cricket
It's the disparity, stupid!
Former Test captain Aamir Sohail believes the International Cricket Council will have to go back to the drawing board to fight the menace of match-fixing.
By Khalid Hussain
Cricket in is in turmoil these days following allegations of corruption in the sport.
Aamir Sohail, the former Pakistan captain, blames the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the ongoing corruption saga that has rocked the sport and has advised the game's governing body to go back to the drawing board and chalk out a blue-print to fight this menace.

Pakistan cricket:
In dire need of a revolution
The main obstacle to a stable and a just Pakistan Cricket Board is Ijaz Butt.
By Dr Nauman Niaz
Many ex-chairmen of the PCB thought about making it a better place, disappointingly Ijaz Butt has made it rancid, Pakistan cricket's reeking space is what he has delivered in two years. I must acknowledge that, his influence has been greatly exaggerated. That said, he should be labelled 'the man who destroyed Pakistan cricket' when the country has been forced to leave the ICC and international acceptance mechanisms worldwide. The PCB wasn't expected to be slave to the West and the ICC, but they weren't required to wrangle; they needed a resolve.

The battle for top spot!
By Khurram Mahmood
One the most important Test series of the year between India and Australia is in progress these days. The series has an equal importance for both sides. Currently India are enjoying number one position in the ICC Test Championship while Australia are placed fourth on the table.
The two-Test series could be a step towards Australia reclaiming the No 1 Test ranking. Australia are presently fourth in the ratings, 14 points behind top-ranked India, and a 2-0 win for the visitors will narrow the gap to four.

The fallacy of  
AFC Champions League
The League is Asia's top club competition but it is doing little to enhance the standard of football in the continent as a whole
By Umaid Wasim
Asian football has seen a dramatic rise on the global stage. The recent World Cup in South Africa bears testimony to that with the likes of Japan and South Korea making it into the knockout round with both of them losing by narrow margins to deny Asia a representative in the quarter-finals.

Rivalries just keep on coming!
By Hasan Junaid Iqbal
Rivalries are not new in international tennis; they have been around for years -- from the era of Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal or even Robin Soderling and Federer.
Over the past two years, Soderling said, he has accepted that even the best players lose more than they win.

Statistically, England lag far behind in ODIs
By Ghalib Bajwa
England finished this summer on a high. They defeated Australia 3-2 in NatWest series, Bangladesh in Tests and ODIs, and then thrashed Pakistan in T20s (2-0), Tests (3-1) and in the 5-match ODI series (3-2) last month. Though England emerged victorious against all their opponents in all three formats of the game, they are lagging far behind in the 50-over format of the game, as far as statistics are concerned.

Commonwealth Games at a glance
TNS takes a look at the event's background, history and Pakistan's past track record.
By Ijaz Chaudhry
The Commonwealth of Nations, better known as the Commonwealth and previously called the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of 54 independent member states. All but two of these countries, Mozambique and Rwanda, were formerly part of the British Empire or have a direct constitutional link with a country which was formerly part of the British Empire. The admission of Mozambique, in 1995, was a unique occurrence, in recognition of Mozambique's support for the Commonwealth's policies towards South Africa and Rhodesia during the Apartheid era; consideration for Rwanda's admission was considered an "exceptional circumstance" by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

 

cricket

It's the disparity, stupid!

Former Test captain Aamir Sohail believes the International Cricket Council will have to go back to the drawing board to fight the menace of match-fixing.

By Khalid Hussain

Cricket in is in turmoil these days following allegations of corruption in the sport.

Aamir Sohail, the former Pakistan captain, blames the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the ongoing corruption saga that has rocked the sport and has advised the game's governing body to go back to the drawing board and chalk out a blue-print to fight this menace.

Aamir told 'The News on Sunday' that lack of proper effort on the part of the ICC, over the years, has brought the game to the brink of disaster, stressing that unless it brought all stake-holders on board cricket will get embarrassed again.

"Banning players might be the solution for some but we have seen in the past that players were banned but root-cause analysis was not done and proper measures were not taken in fact cosmetics were used in shape of ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) which has not worked.

