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

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Lancashire 189 for 3 (Croft 65* Maxwell 58) beat Durham 117 (Steel 58) by 72 runs

It turns out that Glenn Maxwell, as far away from a synthetic cricketer as it is possible to get, just needed an artificial pitch to put his English summer to rights.

Well, not an artificial pitch exactly, a hybrid pitch, used for the first time in English county cricket by Lancashire at Old Trafford (unless somebody else is keeping a secret) as they made light work of Durham by 73 runs.

At least 10 counties have installed hybrid strips, with The Kia Oval housing as many as six on their square. Although the majority are used chiefly as practice nets, confidence in them is growing and several others could potentially stage a match during the Blast.

Although the ECB plan to study the pitches on a variety of measures – how much they seam or swing; how fast or bouncy – the initial verdict is a positive one. The pitch appeared to have good pace and carry and Lancashire, in making 189 for 3, struck nine sixes, only two short of their T20 record.

Maxwell, who had an undistinguished World Cup for Australia, averaging only 22 with the bat without a half-century to his name and not taking a wicket in 49 overs, must have been sick of the sight of English grass by the time the hosts picked up the trophy at Lord’s a week ago.

But give him up to five percent polyethylene yarn sewn into the Old Trafford pitch and he strutted his stuff again, blazing 58 from 33 balls with four sixes before he top-edged a sweep against the left-arm spin of his fellow Australian, D’Arcy Short, to deep square.

Hybrid pitches are not destined to play a part in Championship cricket – at least not Championship cricket as we know it – because they don’t wear naturally in the time-accustomed manner so robbing the longer format of much of its charm.

But that hardiness – up to five times more wear – could be a saviour for tired English squares, especially on Test grounds with demands growing ever greater and The Hundred scheduled to begin next summer.

Maxwell’s second-wicket stand of 93 in 52 balls with Steven Croft was the centrepiece of Lancashire’s victory in front of a crowd of 13,710 – a Lancashire record for a non-Roses T20 tie at Old Trafford.

Croft had a successful afternoon, too, batting through for 63 from 45 balls – the sixth Lancashire batsman to achieve it in T20 – opening for Lancashire for the first time since Leicester at Liverpool early in 2009 because of injury to Liam Livingstone and making light of the fact he received only 36 percent of the strike. His contract is up at the end of the season, but, at 34, he is having a good one.

His verdict on the hybrid pitch was a positive one. “It was good,” he said. “We have netted on them last year and this year. It played well and the pace felt really nice. We have a brilliant slow-bowling department and they got a bit out of it as well. So it’s thumbs up from us.”

Three of Maxwell’s four sixes actually came off full tosses, leaving a possibility that an ECB analyst might have to stride onto the square and request that for the benefits of research could they please make more of an effort to locate the cut bit.

Two successive full bungers from Ben Raine took Maxwell past 50, the first six mishit and barely making it, the second leaving nothing in doubt. The one that bounced, from Short, finished on the pavilion TV gantry.

The best shot of all, though, came from Alex Davies, who hauled Brydon Carse over midwicket into Brain Statham Way. Carse is a physically more imposing figure than he was a couple of years ago, and bowls a quick ball, but his figures filled out, too, and his four overs went for 51.

Durham did not even manage nodding acquaintance with the target. They were dismissed for 117 inside 17 overs and that included opener Scott Steel‘s spirited 58.

James Faulkner’s third ball removed Short’s off stump and Maxwell ran out Ben Raine out with a direct from mid-on at the non-striker’s end as Durham ended the Powerplay feebly at 30 for 2.

One wicket was particularly poignant. Matthew Parkinson’s mother, Maria, had died suddenly last week and when Lancashire’s legspinner had Durham’s captain Stuart Poynter caught at short fine-leg he pointed to the sky in celebration before receiving hugs from all his team-mates. He is a fine prospect and given any sort of fair wind he will do her proud.



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Ravi Bopara named in MCC squad for Pakistan tour

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Former England allrounder Ravi Bopara has been named as part of a 12-man MCC squad to tour Pakistan in February. The team will be captained by Sri Lanka great, and current MCC president, Kumar Sangakkara, and coached by former England quick Ajmal Shahzad.

Also included in the touring party are Scotland’s Safyaan Sharif and Michael Leask, Netherlands duo Roelof van der Merwe and Fred Klaassen, along with county players from Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Kent and Worcestershire. England internationals Samit Patel and Liam Dawson, as well as Sussex’s Phil Salt, will each feature in one match, as part of a link up with the Pakistan Super League.

