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Aus vs Eng, Women’s Ashes, 2021-22




The left-armer joins legspinner Georgia Wareham on the sidelines leaving the hosts needing further reinforcements

Australia have suffered yet another blow ahead of this summer’s Women’s Ashes series after star spinner Sophie Molineux was struck down by a stress fracture in her right foot.

Molineux suffered the injury during the last week of the WBBL, and has been ruled out of the entire multi-format series.

Australian team doctor Pip Inge said Molineux is currently in a moon boot, but it’s hopeful the 23-year-old will be able to play in March’s ODI World Cup in New Zealand.

“Sophie’s focus now shifts to her rehabilitation plan which means she’ll be unavailable for any upcoming domestic matches as well as the Ashes in January,” Inge said. “At this stage we are aiming to have Sophie available for the ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand in March.”

The injury to Molineux comes less than two months after legspinner Georgia Wareham ruptured the ACL in her left knee, ruling her out of the World Cup, Ashes, and Commonwealth Games campaigns.

This summer’s Ashes series comprises of one Test, three one-dayers, and three T20s. The Test match starts on January 27 at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

Molineux has excelled in her two Tests, nine ODIs, and 27 T20s for Australia, and her absence combined with that of Wareham is a big blow to the team’s spin stocks. But Australia still have Jess Jonassen, Amanda Jade-Wellington, and the uncapped Alana King to call upon in the spin department. Offspinner Molly Strano has also been part of recent squads.

Molineux carried her injury into Melbourne Renegades’ Challenger final loss to the Adelaide Strikers late last month. She didn’t bat despite her team’s early collapse, and returned expensive figures of 0 for 22 from two overs with the ball. It was revealed during the match that Molineux had been in a moon boot in the lead-up to the clash.

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Recent Match Report – Scorchers vs Sixers Final 2021/22




Scorchers were 4 for 25 before an audacious century partnership between Evans and Turner powered them to a competitive total

Perth Scorchers 6 for 171 (Evans 76*, Turner 54, Lyon 2-24, O’Keefe 2-43) beat Sydney Sixers 92 (Hughes 42, Tye 3-15, Richardson 2-20 ) by 79 runs

Laurie Evans smashed 76 under pressure then quick Andrew Tye took three wickets as Perth Scorchers won a record fourth BBL title and exacted revenge over shorthanded Sydney Sixers with a crushing 79-run victory at the Marvel Stadium.
In a re-match of last season’s decider, Scorchers were in serious trouble at 4 for 25 after being sent in before an audacious century partnership between Evans and captain Ashton Turner powered the hot favourites to 6 for 171.

Their star-studded attack then proved irresistible to end Sixers’ bid for a historic third-straight title. Having broken the deadlock for most titles with their arch-rival, Scorchers may have notched their sweetest triumph having been on the road for 50 straight days due to being shut out of Western Australia’s closed borders.

They faced a depleted Sixers without openers Josh Philippe and Jack Edwards, who were ruled out with Covid-19, while batter Jordan Silk failed to recover from a hamstring injury sustained against Adelaide Strikers on Wednesday where he controversially retired hurt before the match’s final ball.

A third bid for an exemption allowing Steve Smith to play was blocked by the BBL, while Jay Lenton, an assistant coach for Sixers, took the gloves for the second straight match.

Scorchers, however, deserved the spoils having dominated all season in a golden summer for the franchise which also won the WBBL title two months ago.

Evans and Turner rescue Scorchers
Scorchers endured a horror show early and their worst four-over powerplay of the season, which yielded just 14 runs on a tricky pitch. Worse was to follow with an uncharacteristically reckless Scorchers repeatedly throwing away their wickets under Marvel Stadium’s closed roof due to heavy rain in Melbourne.

Mitchell Marsh, who came in with a hamstring niggle, struggled and didn’t get off the mark until his ninth delivery. He didn’t last much longer as Scorchers appeared to be melting on the big stage.

Instead of rebuilding, a bold Evans and Turner launched a counterattack and quickly smashed 33 runs off 13 balls after the seventh over to turn the momentum. English import Evans has had an under-the-radar debut BBL season but his energetic batting made him a key cog of Scorchers’ middle order. He played his best innings of the season as he fearlessly attacked Steve O’Keefe and was ably supported by Turner.

The red-hot duo each registered half-centuries with sixes before Turner fell shortly after. It didn’t hurt Evans’ momentum as he unleashed several astounding cover drives to lift Scorchers to a total that appeared beyond them after four overs.

Full report to follow…

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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Richard Johnson returns to Middlesex as Stuart Law successor




New first-team coach back at Lord’s after three seasons with Surrey

Richard Johnson has returned to Middlesex as the club’s new first-team coach after three years as an assistant coach at Surrey.

Johnson, who played three Tests for England in 2003, stood in as Middlesex’s interim head coach in 2018 after Richard Scott’s departure, having previously worked as fast-bowling coach and assistant coach.

Middlesex have been undergoing a major off-field transition over the last year. Angus Fraser has moved from director of cricket to a new role overseeing the academy and county age-group squads; Richard Goatley stepped down as chief executive for health reasons, replaced by Andrew Cornish; Stuart Law was removed as coach; and Alan Coleman took on a new role as head of men’s performance.

