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Grassroots fund closes final chapter on pay war

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At the MCG announcement of more than AUD30 million in grassroots funding from the players’ slice of the Australian cricket revenue pie, the chief executives of Cricket Australia, Kevin Roberts, and the Australian Cricketers Association, Alistair Nicholson, appeared less as warm friends than cordial partners.

Given their respective roles at the height of the 2016-17 pay dispute, this was understandable: Nicholson and the ACA ultimately refused to deal with Roberts as lead negotiator, preferring to wait until his pragmatic predecessor James Sutherland entered the fray. Roberts and Nicholson still have some way to go to be as close as Sutherland and Nicholson’s predecessor Paul Marsh once were.

For Belinda Clark, the executive in charge of CA’s game development and community tiers before she was called in as the interim replacement for Pat Howard in team performance, the MCG announcement led by Josh Hazlewood and Holly Ferling was an apt demonstration of two organisations learning how to effectively co-exist after some years in open conflict with one another.

“Strictly speaking it wasn’t meant to be released until the end of the MoU process [in 2022] so what we’ve been working on for quite a number of months is what is our mechanism to allow us to invest now, rather than wait,” Clark told ESPNcricinfo. “So if you think about how much effort and the number of conversations that need to happen in order to set that up, it is quite a big achievement from both CA and the ACA to get ourselves on the same page in order to drag money forward and let it start going to the community well before the end of the MoU.

“If we’d played it as it should have been played out we’d have been waiting another four years to invest, and we’ve got on the same page and we’re investing it early, which is a great result for the community, it’s great that the players have made that decision and great that CA’s been able to facilitate that.”

During the pay war, the blue sky money afforded to the players at the end of an MoU period – the “adjustment ledger” above the projected revenue percentage paid out as a lump sum to all players contracted during the period of the agreement – was a key battleground.

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Josh Hazlewood reflects on $30 million funding for grassroots cricket set up Cricket Australia and the players

CA, led by Roberts, were adamant that this money should not just go straight into the pockets of players already well paid when the game had other urgent needs. On the other side, Nicholson and the ACA argued fervently that the players were happy to pitch in more money to help the game’s other levels provided they had some oversight as to how.

The compromise, landed upon well before the Newlands scandal that ultimately cost another key MoU protagonist, CA chairman David Peever, his job, was to have the players commit at least AUD30 million from the end of the new MoU to grassroots.

In terms of urgency, CA had already identified major infrastructure and facility shortfalls through an audit of cricket venues, but through the players’ share will now be able to provide significant assistance to clubs in terms of equipment and playing kit – costs more traditionally taken on by parents and clubs themselves and thus presenting an entry barrier for many families and prospective junior players.

“What this money’s allowed us to do is really address how sometimes those small clubs [say] I just need another kit, I’ve got an extra team and I need another kit of gear, or I need some more stumps or those operational things that traditionally sports don’t fund, clubs are responsible for those costs,” Clark said. “This burst allows people to get their head above water and make sure they’ve got those things ready for people to be playing.”

For Hazlewood, a regional product from Bendemeer in country New South Wales, childhood memories of tatty old shared bats, pads, gloves and protectors until well into his teen years made this a particularly relevant investment for those who will follow him. “We had a team kit for as long as I can remember growing up and everyone just grabbed a bat and pads and no-one really had their own gear until maybe 15 or 16 even,” he said. “If we can add to that team kit, get a few more bats in there and help guys out, that’ll be great.”

More broadly, the value of the players not only investing but being seen to do so funneled neatly into the goals set for CA and the ACA by the cultural reviews that flowed out of Newlands. Hazlewood agreed that a greater sense of connection to the clubs and communities a long way from the highly funded and often hermetically sealed elite level served to remind him and others of how fortunate they were.

“When you’re playing for Australia and you’re in and out every day, you’re on tour all the time, it does become a job and it feels like that sometimes,” he said. “It takes sometimes to go back to the country and to see where you started and seeing the kids playing now and even men at 45, 50 years of age playing every weekend, purely for the love it of it, it reignites that spark why you started and it’s good to see.”

The other thing of note about Nicholson and Roberts at the MCG on Thursday was the fact that both men stayed at a safe distance from the television cameras and recorders. The players, then, took centre stage – an arrangement the two chief executives looked more than happy about.



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Shadab Khan ruled out of England series with virus

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Legspinner Shadab Khan has been ruled out of the limited-overs series that Paksitan will play in England in the lead-up to the World Cup. Shadab is ill with a virus, though the exact nature of his illness is not known. A PCB release said “tests revealed a virus that will require treatment and rest for, at least, four weeks”.

