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March 28, 2003 16:57 IST
Surprise World Cup semi-finalists Kenya will replace South Africa in next month's Sharjah Cup, a cricket official said on Thursday.
"We have consulted with the sports minister and we've been told we can go ahead because other countries are participating," said Jimmy Rayani, chairman of the Kenya Cricket Association. "The players are happy to go."
The tournament's organisers, the Cricketers Benefit Fund Series, invited Kenya and Zimbabwe to play in the US$ 250,000 event after South Africa withdrew because of security concerns prompted by the US-led war in Iraq.
South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were supposed to play in the tournament which was originally scheduled for April 1-10. CBFS was forced to postpone the starting date to April 3 after South Africa's withdrawal on Monday.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have since reconfirmed their participation.
Zimbabwe, which finished last in the Super Six stage of the World Cup, has yet to announce its decision on the Sharjah Cup.
After having played a stellar role in India's World Cup campaign, pace spearhead Javagal Srinath said he will give a "serious thought" on his future plans -- whether to continue playing or retire.
The experienced speedster, who played in all the 11 matches and captured 16 wickets for an impressive average of 23.06 in the World Cup, hinted that he would like to take his time on deciding his future.
"I need to go back home and give a serious thought (on retirment)", Srinath told reporters shortly after reaching his hometown Bangalore on Thursday alongwith vice-captain Rahul Dravid.
Unlike the other members of the Indian team who returned home to a tumultous welcome in Mumbai on Tuesday, there were not too many fans nor mediamen to greet the two stars as they made a quiet entry into their hometown.
The 33-year-old Srinath, who had come out of retirement at the behest of captain Sourav Ganguly, said it was a "satisfying" experience for him and the team but "it was unfortunate that we could not win the World Cup".
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and left-handed batsman Dinesh Mongia arrived in Chandigarh on Thursday to a warm welcome by the fans.
Mongia, who faced flak from the media for his unimpressive batting at the World Cup, was subdued in his response and made a quiet exit.
Asked to share his maiden experience of the games premier event, Mongia said, "It was great a feeling. It is really an honour to have represented the country at the highest level."
Unlike Mongia, who made a quiet entry to his Sector 40 residence in Chandigarh, Harbhajan was welcomed home amid the beating of drums.
Although it was the seamers Javagal Srinath, Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan who proved to be India's strikeforce in South Africa, the 'Turbanator' too was among wickets with a tournament haul of 11 for 335 at 30.45 from 10 matches.
Trinidad's former Minister of Sports Manohar Ramsaran has congratulated India for its stupendous performance at the recent World Cup in South Africa.
"Although they were beaten by Australia in the final, India played attractive and excellent cricket throughout," Ramsaran, a Member of Parliament for Chaguanas, said.
"I am sure I speak on behalf of the Indian diaspora worldwide when I say I was extremely proud of India's performance.
"Though the West Indies, our glamorous and exciting regional team, left early, I thought the Indian team was followed with keen interest," Ramsaran added.
India, after an unimpressive start to their campaign when they struggled to beat Holland and were thrashed by Australia in the group stage, rallied to win eight consecutive matches before being steamrolled by the Australian juggernaut once again in the final.
Bowler Shayne O'Connor, considered a likely prospect for New Zealand's team to tour Sri Lanka, announced his retirement from international and first-class cricket on Thursday.
The 29-year-old O'Connor said his "massive decision" to retire resulted from the uncertainty over selection and income, the reluctance to make long tours and the continuing toll on his body.
"There is the waiting around on selections to see what happens and the influence they have on my career and income. There are the ups and downs which go with them," said O'Connor. "I've just had enough of dealing with those.
"I've had enough of pushing my body in training and I feel I have to do that to be good enough. I've lost the desire to go on long tours and to put up with some of the conditions they have to."
O'Connor said he had not spoken to the national selectors but he had informed New Zealand Cricket chief executive Martin Snedden of his decision to retire.
"I never wanted to be just a first-class cricketer -- I always wanted to be an international cricketer," he said.
"I definitely think I had at least another year in me at international level," he said. "But I've got an opportunity to get a business up and running in Alexandra and, hopefully, that's going to set me up for the rest of my life."
O'Connor and his wife, Camille, plan to set up an accommodation lodge in the Central Otago town where his wife's family lives.
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman David Morgan will on Saturday attempt to save Zimbabwe's tour of England from May to July.
Morgan will speak at a board meeting of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) just over a month after England controversially boycotted their World Cup fixture against the Africans in Harare on security grounds.
There were fears that the failure to play the February 13 game in Harare would spark a retaliatory boycott by Zimbabwe.
By the ECB's own estimates that could cost them as much as 10 million pounds (16 million dollars).
Zimbabwe Cricket Union chairman Peter Chingoka has acknowledged a commitment to tour has already been made, but warned the final decision could hinge on the meeting with Morgan.
"We had already committed ourselves that we would undertake the tour mid-last year, and the ECB had already sold television and other rights basing it on our written commitment," he said.
"Saturday's meeting is routine. But the issue of our tour of England is an emergency item on the agenda, and we have accommodated Morgan's address."
Zimbabwe are scheduled to play two Tests and a triangular one-day series in England.
The West Bengal government has lined up a mega felicitation for India skipper Sourav Ganguly, vice-captain Rahul Dravid and star batsman Sachin Tendulkar at a function to be attended by legendary cricketer Kapil Dev and his 1983 World Cup-winning team on April 4.
