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Won’t negotiate with any current board members – SACA

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The South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) will not engage with Cricket South Africa’s negotiating panel if it includes any members of the current board. In a statement released on Monday, three days after CSA CEO Thabang Moroe was suspended and an interim administration headed by Jacques Faul was appointed, SACA again called for the entire board to step down, although they have agreed to dealings with Faul. CSA confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that Faul would be meeting SACA on Wednesday.

“SACA has noted the appointment of Jacques Faul, as the acting chief executive, and is prepared to deal with him in good faith in order to attempt to resolve as many as possible of the current crises affecting the players. SACA will not, however, lend credibility to the Board of CSA by dealing with a ‘negotiating panel’ if this comprises any Board members,” Tony Irish, the SACA CEO, said.

“Cricket has been severely damaged by its own leadership and the game desperately needs the right people in whom the cricket stakeholders, including the players, can trust in attempting to fix as much of the damage as possible.”

SACA has two ongoing disputes with CSA: a court-case relating to the proposed restructure of the domestic system and a commercial rights issue in which players’ have been used in a fantasy cricket game, allegedly without the proper permissions. When Faul was appointed in an acting capacity on Saturday, CSA President Chris Nenzani identified fixing the organisation’s relationship with SACA as a “matter of urgency”.

“It is very important for us to normalise relations at that level and talk to the players so that we have a common approach and a common understanding on the way of doing things going forward. That matter is going to be attended to. This is part of engagement which CSA will be having with SACA as a matter of urgency. It is important that these two organisations, CSA and SACA, get to a point where all the issues that seem to be vexatious between us and them are handled and are dealt with in a manner that is very professional and conclusive,” Nenzani said.

The Members’ Council – made up of the 14 provincial presidents some of whom also sit on the CSA board – mandated the board to “fix this relationship with SACA,” through a negotiating panel. The members of this panel have yet to be decided but SACA has made it clear they will not have any dialogue if CSA board members are included. SACA has demanded the board be held equally responsible as Moroe for the myriad crises enveloping CSA at the moment which range from financial issues to staff suspensions.

“We are astounded that the Board of CSA which has led the organisation during a tumultuous period when all this has happened now refuses to take responsibility for the deep, deep crisis in which cricket finds itself. No one disagrees with the removal of the chief executive, but to suggest that the buck stopped with him alone, and for the Board to cling so desperately to power, is a matter for serious concern,” Irish said.

SACA claims the board were complicit in ignoring the player body’s concerns, especially as they relate to the domestic restructure. CSA’s members’ forum are advocating for the dismantling of the current six-team franchise and 14-team provincial structure and reverting to a 12-team provincial set-up thus operating with only one tier in domestic cricket. SACA argue that around 70 cricketers will lose their jobs as a result. SACA launched a court application in May this year to ask CSA to show cause for its plans to restructure the set-up, and believe it then “became incumbent on the Board to, at very least, take a good look at the risk that this presented to the organisation, and to the game, and to deal with it expeditiously. Instead, however CSA delayed the proceedings for months and its answering papers were only filed at court in November 2019.”

CSA’s court documents were submitted after SACA and CSA agreed a roadmap in August which SACA accuses CSA of not honouring. “There was a refusal to follow up on the agreement, despite several requests to do so by SACA. The president himself eventually replied to SACA some seven weeks later stating that CSA would not enter into such agreement with the players’ association, effectively scuppering any chance of resolving these issues for the players,” Irish said.

While responding to SACA, CSA reiterated that they had made a “renewed commitment” to work with all stakeholders, but indicated that the Wednesday meeting with SACA would have Faul alone. “CSA has noted the statement released by SACA earlier today. We would like to emphasise that CSA is currently undergoing a process of renewal and revival and in the best interest of the sport of cricket, we have made a renewed commitment to work with all key stakeholders in the cricket fraternity, including and especially SACA. Dr Faul is scheduled to meet with SACA this Wednesday, 11 December and we will advise any important details after that meeting. We reiterate that Dr Faul has been fully mandated in his role as Acting CEO to take a lead in addressing issues raised by SACA towards a healthy relationship between the two parties.”



