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Recent Match Report – Gloucestershire vs Worcestershire, County Championship Division Two, 2nd Innings

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Gloucestershire 354 and 149 for 8 lead Worcestershire 293 (Whiteley 88, D’Oliveira 68, Higgins 3-52, Bamber 3-59, Payne 3-73) by 210 runs

Tell a friend that you have just watched a day’s cricket in which 211 runs were scored in 94 overs and he will probably sympathise with you. But if you tell him that you have done so at Cheltenham, he will suspect your day has had its compensations and he will be quite correct. There was no suggestion of tedium at the College Ground this afternoon as two sides tussled for advantage in a match which will be crucial to their promotion prospects.

When play was ended two overs early by a brief shower of rain Worcestershire’s cricketers could look back on three sessions in which they had restricted Gloucestershire’s first-innings lead to 61 and then taken eight wickets for 149 runs on a day when the home side’s batting had been rather profligate. But it is Gloucestershire who have the 210-run lead and it is their opponents who have found batting something of a trial recently. No one at the College Ground thought of clapping slowly. And yes, there were those other compensations, features which many think extraneous to the matter in hand but which cricket lovers recognise as inseparable from their summer.

Even before play started the blue hills were thickly gauzed in heat. The trees barely moved all day but the counties’ flags fluttered gently in a soft remnant of breeze. The temperature rose and a Range Rover’s alarm went off repeatedly, suggesting it might be thermostat-controlled. Spectators on the back rows of stands hoisted gaily coloured umbrellas to protect themselves. The marquees were crammed with corporate customers and two were made available to the public seeking shade during lunch.

For Worcestershire’s tailenders, though, there was no respite from the sun and nor did they desire one. The visitors had seemed likely to concede a deficit of around a hundred when they lost three wickets in the first eight overs of the day but Joe Leach and Adam Finch then batted in some comfort for the next 94 minutes, reducing Gloucestershire’s lead to 61 runs, which worried home supporters, and even delaying lunch, which alarmed them even nearly as much. Finch was hit on the helmet and body by David Payne but was unbeaten on a modest 8 when Leach played on to Ryan Higgins for 38. And it felt as though the Worcestershire skipper’s innings had put a marker down.

Such a feeling was well-founded. The early afternoon’s cricket brought Gloucestershire no relief. Leach nipped the third ball of the innings away from Chris Dent and had the home skipper caught behind for nought. Worse followed in the tenth over when Wayne Parnell knocked out Roderick’s off stump with a ball that kept so low that had it been bowled in T20, the disappointed batsman may have walked off the College Ground with “Subterranean Homesick Blues” playing over the loudspeakers.

Gloucestershire’s decline continued. Miles Hammond remained rooted to the crease when leg before to Ed Barnard and another near grubber from Parnell cleaned up James Bracey. At that point the home side had a lead of just 108.

It was mid-afternoon. The wicketkeeper, Ben Cox, and his slips, Riki Wessels and Daryl Mitchell, all sported wide-brimmed sunhats in a fashion which recalled the age of I Zingari and Free Foresters. Yet this was hard-fought professional cricket in the 21st century and one became aware, yet again, by how very precious festivals like Cheltenham are. Such reveries were interrupted or perhaps enhanced by a flurry of strokes from Higgins, who drove Finch to the boundary without mercy when the freshman bowler overpitched. Indeed, Higgins scored 27 in the space of nine balls before departing for 36 when he flashed flat-footedly at Dillon Pennington and nicked a catch to Wessels at first slip.

That dismissal ended what was by far Gloucestershire’s most abundant period of the day. The following 32.4 overs saw only 46 runs scored as Tom Smith and Jack Taylor sought to ground out a defendable total. Every run was cheered by anxious home supporters who could see their chance of victory slipping away. Paolo’s ice-cream vans did plenty of business as did Camper Vin. Ed won one raffle prize and Steven won some wine. The microphone in the Circles to Success tent was in such robust order that everyone in the ground knew about it. Nobody minded.

