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Jury in Alex Hepburn rape trial discharged after failing to reach verdict | Cricket – WSAIGO Sports
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Jury in Alex Hepburn rape trial discharged after failing to reach verdict | Cricket

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Alex Hepburn at Worcester Crown Court © Getty Images


The jury in the trial of Alex Hepburn, the former Worcestershire cricketer who was accused of raping a sleeping woman, has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict.

The case at Worcester Crown Court was adjourned on Friday afternoon, the fifth day of the trial, after the 12-person jury failed to reach a majority verdict following more than nine hours of deliberation.

Hepburn, 23, now faces the prospect of a retrial after pleading not guilty to two counts of rape, following his initial arrest in April 2017.

In the course of the trial it was claimed that the alleged victim, who cannot be named, had awoken during the attack, having initially assumed Hepburn to be Joe Clarke, his Worcestershire team-mate, with whom she had had consensual sex earlier in the night.

Hepburn, who was born in Western Australia and moved to England in 2013 to pursue his cricket career, told the court that he had previously arranged to sleep in his friend’s room, and did not see the woman until he was in bed beside her.

The case brought to light what was described in court as a “sexual conquest game” on the social media app WhatsApp, involving a number of Worcestershire’s players, including Hepburn and Clarke.

Miranda Moore QC, for the prosecution, alleged that Hepburn had been “fired up” by his desire to win the competition, having posted the rules of the game to the WhatsApp group five days before the alleged attack.

Hepburn, giving evidence, had claimed the WhatsApp group was “meant to be nothing more than immature chat between a group of friends”, adding that he was embarrassed that his family had had to see the comments that he had made.

The Crown Prosecution Service will now discuss the prospect of a retrial with the lawyers and the judge, Jim Tindal, with a decision due in 14 days’ time.

It is also understood that the ECB, the PCA and Worcestershire CCC are paying close attention to the case, with the behaviour of the club’s players likely to come under scrutiny from the Cricket Discipline Commission, irrespective of the verdict.

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Scotland call up uncapped Adrian Neill, Chris Greaves for Oman tour

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Scotland men have named the uncapped Adrian Neill and Chris Greaves in their 14-member squad for their first ever tour of Oman, where they will feature in a T20I quadrangular series, from February 13 to 17, that also involves Netherlands and Ireland, followed by a 50-over series against the hosts. Fast-bowling allrounder Ruaidhri Smith, who had an impressive T20 season with Glamorgan, also returns to the national fold.

For what will be Scotland’s first international assignment since the T20I tri-series in Netherlands in June, which also included Ireland, allrounder Dylan Budge and the quick-bowling trio of Chris Sole, Brad Wheal and Stuart Whittingham are the prominent exclusions.

Speaking about the make-up of the squad, acting head coach Toby Bailey said: “We are delighted that Adrian Neill has developed so much in the last year with the help of Gloucestershire and Owen Dawkins who will also join the coaching staff for the tour. Adrian now has the engine and skills to match his 6-foot-8 frame to be a real menace at international level.

“We also wanted to introduce the legspin skill set of Chris Greaves and it will be exciting to see this other dimension added to our spin unit. Chris impressed at the end of the Tilney T20 series and in La Manga. He also adds strength to the batting line up down the order and has recently been training with Pakistan in South Africa, learning from Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan.

“We are also excited to see Ruaidhri Smith back in the squad after a successful T20 campaign with Glamorgan, including a 4-6 against Middlesex. He will not only add strength to our seam attack but also to the batting and fielding unit. Ruaidhri also impressed in La Manga and it will be great to see him back in a Scotland shirt.

“We are looking forward to the challenge of continuing the success of last year, and the quadrangular tournament and one day series against Oman represent an ideal opportunity to do this.”

The quadrangular series will be played on February 13, 15 and 17, before the three-match series gets underway.

Scotland squad: Kyle Coetzer (capt), Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross, Alasdair Evans, Chris Greaves, Michael Leask, Calum MacLeod, George Munsey, Adrian Neill, Safyaan Sharif, Ruaidhri Smith, Hamza Tahir, Craig Wallace, Mark Watt
IN: Ruaidhri Smith, Adrian Neill and Chris Greaves
OUT: Dylan Budge, Chris Sole, Brad Wheal and Stuart Whittingham



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‘Frustrating to not have shown my abilities at international level’ – Bracewell

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Not having played an international game in over a year, and having been kicking around the squad through the course of the ODIs without quite getting into the XI, Doug Bracewell was chuffed he finally had an opportunity to impress. That it was with the bat that he made an impact, was especially sweet.

