Nottinghamshire 273 (Patterson-White 73*, Rhodes 4-52) and 128 for 2 (Hameed 51*, Clarke 50*) lead Warwickshire 201 (Hain 72, Broad 3-50) by 200 runs
Nottinghamshire have given themselves an excellent opportunity to secure their first win in first-class cricket for almost three years by dominating the second day of the Championship match against Warwickshire.
Notts have gone 27 Championship matches without a win – it’s 28 if you include all first-class games – with the most recent victory coming in June 2018.
But at the halfway stage of the match against Warwickshire, they lead by 200 runs with eight wickets in hand. On a surface offering just a little bit of variable bounce, batting fourth could prove challenging.
To make matters worse for Warwickshire, they look set to be without Dom Sibley for the rest of the game. Sibley was diagnosed with a small fracture of a finger on his right hand after dropping a chance at slip on the first day and was unable to bat in the first innings. While Warwickshire have not ruled out his further involvement, it does seem highly unlikely – not least as they will be reluctant to risk further damage to that finger.
While the injury is not thought to be serious – he should have recovered long before the Test series against New Zealand – he is likely to miss the next few rounds of games. With that in mind, there might be more thought given to playing Pieter Malan and Hanuma Vihari in the same side. Malan, who now has his visa, is expected to be available from May 6.
The short-term loss of Sibley is significant, though. He averages 205.50 against Nottinghamshire in first-class cricket – albeit over a sample size of just three games – with a lowest score of 87. The last time these teams met, in 2019, he made an unbeaten 215 in the first innings and 109 more in the second.
If Nottinghamshire do go on to win, they will be grateful for the contribution of Stuart Broad. In claiming three of Warwickshire’s top four – albeit one of them a nightwatchman – Broad gave his side a grip on the game which they show no sign of relenting.
It was typical modern Broad, really. Threatening the stumps relentlessly, he struck with the second ball of the day – the left-handed Will Rhodes edging one which demanded a stroke from round the wicket – and returned to dismiss the stubborn Danny Briggs with one that held its line.
That Briggs wicket took Broad to something of a milestone: his 150th first-class wicket for Nottinghamshire. The fact that it has taken Broad so long to reach the figure – he made his first-class debut for the side in 2008 – is a reflection of the modern game. England duty has dominated ever since he made his Test debut that same year. His more-than-respectable average of 23.88 confirms his commitment on the occasions he has been available.
It bears reiterating that it was Broad’s choice to play in this game. The England management originally had him scheduled to take another week off. But such is his enthusiasm to play, he asked to return early and has led the attack with authority.
“It’s great to be training and playing here again,” he said afterwards. “Even without the crowds there is an aura about the place and it is always easy for me to feel at home again when I come back.
“I pride myself on trying to set the tone so it was nice for me to get wickets early in my spells. I thought as a bowling unit the pressure we created all day was pretty strong and we almost deserved a little bit more, but we put a few chances down.”
This was a satisfying day for Nottinghamshire. As well as seeing their seam attack combine well, they watched a couple of their talented young batters, Joe Clarke and Haseeb Hameed, batted with assurance and fluency in reaching half-centuries in the second innings.
Hameed’s forcing strokes off the back foot – reminiscent of Mike Atherton – were pleasing, but Clarke’s back-foot drive for four off Olly Stone was the shot of the day; a thing of real beauty. Given the depth of talent in this squad, it really is hard to fathom that they have gone winless for so long.
It’s wasn’t perfect, though. Warwickshire’s batsmen had three reprieves within the space of a few minutes in the morning session, with Sam Hain (on 24) and Briggs (on 19) both surviving edges to the slip cordon where Lyndon James was unable to cling on. The unfortunate bowler on both occasions, Dane Patterson, also had Briggs (still on 19) caught and bowled, only to learn that he had delivered a no-ball.
Patterson won belated rewards at the end of the innings. He claimed Warwickshire’s final three wickets without conceding a run. Figures of 3 for 61 will feel much better than 0 for 61.
