Three men’s Test matches. A women’s ODI bilateral series. An Under-19 World Cup. Two big T20 leagues. A small one. Ranji Trophy. Women’s domestic inter zonal ODIs. An India A vs England Lions series.
And guess what?
All of this is happening at the same time!
Following so much cricket at the same time is hard. But the entire purpose of this newsletter is not to make it hard. Hence, week after week, we bring this zesty newsletter to you, covering everything that happened in the cricket world in the past week.
So why waste time? Let’s begin this newsletter and make catching up with all the cricket easy for you.
What’s happening ON the field?
Yashasvi Jaiswal was absolutely fabulous in the first innings, scoring 209 runs of sheer class and composure. Shubman Gill also scored a century (104) in the second innings after getting a start in the first innings. Zak Crawley scored 70s (76, 73) in both innings for England.
> After the first unofficial Test ended in a draw, India A defeated England Lions in two consecutive unofficial Tests in Ahmedabad.
Keaton Jennings of England was quite prolific in the three games, scoring 310 runs. Sai Sudarshan scored 117(240) balls in the third game, and Shams Mulani picked a five-wicket haul to win India the game.
Matthew Potts has been on fire with the ball for the England Lions, getting 20 wickets in three games.
> The ongoing two-Test series between New Zealand and South Africa has started positively for the Kiwis.
While skipper Kane Williamson scored 118 against a depleted South Africa squad in the first innings of the first Test, Rachin Ravindra made merry against the inexperienced bowling attack, scoring 240 runs on a good batting deck.
If you saw Ravindra during the ODI World Cup and thought his future would be great, stop thinking. The future is already here.
In other great news, the two-match Test series will be played for the Tangiwai Shield, the newly inaugurated trophy. The trophy will serve as a commemoration of the 1953 tragic Tangiwai train disaster, which saw 151 people lose their lives, including the fiance of former New Zealand pacer Bob Blair.
> Sri Lanka dominated Afghanistan comprehensively in the one-off test at Colombo, defeating them by 10 wickets. While left-arm spinner Prabhat Jayasuriya named the Player of the Match for picking 8 wickets in the game, veteran Angelo Mathews scored a delightful 141 (259). Ibrahim Zadran (114) was the lone centurion for Afghanistan.
Oh by the way, did you see the monitor lizard that stepped in the field of play and stopped the game?
> After drawing the two-Test series, Australia have come back in fine fashion in the white ball leg of the West Indies Tour of Australia. They have already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead after defeating the Windies by eight wickets and 83 runs in the first and the second ODI respectively.
Right-arm Aussie pacer Xavier Bartlett impressed everyone with a four-wicket haul on debut in the first ODI. Meanwhile, Sean Abbot first took Australia out of a rut in the second ODI with the bat (69 off 63) and then took 3/40 to win his side the game.
> The league stages of the SA20 league in South Africa are finally done and dusted.
No one would have expected that despite having the season's leading run-scorer in the side (Ryan Rickleton), MI Cape Town would occupy the last spot in the points table. Alas, destiny still arrived, and they finished with a wooden spoon shoved down their throat once again.
The first qualifier is scheduled for February 6 between table-toppers Durban Supergiants and Sunrisers Eastern Cape. The eliminator will be played between Paarl Royals and Joburg Super Kings, who finished third and fourth on the table respectively.
> Nicholas Pooran has lit up the ILT20 in the UAE with his fiery batting. The southpaw has already scored 261 runs for MI Emirates in eight innings and is the current leading run scorer in the league.
Meanwhile, his team has won six out of their eight games and are leading the points table with 12 points.
> India U19 have qualified for the semifinals for the U19 World Cup in South Africa undefeated. Skipper Uday Saharan (100 off 107) and Sachin Dhas (116 off 101) also made merry with a century against Nepal in their last Super Six game.
India will face South Africa in the tournament's first semifinal tomorrow (i.e February 6) and Australia and Pakistan will face each other in the second semifinal two days later.
India’s Musheer Khan is the tournament's leading run-scorer with 334 runs. Meanwhile, Kwena Maphaka leads the bowling charts with 18 scalps in five games. Pakistan’s pacer Ubaid Shah and India’s left-arm spinner Saumy Pandey follow him with 17 and 16 scalps, respectively.
> After a closely fought T20I series, South Africa were obliterated in the first ODI by the Australian women’s team at Adelaide. The Aussie bowlers, especially Alana King (3/19) and Kim Garth (2/18), proved too good for the Proteas batters. Only Marizanne Kapp could offer some resistance with a 50(58).
> Shafali Verma, playing for the North Zone, scored the fastest century in List A cricket by an Indian women, scoring 133* (64) playing against the Northeast Zone team in the ongoing Senior Women’s Interzonal One Day Trophy, 2024.
Meanwhile, Jemimah Rodrigues continued her good form to score 100 off just 86 balls against Central Zone.
