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CSA asks for ICC to intervene after CA pulls out of South Africa tour

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Johannesburg [South Africa], February 9 (ANI): Cricket South Africa (CSA) has written to the International Cricket Council (ICC) asking it to consider the financial losses less wealthy cricket boards have to incur when tours do not take place as planned.
This letter comes on the back of Cricket Australia (CA) pulling out of South Africa tour in which both teams were slated to lock horns in three Tests.
In the letter, South Africa has termed Australia’s decision to pull out of the series “against the spirit of sportsmanship”, with implications for the credibility of the World Test Championship (WTC), reported ESPNCricinfo.
The letter also raises concerns that this decision by Australia will have a serious impact on the financial well-being of less-wealthy ICC members.
As per a report in ESPNCricinfo, CSA has not lodged a formal complaint and it has sent its letter as a means of opening communication about finding the best possible outcome to maintain international cricket schedule during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, Australia’s three-match Test tour of South Africa was postponed due to an ‘unacceptable’ coronavirus risk. The Australian board had said that travelling from Australia to South Africa at this current time would have had an unacceptable level of health and safety risk to the visiting players.
As the series between Australia and South Africa got postponed, the ICC on Tuesday confirmed that New Zealand has now become the first team to qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC). India, Australia, and England are the other three teams that will be fighting it out to battle against the Kiwis in the summit clash.
Cricket Australia had also clarified that it would not be asking the ICC to delay the WTC final and as a result, the fate of Tim Paine’s side reaching the final depends on the upcoming four-match Test series between India and England.
“We have done everything we possibly can to make this tour happen and it’s a very difficult and challenging situation in South Africa just now and that’s what makes it even more heartbreaking that we’re not able to go. We all knew the rules going in and I think that’s what’s made this decision really, really hard. We’ve done everything we possibly can to make the tour go ahead but in the end, we had to listen to the overwhelming medical advice, so we won’t be pursuing that with the ICC, but it’s just another reason why not being able to tour is so disappointing,” ESPNCricinfo had quoted CA’s Interim CEO, Nick Hockley as saying. (ANI)

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New Zealand head coach hopeful of Ferguson return for Bangladesh T20Is

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Wellington [New Zealand], March 2 (ANI): New Zealand head coach Gary Stead is hopeful that right-arm fast bowler Lockie Ferguson would be available for the upcoming three-match T20I series against Bangladesh.
Ferguson has been out of action since December last year, when he was diagnosed with a stress fracture following the T20I series against West Indies.
During the series against Windies, Ferguson had claimed his career-best figures of 5 for 21.
“At this stage, he (Ferguson) will meet up with the team around the time of the one-day series to put finishes touches on things and make sure the intensity is where we want it to be then if all goes well he’ll be available for the Bangladesh T20 series,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Stead as saying.
“You never know how people react to it [the injury], but in Lockie’s advantage, he’s strong, he’s fit and he works very hard at that S and C [strength and conditioning] area. Hopefully, all those things will have helped him in a quick recovery,” he added.
New Zealand is currently involved in a five-match T20I series against Australia which ends on March 7.
After that, the Black Caps will first play three ODIs against Bangladesh [from March 20 to 26] and then three T20Is from March 28 to April 1. (ANI)

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‘Intelligent ‘Ashwin always reinventing himself, says Laxman

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 2 (ANI): Former India batsman VVS Laxman has praised Ravichandran Ashwin, saying the seasoned off-spinner is reinventing himself and is always looking to improve.
Ashwin had gone past the 400 wickets milestone in the third Test against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium which India won by 10 wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series. Courtesy his performance, Ashwin is now ranked number three in the ICC Test bowler rankings.
“I think he (Ashwin) is a very intelligent person. When you are playing at the highest level, then it’s not only about your skill, it’s about your preparation, your planning and execution is so critical. So, he works out what are the weaknesses of the batsman. He plans those dismissals and that’s why I think he is reinventing himself,” Laxman said while speaking on Star Sports’ show ‘Cricket Connected’.
“We saw recently in the Australia series how he troubled, someone as great as Steve Smith, and that’s another thing that makes Ashwin or any champion player special, that he wants to be the best and compete against the best,” he added.
Ashwin was a standout performer in India’s remarkable 2-1 Test series win over Australia and his resilience was on show in the third Test in Sydney where he battled it out alongside Hanuma Vihari to help India walk away with a famous draw.
“78 Test matches for 400 Test wicket. Let the naysayers be! He’s been absolutely phenomenal with the craft that he has displayed over a period of time and as he’s growing as a bowler he’s picking a lot of wickets. So, that question mark is also getting answered quite nicely,” said former India batsman Aakash Chopra while praising Ashwin.
“I feel that he’s an absolute rockstar. He’s one of the biggest match-winner, that India has ever produced. Of course, Anil Kumble will still remain at number one,” he added.
Earlier, when Ashwin was asked about possibly going past Kumble’s tally of 619 wickets, the 34-year-old said that he just wants to stay in the moment and not look too far ahead.
“I stopped thinking about all the landmarks a long time ago. It has been about how I can get better and what more I can offer to the team. I am looking to get better as an individual and cricketer every single day. I am not looking forward to what lies ahead and probably this is the reason why I am really enjoying my game right now. I would like to be in this space,” said Ashwin during a virtual press conference last Saturday.
India currently has a 2-1 lead in the ongoing four-match series against England and if the hosts manage to win or draw the final Test, they would secure their berth in the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship (WTC) where they will be facing New Zealand at the Lord’s, London from June 18-22. (ANI)

