Sri Lanka’s new T20I captain might be forced to miss at least a part of the series against West Indies
A delay in processing his transit visa to the United States of America has meant that Sri Lanka’s new T20I captain Dasun Shanaka was unable to leave for the Caribbean with the remainder of the squad on Monday.
Shanaka did have a proper US transit visa – valid for five years – on a previous passport. But as he had lost the passport containing that visa two years ago, visa officers for the US have told him they must do additional checks, meaning they were not able to greenlight the visa for this tour in time for him to make the flight.
“I’d lost that passport two years ago, so I think they need to check whether anyone has used that lost passport and visa to travel in the time since,” Shanaka told ESPNcricinfo. “And there was also a delay in my submitting my visa application this time, because the team had to isolate after Thiri aiya (Lahiru Thirimanne) tested positive for Covid-19. I missed my initial appointment and had to take a later appointment.”
Although the wording of a Sri Lanka Cricket release suggests Shanaka did not make the flight because he had lost his passport recently, Shanaka himself suggested the delay was largely unavoidable. In any case, it is hoped that he receives his US visa over the next few days, and could potentially fly out to the West Indies as early as Friday.
However, even if he arrives in Antigua – where Sri Lanka play their T20I series – ahead of March 3, when the first game is scheduled, it is not clear if he will be available to play, as he will need to undergo quarantine.
Shanaka was named Sri Lanka’s T20I captain on Monday, with a view to him leading the side in the T20 World Cup later this year. But it is now possible he will miss part of his first assignment as the permanent leader [he had been stand-in captain for one previous series].
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
Recent Match Report – NZ Women vs ENG Women 1st ODI 2020/21
Tash Farrant stars in first ODI for seven years, but NZ lose tenth match in a row
England Women 181 for 2 (Beaumont 71, Knight 67*) beat New Zealand Women 178 (Jensen 53, Halliday 50) by eight wickets
Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight produced a pair of fluent half-centuries at Hagley Oval, as England Women marked their first ODI in 437 days with a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over New Zealand.
Had it not been for the Covid outbreak, England’s defence of their 2017 World Cup title would have been well underway by now, but instead Knight’s team showed they have learned the lessons of a somewhat rusty loss in their final warm-up in Queenstown last week to reassert their credentials, and inflict on New Zealand a tenth consecutive ODI defeat – the worst losing streak in their history.
In a one-sided contest, New Zealand chose to bat first but were rolled aside for 178 in 45.1 overs, with Hayley Jensen’s 53 from 58 balls at the top of the order being matched by an eye-catching 50 from 54 from the debutant Brooke Halliday at No. 7.
Besides those contributions, however, there was very little substance to New Zealand’s innings, which was perhaps most notable for the return of Tash Farrant to England’s ODI line-up for her second 50-over appearance, almost seven-and-a-half years after her debut against West Indies in November 2013.
Sharing the new ball with Katherine Brunt, Farrant impressed with figures of 2 for 31 in seven overs, with her early dismissal of Amy Satterthwaite for 3 undermining New Zealand’s hopes of a competitive total. Farrant then returned to extract Lea Tahuhu for 8 late in New Zealand’s innings.
Heather Knight’s classy 67 not-out helps England ease past New Zealand
England’s wickets were shared around among their seven bowlers – a testament to how insubstantial New Zealand’s partnerships proved to be. Sophie Ecclestone was the only bowler to complete her full allocation, as she reached 100 international wickets with her haul of 2 for 31 in ten overs of left-arm spin.
New Zealand’s reliance on the likes of Satterthwaite, Sophie Devine and Amelia Kerr meant that their cheap dismissals, inside the first 27 overs of the innings, left the rest of the order caught in two mindsets as they attempted to chisel a decent score.
Katey Martin dug in for 14 from 35 balls before falling victim to Knight, as no player besides the two half-centurions mustered more than Devine’s 16.
England’s reply was brisk and to the point. Danni Wyatt fell in the eighth over, but not before 42 runs were on the board, while Beaumont had struck 11 fours in her innings of 71 before succumbing to Tahuhu, who appeared to compound New Zealand’s concerns when she limped off with a hamstring injury late in the game.
