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Recent Match Report – South Australia vs Tasmania 3rd Match 2020



South Australia 195 and 2 for 93 trail Tasmania 8 for 493 dec (Doran 112, Paine 111*, McDermott 90, Wakim 83) by 205 runs

Tim Paine‘s third first-class century pushed Tasmania into a position from where they will hunt a final-day victory against South Australia who are in danger of beginning the Sheffield Shield season with a brace of heavy losses.

They negotiated the final session with what was probably the maximum damage if they were to have genuine hope of escaping with a draw. Jake Weatherald was well caught, low at third slip, and Brad Davis paid the price of shouldering arms against Peter Siddle before Henry Hunt and Travis Head, who had earlier dislocated a finger in the field, saw out the day.

South Australia were already comfortably ahead at the start of the third day and left hander Jake Doran was the first to register three figures with his second Shield hundred.

Paine had waited 13 years to double his century tally when he made a hundred against Western Australia at the WACA last season. He was discomforted for a while here, following a blow on the arm from Wes Agar and was treated to some sustained short-pitched bowling, but his third hundred came from 191 deliveries with a pull off Kane Richardson on a day of remorseless accumulation by South Australia. It set him up nicely for a season that, everyone hopes, will include four Tests against India.

By the time Doran was taken at slip, Lloyd Pope finding a touch of extra bounce from round the wicket to take the top edge, the sixth-wicket stand was worth 153 and it had long-since become a match-saving mission for South Australia.

For the rest of the afternoon Paine was accompanied by Beau Webster and Tom Andrews to further deflate the Redbacks’ attack. Webster looked aghast to be given caught down the leg side and Pope was able to collect a second wicket, but they came at the considerable cost of 203 – the first bowler to concede a double ton in the Shield since 2015.

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Aus vs Ind 2020-21 – Aaron Finch keen on Will Pucovski getting his Test ticket sooner rather than later



Aaron Finch is itching to get out. More or less his final commitment after two weeks of hotel quarantine in Sydney following the IPL is to preview Australia’s ODI series against India via Zoom, the only means by which he has been able to plan for the contest with team-mates and coaches.

In a way, the conclusion of quarantine so close to the start of cricketing hostilities between Australia and India is an apt reminder of the unprecedented circumstances for the summer, played out against the backdrop of Covid-19 and all its associated health and biosecurity measures. But if Finch is impatient for a few more freedoms, he is also hopeful that the national selectors will be similarly eager to get the 22-year-old Will Pucovski into their Test team this season.

Much of the debate around Pucovski’s chances of usurping Joe Burns has fallen into the question of team chemistry and balance. That has ranged from head coach Justin Langer and David Warner’s thinly veiled preference for Burns to the trenchant views of Ian and Greg Chappell, insisting that Pucovski be hurled in to face Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami with the new ball. Finch, though, has one of the more valuable perspectives, having been tried and failed as a mature-age Test opener in 2018-19. Finch was handed over his Test debut during the first Test against Pakistan in Dubai in October 2018 while Warner was serving a ball-tampering ban, but was quickly discarded after just five matches, where he averaged 27.80 with a highest score of 62.

In an ESPNcricinfo interview this week, Finch suggested that he wished he had got that chance at the age of 25 rather than 32, the better to learn from it and return a better player. Speaking in the context of Pucovski, Finch went further, saying it was impossible to know how you would handle the most pressing challenge in the game until you experienced it; so the sooner, the better.

“When you have your first chance at 32 and you miss that trick, there’s probably not a huge amount of scope to get back into that side,” Finch said. “So I would’ve loved to have that opportunity at 25 because I think the lessons that I learned from that were crucial in my development – not just as a player but as a person [too].

“I think when you’re talking about young guys – especially hugely talented guys like Will – there’s going to be ups and downs in their careers no doubt. So I think being exposed to the highest level early on, I think that might seem tough at the time if things don’t go well straightaway. But the lessons that you learn from that, the way that you approach the game – the way you approach it mentally probably more than anything – I think is some really valuable lessons, and something that can’t really be taught.

“You can speak to everybody about how to go about it [and] how you’re going to feel, but until you walk out and mark centre or bowl your first ball [or] first over in Test cricket, you don’t really understand what your reaction to it is going to be.”