In Sibley’s absence, only Hain mounted meaningful resistance in recording his highest first-class score since September 2019. This is a big year for Hain. While his long-term first-class record is respectable – he averages 35.90 – he hasn’t quite lived up to early expectations. He made his debut for Australia U19 as a 16-year-old, after all, and, as an 18-year-old, broke Ian Bell’s record to become Warwickshire’s youngest first-class centurion. Not long afterwards, he became the club’s youngest double-centurion, too. There were six centuries in his first 18 first-class games up to July 2015.
But there have only been four more since. And while his List A record remains phenomenal – at 59.78, he has the highest average in history of anyone with a minimum of 50 innings – he averaged only 18.25 in first-class cricket in 2020 and has slipped some way down the reckoning for a Test place. That red ball, nipping around laterally far more than its white counterpart, tends to expose technical flaws.
You can see why the selectors might have some reservations. His predilection for the leg side renders him something of a leg-before candidate – invariably bowlers have their hands to their heads even while the ball is skipping over the square-leg boundary – while the limitations of his front-foot approach were demonstrated when the distinctly sharp Zak Chappell persuaded one to lift sharply from just back of a good length. Hain, unable to move out of the way, was fortunate to see the ball fly just out of reach off the shoulder of the bat.
The talent is obvious, though. Leaving well outside off, he invites bowlers to straighten their line and is then merciless off his legs. In partnership with the admirably determined Briggs, he added 73 for Warwickshire’s fourth wicket and, while he was there, gave his side hopes of parity. It was something of a surprise when he missed a straight one from Liam Patterson-White.
It may be the dismissal of Tim Bresnan that most concerns Warwickshire, though. He was caught off the glove by one that reared off the surface and ballooned to point. It was not an encouraging sight for a team likely to be chasing a demanding target in the fourth innings.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
Struggling South Australia poach Brendan Doggett among host of changes
Head coach Jason Gillespie says the new-look side will “focus on results” after four consecutive seasons at the bottom of the first-class standings
South Australia have poached the dual Sheffield Shield-winning fast bowler Brendan Doggett from Queensland among a raft of interstate additions to their squad. According to head coach Jason Gillespie, the new-look side will have a “focus on results” after four consecutive seasons at the bottom of the first-class standings and no victories at all in any competitions last season.
The recruitment of Doggett, alongside the additions of Nathan McSweeney (also from Queensland), Jake Carder (Western Australia), the Sydney Thunder’s Nathan McAndrew (New South Wales) and contract upgrades for Ryan Gibson (NSW), Samuel Kerber (Victoria) and rookie Jordan Buckingham (Victoria), marks a major departure from recent seasons in which the Redbacks tried unsuccessfully to build a home-grown team.
The failing fortunes of South Australia have been a talking point across the national system and were last year the subject of an independent review by Michael Hussey that panned a culture of mediocrity and conflicts of interest within the state’s high-performance wing.
Hussey’s review had included the following recommendations: “Identify and try to recruit the best young talent around the country (former Australia U-19 players not contracted) and engage them through Premier Cricket making them earn opportunities at the next level. Identify quality players from interstate with first-class experience to fill holes in the current list or holes that will develop in the near future. Target the best 10th to 15th players from other states.”
South Australia had already parted ways with Will Bosisto, Tom Cooper, Brad Davis, Conor McInerney, Luke Robins and Cameron Valente – all delisted – while Callum Ferguson and Chadd Sayers retired during the season after long careers with the Redbacks.
“We are extremely delighted with the additions we’ve been able to make to freshen up our squad, and we’re optimistic for an improved 2021-22 season,” Gillespie said.
“We have added considerable depth and increased our pace stocks, namely with Brendan who is a two-time Sheffield Shield champion, and we welcome each new player and look forward to the beginning of pre-season. We’ve shaped this new-look team with a focus on results, and we are confident that this rejuvenated list can take this proud state forward.”
South Australia contract list: Wes Agar, Alex Carey, Jake Carder, Brendan Doggett, Daniel Drew, Ryan Gibson, David Grant, Travis Head, Henry Hunt, Samuel Kerber, Jake Lehmann, Nathan McAndrew, Nathan McSweeney, Joe Mennie, Harry Nielsen, Tim Oakley, Lloyd Pope, Kane Richardson, Liam Scott, Jake Weatherald, Nick Winter, Daniel Worrall
Rookie contracts: Jordan Buckingham, Bailey Capel, Kyle Brazell, Corey Kelly, Thomas Kelly
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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
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