The New Zealand captain would have taken the place of Jonny Bairstow in the season opener had he been match-fit
Kane Williamson has made a career out of proving those who write him off in T20s. He tends to not start the season for Sunrisers Hyderabad, but ends up being a key player by the end of it. While Sunrisers began once again without Williamson in the XI, there was no underestimation of his talents this time. It was ring rust that led to his being left out.
Williamson came into the IPL off the back of an elbow injury that ruled him out of the ODI series against Bangladesh. In his last competitive appearances, more than a month ago, he endured a string of three single-digit scores against Australia. His replacement, Jonny Bairstow, meanwhile came off a fruitful ODI series against India in similar conditions.
“Yeah we just felt that Kane needs a little bit of extra time to get his match fitness,” Sunrisers coach Trevor Bayliss said. “A little bit more time in the nets. He would have played in place of Jonny Bairstow if that would have occurred. But we weren’t too perturbed about that. Jonny has been in form obviously recently in white-ball cricket here in India. And obviously showed in how he batted well tonight.
“Kane will obviously certainly come into calculations as the tournament unfolds.”
Bairstow scored a 32-ball fifty to keep Sunrisers alive in a tall chase, but his dismissal with 86 to get in seven overs just about ended the game for Sunrisers. Abdul Samad raised some hopes for them with an eight-ball 19, which led to the question if Samad is getting enough time to bat for Sunrisers and if he should have come in ahead of Vijay Shankar.
“Hindsight is always a wonderful thing, you know,” Bayliss said. “It is easy to sit back here after the fact but Vijay, in the practice matches that we had, was our best player. He struck the ball beautifully. In one of the games he got 95. He hit a lot of the balls long way over the fence. Look it’s always difficult in those situations when you go in and have to pretty much go from the first ball you face. Samad, in a short space of time last IPL and this one, has shown he has got a lot of talent and he is a clean striker of the ball. I think as he gets more experienced he will get more opportunity.”
With his effectiveness against spin, Bairstow might have earned a bit of a rope before Williamson is brought back into the side. For the moment, Bairstow will be kept in the middle order with Wriddhiman Saha having earned a place at the top.
“At the moment what we want to do is reward the guys that finished the tournament off last year,” Bayliss said. “We got off to a slow start last year but we came home very well to make the playoffs. Someone like Saha opening the batting and batting so well in the tournament. We felt we’d reward the guys that finished it off so well last year. Obviously depending on fitness and form and that kind of thing, we know Jonny can open the batting and keep wicket as well. It gives us a few options but he has done well at No. 4 for England just recently.”
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
West Indies vs South Africa
19-year-old quick has big future, says captain, after three-wicket debut
Seales, 19, had played just one first-class game before he was thrust into the Test team against South Africa – and that came last winter on West Indies’ tour of New Zealand – but Kraigg Brathwaite, the captain, said he saw enough in that display to know he was ready for higher honours.
“The first time I saw him was in New Zealand, and I just knew he had a natural length,” Brathwaite said. “Not all bowlers have that natural length, and he obviously swings the ball. So I was not surprised by his performance in this game, or for the future.”
Seales finished South Africa’s only innings of the first Test with figures of 3 for 75 in 21 overs, having bagged his maiden wicket in his first over of the game, as Keegan Petersen spliced an edge to Jason Holder at second slip. He followed up with two more in consecutive overs at the end of the first day, before Quinton de Kock took the match away with a superb 141 not out.
“I think he’s something special and obviously he’s quite young, he’s only played one first-class game,” Brathwaite said. “That says a lot. Even at practice, there are different little things that he does with the ball, and what he says to back it up, is quite phenomenal. For sure, he’s one for the future, big time.
“Fast bowling is hard work. In this game, he bowled over 20 overs and he never once complained. Obviously he’s young, but he was strong, his pace was up throughout, and I really think he’s something special for sure.”
With his strong approach to the crease and powerful shoulders though his action, Seales drew some mid-match comparison with West Indies’ star of the second innings, Kagiso Rabada, who mopped up the resistance with figures of 5 for 34, his first five-wicket haul since March 2018.
“He is a great prospect for West Indies,” Rabada said. “They have always produced those who can bowl really well, right from the 1980s. They are continuing the prestigious lineage of producing fast bowlers.
“He has come to the fore,” he added. “I don’t know how much he tried to copy me. I think he is just natural. I don’t see a huge similarity, maybe a small similarity between our bowling. He is a good bowler and he showed that. I wish him all the best.”
Reflecting on West Indies’ failings in the first Test, Brathwaite rued their collapse to 97 all out on the first day of the match, after which their defeat was only ever a matter of time. However, he denied he had erred in choosing to bat first.
“We saw today some variable bounce, the pitch was a little dry, but we didn’t bat well in the first innings so we were under pressure from the start.,” he said. “We were always on the back foot.”
“[South Africa] are quality bowlers but even batting second we thought they would be quality. In the second Test, we’ve got to bat better. As a group we bowled well, and Seales in his first Test was magnificent. [Roston] Chase showed fight today, but that first innings hampered us a lot.”
