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New Zealand keeper BJ Watling to retire after England tour

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The 35-year-old will end his career as New Zealand’s most prolific Test keeper behind and in front of the stumps

BJ Watling has announced he will retire from all cricket at the end of New Zealand’s upcoming Test tour of England. This will mean that form and fitness permitting, he will end his career with two Tests against England at Lord’s (June 2-6) and Edgbaston (June 10-14), followed by the World Test Championship final against India, which is scheduled to be played from June 18 to 22 in Southampton.

“It’s the right time,” an NZC release quoted Watling as saying. “It’s been a huge honour to represent New Zealand and in particular wear the Test baggy. Test cricket really is the pinnacle of the game and I’ve loved every minute of being out there in the whites with the boys. Sitting in the changing rooms having a beer with the team after five days’ toil is what I’ll miss the most. I’ve played with some great players and made many good mates. I’ve also had plenty of help along the way for which I’ll always be grateful.”

The 35-year-old Watling will end his career as arguably New Zealand’s greatest-ever wicketkeeper-batsman in Test cricket. He has scored more runs (3381) than any other wicketkeeper from his country, and at a better average (39.77) than any New Zealander to have kept wicket in at least ten Test matches. He also has more dismissals (257) than any other New Zealand keeper, apart from ten catches as an outfielder.



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Vitality T20 Blast 2021 – Sam Robson’s maiden T20 fifty sets up consolation Middlesex win over Essex | Cricket

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Daryl Mitchell struck 43 off 30 balls © Getty Images


Middlesex 169 for 5 (Robson 60) beat Essex 160 for 9 (Finn 3-25) by nine runs

Sam Robson put on a rare showcase of his T20 skills as Middlesex beat Essex Eagles by nine runs in the Vitality Blast at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford.

Test-capped Robson, known for his red-ball talents, was only playing his seventh T20 match but showed off his repertoire with 60, as Middlesex struck 169 for five in blistering heat.

Afghanistan international Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s cheap two-for put the stoppers on a promising start to the chase before Steven Finn (3 for 25) and Blake Cullen’s (2 for 26) late wickets made sure of the victory. It meant Middlesex avoided the South Group wooden spoon by claiming their fourth victory of the Blast, while condemning Essex to an eighth defeat – although this fixture was already a dead rubber with both out.

Robson had previously only played four games in 2011 and twice this season, scoring just 69 runs, but his inexperience in the format didn’t show. His opening partner Max Holden nicked off first ball but Robson and Joe Cracknell kickstarted the innings with a stand of 59 for the second wicket.

Cracknell pulled to deep midwicket as Robson glided past his highest score of 28 and to his maiden format half-century. He reached fifty in 40 deliveries, with a six straight back over Simon Harmer’s head before following it up two balls later by dispatching over wide long-on.

Robson fell for 60 when she holed out to long-on, to give Aron Nijjar a wicket to go alongside the miserly four overs going for 20. John Simpson and Daryl Mitchell totted the score along, adding 24 and 43 before being stumped and paddling to short fine leg respectively.

The Eagles were on top of the chase at the halfway mark having reached 88 for 2. Adam Wheater slogged to deep midwicket but Tom Westley and Dan Lawrence confidently and comfortably struck a 50 partnership from 29 balls.

But wickets, and a slowdown in the 11th and 12th overs, tilted the balance towards the visitors – as Westley was bowled by Luke Hollman and the impeccable Mujeeb castled Michael Pepper.

Debutant Josh Rymell showed some decent skills before being bowled by Mujeeb for 21 and then the bottom fell out.

Neesham was caught at deep midwicket, Paul Walter was caught and bowled and Simon Harmer skied to put Finn on a hat-trick – although Nijjar thwarted the attempt with a six. The former England bowler got the last laugh when he was caught at long-on, and the loss of five wickets in 17 balls killed off the hosts.

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Recent Match Report – England vs Pakistan 2nd T20I 2021

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England bring in Adil Rashid and Chris Jordan, asked to bat first at Headingley

Toss Pakistan chose to bowl vs England

Jos Buttler has been named as England’s captain for the second T20I of the series against Pakistan in Leeds.

Buttler, who has not played since sustaining a calf injury in the victory over Sri Lanka at Cardiff on June 23, is one of three changes to an England side that lost the first T20I in Nottingham on Friday.

Adil Rashid and Chris Jordan also return to the England side, with Lewis Gregory and David Willey missing out. But it is the absence of Eoin Morgan, England’s regular limited-overs captain, which is most noteworthy.

Morgan had indicated ahead of the first match that England would use the series to take a look at different combinations of players but, having only batted twice in July and reached 20 just once in England’s white-ball season, his absence might raise some eyebrows.

“It looks like another fantastic wicket,” Buttler, who last captained England in a T20I in February 2018, told Sky Sports. “There are some smallish boundaries, too, so I expect a high-scoring game.”

Pakistan have named an unchanged side. Their captain, Babar Azam, won the toss and chose to bowl first. “We’re looking forward to carrying on that momentum and wining the series,” Babar said.

Pakistan’s total on Friday of 232 for 6 was not only their highest in the format but also the highest conceded by England since 2013. If Pakistan win here, they will inflict England first home series T20I defeat since 2018.

