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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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Martin Crowe, Jonah Lomu get cricket trophy named after them

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Martin Crowe and Jonah Lomu, the former and late New Zealand rugby player, have been commemorated with a cricket trophy named after them. The Hagley Oval in Christchurch will bring together cricket and rugby players for the inaugural ‘Black Clash’ Twenty20 match on January 25.

Team Rugby have signed up former Australia batsman David Hussey as the international wildcard.

Lomu, who was a globally renowned rugby star, was New Zealand’s youngest ever All Black, when he made his debut at the age of 19. He died at the age of 40, following a sudden heart attack. Crowe, the former New Zealand captain, and one of the country’s greatest batsman, lost a long battle to cancer in March 2016, aged 53.

“It’s truly fitting that the names of these two national heroes have pride of place on what is a wonderful, iconic piece of Kiwi art,” David Higgins, the founder and director of the Duco Events Group, which is organising the event, said.

“I’ve always believed that Martin and Jonah have not been fully recognised for the contribution they made to the country through their tremendous deeds on and off the sports field. Both Martin and Jonah were men whose achievements transcended the sports field. So to be able to honour them even in a small way by naming the T20 Black Clash trophy the Lomu-Crowe trophy just feels right.”

The Lomu-Crowe trophy is designed after a Maori adze, featuring a finish blade made of greenstone. Created by the famed New Zealand artist Shane ‘Spud’ Dudley, the trophy was unveiled in Christchurch on Wednesday, along with player jerseys for the two teams.

“It’s huge. Look at the trophy, it’s amazing, it’s beautiful,” Israel Dagg, the All Blacks and Crusaders outside back, said. “It symbolises New Zealand and, obviously, you’ve got two great, world renowned athletes in Lomu and Crowe. Those names will live on forever.”

Dagg will be one of 12 players who are a part of Team Rugby. Dagg has had a tryst with cricket in the past, when in 2005, when he was 16, he was invited to bowl at the Australian nets. Dagg had reportedly clocked 143kmph, earning the endorsement of Brett Lee.

“I’ll try and get it down as fast as I can,” he said. “Obviously, with rugby you do a lot more upper body weights. I’ll try and do 130, something like that. I live pretty close to [All Blacks captain Kieran] Reado, so I might knock on his door and go and have a net.”

Team Rugby have an uphill battle against a Team Cricket that is full of former New Zealand stars, such as Grant Elliott, New Zealand’s hero in the 2015 World Cup semifinal and final, who sold the match’s competitive spirit. “Absolutely. Everything to lose, nothing to gain but our pride,” he said. “I think pride is the important thing. I’ve always seen games like this start off with a bit of a smile on the face, but then there’s always a pivotal moment and suddenly that completive spirit takes over.”

Team Rugby will don the red and black colours of Canterbury, while Team Cricket will turn out in blue. Team Cricket haven’t yet picked a wildcard, who will be announced next week.



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Chandimal calls for collective batting lift to challenge Australia

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Dinesh Chandimal, the Sri Lanka captain, has called on his batsmen to dig deep and post first-innings totals over 300 to give the bowlers a chance of repeating the success India enjoyed in their historic series victory.

India became the first Asian side to win a Test series in Australia, a contest Chandimal watched closely while in New Zealand. Sri Lanka’s Test record in Australia is very lop-sided with 11 defeats and two draws – and they have passed 300 in their first innings in just four of those 13 matches. However, Chandimal has the belief that his bowling attack can cause problems in the day-night Test at the Gabba if they have runs to support them.

“That’s the one area we’ll have to improve,” he said ahead of the three-day pink-ball match against a Cricket Austealia XI in Hobart. “We have done well in New Zealand in both Tests, especially in the second innings. We just want to start well whether bowling or batting. We learnt from that last series and guys have some game plans. If they can take it out to the middle it will give us a good start.

“Our fast bowlers are in good shape and if we can get more than 300 that will be great from the batting unit. The India bowling unit was really good, especially between overs 40-80. That’s why they won the series. As a team we just want to do that as well.”

Their 282 in Wellington was dwarfed by New Zealand’s 578. Then, having bowled the home side out for 178 in Christchurch, they folded for 104 in reply. In both second innings they were much improved, especially in Wellington where Kusal Mendis and Angelo Matthews batted the entire fourth day before rain helped them earn a draw. In the second Test, Chandimal himself faced 228 balls in the second innings in Christchurch.

