Women seek their place in the sun at World Cup

Updated 31 January 2013
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Women seek their place in the sun at World Cup

MUMBAI: The women’s World Cup opens in Mumbai today with the cricketers hoping to put aside memories of an unsettling build-up and gain recognition in a country where the men’s game reigns supreme.
Barely a week before the start, the International Cricket Council was forced to revise the schedule because of security concerns surrounding Pakistan’s participation in Mumbai where the entire tournament was to be played.
All group B matches, featuring Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, were shunted to the cricketing backwaters of Cuttack following threats from the right-wing nationalist Shiv Sena party to disrupt matches in Mumbai.
Pakistan will remain in Cuttack if they qualify for the second round, but will still have to travel to Mumbai if they make the final at the Braboure stadium on Feb. 17.
Indian captain Mithali Raj said she was disappointed that the Pakistani team had attracted protests.
“I personally feel that politics should not be involved in sport,” Raj told AFP.
“Sport is more about entertainment and a fun-loving atmosphere. So we should not be getting too many political issues into it.”
Preparations were also disrupted when the hosts made Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium, venue of the men’s World Cup final in 2011, unavailable at the last minute.
Three grounds in Mumbai will host group A, involving defending champions England, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and hosts India.
The players have taken the disruption in their stride and are excited about the tournament, which was first played in 1973, two years before the men’s World Cup was inaugurated in 1975.
“I think it is safe to say that the women’s game today is unrecognizable from when I started in 1997,” said England’s captain Charlotte Edwards, set to appear in her fifth World Cup.
“We are attracting loads of young girls who want to play the game. We have changed people’s perceptions about women’s cricket a lot. Hopefully this tournament will be another step in hammering that message home.”
One of the players to watch in the 10th edition of the tournament will be England wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor, who reports say could play alongside the men in Sussex county’s second XI this year.
India’s Raj, preparing for her fourth World Cup, hopes women’s cricket will finally take off in her country where some of her male counterparts are national icons.
“Indian society is still not forthcoming when it comes to women’s cricket,” Raj said.
“Parents are still more interested in putting their girls into more feminine sports like tennis or table-tennis.”
Australia go into the tournament as favorites to win their sixth title, following victory in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka last October.
The Australian side includes Ellyze Perry, a pace bowler who also plays football for her country, the Indian-born Lisa Sthalekar, and Alyssa Healy, niece of former Australian men’s wicket-keeper Ian Healy.
Pakistan are more worried about adapting to the new one-day rules than about their security in Cuttack, where they are staying in the club house of the Barabati stadium for security reasons.
“We have not played under the new rules where five players have to be inside the circle at all times and the use of new balls from both ends,” captain Sana Mir said.
“We must get used to them before the tournament starts.”
Three teams from the two groups will advance to the Super Sixes round, from where the top two will qualify for the final.


Modi forecasts IPL players will earn ‘$1m a game’

Updated 46 min 21 sec ago
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Modi forecasts IPL players will earn ‘$1m a game’

  • Modi believes that if that $12 million cap is relaxed, leading IPL players could earn as much as English Premier League footballers and even NFL stars
  • London-based Modi forecast the end of country versus country contests, which effectively finance professional cricket structures all round the world and the demise of the International Cricket Council, the sport’s global governing body

LONDON: Indian Premier League founder Lalit Modi believes there will come a time when players will earn $1 million dollars per game while warning that the traditional program of matches between countries “will disappear.”
A Twenty20 domestic franchise competition launched a decade ago, which has spawned a host of imitators worldwide, the IPL is now the most lucrative of all cricket tournaments.
“The IPL is here to stay,” Modi told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper in an interview published Thursday. “It will be the dominant sporting league in the world.”
IPL teams are bankrolled by wealthy businessmen operating in an environment where the passion for cricket in India, the world’s second-most populous nation, makes the game an attractive target for sponsors and broadcasters.
At present there is a team salary cap, with the likes of England all-rounder Ben Stokes earning $1.95 million per season from the Rajasthan Royals.
But Modi believes that if that $12 million cap is relaxed, leading IPL players could earn as much as English Premier League footballers and even NFL stars.
That would have a huge impact on international cricket, with players torn between making an IPL fortune and representing their countries.
“You will see players making $1-$2m a game,” said Modi. “It will happen sooner rather than later.
“In a free market the person with the deepest pockets will win. The players will gravitate toward who pays the biggest salary.”
Meanwhile, in a chilling argument for cricket traditionalists, London-based Modi forecast the end of country versus country contests, which effectively finance professional cricket structures all round the world and the demise of the International Cricket Council, the sport’s global governing body.
“Today international cricket does not matter,” he said. “It is of zero value to the Indian fan.
“Tomorrow you will see bilateral cricket disappear,” Modi added. “Big series will happen once every three or four years like the World Cup.
“The ICC will become an irrelevant body. It will be full of fat lugs who have no power. They can scream and shout now and in the future they will threaten to throw India out if they try to expand the IPL but India has the power to stand on its own feet...They have a domestic league that it is going to be 20-times the size of international cricket.”
Modi said the only way five-day international Test cricket, long regarded as the pinnacle of the sport, could survive was if the ICC introduced a long talked-about championship.
“I think there is a window for Test cricket and a World Test championship will survive if all nations get together and make it a proper tournament,” he explained.
“But it has to be a championship. If the ICC does not do it I see no reason why the IPL would not do it instead as a knockout IPL Test championship.”
Modi left India to live in London and has not returned home since 2009. The Board of Control for Cricket in India found him guilty of eight offenses relating to irregularities in the administration of the IPL.
He has never been charged by the Indian government with a crime and denies all accusations, but Modi has repeatedly insisted he cannot go back to India because of underworld threats to his life.