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I always feel so welcome in India: Brett Lee

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New Delhi: Former Australian pacer Brett Lee, who is a popular face on Indian television, wants One-day international (ODI) cricket to return to the days when totals in the range of 250-280 were considered competitive. And for that to happen in today`s “batsmen friendly” game, pitches that give bowlers something to work with have to be curated. He says he always feel “so welcomed” in India which has accepted him “as part of its own”.
“What the bowlers need are the wickets. They have to get wickets that (are) not totally flat (batting tracks) where someone scores 400 or someone gets a 450 score… I still think that a 250-280 score, max, is a good total,” Lee told IANS on the phone from Sydney.
Earlier this month, England made 481 for six against Australia in an ODI, drawing negative reactions from Indian cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.
Tendulkar has also called the ICC rule of using two new balls in ODIs as “a perfect recipe for disaster”. What`s Lee`s take on it?
“I don`t think there`s an issue if they use one ball in 50 overs or two balls. Having two new balls in one day cricket can assist the bowlers,” said the 41-year-old, explaining that a 25-over-old ball can aid conventional swing.
However, he said the negative of using two balls is that “it doesn`t get old enough for reverse swing”, which he said is a “very important tool” for bowlers today.
Considered one of the most successful bowlers for Australia (718 wickets/2,728 runs), Lee said that to make the game “bowler friendly”, it`s important to ensure a conducive pitch with “good grass coverage”.
“That for me is the easiest way to do it… I`m not saying have an actual green top, but just have something for the bowlers to work with,” said the brand ambassador of Vitamin D friendly sunscreen Solar D which has been launched in India through Amazon India.
As someone who loves India, its culture and people, Lee has been closely associated with philanthropic efforts in the country.
“Every time I come to India, I feel like I am a part of this beautiful country. I feel so welcomed. India has accepted me as part of its own, which I am so humble and so grateful for.”
This latest association — to do with a product that lets through some of the UVB light that the body uses to produce Vitamin D while providing sun protection — he says is one way of “giving back” to people as it concerns their health and well-being.
“People are increasingly looking out to take care of their skin. When people use sunscreen, they think they are protecting themselves from skin cancer. Yes, you are. But you are also blocking out the good stuff that your body needs.
“Your body needs some sunlight in order to make Vitamin D,” he said, expressing concern about how children are preferring to remain indoors and indulging in computer or phone games instead of playing outdoors.
“This epidemic of people being obese, overweight and unhealthy needs to change. If everyone remains indoors and does not step out and breathe fresh air, take in a bit of sunlight… their body will not be physically fit. It`s like charging the battery for your phone. If we don`t go out and charge our bodies with natural sunlight, we`re going to end up with Vitamin D deficiency.”
Skin awareness, he said, is “extremely important”, and something he was taught as a child. Now he hopes to spread awareness about it.


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Focus on short formats alone will lead to problems: Virat

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Adelaide: Virat Kohli is peerless in ODI cricket but he has a priceless message for youngsters — focus on limited-overs formats shouldn’t be an “excuse” for not being able to cope with the challenges of Test cricket. The world’s No. 1 batsman with 25 Test hundreds warned that youngsters will have mental problems if they don’t embrace the pristine form of five-day cricket. “If we focus too much on shorter formats — yes, they’re important — but if we solely focus and look at them as an escape or an excuse to not be in the kind of situations that Test cricket presents, then I think there will a mental problem with upcoming cricketers,” said Kohli.

The Indian skipper, who has played defining knocks against world class bowlers like Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Mitchell Starc and Kagiso Rabada during the past year, spoke about the hard work that goes into the making of a quality Test player.

“As long as you’re willing to wake up every morning for five days and do the hard yards and go do the dirty work — if you’re willing to bat for two hours and not score a run for the team — I think that is what people should prepare (youngsters for),” he said.

 

Kohli said the current batch of Indian Test cricketers was trying to set an example for the younger generation. “That (vision) will require the team to lay out certain things that needs to be done and for the next lot to keep following. So (when) the next lot comes in, they have to maintain that vision and then the people coming in will follow.”

Kohli has reaffirmed his commitment towards Test cricket, saying he wants India to become a superpower in the game’s longest format. “I wouldn’t say a goal but I would rather speak of a vision, which is for India to be a superpower in Test cricket or a very, very strong side in Test cricket in the years to come,” he said.

