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Covid-19 effect – ICC sets up fund for financially-hit members

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The moved is aimed at helping cash-strapped boards host cricket during the pandemic

The ICC has set up a USD $5 million fund to help members who are struggling with staging international cricket during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The Member Support Fund is available over the next three years and has been set up in response to the rising costs of staging cricket in bio-secure environments.

“There are boards currently who are struggling and are short of cash, who have said that they cannot host cricket as it needs to be during the pandemic,” an official told ESPNcricinfo. “Costs of arranging chartered flights, of ensuring hotels are fully biosecure, which means booking out entire hotels – these are all extra costs that some of the smaller boards have pointed to and said, either we have more money or we can’t do it. So it’s trying to help cricket carry on.”

The exact percentages have not been discussed but the ICC’s contribution will not go over 50% of the grant application. Each board will be required to make a business case for why they are asking for a grant.

Concerns over the financial fallout of a spate of cancelled or postponed bilateral series have been building over the last year. The postponement of the T20 World Cup, originally due to be played last year in October-November in Australia was also earmarked as a disruptive moment, given that a majority of cricket boards rely heavily on revenues from ICC events that are distributed to them twice a year.



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Recent Match Report – Durham vs Middlesex Group 2 2021

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Middlesex thwarted by two runs on DLS despite Handscomb and White fifties

Durham 288 for 8 (Borthwick 76) beat Middlesex 225 for 9 (Handscomb 75) by two runs (DLS method)

Durham skipper Scott Borthwick top-scored with 76 and then delivered a crucial over to secure his side’s second straight Royal London Cup success as they edged a rain-affected clash with Middlesex at Radlett.

Borthwick struck 76 in Durham’s total of 288 for 8, supported by half-centuries from Graham Clark and Luke Doneathy, only for Peter Handscomb and Robbie White to put Middlesex on track for victory with a fourth-wicket partnership of 130.

But both fell in quick succession just before rain forced the players from the field at 173 for 5 from 32 overs – which was enough to push the home side behind under Duckworth-Lewis-Stern calculations.

They returned for a further four-over thrash – with Borthwick conceding just four from his six balls and, despite a valiant flurry of boundaries by Thilan Walallawita, Middlesex fell just short of the revised target of 228.

Clark – who had struck a career-best 141 against Kent two days earlier – continued his form when Durham won the toss and batted, hammering three boundaries from Tim Murtagh’s opening over.

Despite the early loss of Alex Lees, well held by Sam Robson at midwicket, Clark and Borthwick scored freely in their partnership of 108, aided by some ragged Middlesex outfielding.

Luke Hollman spilled a pull from Clark on the boundary and the opener progressed to 65 before he went after Robson’s long-hop and picked out the diving Handscomb in the deep.

Hollman made amends for his earlier drop by removing Cameron Bancroft for a second-ball duck, but Borthwick found a willing ally in David Bedingham, who pummelled 41 from 31 deliveries to dominate their brisk stand of 66.

At 193 for 3, Durham looked on course to post a daunting total, only for Borthwick to squander his opportunity of a maiden List A hundred by holing out off Murtagh and Bedingham departed in the next over, caught behind off James Harris.

The visitors’ innings threatened to stall entirely, but a fearless knock by 20-year-old Doneathy – who clubbed five fours and a sweetly-struck straight six off Harris in his maiden 50 from 48 balls – gave them renewed impetus.

Middlesex were soon floundering at 37 for 3 in reply, with Max Holden falling to Jack Campbell and Varun Chopra lbw shuffling across against Chris Rushworth, who then bowled Robson with one that nipped back to hit off stump.

Handscomb and White undertook the reconstruction job, with the skipper employing the sweep shot to good effect and using his feet against spin in a knock of 75 from 71 balls.

White opted for placement rather than power and picked the gaps consistently, reaching his first 50-over half-century with a leg-side boundary off Borthwick – but Campbell made the breakthrough, returning for a second spell to have him caught behind for 55.

When Handscomb fell in the next over, Durham shot ahead under the DLS calculation – and that was how it remained when a downpour descended on the ground soon afterwards.



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Recent Match Report – Fire vs Brave 8th Match 2021

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Death bowling proves decisive as Vince, de Kock, Whiteley threaten in chase

Welsh Fire 165 for 4 (Bairstow 72, Duckett 53) beat Southern Brave 147 for 7 (Vince 40, Neesham 3-5) by 18 runs

Led by a second consecutive half-century from captain Jonny Bairstow, Welsh Fire maintained their position as the surprise pace-setters in the Men’s Hundred, seeing off Southern Brave in a high-scoring encounter in Cardiff. Bairstow smashed 72 from 39 during a century stand with Ben Duckett and although Brave started aggressively in their chase, a clatter of wickets during the second half left them short.
Fire’s batting continued their impressive start to the tournament by making the third-highest 100-ball total – just eight runs shy of their own record, set during a pulsating opening win at Headingley on Saturday. Tom Banton set the tone by striking two of his first three balls for six on the way to 34 from 23, Bairstow picked up the pace after a slow start to become the leading run-scorer in the men’s competition, and Duckett was particularly severe on Brave’s mystery bowler, the left-arm wristspinner Jake Lintott making his first appearance of the campaign.
As well as bringing in Lintott and Craig Overton, after a supine defeat in their opening fixture away to Trent Rockets, Brave were buoyed by the arrival of Quinton de Kock from international duty with South Africa. But although de Kock made a frenzied start to the chase and James Vince kept them on track with 40 from 27, Fire held their nerve and closed out the game via impressive spells from Jake Ball and Jimmy Neesham, who finished with exemplary figures of 3 for 5 from his 15.
Opening gambit
As the women’s match earlier in the day reiterated, Sophia Gardens is not a particularly hospitable ground for slow bowlers – particularly fingerspinners. When England play in Cardiff, Adil Rashid is usually the only specialist picked; the two T20I internationals this summer saw them rely on a battery of pace bowling supported by Rashid’s legspin, which tends to be held back (and has the added advantage of the batter not being certain which way the ball will turn).

