Stokes hopes England cricket fever endures despite northern snub

Stokes hopes England cricket fever endures despite northern snub
England's Ben Stokes during a press conference Tuesday on the eve of the Ashes fourth Test against arch-rivals Australia at Old Trafford. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 19 July 2023
Follow

Stokes hopes England cricket fever endures despite northern snub

Stokes hopes England cricket fever endures despite northern snub
  • Even if England don’t become just the second team to win an Ashes from 2-0 down, all-rounder Stokes hopes new fans will still retain their enthusiasm
  • In 2027 the most northerly venue for the men’s Ashes will be Trent Bridge, the Nottingham base of Midlands county Nottinghamshire

MANCHESTER: England captain Ben Stokes said he hoped the feelgood factor surrounding his side would endure regardless of the outcome of this season’s Ashes, even though he was “devastated” by the decision not to hold any Tests in the north of the country when Australia next tour in 2027.

Since Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum took charge of the Test side last year, the emphasis has been as much on entertainment as results, although England have won 12 out of 16 matches while becoming renowned for their aggressive ‘Bazball’ style.

They head into Wednesday’s fourth Test against arch-rivals Australia at Old Trafford with renewed hope of regaining the Ashes after a dramatic three-wicket win at Headingley left Stokes’s men 2-1 down with two to play.

Even if England don’t become just the second team, after the Australia side of 1936/37, to win an Ashes from 2-0 down, all-rounder Stokes hopes new fans will still retain their enthusiasm.

“I hope this craze around cricket doesn’t get lost if things don’t go our way in this Ashes,” Stokes told reporters at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

England have recalled James Anderson, their all-time leading Test wicket-taker, on the 40-year-old paceman’s Lancashire home ground.

Yet even though one of the ends is now named after him, Anderson has still to take five wickets in a Test innings at Old Trafford.

“Is he not on there yet?,” said Stokes, standing in front of Old Trafford’s honors board. “I’ve got to say, I’m amazed at that.

“It would be good if he was able to do that, it would be nice to get his name up...He’s been an incredible gift to English cricket.”

But there will be no chance for any such heroics at Old Trafford in 2027, nor at Headingley. Officials recently announced that the two northern strongholds had been left of the list of venues for that season’s men’s Ashes even though they each have a long history of staging Anglo-Australian matches.

Old Trafford and Headingley, the Leeds headquarters of Yorkshire, are also home to some of English cricket’s most passionate fans.

It was no surprise that England revived their hopes in this Ashes in front of the faithful at Headingley, a ground where Ian Botham started to turn the tide of the 1981 series and Stokes himself struck a remarkable century in a stunning one-wicket win in 2019.

But in 2027 the most northerly venue for the men’s Ashes will be Trent Bridge, the Nottingham base of Midlands county Nottinghamshire.

Stokes, who made his name at northeast county Durham, said: “You know the crowds we get in the north — and I say ‘the North’ quite bluntly there — are very good. We get a lot of support...So yeah, I’m a bit devastated that there won’t be any Ashes cricket here in 2027 in the north. It’s a shame.

“I don’t make those calls but, if I was involved, I would have said ‘please keep at least one game in the north’.”


Disappointment for Saudi team in first match of ACC Men’s Premier Cup

Disappointment for Saudi team in first match of ACC Men’s Premier Cup
Updated 13 April 2024
Follow

Disappointment for Saudi team in first match of ACC Men’s Premier Cup

Disappointment for Saudi team in first match of ACC Men’s Premier Cup
  • Saudi Arabia now play Hong Kong in a must win match on day three

AL-AMARAT: On April 12, the men’s Asia Premier Cup got away to a flying start on Oman’s two side by side turf grounds at Al Amerat, Muscat.

This excellent facility provides the opportunity for two matches to be played on each turf per day. The press tent is situated between the two grounds so that both matches can be observed simultaneously.

Prospects of upsets were high. In Group A, Oman, one of the favourites to earn the top place and progress to the Asia Cup in 2025, were run close by Bahrain, who fell four runs short of victory. Oman had been given a scare and an upset avoided.

Another contender for top spot, the UAE, was subject to a steady top order batting display by Kuwait, who posted 178 for eight.

At 26 for three, the UAE innings was on the back foot, but an unbroken fourth wicket partnership of 153 avoided another potential upset.

Nepal twanged the heartstrings of their supporters against Malaysia, who posted a creditable 143 for three.

