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India Women tour of England 2021 – ‘Mental make-up will make huge difference’

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Mithali Raj adds “it’s nice to go in without the baggage” as India Women seek exposure in tour of England

India Women kick off a busy year ahead with a seven-match tour of England. It starts with the one-off Test from June 16, their first game in the longest format in almost seven years. Ahead of the team’s departure for the UK, Test and ODI captain Mithali Raj and newly reappointed head coach Ramesh Powar spoke of India’s preparedness for the tour, workload management of key players, and much else. Here are excerpts from the pre-departure press conference.
Ten out of the 18-member Test squad haven’t played a Test before. India play two Tests away this year. Could blooding first-timers in the longest format away from home be a challenge?

Raj: It’s good to have Tests, whether it’s at home or away. If there’s continuity, it’s great because it helps the player as well. Sometimes it’s nice to go in without the baggage; you just go and play it, enjoy the atmosphere and it’s good to have girls who have played for the first time and girls who’ve played in the past share their experiences of how it was way back in 2014. But I guess having two back-to-back Test matches, I mean to say touring England and Australia, can give a lot of exposure to the current lot. And If that can be carried forward in the coming years, it will be great for the sport.

Powar: I think it’s a great start. As head coach, obviously, I want more Test games all over the world. We have to look at it in a different way. It’s just a start; let’s take it step by step. Don’t push the girls into a zone where you’re demanding too many things in Test cricket. It’s a new format [for them] that has not been played consistently over the last ten years, so let’s wait and watch how they react. We might get surprises. They will perform better [if] given the opportunity.

India have only played one full series – at home against South Africa in March – since the T20 World Cup last year. How will quarantines in Mumbai [before departure] and Southampton [upon arrival] affect the team’s pre-tour preparations?

Powar: It’s not ideal, worldwide, right now. We are trying to look at the bright side. If you look at it, women’s cricketers are getting opportunities – Test cricket, ODIs and, T20Is. It’s a good, long tour of 45 days, and I think, we as a team are thankful to the BCCI for putting up such a tour. It’s not easy.

It’s not physically possible, yes, [to prepare oneself adequately], but mental make-up will make a huge difference and I think in my last assignment we’ve tried that, and it paid dividends. I have done it with the Mumbai [men’s] team, and we had just six sessions, and we managed to react positively to the tournament we played.

Powar on the key to adapting quickly to English conditions
Powar: There will be balls seaming around for batters as well as bowlers. I think in every part of England the conditions will be different, so we will try and adjust to that. Batsmen will, obviously, play close to the body, they will show more patience. When the sun is out, they will enjoy their batting, when the sun is down, they’ll put in hard work to get over that period.

Bowlers also – if there’s a lot of help, they will have to control their swing also. There are a lot of things. We’ll go there and assess and we’ll build on it. We can’t go there with a fixed mind. The sun might be out and you may get flat tracks too. You never know.



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Eng vs NZ 2021 – Joe Root calls on England to find inner ‘showman’ as near-capacity crowds return

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Captain hopes that fans can inspire team after criticism for negativity at Lord’s

Joe Root, England’s captain, hopes that the return of a near-capacity crowd for the second Test at Edgbaston can inspire his players to find their inner “showman”, and scotch suggestions that they are a negative team, in the wake of their final-day go-slow in the opening match at Lord’s.

Root’s team has been embroiled in controversy since the emergence of historic offensive tweets from a number of squad members, most notably Ollie Robinson, who has been suspended by the ECB pending an investigation. And in the eyes of some of their critics, they missed an opportunity to get their fans back onside in the Lord’s Test, as they declined to take on a 273-run fourth-innings chase, and chose instead to block out for the draw.

But Root, who confirmed that the team would once again stand for a “moment of unity” before the start of the second Test, hopes that the return of 17,000 fans a day at Edgbaston may provide an opportunity for a change of narrative – even in the absence of their most proven crowd-pleaser Ben Stokes, who has been at the heart of most of England’s most thrilling victories in recent times.

“We’re all very aware we’re in the entertainment business,” Root said. “We all want to be part of those games, those special games that provide that entertainment. They’re the ones that you remember.

“The ones that stick in my mind are the World Cup final, Headingley , Cape Town … the ones that go to the wire, they’re the ones you remember as a player, and want to have big contributions in. Of course if there are chances to go and win Test matches, we want to go and take them, if we feel like that’s a realistic possibility.”

However, with an unproven batting line-up in this series – one that had made four ducks in the first innings at Lord’s – Root still believes that discretion was the better part of valour in the first Test, after Kane Williamson’s lunchtime declaration had left England needing 273 in a minimum of 75 overs. Dom Sibley led the rearguard with an unbeaten 60, spanning more than five hours, as England closed on 170 for 3.

“I’ve had some time to think about that,” Root said. “I look at the situation we found ourselves in and I still feel we made the right decision. We’ve turned up here with an opportunity to win the series, albeit it is not part of the Test championship, but it is a Test match and that means a hell of a lot to the players and the group.

“We’re very keen to put in five days of strong cricket this week and win the series. If the opportunities arise, we’ll definitely look to be aggressive. I don’t want us to be considered a negative team who play a boring brand of cricket. We have some very exciting players who are capable of some wonderful passages of cricket and hopefully that will come to light this week.”

Edgbaston has traditionally been a favoured venue for England players, with the crowd’s close proximity to the playing surface, and the habitually rowdy support from the Hollies Stand in particular. Australia’s victory in the Ashes opener in 2019 was only the second by a visiting side in the last 20 years, and Root said he was thrilled at the prospect of feeling that support again.

“It will be great to have [that many] people in, enjoying the sport again in pretty much a full house,” he said. “We know Edgbaston in particular provides a wonderful atmosphere, you feel like there’s 12 players on the pitch and you’ve got that extra man.

“We’re very aware how lucky we are and how well we’re supported. It’s something we’ve missed as a side and are very much looking forward to. We can’t wait to experience five good days of cricket along with everyone else in the crowd.

“Every individual takes it in slightly differently,” he added. “For me, it’s the excitement of it… there’s a showman in everyone, if you like, you want to go out there and put on a show for everyone and it’s an opportunity to do that in your own way.



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Jason Holder on losing Test captaincy

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“More or less for me now it’s just about having fun and enjoying however many days I have playing international cricket”

“It was kind of a shock” for Jason Holder to be relieved from the West Indies Test captaincy, and while he admits to finding it difficult to transition from being the leader to an ordinary member of the team, he wants to focus more on his game, and be a sounding board for youngsters looking for guidance.

“Yeah, it’s been difficult. I probably may not show it, but it has been difficult,” Holder told ESPNcricinfo in an interview a couple of days away from the start of West Indies’ first Test against South Africa in St Lucia. “For the last five-six years, I’ve been captaining West Indies, whether that be Test-match cricket or one-day cricket. So now being relieved of both captaincies, it has been a strange transition for me personally.”



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WI vs SA 2021 – Jason Holder calls for more action around anti-racism in cricket

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“I would like to see some more emphasis, some more thought process going into actually resparking or re-engaging the movement”

Almost a year to the day that West Indies became one of the first two international cricket sides to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter, their former captain Jason Holder has urged athletes to do more for anti-racism. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo ahead of West Indies’ series against South Africa, Holder said he wants the taking a knee to be given meaning again through greater awareness and action.

“I had a few discussions about it and I feel as though some people feel it’s now a watered-down action taken before the games. I would like to see some new initiative to spark the movement again,” Holder said. “I don’t want people to just think we’re taking the knee because Black Lives Matter, that’s the tradition and that’s the norm. It has to have some substance, it has to have some meaning behind it.”



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