Jan 22: Sydney Sixers vs Sydney Thunder, Adelaide
Pro Tip: The Adelaide Oval has been one of the best venues for bowlers, especially for quick bowlers. So make sure you have more bowling options for this game.
Our XI: Usman Khawaja, Alex Hales, Sam Billings, Daniel Sams, Nathan McAndrew, Tanveer Sangha, Josh Philippe, James Vince, Daniel Christian, Carlos Brathwaite, Steve O’Keefe
Substitutes: Callum Ferguson, Chris Green, Daniel Hughes, Jordan Silk
(We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss)
Captain: Josh Philippe
With 421 runs in 11 games at an impressive strike rate of 148.76, Philippe has come back from his IPL stint a better player. He has been phenomenal against spin this BBL, scoring 167 runs at an average of 55.66 and a strike rate of 189.77, which is likely to nullify the threads posted by the Thunder spin duo of Green and Sangha. In the reverse fixture, he scored a match-winning 36-ball 64 in a rain-curtailed game.
Vice-captain: Daniel Sams
Since the last BBL, no player has taken more wickets than Daniel Sams with 40 wickets in 25 innings, striking once in every 12.8 deliveries. He has shown glimpses of his batting potential in the past seasons but in this BBL he has taken it to new levels with his 25-ball unbeaten 65 and 37-ball unbeaten 50.
Alex Hales: One of the leading scorers this BBL, Hales has scored 352 runs in 11 games at a strike rate of 157.84. He has scored the most runs (269) and has the best strike rate (166.04 – minimum 50 runs) for any player in the first six overs. The last time he played at this venue, he scored a 35-ball 59.
Tanveer Sangha: In his debut season the 19-year-old has already picked up 18 wickets in 11 games striking once in every 12.1 deliveries. If he gets one more wicket, he will be the only Australian in BBL to take 19 or more wickets in a debut season.
Daniel Christian: The 37-year-old allrounder has been a revelation for the Sixers this season. Christian is the only player to pick more than 10 wickets as well as score 150-plus runs in this edition of the BBL. The Sydney derby is one of his favourite fixtures as he has scored 214 runs and picked up 12 wickets in 13 such games.
Carlos Brathwaite: After making some impact with the bat in the international circuit, Brathwaite has more or less turned into a bowler in this BBL, having picked up the second-most number of wickets for his side with 13 scalps in 11 games at an average of 17.15. He is yet to show his batting prowess in the BBL.
Nathan McAndrew: The 27-year-old quick bowler is enjoying a breakout season having picked up 13 wickets in ten games at a strike rate of 15.60. He is also decent with the bat and can hit some lusty blows at the end.
- Callum Ferguson can replace either Usman Khawaja or Sam Billings
- Daniel Hughes can replace James Vince
India vs England 2020-21 – Zak Crawley backs gameplans as England face up to spin challenge
Zak Crawley admits that England may need to be more proactive as a batting unit to overcome another spin-friendly surface in Ahmedabad this week, but he’s confident that a reversion to red-ball cricket may remove some of the challenges associated with last week’s pink-ball Test – particularly those posed by the left-arm spinner, Axar Patel.
Patel, who now has 18 wickets at 9.44 in his two-Test career, dismissed Crawley twice in the third Test, including with the first ball of England’s second innings, to set in motion a collapse to 81 all out and an eventual two-day defeat.
Nine of Patel’s 11 wickets were lbw or bowled – and 20 out of 30 in the whole match – as batsmen on both sides were consistently beaten for pace off the pitch, as if the shiny lacquer of the pink ball was helping it to skid through more quickly than a conventional red ball might have done.
And while Crawley expects few changes to the prevailing conditions at Ahmedabad – where anything other than an England win will secure India’s progression to the World Test Championship final – he believes that England must keep faith in the gameplans that earned them a memorable victory in the first Test in Chennai, even if they have then to adapt them as the match progresses.
“I think it will be a very similar pitch this week. Why wouldn’t it be?” Crawley said. “It wasn’t easy to score, for sure. But it was the same for both sides and they played very well. We had our chance, we batted first and started well, but unfortunately we didn’t play as well as we needed to.
“But if it’s the same pitch, I do think it will be slightly easier [this time],” he added. “I felt like the pink ball was a bit harder and therefore skidded on quite quickly, which is why both sides got so many wickets lbw and bowled.
“[Axar] still has that ball in his armoury for sure and he’ll still be a massive threat with that one, but it might not skid on with the same pace as the pink ball, in which case we don’t need to change too much.
