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Moeen Ali set for ‘short break’ from cricket after Lord’s omission

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Moeen Ali will take a short break from cricket after his omission from the England squad for the second Ashes Test at Lord’s this week.

Moeen struggled badly in the first Test of the series, taking 2 for 130 in Australia’s second innings on a turning pitch and twice being dismissed cheaply by Nathan Lyon, who has now dismissed him in nine of his last 11 innings against Australia.

He was left out of the squad for Lord’s in favour of Jack Leach, the Somerset left-arm spinner, and was expected to return to Worcestershire’s squads for the Vitality Blast.

ALSO READ: The triumphs and travails of Moeen Ali’s Test career

Instead, Worcestershire announced that he would be stepping away from cricket for a “short break” after a “hectic and high-intensity period of international cricket” before linking up with the county again.

Despite Moeen’s brief break, England’s captain Joe Root said that he remained integral to England’s long-term success, and backed him to bounce back after a spell in county cricket, just as he did against India last summer, when he returned to the side for the fourth Test at Southampton with a Player-of-the-Match-winning nine-wicket haul.

“I spent a good while chatting to Mo, making sure he understood where he’s at, and where we’re at in terms of getting him back to his best,” said Root. “We felt it was best for him to play some county cricket, and perform well for Worcestershire.

“Now, as he proved last summer, coming into that India series having a massive influence on it, there’s no reason why he can’t go back and do the same again, and try and force his way back into the squad.

“You know, he’s been a big part of English cricket and he’s done some fantastic things in a Test shirt. And it’s certainly not the last we’ll see of him, he’s a fine character, a great man and gives so much to this team. I’m sure that it won’t be long until you see him back involved.”

Worcestershire coach Alex Gidman said: “Mo is spending a little time away from the middle recharging his batteries and putting in some quality practice time which he feels he needs, and we completely respect. He has had an intense schedule of international cricket involving the ICC World Cup and the start of the Ashes.

“Mo loves playing for Worcestershire and he gives a lift to everyone in the dressing room when he comes back and plays for us. We saw at Trent Bridge [in the Blast] what he gives to us and we look forward to when he returns soon.”

The announcement, in addition to Adil Rashid’s season-ending shoulder injury, suggests that Leach is likely to be England’s spinner for much of the ongoing series – though it is possible Moeen could return for Sunday’s Championship match against Northamptonshire.

Leach told the BBC this week that he had been in conversation with Moeen after the squad announcement.

“Mo sent me a text wishing me all the best,” Leach said. “He said he hopes that I do really well. He’s been so supportive of me coming into this environment and helping me with my bowling. I actually told him to be ready for the third Test, so we had a little laugh.”



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India beat England to win inaugural Physical Disability World Series

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India defeated a spirited England by 36 runs to lift the inaugural Physical Disability World Series trophy at New Road.

India’s 180 for 7, bolstered by some mesmerising hitting at the back end of the innings, ultimately proved too steep for Iain Nairn’s side, who finished on 144 for 9.

England booked their place in the final after beating Afghanistan by 10 runs in a tense morning semi-final and were well placed at 90 for 1 in the 11th over of the final.

But when Angus Brown, just 17 last month and one of the tournament’s standout performers, was caught in the covers for 44 off Goyat, the pendulum swung India’s way.

The 13th over proved decisive. Callum Flynn, such a lynchpin for England with bat, ball and in the field, was dismissed for 28 off the first delivery of Goyat’s over, leaving the hosts 97 for 3. Two balls later, Liam O’Brien was run out without facing a ball after chancing a single through a misfield to the keeper.

When Liam Thomas and skipper Nairn followed cheaply in the 14th over, England were 105 for 6 with five wickets having fallen in 22 deliveries.

It was the decisive stage of the final after India’s innings had also been a tale of two halves.

England had bowled well to restrict India to 85 for 2 after 13 overs, making a dream start when Ben Tyler had Khan caught behind with the second ball of the innings.

A patient 47-run second-wicket partnership between Phanase (36) and skipper Keni (29) kept India ticking over.

After Keni was caught and bowled by left-arm spinner Fred Bridges, Ravindra Sante (53 from 35) and Phanase took India to 113 before the latter was run out off the final ball of the 15th over.

