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England vs New Zealand 2021

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James Bracey set to debut behind stumps, as England call up Billings, Hameed

Ben Foakes has torn his left hamstring in a dressing-room accident and will miss the two-Test series against New Zealand, starting at Lord’s on June 2, with James Bracey set to debut in his place as wicketkeeper.

Foakes, who had been in line to play his maiden home Test series after finishing the recent tour of India as England’s incumbent keeper, sustained the injury after slipping in his socks while walking through the Surrey dressing-room following their drawn LV= County Championship fixture against Middlesex on Sunday.

Foakes’ assessment and rehabilitation will be managed by the Surrey medical team. However, in a statement, the ECB said that he was expected to be out of action for at least three months, meaning he is unlikely to play any part in the five-Test series against India that starts at Trent Bridge on August 4.

In Foakes’ absence, Bracey is in line to take over the keeper’s role for his Test debut. Bracey has been a part of England’s bio-secure bubble since the home series against West Indies last July, and was already widely tipped to make his debut as a batter at some stage in the series.

However, the other established wicketkeepers in England’s ranks – Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow – are both missing from the current squad, having been rested following their involvement in the IPL, which was postponed earlier this month due to India’s surge in Covid cases.

As a consequence, Sam Billings has been drafted into the Test squad as cover. Though he was also at the IPL, as a non-playing squad member at Delhi Capitals, Billings’ winter was interrupted by a shoulder injury, sustained during his solitary ODI appearance at Pune. He returned to action as Kent’s captain last week, making 11 against Glamorgan in his first County Championship appearance of the season.

Given that Bracey was effectively covering for two roles in England’s squad, the coach Chris Silverwood has also recalled the Nottinghamshire opener Haseeb Hameed, who played each of his three Tests against India in 2016-17, before breaking his hand and suffering a subsequent loss of form for his former club, Lancashire.

Hameed, however, has started the 2021 season impressively, making 474 runs at 52.66 to help Nottinghamshire end a three-year win drought with three victories in a row. He is due to play in the forthcoming Championship fixture against Warwickshire at Edgbaston, starting on Thursday, before linking up with the England squad at their London base on Sunday night.

The timing of Foakes’ injury would be cruel for any player, but it is particularly unfortunate given how long he has had to wait to be given an extended run in England’s Test squad. He was first selected for England’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2018-19, and immediately impressed with a matchwinning hundred on debut in Galle. However, he was squeezed out of the XI after an ill-balanced team slumped to two Test defeats on England’s subsequent tour of West Indies.



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The Hundred 2021 – Kate Cross

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Dane van Niekerk, meanwhile, was thrilled by “the biggest crowd that I’ve played in front of at The Oval”

Players were “buzzing” after soaking up an “electric” atmosphere and making history on the opening night of the Hundred.

The Oval Invincibles won by five wickets with two balls to spare on the back of an unbeaten fifty by their captain Dane van Niekerk, but even Kate Cross, her opposite number on the losing Manchester Originals side, felt like she’d won something.

And she had. Winner of the first toss, choosing to bat despite thinking for months leading up to the game that she would field first in an attempt to settle inevitable nerves by allowing her side to absorb the occasion together on the field.

Striker of the first six, stepping down the pitch to slap Danielle Gregory over long-on, a look of sheer delight spreading across her face before she’d even finished her swing. She also cheerfully owned up to bowling the first front-foot no-ball.

“First” stats lose meaning when they are part and parcel of playing the first match of the first tournament of its kind. But most meaningful to Cross was the slice of history she, her team, and the opposition for that matter were part of.

“It feels like a win,” Cross said. “I don’t feel like we’ve lost that game of cricket. It’s a strange feeling but I just can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it.

“There’s a lot of learning while we’re out there but I said to the girls, tonight my biggest thing was first and foremost, enjoy everything. Enjoy the crowd, enjoy the occasion because we’ve made history. Regardless of the result. I said that’s irrelevant, we’re history makers.

“Let’s be honest, we were the guinea pigs. No one knew what tonight was going to look like and I’m so glad for the tournament, I’m so glad for everyone that’s worked so hard behind the scenes… they got the night they wanted and hopefully people enjoyed it.”

Cross had an excellent night, scoring 12 off just four balls, claiming three wickets with her first seven deliveries and leading her side with distinction.

The crowd of 7395 was well below The Oval’s capacity of 28,000, and while it didn’t feel massive, it felt highly respectable. The atmosphere began as interested anticipation, grew quickly into enthusiasm once the match got underway, and as the home side neared their target of 136 the place was jumping.

