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Chris Silverwood savours “good headaches” as new-look Test team takes shape

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Chris Silverwood, England’s head coach, has praised his young squad for finishing a rollercoaster Test winter on a high, but insisted that the gains made during a come-from-behind series win in South Africa are only the first step in a “two-year project” that culminates with the next tour of Australia in 2021-22.

Victory in Johannesburg capped a dramatic upsurge in form for England’s Test team, which endured a 1-0 series defeat in New Zealand before Christmas before touching rock-bottom in the Boxing Day Test at Centurion, where an illness-ravaged squad were beaten by 107 runs to fall behind in their four-Test series in South Africa.

But from that moment on, and as the Benoni sickness bug was gradually shaken out of their systems, Joe Root’s men found their poise with three wins in a row at Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and the Wanderers, where Mark Wood excelled with nine wickets in a fast and furious player-of-the-match performance.

“It’s been quite a journey since we arrived in South Africa,” Silverwood told Sky Sports. “Obviously to go from the build-up to the first Test, and the result of that first Test, to get to where we are now, is really pleasing.

“[The illness in the squad] was tough but you can’t use it as an excuse,” he added. “The one thing it did do, was it pulled us together as a unit. We had a good chat in the dressing room after the first Test, and you could see the determination on the guys’ faces. So I wasn’t surprised when they came out and played as well as they did, but I’m obviously very proud of them.”

Given that Silverwood had also flown home early from New Zealand due to a family bereavement, he might have been entitled to wonder what he had signed up for, after taking over from Trevor Bayliss at the end of the English season. But, he insisted, the groundwork that England laid on those flat decks in Mount Maunganui and Hamilton were integral to England’s subsequent success.

“We started something in New Zealand, and you can see the blueprint that we said we wanted,” he said. “Big first-innings runs, and we were also learning to take 20 wickets with the Kookaburra ball. So to see it come to fruition – to see some of the youngsters come through and put their hands up, and for the older guys to do the same – is obviously really pleasing.”

The success of England’s core of new players was the clear stand-out feature of the series. Dom Sibley’s century at Cape Town helped turn the series, while his opening partnership with Zak Crawley went from strength to strength; Ollie Pope and Dom Bess played integral roles in the Port Elizabeth win, while Sam Curran chipped in with key runs and wickets throughout.

But Silverwood was particularly pleased with how England’s variety of batting styles helped to ensure regular 400-plus totals.

“To get a batting order that has the ability to get big first-innings runs, you need to create a variation in how they are going to play,” he said. “So you can see the 1, 2, 3 we’ve got [Sibley, Crawley and Joe Denly] go about things in their way, which is completely different to how Rooty, Stokes Pope and Buttler will go about their business.

ALSO READ: Wood’s nine-wicket haul seals England’s 3-1 series win

“I think there’s a nice mix of skills in there, which allows us to have a top seven to build big totals, and equally we’ve seen how the lower order can then be entertaining as well. You saw Woody and Broady here [with an 82-run stand for the tenth wicket]. If you build the platform, anything can happen.”

Wood’s raw pace was England’s big find in the final two Tests. He managed to play back-to-back matches for the first time since 2017, and gave the impression that a new, extended run-up has taken some of the strain out of an action that previously seemed to invite regular injury setbacks.

Silverwood, however, said that England would continue to monitor his fitness on a day-by-day basis, to help ensure that he is able to give his best efforts on the field more regularly. He even hinted that Wood and Jofra Archer, currently labouring with an elbow injury, might be used on a rotational basis in future Test outings.

“We will make to make decisions based on what’s best for him,” said Silverwood of Wood. “We will look at how he trains as well, making sure he’s not wasting all his best deliveries in the nets. Whatever he does, he does it 100 percent. So can we tailor his training to make sure that his best effort goes out on the pitch for us, and equally when he needs to rest, we’ll know we’ve got a backup with Jofra and others to come in.”

“It’s a great headache to have for Rooty as captain and me as head coach,” Silverwood added. “In an ideal situation, we’d like to have two or three fast bowlers kicking around but we don’t have to play them every game. In this Test, Woody comes in and makes an impact, but another day, we can give him a day off because we’ve got Jofra coming in now.”

With England’s next tour of Australia looming in just under two years’ time, Silverwood earmarked Jamie Overton and Olly Stone as the types of 90mph back-up with which England will be looking to augment their squad, and compete with the established names, such as James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes.

“We’ve got these guys to nurture and bring through in a two-year project, for when we get out there [to Australia],” said Silverwood. “But also we’ve got to look after the guys we’ve got.

“As we’ve also seen in this series, your Andersons, your Broads, your Woakes’. I wouldn’t want to dismiss them lightly. Chris has trained so hard all trip. He got his opportunity here and showed once again he’s a class act.”



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RR vs KXIP, IPL 2020, 9th game

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Welcome to ESPNcricinfo’s Rolling Report of the ninth IPL 2020 match, between Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab. Which means we’ll be seeing the likes of Steven Smith, Jofra Archer, KL Rahul and Glenn Maxwell locking horns. Who will come out on top?

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Dettol become naming-rights sponsor of Australia men’s ODIs and T20Is

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In a sponsorship deal fitting for the times, Dettol has become the naming-rights partner for the Australia men’s ODI and T20I series as part of a four-year deal.

They replace Gillette, the previous title sponsors for men’s limited-overs matches, in a deal that also will see them be the naming partner of the men’s support staff – previously Bupa – and also have an association with the women’s team.

