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Men’s T20 World Cup 2021

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Josh Hazlewood has made a compelling case for inclusion while two frontline spinners appear likely

Vice-captain Pat Cummins accepts there’s a chance he may not always find a place in Australia’s starting XI during the T20 World Cup with questions remaining over how they will balance their side ahead of their opening match against South Africa.

When Australia went to No. 1 in the T20I rankings in 2020, their success had been based around an attack of five specialist bowlers – a structure head coach Justin Langer has been a supporter of since his days at Perth Scorchers – but they have switched between that and an extra allrounder during this year.

Australia have not had their first-choice team together for their last four series, during which they have won just five and lost 13 matches.

Hazlewood did not play either of the warm-up matches but should have a strong case to start the tournament while Starc is a certain inclusion. If Australia continued with the two frontline spinners in Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar it will create a squeeze for pace-bowling positions.

“We have six, seven, eight guys right at the top of their game in our squad from a bowling point of view, so I’m sure that will be worked out,” Cummins said. “The conversation around our T20 side in the last little bit has been around whether we play the five bowlers or we play four and rely on the allrounders. We’ll see how it plays, it might change from game to game.

“There’s a possibility for anyone [to miss out], it’s a World Cup, [it’s] what is best for the team. I want to play so we’ll see what happens…someone is going to miss out.

“We made it really clear it’s a squad mentality. I know in 2015 [the ODI World Cup] I felt I could still give a lot even when I wasn’t in the XI. We are trying to instill that in everyone. There might be four quicks trying to fit into two or three [spots] but it’s five [group] games so you still might get a chance.”

Cummins is one of the Australia players coming into the tournament off precious little cricket, having also delayed his arrival to the UAE by a few days due to the birth of his first child. The warm-up game against India was his first outing since the India leg of IPL 2021 was suspended in April.

“We knew match practice was going to be tough in the current climate so before I came I did quite a few centre-wicket practices with New South Wales,” he said. “I was going flat-out for the last month knowing we might not get a heap of game time before the World Cup starts. I feel really good.”

Cummins said he expected pace-off options for the quicks to be an important weapon during the tournament but was also wary that dew could play a part in the night matches.

Australia’s warm-up results have been a tight win over New Zealand and a heavy defeat to India. They do not go into the tournament as one of the fancied teams as they seek to win the T20 World Cup for the first time, and there are concerns over the form of David Warner.

“You look around the room and we have some of the best players in the world,” Cummins said. “Everyone is fit, everyone is ready to go. Within the camp there’s a real confidence.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Recent Match Report – Strikers vs Thunder Knockout 2021/22

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Team’s remarkable march towards an unlikely title continued as they beat Thunder by six runs

Adelaide Strikers 6 for 184 (Cockbain 65, Short 39, T Sangha 2-15, Sandhu 2-40) beat Sydney Thunder 6 for 178 (J Sangha 61, Ross 56, Conway 2-33, Siddle 2-41) by six runs

Harry Conway bowled a superb final over as Adelaide Strikers’ remarkable late season revival and march towards an unlikely BBL title continued after knocking out Sydney Thunder by six runs in a thriller at the MCG.
With Thunder needing 14 runs off the last over, Conway held his nerve and dismissed Alex Ross (56) and Ben Cutting with successive deliveries as Strikers claimed their sixth straight victory.

Strikers, who had been bottom two for much of the regular season, play two-time defending champion Sydney Sixers on Wednesday at the SCG with the winner to book a spot in Friday’s final against Perth Scorchers at Marvel Stadium.

It was heartbreak for Thunder, who finished third in the regular season and looked on track to chase down Strikers’ 6 for 184 only to fall short.

Conway and Siddle star under pressure

In-form Strikers had beaten Hobart Hurricanes in a sudden-death final on Friday but this proved much more difficult against Thunder’s imposing batting order. For the first time since he departed late in the season, star spinner Rashid Khan was desperately missed with his replacement Fawad Ahmed wicketless.

Strikers appeared to have no answers to Ross and Jason Sangha (61), who got Thunder within 39 runs before ageless Peter Siddle inspired a comeback in the 17th over. He removed Sangha and then Daniel Sams to thwart Thunder, who hit back thanks to some lusty blows from Cutting.

It came down to the final over delivered by Conway, who was under pressure when Ross hit a boundary off the third ball. But Conway proved the hero to conjure a famous Strikers victory as their stunning resurgence continued.

Thunder fall short amid contentious Khawaja dismissal

For chunks of the season, especially when they peeled off a six-match winning streak, Thunder looked like genuine title contenders so they will be frustrated to fall at this hurdle.

