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Inspired by Kohli, Sheldon reaps rewards of fitness transformation

NEW DELHI: Seasoned Saurashtra batsman Sheldon Jackson has reaped big benefits of becoming a ‘six-pack’ cricketer this Ranji Trophy season and says the inspiration came from national team captain Virat Kohli, someone who has redefined fitness in Indian cricket. The 33-year-old Jackson amassed 800 plus runs for the second year in a row to help…

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NEW DELHI: Seasoned Saurashtra batsman Sheldon Jackson has reaped big benefits of becoming a ‘six-pack’ cricketer this Ranji Trophy season and says the inspiration came from national team captain Virat Kohli, someone who has redefined fitness in Indian cricket.

The 33-year-old Jackson amassed 800 plus runs for the second year in a row to help Saurashtra win their maiden Ranji Trophy after three failed attempts.

Jackson was one of the architects of the triumph with 809 runs at 50.56. The Bhavnagar-born batsman feels the effort that he put into improving his fitness over the past 12 months played a massive role in his consistent run this season.

“It was actually the Virat story that inspired me. With the exemplary skills that he has, if he still thought he needed to get fitter then we are nothing in front of him,” said Jackson, who saw Kohli’s fitness regimen from close quarters during his stint with the RCB back in 2013.

By his own admission, Jackson was very “raw” in 2013 but six seasons later, he has gone on to become Saurashtra’s main batsman in all formats. In fact, the Jaydev Unadkat-led side was a well-oiled machine this season with both star and lesser-known players producing match-winning performances.

“The people who helped me were normal gym trainers. My friends, who used to work out with me in Ahmedabad, they used to see that I was working hard but not getting the results.

“Till last year I used to eat anything, all possible junk, but they (gym trainers) were the ones who taught me to eat well to perform. It has benefited me hugely in my recovery and strength,” said Jackson, who is proud of being the only ‘six-pack’ cricketer in the Saurashtra team.

The batsman, who works for the Income Tax Office in Ahmedadad, made 854 runs even last year but thought he could do much better on the fitness front. And that is what triggered the transformation.

“I thought cricket was a skill game but I was totally wrong. Cricket is a skill game which needs a lot of fitness because if you are fit, you can perform well under pressure, especially when your body is tired,” he pointed out.

Having played last for India A in 2016, Jackson has experienced frustration many times but has not let it get the better of him. Saurashtra made the Ranji final even last year but no player made the India A cut.

Having questioned selectors’ decision to ignore Saurashtra players following the last season, all Jackson wants now is to play at a higher level. This is actually his wish for all his teammates.

“I believe that due importance has to be given to Ranji performances. Even Cheteshwar Pujara (his teammate) has spoken about it and if he said it, it has to have substance.

“We have not won a lot of trophies over the last 10 years but we have been consistently reaching the finals. It is sad that Saurashtra is looked (at) as a small team. I hope this perception changes sooner than later.


“We are performing year after year and players need to get opportunities. First class cricket in India is so tough that it is hard to just make the knockouts, let alone reaching the final,” he said.


People keep reminding him his age and though Jackson feels it should not be a selection criteria, he knows that he is running out of time.


“I have been hearing a lot about my age ever since I turned 30. It is written nowhere that you can’t play (at a higher level) after 30 but with the talent that India has, it is very easy to be overlooked.


“I am against this mindset but it is what it is,” added Jackson.


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Less than one-third of India’s ‘aspirational’ districts hit by Covid

Less than a third of India’s ‘aspirational districts’ – those with poor socio-economic indicators have been affected by the coronavirus. Last Updated: Apr 25, 2020, 08.26 AM ISTNew Delhi: Less than a third of India’s ‘aspirational districts’ – those with poor socio-economic indicators have been affected by the coronavirus. An assessment by ET shows that…

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Less than a third of India’s ‘aspirational districts’ – those with poor socio-economic indicators have been affected by the coronavirus.

