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Vitality T20 Blast – Calum MacLeod joins Sussex T20 Blast squad as cover for Phil Salt

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Calum MacLeod, the Scotland batsman whose brilliant century condemned England’s World Cup winners to a rare ODI defeat in 2018, has signed for Sussex for the Vitality Blast.

MacLeod, 31, has previously played for Warwickshire, Durham and most recently, Derbyshire. He comes into Sussex’s squad to replace Phil Salt, who has been drafted into the England ODI set-up as a reserve for this week’s series against Australia.

He has played 49 T20Is for Scotland, as well as 66 ODIs, with eight hundreds in the latter format, including an unbeaten 140 from 94 balls at the Grange in June 2018, as Scotland posted a formidable 371 for 5 against England, and held on for a famous six-run win.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be down here in Sussex,” said MacLeod. “It’s an exciting opportunity to get out there and play some cricket.

“I’ve got some good experience having played in the Blast before and hopefully I can add some experience to the dressing room to help win a few games.

“It’s a very exciting white-ball squad. Sussex are always a team that when they’re on Sky, I sit down and watch them. They’ve always been a team I’ve looked at to see how they do things.

“Matt Machan and Stu Whittingham, when we were away with Scotland, always spoke so well of the club, so to get the opportunity to come here and play, and see what this T20 team can do, is one that I’m thoroughly looking forward to.”

Sussex head coach, Jason Gillespie added: “Calum is an experienced cricketer, and a good T20 player.

“He’s performed well in the Blast in the past and we believe he will be a good addition.

“We’re missing a couple of players, and with Salty joining the England squad, it’s good to have another option at the top of the order.”

Since making his international debut in 2008 against England, MacLeod has scored 2,175 ODI runs and 1,042 IT20 runs. His highest ODI score of 175 came against Canada in a World Cup qualifier in 2014.

In T20Is, MacLeod’s highest score of 72 came against Ireland in 2019, while he has also played franchise cricket in Canada’s Global T20 tournament and the Afghanistan Premier League, and in 2018, scored a century in the Vitality Blast for Derbyshire Falcons.

He will be available for Thursday night’s match against Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl.



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Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Surrey South Group 2020

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Surrey 143 for 1 (Evans 81*, Jacks 56*) beat Hampshire 138 for 8 (Holland 65, Topley 4-20) by nine wickets

Reece Topley returned to the Ageas Bowl to haunt depleted Hampshire as Surrey remained top of the Vitality Blast South Group with a nine-wicket win.

England white-ball international Topley returned career-best figures of 4 for 20 to restrict his former county to 138 for 8. Then, Will Jacks (56) cracked his third consecutive fifty and Laurie Evans clubbed 81 not out in a 118-run partnership for the second wicket, as already qualified Surrey all but booked a home quarter-final by easing to victory with 28 balls to spare.

Hampshire were forced to leave out four players who were self-isolating due to coming into contact with an individual with Covid symptoms.

The players, along with members of the coaching staff, are awaiting test results and should they come back negative, will be in contention to face Middlesex on Sunday.

A Hampshire statement said: “On the advice of our medical team a number of players have been withdrawn from today’s squad.

“This is as a precautionary measure and they are self-isolating while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test after coming into contact with an individual who has reported symptoms.”

As a result, they named an unexperienced XI which included Felix Organ, Tom Scriven, Calvin Harrison and Scott Currie – who had previously made six T20 appearances between them.

Hampshire, who had lost their last five matches in the Blast, then lost the toss and lost a wicket first ball, having been stuck in.

Topley spent three injury-plagued seasons at the Ageas Bowl, but returned with a bang as he splattered George Munsey’s stumps with his first delivery.

Organ drove and pulled a pair of boundaries before he was stumped off Jacks to leave the hosts on 11 for 2.

Surrey’s leading Blast wicket-taker Dan Moriarty then left Hampshire reeling at 50 for 4 with two quick wickets.

The left-arm spinner had James Vince, who had threatened to break free with 27, stumped before Tom Scriven was lbw, Moriarty returning figures of 2 for 19.

Just as Hampshire looked set to repeat their showing against Essex, Ian Holland and James Fuller combined to take their side towards respectability with a stand of 75.

USA international Holland’s previous format best was an unbeaten 36 against Sussex earlier in the campaign, but led the recovery with an impressive 65.

His innings was shaped by clever running but it was his clean three sixes – two straight and other picked up over mid-wicket – which caught the eye as he reached his half-century off 38 balls with a swept four.

After Fuller had stepped on his own wicket for 19, Topley returned to make sure Surrey regained control in the death overs.

The left armer had Holland caught at short third man and Harrison lbw in successive balls, before Currie drilled to Rory Burns at extra cover.

Needing 139 to win, Surrey lost Jason Roy in the fourth over, caught at mid-off to hand Organ his maiden T20 wicket.

But Jacks, on the back of scores of 55 and 65 against Middlesex and Sussex, barely flinched as he scored freely, crashing six fours and a six over midwicket in his 29-ball fifty.

With Lewis McManus undergoing surgery for appendicitis, Vince took the gloves but was not overly used as the ball rarely beat the bat.

