Happy Birthday: Ponting, Benzema, Sanchez

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Ponting, Benzema and Sanchez celebrate their birthdays today.

Australia has produced a number of world-class cricketers and Ricky Ponting certainly falls into that bracket.

Celebrating his 42nd birthday today, his potential was there to see when he hit 96 on his Test debut against Sri Lanka in 1995.

The batsman continued to go from strength to strength with the bat and was later given the captaincy in 2001.

The then-skipper led the Aussies to World Cup glory in 2003 and 2007, while his Test side continued to dominate in the longer format.

Although they lost the Ashes in 2005, his men regained the urn in style with a 5-0 series whitewash in 2006-07.

Having retired in 2012, he goes down as one of the most successful captains of all time, with 48 victories in 77 Tests, and is one of four players to have scored 13,000 Test runs in 168 matches.

1966: Alberto Tomba, ex-World Cup alpine ski-racer and three-time Olympic champion (50).

1979: Rafael Soriano, former pitcher, who played for Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs (37).

1987: Karim Benzema, French footballer who plays for Real Madrid (29).

1988: Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal and Chile forward and two-time Copa America winner (28).

Most popular

Related Sections

On this Day in 2010: Tendulkar makes history yet again

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Tendulkar as he reaches his milestone.

Sachin Tendulkar set another milestone on this day six years ago as the ‘Little Master’ became the first batsman to score 50 centuries in Test cricket.

Facing South Africa at the Centurion, the then 37-year-old, who had hit a six just moments earlier, reached triple figures with a single off Dale Steyn in what was his 175th Test.

He later dedicated the feat to his father, who died in 1999.  “It was his birthday yesterday and I wanted to do something in his honour,” he said.

The Indian icon would go on to score another 18 Test half-centuries before retiring in 2013.

In the same match, Rahul Dravid also became the third batsman to cross the 12,000 Test runs mark.

1983: The original FIFA World Cup trophy, the Jules Rimet Trophy, is stolen from the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro.

1984: Wayne Gretzky, 23, becomes the 18th and youngest NHL player to score 1,000 points.

2003: Graham Henry is appointed the head coach of the New Zealand rugby team.

Most popular

Related Sections

The power struggle behind Kuwait's sporting exile

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Kuwaiti Olympians competed as independent nations at Rio 2016.

Over a year ago, world sports bodies led by the International Olympic Committee and world football’s FIFA suspended Kuwait over alleged government interference in sports for the second time since 2010.

According to world sports organisations, the suspension was due to legislation issued in 2014 and 2015 allowing the government to interfere in local sports federations and undermine the independence of the sports movement.

As a result, the wealthy emirate was barred from taking part in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

Shooter Fehaid al-Deehani, who won a gold medal, the first ever by a Kuwaiti athlete at the Olympics, had to compete as an independent and was not allowed to carry his country’s flag due to the ban.

However, that could change after Kuwait’s new parliament — elected last month with opposition MPs taking nearly half the seats — called on the government “to do what is necessary to lift the suspension on sport”.

In a possible sign of progress, Information and Youth Minister Sheikh Salman Humoud Al-Sabah told MPs last week that the government was ready to sit down “with FIFA or any other side provided that does not breach Kuwait’s sovereignty or constitution”.

Two rival groups appear at the heart of the crisis in the emirate that has a population of 4.4 million, only around 30 percent of whom are nationals.

On one side stand Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, one of the most powerful men in world sport, his younger brother Talal, other brothers and supporters who control most of Kuwaiti sports clubs and federations.

Opposing them are the government, some other members of the ruling Al-Sabah family, Marzouk al-Ghanem – a senior member of a wealthy merchant family and speaker of parliament – and other supporters.

A neutral group appears to have emerged in the new parliament pushing for an end to the suspension.

“The problem of sports in Kuwait is that it is being used as a tool in the power struggle,” political analyst Nasser al-Abdali told AFP.

“Groups within the ruling family are using sports in their internal disputes,” said Abdali.

Huge public funds pumped into sports could also be a factor, according to Abdali, who heads the Kuwait Society for the Promotion of Democracy.

The sports authority said last year that the government spent 400 million dinars [Dh4.8billion] on sports in the past five years.

Sheikh Salman had directly accused “Kuwaitis in international sports” of causing the suspension through complaints they sent to world sports bodies.

Members of the previous pro-government parliament, dissolved in October, explicitly accused Sheikh Ahmad and his brothers of engineering the suspensions. They have repeatedly denied the allegations.

The old parliament passed legislation in June boosting the government’s influence in sports which was used by the government to dissolve the country’s Olympic committee, the football federation and several other federations, both headed by Sheikh Talal.

“The problem is that some [former] MPs and the government have passed legislation designed to bring down Sheikh Ahmad and his brothers from local sports,” leading Kuwaiti sports journalist Faisal al-Qanai said.

“Those laws are personal and violate international sports charters,” Qanai, vice president of International Press Sports Association, told AFP.

Besides holding high-profile positions in the world of sports, including membership of the IOC executive committee and FIFA ruling council, Sheikh Ahmad, 53, is a senior member of the ruling family.

He is among dozens of ruling family members who qualify to ascend to the top post of emir in the future.

A nephew of the current emir, Sheikh Ahmad held several ministerial posts between 2001 and 2011 when he quit.

Local media reported that was the result of a power struggle with the then prime minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Sheikh Fahad’s cousin, who also resigned five months later.

“The main objective was to remove Sheikh Ahmad from the government and from the ruling hierarchy because he is powerful and highly competent,” said Qanai, who is a close associate of Sheikh Ahmad’s family.

Leading Kuwaiti sports critic Mutlaq Nassar however argues that the new laws do not contradict international sports charters.

“Legislation was introduced to reduce the influence of corrupt forces and reform the sports movement which was being misused for personal gains,” Nassar told AFP.

Nassar said that people like Sheikh Ahmad exploited their influence in world bodies to suspend Kuwaiti sports.

Qanai however said that “all Kuwait needs to do is to amend the violating laws and the suspension will be lifted within 24 hours.”

Most popular