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CSA 4-day franchise series – Lutho Sipamla’s six-for sets up innings win for Lions

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He provided a timely reminder of his red-ball credentials with a Test summer looming

Lutho Sipamla was one of three bowlers to pick up a six-for in the match as Lions beat Warriors by an innings and 20 runs to move to the top of the first-class points table.
Sipamla took 6 for 34 as Warriors were bowled out for 96 in their first innings, before Marco Jansen took 6 for 38, as Lions were dismissed for 170. Then Sisanda Magala‘s 6 for 30 knocked the Warriors over for just 54 on an unusually bowler-friendly St George’s Park strip. There were no individual scores of 40 or more in the match.

“We don’t usually get such seamer-friendly conditions at this venue,” Sipamla, who moved from Warriors to Lions two seasons ago, told ESPNcricinfo. “The pitch gave us a lot. It wasn’t drastic movement and we just had to be very consistent with where we put the ball.”

The result is that Sipamla is now the top wicket-taker in Division One of the competition with 12 wickets from the two matches he has played so far, at an average of 13.50, and has provided a timely reminder of his red-ball credentials with a Test summer looming. South Africa host India for three Tests, starting in mid-December at Sipamla’s new home ground, the Wanderers, where he last played for the senior side earlier this year. He made his debut last summer, in the series against Sri Lanka, where he took 10 wickets across two Tests but then found himself on the sidelines.

“It’s tough with the national set up with KG (Kagiso Rabada), Anna (Anrich Nortje) and Lungi (Ngidi) all fit,” ” Sipamla said. “Last year, I got the opportunity because there was an injury (Rabada was recovering from a groin strain) and I took it with both hands, played well. Then, the senior players came back and just made things tough. I was part of the Test series with Pakistan as well but couldn’t get game time because its’ tough competition. But I am still in the system and am focusing on the Lions.”

After traveling with the national side to Pakistan in January-February but was then not included on their winter tour to West Indies. Instead, he went with the South African A team to Zimbabwe where he got game time and finished as their third-highest wicket-taker in the one-day series and second highest in the curtailed unofficial Test series. Now, he is one of the leaders of Lions’ attack, albeit the most inexperienced in age terms, and is relishing the time with former Test player Duanne Olivier, and experienced domestic campaigners, Sisanda Magala and Malusi Siboto.

“I am the youngest among the four so I am learning a lot,” Sipamla said. “My move to the Lions was to try and get as much exposure to senior players as I can. I am trying to be a sponge and it’s helping me a lot.”

His new-ball partner, Olivier, has instilled in Sipamla an appreciation for the present moment. “He has taught me about mental toughness and also aggression. He focuses on the now and the task at hand. Opening the bowling with him has allowed me to be calmer, and just see what’s necessary at that moment in time,” he said, while Magala helps Sipamla find his fight. “He is also another aggressive type of bowler. He is fit, he is strong and he adds a lot of value in terms of seniority.”

Although Sipamla does not have specific boxes to tick to catch the national selectors’ eyes again, he is working on, “trying to keep things a lot tighter and to have more control on where I place the ball,” he said. “And working on the mental side of the game.” He recognises that the “Proteas are on the up,”and is happy to bide his time until he is reconsidered. That may be sooner than he expects, though. South Africa have a heavy Test load over the coming months with the India series, a tour to New Zealand and matches against Bangladesh in the home summer before a tour to England in August.

In other results:

Division One:

  • Pite van Biljon scored a second successive century, sits atop the overall run charts and set Knights up for a big win over North West. Knights scored 418 in their first innings, thanks for van Biljon and Patrick Kruger‘s 192* and then bowled North West out for 237 and asking them to follow-on. North West were then bowled out for 197, leaving the Knights with a target of 17 runs. Mbulelo Budaza took 6 for 116 in the match.
  • Titans and Dolphins played out a high-scoring draw at SuperSport Park. Jordan Hermann scored a century for the Titans, Sarel Erwee matched that with 163 to give the Dolphins a slender lead and the Titans were into their second innings, 117 runs ahead, when a final day washout meant no further play was possible.
  • In Paarl, Boland drew with neighbours Western Province with former Test opener Pieter Malan the star of the show. Malan followed up a first innings 96 with 117* in the second innings. In between that, Western Province’s Tony de Zorzi also scored a century.
  • Division Two:

