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Australia Have Tried too Hard in the Past to b…

Australia’s cricketers have sometimes “tried too hard to be aggressive” as they sought to live up a traditional stereotype of what is expected from them, England’s James Anderson said on Sunday.

England have often been on the rough end of Australia’s aggression, an approach which culminated in three players, including captain Steve Smith, being banned following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

Australia have themselves questioned their own win-at-all-costs approach, which led to off-spinner Nathan Lyon saying he hoped his side could “end the careers” of several opponents before last year’s Ashes series.

For Anderson, England’s record wicket-taker in Tests, the memory of that difficult period appears still raw, with England also claiming that in 2015 Moeen Ali was called “Osama” by an unnamed Australian during that year’s Ashes.

Australia carried out an investigation into the incident, which was closed last month after they could not find “any new additional evidence”.

“They have tried too hard to be that stereotypical Australian team that are aggressive and go hard at people,” Anderson, 36, told the BBC although he added that he felt Lyon’s comments were taken “out of context”.

Last week Australia’s new-look side attempted to introduce a softer look, shaking hands before play against Pakistan in Dubai, when they held on for a creditable draw in their first Test since the turmoil in South Africa.

Anderson said new Australia captain Tim Paine was “a genuinely nice guy” and was also complimentary about other team members.

“Mitchell Starc is not naturally aggressive despite being a fast bowler and even Steve Smith is a really good bloke – there is no real malice with anything he does – so it was really out of character,” said Anderson.

However, he added: “The thing about wanting to be good blokes is that you can only be a good bloke if you really are a good one.”

“When Brendon McCullum was New Zealand captain, he made it all about being entertaining and showing off your skills,” he said. “Both Eoin Morgan in ODIs and Alastair Cook in Tests took from his way and tried to incorporate it into their captaincy.”

Starc Ready For Another Stiff Examination in B…

A well-grassed wicket might have been the last thing Mitchell Starc expected to see after landing in Abu Dhabi but Australia’s pace spearhead was loath to get his hopes up ahead of the second test against Pakistan that begins on Tuesday.

The left-arm pacer was made to toil on a typically lifeless pitch in the drawn first test in Dubai, grabbing only a solitary wicket while conceding 108 runs after more than 40 overs’ work in broiling heat.

So it would have been understandable had he hoped some relief was at hand when a green-top was revealed after the covers were pulled off at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium. Instead, Starc felt it was all just a desert mirage.

“It might be completely different tomorrow when they cut the grass off,” he told cricket.com.au. “If we were playing on it today, the fast bowlers would be pretty happy with the covering of grass.

"A lot of us expect that grass to be gone by tomorrow and probably even less come game day.

"We’re ready for whatever they throw at us and will try to back up from a good fight in that first Test.”

A strike bowler more used to crashing through in short, sharp spells rather than wearing batsmen down with sustained pressure, Starc said he had learned to tone down his natural aggression in the United Arab Emirates.

While one wicket was small beer compared to his usual hauls in the southern hemisphere, Starc embraced the ‘workhorse’ role more associated with pace partner Peter Siddle and kept the run rate stingy.

However, both he and Siddle were left in the shade by Pakistan quick Mohammad Abbas, who led all bowlers with seven wickets in Dubai to continue his stellar start in Test cricket. Starc said Australia’s bowlers had studied Abbas and his field placements with interest.

“Obviously he’s not very fast but he’s very consistent in where he was putting the ball and challenging our defence all the time,” Starc said of the 28-year-old, who was named Pakistan’s Test player of the year in August and is averaging 16.89 after nine tests.

“We were pretty good for the most part, we stuck to our plans (but) it’s definitely something we can take out of the way he approached his fast bowling,” Starc said.

The second and final test starts on Tuesday.

Final South Africa-Zimbabwe T20 Called Off Due…

Benoni: Rain and a wet outfield caused the abandonment of the third and final Twenty20 international between South Africa and Zimbabwe at Willowmoore Park on Sunday.

South Africa won the series 2-0 after winning an earlier one-day series 3-0.

The matches were largely one-sided and South Africa used them to test the depth of their resources, using 22 players across the five matches.

South Africa travel to Australia later this month to play three one-day internationals and a Twenty20 international, while Zimbabwe depart later this week for Bangladesh where they will play three one-day internationals and two Tests. The first one-day international is in Dhaka next Sunday.

Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza said his team’s batting in South Africa had been disappointing.

“We will have to adapt quickly to Bangladesh conditions. As the top three or four batsmen, we must make sure we build a platform,” he said.

JP Duminy, who was due to captain South Africa on Sunday, said the objective of giving opportunities to several players had been achieved.

“The selectors got a look at quite a few guys,” he said. “We will be going into Australia with some confidence, although it is a work in progress.”

England Beat Sri Lanka on DLS Method After Rai…

England were awarded victory in the second one-day international against Sri Lanka on a faster run rate Saturday after play was halted by heavy rain.

The tourists scored 278-9, with Eoin Morgan smashing 92, but umpires stopped play at Dambulla with Sri Lanka on 140-5 after 29 of their overs.

Thisara Perera was on 44 and Dhananjaya da Silva on 36 when play was halted. The pair had put on 66 for the sixth wicket after Sri Lanka looked in deep trouble at 74 for five.

Heavy rain was still falling an hour after the suspension and England recorded a 31-run victory under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern run rate system.

Only 15 overs of the first ODI between the two sides was possible on Wednesday before the game had to be abandoned without a result.

A warm up game against a Sri Lanka Cricket XI on October 6 did not start because of rain.

The third 50-over match is in Pallekele on Wednesday. England will also play two Tests and a Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka on the tour, which runs through November 27.

Australia Coach Justin Langer Praises Chemistr…

Dubai: Australia coach Justin Langer has praised the new opening pair of Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja after they gave Tim Paine’s rebuilding side a solid platform in the drawn first test against Pakistan in Dubai.

Finch and Khawaja, promoted up the order in the absence of the suspended David Warner, put on a 142-run stand in the first innings and 87 in the second in a stellar debut for their nascent partnership.

“One of the main building blocks is a really strong opening partnership,” Langer said in Dubai.

“So for the guys to get 140-run opening partnership and an 87-run partnership … that’s huge for our team.

"Whenever you’re building a team you’re always looking for the opening partnership and they have certainly both put their best foot forward and they’ve obviously got a good chemistry to have two great partnerships.”

Anchored by a sparkling fourth-innings knock of 141 by Khawaja, Australia batted 139.5 overs on a wearing pitch to save the game and will head to the second match in Abu Dhabi with optimism after being widely written off before the series.

While debutant Travis Head scored an important 72 in the fourth innings and Paine steered the team to safety with an unbeaten 61, the form of the Marsh brothers and rookie all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne remains a concern.

Shaun and Mitchell Marsh managed a total of 19 runs between them in the test, and were both out for ducks as Australia scrapped for a draw in the fourth innings.

Labuschagne scored a total of 13 runs for the match but chipped in with two handy wickets with his part-time legspin.

Opening batsman Matt Renshaw was overlooked for Dubai due to a lack of match fitness but Langer said the Queenslander could be recalled lower down the order.

“He’s a terrific young player, really good in the group. I admire the way he’s gone about it,” Langer said of the 22-year-old, who has averaged 33.47 in his 11 tests.

“There’s plenty of future for Matt Renshaw. Whether it comes in opening or batting number three … it could come anywhere.”

Langer was guarded about rotating Australia’s fast bowlers for Abu Dhabi after spearhead Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle toiled for long hours in enervating heat as Pakistan racked up 482 in the first innings.

Left-armer Starc has had a history of bone stress injuries, and Langer was mindful of the four-test series to come against India in the home summer.

“We’ll manage it. It’s the start of the season and hopefully we’ll manage them well throughout the summer and this tour so far,” he said.

Paterson Leads South Africa to Six-wicket Win …

Potchefstroom: Fast bowler Dane Paterson was named man of the match but said the award could have been shared by all South Africa’s bowlers as the hosts clinched a Twenty20 series win against Zimbabwe at Senwes Park on Friday.

South Africa took a 2-0 lead in the three-match series with a six-wicket win after restricting Zimbabwe to 132 for seven in their 20 overs. It followed a 3-0 one-day series win.

“Credit goes to the whole bowling unit. We kept it tight tonight,” said Paterson, who took two top-order wickets for 22 runs.

South Africa’s pace bowlers held sway, with Lungi Ngidi, Paterson and Robbie Frylinck each taking two wickets. Andile Phehlukwayo did not take a wicket but conceded only 15 runs in four overs.

