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England’s team culture is as strong as it’s ever been – Eoin Morgan



Eoin Morgan says that the process of whittling England’s World Cup squad down to the final 15-man party was “the toughest decision I’ve ever been a part of”, but believes that he personally, and his team as a whole, have never been better equipped to make the big calls, having grown together in the four years since the 2015 campaign.

Speaking at the launch of England’s World Cup kit in East London, Morgan admitted that his team’s final approach to the tournament had not been entirely smooth – with Alex Hales’ expulsion from the squad for a second failed drugs test providing a particularly unwelcome distraction in recent weeks.

However, with England making a seamless readjustment in Hales’ absence to beat Pakistan 4-0 in another record-breaking run of batting form, Morgan feels that the team have come through a significant stress test of their culture. Looking ahead, he backs his players to find further ways to keep winning in the event of any more disruption in the course of the tournament.

“I wouldn’t say it’s been smooth, I’d say we’ve been better equipped at dealing with anything that’s cropped up, certainly as a group,” said Morgan. “For me as a captain, being more experienced, and having been through four years of being captain, our prep and planning has been excellent and the guys have responded to that by performing on a consistent basis, probably more so for last two years than first two.”

Asked if the Hales situation was the sort of crisis that would have derailed past England World Cup campaigns, Morgan admitted: “Yeah, it probably would have. It’s something I’ve never come up against before.”

However, he also explained that the team management had put in place contingency plans for similar incidents, meaning that they had not been caught entirely on the hop when the news of Hales’ indiscretions were made public.

“We hadn’t planned exactly for that, we’d planned for instances when the [team] culture had been tested or individually we’d been tested,” Morgan said. “There’s still loads of things that we’ve planned for that might continue to crop up throughout the World Cup.

“Our values as a team include the words ‘courage’, ‘respect’, and ‘unity’, symbolising the three lions on our cap, and taking that cap forward across all three formats and all squads,” he added.

ALSO READ: Dobell: Focus on fringe players shows how far England have come

“Over a period of time everyone can relate to it on and off the field. For some people it may only be words, but for us as international cricketers, travelling around all the time, the one thing that’s constant right from the beginning of your journey is your cap. It’s a gentle reminder of how much responsibility you have, and the privileged position you are constantly in to make the most of that.”

That shared journey made this week’s decision to cut Joe Denly and, especially, David Willey from England’s final 15 particularly tough to make, but having been given the casting vote in the selectors’ deliberations, Morgan was able to defend the “logic of the decision and the balance of the squad” that resulted in Jofra Archer and Liam Dawson being called up in their places.

“It was the toughest decision I’ve ever been a part of, certainly with this group,” said Morgan. “To leave two guys out, one who has been around for the last four years and been a big part of everything we’ve done on and off the field, and the other is an exceptionally talented cricketer. It’s unfortunate for those who missed out but it was the right call.”

Morgan added that he wasn’t able to feel any great sense of relief at having made the cut, given that the contributions of both players had required “the time and dedication” to do them justice. However, he was able to reiterate to both the point he made at the presentation ceremony in Headingley last week, that the nature of a six-week tournament would almost certainly throw up the possibility of an replacement being called upon.

“We had a conversation last night,” Morgan said, “explaining the fact that there are nine group-stage games and the fact that we have four fast bowlers, and one of them is likely to get injured. It happens.

“And I had the same conversation with Joe. We haven’t had many injuries in the batting department for a long time, so we need to plan for everything, given that they might come into play straightaway, so they need to be prepared for that.”

Asked if England were playing “fearless” cricket in the wake of their 4-0 series win over Pakistan, Morgan actually felt that his team had reined in some of the more overt aggression that had led to a few rare but notable mishaps in recent years.

“I wouldn’t say that we feel fearless, probably two years ago we felt more fearless, because we were quite young in our growth as a team,” he said. “We’ve had two more years’ experience on top of that, and we are better at coping and adapting to scenarios and recognising different situations throughout a game. I wouldn’t say that’s fearless.”

The team’s single biggest disappointment of the past four years, the Champions Trophy semi-final defeat against Pakistan in 2017, was an example of where England had been derailed in the recent past.

“One of the biggest learning things that came out of that was that it probably came a little bit early for us,” he said. “We probably didn’t realise how good we were and how poor we were on slow wickets. Since then, we’ve improved our play at both home and away, and on wickets that don’t necessarily suit our planning.”

Overall, however, Morgan said that he was simply itching to get started. “We are pretty close to our starting XI, barring a couple of pitch minor adjustments,” he said. “If the game was tomorrow, it would be better for us than seven or eight days’ time. Our preparation against Pakistan was as good as anything we could have hoped for. To perform like we did is extremely encouraging.”

