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    By CricInfo365 Editor, Rick Eyre

    The "International All-Star Cup" set down for San Francisco, New York and
    Toronto early next month edged closer to farce yesterday, with the
    tournament organisers forced to release a heavy watered-down list of
    participating players.

    Earlier this month PostMedia Group (PMG), a US-based media and entertainment
    group run by and targeting expatriate Indians, announced a three-match "Asia
    XI v The World XI" series of limited-over games to be played in early August
    at San Francisco (3Com Stadium), New York (Columbia Stadium), and Toronto
    (the Stardome). More than thirty players were named originally, the Asian
    team including the best players of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh
    and captained by Mohammad Azharuddin, the World XI said to be captained by
    Steve Waugh and including players from all remaining Test nations.

    Despite claims by PMG that all players had agreed to take part, there were
    some obvious committment clashes, especially with those involved in county
    cricket and the England-New Zealand Test series. The series was not
    sanctioned by the ICC - though it is not known at this stage whether PMG had
    made an official approach to the ICC for their support.

    Over the past fortnight since the initial announcement, the unavailability
    of many of the originally-listed players became obvious. Apart from the
    obvious impossibility of the appearance of England and New Zealand players,
    Pakistani players were removed from the list - presumably for reasons
    associated with international tensions between India and Pakistan over

    Yesterday both the Australian Cricket Board and the United Cricket Board of
    South Africa announced that none of their contracted players would be
    released for the series. PMG, deprived of the Waugh twins, Shane Warne and
    Adam Gilchrist by this decision, have responded by naming three non-
    contracted Australians.

    Former Australian off-spinner Gavin Robertson, retired Australian Test
    captain Mark Taylor, and Paul Reiffel, who announced his retirement from
    international cricket last week, are included in PMG's latest team list for
    the "World XI". While Taylor no longer plays representative cricket at any
    level, Robertson is under contract to Cricket New South Wales, and Reiffel
    likewise to the Victorian Cricket Association. Reiffel's sudden decision to
    retire from the international game last week was based in part on his
    unwillingness to embark on the Australian tour of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe due
    to family committments.

    On top of these announcements comes the unsurprising revelation that the
    BCCI has declined to release any of the current Indian national team to take
    part in this series. The Indian players have a heavy schedule ahead of them
    in official tournament play beginning in the last week of August in Sri
    Lanka, followed by one-day series in Singapore, Canada and Kenya in the
    following six weeks. In their place PMG have named a number of ex-
    internationals including retired players such as Maninder Singh.

    A number of leading West Indian players including current captain Brian Lara
    and former captain Courtney Walsh are listed in the World XI lineup. The
    stance of the WICB in relation to this series is not known.

    In a report published on the PMG-owned India Post website and attributed to
    the "India Post News Bureau" yesterday, PMG CEO Romesh K.Japra said "The
    problem is not at the level of individual players. They are all more than
    willing to come. But we are facing some obstacles from national and
    international cricket authorities who are not inclined to let them

    Dr Japra was reported as saying that there was pressure being exerted by
    national boards for the All-Star Cup not to go ahead. "But that has only
    strengthened our resolve to go ahead with the series which millions of fans
    in North America are looking forward to," he was quoted as saying.

    Unconfirmed reports indicate that all invited players were offered $ US
    25,000 each to take part in the tournament.

    The teams, as re-released by PMG yesterday, are as follows (and the spelling
    is theirs):

    "Asia XI: Arjuna Ranatunga, Arvinda D' Silva, Sanath Jayasurya, Chaminda
    Vaas, Vikramasinghe, Jayawardane, Navjot Sidhu, Vinod Kambli, Maninder
    Singh, Vijay Yadav, Atul Wasan, Praveen Amre.

    World XI: Brian Lara, Jimmy Adams, Courtney Walsh, Phil Simmons, Ridley
    Jacob, Marvin Dhillon, Chander Paul, Gavin Robertson, Mark Taylor, Paul
    Reiffel, Andy Flower, Neil Johnson, Henry Olanga, Ravindu Shah."

    The first match is scheduled to take part at 3Com Park (formerly Candlestick
    Park), San Francisco, on Tuesday August 3.

    WHo cares!

    let them play GULLE DUNDA