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ICC CEO Geoff Allardice – Covid-19 has made it ‘very difficult to re-establish the calendar’ for women’s cricket

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Several women’s teams have been out of action since the heady night of the T20 World Cup final at the MCG on March 8, 2020

As much as Covid-19 has complicated the cricket calendar, it’s impact has been the most profound on women’s cricket, and even the ICC has admitted to struggling to find a way back to normalcy on that front, leave alone trying to match the highs of a T20 World Cup final that was attended by nearly 90,000 people.

“Over the last three or four years, the momentum that we’ve built up around international women’s cricket has been fantastic,” the governing body’s interim CEO Geoff Allardice said in an interaction with media outlets on Wednesday. “The last match we saw before Covid – it was one of the really special moments for international cricket at the MCG, with the Twenty20 World Cup. So, just as momentum was reaching a peak, Covid’s hit and it’s made life very difficult to re-establish the calendar the way it would have been mapped out.”

Several teams have been in the wilderness since that night on March 8, 2020. India, who made it to the final then before losing to Australia, went through 364 days without any international matches. Sri Lanka have still not been able to secure playing time. Australia and New Zealand have managed to get on the park a little more regularly, and the ICC is hoping to build on that, especially with the 50-over World Cup coming up in March 2022.

“We’re in the lead-up to a World Cup and it would have just concluded in New Zealand if it had gone ahead as scheduled. In terms of teams getting ready for that – and that will be the focus over the next 12 months through to the World Cup.” Allardice said.

The qualifying tournament for that World Cup, originally set to be played in July, has been pushed back to allow all participants enough time to get fully ready.

“And that was also the same thing around the teams that are preparing for the women’s World Cup qualifier that we originally had scheduled for Sri Lanka in June [July], in that some of the countries just weren’t able to get any preparation in place to get their teams ready for that series in June, and it’s only a couple of months away,” Allardice said. “The extra few months that we get to push that tournament back to the end of the year will hopefully allow the participating teams to prepare in a more even way, because it’s a really important tournament for us as there’s three teams that get identified to go through to the World Cup in New Zealand, and there’s also spots in the next edition of the ICC Women’s Championship at stake, depending on results in the qualifier too, so that’s a really important tournament for us later this year.

“I think, at this stage, we’re just trying to get to a point where we can stage those tournaments not just safely but also give the participating teams a chance to be ready to play their best.”



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Recent Match Report – Kent vs Sussex Group 3 2021

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Confusion over elbow injury leaves Sussex captain Ben Brown shorn of options

Kent 145 and 220 for 3 (Crawley 85, Leaning 61*) lead Sussex 256 (Quinn 5-54, Gilchrist 3-51, Stevens 3-64) by 109 runs

We had to wait for our cricket on this third evening at Hove but one suspects we will remember it. Heavy showers delayed the start of play until five o’clock, by which time only 24 overs could be bowled. What we then saw and what we did not witness will interest the supporters of both teams and concern the England hierarchy as it prepares for a very hard year of international cricket.

Chief among the delights was the batting of Zak Crawley and Jack Leaning, whose 130-run fourth-wicket partnership should help Kent avoid defeat in this match, especially if tomorrow’s weather is as poor as has been forecast. Taking the gong for best supporting actor was the Sussex off-spinner, Jack Carson, who took Crawley’s wicket and whose engaging enthusiasm for his work was plain.

But, rather like the non-activity of the dog in the night-time, the studied quiescence of Jofra Archer standing at mid-on or deep midwicket with his hands in his pockets also commanded our attention. Archer did nothing except field a few balls today. On an evening when his team-mates were pulling their tripes out to take the wickets that might secure a much-needed win for Sussex, he effectively did nothing, although it was later disclosed by the Sussex coach Ian Salisbury that Archer’s sore elbow had prevented him adding to the five overs he had bowled on Friday evening.

Initially it was astonishing that Archer did not add to the brief spell he had bowled on Friday evening, especially as this is a game in which he is supposed to proving his match fitness in advance of an absurdly busy year. More disturbingly for Sussex supporters, it appeared that Archer’s county captain, Ben Brown, wanted his spearhead to deliver the second of the day’s 24 overs and had the briefest of discussions with him after Ollie Robinson had opened the bowling from the Cromwell Road End.

At the end of the chat Brown seemed to gesticulate towards Archer and called up George Garton from the slips. Sussex coach Ian Salisbury later disclosed that Archer’s long-standing elbow injury had prevented him bowling.

