The batsman is expected to make his Test debut against England after prolific limited-overs performances
Devon Conway has had his New Zealand residency visa approved, which means he will be able to return to the country after the tour of England.
Although eligible to play for New Zealand since last August, his residency application was still pending until a few days ago. Only citizens or residents are able to return under the government’s Covid-19 protocols so it could have caused problems for Conway touring but the doubts have now been removed.
“Very positive news came through a couple of days ago that that has been granted so he is allowed to come back into the country,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said. “We are really pleased for Devon and Kim, his partner, who have managed to get that over the line.
“I guess it’s one thing that’s been on his mind that’s not there anymore. Who knows, one less thing on his mind he might score more runs.”
Conway is one of three uncapped players in the New Zealand squad for the two Tests against England, which will then be trimmed to 15 names for the World Test Championship final.
After a prolific ODI and T20I season it seems inevitable that Conway will make his debut against England at Lord’s in early June although there is still the tricky question of how he fits into a successful side.
There may be a natural vacancy at the start of the series if Kane Williamson is still involved in the IPL but one option being considered is for Conway to open.
“Tom Blundell has been the incumbent for a while with Tom Latham and has done a great job in that role, [but] I don’t think it’s his natural role though and think Tom recognises that as well so we just have to work through,” Stead said. “Devon, everyone has seen the success that he’s had, and we know he’s a fine player, it’s just working out what that looks like. Just too early to know that for certain.”
While it is hard to see Conway not finding a place in the XI for New Zealand’s next Test, Stead stopped short of anointing him straightaway.
“I don’t know if you can say you can’t leave [him] out because the New Zealand team has still done very well over the last wee while and Devon Conway hasn’t been part of that team,” he said. “No doubt he’s a fine player and we’ve seen every step he’s made has been a positive one. It’s not that you can’t leave him out, but he’s a fine player and we all know that.”
The New Zealand squad will depart for England in two groups on May 16 and 17 following training camps in Christchurch earlier in the month. They will then be based at the Ageas Bowl, which has an on-site hotel, during the initial part of the tour.
Stead confirmed that the originally planned tour match against Somerset would not take place due to issues around bio-secure bubbles and that the preparation for the Test series would include an intra-squad match with the help of some Hampshire 2nd XI players.
Newlands ball-tampering scandal – Cameron Bancroft contacted by Cricket Australia integrity unit
The problem CA has is they have tried to sweep it under the carpet and not come out with the full story, says Michael Clarke
Ben Oliver, Cricket Australia’s head of national teams, confirmed on Monday that the integrity unit, which is currently headed by Rebecca Murray, had reached out to Bancroft to see if he was willing to speak further about the affair that led to him being banned for nine months, while Steven Smith and David Warner were both suspended for a year.
“There was obviously a thorough investigation into that, to that incident,” Oliver said. “There were actions taken on the back of that and then since that time, everyone who’s been involved in the team has worked incredibly hard to rebuild confidence and to ultimately sort of aspire to make Australians proud of the Australian cricket team. So from that point of view that processes have taken place.
“I think we’ve maintained all the way through that if, if anyone had any new information relating to that incident that we’ve encouraged people to come forward and discuss that with our integrity unit. In this particular case, our integrity team have reached out to Cam again extending that invitation to him if he does have any, any new information. We’ll wait to see his response on that, we haven’t had had a response. But in saying that we’re operating on different time zones.”
Earlier on Monday, Michael Clarke had spoken plainly about the unresolved elements of the episode. “If you’d played the game of cricket, you would know more than three people know what was going on in there,” Clarke told Sky Sports Radio. “The problem Cricket Australia has is the fact they’ve tried to sweep it under the carpet and not come out and tell the full story.
“They go and do that Netflix or whatever it was [Amazon] and show all that, come inside the change room and let’s talk about what happened after Sandpapergate, but the public want to go ‘hang on a second, take me through the few months before Sandpapergate, what led up to that, what happened in South Africa, there’s a TV show for you Netflix, give us that information. It will continue because it hasn’t been finished, so much is left unsaid from the players and even what happened with staff.
“They [CA] did not want to go any deeper than that superficial example of ball-tampering. They did not investigate to see whether it was systemic had it been going on and on and on. Around the cricketing globe it was widely accepted a lot of teams were doing it.”
“You don’t have to have played cricket at the highest level. If you know anything about the game of cricket, you know on that day, on that field, what went down, more than three people had to know about it. Impossible not to… that’s why there’s going to be finger-pointing until, I think until someone writes their book and tells the complete, honest truth. I don’t think Cameron Bancroft should be smashed for what he’s come out and said, he’s tried to say nothing but he’s doing an interview.”
Adam Gilchrist had also stated that he felt the issue was not resolved properly because it had not been fully investigated, particularly in terms of global “ball management” in the period leading up to Newlands.
“There was an opportunity for CA if they were going to make such a strong statement they needed to do a more thorough investigation to work out where the root of the problem was,” Gilchrist said on SEN Radio. “Anyone would be naïve to think people were not aware with what was going on about ball maintenance. I don’t think Cricket Australia wanted to go there. They did not want to go any deeper than that superficial example of ball-tampering.
