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Hamish Bennett recalled for T20Is against India



Hamish Bennett, who last played for New Zealand in 2017, has been called up to the T20I squad for the five-match series against India that starts on January 24. Bennett has played one Test and 16 ODIs, with his last match for New Zealand being an ODI against Bangladesh in Dunedin in May 2017.

Bennett, the right-arm medium pacer, is part of a 14-man squad led by Kane Williamson, and is in line to make his T20I debut with regular pacemen Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson still recovering from injury.

Among those also injured, and therefore not considered for selection, were Matt Henry (left thumb), Tom Latham (right pinky), Seth Rance (achilles), Doug Bracewell (knee), Will Young (right shoulder), and Adam Milne (ankle).

Bennett will man the pace department alongside Tim Southee, Blair Tickner, and Scott Kuggeleijn. Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi are the two spinners.

Selector Gavin Larsen said the call-up was just reward for Bennett’s form and perseverance.

“We’re delighted to have Hamish back in the fold for what will be a huge series against India,” Larsen said. “Over the past few seasons he’s consistently been one of the top domestic white-ball bowlers and we’ve been impressed how he’s been able to evolve his game.

“We all know he brings good pace and bounce but it’s the clever variations he’s added that make him such a well-rounded T20 bowler.”

Bennett is currently joint-third highest wicket-taker in this season’s T20 Super Smash, with 14 wickets at an average of 18.42 and an economy rate of 7.06.

Williamson, who missed the T20I series against England in November with a hip injury, is back as is Tom Bruce, who will be part of the squad for the last two games, swapping out with Colin de Grandhomme. Bruce will also lead the New Zealand A side in the one-day series against India A.

The other change from the squad that faced England is allrounder Jimmy Neesham, who missed the final two round-robin games of the Super Smash with an injured quad muscle. Neesham has not been included in this T20I squad, and will instead play for New Zealand A in three one-day matches against India A, starting next week. Daryl Mitchell, meanwhile, kept his place in the squad.

Larsen said the squad had been picked keeping in mind the heavy international schedule and the build-up towards the T20 World Cup that takes place later in the year in Australia.

“The next few weeks will be really intense for our elite male cricketers and we’re fully aware of the challenges ahead,” Larsen said. “We’re clearly wanting to win the series in front of us while also considering our wider ICC T20 World Cup campaign plan.

“We see both Daryl and Jimmy as important allrounders in the T20 format. With a travelling squad of just 13 and the need to balance the options for the series, Daryl gets this opportunity against India as a reward for his consistent form for the Blackcaps.”

The New Zealand A squad also has a number of players with international experience in Todd Astle, Glenn Phillips, Ajaz Patel, George Worker, and Tom Blundell, who will keep wickets, apart from Neesham.

New Zealand T20I squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Hamish Bennett, Tom Bruce (games 4-5), Colin de Grandhomme (games 1-3), Martin Guptill, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Blair Tickner, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.

New Zealand A squad: Tom Bruce (capt), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell (wk), Mark Chapman, Jacob Duffy, Kyle Jamieson, Cole McConchie, Jimmy Neesham, Ollie Newton, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, George Worker.

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South Africa loses ODI sponsor Momentum



Cricket South Africa will lose ODI sponsor Momentum whose contract expires in April 2021 because the financial services company is ” not satisfied with the current state of affairs at CSA regarding governance and other reputational issues.” Momentum will continue to sponsor the women’s national team until 2023.

In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, Momentum confirmed it will not seek to renew its sponsorship with the South African men’s national team and gave no indication of whether it will continue to back the women’s team once that deal ends. It did, however, suggest it will keep pressure on CSA to come out of administrative crisis.

“We will continue our dialogue with CSA to keep them accountable to do the right thing,” Carel Bosman, head of sponsorships at Momentum said. “We all want to see a governing body that is run professionally and ethically, and one that considers all stakeholders to the game.”

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Cricket and Covid-19 – England players cannot be exempt from ECB cuts, says Chris Woakes | Cricket





We have to expect anything with central contracts – Woakes

Chris Woakes has admitted that the England team cannot be “exempt” from the cost-cutting measures that the ECB have been forced to implement, after extending his sympathies to the 62 board employees who have lost their jobs due to the financial impact of the the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, speaking on the eve of the final international fixture of the summer, Woakes added it was too soon to speculate on how the pandemic would impact on the next round of ECB central contracts, which are up for renewal at the start of October.

Instead, he reiterated just how important it had been that West Indies, Ireland, Pakistan and Australia all agreed to tour to prevent the board’s financial losses from being even worse.

ALSO READ: ECB announce 62 job cuts as Covid realities hit home

“It’s incredibly sad news, really,” Woakes said, after it was confirmed that the ECB would be reducing its workforce by 20 percent, in a bid to mitigate projected losses of £200 million if Covid continues to disrupt the sport in 2021.

“There’s a lot of people behind the scenes at the ECB who work incredibly hard, important cogs in the wheel,” Woakes added. “In the current climate, these sort of things are bound to happen in cricket, and in all sports around the world.