"I will give you examples. We have policing all over the world and have anti-corruption agencies also but has it made the world crime and corruption free place? The answer is no. So how could the ICC think that by putting ACSU in place is going to fix the problem without addressing the root cause of it? Yes if the ICC goes to the drawing board and does the root-cause analysis we might see this thing minimised but we cannot eradicate it.

"The real issue is to address the root causes. Where are the good guys? ICC never appreciated the people who took a stand against corruption," said Aamir.

"One has to appreciate the efforts of the ICC which has helped this game grow exponentially through their development programme but the fact of the matter is it's the television and expatriates from cricket-playing nations who have also contributed to the popularity of this game. So the ICC has to first closely look at their working and vision whether it is productive or counter productive. Then improvise the whole thing.

"ICC cannot point fingers at a member board because what has happened in the past few weeks is their own fault," added Aamir referring to a match-fixing scandal revolving around a few Pakistan cricketers.

"They are the ones who gave a clean chit to the Sydney Test. They are the ones who turned a blind eye on a series of corruption allegations that kept coming out for several years in the nineties," he added.

The former Test batsman was referring to Pakistan's infamous Test against Australia last January which they lost from a seemingly winning position. There have been allegations from various quarters that Pakistan threw that match though the ICC had found nothing wrong with it.

Aamir questioned ICC's inability to take concrete action against the menace of match-fixing.

"People like Rashid Latif warned the ICC about the dangers of match-fixing and fancy-fixing years ago but it failed to do much to control it."

Rashid Latif, also a former Pakistan captain, was the first man to take a stern stance against this menace in 1994. He also wrote a letter to the ICC back in 2003, highlighting the dangers of 'fancy-fixing' also known as spot-fixing.

"It's been seven years since the ICC received plenty of information about spot-fixing but it didn't take any measures against a menace that is now threatening to destroy cricket's credibility," lamented Aamir.

Aamir rejected ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit and termed it as a useless body.

"Reading the transcript of the telephonic conference with the Pakistani journalists made my claims stronger where Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said the ACSU has done a lot so far. Let me ask the Anti-Corruption Unit if News of the World and The Sun have to do the dirty work for you and you can't do anything then what's the point of keeping you there. In fact Haroon Lorgat embarrassed the ICC by thanking both the newspapers and admitted ACSU's inefficiency so to speak. Now the time has come that the ICC comes out with something solid to address this problem."

Aamir is of the view that the ICC should have made it its top priority to overcome what he believes is a growing disparity between the Test-playing nations.

"What cricket needed was a level playing field," he said. "ICC should have made its biggest investment in that area but unfortunately it didn't.

"The ICC chiefs should have made it their top priority to fund developing Test-playing nations to bring them at par with other member nations. There is a world of a difference between teams in the cricket world."

Aamir believes that the disparity begins with the pay-structure in the cricket world, making cricketers in poorer countries an easy target for match-fixing mafias.

"There is so much disparity in the cricket world. A player in Pakistan earns so much less than players in several other countries. The first-class structure all over the Test-playing world should have the same pay-scale.

"A player who gets less than fifty pounds from a first-class match, is a weak character. Once he gets a chance to play at the international level he would be an easy prey for the bad guys.

"Illegal bookies will continue trying to lure you. But if you are financially secure its difficult for you to get lured. In contrast, if you are insecure, especially financially, then you might take the chance.

"A first-class cricketer, in a country like Pakistan, should make enough so that he has a settled life once he retires as a player.

"Standarise the wages at first-class and also at international level firstly and than place the right measures so the players respect the system which is providing them with so much. Once the players start to respect the system then you have a chance to contain this evil.

"This is only one suggestion but if they want me to give them more suggestion, they are welcome to contact me and I will share the ideas with them".

Aamir praised the ICC over its development projects aimed at promoting the game among its associate members but was quick to ask the reason why it was kicking them out of the World Cup.

"The ICC has tried its best to take the game around the globe," he said. "But has it worked so far? I guess not. They've already said that there will be just ten teams in the World Cup. Why are they kicking out the associate members?

"If you take a look at world cricket, you won't find many associate members where the locals are playing cricket. It's the expatriates who make up for the best part of their teams.

