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Recent Match Report – Kenya vs Netherlands, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier, 3rd Match, Group A

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Netherlands 166 for 4 (O’Dowd 53, Cooper 36, Obuya 2-16) beat Kenya 136 for 8 (Obuya 63, van Meekeren 3-27, Klaassen 2-23) by 30 runs

Unlike the other reigning co-champs Scotland, the other joint-title holders from the 2015 T20 World Cup Qualifier managed to avoid the upset bug as Max O’Dowd‘s first innings half-century was more than enough behind a quality team bowling effort as Netherlands coasted past Kenya in a 30-run win.

Kenya paid for sloppy fielding in the Powerplay as O’Dowd was dropped on 2 at mid-on before later going on to make his fifty while his opening partner Tobias Visee survived two chances on 1 and 12. It allowed the pair to add a brisk 36 off 21 balls for the first wicket before Visee fell to a yorker from Nelson Odhiambo in the fourth.

O’Dowd and Ben Cooper then teamed for a 77-run second-wicket stand as Kenya’s bowling unit struggled to apply any sort of pressure. Though boundaries were few, singles were plenty during the partnership. O’Dowd (bowled), Cooper (caught extra cover) and Ryan ten Doeschate (slog to deep midwicket) all fell in the space of 13 runs as Kenya fought back late through Collins Obuya‘s spin. But Pieter Seelaar’s late cameo along with Roelof van der Merwe added 40 off the last 25 balls to take the Dutch out of any danger.

Paul van Meekeren sparked the Dutch in the field, first with a sharp catch on a skier to claim Dhiren Gondaria in the fifth for Timm van der Gugten’s only wicket of the day. Van Meekeren then bowled Alex Obanda to start the sixth with a full and straight delivery, the first of his three wickets in the match. Jasraj Kundi was bowled flicking across the line to van der Merwe to make it 39 for 3 before a methodical 70-run stand between Rakep Patel and Obuya brought respectability back to Kenya’s innings.

However, they were never seriously in striking distance, needing more than 10 an over for the last 12 overs. Rakep holed out to long-on for van Meekeren’s second wicket before Fred Klaassen produced a double-strike in the 18th with some intelligent death bowling. He ran back 25 yards changing direction in his follow-through to claim a skier off Obuya before a cutter produced another thick edge to short third man two balls later to dismiss Shem Ngoche. Van Meekeren clean bowled Lucas Oluoch in the final over to finish off his haul for the day while Brandon Glover also contributed an economical spell of 1 for 19.



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‘Shows incredible courage to talk about mental health’

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In recent weeks three Australian cricketers – Glenn Maxwell, Nic Maddinson and Will Pucovski – have stepped away from the game to manage their mental health. ESPNcricinfo spoke to Cricket Australia’s head of sports science, Alex Kountouris, about how mental health is being addressed, breaking down sigmas, how players can seek help and the systems in place to aid them.

What happens in terms of support for players?

There’s quite an extensive support network across Australian cricket, so some of it is internal, Cricket Australia, the state and then there’s external providers. Generally players have touch points with all three of those. Obviously friends and family, but there is quite a good support network and that’s something we’re happy and proud about.

What we’ve seen with the recent three players, and we’ve seen with other players over the last 12 months, male and female, is players being comfortable to talk about it and ask for help. There’s two benefits to that, one the players get the support they need, but also we see them as role models for society, because hopefully they encourage others who are suffering in silence to come out and talk about it and get the help they need. It’s great that they are talking about it so publicly and prepared to talk about it publicly, that others can benefit from it as well.

Has Australian cricket broken down the old school perception that to admit to mental health struggles is a weakness rather than a strength?

That’s certainly an old way of looking at it, but we’re trying to break those stigmas and barriers down, because it’s the opposite. Someone shows incredible courage to come out and talk about something like this and I expect that it will help others, rather than having a negative effect. It’s a really positive thing. Overall, while we don’t want our players to have issues, it’s a great thing that this group of players, and other players have come out and spoken about some of the struggles they’re having openly. That can encourage others to talk about it and break down some of those stigmas we know have existed in the past.

What is CA doing to improve its understanding of mental health issues?

We’ve conducted a survey with the Orygen mental health group, they’re a provider of mental health research and education services in the youth space. We did a survey with them in the 2014-15 season then we repeated is in 2016 in the off-season and compared results. Now we’re in the tail end of completing a survey again of all our male and female players and we expect by February/March next year we’ll have the results of that.

For us the real benefit is we get an idea of a comparison with our previous information we had, and we also get a comparison with our players with community norms as well, similar age groups. What we’ve seen in the past is our players are no more or less vulnerable to mental health and wellbeing issues, so we’re just a mirror of society. There may be different factors associated with why elite players have mental health and wellbeing issues, but part of the survey is trying to understand that, trying to work out some of those triggers, and it’s typically not one thing, it’s typically a number of factors that could cause this.

How does the players’ association link into the project?

