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May 29, 2009

Ricky Ponting remains Aussies' most marketable star

Ricky PontingTest cricket skipper Ricky Ponting remains Australia's most marketable sports star but teammate Andrew Symonds has lost his luster with sponsors, a survey has found.

Ponting, who is preparing to lead the Australian team in defence of the Ashes in England over the coming months, has held his place at the top for the third successive year of the Sweeney Sports Report.

The Aussie skipper tops the list ahead of recently-retired Olympic swimming champion Grant Hackett and semi-retired cricketer Adam Gilchrist.

But while Ponting is in favour, the contentious Symonds is on the nose with the marketers and has tumbled to 36th in the survey after reaching a high of 10th position in last year's report.

Symonds last week missed selection for the Ashes tour following his struggle to recover form after a series of off-field incidents.

The problems started when Symonds was cleaver from the national team after his 'gone fishing' episode in Darwin last year, while he was also fined for a well-publicised alcohol-fuelled rant in a radio interview.

"His fall from favour continues a consistent attitude among Australians that sports stars involved in controversial behaviour are not regarded as highly marketable," Sweeney Sports general manager Todd Deacon said.

Fellow cricketer Shane Warne and tennis stars Jelena Dokic and Mark Philippousis have in the past suffered similar falls, Deacon said.

Another sportsman to fall from grace was Sonny Bill Williams, who generated headlines last year following his controversial departure from Australia's National Rugby League to play rugby with Toulon in France.

The Kiwi international, who left the Canterbury Bulldogs in the lurch, is listed at 78th in the survey, a fall of 34 positions.

Triple Beijing Olympic swimming gold medallist Stephanie Rice debuted in seventh place in the latest survey and is the highest-ranked sportswoman, ahead of former Olympic 400m champion runner Cathy Freeman, in eighth.

Fellow Olympic champion swimmers Leisel Jones and Libby Trickett climbed the list to 12th and 13th positions respectively, up from equal 20th position last year.

Two-time grand slam tennis champion Lleyton Hewitt slumped to 32 in the survey after an injury-hit year.

The survey's findings are based on 1,000 interviews conducted with the public between October 2008 and March 2009.

The survey's top ten are: 1. Ricky Ponting (cricket)
eq2. Grant Hackett (swimming)
eq2. Adam Gilchrist (cricket)
4. Glenn McGrath (cricket)
5. Pat Rafter (tennis)
6. Ian Thorpe (swimming)
7. Stephanie Rice (swimming)
eq8. Cathy Freeman (athletics)
eq8. Steve Waugh (cricket)
10. Casey Stoner (motorcycling).

May 14, 2009

England won the toss and bat against the West Indies

England skipper Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bat against the West Indies in the 2nd Test at the Riverside here on Thursday.

Two teams were unchanged from the first Test at Lord's last week which England won by 10 wickets, with more than two days to spare, to go 1-0 up in this two-match Test series.


England: Andrew Strauss (c), Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior (w), Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Graham Onions

West Indies: Chris Gayle (c), Devon Smith, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Brendan Nash, Denesh Ramdin (w), Jerome Taylor, Sulieman Benn, Fidel Edwards, Lionel Baker

Umpires: Steve Davis (AUS) and Asoka de Silva (SRI)

TV umpire: Peter Hartley (ENG)

Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)

May 7, 2009

Ravi Bopara hundred bolsters England

Ravi BoparaWest Indies captain Chris Gayle won the toss and elected to field in overcast conditions which looked as if they might assist his pacemen.

Ravi Bopara's second successive Test hundred was the centrepiece of England's 289/7 on the first day of their test series opener with the West Indies at Lord's here on Wednesday.

Bopara prohibited a complete collapse against Fidel Edwards, who took four wickets for 53 runs in 19 overs including the reward scalp of Kevin Pietersen for nought.

Bopara said he had not been edgy atall as he approached the century mark.

"I felt really relaxed, but I wanted to reach it off a single and not a boundary so I could run down the other end and really respire it in," said Bopara, whose century will have satisfied the selectors they made the right choice in picking him and not Ian Bell or former captain Michael Vaughan.

"It was a good day, to be honest I wasn't thinking too much about it this morning or in the days leading up to it. I was just hanging out with my friends."

Fast bowler Edwards might have had a few more had not Ravi Bopara been missed off a simple ability and Stuart Broad, dropped two catches off the Bajan's bowling, given four reprieves as the West Indies put down a potentially costly six catches after the tea interval.

Broad, was eventually out for 38 when he cut left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, who'd dropped him off his own bowling, to Jerome Taylor at point after a stand of 69 with Bopara had taken England to 262 for six.

Benn then had Test debutant Tim Bresnan lbw for nine, with Graeme Swann seven not out at the close.

Both Bopara and Edwards had recently honed their games by playing in the Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 tournament featuring most of the world's leading players.

Bopara, whose temperament was a key factor in his promotion up the order from number six ahead of Bell and Vaughan, rarely looked flustered.

In his first Test at Lord's, Bopara went to a 207-ball century with a quick single off Lionel Baker.

England at tea were 182 for four after Edwards had dismissed Alastair Cook, Pietersen and Paul Collingwood.

Bopara should have been out five balls afterwards when he clipped Edwards straight to square leg only for Brendan Nash to drop the chance.

Edwards though did have his fourth wicket when Matt Prior, facing his first ball after tea, hit straight to cover on 42 where Lendl Simmons made no mistake to leave England on 193 for five and so end a partnership worth 84.

Edwards had now taken four wickets for 19 runs in six overs and then had Broad missed twice with West Indies Skipper Chris Gayle, who only arrived in England from IPL duty on Monday, dropping a comfortable first slip catch.

Edwards, 27, had earlier rocked England in the fourth over after lunch with two wickets in successive balls.

He first bowled Cook for 35 off the inside edge and next ball produced a 91mph beauty which squared up Pietersen and took the outside edge with wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin holding a fine one-handed catch as he dived low to his right.

England, who had been 88 for one at lunch, were now 92 for three with Edwards on a hat-trick at the start of his next over. Collingwood lived that but fell soon afterwards.

However, the cloud cover soon disappeared as England captain Andrew Strauss and fellow left-handed opener Cook an established in on a ground where the last six Tests have all ended in draws.

But Andrew Strauss, who made hundreds in three successive Tests against the West Indies during England's 1-0 series loss in the Caribbean this year, was trapped behind off Taylor.

May 4, 2009

Gautam Gambhir placed fourth in the ICC test rankings

Indian Opener Gautam Gambhir is the highest-placed Indian batsman at 4th while Harbhajan Singh is the top Indian bowler at 6th in the most recent ICC Test Rankings issued today.

India is 3rd in the Test Championship bench just two points behind South Africa.

Other Indian batsmen Sachin Tendulkar (14th), VVS Laxman (16th) and Virender Sehwag (20th) are the inside the top-20.

Meanwhile, England, now placed sixth on the table, will straight away move up one spot if it wins both the matches of its upcoming two-Test series against West Indies.

Victories at Lord's and again at Durham would make England three ratings points giving it a total of 101, a single point ahead of Pakistan. A 1-0 series win would leave it on 100 ratings point except behind Younus Khan's team by a portion.

However, a 2-0 win for the West Indies would leave just one ratings point unraveling the two with England chink three points to 95 and the men from the Caribbean gaining five points to 94.

England's highest-ranked batsman is Kevin Pietersen in 6th position. The highest-ranked batsman from either side is Shivnarine Chanderpaul who occupies the top spot.