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Yorkshire racism crisis – Moeen Ali hopes that Yorkshire crisis can lead to lasting change

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England allrounder praises Azeem Rafiq for encouraging others to share experiences

Moeen Ali hopes that the short-term pain of the ongoing racism crisis at Yorkshire can have long-term benefits for the whole of English cricket, as he welcomed the chance for the sport to embrace true diversity and “open up those avenues for everybody”.
Speaking from the UAE, where England are preparing to face New Zealand in the T20 World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, Moeen said that he had “never felt discriminated against” like Azeem Rafiq at Yorkshire, but said that his bravery in speaking out was likely to encourage others to come forward too.

“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised but there’s probably more stories out there that people haven’t heard of,” Moeen said. “The fact it’s come out is great because, going forward, people [will] have to think about what they can or can’t say in terms of discriminating against people and knowing what people feel and go through.”

Rafiq’s original testimony in 2020 included an admission that his treatment at Yorkshire had left him “on the brink of suicide“, and Moeen believes that his honesty will have helped to break a major taboo when it comes to addressing such issues within dressing rooms.

“Azeem’s talked a lot about his mental health and I think that’s really, really important,” Moeen said. “I think the most important thing is that people who do suffer with mental health are really being looked after in this situation.

“What Azeem has done, he is not doing it for any personal gain, I think he wants change and that’s what he’s pushing for.

“It’s not banter at the end of the day,” he said of the use of the word “P**i”, the slur that Rafiq’s team-mate Gary Ballance last week admitted he had used to address him. “We’ve got to be really careful with the language that we use. The environment is really important, because when the environment is right, that sort of language doesn’t come out.”

Moeen added that Rafiq’s experiences at Yorkshire had become part of an “open discussion” within the England dressing room, which he praised for its inclusive values – perhaps most memorably articulated after the 2019 World Cup victory, when Eoin Morgan, the captain, said that “Allah had been with us” in the tense final against New Zealand.

Morgan’s comment was a reference to the two Muslim players in England’s white-ball squad – Moeen and Adil Rashid, who also plays for Yorkshire – while the current squad also includes players of Caribbean and Southern African heritage, as well as Morgan himself, who played for his native Ireland until 2007.

“It’s been talked about quite a lot actually,” Moeen said. “It’s about having an open discussion, and to be learning as well as a team, about what we can do to change those mindsets, and how comfortable we want people to be when they come into this environment, no matter where they’re from, what they do, or any background that they have.

“Everybody has a story in our changing room about their own background and it helps with people coming from all different parts of the world as well,” he added. “Massive credit goes to the coaches and Eoin Morgan for really pushing it so that everybody’s just normal with each other. It just feels like home to be honest with you.”

Nevertheless, during the summer, England’s Test team experienced a similar reckoning to the ongoing one at Yorkshire, when Ollie Robinson’s debut at Lord’s in June became overshadowed by a series of offensive tweets that he had posted in his early years as a professional. While Moeen admitted that the fall-out from that episode had been ugly, he felt that it too would prove to have been a positive experience in the long run.

“I think a lot of players have learned from the Ollie Robinson situation and I think it’s made people more aware of things that they probably weren’t aware of before,” he said. “It doesn’t look great right now, but hopefully in the future, it will make a massive impact and that’s what we want.

“Sometimes you need to have a bit of a dip to really come out. That’s from Yorkshire’s point of view as well as the whole cricket community and culture. There’s going to be big changes. I know one thing the ECB has always [done] since I’ve been playing is to try and really push those boundaries and open up those avenues for everybody, really.

“We’re a multicultural country where diversity is rife and that’s what we want. We don’t want to have to go through what we’re going through right now again, in five years’ time, 10 years’ time.”

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket



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Aus vs Eng, Men’s Ashes, 2021-22 – Tim Paine working through ‘deep challenges’

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Although out for two low scores he came through his return to play

The priority of Tasmania coach Ali de Winter has been Tim Paine‘s welfare as he prepares to help the wicketkeeper take another significant step towards the first Ashes Test.

Paine, who underwent neck surgery in September, will bat at No. 3 on Friday while playing his first game for Tasmania since April. The one-dayer against Western Australia in Hobart comes after a low-key return for Tasmania’s 2nd XI at Lindisfarne Oval, where Paine was out for 1 and 7.

The one-day game will also mark one week since Paine tearfully resigned as Australia’s Test skipper amid revelations of an explicit text-message episode in 2017.

De Winter, the state’s interim head coach, can’t wait to welcome Paine back but noted cricket has not been the focus of recent conversations with the disgraced wicketkeeper.

“I’ve known Tim since he was 13 years old, [it’s about] making sure that he’s okay in all of this,” de Winter told reporters in Hobart. “His own health through this is first and foremost.

“He’s obviously having some deep challenges but I think having good people around him and his cricket mates is the best tonic he can have, aside from his family. He’s got that ability to just have a fine focus and keep things externally out that can affect his cricket. He’s been very good at doing that.

“That would have been the biggest challenge I sense, for him to be able to shut that out knowing the spotlight was on.”

De Winter added the support for Paine throughout Tasmania’s squad had been “overwhelming”.

“We’re rallying around in strong support of Tim because we know people are fallible,” he said. “People make mistakes. We also know deep down the kind of person Tim Paine is.”

