South Africa works hard to beat United States in Super Eight at T20 World Cup

South Africa works hard to beat United States in Super Eight at T20 World Cup
United States' Andries Gous plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between the United States and South Africa at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 20 June 2024

South Africa works hard to beat United States in Super Eight at T20 World Cup

South Africa works hard to beat United States in Super Eight at T20 World Cup
  • Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada claimed 3-18 and spinner Keshav Maharaj got the prized wicket of US captain Aaron Jones for a duck — no runs — to finish with 1-24

NORTH SOUND, Antigua: South Africa had to work hard to earn an 18-run win over the fast-improving United States in the opening game of the Super Eight at the Twenty20 World Cup on Wednesday.
Andries Gous made an unbeaten 80 off 47 balls for the US — against country of his birth — to move atop the batting chart at the World Cup before South Africa restricted the Americans at 176-6.
Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada claimed 3-18 and spinner Keshav Maharaj got the prized wicket of US captain Aaron Jones for a duck — no runs — to finish with 1-24.
Quinton de Kock had earlier made a rampant 74 off 40 balls and Heinrich Klaasen provided the perfect finish with 36 not out in the South African total of 194-4 after Jones won the toss and elected to field.
“Pretty happy with the performance as a whole,” South Africa captain Aiden Markram said. “A couple of overs here and there we need to tidy up … but the wicket definitely changes and gets a bit slower, and they were a lot less sloppy.”
Despite four straight wins during the group stage, South Africa had been struggling in the power play throughout the tournament with its top score of 38 in the first six overs against Nepal.
But de Kock opened in friendlier conditions for batters in the West Indies than in the US as he smacked fast bowler Jaspeep Singh for three straight sixes in a 28-run over during the power play that provided South Africa momentum for a big total.
De Kock and Markram (46 off 32 balls) dominated both spinners and the pacers as they raised a solid 110-run stand after Saurabh Netravalkar (2-21) had provided the early breakthrough by getting the wicket of Reeza Hendricks in his second over.
Left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh (2-24) got plenty of grip off the slow wicket and squeezed the runs when he had de Kock caught in the deep and then David Miller offered a tame return catch to the spinner off the first ball he faced.
De Kock’s first half-century in the tournament featured five sixes and seven boundaries as he utilized the short boundaries on one side of the wicket with his perfect pull shots before he missed out on Singh’s full toss.
“We’ve had some tricky wickets so it was nice to spend sometime in the middle today,” de Kock said. “The USA put us under pressure toward the end. It was a great game.”
Netravalkar, who bowled a sensational Super Over in the United States’ historic win over heavyweights Pakistan in the group stage, struck immediately in his return spell when Markram was brilliantly caught by diving Ali Khan at deep backward point off a full pitched ball.
But Klaasen used all his T20 experience in the last five overs and struck three sixes while Tristan Stubbs also hit two fours in his 16-ball unbeaten 20 which lifted South Africa total.
Steven Taylor provided the US a confident start with four boundaries and a six in his quickfire knock of 24 off 14 balls before he ballooned a catch at mid-on as Rabada struck twice off his first two overs in the power play.
South Africa pulled back nicely through Maharaj, who had Jones caught behind for a five-ball zero, and when Corey Anderson’s stumps were knocked back by Anrich Nortje in the 10th over, the US still needed 124 for victory.
But Gous and Singh (38) revived US hopes as they came down hard on wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi (1-50) and added 91 runs for the sixth-wicket stand. Gous completed his half-century with two successive big sixes against Nortje as the batting pair brought down the target to 28 off the final two overs.
However, Rabada bowled a brilliant penultimate over for just two runs and also had Singh caught at mid-wicket that fizzled out the US hopes of another upset.
“Hard to take a defeat after coming so close,” Jones said. “We did lack discipline in the bowling at times, (but) once we play good cricket we can beat any team in the world. We need to be a lot more disciplined.”
Co-host West Indies and England are the other teams in Super Eights Group 2 and will meet in St. Lucia later Wednesday.

