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County news – James Pattinson returns to Nottinghamshire for 2022 season

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Former Australia quick retired from internationals in the lead-up to Ashes series

James Pattinson, the Australia fast bowler who retired from international cricket on the eve of the Ashes, is set for a third stint with Nottinghamshire after signing an all-format deal covering the 2022 season.

Pattinson is a British passport holder but has been registered as an overseas player, having previously spent parts of the 2017 and 2019 seasons with the county, taking 40 first-class wickets at 15.52.

Pattinson’s elder brother Darren, who made a one-off Test appearance for England in 2008, won the County Championship title with Nottinghamshire in 2010.

“Trent Bridge felt like home from the moment I first stepped through the gates,” said Pattinson. “To arrive here and be met by a group of guys that made me so welcome from minute dot was pretty special, and I’m looking forward to getting back amongst them again.

“The family link with Darren having done what he did in Nottingham a few years back, and with Dad having played football at junior level for Forest, made it feel like an authentic fit for me right from the off. I knew straight away that I’d found a county I could be really passionate about representing.

“The bowling group did some special things last season. Hopefully I can add something to that and help the club enjoy some success in the coming years.

“Once I get that badge back on my chest and the ball in my hand, there’ll be no backward steps taken for sure. It’ll be a case of ripping into the season and giving it everything to win matches for the club.”

Pattinson claimed 32 wickets at 12.06 in his first Championship stint at Trent Bridge in 2017, and made an immediate impact on debut, scoring a career-best 89 not out, adding 122 for the eighth wicket with Stuart Broad, as well as claiming match figures of 8 for 84.

He played in ten matches as Notts lifted the Royal London Cup, taking 13 wickets in the tournament and hitting the winning runs against Surrey at Lord’s, then returned for a brief stint in 2019.

“We first recruited James in 2017 because we believed he possessed the two qualities you always look for in an overseas signing: tremendous pedigree and the desire to commit fully to life at the club,” Peter Moores, Nottinghamshire’s head coach, said.

“In both respects, he proved to be everything we wanted and more, both with his performances on the field and the mark he left on us all as a character and a competitor, so we’re all really looking forward to welcoming him back over here.

“Our bowling attack did great things in 2021, and the way to build on that is by going again and trying to get even better.

“Jimmy will add a new dimension with his pace, hostility and experience. He’s someone our young players can benefit from spending time with and he adds more depth and quality to our bowling group, which we know is really important.”



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separate bio-bubbles, regular tests, dedicated hospital passages

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The PCB is set to host another season of the Pakistan Super League during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the first 15 games to be played in Karachi from January 27, and the remaining matches scheduled in Lahore, including the final on February 27. There are provisions in place to avoid a postponement even if a handful of players contract Covid-19 – the franchises have 20 players on their roster, with an additional pool of reserve players to provide cover in case of an outbreak.

ESPNcricinfo has obtained PSL’s Covid-19 protocol document, which details how the PCB will form its bio-bubble environment. The document broadly covers health and safety protocols that are being put in place at venues, and has a step-by-step guide to every stage of the tournament.

What will the PSL’s bio-secure bubble look like?
This season the PCB has replicated the biosecure bubble that was created by Restrata, an independent company that managed the environment during the rescheduled Abu Dhabi leg last season. The PCB will regulate the bubble itself, forming three distinct bubbles with different protocols.

The main bubble will comprise all teams, support staff, match officials, hotel staff and certain PCB officials. Vehicle drivers, close protection security staff, reserve players, bubble-integrity managers, anti-corruption officials and hotel staff will all reside within the bubble and are not allowed to leave. As per the guidelines, each franchise will be allotted rooms on a separate floor of the hotel and maximum possible efforts will be made to avoid interaction between teams at the hotel.

The second bubble will be created in a separate hotel and will include the TV production crew, key event management staff and essential hotel staff and drivers. The third bubble will comprise of groundstaff, who will be housed in dedicated biosecure accommodation.

Vigilance will be more stringent for the primary bubble. The bubbles cannot interact with each other and every individual will be required to follow general health and safety guidelines, as well as specific protocols to maintain the integrity of the bubble.

How often are teams going to be tested for Covid-19?
There will be as many as 17 tests starting on January 20 – the day teams are checking into the hotel. There is a mandatory three-day quarantine, followed by four days of training, before the tournament starts from January 27 in Karachi. The first three days of quarantine will have regular testing before everyone with two negative PCR results is allowed to enter the bubble. Every individual will then have a PCR test every second day.

What if an individual requires hospital treatment for an injury or illness?
The PCB has designated Agha Khan Hospital in Karachi and Hameed Latif Hospital in Lahore to handle all potential medical requirements of individuals involved in the PSL.

A medical passage will be established through which individuals requiring hospital visits for scans and/or consultations will be moved with minimal contact with others. Individuals will be provided a dedicated treatment room, sanitised passageways, PPE suits for all medical staff and will be taken around in a dedicated vehicle.

