Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt happy ICC is investigating T20 Ajman League

Denzil Pinto 31/01/2018
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Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt has said he played in the T20 league in Ajman and is happy that it’s being investigated by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after realising there “were a lot of flaws”.

On Tuesday, the ICC opened a probe into the T20 Ajman All Stars League, which was played last month after a video went viral on the internet.

In a series of clips from one match, televised on Neo Sports, batsmen, who have not been identified, appear to deliberately get themselves dismissed when attempting to run between wickets.

ECB confirmed the tournament was not “approved” and sanctioned by either themselves or the Ajman Cricket Council.

Butt, who served a five-year ban between 2010-16 for match-fixing, confirmed he played in two matches of the league.

“I went there as I was not picked for the national regions one-day cup by Lahore and I was doing nothing. But when I reached there I realised it was just an amateur level event which had no match referee, ICC anti-corruption representative or even scorers,” Butt told PTI.

“Since the spot-fixing scandal, I try to stay away as far as possible from any related controversies. I am happy the ICC is investigating the event because they were lot of flaws in it. But I played just two games and than went away to Dubai.”

He added: “They told me it was a private tournament and not sanctioned so no NOC was required to play. When I went there I realised it was just a badly managed street level event and it made no sense to me.”

Meanwhile, ECB board member Zayed Abbas reiterated they will always have a strong stance and not tolerate any suspicious activities in the UAE.

“There’s nothing I can add to this.  I don’t know what to say because this was unsanctioned cricket and not approved by Emirates Cricket Board,” he said. “Once we found out, we highlighted it and reported it to the ICC.

“When this incident happened, we took the right action and informed the authority and that was the ICC. This is the action we will continue to take every time. That’s the same as what any other cricket board would do.”

The Ajman Ovals, where the matches were played, is now longer affiliated to Ajman Cricket Council and Abbas reiterated it’s up to the Cricket Councils to be responsible for any matches played in their Emirate.

“The domestic tournaments are held under the Emirates Cricket Board. Some of the tournaments are done privately by private ground owners or organisations. Some of these things (unsanctioned cricket) keep on happening,” Abbas added.

“This one became a big issue because it was televised on some networks. Our authorities are already aware of this and the Cricket Councils are the ones responsible for cricket in their Emirate. Ajman Cricket Council took action with the rules being clear.”

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One Day cricket is killing the game - time to end the snore-fest

Alex Broun 29/01/2018
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As the song goes: “I don’t like cricket, I love it.”

But the ICC and tournament organisers across the globe are in danger of killing the golden – not to mention red, white and pink – goose.

There is simply too much cricket and with the never ending glut of meaningless matches across the world it won’t be long before audiences – followed by advertisers and broadcasters – start to switch off.

Few would argue there is too much cricket, which is clearly visible in the increasing injury rates suffered by elite players.

But what’s the solution? Cricket boards across the world need to pay their players and staff and to do that they have to play matches and sell broadcasting rights. They are going to hold on to every fixture with gritted teeth and clenched claw.

Try suggesting to the BCCI, India’s governing body, that they should drop a few fixtures from their list: you will get very short shrift indeed.

Driven by opportunism and greed, if something is not done the tournaments, tours and series will continue to multiply and soon players will play 365 days a year (366 in a leap year).

Wake me up when it's over.

Wake me up when this One-Dayer is over.

It’s time for the ICC to act and to cap the number of matches played by players. It happens in other sports – rugby, basketball, American football – so why not cricket?

The players are not machines and has been seen in tennis in the last few months, if over-used and unrested they will break down.

Before you throw up your hands and wonder how to ease the global congestion and which tournaments and tours to do away with, I have a very simple solution – phase out one-day cricket.

It is old fashioned, unnecessary and was doomed for the chop ever since someone came up with the bright idea of T20.

Cricket no longer needs three formats and it is the least popular format – 50-overs-a-side – that is in danger of killing the game.

Stop shaking your head and think about it – what other sport in the world has three different formats?

There are examples of two formats: football has 11-a-side and five-a-side and rugby has 15-a-side and the very popular sevens.

Rugby incidentally also has a 10-a-side version. You never hear of it because it never caught on and is completely unnecessary. The same will happen to one of cricket’s formats because it simply cannot sustain three different time spans.

Take the emotion out of it and think about it logically – the fall guy has to be one-dayers.

The Ashes was full of thrilling moments.

