India keep hold of top spot in ICC Test Rankings

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Indian Test team: Numero Uno [Sportzpics]

India have retained their number one spot following the annual update of the ICC Test Rankings.

In a press release about the annual update, the ICC said: “Series results from 2013-14 are no longer included and outcomes from the 2015-16 series are weighted at 50 per cent.”

The update sees India gain one point, but the biggest benefactors have been South Africa who are now better off by eight points. The Proteas find themselves just six points behind India in the rankings.

Australia enjoyed a lot of success during the 2013-14 season as they whitewashed England 5-0 at home and then defeated South Africa 2-1 away, and with both series no longer relevant when it comes to the rankings, they have lost eight points.

Pakistan have fallen one spot to sixth in the latest rankings, having lost four points.

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Live cricket to return to free-to-air television in England

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Live international cricket is set to return to free-to-air television as part of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s new proposed broadcast deal from 2020, according to tender documents leaked to The Times.

A report in the newspaper on Wednesday morning provided remarkable detail contained in seven rights packages which it reveals have been sent to all leading broadcasters.

Package 3, exclusively for free-to-air television, contains two men’s Twenty20 international matches per season, one women’s Twenty20 and 10 – rather than the previously-suggested eight – fixtures in the ECB’s new city-based Twenty20 tournament, and up to eight in the women’s Super League.

The ECB had already broadly indicated a timeline for decisions to be made and an announcement on the new broadcast and streaming deals by this mid-summer.

But the Times report spells out a much more specific timeline for bids to be received and considered – including a one-hour window for submissions from broadcasters on the morning of June 28 2017 and then notification of an agreement on all packages over the following two days.

Live international cricket has not been broadcast in this country since Channel 4 covered the bulk of England’s famous 2005 Ashes victory – since when Sky has held all rights, including most recently in a £75million-a-year deal which is about to be superseded.

Sky can once again be expected to be a leading player alongside BT Sport for the international package, which the document stipulates will be one of three available for bids from all pay-per-view and free-to-air broadcasters. The other two are a package dedicated solely to new Twenty20 competitions and a range of highlights programmes.

Aside from the live coverage being offered to free-to-air broadcasters, the same companies are also invited to bid for all international highlights.

The BBC, which has not shown live international cricket since the last millennium but has since retained a significant broadcast presence through its Test Match Special radio coverage, is likely to find itself competing with rival bids from Channel 4, Channel 5, ITV and American cable company Discovery – through its free-to-air Quest channel.

The ECB, who confirmed in a statement last week that the bid process for the new deals to run from 2020 to the end of 2024 was under way and that non-disclosure agreements were stipulated to all parties, has declined to comment on the leaking of the documents or their contents.

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Bangladesh to provide highest level of security for visit of Australia

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High levels of security looked after England in Bangladesh last year.

Bangladesh will provide the highest level of security for Australia’s cricketers when they tour in August-September, organisers said on Wednesday, after a spate of recent Islamist attacks.

“What is usually reserved for a visiting head of state will be provided to them,” Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury told AFP.

He made the comments as Cricket Australia’s head of security Sean Carroll visited Dhaka to oversee plans for the tour, during which Australia are scheduled to play two Tests.

Australia have not played a Test in the country since Ricky Ponting’s team visited Dhaka in 2006, just six years after Bangladesh were granted Test status.

Australia were scheduled to play two Tests in Bangladesh in October 2015 but the tour was cancelled amid security fears after attacks by Islamist extremists in the Muslim-majority nation.

Australia also refused to send their junior team to last year’s Under-19 World Cup in Dhaka.

Bangladesh successfully hosted the England cricket team last year, drawing the Test series 1-1.

“We have guaranteed that the security, which was given to England cricket team last year, similar arrangement will be made for the Australian team,” Chowdhury said.

“If there is any additional requirement needed, we are ready to provide that.”

Bangladesh commandos disembark from a helicopter during a mock war game at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on October 6, 2016, a day before the first match between Bangladesh and the visiting England team. Security forces in Bangladesh, including the army commandos, on October 6 held mock war games at Dhaka's Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium ahead of the three-match one-day international series against England. / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Bangladesh commandos at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka in October.

Carroll visited Bangladesh in October during England’s month-long tour which came just months after an attack on a Dhaka cafe in which 22 people, mostly foreigners, were killed.

Bangladesh home minister and top security and police chiefs briefed Carroll on the planned steps for the tour on Tuesday.

“We are looking forward to working with the Bangladesh authorities and BCB to making sure there is very successful tour going ahead in August,” Carroll told reporters.

He said they were “satisfied” with Bangladesh’s security plans for England last year and were now working to ensure a “rigorous security plan” for Australia.

Source: AFP

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