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Recent Match Report – South Africa vs England, ICC World Test Championship, 3rd Test

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South Africa 209 (de Kock 63, Bess 5-51) and 102 for 6 (Root 4-20) trail England 499 for 9 dec by 188 runs

England went to South Africa barely sure of their first-choice spinner, but it was spin that took them to the brink of victory inside four days in Port Elizabeth. A morning blitz from the quicks saw South Africa made to follow on, and although Dom Bess was successfully repelled after his first-innings five-for, Joe Root took up the baton with a twirl to claim his best Test figures as England closed in.

The majority of the resistance met by England came in the form of the weather. With more than 50 overs lost to rain over the course of the match so far, and the possibility of more on Monday, South Africa’s task in attempting to save the game ought to have been that much simpler. But only Quinton de Kock and Anrich Nortje, in the first innings, and Faf du Plessis second time around managed to occupy the crease for any significant length of time as England’s varied attack repeatedly found ways to succeed.

There have been clouds of the metaphorical variety hanging over du Plessis’ captaincy, and although 36 from 123 balls represented his highest score in nine innings, as well as featuring some trademark stonewalling, it could not inspire a more concerted response. His dismissal to Root, deflecting an inside edge to short leg, was symbolic of the turnaround in fortunes since South Africa won their first Test in six attempts at Centurion.

The rain on the Eastern Cape continued to do its bit, but South Africa did themselves no favours during 66.4 overs of insipid batting. They started the day by losing their last four first-innings wickets for the addition of one run from 28 balls, and ended it hanging on six down – despite another lengthy rain break cutting a chunk out of the morning and afternoon sessions.

The delay backed up England’s decision to enforce the follow-on, the first time they had done so in an away Test since Wellington in 2013. With a patchy forecast for the final day, and the pitch still holding together reasonably well, it threatened to be nip and tuck – but a lead of 290 runs proved a convincing enough cushion for Root.

When the teams did get back on the field, at shortly after 2pm local time, Mark Wood put the wind back in England’s sails. A full, fast delivery defeated Dean Elgar’s attempt to work across the line and uprooted off stump via a faint leading edge; Wood had his second a couple of overs later when Zubayr Hamza, who has looked ill-equipped to deal with high pace, feathered a catch down the leg side hanging back against the short ball.

Du Plessis and Pieter Malan negotiated 15.2 overs – the longest partnership of the innings – and had all but taken South Africa to tea two down when Root bagged his first with a delivery that straightened on the stumps to win approval from Rod Tucker. Although Malan reviewed, the suggestion of inside edge was deemed to be inconclusive by the third umpire and South Africa were on the slide again.

With Rassie van der Dussen shaping up skittishly against Root’s low-slung offbreaks, England began to get itchy – twice triggering the DRS in the period after tea only to lose both of their reviews in the process. When Root did gain an lbw decision from Tucker against van der Dussen, again the review system went in the batsman’s favour. But there was no doubt about his eventual dismissal, caught by a soaring Ollie Pope at short leg off a ballooning inside edge, even if van der Dussen dragged himself reluctantly from the crease.

De Kock played his second poor shot of the day – having been bowled in the second over to end his doughty first-innings knock at 63 – to be caught by the leaping Wood at backward point, and when du Plessis departed well into the evening, Root had a four-wicket haul. There was time for Vernon Philander to be put down twice off Wood, valiant efforts both from Don Sibley and Ben Stokes, but England walked off confident of being able to beat both the weather and their hosts.

That they were in such an ascendant position was in large part down to South Africa’s profligate approach during the opening exchanges. Resuming will 92 runs still required to avoid the follow on, the lower order was blown away by Stuart Broad, who claimed 3 for 0, and Sam Curran with the second new ball.

Three times in as many overs saw loose shots punished with stump-rattling effect. Philander left a gap big enough to let a real-life kookaburra through, Broad’s fuller length rewarded as the ball seamed back to remove off stump; de Kock attempted to drive without getting forward only for Curran to hit middle; and Keshav Maharaj dragged an ill-advised pull down on to leg. When Kagiso Rabada chipped limply to mid-off, the Port Elizabeth breeze was blowing only in one direction.



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England Women v West Indies Women 2020

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West Indies allrounders Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews believe that having a “strong mindset” proved pivotal in keeping themselves motivated through the Covid-19 pandemic-induced off season. It helped them overcome fears that “we wouldn’t have any women’s cricket for the rest of the year” after the T20 World Cup in Australia ended in early March.