Knight and Natalie Sciver then swept England to victory with few further alarms. New Zealand’s one saving grace was a competitive debut for their 16-year-old left-arm spinner Fran Jonas, who was not flattered by her maiden figures of 0 for 31 in five overs.
“We probably had a bit of a wake-up call against New Zealand XI last week,” Beaumont said. “We needed to tighten up in some areas and certainly the bowlers came out and showed that today. Every single one of them bowled exceptionally well to keep New Zealand to 180, so they really impressed today.”
Aus women vs NZ 2021-22
Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen and Megan Schutt are the core of one of the greatest Australian Women’s sides yet to take the field. Their quality has helped the national team to victories at each of the past two T20 World Cups and dominant runs of victories in bilateral series, in addition to their pioneering place in the game’s vault into full-time professionalism in Australia.
While this generation remains a lauded bunch still vital to the team’s fortunes, the national selector Shawn Flegler is having to plan for the days when they begin to sidle off into retirement, either one by one – as he would no doubt prefer – or as a group leaving an enormous hole. The delay in the next ODI World Cup, meant to have been played in New Zealand presently but postponed by a year ostensibly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, means it is a younger squad going across the Tasman for a series against New Zealand.
This is partly to add to the options Australia have available this time next year, notably the re-addition of Tayla Vlaeminck after she missed the 2020 T20 World Cup on home soil with serious injury, but it is also part of the bigger-picture plans to keep “topping up” the Australian XI with fresh generations, much as Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, and Annabel Sutherland have emerged as regulars over the past couple of years.
“We’ve got an amazing team right now. It’s a strong team, we’ve been able to introduce some young players over the last couple of years in Annabel and Sophie and Georgia, Tahlia McGrath’s had a couple of games here and there as well,” Flegler said. “But you’ve got to keep evolving as a team, you can’t sit still; the competition from around the world is going to keep getting stronger.
“You saw that Indian side with a few of their young players like Shafali Verma, a 16-year-old, so they’re getting international experience and it’s important our best young players get that experience where possible as well.
“That’s the challenge over the next few years, we’ve got some of the best players in the history of Australian cricket playing right now, but at some point the end comes for everyone, so we need to make sure that team keeps evolving and keeps getting stronger.”
“You watch her bowl, it’s exciting, but she’s on the edge the whole time. We want to make sure she’s still bowling for Australia in 10 years hopefully”
Flegler on young pacer Tayla Vlaeminck
That wider focus goes some way to explaining why the likes of Sammy-Jo Johnson, Erin Burns, Molly Strano, Heather Graham and Elyse Villani are missing from the ranks as well as they have played in recent editions of the WBBL. Instead, Darcie Brown, Hannah Darlington are set to experience their first international games, while Sutherland can expect graduating levels of exposure as a batting allrounder who was encouraged wherever possible to go on the attack with the Melbourne Stars.
“Darcie had an outstanding WBBL, a fast bowler, bowling outswing at 17, nearly 18 years of age, an exciting prospect, I’ve seen her since she was 13 or 14, first saw her at the Under-15 national championship,” Flegler said. “So, she’s always had that ball speed within her, she’s improved her accuracy over the last 12 months, but really exciting prospect and I’m sure she’ll enjoy the opportunity over there.
“Hannah has been involved in the pathway all the way through as well, change-up in pace, that sort of closing death bowler option. With Delissa [Kimmince] unavailable for selection, we thought Hannah would be a great addition, particularly for the T20Is, that’s the focus for Hannah. The bonus is with her leadership qualities as well, I’ve seen that in the pathway, she’s captained NSW Metro and has been selected as vice-captain for NSW – I don’t think they’re particularly happy with me selecting her for this tour, but a great opportunity.”
