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Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Middlesex Group 2 2021

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Five wickets in afternoon session peg back hosts, who had won by an innings at Leicestershire

Hampshire 281 for 8 (Holland 64, Northeast 63) vs Middlesex

If you’re only as good as your last result, then the gulf between Hampshire and Middlesex was looking pretty wide coming into his match. Hampshire won by an innings away to Leicestershire in the opening round, three players bringing up hundreds (including a James Vince double) on the way to 612 for 5 declared; Middlesex, meanwhile, squandered more than one winning position before ultimately surrendering to Somerset in a topsy-turvy encounter at Lord’s.

But the first day of this contest in Southampton produced an even tussle for ascendency between two teams blessed with several cricketers of international standard, including half a dozen who have worn whites for England. Middlesex’s depth of seam bowling kept them in the hunt after Hampshire had chosen to bat, with five wickets during the afternoon session helping to peg the hosts back after a steady start.

Never mind form, recent history was arguably even more in Hampshire’s favour. Two years ago, when Hampshire finished third in Division One of the Championship, Middlesex were left mugging along third from bottom in the second tier. Though Stuart Law has seen results with the London side improve since that summer, his first as head coach, a hard-fought contest at Radlett in last year’s Bob Willis Trophy went the way of Hampshire by three wickets.

For the second week running, Vince won the toss – but this time there was to be no run deluge on a greenish Ageas Bowl surface, with fifties from Ian Holland and Sam Northeast the acme of their investment from 98 overs of batting. Hampshire dug out solid foundations, 77 for 1 at lunch and 191 for 4 shortly before tea, but Middlesex’s four-pronged seam attack remained disciplined throughout and earned reward for their persistence.

The dismissal of Vince, coming in off the back of 231 at Grace Road, went some way to summing up both Hampshire’s position at the end of day one, and his own status in English batting folklore. Holland had just been chiselled out by Toby Roland-Jones after a dogged innings – his first fifty in 15 innings going back to 2019 – and Vince walked out with his side 128 for 3 and in need of an innings of substance. Instead, there nine balls of Vince doing Vincey things: a couple of breezy boundaries off Martin Andersson, either side of a cheeky play and miss, before he flirted with a short wide one and sent a top edge to slip.

Vince kicked the air, his frustration palpable. “I guess you’ve got to say it was a bit loose, really,” sighed Dave Allen, the Hampshire cricket historian, on the club’s livestream, in the manner of someone who has had to deliver similar verdicts rather more often than they would have liked. Northeast’s demise a little later on, feathering a cut to an innocuous Andersson delivery, belonged in the same category.

Middlesex were always likely to have provided a greater test for Hampshire’s batsmen than a callow Leicestershire bowling unit had managed last week; Roland-Jones was an England Test seamer of burgeoning repute before a succession of untimely injuries interrupted his progress, while Law was also able to bring in Steven Finn for his first first-class appearance since 2019. Tim Murtagh and Tom Helm made way, with Andersson stepping up as fourth seamer and Nathan Sowter’s legspin also favoured.

Finn made important breakthroughs and looked increasingly in rhythm after an expensive opening. He dismissed Hampshire’s two other Grace Road centurions in Tom Alsop, who top-edged a pull at his first ball after lunch, and Liam Dawson, caught at midwicket off a leg-stump half-volley. In between times there was a hostile spell that saw both Holland beaten and Northeast squared up, a sign that there remains gas in the tank for Finn at 32, half a lifetime on from his prodigious arrival on the scene for Middlesex.

There was also some Ethan Bamber-boozlement for Hampshire to contend with, the man nicknamed “Mini Murtagh” doing a passable impression of his senior colleague with his control and subtle movement. Opener Joe Weatherley probably does not often have to contend with the keeper standing up to the stumps inside the first hour, and he was sufficiently foxed to stumble out of his crease, allowing John Simpson’s fast hands to finish the job; Bamber then came back later in the day to strike with the second new ball.

Hampshire’s position could have been trickier had Max Holden not put down Holland on 9, off the bowling of Roland-Jones, and they were also grateful for Kyle Abbott lasting more than 100 balls while helping to add 60 useful runs for the eighth and ninth wickets during the final session. Abbott missed the 2020 summer due to the effects of the pandemic but any intel gathered on the nature of this Ageas Bowl surface may help tip the balance once again when Hampshire come to bowl.

