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Neesham’s defiance a significant moment in his comeback story

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Jimmy Neesham likes to call it the “fastest 47” in ODI cricket, and he’s not wrong. After having being in the funk for two years, almost having given up on cricket and then setting himself right, Neesham came back to smack 47 off 13 balls against Sri Lanka on his return. That innings, he says, was 18 months in the making, a reward of all the hard work he had put in when he was away. Yet it was just a score of 47 in a career whose highest score was 74.

The chance to play this World Cup, he admits, was sooner than he expected when he set on path to recovery. He was more philosophical about success and failure. He had now learnt to deal with personal failures much better by looking at his efforts through the team of the prism. He was happier nicking off first ball if New Zealand won than scoring a hundred in a defeat. Deep down, though, there must have been some desire to prove himself in more trying circumstances than walking in at 316 for 5 and smashing the ball around.

It is not ideal but this World Cup has provided him these challenges. There was the tense chase against Bangladesh where he ended up holing out to long-off. They lost two wickets in the first over against West Indies where he did better and added 41 for the fifth wicket Kane Williamson for the fifth wicket and himself ended up with 28 off 23 balls.

WATCH on Hotstar (India only) – Jimmy Neesham’s unbeaten 97

At Edgbaston against Pakistan, though, Neesham found himself with a much bigger task. He walked in to join Williamson at 46 for 4, and would soon lose Williamson too. In difficult batting conditions, he battled through, especially when facing the red-hot Shaheen Shah Afridi, and ended up unbeaten on a career-best 97 to give New Zealand a competitive score of 237. This was the longest innings of Neesham’s 55-match career. It must give New Zealand some confidence as they continue to struggle with their openers.

On a personal level, that has to feel satisfying. “I’m pretty tired now,” was Neesham’s immediate reaction after having bowled three overs to go with it. “That’s sort of my emotions at the moment, I think. Yeah, obviously, I suppose there’s external noise about whether you have the ability to guide an innings like that, and I sort of have the belief in my own ability that I have the ability to come out at 40 for 4 and guide our team to 200-plus and also the ability to come out at 310 for 3 with two overs to go. So it’s just about putting it out there, I suppose, and having belief in your own processes.

READ MORE: Second spinner might have helped New Zealand, admits Santner

“Obviously, we had a large period of time where we had to soak up pressure. That was the nature of the wicket and the nature of the bowling attack. We certainly had a belief, if we could get through that hard period, we’d be able to score some runs at the back end, and obviously that’s what ended up happening.”

Neesham did soak up all the pressure, getting beaten multiple teams by Afridi, but then turning it on towards the end. He scored 26 off the first 58 balls he faced followed by 71 off the next 64. This was a near perfect rearguard in conditions ideal for both seam and spin, for which he was congratulated by Pakistan fielders even as he walked off in the innings break. He, in turn, sought out Afridi to congratulate for the spell he had bowled.

However, Neesham was not willing to draw too much pleasure out of the knock. “It [this innings] is something I’ll probably reflect on after the tournament is finished,” Neesham said. “I think, obviously, the whole point of trying to graft out our partnership like that is to try to get ourselves in a position to win the game. I feel like we potentially did that. We potentially had a score that was defendable. Obviously, in a game where you lose, you don’t take a whole lot of pleasure out of stuff like that.”



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Marcus Trescothick to join Ashes coaching set-up

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Marcus Trescothick is set to join the England coaching team for the first two Tests of the Ashes series.

Trescothick, the former England opening batsman, has recently announced his decision to retire as a player at the end of this season and is currently struggling to break into the Somerset side. He will spend the training days ahead of the Edgbaston and Lord’s Tests with the England squad at both training sessions and at the team hotel.

Jonathan Trott has fulfilled a similar role with England ahead of the Test against Ireland.

The appointment does not necessarily suggest that Trescothick – or Trott – is about to be appointed as the England team’s batting coach. The ECB have yet to identify a successor to Mark Ramprakash, who left his role a couple of months ago, but are using the likes of Trott and Trescothick to help ease the burden on Graham Thorpe – the ECB’s lead batting coach – on training days where coaches are expected to provide throw-downs for several hours at a time.

Thorpe is currently suffering from a sore shoulder and missed England training on Tuesday due to illness.

As a vastly experienced and successful player – the 2005 Ashes series was among his 76 Tests – Trescothick has the respect of all current players and understands the demands, both emotionally and technically, of playing at international level.