Equity for women’s cricket edges closer

Equity for women’s cricket edges closer
Updated 25 July 2024

Equity for women’s cricket edges closer

Equity for women’s cricket edges closer
  • England’s captain Heather Knight has emphasized that the women’s game must avoid falling into the same traps as the men’s by having too much franchise cricket

The 2024 annual conference of the International Cricket Council was held in Colombo between July 19 and 22, and one of its outcomes reaffirmed the ICC’s commitment to equity in the game.

The 2030 women’s T20 World Cup will comprise 16 teams, up from 12 in 2026. In the forthcoming 2024 competition, between Oct. 3 and 20 in Bangladesh, 10 teams will participate. An increase to 16 in 2030 is not quite equity, since the 2024 men’s T20I World Cup comprised 20. However, it ought to be regarded as a step in the right direction.

Women’s cricket has grown very quickly in the last decade. Heather Knight, England’s captain, who spoke at the World Cricket Connects event at Lords on July 5, which was reviewed in last week’s column, emphasized that the women’s game must learn lessons from the men’s game and avoid falling into the same traps.

The main trap to which she seemed to be referring is franchise cricket. There are now 11 men’s franchise leagues compared with four for women. Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League started in 2015/2016, followed in England and Wales by The Hundred in 2021, the West Indies Caribbean League in 2022, and India’s Women’s Premier League in 2023.

Knight is expecting this number to grow. What concerns her is how that growth will be managed.

The expansion of men’s franchise leagues has led to a very crowded calendar that has already forced some Test match cricket out of its historic temporal rhythm and ODI cricket to the margin. There is simply no room to accommodate every format to its full extent.

Knight’s concern is that if the women’s game falls into similar scheduling issues the consequences could be even more severe. She stressed the need for a clear direction to be established, supported by good governance.

It is not clear in which direction she was looking. The ICC is cricket’s governing body. A franchise league requires sanctioning by the ICC in order to be legitimate. If this was refused, players participating in such a league would be barred from existing franchises and international cricket. It is not known if any applications have been refused.

The ICC warns members about dubious offers from intermediaries to organize a franchise league. So far, these actions appear sufficient to deter notions of breakaway leagues.

However, the ICC has not been able to establish a universal limit on the number of overseas players per playing lineup across the franchises. Its preferred number is four. In July 2023, the ICC’s Chief Executives Committee could not reach agreement on the number.

This was a relief to the DP World ILT20 and the US’ Major Cricket League, which allow nine and six international players in starting lineups. It is understood that the Board of Control for Cricket in India, although in agreement with the principle of a limit of four, was against imposing restrictions, a rather anomalous position.

Market forces clearly dominate the men’s game, with some players choosing to follow the money, either by electing franchise cricket over country or one franchise over another.

Knight fears that uncontrolled market forces will affect the women’s game disproportionately. This is because there is a shallower pool of women players in many countries.

If the best players are attracted by the franchise leagues, they may be lost either totally or partially to international cricket. This will be weakened as a result, along with the international team which the players represented.

It is also the case that women’s salaries and the amount of funding available to national cricket boards vary widely. The amount of Test cricket played by women is much lower than by men. In theory, this should cause less of a scheduling issue in women’s cricket.

Yet, Knight is concerned that a proper balance is found, so that players are able to play both for their country and in franchise leagues. The former remains the peak of ambition, the latter an opportunity to earn money and be exposed to different experiences. There have already been examples of the top players having to juggle availability, a situation that Knight is asking to be minimized.

Her aim is laudable, but who will take responsibility to plan coherent schedules? Market forces have a habit of winning if not regulated, as is apparent from the men’s game, in which there seems no turning back.

A new test of market forces is looming which will affect both the men’s and women’s games. This relates to The Hundred and the England and Wales Cricket Board’s proposal to sell off 49 percent of the competition’s equity, valued at $515 million (£400 million) or more by the board. The balance of 51 percent equity would be owned by each of the six host counties, free to decide what to do with it.

