Glenn Maxwell believes it is up to bowlers to evolve in an attempt to combat the ever-more outlandish strokeplay that is on display in limited-overs cricket after he produced a 100-metre switch hit in Canberra.
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell reignited the debate over whether the shot is ‘fair’ – where a right-handed batsman effectively becomes a left hander and vice-versa when, for example, a bowler must tell the umpire if they are coming from over or round the wicket – after the opening two matches of the series against India, before Maxwell produced his latest display of outrageous skill at Manuka Oval.
“[Switch-hitting] is very skillful, some of it’s amazingly skillful – but it’s not fair,” Chappell told Wide World of Sports. “How can one side of the game, ie. the bowlers, they have to tell the umpire how they’re going to bowl. And yet the batsman, he lines up as a right-hander – I’m the fielding captain, I place the field for the right-hander – and before the ball’s been delivered, the batsman becomes a left-hander.
“One of the main reasons why he’s becoming a left-hander is so he can take advantage of those field placings. I’d love the administrators who made those laws, I’d love them to explain to me how that’s fair.”
Maxwell launched Kuldeep Yadav over point and such was the swiftness of his hand switch that it takes a couple of replays to even notice he did it.
“It’s within the Laws, batting has evolved in such a way that it’s just got better and better over the years which is why we see these massive scores getting chased down,” he said. “Suppose it’s up to the bowlers to try and combat that. The skills of bowlers are being tested every day with bowlers having to come up with different change-ups, ways to stop batters and the way they shut down one side of the ground.
“The way batting is evolving, I think bowling has to try and evolve at the same stage. We see guys coming up with knuckle balls and wide-yorker fields, the tactics of one-day cricket have definitely evolved over the last little bit as well. I just see it as a different part of the evolution of the game.”
However, Maxwell wasn’t taking all the credit for how far the stroke went. “It probably helped that it was with a pretty decent wind, I wasn’t too worried about the boundary rider and just thought if I got it up in the air it was going to travel,” he said.
His 59 off 38 balls kept Australia in the chase of 303 after they had slipped to 5 for 158 but when he was bowled by Jasprit Bumrah the task was too great for the lower order. Maxwell, who said he should have finished the game, took the blame for the run out of Alex Carey as the pair were building a solid partnership.
“I thought the changing point was probably the run out with Carey which was probably 100% my fault and unfortunately when you leave yourself six down it makes it a little bit tougher because you know one mistake and it can all turn around pretty quickly. That was a key moment of the game which I probably stuffed up, but saying that I feel I should probably have iced that game from there. But they are allowed to bowl well and Bumrah is a class finisher.”
Aus vs Ind 4th Test Brisbane
India are playing the Brisbane Test with their most inexperienced bowling attack since 1933
India’s desperate luck with injuries continued, as Navdeep Saini walked off with a groin strain after bowling just 7.5 overs on the first day of the Gabba Test. He was taken for scans in the afternoon.
With four Test caps between them, Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, and the two debutants T Natarajan and Washington Sundar anyway made up India’s least experienced Test attack since 1933. From the Sydney Test, where they were already depleted, India lost Jasprit Bumrah to an abdominal strain, R Ashwin to back spasms, and Ravindra Jadeja to a broken thumb, taking out the only survivors from India’s first-choice attack.
In hindsight, there was consolation in India’s team selection: they had picked five bowlers, including four quicks. In the morning, India made the unusual move of giving a Test debut to a reserve spinner, Washington Sundar, who was held back for help in the nets, ahead of the specialist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who has been with the squad all along. It was perhaps done to shorten the tail, but at the same time, four fast bowlers covered for their inexperience.
So when Saini did go off, India did still have four bowlers to operate with.
India’s absentee list now reads: Ishant Sharma, Virat Kohli, Mohammed Shami, KL Rahul, Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari, Umesh Yadav, Bumrah and Ashwin, with an update on Saini awaited.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – Stars vs Strikers 40th Match 2020
Adam Zampa picked up 5 for 17 in a match totally dominated by Melbourne Stars
Melbourne Stars 2 for 179 (Fletcher 89*, Valente 1-36) beat Adelaide Strikers 68 (Zampa 5-17) by 111 runs
The Strikers were bowled out for just 68 chasing 180, their lowest total in BBL history, the third-lowest overall, and it was also the fourth-largest defeat by any team.
