Yasir Shah has been provisionally suspended bu the ICC after a sample tested positive for a banned substance. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo
Yasir Shah has been provisionally suspended bu the ICC after a sample tested positive for a banned substance. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo

As the cases of Shah and Perera show, cricket must stay vigilant on doping — talking points



Doping in cricket, the retirement of Brendon McCullum, Osman Samiuddin offers his take on the biggest talking points from the world of cricket.

Cricket and doping

By and large, cricket has no deep problem with use of performance-enhancing drugs. There have been cases, of course, most infamously those of Mohammed Asif and Shoaib Akhtar, or Shane Warne. And there is a fair stock of cases over recreational drug use.

But the sport is not a dope-free zone, as the case of Yasir Shah, and the Sri Lanka wicketkeeper-batsman Kusal Perera a little before him, makes clear. Yasir and Perera tested positive for banned substances in random tests conducted by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Both are under provisional suspension and, according to reports on Christmas Day, the results of Perera’s ‘B’ sample matched those of his positive ‘A’ sample. It could, at worst, mean a four-year ban. Ultimately, Yasir could also face similar punishment. Both cases highlight the need for cricket to remain vigilant.

Farewell Brendon

Since becoming New Zealand captain, Brendon McCullum has done things very much his own way. No captains are alike, but McCullum is perhaps more unlike others than any recent captain.

So it was both surprising and, actually, not so surprising when he announced this week, out of the blue, that the home series against Australia in February 2016 will be his last in international cricket. At 34, and with a record 100th consecutive Tests since debut approaching, McCullum was never going to be around for much longer. His all-action style at the crease and especially in the field is hard to sustain.

Gallery: Mohammad Amir returns to Pakistan cricket fold — in pictures

But to go before the World Twenty20 in March in India was surprising. McCullum is more than just a T20 basher (if there even is such a thing), but he remains indelibly associated with the format after that landscape-changing hundred in the first IPL game ever. That, and maybe a world title, would have been a fitting end, as much as the one he craves in front of a home crowd.

The PCB op-ed

The news release was subjected — ominously — “Muhammad (sic) Amir — Re-integration”. It came from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and, well, its purpose initially was unclear.

It was laying out the entire case, point by point, for why it was allowing him back — gradually — into the national fold.

It cited other athletes who had cheated and been allowed to return, even arguing that Islam calls for forgiveness in such cases. It was as good as an op-ed.

It became clear why they felt the need to explain when Mohammed Hafeez and Azhar Ali refused to attend the national team training camp specifically because Amir would be present.

Hafeez has been a long-time objector to Amir’s return. Azhar, the ODI captain, was a new one.

Eventually the players agreed to attend, reportedly after more Amir apologies and a talking-to from the PCB chairman. It is clear, though, that this issue is far from over and will continue to fester for a while. Expect more strange PCB news releases.

Talking points: Amla form, Steyn comeback and attitude of England batsmen will determine series

Last week’s results

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka ODI series

1st ODI — New Zealand won by seven wickets

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka Test series

2nd Test — New Zealand won by five wickets (winning series 2-0)

Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe ODI series

1st ODI — Afghanistan won by 49 runs

Game of the week — Afghanistan v Zimbabwe

It might not be attracting as much attention as some of the other international cricket on at the moment. But Zimbabwe’s ODI tour of Afghanistan, in the UAE, could be an excellent one to keep an eye on. On Friday in Sharjah, Afghanistan pulled off an outstanding result, defending a meagre 131 comfortably in the end.

Player of the week — Matt Henry

With Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan and Doug Bracewell around, New Zealand’s current deep stock of fast bowling riches means that Matt Henry often goes under the radar. Not this week: he was front and centre in sparking a collapse that saw Sri Lanka fall to 27-5 in their first ODI.

Rankings (ODI batsmen)

1 — AB de Villiers (SA)

2 — Virat Kohli (Ind)

3 — Kane Williamson (NZ)

4 — Tillakaratne Dilshan (SL)

5 — Hashim Amla (SA)

6 — MS Dhoni (Ind)

7 — Shikhar Dhawan (Ind)

8 — Ross Taylor (NZ)

9 — Glenn Maxwell (Aus)

10 — Quinton de Kock (SA)

This week

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka ODI series

2nd ODI — Monday

3rd ODI — Thursday

4th ODI — Saturday

South Africa v England Test series

2nd Test — From Saturday

Afghanistan v Zimbabwe ODI series

2nd ODI — Tuesday

3rd ODI — Saturday

Match-up of the week

Afghanistan’s first win over Zimbabwe was sensational in its defence of a small target. Zimbabwe have generally improved as an ODI side over the last year, but Afghanistan are looking hungry every time they play. A series win here would be a massive result.

Player to watch

Brendon McCullum does not need an invitation to attack. That is standard setting. But now that he is leaving the game soon, it might free him up even more. His 25-ball 55 in the first ODI against Sri Lanka was spectacular and there may be more in a similar vein.

Stat of the week

7: The number of wickets Australia have lost in the Test series against the West Indies so far. They have only batted two innings in two Tests and much of their lower-middle order has not even had a bat. They could play a whole series without batting a second innings.

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COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

It's Monty Python's Crashing Rocket Circus

To the theme tune of the famous zany British comedy TV show, SpaceX has shown exactly what can go wrong when you try to land a rocket.

The two minute video posted on YouTube is a compilation of crashes and explosion as the company, created by billionaire Elon Musk, refined the technique of reusable space flight.

SpaceX is able to land its rockets on land once they have completed the first stage of their mission, and is able to resuse them multiple times - a first for space flight.

But as the video, How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster, demonstrates, it was a case if you fail, try and try again.

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Clinicy
Started: 2017
Founders: Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman, Abdullah bin Sulaiman Alobaid and Saud bin Sulaiman Alobaid
Based: Riyadh
Number of staff: 25
Sector: HealthTech
Total funding raised: More than $10 million
Investors: Middle East Venture Partners, Gate Capital, Kafou Group and Fadeed Investment

THE BIO

Ms Al Ameri likes the variety of her job, and the daily environmental challenges she is presented with.

Regular contact with wildlife is the most appealing part of her role at the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.

She loves to explore new destinations and lives by her motto of being a voice in the world, and not an echo.

She is the youngest of three children, and has a brother and sister.

Her favourite book, Moby Dick by Herman Melville helped inspire her towards a career exploring  the natural world.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Elmawkaa
Based: Hub71, Abu Dhabi
Founders: Ebrahem Anwar, Mahmoud Habib and Mohamed Thabet
Sector: PropTech
Total funding: $400,000
Investors: 500 Startups, Flat6Labs and angel investors
Number of employees: 12

Tips for job-seekers
  • Do not submit your application through the Easy Apply button on LinkedIn. Employers receive between 600 and 800 replies for each job advert on the platform. If you are the right fit for a job, connect to a relevant person in the company on LinkedIn and send them a direct message.
  • Make sure you are an exact fit for the job advertised. If you are an HR manager with five years’ experience in retail and the job requires a similar candidate with five years’ experience in consumer, you should apply. But if you have no experience in HR, do not apply for the job.

David Mackenzie, founder of recruitment agency Mackenzie Jones Middle East


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