Archive for 1/1/18 - 2/1/18

Big Bash League Semi-Final Preview

The Perth Scorchers were named minor premiers once again after topping the ladder courtesy of a four-wicket victory over the Adelaide Strikers. It was the perfect way to say farewell to the WACA and it set up a tantalising semi-final clash with the Hobart Hurricanes. George Bailey’s men defied the odds to finish fourth in the ladder, and the Strikers became another surprise package by finishing second. They were widely written off after losing key men ahead of BBL7, but Rashid Khan has been absolutely sensational and they deserve their place in the semi-finals. But they face a tough game against the experienced Melbourne Renegades, led by Dwayne Bravo. Here we preview both semi-finals:

Perth Scorchers v Hobart Hurricanes

The Scorchers have displayed remarkable resourcefulness in topping the ladder despite losing a host of key players to international duty. Coach Justin Langer will now have a selection headache as he heads into the semi-final: does he stick with the guys that got them to this point, or should he reintroduce the likes of Shaun and Mitch Marsh straight away? It seems highly likely that he will choose the latter option as the Marsh brothers have the star quality that can get Perth into another grand final. Andrew Tye remains with the Australia squad for the T20 internationals against England, and Ashton Agar has also been called up, but the Scorchers will welcome back Jhye Richardson.
The hosts have won their last seven home games, but they came at the WACA and they will have to quickly adapt to their new home, the Optus Stadium. They will hope the leadership of Langer and Adam Voges can see them through.

This Perth team blends youth and experience to devastating effect, and Cameron Bancroft is another fantastic weapon for them. He hit 54 off 36 balls as the Scorchers beat the Hurricanes by five wickets and with four balls to spare on January 20, so they should have the psychological edge going into the game. The Hurricanes have suffered a huge blow as D’Arcy Short, the BBL’s leading run scorer with 504, was called up to the Australian T20 squad for the first time. To cushion the blow, they get test and ODI wicket-keeper Tim Paine back, but they will be heavily reliant on captain Bailey. As it stands, the Scorchers should win this one comfortably and head into another final, and they look a good option at $1.61 in the Big Bash odds at Oddschecker to do so.

Adelaide Strikers v Melbourne Renegades

The Strikers have defied expectations to get this far, but it could be the end of the line as they have been utterly ravaged by international call-ups. Alex Carey, the second highest run scorer in the Big Bash so far after Short, has been selected for Australia’s T20 team, along with Travis Head and Billy Stanlake. Head was superb against England in the fourth ODI at the Adelaide Oval, so the Strikers could have done with his talents.

To even things out a little, the Melbourne Renegades will be once again without their captain and star man, Aaron Finch. He has been Australia’s leading batsman in the disappointing ODI series and has been chosen as vice-captain for the T20 games, while Kane Richardson has also had a call-up. However, the Renegades welcome back Cameron White to captain the side, and all-rounder Tom Cooper believes his team has a great chance of seizing glory in the Finals. “We have got momentum at the right time of the season,” he said. “If we go out and play our brand of cricket, we'll be in with a real good crack.” The Renegades are also blessed with the talents of Bravo and veteran Brad Hodge, so they will not fear the trip to Adelaide.

If they make it through to the final, the Strikers will lose Khan, the breakout star of BBL7 and its leading wicket taker, as he has to go off and play for Afghanistan. But leading them into the grand final would be the perfect leaving present and he has the ability to pull it off. The Strikers beat the Renegades a week ago, with Colin Ingram and Ben Laughlin leading the charge, and that could give them the edge in the semi-final.

Adelaide have home advantage and are the favourite to win the game, priced at $1.91 with the bookmakers on Oddschecker, compared to $2.00 for the Renegades. Ingram and Laughlin are still there, and fans are convinced the Strikers can pull off another win over the Renegades as most of the betting action has gone on the home team so far. If they make it through to the final, it will be a remarkable achievement as their selectors were heavily criticised for their off-season decisions and they were widely tipped to finish bottom of the ladder. However, if they find themselves up against the Scorchers in the final, deprived of the services of Khan, they will be the serious underdogs and we could be looking at a fourth Scorchers victory in seven years.

IPL auction: Ben Stokes signs £1.4m deal with Rajasthan Royals

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been bought by Rajasthan Royals for whopping Rs 12.5 crore (£1.4m) in the first round of Indian Premier League's bidding.

The 26-year-old fetched a massive price at the IPL auction once again and will join Australian skipper Steve Smith after the 28-year-old batsman went for £1.38m.

South Africa's Hashim Amla, England's Joe Root and the hard-hitting West Indies batsman Chris Gayle went unsold in the first round of bidding of the much-awaited Indian Premier League (IPL) auction in Bengaluru.

The second and final auction starts on Sunday, with a total of more than 500 players to be picked by the eight IPL franchises.

The 11th edition of Indian Premier League begins in April.

England announce Test squad for New Zealand tour

England have announced their squad for the two-test match series to be played in New Zealand this March.

The Controversial all-rounder Ben Stokes has been named in England's test squad to face Black Caps later this season.

Stokes, 26, who arrested back in September after an incident in Bristol, his participation depends on the verdict of his legal case with the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK.

The 24-year-old batsman Liam Livingstone has been called up for the first time to replace Yorkshire's Gary Ballance, while fast bowlers Jake Ball and Tom Curran both missed the selection following the Ashes defeat.

England's top order batsmen James Vince and Mark Stoneman both retain their places in the squad.

The first test will be played on March 22 at Auckland' Eden Park, is a day-nighter and the second test to be held in Christchurch on March 30.

England Squad: Joe Root (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Alastair Cook becomes 6th batsman to reach 12,000 Test runs milestone

England’s batsman Alastair Cook has become the sixth batsman to reach 12,000 Test runs milestone as England battled to save the fifth Test.

The 33-year-old, who is currently playing his 152nd test match - joins an elite quintet of Sachin Tendulkar (15,291), Ricky Ponting (13,378), Jacques Kallis (13,289), Rahul Dravid (13,288) and Kumar Sangakkara (12,400).

The right-handed batsman becomes the first Englishman to achieve this milestone with a single off his pads after lunch on the fourth day of the fifth Ashes test at Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Cook received an ovation from the fans after reaching the milestone in the third over of England’s second innings.

07 January, 2018

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