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Recent Match Report – Gloucestershire vs Worcestershire, County Championship Division Two, 2nd Innings



Gloucestershire 354 and 149 for 8 lead Worcestershire 293 (Whiteley 88, D’Oliveira 68, Higgins 3-52, Bamber 3-59, Payne 3-73) by 210 runs

Tell a friend that you have just watched a day’s cricket in which 211 runs were scored in 94 overs and he will probably sympathise with you. But if you tell him that you have done so at Cheltenham, he will suspect your day has had its compensations and he will be quite correct. There was no suggestion of tedium at the College Ground this afternoon as two sides tussled for advantage in a match which will be crucial to their promotion prospects.

When play was ended two overs early by a brief shower of rain Worcestershire’s cricketers could look back on three sessions in which they had restricted Gloucestershire’s first-innings lead to 61 and then taken eight wickets for 149 runs on a day when the home side’s batting had been rather profligate. But it is Gloucestershire who have the 210-run lead and it is their opponents who have found batting something of a trial recently. No one at the College Ground thought of clapping slowly. And yes, there were those other compensations, features which many think extraneous to the matter in hand but which cricket lovers recognise as inseparable from their summer.

Even before play started the blue hills were thickly gauzed in heat. The trees barely moved all day but the counties’ flags fluttered gently in a soft remnant of breeze. The temperature rose and a Range Rover’s alarm went off repeatedly, suggesting it might be thermostat-controlled. Spectators on the back rows of stands hoisted gaily coloured umbrellas to protect themselves. The marquees were crammed with corporate customers and two were made available to the public seeking shade during lunch.

For Worcestershire’s tailenders, though, there was no respite from the sun and nor did they desire one. The visitors had seemed likely to concede a deficit of around a hundred when they lost three wickets in the first eight overs of the day but Joe Leach and Adam Finch then batted in some comfort for the next 94 minutes, reducing Gloucestershire’s lead to 61 runs, which worried home supporters, and even delaying lunch, which alarmed them even nearly as much. Finch was hit on the helmet and body by David Payne but was unbeaten on a modest 8 when Leach played on to Ryan Higgins for 38. And it felt as though the Worcestershire skipper’s innings had put a marker down.

Such a feeling was well-founded. The early afternoon’s cricket brought Gloucestershire no relief. Leach nipped the third ball of the innings away from Chris Dent and had the home skipper caught behind for nought. Worse followed in the tenth over when Wayne Parnell knocked out Roderick’s off stump with a ball that kept so low that had it been bowled in T20, the disappointed batsman may have walked off the College Ground with “Subterranean Homesick Blues” playing over the loudspeakers.

Gloucestershire’s decline continued. Miles Hammond remained rooted to the crease when leg before to Ed Barnard and another near grubber from Parnell cleaned up James Bracey. At that point the home side had a lead of just 108.

It was mid-afternoon. The wicketkeeper, Ben Cox, and his slips, Riki Wessels and Daryl Mitchell, all sported wide-brimmed sunhats in a fashion which recalled the age of I Zingari and Free Foresters. Yet this was hard-fought professional cricket in the 21st century and one became aware, yet again, by how very precious festivals like Cheltenham are. Such reveries were interrupted or perhaps enhanced by a flurry of strokes from Higgins, who drove Finch to the boundary without mercy when the freshman bowler overpitched. Indeed, Higgins scored 27 in the space of nine balls before departing for 36 when he flashed flat-footedly at Dillon Pennington and nicked a catch to Wessels at first slip.

That dismissal ended what was by far Gloucestershire’s most abundant period of the day. The following 32.4 overs saw only 46 runs scored as Tom Smith and Jack Taylor sought to ground out a defendable total. Every run was cheered by anxious home supporters who could see their chance of victory slipping away. Paolo’s ice-cream vans did plenty of business as did Camper Vin. Ed won one raffle prize and Steven won some wine. The microphone in the Circles to Success tent was in such robust order that everyone in the ground knew about it. Nobody minded.

Taylor and Smith were probably apprehensive as to when their number would be up but their wickets did not fall until the last hour of play when both had made useful twenties. Smith fenced Parnell to slip and Taylor edged a cut off Barnard to Cox. Then Benny Howell rather summed up Gloucestershire’s fortunes when he slapped a full toss from Brett D’Oliveira to mid-on. A slow day? Not at all. Days at the College Ground pass with the speed of a swift in flight over the Cotswolds.

