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New Zealand Star Hayley Jensen Marries Former …

New Zealand women cricketer Hayley Jensen has married her former Melbourne Stars teammate Nicola Hancock. The wedding ceremony took place last weekend.

Big Bash League (BBL) franchise Melbourne Stars took to Twitter to announce the development and congratulated the couple by sharing a picture of the wedding ceremony with the caption: “From #TeamGreen, congratulations to Stars bowler Nicola Hancock who married her partner Hayley Jensen last weekend!”

All-rounder Jensen, who played for the Melbourne Stars in the first two editions of the Big Bash Women’s League, moved to the Melbourne Renegades for the third edition. Whereas, Hancock still continues to play with the ‘Team Green’ in the BBL.

The 26-year-old Jensen made her international debut in 2014 against West Indies.

In October 2018, she was named in White fern’s squad for the 2018 ICC Women’s World T20 tournament in the West Indies. She also bagged the Una Paisley medal for the best player in the Victoria Women’s Premier Cricket competition in season 2017/18.

Hancock, 23, on the other hand, enjoyed a great run in the latest season of BBL and became the second-highest wicket-taker after scalping 13 wickets from 14 matches.

IPL 2019 | Dhawan Breaks Into a Jig With Pandy…

They might have lost the game to Mumbai Indians by 40 runs, but Delhi Capitals opener Shikhar Dhawan had a fun time when MI all-rounder Hardik Pandya met him before the game at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Thursday night. The two were seen sharing a hug as the bromance was clearly on display.

IPLT20 posted the video on their Instagram which read: “Even Gabbar cannot withstand the ? effect of having Hardik Pandya around ?? That bonding though.”

Chasing 169, DC made a mess of the target after Dhawan was dismissed for 35 in the 7th over of the innings by Rahul Chahar. After a quality start of 48/0 in the first six overs, Dhawan’s wicket opened the floodgates as Chahar kept picking up wickets and finished with figures of 3/19 from his four overs.

While Chahar sent back Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw (20) and skipper Shreyas Iyer (3), Krunal Pandya sent back the dangerous Colin Munro (3) as Delhi were never really in the chase on a low and slow Kotla wicket.

Earlier, Hardik Pandya (32 off 15 balls) and Krunal (37*) provided the late order flourish as Mumbai Indians scored 168/5 in their 20 overs. Having bowled a disciplined line and length through the innings, the DC bowlers lost the plot in the last five overs as the MI batsmen picked up 64 runs.

While Krunal was the anchor during the 54-run partnership, Hardik once again showed why he is such a dangerous batsman in the death overs as he used the long handle to excellent effect to dig out the low full tosses and attempted yorkers and sent them over the ropes till Kagiso Rabada dismissed him off the third ball of the 20th over.

ICC World Cup 2019: ‘Don’t Want to Step on Toe…

Jofra Archer did his best to take the heat out of a potentially awkward situation with his new England team-mates after a quicker than expected call-up put him on course for a place in the hosts’ World Cup squad.

The uncapped dynamic all-rounder was included Wednesday in a 17-man squad for next month’s one-day internationals against Pakistan and Ireland.

The Barbados-born rising star, was, however, left out of the 15-man preliminary World Cup squad.

The Sussex paceman could still have as many as six one-day internationals – one against Ireland and five against Pakistan as well as a Twenty20 against Pakistan – to force his way in before the final World Cup squad deadline of May 23.

“I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, the squad selected for the World Cup deserve it and my job is to do my very best against Pakistan,” said 24-year-old Archer who has an English father and holds a British passport.

He completed a three-year qualification period on March 17 after the England and Wales Cricket Board changed its residency rules.

Under the previous system, he would not have been eligible until 2022 after a seven-year residency.

The prospect of Archer playing at the World Cup has caused concern among several more established England rivals for a pace-bowling berth including Chris Woakes, David Willey and Mark Wood, amid suggestions his inclusion could damage team morale.

“Of course I want to play in the World Cup, but if it doesn’t happen for me I’m not going to get upset,” Archer added.

“I’m going to give it my best shot. I’ve worked pretty much all my life for this moment and I just want to tackle it and put my best foot forward.”

He added: “I was fully prepared in my mind that it was going to be a seven-year job. When I found out I was qualified more quickly it was obviously a bit of a shock but also exciting.”

‘Whirlwind’

“It feels really overwhelming. I didn’t expect to ever be good enough to play for England until the last couple of years after I started doing well in T20 tournaments and it’s been a whirlwind period for me.”

Warwickshire all-rounder Woakes, asked about the possibility of Archer playing at the World Cup, said Tuesday: “It probably wouldn’t be fair, morally, but at the same time it’s the nature of international sport.”

