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Men’s T20 World Cup – Kane Williamson wary of England’s depth despite Jason Roy, Tymal Mills absence

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Hails senior bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee for their adjustments in the UAE

Both Trent Boult and Tim Southee didn’t get a game in the 2016 T20 World Cup in India, with New Zealand packing their attack with spin and preferring the hit-the-deck style of Mitchell McClenaghan. Five years later, both Boult and Southee have played crucial roles in New Zealand’s progress to the semi-finals from a group that included three Asian sides – Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

Boult is currently the joint second-highest wicket-taker in the competition with 11 wickets in five matches at an economy rate of 5.84. Southee has got four fewer wickets than Boult, but his economy of 5.70 is the best among seamers who have bowled at least 20 overs in the tournament. Williamson hailed their contributions to an attack that is without the injured Lockie Ferguson.

“Yeah, they’ve been brilliant,” Williamson said. “They’ve been involved with the team in all formats over a long period of time and really experienced operators for us and experience in terms of playing in all different conditions and executing their skills beautifully and performing their roles to the highest standard. They’ve been doing a fantastic job for us, really leading our attack who have been performing well and adjusting well to the different surfaces we’ve been on and a real strength in our side.”

In the 2016 T20 World Cup semi-final in Delhi, Jason Roy belted 78 off 40 balls to knock New Zealand out. He has now been ruled out of the rest of England’s ongoing campaign, as has been left-arm seamer Tymal Mills, but Williamson is still wary of England’s incredible depth in white-ball cricket.

“They’re both big players for England,” Williamson said. “It’s a real shame that they have suffered injuries in this competition. But I think one of the strengths as well of the England side is their depth that they’ve managed to produce over a period of time. And having spent some time at the Birmingham Phoenix and being sort of a little bit involved in that 100-ball comp, you can tell that there’s a huge amount of talent throughout. They’re still very much a very strong side who have been playing some really good cricket.

“Whenever there’s an injury, there’s someone else who comes in and you’re not to know who they are until the toss. But you try to prepare and plan as best you can and then when you go out there, you’re sort of competing in the moment. And that’s kind of all that matters then. But Jason’s a big player for England and has been playing really nicely and getting the team off to good starts along with Jos [Buttler]. But, as I mentioned, the depth on the England side is one of their strengths and we’ll try and plan accordingly to the best of our ability. But largely [we] want to focus on the sort of cricket we want to play as a group and keep developing on that as we’ve been doing throughout this tournament.”

Williamson’s niggly elbow had prevented him from playing for Birmingham Phoenix at the inaugural Hundred, but he did spend some time there as the side’s mentor. Having watched Liam Livingstone’s brutal power-hitting from close quarters at the Phoenix, Williamson identified the batting allrounder as one of the threats but backed New Zealand to find a way.

“Look, they’ve got match-winners throughout their team and that’s been a big, I suppose, movement of their white-ball side,” Williamson said. “Sort of power-packed and bat deep as well. I spent a little bit of time with Liam at the Birmingham Phoenix and he played superbly well throughout that 100-ball competition, so there are a number of threats and a number of match-winners. We also have a number of match-winners as well and at the end of the day it’s about committing to what you do as a team and we both do it a little bit differently.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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IPL 2022 – MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Andre Russell retained; KL Rahul, Rashid Khan leave

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As the deadline for player retention ahead of IPL 2022 wound down on Tuesday, a total of 27 players were retained by the eight existing franchises. Overall, the franchises spent INR 269 crore to hold on to these 27 players, which includes 19 Indians – four of them uncapped – and eight foreigners.

Many of the big-ticket players, including MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Glenn Maxwell were retained. But there were some major names missing in the 27, too. Seeing that there was a cap of four players that each team could retain, the list of players released – quite a few of them opted to be released, and go back into the auction pool – was a long one. Like Rashid Khan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Shikhar Dhawan, R Ashwin, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar… Here’s a team-wise look at how the teams look, and an attempt at explaining the teams’ thinking.