That brought Suganesh Mahendran to the crease and a seismic shift to the proceedings, whose remarkable 11-ball 33 included four sixes, including one monstrous hit into the top of the New Road stand.

India had more than doubled their total, with 95 coming off the last seven overs.

The result was a target that was always going to require something special against a team that had arrived fresh – and had the advantage of winning the toss, against a team tiring after a stirring 10-wicket victory in the morning over big-hitting Afghanistan. Liam O’Brien’s 34-ball 53 and 45 from Jamie Goodwin helped England post 147 for 7.

In reply, a tight spell from Fred Bridges, whose four overs yielded just 12 and two wickets, applied the squeeze, with regular wickets leaving them with an unlikely 20 required from the final over, from which just 10 came.

As the dust settled on India’s victory, skipper Nairn was philosophical in defeat.

“We’ve given it everything we had,” he said. “We’re a young team, with two teenagers in our 11, and three in the squad. India are adults, they are playing televised cricket over there, some of them – so to come into an environment like this is more normal.

“For our kids, we’re playing club cricket – some of them are playing on village greens on a Saturday. We have some very special human beings in this team.”

Goodwin added: “I don’t think you can fault the cricket that we’ve played all week. We’ve been brilliant in the field – as good as we have ever been. We probably lacked a little bit with the bat, but you can’t fault the effort that everyone has put in.

“We’re a close group of lads and that will get us through the disappointment. We’ve been beaten by a better team on the day – they’ve played five, won five.

“It was an example of power hitting at its best, a great example of what this game can offer. It can only have helped.”



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Recent Match Report – Derbyshire vs Worcestershire, Twenty20 Cup (England), North Group

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Derbyshire 181 for 2 (Godleman 92, Reece 51) beat Worcestershire 161 for 7 (Guptill 45, Critchley 4 for 36)

Worcestershire missed the chance to close the gap on Vitality Blast North Group leaders Lancashire when they lost by 20 runs away at Derbyshire Falcons, who moved into the top four.

Billy Godleman made 92 from 65 balls, his highest T20 score, and Luis Reece 51 as the Falcons posted an imposing 181 for 2.

Former Derbyshire batsman Martin Guptill hit 45 from 40 balls but legspinner Matt Critchley celebrated his 23rd birthday by taking 4 for 36 as the Rapids subsided to 161 for 7.

It looked promising for the visitors when Dillon Pennington opened with a maiden but that was the calm before the storm as Godleman reeled off a salvo of boundaries in the next two overs.

Wayne Parnell‘s first ball was launched over the long off boundary and Pennington was driven for three consecutive fours before Reece dispatched Parnell several rows back into the stand at the City End.

The Falcons took 57 from the powerplay and the runs continued to flow as the openers rotated the strike with the Rapids rarely threatening to take a wicket.

Godleman reached 50 from 29 balls and after his side had reached the halfway point on 87 without loss, the pair scored freely without taking any undue risks.

Reece pulled Joe Leach for his sixth four to bring up his 50 from 38 balls and the Rapids had to wait until the 16th over for the breakthrough which came when Reece drilled Daryl Mitchell to cover.

They had slowed the scoring rate, though Goldeman passed his previous highest T20 score of 77 by lifting Ed Barnard over wide mid-wicket for his ninth four.

Wayne Madsen drove Parnell for six but after Godleman failed to clear the man on the deep cover boundary, Leus du Plooy hit the last two balls from Pat Brown for four.

Although the Falcons looked on course for 200, the Rapids faced a tough chase which became harder when the dangerous Riki Wessels failed to respond to Guptill’s call and was run out in the second over.

Callum Ferguson cut and drove Fynn Hudson-Prentice for consecutive fours but at 47 for 1 at the end of the powerplay, the Rapids had to live up to their name if they were going to get close.

Ferguson powered Boyd Rankin high over midwicket for six and pulled the next ball for four before Guptill drove Reece for six over long-on to leave the Rapids needing 100 from the last 10.

But the introduction of Critchley proved decisive as Ferguson drove him to long-on, Guptill was bowled trying to cut, and Parnell, after driving him for six, failed to clear long-off when he tried to repeat the shot.

Ben Cox and Barnard both drove him for big sixes but the night belonged to Critchley and the Falcons, as Worcestershire came up well short.

The result means that Derbyshire jump from eighth to fourth in the group, and with just three points separating second-placed Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire in eighth, things could hardly be closer.



