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Cremer temporarily puts cricket career on hold for family

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Former Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer has temporarily put his cricket career on hold due to family commitments. The 32-year-old legspinner recently relocated from Harare to join his wife Merna, who is now based in Dubai and working as a pilot.

“With my wife always away flying, I now have a full-time job looking after the kids and settling them into this new environment,” explained Cremer. “I am hoping this may only be temporary, so I may be able to commute back and forth to Zimbabwe, but who knows what the future holds. That’s all I can say at this stage.

“But while I am away I wish Zimbabwe Cricket all the very best in what’s to come, and I hope to join the boys again in the future.”

Cremer has played 19 Tests, 96 one-day internationals and 29 Twenty20 internationals, taking a combined 211 wickets for Zimbabwe across formats. He missed Zimbabwe’s recent tours to South Africa and Bangladesh due to knee surgery, but had made a tentative return to action in December, helping his franchise Rhinos to victory over Mountaineers in a Pro50 Championship match played in Kwekwe.

ZC acting managing director Givemore Makoni said Cremer would be greatly missed and hoped that the former captain will be available for selection again soon.

“Your wickets, numbers and everything you have contributed to our game speak for themselves and we as ZC are proud of you,” said Makoni.

“Your services will be greatly missed but we hope to have you in our national colours again soon. In the meantime, we send our best wishes to you and your family.”



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Stuart Broad faces axe as England ponder two spinners for Barbados Test

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Despite rising to No. 2 in the world rankings, despite winning eight of their nine most recent Tests and despite completing an almost unprecedented clean sweep victory in Asia, there were no England players in the ICC’s Test team of the year.But, rather than see that as a slight, England Test captain Joe Root has interpreted it as a compliment to the all-round strength of his squad.As he sees it, England’s success in the last few months – they have beaten the No. 1 side in the world, after all – reflects a growing acceptance from his players that selection will depend not on seniority, but on an assessment of the conditions and that they must think of themselves as a squad and not a team.That’s easier said than done. Personal ambitions and disappointments can be hard to manage but, in Sri Lanka at least, all the signs were that the entire England squad had bought into the idea with the final result fully vindicating it.”It shows that we are not reliant on one or two players,” Root said when asked about the ICC Test team. “We’ve played well as a group. We are not reliant on one guy scoring massive runs throughout a series to win. Everyone at some point is chipping in and performing, adding to us winning games of cricket.”That squad mentality may be required in the coming days. For Root and his fellow selectors are going to have some tricky decisions to make, starting with picking the side for the Barbados Test.The problem is England expect the Dukes ball for this series – an adapted ball not used anywhere else in the world – to remain hard, swing and assist the seamers deep into its lifespan. Combined with the pre-series talk about quicker pitches offering more bounce and carry, there was some guarded expectation they may go into this Test with four seamers and Moeen Ali as their only spinner.The look of this Barbados pitch has prompted a rethink. It looks bare, with patches of grass, and has been described as “tacky” by the England camp. As a consequence, there is more thought to playing two spinners with a final decision likely to be made only on the morning of the game.That would result in England having to leave out either Sam Curran, who offers variation with the ball and explosive ability with the bat, or Stuart Broad, who offers vast experience and more pace. Almost as tricky would be which spinner to omit. The signs, at this stage, suggest Curran is ahead of Broad and Jack Leach ahead of Adil Rashid, but it is not certain.”We came here knowing we could potentially have a number of different surfaces we might have to play on,” Root said. “We’ve come with a squad of players that is very adaptable, with plenty of options.”Everyone is fully aware of that and knows that as, as in Sri Lanka, it might not be the same XI throughout the tour. So you’ve got to be ready to go throughout the tour. It’s going to be a very difficult call.”You’re never going to win big series away from home with [just] XI players. So the message I’ve tried to get across is that the achievement is to get in the squad.”The sooner everyone can be on board with that the better. It worked extremely well in Sri Lanka. Everyone bought in to how we want to go about things. We’ve seen that it works and creates a really good environment for us to go and play in a relaxed manner and enjoy the tour.”That would be tough to take for Broad, in particular. While he may have been in gradual decline until a year or so ago (he averaged 38.80 with the ball in the 12 months up to the end of the 2017-18 Ashes), he has worked hard to regain some lost potency and has subsequently averaged 25.55 in the last 12 months. He reacted admirably selflessly to being left out for the first two Tests in Sri Lanka and claimed a hattrick in one of the warm-up matches here.”If we’re in a position to leave someone of Stuart’s stature out it’s not because of lack of form or lack of ability,” Root said. “Or because his career is coming to an end. Far from that he’s actually looking like he’s improving all the time. His action is getting stronger, he’s taking hattricks in warm-up games and looking a very serious threat in these conditions.”If anything it shows we’re going to balance the team up to suit conditions. We’re not necessarily going to play our XI best players. And from that, we’ll hopefully become more consistent away from home because we’re reading conditions and surfaces.”The one thing Root has ruled out is allowing his players to look too far ahead. While there is still a tendency for English cricket to frame itself in the context of the Ashes, he is adamant that his squad’s focus should be on nothing more than winning in the Caribbean.”I don’t want the guys to be playing for stuff that’s going to be happening in six months’ time,” Root said. “We have to look after here and now and make sure we are very aware that these are going to be three hard Test matches where we’re going to have to be consistent. Their job and their responsibility is not to worry about Ashes; their job is to perform well for three Test matches here.”



