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BBL draft uncertainty leaves Greg Shipperd ‘nervous’ as he plans Sydney Sixers hat-trick quest | Cricket

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Sydney Sixers are back-to-back BBL champions and hope to have a settled list © Getty Images


Sydney Sixers coach Greg Shipperd is not in favour of the proposed BBL draft for overseas players and admitted the uncertainty over how it could work has added a layer of complexity to planning for next year’s competition where the club will aim for a hat-trick of titles.

Plans for a player draft were put on hold last year due to the pandemic but it is expected to be added to the tournament for this season although Shipperd, who signed a two-year contract extension with the Sixers on Thursday, said details were still thin on the ground.

The Sixers have Tom Curran locked in as part of a three-year deal (he sat out last season due the complexity of traveling during Covid-19) and they are hopeful of having James Vince return after he scored 537 runs at 38.35 in last season’s campaign.

“I know there’s been meetings going on…but there’s been no finality and no crystallisation of any position that I’m aware of at the moment,” Shipperd said. “We’re hanging on the edge trying to understand if there is a draft or not, whether there’s two or three international players, how many domestic players, any rule changes. All of those things are being juggled behind the scenes but none of them have consolidated to the point where we can start to strategise around that.

“My personal preference is to go out and source your players as we’ve done in the past, but I’m not sure if that position is universally held across other coaches or franchises. I like to fit the people I source to the people and combinations and personalities in our group and be really specific around that.

“That’s served us very, very well and a draft takes a bit of that preparedness out of play. I’d be a little bit nervous about how that all unfolds and I hope that those deliberating around whether or not it does go ahead canvas all possibilities around how you can make the media attention around the draft…by proposing an alternative method.”

Should the draft come into being, one element that has been proposed is a system that allows clubs to retain overseas players they have had lengthy associates with such as Rashid Khan at Adelaide Strikers. That could help the Sixers keep Vince with Shipperd clear that club loyalty and keeping his squad together is a high priority.

“I like to provide stability within my groups and that’s why we signed Tom Curran straightaway once we saw the quality of him as a young player, a young man and young leader within our group – we wanted him for a long-term,” he said. “James Vince has hit that zone as well so I would be disappointed if, potentially, we missed the opportunity to have both of those players in our franchise this year because of the quirk on the draft.

“Conversations have been had but our squad is going to look very similar from a domestic point of view. I’m a big believer in, as best as we can, giving this group that has achieved so much in the last two years a strong crack at a third opportunity. Some would say that’s a big risk but there’s a lot of faith in the group from our coaching staff that they’re good enough to do it again.”




Greg Shipperd is hopeful of having James Vince return for another season © Getty Images


With the men’s Ashes series running until January 18 then a limited-overs visit by New Zealand starting at the end of that month, Shipperd is not expecting to see much, if anything, of those involved in the national squads.

Last season Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc were contracted but did not play a match due to the restrictions of moving between bubbles, with Starc later agreeing not to take part in the final so as not to disrupt a successful team. In a testament to the group put together by Shipperd, Moises Henriques and Sean Abbott were also absent for a large part of the regular season. The previous summer Lyon, Josh Hazlewood and Steven Smith all appeared in the latter stages of the tournament.

“This year I think it’s probably going to be the worst year for availability for our international players, given where we predict the tournament will be played with a significant Ashes series,” Shipperd said. “I’m tipping those big name international players are unlikely to be available for us which is again just a problem that confronts us every season. And it’s a difficult problem to ever solve given that the international programme is the one that takes priority.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo


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Australia in Bangladesh 2021 – Australia set to tour Bangladesh for five T20Is in August

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This will be Australia’s first tour to Bangladesh since 2017

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) have confirmed that Australia will arrive in Dhaka on July 29 to play five T20Is against Bangladesh, from August 3 to 9. Australia will comply with local health regulations by being quarantined in their hotel rooms for three days before they begin training at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, where they will play all five matches.

“The BCB and Cricket Australia have worked tirelessly together for confirming the itinerary,” BCB’s chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury said. “Naturally this was a challenge due to the Covid-19 pandemic as ensuring health safety and security is a priority prerequisite for holding any cricket series in these times. I am pleased to say that a comprehensive bio-security plan is in place and will be implemented during the tour for the protection of players and staff of the two teams and the match officials.”

BCB and Cricket Australia (CA) have reportedly agreed on extensive pandemic protocols that include a 10-day quarantine, which started earlier this week. Both teams will count their current bio-bubble measures on their respective tours as part of the quarantine. Match officials have already been isolated while the Bangladesh T20I team currently in Zimbabwe will go straight to the team hotel in Dhaka upon arrival. Bangladesh’s T20I series against Zimbabwe was also brought forward by a couple of days.

The major protocols for this tour include Australia’s immigration process conducted separately after CA expressed reservations about exposing their touring party in a hall room inside the airport. After they go through the VIP entry and into the team bus, their passports will be processed separately.

The team hotel will be completely off-limits to the public during the tour, which is reportedly a tighter plan than the BCB’s bio-bubbles for West Indies and Sri Lanka. The scheduling of the series has been at the CA’s request: to be held at one venue over a short window.

Bangladesh, in the midst of a second wave of Covid-19, reported 173 deaths on Wednesday, taking the tally to 18,498 since March this year, according to the Directorate General of Health Services. According to the official data, the Covid-19 fatality rate in Bangladesh is now 1.63 percent and the current recovery rate is 84.56 percent.

Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood said on Thursday that they are familiar with the limitations of their movement on tours.

“We’ve had a few meetings about what it’s going to look like in Bangladesh and it’s obviously going to be quite tight restrictions and within the bubble,” Hazlewood said. “I think it’s purely going to be either at the hotel or at the cricket ground, which we’ve done before and we’re used to. It’s quite a short trip as well, which is good, so I think it’ll be no dramas, we’ll get that done on the back end of this tour.”

This is Australia’s first tour to Bangladesh since their 2017 visit to play two Tests in Dhaka and Chattogram. They had cancelled their 2015 and 2016 (Under-19 World Cup) visits due to security concerns.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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India in England 2021 – Rishabh Pant returns to India camp after recovering from Covid-19

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It would appear, meanwhile, that the injured Shubman Gill is now back in India

Rishabh Pant has joined the India squad after recovering from Covid-19 and completing his mandatory period of isolation. Pant tested positive on July 8, and had not travelled with the rest of the team to Durham, where the Indians are playing a three-day warm-up match against a County Select XI ahead of the five-match Test series against England, which begins on August 4 in Nottingham.

On Thursday, the BCCI put out a tweet welcoming Pant back into the India contingent.

Pant’s mandatory isolation period of ten days, as prescribed by Public Health England, was set to end on July 18, subject to clearing two Covid-19 tests. He did not join the India camp immediately upon the end of his quarantine, however, and KL Rahul took the wicketkeeping gloves in his stead in the match against the County Select XI.



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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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