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Chandrakant Pandit moves from Vidarbha to MP as head coach

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Chandrakant Pandit, the former India player and one of the most successful coaches in Indian domestic cricket, has decided to move from Vidarbha to Madhya Pradesh for the 2020-21 season. Pandit had coached Vidarbha to back-to-back triumphs in the Ranji Trophy and Irani Trophy in 2017-18 and 2018-19, having earlier achieved Ranji Trophy success with Mumbai too.

Pandit, who has also been in charge of Maharashtra and Kerala in the past, said he would always have fond memories of his time with Vidarbha and the support he received from the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA), but it was time for him to embrace a new challenge.

“I have coached Vidarbha for three years. Normally I always do my coaching stints for two years or three years. The idea is to always move forward. It’s good to take a new challenge,” Pandit told ESPNcricinfo. “There is no doubt I was very happy with Vidarbha – the way the team has played, the way I got support from the association. From Prashant Vaidya (VCA vice-president and chairman of the cricket development committee) and Anand Jaiswal (VCA president). So it is not anything else, but just to move forward and take a new challenge. I was very happy with Vidarbha. I respect the support I received, and that will always be part of my life.

“I had played for MP for six years in the past. So when they contacted, I accepted. Because I was not going to continue with Vidarbha. It was purely my call, nothing untoward (had happened).”

This year, MP were coached by Abbas Ali – the grandson of Mushtaq Ali – with Devendra Bundela being the batting coach and Harvinder Singh Sodhi, who has been the coach of the team previously, doubling up as bowling coach and manager.

An official with the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association said that it was too early to take a call on whether any of last season’s coaches would continue to be with the team, but confirmed that Pandit had been given a letter of intent to be the MP coach from next season. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown in India, Pandit has not been able to sign the contract formally yet.

ALSO READ: Chandrakant Pandit: Less of a general, more of a 12th man

“We’ll have to wait till things improve definitely,” Pandit acknowledged. “Ultimately it’s for the good of everyone (staying indoors for now). We have to take care of that. I’ll definitely be contacting players and drawing up plans. It’s like people who are working from home, I’ll have to do that for now till things get better. I’ll have to start planning for the MP team. Though I may not be able to get in touch with the players personally, but definitely, communication with the association, the secretary is there. I can put forward my plans so they can be ready with that. I’ve been talking to them and they have already told me that let things get better and then we’ll start. At the same time I’ll be trying to figure out what are the things I can do.”

Pandit’s departure from Vidarbha comes on the heels of Wasim Jaffer also announcing his retirement, leaving a bit of a void in terms of experience in the Vidarbha think-tank. Pandit, however, was confident that the processes put in place would hold the team in good stead.

“See whatever we have done in the last three years, we have developed a good, young team,” he said. “There was very healthy competition created. So I hope they maintain that and continue it. I’m sure the young boys coming through – the Under-23 side has won the CK Nayudu Trophy – they will be able to take it forward with whoever takes charge.

Vidarbha had come into this Ranji Trophy season as double defending champions, but although they began well, they faltered midway through, and ended up finishing seventh on the combined Groups A and B table, where only the top five teams make it to the quarter-finals. A loss against Delhi in the middle of the season hurt them particularly. Vidarbha declared on 330 for 3, with the lead being 347, to set Delhi a steep chase. It was a declaration made with the intent of going for full points rather than playing safe and getting only first-innings lead points, but Delhi had an inspired fourth-innings chase led by Nitish Rana’s 105* off 68 balls and they hunted down the target.



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Fees waived as recreational cricket feels coronavirus strain

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The ECB has urged county boards to waive affiliation fees for clubs up and down the land.

Despite the ECB announcing that no cricket – recreational or professional – will be played until the end of May at the earliest, several clubs reported attempts to chase up payments of the fees in recent days.

The fees are required from all clubs affiliated to the ECB and historically this process is managed and collected by the local cricket board or league rather than the ECB, with a focus on monitoring the safeguarding procedures that are in place for clubs. They range in value from around £40 to over £100 depending on what is provided by the Cricket Board as part of the payment.

ALSO READ: Losing entire summer would cost over £300m – ECB chief executive

In a conference call to the boards on Wednesday, it is understood the ECB recommended that cricket boards look to support clubs financially in any way they can.

While many clubs will have paid well ahead of the season, thought will also be given to a tiered level of rebate depending on how much cricket is possible in the coming months.

Although the issue is largely symbolic – one club told ESPNcricinfo their fee was just £10 – the move reinforces the ECB’s core message in recent days: everyone in the game, at every level, is in this together.

Last Friday, the ECB confirmed that its age-group programmes – All Stars and Dynamos Cricket – would remain suspended indefinitely.

