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Australia news – Will Pucovski sees concussion specialist after head knock at training




A cautious approach is being taken given his history with concussions which have regularly impacted his young career

Will Pucovski has been forced to consult his concussion specialist following a head knock during a throwdowns session at Victoria training last week.

Pucovski, 23, has been making a gradual return to full training following shoulder surgery during the off-season and had been building up his batting in the nets when he took a blow on the head during a session at the Junction Oval.

First reported by the Australian, ESPNcricinfo understands the blow was relatively minor by comparison to previous head knocks he has suffered but he has been forced to consult his specialist with his history meaning a cautious approach is being taken although Pucovski has not reported severe symptoms.

“Cricket Victoria confirms Will Pucovski received a knock to the head in training with Victoria last Tuesday,” a statement said. “Will is currently managing his recovery in consultation with CV’s medical staff. He looks forward to returning to training as soon as he is able to do so.”

Pucovski has had an alarming number of severe concussions dating back to an incident playing Australian rules football as a teenager. The latest came last summer when he was struck in the head by India’s Kartik Tyagi while batting for Australia A prior to the start of the Australia-India Test series, which delayed his Test debut until the third Test in Sydney.

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T20 World Cup 2021 – New Zealand ‘tracking well’ despite Kane Williamson elbow niggle, says Gary Stead




Captain needs to find balance between rest and batting in nets as he manages long-standing problem

New Zealand head coach Gary Stead has cautioned captain Kane Williamson against “over-hitting” in the nets after his elbow complaint flared up during the warm-up fixtures in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup. Williamson captained the side and fielded during New Zealand’s most recent warm-up against England on Wednesday, but didn’t bat in their pursuit of 164.
Williamson missed New Zealand’s first warm-up, against Netherlands, with a niggly hamstring. He then came back in against Australia, top-scoring for New Zealand with 37 off 30 balls, but aggravated his elbow, a problem that he has been managing in the recent past.

“I think we’re still pretty hopeful and confident that if we get the rest right, initially here now, and get that balance right then he should be right to play,” Stead said. “I mean Kane is a prodigious hitter of balls, he loves to prepare that way as well, and in some ways that’s probably the worst thing he can do, is over-hit at times. So, it’s really [about] getting that balance right, between feeling ready and feeling prepared to go, and making sure we don’t aggravate anything any further.”

Mark Chapman also missed the game against Netherlands with a hamstring niggle but slotted into the middle order against England, although he was dismissed for 1 off 5 balls. Meanwhile, Tim Seifert, who had suffered an abdominal strain, returned to his dual role of opening the batting and wicketkeeping on Wednesday.

“Good to have Tim [Seifert] back, he just had a very minor abdominal strain and so he’s recovered well,” Stead said. “Played full part today and no issues at all. Mark [Chapman] had his first run back for a while as well and got through the games nicely, so again we will see how he scrubs up tomorrow morning when the physio looks at him; just to check over where he’s at. Kane’s elbow has just flared up a little bit after the last match and so it was more precautionary than anything. We just feel if we can get his preparation right in terms of not over-hitting and aggravating it through training, then it gives him the best chance to be right through the tournament. I think on the whole we’re tracking pretty well.”

Stead was particularly wary of the Sharjah pitches that were relaid ahead of the UAE leg of the IPL. He admitted that Sharjah tracks could pose a greater challenge to the batters than the ones in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. New Zealand will open their T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan in Sharjah and will play one more match, against a qualifier from the first round, at the venue.

“Yes, it looks that way from what we’ve seen,” Stead said. “Look, they [teams] haven’t played there since the semi-finals of the IPL, so there’s probably about a ten-day period there where, who knows, it could be better and even through the IPL we saw, I think, where KKR scored 170 there in one game as well. So sometimes you don’t want to overthink what it might be, but you do want an idea at the back of your mind how you believe it will play. And we have that in our mind now, we just have to make sure we’re really clear on our strategy around how we get there and adapt if we need to.”

Stead wasn’t too perturbed by New Zealand’s back-to-back defeats in the official warm-ups against Australia and England, reckoning his side got the game-time they needed.

“Certainly not the result of them – hasn’t [affected us] at all,” he said. “We had the game against Australia that went down to the last couple of balls. I think from our perspective we didn’t bowl out all of our bowlers we thought would bowl at the time and I know Australia sent in an opening batsman to come in at No.9 as well, which you normally wouldn’t see in that situation.