Timely education applies as much to life as it does to cricket, epitomised by how the Australian team’s understanding of the issues around this year’s Black Lives Matter movement has been greatly enhanced in recent weeks. Their decision to form a Barefoot Circle in acknowledgement of Aboriginal Australia and racial injustice prior to Friday’s opening game against India is a signifier of the way in which Finch and others have progressed from his clumsy construction in England a few months back that “education around it is more important than the protest”.

“We sat down and discussed it as a group,” Finch said. “A lot of people have had some input into it and we think it’s the right way to connect with our Indigenous people. There’s obviously zero tolerance to racism in our sport, in our society, or there should be anyway. So I think this is a way we can connect with our Indigenous people that have faced a lot of adversity for a long time – for generations – so this is our way of supporting that cause.

“I think it’s about education – not just for me but for our group. The more that we can educate ourselves and educate each other, I think we can go on a journey of learning a lot more about the injustices over the last 230-odd years in Australia, and I suppose to raise some awareness of issues that might not be as commonly known.”

Individually, Finch has been able to use his quarantine time to recalibrate his batting also, aided by the presence of two trusted mentors in the form of Andrew McDonald and Ricky Ponting. Their training sessions have ensured that Finch, after an underwhelming IPL, will enter the ODI series with a tightened game for the 50-over format, the better to build innings of substance after some months of more combustible T20 thinking.

“T20 cricket can be really difficult when you’re not quite at your very best, when you’re trying to be really aggressive at the start of an innings, take risks early in the game,” Finch said. “I think that’s a time when if it’s not going 100%, you can get into a pretty bad run quite quickly. But just a few balance things – head position in my stance and small things like that. I sometimes can forget about it when you’re focusing just on T20.

“You can tend to get a bit one-paced with your training and almost focus on power-hitting rather than a few minor technical things that can help you out. It hasn’t been anything huge, it’s just a few steps that I generally go to when things haven’t been as smooth as I would’ve liked.”

Australia’s balance has been altered slightly through the availability of Steven Smith – after concussion kept him out of the England series – and the absence of Mitchell Marsh due to an ankle injury which had ruled him out of the IPL. This will leave allrounder duties primarily with Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell, though Marnus Labuschagne can be expected to chime in with a few overs also. Whoever comprises the fifth bowler, Finch counselled too that his top-line bowlers would be handled carefully for reasons of mental health as much as workloads.

“Since the last World Cup, we’ve probably a bit more clear in how we want to structure up our team, and that’s with a couple of allrounders in there to take the load of that fifth bowler generally,” he said. “Obviously, that’ll change depending on conditions and whether you’re in the UK or India or South Africa. That’s always a floating plan of what we have. In terms of the rotation of the bowlers, I think it’s going to come down to how they’re feeling personally, whether it’s mentally or physically.

“Guys are at totally different points in their preparations and workloads. Some guys are coming off quite a decent [Sheffield] Shield start to the season, some are coming off T20s.

“So it’ll just be about managing that. We know in the current environment with guys being away from so long – away from families and in hubs and bubbles and things like that [and] quarantine – it’s really important to look after people’s mental health as much as anything. Whether you give them a week off or a couple of days just to get home and get in their own bed is going to be crucial.”

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KCA President’s Cup – Sreesanth to return to action in Kerala’s inaugural T20 tournament



Fast bowler Sreesanth will feature in Kerala Cricket Association’s (KCA’s) inaugural T20 tournament – the KCA President’s Cup – which is scheduled to begin from December 17, pending the state government’s approval. It will be Sreesanth’s first involvement in representative cricket since the end of his ban for his involvement in the IPL 2013 spot-fixing scandal. It will also be the 37-year-old’s first chance to push for a return to domestic cricket. His last competitive match was in May 2013.

Sreesanth’s ban – initially a life ban – had been revised to seven years in 2019 and officially ended in September this year, following which he had expressed a keenness to play competitive cricket again. Kerala coach Tinu Yohanan had told ESPNcricinfo in September that the door is open for a Sreesanth return, subject to his form and fitness.

ALSO READ: ‘Door is open’ for Sreesanth to play for us – Kerala coach Yohannan

Sreesanth had been training with the Kerala Under-23 teams earlier this year, and has been on record stating that he has been working on his fitness from as early as last May. He is, by far, the biggest name in this six-team tournament that will be held in Alappuzha until January 3. He will play for the Kerala Tigers, captained by Sachin Baby. Sanju Samson will miss the tournament as he is on national duty in Australia.