"So if you fail to involve the locals then it means your programme has failed. I would suggest that the ICC should first invest rigorously in Test-playing nations and help them improve before investing money and resources here and there. The onus is to bring all the Test-playing teams at par and then move forward. The big examples are Zimbabwe, Kenya, Bangladesh who have not really improved in decades. "The ICC's job is to come out with a vision to raise the standard of the game amongst the Test-playing nations with the help of all the stake-holders.

Aamir fears that corruption in cricket cannot be eliminated but is confident that with proper measures it can be minimized.

"You can't eliminate it but you can minimize it. One of the steps needed to be taken is to bring in the book-makers as stakeholders. They should be brought on board. They are businessmen and have to make profits. Some might use illegal means. It's the ICC's job to ensure that most won't or can't succeed by using illegal means," he stressed.

Next: Aamir Sohail will list the blunders committed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) besides coming out with possible solutions to help lift the sport out of the current crisis.

Khalid Hussain is Sports Editor of The News, Karachi [email protected]

 

 

Pakistan cricket:

In dire need of a revolution

The main obstacle to a stable and a just Pakistan Cricket Board is Ijaz Butt.

By Dr Nauman Niaz

Many ex-chairmen of the PCB thought about making it a better place, disappointingly Ijaz Butt has made it rancid, Pakistan cricket's reeking space is what he has delivered in two years. I must acknowledge that, his influence has been greatly exaggerated. That said, he should be labelled 'the man who destroyed Pakistan cricket' when the country has been forced to leave the ICC and international acceptance mechanisms worldwide. The PCB wasn't expected to be slave to the West and the ICC, but they weren't required to wrangle; they needed a resolve.

Butt should be accused of deadening the spirit of cricket's culture in Pakistan and also for its incessant crises. His tenure has been averse to rationality and primes a scale high than the colour revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine. All these claims aren't overstated, or unfounded. He has played major roles in these events, and many others.

His incumbency hasn't provided some cushion for cricket culture, education and this monolith of Pakistani cricket is collapsing. Instead of overriding arrogance, Butt should have acknowledged to reach a privileged position. He should have ideally combined three qualifications. First, he should have developed a conceptual framework that could give him certain understanding of history, in particular, when he called far-from-equilibrium situations; second, he should have had a set of firm ethical and political beliefs, a foreign policy to go with it and third, he should have propagated Pakistan's cricket as merchandise. As he persuaded only his weird contemplations and intoxicated with authoritarianism and power-play, he even lost the right to be heard on a variety of issues, in Pakistan and worldwide.

Dr Nasim Ashraf was horrible, Butt is even worse. At 73 years, his ability to accomplish things on his own has greatly diminished, partly because he tried taking on bigger issues and partly because he wasn't the player on the modernised and changed field. He didn't have the convening power he couldn't help move issues forward by taking the initiatives, or simply by participating. This disallowed him to form policies and taking a stand on issues wasn't his virtue.

Why was Butt appointed? Would he like to clarify where he stands? Did he ascend to the position of power to make Pakistan cricket a better place? His was a political appointment and there was nothing unusual about that. Ironically, Butt has been a stateless statesman. There is a little difference. States have interests but no principles he had interests but no principles. I think Butt would indict me for this formulation but I try living with it because he has routed all possibilities of rejuvenation of Pakistan cricket. I must acknowledge that people like Butt are suspicious of those who claim to be virtuous and not without justification. Many people who resort to condemnation of the cricket governments have ulterior motives doing so. Being able to do the right think is a rare privilege, and exercising that privilege is ample reward. I question Butt's motives as he has been disinterested developing the product he was assigned or obligated to do, the burden of proof is on him.

Butt didn't learn, he was wrong he never admitted and never showed inclination correcting his mistakes. Butt hasn't realised that his personal time horizon is getting shorter. Therefore, he must have drawn a distinction between what he could hope to accomplish and the mission he had set for himself.

Pakistan was struck with war on terror and the world order that Butt discovered was frustrating. The attack on Sri Lanka on March 3, 2009 changed it all; Pakistan was completely alienated. However, instead of finding a resolve and believing that conditions weren't always favourable, but windows of opportunity opened from time to time, when that happened, he should have swung into action. Butt incessantly staggered, stumbled, erred, messed and slipped-up but his greatest sin was to give a call from the wild, disillusioning the England Cricket Board and the ICC retorting to senseless accusations. He led to events challenging Pakistan cricket's sovereignty. I believe sovereignty is an anachronistic concept; it has been inherited from an age when kings ruled over their subjects.

