South Africa allrounder Chris Morris will join Hampshire for this year’s Vitality Blast.
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.
Melbourne Renegades chief to report to Melbourne Stars’ chief
A restructure of Cricket Victoria’s (CV) Big Bash League teams for next season will see the Melbourne Renegades’ general manager reporting to the equivalent figure for the Melbourne Stars. This is a consequence of the clubs having to deal with major downsizing at the state association that has cost 60 jobs.
Both the Stars and Renegades have seen enormous upheaval since featuring in the BBL final in 2018 at Docklands in Melbourne. Both clubs had their boards dissolved and chief executives – Clint Cooper and Stuart Coventry respectively – moved on ahead of the previous season.
In their place, Nick Cummins, the former Cricket Tasmania chief executive, was initially assigned to a BBL head of commercial role that oversaw both clubs. Despite Cummins’ best efforts, it was an inherent conflict that is understood to have caused more than a few furrowed brows over the course of a season in which the Stars reached the BBL grand final once again but the Renegades’ men’s and women’s team results dropped off alarmingly.
Now, the clubs have been restructured once again in line with a raft of staffing cuts at CV, this time placing Cummins in charge of the Stars and the state association’s head of commercial, David Lever, in nominal command of the Renegades.
However, Lever will still report to Cummins, who retains overall control of BBL commercial activities. Commercial returns are another area of considerable concern for CV, as the departures of Cooper and Coventry in particular hastened the exits of the Stars’ major sponsor Optus, hot on the heels of the Renegades’ major sponsor Mars.
The Stars remain coached by David Hussey and the Renegades by Michael Klinger, but there has been a significant reshuffle too in the coaching ranks, as the Stars farewelled their women’s team coach Tim Coyle and the Renegades their women’s coach David Hemp, who had also been the head coach of the Victoria women’s team.
Lachlan Stevens has subsequently moved from a role as Victoria’s men’s assistant coach to head coach of both the Renegades women and the Victorian women’s state side, while Trent Woodhill, who has acted in numerous roles at the Stars, will now combine his post as the club’s list manager with coaching the women’s team.
“It’s a great opportunity and one I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to. I’ve been involved with the Stars for many years now and know the environment and the ethos well,” Woodhill said. “We’re backing ourselves to bounce back from some of the results in recent WBBL seasons. The competition is only getting stronger and we need to be stronger too. I’d certainly like to see a maiden finals appearance this season and win the title but there is plenty of work to do first.”
Andrew Lynch remains list manager of the Renegades and CV head of selectors. Lynch and Woodhill also report into the CV general cricket manager Shaun Graf. “Trent is well known to everyone at the Stars and in the Big Bash more broadly. I’m pleased he’s accepted this opportunity to move into a Head Coach position with the WBBL squad,” Graf said.
“Trent brings a deep understanding of the game and has demonstrated an ability to think differently and outside the box in the way we prepare elite teams to deliver on the field. I know Trent will be working hard with the current squad and any future new signings to deliver a highly competitive squad ahead of this season.”
Rachel Priest loses New Zealand central contract
Priest, 34, won back her national contract last year after impressing for Western Storm in the Kia Super League and Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash, having been dropped by former head coach Haidee Tiffin after the 2017 World Cup in England, who cited fitness issues for her omission.
But after a return of 60 runs in four T20 World Cup innings and no half-centuries since her recall, she has not been offered a contract for the 2020-21 season.
Priest’s fellow keeper-batter Bernadine Bezuidenhout has also made way, after being left out of the T20 World Cup squad, with Dodd – who debuted in 2010 and last played international cricket in 2018 – winning her first full deal following a year on a development contract.
Kerr, whose younger sister Amelia has been a New Zealand regular for nearly four years, has also been offered a national contract for the first time on the back of her tournament-record 20 wickets in last season’s Super Smash, which helped Wellington Blaze to the title. She was part of the squad for the T20 World Cup, playing in New Zealand’s opening game against Sri Lanka.
Bob Carter, New Zealand’s head coach, said that Kerr and Dodd’s contracts were “an acknowledgement of hard work and perseverance”.
“I’m happy the majority of our group can remain stable as we look for continual improvement and application from our players,” Carter said. “We have an experienced core of White Ferns and want to ensure our younger, less experienced players have the chance to learn from them over the next 12 months.”
New Zealand contract list, 2020-21: Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine, Natalie Dodd, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Hannah Rowe, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu.
South Africa cricketers could resume training next week after government nod
Subject to government approval, South Africa’s national and franchise cricketers could be back in training from next week, and may be involved in an exhibition event at the end of the month. The country moved to Level 3 of the five-stage lockdown today, which allows non-contact professional sports training and matches to take place, after consultation and approval from the sports ministry.
That means national sporting bodies are required to present the ministry with their return-to-train and return-to-play protocols which should include details around social distancing. Cricket South Africa (CSA) hope to submit their plans this week, with a view to resuming training next week.
In its first stage, the return-to-training plan will see franchise cricketers training at their home grounds, in accordance with set guidelines. That includes a prohibition on the use of saliva on the ball as well as regulations around the use of changing rooms – which will not be allowed – and the number of players and support staff who will train at the same time.
At a later stage, CSA will look into whether it is possible to obtain permits to allow for players to travel across provincial borders for camps and eventually matches. Currently, South Africans cannot move between provinces for any reason other than a funeral or the transportation of children between parents or to schools and even those trips require a permit. Inter-provincial travel will be allowed at Level 2 of the lockdown, but there is no indication of when that will be.
However, CSA still hope to be able to put on some live action at the end of June. An insider told ESPNcricinfo that the plan is to put on “something which we have not seen before,” which rules out a T20 festival or any other kind of franchise competition. CSA intend to reveal more in the next few weeks.
South Africa are not in a rush to return to training or playing as they enter the winter period. Their next assignment is a two-Test and five-match T20 series in West Indies in July-August, which is set to be postponed with West Indies due to be in England until the end of July. CSA and Cricket West Indies remain in talks about when to schedule the series and are considering all options, including playing it in South Africa later in the year.
South Africa are also due to host India for three T20s at the end of August and are looking at creating a bio-secure bubble for the series, which will take place behind closed doors. That series is particularly important for CSA finances, as it will help bolster their bank balance, amid forecasted losses of R645 million (approx. US $36.9 million) over the next four years. With South Africa’s Covid-19 cases expected to peak around July, it is possible the India series will have to take place later in the summer but CSA are confident it can happen before the end of the financial year in February 2021.
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