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Atul Bedade suspended as Baroda women coach

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Baroda has indefinitely suspended Atul Bedade, the head coach of the state’s women’s team, pending an inquiry into allegations including those of sexual harassment.

A letter from the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) to Bedade, which has been viewed by ESPNcricinfo, didn’t list specific allegations against him, but noted their nature: “Personal comments on physicality”, “Comments that discourage the morale of team members”, “Angry outbursts unbecoming of a women’s team coach and using unparliamentary language that is not accepted of a person in-charge”, and “Behaviour oblivious of gender sensitivity”.

Ajit Lele, the BCA secretary, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that the association’s apex committee would form a probe committee to look into the allegations against Bedade. With the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic putting cricket operations on hold globally, it is not yet certain when the probe committee will be formed.

The 53-year-old Bedade, who played 13 ODIs for India in the 1990s, took over as the Baroda women coach in April 2019.

ESPNcricinfo has reached out to Bedade for comment, and will update this story should he provide one. Meanwhile, Sportstar has quoted him as saying he is “not in a position to comment on the matter. I have just received the suspension letter this evening and it’s surprising.”



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Play late: West Indies’ template to succeed in England

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Playing late. Kraigg Brathwaite pithily explained it is the best way to succeed in England as a batsman. Brathwaite’s 65 was his first half-century in 21 innings. On the previous tour of England in 2017, along with Shai Hope, Brathwaite was West Indies’ best batsman. But no one remembers what Brathwaite did in the three years since then. Technical errors piled up as the runs turned into drip feed.

On Friday, Brathwaite showed West Indies the way. He set the template of how to bat in England. Shane Dowrich and Roston Chase followed Brathwaite’s counsel to put West Indies in a position of control if not complete command of this first Test.

The challenge for West Indies was whether their batsmen could bat out the entire day to gain a significant lead. West Indies had done that twice against England in 2019, in two of the three Tests, but that was at home. Overseas, only once since 2017 have West Indies managed to bat out a day (minimum 80 overs) without losing 10 wickets away from home – against India in Hyderabad three years ago.

Luckily for the visitors the weather forecast for the last three days of this Test was sunny – the best time to make runs. Brathwaite and Hope ticked the first requirement – see off the first hour. They played out 15 overs, denying James Anderson, Jofra Archer Mark Wood and England captain Ben Stokes the luxury of taking the upper hand they are normally accustomed to.

It was Brathwaite who looked at ease more than Hope. Brathwaite played the ball as late as possible, in his own words, under his eye line. And as Brian Lara had advised, Brathwaite protected his wicket. Watchful he was, but he was also keeping the scoreboard ticking. Talking with the host broadcaster Sky Sports, Brathwaite said he had made a few technical changes including opening up his stance to counter mainly the incoming delivery, which is prevalent in English conditions.

At the other end Hope was stacking up the dots: he had as many as 25 dot balls in his first 30. As he scratched for runs, Archer tested Hope’s patience. In his fourth over Archer attacked Hope on the off stump. Hope had picked a four off his fellow Barbadian, but that was a leading edge which he had attempted originally to respond to by closing the face of the bat.

Hope tried that again, attempting to push towards the leg side, to a delivery Archer pitched slightly fuller on the length, just outside off stump. He got rapped on the pads and it looked plumb. Hope asked for the review after brief discussion with Brathwaite. Luckikly for him Archer had bowled a no ball.

The relief, if any, was short-lived. In the next over, Hope played with hard hands at a ball that was drifting away from Dom Bess and Stokes picked up an easy catch at slip.

ALSO READ: Brathwaite, Dowrich steer WI into commanding position

His replacement, Shamarh Brooks, did everything that Hope failed to: he played with an assurance and freedom of mind. It transferred the pressure on to the bowler. It also allowed Brathwaite to relax as he picked two fours off Stokes before he was unlucky with the umpire’s call in the same over.

If Brooks went on the front foot before lunch, after the break he was pushed to play on the back foot as Anderson pushed the length slightly back and found a hint of movement. Brooks became circumspect and was soon caught behind.