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2020, 08.26 AM IST

CORONA _ BCCL

New Delhi: Less than a third of India’s ‘aspirational districts’ – those with poor socio-economic indicators have been affected by the coronavirus. An assessment by ET shows that no more than 35 of the nation’s 115 aspirational districts are among the 377 red and orange-category zones that have reported Covid-19 cases. As many as 170 of the country’s 720 districts were classified as red zones as of last week – 123 with large outbreaks and 47 with clusters. There were 207 orange zones, or non-hotpot districts, with fewer cases. The remaining green zones have no cases.

Among the 123 hotspot districts with large outbreaks, there are only six aspirational districts – one each in Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu and two in Jammu and Kashmir. In the 47 districts with Covid-19 clusters, there are nine aspirational districts – two each in Assam and Bihar and one each in Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab and Uttarakhand. There are 20 aspirational districts among the 207 non-hotspot districts in the orange zone. Even in states reporting the highest number of cases in the country, it is not the aspirational districts that are of concern.

Maharashtra, with 27% of the cases in the country, reported cases in two aspirational districts – Osmanabad and Jalgaon. Gujarat reported cases in only one aspirational district – Dohad. In both states, the aspirational districts were in the orange zone. None of the eight aspirational districts in Uttar Pradesh were found in the red or orange categories so far. These districts are said to have shown the highest improvement in socio-economic parameters, followed by Kerala. Officials said the 115 aspirational districts were so far mostly safe because they are far away from urban agglomerations. “Covid-19 is clearly concentrated more in urban clusters and since most aspirational districts are in the rural segments, the spread so far is not felt there,” a senior official told ET.

“We are, however, also aware that since the health infrastructure in many of these districts is on the weaker side, adequate testing may not be happening as yet and we should be prepared for any scenario.” The Centre identified 115 backward districts from across the states in 2018 and started a programme for their ‘transformation.’ The Niti Aayog-driven mission focuses on improvements in the areas of health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion and skill development and basic infrastructure including access to roads, potable water, rural electrification and individual household toilets.

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Copyright © 2020 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service

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Finance Commission against RBI lending to centre

NK Singh, chairman of the 15th Finance Commission, said the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act allows the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to lend to the government, but he doesn’t favour such a move. Singh said states can use the escape clause of 0.5 % over the 3% of gross state domestic product…

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NK Singh, chairman of the 15th Finance Commission, said the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act allows the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to lend to the government, but he doesn’t favour such a move.

Singh said states can use the escape clause of 0.5 % over the 3% of gross state domestic product mandated target in their FRBM law for any additional spending for Covid-19 battle. Any further relaxation would need changes to the FRBM law. “Section 5 of the FRBM Act allows RBI to directly lend to the government,” Singh told reporters in a video conference on Friday after a two-day meeting of the finance commission’s economic advisory council. “In my view it (should) perhaps not be done.”

On states’ demand to raise their fiscal deficit target to as much as 5% of state GDP, he said it would be easier to avail of the 0.5% cushion enshrined in their acts. A higher relaxation, he said, would require new legislation. “The advisory council also felt that the magnitude of the impact of these developments on public finances is uncertain, but will certainly be significant,” the council said in an official release.

Nuanced Fiscal Response Needed


Shortfall in tax and other revenue will be largely due to subdued economic activity and hence the fiscal response to the crisis should be much more nuanced, it said.

The meeting, chaired by Singh, was attended by council members Sajjid Z Chinoy, Prachi Mishra, Neelkanth Mishra, Omkar Goswami, Arvind Virmani, Indira Rajaraman, DK Srivastava, M Govinda Rao and Sudipto Mundle.

“It is important not just to look at the size of fiscal response but also carefully at its design,” the council said.

Singh said the commission will wait for data from the FY20 fourth quarter and FY21 first quarter to arrive at its own growth estimate. While the first quarter will witness the sharpest shrinkage, the council had varied views on the type of recovery, with some predicting a V-shaped one and others a graph that more resembled a U or an L.