Captain, Virandeep Singh, anchored the innings with an unbeaten seventy-two, supported by S Muniandy, Nepal using eight bowlers.

Nepal made heavy weather of its reply, wickets falling at critical times, before a sixth wicket partnership of thirty runs sent their delirious supporters into raptures. No other team in this tournament has this boisterous, enthusiastic support.

There seemed to a hundred or so, all working in Oman, making a noise far beyond their numbers. Crucially for them, another potential upset had been avoided.

In their performance, Malaysia had given a warning that they represented a strong challenge for Saudi Arabia on Day 2. Choosing to bat first, Malaysia lost Virandeep Singh in the first over, bowled by Ishtiaq Ahmad. Tight bowling by Saudi’s quicks reduced Malaysia to fifty-three for five after ten overs. Several smart catches were taken but there was some ragged fielding.

At this critical juncture in the innings, Saudi needed to turn the screw. However, the left-handed A. A. Wahid rebuilt the innings, with help from V Unni and late flurry of scoring in the last two lovers took Malayasia to 146 for seven. This target looked achievable on a good batting pitch.

Saudi’s start was steady, but the introduction of spin at both ends stifled the scoring. In the sixth over, Saudi attacked but then lost two wickets in the seventh over, the score forty-seven for three. Then came drama. First came the dismissal of the captain, H Shaikh, was adjudged to be stumped and K Abbas caught behind in the same over, the batter being unimpressed to be out.

At 91 for five in the fifteenth over, the game was in the balance. A profitable over of twelve runs then ensued off a left arm quick. The return of slower bowlers brough extra pressure and, despite several lusty blows, the lower order all gave straightforward catches in their attempts to find the boundary. As a result, the innings closed twelve runs short on 134 all out, with five balls spare.

It is a match that Saudi will be disappointed to lose. At 53 for five, the Malaysian innings was in deep trouble, but they managed to wriggle free and then post a competitive score. The Saudi batters had difficulty in scoring sufficiently against the slower bowlers. Even so, to finish twelve runs short with five balls remaining suggests that some improved game management will be beneficial. Overall, the Malaysian team probably fielded better. The margins are so tight in T20 cricket that fielding often makes the difference.

In the other matches of day two, Kuwait made light of Cambodia’s 141 for five, reaching the target in the twelve over for the loss of only two wickets. The UAE totalled an imposing 236 for six against Bahrain, who responded in positive fashion particularly by Ali Butt and I Anwar with some superlative straight hitting. Ultimately, they perished and the team fell short by thirty-seven runs.

However, the real fireworks of the day were provided by Nepal who scored 210 for seven. Before the last over they had scored 174 for seven. Dipendra Singh Airee then smashed six sixes to place himself as only the third player to do that in T20I cricket. The others were Yuvraj Singh in 2007 and Kieron Pollard in 2021. Qatar replied with a spirited 178 for nine and will wonder how much closer they might had been, but for Airee’s blitz.

At the end of day two, the UAE and Nepal lead their respective groups, each with two wins from two matches. Saudi Arabia play Hong Kong in a must win match on Day three.


Shimron Hetmyer seals IPL thriller for Rajasthan Royals over Punjab Kings

Shimron Hetmyer seals IPL thriller for Rajasthan Royals over Punjab Kings
Updated 13 April 2024
Follow

Shimron Hetmyer seals IPL thriller for Rajasthan Royals over Punjab Kings

Shimron Hetmyer seals IPL thriller for Rajasthan Royals over Punjab Kings
  • Royals cemented top spot in the IPL table with third straight win

