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Match Preview – England vs Ireland, Ireland tour of England 2020, 3rd ODI

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It seems a bit patronising to pick out the positives when a side has been dispatched twice in three days, with 133 balls to spare on the first occasion, and 105 on the second. But when those positives centre around the vastly assured arrival of Ireland’s newest recruit, Curtis Campher, then it’s only reasonable to doff the cap in acknowledgement.

It’s early, after all, in one-day cricket’s next four-year cycle – England’s 20 points from two games are the very first entries in the new ICC Super League that will determine qualification for the 2023 World Cup. And given Ireland’s struggles to move on from the golden generation that starred at the 2007 and 2011 events but failed to qualify in 2019, any shoot of recovery for the men in green is to be welcomed, especially one that has already been proven to be quite so sturdy.

After a brace of innings-salvaging half-centuries and three golden-armed wickets in his first two ODIs, Campher is currently averaging 127 with the bat and 25.33 with the ball – not bad for a 21-year-old. But for all his all-round prowess, can he possibly make enough of a difference to secure a consolation win against the world champions? All the signs suggest it is unlikely.

After all, England themselves have barely pootled along in anything more than third gear so far – both matches featured lapses in the field and stumbles with the bat that more seasoned opponents might have seized upon. And yet Jonny Bairstow‘s staggering burst of speed in his record-equalling half-century on Saturday was a reminder of the extraordinary power that this set of cricketers contain in their ranks.

Even in the absence of such marquee players as Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Joe Root, England have an enviable depth of free-flowing strokemakers – one of whom, Sam Billings, has seized on his rare opportunity for a starting berth in the 50-over team, having been limited to 10 intermittent outings in the previous four years.

Twice in the first two games, Billings was the mid-innings bulwark that his team required to guard against embarrassment, and with the bio-secure summer set to keep the big dogs at arm’s length for a while yet, he’s in the form and frame of mind to make up for the agonies – physical and mental – that he endured in a cruel 2019.

Billings’ batting sidekick in the second match was also England’s outstanding bowler of the series so far, and another man with ample incentive not to let the summer of 2019 dominate this team’s narrative forevermore. David Willey was the luckless man to make way for Jofra Archer in England’s final World Cup squad, and after taking some time to lick his wounds, he’s back with a point or seven to prove.

You would put Reece Topley in the same bracket, only for another injury setback to rule him out of Tuesday’s game. On the face of it, the third ODI will be a dead-rubber contest in a fallow period of the international cycle. But there’s a hunger to prove some timely points on both sides that will keep the intensity high all the same.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)

England WWWLW
Ireland LLLLL

In the spotlight

The peaks of Jason Roy‘s ODI career are as high as any England batsman has ever climbed – his 180 against Australia at Melbourne in January 2018 remains a national record, while his opening partnership with Bairstow is already a statistical supernova. But in between whiles, he’s endured a few troughs as well, including his first-over dismissal on Saturday which was the 14th of an ODI career that began (with a first-baller…) immediately after the 2015 World Cup – that is twice as many as the next man on the list, New Zealand’s Martin Guptill, with six. Roy will doubtless carry on going for his strokes from the outset of an innings, safe in the knowledge that England value his lack of inhibition at the top of the order. But he’ll feel he’s due a score nonetheless after a fallow start to his summer, which included another duck for England Lions in last week’s warm-up.

Josh Little might not have played in the second ODI had it not been for Barry McCarthy’s injury misfortune in the opening fixture. But his unleashing on the series was the spark that Ireland’s bowling attack desperately needed, as he scalped three prime wickets in a feisty display that culminated in an ICC reprimand for his fruity send-off to Bairstow. That rap on the knuckles notwithstanding, the fire in his belly was plain to see as he bombed out both Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali for ducks to leave England’s chase looking momentarily forlorn. His left-arm angle and ingrained aggression give a slightly samey seam attack a vital point of difference, and at the age of 20, he’s got time on his side to become an indispensable factor in Ireland’s regeneration.

Team news

With the series secure, it’s possible that England will fiddle their options to give Liam Livingstone an outing in the middle order, though it’s not entirely clear who might make way for him. James Vince hasn’t done terribly in compiling a pair of stereotypically fluent cameos (and besides, his seam bowling surely earned him another outing…), while Tom Banton needs game-time to extract his full potential. It’s not impossible that Morgan himself will take a rain check for this one. With the ball, Topley grew into his first match in four years after a hesitant first over, but a left groin strain will keep him out for the next couple of weeks – which could mean a return for Tom Curran and his death-overs wiles.

England: (possible) 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 3 James Vince / Liam Livingstone, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Sam Billings, 6 Tom Banton, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 David Willey, 9 Tom Curran, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Saqib Mahmood

Will Porterfield has been a notable absentee for Ireland in the first two games, with the new captain Andy Balbirnie stamping his authority on a team brimful of youth. But, even with top-order runs at a premium, the ex-skipper’s experience may not be sufficient to earn him a recall – Balbirnie hinted that the youth policy was “sink or swim” in the wake of Saturday’s loss. The selectors delayed naming a 14-man squad until the morning of the game, with Mark Adair added to the group after missing the first two ODIs with his ankle still causing him problems on the road back from a long lay-off. Adair was Ireland’s leading wicket-taker in 2019 across formats, and looks likely to play.