Shadab is also part of Pakistan’s World Cup squad. Should he not be fit for the showpiece event, the PCB can make changes to the squad without seeking ICC permission till May 23.

The PCB said further investigations into Shadab’s illness will be done in England. “The Pakistan Cricket Board will now set up Shadab’s appointment with specialists in England to help him fully recover before Pakistan’s World Cup 2019 opener against the Windies on 31 May at Trent Bridge,” the PCB release said.

Shadab is the only specialist spinner in Pakistan’s 15 for the World Cup. The PCB is also waiting on the fitness of Mohammad Hafeez, who was included while still recovering from the finger injury he picked up during the Pakistan Super League. Hafeez is Pakistan’s other major spin option, alongside fellow allrounder Imad Wasim.

The series against England includes one T20I and five ODIs, between May 5 and 19. In addition to the World Cup 15, two more players will travel to England for this series: pacer Mohammad Amir and big-hitter Asif Ali. The PCB said it will name a replacement for Shadab for this series in “due course”.

Squad for the World Cup: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez (subject to fitness), Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hasnain, Haris Sohail

Additions for England series: Mohammad Amir, Asif Ali



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Oman ride on Mohammad Nadeem’s sizzling form to overcome USA

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Oman 152 for 4 (Nadeem 55*, Suraj 50*, Ali Khan 4-27) beat USA 148 (Silva 33, Fayyaz 3-23) by six wickets

Allrounder Mohammad Nadeem‘s sizzling 2019 form helped Oman to a six-wicket win over USA at United CC. Coming into the tournament on the back of half-centuries in wins over Scotland and UAE, Nadeem made another unbeaten half-century in a 97-run unbroken stand with Suraj Kumar to repel USA after Ali Khan‘s four-wicket burst.

On a very sluggish outfield and up-and-down pitch in the first innings, USA were bowled out for 148 in just 38.5 overs as a sensational fast bowling effort from Bilal Khan, Kaleemullah and Fayyaz Butt set up what should have been a straightforward chase of a below-par target. The surface had begun to flatten out in the afternoon sun, but Ali took three wickets with the new ball to leave Oman reeling at 17 for 3.

Ali then returned in the 22nd over and struck with his very first ball of a new spell to get captain Zeeshan Maqsood fiddling an edge behind to make it 55 for 4. Curiously though, Ali only bowled two more overs, meaning he bowled two short of his available quota in one of several eyebrow-raising strategic moves on the day for USA, who also left out Nosthush Kenjige from the XI just a few matches after he had claimed 5 for 27 against Lancashire.

With Ali hidden from the attack, Nadeem and Kumar rebuilt the chase and soon became impossible to dislodge. Nadeem ended on 55 not out off 120 balls while Kumar brought up his half-century on the last ball of the match, sweeping Timil Patel for four through midwicket when scores were level.

Hong Kong 223 for 3 (Rath 114*, Atkinson 35, Dutta 2-30) beat Canada 222 for 8 (Jacobs 52*, Kinchit 4-34) by seven wickets

Hong Kong captain Anshy Rath helped construct a trio of half-century stands, including 90 for the first wicket with former captain Jamie Atkinson to chase down Canada’s 222 with 16 balls to spare at Affies Park.

It was Rath’s second ton for Hong Kong in the last eight months after compiling 102 in a win over UAE at the Asia Cup Qualifier in Malaysia. In addition to the stand with Atkinson, Rath added 50 with Kinchit Shah and another 63 with Ahsan Abbasi for the third wicket.

It was a superb all-round day for Kinchit, who bowled spin with the new ball and claimed the prized scalp of Ruvindu Gunasekera with his fourth ball of the day before coming back to take a hat-trick in the final over. With captain Davy Jacobs red-hot on 52 off 53 balls, he went ice cold at the non-striker’s end watching helplessly as Kinchit nabbed Saad bin Zafar, Dilon Heyliger and Nikhil Dutta with the last three balls of the innings to ensure Canada were defending a below part total.

Namibia 120 for 7 (Frylinck 23*, Amini 3-46) beat PNG 118 (Soper 36, Frylinck 3-16, Williams 3-25, Smit 3-34) by three wickets

Jan Frylinck played a vital role in a low-scoring thriller to help the tournament hosts off to a winning start against Papua New Guinea. Frylinck snared the prized pair of Tony Ura and captain Assad Vala inside the Powerplay and from there, PNG’s innings never gained any momentum. Chad Soper stretched the innings out with 36 from No. 6 before he was last person out in the 43rd for Frylinck’s third victim.

