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I have to ‘reprogram my thinking’ as a batsman – Carlos Brathwaite

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West Indies have won only two of their last 11 completed ODIs. It’s an alarming stat on paper, but the team, according to Carlos Brathwaite, isn’t doing as badly as those results might suggest.

“I don’t think we are that far away,” Brathwaite said after West Indies’ training session on Tuesday. “We just continue to miss key points in the game. If we look back at the World Cup it is the same thing. If we look at the game the other day we weren’t cruising, but we were in a good position, and then we lost three or four quick wickets.

“We are just missing a few key moments that could have turned one or two loses into wins and make us look a little better, give us a little momentum, and start to try to win series more consistently.”

Chasing 270 in 46 overs in Sunday’s second ODI, West Indies lost a potentially winnable game when they slipped from 179 for 4 to 182 for 8. Brathwaite felt it wasn’t a lack of belief or skills that was causing West Indies to let such key moments slip, but a failure to execute those skills.

“I don’t think it is belief per se,” he said. “I think if you ask the guys in the dressing room if they believe they can win – I think they do believe they can win. The execution of that belief is lacking in key moments like I said. So, I don’t think it’s a lack of belief or a lack of passion and in most cases it’s not even a lack of skill, but just executing what we want to execute the key moments of the game, which was the case in majority of the World Cup and this series so far.”

As to what the players need to do in order to become more consistent, and not repeat mistakes, Brathwaite said they would not find time in the middle of international series to work on their games, and would need to put in that work at the levels below, with their respective domestic teams.

“It’s practice. It’s conversation,” Brathwaite said. “If I am being brutally honest, there is not much we can change on the international tour. That is the challenge for the [domestic] franchise to be able to do enough work, get enough information from the guys at the top. and start implementing stuff. On the tour we try to get the mind right, we try to, as a group, have conversations and honest conversations – not just patting them on the back but having honest conversations, sometimes even being harsh and try to become better players eventually.”

Speaking about his own game, he said he’s been focusing on his fitness, and his mindset as a batsman.

“We are having a lot of honest conversations with the coaches and the staff and I think one thing that’s kept me back is my fitness. I am working very, very hard in the past 12 to 14 months on my fitness – I believe I can get a bit stronger as well.

“I think batting-wise I have to reprogram my thinking in thinking about hitting and swiping and batting properly. I think there has been a conscious effort for me to try to help the team as a batsman and a bowler and try to give myself the best chance for the team and try to help West Indies win cricket games.”

Going back to his 82-ball 101 against New Zealand at the World Cup, Brathwaite said he had walked in with time to build his innings – a rarity for a lower-order batsman like him – and that his challenge would be to perform consistently even without that luxury.

“I had a lot of time to bat. I had a clear thought process,” he said. “I was working very hard off the pitch, as I am now, with the bat, in trying to do the right things and the simple things as long as possible. I had enough time so I could play myself in getting so at the back end when I normally come in to bat to start my innings I already had [faced] 40-50 balls.

“The challenge for me is that that situation won’t always present itself. Obviously, being at home, we have changed the combination a bit. There I played at seven [six], here at eight, nine or maybe seven – the thing I take away from that innings is the way I structured and built the innings which allowed me to kick off at the back end.”

With a full training session under their belt, Brathwaite said West Indies were in good spirits for the third ODI, and were confident of squaring the series.

“We drew the last series against England at home as well,” he said. “And then going into the last game it’s for us to get the batting in order – if we get good starts going into the back end that’ll give us a good chance.

“I think the batting has much improved especially since the T20s and from the overall batting performance in the World Cup as well. But, we didn’t close it off. We batted well in the second game as well, it was about closing it off – hopefully that happens in the next game as well and for the lower half to close the game.”



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Marnus Labuschagne, run-scoring and bubble gum

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Marnus Labuschagne is forever blowing bubbles and, over the last few weeks, scoring Test hundreds.

With a skip down the pitch at Mitchell Santner he deposited the ball over long-on, for just the second six of his career, to reach his third century in three innings following his scores of 185 in Brisbane and 162 in Adelaide. The 25-year old is only the third Australian batsman to manage such a feat after Charles Macartney in 1926 and Don Bradman in 1937-38.

“I got within one shot and I wanted to do it because scoring was quite slow so I was waiting for the right ball,” Labuschagne said at the post-day press conference. “I didn’t get all of it but luckily enough for it to go over.”

