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Strong competition among seamers for first Test but balancing XI could be an issue

England’s international summer of cricket is almost upon us and ECB selectors – that’s basically Chris Silverwood with some help from James Taylor and Mo Bobat – are poised to announce the men’s squad to face New Zealand in their two-Test series starting on June 2 at Lord’s. Here, George Dobell takes a look at those in the running.

Top order

England are likely to pick four men who are seen as contenders for the top three: Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Rory Burns and James Bracey. While Sibley is just coming back from a broken finger – he is playing a 2nd XI match at present – the England management are confident he will be fine and he has enough credit in the bank to retain his place.

Of the four, Burns is perhaps the least certain of a spot. Having been dropped in India, he is not “in possession” and with England wanting to take a look at Bracey, he could be squeezed. But he has been in consistent form in the Championship (only Kiran Carlson has reached 50 more often than his five occasions this season) and is seen as being relatively well equipped for the Ashes.

The form of Haseeb Hameed (and, to a lesser extent, Adam Lyth) has been noted by the England management, but he will need to sustain it a while longer to win a Test recall. If a Lions squad was required tomorrow, however, he would have an excellent chance of involvement.

Middle order

With Joe Root and Ollie Pope assured of their places, England have to decide whether to play Bracey in the middle-order or stick with Dan Lawrence. Both will be in the squad.

Wicketkeeping

With Jos Buttler resting, Ben Foakes looks likely to keep the gloves and play his first home Tests. Bracey is also a more than competent keeper and provides back-up if required. Pope’s brief career as a Test keeper – remember the Hamilton Test of 2019? – would appear to be over.



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Australia in West Indies 2021

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The Australia captain said that performances on the upcoming tours will count for a lot in final selection

Australia’s planning for the 2021 T20 World Cup has been significantly disrupted by tour pullouts but captain Aaron Finch is maintaining his focus – in more ways than one.
Finch underwent surgery on his left eye after the tour of New Zealand in March – which was the last time he played – and is hopeful of seeing a positive impact on the upcoming trip to the West Indies and yet-to-be-confirmed assignment against Bangladesh.
Finch revealed that he had first suffered from blurred vision during last year’s IPL, where he started to suffer a lean run of form that continued through the BBL before he finished the series in New Zealand strongly, and when the use of contact lenses didn’t work opted for surgery from which he believes he has already felt the benefits.

“I’m seeing them pretty good,” he said in Brisbane ahead of the squad’s chartered flight to the Caribbean on Monday. “I’ve only been hitting indoors on hard wickets, so [I] think the big test will come in night matches, that’s when I noticed the biggest difference in my eyesight.



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Australians at the PSL: Usman Khawaja, Tim David and James Faulkner leave a mark

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For some it was their first experience of an overseas T20 league



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Recent Match Report – Gloucs vs Glamorgan South Group 2021

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NZ wicketkeeper-bat required just 41 balls to take game away from visitors

Gloucestershire 216 for 2 (Phillips 94*, Howell 53*) beat Glamorgan 182 for 8 (Lloyd 44, Higgins 2-27) by 34 runs

Glenn Phillips slammed an unbeaten 94 from just 41 balls to power Gloucestershire to victory by 34 runs over Glamorgan at Bristol, sending them top of the South Group.

Phillips’ fifth-highest score of his career, and first half-century in the Vitality Blast, powered Gloucestershire to 216 for 2 – their own fifth-highest T20 total. He struck nine fours and six sixes to overwhelm Glamorgan, who gave game chase for a while but could only reply with 182 for 8.

Phillips and Benny Howell, promoted to No. 3 in place of the injured Ian Cockbain, shared 130 for the third wicket in 64 balls – a record T20 partnership for Gloucestershire’s third wicket.

Phillips arrived after Miles Hammond and Chris Dent had given the innings a lively start after losing the toss, making 60 without loss. He cut Marnus Labuschagne through extra cover before lifting Dan Douthwaite over the sight screen. He blasted Prem Sisodiya twice straight back past his for four and swept him fine for another boundary in going to fifty in 26 balls.

He took 14 from the 17th over, clubbing Timm van der Gugten over long-off, before uppercutting Douthwaite for a third six. An extraordinary reverse-scoop flew over third man for six as 23 came from the 18th. In the final over, he launched van der Gugten over the longest boundary at midwicket, crashed him wide of deep cover for four and swung the final ball of the innings over deep-square.

Howell took his chance up at three to make an unbeaten 53 in 33 balls. He struck Callum Taylor for four through extra cover and wide of midwicket before a slug down the ground cleared long-off for six. He drove Weighell for four to raise a fifth T20 half-century.

Glamorgan needed their third-highest T20 total to win and stayed in the game for the first half of the chase. David Lloyd gave them a rattling start with 44 in 22 balls, striking four sixes, three of them short-arm jabs over midwicket and Glamorgan reached 101 for 4 at halfway. But Tom Smith then bowled an over for 9 followed by a wicket maiden to leave 15-an-over for the final five.

Labuschagne was, as ever, a crucial wicket and David Payne yorked him walking across his stumps. His 33 in 21 balls was well light of what Glamorgan needed.



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