Monday, May 28, 2018

Alastair Cook warns England careers are on the line amid Test slump

Alastair Cook has warned members of the England dressing room will "be looking for other employment" if they are unable to reverse their recent run of form.
Cook, who will break Allan Border's record for the most consecutive Testswhen he takes the field in Leeds on Friday, accepts that England are "not playing well" at present and knows they have lost their last three Tests at Headingley.
But he has urged his colleagues to "stick together" and "not carry the negatives from the first Test with us to Headingley."
"We need to play better," Cook said in his Sky Sports column. "Test futures are on the line.
"It's never great when you lose, even more so playing the way we did at Lord's. It's a frustrating time for us at the moment as a side; we're not playing well.
"If you want to play cricket for England, you've got to deliver, otherwise we'll be looking for other employment. That's the nature of the beast and, fundamentally, we're not producing out in the middle.
"But we have to stick together as a group. The last thing you can do is play the blame game, and the trick is now to not carry the negatives from the first Test with us to Headingley.
"Again, that's another thing easier said than done. But clearly we are not going to lose every game of cricket ever, it is going to turn around at some stage, and it's down to us to do that.
While disappointed for Mark Stoneman, who was dropped after the Lord's Test, Cook expressed confidence in his replacement, Keaton Jennings.
"It's tough on Mark Stoneman," Cook said. "It's horrible. Playing for England is these guys' dreams, so it's not nice seeing people dropped. I spoke to him on Monday; he was obviously disappointed, as you'd expect, but he has to now go away, score runs and look at areas in which he can improve his game.
"It gives Keaton a great opportunity, and we just need people to grab these opportunities with both hands and to start pushing this side forward, like Jos Buttler and Dom Bess - on debut - did at Lord's.
"He is a very level-headed guy and seems very suited to Test level, in terms of his mental approach. He got a hundred on debut, which shows he can play, but then against a good South African side last summer things just didn't quite go his way."

Monday, May 14, 2018

Dominant South Africa complete 5-0 sweep

South Africa's bowling prowess came to the fore once again as their new-ball tandem of Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp took five wickets for 38 runs in 19 overs between them in the fifth and final women's ODIagainst Bangladesh. The duo's parsimony enabled the home team to restrict Bangladesh to 166 for 9 in 50 overs, before opener Laura Wolvaardt's unbeaten 70 took South Africa to their target in just 35 overs.
Even though they played out 50 overs for the first time this series, Bangladesh's innings was highlighted by two collapses, either side of a fourth and a fifth-wicket partnership. First, Kapp and Ismail reduced them to 23 for 3 after Bangladesh were put in to bat. Wicketkeeper-batsman Shamima Sultana, who opened the innings, held up her end and added 85 for the fourth wicket with her captain Rumana Ahmed.
After the stand was broken, with the dismissal of Shamima for 53, Rumana added a further 48 with Nigar Sultana. By the time Rumana was dismissed, she had struck 74 - one run fewer than her highest international score - almost 50 percent of her team's runs. Bangladesh then lost four wickets in their last two overs to end up with an underwhelming total. Ismail finished with 3 for 17 in nine overs, while Kapp took 2 for 21 in 10 overs.
South Africa kept the heat on right through the chase, beginning with Lizelle Lee and Wolvaardt, who stitched together 79 for the first wicket. Wovaardt, however, lost her share of partners after the stand was broken. Trisha Chetty, who, earlier in the game became the first female wicketkeeper to accomplish 150 career dismissals, fell for a two-ball duck, while captain Dane van Niekerk was stumped for 29 on her 25th birthday.
After offspinner Khadija Tul Kubra claimed her third wicket - she sent back Chloe Tryon for a run-a-ball nine - Wolvaardt ensured South Africa stayed the course. She finished not-out on 70 off 96 balls, collecting seven fours and a six along the way.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Ahmed Faiz 86 hands Malaysia second win in low-scoring game

In a tense low-scoring affair, Ahmed Faiz was the difference with an innings of 86 off 101 balls - the next-best score from the line-up was 27 - in a 23-run win over Vanuatu at Kinrara Oval to put Malaysia on the path to promotion with two wins out of two games. Vanuatu, meanwhile, may be on the road to relegation after starting off with two losses at WCL Division Four.
Vanuatu took wickets at regular intervals after sending Malaysia in as the hosts' best partnership of the day was 44 runs. But Faiz stuck around till the 35th over after arriving at the crease 11 balls into the match, anchoring Malaysia and providing them just enough runs to defend for the second day in a row at Kinrara.
After 20 overs, Vanuatu were well on course in their 197-run chase having reached 63 for 2. But Patrick Matautaava edged behind off the spin of Virandeep Singh in the next over. Captain Andrew Mansale and player-coach Shane Deitz rallied Vanuatu back in contention with a 54-run fourth-wicket stand but Vanuatu lost Mansale for 26 and key allrounder Nalin Nipiko for a golden duck in the space of four balls to make it 119 for 5 in the 38th.
Deitz struggled to get adequate support down the stretch from Vanuatu's long tail as the run rate climbed dramatically. By the end of the 45th, Vanuatu needed more than ten per over to win. Deitz slammed a boundary straight past Syed Aziz in the following over, Vanuatu's first boundary since Deitz hit one in the 34th, but Aziz foxed him with a change of pace on the next delivery to bowl Deitz for 46. The 42-year-old has top-scored for Vanuatu in both matches at Division Four - 36 against Jersey and 46 against Malaysia - since his remarkable international debutfollowing a right-hip replacement surgery just seven months ago, but both his efforts have been in vain.
Aziz finished with figures of 2 for 22 to lead the way for Malaysia with the ball while offspinner Mohammad Shukri helped spin out the tail with 2 for 39. For the second day in a row, a run-out by wicketkeeper Shafiq Sharif - this one far less controversial than the one against Uganda - clinched victory as Sharif's throw into the non-striker's stumps denied Callum Blake's attempt to steal a leg bye in the final over.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Curran departure leads frustrated Stewart to call for IPL cut-off date

