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ECB to extend All Stars kids scheme to build on World Cup success

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The ECB have extended their All Stars kids cricket programme to accommodate for the enthusiasm generated by England’s successful World Cup campaign.

The scheme, aimed to provided children aged between 5 and 8 with their first organised experience of the sport, usually ends as the school holidays begin. But the ECB, eager to capitalise on renewed interest in the sport, have arranged for a further 10,000 All Stars places to be available around the country.

This year, 66,000 children attended All Stars sessions; up from 59,000 last year. The aim is that, when each eight-week course ends, the clubs which ran the courses will offer the children involved further playing opportunities in the summer holidays. The ECB have also rolled out an extension of the scheme which caters for 8 to 12-year-olds utilising smaller pitch lengths and smaller team sizes.

The ECB are also aiming to launch a school’s strategy later this year the broad aim of which will be to double the participation numbers of children playing cricket in primary schools.

“It’s crucial that we use the platform created by the World Cup to introduce more young people to the sport and hopefully spark a lifelong passion for the game,” An ECB spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo. “All Stars Cricket has been very successful in that over the last three years and hopefully the ‘Have a Go’ sessions will get an additional 10,000 kids down to their local club. We now need to make our game as accessible as possible which is why a major part of our strategic plan is to double participation in primary schools by 2024.”

Cricket World Cup organisers claim the tournament is the third “most-watched global sporting event” – in terms of broadcast figures – after the football World Cup and the Olympics, with more than four million ticket applications made and 888,000 tickets sold. 100,000 of those were under 16. Around 43 percent of ticket buyers described themselves as England supporters, while 32 percent said they supported India, 10 percent Pakistan and six percent Bangladesh. Around 80 percent of ticket buyers lived in the UK.

For details of which clubs are offering the sessions and when visit: allstarscricket.co.uk



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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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India turn the tables on Kieron Pollard’s men, West Indies style | Cricket

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Rohit Sharma goes down the ground © BCCI


India haven’t gone hard at the opposition while batting first in T20Is of late, but they hung up caution and unleashed a no-holds-barred assault on West Indies in the series decider in Mumbai on Wednesday. More than three years after West Indies had overpowered India in the T20 World Cup semi-final at this very venue, India swapped their safety-first approach for all-out attack. And they attacked relentlessly to floor Kieron Pollard’s men.

On the eve of T20I series decider, Rohit Sharma, India’s limited-overs vice-captain, reckoned that the hosts might not have to do a West Indies to beat West Indies. However, on a flat Wankhede pitch and a quick outfield, India’s batsmen pulled out one big hit after another, West Indies-style, to rack up 240 for 3 in their 20 overs – their third-highest total in the shortest format.

ALSO READ: Stats – Kohli’s fastest fifty, and Wankhede’s highest T20I total

In a similar scenario – a series decider – against South Africa in Bengaluru in October, Virat Kohli had challenged India to bat first and break out of their comfort zones. After India managed just 134 for 9 and watched South Africa mow it down with considerable ease, Kohli had said: “In the past, in certain games in T20 cricket, we have been 20-30 runs short batting first. That has cost us the game. So, the idea again as I said at the toss, was to come out of our comfort zone and then try to get that big score because we are batting till No. 9. But quickly we realised the pitch didn’t allow us to keep doing that.”

The bash-through-the-line Wankhede track and its short boundaries allowed India to keep landing the punches on West Indies after they were asked to bat first on Wednesday. They didn’t hold back at any point, with all of Rohit, Kohli and KL Rahul repeatedly executing the big hits to near-perfection.

ALSO READ: India find T20 pulse with Dube’s promotion to No.3

The carnage began when Rohit opened up his stance and regularly threw his hands at the ball, taking more risks than he usually does at the start of his innings. Left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell found some inswing with the new ball, but Rohit didn’t care, laying down the marker with a hard-handed jab-punch through extra-cover.

In the second over of the game, Jason Holder swung the ball away from Rahul, but he didn’t care either. He cleared his front leg and his head fell over, but he still swiped at the ball and edged it past the keeper to the third-man boundary. Then Rahul hit five boundaries in six balls, including three on the trot off seamer Kesrick Williams, to vault India to 72 for no loss at the end of the powerplay. It never stopped.



You don’t really feel much pressure when you have 20-25 extra runs on board and boundaries play a major part. In a span of three-four balls, you can maximise that phase for your team


Virat Kohli



Rohit then lined-up left-arm fingerspinner Khary Pierre and clouted him for 6, 6, 4 to take India past 100 by the end of the eighth over. In the recent past, India have opted to sit back in such scenarios, but in the third T20I, they just didn’t take their foot off the gas.

Facing up to Holder, Rohit swung for the hills – so much that he nearly swung himself off his feet – and wound up nicking it past the wicketkeeper to the third-man fence. High-risk, high-reward.

After Rohit holed out for a 34-ball 71 off Williams, while attempting a pull, India bumped a power-hitter to No. 3 for the second successive game. Enter Rishabh Pant. This, after allrounder Shivam Dube had muscled 54 off 30 balls in the second T20I in Thiruvananthapuram.

Pollard tricked Pant with a slower cutter and removed him for a two-ball duck, but that didn’t stop India from continuing to go after West Indies’ bowlers. Kohli launched his fifth ball – from legspinner Hayden Walsh Jr. – over the wide long-on boundary and kept clearing his front leg to ping the leg-side boundaries.




