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Hundred will help England’s bid to retain World Cup – Joe Root

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Joe Root has insisted that the introduction of the Hundred will help England in their bid to retain the World Cup in 2023.

Some have suggested that the new competition will reduce England’s competitiveness in ODI cricket as their leading white-ball players will no longer be available for the domestic 50-over tournament, which is scheduled at the same time as the Hundred.

But Root feels the benefits of exposing young English players to some of the best overseas players in the world will outweigh any such issues.

“By playing the Hundred, you’re exposing our next generation of players to play against some of the best players in the world,” Root told ESPNcricinfo. “Regardless of the format that will be more influential and have more of an impact.

“Look at the guys in the current white-ball team who have gone off to play in the IPL: they’ve come back better players for it. I feel the Hundred will have a similar impact on more English players. Not just the top end guys, but on the next group of players that are on the fringe of the international teams. And, on the back of it, they’ll have more opportunity to play elsewhere, too.

“Of course it’s important we look after our 50-over cricket and, long-term, don’t let it slide off a cliff. But I don’t think playing the Hundred will dilute our chances of winning the next World Cup.”

Root also refutes the suggestion that the Hundred poses a threat to England’s Test aspirations. While the window created for the competition means the Championship will be played disproportionately in the margins of the summer – a scenario which all too often leads to conditions providing copious assistance to the sort of seam bowlers who find little encouragement on the better surfaces generally encountered in Test cricket – England’s Test captain feels the county groundsmen simply have to do a better job of creating high quality surfaces. County groundsmen, recovering from the longest season in history, could be forgiven for shaking their heads ruefully and wondering how they can be expected to produce good batting surfaces in the drizzle of early April.

“The key is making sure the wickets for Championship cricket are good,” Root said. “Some of the wickets have not been good enough this season. We have to make sure we’re producing wickets that allow guys to get in and make big scores.

“You want the next group of batters to know what’s it’s like to score big hundreds; to deal with scoreboard pressure; to bat for two days to stay in a game and earn a dull draw. And you also have to find a way to take wickets – to take 20 wickets – on flat ones.

“I’d like to see wickets improve. And that ultimately comes down to the counties. I know they’re under huge pressure to win but, from a purely selfish point of view, I think it would be really good for English cricket if we saw better wickets next season.”



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Recent Match Report – New Zealand XI vs Indians Tour Match 2020

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Indians 263 (Vihari 101, Pujara 93, Kuggeleijn 3-40, Sodhi 3-72) and 252 for 4 (Agarwal 81, Pant 70, Shaw 39, Mitchell 3-33) drew with New Zealand XI (Cooper 40, Shami 3-17, Bumrah 2-18)

India finished their first red-ball game of the tour with most boxes ticked, as openers Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw, and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant were all among the runs in a second innings where the visitors put up 252 at a run rate of 5.25.

On the first day, India had been reduced to 5 for 3, with all their opening options for the Tests out cheaply. Following a dominant bowling performance on the second day, Agarwal and Shaw struck at nearly nine runs an over to take India to stumps on 59 for 0. That partnership ended on 72 on Sunday with the wicket of Shaw, out for 39 off 31. For Shubman Gill, the third frontline opening option in the squad, it was another single-digit score. He made 8, trapped leg-before by Daryl Mitchell, to follow his first-ball duck in the first innings.

That brought Agarwal and Pant together, who added 100 in just over 18 overs before Agarwal retired out. Agarwal’s 81 will be particularly relieving for the Indian team – it is his first fifty on tour in any format since arriving with the India A team on a shadow tour a month ago. In his last first-class match against New Zealand A, he bagged a pair, and in the ODI series that followed, he had made 32, 3 and 1. The runs came in good time too, off 99 balls, with ten fours and three sixes.

Pant also struck at a good pace, scoring a 65-ball 70. The wicketkeeper has lost his spot in the XI in both limited-overs formats for India over the last month and Wriddhiman Saha‘s return means he has been a back-up option in Tests too. His last Test was in August 2019, and last match at recognised level was a month ago during the home ODI series against Australia. The runs and practice going into a major series will encourage India who had a century from Hanuma Vihari in the first innings, a 93 from Cheteshwar Pujara as well.



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Wil Parker dreams of meeting Shane Warne after ‘special’ debut

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Wil Parker, the 17-year-old Victoria legspinner, had never been to the SCG before being handed a Sheffield Shield debut this week.

It has been a wide-eyed experience: presented his cap by Peter Siddle – who is his room-mate for the Sydney trip and made his first-class debut when Parker was three – to be the state’s fourth-youngest debutant (behind team-mate Jake Fraser-McGurk), followed by a day watching Nathan Lyon go about his work and then a maiden first-class wicket of a batsman who scored a Test century a little over a year ago.

Kurtis Patterson, batting confidently on 54, advanced down the pitch and got a thin edge to wicketkeeper Seb Gotch although he would have been out stumped anyway.

“I didn’t think I got the wicket because Gotchy’s reaction was if he’d missed but he ended up taking the catch which was pretty special,” Parker said. “Kurtis Patterson, not a bad wicket to get first up. Over the moon.”

