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Amid excitement over cricket’s return, there are debts to be repaid

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The end of lockdown – maybe the pause in lockdown will prove a more accurate phrase – has precipitated many long-awaited reunions. Friends, lovers, families have all been reunited. It’s hard to say where the resumption of cricket rates compared to such events.

But it’s significant in many ways. Not least, it will go some way towards avoiding a financial meltdown in cricket in England and Wales. As things stand, it seems England have a better than even chance of fulfilling all their international fixtures for the 2020 summer. From the situation in which they found themselves when the season was meant to start in April, this is a fine achievement. The fact that the highlights will be shown on the BBC also represents an opportunity. There’s never been too much wrong with our game; if we can get more people to see it, there’s no reason they should not fall in love with it.

ALSO READ: The world awaits as cricket ushers in its new normal

The ECB – and Steve Elworthy, their events director, in particular – deserve a huge amount of credit for making this series a reality. Realising early that the cost of doing nothing would be far greater than the cost of drastic action, planes, grounds and hotels have been requisitioned. New protocols have been introduced to cover everything from training to eating to walking around stadiums. The scope of the project is vast and would have seemed unimaginable as little as four months ago. A huge amount has been asked of many. Everyone has bought in.

Most of the methods adopted by Elworthy and co in recent weeks will provide a blueprint for governing bodies around the rest of the world. That, in turn, allows the sport to navigate its way through a crisis that could be with us for some time yet. Playing behind closed doors is nobody’s idea of perfect but, in the circumstances, most would have settled for this solution.

Elworthy already had an outstanding record in this area. He was tournament director of the World Cup last year and in 2013 organised a Champions Trophy that may well have saved the 50-over format. In pulling off this project, he deserves to be viewed, alongside the likes of Tony Greig, Andy Flower and Kevin Pietersen, among the most valuable southern African imports to the English game.

England owe a great deal to West Indies, too. Leaving a region that has been spared the worst of Covid-19 and traveling to one in its grip has taken a certain amount of courage and determination. Yes, CWI needed the tour to satisfy their sponsors – Sandals, the hotel chain, aims much of its marketing at the UK audience – but the players could easily have opted out. English cricket owes every one of them.

It’s not fair to conclude England would definitely not have toured had roles been reversed. There would have been doubts, of course. But England returned to India after the terrorist attacks in 2008 and went to Bangladesh, in 2016, at a time other teams were unwilling. Even before recent events, there seemed every chance they would return to Pakistan in line with their obligations in the Future Tours Program. Their understanding of their global responsibilities is better than is sometimes credited.

But this series, in particular, seems timely. It comes amid a renewed focus on racial equality and will feature a team of cricketers of Afro-Caribbean heritage answering England’s plea for help. It’s a reminder, perhaps, of how much England has gained from the Caribbean over the years. It needs to be acknowledged and respected.

Pakistan have been equally helpful to England. Their squad is here already and seeing out their period of isolation in a Travelodge in Derby. Not every international team would do that. Again, an opponent who has had a chequered relationship with the ECB, has answered their call for help.

It would be nice to think this sense of cooperation will foster a new spirit among the cricketing community. That it will remind all involved of our interdependence and shared interests. That it will lead to a new revenue model for international cricket which sees the biggest earners, like higher-rate tax payers, contribute a little more. That those who run the ‘big three’ will understand that, eventually, without strong opponents, the appeal of the international game will wither and their own business models will be compromised. It would be nice.

But the early evidence is not encouraging. The T20 World Cup, an event that would generate income for multiple cricket boards, is on the verge of being postponed for an event – the IPL – that will generate income for one. And while Australia look set to host a lucrative bilateral series against India, they seem less keen to host Zimbabwe. Within eight months next year, England will play 10 Tests against India and then travel to Australia for an Ashes series. The obsession for the rich to play the rich is leaving the rest struggling for survival.

The shame of all this is that recent weeks have shown what can be achieved when the game works together. If England are truly grateful for the support of Pakistan and West Indies at a time they needed them most, they will ensure their words of gratitude are translated to more tangible rewards. Cricket can be stronger for this experience but we require more than warm words and gestures. We need change.

Maybe such issues can wait for a day or two. There will be a sense of joy at seeing the resumption of cricket over the next few days. A sense of relief, too, that we are finding a way back towards the normal life we will never take for granted again. Well, not for a while, anyway. But amid the excitement, let’s not forget the debt owed to West Indies, Pakistan and Ireland too. And debts need repaying.



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Recent Match Report – Stars vs Sixers 56th Match 2020/21

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Sixers took Bash Boost points and then victory as Stars missed the playoffs for just the second time in competition history

Sydney Sixers 5 for 180 (Christian 49*, Vince 46, Maddinson 1-6) beat Melbourne Stars 6 for 177 (Maxwell 66, Dwarshuis 3-27) by five wickets

Dan Christian and Jordan Silk produced a clinical, superbly timed chase to beat the Melbourne Stars at the MCG. But it was the Sixers’ ninth Bash Boost point halfway through the run chase, gleaned through a combination of quality new ball bowling, some indecisive batting from the Stars, and some James Vince magic that ensured the Sixers finished on top of the BBL table and the Stars missed the playoffs for just the second time in competition history.

