Jozi Stars’ title defence hopes are hanging by a thread after losing a fifth successive match in the Mzansi Super League (MSL). Although mathematically it is still possible for them to make the playoffs, they will need more than just their own results to go their way. Despite shuffling their batting line-up, the Stars did not manage to score enough runs and their 129 for 3 was never going to be enough against a strong Paarl Rocks side. James Vince picked up from his undefeated 86 against the Spartans last Sunday, scoring 43 to ensure the Rocks successfully chased down their target inside 17 overs. They move to third on the table, four points behind leaders, the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants.
Will Chris Gayle play his 400th T20 in South Africa?
In his 399th T20 game, Chris Gayle was dropped down the order to No.3 after a poor start, with 46 runs in five innings so far. At first, the move seemed successful. Ryan Rickelton and Reeza Hendricks opened the Stars’ innings with a strong stand of 64 in 9.4 overs before Rickelton was dismissed for 40. That brought Gayle to the crease with enough of a foundation to get going immediately. But Gayle only managed a single before he was struck on the pad by Hardus Viljoen and given out. Replays showed the ball had pitched outside leg but with no DRS, Gayle would not have even been able to review. He is now in danger of leaving the tournament without making much of an impression or completing a personal milestone. Gayle is available for one more match in this tournament when the Stars play the Tshwane Spartans on Sunday. If he plays, it will be his 400th, but the Stars have already hinted they made need to make significant changes to their side.
Tabraiz Shamsi has packed his phone away for this season and is now showing off his skills as a magician in the making. Shamsi keeps a handkerchief in his pocket which turns into a wand, and when he takes a wicket, he brings it out in celebration. The contraption made its first appearance in this edition of the MSL when he had Hendricks caught at long-off. None of Shamsi’s team-mates went too close to him when the catch was taken, perhaps knowing he needed some space, and allowed the Paarl crowd to see their very own Harry Potter at work.
KG on the comeback trail
Kagiso Rabada has not looked his usual sprightly self since the tour of India, until his first ball at Boland Park. It wasn’t the first ball of the innings, as it might ordinarily have been. Rabada was used as first-change after Gayle was given the new ball, and he quickly showed what he is capable of. He fired in a full delivery outside off, and Henry Davids, who was caught on the back foot trying to cut, inside-edged onto leg-stump, which went cartwheeling away. Rabada returned in the 15th over, with the cause all but lost and managed to have something of a last say when he caught Mangaliso Mosehle off his own bowling. A lengthy check for a no-ball showed that Rabada was just on the line and Mosehle had to go. Rabada could have had a third off the next ball but Gayle dropped an Isuru Udana skier at point.
The match was tensely poised with the Paarl Rocks on 64 for 4 halfway through their chase, still needing 66 runs off the final 10 overs when Duanne Olivier released the pressure with an over that cost 15. Vince was the beneficiary of Olivier’s misdirected line down leg and the vacant third man area, where he sent three, successive boundaries. The required run-rate dipped under six an over after that, and dipped to four when Simon Harmer’s second over cost 17. There was no stopping the Rocks from there.
Rachel Trenaman takes leave to focus on mental health
Rachel Trenaman, the Sydney Thunder and New South Wales allrounder who has been named in the Australia A squad to face India A, has taken time away from the game to focus on her mental health.
Trenaman, 18, played twice for the Thunder during this season’s WBBL and was part of the Australia A one-day squad for the series that will take place in Brisbane next week.
She has now stood down from that series and will be rested from the Women’s National Cricket League which resumes in January.
“We’re proud that Rachel was brave enough to speak up, and we’re here for her,” Dominic Thornely, the NSW Breakers head coach, said. “I know the cricket family is right behind her and we wish her the very best.”
Sydney Thunder’s acting general manager Chris Botherway said Trenaman had the full support of the Thunder, Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia.
“Rachel is a highly thought of young person who has the respect of her team-mates, coaches and support staff at Sydney Thunder and NSW Breakers,” he said. “Player health and well-being will always be our top priority and we will provide Rachel with all the time and support she needs to make a full recovery.”
Trenaman is the latest Australian cricketer to step back from the game for mental health reasons this season. Sophie Molineux, the Melbourne Renegades and Australia allrounder, announced last month that she was taking a break which followed the decisions taken by Glenn Maxwell, Will Pucovski and Nic Maddinson.
Pucovski and Maddinson returned for Victoria in the last round of Sheffield Shield matches while Maxwell is back in training with Victoria.
Bob Willis – 1949-2019 | ESPNcricinfo.com
Bob Willis, legendary England fast bowler, dies aged 70
The former England captain and fast bowler, who will be forever synonymous with England’s 1981 Ashes victory, died on December 4.
Icon, survivor, grandee: Farewell Bob Willis, the man with the longest run
Andrew Miller, ESPNcricinfo’s UK editor, writes a moving tribute in memory of England’s mightiest of fast bowlers.
Tributes: ‘An English legend who inspired a generation of fast bowlers’
Willis’ passing, at the age of 70, had the cricketing world in mourning.
‘That was abject, Charles, absolutely pathetic’ – Bob Willis’ best quips
Willis had developed a reputation for his dry, acerbic and generally scathing verdicts during his punditry career working for Sky Sports.
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Mark Butcher, Andrew Miller and Alan Gardner reflect on cricket’s sad loss, and look back on England’s tour of New Zealand.
WATCH – Mark Butcher delivers an emotional tribute to Bob Willis
He joins the Switch Hit team to pay tribute to Willis.
The Cricket Monthly: ‘I don’t think odds of 500-1 have appeared since’
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Archive: The hero who almost didn’t play
What is less well known about Willis is that he was not even in the original squad picked for the Test.
Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme cleared to travel to Australia
NZC confirmed the pair would travel to Perth with the squad on Saturday having come through a training session in Mount Maunganui on Friday. Boult (side strain) and de Grandhomme (abdominal tear) had missed the second Test against England in Hamilton.
“Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme are both making good progress with their injuries and successfully trained today at Bay Oval,” NZC posted on Twitter. “The pair will travel with the team to Perth tomorrow.”
There still remains a question mark over their participation in the day-night Test at Perth Stadium which starts on Thursday, but the progress is encouraging.
Boult, especially, is vital to New Zealand’s hopes of pushing Australia with him potentially being a handful with the pink ball and his side strain was causing the most concern after he picked it up against England in Mount Maunganui.
“I don’t know if I’m really confident, but I’m quietly optimistic they’re tracking where we want them to be,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said earlier this week.
In Boult’s absence, Matt Henry played the second Test against England but New Zealand will need to give serious consideration into introducing the extra pace of uncapped Lockie Ferguson. Tim Southee and Neil Wagner, who has yet to play a Test in Australia, were the other members of the pace attack.
De Grandhomme provides important balance to the New Zealand side. He averages 40.33 with the bat and 29.63 with the ball in 19 Tests. His injury handed a Test debut to Daryl Mitchell who made 73 but went wicketless in Hamilton.
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Bob Willis – 1949-2019 | ESPNcricinfo.com
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