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T20 World Cup – Sri Lanka vs West Indies

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West Indies captain keen to continue despite struggling during failed title defence

West Indies’ white-ball captain Kieron Pollard has insisted that he has no intentions of retiring from international cricket after his side were knocked out of contention for the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup. Pollard was among the West Indies seniors who had struggled to adapt to the UAE conditions; he managed only 46 runs in four innings at a strike rate of under 87. West Indies, who entered the competition as the defending champions, suffered a premature exit when they lost to an already knocked-out Sri Lanka team by 20 runs.

“Well, personally… I don’t set personal goals for personal glory. I play cricket to win cricket matches each and every time,” Pollard said at the post-match press conference. “We came to the World Cup to win and we haven’t done that. Unless you’re part of decisions that are going to get rid of me or fire me or retire me, as I stand right now, I have no intentions of not playing international cricket. One tournament or a couple of bad games don’t make a summer. And for me personally, there’s a lot of mileage in my legs as an individual.

“There are people in different scenarios who make decisions and when it comes to that [captaincy] question, I can’t make that decision… but again we have a tendency as things go badly, the easiest thing is to blame or chop and change and do different things. But we accept that. I accept that and I take it on the chin and sometimes you have to absorb the pressure before you apply [it]. But personally as an individual I’ve played a lot of good cricket in the last 18 months or two years or so. So, three-four games [are] not going to deter Kieron Pollard.”

Pollard rued West Indies’ “sloppy” performance in the field, exploited by an inexperienced yet talented Sri Lanka sid to put up an above-par total of 189 for 3. In response, West Indies lost Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis and Roston Chase in the powerplay. Despite counterattacking innings from vice-captain Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer, the rapidly rising asking rate was too much to overcome for West Indies.

‘It was a good batting track,” Pollard said. “If we had sort of restricted them to 170-175, I thought that was about par on this track; [we] gave them a couple of extra runs, and then we weren’t able to sort of finish off the innings. The batting has struggled throughout the entire tournament, and it has been disappointing. Obviously, we’ve been singing the same song over and over and it’s something that hasn’t helped us – the way that we’ve batted throughout the tournament. We just have to accept that we weren’t good enough.”

Pooran, who was bumped up to No. 3 after batting at No. 7 against Bangladesh, made the early running in the powerplay, claiming 32 of the 52 runs West Indies scored in the first six overs. While Dushmantha Chameera tricked him with a cutter for 46, Hetmyer pressed on to hit an unbeaten 81 off 54 balls. Pollard identified the two batters as a key part of West Indies’ T20 future but challenged them to produce such performances more often.

“I think that [the progress of Pooran and Hetmyer] is very, very important,” Pollard said. “Nicholas getting the opportunity to bat up the order. Last game, he was full of confidence, and we just decided to sort of ride on that confidence and just try something different. I think he gave us a good start in the powerplay and after the powerplay. Obviously, he wasn’t able to carry on, but that is a positive sign for us in the right direction.

“And then Hetmyer – this is what we know Shimron can do. He comes in and manoeuvres the ball at the start. He’s a powerful individual and if we can get these sort of performances from these guys consistently, I think it will augur well for us in the future. But it’s not just the glimpse, the task is to do that on a consistent basis. The glimpse is good enough and it’s something we definitely look at going forward.”

In order to unearth new talents, Pollard reckoned that West Indies should bring back the regional T20 tournament, in addition to the franchise-based CPL, to expand the pool of players.

“I think it’s something that we have to look at. I think it’s something that has plagued us over a period of time for the last ten years or so, we’ve had sort of the same guys playing T20 and dominating as we go along,” he said. “One of the things we need to do is, especially in the Caribbean, we need to have another tournament other than CPL where we can unearth new talents. When we had the Caribbean T20, that was an opportunity to bring you talent from different parts of the Caribbean to be able to have the nucleus for this last generation or so… Since CPL has come in, yes it’s a franchise-based system, but we’ve only had the opportunity to recycle the same players over and over again.

“So, it’s something that we need to look at but there are some cricketers and a lot of young cricketers looking forward to playing and contributing to West Indies cricket. And it’s something that I’m personally excited about. It’s the end of a generation, but there needs to be a lot of conversation that needs to take place on how you’re going to make the transformation from club cricket or even CPL to international cricket because there’s a big step-up. So in between, we need to have another tournament if you look around the world, there are different tournaments that different teams play so that they can unearth new talents.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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BBL11 2021-22 – Alex Hales may need to carry the load for Sydney Thunder

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Usman Khawaja may be absent for most of the season if needed in the Ashes

Squad
Sam Billings (England), Jonathan Cook, Ben Cutting, Ollie Davies, Brendan Doggett, Matthew Gilkes, Chris Green, Alex Hales (England), Baxter Holt, Usman Khawaja, Saqib Mahmood (England), Nathan McAndrew, Alex Ross, Daniel Sams, Jason Sangha, Tanveer Sangha, Chris Tremain, Sam Whiteman

In Saqib Mahmood, Sam Whiteman
Out Callum Ferguson, Adam Milne, Arjun Nair

Last season Fourth
Led by a red-hot Alex Hales, the big-hitting Thunder appeared the team to beat after winning four of their first matches. But their balance suffered when allrounder Daniel Sams missed a few matches due to a concussion and the Thunder’s form nosedived. They were able to steady the ship, largely due to Hales’ virtuoso batting, to finish third on the ladder. It proved a false dawn with the Thunder falling to Brisbane Heat in the knockout to end an unfulfilled season.