The 2021 Women’s World Cup has been postponed by a year. That along with the cancellation of several bilateral women’s series, even after international men’s cricket resumed in July, threatened to leave the women’s calendar vacant for the rest of 2020, outside of Australia’s home series against New Zealand which begins September 26.

However, the ECB successfully drew up contingency plans to make up for India and South Africa’s withdrawal for tours in July-August by inviting West Indies. Their first T20I against England in Derby on Monday is set to mark the return of top-level women’s international cricket 196 days on from the T20 World Cup final at the MCG.

“The whole time in the pandemic I just thought that that was it for the year for women’s cricket,” Dottin, the West Indies vice-captain, told ESPNcricinfo. “I think this pandemic [has taught] that mentally you’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to have a strong mindset. It [is] something that you can’t easily give up.

“I actually thought we wouldn’t have any women’s cricket for the rest of the year. I just kept training and doing things here and there and kept motivating myself in all ways. I started playing cricket with my cousins, the boys, just to keep active and keep that work up: of playing cricket.”

Matthews echoed her team-mate’s apprehensions. She was, like Dottin, part of West Indies’ 2016 T20 World Cup-winning side. She has also been a sought-after name in domestic T20 competitions, plying her trade in the WBBL, the now-defunct KSL and the Women’s T20 Challenge.

ALSO READ: West Indies women in England: ‘Women’s cricket needs this’ – Stafanie Taylor

“It’s obviously something very challenging,” said Matthews, who will play for the Hobart Hurricanes in the WBBL later this year. “You have to have a strong mentality to go out there, still be training, and putting in all the hard work, not knowing if you’re going to be able to be playing again this year. I’m just really glad we are able to get back over again and that Cricket West Indies and ECB have [made that possible] for us to play.

“We also see the Women’s Big Bash League; it seems it’s going to come off as well. It’s really good to see these boards are stepping up at this point and get cricket played – not only for the men’s sides but the women’s sides as well.”

West Indies have lost (19) more times than they’ve won (17) in their 37 T20Is since their 2016 T20 World Cup victory. Like the side, Matthews, the Player of the final in that tournament, too, has struggled to replicate the abandon that became a hallmark of the side’s maiden world title triumph four years ago. In her last 15 T20I innings, she has reached 30 only thrice, her maiden T20I hundred in May last year included.

In the T20 World Cup earlier this year, Matthews, who opens for the side, made only 26 runs in three innings as eventual semi-finalists England knocked West Indies out in the league stage with a game to go. Their poor performance prompted then head coach Gus Logie to describe their performance in the world tournament as “timid” and possessing a “fear factor”.

Matthews, however, was hopeful the upcoming five-T20I series against England could be a starting point for West Indies to make up lost ground.

“Probably of late, the pressure [on us] has eased off a bit,” Matthews said. “If you look at our performances [from the recent past], because they probably weren’t the best, the expectations from us for a lot of people aren’t as high.

“I don’t necessarily say that as a bad thing, though. Coming back after the pandemic and being given the opportunity to start afresh, especially against a team like England, we’re going out there knowing we’re the underdogs. I think it kind of gives us that freedom to really be able to go out there and play our natural game and play freely and express ourselves as players and as a team as well.”

With Logie’s tenure having ended with the T20 World Cup, Andre Coley, who was West Indies women’s head coach in 2012, has stepped in an interim capacity. He’s overseeing the tourists’ 18-member squad, which will be based in a biosecure environment in Derby throughout the tour and is without Anisa Mohammed, the veteran offspinner who declined the invitation to tour, with uncapped Guyanese left-arm spinner Kaysia Schultz included.

Matthews, 22, underlined that the opposition’s lack of familiarity with the West Indian rookies could hold them in good stead as would the experience of the seasoned campaigners in the likes of captain Stafanie Taylor, legspinner Afy Fletcher, Dottin and herself.

“We have a lot of versatility,” Matthews said. “We have a lot of different players that have stepped in, including the new players. Obviously, there wouldn’t have been much footage on them out there and stuff, so it definitely brings something new to the table when we face up against England.

“We also have a lot of experience within the team: people have been playing for the last five, ten years now, so that makes our combination pretty good, and hopefully it will win us some games as well.”



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Former NZ batsman Craig McMillan not to join Bangladesh for Sri Lanka tour due to family tragedy

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Craig McMillan will be unable to take up his role as batting consultant for Bangladesh’s Test series against Sri Lanka due to a loss in the family. McMillan was supposed to join the team later this month to prepare for the three-match series which would have been Bangladesh’s first assignment since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out worldwide in March.

