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Australia-based Englishman Charlie Hemphrey signs Glamorgan deal



Glamorgan have signed Charlie Hemphrey, the English-born top-order batsman who currently plays for Queensland. Hemphrey, 29, has agreed a two-year contract with the Welsh county.

Hemphrey’s route to professional cricket was a circuitous one. After spending several years trying unsuccessfully to break into the county game, he moved to Brisbane and impressed enough in Grade cricket to be picked up by Queensland. He made his first-class debut in the Sheffield Shield in 2015 and has since averaged 33.02 with four hundreds.

Hemphrey will be registered as a local player with Glamorgan, but may have to switch to overseas status with Queensland, where he has another year on his contract. Although he has permanent residency in Australia, according to ECB regulations he cannot play as a non-overseas player in both countries.

His arrival will strengthen a Glamorgan squad that struggled to put runs on the board in 2018, finishing bottom of the Division Two of the Championship. The club removed head coach Robert Croft from his position, while Hugh Morris stepped down as director of cricket in order to focus on his role as chief executive.

“It’s always been my ambition to play first-class cricket in the UK so I am very thankful to Glamorgan for giving me this opportunity,” Hemphrey said. “With the changes in the cricket department it’s a very exciting time to join the club. Hopefully I can continue to put in some good performances for Queensland and bring that form to Glamorgan this season.”

Hemphrey’s involvement with Queensland could mean that he won’t arrive in Cardiff until days before the start of the season. The Sheffield Shield final is scheduled for March 27-31, with the Bulls looking to defend the title they won last year. Glamorgan begin their Championship season against Northamptonshire on April 11.

“Charlie is a very good cricketer who has blossomed in the past few years since playing in Australia,” Morris said. “He has scored runs in challenging batting conditions against some very good bowling attacks so will add valuable experience and skill at the top of the order.

“With his signing and that of Billy Root, we now have competition for places within the batting line-up, which will only help the development of our young pathway players.”

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Kerala pip Himachal in race to knockouts, Punjab, Bengal miss out



Kerala’s dash for the finish line

A stirring fourth-innings chase by Kerala handed them a victory against Himachal Pradesh and six points, vaulting the team into the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 quarter-finals. Kerala will join Vidarbha, Saurashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the quarter-finals.

The identity of the teams that eventually qualified depended largely on two games on the final day of the league phase: Kerala’s match against Himachal, and Punjab’s game against Bengal.

Himachal declared on their overnight 285 for 8, setting Kerala a target of 297 at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium in Nadaun. Kerala responded brilliantly, getting to 299 for 5 in 67 overs. Vinoop Manoharan, who was promoted to open the innings, hit 96 off 143 to set the chase on track. There was a brief wobble when Manoharan and Mohammed Azharuddeen fell in quick succession, but an 88-run stand for the fifth wicket off 104 balls between captain Sachin Baby (92 off 134) and Sanju Samson (61* off 53) put Kerala on the brink of victory. Himachal had declared, having scored rapidly in their second innings, because they themselves were chasing victory to progress to the knockouts.

However, Kerala won the race, and now have 26 points to show, level with Gujarat and Baroda, but ahead on quotient. Gujarat edged out Baroda in turn due to a higher quotient, and thus booked their place in the knockouts.

An inconsequential draw

Either of Bengal or Punjab could have upset the equations if their match had ended in an outright result, but despite a valiant chase by Punjab, it produced a draw. Punjab had taken a stranglehold early in the match, replying to Bengal’s 187 with 447. Bengal, however, showed plenty of spunk in their 432 for 6 declared in the second innings. Abhimanyu Easwaran ended a superb season with 201 not-out, his first double-hundred, while captain Manoj Tiwary made 105 as Bengal ensured they would stave off defeat. Tiwary then gave Punjab 16 overs to chase 173. In a surprise move, Manpreet Gony was promoted to No. 3 and he smashed 58 off 28, but with Punjab 132 for 5 in 15 overs, the teams shook hands. It was Gony’s second half-century in the match, following a career-best 69 not-out in the first innings.

