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Cricket South Africa Commemorates Mandela Day …

Cricket comes together to commemorate the revolutionary anti-apartheid leader.

July 18 is Nelson Mandela Day, and people around the world have been doing their bit to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the birth of one of South Africa’s most pioneering figures.

Staff from CSA, as well as Proteas cricketers and players from the Central Gauteng Lions linked up to give back to the community on a momentous day for the nation. They donned aprons and gloves and got busy packing up donated items to hand over to students of Entuthukweni Primary School, in Kagiso.

“We are proud to participate in events and donate to causes the community and our people are passionate about,” said CSA Chief Executive, Thabang Moroe.

“I think it’s important for us as South Africans to celebrate Mandela Day, and certainly for us at Cricket South Africa this is one of the days where we join hands with our community at large.“

Nelson Mandela’s profound impact on the people and country of South Africa will never be forgotten, and his influence as South African President between 1994 and 1999 and a revolutionary anti-apartheid figure will always be prevalent in South African and world history.

Faf du Plessis and the South Africa squad were in Colombo ahead of their second Test against Sri Lanka commencing on Friday July 20, and they took time out of their preparation period to show their respects during a ceremony at the Independence Memorial in Colombo.

The squad posed for pictures with local school children as they remembered the iconic individual, Mandela, on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Joe Root Embarrassed After Introducing ‘Mic-dr…

New Delhi: Joe Root may have introduced cricket to the mic-drop, but the England Test captain is already regretting it. “It’s the most embarrassing thing I’ve done,” he says.

Root put behind a poor start to the series against India – he managed scores of 0, 9 and 3 in the two T20Is and the first ODI – before turning it around at Lord’s in the second ODI with 113*. He backed that up with another century in the final ODI in Leeds as England won the series 2-1.

At Headingley, Root celebrated his century by dropping his bat – the bat drop, like stand-up comedians and musicians do the mic-drop.

The move immediately went viral on social media, where it was well received, but Root is copping a lot of flak from his team-mates.

“It was something that I immediately regretted,” said Root. “I’ve not heard the end of it, it was literally the most embarrassing thing I’ve done on a cricket field.

“I don’t think it will be the last I hear of it from the group – they’ve been hammering me.”

Despite that, England will be buoyed by Root’s return to form, ahead of the five-match Test series starting on 1 August.

Root was dismissed by Kuldeep Yadav, India’s left-arm wrist-spinner, twice in three matches, with the Englishman struggling to pick the bowler.

However, Root had him figured out at Lord’s, and that bodes well for England, given Yadav was included in the India’s squad for the first three Tests.

“I looked at the three balls I faced and got out to – one thing that’s very easy to do is over-analyse things, over-think things,“ said Root. “I felt like I was picking him (Yadav) fine and when you look at it for what it actually was, both games my movements weren’t quick enough and I wasn’t getting close enough to the ball, either going forward or back.

“The best players of spin in the world, their footwork is always sharp and when that contact point is there, you’re as still as possible.”

The 2-1 series victory justified England’s place at the top of the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Rankings, but Root urged the Test side to follow the example of their ODI unit.

“It’s something we are trying really hard to replicate within the Test team,” Root said. “Hopefully over time, and it’s not something that will happen overnight, we’ll see big improvements long-term within the group.

“It’s about putting the hard yards in and doing that extra bit of work and sometimes doing the stuff that doesn’t always make you feel good but ultimately will make you a better player.”

Keshav Maharaj Wants to Learn the Tricks of th…

New Delhi: South Africa spinner Keshav Maharaj is looking to gain insight on how to prosper in spin-friendly conditions ahead of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo, citing fellow left-arm spinner and opponent Rangana Herath as a good example of how to succeed in the subcontinent.

After a wicketless first innings in Galle, Maharaj acknowledged that he has plenty of learning to do, despite becoming more accustomed to conditions as the match wore on, notching figures of 4/58 in the second innings despite his side falling to a crushing 278-run defeat. This is his first tour of the subcontinent since making his South Africa debut in 2016, and having missed the two warm-up matches due to injury, he plans to hone his lengths to get the best out of the Sri Lankan pitches.

“Everywhere you go in the world you want to be consistent in your lengths to cause the batter to be uncomfortable when you are bowling,” he explained. “That is something I had to pick up quickly after the first innings where I didn’t have a lot of rhythm. I found that in the second innings I put the ball in better areas than I did in the first innings.