Archer and another Barbados-born Sussex player, Chris Jordan, were both added to the 15-man squad that played a one-day series in the West Indies earlier this year.

A 90 mph bowler, excellent fielder and aggressive batsman, Archer has been impressing in the Indian Premier League, taking three for 15 for the Rajasthan Royals – where his team-mates include England’s Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes – against Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday.

Stokes recently described Archer as one of the most “naturally gifted” bowlers he had seen and England chief selector Ed Smith told reporters at Lord’s: “Jofra Archer is a very exciting cricketer and there was a broad desire to give him the opportunity to play for England before the World Cup before we make the final decision in just over a month.”

As for Woakes’ comments, former England batsman Smith added: “He said specifically he did not think the inclusion of Jofra Archer would disrupt the squad, that’s also the view of the captain, Eoin Morgan, and (coach) Trevor Bayliss.”

England, top of the ODI rankings, are seeking their first men’s World Cup title following three losing appearances in the final – the last in 1992.

The World Cup is set to begin with England’s match against South Africa at The Oval on May 30.

Bancroft Smashes Match-winning Ton on Durham O…

Cameron Bancroft hit an unbeaten and match-winning 151 on his one-day debut for Durham as the Australia batsman started to repay the English county’s faith in him.

“Hopefully (I’m winning the crowd over). I’m just going out there to enjoy my cricket and to enjoy playing for Durham. Hopefully, making some runs and if that’s going to win them over, fantastic,” he said.

Bancroft was banned for nine months after being caught in the Australia ball-tampering scandal during their tour of South Africa last year.

The ‘sandpaper-gate’ incident during the Newlands Test against South Africa also led to Bancroft’s Australia team-mates Steve Smith and David Warner receiving year-long suspensions.

After returning in Australia’s Big Bash League in December, and playing a role in the back end of Western Australia’s current Sheffield Shield campaign, Bancroft has joined up with Durham with a view to making Australia’s Ashes squad.

Durham, now under a new Australian director of cricket in Marcus North, attracted criticism in some quarters when they recruited Bancroft.

But the 26-year-old was controversially appointed Durham captain and, making his maiden limited overs appearance for the northeast side, Bancroft piled up the runs in their 72-run win at home to Northamptonshire in a One-Day Cup match at Chester-le-Street on Wednesday.

“Winning always creates a nice feeling,” Bancroft told the Northern Echo.

“The guys have been working hard so it’s nice to start this tournament really well and personally it was nice to get some runs.”

Bancroft, who played in the 2017-18 Ashes, plundered five sixes and eight fours in a 188-minute stay at the crease.

Together with Michael Richardson, he put on 208 for the fourth-wicket before the latter was ousted in the final over.

Durham went on to score 342 for five from their 50 overs.

IPL 2019 | Kohli Still Learning as a Captain: …

Virat Kohli is still learning as a captain, feels former Australia batsman Simon Katich ahead of his team Kolkata Knight Riders’ clash with the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Eden Gardens on Friday.

RCB and India skipper Kohli has cut a forlorn figure more often than not in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season as his team slumped to one defeat after the other, currently finding themselves rooted to the bottom of the table with seven losses from eight outings. On Monday night, they lost to Mumbai Indians by five wickets.

Arguably one of the best batsman to have ever played the game, Kohli has failed to inspire his bunch and Katich, who is the assistant coach of KKR, feels the 30-year old still needs to develop as a leader.

“I don’t know how he operates within the group. He is probably still learning as a captain as well,” Katich said.

“You can be a great player as he is, leadership is something that can be developed over a long period of time. So he is still in a phase where he is learning a lot about himself as a leader,” said the 43-year old former Test opener.

Kohli will lead the Indian team to the World Cup in a little more than a month’s time in England and Wales.

Katich said while Kohli the batsman cannot be faulted, MS Dhoni’s guidance will be the key at the mega event starting May 30.

“He has got everything covered as a player, he is going to go down as one of the all time greats. There is no doubt about that. As a leader, he has got attributes like passion and energy he brings to the team, India and RCB. He wants to win and has got a strong desire to succeed which is what you need as a captain.

"But there is also more to it than that. Getting the best out of players, being able to allow players to feel comfortable playing the way they play to help them be as successful as possible. He is learning from one of the greats (Dhoni). As a player you like the captain backing you and that’s something that Virat is still learning as a captain.”

KKR will take on RCB looking for a win badly to snap their three-game losing streak.

Asked about RCB’s travails, Katich opined the team may have not been able to gel together as a unit and don’t seem clear in the way they want to play despite having star players in their arsenal.

“You look at some of the players they have had, I guess you got to ask the question, are they clear in the way they want to play? Because in terms of what they have at their disposal, they haven’t been able to gel as a unit.

