New Zealand broadcaster Sky Sport has extended its deal with Cricket Australia to exclusively broadcast all Australian cricket for a further six years until the end of 2024-25.
Sky Sport has been CA’s broadcaster in New Zealand for over two decades and the deal comes ahead of a summer where the New Zealand side will play three Tests and three ODIs on Australian shores.
New Zealand are set to play their first Boxing Day Test in Australia at the MCG since the famous 1987 draw, before playing the traditional New Year’s Test in Sydney.
They will begin their Test tour with a day-night Test in Perth, which intriguingly due to the five-hour time difference, will not finish until the early hours of the morning in New Zealand. The three ODIs will be played in March 2020.
In addition to men’s international matches, Sky Sport will also broadcast women’s international matches, the Big Bash League and Women’s Big Bash League matches, some men’s domestic one-day matches, Prime Ministers XI matches, Governor-General’s XI matches and the Sheffield Shield final.
Director of Sky Sport Tex Teixeira said he was delighted to continue the long-term partnership with CA.
“We are excited to be extending our longstanding relationship with Cricket Australia,” Teixeira said.
“With this deal we now have six incredible Australian summers of cricket to look forward to, including the Boxing Day Test which was last played between our two great cricket nations in 1987.”
The moment Jofra Archer revealed his instinct for greatness
There was a revealing moment as Jofra Archer walked off the pitch having just completed the first five-wicket haul of his Test career.
Thrown the ball by team-mates who recognised the significance of the occasion – there will, no doubt be more five-wicket hauls, but there will never be another first – Archer did not, initially, at least, raise it to soak up the applause of the crowd. Instead, he continued to rub it on his trousers; still looking for the shine that might help him gain some swing.
It was a moment reminiscent, perhaps, of the way in which Jonathan Trott, at his best, would sometimes mark his guard even after he had guided his side to a victory in a match. For these are men so locked in their craft, so consumed by their profession, that it becomes instinctive to work on it even when the immediate targets have been hit.
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That craft was evident in Archer here. After showing the fire and brimstone side to his game at Lord’s, where he achieved a pace of 96mph and displayed that wonderfully unpleasant bouncer, here Archer reasoned that conditions called for different skills. So instead of looking to make the batsmen jump and parry, he sought to draw them onto the front foot and exploit conditions which saw the ball move sharply through much of the day.
That is a remarkably mature approach for a young man playing just his second Test. Many of this crowd would have longed to see him unleash the sort of deliveries that had Lord’s on the edge of their seats last week and many of them roared him in at the start of the day. So despite claiming one wicket – Marcus Harris caught behind of an almost perfect delivery that demanded a stroke and moved fractionally to kiss the edge – in his opening spell, there was a slight sense of anti-climax as it finished. This had been a demonstration of subtlety, skill and control. And when you’re dressed as Elvis, a banana, or a monk – and that accounts for a fair few in the Headingley crowd on Thursday – subtlety can get a bit lost.
But this was exactly the approach taken by the likes of Malcolm Marshall or Richard Hadlee in such conditions. And Archer’s ability to nip the ball both ways, using both seam and swing, while maintaining that full length that allowed the ball the chance to swing and demanded a stroke from the batsmen. After producing a hostile performance at Lord’s that would have made Mitchell Johnson proud, he produced a skilful performance here that would have done the same for James Anderson. To be capable of both approaches is immensely encouraging for England.
“I don’t need to run in and bowl 90mph every spell to get wickets,” Archer said afterwards. “I’ve shown that today. There will be times in Test matches you have to focus on hitting your length. There will be times to ramp it up as well but you don’t have to go into it every innings.
“This wasn’t a wicket where you had to run in and bowl 90mph. It was a bit softer on top; there was a bit of swing and nip. If you put it in the right areas you should get wickets.”
That’s not to say Archer did not display sharp pace here. By the time he was recalled to the attack for his second spell, Australia were 124-2 and England were in real danger. In these conditions, that was a fine score. The support bowlers had failed to maintain the control of the openers and, at one stage, 88 runs had been leaked from 14 overs. The thought remains that, had they all bowled tighter, Australia may have struggled to score many more than 100 in such conditions. England may yet struggle in reply.
