The Sheffield Shield season of two halves is over, at least for now. Cricket Australia has announced the Kookaburra ball would be used throughout the competition rather than the Dukes coming into play for latter part of the tournament after the Big Bash.
The Dukes has been in use since 2016-17, with the primary aim of giving Australian players more practice against the type of ball (although a modified version) that had often troubled them for a decade in England. Last year, the Ashes was retained in England for the first time since 2001 so, in that sense, the plan had come together although it hadn’t always enjoyed rave reviews on the domestic circuit.
But who fared best when it was in play? We take a look at some of the numbers from the last four years of the Shield.
In the runs
Victoria opener Marcus Harris, who played the last three Tests of the Ashes, is the top run-scorer against the Dukes ball. The form that earned Matthew Wade a recall for that tour is highlighted by his numbers – including a Dukes average of 59.38 – while Marnus Labuschagne’s far more mundane numbers highlight the speed of his development over the last 12 months where he’s scored runs against anything. New South Wales’ Daniel Hughes is again highlighted as one of the most consistent players in the Shield while Nic Maddinson‘s prolific form in the last two seasons is reflected.
In terms of the difference between the top 15 run-scorers against the Dukes and their Kookaburra record, Ed Cowan, who retired in 2018, has the biggest swing and could lay claim to being the king of Dukes batting. Matt Renshaw, who has slipped well down the Test pecking order, also has an outstanding return as does Hilton Cartwright despite the last two seasons being much more of a struggle.
Overall, the batting average against the Dukes was 27.44 compared to 30.05 against the Kookaburra.
In the wickets
The bowling list is unsurprisingly dominated by the seamers, although that is likely more a reflection of overall Sheffield Shield cricket over recent years than specifically the ball (more on that in a moment). The returns reinforce why Michael Neser and Peter Siddle were part of the Ashes squad and plenty of others in the table were in the debate ahead of that tour. James Pattinson‘s Dukes average of 14.92 is eye-catching.
Of those in the top 15 wicket-takers with the Dukes, Nick Winter, the left-armer from South Australia, has the biggest difference in the average in favour of that ball compared to the Kookaburra closely followed by Western Australia’s David Moody. The one spinner to make the list, Victoria’s left-armer Jon Holland, has similar figures with both.
In a spin
It’s the spin numbers overall that are interesting to look at, given the talk of the health of spin bowling (beyond Nathan Lyon) in Australian first-class cricket. Bringing spin more into the game was mentioned in the Cricket Australia release about moving back to Kookaburra all season.
In fact, over the last four seasons, spin has taken wickets at five runs fewer with the Dukes than the Kookaburra. And, if you compare it to the three seasons prior to when the different types of balls were used, the Dukes average is three runs better off with spin averaging 38.36 from 2013-14 to 2015-16. However, what is very noticeable is the reducing number of overs bowled by spinners in those four seasons even taking into account last season was truncated by four games due to Covid-19.
There are spinners, not least Shane Warne, who have said how the Dukes is a better ball for the art. It would appear more needs to change in Australian domestic cricket than just the ball to revive the fortune of spinners.
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England v Pakistan, 1st Test, Manchester
This is the third Test being played in a row at Old Trafford, and we do expect some tough batting conditions. With two high-quality bowling sides, the batsmen may find runs a bit hard to come by. Pack your team with as many bowlers as possible to maximise points.
Out of the 61 wickets that fell in the two Tests between England and West Indies, 50 fell to pacers, while spinners took 11. The pacers averaged 27.44 and struck once every 56 deliveries, while the spinners averaged 51.63 and struck once every 86 deliveries.
Our XI: Rory Burns, Abid Ali, Joe Root, Babar Azam, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Naseem Shah, Yasir Shah, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Shaheen Shah Afridi
NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates.
Captain: Ben Stokes
Stokes was the most impactful player for England against West Indies with his nine wickets and 363 runs. Stokes is once again the captain for us, since he is most likely to fetch maximum points per game.
Vice-captain: Shaheen Shah Afridi
A slightly left-field pick for vice-captain pick but there is a logic: England have not played too many left-arm seamers at home since 2017, only Mohammad Amir and Mitchell Starc. England have lost 11 wickets at an average of 25 and scored 275 runs from 559 deliveries against Starc and Amir.
Joe Root: Root has not scored the runs he would have wanted to so far this summer, but he can take inspiration from the last time England met Pakistan in Manchester – Root scored 254 runs from 406 balls to help England win the Test then. He is also an excellent player of spin and will be key in handling the likes of Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan.
Babar Azam: Azam started the 2018 tour of England with a score of 68 before retiring hurt after being hit on his arm by Stokes. Since the start of 2019, Azam averages 75.90 with four centuries and three fifties in 12 innings. His form could be the difference between the two teams.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad: Anderson and Broad have an excellent record against the Pakistan top order. While Anderson has dismissed Shan Masood on six occasions, the duo has also dismissed Azhar Ali 13 times. Ali, in fact, has just 303 runs from 955 deliveries against the two. If there is some swing on offer early on, Broad and Anderson could have a field day.
Naseem Shah: Shah has had an impressive start to his Test career, striking once every 46 deliveries. He has already taken one five-wicket haul and a four-wicket haul along with a Test hat trick. In favourable bowling conditions, he should be one to watch out for.