He will be on hand both in training sessions and at the team hotel, to support players as required. And, aged 43, the sessions may also help him to decide if he wants to pursue a career in coaching.



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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka Board President’s XI vs Bangladesh Tour Match 2019

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Bangladesh 285 for 5 (Mithun 91, Mushfiqur 50, Kumara 2-26) beat Sri Lanka Board President’s XI 282 for 8 (Shanaka 86, Shehan 56, Soumya 2-29, Rubel 2-31) by five wickets

Bangladesh got their tour of Sri Lanka off to a winning start with a five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka Board President’s XI in their one-off warm-up game at the P Sara Oval. The visitors added pace bowler Shafiul Islam to their squad for the three-match ODI series which begins on June 26. Shafiul is expected to join the team in Colombo on Wednesday.

Set a target of 283, fifties from Mohammad Mithun and Mushfiqur Rahim ensured the visitors remained in control through their chase.

Mithun’s 100-ball 91 in particular will please the Bangladesh coaching staff, after he was given a chance in the No. 3 position vacated by Shakib Al Hasan. Scoring 11 boundaries and a six, the 28-year-old right-hand batsman put on partnerships of 73 and 96 for the fourth and fifth wickets respectively, with the rest of the Bangladesh line-up batting around him.

Mithun’s calm approach also allowed Mushfiqur to take on a more attacking role on his way to a 46-ball 50, built on a threatening 37 from Tamim Iqbal at the top of the order. Mahmadullah (33) and Sabbir Rahman (31) kept the Bangladesh innings on track, as Sri Lanka’s bowlers – apart from Lahiru Kumara, who impressed with figures of 2 for 26 in six overs – struggled to gain any foothold in the game. Mithun fell with Bangladesh only 21 runs shy of the target, but some lusty hitting from Mosaddek Hossain and Sabbir made sure there were no late scares.

For the hosts, Dasun Shanaka was arguably the only Sri Lankan player to come out of the game with his reputation significantly enhanced. Having come in to bat at 127 for 5, his 63-ball 86, studded with six boundaries and as many sixes, put a significant dampener on what was an otherwise stellar bowling performance from Bangladesh. The hosts put on a respectable 282 for 8 in 50 overs.

Shanaka was aided by 21-year-old legspinning allrounder Wanindu Hasaranga, who bolstered his case for selection in the first ODI with a quickfire 28 that included three fours and a six to go with his bowling figures of 1 for 39.

Earlier, Shehan Jayasuriya’s 56 off 78 deliveries had helped the hosts recover from a top-order collapse during which Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka and Oshada Fernando fell by the eighth over of the game. Shehan put on 82 for the fourth wicket with Bhanuka Rajapakse and helped steer Board President’s XI past 100.

Of the Bangladesh bowlers, on a wicket that didn’t offer much assistance, fast bowlers Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed struck early after the hosts opted to bat. Alongside Rubel, medium-pacer Soumya Sarkar stood out, taking the two crucial middle-order wickets of Jayasuriya and Rajapakse.



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Darren Stevens to leave Kent but wants to play on

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Darren Stevens will leave Kent at the end of the current season after 15 years with the club but has no intention of retiring from the professional game.

Stevens, 43, joined Kent from Leicestershire in 2005 and has enjoyed an outstanding career with bat and ball, scoring 11,718 first-class runs and claiming 487 wickets for his second county.

He is currently on loan to Derbyshire for the T20 Blast, but had continued to be impressive with the ball in the County Championship with 28 wickets at 24.21 in eight matches although runs had been harder to come by with an average of 20.36.

“It’s been an amazing 15 years,” Stevens said. “So many wonderful memories both on and off the pitch and many strong friendships made along the way. This is not retirement for me as I think I still have a lot to offer on the pitch, both as a player and a coach and am excited by the next stage in my career.

“I believe I can still do it at the top level, as my recent form shows, and I am looking forward to the remainder of the T20 season with Derbyshire and finishing the season successfully with Kent. I will look back at my time with Kent with nothing but happiness and pride but must now look forward to the next challenge.”

Kent have an eye on the future and want to invest in their younger players while also hoping to bring in an overseas fast bowler next season.

“When you look at his record, it is a travesty that Darren Stevens did not receive the international call-up he so richly deserved whilst in his prime,” Paul Downton, Kent’s director of cricket, said. “It’s now time for a new chapter at Kent with a number of young bowlers, and hopefully an overseas fast bowler next year, all demanding the new ball as the club seeks to keep raising standards and compete for the Division One Championship title.”



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