  • Offspinner Aubrey Swanepoel‘s 6 for 42 bowled Northern Cape to a 130-run win over KwaZulu-Natal Inland in Kimberley. Northern Cape scored big in both their innings, making 333 in the first dig and declared on 301 for 9 in the second, where Ernest Kemm scored 121. Four of Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland’s top five reached first innings half-centuries but they were bowled out for 182 in their second innings in chase of 313.
  • Musawenkosi Twala and Thomas Hobson traded hundreds in Benoni, where Easterns and Limpopo drew their match. Easterns racked up 441 in their first innings and bowled Limpopo out for 261 and enforced the follow-on. Easterns only took three second innings wickets and Limpopo finished on 207 for 3.
  • No play on the first day and bad light on the last ended what was shaping up to be a thriller between South Western Districts (SWD) and Mpumalanga, which finished with SWD 41 runs away from victory. They were chasing 206 after falling 102 runs behind in their first innings and then bowling Mpumalanga out for 104. SWD were on track for victory on 166 for 2 when no further play was possible.
  • Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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    More WBBL matches could move to primetime as viewership hits new records

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    The crowd for the final in Perth set a new benchmark for a standalone WBBL match

    A WBBL final which brought a record crowd and record TV ratings could herald a shift towards more primetime matches in the future as the tournament looks to its next stage of evolution.

    Perth Scorchers claimed the title on Saturday in front of 15,511 spectators at Optus Stadium which set a new benchmark for a standalone WBBL match. It also had the largest average broadcast audience in the competition’s history with 535,000 put it ahead of the 2018-19 final which was played ahead of a day of men’s Test cricket.

    This was the first season where every match was available on television and overall CA said it was the most-watched edition. While Alistair Dobson, the general manager of Big Bash Leagues, believes the weekend festivals, which see multiple matches at the same venue, will continue to be an important part of the tournament there will be a push to exploit more evening time slots.

    “Ultimately the ambition was of getting every game on TV and we were really thankful we could do that this year,” Dobson told ESPNcricinfo. “The next evolution is to optimise those blockbusters and there’s an opportunity for us to explore more primetime matches, whether that’s Thursday or Friday nights, and working with our broadcasters to build up some big annual marquee matches which I think is the obvious next step for the competition.”

    The new finals structure, which gave the team who finished top of the regular season direct entry into the final, meant there was a week to promote the match in Perth.

    “I think it worked exactly how we intended to give us a full week’s build-up but also rightfully rewarding the team that finished first with the biggest advantage which we felt was warranted,” Dobson said. “The atmosphere and noise just showed how passionate the fans are and think the quality of the game did it justice as well.

    The season started in a Tasmania-based hub due to border restrictions in Australia and barring a brief lockdown in Hobart was played without significant problems although two major markets – Melbourne and Sydney – were unable to stage games.

    “Firstly just being able to play and getting all eight teams together in Tasmania was no mean feat,” Dobson said. “But then the quality of the cricket throughout, the quality of the overseas players, it was amazing to have such a great group of Indian players, they brought a whole new dimension, alongside all the other players.

    “Matched by the depth of talent in Australia, a lot of the really big household names were easily matched by a lot of players we are all getting to know a lot better.

    “In reinforces the WBBL as the No.1 cricket league for women and it’s really important we maintain that position in the future.”



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    Recent Match Report – South Aust vs Queensland 10th Match 2021/22

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    Renshaw hammered 156 from 109 balls after Gurinder Sandhu’s hat-trick had restricted the home side

    Queensland 4 for 275 (Renshaw 156*, Bryant 68) beat South Australia 274 (Carey 101, Sandhu 4-44) by six wickets

    Ashes hopeful Alex Carey blasted a century for South Australia in a timely return to batting form but it wasn’t enough to prevent a six-wicket loss to Queensland in their one-day clash at Adelaide Oval.
    Carey top-scored for his side with 101 from 93 balls and combined with Henry Hunt (61) for a record-breaking 159-run opening stand before Gurinder Sandhu‘s second career hat-trick helped Queensland bowl out the hosts for 274.
    Matt Renshaw, who is part of the Australia A squad, anchored the Bulls’ run chase with a career-best unbeaten 156 from 109 balls and received good support from Max Bryant (68), with the pair putting on 177 for the fourth wicket.

    It was Queensland’s second win from four matches in the one-day competition this season, while South Australia are struggling with a 1-3 record.

    In the mix to replace former captain Tim Paine as Australia’s Test gloveman at the Gabba next month, Carey had failed to reach double figures in any of his previous six innings for the Redbacks this season.

    He made a patient start to his innings before blasting his second 50 in just 30 balls, charging to his second one-day century of the season. He smashed a huge slog-sweep six off Marnus Labuschagne but was eventually bowled by the part-time legspinner when attempting to cut a delivery that wasn’t quite as short as he had expected.

    Queensland quick Sandhu finished with 4 for 44 from his nine overs, with Matt Kuhnemann also impressing as the final six South Australia wickets fell in the space of just 15 balls.

    Like Carey, Travis Head was hoping to impress national selectors, but he was dropped twice before his luck ran out on 29, caught by Mark Steketee off Kuhnemann.