Pakistan cricket presently demands a revolution. The main obstacle to a stable and a just PCB is Butt. This is a harsh-indeed, for me, painful-thing to say; but unfortunately I am convinced it is true. Butt has been setting wrong agendas for cricket governance and development; he has emphasised the use of rhetoric and ignored identifying the real issues whose solution requires intelligent methodisation and policy synthesis.

The task has become more complicated since the Lord's incident where three Pakistan cricketers were charged of allegedly being involved in spot-fixing. It is no longer a question of only removing Butt; a more profound rethinking of PCB's role is needed. The process must begin with recognizing the implication of Pakistan players in match-fixing as a false metaphor.

[email protected]

 


 
The battle for top spot!

By Khurram Mahmood

One the most important Test series of the year between India and Australia is in progress these days. The series has an equal importance for both sides. Currently India are enjoying number one position in the ICC Test Championship while Australia are placed fourth on the table.

The two-Test series could be a step towards Australia reclaiming the No 1 Test ranking. Australia are presently fourth in the ratings, 14 points behind top-ranked India, and a 2-0 win for the visitors will narrow the gap to four.

Team Australia has turned Test cricket from boring draws into highly exciting cricket matches that produce results. Talent, discipline and a positive professional approach gives them an edge.

The current Australian bowling attack may not be as effective as it was in the past, posing a tough task for Australia skipper Ricky Ponting. Without an experienced specialist spinner, reclaiming the Gavasker-Border Trophy would be a miracle for Australia this time around.

Ponting, one of the best batsman in the world, has always faced problems to bat on Indian soil especially against their spinners. Ponting has an overall Test career average of 54.66. But against India, his average is 47.02 and on Indian soil, he has an average of just 20.85.

During the Indian tour of 2008-09, Ponting accepted that he failed to overcome the Indian spinners and was trying to improve his technique after his conversation with Muttiah Muralitharan and India's former coach and his countryman Greg Chappell.

"My record everywhere else is great. Sri Lanka has probably the hardest spinning conditions to play in but I have got a record there as good as anybody, and against a set of bowlers a whole lot more skilled than Harbhajan might be." The problem, according to him, was the first 10-15 minutes against spin. "That's the challenging period."

Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is the real threat for Australia. He has an excellent track record against Australia, taking 79 wickets in 14 Tests, his best bowling performance 8-84 also came against Australia. Harbhajan has claimed Ponting's wicket 10 times from 12 Tests.

The first Test series between Australia and India was played in 1947-48 in Australia that was won by Australia by 4-0. So far 20 Test series has been played between the two countries. Australia has a clear upper hand with 10 Test series win. India was successful five times while five Test series have concluded without any result.

On the last tour of India in 2008 Australia lost the Test series 2-0. The Test series will be remembered due to many reasons as skipper Anil Kumble and former captain Sourav Ganguly announced their retirement from Test cricket and MS Dhoni took over as Test captain.

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The fallacy of

AFC Champions League

The League is Asia's top club competition but it is doing little to enhance the standard of football in the continent as a whole

By Umaid Wasim

Asian football has seen a dramatic rise on the global stage. The recent World Cup in South Africa bears testimony to that with the likes of Japan and South Korea making it into the knockout round with both of them losing by narrow margins to deny Asia a representative in the quarter-finals.

But Japan and South Korea have traditionally been good at the quadrennial event -- both having featured in each of the last three editions and the Koreans have the honour of being the only Asian team to have qualified for the semifinals of the World Cup in 2002 when they co-hosted the event with Japan.

Asian countries show a huge gulf in class when it comes to football. It has always been a story of the perennial heavyweights who have dominated the footballing scene in the continent -- and they have been the ones who have been constantly improving. Even though Iraq won the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup in 2007, they have been unable to scale those heights again. Their triumph three years back was more due to them coming out from the relative unknown to throw the proverbial 'cat amongst the pigeons'. Unfortunately though, Iraq's domestic structure was in tatters at that time due to the country being in a state of war. And even though, they were the champions of Asia, there was no Iraqi club in the AFC Champions League.

