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Wimbledon aims to give viewers ‘different experience’; AELTC takes steps to popularise tennis in India, says Ankita Raina

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Wimbledon aims to give viewers ‘different experience’; AELTC takes steps to popularise tennis in India, says Ankita Raina

New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) The All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) is one of the most prestigious committees in tennis and hosts and manages the oldest tennis event in the world, the Wimbledon. In an exclusive conversation with IANS, tennis star Ankita Raina shares what makes Wimbledon so prestigious and AELTC’s initiatives to popularise tennis in India.

“It is the dream of many tennis players to go and play at the iconic venue. In tennis, there are four Grand Slams, but I would say that, you know, Wimbledon is a bit more special. And I would say that it’s a bit harder because there’s a lot of heritage around it. And there are some things which you can only experience when you’re once there,” Raina told IANS.

The AELTC is committed to bringing fans of The Championships, and Wimbledon in India an improved viewing experience, as the popularity of the event continues to increase. Year-on-year viewing figures in India increased, by +96% in 2023 compared with 2022, and entries into this year’s Wimbledon Public Ballot from fans in India rose by +74% compared to last year.

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“As we all know, it’s a prestigious event, one of the biggest tennis events. They are trying to engage more and more fans in India with Wimbledon for tennis and, you know, giving a different kind of experience. And this time they have also has come up with the Hindi commentary, which I feel is a great step, which I think will help the sport, tennis, going to the, you know, rural areas as that will help more and more fans, more and more people to maybe get a hang of the sport and get to know more about the scoring system,” added the Indian tennis star.

As part of this, the All-England Club has announced an agreement with Star Sports Network, which will see The Championships broadcast with Hindi commentary for the first time. This initiative will be further supported by localised social media content and an array of influencers to generate excitement and drive a deeper connection with Indian fans.

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To support these efforts, the British Embassy in New Delhi will host a special screening event on July 13 with up to 100 invited guests -– including embassy dignitaries, influencers, athletes, and All-England Club representatives to watch the ladies’ singles final.

Going to The Championship is a once in a lifetime opportunity for any player and Ankita got the opportunity to participate in the games, a memory which she believes was a ‘dream come true.’

“It was like for any other player, you know, a dream come true. Because when you start playing tennis, it’s the highest level of event where you want to be, where you want to represent yourself, represent your country. And I do remember this one occasion when I was in the players’ area, dining area, and standing on the balcony viewing all the courts. And Roger Federer was just a few metres away,” fondly recalled Raina.

Raina has eleven singles and 25 doubles titles on the ITF Circuit in addition to one title each on the WTA Tour and one WTA 125 tournament. The 31-year-old went on to talk about how India is ‘doing great’, in Tennis and the impact that has had on the sport.

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“I think we are doing great. Like, you must have seen that we have now, you know, a lot of men’s players in the doubles top 100. Also, we had Sumit Nagal and Rohan at Wimbledon. Having a representation, a flag bearer there definitely gives you a lot of boost and motivation. And personally, I have played in that event so I know what kind of impact it has made,” she concluded,

–IANS

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Paris Olympics: NBA legend LeBron James voted as flag-bearer by USA contingent

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Paris Olympics: NBA legend LeBron James voted as flag-bearer by USA contingent

Paris Olympics: NBA legend LeBron James voted as flag-bearer by USA contingent

London, July 22 (IANS) LeBron James, a National Basketball Association (NBA) legend, has been announced as the first men’s basketball player in history to be the official flag-bearer of the USA Olympic contingent during the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympic Games, starting on July 26. He was voted for the honour by all members of the US contingent who will be representing the country at the Games.

“It’s an incredible honour to represent the United States on this global stage, especially in a moment that can bring the whole world together. For a kid from Akron, this responsibility means everything to not only myself but to my family, all the kids in my hometown, my teammates, fellow Olympians and so many people across the country with big aspirations. Sports have the power to bring us all together, and I’m proud to be a part of this important moment,” said James upon being bestowed this honour.