“They did not investigate to see whether it was systemic had it been going on and on and on. Around the cricketing globe it was widely accepted a lot of teams were doing it. You haven’t seen any reverse swing since that incident as a general statement across world cricket. Very minimal reverse swing. The positive that has come out with that punishment is it seems to have been eradicated from the game because it was getting out of control around the entire cricket world, not just the Australian cricket team.”
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
More New Zealanders watching cricket than ever before
More people watched women’s cricket than ever before and more cricket was viewed “on the go” during the home summer
More New Zealanders watched cricket than ever before during the first season of New Zealand Cricket’s six-year deal with Spark Sport and TVNZ. As per the findings, more people watched women’s cricket than ever before, more young people watched cricket and more cricket was viewed by fans “on the go” – via a range of mobile devices.
In a press release, NZC said that this was made possible because of the combination of free-to-air and digital subscription, a “ground-breaking arrangement which is taking cricket to not only more Kiwis, but demographics of New Zealanders previously lost to the game”.
The six matches screened live on TVNZ 1 reached 1.86 million viewers, while almost 240,000 Spark Sport viewers watched cricket during the summer. The most viewed T20I during the Australia series attracted 1.24 million viewers. The final ODI between New Zealand Women and Australia Women in Brisbane was viewed by 840,300 fans.
Without going into the numbers, the release said Test matches were also proving to be just as popular as T20Is. The most popular Test was the second one against Pakistan in Christchurch, which New Zealand won by an innings and 176 runs to wrap up the series 2-0. There was also an increase in viewership of both the men’s and women’s Super Smash, New Zealand’s domestic T20 competition.
NZC CEO David White said the results exceeded expectations and he was confident the reach will continue to grow.
“We’re hugely encouraged,” he said. “The production was professional; the look and feel was fresh and appealing – it was everything we were hoping for.
“On top of the increase in viewership, our latest census is also indicating a significant increase in the number of New Zealanders playing cricket – including a 12% increase in the number of female participants, and a nine percent increase in the number of males.
“We’ve also had excellent crowd attendances across the season, and we were well on track for sold-out crowds throughout the Australian men’s tour before COVID took its toll.”
Head of Spark Sport, Jeff Latch, said that getting younger audience on the board via streaming services was the game-changer. “To see these numbers in the first months of our six-year partnership is really encouraging, particularly when you consider sports streaming is still new to many New Zealanders and a sports streaming business like ours takes time to grow,” he said.
“It shows that New Zealand households are embracing streaming, which is consistent with the global experience, in which it is now the norm. We’ve unlocked a new younger audience with streaming given that close to half (47%) of our customer base is aged under 34 years old but are still catering to the traditional fan through TVNZ.”
Marnus Labuschagne to miss white-ball tour of the West Indies
Australian batter “deeply upset to miss out due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control,” says Trevor Hohns
Marnus Labuschagne is missing from the Australia limited-overs squad for a tour of the West Indies starting next month, after it was decided he would play out his current county stint with Glamorgan instead.
A vast preliminary squad for the tour – which may still theoretically be followed by a trip to Bangladesh for more white-ball matches – includes the likes of Matthew Wade, D’Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Swepson, all of whom missed out on Cricket Australia contracts in the annual list.
“Anyone who knows Marnus understands he would give absolutely anything to play for Australia and he is deeply upset to miss out due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control,” selection chairman Trevor Hohns said. “We worked through numerous options in conversations with Marnus to find a workable solution but ultimately came to the conclusion it was more practical for him to remain in the UK.
“Had we not been in the middle of a global pandemic, Marnus would be on this tour as a well-established member and important part of the one-day side. It’s an unfortunate circumstance of the many challenges the world is facing right now. As it stands, Marnus has the opportunity to continue in county cricket and T20 games with Glamorgan as we head into the World Cup and home summer.”
Daniel Sams, who was part of Australia’s squad for the recent limited-overs tour of New Zealand but then endured an unhappy time during the IPL where he tested positive for Covid-19 before the tournament, which was then cut short by India’s spate of outbreaks, asked not to be considered for the trip because of personal and mental health reasons.
Ben Oliver, the head of national teams, said that while discussions about the Bangladesh phase of the tour were continuing, the squad had been cleared to receive vaccinations before their departure in line with those being afforded to Australia’s Olympic team scheduled to compete in Tokyo later this year.
“It was great to see our Olympians receiving their vaccination shots ahead of the Tokyo Games and we are working through logistics for the Australian men’s team with the relevant agencies.” Oliver said. “We will comply with all government directives in relation to vaccinations and international travel.
“The Australian men’s team has completed successful tours of England and New Zealand during the pandemic, including the accompanying quarantine periods, and we are hopeful of being able to travel to Bangladesh at the completion of the West Indies tour. Those discussions are progressing well and updates will be provided in due course.”
Australia are scheduled to play five T20Is in St Lucia and three ODIs in Barbados between July 9 and July 24, their tour sandwiched between tours of the Caribbean by South Africa and Pakistan.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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