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Recent Match Report – Gloucestershire vs Hampshire, Twenty20 Cup (England), South Group

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Gloucestershire 144 for 3 (Bracey 64) beat Hampshire 139 for 6 by seven wickets

Gloucestershire overcame Hampshire on a slow, sluggish Bristol wicket to go fourth in the Vitality Blast South Group, thanks to a canny bowling performance and an impressive 64 from James Bracey.

With Rilee Rossouw (ill), Brad Taylor and Mason Crane (both side strains) missing, Hampshire looked light on batting at the toss, and so it proved. After Aneurin Donald‘s eyecatching innings had taken them to 54 for 1 after the powerplay, their innings fell away horribly as Tom Smith found purchase on a turgid pitch, and their seamers used their usual variety of slower balls and cutters.

A target of 140 was never likely to be easy to defend, and after a cautious first four overs of the chase, the fifth broke the back of the chase and meant Gloucestershire could stay in third gear for the remainder.

The beneficiary of those absentees was Ryan Stevenson, the redhead seamer who came in for his first game of the Blast season, but he must have wished he had spent the night in the dugout as usual.

His first ball would have seen Michael Klinger caught behind but for an umpiring error, and things quickly got worse. Klinger chipped a six over midwicket, then got off strike with a three; Stevenson threw in two wides, was smashed for four twice by Bracey, including once off a no-ball, and then had him out caught off the free hit. One last boundary followed, meaning 25 had come off it, and the asking rate shot down to below six.

From that point, Hampshire were toast, as Bracey and Klinger knocked the ball around easily with little pressure on them to score. This was Klinger’s highest T20 score in just under a year – the situation could hardly have suited him better.

This pitch had seen Gloucestershire only squeeze past Kent’s 125 for 8 last week, and from the moment David Payne started to bowl his cutters in the game’s third over, it seemed clear that this pitch would suit their attack.

The conditions could only have been more perfect if they had been able to call upon the services of Benny Howell, who will miss the rest of the season after injuring his hamstring diving in the field against Surrey last week.

As cover, Gloucestershire brought in Zak Chappell on loan from Nottinghamshire, the young fast bowler with a big future and an even bigger reported salary. He struck early to dismiss James Vince – who he gave a roaring send-off – but proved the most expensive bowler on show; perhaps he was overzealous in his efforts to impress after an underwhelming debut season at Trent Bridge.

Hampshire’s selection – while hampered by injury – looked particularly strange when Chris Morris strode out to bat at number five. It was just the 14th time that Morris had batted in the top five in a T20, despite his 180 matches, and he struggled badly to eke out an unbeaten 18 off 24 balls. That they left out Tom Alsop, while having seven bowling options, seemed curious.

This was the sort of surface on which Gloucestershire tend to thrive, and it was apparent that Andrew Tye‘s influence in his several stints as an overseas player has extended beyond just his wickets. Chris Liddle spoke at the interval about the work the club’s seamers do with one another to develop more slower balls and variations, and he, Tye, and Payne went for just 78 from their 12 overs; Ryan Higgins, so impressive in the win at Surrey, never even made it into the attack.

At the interval, it had looked clear that Liam Dawson would be the key man if Hampshire were to come close, but by the time he came on the asking rate had already fallen to 5.46. He was characteristically frugal, but the game was effectively up by the time he had the opportunity to influence it.

Bracey, who has quietly impressed for the best part of three seasons in the Championship, has only recently nailed down a spot in Gloucestershire’s T20 side, but shone with a mature innings in the chase. He was particularly impressive combating the fiery Morris, nailing an early cover drive and pulling him for four in his second spell. He was a recent call-up for the England Lions, and at 22 looks like an old-school batsman with serious promise.

“I’m really pleased with how we’ve come back from a defeat,” he told Sky. “We just wanted to take the initiative with the new ball, which slid onto the bat nicely. It came off for us and made it easier for us at the back end. I’ve started to find my feet in the last few games, so it’s good to play a match-winning knock.”