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The opening ceremony of the 2024 Paris Olympics will take place on Friday at the River Seine.

‘King James’ is all set to represent his national colours for the fourth time in Olympics history with him already having won the bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and gold in the 2012 London Olympics.

Although James is the first men’s player who has been bestowed the honour of being the flag-bearer, WNBA stars Dawn Staley (2004) and Sue Bird (2020) have previously been the female flag-bearers.

The USA basketball team will be a force to reckon with at the Games with the biggest NBA players all set to represent their national colours in what can only be described as a star-studded lineup with the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid and Anthony Edwards amongst a few of the many stars who will be taking part in Paris.

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–IANS

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Paris Olympics: Indian shooting is unique, you can't predict anything, says Manavjit Singh

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Paris Olympics: Indian shooting is unique, you can't predict anything, says Manavjit Singh

Paris Olympics: Indian shooting is unique, you can't predict anything, says Manavjit Singh

Faridabad (Haryana), July 22 (IANS) Trap Shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu is hopeful of ‘two to four medals’ from the Indian shooting squad at the Paris Olympics. India’s 21-member shooting squad is the second largest after athletics in the upcoming Paris Olympics. It is also India’s largest-ever shooting contingent in the history of the Games, surpassing the previous best of 15 from Tokyo.

As the number of shooters has increased in the squad, their expectations have also multiplied manyfold, after firing blanks and returning empty-handed from the last two Olympics despite putting up a record number of players.

However, Olympian Manavjit feels that this squad, a blend of young and experienced members, will excel in the Olympics.

“The whole squad looks confident and I expect two to four medals, particularly from the young squad. Each player is well-trained and has worked hard for the spot. All the players are world-class and also carry a whole lot of experience. So the performance will be much better than previous appearances,” Manavjit told IANS on the sidelines of the ‘Glory of Five Rings’ event.

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“The interesting thing is that the nature of our shooting is quite unique. The least expected one performs at the top level. So you just can’t name anyone from the squad,” he added.

India’s last Olympic medal(s) in the sport came in the 2012 London Olympics when Vijay Kumar shot a silver in men’s 25m rapid fire pistol and

Gagan Narang claimed a bronze medal in men’s 10m air rifle. Narang is currently in Paris as India’s Chef-de-Mission.

India’s first Olympic medal in shooting was bagged by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore when he claimed silver in men’s double trap in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Since then the country has clinched three more medals in the sport including Abhinav Bindra’s historic first individual gold in men’s 10m air rifle in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The shooters will be shouldering the biggest burden of the hopes as they will be hoping to find success for the first time since the 2012 Games. Our biggest hopes in the 21-member shooting squad will be centred around rifle shooters Sarabjot Singh, Manu Bhaker, Sift Kaur Samra, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Swapnil Kusale and Rhythm.

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“Anjum Moudgil is the one who will strive for the medal and she is a champion player and when Anjum shoots well the other youngsters in the squad also get confidence from that. So how youngsters will perform all depends on the seniors they will have to share their confidence with the other members.

India’s shooting squad for Paris Olympics:

Rifle

Men’s 10m air rifle: Sandeep Singh, Arjun Babuta

Women’s 10m air rifle: Elavenil Valarivan, Ramita Jindal

Women’s 50m rifle 3 positions: Sift Kaur Samra, Anjum Moudgil

Men’s 50m rifle 3 positions: Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Swapnil Kusale

10m air rifle mixed team: Sandeep Singh/Elavenil Valarivan, Arjun Babuta/Ramita Jindal

Pistol

Men’s 10m air pistol: Sarabjot Singh, Arjun Cheema

Women’s 10m air pistol: Manu Bhaker, Rhythm Sangwan

Men’s 25m rapid fire pistol: Anish Bhanwala, Vijayveer Sidhu

Women’s 25m pistol: Manu Bhaker, Esha Singh

10m air pistol mixed team: Sarabjot Singh/Manu Bhaker, Arjun Singh Cheema/Rhythm Sangwan