The brand contacted Cricket Australia after hearing of its plans to trial disinfectant on cricket balls following the onset of Covid-19 earlier this year. The use of saliva has been banned and while sweat is still permitted at international level the Australia team faced stricter protocols on the recent tour of England which limited where they could use it from.

In the current women’s series between Australia and New Zealand, which is being watched by a limited number of spectators, if the ball gets into the crowd it needs to be sanitised by the umpires before play resumes.

As part of the new deal the company will also supply its product to nearly 3,500 cricket clubs around Australia as the game resumes for the summer amid a range of new health and safety protocols.

“Dettol is such a well-known and trusted brand with a long heritage, both here in Australia and around the world, and their support will give confidence about protecting the return of community and elite cricket this summer,” the Cricket Australia CEO, Nick Hockley, said.

“Beyond this summer, we look forward to working with Dettol to help embed hygienic behavioural change into schools, clubs and communities through cricket.”

Dave Rankine, Regional director for RB Health ANZ, owner of the Dettol brand, said: “We’re excited to bring the expertise of Dettol to Cricket Australia, partnering together to protect the sport so many Australian’s love, from watching our national teams play, to participating in games ourselves through community clubs. Our partnership with Cricket Australia will help to embed important hygiene habits into the lives all Australians as we enter the new normal.”

Following the postponement of New Zealand’s short limited-overs tour to Australia that was scheduled for late January, due to the issues around mandatory quarantine, the only men’s limited-overs series this season will be three ODIs and three T20Is against India.

It remains to be confirmed how India’s tour is finally structured, but the trip is expected to begin with some white-ball cricket before the Test series begins in mid-December.

Earlier this month Vodafone signed on as the naming partner for men’s Test cricket.



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Australians in the IPL, week one

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The IPL has completed its first week and it has already thrown up some eye-catching cricket ranging for boundary-fests in Sharjah to a Super Over. The Australians have been well-represented although it has been a mixed bag for them on the field. Here’s a round-up of how it’s gone

Smith slots back into top gear in a brand new role

Steven Smith‘s concussion that he suffered before the one-day series against England was a bit more severe than appeared the case and he arrived in the UAE with some doubt still surrounding his health. However, he passed the required protocols and showed no ill-effects as he made 69 off 47 balls opening for Rajasthan Royals in their high-scoring victory over Chennai Super Kings. Notably, it was the first time in his entire career across all formats that Smith had opened the batting and he carried that into the second match against Kings XI Punjab where his 50 off 27 balls laid the foundation for a record IPL chase by the Royals.

Stoinis (somehow) steals a Super Over

It’s fair to say Marcus Stoinis started the IPL with a bang, although he also provided a reminder that it’s so often not the good deliveries that take wickets in T20. First of all he rescued Delhi Capitals’ innings from 96 for 6 as he plundered 53 off 21 balls, batting in a middle-order role that is not viewed as his ideal T20 position, which included 30 off the final over. Then after R Ashwin had dislocated his shoulder he was called onto bowl more than may have been expected and was ultimately required to defend 13 off the last over. A six from Mayank Agarwal appeared to have sealed the game with the Kings XI needing 1 off 3 balls, yet somehow a dot was followed by two wickets off full tosses to earn the tie-breaker which the Capitals won comfortably.

Cummins bounces back, Pattinson makes his mark

James Pattinson wasn’t an original selection for Mumbai Indians, instead being picked when Lasith Malinga was ruled out of the tournament, but he has twice bowled impressively with figures of 1 for 27 and 2 for 25. Across the eight overs in the two games he sent down 23 dot balls. Meanwhile, it was a tough start for Pat Cummins as he was clobbered for 49 off three overs against Mumbai Indians but, as great bowlers do, he responded in his next outing against Sunrisers Hyderabad with 1 for 19 – a performance that came top of ESPNcricinfo’s Smart Stats analysis.

Marsh’s tournament over

Already there is one Australian on a plane home. Mitchell Marsh‘s tournament was over barely before it had started when he injured his ankle in his opening over for the Sunrisers. He hobbled out to bat at No. 10 to try and salvage the game, but the signs weren’t good well before he was ruled out of the tournament. After Covid-related logistical challenges Marsh was able to secure a flight back to Perth where he will quarantine for two weeks as he begins his rehab but there is hope he could be available for the Sheffield Shield next month.

What about the rest

Australia’s limited-overs openers, Aaron Finch and David Warner, have made starts so far without quite dominating: a brace of 20s for Finch and 36 off 30 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders for Warner. Josh Hazlewood came into the CSK side against the Capitals and bowled his four overs for 28. It’s been a bit of a slow start for Glenn Maxwell with two single-figure scores and then he only faced nine balls in the run-glut against the Royals on Sunday. Josh Philippe, perhaps a little unexpectedly, found a starting place for Royal Challengers Bangalore, initially in the middle order before moving to No. 3.

Warming the benches

Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile (who is reported to have a few injury niggles), Chris Green, Chris Lynn, Daniel Sams, Billy Stanlake, AJ Tye and Adam Zampa have yet to be selected by their respective franchises.

Reading round-up

Balance and madness – when Marcus Stoinis gets it right
Why Pat Cummins, and not Shubman Gill, is the Smart Stats player of the match
Aaron Finch feels Josh Philippe can succeed in finisher role

Performance of the week

There’s a few worthy of consideration, but for the sheer impact he had across the whole game it’s hard to look past Marcus Stoinis





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