Cricket-Australia coach Langer backs board cuts despite losing Hick

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia head coach Justin Langer has defended the board’s decision to lay off staff despite losing batting coach Graeme Hick from his coaching team. Cricket Australia announced on Wednesday 40 redundancies across the organisation as part of restructuring measures to cut costs and shore up finances hit by the coronavirus shutdown. Langer said it was tough breaking the news to former England batsman Hick, who had been with the Australia team since 2016. “Having to tell Graeme Hick yesterday morning was like facing (Curtly) Ambrose and (Courtney) Walsh without a helmet and a box on,” Langer told reporters in Perth on Wednesday, referring to the fearsome West Indies pace duo. “He’s become a really good mate, his work ethic is second to none, his experience as a cricket person and his integrity, you couldn’t meet a nicer person. “We’re going to have to lead a smaller staff but we’ll get the job done and we’ll be ready when cricket resumes. “(The players) have been supported brilliantly for a long time and there’s no reason they won’t be able to be supported equally as well.” The redundancies were confirmed a day after CA announced Kevin Roberts had resigned as chief executive with immediate effect following months of criticism over his leadership during the shutdown. Roberts departed after failing to secure agreement from member states to have their grants cut and after riling the players’ union with a gloomy forecast for revenue that underpins player salaries. Former test opener Langer urged the board and the players union to thrash out their differences behind “closed doors”. “If we’re all going in the same direction it’s really powerful, if we’re not it’s disastrous and it’s a big lesson I’ve learned about leadership a long time,” he said. “Let’s just hope we bring it all together.”

Cricket-PCB chief expects 2020 T20 World Cup to be postponed

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani has said the logistical challenge of keeping 16 teams in a bio-secure bubble to limit the risk of COVID-19 makes staging the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia this year “impossible”. The governing International Cricket Council (ICC) is exploring contingency plans but has deferred a decision on the tournament until July. While Australia has slowed novel coronavirus infections to a trickle, Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings said on Tuesday any expectations that the tournament would go ahead as planned in October-November were “unrealistic”. Mani, an ICC board member, said in a virtual media briefing on Wednesday that the Australian government was still being “very cautious” about the COVID-19 risk. “If it is played this year they will likely insist it happens in a bio-bubble,” he said. “This is okay for one or two teams but when 12-16 teams play in a T20 tournament, it becomes an impossible thing. I don’t think it is feasible today that there is any ICC event in 2020.” Mani expected the tournament to be rescheduled to 2021, with the edition scheduled for next year in India moved to 2022. “ICC events were supposed to happen in 2020, 2021 and 2023. The gap in the middle can be filled and this will be deferred,” he said. “That is where the talk is headed towards. What event will happen first and where, those talks are happening.” The Indian board has said it was premature to talk about the possible rescheduling of the 2021 edition.

Cricket-ECB to release 35.7 million pounds to help counties, clubs hit by COVID

June 17 (Reuters) – The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Wednesday approved an additional financial package of 35.7 million pounds ($44.71 million) to support the professional and recreational game which have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cricket has been suspended since March and the ECB had initially announced a 61 million-pound aid package to help the game withstand the financial impact of the shutdown which has delayed the start of the English season. The ECB said 30.2 million pounds would be made available to First-Class Counties (FCCs) and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in August while 5.5 million pounds will go to County Cricket Boards (CCBs) for the recreational game. The funds were due to be paid to counties for the inaugural season of The Hundred competition, which was pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak. “It is the ECB’s responsibility to protect the whole game’s future during the financial uncertainty we face as a sport,” ECB CEO Tom Harrison said in a statement. “It remains our priority to get cricket started again this summer… and we will continue to work with government to try and do in a way that keeps people safe but that limits the ongoing impact of this crisis on our game.” England are scheduled to play West Indies in a three-test series from July 8 with all matches to be held behind closed doors.

Cricket-Moeen named in England training group for West Indies tests

(Reuters) – England all-rounder Moeen Ali has been included in a 30-member group that will begin training at the Ageas Bowl from June 23 ahead of their first test against the West Indies on July 8, the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Wednesday. Moeen, 32, had announced a break from test cricket in September last year after losing out on a central contract for the longest format for the 2019-20 season. He played the last of his 60 tests in last year’s Ashes series opener against Australia. The training group, which includes eight uncapped players, will take part in a three-day practice match on July 1 after which a squad will be named for the first test, the ECB said in a statement here “Everyone involved with England is delighted that cricket is returning soon, and that the players are reporting for group training,” National Selector Ed Smith said. The first test is scheduled to take place at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton from July 8, with the last two matches to be held at Old Trafford in Manchester. All three matches will be played without fans present.

Cricket-Jones finally handed England cap, 50 years after sole appearance

LONDON (Reuters) – It was a long wait but former Glamorgan batsman Alan Jones has finally got his hands on an England cap, 50 years to the day after his sole appearance. Jones, now 81, appeared for England against the Rest of the World XI in 1970, but the fixture’s status as an official test match was subsequently downgraded by the International Cricket Council (ICC). However, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have decided to award cap number 696 — the next available number, following Zak Crawley’s debut in November 2019. A virtual ceremony was held on Wednesday featuring ECB chairman Colin Graves, current England skipper Joe Root and former England captain Tony Lewis, Jones’s county team mate. “Alan’s achievements on and off the cricket field are something to be celebrated, so I’m delighted that we can mark the 50th anniversary of his England appearance in this way,” Graves said in a statement. “While the record books may not show Alan as a capped international cricketer, the ECB wanted to recognise his England appearance and celebrate his remarkable career as a player, coach and administrator by awarding him England cap number 696.” Many will say its well-deserved. Jones scored 36,049 runs in first class cricket, the most by a player not to play an official test match. He was part of Glamorgan’s title-winning side of 1969 and was named among Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Year in 1978. “I am very grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen,” Jones said. “I never expected it now because 50 years is a long time. Being England’s number 696 will stay with me for ever now.” While a proud moment for Jones, he might not look back on his performance too fondly. He was dismissed for five and nought by South Africa seamer Mike Procter, both times caught behind by India wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer. Root said Jones was now part of a “very special family”. “I hope it’s not too long before we can welcome Alan to an England match to congratulate him in person,” he said.

