Star-less cricket dropped from 2006 Asian Games

Published: Saturday, February 12, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:The likely absence of top stars like Sachin Tendulkar of India and Shoaib Akhtar of Pakistan has forced cricket out of the Asian Games in Qatar next year, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced here.

The Asian Cricket Council (ACC), headed by Jagmohan Dalmiya of India, had not committed the top players from the continent for the December 1-15 Games, council secretary general Randhir Singh said here on Saturday.

"The ACC said it planned to field under-19 or junior teams for the Games which was not acceptable to us," Singh said.

"We in the OCA are firmly of the view that only top teams should take part in the Asian Games and so we have decided drop the sport altogether."

Singh, a member of the International Olympic Committee and secretary of the Indian Olympic Association, said the decision to omit cricket was taken at the OCA's executive council meeting in Kuwait on February 5.

The OCA had last year suggested the inclusion of limited-overs cricket for the first time at the Asian Games in keeping with the sport's large following in the continent.

There are four Test-playing nations in Asia -- India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- and cricket is played in almost all Asian countries, including China who were recently admitted to the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The non-Olympic sport was introduced at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, but was discarded at the next edition in Manchester four years later due to the lukewarm response from the major cricketing nations.

Only Australia fielded its best team at Kuala Lumpur. India divided their top players in two teams, sending one to Kuala Lumpur and the other to Toronto, Canada for a one-day series against Pakistan.

Both India and Pakistan would have had to reschedule their Test commitments in December 2006 in order to send full-strength teams to Doha, Qatar.

India are scheduled to tour South Africa, Pakistan will be hosting the West Indies and Bangladesh would tour New Zealand at that time, according to the ICC's 10-year Test program.

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