Did him with the wrong ‘un? “Nah, it just slid on,” he admitted. “I like to say I have a wrong ‘un and a toppy, still working on the flipper.”

Naturally for an Australian legspinner, especially one from Victoria, the next part is fairly obvious. The mention of Shane Warne. “Oh, yeah, my idol,” he said. “Let’s be honest, every young legspinner, let alone a Victorian, should have Shane Warne as their idol.”

He has yet to meet Warne. “That would be a dream to have a chat with about legspinning, specifically, and just life as well.”

For a moment consider that Warne played his last match for Australia in 2007. A lot of highlights have been watched on YouTube. On Parker’s bedroom wall, the memories are of more recent Australian vintages: the 2013-14 Ashes-winning side and the 2015 World Cup team.

While a debut at the MCG may have ticked every box, striding out at the SCG is a heck of a way to see a ground for the first time. “I’m actually a Sydney Swans fan so it’s actually not bad debuting here, pretty special. I’ve never been here, so first time to play here is pretty special.”

A (non-alcoholic) drink with Lyon after this match would cap things off. “Yesterday [Friday] was pretty special to sit back and watching from the changing rooms…that would be something special, just to sit down with him.”

The AFL mention moves neatly onto another major part of the Parker story. He is a hugely talented dual sportsman – tipped to have a chance of a professional football career – with the choice that will bring before too long, but not quite yet.

“There will have to be a time where I make a decision but at the moment I’m just trying to take each season as it goes. At the moment it’s cricket season, I’m loving cricket, and when it’s footy I love footy. There will be a time to make a decision but that’s not just yet. Just trying to enjoy cricket at the moment, representing my state at the SCG is pretty special.”

At the moment he balances cricket training with Monash Tigers and football with NAB League side Eastern Ranges. “Currently I’m trying to get to some pre-season sessions at the moment, juggle it all. Still keeping fit, kicking the footy around,” he said.

Victoria team-mate Will Sutherland had the same decision to make and went with cricket. “He reckoned he was always going to play cricket, whereas I don’t really know yet,” Parker said.

There is strong sporting linage in the family. His uncle, Geoff, played 37 first-class matches for South Australia and Victoria between 1985 and 1999. In 1988 he captained Australia Young Cricketers at the Youth World Cup and also played football in the late 1980s. He now works in AFL recruiting with Port Adelaide.





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Australia strong favourites, but will expectation derail them?

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Overview

Australia are again the powerhouse of the women’s game after a two-year period where they have taken their performances to a new level following the disappointment at the 2017 50-over World Cup in England when they fell at the semi-finals with Harmanpreet Kaur playing one of the greatest innings in World Cup history. They have a squad chock full of allrounders – a significant tactical switch over the last few months with coach Matthew Mott believing specialist batters in the middle order did not have enough chance to make an impact in T20 – and a bowling attack with plenty of variety, from the point-of-difference pace of Tayla Vlaeminck to the sharply-spun leg-breaks of Georgia Wareham. However, they were inconsistent during the T20I tri-series against England and India with three key top-order players – Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and especially Alyssa Healy – not having the returns that would be expected. That tournament was their toughest challenge for a considerable period of time having swept away West Indies and Sri Lanka, so it could end up being viewed as a timely test. And, ultimately, they still found a way to win which in tournament play can be vital.

Squad

Meg Lanning (capt), Rachael Haynes, Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham (Coach: Matthew Mott)

Group fixtures

February 21: India, Sydney Showground

February 24: Sri Lanka, WACA

February 27: Bangladesh, Canberra

March 2: New Zealand, Melbourne

T20 World Cup history

Australia have dominated the event. Four-times champions, and the current holders, they have only once not reached the final – in the inaugural tournament in 2009. Between 2010 and 2014 they won a hat-trick of titles before being tripped by West Indies in 2016.

Form guide

Their Super Over defeat against England in Canberra was their first misstep since the final T20I in England last year – by when the Ashes were well and truly decided – and they were then overturned by India who again showed what can be achieved by taking the game to Australia. Since the start of 2018, they have won 26 of their 31 T20Is with their only defeats coming against India and England who are considered the closest challengers for the title.

Key players

Meg Lanning is an impressive leader and outstanding batter, the former quality may well be tested at times during the tournament if the team hits any bumps along the way. If she is holding aloft the trophy at the MCG it will be a defining moment of her career. Tayla Vlaeminck will vie for the tag of the quickest bowler at the tournament and has the ability to ruffle opposition with the short ball. Alyssa Healy had two prolific seasons in 2018 and 2019 but hit the buffers in the T20I tri-series with five single-figure scores. Australia will hope her runs are being saved for when it really matters.

What would be a success at the tournament?

Nothing beyond victory. Few teams across any global event have quite carried the expectation that Australia have heading into this competition, with so much pinned on their progression at least to the final at the MCG where it is hoped a new crowd record for a female sporting event will be set. Lanning and Mott are balancing the need to embrace that pressure and keep a perspective on things, but it may yet be a factor other teams can exploit if things get tight.



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