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Nottinghamshire prevail in morning of 12-wicket madness



Nottinghamshire 222 (Bailey 3-26, Livingstone 3-27, Mennie 3-46) and 10 for 4 (Mennie 3-4) beat Lancashire 158 (Ball 5-43) and 73 (Gurney 6-25, Ball 4-14) by six wickets

It was a morning when batsmen came and went like leaders of UKIP; a morning when the rapidity of events boggled the scrambled mind and outstripped the scribbling pen; a morning when 12 wickets fell in exactly 15 overs, Lancashire losing their last eight for 15 runs. Then Nottinghamshire leaked another four in scoring the mere ten runs they required to give Steven Mullaney a six-wicket victory on his championship debut as skipper.

But when this ridiculous game leaves its marbles in the changing room, it is important to identify a moment of calm brilliance which encapsulates the hurtling sequence of events. In the sixth over of the morning Jake Ball bowled a ball to Steven Croft which pitched somewhere near the line of middle stump before hitting the top of off. The blameless batsman strolled away, perhaps thinking that if a cricketer has been born who can play those, he would like to congratulate his or her parents on their genes.

During the winter Ball was presented with the shortest of straws by England; he was asked to bowl it short when his strength is pitching it up. Today on a wicket which was always softer, colder and damper than it looked, Ball dismissed three more batsmen to finish the innings with 4 for 14 and the match with 9 for 57. Twice in eight balls he was driven to the boundary by Liam Livingstone; undaunted he stuck to his craft, pitched it up again and saw the Lancashire skipper edge a catch to Tom Moores when attempting another booming drive.

But by the time Lancashire’s new captain was dismissed, the good ship Red Rose was already capsizing. It had been holed as early as the third ball of the morning when Keaton Jennings played a milksop of a leg-side push to a straight ball from Harry Gurney. Umpire Graham Lloyd did not have to think too long about the leg before. Next over Shivnarine Chanderpaul, a man who is well used to batting across geological eras, could not get over a ball from the excellent Gurney and was taken at slip by Ross Taylor.

Then Livingstone departed; then Croft. 66 for 6. There was much harrumphing and a modicum of hoping in the Old Trafford pavilion but the lower order could do nothing to halt the slide. Nottinghamshire’s slip catching was outstanding, as Jordan Clark and Dane Vilas discovered, when Chris Nash and Riki Wessels scooped up chances. Gurney finished with a career-best 6 for 25 in the innings and 8 for 43 in the match. Eight batsmen had been dismissed in ten overs this morning and Lancashire had lost all ten second-innings wickets for 24 runs.

“Extraordinary is probably the right word for it,” agreed the Nottinghamshire coach Peter Moores. “It was an outstanding hour of cricket by us. The quality of the bowling and catching was absolutely fantastic. Harry Gurney bowled brilliantly all game and Jake Ball did what Jake Ball can do. If he wanted to make a statement in the first game of the county championship season then he’s done it.”

But still we were not done with madness. Presented with an opportunity to lead his side home in sober fashion, Mullaney hooked the seventh ball of the innings to Graham Onions at long leg. Two overs later, Joe Mennie struck again when Nash was hustled for pace and Haseeb Hameed scampered back from slip to take a brilliant diving snare some forty yards from the stumps. More conventional efforts by Livingstone removed Jake Libby and Taylor. Some folk jested that ten runs might be too stiff a target. As it turns out it is the lowest total ever successfully chased when losing four wickets. But you knew that anyway.

The game ended when Riki Wessels nudged a single backward of square on the leg side. It was almost the only mundane moment of the day. The two sides lined up to shake hands; it is cricket’s answer to line-dancing. One thought of the two skippers trying to cope with the aftermath of mayhem. There is an enormous difference between the idea of doing a thing and actually doing it. The former is a diverting notion whereas the latter is often hard work. When invited to captain their respective counties Livingstone and Mullaney were no doubt attracted by the prospects. They have now discovered what leadership is like when Dame Cricket takes a hand. They had better get used to the glorious madhouse.

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Chennai Super Kings seek to recreate stronghold at new home | Cricket




Big Picture

Much has changed since Chennai Super Kings last played Rajasthan Royals in 2015. Shane Watson has switched camps. Suresh Raina has missed an IPL game in yellow jersey. Ajinkya Rahane hasn’t conformed to the hold-my-end-up-and-let-the-rest-hit-around-me norm. And the MA Chidambaram Stadium will not host CSK’s home matches this season.