Even though they lost Alex Hales in the third over, Thunder remained on course with their hopes largely resting on captain Usman Khawaja and Sangha, who hit three gorgeous boundaries in his first five deliveries.

But the match turned in the seventh over when Khawaja sliced to a forward diving Fawad at short third man with the fielder claiming the catch. Replays appeared to show the ball hitting some turf before going into Fawad’s fingers but the third umpire believed there was not enough evidence to overturn the soft signal.

A stunned Khawaja trudged back and a shaken Thunder had to regroup quickly. They did exactly that with Sangha and Ross, who found form after two successive ducks, expertly working the ball around the MCG’s vast expanses. But it wasn’t enough.

Cockbain overshadows Test stars

It seemed like déjà vu for Strikers who were following their successful formula against Hurricanes after electing to bat. Alex Carey and Matthew Short appeared set to replicate their match-winning century partnership last start as they once again got off to a flier.

Carey was in a belligerent mood but his dismissal on 23 halted Strikers as Short departed then so too Travis Head, who has mustered just eight runs across two games since his return from his outstanding Ashes.

Strikers were in danger of falling away but No. 3 Ian Cockbain steadied the ship with a superb 38-ball 65 to again prove why the 34-year-old has been the find of this BBL season after recently being plucked out of suburban cricket in Melbourne.

He couldn’t quite be there at the death but his innings proved vital and lifted Strikers to a total that was just enough.

Sams’ blinder brightens ragged Thunder

Sams has enjoyed another stellar season but things were unravelling for him early at the MCG. He came on during the four-over powerplay only to be belted for 19 runs and worse was to follow when he dropped big-hitter Short on 15 after misjudging a skier.

But a seething Sams made up for all of that with a blinder to dismiss Carey, where he leapt backwards on the midwicket boundary to pull off one of the best catches of the tournament.

It sparked Thunder as frontline spinner Tanveer Sangha (4-0-15-2) tied down Strikers in the middle overs with skiddy bowling to change the momentum. But an otherwise ragged Thunder couldn’t finish the job with their seamers struggling and sloppy fielding undoing Sangha’s earlier brilliance.

It would eventually prove costly.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth



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ICC annual awards for 2021

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Zeeshan Maqsood, Andrea-Mae Zepeda, Janneman Malan and Fatima Sana among the other winners

Rizwan, who also won the PCB’s Most Valuable Cricketer of the Year award recently following a stellar year, scored 1326 runs in 29 T20Is at an average of 73.66 and a strike rate of 134.89. He also effected 22 dismissals behind the stumps in the format.
At the Men’s T20 World Cup, where Pakistan lost in the semi-finals, Rizwan finished as the third-highest run-getter with 281 runs in six matches. In 2021, Rizwan also became the first batter to touch the 1000-run mark in a calendar year in T20Is, and the 2000-run mark in T20s.

“I want to thank all my team-mates and coaching staff who helped me throughout the year by preparing and training me well enough to contribute to Pakistan’s successes,” Rizwan said in an ICC statement. “As cricket is a team sport, I would like to dedicate this award to my team-mates and fans.”

As for Beaumont, the England opener notched up 303 runs in nine T20Is at an average of 33.66 in 2021, with three half-centuries. She was England’s highest run-getter in the year in the format, and was also the third-highest scorer overall. Against New Zealand away from home, she was named the Player of the Series for her contribution of 102 runs in three matches.

She also hit 97 against New Zealand, at home, to help England post their highest T20I total of 184 for 4 in 2021. Beaumont claimed the Player-of-the-Series award then too.

“It’s a huge privilege to win the ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year Award,” Beaumont said. “I’ve worked incredibly hard on my T20 game in the last few years. My T20I career has had its ups and downs and I don’t think I’ve always been known for my T20 abilities, so this award gives me a huge amount of confidence.

“As a team we had a great year in terms of T20I results and it feels great to have contributed to team wins. We’ve got a big year ahead in all formats – with the Ashes, the ICC Women’s World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, and I look forward to continuing to work hard alongside my teammates to help us win as many games as possible.”