“I think there was some confusion over the state of his elbow,” said Salisbury. “Ben thought he was going to bowl but his elbow’s sore and so he couldn’t bowl. Regarding any other information about his elbow, it’s the ECB’s job to answer that. If he’s sore today, he’s not going to bowl tomorrow.”

Nevertheless, two further questions remain: if Archer had a sore elbow, why did the ECB allow him to field and risk further injury? And secondly, given that Archer has bowled a mere 18 overs in this game, how can he be risked in a five-day Test until he has proved his fitness, probably by taking a full part in a four-day county match?

When asked why Archer was on the field if he was not fit, Salisbury replied that both Archer and Brown “were desperate to win games for Sussex. Ben’s disappointment stems from the fact that one of his premier bowlers wasn’t available and we’re desperate to win this game against our local rivals”.



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Recent Match Report – Essex vs Derbyshire Group 1 2021

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Derbyshire 146 (Guest 49, Harmer 9-80) and 97 for 1 (Guest 56*) trail Essex 412 for 3 dec by 169 runs

A career-best Simon Harmer haul dragged Derbyshire into trouble at a rain-swept Chelmsford, as the visitors threatened to disappear down the gurgler in less than two days’ play. Essex have made all the running in their bid to beat both their opponents and the elements here, and only an improved showing second time around – underpinned by a maiden first-class fifty for the impressive Brooke Guest – kept Derbyshire above water going into the final day.

With the rain sluicing down on Thursday afternoon, Tom Westley, Essex’s captain, had looked out of the window and admitted winning would be a challenge. Scoring enough runs quickly while batting first, then taking 20 wickets in short order, that was the conundrum. “But I think the scripts that Essex generate for themselves over the last few years, you never know what’s going to happen,” he added.

Essex’s scriptwriters have truly been red hot in recent seasons, and no player has had his name in lights more often than Harmer. Nine Derbyshire batsmen were dazzled by his star wattage, as the plot for this match took a familiar turn; only Dan Lawrence’s dismissal of Billy Godleman on the second evening prevented a shot at all ten. “We try our best to create a bit of theatre around the bat,” Harmer said afterwards.

After being railroaded by Lawrence and Westley with the bat, Derbyshire were then mown down by the county game’s premier spinner coming the other way. So hapless was Derbyshire’s capitulation, the sight of an ACME anvil landing on one of the openers on the way out from the dressing room after they were invited to follow on would not have caused much of a stir.



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Recent Match Report – Glamorgan vs Yorkshire Group 3 2021

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Glamorgan 149 (Brook 3-13, Patterson 3-27) and 108 for 3 (Carlson 44*, Lloyd 40*) lead Yorkshire 230 (Root 99, Patterson 47*, Neser 5-39) by 28 runs

Joe Root moved inexorably towards his hundred with the precision of a ticking clock. An old-time image for an old-time innings. The world could do much as it pleased, nothing would change his tempo. Then, on 99, the clock stopped.

Root has 31 first-class hundreds, but only eight of them have come for Yorkshire. Even as a feted international player, one who bears an onerous responsibility as England’s Test captain, his desire to succeed for his county remains implanted. He would surely yearn for more.

Medium-pacer Dan Douthwaite, who seamed the ball back sharply between bat and pad, was the bowler who stopped time. What’s more, Douthwaite revealed, his teammate, Kiran Carlson, predicted it.

“It was weird how it happened,” Douthwaite said. “Kiran Carlson stood at mid-off two balls before and said I was going to get him out trying to dab it down to third man and he would chop it on to the stumps and he did. I was telling him at the time to go away and let me focus on my bowling. That is the first time I have had someone predict a wicket and it has actually happened.”

If Root didn’t quite manage the century that had seemed inevitable, he looked in good trim ahead of the New Zealand Test series. His superbly controlled innings gave Yorkshire a chance of victory. That’s if you don’t believe in weather forecasts – Sunday’s analysis suggests that these sides will be collecting draw points.

England’s IPL contingent have spent much of the past fortnight in quarantine while the likes of Root have benefited from an extensive programme of Championship cricket, albeit played in empty stadiums and in largely cheerless conditions. It has not been a cakewalk. Remove his century against Kent at Canterbury and he had made 114 runs in seven innings. That rediscovered rhythm had been hard-won.

That Root’s success has been far from automatic illustrates that bowlers have held sway and also points to the difficulties that even the most driven world-class player encounters when the prestige of a fixture diminishes and the pressure relents. Nevertheless, it also tells that this season’s Conference structure has not been a succession of mismatches that many anticipated. It is a format that is gaining popularity and makes the structure for 2022 a debate still to be won and lost.



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