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County Championship to return to two divisions from 2022

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Nottinghamshire in Division Two as 2019 promotions for Lancashire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire confirmed

The LV= Insurance County Championship will return to a two-division structure from next season, reverting back to the split that was due to come in before the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The decision, voted for by the first-class counties after discussions with the ECB, means that Nottinghamshire will go into Division Two next year – despite finishing third overall in 2021 and missing out on the title by a handful of points – and the 2019 promotions of Lancashire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire will stand.

There will be ten teams in Division One and eight in Division Two, a decision that was agreed in 2018, with each county playing 14 games. A seeding system is to be implemented in Division One, where the two additional teams will make for an asymmetric fixture list.
One proposal that was put to the counties was for the conference system to remain for another year – however, a vote on the matter last month was pushed back, with the expectation that it would not achieve the 12 votes required to pass.



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T20 World Cup 2021 – Ban vs PNG

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The PNG captain also called Kiplin Doriga’s lower-order rearguard ‘the blueprint of what we expect from him’

Papua New Guinea will understandably leave Muscat crestfallen, after bowing out winless from the T20 World Cup. After their 84-run loss to Bangladesh, their captain Assad Vala embodied their frustrations and spoke about where they will need to improve when they are back home.

“I am proud that we are here but I wouldn’t say we achieved,” Vala said. “We wanted to win games here. Not to make up the numbers. Losing all three games is pretty disappointing. If we could play our best cricket, we would have given ourselves the chance. We were up and down. We have to find out how to get the best out of ourselves.”

When asked what the team would leave the T20 World Cup with, Vala picked their fielding out as a positive but said there was a lot of room for improvement with bat and ball.



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SJN hearings – Jacques Faul

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During his time as acting CEO, CSA appointed Smith, Boucher, Kallis and Harris while demoting previous head coach Nkwe

Dr Jacques Faul, the former acting CEO of Cricket South Africa (CSA), has admitted that the organisation got it wrong when they appointed mostly white male candidates to top jobs at the end of 2019.

Faul is the first person to have worked within CSA’s executive structures to give responding testimony at the Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) hearing. He spoke extensively about events in the weeks that followed former CEO Thabang Moroe’s suspension and the England tour to South Africa over the festive period in 2019 which saw several high-profile appointments made.

Faul admitted CSA did not anticipate how badly those appointments would be received and that, in retrospect, he would have done things differently. “The optics were totally wrong,” Faul said. “We should have been politically more sensitive. It’s something I regret. We should have been emotionally more intelligent around that. We struggled to fully anticipate the outcry and it was a huge outcry. We didn’t anticipate that we would be viewed as a white takeover. If I knew that this was going to be the sequence of events, I would not have taken the job.”

Things got immediately worse for CSA over the exclusion of Temba Bavuma, the only black African batter in the squad to play England. Bavuma had missed the Boxing Day Test through an injury but was then excluded for the next Test after recovering.

“I met his (Bavuma’s) dad in the President’s Suite at Newlands,” Faul said. “I met a father who I could see was hurt. I remember that feeling when the headmaster catches you doing something wrong. That’s how I felt. I felt we had done something wrong. I could see the pain.

“He said to me, ‘Do you think my son will play for the Proteas (again)?’ I said, ‘I think he will. I think he will be the captain of the Proteas.’ We had a very civil conversation. I could see he was disappointed. He was also trying to tell me that in this country when we do things like that, the majority of South Africans don’t appreciate it. When his son became captain, he phoned me and I heard the joy in his voice. For that, I am also thankful.”

Many of those with stories of exclusion have told them at the SJN but a notable absentee is Nkwe, who believed he would continue as head coach at the time Faul was appointed, only to discover eventually that he would not. “He was devastated that he wouldn’t be going on and he said no-one has spoken to him for six weeks (after the India tour),” Faul said.

CSA was undergoing its own turmoil at the time, with Moroe being suspended, and Faul eventually stepping in. Within three days of coming on, Faul did set up a meeting with Nkwe.

By that point, Faul had already overseen the signing of Smith as DOC, although he was not involved in the negotiations over Smith’s appointment or salary, and Smith indicated to Faul that he would appoint Boucher.

“I said to him (Nkwe) that it’s my understanding that he would not continue as head coach but we wanted him to be part of the coaching panel. I asked him if he would consider being part of it as an assistant coach. He didn’t agree right away.