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Former SA pacer Rusty Theron named in USA squad



Rusty Theron, who played for Kings XI Punjab, Deccan Chargers and Rajasthan Royals between 2010 and 2015 in the IPL, has been named in a 30-man USA squad traveling to Los Angeles this weekend for a selection camp. Theron, who also represented South Africa in four ODIs and nine T20Is between 2010 and 2012, will be looking to make the USA squad for the next round of 2020 World T20 Qualifiers, in Bermuda this August.

Theron had retired from South African first-class cricket in 2015 before moving to Florida where he was pursuing a teaching degree at a local college. He has now qualified to represent USA under the ICC’s three-year residency rule. According to multiple sources, USA Cricket had been aggressively pursuing Theron to join their squad for WCL Division Three in Oman last November but he made himself unavailable due to the tournament clashing with his own wedding.

Theron has been a regular fixture at T20 club tournaments around the USA in the last several years, most prominently at the annual US Open T20 Cricket tournament in Florida. It’s the same tournament used by USA’s Ali Khan to gain attention on the T20 franchise radar. Theron appeared there most recently in December for Somerset (New Jersey) Cavaliers where he was team-mates with Andre Russell and helped bowl Cavaliers into the final, where they eventually lost to California Bears.

Also in the USA squad are a pair of English County players with USA passports aiming to force their way into the national team for the first time. Durham’s Cameron Steel and Hampshire’s Ian Holland have both been included in the weekend camp.

The 23-year-old Steel, born in California, made a career-best 224 against Leicestershire at age 21 two seasons ago but has struggled to keep his place in the Durham first XI this season. The 28-year-old Wisconsin-born, Australian-raised Holland similarly has struggled to keep a place in the Hampshire first XI – he was loaned to Northants for the Royal London One-Day Cup – since relocating to England after a solitary first-class appearance for Victoria in 2016.

Another big name to emerge from the list for different reasons is allrounder Timroy Allen, one of USA’s biggest match-winners of the last decade. Allen was a key role player for Jamaica Tallawahs in 2016, playing six matches during their run to the CPL title, but has not played for USA since May 2017 due to work commitments.

Vikash Mohan, former captain of Combined Campuses & Colleges, has also been included in the 30-man list. The US passport holder from Trinidad & Tobago took part in a USA fitness camp at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and was also part of a USA selection camp held in Antigua in February ahead of WCL Division Two in Namibia but was not selected for that tour.

Five other uncapped players are in the 30-man list besides Theron, Holland, Steel and Mohan. The most prominent of the bunch is Akshay Homraj, a former Guyana Under-19 wicketkeeper-batsman who has since migrated to New York and been part of multiple USA squad camps. The others are Dallas batsman Ali Samad, Chicago area wicketkeeper Shaheer Hassan, Los Angeles fast bowler Sahaj Patel and Los Angeles left-arm spinning allrounder Srinivas Raghavan.

Players will participate in six T20 intra-squad trial matches during the camp before a squad is expected to be announced next month ahead of the ICC Americas Regional T20 Qualifier Final in Bermuda to be held from August 18-25. USA will take on Bermuda, Canada and Cayman Islands in a double-round robin event with the top two teams advancing to the Global T20 World Cup Qualifier in the UAE in October.

USA squad: Timroy Allen, Usman Ashraf, Karima Gore, Shaheer Hassan, Ian Holland, Akshay Homraj, Elmore Hutchinson, Aaron Jones, Nosthush Kenjige, Ali Khan, Jaskaran Malhotra, Xavier Marshall, Vikash Mohan, Saurabh Netravalkar, Monank Patel, Nisarg Patel, Sagar Patel, Sahaj Patel, Timil Patel, Kyle Phillip, Srinivas Raghavan, Srini Salver, Ali Samad, Roy Silva, Jessy Singh, Cameron Steel, Abdullah Syed, Steven Taylor, Rusty Theron, Hayden Walsh Jr.

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Recent Match Report – Derbyshire vs Lancashire, County Championship Division Two, 2nd Innings



Lancashire 236 (Croft 53, Reece 6-58) and 4 for 0 beat Derbyshire 153 (Anderson 5-18) and 84 (Onions 5-38, Anderson 4-29) by 10 wickets

With the start of the Ashes six weeks away, the health of Jimmy Anderson is one of England’s prime concerns. MI5 probably have surveillance officers monitoring his every movement, poised to warn of anything disturbing like a bit of a limp or, even worse, the merest sign of a smile.

Intelligence reports from Derby will be filed away with satisfaction. Another four wickets on the third morning for Anderson, and nine in the match at a cost of only 47 runs. Fitness and rhythm exceeding expectations at this stage. Grumpiness at a promising level when the ball kept passing the outside edge. Too many of those to count.

Recommendation: With Lancashire top of Division Two, and 10 days’ inactivity until their next game, against Durham at Sedbergh School, surveillance can be called back. MI5 resources perhaps better employed taking a closer look at Stuart Broad.

