COVID-19: ECB suspends professional cricket till May 28, delays start of new season

News Network
March 21, 2020

London, Mar 21: The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has suspended all professional cricket till May 28, delaying the start of the new season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ECB took the decision following discussions with the First-Class Counties, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA).

"It was agreed that, given the current information available, a seven-week delay to the start of the season is the most appropriate approach," an ECB media statement said.

The Board also announced that it is working on three new options, including the three-Test series against West Indies, the T20 Cup and the women's schedule against India, for a possible start in June, July or August.

"Close liaison with the Government will continue, with discussions on the potential of starting the season behind closed doors and giving sports fans the opportunity to live broadcast action," the statement said on Friday.

"The potential for reduced versions of competitions, should the season become further truncated, will also be discussed."

The ECB said it will meet as needed to review the position and make further decisions as the UK situation unfolds.

"During this period of deep uncertainty it is the ECB’s first priority to protect the wellbeing of everyone within the cricket family, from players, to fans and colleagues across the game,’’ ECB Chief Executive Officer Tom Harrison said.

"The decision to delay the start of the season has been essential, given the circumstances the nation faces. I am reassured by the collaborative effort from across the game that together, we will make the very best of whatever length of season we are able to safely schedule in the coming months," he added.

He said this would give the ECB time to keep pace with a fast-moving situation and continue to plan for how a revised season might look.

"Critically, we can also remain as flexible and adaptable as possible, within the obvious restrictions we face."

Last week, England's tour of Sri Lanka was called off mid tournament in view of the rising threat of the pandemic.

"Securing the future of the game will be a primary focus as we plot a revised schedule with an emphasis on the most financially important forms of the game for the counties across international and domestic cricket," Harrison said.

The COVID-19 global death toll has climbed past 11,000 with more than 250,000 infected. In UK, close to 4000 have tested positive so far and 177 died.

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News Network
September 11,2020

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Former New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris feels Ambati Rayudu is the ideal candidate to bat at number three for Chennai Super Kings after Suresh Raina's pullout from the upcoming IPL.

Weeks before the start of the 13th edition of the league, Raina pulled out abruptly citing personal reasons, his decision coming in the wake of the 13 positive cases of COVID-19 in the CSK unit. IPL starts on September 19.

"Personally, I'd put Rayudu in there to take that spot," Styris said on Star Sports show 'Cricket Connected'.

Styris acknowledged that Raina's absence has left a huge void in the CSK middle-order and that it is not going to be easy to find a substitute for the seasoned left-handed batsman who last month retired from international cricket.

"...a player of that class, a player who has been so good for so long. To suddenly finds those runs, even in the field and the odd over as well with the ball, is going to be a big task.

"I know that the CSK squad is deep, they've got a lot of options at the top, but I also believe that as much as the pressure is now on to find that No. 3, it's just probably the most challenging time that I can look for anyway for CSK.

"And in particular, the leadership of this group – I think with (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni and Stephen Fleming – it's up to them now to bring the group together, now that they have lost Raina and Harbhajan (Singh)."

Under Dhoni's leadership, CSK will be looking to win their fourth IPL title and draw level with Mumbai Indians.

Moved out of India due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, the IPL will be held in the three cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in the UAE from September 19 to November 10.

On CSK, Styris added, "Couple of options they could go with, the two overseas players at the top and bring in the youngster Gaekwad as well or they may decide to have a pitch-hitter."

Speaking about the team's possible bowling combination in the absence of the veteran Harbhajan Singh, who too withdrew due to personal reasons, former India seamer Ajit Agarkar said CSK has a lot of options in the spin department.

"...that kind of experience, quality that you lose, it is going to be a loss, but I think CSK have a lot more cover in that department at least as far as spin is concerned," Agarkar said.

"They have got Piyush Chawla as well that they have brought in. This year they have got (Imran) Tahir, (Mitchell) Santner, so they have got enough spin.

"...And they will be hoping that the conditions are in their favour what they get in Chennai, which is a little bit of turn, then those spinners come into play."