It’s all done in conjunction with the ACA, co-funding the project, we’ve looked at the survey questions together. Then together with the ACA we’ve got a wellbeing education program that’s just about to kick off as well. That’s been probably 12 months in the pipeline, and will be across all the different players in the state and CA system and they get education around mental health and wellbeing. Hopefully the players can pick up some of the skills and awareness they need to better understand this and pick it up earlier.

If you want to take a step even further than that, we’re doing a research project with the Orygen group on our pathway players. That’s happening next month, looking at our younger players that we haven’t captured before, and try to understand some of the challenges there. We’ve also resourced our pathway championships with a full-time psychologist there.

Cricket’s volume and frequency of travel is a unique challenge for players and staff. Can you use the networks that grow around teams to help anyone who is struggling get the support they need before they actually have to pull out of playing or coaching?

Travel’s an interesting one, it’s very individual how it affects people. But we’ve got pretty good support networks when our teams are on tour, so we’ve always got a doctor for all our tours, whether they’re pathway tours or our men’s and women’s teams, or Australia A. Increasingly we’ve got our psychologist travelling with some of our teams as well as support. But it’s just very individual, trying to offer what players need and pick things up early and offer the support they need.

It’s also about looking ahead and seeing what the travel schedule is going to be like and trying to manage that. But travel is only one of many potential triggers. It’s probably one that’s more akin to elite athletes, one of a handful of things that might be more relevant for elite athletes, but there’s other things that are common to everyone in society, things like relationships, stresses of work and the everyday stresses of life.

One thing that has been seen in the mental health area is that making face to face contact or picking up the phone to admit to needing mental health support or a break can be harder than sending a message, an email or putting the information into an app. Do the players have that option at the moment?

There’s nothing specific, and I can’t tell you how the recent players declared how they felt but it will be different for everyone. One of the things we do is expect players to log in wellness information every day on an app. On this app, which is common across elite sport, you say how sore you are, how fatigued you are, and one of the questions is how stressed you are and how you feel overall in your wellness.

That’s tracked by each player’s support network so we pick up things like that sometimes. So if you see a player hasn’t slept well for three or four days or they’ve reported high levels of stress for two or three days, then someone will get in touch. It might be ‘I’ve had a sore neck and I couldn’t sleep properly’ or it might be ‘I’m really struggling with stress’ and the right people will then follow that up. That might be the way players provide information, other will be happy just to talk about it.

We also have a monthly mental health and wellbeing screening tool that’s available to players on an optional basis in our internal app. That again can be a way to flag something, even if players and support staff don’t feel like they want to do the survey, we still encourage them to go through and look at the questions and reflect on the questions. If something resonates with them that’s not quite right, speak to the right person.

If you look at the way cricket is evolving, and the increasing number of teams players play for, is that providing an additional challenge where in the past they maybe only had two or three team environments to move between at most?

Some players will be affected more or less by swapping teams and things like that. The challenge is making sure the support network is there and having the ability to talk to someone. As you move from one team to another, there’s different support staff, different people, different levels of relationships between people and one of the things we like about the wellness information we collect is that can be done every day, no matter where you are. Someone could be in India playing in the IPL and they report they haven’t slept well for three days and someone will get in touch and say ‘what’s the story’. It may just be jetlag and that’s not a problem, or they’ll tell you ‘I’m really struggling’ and that can start the conversation.

It does throw up a challenge, but we’ve got some things in place that we think can help us identify some of the tough periods and it comes back to the player’s willingness to share that information doesn’t it. If they’re not telling us the information we don’t have it. There are lots of different avenues for the player to report the information. But the work we’re doing with the Orygen group will help us understand where we need to be putting our resources. It’s all about educating the players about what to look for and what some of the stresses are, and really trying to better understand mental health and wellbeing.



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Australia’s other tricky decision: who is the third fast bowler?

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Strength in depth is something the Australian selectors would dearly love with their batting options. They have in it in spades with the fast bowling, however, and that creates a different problem.

The selection of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Michael Neser in the Test squad to face Pakistan looks like a luxury teams the world over would love to have.

Now it’s about which three to pick for the Gabba. The selectors rotated their fast bowlers with mixed success in England. Heading into the final Test at The Oval they seemed genuinely unsure of their best trio, with Peter Siddle playing ahead of Starc and Pattinson who were both fully fit.

Pattinson, perhaps to his own detriment given his desire to play his first Test on home soil since January 2016, thinks the New South Wales trio of Cummins, Hazlewood, and Starc will line-up in Brisbane.

ALSO READ: James Pattinson wants to play back-to-back Tests

“I think those three are probably going to get the first look in, realistically,” Pattinson said on Thursday. When probed as to whether the selectors had indicated that to him he responded, “Not really, that’s just my personal opinion.”

The New South Wales trio tuned up for Brisbane by dismantling Western Australia on a slow dry SCG track, the antithesis of what will be presented at the Gabba. The trio took 13 wickets between them on a spin-friendly surface to bowl WA out for 191 and 128. All three were outstanding with a reverse-swinging ball.

