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Wiese turns on the power as Stone drops another hint of his potential



Warwickshire 299 (Bell 70, Ambrose 81, Wiese 4-50) and 87 for 3 drew with Sussex 374 (Wiese 106, Brown 91, Stone 8-80)

It is, perhaps, a sign of the changing times that the first Championship century of the season should have been made in a single session.

David Wiese, a Kolpak registration who had endured a modest time at Sussex in 2017, thrashed a century before lunch to help his team to four batting bonus points and a secure draw against Warwickshire. It completed a fine all-round display from a man who had earlier taken 4 for 56 in Warwickshire’s first innings; also a better haul than he had managed in the previous season.

In partnership with the more measured Ben Brown, Wiese added 155 for Sussex’s eighth wicket, breaking the record (for Sussex against Warwickshire) of 152 set by HL Wilson and GA Stannard at Hove in 1920.

It also gave Sussex, who took a first-innings lead of 75, brief hopes of putting Warwickshire in trouble in the final session-and-a-half of the match. And, after Will Rhodes was bowled by a beauty from Ollie Robinson that pitched on middle and took the top of off, Ian Bell was lured into a drive and feathered an edge before Jonathan Trott shuffled in front of a straight one. At 55 for 3, Sussex fancied their chances.

But on a pitch that had dried out to become slow and true, that equation was never likely to work out for them. Dominic Sibley (89 balls) and Adam Hose (57 balls) stood firm and, in truth, the poor weather that robbed us of about five sessions defined this encounter. Perhaps, had Tim Ambrose been held at slip on 5 in the first innings, things might have been different.

As it was, Wiese thumped the 10th first-class century of his career in just 91 deliveries. Joining his captain after Robinson had flashed at one angled across him, Wiese immediately went on the attack, striking 14 fours and three sixes in his century. Two of those sixes, one over long-on and another, hit ferociously hard over long-off, came from successive deliveries from the medium-paced Will Rhodes, with the other, over mid-on, coming off Jeetan Patel. Using Patel’s pace – the off-spinner bowled surprisingly quickly at times – Wiese cut nicely and provided a reminder of his quality after that disappointing season in 2017.

“That meant a lot to me,” he said afterwards. “Last year didn’t really go to plan for me. There’s a new coach and I wanted to set a high benchmark. I was quite emotional when a reached my hundred.”

At the other end, Brown provided sensible support. Helping his side from 88 for 5 at one stage, he showed all the calm and determination that has seen him appointed captain. He looked certain to reach the 15th century of his first-class career before, perhaps trying to set up a chase, he flashed at one outside off to become the sixth victim of the innings for Ambrose behind the stumps. Only two keepers, Keith Piper and ‘Tiger’ Smith, have taken more for the club in a first-class innings.

The bowler who continued to pose the biggest threat was Olly Stone. He eventually finished with 8 for 80 – easily a career best – and followed his eye-catching performance of the previous day with another display of sustained pace bowling. There were moments, particularly when he was attempting to bounce out poor Stuart Whittingham, when he looked quite a genuinely intimidating fast bowler. He is not the finished product – Sussex felt his pace varied sharply depending on how well he completed his action – but he has something special that could be an asset far beyond Warwickshire.

“I’m extremely impressed,” his new captain, Patel, said afterwards. “We all knew he could bowl fast, but to bowl consistently throughout the whole innings at that pace suggests he is going to go places. He asked tough questions of good batsmen on a good wicket. He provided us with impact and excitement.

“He’s a really big asset for our club. He’s someone we’re going to treasure. He needs to learn to go through the gears and not bowl 100% all the time, because he’s going to break at some stage, but if he can do that, he’s going to become a very good bowler.”

The Sussex bowler who stood out in both innings was Ishant Sharma. Bowling at a decent pace – though notably slower than Stone – and maintaining such a tight line and length that leaving him was unwise, he demonstrated his experience and quality in harnessing the conditions beautifully. It frustrates some in English cricket – not least the national coach, Trevor Bayliss – that overseas players are provided such experiences ahead of international tours, but there was plenty to learn – for both batsmen and bowlers – from the way he attacked the stumps. He could prove quite a threat to England later in the summer.

But despite his excellence, Stone’s return, Ambrose’s haul and Wiese’s all-round contribution, the men of the match were probably the groundstaff. Despite the appalling weather coming into this season – the Birmingham League season has been pushed back a week for the first time in living memory – they were able to produce a surface that reaped the two highest team scores and the only century of the round of games. They also produced a pitch which gave a young fast bowler the chance to shine. We criticise them when they struggle; it’s only right we praise them when, in desperately taxing conditions, they perform so admirably.

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‘Good luck understanding our great game’



The ECB took the game by surprise when it announced that the new city-based tournament to be launched in 2020 will be based around a 100-ball concept rather than T20. Here’s some of the early reaction

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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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