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Netherlands, Namibia look to fly their flags high at T20 World Cup 2021

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Both teams also carry a few South African names as they look to deflect pressure ahead of the tournament’s opening round

The T20 World Cup is all about winning but Namibia’s Gerhard Erasmus and Netherlands’ Pieter Seelaar tussled over whose team will fly further under the radar in a bid to deflect pressure off their sides ahead of the tournament’s opening round.

When asked about the expectation facing Associate nations keen to punch above their weight on the biggest stage, Seelaar put the ball firmly in Group A favourites Sri Lanka’s court, saying, “Sri Lanka need to go through; we want to go through, so that’s the difference,” before Erasmus chipped in with, “Maybe I will grab the underdog tag from Pieter and we’ll go with that.”

There were chuckles all around but in reality both captains are feeling the immense weight they carry ahead of what could be the most important week in many of their cricketing careers.



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ECB investigates after Joe Root and James Anderson are seen among ‘intoxicated people’ in Hobart team hotel

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“Time for bed, thank you” – police had to be called in to send the merrymakers, which included Australians Lyon, Head and Carey, to their hotel rooms as the noise continued till just after 6am

The ECB has launched an investigation after an early-morning drinking session at England’s team hotel in Hobart ended with the police being called in to send the players to bed.

The gathering was taking place in a public area in Hobart’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, and had extended to 6am when the police were brought in following a noise complaint from fellow guests. The players all left the area immediately.

“Tasmania Police attended the Crowne Plaza Hobart on Monday morning after reports were made of intoxicated people in a function area,” a police statement read. “The guests were spoken to by police, just after 6:00am, and left the area when asked. No further action will be taken by police.”

In the footage of the incident, which appears to have been filmed by England’s assistant coach, Graham Thorpe, a female police officer can be heard saying to the group: “Too loud. You have obviously been asked to pack up, so we’ve been asked to come. Time for bed, thank you. They just want to pack up.”

In his voiceover from behind the camera, Thorpe can be heard saying, “We’ve got Nathan Lyon, Root, there’s Carey and Anderson. I’ll just video this for the lawyers. See you in the morning, everyone.”

A spokesperson for the ECB said it would be investigating the incident, with the focus likely to be on how the footage made it into the public domain.

“During the early hours of Monday morning, members of the England and Australia men’s teams shared a drink in the team areas of the hotel in Hobart,” the ECB’s statement read. “The hotel management received a noise complaint by a hotel guest, and as is commonplace in Australia, the local police attended the scene. When asked to leave by hotel management and the Tasmanian police, the players and management in question left and returned to their respective hotel rooms. The England party have apologised for any inconvenience caused.

“The ECB will investigate further. Until such times, we will make no further comment.”

The incident is a further embarrassment for the England team in the wake of their 4-0 Ashes loss, amid reports that a drinking culture within the squad was a significant factor in the players’ disappointing performances across the five Tests.

Ashley Giles, the ECB director of men’s cricket, is due to compile a report into the circumstances of the tour, including recommendations for the future direction of the Test team. Root has already stated he wants to stay on as England captain, despite overseeing his second Ashes tour defeat in four years.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket



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WI vs Eng T20Is 2022 – West Indies ‘batting quality not there’

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Head coach worried about ability of players coming into side from domestic ranks

Phil Simmons has echoed his limited-overs captain Kieron Pollard‘s analysis that West Indies “have a batting problem” but insists he is not worrying about his job as head coach after a shock 2-1 ODI series defeat at home to Ireland.

Speaking from Barbados ahead of West Indies’ five-match T20I series against England, which starts on Saturday, Simmons said that his batters were failing to translate their progress in training into results on the pitch, but stressed that scapegoating players already in the squad would only serve to mask the systemic failings to develop them at a domestic level.

“It’s there to see: our batting quality is not there,” Simmons said. “Everything comes from lower down: if you’re coming into our squad and you’re averaging 30s when you come to the top level, you’re not going to average 40 or 50.

“The holistic approach means that all through the ranks, all the way from the Under-19s, we have to be looking at preparing people to play at the international level. Averaging 20s and 30s at the domestic level doesn’t prepare you for the international level.

“How much the players are assessing the situation and playing the situation… it’s not really happening. Yes, [Sabina Park] was a difficult pitch to bat on for all three days at the start [of the innings], but we got through most of the difficult period and then things went astray. It’s about bad shot selection … that’s a huge part of the batting failure.”

Simmons, who was re-appointed as head coach in October 2019 and oversaw West Indies’ failed defence of the T20 World Cup he won with them in 2016, insisted that he was only focused on improving the players at his disposal, not his future in the role.

“If I start worrying about my job then I have problems,” he said. “I am worrying about the success of the team and I am worrying about how we get players to be playing their roles. That’s all I’m concerned about. You’re always under pressure as coaches when the team’s not doing well, in any sport you play, and when the team is doing well, the coaches are forgotten. That’s the nature of the job.

“I enjoy it everyday. My role is seeing the players and working with them, trying to bring out different things in them. To be honest, when we practise, there’s a lot coming out, there’s a lot being shown. It’s just how they adjust and assess the situation when they cross the rope … because that’s where it’s falling down.

“Every ball is a situation in the game and we’ve got to be able to assess that situation and know how to play. If you’re 20 for 3, you play differently to if you’re 40 for 0. These are the situations that we need to highlight and need to assess properly.”

