Fast bowler confirms bid for full fitness is back on track after fiery opening gambit at Hove
Sussex 51 for 2 trail Kent 145 (Leaning 63; Robinson 3-29, Garton 3-65, Archer 2-29) by 94 runs
When Jofra Archer last played a first-class match at Hove he was not a World Cup winner nor had he played in an Ashes series. The game took place in September 2018 and was memorable for the final first-class centuries of both Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell. Trott’s hundred satisfied the technicians; Bell’s pleased the aesthetes and brings them comfort still. Archer had played 10 IPL games for Rajasthan Royals and was plainly England’s next big thing. But his four late wickets against Warwickshire hardly disturbed the universe and certainly nobody gave a monkey’s what he did with his fish tank apart, one assumes, from the fish. The age of aquaria had not yet dawned.
That era is upon us now, though, and so Archer is perhaps fortunate that he is based in Brighton, where other-worldliness is an asset and where shredding your finger cleaning up after your piscine pets is something that could happen to anyone. Even more than Britain’s metropolises this city is a shrine to the outré and the baroque. Archer is thus an extraordinary cricketer in a city filled with extraordinary people and maybe he enjoys the camouflage, even if such concealment is not always available. The news that he had recovered sufficiently from a right-elbow injury to be named in Sussex’s squad for this game against Kent brought extra photographers and journalists to the County Ground and in the first half an hour of the day we could all see why.
In Archer’s third over Daniel Bell-Drummond was beaten for pace and bounce; the catch went very fast to second slip where George Garton made it look laughably easy. Next over, though, Archer over-pitched and Zak Crawley helped himself to four runs past wide mid-on. We settled down for a duel between a couple of England’s Test cricketers, only for it to end two balls later when Crawley could do nothing with sharp lift and movement off a length except nick the ball to Ben Brown.
“Usually I bowl to Zak n the [England] nets and I have done that quite a bit,” observed Archer when our day’s cricket was done. “Obviously, you’re never out in the nets so it was good to get him out here, with umpires.”
Thereafter, though, the bowler upon whom some Ashes strategies may rest blended into the background of what became a fine day for Sussex. He bowled two spells of four overs and then one of five that was bridged by rain. The speed and steepling bounce will have reassured the selectors but Archer bowled no better than Ollie Robinson, with whom he may yet open England’s bowling in a Test match during this most unpredictable of seasons. Robinson nags at a batsman’s technique much as an abscess might plague the nerves beneath a tooth; extraction is often the inevitable consequence.
Such relentless discipline appeals to England’s selectors and Robinson was more responsible than anyone else in Brown’s attack for Sussex dismissing Kent for 145 on a cloud-strewn, shower-threatened day when the decision to bowl first cannot have required much thought. In the over after lunch he bowled Jordan Cox through the narrowest of gates for 24 and then returned in the evening to have Kent’s top scorer, Jack Leaning, taken at slip by Aaron Thomason for 63 when nibbling at a ball outside the off stump. “More of a chomp than a nibble,” observed Sam Keir, Sussex’s Media Executive, a man with a good memory for confectionery. One saw his point. It was a thickish edge.
By then, though, Leaning’s studious, three-hour innings had become an exercise in damage limitation. In the morning session he and Cox had piloted their side to 68 for 2 only to see such comparative affluence frittered away by the haemorrhage of five wickets for 42 runs in the afternoon. Cox was the first to go but that misfortune was followed by the loss of three batsmen in the space of 15 balls. Garton took two of the three and may even have benefitted from his irritating habit of mixing many distinctly good balls with occasional dross. The saddest departure was that of 20-year-old Tawanda Muyeye, whose maiden first-class innings lasted just eight balls before Robinson’s third leg-before appeal against him in the same over received a grim assent from David Millns, a decision with which Muyeye could have no complaint.
And the debutant had at least got a run to his name, a distinction not shared by Darren Stevens, who flashed at a wide one. The same error was committed in excelsis a few overs later by Marcus O’Riordan and both edges were taken by Thomason at first slip. The showers returned and Kent took tea on 113 for 7. Jack Carson picked up a couple of cheap wickets to end the innings but even that skill adds to a spinner’s growing reputation. Adil Rashid could tell Carson that.
Having been assisted by the relatively dry weather during the bulk of the day, Sussex were helped by the return of bad light when 14.3 overs remained to be bowled. At that stage Brown’s batsmen had reduced the deficit to 94 runs but only for the loss of Tom Haines who feathered a catch behind off Stevens and Thomason, whose booming drive off Nathan Gilchrist was snaffled by O’Riordan at cover point. It was a careless end to what had been a pleasing three sessions for Thomason and his team but Brown would have settled for this state of affairs this morning, when the captain of Sussex arrived at the ground on his scooter and saw a tiny murmuration of starlings feasting on grubs in the wet earth.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
Recent Match Report – Rockets vs Spirit 10th Match 2021
Hard-hitting 76 from 42 balls posts highest total of women’s competition so far
Trent Rockets 151 for 4 (Priest 76) beat London Spirit 133 for 7 (Higham 2-12) by 18 runs
In their reply, the returning Tammy Beaumont, who missed Spirit’s opening two fixtures after attending her brother’s wedding, struck her second and third balls for four before falling to Kathryn Bryce as they slipped to 25 for 2 inside the Powerplay. Dottin hammered Katherine Brunt for an imposing six over long-on as she and Heather Knight guided them to 70 for 2 at halfway – but sharp work from Priest and Sarah Glenn saw Dottin run-out backing up for 29 off 19 and the rest of innings fell away.
