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Recent Match Report – Tasmania vs Queensland 2nd Match 2021/22




Tim Ward made 81 and nightwatchman Lawrence Neil-Smith made 71 not out from 201 deliveries

Tasmania 6 for 500 dec and 3 for 196 (Ward 81, Neil-Smith 71*) drew with Queensland 5 for 355 dec (Street 143, Peirson 106*)

Tim Ward and Lawrence Neil-Smith posted half-centuries as Tasmania batted out the final day for a draw against Queensland despite the Bulls’ invitation to try and force a result with a sporting declaration on the third afternoon.

Tasmania began the day at 1 for 59, with a lead of 204 and 96 overs available to set up a fourth-innings run chase on another benign Karen Rolton Oval pitch in Adelaide. But the Tigers showed little to no intent to try and set a target with nightwatchman Neil-Smith failing to score from his first 35 deliveries on day four to be 1 from 61 balls at one stage before going on to make 71 not out from 201 deliveries. Ward fell for 81 just after lunch.

Queensland captain Usman Khawaja said he was “a little bit disappointed” with the approach of Tasmania.

“We declared hoping they’d set us a chase, and then try to chase it,” Khawaja said. “It was always going to be hard to get lots of wickets on that [pitch] so it had to be a sporting declaration and get them to set us a total and us try to chase it down.

“That was the only way there was going to be any result. But they obviously didn’t want to play that way.”

“They batted for a session too long…they could have pushed the game more on day two expecting them to declare around lunch, that’s when you normally declare. But that was just their game plan. I guess they were happy to get first innings [bonus] points and that’s what it was.”

Ward said: “We knew it was going to be tough to take 10 wickets and the decision was made just to go out there and keep batting and make sure we didn’t lose this one.”

Ward, coming off a superb 144 in the first innings, played fluently compared to Neil-Smith reaching a brisk half-century and moved to lunch on 80 not out, within sight of twin centuries in just his second Sheffield Shield match.

But the break did him no favours, with Matthew Kuhnemann producing a stunning delivery in the second over after lunch to remove him for 81. A shorter-length ball ripped out of the footmarks and forced Ward to chop onto his stumps.

Charlie Wakim then followed Neil-Smith’s lead making 3 for 61 deliveries before becoming Kuhnemann’s third victim of the innings. Neil-Smith reached his maiden first-class half-century before the game was called off after Khawaja and Joe Burns each delivered an over to put an exclamation point on another high-scoring three-innings draw in Adelaide to start the Sheffield Shield season.
AAP contributed to this report

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Sri Lanka’s Bhanuka Rajapaksha withdraws resignation from international cricket




Rajapaksa had cited “familial obligations” as a key reason behind his resignation in the first week of January

A little over a week after announcing his retirement from international cricket, Sri Lanka batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa has withdrawn his resignation and proclaimed his desire to represent the country for “years to come”. His decision comes after his meeting with Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa.

“Pursuant to a meeting with the Hon. Namal Rajapaksa – Minister of Youth & Sports and after consulting with the national selectors, Bhanuka Rajapaksa has notified SLC that he wishes to withdraw his resignation which he tendered to SLC on 3rd Jan. 2022, with immediate effect,” an SLC media release stated. “In his letter to SLC withdrawing his resignation, he further states that he wishes to represent his country in the game he loves for the years to come.”

In a recent media release, the Sports Minister had warned the 30-year-old batter against coming to hasty decisions but also asked Rajapaksha to come forward and express his grievances if there are any.

While Rajapaksha had cited “familial obligations” as a key reason behind his resignation, there was speculation that his decision to resign was prompted by the new fitness requirements.

Having fallen out with then head coach Mickey Arthur over his lack of fitness last year, Rajapaksa worked on his fitness and fielding and found his way back into the national side, where he and Arthur eventually patched up their relationship. This month, SLC announced tougher fitness benchmarks starting from 2022.

Rajapaksha’s resignation, which had also come alongside similar announcements from Angelo Perera and Danushka Gunathilaka (only from Test cricket), had prompted SLC to put out new guidelines for players choosing to retire from international cricket. It was understood that among the reasons behind the updated guidelines were concerns that several players may potentially be considering their international futures, especially in the context of new mandatory fitness requirements and the fact that franchise cricket tends to be more lucrative.

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U-19 World Cup 2022 – Connor Connolly




The squad met just once before flying to the Caribbean but the captain feels it has been coming together nicely

Australia’s Under-19 squad only came together shortly before flying to the Caribbean, and despite a heavy defeat in their warm-up match against India, the confidence of captain Cooper Connolly has not been dented.

Connolly is embarking on his second Under-19 World Cup, having played as a 16-year-old in South Africa two years ago. Just weeks after that tournament finished, the pandemic swept the world and, from a cricket point of view, age-group competitions were severely hit – Australia have not had any Under-19 fixtures since then. Ongoing border restrictions meant plans to have the squad all in one place before the tournament did not happen either.

