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10-31-2006, 10:28 PM
CRICKET: Sri Lanka's dynamic wicket keeper batsman Kumar Sangakkara is among the World's leading stars who will back the Spirit of Cricket initiated by the International Cricket Council during the on going ICC Champions Trophy Mini World Cup in India.

Sangakkara will be joined by a host of stars that includes India's captain Rahul Dravid and opening batsmen Virender Sehwag, Brian Lara, the West Indies captain who lifted the ICC Champions Trophy at The Brit Oval two years ago, Australia fast bowler Brett Lee, Bangladesh's captain Habibul Bashar and coach Dav Whatmore, Prosper Utseya, the captain of Zimbabwe, and Kevin Curran, the side's coach, New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond and Shaun Pollock, the South African all-rounder and former captain.

Sangakkara is presently ranked eighth in the ICC one day rankings and is placed ninth in the ICC test rankings. The Spirit of Cricket Award recognises the international team who has done most to adhere to the Spirit of Cricket during the past year. The short-listed for this ICC Awards in 2006 are India, England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. New Zealand (2004) and England (2005) were the previous winners of the Award.

The Spirit of Cricket, enshrined through the Laws of the Game, was defined as part of the International Cricket Council's Strategic Plan from 2006 to 2010. As part of cricket's social responsibility, the ICC is committed to using major events like the ICC Champions Trophy, as a foundation to raise the awareness of issues such as HIV and AIDS as well as the wider aims of the Millennium Development Goals.

In fact the International Cricket Councils 'vision of success is that cricket will capture and inspire many people of every age, gender, background and ability while building bridges between continents, countries and communities.

Around a third of the 40 million people living with HIV and AIDS reside in the 10 nations who are currently participating in the ICC Champions Trophy in India. It was against this backdrop that the ICC became the first global sporting body to enter into a strategic alliance with UNAIDS - the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS - to support the fight against HIV/AIDS in cricket-playing countries.

This ICC Champions Trophy will be no exception and the activities will be highlighted during the course of the event. The partnership also forms an important part of the Spirit of Cricket, which recognises the important role that cricket can play on and off the field in achieving social good.

As well as providing a great cricketing spectacle for fans around the world, the ICC Champions Trophy plays a vital role in helping develop the game around the globe. In addition to the revenue generated for the 10 Full Members, who may use this money to help increase grass-roots activity in their own countries, some of the revenue generated by the event will go towards supporting the development of the game throughout the world.

Apart from the better known events, such as the ICC Cricket World Cup and the ICC Champions Trophy, the International Cricket Council is also ensuring that cricket's emerging forces have the opportunity to raise their playing standards at international level.

As a result the ICC World Cricket League, a five division competition which will be launched in 2007, which will bring regular global one-day cricket to the top 26 non-Full Members, allowing Members to play regular one-day cricket against similarly-ranked opponents regardless of where in the world they are playing.

It will also ensure that the qualifying pathway for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 will be open to all Members of the ICC. In 2007 and 2008, a full round-robin format will be introduced, with the eight leading Associate members playing each other over those two years with a final likely between the top two sides.

Meanwhile the semi final line up for the Champions Trophy was completed with World Champions Australia overcoming India in the last league match. Thus the Australians topped their group and will take on New Zealand in the first semi final on Wednesday at Mohali.

South Africa who went on to head their group will meet the defending champions West Indies in the second semi final on Thursday at Jaipur.