The Capitals coach also shares light on Shaw’s unusual theories on batting practice during IPL 2020
Ricky Ponting has been witness to Prithvi Shaw‘s fluctuating form from close quarters ever since his appointment as coach of Delhi Capitals (then Delhi Daredevils) in 2018. And the Australian’s verdict on Shaw is clear. He has the abilities to be a “superstar player”, but for him to achieve that, Ponting believes the young Indian batsman needs to change his approach to the game.
Ponting, however, believes Shaw might have already changed, having recently amassed 827 runs in eight matches in the 2020-21 Vijay Hazare Trophy, India’s domestic 50-over competition. But interactions with the Indian opener during IPL 2020 had left him confused.
“I’ve had some really interesting chats with him through last year’s IPL, just trying to break him down, trying to find out exactly what was the right way to coach him and how I was going to get the best out of him,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“He had an interesting theory on his batting last year. When he’s not scoring runs, he won’t bat, and when he is scoring runs, he wants to keep batting all the time. He had four or five games where he made under 10 and I’m telling him, ‘We have to go to the nets and work out [what’s wrong]’, and he looked me in the eye and said, ‘No, I’m not batting today’. I couldn’t really work that out.
“He might have changed. I know he’s done a lot of work over the last few months, that theory that he had might have changed, and hopefully, it has, because if we can get the best out of him, he could be a superstar player.”
Ponting said that during IPL 2020, he had let Shaw know that he disagreed with his philosophy about practice. Shaw – who started the tournament as the Capitals’ incumbent opener – averaged 17.53 in 13 innings last season and eventually lost his place in the XI due to poor form.
“I was going pretty hard at him,” Ponting said. “I was basically telling him, ‘Mate you’ve got to get in the nets. Whatever you think you’re working on, is not working for you.’
“It’s my job as a coach to challenge someone’s preparation if they’re not getting results. So I challenged him and he stuck to his word and he didn’t practice much at all towards the back-end of the tournament, and didn’t get many runs towards the back-end of the tournament either.”
Ponting, however, believes that Shaw’s form coming into the tournament, having averaged 165.40 at a strike rate of 138.29 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, is perfect for the Capitals because it gives the side a better balance. Talking beyond the IPL, Ponting said that a successful Shaw makes the Indian international team stronger too.
“Maybe [his training habits] have changed for the better, because [his success] won’t just be for the Delhi Capitals, I’m sure you’ll see him play a lot of cricket for India as well in the coming years,” Ponting said. “He’s diminutive, in the Tendulkar sort of mould but hits the ball incredibly powerfully off the front and back foot, and plays spin really well.
“If we can get him to take that form that he’s just shown into the IPL, it just makes the balance on our Delhi Capital side so good. If [the penny] does drop – I’m not sure I’ve seen many more talented players than him in my whole time of playing the game.”
Cricketers around the world express solidarity with Palestine after civilian casualties rise
As the death toll in Gaza following Israeli air strikes escalated, cricketers around the world made their voices heard
Cricketers from around the world have expressed support and solidarity with the people of Palestine, with the death toll from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza rising sharply over the past few days. Several of the dead are civilians, including at least 13 children.
The violence began on Monday when the Israeli military entered the Al Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, in the final days of Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims.
Several members of the Pakistan cricket team, led by captain Babar Azam posted messages on Twitter, with a running theme of prayers for the Palestinian people, imploring the world to “stand up for humanity”. Shan Masood, Azhar Ali and Shadab Khan were among the other Pakistanis who expressed solidarity.
— Babar Azam (@babarazam258) May 11, 2021
The messages of goodwill weren’t limited to Pakistani cricketers. Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan called it “no crime more heinous than the killing of a child”. Hashim Amla, in a lengthy Instagram post, drew comparisons to Nelson Mandela’s struggle against apartheid, reminding people of Mandela’s unstinting support for the people of Palestine throughout his life. Mandela had said South Africa’s struggle was “incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.