While Jacks seemingly slowed down, Evans moved through his innings with a crescendo, with a six whipped off his legs and a driven slash taking him to his half-century in 34 deliveries.

The Jacks and Evans partnership moved past 100 in 66 balls, before they knocked off the remaining runs in rapid style – with back-to-back sixes off Harrison completing a sixth straight Surrey victory.



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Recent Match Report – Northamptonshire vs Somerset Central Group 2020

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Somerset 146 for 3 (Davies 45) beat Northamptonshire 140 for 9 (Cobb 49, Goldsworthy 2-21) by seven wickets

Only 10 days ago it would have been a ludicrous suggestion that Somerset could qualify for the T20 Blast quarter-finals at Northamptonshire’s expense. But thanks to a tight bowling effort on a used surface, and an unbroken 65-run stand in only seven overs between Tom Abell and Tom Lammonby on Friday evening, the teams are level on points with one game remaining in the group stage.

Lammonby and Abell came together after Steven Davies was trapped lbw for an enterprising 45 in the 11th over; while the required rate was extremely manageable, memories of their four defeats while chasing in this competition would have lingered.

But nerves were hard to detect: Abell nudged singles and improvised as required, before Lammonby struck three towering sixes to see them over the line, after their spinners had set things up by restricting Northants to a below-par 140 for 9.

It is a testament to Somerset’s faith in young players that they have managed to keep their season alive. In Lammonby, Lewis Goldsworthy and Will Smeed, they have fielded three players born in the 21st century in their last two wins, and while Wednesday night’s effort in Cardiff was set up by Babar Azam, this victory owed much to the youth wing.

Goldsworthy, who quietly impressed in England’s disappointing Under-19 World Cup campaign at the start of the year, bowled tidy left-arm spin here, removing Northants’ two set batsmen to start the rot after they had reached 73 for 1 in nine overs.

And while Smeed fell cheaply, two games after hitting a 49-ball 82 in his second professional appearance, Lammonby finished the job with a 23-ball cameo of 43 not out, showcasing his power game over the leg side. Next week’s Lord’s final still represents their best chance of a trophy this season, but victory against pace-setting Gloucestershire on Sunday should be enough to book a place in the quarter-finals.

“They haven’t been traditional Taunton T20 wickets this season: they’ve held a little, and the addition of another spinner [Goldsworthy] has helped us take pace off the ball,” Lewis Gregory, Somerset’s captain, said. “But I thought the three spinners bowled beautifully, trying to get them to put pace back on the ball. If you keep taking wickets, it makes T20 cricket a lot easier.

Gregory admitted victory in Bristol – where they have not won in the Blast since 2015 – would be no cakewalk. “We’re going to have to go to Bristol and try to play a brand of cricket that will be effective on that surface. They’ve had a fantastic Blast so far – there’s no pressure on our front, and we’ll go there and try to put in a performance.”

After four wins and a wash-out in the first half of the competition, Northants have lost four in a row to leave them with a must-win game against Birmingham Bears on Sunday. They had been imperious at the start of the competition, with Paul Stirling flying with the bat and their spinners strangling opponents, but ever since news of a squad member’s positive Covid-19 test, their form has nosedived.

They are a county with proud T20 heritage, and will not want to blame their drop-off on that alone, but its effect on their season has been clear. Their first two defeats after the mid-tournament round of Bob Willis Trophy fixtures came without two self-isolating players, and they have been unable to arrest the slide.

“We don’t want to use it as an excuse,” Josh Cobb said. “The first game back, you could clearly see it had had an impact, but since then it’s not necessarily been a problem – we’ve had time to train, and put in the performances, we’ve just been a bit short.

“We saw the impact of momentum in the first half of the comp, and the same thing can happen the opposite way, and that’s what’s currently happening. There’s not too much to say ahead of Sunday: everyone knows what we’ve got to do, which is turn up and win.”

Northants’ innings was a perfect reflection of their season: after reaching 82 for 2 after 10 overs, they managed only three boundaries in the second half to limp to 140 for 9. Stirling fell to Goldsworthy, playing only his second professional game, when holing out to long-off, and when Adam Rossington heaved to long-on two overs later, captain Josh Cobb – unbeaten on 49 – held the key.

But he too picked out a man on the rope three balls later, with Roelof van der Merwe taking a spectacular diving catch over his head, and from 89 for 4, Northants never looked like posting a competitive total. Somerset’s spinners – Goldsworthy, van der Merwe and Max Waller – were particularly frugal, with a combined return of 3 for 72 across their 13 overs, and will have a big role to play at Bristol.



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Recent Match Report – Nottinghamshire vs Leicestershire North Group 2020

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Leicestershire 163 for 6 (Ackermann 67*) beat Nottinghamshire 162 for 7 (Duckett 53, Moores 51, Davis 3-38) by four wickets

Skipper Colin Ackermann‘s unbeaten 67 helped Leicestershire Foxes end Nottinghamshire Outlaws’ unbeaten record at the top of the North Group in the Vitality Blast T20 in a match that left the visiting side counting the cost of a controversial incident that handed their opponents the bonus of five penalty runs.