What happens in case of a positive test?
The individual(s) will be immediately separated from the rest of the squad and undergo a PCR test.

All close contacts (those who have had an interaction of longer than 15 minutes from less than two metres away in the previous 48 hours) will be isolated and tested. All casual contacts will also be isolated and tested immediately.

Once the case is confirmed as positive, the individual will isolate for a minimum of seven days and self-monitor their symptoms, providing updates to the Bio-bubble integrity manager. On day seven, if the individual is asymptomatic, they will have to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test and on returning a negative result, can be re-integrated into their bubble.

If symptoms persist on day seven, the isolation will continue till day 10. If the individual is asymptomatic on that day, there will be no need for an exit test to rejoin the bubble.

What happens if protocols and guidelines are breached?
With every team there will be a bio-bubble integrity manager policing the bubble. The offender may face a sanction ranging from reprimand to expulsion from the league. Penalties can be levied for minor or major breaches, from game bans to match-fee fines. The PCB can require any participant to quarantine in their hotel room in case of a breach, and undergo repeated testing.

How many fans will be permitted?
The PCB had originally announced full crowds for both the Karachi and Lahore legs. However, Pakistan’s National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) determines regulations surrounding Covid-19 restrictions, and with cases rising steeply in Pakistan over the past few weeks – particularly in Karachi – the NCOC announced that the Karachi leg would see a maximum of 25% crowd attendance. Lahore, for now, is still set to see full crowds. Spectators’ entry is subject to Covid-19 protocols – no one will be allowed to enter the venue without a valid vaccination certificate.

What is the PCB’s contingency plan for a Covid outbreak?
Each of the last two seasons, the PSL was played over two legs due to Covid outbreaks, but this season, the PCB has made contingency plans to try and ensure the PSL isn’t postponed or cancelled. The PSL management will instead reset the bubble and start over after seven days, recreating the bio-bubble from scratch. In case of outbreaks among franchises, matches can go ahead as long as there are 13 players available on each side. There will also be a reserve pool for franchises to pick players from. A PCB official confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that if the league were to be postponed for some reason, it would have to be cancelled altogether, since there will be no window to play the remaining games.

Could the entirety of the PSL be held in one city?
It would appear unlikely at present. ESPNcricinfo understands that all bookings and hotel confirmations have been finalised in both Karachi and Lahore, and there are at present no plans to change that.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent



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India home season 2021-22 – Ahmedabad and Kolkata likely to host India’s home series against West Indies

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The BCCI also wants to tweak the schedule to avoid a clash with the two-day IPL auction, scheduled for February 12 and 13

The BCCI has decided to limit the number of venues for the upcoming limited-overs series against West Indies to two, instead of the original six, in a bid to limit chances of the pandemic affecting the series. As per the new plan, recommended by the BCCI’s tours and fixtures committee which met on Wednesday, Ahmedabad is likely to host the ODI-leg, comprising three matches, while Kolkata is likely to get the three T20Is that follow.

The BCCI also wants to tweak the schedule to avoid a clash with the two-day IPL auction, scheduled for February 12 and 13 in Bengaluru – as things stand, the third ODI is set to be played on February 12. But a final decision will be taken on this once it has been discussed with Cricket West Indies.

The development is a precautionary step by the BCCI, taken in response to the growing number of positive cases in India, which is currently experiencing a third wave of the pandemic, with the Omicron variant dominant across the country. Though the impact of this wave has been less severe than the preceding Delta wave, the high degree of transmissiblity of Omicron has led to stringent curbs on movement and public activities in the big cities. The current wave is expected to peak in early February.

Last September, while unveiling India’s home calendar for 2021-22, the BCCI had named six venues for the series: the three ODIs on February 6, 9 and 12 in Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Kolkata, and the three T20Is on February 15, 18 and 20 in Cuttack, Visakhapatnam and Thiruvananthapuram.

The tours and fixtures committee felt limiting travel was a necessary safeguard to keep the bubble intact, and also minimise chances of a disruption to the home season – the series against West Indies is set to be immediately followed by a visit by Sri Lanka, and then the IPL.

ESPNcricinfo understands the two Tests against Sri Lanka will be played in Bengaluru and Mohali as originally planned, but the three T20Is are likely to be limited to just Dharamsala, which was originally meant to host the second match, sandwiched by games in Mohali and Lucknow.

The IPL auction is set to go ahead across the weekend of February 12-13 in Bengaluru, with the ten franchises being alerted to make their travel plans accordingly.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Match Preview – South Africa vs India, India in South Africa 2021/22, 2nd ODI

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Big picture

About three weeks ago, India were riding the crest of a wave. They had breached a South African fortress in Centurion, were 1-0 up in the Test series, and had every prospect of turning that into a series-winning lead. However, that belonged in 2021. In 2022, India haven’t won any game in South Africa. Defeats in the last two Tests have been followed up by a loss in the opening ODI, and now India find themselves within one game of returning home with defeats in both the series, a prospect that would have seemed somewhat far-fetched at any point before the tour began or even after the first Test.

