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Ingram, Laughlin render Stars shineless

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Adelaide Strikers 5 for 178 (Ingram 57, Head 43, Plunkett 4-36) beat Melbourne Stars 137 (Gulbis 37, Laughlin 3-19) by 41 runs

The Adelaide Strikers overcame a sluggish start to dismantle the Melbourne Stars in Adelaide as a Colin Ingram powershow and some miserly bowling proved enough to contain the visitors.

Ingram combined with the Strikers’ captain, Travis Head, to stabilise a slow start for the hosts, before a late-order flurry from Jonathan Wells closed the innings at 178.

The Stars started brightly with Ben Dunk and Evan Gulbis, but the spectre of Rashid Khan loomed large. An unplayable over or two from the Afghanistan superstar saw the Melbourne franchise fall behind the asking rate, from which they never recovered. The innings petered out as the Strikers’ bowlers shared the wickets, Ben Laughlin most impressive with 3 for 19, leaving the Strikers well-positioned as the competition hits the halfway point.

Strikers motor after slow start

On a perfect Adelaide evening, the Stars won the flip and elected to field, hoping to limit a powerful Strikers batting line-up without Alex Carey on international duty, but welcoming Head back into the fold.

They were greeted by a pristine batting surface, but Jackson Bird led an excellent start for the Stars, who held the home side to 2 for 25 from the first five overs. The pressure continued to build after each of Evan Gulbis, Ben Dunk and Dwayne Bravo delivered economical overs, as both Head and Ingram scrambled for rhythm.

But they slowly built, taking the partnership from 48 off 42 balls, to then 55 from 47, before an expensive Plunkett over triggered a run spree. Head hit three sixes in a row, the first two over midwicket, then the third over long-off after Plunkett overcorrected. The returned Test batsman then tried to hit another over long-off, but holed out to Bird who took a comfortable catch. The damage largely done, Head departed for 43.

Ingram continued where Head left off, taking Boland for a huge over while accompanied by a Rashid, who was promoted up the order. The move, as the Stars captain Maddinson confessed on-air, had “mucked up” his bowling plans. The Strikers captain was dismissed for 57 from 41 deliveries, leaving 19 balls left in the innings.

A damaging spree of runs followed, as Wells took full toll of the Stars, combining with Harry Nielsen to plough 44 runs from the last three overs, which ultimately took the game away from the visitors.

Rashid the catalyst

It was as though the Stars knew they had to get the runs elsewhere. They started their chase brilliantly, taking 10 and 12 runs from the first two overs respectively, before Rashid was brought on, in the third over, to settle the pace. He did so, completely arresting the Stars’ Powerplay momentum by conceding only one from the over.

Wes Agar was then introduced, and expensively so, before an athletic, sprawling catch at the deep-forward square leg boundary by Michael Neser brought Dunk undone from Ben Laughlin’s bowling. It was a quality catch, with Dunk swinging the ball away over leg, leaving Neser plenty of ground to make up before he snaffled it to his left.

Stars Fizzle

Normally an asking rate of 10 with 10 overs remaining leaves a sporting chance, but it didn’t feel like that tonight. Once Maddinson, the captain, was removed for five, the remainder of the innings felt like a procession. It enabled Wes Agar to break his BBL wicket duck via a number of well-directed deliveries at offstump, and Laughlin to demonstrate his quality through his classic range of changes deliveries, both up and down.

While their bowling just about held up well in the absence of Adam Zampa and Sandeep Lamichhane, the Stars batting is arguably hardest hit by the ODIs. They have to do without their nucleus of Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, and Peter Handscomb, though will welcome each of them back once the Tests begin. They’ll certainly look forward to every ounce of the trio’s firepower after tonight’s display, which revealed little depth. While a number of tonight’s Stars may be worthy of a handy contribution batting around the above-mentioned players, at this point they may struggle to post sizeable totals without them.



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Warner reveals unlikely secret to slower tempo

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Name the artist most likely to provide the soundtrack to a David Warner batting montage over the past decade and many would reach for an AC/DC record – all blazing guitars and hair-raising lyrics – or perhaps something even heavier.

An absence of the aforementioned metallic clang about Warner’s performances at this year’s World Cup has been so evident as to raise questions about what is now going on inside the left-hander’s head, for he has been seemingly batting to the loping rhythm of an emo folkie. Following Australia’s win over England at Lord’s he has finally provided an answer: emo folk indeed, from the Scotsman Lewis Capaldi. Lewis Capaldi? The Bruises, Grace, Someone You Loved Lewis Capaldi, so loathed by Noel Gallagher? Yes, really.

