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Australia, having been denied the top spot in the ICC rankings after ruling the world for so many years under the stewardship of Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, still remain the team to beat in the international arena and the kind of talent they have leaves very little doubt in one’s mind that they would bounce back to regain the number one position in all forms of the game in not too distant future.
Unlike South Africa and India, the frontline challengers to deny them the crown, Australia have built an infrastructure that keeps producing outstanding cricketers giving them the most powerful bench strength.
South Africa and India are currently blessed with quite a few seasoned campaigners who have continued to deliver to help them retain top rankings but both these countries might not succeed in sustaining the momentum once their greats call it a day.
Australia have no such worries. They have lost a number of legendary characters in the past few years but survived. They did suffer odd defeats but overall the performance of the team remained steady. The recent influx of emerging talent means that they are preparing to rule the world once more.
If newcomers like Ryan Harris and Clint McKay have been offered full-time contracts by Cricket Australia for 2010-11 ahead of Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken one can very well understand that they are not short of talent.
Besides Harris and McKay the contracted players for the upcoming season, featuring the Ashes as well as the World Cup, are Doug Bollinger, Michael Clarke, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Andrew McDonald, Marcus North, Tim Paine, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shaun Tait, Adam Voges, Shane Watson and Cameron White.
"It is disappointing for Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken who have not received contracts. Both Stuart and Nathan have fantastic records for Australia and not renewing their contracts was a very hard decision. The reality is that other bowlers have seized the opportunity over the last six months in both Test and limited-overs cricket. I am sure Nathan and Stuart will look to start next season well and force their way back into the Australian side," Andrew Hilditch, head of the selection panel, observed while dropping the two senior fast bowlers in favour of new speed merchants.
"The Australian side is very much in the final stages of its preparation for the Ashes series in Australia and the World Cup for 50-over cricket in India. The contract list has a good blend of experience and youth, and recognizes the very strong performances of the Australian side in Test and limited-overs cricket this summer," Hilditch added.
The rankings remained confidential but it’s being believed that Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson would have filled the top four places for the retainers of around Australian $1.5 million in the contract period starting on July 1, 2010.
Syed Khalid Mahmood has had passion for writing and sports since childhood. After having edited wall papers and magazines in his student life, he had started contributing to various international publications from an early age.
He joined the mainstream journalism in 1987 and his first book was published later the same year. After having studied at the famed institutions like Cadet College Petaro and Delhi College, he graduated in civil engineering from the prestigious NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi, in 1986.
He has earned greater fame and recognition in the field of media being acclaimed as a leading international sports writer, having worked for some of the eminent newspapers like The Frontier Post and The News International besides a brief stint with The Mississauga News. He has also appeared regularly as an analyst on various television channels.
He has already authored 12 books viz Asian Glory (2012); Reflections (2010); Cricket Fever: A History of Pakistan-India Tours (2008); Mission Caribbean: A Guide to ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 (2007); World Cup 2003: Top of the Charts (2005); Spotlight on World Cup 2003 (2005); World Cup 1999: So Near Yet So Far (2000); Pakistan’s Sports Greats (1997); Pakistan: The Land of World Champions (1995); Pakistan’s Triumph in World Cup 1992 (1993); The Caribbean Challenge: A History of Pakistan-West Indies matches (1989) and Focus on World Cup (1987 and 1994).
He has had an active social life throughout. Having founded The Young Champs in 1984 he became the District Secretary of Rotary International District 3271 (Pakistan) in 2015-16. Besides being the Founder President of the NED Alumni Association, he is also the Vice President of the Delhi College & Schools Old Boys Association. He is also a member of The Petarian Association, Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi Press Club, Pakistan Engineering Council and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.
His write-ups are carried by innumerable portals and websites across the world while his exclusive articles on the web, having grown in popularity, could be accessed on his blog at www.skmsports.com
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