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Thisara Perera’s all-round heroics down Dhaka Dynamites

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Comilla Victorians 153 for 8 (Shamsur 48, Tamim 34, Shakib 3-24) beat Dhaka Dynamites 146 for 9 (Russell 46, Thisara 3-14, Afridi 2-18) by seven runs

How the game played out

Comilla Victorians pulled out a sloppy, see-saw affair by seven runs thanks to the all-round heroics of Thisara Perera. Though the final margin might indicate that the game went down to the wire, Victorians actually sealed it quite comfortably in the final three overs when the Dhaka Dynamites tail was left stranded following the dismissal of captain Shakib Al Hasan.

The match was far from a crisp contest, with a series of missed chances on both sides that served to keep it interesting. Deep square leg and deep midwicket were high-traffic areas throughout the day and the Victorians’ ability to seize more chances on the boundary paid off in the end.

Turning points

  • With Liam Dawson struggling to get bat on ball at one end, the red-hot Thisara Perera clattered three sixes in his 26 off 12 balls before he was run out in the final over in a mix-up trying to steal a bye.

  • Thisara removed a rampaging Andre Russell for 46 in the 15th over to defuse the Dynamites’ chase with a slower ball pulled to deep midwicket.

  • With 36 needed off 25 balls and with five wickets in hand, Shakib pulled a full toss from Shahid Afridi straight to deep midwicket.

  • Thisara followed up Shakib’s dismissal with two more via the short ball in the 17th, effectively snuffing out the Dynamites chances

Star of the day

Thisara Perera not only continued to be the Victorians’ sensational spark plug at the end of the innings with the bat, but silenced the Dynamites at the death. Not only did he take three crucial wickets, but he conceded just a single in the 19th over, leaving 19 runs to get off the last six balls, which wound up being too tough for the tail.

The big miss

Shakib got an absolute meatball from Afridi that should have been hit out of the ground. He stood motionless at the wicket once he realised he didn’t get the elevation to clear the man on the boundary and even though the required run rate was just nine per over for the last four, Dynamites’ last recognised batsman was gone to turn Dynamites from favorites to underdogs.

Where the teams stand

Victorians joined Dynamites on 10 points at the top of the table in a three-way tie for first place with Chittagong Vikings, but the Vikings have two games in hand.



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Dhoni, Dhawan should have played domestic cricket before Australia ODIs – Gambhir

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Gautam Gambhir believes that the likes of MS Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan should have been asked to play first-class cricket before joining the Indian team for the ODI series in Australia, so that they could have hit the ground running. He was also sceptical about Rishabh Pant’s chances of making it to the World Cup squad, and said playing in the IPL before the World Cup could be a blessing in disguise for India’s players. Gambhir was speaking at an event in Bangalore. Excerpts:

On playing domestic cricket before the Australia ODIs:

I was a little disappointed because some of the guys should have played first-class cricket. The selectors should have pushed them to play first-class cricket. Because it’s a World Cup year, you’ve got to be in prime form. Whether it was MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu (Rayudu retired from first-class cricket earlier this season)… all those guys who went to Australia.

