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Eng vs Ban, T20 World Cup 2021

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Buttler says England could even shuffle the batting order by promoting Dawid Malan or Moeen Ali

You’re an international captain walking out to the field hoping to limit the damage against two of the world’s most destructive T20 openers: Jason Roy is on strike, with Jos Buttler at the bowler’s end. Who do you throw the ball to?

Increasingly, captains are settling on the same answer: a left-arm spinner. Roy and Buttler have opened together in 12 T20Is in the last 18 months and teams have opened the bowling with slow left-arm spin in seven of those innings, looking to turn the ball away from the outside edge and denying them pace on the ball in the powerplay.

“We prepare specifically for the opposition and also for the conditions we face,” Buttler said on Tuesday ahead of England’s optional training session at the ICC Academy in Dubai. “I think spin is obviously going to play a huge part in this tournament, and of course Bangladesh have a couple of left-arm spinners, so we’ve been practising against that lots in the nets and trying to get some plans in place.

“I think it’s something we’ll see throughout this tournament, spin playing a prevalent part of the powerplay. Of course the challenge is the ball spinning away from the bat – it’s a good match-up in T20 cricket. Obviously with the new ball, some can skid on with the angle, and potentially there may be a little bit of spin as well.”

Both batters have worked hard on their method against left-arm spin – particularly Roy, who displayed his range by thumping Hosein over extra cover for six on Saturday night – and their strike rates facing it in the first six overs are almost identical. Buttler’s is 136.13 (in all T20s since the last World Cup), a shade below Roy’s 136.32; the difference is that Buttler has averaged 54 against it, compared to Roy’s 26.84.

“It’s about trying to be really clinical picking length and looking to be positive with that option,” Buttler explained, while leaving open the idea that another batter – potentially Dawid Malan or Moeen Ali – could shuffle up the order if England struggle against left-arm spin early on. “I think one strength of our team is the flexibility of our order,” he said. “If that became the trend, I guess we could try to counter that with a change of order as well.”

Bizarrely, Wednesday’s fixture will be the first time England and Bangladesh will meet in T20Is, after 21 ODIs and 10 Test matches between them. Buttler said that England were fully aware of the “spin-heavy” side that they were coming up against but that their main focus was on themselves.

“We know the challenges they’ll pose,” he said. “We’ve played against them lots in 50-over cricket and they’re a dangerous side. They’ve got a lot of experience in T20 cricket as well, some very good players, playing quite a specific style which is unique to them. We’re focused obviously on trying to plan for the opposition but at the same time we’re focused on ourselves, trying to get our level of intensity to the place it needs to be.

“Generally they are a spin-heavy side and have a lot of fingerspinners with great experience such as Shakib Al Hasan who has played a huge number of T20 games all around the world. Generally their batsmen, as a rule, tend to be very strong square of the wicket, and players such as Shakib, Mushfiqur [Rahim] and Mahmudullah, they’ve been around for a long while.

“Mustafizur [Rahman] is a threat with his left-arm bowling and excellent slower balls. They’re a team full of match winners. They’re a strong team and in the last few years, especially at home, they have had a lot of success in T20 cricket. Coming to conditions here, it will be quite familiar to the players in terms of what they face at home, so we are expecting a tough challenge.”

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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SA vs India 1st ODI

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South Africa captain hints team might go with an extra allrounder in the XI for the first ODI

South Africa have welcomed Quinton de Kock back into the national squad with open arms and expect the wicketkeeper-batter to enter the India ODIs with a “point to prove,” according to captain Temba Bavuma. In December, de Kock had announced his retirement from Test cricket after the Boxing Day Test and has been on paternity leave over the last three weeks following the birth of his daughter, but remains available for the shorter formats. On Wednesday, he will take his spot at the top of the order against India.

“It’s good to see Quinny again. We obviously miss him in the Test team, but he has made his decision and that’s a decision we respect. Having Quinny again with the team has been good; and knowing Quinny, he will have a point to prove,” Bavuma said. “I don’t want to put words in his mouth but he will have a point to prove, and I am sure he is as excited as we are to see him in the team.”

Bavuma all but confirmed that de Kock and Janneman Malan will open the batting, with him slotting in at No.3 and feeling in good form.

“The Test series went quite well for the team but for me personally, my feet seemed to move well and I was hitting the ball quite well. I’d like to carry on with that feeling,” Bavuma said. “People have asked me if there’s anything I’ve changed or done differently and to be honest no, I’ve been doing things the same. Maybe it’s just a period of good form.”

The strength of the top three leaves South Africa with a conundrum of how to manage Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller, as Bavuma explained that there may only be room for two of them.

“Quinton and Janneman have done fairly well so I don’t see that changing. I come back into the picture at No.3,” he said. “Then, it’s probably more the middle order, whether we want to go with an extra batter or an allrounder at 6. That’s the real conversation that needs to happen.”

If it were up to Bavuma, the allrounder might be preferred to a specialist batter to ensure sufficient bowling stocks in the XI.

“As a captain, you always like to have as many resources as you can from a bowling front. You accept that one bowler isn’t going to hit his straps on the day, so to be able to have an adequate replacement for him is a luxury,” he said. “It’s something we still need to settle on but I would like to have as many options as I can.”