MCC are set to play games against two PSL teams, Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans, as well as Pakistan’s domestic T20 champions, Northerns. The tour is aimed at encouraging support for international teams returning to play in Pakistan, more than a decade after the 2009 terrorist attacks.

The MCC’s chief executive, Guy Lavender, will take on the role of team manager, supported by MCC assistant secretary (cricket) and former England, Essex and Hampshire allrounder John Stephenson.

“We are thrilled to be able to name a strong squad for this tour, which blends youth and experience for a strong side of high quality,” Stephenson said. “We have really appreciated the collaborative approach from the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan Super League, which has enabled us to arrange fixtures against sides preparing for this year’s PSL tournament as well as to secure the services of some of those participating.

“As a club, we share the PCB’s wish in wanting to see international teams returning to play in Pakistan on a regular basis and we hope that this tour contributes to those objectives.”

MCC squad:Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Ravi Bopara, Michael Burgess, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Fred Klaassen, Michael Leask, Arron Lilley, Imran Qayyum, Will Rhodes, Safyaan Sharif, Roelof van der Merwe, Ross Whiteley



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Kevin Kasuza stretchered off after copping another blow on the helmet

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Zimbabwe opener Kevin Kasuza was taken off the field on a stretcher after being struck flush on the helmet for the second time in two Tests.

Kasuza sustained the blow on the third morning of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Harare when Kusal Mendis nailed a powerful back-foot pull, which hit the side of the helmet of forward short-leg fielder Kasuza, who immediately hit the ground even as the ball ricocheted to square leg, where Carl Mumba took the catch to send back Mendis for 22 off 73 balls.

Kasuza was in visible pain and was consequently stretchered off the field by the Zimbabwe medical staff. According to the broadcasters, Kasuza was then sent to hospital for scans.

Incidentally, it was a repeat of what happened in the first Test. Then, too, it was Mendis, who had struck Kasuza on the helmet when he was fielding at the same position on the third day of the match. In that game, Kasuza had not immediately felt the effects of the blow, but suffered a delayed concussion and was eventually substituted out of the match, which was his international debut. As a result, Zimbabwe named a like-for-like replacement in opener Brian Mudzinganyama.

While Kasuza has endured a tough time on the field in his first two Tests, he has shown promise with the bat, following up his 63 in the first Test with an equally solid 38 in the second. Kasuza helped see off the new ball in the second Test and set the base for Zimbabwe’s first-innings total of 406.



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Sornnarin Tippoch to lead Thailand at their first World Cup

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Sornnarin Tippoch will lead Thailand’s first-ever team at a global tournament, after being named captain of the 15-member squad for the women’s T20 World Cup, which starts on February 21 in Australia.

While the core of the squad is largely the same as the one that won the qualification event in Scotland last year, Thipatcha Putthawong and Suwanan Khiaoto, who were part of the 14-member squad for the recent T20 quadrangular series in Patna, India, have been brought in. Khiaoto has yet to make her international debut.

Arriya Yenyuak, the right-arm seamer who was left out of the quadrangular squad, didn’t find a place in the squad either, but Phannita Maya has come back after missing the quadrandular.

Under 33-year-old Tippoch, who has led Thailand in all of their 35 T20Is so far, the team produced a record-breaking 17 consecutive wins in the format last year. In 2018, she led the side that notched up a historic four-wicket win over Full Member nation Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup, in Kuala Lumpur.

Other experienced names in Thailand’s T20 World Cup squad include Naruemol Chaiwai, Nattaya Boochatham, Suleeporn Laomi, and the 2019 ICC Women’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year Chanida Sutthiruang, who have all played every single one of Thailand’s T20Is down the years.

Sutthiruang, the 26-year-old right-arm seamer, took 12 wickets at the T20 World Cup qualifier, while Boochatham was the leading wicket-taker in T20Is last year, and Chaiwai was the leading run-scorer in T20Is last year. Wristspinner Laomi, meanwhile, was a key performer in their qualifier campaign, her guile often outsmarting batters.

Thailand’s preparation in the lead-up to the world event hasn’t been ideal as they finished last in the quadrangular series, which also featured Bangladesh and the India A and B sides. They have ODI-playing nations as contenders in Group B, such as England, Pakistan, South Africa, and West Indies, and will play their tournament-opener against West Indies in Perth on February 22.



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