Mahraj’s left-arm spin counterpart, Herath, has racked up a phenomenal 423 wickets in his 93 Test matches, and he holds the kind of consistency, at the age of 40, that Mahraj seeks to emulate.

“His consistency is phenomenal,” he said of Herath. “Left-arm spinners are known to control the game but he does something special. He turns the ball at will, he slides the ball on at will, it is something that I would love to learn in my trade and I will try to get some knowledge from him going forward.

“I spoke to him when Sri Lanka toured South Africa last year and he gave me some insight, I would like to pick his brain more about playing in sub-continent conditions. He is the best in the world at what he does.”

Proteas spinner Tabraiz Shamsi partnered Maharaj in the first Test defeat. Maharaj admitted that bowling in tandem with another twirler was not something he was used to at the top level.

“Shamsi and I played a bit of domestic cricket together,” he said. “We’ve always known each other and what we are about, we enjoy bowling together. It is something new for me because I have never bowled with another spinner at international level, but it is a lot of fun.”

Maharaj insists the belief and motivation remains high in the camp, despite the slow start to the series.

“We have come here as underdogs. Sri Lanka are really good in their conditions, they showed that when they beat Australia here as well. There is everything to play for, South Africans are known to bounce back when we do lose our first match. The boys have worked hard, we are ready to give Sri Lanka a go in their conditions.”

R Ashwin Wants India to Respond to Match Situa…

New Delhi: It is all about responding to the situations that are thrown at us, said Ravichandran Ashwin, India’s premier Test spinner, ahead of the five-Test series in England.

The Test series starts on August 1 at Edgbaston, and Ashwin has said that he hopes to emerge from the series an improved player, with an added layer of skill sets.

When India last toured England in 2014, the inexperienced side were defeated 3-1 in the five-match Test series, and though the visitors bounced back to win the one-day internationals by the same margin, the impression that prevailed was that India’s batsmen couldn’t cope with the moving ball in England’s seaming conditions.

So it is that there are plenty of records for the No.1-ranked Test side to set straight this time around when the teams lock horns.

Ashwin, No.5 in the ICC Test Player Rankings for bowlers, played only two Tests in the 2014 series and picked up just three wickets. All of them in the second innings at The Oval.

However, he has since focused on acclimatising to English conditions, and had a stint with Worcestershire in 2017 when he picked up 20 wickets in just four matches, at an average of 29.15 and an economy rate of 3.16. He also averaged 42.80 with the bat.

His love for England is all too evident. “I know England really well,” he said. “It’s a lovely place and I enjoy going to England. I look forward to going there and enjoying playing cricket there.”

Ashwin, 31, has a decent record with both bat and ball against England on the whole, with 45 wickets and 655 runs in 11 Tests. There has been talk of him returning to Worcestershire ahead of the upcoming series too.

“You don’t get so many opportunities to do that in the current, very jigsaw-puzzled schedule that international cricket has,” Ashwin pointed out. “But for me, it is all about going there, understanding situations and trying to react to different situations.

“I want to try and use all my experience over the years that I have played Test cricket for, and make it for the best use, make sure that I give my best there, and come out as another cricketer who has learned as much as it is possible to learn from other tours.”

The upcoming series is already being billed as the biggest test for the No.1 Test side.

India came away from their recent tour of South Africa with heads held high despite losing the three-match Test series 2-1. That was largely because of their triumph in the final Test in Johannesburg, and especially because it came on minefield of a pitch.

India followed that up with 5-1 and 2-1 victories in the one-day internationals and Twenty20 Internationals respectively, all of which gives cause for Ashwin to be confident.

"We know we are a good team. It is all about responding to the situations that are thrown at us,” he said. “Sometimes I feel we overcook ourselves, overprepare ourselves. It is very important to stay in the moment and react to it.

“What also will be crucial is how well we adapt and acclimatise earlier on in the series. But once we do, that it is all about responding to the situations and having that belief that you can retaliate at any point of time. In long Test series we are going to commit mistakes, and likewise, we are going to expect the opposition to commit mistakes.”

However, on Tuesday, 17 July, India lost the ODI series to England 2-1, although they did secure the T20I series by the same margin earlier in the tour.

