Doubts over Sri Lankan tour of England increase

On October 28, 2008 by

Sri Lanka’s proposed tour of England scheduled for next year is coming under increasing threat of cancellation. The national cricket team had planned on visiting England to take part in two tests between the 7th and the 19th of May before competing in a three-match one-day series later that month.

The tour was arranged after the cancellation of Zimbabwe’s visit to the country. However, the tour is set to clash with the Indian Premier League, which currently contains numerous Sri Lankan cricket stars.

Players including Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan, and Kumar Sangakkara, hold contracts with the Indian Premier League. The news that the tour may be affected by the IPL schedule has come as something of a surprise to the England and Wales Cricket Board.

However, the sports minister for Sri Lanka has previously stated that the players should not have to travel to England because honouring a contract with the IPL is more important. He has spoken of his desire for the national team to release the respective players and select a team with the remaining players, who are apparently “equally talented”.

However, he also conceded that the England and Wales Cricket Board stand to lose money from television rights and general income if the stars do not make an appearance.

Some sports pundits believe that the situation has been made worse by the fact that the Sri Lankan national team has been helped financially by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. This means that the players have been encouraged to honour Indian Premier League fixtures above all else.

Pietersen urges sensitivity over Stanford financial reward

On October 21, 2008 by

Kevin Pietersen, the popular England cricket captain, has urged his players to show sensitivity during the Stanford Super Series in Antigua next week. Each player in the England side is set to earn over £500,000 if they manage to overcome a Stanford Superstars side.

However, despite the excitement of this potential monetary reward, Pietersen has warned his players not to celebrate too much given the current global financial crisis, stating that he will be extremely angry if anyone behaves in an inappropriate manner.

During a press conference, the England captain revealed that he has friends who are “really struggling” at the moment as a result of lost jobs. He continued to confirm that he will give a generous percentage of any winnings to charity and spoke of his regret at the timing of the game.

Despite previous comments from Alastair Cook about the financial importance of the match, Kevin Pietersen believes that patriotism is a major motivating factor for both himself and his players.

He also revealed that the match will be fantastic practice prior to the upcoming series in India. Pietersen spoke at length about this upcoming series and, in particular, about the changes in training that will be implemented.

He believes that England coach, Peter Moores, has learnt a lot since his first winter tour and that the training schedule imposed upon the team would not be as tough as it was previously.

In another comment that completely contradicts Alastair Cook’s beliefs, Pietersen revealed that the match would be as “highly-pressured” as competing against Australia on the opening day of an Ashes Test.

In contrast, Cook refused to compare the match to the Ashes, stating that such a comparison would be nothing short of ridiculous.

Written by Charlotte Cook

Stanford game defended by Moores

On October 20, 2008 by

Peter Moores has defended the Stanford Super Series after it was criticised by England batsman, Alastair Cook. The England coach was forced into issuing a statement after Cook questioned the motive behind the series.

The batsman publicly expressed his concern that money is the sole motivation for the players competing in the Stanford Twenty20 game with each player standing to earn over £500,000 if they manage to beat a Stanford Superstars team during the match scheduled for the 1st of November.

Cook stated that “the actual cricket is quite unimportant, apart from financially”. He continued to argue that although some of the players are excited about the prospect of competing in the match, due to be played in Antigua, the significance of the game is negligible at best.

England decided to become involved in the match during its launch in June. During this launch, businessman Sir Allen Stanford, who is the brains behind the series, defended his idea, rejecting rumours that it was just a pointless gimmick.

However, Cook’s comments seem to further these suggestions and, worryingly for the organisers, appear to reflect the sentiment of all the England players.

The financial component of the series was evident during the launch in June, when Stanford revealed that each triumphant player would benefit from a £500,000 award and another £1 million would be divided between the coaches and the rest of the squad.

When asked by the media about the prize money, Cook expressed his belief that if the financial component was non-existent, the series would not matter. He ended his crushing statement by stating: “when you’re talking about the Stanford millions or the Ashes, there’s only going to be one winner”.

Peter Moores was just one official in the England set-up to be shocked by Cook’s comments. Moores has hit back by stating that “it’s an international game to be played by England. Alastair knows that and we’ll be very proud to go out there and play for England”.

The England coach acknowledged the financial component inherent in the series, saying that there was no detracting from the fact that there was "a lot of money involved”, but he insisted that national pride was the main motive behind the competition, saying, “when the lads walk out there they will be playing for the badge like they always do for England and will try to win that game to create some momentum to take to India”.

Despite his negative comments that will undoubtedly have caused some embarrassment for the England coaches, Moores has refused to publicly condemn Alastair Cook. He has in fact been keen to express his belief in Cook’s exceptional ability, saying that “every time he pulls on that shirt he gives absolutely everything for his country”.

The coach spoke of a team meeting held last week during which every player and member of the coaching staff expressed the same ambitions and targets for the upcoming matches. However, given the controversy surrounding this particular match, it will be interesting to see how Cook, and the England team as a whole, perform in November.

Written by Charlotte Cook

Duncan Fletcher set to join Hampshire

On October 6, 2008 by

He led England to Ashes glory in 2005 but has been out of the game for 18 months. Now it looks as though Duncan Fletcher is set to return to the sport at free-spending Hampshire.

An interesting move for Hampshire and I’m a bit surprised Fletcher hasn’t gone back into the international game instead of plodding around on the domestic scene.