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The Weekly - December 25th

Last updated on 25 Dec 2023 | 03:18 PM
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The Weekly - December 25th

From the IPL Auction to Usman Khawaja's fight for peace, here's everything that happened in the world of cricket this week

Hello everyone! 

What a week it was in cricket! From Mitchell Starc getting more money than anyone in IPL Auction history to the Indian women defeating Australia for the first time in a Women’s Test, it’s been seven days choked with on and off-field cricketing drama. 

Last week, my colleague and the OG of newsletter, Anirudh Suresh, did a fabulous job taking you through last week’s events. This week, it’s me, Gaurav Nandan Tripathi. As I am writing this newsletter for you on Christmas day, my friend just reminded me of a silver lining: I get to cover cricket for work 😅 So here I am, bringing you a zesty recap of everything that happened last week on a holiday. 

Let’s begin with the biggest cricketing event of the week - The IPL Auction! 

Raining money at IPL Auction 

God (if you are there), please make me an Australian fast bowler next time. I want to be rich within seconds because that’s what happened with Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, as they were sold for record figures of 24.75 and 20.50 crores, respectively. 

Along with the big overseas names, uncapped Indian players like Robin Minz, Kumar Kushagra, Sameer Rizvi, and Shubham Dubey also grabbed a lot of attention as franchises emptied a significant chunk of their remaining coffers for them. Meanwhile, Daryl Mitchell, Harshal Patel, and Alzarri Joseph were the others who got more than ten crore! 

At, we covered the auction extensively. You can check out our articles about the lesser-known players who made big in the IPL.

Robin Minz becomes first tribal player in IPL

Nuwan Thushara, the Malinga regen purchased by Mumbai Indians for 4.8 crore

Aravelly Avanish Rao, CSK's latest swashbuckling wicket-keeper batter

Kumar Kushagra, Delhi Capitals' swashbuckling batter

LSG's Arshin Kulkarni, the all-round sensation tipped to be the next big thing

Who is Shubham Dubey, the batter who got purchased for 5.80 crore by RR?

Can Sameer Rizvi be CSK's right-handed Raina?

What’s happening on the field? 

> After defeating the England women in a women’s Test just last week, the Indian women also defeated Australia this week by eight wickets. 

Allrounders Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, along with Jemimah Rodrigues, Smriti Mandhana, and Player of the Match Sneh Rana, were the top performers for the Indian side, which looks to be on the right track. 

> The Indian men defeated South Africa 2-1 in the recently completed ODI series. The series was 1-1 after the Proteas returned with a strong win in Gqeberha, but the Indians bounced back in the third ODI in Paarl. 

Sanju Samson scored a century and was adjudged the Player of the Match. Arshdeep Singh was selected as the Player of the Series for picking up ten wickets in three matches, including a stellar five-wicket haul in the first game. 

> South African Women defeated Bangladesh in the three ODI series. Nigar Sultana’s women had won the first ODI by 119 runs, with Murshida Khatun scoring 91. 

However, the Proteas Women bounced back to level the series 1-1 and won the last game on the back of centuries from skipper Laura Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits. 

> The West Indies Men have won their third T20I series under Rovman Powell’s captaincy after defeating the defending T20 World Champions England 3-2 in the five-game T20I series. England’s Phil Salt was the top performer in the series, scoring back-to-back hundreds. 

> New Zealand men have defeated Bangladesh in the three ODI series 2-1. Will Young was adjudged the Player of the Series for his stellar run with the bat. Soumya Sarkar and Shoriful Islam were top performers for Bangladesh in the series. 

> Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers are currently at the top two spots in the points table of the ongoing Big Bash League. Colin Munro is the current leading scorer, and Jason Behrendorff is the top wicket-taker. 

What’s happening off the field 

> Dean Elgar has announced his retirement from Test cricket. The series against India, starting on Boxing Day, will be his last international series. The 36-year-old will finish at 86 Tests if he plays both the Tests against India. 

> The Caribbean Premier League (CPL) franchise Jamaica Tallawahs will be replaced by an Antigua-based franchise, as the franchise was proving unsustainable. 

Notably, this is seen as a big step back for cricket in Jamaica, as the island nation is not hosting any games in the T20 World Cup scheduled in the Caribbean and the USA next year. 

> Yasir Arafat has been appointed Pakistan's high-performance coach after Simon Helmot, the current holder, expressed his inability to continue in the position. He will join the team for the five-match T20I series in New Zealand. 

> Kieron Pollard has been appointed as England’s assistant coach for the Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 in the West Indies and the United States of America.  It is understood that Pollard’s services have been sought by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to provide them with input on local conditions. 

> Dave Houghton has resigned as the Head Coach of the Zimbabwe men’s side after the African nation failed to qualify for the 2024 T20 World Cup. 

