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Kane Williamson confident of first Test fitness despite ‘ongoing’ hip niggle

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Kane Williamson is confident that his hip injury is “settling” and that he will be fit enough to captain New Zealand in the first Test against England on November 21.

Williamson, who has been rested for the ongoing five-match T20I series, has played only one game in the last two months, and has batted just four times since the World Cup final in July, making a total of 50 runs.

“It’s been an ongoing niggle, really,” he told Sky during New Zealand’s defeat in the fourth T20I at Napier. “That comes at goes. It is settling, which is nice.

“A lot of [the last few months] has been rehab to get the hip right. I had a four-dayer recently [he made 26 for Northern Districts in a Plunket Shield game in October] and there’s a gap between this series and the first Test, so it’s basically training going into it.”

Williamson admits it will be “tough” to readjust to the rhythm of batting given his lack of match practice, but is confident that he will be able to make runs regardless. He was training with the New Zealand squad in Napier ahead of the T20I, rather than playing in the ongoing round of Plunket Shield fixtures.

“A lot of it is mindset,” he said, “so trying to get that right, trying to prepare as well as well as you can to give yourself the best chance.

“I guess if you’re looking at preparation and perfect preparation, gametime can be nice – spending time in the middle – but it’ll be tough to come by seeing as there’s not a lot of cricket between now and then. So it’s just trying to get the mindset right to go on and execute your plans as well as you can.”

Williamson was also rested for New Zealand’s T20I series in Sri Lanka, and spent the start of October in the UK where his commitments included a test on his bowling action at Loughborough. He has now been cleared to bowl, though is unlikely to be required much against England.

The first game of that series will also be the inaugural Test match at Mount Maunganui, one of Williamson’s home grounds when he plays for Northern Districts in domestic cricket.

“[It’s a] really exciting time for cricket in the Bay of Plenty,” he said. “I know everyone there is looking forward to the occasion, and I know the guys are looking forward to some red-ball cricket as well.

“[We’re] looking forward to get involved in the Test matches, which’ll be a really exciting opportunity for us, taking on a strong English side.”



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Bhuvneshwar, Kuldeep back in India squad for T20Is, ODIs against West Indies

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Seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav have returned to India’s squads for the three T20Is and three ODIs at home against West Indies. Virat Kohli, who had been rested for the T20I leg of the Bangladesh series, also returned to lead both the limited-overs sides.

Mohammed Shami, who last played a T20I in 2017, also made a comeback while Khaleel Ahmed and Shardul Thakur, who were both part of the squad for the T20I series against Bangladesh were left out. Krunal Pandya also missed the cut, with Ravindra Jadeja slotting back in as a like-for-like replacement.

Bhuvneshwar was undergoing rehab at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru in the past few months although neither the BCCI nor the selectors had spoken about a possible injury. It is understood that Bhuvneshwar had some muscle issue, but he has now recovered from it and even trained with India’s Test squad in Indore on the eve of the first Test against Bangladesh. Bhuvneshwar then proved his fitness in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, returning figures of 0 for 13 and 1 for 23 for Uttar Pradesh.

Kuldeep, who had played alongside Bhuvneshwar for UP in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, will reunite with fellow wristspinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Fingerspin-bowling allrounder Washington Sundar retained his place in the T20I squad while seam-bowling allrounder Shivam Dube was picked in both the limited-overs squads.

T20I squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar

ODI squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shivam Dube, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar

More to follow…



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Jemimah Rodrigues rises to No. 4 in T20I batting rankings; three Indian bowlers in top five

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Jemimah Rodrigues has broken into the top five of the T20I batting rankings, moving up from seventh to fourth after compiling 96 runs during India’s five-nil mauling of West Indies. Her most significant contribution came in the final match, in which she struck a half-century.

Following the result, India and West Indies swapped places, with India climbing to fourth after gaining eight points and West Indies dropping to fifth place, after losing ten points. To cap India’s dominance in the rankings, left-arm spinner Radha Yadav climbed from fifth to second after picking seven wickets in the series, just second behind offspinner Deepti Sharma, who took eight wickets to hold on to her fourth place. With legspinner Poonam Yadav ranked five, India are well represented.

Fifteen-year old opener Shafali Verma, too, climbed in the rankings, leapfrogging from 87 to 30 after finishing the series as the highest run-getter with a tally of 157, which included two fifties.

Meanwhile, Pakistan batter Javeria Khan broke into the top 20 in T20Is after amassing 111 runs in the 3-0 thrashing of Bangladesh at home. But Bangladesh themselves had something to cheer about as fast bowler Jahanara Alam, who took nine wickets in the series, climbed 22 spots to 15th.



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Labour pledge to restore Cricket World Cup to free-to-air television

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The Cricket World Cup would be restored to the UK’s list of “crown jewel” sporting events in the event of Labour winning next month’s general election, according to a pledge in the party’s manifesto.

The 107-page document, unveiled at an event in Birmingham on Thursday, includes a section focussing on the importance of sport in helping to build communities and keeping people healthy, adding that it needs to be made “accessible and run in the interests of those who participate in it and love it”.

“Sport enriches our lives, binds communities together and helps us all to stay healthy,” the document read. “We will add the ICC Cricket World Cup to the list of crown jewel sporting events that are broadcast free-to-air.”

The pledge follows on from a recent appearance by senior ECB figures before the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Select Committee, at which the issue of free-to-air access was a central line of enquiry.

Unlike the football and rugby World Cups, the Cricket World Cup is the only one of the UK’s “big three” sporting showpieces that isn’t shown on free-to-air television.

The last free-to-air World Cup was shown on the BBC in 1999, while no international cricket has been broadcast on terrestrial TV in the UK since Channel 4 had the rights to the Ashes in 2005.

A one-off exception was made this summer when the ECB and Sky reached an agreement to allow Channel 4 to share the feed for England’s thrilling World Cup final victory over New Zealand, a decision which helped contribute to peak viewing figures of 8 million across all platforms, 4.5 million of them terrestrially.

That figure, however, still paled compared to the 12.8 million who tuned into ITV earlier this month to watch England’s men play South Africa in the final of the Rugby World Cup, while England Women’s football World Cup campaign in the summer peaked at 11.7 million for their semi-final defeat against USA.

In advance of its DCMS appearance, the ECB released figures which demonstrated the uplifting effect of England’s World Cup win, showing that 3.15 million fans attended cricket events in 2019, an 18 percent rise on the previous record.

Next summer, cricket will see a partial return to terrestrial television, with the launch of the ECB’s new city-based competition, The Hundred, which will be broadcast on Sky and the BBC as part of the latest £1.1 billion rights deal that extends from 2020-2024.

The next Cricket World Cup will take place in India in February and March 2023.



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