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Ashes 2021-22 – 4th Test – SCG




England also have to deal with injuries to Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow ahead of the fifth Ashes Test

Jos Buttler is set to fly home from England’s tour of Australia, after sustaining a broken finger that hampered his performance in the drawn fourth Test at Sydney.

Buttler suffered the injury while keeping on the second day at the SCG, and struggled to grip the bat while making a duck in England’s first innings.

He was replaced behind the stumps by Ollie Pope, who equalled the record for a substitute fielder with four catches in Australia’s second innings. Buttler fronted up for England’s rearguard on the final day however, making 11 from 38 balls before being trapped lbw by Pat Cummins, armed with the new ball.
“Jos Buttler is going to be going home, it’s quite a bad injury,” Joe Root, England’s captain, said at the post-match presentations. “It’s a real disappointing shame for him and for the team. But it’s part and parcel of playing Test cricket. Sometimes you’ve got to take these things, but the way he stood up throughout the rest of the game, having taken that, and put in for the boys is a testament to his character and how much he cares about playing for this team.”

The injury nevertheless completes a desperate campaign for Buttler, who made 107 runs at 15.28 across the four Tests, with his most significant contribution being an innings of 26 from 207 balls in England’s failed attempt to save the second Test at Adelaide.

In addition to his poor form with the bat, Buttler endured an erratic series behind the stumps, with a number of crucial dropped catches, in particular off Australia’s centurion Marnus Labuschagne in that Adelaide Test.

The ECB confirmed that Buttler will fly back to the UK on Monday and will be assessed on his return by the ECB Medical Team. A further update is expected later this week on his rehabilitation period.

With Jonny Bairstow nursing an impact injury to his right thumb, albeit he was able to bat for a further two-and-a-half hours in the second innings at Sydney, Buttler looks set to be replaced behind the stumps at Hobart by Sam Billings, who completed a nine-hour drive from Brisbane on Saturday, from where he had been set to fly back to the UK to prepare for England’s white-ball tour of the Caribbean later this month. Billings has returned one negative PCR test after beginning his isolation period in Sydney, and will link up with the main squad subject to a secondary negative test this week.
Meanwhile Ben Stokes, who sustained a left side strain while bowling on the second day, also battled through the pain to produce his second half-century of the match. Root could not yet confirm whether he or Bairstow will be involved in Hobart, with both players set for further assessment in the coming days, but he was proud of the character that England’s walking wounded showed.

“A lot of the guys could see a number of players hurting physically and still putting in a huge amount, and in many ways it lifted the rest of the group,” Root said. “I’m really proud of the way that they stood up at times, clearly in a lot of pain to produce for England.

“There was clearly a bit of pain relief required. It’s not just that, but also the psychological element. For them to perform the way they did shows a huge amount of character.”

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

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The Hundred fixtures 2022 – Women’s competition trimmed due to Commonwealth Games clash




Total women’s matches cut from 34 to 26 as 2022 fixtures are announced

The ECB have cut eight women’s matches from the Hundred’s fixture list for 2022 in order to accommodate a clash with the Commonwealth Games (CWG).

The 100-ball competition will be staged between August 3 and September 3, a slightly later window in the English summer than in its first summer, with the women’s T20 tournament at the CWG due to run from July 29 until August 7, played exclusively at Edgbaston.

The first eight matchdays of the Hundred will be standalone men’s fixtures, starting with a round of designated local derbies. Southern Brave, the defending men’s champions, will play Welsh Fire at the Ageas Bowl in the opening game on August 3.

Men’s teams will play eight fixtures – twice against their local rival, and once against every other team – but women’s teams will play six, meaning each team will have one side that they do not play against in the group stages.

The women’s competition will start on August 11, when the inaugural winners Oval Invincibles are due to host Northern Superchargers. That matchday will be the only one in which the most common double-header model is inverted: the men’s match will take place at 3pm, followed by the women’s at 6.30pm.

The group stage ends with two double-headers – Northern Superchargers vs Southern Brave and Manchester Originals vs Oval Invincibles – on August 31, with the knockout stages to follow in early September.

