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Recent Match Report – England vs Australia, ICC World Test Championship, 2nd Test

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Jofra Archer will have to wait a day to make his highly anticipated Test debut after heavy rain forced play to be abandoned without a ball being bowled in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.

Archer received his England cap from close friend Chris Jordan during a brief break in the otherwise appalling weather with the toss imminent, only for the covers to come back on and the showers to set in for good.

The umpires made the call to abandon play around 4.20pm local time and the match will officially become a four-day fixture with the toss taking place on Thursday and overs added to the end of each day. The follow-on margin, if required, will be reduced to 150 accordingly.

Archer shared a warm embrace with Sussex team-mate Jordan, also born in Barbados, after the cap presentation on the Lord’s field. Jordan, who played eight Tests for England in 2014 and 2015, has shared in Archer’s rapid rise through international ranks since he became eligible to represent England earlier this year, with the pair playing a T20I together against Pakistan in May, which remains Archer’s only T20I appearance. That was two days after Archer made his international debut in an ODI against Ireland.

With a vastly improved forecast for Thursday, play looks likely with Josh Hazlewood set to line up for Australia at the expense of Mitchell Starc after both were included in a 12-man squad while James Pattinson rests for this Test.

England still have a selection call to make on whether they risk not playing spinner Jack Leach, given the shortened match, and pick Sam Curran instead. Should they opt for Leach, there is a possibility Curran could still play ahead of Joe Denly.



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Zouks, Knight Riders share points after washout | Cricket

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Colin Ingram punches through the off side © Getty Images


No result St Lucia Zouks 99 for 4 (Ingram 52*, Pierre 1-18) v Trinbago Knight Riders

St Lucia Zouks picked up their first points in three games after persistent rain washed out their match against Trinbago Knight Riders. The venue had copped heavy rain before the match, and, although the game started on time and in good conditions, one spell of rain 12.2 overs into the Zouks innings put a stop to proceedings. Zouks now have three points in six games, and continue to be fifth on the table with four games to go. Immediately above them are Barbados Tridents with four points in four matches.

Knight Riders had put Zouks in and dismissed both their openers inside the Powerplay. Andre Fletcher had a leg-side delivery stop on him as he flicked aerially to deep square leg. John Campbell, who came into the XI and replaced Rahkeem Cornwall in the opening slot, looked patchy until he drove uppishly against Jimmy Neesham, who plucked a one-handed reaction catch to his right in his follow-through.

The experience of Colin Ingram and Colin de Grandhomme brought stability – and flair – to the innings, with both batsmen getting themselves in during a 51-run stand. Ingram, in particular, was impressive, gauging the pace of the pitch early in his innings and barely offering a chance as he got to 52 off 34. He was unbeaten when Cornwall top-edged to short third man a minute before the covers came on.

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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Recent Match Report – Worcestershire vs Essex, Twenty20 Cup (England), Final

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Essex 148 for 6 (Westley 36, Bopara 36*) beat Worcestershire 145 for 9 (Harmer 3-16) by four wickets

Eight hours earlier, Wayne Parnell had successfully defended Notts’ requirement of a single off the final ball to take Worcestershire into the final of the Vitality Blast. Now, at the end of English cricket’s longest day, with Edgbaston once again a sea of delirium, he had to do it again. This time Simon Harmer beat the off-side field and Essex had seen off the defending champions to win the tournament for the first time.

It was fitting that Harmer had the last word. In Essex’s semi-final stroll against Derbyshire and this narrowest of victories, he returned the combined figures of 7 for 35, the best ever recorded on T20 Finals Day. He was perfectly served by a surface that turned throughout the day and perhaps, just perhaps, gave Essex a little added zip with a hint of dew in the closing overs.

“It’s a lottery,” decry the critics of Twenty20. Don’t tell that to Worcestershire. In successive seasons, their nerveless, intelligent cricket under the brilliant stewardship of Moeen Ali (is there a better captain in the country?) had made them the most resilient side in the land. They had defended 147 against Notts; now it was 145. But this time they had to reckon with Ravi Bopara.

For much of the climax to this riveting final, fought out on a difficult turning surface, it had felt like Bopara versus Worcestershire, and for his most zealous admirers (and there are many) Bopara versus The World. County cricket’s most reluctant finisher, who has gently carped all summer long about batting at No 6, fashioned a super-cool 36 from 22 balls to hold together an Essex chase that, when they lost their fifth wicket at 82, needing 64 from 41, was so patently down to him.

