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SA vs WI – T20 World Cup

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The South Africa players were “surprised and taken aback” by Quinton de Kock‘s refusal to take a knee and then withdraw from the fixture against West Indies, but don’t know why exactly de Kock is against the gesture in support of antiracism. De Kock is expected to release a statement explaining his stance in the coming days. And for now, South Africa captain Temba Bavuma wants the team to respect de Kock’s decision.
“As a team, we are surprised and taken aback by the news. Quinton is a big player for the team, not just with the bat, but from a senior point of view, so not having this at my disposal, as a captain, is obviously something I wasn’t looking forward to,” Bavuma said after South Africa’s win over West Indies. “In saying that, Quinton is an adult. He is a man in his own shoes. We respect his decision, we respect his convictions, and I know he will be standing behind the decision he has taken.”

Bavuma and his team received a directive from the CSA board at 9am Dubai time on Tuesday, five hours before they were due to take on West Indies, asking the players to collectively take a knee before every game. “Before getting on the bus to travel to Dubai, that message was passed on to the players,” Bavuma revealed.

During the “hour and a half to two hours’ trip from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, Quinton made his decision,” Bavuma said, adding that the team didn’t have time to find out why de Kock had withdrawn.

“I found out as the captain when I got to the changing room. There wasn’t a great deal of time for us to thoroughly discuss this matter. Unfortunately, it was a matter of us digesting what we’ve been told and finding a way to move forward.”

He described the match itself as “probably one of the toughest days I’ve had to deal with as a captain, as a leader of the team, for obvious reasons with the off-field matters”, but was relieved that the team got their T20 World Cup campaign back on track with an eight-wicket win. “Unfortunately, we had to get the job done. There was still a game of cricket for our country. It was important that as much as everything was happening we found a way to get into the right mental space and take it home for our country.”

“Each and everyone has their own opinions on it, but as I’ve always said, once you’re educated and you understand, we will understand you doing it, but I think education sort of is the key, and we don’t want anyone doing it for us in solitude or to feel sorry for us”

Kieron Pollard

Bavuma said players who are interested to know more about the decision from de Kock, might find out before South Africa’s next game, on Saturday against Sri Lanka. “We have a few days before the next game and I think those days will be tough for the group. Guys who want to know in terms of his decision, will use that time to find out a bit better,” Bavuma said. “Quinton is an adult. He made his decision. You have to respect it, whether you agree with it or not.

“As much as you have the choice to decide what you want to do, you can’t escape the consequences of the choices and decisions we make. If there are people out there who think certain people need more clarity, then the fans, the media, it’s best that you ask those guys directly. It becomes blurry when you are asking guys about other guys. If you are really wanting to get the clarity that you seem to want, you should probably ask those individuals themselves.”

Asked if the players were disappointed that one of the group could not make a “basic” gesture as taking a knee, Bavuma said the matter was more complex and hinted at differences within the team. “I don’t think it as simple as just taking a knee,” he said. “We have to appreciate that we live in a country like South Africa that has its own past, that is diverse in its views, diverse in the way people see things, and their backgrounds and decisions that we take, things that we support, are based on our own convictions.

“As much as we are a team, we wear the same shirt, we play for the same badge, outside of that we still live our own lives and those lives are different by the very nature that we live in South Africa. Over the last while, I have learnt to appreciate that a lot more, try to widen your own perspective as an individual and not expect people to see things the way you see things. My beliefs, the way that I see things, is shaped by my own background, and so is the other person’s. If there is a disagreement in terms of beliefs, in terms of views, that’s why we have those hard conversations. Through those conversations we will be able to get the comfort to accept the other person’s decision. I can’t force anyone to see things the way I do, neither can they force me to.”

But CSA has made it mandatory for the team to continue taking a knee ahead of each of the T20 World Cup games and reiterated that in their statement acknowledging de Kock’s refusal. That has made his participation in the rest of the tournament uncertain, although Bavuma could not confirm whether a replacement would be required.

“I don’t know how far it is going to develop,” he said. “The decision he has taken is only today so I can only speak about what has happened today. It wouldn’t be my decision whether to replace Quinton or get a substitute. That will most probably be the coach and the selectors.

“Quinton is still one of the players, one of the boys, whatever support he needs, whatever shoulder he requires from his team-mates, will be there for him. If there is a need for further conversations to be had, those will definitely happen.”

