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Vince leaves immediate impression – ESPNcricinfo



Worcestershire 40 for 2 trail Hampshire 290 (Vince 75, Berg 75*, Leach 4-42) by 250 runs



Just two County Championship matches saw any play on day one, but there was plenty happening off the field too

James Vince put a disappointing winter behind him to start the season with a glorious half century as Hampshire held a slight first day advantage over Worcestershire.

Stylish batsman Vince scored 346 runs for England in six Tests during tours of Australia and New Zealand, to leave his international career in limbo.

Early season Specsavers County Championship runs were predicted to be key to whether he would cement his spot in England’s top order, and he replied with a stylish 75.

Hampshire were unsurprisingly asked to bat by Worcestershire captain Joe Leach in an uncontested toss, with a typical April green top wicket and thick grey clouds ready to assist the seamers.

And the decision was almost immediately vindicated as Leach found the edge of a dangling defending Lewis McManus to be caught behind by Ben Cox.

Vince then arrived at the crease and every array of the drive was pulled out in a well-rehearsed Vince textbook, with his half century plundered off a spritely 49-balls.

Other than the odd play-and-miss, Vince offered no chances and never looked in danger of nicking to the slip cordon – a feature which was heavily criticised and analysed during his Test stints.

Jimmy Adams, fresh on the back of an unbeaten 182 in the MCCU match against Cardiff, steadily accompanied Vince with an unflashy 33.

But having celebrated an 106-run stand, Adams was deceived by a Steve Magoffin leg-cutter and was struck on the pads without playing a shot – the bowler’s first scalp for the county since re-joining from Sussex this winter.

Vince, having brilliantly taken his boundary tally to 14, was then bowled by Magoffin four overs later.

During the steadfast stand between Vince and Adams conditions appeared to have eased, but after lunch Leach proved the ball nipping around dangerously.

Leach was the main protagonist with his accurate quick bowling, as he beat debutant Sam Northeast for pace – the former Kent skipper driving unconvincingly for 17. Rilee Rossouw followed in a similar fashion four overs later for a 10-ball duck, again Leach clattering into the stumps.

Overseas star Hashim Amla battled the conditions for a gutsy 36 before he was lbw to Josh Tongue and then medium pacer Daryl Mitchell then produced two wickets in as many balls to bowl Dawson, and then pin Kyle Abbott leg before.

When Josh Tongue hit Brad Wheal on the pads, the Hampshire innings appeared to be petering out, but an outstanding unbeaten 75 from Gareth Berg handed the hosts the impetus.

Berg crashed two sixes in a partnership of 48 for the last wicket – with his own fifty coming from 69 balls.

Fidel Edwards was the last wicket to fall, caught behind to give Leach figures of four for 42 along with his 250th first-class scalp – leaving the visitors 18 overs to fend off. But the West Indian needed just four balls to make inroads into the Worcestershire batting line-up – as Brett D’Oliveira looped a simple catch to Vince at mid-off.

Kyle Abbott castled Tom Fell, with three overs left in the day, to leave the visitors 40 for 2 overnight.

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Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan – Our dream is to win the T20 World Cup



A mere 16 years after becoming part of the ICC, Afghanistan gained Test status. Four games into their Test-history, they’ve already picked up two wins, including one against a far more experienced Bangladesh team. Their top players are already global superstars who feature in multiple franchise leagues.

Given the incredible speed of the nation’s rise as a cricketing force, it doesn’t sound implausible that their players are dreaming of winning the T20 World Cup. Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s all-formats captain and leading cricketer, believes they have the talent in all departments to pull off this dream, and only need the belief, which he feels will come with more matches against the top international teams.

“The biggest dream of the whole country was to be called a Full Member team and to play a Test game,” Rashid said on DRS with Ash, a YouTube show hosted by the India offspinner R Ashwin. “That was something which we were all hoping and praying for, the whole country, and we were not expecting that to happen as soon as it did. When you’re playing a Test game against India in India, it’s more than a dream for everyone.

“When we were playing against you guys in our first Test game, we didn’t know what we were doing. Everyone was just counting – I’m going to be the first one to hit a four, the first one to hit a six, the first one to take a single. Everyone was just so excited to play the first game and to get to the ground and do his best. It wasn’t the best game for us, but there were so many things we learned.

“I think the biggest achievement [for Afghanistan] should be, right now, what the team is looking for, what the country is expecting is, to win the T20 World Cup, because we have all the skills, talent, and we just need to have that belief in ourselves that we can do it. Talent-wise we are so good, we have the spinners, we have the fast bowlers, we have the batting skills as well. But what took us down in that Test was our experience against big teams, because we didn’t play enough cricket with them.

“The moment we play more series with them, we can become a better team. We are very famous for T20 players, but inshallah, that is a dream of mine and a dream of the country that one day we will win the T20 title and that will be the biggest achievement for Afghanistan cricket and for us as well.”

The next T20 World Cup is scheduled to be played in October-November 2021, in India. More immediately, Rashid’s focus will be on the IPL, which begins in the UAE on September 19. Rashid has been among Sunrisers Hyderabad’s key performers in his three IPL seasons so far, taking 55 wickets in 46 games at an average of 21.69 and an economy rate of 6.55.

Rashid carries good form into the IPL, having taken 11 wickets at 22.63, with an economy rate of 6.85, in the recently concluded Caribbean Premier League.

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England v Australia, 3rd ODI, 2020



Australia coach Justin Langer has cast doubt on Steven Smith‘s return for the deciding ODI against England just a few hours after sounding confident he would be able to take his place following the blow to the head he suffered before the opening game.

