Rift in ICC: Malcolm Speed sacked

DUBAI: International Cricket Council’s chief Executive Malcolm Speed has been sent on paid leave till July following rumours of his reported rift with President Ray Mali.

Speed, whose contract ends on July 4, has been accused of not taking any major step against Zimbabwe following an independent forensic audit carried out by KPMG.

According to David Morgan, ICC’s President elect, “This ... is the result of a fundamental breakdown in the relationship between the CEO and a number of board members, including the President, over a variety of issues that include Zimbabwe.”
David Richardson, the ICC General Manager - Cricket, will now serve as interim CEO until Speed`s replacement.

Haroon Lorgat will assume the role of full time CEO at the ICC`s annual conference at the beginning of July.
Speed, who also shared a strained relationship with some of the top BCCI officials, had often been quite critical on some of the issues involving India.

He had recently criticised the track prepared for the third and final cricket Test between India and South Africa at the Green Park stadium in Kanpur and had sought an explanation from the BCCI.

Speed has served as the ICC`s CEO since July 2001 and is only the second person to have filled the role in the organisation`s 99-year history. He succeeded David Richards, who was CEO from 1993 to 2001.

Following the ICC meeting in Dubai in March, in which the decision to overlook the audit was taken, speed refused to attend the post media conference, explaining to the executive board that he was not prepared to defend in public a decision with which he disagreed.

In his opinion, the conduct of senior Zimbabwe Cricket officials should have been referred to the ethics committee.
Speed`s conduct not to address the media conference did not go down well with Mali, who is known to be a strong supporter of Zimbabwe and its officials.

The ICC president-elect David Morgan is expected to address a press conference Saturday and the ICC said it will not make any further comment on this issue till that time.


Harbhajan in slapping row with Sreesanth

MOHALI: Temperamental spinner Harbhajan Singh was on Saturday served a show cause notice by the BCCI for allegedly slapping S Sreesanth after an Indian Premier League (IPL) match in Mohali.

Harbhajan, who is the stand-in captain for the Mumbai Indians team in the absence of an injured Sachin Tendulkar, has been asked to respond by Monday, BCCI Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty said.

The off-spinner allegedly slapped Kings XI Punjab’s Sreesanth immediately after their match on Friday night.
The BCCI promptly served a show cause notice on Harbhajan asking him why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for his conduct in Mohali.

“At this point of time, we have issued a show cause notice. Harbhajan is a contracted player of BCCI. BCCI itself has a code of conduct for players. And BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah has issued a show cause notice and he has to respond by Monday,” Shetty said.

Both Harbhajan and Sreesanth tried to downplay the incident. The off-spinner said the issue has been “sorted out” and the pacer remarked that Harbhajan is like his “elder brother”.

“The Board’s disciplinary committee will look into the issue and decide according to the rules of the BCCI,” Shah said in a statement.

The board is also awaiting match referee’s report of Rajasthan Royals and Hyderabad Deccan Chargers in which some words were exchanged between Shahid Afridi and Shane Warne.

“We are waiting for match referee’s report and investigation is also going on but we want to pass the message that indiscipline will not be tolerated in the IPL tournaments which we want to make world class,” Shah added.

Although Sreesanth is now trying to brush aside the matter but the pacer’s uncontrollable tears after the match had initially triggered off the furore.

Kings XI captain Yuvraj Singh also confirmed that an “ugly and unacceptable” incident did take place after the match and indicated that the team would lodge an official complaint with match referee Farokh Engineer.

“This is really an ugly incident. You do not want to see such things off the field especially after such a win. I am pretty upset at what has happened. This is totally unacceptable,” he said.

Harbhajan, who is often embroiled in on-field furores with the racial row with Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds being his last brush with controversy before this, has sought to steer away from any tough-talking this time.

Harbhajan and Sreesanth may be trying to downplay the incident but IPL Chairman Lalit Modi has termed it a “serious matter” and was not good for the Twenty20 tournament.

But Modi said the IPL committee would wait for an official report on the matter before deciding about their next action in the issue.

“It looks like a serious matter the way it’s being shown on television channels but I can’t say anything now. In any tournament it should not happen, it’s unfortunate what happened yesterday,” Modi told reporters.

“The incident in itself is sketchy. There is no clear evidence at this moment, there are different versions about what may have happened. But at the end of the day we have to take cognizance of the fact that happened on the field.

“(So) we are waiting for the match referee and umpire’s report only after which our committee will take a decision. The tournament is being played under the ICC guidelines, besides there are also tournament guidelines for the players,” he said.


Pushpakumara: ‘Player of the Tournament’

Tamil Union all-rounder Muthumudalige Pushpakumara has won the Rs. 100,000 ‘Player of the Tournament’ award in the recently concluded 2007-08 Premier League.

Playing his first season with Tamil Union, Pushpakumara played a vital role in the club securing third place behind SSC and Moors SC with a fine all-round contribution of 590 runs (avg. 42.14) scoring a century and four fifties and capturing 34 wickets at a cost of 24.02.

Tamil Union coach Brendon Kuruppu, the former Sri Lanka wicket-keeper/batsman said that “Pushpakumara has been hiding behind other cricketers not allowing his natural talent to flow. We have given him the responsibility and he has responded very well.”

“As a left-hand bat and a genuine off-spinner he has the potential to make the grade. It’s just that his talents have not been exploited to the full,” said Kuruppu.

When Pushpakumara, 26, burst into the Sri Lanka under 19 team eight years ago he was considered a future prospect for the national team as a potential all-rounder. But the following years saw Pushpakumara hardly making the grade with performances being so sporadic the selectors hardly took any notice of him. Joining the Tamil Union from Colts has changed Pushpakumara’s outlook and he is blossoming into the all-rounder everyone thought he was made out to be.

The prestigious Cricketer of the Year award which carries prize money worth Rs. 250,000 has yet to be decided by Sri Lanka Cricket. – [ST]


‘Battle of the Golds’ ends in a drab draw

St. Sebastian’s skipper Janitha Jayawardena clean bowled by Cambrian off-spinner Chamesh Fernando (not in picture) for 18 at their annual ‘big match’ at De Soysa Stadium, Moratuwa yesterday (Pic by Pushpakumara Matugama)

Interruption of play after tea on Friday resulted in the 58th cricket encounter between Prince of Wales’ College and St. Sebastian’s College ending in a draw at De Soysa Stadium Moratuwa yesterday, with only the first innings of the match being completed.

Prince of Wales who were 170 for 4 overnight in their first innings declared at 257 for 6 with Rumesh Thirimanne scoring a well-compiled 100 not out and Charith Kariyawasam contributing 43 not out. Anuk de Alwis and Sanjaya Fernando bowled well for St. Sebastians to take 3 wickets each.

In reply St. Sebastians managed only 153 runs in their first innings. Trevin Fernando was the top scorer with 56 runs. For Prince of Wales’ Shivantha Kumara had 3 wickets for 26 and Sanka Peiris 2 for 9.
St. Sebastians were asked to follow on but play was called off after two balls were bowled due to bad light.


                                                 Thomians in hard fought win                                                           

S.Thomas’ beat St.Anthony’s by 14 points (two goals) to 10 (two tries) to win back the Rev. Fr. Anjelo Rosetti trophy after three years. A Thomian player being tackled by the Anthonian number eight (Pic by Pushpakumara Matugama)