to bargain for binding arbitration on grievances. And, finally, in 1976, when pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally agreed to play a season without a contract, arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled them free agents. Overnight, the system that Miller called feudal, the one that had ruled baseball virtually since its professional organs, collapsed.
Prophets of doom and gloom about the future of the game could be seen on every sports page, but in the end, the Players Association worked out things with management, and salaries sky-rocketed—along with profits, it turned out, as fans liked the exciting new era of free agency and the players it brought to their teams.
As Miller had predicted, Flood never benefited from the revolution he helped begin. High-strung and sensitive, Flood had been a heavy drinker practically since the time he became a professional ballplayer, and by the early 1970s he was an alcoholic. His first marriage fell apart in the mid-1960s from the combination of alcohol abuse, long stretches away from home, and the animosities his unwavering Civil Rights stance inspired. After the Supreme Court decision, he was bombarded with hate mail from fans who accused him of trying to destroy baseball; his teammate Bob Gibson estimated "He got four or five death threats a day."
Flood left the country and opened a bar in Majorca, Spain, frequented by American sailors. Plagued by increasingly debt, including unpaid child support, and guilt that he had been a bad father, Flood was finally admitted into a Barcelona psychiatric hospital. His sister sent him the money to return to the U.S. In one of the most moving scenes in the documentary, journalist Richard Reeves says, "Being with him at that time was like poking your finger in an open wound. He was a broken man and bleeding."
And yet, Flood managed to pull some strands of his life back together. He married a former girlfriend, Judy Pace, and reestablished contact with his children.
Recognition came late. In 1992 Flood was given the NAACP Jackie Robinson Award for contributions to black athletes, and in 1994, in perhaps the most satisfying moment of his life, he gave a speech on solidarity to the players as they prepared to go on strike. The players gave him a standing ovation. It was almost 25 years to the day that he had announced his suit against baseball.
Decades of smoking and drinking finally caught up to him. Early in 1995, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. The Players Associating, urged by former legal counsel Dick Moss, paid his medical bills. He died on January 20, 1997, two days after his 59th birthday. Jesse Jackson's funeral eulogy stands as his epitaph: "Baseball didn't change Curt Flood. Curt Flood changed baseball. He fought the good fight."

