Caddick, Croft opt out
Shot in arm for junior cricket
Bengal coaches worried over players� fitness
Calcutta Racing/ 5 for Friday�s main event
Calcutta Racing/ Track trials

London, Oct. 30: 
Nasser Hussain will lead the England team to India without fast bowler Andrew Caddick and off-spinner Robert Croft. The duo has decided to opt out, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced today.

Three other waverers, vice-captain Marcus Trescothick, allrounder Craig White and left-arm spinner Ashley Giles have confirmed their participation.

�This means 14 players of the original party of 16 will tour, subject to the proviso that they and the Professional Cricketers� Association are satisfied that appropriate security arrangements will be in place,� an ECB spokesman said.

Two senior ECB officials are to make a trip to India on Wednesday with a representative from the Professional Cricketers� Association to check on security arrangements. Replacements for Croft and Caddick will be named later this week.

Nasser Hussain was relieved that he will be leading a near full strength side. �I am delighted that Craig, Marcus and Ashley have made their decision to tour. On behalf of all the players I would like to thank all concerned for their understanding in what has been an incredibly difficult period for the team. I also fully respect and appreciate both Andrew and Robert�s decisions.�

Caddick�s absence means England will be without their first-choice seam attack as Darren Gough has already made himself unavailable for the tour.

Caddick said: �My decision to opt out of the touring party was extremely difficult. My choice does not reflect any lack of commitment to English cricket and, had circumstances been different, I would love to have toured India.�

�Turning down the opportunity to represent my country is something I would never have believed possible. I needed to be 100 per cent confident that my family was happy for me to tour, unfortunately that is not the case. I have two children, Ashton, who is three, and Fraser, born only on October 12 � for them and my wife I have made the very personal decision not to go to India.�

Croft also offered his apologies: �It has been an immensely difficult decision to make but after further discussions with friends and family I could not guarantee full commitment to the England team, knowing that my family would worry about my safety. I have many Indian friends and for all concerned I am very disappointed. Extraordinary circumstances have led to my decision.�

Giles and White will undergo fitness tests on November 7. �I am very grateful to the ECB for allowing my family and me extra time to come to the decision and, subject to my passing a fitness test, I now look forward to flying to India with the rest of the touring party,� Giles said.

White said: �If passed fit I confirm I will travel to India with the England squad next month.�

�The additional time provided has enabled me to make my decision in the right frame of mind,� Trescothick said.

On behalf of the ECB, John Carr, the director of cricket operations, stated: �The ECB is delighted that the players have now made their decisions and thanks to them for respecting the ECB�s urgency on the matter. Tim O�Gorman and I are travelling to India tomorrow to confirm all the security arrangements for the tour.

�The Indian authorities have a great deal of experience in implementing appropriate security measures and we look forward to undertaking a successful tour both on and off the pitch.�

He was backed up by David Graveney, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers� Association and chairman of selectors, who said: �I realise that it has been a very difficult decision for all concerned. I would like to reiterate, in my selectorial capacity, that the statements made regarding players who understandably have opted out of the tour remain true relating to their future selection.�


Calcutta, Oct. 30: 
The Board of Control for Cricket in India�s junior cricket committee today dwelt on various ways to improve the game. Jagmohan Dalmiya, the BCCI president, termed the meeting a �brainstorming session for junior cricket�.

More specifically, the meeting stressed on the need to ensure a good showing at the U-19 World Cup in New Zealand in January.

National Cricket Academy (NCA) director Brijesh Patel and Dilip Vengsarkar, newly appointed chairman of the Talent Resource Development Officers (TRDO) committee also attended. Incidentally, Vengsarkar is the consultant to the New Zealand-bound U-19 team.

In a break from tradition, the meeting decided to hold the knockout phase of the C.K. Nayudu Trophy on league basis this time to give the players more match practice ahead of the junior World Cup. The squad will leave on January 3 and will play practice matches in Australia and New Zealand before the tournament.

Moreover, to facilitate acclimatisation, the players will practice with Kookabura balls during the conditioning camp in Bangalore.

The meeting also decided to send the under-19 and �A� teams on more tours for increased international exposure. Their itineraries for the next five years will be finalised shortly.

In a move to boost the development of junior cricket, the meeting resolved to name four spotters shortly to assist Vengsarkar as TRDO chief. Their task will be to spot and channel talented players to the NCA and zonal academies.

The junior cricket committee is also working on setting up a central age verification body to stop the participation of overage players in various junior meets.

Cooch Behar squad

Avishek Chakraborty and Sourav Shukla have been included in the Bengal squad for the Cooch Behar Trophy tie versus Bihar at Eden Gardens from Thursday. They replace Sayan Dey and Kamal Hasan Mondal.

THE SQUAD � Aranya Dev Sarkar (captain), Ajay Garai, Subhojit Pal, Manabendra Yadav, Avik Chowdhury, Sudip Palit, Samrat Guha, Soujan Biswas, Avishek Chakraborty,Sourav Shukla, Anirban Chatterjee, Chanchal Sarkar, Sourav Sarkar, Subhankar Roy Chowdhury, Rakesh Krishnan.


Calcutta, Oct. 30: 
Coaching Bengal in Santosh Trophy has usually been viewed as difficult. No credit for winning, and no dearth of brickbats for losing. It�s a difficulty with a difference this time.