NOTE: Teams that have retained four players have spent INR 42 crore (INR 16 crore + INR 12 crore + INR 8 crore + INR 4 crore) from their purse; the number for three retentions is INR 33m crore (15 + 11 + 7), for two it is INR 24 crore (14 and 10), and for one, it is INR 14 crore.

Chennai Super Kings

Retained: Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni, Moeen Ali, Ruturaj Gaikwad

MS Dhoni was the first name the defending champions wanted on their list, alongside that of Ravindra Jadeja, who has been with the franchise since 2011.

The point of discussion concerning Dhoni was which place he should take on the retention list. Dhoni wanted the lowest of the four rungs. The Super Kings, meanwhile, felt placing him as the top player made more sense, as it would swell their purse ahead of the next auction in case he decided to retire after the 2022 season.

Eventually, Dhoni took the second spot, with Jadeja, at INR 16 crore, the first retention.

It was the third slot that was the most debated, with Moeen Ali pitted against Faf du Plessis. It could not be confirmed whether it was Moeen’s all-round skills that swung the scales his way, or whether du Plessis wanted a higher price than the INR 6 crore slotted for the third spot.

Ruturaj Gaikwad, who in 2021 became the second player after Robin Uthappa (for Kolkata Knight Riders in 2014) to win the Orange Cap for most runs in an IPL season while also being part of the title-winning team, was a unanimous choice as the fourth. It has been learnt that the Super Kings have earmarked the Maharashtra and India batter as a future captain too.

Major players released: Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Suresh Raina, Deepak Chahar

Delhi Capitals

Retained: Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Prithvi Shaw, Anrich Nortje

Delhi Capitals have made the playoffs the last three seasons under Ricky Ponting, who has always been keen to promote young talent. All the four players retained – Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Prithvi Shaw and Anrich Nortje – have been matchwinners for the Capitals more than once over the last two years, and staved off rhe competition easily. It has been learnt that the franchise saw the quartet as the core group around which the rest of the unit could be assembled during the auction.

The absence of Shreyas Iyer is likely to be a talking point, but once the Capitals had retained Pant as the captain for the 2021 season, Iyer’s position for the next season was not certain. Iyer himself would obviously have captaincy ambitions, and with more than one team still looking for a leader, he felt he was better off going into the auction.

Major players released: Shreyas Iyer, Avesh Khan, R Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada

Kolkata Knight Riders

Retained: Andre Russell, Varun Chakravarthy, Venkatesh Iyer, Sunil Narine

All the four players Kolkata Knight Riders have retained would have likely found a lot of takers in an auction. Their retentions highlight the importance of supporting players (Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy) who have been with them, and also promoting a young talent (Venkatesh Iyer).

While Russell and Narine have been loyal Knight Riders players for a while, and relatively quick to sign fresh contracts, it is learnt that Chakravarthy and Iyer were keen to bargain for better financial packages. In the end, the franchise managed to convince the two that the Knight Riders could offer them a platform where they could play a more dominant role to help with their ambition.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Knight Riders’ chief executive officer Venky Mysore said that leaving out Shubman Gill was a tough choice, but the franchise felt Iyer and Chakravarthy possessed skills that are not easily found in the auction.

Major players released: Eoin Morgan, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik, Lockie Ferguson

Mumbai Indians

Retained: Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard

Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah were once again the top two retentions, just like four seasons ago. The two other slots were where Mumbai Indians are understood to have waited until the last minute, before making a decision.

The third slot went to Suryakumar Yadav, who topped Ishan Kishan in the mind of the decision makers. It has been learnt that the team management felt Kishan had more impact mainly batting in the top order, as opposed to Suryakumar, who is not just a 360-degree batter but also can float around the batting order.

Long-time Mumbai Indians player Kieron Pollard bagged the fourth slot with a price tag of INR 6 crore, which was slightly more than the INR 5.4 crore the franchise bought him for at the 2018 auction using the right-to-match card.

