Bracey adds 83* to first-innings ton in match-clinching stand with Kraigg Brathwaite for eight-wicket win
Gloucestershire 309 (Bracey 118, Taylor 56, Dent 50) and 156 for 2 (Bracey 83*) beat Somerset 312 (Davies 87, Overton 54) and 149 (Hildreth 64, Higgins 4-29) by eight wickets
James Bracey displayed the temperament, as well as the talent, of a future England player as Gloucestershire wrapped up an eight-wicket LV=County Championship win over Somerset at Taunton.
The 23-year-old left-hander added an ice-cool 83 not out to his first-innings century and shared a match-clinching second-wicket stand of 79 with Kraigg Brathwaite to help his side to a comprehensive victory.
Brathwaite marked his Gloucestershire debut with a solid 36 and together the pair stifled the much-vaunted home seam attack.
The visitors reached their target of 153 off 41.1 overs just before lunch, with Tom Lace uneaten on 20, and took 22 points, to Somerset’s six.
Gloucestershire began the day on 28 for 1, needing 125 for victory, with nine wickets in hand, and would have been heartened by the clear blue skies over the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Bracey had shown his mettle the previous evening when taming a fired-up Craig Overton and was soon in control again as Somerset sought the early wickets that might create a contest.
The home side were hoping a couple of breakthroughs in the opening overs would create nerves in the Gloucestershire dressing room. But the pitch only served to show what a poor effort Somerset’s second-innings score of 149 had been.
While Overton and Lewis Gregory beat the bat on occasions, Bracey and Brathwaite were soon confident enough to play their shots.
The West Indies captain struck four boundaries in his 62-ball innings before aiming for a fifth off a wide ball from Marchant de Lange and getting an inside edge onto his middle stump.
By then, Gloucestershire only required 64 runs. But de Lange, boosted by the wicket, summoned pace and bounce to test new batsman Lace.
Bracey kept the momentum of the innings going with a swept four off Jack Leach, who found little assistance in the surface for his left-arm spin, and went to his fifty off 84 balls, with eight boundaries.
There was even a reverse-swept four off Leach as Bracey and Gloucestershire closed in rapidly on their target. A more orthodox and delicate sweep off the England spinner brought another boundary and Bracey was by now in total command.
Somerset turned to the wholehearted Overton for one last throw of the dice. He beat Bracey’s outside edge, but to no avail.
It was Gloucestershire’s first Championship win at Taunton for 28 years and the winning runs, a Bracey boundary off Leach, sparked jubilant celebrations. It was the 13th four of his 122-ball innings.
For Somerset, it was a first defeat in red ball cricket at their home ground since 2017.
two weeks in Mumbai, 10 days in Southampton
BCCI awaiting exemption for family members of squad
The Indian contingent that will head to the UK for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand and the five-match Test series against England this summer will undergo a hard quarantine, spanning two weeks, starting May 19. Also part of this plan will be the Indian women’s squad, which is scheduled to play a one-off Test followed by three ODIs and three T20Is. Both the Indian squads will assemble in Mumbai and are likely to fly out together on a charter flight to London on June 2.
As per the BCCI’s plan, the 20 players in the men’s Test squad, excluding those residing in Mumbai, will start their quarantine at the team hotel from Wednesday. The BCCI has arranged charter flights that will pick up all the players, coaches and support staff from different parts of India and bring them to Mumbai.
From May 24 onwards the rest of the squad and members of the team management residing in Mumbai, including Indian captain Virat Kohli, his deputy Ajinkya Rahane, senior batsman Rohit Sharma along with head coach Ravi Shastri, will enter the bio-secure bubble at the Mumbai team hotel. The Mumbai group will also serve a strict home quarantine starting on May 19.
To ensure the bubble is completely secure, the BCCI has arranged for all members – both the men’s and women’s squads – to get three negative tests before they board the flights to Mumbai. There will be further testing done at the team hotel in Mumbai before they embark on the London flight.
Saha to join Mumbai bubble later
Wriddhiman Saha, who is one of the two wicketkeepers along with Rishabh Pant for the WTC final and the England series, will join the Mumbai bubble in the week leading to the England departure. Saha had tested positive for Covid-19 during his stay in the Delhi leg of the IPL where he plays for Sunrisers Hyderabad. ESPNcricinfo has learned that Saha, who has been in quarantine for two weeks, has got the BCCI permission to visit his family in Kolkata before he heads to Mumbai to join the Indian Test squad.
Saha was one of the three players, along with KL Rahul and Prasidh Krishna, whose availability, the BCCI had said while naming the squad, was subject to fitness. Rahul had undergone surgery to treat appendicitis during the IPL where he is captain of Punjab Kings. Krishna, who plays for the Kolkata Knight Riders, had tested positive for Covid-19 a day after returning from the IPL to his home town Bengaluru recently.