India’s domestic season is yet to be officially chalked out as the daily Covid-19 numbers continue to be in excess of 40,000 new cases. In a September interview with the Times of India, Sreesanth said that the uncertainty around the domestic season had left him “shattered” and on the verge of quitting cricket, before suggesting that he would look to play abroad if cricket in India wasn’t a realistic chance.

“From last May, I have put my heart and soul into training,” he had said. “So when I read about domestic season being a non-starter, I was shattered. I even thought of quitting the game but thought I wouldn’t be doing justice to myself as all the efforts I’ve made to play the game would have gone down the drain. If the domestic season in India is cancelled, I will have to look at other options. If there is no cricket here, I might as well request the BCCI to allow me to play abroad.”

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South Africa vs England, 1st T20I, Cape Town



A few allrounders and at least six bowling options are what South Africa needs to get their team balance right, according to former captain Faf du Plessis.

“That’s a challenge that we are facing right now,” du Plessis said, after the five-wicket defeat to England in the first T20I. “We’ve lost Andile [Phehlukwayo] and Dwaine [Pretorius] which fills the role of a sixth bowler and we need six bowling options because if one guy goes on the day, it puts you under pressure. But with the balance of our squad, it doesn’t look like it’s possible to go for a six-man bowling attack. That’s why the allrounder plays such a crucial role in balancing the side.”

South Africa went into the series opener with six specialist batsmen, four frontline bowlers and a spin-bowling allrounder in debutant George Linde. Ideally, they would have also liked to have a seam-bowling allrounder but Dwaine Pretorius has been ruled out of the series with a hamstring injury and Andile Phehlukwayo was unavailable for selection. That meant that when Quinton de Kock was looking for some variety, he turned to Heinrich Klaasen’s part-time offspin.

ALSO READ: SA forego gestures and lose the plot – but at least cricket is back

Klaasen’s solitary over cost 14 runs, which shifted momentum towards England, but it was Beuran Hendricks’ 28-run over that sealed England’s win. Du Plessis cautioned against reading too much into de Kock’s decision to try something different, or into Hendricks’ expensive over, believing both would bounce back.

“My experience tells me that in the game of T20 cricket, someone is going to go on the night. I wouldn’t look too much into it if one guy goes for runs,” he said. “That’s the nature of the beast playing T20 cricket and I wouldn’t judge him too harshly. Tonight wasn’t his night.”

Asked if selection could have been different and Anrich Nortje, who lit up the IPL alongside Rabada, could have played as well, du Plessis indicated it was difficult to fit Nortje in, perhaps due to transformation targets.

“It’s tough on Anrich [because] it’s a balancing act with our team. We’ve got to try and get that balance right. He was on the short side of it today,” du Plessis said. “But he is bowling really well so we are expecting him to make inroads soon.”

“My role in working with Quinny and the bowlers is that it’s important for me to give advice, talk to the bowlers and make sure there is clarity in their plans”

Faf du Plessis is no longer captain but still has a leadership role

South Africa also have the option of including Jon-Jon Smuts, a top-order batsmen who bowls left-arm spin – though that is a similar option to Linde – or changing up their batting line-up to accommodate for Reeza Hendricks, who has not bowled in T20s. It is not clear if Phehlukwayo will be available for the next match, leaving South Africa with de Kock to solve things as he seeks to balance the side.

But du Plessis is there to help. Although he has relinquished the leadership, as the senior-most player in the side, du Plessis still sees himself as having a role to play in developing the next generation. That was evident when he led some of the on-field consultations, especially towards the end of the England innings.

“It’s important for my own role in the team to assist and help but I don’t look to interfere too much,” he said. “It’s great for Quinny to have the opportunity to learn about field placings and angles. My role in working with Quinny and the bowlers is that it’s important for me to give advice, talk to the bowlers and make sure there is clarity in their plans.”

Du Plessis also has a job to do with the bat and he did that in this match, where he top-scored with 58, picking up from where he left off as the leading run-maker for the Chennai Super Kings at the IPL. Not only did his knock change the tempo of the South African innings but it showed his intent to keep playing, for as long as he can.

“I had a really good six months off and had some time to reflect and put a lot of time into getting myself as fit and mentally strong as I can be,” du Plessis said. “I still feel like I have a lot left and I am not anywhere close to thinking I am stopping playing cricket. It showed in the IPL: I am moving around well, and I’m switched on and hungry for every ball. I am going to try and push on for as long as I can.”

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