He is a batsman with a few idiosyncrasies and a close watch will show he is rarely without his chewing gum. It has become an integral part to his batting routine since he started playing for Glamorgan – a time when runs flowed and propelled him into the Ashes squad.

“It started it in the second game of the County Championship last year,” he said. “It was something I used because at times you play so much cricket and you need something to get you going and to get you in the contest. It’s helped me to relax especially when I’m subconsciously blowing bubbles and keeping my mind at rest between balls.”

There were no free runs on offer on the opening day in Perth, so full focus was needed. Without taking anything away from his runs against Pakistan, that was not always the case in the first two Tests of the summer. In this innings his first fifty took 102 balls, with Australia well behind their usual scoring rate, before moving to three figures off a further 64 deliveries. It was the innings of a player who can be at No. 3 for a long time to come.

“You never want to take any runs for Australia for granted,” he said. “Cricket can be a tough game so you have to cash in when you’re doing well. No hundred comes easy, but today there were patches where scoring really dried up completely and you just had to trust you would come out the other side

Before the Test, Tim Paine revealed there had been conversations about moving Labuschagne down the order to No. 5 to allow him to settle into Test cricket after being thrust back into the team during the Ashes.

“He didn’t want a bar of it,” Paine said. “He wanted to go out at three. He wants to be a star Test match international cricketer. He sees himself as a No.3. He wants that challenge. He’d be hard to move out of there now, that’s for sure.”

Labuschagne recalled a slightly different tale from the Brisbane Test when, with David Warner and Joe Burns having added a double-century stand, Justin Langer suggested – perhaps in jest – that he may want to slip down the order having spent so long waiting with his pads on.

“Justin asked me at the ‘Gabba, because we waited so long to bat and you burn a lot of mental energy. He said do you want to go down? I kind of laughed as in ‘you’re kidding, aren’t you?’ I still don’t know if he was serious, but I thought there’s no chance I’m letting [Steven] Smithy bat in front of me. I enjoy getting out there; sitting and watching can be draining.”

Batting is coming easily for Labuschagne at the moment, but he believes being in good form brings a need to be even more careful. “It’s just about riding the wave, not trying to get too high when you are going well. Keeping a clear mind on the field then you just play the ball as it comes. People say you nick balls more when you are in form because you a seeing it so well so it’s about keeping a high price on decision making.”

At the moment, he’s making a lot of good decisions. He’ll hope the run-scoring bubble doesn’t burst anytime soon.



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Aneurin Donald ruled out for majority of 2020 season after ACL injury

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Aneurin Donald is set to miss the whole of the 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Donald, the 22-year-old batsman, joined Hampshire from Glamorgan towards the end of the 2018 domestic season, and impressed in his first full season at the club, hitting a 144-ball 173 against Warwickshire in the Championship and regularly scoring quickly at the start of a T20 innings.

But after suffering the injury to his ACL last week, Donald underwent an operation this week, and Hampshire physio James Clegg confirmed that his is expected to miss most of the upcoming domestic season.

“Thanks to all the doctors/nurses/surgeons who have looked after me the past week or so,” Donald posted on Instagram. “Long road back to recovery starts now.. Appreciate all the love and support I’ve received to date. Will be back stronger.”

The news represents a major blow to Donald, whose move to the Ageas Bowl came about in part due to his hopes of an England call-up.

He first announced himself as a 19-year-old in the Glamorgan side when he spanked 234 off just 136 balls, equalling the record for the fastest double-century in first-class cricket, in a remarkable maiden Championship ton at Colwyn Bay. He hit Derbyshire’s attack for 15 sixes, and made headlines as a future star.

There were flashes of brilliance in his fledgling white-ball career, including a 40-ball 76 at The Oval in 2017, but he failed to make a half-century in 2018, and finished last season with a disappointment when he found no takers in the inaugural draft for the Hundred.



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CSA sponsor issues ultimatum for contract renewal

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Pressure is mounting on CSA’s board, specifically president Chris Nenzani and vice-president Beresford Williams, after financial services company Momentum, which sponsors CSA, issued an ultimatum over its tenure. In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, Momentum asked for the CSA board or Nenzani and Williams to step down as one of six conditions that must be met if it is to renew its contract with CSA when it ends on April 30, 2020.

More to follow…



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