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Match Preview – Namibia vs Scotland, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 21st Match, Group 2

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Scotland’s unbeaten run at this year’s World Cup came to a crashing halt against Afghanistan on Monday. Several dubious records were bagged on the way as they lost nine wickets to Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan, a signal that quality spin is an Achilles heel for this team.

Their first shot at leaving that performance firmly in the past will come on Wednesday against Namibia, the only other Associate team remaining in the World Cup. With three teams from the subcontinent in their group, and New Zealand to boot, both Scotland and Namibia will have earmarked this fixture as the place to pick up two sure points.

For Namibia, it is the first match of this stage, and a chance to get started with a win before any thoughts of upsetting the bigger teams later on. For Scotland, it’s a little more urgent than that. They were the most dominant side in the first round and starting with losses to the two teams they would consider closest to them in stature will sour what has already been a historic campaign.

The teams have already played each other twice this month before the World Cup began, and Scotland lost both those games. They’ll be looking to put a stop to that.

Form guide

Namibia WWLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)

Scotland LWWWL

In the spotlight

Gerhard Erasmus has already sealed his status as a Namibia great, as the captain who has led them to what will now be back-to-back T20 World Cups. His fifty against Ireland brought them into this stage of the tournament, and was described by Player-of-the-Match David Wiese as the more important of the two knocks that helped seal qualification for them. He’s been out cheaply against Scotland the last two times they’ve met, and will be looking to set the straight when it matters the most. Erasmus is Namibia’s top-scorer in this format and will be expected to set the tone on Wednesday
George Munsey has been looking like a man in form without yet making a big score. At the top of the order, Munsey has shown shades of his destructive best, and will be looking to go deeper in the innings as Scotland look to put behind their batting failure from earlier in the week. Munsey bats in what is the best phase in these conditions and Namibia will consider him one of the main threats.

Team news

Neither side is likely to change their XIs.

Namibia: (possible) 1 Zane Green (wk), 2 Craig Williams, 3 Gerhard Erasmus (capt), 4 David Wiese, 5 JJ Smit, 6 Jan Frylinck, 7 Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, 8 Pikky Ya France/Stephen Baard, 9 Ruben Trumpelmann, 10 Michael van Lingen, 11 Bernard Scholtz

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

Pitch and conditions

The forecast has Abu Dhabi’s temperature hovering about 30 degree celsius during the start of this evening fixture, among the coolest evenings in the tournament so far. It’s a pitch that’s shown assistance for fast bowling as well recently, but evening fixtures have generally taken the pitch out of the equation at this venue, with dew being a much bigger factor. Four of the last five wins have been for the team batting second. It is, however, among the friendlier venues for bowlers in this format due to the long boundaries.

Stats and trivia

  • Safyaan Sharif is set to play his 50th game for Scotland. He is their top wicket-taker in T20Is with 57, 30 of which have come in the UAE in 22 innings
  • With seven sixes, Wiese is currently tied at the top with Evin Lewis for most sixes in the tournament
  • Quotes

    “Financially we weren’t where we wanted to be, but as a team we weren’t really performing. And to think of tournaments like qualifying tournaments, we tend to just fall away at the end. We knew we really had to turn around, and it’s really been an effort to do that. It had to be some great role play within Cricket Namibia – from the coaching staff to the board members to the administration itself – that have followed to buy into one vision and go some way. And now we sort of I guess at the peak and reaping those rewards which is great. And hopefully continue going upwards.”

    Gerhard Erasmus reflects on Namibia’s journey before a big day

    “Namibia are a very good team. I actually said before the Cup started that I expected them to go through. I’m kind of pleased that they did. They’ve got everything covered – they’ve got experience, they’ve got a really good fielding unit and very tidy bowling. So we know enough about them, we’ve played against them three or four times in the last, maybe three years now. There’s no real surprises but at the same time we do expect to go out there and win.”

    Scotland’s Matthew Cross on their equation with Namibia

    Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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    Recent Match Report – AUS Women vs ENG Women Only Test 2021/22

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    Report

    Megan Schutt is not part of the Australia line-up in Canberra

    England won the toss and decided to bowl against Australia

    Heather Knight gave her bowlers the chance to find some early help from the Canberra surface after putting Australia into bat in the one-off Ashes Test with both sides fielding a debutant.

