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IND vs NZ – T20 World Cup 2021

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Quick raring to go during the best period of cricket he’s had in a “long, long time”

In the 2015 ODI World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Milne had been sidelined from the semi-finals and the final with a heel injury, but six years later, the stars are aligning for him in the UAE.

“Obviously, it was a bit of a roller-coaster ride the other day [Tuesday] with obviously Lockie going down and then sort of being told: ‘You are in’, and then a few things happening and yeah it’s exciting to be in [the team],” Milne said during a virtual media interaction. “The good thing was I was already part of the group, so it’s exciting to now have the opportunity to potentially play some games in this World Cup and hopefully make a difference with the New Zealand team.

“When we got to the ground [in Dubai], Gary [Stead, the head coach] came up and sort of had a word to me. I think it was a decent drive to the ground – 60 minutes – I had a little bit of a nap on that (laughs). I think there might have been some things going on behind the scenes while I was having a bit of a snooze, but officially at the ground, they sort of said: ‘Look, the ICC hasn’t allowed it [yet]’. Unfortunate – just the way things go.”

Haris Rauf’s pace – and change of pace in particular – rocked New Zealand on Tuesday, leading Pakistan to their second successive victory in this tournament. Milne reckoned that he might have made a similar impact had his inclusion been rubber-stamped by the ICC before the game had got underway. After New Zealand’s opener, Stead said that legspinner Ish Sodhi would have sat out for Milne had the quick been made available for selection by the ICC.

“Yeah, I think so. If you looked at the way the pitch played and the pitches played throughout the course of the IPL, the faster guys that have been able to hit the wicket hard and create uneven bounce [and] have caused problems to batters,” Milne said. “I think the way that their bowlers… Haris Rauf is similar, very fast and hits the wicket hard and causes a bit of inconsistent bounce to pick up wickets. I think I’d have been able to add something to the team but it wasn’t to be, and I thought our guys bowled really well and unfortunately for us, they came out and batted really well towards that end part of the game.”

Milne brings with him terrific form from the Vitality Blast and the Hundred, and he hoped that the recent stints will hold him in good stead at the T20 World Cup. He was particularly potent in the inaugural Hundred, where he was the only bowler to concede at less than a run a ball, for Birmingham Phoenix in their path to the final.

‘Yeah, I definitely feel like this has been the best period of cricket I’ve had in a long, long time,” Milne said. “I’d love to make the most of it and continue to use this period to develop and perform really well at a high level. This is definitely the best period of consistent cricket I’ve had for a long, long time. So, I’m excited to hopefully make a difference with the ball in these games here and really prove this period has been influential for me.

“I think the form is purely down to be able to play that consistent cricket. Prior to this sort of period, I’ve played a few games, injury, sort of rehabbed and come back. You don’t sort of get that nice flow and rhythm to your bowling you need over a consistent period of time. The changes that I’ve made to get that consistent cricket, I wouldn’t say there has been anything major. I’ve sort of slightly adjusted things I do physically, how I prepare and strength and fitness-wise, but I wouldn’t say there’s been massive switches.”

This version of Milne isn’t just about sheer pace. Having also added the in-to-the-pitch cutters to his repertoire, he is aiming to make the most of his variations in the UAE.

“I’ve always tried to develop some sort of options with the slower balls that can do different things,” Milne said. “I’ve learnt the cutters and different slower balls into the wicket, especially in grounds over here probably proved the most effective. So, yeah, sort of been working on those and perfecting and use them at the right time, which has been successful.”

On Sunday, Milne will come up against Jasprit Bumrah, the leader of the Indian attack, from whom he has picked up a few T20 tricks during his stint with Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

“The IPL brings a really cool opportunity for all overseas cricketers to work with not only with the other overseas, but the Indian guys as well,” Milne said. “To watch Jasprit go about his work and sort of talk to him and learn off him has been really cool and as well as the likes of Coultsy (Nathan Coulter-Nile), and when I was with RCB, learning off some other guys there.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Ban vs Pak, 2nd Test, 2021

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Taskin Ahmed also included in 20-man squad after regaining fitness

Bangladesh’s Test loss in Chattogram was followed by good news after Shakib Al Hasan was ruled fit for the second Test against Pakistan starting December 4. Shakib missed the first Test, as well as the T20I series against Pakistan and the last couple of matches in the T20 World Cup due to a hamstring injury.
Shakib passed a fitness test in Dhaka on Monday, which brought him back into a team that badly needs his contribution. Fast bowler Taskin Ahmed has also returned to the side, while Mohammad Naim, the T20 specialist, makes his first appearance in the Test squad. Taskin had hurt his finger during the third T20I against Pakistan on November 22, which had ruled him out of the first Test.

Naim is the standout call-up in the squad. The 22-year-old has played 32 T20Is and two ODIs. He played the last of his six first-class matches in February 2020. Naim averages 16.63 in the format, and has scored only one half-century.

The team management had already picked fast bowlers Khaled Ahmed and Shohidul Islam for the Chattogram Test. The new inclusions make it a 20-man squad for the Dhaka Test, which is unusual for a home game.

