Victoria 5 for 318 (Maddinson 95, Gotch 59*, Lyon 3-86) v New South Wales
Nic Maddinson fell five short of a century but shook off his Big Bash struggles and returned to the type of Sheffield Shield form that earned him an Australia A call-up earlier this season, as bottom-placed Victoria enjoyed a solid opening day against runaway leaders New South Wales at the SCG.
Maddinson missed the chance for his second Shield hundred of the season when he charged and missed at Steve O’Keefe to give the left-arm spinner his 300th first-class wicket. Nathan Lyon worked his way into Victoria’s middle-order, but Seb Gotch‘s half-century consolidated their position alongside Travis Dean, who returned to the crease having earlier retired hurt when he was struck in the box, in an unbroken stand of 74.
Maddinson withdrew himself from the squad to face Pakistan A in November for mental-health reasons, but returned to action before the Shield stopped for the BBL, reaching the mid-season break with 448 runs. Across 14 BBL innings for the Melbourne Stars, he managed just 143 runs, but there was no hangover as he switched the green kit back to a white one. After arriving in the eighth over, when Marcus Harris was pinned lbw by Harry Conway, he was unsurprisingly tested by a few short deliveries but was quickly on to the pull and came through unscathed on a surface that did not have a huge amount of pace.
He lofted Lyon’s fifth ball straight for a six as he and Peter Handscomb, who looked in very good touch before he was lbw on the back foot, allowed Victoria to skip along at four an over after a careful start against the accuracy of Conway and Trent Copeland.
Dean had been forced to retire hurt on 11 during the morning session when he was struck by Copeland. He struggled to stand for a significant period of time, before carefully walking off the field with the doctor and physio.
Lyon chipped away either side of Maddinson being stumped, as he had Matt Short lbw, also on the back foot, and Will Sutherland caught at midwicket off a slog-sweep. At 5 for 244, New South Wales might have had visions of keeping Victoria to around 300, but Gotch stood firm with a 128-ball half-century.
Having scored 233 off the 63 overs until tea, the final session was more of a grind for the visitors as they added 85 off 33 overs.
Oman’s Yousef Abdulrahim Al Balushi banned for seven years
The ICC has banned Oman player Yousuf Al Balushi from all cricket for seven years after he accepted four charges of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code. The charges relate to attempting to influence team members to engage in corruption during the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifier, played in the UAE.
Balushi had been suspended last month for the same offence, and has now been formally slapped with the sanction after he “chose to admit the charges and agreed the sanction with the ICC in lieu of an Anti-Corruption Tribunal hearing,” an ICC release said.
While Alex Marshall, the ICC’s general manager for Integrity, called Balushi’s offence “very serious”, he also revealed that the ban could have been “significantly longer” had Balushi not cooperated with the investigation and admitted his guilt.
“This is a very serious offence where a player attempted but failed to get a team mate to engage in corrupt activity in high profile games and this is reflected in the severity of the sentence,” Marshall said in the ICC statement. “Without Mr Balushi’s admission of guilt and full cooperation throughout our investigation, the ban could have been significantly longer. The player has also indicated that he is willing to contribute to future integrity education programmes on our behalf to help younger players learn from his mistakes.”
The ACU had charged Al Balushi for breaching its code on the following four counts:
Article 2.1.1: Being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive in any way the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of matches in the ICC World T20 Qualifiers 2019.
Article 2.1.4: Attempting to solicit, induce, entice, persuade, encourage or intentionally facilitate a Participant to breach Article 2.1.
Article 2.4.4: Failing to report the approaches or invitations that you received from three different individuals to be a party to an agreement or effort to fix matches in the ICC World T20 Qualifiers 2019.
Article 2.4.7: Obstructing or delaying an investigation carried out by the ACU in relation to possible Corrupt Conduct under the Code, including by concealing or tampering with information that may be relevant to that investigation and/or that may be evidence of or lead to the discovery of evidence of Corrupt Conduct under the Code.