Virat Kohli brings all his bottom-hand power into a slog © Associated Press


Holder and Pollard tried out their variations, but Kohli still found enough power and manufactured pace for himself to send them in the arc between long-on and midwicket. Williams, though, had greater control over his lines and lengths, and even used the crease tactfully, to keep Kohli quiet briefly.

However, once Williams missed his length by the slightest of margins, Kohli cleared his front leg and shovel-whipped him into the stands beyond long-on. It was only fitting that he capped India’s innings with a six, his seventh and the 16th overall for the hosts on Wednesday evening.

In response, West Indies could hit only 12 sixes, and they ultimately lost the game by 67 runs and the series 2-1. In 2016 in that semi-final, India had mustered a mere four sixes in comparison to West Indies’ 11. How the tables have turned.

“There’s one thing talking about getting a big score, but when you do it on the field you remember how you did it,” Kohli told Star Sports at the post-match presentation. “I think two guys in the middle with clarity – Rahul and Rohit – the way they played… I think that’s the key for us.

“Batting first, we’ve been too tight and hesitant in terms of should we go for it or not. But this pitch allowed us to play freely. It’s a good lesson for us and now we need to remember that. You don’t really feel much pressure when you have 20-25 extra runs on board and boundaries play a major part. In a span of three-four balls, you can maximise that phase for your team.”

It might not be as easy to find the boundary consistently on the larger grounds in Australia next year, but India shedding their conservative style of play and being more flexible could well be their biggest takeaway from this series against the reigning world champions in the shortest format.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.






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T20 transformation earns Tom Abell first franchise deal in BPL

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Eighteen months ago, Tom Abell was part way through his fifth season in the Somerset first team with just 13 T20 runs to his name. Now, he is Bangladesh-bound for his first taste of franchise cricket with Rangpur Rangers at the BPL, having reinvented himself as a middle-order accelerator in the shortest form.

After a useful run with the bat in 2018, Abell’s limitations as a T20 player were exposed in a televised game at Canterbury at the end of the group stage. Chasing an imposing 231 to win, Abell eked out 21 not out from 18 balls, eating up the time left for captain Lewis Gregory to close the game out; Gregory ended unbeaten on 44 off just 15 balls, but Somerset fell five runs short.

This season, he was a player transformed, scoring quicker than any other batsman in the competition other than AB de Villiers (minimum 200 runs) and almost doubling his scoring rate against seamers.

“Halfway through the summer, at the start of the T20 competition, I wasn’t really that confident or that comfortable with my white-ball cricket,” Abell tells ESPNcricinfo. “I made a conscious effort to work on [it] and find a method that was going to be successful.

“It was about finding a way that would work for me. I don’t feel like I can always hit it out the ground like some other guys, but I guess there’s different ways of going about scoring runs for different people. I worked on my power-hitting, and having different options in my game. It was mentally as much as anything – having that confidence to try and express myself.”

Perhaps the most noticeable change was a penchant for innovation, as Abell integrated ramps and reverse-scoops into his previously-orthodox method, having worked extensively midway through the county season with Jason Kerr and Paul Tweddle on his white-ball skills. Like his team-mate Tom Banton, he played hockey growing up, and suggests that “you get a lot of value for that shot… there’s rarely anyone behind the keeper, so for me just trying to deflect it over [him] is quite a good option”.

ALSO READ: Banton lights up the Blast, attracts T20 franchise interest

The competition ended with a maiden T20 hundred from 46 balls, a feat which Abell admits he never thought he was capable of achieving, and soon after, he was a £100,000 (US$132,000) pick for Manchester Originals in the inaugural draft for the Hundred.

“I never anticipated that I would have been picked up when I was – I was as surprised as anyone. I think it’ll take a while to sink in,” he says.

“To have that backing from all involved at Manchester – it’s a great feeling on a personal level. I don’t think anyone knows what to expect really, it’s a brand-new competition and no-one knows how it’s going to go down. I think there was a huge amount of excitement around the draft and I’m sure that’ll be the same nearer the time.”

Abell treads carefully in expressing his excitement for the competition, wary of the disgruntlement that many Somerset supporters feel about having their captain taken away for six weeks of the season and uneasy about having his “life-changing” salary broadcast so publicly.

“I completely understand divided opinion, and I’m very passionate about Somerset cricket – but without contradicting myself, I want to play for England, and to do that it’s important that you’re playing in top competitions. Naturally, I’m absolutely gutted that it’ll mean missing cricket for Somerset, but at the same time, it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”

He has exchanged texts with Simon Katich, Manchester’s head coach, and is likely to slot into his usual middle-order role when the competition starts next July.

Abell’s immediate focus, though is on his first taste of franchise cricket. He was somewhat bizarrely named in a squad list for the ongoing Qatar T10 league despite not having entered the draft, but will spend Christmas in Bangladesh after being picked for a Rangpur Rangers squad that also includes Mohammad Nabi, Mustafizur Rahman, and county team-mate Gregory.

“It’s my first experience of anything like this in terms of franchise cricket,” he says. “It’s a huge opportunity for me – getting the chance to play with and against some top players will be a really good thing for me.

“It’s certainly nice having had a decent summer to get this opportunity… I wouldn’t see it like it’s a reward necessarily, because I still feel hugely fortunate. But cricket’s like that – you have ups and downs. It should be good exposure, and I think that’ll be a great thing for me.”



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