One of them could well be Marco Jansen, who could make his fifty-over debut this week after being picked in Anrich Nortje’s injury-enforced absence. “The world has seen what cricketing abilities he has and his x-factor ability. It was a no-brainer to get him into white ball squad,” Bavuma said.”He is a guy who will come strongly into contention when we speak about the team.”

Jansen’s ability to extract bounce from the slow Paarl wicket could see him edge ahead of some of the competition.

“Considering Paarl and the conditions there – it’s a lot different to our Highveld wickets – it’s on the lower side; a bit skiddier. We’ll consider pace bowlers who can exploit that, like Lungi (Ngidi), (Sisanda) Magala and Marco Jansen,” Bavuma said. “And then Paarl is quite friendly to slower bowlers and spinners so (Tabraiz) Shamsi, (Keshav) Maharaj and (George) Linde all come into the picture.”

Linde is a late inclusion to the ODI group and has been retained from the Test squad bubble in anticipation of the surfaces that will be used for this series.

Though there are no World Cup Super League points at stake in this series, South Africa are still determined to use the matches to build on their progress over the last six months.

“We’re not expecting this one-day series to be easy. We know it’s going to be tough, especially considering the Test series. We will prepare as well as we can to make sure we are ready for when the challenge comes our way.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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Recent Match Report – Hurricanes vs Renegades 53rd Match 2021/22

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Melbourne Renegades crash out of the race, must now win their final match to stand a chance of avoiding the wooden spoon

Hobart Hurricanes 5 for 182 (Wade 48, David 46*, Lalor 2-37, Boyce 2-37) beat Melbourne Renegades 6 for 176 ( Finch 75, Marsh 51, Rogers 3-35, Lamichhane 2-27) by six runs

Smart bowling from Hobart Hurricanes helped them clinch the final BBL playoff spot after a thrilling six-run victory over Melbourne Renegades. The result knocked Stars from the playoff race ahead of their clash with Sydney Thunder on Wednesday.

Hurricanes had looked in grave danger of failing to defend their 182 at Marvel Stadium with an Aaron Finch-led Renegades cruising at 2 for 161 in the 18th over. But Hurricanes found inspiration with seamer Tom Rogers claiming two wickets in the penultimate over, including Finch for 75, as they hung on to secure victory.

The bottom-placed Renegades now need to win their last match, against Thunder, to stand a chance of avoiding a third straight wooden-spoon finish.

Hurricanes find a way at the death
Hurricanes looked lifeless against Finch and Shaun Marsh, who combined for a second-wicket century partnership. A vintage Finch appeared to be leading Renegades to victory until Hurricanes clawed back into the contest with their season in the balance.
Sandeep Lamichhane, who had earlier taken the wicket of Marsh, was superb in the 18th over with a game-turning dismissal of debutant Unmukt Chand, who had become the first Indian cricketer to play in the BBL.

Then Rogers claimed the big wicket of Finch to decisively turn the game the Hurricanes’ way. That eased the pressure on them ahead of their final league-stage game against Melbourne Stars, even though their playoff position is still undecided.

In further good news for Hurricanes, they are set to welcome back Ashes cult hero Scott Boland, whose sole BBL game this season was against Perth Scorchers on December 14.

Finch stands tall but Renegades collapse
Renegades could well be wondering how their season might have gone with a fit and firing Finch and Marsh, who both missed large chunks of the tournament with injuries.

Marsh turned the clock back with a 38-ball 51 complete with gorgeous strokes around the wicket, but it was Finch who looked best-placed to get Renegades over the line until his dismissal triggered a collapse.

Finch appeared to have timed his run to perfection, but Renegades lost 4 for 15 at the end to suffocate under the pressure in a disappointing performance that encapsulated another poor season for them.

Hurricanes’ batting packs a punch
After an erratic season, Hurricanes have settled on their batting order and No. 3 Matthew Wade has taken to his new role after a sluggish run mid-season in a major boost for their title hopes. The Hurricanes captain helped his side overcome the early loss of Ben McDermott and showed his intent by smashing a six off spinner Cameron Boyce‘s first delivery in the eighth over.
Wade fell just short of his second straight half-century – having made just eight runs in four prior innings – but Hurricanes received a late flurry from D’Arcy Short and Tim David with the pair pummelling 51 off just 22 balls.

In another welcome boost for Hurricanes, an aggressive Short showed great form with 37 off 22 in his most fluent knock of a difficult season, where he had been demoted from opener to No. 4 and entered the match with a low strike rate of 103.

But even he was overshadowed by the big-hitting David, who smashed 46 from 20 balls with four sixes. Hurricanes have had a dilemma all season whether to utilise their designated finisher up the order, and David showed his prowess with his highest score of the season.

Evans pulls off a stunner
Without spearhead Kane Richardson, who has had an excellent season, Renegades’ weakened attack needed someone to step up, and youngster Zak Evans did exactly that in his third BBL match of the season.

First, he took one of the best catches of the tournament to dismiss McDermott – a one-handed blinder after he ran back 30 metres from the edge of the ring and dived backward.

Then the 21-year-old was entrusted to bowl in the power surge and his plan to pitch up worked when he claimed the key wicket of Wade. He couldn’t quite finish the job against a red-hot Short at the death, but it was an encouraging performance from him overall.

It was needed for Renegades with frontline spinner Zahir Khan, who started the season superbly, once again wicketless, having taken just five wickets in his last ten matches.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth



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