Pace ace Zaheer Khan keen to work with current crop of Indian bowlers

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Former Indian pace ace: Khan.

Zaheer Khan, the wily former India pace bowler, admitted Tuesday that he will be keen on taking up the role of India’s bowling coach in the future.

Khan’s name that has constantly cropped up for the position in recent times, and while refusing to confirm if he has sought for the job, he told Sport360 it is a responsibility that he’d love to take on.

The 38-year-old Mumbai bowler, the fourth most successful in the history of Indian cricket with 311 scalps in 92 Test matches, has always been the leader of the Indian bowling pack during his career and excelled as a mentor to many of the present lot in the Indian team.

Khan, who is in Dubai as part of OSN’s specialist panel for studio shows during the ICC Champions Trophy staring Thursday, said: “Of course, it is a good responsibility to have.

“I haven’t really planned that far ahead. But in terms of keenness, yes, the keenness is there.

“It is something that I have done throughout my playing career also. If there is someone who wants my advice, I have always been there for them.”

The BCCI has called for candidates to apply for India’s head coach role, with Anil Kumble’s term coming to an end after the Champions Trophy.

Asked if he has actively sought for the position, Khan said: “I can’t answer that. Yes, it is a different role and a different opportunity, but at the moment, I am here for OSN as specialist commentator, and I am focused on that job.”

Defending champions India go into the ICC Champions Trophy as one of the pre-tournament favourites, and perhaps for the first time in their recent history, the bowling attack is giving more hope to their fans compared to their famed batting line-up.

In the two warm-up matches they played in England, India bowled out New Zealand for 189 in the 39th over, and later needed just 23.5 overs to dismiss Bangladesh for 84.

But Khan, while praising the bowlers, felt the performance of the batsmen will still be key.

“I won’t exactly say that bowlers will win us the title. Any tournament you play, it is a team effort,” said Khan.

“Yes, you have the variation in terms of style now – that is India’s big strength. You’ve got Bhuvneshwar who can swing the ball both ways. You have Umesh, who has got the pace. You have Bumrah, who takes the pressure off bowling in the death overs with his yorkers and slower ball. And there is Shami, who can do everything.

“With the new rules and fielding restrictions, it is important that you have bowlers who are good enough to bowl in any situation. That’s definitely one thing that foes in India’s favour right now.

“But in the end, you have got to approach it as a bowling unit that you have to pick up a few early wickets. Batting has always been our strength, and in these conditions, it becomes even more important that the batting line-up delivers.

“It is very important in today’s one-day cricket that you get to that total of 300. If you can do that consistently, then you get the advantage as a bowling unit also to defend those totals.”

Asked if he had one piece of advice for the Indian bowling and batting unit – given his immense success in England, Khan said: “To the bowlers, pitch the ball up, no matter what format you are playing in these conditions. As for the batsmen, I’d say take your time and get in.”

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Two words threatening to rip Australian cricket apart

Alex Broun 24/05/2017
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Not happy: Steven Smith

“Revenue sharing” – these two words are threatening to rip the game apart.

They almost stopped India from attending the Champions Trophy, which starts in England next week, and could even see this year’s eagerly anticipated Ashes series cancelled as Australia’s players go “freelance”.

Although revenue sharing is at the core of both these schisms the two issues are vastly different.

In terms of India’s participation in the Champions Trophy it was caused by the powerful BCCI (The Board of Control for Cricket in India) refusing to accept the ICC’s (International Cricket Council) new revenue sharing model which sees less money given to the traditional powerhouses – India, England and Australia – and more shared among the developing or emerging nations, like Ireland and Afghanistan.

The new deal saw India’s share drop from $570million to $290million, which the BCCI refused to accept, but they softened when the ICC increased that offer by $100million.

The dispute currently ripping Australian cricket apart also revolves around “revenue sharing” but in a totally different context.

Since the Kerry Packer revolution that changed Australian cricket forever in 1977, “revenue sharing” has been a part of contracts between the ACB, now Cricket Australia, and the players.

Alistair Nicholson, chief provocateur of the ACA

The current deal that runs from 2012 till June 30 2017 guaranteed players a 24.5% to 27% share of revenue, depending on results.

This is at the low range of revenue shares in Australian sport which range from 25% (rugby league), to the high 20s (AFL, likely, given current negotiations) and low 30s (rugby union and football). Nothing compared to the US where athletes receive approximately a 50% share.