That batting unit will have to contend with the absence of Mathews who suffered a hamstring injury in New Zealand which will leave a greater onus on Mendis, Chandimal and opener Dimuth Karunaratne.

“We all know how good Angelo is and we will certainly miss him. In the last series he did really well and he has a lot of experience,” Chandimal said. “This is a really good opportunity for the youngsters to show a performance. If you perform against Australia in Australia that will give you more confidence going forward. We have something up our sleeve and if we can execute that we are on the right track.

“We know how good the Australia team is. We all have ups and downs as teams and individuals, but still Australia are a really good side with really talented players. It’s never easy for subcontinent teams to come here and win a series.”



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‘Never seen myself as competing with Renshaw’ – Joe Burns | Cricket

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Joe Burns plays a shot © Getty Images


Tim Paine is not part of Australia’s selection panel but he will have the chance to cast his eye over the new faces in the Test squad if he so wishes when the CA XI take on the Sri Lankans in the day-night tour match starting in Hobart on Thursday. The contest has been elevated in significance by the inclusion of the trio of batsmen called up to the Test squad – Joe Burns, Matt Renshaw and the uncapped Will Pucovski – alongside incumbent Marcus Labuschange. Paine is back at home, having resisted the temptation to play in the Big Bash in the small gap between facing India and Sri Lanka, and was at Bellerive Oval on Wednesday doing some work with fellow Tasmania player and CA XI wicketkeeper Jake Doran.

The three-day match, which won’t have first-class status to allow the Sri Lankans to utilise their squad, is being billed as a bat-off for three places in the final XI at the Gabba.

Burns, who captains the CA XI, will open with Queensland team-mate Renshaw in what looks like a contest to partner Marcus Harris at the top of the order. Burns’ Sheffield Shield numbers for the season are far superior – an average of 47.20 compared to Renshaw’s 19.90 – while Renshaw was warned by Justin Langer not to take his eye off the ball after dips in form when he had previously been earmarked for the Test side. Burns played down the potential of the match becoming a very individual affair with Test places on the line.

“The fact we work together doing the same role, building a partnership as an opener pair, you are just happy to see team-mates going well,” he said. “Hopefully we can both get the opportunity, I’ve never seen myself as competing with Renners. It’s just how we can get the job done for Queensland.”

There will also be much interest around Pucovski, who has played just eight first-class matches before his first Test call-up. The match could work both ways: a chance for the Australian players to claim early points against Sri Lanka’s bowlers, but also the opportunity for the visitors to make a mark against some of those they will be playing next week in Brisbane.

“We don’t see ourselves as here to service Sri Lanka in any way, it’s about hopefully setting the tone for the Test series,” Burns said. “I’m not sure about a bat-off, it’s just a chance to spend time in the middle with a big Test series coming up and get exposed to the Sri Lanka bowlers. The selectors want to see players in certain positions and we have an eye on the Test series as well.”

The fact this game now resembles an Australia A side is also because there is currently no domestic first-class cricket being played, and hasn’t been since early December due to the Big Bash. The structure of the season is due to come under review although it would appear unlikely that there will be space for regular multi-day cricket at this time of the season. Burns was diplomatic when asked about the challenges of presenting a Test case in the midst of a T20 season.

“It’s always a tricky talking point. We had the opportunity to play six Shield games back-to-back which as a player you really appreciate,” he said. “I know a lot has been made that guys haven’t been playing long-form cricket but you don’t lose your skills overnight. Games like this serve a really valuable purpose. In an ideal world we are coming out of a few long format games but reality you can’t always have them on when there are three formats.”

Although now back in the Test squad, Burns has also been cited as an example of the perception that the selectors have backed potential over performance in recent times. He was parachuted back into the Test side for the final Test against South Africa following the ball-tampering but then left out of the series against Pakistan and India.

“Everyone who gets selected for Australia is a really, really good player,” Burns said. “You don’t even get a job in professional cricket at state level without being an excellent player. All the guys who get opportunities are very talented, sometimes it can be a simple judgement call from selectors. It’s just the way the game is with the three formats, players coming in and out of competitions all around the world, it’s very hard to throw a blanket over a group of players and compare them all evenly.”

While it’s the Test players who have most to gain or lose immediately, there are other eye-catching names involved with the New South Wales pair of Jason Sangha and Kurtis Patterson part of the batting line-up, while seamers Chris Tremain and Scott Boland can push their claims to be back-up Ashes quicks.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo


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