    Legspinner Alana King came into the Australia side and is part of an attack that does not feature the experienced Megan Schutt who is being carefully managed ahead of the ODI World Cup. Darcie Brown, Annabel Sutherland, Tahlia McGrath and Ellyse Perry are the pace-bowling options.

    Schutt contracted Covid-19 late last year which has affected her conditioning and the selectors have an eye on the World Cup next month, but a CA spokesperson said she was medically fit for selection.

    In an interesting batting-order tweak, captain Meg Lanning was listed at No. 5 with Beth Mooney, playing just 10 days after fracturing her jaw, due to come in at No. 3.

    England have handed a first cap to offspinner Charlie Dean in a side with five specialist bowlers which was flagged yesterday by Knight. She will support left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone while the experienced trio of Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole and Kate Cross make up the pace attack alongside allrounder Nat Sciver.

    The opening day is set fair although there is the forecast of some storms over the weekend. The Test carries four points in the multi-format series – if Australia win they will retain the Ashes.

    Australia 1 Rachael Haynes, 2 Alyssa Healy (wk), 3 Beth Mooney, 4 Ellyse Perry, 5 Meg Lanning (capt), 6 Tahlia McGrath, 7 Ashleigh Gardner, 8 Annabel Sutherland, 9 Jess Jonassen, 10 Alana King, 11 Darcie Brown

    England 1 Tammy Beaumont, 2 Lauren Winfield-Hill, 3 Heather Knight (capt), 4 Nat Sciver, 5 Sophia Dunkley, 6 Amy Jones (wk), 7 Katherine Brunt, 8 Charlie Dean, 9 Anya Shrubsole, 10 Sophie Ecclestone, 11 Kate Cross

    Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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    West Indies tour of India

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    Bonner, Bravo and King strengthen batting for India tour after shock Ireland defeat

    Desmond Haynes has marked his first squad since replacing Roger Harper as West Indies’ lead selector by handing Kemar Roach an ODI recall after two-and-a-half years out of the side for February’s series in India.

    Roach is one of six additions to the squad that lost 2-1 at home to Ireland this month, with Roston Chase and Justin Greaves among the players dropping out of the squad after lean series with the bat.

    Fabian Allen has recovered from Covid-19 and replaces Gudakesh Motie in the 15-man squad, while Nkrumah Bonner, Darren Bravo and Brandon King strengthen the batting group and Hayden Walsh Jr offers an extra spin option. Jayden Seales and Devon Thomas, neither of whom featured against Ireland, also lose their places.
    Roach has not played any white-ball cricket – either List A or T20 – since his most recent ODI, against India in 2019 but Haynes said that he had been recalled with an eye on early wickets.

    “Kemar Roach is one of our leading fast bowlers,” Haynes said, “and we believe we need bowlers up front to get early wickets. Kemar, with an economy rate of five, is certainly good enough to play.”

    The three-match ODI series, which will be played in Ahmedabad on February 6, 9 and 11, is part of the ODI Super League which forms the pathway for the 2023 World Cup, which is scheduled in India in October-November next year.

    After the shock series defeat against Ireland, which preceded the ongoing T20I series against England, West Indies captain Kieron Pollard had underlined that his team had a “batting problem”. Having successfully defended 269 in the first ODI against Ireland, West Indies struggled in the final two matches, scoring 229 and 212.

    Greaves struggled in all three matches and has now been replaced by Bonner, who made his ODI debut in Bangladesh series last year. Haynes said that Bonner had come on “leaps and bounds” in recent years and that he deserves “an opportunity to play in the 50-over format” and stressed his desire for competition for places ahead of the 2023 World Cup in India.

    “We want to have competition for places,” he said. “We want to reach a stage where we have a lot of players fighting for positions. We want to broaden the pool of players we have to choose from. The team we have selected is a very good side and we are looking at this tour as part of the preparations for the World Cup in India in 2023.”

    While the India tour also comprises three T20s, which will be played in Kolkata on February 16, 18 and 20, Haynes’ panel has opted to wait for the England series to finish before picking the squad.

    West Indies ODI squad: Kieron Pollard (captain), Fabian Allen, Nkrumah Bonner, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Hayden Walsh Jr



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    England players deserve medals, not criticism after getting through Ashes series

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    Paul Collingwood believes that the Ashes were “one step too far” and that he is genuinely concerned about the long-term implications on the mental health of players that Covid bubbles are causing.

