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Eng vs NZ – T20 World Cup

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Jimmy Neesham‘s first six is a mis-hit over the deep midwicket boundary. He’d come to the crease with his team needing 59 runs off 25 balls. He’d faced a wide first up; Liam Livingstone firing one down legside. The next ball Neesham had tried to bash across the line, but managed only to get it as far as midwicket. A single. Even the wide and the single put together wasn’t much help. The required rate was over 14.

The six at the start of the next over, though, provides some small squirt of hope. It isn’t a giant Livingstonesque hit. It isn’t a lusty Asif Ali blow. Chris Jordan misses his length a touch, and because Neesham swings at this with every molecule of his being in the direction he seems most comfortable swinging in, he hits it well enough to clear the midwicket boundary by five metres, even off the inside half of the bat.

Relax, though. New Zealand still need 51 off 23.

It wasn’t quite enough.

***

Lance Cairns hit one over the ropes one-handed. Brendon McCullum occasionally rolled towards point as he scooped balls over fine leg. But arguably the most iconic six in New Zealand’s modern history came in that semi-final in 2015. Dale Steyn, one of the greatest cricketers ever to play, needed to defend five runs off two balls, and conceded a six against Grant Elliott, whose selection for that World Cup might fairly be described as one of New Zealand’s most unexpected payoffs.

Perhaps Neesham should have been picked ahead of Elliott. But when Elliott hit that six, Neesham was ecstatic. “Holy f***** shitballs,” he had tweeted. “This is the best day of my life.” An allrounder who had taken his place, clinching a tight semi-final.

Neesham himself, though, hadn’t been required in a World Cup campaign that players described as “the time of their life”.

He was a talented allrounder, having done well in Tests, plus having been impressive in limited-overs cricket.

Much as Neesham promised at the time, though, he hadn’t done anything like Corey Anderson’s record-breaking ODI hundred.

And for that reason, it seemed as if what Neesham offered – it wasn’t enough.

***

Neesham’s second big shot went in that arc between long-on and deep midwicket.

Ben Stokes had once hit that boundary at Lord’s – remember? He’d hit a ball over wide long-on, and although the fielder Trent Boult had taken the catch, he’d touched the boundary with his boot.

Pretty much the same thing here. Neesham had launched one over wide long-off, but although Bairstow took the catch, he touched the boundary before he flicked it back infield. When the replays are consulted, it’s clear it’s six.

But then, England are masters at the death.

It wasn’t quite enough.

***

For followers of Neesham, these sixes over midwicket are not unfamiliar shots.

In the climax of probably the best limited-overs game in history, he had swung in the same direction. On that occasion, it had been Jofra Archer, in the second (legitimate) ball of the Super Over, who missed his yorker slightly, Neesham stepping across the stumps, whipped it waaay over deep midwicket, deep into the stands. He brought his team’s required runs down to seven runs from four balls.

Next ball he hit two to the legside. The following ball he managed a single. But with two required off the last delivery, his partner Martin Guptill couldn’t quite get back for the second, and Jos Buttler took the bails off in one of modern cricket’s iconic plays,

Neesham had claimed his team’s best figures of 3 for 43. He had been trusted to hit big in the Super Over, and had struck 13 off 5.

But even though New Zealand didn’t clinch that World Cup. Neasham did plenty.

Still, it wasn’t quite enough.

***

The third of Neesham’s sixes is the ugliest. He’s a leftie, and as such, has the match-up against Adil Rashid. He gets down on one knee and throws his entire life into a slog over midwicket. He connects and gets six. Nobody thinks this is a pretty shot. But also nobody cares.

This is the last of Neesham’s big shots, though. He gets a single. And when he gets the strike later in this over, tries to hit an offside four, and gets out. By this stage, New Zealand need 20 off 12 balls.

Ideally, Neesham would have hung around, hit another one of his big legside shots, and even perhaps scored the winning run. But then, for a player who had been through this much, this was asking a lot. When he’d arrived at the crease a New Zealand victory was barely conceivable. Through the course of his 11 balls at the crease, he’d swung the match definitively in New Zealand’s direction.

There are two photographs doing the rounds on social media. One in which the entire New Zealand team are ecstatic, celebrating the win (Mitchell hit the winning runs) while Neesham is sat expressionless in his plastic chair, in front of the dugout.

The second is a photograph of Neesham still in that chair, looking out over the field long after his team-mates have gone back into the dressing room, and most of the stadium has emptied.

What he is thinking. What he is feeling. That is all for only Neesham. If we’re lucky, he’ll let us know.