Rory Burns: Burns started slowly in the Test series against West Indies but peaked in the final Test, scoring 57 and 90. That was at the same venue. Burns and Dom Sibley have been key to setting up games for England and it will not be any different against Pakistan – pick one of them for sure, and you are likely to be rewarded.
Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs England 1st Test 2020
Pakistan 139 for 2 (Azam 69*, Masood 46*) v England
A moment of silence to remember those who have lost their lives in the Covid-19 pandemic before play began under heavy skies put the match in perspective and emphasised the efforts of both countries to stage this contest behind closed doors at Emirates Old Trafford.
Having been in England for a month, preparing in the relative anonymity provided by England’s series against West Indies, Pakistan arrived to their first Test since February as questions swirled over their readiness to face an opposition which has three matches’ worth of competition fitness in them.
By the time rain brought about an early tea and delayed the evening session by nearly three hours, it was batsmen Azam and Masood who looked to be in a groove against a bowling attack that seemed to have turned rusty at lunch.
After his captain, Azhar Ali, won the toss and elected to bat first – opposite number Joe Root said he would have done the same – Pakistan opener Masood withstood a tricky period against Stuart Broad and James Anderson first up, accompanied by Abid Ali in a partnership that was approaching fifty when Jofra Archer entered the attack.
Having rounded off his first over with a couple of steepling bouncers which were evaded well by Abid, Archer struck with the first ball of his second over when he bowled Abid with a beauty through the gate and into off stump, thus ending a patient start by Abid and the partnership on 46.
After a brief rain interruption, Masood settled, guiding Archer through the bare gully region with smart, soft hands for four.
But then Chris Woakes, who had relieved Anderson after five overs, struck with a full delivery that thwacked Azhar Ali on the pad in line and sent him on his way for a six-ball duck, despite his swift call for a review, which only confirmed the lbw decision.
That brought Azam to the crease and he showed his class, somehow escaping a testing first delivery from Woakes that narrowly missed the outside edge and off stump and negotiating the ever-challenging Archer.
But it was against Anderson after lunch that Azam settled into his stride, finding the boundary three times in as many overs to bring his spell to a swift end.
Anderson even became the first bowler to be called for a front-foot no-ball – a rarity for him – by the third umpire in Tests under the new system being trialled during this series when he over-stepped bowling to Azam in the 31st over.
Meanwhile, Masood was enjoying almost as good a time against Broad and, by the time Root turned to Archer and the offspin of Dom Bess, the batsmen were in a decent flow. They put on 78 runs together and, as Azam brought up his half-century off just 70 balls with a punch into the covers off Bess and then passed it with two runs behind square off Archer, the rain hit.
By that stage, Masood had moved to 45 not out, Pakistan had recovered from 43 for 2 to 121 for 2 and the players faced a long stay in the dressing rooms.
Manchester was eventually bathed in bright sunshine but, by the end of mopping-up operations, play resumed under lights with the dim skies back overhead.
Archer, who had bowled one ball before the lengthy stoppage, finished his over with plenty of short stuff, which meant Root was forced to turn back to spin, bringing himself on with Bess.
Masood added just one run, having faced 152 balls – more than any other visiting opener in England since 2016 – for his 46 not out before bad light forced play to be abandoned for the day.
In the course of his innings, Masood had two lives, both from Jos Buttler off the bowling of Bess. On 45, he survived an edge through to the keeper, and he hadn’t added to his score when, after the rain break, he charged at Bess, attempted to hit the ball to the leg side but missed, only to be saved when the ball bounced out of Jos Buttler’s gloves. At the other end, Azam had moved to an unbeaten 69 off 100 balls in a third-wicket stand of 96.
Vivo pulls out as IPL 2020 title sponsors
IPL title rights holders Vivo have pulled out of this year’s tournament, ESPNcricinfo understands. The development follows a public outcry over the tournament’s association with Vivo, a Chinese company, following clashes at the India-China border in June.
Neither the BCCI nor Vivo were available for comment on the issue.
In June, the BCCI had said it would “review” the sponsorship deals concerning the IPL, but did not name any brand. “Taking note of the border skirmish that resulted in the martyrdom of our brave jawans, the IPL Governing Council has convened a meeting next week to review IPL’s various sponsorship deals,” BCCI said in a tweet posted on June 19.
According to India Today Vivo would return as IPL’s title sponsor for the 2022 and 2023 editions. It also has reported that the BCCI will issue a tender in the coming days to find a title sponsor for the 2020 IPL season.
Two days ago, the BCCI’s formal announcement – signed by secretary Jay Shah – of the IPL being played in the UAE between September 15 and November 10 mentioned Vivo as the title sponsor.
The decision is not likely to significantly affect the franchises financially. ESPNcricinfo spoke with several franchises, each of whom said that while the IPL was yet to inform them of the development, they were not fussed at the news. It is understood each franchise gets approximately Rs 20 crore per year from the Vivo contract. As far they are concerned, as long as the BCCI can rope in a replacement for Vivo, this development will not have any impact on them.
Vivo had bagged the title sponsorship for two years initially in 2015, and retained the rights signing a five-year contract (2017-22), paying about USD 341 million.
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