    Speaking in Barbados, where he is standing in for Chris Silverwood as head coach during England’s T20I series against West Indies, and on the island where he became England’s first ever World Cup-winning captain, Collingwood spoke explicitly on the realities of life in the bubble, and fears that the long-term impact of the pandemic on cricketers may be severely damaging.

    “I don’t think people have understood the impact and the effects that these bubbles have had,” Collingwood said. “Going to the Ashes off the back of a tough bubble in Dubai, I think was literally one step too far.

    “You can’t even explain what it’s like until you experience it. The simple fact is you cannot walk out of your front door and as soon as you’re told that you cannot do something as simple as going for a coffee, and you are penned in with the same guys. A lot of people will say ‘that must be fun’ and ‘you’ve got a lovely hotel’ [but] it hits you.

    “Take someone like Chris Woakes, the most loveable and down-to-earth guy. I have seen him in some serious mental states. We have seen Ben Stokes, someone we consider to be the most mentally tough cricketer in the world, being hit by this. I just hope there are no ramifications moving forward because when they come, they won’t be obvious next week or the week after. These are things that might come out down the line. That’s what scares me.”

    The England players underwent strict quarantine on the Gold Coast, and managed only two full days of match practice going into the first Test in Brisbane. Rory Burns’ golden duck set the tone for a dismal series as England were bowled out for 147 on the first day and went on to lose 4-0, hanging on for a draw in Sydney while nine wickets down.

    Despite England’s hammering, Collingwood stressed that England were facing an impossible task. “I reckon if you had given us the best England cricketers in the Ashes from the last 100 years and put them in the same environment that those boys have lived in over the past two years with the preparation that we had going into this Ashes even they wouldn’t have had a chance,” he said.

    Collingwood was part of the England squad that won the 2010-11 Ashes down under and understands precisely the physical and mental levels required to compete in Australia. He retired from international cricket after that winter and since then, England have failed to win a Test match in Australia, across 15 attempts.

    Collingwood was part of a group alongside Silverwood, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Woakes and Mark Wood that spent six weeks in a bubble in the UAE, before flying to Australia for their quarantine period on the Gold Coast and insisted that the lack of meaningful preparation only compounded the situation.

    And while he admitted that England made mistakes at the toss and in selection, he said that players should be praised for the efforts they had made in getting through the series in a strict environment, suggesting that Cricket Australia should have agreed to a compromise rather than packing five Tests into a short window during the pandemic.

    “You are burnt out from the start after your team has been in the intense environment of a World Cup,” he said. “It wasn’t club cricket that these players were coming from. Then there’s just two days of preparation before going into the Ashes. Australia is the hardest place to go to when you’ve got your best team in form and everyone’s playing consistently. We’ve seen that from the past.

    “Yes, we made mistakes, 100%. We made selection mistakes, we made toss mistakes, but the fact we actually turned up and agreed to a five-match Ashes series, the guys should be given medals for that. It would’ve been much better if we’d done two matches and then three next year. That would’ve been a great compromise.

    “But no, Australia were not bothered that they were going to receive an England team who were mentally fatigued, they just wanted to get the product out there. They just wanted the Ashes. These guys deserve medals, not criticism. They should be told ‘well done’ for even going. It’s the equivalent of the England football team being asked to go to a World Cup, then from that bubble into the Euros. Would you expect a performance from that scenario? It’s ludicrous.”

    Ahead of another hectic schedule for England in 2022, which includes tours to West Indies, Netherlands, Pakistan and Australia, as well as a jam-packed home summer and another T20 World Cup in October, Collingwood hopes that at least in England, they can operate without bubbles, but fears that the damage may already have been done – not just for England players but also for cricketers around the world.

    “I almost think it is too late to get these messages across,” he said. “These sorts of things should have been brought out in the middle of last summer. We saw the signs then when boys were fading, and it is not healthy for the game. This isn’t just us. We have obviously played the most amount of cricket, but it will catch up with other teams as well.”

    Aadam Patel is a freelance sports reporter who has written for BBC Sport, the Daily Mail, ESPNcricinfo, the Cricketer and other publications @aadamp9



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