England and Pakistan’s T20 World Cup preparations blighted by fresh wash-out

England and Pakistan’s T20 World Cup preparations blighted by fresh wash-out
Spectators sit with umbrellas in the stand as rain delays the start of play Cricket — Third T20 International — England v Pakistan — Sophia Gardens Cricket Ground, Cardiff on May 28, 2024. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 May 2024
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England and Pakistan’s T20 World Cup preparations blighted by fresh wash-out

England and Pakistan’s T20 World Cup preparations blighted by fresh wash-out
  • The woeful scenes in the Welsh capital followed another complete washout in the first of this four-match T20 series at Headingley
  • England remain 1-0 up with one to play at The Oval on Thursday after a 23-run win in at Edgbaston

CARDIFF: England and Pakistan’s Twenty20 World Cup preparations were again dented by bad weather as the third international in Cardiff on Tuesday was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
The woeful scenes in the Welsh capital followed another complete washout in the first of this four-match T20 series at Headingley.
England remain 1-0 up with one to play at The Oval on Thursday after a 23-run win in at Edgbaston but this latest abandonment came just a week before they begin their T20 World Cup title defense against Scotland in Barbados on June 4.
Rain in Cardiff on Tuesday started to fall steadily an hour before the scheduled 1730 GMT start, with a capacity 15,600 crowd expected at Sophia Gardens.
But the bad weather delayed the toss, with the pitch and square at Sophia Gardens remaining fully covered.
And minutes after a 1910 GMT inspection, the umpires abandoned the match due to a saturated outfield and persistent rain.
The teams will now travel to London for Thursday’s finale at The Oval in the hope of one last chance for competitive action ahead of the T20 World Cup.
Pakistan, the 2009 T20 World Cup winners, start this year’s tournament against co-hosts the United States in Dallas on June 6.


England bat in rain-hit must-win T20 World Cup game against Namibia

England bat in rain-hit must-win T20 World Cup game against Namibia
Updated 15 June 2024
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England bat in rain-hit must-win T20 World Cup game against Namibia

England bat in rain-hit must-win T20 World Cup game against Namibia
  • England are currently two points behind Scotland in Group B
  • Title-holders England inflicted an eight-wicket thrashing of Oman on Thursday as they chased down a target of 48 in just 19 balls

NORTH SOUND, Antigua and Barbuda: Reigning champions England were sent in to bat by Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus after rain reduced their must-win T20 World Cup game in Antigua on Saturday to an 11-overs per side contest.
Anything other than a victory would see Jos Buttler’s men knocked out, with Scotland joining already-qualified Australia in the second-round Super Eights before the two countries meet later Saturday in St. Lucia.
England are currently two points behind Scotland in Group B but with a superior net run-rate that will be the tie-breaker if both teams finish level on points.
Title-holders England inflicted an eight-wicket thrashing of Oman on Thursday as they chased down a target of 48 in just 19 balls — the largest win in T20 World Cup history in terms of balls remaining.
But the game with already-eliminated Namibia is England’s last in a Group B where their opening match against Scotland ended in a washout before they suffered a convincing 36-run loss to Australia.
Even if England beat Namibia, they could still be knocked out should Scotland achieve a stunning upset win over Australia or if that game ends in a no-result.
England, in a game delayed by three hours, made two changes to the team that hammered Oman, with left-arm paceman Sam Curran and ‘death’ bowler Chris Jordan replacing express quick Mark Wood and spin-bowling all-rounder Will Jacks.

Teams
England: Phil Salt, Jos Buttler (capt/wkt), Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley
Namibia: Nikolaas Davin, Michael van Lingen, Jan Frylinck, JP Kotze, Gerhard Erasmus (capt), JJ Smit, David Wiese, Zane Green (wkt), Ruben Trumpelmann, Bernard Scholtz, Jack Brassell

Umpires: Adrian Holdstock (RSA), Langton Rusere (ZIM)
TV umpire: Rashid Riaz (PAK)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)


US cricket team advances to second round in Twenty20 World Cup debut at Pakistan’s expense

