Barbados Tridents 171 for 6 (Carter 50*, Charles 39, Tahir 1-24) beat Guyana Amazon Warriors 144 for 9 (King 43, Reifer 4-24, Nurse 2-17, Gurney 2-24) by 27 runs
When the New England Patriots defeated the New York Giants 38-35 to end the 2007 NFL regular season, they became the first American Football team to go undefeated since the league expanded to a 16-game format. But the game exposed vulnerabilities that gave the Giants a blueprint to beat the Patriots in their rematch in Super Bowl XLII 17-14.
Last Sunday, Guyana Amazon Warriors defeated Barbados Tridents to take their CPL record unbeaten streak to 11 matches by posting 218 for 3 behind Brandon King’s record century. What was lost in the shuffle of that match was that the Tridents actually made a serious fist of the chase, ending on 188 with Jonathan Carter top-scoring to make 49 off 26, as some vulnerabilities started to appear.
Bucking the T20 trend of teams opting to chase, Tridents’ success through much of CPL 2019 has been in defending totals. Given a chance to bat first in the CPL Final at Brian Lara Academy, Carter produced a stirring roundhouse kidney punch that stopped Amazon Warriors dead in their tracks. Unable to dance around the ring, Amazon Warriors’ chase was floored by a collective effort from Jason Holder’s bowling unit, as the Tridents produced a stunning upset to claim their second CPL title, and first since 2014, by knocking off the Warriors to thwart their undefeated title bid and a fifth CPL final loss.
Having to go without their second-leading scorer JP Duminy, who sat out with a hamstring injury picked up in Thursday’s win over Trinbago Knight Riders, Tridents got off to a solid start in the first ten overs to reach 76 for 3. But after Shai Hope fell in the 12th over, the chase went haywire with Shakib Al Hasan involved in a pair of runouts.
The first came four balls after Hope’s wicket as Holder flicked to deep midwicket. Shakib hared down three strides ahead of Holder for the first run and was already a quarter of the way back for a second before Holder had turned at the non-striker’s end. Keemo Paul had covered the ground well to field and relay to Nicholas Pooran over the striker’s stumps as Holder came back reluctantly in response to Shakib and wound up being out by a foot.
Shakib created an identical situation with Carter two overs later after the latter drove out to extra cover. Once again, Shakib was three steps ahead and started coming back for a second run, but Carter was slow getting out of the crease after striking the ball and wasn’t interested in the second, but made his decision too late for Shakib. This time Paul’s throw dragged Pooran well away from the stumps but Shakib had given up and the keeper’s throw from five yards away was true, leaving the score 109 for 6 with 31 balls left.
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Against the Knight Riders on Thursday, Ashley Nurse and Raymon Reifer plundered 43 off the last two overs to salvage a floundering innings and get up past 160 on a traditionally low-scoring ground. On this occasion, it was Nurse and Carter who resurrected the Tridents in the waning overs.
Carter took the lead with a trio of fabulous straight drives for six before and another over midwicket. The bulk of that came in the 19th over off Paul, who leaked 17 in the frame as momentum swung sharply toward Tridents. Nurse then took his swipes at Romario Shepherd in the 20th with a six and four to start the final over before Carter struck a two to bring up a 26-ball half-century as Tridents ended with 63 off the last 31 balls to post a total that looked like it was well above par based on past evidence.
USA 3, rest of CPL 2
Coming into the final, Shoaib Malik had only been dismissed four times in 11 innings. Two of those came at the hands of Knight Riders fast bowler Ali Khan and Tridents legspinner Hayden Walsh Jr., the only two Americans playing in the tournament. Walsh Jr. added Shoaib for a second time on Saturday night to cap his season with a tournament-best 22 wickets in just nine matches.
After Raymon Reifer had set back Amazon Warriors in the Powerplay with the wickets of Chandrapaul Hemraj and Shimron Hetmyer, Shoaib came to the middle but was not his usual fluent self. After reaching 4 off 10 balls, he got a half-tracker from Walsh Jr. that should have gone for six but failed to get the elevation, a microcosm of his lack of rhythm on the night as he picked out Reifer at deep midwicket. It put Walsh Jr. on the path to ensure an American would raise the CPL trophy for the second year in a row after Khan with Knight Riders in 2018.