"That’s something only the coaches and captain can answer. We can only answer from our position and from an opposition point of view, we try to exploit their weaknesses. And if there is over reliance on any players, you try to exploit that by putting pressure on them.”

Katich also backed KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik to bat at No.4 for India in the World Cup after the stumper-batsman trumped Dhoni’s heir-apparent Rishabh Pant to the 15-member squad announced on Monday.

“There is lot of talk around that No.4 spot, and he is a guy who likes to spend time in the middle. Once he is set, he is very hard to bowl to at the back end. He has got all the tricks and he does have the timing and power to clear the rope,” Katich said.

Karthik hasn’t been among runs so far in the IPL, batting at No.5 or No.6. Katich believes it is down to the lack of opportunities that the 33-year old has got.

“He can potentially bat higher. He has done very well as a finisher. There is no doubt he is in good form, he just needs opportunities. There is no doubt that when he has got opportunities, he has done well for India and KKR,” he concluded.

Former Cricketer Chris Lewis on Long Walk Back…

Chris Lewis’s journey from opening the bowling for England in the 1992 World Cup final to contemplating suicide and being convicted of drugs smuggling has him feeling as ambitious as when he was a teenager, he said.

The 51-year-old – who represented England over 80 times in Tests and one-day internationals – said it was fear over being penniless that drove him to smuggle £140,000 ($183,000) of cocaine in cans of fruit into England from St Lucia in 2008.

He stood to earn £50,000 from the deal – instead he ended up serving six and a half years of a 13-year prison term.

The engaging and lithe former all-rounder is presently touring with the play written by Dougie Blaxland (the pen name of former cricketer James Graham-Brown) about his life called “A Long Walk Back”.

“Do you know, the funny thing is I would suggest I am more ambitious and more optimistic than I have ever been in my life,” Lewis told AFP in an interview conducted at the Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke.

“This is a stage of my life I should have gone through in my 20s with a whole set of new experiences.

"It is a place I have not been since I was a teenager… a place when that teenage boy was dreaming of being a cricketer.”

The play, directed by Australian husband and wife Shane Morgan and Moira Hunt of the Bristol-based Roughhouse Theatre, has helped re-light the fire within him.

“It (the play) all comes together from an idea of how we have reached here when less than a decade ago I was sat in a prison cell and my life was more than over,” Lewis said.

‘Point the Finger’

It is a far cry from when Lewis, whose long-term girlfriend Patricia stayed loyal despite him putting her ‘through the wars’, contemplated taking his own life on the first night he was incarcerated after his arrest.

“You cannot get over the prospect of facing a sentence of 15 years,” he said. “If you have not been in jail it seems an unimaginable amount of time.

"The question of ‘if this goes the wrong way what will you do’ and (suicide) was certainly something on the table.

"It is ironic that after being sentenced to 13 years that did not occur to me.”

Lewis, whose morale was greatly helped by former Surrey team-mate Jason Ratcliffe who offered him help from the start, largely kept himself to himself in prison.

“A strange thing that happened was sitting on my bed the night after the sentence had been passed and I cried and it got a lot of emotions out,” he said.

“After I had done crying that night I had no need to cry again.

"In terms of the cell… let us say if you like the fragrance of someone else – the toilet is right next to the bed – there are some people who may put up with that because they want company.

"I was more the other way I wanted to be on my own having some control of one’s environment and keep your room a certain way.”

There were certain rules that Lewis imposed on himself from the start of his jail term – neither listening to music nor telling his adored grandmother Eunice Joseph back in Guyana about his fall from grace.

“I stopped listening to music immediately because a certain tune can take you back to a particular moment,” he said.

“My mum (Patricia) and aunts took the decision not to tell my grandmother who was very proud of me and I wholeheartedly agreed with it.

"I would ring her from prison and ensured every Christmas that one of my brothers would send her money from me so she would think everything was normal.

"Sadly she was pretty sick at the time, bedridden, and died while I was inside,” he says, his voice choking with emotion.

In the play, Lewis takes part in a question and answer session with the audience, fielding sometimes awkward enquiries.

He says he is pleased by the play – which has included two prisons on its tour – because it explores the emotional side of his story and the battle he had to accept who was to blame for his predicament.

“It was not immediate but eventually I came to the conclusion the person who has the final say in stuff that happened in your life is me.

"It is hard then to start to point the finger without pointing it backwards.”

ICC World Cup 2019 | Gavaskar Surprised at Ris…

New Delhi: Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar was surprised as young stumper Rishabh Pant was not included in Indias 15-member World Cup squad.

Dinesh Karthik pipped Pant in the fight for the second wicketkeeper’s slot for the showpiece event, starting May 30 in England and Wales. Gavaskar however, also said that Karthik is a better wicketkeeper.