    Queensland’s run chase began slowly and they were in trouble early when Test squad members Usman Khawaja and Labuschagne fell cheaply. Labuschagne departed in stunning fashion when he was run out by Hunt’s direct hit from a tough angle.

    But Renshaw’s composed knock steered the Bulls home. Featuring 15 fours and five sixes, his century came from 91 balls with his third fifty taking just 16 deliveries as he plundered Wes Agar.



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    Abu Dhabi T10, 2021 – Phil Salt, Tom Banton show off their credentials

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    Across a weekend of triple-headers, there has been an exhibition of opening batting on display

    Across a weekend of triple-headers at the Abu Dhabi T10, there has been an exhibition of opening batting on display. No doubt, the shorter boundaries have helped, especially in a format whereby the risk of losing a wicket is also considerably less.

    Nevertheless, it has still required an absolute clinic of hitting. On Saturday, Moeen Ali struck 77* off 23 and Kennar Lewis 65* off 32 for the highest partnership in T10 history, racing to a target of 146 without losing a wicket. Then the Bangla Tigers and the Deccan Gladiators chased down scores of 90 and 95 respectively, with almost half their overs remaining. Hazratullah Zazai, with 46* off 16 and Tom Banton, with 46 off 18, the pick of the bunch.
    Phil Salt missed out on Saturday due to a slight knock, but on Sunday he cashed in once again. The Team Abu Dhabi opener carried on his rich run of form with a devastating knock of 63 from 20 deliveries to confirm their spot in the play-offs. Salt’s half-century in 15 balls trumped Moeen’s 16-ball effort as the fastest of the tournament.

    If there was any doubt as to whether the injury could have affected him, Salt erased it instantly. In the first over of the chase, he blasted 21 runs off the five deliveries he faced, clipping away his first and last ball from Nuwan Pradeep to the boundary, and smashing two sixes in between.

    In a tournament with some of the biggest names in world cricket, Salt has been one of the standout players. The game he was injured in and the game he missed subsequently have been the only two games that Team Abu Dhabi have lost this season.

    Across the seven games he’s played, Salt has scored 237 runs at a strike rate of 237. Only Rovman Powell of the Northern Warriors stands above Salt with 267 runs, albeit he has played a game more.

    Amongst anyone who has scored at least 100 runs in the Abu Dhabi T10, no batter possesses a better strike rate than Salt. In fact, no one has scored more boundaries than his 17 fours and 21 sixes.

    Salt may be the star so far, but he insists that continuously working on the mental side of the game is crucial to his development and he has relished the chance to pick the brains of players like Chris Gayle.

    “Something you do when you’re playing well is that you pick your areas based on instinct” Salt said. “Chris Gayle, I’ve chewed his ear off. He’s got so many tools that I want to add to my game… The most impressive thing and a few guys have it, is that ruthless mentality that someone like Chris has, in the way he takes the game on.

    “If I can just keep tapping into things like that, the biggest improvements to be made and the lessons to be learnt are from those guys, in terms of how they deal with the game upstairs.”

    Asked where he sees himself across formats domestically and internationally, Salt said: “It’s something I used to struggle with, really wanting to get on to the next stage. I still do want it just as bad, but I’m very aware now that the only way to get there is to take it day by day by day. I know that’s a really boring answer, but I’ve found that’s the most effective way to improve and not get ahead of myself.”

    Salt’s tale bears a hint of similarity with that of Banton, whose unbeaten 46 against Delhi Bulls included seven fours and two sixes. Two players brimming with talent, with aspirations to regularly represent their country, yet coming to an understanding with their opportunities and their experiences thus far, that ultimately it is something that will find its way, rather than something that can be chased.

    Whilst Salt made his international bow in perhaps fortuitous circumstances with three ODIs against Pakistan, Banton was unfortunately part of the England playing group that was forced to isolate before that series.

    Banton was the breakout star of 2019 and an England call-up followed – he was part of Eoin Morgan’s white-ball set-up for the best part of a year between November 2019 and September 2020 – yet bubble life and quarantine took its toll on him.

    A blistering 47-ball century in the T20 Blast against Kent served as a reminder of his ability, but a second-ball duck in the final against the same opposition summed up a somewhat disappointing and challenging year in which he was also released by Kolkata Knight Riders.

    “I had quite a big break. For the whole of October, I didn’t play any cricket – nothing whatsoever. I just lived a social life and saw a lot of friends and family, which I felt was quite important, and now I feel like I’m enjoying it again,” said Banton.

    “I’d love to get back in the squad but I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself to be there next year. I just want to enjoy my cricket and I think if you’re in that headspace, the rest will take care of itself.”

    For the pair of them, knowing that Morgan is around, will no doubt add some extra motivation as the Abu Dhabi T10 enters its final week.



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