CHANDIGARH: Shimron Hetmyer provided the finishing touches to Rajasthan Royals’ last-over win against Punjab Kings in an Indian Premier League thriller on Saturday.
Punjab needed 10 runs from the last over, and Hetmyer (27 not out off 10 balls) held his nerve against death-bowling specialist Arshdeep Singh. After two dot deliveries, Hetmyer hit 6-2-6 to help Rajasthan cross the finish line with a ball left.
Rajasthan finished with 152-7 in reply to Punjab’s 147-8.
The Royals cemented top spot in the league with a third straight win, while the slumping Kings were handed a fourth loss in six games.
Put in to bat, Punjab missed Shikhar Dhawan and English allrounder Sam Curran stepped in as skipper.
The hosts were pegged back regularly by losing wickets.
Rajasthan’s spinners squeezed the scoring rate. Yuzvendra Chahal took 1-31 in four overs and Keshav Maharaj picked 2-23. Maharaj dismissed Jonny Bairstow (15) and Curran (6) and helped to reduce Punjab to 52-4 in 9.3 overs.
Jitesh Sharma anchored Punjab with 29 off 24 balls, including two sixes, but it was impact player Ashutosh Sharma who gave Punjab 147 to defend by scoring 31 off 16 until he was dismissed by Trent Boult (1-22) off the final ball.
Tanush Kotian replaced Rajasthan opener Jos Buttler and combined for 56 runs with Yashasvi Jaiswal. Jaiswal, in a slump, scored 39 off 28 balls with four fours.
As opposed to Rajasthan’s spin, Punjab’s pace did the heavy lifting and got the vital breakthroughs. Kagiso Ramada dismissed Jaiswal, and in-form skipper Sanju Samson for 18.
Liam Livingstone bowled Kotian as Rajasthan’s chase was struggling at 89-3 in the 14th over.
At 115-5, Hetmyer and fellow West Indian batter Rovman Powell took charge. Powell 11-off-five cameo gave Rajasthan the impetus that Hetmyer used to finish with a flourish of three sixes.


Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants

Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants
Updated 12 April 2024
Follow

Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants

Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants
  • Australian’s 55-run knock, studded with five sixes and two fours, came to an end when he holed out to Arshad Khan
  • Delhi moved to ninth in the 10-team contest after registering only their second victory

LUCKNOW: Jake Fraser-McGurk smashed a half-century on his Indian Premier League debut as Delhi Capitals thrashed Lucknow Super Giants by six wickets on Friday to reignite their hopes in the money-spinning T20 competition.
Fraser-McGurk, who had celebrated his 22nd birthday on Thursday, shared a 77-run partnership for the third wicket with captain Rishabh Pant (41) to help Delhi overhaul Lucknow’s 167-7 with 11 balls to spare.
Delhi moved to ninth in the 10-team contest after registering only their second victory from six outings.
Lucknow, who came into the match with three wins out of four, are now placed fourth.
“Spent five-six games on the sidelines itching to get out there,” said Fraser-McGurk.
“I’m so happy to be here, different world in terms of cricket. Never seen anything like it, to be able to savour eight weeks, hopefully more, is amazing.”
Delhi lost opener David Warner early with the Australian dragging a ball from Yash Thakur on to his stumps soon after he was attended to by the physio for a blow he took on his knuckles.
Prithvi Shaw (32) was caught brilliantly by Nicholas Pooran at deep midwicket off Ravi Bishnoi but Pant and Fraser-McGurk steadied the innings with their stand.
Fraser-McGurk, who went unsold in the IPL auction but came in as a replacement for Lungi Ngidi, hit Krunal Pandya for three huge sixes in a row in one over to underline his power-hitting prowess.
The Australian’s 55-run knock, studded with five sixes and two fours, came to an end when he holed out to Arshad Khan, but by then Delhi needed just 28 runs off 32 balls.
Pant went past 3,000 IPL runs before being stumped off Bishnoi for 41 off 24 balls including two sixes and four boundaries.
“We were about 15-20 runs short, we should’ve capitalized to get to 180,” said Lucknow skipper K.L. Rahul.
“McGurk was very unknown. We’ve watched a lot of videos of him but he hit the ball really well, credit to him.”
Earlier, Lucknow were off to a fine start after electing to bat but they stumbled after the powerplay, losing two wickets in two balls to left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav (3-20).
Yadav, 29, had missed Delhi’s last two matches due to an injury.
The slow bowler struck to send back Rahul (39 off 22 balls).
Rahul tried to slash the ball which was turning away and a Delhi review confirmed a nick.
Lucknow were tottering at 94-7 in the 13th over but Ayush Badoni top-scored with an unbeaten 35-ball 55 and shared 73 runs for the eighth wicket with Arshad Khan (20 not out) to ensure a fighting total on the board.
It was the first half-century this IPL season for Badoni, who hit one six and five fours.


UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong

UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong
Updated 12 April 2024
Follow

UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong

UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong
  • Saudi Arabia’s cricketers will get their bid for Premier Cup glory underway on Saturday when they host Malaysia

LONDON: Oman and the UAE got their Asian Cricket Council Premier Cup campaigns off to winning starts on Friday as they both look to qualify for next year’s Asia Cup.

The Emiratis beat their Gulf rivals Kuwait by seven wickets at Al-Amarat with two and a half overs to spare.

