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Recent Match Report – Somerset vs Surrey, County Championship Division One, 1st Innings

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Somerset 243 for 5 (Hildreth 90, Azhar 60) trail Surrey 380 by 137 runs

James Hildreth top-scored with 90 as Division One leaders Somerset fought hard to stay on terms with Surrey on day two of the Specsavers County Championship match at Taunton.

Azhar Ali and Steven Davies also weighed in with half-centuries and shared in stands of 94 and 70 with Hildreth for the second and fifth wickets respectively as the hosts reached the close on 243 for 5, still 137 runs behind.

Rikki Clarke had earlier scored an unbeaten 59 to help Surrey achieve 380 in their first innings and then claimed the key wicket of Hildreth in the final session to give the defending champions a potentially crucial advantage at the halfway stage.

Much will depend on Davies when he resumes his innings on 54 not out on a pitch which is expected to offer increasing assistance to spin during the next two days.

Certainly, Azhar and Hildreth will regret not converting useful totals into something altogether more substantial, both surrendering their wickets in meek fashion after surviving trial by pace at the hands of Morne Morkel and Conor McKerr.

Especially strong off the back foot, Azhar fought fire with fire in raising a 49-ball 50 with nine fours. When it looked as though he might go on and attain three figures, he inexplicably succumbed to Gareth Batty’s off breaks, tamely chipping to mid-wicket and departing for 60.

Hildreth’s rather more studious innings was a high-class affair and, having attained 50 from 80 balls, he was supremely well-placed to register the 46th first-class hundred of his career, only to suffer a loss of concentration and offer a return catch to Clarke via a leading edge.

Aware of his responsibilities, Davies continued to breathe defiance, going to 50 from 91 balls and sharing in an unbroken partnership of 32 for the sixth wicket with Lewis Gregory, who reached the close on 18 not out.

McKerr proved the pick of the Surrey bowlers, removing Marcus Trescothick and George Bartlett, while Morkel had to be satisfied with the wicket of Tom Abell, scant reward for an imposing display of sustained hostility.

A perennial thorn in Somerset sides, Clarke afforded Surrey’s first innings renewed impetus when the visitors resumed on 330 for 6. Quite prepared to play his shots, the veteran all-rounder dominated a stand of 55 with Ryan Patel for the seventh wicket, ushering his side to a fourth batting bonus point.

He went to a 90-ball half century in fine style, handsomely driving Tim Groenewald to the cover boundary for his ninth four, only to be left high and dry on 59 not out as wickets fell at the other end.

England slow left armer Jack Leach served to keep the champions in check, claiming three wickets in seven overs after being introduced from the River End. Spearheading a concerted Somerset fightback, he comprehensively bowled Patel for 32, pinned Batty lbw without scoring and sent back last man McKerr, who top-edged a catch to backward point.



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Monty Panesar opens up on mental health battles and hoping to play again | Cricket

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Monty Panesar bowls during his brief comeback with Northamptonshire © Getty Images


Former England spinner Monty Panesar has spoken in depth about his mental health issues, describing the shock of being diagnosed with “paranoia/schizophrenia”. The 37-year-old now believes he has put his problems behind him and remains hopeful that he can win a return to first-class cricket despite being without a club since 2016.

Panesar was an England regular during the mid-to-late 2000s but suffered from bouts of depression and drinking to excess. He was released by Sussex in 2013 after a late-night incident that involved urinating on a bouncer outside a club and although he was included on the subsequent Ashes tour, he played his final match for England during that year’s Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Speaking to Nasser Hussain, the former England captain, in an interview with the Daily Mail, Panesar talked about his battle with depression and his hopes for a comeback. He revealed that he had consulted another former England captain Mike Brearley, who is also a qualified psychologist, about his mental health.

“My parents became worried,” he said. “They wanted me to see someone. I had always thought strong people couldn’t have a problem. I was always the guy who would win games, who had everything in order.

“My cricket had always gone the way I had planned it, but suddenly things started going in a direction I hadn’t experienced since childhood. It had all been up, up, up but this was new territory mentally.

