Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who coached Delhi Capitals to the final of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) a fortnight ago, is busy giving throwdowns to Steve Smith as, unlike the Indian team, there is no throwdown specialist within the Australian team.
“That is where we have to help each other. I had been a batting coach 10 years ago, for 2-3 years then, it is a really tough job. Sadly, in these times, we don’t have Graeme Hick with us. In the past we had Michael di Venuto with the team (both to help batting). It (helping the batsmen) is a big role. I know Ricky Ponting, his arms have fallen off from throwing to Steve Smith over the last 10 days or so,” Australia head coach Justin Langer, who is taking care of the players who had not been to the IPL and are training at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) ahead of the all-format series against India, said on Wednesday.
Those returning from IPL, like Smith, David Warner and Ponting, are lodged at Sydney Olympic Park and training separately.
“I always had a joke with Punter (Ponting) over the last few months, how it is to throw to Steve Smith. Our boys love to hit balls, they only get better. That is part of our job. We have to keep preparing our boys as best as possible and we have to do that, whether it is through throwdown specialists. Time will tell. (But) we have got a pretty good system,” added Langer.
Unlike the Australian team, the entire Indian team in Sydney is located at one place, the Sydney Olympic Park. They stay in touch with each other during practice. The two Aussie groups will assemble only on the day of the match.
“We are working hard. Warner, Smith, Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) are facing (Pat) Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Dan Sams and Andrew Tye. At the SCG, against (Michael) Starc, Michael Nesser, Sean Abbott are helping the players who are here (not been to IPL). The Australia A bowlers are also keeping their loads up at SCG. The boys will be ready,” said Langer.
The Australia head coach further said that despite their top bowlers having played a bit of cricket in recent times, they are looking to field them in all the Test matches and not thinking of resting them.
“I say that with great respect to others, I hope not (that Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood don’t play and rest) because our bowlers, those three guys, if they are fit and healthy and firing, they will play all Tests. That is how it is going to be. About the old saying that it is harder to get out of the team than it is to get into team I said two years back when I got the job. That’s what we want,” Langer said.
“It is great to see competition building in domestic cricket. We are going to hope we are bowling well, they are fit and healthy – we have three first peak bowlers. But who knows (if something happens to them). Through these last 8-9 months of Covid, we have had to be agile and take on challenges. Guys we have brought in now (as back-ups) are (also) good, seasoned cricketers,” he added.
India and Australia will begin the much-anticipated clash with the three-match ODI series starting Friday.
This is the peak of my career, says Alex Hales after England snub
England opener Alex Hales, who set the Big Bash League on fire on Friday with a 56-ball 110 for Sydney Thunder against Sydney Sixers, said that the England team management hasn’t got back to him as yet.
Hales, who is the leading run-getter in the Big Bash League 2020-21, with 462 runs in 12 innings at an average of 38.5, has not played for England since March 2019.
Hales’s effort on Friday came a day after the England selector Ed Smith said that the opening batsman may not come back to the national side in near future.
“No, nothing at all – nothing from that end (English selectors). At the moment, I’m just enjoying my cricket and I’m going to keep trying to score as many runs as I can, enjoying myself, and see what happens,” Hales was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.com.
“Obviously that’s the peak of cricket, playing for your country. At the moment, I’m just going to focus on the process of scoring runs and enjoying my cricket, and if that’s the end result then brilliant,” he added.
“This is definitely the best I’ve played, I feel like it’s in the peak of my career. I’m 32 now and I feel like I know my game really well, and I’m just going to keep looking to impress whenever I get a chance. Particularly in T20 cricket, the older you get the more you understand what your strengths are,” Hales said.
England selector Smith had earlier said, “At the moment, I would expect things to stay as they are there. No doors are closed in terms of there’s no final decision. It’s not that it’s going to be the same indefinitely. But at the moment, if I had to make a prediction, I would say we’d stay as we are.”
England are due to play five T20 Internationals and three ODIs against India in India in March.
Rishabh Pant should replace Iyer or Samson in India ODI, T20I squads: Brad Hogg
Former Australia all-rounder Brad Hogg has called on the Indian selectors to include Rishabh Pant in India’s limited-overs squads saying that the batsman’s ability to play unconventional shots makes him difficult to bowl to.
“I would be putting him there right now because he has got the confidence and the belief. He has proven himself with two match-winning knocks in this Test series. You can’t get better than that playing for India on Australian soil. I would put him in place of Iyer. Keep your all-round options there for batting and bowling depth. He will be there for either Iyer or Sanju Samson,” said Hogg on his Youtube channel.
“He is hard to bowl to because he plays a variety of shots that are different to any other batsman. Get him in there,” added Hogg.
Pant scored 97 on the fifth day of the Sydney Test, helping India escape with a draw. He then made an unbeaten 89 on the fifth day of the Brisbane Test to help India win the match by three wickets and seal the series.
The former Chinaman bowler and left-handed batsman, however, backed Virat Kohli to continue as India skipper saying that any change in captaincy at the moment can affect India’s balance.
He said that removing Kohli from captaincy can affect his batting.
“He (Virat Kohli) bats better when he is the captain. I think if you change it, it would destroy the culture of that Indian team. It might affect Kohli’s batting. He wouldn’t want it to happen, but it will happen,” Hogg said.
“Yes, Ajinkya Rahane has done a fantastic job in the last three Tests in Australia. He is cool, calm and collected. He is quite decisive, and he doesn’t get agitated. He is a fantastic leader. But I will leave him as vice-captain because I think Virat Kohli leads from the front,” added Hogg.
James Anderson picks 30th five-wicket haul, goes clear of McGrath
James Anderson picked his 30th five-wicket haul in Test cricket as he moved to sole sixth position among cricketers with most five-wicket hauls.
The right-arm England pace bowler, who was tied with Glenn McGrath in joint sixth position with 29 five-wicket hauls before this Test, removed Niroshan Dickwella for his fifth wicket in the Sri Lankan first innings during the second Test between the two teams at the Galle International Stadium.
He then got rid of Suranga Lakmal to get his sixth wicket of the innings.
Anderson had taken three of the four Sri Lankan wickets to fall on the first day.
He removed centurion Angelo Mathews early on second day, in just his first over of the morning. The former Sri Lanka captain edged one behind to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler.
Anderson is the fourth highest wicket-taker in Test cricket and the best among pace bowlers with 606 scalps. The 38-year-old pace bowler needs 14 more to get past leg-spinner Anil Kumble as the third highest wicket-taker in Test cricket.
Among pace bowlers, only Richard Hadlee has more five-wicket hauls (36) than Anderson in Test cricket.
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