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Chris Morris to join Hampshire for Vitality Blast

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South Africa allrounder Chris Morris will join Hampshire for this year’s Vitality Blast.

The 32-year-old Morris was this week called into South Africa’s World Cup squad as a replacement for fast bowler Anrich Nortje, who was ruled out of the tournament because of a fractured thumb.

Morris will join Hampshire at the end of his World Cup commitments and will be available for the entire Blast season.

A fierce right-arm seamer and destructive middle-order hitter, Morris has made 63 appearances so far for his national side since his debut in a T20I against New Zealand in 2012. He averages 20.50 with the ball in T20Is with a strike rate of 130.39 with the bat.

Playing domestically for the Titans, Morris has also featured in several franchise competitions around the world, including the IPL and CPL, and he played for Surrey in the 2016 Blast.

“I’m really looking forward to joining Hampshire for the Vitality Blast,” Morris said. “It’s an exciting tournament and it’s an exciting summer coming up – I can’t wait to get there and play at the Ageas Bowl and express what I can do.”

Hampshire director of cricket, Giles White said: “We were delighted when Chris agreed early on to join us for the season. He’s a dynamic batsman in the middle-order and a handful with the ball both up front and at the death, so he’s a great fit for us and hopefully he’ll make a big difference this summer.”

Hampshire begin their quest to reach an eighth T20 finals day in 10 years on July 19 when they host Sussex.



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Alastair Cook would prefer no County Championship to a less ‘meaningful’ shortened season

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Former England captain Alastair Cook has said that he would prefer a season without the County Championship to playing a greatly reduced version of the competition.

The first seven rounds of Championship cricket have already fallen victim to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic, with the ECB announcing last week that no professional cricket will be played before May 28.

When it is possible to resume playing, chief executive Tom Harrison has made clear that the more lucrative domestic competitions will be prioritised, meaning the T20 Blast and the Hundred would take precedence over the Championship.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus outbreak: County cricket latest

That means there could be limited time in which to play the Championship, and Cook – who won the competition in 2017 and 2019 with Essex – said that he would rather wait a year to defend the title than have to do so in an abbreviated season.

“In this year, over the next six months, the bigger picture is the most important,” Cook told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Whatever happens, if we do play any sort of cricket which hopefully we will, what I hope is that they don’t try and have a six-game County Championship or something like that. I would rather have one or two full tournaments, because if you do then play that tournament or two tournaments it is so much more rewarding to win it.

“If there is not time for a meaningful County Championship, say [you can only play] three or four games, there is probably not much sense us having it.

“I would rather concentrate on two full tournaments than saying: ‘We have four tournaments that we need to play, let’s get them all in even if we have to shorten them.’ I think you would rather have two tournaments played full length so there is meaningful cricket at the end of it.”

Previously, Essex’s chief executive Derek Bowden had suggested that “there is an opportunity to be creative with the schedule”, raising the possibility of playing a regional four-day competition instead of attempting a Championship season.

“Let’s look at regional four-day cricket, maybe four or five regional competitions with round-robin four-day cricket,” he told Sky Sports.

“Spectators and members would love that and it would also give us some four-day cricket to support England’s Test series in a very tight schedule.

“Essex could play Kent, Middlesex and Surrey, while Yorkshire could play Lancashire, Durham and one other team, maybe Nottinghamshire.”



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Coronavirus outbreak: Heather Knight signs up for NHS volunteer scheme | Cricket

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Heather Knight looks on © Getty Images


England captain Heather Knight has signed up to be a National Health Service (NHS) volunteer during the coronavirus outbreak.

Knight only returned from Australia, where she led England to the semi-finals of the Women’s T20 World Cup, 10 days ago and is now living under the UK’s lockdown rules with her boyfriend in Bristol.

She revealed in her BBC column that she had volunteered for the scheme that will see people support the health service by delivering food and medicine, transporting patients to appointments and making calls to those in isolation.

“I signed up to the NHS’s volunteer scheme as I have a lot of free time on my hands and I want to help as much as I can,” Knight said. “My brother and his partner are doctors, and I have a few friends who work in the NHS, so I know how hard they are working and how difficult it is for everyone.”

More than half a million people signed up when the volunteer programme was announced on Wednesday. The following day, people from around the country took a moment during the evening to applaud the NHS from their residences.