The early part of Namibia’s chase wasn’t much better than what PNG had produced. After legspinner Charles Amini ripped though the middle-order, Christi Viljoe was runout for 8 to leave Namibia 67 for 6 chasing a target of 119.

But Frylinck followed up his wickets with an instrumental 23 not out off of 20 balls to get Namibia over the line with a whopping 19.3 overs to spare. It means they hold a sizeable early advantage with the tournament tiebreaker of net run rate.





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Oman ride on Mohammad Nadeem’s sizzling form to overcome USA

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Oman 152 for 4 (Nadeem 55*, Suraj 50*, Ali Khan 4-27) beat USA 148 (Silva 33, Fayyaz 3-23) by six wickets

Allrounder Mohammad Nadeem‘s sizzling 2019 form helped Oman to a six-wicket win over USA at United CC. Coming into the tournament on the back of half-centuries in wins over Scotland and UAE, Nadeem made another unbeaten half-century in a 97-run unbroken stand with Suraj Kumar to repel USA after Ali Khan‘s four-wicket burst.

On a very sluggish outfield and up-and-down pitch in the first innings, USA were bowled out for 148 in just 38.5 overs as a sensational fast bowling effort from Bilal Khan, Kaleemullah and Fayyaz Butt set up what should have been a straightforward chase of a below-par target. The surface had begun to flatten out in the afternoon sun, but Ali took three wickets with the new ball to leave Oman reeling at 17 for 3.

Ali then returned in the 22nd over and struck with his very first ball of a new spell to get captain Zeeshan Maqsood fiddling an edge behind to make it 55 for 4. Curiously though, Ali only bowled two more overs, meaning he bowled two short of his available quota in one of several eyebrow-raising strategic moves on the day for USA, who also left out Nosthush Kenjige from the XI just a few matches after he had claimed 5 for 27 against Lancashire.

With Ali hidden from the attack, Nadeem and Kumar rebuilt the chase and soon became impossible to dislodge. Nadeem ended on 55 not out off 120 balls while Kumar brought up his half-century on the last ball of the match, sweeping Timil Patel for four through midwicket when scores were level.

Hong Kong 223 for 3 (Rath 114*, Atkinson 35, Dutta 2-30) beat Canada 222 for 8 (Jacobs 52*, Kinchit 4-34) by seven wickets

Hong Kong captain Anshy Rath helped construct a trio of half-century stands, including 90 for the first wicket with former captain Jamie Atkinson to chase down Canada’s 222 with 16 balls to spare at Affies Park.

It was Rath’s second ton for Hong Kong in the last eight months after compiling 102 in a win over UAE at the Asia Cup Qualifier in Malaysia. In addition to the stand with Atkinson, Rath added 50 with Kinchit Shah and another 63 with Ahsan Abbasi for the third wicket.

It was a superb all-round day for Kinchit, who bowled spin with the new ball and claimed the prized scalp of Ruvindu Gunasekera with his fourth ball of the day before coming back to take a hat-trick in the final over. With captain Davy Jacobs red-hot on 52 off 53 balls, he went ice cold at the non-striker’s end watching helplessly as Kinchit nabbed Saad bin Zafar, Dilon Heyliger and Nikhil Dutta with the last three balls of the innings to ensure Canada were defending a below part total.

Namibia 120 for 7 (Frylinck 23*, Amini 3-46) beat PNG 118 (Soper 36, Frylinck 3-16, Williams 3-25, Smit 3-34) by three wickets

Jan Frylinck played a vital role in a low-scoring thriller to help the tournament hosts off to a winning start against Papua New Guinea. Frylinck snared the prized pair of Tony Ura and captain Assad Vala inside the Powerplay and from there, PNG’s innings never gained any momentum. Chad Soper stretched the innings out with 36 from No. 6 before he was last person out in the 43rd for Frylinck’s third victim.

The early part of Namibia’s chase wasn’t much better than what PNG had produced. After legspinner Charles Amini ripped though the middle-order, Christi Viljoe was runout for 8 to leave Namibia 67 for 6 chasing a target of 119.

But Frylinck followed up his wickets with an instrumental 23 not out off of 20 balls to get Namibia over the line with a whopping 19.3 overs to spare. It means they hold a sizeable early advantage with the tournament tiebreaker of net run rate.





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