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

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West Indies 57 for 1 (Brathwaite 20*, Hope 3*) trail England 204 (Stokes 43, Holder 6-42, Gabriel 4-62) by 147 runs

West Indies captain Jason Holder took a career-best haul of 6 for 42 to roll England for 204 at the Ageas Bowl, before their top order saw them through to the close one wicket down.

Holder came into this series with an injury cloud over his head, having bowled only five overs across West Indies’ two intra-squad warm-up games while nursing an ankle complaint. He admitted that he felt “a little sore, a little stiff” after play on the second day, but that pain will be lessened thanks to the knowledge that he has put his team into the driving seat in this series.

Holder had no hesitation in answering “discipline” when asked at the toss what he was looking for from his bowlers, and followed that message himself after Kemar Roach had set the tone. Shannon Gabriel was given license to attack, snaring another three wickets to add to that of Dom Sibley on the first day, and while Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Dom Bess offered some resistance with the bat, England’s total of 204 looked a little light after a dogged start from West Indies.

While it would prove to be Holder’s day, it was Gabriel who made the early breakthroughs after Rory Burns and Joe Denly had come through the first half hour. Denly was the first to go, his stumps splattered as a vicious nip-backer burst through a hefty gap between bat and pad and crashed into the top of off. Then, after hanging the ball outside Burns’ off stump from round the wicket, Gabriel fired one in full at his pads, striking him in front of leg stump. Richard Kettleborough concluded it was missing leg stump, but Holder disagreed and was vindicated by a successful review.

In his second spell of the day, Holder started by teasing Zak Crawley with a series of outswingers, nibbling away and probing on a length in the channel outside his off stump. After Crawley’s streaky boundary through the slips ruined a maiden from his eighth over, Holder decided the time was right to bring one in at the start of his ninth, finding a hint of seam movement from wide on the crease which Crawley played around. Again, Kettleborough said no; again, Holder was convinced, and was proved right. Ollie Pope started with a pair of boundaries off him, but was soon back in the hutch after fencing at an away-nibbler, which Shane Dowrich gobbled up behind the stumps.

Buttler and Stokes led a counter-attack, putting on the only stand of 50 or more in the innings, but Stokes rode his luck. Before lunch he had miscued a hook shot to long leg, where Roach shelled a difficult chance after making his ground, and after looking to impose himself in the afternoon, Stokes chipped a low catch to Shamarh Brooks, who put down a sitter at short cover. Buttler looked a million dollars from the moment he arrived at the crease, with a back-foot punch through the covers the pick of his shots, but both fell in the space of two Holder overs.

First, having sensed Stokes using his feet, Holder pushed the ball fuller, first beating the bat and then drawing a faint edge through to Dowrich. The pair’s battle had been built up before this Test, with Holder suggesting he might not have been given the credit he deserved; there can be little doubt that he will be today. Buttler feathered his own edge behind which Dowrich took sharply, before Jofra Archer was trapped on the pad for a third overturned lbw. Mark Wood provided Holder with his sixth, driving loosely and edging to gully, before James Anderson‘s stumps were rattled by Gabriel after some late resistance from Bess for the 10th wicket.

In reply, England bowled with good pace but failed to make as many breakthroughs as they would have hoped. Anderson was the most threatening bowler. Three times he wrapped John Campbell on the pad and had him given lbw; on the first two occasions, Richard Illingworth’s decision was overturned as the ball had pitched outside the leg stump, but on the third, the on-field call was upheld.

Wood and Archer, playing alongside one another for the first time in Test cricket, both bowled with real pace. Wood regularly broke the 90mph/145kph barrier and even hit 95mph/153kph but drew few false shots, as Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope – batting at No. 3, having come in below Shamarh Brooks in the warm-up fixtures – managed to dig in until the close.

It was easy to wonder whether Stuart Broad, tweeting his thoughts on the game from his hotel room balcony, might have made an impact in conditions that seemed perfectly suited to him.

There was widespread frustration at another couple of stoppages for bad light, as the clouds rolled in and brought play to an early close for the second night in a row, but thankfully the forecast is set fair for the rest of the Test.



