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USA to host Ireland in first home series against Full Member

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The tour will comprise two T20Is and three ODIs in December, with all matches to be played in Lauderhill, Florida

USA Cricket has announced its first ever home series against a Test nation when the men’s national team hosts Ireland for two T20Is and three ODIs in Lauderhill, Florida, in late December. The tour will begin with the first T20I on December 22 followed by another the following day. The ODIs will be played on December 26, 28 and 30, and will be used by Ireland as preparation ahead of their onward journey to the West Indies for three Cricket World Cup Super League ODIs set for early January.

“USA Cricket is absolutely elated to confirm next month’s series with Cricket Ireland that we have been working on over the past few months as we continue to try and expand the playing opportunities for our national teams,” USA Cricket chief executive Iain Higgins said in a USA Cricket press release. “To be able to bring an ICC Full Member to the United States to play a series of five international matches is an historic and hugely significant step forward for cricket here in America.

“We hope that this series helps to showcase the potential in American cricket with it being the first ever home series of international matches against a Full Member. We will be announcing ticketing details next week and hope that the timing of the series will give people a great opportunity to come along and see high-class international cricket in the flesh next month in Florida.”

The timing of the Ireland T20I and ODI series announcement may raise some eyebrows in the US cricket community based on the organisation’s recent financial struggles. Flight and accommodation prices traditionally peak over the Christmas holiday period in south Florida, meaning the event will incur significantly higher costs than normal to stage.

The Broward County Stadium in Lauderhill has also never shown an appetite for generating any offsetting gate revenue for USA matches, including USA’s inaugural ODI on home soil in September 2019 when a total of 19 spectators were present at the 10,000-capacity venue to watch USA defeat Papua New Guinea even though free admission was offered.

Separately, the announcement of the series comes less than a week before the hosting of the USA Men’s 50-over national championships in Texas, an event which is struggling for funding. USA Cricket had issued a press release on October 23 – less than a month before the scheduled start of the domestic championship on November 15 in Houston – to solicit a title sponsor for the event but has yet to announce that they have successfully secured one.

Players from the seven zonal teams – USA Under-19 is the eighth team in the event – were informed at short notice just ahead of squads being announced on November 2 that they will have to pay all of their own travel and accommodation expenses for the event.

ESPNcricinfo understands it sparked a meeting by USA national team players unhappy at the prospect of being stuck with the bill for those expenses, who subsequently met with USA Cricket officials to voice their concerns at the national team’s brief training camp in North Carolina ahead of traveling for the start of the ICC Americas Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in Antigua, which began on November 7. USA players also had their central contract compensation significantly reduced last year, with USA Cricket officials citing the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason for budget cuts.
At their most recent AGM in May, USA Cricket board directors informed members that they had to further slash budgets for domestic and national-team player resources, blaming a lawsuit filed by two board members against the rest of the board over the membership registration and voting process ahead of USA Cricket general elections, which have not taken place since February 2020. The lawsuit was dismissed by a Colorado circuit court judge in July on procedural grounds.

USA have played Ireland four times in the last decade in T20 cricket at the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier events in the UAE and Ireland, the first of which was held in 2010 and the last in 2015, though none of the matches held official T20I status. Ireland won on all four occasions, with the closest margin coming in 2015 at Stormont where they defended a total of 146 to win by 46 runs.

Separately, the two sides also have history in 50-overs cricket – though not in official ODIs – at the ICC Trophy, which is the ICC World Cup Qualifier’s predecessor. Ireland won by two wickets chasing down a total of 212 in Kuala Lumpur in 1997 before USA got their revenge at the 2001 event in Toronto, scoring a six-wicket win against a side featuring Ed Joyce after chasing down a target of 210 with 12.1 overs to spare.

This would not be Ireland’s first tour to the USA either, though their last visit came in 1973. A side captained by Alec O’Riordan, which also included other illustrious names from Irish cricket history including Roy Torrens and Brendan O’Brien, the father of Kevin and Niall, played underneath the Hollywood sign at Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

It was one of the last international tours hosted at the ground before its cricket facility was repurposed for equestrian sports ahead of the 1984 Summer Olympics, and cricket’s new home in Los Angeles was shifted to Woodley Park in Van Nuys.

“We are delighted to confirm the tour of the USA as part of our preparations for the crucial ICC Cricket World Cup Super League series against the West Indies,” Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said. “The chance to play five competitive white-ball fixtures – including three matches under lights – will be important as our players return to the field after a few weeks off.

“With a large population of Irish expats and emigrants in the United States, we hope to see a good turn out of support for our squad and look forward to spending time in one of the USA’s best cricket facilities.”

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna



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SJN report – Another delay as CSA ombudsman asks for week’s extension

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“We will have a board meeting soon after we receive the report and then we will release it publicly,” CSA acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki

CSA’s Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) report will be delivered to the organisation a week later than scheduled, with the ombudsman, Dumisa Ntsebeza, requesting an extension to the revised November 30 deadline. The report will now be sent to the board on December 6.

Pholetsi Moseki, the CSA acting chief executive, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that the report would be made public after the board has spent time deliberating on its contents: “We will have a board meeting soon after we receive the report and then we will release it publicly.”

The report will contain recommendations made by Ntsebeza on issues relating to discrimination in South African cricket, and is expected to cover issues around the culture in the national teams, selection, match fees, and the grassroots.

CSA is not obligated to implement any of Ntsebeza’s suggestions, but is likely to act on at least some of them.

