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Recent Match Report – Australia vs New Zealand, ICC World Test Championship, 1st Test

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Toss Australia chose to bat against New Zealand

Australia captain Tim Paine won the toss and chose to bat first against New Zealand in the day-night first Test at Perth Stadium.

Kane Williamson’s visitors were unable to choose Trent Boult as he continued his recovery from a side strain suffered against England, meaning a debut for the speedy Lockie Ferguson.

Australia’s side was unchanged for the third match in a row, leaving David Warner to open the batting with Joe Burns. They have not lost a series at home to New Zealand since 1985.

Temperatures for Perth are currently nearing 39C, though they will ease and cool as the day turns into night.

Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Joe Burns, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Matthew Wade, 7 Tim Paine (capt, wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood

New Zealand: 1 Tom Latham, 2 Jeet Raval, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 BJ Watling (wk), 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Trent Boult/Lockie Ferguson, 11 Neil Wagner



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Combination questions for Rajasthan Royals with Ben Stokes doubtful

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Where they finished in 2019: Seventh, with only five wins in 14 matches

Potential XI : Jos Buttler, Robin Uthappa/Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson, Steven Smith (capt.), Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Ankit Rajpoot/ Varun Aaron

Batting: Royals have retained their core of big overseas names and spent their money on young Indian talents like they’ve done in previous editions. There were quite a few standout individual performances in their dismal 2019 season but they rarely clicked as a collective. They will be keen to pin down batting positions and roles from the outset, although they have the option to keep the top six fluid.

The in-form Jos Buttler will take up one of the the opening spots and is likely to have the experienced Robin Uthappa or the young Yashasvi Jaiswal as his partner. Their captain Steven Smith has the penchant to stay at the crease and see off tricky chases, while a lot more will be expected from the mercurial Sanju Samson.

Most importantly, their middle order looks rather fragile without Ben Stokes, who is yet to confirm his IPL availability. While teenager Riyan Parag showed glimpses of promise last season, they might have trouble filling the middle-order hole left by Stokes if he opts out. Stokes will be hard to replace as they do not have a like-for-like replacement for him in their squad, but they do have David Miller as another overseas batting option. And perhaps Tom Curran can fill some of the hole at a push.

Bowling: Royals are well stocked in the fast-bowling department but there seems to be a lack of variety with their overseas options: Jofra Archer, Tom Curran, Andrew Tye and Oshane Thomas are all right-arm quicks, and Archer will be the first choice for the starting XI. Their spin unit is also a bit one-dimensional, with three Indian wristspinners in the mix.

Shreyas Gopal, who shone in Royals’ otherwise disappointing season last year, impressed in the middle overs and powerplay and should play a big role for them this time around too, especially if the UAE tracks are on the slower side.

As for the Indian quicks, adapting to the conditions and executing their variations – where they failed last year – will be key. Young talents like Kartik Tyagi and Akash Singh are waiting in the wings.

Young player to watch out for: The franchise has unearthed a number of young talents over the years and this time they’ve invested in India Under-19 players. Tyagi was picked up by Royals for INR 1.3 crore at the auction. The 19-year-old, who regularly registers upwards of 140kmph, impressed at the 2020 U-19 World Cup, picking 11 wickets in six games, including a memorable 4 for 24 against Australia. He has been training under Royals’ fast bowling coach Steffan Jones and was also part of a preparatory camp in Nagpur earlier this year. He will be keen to showcase his express pace and ability to nail yorkers if given a chance on the big stage.

Coaching staff: Andrew McDonald (head coach), Amol Muzumdar (batting coach), Sairaj Bahutule (spin bowling coach) and Rob Cassell (fast bowling coach).



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What South Africa’s cricket crisis is all about

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South African cricket has hit rock bottom after the CSA board and its executive were instructed to step aside by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) following nine months of administrative implosion.

In that time, CSA suspended and dismissed a CEO (and other senior officials), saw another CEO and its board president and three other board members resign, was caught in racially-charged battles, which have exposed deep-seated divisions, and attempted to keep a financial crisis at bay.

With the storm at its peak, here’s an explainer to help you navigate the high winds and rough seas which are threatening to drown the South African cricket.

So, silly question but who is running cricket in South Africa right now?