The flip side of Warner’s composed and relaxed visage in the middle during games – a jarring contrast with so many of his previous, antagonistic displays – has been his use of headphones in the nets. During Australia’s training sessions, Warner has donned the ear buds and played tracks off his watch to block out external noise and slow his tempo. It’s a technique drawn from one of the many relaxation methods Warner tried during his 12 months banned from the international game.

“Why do I wear headphones at training, well I was waiting for that. It is something for me to relax my mind,” Warner said. “We do a lot of different things. In the last 12 months I just did a lot of different stuff. I did a lot of stuff on recovery.

WATCH on Hotstar (India only)David Warner’s 166 against Bangladesh

“I am not an ice bath man but I went and did cryotherapy [use of extreme cold to aid recovery], I did a whole session with my headphones on a couple of times and it really relaxed me at training. When you have guys coming at you at 150kph you don’t want to be listening to any external noise around the training sessions. So I just sing along to whatever top 40 is on my iWatch. It is a bit of a tempo thing.”

“There is a Lewis Capaldi [song], I think he is on there at the moment. There is a bit of slow music, but for me it is calming me down while I am out there.”

Blocking out external noise, of course, was something Warner and Steven Smith needed to be ready for on their returns to Australian ranks, and there were still plenty of boos at Lord’s, tacitly approved of by England’s captain Eoin Morgan. Smith’s own year of self-discovery featured the taking up of music – he now travels with an acoustic guitar – and for Warner the decision to find a different headspace in which to bat and play the game can be related to what he saw when he played club cricket in Sydney over the summer.

“For me it is about enjoying the game when it is taken away from you, you realise what it is all about,” Warner said. “Going back to grass roots was fantastic. I really saw smiles on people’s faces to be out there on a Saturday afternoon. All the volunteers that come down and put time and effort, whether it is making the drinks, making the lunches. People’s parents, my mum, my dad coming down, it is just great. You can’t take that for granted. I am just grateful for the second opportunity to come back here and represent my country and do the country proud. You know I am just excited to be back here and playing World Cup cricket for Australia.”

If there was criticism of the way Warner dragged Australia’s run rate down against India at The Oval, this has been drowned out by how he and Aaron Finch have proven to be this tournament’s calmest and most reliable opening pair.

Their qualities have been most evident on a pair of days, against Pakistan and England, when they were sent in to bat in conditions tailored to seam and swing. But instead of being methodically nicked off, they have won the battle between the ears on a big occasion as Pakistan sprayed the new balls and England dropped too short. Then when Australia bowled in defence of middling tallies, their pacemen took on the lessons and fashioned the wins that have qualified Australia for the semi-finals.

“I think when we looked at this wicket specifically that was our game plan, to keep wickets in hand,” Warner said of Lord’s. “We knew up front Woakesey [Chris Woakes] was going to be challenging, obviously Jofra [Archer] as well with his pace.

“But I really think there was a lot of pace taken out of that wicket. It did seam a bit but there was just no real pace in that wicket. So credit to the way our bowlers came out and bowled, we knew early wickets was going to be the key and we managed to do that. You saw I think nine wickets taken by our fast bowlers which is exceptional.

“It’s always challenging. I was thinking back to the Pakistan game, it’s one of those things where you tighten up a little bit and you pounce on anything that’s short and if anything’s full, as we say you throw the kitchen sink at it. We were patient, we bought our time and the knock that Finchy played, to get a hundred there – I know he was disappointed not to go on – but he played an exceptional knock. And the little cameo that Kez [Alex Carey] did as well was fantastic and put us into a great position to put 280 on the board.”

For this tournament at least, Australia now have well founded confidence that they have chosen the right method, one to which Warner has adapted by way of his own self-knowledge from 12 months away. A similar approach during the Ashes from a similar group of players would appear likely too.

While the question remains open as to how sustainable it all is – Warner, after all, did not become a dominant international batsman at Test level by simply hanging around and waiting for the bad ball – it appears the right approach for this moment. Time will tell whether Warner’s head stays full of Lewis Capaldi, or something livelier takes his place.



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Nicholas Pooran joins Yorkshire for Vitality T20 Blast

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Nicholas Pooran will seek to banish memories of West Indies’ unproductive World Cup by staying on in England to play five matches for Yorkshire in the Vitality T20 Blast.

Pooran was one of several rookie players that West Indies’ captain Jason Holder had in mind when he called for them to become the heart and the soul of the team. That is what Yorkshire have in mind by calling up the Trinidadian with a view to improving a mediocre T20 record.

