Cricket Buzz: Amla is South Africa's new Test captain
Hashim Amla was named the new captain of South Africa's test team on Tuesday, the first non-white cricketer to hold the post permanently.
Cricket South Africa had identified Amla, one-day skipper AB de Villiers and Twenty20 leader Faf du Plessis as the potential successors to Graeme Smith, who retired from the international game in March.
Having initially ruled himself out, Amla had a change of heart in recent weeks and will now lead the side to Sri Lanka for a two-match series next month.
He becomes the fifth captain of the Proteas since South Africa were readmitted to international cricket in 1992, following Kepler Wessels (1992), Hansie Cronje (1994), Shaun Pollock (2000) and Smith (2003). Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince have also done the job in a stand-in capacity.
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Image: Hashim Amla of South Africa
Photographs: Morne de Klerk/Getty Images
PCB to award central contracts based on fitness
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will introduce penalties and points system for its players who will be given fitness-based central contracts for this year.
Fitness-based contracts would mean that players who have achieved highest level of fitness points will be placed in the highest category while their performances in the last six months would also be taken into consideration.
"Basically instead of seniority now the main emphasis for issuing central contracts is fitness and performance," a PCB official told PTI.
"This is the main reason why the board has delayed naming the 22 players who will be given central contracts for this year. They wanted to wait and see the performance of the players in the summer training camp in Lahore which winds up this week," the official said.
"The camp commandant, Muhammad Akram has already submitted fitness reports off all the players to the national selectors. He has also suggested that while awarding the contracts the players whose fitness level needs improvement should be given time specific tasks."
He explained the move was to set targets for players to achieve certain fitness levels in a fixed time frame.
"Players who doesn't work or improve on their fitness in the targets given to them will have to face deductions in their monthly retainers. For example if a player has secured eight points in the fitness table he will be asked to improve this by two points in next three months. If he doesn't succeed there will be deductions in his monthly retainers."
He said this system was being put into place to encourage players to improve their fitness and performances.
Interestingly the two most fittest players in the summer camp held in scorching weather, have turned out to be the two senior most players -- captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who has turned 40, and Younis Khan, who is close to 36 years.
The PCB has already announced pay hikes between 20 to 30 percent in the players' central contracts and match fees but have yet to release names of the players who will be awarded these contracts.
The PCB, through Muhammad Akram, has laid lot of emphasis on fitness in the summer training camp. The national selection committee headed by Moin Khan is due to meet soon to finalise list of 22 players who will be given the contracts.
Most of these players are also expected to be in the squad that will go to Sri Lanka in August.
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Image: Pakistan cricketers
Photographs: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Christchurch to host Boxing Day Test
Christchurch's Hagley Oval will get the first trial of its upgraded facilities ahead of next year's World Cup with a Boxing Day Test match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, the country's cricket board said on Tuesday.
New Zealand's second-largest city, still recovering from a devastating earthquake in February 2011, will host three pool matches for the Feb. 14-March 29 World Cup, which is being co-hosted by Australia.
HagleyPark was only given approval by the Environment Court last August, after games had been allocated by World Cup organisers, and officials have been working to ensure the venue is ready for the Sri Lankan tour to Test its developed facilities and match-day processes.
The venue will host the first of two Tests between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, starting on Dec. 26, and then a one-day international between the sides on Jan. 11 as both teams finalise their preparations ahead of the World Cup.
The will face each other again at the ground in the World Cup opener a little over a month later on Feb. 14.
"Bringing international cricket back to Christchurch was always a priority for NZC (New Zealand Cricket)," head of cricket Lindsay Crocker said in a statement.
"And we feel the Boxing Day Test was a good way to celebrate what will be a very special landmark."
Crocker added that two Twenty20 internationals scheduled for Sri Lanka's tour had been exchanged for additional one-dayers because of the World Cup.
"The original agreement with Sri Lanka provided for a five-match ODI series and two T20s - but by mutual agreement, again with the (World Cup) in mind, we chose to play seven ODIs," Crocker said.
The elongated One-day series, three 50-over matches against South Africa in October and two more against Pakistan shortly before the World Cup will also allow the country to Test all seven of their venues for the global tournament.
"Three very competitive opponents, the chance to play at all our World Cup venues, and to take the team around the country -- we think this offers a good lead-in to the (World Cup)," Crocker added.
New Zealand schedule:
Oct. 21 v South Africa, 1st ODI, Tauranga
Oct. 24 v South Africa, 2nd ODI, Tauranga
Oct. 27 v South Africa, 3rd ODI, Hamilton
Dec. 26-30 v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Christchurch
Jan. 3-7 v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Wellington
Jan. 11 v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Christchurch
Jan. 15 v Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI, Hamilton
Jan. 17 v Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, Auckland
Jan. 20 v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Nelson
Jan. 23 v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Dunedin
Jan. 25 v Sri Lanka, 6th ODI, Dunedin
Jan. 29 v Sri Lanka, 7th ODI, Wellington
Jan. 31 v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Wellington
Feb. 3 v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Napier
Image: A general view of Hagley Oval in Christchurch
Photographs: Joseph Johnson/Getty Images