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Marnus Stoinis still wants all-round role for Australia

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Marcus Stoinis believes he can still break into Australia’s T20 World Cup team as an allrounder despite being recast as a non-bowling opening batsman for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League, a role in which he is all but assured of finishing as the tournament’s top scorer this season.

In a telling departure from the positions he has occupied for Australia, Stoinis has been used at the top of the order by the Stars, where he gets the advantage of extra time to start his innings, while also not bowling at all.

The result has been a tally of 607 runs from 14 regular season games at an average of 60.70 and a strike rate of 134.29, underlining the wisdom of placing Stoinis at the top, even though he is unlikely to contend for a similar spot for Australia where Aaron Finch and David Warner are locked in as openers.

ALSO READ: Melbourne Stars dealt finals blow with Sandeep Lamichhane unavailable

Asked whether he could command an allrounder’s place in the national T20 squad despite the change in role for the Stars, Stoinis noted that the likes of Jon Wells had been adept at the middle order job, but argued he still had the IPL with the Delhi Capitals in which to show his allround abilities.

“I do understand that definitely they’re very different and you’ve had guys like Jon Wells – how well’s he done – I mean, he’s been a good player for a long time, I’ve known him from Western Australia. So I’m really happy for him,” Stoinis said. “But then also, for me I’m not too worried because I’ve batted everywhere my whole career.

“I’ll go to the IPL in two months and most likely I’ll be batting five or six. So to me, I see it as I’m adaptable, I’m trying to do everything I can in the game and if the selectors see it as ‘you’re an opening batsman’ or whatever, that’s up to them.

“You’ve got to be careful with what you feel you deserve and I think I’ve probably been guilty of having expectations that you think other people should reward you for certain things. So I’m very aware, I’m just enjoying what I’m doing. I understand that the national selectors wanted me to go back to domestic cricket, or Big Bash cricket and dominate, so hopefully I’ve sent that message.”

Numerous opening batsman have occupied the other spot opposite Stoinis for the Stars, and the club still looks to be trying to find their best combination despite qualifying at the top of the table and earning a home final against the Sydney Sixers at the MCG on Friday night.

“We’ve been adaptable and that’s what happens in this competition – whether it’s Australian selection or injuries, that sort of stuff,” Stoinis said. “But the main thing I’m after, I just want the person at the non-striker’s end to feel no pressure and just have fun and we’re there to express ourselves, we’re playing at the MCG, we’ve got great opportunities.

“I was talking to Seb [Gotch] before the last game and I was messaging him asking him if there’s anything he needs from me and he said ‘no, just clap at the other end when I hit a boundary’.”

As for the Stars’ trailing off in performance after securing top spot – they lost their last three games, including a heavy defeat to the lowly Brisbane Heat in the final fixture – Stoinis said the club had enjoyed the chance to end the treadmill of matches and refocus for the finals. A team outing to the Australian Open tennis on Sunday had afforded the chance to let off some steam.

“I’ve heard a few people say maybe we got complacent and that sort of stuff but also there’s been a few opportunities to, with injury and that sort of stuff, to give people a chance and we’re trying to find this opening partnership as well,” Stoinis said. “We’ve had an overseas player left, so there’s moving parts. I don’t think it was complacency, it’s more just the fact you’ve got to be adaptable and we’re heading now to the pointy end and we’ve got pretty much our full team available.

“I think there’s still some positives. Petey Handscomb’s played well the last couple of games, we’ve had a few injuries, Hilton Cartwright’s been really good for us but then he’s got a crack in his finger…it’s just going to give opportunities to other people.

“I guess in big games you either get a bit nervous and you try and stay away from failure or you go for it and you look for success – so that’s what we’ll be looking for. I’ll be charging towards success, hopefully.”

One key addition for the Stars will be the return of the Pakistan paceman Haris Rauf from international duty, which will provide something of a counterbalance to the loss off Sandeep Lamichhane’s artful wrist spin.

“We’ve been bowling about 18 overs of spin a game, so we’ll still hopefully have enough spinners to cover all those sort of bases,” Stoinis said. “We’ve had Hinchy [Clint Hinchliffe] who’s come into his own and done really well for us, we’ve obviously got Zamps [Adam Zampa] coming back, Maxy’s been bowling unbelievably well and then the Mad dog, [Nic Maddinson] has been chipping in with a few wickets and some catches. So I think we’ve got a lot of spin covered and now we’ve got big Raufy to come back in and maybe I’ll bowl an over.”



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Todd Astle ends first-class career to focus on limited overs

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New Zealand legspinner Todd Astle has quit first-class cricket to focus on the limited-overs formats.

Astle, 33, played five Tests over a seven-year period, the most recent of them against Australia at the SCG earlier this month. However, he has started to find the demands of preparing for the red-ball formats a challenge while balancing his family and business life.

“Playing Test cricket was always the dream and I’m so honoured to have represented my country and province in the longest form of the game,” Astle said. “Red-ball cricket is the pinnacle, but also requires a huge amount of time and effort. As I’ve got to the back end of my career I’ve found it harder to maintain the level of commitment required to be fully invested in this version of the game.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to achieve with Canterbury and the Blackcaps. To have the opportunity to play a Test against Australia at the SCG was an experience I’ll always cherish. I’m excited to now focus all my energy into the white-ball formats, as well as give more time to my young family and new business.”

In first-class cricket overall, he played 119 matches scoring 4345 runs at 25.86 and taking 334 wickets at 32.17 having started his career as an opening batsman for Canterbury. He also finishes as Canterbury’s highest first-class wicket-taker with 303.

New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen said: “Todd’s been an absolute stalwart for Canterbury in the Plunket Shield and his first-class record speaks for itself. To prepare and play four-day cricket at such a level for the best part of 15 seasons is a credit to him and his perseverance.

“His ability to turn the ball both ways and build pressure always made him a threat with the red-ball in hand. We appreciate this would have been a tough call for Todd and we absolutely support his proactive decision. He wants to get the most out of himself at this stage of his career and spend more time with his family, and those are admirable reasons.”

Astle would have been in the frame for the two Tests against India next month but the selectors will now have to consider whether they recall Mitchell Santner, who missed the SCG Test due to illness but may have been dropped, retain Will Somerville or bring back left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel if they want a frontline spin option.



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‘Totally incorrect’ – Wasim Khan denies deal with Bangladesh over hosting Asia Cup

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It is “totally incorrect” that the PCB had brought Bangladesh to Pakistan by promising them hosting rights for the Asia Cup later this year, board CEO Wasim Khan has said, adding that it’s for the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) to figure out what would happen if India refuse to travel for the tournament.

The PCB had earned the Asia Cup hosting rights for the first time in over a decade for the 2020 edition, but at the time of the allotment of the tournament in 2018, it wasn’t clear whether it would take place in Pakistan or in the UAE. Now, after successfully hosting a number of international series and Pakistan Super League matches – the entire tournament is scheduled to be played at home this year – on their soil, the PCB wants to organise the Asia Cup in Pakistan in September this year too.

But there could be a question mark over India’s participation then – the 2018 edition was supposed to be held in India but was moved to the UAE to ensure Pakistan’s participation in it.

“When we are supposed to go to India for the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup, we also might face a reverse situation because of the safety and uncertainty on players’ visas”

Wasim Khan

“This is totally incorrect and we haven’t spoken with Bangladesh about the Asia Cup at all,” Khan told reporters in Lahore when asked if the PCB had used the Asia Cup as a bargaining chip for Bangladesh to travel to Pakistan.

The BCB was initially apprehensive about travelling to Pakistan but, after lengthy negotiations, agreed to play a series of three T20Is, an ODI and two Tests in three parts. “This is ACC tournament and the hosting rights were allotted to us by them, and we can’t change it,” Khan said. “It’s in our mind and it’s our wish to host the Asia Cup in Pakistan.”

When asked about India’s participation in the Asia Cup later this year, keeping in mind the strained political relationship between the two countries, Khan suggested that the ACC would take the final call and that Pakistan would try to work out a plan including holding the tournament across two venues.

“Maybe two venues for these circumstances,” Khan said. “When we are supposed to go to India for the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup, we also might face a reverse situation because of the safety and uncertainty on players’ visas. But we are confident that things will ease out over the period of time.”



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