As a result, Archer appeared to go up a gear. Having beaten David Warner with an 88mph delivery that nipped past his outside edge, the next ball – timed at a fraction under 90 mph – demanded a stroke and again took the edge on its way to the keeper. The word ‘unplayable’ is overused, but the best most batsmen could hope to do with such a delivery was miss it. The wicket precipitated a sharp decline which saw Australia lose eight wickets for 43. Coincidentally, 8 for 43 were the figures Bob Willis took here in that famous game in 1981. Archer’s haul of 6-45 was the best by an England bowler in the Ashes at Headingley since.
Later, Warner compared him to Dale Steyn – in terms of his skills and his ability to up his pace as required – and Jasprit Bumrah – in terms of the difficulty in picking up his lengths from his action. Look at the names mentioned in this article so far: Marshall; Hadlee; Steyn; Bumrah. These are some of the best there have ever been. England have something very special here.
“It was incredible Test bowling,” Warner said of Archer and Broad’s opening spells. “It was world-class bowling at its best. They bowled unbelievably well and a play and miss became a good shot.”
Is this praise premature? Well, we’ll see. But Archer really does appear to have the armoury – the control, the pace, the skills and the robust body – to suggest he can sustain the bright start to his career. Indeed, when his captain eventually realises that he is the man who should be running in down the hill, and he is the man who should bowl in shorter spells, it’s possible his figures could even improve. He bowled at the wrong end for much of this innings and conceded runs as a result of the unusually attacking fields.
The one cloud on his horizon is his workload. Already, he has delivered 61.1 overs in this series and this was just the third innings in which he has bowled. By contrast, Broad has delivered fewer than 50 overs in the same timeframe. Overall, England have delivered 194.1 overs since Archer came into the Test side, meaning he has bowled almost a third of them. That is not sustainable.
So while it is understandable that Joe Root turns to him in every situation – the Ashes are on the line here, after all – it has to change. While he’s shown he is far more than a tearaway with a magnificent bouncer, that top register of pace remains a significant weapon. Even in this innings, he produced the odd sharp bouncer which would have had batsmen just a little reluctant to prop onto the front foot. England need to help him retain that pace. Johnson, at his best, rarely bowled spells of longer than three or four overs.
It was that weariness that was most apparent straight after the game. Asked by the BBC how he felt about that first five-for, his instinctive response was to reply: “It means I get to rest now. I’m over the moon to have got six wickets today, but I’m equally happy just to get off.”
That sustains a familiar theme. Following the Lord’s Test, Archer tweeted a picture of an old man struggling to raise himself from a chair with a stick for help and wrote: “Me getting out of bed tomorrow morning.”
It was a joke, of course, but it was also a warning. Bowlers like Archer come along, for England at least, very rarely. He’s already helped England to a World Cup and he might just have got them back in an Ashes series. He needs looking after. He needs protecting. We’re only at the start of Archer’s international journey, but already he has shown an array of skills that whisper the potential of greatness.
Recent Match Report – Sussex vs Essex, Twenty20 Cup (England), South Group
Essex 168 for 5 (Lawrence 59*, Bopara 45) beat Sussex 159 for 9 (Wiese 66, Amir 4-29) by nine runs
Sussex supporters packed into the tight confines of Hove on another sell-out T20 night had relished news of the Ashes exploits of Jofra Archer, but for once they had to make do with vicarious pleasures as they watched their side’s hold at the top of South Group weakened by a nine-run defeat against Essex.
The South Group is now as congested as, well, most of the south, with Essex, who began the night in eighth place, still retaining hopes of a late rush into the top four. Only Glamorgan and Surrey can be discounted.
Essex’s 168 for 5 represented a challenging target for a side that bases its success around a powerful bowling attack, but David Wiese‘s 66 from 36 balls – with Laurie Evans his most productive sidekick – took them within 39 with 28 balls remaining when he was sixth out, sweeping at Simon Harmer.
Wiese, one of T20s most experienced campaigners, has entered his Tarantino villain phase with vigorous beard, long hair and determined chew. His free-flowing straight six off Aaron Beard, backed up by two boundaries from misfields, had just taken 17 off Beard’s last over, but he was unable to rescue the game.
