Australia's Usman Khawaja signs up for Glamorgan

Australian batsman Usman Khawaja has joined the Welsh county cricket side Glamorgan for the summer's Vitality T20 blast.

The 31-year-old is Glamorgan's second overseas player for the English domestic T20 competition alongside fellow countryman Shaun Marsh, who will be available to play for the entire season.

Khawaja will be available for all 14 group fixtures in the competition.

“I’m delighted to have signed for Glamorgan for their Vitality Blast campaign and look forward to the challenge of helping them build on the success they achieved in last year’s competition,” the left-handers told the club’s official website.

“From my point of view, it would be great to be able to take them a step further and bring silverware back to Wales.”

He has played 33 Tests, 18 one-day internationals and nine T20Is since making his debut in 2011.

Khawaja has a vast of experience in T20 cricket having featured in the KFC Big Bash League for Sydney Thunder and in the Indian Premier League for Rising Pune Supergiants.

Glamorgan begin their tournament on July 6 against Hampshire.

Zimbabwe to host Australia and Pakistan for T20 tri-series

Zimbabwe will host Australia and Pakistan for a T20 tri-series starting this July.

The hosts opted not to play any Tests against the two heavyweights sides, even though Aussies were scheduled to play one Test, while Pakistan were supposed to face Zimbabwe in a two-Test series.

Zimbabwe will be hosting the series after failing to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

“Playing two of the game’s biggest teams will provide us with a very welcome litmus test as we forge ahead with our plans to develop a stronger Zimbabwe side capable of consistently competing and winning against the best,” Zimbabwe Cricket’s managing director Faisal Hasnain was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

Durham sign India's spinner Axar Patel

Durham have announced the signing of India spin bowler Axar Patel for the last six championship games to be played this summer.

The 24-year-old will arrive Chester-le-Street in mid-August and could make his debut against Glamorgan on 19 August at the SWALEC.

The all-rounder has claimed 79 wickets in first-class cricket and scored 1,163 runs at 48.45, including one century.
Patel is currently representing Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League.

Could sandpaper-gate ruin cricket’s reputation?

The world remains shaken up after the Australian ball-tampering scandal, which many already refer to as ‘sandpaper-gate’. It’s one of the most shocking attempts at cheating in sport as a whole, and has been even more devastating in cricket, as it’s usually a sport known fondly for playing fairly and sticking to old traditions.

Cricket could be about to change in more ways than one after such criticism from followers of other sports and one website who’ll be keeping an eye on the situation as it continues to develop is TeamFA, who even facilitate their own section on site with all the latest previews, predictions and their very own cricket betting tips.

Blatant cheating

Into the third day of their third test match with South Africa, there was a shocking site from the participating camera crews, when Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner were found out to be ball tampering in order to improve their Australian side’s chances of winning. It was done in such a blatant way too, with one cricketer keeping sandpaper in his trousers with an intention of sanding the ball down, which would likely change its path when it’s bowled at the South African batsman.

Caught red-handed by the camera crews, there was no way of avoiding their attempt to cheat, which led to lengthy bans for all three involved. They each opened up to the press in emotional conferences, but the damage had already been done and even after taking into consideration how much their nation had been forced into being dangerously competitive in such tournaments, it’s hard to forgive such clear attempts at tampering. It would also be fair to say that the remorse and upset might not be so dramatic if they’d never been caught.

Uncharacteristic of the sport

Whilst we see various controversies throughout the extensive world of sport like the Lance Armstrong doping scandal in cycling, the regular stresses which come with checking for performance-enhancing drugs in athletics, and ongoing issues with FIFA in football, cricket has tended to avoid being in the news for all the wrong reasons. Seeing such upset in a sport as tame as cricket tends to be is a shame and massively disappointing for fans of the sport as well as those who respect it but aren’t quite as knowledgeable on it.

Although it has had a negative impact on the sport as a whole, it’s unlikely to damn them to becoming a taboo subject in future years, as it was the actions of three individual players with an overly competitive mindset and clearly unorthodox intentions, so we’re looking forward to this all blowing over with a view to getting back to the traditionally fair mentality that cricket usually upholds so astutely.

Gloucestershire's Tom Smith pens new two-year contract

Gloucestershire spinner Tom Smith has committed his future to the club after signing a new two-year contract that promises to keep him at the Brightside Ground until the 2019 Championship season conclusion.

The 30-year-old has been representing Glos since 2013 and was a regular in one-day cricket last season, featuring 19 games across the two competitions - the Vitality Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup.

"I thoroughly enjoy my time at Gloucestershire," the left-arm orthodox spin bowler said.

"The club's recruitment of Ryan Higgins, Daniel Worrall, Chris Rogers and AJ Tye shows its desire to push for honours and I'm really proud to be a part of that."

Gloucestershire head-coach Richard Dawson added: "Tom has been an integral part of our squad since arriving at Gloucestershire so it's great that he has re-signed with us."

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