Give cricket a chance, says Pakistani captain Latif
Pakistani captain Rashid Latif said on Thursday that early resumption of bilateral India-Pakistan cricket matches could play a big role in easing tension between the two neighbours.
"Let's give cricket a chance," said Latif.
"India and Pakistan should regularly play cricket to lessen the tension. The more we play each other, the better for both countries."
India have not played a Test in Pakistan since 1989, while Pakistan played three Tests in India in 1999-2000.
"I feel sports, especially cricket, is the best way to normalise relations between India and Pakistan," said Latif.
The Pakistani captain said he felt the rival players as well as fans would be under less pressure if the two teams met regularly on the cricket field.
"There is always pressure on cricketers in India-Pakistan games because they don't play regularly. Fans' expectations in both the nations are also high," said Latif.
"Fans should treat each contest between the two sides only as a cricket match and this is possible if there are more games between the two on regular basis."
Latif said the two nations have a lot of things in common and it is really unfortunate that they cannot play cricket.
"We share a lot of things, including language. Even our style of play is more or less the same," he said.
Wish I had met P C Sorcar before World Cup final: Ganguly
Even 52 days after the World Cup final defeat to Australia, Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly is yet to overcome the heartbreaking experience.
Ganguly's frustration, though expressed light-heartedly, came out at Kolkata on Wednesday night when he met legendary magician P C Sorcar Junior at a function and exclaimed,"Wish I had met him a day before the final!"
Meeting for the first time, the master sorcerer and the elegant southpaw presented a glorious photo opportunity for attending lensmen.
"Ganguly is the P C Sorcar of cricket. His bat spins magic," complimented the conjurer, who had made the Taj 'vanish' for some moments before an awed audience.
The programme, 'An Evening with Sourav', saw the Indian skipper fete eight budding sportspersons from poor families.
"I wish they attain success in life. On my part, I am prepared to do whatever I am asked to help them," a moved Ganguly said.
Ganguly, an avid soccer lover, also took the opportunity to congratulate National Football League champions East Bengal's coach, Subhash Bhowmick, for his team's scintillating performance in the just-concluded season.
"People have been congratulating me for India's performance in the World Cup. But when I saw Bhowmick here I felt that he deserved the honours," he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, effusive in his praise, said Ganguly had taken Indian cricket to new heights through his leadership abilities.
The eight youngsters honoured by Ganguly were presented cheques of Rs 10,000 each, trophies and sports kits by Bengali sports magazine Khela, organisers of the programme.
Ganguly was felicitated with a giant World Cup shaped bouquet and a trophy, dhoti and kurta.
The "Prince of Kolkata", wife Dona and daughter Sana were presented diamond rings.
Bengali thespian Soumitra Chatterjee and a galaxy of leading sportspersons graced the function.
McGrath vows to clean up act
Glenn McGrath conceded that he needs to clean up his act on the cricket field but refused to blame sensitivity about his wife's illness as the reason for his tirade with Ramnaresh Sarwan in the final Test against the West Indies.
The ace Aussie paceman told The Daily Telegraph he is determined to overcome his tendency to explode on the field, adding he's more conscious of his behaviour and responsibilities since becoming a father.
Teammates say McGrath's furious response to a routine sledge by West Indies batting hero Ramnaresh Sarwan may have been due to heightened sensitivity about being away from his family.
The big fast bowler said he soon realised he had overreacted to Sarwan's comments but declined to use his wife's health issues as an excuse for his behaviour.
"I've felt pretty terrible so I don't want to feel that way again," McGrath said.
"I have worried about it quite a bit over the last few days."
"It has affected me. I feel like I am more quiet than I normally am. I would like to have a time machine and change the things I haven't been happy with."
McGrath, 33, a gentle giant off the field known for his big heart and adoration of his family, lost control of his emotions when he thought Sarwan had made a remark about wife Jane, who recently began treatment for cancer.
In Sydney, Jane McGrath said she had spoken to her husband about his feelings in the wake of the Test match incident.
"We have spoken about it ... we just want to put it behind us," she said.
"Sarwan was batting very well to say the least," McGrath said. "I could sit here and make plenty of excuses but it still doesn't justify why it happened."
"Playing for my country still means a lot to me. I play with a lot of passion. I try not to cross the line too often, but occasionally I get quite frustrated."
"It's something that I have worked on quite a bit, especially since becoming a father. I am a little disappointed in myself that I did do it."
McGrath and Sarwan apologised to each other the following morning and both teams were clearly on good terms when they shared the same flight to Jamaica to prepare for Saturday's one-day series opener.
No pressure on paceman Akhtar, says Pakistan skipper
Star Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is not feeling the pressure in the triangular one-day cricket series despite being threatened with the axe, skipper Rashid Latif said.
"I don't think he (Akhtar) is feeling any pressure in this series. Other players have taken the pressure off him," Latif said on Thursday.
Akhtar, one of the fastest pacemen in the world, was warned by his country's cricket chief Tauqir Zia that the Sri Lankan tri-series would be the last chance to revive his career.
He was one of the eight players dropped after Pakistan's early exit from the recent World Cup in South Africa before being recalled.
The fast bowler responded well in his first match of the current tri-series, grabbing two crucial wickets for 19 runs in eight overs to set up his team's 79-run victory over Sri Lanka.
Akhtar, 27, bowled well in the second game also, against New Zealand, but failed to get a wicket.
"He has bowled impressively in both the matches and proved that he is still one of the best strike bowlers in the world," said Latif of Akhtar, who has been dogged by bowling rows, injuries and disciplinary problems.
"This tour could be the turning point of his career," said Latif.
"He is a match-winner and we'd like him to keep a low profile. We've told each player not to fear failure, but to play positive and competitive cricket. So I don't think he (Akhtar) is under pressure to deliver."
Whatmore sees difficult but attainable task ahead
As the new coach of the Bangladesh team that has not won a match in about four years, Dav Whatmore has acknowledged his job would be a difficult one - but remained confident of achieving success.
Whatmore, a Sri Lankan-born Australian, said his first task would be to restore confidence in the team that has been on a losing track since gaining test status in 2000.
"I will emphasise individual improvement, which will have an overall effect on the team's performance," Whatmore told a news conference on Wednesday in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka. He said his philosophy was progress-oriented rather than result-oriented.
Whatmore arrived Monday on a five-day familiarisation visit to meet with players and officials and check out facilities.
He has signed a two-year contract with the Bangladesh Cricket Board and will take over as national coach from June. His contract may be extended until 2007 World Cup if things go well, a top Bangladeshi cricket official said earlier.
The new coach's first challenge will be to prepare the Bangladesh team for its Test tour of Australia in July.
Whatmore will be Bangladesh's fifth foreign coach in as many years. He replaces Pakistani Mohsin Kamal, who was fired after Bangladesh's dismal World Cup performance in South Africa early this year.
Bangladesh has lost 18 of its 19 Tests so far, drawing only one rain-hit match with Zimbabwe. It has lost 35 consecutive limited-overs matches, including four in the tri-nation series tournament with India and South Africa in Dhaka last month.
Whatmore guided Sri Lanka to its winning 1996 World Cup campaign and to the semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup.