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Men’s T20 World Cup 2021

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Laughs off talk of poor form and believes he is close to being at his best

David Warner has laughed off talk about poor form and believes he is close to finding his best touch, having swapped the practice nets in the UAE for synthetic and concrete surfaces.

Warner, who has played five innings in all cricket since April with scores of 0, 2, 0, 1 and 14, revealed the training tactic – something he has previously used at home – was an attempt to overcome nets which are showing the effects of a lot of traffic over the last few months and, he believes, risk bringing bad habits into his batting.

He spoke with the Australian coaching staff on tour about making use of the different surfaces, which are available in Dubai, having received a text from batting coach Trent Woodhill who is a long-time mentor. Warner has had balls hurled at him with the ‘wanger’, or dog-thrower, at up to 145kph so that he can get his feet “dancing” ahead of facing a Sri Lanka attack that possesses considerable pace.

“One thing that should be noted is these practice wickets have been up for close to 12 weeks now, so training is quite difficult on them as well,” Warner said. “At the moment I’m training on some synthetic wickets and polished concrete to get timing and rhythm and moving my feet so that’s helping me.

“When you are practicing on low wickets that aren’t great it gets you into sticky positions in the games when you are on better wickets. You have to get your brain working again with your feet and hands to get into good positions.

“You want to feel bat on ball, but it also makes you move your feet more. We are so used to the ball coming onto the bat and when you do that and are moving, you start dancing in the game. If you are practicing bad habits at training because you aren’t able to get that volume in, you have to go back to the basics.”

Warner felt positive signs during his 14 off 15 balls against South Africa which included three crisp boundaries before he drove to backward point. He lamented his lack of conviction in the stroke that brought his downfall, saying he was too focused on seeing out what was Kagiso Rabada’s third over of his opening spell.

“In hindsight I should have played it over the top, but I pushed it to backward point,” he said. “My feet were moving, I got into great positions, but my awareness should have been to go with it. Felt I was one boundary away from having a good innings

“I actually think people talking about my form is quite funny. I laugh at the matter. I’ve played hardly any cricket. Had two games in the IPL and then warm-up games are warm-up games for a reason. The other day I got my benchmark as where I should be at with my feet.”

Warner believes the T20 game is not purely about the volume of runs a batter scores but how they fit into the broader team gameplan. “Individuals have to play their roles. It’s not necessarily a big score, it’s how you get 20, 30 or 40 and then if you get that big score it puts you in a great position. You’ve just got to make sure you aren’t soaking up too many balls.”

There is also scrutiny of Warner’s opening partner Aaron Finch, who is another to make use of the concrete wickets, after he returned from knee surgery in this tournament. Finch carved to third man for a duck against South Africa although his overall T20I returns in 2021 are far from poor with 324 runs at 32.40, albeit his strike-rate of 126.56 is his lowest for any calendar year since he made his debut.

The opening game was the first time Warner and Finch had opened in a T20I since last September against England. They were a key part of the success Australia had in the format in the 2019-2020 season, but that was followed by Warner’s injury last year against India and subsequent unavailability. “It almost seems like we’ve been in retirement and come back after the time we’ve had off,” he said.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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ICC awards – Smriti Mandhana named ICC Women’s cricketer of the year

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SA batter Lizelle Lee is ICC women’s ODI cricketer of the year

Smriti Mandhana has won the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy for being the ICC’s Women’s Cricketer of the Year 2021. She becomes only the second player, after Australia allrounder Ellyse Perry, to win the highest individual distinction in the women’s overall category of the annual ICC awards more than once.
In 2021, since India’s return to the field on March 7 following a 364-day absence from the international scene – primarily because of the Covid-19 pandemic but also the BCCI’s inability to schedule games for them even as the Indian men’s team got its share of fixtures – Mandhana scored 855 runs in 22 international matches across three series, at an average of 38.86, hitting one century and five half-centuries along the way. The crowning piece in her run tally was a Player-of-the-Match-winning maiden hundred in the longest format – 127 against Australia at Gold Coast – in what was India’s maiden women’s day-night Test.

In 2018, Mandhana had finished atop the run chart in women’s ODIs with 669 runs at an average of 66.90 and was the third-highest scorer in T20Is with 622 runs at a strike rate of 130.67.

The ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year award, instituted in 2006, was named after Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, the former England Women’s Test cricketer and administrator, in 2017 upon the reintroduction of the category. Perry won the honour in 2017 and 2019 and took home the ICC Women’s Player of the Decade award in 2020.

