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BBL 2020-21 – Jason Holder signs with Sydney Sixers for a three-game stint in the BBL

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West Indies Test captain Jason Holder has signed with BBL champions the Sydney Sixers for a three-game stint following the Test series against New Zealand.

The travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand allows Holder to enter Australia without having to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Following the two-Test series in New Zealand, he will head straight to Hobart to play in the December 20 clash with the Adelaide Strikers. He will also be available for the December 26 fixture against the Melbourne Stars and the December 29 match with the Melbourne Renegades.

Holder, 29, comes in as cover for England bowler Tom Curran who needs to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving from England’s limited-overs tour of South Africa. He joins fellow West Indian Carlos Brathwaite and England batsman James Vince as part of the Sixers’ overseas contingent.

“I’m really excited to be coming to the BBL and the Sydney Sixers,” Holder said. “I’ve wanted to for a few years now and this year I have the opportunity to come in and make some appearances and hopefully do a bit for the Sixers.”

Holder said he was looking forward to reuniting with Sixers skipper Moises Henriques, having played alongside him in the IPL.

“BBL cricket is an interest for me and the Sixers have been successful over the past few years. Moises and I played together at Sunrisers and I really enjoyed that. It will be good to do it again.”



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Sri Lanka vs England, 1st Test, Galle

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England allrounder unlikely to be match-ready for second Test, but set to resume training

Moeen Ali has been released from quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Sri Lanka, and has returned to the England team bubble in Galle after serving an extended isolation period.

Moeen, 33, tested negative for the virus prior to England’s departure from the UK earlier this month, but returned a positive test after the team touched down in Hambantota on January 3.

He had initially been expected to isolate for ten days, but that period was extended to 13 with the England management’s blessing last week, after the Sri Lankan government expressed their reservations in light of a new strain of the virus being found in the UK late last year.

Aside from being unable to train, Moeen has been kept away from his team-mates for the duration of the tour – and at one stage completed a 150-mile round trip from Hambantota to Galle and back again, when it transpired that the hotel that he had been allocated was undergoing building works.

He will now link up with the rest of the squad at the Lighthouse Hotel in Galle, and was welcomed back into the dressing-room midway through the third day of the first Test.

“It’s great to have Mo back,” Sam Curran, Moeen’s team-mate, said. “When we walked into the changing room after one of the sessions today, we saw Mo and just saw the smile on everyone’s faces.

“He’s obviously had a really tough couple of weeks and no-one wants to get into the situation he was in. Thankfully he got through that okay, and we’re all really excited to have him back in the group to play cricket again, because we all know what an awesome player he is, and to be around.

“The guys are really happy, and hopefully it doesn’t happen to anyone else, because no one wants to have players leaving the group and isolating for a couple of weeks.”





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Bangladesh vs West Indies – Shoriful Islam’s call-up causes much delight but little surprise

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There wasn’t exactly a whole lot of astonishment in Alamgir Kabir‘s voice when he heard about Shoriful Islam‘s call-up to the Bangladesh ODI side. Islam had become a talked-about name in recent months after his impressive performances in the two recent domestic tournaments earned him a call-up to the 24-member preliminary squad last week. He had already become a teenage sensation following his Under-19 World Cup exploits last year, particularly in the final against India.

For those who follow Bangladesh cricket properly, the call-up for such a youngster is only a natural progression in Bangladesh. Kabir, a former Test cricketer who is now a coach in the country’s northern region, instead of being surprised, was delighted at the news.

He has been practically raising Islam from the time he was a 15-year old from a remote village in Panchagarh, the northernmost district of Bangladesh. Kabir was one of the coaches on a scouting trip to Dinajpur, sent by his employers Clemon Cricket Academy, which is a network of private cricket schools spread across several locations in the country. Kabir spotted Islam during a fast bowling trial, which was in fact only the second day in Islam’s life when he had practised with a cricket ball.

Much to Kabir’s shock, the tall kid was hitting a good spot at a fair clip. Instantly, he offered him a place at Clemon’s academy in Rajshahi, the biggest cricketing centre in the region, from where it was believed that something could be made of Islam’s pace, length and height. Kabir took him under his wing, helping him at every step of the way.

“It is a wonderful feeling that one of my students got the national call-up,” Kabir told ESPNcricinfo. “I will be even happier when he will be picked in the XI. I tried my level best but the rest is up to Allah. Shoriful also had a strong desire, perhaps more than me. I think this has helped me get this far, getting a chance in the national team. I am happy that through my hard work a fast bowler, and his family, reached a better stage.