The Foxes completed their win with a ball to spare but the talking point was the decision by umpires Nick Cook and Paul Pollard to award them five extra runs in the very first over of their reply as they chased a target of 163, invoking a change in the laws under which the fielding side can be penalised for deliberately distracting or deceiving the batsman on strike.

On this occasion, the umpires ruled that the Outlaws fielder Steven Mullaney had contravened this law by simulating the action of sliding and grabbing the ball in a way that, in their judgement, could have deceived the batsman, in this case opener Nick Welch.

It meant that Ackermann’s 53-ball innings, which contained five fours and a six, was enough to tilt the balance in favour of the Foxes, despite Mullaney making his mark with the ball by taking 2 for 17, with a result that means their chance of advancing to the quarter-finals remains alive.

The Outlaws had earlier looked to be in control after Ben Duckett and Tom Moores put on 102 for the fourth wicket but neither man could add substantially to a half-century apiece, with Will Davis (3 for 38) dragging the Foxes back into contention after Parkinson had earlier taken 2 for 27.

Having won the toss and opted to bat first for only the second time in this year’s competition, the Outlaws did not have the Powerplay they might have envisaged, registering a modest 42 runs and losing three key wickets, two of them for left-arm spinner Parkinson.

The Lancastrian dismissed Chris Nash with the last ball of the first over as the opener’s mistimed stroke went straight to the bowler and claimed the significant scalp of Alex Hales with the fifth ball of the sixth, clipping the top of off stump with a superb delivery that bounced and turned appreciably. In between, the in-form Joe Clarke bottom-edged into his stumps off Dieter Klein, having looked in ominous form again after launching the first two sixes of the evening off Klein and Gavin Griffiths.

Duckett, another Nottinghamshire player for whom this truncated season has gone well, signalled his confidence with a cheeky paddle-scoop for four off Parkinson but, in common with the other batsmen, found it difficult to time his shots on a used pitch and had a life on 12 when Klein, moving to his left from extra cover, put down what should have been a comfortable catch off Griffiths. At halfway, the Outlaws were 69 for three.

Nottinghamshire needed to find some momentum and it was Moores who provided it with some innovation in the 12th over, cracking Arron Lilley for six with an audacious switch hit followed by a scoop for four, 14 coming off the over. Moores continued in similar vein as Klein returned, collecting six more with an effortlessly-time pick-up before unfurling a scorching drive through the covers for four more as his partnership with Duckett moved past 50, before the latter struck three boundaries in a row off Davis to take the Outlaws to 126 for 3 after 15.

The two busy left-handers were enthusiastically cheered on from the Outlaws bench as they rebuilt the innings, adding 102 in 12 overs for the fourth wicket, Moores completing a 34-ball half-century.

But the Foxes, and in particular Davis, conjured up a better finish. The right-arm seamer put the brakes on by dismissing Moores – superbly caught by Klein at deep backward square – and Dan Christian in the 18th over, the Outlaws captain out off a scoop shot to his first ball. Duckett, whose half-century came off 37 balls, clipped Griffiths straight to deep backward square in the penultimate over before Davis picked up his third wicket as Mullaney, having lofted six over deep midwicket, was caught at long-off.

The total still required the home side to score at more than eight an over to half the Outlaws’ winning sequence but the wickets for Davis (3-38) at the end looked to have given the Foxes a chance, which was improved after the opening over of their reply as the umpires awarded the home side five penalty runs in the aforementioned circumstances.

This advantage was undermined when Welch was bowled behind his legs by Samit Patel in the next over, more so as Gareth Delany, having struck a booming straight six over the Mike Turner Centre, sliced his next attempted big hit to be easily caught in the short third man region. However, a six and two fours by Foxes skipper Colin Ackermann off Imad Wasim redressed the balance as the home side reached 56 for two off the opening six overs.

Two meaty straight sixes by Lilley, one off Matt Carter’s off-spin, the second off the former Leicestershire seamer Zak Chappell, advanced the scoreboard and after 10 overs, the Foxes were 93 for two and the partnership with Ackermann building nicely at 67, with 70 more required.

An eventful 11th over from Christian began with three wides but secured a wicket when Lilley drove him in the air straight to long-on and ended with Harry Dearden dropped at slip first ball, although the let-off cost no runs, the new batsman caught by wicketkeeper Moores attempting to scoop Mullaney in the next over, a rare maiden in this format.

Mullaney struck again in his own next over, George Rhodes skying one to Wasim running in from cover, and at the end of the 15th, the outcome was a little more in the balance with the Foxes 124 for 5, needing another 39 and much resting on Ackermann building on the 39-ball half-century he had completed in that over with his fifth four.

Patel dismissed Lewis Hill for 11 to increase the home side’s nerves but two boundaries from Parkinson off an unusually untidy Christian left six to get off the final six deliveries, Chappell given the responsibility of bowling them against his former colleagues but unable to deny them the win as a Parkinson hit the winning run with one ball to spare, Ackermann finishing on 67 not out.



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