Jermaine Blackwood left the Caribbean saying he would “bat as long as possible” in England to erase that fraught assessment pundits had formed of him: as a “ball beater”. Off his third ball, he attempted to loft Anderson over his head, but had to check his drive at the last minute. Anderson would soon deliver him a maiden over. Blackwood was restless. A short time later, when Bess came on, Blackwood indulged in over-confidence: he charged the offspinner to hole out straight to Anderson at wide mid-off. Bess, Stokes and England let out a guffaw as a disgruntled Blackwood rapped his pads.

ALSO READ: Blackwood ‘more determined, more focused after being dropped’

The visitors were once again learning one of Test cricket’s key lessons: an advantage can slip from the hand like a fistful of sand.

Luckily for them, Chase was guarding one end sensibly in the afternoon. For company he had an able hand in Dowrich. Like Brathwaite, Chase played time initially. He was happy to defend or leave out as many deliveries as possible. But it was part of the plan. To blunt the bowler’s plans, to be watchful before scoring freely. In his 142-ball innings, Chase defended nearly half the deliveries (68). He barely scored 20 runs in the second session without once looking impatient.

England took the second new ball in the first over after tea. First ball, from Anderson, Chase punched a firm cover drive, a four, his best stroke of the day. When Archer pitched a hit-me ball on his legs, Chase obliged with a flicked four. The new cherry was losing its shine quickly as West Indies bulilt the lead.

Chase was comfortable now dealing the testing lines of Anderson – in the channel – and the rib-ticklers form Archer. That is what happens when batsmen talk about the importance of playing time – they get settled in their mind, the impulsive strokes recede, their eyes zoom in on the bowler’s wrist and shine, their feet move according to the delivery. Everything goes like clockwork.

Dowrich, too, assumed the go-steady template after picking two fours in his first three deliveries against Bess, both played on the front foot, both punched with conviction – one a straight drive and the next through covers. Some might have got the early feeling that Dowrich wanted to take Bess out of the attack. Numbers negate that perception: according to ESPNcricinfo’s bbb data, of the 115 deliveries he played today, Dowrich showed aggressive intent only on eight occasions.

Similarly, Chase showed aggressive intent only seven times during his 194-minute vigil, same as Brathwaite, who lasted 125 balls. Dowrich, Chase and Brathwaite were the only three batsmen who played out more than 100 deliveries in West Indies’ innings. The bbb data also shows those were the only three batsmen with high in-control numbers: Chase (82), Brathwaite (80) and Dowrich (71).

Brathwaite, Dowrich and Chase were the only three batsmen who showed the discipline that West Indies had talked about in the lead up to the series. They failed to convert their starts into big scores, but they showed the likes of Hope, Brook and Blackwood the importance of patience.



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Recent Match Report – England vs West Indies 1st Test 2020

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England 204 and 15 for 0 (Sibley 5*, Burns 10*) trail West Indies 314 (Brathwaite 65, Dowrich 61, Stokes 4-49) by 99 runs

Battling half-centuries from Kraigg Brathwaite and Shane Dowrich put West Indies into a commanding position on the third day at the Ageas Bowl, before England’s openers withstood a superb spell of new-ball bowling to cut the deficit to double figures.

Jason Holder said on the second evening that the first hour would help set the tone for the rest of the day, and Brathwaite and Shai Hope continued where they had left off on a sunny morning, dropping anchor and putting miles into the legs of England’s seamers. While James Anderson and Ben Stokes eventually made breakthroughs, West Indies followed the template for batting in England, leaving and defending watchfully and putting away the occasional bad balls to give themselves a first-innings lead of 114.

Questions will continue to be asked about England’s team selection and their decision to bat first, not least after Stuart Broad’s candid comments immediately before the start of play. Mark Wood and Jofra Archer had been asked to bring express pace and both did so, regularly passing the 90mph/145kph mark on the speed gun, but were set to go wicketless until Wood castled No. 11 Shannon Gabriel.