“Honestly, I don’t think I could come off a cricket pitch and be more pleased with a loss,” Cross said. “Genuinely it was the most electric atmosphere, I’ve never played in front of a crowd like that before.

“A new tournament with new rules, a lot of nerves around the group, a lot of unknowns, I couldn’t be prouder of the girls, I couldn’t be prouder of our performance.

“It was just an amazing night for women’s cricket, it felt like it was almost a perfect night for what the tournament needed to open. I’m absolutely buzzing, I don’t think I’m going to get to sleep tonight.”

For van Niekerk, the win clearly meant something too. As she edged Cross to the rope at deep third to seal victory, she stretched her arms wide in triumph.

“I was just really happy that that the first match of the Hundred was so entertaining,” van Niekerk said. “A bit more stressful than we wanted it to be but it was nice to give the crowd something to watch and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves.

“It was electric, it was incredible. The crowd carried us at the back end.”

The trick for Hundred’s organisers will be maintaining that warm afterglow.

“I hope that people come out every single game like that and enjoy this tournament, it’s really entertaining,” van Niekerk said. “I played for Surrey Stars for two years and it was definitely the biggest crowd that I’ve played in front of at The Oval and it showed that people are interested in this tournament.

“I hope that the people saw that it’s still cricket, it’s just a little bit shorter and a little bit faster, but the skill is still up there, it’s still exciting. A hundred balls is a hundred balls but it’s still cricket and I hope everyone was entertained as much as we were.”

As a standalone contest, this match was keenly fought, high quality and entirely watchable. You can bet the men will set out to be at least as competitive and entertaining when they begin their tournament with the corresponding teams meeting at The Oval on Saturday night.

Whether the Hundred is enough of a twist on the game already loved by many to attract new fans, whether it differs from T20 sufficiently to last long-term, and whether it will harm other formats as much as some fear, no one knows. But at least it’s started with a bit of a buzz.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Match Preview – West Indies vs Australia, Australia tour of West Indies 2021, 2nd ODI

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Preview

Australia will wait to assess the fitness of Aaron Finch but Alex Carey made a good start as stand-in

Big Picture

Australia continue to look much more at home in the 50-over format than the T20 game, which has pretty much been the way over the last year. Their strength on this tour lies in the bowling department and it showed in the way Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood cut through West Indies’ top order.

The batting display was far from dynamic, but it was one that suited a tricky surface reasonably well and given the experimental nature of the line-up they kept their composure after being 114 for 4. Captain Alex Carey was key to that with a well-constructed half-century that built on the hundred he made against England last year and Ashton Turner played an important hand.

West Indies were very poor with the bat. On a surface that made stroke-making a challenge – only Kieron Pollard scored freely and he had nothing to lose – they missed Shai Hope at the top of the order to offer a measured anchor for the chase. The shots of Darren Bravo and Jason Holder were disappointing for senior players.

However, Hayden Walsh Jr continued to spin a web around the Australia batting taking his five wickets in 16 balls. He would likely enjoy a scenario defending a decent target where there is run-rate pressure on the batters.

Form guide

(last five completed matches)
West Indies LWWWL
Australia WLWWWL

In the spotlight

Since the 2019 World Cup, ODI cricket has not been a good format for Jason Holder. In 15 matches he averages 13.28 with the bat and 69.60 with the ball. In the opening match he was the most expensive of West Indies’ pace bowlers then followed it with a duck. At his best, as a batter capable of being in the top six and a new-ball bowler, he is the ideal player to balance the XI but his team could do with an uptick in returns.

Ashton Turner made a promising return for just the seventh ODI of his career and the first outside of India. It was his spectacular unbeaten 84 off 43 balls in Mohali in 2019, as Australia chased 359, that put his name up in lights but also left him a tough act to follow. While a host of big names are missing this series there could yet be a middle-order spot for Turner in the future if he can build on his good start.

Team news

West Indies’ original squad has been hit by injuries to Shai Hope (ankle), Fabian Allen (side) and Roston Chase (thigh).

West Indies (possible) 1 Evin Lewis, 2 Shimron Hetmyer, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Jason Mohammed, 5 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 6 Kieron Pollard (capt), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Alzarri Joseph, 9 Akeal Hosein, 10 Hayden Walsh Jr, 11 Sheldon Cottrell

Whether Australia make any changes may depend on the fitness of Aaron Finch otherwise the team deserves another run out. The only consideration might be if there is a need for another spinner.