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Ravi Shastri gets first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

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Ahmedabad, [India], March 2 (ANI): Team India head coach Ravi Shastri on Tuesday morning received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Shastri, 58, got the jab at the Apollo Hospital here.
“Got the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Thank you to the amazing medical professionals & scientists for empowering India against the pandemic,” Shastri tweeted along with a picture of him receiving the jab.
“Extremely impressed with the professionalism shown by Kantaben & her team at Apollo, Ahmedabad in dealing with COVID-19 vaccination,” he added.
The second phase of Covid-19 vaccination — for those above 60 years of age, and people between 45 and 59 years of age with specific comorbidities — began on Monday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with other political leaders, got vaccinated on the first day.
Shastri is currently with the Indian cricket team participating in a four-match Test series against England.
Virat Kohli’s men are 2-1 up in the series, having won the third Test, played with the pink ball, by 10 wickets at the Narendra Modi Stadium here last week.
The fourth and final Test of the series is slated to begin on Thursday.
India require only a draw in that game in order to seal their berth in the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final, scheduled to be played at the Lord’s, London from June 18-22. New Zealand have already secured their spot in the WTC final. (ANI)

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Premier League: Would be a dream to finish in top four, says Everton’s Ancelotti

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London [UK], March 2 (ANI): Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that his club is dreaming of a finish in the top four of the Premier League 2020-21 standings.
Everton defeated Southampton on Monday after Richarlison got on the scoring sheets and as a result, the side is now just two points of the top-four with a game in hand.
If Everton manages to finish in the top four, then the club will attain qualification for the Champions League.
“We have a great opportunity to be in the top four and we would like to touch that position. We have to put all our effort into the game on Thursday to try to be there, it is a real possibility,” Ancelotti told Everton’s official website.
“It doesn’t matter how long we can be there, but just to see how we feel if we are there. There will be a big fight until the end of the season and we have to be pleased we can fight for that position. It will be a dream to be in the top four, we are quite close… but the season is long,” he added.
Everton has won eight of their 12 games away from home. However, of 13 games played at their home turf, the side has won five and lost six.
“To fight for the European places, we need to improve the home. It was not good and this performance and victory can help us have a better run at home,” said Ancelotti.
Everton is currently at the seventh spot with 43 points from 25 matches. The club will next take on West Brom on Thursday. (ANI)

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NZ vs Aus: Crowd to be allowed for fifth T20I if Wellington’s alert level status is relaxed

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Wellington [New Zealand], March 2 (ANI): New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Tuesday announced that the order of Sunday’s T20I double-header at Wellington’s Sky Stadium has been reversed.
As a result, New Zealand’s men’s team will be taking on Australia in the early game and New Zealand’s women’s team (White Ferns) will be squaring off against England later in the afternoon.
“The decision follows discussions between New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Australia and will allow the Australia squad to catch a charter flight home immediately after the game – and avoid having to transit through Auckland,” NZC said in an official statement.
“Should Wellington’s Alert Level status be relaxed ahead of Sunday’s doubleheader, a crowd will be allowed inside the venue,” it added.
On Monday, NZC had announced that the final T20I of the five-match series between New Zealand and Australia has been shifted to Wellington from Bay Oval.
The final T20I of the three-match series between New Zealand women (White Ferns) and England women will also be played in Wellington.
Earlier, it was confirmed that the upcoming third and fourth T20Is between New Zealand and Australia will be played behind closed doors. The first and second T20I between New Zealand Women (White Ferns) and England Women will also be played behind closed doors following the change to New Zealand’s alert levels with an eye on the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland would return to level 3 for seven days. As a result, no sport can be held at level 3, reported stuff.co.nz.
The fourth T20I between New Zealand-Australia and White Ferns-England was to be played in Auckland, but as per the new guidelines, the matches were relocated to Wellington.
The rest of the country has moved to alert level 2 and the restrictions will last for a period of seven days. While announcing the new restrictions, Ardern said that the lockdown was needed due to there being no immediate transmission link between the new mystery case and the latest Auckland cluster. (ANI)

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MARCUS TRESCOTHICK NAMED AS ENGLAND’S BATTING COACH

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LONDON : Former opener Marcus Trescothick has been appointed as England’s new elite batting coach, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Monday. In the bowling department, Jon Lewis and Jeetan Patel have been named as England’s pace and spin bowling coaches respectively.

Trescothick will take up the new role in the middle of March. He will step down from his role as assistant coach at Somerset County Cricket Club. Current Young Lions head coach Lewis has been promoted to the role of Elite Pace Bowling Coach. The former England seamer has held numerous roles within the pathway set up after a successful playing career primarily with Gloucestershire but also including stints at Surrey and Sussex.

In addition, Jeetan has been appointed as a permanent elite spin bowling coach. Jeetan, the former New Zealand and Warwickshire spinner, joins the group permanently after several short-term spells working with the men’s team.

“Following an extensive recruitment process, I’m really excited about the calibre of the individuals that we’ve appointed into these specialist roles. Marcus, Jon and Jeetan have demonstrated their ability at the highest level and also show huge potential for the future. ” said England Wales and Cricket Board’s (ECB) Performance Director Mo Bobat in an official statement.

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