Ireland: (possible) 1 Paul Stirling, 2 Gareth Delany, 3 Andy Balbirnie (capt), 4 Harry Tector, 5 Kevin O’Brien, 6 Lorcan Tucker (wk), 7 Curtis Campher, 8 Simi Singh/Craig Young, 9 Andy McBrine, 10 Mark Adair, 11 Josh Little

Pitch and conditions

The second match was played on the same pitch as the first, but this third game will take place on a fresh strip, which may persuade Balbirnie to aim for third time lucky with the bat and try to take first use once again. Certainly the weather is set fair, with high cloud and temperatures in the low 20s Celsius, which would imply little atmospheric assistance given the afternoon start.

Stats and trivia

  • England’s victory on Saturday was their 10th in 11 completed ODI encounters with Ireland since 2006, with the famous loss at Bangalore in 2011 the only loss.

  • The culmination of England and Ireland’s maiden three-match series means the two sides will have played as many matches in a week as they had contested in the previous four years.

  • Andy Balbirnie needs 72 more runs to reach 2000 in ODIs

Quotes

“I’m not going to lie, it does feel unnatural at the moment. It’s about giving myself a chance because I know I can catch up. If I’m in for 40, 50 balls, I back myself to catch up. But I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, it’s the first few times I’ve batted there so I’m not expecting too much.”
Tom Banton is still getting used to the No.4 berth in England’s ODI line-up.

“One of us has to go in and get a big score. We’re well aware of that. I can’t speak for Andy or Paul, but I’m not putting any extra pressure on myself to go out tomorrow and try prove people wrong. I’ll just try to play my own game, and if the ball’s there to hit, I’ll try and hit it.”
Kevin O’Brien knows that Ireland’s senior batsmen need to step up



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Dane Vilas, Cameron Delport face tricky times as UK’s transition period with EU nears conclusion

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South African Dane Vilas and Cameron Delport‘s hopes of continuing to play in county cricket as local players courtesy their ancestry visas have been dealt a terminal blow, after the ECB confirmed that they would not be exempted from the cancellation of Kolpak registrations when the UK’s transition period with the European Union (EU) ends on December 31, 2020.

Alan Fordham, the ECB’s head of first-class cricket operations, sent a letter to the counties, the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) and the relevant boards last week, setting out the changes that would be made to eligibility registrations following the end of the transition period. That included the long-anticipated cancellation of Kolpak registrations and confirmation that EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK would continue to qualify as local players.

After lobbying from the PCA, the ECB had confirmed this July that counties would be able to field two overseas players rather than one in both the County Championship and the One-Day Cup in order to protect the jobs of players on Kolpak deals.

ALSO READ: ECB clarifies player retention plans for postponed Hundred

Both Vilas and Delport had appealed to the ECB in the hope that their ancestry visas would mean they remained eligible to play as non-overseas players for Lancashire and Essex respectively, and both remained optimistic when contacted by ESPNcricinfo last week.

But Fordham’s letter, published on the ECB’s website, affirmed that the cancellation of Kolpak registrations would “apply regardless of whether such player currently holds, or is able to obtain, an ancestral or family visa giving them the right to work in the UK”.

ESPNcricinfo understands that the changes have been approved by the ECB board and are not pending appeals. It is unclear, however, whether the ruling will face any legal challenge from players affected at this stage.

“Confirmation that EU nationals would only be eligible if they have settled or pre-settled status came as a blow to Dutch cricket as well, seemingly ending the pathway for young players to gain experience at the county level – much like the now first-class-veteran Ryan ten Doeschate – unless they move to the UK on a permanent basis”

Vilas, 35, is expected to stay at Lancashire next season despite the ruling. Since signing for the club in 2017, he has settled in London with his wife Pippa, whose ancestral visa means that he has – and would continue to have – the right to live and work in the UK. Lancashire have previously given him guarantees that he would stay on as an overseas player. That said, he is unlikely to retain his top-bracket contract in the Hundred with the Manchester Originals, competing for one of three overseas spots rather than being one of the better local players available.

For Delport, meanwhile, the ruling could be the first step on his return to the international fold. He has previously held conversations with South Africa’s director of cricket Graeme Smith and head coach Mark Boucher about the possibility of playing for his native country in the 2021 T20 World Cup, and publicly revealed his intentions to represent them while speaking to ESPNcricinfo last month.

In practice, many players on Kolpak registrations – including Simon Harmer, Duanne Olivier and Stiaan van Zyl – will become their respective counties’ overseas player next year, while a handful – like Fidel Edwards and David Wiese – are expected to be released at the end of the season.

Confirmation that EU nationals would only be eligible if they have settled or pre-settled status came as a blow to Dutch cricket as well, seemingly ending the pathway for young players to gain experience at the county level – much like the now first-class-veteran Ryan ten Doeschate – unless they move to the UK on a permanent basis.



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Essex captain Tom Westley issues apology after beer poured on Muslim player

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Essex captain Tom Westley has issued an apology on behalf of his team following an incident at Lord’s which saw alcohol poured over a young Muslim player.

