It would be difficult to find any individual who spent more time training, playing or celebrating at the SCG than Phil Emery. Across nearly 200 first-class and one day games for New South Wales between 1987 and 1999, many of them as captain, Emery became almost as synonymous with the grand old ground as the Members and Ladies stands that still give it among the most distinctive silhouettes in world cricket.
Next week, however, Emery will find a new way of experiencing the SCG, by sleeping rough on its outfield as part of the Sport Stars Sleepout for the Chappell Foundation, an event held in an effort to raise money for the cause of youth homelessness in Australia. For Emery, the average figure of about 30,000 homeless Australians under the age of 25 on any given night is maddening.
The onset of Covid-19 this year has capped the number of SCG sleepers for the third edition of the event at 32, but provides still more impetus to raise money for the cause. Emery, who over the past 20 years has built a business career in the insurance industry while also serving as chairman of the “Baggy Blues” New South Wales past players association, said he had been floored by the numbers when asked to take part by the foundation’s patron Greg Chappell.
Emery will join the likes of Mitchell Starc, Alyssa Healy, Lisa Sthalekar, Steve O’Keefe, Russel Arnold, Stuart MacGill, Alex Blackwell and Daniel Hughes among cricketers taking part on Monday night. Donations, pledged to an individual sleeper, can be made here.
“People never believe it, seeing the numbers it’s ridiculous. Hopefully we raise lots of money, increase awareness about the issue and we can do some good with it,” he said. “From sending out a message about it at 4 o’clock yesterday, I think at 6 o’clock I had A$2,200 in the space of two hours, of just people generously giving stuff straight away. Extremely generous, it’s great.”
While the unchanging elements of the SCG have been a big part of its charm, Emery reflected on some of the hidden elements of the ground that he and other state teammates became well familiar with over the course of a career that featured three Sheffield Shield wins in 1990, 1993 and 1994 – the last two as captain.
“It was funny, when you were playing it was like your second home,” he said. “There’s a bar now underneath the members bar, but it used to be like an underpass with a road that ran through it. We used to park in there in what would be the middle of the bar now. You were out there from pre-season in July, August, even just for fielding, and we used to train on the ground, so you’d spend an enormous amount of time on the field.
“I first went onto the field when I was 11, and that was when the Sheridan Stand was there and the Brewongle and all the old concourse, the big hill, and the Paddington hill and all those things. Playing through the era when they took the hill away, I remember doing an interview with Tracey Holmes and I was facing the members stand on the ground, and she said ‘so what’s it going to be like playing without the hill’ and I went ‘what have they done’, and I turned around and there were bulldozers on it. I wasn’t paying that much attention back then!”
As the son of the former Wallabies international Neville, Emery experienced the old precinct before the advent of the Sydney Football Stadium – currently being rebuilt – and redevelopment of the adjoining showgrounds into a studio complex.
“Going back now, it’s still got the same feel to it with the Ladies Stand and the Members Stand, around the back, the nets are the same,” Emery said. “But when I was first there we had the No. 2 ground and I played a NSW Colts game there. You used to be able to walk through a little hole in the fence at the top and go through to the sports ground. I played a rugby grand final, my first year out of school in third grade on the sports ground. You had the showground oval, the SCG Nos 1 and 2 and the sports ground all in a row.
“But it’s still a fabulous place, it’s just got an aura about it, it’s a big ground but it’s not the MCG. If you put the wicket in the middle its a biggish ground, but it’s intimate if that makes sense. The visitors’ dressing room has still got the split room between professionals out the back and the gentlemen out the front. That’s still there. The home dressing room’s changed a bit since I first went in it, there’s some mod cons in there, but the layout hasn’t changed really, and you wouldn’t change that for the world.
“Fabulous feel in the old room, even the little windows and banister out the front where you sit outside. You’re not in a dungeon, you get natural light into the place. You can actually stand in the change room and watch the game – not the best view but the best place to be. You can walk out through the bar and then out to bat if you want. That sort of thing – it’s connected to the building, you’re not hidden away, and that’s part of its charm.”
England in Sri Lanka 2021
Mark Wood picked for back-to-back Tests, with Olly Stone missing out on recall
James Anderson has been recalled by England for Friday’s second Test against Sri Lanka in Galle, at the expense of his long-term new-ball partner Stuart Broad, in a solitary change to the side that won the first Test by seven wickets earlier this week.
Broad excelled in tricky conditions for fast bowling in the opening match, claiming 3 for 20 in Sri Lanka’s first-innings total of 135, before serving up 11 maidens out of 17 in their second to help restrict England’s eventual target to a manageable 74.
However, with England keen to manage their first-bowling resources with four Tests looming against India, Broad has been sidelined for now, with Anderson demonstrating his readiness for action during England’s truncated intra-squad warm-up in Hambantota earlier this month, where he claimed two economical wickets in his eight-over spell.
A second change to the fast-bowling ranks had been anticipated, with Mark Wood earmarked for a break after toiling through 27 wicketless overs at Galle last week.