After having a net at Old Trafford on Tuesday, Langer said that Smith looked “a bit rusty” and he was less confident about bringing him back although a decision would not be made until shortly before the match.

“In terms of Smithy, he had a hit today. He still looks a bit rusty to be honest,” Langer told SEN Breakfast with Pat and Heals. “We’ll give him until the last moment to play but I’m not as confident now as I was 24 hours ago.”

Some mystery still surrounds the circumstances in which Smith has missed the tourists’ past two matches. He was struck on the side of the helmet by a throwdown during net practice at Old Trafford, and though Cricket Australia officially stated he had passed a concussion test, he was still required to go through a series of protocols before his net session on Tuesday. Following that net, a CA spokesperson confirmed that a final decision on Smith’s availability would only be made on Wednesday.

Whatever the true extent of Smith’s need to recover from the blow to the helmet, his inclusion would allow the Australians to have a far more versatile and reliable batting order for the final match, having fallen apart alarmingly in some adverse conditions against the pace and reverse swing of Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer in the second game of the series. Marcus Stoinis has deputised at No. 3 in the first two matches

“Fingers crossed. We know what a great player he is, he got a blow to the head in training the day before the first game, so we’ve been going through all the concussion protocols, he’s definitely tracking in the right direction,” Langer said when speaking before Smith batted on Tuesday morning. “We’re hopeful he’ll be right for tomorrow, but if he doesn’t come up again, then like always we’ll keep him healthy in mind.

“He was just practising, we talk about Steve, he was probably on his 30,000th ball, probably had two or three to go, and the wickets over here, the facilities have been brilliant, but they’re a bit worn because of so much traffic through them over the past few months. One ball just didn’t quite get up, he ducked into it and it hit him in the side of the helmet.

Langer spoke glowingly of how his players had responded to the challenges of an England tour with no meaningful cricket behind them, in addition to the constraints of the biosecurity bubble in which they have been thrust due to the coronavirus pandemic. However he said that the selectors remained on the lookout for middle order problem solvers to weather scenarios like those that have presented once each in the T20 and one day series.

“It’s been disappointing, we’ve played such great cricket throughout this whole tour,” Langer said. “You always look below the surface, how we’ve all played our cricket, all the guys have played their cricket from the moment we arrived with no cricket under our belts, it’s been a real credit to the boys. Consistently across the board we’ve been really impressive. There’s a few areas we need to get better at though, and that’s part of becoming a great team.

“One is bowling in those last few overs, which is always the case, but also in our middle order. And we’re not shying away from that. The boys were incredibly disappointed the other night and disappointed during the T20 series, but they’re working hard on it.

“What do you look for? Problem solving. I think about the Dhonis and the Husseys and the Bevans, Jos Buttlers, the guys who finish it well, are great problem solvers, and they’ve got real confidence in their ability to, over and over, solve the issues which come up, whether you’re chasing big scores, small scores, on different wickets, spinning wickets, wickets that are stayng a bit up down. that’s what we’re looking for in the middle order, guys who are able to solve problems and get the job done.”

As far as the mental strain of the bubble itself was concerned, Langer said a key part of the exercise was not being overwhelmed by thoughts of occupying similarly restricted circumstances for an entire summer. “The biggest challenge for all of us is that it’s a bit like scoring a hundred, you can’t score a hundred unless you give the next ball 100% attention,” he sad. “If we start looking too far ahead of ourselves, that becomes a real challenge.

“It’s almost one day at a time…it’s just when you start looking ahead to when we get home and then quarantine and how the summer looks and if you keep looking too far ahead, then it gets challenging.”

As for the likelihood of most of his best players entering home Test assignments after a surfeit of white-ball matches in the IPL and then against India, Langer struck a time-honoured theme about the best players finding ways to adapt.

“It’s something we’re very aware of,” Langer said. “Particularly as you think about the lead-up to this tour, straight to the IPL, potentially straight into some white ball cricket, and then the Test match, with it all pretty tight. Am I worried about it? Not really, we had a good dress rehearsal last year between the World Cup and the Ashes, the best players adapt and we’ve got some great players who might need to adapt. But when it comes to the colour of the ball, I’m really confident they’ll be able to do that.”

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Tom Taylor – Northamptonshire win race for Leicestershire allrounder’s signature



Tom Taylor is set to join Northamptonshire after rejecting a new contract at Leicestershire.

Taylor, the 25-year-old allrounder, is out of contract at the end of the season. While Leicestershire are understood to have pushed their budget as far as they could in a bid to keep him, he has opted to move to the third Midlands county of his career. Taylor started out at Derbyshire and moved to Leicestershire ahead of the 2018 season.

It is understood that several other counties – including Warwickshire – have expressed a passing interest in Taylor over recent months, but Northants have won the race for his signature.

The move is a blow to Leicestershire. While they have become accustomed to losing players to more affluent rivals – notably Nottinghamshire – to lose out to another club with a limited budget is a setback.

But Northamptonshire were promoted to Division One of the County Championship at the end of 2019 – Leicestershire were bottom of Division Two – and are currently second in the Central Group in the Vitality Blast. Leicestershire are third in the North Group.

Leicestershire’s disappointment is increased as they feel they had nursed Taylor through a couple of serious back injuries and considered him a central figure in their team redevelopment. They have already announced they will not be selecting him in the remaining Vitality Blast matches as they look to provide opportunities to other players instead.

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