Mohammad Azharuddin’s cautions MS Dhoni and Ravi Ashwin on academies

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Mohammad Azharuddin was in Dubai for the UAE-India Economic Form 2017.

It’s the season of cricket academies in the UAE. First India players MS Dhoni and Ravi Ashwin announced the launch of their academies in Dubai followed by former international Robin Singh.

Budding cricketers in the UAE will now have an opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade from some of the best in the business but former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin had a word of caution, saying academies shouldn’t select kids just to boost finances but should build towards producing quality cricketers.

Speaking at the UAE-India Economic Form 2017, Azharuddin said academies are mushrooming everywhere and it’s up to those running them to ensure only serious players are picked and then moulded into players who can represent their country or the level below.

“There are so many academies coming up all over. I know everyone wants to do well and gain financially, but at the end of the day academies are of no use if they don’t produce cricketers. Just having academies for the sake of it serves no purpose. I get invited to academies all over the world, but when I go there, (I get a feeling) they don’t want to produce players. I want it to stop,” Azharuddin said in Dubai.

“Anyone can open an academy but that is giving false hopes to the boys. I honestly feel if there is no skill in a boy, there is no point having him. There are some academies where boys play for four, five years. They know they can’t play. We can’t fool around with parents, with the boys’ careers. If they don’t have the skill, you can always tell them. For you own selfish reason, you can’t put a child’s career at risk.”

The former India skipper, who is also an active politician and was a member of the Indian parliament, said he is open to the idea of opening an academy in the UAE but will do it only when he gets a professional team in place.

“Academies should take kids who really want to play seriously and then produce players who go on to represent the country or the state. There are some academies who have 200, 300 kids. How are you going to help all of them?

“I don’t have any academy. If I can get good professional help, I will think about it. When I have an academy, I want to produce cricketers. If somebody is professional and wants to open an academy here in my name, I am more than happy to do it,” he added.

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Dinesh Chandimal ​says Sri Lanka's surprise two-match Test cricket win against Pakistan was down to witchcraft

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Dinesh Chandimal addresses the media in Colombo.

Sri Lanka’s surprise two-match Test cricket win against Pakistan this month was down to witchcraft, captain Dinesh Chandimal said Tuesday, drawing mockery on social media.

Chandimal told reporters he had received a special blessing from a meyni, or sorcerer, ahead of the two-match series in the United Arab Emirates.

“I am always ready to accept the blessings of anyone – whether it is a meyni or any clergy,” Chandimal told reporters after returning to Colombo.

“You can have talent, but without this blessing you can’t move forward.”

His comments came a week after Sri Lanka’s sports minister denied ordering the struggling national team to use witchcraft ahead of the Test series.

Dayasiri Jayasekara threatened to sue a sorcerer for claiming that at his request she cast a spell over Pakistan to ensure Sri Lanka’s victory.

Several Sri Lankan politicians, business leaders and sports stars put their faith in witchcraft or astrology.

Former president Mahinda Rajapakse took the advice of his personal astrologer before calling an election two years ahead of schedule in January 2015, only to lose badly.

Chandimal said the sorcerer he consulted was the mother of a friend, and he was willing to accept her blessings. 

But since the Test victory, Sri Lanka have fared less well.

They lost 5-0 in the subsequent one-day series against Pakistan and also went down in a three-match Twenty20 series.

Sri Lankan fans made fun of Chandimal and criticised his sorcerer online, with many calling her a fraud.

“You made predictions, tied talismans, held poojas, but finally we were humiliated,” posted one social media user.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Stuart Broad not rising to David Warner's declaration of 'war' ahead of Ashes

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England paceman Stuart Broad is refusing to rise to Australia opener David Warner’s declaration of “war” as Joe Root’s men prepare to fly out to defend the Ashes.

The pugnacious Warner said earlier this month he would “dig deep to get some hatred” for the England team ahead of the series, adding: “As soon as you step on that line it’s war.”

Like Warner, Broad is familiar with the hostilities of the old rivalry but as England prepare to head Down Under, he is keeping calm.

“I don’t have to hate them,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “It’s a game of cricket, not war.”

The Australian public, urged on by coach Darren Lehmann, heckled Broad throughout the 2013-14 series over his failure to walk for a clear nick in the previous series in England – during which Warner was the designated villain after throwing a pre-series punch at Root.

“Actually I loved that trip, I liked the pantomime villain stuff,” said Broad.

“As a cricketer it was as close as you get to being a footballer playing away from home. (Lehmann) needed something to unite the public and media behind the Australian side and he chose me.”

Stuart Broad was the pantomime villain during England's last Ashes tour.

Stuart Broad was the pantomime villain during England’s last Ashes tour.

It was football that provided Broad’s inspiration on that tour as he drew on another fierce rivalry – former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira’s animosity with Manchester United counterpart Roy Keane and manager Alex Ferguson.

“Because I knew it was coming, I prepared for it,” said Broad. “I read Alex Ferguson’s book about how he’d once told Patrick Vieira, who’d had dog’s abuse from the Old Trafford crowd, ‘they wouldn’t be abusing you if they didn’t respect you’.

“Whether Aussies meant it that way, that’s how I decided to take it. They were only doing it because they were scared of me.”

Australia captain Steve Smith has targeted England’s inexperienced batting line-up this time around, with Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan in line to feature in the top five while doubt surrounds the participation of all-rounder Ben Stokes for disciplinary reasons.

But Broad said: “When you go to Australia you have to have a genuine belief in your team that you can win. And I have that. I believe we can win.

“The (Andrew) Strauss-led side that got to number one in 2011 was the most efficient, disciplined group I’ve ever played with, but this team now is the most exciting.

“Moeen (Ali), Jonny (Bairstow), Stokesie: you don’t know what will happen. But something will. True, we’re not as consistent. But we can win games out of nowhere.”

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