Essex have the worst T20 record in the country in recent seasons (Sussex have the best), but they dug in well here, despite some shoddy fielding. All their bowlers played a part from Cameron Delport, who had bowled only three overs of medium-paced mix-ups all season but who slipped in two overs without much damage, and the diminutive Australian leggie Adam Zampa, complete with perfectly matching yellow headband, who had Will Beer caught at extra cover at the start of his last over with 23 needed off 18.
But it was Mohammad Amir, whose return of 4 for 29 stood out for Essex: another fine over, the 19th, included the dismissal of Chris Jordan, a flat-bat to Ravi Bopara at deep midwicket when the game was still there for the winning.
Sussex’s openers, Phil Salt and Luke Wright, were also picked off during Amir’s first two overs. Salt is a batting roulette wheel, capable of extravagant success and failure, and he toe-ended to mid-on. Wright could not control a pull at a ball he might have cut and spliced to mid-off.
Alex Carey has claims to be Australia’s best batsman-keeper, but can’t get in the side even though they are picking two of them: he fell to Beard as Bopara fell backwards at cover to take a catch that he claimed more confidently than he caught.
Poor old Harry Finch is having a season to forget. He has made a pair in his last two Championship matches, divided by a prolonged spell in the 2nd XI. His first T20 outing of the summer with Delray Rawlins absent with Bermuda brought another duck, first ball, as he was lbw trying to reverse-sweep Harmer.
Essex’s general lack of success is hard to understand, especially now that Delport adds a rough-hewn power to the top of their order. They were looking sacrificial at 84 for 4 in the 12th over, but a stand of 82 in eight overs between Dan Lawrence and Bopara ensured a score to be reckoned with.
Sussex are not just managing without Archer. Tymal Mills is expected to miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture and legspinner Rashid Khan has moved on, but their ambition has been seen in the short-term acquisition of the Australian Jason Behrendorff, who took five wickets against England in a World Cup group game in June, for their last four group matches.
Behrendorff did not take a wicket but made his mark instead with the run out of Adam Wheater and a straightforward catch at long-off when Tom Westley, after making 34 from 25 balls, tried to get after the legspin of Beer. Beer is not quite the regular he was but his record in 107 T20s is a strong one and he followed up an impressive return of 3 for 22 against Surrey with 2 for 19.
Lawrence and Bopara broke Sussex’s grip, however, with a stand of 82 in eight overs. Lawrence does not possess prodigious strength and his attempts at innovation did not always come off – especially against the wiles of Reece Topley – but his unbeaten 59 from 43 dominated Essex’s innings, helped for four sixes, more or less straight, against Wiese and Danny Briggs.
Even more energising was Bopara’s 45 from 24 balls. One six over the off side against Topley had him grinning with the umpire Alex Wharf about the audacity of a shot that he would have found wondrous enough at his peak. It took a magnificent tumbling catch at long-off by Jordan to silence him with two balls remaining.
‘I had a lot of luck,’ admits David Warner on return to form
David Warner would have been happy to get out nicking any one of the multiple deliveries Stuart Broad sent fizzing past his outside edge on a difficult day for batting at Headingley, but admitted Australia now had a significant challenge ahead of them to defend 179 in conditions and weather that are expected to improve in Leeds over the next two days.
Having entered the third Ashes Test without a double-figure score in four innings, Warner resolved to defend his off stump and also take opportunities to score whenever they arrived, finding a better balance between defence and attack than he had previously managed in the series.
During a stand of 110 in 23 overs with the highly impressive Marnus Labuschagne, Warner and Australia could see the potential for a first-innings total that would have set up the whole match, only to lose 8 for 43 to Jofra Archer’s brilliance and so leave the Test well and truly open to England.
“My theory has always been the same when I come to England,” Warner said. “The first two wickets didn’t have as much dampness in them or weren’t going to seam as much and for me it’s about taking out that lbw equation but then not trying to get out nicked off from a good length ball and knowing where your off stump is there. You want them to come into your pads when you bat outside off and you can get the cheeky one inside midwicket, that’s the thought process behind it.
“Travis Head’s dismissal is the perfect dismissal that you don’t want to do as a left-hander. I don’t want to have the bat come down at an angle and exposing my off stump, so for me it was about going across a little bit, getting my bat in front of my pad, and that’s outside the line there. That’s my thinking, it always has been. It’s been challenging but coming into it mentally I felt like I was in form. I’ve had three balls where I probably couldn’t have done anything with them.