Lizelle Lee named ICC Women’s ODI cricketer of the year

South Africa batter Lizelle Lee has been named the ICC women’s ODI cricketer of the year, following a stellar 2021 in which she ended as the leading run-scorer in the format.
Lee, the top-ranked batter in the world, scored 632 runs in 11 matches at an average of 90.28, including one century and five half-centuries. She played a pivotal role in the ODI series against India last March, making 288 runs, as South Africa sealed a 4-1 win. During the third match of that series, in Lucknow, she made her highest individual score, blasting an unbeaten 132 to help the team to a narrow win. She was eventually named the Player of the Series.
Lee carried her fine form into the tour of West Indies, where she was once again the leading run-scorer, finishing the ODI leg with 248 runs in four matches at an average of 124.

“This award means a lot to me, I didn’t expect it,” Lee said. “It’s an honour to just be nominated, so this feels amazing. There are so many people to give credit to – my parents and my wife have been my biggest source of support, but also my team-mates.

“There are a few innings that stand out, but I’d rank the ones against India and my 90-something against West Indies in tough conditions as one of the best.”



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BBL 2021-22 – Peter Siddle calls for shorter BBL window

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“The word from anyone overseas that I chat to is they don’t want to come here for that long and be stuck”

Peter Siddle has urged BBL administrators to trim the length of the season but believes they were right to block Steven Smith‘s request to play.

Siddle’s Adelaide Strikers will face Sydney Sixers at the SCG on Wednesday night, when the winner advances to Friday night’s final against Perth Scorchers at Marvel Stadium. This season will end within school holidays. But concerns about its length, routinely raised since a broadcast deal in 2018 resulted in the competition expanding to a full home-and-away season, remain.

Strikers spinner Rashid Khan and Sixers opener James Vince are among the international recruits to have already departed Australia.

Siddle believes this summer, in which fixtures have been repeatedly rejigged because of Covid-19 cases, shows it is possible to squeeze the tournament into a tighter window.

“It’s not a hidden fact that it is a bit long,” Siddle said after being named captain of the BBL’s team of the tournament. “Making it shorter is the key focus. The word from anyone overseas that I chat to is their biggest worry is they don’t want to come here for that long and be stuck.

“If you’re a shorter tournament, you’re probably not losing guys like Rashid Khan, James Vince, Sandeep [Lamichhane]. This year we’ve had to rearrange games…now we realise that maybe to make this season shorter, we might have to play back-to-back games and do different things.”

The decision from CA to deny the Sixers’ attempt to sign Smith for the finals has been widely criticised. Siddle disagreed, arguing it was a simple case of “rules are rules”.

“They need to be followed sometimes and obviously they just fell a little bit late for the Sixers,” he said. “It’s probably no different to us having Heady [Travis Head] and Kez [Alex Carey] on contract for the whole season. That’s the risk you take.”

Sixers opted against signing Smith because they believed he would be part of Australia’s ODI series against New Zealand, which was ultimately postponed.

Meanwhile, Siddle also defended Fawad Ahmed after he claimed a contentious catch in Sunday night’s win over Sydney Thunder.

Thunder captain Usman Khawaja said he accepted the umpire’s decision but “it looked like a blade of grass 100 percent touched the ball”.

“I was at cover, so I had a good view,” Siddle said. “It looked clean live. Back in the day it would have been – you just take the fielder’s word for it and it’s out.

“I enjoyed the good old days where you take a word for it, get over it and move on. Line ball, that’s the game.”



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Sri Lanka Women secure final qualifying berth at CWG 2022

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Athapaththu plays key role in victory as Sri Lanka knock out Bangladesh

Sri Lanka won’t be going to the 50-overs World Cup in New Zealand in March, but at least assured themselves of an opportunity to compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games to be played in Birmingham this July-August.

Incidentally, Bangladesh, who pipped them to the World Cup after the qualifying event was called off midway due to a covid outbreak, were once again in their way of securing the lone berth for the eight-team event.

In a must-win in Kuala Lumpur, Sri Lanka rode an all-round show from Chamari Athapaththu to secure a 22-run victory on Sunday. She first made a 28-ball 48 as an opener to set the tone for a strong total, and then picked up three wickets. This included the key strikes of Murshida Khatun and Nigar Sultana as Bangladesh faltered in their chase of 137.

Sri Lanka will now be placed in Group B alongside England, New Zealand and South Africa, while Group A comprises of Australia, India, Pakistan and Barbados.

Sri Lanka are one of the few Full Members that haven’t slotted in international fixtures for their women’s team amidst the pandemic. Between the end of the T20 World Cup in Australia in March 2020 and September 2021, they went a full 18 months without any top-flight cricket.

As it turned out, their inability to improve on their ODI rankings due to lack of match time led to them being a non-participant at the upcoming 50-overs World Cup.



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