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Chameera in doubt for West Indies tour, IPL

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Fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera is in doubt for Sri Lanka’s Test tour of the West Indies in June, due to a back complaint.

He has also been ruled out of at least the first three weeks of the IPL, and remained in Colombo instead of joining the Rajasthan Royals squad. Further medical tests will determine the exact length of his layoff and recovery.

“He has had some back stiffness, so we expect it to be three more weeks at least before he can return to bowling,” Sri Lanka chief selector Graeme Labrooy told ESPNcricinfo. “We’ll reassess after that and see where he is.”

Initial tests were inconclusive but did not out a stress fracture, the likes of which had kept Chameera out of action for several months in late 2016. The injury was sustained last week during first round of the Super Fours Provincial Tournament – a tournament Chameera will now take no further part in.

For Royals, who had bought Chameera at his base price of INR 50 lakhs (approx. USD $77,000), his absence is unlikely to be a major loss, given the presence of other overseas quicks Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Ben Laughlin in the squad.

If it transpires that Chameera is out of the tour of the West Indies, however, Sri Lanka will go into that series without the pace-bowling firepower they would have liked, with Nuwan Pradeep and Shehan Madushanka also under injury clouds. The first of the three Tests begins on June 6.



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Former CA chief James Sutherland heads multimillion-dollar deal to replace MyCricket

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A company headed by two former Cricket Australia executives has won a multimillion-dollar contract to build a bespoke replacement for MyCricket, the much-criticised digital portal for community cricket in Australia.

PlayHQ, which boasts the former CA chief executive James Sutherland as chairman and the ex-CA manager of media rights and strategy, Sam Walch, as chief executive, had already picked up major contracts to run digital fixturing, scoring and administration of basketball and Australian football at community levels.

But the confirmation of the deal with CA, which will see PlayHQ provide the platform for cricket clubs and programs across the country to be, in the words of the head of community cricket Belinda Clark, “able to be run from a smartphone” and is believed to be worth more than A$5 million, will have a huge impact on the lives of around 300,000 club players registered with MyCricket across the country, plus many more junior and school program participants.

“This is a critical project for Australian cricket. We need to get the basics right first, and there is an immediate need to replace the legacy platform with a system that is modern and makes it easier to do all the tasks required to run local programs and competitions,” CA’s head of customer experience Kieran McMillan said. “Tens of thousands of volunteers give up their evenings and weekends for our sport, and we want to give them back some time to enjoy the best parts of getting involved in their club.

“Technology will play an increasingly important role in community sport and we have an opportunity to be leading the charge. Through the support of quality partners, the community can expect more digital innovation and increased functionality over time. Whether that be live streaming, or club management tools, or even micro-chips in balls – the products and services you will be able to access on your phone or laptop will make it easier to run the game and more enjoyable to play the game.”

Basketball provided the first means for PlayHQ to test out its capabilities, and early suggestions prior to the onset of Covid-19 were that its systems enabled faster and easier management of clubs and competitions, based in particular on a pilot program involving around 20 country basketball associations.

The AFL then announced a deal with Play HQ in June. Its head of states and game development, Sam Graham, described the project’s goals at the time as: “It’s about getting the admin done more quickly and easily, so there’s time to focus on the footy.”

Speaking about the cricket deal, Walch offered similar words. “PlayHQ’s vision is to provide a world class solution for the administration of grassroots sport, and to make it easier for volunteers, participants, parents, coaches and umpires to engage with the games they love.”



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Match Preview – Chennai Super Kings vs Kolkata Knight Riders, Indian Premier League 2020 2020, 49th Match

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Big picture

LWWLWWLLWLWL. That’s six wins and six losses, all more or less evenly distributed. It’s been that sort of season for the Kolkata Knight Riders, who’ve shown glimpses of being the force they used to be in their glory years, only to regress to the mean immediately afterwards.

That sort of form has left them in a delicate situation with two games left to play in the league phase. They could win just one of them and still make the playoffs, but they could also win both and fail to qualify. With a net run rate of -0.479 – only the bottom two teams currently fare worse – they’ll probably need to win two out of two to give themselves a proper chance.

First up they face the Chennai Super Kings, who are out of the reckoning for the playoffs and are now simply looking to, according to their captain MS Dhoni, enjoy the “12 painful hours” they have left in the tournament. Dhoni’s math may have been slightly off – he was speaking after the Super Kings’ victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore, which was their 12th game of the season – but if his players do find a way to enjoy themselves and play with freedom over their last two games, they could become dangerous opponents.

All the pressure will be on the team that has something to lose.

In the news

A knee injury has kept Andre Russell out of the Knight Riders’ last three games, and it’s not clear whether he’s recovered enough to feature on Thursday, but news of his pull-out from the upcoming Lanka Premier League – for which injury has been cited as the reason – suggests he hasn’t.

