Flower, Taibu rescue Zimbabwe
A brilliant unbeaten century by Middlesex batsman Owais Shah was the highlight of the final day in the drawn tour match with Zimbabwe at Shenley, England, on Monday.
Defeat stared Zimbabwe after they lost five wickets for 53 runs and were precariously placed at 140 for 5, but an unbeaten partnership of 81 by Grant Flower (43 not out) and young vice-captain Tatenda Taibu (37 not out) prevented an embarrassing defeat ahead of the second Test, which begins on Thursday.
Shah, who hit 101 off 80 balls, did enough to impress the England selectors. The 24-year-old hit four sixes and 13 fours before reaching 93 not out at lunch, and moved into three figures with two more boundaries soon after the re-start.
Middlesex declared, setting Zimbabwe 338 to win. The tourists got off to a good start as Dion Ebrahim and Mark Vermeulen put on 87 runs. However, after Vermeulen departed for 42, three wickets fell in quick succession. And when Ebrahim was out for 62, Zimbabwe were tottering. But Flower and Taibu steadied the innings to ensure a draw.
Caribbean officials regret stolen Australian gear
Caribbean officials regretted the theft of equipment from the touring Australian cricketers, but said that doesn't mean they're not ready to host the 2007 cricket World Cup.
"No one should doubt our ability to host a good World Cup," the assistant secretary-general of the Caribbean Community, Edward Greene, said on Monday.
"We have been looking at all aspects of what it will take to host a World Cup, and I can say that we are confident."
Trinidad's police and officials of the Caribbean's BWIA airline are investigating the May 26 theft, which is estimated to be worth thousands of dollars.
The Australian Cricket Board said some players' bags were tampered with after they were checked at the BWIA counter and that as many as 35 items went missing as the team was flying to Grenada for its last two internationals against the West Indies.
Australian journalist Trevor Marshallsea wrote that many Australian players were angry about the disappearance of $10,000 worth of gear. Police said they have yet to determine the exact value.
"The already slim hopes that the West Indies will host a smoothly-run World Cup in 2007 have also been further dented by airline delays, missing baggage and lax crowd control at grounds," Marshallsea wrote.
The article, which appeared in The Age newspaper of Melbourne and the Sydney Morning Herald last week, also described Trinidad as "a forgettable place if ever there was one".
In an interview with the Sunday Sun of Barbados, Marshallsea added, "I think there are going to be a lot of problems with the World Cup here."
The missing items included bats, pads, shoes, sunglasses and other personal items, BWIA spokesman Clint Williams said. Some bags were missing altogether.
"I am very sorry that this has happened because we have a lot of detractors and this only gives them a chance to say negative things about us," Chetram Singh, the Guyana representative on the Antigua-based West Indies Cricket Board, said on Monday.
"We should get our act together so we can shut up our detractors," he said.
Greene urged Trinidadian authorities to properly investigate and make corrections to avoid future problems.
"But don't write off the entire region," he said. "There were a lot of positives on the tour, some of which Australian captain Ricky Ponting mentioned on Sunday."
Ponting said that barring a few minor incidents, a particularly friendly atmosphere had prevailed.
'Zimbabwe not a team of yes men'
Zimbabwe Cricket Union chairman Peter Chingoka denied claims that members of the current Zimbabwean cricket squad were selected because of their political affiliation.
The Observer newspaper on Sunday had reported that several of the ZCU board were linked to Mugabe's Zanu-PF government and that the players had only been selected because they promised not to make trouble over the regime of President Robert Mugabe.
International observers have accused Mugabe's regime of rigging last year's general elections and perpetrating widespread human rights abuses.
The article follows earlier claims by former captain Alistair Campbell that the squad had been selected because they were "yes men" and captain Heath Streak, whose father, a white farmer, was detained for three days by the police last year and had three quarters of his farm seized under the government Land Laws, would not dare rock the boat.
Chingoka said none of the stories are true and denied the suggestion that this selection policy has weakened the team, which lost by an innings and 92 runs inside three days in the first Test with England.
"I denied this slur when we arrived in the UK on May 1 and have stated on many occasions since that the squad's selection is based on the identification of young talent and future cricketing potential," he said in a statement.
Chingoka said the only player left out who would have merited inclusion was Andy Flower, who retired from international cricket following the World Cup.
The ZCU supremo slammed former players who had made the claims about the selection policy.
"Recent players who have criticised the team should look at their own performances over an extended period of time as the real reason they were not selected," he said.
He also warned those people threatening to launch mass protests against the regime at the second and final Test, which starts on Thursday, to stay away.
Aussies stranded in Puerto Rico
The Australian cricket team's marathon stint on the road was extended by another day when the world champions were forced to spend a night in Puerto Rico, according to APP.
Just when the Australians thought they were on the way home after almost 10 months of playing and training, a plane delay in Grenada ruined their travel plans.
A mechanical fault caused a seven-hour delay while a mechanic, and eventually another aircraft, were flown from San Juan to collect the tired cricketers.
When they arrived in San Juan after a two-hour flight it was too late to make the connection to Los Angeles and then on to Sydney for a month's rest.
So baseball-mad San Juan hosted cricket's best team for a night, although the Australians had no fears of being recognised in the US protectorate.
They head for Los Angeles tomorrow morning and must then occupy themselves for 12 hours while waiting for the flight home.
The squad will now arrive in Sydney on Thursday morning, 24 hours after the scheduled arrival time.