Australia’s combination a mystery for Sydney


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Ashton Agar had made 98 at No. 11 on Test debut © Getty Images

Spinners Ashton Agar and Steve O’Keefe have joined Australia’s squad for the third Test in Sydney, but the final make-up of the XI remains a mystery three days out from the match. The one certainty is that Australia will use their fourth No.6 of the Test summer, with Mitchell Marsh, Callum Ferguson and Nic Maddinson all having been dropped after struggling in the position. Continue reading

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Abbott five-for in vain as Strikers win big


Big Bash League - Strikers v Sixers

Sean Abbott finished 2016 with a five-for but failed to finished the year with a win © Getty Images

Despite the best efforts of Sean Abbott – who avenged his mauling by Travis Head here last New Year – the Adelaide Strikers saw in 2017 in style by comfortably defending their modest total of 152 with an outstanding bowling display that gave them their first win of the Big Bash League in a match that was attended by 45,741 fans. Continue reading

PCB set to take legal action against BCCI


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India and Pakistan have met only in ICC tournaments and other multi-team competitions since 2012-13 © Associated Press

The PCB has decided to take legal action against the BCCI for not agreeing to play two of Pakistan’s home series and not fulfilling the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) they had signed in 2014. The PCB will seek compensation from the Indian board and also confirmed that Pakistan would not tour India next year as scheduled in the FTP because the cycle of bilateral fixtures had to start with Pakistan as hosts. Continue reading

Williamson, Broom secure New Zealand’s 3-0 sweep


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Kane Williamson and Neil Broom put on a 179-run stand to deflate Bangladesh © Getty Images

Ninety-somethings from Kane Williamson and Neil Broom ensured New Zealand whitewashed Bangladesh with a crushing eight-wicket victory in the third ODI in Nelson. Their fluent 179-run stand, which came after Martill Guptill had retired hurt on 6 because of a hamstring strain, helped the hosts ace their chase of 237 with 52 balls to spare. Continue reading

Pakistan in Australia 2016-17December 30, 2016 Australia call up O’Keefe and Agar


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Coverdale: Cartwright, Agar could contest allrounder slot

Australia have dropped Nic Maddinson for next week’s Sydney Test, while left-arm spinners Steve O’Keefe and Ashton Agar have been included in a 13-man squad.

Agar, the wunderkind of the 2013 Ashes tour, merited a place on the strength of 16 well-priced Sheffield Shield wickets in the first half of the season, including 10 against New South Wales at the SCG. O’Keefe has been the favoured left-arm option for some time, but must now prove his ability to stay fit for the lengths of time required following a string of calf issues.

“We wanted a left-armer to go away from all their right-handers as well to give us options,” Australia’s coach Darren Lehmann said of Agar. “He got 10 in Sydney [Sheffield Shield game]. He has improved, we get feedback from JL [Justin Langer] and the guys have been watching him, they’ve been impressed with him. The hardest thing we’ve got at the moment is no Shield cricket, so you go with a bit of BBL form as well. So they’re not bowling as much as we’d like, but before that he was doing really well.

Australia squad for Sydney
David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (capt), Peter Handscomb, Hilton Cartwright, Ashton Agar, Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Starc, Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird

In: Steve O’Keefe, Ashton Agar

Out: Nic Maddinson, Chadd Sayers

 

“[O’Keefe’s] got to be fit and he’s playing now, so that’s the main thing. He wouldn’t want too many more injuries, he’d want to make sure he’s playing cricket. That’s the greatest thing we have now, young players coming through that are fit and ready to go. He did a really good job in Sri Lanka for us before he got injured. He knows he has got to be fit and ready to play each and every game.”

Lehmann spoke warmly of Nathan Lyon following his strong display on the final day of the MCG Test, particularly the greater consistency shown by Australia’s most prolific offspin bowler. “I thought he was outstanding,” Lehmann said. “He bowled consistent line and length, which was up and down in the previous few Test matches, and he got through the middle order, so pleased for him.

“I was just pleased the way he bowled today, more so than fourth innings winning the game, bowling that consistent line and length we’ve been after all summer. Three or four balls an over had been there, but today was a lot better.”

Allrounder Hilton Cartwright has been retained in the squad, but there was no room for swing bowler Chadd Sayers, who had been part of the squad for the first two Tests against Pakistan. Lehmann said that Cartwright and Agar would both be under consideration in an all-round role.

“If you play two spinners you normally need an allrounder, so that’s what we’re looking at,” he said. “Agar’s a genuine [allrounder], yeah. He has made Shield hundreds, and batted well in that Test match at 11, and has certainly got the talent to be a batting allrounder or a spinning allrounder, either way.”

Maddinson was axed after struggling for impact in the first three Tests of his career, with scores of 0, 1, 4 and 22 in his four Test innings so far. “He has still got a bright future,” Lehmann said. “I thought he batted really well this game, he would’ve liked a bigger score. I thought he played well, got a start and could have gone on big and put pressure on the selectors.”

Rather than recalling Shaun Marsh, Lehmann said the selectors had chosen to keep him playing T20 matches while retaining the services of the young Queensland opening batsman Matt Renshaw. “We decided to keep [Marsh] playing BBL,” Lehmann said. “Matt has done a reasonable job for us in the Test matches, so we’re going to go with that same opening combination for the last one.”