> The India women’s squads for the Australia ODIs and T20Is have been announced. Saika Ishaque, Shreyanka Patil, Mannat Kashyap and Titas Sadhu have received their maiden ODI call-ups. 

ODI Squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Richa Ghosh (wk), Amanjot Kaur, Shreyanka Patil, Mannat Kashyap, Saika Ishaque, Renuka Singh Thakur, Titas Sadhu, Pooja Vastrakar, Sneh Rana, Harleen Deol 

T20I Squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Richa Ghosh (wk), Amanjot Kaur, Shreyanka Patil, Mannat Kashyap, Saika Ishaque, Renuka Singh Thakur, Titas Sadhu, Pooja Vastrakar, Kanika Ahuja, Minnu Mani

The three-match ODI series begins December 28 at the Wankhede, meanwhile, the WT20I series is scheduled to start from January 5 at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. 

> Nauman Ali has been ruled out of the Australia-Pakistan Test series after undergoing surgery for appendicitis. Mohammad Nawaz has replaced him. 

Meanwhile, Sajid Khan, who was called in to replace the injured Abrar Ahmed (who’s out of the Boxing Day Test), will be playing the MCG Test. Earlier, Khurram Shahzad was ruled out of the series with a stress fracture in his ribs. 

In the Spotlight 

Pooja Vastrakar

This fast bowling allrounder from Madhya Pradesh has made herself indispensable for India across formats with her performances, establishing her status as the allrounder supreme. 

In the Test against Australia, she picked up five wickets, with four coming in the first innings. Her dismissal of Ellyse Perry in the first innings was one to remember from that four-fer, as the Australian legend’s stumps were cleaned up by a ball that jagged back in sharply. 

Additionally, Vastrakar scored 47 off 126 balls at a crucial time for India and batted out an entire session with her fellow all-rounder Deepti Sharma, ensuring India got a big first-innings lead. 

Playing red ball cricket has improved her as a player drastically. With the T20 World Cup coming in a few months, captain Harmanpreet Kaur and coach Amol Muzumdar would be quite pleased with her development. 

Soumya Sarkar

If ever there was a title for the “Comeback Man of Bangladesh Cricket”, please give it to Soumya Sarkar. The allrounder is 30 but has played international cricket for nine years, getting in and out of the national side. 

This time, in the second ODI against New Zealand, he batted Bangladesh out of a quagmire (80/4) and scored 169 runs off 151 balls, allowing his team to post 291. Although the Kiwis easily chased it down with only three wickets down, Sarkar’s grit and confidence shone through like a light at the end of a dark tunnel. 

International cricket isn’t over for Soumya Sarkar. His second innings has begun on a good note. 

Phil Salt

You have to really notch up a special performance to get the Player of the Series award despite being on the losing side. 

Phil Salt did that with back-to-back centuries against the West Indies. He might not have attracted a bid by any team in the IPL Auction, but he scored 109 (56) and 119(57) in the third and fourth T20I against the Windies, allowing England to force a decider. 

England might not have won the series, but they have a consistent and belligerent T20 batter in Salt. Considering that those two qualities hardly ever coincide, don’t be surprised if Salt is the seasoning used in everything the English dish out leading to the World Cup. 

Controversy of the Week 

Usman Khawaja fights the ICC for “peace”

The ICC, after charging Usman Khawaja for breaching Clause F of the Clothing and Equipment Regulations after wearing a black armband during the first Test against Pakistan, has also denied his latest attempt to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by rejecting his application to display the image of a dove and an olive branch on his bat and shoes. 

The ICC advised him to use alternate platforms outside of the field of play to promote his ideas on human rights and peace. 

This has led to much uproar against the ICC, which is being blamed for being hypocritical as players have used all sorts of things on their equipment in the past without the ICC’s approval and have never been reprimanded. 

“I respect the ICC and the rules and regulations they have. I will ask that they make it fair and equitable for everyone and show consistency in officiating. That consistency hasn’t been done yet. I was very open and honest with that. I’ll deal with that with the ICC.” Khawaja said at the MCG on Friday. 

Tom Curran’s wild run 

Tom Curran was suspended by Cricket Australia (CA) for four Big Bash League matches after being charged and found guilty of Umpire Intimidation, which is a Level 3 offence under CA’s Code of Conduct. 

The incident occurred before Sydney Sixer’s (the franchise which Curran plays for) match against Hobart Hurricanes on December 11, where he completed a practice run-up and ran on part during the warm-up game before being verbally instructed by the umpire not to do so again. 

The umpire gestured to Curran to move away from the pitch, but Curran attempted to perform a practice run up and ran straight toward the umpire, who had to step to his right to avoid collision. 

Curran recently released a statement where he “deeply regrets” how he reacted towards the umpire and stated that he never intended to run towards him. He appealed to get his punishment reduced, but the BBL dismissed his appeal and upheld his four-game ban. 

Picture of the Week

Healy collecting mementos 👀

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