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T20 World Cup another opportunity to learn and move on, says Williamson

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 New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson is seeing the ICC T20 World Cup as a learning experience for his side, and the final against Australia here later on Sunday will be “another opportunity” for his team to gain some more knowledge and move on to the next goal.

The lessons learnt from the ‘Super 12’ defeat against Pakistan were implemented in the games against India in the league phase and England in the semifinals.

“It’s been important that we’ve tried to grow and learn throughout, and I think we’ve seen that a little bit (here), and (the final) is another opportunity for that,” Williamson said during the post-match press conference ahead of the final.

With big days of cricket becoming commonplace for Williamson and his side in recent years, the team — which reached the 2015 World Cup Final, 2016 T20 World Cup semifinal and 2019 World Cup Final — would be aiming to take lessons from those disappointments to overcome their Trans-Tasman rivals on later on Sunday.

Earlier this year, they lifted the ICC World Test Championship trophy defeating India and would now like to add a white-ball trophy. The semifinal against England gave enough indication that the Black Caps can go the distance here.

“Our semifinal was an amazing game of cricket against a very strong side. We sort of managed to take the game deep, and there were a couple of outstanding contributions at the end that got us across the line from Daryl Mitchell and Jimmy Neesham which is fantastic,” said Williamson.

But their opponents in the final aren’t short of players capable of providing moments of brilliance of their own. Matthew Wade provided a reminder of that with his six-hitting feats to see Australia past Pakistan in their semifinal, while Adam Zampa continued his remarkable tournament, picking up his 12th dismissal to make him the highest wicket-taker from any side to have joined at the ‘Super 12’ stage.

“Zampa is a world-class bowler, one of the top in the world and complimented nicely by obviously some of the top seamers in the world,” Williamson said.

“As a side they have got a lot of match-winners, and you know, I think that’s a large part of the strength in their team throughout. They have got world-class cricketers.”

In their bid for a maiden World T20 title, the Kiwis have suffered an injury blow with wicketkeeper-batter Devon Conway being ruled out of the final with a fractured hand, a freak injury that he picked up by striking his bat in frustration when dismissed against England.

“Obviously the loss of Devon is a big one. You know, he’s been a big part of all formats for us, and you know, it’s a disappointing and really freak thing to happen. But for us it’s about keeping our focus on the task, and all the players are really excited with the opportunity to go out (in the final), and like I say, try to improve and adjust to what will be new, which is a different opposition and a different venue,” added Williamson.

A different opposition and a different venue will yield a different T20 World Cup champion, with neither of these sides yet to lift an ICC 20-over trophy in their history.

International

England beat Germany after extra time to win UEFA women’s Euro

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England beat Germany 2-1 after extra time in a packed Wembley Stadium in London, bringing home the trophy of the UEFA women’s Euro for the first time.

Germany suffered a heavy blow minutes ahead of the final on Sunday evening as their captain Alex Popp had to pull out after picking up an injury during the warm-up.

The 31-year-old forward had scored in all five previous matches in this tournament and scored twice in Germany’s 2-1 win against France in Wednesday’s semifinal, reports Xinhua. England, reaching the Euro’s final for the third time, couldn’t break the deadlock until Ella Toone came off the bench to score the opener in the 62nd minute.

But midfielder Lina Magull helped Germany equalise in the 79th minute.

The 1-1 scoreline was held until the 110th minute while substitute Chloe Kelly prodded in her first goal for the England team.

“What we’ve done is incredible. I knew we had England behind us- we saw that coming to the stadium,” said England head coach Sarina Wiegman in front of 87,192 fans in Wembley.

“But the whole tournament we’ve had so much support from our fans. I’m so proud of the team.”

The 52-year-old Dutchwoman, who also guided the Netherlands to win the women’s Euro trophy in 2017, is the first coach to lead two different teams to the title.