The Kuwaitis notched up 178/8 from their 20 overs, with Clinto Anto top scoring on 54 from 23 balls.

After a shaky start and a golden duck for captain Muhammad Waseem, the UAE were rarely troubled in their quest to chase down 179, with an imperious 90 runs from 48 balls from Alishan Sharafu, ably supported by Asif Khan’s 74 from seven overs, steering them home.

The Omanis, making the most of the Premier Cup competition being played on home soil, saw off Bahrain in a thriller.

Aqib Ilyas top-scored for the hosts with a solid knock of 62 from 53 deliveries as they reached 177 for the loss of three from their 20 overs.

The Bahrainis fell just four runs short of their 178 target as eight wickets fell in their innings.

Also on Friday, Qatar were resoundingly beaten in the other group of the tournament as Hong Kong set a daunting target of 202 for victory.

The Qataris started well, with opener Saqlain Arshad reaching his half-century inside six overs, but they started to lose quick wickets and ended up losing by 26 runs.

Saudi Arabia’s cricketers will get their bid for Premier Cup glory underway on Saturday when they host Malaysia in Al-Amarat.


Kishan and Bumrah lead Mumbai to 7-wicket win over Bengaluru in IPL

Kishan and Bumrah lead Mumbai to 7-wicket win over Bengaluru in IPL
Updated 11 April 2024
Follow

Kishan and Bumrah lead Mumbai to 7-wicket win over Bengaluru in IPL

Kishan and Bumrah lead Mumbai to 7-wicket win over Bengaluru in IPL
  • Chasing 198 for victory, Ishan Kishan smacked 69 off 34 balls and then Suryakumar Yadav smacked 52 off only 19 balls
  • Mumbai finished with 199-3 in reply to Bengaluru’s 196-8 in 20 overs with Dinesh Karthik scoring 53 not out off 26 balls

MUMBAI, India: A whirlwind batting performance powered the Mumbai Indians to a stunning seven-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bengaluru in the Indian Premier League on Thursday.
Chasing 198 for victory, Ishan Kishan smacked 69 off 34 balls and then Suryakumar Yadav smacked 52 off only 19 balls as Mumbai crossed the finish line in 15.3 overs.
It finished with 199-3 in reply to Bengaluru’s 196-8 in 20 overs with Dinesh Karthik scoring 53 not out off 26 balls.
Put into bat, Bengaluru’s batting faltered against Jasprit Bumrah who picked 5-21 in four overs and restricted the visitors to an under-par score.
Bumrah broke through in the third over and had leading run-scorer Virat Kohli caught behind for three runs.
English batter Will Jacks had been drafted in for Australian all-rounder Cameron Green, but he too fell to Bumrah for only 8.
Skipper Faf du Plessis and Rajat Patidar put on 82 off 47 balls for the third wicket. Du Plessis found form again and scored his first half-century of the season — 61 off 40 balls, including four fours and three sixes.
Patidar scored 50 off 26 balls as Bengaluru’s innings seemed to correct course. But Mumbai struck back with Gerald Coetzee getting the breakthrough to send back Patidar.
Another big moment followed when Glenn Maxwell was out lbw for a four-ball duck to spinner Shreyas Gopal.
Bumrah returned to sink the remaining Bengaluru lineup — he was on a hat trick twice, but missed out on both. He had du Plessis caught in the 17th over, and then Mahipal Lomror for a duck in the 17th over. Two overs later, he picked another brace off consecutive deliveries.
Karthik held one end together though, hitting four sixes and five fours to prop up Bengaluru from 153-6 in 16.5 overs, falling just short of 200.
It wasn’t going to be enough on a dewy Wankhede wicket, but Mumbai seemed to be in a hurry.
Kishan put on 101 off only 53 balls with Rohit Sharma (38), as he blazed seven fours and five sixes.
Bengaluru’s bowling had no response, or respite, with Mumbai crossing 100 in the ninth over.
Kishan was finally caught in the deep, but Yadav walked in to further torment the visitors. He hit four sixes, and another five fours, scoring 50 off only 17 balls.
Sharma was dismissed in the 12th over, even as it didn’t slow down proceedings. Yadav was out caught in the 14th over, with Mumbai on the cusp of victory and duly won the game with 27 balls to spare.
It was Bengaluru’s fifth loss in six games, along with a major hit to its net run-rate, as it sunk to ninth in the points’ table.
Mumbai moved up to seventh with four points from five games.