Major players released: Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan Trent Boult, Rahul Chahar

Punjab Kings

Retained: Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh

Having retained just two players, including the uncapped left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh, Punjab Kings will enter the 2022 auction with the strongest purse of INR 72 crore.

While Punjab were understood to have been disappointed after KL Rahul decided to move on, the franchise moved in quickly to start negotiations with Mayank Agarwal, a potential captaincy candidate.

While Agarwal has signed the new contract worth INR 12 crore, Punjab’s auction purse will be deducted by INR 14 crore, the retention amount set by IPL in case only one capped player is retained.

Major players released: KL Rahul, Ravi Bishnoi, Nicholas Pooran

Rajasthan Royals

Retained: Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal

Should Rajasthan Royals have retained Jofra Archer, the player of the 2020 IPL? It was a question that kept the management thinking till almost the last minute. However, Archer was forced to sit out of the 2021 season recuperating from surgery, and it is not known when he would be back playing cricket.

Eventually, the Royals decided to stick with Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler, along with uncapped Indian batter Yashasvi Jaiswal leaving them a healthy purse of INR 62 crore.

Major players released: Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Retained: Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Siraj

As the first of the three players Royal Challengers Bangalore retained, Virat Kohli will get INR 15 crore. Another day, this would have been headline news: Kohli being paid INR 2 crore less than what he got when Royal Challengers retained him ahead of the 2018 auction. But things have changed – Kohli is no more the captain and wants to end his career at the franchise while trying to leave a legacy.

Glenn Maxwell, for the first time in his IPL career, was retained, getting the second slot at Royal Challengers, while Mohammed Siraj was the third.

It might come as a surprise to many, because Siraj was pitted against the trio of Yuzvendra Chahal, Devdutt Padikkal and Harshal Patel.

One key stumbling block here was the low price tag for the fourth player – INR 6 crore – which is likely to have dissuaded the likes of Padikkal and Harshal, who would have preferred a higher price after consistent impact in the last season especially.

The other thinking behind retaining only three players could be that Royal Challengers still don’t have a captain and need a strong auction purse to purchase a high-profile player, ideally Indian.

Major players released: Devdutt Padikkal, Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Retained: Kane Williamson, Abdul Samad, Umran Malik

How did Sunrisers Hyderabad let go of Rashid Khan?

Rashid, it is understood, was the second player the Sunrisers had slotted in behind Kane Williamson, who had also been identified as the captain. Until recently, it was understood that Rashid was keen to renew his contract with the Sunrisers, who had bought him in 2017 and then retained him a year later for INR 9 crore. However, the Afghanistan legspinner was keen to get a better deal.

The Sunrisers have also held on to two uncapped Indian players, both from Jammu & Kashmir, in aggressive batter Abdul Samad and fast bowler Umran Malik, who made his IPL debut this season and turned heads with extreme pace, touching 150kph. Despite Rashid’s absence, one strong element favouring the Sunrisers at the auction is a big purse of INR 68 crore.

Major players released: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo



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County Championship – Alastair Cook commits until 2023 season after Essex contract extension

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Former England captain to remain in game after signing two-year renewal

Alastair Cook will continue to play county cricket at the age of 38 after signing a new two-year contract with Essex.

Cook, England’s all-time leading run-scorer in Test cricket and former captain, signed a three-year deal with Essex upon his retirement from the international game in 2018 and was a key player during their back-to-back red-ball titles in 2019 and 2020, the County Championship followed by the Bob Willis Trophy.

Cook had played down the prospect of an impending retirement at the start of the 2021 season but Essex endured their most turbulent summer in recent memory, failing to qualify for Division One of the Championship, and reports late in the season suggested that he was considering calling time on his career after a dispute with Ronnie Irani, a member of their board and the chair of their cricket committee.
But following Irani’s departure from the club in mid-October and John Stephenson’s appointment as chief executive, Cook has decided to play on, with Essex announcing on Tuesday that he had signed a contract for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.