If you ask CSA, they are. “Business as usual” was the official word on Friday morning with acting CEO Kugandrie Govender continuing to work in her role with her full complement of staff. That may change when the SASCOC appoints its task team, which is expected imminently. And we don’t know if an interim administrator will be put in place.

Right, and what’s brought this on?

Essentially, unstable governance. In the last three years, CSA has had four CEOs – Haroon Lorgat, Thabang Moroe, Jacques Faul and Govender – and although all but Govender worked under the same president, Chris Nenzani, CSA as an organisation has floundered. It’s facing major financial losses, has lost sponsors and its relationship with the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) is troubled. If we’re looking for a starting point, the failed attempt to launch the T20 Global League in 2017 was probably it.

The T20 Global League was Lorgat’s brainchild but just like the tournament, Lorgat too was ditched shortly after. It was replaced by the loss-making Mzansi Super League, for which no television rights have been sold. Combine that with CSA’s plans to restructure the domestic system without consulting the SACA and the stage was set for chaos.

The SACA has taken legal action against CSA twice since Moroe was appointed and has come out victorious both times. CSA has since abandoned its restructure plans and is due to be coming up with new ones, but the relationship between CSA and SACA has not healed and the game has suffered as a result.

What is SASCOC and why should I care about this acronym?

The SASCOC is a legislatively created umbrella body under which all South Africa’s sporting federations operate. In its constitution, it says its main agenda is to “promote and develop high-performance sport”. While it is not a government institution, it can be regarded as quasi-governmental because it stems directly from the country’s laws. The SASCOC is not an example of a well-functioning organisation and is currently operating with an acting CEO and acting president as a result of delayed elections. Sounds familiar?

Can SASCOC really do what it has just done to CSA?

Yes. According to clause 9.1 35.4 of the SASCOC’s constitution, “members shall be subordinate to SASCOC and must comply with the Constitution of SASCOC and any directives issued by SASCOC from time to time subject to the proviso that any directive shall not be in conflict with any requirement of the relevant international body to which that member is affiliated”.

But hang on, doesn’t the SASCOC’s intervention contravene the ICC’s constitution?

Possibly. Former ICC head of legal David Becker believes the ICC will be “concerned,” with the SASCOC’s actions and will be keeping a close eye on developments.

So the ICC can intervene too?

They can, and there are examples – such as in Zimbabwe last year when the country’s Sports and Recreation Commission disbanded the Zimbabwe Cricket board, it led to Zimbabwe’s subsequent suspension from the ICC. But it does not mean they will do the same with South Africa. There are other examples of member countries’ governments who appear to be pushing the envelope of the code of conduct without the teams getting suspended.

One such example is Pakistan, where the head of state has always been a patron of the cricket board and has, in the past, appointed members directly to the board and recently decreed a complete overhaul of the domestic game. That has not invited the ICC scrutiny and neither has the role of the Indian government in the cricket-field impasse between India and Pakistan.

We might conclude that the ICC is more likely to respond to CSA in the same way they react to the PCB and the BCCI, rather than the way they deal with smaller members like Zimbabwe and Nepal.

Is there a Hail Mary CSA can pull out to make things better?

There is, and they should have used it weeks ago: make the forensic report public.

Wait, what forensic report?

The report was first mooted when Moroe was suspended in December last year and was intended to look into allegations of misconduct. Work only started on it in March and there were delays in completing it but CSA now has a copy. It is believed to be 468 pages long but very few people have actually seen it. Not even the vast majority of CSA’s own Members Council – the 14 provincial presidents who form the highest decision-making body in the organisation. CSA required any of the members who wanted to see it to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which some have refused to do.

Neither the SASCOC nor the country’s sports minister Nathi Mthethwa has seen the report despite Mthethwa insisting on viewing it before CSA’s AGM, which was scheduled for September 5. Instead of showing Mthethwa the report, CSA postponed the AGM.

Why the secrecy?

That’s the million-dollar question and we can only guess, educatedly. The report was due to cover CSA’s activities in full, including activities of members of staff other than Moroe and that of the board. CSA’s insistence on keeping the report under wraps seems to indicate there are things they don’t want to be made known. Whispers are that the report implicates several people other than Moroe, which would force CSA to take action against those people too.

The players will be fine, right?