England: 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jos Buttler (wk and capt), 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Liam Livingstone 6 Jonny Bairstow, 7 Tom Curran, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Matt Parkinson, 11 Saqib Mahmood

Pakistan: 1 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 2 Babar Azam (capt), 3 Fakhar Zaman, 4 Sohaib Maqsood, 5 Mohammad Hafeez, 6 Azam Khan, 7 Shadab Khan, 8 Imad Wasim, 9 Haris Rauf, 10 Mohammad Hasnain, 11 Shaheen Shah Afridi

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo



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Match Preview – Ireland vs South Africa, South Africa tour of Ireland 2021, 1st T20I

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The two countries meet for the first time in the shortest format with a global event looming not far off

Big Picture

After a first last week – when Ireland beat South Africa in an ODI for the first time – there’s another coming this week. The two teams will face off in the shortest format for the first time. Both are entering the final stages of preparation for the T20 World Cup later this year, with South Africa gearing up for a group that includes England, Australia and West Indies, and Ireland needing to go through a qualifier against Sri Lanka, Netherlands and Namibia.

The hosts have the more difficult task, having last played T20I cricket over a year ago, in March, against Afghanistan. Since then, they have had series against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Pakistan cancelled but will play at least eight matches (three against South Africa and five against Zimbabwe) in the lead-up to the global event in October.

South Africa have fewer matches, just six (three against Ireland and three against Sri Lanka, after a series against India has had to be postponed again because of the IPL) and plenty of questions remain over their strategy. Despite beating West Indies 3-2 earlier this month, they have yet to settle on combinations but aim to use the Ireland matches to solidify their plans. Coach Mark Boucher indicated there is a level of fatigue in the camp, made worse by news of unrest at home, but with just a week left on the road, they have promised to give it their all.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Ireland TLLLW
South Africa WLWWL

In the spotlight

Ireland’s headliner Kevin O’Brien will be back to try and find form as he prepares for the T20 World Cup. O’Brien has played five international matches this year – all ODIs – and managed just 27 runs, with three scores in single-figures and a duck. He has also had a tough time in the Irish inter-provincial T20 tournament, with 47 runs in six matches and a top score of 16. His last international milestone came almost two years ago, a century in a T20I against Hong Kong. It is Ireland’s only hundred in the format and they will want him to summon the spirit of that knock tomorrow.

The world’s top-ranked T20I bowler, Tabraiz Shamsi , has been vocal on social media on topics including the challenges of life in bio-bubbles but has also seen the lighter side of having limited contact with others and will want to combine his frankness and good humour to end the tour on a high note. Shamsi was outstanding in the West Indies, where he was South Africa’s joint-leading wicket-taker and maintained the lowest economy rate for any bowler on either side (4.00) and will challenge both the Irish defence and run-scoring ability.

Team news

O’Brien has retired from ODIs but remains available in the shortest format, and is expected to open the batting alongside Paul Stirling. A middle-order of Harry Tector and George Dockrell, who were successful in the ODIs, will precede the power-hitting Shane Getkate and ODI centurion Simi Singh. Ireland are likely to have four seamers at their disposal in Getkate. Barry McCarthy, Josh Little and Craig Young.

Ireland: (possible) 1 Paul Stirling, 2 Kevin O’Brien, 3 Andy Balbirnie (capt), 4 Harry Tector, 5 George Dockrell, 6 Lorcan Tucker (wk), 7 Shane Getkate, 8 Simi Singh, 9 Barry McCarthy, 10 Josh Little, 11 Craig Young

South Africa seem to have settled on Temba Bavuma to partner Quinton de Kock at the top in T20Is with Aiden Markram likely to feature at No.3. David Miller was rested for the final ODI but could make a return in the middle order, which may also include both a seam-bowling (Wiaan Mulder) and spin-bowling (George Linde) allrounder. With bowling a big focus for South Africa, expect them to play their first-choice attack.

South Africa (possible): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Temba Bavuma (capt), 3 Aiden Markram, 4 Rassie van der Dussen, 5 Heinrich Klaasen/David Miller, 6 Wiaan Mulder, 7 George Linde, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Anrich Nortje, 10 Lung Ngidi 11 Tabraiz Shamsi

Pitch and conditions

The third ODI on Friday showed that big runs are possible in Malahide and we can expect more of the same in the opening T20I which may bolster the ground’s average first-innings score of 152. There have only been three scores over 200 in 13 T20Is played at this ground, all achieved by the teams batting first, and all successfully defended. The highest successful chase at this venue is 182. Monday’s weather is set to be fine and warm, with no rain.

Stats and trivia

  • Ireland and South Africa have never met in a T20I
  • Andy Balbirnie needs 55 more to become the fifth Irish player to reach 1,000 T20I runs
  • South Africa have won two out of their last eight T20I series dating back to March 2019

Quotes

Some of the things is making sure we are confident in our death bowling. We have clear plans, it’s a matter of executing that over a long period of time. And also by the end of the Sri Lankan tour, that we can trust the formula we have been working on over the last couple of months.
South Africa need to work on their end-of-innings bowling and overall strategy ahead of the T20 World Cup, according to assistant coach Enoch Nkwe

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent





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