US cricket team advances to second round in Twenty20 World Cup debut at Pakistan’s expense
Updated 15 June 2024
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US cricket team advances to second round in Twenty20 World Cup debut at Pakistan’s expense

US cricket team advances to second round in Twenty20 World Cup debut at Pakistan’s expense

LAUDERHILL, Florida: The United States cricket team made more history by reaching the second round in its Twenty20 World Cup debut after its last group game against Ireland was washed out on Friday.
Rain meant the match at Broward County Stadium was abandoned without a ball bowled, advancing the Americans to the Super Eight stage and automatically qualifying them for the 2026 Twenty20 World Cup in India and Sri Lanka.
The US qualified for this T20 World Cup only as a co-host with the West Indies, but it has used home advantage to make a stunning first impression in its first major cricket tournament.
While the Americans progressed alongside unbeaten India from Group A, former champion Pakistan and winless Ireland were eliminated from Super Eight contention.
Pakistan won the title in 2009 and reached two more finals, including at the last T20 World Cup in 2022. Pakistan has failed to get out of the group stage for the first time. Ireland was expected to be a threat, too. The Irish also reached the second round on debut in 2009 and repeated in 2022.
The competition point from the washout was enough for the US to advance after beating Canada in Texas and stunning Pakistan in Texas during the first week.
Tying Pakistan in regular overs then beating it in a super over was one of the greatest upsets in the tournament’s history.
The Americans were thumped by India, one of the title favorites, as expected on Wednesday but the hosts’ progression without being able to play on Friday was still well deserved.
The umpires made four inspections of the wet outfield before heavy rain arrived at around 1:30 p.m. local time and the match was called off three hours after its scheduled start.
The 17th-ranked US joined the West Indies, India, Australia, South Africa and Afghanistan in the Super Eight, with two more teams yet to qualify. The Super Eight starting on Wednesday splits into two groups, with each team guaranteed three games to try and reach the semifinals.
Nepal wins toss
At Kingstown, St. Vincent, Nepal won the toss and chose to bowl in its later match against Group D leaders South Africa, the first international match between the teams.
South Africa already has qualified for the Super Eight stage after winning its first three matches against the Netherlands, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. South Africa’s first match in the Super Eight playoffs is next Wednesday against the US in Antigua.
Nepal lost to the Netherlands in its opening match and its second match against Sri Lanka was rained out, meaning this will be its first game in 10 days. It is also the first match at the tournament to be played in St. Vincent.
Nepal captain Rauhit Praudel said he elected to bowl first to take advantage of easier batting conditions in the second innings. Proteas captain Aiden Markram said he would have chosen to bat first.
For the first time at the tournament, Nepal has been able to select its leading player Sandeep Lamichhane. Lamichhane was convicted of rape in January and sentenced to eight years in jail. But his conviction was overturned in May by the Nepal High Court.
His application for a visa to travel with the Nepal squad to the United States was rejected. But he has been able to join the team in St. Vincent, bringing the Nepal squad up to its full complement of 15 players in the Caribbean.
New Zealand bowls first
At Tarouba, Trinidad, New Zealand won the toss and chose to bowl in a Group C match against Uganda. The West Indies and Bangladesh already have taken the two Super Eight qualifying spots available from the group.
New Zealand lost its first two matches at the tournament to Bangladesh and the West Indies and can no longer qualify. It sits at the bottom of the group behind Uganda which has two points from a win over Papua New Guinea.
New Zealand’s failure at this tournament ends a run of success at white ball World Cups. It has reached at least the semifinals of the last six white-ball world tournaments over the last decade.


England thrash Oman to revive T20 World Cup campaign

England thrash Oman to revive T20 World Cup campaign
Updated 14 June 2024
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England thrash Oman to revive T20 World Cup campaign

England thrash Oman to revive T20 World Cup campaign
  • This overwhelming Group B victory meant England recorded the largest win in T20 World Cup history in terms of balls remaining
  • Oman had no answer to England's attack, leg-spinner Adil Rashid taking 4-11, while Jofra Archer and Mark Wood had 3-12 figures

