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BCB chief positive about getting security clearance for Pakistan tour



BCB president Nazmul Hassan is hopeful that the Bangladesh team will get security clearance from the government to tour Pakistan next month for a series comprising three T20Is and two Tests. However, he also said that there remained a couple of more steps that needed to be taken before a final decision could be arrived at.

Last week, BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury had said that the board was expecting a decision from the government imminently, but that time was running out. However, Hassan struck a more positive tone on Saturday.

“We had written to the government about our security clearance for Pakistan,” Hassan said. “We had sent a women’s team and an Under-16 team previously. We don’t have the clearance for the senior men’s team yet. Security is paramount even if it is for an Under-12 side. It is going to be the same for everyone, which is why I believe that we are likely to get the security clearance.”

Bangladeshi sides have toured Pakistan in the recent past, but the men’s team haven’t done so since 2008. Seven years ago they were close to deciding on a tour to Pakistan, only for the AHM Mustafa Kamal-led BCB to pull out shortly after the decision to tour was taken.

Hassan has said that after the government announces their decision, it would be up to the BCB to speak to the players who could decide for themselves whether they were keen to tour or not. BCB director Akram Khan has already suggested splitting the tour so that the Tests could be played later.

“The government had sent their security team, so once we get the clearance we can tell you our decision. After the security clearance, we also must ask the cricketers, whose opinion is important.

“We also have to consider the board’s decision, but we are at the final stages of our decision. I think we will know about it in the next 4-5 days,” said Hassan.

The tour comprises of three T20Is, scheduled to be held in Lahore on January 23, 25 and 27, and two Tests, which are slated to be held in Rawalpindi and Karachi.

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Costly batting lapses hurt Perth Scorchers



Season in nutshell

Better than last year when they had the shock of finishing with the wooden spoon but still some way short of the powerhouse side that dominated for many seasons. The schedule was very tough for them without back-to-back home games until the end of the regular season which led to a lot of long return journeys to the east coast. They managed a mid-season run of three consecutive wins which put things on track for a finals place, but two awful batting performances against the Stars were costly although the rain did them no favours in the final game against the Sydney Thunder

What went right?

The good was very good. The opening partnership between Josh Inglis and Liam Livingstone was dynamic and the most prolific pairing of the season with 554 runs. Inglis was likened to Brendon McCullum (with even the man himself seeing the similarities) while Livingstone showed tremendous power. Fawad Ahmed and Jhye Richardson, who each took 15 wickets along with Chris Jordan, were also impressive while Jordan’s stunning catch to remove Dan Christian provided one of the highlights of the tournament.

What went wrong?

There was too much of a gap between the leading performers and the rest with bat and ball. Mitchell Marsh supported the openers well, but while Cameron Bancroft made nearly 300 runs he sometimes struggled for tempo in the middle order and Ashton Turner had a season to forget with 86 runs in seven innings. The bowling depth was always going to be tested without Jason Behrendorff (long-term back injury) and AJ Tye (elbow) which meant it was a bad time for Matt Kelly (eight wickets, economy 9.38) to struggle to match his 2018-19 performances

Performance of the season

Marsh’s 93 off 41 balls against the Brisbane Heat was as clean a display of ball-striking as you could see – and that does some doing behind Livingstone and Inglis. It was important for Marsh to have a good BBL after missing the first part of the season after breaking his hand and this was a show of the power that will keep him in international contention.

Player of the season

Tough to split Livingstone and Inglis, but coming in as an overseas player brings additional expectation to perform and Livingstone lived up to it. Perhaps, occasionally, he went for one big shot too many and his timing eluded him at a vital moment on a tricky pitch against the Thunder but this was an eye-catching season and could put him back in the England frame.

Key Stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)

From a statistical point of view the Scorchers did not do too badly. Three bowlers took 15 wickets and three batsmen are present in the top 15 run-scorers. The Scorchers lost their finals spot due to their inability to close out matches which they should have won. Against the Strikers they were 0 for 124 in 8.3 overs chasing 198 and against the Stars they lost chasing a paltry 141. They will reflect on these two losses as one of the main reasons they were squeezed out of the finals.

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Marnus Stoinis still wants all-round role for Australia



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



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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