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Shotgun

Men’s trap: Prithviraj Tondaiman

Women’s trap: Rajeshwari Kumari, Shreyasi Singh

Men’s skeet: Anantjeet Singh Naruka

Women’s skeet: Maheshwari Chauhan, Raiza Dhillon

Skeet mixed team: Anantjeet Singh Naruka/Maheshwari Chauhan

–IANS

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ICC appoints Roger Twose, Lawson Naidoo, Imran Khwaja to review delivery of 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup

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ICC appoints Roger Twose, Lawson Naidoo, Imran Khwaja to review delivery of 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup

ICC appoints Roger Twose, Lawson Naidoo, Imran Khwaja to review delivery of 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup

Colombo, July 22 (IANS) Following the conclusion of the ICC Annual Conference in Colombo, the global governing body’s board has appointed three of its directors — Roger Twose, Lawson Naidoo and Imran Khwaja -– to review the delivery of 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, held from June 1-29 in the USA and the West Indies.

The 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup was momentous as the first-ever global cricket event was held in the USA -– with 16 matches played in New York, Dallas and Florida. The Nassau County International Stadium in New York was built from scratch but was met with criticism of drop-in pitches and slow outfield.

Moreover, teams like Sri Lanka and Ireland faced logistical issues due to their hotels being an hour away from the venue. What has come under scrutiny is the claims of spending in the USA-leg of the competition going above the original budget, and who has to be held responsible for it.

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For conducting the USA leg of the tournament, an independent company named T20 World Cup USA Inc. was established. ICC said in its statement on Monday that Twose, Naidoo and Khwaja will report back their findings on the tournament’s conduct to the Board later in the year.

ICC also added that USA Cricket and Cricket Chile have been formally put on notice and have 12 months to rectify their current non-compliance with the ICC Membership Criteria.

The Board agreed that a Normalisation Committee comprising Board and Management representatives will be set up to oversee and monitor USA Cricket’s compliance roadmap and the ICC Board will reserve its right to suspend or expel the Member for continued non-compliance.

USA Cricket has been in turmoil for a long time, as it is yet to complete ‘governance reform processes recommended by the USA Olympic and Paralympic Committee’. The trouble began when CEO Dr. Noor Mohammad Murad’s contract was terminated in March, with directors Kuljit Singh Nijjar and Arjun Gona temporarily suspended last week by USA Cricket due to a breach of member conduct policy.

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ICC also said its Americas office will work with Cricket Chile to support them in remedying their non-compliance. Neither Chile nor the USA is considered to have in place a fit-for-purpose detailed governance and administrative structure and systems.

The Chief Executives’ Committee confirmed the allocation of the eight regional qualifying spots for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2026, to be jointly held by India and Sri Lanka. This would see two teams qualify from Africa and Europe, one from the Americas and three from a combined Asia and EAP regional final.

The ICC Board has also approved an expansion of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup to 16 teams in 2030. The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup has seen its participation grow from eight in the inaugural edition in 2009 to 10 in 2016.

The number will grow to 12 in 2026 in the tournament set to be played in England before expanding to 16 teams in 2030. Additionally, the Board confirmed that the qualification cut-off date for the 2026 edition will be October 31, 2024.

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The CEC also approved the appointment of Paul Reiffel to the Men’s Cricket Committee as the Elite Panel Umpire, whilst Richie Richardson was confirmed as the Elite Panel Referee on the Committee.

The ICC Annual Conference concluded in Colombo with the ICC Board and ICC Annual General Meeting attended by all 108 ICC Members. The theme of the four-day conference was “capitalizing on the Olympic opportunity” ahead of cricket’s inclusion in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

–IANS

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Durban's Super Giants sign Brandon King for SA20 Season 3

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Durban's Super Giants sign Brandon King for SA20 Season 3

Durban's Super Giants sign Brandon King for SA20 Season 3

Durban, July 22 (IANS) Durban’s Super Giants have bolstered their batting unit for the SA20 Season 3 with the signing of West Indies opener Brandon King. King, 29, is a vastly experienced T20 batter, having played 142 T20 matches, including 55 T20Is for the West Indies.