“Of course it’s a sad time, and it does resonate with the players, but we’re also very fortunate that cricket has gone ahead this summer, [because] that figure of £200 million could have been a lot worse. I suppose that is the only positive outcome, really.

Victory over Australia in the third and final ODI would complete England’s unbeaten record in international series across formats this summer, and defend a perfect record in bilateral ODI series at home that dates back to 2015 and the start of their emergence as a force in white-ball cricket.

But more importantly, the mere fact that the fixture is taking place means that England’s men will have completed their full roster of 18 international fixtures for 2020, an achievement that seemed unthinkable back in April, when the ECB projected worst-case losses of £380 million if the full season had been wiped out.

“The fact that we actually got some cricket on this summer is just a bonus,” Woakes said. “At one point it didn’t look like there’d be a ball bowled, so credit to everyone who made that happen.”

West Indies and Pakistan, in particular, went to extreme lengths to make the Test leg of the summer, happen, with each team spending two months in lockdown to complete series that were worth in excess of £120 million to the ECB’s coffers. Ireland and Australia’s visits have been less extreme, but undeniably valuable in the current climate.

“We thank them greatly, really,” Woakes said. “They took the effort to come across when no-one really knew what cricket was going to look like in a bubble. We’re really thankful because getting cricket on our shores has been really important.”

But the England players themselves have had to play their part in arduous circumstances. Speaking on Monday, Jofra Archer told of the mental toll that life in the England bubble had taken on him, after 87 days in the bio-secure environment, the longest of any of the players. And Woakes agreed that it had been a challenge over and above the usual touring lifestyle.

Woakes’s comeback spell sparked England’s win in the 2nd ODI © Pool/AFP via Getty Images

“There’s been times when it’s been brilliant, particularly when you are performing well and we’re winning. And there’s times when it’s not gone quite so well, and when you have a bad day, it’s hard to get away from. You’re constantly looking at the pitch, which can be tough at times, and you’re obviously away from friends and family, which also makes it hard.

“So there’s definitely periods where you wish you could get away from the game and get back home and see friends and family, but I think we’ve all stuck to the task really well. It’d be nice for us to finish on a high, but I think everyone has done a great job.”

In ordinary circumstances, such over-and-above efforts might qualify England’s players for hardship bonuses, rather than the prospect of pay cuts. But, with the Team England Player Partnership group beginning their negotiations for 2020-21, and with the top multi-format men’s players earning close to £1 million before bonuses, Woakes was realistic about the prospect of further financial sacrifice.

ALSO READ: Covid resurgence could leave global game ‘in crisis’, says new ECB chairman

“It is a situation where we have to sit down as players and see what happens with regards to these contracts coming up,” he said. “We’ll know more in the next few weeks. We’ll reassess at that point.

“At this moment of time, it is hard for me to say ‘we’re going to take X cuts, and there are going to be donations here, left right and centre’. Until we’ve seen what happens from above we’ll then get more of a feel for it. I certainly wouldn’t rule that out.”

As Woakes pointed out, the England players have already made a voluntary contribution to the cause, donating a combined sum of £500,000 back in April when the pandemic’s impact was first felt.

“That hasn’t really been discussed since and we haven’t been spoken to by the hierarchy of the ECB,” he added. “In the current climate, with contracts around the corner, you have to expect anything. We have to wait and see. as players, you can’t say we’re exempt from it.”

In the meantime, however, there’s a series to be won on the field against Australia.

“The environment that we’re in certainly has had its tough times,” Woakes said. “But the team has pulled together and played some really good cricket, and that’s obviously the most important thing for us when we’re out there, performing as well as we can. And we’ve certainly done that, which has been brilliant.”

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Tom Taylor – Northamptonshire win race for Leicestershire allrounder’s signature



Tom Taylor is set to join Northamptonshire after rejecting a new contract at Leicestershire.

Taylor, the 25-year-old allrounder, is out of contract at the end of the season. While Leicestershire are understood to have pushed their budget as far as they could in a bid to keep him, he has opted to move to the third Midlands county of his career. Taylor started out at Derbyshire and moved to Leicestershire ahead of the 2018 season.

It is understood that several other counties – including Warwickshire – have expressed a passing interest in Taylor over recent months, but Northants have won the race for his signature.

The move is a blow to Leicestershire. While they have become accustomed to losing players to more affluent rivals – notably Nottinghamshire – to lose out to another club with a limited budget is a setback.

But Northamptonshire were promoted to Division One of the County Championship at the end of 2019 – Leicestershire were bottom of Division Two – and are currently second in the Central Group in the Vitality Blast. Leicestershire are third in the North Group.

Leicestershire’s disappointment is increased as they feel they had nursed Taylor through a couple of serious back injuries and considered him a central figure in their team redevelopment. They have already announced they will not be selecting him in the remaining Vitality Blast matches as they look to provide opportunities to other players instead.

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