Gloucestershire’s campaign thus far has been a stop-start affair, with two no-results and a tie in their first four games keeping them in the bunch of teams competing for the quarter-finals. But with three wins in their last four – and a trip to fourth-placed Somerset on Friday night looming – they are now set to be part of the South Group’s qualification narrative.



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Recent Match Report – Loughborough Lightning vs Lancashire Thunder, Women’s Cricket Super League, 25th Match

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Loughborough Lightning 123 for 2 (Jones 66*) beat Lancashire Thunder 122 (Glenn 3-25, Gunn 3-14) by eight wickets

England wicketkeeper Amy Jones made her second half-century of the competition as Loughborough Lightning eased to an eight-wicket victory over Lancashire Thunder in their Kia Super League clash at Trent Bridge.

Watched by a crowd of more than 3,000 ahead of Nottinghamshire Outlaws’ game against Yorkshire Vikings in the Vitality Blast, opener Jones hit eight fours and a six in her unbeaten 66 as Lightning, already through to next Sunday’s Finals Day at Hove, saw out a sixth win in seven matches with 23 balls to spare.

Thunder, who have lost eight of their nine matches to finish bottom of the KSL table, have one more chance to register a first win when they take on Surrey Stars at Blackpool on Wednesday, having picked up their only points in a tie with Southern Vipers.

Vipers provide Lightning with their final league stage opponents at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday evening in which looks set to be a rehearsal of their likely semi-final meeting at Hove.

“I’m pretty happy to have been able to contribute,” said Jones. “I’ve been a bit quiet since the first game so I’m so pleased to have scored some runs today.

“It’s the first time I’ve played at Trent Bridge so it was pretty cool to make a score here. A lot of people came in early to watch, which was fantastic and it really felt like they were behind us. We’ve picked up some momentum going into the back end of the season and hopefully it holds us in good stead for Finals Day, so we’re really excited.”

Legspinner Sarah Glenn and England allrounder Jenny Gunn finished with three wickets each as Thunder were bowled out for 122 inside 20 overs, Sophia Dunkley top-scoring with 29. South African Sune Luus made 27 but Thunder’s other overseas players, Tahlia McGrath and Harmanpreet Kaur, were out in single figures, the latter for a first-ball duck.

Thunder had made a solid start after winning the toss and electing to bat, reaching 39 for one in the Powerplay overs. Glenn made a breakthrough for Lightning when she bowled Australian opener McGrath for five but Dunkley clubbed six and four off Jo Gardner’s medium pace in the sixth over.

Luus, having picked up three fours while the fielding restrictions were in place, lofted Gunn over the short straight boundary but when she attempted something similar in the same over was well caught by Georgia Adams, who made good ground to get under the ball at long-on.

Glenn then dealt Thunder a major blow when she bowled Indian star Harmanpreet for a golden duck and the Derby-born leggie claimed her third wicket when she held a return catch to dismiss Ellie Threlkeld to finish with 3 for 25 from her four overs, raising her tally in the tournament to nine wickets.

Thunder needed Dunkley to add to her two sixes but when she lost her leg stump to Gunn for 29 in the 12th over to leave her side 70 for five in the 12th over, their best chance of posting a competitive total seemed to have gone, although a lively partnership between Alex Hartley and Natalie Brown added 25 for the last wicket before the latter was run out off the penultimate ball of the 20th over.

The experienced Nottingham-born Gunn finished with three for 14 in front of her home crowd, while Gardner claimed her maiden KSL wicket when Ria Fackrell was stumped by Jones.

It was Jones who then set the pace for the Lightning chase, hitting 23 off as many balls as the Loughborough side kept exactly in tune with what was required by taking 39 without loss in the powerplay.

Thunder made a breakthrough in the 10th over, breaking the Jones-Atapattu partnership when offspinner Emma Lamb held a low return catch to dismiss the Sri Lankan for 26, but new batter Adams swept her first two balls for four and six as Lightning moved to 73 for one at the halfway stage.