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda: England thrashed Oman by eight wickets as the reigning champions revived their T20 World Cup campaign with a record-breaking success in Antigua on Thursday.
Needing a heavy win to bolster their net run-rate (NRR) as they attempt to overhaul Scotland in the race to qualify for the second-round Super Eights, England dismissed Oman for just 47.
England then made 50-2 in a mere 3.1 overs, captain Jos Buttler 24 not out and Jonny Bairstow, who hit the winning boundary, unbeaten on eight.
This overwhelming Group B victory meant England recorded the largest win in T20 World Cup history in terms of balls remaining.
Oman had no answer to England’s combination of spin and pace, leg-break bowler Adil Rashid taking 4-11 from his four overs, while express quicks Jofra Archer and Mark Wood both had figures of 3-12 in an innings that ended with nearly seven overs to spare.
Number seven Shoaib Khan (11) was the only Oman batsman to reach double figures after Buttler won the toss.
Significantly, England’s NRR climbed to 3.081, better than Scotland’s 2.16. England, however, stayed third on three points, behind Scotland’s five.
Already-eliminated Oman, who ended the tournament having lost all four of the games, just scraped past the record lowest completed total of 39 at any T20 World Cup, posted by fellow-non Test nation Uganda against co-hosts West Indies in Guyana last week.
Archer did the early damage with 2-12 in nine balls.
Oman then lost two wickets in Wood’s first over as they slumped to 25-4 in six overs.
The very next delivery wicketkeeper Buttler luckily removed the bails at the second attempt to stump Khalid Kail off Rashid’s first ball Thursday as wickets continued to tumble.
Phil Salt struck the first two balls of England’s chase for six, only to be bowled off the third by Bilal Khan, but his side were on their way.
England, beaten by Australia after their group game with Scotland was abandoned due to rain, play Namibia on Saturday.
Australia and Scotland, however, will meet on Sunday after England have completed their group games.


The unimaginable pressure of playing top class cricket

The unimaginable pressure of playing top class cricket
Updated 13 June 2024
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The unimaginable pressure of playing top class cricket

The unimaginable pressure of playing top class cricket
  • Fear of failure is ever present, so a premium is placed on eliminating mistakes, since continued underperforming can mean the end of a contract or career

Fans of cricket may find it impossible to understand the pressures that professional players are under. Although some of us have played good standard club cricket and faced tight match situations, we have not had the pressure of our career and livelihood being at stake, playing in front of crowds, screened by the media and subject to scrutiny. This is now ubiquitous, both mainstream and on social media.

It was instructive, therefore, to listen to one England’s greatest batsmen, at a time before batter became the preferred term and social media existed, provide some insights into these pressures. This was none other than Yorkshire and England’s Geoffrey Boycott. The occasion marked the launch of the 11th book under Boycott’s name — “Being Geoffrey Boycott,” published by Fairfield books — 60 years since he made his debut for England on June 4, 1964. 

This was at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, against Australia. Looking at pictures of him on the day, his large glasses, cap and kit, unadorned by sponsorship logos, are a large remove from the appearance of modern-day cricketers. However, there is a commonality: that of pressure to succeed. In Boycott’s case, that pressure had been heightened when he was told, aged 17, that he needed to wear glasses. This ended his football career, during which he played for Leeds United’s under-18 team. 

In his debut match he top scored in England’s first innings but could not bat in the second because of a finger injury sustained in the first. This kept him out of the following two matches before he scored his maiden Test match century in August 1964. He would go on to score 8,114 runs in 108 Test matches in a career which had its fair share of controversy and turmoil. Between 1974 and 1977 Boycott made himself unavailable for England selection focussing, instead, on captaining Yorkshire.

In late September 1978, his mother died. Two days afterwards, Yorkshire’s committee met to inform Boycott that he was to be removed as the county’s captain because of a failure to win trophies and his unpopularity amongst the players. Boycott was asked if he had suffered from mental health issues during these years. He said no, he had been close to his mother and it had saddened him to see her deteriorate week after week. His reaction was a natural one to a deeply mourned loss. The treatment by Yorkshire compounded this, in terms of its timing and nature.