Why do you skip it? Because ultimately you will get confidence by scoring runs, not by hitting the nets. You can’t be thinking, ‘I’m going to come back into form just by playing international cricket.’ The only way everyone has done it is by playing domestic cricket and scoring runs. It’s a World Cup year, so I think the selectors should have made everyone play domestic cricket.

Does Rishabh Pant have a place in the ODI squad?

I don’t think so. They’ve got MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik. He can wait for his opportunity. Obviously he has done well in Test cricket. He’s doing all the right things. But if you’ve got Dhoni, who got [the] Man-of-the-Series award, he deserves to be there now. And it’s so close to the World Cup, you need someone like Dhoni. Karthik has been in decent form as well over the last four-five months. The good thing is, Rishabh is keeping them on their toes as well, which is always a good sign for Indian cricket, that youngsters are pushing the seniors.

On players potentially skipping the IPL to rest before the World Cup:

I think playing the IPL is a fabulous opportunity for most of those guys to be in peak form. Because you’re only bowling four overs. It’s not like there is a lot of physical burden on you. Plus you’re going to be bowling in difficult conditions as well, whether in the first six overs or the last four. So that will keep you in good shape. You don’t suddenly miss the IPL and say ‘I’ll go to the World Cup fresh and raring to go.’ That is only from the physical point of view, but from the skill point of view, to be at the top of your game, you’ve got to be playing a tournament like the IPL. And if you do well at the IPL, it’s going to keep you in very good stead in the World Cup. Imagine Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowling well in the death overs, how confident they would be going into the World Cup. Or some of the middle-order batters finishing the game for their franchise, they’ll go to the World Cup thinking, ‘We can finish from any situation’. So I think the IPL can be a blessing in disguise. I think MS Dhoni made a very good point when he said that it’s going to be a great opportunity for most of the players to be in prime form from the skill point of view.

On how Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul’s potential absence could affect the team:

One person does not change anything. The core still remains the same. KL Rahul wasn’t even there in the playing XI because we had Rayudu who did fabulously well against West Indies, so he deserved a chance before Rahul in the one-day format. Yes Hardik Pandya [might have made a difference], but you’ve replaced him with Ravindra Jadeja, who again is an allrounder. We only have, what, ten ODIs left before the World Cup? So we should maintain consistency and give people who are going to play the first game of the World Cup these ten games and see how they deliver.

On the journey from sharing his Player-of-the-Match Award with Virat Kohli when the latter made his first ODI hundred, to Kohli sweeping all the ICC awards:

It’s his hard work. I shared it because it was his first international hundred. I wanted to make him feel special because it was his first international hundred. Irrespective of how many you get, I remember my first international hundred till now, even when I’m retired. That always stays close to your heart, it’s a feeling that can never be replaced, even if you get 100 international hundreds, or how many ever. The first is always special, your debut is always special. Whenever he sees that trophy he should remember that. And whatever he’s achieved is all because of his hard work. I hope he continues this form because it’s going to be an important year for Indian cricket.

On what makes Jasprit Bumrah difficult to pick:

People ask me this about Sunil Narine as well, what made him so difficult to pick – and I just said, ‘quality’. Mystery can be solved over a period of time, but he had the quality. People can keep talking about Bumrah’s action, but he’s just a quality bowler. The action can only help you in one format, probably T20 where you have to go after the bowling. But he’s been so successful in Test cricket. He’s probably the best bowler in the world right now in all three formats.

On which spinners India should look at for the World Cup:

I think both wristspinners have done a fabulous job for Indian cricket over the last one year. But I still feel that R Ashwin is someone we should look at. A quality spinner is a quality spinner, irrespective of whether you’re a wristspinner or a fingerspinner. Look at what Nathan Lyon has done in the Test series. He’s probably the best offspinner in the world and he’s a fingerspinner. So I feel we should not differentiate that there’s a wristspinner so there’s no space for a finger spinner. Someone like Ashwin, we should always consider. Looking at the conditions in England during that time of the year, the wickets could be dry and a fingerspinner could have an important role.



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