Islamabad : Like life itself, and like most things in life, sports is also susceptible to evolution. In fact, it’s not uncommon in most sports for technical and stylistical developments to reach such a point that it renders one era almost unrecognisable from the other.
In the world’s biggest and perhaps the greatest sport – football – the evolution has seen full-blooded defending featuring flying tackles and generally rough tactics replaced by slick play and an increased emphasis on offense.
In basketball, the evolution is even clearer, with the quicker, pass-heavy style of play now reigning supreme as opposed to the conventional isolation schemes of the 90s.
Cricket, too, has undergone a transformation in the last 10 years, with much of its modern face attributed to the advent and subsequent popularity of T20 cricket.
It’s been well documented how the batsmen of the 2000s score runs at a frenzied pace and hit sixes more frequently than their predecessors ever did — or could.
But while that evolution on part of the batters has been highlighted time and again, very few have noted the changes on the other end.
The increased urgency to score in the batsmen has forced remarkable changes in bowlers as well. The 20th century needed its fast bowlers to live up to their names and be towering speedsters with matching attitude.
To be a frontline fast bowler then, the primary prerequisite used to be height — the longer the better. The West Indian pacers of the 70s, the Thompson-Lille duo out of Australia or the two Pakistan W’s of the 90s — all had all or either of height, pace or aggression in abundance.
That is no more the case in modern cricket. Bowlers these days aren’t man-mountains or 100 mile pace merchants. Instead, the bowlers today are more cerebral and reliant on how they control their delivery rather than how fast they can hurl the ball.
Mohammad Abbas — the rising star of Pakistan cricket in the five-day format — represents this shift in fast bowlers’ evolution like few others have.
The Sialkot-born does not have any notable physical gifts and he can barely hit 80 mph. He also appears to have a very calm demeanor and has not been tainted by the fame and glam that comes with stardom — at least not yet.
Such an unassuming personality he has that until 2016 very few even knew of him. For a talent this ready to go unnoticed until the age of 26 reiterates things about the system but also tells about his own way of being.
When back-to-back chart-topping performances in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy did get him noticed and earned him a maiden call to the Test side, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Few newbies have burst on the international scene like Abbas has.
Had Abbas been born 20 years earlier, he would have never made it to the national team, for which the criteria was for bowlers to bowl fast and have imposing, hostile personalities. But the fast bowler of 2018 is a much more cerebral animal – a role for which Abbas is perfect.
He bowls with dead accuracy, hits just the right areas long enough for the ball to extract any movement out of the pitch and do the damage.
A common theme across the globe has been to make sports more inclusive. The emergence of Abbas, Hasan Ali and other non-imposing pacers is perhaps cricket’s contribution in this regard.
I am the greatest player in the world: Gayle after announcing retirement
Dubai: West Indies swashbuckling batsman Chris Gayle, who recently announced that he would bid adieu to one-day internationals after the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup 2019 in England and Wales, has described himself as the “greatest player in the world”.
When quizzed if he is satisfied with his career, the 29-year-old said that he is a great man and that he would take the tag of the “Universe Boss” to his grave.
“You’re looking at a great man.I’m the greatest player in the world. Of course I’m still the Universe Boss. That will never change. I’ll take that to the grave,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Gayle as saying.
Looking forward to a fairy-tale swansong by winning the May 30 to July 14 showpiece event, the 39-year-old said that it is time to give opportunities to youngsters to come forward and show their talent.
“Yes, I’m looking to draw the line after the World Cup. Or should I say cut the string? Definitely, in 50-over cricket, the World Cup is the end for me. I’ll let the youngsters have some fun and I can sit back in the party stand and watch them have some fun,” Gayle said.
“Winning the World Cup would be a fairy-tale finish. The youngsters owe it to me to win. They have to do that for me and try and get me the trophy. I’ll be looking to put my input in as well,” he added.
However, it will not be an end of the international career for Gayle as he has not ruled out playing for West Indies in the ICC World T20 in Australia in late 2020, when he will be 41-year-old.
While stressing that his body is feeling good at the moment, Gayle further hoped to feature in England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) inaugural 100-ball competition in 2020.