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News Network
September 19,2020

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Dubai, Sept 19: Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting believes that senior batsman Ajinkya Rahane's inclusion adds "more depth" to the side but there will be a healthy competition for middle-order slots during this IPL season.

The Capitals, which finished third last year, will start their campaign against Kings XI Punjab on Sunday and both Ponting and skipper Shreyas Iyer agreed that R Ashwin and Rahane have been great additions to the young side with their experience they brought in.

While the coach didn't give away much but there is a possibility that India's Test vice-captain may have to wait for his chance in the playing XI considering the explosive top five (Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetmyer) that DC possesses. There is in-form Alex Carey also in the mix.

"We really have a balanced side. There is a lot of competition for middle-order slots. Rahane gives us more depth to our batting," the Australian legend said on Saturday during his team's pre-season virtual media conference sitting, alongside skipper Iyer.

"Shikhar had as good a last season as anybody. Prithvi has been training very well. Shreyas has had his best 12 months for the Indian team. We have Pant, Hetmyer and Alex Carey (both left-handers), which gives us a good mix of left-right combination. We have our bases covered," Ponting said, giving a subtle hint about Rahane's immediate future.

Iyer, on his part, said that Ashwin and Rahane have mixed well within the group and never gave a sense that they are senior players.

"They give that extra sense of confidence. You don't feel that they are seniors and are willing to help every individual," said Iyer, who believes that Ashwin will be beneficial for the team, given his idea of the KXIP core team (Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal) and the slowish nature of the Dubai track.

Ponting also felt that wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant has been shaping up well since last week and he is expecting another good season from the burly southpaw.

"Pant, during the last week, has really turned the corner well and I would expect him to perform as well as he did last year.

"In DC, we as a coaching group don't put added pressure on the players. We like to take as much as possible pressure off them. We never expect any such thing from them which they don't expect from themselves," the coach said.

With Dubai hosting 24 games out of the 60, Ponting is sure that the tracks will get slower in the second half of the tournament and spin will become more important factor.

"Conditions might change through the tournament. They have four tracks in Dubai that will host 24 games. I saw a lot of green grass cover on the track and before the game, some of it will be off. I don't see a lot of spin now but it might become a factor during later part of the tournament," the three-time ODI World Cup winner said.

Considering the nature of the track, Ponting is confident that replacement left-arm seamer Daniel Sams can be very effective with his slower off-cutters and a pace of 135 to 140 kmph.

"I have watched Daniel Sams for the last three to four years. He has been one of the highest wicket-takers in BBL. He could be effective during the back end of the tournament when pitches will get slower. He has variations and bowls lot of off-cutters. He gives us left-arm option," Ponting said.

About celebrations, Iyer said that the players are restricting it to "fist bumps", something they had been doing during practice games.

While concluding, Ponting said that the "ban on saliva" at least in white ball cricket and that too in T20 won't be that big deal compared to red ball cricket.

"But it's about habit. We need to be careful as if you do it multiple times, you can cop hefty fines," he said.

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Agencies
September 19,2020

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Mumbai, Sept 19: Ahead of the much-anticipated clash against Chennai Super Kings in the opening game of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to be played on Saturday evening at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma has said that he enjoys playing against the MS Dhoni-led side but is never "overawed" by them.

The two most successful teams in the IPL have faced each other 28 times with MI holding an edge over CSK as they have won 17 games and lost 11.

"Playing against CSK is always fun, we enjoy that battle. But when we play the game, it is just another opposition for us and that is how we want to move forward and not get overawed by the opposition," Rohit said in a video posted by Mumbai Indians on their official Twitter handle.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya feels it is a clash between the two most loved teams of the tournament.

"It has become a game which people look forward to. MI and CSK are the two franchises that are most loved by the fans and that's how it (clash) has become special," said Hardik.

"I don't now, we all will get our A-game out when we are playing against CSK and I wish we always do that," he added.

In their last meeting in the 2019 IPL final, Mumbai Indians had won the match by one run to clinch the title for a record fourth time.

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