Rumors abound that those private investors who have expressed interest are becoming frustrated at the lack of clarity over what they will receive for their funding, a reluctance by counties to sell their equity, a desire to exercise a veto over who could buy stakes, and a lack of player-availability guarantees.

It is known that there is interest from Indian Premier League franchise owners who are sure to want as much control as possible. The ECB’s CEO has said that “English cricket is not for sale.”

There are many variables at play in this complex scenario. At its base, selling and buying parties are seeking to maximize financial returns and control. This normal economic equation is clouded by the sellers’ desires to protect the heritage of English and Welsh cricket. There is no guarantee that the buyers will do that or even understand it.

By acclaim, The Hundred has been positive for women’s cricket. Knight’s hopes for orderly schedules may be dashed by the machinations over that competition, which are directed mainly by men. This seems unfair given the heightened profile and contribution of women in cricket.

It would be no surprise if they felt a need to control their own competitions and schedules.

Suryakumar takes over as India’s new T20 skipper

Suryakumar takes over as India’s new T20 skipper
Updated 18 July 2024

Suryakumar takes over as India’s new T20 skipper

Suryakumar takes over as India’s new T20 skipper
  • Decision comes after former skipper Rohit Sharma quit shortest format last month
  • Suryakumar last year led India to a 4-1 series win over Australia, 1-1 draw against South Africa

NEW DELHI: Suryakumar Yadav has been named India’s T20 captain, the country’s cricket board announced Thursday, after Rohit Sharma quit the shortest format following last month’s World Cup triumph.
The 33-year-old Suryakumar will lead a 15-member T20 squad to tour Sri Lanka for three internationals starting on July 27 in Pallekele. 
Shubman Gill recently led a second-string Indian side to a 4-1 T20 series victory in Zimbabwe and has been named vice-captain in T20 and ODI matches.
Rohit will continue to lead the ODI team, which will follow the T20 side by taking on Sri Lanka in three matches on August 2, 4 and 7 at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium.
Virat Kohli will also return for the 50-over matches, while pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah remains absent from the tour after a grueling season.
Rohit and Kohli had decided to take a break but returned for the ODI matches as India begin preparations for next year’s Champions Trophy to be hosted by Pakistan.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya, who was Rohit’s deputy in the T20 World Cup, had started as a frontrunner for the job but lost out due to his frequent injury breakdowns.
Pandya, 30, suffered an ankle injury during the ODI World Cup at home last year and was out of action until the start of this season’s Indian Premier League where he returned to captain Mumbai Indians.
Pandya remains part of the T20 squad but is out of the ODI series, which will see the return of Shreyas Iyer, who earlier lost out on his contract with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Suryakumar, an attacking middle-order batsman who has been India’s go-to player in the T20 format, remained new coach Gautam Gambhir’s top choice, according to media reports.
Rohit, Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja announced their retirements from the T20 format after India’s thrilling win over South Africa in the final last month in Barbados.
The match was also Rahul Dravid’s last as head coach and Gambhir was handed the job last week to build on the team’s World Cup win.
Suryakumar, who previously captained Mumbai in domestic cricket, last year led India to a 4-1 T20 series win over Australia and followed it up with a 1-1 result in South Africa.
T20I squad: Suryakumar Yadav (capt), Shubman Gill (vice-capt), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rinku Singh, Riyan Parag, Rishabh Pant (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Hardik Pandya, Shivam Dube, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj
ODI squad: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill (vice-capt), Virat Kohli, KL Rahul (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar, Arshdeep Singh, Riyan Parag, Axar Patel, Khaleel Ahmed, Harshit Rana

Cricket’s future path is clear after recent forum

Cricket’s future path is clear after recent forum
Updated 18 July 2024

Cricket’s future path is clear after recent forum

Cricket’s future path is clear after recent forum
  • World Cricket Connects brought together more than 100 influential voices in the game

A focus of this column over the last three years has been the rapidly changing landscape of professional cricket. Some things which may have seemed like straws in the wind in mid-June 2021 are now in full flow, unlikely to be stopped even by hurricane-strength storms.