Ten-day quarantine in Southampton
The men’s squad will head directly to Southampton where India will play New Zealand in the inaugural WTC final between June 18-22. ESPNcricinfo understands that as per the permission sought from the British government by the ECB, which will coordinate with the ICC in hosting the WTC final, the Indian Test squad will undergo a 10-day quarantine at the team hotel which is located within the ground premises in Southampton. However unlike the hard quarantine in Mumbai, the Indian squad would be allowed to train in a controlled fashion within the Southampton bubble, which will comprise the team hotel and the ground and training facilities.
BCCI awaits exemption for family members
One significant question still facing the BCCI is getting exemptions for the family members of the Indian contingent. It is learnt that the ECB is working with the UK government on seeking these exemptions.
With the number of Covid cases nearing 25 million overall, India is only behind the US globally and also has the third-largest death count since the pandemic hit. Recently the UK government had put India on the red list of countries for travel – both outbound and inbound.
Despite most of its adult population having received at least one shot of the vaccine, the UK government has been cautious about incoming travellers from India mainly due to concern over the growing number of cases related to the coronavirus variant, B.1.617.2, which originated in India. On Monday, Matt Hancock, the British Health Secretary said there were about 2,323 cases of the Indian variant.
At present, the BCCI has allowed family members to be part of the Mumbai bubble. The family members will undergo the same bio-safety protocols meant for the team while living in the bubble.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
Stuart Broad believes more could be revealed on Newlands affair once key protagonists retire
Stuart Broad has expressed a note of scepticism at the official explanation of the ball tampering debacle involving the Australia team and suggested there could be more information revealed once key protagonists retire.
In recent days Cameron Bancroft, who was suspended for nine-months for his role in the Newlands scandal, and David Saker, who was the Australian bowling coach at the time, have appeared to concede that knowledge of the ploy was not limited to the three men who were suspended for their part in it.
Now Broad, talking at an event organised by soap and hand cleanser manufacturers Lifebuoy aimed at doubling the rate of handwashing in the UK, has suggested that, in his experience, a bowler is very sensitive to the condition of the ball and everyone in the team is required to “buy into” plans to look after it.
“I’ve obviously never bowled within the Australian bowling attack but I can talk about how, in an England Test team, if I miss the seam by four millimetres, Jimmy Anderson is on me,” Broad said. “He’ll be saying ‘why has this ball got a mark on it here? It’s because you’ve missed the seam! Start hitting the seam, will you’.
“Reverse swing with the red ball can be affected by so many different things. If you chase it to the boundary and throw it into the grass it can smooth the ball over and stop it reversing. If you touch the ball with wet hands it will stop it reversing. If you shine it in a way that smooths over the rough side it will stop it reversing.
“So as an England team, we are aware if we’re trying to get the ball reversing every player has to buy into that or it will stop it.
“There’s no doubt the Aussies would have been hoping this episode was signed sealed and delivered. It was an incredibly tough thing for those three players to go through. I can’t see it still being a conversation [when the Ashes start] in November, December, but I can see it being sung in the Barmy Army stands if they’re allowed.
“I have seen a couple of comments from David Warner’s agent, too, and I think it will be an interesting time when he stops playing for Australia and writes a book.”
Broad also expressed sympathy for Jofra Archer, who has been ruled out of the New Zealand series with a recurrence of an elbow injury. With “rest and rehab” having not worked, though, Broad suggested “more intensive” treatment may be necessary. While he stopped short of using the word ‘surgery’, he did suggest England – and Archer – would have to accept he can’t play every game.
“I saw Jofra this morning,” Broad said. “He is in decent spirits. I think it’s been frustrating for him. You know, the first time I was really aware that he had a bit of an elbow issue was in South Africa. He missed a couple of games there and he tried to get fit for the Wanderers; he bowled in the morning and it hurt him too much. It’s been a bit of an underlying niggle for him since.
“The rest and rehab option hasn’t pulled through for him. He was obviously hopeful of coming back after having that hand surgery and resting the elbow. But it’s still niggled him, so I’m sure the ECB will be thinking long and hard of what the next step is, but it’s probably a little bit more intensive than rest and recoup now.
“I think Jofra can play a huge part in all three formats for England. But he won’t just be able to play every game. It’s unrealistic to think that any all-format player – Ben Stokes included – can and that’s when, without being disrespectful to any other type of international cricket, you do have to get him right for the games you want him right for.
“I was annoyed at the time, aged 28 or 29, when the decision was almost forced on me not to play in the white-ball stuff anymore. But sat here now aged 34, I feel fresh as a daisy. I feel excited and buzzing every time I play cricket. It’s quite hard to keep that when you play all three formats.