Adams was caught at deep midwicket in the next over as Hartley and Brown put a temporary brake on the scoring but Jones then profited from sweeping Lamb before completing a 44-ball half century in the 14th over with Lightning needing only 25 from 38 balls.

Jones finished the match in style, lofting Hartley over long-on for six off the first ball of the 17th over.



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Somerset part company with chief executive Andrew Cornish

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Somerset are understood to have parted company with their chief executive, Andrew Cornish.

Despite an apparently successful season – Somerset retain hopes of completing a treble and have sold out every one of their home T20 Blast games – the club are concerned about a projected shortfall against their upbeat financial predictions.

At the start of the year, the club anticipated profits of £600,000 (before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization). In recent weeks, however, that has been downgraded to the extent that they may struggle to break even.

Somerset have declined to confirm or deny the news. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Cornish who only joined the club at the start of the 2018 season.

Cornish’s departure leaves the club in something of a flux at the top level. The chairman, Charles Clark, recently died meaning they are currently without a permanent chief executive or chairman.

Cornish’s predecessor, Lee Cooper, lasted less than a year in the role meaning the club are looking for their fourth chief executive within two years.

There is no sign of such turbulence on the pitch, however. Somerset, having won the Royal London Cup in May (their first trophy since 2005), are currently second in Division One of the County Championship and have a decent chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the T20 Blast. They have never won the County Championship title.



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‘If you provide good pitches, Test cricket cannot be boring’ – Sachin Tendulkar

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Test cricket can be more exciting if it is played on good pitches, former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar has said, calling the surfaces the format’s “heart” and key to its revival.

Tendulkar cited the surface used for the Ashes Test at Lord’s last week as an example, especially the competitive phase of play between Steven Smith and Jofra Archer.

“The heart of Test cricket is the kind of surface that you play on. If you provide good pitches, cricket cannot be boring, cricket cannot be damp, and [there will always] be those exciting moments, exciting bowling spells, great batting, and that is what people want to see,” Tendulkar said.

Tendulkar felt the duel between Archer and Smith, which included a nasty bouncer from the fast bowler that struck Smith on the neck, got viewers hooked and made Test cricket thrilling to watch.

“Smith got injured unfortunately, that was a big blow to him but Test cricket was exciting when Jofra Archer challenged him, it suddenly became exciting and the focus shifted to Test cricket.

“At Lord’s, they lost almost a day and half, but the Test match got exciting even on the last day when England picked [up] those wickets and Australia had to survive. Test cricket suddenly became exciting and that is how it should be.”

Following the World Cup, teams have turned their focus to the inaugural World Test Championship, which started with Australia taking on England in the Ashes.

“People almost kind of forgot that four-five weeks ago, there was World Cup being played in England, nobody is talking about that, everyone is talking about Test cricket,” Tendulkar said.

Tendulkar, who is the highest run-scorer in Tests with 15921 runs from 200 Tests, emphasised the need to prepare “interesting tracks” to revive interest in the longest format.

“I think Test cricket is going to revive if we produce interesting tracks, but if the tracks are flat and dead then Test cricket is going to find its challenges. I know this World Test Championship has been announced but even to have this World Championship, you’ve got to make cricket interesting, just by having another championship, cricket is not going to get interesting.

Tendulkar also stressed on the art of leaving and defending the ball while heaping praise on Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne. After his defiant 59 at Lord’s coming in as Smith’s concussion substitute, he made a well-crafted 74 and 80 at Headingley, pulling Australia out of trouble on all three occasions.

“I have been watching a little bit of Ashes and I thought someone like Marnus Labuschagne has left the ball brilliantly, which is something that you don’t get to see in Test cricket. Normally you tend to glide those balls to third man and pick [up] a single. But the kind of surfaces they are playing on, if you steer the ball you go to the dressing room.

“You need to leave those balls or defend solidly. And the guys who have not been able to do that, they have been watching the game from the dressing room.”



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