However, that hasn’t stopped Connolly from trying to establish himself among the most highly regarded young players in the country; he has found a place in the Perth Scorchers squad too. And although Australia were heavily beaten by India, Connolly stood out with 117 off 125 balls.

“Yesterday was a reality check for us against one of the stronger sides and maybe the favourite,” he said. “But I feel like we are in good shape for the first game.”

Two years ago, he played twice and ended on a good note with 64 off 53 balls against West Indies, the hosts of the 2022 edition and Australia’s first opponents. Connolly is taking his experiences of that event, which was captained by Mackenzie Harvey, into this tournament and hoping to lead from the front.

“From that one I can take [the lesson of] not stressing out too much about playing and just trying to be myself in the nets,” he said. “I was getting really stressed out and agitated but I feel from that World Cup, from Macca [Harvey], I can take his coolness and his ability to win games by his captaincy.

“From the last World Cup [my aim] was to just make this, I just looked forward to the opportunity I might get to play in two, then to get the captaincy and that’s unbelievable”

Connor Connolly

“Back then I was a little, small 16-year-old that everyone didn’t really know, and since then [with] my mindset and power I feel like I’ve developed a lot over the last couple years working with Clint Heron my batting coach just to improve every area.

“From the last World Cup [my aim] was to just make this, I just looked forward to the opportunity I might get to play in two, then to get the captaincy and that’s unbelievable. I’m so proud of myself, mum and dad back home are really proud, I’m just ready to go and lead my country.”

Meeting your new team-mates just before you fly to a global tournament is a strange experience, but Connolly believes the squad has been coming together. “Obviously it’s pretty tough, we don’t know what each other is like, but feel like over the past week we’ve grown and go to know each other,” he said.

Connolly picked out Australia’s strengths as their batting and spin bowling, the latter including ambidextrous Nivethan Radhakrishnan, but also backed the quicks to make early inroads.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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U-19 Men’s T20 World Cup




Allardice says it’s “a balance between the risk of catching the virus versus the freedom that young people are going to be looking for”

Despite Covid-19 causing disruptions in international cricket as recently as this week – with the T20I series between West Indies and Ireland in Jamaica being called off and two ODIs being rescheduled – ICC CEO Geoff Allardice has said that the bio-bubble at the Under-19 World Cup starting January 14 in the West Indies will not be a strict one.

Allardice instead used the phrase “managed-event environment” to describe the precautions in place from the ICC for the smooth conduct of the event after considering the young age of the participating players and from lessons learnt from the Men’s T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman last year.

He said that the ICC’s main challenge will be to juggle keeping players safe while also providing them with an experience to cherish, which would not have been possible in stricter environments. Given the lengthy nature of the tournament – 23 days of competition in addition to the pre-tournament quarantine requirements and warm-up games – Allardice said that it was important for ICC to make the tournament “memorable” for players from all 16 countries.

One strategic decision to mitigate the concerns of Covid-19 infections possibly ravaging the tournament is the ICC’s choice to host the event across four islands in the West Indies, namely Antigua, Guyana, St Kitts, and Trinidad and Tobago. This strategy is vastly different from the main competition of the T20 World Cup last year, which was held between three cities that were close to each other in the UAE.

This plan will allow the ICC to move games to one of the other three venues and complete the tournament in case infection cases rise in any one location. “It’s a balance between the risk of catching and passing on the virus versus the freedom that young people are going to be looking for and allow them to enjoy the experience of being involved in an Under-19 World Cup as well,” Allardice said on Thursday. “I think the management of that environment over the next few weeks is probably the challenge and being able to react to whatever gets thrown our way.”

Another way the ICC has looked to protect their players is to ensure they play their group-stage games in quick succession rather than over a long period.

“We are following a similar model to the Men’s T20 World Cup in the way that we manage the type of accommodation that we are using and the [Covid] testing frequency,” Allardice said. “They play their matches at a reasonable frequency. So you go to the cricket ground, you play your match, you go back to the hotel accommodation, recover, and then a day or two later, you are back again.”

At the Men’s T20 World Cup last year, the ICC had kept a 24×7 mental-health and wellness service around for the players to use to deal with the complications of staying in a strict bio-bubble. As part of ICC’s “managed-event environment” plans, the same processes will be in place for the teenagers taking part in the West Indies too.

With the majority of players vaccinated, Allardice said that the risk of illness is going to be low, but said that the ICC remained committed to completing the 14th edition of the Under-19 World Cup while making sure that the players compete in a “positive environment.”

The tournament will kick off in Guyana with hosts West Indies taking on Australia in Providence on Friday, with a concurrent second game between Sri Lanka and Scotland taking place in Georgetown.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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