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Smith apologises to team-mates for dissent charge

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Steven Smith fronted his Australian team-mates to apologise for drawing a dissent charge and fine in the Sheffield Shield as the captain Tim Paine reminded all members of the squad that they need to maintain standards of behaviour “regardless of who we’re playing for”, as they ramped up preparations for the Pakistan Test series.

After a period of more than a year in which the Australian team had earned significant respect for improved behaviour, while being lauded by Cricket Australia’s board for making only one ICC code of conduct transgression – an audible obscenity by Adam Zampa during the World Cup – in 18 months since the Newlands scandal, standards have slipped this season with no fewer than eight code of conduct breaches being recorded across state, second XI and under-age tournaments. The pair of breaches in the last Shield around arrived from two of Australia’s most high-profile players.

In addition to James Pattinson‘s suspension for abusive language while playing for Victoria against Queensland, Smith was fined 25% of his match fee for obvious dissent when given out caught behind while playing for New South Wales against Western Australia at the SCG. At one of the team’s recurring “values” meetings, held at the start of every major assignment since Justin Langer was appointed coach, Smith told his team-mates he was sorry for raising the ire of officials and admitted he needed to improve his body language and conduct when dismissed.

ALSO READ: James Pattinson out of first Test after code of conduct suspension

“I came in and apologised to the group yesterday for getting a code of conduct,” Smith said in Brisbane. “I don’t think there was a great deal in it but I’ve copped it and I have to look at when I get out and the way I sort of conduct myself. I know lots of kids watch me play and watch all of us play and the way we conduct ourselves when we get out as well as when we’re batting.

“So we have to be very mindful of that and sometimes just bite the bullet and just conduct ourselves in, I guess, a better manner at times. Sometimes your emotions can get the better of you out on the field. We’re playing a game [where] everyone is trying to do their best and sometimes that happens.”

The transgressions of Smith and Pattinson underline the fact that occasionally, international players are given to dropping their guard in matches not subject to major international broadcast or media attention, even though all domestic matches are streamed online in their entirety. Smith noted that, within reason, the place for letting out frustrations about a dismissal or decision disagreed with is within the dressing room itself, away not only from cameras but also spectators.

“You’re going to get fines, breach notices or whatever it is, but to be honest, the feeling around the group is enough of a punishment”

Pat Cummins on players staying in line

“When you get behind closed doors, go for your life, do what you need to do to let your frustrations out,” he said. “Within reason – you probably don’t want to punch anything. Mitch Marsh can probably attest to that. We’re Australian players regardless of where we’re playing and what we’re doing. We sign up to values and in our contracts we’ve got a code of conduct there we have to play by. I got pinged and so be it. I felt I should apologise for that.”

Paine said that greater consistency in behaviour across all levels of the game was something that all team members were clear about trying to achieve. “I think it’s more just a reminder that we’ve got to set those standards all the time,” Paine said. “Whether we’re playing for Australia or we’re playing club cricket or we’re playing for our states or we’re not playing cricket, there are standards we set ourselves to live by day in and day out so it’s important we do that whether we’re on the field off the field, regardless of who we’re playing for.

“We’ve had a couple of instances this week but we always revisit them. We did again last night, just to brush up on what’s expected and what we expect of the group. Both of those guys apologised, they know that they fell a little bit short of what we set ourselves in the Test team. And the fact that it’s important that we maintain that when we go back to state cricket and lead the way there. They’re disappointed with that but we are going to keep on top of it and maintain the level that we’ve set so far in the last couple of years.”

Pat Cummins, one of the joint vice-captains, said that more often than not, the knowledge of team-mates that mistakes had been made and values not lived up to provided as stinging a punishment as any fine or ban. “It’s pretty clear how we want to play and go about it and our standards we set ourselves,” he said. “You’re going to get fines, breach notices or whatever it is, but to be honest, the feeling around the group is enough of a punishment. You now when you’ve stepped out of line. He [Pattinson] has owned up to it, he’ll be super remorseful and it’s a good lesson for him to learn.

“We’ve identified five key values, and we just want to stay on top of those, so every few months it’s just trying to talk about them and say ‘what does this look like’. We’ll break up in groups, talk about different values and also it gives us something to measure against that at the end of the series to see how we’re tracking. It’s run by the players, we own it, we know what standards we have to uphold, and it’s a good little reminder and it’s no different for the T20, one-day or Test side, if someone comes in, these are the expectations.”



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Kohli back at No. 1 in Tests; big jumps for Warner, Labuschagne

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The baton of No. 1 Test batsman in the world has changed hands between Virat Kohli and Steven Smith once again, with Kohli surpassing Smith following a century in his team’s inaugural day-night Test in Kolkata. While Kohli enjoyed that success against Bangladesh, Smith failed to go past 36 in Australia’s home Tests against Pakistan, resulting in the swap at the top.

The good news for Australia, though, is that David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne, who were in red hot form against Pakistan, moved up to No. 5 and No. 8 respectively.

Warner compiled the second highest score for Australia in Test cricket, going past the 334-run mark of Donald Bradman and Mark Taylor in Adelaide, finishing on 335 not out as Australia declared their only innings.

Only fellow opener Matthew Hayden has a higher score for Australia: 380, against Zimbabwe in 2003. Warner’s mammoth innings followed a knock of 154 in the first Test of the series, in Brisbane, resulting in him jumping 12 places up the rankings overall.

Labuschagne, meanwhile, was ranked as low as 110 at the start of 2019. His year took a dramatic turn when he became Test cricket’s first concussion sub during the Lord’s Test of the Ashes series, slotting into the game in place of Smith – who had taken a blow to the helmet from Jofra Archer – and going on to score a match-saving, last-day 59. That won him a place in the XI even when Smith returned, and he produced scores of 74, 80, 67, 11, 48 and 14 through the rest of the Ashes. His best was yet to come, though. In the home Tests against Pakistan, both innings victories, Labuschagne scored 185 and 162, completing a sensational charge into Test cricket’s top ten batsmen.

The Smith-Kohli race to No. 1 has been in overdrive ever since the former returned from his ball-tampering ban in mid-2019 and went on to have a stunning Ashes campaign. Smith had toppled Kohli during that series, in September, before Kohli scored a double-hundred against South Africa to return to within one rating point of Smith. Now, as things stand, Kohli is five ratings points clear of Smith. Smith will have the chance to overtake him once again when Australia take on New Zealand at home from December 12. India do not play Test cricket again till they tour New Zealand early next year.

For the full rankings, click here.



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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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