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His weak impact as a leader and batsman featured prominently in franchise’s 2020 season review, ESPNcricinfo understands

Rajasthan Royals are likely to release their captain and premier batsman Steven Smith ahead of the 2021 IPL auction. The Royals will take a final call shortly, before submitting the final list of retained players, the deadline for which the IPL has told franchises is January 20.

ESPNcricinfo understands one of the key reasons behind considering releasing Smith is his middling form in the 2020 IPL, where the Royals finished last in the eight-team league. Smith’s weak impact as a leader and batsman featured prominently in the 2020 season review conducted by the franchise. Smith played all the 14 league matches, scoring 311 runs at a strike rate of 131, including three half-centuries.



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ECB accused of ignoring Rooney Rule in elite coaching appointment

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The ECB has been accused of “failing to adopt their own policies” on inclusion and diversity after they made a high-profile coaching appointment without advertising the role.

The ECB announced on Monday that Richard Dawson, currently the head coach at Gloucestershire, would be the new Elite Performance Pathway Coach alongside three other specialist coaching positions.

But while the vacancies for a spin bowling, seam bowling and batting coach (subsequently filled by Jeetan Patel, Jon Lewis and Marcus Trescothick respectively) were all advertised, the pathway role was not.

This would appear to go against the ECB’s own announcement, in July 2020, that they were “recommending the adoption of the Rooney Rule for all coaching roles across the game”. Named in recognition of Dan Rooney, a former chair of the NFL’s diversity committee, the Rule demands that a non-white candidate be interviewed for every senior coaching role.

It was introduced in the US to tackle the issue of exclusion and had been publically adopted by the ECB in the aftermath of the growing appreciation of the game’s struggle to achieve appropriate levels of diversity across playing, coaching and administrative positions.

But with the pathway role filled without a specific interview process, there was no opportunity to interview candidates of any ethnicity before the appointment. And that, some claim, amounts to a failure by the ECB to implement their own inclusivity and diversity agenda.

“It is quite unbelievable that the ECB are failing to adopt their own policies,” Ismail Dawood, the former umpire who is currently pursuing a discrimination claim against the board, told ESPNcricinfo. “Richard Dawson is an excellent coach. With his holistic approach, he has done a fantastic job in developing a successful team of cricketers and men. I’m sure he will be a great success with the Young Lions team.



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PSL 2021 – PCB mulls playing entire PSL in Karachi after recent Covid-19 cases

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The Lahore Qalandars have objected to the idea of not playing the second leg of matches in Lahore

The Covid-19 outbreak in Karachi within the biosecure bubble during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has prompted the PCB to look at contingencies. The league management is believed to be considering the option of playing the remainder of the tournament in Karachi instead of moving for the final leg to Lahore as scheduled, from March 10. The discussions are only in very preliminary stages – “food for thought” as one official said – but the Lahore Qalandars have already objected to the idea, insisting that fans in Lahore cannot be deprived of the matches and moving from one bubble to another won’t increase the risk.

The PSL was meant to be played at four venues this year but due to the ongoing pandemic, the PCB decided to hold all 34 matches in Karachi and Lahore. The first leg of 20 matches is being played at the National Stadium in Karachi until March 7 and the following 10 league games and four playoff matches are scheduled for Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. Chartered flights were meant to be used for travel between the two cities.

However, three overseas players – Fawad Ahmed, Tom Banton (who revealed his positive test publicly on Wednesday) and another Islamabad United player – and one support staff member with the Karachi Kings (Kamran Khan) testing positive for Covid-19 have led to concerns. The PCB spoke with all six franchises on Tuesday to remind them of the standard protocols required to maintain the biosecure bubbles.



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PSL 2021 – PCB offers Covid-19 vaccine to all participants

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“The vaccine doses will be administered on Thursday and will be offered to all those inside the bio-secure bubble”

The PCB has offered doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to all participants of PSL 2021. The decision comes as a boost after the recent cases in the PSL which saw three overseas players and a support staff member test positive, which has even made the PCB think about hosting the entire tournament in Karachi. Originally, Karachi and Lahore were scheduled to host this season of the PSL. The decision to offer the vaccine was made in line with the PCB’s duty of care policy and to “ensure all participants of the league remain safe and healthy during the event.”

The PCB is the first cricket board to offer vaccine to its players.

“The vaccine doses will be administered on Thursday and will be offered to all those inside the bio-secure bubble,” a PCB release said. “However, it will solely be the players and officials’ decision if they want to get the vaccine shots.”

The release further said the PCB has been in discussions with the federal and provincial government officials, “highlighting the national cricket teams’ international engagements and commitments as well as the significance, reputation, integrity and credibility” of the PSL.



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