“It was a guy called Peter Gilmore who said I was suffering from paranoia/schizophrenia and that shocked me massively. Mike Brearley told me to be careful about the things I was saying to myself. Some experts thought I’d never get better but I knew I could fight it, come through it.”

Having left Sussex, Panesar had further run-ins with the management at Essex, before returning for a brief spell at Northamptonshire, where he originally rose to England prominence. He has now written an autobiography, The Full Monty, detailing his experiences and said he is determined to give his playing career “one more go”.

“It was difficult,” he said. “Everyone was doubting me. I spoke to [former wicketkeeper turned mentor] Neil Burns and he told me everyone thought I’d gone off the rails. He told me there were so many rumours and I had to put the record straight. I tried to do a couple of interviews to get the message out that I’d had problems, but I was on the way back.

“Now the book will hopefully get everything out there. I love the game. I’m not a bad egg in the dressing room, I’m actually a nice guy. I want people to remember the good Monty, but it takes a while to eradicate bad memories. It’s like I’m a fireball and people are worried that if they get too close to me they’ll get burnt.

“I don’t need medication. I don’t drink. I don’t have good and bad days. All of those things have gone. There was a moment I was at Northampton about 18 months ago and I looked around and thought, ‘Wow, those paranoid thoughts are not there any more’. I knew then Monty was back. I’m going to be a cricketer again. I’m going to do it.”

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‘Very tough event for corruptors to come near’ – ICC ACU chief

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An officer from the ICC’s anti-corruption unit (ACU) will, for the first time, travel alongside each of the 10 participating teams in the World Cup. The move is part of the ACU’s drive to stave off the ever-increasing, ever-present danger of corrupt elements who have been frequently implicated in various sport-fixing scandals. However, the ACU is confident that the World Cup is “well protected”.

Alex Marshall, the ACU general manager, said that the advantage of having an officer from his unit travel with each team was to instill confidence among the players and support staff in reporting any approach from corruptors. “We have put an anti-corruption manager from my team with each of the squads, my people who work all around the world. Usually this is someone who has worked with the team anyway, goes on tour with them, knows all the players and support staff, and has a good relationship so they can report any concerns,” Marshall said at a media conference at the Oval on Friday.

Marshall said the exercise proved to be fruitful when ACU officers travelled recently with a few international teams. “It’s something we’ve used at some of the T20 events around the world, and being away from the ground, it just allows anti-corruption managers to get to know the entire squad very well.

“The person who’s with Bangladesh has been on tour with Bangladesh in recent months, knows all the players and all the squad. The person with Afghanistan has been on tour with Afghanistan, knows all the management, knows all the players. We’ve developed a much closer relationship with all the players and the squads, and having them (ACU officers) with them (the squad) throughout the whole of the World Cup just perpetuates that good relationship. The indicators that it’s working are the amount of reporting we’re getting from players.”

Unlike his predecessors, Marshall has been more open and aggressive in his stance and words with regards to sending a message to unscrupulous elements. The ACU has identified that the corruptors, having found it hard to tread around players, have been trying to influence people on the “edge” which includes support staff, selectors, administrators, and groundsmen. Recently the ACU charged several people in Sri Lanka, including former captain Sanath Jayasuriya, as part its wide-ranging and longstanding investigations into alleged match-fixing activities.

“We have put an anti-corruption manager from my team with each of the squads. Usually this is someone who has worked with the team anyway.”

Alex Marshall

Marshall said the ACU had identified about a “dozen” corrupt elements globally, whose images were being shared with all 10 teams as well as the UK police. “This World Cup will be very, very well protected by anti-corruption (unit) working with police, National Crime Agency and gambling organisations. You can never guarantee any event will be free of an issue – what I can say is that the corruptors know how well protected this event is, they know how professionally it’s run and we have an anti-corruption manager with every single squad, not just at the matches, but away from the matches looking out for these people. And it’s around a dozen people who have had the ‘disinvite’ to the Cricket World Cup 2019 and who we will keep away.

