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WBBL puts cricket in primetime from October

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Australian cricket’s prime time broadcast footprint is to be vastly expanded as the WBBL launches its first standalone tournament from October 18 to December 8.

Twenty-three of the 59 games will be shown on free-to-air network Seven and the subscription broadcaster Fox Sports, with the vast majority programmed for Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays in effort to focus the competition around times when most viewers can watch outside the school holidays.

In the fourth season of the competition, Cricket Australia is unashamedly using the WBBL as a vehicle to expand cricket’s footprint on the season – never before have so many matches been aired in prime time so early in the season. Historically, it is not until the first international matches of the season in November that cricket has had a regular place at the broadcast table.

“It’s something we’ve been building towards and last year’s final series has proved that the WBBL is ready to stand on its own two feet,” CA’s executive general manager fan engagement Anthony Everard said. “The volume of televised content nearly doubled last season with the 23 broadcast matches averaging 213,000 on Seven and Fox Cricket.

“To build on this, fans will have a more consistent broadcast offering this season with seven consecutive festival weekends around the country broadcast live, with all remaining matches streamed on cricket.com.au. Festival weekends will also give families the best chance to come and experience the game all around the country.”

The tournament is built around a series “festival weekends” at North Sydney Oval, Brisbane’s Allan Border Field, the WACA Ground in Perth, Adelaide’s Karen Rolton Oval, Bellerive Oval in Hobart and Junction Oval in Melbourne. The tournament semis and final will be hosted by the top ranked team after the 14 qualifying rounds in early December.

Broadcast audiences for the WBBL last season maintained a trend of growing interest in women’s sport, intertwined with CA’s long-term thinking about growing the game as a sport for all. This edition of the WBBL will also serve as a taster for the kind of cricket likely to be seen in February and March, when Australia hosts the women’s T20 World Cup.

“This is monumental for the women’s game,” Everard said. “The players showed that last year with more totals of over 150 than the first previous three seasons of the rebel WBBL combined, all culminating into an incredible standalone finals festival weekend.

“Moving the entire tournament to its own standalone period is the first step towards achieving that ultimate goal of being the best women’s league in the world, giving the world’s best female cricketers from across the globe the platform to show fans what they are capable of.”

WBBL festival weekends

Sydney | North Sydney Oval – October 18-20
Brisbane | AB Field – October 26-27
Perth | WACA – November 1-3
Adelaide | Karen Rolton Oval – November 9-10
Sydney | Drummoyne Oval – November 15-17
Hobart | Blundstone Arena – November 22-24
Melbourne | CitiPower Centre at Junction Oval – November 30 – December 1



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Recent Match Report – Yorkshire Diamonds vs Southern Vipers, Women’s Cricket Super League, 26th Match

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Yorkshire Diamonds 185 for 6 (Rodrigues 112*) beat Southern Vipers 184 for 4 (Bates 47, Wyatt 42, Davidson-Richards 3-21) by four wickets

Jemimah Rodrigues‘ magnificent unbeaten 112 from 58 balls guided Yorkshire to victory, secured off the final ball by Linsey Smith.

But the Diamonds knew only a bonus-point victory would keep their chances alive. To secure that, they needed to chase 185 inside 16 overs.

Despite Rodrigues’ efforts, Suzie Bates‘ 47 and a rapid 42 from Danni Wyatt helped Vipers to a total that was only chased down on the final ball.

Vipers will face Loughborough Lightning in the semi-final for the chance to take on Western Storm.

Yorkshire lost their openers inside the Powerplay at the start of their chase – both to Tash Farrant – as Lauren Winfield departed for a second-ball duck and Alyssa Healy was caught for 22.

India star Rodrigues was aggressive from the outset, hitting eight boundaries in her first 20 balls to reach 42. Her half-century came from 26 deliveries and her partnership with Hollie Armitage stretched to 90 from 54 balls to take Yorkshire to 118 for two in the 13th over.

