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Cricket Australia rain rule tied umpires’ hands for Sydney T20I

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Playing conditions for the BBL and future T20Is in Australia are under review following the SCG rain farce that cost the hosts the No. 1 ranking in the format against Pakistan.

Australia – who won the series 2-0 – were denied a victory in Sydney and therefore a tilt at the top spot as a result of a modified Cricket Australia playing condition that overruled the ICC match referee’s usual discretion to reduce the innings break to make up time.

While it was widely reported that the match referee Javagal Srinath simply decided not to exercise his own judgment to reduce the break from 20 minutes to 10 minutes, CA had in fact introduced a modification to standard playing conditions that dictated that the length of the interval could not be shortened unless rain delays were so severe as to mean the first innings of a minimum five overs could only be completed if the break was reduced.

CA has indicated it will review the playing condition and also look at those for the forthcoming BBL, where the standard innings interval time is 15 minutes.

“The interval between innings will be of 20 minutes duration, and shall not be shortened even if the innings of the team batting first concludes after the scheduled cessation time for the 1st innings,” the revised T20I playing condition states. “The interval can only be reduced in the event of lengthy delays or interruptions, if reducing it will allow the minimum number of overs to constitute a match to be played. The minimum interval shall be 10 minutes.”

There was no allowance for further delays later in the match, preventing Srinath from reducing the length of the interval. Only 3.1 overs were possible in Australia’s chase as a result, fewer than the minimum five overs required, so that even though the hosts were 0 for 41 and powering towards their target, the game was abandoned. An extra 10 minutes would have been sufficient time to complete the minimum overs.

This outcome resulted in a wave of criticism directed at Srinath and the officiating umpires, with the Fox Cricket commentator Mark Waugh labelling the apparent inflexibility as “stupid”. “Well that [a 20-minute break] would be absolutely ridiculous. We’ve been sitting around for an hour doing nothing, so it should just be 10 minutes,” Waugh said on the broadcast. “Then you’ve got 10 minutes where you can bowl another over each potentially. Unusual is not the right word. Stupid is the right word. I know there’s rules and regulations but you need some flexibility.”

Playing conditions are devised in consultation between CA, commercial partners, the host broadcaster and the touring team. Adjustments to the ICC playing conditions are permitted for bilateral matches as the home board’s requirements ultimately supersede the authority of the independent match officials.

Australia’s captain Finch and his deputy Alex Carey both appeared to be under the impression that the interval could have been reduced. “If you’re cutting overs off the game and you still have a 20-minute break, it doesn’t make much sense to me,” Finch said in his post-match TV interview. “When you lose a few overs and then you still have a 20-minute break… I thought that was really interesting. But it’s part of the rules and you can’t do much about it.”

Carey added: “We asked the question, what the changeover would have been, and it remains the same so we were aware of that and can’t change it…the spectators would have liked a result, but we understand it. Good or bad, it’s part of it.”

The ICC’s playing conditions, which allow far more latitude, will hold sway during next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia. “Following a lengthy delay or interruption prior to the completion of the innings of the team batting first, the Match Referee may, at his discretion, reduce the interval between innings from 20 minutes to not less than 10 minutes,” the ICC playing conditions read.

“Such discretion should only be exercised after determining the adjusted overs per side based on a 20-minute interval. If having exercised this discretion, the rescheduled finishing time for the match is earlier than the latest possible finishing time, then these minutes should be deducted from the length of any interruption during the second innings before determining the overs remaining.”

Before the tournament begins, the ICC’s cricket committee will also discuss various parameters around rain interruptions, including the lengths of intervals and also cut off times. The SCG is equipped with floodlights, but the match was abandoned during daylight hours having been deemed a day fixture.



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Peter Siddle switches to Tasmania after 15 years with Victoria

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Fast bowler Peter Siddle has switched to Tasmania with a two-year contract after 15 years of playing for his home team Victoria. Siddle said a future career in coaching and a chance to mentor the young crop of Tasmania’s fast bowlers were the reasons behind his move.

The 35-year old, who had retired from international cricket last year after playing 67 Tests in 11 years, started his Victoria career at underage level and debuted for the senior side in 2005. He went on to play 62 first-class matches and 35 one-day games for them, where he picked 234 and 43 wickets respectively. He was also part of their two successful Sheffield Shield campaigns and a one-day title. He finished with 32 wickets at 19.87 in eight matches in the 2019-20 Shield season.

