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Cricket: Amla dropped, Ngidi returns to ODI squad

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Fast bowlers Lungi Ngidi and uncapped Anrich Nortje were named in a 14-man South African squad on Sunday for the first three of five one-day internationals against Sri Lanka.

Veteran batsman Hashim Amla was not included for the start of South Africa’s last series before the Cricket World Cup in England from May to July – but selection convener Linda Zondi said Amla, 35, remained a senior player.

The series starts, at the Wanderers Stadium on 3 March.

“Those players who were in the squad against Pakistan (in January) but who have been left out this time have not been dropped. We need to use the first part of this series to examine all the options that are available to us,” said Zondi. “We know, for example, what Hashim Amla has to offer us and he remains a senior member of our squad.”

Also omitted is JP Duminy, who has not played since October because of a shoulder injury. Zondi said he hoped that Duminy, regarded as a key to South Africa’s World Cup hopes because of his batting, fielding and off-spin bowling, would be fit for the final two matches against Sri Lanka.

Ngidi and Nortje, who made a sensational impression with his pace in a Twenty20 tournament early in the season, have both returned to action in recent weeks. Ngidi suffered a knee injury in Australia in November, while Nortje has been sidelined by an ankle problem.

Zondi said the selectors wanted to see what Nortje, 25, could offer. “Outright pace is not something that you can coach and he looks another exciting addition to our pace arsenal.”

The squad includes only five players who were part of the Test squad beaten 2-0 in a Test series against Sri Lanka which ended on Saturday – captain Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Wiaan Mulder, Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn.

South African squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock (wkt), Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.

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“Hands off, leave Caster Semenya alone”: parliamentarians support Olympic champion

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South African Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa has urged politicians to unite across the Caster Semenya case and support her in a legal battle against rules proposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The association suggested regulations at which women with naturally higher testosterone levels must to control it and undergo treatment to attend international competitions.

The South African parliamentarians supported Olympic 800 m champion in her on-going legal fight with the IAAF:

“ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT, WE STAND IN SUPPORT OF THE HAND-OFF CASTER CAMPAIGN,” SAID UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT CHIEF WHIP NQABAYOMZI KWANKWA.

“HANDS OFF, BACK OFF AND LEAVE CASTER SEMENYA ALONE,” ADDED THE NATIONAL FREEDOM PARTY’S NHLANHLA KHUBISA.

The three-judge panel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport to make a final decision on or before 26 March.

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Graham Henry joins ‘League of Nations’ revolt – says it would ‘kill Rugby World Cup’

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WELLINGTON – World Rugby’s proposed ‘League of Nations’ competition will kill off interest in the Rugby World Cup, former All Blacks coach Graham Henry warned Friday after a player revolt over the plan.

Henry, who steered New Zealand to World Cup victory in 2011, was dismissive about the blueprint, which will reportedly involve 12 nations playing annually in a competition along the lines of football’s UEFA Nations League.

“The players don’t want it, they’re overplayed now, so it’s not going to happen,” he told TV3.

Henry predicted rugby’s showpiece tournament, which is played once every four years, would not survive if the proposal went ahead.

“It’s going to kill the Rugby World Cup because you’re going to have a mini-World Cup every year, so people are going to lose interest,” he said.

International Rugby Players, the global body representing professional players, has also strongly condemned the plan, with president and reigning world player of the year Johnny Sexton saying it places commercial interests ahead of player safety

New Zealand players’ association chief executive Rob Nichol said players felt they had been “dismissed and disrespected” by World Rugby as it reportedly contemplates a 12-year deal with a major broadcaster to set up the competition.

Aside from player welfare, Nichol said other key concerns were the lack of a promotion-relegation element in the competition and the way it locked out Pacific island nations and emerging powers such as Georgia.

“We’re not going to let a commercial land-grab happen here at the expense of player welfare and the integrity of the international game,” he told Radio Sport.

‘No simple solution’

Pacific Rugby Players chief Aayden Clarke was concerned rugby union would wither in island nations such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga if they were excluded.
“It’s going to have a huge impact,” he told stuff.co.nz.

“We’re going to see players withdrawing from Test rugby and signing three- to four-year deals with French or UK clubs,” he said.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read is among those who have spoken out against the concept and his employer, New Zealand Rugby, moved to assure players Friday that their voice would be heard.

NZR chief Steve Tew said no final decisions had been made and expressed frustration the latest version of the planned competition had leaked less than 24 hours after it was finalised.

Tew said there were a number of fundamentals his organisation would insist on – including a pathway for developing countries, including the Pacific, and no additional workload on players.

“There’s no simple solution to this, but New Zealand Rugby remains committed to working through the proposals with the right people in the room,” he said.

Tew said World Rugby would discuss the plan at meetings later this month.

World Rugby has refused to confirm leaked details of the competition but insists players’ concerns are being addressed.

“Now it’s out in the open, I think transparency will be good for the process,” Nichol said.

“Provided World Rugby take it on board, maybe with a little bit of humbleness, and reach out to the players to get things back on track.”

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Guardiola hails ‘fantastic’ City as they edge out West Ham

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LONDON – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola praised his side’s “incredible” performance after a 1-0 win at home to West Ham on Wednesday saw them keep pace with Premier League leaders Liverpool.

City dominated the early stages at the Etihad and could have had several goals, but in the end they had to make do with a 59th-minute penalty from Sergio Aguero, awarded when West Ham’s Felipe Anderson was ruled to have tripped Bernardo Silva in the box.

Victory left reigning English champions City in second place, just a point adrift of Liverpool, who thrashed Watford 5-0 at Anfield on Wednesday.

“It was a very hard result, but the performance was incredible,” Guardiola told the BBC.

The Spaniard added: “Had we scored one or two in the first five minutes the game would have been completely different, but we did very well.

“The game became a little bit flat. We started the second half really well. We just didn’t score enough goals to make the last 15 to 20 minutes a little bit more relaxed,” the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager insisted.

“We fought a lot to be close to Liverpool. The result could be better, but the way we played is fantastic.”

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