But the Diamonds quickly fell to 121 for five. Amanda-Jade Wellington trapped Armitage for 23 and also dismissed Bess Heath two balls later for a duck, before Fi Morris had Alice Davidson-Richards caught behind.

Rodrigues was undeterred, striking cleanly to all parts of the ground. She guided Yorkshire to within striking distance, needing 17 from 12 balls. Her century came from 51 balls and included 16 fours and one six.

There were 10 runs needed from the final over, with Smith’s single off the final ball clinching victory.

Earlier, Wyatt continued her sensational form by blasting 42 from just 20 balls inside the powerplay – taking her to 267 runs in her last four innings. She launched her second ball for six, taking seven fours and another six before skying one to Davidson-Richards as Leigh Kasparek made the breakthrough.

Opening partner Bates allowed Wyatt to provide the acceleration, pacing her innings perfectly. She steadily began to build momentum, on several occasions placing the ball perfectly down the ground.

Beaumont’s innings was full of ingenuity, punctuated by a string of sweeps and scoops. It was her wicket, dismissed by Davidson-Richards for a 29-ball 33, which ended the partnership at 76 from 51 balls in the 15th over.

Davidson-Richards struck again three balls later as Bates fell for 47 from 39 balls and Yorkshire began to claw back control at 127 for three.

Thea Brookes came and went for a run-a-ball seven – a third for Davidson-Richards – but a superb partnership of 43 from 20 balls between Maia Bouchier and Wellington guided the Vipers to 184 for four.

Vipers’ final group game is at home to Loughborough on Wednesday, with Yorkshire away at Western Storm.



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Managing bowlers’ workload ‘most important’ in Test championship – Kohli

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Managing the workload of their fast bowlers is going to be key for India to win the World Test Championship, India’s captain Virat Kohli believes. After the win in Antigua Test, which made him India’s most successful captain in overseas Tests, Kohli spoke of the importance of having his bowlers making maximum impact in Test matches.

One of those was Jasprit Bumrah, who sat out the limited-overs legs of the ongoing tour and came back to blow West Indies away in the second innings with a spell that read 8-4-7-5. He was not at his best in the first innings, which he put down to a slightly stiff back coming back into action after a long break, but in the second innings he was lethal, relying on the outswinger, which is not his stock delivery.

“That’s probably the most important thing for us right now, managing player workloads,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation. “That’s why he (Bumrah) didn’t play any white-ball cricket after the World Cup because we wanted him to be fresh for the Tests. He is going to be a key factor for us as long as the Test championship continues. We know how good a bowler he is. And the impact he can make in a spell.”

Kohli said India had the required personnel in the pace department to be able to dominate but spoke of the need to monitor the workloads closely. “[Mohammed] Shami is the same [as Bumrah],” Kohli continued. “Ishant [Sharma] is a banker for years now. And he can make an impact in any spell he bowls. Those three together are bowling really well. Umesh [Yadav] hasn’t had a game, and we have Navdeep Saini, who can bowl 150 clicks, waiting in the wings. We are pretty settled as far as our bowling options are concerned. Managing workloads and the number of overs we bowl is going to be a key factor for us.”

Other than workloads, the team’s selection of the XIs has come under scrutiny in the past. In this Test, too, they had to make two difficult decisions. They ended up leaving out R Ashwin and Rohit Sharma. Ashwin’s exclusion left the experts, including Sunil Gavaskar, surprised. Kohli said the selections were being made in the team’s best interests. While he went on to offer a reason for Hanuma Vihari’s inclusion ahead of Rohit, he avoided speaking about leaving out Ashwin.

“The combination is absolutely based on players who can provide more than one skill,” Kohli said. “That’s why Vihari got the nod for this particular game because he can bowl you those eight-ten overs when you are falling behind the over rate. As a part-timer he is pretty effective as well.

“Look, for us it is about managing the best combination we can as a side, and feeling settled about it. We all have a discussion on that particular thing, and we go ahead with what is the best thing for the team. There will always be opinions on a team selected, but we all understand that whatever decisions are taken are in the best interest of the team.”