Paine finished this week’s four-day match with nine catches but, far more importantly, navigated his return without any obvious setback.

“He’s managed himself through this game quite well. He’s a little bit heavy in the legs, having had a couple of days in the field,” de Winter said. But that was the expectation.”



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Recent Match Report – Gladiators vs Braves 3rd Match 2021/22

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The duo put on a match-winning unbeaten stand of 94 off just 32 balls to get Deccan Gladiators’ campaign off to a winning start

“To bat with someone like him just gives you so much confidence and freedom to just go and try and express yourself.”

Those were the words of 25-year-old Tom Moores, the Deccan Gladiators wicketkeeper-batter, after he and Andre Russell put on 94 for the fourth wicket in just 32 deliveries to get their campaign off to a winning start against Chennai Braves in the Abu Dhabi T10.

When the pair came together, the Gladiators had been stuttering, having managed just one six in the first five overs. But Moores and Russell bludgeoned nine of them in the remainder of the innings to catapult the Gladiators to a match-winning total of 146. Both faced just 17 balls each.

Asked what the conversation was like between the two when they were in the middle, Moores, who plays for Nottinghamshire, replied, “Who could hit the biggest six…? Which, obviously, I knew I was gonna lose. We had a bit of fun, it wasn’t too serious at all, which really helped me just relax and be confident. We were just having a smile and enjoying it. And that’s what we talked about, to have fun, to enjoy our cricket. Every game we play we’re really lucky to be doing it.”

Since Russell’s arrival, at No. 5, the pair dictated the pace of the innings, wresting momentum from the Braves, who had started well by removing Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Tom Banton and Anwar Ali in the first 4.4 overs. Russell got off the mark with something of an uncharacteristic stroke: a delicate cut played with soft hands past third man. But he needed no invitation to launch one over midwicket when Dasun Shanaka gave him a delivery right in the slot.

The next over, the legspin of Samiullah Shinwari got the treatment as Russell hammered him for two consecutive sixes. By the end of the seventh, he had walloped to 31 off 11, while Moores was on a run-a-ball five.

Moores was fortunate not to run himself out off the second delivery he faced as Munaf Patel failed to collect the ball at the bowler’s end. He made his luck count, smashing Dhananjaya Lakshan for two huge sixes and bringing up the team hundred with a whack over long-on. Curtis Campher – who took four wickets in four deliveries at this ground for Ireland during the recently concluded T20 World Cup – was also dispatched for 26 as the Gladiators amassed 80 runs between the sixth and ninth overs. Russell was on 42 off 15, while Moores had got himself up to 39 off 13.

“To bat some time with Dre who has done that time and time again… he’s the best at doing that, so to watch him and have the best seat in the house was great,” Moores said. “Someone like him has helped me a lot. I knew him a little bit from playing back home for Notts and he’s someone who has done this time and time again. So he was just giving me tips and bits of advice here and there. To be honest, I was just trying to keep up with him.”

Moores, in fact, went one better, as he hit another six, off Ravi Bopara, in the final over to go past Russell’s unbeaten 43 off 17 and set the highest team score of the season so far. He finished on an unbeaten 47 off 17 and took home the Player-of-the-Match honour.

In the end, despite a valiant effort from the Braves, with Angelo Perera and Bopara both scoring half-centuries, they fell 24 runs short of the target. Their tally of four sixes across their ten overs was dwarfed by the ten that the Gladiators managed, and Moores underscored that six-hitting is even more pivotal in this format of the game.

“We did talk about six-hitting ability,” he said. “Those extra two runs do add up. If you compare the two scores, those extra twos can change a game and be the difference. Having someone like Dre in your team, he’s naturally gonna clear the ropes and all the rest of us need to just do our thing and hit as many as we can.”



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Recent Match Report – India vs New Zealand 1st Test 2021/22

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Both sides pick three spinners each

Toss India chose to bat vs New Zealand

On a clear morning in Kanpur, India captain Ajinkya Rahane won the toss and chose to bat in the first Test against New Zealand.

Rahane’s expectation was for the pitch to play “slow and low”, and both teams picked three spinners, hinting that they expected plenty of turn at some stage too.

One of New Zealand’s three spinners was a debutant, Rachin Ravindra, who bats left-handed and bowls left-arm orthodox. He pipped Mitchell Santner, suggesting New Zealand wanted a batting allrounder rather than a bowling allrounder to support frontline spinners Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville. The two seam-bowling slots, meanwhile, went to Kyle Jamison and Tim Southee, with the left-armer Neil Wagner left out.
Despite the absence of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, India went in with just five specialist batters including the debutant Shreyas Iyer. Wriddhiman Saha returned as keeper for the first time since the Adelaide Test of December 2020, while Axar Patel joined R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the spin attack. India went with the experience of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav in the pace department, leaving out Mohammed Siraj.

India: 1 Mayank Agarwal, 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Ajinkya Rahane (capt), 5 Shreyas Iyer, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Axar Patel, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Ishant Sharma.

New Zealand: 1 Tom Latham, 2 Will Young, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 Tom Blundell (wk), 7 Rachin Ravindra, 8 Kyle Jamieson, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Will Somerville, 11 Ajaz Patel.

Karthik Iyer is on ESPNcricinfo’s multi-platform-content team



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