London: England batsman Jonny Bairstow can’t wait for the “biggest summer” of his cricket career to get underway with the World Cup this month but he also expects it to be the most gruelling as the Ashes is lined up just a few weeks later. Bairstow, who scored 445 runs from 10 matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad in his debut IPL season, will be a key player for the England in the World Cup starting May 30 in the United Kingdom. The World Cup will end on July 14 and the Ashes, against arch-rivals Australia, will start August 1. “It is huge. It is the biggest summer I will ever be involved in. It is the biggest ever summer for English cricket full stop,” he told ‘The Daily Telegraph’. “A World Cup and an Ashes; it is going to be amazing. You dream of winning them. If you can’t dream about that and think what that is going to feel like then what is the point (of playing)? “At the same time you know it is going be a gruelling summer. Five Tests at the end of World Cup is going to be tough, mentally and physically,” he added. Bairstow played alongside Australia’s David Warner, who came back after serving a one-year ban for his role in the infamous ball-tampering scandal, in the IPL. Speaking of his impressions of the controversial but swashbuckling batsman from Down Under, Bairstow said, “I think that experience (ball-tampering) can only change you as a person. He was a very good team-mate, he passed on a lot of knowledge about local bowlers, game-plans, pitches, everything. He was excellent.” All praise he might be for Warner but the Englishman said there would be no love lost when the two square off during the Ashes. “We can say hello now. We did not have a connection before, but now we’ve played together and done well together and had a good partnership it will make a difference. “We spent five weeks together having dinner and coffees. It changes things but it will still be England versus Australia,” he said. Bairstow also spoke of an interaction with England football manager Gareth Southgate, who was widely credited for the team’s run till semifinals of the FIFA World Cup last year. The batsman, however, did not elaborate on the interaction. “The biggest thing for us will be home support, playing in front of our own fans. We heard from Gareth Southgate last week. He was brilliant. A lovely guy. The football lads were so meticulous in their planning for the World Cup last year.
The Maldives opposition expressed confidence of a free and fair poll as voting got underway on Saturday in bi-elections in the politically troubled nation.International affairs spokesman for the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Xinhua that his party led by former President Mohamed Nasheed hopes the peaceful conditions will pave the way for an early presidential election. The Elections Commission on Friday said it had received 21 complaints in relation to the parliamentary bi-elections for the Kaafu Atoll Kaashidhoo and Thaa Atoll Thimarafushi constituencies and the Kumundhoo council bi-election.The Maldives with nearly 1,200 scattered atolls is undergoing political turmoil since former vice president Mohammed Waheed took over the office as president following a controversial power transfer. “Polling is going peacefully and we have confidence with the elections commission that the elections will be free and fair. We are thankful to everyone to help make this peaceful. This shows the conditions to hold peaceful elections exist and thus there is no reason hold back on an early presidential election,”said Ghafoor. Voting in the bi-elections for the Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi constituencies and the Thaa Atoll Gaadhiffushi and Haa dhaal Atoll Kumundhoo island councils began early Saturday and will continue till evening. Former President Nasheed claimed he was ousted by a military- backed coup and is demanding an early presidential election.In a statement last month the European Union noted that agreement on the holding of early elections, on the independent investigation of the transfer of power in February and the reestablishment of the correction functioning of government and parliament is now more important than ever.The United States has also supported an early presidential election and has come forward to assist the holding of a free and fair poll. (Xinhua)