But the Australian cricketers don’t want a bigger share of the revenue – in fact they want less (22.5%). The sticking point is they want an additional 22.5% to go to the lower levels of the game (State and club teams) with CA receiving the other 55%.

Or at least this is what the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA), the player’s union, say they want. To date they are carrying out the negotiations on behalf of the players.

James Sutherland, CEO of Cricket Australia

James Sutherland, CEO of Cricket Australia

James Sutherland, the CEO of CA, has rebuffed this plan saying the ACA “seeks to inappropriately expand its role as a players’ representative body into that of a de-facto administrator”. Ironically as only a sometime state player himself, Sutherland in his playing days was exactly the type of cricketer the ACA deal is trying to help.

Many are starting to see this dispute as a battle not over shared revenue but rather a struggle between CA and the ACA for control of the game in Australia.

While others are actually seeing it as a clash between two head strong individuals – Sutherland and ACA CEO, Alistair ‘Big Jack’ Nicholson, who played AFL, not cricket, for Melbourne in his playing days.

The players, for now, have stuck firmly behind Nicholson and the ACA although according to Sutherland they stand to make much more from the proposed new CA deal.

Mitchell Starc has been particularly prominent on Twitter making posts like: “The top players are going into bat for the domestic players, female players & grassroots cricket.”

But again Sutherland would dispute that after offering the Southern Stars, Australia’s women’s team, new contracts worth $135,000 – making them the nation’s best paid sports women.

Both sides are involved in an increasing war of brinkmanship, trying to force the other side to back down.

Last week Sutherland issued an ultimatum to the players that no new deal was coming and they should take the current offer or leave it. The ACA returned fire by announcing they were forming a new organisation to look after the player’s IP rights if a new deal with CA is not reached.

Waiting in the wings are global T20 leagues, like the new South African league, hoping to scoop up any Australian players who suddenly are off contract come July 1.

The thought of Australian heroes like Steve Smith and David Warner wandering the globe as guns to hire, like Chris Gayle, may have tournament promoters everywhere drooling but it sends a shudder down the spine of all Australian cricket fans.

David Warner and Steve Smith

The big question is will it happen? Will the ACA – CA impasse lead to mass desertions of Australia’s stars from the national team or will sanity prevail and a new deal be reached at the last minute?

For that to happen their will need to be compromise – and at the moment that is one buzz word in very short supply.

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Dubai Mammoths set for England tour

Denzil Pinto 24/05/2017
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A group of Dubai-based cricketers aged over 40 will test themselves in English conditions when they embark on their UK tour next month.

Having played two competitive tournaments – Big Forty’s and Pink Ball Forty’s, both organised by Dubai Cricket Council – Dubai Mammoths are set for their biggest and most exciting test yet, with  five one-day matches lined up between June 3-11.

Before a ball is even bowled, the   15-man squad will also be among the lucky 25,000 fans at Edgbaston as defending champions India begin their title defence against fierce rivals Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy on June 4.

While that match will go down as one of the highlights during their week-long trip, Dubai Mammoths are again relishing the opportunity of taking wickets and scoring runs “in a place like heaven” for the fifth consecutive year.

“We are all excited for this tour and although it’s getting nearer, time seems to be passing slower,” said Shiva Pagarani, co-organiser of the tour.

“This will be the fifth time that we will be returning to England for this annual tour and it’s something we are really looking forward to because playing in England is really like playing in heaven.

“We’ll be going there in the English summer, so it’ll be quite different for us because we’ll be arriving from the UAE where it’s really hot. But it’s a dream for any cricketer to play in England.”

Hinckley Town,  Worcester Fossils, Surrey County, Ketton Cricket Club and City Cricket Academy 40s will provide the opposition for Mammoths with captaincy duties being split between Rajesh Thadani, Navin Punjab and Sujit Salian over the five games.

“We have given the captaincy to different people over the tour to give them experience of leading a side in an overseas match,” added bowling all-rounder Pagarani, who is the owner of Yogi Group.

“We are all over the age of 40 and businessmen ourselves so playing cricket outside office hours is a great stress-buster for us.

“We will give it our best shot and we’ve fared quite well against English opposition in the previous years. We hope it’s the same again next month.”

Following their tour to Europe, Mammoths and Sindhi Cricket Club will travel to Mumbai and Pune in November, while a trip to Kenya is scheduled early next year.

“We’ll be going to Kenya in February 2018 for the first time where we’ll be playing three one-day matches.

“It will be another opportunity to enhance our knowledge and play in a country that we have not played in before.”

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