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.
Stokes, Hales fined but free to play for England
London : All-rounder Ben Stokes and right-hand batsman Alex Hales were fined for their involvement in a nightclub altercation but were cleared to play for England after match bans were either suspended or declared served.
The duo had appeared before a two-day disciplinary hearing after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) charged the pair with bringing the game into disrepute following the September 2017 incident in Bristol.
Stokes was handed an eight-match ban by the disciplinary panel, which accepted that he had already missed that number of games and, therefore, remained eligible for immediate selection.
The player, who was cleared of affray at Bristol crown court last August, was also fined a total of 30,000 pounds ($38,193.00) with half to be paid to charity.
Hales, who faced no criminal charges, was given a six-match ban from England white-ball (one day) matches, of which two had been missed already and the rest were suspended for 12 months — leaving him also available for selection.
He was fined a total of 17,500 pounds, with 10,000 of that sum also suspended.
The pair, who have both resumed their international careers, had risked anything from a warning to the termination of contract.
Each was charged with two counts of breaching an ECB directive concerning acts “which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any cricketer or group of cricketers into disrepute.”
England take on West Indies in three Tests, five one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals from January to March.
Stokes had been accused of knocking out Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale in a brawl in Bristol, southwest England, just hours after he had played in a one-day international against the West Indies in September last year.
His lawyer had said in a statement after he was cleared of affray that the case had cost the player the England vice-captaincy as well as his place on an Ashes tour to Australia and other England matches.
“Cricket and family are my life,” the 27-year-old Stokes said in a statement on the ECB`s website.”This incident has been a huge burden for the last 15 months. I am relieved to get back to playing the game that I love without this hanging over me.Although the disciplinary process is now over, I have learned lessons that will stay with me for much longer,” he added.
Guardiola confident Man City will not face Champions League ban
London : Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he has received assurances from the club`s hierarchy that they will not be banned from the Champions League over allegations of a breach of UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
European football’s governing body are investigating allegations made in German publication Der Spiegel last month that City`s Abu Dhabi owners inflated sponsorship agreements in order to comply with FFP requirements.
In response, Premier League champions City said information had been “hacked” and that they were victims of an “organised and clear” attempt to damage the club`s reputation.
Punishment for clubs found guilty of breaking the rules could extend to being excluded from the Champions League.
Guardiola, appointed with the task of trying to win Europe`s biggest club prize, said he was calm about the situation.
“We will not be banned, no. That`s what I think because I trust in my chairman (Khaldoon al-Mubarak), with my CEO (Ferran Soriano), what they have explained to me. I trust in them,” the Spaniard was quoted as saying by British media.
“If it happens, because UEFA decide that, we will accept it and move forward.”
Der Spiegel`s report, based on documents received by the whistle blower platform Football Leaks and reviewed by Reuters, in partnership with European Investigative Collaborations, a network of international media, alleged that some of City`s Abu Dhabi sponsorships were three times more lucrative than independent experts deemed they were worth.
City said the claims were “erroneous conclusions and assertions.”
KU students bags gold medal in 4th International Thang Ta Championship
Srinagar: Adil Pervaiz Wani -a student of The Business School (MBA-FM) University of Kashmir brought laurels to the Varsity by winning Gold medal in 80+kg weight category in 4th International Thang Ta Championship held at Imphal Manipur after defeating the counterparts from Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand and eventually Russia in the finals.
A felicitation ceremony was organised by Directorate of Physical Education and Sports University of Kashmir to honour Adil Parvaiz for shining the name of University at international level.
Dr. Nisar Ahmad Khan, Coordinator Directorate of Physical Education and Sports KU voluntarily presented cash prize as a goodwill gesture for encouragement to Adil Parvaiz and praised his efforts and performance at international level.
He also assured all possible support to him and other athletes in future too.
Dr Khan appreciated the efforts of State Thang Ta Association for deputing him for the event and supporting talented students who excel at National and International level.