Wood’s fellow 90mph fast bowler, Olly Stone, had been touted for a second Test appearance after impressing in practice in recent days – especially given the concerns over Wood’s workload given his regular injury issues.
However, Wood has been inked in for back-to-back Tests – just as he was in South Africa this time last year, where he starred in the second of those contests with a Player-of-the-Match performance. Instead, he looks set to be one of the players rotated out of England’s squad for the first two Tests in India, which is due to be announced later on Thursday.
“It’s going to be a big challenge throughout this winter,” Joe Root, England’s captain, told the BBC prior to the team announcement. “As a bowling group in particular, we’re very aware for us to win and do well this winter, it is going to take a squad effort. It’s not going to take two or three players, it will take a real squad effort.
“It’s very important that when these guys get their opportunity, they throw absolutely everything into the games that they play. I thought the guys did brilliantly in the first game. Whoever gets the opportunity in the second game has to better that. That’s a really exciting place for us to be as a squad.”
England team for second Test 1 Dominic Sibley, 2 Zak Crawley, 3 Jonny Bairstow, 4 Joe Root (capt), 5 Dan Lawrence, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Sam Curran, 8 Dominic Bess, 9 Jack Leach, 10 Mark Wood, 11 James Anderson
Match Preview – Sri Lanka vs England, England in Sri Lanka 2020/21, 2nd Test
What can we make of cricket played in such abnormal conditions? England’s victory in Galle was substantial, and yet it was the kind of Test that didn’t reveal a lot about either team. This is largely down to Sri Lanka’s 135 in the first innings – their monument to incompetence, under the shadow of which the remainder of the Test was played. They batted more normally in the second dig, which perhaps provided a more accurate account of their batting ability.
In the second Test, England will expect Sri Lanka’s batting to be closer to that second-innings performance. They will also take pleasure in having breached 400 – a total Sri Lanka never managed, even in their good innings.
Clearly, the visitors head into the second Test feeling better about themselves, and yet, knowing that drawing this Test to preserve their lead is not really an option – draws having become extinct in Sri Lanka in 2014. Strangely, despite having shared 14 wickets between them, it is England’s spinners that may go into the second Test with the most questions to answer. By his own admission, Dom Bess may never have a five-wicket haul as easy as he did in the first innings, plus Sri Lanka played him much better in the second. (They also have a series against India on the horizon, which, let’s be honest, is the main focus of England’s trip. In all likelihood, India’s batsmen will play them better than Sri Lanka’s have.)
Another concern for England may include their openers, who combined made scores of 9. 4, 8 and 2 in the first Test. That said, Jos Buttler’s keeping is categorically not a concern – not only did he out-keep his counterpart Niroshan Dickwella in the first match, he also took practically every reasonable chance that came his way.
Sri Lanka have many more questions to answer, largely to do with whether they can produce two good batting innings in the same Test.
Sri Lanka: LLLDW (completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Dilruwan Perera is the most experienced spinner in Sri Lanka’s ranks, but in the first Test was outshone by slow left-armer Lasith Embuldeniya, who was more expensive, but claimed one more wicket in the match. With 160 wickets, Perera is now Sri Lanka’s fourth-highest wicket-taker ever, but is yet to truly stake a claim to the title as the spin attack’s leader – that position going unfilled since the retirement of Herath two years ago. Perera is 38 now, so perhaps winding down his career. But with two young spinners in the side, Sri Lanka will hope he can lead the attack more effectively and take those bowlers under his wing.
There is something bewitching about happy debuts, and Dan Lawrence‘s first outing in Tests was a resounding success, as he produced 73 in the first innings to help press England’s advantage, before his 21 not out in the second dig guided England home following a slightly nervy period late on day four. Sri Lanka will reflect that they did not bowl particularly well at Lawrence in the first innings, and will hope to come back at him with sharper plans. It has already been suggested that Lawrence might bed in for a long career, but he’ll have bigger tests to face in the next few weeks.
Pitch and conditions
Unlike for the previous Test, there have not been substantial rains in Galle leading up to this one. This means the pitch for the second Test will probably start off even drier, and take drastic turn earlier in the game. It goes without saying that a result is expected, but if one of the nastier iterations of Galle’s surface turns up, there’s every chance the game lasts four days or fewer.
Sri Lanka have dropped Kusal Mendis, with Oshada Fernando all set to replace him in the XI, most likely at No. 3. They are also hoping that Suranga Lakmal has now got enough overs under his belt to play this Test.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Kusal Perera, 2 Lahiru Thirimanne, 3 Oshada Fernando, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (captain), 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 7 Dasun Shanaka, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Dilruwan Perera, 10 Suranga Lakmal, 11 Lasith Embuldeniya.
England, meanwhile, are likely to rotate their seam attack, with four Tests in India to come. James Anderson, Olly Stone and Chris Woakes are likely to play in place of Stuart Broad, Mark Wood and Sam Curran.
