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Recent Match Report – Paarl Rocks vs Tshwane Spartans, Mzansi Super League, 10th Match

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Tshwane Spartans 188 for 2 (Elgar 88*) beat Paarl Rocks 185 for 6 (Vince 86*, Morkel 2-24) by eight wickets

Tshwane Spartans got their first win of this Mzansi Super League (MSL) with only the second successful chase of the tournament so far. After the Nelson Mandela Bay Stars eased to victory chasing 109 against the Jozi Stars on Saturday, the Spartans made bigger tasks look easy and hunted down a target of 186, with five balls to spare. Their win has taken up to third place on the points table and pushed Paarl Rocks into fourth.

It’s blowing in the wind

While the east coast of the country has been hit by heavy rain, the west has seen strong winds with gusts of up to 50kph over this weekend and it had an effect on the fielders. Six catches were dropped in total, four by the visiting team and two which gave top-scorer James Vince a lifeline.

Henry Davids was on 14 when he was put down at deep square leg, and he went on to score 30. Vince did much more damage. He was first put down on 5 when he miscued a shot off Lungi Ngidi to AB de Villiers at long-off. De Villiers had the ball in his hands but was back-pedaling and heading over the rope so he tossed the ball up, but not high enough that he could get back on the field and complete the catch.

Three overs later, Vince offered a much simpler chance to by Donovan Ferreira at deep midwicket off Roelof van der Merwe but the ball slipped through the hands. Morne Morkel then dropped a return catch off Dwaine Pretorius when the batsman was on 7. He only added two more to his total.

The hosts did not escape the wind either. Isuru Udana had two chances put down – Theunis de Bruyn on 31, who was dropped by Bjorn Fortuin at long-on and de Villiers, on 8, put down by Pretorius at backward square leg. While de Bruyn went on to make 42, de Villiers only scored 19.

Faf v Morne

Watching former team-mates take each other on is part of the fun of T20 franchise cricket and though today was billed as being about Faf du Plessis v de Villiers, it was actually du Plessis v Morne Morkel. The former Titans and South African team-mates were on opposite sides in Paarl and Morkel claimed major bragging rights. He had du Plessis caught at midwicket for a third-ball duck to put the Rocks in early trouble at 45 for 2.

Highest opening partnership of the competition

Who said Dean Elgar and Theunis de Bruyn are red-ball cricketers only? Not us! The Test duo put on the highest opening partnership of the competition so far – 104 runs in 12.2 overs which featured a dynamic array of strokes. De Bruyn cut and pulled well while Elgar was enterprising and aggressive, hitting down the ground and timing and placing the ball well, especially in the air. Elgar was the match’s top-scorer with 88 off 60 balls, including seven fours and two sixes.

Captain Klaasen

The most-scrutinised leadership skills in this competition are Temba Bavuma’s and Quinton de Kock’s as the succession race for the South African national team hots up, but Heinrich Klaasen showed why he also has something to offer as he led from the front to take his side to victory. Klaasen’s cameo of 31 runs off 13 balls featured a reverse-sweep, a straight drive over Tabraiz Shamsi and back-to-back sixes at the end of the 19th over to ensure the Spartans only needed two runs to win off the last six balls.



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West Indies rope in Monty Desai as batting coach

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West Indies have appointed Monty Desai as the batting coach of the senior men’s team on a two-year contract.

Desai, who has held coaching roles with Afghanistan, Nepal, Indian regional teams and IPL teams Rajasthan Royals and Gujarat Lions in a career of over 12 years, most recently worked with batsmen from the UAE and Canada.

“I am very excited to join a team with such a rich history in the world cricket arena, one that I myself grew up admiring,” Desai said in a statement. “I am very much looking forward to being part of a journey where I can help to create a winning work environment, learn and embrace a new culture, and build a ‘happy dressing room’ tradition alongside other excellent leaders.

“I am eager to join forces with head coach Phil Simmons and director of cricket, Jimmy Adams, and our captains, such that I may contribute in every possible way to the success of our team.”

Desai joined head coach Simmons’ set-up, which includes bowling coach Roddy Estwick and fielding coach Rayon Griffith, ahead of the limited-overs series against India, which starts on December 6 in Hyderabad.

“I have worked with Monty before and he is an excellent coach,” Simmons said. “He has proven he has the ability to get players to improve on their talent and also to perform better in matches. He has vast knowledge of the game and it is good he is starting here with us in India. I look forward to seeing him work with our batsmen in all formats as we look to get better in all areas.”



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Eoin Morgan, Heather Knight named London Spirit captains

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England’s 50-over World Cup-winning captains Eoin Morgan and Heather Knight will lead the London Spirit men’s and women’s teams respectively in The Hundred.

The pair are the second set of captains to be announced for the tournament, following Aaron Finch and Lauren Winfield (Northern Superchargers).

Knight, who captained Western Storm to this season’s Kia Super League title, will be reunited with the man who coached them to that success, Trevor Griffin. Lisa Keightley, the former Australia international, had been due to coach Spirit in the competition, but her appointment as England head coach opened up the opportunity for Griffin – who is currently Sydney Thunder’s coach in the WBBL – to take over.