Oman’s captain Zeeshan Maqsood, meanwhile, was named the ICC Men’s Associate Cricketer of the Year. Maqsood, who bats in the middle-order and bowls left-arm spin, scored a total of 316 runs at 31.60 and picked up 21 wickets at 18.80 across 13 limited-overs matches in 2021.
Maqsood scored valuable fifties against USA and Namibia in ODIs this year. He was especially impressive against PNG, taking four wickets against them twice last year, once in an ODI and the other time at the T20 World Cup.
The Women’s Associate Cricketer of the Year award has gone to Austria’s Andrea-Mae Zepeda. In 2021, she scored 361 runs in eight T20Is at 51.57 with a strike rate of 102.55. Zepeda was outstanding in the series against Belgium, where she scored a hundred and two fifties in three T20Is. In the first T20I, she hit 101 off 63 balls and shared 111 runs with Busra Uca to guide Austria to a big 197 for 2. Her knock at the top included 17 fours.
South Africa’s Janneman Malan has been named the ICC Emerging Men’s Cricketer of the Year. He accumulated 715 runs in 17 international matches at 47.66 through the year, including two centuries and three fifties.
Having made his T20I debut in 2019 and in ODIs in 2020, Malan’s most noteworthy performance came when he scored an unbeaten 177 – the fourth-highest score by a South African in ODIs – against Ireland in Dublin in July. He followed that up with another hundred against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Pakistan’s Fatima Sana, a seam-bowling allrounder, was named ICC Women’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year. Sana, 20, claimed 24 wickets and scored 165 runs in 16 games across ODI and T20I cricket in 2021.
Apart from playing West Indies at home, she also toured South Africa and the West Indies, and played the Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. Her most eye-catching performance came in an ODI in Antigua in July, when she hit an unbeaten 28 off 19 and then took her maiden international five-wicket haul to help Pakistan to a win.



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Womens Ashes Test 2021-22 Australia vs England

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Australia batter back in the nets less than a week after surgery, with coach Mott declaring her a chance for Thursday’s Test

Australia batter Beth Mooney has a chance to play in the women’s Ashes Test match on Thursday in Canberra despite having undergone surgery on a fractured jaw last week.
Mooney missed the three T20Is in Adelaide, although two of them were washed out, after fracturing her jaw while batting in the nets last Monday. But Mooney returned to the nets on Sunday facing some throwdowns and ran some laps before rain enveloped Adelaide Oval.
Australia coach Matthew Mott told Channel Seven that Mooney has a chance to play in the Canberra Test.

“She was hitting out the back with Peter Clarke our sports psych, she’s in good nick,” Mott said. “We’ll certainly look at her for the Test match. All the indications are looking very positive. She’s been up and about. She’s a warrior. She’s tough. We can’t wait to have her back in our group. But she’s going ok.”

Her team-mate Rachael Haynes said the players were stunned at Mooney’s recovery.

“It’s pretty incredible, to be honest,” Haynes said. “It’s been really nice to see how much she’s progressed. Even little things over the last couple of days, the swelling around her face has gone down quite substantially and just having a bit of a chat with her and checking in and seeing how she’s been going, she’s feeling really confident.

“She had a hit today in the net and also a run around and by all accounts, she’s not in any pain or anything like that. So I think it’s just about her stepping through those little markers that she needs to get through and without a doubt, she’s definitely got her eye on that Test match in Canberra.”

Mooney opened in Australia’s last Test against India earlier this summer alongside Alyssa Healy but there is a squeeze for places at the top of the order with Haynes returning to the side after missing the India Test with a hamstring injury.

Haynes has opened in five of her nine Test innings, however, she has only reached 30 three times in Tests and all three have come batting in the middle order – that includes scores of 98 and 87 in previous Ashes Tests at No.7 and No.5. But Haynes is preparing to bat at the top as well.

“Obviously, that’s a conversation probably for Meg and Motty to have,” Haynes said. “I’ve certainly been preparing like I will bat in the top order, facing plenty of the new ball, and those sorts of things in preparation for the Test match. But as I’ve said in the past, I’m happy to bat wherever they need me to. I’ve prepared for that knowing that I could end up in the middle but I’m definitely preparing to open at this stage.”

Campbell was left out of Australia’s Ashes squad but is part of the Australia A squad and took 7 for 25 for NSW in a recent WNCL match against ACT at Manuka Oval.

“Having watched first-hand the damage she did against ACT and just the wicket as well and [it] had a little bit more bounce and carry in it than perhaps what we’ve seen in the past,” Haynes said. “I think she’d definitely be coming into calculation. She obviously debuted earlier on in the summer as well. And I think particularly in red-ball cricket, where your ability to take wickets is, obviously, fundamental to winning Test matches. No doubt they’ll be sitting down and having a bit of a discussion on who they think the best makeup is for our side to be able to take 20 wickets because that’s ultimately what we’re going to look to do. We do want to be positive and try and win this Test match.”

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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