BBL 11 | Covid-depleted Stars thrashed by Scorchers

With their 10 players having tested Covid positive, the Melbourne Stars and their captain Glenn Maxwell didn’t really have much of a choice but to field a playing XI. It was always going to be a tough battle for a below-par Stars side against Perth Scorchers, one of the top-notch sides in the league. It turned out to be the same as they were thrashed by 50 runs to suffer their fourth loss of the tournament. 

The chase of 180 was started in great fashion by Stars openers Joe Clarke and Tom Rogers as they added 78 for the first wicket in only 51 balls. However as both of them fell in consecutive overs, it was difficult for the rest of the batters to keep up with the asking rate especially as Maxwell failed to make any significant contribution with the bat. 

Apart from Clarke’s 52 and Rogers’ 32, only Charlie Wakim and Hilton Cartwright could get into the double figures as the entire team got all out for 130 in the 19th over. For Scorchers, Tymal Mills, Andrew Tye and Peter Hatzoglou picked three, two and two wickets respectively. 

Leg spinner Hatzoglou was given the Player of the Match award for picking two crucial wickets of Maxwell and well set Rogers. 

Earlier in the evening, after winning the toss and choosing to bat first at the Junction Oval, Melbourne, Scorchers didn’t really have a good start as they lost Cameron Bancroft early on in the innings. 

However, two in-form batters in Colin Munro and Kurtis Patterson paired up to add 68 runs for the second wicket. While Munro was dismissed for 40 off just 20 balls, Patterson completed his fifty, scoring 54 off 39 balls. 

However, post that they lost quick wickets until skipper Ashton Turner scored 27 off 19 balls and Ashton Agar made 19 off 16 balls to take Scorchers to 180-8 in their 20 overs. With this win, the Scorchers have now reached the top of the table having accumulated seven wins out of eight games. They are 2.5 points ahead of second-placed Sydney Sixers. 

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SA vs IND | 2nd Test: Amla believes laser-like focus from batters only way for Proteas to come back

After going down to India by 113 runs in the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion, the South Africans would be looking to start a new in the new year and what better way to do that than have one of the greatest batters to put on the Protea cap advise you. Hashim Amla, a legend of the game with more than 9000 Test runs to his kitty in 124 Tests believes that batters have to take up the onus upon them, especially Temba Bavuma, who looked in good touch in the first game. “There’s certainly a way back but it’s going to take laser-like focus for extended periods and a touch a fortune,” said Amla in a press release by Cricket South Africa. “Our two best batters in the middle are Temba and Quinton (de Kock). Now that Quinton has opted out of Test cricket, this cripples the batting line-up further and really, now more than ever, it makes it imperative for Temba to bat higher. Be it three or four, allow him time to play a solidifying role as opposed to a recovery one,” he added. Amla also went on to say that openers Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram are class players and they need to bring on their ‘A’ game to the fore if South Africa are to keep their record of not losing a home Test series to India alive. “Dean and Aiden are class players with a pedigree for hundreds and if they get momentum, it would certainly ease the nerves and give much-needed confidence for the younger guys,” said the 38-year-old. The second Betway Test takes place from 03-07 January at Imperial Wanderers in Johannesburg. India lead the series 1-0.


The Ashes | Usman Khawaja to utilise Sydney Test as potential pitch for Subcontinent selection

Usman Khawaja, who last played for his country in August 2019 during the last Ashes in England will be making his return to the international fold with the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney. He will be replacing Travis Head in the middle who tested positive for Covid-19. However, the Pakistan born Aussie is aware that it is just a one-off opportunity and Head will eventually return for the fifth game in Hobart. But even in this one-off game for him, he wants to bat well and lay the foundation for his selection for Australia’s upcoming Test tours to the subcontinent where they will play Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India in near future. "It's one of those things where even if I do play, it'll only be for one game. I understand that situation, (and) hopefully, I can go out there and score a hundred and do well for the team in the absence of Heady (Travis Head),” Khawaja said in a chat with reporters ahead of the Sydney Test. "There's a lot of cricket still to come up. I'm just putting my head down, making sure I'm working really hard and doing the best I can for Australia whenever I get the opportunity I'll potentially have one game for Australia here, but even if that doesn't happen, I know there's still a lot of cricket on the subcontinent which I feel I'm very suited to, and which I'm looking forward to hopefully being a part of moving forward,” he added further. All Australian players have tested negative except Marcus Harris, whose tests results are yet not disclosed. He dined with Head the night before the latter testing Covid positive. The fourth Test would begin on January fifth at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground.


The Ashes | McGrath to present caps virtually during Pink Test after testing positive for Covid

Australian fast bowling legend Glenn McGrath who has been associated with the new year’s first Test in Sydney, which is now known as the Pink Test for quite some time, will not be available for the first time to present players with their caps. Since the Test came to be known colloquially as the Pink Test in memory of Jane McGrath, the late wife of the former Aussie pacer, McGrath himself presents pink caps to all players as part of an awareness campaign against breast cancer. "Glenn has had a PCR test which unfortunately returned a positive result. We wish Glenn and his family good health,” McGrath Foundation chief executive Holly Masters informed the media. "We are grateful to our partners at Cricket Australia and the SCG. As well as the England cricket team and the broadcasters for their ongoing support for the Pink Test and look forward to still making this the 'pinkest' Ashes," she added. Jane died due to this vicious disease and since then the 51-year-old is running the McGrath Foundation which supports patients suffering from breast cancer all around Australia. The third day of the SCG Test is known as Jane McGrath Day and audiences donate funds directly to the McGrath Foundation as efforts are made by Cricket Australia, broadcasters as well as the foundation itself to make the day as rewarding in terms of financial donations as possible. It is yet unknown if McGrath would be able to make it to the ground on the third day or not. The fourth Test against England begins on January 05th and Australia already leads the series 3-0.


The Ashes | We don’t want to lose 5-0 says Jos Buttler ahead of Sydney Test

England wicketkeeper batter Jos Buttler has said that he and the entire English wouldn’t want to go back home being thrashed 5-0 in the Ashes and hence the motivation for the team is now to play well in the remaining two games and avoid the whitewash. "We've not competed or played the cricket we wanted to at the start of the tour. We're not gelling as a group and individually playing well enough to compete with Australia. We certainly don't want to be a team to lose 5-0,” he said in a media meet up on January 02nd. Buttler has not been in good touch with the bat much like his other teammates, but his work behind the stumps has been equally disappointing that has hurt him even more. With the bat, the 31-year-old averages only 19.20 this series across the three Tests. In Adelaide, though he did show some character to try and save the game, playing more than 200 deliveries for his 25 and getting out hit wicket, unfortunately. "It's a very lonely place dropping a catch. It's one of the worst feelings in cricket, letting down your mates. It doesn't just hurt you, it hurts the whole team. You've certainly got to be able to be very strong with your character to try to come through that. Especially when you're wicketkeeping, there's nowhere to hide,” said Buttler. But even after the poor showing, the Lancashire man is determined to play the longer format and called it motivating enough to keep trying to put in better performances. "It's certainly my ambition. I don't think I'd have put as much into it as I have done if it wasn't. I have fantastic family support - they're very supportive of me and my career and make a lot of sacrifices for that. That's one thing that gives you a lot of motivation and drive to try to make it all worth it,” he said. The fourth Test between Australia and England will begin from January 05 at the SCG.