England batsman Tom Banton has withdrawn from his BBL deal with the Brisbane Heat due to the demands of the ongoing biosecure bubbles he has been part of in recent months.
Banton is currently with the England squad in South Africa as a reserve player which came on the back of his IPL stint with Kolkata Knight riders in the UAE. That in turn followed the home season where he was part of England’s limited-overs bubbles against Ireland, Pakistan and Australia.
He was due to head to Australia straight from South Africa and then serve his mandatory 14-day quarantine before being available for the Heat after Christmas.
“It has been harder than I thought spending so much time in the hubs and bubbles and I came to the realization that it wasn’t doing me much good,” Banton said. “I know the Heat looked after me really well during the BBL last year and I was confident that they would understand when I spoke to Boof [Darren Lehmann] and Lynny [Chris Lynn] about going home to regroup.
“I’d like to thank the fans and members who are getting ready to support the Heat during the tournament and pass on my regrets to them that I won’t be there.”
The Heat’s head coach Darren Lehman said Banton had the full support of the club although he conceded it was a blow to the team’s planning so close to the tournament starting. It adds to the Heat’s difficulties in the lead-up to season after Mujeeb Ur Rahman, the Afghanistan spinner, tested positive for Covid-19 while in hotel quarantine in Queensland and was moved to a hospital.
“Look firstly Tom is a terrific young man. He’s an impressive person and someone who we know would not have made a decision like this lightly and not without a great deal of soul-searching,” Lehmann said.
“After speaking with him at length, the best option for him is to head home to his family and loved ones and give himself every chance to recover. We’ve always been strong as a club that your family comes first and so we back his decision 100 percent and hope he is feeling restored and mended very soon.
“It is a very challenging time for many people and cricket is no exception. There is no normality or work life balance which is so important, especially in elite sport. The well-being of the players is paramount and I am sure everyone – fans, coaches, administrators, sponsors – recognizes that.
“We shouldn’t be critical of individuals making tough decisions so the best thing to do is to support them and back them. It’s a setback for us, but we know there are people in our group, or those coming into our squad, who can rise to the occasion.”
The Heat also have batsman Dan Lawrence signed for a five-game stint at the start of the tournament and it remains to be seen whether that could be extended in light of Banton’s withdrawal. Lewis Gregory, the England allrounder, is their other overseas player and Lehmann said they would be scouting for cover.
The Heat’s opening match is on December 11 against the Melbourne Stars in Canberra.
ENG vs SL 2nd T20I – Mickey Arthur on England and Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s head coach said he wants the batsmen to be more proactive against a world-class England attack
“Just not enough runs again,” Arthur told the BBC, when asked for his take on his side’s defeat. “We’re coming up against a really good bowling attack. They’re ranked No. 1 in the world, we’re ranked No. 9, and you can see the difference. We’ve started a journey with a young team and for us it’s about getting better, competing, learning from every game and every experience and getting better and better as we go along.
“It’s tough. We’re consistently talking about freedom, about taking the handbrake off as a batting unit. But you can only bat as well as you’re allowed to and I thought England were world-class with the lengths they hit. They put us under a lot of pressure with the bat.
“We can be more proactive and we’ve got to go back and work on that. We can walk around the crease a little bit more and try to do different things but our batters are learning all the time, particularly in these conditions. We’ve got a really exciting batting unit in our conditions but it’s about transferring those skills to conditions outside our own environment.”
“I thought we bowled really well,” he said. “Our fielding has gone up to another level. Fielding is all about attitude, it’s measurable, and I think the guys are getting better and better with that. We’re really excited with our bowling unit and we’ve got a couple of guys that are injured as well, so when we get them back we’ll be good.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
England vs Sri Lanka T20Is – Liam Livingstone makes virtue of versatility in pitch for England World Cup role | Cricket
Teams can take a squad of 33 players to cover 15 starting positions in rugby’s next World Cup, and 23 for 11 spots in football’s, but cricket diverges from the norm. England will take a 15-man squad to the T20 World Cup this winter – albeit with the possibility of a couple of reserves as a Covid precaution – and as a result, the ability of back-up players to cover a range of roles is crucial.
With that in mind, Liam Livingstone has done his chances of inclusion no harm at all in the first two games of their T20I series against Sri Lanka in Cardiff. An innings of 29 not out off 26 balls and four tight overs of liquorice-all-sort spin that have cost 19 runs do not demand retention in themselves, but have demonstrated the flexibility that Livingstone would add to a touring party as a utility player.
“It’s something that I pride myself on, being as versatile as I can,” he said after the second T20I, in which he won the match award after steering England home from No. 6. “It’s something that’s rolled into my bowling as well, trying to bowl both legspin and offspin to give people different options [and] it’s the same with my batting, trying to make myself a player who can bat all the way from No. 1 to No. 8.”
While he has made a reputation for himself as a power-hitter who deals in sixes – in last year’s Big Bash, he scored a higher percentages of his runs in sixes (39.4%) than anyone else in the top 25 run-scorers – Livingstone’s innings on Thursday night demonstrated his willingness to adapt, with a single ramped six standing out alongside a series of clips and pushes into gaps to suit the situation and build a partnership with Sam Billings. Four years on from a pair of frenetic innings in his first two T20Is, he looked a different player.