Cricket’s governing body is the International Cricket Council, tasked with managing the game. In a previous era, this had been the responsibility of the Marylebone Cricket Club. The latter still has influence in the game. Early this year, its current president, Mark Nicholas, an urbane former professional cricketer, initiated the idea of a forum to discuss cricket’s future. This was held on July 5 at Lord’s prior to England’s Test match against the West Indies.

The gathering was called World Cricket Connects. It brought together more than 100 influential voices in the game, including chairs and CEOs from five ICC full members, plus associate nations, Scotland and Oman. Former and current players, both men and women, were present, along with several executives of T20 franchises.

There was one notable omission. Jay Shah, secretary of the Board for Control of Cricket in India, was not there. He had sent his apologies. The need to be pictured with the T20 World Cup Trophy in India prevailed. Why not, especially after an election victory, since his father is Prime Minister Modi’s interior minister. The BCCI’s priorities are clear. They were clear in September 2021 when it pulled its team from a deciding Test match against England, citing mental health issues, only for the players to return immediately to perform in the Indian Premier League.

Without Shah, described by Nicholas as the most powerful person in cricket, the event was an emperor without clothes. Reports of its content took time to emerge. The ICC chair was reported to have said that the ICC is not fit for purpose and that as a “members’ organization,” it falls short of being a global governing body. Whilst not a revelation to many, the fact that it was said in a semi-public forum is a surprise, perhaps reflecting frustration at India’s power. This is not going to decline.

Ravi Shastri, Inda’s representative and a recent former coach, put forward a view that the 12 teams playing Test cricket should have a promotion and relegation system, with two tiers of six, including promotion and relegation. It may well come to that position, hastened by the costs of hosting Test cricket.

In this context, enter the ICC’s long-term ambition for cricket to become the world’s favorite sport. This translates into leading, growing and promoting cricket. The ICC is not really a governing body. It is an organizer and facilitator of global events, a builder of long-term successful commercial partnerships and a catalyst for growth. Almost as an afterthought, it says that “it will continue to make considerable efforts to protect the integrity of the sport.”

On the latter, there remain doubts, Betting is rife in the game. I have been moved by ICC officials from boundary side positions because I may be passing on information obtained from players to gambling companies. This not something that I would do and I am hardly the problem. It is unlikely that betting’s influence on cricket got a mention at Lord’s, which it should have done.

As we all know, T20 is the growth engine of modern-day cricket, like it or not. This fits the ICC’s vision, it is completely in tune with that of the BCCI and it fits with the growth of cricket in countries where growth would not have been possible otherwise. In this context, I was amazed to be appraised of a tournament hosted by Poland, involving teams from Latvia, Lithuania and Montenegro. My amazement centered on the Montenegro Bokaneers team.

It had three players with the surname of Plastics, its base registered as Brighton (England) and had one player with whom I have shared a pitch on more than one occasion. T20 cricket has democratized the game, but at what cost? At the World Cricket Connects event it was reported that there was much talk of money, about levering the consumer and responding to commercial forces. Apparently, those forces are killing Test cricket for all but the major countries. It costs upward of £1 million ($1.3 million) for Ireland and Scotland, for example, to host a Test match, without commensurate return from gate receipts, broadcasting rights and sponsorship. In Pakistan, costs of providing security for a Test match series are estimated to be up to $5 million.

Meanwhile, viewership levels for One Day International cricket have fallen by a quarter since 2019. In that context, discussions about reducing the number of “meaningless” matches surfaced, whatever that means. Some people may regard the recent England vs. West Indies Test match at Lord’s, completed in just over two days, as meaningless. Those who played a Test at Lord’s for the first time, one of whom took 12 wickets, are likely to disagree. In Scotland, the men’s team is hosting Oman and Namibia as part of the ICC Cricket World Cup League Two, part of the qualifying process for the 2027 ODI World Cup. In general, Scotland is desperate to play more cricket, especially against top-quality opposition, in matches that would have real meaning, as it seeks to improve its position in world cricket. Even Latvia vs. Montenegro Bokaneers has meaning for those who achieved an ambition of playing in an “international” match.