This is the second time the report has been delayed after it was initially expected to be completed by September 30. The deadline had to be extended after several parties that were implicated in the first phase of testimonies between July 5 and August 6 requested for time to compile their replies, which was granted.
The second phase of testimonies was held in October and included responses by current head coach Mark Boucher, director of cricket Graeme Smith, and former men’s captain AB de Villiers. All three submitted written affidavits and did not appear before the SJN to give oral evidence, and only Boucher’s statement has been made public so far.
Although Ntsebeza had previously indicated that the process could do with more time, it has already run for most of 2021 after the first call for submissions was put out at the end of April. It is believed that CSA had budgeted Rand 5 million (US$ 350,000 approx) for the project but the amount has gone up because of the extensions. The costs have come at a time when CSA is waiting to see if its coffers will be filled by an India tour, scheduled to begin in mid-December but in doubt because of the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant in southern Africa.

South Africa’s men’s team is also due to play New Zealand (away) and Bangladesh (at home) this summer, while the women’s team is scheduled to host West Indies before the Women’s World Cup.

Last week, CSA confirmed that all national teams would continue to take a knee before each match this season to show solidarity with the fight against racism.



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Manchester United owners acquire team in UAE T20 League

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After failed bids to acquire an IPL franchise, the Glazers have made their first formal foray into cricket

Manchester United Football Club’s American owner, Lancer Capital, has made its first foray into cricket by acquiring a franchise in the soon-to-be-launched UAE T20 League. The update came a week after Reliance Industries, the owner of Mumbai Indians in the IPL, also announced their investment in the league through a franchise ownership.

“I am very excited to be a part of UAE T20 at its formation,” Avram Glazer, chairman of Lancer Capital, said in a statement. “UAE T20 promises to be a world class event that will be transformative to the growth of cricket in the Emirates.”

Last month, Lancer Capitals was among the final shortlisted bidders for the two new IPL franchises, eventually losing out to RPSG Group and CVC Capital, the groups that acquired the Lucknow and Ahmedabad franchises respectively.

Out of the nine bids, Lancer Capital had posted the lowest bid at INR 4128.65 crore (US$ 551 million approx.) for the Ahmedabad franchise, and INR 4023 crore (US$ 537 million approx.) for the Lucknow franchise.

The latest investment adds to the company’s portfolio in the sporting world: the Glazer family also owns Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I am very excited to welcome Mr. Glazer to the UAE T20 Family,” Khalid Al Zarooni, UAE T20 League chairman, said. “To have a partner who has invested into sports properties with a long term investment perspective is a testament to the strength of the UAE T20 League’s Business Model and its value proposition to its stakeholders and an ode to the UAE as the destination of choice for global sports events.”

The owners of the Knight Riders T20 teams are also understood to be “on-board” to own one of the teams in the UAE event. Capri Global, which also made a failed bid for the two new IPL franchises, Big Bash League’s Sydney Sixers, and Kiran Kumar Grandhi, a co-owner of Delhi Capitals, are believed to be among the other interested parties.

The six-team league has been sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board and is looking to make room for itself in the January-February window, although its inaugural edition in 2022 is likely to be played in February-March.



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Shaheen Shah Afridi breaks into top five in Test rankings for bowlers

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Latham, Karunaratne in top 10 of batting rankings; Jadeja No. 2 allrounder

Shaheen Shah Afridi has broken into the top five of the ICC Test bowling rankings for the first time following his five-for against Bangladesh in Pakistan’s eight-wicket win in the first Test in Chattogram. Afridi, who finished with a match haul of seven wickets, moved up three places to No. 5, overtaking James Anderson, Kagiso Rabada and Neil Wagner in the process.

Each of the three bowlers Afridi has overtaken will have an opportunity to make gains of their own. Wagner could have the first crack if he makes New Zealand’s XI for the second and final Test against India in Mumbai. Anderson is likely to line up for the first Ashes Test next week, while Rabada will spearhead South Africa’s pace attack during their home Tests against India later this month.

Meanwhile, Afridi’s new-ball partner Hasan Ali also moved five places to 11th, his best-ever position so far, following seven wickets in the Chattogram Test. This included figures of 5 for 51 that hastened Bangladesh’s collapse in the first innings after Liton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim put on 206 runs for the fifth wicket.
Kyle Jamieson, who impressed in his maiden outing in the subcontinent, was ranked ninth, while Tim Southee was within a point of second-placed R Ashwin following his eight-wicket match haul in Kanpur. Pat Cummins, Australia’s new Test captain, heads the list.
Among batters, Tom Latham and Dimuth Karunaratne made significant gains for their efforts in Kanpur and Galle respectively. Latham, who made 95 and 52 in New Zealand’s thrilling draw, jumped five places to No. 9, while the Sri Lankan captain was two spots higher st seven following scores of 147 and 83 in Sri Lanka’s 187-run win in the first Test.
Over in Bangladesh, the nature of Pakistan’s come-from-behind win had a few other gainers too. Abid Ali‘s 133 and 91 helped him jump 27 slots to a career-best 20th rank, one place above Mushfiqur. Among the other gainers was Bangladesh left-arm spinner Taijul Islam climbed two places to 23rd after picking up a seven-for in Pakistan’s first innings.
In the allrounders’ rankings, Ravindra Jadeja jumped one place to be ranked second, behind West Indies’ Jason Holder. Jadeja struck a defiant half-century in the first innings, while his five wickets in the match also helped him jump to 19th in the bowling chart.



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