Left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi was the only expensive bowler, taking one for 37, with his last over leaking 24 runs, including three sixes by top-scorer Sean Williams, but captain Faf du Plessis said Shamsi had bowled three “really good overs” before being targeted by Williams, who made 41 off 28 balls.

“It was one of our best games,” said Du Plessis. “All the bowlers were really good tonight and our batters made it look pretty easy.”

All six of South Africa’s batsmen reached double figures and scored at better than a run a ball, with JP Duminy top-scoring with 33 not out. South Africa won with 4.2 overs to spare.

Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza bemoaned another top-order batting failure.

“We got off to a little bit of a start but we still lost wickets,” he said.

Williams followed up his batting effort by taking two for 25 while Zimbabwe leg-spinner Brandon Mavuta impressed again, taking one for 29.

Masakadza said Zimbabwe’s infrequent international fixtures were a factor, “but it’s our fifth game (in South Africa) and we should be coming right.”

South Africa made four changes from the side that won the first match by 34 runs in East London on Tuesday and Du Plessis said there would be “more experiments” for the final game in Benoni on Sunday.

“The plan was to give everyone two games,” he said, indicating he would be one of the players sitting out on Sunday.

‘For the First Time in a While, Australia Can …

Australia’s battling draw against Pakistan has ushered in a new era for a team desperate to redeem itself in the wake of the sandpaper cheating scandal, media said Friday.

In their first Test outing since the ball-tampering fiasco in South Africa, the Australians salvaged a draw in the opening Test in Dubai thanks to a dogged 141 from opener Usman Khawaja.

While such a result would not normally be cause for celebration, ABC columnist Richard Hinds praised the way Australia refused to concede defeat when facing a seemingly impossible task.

He said it was a promising start for the Test team under new coach Justin Langer, the former batsman who took over after predecessor Darren Lehmann quit in disgrace.

“No one knows more about the value of perseverence and preparation than Langer, given his wonderful career was a triumph of almost torturous dedication and bloody defiance,” Hinds wrote. “If this really was a Langer-era performance, let the dot balls flow.”

A common theme in reports was the contrast between the hardworking team Langer has forged with new captain Tim Paine and the posturing arrogance of the side involved in the ball-tampering affair earlier this year.

The scandal erupted when batsman Cameron Bancroft was caught trying to alter the ball using sandpaper in the third Test at Newlands in South Africa. Bancroft, former captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner were all sent home and handed lengthy bans, with Lehmann and Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland eventually resigning amid a huge public backlash.

ESPNCricinfo’s Australian writer Daniel Brettig said the result against Pakistan “picked up a previously forlorn team off the Newlands killing floor”.

“For the first time in a while, Australia can wake up decidedly proud of their cricket team – of Usman Khawaja and Tim Paine in particular,” he tweeted.

The AAP domestic news agency said there were plenty of positives for Langer and Paine.

“The depleted Australian squad was expected to struggle in the UAE but Paine could hardly have asked for a more spirited display to begin his new era in charge,” it said.

Writing in The Australian, sports reporter Ben Horne praised Khawaja, who made 141 off 302 balls on a deteriorating pitch to post the second-longest knock in a final innings in Test history.

He said the defiant performance forever dispelled perceptions that Khawaja was a lazy player, saying he “suddenly morphed into an instant team leader”.

“In the moment of reckoning in the first series since sandpaper-gate, Khawaja has shown he is now the best batsman in this revamped Australian side,” Horne wrote.

Usma Khawaja’s Knock ‘One of the Great Test In…

Australia captain Tim Paine hailed Usman Khawaja’s painstaking rearguard effort as “one of the great Test innings” after his team clung on for an unlikely draw against Pakistan on Thursday in the series opener in Dubai.

Opener Khawaja batted for eight hours and 44 minutes to help foil Pakistan’s victory bid, while Travis Head (72) and Paine, who finished unbeaten on 61, played key supporting roles to take Australia to 362-8 and save the match.

Paine and number ten batsman Nathan Lyon (five not out) batted out the final 12.1 overs to snatch a draw, as Australia ended 100 short of a daunting 462-run target set by Pakistan.

“I am just really proud of the whole group, how they stuck to our plans and kept digging in. I am really proud of Usman, too, on one of the great Test innings,” said Paine.

