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‘Still a work in progress’

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Also said the Australia women have received some advice from their male counterparts on how to adjust to cricket after a period of quarantine in NZ

It has been more than a year since Ellyse Perry limped out of the T20 World Cup after severely injuring her hamstring. She has admitted it has taken her all that time to return to a level close to what she was pre-injury. And there’s more work to be done too.

She has also used the opportunity – and the imbalance between training and playing created by the Covid-19 – to make adjustments to her run-up, which have taken time to feel natural. Her Australia comeback will be against the same side she was facing when the dreams of a home World Cup final were shattered.

Perry sat out Australia’s one international assignment since the World Cup – the visit by New Zealand last September – before returning to action in the WBBL with Sydney Sixers which followed shortly after.

The runs came at a good volume – 390 at 48.75 – but a strike-rate of below 100 (96.53) was enough to create some debate about her batting. Meanwhile, with the ball, it was a struggle as she claimed eight wickets with an economy rate of 8.35 and that was followed by a WNCL campaign for Victoria where she took just two wickets in six matches.

“Throughout my rehab process I saw that as a great opportunity to work on a few different things and one of those was improving the efficiency or effectiveness of my run-up to give me a little more balance and power at the crease,” Perry explained. “That was a work in progress and bringing it into the first round of actual competition at the start of the WNCL, I didn’t expect it to go smoothly. Those first couple of games against New South Wales probably weren’t perfect but since then it’s been really great because I’ve been able to iron that out. It feels fine now.”



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West Indies vs Australia, 5th T20I, 2021

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The visitors are already without many players who would make up their usual ODI top order

Australia will monitor the fitness of captain Aaron Finch ahead of the ODI series against West Indies after he picked up a knee injury during the final T20I in St Lucia.

Finch twisted his knee in the field and was significantly hampered during the Australian chase, especially when running between the wickets. His innings of 34 was ended by a spectacular catch at long-on by Fabian Allen as Australia fell 16 short to concede the series 4-1. A Cricket Australia spokesperson said Finch had a mild knee complaint earlier in the tour, which he had fully recovered from.

The squad travels to Barbados on Saturday ahead of the three-match ODI series, which begins on Tuesday. They are already without the majority of the players who would make up their usual ODI top order, so they would want Finch in their XI.



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Recent Match Report – Lancashire vs Durham North Group 2021

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High-scoring thriller comes down to the final over as Durham take it deep

Lancashire 199 for 5 (Allen 66, Jennings 56) beat Durham 193 for 5 (Dickson 53, Bedingham 50) by six runs

Lancashire do not have blissful memories of this fixture. Three years ago they failed to score six off the final over when they had four wickets in hand. That defeat led to one or two frank exchanges in the dressing room and the departure of Jordan Clark to Surrey, albeit that had been possible for a while. Then last year their batsmen were swept aside like shingle in a perigean spring tide by an ecstatic Matty Potts.

And for much of this magnificent and vital contest it looked as though Durham were up to their quite recent tricks yet again. Chasing 200 for victory, a total they had never scored to win a T20 match, Cameron Bancroft’s men approached their task with very typical courage. David Bedingham was largely responsible for his side taking 78 runs off their Powerplay overs and even after he had been caught at short third man for 50 by the substitute fielder Jack Blatherwick off Tom Hartley, the visitors’ pursuit was maintained on a very good batting pitch by Sean Dickson. With two overs to be bowled 26 runs were still needed but Luke Wood had Dickson caught at long-off by Steven Croft for 53 and Danny Lamb kept his no doubt febrile nerve to bowl a series of yorkers when Durham needed 15 off the final six balls. Lancashire won by half a dozen runs but the visitors came closer than that and as so often in such contests the emotional polarities at the end of the match were revealing.

For this game mattered a lot. The Vitality Blast season has moved from simple entertainment to dread consequence. Most analyses of this evening’s programme began with “if” and ended in a labyrinth of knotted possibilities. Simplicity was rarer than Prime Ministerial truth. And even now Lancashire have secured the victory, things are not completely clear. True, Durham now have no chance of reaching the quarter-finals, a fate they hardly deserve, but Lancashire’s place in the last eight rests on – wouldn’t you guess it? – the game against Yorkshire. Win that and they can look forward to an away quarter-final. Lose and their fate depends on Northants and Leicestershire defeating Birmingham and Worcestershire on Sunday.

The most straightforward way of dealing with affairs – and also the most pleasing from head coach Glen Chapple’s point of view – would be simply to beat Yorkshire, and that task will be facilitated if Finn Allen and Keaton Jennings bat as they did in the opening overs against Durham. As though carrying scarred, second-hand recollections of recent games against these opponents, Lancashire’s openers began by dismantling Bancroft’s attack and then demolished it almost completely. The first four overs of the innings brought 45 runs, the Powerplay 75. Spin or seam, left hand or right, it made no difference. Allen hit three sixes in reaching his fifty off 21 balls, equalling the second quickest in the county’s short-form history. He and Jennings put on 101 in eight overs before the New Zealander holed out to Scott Borthwick’s leg spin for 66, Carse taking the catch at long-off. Two overs later Jennings top-edged the same bowler to Paul van Meekeren at short fine leg and departed for 43.

The run-scoring slackened in the third quarter of the innings and perhaps it could scarcely have done otherwise. Alex Davies and Dane Vilas took stock to the extent that none of the overs between the ninth and fifteenth yielded ten or more runs. Then Davies whacked Trevaskis for a six and a four and Lancashire were off again. Well, at least Davies was. The endlessly combative batter reached his fifty off 36 balls in the 19th over but holed out to Borthwick off Potts at long-on for 56 four balls later and Lancashire finished on 199 for 5. Borthwick was the pick of the Durham bowlers and his 2 for 30 were the best figures. That is not always the way. Statistics sometimes wrong-foot performance in this game.

Similarly a side chasing a tall total can often fold up and subside. But that has never been Durham’s way. Bedingham belted almost every bowler in the Powerplay and Dickson’s approach to his task was epitomised when he whacked a straight six off Croft that smashed a window in the home dressing room and left an outraged Chapple standing arms akimbo on the balcony as if making the points that someone had got to pay for the damage and Lancashire are not made of windows.

So the T20 season comes down to the last weekend of group games. Lancashire can be encouraged that they have now won five of their six home games and tied the other. On the other side they would not be facing such a tense denouement to their campaign if they had more than just one win from seven matches on their travels. An incompetent philanderer could not have played away with less success.

Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications



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Mark Boucher admits South Africa affected by bio-bubble unrest at home

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“To say it’s not affecting us is not true. It is affecting us and every South African.”

The pressures of being in a bio-bubble amid unrest in South Africa is taking its toll on the national team, who shared the three-match ODI series with Ireland 1-1. South Africa came back from defeat on Tuesday to beat Ireland convincingly on Friday, but the head coach Mark Boucher acknowledged it has been a challenge to keep intensity levels up as the players try to cope with bad news from home.

Not only is South Africa in the grip of its third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, but riots and looting in the Gauteng and Kwa-Zuly Natal provinces have left more than 200 people dead and caused food and medical shortages, crippling parts of the country. “To say it’s not affecting us is not true. It is affecting us and every South African,” Boucher said.



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