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New Zealand vs Australia talking points

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There are pace bowlers to keep an eye on and the superb Amelia Kerr

Australia will return to action for the first time in almost six months with another Trans-Tasman battle against a struggling New Zealand side. The main focus for the next 12 months will be one-day cricket ahead of the World Cup, but with a Commonwealth Games next year, T20 cricket continues to hold plenty of importance. Here are a few things to watch for over the next six games

Australia’s aggression

Matthew Mott has spoken about Australia pushing their boundaries. There is unlikely to be huge change to their approach to T20 cricket – they are a well-oiled outfit that rarely takes a backward step – but it will be interesting to watch their approach in the ODIs with a view to next year’s World Cup. There was a glimpse in the final match of the previous series where they racked up 325 in Brisbane; a blistering start led by Alyssa Healy capped off by a powerful finish from the middle order. When batters such as Jess Jonassen and Georgia Wareham make up the lower order there is immense depth to allow orders to play with freedom. If conditions and opportunity presents they have a batting line-up capable of large totals.

Pressure on Devine

New Zealand need their captain to step up. Sophie Devine had a poor return against England with scores of 16, 6, 15, 2, 8 and 0 across six innings into the ODIs and T20Is. Kirsty Bond, a former New Zealand player and selector, recently suggested a change of captaincy was needed to revive both Devine’s and the team’s fortunes. “I know that my performances haven’t been up to scratch in the last series, but look, I more than back myself in terms of leading this team at this moment,” was Devine’s response. The prize of captaincy your country in a home World Cup is significant and it would seem unlikely there will be a change of leadership, but without doubt New Zealand need Devine’s runs.

The pace pack

Australia are excited about the pace-bowling resources they have coming through. Tayla Vlaeminck is back after a long injury while the uncapped Darcie Brown can bowl rapid outswingers. There is a sense Australia want to reshape their attack from the spin-dominated unit (which has been very successful) to one that has more speed on offer – a point of difference, as Rachael Haynes called it. Pushing the speedgun is one of the areas of significant development in the women’s game and, unsurprisingly, Australia want to make sure they are ahead of the rest.

Who will help Amelia Kerr?

It is easy to forget that Amelia Kerr is still only 20. She is both a senior figure in the New Zealand side and a key part of the future stretching many years ahead. It is no surprise that the two most recent victories they have managed – the third ODI against England and the third T20I against Australia in September – came with starring roles from her. But she needs others to develop around her. Oppositions are becoming smart at negotiating her overs with minimal damage (her excellence means they don’t always manage it) then cashing in elsewhere but it has been a positive move to elevate her in the batting order. The return of offspinner Leigh Kasperek (who missed the tour of Australia due to travel restrictions) has been a boost while Lea Tahuhu’s comeback will help the one-day side.



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Jofra Archer ‘happy to go back in the bubble’ after confirming Test fitness bid is on track

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Fiery outing for Sussex shows progress in recovery from elbow and finger injuries

Jofra Archer demonstrated that his return to fitness is firmly on track following a fiery performance for Sussex on the opening day of their LV= County Championship clash with Kent at Hove, and confirmed he would be ready to step back into the England bubble if selected for the two-Test series against New Zealand, at Lord’s and Edgbaston next month.

Archer claimed 2 for 29 in 13 well-grooved overs, with both of his scalps coming in his opening four-over spell, including his England team-mate Zak Crawley, who was caught behind for 7. Kent were rolled aside for 145 inside 55 overs, with Archer’s fellow England prospect, Ollie Robinson, also starring with 3 for 29 in 18 overs.

It was Archer’s first Championship appearance for Sussex since September 2018, and potentially his last of the season too, given that the county has no fixture in next week’s round of games – the last that England’s Test players will be able to play ahead of the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s, beginning on June 2.

But, after a low-key outing for Sussex’s second XI against Surrey last week, he assuaged many concerns about his recovery from both a long-term elbow injury, and an operation to remove a shard of glass from the middle finger of his right hand.

“It’s great to play again with the [Sussex] lads who I’ve played with nearly all of my career,” Archer told the ECB Reporters’ Network afterwards.

“My fitness is fine, I thought I bowled okay. I played in the second team last week and it’s good to get some confidence and I felt fine. I bowled in short spells for protection in case we had a long day but it was overcast, which helped a bit. There was a bit of management, but it all worked out.



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Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell offered their first New Zealand central contracts

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Left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, though, was omitted from the 20-man list

Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell have been offered their first New Zealand central contracts, for the 2021-22 season. However, Ajaz Patel, who won his first deal last year, has been omitted from the 20-member list.

BJ Watling, who had announced his decision to retire from all forms of cricket after the World Test Championship (WTC) final in June, dropped out of the list.

Phillips had dislodged Ross Taylor to become a permanent member of the T20I side, slotting into the middle order and also pitching in with his quickish offbreaks. He even reeled off New Zealand’s fastest T20I century, off 46 balls, against West Indies, at the Bay Oval in November last year. In all, Phillips played 14 T20Is last summer, hitting 366 runs at an average of 40.66 and strike rate of just under 185.

As for Mitchell, he stepped in for Colin de Grandhomme, who had been sidelined from the entire home summer with injury, and played key roles across formats. He struck his maiden Test and ODI centuries in addition to contributing with the ball.



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Recent Match Report – Durham vs Worcs Group 1 2021

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Hosts recover to post competitive 246 on opening day at Chester-le-Street

Worcestershire 6 for 0 trail Durham 246 (Lees 99, Tongue 5-39) by 240 runs

Worcestershire’s Josh Tongue claimed a five-wicket haul to bowl Durham out for 246 on the opening day of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash at Emirates Riverside.

Tongue was on the mark for the visitors to tear through the Durham middle and lower order with figures of 5 for 39 in his second appearance of the campaign. Alex Lees continued his fine form for the hosts with the bat, falling just short of a deserved century with an innings of 99.

Through Lees’ exploits and an unbeaten 38 from Brydon Carse, the home side worked their way to a competitive total. The Worcestershire openers were faced with a tough three-over spell before bad light brought a premature end to the day with the visitors six without loss.

Worcestershire’s bowlers found their rhythm after inserting the home side. The Durham openers found life tricky against the new ball and Joe Leach, who was rewarded for a fine opening spell when he pinned Will Young lbw with an inswinger. Charlie Morris maintained the pressure for the visitors and removed Scott Borthwick, who edged to Tom Fell at third slip.

Lees and David Bedingham stemmed the tide and saw the home side through to the lunch interval without further damage at 80 for 2. The two players put on fifty for the third wicket, but a loose Bedingham drive allowed Morris to break the stand. Lees was the only batsman that seemed comfortable, and he manoeuvred his way to his third fifty of the season from 145 balls.

Tongue turned the day in favour of the visitors as he ended a promising partnership between Lees and Jack Burnham, removing the latter lbw for 23 before using a well-aimed bouncer to force Ned Eckersley to play on to his stumps.

Lees accelerated the rate of his innings amid the clatter of wickets at the opposite end. He surged his way into the nineties with a fine array of strokes, but was agonisingly caught behind from a wide ball from Leach on 99 on the stroke of tea.

Carse and Mark Wood added valuable runs for the ninth wicket to take Durham past the 200-run mark and their first batting point. However, Tongue wrapped up the innings with two excellent deliveries to skittle Wood and Chris Rushworth to claim his first five-wicket haul of the term.



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