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T20 World Cup – Ind vs NZ

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“New Zealand had better intensity, better body language, and they created pressure on us from the first over onwards”

Two matches into their T20 World Cup campaign, India are winless and on the brink of elimination. On Sunday, India only managed to post 110 in their 20 overs – a total that New Zealand breezed past with 5.3 overs to spare – and Virat Kohli, their captain, put it down to his team not being “brave enough” during the game. This, he explained, was characterised by their batters getting caught in two minds while looking to take risks.

“Quite bizarre. To be very honest and brutal up front, I don’t think we were brave enough with bat or ball,” Kohli told the host broadcaster during the post-match presentation. “With the ball, I mean, obviously we didn’t have much to play with, but we were just not brave enough with our body language when we entered the field, and New Zealand had better intensity, better body language, and they created pressure on us from the first over onwards, really, and continued that through the innings.

“Every time we felt like we want to take a chance [while batting], we lost a wicket. That happens in T20 cricket, but that’s most probably or most often the result of that little bit of hesitation with the bat, when you feel like should you go for the shot or not.”

Playing for India in a global tournament always comes with the pressure of expectations from the biggest fanbase in the sport in the world, and Kohli suggested India hadn’t managed to overcome that pressure in their two games so far, against Pakistan and New Zealand.

“When you play for the Indian cricket team, you obviously have a lot of expectations, everyone knows that – not only from the fans but from the players themselves,” he said. “Wherever we play, we are watched, people come to the stadiums to support us, so there’s always going to be more with our games, that’s always been the case, and we’ve embraced it over the years, and everyone who plays for the Indian team obviously has to embrace that as well, and learn how to cope with it.

“And when you cope with that as a team, you tend to overcome that pressure and those tough situations. And we haven’t, in these two games, and that’s why we haven’t won.”

India are now in the awkward position of being all but out of the tournament, but still having to play three more matches in their group. Kohli said India would have to ensure they remained in a positive frame of mind through these three games.

“There’s only one way to play T20 cricket – you have to be optimistic, you have to be positive, take calculated risks, and that’s what this format is all about,” he said. “Just because you’re the Indian cricket team and there’s expectations, doesn’t mean that you start playing the format differently.

“So I think you have to disconnect from that a little bit and just back ourselves out there and take pride in performing for the team. As long as individuals are looking to do that, I think we’ll be fine. There’s a lot of cricket to play in this tournament, something that we all must look forward to, and certainly the team must look forward to, and go out with a positive frame of mind.”

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Mithali Raj – We have had ‘good preparation’ for 2022 World Cup by playing SA, England, Australia this year

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“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good,” she says

India Women are scheduled to play only one ODI series – against New Zealand – before the World Cup early next year but captain Mithali Raj feels the team has had “good preparation” so far in 2021.
This year, India hosted South Africa for five ODIs before playing a three-match series in England and Australia each. They lost all three series but made Australia, the No. 1 team, work really hard for their 2-1 win and also ended their 26-match winning streak in the third ODI there.

India will play World Cup hosts New Zealand for five ODIs before the World Cup in March-April.

“We have played three best teams since March and it has given us good preparation,” Raj said after a partnership between KFC and Indian Deaf Cricket Association in Delhi on Wednesday. “Players have played domestic cricket and also in the Women’s Big Bash so they are getting game time which is the most important thing.

“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good.”

India, who were unable to post 250-plus scores regularly earlier, did that twice in the Australia series and chased down 265 in the final ODI.

“When you play against a strong team in its backyard you try to give your best,” Raj said. “Though we lost the series, the matches were very close. We scored 270 (274) and chased 270-odd, if we can do that consistently we will be among the best sides in world cricket.”

India’s middle-order batting needs improvement but Raj said all departments must fire as a unit if they are to win the World Cup.

“We bat as a unit so you can’t pinpoint one area,” she said. “There are times when the top order failed and the others performed. As a unit if we look to post a good total then it will help. If we focus on one area like middle order then it becomes too much of a burden for that particular slot.”

India finished runners-up in the 2017 World Cup in England when not many expected them to but expectations will be higher this time.

“There were not enough expectations back then,” Raj said. “Now in 2021, players have got experience and got a lot of exposure with the T20 leagues. Overall we have young players but they have got enough exposure. It is just of matter of gelling well as a team.

“Every match will be different there. The quicker we read our opponents the better it will be for us.”



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The Ashes 2021-22 – Michael Vaughan stood down from BT Sport Ashes coverage after Azeem Rafiq allegations

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Channel to adopt a “hybrid” approach with Vaughan’s stints on Fox Sports to be overlaid

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, will not be heard by UK audiences during this winter’s Ashes in Australia, after BT Sport followed the BBC’s decision to remove him from their TV coverage of the series.