BCB’s chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury said on Saturday that McMillan had informed them of the tragedy, and that they recognise his predicament.

“Craig has communicated to us that his father has passed away recently and therefore it would not be possible for him to take up the batting consultant’s position of the national team for the upcoming tour at this moment of grief. We fully understand his situation. Our sympathies are with Craig and his family during this difficult time,” Chowdhury said.

ALSO READ: Sri Lanka Cricket proposes split quarantine to Bangladesh Cricket Board

McMillan had agreed to take up the role last month after spending five years as New Zealand’s all-format batting coach. He was to replace Neil McKenzie, who had worked with Bangladesh for two years in the same capacity before deciding against travelling during the pandemic.

If the Sri Lanka tour does go ahead, it would leave the BCB with very little time to replace McMillan ahead of their preparatory camp for the tour, which is likely to be split between Dhaka and Colombo in the coming weeks.

However, the series remains an uncertainty as the Sri Lankan health authorities haven’t agreed with the BCB’s offer to scale down the quarantine period for their players upon arrival in Sri Lanka.



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Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Surrey South Group 2020

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Surrey 143 for 1 (Evans 81*, Jacks 56*) beat Hampshire 138 for 8 (Holland 65, Topley 4-20) by nine wickets

Reece Topley returned to the Ageas Bowl to haunt depleted Hampshire as Surrey remained top of the Vitality Blast South Group with a nine-wicket win.

England white-ball international Topley returned career-best figures of 4 for 20 to restrict his former county to 138 for 8. Then, Will Jacks (56) cracked his third consecutive fifty and Laurie Evans clubbed 81 not out in a 118-run partnership for the second wicket, as already qualified Surrey all but booked a home quarter-final by easing to victory with 28 balls to spare.

Hampshire were forced to leave out four players who were self-isolating due to coming into contact with an individual with Covid symptoms.

The players, along with members of the coaching staff, are awaiting test results and should they come back negative, will be in contention to face Middlesex on Sunday.

A Hampshire statement said: “On the advice of our medical team a number of players have been withdrawn from today’s squad.

“This is as a precautionary measure and they are self-isolating while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test after coming into contact with an individual who has reported symptoms.”

As a result, they named an unexperienced XI which included Felix Organ, Tom Scriven, Calvin Harrison and Scott Currie – who had previously made six T20 appearances between them.

Hampshire, who had lost their last five matches in the Blast, then lost the toss and lost a wicket first ball, having been stuck in.

Topley spent three injury-plagued seasons at the Ageas Bowl, but returned with a bang as he splattered George Munsey’s stumps with his first delivery.

Organ drove and pulled a pair of boundaries before he was stumped off Jacks to leave the hosts on 11 for 2.

Surrey’s leading Blast wicket-taker Dan Moriarty then left Hampshire reeling at 50 for 4 with two quick wickets.

The left-arm spinner had James Vince, who had threatened to break free with 27, stumped before Tom Scriven was lbw, Moriarty returning figures of 2 for 19.

Just as Hampshire looked set to repeat their showing against Essex, Ian Holland and James Fuller combined to take their side towards respectability with a stand of 75.

USA international Holland’s previous format best was an unbeaten 36 against Sussex earlier in the campaign, but led the recovery with an impressive 65.

His innings was shaped by clever running but it was his clean three sixes – two straight and other picked up over mid-wicket – which caught the eye as he reached his half-century off 38 balls with a swept four.

After Fuller had stepped on his own wicket for 19, Topley returned to make sure Surrey regained control in the death overs.

The left armer had Holland caught at short third man and Harrison lbw in successive balls, before Currie drilled to Rory Burns at extra cover.

Needing 139 to win, Surrey lost Jason Roy in the fourth over, caught at mid-off to hand Organ his maiden T20 wicket.

But Jacks, on the back of scores of 55 and 65 against Middlesex and Sussex, barely flinched as he scored freely, crashing six fours and a six over midwicket in his 29-ball fifty.

With Lewis McManus undergoing surgery for appendicitis, Vince took the gloves but was not overly used as the ball rarely beat the bat.

While Jacks seemingly slowed down, Evans moved through his innings with a crescendo, with a six whipped off his legs and a driven slash taking him to his half-century in 34 deliveries.

The Jacks and Evans partnership moved past 100 in 66 balls, before they knocked off the remaining runs in rapid style – with back-to-back sixes off Harrison completing a sixth straight Surrey victory.



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