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
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.
Has Perry got her mojo back?
What will the next phase of Ellyse Perry‘s international career look like? She is one of the greatest players the game has seen and there is plenty of time to further enhance her standout numbers, but there is now more competition than ever. This will be her first international cricket in more than a year during which she has come back from a serious hamstring injury. In the WBBL her batting strike-rate was a talking point while she claimed just eight wickets with an economy rate of 8.25 and then in the WNCL, where she scored three consecutive fifties, she claimed just two wickets in six matches as she got used to some tweaks to her action. Will the two elements of her game come together on this tour?
The first ODI next month will give Australia the chance to set a new record for consecutive wins after they equaled the mark of 21 of Ricky Ponting’s 2003 side. Many of the results in that run have not been close. The team talk of the record as not much more than a headline that others make, a result of them keeping a singular focus on their next match. But they do often recall the pain of the 2017 ODI World Cup when they lost in the semi-final to India. Since then, making amends for that has been high on the agenda. The results, so far, have been outstanding although it’s what happens next year that will decide whether it’s mission accomplished.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
The Hundred – Jofra Archer not expected to link up with Southern Brave this week
Team hopeful of having the pacer for the last four games as he continues a gradual comeback from elbow surgery
Archer has played twice for Sussex in the last 10 days, first bowling three overs in their Vitality Blast win against Kent and a further six against Oxfordshire in a 50-over warm-up match last Tuesday, but has not linked up with the Southern Brave squad since the start of the Hundred and is not expected to do so this week.
“It’s one of those where I’m staying out of it and leaving it to the experts in that area. Hopefully we do get him because it would be a big boost for us, but if we don’t, we’ve got guys who are capable here.”
An ECB spokesperson said that a further update on Archer’s fitness was expected next week but did not confirm whether he had been given a pain-killing injection in the last two days. Archer underwent elbow surgery in May following an aborted comeback from the injury at the start of the English summer.
The Brave were the pre-tournament favourites for the men’s competition but have lost both of their first two games and are already in danger of missing out on the knockout stages, with only the top three teams progressing. Mahela Jayawardene, their head coach, has regularly recovered from sluggish starts while coaching Mumbai Indians in the IPL, and Vince suggested that his recent experience with Hampshire – who squeezed into the Blast’s quarter-finals in the final round of group games – meant he was not panicking yet.
“I’m sure we’ll realise that we need to start winning soon but I’ve just been part of a Hampshire side in the Blast that got off to a bit of a slow start and then managed to play some great cricket towards the back end and get some momentum going,” he said. “I think this format will be very similar.
“We’re aware we need to improve in a few areas but we were much better [on Tuesday] and had our chance to win the game. The next three or four games coming up will be important to make sure we’re there or thereabouts come the last few.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
Recent Match Report – Somerset vs Glamorgan Group 1 2021
Michael Hogan’s four-for not enough as Glamorgan let several winning positions slip
Somerset 180 for 7 (Green 87, Hogan 4-33) beat Glamorgan 179 for 9 by one run
Andy Gorvin needed a six off the last ball of the game from left-arm spinner Goldsworthy to win the game for Glamorgan and came close with a powerful four over the bowler’s head.
Play did not start until 12.10pm, with the game initially reduced to 42 overs per side. Somerset’s innings had only occupied 2.4 of them, with five runs scored, when rain forced the players off.
That was enough time for Hogan to strike twice, Sam Young caught behind off the fourth ball of the innings and Steven Davies brilliantly snapped up by Gorvin at midwicket from the first delivery of the third over.
On the resumption, the veteran pace bowler took his figures to 3 for 3 by bowling George Bartlett between bat and pad and then had James Hildreth caught at first slip.
Somerset were in disarray at 49 for 5 when Eddie Byrom feathered a ball from offspinner Steven Reingold through to wicketkeeper Cullen.
But Green and Goldsworthy calmly steadied the ship and had taken the total to 84 for 5 in the 26th over when heavier rain brought another stoppage at 2.10pm.