It’s the last two of those that have the most bearing presently. This new-found aggression of Rahane has been abrupt. T20 logic dictates that your most effective batsmen get the maximum opportunities to score. With a smart strike-rate of 109, Rahane didn’t fit that bill. But with 72 runs off the last 39 balls he has faced, Rahane has understood the need of the hour better. It is a significant shift in strategy, which could have a ripple effect on the rest of the batting line-up.

This isn’t the first time that CSK have had to move to a new home – MS Dhoni’s hometown of Ranchi hosted them in 2014 and 2015. But with 34 wins in 48 IPL matches, the MA Chidambaram Stadium has for long been a stronghold, and how they adapt to a forced change of venue will be key to the remainder of their season. With a run rate of 13.22 in the last five overs so far, CSK have redefined death-overs batting, with each of their innings being characterised by manic late surges. But it is their bowling – they have conceded an average total of 188 so far – and fielding that will worry them the most.

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

In the news

  • MS Dhoni batted through a back injury in their previous match against Kings XI Punjab, but he trained with the team on the eve of the game against Royals. Raina, who had missed CSK’s previous match because of a calf injury, also resumed training and could return to the team on Friday.
  • David Willey, who was Kedar Jadhav’s replacement player for CSK, was seen bowling extensively in the nets on match eve. Does that mean an IPL debut for the England allrounder?
  • Like Short, Ben Laughlin has fared poorly, going at 10.39 an over. Royals have a potential replacement in Jofra Archer, although it isn’t clear yet if he has recovered from the side strain that kept him out of much of the Pakistan Super League and the start of the Indian Premier League.

The likely XIs

Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Ambati Rayudu, 3 M Vijay/Suresh Raina, 4 Sam Billings (wk), 5 MS Dhoni/Dhruv Shorey, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Shardul Thakur, 11 Imran Tahir

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane (capt), 2 D’Arcy Short/Heinrich Klassen, 3 Sanju Samson, 4 Rahul Tripathi, 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 K Gowtham, 8 Shreyas Gopal, 9 Dhawal Kulkarni, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Ben Laughlin/Joffra Archer

Strategy punt

  • While opening with spin has become a common theme this season, CSK will want to have enough overs of spin left when Ben Stokes arrives. In four innings this season, Stokes has fallen twice to spin, and has managed only 22 runs off the 25 balls from spinners.
  • Royals have steered away from using their spinners in the slog overs so far, but they may be forced to change that. Laughlin and Jaydev Unadkat, their two strike bowlers, have fared poorly in this phase. While Laughlin has conceded 46 runs off 3.5 overs and doesn’t have a single wicket, Unadkat has fared worse, going at 16.5 an over while also being wicketless.

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Stats that matter

  • Both teams have had an equal level of success and failure in Pune. While CSK have won one and lost one, Rajasthan Royals have won and lost two games each.
  • While CSK have an overall record of 11 wins and six defeats against Royals, the last five matches between these two teams have been more closely fought, with CSK winning three and Royals winning two.
  • Ben Laughlin has dismissed Dwayne Bravo on each of the three occasions he has bowled to the batsman in T20s. Off the nine balls he has faced from Laughlin, Bravo has seven runs.
  • Sanju Samson needs 66 more runs to become the fifth batsman to score 1000 runs for Royals in the IPL.
  • Imran Tahir has an excellent record in Pune, averaging two wickets per match, with an average of 15.1 and economy rate of 7.8.
  • Both Sanju Samson and Ben Stokes’ only T20 centuries have come in Pune.

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Fantasy picks

  • Big hitter, electric fielder, and a bowler who can give you four overs: Ben Stokes is an excellent T20 package. Even if he does fare badly in one of those areas, there are plenty of other ways he can help you recover those points.
  • Sanju Samson has a good record at Pune, where he scored his only T20 century. That, coupled with his current form – he has scores of 49, 37 and 92* in four innings – should make him a tempting pick.


“It looks a good pitch to me. Nice covering of grass, more grass than probably what we are used to seeing on an Indian pitch.”
Michael Hussey, Chennai Super Kings’ batting coach

Akshay Gopalakrishnan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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ECB to propose ‘100-ball’ competition



The ECB’s new city-based competition could be set to be a 100-balls-a-side affair, according to a radical proposal released today.

