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Men’s Ashes 2021-22 – Gabba no longer such a ‘stronghold’ for Australia, warns Joe Root

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England captain says India defeat will “plant a little bit of doubt in Australia’s mind”

Joe Root has declared the Gabba is no longer a stronghold, arguing doubt will linger in Australia’s minds when the Ashes start on December 8 because of their shock Test loss to India’s depleted XI.
India stormed to an unexpected victory at the Gabba in January, snapping Australia’s undefeated Test streak at the ground that had dated back to 1988. The tourists completed a venue-record chase of 328; a feat made even more remarkable because Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashwin, Mohammed Shami and several other first-choice players were unavailable.

Uncertainty regarding England’s participation in the five-Test series had dominated the Ashes phoney war in recent months. But the series is now set to begin with its traditional curtain-raiser in Brisbane and Root, who departs alongside England’s red-ball specialists this week, has delivered a timely reminder about what occurred in Australia’s most recent Test.

“Look at that India team that won at the Gabba. They were a long way from their first-choice XI but they had no fear,” England’s captain told the Guardian. “They stood up to Australia and won crucial parts of that Test.

“It will give every player in our squad a huge amount of confidence and just plant a little bit of doubt in Australia’s mind. Having to go back there and play again for the first time against us, what with it being such a stronghold for them for such a long period of time. We now know that it’s not.”

England have been the world’s busiest national cricket side throughout the Covid-19 era, whereas Australia’s series loss to India represents their only Test cricket since the pandemic erupted.

Root has already equalled the English record for most Test centuries in a calendar year, reaching three figures on six occasions in 2021. He has yet to score a century in Australia but believes lessons learned from miserable 2013-14 and 2017-18 tours, which England lost by a combined scoreline of 9-0, will help him continue his red-hot form.

“The two previous tours I think if anything I probably got a bit too desperate,” he said. That extra bit of experience off the back of a fruitful year for me personally puts me in a better place.”

Root was understandably thrilled to have Ben Stokes back in England’s Ashes plans and mentally ready to return to cricket. Stokes required two surgeries to repair a finger injury, while he also took time out of the game for his own mental wellbeing.

“I’d got an inkling. I’d had some good conversations with Ben over the period while he’s not been playing,” Root said. “It was just such a joy to hear him speak. You could almost hear his smile, if that makes sense, down the phone. You could tell he was so much happier within himself.”



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WBBL 2021-22 – In sickness and in health Kapp stars after difficult build-up

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Kapp was bedridden for three days before the final due to illness and then had to deal with the emotional challenge of playing against her wife Dane van Niekerk

Player of the WBBL final Marizanne Kapp revealed that she didn’t leave her hotel room for three days in the lead-up to the final after coming down with an illness following Perth Scorchers trip to Adelaide.

Kapp produced a phenomenal effort with both bat and ball scoring a critical 31 not out from 23 balls, including four boundaries, to help lift Scorchers to a competitive total of 5 for 146.

She then bowled superbly in the powerplay delivering a maiden over while bowling to her wife, Strikers opener Dane van Niekerk, and finished with match-winning figures of 1 for 25.

Kapp revealed she had passed a covid test in the lead-up to the game but was seriously concerned about her health.

“On Monday when we travelled back from Adelaide I already wasn’t feeling too great,” Kapp said. “I woke up the next morning and I was so sick, for the last three days I was so sick and I didn’t move out of my room. I knew today was going to be really tough, especially with the heat as well. After the batting, I felt like I was going to pass out, I didn’t feel well at all, but at the end of the day it was worth it.”

Kapp was on her haunches after running twos while batting in oppressive 36-degree heat. Teammate Beth Mooney revealed Kapp had Facetimed into the team meeting the day before the game but she was conserving energy in order to be able to play.

“I started to show signs of feeling a bit better yesterday and this morning,” Kapp said. “That’s why I decided not to go and train this week because I knew it was going to set me back and I probably would’ve missed today. I knew it was going to be hard and luckily it was worth it.”

The victory was bittersweet for Kapp. She had to deal with the emotional toll of having to play against her wife in the final. The pair had faced off twice earlier in the season with Kapp dismissing van Niekerk in both meetings. Kapp got the better of van Niekerk again in the final as they faced each other with both bat and ball. Van Niekerk bowled two balls to Kapp for two singles in Scorchers innings. Van Niekerk got off the mark with a leg glance off Kapp first ball in the chase but then faced a maiden from Kapp in the third over of the innings which stalled the Strikers momentum severely. Kapp beat the outside edge twice in the over and struck van Niekerk on the pad.

“It’s never easy,” Kapp said. “When I saw that wicket earlier, I knew with the new ball there was going to be something in it and it will probably get some movement. It’s a tough wicket to get in on, and once you’re in on it becomes a lot easier.”

Kapp said she would not hold it over van Niekerk in any way after the victory.

“No definitely not,” Kapp said. “I already feel so bad, because I feel like the Strikers were worthy of winning the cup as well, especially the two semi-finals they played, they were absolutely amazing.”

