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Sophie Ecclestone turned down WBBL contract over bubble fatigue concerns

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Sophie Ecclestone, the England spinner and the No. 1 T20I bowler in the ICC’s rankings, has revealed that she turned down a contract to play for Perth Scorchers in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL).

While quarantining in the UAE ahead of the Women’s T20 Challenge, Ecclestone told ESPNcricinfo in an interview to be published this week that she had been offered the chance to play in the WBBL for the first time earlier this year.

After initially telling the Scorchers she would be available, Ecclestone decided to pull out of the tournament after spending the summer in biosecure bubbles ahead of England’s planned international fixtures.

ALSO READ: ‘It’s been a difficult preparation’ admits Renegades coach ahead of WBBL

“I was going to go to the Big Bash,” she said. “Initially I said yes, but since the quarantine was two weeks and in a bubble I was like: no, I’m all right, I’ll pass and try and do it next year. When this [the Women’s T20 Challenge] came along with six days of quarantine and in Dubai, I thought I could cope with that.

“I was going at one point. I had to send them an email saying: I’m really sorry, but I don’t think I can do it. Hopefully I can do it next year. I was meant to be going. I feel bad really, but hopefully they’ll have me back at some point.”

Six of Ecclestone’s England team-mates are playing in the WBBL: Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight both joined Syndey Thunder, Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver were picked up by Melbourne Stars, and Amy Jones and Sarah Glenn are both at the Scorchers.

They had to quarantine in hotel rooms for 14 days before joining the tournament’s Sydney hub, having had only three days at home after leaving Derby at the end of their T20I series against West Indies before flying out to Australia.

“We had the training camp at Derby, which was two or three weeks, then the bubble at Burleigh Court [Loughborough] and then Derby again which was a month and a bit, and I think the girls had a three-day turnaround before they flew to quarantine in Australia. I think that would have been too much.”

Ecclestone’s revelations come at a time when several players have questioned the long-term viability of bubbles. Last week, Eoin Morgan and Jason Holder both raised concerns about the prospect of players suffering from burnout after travelling from one biosecure environment to another, while Ellyse Perry echoed their points on Saturday.

“There’s going to be various struggles for people at different points of time, for all different reasons,” she told AAP. “I don’t think it’s a sustainable option. Obviously this is a unique season and year, but I think there is probably a limit on what we can put people through.”



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BBL 2020-21 – Pakistan allrounder Imad Wasim signs with Melbourne Renegades

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Melbourne Renegades have signed experienced Pakistan bowling allrounder Imad Wasim for the second half of the upcoming BBL season.

Imad will join the Renegades from December 26 after the completion of the three-match T20I series between Pakistan and New Zealand in New Zealand. The 31-year-old will be able to play immediately upon arriving in Australia without quarantining due to the Covid travel-bubble agreement between New Zealand and Australia.

“Imad is one of the best T20 players in the world with his ability to impact games with the ball and to finish the innings with the bat,” Renegades coach Michael Klinger said.

“He’s an experienced player with recent title success, he’s capable of bowling in the powerplay and he’ll strengthen our middle-order batting.”

Imad joins South Africans Rilee Rossouw and Imran Tahir, and Afghanistan spin duo Mohammad Nabi and Noor Ahmad on the Renegades roster. The BBL has allowed three overseas to play per game this season and the various international commitments and travel restrictions have meant the Renegades have added five to their roster to give them flexibility.

“Given the current landscape we’ve had to be flexible with our international players,” Klinger said. “We’ll have Rilee Rossouw available for the whole season while our other international players will feature at different points throughout the tournament.

“It’s a really talented group of international players and they’ll provide us with some great flexibility throughout the season.”



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BBL 2020-21 – Jonny Bairstow unavailable for Melbourne Stars, replaced by Andre Fletcher

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Melbourne Stars have been forced to make a late change to their BBL squad signing West Indies batsman Andre Fletcher after Englishman Jonny Bairstow was ruled out due to international duty.

Bairstow was expected to be available for the Stars after Christmas after completing the 14-day mandatory quarantine in Australia following England’s limited-overs tour of South Africa. However, he is expected to be recalled to England’s Test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka in January.

The Stars moved swiftly to sign Fletcher, who like fellow Stars signing Nicholas Pooran, has been in New Zealand playing in the T20I series.

“We’re naturally disappointed Jonny won’t be able to link up with us this season but we wish him well on his recall and England’s winter tours,” Stars coach David Hussey said.

“We’re glad Andre was in a position to join us and he’ll bring plenty of power and entertainment at the top of the batting order. Andre is a former T20 World Cup winner with the West Indies so he knows what it takes to succeed in major tournaments and I’m confident he’ll be a great asset around our group.”

Fletcher has played 200 T20 matches worldwide with extensive experience in the Caribbean Premier League, the Bangladesh Premier League, and the Pakistan Super League. He is likely to be available for the Stars for the regular season up until January 26.

“I’m really looking forward to coming over to the Melbourne Stars and being part of what should be an exciting season ahead,” Fletcher said. Hopefully, I can bring my brand of batting and recent form to the Stars during the BBL.”



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Recent Match Report – New Zealand vs West Indies 1st Test 2020

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Toss West Indies chose to bowl v New Zealand /b>

Jason Holder won an important toss and chose to bowl against New Zealand in the first Test. The pitch at Seddon Park in Hamilton was lush green, almost indistinguishable from the outfield, and the playing XIs for both West Indies and New Zealand reflected that. Both teams left out frontline spinners in Mitchell Santner and Rahkeem Cornwall, and went with a pace heavy attack.

New Zealand included Daryl Mitchell ahead of Santner, preferring the seam-bowling allrounder to the spin-bowling one. Their four seamers are Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson.

West Indies have Roston Chase’s offspin to call on, but their four frontline bowlers are also all pacers in Kemar Roach, Holder, Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph.

The first session of play was washed out due to a persistent drizzle, but the skies cleared and the toss, delayed by two hours, took place in bright sunshine.

Holder said the “grass was pretty high” while explaining his decision to bowl, while Kane Williamson said he would have chosen to bowl too. New Zealand have handed a debut to Will Young, who is coming in on the back of some good form in first-class cricket. Young’s inclusion will mean Tom Blundell takes the gloves – with BJ Watling injured – and will bat lower down the order.

West Indies didn’t include Shimron Hetmyer, who has a concussion, and have Jermaine Blackwood in the XI.

New Zealand: 1 Tom Latham, 2 Will Young, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 Tom Blundell (wk), 7 Daryl Mitchell, 8 Kyle Jamieson, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Trent Boult

West Indies: 1 John Campbell, 2 Kraigg Brathwaite, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Jermaine Blackwood, 5 Shamarh Brooks, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Shane Dowrich (wk), 8 Jason Holder (capt), 9 Alzarri Joseph, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Shannon Gabriel



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