“My greatest goal is to come to Tasmania and play good cricket, while hopefully winning a few games which will be my biggest aim,” Siddle said. “There’s a few players down here that I’ve played a lot of cricket with, and there’s a bunch of younger players that I’m looking forward to playing alongside.

“It’s a great opportunity for me while I’m still playing to work alongside Griff (Adam Griffith, Tasmania’s mentor). I want to develop my coaching skills further and really help some of the younger boys who have already shown a great amount of talent. I see this as an exciting venture for me, and it’s something that I am really looking forward to.”

Siddle said he was planning for the future as he knew his playing days would be over in the near future. “When you’re an older player, it’s always nerve-wracking not knowing whether you’re going to get another deal with your home state or any state,” Siddle told cricket.com.au. “To have four states interested in signing me … it’s always nice to feel loved, especially at the back end of my career.

“But it was about making the right decision to help develop me not just as a player at the back end of my career but also looking ahead to the future and what I might move into once my playing days are done.”

Meanwhile, James Faulkner, who last played first-class cricket for Tasmania in 2017, has been left out of the state’s contract list. He debuted for the side in 2008 and last played for them in the domestic one-day cup last year where he finished with seven wickets in as many games.

George Bailey, who took up a role in the national selection panel last year, is no longer contracted with Tasmania, while Alex Bevilaqua, Gurinder Sandhu, Sean Willis and Simon Milenko have also been left out.



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Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett left out as England name 55-man training group

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Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett and Joe Clarke are among the high-profile omissions from England’s enlarged 55-man training group.

18 bowlers returned to individual training last week with a focus on red-ball cricket, and a further 37 names have been added to that list.

Players have not yet been named with specific formats in mind, but the longlist will be the source of the squads for the Test series against West Indies and ODI series against Ireland.

Several players who impressed on England Lions’ tour to Australia have been included, with James Bracey, Brydon Carse, Will Jacks, Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Dan Lawrence among them.

Ben Duckett, Sam Billings, Reece Topley, Liam Livingstone, Mason Crane and David Willey are among those who have been named after a spell out of the international fold, but there is no room for Hales or Plunkett in the group.

“It’s really pleasing to be in a position to have players returning to training and a huge amount of work has been done by many to get us this far,” said Mo Bobat, the ECB’s performance director. “The pool of players will give selectors strong options when it comes to selecting squads across formats further down the line, as we move closer to our aim of playing international cricket this summer.”

“We will need to continue to work closely with our medical team and government to ensure that our return to training and play activities are in line with best-practice guidelines. We’re also really grateful for the positive and collaborative response from our county colleagues who are doing a great job at facilitating coaching and support for the players. The fact that we can call on our network to support the national effort shows the strength of our system.”

England training group: Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Jonny Bairstow(Yorkshire), Tom Banton (Somerset), Dom Bess (Somerset), Sam Billings (Kent), James Bracey (Gloucestershire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Henry Brookes (Warwickshire), Pat Brown (Worcestershire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Brydon Carse (Durham), Mason Crane(Hampshire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Tom Curran (Surrey), Liam Dawson (Hampshire), Joe Denly (Kent), Ben Duckett (Nottinghamshire), Laurie Evans (Sussex), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Richard Gleeson (Lancashire), Lewis Gregory (Somerset), Sam Hain (Warwickshire), Tom Helm (Middlesex), Will Jacks (Surrey), Keaton Jennings (Lancashire), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Yorkshire), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Liam Livingstone (Lancashire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Eoin Morgan (Middlesex), Craig Overton (Somerset), Jamie Overton (Somerset), Matt Parkinson (Lancashire), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Phil Salt (Sussex), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Reece Topley (Surrey), James Vince (Hampshire), Amar Virdi (Surrey), David Willey (Yorkshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)



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CA redundancies looming even as forecasts improve

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A major round of redundancies at Cricket Australia appears only days away as its chief executive Kevin Roberts maintained his insistence on cutbacks even as he outlined details of a home summer schedule that will feature more international fixtures than originally planned amid vastly improving financial forecasts.

Roberts said on Friday that CA was looking at a revenue shortfall of about A$80 million for the home season, an estimation that back in April was believed to be as high as A$230 million in discussions with state associations. Such a rapidly shifting set of forecasts has maintained a strong sense of scepticism among the states and the Australian Cricketers Association about the true state of the game’s finances and the cost-cutting prescribed as a result.