The Ashes was full of thrilling moments.

Tests are cricket in its purest form and nothing will ever replace the push and pull of two great teams over five-days (or nights) – as seen recently in South Africa and Australia. It’s timeless, classic – like Wimbledon, St Andrews.

T20s are the other end of the spectrum – biff and bash over a few hours. Perfect for families or those with a short attention span. Colour, movement, close finishes and lots and lots and lots of sixes.

One-day matches are… are… somewhere in the middle. Not as complex and challenging as Tests or as spectacular or exciting as T20 – and though they are only 50-overs-a-side they tend to drag and rarely have last ball or last over finishes – as so often seen in T20.

Why do you think T20s were conceived in the first place? Because one-dayers are boring!

And it’s not like phasing out one-dayers is anything new – 50-over cricket as a spectator sport is already dying. They just need to take it off life-support.

Don’t believe me? Try this quick quiz. What’s the name of the domestic one-day tournament in Australia? You’re thinking, do they even have one? Yes – it’s called the JLT Cup. It will take you a split second to name the T20 equivalent – the super-successful often sold-out Big Bash. (The final is on this Sunday.)

Another stunning catch in the Big Bash

Another stunning catch in the Big Bash

India has the mind-boggling lucrative IPL, what’s their one-day cup called? The Deodhar Trophy. Yep – I had to look it up too.

Look at what’s just happened in Australia. A pulsating Ashes Test series followed by a complete damp squib ODI snore-fest. And I’m not just saying that because Australia got hammered. Crowds at most games were less than half of the BBL taking place at the same time.

Same in South Africa – a thrilling three-Test series and now an absurd six one-dayers! Why? Get rid of those and they could have played a five-Test series which would now be deliciously poised at 2-1 to the home side with Virat Kohli’s India resurgent.

The answer for the ICC is clear. Get rid of the overlong and very boring 50-over World Cup, which runs for six-weeks (!), and instead replace it with a T20 World Cup. Similarly for the Champions Trophy – make it T20. More action, more drama – in half the time.

Players rest up more and thus perform better – and watch the crowds, ratings and sponsorship figures soar! Persist with one-dayers and the whole game will begin to suffer.

The goose will soon be cooked.

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Three things you should know about Australia's latest leg spin sensation Lloyd Pope

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Pope's 8-35 are the best figures in U19 World Cups.

Australia leg-spinner Lloyd Pope ripped the heart out of England at the Under-19 World Cup on Tuesday and propelled his team to the semi-finals after capturing 8-35, the best ever figures in Under-19 World Cup history.

What made Pope’s feat special was the fact England were 47-0 chasing a paltry 128 for victory and collapsed to 96 all out.

The 18-year-old South Australia leg-spinner is already being compared to the legendary Shane Warne, which is understandable as not many leg-spinners pick up eight wickets in a one-day innings. The leggie seems to have what it takes to be a top-class spinner.

Here are three things you should know about Australia’s latest spin sensation.

LLOYD’S FATHER PUSHED HIM TOWARDS LEG SPIN

Generally, it is coaches who ask young cricketers to pick disciplines after spotting certain talents at the nets. However, in Pope’s case it was his father Myles who encouraged him to try leg spin.

“We were living in Cairns and I was mucking around in the nets impersonating people and trying different things when Dad said I should try a few leggies,” Pope was quoted as saying by the Adelaide Advertiser. “I managed to turn the ball and he liked the look of them and convinced me to bowl some in my next game.

“I took six wickets (for Barron River), which was pretty good for an eight-year-old, and thought ‘this is all right’ so I’ve been bowling leggies ever since.’’

DOMINANT AT YOUTH LEVEL

Pope has ruled the roost in Australia’s underage championships. Over the last two seasons, Pope has taken 54 wickets at a fine average of 16.1 from 23 matches in three underage tournaments – one at Under-17 level and two at Under-19.

He also picked up 15 wickets in five games for Australia in an Under-19 series against Sri Lanka in April last year.

MORE RASHID KHAN THAN SHANE WARNE

One look at his bowling effort against England and you realise he bowls fairly quick and relies heavily on googlies, a lot like Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan. Click here to watch his wickets against England.

Four out of the eight wickets that Pope took against England were of googlies. His quick arm action make it that much more difficult to play the sweep shot against him. Interestingly, Pope has taken two wickets or more in six of his last eight limited overs matches.

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