England (probable) 1 Dom Sibley, 2 Zak Crawley, 3 Jonny Bairstow, 4 Joe Root (captain), 5 Dan Lawrence, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Chris Woakes, 8 Dom Bess, 9 Jack Leach, 10 Olly Stone, 11 James Anderson
Stats and trivia
- Sri Lanka have now lost their last four matches against World Test Championship (top nine-ranked) opposition, losing one to England, two to South Africa, and one to Pakistan.
- England have won five matches on the trot in Sri Lanka, stretching back to 2011. They’ve also won their last two Tests at Galle by substantial margins.
- Although Dilruwan Perera’s overall average of 35.34 is unflattering, he does have a better record at Galle, where he averages 25.07. He’s also got his wickets against England at 25.76 apiece.
“You look at the best teams at the top of world cricket right now, and in the history of the game, and that’s what they do over and over again – make big first-innings runs. If we want to be serious about being the best team in the world then it’s something we have to replicate.”
England captain Joe Root has grand ambitions for his team, and a blueprint on how to get to those goals.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
Match Preview – Bangladesh vs West Indies, World Cup Super League 2020-2022/23, 2nd ODI
Bangladesh played to their favourites tag in the opening ODI in Dhaka, predictably outplaying the inexperienced West Indies line-up in a six-wicket win. It wasn’t exciting cricket but the home side will take the ten points for the ICC ODI Super League, which helps their approach towards automatic qualification to the 2023 World Cup.
Tamim Iqbal’s ODI captaincy reign started with the win, as did Shakib Al Hasan’s come back with a player-of-the-match performance. Shakib took three wickets in his mean first spell of seven overs, with a slip fielder constant and often employing a silly mid-off and a short-leg. Andre McCarthy, Jason Mohammed and Nkrumah Bonner had no answer to the returning giant, who seems to have added a number of strings to his bow.
But there were other dangers for West Indies too. Mustafizur Rahman got Bangladesh their first two breakthroughs, while Rubel Hossain and Mehidy Hasan Miraz held strong; and debutant Hasan Mahmud took three wickets in the space of nine balls later.
After West Indies were bowled out for 122 runs, Bangladesh took their own sweet time to reach the target, but still had 16.1 overs in hand. It was a justified approach given the long break they’ve had since playing an international match. They didn’t want to get it wrong, neither did they have it easy.
It may not have been awe-inspiring batting, but it should be expected the way the pitch played out. Later both captains Tamim Iqbal and Mohammed said that they had to be patient with the bat; Mohammed acknowledged they needed to bat with more patience during the middle overs.
There’s some promise in the way West Indies batted. Sunil Ambris started positively, debutant Kyle Mayers looked like a free-flowing batsman while captain Mohammed tried to survive through the spin test. If the top six can bat for at least 35 overs, it can free up Rovman Powell to bat his way in the slog overs. But one persisting problem for them would be the really long tail, which Bangladesh exploited quite well in the first game.
Bangladesh (last five completed matches, most recent first): WWWWL
West Indies: LLLLW
In the spotlight
The most threatening aspect of Shakib Al Hasan‘s four-wicket haul was his economy and how he kept the West Indies batsmen tied to the crease for long periods. The visitors are going to have a hard time keeping him away for the next three weeks.
Akeal Hosein was West Indies’ glimmer of hope, with his impressive 3-26 on debut. Hosein’s wicket of Liton Das was the way any left-arm spinner would like to start their careers, but the way he carried on for the rest of his 10-over spell, was the most encouraging part.
Seven squad members are warming Bangladesh’s benches but with ODI Super League points up for grabs, it is unlikely that they would make any changes. Mohammad Saifuddin’s fitness update would however keep the team management interested.
Bangladesh (possible): 1 Tamim Iqbal (capt), 2 Liton Das, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Shakib Al Hasan, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Soumya Sarkar, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Rubel Hossain, 10 Hasan Mahmud, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
It might be too son for Phil Simmons to press the panic button and go for changes, mainly because he doesn’t have a lot of options in the ODI bench.
West Indies (possible): 1 Joshua da Silva (wk), 2 Sunil Ambris, 3 Andre McCarthy, 4 Jason Mohammed (capt), 5 Kyle Mayers, 6 Nkrumah Bonner, 7 Rovman Powell, 8 Raymon Reifer, 9 Chemar Holder, 10, Akeal Hosein, 11 Alzarri Joseph
Pitch and conditions
Both captains said that it was a difficult pitch to bat on, during the first ODI. But with a slightly warmer forecast for Friday, batsmen on both sides can expect a bit of heat to take out the moisture from the surface.
Stats and trivia
- Shakib’s 4-8 was the most economical four-wicket haul for Bangladesh in ODIs
- Hasan Mahmud’s 3-28 is the best bowling figures on ODI debut for Bangladesh since Mustafizur Rahman’s 5-50 in 2010
“When he was playing (before his one-year ban), he was the best allrounder in the world. He is one of the best spinners going around. He had a very good spell. We can see that with his figures.”
West Indies captain Jason Mohammed about Shakib’s performance in the first ODI
“You cannot judge anyone after one match. He did well. You can ask this question after one year.”
Shakib when asked about Tamim Iqbal’s captaincy after the first ODI
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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