The AFC Champions League is Asian club football's top-tier tournament. Even though its format is based on the lines followed by continental football federations for their showpiece club event -- the UEFA Champions League in Europe, Africa's CAF Champions League and South America's Copa Libertadores -- it hardly represents clubs from all the associate members of the AFC. The reason being that participation in the marquee tournament is limited to Asia's top ten football-playing nations. Asia's second and third tier competitions are the AFC Cup -- followed on the lines of the UEFA Europa League -- and the AFC President's Cup. They too have the same distribution of participating contries as the Champions League.

Football development in countries outside Asia's top ten has been at a minimal and the reason for that is the way in which the Asian club football has been structured.

The great fallacy of the AFC Champions League is that the competition does include the champions of each AFC associate nation. UEFA re-jigged the Champions League format when there was a problem with all of its associate members not being represented in its top tier competition and it has resulted in European football grow exponentially.

The fact that there were three European countries in the World Cup semis this year and all four at the same stage in Germany four years ago is proof to that. European club football structure has made national teams stronger.

It would be absurd to think that Pakistan would be offered the same number of berths like Japan or Saudi Arabia but at least the champions of the domestic league -- the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) -- should be at least given a chance to participate in the qualifying rounds of the event. And so should the domestic champions of the countries participating in the AFC Cup and the AFC President's Cup.

The PPFL Champions currently participate in the AFC President's Cup -- miles away from the glamour of the AFC Champions League and hardly followed by Asia's football fans.

Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) President Faisal Saleh Hayat reckons that it is the gulf in class between the clubs in the Middle-East and Far-East and those in South Asia which is why they just cannot compete in the AFC Champions League.

"There is a huge difference between the teams that participate in the AFC Champions League and our clubs (the ones in the PPFL)," Faisal told 'The News on Sunday'. "If we were to participate in the tournament, we would be the whipping boys since football there is much more developed and there is a vast difference of resources available to them and those available to us.

"There is simply no point in competing against those teams."

Faisal's admission that there is a huge difference in the class between there clubs is very true but the fact that remains is that the gap has to be bridged if football in South Asia has to be developed.

And what better than Asia's premier club competition doing its bit to help them in that cause? Playing against Asia's top clubs would not only help these clubs grow in a footballing sense, but it would help them grow financially as well.

It is a cold hard fact that an increase in the level of competition makes one better. The AFC Champions League, over the years has seen legends like Brazil's Rivaldo and Sierra Leone's Mohammed Kallon feature in it. It is a definite fact that the standard of teams in South Asia is bound to increase if they play against the top players and the top clubs.

Players would not only improve tactically but a general footballing sense would too be instilled in them.

FC Porto's UEFA Champions League triumph in 2003 is a very good example of how playing their continent's premier competition helped their players grow to be world-beaters and subsequently resulted in Portugal becoming one of Europe's top football-playing nations.

After featuring in the Champions League for a good part of a decade, FC Porto finally got to grips with how the Champions League had to be played. The level of their players increased and they became European Champions under the astute guidance of a certain Jose Mourinho.

Portugal too bore the results of FC Porto's Champions League exploits. Half of Porto's Champions League winning squad featured in Euro 2004, where they made it to the final, and the World Cup in 2006 where they finished fourth.

Similarly, football in the Asian countries could be given a massive boost if the format of the AFC Champions League is tweaked. AFC Champions League qualification would not only be an increased incentive for clubs to fight it out for the title domestically, but there would be an increase in revenue for the clubs due to the television rights and sponsorships.

AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam has done a lot to increase the stature of football in Asia but efforts need to be directed to improve the standard of the game in the countries lagging behind the continent's big boys -- and the time is now!

Umaid Wasim works as a sub-editor at The News, Karachi

[email protected]

 

Rivalries just keep on coming!

By Hasan Junaid Iqbal

Rivalries are not new in international tennis; they have been around for years -- from the era of Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal or even Robin Soderling and Federer.

Over the past two years, Soderling said, he has accepted that even the best players lose more than they win.