Taylor and Smith were probably apprehensive as to when their number would be up but their wickets did not fall until the last hour of play when both had made useful twenties. Smith fenced Parnell to slip and Taylor edged a cut off Barnard to Cox. Then Benny Howell rather summed up Gloucestershire’s fortunes when he slapped a full toss from Brett D’Oliveira to mid-on. A slow day? Not at all. Days at the College Ground pass with the speed of a swift in flight over the Cotswolds.



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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs New Zealand, ICC World Test Championship, 1st Test

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Sri Lanka 249 (Dickwella 61, Mendis 53, Patel 5-89, Somerville 3-83) and 259 for 4 (Karunaratne 122, Thirimanne 64, Mathews 25*) beat New Zealand 249 (Taylor 86, Nicholls 42, Akila 5-80, Lakmal 4-29) and 285 (Watling 77, Latham 45, Embuldeniya 4-99, De Silva 3-25) by six wickets

Dimuth Karunaratne played a big part in preserving his perfect record as Test captain as Sri Lanka brought up their third consecutive win since he took over, brushing New Zealand aside with a six-wicket win on the fifth day and picking up the full 60 points in their first World Test Championship match. In the process, Karunaratne also brought up his first century in 23 innings and his ninth overall as the hosts bested the previous record chase in Galle – 99 – by some distance.

Karunaratne came out just as positively as he had in the last session of the fourth day, adopting a simple strategy of working the spinners square on either side, off both front and back foot. In scoring 122, Karunaratne hit only six fours and a six, which belied his overall approach to prioritise a brisk scoring rate. To that end, he stepped out early in the day for a delightful flick off Ajaz Patel for a boundary, and then launched the left-arm spinner over the midwicket boundary four overs later to bring up the 150 stand for the opening wicket with Lahiru Thirimanne.

Between those two shots, though, were glimpses of the occasionally turbulent theme of his innings. Karunaratne had survived a stumping chance, and at least two legitimate catching chances on the fourth day. Shortly after that flick off Patel, he got a thick outside edge on the cut – a shot that he couldn’t quite control all innings long – that snuck through for a four, and was then dropped by Tom Latham at short leg. It was Latham’s third drop of the innings in that position.

That set the tone early in the day, and with every over of nudging and manipulating the field for singles, New Zealand’s resolve was visibly diminishing. Any hope came through Sri Lanka’s misadventures.

Lahiru Thirimanne, ever under scrutiny as a Test player, batted with composure and control throughout the innings in one of Sri Lanka’s most prolific 4th innings opening stands of all time. If he showed any shakiness during the innings, it was when he swept, and that was the shot that led to his dismissal, Will Somerville getting his man on the review. The opening stand was worth 161.

In keeping with the theme of his short career, Kusal Mendis managed to fit in both exquisite strokeplay and a frustrating surrender in an innings of six balls. With a solid platform laid and the opponents on the mat, his plan seemed to be to attack relentlessly, and this resulted in two pristine shots off Somerville – down the track quickly, using the spin to lift one over midwicket and the other over the long-on boundary. But the daring was short-lived when he swept Patel to midwicket next over, offering New Zealand some optimism with 94 runs to still get.

But the arrival of Angelo Mathews brought the calm it always has, and the veteran settled immediately into the role Thirimanne played for Karunaratne. New Zealand were switching bowlers fast, with Kane Williamson even trying himself for the first time in the Test, but the 44-run stand between the senior-most batsmen all but put Sri Lanka on the brink.

Karunaratne did eventually nick behind trying to chop outside the off stump, off a rare Tim Southee over. But coming in next was Kusal Perera, the burgeoning architect of Sri Lanka’s miracle chase against South Africa earlier this year. He had no issues slashing deliveries off that line – or dragging them into the leg side – and came out with what solely looked like the intention to finish the chase before lunch.