Bavuma has asked his players to remain focused on the tournament and their cricket, with three more crucial pool matches to go. “We have to keep focusing as much as we can on the team, particularly matters on the field. We will lose a lot of energy as players if we start giving 100% to everything being discussed outside of the team,” he said. “At the end of the day, you are going to judge us on how well we bowled a ball or how we hit a ball. I don’t think you will be looking at the fact that we were martyrs or we stood for whatever cause. Me, being the leader of the side at the moment, is to make sure our eye is on the ball.”

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, a CSA spokesperson explained that the board had not issued the directive before the tournament because it had been decided after seeing the team in their opener against Australia. “Having noted that a very small number of players had not taken the knee during South Africa’s opening match against the Australians, the board felt that it was important to take this position because the optics and the aesthetics of a team split between its players who take the knee and those who don’t were just not a good showing for unity in the team,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Kieron Pollard – de Kock’s team-mate at Mumbai Indians – was unaware as to why the South African had missed the match and called for education. “It’s something that we feel strongly about as a team and as a people, as well, and we will continue to do it,” Pollard said of the West Indians’ continued anti-racism stance. “Each and everyone has their own opinions on it, but as I’ve always said, once you’re educated and you understand, we will understand you doing it, but I think education sort of is the key, and we don’t want anyone doing it for us in solitude or to feel sorry for us.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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Womens Ashes 2022 – Tammy Beaumont wants England to ‘get over the line’ after encouraging start ends in defeat

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England opener described Australia allrounder Tahlia McGrath’s execution as “the difference between kicking onto like 180-190”

Tammy Beaumont has backed England to compete with Australia when the sides reconvene for back-to-back matches at the Adelaide Oval over the weekend to complete the T20I leg of their Ashes series. But despite a heavy defeat in the first T20I to start off the tour, she was keen to highlight the positives for England after the match – not least after the visitors’ senior side had lost both of their T20 warm-up matches to England A in the lead-up to Thursday’s series opener.
“We’ve come a long way in the space of less than a week,” Beaumont said. “There’s still a long way to go. We’ve got a lot more cricket to play, and I’m sure [we] will improve. We wanted to come out here and play the way we want to play T20 cricket, and to put 170 on the board was certainly the way we go about it. The way Danni Wyatt came out and really attacked – particularly the spinners down the ground – I thought was exceptional.

“We wanted to say that we’re going to come toe-to-toe with Australia, and I think they were surprised in the field. You saw some mistakes from them, so I think we started well but we’ve just got to try and get over the line.”

Beaumont admitted that there was little England’s batters could do in the face of Tahlia McGrath‘s excellent bowling, which not only removed two set batters – Wyatt and Sciver in a double-wicket over – at a crucial time but also accounted for No. 5 Amy Jones, caught for four at long-on by Grace Harris, who returned to the Australian line-up with Beth Mooney’s fractured jaw pushing captain Meg Lanning up the order to open and Ellyse Perry dropped primarily owing to a dwindling strike rate.

Australia’s depth wasn’t tested even after Sophie Ecclestone dismissed Alyssa Healy for just seven in the fourth over of their response thanks to McGrath and Lanning, the latter finishing on an unbeaten 64 off 44 balls. Ecclestone, the left-arm spinner who took a stunning 7 for 14 for England in a losing cause in one of the T20 warm-ups against England A, remains a huge weapon for the visitors, but the Australian line-up looked impenetrable in Adelaide on Thursday. As McGrath and Lanning turned up the pressure, cracks formed in England’s fielding and that was one area Beaumont said needed work.

“I’ve been part of heavier defeats in some ways,” Beaumont said. “Obviously they have got a nine-wicket win at the end of the day but to post 170 on a ground where the par in women’s cricket here is a lot lower is a massive positive. We started really well in the powerplay as well with the ball. We’ve got to tighten up some areas: we probably didn’t field well enough on our ground fielding, and maybe tighten up our lines a little bit and come back with some plans to try and get those two out.”

The hosts took the first two points of the seven-match multi-format contest with an emphatic victory in the opening game – thanks to McGrath’s three wickets and 91 not out, despite England setting themselves up well through an 82-run opening partnership between Beaumont and Wyatt, and another 59-run stand for the second wicket between Wyatt and Sciver. Wyatt had breathed new life into her international career with 89* in the third T20I against India in July and unbeaten 50-over scores of 63 and 43 during New Zealand’s visit to England in September. Her latest innings of 70 came off just 54 balls and included three glorious sixes, while Beaumont contributed 30 off 24.