One aspect of the World Cup that has at least worked in Pooran’s favour is that he has reached the requisite number of international appearances (15 over the preceding two years) during the West Indies’ campaign to qualify for a visa as an overseas player in the tournament.

He has not had a bad World Cup, getting starts in four of his five innings, but his 63 against England at the Ageas Bowl is his only half-century for a West Indies side that is on the brink of elimination.

“It is hard work playing for different teams and still trying to be as professional as you can be,” Pooran said. “You’ve just got to adapt and learn about different people’s cultures and just try to be the best I can be for the team. It will be a new and exciting experience for me.

Pooran, who made his ODI debut in Bridgetown against England in February this year, will return to the West Indies setup in time for their home T20I series against India, which begins on August 3 in Florida. He has quickly established himself as one of the most explosive batsmen in limited-overs cricket with a strike rate of 140 in his 11 T20 internationals. He also top scored in the fledgling T10 competition in the UAE before Christmas, scoring 324 runs in nine matches for Champions Northern Warriors, including 33 sixes.

Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, said: “Nicholas is an excellent young talent, although he is only available for a short period, we hope it will give us early impetus in the competition.

“Johnny Tattersall has been incredibly effective as a batter in limited-overs cricket, but he has played every game this season. He has now got three back-to-back Championship fixtures and only a couple of days between the end of the Somerset match and the start of the T20s.

“We’re mindful of the workload of Tatts and we have been leaving things open to see how he was going. There are other areas we feel we need for the T20s, so Nicholas has been on the radar for some time. At some point we needed to make a decision on which path to take, so we decided to go for him, albeit for a short five-game spell.”



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Recent Match Report – Surrey vs Warwickshire, County Championship Division One, 2nd Innings

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Surrey 194 (Lester 4-41) and 325 (Stoneman 71, Elgar 53, Curran 52, Miles 5-91) beat Warwickshire 230 (Rhodes 51, S Curran 3-50) and 215 (Sibley 73, Morkel 4-34) by 74 runs

Surrey wrapped up their maiden Specsavers County Championship victory of the season by claiming Warwickshire’s last seven wickets for 67 runs to win by 74 runs at an overcast Kia Oval.

After a cut and thrust opening three days to this Division One basement battle, it was the hosts who took a grip on proceedings on the final morning by wrapping up the innings inside two hours to win with two sessions to spare, banking 19 points to Warwickshire’s four. Veteran spinner Gareth Batty proved their nemesis with 4 for 34, but pacemen Sam Curran and Morne Morkel each chipped in with two wickets apiece during an action-packed session.

Warwickshire, needing 142 to land their third Championship win of the summer, resumed on their overnight score of 148 for 3 only to lose nightwatchman Craig Miles leg before to Rikki Clarke’s fourth ball of the day.

On a gloomy morning, the visiting top order attempted to dig in but found batting a struggle, particularly against the pace of Morkel, who had shouts for leg before and a catch in the cordon turned down against Adam Hose and Dominic Sibley respectively.

Warwickshire’s fifth-wicket partners saw off Clarke who, after 45 minutes from the Pavilion End, gave way to the offspin of Batty. In his opening over Batty had two leg-before shouts in three balls turned down by umpire James Middlebrook as Sibley battled on.

With 100 runs required for victory, Warwickshire lost Hose for 21, squared up on the walk to one from Curran that thudded into the back pad forcing umpire Martin Saggers to uphold the leg before appeal. Four balls later and again from around the wicket, Curran swung one back in to pluck put Matthew Lamb’s off stump with one that nipped through the gate via a thin inside edge.

Warwickshire’s demise continued as they lost their third wicket inside seven balls and without addition to the total. Sibley, looking to rotate the strike against Batty, called a hesitant Tim Ambrose through for a risky single only for Scott Borthwick to swoop and throw to the non-striker’s end where Ben Foakes ran out his counterpart for a duck.

Curran, whose workload in the match was restricted to 30 overs under an ECB request, gave way at the Vauxhall End to Morkel who ended Sibley’s 231-minute stay for 73 with his fifth delivery. Sibley, driving on the up, appeared stunned when the tall South African stooped in his follow through to claim a stunning return catch low to his left.

With 81 still needed, Jeetan Patel danced down the pitch to Batty only to miss an attempted heave over mid-on and gift a regulation stumping to Foakes. Last man Oliver Hannon-Dalby then skied an attempted slog sweep to Batty who ran around toward mid-on to claim the catch and end the match.



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