Previous meeting

A 51-ball 81 from Rahul Tripathi carried an otherwise misfiring Knight Riders batting unit to 167, and the Super Kings appeared poised to haul it down when they needed 69 from 48 balls with nine wickets in hand. But the Super Kings were unable to deal with Sunil Narine and Russell – all of whose overs had been held back for the last 10 overs – and they imploded to lose by ten runs.

Likely XIs

Chennai Super Kings: 1 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2 Faf du Plessis, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 5 N Jagadeesan, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Monu Kumar, 11 Imran Tahir.

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Nitish Rana, 3 Rahul Tripathi, 4 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Sunil Narine, 7 Pat Cummins, 8 Kamlesh Nagarkoti, 9 Lockie Ferguson, 10 Varun Chakravarthy, 11 Prasidh Krishna.

Strategy punt

  • One of the big contributors to the Super Kings’ victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last match, also played in Dubai, was the bowling of Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner and Ravindra Jadeja, who tied Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers down expertly through the middle overs. At least two of the three spinners, who all turn the ball away from the right-hander, are likely to feature again, and one way for the Knight Riders to deal with their threat better than the Royal Challengers did would be to have left-hand batsmen face more of their bowling. This could mean Nitish Rana moving back to No. 3, perhaps, or Eoin Morgan or Sunil Narine batting at No. 4.

  • It could even mean the addition of an extra batsman – the Knight Riders squad includes the left-handed Rinku Singh, who is yet to play a game this season – instead of either Kuldeep Yadav, Kamlesh Nagarkoti or Prasidh Krishna. The Knight Riders were three down early in both their most recent games, and they attempted to counterattack their way out on both occasions. That approach brought them a win against the Delhi Capitals, and also brought them back into the game against Kings XI Punjab, only for their lack of batting depth to hurt them later on. The inclusion of an extra batsman could enable the Knight Riders to play in this counterattacking fashion with a bit more security.

  • When Dinesh Karthik has begun his innings within the first 10 overs this season, he’s scored 48 runs in eight innings at an average of 6.00 and a strike rate of 72.73. When he’s made his entry in the second half of the innings, he’s scored 100 runs in four innings at 33.33 and 175.44. The Knight Riders have batted him at No. 4 in their last two games, but he’s perhaps better used further down the order – below Morgan and/or Narine – or certainly in a role that brings him in close to the death (last five) overs: he has a strike rate of 188.88 in that phase this season, and an average of 42.50.

Stats that matter

  • It’s time once again for Narine vs Dhoni. Narine has now bowled 63 balls to Dhoni in the IPL without conceding a boundary. He’s given away just 30 runs in all, while dismissing him once.

  • Of all bowlers to have sent down at least 50 balls to left-hand batsmen this season, Varun Chakravarthy (10.83) and Jadeja (120.00) have the best and worst averages, respectively, though Navdeep Saini, who hasn’t dismissed a left-hander this season while conceding 110 runs, could be said to have done worse. Jadeja also has the worst economy rate (12.63), while Chakravarthy’s is a healthy 7.09.

  • The Knight Riders (6.86) and the Super Kings (6.91) have the worst powerplay scoring rates of all teams this season. The Knight Riders (22.45) also have the worst average in this phase, followed by the Rajasthan Royals (23.60) and the Super Kings (23.71).

  • If they play, it will be Narine’s 350thT20 game, Ravindra Jadeja’s 250th, and Kuldeep Yadav’s 100th.



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Geoffrey Boycott puts memorabilia on sale, including 100th hundred bat

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Sir Geoffrey Boycott has put his personal collection of cricket memorabilia up for auction, including the bat with which he scored his 100th first-class hundred, against Australia at Headingley in 1977, and a stump from England’s famous Ashes victory at Headingley in 1981.

The 130 lots went on sale on Tuesday, with bidding due to close on November 16. Christie’s, the auctioneers, described it as “one of the last great collections of cricketing memorabilia left in private hands … chronicling the career of the Yorkshire and England legend.”

It is unclear quite why Boycott has decided to part with his memorabilia now, although he turned 80 earlier this week, and having missed this summer’s international coverage due to the Covid outbreak, he has not had his contract with BBC’s Test Match Special renewed, after 14 years in the role.

The auction will open with the sale of an original scorebook from his home debut for Ackworth Cricket Club in Yorkshire as a 13-year old in 1954, which is inscribed with the entry ‘J. Boycott batting at 8 scores 9 not out’.

Other lots include a range of caps worn by his international opponents, including Greg Chappell’s Baggy Green and Viv Richards’ maroon West Indies cap – which have a reserve price of £3200 and £4000 respectively – as well as the shirt worn by Michael Holding at Barbados in 1981, when he bowled Boycott for a duck in one of the most fabled overs of all time.

In addition to his 100th hundred bat, which could fetch in excess of £30,000, Boycott’s collection includes the bat with which he went past Garry Sobers’ then world-record Test runs total of 8032, at Delhi in 1981, and the one with which he scored his Test-best 246 not out against India at Headingley in 1967 – an innings for which he was then dropped for slow scoring.



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