They were the trio that secured the Ashes for Australia at Old Trafford, in Starc’s only Test of the campaign, but he was unsure whether they would get the nod together in Brisbane.

“We’ve all said we are here to win games for New South Wales and the rest of it will take care of itself,” Starc said. “For this week it was nice to have everyone back in blue, Patty’s [Cummins] first game and was nice seeing him bowl fast as well. We’ve played a lot of cricket together for New South Wales and Australia and if that’s the way they go in the first Test then great, if not keep pushing for the next one.”

Starc’s form probably makes him the favourite to be named alongside Cummins and Hazlewood, who appear certain starters. After a lean match at the Gabba against Queensland, where he claimed 1 for 129, some remedial work with NSW bowling coach Andre Adams propelled him to a man of the match display against Tasmania at Drummoyne Oval where he took 10 for 60 from 43.2 overs.

He then took eight wickets in six T20Is but stepped back into Shield cricket without missing a beat, claiming 4 for 57 in the second innings against Western Australia with some vicious reverse swing and six wickets in the match

“I’ve just been happy with the rhythm and things I’ve worked on, just to get into a clearer mindset,” Starc said. “The things I worked on coming out of the Gabba Shield game and into Drummoyne I’ve been pretty focused and clear since the Gabba – in the T20s as well – so that’s pretty pleasing. Hopefully having that mindset can carry on through the summer.”

Pattinson’s form in the Sheffield Shield should not be overlooked. He consistently troubled opponents with pace and hostility on three very flat surfaces at the Junction Oval, the WACA and the MCG. He was rested for the game against Tasmania on a bowler-friendly surface in Hobart. He has 11 wickets in four innings thus far this season with two four-wicket hauls but has bowled without luck at times.

The squad mentality has been spoken about at length, with Australia’s hierarchy keen to sell the idea to the fast bowlers to both keep them fresh and extend their careers.

Pattinson spoke last Friday of his desire to play back-to-back Test matches and his envy of the batsmen being able to find form through continuity of playing.

But it seems the bowlers, begrudgingly or not, have accepted their fate that they may not play every game.

“We spoke about the squad mentality during the Ashes and having five fast bowlers again it will be the same thing,” Starc said. “Whether that’s conditions-based, Nes [Neser] bowled really well in that A game from what I’ve heard and Patto has been bowling really nicely. Joshy, Patty and myself are pretty happy with how we’ve been progressing.”

While Pattinson believed he would not play in the first Test he did believe that his opportunity would come depending on conditions.

“I think it’s just a game to game basis, however, they pull up. If I’m just there staying fit and bowling well and putting my name forward, hopefully at some stage I’ll get the nod.”



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Recent Match Report – West Indies Women vs India Women 3rd T20I 2019

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India women 60 for 3 (Rodrigues 40*, Matthews 2-7) beat West Indies women 59 for 9 (Radha Yadav 2-6, Sharma 2-12) by seven wickets

India continued their dominant run against a West Indies side that seems to have lost its way without regular captain Stafanie Taylor, winning the third T20I by seven wickets to take a 3-0 lead in the five-match series. In the first two games, West Indies had barely managed to get past 100, losing by 84 runs and ten wickets respectively, and it got worse for them this time, as they limped to 59 for 9 from their 20 overs before India got past the target with enough and more in hand.

It wasn’t easy going for India in their modest chase, though. Hayley Matthews rocked them at the start, getting Shafali Verma stumped by Shemaine Campbelle in the first over for a duck and then having Smriti Mandhana caught by Shakera Salman in the fifth over for 3, leaving India at 13 for 2 at that stage and just 16 for 2 at the end of six overs.

But there was only so much Matthews and the rest of the bowlers could do after the batters had put up so woeful a performance. Harmanpreet Kaur fell too, for 7 to Afy Fletcher, but Jemimah Rodrigues could just knock the ball around without taking unnecessary risks and chip away at the chase. She hit four fours in her 51-ball innings, getting to 40 when she hit the winning single to take India to their target in 16.4 overs with Deepti Sharma by her side.

Sharma had played a leading role in the first half of the match too, picking up two wickets as she and Radha Yadav led a strong bowling performance where all the six bowlers in action picked up at least a wicket each.

Matthews fell first, caught and bowled by Anuja Patil, and Radha sent back Campbelle by the end of the Powerplay too. There was no real resistance at any stage of the innings by the West Indians, who were batting first out of choice, as only Chedean Nation and Chinelle Henry got into double-digits, scoring identical 11s. The wickets fell frequently, and it was only some dead-batting from Anisa Mohammed and Selman at the end that prevented the home side from being bowled out.

Radha returned 2 for 6 from her four overs, while Sharma had 2 for 12 from four as seven of the wickets fell to the Indian spinners, Pooja Vastrakar’s dismissal of Kyshona Knight and Natasha McLean’s run-out the exceptions.

India, who won the preceding ODI series 2-1, and West Indies play the fourth game of the T20I series on Saturday, also in Providence.



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