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Lunch: New Zealand 346 for 4 (Williamson 168*, Blundell 8*, Roach 2-71, Gabriel 2-74 vs West Indies

Control your game, you control the game. That is Kane Williamson in a nutshell. Every defining trait of his batting -the obsession with playing late, the aversion to hitting in the air, the freakish ability to never ever follow a swinging ball – is an effort to put his team in the best possible position to win a Test match and he did just that, while also scoring the 22nd century of his career.

West Indies couldn’t hold a consistent line and length at the start of play on day one, but since the first break in play at Hamilton, they’ve been able to settle into better rhythm. They tested Williamson with a fuller length in line with the stumps. But most of all, they were getting better at hitting the same spot on the pitch over and over again. That is key on this pitch.

Williamson recognised the danger and adapted accordingly. He shelved the expansive shots. He steeled himself for periods when he wouldn’t score any runs. He was so precise especially with the deliveries that he was comfortable attacking. If they were full and wide, and he could reach the pitch of the ball, he went for the drive. And even then, he wouldn’t let the bat follow through away from his body. If it was short and wide, he stood tall and smashed ’em square on the off side.

One of those trademark back foot punches was how he got to his century in the third over of the day. Then he just kicked the heck on. His third fifty came off just 82 balls. His fourth already beckons.

While Williamson’s decision making enabled him to score, his unyielding technique protected him from being dismissed.

Kemar Roach was able to conjure several dangerous deliveries, routinely going wide of the crease in search of the outside edge. Thanks to his remarkable ability to straighten the ball away no matter how steep the angle is into the right-hander, he is a constant wicket-taking threat.

Williamson faced several jaffas like those and although he was beaten more than once, he never looked like nicking off. It isn’t the first time the New Zealand captain has exhibited such slipperiness. For some reason, he seems immune to the very human instinct to follow the ball, especially when it threatens to move late. If you’re even a half decent batsman, you want to feel bat on ball. If you’re a great one, you just know better.

Still, in a five-day game, mistakes are bound to happen. Unfortunately for West Indies, they would only come at the other end. Shannon Gabriel secured the outside edge of Ross Taylor’s bat in the second over of the day. Roach had Henry Nicholls flashing outside his off stump. Those two wickets in the first hour of play threatened the notion that West Indies would be able to limit the damage they let happen on the first day. Instead, they ended up feeling like the villains in a Scooby Doo cartoon. “I would’ve gotten away with it if not for that meddling Kane.”



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England vs NZ 2021 – Joe Root admits England were ‘outplayed in all three departments’ by New Zealand

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But England skipper says now is not the time to “rip up all the hard work we’ve done”

Joe Root has admitted England were “outplayed in all three departments” after slipping to defeat in the LV=Insurance Test series against New Zealand.

The series defeat was England’s first at home since 2014 and Root’s first at home as captain. It was also New Zealand’s first Test series victory in England since 1999.

But while Root accepted it had been a “disappointing performance” from his side, he insisted it would “be the wrong time to start panicking and trying to rip up all the hard work we’ve done for such a long period of time.”

“It’s been a frustrating and disappointing performance this week,” Root said. “I don’t think we’ve given a fair account of ourselves. We’ve been outplayed in all three departments, particularly the batting.

“We didn’t get the runs [we should have done] in the first innings. We missed chances in the field and didn’t help our bowlers in that respect. And with the bat [in the second innings] we were poor.

“Sometimes in Test cricket you can have a poor session with the ball and you’re still very much in the game. But a session that like can cost you a Test. That’s where we find ourselves. It’s cost us the series and we have some hard lessons to learn.

“We have to look at where we can get better individually and collectively. We need to be honest about that. We have to have some hard conversations and move forward.”



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India Women in England 2021

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“You never want to get an England cap by default, you want to really earn it”

Like all of us emerging from what seems like the longest of winters, Georgia Elwiss is feeling the heat – and loving it.

After three rounds of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, competition for places in the England squads ahead of home series against India and New Zealand in September, was keen. Before Saturday’s fourth round, the 17-strong squad for next week’s Test against India in Bristol had been trimmed to 15, with legspinner Sarah Glenn and seamer Freya Davies returning to their domestic teams.

Elwiss, the allrounder who is hoping to add to her career tally of three Test when the final XI is decided, has “one hundred percent” noticed an increase in the quality of matches – and therefore the number of players pressing for selection – since the introduction of full-time domestic contracts this season for players outside the ECB’s centrally contracted list.



