England were ‘curious’ about potential Australia tampering, says Alastair Cook

Cameron Bancroft was the player who executed Australia's attempt to alter the condition of the ball. (AFP)
Updated 25 April 2018
0

England were ‘curious’ about potential Australia tampering, says Alastair Cook

  • England batsman wondered how Aussies got the ball moving in Perth
  • Cook accepts 'people do make mistakes'

LONDON: Alastair Cook has revealed England’s players were “curious” about Australia potentially engaging in ball-tampering during the recent Ashes series.
Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were hit with long suspensions by Cricket Australia after they plotted to use sandpaper on the ball in their third Test with South Africa last month.
The shamed trio claimed that was their first instance of ball-tampering.
But the spotlight has now been put on the Ashes, with television footage since emerging of Bancroft putting sugar in his pocket.
Australia’s consistent ability to get reverse swing had England’s bowlers scratching their heads during their 4-0 series defeat.
Cook was part of the England side and he admitted on Tuesday that there were questions among his squad about the third Test in Perth.
Asked at a Chance to Shine event in Tunbridge Wells whether England suspected Australia of ball-tampering during the Ashes, he said: “Yes a little bit, certainly in Perth when the outfield was wet with rain they got the ball reversing.
“I didn’t see anything. We have been pretty good at managing the ball to see if we can get it to reverse swing but then there’s the thing with the quicker you bowl the ball it reverse swings more.
“That was the thing in 2005, we had Simon Jones and Freddie (Andrew Flintoff) who were quicker than the Australian bowlers.
“We have to be very careful, we were curious at certain moments but then we couldn’t get the ball up to 90mph where they consistently could.”
Australia’s actions in Cape Town were widely criticized, with Smith and Warner both receiving year-long suspensions.
Cook insisted that should be a timely reminder for the game to be played in the right way.
“It’s not for me to comment on punishment, but the whole thing is a reminder that people want to see,” he said.
“It’s the same with cycling, that whoever is playing that people play in a fair way. If you try your hardest and there’s no external things that you win or lose that way.
“It’s amazing the public outcry for that.
“Sometimes with the pressure of playing, and it is so important to you and it’s your livelihood, sometimes winning or losing can overtake things.
“It’s wrong for everyone to sit in the cold light of day and criticize because people do make mistakes.”


Benevolence, not bluster: How ‘Brand Salah’ bucks the trend

Updated 24 May 2018
0

Benevolence, not bluster: How ‘Brand Salah’ bucks the trend

  • Mohamed Salah lines up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday
  • Mohamed Salah has been unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region

LONDON: On Saturday Mohamed Salah will line up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
He will do so not only with the every member of the Red army behind him, but also the entire Arab world.
That is testament to his stratospheric rise — over the past nine months the Egyptian ace has gone from being a very good player, but one deemed as needing to justify his $52 million transfer fee, to a global superstar and cultural phenomenon.
As with any sporting star, with the adulation and attention comes potential pitfalls and, invariably, a new lexicon. So it was not surprising to hear the 25-year-old speak of “his brand” when he was unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region on Wednesday. Stars becoming brands is almost cliche now and one that Salah has clearly taken on board — he now has even his own logo.
“We are proud of him. Over the past two years, no has done what he has done. He has proved himself as one of the best and we wanted to deal with no one else, just him,” CEO of DHL in the Middle East and North Africa, Nour Suliman, said. “He is competing on another level and is the star of the Arab world. No one in the Arab world has done what he is doing. We are very proud to have him.”
Those types of corporate events, where a big multinational signs a deal with the latest big, young thing, lend themselves to the odd dollop of hyperbole. But there is little doubting the impact Salah has had on the pitch for Liverpool and Egypt, and off it in becoming a true Arab icon. And his utterance of the word “brand” is where Salah as a walking cliche begins and ends.
Every year in Egypt ahead of Ramadan the best dates are named after the most popular person in the country — the man or woman revered by the nation at that moment. In the past, the staple food of the holy month has tended to be named after political leaders.
This year there was no competition: The most succulent date has been named after Salah. At the DHL press conference he was presented with a packet of dates emblazoned with his face and name.
It said much about the man that he both looked and confessed to being “embarrassed.”
This week the British Museum in London displayed Salah’s green football boots as part of its Modern Egypt exhibition. And in a documentary about the player broadcast in the UK, he was credited with increasing attendances at England’s oldest mosque in Liverpool and improving the image of Islam by Dr. Abdul Hamid, a trustee at the mosque.
So while the signing of big deals hints he is very much the modern-day footballing superstar, everything else off the pitch suggests something else.
Salah is on social media, but does not, like many sports stars, live on it; he knows he is a hero for many, but pays more than mere lip service to his position as a role model; and he embraces attention (of both opposition defenders and fans) rather than seemingly getting annoyed by it if things are not going his way.
“I am not heavy into social media, I am on it and aware of it, but I don’t follow it that closely. It does not influence me,” he said.
“I am aware young people look up to me and I feel great that they do and that I can influence a young footballer to play better or train harder, or do better; that that makes me proud.”
This season Salah has done what few footballers have done before, transcend the game, and he has done so in a way characterized by benevolence rather than bluster.
Against Real Madrid he can again illustrate just what a talent he is — and if he does lead Liverpool to their sixth European Cup triumph, you get the feeling he will not let the adulation go to his head.