Vlaeminck’s return allows Australia to look again to the sorts of plans they had before the T20 World Cup, namely to use her express pace in the way that Perry’s was once harnessed, in balance with the swing of Schutt and the spin of Jonassen, Wareham and Molineux. “For someone like Tayla, who 12 months ago when she got that injury, you would’ve thought the World Cup was out of the question for her, but now we’re 12 months out from the World Cup, she has the opportunity to go over to New Zealand and test her skills over there,” Flegler said.
“It’s another 12 months into playing Darcie and Annabel, even Georgia and Sophie Molineux, another 12 months of international cricket is great for those players, so while it was disappointing, to have this opportunity to go over there and play some games in those conditions 12 months out from a World Cup is an absolute bonus, whereas we wouldn’t have been doing that if the World Cup was on right now. So, [it is] a great opportunity.
“I can’t imagine we’ll be able to play Tayla in all the matches, she’s coming back from a big injury and we’re still managing her workloads. It’s really important we see her as a really long-term player for Australia and she’s a high-risk athlete. You watch her bowl, it’s exciting, but she’s on the edge the whole time. We want to make sure she’s still bowling for Australia in 10 years hopefully, so we need to look after her, make sure she gets through this series.”
Australia ODI and T20I squad: Meg Lanning (capt), Rachael Haynes, Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham, Belinda Vakarewa, Tayla Vlaeminck
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
NZ vs Aus, 1st T20I, 2020-21
“We were all satisfied with how we went about our planning. It just comes down to an execution thing”
Jhye Richardson said Australia’s bowlers will be looking to improve their execution in the death overs after missing their lengths in the heavy defeat to New Zealand at Hagley Oval in the first T20I of the five-match series.
New Zealand had slumped to 19 for 3 in the Powerplay after being sent in to bat, with Daniel Sams and Richardson bowling superbly upfront.
However, Australia’s bowlers conceded 76 runs in the last six overs of the innings and 33 off the last two, as Devon Conway produced a stunning 99 not out to lift New Zealand to a winning total of 184 for 5.
Richardson was the pick of Australia’s quicks claiming 2 for 31 on his return to the T20I side. He only bowled one over in the last four, picking up the wicket of James Neesham, but he did admit he didn’t quite hit his lengths, conceding a six each to Conway and Glenn Phillips in his four overs.
“I think from a personal point of view I certainly missed my length,” Richardson said. “I think they batted really well. The outfield was exceptionally fast. It got a little bit dewy at the end so we found the ball was probably skidding on a little bit more at the end as to the start of the innings which probably helped them a little bit, just in terms of slower balls not sticking into the wicket as much as they were earlier.
“If we missed our length we got punished. I think the planning and everything from that aspect was fine. We were all satisfied with how we went about our planning and the decisions made out there. It just comes down to an execution thing.”
Australia were then surprised that the ball swung as prodigiously as it did for New Zealand under lights after the dew had settled in with Trent Boult and Tim Southee ripping through the top order to leave them 19 for 4.
“They just kept it really simple, didn’t they?” Richardson said. “How often do you see three slips in a T20? We probably didn’t expect the ball to swing for that long and that much, to be honest. [It] didn’t really swing too much in our innings.
“It was a little bit of a surprise but knowing that now, it’s something we’ll keep in the back of our mind going into the next game. [Boult and Southee are] two class bowlers and we saw them keep it really simple while the ball was swinging, just bowling a really nice line and length and making us make mistakes.”
Richardson was pleased to be back playing at the international level. It was just his second appearance for Australia since his shoulder injury in 2019, and his first in 12 months after missing Australia’s tour to England and the ODI and T20I series against India before Christmas.
He spoke in the build-up about trying to take some pressure off himself after struggling with the weight of his own expectations at the end of the BBL.
“I think I had plenty of time between the end of the Big Bash and now to think about how I was going about my last few Big Bash games, putting myself under a lot of pressure,” Richardson said.
“I had a lot of time to think and reflect on that and went into the game really wanting to enjoy myself and not put myself under so much pressure because I know what I’ve done to get to this point. I can trust that.
“I just went out there yesterday with the sole focus of just trying to enjoy myself and certainly did.”
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne
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