ICC silent over Code breach
No entry at the French Open
All cue sports back in Pusan
Jeev finishes joint 27th

Calcutta, May 14: 
The United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) needs to be complimented for not doing an Australia and suppressing very uncomfortable news.

[Till David Hookes broke the story, in late 1998, the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) had kept quiet over the fining of Shane Warne and Mark Waugh for interacting with bookies.]

However, the International Cricket Council�s (ICC�s) silence on the six South Africans� marijuana bash (again) doesn�t show the sport�s governing body in good light.

Of course, the UCBSA has already fined Herschelle Gibbs, Paul Adams, Roger Telemachus, Justin Kemp, Andre Nel and physio Craig Smith, but that�s purely an internal act of disciplining.

The question is: Why hasn�t the ICC, specifically (current) Match Referee John Reid, acted? All six, after all, have violated the ICC�s Code of Conduct, a copy of which is with The Telegraph.

In fact, Code C-11 unambiguously states: �Players and/or Team Officials shall not use or in any way be concerned in the use or distribution of illegal drugs.� Among other places, the consumption (and peddling) of marijuana is illegal both in South Africa and Antigua, where the incident took place.

Even if the ICC didn�t have a Code specific to drugs, the five players and Smith have in any case breached Code C-2: �Players and/or Team Officials shall at no time engage in conduct unbecoming to their status which could bring them or the game of cricket into disrepute.�

Generally, Match Referees act on Code violations which are reported to them, but absolutely nothing stops the Reids from acting on their own.

Reid, a former Rest of World and New Zealand captain, took over from ex-England captain Mike Denness for the seven ODIs which end Wednesday.

Assuming that Denness was kept in the dark � the bash occurred towards the end of the five-Test series when he was around � Reid, known to be tough, can act after the UCBSA�s own revelation, last Friday.

Nobody will be able to object as, rather sensibly, the ICC has made provision for the Match Referees to themselves take the initiative if so required. The relevant Reporting/Notification Procedure head reads: �A Referee has the right to investigate any incident which may be a breach of the Rules of Conduct whether or not the same has been reported...�

The Match Referee can either reprimand and/or slap a fine and/or impose a ban. The maximum ban can be three Tests or six ODIs or even a combination (two Tests and two ODIs/ one Test and four ODIs) of the two.

One awaits a word or two from the ICC and/or Reid. Incidentally, though the ICC has a drugs-related Code, it would do well to specifically list the �illegal� drugs. Not that this is a loophole which will allow Gibbs and associates to �escape� any ICC-convened inquiry, but the Code is today seen as a legal document and should be watertight.

Australia and England, it is understood, have a comprehensive list of banned drugs. Also, both have penalised players for partaking of something forbidden � for whatever reason.

As recently as last month, the ACB banned Western Australia�s Duncan Spencer for 18 months. The quick had tested positive in a random dope test.


Calcutta, May 14: 
The drought has ended. They have rediscovered the habit of finishing at the right end of the scoreline. The titles are coming, so are cheques-full of dollars. The Indian Express has resumed its normal service. Yet, Leander Paes is not a totally contented man.

It�s almost as if this return to form in tandem with Mahesh Bhupathi was inevitable. �As I have said before, it was a matter of getting our confidence back. Sooner or later, it was going to come with some wins under our belt,� Paes told The Telegraph last week from Rome where they flopped for the first time in four weeks.

That they have managed to turn the tide after three barren months has obviously taken a load off Paes� mind. Doubles, after all, has been their bread-and-butter for quite some time now. What is bugging him is his singles activity. Rather, the lack of it.

For a man who has produced some astonishing results playing for his country, Paes has been a huge under-performer on the ATP circuit.

It took him eight years to win his first ATP singles title � the 1998 Hall of Fame Championship in Newport � which remains till date his only tournament triumph. That season, he beat the likes of Pete Sampras, Sergi Bruguera and Marc Rosset in one week to end the year in the top-100 for the first time. Thereafter, it�s been back to square one.

Driven by the urge to crack the top-50, Paes had announced at the beginning of 2001 that setting the record straight in singles would be as important a goal as regaining lost ground in doubles. Five months into the year, he has shown no signs of fulfilling the singles ambition.

�My singles has been pushed to the back-burner and I am not feeling good about it,� Paes said. For the record, he has played just two singles matches in the last two-and-a-half months.

That, too, in Davis Cup. Predictably enough, he won both those matches, the second one a typically gutsy five-set performance over Japanese Takao Suzuki to ensure India�s passage to the World Group play-off stage.

