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West Indies to tour Sri Lanka in February for three ODIs, two T20Is



West Indies will tour Sri Lanka in February for three ODIs and two T20Is, Sri Lanka Cricket has confirmed. West Indies are expected to arrive in Sri Lanka on February 10, and they will play two warm-up games on February 17 and 20, before the first ODI on February 22.

The first of the two warm-up matches will be an unofficial encounter at the P. Sara Oval, while the second game against a Board President’s XI at Katunayake will mark the official start of the tour.

Apart from the warm-ups, only one of the five limited-overs contests will take place in Colombo. The SSC will host the first ODI, which will be a day game; usually limited-overs matches in Colombo take place at the Khettarama stadium, however the stadium is still undergoing renovations.

The second ODI – a day-night encounter – on February 26 will then see the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Hambantota host its first match in almost three years, the last being an ODI between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in July 2017.

The final ODI on March 1 will move the action to Kandy, where the teams will stay for the start of the T20I series on March 4. The second and final T20I will be held on March 6. All three matches in Kandy will be hosted at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

Sri Lanka have played nine T20Is against West Indies, winning six of them, while their last 10 ODI encounters against the same opponents have seen eight wins and two losses. However, the teams have only faced each other once in limited-overs cricket since 2016 – a dead rubber at the 2019 World Cup that saw Sri Lanka come away 23-run winners.

The last bilateral series between the sides was in 2018 when Sri Lanka played three Tests in West Indies, drawing the series 1-1. West Indies last toured Sri Lanka in 2015, where they lost the ODI series 3-0 and drew the T20Is 1-1.

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Recent Match Report – Surrey vs Middlesex South Group 2020



Surrey 218 for 5 (Jacks 55, Amla 67) beat Middlesex 188 for 5 (Eskinazi 77) by 30 runs

For a while, it seemed a blessing in disguise that this match, Middlesex’s final Lord’s appearance of a truncated season, was taking place behind closed doors. Certainly, for those fans tuning in via the club’s livestream, the first half did not make for pretty viewing. In the end it was simply a shame that a giddy, run-filled evening was not accompanied by a full house roaring on the home side’s bid at a record chase against their cross-town rivals.

Ultimately, they would have gone home disappointed, as Surrey, resurgent after four wins in a row, held their nerve to claim back-to-back London derby bragging rights and power their way to the top of the South Group on net run-rate. Fourth-placed Middlesex have three games remaining, all away from home, in which to hoist themselves back into contention.

That Middlesex ensured their supporters had not switched off from following online long before the closing stages was largely down to the efforts of Stevie Eskinazi, whose 77 from 44 balls lifted him to the top of the Blast run-scorers list. Joe Cracknell, on Blast debut, signalled his ability by cracking Jamie Overton on to the roof of the scorers’ box at deep midwicket – leaving a visible dent just below Father Time – during a spirited outing at No. 3, while John Simpson and Eskinazi combined to add 65 in 5.4 overs but Surrey always remained just out of reach.

Will Jacks, who had produced a smash-and-grab half-century to fire Surrey with the bat, burgled his way through four overs for 23 – by far the most economical return of the night – and left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty produced another impressive showing in his debut season. When Overton turned in his follow through to run Eskinazi out, with 61 needed from 18 balls, the jig was up.

“We’re really happy. [It’s a] London derby, we’ve been playing well coming in, and we knew a win could take us top,” Jacks said. “It was a really important game with a couple of teams on our tail. We’ve been gradually improving, got a few wins under our belt and this was a really good performance.”

Having successfully defended a total of 142 at this ground on Saturday, it was a curiosity that Middlesex on this occasion decided to chase, albeit on a hybrid pitch that played well throughout. Pretty soon it was their bowlers receiving a chasing, as Hashim Amla stroked his first and fourth balls to the boundary, 10 runs coming off Tom Helm’s opening over. Amla and Jacks, velvet glove and iron fist, had soon jounced along to 59 without loss from the Powerplay and the tone of the innings was set.

Jacks demonstrated his clean-striking with sixes over extra cover off both Tim Murtagh and Helm and it was not until the eight over that Middlesex managed to get through an over without conceding a boundary. Luke Hollman did not get off lightly, however, as his next saw Jacks begin a trend for losing the ball by planting successive deliveries into the building site at the Nursery End. Not so much under construction as demolition job, the second a straight hit over the sightscreen to bring up a 26-ball fifty.

