Neurologists clear Akmal
Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman Umar Akmal has been given the green light to resume playing after suffering a fit while on duty for Barbados in the Caribbean Premier League last month. The 23-year-old had to drop out of the tour to Zimbabwe after being taken ill on a flight to Jamaica. “The good news is that after extensive tests and examination by top neurologists... Umar Akmal has been cleared to play again,” a Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman said on Friday. The spokesman added that the fit was down to sleep deprivation and there was no restriction on physical activity or exertion plus no need for medication or any further medical checks. “It was a one-off incident,” he said. Akmal is now hoping to get back into the squad for next month’s series against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates. He has played in 16 Tests for Pakistan, scoring 1,003 runs at an average of 35.82. He has also featured in 76 one-dayers and 45 Twenty20s for his country.
Knicks’ Smith suspended
New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith has been suspended for five games for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program, the league said on Friday. Smith, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season for his play off the bench, is recovering from off-season knee surgery and may not be fit for his team’s season opener on Oct. 30. His suspension will begin with the first game of the 2013-2014 NBA season for which he is eligible and physically able to play, the league said in a statement. Taken with the 18th overall pick by New Orleans in the 2004 draft, Smith recorded career-highs in points (18.1) and rebounds (5.3) last season. He signed a three-year US$17.9 million deal with the Knicks in July.
First ODI rained off
The first one-day international (ODI) between England and Australia in Leeds was washed out on Friday, as heavy and persistent rain flooded the ground and ruined any chance of play. Umpires Aleem Dar and Richard Illingworth had little option but to abandon hopes of any play taking place after inspecting the waterlogged outfield for a third time at 1:30pm. Drenched groundstaff tried in vain to soak up and sweep away puddles, which had grown larger by the hour on the grass and the large Headingley covers. However, the relentless downpour gave them little respite and chance of beating the odds, leaving those few fans inside the ground — and many hundreds in the surrounding bars — frustrated and soon heading for home.
Abidal angry at Barcelona
Eric Abidal has claimed he was not paid by Barcelona when he was seriously ill and is angry at how his time with the Spanish club came to an end. Barcelona responded on Friday by denying that it had withheld any of his salary. Abidal had a liver transplant in April last year that kept him away from soccer for a year. He returned to make a few appearances for Barcelona at the tail end of the 2012-2013 season, before leaving to join Monaco. “The problem was that my contract was coming to an end. In that case, either it’s renewed, either it ends. I was prepared for both,” Abidal said in an interview with sports daily L’Equipe published on Friday. Abidal also said he was disappointed at how his departure was announced. “What was hard to understand was what Barcelona said during my last press conference. By saying that it was a professional choice, it made other clubs doubt,” Abidal said.