The stars had aligned for Glenn Maxwell‘s team to come from the clouds and reach the playoffs having started the final day of the season needing a host of results to go their way. After the Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Renegades obliged with upset wins, they needed to claim all four points against the Sixers, including the Bash Boost in order to play finals, but it took just eight overs in the chase for the Stars’ hopes to be dashed.

The Stars had set a highly competitive total of 6 for 177 thanks to Maxwell’s extraordinary 66 from 41 balls and Hilton Cartwright blazing 38 not out from just 19. But their season was derailed in the first 10 overs thanks to the new BBL rule, with Ben Dwarshuis bowling a match-winning spell claiming 3 for 27 to strangle the Stars top-order as they mustered just 72 runs in the opening 10 overs.

The Sixers knew they only needed 72 in 10 overs to secure a home final and despite losing 2 for 9, Vince and Moises Henriques cruised to 72 in just eight overs. The sting came out of the game with the Stars season over. Vince and Henriques failed to kick on but Christian and Silk pounced on a deflated Stars attack combining for an unbeaten 77-run stand from just 41 balls to win the game with one delivery to spare. Christian finished 49 not out from just 23 balls while Silk was unbeaten on 35.

The Sixers will now travel to Canberra to face the Perth Scorchers in the Qualifier, having nominated Manuka Oval as their home venue due to the border restrictions in New South Wales.

Balancing act

The Stars had to try and balance the challenge of setting a decent Bash Boost target after 10 overs as well as a winning 20-over total. The early loss of Marcus Stoinis, who flicked Dwarshuis to short fine leg, caused some further indecision. Steve O’Keefe conceded just three runs in the fifth over to leave Stars 1 for 35 with Nick Larkin and Seb Gotch struggling on a slow, two-paced pitch. The Stars padded up Nathan Coulter-Nile with an eye on promoting him to try and set a decent Bash Boost target. But they surmised the surface was too difficult for a pinch-hitter to negotiate and opted to stay with their original order as Sean Abbott and Dwarshuis bowled five overs in the first 10 overs and took all three wickets between them. Maxwell and Nic Maddinson were caught between trying to find the rope while keeping their wickets intact. Maxwell thumped two fours and six in the ninth and 10th over but the Stars could only muster 72 after 10 overs, which in hindsight cost them dearly.

Maxwell’s show and Cartwright’s cameo

Maxwell then put his outrageous skill on display. He lost Maddinson at the end of the 12th over when he was poised to take the Power Surge. He delayed it by an over and then took full advantage with some staggering batting. He struck five fours in the Surge with some conventional striking down the ground and over cover. Two overs later he pulled out two outrageous reverse sweeps to hit Carlos Brathwaite twice over short third man. He looked set to inflict even more damage in the last three overs but he chopped on off Abbott.

Cartwright was able to inflict the damage in Maxwell’s absence. He was fortunate to be dropped by the usually reliable Silk at deep midwicket. Cartwright made the Sixers pay in the last over. Jake Ball had been subbed in for Jackson Bird to bowl at the death. Cartwright clubbed him for three enormous sixes in the last over. The last went into the second tier at the monstrous square leg boundary to bring the small crowd to life and give the Stars momentum.

Vince goes hard to go home

The Sixers’ sole focus was to score 72 runs in 10 overs to claim top spot, a home final and end the Stars season, and it took Vince and Henriques just eight overs to do it. Initially, the Stars looked like pulling off the impossible heist. Sam Rainbird had come into the Stars’ squad as an injury-replacement player earlier in the season but had only played four matches in total and had not been selected in the Stars’ last three games. But he was picked as a specific match-up for Josh Philippe and it paid huge dividends in the opening over. Philippe was undone by the left-arm angle slicing a thick edge to Billy Stanlake at short third man for 1. Dan Hughes fell in the next over top-edging Stanlake towards third man with Maxwell taking an outstanding catch running back from slip. But Vince took control and feasted on some wayward bowling. He struck three boundaries and a six, albeit from a slightly fortuitous top edge, but rarely looked troubled as he and Henriques cruised to 72 inside just 8 overs with barely a risk needed.

Christian and Silk combine

With the home final secured, the sting came of the game and the Sixers wobbled momentarily. Vince chipped Nic Maddinson innocuously to cover for 46. Henriques was needlessly run out for 38 and Brathwaite came and went to leave the Sixers 5 for 103 needing 75 to win from 42 balls. But Christian and Silk continued their outstanding form timing yet another chase to perfection. The pair struck eight fours between them while Christian produced two massive sixes. At one stage they required 30 from 15 balls but never panicked as the Stars bowling repeatedly wavered, with Christian finding the boundary twice in the last over off Stanlake to end Stars’ campaign.

Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne



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UAE players Mohammad Naveed and Shaiman Anwar found guilty of corruption | Cricket

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Mohammad Naveed is a former UAE captain © IDI via Getty Images


The ICC has found UAE players Mohammad Naveed and Shaiman Anwar guilty of offences relating to attempted match-fixing during the 2019 T20 World Cup qualifying tournament. The verdict follows a hearing by an independent anti-corruption tribunal, with the ICC saying in a statement that “the pair remain suspended and sanctions will follow in due course”.

The two are among UAE’s most experienced international cricketers. Anwar, now 41, is their highest run-getter across the ODI and T20I formats, and 33-year-old Naveed their most prolific wicket-taker and a former captain.

Naveed and Anwar were charged under the ICC anti-corruption code in October 2019, and suspended days before the start of the qualifiers in the UAE. Naveed, who was UAE’s captain at the time, was stood down from the post.

The two have both been found guilty of the following breaches of the anti-corruption code:

  • Article 2.1.1 – for being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of a match or matches at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019.
  • Article 2.4.4 – failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the Code at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019.

Naveed, in addition, was also found guilty of breaching the same two codes during the T10 League in 2019, which was also held in the UAE.

ESPNcricinfo understands the two players had allegedly stood to make around US$ 272,000 if they had been successful in impacting the outcome of matches during the qualifiers.

In October 2019, Naveed accepted that he had failed to report a suspicious approach during the T10 tournament, but claimed he had ended the conversation when he realised the person he was meeting was a “fixer”.

©
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.






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Recent Match Report – Renegades vs Hurricanes 55th Match 2020/21

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Beau Webster led the recovery with the bat before the Hurricanes’ big-name batting order failed to fire

Melbourne Renegades 5 for 150 (Webster 54*, Harvey 40, Meredith 3-22) beat Hobart Hurricanes 9 for 139 (Malan 34, Evans 5-33) by 11 runs

It was far too late to impact their season, but the Melbourne Renegades’ impressive victory, led by Zak Evans‘ five-wicket haul, dumped the Hobart Hurricanes out of the tournament and kept the Melbourne Stars and the Adelaide Strikers alive for a little bit longer.

Amid a range of scenarios, the Hurricanes could have ended all debate with a victory that would have secured them the last spot in the finals but they produced a poor chase to end a tournament which had promised much with such strong batting resources.

The Renegades came from nowhere to take this game having limped to 4 for 49 before Mackenzie Harvey and Beau Webster staged a recovery in the second half of the innings. In the field they were highlighted by 20-year-old Evans’ haul, including the key scalps of Matthew Wade and D’Arcy Short, and completed his five-for in the last over as another disappointing Renegades tournament ended in smiles.

A final top-order struggle
The first ten overs of the Renegades certainly looked like a team whose tournament had long-since ended. Aaron Finch’s competition-to-forget ended when he picked out mid-on and Shaun Marsh, who passed 300 runs for the season but faded in the latter stages, got an inside edge into the stumps against Riley Meredith who put a couple of expensive displays behind him with fine figures. When Jake Fraser-McGurk found mid-on and Sam Harper was defeated by D’Arcy Short’s left-arm wristspin the Renegades were 4 for 49 in the ninth over.

The recovery
From 4 for 58 after 10 overs, the Renegades were able to score 92 in the last 10 overs and 55 off the last five. Harvey was given a life on 20 when Peter Handscomb dropped a simple chance at mid-off – admitting on the TV coverage it was one of the easier catches he had ever put down – but the Renegades could only manage 18 off the two Power Surge overs and with five left still had less than 100 on the board. Harvey sent Sandeep Lamichhane over long-off for six twice in the 17th over and though he then fell to Meredith, Webster and Imad Wasim ran hard between the wickets and the last over was taken for 16 with Webster reaching a 33-ball fifty.

Big names underwhelm
Still, a chase of 151 should have been well within the Hurricanes’ reach. Wade was quickly out of the blocks but then found short fine leg and from there life became tougher on a slow pitch. Peter Hatzoglou went straight through Ben McDermott, whose impressive tournament ended with three single-figure scores, but at 2 for 69 after 10 overs things were still under control. The Hurricanes took the Surge as soon as it was available at the start of the 11th over and second ball Short was yorked by Evans as he gave himself room. Dawid Malan was key, but having ticked over at a run-a-ball was caught at deep square two balls after being dropped by Hatzoglou off his own bowling. When Marsh took a superb catch in the deep to remove Will Jacks it was falling apart.

Prestwidge’s save, David denied
The Hurricanes had made the call to bring Tim David in as their X-Factor after Nick Winter had bowled one over and not found any swing. David then shaped as among their last hopes and the target was still within striking distance with 38 needed off the last three overs. Facing Will Sutherland, David launched the ball towards long-off where Jack Prestwidge leapt into the air, held the catch then was able to flick it back before crashing over the boundary. A six became two and then next ball David lapped to short fine leg. On such things do tournaments rest.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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