But, for a change, what he did – his 27 off 11, his three sixes and a four,

It was enough.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf



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James Anderson sits out first Test with an eye on Adelaide pink-ball contest

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England said there are no injury concerns around the quick bowler and he was fit for selection



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BBL11 2021-22 – Bowling attack gives Melbourne Renegades hope of revival

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The batting remains questionable and they will be looking for the youngsters to develop

Captain Nic Maddinson
Coach David Saker

Squad
Cameron Boyce, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Josh Lalor, Shaun Marsh, Jono Merlo (replacement player), James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, James Seymour (replacement player), Will Sutherland, Nic Maddinson, Reece Topley (Eng), Unmukt Chand (Ind), Mohammad Nabi (Afg), Zahir Khan (Afg)

In Nic Maddinson, Jono Merlo, James Seymour, Reece Topley, Unmukt Chand, Zahir Khan
Out Beau Webster, Peter Hazloglou, Jon Holland, Benny, Howell, Noor Ahmed, Imran Tahir, Imad Wasim

Last season

It was another disastrous season for the Renegades finishing last for the second straight year. They won their first match and then lost seven in a row. Their batting was abysmal, bowled out for less than 90 on three occasions and 111 in another match against Adelaide. The bowling was nowhere near as effective as season’s past and they struggled to find a consistent unit as they mixed and matched their overseas players. There was one bright spot as they produced a brilliant chasing win over Melbourne Stars late in the season. Mackenzie Harvey starred smashing 47 not out from 21 balls to give a glimpse into the future.
International impact
Renegades have been severely impacted by both Australia selection and injury. Nic Maddinson‘s selection in the Australia A side to face England Lions means the new Renegades captain won’t get a chance to lead his new club until their fourth game at the earliest. Marcus Harris is set to miss most of the season due to Test duty. Aaron Finch is in doubt for the early games due to his ongoing knee issue while Shaun Marsh is set to miss at least half the tournament due to a calf tear. England does have tour of West Indies in the new year and Afghanistan is scheduled to visit Bangladesh but it is unknown if the likes of Reece Topley, Mohammad Nabi or Zahir Khan will need to leave the BBL early.
Player to watch
Reece Topley is an important recruit for Renegades and has a chance to make a serious statement to England selectors ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia next year. Fellow Englishman Harry Gurney was a key part of Renegades’ run to the title three years ago and Topley has a similar opportunity to cause havoc on the inconsistent home surface of Marvel Stadium.

Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)
Renegades were the worst bowling unit in the previous BBL edition. Their bowling economy rate of 8.61 was the highest among all teams and their death bowling economy was 11.24. If Renegades want to play finals, this is an area they need to focus on. Their attack certainly looks stronger this season

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Chris Gayle farewell on the cards with Jamaica set to host West Indies-Ireland series

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The series will comprise three ODIs and a one-off T20I, all at Sabina Park

West Indies will play three ODIs and a T20I against Ireland in Jamaica from January 8 to 16, the CWI has announced, with the possibility that the standalone T20I will be used as a farewell match for Chris Gayle.

While Gayle will not be part of the ODI squad, with the series counting towards 2023 World Cup qualification through the Super League, the one-off fixture at Sabina Park could be used as his farewell game. ESPNcricinfo understands that a decision has yet to be made on Gayle’s inclusion but that the issue will be up for discussion at the next meeting of CWI’s board of directors later this month.

“It’s whether collectively we all feel that it’s appropriate for him to have one last game at home to say farewell in a one-off game,” Johnny Grave, CWI’s chief executive, told the Mason and Guest radio show in Barbados last month. “That Ireland series would represent that opportunity.

“It would certainly be appropriate, as far as I can see it, to treat our players and give them the opportunity to bow out – especially players like Chris who have had unbelievable careers and won trophies for the West Indies.”

Ireland will travel to the Caribbean on December 31, immediately after their series against USA which starts on December 22 and comprises two T20Is and three ODIs. They have already named their squads for both tours, with Kevin O’Brien left out and David Ripley taking temporary charge as interim head coach.
Ireland last toured the Caribbean in 2020, drawing the T20I series 1-1 and losing the ODI series 3-0. Sabina Park was also the venue for one of the finest moments in Irish cricketing history, their victory over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup on St Patrick’s Day.

“We are pleased to be returning to the Caribbean where we have so many great memories,” Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland’s performance director, said. “The World Cup Super League is a crucial set of fixtures for Ireland as we attempt to qualify for the next Cricket World Cup, and – if the series in 2020 is anything to go by – we look forward to a highly competitive series in January.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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