Mitchell Starc out of Australia white-ball tour of India

Start is one of the Aussies' key match-winners across all three formats of the game. (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2019
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Mitchell Starc out of Australia white-ball tour of India

  • Pace ace's muscle tear clean bowls part of his World Cup preparations.
  • Start joins other key bowler Josh Hazlewood on the sidelines.

SYDNEY: Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc has been ruled out of Australia’s Twenty20 and ODI tour of India with a “substantial” muscle tear, joining fellow quick bowler Josh Hazlewood on the sidelines.
Australia play two T20s and five ODIs against the Indians from later this month as part of an important build-up to their World Cup title defense in England this year.
But they will be doing so with a depleted attack.
Starc, man-of-the-match after collecting 10 wickets in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Canberra this week, will miss the series.
Hazlewood remains sidelined as he recovers from a back injury picked up in Australia’s Test series loss to India.
“Unfortunately, scans have revealed that Mitchell Starc sustained a substantial tear to his left pec muscle while bowling on the final day of the Test match in Canberra,” said national selector Trevor Hohns.
“This means he will be unavailable for the tour of India, but we will instead target a return to play for the ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE in March.”
Eleven of the 14 players that took on Virat Kohli’s men in a recent one-day series loss in Australia have been retained.
But veteran seamer Peter Siddle, fast bowler Billy Stanlake and allrounder Marsh were dropped, which has opened the door for pacemen Kane Richardson and Nathan Coulter-Nile, and hard-hitting batsman Ashton Turner.
“Kane has been in outstanding form over the summer, including his recent performances in the Big Bash League,” said Hohns.
“Kane not only has experience playing ODI cricket for Australia, but he’s also performed well for his country when given the opportunity.
“Nathan Coulter-Nile provides us with another quality bowling option,” he added.
“He brings good energy in the field and can also score runs in high-pressure situations.”
Hohns added that Western Australia’s Turner had been on his radar for some time and he now “has an opportunity to put his case forward ahead of the World Cup.”
With Hazlewood out, Pat Cummins was named co-vice captain alongside Alex Carey. Aaron Finch remains skipper.
Opener D’Arcy Short was included as cover for Shaun Marsh as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Short is expected to play in the two T20s with Marsh joining the squad following the birth of his second child.
“With the World Cup on the horizon, we see the ODI tours of India and the following tour against Pakistan as important windows for the squad to continue their preparations for our title defense,” said Hohns.
“We were really pleased with the progress we made during the recent ODI series against India, and we feel the progress is reflected in the squad selection, with only a couple of changes.”
The squad for the Pakistan series, that immediately follows India, will be named later with the possibility that Steve Smith and David Warner may be considered for the latter part once their bans for ball-tampering expire on March 29.

AUSTRALIA SQUAD FOR INDIA: Aaron Finch (capt), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Turner, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa, D’Arcy Short


Uruguay’s Indian cricketers searching for a permanent home

Updated 16 February 2019
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Uruguay’s Indian cricketers searching for a permanent home

  • Descendants of Indian immigrants carry banner for Uruguay in the cricket field

MONTEVIDEO: Every Sunday, close to a statue of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, a group of Indian ex-pats take over a patch of land in Uruguay’s capital Montevideo for a game of cricket.
Tucked in between the Rio de la Plata estuary and the long promenade known as the “rambla” that stretches from one side of Montevideo to the other, Avijit Mukherjee prepares to bat, watched eagerly by his Uruguayan girlfriend.
“I played in my country but with a lot more infrastructure,” said the 28-year-old Mukherjee, whose girlfriend Veronica is the main reason he has stayed in Uruguay.
“There are stadiums and many places to play in India, whereas here we only have one.”
Although cricket was first played in Montevideo by British expat workers even before the foundation of the independent republic in 1828, its practice died out in the 1980s.
But following an influx of Indian immigrants to Uruguay at the turn of the century, cricket steadily returned to Montevideo.
First there were one-off matches. Then, the players organized their own league and even set up a Uruguayan national team.
At the end of last year, Uruguay, whose team was made up almost entirely of Indian expats, finished second in the South American championships in Colombia.
While the cricketers are now established on their little patch of land, their initial appearance was not entirely welcomed by local footballers playing on an adjacent pitch.
“We came like spiders and rebuked them,” recalls Daniel Mosco, a local resident who has been playing football in that field for 30 years.
The issue was quickly resolved, though, and the cricketers agreed to start playing only once the football matches had finished.
With no fixed cricket markings, players use flour to draw white lines.
Now, bat can be heard crashing against ball until sunset.
Even though they’ve been here for years, the shouts of “howzat!” and “wait on” still elicit glances from locals making their way along the rambla.
They make a curious spectacle for people little accustomed with either cricket or India.
Mosco, for one, was surprised that the players speak to each other in English.
And there’s another surprise in the form of 29-year-old doctor Saied Muhammad Asif Raza: he’s from Pakistan.
“Between the governments and in (professional) cricket there are always problems, but the people get on really well and within the team the are no problems whatsoever,” said Asif.
He left his home town of Multan, 10 hours from Islamabad, at 19 and moved to Cuba thanks to a Fidel Castro scholarship.
After returning home, he found he couldn’t readapt to his own culture.
“I didn’t come here to find a better life economically, I had a better life in my country because in my family we didn’t lack for anything,” said Asif.
“The thing is that when you live many years away, nowhere is home, and cricket brings me close to it.”
Although now at home on their small patch, finding something more permanent is crucial to Montevideo’s cricketers.
“We’re looking for a permanent ground,” Beerbal Maniyattukudy, the Uruguayan cricket association’s secretary, told AFP.
“We have 120 players this year. On top of that we’re starting some women’s teams and for now we have 20 people interested. We also have plans for an under-15s league.”
The solution may lie with Uruguay’s most popular football team: Penarol.
Penarol started life as the Central Uruguay Railway Cricket Club (CURCC), founded by British railway workers in 1891.
It was a multisport club — but just over 20 years later, its football section broke off and was absorbed by a newly created team, Penarol.
The original club’s cricket section disappeared as football became the main focus — but it was relaunched a week ago.
And crucially, Penarol are planning to build a cricket pitch an hour outside Montevideo.
“When we raised the idea of cricket, there wasn’t much to sort out; everyone was aware of what it meant to the history of the club, we just needed to work out how to make it happen,” said Leonardo Vinas, who is heading up the project.
While many club members signed up to be involved, very few have ever played cricket.
Vinas says the project will take time, not just to spread interest in the sport, but also for the club’s staff to get their heads around the rules of the game.
“Even now, we’re still not clear about certain rules.”