“This is a kid who had to really struggle to get to this stage, but when he did, it was so great. I have heard that because of him, electricity reached his village.”

BCB bowling coach Mahbub Ali Zaki on Shoriful Islam

“I met him for the first time four years ago at a skills camp in Dinajpur. I was the fast bowling coach, and I had 60-70 bowlers who had come for the trial. Shoriful caught my eye when I saw that with the new ball, he was bowling a disciplined line and length. So I asked him, how long have you been playing cricket. He said, ‘This is my second day’. I was shocked by his answer, but I thought to myself that if he gives it a bit of time, he can improve a lot.”

For the annual national cricket championship tournament, Kabir switched Islam’s allegiance from his home district Panchagarh to Chapai Nawabganj. Kabir remembers how Islam gave them joy by lifting the Under-19 World Cup.

“I brought him to the Clemon Rajshahi Cricket Academy, from where he started to play cricket regularly. He could have played national championship for Panchagarh, but I felt that I should keep him close to me, so I made him play for Chapainawabganj.

“He had played for Bangladesh A but since he was quite young at the time, they kept him in the Under-19 setup. I saw him in the Under-19 World Cup where he showed what a rapidly improving cricketer he had become. It was a great feeling that one of my students won the World Cup,” said Kabir.

Mahbub Ali Zaki, BCB’s bowling coach who has worked closely with Islam before and during the 2020 Under-19 World Cup, said that Kabir’s role in the young fast bowler’s discovery and elevation into mainstream cricket in Bangladesh is admirable.

“This is the fruition of a coach’s work, when we can get a cricketer to reach the highest level. Alamgir Kabir nurtured him. He still stays with him, and during Covid when we used to online sessions, he was at Alamgir’s place. This is a kid who had to really struggle to get to this stage, but when he did, it was so great. I have heard that because of him, electricity reached his village,” he said.

Zaki first met Islam during an Under-19 camp two years ago, shortly after he had already played 13 matches for Bangladesh A. But due to his age, he was sent back to the age-group setup, to prepare for the 2020 World Cup.

There, Zaki helped Shoriful get a more stable action, as well as raise his fitness level to a point where a 125kph bowler started to touch 135kph, and during the World Cup, he regularly touched 140kph.

“Under-19 is the best platform for making it to the national team. The other processes to get into the national team is tougher. Our Under-19 system is a process where we raise them from an early age through the age-group system, and our focus is always on ensuring they become international cricketers.

“Having won the World Cup, we can agree that our Under-19 squad was skilled. You can put Shoriful in any situation, and you are more likely to get a good result from him. He did well in both the BCB President’s Cup and the Bangabandhu T20 Cup after the Under-19 World Cup,” he said.

But Zaki believes that Islam has to keep learning and improve his pace, and slowly add a bit of swing to his bowling. “So far he has shown that he is a consistent bowler. He has the pace and bowls in good areas. But he has to keep progressing.

“He bowled around 140kph at the Under-19 level but now he has to bowl at that same pace or more, but with swing. Otherwise it will be difficult for him to survive. He wouldn’t want to get stuck, so he has to take his bowling to the next level,” said Zaki.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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SA-W vs Pak-W 2020-21 – Mignon du Preez

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du Preez, though, is hoping that it will spur the younger players to “step up, show their skills”

Mignon du Preez, the senior South Africa Women batter, believes the absence of premier allrounders Dane van Niekerk and Chloe Tryon, due to injuries, for the upcoming home series against Pakistan will pose a “challenge” for the hosts. However, she is hoping that the unavailability of the two mainstays will spur the younger players in the side to “step up, show their skills”.

van Niekerk, the regular captain, and Tryon, the vice-captain, are among the three players – the other an unnamed player who tested positive for Covid-19 – to be ruled out of the three ODIs and as many T20Is that South Africa are due to play against Pakistan, who are without their designated captain Bismah Maroof, starting January 20 at Kingsmead. van Niekerk and Tryon are recovering lower-back injuries sustained in September.

“She [van Niekerk] is extremely passionate about her team, so we’ll definitely miss that this time around,” du Preez told ESPNcricinfo. “I know it’s not going to be easy for her sitting on the sidelines. I’ve seen her sending some messages that it’s really tough not being here.



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