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Talking Points - News From This Angle

Judge dismisses Rose Bowl protests

HOTELIERS in the Southampton area challenged Eastleigh Borough Council's decision to spend £32 million on Hampshire's proposed Rose Bowl 175-bedroom hotel complex, but their protests failed.

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A judicial inquiry rejected their case saying there was "no realistic chance of success" in preventing the £48 million scheme going ahead. Construction had been delayed, and there were doubts whether the building work could be completed in time for next year's Test match against Sri Lanka.

The legality of Eastleigh's investment was challenged, with the protestors claiming there had been a "rushed decision-making process".

The council said the project would create 200 jobs and the cost would have no impact on taxpayers. The redevelpment of the cricket ground includes new stands, and the existing nine-hole golf course will be upgraded to an 18-hole championship course.

Posted by Charlie Randall
18/03/2010 17:29:56

Larwood fast into best book contest

The Cricket Society Book of the Year Award shortlisted nominee 2010 - Harold Larwood. So, why another book on Harold Larwood? Perhaps because there haven't really been any books on him and not the events. As a boy growing up in post-war Nottinghamshire, Duncan Hamilton, the author, would regularly hear comments from passing miners going home from their shift as he bowled in knockabout cricket off an enormous run, 'You'll never be as fast as Harold Larwood.' Intrigued, he went home to ask his father who this man was and then vowed to find out more about him. Much later in life, this book is the result.

The competition, run by The Cricket Society since 1970 and in partnership with MCC since 2009, is for books nominated by members and not publishers and is highly regarded by writers and publishers. The competition seeks to reward writers who document their sport passionately and show incredible talent; a practise carried over through many new mediums and about new sports. Previous winners have included Mike Brearley, EW Swanton and David Frith. Three years ago the delighted winner - Scyld Berry – this year a keynote speaker at the award ceremony - hailed his award as "cricket’s seal of literary approval."

Posted by Charlie Randall
08/03/2010 16:46:21

Lancashire select celebrity chef

CELEBRITY chef Paul Heathcote MBE has been appointed by Lancashire as catering consultant to develop standards at The Point, the new £12 million conference and events facility at Old Trafford due to be completed in July this year.

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Heathcote, born in Farnworth, has been a regular face on television cooking shows. He owns 11 restaurants and is a previous winner of the Egon Ronay Chef of the Year and still the only chef in the North West to be awarded two Michelin Stars. If his influence extends to match-day catering for the mass of spectators, that would only be for the better...

Posted by Charlie Randall
25/02/2010 11:07:04

Bloomfield takes on Old Windsor pub

THE former Middlesex and Berkshire seam bowler Tim Bloomfield has become landlord of the Union Inn at Old Windsor and is welcoming county members with a heavy discount.

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Bloomfield, 36, has refurbished this well known local inn, with its Copper Pot restaurant. He said: "After acquiring the business in its rustic state in late 2008, it was important that we enabled the Inn to retain much of its original rural features, but with the modern sophistications and contemporary soft furnishing of a thriving city establishment - a bit like Lord's some might say."

Former cricketers becoming landlords used to be more common than it is these days. Jim Love, of Yorkshire and England, springs to mind -- he took on the White Swan, with an excellent eaterie at Wighill, near Tadcaster.

There is no sporting theme in the Union Inn bar, as the strategy was to broaden the place's appeal. The Union Inn received a four-star rating from the English Tourist Board within a year, which Bloomfield regarded as a "huge achievement". But to the bottom line... on the county website he is offering all Middlesex members a 20 per cent discount on food and accomodation on production of a valid membership card. www.unioninnwindsor.co.uk

Posted by Charlie Randall
24/02/2010 12:03:32

Zimbabwe top job for Alan Butcher

ZIMBABWE have appointed the former England batsman Alan Butcher as their new head coach with the target of returning the country to Test cricket in 2011. The appointment of an Englishman is further evidence that this ravaged country is returning to normal after the abandonment last year of the worthless Zimbabwe dollar in favour of the American dollar and South African rand.

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Butcher, 56, has been given an unexpected chance at international level after losing his job at Surrey after their relegation from Division One of the LV Championship in 2008. Former Zimbabwe Test players Grant Flower, at the end of the year, and Heath Streak are to work alongside Butcher as specialist batting and bowling coaches, and he will be assisted by Stephen Mangongo. Dave Houghton, another former Test player, has been lined up to assist him during the forthcoming trip to the West Indies.

Zimbabwe Cricket managing director Ozias Bvute said: "In the past we have relied on one coach, but this time we have four individuals and are confident they will deliver."