Although something of a consistent scorer of lower-order runs in domestic cricket – he has two first-class hundreds and 17 fifties to his name – Bracewell had thus far been only a sporadic run-scorer during his intermittent stints with the national team. Before Friday, his best limited-overs score had been 30.

His outstanding 44 off 26 balls, though, has now announced that Bracewell has a hitherto unseen dimension to his game at the top level. Having arrived at the crease at 55 for 5, it is possible New Zealand would have been blown away in Auckland were it not for Bracewell’s hitting, which fetched him five sixes and the game’s top score.

He was involved in a 47-run stand with Ross Taylor, before debutant Scott Kuggeleijn joined him for a 41-run partnership.

“It’s really good for my confidence, to be honest,” Bracewell said after the game. “I haven’t shown my abilities at the international level, which has been frustrating, and at times I’ve put myself under pressure and tried a bit too hard. It hasn’t worked out. I went back to basics, and got an opportunity to bat a bit of time today. Batting with Ross, who is an experienced player, helped as well. It was nice to get a few shots away.”

Having been left out of the XI for the three ODIs, it seemed as if Bracewell would have to wait for the forthcoming India and Bangladesh tours for a match, after he was initially left out of the T20I squad. An injury to James Neesham, though, allowed him to enter the squad as a replacement. He has now made a strong case for being picked more regularly, having also taken 1 for 19 with the ball.

“I didn’t get a chance in the one-dayers, but that’s international cricket. I tried not to put myself under too much pressure, and went out and enjoyed it. I was pretty stoked to contribute with the bat and with the ball. I was pretty happy just to get back in the mix with the team. It is frustrating when you’re not being picked. But you’re there to do a job when needed.”

Captain Tim Southee lauded the fight Bracewell showed, in a match in which New Zealand had to fight back more than once.

“For Doug to come out and put up a performance like that with someone who is on debut in this format – Scott Kuggeleijn – it just shows you the character of the guys and the never-die attitude,” Southee said. “Doug’s got a bit of experience at this level, but it’s not easy to come out when you’ve sat out a few games and play the way he did – play his natural way.”



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‘Batsmen still haven’t understood the value of finishing a match’ – Malinga

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It’s all well and good to get fast starts, batsmen, but once you’re in, you have to convert your promising innings into match-winning ones.

So went the message from captain Lasith Malinga to the Sri Lanka top order, after the visitors slumped to a 35-run defeat in the lone T20I against New Zealand in Auckland on Friday. Four batsmen in Sri Lanka’s top five passed 15, but none went on to make a half-century, despite the fact that Sri Lanka were ahead of the required rate early in their innings.

Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Perera might be especially disappointed, having made 18 off ten and 23 off 12 respectively. Thisara Perera also made 43 off 24 before holing out to long-on. Thanks to their innings, Sri Lanka were 117 for 4 at the end of 12 overs, and on track to chase down the target of 180. But none of the top five hung around, and the middle and lower orders went on to capitulate.

“On this kind of ground, with small boundaries, 180 is a gettable target,” Malinga said. “We have seven genuine batsmen in our side, and they have to realise the situation. They have to capitalise and finish the game. This is quite a big thing in the last couple of years. They still haven’t understood how valuable finishing the match for the side is.

“A finisher is a very valuable player in the playing XI. When there are two guys there, they have to believe that they are the finishers. Don’t leave it to others.”

Sri Lanka had also had similar troubles in the ODIs, with several players in the top order batting well to begin with, before throwing their wickets away. Thisara was the only batsman to make a century in the ODIs, and that had been from down at No. 7.

“Today also we were [all] out in 18 (16.5) overs – with two overs remaining,” Malinga said. “I have hope that in the next six months they will understand that and show character. They have to show their character in the middle of the innings.”

The bowlers were also guilty of letting a good start slip in the T20I. They had had New Zealand 55 for 5 after ten overs, but bowled poorly at the death as the opposition lower order began to blast sixes. Only Malinga bowled cheaply at the death, conceding just six runs in the penultimate over. The 17th, 18th and 20th overs, meanwhile, went for 23, 18 and 17 respectively.

“It’s the same with the bowlers. If they’ve done a good job and have a bit of confidence, they still have to concentrate in the last over,” Malinga said. “They have to bowl to the situation and the conditions. We have to improve those two parts.”



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