Alec Stewart, Surrey's director of cricket, has lent his weight to calls for the ECB to consider a cut-off date for future call-ups to the IPL, after his team's early-season plans were thrown "out of the window" due to the last-minute departure of Tom Curran to Kolkata Knight Riders.
Though Curran went unsold at his base price of USD156,000 during the IPL auction in February, his stock as a limited-overs allrounder rose considerably during England's subsequent ODI series win in New Zealand.
And, when Mitchell Starc was ruled out of this year's campaign due to a shin injury, KKR swooped for Curran in a USD253,000 deal. Barely a week later, he made his debut against Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk, and has impressed his new employers with three wickets in two appearances to date.
While Stewart did not begrudge his player either the pay packet or the high-pressure experience that he accepts will help mould Curran into a better player, he bridled at the timing of his departure, just days before the start of a County Championship campaign in which he had been expected to be a pivotal player.
Curran's departure was one of three high-profile call-ups from the county circuit this month, preceding Yorkshire's twin losses of David Willey and Liam Plunkett to Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Daredevils respectively, and the subject was the hot topic of discussion at last week's crisis meeting of county coaches at Edgbaston.
"It's far from ideal losing Tom so late," Stewart said. "I hope in time this will be looked at. The IPL is not going anywhere - I fully understand players wanting to be part of it because, one, it's a good competition and, second, it helps your bank balance.
"The problem is when you get the phone calls I got for Tom, and Martyn Moxon [Yorkshire's director of cricket] got for Willey and Plunkett. Your planning goes out of the window."

Monday, April 2, 2018

Counties call crisis meeting to address T20 drain

County cricket's leading coaches will gather at Edgbaston next week in a crisis meeting to consider how to fight back against the lure of sundry worldwide Twenty20 leagues to the top limited-overs players in the country.
The growing feeling within the counties is that they are paying reliable, long-term contracts to players - many of whom they have developed since childhood - who then rarely take the field.
As cricket has no transfer system, or worldwide compensation agreement, the complaint is that English counties are running extensive coaching networks and nurturing players from an early age without adequate rewards for their efforts.
A record number of England players are taking part in this season's IPL, causing them to miss virtually half the Championship season, but at least when it comes to India's T20 competition the counties can anticipate some levels of compensation.
One proposal on the agenda is that county players contracted for an entire year must pass on a percentage of their earnings from winter tournaments like the Bangladesh Premier League, Australia's Big Bash and the Pakistan Super League - so putting those tournaments on roughly the same level as the IPL.
Others contend that overseas T20 leagues should pay loan fees, similar to the methodology used in football. If they can reach common accord, many counties believe they can prevent players switching from county to county in search of a softer deal.
Former England coaches Ashley Giles and Peter Moores are expected at the meeting, as well as ex-England internationals such as Alec Stewart and Paul Allott.
Representatives from 15 county clubs are confirmed to attend and such is the level of anxiety about county cricket's plight that the only surprise is that three counties don't see fit to be there.
A prime fear is that more players will follow the example of Alex Hales and Adil Rashid in seeking a white-ball only future, which might suit England's needs as they plan for the 2019 World Cup on home soil but could, if the habit became widespread, put the survival of England's first-class game at risk.
But the growing sense of dismay goes deeper than that. Equally disturbing for the counties are the players who will profess their loyalty in all forms of the game, but who then top up their salaries with several close-season T20 leagues, and as a result are either injured, fatigued or must undertake enforced rest periods imposed by England, during the county season.
Players, for their part, contend that an impossible overcrowded fixture list, with international and club cricket battling for supremacy, leaves them with the sort of divided loyalties that they would rather not face as they seek to maximise their earnings.
Yorkshire's director of cricket, Martyn Moxon, will chair the meeting on April 10, which will seek solutions at a time when the ECB seems merely content to let cricket's shifting sands move in whatever direction they wish.
Moxon, who has developed into one of the county game's more serious thinkers, is well placed to pass on concerns, also being on the ECB's cricket committee, and well respected by the ECB chairman Colin Graves.
Central to their concerns are the white-ball only contracts introduced by the managing director of England cricket, Andrew Strauss. These were introduced in September 2016 as a supplement to county contracts - roughly doubling their pay - but the counties now feel that England are getting their one-day specialists on the cheap.
The situation is more equable in Test cricket where the ECB contracts the player exclusively - although even that makes it difficult for a county to make financial plans when a player suddenly loses that contract and is added to the county payroll.
The ECB claims it wishes to protect the 18-team county system - the most successful professional club league in world cricket despite predictions of its demise for more than half a century - but the harsh fact is that counties barely see some of their top white-ball players in spite of most of them earning salaries above GBP100,000 a year.
That situation is seen as unsustainable. Parasitical T20 leagues can ultimately destroy the host. The counties are seeking something more symbiotic - a form of mutual advantage - and, as the cricketing calendar seems to be the harshest form of economic free-for-all, they believe that time is running out to achieve it.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Uncapped Hemalatha called up for England ODIs

