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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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Urooj Mumtaz to head PCB’s all-women selection panel

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A new PCB women’s selection committee chaired by Urooj Mumtaz will also include former players Asmavia Iqbal and Marina Iqbal, the PCB announced.

Asmavia was already part of the what is now an all-women committee. Jalaluddin and Akhtar Sarfraz, who were the other two members, have now been replaced by Marina and Mumtaz.

The committee’s first task will be the announcement of a side that tours South Africa for the ICC Women’s Championship in May. Wasim Khan thanked the outgoing Jalaluddin and Akhtar Sarfraz for their services, and announced a new vision for women’s cricket going forward.

“Women’s cricket will be an important priority moving forward and this has been reflected in the selection of such a relevant and dynamic committee,” he said. “Their appointments will go a long way towards accelerating the progress of our senior women’s team.

“The new selection committee comprises players who, until very recently, have been involved in white ball cricket. This syncs very nicely with the PCB’s vision of providing an environment where women’s cricket not only thrives but where we are able to increase our pool of players so that it can sustainably grow and flourish. Attracting women with the relevant skill sets and a passion for the women’s game was critical when forming this new Committee.

“Offering merit based opportunities to exceptionally talented women who can help drive and influence the game spells a new and exciting era at the PCB. Urooj is part of the PCB Cricket Committee, so her relevance to the modern game will further benefit the direction we are aiming to take the women and girls’ cricket.”

Urooj Mumtaz said: “I would like to thank the PCB for believing in me and my abilities for this new role as the Chair of the women’s selection committee.

“As we move into a new era of women’s cricket, we need to have the ability to adapt to the modern day game. Keeping that in mind, we aim to inspire and produce players with the skills and talent to compete consistently at the top international level, and also encourage the younger generation to take up this great game and become the ambassadors of Pakistan. As we move forward, I am confident the performance of the team will also improve steadily.”



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Recent Match Report – Western Australia vs Queensland, Sheffield Shield, 30th match

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Queensland 5 for 71 (Burns 31, Heazlett 28*, Neser 22*, Paris 2-15) trail Western Australia 138 (Whiteman 38, Neser 5-15, Stanlake 2-32) by 43 runs

Michael Neser has put his name in lights as a potential Ashes tourist after a stunning five-wicket haul on a day when fast bowlers dominated at the WACA.

Neser took 5 for 15 from 15 overs, with all five dismissals caught behind the wicket, to help bowl Western Australia out for just 138 on a green seamer. The Warriors bounced back emphatically late in the day, reducing the visitors to 5 for 66 before Neser and Sam Heazlett steadied the ship with a calming, unbeaten 29-run stand to see the Bulls to stumps.

Neser now has 30 wickets at an average of 23.30 for the season and 451 runs and counting at an average of 50.11 with five half-centuries.

There was no hesitation from Bulls captain Jimmy Peirson to bowl after winning the toss and Neser revelled in the conditions. He squared up both Cameron Bancroft and D’Arcy Short with balls that seamed a long way before they were edged into the safe hands of Joe Burns and Marnus Labuschagne respectively. Mitchell Marsh also fell caught at slip to Neser attempting to defend on the front foot.

Sam Whiteman was one of the few WA batsmen who looked comfortable against the moving ball, leaving decisively and pouncing on the odd loose delivery. He and Hilton Cartwright guided the home side to lunch but both fell shortly after. Cartwright was caught in the gully before Whiteman fell for 38, closing the face too soon be caught and bowled off the leading edge to Mark Steketee.

The rot then set in. WA lost their last seven wickets for just 69 runs. Neser took two of the last four to complete just his second five-wicket haul in first-class cricket.

Queensland’s innings started horrendously, slumping to 3 for 18. Joel Paris‘ late and prodigious swing accounted for Matt Renshaw and Labuschagne before Charlie Hemphrey was bowled shouldering arms to Mitch Marsh.

Joe Burns made 31 out of 49 in the difficult batting conditions before fending at and edging Liam Guthrie to second slip where Bancroft held the sharp chance.

Peirson sliced a catch to the gully off Kelly to leave the Bulls in a worse position than the Warriors were at five-down. But Heazlett and Neser were solid in the fading light to reach stumps 43 runs behind with five first-innings wickets in hand.



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Harry Gurney signs white-ball-only deal with Nottinghamshire

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Harry Gurney has retired from red-ball cricket, signing a white-ball-only contract extension with Nottinghamshire until the end of the 2020 season.

Gurney’s left-arm pace has made him something of a global commodity, earning him deals to play for Quetta Gladiators in the PSL and Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL following a successful stint with BBL champions Melbourne Renegades.

“I am very proud of what I have achieved in red ball cricket, but now feels like the right time to focus solely on one-day competitions,” 32-year-old Gurney said. “I am grateful to the Club for understanding and for showing faith in me by giving me a deal until the end of 2020.

“I can’t imagine playing my cricket anywhere else in England and I hope I can taste further white ball success with this exciting group of players.”

On English soil, Gurney has taken more wickets than any other bowler in T20 cricket over the past two years, claiming 41 wickets at an average of 21.63 with a miserly economy rate for a new ball and death bowler of 8.32.

In 2017, he contributed 21 wickets to Nottinghamshire’s T20 Blast triumph and 13 as the Outlaws lifted the Royal London One-Day Cup.

Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell said: “While it’s a disappointment that Harry won’t be playing red ball cricket for us anymore, we’re really pleased to have him committed to us for one-day cricket over the next two seasons.

“He’s one of the best white ball bowlers around. Once he made his decision, if we didn’t offer him a white ball deal there would be 17 other counties wanting him to bowl for them.

“When he returns from the IPL, he’ll have had a concerted period of T20 cricket behind him and will continue to be an asset to us, as he has been for a number of years.”

Gurney, who has played 10 ODIs and two T20Is for England, joined Nottinghamshire from Leicestershire before the 2012 season and has taken 275 first-class wickets at an average of 28.81, including career-best figures of 6-25 against Lancashire last year.

Young Nottinghamshire bowlers Luke Wood, Zak Chappell and Paul Coughlin are in line to fill the void left by Gurney in the longer format.



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