The Warriors were still in with a chance of overhauling the target as long as the tournament’s leading scorer was at the crease. Brandon King was looking sharp but struggled for support at the other end, causing him to lose patience. On the last ball of the 11th over, King charged impetuously at Nurse and turned a full ball into a yorker, playing over the top as it slid past leg stump for a simple stumping by Hope.
Another half-tracker claimed another big scalp for the second time in the chase as Pooran toe-slapped a long hop from Nurse to Alex Hales at long-on. Harry Gurney and Reifer then continued to whittle through the middle order until 41 were required off 12 balls. Paul holed out to long-on off Gurney in the 19th and with 33 needed off the last over, Reifer mathematically clinched it by having Chris Green slashing an edge behind, giving him the best bowling figures ever in a CPL Final.
With their backs against the wall playing a de-facto elimination match in the penultimate game of the regular season against St. Lucia Zouks, Tridents stormed back to life and by the end, snuffing out Amazon Warriors’ fairy-tale season with a Cinderella finish of their own.
Gary Kirsten might mentor Enoch Nkwe during England series
Nkwe was appointed interim team director ahead of South Africa’s tour to India, after only one season as a franchise coach. He had earlier worked with the South Africa A side and the Netherlands national side. He was provided with Vincent Barnes as bowling coach and Amol Muzumdar as a batting consultant for the games in India, but if permanently appointed, would be free to choose his own support staff. That, though, may not happen exactly as initially expected if the proposal to appoint Kirsten goes through.
The document – compiled by former CSA president Norman Arendse, Dr Ali Bacher, soon-to-be director of cricket Graeme Smith, Kirsten himself, and senior officials (whose names were not communicated to ESPNcricinfo) from the old South African Cricket Board of Control, which governed cricket played by non-white players during apartheid – made nine recommendations to restructure CSA following the current crisis.
Some of their suggestions are already in place, such as the appointment of Jacques Faul as acting CEO and a resolution for CSA to begin negotiations to smoothen its relationship with the South African Cricketers’ Association, which is currently strained by a court case over the proposed domestic restructure.
Among the other suggestions are the immediate reinstatement of selection convener Linda Zondi and his panel as well as lifting the suspensions on six staff members: interim director of cricket till recently Corrie van Zyl, COO Naasei Appiah, head of sales and sponsorships Clive Eksteen, finance manager Ziyanda Ntuli, procurement manager Lundi Maja, and administrator Dalene Nolan. The capacity in which van Zyl may return has not been stipulated, but it will not be in the director of cricket role, which Smith is expected to be confirmed for next week. Van Zyl had previously worked as CSA’s general manager of cricket.
“I would always be willing to help where people think I can add value. It would, however, have be part of a bigger process to the commitment to rebuild a solid system”
Kirsten confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that he hadn’t yet held any talks with CSA, but that he would be interested in helping South African cricket get back on its feet provided there was a bigger picture in place.
“I have not been approached by CSA but have been asked, by others, if I would be interested,” he said. “I would always be willing to help where people think I can add value. It would, however, have be part of a bigger process to the commitment to rebuild a solid system.”
Kirsten coached South Africa between October 2011 and July 2013, a period in which they became the No. 1 Test team in the world. He was in charge of a team that included Smith, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher, all of whom have been named among people that could be approached to assist the board this summer. ESPNcricinfo has been reliably informed that Kallis has shown an interest in a consulting role, while Boucher, who is the coach of the Centurion-based Titans franchise, could take on a bigger role at the national level. Jonty Rhodes is also being considered.
All this represents a return to South Africa’s old guard in a bid to bring stability to a system that has suffered a series of setbacks including the loss of a major sponsor in Standard Bank and the inability to sell television rights for its flagship T20 tournament, the Mzansi Super League, which will conclude on Monday. The competition has been broadcast on the free-to-air SABC, which only paid a token amount. CSA’s projected losses of Rand 654 million over the next four-year cycle has worried the likes of Bacher and Arendse, who fear the game may be damaged beyond repair.
Bacher was involved in meetings between suspended CSA CEO Thabang Moroe and Smith over the director of cricket role, while Arendse penned an open letter recently calling on CSA’s board to step down. Three independent board members resigned last week but president Chris Nenzani, two other independent directors, and six provincial presidents remain in place.
BCB hoping to gain clarity on Pakistan tour this week
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) will know later this week whether the Bangladesh government will allow them to send the men’s team to Pakistan for a full tour in January, according to chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury. The decision to tour hinges on security assessments, which will be determined by the government, apart from the board’s own security team which has submitted a report recently.