Cornish said that Johnson was the stand-out candidate in a recruitment process that had been running for several months, with Graham Thorpe – the England assistant coach – widely reported to be another candidate.

“In what was an extremely competitive recruitment process, we were fortunate to interview a number of exceptionally high-calibre candidates. However, for us, Richard stood out,” Cornish said.

“His credentials as a coach are unquestionable and he returns to Middlesex with even greater knowledge and experience following his time coaching with Surrey. Culturally he is absolutely the right fit and the right man for the job.

“He has worked closely with the majority of our playing squad before, knows their strengths, and conversely the areas they need to improve upon, and he has a brilliant working relationship with the rest of our newly-appointed coaching team.”

Middlesex finished second in the third division of the County Championship last year, and are due to play in Division Two this season. They have brought Shaheen Shah Afridi in as a marquee overseas signing for next year but are also bringing through a number of home-grown, academy players.

“I feel incredibly honoured to be given the chance to be the first-team coach of this amazing club,” Johnson said. ” It is a place that I hold extremely close to my heart, having been associated with the club since I was ten years old.

“The opportunity to return and give my all in trying to make Middlesex successful again is one that not only excites me but makes me incredibly proud.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Surrey, and especially Alec Stewart for the past three years. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and wish the players and the club all the very best for the future.”

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Phil Simmons rubbishes ‘victimisation’ claims after Rovman Powell-Odean Smith swap




CWI president Ricky Skerritt also put out a statement calling the allegations “a malicious attack on the credibility of the West Indies Captain”

While Simmons said that those on the outside who wanted “preach about victimisation” needed “to look within themselves”, CWI president Ricky Skerritt put out a statement calling the allegations “a malicious attack on the credibility of the West Indies Captain, designed to sow division within our team”.

The statements came in response to a voice note that was sent to mediapersons after the third ODI. The Trinidad and Tobago Newsday reported that the voice note said the West Indies Players’ Association was “very upset over the treatment of Smith” while alleging that a high-level meeting was planned at CWI to clear issues within the team.

Simmons dismissed the allegation outright in a press conference on Friday, January 28, the day after West Indies won the third T20I to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

“For me, that can’t happen when I’m here,” Simmons said. “You don’t victimise anyone. You don’t try to pull down anyone. You try to make players a better person first of all, and a better cricketer afterwards. In my coaching career and even in my playing career, you look to help the man next to you. And that’s one thing I’ve been preaching in this team, and in all the teams that I’ve dealt with. So, there is no such thing as victimisation here and there will be none as long as I’m around.”

Smith had played the first two T20Is of the five-match series. He was not called on to bowl in the first match, and bowled one over in the second. While batting, he made 7 in the first T20I and was not needed to bat in the second in a nine-wicket win. In the third, West Indies strengthened their batting by replacing Smith with Powell, who went on to smash 107 off 53 balls in a high-scoring win.

“I think you’re going down the wrong line with this,” Simmons continued. “Let me explain something to you, and I’m saying it again. We need to stop this foolishness that we’re going on with. We sit down and we look at the best team for the day. And if Odean wasn’t in the best team for the day, it is because we thought that Rovman was better suited for yesterday.

“All those who want to sit out there and preach about victimisation, I think they need to look within themselves. There’s no victimisation in selection in West Indies cricket, and there’s no victimisation in this team in playing anyone. So we need to start stepping away from that and letting the people who are pushing this know that that’s not happening. I’m not going to be answering any more questions about things like that.”

The CWI statement backed up Simmons’ words. “Contrary to the unsubstantiated statements, containing unfounded and mischievous allegations, CWI is satisfied that there is no discord between the Team Captain and any member of the West Indies team,” it read.

It also had strong words of condemnation from Skerritt. “I view this as a malicious attack on the credibility of the West Indies Captain, designed to sow division within our team that has just recorded three very impressive T20I performances against very strong opponents, including two outstanding wins and one heroic comeback to get within one run of victory. This clear attempt by well-known mischief makers to discredit the Captain and to derail the Team’s momentum in the ongoing Betway T20I Series should not be tolerated or encouraged.”

Simmons and CWI found support from the recently retired Dwayne Bravo, who tweeted that he “woke up to see the same individuals who don’t care about the cricket trying to push a victimization narrative”.

Earlier, when speaking on Smith’s role in the set-up, Simmons had praised his ability but pointed out that given the number of all-round options West Indies had, there would be situations where his skills would not be needed.

“Well we all know his role in the side. He’s a bowler who bowls quick and he can hit the ball out of the ground,” Simmons said. “In the games where he didn’t bowl, it’s a situation like that – we have seven bowlers, and unfortunately in those games he didn’t bowl. It’s just the run of the game on the day. We needed a batsman to come in yesterday, and we made that choice. Because of course Jason (Holder) and (Sheldon) Cottrell are your main bowlers at the top there, and (Romario) Shepherd has shown both with bat and ball that he’s doing well, and we wanted him to continue. That’s just the situation of him being left out and Powell coming in.”

Smith has played three ODIs and seven T20Is for West Indies so far. He came to prominence during CPL 2021, with his hard-hitting batting and ability to touch 140kph.

Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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