“But if it looks like it’s going to be just as tricky, and it plays the same way with one skidding and one turning, then we may need to be more proactive, [otherwise] just play your natural game.”
Crawley himself provided some of England’s most proactive batting of the winter on the first morning of the third Test, as he raced to a 68-ball half-century with ten fours, before England lost their last eight wickets for 38 to be bowled out for 112 midway through the afternoon session.
And while he acknowledged that his strong start was made possible, in part, by an early diet of seam bowling, he said he would still take great confidence from that performance, particularly after making a top score of 13 in four innings on the Sri Lanka leg of the tour, prior to the wrist injury that caused him to miss the two Tests in Chennai.
“I had the best of it facing the seamers but it was nice to score some runs nonetheless,” he said. “In these conditions, you need to have a clear gameplan before going in there, and you also need a lot of luck. But just spending time in the middle, and getting a sighter for their bowlers, I feel like I’ve got better gameplans now, and I feel confident going into this game for sure.”
Patel’s left-arm approach, however, has been a consistent issue for Crawley all winter long. He was removed by left-armer Lasith Embuldeniya in all four of his innings in Sri Lanka, and has scored just 30 runs from the 73 balls he’s faced from both bowlers, for six times out.
But, just as Patel’s offspinning partner, R Ashwin, has proven a particular challenge for England’s left-handers – not least Ben Stokes, whom he has now dismissed on 11 occasions in Tests – Crawley dismissed the suggestion that he is unusually vulnerable to the challenge of left-arm spin.
“I don’t think it’s a big issue,” he said. “I’ve been bowled some good balls and faced a lot of left-arm spin. If I’m facing spin pretty much from both ends all the time, I’m going to get out to one of the spinners, unless I get 200 not out.
“You have to get out some way, and one of them is going to be an offspinner and the other a left-armer. And for a right-handed batsman, the left-armer is going to be more of a challenge.
“One ball is going to skid on and attack the stumps, and if I miss it I’m going to be out, whereas with Ashwin – unbelievable bowler as we all know – if one goes straight on, I’m going to miss it. Those are just the difficulties right-handers face and that’s why left-handers find it so hard against Ashwin.”
It was a measure of the challenge that England faced in Ahmedabad that even their most accomplished player of spin, Joe Root, struggled to assert himself, making scores of 17 and 19 after opening the series with a matchwinning 218 in Chennai.
Root was also England’s most effective bowler in the third Test, claiming the remarkable figures of 5 for 8 in 6.2 overs, but Crawley insisted that his captain was not feeling any burden of “carrying” his team-mates.
“He’s an unbelievable player, but he loves all that,” he said. “I don’t think he feels like he’s carrying us at all. He’s loving being the best player in our side, and one of the best in the world, and contributing with the ball and as captain.
“We all know how tough it’s been,” he added. “They’ve got great players in their side and they’ve struggled for runs as well, so it’s not like they’re scoring millions and we’re scoring none. It’s been a pretty low-scoring encounter, especially the last game. So, we’ve still got loads of confidence in our ability, and it’s all a learning curve.
“There’s definitely a way back [into the series]. We’re only one game down, we won a great first Test match. It’s going to require us to get a good first-innings lead, and that’s going to require us to bat very well. Our bowlers have been doing nicely, getting them out for 145, so if we can replicate that, then get a nice lead, that will put them under a lot of pressure.
“They would be very disappointed with a drawn series for sure, and we would be very happy with that. It’ll be unbelievable if we can pull off four out of six Test matches.”
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket
New Zealand-W vs England-W – Tammy Beaumont achieves career-best No. 1 ranking among batters
Natalie Sciver and Heather Knight also gained, as did NZ’s Amelia Kerr, Brooke Halliday and Hannah Rowe
England opener Tammy Beaumont has jumped five spots to become the top batter in the women’s ODI rankings following a fruitful tour of New Zealand.
Beaumont made a half-century in each of the three matches with 71, 72* and 88* to be the leading run-scorer for the series with 231. That gave her 49 points to overtake Stafanie Taylor of West Indies and New Zealand’s Amy Satterthwaite and move into the No. 1 spot. This is the first time in her ODI career, spanning nearly 12 years, that Beaumont has topped the rankings, bettering her previous best of No. 4 in July 2019.