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Vivo pulls out as IPL 2020 title sponsors

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IPL title rights holders Vivo have pulled out of this year’s tournament, ESPNcricinfo understands. The development follows a public outcry over the tournament’s association with Vivo, a Chinese company, following clashes at the India-China border in June.

Neither the BCCI nor Vivo were available for comment on the issue.

In June, the BCCI had said it would “review” the sponsorship deals concerning the IPL, but did not name any brand. “Taking note of the border skirmish that resulted in the martyrdom of our brave jawans, the IPL Governing Council has convened a meeting next week to review IPL’s various sponsorship deals,” BCCI said in a tweet posted on June 19.

According to India Today Vivo would return as IPL’s title sponsor for the 2022 and 2023 editions. It also has reported that the BCCI will issue a tender in the coming days to find a title sponsor for the 2020 IPL season.

Two days ago, the BCCI’s formal announcement – signed by secretary Jay Shah – of the IPL being played in the UAE between September 15 and November 10 mentioned Vivo as the title sponsor.

The decision is not likely to significantly affect the franchises financially. ESPNcricinfo spoke with several franchises, each of whom said that while the IPL was yet to inform them of the development, they were not fussed at the news. It is understood each franchise gets approximately Rs 20 crore per year from the Vivo contract. As far they are concerned, as long as the BCCI can rope in a replacement for Vivo, this development will not have any impact on them.

Vivo had bagged the title sponsorship for two years initially in 2015, and retained the rights signing a five-year contract (2017-22), paying about USD 341 million.



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Recent Match Report – Northamptonshire vs Warwickshire Central Group 2020

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Northamptonshire 142 (Stone 4-39) and 507 for 6 declared (Rossington 135*, Proctor 112* Thurston 96, Curran 58) drew with Warwickshire 369 for 8 (Bresnan 105, Yates 88)

Northamptonshire secured a Bob Willis Trophy draw that felt like a win after seventh-wicket pair Adam Rossington and Luke Procter batted through the final day to crush the life out of Warwickshire’s victory bid at Edgbaston.

Northamptonshire seemed to be hurling to defeat when, just after lunch on the third day, trailing by 227 on first innings, they hit 148 for 5 in their second. But from that point onwards they showed enormous resilience and resolve to bat their way to safety on a flattening pitch.

The great escape was led by Rossington who dug in to deliver the archetypal captain’s innings – 135 from 399 balls with 17 fours. After adding 159 with Charlie Thurston on the third day, on the fourth, the skipper added an unbroken 200 in 83 overs with Procter, who reached 112 not out, to steer his side to 507 for 6, their record total against Warwickshire.

The superb rearguard action left a young Northamptonshire side proud and delighted, but there were the opposite feelings in the home dressing-room. After completely dominating the first two days, Warwickshire let victory slip through their fingers, literally with several dropped catches, while the bowling attack failed to deal with the loss of spearhead Olly Stone.

The absence of Stone, who was off the field having a side injury assessed, was a big blow but did not excuse the lack of potency and control from too many other members of the attack.

Northamptonshire still had plenty to do to reach safety in the match when they resumed on the final morning on 317 for 6, but Procter set down an immediate marker for the day with successive fours off Tim Bresnan.

On a pitch which offered the seamers less and less assistance as the match lengthened, very few balls did not locate the middle of the bat. Rossington reached his seventh first-class century from 227 balls with his 14th four, punched straight off Ryan Sidebottom before, in the next over, Procter posted his 50 from 91 balls with eight fours.

The pair added 98 in the morning, then in the afternoon Rossington dropped anchor deeper than ever. The captain scored just 15 runs in the session, settling for largely strokeless resistance and challenging the home side to find the potency to dislodge him, which they failed to do.

Procter completed his fourth first-class century with his 17th boundary, cut off Rob Yates, in the first over after tea. That Yates, having never before purveyed his off-spin in first-class cricket, was into his 14th over said everything about Warwickshire’s bowling performance. They will hope to welcome Liam Norwell and Henry Brookes back into the attack for the match away to Gloucestershire starting next Saturday.



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No excuses for another slow start as Joe Root lauds fast-bowling ‘battery’

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They may have a poor record at the start of a series, but Joe Root believes England have a “head start” before their first game against Pakistan.