They will now play a four-day warm-up match against Essex from 25 July before the Test series.

Bangladesh Appoint McKenzie as Batting Consult…

Dhaka: Former South Africa international Neil McKenzie was appointed the Bangladesh batting consultant until next year’s ICC World Cup in England and Wales, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) announced on Wednesday.

McKenzie was earlier scheduled to join the team on July 7 but according to BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury, he will now team up with the squad in the West Indies on July 22.

The 42-year-old, who represented South Africa in 124 matches, will take over from former Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera.

“We are expecting his arrival on July 22,” Chowdhury was quoted as saying by cricbuzz.

“We have appointed him until the next ICC World Cup. We are confident that his vast experience will help our team, and our batsmen in particular,” he added.

Bangladesh will be keenly looking forward to working with him on an immediate basis especially after their recent failures in the just concluded two-match Test series against the West Indies.

The visitors lost both the Tests inside three days and it was largely due to the failure of their batsmen to apply in testing conditions.

Sri Lanka Seeks ‘Clear Rules’ on Ball-tamperin…

Colombo: Sri Lanka’s sports minister called on the International Cricket Council to establish “simple, clear rules” Wednesday after skipper Dinesh Chandimal was punished for ball tampering.

“Laws governing the offence / act of altering the condition of the ball are somewhat vague and lack clarity,” Faiszer Musthapha said in a statement.

“I invite the ICC to revisit the applicable laws and ensure that a set of simple, clear and certain rules and procedures are put in place.”

He did not elaborate but the statement came after Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusingha and manager Asanka Gurusinha were sanctioned following a tampering scandal.

Chandimal refused to take the field for two hours on the third day of the second Test against the West Indies last month after he was accused of ball tampering on the previous day.

Chandimal as well as Hathurusingha and Gurusinha were banned for two Tests and four one-day internationals for violating the spirit of the game by holding up the second Test against West Indies by two hours.

At the start of the first Test against a touring South African team last week, Chandimal and his tourist counterpart Faf du Plessis said they wanted a list of do’s and don’ts from the ICC match referee.

Although the use of saliva or sweat to shine the ball is an accepted practice, using any other substance – such as sugary residue from sweets – is prohibited.

Chandimal was slapped with a 100 percent fine of his match fees and banned from the third Test against the West Indies last month after he was found guilty of tampering.

Match referee Javagal Srinath said Chandimal applied saliva containing the residue of something he had in his mouth to the ball, in violation of the ICC Code of Conduct.

The ICC last week unveiled tougher sanctions for ball tampering and sledging in a bid to improve on-field behaviour in the sport.

The changes came in the wake of a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March that saw Steve Smith stripped of the Australian captaincy and suspended from international and domestic cricket for a year. His teammates David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were also banned.

Du Plessis said tougher sanctions would make players think twice before putting something in their mouth and then using saliva to shine the ball.

Sachin Tendulkar Joins Forces With Middlesex t…

Mumbai: Retired Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar has joined forces with Middlesex Cricket to launch an academy for budding male and female cricketers in England.

The academy will provide training for children between the ages of nine and 14 through a curriculum developed by the coaches at Middlesex and Tendulkar, who is the world’s leading run-scorer in both tests and one-day internationals.

“I am delighted to be partnering with Middlesex Cricket on this new venture,” Tendulkar, who retired in 2013 with more than 34,000 international runs to his name, said in a statement.

“The objective is not only to produce good cricketers but also good global citizens of the future.”

“Through this association, Middlesex and I are focused on providing the very best in cricket education, as much as possible, for our students.”

Merchant Taylor’s School in Northwood will host the Tendulkar Middlesex Global Academy’s first cricket camp from Aug. 6-9.

Eoin Morgan Praises Team for Rising to the Cha…

Headingley: England were as professional as one would expect, thwarting India’s plans expertly to win the one-day international series 2-1.

The two teams went into the match on Tuesday 17 July with honours even and all to play for. When England levelled the series in the second one-day international, they made sure they held on to the No.1 spot in the ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings. The series win was the icing on the cake.

In the decider, Adil Rashid and David Willey picked up three wickets each to restrict India to 256/8. Joe Root (100*) and Eoin Morgan (88*) then finished off the chase in just 44.3 overs for an eight-wicket victory.