But while Bengal emerged with an honourable draw, what both teams needed going in was an outright win – and denied that, neither could finish in the top five of the combined A and B groups to qualify for the knockouts.

The Jharkhand heartbreak
Despite the entire first day being washed out at the Gandhi Memorial Science College Ground in Jammu, Jharkhand beat Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) by an innings and 48 runs. Saurabh Tiwary’s 134 underpinned their batting effort, while Shahbaz Nadeem led the way with the ball once again, taking 4 for 43 as J&K were bowled out for 120 on the final day. The win took Jharkhand to 40 points, just behind Uttar Pradesh, who went through with 41 points.

Jharkhand were badly hit by the previous round, when Tripura’s dawdle meant only 22 overs were bowled in an extended final session, stopping Jharkhand at 144 for 7 when set 153 to win. That left Jharkhand with only three points for a first-innings lead, when a win would have given them six points.

Punjab, too, will look back on this season as one of near-misses. In their first match, they replied to Andhra’s 423 with 414, missing out on a first-innings lead by just ten runs. Later on, Hyderabad made 317, and Punjab were bowled out for 303 in reply. They still had perhaps the most exciting chase of the season, finishing on 324 for 8 when set 338 to win, led by an inspired century from Shubman Gill. Then came another near-miss in the final league game. They were similarly affected in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in September-October 2018, having to share points with Goa after piling on 359 for 4 and reducing Goa to 46 for 2 in ten overs before rain arrived, a result that materially affected their chances of making the quarterfinals.

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Harper, bowlers help Renegades gallop to fourth win



Melbourne Renegades 2 for 145 (Harper 56*, Cooper 36*) beat Brisbane Heat 8 for 144 (McCullum 50, Shinwari 3-16, Boyce 2-17) by eight wickets

Melbourne Renegades administered a hiding to Brisbane Heat at a subdued Gabba, set on their path by excellent spells from Cameron Boyce and Usman Shinwari before Marcus Harris, Sam Harper and Tom Cooper shepherded the chase.

The Heat were unable to build any momentum at the crease despite a long innings by Brendon McCullum, as Boyce found useful assistance from the surface and Shinwari shrugged off being struck for one telling six by Max Bryant to concede only 10 more runs from his four overs.

After Harris gave the Renegades a usefully rapid-fire start, Harper and Cooper needed only to keep their heads, something they did with the help of dropped catches by the Heat, who now find themselves in some danger of missing out on the BBL finals.

Boyce trumps McCullum

Sent in to bat, the Heat might have expected a rapid start on what looked a good and pacy pitch, but save for one box office drive over long-on by Bryant, their early overs were characterised by a struggle for timing and poise against diligent Renegades bowling. This all added up to that most rare of spectacles – a slow (for him) innings by McCullum.

After Bryant departed and Chris Lynn was unable to get himself going, McCullum seemed to have set himself to bat through the innings, but was unable to impose himself upon the former Queensland spin bowler Boyce, whose legbreaks were also once favoured by Australia’s Twenty20 set-up. Gaining useful turn and bounce from the Gabba surface, Boyce coaxed numerous miscues before removing McCullum when the Heat opener picked out deep midwicket with an attempted slog sweep.

Having already deceived Lynn, Boyce could be more than content with a return of 2 for 17 from four overs, playing a major role in limiting the horizons of the Heat innings.

Cutting’s catchup exercise

Over recent seasons the Heat have had a couple of familiar threats for opponents, the “bash brothers” McCullum and Lynn up the top and then the heavy hitting of Ben Cutting in the lower middle order. While Cutting’s first ball from Boyce left him groping in the manner of McCullum before him, the tall allrounder was able to size up Joe Mennie and seemed capable of driving Brisbane into the 160s when he took 13 runs from the first five balls of the 18th over.