From the outside this appears a cold-hearted decision, especially its timing. Boycott was devastated. He continued as a player the following season, breaking more records. This says much about his determination to succeed against the odds. He was known for being a singular man and for spending time away from teammates after play. Cricket involves a series of battles between individuals, primarily between bowler and batter. A wicket, a boundary, a catch, a century, a five-wicket haul represents individual achievement within a team setting. Opponents look to identify and expose weaknesses.

It can be argued that this is the case in all sports. However, cricket has a difference, especially with batting. If a batter makes a mistake, he or she is not straight into the next piece of action. There is time to reflect on the reason for the dismissal. It may be days before the player’s next innings. This allows much time for introspection, analysis and self-analysis.

The fear of failure is ever present, so a premium is placed on eliminating mistakes, since continued underperformance can mean the end of a contract or career. Fear induces nervousness, breeds insecurity and anxiety, creating conditions which counteract those needed to succeed. They are also conditions which sports psychologists recognise as underpinning mental illness.

Professional cricketers, as with other athletes, have an inherent desire to succeed. The consequences of failure are evident from an early age and often result in being dropped from the team. Boycott admitted to having a fear of failure during his career, of nerves and of a determination to overcome them. He said that he was able to block out all external noise when batting. This set him apart from many other players, revealing immense mental strength. He also emphasized the need for high-quality technique and practice. This was echoed by a former Australia captain, Ricky Ponting, who contends that, unless playing a certain shot or bowling a particular delivery has not become a habit, it is almost impossible to produce that shot or delivery under pressure.

Such pressure situations have grown exponentially with the advent of T20 cricket.  These are evident in abundance in the current ICC men’s T20 World Cup. South Africa were 3 for three against the Netherlands and 27 for four against Bangladesh, but recovered to make scores that were just sufficient to earn victory. The recoveries were instigated by the middle order batters, notably David Miller. Imagine the pressure that was on him to perform, especially as South Africa has a history of losing matches which it should have won. Crucially, he reined in his natural game and adapted to the pitch conditions. Bangladesh required 11 runs from six deliveries to win against South Africa, two batters were caught on the boundary trying to hit sixes. The match between India and Pakistan went to a super over. Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir was entrusted with it but, under pressure, failed to bowl straight and Pakistan lost. 

The margins in these pressure situations are very thin. Results can go either way, determined by the performance of those who have trained themselves to be able to handle such situations. The mentality required for this was exemplified by Geoffrey Boycott’s approach to the game, completely unlike that of an all-time great Australian all-rounder, Keith Miller, who had served with the Royal Australian Air Force in the Second World War. His dashing approach to life and cricket was summed up in a single (adapted) quote: “Pressure is a Messerschmitt directly behind you, playing cricket is not.”

How times have changed.             


Rutherford rescues West Indies against New Zealand

Rutherford rescues West Indies against New Zealand
Updated 13 June 2024
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Rutherford rescues West Indies against New Zealand

Rutherford rescues West Indies against New Zealand
  • Rutherford hit 68 off 39 balls

TAROUBA, Trinidad and Tobago: Sherfane Rutherford rescued the West Indies from a seemingly hopeless position to a competitive 149 for nine batting first against New Zealand in a Group C match of the T20 World Cup at the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad on Wednesday.
Rutherford’s unbeaten 68 off 39 balls (two fours, six sixes) lifted the home side from the depths of 30 for five in the seventh over after they were put in by Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson.
He received invaluable support from the lower order, adding 28 with Akeal Hosein for the sixth wicket, 27 with Romario Shepherd for the eighth and then plundered all 37 runs in the last two overs of the innings with last man Gudakesh Motie happy to look on from the non-striker’s end.
Earlier, Trent Boult led New Zealand’s much-improved effort by dispatching Johnson Charles in the first over of the match, finishing with the excellent figures of three for 16.
He received good support from Lockie Ferguson and the recalled Tim Southee with two wickets each as the 2021 beaten finalists, humiliated in their opening fixture against Afghanistan in Guyana last week, looked tuned-in and turned-on for what is effectively a must-win situation for them in seeking to advance to the Super Eight phase of the competition.
After victories over Papua New Guinea and Uganda at the Guyana National Stadium, West Indies seemed unprepared for the challenge, until Rutherford intervened to transform what was shaping up as an abject capitulation.