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Beijing fans celebrate Winter Olympics opening ceremony under shadow of COVID

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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2022)

Beijing residents celebrated on Friday the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, whose preparations were beset by the pandemic and criticism over human rights in China, Reuters reported.

With China still sticking to a “zero Covid” policy despite the Omicron variant spreading fast across the globe, organizers decided last month not to sell tickets to the public, kept outside a “closed loop” of competitors and other personnel.

More than one hundred residents gathered in a community square in the Chinese capital to watch the event from a distance.

The ceremony in a partially-filled Bird’s Nest stadium – the scene of Beijing’s triumphant 2008 Summer Games launch – was filled with imagery of ice and snow, with Xi’s declaration followed by red-suited “skaters” sliding across virtual ice.

“I am very excited. Look at everyone, they are all excited. They are waving flags and cheering,” said 57-year-old Tan Yuping.

Other sports enthusiasts, including Zhang Keyao, gathered at a local bar.

“This time the Game is held at the gate of our house. I really want to go to watch the game and cheer for it. It’s a pity this time,” he said.

The Olympics will run from February 4 to 20.

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Former international cricket umpire Koertzen dies in car accident

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

Rudi Koertzen, former international cricket umpire from South Africa, died on Tuesday in a car accident in the country, ESPNcricInfo reported citing his family.

“He went on a golf tournament with some of his friends, and they were expected to come back on Monday, but it seems they decided to play another round of golf,” his son Rudi Koertzen jr said.

Koertzen, 73, was on the International Cricket Council’s elite panel of umpires for eight years and officiated in 331 matches, a record at the time of his retirement in 2010 that has since been surpassed by Pakistan’s Aleem Dar.

“It is a very big loss, foremost for his family and then for South Africa and cricket,” Dar was quoted as saying by ESPNcricInfo.

“I stood in so many games with him. He was not only very good as an umpire but also an excellent colleague, always very cooperative on field and also always willing to help off the field.

“Because of the way he was, he was also well-respected by players.”

Koertzen died while driving from Cape Town to Despatch in Eastern Cape, where he lived with his family, ESPNcricInfo said.

Koertzen still umpired occasionally in amateur cricket in his hometown of Despatch in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

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ACB names players for five-match T20I series against Ireland

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(Last Updated On: August 1, 2022)

The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) on Monday announced the 16-member squad for the five T20I matches against Ireland scheduled to take place this month.

All matches will take place in Ireland and start on August 9. The tournament will run through until August 17. 

According to the ACB, the team will leave for Ireland on Friday.

Mohammad Nabi will captain the team. The other players are as follows: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wicketkeeper), Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Darwish Rasooli, Karim Jannat, Afsar Zazai, Azmatullah Umarzai, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Rashid Khan, Noor Ahmad, Fazal Haq, Farid Malik, and Naveen ul Haq.

The reserves are Qais Ahmed, Usman Ghani, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Najat Masoud.

Noorul Haq Malikzi, the ACB’s head of the selection committee said: “We have selected a team for Ireland, which I am sure will have great achievements, because our priority is talent, young players, their performance and strength.”

The Afghanistan Cricket Board says that one of the goals of these competitions is to prepare for the Asia Cup and the World Cup, which will start in September and October respectively.

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Ireland announce squad for South Africa, Afghanistan T20Is

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(Last Updated On: July 28, 2022)

Ireland on Wednesday announced their squad for the two T20Is against South Africa as well as the first three games of the five-match series against Afghanistan in August 2022.

The selectors have kept faith in the group that played the three-match T20I series against New Zealand recently by retaining the same 14-member squad for the upcoming series against South Africa (two matches) and Afghanistan (three of the five matches).

Despite being whitewashed 3-0 at home by New Zealand, there were several positives for Ireland, including the lower-order batting form of Mark Adair and Curtis Campher. Paul Stirling gave yet another glimpse of his white-ball exploits with a 29-ball 40 in the final T20I, the ICC reported.

Amongst the bowlers, Josh Little finished as the highest wicket-taker in the series with eight wickets in three games including a four-for in the second T20I. 

Squad: Andrew Balbirnie (Captain), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Stephen Doheny, Fionn Hand, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Craig Young

Speaking on the squad selection, Chair of National Men’s Selectors Andrew White said: “We are now getting down to the final stages of our preparations as we build towards the Men’s T20 World Cup in October.

“The squad has faced two high-quality opponents in recent weeks, in India and New Zealand, and have stern tests ahead against South Africa and Afghanistan.

“We believe, while the results have not gone our way, the brand of cricket that [head coach] Heinrich Malan is instilling in the squad is showing positive signs and the players are beginning to equip themselves well as they build towards the World Cup in Australia.

“We have, however, sought to give ourselves a level of selection flexibility later in the Afghan series, and will announce a squad for the final two T20Is of that series in due course.”

The upcoming series against South Africa and Afghanistan will be the dress rehearsal for Ireland going into the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup later this year. After failing to make it to the Super 12 last year in Oman and UAE, Ireland will be eager to make a mark later this year in Australia.

This year, they are pitted against Scotland, West Indies and Zimbabwe in Group B in the First Round that begins on 16 October.

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