But the margin of defeat and the fact that England’s bowlers had no answers as McGrath and Lanning put on an unbroken second-wicket union of 144 to see their side home with three overs to spare, is cause for concern. So too is the fact that – surviving McGrath’s pin-point yorker in a devastating double-wicket over aside – England couldn’t have done much more with the bat.

“We just need to build a bit of pressure, get a couple of dots an over, stop the boundary balls and then if they’ve got to get nine an over – which they did at one stage – they’re going to have to take more risks,” Beaumont said. “They played really well, took the right risks at the right time, but I’m not too worried about our bowling attack – it’s been brilliant for the last two, three years.”

“At the beginning of the day we would definitely have taken 170,” Beaumont said. “We just really wanted to get off to a good start and set the tone really well for our team. Credit to Tahlia McGrath, she bowled two brilliant yorkers there to get our two set batters out and that’s probably the difference between kicking onto like 180-190.”

Meanwhile, England face one injury concern going into the second match on Saturday after Maia Bouchier appeared to jar her right knee heavily as she attempted to stop a McGrath boundary and spent the rest of the match off the field with it strapped and packed in ice.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Depleted squad, travel worries ahead of knockouts

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If India find themselves with fewer than 11 fit players, their fixtures could be rescheduled as per tournament rules

Who are the unavailable players?
India captain Yash Dhull, vice-captain Shaik Rasheed, batter Siddarth Yadav (Rapid Antigen) and wicketkeeper Aaradhya Yadav (RT-PCR) returned positive results. Allrounder Manav Parakh and seam bowler Vasu Vats have shown symptoms of Covid-19.

How does this affect India’s last group-stage game against Uganda?
Having won their first two games against South Africa and Ireland, India are through to the quarter-final from Group B. Their final group game, at the same ground as the Ireland match, is against Uganda on Saturday, January 22.

The mandatory quarantine period for Covid-positive players is ten days, which means India will likely be forced to field the same XI from the last game. ​However, India do not have any substitute fielder or concussion sub available under the current circumstances.

…and what about their quarter-final game?
If favourites India win against Uganda, their quarter-final knockout fixture is on Saturday, January 29 and it could be against defending champions Bangladesh. But that game is on another island – Antigua and Barbuda – and only those who test negative will be allowed to fly out of Trinidad.

While the six players in quarantine are expected to complete their isolation period by then, they will have to present negative tests to get on the plane. Additionally, they will miss valuable team practice sessions, and it remains to be seen what their physical condition is at the end of the infection cycle.

What if more India players test positive?
ICC’s head of integrity Alex Marshall had stated before the competition that “merely registering a positive PCR test result within a team will not result in the automatic postponement or cancellation of fixtures.” So, as long as they have 11 players fit, India may have to fulfil their current scheduled fixtures.

But if they have less than 11 available, the tournament’s Event Technical Committee will look to postpone India’s fixtures or move their games to another venue – say, in Trinidad itself. This is stated in the competition’s playing conditions and the same rule applies to every team that may find themselves in such a situation.

While this allows the ICC to be flexible with the running of the U-19 World Cup, their decision will be subject to the games being scheduled within reason and without unreasonably affecting the other teams or the competition.

Were the BCCI prepared for such situations?
The BCCI had announced five reserve players – Rishit Reddy, Uday Saharan, Ansh Gosai, Amit Raj Upadhyay, PM Singh Rathore – before the competition, but ESPNcricinfo understands they did not travel to the Caribbean. If they are needed, they will have to fly out to the Caribbean and serve a quarantine period before they can be added to the squad.

The ICC limited the size for each contingent for the 2022 event to 27. In earlier editions, the touring contingent of a team could consist of 15 players and five support-staff personnel tops, but the global governing body, which takes care of costs for every squad, increased the overall strength of each team’s travelling party by seven to account for any pandemic-induced uncertainties. Teams, however, are required to carry at least five support staff.

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



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separate bio-bubbles, regular tests, dedicated hospital passages

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The PCB is set to host another season of the Pakistan Super League during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the first 15 games to be played in Karachi from January 27, and the remaining matches scheduled in Lahore, including the final on February 27. There are provisions in place to avoid a postponement even if a handful of players contract Covid-19 – the franchises have 20 players on their roster, with an additional pool of reserve players to provide cover in case of an outbreak.