But credit should mainly go to the West Indian batsmen, who managed to build partnerships regularly. There had been lingering doubts throughout the build-up to the series about their ability to occupy the crease for long periods of time, which were largely dispelled as the majority of the middle order managed to soak up balls in the middle.

Hope had dug in valiantly on the second evening, fending off a short-ball barrage from Wood, but struggled for any kind of fluency in the morning session. It remains one of the great mysteries how he can look so settled at the crease in an ODI shirt and yet endure such a poor run in Test cricket since the 2017 tour. He got a life when Archer trapped him lbw only to have overstepped, but fell an over later, slashing ill-advisedly at Dom Bess‘ offspin and being caught at slip.

Brathwaite, playing the ball late and ticking the strike over where he could, dug in to bring up a first half-century in almost two years before lunch. He could have considered himself unfortunate when given out lbw to a nip-backer from Stokes at the end of an over in which he had already hit three boundaries; he reviewed the decision after a long think, but it was upheld after the ball was shown to be clipping the stumps and umpire’s call on impact.

But while England had faltered in struggling to build partnerships, West Indies flourished. Shamarh Brooks, in his first Test innings outside India, got up and running with four early boundaries – two off Jofra Archer, two off Bess – while Roston Chase defended well and drove firmly whenever England pitched the ball up to him.

Brooks looked certain to push on towards a meaningful score when he feathered an edge through to Jos Buttler, which brought Jermaine Blackwood to the crease. Blackwood had insisted he was a more patient and focused batsman than his previous incarnation, but looked his usual frenetic self during his brief stay, charging Bess and slashing him to Anderson at mid-off for 12.

Dowrich joined Chase to take West Indies through to tea, scoring freely to start his innings before settling into a steadier rhythm. The pair put on 81, the game’s highest partnership to date, either side of the interval as England strained for a wicket, but Wood failed to find much bite on a slow pitch. It was Anderson who eventually broke through with the new ball, trapping Chase in front on review, but by that point West Indies’ lead had begun to look commanding.

After trying to rouse his troops after tea, Stokes eventually realised he would have to do things by himself. Jason Holder had landed the first punch in the battle of the allrounders yesterday, but Stokes fought back with a sharp bouncer which his opposite number flapped down to long leg, and Alzarri Joseph’s enterprising cameo came to an end as Stokes nipped one through him and struck the top of off to reach 150 Test wickets.

He got the key wicket of Dowrich, who had battled well for his 61, when a back-of-a-length ball flicked the back of his bat on the way through to Buttler, before Wood cleaned up Gabriel to leave West Indies with a first-innings lead of 114.

The final 10 overs of the day were gripping. After being bowled while leaving the ball in the first innings, Dom Sibley shuffled his stance across towards the off side, and was given a working-over by Gabriel and Kemar Roach in the channel, but he survived until the close, nudging a single down to long leg off the final ball to take the deficit below 100.



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Need-for-speed calls are answered, but Ben Stokes turns to James Anderson

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For years, whenever England have struggled in the field, the call has been for pace. Whether struggling for penetration at Chennai or Lord’s or Adelaide, the suggestion has always been that, with a bit more pace, England would be able to extract more life from the surface and have the ingredient their attack has been lacking.

Well, here they had plenty of pace. Indeed, Mark Wood produced what is thought to be the quickest display of bowling by an England player across an innings at home in the past 15 years. And what did it earn him? One tailend wicket for 74 runs.

He wasn’t alone, either. Jofra Archer, we know, can bowl as fast as anyone. And while here he tended to concentrate on control – this surface hasn’t offered a great deal of help for pace – there were still some quick deliveries across his 22 overs. He finished wicketless.

It was telling that Ben Stokes, like so many England captains before him, relied on James Anderson to deliver the most overs. Anderson is 37 now and generally operates at a speed just above 80 mph. But, such is his control and skill, he remains the most dangerous bowler more often than not. And while he was not, by his high standards, quite at his best, he still delivered 11 maidens in his 25 overs. England’s three other seamers delivered 10 between them.

“Just as England’s football team rarely found a way to accommodate Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the same side, their cricket team might find the best use of Wood and Archer is by rotating them?”

