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Hannah Darlington has been a major force in the WBBL © Getty Images


New Zealand has already played a significant part in Hannah Darlington‘s cricket journey. Two years ago she toured with the Australia Under-19 squad and last season played for Otago in the Super Smash, her performances helping her secure a state contract with New South Wales.

Now it could be the scene of her international debut after being named in Australia’s squad for the ODI and T20I tour next month. Darlington, who has been a star of the last two WBBL seasons with Sydney Thunder, is one of two uncapped players on the trip alongside Darcie Brown, the Adelaide Strikers and South Australia quick, who was her roommate on the U-19 tour.

Darlington was named the female young cricketer of the year earlier this month after a WBBL campaign with the Thunder that brought 19 at 13.68 and economy rate of 6.19 for the champions. That followed 16 wickets in the previous season, although after that she was overlooked for New South Wales Breakers which is how she found herself back in New Zealand.

She took 13 wickets for Otago, with an economy rate of 5.75, and on returning to Australia was selected by NSW then during the off-season earned a full contract. This summer she was named vice-captain, although the plan for her to potentially lead the side when Alyssa Healy departed on tour will now have to be shelved with her on the same flight.

“I’m pretty shocked at the moment, it hasn’t sunk in yet and not sure when it will,” she said. “To think I was struggling to get a run in the Thunder squad, couldn’t get a contract with the NSW Breakers last year, it was a tough couple of months to bounce back. After putting in that hard work I can now sit back and think it was all worth it. Everyday I’m pinching myself that this is happening.

“[Otago] came up because I wasn’t going to be in the Breakers squad so to be able to go across and get a bit of experience in New Zealand in another T20 competition, after the success I’d had in the Big Bash was a no-brainer. I wasn’t even 18 and living by myself and traveling so probably one of the best experiences I’ve had.”

When the call came from selector Shawn Flegler earlier this week, Darlington was in the middle of a bike session in the gym. After getting the good news gave herself 15 minutes to take it all in and call her family before resuming training and trying not to let the news slip out.

“It was a really nice phone call, I’ve have had a lot to do with Flegs in the under-age pathway,” she said. “I’ve had a few calls from him but wasn’t sure if this would be the one that [says] you are a reserve or not selected, but to get the news I was in the squad was special.”

Flegler has said that Darlington’s selection is primarily with an eye on the T20s – the format where she has excelled – as Australia start to have one eye on the future following last year’s T20 World Cup victory on home soil.

Darlington, who would be the third Indigenous female player for Australia if she debuted, is still learning the ropes in the 50-over game but believes her skills are transferable and is eager to soak up as much as she can from the senior bowlers.

“As a bowler you have a lot more time and think that’s something I’m getting used to,” she said. “I’ve had five games for the Breakers now and finding my way with that format. Finding myself comfortable with a bit of a middle-overs role and at the death which is similar to what I do in Big Bash. It’s still quite fresh and probably something I can take away from this tour is learning off how those girls go about bowling in 50-over cricket

“It will be a massive experience allround, it’s a dream come true to have them as team-mates. Weird to think a couple of years ago I was a kid watching the Australian team and hoping to even meet them one day, but to be playing alongside is a real dream.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo


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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.






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As it happened – Queensland vs New South Wales, Sheffield Shield final, 1st day

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Welcome to our live report for the opening day of the Sheffield Shield final between Queensland and defending champions New South Wales at Allan Border Field in Brisbane. Join us for updates throughout the day.

*Most recent entry will appear at the top, please refresh your page for the latest updates. All times are local.

4.30pm: Closing stages

New South Wales have made a breakthrough, Josh Hazlewood finding the edge of Joe Burns with a terrific delivery, but they are desperate to strike again in the final period of the day. Nathan Lyon has found some big spin early in his spell and Trent Copeland has challenged Marnus Labuschagne.





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How Heath Streak was trapped by a corruptor and nailed by the ICC anti-corruption team

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Heath Streak and Deepak Agarwal started chatting on the pretext of organising a T20 league in Zimbabwe, in September 2017. Streak, the iconic former Zimbabwe captain, was the head coach of the national team at the time, and Agarwal, simply a Delhi-based businessman. Agarwal wasn’t yet banned (for two years) by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit from participating in any cricket-related activities – that wouldn’t be till April 2020, after details of his key role in the Shakib Al Hasan corruption breaches emerged.

