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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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India’s I-League clubs propose unified 20-team top tier to include ISL franchises

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Mumbai : India’s I-League clubs have proposed a road map for a unified 20-team league next season featuring both I-League clubs and Indian Super League franchises.
The move comes as six I-League clubs say they will only play in the impending Super Cup if the All India Football Federation (AIFF) addresses their concerns over the league restructuring.
The I-League clubs have been worried that the league will be relegated to the second tier of the domestic game next season and be replaced by the more marketing-driven and Reliance-backed Indian Super League, founded in 2013 and modelled after cricket’s IPL.
Newly crowned I-League champions Chennai City FC, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Minerva Punjab, Aizawl FC, Gokulam Kerala, Real Kashmir FC, Churchill Brothers and NEROCA FC are behind the proposal of a merger of the concurrent leagues into a 20-team league.
They have approached the AIFF and president Praful Patel via a letter demanding assurances from Patel about next season’s league structure before committing to participate in the Super Cup.
“There will be 20 teams in the first division and a strong 16-team second division,” said Mohun Bagan director Debasish Dutta. “Every team will benefit and we have given a financial model so that it’s a sustainable project. Not like ISL (project) because they are suffering huge losses. We don’t want to lose ISL clubs, because they are supporting Indian football by investing money. They should stay!”
“We have handed the proposal with a covering letter. We are ready to play the Super Cup after the meeting and if at all it happens, the Super Cup should start from the qualifying round,” he continued.
Chennai City owner Rohit Ramesh said: “This is a good way to play as far as the sport is concerned. We aren’t omitting anybody, we want to play against everyone. But, it should be in a manner where the money we put in has to be got back in some time.”
The proposed league would run for nine months from September to May and include promotion and relegation from the lower division. The letter also outlined that the marketing would have to be done centrally and projected a growth in total sponsorship revenue up to 40,6 million euros (325 crores).
“The proposed 20 team revamped League, would have 380 matches,” read the letter. “We can take a conservative/practical approach and generate a total net sponsorship revenue to the tune of INR 325 crores (€40.6 million).”

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AIFF president Patel to meet I-League clubs in April

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Mumbai : The All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel has informed the I-League clubs that he will hold a meeting with them between April 10 and April 15 Goal can confirm. A suitable venue of the meeting will be confirmed later.
Patel has also urged the clubs to come out of their decision to boycott the Super Cup 2019 and take part in the competition. He has assured the clubs that a decision can be taken after mutually discussing the issue.
Nine I-League clubs had earlier unanimously decided to pull out of the Super Cup citing unfair treatment meted out towards them by the Indian FA.
Minerva Punjab FC, Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala FC had walked out of the qualifiers of the Super Cup which were scheduled on March 14 and March 15 in Bhubaneswar.
The clubs recently conducted a meeting where they prepared a roadmap for Indian football and informed the AIFF they are ready to take part in the Super Cup only after a meeting with the President of the AIFF.
The league structure suggested by the I-League clubs was that of a ‘unified top division league’ including all the Indian Super League (ISL) clubs and I-League clubs.
It will be interesting to see if Patel’s letter to the clubs will now bridge the gap between the federation and the nine clubs.
Praful Patel is currently in Kyrgyzstan as a part of his delegation for the FIFA council meeting.

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Opportunity for young guns to grab WC spots: Arthur

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SHARJAH: Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur is confident new players will grab the opportunity to fill a few available places for the ICC World Cup 2019 through the five-match ODI series against Australia.
Pakistan have rested six players — captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shadab Khan — to provide an opportunity to the other leading performers to stake a claim for the tournament to be held in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14.
Arthur believed it was a well-thought out and a sensible decision. “We designed this series for our players for the simple fact that we want to test our best bench players.
“There was planning, sometimes people think that its ad hoc. We want to test our bench-strength so that we could have a look at our final squad and combination. We know our major players for the World Cup.”
Openers Shan Masood and uncapped Abid Ali have been prolific scorers in domestic and ‘A’ series, while batsman Saad Ali scored more than 900 runs in the 2017-18 first-class season.
Paceman Mohammad Abbas is an established Test spearhead who has the knock of doing well in limited overs as well, while rookie 18-year-old Mohammad Hasnain has impressed with his pace in the recently-concluded HBL Pakistan Super League.
Umar Akmal has also been recalled after impressing with his match fitness in the PSL.
“After this series, we go to England and there we go with a very, very settled squad and the roles will be defined. We want to know where the squad stands. We felt that we have done everything possible to be the best possible prepared team for the World Cup,” Arthur remarked.
Pakistan also play five One-day Internationals against England before the 10-team mega event.
Arthur believes trying new players will help in long term. “For us, it isn’t so much about Australia, this is about us and those positions for the World Cup and the opportunity created for a lot of players because for us, we need to find who our players are for every position.
“If we could do that out of this series, then it would be good for us.
“To be honest, it’s a new squad. This is a series of opportunities. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work-out that a few positions are available for the World Cup. There are probably four available. [chief selector] Inzamam-ul-Haq and I have discussed that. So, these young players need to raise their hands up and try make those places their own. It’s an exciting time going into the World Cup.”
Arthur backed the decision to rest skipper Sarfraz Ahmed and five others.

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