Team-mate Sciver made multiple gains in the rankings by climbing up all three charts, for batters, bowlers and allrounders. She hit 96 runs in the series, including 63 in the second ODI to help England seal the series and moved to No. 10 among the batters. Sciver’s five wickets – the most on either side – helped her jump 12 places to No. 22 among bowlers. In the allrounders’ rankings, her efforts pushed her up to fifth position, gaining three places.
Knight and Jones also rose in the batting rankings to sit at No. 13 and joint-25th, respectively. Other England bowlers to have gained from their performances against New Zealand include Katherine Brunt, who moved up two places to ninth, Sophie Ecclestone, up one place to 14th, and Sarah Glenn, up three places to 44th.
Although New Zealand lost the ODI series, Amelia Kerr – with her all-round show – Brooke Halliday – with a fine debut series – and Hannah Rowe made gains. While Kerr’s 72 not out and figures of 4 for 42 in the third ODI took her to 13th among allrounders, she also moved up to No. 47 among batters and No. 11 among bowlers.
Halliday, who hit half-centuries both times she batted, also entered the rankings at No. 59, while Rowe reached No. 43 in the bowlers’ charts.
Covid-19 and cricket – English cricket anticipates Government bail-out in Wednesday’s Budget
English cricket looks set to be the major beneficiary of a £300 million government bail-out for summer sport, when Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils the Budget on Wednesday.
The news will come as a major boost to the ECB, which announced losses in excess of £100 million in 2020 after the sport bore the brunt of the first Covid-19 lockdown.
“As a huge cricket fan I know there’s nothing that says summer more than watching your favourite team,” Mr Sunak told The Telegraph. “I can’t wait for sports grounds to be filled with fans with atmosphere again – this £300 million cash boost will help make that a reality.”
The 2020 county season, which had been due to get underway last April, had to be postponed until August with most clubs choosing to furlough their staff in the interim, while the ECB were forced to make 62 redundancies at the end of the season.
The board did manage to mitigate its losses – which had initially be projected to be in excess of £300 million – by ensuring that England’s men fulfilled their complete summer schedule against West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland and Australia.
However, all of those matches, as well as the rescheduled county and women’s season, had to take place behind closed doors due to the pandemic, and county chiefs have warned that a repeat of those circumstances in 2021 would be unsustainable for many clubs.
The Government funding – which is expected to be shared between tennis, horse racing, rugby league and women’s football – will be allocated by an independent committee, led by Sir Ian Cheshire, the former chairman of Barclays Bank, and run through Sport England.
The scheme is effectively an extension of the Sport Winter Survival Package, announced by the Government in November, which was also a £300 million investment, comprising “soft” loans lasting up to 20 years and grants.
Lord Ian Botham told The Telegraph: “Everyone in the cricketing world will be delighted. It’s been a tough time for the sport. But this could give us the opportunity to get the fans safely back in the stadiums, which is the next step. Cricket is our summer sport and I’m pleased that it’s being looked after.”
Though the money will be targeted at the professional level of the game, the ECB is understood to have warned the Government that, without the trickle-down effect that gate receipts have on the finances of English counties in particular, the knock-on effects for grass-roots cricket and the women’s game would be significant.
Kent’s latest financial figures, released on Tuesday, support that concern, with the club reporting a drop in income of almost £2 million from all areas of the business outside of its ECB funding, including membership subscriptions, ticket sales and catering contracts.
“We are facing a critical year from a financial viewpoint,” said Kent Cricket’s Honorary Treasurer, Derek Taylor.
Warwickshire’s chief executive, Stuart Cain, has also welcomed the Government’s measures to safeguard the sport’s finances as “positive news”.
“Like most sports, cricket has taken a huge hit over the last 12 months and it’s only prudent financial measures and generous support from our Club Members that have seen us through,” Cain said. “The devil is in the detail so we look forward to more information on how to access the emergency funding after the budget.”
Limited capacity crowds are due to be allowed back into stadiums by mid-May, according to the Government’s recently announced road-map, although some county venues are hoping to put themselves forward for pilot events from the early weeks of the season.
Cain also confirmed that the club has been working with the ECB and Government on measures to permit larger crowds at Edgbaston during the venue’s first major event of the summer, the second Test against New Zealand in June.
“Using protocols such as testing, masks and vaccine certificates along with other social distancing measures, we’re confident that we can get a sizable crowd in to the game safely, setting sport up for when full crowds could potentially return after June 21.
“The professional game has been played behind closed doors and cricket clubs across the County have struggled with bars closed and restrictions stopping the game being played in the way we love,” Cain added. “Warwickshire Cricket Board have been excellent in the way that they have helped the recreational game through the pandemic.”
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