The ICC’s investigation found that Balushi had been approached in August 2019 by someone he knew from playing in an unsanctioned Arabian Carnival League match in Bahrain. The individual, referred to as Mr X by the ICC, asked Balushi if they could “do some work together”, asking for Balushi’s help to fix matches in the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifiers.
Subsequently, Mr X introduced Balushi to two other men (Mr Y and Mr Z) who told him he needed to get a particular Oman player on board. The fix would involve this player getting out for less than a pre-agreed amount of runs. To show that the fix was on, the player would have to use an orange or black coloured grip on his bat, and he would then have to act on a signal from Mr Y and Mr Z, who would be in the stands.
Balushi messaged the player and put the offer to him, but the approach was immediately rejected and reported to the ICC’s anti-corruption unit. Balushi learned of the approach being reported, and on being told that the ACU would interview him and also look at his phone messages, he deleted the messages. Balushi did not report the approaches made to him and accepted he had deleted incriminating messages on his phone, which then led to the punishment.
Recent Match Report – Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe Only Test 2020
Lunch Bangladesh 351 for 3 (Haque 119*, Rahim 99*, Tshuma 1-58) lead Zimbabwe 265 by 86 runs
Bangladesh raced into the lead with a batting masterclass from Mominul Haque and Mushfiqur Rahim on the third morning. Haque raised his ninth Test century, his first as captain, and the first by a Bangladesh batsman in more than a year. Rahim followed close behind him, cruising to 99 not out as their partnership quickly assumed ominous proportions. By the time lunch was called, they had added an unbroken 179 in concert, with 111 coming in the first session at virtually a run a minute, and Bangladesh’s lead had swelled to 86.
Haque had done much of the hard work yesterday afternoon, and this morning his first task was to get himself back into the zone. It didn’t take too long, and after conceding a couple of overs to the bowlers he joined Rahim in launching an assault on left-arm spinner Ainsley Ndlovu, his rasping cover drive the coda to an over that brought 15 runs.
Rahim was soon scoring freely on both sides of the wicket, but he favoured the glide through gully as he found both the pace of Zimbabwe’s bowlers and the benign nature of the pitch very much to his liking. With the third-man boundary left invitingly open, Rahim twice dabbed Ndlovu down to the boundary there early on, and then repeated the dose against Victor Nyauchi to bring up his own fifty and raise the century stand.
At the other end, Haque took his team ahead of Zimbabwe’s first-innings effort with a controlled push through point – with only three wickets down, Bangladesh well and truly had a platform set from which to greatly extend their lead. The visitors took the new ball as soon as it was available, but if anything the hardness of the ball served only to galvanize the set batsmen.
Haque slotted the cleanest of drives through extra cover to raise his ninth Test ton, drawing level with Tamim Iqbal in that regard, and also equalling Craig Ervine’s captain’s knock: this is the first time in Tests that two players have made their first hundreds as Test captains in the same game. The feast of runs continued unabated with a boundary in virtually every over before drinks, and without much let-up in the scoring rate thereafter.
While Haque focused his attentions on scoring in the “V”, Rahim profited further still from the late cut and punished Zimbabwe’s bowlers whenever their line strayed. A powerful sweep off Ndlovu in the final over before lunch took him to 99 not out, but he was content to play out the remaining two deliveries and make everyone wait, knowing there would be plenty of time to gorge himself this afternoon.
More than 20 overs passed without a single maiden in the session, and with Haque and Rahim looking imperious Zimbabwe have been left increasingly bereft of options. The spectre of a mammoth stand this afternoon looms large.
ICC events proposal for 2023-31 may push players away from internationals – FICA
Cricket’s global governors risk increasing the rate of player drain from internationals to the domestic Twenty20 league circuit should they push ahead with an ICC proposal to pack the cricket calendar with at least one major men’s event every year from 2023 to 2031, according to the global players’ body FICA.