Zimbabwe withdrew from Test cricket in January 2006 after embarrassing results stemming from a policy of selecting mainly inexperienced black players after the alienation and consequent exit of some many white players.  The ICC ruled in 2007 that allowing them to make an early return could risk "undermining the integrity of Test cricket". But last October former captain Alastair Campbell, now chairman of selectors, confirmed that policy had been abandoned and predicted that they would be ready to play Test cricket again "in two or three years".

Posted by Charlie Randall
22/02/2010 15:07:57

Final farewell to loyal Vodafone

THE ECB chairman Giles Clarke paid tribute to Vodafone during the fourth Test against South Africa at The Wanderers, the final match of their 12-year sponsorship of the England team.

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The partnership began with England’s tour of West Indies in 1998 and encompassed a period of significant achievement, including two Ashes triumphs in 2005 and 2009 and Test series wins abroad in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand and West Indies.

Clarke, hosting a thank-you dinner attended by representatives of Vodafone in Johannesburg, said: "We are extremely grateful to Vodafone for their unstinting support. The partnership has been one of the longest enjoyed by any team sport in the UK and it has brought enormous benefits to the wider game throughout England and Wales."

It was a pity Vodafone could not bow out on a winning note.

Posted by Charlie Randall
16/01/2010 22:20:48

Grenada opens cricket attraction

THE island of Grenada has opened a Caribbean cricket heritage centre in the south stand of the magnificent National Stadium in St George's.

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This is a private venture by a West Indies cricket fanatic, Philip Daniels, chairman of the High Five energy products company, in partnership with the West Indies Players' Association. The exhibition contains rare West Indies cricket artefacts dating back to the late 19th century, including bats, caps and letters, as well as medals, photos and tour brochures to explore the social history of the sport in the Caribbean.

Tillman Thomas, the prime minister of Grenada, officially opened the attraction in October. Daniels said: "We are now embarking on our regional and international marketing plans to place High Five firmly on the cricket map."

Charlie says: Another attraction at this interesting island. I would certainly recommend a holiday there, as St George's is a nice town albeit still suffering from old hurricane damage. The whole island is very good for exploring by car -- better scenery than Barbados without the St Lucia traffic jams -- and the Grand Anse beach is great for a relaxing time.

Posted by Charlie Randall
22/12/2009 15:12:32

Rainford-Brent with Oval new boys

THE England women batsman Ebony Rainford-Brent has been drafted into the Surrey Academy for 2010 as the only female among six players.

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Rainford-Brent joins Zafar Ansari, Matthew Dunn, George Edwards, Shaun Cousens and Freddie Vanden Burgh as the new intake at the Pemberton Greenish Academy, having risen in prominence as a member of a successful squad who won the World Cup, the World Twenty20 and retained the Ashes this year.

Surrey disclosed that for the first time, from the start of this year’s winter training programme, the academy would be fully integrated with Surrey’s professional programme, so that eminent former England and Surrey players such as Graham Thorpe, Alec Stewart, Chris Adams, Ian Salisbury and Martin Bicknell will be coaching. The Academy director is Gareth Townsend.

Gus Mackay, Surrey's cricket managing director, said: "We are proud to announce this squad, who we see as the future of Surrey cricket. It is important that we continue to develop home- grown talent as we work on rebuilding the club. This is one of the most important group of players we have here and hopefully, with the changes we have made within Surrey Cricket over the last 12 months, they can now see a much clearer pathway to becoming professional cricketers."

Posted by Charlie Randall
07/12/2009 13:54:22

Battered Dubai builds club grounds

DUBAI is still building recreational cricket grounds, despite the appalling recession in the Gulf emirate. The first all-turf ground at Al Dhaid Sports Village was officially inaugurated during the Afghanistan versus Saudi Arabia match of the ACC Twenty20 Cup by the father of cricket in the United Arab Emirates, Abdulrahman Bukhatir.

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Al Dhaid, with seven grounds in total, was first started in November 2006 and its artificial pitches have been operational for two years. The grass pitch has taken six months to complete, and apart from a slightly uneven outfield, it is apparently in perfect playing condition.

The four-acre site, 40 miles outside the Dubai metropolis, has been a personal project for Emirates Cricket Board administrator, Mazhar Khan. "There was and is a constant need for cricket pitches considering the level of activity in the UAE," said Khan. The ground at Al Dhaid will also host the MCC and a Bangladesh Port Cricket League next year.

Bukhatir, the television tycoon behind Dubai Sports City said: "Even though sports infrastructure projects are not profit-making centres, the purpose of a multi-sport project like this at Al Dhaid is to give youngsters a chance to play, get noticed and get ahead. It takes people, organisations and institutions for support and this is what we are hoping for the future. And we hope it benefits the society in Dubai and the whole world."