“If I don’t start it, it won’t be a tournament. I guess England should invite me over. Then I’ll explode the tournament and say ‘thank you guys; bring in a youngster now.’ I’ll set the trend like I did in all tournaments around the world,” the Caribbean star said.
“I’m in good condition. The body is feeling good and I’m pleased with that. I’ve lost a bit of weight and I don’t want to get too big. I’m still working on my six pack. I’m trying to keep up with the youngsters in the field who are like cats the way they chase the ball. I still have it in me and I’m still enjoying it,”he continued.
Gayle, who made his debut in 1999 during an ODI series against Bangladesh, has appeared in a total of 284 matches in the 50-over format and scored 9,727 runs, including 29 centuries and 49 fifties. He also notched 1,607 runs in 56 T20Is and 7,215 runs in 103 Tests he played for West Indies.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean batsman is just 273 runs short of becoming the 14th man and second West Indies player to smash 10,000 ODI runs.
The part-time off-spinner, who has a total of 255 scalps to his name in the three formats, will look to reach the 10,000-run mark when he will lock horns with England in the five-match ODI series beginning February 20 in Barbados.
Covering of Imran Khan Pictures in India ‘Regrettable’, Says PCB
Islamabad:The Pakistan Cricket Board has said it will take up with the BCCI the “regrettable” removal of pictures of its former players at venues in India after the Pulwama attack.
PCB’s Managing Director Wasim Khan, in a statement issued , 17 February, said the issue will be raised during an ICC meeting scheduled to held in Dubai next month.
This comes after the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai covered a portrait of former Pakistan captain and present prime minister Imran Khan, as a sign of protesting against the ghastly attack , 14 February, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans.
“… covering or removing portrait of former Pakistan cricket captain and Prime Minister Imran Khan and other legendary cricketers from one of the most historic cricket clubs and venues are highly regrettable actions.”
In addition to CCI’s move, the Punjab Cricket Association too removed photographs of Pakistani cricketers from various points inside the PCA Stadium in Mohali.
Elsewhere, IMG Reliance announced its withdrawal as the official production partner for the Pakistan Super League to protest against the Pulwama attack.
“… we have always believed and emphasised that sports and politics should be kept separate. History tells us that sports, particularly cricket, have always played a key role in building bridges between people and countries.”
Reacting to IMG Reliance’s pull-out as broadcasters of PSL 2019, Wasim said: “We have been informed by IMG Reliance that they will be unable to partner with us for the remaining PSL 2019 and PCB has reserved all its rights. The PCB always had a contingency plan in place.”
Messi the only player in the world who can win a game on his own : Anderson
London: Former Barcelona striker Sonny Anderson says Lionel Messi can win any game on his own, but he understands why coach Ernesto Valverde has left him out of his team this season.
The Spanish champions are preparing to face another of Anderson’s former sides Lyon in the Champions League.
Messi has been left out of Valverde’s team on a number of occasions this term, most significantly for the Copa del Rey semi-final draw against Real Madrid earlier in February.
And ahead of Champions League last-16 first leg, Anderson was sympathetic with Valverde’s need to rotate his star man in order to get the best out of him.
In an exclusive interview with Goal, the Brazilian said: “Messi is one hundred per cent capable of winning any game on his own and at any moment he wants, and that is why he [Valverde] takes care of him at Barcelona.
“He wants him to be at his best. Barcelona will suffer a lot when he is not there, so I see very well that they take care of him.
“I fully understand that he was not in the starting line against Real Madrid, and that the team has the quality to play some games without Messi.
“But as a rule he [Valverde] has to try to get the most out of him because he is the only player in the world capable of deciding a game on his own.”
Barca go into the tie against the Ligue 1 outfit as favourites to progress, but to do so they will have to find a way past a team that has already got the better of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain this season.
Lyon edged through to the last-16 after finishing second behind City in the group stage, and needed a hard-fought draw against Shakhtar Donetsk on the final matchday to ensure progression.
“The Lyon game is more difficult than it seems,” said Anderson. “Already against Manchester City and PSG, they have made good duels this season. It is a team that usually improves when playing against the strongest in Europe.
“I think with or without Messi, it will be very difficult for them. Lyon can get a good result at home but at Camp Nou it will be very difficult for them to do what Messi does.”