This was Essex’s fifth Finals Day appearance and the first time they had won a semi-final. “It’s the one trophy I don’t have in my cabinet and we finally have it,” Bopara said. He has been trying since a T20 debut, batting at No 9, against Surrey at East Molesey in 2003. His international career ended in 2015 just as England adopted a new approach to limited-overs cricket and that his reputation was tarnished by association with their previous failings is unfortunate.

Bopara’s six over long off from Moeen’s penultimate ball was a key moment, leaving Essex 39 short with four overs left. He then clattered Pat Brown’s slower ball over midwicket as that rate fell to 23 from two.

When Brown bowled Paul Walter, Essex were still 17 short with eight balls left. Harmer drove Brown down the ground to cut the last-over requirement to 12 – but 11 for the tie, and victory by virtue of losing fewer wickets, was likely to be enough. Harmer drilled Parnell down the ground to reduce the trophy-winning requirement to one off the final ball. Parnell looked distraught and close to exhaustion. Moeen offered calming words. Harmer whistled the final shot to the cover boundary.

Essex’s Powerplay had yielded only 36 for the loss of Cameron Delport, who was strangely subdued in making a single off seven balls in an innings that came to grief when he clipped Parnell to backward square. Adam Wheater, a No 5 all season, came in at three, and no doubt to orders provided a decorous run-a-ball 15 until he was bowled attempting a reverse lap at Daryl Mitchell. Essex appeared composed enough at 63 for 2 at midway, with 83 needed from the second half of the innings, but Moeen had retained nine overs from himself, Parnell and Brown for the second half of the innings.

The strength of Worcestershire’s batting line-up, one that seems full of bit parts from as high as No 4, is that it finds a way. And, in making 145 for 8, it appeared to have found a way again. But Worcestershire could not subdue Harmer. He followed his 4 for 19 against Derbyshire in the semi-final with 3 for 16, a comparable return despite the sense that Worcestershire were playing him with rather more nous.

Moeen and Riki Wessels provided the substance with a second-wicket stand of 56 in 48 balls. Moeen’s presence was enough to persuade Harmer not to bowl in the Powerplay, as he had in the semi-final, Sam Cook’s pace was as unthreatening as that of Jamie Porter, who had been preferred to him in the semi.

Harmer intervened with wickets in successive balls at the start of his second over. Moeen’s first boundary had been an uppish slice against Lawrence through backward point, but he smoothed his way to 32 in 26 balls with another exercise in cricketing meditation.

But Harmer’s turn defeated his work to leg whereupon the bowler, one of the best slippers in the country, plunged forward to hold an excellent low catch. Ben Cox, who had guided Worcestershire to the trophy a year ago, was lbw next ball as he tried to sweep, but even the president of the Respect for Umpires Association would have deemed this a terrible decision, because Cox was well outside the line and got a big inside-edge on the ball too.

Parnell fell to Harmer’s penultimate ball, bowled by a faster arm-ball, and at 90 for 4 with the 14th over about to begin, Worcestershire promoted Mitchell above Whiteley. In Western terms, the peace-loving sheriff had been preferred to the local gunslinger, and Mitchell duly provided a cautious 19 from 15 balls to edge Worcestershire to a realistic total.

Wessels was a figure of realism, too, with 31 from 34 balls;. Once a square-of-the-wicket adventurer, he still has those qualities but increasingly in this Worcestershire side, a successful side at that, he finds himself pushing singles to hold the innings together. It might have been enough. Instead, he became a support act in a wonderfully entertaining day.



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Recent Match Report – Derbyshire vs Essex, Twenty20 Cup (England), 2nd Semi-Final

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Essex 160 for 5 (Delport 55, Reece 2-24) beat Derbyshire 126 (Harmer 4-19, Nijjar 3-26) by 34 runs

Simon Harmer hadn’t had a particularly rewarding Blast season. Unstoppable in the Championship, he had generally become a mere mortal over 20 overs. Then Derbyshire, in their first T20 Finals Day, had to contend with him on a turning Edgbaston pitch and the story changed as his destructive display pointed Essex towards a comprehensive victory and added another satisfying memory to an outstanding summer.

