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Men’s T20 World Cup – BAN vs AUS

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Bangaldesh skipper admits shortcomings, but has no plans to step down

Mahmudullah insisted that he would neither retire nor step down as captain in the aftermath of a T20 World Cup in which his Bangladesh side squeezed through their first-round group – despite losing to Scotland – before losing all five of their Super 12s fixtures.

Bangladesh were sixth in the ICC’s men’s T20I rankings heading into the World Cup and came to the UAE on the back of series wins against New Zealand (3-2) and Australia (4-1), but those achievements owed much to extreme home conditions, playing on pitches with low bounce that contrasted starkly with the surfaces they experienced during heavy defeats to England and South Africa in Abu Dhabi.

Their latest defeat, an eight-wicket humbling with 82 balls remaining against Australia in Dubai on Thursday, highlighted the brittle nature of their batting line-up in the absence of Shakib Al Hasan (injured) and Tamim Iqbal (personal reasons), as they were bowled out for a double-figures total for the second time in three days.

Asked directly if he would retire from T20I cricket after he had unexpectedly called time on his Test career earlier this year during a series against Zimbabwe, Mahmudullah said, “I am not thinking anything like it,” and insisted that a decision over his future as short-form captain was not his to make

“I can’t comment on it,” he said. “It is not in my hands. The decision is the cricket board’s. I have tried to keep the team together, to get the best out of the team. But definitely, there were shortcomings from my side.

“We didn’t perform well in this tournament. I’m still searching for answers, trying to find out what is missing, what we need to do. We sat together to work out where we are lacking and why we can’t perform better. Except the Sri Lanka and West Indies games, we performed poorly throughout the tournament.”

Bangladesh’s early exit means that they have still won only a single game against a full-member nation in men’s T20 World Cups, a six-wicket win against West Indies in the inaugural tournament back in 2007. When pressed on why Bangladesh had not made more progress since then in T20 cricket, Mahmudullah suggested that Sri Lanka’s comeback in their opening Super 12s game had been a major setback.

“It is quite complicated at the moment,” he said. “We are a team that works on flow. If we see how we played against Australia or New Zealand, we started well and we kept doing well. It’s the same in big tournaments like the T20 World Cup: if we could beat Sri Lanka in the first game, we could have that flow and boost the confidence. [But] there’s no point saying all this – we performed poorly.

“When you have these sorts of performances, it is hard to say much. There are a lot of areas we have to look at, especially our batting. The wickets that we have played on have been among the best for batting… we have a lot of things to figure out with our batting when we go back to Bangladesh. In T20 cricket, you have to have a good powerplay, especially when we don’t have so-called hard-hitters… but we haven’t done that at all.

“We have lacked awareness in this competition and we have to pick up on that. If you see in the Super 12s, we came close in two games against Sri Lanka and West Indies [but] we did some silly mistakes and lost those games. Other than that, we have been outplayed by the opposition.”

Russell Domingo, Bangladesh’s head coach, will doubtless find his position under scrutiny given the manner of their exit, and the fact that they had only four training sessions across the whole competition since their arrival in Muscat, Oman.

“Everyone should share the blame, not just one person,” Mahmudullah said, defending Domingo. “The whole team failed. We missed some practice sessions due to travel and injury concerns – fatigue was a factor.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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Travis Head wins the race to be Australia's No. 5 in the Ashes

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Mitchell Starc will complete the fast-bowling trio alongside Josh Hazlewood and captain Pat Cummins



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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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