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Smriti Mandhana – ‘Never felt I would experience a day-night Test’

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Before she can think of the pink ball, however, her immediate focus is on tackling the Dukes ball in England

Smriti Mandhana has admitted that playing a day-night Test had been inconceivable to her until the announcement of India Women’s first-ever pink-ball Test, against Australia later this year.

“Frankly, when I used to watch day-night Tests of men, I actually never felt that I will be able to experience this moment – it’s wrong to say ‘I’ at the moment – that the Indian team will be able to experience the moment,” Mandhana told ESPNcricinfo. “So, when it got declared, I was like, ‘Oh, wow. That’s going to be crazy.'”



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Ban vs Aus, 2021 – Ashton Turner hopes return to bowling will boost T20 World Cup chances

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He hopes for more opportunity with the ball during the five-match T20I series in Bangladesh

Ashton Turner hopes a return to the bowling crease will boost his chances of being part of Australia’s T20 World Cup squad.
Turner has undergone multiple shoulder operations during his career, the most recent two years ago, and has rarely been seen with the ball. However, across the last two ODIs in West Indies he sent down 14 overs, claiming two wickets and impressing with his control.
It was the most he had bowled since the end of 2016-17 Australian domestic season when he delivered 41 overs in a Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales.

He now hopes for more opportunity with the ball during the five-match T20I series in Bangladesh, starting on Tuesday, which is a final chance to impress the selectors before the World Cup squad is named.

“Bowling is something I’ve always loved and unfortunately due to my shoulder injuries I haven’t been able to contribute much in games,” he said. “It’s been almost two years since my last operation, so I feel as good about my bowling as I have in a long time.

“Although I haven’t been able to bowl a lot in games, behind the scenes I’ve been working a lot at training and it’s nice in conditions that suited spin bowling and to be another option for the captain. Hoping that my bowling workloads can increase from here.

“Don’t think I’ve bowled eight overs in a game for more than four years…no doubt that will take some time. Feel like I’ve done everything I can over the recent periods and I’m starting to enjoy it as much as I used to.”

Having a second string could be a deciding factor in selection although Turner’s primary job will remain with the bat. He is seen as one of the players who could be Australia’s finisher but he only played twice in the recent T20I series against the West Indies. His best innings came in the first ODI when he made 49 while the performance that put him on the map internationally was his 84 off 43 balls against India in Mohali in 2019.

To date, he has made 87 runs from 89 balls across nine T20I innings. The 22 balls he faced in the third ODI in St Lucia is the most he has managed in a single game, in a position where the demands are often for instant results very quickly, but he believes his role in domestic cricket for Perth Scorchers stands him in good stead.

“There’s no secret until you’ve been able to walk out in high-pressure situations and perform, training can’t replicate that pressure,” he said. “I’m fortunate that for a number of years now I’ve been able to experience some close games in the middle order and try to finish innings. With that experience, comes confidence and that’s not something that can be found at training.”

In the West Indies, he also took the chance to pick the brains of Andre Russell who is a master of the closing overs and has also lent on the recalled Dan Christian in the Australian dressing room.

‘[Speaking to] Andre Russell on the back of the West Indies tour, being able to get some insights from him about how he goes about his game. He’s probably the best in the world at the moment at finishing innings and he’s another one playing T20 cricket only,” Turner said. “The message coming from Andre is that he’s trying to replicate the situations he has in games and challenge him as much as possible.

“Dan Christian is someone I’ve played a lot of cricket with but not necessarily spent a lot of time in the same dressing. So I have spoken to him about his transition from playing all formats of the game to now plying his trade as one of the best middle-order finishers in the domestic circuit. It’s interesting to see a change in his philosophy around batting and how he models his training and that’s certainly evolved over the last five years.”

