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Chris Green re-joins Birmingham Bears as T20 captain

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Chris Green, the globetrotting Australian offspinner, has signed a deal to return to Birmingham Bears for the 2020 Vitality Blast, and will captain the side in the competition.

Green, who has made his name as one of the best Powerplay spinners on the T20 circuit in recent years, played six games for the club this year, having flown in from the Global T20 Canada at less than 24 hours’ notice. He impressed in that stint, conceding just 6.69 runs per over, and will be available for the whole group stage in 2020.

ALSO READ: From a Thunder innings to Guyana captain – the unlikely story of Chris Green

And after Jeetan Patel stood down from the captaincy, with his retirement due at the end of next season, Green will lead the side for the whole of the Blast. Will Rhodes was confirmed as the Championship and 50-over captain last week.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Bears last summer and it’s a huge honour to return to the club as captain in 2020,” Green said. “I am really excited about re-joining the squad next season.

“We know that there’s tremendous potential in this young squad and we have every chance of making the knockout stages and pushing for a home Finals Day if we can keep developing in the build up to the opener with Notts Outlaws on May 29.

“Having arrived straight from the Global T20 Canada tournament this year, it’s very exciting that I can return to Edgbaston in mid-May and support our preparations for the full Vitality Blast campaign.”

“It’s great that we can bring Chris back to Edgbaston,” said Paul Farbrace, the club’s sport director. “He’s a true T20 specialist who boasts plenty of experience of playing in many of the world’s top short-form tournaments, but he also has the potential to become an established player on the international stage.

“He immediately settled into the squad last summer and the cricket management team recognise that his experience and leadership qualities can help us to develop a fresh, attacking and entertaining approach to our T20 cricket.

“Securing Chris gives us consistency in the make-up of our team, which we also see as an important factor in helping us get back into the knockout stages the Blast.”

Green recently signed a six-year deal – the longest-ever Big Bash contract – with Sydney Thunder, and counts Guyana Amazon Warriors and Multan Sultans among his other sides. He captained Guyana in the final four games of the Caribbean Premier League in 2018, and recently told ESPNcricinfo that he had received some “good feedback” from Australia’s selectors about his standing ahead of next year’s T20 World Cup.



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Cameron Green ruled out of bowling due to stress fracture

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Cameron Green, the Western Australia allrounder who has been tipped to soon feature for Australia, will be unable to bowl for the foreseeable future after suffering a stress fracture of his back.

Green, 20, has been lauded by Ricky Ponting and compared to Andrew Flintoff after starring for Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield with two centuries this season but has been unable to bowl in the last two matches and that will now extend at least throughout the Big Bash.

ALSO READ: Cameron Green dampens hype around Australia prospects

“Follow up scans this week on Cameron’s lower back have revealed the early stages of a lumbar stress fracture,” Western Australia sports science medicine manager, Nick Jones, said. “This will require an extended period of rest from bowling to ensure the fracture heals adequately.

“No timeframe has been set for Cameron to return to bowling, however we are not expecting him to be bowling during the BBL. He will continue to be available for selection as a batter.”

Speaking earlier this week, Green had been confident that his current back soreness had not been serious and viewed himself as a genuine allrounder in the future.

“Coming through as a junior I’ve always seen myself as a genuine allrounder,” he said. “At times for WA, I was definitely a bowling allrounder, batting nine or ten and not scoring too many runs. So I’m pretty happy I’m getting a couple of runs out the way but in the future, I’d like to be a genuine allrounder.”

Trevor Hohns, the Australia selection chairman, said that picking someone at a young age would not be an issue but Green’s back problem would be monitored.

“I don’t have an issue with his age, it’s more about whether his body can cope and what he can do bowling, particularly in the allrounder category,” Hohns said. “We know he’s a very good bat, he is a fine up-and-coming young player.”



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Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme cleared to travel to Australia

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New Zealand have had a major boost ahead of the first Test against Australia next week with Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme both making good progress in their recoveries from injury.

NZC confirmed the pair would travel to Perth with the squad on Saturday having come through a training session in Mount Maunganui on Friday. Boult (side strain) and de Grandhomme (abdominal tear) had missed the second Test against England in Hamilton.

“Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme are both making good progress with their injuries and successfully trained today at Bay Oval,” NZC posted on Twitter. “The pair will travel with the team to Perth tomorrow.”

There still remains a question mark over their participation in the day-night Test at Perth Stadium which starts on Thursday, but the progress is encouraging.

Boult, especially, is vital to New Zealand’s hopes of pushing Australia with him potentially being a handful with the pink ball and his side strain was causing the most concern after he picked it up against England in Mount Maunganui.

“I don’t know if I’m really confident, but I’m quietly optimistic they’re tracking where we want them to be,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said earlier this week.

In Boult’s absence, Matt Henry played the second Test against England but New Zealand will need to give serious consideration into introducing the extra pace of uncapped Lockie Ferguson. Tim Southee and Neil Wagner, who has yet to play a Test in Australia, were the other members of the pace attack.