The sad truth is that professional cricket has been captured by commercial forces and, in particular, by those in India. Those forces are advertisers, producers of goods and services, broadcasters, betting companies and sponsors. Their most comfortable outlet is T20 cricket, given its short format and adaptability to broadcasting schedules. The COVID-19 pandemic caused substantial financial losses for cricket worldwide that have accelerated the rush to the T20 format, which looks set to dominate the future in its thrall to money. It now seems clear that both Test and ODI cricket will need to shrink to accommodate this new reality of commercialism and measurement of success by income generation.

Frank Worrell’s central role in the transformation of West Indian cricket

Frank Worrell’s central role in the transformation of West Indian cricket
Updated 11 July 2024

Frank Worrell’s central role in the transformation of West Indian cricket

Frank Worrell’s central role in the transformation of West Indian cricket
  • Two recent biographies, ‘Son of Grace’ by Vaneisa Baksh and ‘Worrell’ by Simon Lister, have sought to establish the essence of the man on and off the cricket field

On July 10, England’s men’s Test team opened play against the West Indies at Lords in the first of a three-match series.

There is a perception that England is the stronger side, largely because so many senior West Indian players are not in the squad. A number have chosen to play lucrative franchise cricket in North America in July and August.

In terms of Test cricket, there is a callowness about the West Indian squad. Only four have played more than 20 Tests, whilst the squad’s aggregate number of Tests is 237, only 60 more than that notched up by England’s James Anderson, for whom the Lords Test is scheduled to be his last.

The aggregate number of Tests played by England’s squad is 606, so it is well ahead on experience. In addition to Anderson, Joe Root has played 140 Tests and Ben Stokes 102, whilst four others exceed 20.

This imbalance is a far cry from the mid to late 1970s to the early 1990s when the West Indies dominated world cricket. The West Indian team won the inaugural ODI World Cup in 1975 and retained the title in 1979, before relinquishing it to India in 1983.

Since then, the West Indies have failed to reach an ODI final. During the 1980s the West Indies were imperious in Test cricket, setting a then record of 11 consecutive victories in 1984 and twice drubbing England 5-0. The success was based on a fearsome four-man fast bowling attack and four of the best batters in the world.

Seeds for this era of dominance had been laid during the 1960s, something that the captain of the 1980s dominant team, Clive Lloyd, has always been quick to point out and acknowledge. Two men, the previous captains, stand out, Sir Garfield (Gary) Sobers and Sir Frank Worrell.

Sobers, for me, is the finest all-round cricketer of all time, certainly the finest I ever had the privilege of watching. Worrell, by all accounts, was a fine player, batting in a languid, yet classical style. However, it was his role in the transformation of West Indian cricket that is his legacy.

In his autobiography, “Cricket Punch,” published in 1959, before he became captain of the West Indies, Worrell revealed little of himself. A biography in 1963 by a Guyanese broadcaster, Ernest Eytle, with commentary by Worrell, was a cricket book.

A slim biography appeared in 1969 by Undine Guiseppe, followed by one by English writer Ivo Tennant in 1987 that revealed much more about Worrell, the person. After a pictorial biography was published in 1992 by Torrey Pilgrim, interest in Worrell seemed to fade.

West Indian cricket also hit difficult times. Although high-class international cricketers emerged to replace those who retired, there was not enough strength in depth nor funding to counter the alternative attractions of basketball, athletics and football for young athletes.

Therefore, it is a surprise — a pleasant one — to discover that two new biographies of Worrell have been published recently. The first of these is “Son of Grace” by Vaneisa Baksh in 2023, a book in preparation for at least a decade.

The second is “Worrell” by Simon Lister, launched on June 6, 2024. Both have sought to establish the essence of the man within and beyond the cricket field. Both had to engage in prolonged research because many of the sources of information about their subject had been destroyed or lost.

Worrell died of leukemia in 1967, aged only 42. His wife, Velda, died in 1991, aged 69, whilst their daughter Lana, died shortly afterwards, aged 42. Two close, key sources of insights were not available.