Clubs were also sent guidance that loan repayments as part of the interest-free loan scheme, which provides capital for development projects, have been suspended until May 2021. That measure forms part of the ECB’s £61 million package to ensure cricket in England and Wales can overcome the biggest challenge it has faced in the modern era.



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Former New Zealand batsman Daniel Flynn announces retirement

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Daniel Flynn, the former New Zealand and Northern Districts left-hand batsman, has called time on his 16-year-long career, at age 34.

In an international career spanning a little over five years, Flynn played 24 Tests, 20 ODIs, and five T20Is, making a combined 1325 runs, including six half-centuries. He batted almost three hours in the second innings of his debut Test at Lord’s, his 118-ball 29 helping New Zealand salvage a draw. The early days of his international career are also remembered for him walking off Old Trafford with a mouthful of blood and two fewer teeth as a result of a vicious James Anderson bouncer that he copped during the opening day’s play. His last international appearance came in July 2013, during a Test match against South Africa where he made a pair.

Flynn played 135 first-class matches and scored 7815 runs, including 21 centuries, at an average of 35.04. He featured in 100 first-class matches for Northern Districts, leading them in 47 of them, aside from making 88 and a record 104 appearances for them in List A and T20 matches respectively. His 20 first-class hundreds for Northern Districts are the most by any batsman from the side.

Reflecting on his career, Flynn said: “Representing your country is the ultimate for any cricketer; it’s what you dream of as a kid, so to have achieved it is something I look back on with immense satisfaction.

“The people I’ve played alongside throughout my career stand out for me; they’re not just good cricketers, but good people, who I’ve learned plenty from both on and off the field.

“Winning trophies for ND alongside these guys was always special, and those are memories that I will never forget.”



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Tony Lewis, of Duckworth-Lewis rain-rules fame, dies aged 78

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Tony Lewis, the former university lecturer whose name will forever be synonymous with cricket’s convoluted Duckworth-Lewis rain rules, has died at the age of 78.

An unlikely star of world cricket, Lewis was propelled to fame in 1999 when his complex formula, devised in conjunction with his fellow mathematician Frank Duckworth, was officially adopted by the ICC to help calculate fair run-chases in the event of overs being lost to rain during that summer’s World Cup.

The impact that the two men had on the sport is best illustrated by the problems that rain delays had caused until they came forward with their algorithmic solution in the mid-1990s. Their calculations may have baffled generations of cricket lovers over the past two decades, but they have been universally recognised as the best solution yet devised to the sport’s most intractable problem.

Whereas first-class cricket, with its acceptance of the draw, had never previously given much thought to engineering results after rain delays, the growth of one-day cricket in the 1970s and 1980s brought with it a need to ensure a satisfactory finish, particularly in key knock-out matches at World Cups.

The sport’s initial solution had been to award victory to the side that had scored the highest average number of runs in the overs played – an approach that took no account of wickets lost. However, the nadir was reached at the 1992 World Cup, when the decision to discount the least productive overs of the team batting first resulted in a string of farcical finishes, most famously in the semi-final between England and South Africa at Sydney, where South Africa’s target was reduced from 22 from 13 balls to 21 from one.

After that, an appeal went out to cricket-loving stattos worldwide, initially via Christopher Martin-Jenkins on Test Match Special – can anyone, anywhere, devise a better solution?

Enter Duckworth, who had unveiled his prototype rain-rule in the 1980s but had been largely ignored on the basis of complexity. However, his subsequent presentation to a Royal Statistical Society conference in 1992, “Fair Play in Foul Weather”, caught the attention of Lewis, then a lecturer in management science at the University of the West of England in Bristol.

The pair began to work together on fine-tuning the calculation, and after finding the then-TCCB newly receptive to the idea, it was first used in a match situation on New Year’s Day 1997, when England were set a revised target of 186 in 42 overs after bowling Zimbabwe out for 200 in the second ODI – they fell short by seven runs.

While there is no simple way to explain the formula’s workings, it essentially treats overs and wickets in hand as “resources” available to a batting side, and makes proportionate adjustments to the target in the event of those resources being lost in rain interruptions.

The formula has not been without its critics, particularly after the advent of T20 cricket, when wickets in hand – a less critical factor in the shorter format – were deemed to have been given too much weight for sides batting second.

In 2014, the name of Steven Stern, an Australian professor, was added to what is now known as the “DLS” method, after he took over the day-to-day running of the formula, and made his own adjustments to reflect modern scoring rates.

Messrs Duckworth and Lewis were awarded MBEs in 2010 for their services to cricket and mathematics, and also lent their name to a cricket-themed pop group, founded in 2009 by Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy and Thomas Walsh of Pugwash.

“‘It is with much sadness that the ECB has learned of the passing of Tony Lewis MBE, aged 78,” read a statement from the board. “Cricket is deeply indebted to both Tony and Frank’s contributions to the sport. We send our sincere condolences to Tony’s family.”



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