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Ganguly backs Pandya and Rahul, says ‘humans make mistakes’

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Mumbai:Former Indian cricket team skipper Sourav Ganguly has defended cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, following a controversy over their appearance on a television chat show. The former skipper and legendary cricketer defended the players, saying, “people make mistakes but everyone should move on and ensure it doesn`t happen again”.

Asked if modern day cricketers should be responsible while giving statements on a public platform as a whole lot of youngsters look up to them, Ganguly said “I haven’t watched that episode. I feel that you can’t generalise that only modern day cricketers should behave responsibly. People make mistakes. Let’s not get too far into that. I am sure whoever has done it will realise that and come out as a better person. We are all human beings. We are not machines that everything you put in comes out perfect. You have just got to live life and let others live. They are responsible people. They may be role models but they are under pressure all the time to perform. Certain things happen in life and as everyone, we should move on and make sure that it doesn`t happen again.”

When asked if he feels modern day cricketers of India aren’t responsible in their behaviour as compared to the past generation of cricketers, Ganguly said “I feel modern day cricketers are also responsible, disciplined and obedient. In life, certain things happen and you make some mistakes so, let`s not get too far into that.

 

Look at Virat Kohli, he is such a fantastic role model. India is a fortunate country. Every generation produces players who all of us cherish.”

He said India has produced great cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli over the years.

“There was Sunil Gavaskar and when he retired, people thought who is next, then Sachin Tendulkar came and when Tendulkar retired, people again asked who is next then people saw Virat Kohli. So, we are a very fortunate country in terms of sports and a lot of these cricketers are fantastic human beings because they come from very middle class backgrounds and fight their way up.”

Ganguly made the remark while speaking at the trailer launch of the Hindi film “22 Yards”, with the cast members Barun Sobti, Geetika Tyagi, Chaiti Ghoshal and director Mitali Ghoshal on Wednesday.

On questioned, about who he would like to see playing his role, if a biopic is made on his life, Ganguly replied “It is difficult for me to answer that question because I haven`t thought about a biopic on my life. People should first make a biopic of other sports personalities and if people have an interest in my biopic, then we will see.”

He added, “I really liked the biopic of Milkha Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The film on Sachin Tendulkar was a bit different. Now, I have heard that the film on India`s 1983 World Cup win is being made. I feel that was a great time for Indian cricket, so I am looking forward to see that film. As far as my biopic is concerned, we will wait and see as at the moment I haven`t thought about it.”

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Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech to retire at end of season

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London: Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech announced that he will retire at the end of the season.

The 36-year-old, who won four Premier League titles with Chelsea, revealed his decision on Twitter.

He wrote: “This is my 20th season as a professional player and it is 20 years since I signed my first professional contract, so it feels like the right time to announce that I will retire at the end of this season.”

 

The Czech, who arrived in the Premier League with Chelsea in 2004 and moved to Arsenal in 2015, added: “Having played 15 years in the Premier League and won every single trophy possible, I feel like I have achieved everything I set out to achieve.

“I will continue to work hard at Arsenal to hopefully win one more trophy this season, then I am looking forward to seeing what life holds for me off the pitch.”

Cech joined Arsenal in 2015 and has made 129 appearances for the Gunners after winning multiple trophies at rivals Chelsea.

Signed from Rennes by Claudio Ranieri in 2004, Cech won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the Champions League, the Europa League and three League Cups with the Blues.

Cech suffered a serious head injury in 2006 following a collision with Reading’s Stephen Hunt.

Hunt’s knee crashed into Cech’s head, leaving him with a fractured skull, but he returned to action four months later wearing what became his trademark protective headgear.

Cech became the first goalkeeper to keep 200 Premier League clean sheets in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Watford last season, during which he saved a penalty from Troy Deeney.

He is also the Czech Republic’s most capped player, making 124 appearances.

Cech is no longer first choice at Arsenal, with Bernd Leno preferred for most of this season so far, but the club were quick to pay their own tribute.

Arsenal tweeted: “For your consummate professionalism, for being the perfect role model, for the 50 clean sheets, for your honesty, your integrity and for your inspiring work with @AFC_Foundation, we want to say … Thank you, @PetrCech!”

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