The five-match T20I series against Bangladesh that begins on Tuesday will be played across seven days in Dhaka. Australia are expected to be captained by Matthew Wade in the absence of Aaron Finch who has returned home with a knee injury.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Australia selector George Bailey and his pressing tasks in the next 12 months

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New selection chief will play a key role in picking squads for the T20 World Cup and Ashes

While selectors can’t score the runs or take the wickets, they do have to make the final decision on who is best placed to do so. George Bailey, Australia’s new chairman of selectors, faces a number of big judgement calls over the next 12 months that will go a long way to defining this era of the men’s team.

A team to win the T20 World Cup

It is a trophy Australia’s men’s team have never won (they will have two chances in the space of a year) and preparations for this year’s edition have been far from ideal, with the current squad in the West Indies and Bangladesh stripped of a host of key names. However, in Bailey, they have someone very much in touch with the format – he has captained Australia in 28 of his 30 T20Is and played in the BBL as recently as the 2019-2020 season. The upcoming five games in Bangladesh are a last chance for the fringe candidates to impress Bailey, who will hope he has a full hand of players to select from for the final squad. If everyone is fit and available (captain Aaron Finch will shortly have knee surgery), the key decisions will be who fills the middle-order roles and who takes the wicketkeeping gloves.

Test batting spots

Test cricket has been thin on the ground for Australia during the pandemic and there will be a lot of people with fingers crossed that the Ashes goes ahead as scheduled. Last season’s 2-1 loss to an injury-hit India left a number of question marks with the list of central contracts announced earlier this year highlighting the uncertainty over the batting. As it stands, there is at least an opener and a No. 5 needed, presuming the other spots are filled by David Warner, Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green. With Warner being 34, it could also be that it is under Bailey’s watch that his career draws to a close.



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George Bailey named chairman of selectors of Australia men

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Trevor Hohns steps down having served collectively on the selection panel for 21 years

George Bailey has been named the new chairman of selectors of the Australia men’s team following the retirement of Trevor Hohns.
Bailey, who played 125 times for Australia, joined the panel in 2019 and takes on the top job ahead of selecting squads for the T20 World Cup and the Ashes later this year.

Hohns steps down having served collectively on the selection panel for 21 years – 16 as chairman – across two periods from 1991 to 2005 and 2016 to 2021.

“Firstly, I would like to thank Trevor for his incredible work which has helped shape the success of Australian cricket over a long period, including during my days as a player and captain,” Bailey said.

“In what can be a challenging job Trevor has always been calm, consistent and approachable. Similarly to his journey, he has made my transition from player to selector as smooth as possible. There is a lot I will take from Trevor’s style and very much look forward to the journey ahead.”

Hohns’ first period as chairman from 1995-2005 involved a period of huge success for the national team which included the 1999 and 2003 World Cup victories plus the record run of 16 Test wins.

He stepped down from his first stint after the 2005 Ashes defeat but returned in 2016. The second spell included the dramatic fallout from the Newlands ball-tampering scandal which required the management of the post-ban returns of Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft that happened during the 2019 Ashes were Australia retained the urn in England for the first time in 18 years.

“The game has been great to me and I have loved every minute of it, from the good times to the bad,” Hohns said. “I have been extremely fortunate to be involved with some of the greatest Australian teams of all time and many of the best players to have played the game.

“The successes of the side over the years have been great but I remember my time just as much for the wonderful people you work with and those you meet along the way. It has been an amazing journey for me, but all things come to an end. I am happy with my decision.”

Ben Oliver, Cricket Australia’s head of national teams, paid tribute to Hohns’ service to the game and the qualities of his successor.

“The impact Trevor has had on Australian cricket has been unparalleled over a long period of time,” he said. “For someone to have played such an integral part in so many incredible eras is a feat few, if any, ever achieve.

“The role of national selector is one of the most scrutinised in Australian sport and Trevor has performed it with great strength, judgement and humility. We will miss his experience but respect his decision to take a step back from the game and are grateful for his stewardship.”

“George is a highly respected leader who is now well established on the NSP alongside Justin as the head coach,” he added. “He has brought recent playing experience with a deep understanding of the game, an open and collaborative style and a desire to keep improving the selection function.”

Oliver also confirmed a third member of the selection panel would be appointed in the coming months.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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