With his boundaries, he forced a four-over extension with 22 runs to get, but fell shortly after for 19-ball 23. Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva didn’t manage to get the runs in that period, but with only six runs to get, the umpires deemed it fit to give Sri Lanka another extension and the chase was sealed with a flick to fine, seven balls later.



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Being consistent over long periods a challenge I enjoy, says Rahkeem Cornwall

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Since the start of the Professional Cricket League Regional 4 Day Tournament, West Indies’ first-class competition that was revamped in 2014, Rahkeem Cornwall has been one of the tournament’s most consistent wicket-takers. The Leeward Islands offspinner is fourth on the list of the leading wicket-takers since the 2014-15 season, having taken 197 wickets over the years. On three occasions, he has been among the top three bowlers in an edition, including in 2018-19, when he finished as the leading wicket-taker with 54 wickets in nine matches with an average of 17.68.

This consistency is one of the reasons Cornwall believes he is well-suited to the Test format, especially with the possibility of a debut during the upcoming fixtures against India, the first of which starts on August 22 as part of the World Test Championship.

“I believe the Test format suits my game because of the consistency a player needs over a long period of time to be successful, and I’ve enjoyed that challenge so far in my career playing first-class cricket,” Cornwall told the Cricket West Indies website. “The feeling [on getting called up] is great – it’s something I’ve been pushing to achieve for a long time.”

His tally of 54 wickets in the first-class tournament followed a haul of 23 wickets in List A and first-class games against England Lions earlier in 2018, and in the recent series against the touring India A, Cornwall took nine wickets in six matches. Playing against two quality oppositions was good preparation for Cornwall, who said that his on-field results were signs of the progress he had made.

“The A-team preparation has been very good,” he said. “England Lions and India A were two quality opposition teams featuring guys that played Test cricket. Overall it has been very challenging and it was a good place to test skills that I’ve been trying to perfect every year in our domestic competition.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of work over the last couple of months. I’ve always pushed myself. I feel I can go on and I think the on field results I’ve achieved have shown the progress I’m making.”

Cornwall’s cricketing hero is former South Africa allrounder Jacques Kallis and one of his earliest inspirations to play for West Indies came from watching Brian Lara’s 400 not out against England in Antigua in 2004.

“My cricket hero is definitely Jacques Kallis,” he said. “The way he carried himself as an allrounder on and off the field, I’ve tried to visualise and work to match certain things I saw Kallis to do my game.

“The Test match I remember most watching was Brian Lara’s 400 in Antigua 2004. It was early inspiration for sure to become a professional cricketer and to play for the West Indies.”



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Recent Match Report – West Indies A vs Indians Tour Match 2019

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Indians 298 for 5 (Pujara 100 retired, Rohit 68, Carter 3-39) v West Indies A

The nearly eight-month long break between India’s previous Test in Sydney and now seemed to matter little to Cheteshwar Pujara as he struck a hundred for India in the tour match against West Indies A, ahead of their first World Test Championship clash.

Pujara retired after completing his century which came off 187 balls and included eight fours and a six. India finished the day on 298 for 5 with Rohit Sharma finding red-ball form. He contributed 68 in a 132-run fourth-wicket stand with Pujara, before falling to the offspin of Akim Frazer.

The pair steered the Indians out of choppy waters after the visitors had been reduced to 53 for 3. Captain Ajinkya Rahane and opener Mayank Agarwal endured failures, falling to the medium pace of Jonathan Carter for scores of 1 and 12 respectively. Carter was the pick of the West Indies A bowlers, as he also accounted for the wicket of Rishabh Pant, who scored a 53-ball 33.

KL Rahul, meanwhile, squandered a start, falling for a quickfire 46-ball 36, which included five fours and a six. At stumps, Hanuma Vihari was unbeaten on a patient 101-ball 37, in the company of Ravindra Jadeja.



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