Squad for second Test: Mominul Haque (capt), Shadman Islam, Saif Hassan, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Liton Das, Yasir Ali, Nurul Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Ebadot Hossain, Abu Jayed, Nayeem Hasan, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Rejaur Rahman Raja, Khaled Ahmed, Shohidul Islam, Mohammad Naim

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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Big Bash 2021-22 – Ian Bell joins Hobart Hurricanes as assistant coach

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Former England batter won title with Perth Scorchers in 2016-17

Ian Bell was a Big Bash champion with Perth Scorchers in 2016-17 but returns to the league five seasons later hoping to inspire Hobart Hurricanes to the title.

Bell retired from professional cricket at the end of the English domestic season in 2020 and has moved into coaching: he worked with England Under-19s as a batting coach across the 2019-20 winter and was part of Birmingham Phoenix’s coaching staff during their run to the inaugural men’s Hundred final this summer.

He has now been appointed as one of two assistant coaches at the Hurricanes ahead of their BBL season opener on December 8 against Sydney Sixers, the defending champions, and has arrived in Australia following a stint with Chennai Braves in the Abu Dhabi T10 League.

“I’m so excited to be joining up with the Hurricanes and working alongside Adam Griffith,” Bell said. “The Big Bash is without doubt one of the best competitions in world cricket, and having previously taken part as a player, I can’t wait to get stuck in as a coach.”

Bell captained Warwickshire in their T20 guise as the Birmingham Bears during the 2016 Blast, during which Matthew Wade, the Hurricanes’ captain, was one of their overseas players, while two of the Hurricanes’ three international recruits – Jordan Thompson and Harry Brook – are compatriots.

“I already know a great deal about the team having either played with them before or having admired them from afar, and I’m certain we have got some serious talent in there,” Bell said. “I was fortunate enough to win the BBL as a player and I would love nothing more than to be a small cog in a winning team but this time as a coach.”



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Trevor Bayliss backs both sides to block out off-field issues once Ashes start

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Former head coach admits build-up has been less than ideal for England and Australia

Trevor Bayliss‘ only away Ashes series during his five-year tenure as England’s head coach ended in a 4-0 defeat and was overshadowed by off-field distractions amid questions about his squad’s drinking culture and the absence of Ben Stokes due to his involvement in a fight outside a Bristol nightclub.

Four years later, both teams have endured rough build-ups to the series on and off the field, with English cricket engulfed in a racism crisis, Australia reeling from Tim Paine’s sexting scandal, and La Niña reaping havoc with scheduled warm-up games in Queensland.

Bayliss, speaking to reporters in his capacity as Sydney Thunder’s new head coach ahead of the BBL season, said that while the build-up had not been ideal, both teams would be fully focused on the series rather than the sideshow around it once they step onto the field at the Gabba next Wednesday.

“It probably makes a little bit of a change,” Bayliss said, asked about the spotlight on Australia following Paine’s resignation and subsequent decision to step away from the game for an unspecified period of time. “Normally when the England team comes here, all the focus is on them and the one or two small pick-ups they might have along the way get blown out of all proportion.

“With what’s going on in England at the moment, there’s obviously a bit in the background there as well. I think both teams will be more than happy for the cricket to start and all of that can get pushed into the background and they can concentrate on their cricket.

“I fully expect with both sets of players, that’s exactly what will happen. Once the cricket starts, there might be talk behind the scenes with commentators and journalists and that type of thing but I’m quite sure that once things get underway out on the field it’ll be all about the cricket.”

The first day of England’s second intra-squad warm-up game was washed out on Tuesday after only 29 overs were possible in the first, while Australia are set to cancel their practice fixture due to inclement weather. Bayliss said that the lack of a proper preparation period might lead teams to rotate their fast bowlers throughout the series, but stressed that for England, combating the pace trio of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc would be a major challenge.

“Playing games would be the No. 1 criteria but both teams would be trying to do what they can through practice and making sure they’ve got the workloads up to scratch with the number of balls or overs bowled in the build-up,” Bayliss said. “It might force the hand a little bit of bringing in replacement guys every Test or two, making sure that the workload on the bowlers is not over the top.

“The three big, tall pace bowlers Australia have got have done a lot of damage over the last few years and have bowled extremely well on these flat Australian pitches. They’re able to bang the ball in, they’ve got good pace, they’re tall, and they’re able to get a bit more out of it because of that pace and extra bounce.

“So that’ll be something that the England batters will have to negate. But as we saw on the last tour, they might have lost 4-0 but on different occasions they showed they could score runs against that attack. It’s about that consistency and doing it Test after Test, which I’m sure they’ll be looking for.”

As for Stokes, whose absence proved costly in 2017-18 as England struggled to balance their side, Bayliss said that it was a “massive bonus” for them to have him available for this summer’s series, not only due to his ability as an allrounder but also as a talisman who galvanises others in the side.

“It’s not just his batting, his bowling or his fielding,” Bayliss said. “He’s one of those guys who is a leader within the group. He’s a very positive influence. There were times where he didn’t play because of injury in England and I think the team felt his loss when he wasn’t there. Certainly when he plays, he’s able to drag a lot more of the players along with him. He’s got a great attitude, a never-say-die attitude.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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