Importantly, given England’s logjam of top-three options, it also demonstrated an ability to bat in the middle order. Twenty-five of Livingstone’s last 26 innings in domestic T20 cricket for Lancashire and Perth Scorchers have come as an opener, with Jos Buttler even moving down to No. 4 in order to accommodate him at the top in this year’s T20 Blast, but there is little chance of him batting there in an England shirt.
While he will have limited opportunity to do so before the start of the World Cup, Livingstone should consider shuffling down the order for one of his clubs if he can – potentially for Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred – in order to gain more experience in the role, though batting in the middle order for Peshawar Zalmi and Cape Town Blitz two winters ago meant he had something to lean back on.
“I batted at No. 4 and 5 in the PSL and in the South African T20 [MSL],” he said. “I guess that’s the reason I go away and play in these competitions: trying to get experience of batting in different roles, which has obviously helped me coming into an England side, batting in a position I’m not really used to.”
But it is with the ball that Livingstone is particularly multi-talented, as he has demonstrated in this series. He generally bowls legbreaks to right-handers and offbreaks to left-handers, and while not a prodigious turner of the ball, he gets enough spin both ways to keep batters guessing and forcing them to watch him carefully out of the hand.
“It’s certainly advantageous isn’t it?” Buttler said after Wednesday night’s game. “It’s a fantastic skill to have, to be able to bowl offspin and legspin to international standard. We will potentially see that come into the game more and more. He’s an exciting package, a great guy to have in your squad and your XI.”
Livingstone is not the finished article with the ball. Two of the three most expensive overs of his T20 career have come at crunch moments, confirming Lancashire’s exits in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the last two Blast seasons when Ravi Bopara and Dan Christian took him down, but he insisted that those experiences have been beneficial in the long run.
“[My bowling] has always been well-regarded at Lancashire,” he said. “I’ve obviously had a couple of tough moments with it over the last couple of years, but they are the moments that have made me a better bowler. It’s something I’ve worked hard on for this sort of opportunity, to push my way into a team as someone that can offer something in all three facets of the game.”
As an excellent outfielder too, Livingstone’s case for inclusion in the World Cup squad is strong: even if he is unlikely to start once Ben Stokes returns from injury, the fact he offers some overs as a second – or even third – spinner, can cover a number of batting roles and is a good option to come on as a substitute fielder mean that he has quickly become England’s Mr Versatile.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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WTC final Ind vs NZ – Michael Mason and Kane ‘not the last man standing’ Williamson
“I have never experienced 139 runs taking so long and there was a lot of nervous energy in the change room” – Southee
The mace – or the Mason – was also given a seat on the flight the players are taking back home. The team – minus the players who are staying back for The Hundred and county stints – is expected to land in Auckland on Saturday morning, and Trent Boult is hoping the celebrations continue at home after they get through their quarantine.
“Waggy [Neil Wagner] probably hasn’t let the mace go since last night,” Boult was quoted as saying by stuff.co.nz. “The boys are ecstatic. There’s been a mixture of emotion and jubilation. Once we get home and through quarantine, we’ll hopefully continue the celebrations.
“It’s been hard to gauge the reaction from back home because we’re so far away, but I’m sure there is a lot of emotion and a lot of pride. The messages have been flying through. We can’t wait to get home and celebrate with everyone.”
“I’m okay thanks, my version of that [the party] might not be the same as some others… I feel okay,” he told stuff.co.nz. “I don’t think I was the last man standing, so I’m maybe not the person to ask.
“We had a great night. The guys were obviously pretty chuffed after a fantastic game of cricket that had a whole heap of momentum shifts. You combine such a special moment after two years of hard work to try and get to the final, with BJ Watling playing his last Test, and it was fitting to push the boat out a little bit.”
For Tim Southee, the big win will take “at least a couple of weeks” to sink in.
“It is amazing to be part of this team. We have been working for this for the last two years,” he said in an interview released by NZC. “Not only the 15 players but others probably in the last five-six years (have contributed) to get us to where we are now. It is very special. We had come very close to a few tournaments. It is yet to sink in and may take a couple of weeks.”
He believes it was the wickets of Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara on the final day that swung the game decisively. Both batters were dismissed by the outstanding Kyle Jamieson, who was named player of the match, inside the first eight overs of the final (reserve) day before India were all out for 170, giving New Zealand a target of 139 runs; they got there for the loss of two wickets.
“We knew it was going to be tough on the final day, three results were possible then and the first hour to be crucial. But picking up the two wickets in that period was crucial in the end,” Southee said.
New Zealand were jolted by R Ashwin, who took two quick wickets early in the chase. But the nerves were calmed by Williamson and Ross Taylor, Southee said, as the two put up an unbroken 96-run stand to guide New Zealand home.
“I have never experienced 139 runs taking so long and there was a lot of nervous energy in the change room,” he said. “We had two experienced guys among us who are synonymous with this team not only in the last two years but also probably in the last seven-eight years. To have them, it was very calming for the guys in the change room.”
The win also meant that New Zealand have now broken a bit of a hoodoo, having lost in the final of both the 2015 and 2019 50-over World Cups.
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