Stories arrived by the heap from India’s tour of Sri Lanka on Wednesday (August 9), but there was more to the day than just the lopsided series in Sri Lanka. Match-fixing was back in the headlines with a number of newspapers calling for a more stringent approach. Elsewhere, the Committee of Administrators are all set to meet and decide on back dues to Mohammad Azharuddin, while some suggested ways to keep Test cricket relevant to this generation.
Overworked Virat Kohli deserves a mini break (The Indian Express)
The Indian selectors will meet in two days’ time to pick the squad for the five ODIs and solitary T20 in Sri Lanka. And if they aren’t planning to give skipper Virat
Kohli a break for the limited-overs leg of the tour, they might be well-advised to do so.
For, since the time the Indian team left for the Caribbean in July 2016 for a four-Test series, Virat Kohli has played a match nearly every third day. India have played 43 international matches across all formats, including the second Test against Sri Lanka at SSC, in that 12-month period and their captain has appeared in 42 of them — having missed the Test against Australia at Dharamsala owing to a shoulder injury.
Pujara has evolved as an exemplary No. 3 batsman (The Hindu)
The No. 3 slot in a batting order is extremely crucial. It demands the gift of stability, especially in case of early dismissal of one or both the openers. It needs to provide incremental growth if the top two set a fine base. The incumbent must also possess an air of serenity. These templates found an exemplary practitioner in Rahul Dravid and his is the benchmark that Cheteshwar Pujara is aspiring to reach. The weather-beaten boots that Pujara has stepped into had been occupied by two 100-Test-club men for over three decades — Dravid from 1996 to 2012 and Dilip Vengsarkar from 1976 to 1992. Pujara has the credentials to live up to that weighty legacy.
Tale of two allrounders (The Times of India)
Ravindra Jadeja may be missing out on the third Test against Sri Lanka beginning in Pallekelle on Saturday after being handed a one-match ban by ICC but there is no doubt his fortunes as a cricketer are on the upswing. After becoming the No.1 bowler in ICC charts in Tests during the England series at home early this year, Jadeja on Tuesday emerged as the top allrounder in the longer format, displacing Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan from the pole position. Eight years ago, Shane Warne had hailed a rookie Jadeja as a ‘rock star and future of Indian cricket’ after his exploits for Rajasthan Royals in his debut IPL season. The prophecy has turned true as the 28-year-old has emerged as a critical member of the Indian Test squad, especially in sub-continental conditions.
Finding the next Sri Lankan captain (The Indian Express)
A lush foliage of sprawling grandfatherly trees delinks the throbbing Colombo-Galle highway from the Tyronne Fernando Stadium, once an international venue but now in decrepit shambles, immune to the leaps to urbanity its Colombo cousins had taken. There is a sports shop, a dingy office room, a spacious ground well-canopied on the edges, and the Moratuwa Sports Club. The dimly-lit hall of the club stinks of cheap liquor and is strewn with cigarette butts. Apparently, at dusk it turns into a watering hole, the club’s oldies dusting up old memories. But now there is only Jayalath Aponso, the coach of Moratuwa Cricket Academy, his three friends and the bartender. All sober and quiet and leisurely, watching a six-a-side game on the poya day. The creases on Aponso’s forehead widen before in a low, stuttering voice he says, “You’ve come to meet Kusal’s coach?” After a half-a-second pause, he confirms with a welcoming nod. “I’m his coach.” Before he corrects himself: “(Rather), I was.”
Inconsistent standards mar demerit points system (ESPNcricinfo)
Sunil Subramaniam is a former Tamil Nadu left-arm spinner. He was also one of R Ashwin’s first coaches. In the middle of the Colombo Test, he took over a new responsibility, that of India’s senior men’s team’s manager. By the end of the Test, though, he would have been a perplexed man. After his first Test in charge, Ravindra Jadeja had been suspended for a Test for accumulating six demerit points, three of them for throwing a ball at the batsman Malinda Pushpakumara in “a dangerous manner”.
Moeen Ali is a force for good in troubled times (Daily Mail)
There is a lot of pride, as a former captain, in watching England win, as they did so well at Old Trafford against South Africa, but I don’t think I have ever been so proud as when I watched them after their fourth Test success. That pride came when Alastair Cook led the way in making sure Moeen Ali was included in all the celebrations and pictures, before the man of the series moved to one side to let his team-mates spray the obligatory champagne everywhere. It was clear the rest of the squad appreciated everything Moeen stands for, not just as an outstanding cricketer but also as a man of Islamic faith who has become such an important sporting figure in our country.
As long as our lawmakers keep ignoring the importance of laws to deal with match-fixing and its variants, no court in the land can convict any cricketer who might be involved in fixing. At the turn of the century, when the issue first shocked a nation, skipper Mohammed Azharuddin was among those banned by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. But it was quickly realised that there was no specific law to deal with fixing in sport.
The Committee of Administrators (CoA) will meet here on Wednesday to deliberate on BCCI’s response to the proposal to include the sport in the 2024 Olympic Games. The CoA will also take a look at many issues including revising the pay structure for domestic cricketers and former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin’s request to be paid his dues — one-time payment, benevolent fund and pension.
The insider knowledge to rattle Aussie psyche (Fox Sports)
If there’s any team in the world that knows how to get under Australia’s skin, it’s Bangladesh. The Tigers may not have firebrands like Ben Stokes and Virat Kohli on their side, but they do have a backroom with unique insight into the Australian psyche. In Chandika Hathurusingha, Bangladesh has a head coach who spent nearly three years as New South Wales’ assistant coach – including a short stint as interim head coach – between 2011 and 2014 and one season in charge of the Sydney Thunder. It’s never a bad thing to have a man on your side who has worked closely with five key members – captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner, pace spearheads Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, and spinner Nathan Lyon – of the opposition.
Test cricket is drowning and we’ve hidden the lifejackets (New Zealand Herald)
It might seem a curious time to announce this, with the foul weather yet to loosen its shackles, but now is the summer of our discontent. It is bad enough that test cricket is under attack from life itself – imagine sitting down now to try to invent a sport and proposing a game that would take five full days to compete – but its even worse that it’s being sabotaged by its custodians.
Why it is time to reduce Test matches to four days (The Telegraph, UK)
As Moeen Ali finished South Africa off for the second match in a row on Monday a half-full Old Trafford was left with a feeling of relief that this Test had not gone into a fifth day. Once England had set the tourists a ground-record run chase of 380 to win with nearly six sessions remaining, victory was inevitable for Joe Root’s men. A resolute fourth-wicket stand between Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis threatened to delay England’s celebrations overnight, but they both fell soon enough and the final day’s play was not needed as South Africa fell to defeat by 5.40pm on day four. This four-match series, played in the most English of summers, where rain played a typically prominent role, still saw only one match require the fifth day.