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Eoin Morgan admits back injury key to captaincy future



Eoin Morgan has hinted that he may step down as England’s white-ball captain due to a back injury.

Morgan suffered a back spasm during the World Cup, leaving the field during the win against the West Indies in Southampton, and his training was limited throughout the tournament in order to manage the injury.

“I need more time to think, that’s the honest answer,” Morgan told Test Match Special when asked if he would lead England into the T20 World Cup next year. “It’s a big decision, a big commitment.

“Given the injury that I went through in the World Cup, I need time to get fully fit.

“I actually need the season to end pretty soon so I can have that time to physically get fit and guarantee that it’s not an injury risk between this year and next, and then I’ll be able to make a call on that.”

Morgan said that he “absolutely” wanted to lead the side next year, but said “it’s just that I don’t want to let anybody down.

“When you lead, you have to lead from the front,” he said. “And you have to be physically fit at the start, and then finding form is another thing.

“Hopefully, that works itself out.”

ALSO READ: Morgan has earned the right to decide own future – Strauss

Morgan has been playing for Middlesex in the T20 Blast after a two-week break from the game, though missed a defeat against Sussex because of the injury.

And he admitted that he felt “physically and mentally cooked” after the World Cup. “As captain, you take a little bit more on board than probably just being a player,” he said.

Morgan is likely to be available for the rest of the Blast, but it seems unlikely that he will play in the final three Championship games of the season. He was due to play for Dublin Chiefs in the Euro T20 Slam before the tournament was postponed, and will return to the T10 League in Abu Dhabi in November.

Several of Morgan’s team-mates, including Ben Stokes, Liam Plunkett, and Jos Buttler have spoken about the emotional comedown that followed the final against New Zealand, and he suggested that it was only natural for them to feel mentally fatigued.

“The comedown from the high of that final is bound to tire guys out a little bit,” he said. “The selectors and the coach would have sat down and given the guys who needed a rest as much as they can.

“There’s only so much you can do in preparation for an Ashes series, but I think they’ve done what they can. Naturally, it’s going to feel different. You’re never going to be able to replicate what happened again, or the high, but it’s an Ashes series – people don’t need firing up for it. I’d lose my left arm to play in it and everybody knows that. To be in that changing room now with the opportunity of contributing in the series and hopefully winning it is huge.”

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Ravi Shastri to remain India head coach



Ravi Shastri will remain head coach of the India men senior team, with his new contract extending up to the 2021 T20 World Cup in India.

The interviews for the remainder of India’s backroom staff will commence next week, tentatively from August 19-22. India’s senior selection panel was supposed to pick the head coach’s support staff, as per the BCCI’s new constitution, but the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) wanted to have a say, and expressed its interest and wrote to the BCCI to get involved in the process.

“The CAC has given us a letter expressing their willingness to be involved in the selection process of the support staff,” Rahul Johri, the BCCI CEO, said. “We will forward it to the CoA.”

The CAC spent all of Friday interviewing five candidates for head coach, with a sixth – Phil Simmons – pulling out of the race. The CAC rated the candidates on five separate categories – coaching philosophy, experience, achievements, communication, and “knowledge of modern coaching tools”.

The three members of the CAC – former India captain Kapil Dev, former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad and the former India women captain Shanta Rangaswamy – agreed “unanimously” to retain Shastri’s services, Kapil announced, with Mike Hesson, the former New Zealand and Kings XI Punjab coach, and Tom Moody, the former Sri Lanka and Sunrisers Hyderabad coach, coming a close second and third respectively.

Apart from Shastri, Hesson and Moody, the CAC also interviewed Robin Singh, who has coached at four-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians and was formerly India’s fielding coach, and Lalchand Rajput, India’s manager during their victorious World T20 campaign in 2007 and more recently coach of Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.

Hesson, Robin and Rajput made their presentations to the CAC in person, while Moody and Shastri – who is with the India team in the West Indies – appeared via teleconference.

The contracts of Shastri and his support staff were meant to expire at the end of the 2019 World Cup, but they were given a 45-day extension keeping in mind the West Indies tour. Ahead of his departure, India captain Virat Kohli made a public announcement that he would prefer if Shastri was to continue as head coach.