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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BBL 2021-22 – Chris Jordan jets into Sydney Sixers squad as replacement for Carlos Brathwaite

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Jordan set to play for his fourth BBL club after Brathwaite is ruled out of the tournament due to shoulder surgery

Two-time defending BBL champions Sydney Sixers have pulled off a coup signing England quick Chris Jordan as an international replacement for Carlos Brathwaite after the West Indian was ruled out of the tournament due to a shoulder injury.

Brathwaite has undergone surgery and is unavailable for the entire BBL. Jordan has been signed at short notice to bolster Sixers’ squad alongside fellow England internationals James Vince and Tom Curran.

Jordan has previously played for three different BBL clubs in three different seasons, starting at Adelaide Strikers in 2016-17 before a short stint with Sydney Thunder in 2018-19. He played almost a full season with Perth Scorchers in 2019-20 before having to leave the tournament late due to international duty.

Jordan comes off a T20 World Cup where he was arguably England’s best seamer claiming six wickets at an economy rate of 6.84. Cricket NSW Head of Male Cricket Michael Klinger, who oversees Sixers’ list management, said Jordan was a valuable addition.

“It’s disappointing for Carlos and the group that he has succumbed to injury but Chris is a world-class T20 cricketer and will provide the Sixers with fantastic versatility and high-quality skills in all three aspects of the game,” Klinger said.

“His death bowling and changeups, as well as being one of the world’s best fielders, will be a huge asset for the Sixers early in the BBL.

“He is experienced in playing in the BBL and has been previously successful in this tournament.

“I know Greg Shipperd (Sixers coach) and the rest of the coaching staff are very excited to have Chris on board.”

Sixers will open their new campaign on Sunday, December 5 against Melbourne Stars at the SCG.

Sydney Sixers squad: Moises Henriques (c), Sean Abbott, Jackson Bird, Daniel Christian, Tom Curran (Eng), Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, Daniel Hughes, Chris Jordan (Eng), Hayden Kerr, Nathan Lyon, Ben Manenti, Stephen O’Keefe, Josh Philippe, Lloyd Pope, Jordan Silk, James Vince (Eng)



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South Africa vs Netherlands 2021

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Although Netherlands are unable to catch a flight out, it is understood the players have communicated they are not in the right mental state to play

The second and third ODIs between South Africa and Netherlands have been postponed after concerns around a new Coronavirus variant, Omicron. The first match in the series, which forms part of the World Cup Super League, was washed out on Friday, leaving the teams sharing five points each. That keeps Netherlands in last place on the points table, and South Africa in ninth, outside the automatic qualification zone.

Although Netherlands will be in South Africa for the duration of the series because they are unable to catch a flight out, ESPNcricinfo understands that the players have communicated they are not in the right mental state to play. On Friday, their coach Ryan Campbell tweeted that the team played with “unbelievable pressure hanging over their heads,” after travel restrictions began to affect the southern African region.

“We are disappointed by the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in, but the comfort of all visiting teams must always be paramount,” Pholetsi Moseki, CSA’s acting CEO, said. “The mental well-being of players is one of CSA’s top priorities, and we respect our visitors’ position and point of view.

“CSA and KNCB will get into discussions around possibly rescheduling the tour within this cycle of the ICC Future Tours Programme ending in 2023.”

“We are saddened by these circumstances, but are grateful to Cricket South Africa for their assistance and understanding of our team’s position,” Jurgen Delfos, chairman of Netherlands cricket board, said. “

It must be made clear that the concerns are strictly over travel issues and how soon the team can get home and have nothing to do with the integrity of the Bio-Secure Environment (BSE) that CSA has successfully hosted. Our team has been pleased with every aspect of the organisation of the tour and have been well treated by our hosts.”

The United Kingdom, United States, much of Europe, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand have all banned travel to and from countries in southern Africa, and imposed a quarantine on their own citizens returning from the region in response to Omicron.

News of a new variant was first made public on Tuesday, November 23 and cases in the Gauteng province of South Africa, where the Netherlands series is taking place, have increased severalfold since. Although South Africa is only reporting around 2,000 new cases a day, there are concerns this will rise exponentially and stricter restrictions are due to be introduced soon. South Africa is currently on Level 1 of 5 of its restrictions, the most lenient since the pandemic began, and the first ODI was the first time since March 2020 that cricket was played in front of a limited crowd, but the government is meeting on Saturday to discuss further measures.

As yet there is no indication of how this will affect the rest of the cricket calendar. India A are also in South Africa, playing first-class matches against South Africa A in Bloemfontein. So far, that series is continuing. India’s senior side is due to travel to South Africa for three Tests, three ODIs and four ODIs on December 8. India has not imposed any restrictions on southern African travelers to date, but has stricter testing measures for people from the region in place.

Last summer, South Africa’s season was severely impacted after England left the country early without playing the ODI leg of their white-ball tour and Australia pulled out of a four-Test series which was pencilled in as the marquee event of the summer. Sri Lanka and Pakistan both toured the country without incident in strict bio-bubble conditions, which Cricket South Africa will replicate for the India series.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent





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