The concept suggests that the eight-team competition could consist of 15 traditional six-ball overs, and a final 10-ball over – a 20-delivery shortfall on traditional T20 matches.

The proposed approach was presented by the ECB to the chairmen and chief executives of the first-class counties and MCC on Thursday, and has been unanimously supported by the board of the new competition.

The ECB have also confirmed that Southampton, Birmingham, Leeds, London, Manchester, Cardiff and Nottingham will be the host cities for the five-week competition, with Lord’s and The Oval each playing host to a London-based team.

“This is a fresh and exciting idea which will appeal to a younger audience and attract new fans to the game,” said Tom Harrison, the ECB’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Throughout its development, we have shown leadership, provided challenge and followed a process. We will continue to do that as the concept evolves.

“Our game has a history of innovation and we have a duty to look for future growth for the health and sustainability of the whole game.

“There are 18 First Class Counties, playing red and white ball cricket, at our core and these Counties and competitions will be supported, promoted and benefit from the game’s growth.”

The radical proposals are an attempt to differentiate the ECB’s tournament from the T20 franchise competitions that have already taken root globally – including the IPL in India, Australia’s Big Bash, and the Caribbean Premier League – as well as the existing Vitality Blast competition, featuring all 18 counties, which will continue concurrently.

The loss of 20 balls per innings will help to ensure that the competition fits comfortably into a three-hour window, with all matches expected to finish by 9pm.

Sanjay Patel, the ECB’s chief commercial officer, and MD for the new competition, said: “The development team has had strong support and encouragement in its conversations to date and it’s time to take the concept wider as we build the detail.

“This is 100-ball cricket, a simple approach to reach a new generation. Based on 15 traditional six-ball overs, the other ten balls will add a fresh tactical dimension.

“Crucially, this will also help differentiate this competition from Vitality Blast and other T20 competitions worldwide, maintaining our game’s history of successful innovation.

“The players and our valuable broadcast partners under the new TV partnerships from 2020-24 are vital to the success of this competition and they will see the energy, excitement and simplicity of this approach.”

The five-week competition will feature both men’s and women’s team in concurrent competitions, as the ECB seek to build on the explosion of interest in women’s cricket since the World Cup win in 2017.

“Our World Cup win at Lord’s last July showed what’s possible in terms of our sport reaching a new, younger and more diverse audience,” said Clare Connor, the ECB’s Director of Women’s Cricket.

“Kia Super League has had a huge impact on participation, player development and the profile of our game. It was a big investment and a bold decision by the Board and paved the way for this next stage of growth.

“To build the women’s and men’s competitions and identities together, side by side, is a prospect that few sports ever have and will give us greater reach, scale and prominence.

“It will attract more women and girls to the game, ensure that cricket reaches and entertains more families and give our players an exciting stage upon which to display their talent.”

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County cricket would improve my game – Kohli



Virat Kohli remains eager for a spell in county cricket ahead of India’s tour of England later this year after it was confirmed last month that the BCCI had granted permission for him to seek a deal.

Test success in England remains the one major missing piece to Kohli’s stellar career after he endured a torrid series in 2014 where he made 134 runs in five Tests at 13.40.

He was strongly linked with Surrey recently but a deal has not been confirmed. The county are in need of overseas cover, however, having lost Mitchell Marsh to injury. They have signed Dean Elgar for the first two months of the season but a window in June which fits with Kohli’s schedule after the IPL remains a possibility, although that would mean Kohli missing the one-off Test against Afghanistan.

“Playing county cricket will help me improve my game,” the 29-year-old batsman NDTV. “I think it makes things more challenging and more competitive and there are no guarantees whether you are going to do well even if you go in advance.

“It’s just about giving yourself more opportunity to get used to the conditions that you are not used to.”

Two of India’s senior Test players, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma, are already playing county cricket for Yorkshire and Sussex respectively. Pujara’s first outing, against Essex, was abandoned without a ball bowled at Headingley but Ishant impressed with five wickets against Warwickshire.

The BCCI is keen to learn from the experience in South Africa earlier this year when India arrived with barely any preparation. “This time we have been pro-active because post the South Africa experience we felt that exposure was essential for the team,” Vinod Rai, the chairman of the committee of administrators, the body governing the BCCI said.

India have one four-day warm-up match, against Essex at Chelmsford, ahead of the five-match Test series which begins on August 1. In 2014 they were 1-0 up after two matches, following victory at Lord’s, but ended up losing the series 3-1.

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