Local tennis: Naples' Brett Clark wins Boys 18s title at Bush Florida Open

— Boomer later, perhaps.
His back, and serve, often against the wall against hard-firing Oklahoma young gun Spencer Papa, Naples native Brett Clark used casual demeanor, veteran strategy, deft touch and survival instincts to get past Papa, 6-4, 7-5, in Tuesday's Florida Bush Open 18-year-old championship matchup on the clay stadium court of The Landings.
It was the second Florida Bush Open title for the second-seeded Clark, who won the 16-under trophy two years ago, and had strong local support.
"I'm just relieved and happy I won the match, won the tournament," said a beaming Clark. "Always feels good to get a win with all the people backing me. That helped me get through some tough times in that match. I played well but I had to.
"I had to find a second gear and luckily I could do that."
Clark was the Daily News Boys Tennis Player of the Year who won the Class 3A singles and doubles championships to lead Barron Collier to its second consecutive state title last season as a junior. His win stopped Papa's steam-roll of Naples players. In the opening round, Papa, just 15, knocked out Clark's Cougars doubles teammate, Austin Robles, before blowing past Naples High's Josh Dancu in Monday's semifinal.
Dancu lost to Jonathan Ho of Wexford, Pa., 6-3, 6-1, in the third-place match Tuesday.
Ranked 16th in the country, fifth in the Southeast and third in Florida, Clark, 17, ran his USTA record to 64-19 by winning this prestigious Level 3 Regional tourney. The win came on the heels of his Florida State Closed title in Daytona Beach earlier this month.
"I've been playing really well for the past month and a half," Clark said. "I knew coming into this tournament that I was playing well enough to win. It was just a matter of if I did. And I'm so happy that I did."
Both Clark and Papa, the ninth seed from Edmond who is ranked second nationally among rising sophomores, are right-handed, 6-foot-2 baseliners with two-fisted backhands that possess touch at the net. But this clash between the slim Clark and the muscular, high-strung Papa was largely a two-hour, 20-minute matchup of placement vs. power.
The contrast made for an entertaining, momentum-shifting back-and-forther.
Clearly calmer at the start, Clark, who finished third in last year's Open, easily broke to a 4-2 first-set lead. But Papa, who uses very little top spin, came firing back, getting a break on a touch volley to make it 4-4. Chipping to get to or bring Papa to the net to diminish his firepower, Clark broke right back. After trailing 0-30, Clark finished the first set with a cross-court backhand volley and a service winner.
"I tried to keep the ball lower so he couldn't just wail on every ball," Clark said. "You've got to mix things up against a hard hitter like that."
Papa held at love to open the second set. Then came a huge difference-maker. Despite three aces (his only of the match), Clark had to fight off six break points before holding with a pair of drop volleys to make it 1-1.
"I always think win or lose in the first set, it's always important to get momentum (early in the second set), because if you get down an early break, then you're fighting all the way through the second," Clark said. "That was really an important game that I had to get."
Papa sighed at the recollection.
"I definitely felt in the second game, if I had won one of those break points, I'd have had a better chance to win," Papa said. "But he stuck in there and played a great game."
After Papa held, he got a big break when his return of Clark's first serve trickled over for 30-40. He broke on the next point.
"I felt refreshed," Papa said. "Tried to come out with a lot of energy."
Papa cruised to an easy hold, then earned three break points, all thwarted. Clark used a cross-court forehand pass and a service winner to close to 2-4.
"I kept telling myself, 'Just one break,'" Clark said.
Clark got it, breaking Papa for 3-5, at which time a clearly wilting Papa took his second bathroom break. He emerged in fresh attire.
But it was Clark who got recharged.
"I started to get my second wind when I got that break because I was really tired," Clark said. "I think that bathroom break actually cooled him off."
Both players held and, at 4-5, Clark fought off two break/set points, evening it at 5-5 on a drop shot. He then used a down-the-line forehand to break at 15, and closed the match with an overhead and fist pump.
"It was definitely a long match, and I had my chances," Papa said. "He just stayed in there. Got lucky there. But he's a good player and played well."
Clark, who has scheduled visits to North Carolina and Notre Dame and likely will plan three more, just felt it was his day.
"I don't know why I was so relaxed today," he said. "Good warm-ups. Just felt really good coming out. Body felt great. I was in this situation two years ago, and I don't know if that helped me, but I felt great."

(Neb.)-CSC Women̢۪s Basketball Team Shines Academically

CHADRON – For the second consecutive year, the Chadron State College women’s basketball team has been honored by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association for having the second-highest grade point average in Division II, finishing the academic year with a GPA of 3.644.
In fact, the CSC women posted the fourth-highest GPA in all of the WBCA’s five divisions – Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior College..
The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is well represented on the WBCA Academic Top 25 with three teams earning distinction. Fort Lewis is atop the standings with a 3.715, Chadron State is second and Regis University is 22nd with 3.451.
The GPAs are calculated by dividing the number of quality points earned by each student-athlete on an institution’s roster in the given academic terms by the total number of hours earned by the team.. Nominations were submitted by WBCA-member head coaches.
Since becoming the Chadron State College women’s basketball coach in the summer of 2008, Tim Connealy has asked his players to be role models in the classroom. That tradition began last year when the Eagles tallied a team GPA of 3.641, which put them on the WBCA Academic Top 25 for the first time in school history.
“I was excited last season when we finished second and I am elated once again,” Connealy said. “I am incredibly proud of all the hard work the girls put in the classroom.
“Certainly, this is a credit to our team and the program we’re cultivating, but we also have a wonderful support system at the college, great professors and wonderful tutors.”
In addition, Wayne State College, which is a member of the Nebraska State College System with Chadron State, finished 21st with a GPA of 3.452.