The second ODI follows close on the heels of the first one, and at the same venue too – Boland Park in Paarl. The heat and the dryness of the pitch meant spinners found purchase, and the South African duo of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi (combined figures of 20-1-94-3) comfortably out-performed India’s pair of R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal (20-0-106-1). And if you add Aiden Markram’s part-time spin to the mix, South Africa’s spin figures become an even more impressive 26-1-124-4.

Apart from expecting more from their spinners, India will also have to deal with the familiar issue of the middle order lacking runs. It has been the flip side to having a top three of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli – who have piled on runs relentlessly – that the middle order remains slightly uncooked, and it is not a problem with easy solutions.

For South Africa, the theme that ran through their success in the Test series held good in the first ODI too: they are a team without too many superstars but one that still gets the job done. Rassie van der Dussen has played 30 ODIs so far, and averages a whopping 73.62 in them. In the first ODI here, he showed what he could do with inventive and attacking batting. His innings swung the game decisively South Africa’s way, with the run rate floundering until he took charge.

While it is unrealistic to expect him to sustain this level of run-scoring in ODIs, it is not as if these numbers are completely out of the blue for van der Dussen. In a List A career spanning 119 matches, his average is just shy of 50.

Form guide

South Africa WLWLW (last five completed matches; most recent first)
India LLWWW

In the spotlight

KL Rahul will face the heat as captain and opening batter. On the eve of the first ODI, he had lauded Venkatesh Iyer’s all-round utility to the ODI side, but then opted not to call him up for a single over with the ball even when the others were being dealt with easily by Temba Bavuma and van der Dussen. It left the question as to why Iyer was preferred to Suryakumar Yadav or Ishan Kishan, who arguably offer more as batters alone. And while batting, Rahul opted for some caution even though South Africa opened the bowling with Markram’s part-time offspin.

A favourable match-up against a non-regular bowler with the field up during the powerplay and a steep target to chase should have unlocked Rahul’s free-stroking persona. Instead, he brought out the IPL image of recent vintage: the captain intent on caution. Tactically too, it wasn’t the best move as it allowed South Africa to get six overs out of the fifth bowler’s quota first up, and gave them much greater freedom to use their main bowlers at key moments. How Rahul responds to these as captain and batter will be interesting to see.

While Aiden Markram‘s bowling offered an unexpected bonus, and his fielding at point remains top notch, his main suit has been in trouble lately. He isn’t short of class but the runs haven’t been coming for Markram, and that is something that could trouble South Africa on another day. Hence, they could well consider a swap with a bowler. In the likes of George Linde and Dwaine Pretorius, they have bowlers who can bat.

If they want to go for a pure bowler, there is Sisanda Magala. In effect, if Markram is not contributing via runs, there is an argument to be made that his part-time bowling can be replaced by someone with greater pedigree.

Team news

South Africa are unlikely to make changes to a winning combination from the first ODI. They followed the same philosophy in the Test matches, where Maharaj played the second and third Tests despite having little to do.

South Africa (likely): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Janneman Malan, 3 Temba Bavuma (capt), 4 Aiden Markram, 5 Rassie van der Dussen, 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlulwayo, 8 Marco Jansen, 9 Keshav Maharaj, 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi

Rahul had said before the series began that while India would look to be flexible tactically, they would ensure those selected got a good run. On that basis, it is not likely that they will make any changes to the side from the first ODI either.

India (likely): 1 KL Rahul (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Venkatesh Iyer, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Pitch and conditions

It is set to be another hot day in Paarl. The surface is slow and aiding spin already, and the heat will dry it out further. The slowness of the pitch is balanced by the shorter boundaries. And so, like in the first ODI, the team winning the toss will look to bat in all probability.

Stats and trivia

  • Among the top ten pace bowlers in terms of ODI wickets since Jasprit Bumrah‘s debut in January 2016, only he has an economy rate below five. Bumrah has the second-most wickets in this period, but his average and economy rate are both better than Trent Boult, who has the most.
  • Keshav Maharaj has played six of his 16 ODIs at home – all in the last two years – and in four out of those six, he has paired with Tabraiz Shamsi. This is a pointer to the South African pitches not always being spin-unfriendly, as well as to South Africa having two quality spinners to call on.
  • Quotes

    “Our thought process is that we are building a team for the 2023 World Cup. So there are going to be a few hiccups here and there. But we all have good clarity that we have got this bunch of players and how we have to refine them. It doesn’t matter if we lose an odd game while trying to do that because we are looking at the bigger picture.”
    Shikhar Dhawan isn’t too worried about India’s middle-order issues.

    “Definitely a lot more in favour of the Indian players, more like a subcontinent pitch rather than a South African pitch. So that’s what makes the victory even sweeter, basically in foreign conditions, we outplayed them.”
    Tabraiz Shamsi on the pitch at Boland Park, and why the win in the first ODI was significant.

    Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



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