“Versus England, I think it was little bit more of bowling… we wanted to make sure [Daryl] Mitchell and [Glenn] Phillips had an over, for example, and just making sure they were ready if they do get the opportunity further down the track. So, there’s a lot of things: we retired Daryl Mitchell in one of them as well, so it’s really about us trying to get the best out of the warm-up games – what we felt that we needed. And overall, we got that, which was really good.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Match Preview – Netherlands vs Sri Lanka, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 12th Match, First Round Group A




Dinesh Chandimal’s poor form might prompt Sri Lanka to bring in Charith Asalanka

Big picture

Of all the matches in this qualifying round, this one seems to most have the feel of a dead rubber. Not only do Netherlands have no chance of making the Super 12s, but Sri Lanka are also highly likely to finish top of Group A thanks to their superior net run rate.

For Netherlands, this is a chance to make a mark in a tournament in which they will feel they have underperformed. In the first match, their batting was blown away by Ireland’s seam bowlers, while in the second, their bowlers could not withstand David Wiese’s assault for Namibia.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have earned themselves an opportunity to find a solution to their top-order issues. Dinesh Chandimal had another failure against Ireland on Wednesday, thus finding his position at No. 3 in serious peril. The likeliest replacement may be Charith Asalanka, but Dhananjaya de Silva is also in the squad.
Their fast bowlers, meanwhile, might get a rest. Lahiru Kumara has had a particularly taxing workload over the past few weeks, although it may be Dushmantha Chameera that Sri Lanka would prefer had a night off to recharge for the Super 12s.

Form guide

(Last five completed matches, most recent first)

Netherlands LLLTW
Sri Lanka WWLLL

In the spotlight

One of the few bright spots for Netherlands has been the batting of opener Max O’Dowd. He hit 51 off 47 balls against Ireland while the rest of the top order blew up around him, before making a 56-ball 70 that was the backbone of Netherlands’ innings against Namibia. He has got arguably the best attack of the qualifying stage to contend with in this match, though. Can he maintain his output?
Pathum Nissanka has promised a lot more in Tests than he has in the shortest format, but in hitting his first half-century against Ireland, he suggested he could find success in this World Cup yet. He was unambitious in the early overs while wickets fell around him, but never seemed bogged down either, finding a way to keep his score moving until the boundaries eventually came. After all, Sri Lanka desperately need a reliable run-scorer in their top three.

Pitch and conditions

This will be both teams’ first match in Sharjah. During the IPL, the Sharjah tracks were slow, turned a bit and had variable bounce. Temperatures are expected to hover around the low 30s Celsius range again. If the conditions in Abu Dhabi are anything to go by, dew could be an issue too.

Team news

Although No. 5 is a more familiar position for Asalanka, he may slot in at No.3, leaving Bhanuka Rajapaksa at No. 5.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Perera (wk), 3 Charith Asalanka, 4 Avishka Fernando, 5 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt.), 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Binura Fernando, 10 Maheesh Theekshana, 11 Lahiru Kumara

Netherlands may bring in Brandon Glover in place of Timm van der Gugten.

Netherlands (possible): 1 Max O’Dowd, 2 Stephan Myburgh, 3 Roelof van der Merwe, 4 Colin Ackerman, 5 Ryan ten Doeschate, 6 Scott Edwards (wk), 7 Bas de Leede, 8 Pieter Seelar, 9 Logan van Beek, 10 Fred Klaassen, 11 Timm van der Gugten/Brandon Glover

Stats and trivia

  • In the only previous T20I between these teams, Netherlands were bowled out for 39, a game which Sri Lanka won with 15 overs to spare. That was, however, during the World T20 in 2014, when Sri Lanka had arguably their greatest T20I side – a team which went on to lift the trophy.
  • This year, O’Dowd has hit 293 runs in just six innings, and at a strike rate of 137.
  • In 14 innings in 2021, Wanindu Hasaranga has 23 wickets and an economy rate of just 5.43.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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SJN hearings – Linda Zondi on why he turned down AB de Villiers when wanted to return for 2019 World Cup




South Africa’s then-chief selector says such a decision would have been “unethical to the players already selected”

AB de Villiers‘ availability for the 2019 World Cup was brought to the attention of South Africa’s then-chief selector Linda Zondi two days before the squad was announced, but was turned down because it would’ve been unfair on players already selected.

Zondi appeared before Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Social Justice and National-Building (SJN) committee to discuss various selections that took place under his watch. Specifically, Zondi went over the incident which saw a de Villiers’ return to the national side, a year after leaving the international game, shot down.