Tabraiz Shamsi, Daren Sammy and Kagiso Rabada also posted messages on Twitter praying for Palestine, while former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan said one “only needed to be human” to support their cause. George Linde condemned the “terrible scenes” while England bowler Saqib Mahmood asked people not to turn a blind eye, using the hashtag #FreePalestine.
This isn’t the first time cricket has found itself caught up in the issue. In 2014, at the height of an Israeli military operation in Gaza, England allrounder Moeen Ali wore wristbands with slogans reading #FreePalestine and #SaveGaza during a Test match between England and India. The ICC match referee David Boon decided it was a breach of the ICC regulation forbidding cricketers from sending out political messages and asked Moeen to remove the wristbands.
Qais Ahmad signs Kent deal for T20 Blast, two County Championship games
Last season’s beaten quarter-finalists lean towards spin-heavy strategy for Blast
Qais Ahmad, the Afghanistan legspinner, has signed for Kent for the whole of T20 Blast and two County Championship fixtures, adding to the burgeoning list of teams he has represented around the world in short-form cricket.
Ahmad, 20, was due to join Gloucestershire as an overseas player last summer but had his contract cancelled on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, this will be his first stint in county cricket.
He is also due to play for Welsh Fire in the inaugural season of the Hundred, after he was retained ahead of February’s re-draft. As a result, he will stay in the UK after the conclusion of the Blast’s group stage, and is likely to be available for the knockout stages.
The club also signed Mohammad Amir for the second half of the competition last month, while Heino Kuhn is registered as an overseas player after the expiration of Kolpak status. Counties are allowed to register three overseas players simultaneously, but can field a maximum of two in a match.
Ahmad is the fifth Afghanistan player to sign a deal for this year’s Blast, after Rashid Khan (Sussex), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Middlesex), Mohammad Nabi (Northamptonshire) and Naveen-ul-Haq (Leicestershire). He would not have qualified for a governing body endorsement for his visa but for a change in the ECB’s requirements two years ago.
Kent were beaten quarter-finalists in last year’s Blast, and the signing of Ahmad hints at a change in strategy for the 2021 season. They generally fielded a solitary frontline spinner in Imran Qayyum last summer, alongside Joe Denly’s part-time legbreaks, but may now opt for a spin-heavy side this season.
Ahmad is also due to be available for Kent’s final two games of the initial group stage of the Championship, against Lancashire at Old Trafford and Sussex at Beckenham. If selected, they would be his first first-class games since he made his Test debut against Bangladesh in September 2019, and he would become the first Afghanistan player to appear in the Championship.
“I’m excited to play in the Vitality Blast and I’m really looking forward to being a Kent Spitfire,” he said. “Having played alongside Daniel Bell-Drummond at Colombo Kings, I have heard good things about Kent and I will give it my all.”
Paul Downton, the club’s director of cricket, said: “Qais Ahmad is an exciting talent who has shown his ability in top quality leagues all over the world. I am confident that his enthusiasm for the game will make him a firm favourite with our members and supporters as we look to welcome crowds back to watching live cricket again.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
LPL 2021 – SLC lines up August window for Lanka Premier League’s second season
Franchise tournament to be staged immediately after India’s white-ball tour
Sri Lanka Cricket have announced that the second season of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) will be played from July 30 to August 22, with further details about the franchise tournament yet to be confirmed.
The window falls immediately after Sri Lanka’s home series against India, which comprises three ODIs and three T20Is, finishing on July 27. It also means that the LPL will clash with the Hundred, the ECB’s new 100-ball competition, which starts on July 21, but will be finished before the start of the Caribbean Premier League on August 28.
Professor Arjuna de Silva, the chairman of SLC’s management committee, said: “We have found a suitable window to hold this year’s edition, whilst we are currently working on finalising the other details of the tournament.”
The inaugural season of the tournament was played between November 26 and December 16 in a bio-secure bubble, with all 23 fixtures staged in Hambantota. Jaffna Stallions were the champions, beating Galle Gladiators in the final.
SLC said in a statement that it would “assess the country’s situation and discuss with the Ministry of Health closer to the tournament to ascertain the health situation in the country prior to taking a final decision on the competition.”
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