“We’ll take a little break and come back stronger,” he added. “For me it’s about getting your mind in the right place. It’s more mental than technical.”
PSL 2021 – Islamabad United’s Hasan Ali to miss rest of season
The fast bowler will fly back to Pakistan for personal reasons
“I want to say to all Islamabad United fans, unfortunately due to personal reasons I have to pull out of the remaining PSL matches,” Hasan said in an Islamabad United statement. “Some things are more important than cricket and nothing is more important than family. I am thankful to Islamabad United for their support and understanding. This team truly is a family that stands with you through thick and thin. I wish the team very best of luck for the remaining PSL matches.”
Hasan’s absence will be a blow to Islamabad, who are currently second on the PSL table with eight points from six matches. Hasan is the joint third-highest wicket-taker in the tournament as on Saturday evening, with 10 wickets at an average of 14.00, and, even more impressively, an economy rate of 5.83 across 24 overs.
Recent Match Report – SE Stars vs Diamonds 2021
England great plays her part in three-wicket win as she revels in new mindset
Northern Diamonds 254 for 7 (Kalis 76, Langston 59* Gunn 50) beat South East Stars 250 for 6 (White 73) by three wickets with four balls remaining
This is a higher-profile, professional game, the type of match Taylor was not sure she would ever play again. But earlier this year she agreed to play for Welsh Fire in The Hundred and she is plainly satisfied that returning to the game will no longer risk harming her mental health. Playing cricket, you see, is now only one of the things Sarah Taylor does. There is teaching at Bede’s in East Sussex; there is coaching at the County Ground in Hove, where she works with the full-time professional wicketkeepers and the Academy players; there is, in other words, a balanced life.
The first ball is bowled by Beth Langston and Bryony Smith plays it out to midwicket where Ami Campbell trots in to field. Already Sarah is up at the stumps to collect the return, although there is not the remotest possibility of a run. A pattern has been set, one that will be familiar to wicketkeepers of whatever standard throughout the game.
The eighth delivery of the morning is bowled by Phoebe Graham and it jags back a little to Alice Davidson-Richards, whose cut is now a cramped ungainly effort. The ball would have passed over middle stump and down leg side but it catches Davidson-Richards’ glove and flies between wicketkeeper and first slip. Taylor has transferred her weight to her left but dives back, holds the ball in her right gauntlet… and spills it. It would have been a stunning grab. There is little more she could have done except hang on to the thing.
“I had it!” she said afterwards. “It was literally in my webbing and I just hit the deck. The girls will tell you I was talking about it when we were batting. I did the hard work and I was thinking, ‘Yes, stunner!’ and then my elbow hit the ground and it popped out. But to be fair, it was nice to get there. I felt rusty, believe me, but it was just nice to dust the cobwebs off. Legs, back, hands…Yeah, pretty happy with that. That was good fun.”
After that eighth ball Taylor returned to the more routine habits and skills of her chosen trade. Over the next three hours she squatted down over 300 times and the ball was returned to her after the vast majority of deliveries. It frequently went to her directly, of course, and her takes were clean, unfussy, professional. There is never a point in an innings when wicketkeepers are not involved in the game and Taylor was constantly encouraging, congratulating or commiserating with her new colleagues. She was the focus around which the Northern Diamonds’ efforts revolved. In the 48th over there was a stumping off Jenny Gunn that Taylor clearly thought was a decent shout but Tom Lungley took a different view. South East Stars scored 250 for 6 in 50 overs and 14 of the runs came from wides. There were no byes.
Cricket often seems a game more suited to playing than watching. A match is frequently a theatre of private, some might say arcane, skills that are nevertheless placed on public display. And few are more private than wicketkeeping. Batters drive through the covers, bowlers scatter stumps, fielders arrow flat returns… and a wicketkeeper removes the bails or takes catches – many of which, so spectators blithely assume, anyone could take.
At times it is viewed as being to the keepers’ credit if no one except the umpire notices their work. This is a semi-private art, a quiet confection of skills in which gloves receive the ball with as little noise as possible. It is an art which seems to attract eccentricity and sometimes accommodates extroversion but one in which flamboyance can be considered almost vulgar.
Wicketkeepers can be show-people demanding a reaction, they can be sergeants keeping the troops’ morale up, and yet their skills are on a par with the most skilful craftsmen. This was more or less Sarah Taylor’s only world for well over a decade of her life. Now it is Sarah and she is helping out the Northern Diamonds for a while. This is the cricketer Adam Gilchrist once named as the best wicketkeeper in the world.
“You do miss the feeling of winning those games,” said Taylor. “We were out of it, let’s be honest. It’s so good to be part of a team like this and I’ve also got a nice balance in my life now. I’ve got my main job at the school and I’ve got the luxury of working with the guys at Sussex. That is a learning curve and a good challenge. I hate to say it but I don’t need cricket. I don’t need to play whereas before I needed to and there was a lot more pressure.”
Sarah Taylor never shut the door on professional cricket and now that the game is no longer the sole focus of her career it is plain she is ready to make some room for it again. It is also clear that she has so much to give, not least to herself.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
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