“A bit surprised, looking at his (Pant’s) form. He was batting exceptionally well, not only in the IPL but before that also. He was showing great improvement his wicket-keeping as well. He brings that left-handed option in the top-six which is very handy against the bowlers,” Gavaskar was quoted as saying by India Today.

“The bowlers have to change their line (for a left-hander) and the captains have to do a lot of field arrangements,” he opined.

“On a morning when say, MSD (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) has a flu and can’t play, you want somebody who is a better wicket-keeper. I think Karthik’s wicket-keeping skills, more than anything, have won him this place,” Gavaskar said.

He added that Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar will be a valuable asset for the team.

“He is a cricketer who has improved over the last one year. He has grown in confidence. Shankar is a very useful cricketer. He is a very very good batsman, handy bowler, and an outstanding fielder,” the batting great explained.

Balanced Team Makes India Strong World Cup Con…

New Delhi: Soon after the naming of the Indian squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, starting on May 30 in England and Wales, former batting great VVS Laxman said the Virat Kohli-led side was one of the favourites for the showpiece event.

“The Indian team is very balanced and one of the strong contenders for the title. I have monitored Bhuvi and Vijay in the nets while they were on Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) duties,” Laxman said.

“They look in great shape and are raring to perform on a stage like World Cup. I can see these players contributing to team’s success in a major way,” he added.

An elated Bhuvneshwar Kumar, currently leading the Hyderabad pace attack, said, “I am extremely happy. The English conditions will suit my strength and I am looking to make most of it. Playing for SRH in IPL has given me the right match practice just before the mega tournament like World Cup. This is my second WC and I am pretty confident to perform at such level.”

Vijay Shankar, currently playing for Hyderabad and will be playing his first World Cup, said getting a place in India’s World Cup squad was like a dream come true. “I am extremely elated. This is like a dream come true. We have a few World cup winning team members here at SRH and I have spoken to them to understand what it feels like to play in a WC and then go on to win it.”

“I have learnt a lot from them on the ways to manage pressure at such a large event,” Shankar said.

Bangladesh to Call Shakib Back From IPL for Wo…

Bangladesh will ask star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan to return from Indian Premier League (IPL) and join the team’s World Cup preparation camp next week, the nation’s Cricket Board said Monday (April 15).

Shakib is currently in India with his IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad.

“Our camp is beginning. I have asked to send a letter to Shakib immediately to come back. Let’s see how he responds to this,” said Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan in Dhaka.

“We have not discussed yet whether he will join the camp. Since the camp is going to start, its important send him a letter so that he can join.“

Shakib has played just one game this season, where he up one wicket for 42 runs in 3.4 overs against his former franchise Kolkata Knight Riders.

It was the only competitive game for Shakib since returning from an injury he picked up during the Bangladesh Premier League final in January.

In a star-studded line-up featuring Australia’s David Warner, England’s Jonny Bairstow, New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, and Afghanistan duo Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, Bangladesh is concerned Shakib might not get more matches in the coming days.

Unable to get enough games, Shakib recently invited his personal coach Mohammad Salahuddin to India in order to keep him ready for the World Cup.

Bangladesh will start their preparation camp for the tournament on April 22 and the team will leave for the UK in early May. They are scheduled to play a tri-nation tournament in Ireland from May 5-17.

The World Cup will be held in the UK from May 30 to July 14 with Bangladesh starting their campaign against South Africa at the Oval on June 2.

Stokes Backs ‘Gifted’ Archer to Make England W…

England’s Ben Stokes believes fellow all-rounder Jofra Archer has a strong chance of being included in their World Cup squad, saying the “naturally gifted” player could improve any team in world cricket.

Barbados-born Archer, who shone for Sussex last season and in Australia’s Big Bash Twenty20 league for Hobart Hurricanes, is eligible for national selection under new England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) residency rules.

The uncapped 24-year-old has played 28 first-class games and has a number of high-profile admirers, including former players Nasser Hussain and Devon Malcolm.

“Jofra makes any team better,” Stokes told The Doosra podcast on BBC Radio 5 Live.

“He is the most naturally gifted bowler I’ve seen and I don’t think he quite realises how good he is. Some of the things he can do at the click of a finger are just ‘wow’. It’s pretty special to watch.

"To have someone at the pace he bowls and the skills he has… the selectors are going to be scratching their heads… it’s a great position to be in as an England team when you’ve got a player with the skill level Jofra’s got.”

Archer and Stokes are team mates at Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.

In February, England coach Trevor Bayliss said a decision over Archer was the “final piece of the jigsaw” in their World Cup plans.

Hosts England, who are set to name their provisional squad next week, begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa at The Oval on May 30.