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BCCI mulls moving T20 World Cup to UAE in ‘worst case scenario’

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As India battles a raging Covid-19 pandemic, the BCCI is preparing for the “worst case scenario” of moving the 2021 men’s T20 World Cup to the UAE. The marquee event, comprising 16 countries, is scheduled to take place in India between October and November this year, with the final on November 14.

“I hope so. I am doing everything we can to make sure that it happens,” Dhiraj Malhotra, the tournament director for the T20 World Cup, said on the BBC’s Stumped podcast this week. “We will be doing normal scenario, Covid-scenario, worst case scenario. All that we are in talks with the ICC at the moment.”



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Recent Match Report – Essex vs Worcs Group 1 2021

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Worcestershire 37 for 0 trail Essex 561 for 8 dec (Westley 113, Lawrence 90, Walter 65, Harmer 57*) by 524 runs

You have to be careful what you wish for. Not so long ago, many of us bemoaned these early-season contests as they tended to provide too much assistance for seam bowlers. How were batsmen to learn to play the long innings that define Test matches on surfaces where 200 is par, we asked. And how are young spinners to bowl the volume of overs to gain experience?

The prospect of too much assistance for seamers didn’t seem so bad here. Yes, Worcestershire’s spinner – a leg-spinner, at that – had the opportunity to bowl 46 overs. And yes, several Essex batsmen had the opportunity to build the sort of long innings that define Test cricket.

But in terms of entertainment? Well, for much of the first two days, this game has had all the competitive edge of seal clubbing. And, for a while on day two – as Essex extended their first innings beyond tea and registered their highest score for five years – it wouldn’t have come as a complete surprise if they had used the carcass of a Worcestershire bowler to make a pair of gloves.

None of this should be read as a criticism of either side. Essex were admirably ruthless in grinding out the score that gives them the best chance of victory in this game and, despite not claiming a single bowling bonus point (which means they hadn’t taken a third wicket by the time they had bowled 110 overs), Worcestershire were admirably resilient in making them fight for nearly every run. Only in the last couple of hours of their innings did Essex take the run-rate above three-an-over – a late acceleration took it to 3.22 – and Ed Barnard’s final figures- he conceded 59 from his 30 overs – are testament to the excellent professional that he has become. Worcestershire have now spent four of their most recent seven days of cricket in the field. Barnard will scarcely have bowled a poor delivery in that time.

And maybe the ends will justify the means for Essex. There were increasing signs that the ball was keeping low as the second-day progressed and Worcestershire could struggle against the spin of Simon Harmer, in particular. But just because a rock-fall can be dramatic, it doesn’t mean the 10,000 years of erosion that led to it is terrific entertainment. And the concern here is that such ‘entertainment’, in this day and age, is niche to the point of being an extremely tough sell.

Which leads us to the age-old question: what’s the purpose of county cricket? Because if it’s just to prepare players for Test cricket, you might just about justify this sort of surface. Certainly batsmen learn to graft for their runs and bowlers learn to persist. But if it’s to prepare players for Test cricket and provide entertainment, then they may have to think again. Pitches that lead to big scores don’t necessarily equate to good pitches and there is no incentive here for developing fast bowlers.

Again, there’s no criticism of the groundstaff intended, either. This pitch was under water two months ago. It is remarkable that the teams are playing here at all. But there might be a case for allowing hybrid pitches to be used in such circumstances. Such pitches, with plugs of plastic accounting for around five percent of the surface, promote deeper and stronger grass growth. They are quickly becoming common in limited-overs cricket and might ensure a little more pace and bounce. As a result, they might more closely replicate the conditions found in Test cricket. For while spinners might have been entrusted with lots of overs here, it wasn’t because the pitch was offering them assistance. Rather, it was because it has been harder to score when there has been no pace with which to work. This has been a surface to make fast bowlers wish they had become sewage workers.

Perhaps the extra points awarded for a draw this year are relevant, too. Certainly it feels as if those three extra points (increased from five to eight this season) have reduced sides’ inclination to take any risks. And while the intention behind that was worthy – to encourage teams to fight for draws and incentivise more attritional cricket – you wonder if the outcome is quite what was predicted. Right now, it feels as if the whole of county cricket is being run by Jose Mourinho; defend for days and try and catch the opposition on the break. It might help if these matches were scheduled later in the season when groundstaff have had a chance to inject some pace.



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Recent Match Report – Middlesex vs Somerset Group 2 2021

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Robbie White falls eight short of maiden first-class ton as game remains in balance

Somerset 178 for 4 trail Middlesex 357 (White 92, Davey 3-33) by 179 runs

James Hildreth became the fourth-highest first-class run-maker in Somerset’s history on the second day of the LV=County Championship match with Middlesex at the Cooper Associates County Ground. The 36-year-old batsman went past Bill Alley’s tally of 16,644 while contributing 39 to his side’s first innings total of 178 for 4 and now lies behind only Harold Gimblett, Marcus Trescothick and Peter Wight.

Earlier, Middlesex had moved from an overnight 308 for 6 to 357 all out, Robbie White falling for 92 and Josh Davey claiming three of the wickets in the space of an over.



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Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Surrey Group 2 2021

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Surrey pile on the runs as pitch transforms from minefield to road in space of an innings

Surrey 513 for 3 (Amla 215*, Pope 131, Burns 80, Smith 66*) lead Hampshire 92 by 421 runs

Most greats of the game empty bars rather than filling them, but Hashim Amla’s unflappable, effortless manner does not lend itself to edge-of-the-seat drama.

Amla’s triple-hundred at this ground against England in 2012 was record-breaking: no single day of cricket at The Oval has seen higher takings at the bar than the Saturday of that Test, when he batted through 98 overs to move from an overnight score of 47 to 183 not out. County Championship crowds tend not to be as thirsty, not least when forced to watch via a live stream, but the prospect of seeing him bat in the flesh later in the summer should bring a smile to the faces of Surrey’s members.

Amla’s greatest quality is his ability to dictate the pace of a day. He batted throughout this one, adding 156 to his overnight score, and played role of the becalmed senior partner in stands of 257 and 100 (unbroken) with Ollie Pope and Jamie Smith respectively; both men are at least 15 years his junior and when Amla made his first-class debut, Smith had not been born. He had managed only 78 runs in his first three games of the season, including a pair at Lord’s last week, but this innings was a throwback to his heyday, as he punched through cover, steered through third man and whipped through midwicket with a roll of the wrists.

Amla was thwarted by birds more regularly than by Hampshire bowlers: a back-foot punch through the covers was stopped by a flock of pigeons grazing in the deep, and he backed away moments before a Liam Dawson ball that pegged back his off stump as one flew across his line of vision, resulting in a dead ball. Scott Currie, the 19-year-old seamer, induced a couple of false shots and had him dropped at wide slip on 184, but he will resume unbeaten on Saturday morning, barring an overnight declaration.



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