For now, the players are unaffected with ten men’s players at the IPL and seven women’s players preparing for the WBBL. However, the immediate future of the game in the country is in question. It is already early September and, Covid-19 aside, in a regular season, by now South African cricket would have confirmed domestic and international fixtures for the next summer.

Understandably, the pandemic has delayed this but there is no indication of whether CSA has made any progress about when franchise competitions will start and if the national teams will be in action any time soon (albeit that they need the borders open for the latter to happen). If fixtures are scant, CSA will eventually lose money and that will impact the players.



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Recent Match Report – Australia vs England 1st ODI 2020

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Australia 294 for 9 (Maxwell 77, Marsh 73, Wood 3-54) v England

A century stand between Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell helped carry Australia to a competitive total in the first ODI at Emirates Old Trafford. Marsh anchored the innings from No. 5 with his highest score in almost four years, while Maxwell threatened at some trademark pyrotechnics before falling for 77 from 59 with more than six overs to go as England’s seamers produced a strong finish.

Missing Steven Smith, who suffered a blow to the head in training the day before, and asked to bat on a surface expected to be slow and given to spin, Australia recovered from a shaky first half to leave England a potentially challenging chase. The 126-run sixth-wicket partnership was a record for Australia in ODIs against England and allowed them some respite from the middle-order woes that have dogged them in this format.

Despite coming in at No. 7 and with Australia looking to rebuild, Maxwell was soon ticking along at above a run a ball, before unleashing his full repertoire. The first of his four sixes was a half-chance to long-on that caught Tom Banton out of position, but he was beginning to find his range as the innings entered its final phase, putting Adil Rashid into the top tier and then creaming Jofra Archer for back-to-back sixes before mistiming a slower ball on to his stumps.

England only conceded three more boundaries from that point onwards, however, and Marsh’s dismissal, lbw to Mark Wood, left them scrambling to get close to 300. The target of 295 would still require the highest successful chase in ODIs at Old Trafford, but England will be hopeful of rediscovering an appetite for aggressive scoring after fielding their strongest team since last year’s World Cup trumph.

Talk about Australia’s formula for ODIs has been something of a constant in recent times – despite their run to the semi-finals of the World Cup – and they came into this series with the captain, Aaron Finch, calling for “consistency” in their bid to settle on a preferred XI for the road to 2023. Finch and Justin Langer will doubtless have been heartened that it was two of Australia’s unfulfilled talents in the middle order who helped dig the tourists out of trouble.

Australia lost both openers inside the Powerplay, extracted via the pace of returning World Cup winners Archer and Wood – both playing their first ODIs since the 2019 final. Archer continued his hold over Warner, having dismissed him two times out of two in the T20I series, by pinging the top of off stump with a searing, 90mph delivery in his second over; Wood’s impact was even swifter, as his first ball, skidding through at 89mph in the channel, found Finch’s outside edge.

A platform of 46 for 2 at the end of the Powerplay left Australia’s batsmen with work to do, but also a window of opportunity: since the decision was taken to move on from Liam Plunkett, England’s wicket-taking threat in the middle overs has waned (in defeat to Ireland in the third ODI last month, they didn’t manage a single breakthrough between the 11th and the 40th).

But Wood helped restore a cutting edge, removing Marcus Stoinis after he had briefly looked capable of finding the requisite balance between muscle and moody stonewalling, filling in for Smith at No. 3. Again Wood found a testing length, this time pushing the speed gun up to 92mph, and a flying Jos Buttler collected Stoinis’ nick.

Rashid, alongside Plunkett the other reliable middle-overs can-opener of England’s World Cup side, produced two more breakthroughs in his first spell and Australia’s hopes of a significant total were looking decidedly peaky at 123 for 5. Marnus Labuschagne, having looked his usual busy self, missed a slider to be pinned lbw despite a review and the under-pressure Alex Carey top-edged a sweep – Rashid moving past James Anderson to become England’s leading ODI wicket-taker against Australia.

With Marsh intent on knuckling down, after being restored to the side in South Africa earlier this year, it was Maxwell who looked most capable of undoing England’s good work with the ball. He might have been taken on 10 going after a Rashid long hop only for Banton to palm it over the rope and was fortunate to escape when top-edging a sweep between Buttler and Joe Root at slip on 41, but looked in ominous touch swinging the same bowler into the stands as Australia reached 218 for 5 after 40.



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