Essex lifted the Bob Willis Trophy on Sunday, triggering scenes of jubilation on the balcony of their dressing room at Lord’s. Amid the photographs of those moments, Feroze Khushi, a 21-year-old batsman who played four games in the group stage of the tournament, is seen grimacing as beer is poured over his head by another young player on the staff. ESPNcricinfo has chosen not to name that player or show photographs which might be deemed incriminating.

ALSO READ: Essex admit ‘work needs to be done’ after player pictured pouring alcohol over Muslim team-mate

While Essex released a statement on Monday admitting the celebrations “did not meet the inclusive values” of the club, they stopped short of offering an apology. Westley, at the end of his first season as captain, has now corrected that and admitted the squad are “disappointed” they let the incident happen and determined to “be more responsible” in future.

“On behalf of myself and the team, we would like to apologise for any offence that was caused during our celebrations at Lord’s on Sunday,” Westley said. “At Essex, we believe we have built a strong dressing-room culture that supports one another both on and off the field.

“As a group, we have come together today and discussed the event and on reflection, we are disappointed that we let this happen.

“Moving forward, the squad will be more responsible and aware of our actions and will continue to learn and develop with the help of the ECB and the PCA.”

The incident occurred at a time of great sensitivity towards such issues in the game across the country. Revelations from the likes of Michael Carberry, Azeem Rafiq, Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent have increased awareness over the struggles of players from BAME communities in the English game and led to an acceptance that the sport has a long way to go in its journey towards full and equal inclusivity.

While most observers, including those from the National Asian Cricket and the National Cricket League, agreed the incident at Lord’s was grounded more in ignorance than malice, it will have done nothing to convince those from Muslim communities that the sport is welcoming towards them.

Essex’s record in such areas is better than most. No county squad contains more players from a BAME background and the speed with which they produced a statement on Monday compared favourably with Yorkshire’s reluctance to comment following Rafiq’s allegations. Westley’s additional comments underline the impression the club are determined to use the incident as a learning experience in their bid to increase their commitment towards inclusivity.



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Rajasthan Royals vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2020, Fantasy Pick, team predictions

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Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals, Dubai

Pro Tip: The in-form Steven Smith is a definite choice for captain but do keep an eye out for the Knight Riders middle-order batsmen.

Our XI: Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill, Steve Smith, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Tom Curran, Varun Chakravarthy, Jofra Archer, Ankit Rajpoot

Substitutes: Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tewatia, Sunil Narine

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Player availability: All players are available for selection.

Captain: Steven Smith
Smith decided to open the batting for the Royals and has scored two consecutive fifties. He will look to play deep into the innings and that only means more points for you. Though he has played both the games in Sharjah, his strike rate this season has been 160.81, which is significantly higher than his IPL career strike rate of 128.95.

Vice-captain: Andre Russell
Russell has been used at the death by the Knight Riders and we know what he can do with the bat, too. Two overs at the death means a higher possibility of getting a wicket as well. The Royals bowlers have been poor in the death in the last two games and Russell will be keen on exploiting their struggle further. He has struck at 246.27 in the death overs in the IPL since 2018.

Hot Picks
Jos Buttler: Buttler fell for a single-digit score against the Kings XI but given his consistency in the format, it might make sense to back him to fire against the Knight Riders. Since 2018, Buttler has opened the innings on 15 occasions and has scored fifties on eight of them in the IPL.

Sanju Samson: Samson has been one of the best batsmen on show in the tournament so far. He has been striking as cleanly as ever, and consistently at that, scoring consecutive fifties for the first time in his IPL career. On slightly bigger grounds, Samson’s ability to run hard could get him more runs. Since 2017, he has scored 41.1% of his runs in singles and twos in the IPL.

Nitish Rana: As in previous editions, he has shown glimpses of excellence this season, too, but has failed to convert his starts so far. Clarity over his role in the batting order could probably be a reason; it looks like he will bat at No. 3 in most games this year.

Differential Picks
Ankit Rajpoot: He started out poorly against the Kings XI openers but came back strongly in the death. Though his economy at the death in the IPL since 2017 has been 10.7, he has a strike rate of 8.6. His recent performance against the Kings XI at the death suggests his economy should go down as well over the forthcoming matches.
Varun Chakravarthy: As if one mystery spinner is not enough in the line-up, the Knight Riders have brought in Varun Chakravarthy, too, who appears to be cast in the same mold as Sunil Narine. Though Chakravarthy has not played a lot of T20 games yet, he could have a huge impact in the game given his variations. Expect him to have a good season.

Alternate Scenarios

  • If Narine continues to open, chances of Russell getting to bat becomes less. So Sanju Samson could be your alternative vice-captain option, given his form.

  • The Knight Riders are likely to go in again with seven bowling options which makes it harder for one bowler to pick a bunch of wickets. If they drop a bowler, pick Sunil Narine for a Knight Riders player.

  • If Dinesh Karthik continues to bat in the top four, he should be your vice-captain. Karthik has scored 232 runs against the Royals since 2018 at a atrike rate of 163.38.



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