After the boards of India, England and Australia all expressed varying degrees of reservation about the proposal, details of which were revealed by ESPNcricinfo last week, FICA’s chief executive Tom Moffat has questioned how discussions about the future schedule of the game “appear to be taking place purely through the commercial lens”.
Ahead of a critical round of meetings for the game’s governing body next month where a host of scheduling and governance issues are to be thrashed out, Moffat also queried whether the proposed creation of a new Twenty20 “Champions Cup” to be played over 48 matches by 10 teams would detract from the World Cup as the game’s foremost international white-ball event.
“We question the way that this is being done. Simply adding events to the calendar without looking at the global playing schedule in a holistic way isn’t going to solve many of the existing incoherencies and imbalances,” Moffat told ESPNcricinfo. “That requires looking at ICC events, but also at the rest of the game, including the leagues landscape, bilateral cricket, and how they balance with one another. We are supportive of measures that are taken with a view to protecting and growing the global game in a holistic way.
“The game desperately needs an easier to follow global structure. At the moment it’s difficult to see how it’s all going to fit, particularly when all of these discussions appear to be taking place purely through the commercial lens, and without the proper engagement of the players collectively. We question why the ICC and Boards aren’t sitting down with us/the players and developing some fundamental principles, agreed with all key stakeholders, which should underpin the global cricketing calendar, before proceeding to fill it up.
“Decisions made by players, especially in regard to club v country, are a key factor in driving the future direction of the game, and yet the players aren’t included in the discussion. FICA also won’t be supporting proposals, which only look after the interests of a few of the bigger countries.”
As for the Champions Cup, which alongside a smaller, 50-over equivalent of similar dimensions to the defunct Champions Trophy, is geared at creating a more stable flow of ICC events revenue to member nations in each year of the broadcast rights cycle, Moffat said that specific player feedback was being sought.
“We will be getting player views on that specific issue,” Moffat said. “The devil is in the detail and we need to understand what these may look like in order to have informed discussions with them on this. We know that players want events that mean something, have relevance and importance, so if additional events don’t do that, or detract from events that do, that needs to be looked at.
“We have been engaged in a pretty token way. We have had some surface level discussions but haven’t been provided with the detail of proposals. The players should be properly engaged and a critical part of these discussions. They are ultimately the ones who put on the performances that make the game great. Their views should be taken seriously. We will be continuing to get player views, including on how they want us to approach these issues in light of the way the ICC continues to approach them.”
While numerous key administrators have cited player workload as among their thoughts during this round of discussions – which have also featured debate over whether or not to move to mandatory four-day Test matches to clear additional room in the calendar – Moffat said that the game needed a more rigorous approach to the matter. He also stated that the ICC and its members needed to look closely at stronger measures to retain players in international cricket, including the possibility of revenue pooling for more equitable player pay from country to country.
“We have seen some comments around player workload as a potential reason not to have additional ICC events,” he said. “We question whether that is in fact a genuine concern of either the boards or the ICC. If it is a genuine concern for them, they would proactively work with us/players to develop enforceable global minimum standards around player health, safety, and security, which would include player workload.
“One of the key risks for the global game, which we have identified over a number of years, is flight of talent away from the international game, now that there is an alternative domestic leagues market for players to play in. There are numerous ways to address that, including looking at more coherent scheduling, and scheduling windows to prevent scheduling overlay, as well as ensuring an economic ability for more countries to retain their best talent, and keep international cricket strong and growing. There is scope to introduce many more collective global measures that benefit both the players and the game.”
There is some sympathy among the players for the complexity of the task facing administrators over the next month and beyond. David Warner, the Australia opening batsman, pondered the challenges during his side’s current limited-overs tour of South Africa.
“I’ve got no idea how we’re going to fit that in every year,” he said. “You’ve got to find time to play all the other stuff around the World Cup in a World Cup year let alone trying to fit something else in. That’s obviously for the ICC to think about that and then the boards all have to agree. That’s going to be a challenge and one where I’m glad just being a player.”
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