While Roberts made it clear that CA did not wish to follow Victoria or Queensland in taking the axe to community cricket programs around the country in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, he was blunt in stating that staff reductions at the central governing body were inevitable. A total of 146 employees have so far been made redundant across every state association apart from New South Wales. CA stood down some 200 staff on 20% of their usual salaries until June 30, while executives and remaining staff remained on 80% of their usual pay.

ALSO READ: Queensland cuts take cricket job losses to 135

Those cuts followed CA’s initial advice to the states that their annual distributions would have to be reduced by as much as 40% over two years, a figure subsequently argued down to 25% with in-built flexibility should revenue shortfall not be as significant as previously forecast. Even so, NSW and Queensland are still to agree to new funding deals, while Western Australia’s agreement with CA will not take effect unless they do.

“We are focused on delivering the best season possible noting that the likelihood of significant crowds is very slim,” Roberts said. “Ordinarily that’ll deliver well over A$50 million revenue to CA. The T20 World Cup is a big question and that’s a factor of A$20 million. And you mentioned biosecurity plans, it’s likely that our biosecurity measures that we need to put into place to deliver our season will cost in the order of A$10 million.

“We’ve made a commitment to significantly reduce the cost base of Cricket Australia. Unfortunately, that means that no area of the organisation will be untouched. It’s premature to talk about the details of those plans. That will come in the not too distant future. We are really focused on the activities that will drive positive cash flow for Australian cricket given the importance of CA generating revenue to support states and territories.

“Once we’ve generated that revenue from the commercial activities, our highest priority in terms of where that revenue is invested in community cricket. So we are looking to minimising the reductions in community cricket. It’s fair to say there will be reductions right across Cricket Australia and that’s unavoidable given the need to reduce to the extent that we are.”

Both the states and the ACA have complained that CA has been tardy or incomplete in providing financial information, something Roberts tried to justify while still talking about the governing body’s state association owners and player partners as though they were outsiders to the game’s decision-making.

“What’s been reported is there’s unanswered questions. I guess what hasn’t been reported thus far is there’s been many workshops, exchanges of information packs, documents, emails, discussions, video meetings that have occurred,” Roberts said. “Many, many, questions answered. It is true there’s a couple of unanswered questions and it’s also true there’s a couple of questions that can’t be answered out of respect for the organisations involved.

“So as an example we’ve still got over A$10 million in overdue debtors right now, but it wouldn’t be appropriate out of respect for those organisations that owe CA money for us to be talking about that publicly in reference to those organisations. We’ve certainly answered just about every question that’s come out way, there’s a couple that remain to be answered and we’re in the process of doing so, and there’s some that are of a more confidential nature.”

Australia’s international schedule for next summer is actually going to provide more content for broadcasters than initially scheduled, with a limited overs tour by New Zealand in late January and early February replacing the equivalent matches that were cancelled this March due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. These matches would appear to now clash with the likely climax of the Big Bash League, which has been a source of much discussion around the desire of the broadcasters Fox Sports and Seven to give it greater prominence and better players.

“We’ve got some exciting innovation that we’ll be announcing in due course around the BBL for next season. That runs from the start of the tournament to the finals series,” Roberts said. “Certainly, we’re focused on elevating the BBL series. We’ve also got a really fortunate situation, as do New Zealand, in that if things continue as they are the prospect of cricket being played in our nations is stronger than many other countries.

“Speaking with David White, as recently as this week, we’ve expressed our commitment to work on various plans with NZ for the season ahead. We need to be flexible in that regard too because we can’t know exactly how this will play out. We’re very confident if the schedule does play out as announced we’ll see a great NZ series and a fantastic BBL finals series as well.”

Less promising are the prospects for scheduled matches in the north of Australia in August and October, including a series against Zimbabwe that looks almost certain to be postponed. “We take seriously our responsibility to get the game to the people all around Australia and we’re really excited about the possibility of going north to Townsville and up to the [Northern] Territory as well,” Roberts said.

“Obviously there’s a high degree of uncertainty around the prospect of that happening, and there’s an even higher degree of uncertainty around the prospect of having fans at the matches, but regardless no doubt the local communities up north will be excited to welcome the teams to battle each other on the field up north, regardless of whether there can be fans at the match. We really hope those series can occur as planned. If they can’t then there’s the opportunity to postpone them and still ensure that we can take cricket to the likes of Townsville and Darwin.”



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