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07 Jun 10 at 05:25
The one sure way to lose a cricket game

Afridi blames indiscipline and Intikhab's demoralising tactics

Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain, has said indiscipline, a lack of mental strength and demoralising tactics by the then coach Intikhab Alam were responsible for Pakistan's poor show on the tour of Australia. Afridi - whose statements were revealed on the leaked video of the PCB committee hearings - was questioned about the possibility of match-fixing during that winless tour but he denied knowing any player who deliberately under-performed.

When asked if the defeats against Australia were deliberate, and if there was a specific member of the team who lost the match intentionally, Afridi said: "If you watch all the matches we have played recently, we have not been beaten in the matches, we have given away those matches. I think the reason is that we are not mentally strong. We had decided in our heads that we cannot beat Australia even before the match had started.

"I have heard from others that such things (deliberately losing) exist but I do not know of any such player myself."

Afridi was also asked if the players were playing for themselves, and he replied: "As far as the fielding is concerned, we do very well in the practice sessions but we have a few players who perform well with the bat and then do not concentrate while fielding. They stand near the boundary, sign autographs and talk to girls. I have my eye on a few such players."

Afridi also complained of not being told in advance of his being made captain during the ODI series against Australia. Mohammad Yousuf had led Pakistan in the first four games and Afridi filled in for the last one. "I told our coach Intikhab Alam very clearly to tell me well in advance if I were to captain the team in the ODIs against Australia," he said. "But I was still made the captain only 40 minutes before the match."

The coach was blamed for contributing to the team's demoralisation, as Intikhab was shown to have placed little confidence in his team. "Even as I prepared to go for the toss, undue pressure was put on me to win the toss," Afridi said. "And I was told we will win the match only if we win the toss. I told Alam, he should not demoralise the players. I am sure comments like those can be avoided.

"Yawar Saeed [the manager] is a disciplinarian and we need to ensure people like him enforce strict discipline in the team. No one should be spared."

He also called on the selection committee to appoint captains for longer tenures, of at least a year. "Also, the selection committee needs to give the captain of the team a longer run. Whoever is made captain should be allowed a stint for at least a year."


07 Jun 10 at 05:29

Well, you can see why Pakistan lost the unlosable test match at the SCG. If you don't have belief in yourself and the team, you are already defeated and there is no point really in turning up to play. You are just confirming formalities.

07 Jun 10 at 05:39

Different sport, but still applies. The Aussie girl should have won easily, not to be.

Schiavone win down to self-belief

French Open champion Francesca Schiavone insisted she had always believed in her potential even if few outsiders imagined she could ever reach the heights of winning a Grand Slam title.

The 29-year-old Italian produced a magnificent performance to defeat pre-match favourite Sam Stosur of Australia 6-4 7-6 (7-2) at Roland Garros on Saturday.

It made Schiavone the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam title, and the second-oldest woman to claim a first major title after the 30-year-old Ann Jones at Wimbledon in 1969.

"I always believe in myself," she said. "Not about the trophy or the tournament, but just in myself. I think this was the key to everything. I'm so happy. I'm really so happy."

Schiavone edged a tight first set with the only break and recovered from 4-1 down in the second to force a tie-break, which she totally dominated.

"I was feeling much more energy and more and more and more," she said of those closing points. "I couldn't stop it. I really felt that that was my one moment. I took it. I didn't lose the chance. I didn't care about anything, I wanted to take that point and play my tennis. It was the moment."

The 5ft 5ins Italian did a superb job of keeping the powerful Stosur on the back foot throughout the match and put that down to thorough preparation.

"I prepared the final mentally and tactically very well," she said. "I was so concentrated on my serve. I tried not to look anywhere but just to feel my play and try to be aggressive as much as I could."

Schiavone earned Β£927,000 for her afternoon's work in Paris, over a quarter of what she had accumulated in her previous 12 years as a professional, during which she has only won three other titles.

Her immediate plans could see some of that wealth being called upon.

"I want to go home to mummy and daddy," she said. "This is my goal for the moment, because usually we do a good dinner or a good lunch for 10 people. Now I think I have to buy a new bigger house, for 50 people."

The Milanese player, who took a call on court from Italian president Giorgio Napolitano in the moments after her victory, was urged on by a large group of supporters on Court Philippe Chatrier but was surprised to see so many familiar faces, all wearing T-shirts bearing the message: 'Schiavone: Nothing is Impossible.'

Asked to explain the T-shirts, she admitted: "The truth is that I don't know, because they arrived this morning by car and I saw them when I finished. So now I don't know. And they are leaving, so I don't think I will know this for two or three days."

Schiavone explained her post-match ritual of kissing the clay-courts - "It's to thank this clay, this beautiful tournament and this arena" - but asked to recall her thoughts at the moment of victory, the Italian could only laugh.

"I think that I am a champion, the number one of this tournament," she said. "We were 128 players, and I am the champion. It's a big emotion. What did Federer say? What did Rafa say? I'm trying to remember, but it's not coming, nothing."

Stosur had gone into the match as the favourite after successive wins over Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic but admitted she had been outplayed in the final.

"It's a disappointment no matter what the case, whether I was the favourite or not," she said. "I mean, sure, going into the match I thought I could win. Past results had gone my way."

She added: "Right now it's not easy and I really wish I'd won but when you play someone who played well against you, sometimes you've just got to say, 'Too good.'

I'm proud of this moment, and I want to look at it as a really positive time in my career, my life

Sam Stosur

"I am disappointed. Obviously it's because I lost, but it's just been a big journey and a great two weeks and I guess you wanted the full fairytale, but it didn't quite happen."

Stosur said that she had known what to expect from Schiavone but just could not handle the Italian's attacking game plan.

"I kind of expected her to be aggressive, because in the other times that we played recently she probably wasn't aggressive enough and I totally dictated what happened and I won them," said Stosur.

"So I was expecting her to do something different, because if you're going to do the same thing, you're going to get the same result."

And having improved on last year's run to the semi-finals, Stosur could take at least take comfort from the fact that she is edging closer to a first Grand Slam title.

"I can only look at it as a great two weeks," she said. "To make my first final was fantastic and to beat the players that I did to get to that point and everything, it's missing that one thing, and that's winning at the end.

"You know, I'm proud of this moment, and I want to look at it as a really positive time in my career, my life, and I want to enjoy it as much as I can."

23 May 14 at 04:01

Good One! Smiling