Shastri joined India’s backroom staff as team director during the 2014 tour of England, and remained in charge when head coach Duncan Fletcher’s tenure ended after the 2015 World Cup. Shastri’s role as director ended when Anil Kumble became head coach in June 2016, but Kumble’s tenure lasted just over a year before ending in fractious circumstances after the Champions Trophy in 2017.

Shastri came back as head coach, and since then has overseen Test match wins in South Africa and England, and a maiden Test series win in Australia, in 2017-18. Under Shastri, India most recently reached the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup in the UK, topping the round-robin phase of the tournament before exiting with a loss to New Zealand.

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Euro T20 Slam cancellation ‘deflated’ Scotland players – Coetzer



Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer has called for Euro T20 Slam organisers to show “a gesture” of good faith in order to restore confidence that the tournament will indeed go-ahead for 2020. Just two weeks before the start of the tournament, the organisers had cancelled the Euro T20 Slam.

Coetzer stated that the news, which was delivered to the Scotland squad in a team meeting on Wednesday before organisers sent out an official release to the general public, may leave Scotland players in a bind and many will now have to seek other ways to recoup the expected earnings from the tournament.

“Let’s be honest, pretty much every one of the players was going to earn more in that space of time, to what they would earn in a full year playing cricket,” Coetzer told ESPNcricinfo. “You have to look at the impact it may have on some guys and certainly there’s a couple of boys that were potentially looking to go away at some time during the winter and now they probably need to get a job. It would have created giving guys an opportunity to feel an element of security in what we try and do.”

The players from the three host countries were all due to earn between USD 10,000 and USD 35,000 in three salary tiers for Associate players in the three-week competition. Coetzer was due to receive USD 40,000 as all three T20 captains from the host countries – Ireland’s Gary Wilson and the Netherlands’ Pieter Seelaar – were stipulated to receive a USD 5000 bonus payment. In addition to the exposure of playing against world-class players, the financial lift to help professionalise players has now disappeared – which is significant.

“It’s always hard enough,”Coetzer said. “You’re just getting by and no one complains because we all love playing for Scotland and we’re all heading towards the same goal but it’s gonna make things harder. It would have just given guys, even if it was a year of breathing space, just to let them ease their minds a little bit, just go and play cricket, show the passion, which we always show anyway. But it would have taken a bit of a weight off some of the guys’ shoulders financially. That’s gonna be tough for guys to take.”

Coetzer had returned just days earlier from the Global T20 Canada, where his Montreal Tigers squad was involved in a player protest along with Toronto Nationals as players refused to take the field until overdue salary disbursements were paid out. The Scotland captain said that organizers, who are in charge of both events, need to consider a make-good financial gesture to restore the confidence and credibility in the eyes of players and fans.

“It’s reasonably well documented that something happened in Canada,” Coetzer said. “I think all the players felt as if they would be getting paid. Part of it was there was a structure within the contract that says certain amounts should be paid within certain dates and that’s where the issue was. I feel if they hold onto those agreements when they agree to them, then there would be no issue.”

“What they may need to do to convince people for the Slam would be possibly a kind gesture towards some of the players to say, ‘Look, we apologize for this but it will go ahead next year.’ They probably need to show some kind of sign that they’re willing to do that because we need the people to believe that it will still go ahead next year. The international players, the marquee players, they still need to have confidence that they won’t miss out on something else if they come to the Slam. A number of our guys didn’t put their names in other competitions.”

Scotland coach Shane Burger also felt that the news influenced his players mentally prior to taking the field in their first Cricket World Cup League Two ODI against Oman, a match in which they were bowled out for 168. But he hopes they’ll be able to bounce back over the next three matches in Aberdeen against Oman and Papua New Guinea.

“I have no doubt that there was an impact,” Burger said. “I think if there wasn’t an impact because of that, then I’d be surprised. There was a massive disappointment when the news was heard. However, in saying all of that, this is a professional cricket team that needs to make sure that they can switch on and off when they need to. It’s not gonna be the first time they get given bad news.

“This team has had to deal with a lot this season, people passing away, Euro Slam news, all of it. I believe the team has come a long way in terms of maturity and they should have been able to deal with the news, as tough as it is to handle. I don’t think that played a role in us losing the game today. I just think they outplayed us.”

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