Sweden's Soderling has won just one match against Federer, whom he beat for the first time in 13 attempts in the quarter-finals at the Roland Garros in their only meeting this year. With the victory, Soderling snapped Federer's streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam event semifinals.

There is list of players who could give King Fed a hard time in the future include Nikolay Davydenko, Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer.

"I think Rafa is the best player in history for Spain," Ferrer said. "But in this moment maybe it's Federer because he has more Grand Slams and more titles," he said ahead of Macau tennis showdown.

Other players have faced a similar conundrum, but never one that seems so sharply and simply defined. Andre Agassi was often there to keep Pete Sampras on his toes, but Sampras remained in control of that rivalry, start to end. Besides, Agassi spent enough time undermining himself, and disappeared from the big stage frequently enough, to keep Sampras from feeling top or effectively-challenged.

Jimmy Connors thought he ruled the world defined by the tramlines until Bjorn Borg blew in like a chill wind from Sweden to challenge his sovereignty. The insult was so severe that at one point Connors swore to follow Borg "to the ends of the earth" in order to prevent him from winning a calendar year Grand Slam, although what he really meant was that he would hunt Borg until he won back what Connors thought was rightfully his own. Turns out all Connors would have needed to do is follow the Long Island Expressway in New York to John McEnroe's home and knock on the door. McEnroe showed himself more than capable of taking care of Borg, even to the benefit of his arch-enemy, Connors.

In regards to women's singles tennis, one specific rivalry stands out. American tennis player Lindsay Davenport and Swiss tennis player Martina Hingis met 25 times over more than a decade, battling for top ranking and tournament placements. The current score in head-to-head wins stands 14-11 to Davenport.

Two of the most distinctive and victorious female tennis players in history were undoubtedly Steffi Graf and Monica Seles from 1989 to 1999. Whenever they played, the game consisted of Seles two-fisted forehand and backhand and Graf's forceful serve, graceful backhand slice and killer forehand. Seles and Graf dominated women's tennis through out the 80's and 90's meeting 15 times, with the current score 10-5 to Steffi Graf.

The more recent example is off course the William sisters. In the late 1990's the world of womens singles tennis was taken by storm as two sisters were crushing all competition. Serena and Venus Williams had all but to defeat each other. At the moment counting head to head games, the two sisters have 10 winnings each. The last game they played against each other was in the 2008 Wimbledon final.

Lets not forget about the other starlets of the WTA world like Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic are still on the top while some went down (or up) in the glamour world of today's sport like Maria Sharapova, but this Russian beauty is still a huge crowd-puller at any WTA championship.

Hassan Junaid Iqbal works as a

sub-editor at The News, Karachi

[email protected]

 

Statistically, England lag far behind in ODIs

By Ghalib Bajwa

England finished this summer on a high. They defeated Australia 3-2 in NatWest series, Bangladesh in Tests and ODIs, and then thrashed Pakistan in T20s (2-0), Tests (3-1) and in the 5-match ODI series (3-2) last month. Though England emerged victorious against all their opponents in all three formats of the game, they are lagging far behind in the 50-over format of the game, as far as statistics are concerned.

The One-day Internationals crossed the 3000-mark on June 22 this year when the hosts England thrashed Australia by four wickets in the first match of NatWest series at The Rose Bowl, Southampton.

Regardless of ODI series triumph against the Australia and then Pakistan, the English cricketers miserably failed to compete with rest of the cricketing world.

The statistical analysis of 39-year history of ODIs reflect that all the top positions in ODI bowling, batting and fielding statistics are held by Pakistani, Indian, Australian, West Indian, South African and Sri Lankan cricketers but strangely the English players are nowhere near those stalwarts.

England played the inaugural ODI in 1971. The poor state of the English ODI game can be gauged from the figures that none of their batsmen could cross the mark of 5000 runs. There are eight batsmen with over 10000 runs in ODIs but English cricketers are still crawling near the 5000-run mark.

In the bowling department, Darren Gough is the leading English ODI bowler with only 235 wickets. The list of leading ODI bowlers is spearheaded by Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan with 515 while Wasim Akram is second on 502.

In the fielding department, the chart of most catches is being led by Sri Lankaís Mahela Jayawardene with 168 dismissals. There is only one English fielder -- Paul Collingwood (105) in the list of 24 who held 100 or more catches. Pakistan had three fielders in this list.