Cricket-Scotland call off T20 international v Australia

LONDON (Reuters) – Scotland’s Twenty20 international against Australia scheduled for June 29 has been cancelled because ongoing restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Cricket Scotland said on Wednesday. “Whilst this is disappointing news for us all in Scotland, we have explored all potential options and concluded that it is no longer possible to play the men’s T20 international against Australia,” Gus Mackay, CEO of Cricket Scotland, said. A statement said that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) were in discussions with Cricket Australia regarding the rescheduling of Australia’s tour. However, there is no chance of Scotland’s T20 international being re-arranged for later in the summer due to “the costs and logistics” involved in staging a one-off fixture in a secure environment. The match was to have taken place at The Grange in Edinburgh.

Cricket-South Africa to trial unique three-team limited overs fixture

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Cricket South Africa will trial a new format that will see three teams compete in a single 36-over match as they look to re-start the game with the Solidarity Cup at SuperSport Park in Centurion on June 27. The fixture is a chance for the country’s leading players to get some game-time under their belts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but will also raise funds for charity. It will be played in an empty stadium and is a test for CSA’s protocols for a return to play for the domestic game, which could come as early as next month. Captains AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada will lead teams of eight players who will bat for a total of 12 overs, six per innings, during which time they will face both opponents in the field. At the fall of the seventh wicket, the last remaining batsman can carry on, but only score in even numbers, twos, four or a six. The team with the highest aggregate total at the end of the game will be declared the winner. “I know that the players are itching to get back into action, which is why we are so excited about the Solidarity Cup,” CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith said. “It’s a thrilling new format and a match that is working towards a greater good.” CSA has been given permission by the government to host matches under strict protocols and are hoping to welcome India for three Twenty20 internationals in late August. They also have a test and limited overs tour to the West Indies that was scheduled to start in late July, but will be staged on a new date.

Cricket-Don’t sweat the saliva ban, ball-maker offers towel solution

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – England’s premier ball manufacturer has some advice for bowlers worried about being unable to generate swing due to a ban on the use of saliva to shine the ball: “Carry a cotton towel.” Polishing one side with sweat and saliva has been used by fast bowlers to alter the aerodynamics of the ball but the International Cricket Council banned the use of saliva this month to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Bowlers are still free to use sweat but some pacers are worried about not generating enough swing. Dilip Jajodia, managing director of British Cricket Balls Ltd, which produces the Dukes balls used in test matches in England, says they need not worry. “The ball has to be right in the first place. Whether you apply saliva or perspiration or whatever, these are small things that help,” Jajodia told Reuters by telephone. “We have a proper ball with a hand-stitched seam. It’s designed to swing as long as you have the skill. “And now that ICC has confirmed that you can use perspiration, I don’t see any problem.” When a player vigorously rubs the Dukes ball against his clothes, it releases the wax in it to permeate through leather and shine the ball, said Jajodia. His advice for English and West Indian bowlers in their upcoming series is to carry a cotton towel like Barbadian great Malcolm Marshall. “The great Malcolm Marshall was always seen with a little cotton towel hanging from his waist. “And you see (England captain) Joe Root in a polyester shirt — polishing and polishing the ball. He’s wasting his time, it does not work. “You should polish it on a natural material like cotton. Just perspiration and cotton. “Carry a cotton towel, and you’d be fine.”

UPDATE 1-Cricket-Australia board cuts 40 staff in restructure

(Adds details, quotes, byline) By Ian Ransom MELBOURNE, June 17 (Reuters) – Cricket Australia will cut 40 staff and slash executive pay as part of restructuring efforts to shore up finances hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The cost-cutting measures, which also include the suspension of international tours for lower-tier and junior teams, will save the board up to A$40 million ($27.60 million) a year and “partly mitigate” the impact of COVID-19 on revenue, CA said on Wednesday. CA said in a statement it would ensure elite men’s and women’s teams were “appropriately and prudently resourced” but chairman Earl Eddings declined to clarify whether the nation’s high performance staff and programmes would be unaffected. “We’ve made cuts across the organisation but I wouldn’t want to personalise who’s going and who’s not,” Eddings told reporters on a video call. Men’s and women’s domestic competitions, including the Sheffield Shield and Big Bash Twenty20 league, will remain in their current formats but international tours for the second tier Australia A side and representative junior teams will be “paused” over the next 12 months. CA will also look to give member state associations “greater autonomy” over player development, though Eddings offered few details as to how the states would manage that after having laid off dozens of staff in recent months. The restructuring details come a day after the board announced Kevin Roberts had resigned as chief executive, after months of criticism over his handling of the virus shutdown. CA had already furloughed about 80% of its workforce and cut staff pay in April. CA has been under fire from the players union, which earlier this month rejected the board’s forecast of a 48% plunge in the 2020 revenue that underpins player payments. Eddings was “cautiously optimistic” those forecasts could be adjusted with an improved outlook for the domestic game amid low COVID-19 infection rates in Australia.