Durant not ruling out going abroad during lockout - ROUTERS

TIANJIN, China — Kevin Durant isn't ruling out playing basketball abroad next season if the NBA lockout isn't resolved.
The Oklahoma City Thunder forward said Tuesday during a promotional tour in China that he thinks more players will follow Deron Williams' example and play overseas if the NBA season is disrupted. Williams has said he will play for Besiktas in Turkey if the lockout remains.
"We'll see, I would like to try something new," Durant said. "But of course, my first option is playing in the NBA. So now I want to see how this lockout goes."
He said he's still hopeful that a new collective bargaining agreement will be reached.
"If not, I will make a decision on where I am going to play basketball," Durant said.
He added it is "tough" to see Yao Ming retire, and the 7-foot-6 Houston Rockets center deserves to be in the basketball Hall of Fame.
Durant said it has been an honor to play Yao, who is expected to announce July 20 that he's retiring from the NBA after nine seasons because of leg and foot injuries. The 30-year-old Yao has missed 250 regular-season games over the past six seasons.
"Tough, man, tough to see a great player and a great competitor like Yao Ming leave the game after being injured a few years," Durant said. "As a player, you come into the league, the first thing somebody asks you is what you want to do when you get here, and a lot of players say, 'I want to dunk over Yao Ming.' So you can tell how much impact he has in the game.
"He comes in, he works every day and you can tell that he's never in trouble and he sets such a good example for the players coming into the league."
Asked if he thought Yao should have a place in the basketball Hall of Fame, Durant said the Chinese player deserves the honor.
"It was exciting to watch such a tall guy but that can shoot the basketball and put so much pressure on your defense by playing down low, and also his defense, too," Durant said. "He does so much for the game, and he does deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. He's so dominant in the game, and he changed the game by him just running up and down the floor."
Yao boosted the popularity of the basketball league in China and throughout Asia, spiking merchandise sales and TV ratings for games after the Rockets made him the top overall pick in the 2002 draft.

PSF announces cash incentives for medal winners

ISLAMABAD, July 12 (APP): President of Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman has announced cash awards for the medal winners of Asian Junior (Individual) Squash Championship  held at Jordon.
Pakistan squash contingent showed outstanding performance during the Asian Junior Squash Championship, that concluded at Jordon in the last week of June. In the Under-19 age group, Mr Danish Atlas won Gold Medal whereas Nasir Iqbal won Bronze Medal.  Similarly, in U-17 age group,Tayyab Aslam won Silver Medal and Ali Bukhari won Bronze Medal.
The PSF President  highly appreciated the performance of Pakistani players in the subject championship.
He hoped that these players would continue putting in more efforts for  bringing laurels for Pakistan in the future, as well.

Doherty hopeful despite World Cup defeat

Ken Doherty refused to give up his hopes of World Cup glory after Pakistan shocked the Republic of Ireland on day one of the revived tournament in Thailand.
Former world champion Doherty slipped up in a one-frame singles match against Sahid Aftab, who also beat Fergal O'Brien.
Aftab and Muhammad Sajjad teamed up to beat the Irish pair in the doubles as Pakistan won the best-of-five-frames Group A match 3-2.
Doherty and O'Brien both won frames against Sajjad with century breaks, Doherty with 111 and O'Brien with 101.
The PTT-EGAT-sponsored event, in Bangkok, is the first snooker World Cup to be staged since 1996, when Ireland - with Doherty and O'Brien in the team - lost to Scotland in the final.
The format for the early stages sees each player in the two-man teams play singles frames against both players on the other side, plus a doubles frame.
Doherty still believes Ireland can come through their group to reach the quarter-finals.
'We're very disappointed to lose but it's amazing that we both made a century break each but lost the match 3-2,' said Doherty.
'It's a disappointing start but every frame counts so that's a good thing, so if we beat Germany or Egypt 4-1 or 5-0 then we're right back in it.'
Hong Kong were beaten 3-2 by Poland in a match which saw Marco Fu lose a frame to 15-year-old Kacper Filipiak, while Thailand's second team defeated Afghanistan 3-2 and Brazil overcame Belgium by the same score.
Thailand's first team, headed by former World Championship semi-finalist James Wattana, suffered a disappointing opening 4-1 loss against Australia, who are led by 2010 Crucible champion Neil Robertson.
'I felt quite good but my performance showed otherwise,' said local hero Wattana.
Northern Ireland posted a crushing 4-1 win over India, with Mark Allen enjoying playing alongside Gerard Greene.
'I've only played three times since the World Championships and one of those was in an exhibition,' said Allen, who reached the quarter-finals in Sheffield in April.
'At the end of the day I can't keep getting away with it and not putting the hours in on the practice table - it will soon catch up with me.
'But it's nice to get rid of some rust and I made a 108 in my first frame of the season.
'It's great to play for your country and in snooker you don't get to do it much. It's a bit of fun out there. You want to do well for your country but also enjoy yourselves as well.'
China's Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo beat Malta's Tony Drago and Alex Borg 3-2, while Egypt ground out victory by the same margin against Germany.