Fletcher had not passed 18 in the first nine matches in the tournament but he overcame a lack of strike in the first 10 overs to reach his first half-century in T20 cricket in more than 12 months before destroying the Strikers’ quicks in the Power Surge to set up a match-winning total of 2 for 179.
Fletcher revealed he received a phone call of encouragement from West Indies great Brian Lara a few days earlier, which inspired his innings.
He got good support from Glenn Maxwell (37 off 28) and Hilton Cartwright (30 not out off 17), though Cartwright’s innings possibly cost him a century. The Strikers attack lacked penetration without Rashid Khan and Peter Siddle, although Liam O’Connor and Daniel Worrall bowled tidily.
The Strikers then succumbed to the Stars’ spin trio as they raced through the overs with rain looming on the radar. Maxwell and Zahir Khan set it up in the Powerplay and finished with 4 for 31 from eight overs combined. Zampa then finished the job as the rain began to fall claiming his second T20 five-wicket haul.
It was a bizarre innings from Marcus Stoinis. He admitted to the media on Thursday that he had been struggling with how to build an innings under the new rules, having at times gone too hard in the four-over Powerplay and he even revealed he forgot about the Power Surge in the last game. Fletcher’s lean tournament has no doubt also played a part in his indecision. Stoinis faced 14 dots in total including 10 in Worrall’s first two overs. He has the confidence he can catch up but he never did, holing out to long-off to a borderline waist-high full toss from Danny Briggs for 13 off 26.
Fletcher faced just 15 balls and reached his highest total of the tournament of 22 while Stoinis was at the crease. Maxwell walked out at No.3 and avoided his third consecutive golden duck, but the Stars crawled to 1 for 57 after 10 overs with O’Connor stepping into Rashid’s enormous shoes and bowling and excellent four-over spell. However, he wasn’t able to take any wickets to expose the Stars’ middle order. Maxwell and Fletcher opted not to take the Power Surge despite both men being set at the start of the 15th over and Maxwell holed out to long-on at an inopportune time.
Zampa gets five to dismantle the Strikers
Spiceman runs hot
Fletcher hadn’t reached fifty in his last 30 T20 innings dating back to his century in the Bangladesh Premier League in 2019. Here, he got to his 50 off 36 balls at the end of the 16th and the relief on his face was palpable. The Stars took the Power Surge and Fletcher filled his boots. He torched Wes Agar and Worrall for four fours and two sixes as both quicks got their lengths horribly wrong delivering a mix of full tosses and length balls. Fletcher delivered a contemptuous no-look strike off Worrall over the long-on off the last ball of the Surge.
He was 82 not out with 12 balls left in the innings but only faced two more. Cartwright made 30 not out off 17 balls with two sixes, two fours, and three twos leaving Fletcher to watch at the other end. Fletcher finally got on strike last ball of the innings and deposited Briggs over the sightscreen. He was emotional as he walked off the ground and received a lengthy embrace from his skipper Maxwell. He later revealed that the emotion was for his late uncle.
Rain rush wrecks Strikers
With rain looming on the radar, Maxwell decided to race through three overs of spin in the Powerplay to get through five overs as quickly as possible. The gamble paid huge dividends as the Strikers slumped to 2 for 10. Alex Carey promoted himself to open with Phil Salt and both men fell cheaply. Salt gloved an attempted reverse sweep off Zahir to the keeper while Carey was clean bowled trying to launch Maxwell over long-on. Maxwell kept the spin attack rolling bowling just two overs of pace in the first 10 as the Stars defended just 57 to claim the Bash Boost point. Matt Renshaw and Jon Wells did not score a boundary off the spinners with Renshaw holing out to Zampa in the 10th over.
Zampa shrugs off shoulder concern
Zampa hurt his shoulder diving in the field and had to spend some time sitting on the dug-out when he wasn’t bowling. But it didn’t affect his legspin as he put on another masterclass. The damage had been done by Maxwell and Zahir but Zampa was still needed to close out the 10th over and secure the Bash Boost point. He was far too good for the Strikers tail claiming four of the last five wickets.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne
Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs England 1st Test 2021
Tea: England 320 for 4 (Root 168*, Lawrence 73) lead Sri Lanka 135 by 185 runs
Joe Root‘s first Test century since November 2019 has helped England tighten their grip on the second day of the first Test in Galle.