“No, it doesn’t feel like a win. We were outplayed. Proud to get something out of it, but we can play a lot better in the next Test,” said Paine, with the second and final Test starting in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

Khawaja, whose best score was 26 in five previous Tests in Asia, admitted it was one of the best innings of his career.

“I normally never sweat through my shirt, but my shirt was drenched and my pants were drenched. That took it out of me a fair bit. I’ve never had an innings like that,” he said.

“To bat that long a period in Asia – it is a bit different. It shows a lot of guts and courage to do something like that,” added Khawaja, whose 524-minute knock was the second longest in a fourth innings in Test history.

‘Worked My Backside Off’

Former England opening batsman Michael Atherton holds the record after his match-saving 185 not out against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1995 spanned 645 minutes.

Khawaja, who was born in Pakistan but emigrated to Australia in his childhood, said he was proud to have scored a hundred for his adopted country.

“It was mostly about getting a hundred for Australia on the last day of a match, trying to save a game. A lot of work goes into playing cricket at the highest level,” he said.

“I work as hard as anyone. I have worked my backside off for the past 10 years, day in, day out.”

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was also full of praise for Khawaja.

“I think I have seen one of the best innings in Test cricket, especially in the fourth innings. The way he batted he took Australia to a draw and played all his shots,” said Sarfraz.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who took only four wickets in the match, was defended by his skipper after Pakistan failed to close out victory.

“He (Yasir) had played the first Test after a year so you have to give him some margin (for error). He is our match-winner so, hopefully, he will bowl better in the next game,” said Sarfraz of Yasir, who went wicketless in the first innings.

“Look when we came today we were confident to win the Test, they fought hard and saved it and that’s the beauty of Test cricket.”

Warne Tips Buttler Over Root for England Test …

London: Shane Warne believes England should seriously consider replacing Joe Root with Jos Buttler as Test captain to allow Root to focus on becoming the world’s best batsman.

Australia spin great Warne says the Yorkshire star could dominate the global game with the bat and feels Buttler would make a “very, very good” Test skipper.

Warne worked with Buttler in his role as mentor for Indian Premier League team Rajasthan Royals and is convinced the Lancashire player has credible Test leadership skills.

“I’ve worked with Jos a bit this year, and I think he’s someone who would make an excellent captain,” said Warne. “I really enjoyed working with him, I’d like to think I helped him out a little bit.”

Warne, who is promoting his autobiography, said Root is England’s best player but would be disappointed with his conversion rate when it came to hundreds.

“He’d love to have more hundreds to be able to be spoken about in the same sentences as Virat Kohli and Steve Smith,” he said.

“Maybe England could think about their best player having the shackles off, not having the responsibility of captaincy, and give it to someone like Jos Buttler,” he added.

“If he (Root) totally 100 percent concentrates on his cricket, his batting and nothing else, then maybe we might see Joe Root become the best batsman in the world,” Warne said. “He’s got the talent to do it.”

Rain Forces Abandonment of First ODI in Dambul…

Dambulla: England’s first ODI in Sri Lanka was abandoned on Wednesday after several hours of monsoon rain in Dambulla. The visitors, put into bat after Sri Lanka’s new captain Dinesh Chandimal won the toss, breezed to 92 for 2 in 15 overs before the heavens opened.

The match, the first in a series of five, was then called off early evening. England’s openers had sped to 49 in eight overs before Nuwan Pradeep had Jonny Bairstow caught behind for 25 and Jason Roy miscued offspinner Akila Dananjaya and was caught for 24.

Joe Root and captain Eoin Morgan then put on a brisk 41-run stand featuring five fours and a six before the deluge arrived.

World number one England had handed ODI debuts to fast bowler Olly Stone, 25, and left-arm spinner Liam Dawson, 28, leaving out both Curran brothers.

Sri Lanka’s XI featured left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan, who was left out from the Asia Cup squad, and fast bowler Pradeep, who has not played an international since January, largely owing to injury.

Monsoon rains impeded Sri Lanka’s training on the day before the match, and had also washed out one of England’s warm-up games.

England have won 29 of their last 39 ODIs, while the hosts are ranked eighth and have lost 30 of their last 40 completed games.

The second ODI is scheduled for Saturday. After the five-match ODI series the sides play one Twenty20 game and three Tests.