Members were unanimously of the view that projections for real GDP growth made before March need to be re-examined thoroughly and revised downward.

Chief economic adviser K Subramanian and Niti Aayog member Ramesh Chand made presentations to the council on the macroeconomic scenario and agriculture, respectively. The commission, Singh said, will be carrying out structural changes in its recommendations on the health sector in view of the pandemic.

The commission’s advisory council suggested a partial loan guarantee scheme for the non-banking financial companies (NBFC) sector and a support mechanism for small scale enterprises in view of the disease outbreak.

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Transgender players kick down doors in Argentina football

LA PLATA: Out on the pitch, they finally can feel like themselves. In addition to the sheer joy that football brings them, Mara Gomez and Marcos Rojo have the extra satisfaction of knowing that after a long and difficult journey, they are blazing a trail for transgender players in Argentina. Tall, slim and with her…

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LA PLATA: Out on the pitch, they finally can feel like themselves. In addition to the sheer joy that football brings them, Mara Gomez and Marcos Rojo have the extra satisfaction of knowing that after a long and difficult journey, they are blazing a trail for transgender players in Argentina.

Tall, slim and with her hair tied back in a ponytail, Gomez plays for the team of Villa San Carlos in La Plata, 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of Buenos Aires.

At 23, she aims to become the first transgender player in the new women’s professional league in her native country.

“I suffered a lot from discrimination, exclusion, verbal abuse in the street and in school. Football was like therapy for me,” Gomez told AFP.

She started playing at 15, encouraged by neighbors.

In the women’s league in La Plata, Gomez distinguished herself as a leading goal scorer in the past two seasons.

That prompted Villa San Carlos, in last place in the women’s professional league, to seek to recruit her.

“She’s quick and is very good at kicking on target,” said trainer Juan Cruz Vitale.

“Unlike what people and the media were thinking, she isn’t that strong. I have a number of girls who are stronger and even though she’s fast, I have girls who are faster,” he noted.

But Vitale added: “She’s smart and learns quickly. And she gets goals, which is what we were lacking.”

The club is in the process of submitting its application to the Argentine Football Association to sign Gomez up, once the current coronavirus lockdown ends.

“There is a law on gender identity that they can’t get around. We are convinced she is going to be a star,” the coach said.

Argentina led Latin America by passing a gender identity law in 2012, which allowed Gomez to officially change her gender on her national identity card when she turned 18.

“I am very happy to know that as a society we are doing a little more, we are opening up minds,” she said as she contemplated the prospect of becoming a professional player in a country that has produced some of the world’s best footballers, including Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.

Rojo, 20, started playing this year as a center forward with the club Union del Suburbio in Gualeguaychu in the northeast of the country, the first time he has played on a men’s team.

Two years ago, he changed his name and gender on his national identity card, and the team had no qualms about signing him.

The league in the province of Entre Rios will issue his membership as soon as footballing activities restart.

In Rojo’s living room hangs a picture of him at his 15th birthday party, when he still officially identified as a girl. His family has given him its full support during his transition.

“I wanted to make the change in my official papers because I had always wanted to play with the men. Since I was little, I felt like I was one of them,” Rojo said.

“Football was a big step for me because it was the thing I was always looking for, what I wanted,” he said. “The support of a team for this change means a lot.”

Rojo said men’s football is “much more demanding.”

“The boys are all good kickers. For me, it will be a huge achievement if I manage to play in the premier division at some point.”

Sebastian Rajoy, Union del Suburbio’s president, said that “everyone has the right to play sports.”

“Clubs on the margins are the ones offering the opportunity. Someone has to take the first step, and in this case it is us,” he said.


In this early stage of incorporating transgender players, Gomez and Rojo are aware they could be asked to submit to a hormone test before they are fully accepted into the leagues.


“The discussion is linked to the dilemma between biology and respect for people’s rights,” said Ayelen Pujol, a specialist in gender identity in sports.




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