De Grandhomme provides important balance to the New Zealand side. He averages 40.33 with the bat and 29.63 with the ball in 19 Tests. His injury handed a Test debut to Daryl Mitchell who made 73 but went wicketless in Hamilton.



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Captaincy inspires Jess Duffin and raises question of Australia comeback

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There is someone playing in the WBBL finals this weekend who has been player of the match in a World T20 final and a World Cup final. Someone who has reached the highest level of two sports and still plays both concurrently at the domestic level.

The Melbourne Renegades captain Jess Duffin is one of the form players of the tournament making 500 runs at an average of 71.72 with five half-centuries including three in a row leading into the finals weekend. But Duffin can’t quite work out where her form has come from.

“It’s a good question,” Duffin told ESPNcricinfo. “I haven’t really thought about it too much to be honest. I went into the season the same way I have every other year but as I explained to other people in the past, it’s T20 cricket, anything can happen, it’s a bit up and down.”

Duffin’s sporting resume is quite remarkable. In an era where female cricketers are becoming national icons, Duffin appears, at times, to be persona non grata. In part, it is because her international cricket career came to a sudden halt four years ago and it came under a different name.

Jess Cameron, as she was known prior to getting married, had a stellar international career for Australia. She has played in three World T20 triumphs for Australia and was player of the match in the 2012 final against England scoring 45 off 34 balls.

Her ODI record was even better. She made 75 from 76 balls in the 2013 final against West Indies.

But she hasn’t played for Australia since 2015, stepping away from international level by choice at just 26. While still playing domestic cricket in the WBBL, she has instead been playing Australian Rules Football, starring in the AFLW for North Melbourne, earning a place in the All Australian team, the league’s team of the season, earlier this year.

Duffin has made the WBBL team of the year this season as captain after leading the Renegades to another semi-final. Of the eight players to have made 400 runs or more, she has the highest strike-rate, 140.05, by some margin and is the only player who doesn’t currently play international cricket.

After years of worrying about her own form and her own performance she has discovered that the captaincy, which was thrust upon her due to Amy Satterthwaite’s pregnancy, might be the secret to success.

“In the past couple of years I probably haven’t really backed myself in terms of trying to get the team over the line,” Duffin said. “But this year with the captaincy…I don’t get time to think about myself because I’m trying to help them in the situation we have in front of us. So it’s probably been a good thing not focussing on myself too much.

“I think it’s just more about understanding the game of T20 cricket. I haven’t really had to think about it in the past because we’ve had other captains do all that sort of thinking for us. So I’ve had to do a lot of work behind the scenes in terms of looking at footage and watching other people play.”

Studying vision of opposition to gain a competitive advantage has helped Duffin guide her young middle order through some tricky chases. She admitted it was something she didn’t do enough of in her six-year international career.

“We used to do it as a group when we were sitting in batting and bowling meetings and stuff like that but I didn’t go the extra mile and have a look myself,” she said. “So that’s probably one area I’ve probably been a bit better at, just in terms of my research. But I think that’s because I’m captain and I kind of need to know what these players are doing. I’ve tended to watch a bit more than normal.”

Duffin’s form has now raised questions about a recall to the Australia side for the T20 World Cup next February. But her availability is complicated. She declined the opportunity to play for Australia A against India A in an upcoming series and the 2020 AFLW season clashes with the T20 World Cup in March.

Complicating matters further, Duffin doesn’t even know what she would like to do.

“Not really,” Duffin said. “I haven’t really thought about it to be honest. I know there’s been a lot of talk about my selection and stuff and I haven’t had any contact with the selectors at all and you look at that [Australian] line-up and think ‘well, where am I sitting?’. There’s some really good players in there at the moment and my sole focus this weekend is to make sure we come out on top on Sunday.”

For now, Australia, North Melbourne, her personal training work, her husband and her dogs all run a distant second to leading the Renegades to victory and atoning for last year’s heartbreaking semi-final loss against the Sydney Sixers in a super over.

The Renegades have been shorn of their two England stars Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont, but they have gained Chamari Atapattu who made a century against Australia in October in Brisbane.

“Hopefully she can do what she did the Australians a couple of months ago and dominate on Saturday,” Duffin said. “With the ball, we’ve obviously got Lea Tahuhu upfront and Molly Strano has been doing a really good job for us throughout the middle so we can throw the ball to anyone at any time and anyone can step up.

“We do match up well against [the Brisbane Heat]. I think it’s about going in with a pretty clear plan and obviously we know they like to score big so it’s just trying to restrict that. They’ve got Beth Mooney and Jess Jonassen up the top who are in some really good form so it’s just having the right plans for them and just obviously going out and executing.”

The Heat will need their own plans for the unassuming Duffin, who has reminded everyone this year just how good she is.



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