“If anymore pop up, we will be speaking to them as well. They are people who live all over the world, but the majority of the corruption we deal with has its origins in the sub-continent, unregulated betting markets.”

In an interesting move, Marshall said the ACU had reached out to some of the corruptors – through solicitors and direct communication in some cases – alerting them they would be barred from the World Cup as soon as they were spotted. Some wrote back saying they would not come to the tournament. “I have either written, called or Whatsapped all the corruptors and the other main corruptors we know operating around the world to tell them not to come anywhere near the World Cup. So far they have all promised me they are not coming. But sometimes with corruptors, you find they don’t always tell the truth. So we will be very proactive in keeping on top of them, keeping them away from the tournament.”

And that’s going to be enough to keep the corruptors away? “Who knows? I can’t actually prevent somebody getting on plane somewhere, but what I can do is keep communicating with the corruptors, tell them they are not invited to the World Cup, if they are seen here, at the ground, they will be thrown out. We have shared their details with the law enforcement and the police here in the UK – if our guys see them anywhere around the World Cup, they will be asked to leave.”

Marshall was confident the various safeguards put in place would make it really difficult for the corruptors to disrupt the World Cup. “When they look at the World Cup they see a very well organised, professional, well governed, well protected event. This is a very tough event for corruptors to come near.”



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Centurion to host Boxing Day Test, CSA announces 2019-20 fixtures

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Centurion will remain the host venue for South Africa’s Boxing Day Test against England later this year, with CSA confirming its fixture list for the 2019-20 season. As well as a full England tour featuring four Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is, South Africa will also host Australia for six limited-overs matches in February and March.

England will travel to Cape Town, the traditional venue for South Africa’s New Year Test, followed by matches in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg. Durban misses out on a Test but is the venue for an ODI and T20I; England will also travel to East London for the start of the T20I series.

The tour will begin in mid-December with one two-day and one three-day tour match in Benoni. After the Tests, England have two one-day warm-up games scheduled in Paarl.

Australia’s arrival in late February will see them go straight into T20Is at Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, with the three ODIs scheduled for Paarl, Bloemfontein and Potchefstroom – Australia’s first visit to Senwes Park since the 2003 World Cup.

“This will be a huge summer both for our Standard Bank Proteas, who are currently ranked in the top three in all three formats, and for our fans who can look forward to action-packed and top-quality entertainment against two of the powerhouses of world cricket,” CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe said.

“The Test matches will take on particular significance as this will be our first home series in the ICC World Test Championship following our away series in India in October. I am delighted also to announce that we will be working closely with SA Tourism around the Test host venues of Pretoria, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg to ensure that this series creates a win-win situation both for cricket and the South African economy.

“The two KFC T20 international series take on extra relevance as we start our preparation for the ICC Men’s World T20 to be played in Australia in October and November next year.”

South Africa 2019-20 fixtures

Dec 26-30 – 1st Test v England, SuperSport Park, Centurion
Jan 3-8 – 2nd Test v England, PPC Newlands, Cape Town
Jan 16-20 – 3rd Test v England, St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth
Jan 24-28 – 4th Test v England, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Feb 4 – 1st ODI v England, PPC Newlands, Cape Town
Feb 7 – 2nd ODI v England, Kingsmead, Durban
Feb 9 – 3rd ODI v England, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Feb 12 – 1st T20I v England, Buffalo Park, East London
Feb 14 – 2nd T20I v England, Kingsmead, Durban
Feb 16 – 3rd T20I v England, SuperSport Park, Centurion

Feb 21 – 1st T20I v Australia, Bidvest Wanderers, Johannesburg
Feb 23 – 2nd T20I v Australia, St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth
Feb 26 – 3rd T20I v Australia, PPC Newlands, Cape Town
Feb 29 – 1st ODI v Australia, Eurolux Park, Paarl
Mar 4 – 2nd ODI v Australia, Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein
Mar 7 – 3rd ODI v Australia, Senwes Park, Potchefstroom



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