But when Brave walked out to bowl after winning the toss, Vince threw the ball to Danny Briggs. A left-armer, Briggs might have had the advantage of turning the ball away from Fire’s openers, Bairstow and Banton; but both are right-handers of aggressive demeanour and more than capable of targeting the short, straight boundaries if Briggs erred. Vince’s decision prompted the England analyst, Nathan Leamon, to tweet: “That is Southern BRAVE!!!”

Banton duly took a look at Briggs’ first ball, decided there wasn’t much to fear, and popped the next two back down the ground for sixes, before following up with a boundary swept behind square. Sixteen runs from three scoring shots and Fire were cooking.

Bairstow bides time
With Banton sounding the bugle, Bairstow was left searching for the spark that had ignited Fire’s opening win at Headingley. In that game, Bairstow creamed 39 out of an opening stand of 43 with Banton; here it was the younger man who took charge, scoring 30 out of Fire’s 38 for 0 in the Powerplay.

Even after Banton was dismissed, bowled by Lintott’s first delivery in the competition, Bairstow remained subdued. His only boundary in the first half of the innings was an inside edge off Tymal Mills, but he resolved to turn over the strike and allow his partner to attack – Duckett picked up the Banton baton by twice reverse-sweeping fours off Lintott and then using the pace of Overton to ramp a six over the keeper. From the end of the Powerplay until the 67th ball, Fire managed only four boundaries as the second-wicket pair took the game deep.

But nobody puts Jonny in the corner for long in white-ball cricket these days. Having been 20 from 21, a pulled four off Overton helped him find his range, before another moment of fortune saw a miscue off Mills fly for six over the keeper’s head. Then he was away, hitting two sixes and two fours in a set from Colin de Grandhomme that cost 22 as Bairstow raised his half-century from 31 balls.

Duckett had also sensed the moment, carting four consecutives boundaries off Lintott via a selection of sweeps, while Briggs was twice fetched into the stands by Bairstow, making his last appearance before going on Test duty with England. The damage for Brave would have been worse had he not picked out long-on with six balls remaining.

Brave attempt
Cardiff’s dimensions come into play for teams defending, particularly as the ball gets old, with pace off the ball and cutters bowled into the pitch forcing batters to take on the long, square boundaries. If they were going to be successful, Brave would likely have to go hard early on and try to get ahead of the rate against new ball and with fielding restrictions in place.

Fire started with an over from Glenn Phillips, perhaps with the left-handed de Kock in mind; but Vince took strike and carved out two boundaries. Matt Critchley’s legspin was hit straight back over his head by de Kock, who also launched David Payne for a brace of sixes in his opening set, before pulling to deep backward square for 21 off 7. But Vince and Devon Conway, who successfully reviewed after being given out caught behind off Qais Ahmad, kept a decent tempo as Brave finished their Powerplay on 55 for 1 – significantly ahead of Fire’s mark earlier in the day.

After 50 balls, Vince and Conway had taken the score on to 85 for 1 and Brave were more than halfway to their target. But Fire removed Conway, Vince and Colin de Grandhomme in quick succession, as Brave only added 11 from 15 and the required runs per ball hit 2 for the first time.

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick



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Recent Match Report – Surrey vs Notts Group 1 2021

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A total of 548 runs scored in 52 overs as rain triggers 30-over mayhem

Surrey 311 for 8 (Patel 131, Smith 54) beat Nottinghamshire 266 for 7 (Slater 69, Evison 54) by 33 runs (DLS method)

There’s a generally held view that the life of a modern sportsperson is a glamorous affair full of travel and adulation. And it’s true, the good days can be pretty damn good.

But not if you’re a bowler confronted with Guildford. This is a desperately tough ground on which to bowl. The flat pitch is complemented by short boundaries and an outfield that slopes a little from the square meaning the ball picks up pace as it approaches the rope. Really, it’s the sort of place to make a bowler wish they had persuaded a career in sewage treatment instead of sport. It is brutal.

The bare facts of this match are this: in 52 overs (following an early stoppage for rain), 548 runs were scored between these two sides. At one stage, as sixes rained down onto Woodbridge Road despite the high fencing designed to avoid such mishaps, you feared for the safety of pedestrians and motorists. One motorcyclist will, thankfully, arrive home this evening having no idea that a six from Rikki Clarke missed him by an inch.

Some will suggest that such surfaces, offering little balance between bat and ball, are not especially good for the game. And it is true that an attempt from a pensioner to throw a ball back into the ground – it took him four efforts – was one of the more competitive moments of the afternoon. The fence really did put up a terrific fight. But for anyone who wasn’t a bowler – or especially sympathetic to bowlers – it provided rich entertainment for a crowd which included former Prime Minster, Sir John Major, lots of families on summer holiday and a stag party dressed as flamingos.

That Surrey prevailed was largely due to two career-best innings from Ryan Patel and Jamie Smith. It’s worth reiterating that Surrey have lost 11 players to the Hundred and Nottinghamshire nine, so players like this are winning opportunities which might otherwise be denied them. Though whether any bowler feels this was an opportunity is debatable.

Surrey had reached 28 for 1 after eight overs before rain interrupted their innings. But, after a prolonged delay, they resumed in such style that they plundered 282 in the next 22 overs. Two hundred and eighty two! Their innings included 23 sixes and, not only the fastest List A century from a Surrey player since 2007, but what is believed to be the quickest List A half-century ever made in England (an equally quick one was made in Wales by Somerset’s Graham Rose).



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