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Will Porterfield steps down as Ireland captain, Andrew Balbirnie named as replacement

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William Porterfield has stepped down as Ireland’s captain after 11 years in the role. Andrew Balbirnie, the middle-order batsman, will replace him as Test and 50-over captain, while Gary Wilson will continue in the T20 job.

Porterfield led Ireland in 253 games after taking over from Trent Johnston in 2008, captaining in two 50-over World Cups and five World T20s as well as their first-ever Test match, against Pakistan at Malahide in May 2018. He intends to continue playing international cricket.

“It has been an incredible journey, and a fantastic honour to have captained my country over the past 11 and a half years,” Porterfield said. “There have been many highs, along with a few lows along the way, but I can honestly say that it has been thoroughly enjoyable. To have been able to lead Ireland out at various World Cups, through to our first Test against Pakistan, and again at Lord’s in the summer, have been but a few of these highlights. I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to have done so.”

“I feel, and in consultation with Cricket Ireland, that now is the right time to hand over that mantle. With the ODI league starting in the summer it will allow Balbo [Balbirnie] time to get into the swing of things. I feel that the selectors have made a great choice in appointing Balbo and that it has come at a great time for him personally being on top of his game, and with more to come. Having spoken to him, I know how honoured and excited he is to get going. I’m looking forward to helping and supporting Balbo in any way I can, and seeing him lead Ireland forward.”

Balbirnie, 28, becomes Ireland’s second Test captain and fifth ODI skipper. He had been capped 123 times since his debut in 2010, and has led the ‘A’ team and Ireland Under-19s in the past.

“To be asked to captain my country is an absolute honour and one that I am very excited about as we move into a busy new year,” Balbirnie said. “It’s a proud moment not just for me but also for my family and everyone who has been there on my cricket journey so far – especially my coaches, teammates and friends at Pembroke Cricket Club.

“Since 2008 William [Porterfield] has been an amazing leader on and off the field, not just to me but anyone who has been lucky to represent Ireland. Taking over from our greatest captain will certainly be a hard act to follow but one I’m looking forward to getting into. William still has a huge role to play in this team going forward and I look forward to working with him over the next couple of years.

“We are very lucky that we are entering arguably the most exciting period to be an Irish cricketer, so to be able to lead the guys into this will be a great honour and challenge, and one that I’m looking forward to immensely.”

Andrew White, the chair of national men’s selectors, said: “William has been a remarkable captain, and we have been fortunate over such a long period to have his skills and experience to draw on. His leadership abilities on the field have been clear for all to see, but what is, and always has been, his greatest quality is his off-field leadership and support that has benefitted numerous coaches and players over a long period of time.

“Porty has also been integral to the development of the national pathway system in Ireland, helping to shape and advise on what is now a comprehensive programme that is starting to bring through local talent and mould that next generation of Irish cricketer.”

“However, there comes a time when that baton is handed over, and in the Test and ODI formats we had identified the leadership potential in Andrew [Balbirnie] early on. Succession planning in international sport is so important these days, and Andrew has certainly developed and grown in confidence and stature over recent years. It is often said that the weight of captaincy can weigh heavy on some players, but we believe Andrew is someone who has the instincts and resolve to carry that weight and excel.

“Over the past two years we have been on a process of transition, and with our new Test member status, entry into the Future Tours Programme, and combined with being on the cusp of entering the new ICC Cricket World Cup Super League in 2020, we believe this is a good time to for Andrew to begin his captaincy journey and we wish him well.”

Balbirnie’s first outing as captain will come in the Caribbean, where Ireland play three ODIs and three T20Is at the start of next year.



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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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