BCCI to discuss Pakistan series next month

KARACHI: While the Pakistan Cricket Board`s (PCB) officials are itching to finalise the terms for a scheduled series with India, their counterparts will not make a hasty decision, according to a top BCCI official.
According to the International Cricket Council`s (ICC) Future Tours Programme (FTP), Pakistan and India are tied to play a series including three Tests and five One-Day Internationals (ODI) in March-April next year. But the fate of the series hangs in mid-air due to the uncertainty of relations between the two countries.
The archrivals have not played a series since 2007-08 due to strained relations between the two countries in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.
However, the prospect of the revival of cricketing ties emerged with the new FTP and during the ICC annual conference in Hong Kong last month when the PCB and BCCI officials met on the sidelines.
The PCB, which is facing a financial crisis as a result of a drought of international cricket in the country and suspension of cricketing ties with India, is eager to finalise the schedule immediately amid queries on who will host the series. The PCB’s Chief Operating Officer Subhan Ahmed on his return from the ICC meeting said the PCB will make efforts to finalise the next year’s series as soon as possible.
However, the BCCI seemed reluctant about finalising the series while officials refuse to comment on the matter before their meeting next month.
“We will discuss about the Pakistan series in our meeting next month,” the BCCI Vice-President Rajiv Shukla told Our Sources. “The series is on our agenda and we will make the final decision after assessing the pros and cons in our meeting. The series is scheduled for next year and there is still a lot of time left in the series.”
Reports on government influence dismissed
The official, however on a positive note, dismissed reports that the BCCI has received a negative response from the Indian government on playing a series with Pakistan.
“We’re yet to receive the government’s response,” said Shukla. “We’ll finalise things first and then seek permission from the government. There is no truth on such reports.”
The Pakistan Task Force, which recently submitted a detailed report on the future of the game in the country, has termed the series as vital for fans all over the world.

Youngsters need to step up: Mohsin

Mohsin Khan said that the young brigade needed to mature quickly so that they are able to handle the rigors of international cricket. PHOTO: AFP
LAHORE:  The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chief Selector Mohsin Khan, who is also performing duties as a batting coach at the ongoing Fast Track Coaching Programme, said that the country’s young brigade is almost ready to take on the reins of the national team.
Mohsin, a former batsman, was hopeful of positive results – in the form of solid performances in match situations from the youngsters – after the coaching programme ends.
“At the moment, with the exception of two or three players, we’re relying on the young blood at our disposal,” Mohsin told reporters at the National Cricket Academy. “We have called them to the camp only because of their lack of maturity, which is a vital ingredient to succeed at the international level.
“They need to mature quickly as each one of them is a professional and is being paid a good amount.
“We have a very young squad, and with the exception of Taufeeq [Umar], Younis [Khan] and Misbahul Haq, everyone else in the national setup is quite young. We’re trying to make them mentally tougher and are helping them to remove their flaws so that they can become world class players.”
Performance is the key
The board had invited the country’s top performers in domestic cricket to the coaching programme. However, surprisingly many seasoned campaigners were ignored, which included players like Test discards Faisal Iqbal and Asim Kamal.
The board had initially also ignored Ramiz Raja, the top scorer in the last domestic season, but included him at the last minute. Mohsin was quick to point out that players have to perform exceptionally well to catch the selectors’ eyes.
“We have immense talent in our country but this doesn’t mean that those not called to the programme will be completely overlooked. But whatever the level of talent that they possess, they have to perform as well. Batsmen need to score and bowlers have to take a lot of wickets to catch eyes of the selectors. “
Mohsin, who scored a Test double hundred at Lord’s – the highlight of his playing career, added it was now upto the players to payback the hard work put in by the coaches at the camp.
The former Test opener said that the coaches have given each player a lot of time and the players have responded well to the input.
“The boys are responding well but I want to say that I believe only in results. The players are giving their hundred per cent here and this should be demonstrated in match situations in the form of performances that help Pakistan win.”