“When AB took a break [in 2017], he didn’t share the information with me,” Zondi said. “I contacted him and said I wasn’t happy with what you have done and he apologised. Then there was the World Cup, which was a massive story. The captain [Faf du Plessis] came to me and said AB would like to be included in the World Cup. I turned it down because AB had earlier come to me and said he wanted to retire and I told him [then] we need you in the World Cup in England. If there are certain series you miss, we can work with that. I said I am happy to manage your time and you can retire after the World Cup. He said no, he wants to retire. Then, Faf came that AB wanted to return. I turned it down. I thought it was unethical to the players who were part of the squad.”
Zondi also provided more detail on the case of Khaya Zondo, whose non-selection has become, over the course of the hearings, a central illustration of the complexities of selection in South Africa over the years.
Former selector Hussein Manack has already claimed at the hearings that de Villiers blocked Zondo’s selection for an ODI against India.

“What happened on the day was, because I wasn’t there, the selector on tour became the final decision-maker,” Zondi said. “I’m glad Hussein came and confessed that he had pressure put on him. I was clear with him that I was very unhappy with the decision.”

Zondi said Manack had called the selection panel on the previous evening and they agreed that Zondo would play. “He contacted us the night before saying JP is injured, so we will need a replacement. Secondly, we have David Miller who is not in form. The first thing we had to deal with was to fly in a replacement from South Africa. Because even if Khaya played, we still needed to have a back-up.

“We said fine, it’s not a difficult situation. Khaya must play. Khaya had been to India. He was in form. He was a batter, and the spot was in his position. He would not have been thrown in the deep end. It was a no-brainer. Khaya must play. It was made clear to Hussein that Khaya must play. In the morning, I turned on the TV and I saw Khaya was not playing.

“He [Hussein] shared the information with the captain AB de Villiers and according to Hussein, AB was unhappy. He sensed AB put him in a corner. He felt Dean Elgar, because of experience, should play, and Hussein gave in. When he gave in, he didn’t come back to me and said we are changing our decision. AB knew that I was a full-time convenor. At any stage, if the captain was not happy with the selection, he should have contacted me. The CEO [Haroon Lorgat] was on tour and the CEO himself entertained the discussion. The captain didn’t come to me, the CEO didn’t come to me. When the team came back to South Africa, I made sure the right process was followed and Khaya played in the next series.”

In a response to ESPNcricinfo in August, de Villiers did not deny that leaving Zondo out was his call but said he felt it was for the benefit of the team. “It is obviously difficult to pick apart selection discussions many years later, and recollections will vary. However, I can unequivocally state that my input to such discussions was always motivated only by what I considered to be best for the team, and nothing else.”

Despite that incident, and his frustration with de Villiers, Zondi said he never experienced any racism from de Villiers and “never had any issues with him in terms of him undermining me because I was a black convenor”.

Zondi also spoke of his experience over the exclusion of Thami Tsolekile from the Test team in the 2013-14 season. Tsolekile was nationally contracted and identified as Mark Boucher’s successor in 2012 but did not play in series in England or Australia because de Villiers was preferred. Tsolekile was told by then convenor Andrew Hudson that he would play in the following home series against New Zealand but de Villiers chose to stay on as wicketkeeper, before Quinton de Kock made his debut in February 2014.

By then, Zondi had joined the selection panel and been part of discussions over whether Tsolekile should play or de Kock should debut when Alviro Petersen was injured against Australia. Zondi’s view was that Tsolekile should play, but he was outvoted 3-2 on the selection panel. “I personally went to Graeme Smith to speak to him as a captain,” Zondi said. “I said to him that I believe it’s important we see Thami playing. To his credit, Smith said he will take the team from the convener and play that team. We voted on it and it ended up being 3-2, and then Thami didn’t play and wasn’t in the team given to Smith.”

The panel at the time consisted of Hudson, former national player Shafiek Abrahams, Zondi, Manack and national coach Russell Domingo. Zondi and Manack voted in favour of Tsolekile playing while the other three voted against it. None of Hudson, who serves on CSA’s board currently, Abrahams or Domingo are due to testify at the SJN.

Zondi maintained that during his time in selection he aimed to balance objectives between ensuring transformation goals were being met and that the South African team remained a world-class outfit. “I made sure that the black African players we picked were good enough; that they were world-class. And in doing so, we couldn’t put aside the white players who were doing well within the structures.

“We did very well in saying there was no white player who was good enough who never played. For example, [Rassie] van der Dussen, was one of those guys who were doing well in the franchise system and we played him. We had to make sure we created balance.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent

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