“I’m really looking forward to captaining the London Spirit women’s team in The Hundred next year,” said Knight. “With the new format there’s going to be the chance to have a real tactical input as a captain and I’m excited to work that out and also bring together a new team in a new competition.

“It’s also brilliant that Trevor has been announced as coach, I really enjoyed working with him in the KSL and hopefully we can have more success together.

“Our team is now really beginning to take shape, having also recently signed Deandra Dottin. I’m looking forward to working with her, Trevor and the rest of the squad once they’re confirmed.”

Griffin said it was “an honour” to be appointed head coach.

“I am thrilled to announce Heather as our captain,” he said. “She is a brilliant cricketer and a natural leader with significant experience in captaining sides. I’m really looking forward to being involved with The Hundred and contributing to this next big step in the development of the professional women’s game.”

Morgan, whose captaincy experience includes 44 T20Is leading England and 33 games as Middlesex skipper, said: “I can’t wait to get started as captain of the London Spirit men’s team. It’s going to be a hugely exciting new competition and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.

“The draft went fantastically well for us and we have an outstanding squad with the likes of Mark Wood, Mohammad Nabi and Dan Lawrence in our team.

“As a player and a captain I am always looking for ways to improve and it’s clear from speaking to Shane – who has an amazing cricket brain, about everything from tactics in this new competition to how to get the best from our squad – that this is an exciting opportunity to take cricket forward.”

Shane Warne said he was “over the moon” to have Morgan confirmed as captain. “He has had a truly unforgettable year and we all know that he is an outstanding leader,” said Warne. “I believe he can give our team the edge in The Hundred.”



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Who would be Australia’s second spinner?

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The Australia squad named for the Test series against New Zealand was probably one of the simpler discussions the selectors have had in recent times following back-to-back innings victories over Pakistan. However, there could be some tricky decisions on the horizon, most significantly around who would be the second spinner should one be needed in Sydney and then, certainly, on the tour of Bangladesh next year.

Selection chairman Trevor Hohns left room for an additional player to be added to the 13-man squad against New Zealand if conditions dictate, a definite nod towards a different balance of the side, and confirmed – without naming them – that a handful of spinners around the country will be told to keep themselves ready to support Nathan Lyon.

“We will be putting a couple of spinners on notice to make sure they’re doing extra work in case they’re required,” Hohns said. “I won’t nominate them now, because they haven’t been informed. But we’re going into a Big Bash period, so we’ll want anyone nominated to be doing extra work throughout the Big Bash series.”

Earlier this year, Shane Warne said Australia’s spin options behind Lyon were a “real issue” if he were injured or needed support.

So who are the names heading the back-up list? (Statistics for this Sheffield Shield season, up to December 4)

Jon Holland (8 wickets at 59.25)

When Australia last fielded two frontline spinners, against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, it was Holland who had the second-spinner’s role. He went wicketless in a heavy defeat, but remained in the selectors’ thinking as part of the Australia A squad that toured England ahead of the Ashes. In the end Australia went without a second spinner for that series. This season has so far been hard work for Holland in the Sheffield Shield but, with international experience under his belt, he will likely remain in contention.

Steve O’Keefe (10 wickets at 18.70)

It takes a while, but if you scan down the Sheffield Shield wicket-takers for the season, you will eventually hit O’Keefe who is the leading spinner for New South Wales so far with 10 wickets at an average under 20. However, at 34, and with a few strikes against his name, it feels as though his time has passed even though he probably remains the second-best spinner in the country. If the selectors wanted someone who would not be overawed by the occasion, O’Keefe ticks plenty of boxes.

Ashton Agar (3 wickets at 136)

The bowling numbers certainly don’t scream “pick me” for Agar, who made his Test debut back in 2013 when he struck 98 from No. 11 against England, but there is an all-round package that could make him attractive to the selectors. If Australia fielded a second spinner it would mean a different balance to the side and one option could be to play Agar at No. 7 – leaving out a specialist batsman – and still field three quick bowlers. He has averaged 52.40 with the bat in the Sheffield Shield this season and is also an outstanding fielder.

Mitchell Swepson (10 wickets at 21.20)

There is momentum growing behind Queensland legspinner Swepson after his match-winning return of 7 for 92 against Victoria in Melbourne. At 26, he has had time to learn his game – and has spent time getting advice from Warne – and the onus will now be on Queensland to try and ensure they can find a place for him in the XI regardless of home conditions at the Gabba. Since the start of last season, he is the joint-leading wicket-taker among spinners, along with Holland, in the Shield with 34 wickets at 33.17.

Marnus Labuschagne (4 wickets at 51.00* including Pakistan Tests)

He’s already cemented in the XI and while he can’t yet be classed as more than a good part-timer there is potential for Labuschagne to play a big role with his legspin. He could have had a couple of wickets against Pakistan and, although he delivers some loose stuff, has pretty good control of all his variations. If it continues to develop there is certainly the scope for him to be a legitimate second option with Lyon, especially on home soil.



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