Only three league games are left, Central Zone and West Zone are the current top two teams who are looking good to make the finals scheduled for February 9.
What’s happening OFF the field?
> Mayank Agarwal has reached Bengaluru safely after suffering a mid-flight medical emergency. Mayank was deboarded from the plane and rushed to a hospital in Agartala after he complained of irritation in his mouth and throat after consuming some liquid, which he thought was water that he consumed on the plane.
He was going to Surat via Delhi for Karnataka's Ranji Trophy game against Railways.
> Former Pakistan cricket captain and Prime Minister Imran Khan was sentenced Wednesday (January 31) to 14 years in jail on a graft charge, a day after he was given a 10-year prison term in verdicts handed down just a week before national elections.
Pakistan goes to the polls next Thursday in a ballot already marred by allegations of rigging, with Khan barred from running and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party subject to a massive crackdown.
> Jay Shah is set to continue as Asian Cricket Council (ACC) president. Shah, who is in the middle of the second year of his two-year term, will continue for another year and the same unanimously approved during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Bali on Wednesday (January 31).
In the same AGM, Japan and Indonesia were granted membership of the ACC.
> Following a stellar 2023, Mitchell Marsh has won the Allan Border Medal for the best Australian cricketer of the year for the first time at the Cricket Australia annual awards. The all-rounder also took home the ODI Player of the Year as well.
Meanwhile, Nathan Lyon, who did not find a place in the ICC Test team of the year, was named the Shane Warne Test cricketer of the year.
> England Women have announced the white-ball squad for their tour of New Zealand. The England players participating in the Women's Premier League (WPL) 2024 will feature in the back end of the T20 International (T20I) series.
England captain Heather Knight (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and pacer Lauren Bell (UP Warriorz) have already withdrawn from the WPL to be available for all the matches.
> Australian seamer Lauren Cheatle has been ruled out of the WPL after a medical procedure for skin cancer on her neck. Gujarat Giants signed her for this season’s WPL. The Giants haven’t announced a replacement for her yet.
> In an extraordinary gathering of cricket excellence, Edgbaston is set to host the highly anticipated World Championship of Legends (WCL) this summer.
The T20 tournament, which is set to feature luminaries like Yuvraj Singh, Shahid Afridi, and Kevin Pietersen, is approved by the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to showcase retired and non-contracted players from cricketing powerhouses – England, India, Pakistan, Australia, West Indies, and South Africa.
In the Spotlight
“He looked like he belonged”
That’s what Windies skipper Shai Hope said about Xavier Bartlett, Australia’s new pace bowling talent who came to the limelight after a stellar season in the BBL, where he picked up 20 wickets for Brisbane Heat in their victorious campaign.
Making his debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Bartlett ran through the top order of West Indies and picked up four wickets for just 17 runs. He isn’t express pace like Mitch Starc, but his consistency and the movement he derives from the air and the pitch reflect a great image of him as a pacer.
In a week where James Anderson and Jasprit Bumrah showcased their skills on a flat track in India, another new rising star has begun on a great note. Only onwards and upwards for Bartlett from here!
India have been playing Test cricket since 1932. Almost 92 years have passed since then, but never have India had a pace bowler like Jasprit Bumrah.
He can swing it at will, seam it at will, and reverse the ball both ways. Bumrah used all that and much more against England at Vizag, where he scythed through the English batting with his hyper-flexing bowling action.
His dismissal of Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes, where his genius completely undid the batters, have been doing big rounds on social media. It’s almost as if an entire nation has woken up to the fact that Bumrah isn’t a genius only overseas. Remarkably enough, he now averages an astonishing 13.06 in India.
Any questions about the fact he is India’s best-ever pacer in their history?
Neil Brand wouldn’t have thought he’d ever captain his nation’s Test team. But South Africa’s Test tour to New Zealand clashed with the SA20, where most of the key Test players of South Africa are currently playing, and as a result he was made the captain of a second-string side.
He picked up six wickets for 119 runs in the ongoing first Test. The Kiwis posted a huge total, but a Test fifer on debut doesn’t come every day, and when they come on a flat track like the one in Mount Maunganui, they deserve to be applauded that much more. With a performance like this, Brand is also pushing to be a regular in the Test setup.
Moreover, the last South African left-arm spinner to take a fifer on Test debut was Henry Promnitz in 1927. So yeah, a feat that was achieved after almost 97 years deserves the spotlight.
Controversy of the Week
This week, a new controversy over cricket rules erupted when England’s U-19 batter Hamza Sheikh was ruled out because he “handled the ball”.
In the Super Six game against Zimbabwe, Sheikh picked up the ball, which was absolutely stationary near his feet, after he failed to connect it. The Zimbabwean keeper appealed against him for handling the ball (the dismissal falls under ‘obstructing the field’), and the on-field umpire referred it to the third umpire, who gave it out.
This caused a lot of furore on social media, where people questioned the practicality of such dismissals. Even former pacer Stuart Broad expressed a strong opinion on it.
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