ESPNcricinfo has obtained PSL’s Covid-19 protocol document, which details how the PCB will form its bio-bubble environment. The document broadly covers health and safety protocols that are being put in place at venues, and has a step-by-step guide to every stage of the tournament.

What will the PSL’s bio-secure bubble look like?
This season the PCB has replicated the biosecure bubble that was created by Restrata, an independent company that managed the environment during the rescheduled Abu Dhabi leg last season. The PCB will regulate the bubble itself, forming three distinct bubbles with different protocols.

The main bubble will comprise all teams, support staff, match officials, hotel staff and certain PCB officials. Vehicle drivers, close protection security staff, reserve players, bubble-integrity managers, anti-corruption officials and hotel staff will all reside within the bubble and are not allowed to leave. As per the guidelines, each franchise will be allotted rooms on a separate floor of the hotel and maximum possible efforts will be made to avoid interaction between teams at the hotel.

The second bubble will be created in a separate hotel and will include the TV production crew, key event management staff and essential hotel staff and drivers. The third bubble will comprise of groundstaff, who will be housed in dedicated biosecure accommodation.

Vigilance will be more stringent for the primary bubble. The bubbles cannot interact with each other and every individual will be required to follow general health and safety guidelines, as well as specific protocols to maintain the integrity of the bubble.

How often are teams going to be tested for Covid-19?
There will be as many as 17 tests starting on January 20 – the day teams are checking into the hotel. There is a mandatory three-day quarantine, followed by four days of training, before the tournament starts from January 27 in Karachi. The first three days of quarantine will have regular testing before everyone with two negative PCR results is allowed to enter the bubble. Every individual will then have a PCR test every second day.

What if an individual requires hospital treatment for an injury or illness?
The PCB has designated Agha Khan Hospital in Karachi and Hameed Latif Hospital in Lahore to handle all potential medical requirements of individuals involved in the PSL.

A medical passage will be established through which individuals requiring hospital visits for scans and/or consultations will be moved with minimal contact with others. Individuals will be provided a dedicated treatment room, sanitised passageways, PPE suits for all medical staff and will be taken around in a dedicated vehicle.

What happens in case of a positive test?
The individual(s) will be immediately separated from the rest of the squad and undergo a PCR test.

All close contacts (those who have had an interaction of longer than 15 minutes from less than two metres away in the previous 48 hours) will be isolated and tested. All casual contacts will also be isolated and tested immediately.

Once the case is confirmed as positive, the individual will isolate for a minimum of seven days and self-monitor their symptoms, providing updates to the Bio-bubble integrity manager. On day seven, if the individual is asymptomatic, they will have to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test and on returning a negative result, can be re-integrated into their bubble.

If symptoms persist on day seven, the isolation will continue till day 10. If the individual is asymptomatic on that day, there will be no need for an exit test to rejoin the bubble.

What happens if protocols and guidelines are breached?
With every team there will be a bio-bubble integrity manager policing the bubble. The offender may face a sanction ranging from reprimand to expulsion from the league. Penalties can be levied for minor or major breaches, from game bans to match-fee fines. The PCB can require any participant to quarantine in their hotel room in case of a breach, and undergo repeated testing.

How many fans will be permitted?
The PCB had originally announced full crowds for both the Karachi and Lahore legs. However, Pakistan’s National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) determines regulations surrounding Covid-19 restrictions, and with cases rising steeply in Pakistan over the past few weeks – particularly in Karachi – the NCOC announced that the Karachi leg would see a maximum of 25% crowd attendance. Lahore, for now, is still set to see full crowds. Spectators’ entry is subject to Covid-19 protocols – no one will be allowed to enter the venue without a valid vaccination certificate.

What is the PCB’s contingency plan for a Covid outbreak?
Each of the last two seasons, the PSL was played over two legs due to Covid outbreaks, but this season, the PCB has made contingency plans to try and ensure the PSL isn’t postponed or cancelled. The PSL management will instead reset the bubble and start over after seven days, recreating the bio-bubble from scratch. In case of outbreaks among franchises, matches can go ahead as long as there are 13 players available on each side. There will also be a reserve pool for franchises to pick players from. A PCB official confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that if the league were to be postponed for some reason, it would have to be cancelled altogether, since there will be no window to play the remaining games.

Could the entirety of the PSL be held in one city?
It would appear unlikely at present. ESPNcricinfo understands that all bookings and hotel confirmations have been finalised in both Karachi and Lahore, and there are at present no plans to change that.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent



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