It was Amla and Jacks who propelled Surrey to their first win of the season (after five defeats, a no-result and a tie), against Hampshire at The Oval 11 days ago, and they extended their opening stand into three figures before the latter picked out long-off to give Nathan Sowter the breakthrough – Hollman clutching the ball gratefully at the second attempt.

Amla, magic in the old wand still, skipped out to loft Hollman, Middlesex’s highly-regarded young leggie, just beyond the rope at extra cover to move to his own half-century, from 37 balls. The former South Africa opener swept Sowter, normally Middlesex’s thriftiest bowler during the middle overs, for six more in the 14th but was then bowled aiming a less-cultured hack later in the same over.

Still Surrey kept coming, England Test opener Rory Burns dinging another ball into the concrete and necessitating a replacement as Martin Andersson was left with figures of 0.1 for 11 after his first two deliveries were deemed no-balls. Andersson’s over eventually cost 21 but none of the Middlesex attack was left unscathed, with only Murtagh and Hollman managing to go at less than 10 an over.

Steven Finn had probably long begun to question the wisdom of bowling first when he ran in to deliver the final over. Overton pulverised 21 runs, including perhaps the biggest blow of the night into the hospitality boxes in the Grandstand (where it will likely remain until next March) as Surrey streaked past 200 and on to their joint second-highest total in London derbies. Had it been a possibility, they would have gone a long way to silencing the crowd.

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Recent Match Report – Yorkshire vs Lancashire North Group 2020



Lancashire 148 for 4 (Vilas 44*) beat Yorkshire 145 for 9 (Wood 3-21, Parkinson 3-25) by six wickets

Lancashire took advantage of Yorkshire’s lack of four senior players due to a coronavirus-related issue to seal a commanding six-wicket Vitality Blast win at Headingley, taking a significant step towards the quarter-finals.

The Vikings were without Matthew Fisher, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Josh Poysden and captain David Willey, and they now have a mountain to climb to qualify for the last eight. The club released a brief statement, saying that the players had “been withdrawn from tonight’s squad in accordance with Covid guidance” and adding that results of a Covid test would determine their future availability.

Yorkshire actually made an excellent start, reaching 62 for 1 after six overs having elected to bat before stumbling to 145 for 9 after 20 overs, with Matt Parkinson and Luke Wood taking three cheap wickets apiece.

The Lightning, far from their best in the field and with the bat, then chased down the target in nervy fashion at times. They recovered from 77 for 4 in the ninth over as captain Dane Vilas top-scored with 44 not out off 36 balls, winning with 13 balls to spare.

They have consolidated second spot in the North Group with a fourth win, moving to 10 points – two behind leaders Nottinghamshire. More importantly, they are four points ahead of Yorkshire on six points in fourth.

Both teams have three games remaining, including Thursday’s return clash at Emirates Old Trafford. The top two teams from the three groups qualify for the quarters, as do the two best third-placed teams.

After a racing start, Yorkshire’s innings fell away through the middle, with legspinner Parkinson striking twice in his first three balls to remove Dawid Malan and former England Under-19s allrounder George Hill.

The Vikings slipped from 78 for 1 in the ninth over to 87 for 4 in the 11th, with stand-in captain Adam Lyth also falling for an innings-high 36 having been dropped twice.

With no Willey and Kohler-Cadmore, Yorkshire’s batting order was particularly inexperienced, with academy batsman James Wharton, aged 19, making his first-team debut.

Lyth and new opening partner Harry Brook took 15 off each of the first two overs, both pulling huge sixes into the Western Terrace.

Brook was the first wicket to go in the third, brilliantly caught by a diving Tom Hartley running around from short third man off Wood – 30 for 1.

Malan, a reserve player in England’s bubble for the ODI series against Australia, was released to make his Yorkshire T20 debut and played confidently as the hosts reached 62 for 1 after six overs.

However, after Lyth was stumped off Hartley’s left-arm spin, Malan was the first of the two wickets to fall in Parkinson’s first over when he was caught at deep mid-wicket on the slog sweep. Two balls later, Hill chipped to cover.

Wickets continued to fall in excellent batting conditions as spin dragged things back for a somewhat lucky Lightning side who dropped a trio of catches – two from Tom Bailey.

Wharton, like Hill, was caught at cover off Parkinson – 104 for 5 in the 15th – before Mat Pillans was stumped off Liam Livingstone’s legspin almost two overs later as the score fell to 121 for 6.

Left-arm seamer Wood then snapped a run of five wickets to spin when he struck twice in the 17th over, getting Jordan Thompson lbw and Will Fraine caught behind for 24 – 124 for 8. Danny Lamb got Ben Coad in the last over of the innings.