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Recent Match Report – Gloucestershire vs Hampshire, Twenty20 Cup (England), South Group

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Gloucestershire 144 for 3 (Bracey 64) beat Hampshire 139 for 6 by seven wickets

Gloucestershire overcame Hampshire on a slow, sluggish Bristol wicket to go fourth in the Vitality Blast South Group, thanks to a canny bowling performance and an impressive 64 from James Bracey.

With Rilee Rossouw (ill), Brad Taylor and Mason Crane (both side strains) missing, Hampshire looked light on batting at the toss, and so it proved. After Aneurin Donald‘s eyecatching innings had taken them to 54 for 1 after the powerplay, their innings fell away horribly as Tom Smith found purchase on a turgid pitch, and their seamers used their usual variety of slower balls and cutters.

A target of 140 was never likely to be easy to defend, and after a cautious first four overs of the chase, the fifth broke the back of the chase and meant Gloucestershire could stay in third gear for the remainder.

The beneficiary of those absentees was Ryan Stevenson, the redhead seamer who came in for his first game of the Blast season, but he must have wished he had spent the night in the dugout as usual.

His first ball would have seen Michael Klinger caught behind but for an umpiring error, and things quickly got worse. Klinger chipped a six over midwicket, then got off strike with a three; Stevenson threw in two wides, was smashed for four twice by Bracey, including once off a no-ball, and then had him out caught off the free hit. One last boundary followed, meaning 25 had come off it, and the asking rate shot down to below six.

From that point, Hampshire were toast, as Bracey and Klinger knocked the ball around easily with little pressure on them to score. This was Klinger’s highest T20 score in just under a year – the situation could hardly have suited him better.

This pitch had seen Gloucestershire only squeeze past Kent’s 125 for 8 last week, and from the moment David Payne started to bowl his cutters in the game’s third over, it seemed clear that this pitch would suit their attack.

The conditions could only have been more perfect if they had been able to call upon the services of Benny Howell, who will miss the rest of the season after injuring his hamstring diving in the field against Surrey last week.

As cover, Gloucestershire brought in Zak Chappell on loan from Nottinghamshire, the young fast bowler with a big future and an even bigger reported salary. He struck early to dismiss James Vince – who he gave a roaring send-off – but proved the most expensive bowler on show; perhaps he was overzealous in his efforts to impress after an underwhelming debut season at Trent Bridge.

Hampshire’s selection – while hampered by injury – looked particularly strange when Chris Morris strode out to bat at number five. It was just the 14th time that Morris had batted in the top five in a T20, despite his 180 matches, and he struggled badly to eke out an unbeaten 18 off 24 balls. That they left out Tom Alsop, while having seven bowling options, seemed curious.

This was the sort of surface on which Gloucestershire tend to thrive, and it was apparent that Andrew Tye‘s influence in his several stints as an overseas player has extended beyond just his wickets. Chris Liddle spoke at the interval about the work the club’s seamers do with one another to develop more slower balls and variations, and he, Tye, and Payne went for just 78 from their 12 overs; Ryan Higgins, so impressive in the win at Surrey, never even made it into the attack.

At the interval, it had looked clear that Liam Dawson would be the key man if Hampshire were to come close, but by the time he came on the asking rate had already fallen to 5.46. He was characteristically frugal, but the game was effectively up by the time he had the opportunity to influence it.

Bracey, who has quietly impressed for the best part of three seasons in the Championship, has only recently nailed down a spot in Gloucestershire’s T20 side, but shone with a mature innings in the chase. He was particularly impressive combating the fiery Morris, nailing an early cover drive and pulling him for four in his second spell. He was a recent call-up for the England Lions, and at 22 looks like an old-school batsman with serious promise.

“I’m really pleased with how we’ve come back from a defeat,” he told Sky. “We just wanted to take the initiative with the new ball, which slid onto the bat nicely. It came off for us and made it easier for us at the back end. I’ve started to find my feet in the last few games, so it’s good to play a match-winning knock.”

Gloucestershire’s campaign thus far has been a stop-start affair, with two no-results and a tie in their first four games keeping them in the bunch of teams competing for the quarter-finals. But with three wins in their last four – and a trip to fourth-placed Somerset on Friday night looming – they are now set to be part of the South Group’s qualification narrative.



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