Dhoni happy as India seal series

ROSEAU: India captain MS Dhoni brushed aside any disappointment that there might have been, after his side were denied a win in the final Test against the West Indies, courtesy a rock-solid century by Shivnarine Chanderpaul and a spirited bowling display by the hosts.
Chasing 180 for victory, India finished on 94 for three, and decided to bring the match to a close with 15 overs remaining on the last day. But Dhoni expressed his satisfaction at the 1-0 series victory.
“I’m not too disappointed about the final result,” said Dhoni. “We did really well throughout the series, particularly in this game. We decided to call it off because the gamble was quite high for us, we were risking a series win. I think we did our best, and had a go, but we then realised it wasn’t worth it.”
India coach Duncan Fletcher echoed Dhoni’s views on the aborted run chase.
“Once it got to four or five runs per over we were struggling to score,” he said. “The side decided it was difficult to get those runs and thought what’s the point in going there.”
Sammy surprised at Indian tactics
West Indies captain Darren Sammy, though happy with the result, said he was surprised the visitors did not go all out for victory.
“With 15 overs to go and 86 runs required, and considering the calibre of players they have like Dhoni, I thought they would give it a go, being one-up,” he said. “But I guess [with] my ploy to have [Devendra] Bishoo bowl in the rough, they didn’t fancy their chances of going after him. I’m quite happy with the result, and the way the crowd responded to us made it feel that we had won.”
Chanderpaul frustrates India
The decision to abort the run chase ended a frustrating day for the top-ranked Test side, which started with the promise of a second victory in the series, but was blighted by Chanderpaul’s undefeated 116, his 23rd Test hundred.
That earned him the man-of-the-match award after he also stood firm in a ninth-wicket stand with Fidel Edwards.
India were kept in the field far longer than they expected, with Chanderpaul farming the bowling as West Indies were dismissed for 322.
The visitors suffered an early setback in their hunt for victory, reaching 19 for one at tea, after Abhinav Mukund was dismissed for a duck.
A stand of 73 between Murali Vijay, who top-scored with 45, and Rahul Dravid, unbeaten on 34, put India back on track. But Vijay was caught at mid-on off Ravi Rampaul’s bowling, who held a return catch four overs later to dismiss Suresh Raina for eight, effectively ending India’s interest.

Afridi rushes home to ailing father

KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi rushed home after his father, Sahibzada Fazalur Rehman, suffered a heart attack and was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit at the Aga Khan Hospital yesterday.
Afridi, who was representing Hampshire in the ongoing Friends Life Twenty20 Championship, headed back immediately after hearing the news and was expected to arrive in Karachi last night.
The all-rounder, who also missed the initial stages of his county stint due to a rift with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that revoked his NOCs to play in foreign leagues, is also doubtful to play Hampshire’s remaining matches. The former captain has so far played seven matches for Hants and was scheduled to return on July 16.
Afridi’s father is battling a prolonged illness and also underwent a surgery in the US in May. He was kept on ventilator till the filing of this report.
End.

We can beat World if Davis Cup ties are played at home: Aisam

The ITF has instructed Pakistan to play its "home" Davis Cup ties at neutral venues or abroad because of the refusal of foreign teams to visit Pakistan for security reasons. (AFP Photo)
LAHORE: Pakistan's tennis star Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi believes that the country can get promoted to the Davis Cup World Group if the International Tennis Federation allows it to host its ties at home.

"We have a 100 per cent record at home and I am confident that if from next year we are able to host our Davis Cup ties instead of playing them abroad we can get promotion in this event," Aisam, who returned home from the Davis Cup tie against Korea, said.

Pakistan was beaten 0-4 by Korea in the tie with Aisam losing in both singles and doubles matches.

"It was a pretty disappointing result for us because we tried very hard and played hard but luck did not favour us at all," he said.

He pointed out that being forced to play away from home had affected the team's performance in the elite Davis Cup event.

"It does make a big difference as you lose home advantage. In normal circumstances you get a chance as host nation to practice and prepare on your home turf before a tie and that is always good," he said.

Aisam said in present circumstances Pakistani players have to go abroad and play and they don't get enough time for adjustments.

The ITF has instructed Pakistan to play its "home" Davis Cup ties at neutral venues or abroad because of the refusal of foreign teams to visit Pakistan for security reasons.

Since last year Pakistan has played three of its "home" Davis Cup ties abroad.

Aisam said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time on the international circuit playing with his doubles partner Rohan Bopanna of India.

"It is a great achievement for us to have broken into the top ten rankings but we need to up that and give better performance in the rest of the year," he said.

Aisam, who is set to get engaged to a UK-based girl Faha on July 16, said he was excited about the impending new chapter in his life.

"It is a new chapter for me and I am very excited about it. Obviously I can only pray that our engagement and marriage is a big success in life and good for both of us," he said.
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