Morne Morkel signs two-year Kolpak deal with Surrey

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Surrey have signed South Africa’s fast bowler Morne Morkel on a two-year deal, the club confirmed on Tuesday.

Morkel retired from international cricket after the fourth and final Test at Johannesburg against Australia. In the eventful Cape Town Test though, he claimed his 300th Test victim. He played in 86 Test matches, 117 One-Day Internationals and 44 T20 Internationals for the Proteas.

Surrey’s opening County Championship game of the season is scheduled for April 20, against Hampshire, although a left strain side strain might stop Morkel from taking part in the opener.

Morkel is the latest addition to the list of players who have signed the Kolpak deal with English counties recently. But unlike Hampshire fast bowler Kyle Abbott and Essex all-rounder Simon Harmer, the 33-year old has took the decision during latter stages of his career.

Morkel should also be a welcome addition to Surrey’s squad after Australia’s Mitchell Starc pulled out due to an ankle surgery and Tom Curran was picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders for the IPL.

Speaking after signing the club contract, Morkel said, “It is a real honour that Surrey have asked me to join their club after my retirement from international cricket,” as quoted on Surrey’s official website.

“I’ve got fond memories of playing at The Kia Oval and am looking forward to settling into London with my family for the summer, making new friendships with teammates and hopefully great memories on and off the field.”

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Freddie Flintoff suggests all Australian team knew of ball-tampering in the Tests against South Africa

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Starc and the other Australian bowlers had success in the first Test.

Andrew Flintoff has hit out at “nonsense” suggestions knowledge of Australia’s ball-tampering scandal was limited to banned trio Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

Former England all-rounder Flintoff has criticised the one-year bans to former captain Smith and former vice-captain Warner and the nine-month suspension for Bancroft as overly-harsh.

The Australia trio were banned after admitting tampering with the ball in the third Test match of South Africa’s three-one series victory.

Flintoff feels convinced other Australia players would have known about plans to tamper with the ball, while he also revealed sympathy for the banned trio.

“I am struggling to think that not everyone knew,” Flintoff told BBC Radio 5 live.

“I might be completely wrong but you talk about it. You talk about how you are going to treat the ball. The ball in cricket is so important.”

“To say that a bowler has got a ball in his hands, or anybody else in the field does not know that this ball has been tampered with is absolute nonsense,” Flintoff added.

“You talk and talk and talk about how you’re going to look after this ball. To then say that other people didn’t know – if that’s the case I feel sorry for Mitchell Starc.

“He’s got the ball in his hands. He’s running in thinking he’s Wasim Akram – this ball is moving everywhere.

“He is thinking: ‘I’m cracking it here, I’m doing something which is unbelievable.'”

That being said, Flintoff felt the bans on the three players were harsh.

“The crime doesn’t warrant that.

“One of the things which has really annoyed me is I’ve seen people raising their profile on the back of other people’s misery.

“Some of them are in glass houses – don’t be chucking your stones, lads. We’ve done a few things which aren’t particularly in the rules – not as bad as that – and it changes.

“Then I saw Steve Smith on TV crying his eyes out, so upset, and I put a tweet out saying: ‘Are you happy now? Is that what you wanted?'”

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Red Bull Campus Cricket tournament has history of unearthing new stars

Nick Watkins 10/04/2018
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The Red Bull Campus Cricket tournament kicks off this week.

The UAE’s best young cricketers are preparing for the big stage as the Red Bull Campus Cricket tournament comes to town.

College students have the chance to showcase their skills in the international competition, which has previously unearthed talent for the professional ranks.

Played around the world, the event is the only global T20 cricket tournament for students and features participation from over 250 teams. The UAE qualifiers begin this Thursday with 10 universities from the region looking to be crowned champions.

The tournament is a great hunting ground for the Indian Premier League as teams will have an eye on emerging talent from the UAE. Previously, the IPL’s Gujarat Lions signed Dubai’s Chirag Suri after he impressed in the tournament. Suri was just 10-years-old when he moved to the UAE from India and went on to represent the UAE’s under-19 side in 2014, scoring 50 runs against New Zealand.

Suri grabbed the opportunity to play in the Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals in Sri Lanka last year. While there, he developed his skills and mixed with the likes of Sri Lanka batsman Niroshan Dickwella, and the pair became good friends.

“We’re friends now but I had a bit of a go at him once,” recalls 23-year-old Suri, “which happens when things are very competitive, but it was all in good spirit. It’s pretty incredible to see how many players are coming through these leagues, and going on to become IPL cricketers or international cricketers.”

The international spectacle has also seen the rise of Indian stars KL Rahul – who hit the fastest-ever IPL half-century for Kings XI Punjab on Sunday – and Karun Nair, who both went on to feature in the India national team after catching the eye during the event.

Other Red Bull Campus Cricket alumni include Shardul Thakur, Manan Vohra, Siddhesh Lad, Himanshu Rana, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Anukul Roy, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ricky Bhui.

Roy featured heavily in India’s playing XI at the 2018 Under-19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand. The left-arm spinner helped India Under-19 win the title and emerged as the joint-highest wicket-taker at the tournament with 14 scalps. Rana also featured in the team and played his part to help the Indians lift the trophy.

Teams quality to compete in the annual event by winning national qualifiers to then represent their countries at the World Finals. Heriot Watt University have won the previous three tournaments in the UAE.

Universities competing:

Heriot-Watt University
American University of Sharjah
Birla institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS PILANI)
Amity University
Manipal University
Skyline University
Rochester Institute of Technology
Emirates Aviation College
University of Wollongong
Middlesex University

Qualifiers: April 12th
Quarter-finals: April 13th
Semi-finals & finals: April 14th
Location: Eden Gardens Ajman

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