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick



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WBBL 2021 – Shafali Verma, Radha Yadav set for maiden WBBL deals

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Verma has already signed a contract with two-time champions Sydney Sixers

India batter Shafali Verma and left-arm spinner Radha Yadav are set to make their Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) debuts later this year in Australia.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Verma, 17, has already signed a contract with two-time champions Sydney Sixers while Yadav, 21, is on the verge of finalising her deal with one of the two Sydney-based clubs. Aside from Verma and Yadav, at least one more India player is likely to make her maiden appearance in the competition this season.

“Yes, Shafali has signed the contract with Sydney Sixers, and given she is a minor, I have had to give my consent, too,” Verma’s father, Sanjeev, told ESPNcricinfo. “I would like to thank the BCCI and Haryana Cricket Association [HCA] for giving my daughter the permission and support to play in the WBBL. Without the guidance of the HCA, whatever Shafali is doing in her career wouldn’t have been possible.”

A senior BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo that the WBBL could see the largest ever Indian contingent this season. “All players who have been or will be approached by Big Bash teams will be given all necessary permissions to participate in the WBBL this season,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

Verma, as reported by ESPNcricinfo last week, is also set to make her debut in the inaugural edition of the Hundred, the 100-ball domestic competition of the ECB. She will be joined by her India team-mates Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma and Jemimah Rodrigues.

Only three India players have played in the WBBL previously. India T20I captain Kaur and vice-captain Mandhana debuted in the 2016-17 edition for the Sydney Thunder and the Brisbane Heat respectively. While Kaur played three straight seasons for the Thunder, Mandhana’s second bow in the competition was for the Hobart Hurricanes, in 2018-19. Veda Krishnamurthy played a solitary season, in 2017-18, also for the Hurricanes.

The WBBL didn’t have any Indian representation in 2019-20 as they focussed on preparing for the 2020 T20 World Cup instead, with assignments against South Africa and West Indies during the same time as the WBBL. A clash in scheduling with the 2020 Women’s T20 Challenge, the domestic three-team, four-match competition run by the BCCI, ruled at least three top-drawer India players out of the WBBL.

The seventh season of the WBBL is likely to run in its usual October-November window, and overseas players will be expected to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival in Australia.

Additional reporting by Daniel Brettig

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha



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Charter flight may return Maldives-bound Australia players this week

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The group of 38 would be able to take a charter flight out of the Maldives via Malaysia to Sydney on May 16

Australian cricketers, coaches and media currently stranded in the Maldives may be able to return to home shores as soon as Sunday.

Cricket Australia, the Australian Cricketers Association and the BCCI are still awaiting confirmation from the Australian government that citizens who have recently been to India will be allowed to return to home shores after May 15 as previously flagged.

However, under plans currently being thrashed out on that condition, the group of 38 would be able to take a charter flight out of the Maldives via Malaysia to Sydney on May 16, where they would then serve their mandatory 14-day quarantine period.



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India retain No. 1 spot in Test rankings, West Indies rise to sixth place | Cricket

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India have a one-point lead over New Zealand © Getty Images


India and New Zealand retained the top two places in the ICC men’s Test rankings after the annual update, while England overtook Australia for the third spot. West Indies also moved up by two positions to be placed sixth, one slot above South Africa.

India, who have an aggregate of 121 rating points, are only one point ahead of New Zealand. The two teams will face off against each other in the World Test Championship final to be held on June 18 in Southampton.

England climbed up by a place after their 4-0 defeat to Australia in 2017-18 was dropped from the rankings in the latest update. In the current cycle, all matches played since May 2020 are rated at 100% and those of the previous two years at 50%.

Meanwhile, West Indies moved from eighth to sixth place on the back of a 2-0 series win against Bangladesh and 0-0 draw with Sri Lanka earlier this year. This is their best position since 2013.

Pakistan remained fifth despite gaining three points after their 2-0 win against Zimbabwe. South Africa are placed seventh, their joint-lowest in Test ranking history. Only Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are below them. Ireland and Afghanistan are yet to play enough Tests to figure on the rankings table.

Click here for full rankings table

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