Root went through 2020 without a century – the first time in his Test career he has gone through a full year without one – and dropped out of the top 10 in the ICC’s batting rankings in the process.
But here he has provided a demonstration of his enduring class in negating the sharply turning ball with calm authority and moving to his 18th Test century in the process. More importantly, he extended England’s lead to 185 with six first-innings wickets still in hand by the time rain returned at tea to bring an early close. Sri Lanka will have to bat substantially better than they managed in the first innings if they are to make England bat again.
If they require any example of how to go about things, they could do far worse than emulate Root. With his judgement of when to go forward and back, his ability to manoeuver the ball into gaps and his ability to sweep both in front and behind square, he has provided a masterclass in playing spin bowling. Kusal Mendis, at short-leg, has taken so many blows, you suspect a boxing referee might have suggested he had taken enough punishment.
It is Root’s eighth score of 150 or more in Test cricket and the highest score made by an England player in a Test in Sri Lanka. The previous highest was Kevin Pietersen’s 151 made in Colombo in 2012.
Root was given assured support from debutant Dan Lawrence. The pair added 173 in 43.1 overs – England’s highest ever stand in Tests in Sri Lanka – for the fourth wicket, with Lawrence losing little by comparison. Indeed, were you to put together a highlights package of the day, it would be Lawrence’s strokes that dominated. Shortly before lunch, he launched Lasith Embuldeniya for a slog-sweep six that suggested England might just have found a man with the character and skill to flourish at this level. Sterner tests loom, no doubt, but this was an accomplished first international innings from Lawrence.
To be fair, Root’s innings was not the sort to be accurately represented by a highlights package. 72 of his runs have come in singles, after all. But while those runs might not have made the immediate impression of Lawrence’s six, his ability to find the gaps and rotate the strike make him desperately tough to contain.
While Lawrence was not able to emulate the achievement of Ben Foakes, who made a century on debut here in 2018, this was a hugely promising start from the 23-year-old. Getting off the mark first ball, Lawrence looked confident from the off and, picking up the length nicely, was comfortable to skip down the pitch or go deep into his crease when required.
He did provide one chance. Appearing to lose concentration for a moment, he skipped down the pitch to Embuldeniya when he had 68 and was fortunate to see the keeper, Niroshan Dickwella, parry the ball past the slips. A short while later, he received one from Dilruwan Perera which spat off the surface, took his glove and ballooned to short-leg. It was a disappointment for Lawrence, of course, but England will have noted the signs of deterioration in the surface with interest.
Root and Lawrence were helped, it does have to be said, by some loose bowling. While Embuldeniya – who took the first three wickets to fall – continued to ask questions of the batsmen, he lacked the support required to build pressure. Perera, in particular, has struggled with his line and length – a floated full-toss allowed Lawrence to ease his second delivery through the covers for four – allowing England to pick up regular singles.
The leg-spinner, Wanindu Hasaranga, was no better. Lawrence was able to cut, sweep and drive him for boundaries as he struggled with his length. Hasaranga has conceded more than four-an-over so far; in a low-scoring game, it is cost Sri Lanka can ill afford.
To be fair to the bowlers, when you have Root’s range of strokes – his ability to find the gaps, in particular – it can be hard to find answers. But the fact that there were only eight maiden overs in the innings (and only three on the second day), reflects both the excellence of the batting and the lack of discipline in the bowling.
Earlier, play was delayed by 70 minutes due to rain. When the resumption eventually came, Jonny Bairstow fell in the second over of the day without adding to his overnight score. While Bairstow may reflect he could have left the ball, Embuldeniya had drawn him forward nicely and gained sharp turn to take the outside edge. Mendis also did well to cling on to a sharp, low catch.
At that stage, Sri Lanka still held a narrow first-innings innings. But Root and Lawrence crushed any hopes the home side may have had of making deeper inroads into the England innings. Even the rain that returned at tea to wash out the final session only delayed Sri Lanka’s pain.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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