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Indian ‘Masters’ ready to play hockey again | Hockey News

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NEW DELHI: The sting of a Dhanraj solo run, a Pargat hit or a Jagbir dive at the goal-mouth might be missing; but the nostalgia that India’s Masters team promises is something fans can lick their lips over.
The ship was set afloat in March this year when Hockey India (HI) joined World Masters Hockey, which is also recognised by the International Hockey Federation. A few days back, the wheels were set further in motion when HI activated its state units to take a roll-call of their respective former Olympians, both men and women.
The idea is to have all the available players registered and representative(s) from each state association who can work under the Masters Committee, led by its chairman Harbinder Singh.

The greats of the game in India are chuffed about the idea, though things like funding such matches, tournaments or tours can always be a bane.
At the moment, however, the former players are carrying an excited smile about the prospect of running to the pitch again.
“Some of my old mates were asking me, ‘will we see your dive and goal again now?'” said Jagbir Singh, who is also a member of the Asian Hockey Federation’s Masters committee, talking to Timesofindia.com.
“There are so many Olympians in India that I think each state can have its own Masters team. When they start coming together to practice or maybe play a game, I am sure people would love to see that,” the former centre-forward hoped.
There are various age categories available as per World Masters Hockey, ranging from over 35 to over 75 years for men and over 35 to over 65 years for women, confirmed Hockey India.

The Masters World Cups for men and women were scheduled this year but couldn’t take place due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. South Africa, England and Japan were the hosts of the tournaments.
It’s a stage where India would want to reach once it has its machinery in place to look after Masters hockey.
“It’s still in the initial stages. We have only started with formulating the committees and looking at the possible opportunities. The committees have been primarily formulated to re-introduce the former players back into their beloved sport as a recreational activity,” Hockey India told Timesofindia.com.
Former India captain Dhanraj Pillay sounded very optimistic, though he was at his wittiest best when talking about who will captain India’s Masters team.
“Abhi kahan bhai saab, 50 cross kar gaye (it’s a long shot to play now, I am past 50). Dilip and others can play,” he told TimesofIndia.com with a smile from Odisha, where he had visited his former teammate Dilip Tirkey earlier this week.
And who will captain the side?
“Pargat paji aaye to Dhanraj kahan se lead karega (if Pargat Singh is in the team, how can I lead),” Dhanraj quipped. “Hamara bhi to banta hai respect for seniors (I have to give respect to my seniors).”
Dhanraj, Dilip and former India drag-flicker Len Aiyappa also interacted with the Naval Tata Hockey Academy trainees in Bhubaneswar, sharing their experiences with the youngsters.

To help Masters hockey take off after the pandemic is over, it could be a possibility to involve the current national-team players to play a few exhibition matches with the Masters teams whenever both are available.
While Jagbir called it a “good idea”, Hockey India said it will be a difficult prospect.
“This is a very good idea. When things get better, we can look at it,” said Jagbir.
But the federation didn’t sound too optimistic.
“The current core probables already have a full calendar of training and matches year round. We would encourage athletes that are looking to retire from the national squad to continue to make themselves available and play in the Masters category,” HI responded to Timesofindia.com’s query.
And then there will be the hurdle of funding Masters hockey.
Jagbir agreed, while adding that the world over Masters hockey is largely self-funded.
“One of the key things is that it is self-financed. Worldwide, whenever Masters teams travel, they contribute money and make it possible. It’s not easy to find sponsors for a Masters team,” he said.
That, however, didn’t dampen his spirits.
“But hockey kal bhi, aaj bhi aur kal bhi (hockey yesterday, today and tomorrow),” he said before ending the conversation.



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Babar Azam appointed captain for all three formats and for a long time: PCB chief executive | Cricket News

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KARACHI: A top official of the Pakistan Cricket Board has made it clear that Babar Azam has been appointed captain for all three formats on a long-term basis.
“I can assure you that until Ehsan Mani and myself are in the Pakistan board Babar will remain captain.
“We have appointed him captain because he is our best batsman, young and mentally very strong and he himself wanted to take on the responsibility for all three formats,” PCB chief executive officer Wasim Khan said in an interview.

When the PCB official was reminded about the constant changing and chopping in Pakistan cricket, he insisted that Babar was there to stay for a long time.
“We felt that he is our best choice because he has a good future, he is our best batsman and getting better every day and we have found him to be mentally very strong when we first tested him as captain in the white ball formats.
“That’s why when the time came we felt that Azhar Ali had done his best but now was the time to start grooming Babar and make him test captain as well,” Khan said.
He said the chairman Mani had held a discussion with Babar and later on decided he was ready for the job.
“Babar himself showed keen interest in becoming Test captain and assured us he could handle the pressures and it would not affect his batting,” Khan added.


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Uncertainty prevails over T20 World Cup in India due to COVID-19, could be shifted to UAE: PCB | Cricket News

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KARACHI: Pakistan Cricket Board CEO Wasim Khan feels next year’s ICC T20 World Cup could be shifted to the UAE as “some element of uncertainty” still remains over whether India would be in a position to host the event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is still some uncertainty over the World T20 being held in India…yes because of the Covid situation there. It could be in the UAE,” Khan said in an interview to the Cricket Baaz YouTube channel.
Reminding that India had planned to host a home series against England and also the IPL in the first quarter of 2021, Khan said a clear picture would come only by April.
The ICC has awarded the 2021 World T20 to India and Australia will now host the 2022 edition with the 50-over World Cup also scheduled to be held in India in 2023.
Khan also reiterated that the PCB was waiting for a written confirmation from the ICC and BCCI by January on issuance of visas to the Pakistan squad for the World T20 in India.
“Yes Mani Sahab (PCB chief Ehsan Mani) has written to them and requested them that given the state of relations between India and Pakistan, it would be best if the ICC and BCCI gives a written assurance about the visas being issued to us,” Khan said.
He also disclosed that an online meeting of the Asian Cricket Council last week had tentatively set June as the time to host the postponed Asia Cup in Sri Lanka but the dates could be rescheduled if required.
“The next Asia Cup will be hosted in Sri Lanka in June and we have got hosting rights now for the 2022 Asia Cup,” he said.
Khan said that although bilateral series with India is still a distant reality because of the border tensions between the two countries, it is ICC’s responsibility to guarantee participation off all nations in any world event.
“But yes bilateral relations are not ideal and that is why we have also asked for the assurances for next year’s World Cup,” he said.
But the PCB CEO hoped that in future the situation could change as far as cricket relations are concerned between Indian and Pakistan.


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Babar Azam appointed captain for all three formats and for a long time: PCB chief executive

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KARACHI: A top official of the Pakistan Cricket Board has made it clear that Babar Azam has been appointed captain for all three formats on a long-term basis.

“I can assure you that until Ehsan Mani and myself are in the Pakistan board Babar will remain captain.

“We have appointed him captain because he is our best batsman, young and mentally very strong and he himself wanted to take on the responsibility for all three formats,” PCB chief executive officer Wasim Khan said in an interview.

When the PCB official was reminded about the constant changing and chopping in Pakistan cricket, he insisted that Babar was there to stay for a long time.

“We felt that he is our best choice because he has a good future, he is our best batsman and getting better every day and we have found him to be mentally very strong when we first tested him as captain in the white ball formats.

“That’s why when the time came we felt that Azhar Ali had done his best but now was the time to start grooming Babar and make him test captain as well,” Khan said.

He said the chairman Mani had held a discussion with Babar and later on decided he was ready for the job.

“Babar himself showed keen interest in becoming Test captain and assured us he could handle the pressures and it would not affect his batting,” Khan added.



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