The right-handed batter was a central figure for the West Indies in the recent T20 World Cup in the USA and Caribbean before suffering a side strain in the Super Eight match against England in St. Lucia that curtailed his participation in the tournament. The Jamaican has struck 3,349 T20 runs at an average of 27.51 and a strike rate of 133.31. This run-tally includes two centuries and 21 half-centuries.

He was particularly prolific over the last 12 months, being named in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Team of Tournament 2023, after amassing 288 runs for the now-defunct Jamaica Tallawahs. King was also superb in the T20I series against the Proteas in the build-up to the T20 World Cup, where he topped the run-scoring charts across both teams with 179 runs at an average of 53.0 during the three-match series.

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King joins a growing list of West Indians who have brought their unique Caribbean flair to Kingsmead in the past two seasons. DSG’s cast of West Indies players includes Johnson Charles, Kyle Mayers, Jason Holder, Keemo Paul and Nicholas Pooran.

Kings’ West Indian opening partners Johnson Charles and Kyle Mayers, along with all-rounders Jason Holder and Keemo Paul, formed part of DSG’s Season 1 squad. Mayers and Paul returned to Durban for Season 2 along with Trinidad and Tobago superstar Nicholas Pooran, who was added as a Wildcard. The Super Giants claimed a credible runners-up position in season 2 and will hope that the addition of King will take them even one step further next year.

–IANS

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Root is so special that he could eventually overtake Sachin: Vaughan

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Root is so special that he could eventually overtake Sachin: Vaughan

Root is so special that he could eventually overtake Sachin: Vaughan

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Former captain Michael Vaughan has lauded Joe Root for being a special batter and has predicted that he could overtake Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most runs by a batter in the history of men’s Test cricket.

On Sunday, Root smashed 122 off 178 balls, his 32nd Test hundred, during England’s 241-run win over the West Indies at Nottingham to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Root, who now has 11,940 Test runs, has also become the eighth-highest run-getter in Test cricket, going past the likes of Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene (11,814) and the West Indies’ Shivnarine Chanderpaul (11,867).

“Joe Root will become England’s leading run-scorer in the next few months and is so special that he really could overtake Sachin Tendulkar eventually. As the rock, Root is obviously key to that, and I love that he kept the reverse-scoop in the locker until he was past 100 and England’s lead was massive.

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“Against an attack like the West Indies in these conditions, you expect him to get a century. He missed out in the first innings but was so determined to put it right in the second. He was never going to make the same mistakes,” wrote Vaughan in his column for The Telegraph.

He also praised right-handed batter Harry Brook for hitting his first Test century on home soil, but advised him to do something about his issues related to facing short ball. “Then there’s Harry Brook, who is going to provide spectators so many ‘I was there’ moments in the next few years. He will play innings and shots that just make you go “wow”. I have seen players with time, but I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone with that much time to play aggressive shots looking very easy. Stillness, trigger, hands high, cocked wrist.

“There is a bit of Kevin Pietersen there, that ability to play jaw-dropping innings. Darren Lehmann has coached some serious players and he tweeted on Sunday that he is in the top five players he has thrown balls to, alongside Steve Smith, Rohit Sharma, AB de Villiers and Kumar Sangakkara. That is special company to keep.

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“The short ball is his challenge, but I genuinely don’t think he’s got a weakness against it. He is just facing a fair bit of it, because it’s the obvious way to bowl to someone who is so aggressive. I don’t think it’s like a Kraigg Brathwaite, who has a problem with the short stuff, flicking in the air from armpit height.

“Brook has been out to it a few times in ungainly fashion, but I think that is just his ultra-aggression. I watch him net every morning at the Test match and he is getting peppered by the short ball, so he’s clearly thinking about it. In Australia, he might have to learn to duck and sway at times, because the boundaries are bigger and the pitches quicker,” he concluded.

–IANS

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