Paes offered two reasons for his minimal involvement in singles activities � Davis Cup duties and a need to play more doubles. �Davis Cup is so exhausting mentally and physically that it takes at least one week to recover after each tie. Two Davis Cup ties this year have meant that I�ve already lost two weeks on the Tour.

�We also had to play a lot of doubles as our ranking was dropping and we had to keep on trying to pick up wins and points,� Paes explained. That automatically affected his plans, as his singles ranking was already quite low and he couldn�t always make it in time to play the weekend qualifiers.

Paris out of bounds

Paes is 280 on the ESP singles list which determines entry to all tournaments. �With that kind of ranking, I can�t get into the French Open qualifiers, leave alone the smaller tournaments,� Paes observed ruefully.

�That�s a real pity because I played some fantastic singles in the Davis Cup this year (versus China and Japan) and could have taken advantage of that form on Tour.�

Paes did give himself some opportunities at the beginning of the year, but couldn�t quite take advantage. He disappointed in a first-round loss to young Spaniard Tommy Robredo at the Gold Flake Open.

At the Australian Open qualifiers, he won two good matches before tripping in three sets at the final hurdle to Marcos Ondruska. Then, in the two Challengers back home (Mumbai and Chandigarh), he lost in the semi-finals.

Now in the doldrums, Paes will have to skip next week�s French Open qualifiers. He may just make it to the Wimbledon qualifying draw next month, his optimism stemming from the fact that hordes of claycourt specialists skip Wimbledon every year.

If that does not materialise, Paes� next singles assignment will be in July at Newport where he has always had his best results.

So even as he looks forward to an exciting summer of doubles, Paes� future in singles looks gloomier than ever before. Nothing short of a few miracles can resurrect his fortunes.


Calcutta, May 14: 
India will again be in a position to pick up valuable medals from the Asian Games cue sports.

At the 13th Asian Games in Bangkok India won four medals from the green baize, and there was despondency in the cue sports ranks of the country when the 2002 Pusan Asian Games organisers declared that they would not be able to host these disciplines because of a lack of funds.

Hectic parleys followed between the Asian Games organisers and the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports, and the organisers of the Games conceded a little ground, allowing some of the cue sports (comprising billiards, snoooker, pool and carom) back in. This, however, carried a rider in that the medals tally will be reduced and billiards will anyway not find its way back in.

Billiards is India�s strong bet for medals at the Games. Hence this decision had the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) mandarins taking up the cause. According to a BSFI press release, federation president S. N. Sinha and former president and now advisor P. N. Roy met Indian Olympic Association general secretary Randhir Singh to push the issue. Singh is also the secretary of the Olympic Council of Asia, the body under which the Asian Games directly falls.

The release says that in a meeting in Pusan on Saturday, the issue was pursued and a decision taken to retain all the disciplines, including billiards. The medals tally for cue sports is back at 10 golds and an equal number of silver and bronze medals. That was the medals up for grabs in Bangkok.

Roy said that this time India have a good chance of bettering the Bangkok haul from cue sports. He, however, said it was unliklely that anybody from Calcutta will find a place in the Pusan cue sports squad.

�The main contenders are the obvious ones, like veteran Geet Sethi (Ahmedabad), Ashok Shandilya of Railways, Yasin Merchant, Devendra Joshi of Mumbai and youngster Manan Chandra of Delhi,� he said.

He said that should form a formidable line-up, good for any challenge from anywhere in the continent.


Calcutta, May 14: 
The only Indian on the European PGA Tour, Jeev Milkha Singh, finished joint 27th in the Benson & Hedges International Open at the De Vere Belfry in Warwickshire yesterday.

According to information reaching here, Jeev dropped 16 places from a tied 11th place when he shot a three-over 75 on the final day under testing conditions.

Henrik Stenson of Sweden won the tournament at the par-72 course. The 25-year-old started the final round three shots ahead and finished it with the same margin, thanks to a closing 70 for a 13-under par total of 275. Angel Cabrera of Argentina and Ireland�s Paul McGinley finished joint second.

Jeev had a terrible start when he made a bogey on the very first hole. He recovered with a birdie on the par-5 third, but back-to-back bogeys on the fourth and fifth and eighth and ninth saw him make the turn at four-over.

The Chandigarh golfer was much more solid on the back nine in which he parred every hole before making a much needed birdie on the par-5 17th.

�I�m not hitting the ball too well and am pretty happy with the finish. It was a very bad start to the day and the good thing is the way I fought back.,� Jeev said.

Jeev will now play the Deutsche Bank SAP Open in Germany. The tournament will also feature world No. 1 Tiger Woods.


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