The eliminators, played between the sides finishing second and third in the group stages, will be held at the Ageas Bowl on September 2, with the winners playing the first-placed teams in the finals at Lord’s the following day.

Some England men’s Test players are expected to be made available for the first two or three rounds of fixtures before their series against South Africa, which starts on August 17, and could be released for the knockouts, which take place in the break between the second and third Tests. White-ball specialists will be available for the duration.

The Hundred will run alongside the Royal London Cup, which starts on August 2, and some England players may be involved in a First-Class Counties Select XI fixture against South Africa from August 9 as red-ball preparation ahead of the Test series.

In 2021, several multi-format players including Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler played the first two games of the Hundred before being pulled out for the start of the Test series against India, while others including Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and Ollie Robinson were given dispensation to miss the competition by the ECB.

Teams have been negotiating with men’s players who were contracted in 2021 across the past two months, with the retention window due to close in mid-February. Each team can retain up to 10 men’s players, and the draft will be staged towards the end of March so they can fill their squads.

Australia and New Zealand players are expected to prove popular at the draft due to a break in their schedule, though some Australians may be required for a one-day series against Zimbabwe pencilled in for the end of August.

Teams have been allowed to retain a maximum of two centrally-contracted England women’s players and unlimited other players from their 2021 squads, with their retention window due to shut next week. That will be followed by an open-market system in which teams can negotiate with other players in order to fill the rest of their squads.

Tickets will go on general sale in April, with earlier windows for those who attended games last year or registered their interest in the competition.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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Tamim Iqbal steps away from T20Is for next six months




Decision effectively rules him out of T20 World Cup 2022, but he’ll reconsider if team’s circumstances become difficult

Tamim Iqbal has made himself unavailable from T20Is for the next six months, effectively staying out of contention for the T20 World Cup later this year. Tamim, however, said that he could reconsider this decision if the BCB asks him again before the World Cup, although he doesn’t believe it will be required.

The announcement follows recent discussions between Tamim and top BCB officials including president Nazmul Hassan, who tried to dissuade him from taking the decision. Tamim had been mostly away from Bangladesh’s T20I side for the past 12 months.

In a press conference in Chattogram on Thursday, Tamim insisted that it was a cricketing decision, and that his focus is on Tests and ODIs this year, but he will only reconsider T20Is if circumstances get difficult for the team.

“There have been discussions about my T20I future,” Tamim said. “In the last few days, I have been doing meetings with the BCB president (Nazmul Hassan) and Jalal (Yunus) bhai and Kazi Inam (Ahmed). They wanted me to continue T20Is till the World Cup (this year). I had a different sort of thinking. I will not be considering T20Is for the next six months. My full focus will be on Tests and ODIs. We are preparing for the World Test Championship and qualification for the 2023 World Cup. I will not be thinking about T20Is in the next six months. I hope that those playing will do so well, that the team won’t need me in T20Is. But if God forbid the team or cricket board needs me, and I am ready, I will possibly think about it.”

Ahead of last year’s T20 World Cup, Tamim voluntarily pulled out of the tournament in order to give the other openers like Litton Das, Soumya Sarkar and Mohammad Naim opportunities. Tamim said at the time that since he missed the lead-up to the T20 World Cup, it was only fair for him to skip the tournament.
His last T20I was against Zimbabwe in 2020, after which he missed the rest of the three-match series due to a knee injury.

Till the end of 2018, Tamim was one of the most regular members of the T20I side, having played 75 out of 84 T20Is (89.3%) that Bangladesh played. But in the last three years, he has only played three out of 38 matches.

Tamim will continue to play in domestic T20 leagues, having already made two half-centuries for Minister Group Dhaka in the ongoing BPL.

Tamim insisted that the new players who will be tried in his place should be given a long rope. He drew an example from his, and other senior Bangladesh cricketers’ early days, to compare the situation for the likes of Naim, Sarkar and Saif Hassan.