[email protected]

 

 

Commonwealth Games at a glance

TNS takes a look at the event's background, history and Pakistan's past track record.

By Ijaz Chaudhry

The Commonwealth of Nations, better known as the Commonwealth and previously called the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of 54 independent member states. All but two of these countries, Mozambique and Rwanda, were formerly part of the British Empire or have a direct constitutional link with a country which was formerly part of the British Empire. The admission of Mozambique, in 1995, was a unique occurrence, in recognition of Mozambique's support for the Commonwealth's policies towards South Africa and Rhodesia during the Apartheid era; consideration for Rwanda's admission was considered an "exceptional circumstance" by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The Commonwealth Games, held every four years, are generally regarded as the Commonwealth's most visible activity. Though there are currently 54 members of the Commonwealth of Nations, but 71 teams participate in the Games. The four home nations of the United Kingdom i.e. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland send separate teams to the Commonwealth Games.

Individual teams are also sent from the British Crown dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man (unlike at the Olympic Games, where the combined Great Britain team represents all four home nations and the Crown dependencies). Many of the British overseas territories like Bermuda, Falkland Islands and Gibraltar also send their own teams. The Australian external territory of Norfolk Island also sends its own team, as do the Cook Islands and Niue, two states in free association with New Zealand.

_ The event was first held in 1930 under the title of the British Empire Games in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The event was renamed as the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, the British Commonwealth Games in 1970, and gained its current title in 1978.

- Only six teams have attended each edition of the Games: Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales.

Australia has been the highest achieving team for ten games, England for seven and Canada for one.

- The most successful nations:

COUNTRY GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL

AUSTRALIA 730 619 556 1,905

ENGLAND 578 553 563 1,694

CANADA 413 443 460 1,316

- Team sports were included for the first time in 1998 Commonwealth games, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Currently three team disciplines, Hockey, Netball (women only) and Rugby 7s are contested.

- Scotland's Willie Wood (bowling) participated in seven Commonwealth games from 1974 to 2002.

- Greg Yelavich, a shooter from New Zealand, won 11 medals in 6 games from 1986 to 2006.

Pakistan and the Commonwealth Games

Pakistan has competed in ten of the eighteen previous Commonwealth Games, from 1954

Medals by Games

Games Gold Silver Bronze Total

1954 Vancouver 1 3 2 6

1958 Cardiff 3 5 2 10

1962 Perth 8 1 0 9

1966 Kingston 4 1 4 9

1970 Edinburgh 4 3 2 9

1974 Christchurch did not participate

1978 Edmonton did not participate

1982 Brisbane did not participate

1986 Edinburgh did not participate

1990 Auckland 0 0 0 0

1994 Victoria 0 0 3 3

1998 Kuala Lumpur 0 1 0 1

2002 Manchester 1 3 4 8

2006 Melbourne 1 3 1 5

Total 22 20 18 60

Note: Pakistan didn't participate from 1974 to 1986 as the country had pulled out of the Commonwealth in 1972, in protest over the organisation's ineffective role to stop India's aggression against Pakistan in the 1971 war which resulted in the separation of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. They rejoined the Commonwealth in 1989.

When Pakistan had their best ever tally in 1962, seven of the eight gold medals came in wrestling. They finished as high as fourth in the overall medal table in that edition.

In the last edition, 2006, Pakistan's position was 17th among 71 nations

The five medals in 2006 came through:

Gold: Weightlifting (Shujauddin Malik)

Silvers: Hockey, Boxing (Mehrullah Lassi), and Shooting (Ali Irshad)

Bronze: Weightlifting (Mohammad Irfan)

Medals by sport

Sport Gold Silver Bronze Total

Wrestling 18 9 7 34

Athletics 2 3 6 11

Weightlifting 1 4 1 6

Boxing 1 2 1 4

Shooting 0 1 2 3

Field hockey 0 1 1 2

Total 22 20 18 60

- Wrestlers Mohammad Bashir, Mohammad Akhtar and Mohammad Faiz all won gold medals at three consecutive Commonwealth games.

u In the all-time tally of medals, Pakistan stands at 14th.

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