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County Championship comes in from the margins in rejigged 2022 schedule

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More red-ball cricket in height of summer, but full fixtures to come in new year

A greater proportion of County Championship fixtures will be played in midsummer in 2022 as the ECB look to provide better preparation for England’s Test players and respond to supporters’ frustrations about the perceived marginalisation of the four-day competition.

There were only two rounds of Championship fixtures staged between June 6 and August 30 – both in early July – in 2021, with the prime months of the men’s domestic summer, which was dominated by limited-overs cricket in the form of the Vitality Blast, the Royal London Cup and the Hundred.

But following constant criticism of the schedule, not least during England’s Test series against India which saw senior players complaining that their preparation had been compromised, there are set to be three rounds of Championship games staged in July next summer and at least one more in June.

England’s leading players are still expected to appear in the early stages of the Hundred immediately before their Test series against South Africa on August 17, but will have the opportunity to play a substantial chunk of Championship cricket in the first four months of the summer. Players close to selection but not in the final XI for the series against New Zealand in June will also be able to press their cases for inclusion in county cricket.

County members will also welcome the news that two rounds of Championship cricket will be played in the final weeks of July, between T20 Blast Finals Day on July 16 and the start of the Hundred in early August. “It’s a big thing that there’s more County Championship cricket being played in midsummer,” one county chief executive told ESPNcricinfo. “It is progress amid all the complexities to have a bit of red-ball cricket in the back half of July and the school summer holidays.”

Fixtures for the English domestic season are generally released towards the end of the preceding year but the 2022 schedule will not be confirmed until the new year. The delay has been caused by a combination of factors including the late decision on the Championship’s format – which sees a return to two divisions – the rescheduling of England’s postponed fifth Test against India for early July and the need to confirm venues and dates for women’s internationals next summer.

The prospect of Yorkshire being relegated to Division Two of the Championship following the ECB’s investigation into allegations of institutional racism at the club is not believed to be a factor in the delay, though the possibility of Headingley’s international fixtures being reallocated to other grounds if the club’s ban on hosting England games is upheld has contributed. Alan Fordham, the ECB’s head of cricket operations, has drawn up a skeleton of the season with fixtures set to be confirmed at the start of next year after those details have been sorted.

In other changes to the schedule, ESPNcricinfo understands that the T20 Blast will be staged in a significantly shorter window in 2022 following a prolonged season this year which saw the majority of the competition’s leading overseas players miss Finals Day due to other commitments.

This year’s Blast ran from June 9 until September 18, with a gap of five weeks between the group stages and the quarter-finals and a further three before Finals Day. Luke Wright, the competition’s all-time leading run-scorer and Sussex’s captain, was a prominent advocate for staging the Blast in a block and it is understood that the group stages will start on May 25 in 2022.

One round of Championship fixtures will be played during the Blast’s group stages, which run until July 3. A further round of Championship games will follow immediately after, with the Blast’s quarter-finals then due to be staged in the week leading up to Finals Day on July 16.

The Hundred will continue to be played in parallel with the Royal London Cup, but in a slightly later window than in 2021. The inaugural edition of the competition ran from July 21-August 21, but the second season will start in early August, with the women’s T20 tournament at the Commonwealth Games, which runs from July 29-August 7, providing an additional complicating factor. The double-header model, which sees men’s and women’s fixtures staged back-to-back, will continue in 2022. The men’s domestic season will end with the final four rounds of the Championship following the conclusion of the Hundred.

The women’s domestic season will involve the regional T20 competition, the Charlotte Edwards Cup, being played in May and June, followed by the 50-over tournament, the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, in the second half of the summer. Touring women’s teams for 2022 are unlikely to be confirmed until early next year but South Africa are expected to tour in the first half of the summer, with another bilateral series likely to follow in September.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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