It’s no coincidence that the most successful bowler in the match to date, Jason Holder, operates at a similar pace to Anderson. He derived his success by pitching the ball a bit fuller than the England bowlers and extracting movement – especially swing – that the hosts could not replicate.

But England have longed for this pace. For years they have been on the wrong end of attacks containing quality fast bowlers. Now, at last, they have some firepower of their own and they couldn’t resist the temptation to play them. They were like the man taking his new sports car out in the snow; or desperate to use his new skis in mid-summer. They haven’t exactly picked the wrong attack. But they might have picked the wrong attack for the conditions.

England’s hearts probably sank when they opened their curtains on Friday morning. After batting in grim, overcast conditions, they were greeted by the sort of bright, sunny morning that suggested batting could be easier. But that is the risk you take when you choose to bat first in the gloom and England would have hoped to have an attack to cope with most conditions.

As it transpired, it looked just a little ill-balanced. Another old-school England seamer – the likes of Matthew Hoggard, perhaps, or even Chris Rushworth or Alan Richardson – might have proved the perfect foil to Anderson. It’s surely too early to jump to conclusions but maybe, just as England’s football team rarely found a way to accommodate Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the same side, their cricket team might find the best use of Wood and Archer is by rotating them?

There will be those who suggest Stuart Broad would have made all the difference. And it is true that Broad, at this stage of his career, with his determination to make batsmen play, might have been well-suited to this surface. But we have to be careful not to make the same mistake we have with pace: presume that quick and easy solutions would make all the difference. Broad has, no doubt, had a magnificent career. But in his most recent 28 home Tests – that’s a period going back almost five years – he has taken only one five-wicket haul.

ALSO READ: Broad ‘frustrated’ and ‘angry’ at Test omission

England also have to be careful not to over compensate in Manchester. If conditions there look as if they may favour pace above seam – and they may well – it will probably pay to stick with these bowlers. Their fault may have been playing an attack ideally suited for Brisbane in Southampton.

There are other options within the England squad, too. For all Broad’s virtues, he is another right-arm fast medium bowler. Sam Curran, with his left-arm angle and ability to swing the ball, might offer more variation. You could, at a push, even make a case for playing him in place of one of the batsmen. His Test batting average (27.34) is only about two below that of Joe Denly (29.55).

But whoever plays, whatever their pace, they have to bowl with more accuracy than England managed here. It wasn’t that they were awful, by any means. But compared to the West Indies’ bowlers, they were just a little short, just a little leg side and just a little unable to build or sustain pressure.

“Obviously you need control,” Anderson said. “We saw West Indies bowl well. They had a couple of bowlers who offered control in Holder and Roach and that gave the quicker guys the freedom to bowl fast. You need a balance.”

In many ways, Wood’s performance was admirable. His pace hardly dropped in his 22 overs. Right to the end, he was passing 90 mph regularly. But by bowling too short, he failed to generate the movement that proved so dangerous for Holder. On a different surface – maybe the surface in Manchester; maybe even the fourth-innings surface here – Wood will be a huge asset.

Archer, too, was only slightly off his game. He squandered one wicket through overstepping – an infuriating waste, really – and also strayed on to the batsmen’s legs more often than he will like. But his real issue was struggling to generate the movement that might have been expected of him.

And, while England may feel they allowed West Indies to get a few above par, it probably was only a few. England’s first innings score of 204 has, not for the first time, asked a little too much of their bowlers. In both innings, a score of around 250 might be considered par.

In truth, West Indies have so far batted and bowled better than England. Kraigg Brathwaite played later and straighter than England’s top order while Shane Dowrich, despite never looking comfortable against the short ball, battled hard in contributing a vital half-century. The discipline and skill with which they evaded the short ball has perhaps made England’s bowling effort seem rather less good than it was.

So this was a slightly dispiriting start to life with Wood and Archer in tandem. But there will be other surfaces, many of them, when the pair are the perfect solution. But just because you’ve bought a fine new hat, it doesn’t mean you need to wear it in the shower.



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