Harmer has been Essex’s Championship showstopper: his 78 wickets at 18.12 are the prime reason why they have a title showdown with Somerset at Taunton next week. As Essex’s captain in the Blast, however, he had mustered 10 wickets all season and disappeared for nine an over. He was just another player hoping that Edgbaston might look favourably upon him.

All that changed in a second semi-final in which Derbyshire succumbed meekly on a turning surface, falling 34 runs short of Essex’s challenging 160 for 5. They didn’t play spin particularly well, and a couple of their dismissals could fairly be described as naïve, but when it comes to facing Harmer they are not alone in that charge.

Harmer finished with 4 for 19, his tranquillity never threatened, and he had quite an ally, too, in Aron Nijjar, a 24-year-old left-arm spinner from Romford, who had the onerous task of replacing the modish Australian leggie Adam Zampa on Finals Day in only his second Twenty20 match, conceded 14 runs in his first four balls, but lived to tell a glorious tale as Essex won a T20 semi-final at the fifth attempt.

Harmer and Nijjar took three wickets apiece in the space of 58 balls, five of them hitting the stumps. When the sixth batsman to perish, Alex Hughes, was lured down the pitch by Nijjar and stumped, so fell Derbyshire’s top-scorer, on 23. There was another wicket for a spinner, too, when Dan Lawrence bowled Fynn Hudson-Prentice.

Harmer’s first ball jolted Derbyshire, their captain, Billy Godleman, the second batsmen to fall as he turned one sharply to hit the left-hander’s off stump. He repeated the dose in his third over against Leus du Plooy, another left-hander, another delivery that turned big. Next ball, Anuj Dal, determined to use his feet, ran at one and was bowled through the gate. His last wicket was Daryn Smit, who tried to reverse sweep him past two fielders at backward point, the most befuddled shot of all.

“I’m used to seeing the ball disappear so it’s nice to bowl on something that suits me,” Harmer said. Essex started their Blast campaign in the South Group so badly that they have essentially been playing knockout cricket for six matches, knowing that one more defeat would be fatal, and the knowledge has improved them.

Nijjar will attract less attention, but his contribution was, in a way, all the more remarkable because he had not bowled a single delivery in Essex 1st XI cricket all season. His last game of note was a 2nd XI match against Hampshire at Southampton in the first week of August. When Wayne Madsen sniffed vulnerability and struck him for 4-6-4 in his first four balls, things looked ominous; for him to then bowl Madsen round his legs, trying to sweep, was a crucial response.

Derbyshire were the last of the 18 counties to reach Finals Day and for all but the most committed follower of county cricket they could hardly have been more of an unknown quantity. Names did not as much trip off the tongue as go clean out of the mind. Obscurity, for a few hours at least, was in vogue. A side that reached the final stages by toppling Lancashire at Old Trafford were clearly capable of being better than the sum of their parts, and they will be deflated by their display.

Essex took command with an opening stand of 78 in 8.1 overs, Cameron Delport the dominant factor. His 55 from 31 balls gave him 408 runs for the tournament and the highest strike rate, at 172.15, of any of the 13 batsmen who had passed that 400-run mark. He might have fallen early, a leg-side swing against Logan van Beek falling safely when he was only 6, but his strokeplay became increasingly daunting until he deposited Hughes to long-off.

Once Delport had been silenced, Derbyshire shook themselves down and gradually got back into the match on a grippy surface that suited their medium-paced mix. Lawrence, who has grown into the T20 format this season by adopting a more aggressive approach, made little impact as he carved Hughes’ knuckle ball to third man; Ryan ten Doeschate, lbw to Luis Reece’s offcutter, also missed out.

Tom Westley, Delport’s opening partner, played the other innings of substance, 39 from 34 balls, although he, too, had fortune on his side, on 13, when van Beek failed to throw him out from mid-on. Westley’s departure to Reece at deep backward square leg preceded a problematic finish for Essex as they failed to find the boundary for 37 deliveries, from Ravi Bopara’s third-man dab off Reece to Adam Wheater’s square drive four balls from the end when Ravi Rampaul narrowly missed his yorker.

Bopara has crabbed all season about batting as a finisher at No. 6, and who found himself up at five for Finals Day. His scoring rate in the closing overs has been spectacular, justifying his place in the order, but it was a more restrained Bopara (28 from 23 balls when a ramp shot went awry) who guided then to 160 for 5. It was easily enough.



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