Uncapped 23-year-old Tamil Nadu allrounder Dayalan Hemalatha has been called up to the India women squad to face England women in a three-match ODI series at home. Middle-order batsman Devika Vaidya, who last played for India in May last year, was recalled to the squad of 15. Jhulan Goswami, who missed India's last ODI assignment - a three-match series against Australia due to a heel injury - reclaimed her place, and left-arm spinners Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Ekta Bisht also recovered from their injuries to return to the squad.

India women squad
ODIs: Mithali Raj (capt), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-capt), Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Dayalan Hemalatha, Veda Krishnamurthy, Devika Vaidya, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Sushma Verma (wk), Rajeshwari Gayakwad

IN: Dayalan Hemalatha, Devika Vaidya, Jhulan Goswami

OUT: Punam Raut, Mona Meshram, Sukanya Parida

Bisht had injured her left index finger during a caught-and-bowled attempt in the third ODI against Australia and was replaced by Gayakwad for the ongoing tri-series. But later Gayakwad injured herself in a training session in Mumbai last week and was ruled out of the series too, to be replaced by Radha Yadav.

These returns meant there was no room for Punam Raut, Mona Meshram and Sukanya Parida, who were all in the ODI squad to face Australia in Vadodara.

Hemalatha, who bowls offspin and bats right-handed, played four matches for India A recently - two T20s against England before the ongoing tri-series and two one-dayers against Australia in early March.


Vaidya, a 20-year old from Maharashtra, was part of the title-winning Indian team in the World Cup Qualifier that took place early last year in Sri Lanka. She struck 111 runs in four innings - that included a match-winning 89 in the tournament opener against the hosts - and took five wickets in six matches.

Among the exclusions, Raut once again found herself out of favour after being dropped for the final ODI against Australia. After making scores of 37 and 27 in the first two matches, Raut's place was taken by Jemimah Rodrigues, the 17-year old batsman, who is fast becoming a sensation. Meshram, who also last played in the same Australia series, has been plagued by inconsistency since impressing at the World Cup Qualifier.

The selectors also made a slew of changes to the 14-member A squad that will face off against England in a warm-up game in Nagpur. Deepti Sharma will lead the team, taking over from Meghna Singh, who captained them for the T20 warm-ups against England.

The England ODIs will present an opportunity for India to resurrect what has been a middling home season. Though they had a hugely successful tour of South Africa, where they clinched both the T20 and one-day series, India are now on a six-match losing streak at home. After being whitewashed in the ODI series by Australia, they have now lost all their matches in the ongoing T20 tri-series so far, that leaves them without a spot in the final.

The first ODI of the week-long series takes place on April 6 and all the matches will be played in Nagpur.

India A squad: Deepti Sharma (capt), Jemimah Rodrigues, Devika Vaidya, Dayalan Hemalatha, Priya Punia, Anuja Patil, Mona Meshram, Sukanya Parida, Kavita Patil, Shanti Kumari, Tanushree Sarkar, Nuzhat Parween (wk), Radha Yadav, TP Kanwar

Monday, March 12, 2018

Rambukwella back playing cricket after arrest

Ramith Rambukwella is back playing domestic cricket after being released on bail on Saturday, with SLC yet to make a decision on what disciplinary measures - if any - will be imposed.

Arrested on Friday night for assault and drunk driving, Rambukwella has since had the assault charges dropped, having come to a settlement with the complainants. The drunk driving charge remains however; he is due in court on Tuesday.

Although initially an SLC official told ESPNcricinfo that the board had only found out about the incident "through the media" and that it had "not had any official reports of the incident", Rambukwella's behaviour is set to be discussed at a manager's committee meeting on Tuesday. As such his contract with SLC may be under review. His ongoing participation in domestic cricket - he played a one-day match for Tamil Union on Monday - is less likely to be affected, but may also be under scrutiny.

Of particular concern to the board will be Rambukwella's history of disciplinary issues. He was arrested in 2016 under another drunk driving charge after he crashed his car into a wall. In 2013, he had also caused mild panic onboard a flight, when he attempted to open a cabin door at 35,000 feet while returning from a tour with the Sri Lanka A side.

A tall offspinning allrounder, Rambukwella played two T20 internationals for Sri Lanka, the most recent of which was in July 2016.