Fortunately, Everton Weekes, one of the famous three “Ws” — Worrell, Weekes and (Clyde) Walcott — lived until 2020, aged 95, willingly providing insights into Worrell’s life. Other former playing colleagues also did, along with children of those with whom Worrell grew up and played alongside.

Etched in many, if not most of the minds of cricket aficionados of a certain age, is the iconic photograph which captures the moment when the first Test of the 1960-1961 series between Australia and the West Indies ends in a tie off the very last ball of the match.

Worrell, as captain, is credited with keeping his players relaxed but alert by virtue of his serene leadership. In 1963, he led the team to a 3-1 series victory over England, before retiring from cricket.

After that, he became warden of Irvine Hall at the Jamaican campus of the University of the West Indies and was appointed to the Jamaican senate in 1962. This exemplifies his sense of public duty, although he did say that he was not suited to politics.

It should be noted that these positions were in Jamaica, not his native island of Barbados, which he had left in 1947. It seems that he preferred the bigger island, which offered more job opportunities and represented an escape from the cloying color bar in Barbados that, according to the British colonial secretary in 1942, “divides the races more effectively than a mountain chain.”

Worrell was a federalist and nowhere was this more evident than in his captaincy. The West Indies is not one cricketing nation, but a collection of players from 13 independent island countries of different histories, cultures, religions and social mores.

Prior to Worrell becoming captain in 1960, the previous six captains had all been white, their positions reflecting ongoing systemic racial bias. But by 1960, a wind of change was blowing. Worrell’s appointment shut the door forever on the process by which a West Indian captain would be chosen based on race and color.

Worrell showed that it was possible to be black and successful. He knew that his players were all individually good and sought, successfully, to weld them into a cohesive force, with clarity of purpose. No longer were they to be treated as subordinates.

His passion for social equality extended beyond cricket. We will never know what he may have achieved in broader society had he lived longer. What is apparent is that the dominating Test teams for which he sowed the seeds no longer exist.

In their place are T20 players who have earned riches far beyond those which Worrell could ever have envisaged when advocating for social justice.

James Anderson to bowl on 1st day of his last ever test after England wins toss against West Indies

James Anderson to bowl on 1st day of his last ever test after England wins toss against West Indies
Updated 10 July 2024

James Anderson to bowl on 1st day of his last ever test after England wins toss against West Indies

James Anderson to bowl on 1st day of his last ever test after England wins toss against West Indies
  • He is due to bowl the first over at the Pavilion End under what looked like being gray skies and a slight breeze at the home of cricket
  • England gave test debuts to pacer Gus Atkinson and wicketkeeper Jamie Smith

LONDON: James Anderson will get to bowl on the first day of his 188th and final test after England won the toss and chose to field first against the West Indies in the series opener at Lord’s on Wednesday.
Anderson, the most prolific fast bowler in test history with 700 wickets, was due to bowl the first over at the Pavilion End under what looked like being a morning of gray skies and a slight breeze at the home of cricket.
Both teams were announced ahead of the match.
England gave test debuts to pacer Gus Atkinson and wicketkeeper Jamie Smith.
For the West Indies, allrounder and former captain Jason Holder was recalled along with fellow fast bowler Jayden Seales. Opening batter Mikyle Louis will become the first man from St. Kitts and Nevis to play a test.
There will be plenty of focus on another fast bowler in Shamar Joseph, who starred against Australia in his first ever test series earlier this year.
England: ⁠Zak Crawley,⁠ ⁠Ben Duckett, ⁠Ollie Pope, ⁠Joe Root, ⁠Harry Brook,⁠ ⁠Ben Stokes (captain), ⁠Jamie Smith, ⁠Chris Woakes, ⁠Gus Atkinson, ⁠Shoaib Bashir, ⁠James Anderson.
West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Mikyle Louis, Kirk McKenzie, Alick Athanaze, Kavem Hodge, Jason Holder, Joshua da Silva, Gudakesh Motie, Alzarri Joseph, Shamar Joseph, Jayden Seales.