The only concern surrounds the fact that the opening day of the Ashes is on Yorkshire Day. As a Lancastrian, Anderson’s mood cannot be reliably predicted.

Twenty-eight Championship wickets at 8.64 runs apiece have massaged Anderson’s mood and, if they have come disturbingly easily, his method looks as ingrained as ever. At 36, his fitness and suppleness remains exemplary. He bowls when he wants and comes off when he chooses.

Derbyshire resumed at 19 for 4, 64 runs away from making Lancashire bat again. It was a modest aim, but as helpful bowling conditions persisted into the third day it was an entirely realistic one. They managed to set Lancashire two runs to win, Keaton Jennings avoided a pair by thick edging the first ball for four and everything was wrapped up five minutes before lunch.

Derbyshire’s fifth-wicket pair survived for 50 minutes more by luck than judgment against Anderson and Graham Onions. Frustration was welling up; the surveillance team by the sightscreen began to fret about possible overload.

Anderson, in solemn mood, applauded Alex Hughes with good humour for managing to leave a wide one after endless playing and missing. Four byes when a bouncer sailed over Harvey Hosein’s head did not disturb him, nor did a hook shot from the same batsmen which fell close to Onions at long leg. At least it was Onions who suffered a bad drop at first slip by Jennings when Hughes managed to make contact.

Then three wickets in seven balls restored equilibrium and the pessimism of Derbyshire supporters was proved to be based on decades of evidence. Anderson claimed the first two. Hughes got bat on an outswinger and then Matt Critchley, seeking out the leg-side as is his habit, was lbw and left gesturing that he touched it.

The third fell to Onions, a simple catch at first slip to remove Luis Reece who had been demoted to No. 8 because of injury and didn’t really look up for it. Logan van Beek drove Anderson to gully and Onions mopped up the last two, including Hosein, who resisted diligently until he was caught behind for 29.

Five to Anderson, four to Onions and the promise of a dry afternoon to return to Manchester. When it comes to fast bowlers, especially vintage ones, the fear is that something could go wrong at any moment. Nothing did. Quite the opposite.

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Shikhar Dhawan ruled out of World Cup, Rishabh Pant confirmed as replacement | Cricket



Shikhar Dhawan was hit on his left hand early in his innings against Australia © Getty Images

Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out of the remainder of the World Cup. The India opener suffered a hairline fracture to his left thumb during his century against Australia last Sunday and hasn’t recovered well enough to play the tournament.

Rishabh Pant, who was rushed in as a cover by the BCCI on June 11, two days after Dhawan suffered the blow, and trained with the Indian squad in Manchester ahead of the Pakistan match, has been announced as Dhawan’s replacement.

Dhawan was present in Southampton today during the Indian training session, with his left hand wrapped in bandage. The update is that the hand will be in a cast for another month or so.

Speaking at a press conference, Sunil Subramaniam, the India team manager, said, “Shikhar has a fracture at the base of his first metacarpal on his left hand. Following several specialist opinions, he will remain in cast until July, mid-July, which rules him out of the ICC World Cup 2019.”

The injury took place when he was facing Pat Cummins in India’s second match of the World Cup, at The Oval. Dhawan carried on batting and scored a century, which earned him the Man of the Match award as India won by 36 runs. However, he did not field during the Australia innings.

Rishabh Pant has trained with the Indian squad over the past few days © Getty Images

He travelled to Leeds to meet a surgeon after that, where the hairline fracture was diagnosed. The Indian selectors opted to take time on the matter and not name a replacement immediately following a positive appraisal from the team’s medical staff led by physio Patrick Farhart.

“We want to hold him back, keep him here, because he wants to play. I think that kind of mindset will help in healing the injury as well as he really wants to play,” Virat Kohli, the India captain, had said on June 14 while discussing the team’s plans vis-à-vis Dhawan.

Dhawan has been the highest scorer in each of the last five multi-team (five-plus teams) ODI tournaments for India – Champions Trophy 2013, Asia Cup 2014, World Cup 2015, Champions Trophy 2017 and Asia Cup 2018 – and was also the only left-hander in the Indian batting order at the World Cup. These are understood to have been big factors in the team’s reaction to his injury. As mentioned previously on ESPNcricinfo, Pant being a left-hand batsman worked in his favour – ahead of Ambati Rayudu, the other frontline batsman among the stand-bys – even though he has only played five ODIs and has a not-too-impressive record: 93 runs in four innings, at an average of 23.25 and strike rate of 130.08.

Following the injury to Dhawan, India’s match against New Zealand was washed out, and KL Rahul opened the innings alongside Rohit Sharma in the next match, against Pakistan, scoring a 78-ball 57. Rahul’s presence in the squad helped the Indians opt for Pant, usually a middle-order batsman.

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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