International impact
It’s a fairly settled line-up although new skipper Khawaja may be Ashes bound as he battles Travis Head for Australia’s No. 5 spot. Saqib Mahmood will be absent in the early stages after being named in the England Lions squad and the rising quick along with Sam Billings may be part of England’s tour of the Caribbean, which starts during the latter stages of the BBL.

Player to watch
Alex Hales lit up BBL10 with a tournament best 543 runs at 38.78 and a strike rate of 161.60 – replicating similar dizzying stats from the season prior. There isn’t much bowlers can do when Hales is on song as champions Sydney Sixers can attest to after being on the receiving end of the Englishman’s remarkable 55-ball 110 in the Thunder’s record total of 5 for 232. But his participation in the upcoming tournament was under threat after photos of Hales in blackface emerged and he was also implicated in the racism scandal engulfing English cricket. He has, however, kept his BBL contract and will hope to make headlines on-field rather than off it.

Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)
Thunder were the best batting unit in the last edition. They went at a run rate of 8.98 in the competition that was made possible due to a strong performance in the powerplays. They had a run rate of 10.16 in the powerplay overs, which was the tournament’s best.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth



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WI in PAK Nicholas Pooran Shai Hope to lead West Indies in Pakistan after injury forces Kieron Pollard out

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Powell added to T20I squad, Thomas named ODI replacement

Kieron Pollard will not travel to Pakistan for the ODI and T20I series tour that starts next week after failing to recover from a hamstring injury that he picked up at the T20 World Cup. In his absence, Nicholas Pooran will be T20I captain and Shai Hope will be ODI captain. Pollard has been replaced by allrounder Rovman Powell for the T20Is and wicketkeeper-batter Devon Thomas for the ODIs.

A CWI statement said that Pollard will undergo rehabilitation work in Trinidad and will be reassessed in a few weeks ahead of the upcoming home tours against Ireland and England in January 2022.

This will be the first time Hope will be ODI captain and has a challenge ahead. The three ODIs are part of the World Cup Super League competition where West Indies are eighth on the points table with four wins in nine ODIs. However, a 3-0 ODI series sweep will lift West Indies to third.

Pollard’s experience will be missed in the West Indies contingent which is light on experience. None of Jason Holder, Andre Russell, Evin Lewis or Shimron Hetmyer are part of the squads. The ODI squad is instead full of inexperienced but promising players like Justin Greaves, Shamarh Brooks, Gudakesh Motie and Odean Smith while the T20I squad includes Dominic Drakes and Motie.

West Indies have had a positive run when Pooran has stood-in as captain. Under his leadership, West Indies recently defeated Australia 4-1 in home conditions earlier this year. Hope will be his T20I team vice-captain while Pooran will be the ODI team deputy.

All six games against Pakistan will be played in Karachi. The first T20I is on December 13 while the final ODI is on December 22.

ODI squad: Shai Hope (captain), Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Justin Greaves, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Gudakesh Motie, Anderson Phillip, Nicholas Pooran, Raymon Reifer, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Hayden Walsh Jr, Devon Thomas

T20I squad: Nicholas Pooran (captain), Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Dominic Drakes, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motie, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Rovman Powell



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BBL11 2021-22 – Brisbane Heat look for stability under Jimmy Peirson

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Their spinners were excellent last season while there are high hopes for import Tom Abell

Squad
Tom Abell (England), Xavier Bartlett, James Bazley, Max Bryant, Tom Cooper, Ben Duckett (England), Sam Heazlett, Matthew Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Chris Lynn, Michael Neser, Jimmy Peirson, Mark Steketee, Connor Sully, Mitchell Swepson Jack Wildermuth, Matt Willians, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan)

In Tom Abell, Ben Duckett, Michael Neser (Strikers), Connor Sully
Out Joe Burns (Stars), Lewis Gregory, Ben Laughlin, Dan Lawrence, Simon Milenko, Morne Morkel, Jack Wood

Last season Challenger

Another underwhelming season appeared to be on the cards for Heat after winning just one of their first five games as they lost skipper Chris Lynn to a hamstring injury. But with Jimmy Peirson taking the reins, the rejuvenated Heat lit a fuse and headed into the playoffs as an outside title threat boosted by the dazzling return of Test star Marnus Labuschagne. They lived up to the billing with impressive wins over Strikers and Thunder, where their explosive batting order calmly chased down totals. But they were blown away in the challenger by a rampaging Perth Scorchers to fall short of the final and cap off an inconsistent season.
International impact
Heat could be hit hard by key absences, testing their depth and resolve. Lauschagne will miss most of the tournament due to the Ashes while prized recruit Michael Neser, Mitchell Swepson and Mark Steketee are set to miss at least the start of the season due to Ashes and Australia A selections. Tom Abell will be absent at the start due to commitments with England Lions while hard-hitting English batter Ben Duckett will make his BBL debut after starring in the Hundred and is likely to be available for the entire tournament, so too Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

Player to watch
BBL10 started slowly for destructive batter Chris Lynn, a headline act over the years and two-time Player of the Tournament. After being sidelined by a hamstring injury, the 31-year-old relished a move to the top of the order and finished with 458 runs at a strike rate of 154.73. With Peirson enjoying success as stand-in skipper, Lynn decided to step aside from the captaincy duties in the off-season after three years at the helm to focus on his batting. He was patchy in the Hundred, but a return to his favored BBL – and without the strains of captaincy – could fuel a resurgence for the six-hitting machine.

Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)
With a bowling average of 17.81 Brisbane Heat’s spinners were the best in the competition last time around by a mile. Mujeeb, Swepson, Labuschagne stole the show taking 33 wickets among them although they may need Matt Kuhnemann to fill some of the holes this season.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth



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