“I spoke to Enoch’s advisor and he said Enoch was really hurt by the fact that he wasn’t being considered head coach. I could see he was hurt but I wanted him part of it for a few reasons. One is it’s good for continuity – he had just been to India and we realised in future Temba would play a bigger role and he got on well with Temba. He had all the qualities we wanted in a coach. I also don’t blame him for having an expectation. If you’re in an acting position you do have that.”

Nkwe, who Faul said was being underpaid as interim head coach earning “much less than what was budgeted for, even by standards in 2012,” eventually agreed to work under Boucher but has since resigned. He cited concerns around team culture in his parting statement but has not expanded on that publicly since. Initially, Nkwe was identified as a successor to Boucher, who has a contract until the end of the 2023 World Cup.

The duration of Boucher’s contract is also something that has come under scrutiny, because of its length. Appointed in chaotic circumstances, Boucher was given a deal that lasts more than three years, but Faul emphasised that the jobs given to members of the coaching staff were ratified by the board and in line with good corporate governance.

“When Graeme Smith requested Boucher as coach, Boucher wanted Charl Langeveldt as bowling coach, Justin Ontong as fielding coach and there were initial discussions of having Ashwell Prince as the batting coach, but he didn’t want to do it. I mailed this list to the board.

“Out of nine board members at the time, there were seven people of colour. There was only one objection and that was to the duration the coaching staff would be appointed. They usually get appointed from World Cup to World Cup. Angelo Carolissen (Boland president and board member) objected to the duration because Mr Smith only signed for four months and he was appointing people for a three-year period. Professor Stephen Cornelius then said it is best practice to appoint them for that duration. The appointment of all of that staff happened more or less the same way and it was approved by the board.

“And the appointments that were made for cricketing reasons. But I admit we got it wrong. There were too many whites involved in a short period of time. Was it procedurally unfair? Not at all. Did a black board approve it? Yes, they did. Should they have been wiser? I think so. We should have been smarter when it came to that.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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Recent Match Report – Oman vs Scotland 10th Match, First Round Group B 2021/22

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The hosts brought in Suraj Kumar and Khawar Ali for Kaleemullah and Ayaan Khan

Toss Oman opt to bat v Scotland

Zeeshan Maqsood opted to bat for Oman in a must-win Group B clash against Scotland, with the winner progressing through to the Super 12s.

Oman made two changes to the XI that lost to Bangladesh two nights ago. Suraj Kumar, the wicketkeeper, and Khawar Ali, the top-order batter, came in for Kaleemullah and Ayaan Khan.
Scotland made just one change, to their bowling department. Fast bowler Safyaan Sharif, who missed the previous game due to a groin niggle, replaced Alasdair Evans.

Maqsood felt the surface could offer some turn later on, and the prospect of giving his batters the freedom to express themselves was hard to ignore.

Kyle Coetzer, his counterpart, felt differently. “We would’ve been happy either way, what we do know is this has probably been the best pitch from the three match days here,” he said. “We’ve got a real belief and togetherness amongst our group.

“Any game we play, there’s something on the line. Having to win three games to top the group, if that’s what we’ve got to do, we’re comfortable doing that.”

A win for Scotland will see them top the pool, and a loss will mean a heartbreaking exit despite winning their first two games, including one over Bangladesh on the opening night of the competition.

Oman, the hosts, are also on the same boat. But a win by 79 runs or more will help them top the group. A win by a smaller margin will mean they will be the second team to qualify from Group B, along with Bangladesh.

Scotland: 1 Kyle Coetzer (capt), 2 George Munsey, 3 Matthew Cross (wk), 4 Richie Berrington, 5 Calum MacLeod, 6 Mathew Leask, 7 Chris Greaves, 8 Mark Watt, 9 Josh Davey, 10 Safyaan Sharif, 11 Brad Wheal

Oman: 1 Aqib Ilyas, 2 Jatinder Singh, 3 Khawar Ali, 4 Zeeshan Maqsood (capt), 5 Kashyap Prajapati, 6 Naseem Khushi, 7 Mohammad Nadeem, 8 Suraj Kumar (wk), 9 Sandeep Goud, 10 Fayyaz Butt, 11 Bilal Khan

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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