“We handed chances to a number of youngsters in the last (T20I) series. We cannot lose hope in them quickly. We have to give them time. I think six months is a good enough time. I am pretty confident that I won’t be needed in T20Is. Even then, if the team management or cricket board feels otherwise, I will be open for discussion.

“The team has to go forward. You know my stand ahead of the last T20 World Cup (of giving the young openers more opportunities), so it won’t be wise to judge anyone after one or two series. Many of us seniors went through three or four bad series, and then bounced back with maybe three good series on the trot. Considering those who will play in my place, I am sure they will find their feet and do well,” he said.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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Phil Salt savours Barbados homecoming despite England defeat




Fifty on T20I debut as new boy embraces England’s winning mentality

Phil Salt says there was plenty for him to savour despite finishing on the wrong end of a high-scoring defeat in the third T20I in Barbados, after marking his debut in the format with a hard-hitting half-century, on the island where he spent six of his formative years.

Salt’s 57 from 24 balls carried England’s challenge almost as deep as West Indies’ own run-chase had gone in their one-run defeat on Sunday, particularly when he struck consecutive sixes in Romario Shepherd’s final over, to briefly keep pace with a requirement that had spiralled to 36 runs from the six remaining deliveries.

However, his efforts – coupled with Tom Banton’s earlier score of 73 from 39 balls – were unable to match Rovman Powell’s exceptional 51-ball hundred, after he and Nicholas Pooran (70 from 43) had added 122 for the third wicket to lift West Indies to an imposing 224 for 5, their highest total against England, and their third-highest of all time.

Even so, having lived in Barbados for six years from the ages of nine to 15, and having watched a number of England’s matches at Bridgetown in that time – including their T20 World Cup final win over Australia in 2010 – he admitted the feeling of being the other side of the fence on this occasion had been a memorable one.

“It was very cool to play here, it’s a ground that I’ve watched England play on so many times,” Salt said. “I’ve watched them win a World Cup here and I’ve seen almost every single series I could when they were over here. To make my debut on the ground is incredible.

“I know it’s not capacity, but the atmosphere is always good in this part of the world,” Salt added, with 50% crowds at this series due to Covid protocols. “Bajans love their cricket and love supporting the West Indies. And the English are exactly the same, so that’s always going to make for a good atmosphere.”

Salt made an emergency England debut in last summer’s ODI series against Pakistan, opening the batting under the captaincy of Ben Stokes after England’s original squad had been sidelined by a Covid outbreak. And there was similar upheaval in the ranks on this occasion, with Moeen Ali taking charge of an England team with five changes, including two other debutants in George Garton and Harry Brook, after Eoin Morgan and Sam Billings were both ruled out.

“I knew [Wednesday] morning around midday that I was in,” Salt said, after Billings – who had completed a 15,000km, four-flight journey from Hobart to Bridgetown prior to the first match – was omitted. “I think Bilbo didn’t pull up the greatest, recovery-wise, after the last couple of games. So that’s when I knew.”

Salt had an unfamiliar position to the side too, coming in at No.7 instead of opening – a role that he has occasionally been given while keeping wicket on the T20 franchise circuit. But, given his reputation as a player who can go full-throttle from the first ball, Salt said he had not been daunted by the task at hand, adding that the can-do mentality of Eoin Morgan’s No.1-ranked squad had dictated his approach from the outset.

Asked what was on his mind as he arrived at the crease at 107 for 4 in the 12th over, he said: “Winning the game. It’s very, very clear when you come into this group, the mentality you need to have. Winning the game was the only thing on my mind at the time.

“The role I had is one I enjoy doing,” he added. “The game is always in front of you when you come in and are chasing, you know exactly what you need to do.”

Salt had to wait nearly ten minutes to face his first delivery after arriving at the non-striker’s end, but nearly reached the boundary with his first shot through midwicket, and struck three fours and five sixes all told.

“It’s a skill that not many guys have so if you can be good at that, it’s definitely a big weapon in your armoury,” he said of his hitting ability. “Sometimes you get tied up a bit up top when you open, when the field’s up, but with everyone back and the scoreboard looking the way it was, it was very clear what I needed to do.”

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