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England in Sri Lanka 2020-21

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Former great lends expertise to England batsmen in Sri Lanka, and is open to further work

Jacques Kallis has admitted he is “sad” to be unable to use his experience to help the next generation of South African cricketers, but is enjoying his time working with England instead.

Kallis, arguably the greatest cricketer South Africa have produced, found himself surplus to requirements in their coaching set-up after Cricket South Africa (CSA) started to apply an affirmative action policy to the recruitment of consultants.

While this policy is not set in stone, it does encourage more usage of non-white coaches. And with South Africa already having a white director of cricket (Graeme Smith), head coach (Mark Boucher) and high performance batting coach (Neil McKenzie), Kallis has not been utilised by them since the end of England’s tour of the country at the start of 2020.

Despite “a few” South Africa players expressing a desire to work with him in recent weeks, Kallis says he “wasn’t allowed” to help them. As a result, he has accepted a short-term role as batting consultant with England. And while there are currently no plans to extend that role beyond the current tour of Sri Lanka, both sides are open to discussing it further in the coming weeks.

“It’s sad in a way that I can’t help out in South Africa,” Kallis said from Galle, “but I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here and my time in the England set-up. I’m certainly going to give them as much of my knowledge and time as I can to move them forward.

“I wasn’t allowed to be involved with that South African side because Cricket South Africa said there would be no more white consultants. So unfortunately that fell away and this opportunity of helping England out came about and I took it with both hands.

“So no I haven’t been able to be involved with the SA guys over the last couple of months. There were a few [quite keen to do so], but unfortunately there was that rule so it was pretty much taken out of my hands.

“I suppose it’s the way of our country: a lot of players have fallen away because of needing players of colour involved. It’s tough but we understand where it comes from. It is sad, but it’s the times we are living in at the moment.”

It has appeared, in recent days, that CSA have softened their stance on the affirmative action to ensure they have more coaching talent available. But if that is the case, nobody appears to have told Kallis.



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Kerala’s Mohammed Azharuddeen smashes second-fastest century in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy

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He missed Rishabh Pant’s record by five balls but powered Kerala to their first-ever win over Mumbai in any format

Kerala’s Mohammed Azharuddeen smashed the second-fastest century in the Syed Mushtaq Ali, India’s domestic T20 tournament, as he reached the landmark in 37 balls against a Mumbai attack led by Dhawal Kulkarni. He missed Rishabh Pant‘s record by five balls but it was still the joint-third-fastest T20 century by an Indian. It was also the first hundred by a Kerala batsman in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and sealed their highest-ever chase in the tournament as they beat Mumbai for the first time in any format.

Kerala were chasing 197 after 40s from Yashasvi Jaiswal and Aditya Tare and handy cameos from Suryakumar Yadav and Shivam Dube. Azharuddeen started the innings with Robin Uthappa, who was sedate only in comparison, and the two put on 129 runs in 9.3 overs before Uthappa a 23-ball 33. Soon after, Azharuddeen got to his century off left-arm spinner Atharva Ankolekar. Pant’s record of 32 balls though was never really under threat.

Azharuddeen slowed down after being on 89 in 31 balls, scoring 1, 1, 0 and 1 to get to 92 in 35 balls before a six off Mulani – his eighth – and a two took him to the landmark. He remained unbeaten on 137 off 54 balls, with nine fours and 11 sixes, as Kerala cantered to victory by eight wickets in 15.5 overs.

Azharuddeen, the 26-year-old, got off the mark off the third ball of the innings – his first – with a boundary off Kulkarni, and took a special liking to Tushar Deshpande, the other new-ball bowler. In the second over of the innings, bowled by Deshpande, Azharuddeen hit one six and two fours as 20 runs were scored. Deshpande went off the attack but returned in the sixth, and Azharuddeen hit him for two fours and two sixes as the over went for 23, taking his score to 65 at the end of the powerplay.

The most noteworthy aspect of Azharuddeen’s innings was his pull shots, but he did play more than a few pleasing drives too, and found his runs off Ankolekar and Shams Mulani primarily in the V, even as he slapped the experienced Kulkarni over his head for two sixes, both off the back foot.

The record for the quickest T20 century is in the name of Chris Gayle – he got to the mark off just 30 balls when he hit 175 not out off 66 balls for the Royal Challengers Bangalore against the Pune Warriors India in IPL 2013. Then comes Pant’s effort. Rohit Sharma’s 35-ball ton against Sri Lanka in a T20I ranks second among Indians, while Azharuddeen has pulled level with Yusuf Pathan, who hit a 37-ball century for the Rajasthan Royals against the Mumbai Indians in IPL 2010.

Azharuddeen has never featured in the IPL before, but this century is a timely step in that direction, given the IPL 2021 auction is scheduled for February.



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Ban vs WI, 2020-21 – Kraigg Brathwaite and Co ready with ‘specific plans’ to counter Bangladesh spinners

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The stand-in Test captain says they reviewed their 2018 defeat to find out where they could improve

A day after coach Phil Simmons raised optimism for the West Indies ODI side, Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite said the side has learnt from the mistakes made during their 2018 tour to Bangladesh.

Brathwaite’s own miserable form in that series – just 22 runs in the two Tests – was one of the reasons why the visitors capitulated so easily. With the home side having their full complement of spinners available this time too, and West Indies having an even more inexperienced side, there will be even more responsibility on Brathwaite. He hasn’t had the best of times recently too, having made just 55 runs in two Tests in New Zealand Tests last month.

Brathwaite wants to lead by example and set a foundation as a batsman, the key to which, he said, would be balance at the crease.



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Clive Lloyd to West Indies team in Bangladesh

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Former captain scripts open letter to the team in Bangladesh, urging the inexperienced players to believe in themselves

In 1966, 22-year-old Guyanese youngster Clive Lloyd made his international debut in the first Test of the India tour, played in what was then Bombay. Lloyd, the tall and bespectacled left-hander, was told he was playing the match less than an hour before the start due to the finger injury to Seymour Nurse.

Lloyd scored 82 and an unbeaten 78 to help the visitors take the series lead. West Indies won the three-match Test series 2-0 with Lloyd finishing among the top five run-makers. Lloyd utilised that fortuitous break to grow into a solid batsman and one of the most successful and dominant captains in cricket.



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