Making the announcement, state sports minister Subhash Chakraborty told reporters that while Ganguly had confirmed his participation at the function, talks were on with Kapil Dev and the rest of the players.
"Ganguly has taken the responsibility of talking to Dravid about the function. Kapil Dev is out of the country and as soon as he gets back, we will finalise the rest of the formalities," Chakraborty said.
The minister said the function would honour India's brilliant performance in the just-concluded World Cup.
The hour-long felicitation programme, to be also attended by West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee and Kolkata Mayor Subrato Mukherjee, would be organised at the state-run Netaji Indoor Stadium, he said.
Champion Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne, who exited the World Cup in shame after testing positive for a banned drug, was given a hero's welcome by the youth in a South African township despite common perception that his popularity had suffered due to his off-field indiscretions.
Hundreds of young boys and girls packed a plaza in the township of Phoenix, just north of Durban, to get Warne's autograph and to interact with him and discuss the intricacies of the game.
A school teacher, S Naicker, who accompanied the young brigade, said they were not too concerned about the recent drug problems that have forced Warne out of the game for a year or the other scandals involving the cricketer.
"This is a wonderful occasion for our kids," Naicker said.
"The principal and I agreed that the children would be inspired by Warne. He is an icon of world cricket.
"Anyway, it took an Australian sports star to take the trouble of coming here. We never see our South African heroes in Phoenix. And the drugs he took were not performance enhancing, so what is the problem?"
Warne has been invited by Corporate Sport to speak to business people and to visit some of the disadvantaged townships in order to promote the game.
Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly said the team is looking forward to play the March 29 charity cricket match in Mumbai to raise money for the Dinanath Mangeshkar hospital.
Tendulkar and Ganguly, during a tele conference with former Board of Control for Cricket in India chief Raj Singh Dungarpur at a function to announce Airtel's sponsorship of the match, said Indians are looking forward to play Sri Lanka in the day-night limited overs match for the cause.
The money collected would go to Mangeshkar hospital, built in memmory of singing sensation Lata Mangeshkar's father in Pune.
"In fact, a couple of years ago when Sourav and I visited the hospital, we had promised Lataji that we would play to raise money for this great cause and we are happy that we are doing our bit," Tendulkar added.
Ganguly said, "It is an honour to be associated with Lataji and the whole team is looking forward to do its bit for a noble cause".
Dungarpur, praising the Indian team's performance in the just-concluded World Cup in South Africa, where India lost to the Aussies, said: "The boys put up a fine show, winning eight matches in a row and I think this is (India's) best one-day side ever."
Yuvraj Singh, who arrived in Mumbai from Johannesburg on Tuesday and stayed back for the function, said: "The World Cup was a very good experience for the youngsters particularly, and if our bowlers could have restricted the Aussies to 300 runs then the result could have been different."
True to expectations, the World Cup final between India and Australia last Sunday broke all attendance records in South Africa, with more than 32,000 fans turning up to watch the high-profile game.
World Cup organising comittee chief Ali Bacher said in a press statement that a total of 32,827 people attended the final at The Wanderers in Johannesburg, which was the biggest crowd even seen for a cricket match in South Africa.
The previous record attendance was 31,500 for the opening round match between South Africa and New Zealand, at The Wanderers, on February 16.
Bacher said a total of 626,845 cricket followers attended the 52 matches and the opening ceremony.
"This represents 76 per cent of our total capacity, and we are delighted at this attendance," he said.
"We would like to thank the South African public and the thousands of visitors from abroad for their fantastic support of the tournament."
A probe into match-fixing allegations against top Pakistan all-rounder Wasim Akram took a new turn with the Inquiry Officer withdrawing from it at the last minute.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has subsequently adjourned the hearing on the appeal filed by Akram to review match-fixing allegations against him.
The decision to adjourn the proceedings was taken after Inquiry Officer Zakir Khan, also the General Manager (Cricket Operations) of PCB, expressed his inability to conduct the hearing, saying Akram is a close friend, Samiul Hasan, General Manager of the Board's Media unit, said in a statement from Lahore.
"I have played international and domestic cricket with Wasim Akram. And in this background, I think it is morally unethical to be an Inquiry Officer for his case because I might not be able to do justice," Zakir Khan told the Board.
PCB Chairman Lt Gen Tauqir Zia has accepted Zakir's request saying, "One can only appreciate the gesture of Zakir Khan."
Sri Lanka is awaiting re-confirmation of the troubled Sharjah Cup cricket tournament due to be held in the United Arab Emirates, cricket officials said in Colombo on Thursday.
Sri Lanka are hoping that the tournament will go ahead and had informally received confirmation from the other participating nations that the series is on, a Board source said.
"We have tentatively been told that the others in the series are taking part," the source said. "But we are awaiting a firm confirmation from the organisers."
The Sharjah Cup, involving Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa, is to take place in Sharjah from April 1 to 8. However, South Africa refused to travel to the United Arab Emirates because of the Iraq war.
South Africa is to be replaced by Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Tournament organisers -- Cricketers Benefit Fund Series (CBFS) -- had hoped that the event could be switched to an alternative venue, and officials had been quoted as saying Sri Lanka was a possibility.
But Sri Lanka cricket board officials ruled out the possibility of the tournament being hosted in Sri Lanka.