Chowdhury was responding to a question posed about the Pakistan Cricket Board’s proposal to play a day-night Test during the tour. He said that the decision to play the day-night game is secondary for them currently.
“Before discussing the proposal to play day-night Test, we are awaiting the government directive because of the security issue in Pakistan,” Chowdhury was quoted as saying by Kaler Kantho. “We will need the government’s permission. We have to first see if we can go on this tour. We don’t have much time as the tour is scheduled for next month. We are hopeful that we can clear our position on the tour this week. We will know if we are going to Pakistan or not.”
ESPNcricinfo has learnt that the BCB are not quite keen on playing another day-night Test without giving the players enough match practice with the pink ball under lights. The current schedule would not allow the senior team time to prepare separately for pink-ball cricket, as the BPL ends on January 17.
The tour is scheduled for three T20Is from January 23, and the Test series has to finish before the PSL that is scheduled to begin on February 20, so like their maiden pink-ball Test in India last month, Bangladesh are unlikely to get an extra practice match before the proposed Pakistan day-night Test.
On the other hand, the PCB has been experimenting with day-night first-class cricket for the last eight years starting with the final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in 2011, which was played with an orange ball in Karachi, and their Test side has played four day-night matches.
‘A sense of unknown’ as Steven Smith gets ready for Perth day-night Test
There is barely a major Test ground around the world that Steven Smith does not know intimately. But despite being the fastest in history to score 7000 Test runs, he admits there is a sense of trepidation as he prepares for his first Test at Perth Stadium, one of Australia’s newest Test centres.
The venue has only held three first-class fixtures so far, including one Test match between Australia and India last year, which Smith did not play as he was serving a ball-tampering ban. He has only played two matches at the venue, an ODI against England where he made 12 from 23 deliveries, and the T20I against Pakistan this year where he didn’t bat.
So the first day-night Test against New Zealand will be an unfamiliar challenge.
“There is a sense of unknown, particularly with the pink ball as well,” Smith said. “You just never know. I watched the Test match last year, which seemed to have some good pace and bounce. I guess it’s just different with the pink ball, how that responds.
“I think it will be about us just summing it up and seeing how it plays and adapting really quickly to whatever we need to do.”
Smith has lost his place as the world’s No. 1 Test batsman to Virat Kohli, who was the only man to master the Perth Stadium conditions in last year’s Test where ball dominated bat. Kohli made 123 in an India loss when no other player across sides exceeded 72.
Smith was unperturbed at losing the top spot, and he knows runs can be scored on the surface, particularly against the pink ball, as Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq did against Australia A last month.
“Sometimes when the wicket’s really hard, it can soften that ball up,” Smith said. “It can be 10-15 overs at the start when the ball is new it can be hard work, but then good for batting for 50 or 60 overs. We saw a pink-ball game a couple of weeks ago here between Pakistan and Australia A, and there were some big runs scored in that game from the Pakistan guys.”
The weather is also an unknown. Perth is set for scorching temperatures throughout the match with 38 degrees Celsius forecast, which can often produce large cracks in the local pitches at both the WACA and Perth Stadium.
“We’ve seen here in the past, games at the WACA for instance, the cracks come into play late in the game,” Smith said. “And if it’s as hot as it says it’s going to be, they could potentially come into play, which I think is good. When the cracks come into play, it’s something that plays on your mind. You look down and you see these things. Generally, the balls that get you out don’t touch the cracks, they’re just sort of playing in your mind.
“A lot of the guys have played when the wickets have been cracked and been able to play reasonably well. If it does happen, hopefully, we can adjust to it.”
Smith should be fresh and primed after a series against Pakistan where he spent more time watching than batting, something he is not accustomed to.
“It wasn’t easy actually,” Smith said. “It’s been a while since I was sitting there and just watching the boys do their thing. It was great to see some guys score some big runs and me just sit back and watch and chill out or try to chill out. It’s actually hard waiting to bat and you’re really focused on what’s going on out in the middle and thinking about getting ready.
“That was difficult from that point of view. New Zealand are a good side and I’ve had a bit of success against them in the past in Test cricket, so I’m looking forward to this series and hopefully the boys up top can keep scoring big runs, and if not, hopefully I’ll be able to get some.”
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