Coad then conceded six wides with the first two balls of the Lancashire reply before Pillans and Thompson removed openers Livingstone and Davies. Livingstone was caught behind and Davies holed out to deep square leg as the score fell to 35 for 2 in the fourth.

Lancashire maintained a healthy run-rate, only to lose Steven Croft, run out following a mix-up with Vilas, and Josh Bohannon, bowled via inside-edge by Coad, in successive overs – 77 for 4 in the ninth.

But Vilas and Rob Jones steadied the ship with Lancashire’s best fifth-wicket partnership in the history of this fixture, an unbeaten 71 inside 10 overs.

Jones hit a six over long-on in a career best 38 off 35 balls and hit the winning runs to ensure the Lightning are now unbeaten in this fixture since August 2017.

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England v Australia, 3rd ODI



Jofra Archer has indicated he may pull out of this winter’s Big Bash League in Australia, after acknowledging that the “mental challenge” of life in England’s bio-secure bubble may, at times, have had a compromising effect on his performances.

Archer, the player of the match on Sunday as England levelled the ODI series against Australia, has spent longer in the bubble – 87 days, in all – than any other player this summer.

In that time, he had a four-day rest period between the two Test series and a further five days during the T20I series against Pakistan, but he was also required to spend a week in isolation in his hotel room at Emirates Old Trafford following an unauthorised visit to his home in Brighton after the first Test against West Indies.

While he did, at times, bowl unusually quickly in the Tests against West Indies and Pakistan, he wasn’t quite able to make the same impact as he has regularly when performing for England’s white-ball teams.

The amount of overs bowled in each format is one obvious explanation. Archer has bowled at least 39 overs in six of the 11 Tests he has played and makes the reasonable observation that he cannot sustain the pace over that number of overs that he can over four or 10. Equally, in white-ball cricket Archer is given a new ball and entrusted with bowling at key moments throughout the innings; in Test cricket this year, he has generally had to be content with playing a supporting role to James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

But alongside that, Archer has also acknowledged that “a change of scenery or a change of personnel” may have refreshed him ahead of the white-ball matches after admitting he felt as if he had “hit a wall” at times during the summer.

Numerous players, from relatively inexperienced ones such as Ollie Pope to vastly experienced ones like James Anderson, have described the challenges of living in the bubble for an extended period of time. The proximity to the pitch – most players have rooms looking out onto the playing surface – has, they have said, made it hard to switch off from the game and resulted in increased anxiety and weariness.

“I’ll tell you, it has been mentally challenging,” Archer said. “We’ve been in here for 16 weeks or something like that. I think it is going to be more rare going home or being normal again. Here has become the new norm. We’ll just have to adjust again when we get some time off.

“The time I spend bowling with the white ball is a lot less than in Test cricket. You can’t run in the whole day. It is actually impossible to run in the whole day bowling at 90mph. If you can show me someone who does it then fair play. I’ve not seen any bowler who bowls 90mph do it for a whole day.

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“It might be different environments as well. A change of scenery or a change of personnel. You do sometimes feel like you hit a wall. Sometimes you just need to relax or just need to switch your mind off for a few days.

“I honestly don’t know what it is but if you’re in a good frame of mind I feel you’ll probably bowl a bit faster. On Sunday, I didn’t feel as though I was bowling that fast. At times I felt I’ve bowled faster. For me as long as I feel good, I don’t care what speed I’m bowling at.”

For Archer, at least, the bubble life looks set to continue for a while yet. Along with the other England and Australia players contracted to IPL teams, he will fly to the UAE on Thursday – the day after the final ODI of the summer – on a specially charted flight. From there, he could be facing more time in lockdown if England, as planned, visit South Africa for a limited-overs tour in November and then visit India – or the UAE – for an all-format tour in the new year. There is every chance the 2021 English season may have to be played in similar conditions, too.

As a result, he has confirmed he does not anticipate taking part in the BBL this year and indicated a hope to take some time off before Christmas.

“I’ll be honest with you. I’m not sure how many more bubbles I’ve got left in me for the rest of the year,” Archer continued. “I haven’t seen my family really since February and it’s September now. The IPL is going to take up most of October. In November we go to South Africa; well, hopefully we go to South Africa. That only leaves me with a few weeks in December for the rest of the year.

“I love my Hobart [BBL] family but I think I need to spend some time with my real family as well. When the year turns, we’re going to be back in a bubble in the UAE and India or somewhere. Family time is really important especially when you’re in the bubble and you can’t see them physically. So any time I get I try to spend with them.”

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