“I think we were outstanding. Tone was set by the bowlers early on. David Willey (3/40) and Mark Wood (1/30) were on the money. For about three or four overs it swung around but apart from that they hit their lines and their lengths really well,” Morgan told Sky Sports after the game.

“From that point, there was no let up, we managed to get little (bowling) partnerships going at different stages and had really good chances taken when opportunities did arise. We know the conditions here really well so we were able to take advantage of that.”

India lost Rohit Sharma, the centurion from the first game, early, but Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli picked up the innings with a 71-run stand before Dhawan was run out for 44. But Kohli looked in good nick, scoring a half-century and then getting to a run-a-ball 71 before the 72nd ball he faced – from Rashid – turned out to be an absolute beauty, pitching on leg stump, turning viciously, and hitting off.

That changed the tide, and while Rashid finished with 3/49, Moeen Ali was as effective, returning none for 47 from his 10 overs.

“I thought our spinners were brilliant and the chase was set up by the two openers [James Vince (27) and Jonny Bairstow (30)] and then myself and Joe were able to get going,” Morgan summed up.

Morgan won the toss in both the matches his side won, batting in the second ODI at Lord’s and then opting to chase at Headingley.

“It’s the guys who make my decisions look good. At Lord’s, winning the toss and batting only looks good if we play well,” said Morgan modestly.

“Like any other captain around the country or the world, you’re only as good as your team. I thought we got better as the series went on, at Trent Bridge (first ODI), we were off the mark and India punished us. From there we’ve learnt and grown as much as we can.”

Zimbabwe’s Last Chance to Keep Series Alive Ag…

After going down tamely in the first two one-day internationals against Pakistan, Zimbabwe must win the third game to stay in the race for a series win. It’s largely been one-way traffic in the two ODIs so far. Pakistan have dominated proceedings, and even when in the first ODI Zimbabwe fought hard with the ball, Pakistan got to 308/7 batting first without really looking like they were on top.

Losses by 201 runs and nine wickets must hurt Zimbabwe, who have tried to lift their game despite the absence of a host of their first-choice players for one reason or another, but they just haven’t been able to put together a strong performance.

“We have a lot of inexperienced guys, so it’s an opportunity to blood the new guys, give them a go and have them get the feel of what playing at the highest level is like,” said Hamilton Masakadza, captain of the side, before the series, adding that it was the start of the journey to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 for Zimbabwe.

That is a positive approach, but with the losses piling up, morale can’t be at its best in the camp. The stars are missing, and while Ryan Murray, Peter Moor, Tarisai Musakanda and Masakadza himself have shown glimpses of positivity with the bat and Blessing Muzarabani, especially, held his own with ball in hand, they just haven’t been able to stop the rampaging Pakistanis.

Pakistan are No.4 in the ICC ODI rankings, while Zimbabwe are No.11, and that has shown in the two games so far. The architects of the two wins have been the opening batsmen, Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq. Imam led the way with a 134-ball 128, while Zaman scored 60 in 70 balls in the first game. Then, Zaman took care of the chase in the second ODI, smashing 117* in 129 balls while Imam made 44 in 51 to take Pakistan past Zimbabwe’s 194 in just 36 overs.

In the opener, Babar Azam and new boy Asif Ali also chipped in with runs, and the bowlers, led by Usman Shinwari (4/36) and Hasan Ali (3/32), were clinical in the second. There don’t appear to be major chinks in the Pakistan armoury, and Sarfraz Ahmed will back his boys to roll on. The onus is on Zimbabwe to lift their game.

Squads:

Zimbabwe: Hamilton Masakadza ©, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Ryan Murray, Peter Moor, Tarisai Musakanda, Blessing Muzarabani, Liam Nicholas Roche, Malcolm Waller, Brian Chari, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Tendai Chatara, Wellington Masakadza, Richard Ngarava, Donald Tiripano

Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam, Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed ©, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Haris Sohail

Pakistan Batsman Azhar Ali Signs for Somerset

London: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said Monday.

The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.

“The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches,” Azhar told his new county’s website.

“I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county).

"I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon.”

Azhar struggled during Pakistan’s three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan’s impressive victory over England at Lord’s.

"Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali’s character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches,” said Somerset’s director of cricket, Andy Hurry.

“His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season.

"I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club.”