England will have its first full-time professional women's cricket team "following major investment by the game's governing body," according to the BBC. The England and Wales Cricket Board announced "significant" pay hikes for top players. England captain Charlotte Edwards said on Twitter, "Thanks everyone for all your support. Today is a day I never thought I'd see in my time as a player!" ECB Chair Giles Clarke said the team's success is "a real bright spot" and said he hoped they would "become some of the best-paid sportswomen" in the country. Clarke: "These pay rises are significant and, as a result, we are proudly creating the first group of full-time women's professional cricketers." The pay hikes and investment in the women's game "will be funded by revenues" from ICC events held in England. The ECB will also pay bonuses to players involved in the recent Ashes victory (BBC, 2/13).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Australian Super Rugby sides New South Wales Waratahs, Melbourne Rebels and Queensland Reds "are considering merging their operations to form an eastern seaboard rugby powerhouse" under a radical proposal to be put before the Australian Rugby Union board at the end of the month, according to Robinson, Dutton & Polkinghorne of the CANBERRA TIMES. In what "could be the biggest reform to the structure of rugby in Australia since the game turned professional, the three east coast provinces would retain their independence but report to a head of Super Rugby," who would in turn be answerable to ARU CEO Bill Pulver. The two remaining Austrialan Conference Super League sides Brumbies and Western Force "are understood to have opted out of the proposed collaboration at this stage but have not ruled out joining the new entity in the future." In the eastern seaboard plan, NSW, Queensland and Melbourne "would hand over limited control to the ARU but retain ownership of assets." The proposal, while still in the very early stages of negotiations, "aims to pool the three unions' assets and create a bigger, more powerful player in the Australian sporting landscape." It would also "bring Australia a step closer to the centralised model used in New Zealand, where the five Super Rugby teams maintain control over their own administrative and membership operations but cede control to the NZ Rugby Union on issues including high performance." Queensland Rugby Union CEO Jim Carmichael said, "''I have made no secret of our financial challenges at an administrative level. Doing nothing is not an option and our discussions within the Australian rugby community will continue" (CANBERRA TIMES, 2/14).
The seventh edition of the high-profile Indian Premier League "could be shifted to South Africa due to the security concerns posed by the upcoming general elections, the dates of which are clashing with the event," according to the PTI. IPL authorities will meet with Home Ministry officials next week and "a final decision on the venue and the exact schedule is expected to be taken in the coming 10 days." The general elections "are scheduled to be held in April-May." IPL Chair Ranjib Biswal said, "We are considering so many options. We are meeting the Home Ministry officials and the Home Minister [Sushil Kumar Shinde] to know the possible dates on which we can accommodate [the IPL] in India as far as possible. We are keen holding the matches in India. If not, South Africa is the preferred destination. But also the second and third options are open." Biswal "did not name the second and third options." Biswal: "We want to hold maximum number of matches in India and if we get the green signal, probably we can hold all the matches in India." The IPL had been shifted to South Africa in ‘09 as well "because of similar security concerns posed by general elections" (PTI, 2/13).
A secret report given to the Supreme Court by the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee investigating cricket fixing "contains a statement from a Tamil Nadu cop that names" India captain M.S. Dhoni, according to Harinder Baweja of the HINDUSTAN TIMES. Police Superintendent G. Sampath Kumar's statement cites "a bookie named Kitty" who claims that Dhoni and Board of Control for Cricket in India President S. Srinivasan’s son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, were part of a "deal" that involved fixing in the Indian Premier League. Kumar said that "he had given the committee a signed statement about an investigation he had conducted last year." Kumar: "We were investigating a fake passport case when we came across information related to betting. We interrogated a man called Kitty, who talked about Dhoni and Meiyappan." Kumar cautioned that "he had recommended further investigation, adding that he had been transferred out of the internal security branch soon after interrogating Kitty." Mudgal: "The sealed cover contains unverified information that we wanted to share with the court only and contains statements of people who wanted to stay anonymous." Nilay Dutta, one of the three members of the Mudgal committee, "had in his supplementary report confirmed part of Sampath’s deposition but omitted Dhoni’s name." The Dutta report said that “the committee was told that all officers who knew about Kitty's disclosures were transferred out and that the matter had been referred to Crime Branch CID Chennai police, but adds that the interrogation report of Kitty was not available in their records." In the report, Dutta said, "The Committee is not in a position therefore to ascertain whether the interrogation report of Kitty as stated by Mr G Sampath Kumar in fact exists." Dutta: "The matter is with the Supreme Court now. I can only say that the Chennai police officers did not come back with the file containing Kitty’s statement" (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 2/13).
Only one bid so far "has been received, from Victoria, but a further 11 are expected to be lodged before tenders to participate in the new National Rugby Championship officially close" on Friday, according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. John Boultbee, the long-time rowing and Australian Olympic official who "is chairing the NRC Commission charged with setting up Australian rugby’s long-delayed so-called third tier," said Thursday that "everything was looking good for the new competition to kick off later this year." Boultbee said, "The Australian Rugby Union board still has to be satisfied that it is a goer from a financial viability point of view but I think that there will be good tenders to look at from what we have been told so far." He added, "t’s still open as to whether it will be eight, nine or 10 teams. I think there will be, from people who have been talking to us, up to 12 tenders, so a 10-team competition remains a possibility" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/14).