“The first one [at Edgbaston] was just a lazy one I missed on my legs. But I’ve always felt like I’ve been in form and worked my backside off in the nets as well. Then today was about trying to negate that good ball and not get out to it. I had a lot of luck, I played and missed quite a lot but I kept my bat nice and tight. That’s what I wanted to do and I was happy to get out if a good ball was going to get me out. I was very pleased with the way I adjusted. I moved across a little bit more so my bat was covering that off stump, allowed me to leave a little bit more.”
A pre-match round of golf with Ricky Ponting, who had been an assistant coach with Australia during the World Cup and has now returned as a commentator, was also useful for sorting through the many thoughts in Warner’s mind. “Going out on the golf course with Ricky was great, always good to have my mate around and just let your hair down,” he said. “He was all about making sure I’m still backing my game plan, looking to get forward and looking to hit the ball, and I know when I’m looking to hit the ball my defence takes care of itself and I’m compact. That was fortunate enough today that it came off, but obviously you get another good ball there but can’t do anything about it.
“Our top order, we all got good balls. We always knew that partnership with me and Marnus, that’s how cricket goes, you’re going to lose one straight away, if not the next five overs, but if you get through that, as a new batter, it can get a lot easier. Early back in their second spells there, it’s challenging. That’s the beauty of this game. It’s hard to start, especially when you have two world-class bowlers coming on who are hitting their line and length impeccably.
“You are always nice and sharp when you have a lot of movement out there, you have to commit to the front foot or the back foot, you can’t get caught on the crease. I look back on the [World Cup] game against Pakistan and I got some runs there, it was green, and the ball was swinging and nipping around, and same thing, I just held my line and I pounced on anything that was wide or short. Today, you weren’t going to get that from Broady or Jofra. They bowled unbelievable. It’s always challenging, but as a batsman you have to stay in a positive mindset. A play and miss is a good shot.”
Having watched Labuschagne up close and been on the receiving end of his ever-active cricket brain, providing plenty of advice about how to survive in the middle, Warner had little hesitation dubbing him a long-term Test batsman for the future – albeit with a caveat over his batting position. “Definitely, [but] not at four, Steve Smith’s there,” Warner said. “He’s just taken the bull by its horns, he’s got that opportunity and he’s working his backside off to reinstate himself into the Test arena and he is doing himself every favour by hanging in and batting the way he is, so obviously it wasn’t ideal that Steve couldn’t play but [Labuschagne] got another opportunity to come out and play. He’s a fantastic player and he has got a lot to offer and we have seen it first hand there.
“I though he was outstanding today, his discipline was outstanding, him coming over here and playing that stint of county cricket, scoring some runs and knowing where his off stump is … We talked our way through our innings out there, we rebounded a lot of positive comments and he kept telling me about being disciplined and making sure I’m holding my shape which was great getting reassurance from a youngster.”
The partnership between Warner and Labuschagne stood out boldly amid the rush of wickets either side of it, underlining that there will be opportunities for Australia to take wickets provided they maintain their discipline.
“For us it was about pushing the field,” Warner said, “we always spoke about running between wickets and we pushed the field as much as we could. That can break up some tension when they’re bowling well, just little things we were ticking over in our minds, we were running hard, we were leaving well, but make sure we are being ultra positive and that’s probably why we got that period.
“We’ve got to come out tomorrow and hit the right lines and lengths, I think the weather is quite hot, it could dry the wicket out a lot. It’s a fast-scoring outfield so we have to hit the right line and length and try to shut the scoreboard down. It’s about discipline, they had the right phase today, they had the conditions in their favour but they put the ball in the right spot all the time so that’s the challenge.”
Throughout his post-play press conference, Warner was being harangued by the chants of England fans who could see him speaking from outside the ground – typifying the abuse he has faced throughout the tour. “They are allowed to do want they want,” he said. “They pay to come in and watch cricket and are allowed to carry on if they want.
“If they carry on too much they get evicted. For us we just worry about what we have to do. It’s hard enough trying to hit a swinging and seaming ball than worry about what the crowd are doing. They just come here to have fun, enjoy a good game of cricket and try and add some extra pressure on us. Some of us thrive on it like me, some of us don’t even listen to it.”
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