"The business plan has not been worked out for this, we are still in the process of forming a same. Al Dhaid is just starting, but like the youngsters who will play here, it is full of promise. There are enough grounds here to have major tournaments at any point of time," he added.

Posted by Charlie Randall
30/11/2009 18:39:41

Bangladeshi ready to make history

 NEVER before has the first signing of a Bangladeshi in county cricket been greeted with such acclaim. Worcestershire have agreed a contract with Skakib Al Hasan, rated by the ICC computer system as the world's No 1 one-day all-rounder.

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Still only 22, Shakib has turned himself into a formidable left-hand bat and left-arm spinner, good enough to take 7-36 against New Zealand in the 2008 Test at Chittagong, the best figures by a Bangladesh bowler in an innings to date. He took over as captain from the injured Mashrafe Mortaza during the 2009 tour to West Indies and led Bangladesh to their first overseas Test win.

Though the West Indies, minus their captain Chris Gayle and all their best players, were weakened by their dispute with their cricket authorities, victory still had to be achieved. In fact the result showed that it would serve no use for the ICC to end Bangladesh's Test status. They are too strong for every minor nation while they attempt to build their strength and domestic infrastructure.

England will find when they tour next spring that much money and resource has been aimed at Bangladeshi cricket. For one of the world's poorest countries it is surprising that they have such fine cricket arenas and a decent high performance centre outside Dhaka. All they need is a couple of world class players to spark some momentum.

The players tend to be physically slight in stature with a natural disadvantage, but at under-19 level Bangladesh have a very good record, certainly at home. They beat a touring England side in a four-day Test this winter.

Shakib is due to join Worcestershire at the end of Bangladesh's 2010 England tour in mid-July. It seems extraordinary that the county should go for a Bangladeshi, but that is what used to be said about Sri Lankans 30 years ago. And Sri Lanka won the World Cup before England -- and at this rate so will Bangladesh.

======STOP SUMMARY=====

Still only 22, Shakib has turned himself into a formidable left-hand bat and left-arm spinner, good enough to take 7-36 against New Zealand in the 2008 Test at Chittagong, the best figures by a Bangladesh bowler in an innings to date. He took over as captain from the injured Mashrafe Mortaza during the 2009 tour to West Indies and led Bangladesh to their first overseas Test win.

Though the West Indies, minus their captain Chris Gayle and all their best players, were weakened by their dispute with their cricket authorities, victory still had to be achieved. In fact the result showed that it would serve no use for the ICC to end Bangladesh's Test status. They are too strong for every minor nation while they attempt to build their strength and domestic infrastructure.

England will find when they tour next spring that much money and resource has been aimed at Bangladeshi cricket. For one of the world's poorest countries it is surprising that they have such fine cricket arenas and a decent high performance centre outside Dhaka. All they need is a couple of world class players to spark some momentum.

The players tend to be physically slight in stature with a natural disadvantage, but at under-19 level Bangladesh have a very good record, certainly at home. They beat a touring England side in a four-day Test this winter.

Shakib is due to join Worcestershire at the end of Bangladesh's 2010 England tour in mid-July. It seems extraordinary that the county should go for a Bangladeshi, but that is what used to be said about Sri Lankans 30 years ago. And Sri Lanka won the World Cup before England -- and at this rate so will Bangladesh.

======STOP SUMMARY=====

Still only 22, Shakib has turned himself into a formidable left-hand bat and left-arm spinner, good enough to take 7-36 against New Zealand in the 2008 Test at Chittagong, the best figures by a Bangladesh bowler in an innings to date. He took over as captain from the injured Mashrafe Mortaza during the 2009 tour to West Indies and led Bangladesh to their first overseas Test win.

Though the West Indies, minus their captain Chris Gayle and all their best players, were weakened by their dispute with their cricket authorities, victory still had to be achieved. In fact the result showed that it would serve no use for the ICC to end Bangladesh's Test status. They are too strong for every minor nation while they attempt to build their strength and domestic infrastructure.

England will find when they tour next spring that much money and resource has been aimed at Bangladeshi cricket. For one of the world's poorest countries it is surprising that they have such fine cricket arenas and a decent high performance centre outside Dhaka. All they need is a couple of world class players to spark some momentum.

The players tend to be physically slight in stature with a natural disadvantage, but at under-19 level Bangladesh have a very good record, certainly at home. They beat a touring England side in a four-day Test this winter.

Shakib is due to join Worcestershire at the end of Bangladesh's 2010 England tour in mid-July. It seems extraordinary that the county should go for a Bangladeshi, but that is what used to be said about Sri Lankans 30 years ago. And Sri Lanka won the World Cup before England -- and at this rate so will Bangladesh.

Posted by Charlie Randall
18/11/2009 17:45:39
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