Priest repays faith
New Zealand veteran Priest had made a grand total of eight runs off ten balls (with two scoring shots) across Rockets’ first two matches in the tournament, defeats to Southern Brave and Northern Superchargers. But on a belting surface at Lord’s, Priest brought the benefit of five Women’s T20 World Cups and three 50-over World Cups to bear to post a formidable 151 for 4.
Priest and Sammy-Jo Johnson made a steady start, taking the score to 26 for 0 at the end of the Powerplay. But the introduction of Chloe Tryon’s left-arm spin for the next set – possibly a match-ups decision with two right-handers on strike – helped grease the wheels. Tryon’s first ball was a high full toss that was dumped for four (as well as being called a no-ball), and although the free hit went begging, the next ball became the first of Priest’s four leg-side mows for six; then another four disappeared through point.
Confident in her ability to pummel boundaries, Priest was happy to soak up a few dots – she faced 13 in the course of her innings – and pounce when offered up a morsel. She should have been caught by Beaumont at deep midwicket on 40, but the ball instead ended up trickling to the rope, and she then tucked into Charlie Dean’s offspin with a thump down the ground followed by another heave to leg, raising a 29-ball fifty. At that point Spirit took their strategic timeout, Priest had 71 from 36 with 40 balls still remaining in the innings, and was on track for the first hundred in the new format – only for Beaumont to atone with an excellent running catch off the 67th.
With Johnson playing an anchoring role, Rockets looked to their captain for an injection of rocket fuel during the closing stages of the innings. Sciver duly obliged, ticking along to 8 off 7 before dismantling Danielle Gibson during the 17th set of the innings. The first of three consecutive boundaries had an element of fortune about it, as she managed to clear Alice Monaghan at long-on, despite the ball landing a few yards inside the rope. But there was a touch of naked brutality about the back-to-back sixes that followed: a clean punch over mid-off that just kept going and going, and then an almighty crack that sailed beyond long-on, measured at 82 metres.
It wasn’t to cost them in the end, but the Rockets innings ended up having a slightly lopsided look to it. With Johnson batting through until the last 15 balls for 25 off 34, and Sciver holing out in the final set, there was a sense that they could have racked up an even bigger score. Between them, Priest and Sciver managed 108 from 58, while Johnson, Katherine Brunt and Heather Graham made 34 off 43 (and yes, that does add up to 101 balls bowled – because Priest’s tally includes a no-ball that was hit for four).
Spirit fade out
The partnership between Dottin and Knight kept Spirit in with a chance, adding 45 from 28 balls to leave them needing a steep – but not unconquerable – 80 from 50. Both players benefited from dropped catches, as Rockets began sloppily but it was a piece of fielding that helped break the stand – Priest was alert to possibility when Knight came down the pitch and padded into the off side, wicketkeeper racing up and relaying to Glenn, who removed the bails with Dottin well short of regaining her ground.
From that point, it was largely a case of the visiting side keeping their composure. Lucy Higham was given her first bowl of the tournament and struck straight away, as Depti Sharma shovelled a full toss to short fine leg – Bryce holding on above her head. Another fine catch, Emily Windsor running in from deep backward square, saw off the dangerous Tryon, and when Knight chipped to mid-off with 52 needed from 25, the contest was all but done, despite some lusty lower-order biffing from Dean and Gibson and narrowed the eventual margin of victory.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
Durham bubble breach – Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella likely to face long suspensions
Five-member panel recommends Gunathilaka and Mendis be suspended for two years; Dickwella for 18 months
Sri Lanka Cricket’s executive committee is due to meet on Friday to discuss the inquiry committee’s report, after which the players’ punishments will be finalised. It seems likely that suspensions will be handed out to all three. According to two board officials, though, it is not yet certain whether the board will be as harsh as the inquirers have suggested.
“It’s a very eminent committee that has made these recommendations – a committee that has a former Supreme Court judge – so we will have to take it very seriously,” SLC secretary Mohan de Silva told ESPNcricinfo. “But we will be taking the matter up for discussion at the executive committee meeting on Friday.”
De Silva did not rule out the possibility the board will consult further with the players involved, or team management, before the final decision on punishments is reached.
Dickwella has not previously drawn official SLC disciplinary charges, nor had he been arrested, as Mendis was after the accident.
Although SLC has not officially handed out any suspensions yet, Sri Lanka’s coaching staff has intimated they are not expecting any of these three players will be available for the T20 World Cup this year.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
Recent Match Report – India vs Sri Lanka 3rd T20I 2021
For Sri Lanka, Pathum Nissanka has replaced Isuru Udana in the XI
India chose to bat vs Sri Lanka
That India are forced to pick from their net bowlers is because nine of their players have been put in isolation, after Krunal Pandya tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, and eight of his close contacts have had to go into isolation. India played all 11 available players from the original 20-man squad, on Wednesday, but with Saini having seemingly hurt his shoulder attempting a catch, they have had to dip into their net-bowling reserves. Warrier has 53 domestic T20 wickets, with an economy rate of 7.29.
The series is tied 1-1 at present. There is a chance rain could interrupt play, but there should be enough cricket to constitute a match.
Sri Lanka: 1 Avishka Fernando, 2 Minod Bhanuka (wk), 3 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 4 Dhananjaya de Silva, 5 Pathum Nissanka, 6 Ramesh Mendis, 7 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Chamika Karunaratne, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Akila Dananjaya
India: 1 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Devdutt Padikkal, 4 Sanju Samson (wk), 5 Nitish Rana, 6 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 7 Sandeep Warrier, 8 Chetan Sakariya, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Varun Chakravarthy, 11 Rahul Chahar
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
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