Half an hour later, with a further reduction in overs, Green and Goldsworthy batted with far more intent. Green was the main aggressor, with Goldsworthy notching just one boundary in his valuable innings before slogging a catch to cow corner off Callum Taylor.
Green, cut loose in the closing overs with some majestic shots until playing a ball from Lukas Carey onto his stumps in the final over.
Glamorgan’s reply began badly when Hamish Rutherford fell lbw to the final ball of Jack Brooks’ opening over.
Eighteen-year-old Baker then got a ball to lift at Nick Selman’s ribs, forcing the opener to loop up a catch to the diving Byrom, running in from square leg.
Aldridge produced a similar quick delivery, his first of the game, to have Kiran Carlson caught by wicketkeeper Davies for 21. And when Green also struck with his opening delivery, bowling Reingold for 16, Glamorgan were 52 for 4.
Cullen and Root then put together a well-paced stand of 76 to put their team in sight of victory. It ended when Cullen was caught behind down the leg side off Aldridge, who followed up by having Joe Cooke taken by wicketkeeper Davies.
Root fell to George Drissell, the former Gloucestershire offspinner making his Somerset debut, top-edging a slog-sweep with 38 still needed.
Carey did his best with two boundaries, but other wickets fell cheaply and 10 off the final over for the last pair proved too much.
Recent Match Report – West Indies vs Pakistan 1st T20I 2021
Hasan Ali and debutant Mohammad Wasim impress for Pakistan with the ball
No result West Indies 85 for 5 (Pollard 22*, Hasan 2-11, Qadir 1-6) vs Pakistan
Incessant rain first reduced the first West Indies-Pakistan T20I to a nine-over shootout before eventually washing away the match. Pakistan had chosen to bowl first under cloudy skies with rain also predicted, but the teams raced off to the dressing room just after completing their national anthems. It took almost three hours for the rain to stop and the ground to dry, with the umpires then deciding to curtail the contest.
Debutant Wasim has instant impact
Wasim was taken off after that, but returned to bowl the seventh over. After hurting Simmons, he then had Chris Gayle caught at long-on as the bowler now brought out the slower ball. Gayle, who had come in after Simmons, played away from his body to try and heave that, but only found the fielder in search of rapid runs.
Amidst a flurry of dot balls – which were 30 in total – and a bunch of extras, which contributed 14, there were five wickets claimed with as many sixes slammed from the third over until the eighth. Hasan Ali got two, while Mohammad Hafeez, Usman Qadir and Wasim all grabbed a wicket each. Nicholas Pooran cracked twin sixes off Hafeez, before Gayle deposited Shadab Khan over his head and Andre Russell dispatched Qadir over extra cover – all this, before Pollard got into Ali with a whip.
Pollard provides late entertainment, but Hasan delivers too
Pollard arrived at the crease with one ball of the sixth over left, but watched from the other end as Gayle fell in the following over with West Indies’ run rate still under nine. With Pollard on strike, Ali was brought back for the eighth after foxing Evin Lewis off his first ball earlier in the innings. This time, Ali was whacked first ball over deep square leg as Pollard swung his bat to a good length ball on middle and leg, and despite not quite finding the middle of the bat, sent the ball sailing over deep square leg.
But that was the only boundary Ali conceded off his two overs, digging the slower balls perfectly on a rain-affected pitch to keep the West Indies batters quiet. Ali then got Shimron Hetmyer three balls later – Mohammad Rizwan completed a good diving catch – with the hosts struggling for momentum amidst the numerous cutters from the visiting bowlers.
Pollard was on 10 off 5 deliveries when only four balls remained in the innings, and the West Indies captain ensured they were well taken care of. A dot ball later, Shaheen Afridi pitched one short on middle and leg as Pollard pulled fiercely to bisect deep square leg and deep midwicket for four. After nabbing two more runs, he ended with a maximum by sending the ball crashing over deep square leg when he made room to a length ball on middle and off, and pulled with disdain. Although he got 12 runs off the last three balls, rain would have the final say with Pakistan not having to chase the total.
Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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