However, Mennie was able to provoke a skywards pull shot from a wide, short delivery, and after Beau Webster held on in similar fashion to the catch he took to dismiss McCullum, the Heat innings petered out. Shinwari, on the receiving end of Bryant’s big driven six, completed an otherwise exemplary spell worth 3 for 16, while the recalled Test batsmen Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns could cobble a mere 10 off 10 balls between them.

Harris goes after Pattinson

It was the Renegades who drew first blood, literally, when a Harris skier off James Pattinson burst through the hands of Cutting and he walked off for treatment to a bloody nose. There was some debate over whether Cutting had actually controlled the ball after it struck his nose and he fell to the ground, before the umpires eventually ruled it a non-catch.

More definitive was Harris’ treatment of Pattinson in his second over. A full toss scythed through cover, a length ball heaved over wide mid-on, another length ball inside edged past the stumps to the boundary then an extraordinary launch inside out over cover for six made the over worth 19 and gave the Renegades a swift start to ease pressure on the rest of the batting order. Harris would only get as far as 28, but he had made his presence felt.

Harper, Cooper keep composed

The value of Harris’ early acceleration was to be underlined by the way that Harper and Cooper were able to calmly close in on their target, even though at one point they allowed 20 balls to elapse without a boundary off the bat. Cooper had not previously passed 16 in six innings, and he was to be dropped twice in getting as far as 20. Harper was rather more fluent, teasing the Heat captain Lynn in his efforts to plug gaps.

By their union, and the Heat’s obliging fielding, the Renegades were able to gallop to their target with no fewer than 26 balls to spare, going up to four wins while also improving their net run rate appreciably. The Heat, meanwhile, were left two games out of the BBL top four.

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Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul likely to be suspended



Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, the two players issued show-cause notices over their comments on a talk show, are likely to be suspended by the BCCI, ESPNcricinfo understands. The BCCI leadership is believed to have decided on the action, with the quantum of punishment yet to be fixed.

Pandya and Rahul appeared on the talk show on Sunday where their comments – Pandya’s in particular – came in for widespread criticism and raised concerns over the team culture. The BCCI issued the players a show-cause notice to which Pandya responded with an apology to the board.

ALSO READ – Hardik Pandya apologises for ‘regretful’ behaviour on talk show

Correspondence on the issue accessed by ESPNcricinfo suggests that while Vinod Rai, one of the members of the Committee of Administrators, is in favour of a two-match ban, BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry has pushed for a stronger penalty should the players be found guilty – under their contracts – of bringing cricket and Indian cricket into disrepute. There is even a view that the punishments for the two differ according to what each of them said on the show.

“I have seen the remarks made by these two players on the show in print today,” Rai wrote on Thursday. “Very crass. No apology can cover it. I had asked Diana to suggest penalty because I had not seen the clip. I think we need to give both of them a two-match suspension.”

Chaudhry has also suggested immediate suspension pending enquiry, but if found guilty the CoA should follow the precedent it set in the cases of Steven Smith and David Warner, who were banned from the IPL for a whole season for their involvement in ball-tampering in South Africa.

Chaudhry raised concerns about the permissions taken by the players before appearing on the show, the disrepute it brought to other Indian cricketers and about how these comments leave them open to honeytraps that players are trained to avoid in ICC ACSU briefings.

“As far as the quantum of the punishment is concerned if the players are found guilty as per the procedures laid down in the Rules and Regulations, keeping in view the above factors and discussions, a two-match suspension seems to be merely a stop-gap arrangement especially considering that the CoA had banned Mr. Smith and Mr. Warner for a season,” Chauhdry wrote. “The players must be immediately suspended pending a proper inquiry and must be allowed to join the team (if selected) only once they have gone through a proper sensitisation in addition to serving a ban, if imposed upon them.

“In any case the entire team and support staff must go through a sensitisation process. The CEO may join them in the sensitisation as well as recommended by Ms. Veena Gowda, Advocate.”

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