Coaches Shabbir Ali and Prasanta Banerjee have three days to pick the squad from a pool of 29 � none of whom have reached anywhere near stardom. To say the least, their scope to prepare is far from what is recommended and practised by better soccer cultures. But then, they have seen a challenge and accepted it.

�It�s unprecedented, but as professional how can I turn down an offer,� said Shabbir. �The full-strength Bengal team lost last year, who says these boys are inferior,� snapped Prasanta.

They consider their proximity with those picked to be an advantage but sounded worried about the state of fitness. �They have not been in touch with the game of late,� voiced both and admitted it�s not possible to reach the desired level of fitness in this short span.

More cautious of the two, Shabbir said his first target is to reach the semis. Among likely opponents in the group, he said Karnataka would be tough. Tamil Nadu is expected to be the other team.

Shabbir said he was not new to coaching a team without the top guns. �In the 1997 National Games, we went with a depleted side but reached the final.�

Prasanta doesn�t think this selection is so poor off. �The difference between big teams and small teams is foreigners. These players from lesser clubs are not far behind their Indian counterparts from big teams. They were waiting for a chance and have got it. They won�t be short on motivation,� noted Prasanta.

Even he is not shaken by the situation. �I had less than three days to pick my team from almost 100 probables during the under-21 nationals in 1999. We lost 0-1 to Goa in the final. I�d say I�m slightly better-placed this time.�

The probables start training tomorrow and the team leaves for Mumbai Saturday. Their first group league match is on Tuesday and the second on November 9. Only one team from the group will make the semi-finals.


Calcutta, Oct. 30: 
Five horses will vie for the Delhi Race Club Cup, the main event in Friday�s card, the opening day of the season. First race starts at 1.15 pm.


1. Cally Handicap 1,100m (Cl V, Rt. 18 & below) 1.15 pm: Tsaynen Blue 60; Lady Shirley 56; Keep The Faith 54.5; Victoria Rose 51; Rich Dominion 50; Breakfast At Tiffany 49.5; Magic Ring 49.

2. Sea Spray Handicap 1,200m (Cl V, Rt. 00-28) 1.55 pm: Blessed Spirit 60; Glass Slipper 60; Touch of Elegance 60; Grecian Prince 59.5; Pneumatic Power 59; Calabash 57.5; Gul 55.5.

3. Beauregard Cup 1,200m (Cl IV, Rt. 22-50) 2.25 pm: Peace Envoy 61; Crowned Prince 60.5; On The Bit 60.5; Alegria 59.5; Tequila Shot 55.5; Bay Dragon 52.

4. Gold Span Handicap 1,100m (Cl IV, 5-y-o & over Rt. 22-50) 2.55 pm: Red Cordon 60; Rheinheart 59.5; Simply Dashing 58; Super Smile 57.5; Brave Show 56; Common Spirit 55; Crest Star 55.

5. Delhi Race Club Cup 1,400m (Cl I, Rt. 88 & over) 3.25 pm: Bold Chieftan 60; Anolini 59.5; Arendal 57; Reine Beau 56.5; Beneficent 53.5.

6. Leonidas Handicap 1,400m (Cl III, Rt.44-72) 3.55 pm: Raaz 60; Simply Monarch 60; Aherlow 59.5; Ace of Spades 59; Mr. Bombshell 58.5; Discomatic 58; Regency Times 56; Soviet Dance 56.

Jackpot: 2; 3; 4; 5 & 6.

Treble: (i) 1; 2 & 3; (ii) 4; 5 & 6.


Calcutta, Oct. 30: 
The following is the pick of track work noted today morning:

Outer sand track

1,200m: Bold Chieftan (Connorton) in 1-27s; (400m) 28s. Handy. Amber Dancer (Connorton) in 1-31s; (400m) 28s. urged.

800m: Magic Ring (Brij S.) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Azurica (Smith) and Flying Scot (Rb) in 54s; (400m) 29s. Former a length better. The Stud (Smith) and Tsaynen Blue (Gowli) in 54s; (400m) 29s. Level. Calculus (Rb) in 56s; (400m) 28s. Grand Lodge (Salam) and No Regrets (Gowli) in 1-0s; (400m) 31s. Level. Victoria Rose (Rabani) in 54s; (400m) 29s. Pushed. Lady Shirley (Gowli) in 55s; (400m) 29s. Fit. Raaz (Rb) and Gul (Salam) in 55s; (400m) 27s. Level. On The Bit (Rutherford) in 54s; (400m) 28s. Glass Slipper (F. Khan) in 55s; (400m) 31s. Fit. Calabash (Amil) and Rare Gold (Rutherford) in 56s; (400m) 27s. Former better. Ispahan (Rutherford) in 53s; (400m) 27s. Fit.

Sand track

800m: Anokato (Connorton) in 54s; (400m) 26s. Easy. As A Rule (Smith) in 51s; (400m) 24s. Fit. Rich Dominion (B. Gurang) and Peace Envoy (Connorton) in 55s; (400m) 28s. Level. Crimson King (Rb) in 54s; (400m) 26s. Regency Times (Connorton) in 54s; (400m) 27s. Easy.


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