“Standing on our doorstep, joining in the #ClapForCarers was incredible, and getting involved and volunteering will help even more,” Knight said.

“I’m going to get the car out as I’ve volunteered to transport medicine, and also speak to people who are self-isolating. If someone is home alone, you can ring them up and chat. They have had so many people sign up.”

The ECB, meanwhile, has indicated that it could consider installing coronavirus checkpoints and isolation units at grounds, as it examines the possibility of resuming cricket behind closed doors this summer.

Steve Elworthy, the ECB’s director of events, said games would need take place inside a “sterile” environment, likely with fewer than 500 people in the venue. “So it’s how you test them at the gate, the isolation units that you have to put in,” he told the Guardian. “These are considerations we are thinking about.”

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‘Andre Russell now is our Chris Gayle, our Brian Lara’ – Dwayne Bravo

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Andre Russell is one of the most valuable players in T20 cricket, and now his West Indies team-mate Dwayne Bravo has likened the Jamaican to “our Chris Gayle, our Brian Lara” in T20Is. Bravo’s praise came in the wake of Russell’s impactful return during the two-match T20I series in Sri Lanka, which was also the first series he played for West Indies since being ruled out of the 2019 World Cup due to an injury.

West Indies won the series 2-0 with Russell playing a big hand, scoring 35 off 14 balls in the first T20I and 40 off 14 in the second. The latter was, in particular, a whirlwind knock as Russell packed six sixes to add to the four he hit in the first match, enough to fetch the Player-of-the-Series award.

“He’s the best in the world,” Bravo, who was part of the West Indies side, said in praise of Russell in a chat with Trinidad-based radio station I955 FM on Friday. “It’s the same I used to say of Chris Gayle when Chris Gayle was in his prime – we are happy to have him representing us, we didn’t have to come up and bowl against him in an international match. It’s the same with Andre Russell. Andre Russell now is our Chris Gayle, is our Brian Lara, in the T20 format. He is the superstar.”

The Sri Lanka T20I series was Bravo’s second in the West Indies dressing room after he came out of retirement this January for the home T20I series against Ireland. That series was Bravo’s first international assignment after 2016, the last time he had played for West Indies.

ALSO READ: Who is the MVP across all T20 leagues over the last 12 months?

Despite being the defending T20 World Cup champions, West Indies have been inconsistent in a format where most of their players have become household names. Last November they lost 2-1 to Afghanistan the T20I series played in India. Another 2-1 defeat followed immediately in the T20I series against India. In January this year, they bounced back in the final game of the three-match T20I series against Ireland to level the series 1-1 with one game washed out. Then they started the Sri Lanka tour losing the ODI series 3-0 before winning the T20I series.

According to Bravo, the team management, led by captain Kieron Pollard and head coach Phil Simmons, had acknowledged that there was a lot of work to be done with West Indies preparing to defend their title in the T20 World Cup, scheduled for October-November in Australia this year. Bravo said the team had set itself the bigger goal of making West Indies once again the “dominant” team in world cricket.

“Prior to that [T20I series in Sri Lanka], we weren’t really consistent as a team over the years in T20 cricket,” Bravo said. “With the 3-0 loss in the ODI series, we T20 guys had a chat among ourselves along with the management and made a pledge that we want to start back winning series. We said we wanted to be back being the most dominant team in the T20 format.

“We have produced some of the best players in the world and when we are together in the same team, we have to stamp our authority, and to get the cricketing world to respect West Indies cricket again and especially West Indies’ T20 team. We said, ‘All hands on deck, let’s start with this Sri Lanka series and make sure we send the message.’ Yeah, that’s what we did.”

Bravo said the depth of talent in the West Indies T20 set-up could be gauged from the fact that he, despite being the most experienced player in the squad, had to bat at a position he had never batted at previously. “When the coach wrote the batting line-up, I was down to bat at number nine. I said to the guys, ‘This is the first time I’ve ever been in a T20 team and I’m down to bat at number nine.’

“Putting all egos aside, I’m happy with that because at the end of the day, I accept the fact guys like Rovman Powell and Fabian Allen and [Shimron] Hetmyer, the talent and the ability they have to hit the ball, I’m just happy to be like that – father-figure, mentor, guide, to allow these young boys to go out there and showcase their talent to the world. All of us are on the same page, no egos in the dressing room, one common goal to just win cricket games and dominate.”



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