To live with selection calls is definitely one of the challenges of captaincy, but it is a job that has brought Kohli a lot of satisfaction over the years. Going past Sourav Ganguly as the most successful India captain in away Tests is just one of them.

“It is a responsibility that I am fulfilling,” Kohli said of captaincy. “It is a blessing that I am in a position where I can contribute to the team in more than one way. I like taking that responsibility but nothing is possible without the team. If these guys hadn’t bowled or batted the way they have, we wouldn’t have won the Tests we have. The credit can’t be taken away from them at all because I am just making decisions on the field. Execution is in their hand. Always been a team game for us.”



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Recent Match Report – Worcestershire vs Lancashire, Twenty20 Cup (England), North Group

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Lancashire 218 for 5 (Croft 94) beat Worcestershire 193 for 7 (Whiteley 89*, Maxwell 3-23) by 25 runs

Lancashire Lightning secured a top two spot – and a home quarter-final – in the Vitality Blast North Group with a 25-run victory over holders Worcestershire Rapids at Blackfinch New Road.

Steven Croft hit a career equalling 94 as the Lightning totalled a formidable 218 for 5 after being put into bat. Saqib Mahmood then pressed home Lancashire’s advantage by removed Rapids openers Hamish Rutherford – the overseas replacement for Martin Guptill – and Riki Wessels in his first two overs.

The game was effectively ended when Rapids captain Moeen Ali became the first of two wickets to fall in spinner Glenn Maxwell’s first over and the Australian ended with the excellent figures of 3 for 23 from four overs.

Some typical hitting by Ross Whiteley – including his 100th T20 six for Worcestershire – kept the capacity 4500 crowd entertained. The Rapids are still very much in contention to reach the knockout stages but now face a crucial game against Notts Outlaws at Blackfinch New Road on Wednesday.

The Rapids opted to field first and struck an immediate blow with Alex Davies top-edging the first delivery of the game from Dillon Pennington to keeper Ben Cox.

Wayne Parnell shared the new ball and Steven Croft helped his first delivery over the fine leg boundary for six. Liam Livingstone collected four boundaries in Parnell’s second over and the Lightning half-century came up in 4.1 overs.

Croft raced to his half century off just 24 balls with four sixes and four fours. Livingstone helped him add 83 in eight overs before he lofted Ed Barnard straight to Whiteley at deep midwicket.

Maxwell flicked Pat Brown over the fine leg boundary for six but tried to repeat the shot from the next ball and was pouched by Pat Brown. Captain Dane Vilas made a quickfire 23 before he cut hard at Barnard and picked out Rutherford at third man.

Daryl Mitchell bowled a tight mid innings spell and his four overs cost only 26 runs. But Croft continued to blaze away and hoisted Brown for two sixes in an over costing 22 runs. He moved onto 94 before attempting a slog-sweep in the final over from Moeen Ali and was stumped.

Croft faced 55 balls and struck six sixes and six fours and his fifth wicket partnership with James Faulkner was worth 60 in five overs.

When the Rapids launched their reply they were immediately on the back foot as Rutherford lobbed a Mahmood delivery to mid-on and Wessels perished at deep midwicket. Tom Fell was taken at long on – a fine low catch by Croft – off legspinner Matt Parkinson and then Maxwell’s introduction to the attack paid double dividends.

Moeen was bowled by his first delivery and then Parnell perished at long-on. The Rapids lost half their side for 59 and required 151 from the final 10 overs.

Whiteley reached a 20 ball half-century, which included 26 from an over by Richard Gleeson. It included two sixes and seven fours.

An entertaining stand of 86 in eight overs with Cox ended when the keeper provided Maxwell with a third scalp with Davies this time holding onto the chance at deep midwicket. Whiteley ended unbeaten on 89 from 40 balls as the Rapids closed on 193 for 7.



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