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Cricket Hall of Fame – Andy Flower and Kumar Sangakkara among 10 players inducted into ICC Hall of Fame

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Monty Noble, Aubrey Faulker, Learie Constantine, Stan McCabe, Vinoo Mankad, Ted Dexter, Bob Willis, Desmond Haynes also on the list

Ahead of the first-ever World Test Championship final, the ICC has inducted a special list of 10 players into its Hall of Fame. From the Australian allrounder Monty Noble, who made his debut in January 1898, to Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka batting great who retired in August 2015, these ten players’ careers span well over a century of men’s Test cricket.
The inductees have been classified into five broad eras: Noble and Aubrey Faulkner from the pre-World War 1 period (early era), Learie Constantine and Stan McCabe from the period between the two World Wars (inter-war era), Vinoo Mankad and Ted Dexter from 1946 to 1970 (post-war era), Bob Willis and Desmond Haynes from 1971 to 1995 (ODI era), and Andy Flower and Sangakkara from 1996 to 2015 (modern era).

The new list of inductees shows a notable skew towards allrounders, with Noble, Faulkner, Constantine and Mankad counted among the great multi-disciplinary players of all time, and Flower and Sangakkara also fitting that bill as wicketkeeper-batters.

Noble, who captained Australia in 15 of his 42 Tests, scored 1997 runs at an average of 30.25, and picked up 121 wickets at 25.00 while bowling what he referred to as medium-paced “spin-swerve“.
Faulkner was one of the legendary quartet of googly bowlers – the others were Reggie Schwartz, Bert Vogler and Gordon White – who starred during South Africa’s pathbreaking 4-1 win over England in 1906. Faulkner played 25 Test matches in all, scoring 1754 runs at 40.79 and taking 82 wickets at 26.58. Of all allrounders with at least 1000 Test runs and 50 wickets, Faulker possesses the fifth-best average difference of all time.

Constantine was one of West Indies’ two greatest players – the other was George Headley, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 – between their inaugural Test match in 1928 and the cessation of international cricket due to World War 2. Known for his innovative batting, skillful fast bowling and electric fielding either at cover point or close to the bat, Constantine scored 635 Test runs at 19.24, including four fifties, and took 58 wickets at 30.10. He made even more of an impact off the field, perhaps, qualifying as a barrister, entering politics, and serving as Trinidad & Tobago’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1961 to 1964. He was knighted in 1962, and in 1969 became the first black man to sit in the House of Lord’s.

McCabe was perhaps Australia’s second-best batter in the Don Bradman years, scoring 2748 Test runs at 48.21 including six hundreds. Three of them have gone into legend: the daring 187 not out full of hooks and pulls against England’s Bodyline bowling at the SCG in December 1932, an unbeaten 189 in Johannesburg in 1935, to bring Australia within touching distance of a target of 399 before bad light brought the match to a premature close, and 232 at Trent Bridge during the 1938 Ashes, an innings that made Bradman shake his hand and tell him, “I would give a great deal to be able to play an innings like that.”
Mankad was India’s greatest allrounder before Kapil Dev, a tireless left-arm spinner and a right-hand bat who often opened the batting. His 44 Tests brought him 2109 runs at 31.47 and 162 wickets at 32.32, and his most heroic performance, at Lord’s in 1952, has gone down as Mankad’s Test: 72 and 184 at the top of the order, and 5 for 196 across 73 first-innings overs. Earlier in the same year in Madras (now Chennai), he picked up 12 wickets against England to bowl India to their very first Test win. Madras was also the venue of Mankad’s 413-run opening partnership with Pankaj Roy against New Zealand in 1956 – it took until 2008 for a first-wicket pair to break that record.

Dexter was one of England’s most attractive post-war batters, a powerful driver who scored 4502 runs in 62 Tests between 1958 and 1968, at an average of 47.89. He was the Conservative Party’s (losing) candidate for parliament from Cardiff South East in 1964, when he was still playing for (and captaining) England. His post-playing career took him into journalism and broadcasting, before he returned to cricket in 1989 to serve terms as England’s chairman of selectors and president of the MCC among other roles. He continues to keep a close eye on the game, most recently bemoaning the techniques of England’s young batters in a letter published in the June edition of The Cricketer.

More to follow…

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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