England have, infamously, lost the first Test in eight of their 10 most recent series (excluding the one-off match against Ireland), including the last five. And while they have gone on to win their last two series despite such setbacks, they know that they cannot afford to put themselves at such a disadvantage against a side they have not beaten, home or away, since 2010.

The difference on this occasion is that, having just won a three-match series against West Indies, England should, in Root’s words, be “up to speed” with the pace and demands of Test cricket. Furthermore, two of those games – the two England won – against West Indies were played at the same Emirates Old Trafford where the first Test against Pakistan will take place, allowing England to familiarise themselves with the pitch. And, with England utilising the depth of their seam-bowling resources to ensure none of their fast bowlers were obliged to play in more than two matches, they should be both in rhythm but fresh enough to hit the ground running.

“Having played some competitive Test cricket will serve us well,” Root said. “It will give us a bit of a head start.

“Fortunately, we have three games under our belt coming into this. We played some really good cricket in the last two so the guys are up to speed. We are familiar with the rhythm of Test cricket too, so there is no excuse going into this week. Having good success on this ground in two Test matches will fill our group with a huge amount of confidence.

“We are playing some very good cricket at the minute; as well as we have done for a while. We are used to playing in this environment, having had three games under our belt now, and feel we are starting to emulate our game-plan more consistently. The challenge for us will continue to keep trying to nail that as much as possible and becoming more consistent.”

ALSO READ: England delay team announcement amid Stokes bowling doubt

Pakistan, by contrast, have not played a Test since February. They’d had one first-class game on the tour, but it was an intra-squad encounter which was curtailed by rain and did not see any batsman reach fifty. They also lost their previous Test in Manchester, in 2016, by 330 runs.

Root, however, is aware of Pakistan’s fine overall record – they drew their last two series in England – and is adamant his side should not exhibit any complacency.

“It’s really important we don’t take it for granted,” Root said. “We are very aware Pakistan are a talented team and very up for this series. 

“We are all very aware that, in previous series, we have not got off to the best starts and we have been one-nil down, so the focus this time is trying to get a win early on and trying to drive the series from there. 

“It always feels like hard work when you are behind in the series. We want to make sure we start well this time around. We are very aware of it.”

England’s other advantage is the depth of their seam-bowling resources. In another era, the likes of Craig Overton and Ollie Robinson might well have been opening the bowling in Test cricket. Right now, however, neither can command a place in the squad and there will, at some stage in the series, be some more high-profile omissions.

Continuing doubts over Ben Stokes’ ability to bowl may lead England to stick with the same four-man pace attack they utilised in the final Test against West Indies, although there may also be questions over the inclusion of the spinner Dom Bess ahead of the batsman Zak Crawley. Bess played ahead of Crawley in that game, but did not bowl a ball in either innings. Crawley’s omission also meant Root had to bat at No. 3 – a position he had made clear he would rather avoid, even though he scored a double-century from there against Pakistan in 2016 – and left Jos Buttler at No. 6 and Chris Woakes at No. 7.

Either way, the only man whose inclusion Root would guarantee was Stuart Broad, who claimed 10 for 67 in the previous Test. But he did also suggest at least one of Jofra Archer or Mark Wood would play to ensure the England attack had a pace option.

“Stuart will play tomorrow,” Root said. “Will a fast bowler be included? I think so. We want that balance of attack. It’s something we’ve looked at in the past. Long-term we’re looking at wanting that extra pace and variation. We feel around the world that gives us a lot better chance of taking 20 wickets consistently.”

While Root acknowledged he faced a “really tough call” over the last bowling space, with Woakes, Archer, Anderson and Wood contesting two or three positions, he suggested it was an encouraging reflection of England’s overall depth.

“It’s a really tough call,” Root said. “But if we’re going to become the No. 1 side in the world we’re going to have to have a battery of fast bowlers who can come in and perform. Especially if we are going to play back-to-back Test matches in the series.

“It’s important we have options and can rotate if guys are sore or stiff. For the longevity of this team it’s important we look after our fast bowlers and make smart decisions at the right time, and we’ll get judged on results. It’s tough but good tough.”



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