“It’s still too early for Jofra to start having doubts of whether he’s a three-format cricketer, but he needs to get very clear in his mind what cricket he wants to be absolutely fit and firing for.
“If I was a captain or head coach looking at Jofra Archer, I’d want him bowling my last over in the T20 World Cup and I’d want him playing [in the first Ashes Test] at Brisbane.”
Lifebuoy are proud to partner with Chance to Shine, as part of their ambition to double the rate of handwashing in the UK. Stuart Broad was coaching schoolchildren at Hague Primary School, as a representative of the England Cricket team, of which Lifebuoy are also a partner.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
Hundred may lose overseas stars amid packed schedule and travel restrictions
New tournament might have to bow to demands of international calendar, Covid-related travel rules
A number of overseas players are expected to withdraw from the inaugural season of the Hundred due to clashes in the international calendar and complications regarding international travel caused by Covid restrictions.
West Indies, Pakistan and Australia players with contracts to appear in the men’s competition will have their availability limited if they are involved in the two T20I series due to take place in the Caribbean in July and August, while two Australia players – Rachael Haynes and Jess Jonassen – have already withdrawn from the women’s tournament due to quarantine requirements.
Cricket West Indies announced its men’s fixtures for the 2021 home season last week, with the end of the T20I series against Australia overlapping with the start of the Hundred. Seven of the nine Australians contracted to play in the men’s competition were named in an enlarged 23-man squad on Monday – Chris Lynn and Nathan Coulter-Nile were the exceptions.
Those seven include marquee names in Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell and David Warner, and while it is possible that they could still play the majority of the eight-game group stage subject to quarantine periods, Cricket Australia remain in talks with the Bangladesh Cricket Board regarding a possible tour which would present a further clash.
Four West Indians are also under contract: Nicholas Pooran and Kieron Pollard are both key parts of the T20I set-up, while Andre Russell and Sunil Narine are likely to come back into the picture ahead of this year’s T20 World Cup. Their series against Pakistan starts on July 27, three days after the Australia T20Is finish, with the fifth and final match scheduled for August 3 in Guyana – which is on the UK’s travel red list, adding to the complications.
Pakistan stay in the Caribbean for two Tests on August 12 and August 20, which will effectively rule Shaheen Shah Afridi out of his deal with Birmingham Phoenix. Shadab Khan, the other Pakistan player involved, may be available for the second half of the tournament with Manchester Originals if he is overlooked for the Test squad again.
The ECB remain confident that the Hundred will feature some of the best overseas players in the world but are realistic about the fact that some players will withdraw in the coming weeks and months. The new 100-ball tournament’s inaugural season was postponed last year due to operational challenges, and is now due to start on July 21. “The realities of Covid mean there remain practicalities that are difficult for some overseas players to overcome,” a spokesperson said.
Jonassen was replaced by compatriot Georgia Wareham in the Welsh Fire squad last month, while Haynes’ withdrawal from her Oval Invincibles contract was revealed by London’s Evening Standard last week. They are the only two confirmed withdrawals as yet, but the fact that salaries are significantly lower in the women’s competition (£3,600-£15,000) than in the men’s (£24,000-£100,000) reduces the incentives for players to travel to the UK specifically for the tournament. As such, it is possible that further Indian players will sign deals and stay on following the conclusion of their tour to England on July 15 – six days before the start of the Hundred.
In the men’s competition, there is a broad pool of nearly 250 overseas players registered as replacements. Several of them, including Dan Christian, Glenn Phillips, Lockie Ferguson and Carlos Brathwaite, will already be in the UK to play in the T20 Blast for their respective counties, and as such may be attractive options, either to fill in for a handful of games or to play the full season in the event of withdrawals.
Meanwhile, Manchester Originals can begin to negotiate with county cricketers who were not signed in February’s re-draft following Harry Gurney’s retirement. Gurney was an £80,000 signing in the draft and his withdrawal from the competition means that there is a free slot up for grabs at that price bracket for any domestic player without a contract.
The ECB are hopeful that England’s centrally contracted red-ball players will be available for up to three group-stage games at the start of the tournament before the start of the men’s Test series against India, and potentially the eliminator and the final. Ashley Giles, the managing director of England men’s cricket, said last week: “We’ve got a lot of cricket coming up so it’s a difficult juggling act but I know the players are also looking forward to that tournament and would love to be involved at some stage if they can.”
England men’s players on all-format central contracts will earn £40,000 for their involvement in up to three matches, and those on red-ball deals will earn £28,000. All centrally-contracted players will then earn £4,608 per match for any additional fixtures. Players with white-ball contracts are due to be available throughout the Hundred, and are paid directly through the draft mechanism.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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