Aum?ne Cougars, the top team in France based on AFIs rankings.Who is playing: Soccer and rugby dominate the French sport
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Aum?ne Cougars, the top team in France based on AFIs rankings.Who is playing: Soccer and rugby dominate the French sport
In the two years that he has spent playing 55 international matches, Sabbir Rahman has rapidly progressed from being a lower-order hitter in T20s to a dependable ODI No 3. Fake Vans Slip-on . He now has the chance to bring his free-spirited approach to batting to Bangladeshs Test team.He is arguably Bangladeshs most exciting Test entrant since Habibul Bashar and Aftab Ahmed in the early days of their status. Both brought a sense of adventure to the line-up, though Aftab couldnt sustain playing in his own brash style for too long. Bashar was the batting mainstay from 2000 to 2007, combining his ability to play strongly off the front and back foot with the solidity of a run-maker.Sabbir doesnt necessarily have to fill Bashars shoes or suffer Aftabs fate but he will also be expected to bat his own way, which so far has made him a regular in Bangladeshs limited-overs teams.Everyone thought that I am a T20 player, that I would not be able to play one-dayers even, Sabbir said. I proved that I can play ODIs. I am now in the Test side, so Inshaallah I am hoping for my debut. I will try to make sure that I can play in all three formats in the same way.He is among four newcomers in the 14-man side selected for the first Test against England starting on Thursday, which also includes Mehedi Hasan, Nurul Hasan and Kamrul Islam Rabbi. The inclusion of these four talented cricketers is a welcome boost for the Bangladesh team management which is desperate to revive the Test line-up that had been shelved for more than a year.Sabbir stands out among the newcomers with his head-start at the top level, and an essential part of his approach will be the freedom he is given by the coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who has been arguing for his Test selection for more than a year.When announcing the squad, Hathurusingha said that he will try to find him a place in the playing XI. Though he didnt expand, it is likely that Sabbir may be given the No 7 slot. Ideally it would give him time to get set against a worn-out bowling attack, before taking on the second new ball.Bangladesh has long favoured choosing seven, and sometimes eight, full batsmen in Tests but they havent had a batsman of Sabbirs experience and ability to call upon for quite some time. Nasir Hossain faded away after 2014, having showing some promise, while others, such as Mushfiqur Rahim, were promoted up the order after spending time at No 7. Interestingly, Sabbirs mentor Khaled Mashud spent 32 Tests batting at this position during his days as Bangladeshs wicketkeeper, but it was mostly to stop batting slides and collapses.Sabbirs game is based on sharp reflexes and a willingness to release his arms at most deliveries, and, in one-day cricket, a readiness to go over the top during fielding restrictions. While some of his shots on the on-side are a reminder of how Aftab used to smother fast bowling, Sabbirs overall game is more in the Bashar mould.Bashar was a breath of fresh air in Bangladeshs inaugural Test match in 2000. He wasnt originally in the squad but went on to make a fast fifty in the first innings against India. Until June 13 last year, he was Bangladeshs highest scorer in Tests. His method was quite simple, as he would regularly go after the fast bowlers. He would initially top-edge a lot of the shorter length deliveries but soon found his groove against top bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar, Lasith Malinga and Heath Streak. He would struggle to find gaps against spinners, but the method ultimately paid off for him, and gave Bangladesh important runs.Sabbir plays spin well, and is a good rotator of the strike. He has also shown a willingness to both use the fast bowlers pace to manipulate the field, and force himself on them too. He will have to choose between the two, and knows that success at this level will depend a lot on his judgment. It would be unwise to post him higher up the batting order at this early stage of his career but, with more Test experience, he could even emulate Bashars No 3 batting spot with the same free spirit.Sabbir says that he doesnt want to change his approach, but understands that patience will be key in the longer format.I dont think there will be a lot of change in my approach, Sabbir said. Runs are runs. Everyone will see the runs on the scoreboard. I will try to play to my strengths. There is also a matter of time in Tests: even if you play a lot of dot balls, there is no problem. There is mental satisfaction that there are no problems playing dot balls. In ODI or T20 cricket, you feel pressure if you play dot balls.In Test matches, I will think about how to sacrifice a ball, how to judge a ball. I have practised it off the field, have practised it when I am alone. I have thought about how to play well in Tests. It depends on my mentality, really. Fake Vans Shoes . Now tied for second in the league in shootout goals, the 24-year-old likes to see what the opposing goaltender has in store before he ultimately lands on a move. Fake Vans Toy Story . -- Jaye Marie Green shot a 4-under 68 on Thursday to increase her lead to five strokes after the second round of the LPGA Tours qualifying tournament. http://www.fakevans.com/ .com) - Following a late-game loss to the reigning NBA champs, the Toronto Raptors will look to sustain their recent high-level play as they travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers. The NFLs International Series shifts to Mexico City this week, and coverage will focus on the enormous support from local fans. Estadio Azteca will be sold out on Monday night as the?Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders?face off, a confirmation of the continued interest in American football outside United States borders. Less visible, but no less interesting, is the rise in player participation around the globe. A new adult league debuted in Mexico City this spring, joining dozens of semi-professional and club-level leagues in every corner of the planet -- from Europe to Asia to Australia.The worldwide action is tracked daily by American Football International (AFI), a website and advocacy group run by Roger Kelly and John McKeon. Kelly is a former Canadian Football League executive, now living in Sweden. McKeon, a former player in a French league, is based in New York.ESPN.com teamed with AFI to assess the quality and scope of Planet Football. What follows is a subjective ranking of the top countries from a standpoint of participation and local interest.1. CanadaKey stat: Canadians play with 12 rather than 11 players on each side, helping to fill up a field that is both longer (110 yards) and wider (65 yards) than traditional American football.Fun fact: The first documented American football game in Canada took place in 1861, a full eight years before the first documented American football game in the United States.Who is playing: The nine-team CFL offers a unique spin on the game, and it plays at a high enough level that a handful of players move on to the NFL after each season. Each team is allowed 19 international -- i.e. American -- players. The rest come from Canadas extensive CIS college system, which features 27 schools from four regions that play at its highest level. The CFL once felt comfortable enough to expand into the United States, an experiment that ended in 1995 but led to a firmer vision for a regionally focused league.2. GermanyKey stat:?There are 54,000 federation members among 450 club teams.Fun fact: Former Duke and Fresno State quarterback Brandon Connette was Germanys top quarterback in 2016. He threw for 4,747 yards in 17 games for the Dresden Monarchs.Who is playing: Germany proved to be the most fertile ground for NFL Europe, and eventually five of the leagues six teams migrated within its borders. That popularity carried on even after the 2007 shuttering, and the best club teams in Germany now play at a level equivalent to a Division II college team in the United States. This spring, Germany produced its first NFL draft pick: wide receiver Moritz Bohringer, who has spent the season on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad. Bohringer was the first international player to move directly from a European league to the NFL.3. Great BritainKey stat: British American Football Federation has nearly 12,000 members.Fun fact: There is a five-on-five womens tackle league in Great Britain that has a tradition known as the Sapphire Series, which is now taking applicants for the 2017 tournament.Who is playing: NFL interest has soared in London and the surrounding areas since the start of the International Series in 2007. This year, a total of 242,373 fans attended three games held at two different stadiums. College football has grown dramatically throughout the United Kingdom, an important development. The UKs National League is fully amateur, meaning no paid American imports are allowed. So for the league to thrive at a post-college level, it needs native talent to surface. University teams are poised to provide that talent pool.4. MexicoKey stat: The first organized American football game in Mexico took place in 1896.Fun fact: Americas Team was once Mexicos Team as well. Perhaps thats still the case. The Dallas Cowboys, also known as Vaqueros de Dallas, began appearing on Mexican television in the 1960s. Hispanic place-kicker Danny Villanueva, a New Mexico native, was a big draw.Who is playing: American Football has a long history in Mexico. The first games were played there at the collegiate level in the 1920s, and Mexico is now one of two countries outside of the United States to support a fully professional league. (Canada is the other.) The Liga Futbol Americano debuted in the spring of 2016 with four teams and recently announced expansion into a six-team league for 2017. Most of the league is based in Mexico City. Geographical proximity to the NFL makes it a more natural transition for fans. A then-record 103,467 filled Estadio Azteca for the 2005 game between the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers. Two preseason games there in the 1990s drew a combined 218,800 fans, and this seasons game -- with a reduced capacity of around 87,000 following renovations -- sold out within minutes.5. AustriaKey stat: Approximately 4,000 people in Austria are licensed to play either flag or tackle football.Fun fact: The Vienna Vikings played in five consecutive Eurobowls, winning four of them, from 2003-07. Thats four more championships than their American counterparts, another Vikings franchise with whom they share an almost identical logo.Who is playing: The Austrian Football League rivals GGermany for the highest-level football played outside North America. Cheap Fake Vans. AFI currently ranks the Swarco Raiders as the top team in Europe. The Raiders origin goes back to the 1980s, dating to the earliest days of NFLs excursion into Europe. For a long stretch, Austrian teams dominated international competitions. During the Vikings run in the mid-2000s, their championship games were televised. Their games were played in front of crowds that were as large as 10,000 fans, and the entire league continues to draw well.6. JapanKey stat: There are 18 teams in Japans X-League.Fun fact: American football was first introduced to Japan in 1934 by the legendary missionary Paul Rusch.Who is playing: The highest levels of football in Japan are organized through corporations that sponsor the teams and staff them with their own employees. Companies that field teams include IBM, Fujitsu, Panasonic and Mitsubishi. A handful have developed into semi-pro-level teams, and the Japan Bowl will be played in December in the Tokyo Dome. Japanese teams have grown increasingly aggressive in recruiting American-born players. The IBM BigBlue roster, for example, includes quarterback Kevin Craft (San Diego State/UCLA) and receiver/tight end John Stanton (St. Johns of Minnesota).7. BrazilKey stat: Brazilians have played tackle football in an organized way for only eight years, but there are already 105 teams and approximately 8,500 members of its federation.Fun fact: Team names in Brazil are fantastic, as long as you are not prone to phobias. There are clubs known as the Rednecks, Tsunami, Crocodiles, Vipers, Black Sharks and Brown Spiders.Who is playing: Although the level of play is not high relative to other countries, fan support is wild for teams in the CBFA Superliga -- a structure devised this year to pit the top 31 teams in the country for a regular rotation. As many as 15,000 fans show up for games, rivaling soccer events in some cases. The Corinthian Steamrollers have 1.4 million fans on their public Facebook page. As a result, Brazil is viewed as perhaps the most fertile ground for grassroots expansion in the world.8. ChinaKey stat: The game was introduced about five years ago on a significant scale, and as of last summer, about 5,000 men and women were playing in some form. That includes the inaugural Chinese Arena Football League, backed in part by the owners of the Philadelphia Soul.Fun fact: Former Arizona State defensive lineman Zach Brown, living in China for work, started a semi-pro league by handing out business cards to people he met on the street. The cards said, I play American football. You look like a dude who could play. Contact us here. Runner-up: The Shanghai Skywalkers are a real thing. Enough said.Who is playing: Ken Li, the founder of the American Football Union, said China is more interested in the NFL than playing the game itself. The level of play here is no comparison to the NFL at all, Li said. He added: I always say that if we put the best players in China on an all-star team, the level might be similar to a Division III in the NCAA. That gives you the best-case scenario of what were seeing here.9. FranceKey stat: France has a huge if moderately competitive federation, counting 215 registered clubs and 22,136 members.Fun fact: Defensive end Micah Robinson, a former Syracuse star, had 18 sacks last season for Saint-Ouen-lAum?ne Cougars, the top team in France based on AFIs rankings.Who is playing: Soccer and rugby dominate the French sports terrain, so support is mixed even while participation and skill level is high. Most football teams have American imports playing quarterback, including many with experience at Division I schools. There have also been occasional instances of French-born players piquing interest of NFL teams. Receiver Anthony Dable, who like Bohringer discovered football on YouTube and went on to play in the French and German leagues, spent training camp with the New York Giants and had a September tryout with the New England Patriots.10. AustraliaKey stat: There are approximately 4,000 members in the Australian federation.Fun fact: The first season of American football in Australia was 1984. Players used boxing head gear instead of helmets and played on what Gridiron Australias official history called a disused rubbish tip. In other words, it was an abandoned garbage dump.Who is playing: American football has plenty of team-sport competition in Australia, from rugby to Australian rules football to soccer. But there is a growing list of Australian-born players working their way into the NFL. Former rugby star Jarryd Hayne is the most notable, having played last season as a running back/returner for the San Francisco 49ers. Most of them have been specialists, however, including current New York Giants punter Brad Wing. Sav Rocca had a seven-year career with three teams, and Mat McBriar punted for 11 years, mostly with the Dallas Cowboys. And Darren Bennett, the San Diego Chargers punter from 1995-03, introduced rugby-style kicking to the NFL. ' ' '