Vaughan, 47, was last week stood down from BBC Test Match Special’s coverage for “editorial” reasons, following allegations from Azeem Rafiq, the former Yorkshire cricketer, that he had said “there are too many of you lot” following the selection of four players of Asian heritage in a county fixture in 2009.

Vaughan, who denies the allegations, apologised last week in an interview on BBC Breakfast for the “hurt” caused to Rafiq during his time as a player at Yorkshire, and will still be involved in this winter’s Ashes coverage through his commentary role with Fox Sports, the Australian host broadcaster.

However, BT Sport – who are due to take the Fox Sports feed after choosing not to send a bespoke commentary team to Australia – announced on Tuesday that they will be taking a “hybrid” approach to their coverage, with Vaughan’s on-air stints to be overlaid with studio analysis.

“As a result of Covid and travel restrictions BT Sport had made the decision to take our commentary feed from the Australian host broadcaster,” the channel said in a statement. “The recent report presented to UK Parliament uncovering institutional racism within cricket and specifically Yorkshire County Cricket Club is extremely disappointing and a concern for all.

“Given these recent events and the controversy with the situation we have taken the decision that including Michael Vaughan within our Ashes coverage would not be editorially appropriate or fit with BT Sport’s values. We are still finalising plans but we are assessing the option of taking a hybrid approach, using Fox commentary where possible with the aim of putting our own commentary team in place if necessary.”

Vaughan’s troubled build-up to the series continued on Tuesday, when he announced on Twitter that his arrival in Australia had been delayed by a week due to a positive Covid test. “[It] is frustrating,” he wrote. “But at least I’ll avoid the rain in Brisbane for a few days!”

However, his hopes of being retained by the BBC after the Ashes have received a boost, after the corporation confirmed that they had been in “regular contact” with Vaughan since his suspension, and had held “positive conversations with him in recent days”.

“Our contributors are required to talk about relevant issues, so Michael’s involvement in a story of such significance means it’s not possible for him to be part of our Ashes coverage or wider cricket coverage at the moment,” the statement added. “We’re pleased with how our conversations are going and expect to work with Michael again in the future. He remains on contract to the BBC.”

The BBC’s stance was criticised this week by his former England team-mate Monty Panesar, who wrote in a column in the Daily Telegraph: “This feels deeply unethical — a classic case of someone being tried and convicted without any form of due process being undertaken.”



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The Hundred 2022 – ECB doubles Women’s Hundred salaries for 2022 edition

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Payment bands for female players next season will range from £7500 to £31,250

The ECB has more than doubled salaries for female players in the second season of the Hundred after the inaugural women’s competition broke records for attendances and TV viewing figures.

Women’s salaries ranged from £3600 (US$4800) to £15,000 (US$20,000) – with a captaincy bonus of £1200 (US$1600) – in the 2021 edition of the Hundred and while prize money for the men’s and women’s tournaments was equal, there was a stark disparity in wages with the lowest-paid male players earning 60% more than the highest-paid female players.

Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, had pledged after the tournament’s final was watched by a record-breaking 17,116 crowd that salaries would rise as a result of the success of the women’s competition, while confirming that the double-header model would continue to be used in 2022.

ESPNcricinfo can reveal that women’s salaries will increase by 108% across the board for 2022, ranging from £7500 (US$10,000) to £31,250 (US$41,500), with a £2500 (US$3300) captaincy bonus. Teams will have a £250,000 (US$330,000) purse to split across their 15-player squads, up from £120,000 (US$160,000), with the ECB’s total outlay on women’s salaries jumping from £960,000 (US$1.28m) to £2 million (US$2.66m).

“Salaries in the Hundred women’s competition have more than doubled ahead of the second year of the competition,” a spokesperson for the Hundred said. “We’re proud to be significantly increasing our investment in women’s salaries, we believe this is a step in the right direction as we grow the women’s game and are committed to our ongoing support of the Hundred women’s competition.”

The salary hike further increases the chances of the world’s best women’s cricketers appearing in the 2022 edition of the Hundred, after a raft of Australia internationals withdrew shortly before its first season due to quarantine requirements and restrictions on international travel. With the Commonwealth Games due to be staged at Edgbaston from July 29 to August 7, many leading internationals are likely to remain in the country for the Hundred.

The increase is particularly significant for the lowest-paid players in the tournament, several of whom had to take annual leave or ask for time off from their employers during the inaugural season. Kate Cross, the England seamer, told the Telegraph last year that “until those lower brackets are topped up, you could have some girls dropping out because ultimately it’s not worth their while with work”, but an increase in the bottom salary band to £7500 for a month’s work will make playing in the Hundred more financially viable.

The ECB has also confirmed that men’s salaries will increase by 25% and return to their pre-Covid levels, as ESPNcricinfo revealed on Wednesday.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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