Agarwal initiated the chats, mainly over WhatsApp, contacting Streak on his personal phone number and email account. Agarwal told Streak that he could “earn some good money” for setting up the T20 league.

The ICC anti-corruption unit’s verdict on Streak, released by the governing body on Wednesday, reveals telling details of the investigation, including that of Agarwal telling Streak that he was “involved in betting on cricket”. Agarwal also asked Streak for details of his bank account “outside” Zimbabwe, which Streak provided readily. “Mr Streak also made it clear in these discussions that he wanted to establish a T20 League in Zimbabwe and was passionate about furthering cricket in Zimbabwe,” the ICC’s investigation said.

Streak’s past as Bangladesh coach exploited

Streak and Agarwal’s relationship began with those T20-league discussions, and would last 15 months until the ACU busted it in December 2018. During this period, Streak served as a coach in Zimbabwe, at the IPL, at the Afghanistan Premier League (APL). But Agarwal also made use of Streak’s contacts in Bangladesh, where he had served as the head coach between 2014-16. And it was the 2017 Bangladesh Premier League, where Agarwal used Streak as a conduit to get inside information on and from active players for the first time.

“In relation to the 2017 edition of the Bangladesh Premier League, Mr X [later confirmed to be Agarwal] asked Mr Streak to provide him with any links, namely team captains, or owners or players, in the BPL, saying they could earn good money as a result which they could invest in a T20 event in Zimbabwe,” the ICC’s investigation found. “It appeared that Mr X wanted Mr Streak to provide him with contacts of players, team owners etc. who Mr X could then approach for Inside Information, such as which team would win a match, in upcoming matches.”



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Had been waiting for such an innings ‘for a long time’

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Rizwan, meanwhile, said he felt “the same joy as if I’d done it myself” when Babar reached his hundred

Babar Azam celebrated reaching the top of the ODI rankings with a performance for the ages in the shortest format, scoring his maiden T20I hundred, and the highest score by a Pakistani in T20I cricket. His 122 not only helped his side cruise to victory, but demonstrated a side to his game many had accused him of lacking: that of an opener who could spearhead the chase; his runs came at a strike rate of over 206.

Alongside Mohammad Rizwan, he shared a 197- run opening stand to set up a victory with two overs to spare and nine wickets in hand. Rizwan remained unbeaten on 73 with a strike rate of 155.31, ensuring South Africa’s bowlers had no respite at either end.

“I was waiting for such an innings for a long time,” Babar said after the game. “I planned for it, and felt if I got a chance I would grab it. I am thankful that I was able to deliver. I stuck to my strengths and my game plan was developed around team requirements. If you need 10 an over, you definitely have to play with urgency and for that, you have to take risks.

“The partnership with Rizwan was outstanding. I give him credit for the way he played because it is really tough to play while fasting and despite that, he batted and kept wicket throughout. It takes a lot of courage and guts. The whole team takes inspiration watching him and it brings us confidence.”

Azam continues his T20I form to go along with the ODI touch that has seen him climb to the top of the rankings. He was the second-highest runscorer in the ODI leg of the series, and after becoming the number one ODI batsman, he admitted it had been a lifelong dream.

“It had always been my dream to be number one and that has been fulfilled,” said Azam. “There was lots of hard work, suffering, and sacrifice needed to get there. I have always been trying to improve my game with each passing day, learning new things and applying them. We all know cricket evolves and you have to keep up with it or risk getting left behind.”

Rizwan and Azam’s combination at the top may seem unshakable but is fairly recent. The pair only started opening earlier this year; this was the fifth T20I in which they had opened together. Rizwan said there wasn’t a secret to this success, but underscored the importance of a fast start.

“It’s a big win for us. Chasing 200-plus is always a difficult task but the way we got a start it made it easy for us,” Rizwan said. “We had a simple plan to win the powerplay and we did get more runs than they did in the first six. That momentum carried us deeper which brought us success.

“Since we started playing together, this and the one in Australia are the only two innings in which we have spent time at the crease together. Otherwise either me or him get out and we never got an opportunity to build a bigger stand. We even in between talked about making a world record and Babar was even more positive than me. When Babar scored his 100, I felt the same joy as if I’d done it myself.”

Just months ago, Pakistan’s top order was considered a significant Achilles heel leading up to the World T20. Now, it appears that gap has been conclusively plugged, without requiring either of Sharjeel Khan or Fakhar Zaman to open the batting.



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