West Indies’ squad for the England T20Is contains only six players who made appearances during their Super 12s exit at the T20 World Cup, with a handful of young players including Dominic Drakes, Romario Shepherd and Odean Smith included. The trio all featured in December’s 3-0 series defeat in Pakistan – where the squad was depleted due to a Covid-19 outbreak – and Simmons said that he hoped they would continue to bring “energy” to the group.

“There’s a lot of difference from the World Cup, as you saw in Pakistan,” he said. “Yes, we lost the three games, but there was a lot more energy, a lot more enthusiasm and that’s the same with this group for this series against England. There’s an influx of maybe six or seven guys who were not there against Ireland and there’s a lot of energy coming in.

“It [would be] a difficult situation if we had the same team from the World Cup but we have a lot of new faces and a lot of guys who want to make an impression and be a part of the team going forward. From that point of view, it’s not as difficult as it might seem.

“We as a cricketing nation always have players who have the ability to hit the ball over the fence and it’s something I don’t want to take away from my players, but I also want my players to be clinical. In situations where you don’t need to do that, well, we must be able to get ones, to get twos.

“[I want them] to bowl yorkers at the end instead of missing them, and hitting them more consistently than we are right now. There’s a few things that we haven’t been doing properly and we’re working very hard on them. The important thing now is for the youngsters to come in and hone their skills and be able to execute them in the middle, not just in practice.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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Women’s Ashes – Tightrope walk for Australia and England with ‘scattered’ preparations leaving them undercooked

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Getting the show on the road itself will count as an achievement considering the Covid-affected build-up to the marquee series

Covid. Schedule changes. Dodgy nets. Postponed matches. Injuries. Fear of missing the World Cup. To say the preparations for Australia and England ahead of the women’s Ashes have had their challenges would be an understatement.

However, the squads have (mostly) made it to Adelaide to begin the multi-format series, which in itself is no mean feat. The men’s Ashes had to navigate Covid from the second Test onwards – while England’s support staff was severely depleted, Travis Head finished as the only player impacted – but the women’s series feels as though it will be even more of a tightrope walk because of the need to travel to New Zealand as soon as it finishes.

“We’ll endure what we have to,” Australia coach Matthew Mott said. “We know we are in for a tough three months but players and staff are really dedicated and see this as really important opportunity for women’s cricket worldwide to get this series up and through the World Cup.”

“It’s not ideal. But every sporting team in the world would say that at the moment and it’s certainly no excuse. This is the moment where we click into cricket mode”

Matthew Mott on the team’s preparations

There have already been cases in both camps. One member of England support staff tested positive in Canberra, while Katie Mack and Molly Strano from the Australia A squad will miss the T20s against England A. Ellyse Perry‘s arrival was delayed but she will be available for the T20Is – whether she is selected is one of the fascinating early storylines.

Pre-series plans have largely been thrown away after the rejigging of the schedule, to start with the T20Is instead of the one-off Test. Mindsets have had to switch from the longest to the shortest format, although it’s a game the players are very familiar with. England were twice beaten by Australia’s A side as batters tried to hit their way into form and rhythm.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve started that well, to be totally honest,” England coach Lisa Keightley said. “We’re trying to get up to speed as best we can. I’m confident when we get to that first T20 they’ll be in a better place than what they are now.”
Australia, at least, are in their cricket season. But there has been precious little match time for most since the end of the WBBL, with the WNCL one-day competition barely getting started amid Covid, although Perry, Rachael Haynes and Nicola Carey all made hundreds in the matches that were possible. It is most problematic for the quicks who need to build up their workloads.

“Scattered,” Mott said when asked about preparations. “The English would probably say the same. It’s not ideal. But every sporting team in the world would say that at the moment and it’s certainly no excuse. This is the moment where we click into cricket mode. We’ve done a lot of workshopping, what can and can’t happen… I’m confident the group is resilient and adaptable enough to deal with whatever comes.”

England have not held the Ashes since their away victory in 2013-14. Given their depth and home advantage, Australia will start favourites. They were challenged by India earlier in the season and the eventual 11-5 margin was a little flattering, but it gave a chance to bring in a number of newer players with Jess Jonassen and Megan Schutt missing from the bowling attack.
Tahlia McGrath, Player of the Series against India, has added to Australia’s strength after returning to international cricket looking a complete allrounder. From a fringe player, she now demands inclusion and, though Beth Mooney’s broken jaw may have changed things in the short term, it will provide some interesting selection debates.
Australia’s growing list of quick bowlers is one thing that sets them apart. Darcie Brown and Tayla Vlaeminck are two of the fastest, while Stella Campbell, who took 7 for 25 in the WNCL recently, has only been able to make the Australia A squad. In that regard, it was a little surprising that Issy Wong did not make England’s main Ashes group. Although she only managed nine wickets in 13 WBBL matches for Sydney Thunder, her fast outswing often did not get the reward it deserved.
England do, however, have a strong squad of their own, led by Heather Knight, who will carry a lot of the batting expectations alongside Nat Sciver and Tammy Beaumont. With the ball left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone, who took a remarkable 7 for 14 in a warm-up match, will be crucial across all formats while Katherine Brunt, a warrior of an allrounder who may be playing her final Ashes, continues to lead the pace attack.
There is a new generation starting to make their mark as well. Sophia Dunkley had a breakout series against India, and offspinner Charlie Dean claimed ten wickets in five matches against New Zealand. In the England A squad, 17-year-old Alice Capsey may soon be pushing for higher honours.

But regardless of how the two sides match up, what happens in the middle will likely be only one part of the story of this Ashes.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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