Australia (possible) 1 Ben McDermott, 2 Josh Philippe, 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Moises Henriques, 5 Alex Carey (wk), 6 Ashton Turner, 7 Matthew Wade, 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Wes Agar, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Pitch and conditions

It was a two-paced surface with the ball gripping for seamers and spinners which suggests Australia’s 250 might be a good total throughout. The expectation is that the next pitch will be similar. The forecast says there could be some showers during the match.

Stats and trivia

  • Mitchell Starc now has eight five-wicket hauls in ODIs which puts him one behind Brett Lee as the most for Australia
  • Hayden Walsh Jr now has his best bowling figures in ODIs and T20Is against Australia
  • Quotes

    “There were a couple of soft dismissals and we knew Australia are very dangerous with the new ball, especially Mitchell Starc in the first two or three overs and we weren’t able to negotiate that.”
    Kieron Pollard

    The ball has been coming out pretty well, T20 is sometimes hard to judge yourself on but yesterday was really good fun. That’s probably one of the best starts we’ve had so pretty happy
    Josh Hazlewood

    Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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    The Hundred offers something for bowlers and will keep captains alert | Cricket

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    01:58


    Explainer: How to read the Hundred scorecard


    Not sure if that was the intention, but the Hundred’s new playing conditions have a utility beyond the laughs. With the exception of a two-run penalty for a no-ball – which has been a feature of English domestic cricket – they are almost all geared to help the bowlers, the marginalised of the two participants in games of cricket. They will also make the fielding captain’s role more instrumental.

    The advantage is admittedly not massive, and the batters will eventually catch up as they keep getting stronger and better, but anything is welcome in a format that keeps shrinking further and further for a bowler.

    Shorter Powerplay
    This should offset the no-ball penalty. Fifty-three no-balls were bowled in 60 matches in last year’s IPL. So let’s assume there is one no-ball bowled every match. Adding that extra run is not that big a punishment, but a shorter Powerplay is a huge incentive. The Powerplay in the Hundred is only 25% of the innings as against 30% in old-school T20 cricket. That’s one over fewer in a normal T20.

    Tens = good for captains and bowlers
    Imagine MS Dhoni being allowed to bowl Deepak Chahar’s quota out in the Powerplay (no disrespect to Chahar’s emergence as a decent death bowler too). Or if for a certain match, Rohit Sharma could keep all of Jasprit Bumrah’s deliveries for the death. They could if they were captaining in the Hundred.

    The scope this gives bowlers and captains is immense. Imagine Dhoni walks in, and you have the option of bowling 10% of the innings from Sunil Narine without a break then and there. Dhoni strikes at slightly over 50 against Narine. And you don’t get away by playing a dot at the fifth ball; you are on strike for the start of the next five. The bowler, on the other hand, doesn’t have to nominate a “ten” at the start. So if a match-up gets away from him on the fifth ball, he can stop at five.

    Analysis will come in as the database continues to build, but it breaks the templates that T20 cricket has fallen into and that can’t be bad.

    Shorter “overs”
    Fives, as the umpire calls in the Hundred. Batters say they try to hit the first ball of a new over big to put the bowler under the pressure, but you also hear so often how a bowler has failed to get out of an over. The longer an over is, the more a batter gets a chance to line the bowler up. Perhaps in Test cricket you want it to be longer to set a batter up, but mostly in T20s, you are trying to get out of it without significant damage. The fewer the balls to constitute a mandatory set, the easier for a defensive bowler to get out of it without late damage.

    Of course batters will adjust and start treating the fifth ball as they do the sixth in other T20s, but it will take some time. Can’t be a bad thing.

    Last ball of the penultimate over is not a free hit
    A team is seven or eight down. A tailender is batting with a specialist batter. Seven balls to go, the tailender on strike, and you often hear commentators say this is basically a free hit. If you connect, great; if you don’t, at least the specialist batter is on strike for the last over.

    Not in the Hundred. The end changes only every two sets of fives. So at the end of the 19th five, the tailender will have to actually take a single to turn the strike over. Or keep facing.

    New batter always on strike
    Oh, so what if they sky one up and cross? Nope. Unlike in all other cricket, if a batter is out caught, it doesn’t matter if the batters in the middle crossed over. The new batter will be on strike. It might not sound as much to you, but ask a bowler who has forced or coaxed a batter to hit to his deep fielder but doesn’t get the luxury of bowling a new batter next ball because they crossed while the ball was in the air.

    One dampener
    For wides, the umpires have been instructed to “apply a very strict and consistent interpretation of this Law”. The umpires hopefully will continue to use their discretion to allow wide yorkers, especially to batters who move around in the crease. Also it does defeat the purpose a little bit: the more the number of wides, the longer the match goes on.

    Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo


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    ESPN Sports Media Ltd.






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