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Pakistan Cricket Board wants ICC to form strategy on growth of franchise T20 leagues

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Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Saturday that it has asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) to form a strategy on controlling the growth of lucrative franchise T20 leagues with rising concerns about its impact on the international cricket calendar.

Earlier this week, South Africa pulled out of a three-match bilateral ODI against Australia in January as it clashes with their new domestic T20 competition, the third time they will be attempting to have a successful franchise T20 League.

The next cycle of the Future Tours Programme (FTP), for 2024-31, which shows the schedule of teams playing bilateral series against each other and at what venues, is set to be confirmed in the upcoming week during the annual conference of the ICC at Birmingham.

“Growth of franchise cricket is impacting the already crammed international cricket calendar. The PCB is concerned about this development and wants the ICC to formulate a strategy on this issue,” said PCB Chief Executive Faisal Hasnain in a statement.

“We have sent a proposal to the ICC, which they have added to their meeting agenda. Two other boards have also conveyed their apprehensions to the ICC on this matter and urged the ICC to create a working group to debate on the expansion of franchise-based T20 leagues,” added Hasnain.

Talking about the confirmation of the FTP, in the context of Pakistan recently starting to host international cricket at home, Hasnain remarked, “Finalising the Future Tours Programme (FTP) is very important for us.

“This will give us certainty about which teams will be visiting us and which countries we will be touring. 80 per cent of the FTP has already been agreed upon and the remaining 20 per cent will be completed in the upcoming meeting.”

The upcoming ICC Annual Conference in Birmingham also marks the first time the meeting will happen after a Covid-19 pandemic caused a stoppage. “The annual conference presents a unique opportunity for networking with representatives of the world cricket.

“We are planning several initiatives that involve fellow members and meetings have already been set up on the sidelines with other boards to collectively enhance our common interest,” concluded Hasnain.

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T20 World Cup could be a swansong for several Australian cricketers, indicates Finch

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Australia white-ball skipper Aaron Finch has no doubt in his mind that he will be leading an “ageing side” in the ICC T20 World Cup at home later this year, and indicated that the tournament could be a swansong for several cricketers, especially batters.

As Australia prepare to defend the title they won in the UAE in 2021, Finch added that lifting the trophy in front of a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground in November would be a dream come true for him.

“It might be a full stop on everything (several players retiring from T20Is, including him) if it goes to plan like that. Fairy tales can happen in sport,” Finch, 35, was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au during the 100-day countdown celebration to the mega event on Friday.

While Finch has indicated that this could be the last T20 World Cup for him, it could also be opener David Warner and wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade’s last mega T20 event, given that both are in their mid-30s.

Wade has already said the 2022 T20 World Cup will be his international swansong, while Warner has also indicated that he might retire from T20Is to prolong his Test and ODI career. Finch will also probably turn his attention to the 50-over World Cup in India in 2023 to finally call it a day from international cricket.

Asked about his white-ball future post the T20 World Cup, Finch said, “Good question… It obviously shifts to a 50-over World Cup focus… after the (T20) World Cup, so I don’t think there’s too many T20 games in the next 12 months (after the World Cup) anyway. So I don’t know.

“I think just naturally when guys get to their mid-30s, it’s going to be that way. Davey (Warner) just keeps going; he could play for another 10 years, I think, with how fit he is and how much he loves the competition and continuing to challenge himself.

“(Matthew) Wadey has gone through a few phases (and) he’s now become so important to the structure of our team, batting at seven there and being so dynamic. But it’s an ageing side, isn’t it? Especially in that batting group,” said Finch.

Finch added that the World Cup in Australia would be “incredibly tough” after what he saw in the UAE last year where South Africa, in spite of winning four out of their five games, missed out on net run rate.

“Iit’s going to be an incredibly tough competition. We saw how brutal the format is with South Africa winning four out of their five games at the last World Cup and still not qualifying on net run rate. It’s just so brutal that you do need a bit of luck along the way. So let’s see.”

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