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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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Lancashire quick Richard Gleeson signs with Melbourne Renegades

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Melbourne Renegades have made a left-field move on the eve of the Big Bash League season signing Lancashire quick Richard Gleeson to replace Usman Shinwari who was withdrawn due to international duty.

Shinwari was called up for his Test debut against Sri Lanka and is now unavailable for the BBL while fellow Pakistan allrounder Faheem Ashraf has also been withdrawn from the tournament to remain in Pakistan.

Gleeson, 32, has impressed over the last four seasons of the T20 Blast in England. He started his career with Northamptonshire before moving to Lancashire. He has experience overseas having played in the Bangladesh Premier League for the Rangpur Riders in 2016. He also toured West Indies with the England Lions in 2018.

Gleeson will now play the first eight games of the BBL as one of the Renegades overseas players before Mohammad Nabi arrives for the second half of the tournament.

“Richard bowls with genuine pace and is capable of hitting the areas that make it difficult for batsmen to score on a regular basis. His skills in the power play and at the death have resulted in him being one of the best T20 bowlers in the UK T20 Blast in recent years,” Renegades Head coach Michael Klinger said.

“It’s obviously unfortunate to lose Shinwari and Ashraf on the eve of the season but sometimes that’s the nature of T20 cricket in a busy international schedule. We know things can change quickly with international players and we need to be ready to respond.

Harry Gurney, who was a key part of the Renegades title last season, is now available for the entire season which means the Renegades do not need a fourth overseas player.

“We’re delighted to have Harry Gurney for the whole tournament given his performances in the Big Bash last season and Nabi will also be a welcome addition when he arrives in January,” Klinger said.



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‘Absolutely believe’ India will play day-night Test in Australia next year – Kevin Roberts

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Kevin Roberts, the Cricket Australia chief executive, is hopeful that India’s strong position in the World Test Championship will help persuade them to play at least one pink-ball Test on their tour next year. Cricket Australia has made no secret of their desire to keep pushing the expansion of the day-night format, with a suggestion that they would attempt to make two out of the four India Tests as floodlit contests.

India did not play under lights on their previous tour but have recently staged their first day-night Test, against Bangladesh in Kolkata, which was pushed through by Sourav Ganguly after he became the BCCI president

India comfortably lead the WTC with seven wins from seven Tests and are primed to secure their spot in the 2021 final at Lord’s.

“I absolutely believe we should be playing one pink-ball Test in the Indian series next year,” Roberts said in Perth ahead of the day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand. “India to their credit are doing very well in this World Test Championship, and it’s highly likely that they will make the final in 2021. I suspect that will make it easier to schedule a day-night Test next season if India have relative certainty of making the WTC final, then there is less reason not to play a day-night Test and more reason to play one.

“Also with Sourav Ganguly coming into the presidency of the BCCI, he’s been very proactive in scheduling the first day-night Test in India, and we saw that was a sellout in three days, which is very different to what the previous day series have looked at in terms of ticket sales. There is an openness from India and an understanding that it is good for cricket.”

Which of Australia’s main venues miss out hosting India remains another big question. Melbourne, despite the ongoing issues around the pitch, remains highly unlikely to lose Boxing Day and the SCG is the traditional New Year venue, which leaves Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to fight it out for two matches. The one that misses out will likely host Afghanistan, although Tasmania has also put its hat in the ring for a Test in Hobart.

ALSO READ: Two pink-ball Tests in a series ‘a bit too much’ – Ganguly

The Australian team has made it clear that it wants to play the first Test of major series at the Gabba, where they haven’t lost since 1988. The 2018-19 series against India began in Adelaide.

“It’s a challenging process,” Roberts said. “I think the great thing is there is genuine interest in all capital cities across Australia hosting Test cricket. The challenging thing we’ve got to work through is when there’s not as many Test matches as there are capital cities. We will work through that.

“There will be different criteria. There is an art and a science to it. We look at historical attendances, we look at the playing side of things, it’s really important thing, especially for the first Test where the players have a very strong preference for the first Test of any major series to be played at the Gabba.”

Roberts also did not foresee a roadblock for getting India to Gabba: “I don’t see India being opposed to that, there is a lot to work through. But I don’t see India being opposed to any venue.”

A more immediate issue is the state of the MCG pitches following the abandonment of the Sheffield Shield match last week. Roberts admitted that Cricket Australia had been among the voices pushing for more life to be brought back into the surface and sympthised with the position of head groundsman Matt Page. The first Sheffield Shield match of the season at the ground earned a “very good” rating while the second, which was impacted by cold and wet weather, was given a “good” grading.

“It was unfortunate that a little too much moisture was put into the wicket for the last Shield game,” Roberts said. “In fairness to Matt and his groundstaff, they were urged to make the pitch more sporting by a number of parties, be it players, Cricket Victoria, ourselves, and credit to them for having the courage to test that. Fortunately, no players were injured in the process and ironically I think it places the MCC better to prepare the best possible deck for Boxing Day with the learnings from these last three Shield games.”

While the staging agreement between CA and the MCC only goes as far as guaranteeing a Test at the MCG – rather than Boxing Day specifically – Roberts suggested its future for the iconic fixture was safe. “There are commitments to have a Test at the MCG and the SCG, that’s the depth of it,” he said. “What we do know is that there is a rich history around Boxing Day, we love that and respect that and we would really like to see Boxing Day Test continue at the MCG.”



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Recent Match Report – Australia vs New Zealand, ICC World Test Championship, 1st Test

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Toss Australia chose to bat against New Zealand

Australia captain Tim Paine won the toss and chose to bat first against New Zealand in the day-night first Test at Perth Stadium.

Kane Williamson’s visitors were unable to choose Trent Boult as he continued his recovery from a side strain suffered against England, meaning a debut for the speedy Lockie Ferguson.

Australia’s side was unchanged for the third match in a row, leaving David Warner to open the batting with Joe Burns. They have not lost a series at home to New Zealand since 1985.

Temperatures for Perth are currently nearing 39C, though they will ease and cool as the day turns into night.

Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Joe Burns, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Matthew Wade, 7 Tim Paine (capt, wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood

New Zealand: 1 Tom Latham, 2 Jeet Raval, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 BJ Watling (wk), 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Trent Boult/Lockie Ferguson, 11 Neil Wagner



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