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Month: January 2020

Cricket’s most notorious Test: How it felt to play in the match fixed by Hansie Cronje

The Centurion Test of 2000 was a big game for me. I had done reasonably well on my first England tour but had not contributed that much by changing a match or making a hundred. It is a story of match fixing.

The weather in Pretoria was awful and we spent most of the week being told there would be no play. It had been a long, hard tour against a strong South African side. We were staying in Sandton in Johannesburg and commuting each day to Pretoria. 

We were told not to go to the ground because of the weather so quite a few of us had a good time enjoying the bars and long lunches on offer in Sandton. There was no play on days two, three and four so we spent the week on the beer.

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Cricket’s most notorious Test: How it felt to play in the match fixed by Hansie Cronje

Last day of match:

Then on that final day, we realized there was a chance of play. There were many talks going on about forfeiting innings and setting a target. As a junior member of the side I was not involved in any of those discussions but knew there was something unusual going on. 

We started the last day bowling and realised the pitch had flattened out. Hansie Cronje agreed to 245 in 75 overs but they hit a four off the last ball to make it 249. Still, we could chase down this target.

We lost early wickets and felt we could lose the game so started bedding in for a while. Then I remember they brought on Pieter Strydom, a part-time left-arm spinner. Hansie bowled himself and lobbed up a few outside off stump for me. The intensity had dropped. They wanted a result. 

I made 69 and we won the game with Goughie belting the winning runs. It was a great feeling. My first Test win. I had made a score and was named man of the match. It meant I ended the series believing I could perform at Test level and that I belonged in international cricket. It was a big step forward in my career.

England VS South Africa Tickets
Cricket’s most notorious Test: How it felt to play in the match fixed by Hansie Cronje

Match fixing:

I never suspected match fixing. Why would you as a young player? However, the one thing that struck me as strange was why that South Africa team had decided to give us a sniff. They were a hard bunch and very tough competitors. They were a bit like Australia in that regard, and yet they agreed to a deal. I remember thinking a few days later, that it was odd.

However, I was still stunned when it broke a few months later that Cronje was doing anything to get a result as part of his deal with a bookie.

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England makes surprise decision to recall Mark Wood ahead of Jofra Archer

England is set to make the shock decision to select Mark Wood over Jofra Archer in the team for the third Test against South Africa starting on Thursday.

England wants extra pace on the traditionally slow St George’s Park pitch, and while Archer has been showing something of his form of last summer in the nets, Wood has been replicating a human catapult in doing everything asked of him and more.

And that has propelled the Durham fast bowler, who turned 30 last week, ahead of Archer in the race to replace the injured James Anderson in the side.

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England makes surprise decision to recall Mark Wood ahead of Jofra Archer
England makes surprise decision to recall Mark Wood ahead of Jofra Archer

Jofra Archer:

The likely selection will be a blow to Archer, who has struggled this winter after an electrifying start to his England Test career in last summer’s Ashes.

The 24-year-old took two for 207 in two Tests against New Zealand, and although he took six wickets in the opening Test against South Africa at Centurion. They were expensive and also came at the cost of an injured right elbow, which ruled him out of the win in Cape Town.

Archer has now recovered but Wood’s extra pace when bowling at top speed he clocked 95 mph during the World Cup will counter that of Anrich Nortje, the fastest bowler in this series to date, whose home town is Port Elizabeth. 

Indeed, Steve Harmison the former Durham and England fast bowler who is Wood’s mentor and comes from the same village of Ashington, said Wood was “always penciled in to play the PE Test because of his reverse-swing” during a Q and A session with Telegraph readers during the second Test in Cape Town.

Wood has not played a competitive game since the World Cup final when he limped off after a hostile ten-over spell but has built up his speed and stamina in South Africa over the last month. England’s coaching staff is understood to have been highly impressed by Wood’s attitude, particularly in the last two net-sessions at St George’s Park.

England makes surprise decision to recall Mark Wood ahead of Jofra Archer
England makes surprise decision to recall Mark Wood ahead of Jofra Archer

Wood has therefore leapfrogged over Archer who played in the first Test at Centurion and took six expensive wickets, before injuring his right elbow. According to Paul Collingwood, England’s assistant coach, the management has tried to find Wood a game to play in on this tour but it has not been possible.

Collingwood:

“Ideally you’d love Woody to go out and get some competitive games in,” Collingwood said. “But I’ve got no qualms he could come in this week and be successful because of what he’s done in the past 36 wickets at 37 runs each in 13 Tests, what he can draw upon. He’s got the skills to go out there and make an impact.”

Chris Woakes is another pace bowler in contention for Anderson’s place and is the closest to a like-for-like replacement as an outswing bowler, but local conditions are working against him.

“The Windy City” is another name by which Port Elizabeth is known, and St George’s Park is exposed to the sea-breezes at the top of a hill only a mile from the Indian Ocean. As the wind blew when England practiced at the nets adjoining the ground yesterday afternoon, it would have favored Sam Curran’s inswinger from the pavilion end and Stuart Broad’s outswinger from what is known as the Duckpond end.

If these conditions applied in the Test, Woakes and Broad would be unsuited to opening the bowling together because both would want the same end. Curran, as a left-arm swing bowler, is suited to bowl opposite Broad with Wood as third seamer from either end.

England makes surprise decision to recall Mark Wood ahead of Jofra Archer
England makes surprise decision to recall Mark Wood ahead of Jofra Archer

When Ben Stokes bowled his knock-out final spell on the last afternoon at Cape Town, he also made the ball reverse-swing, so it makes sense for England to increase their fire-power in a department where they have so far surpassed South Africa.

Collingwood’s Thoughts:

Collingwood took what is becoming the England party line on Archer when a slow pitch is coming up, which happened in both Tests in New Zealand when Archer took two wickets. “He’s very early on in his international career. He hasn’t bowled a lot with the Kookaburra ball, which requires a completely different skill set to the Duke’s ball.

“His main skill is bowling 90-plus mph. We have enough bowlers in and around the county circuit who can bowl at 82 to 85 mph and try to nip it around. You want the likes of Wood and Archer to give you that x-factor, and that’s what we’re looking for. It’s important we train and have that attitude to make sure you’re ready and raring to go when it comes into a Test match.”

While there is a case for playing both Wood and Archer, to exploit the increasingly low bounce for which the ground is renowned, England appear to be thinking of retaining a spinner, probably Dom Bess if only because he has played more recently than Jack Leach, who has been so ill that his last game was the Mount Maunganui Test in mid-November.

England makes surprise decision to recall Mark Wood ahead of Jofra Archer
England makes surprise decision to recall Mark Wood ahead of Jofra Archer

“I think if you look at the data as you always do turning up at a ground, then spin tends to play a bit more of a part here than the other grounds,” Collingwood said. “But we’ll gauge it.” 

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Whisper it, but England may have found a top three worthy of the name

England owes county cricket a debt of thanks for the emergence of a top three that no one saw coming. Given the numerous false dawns of English openers in recent years, it would be unwise to get too carried away with Dom Sibley’s maiden Test hundred in England’s series-leveling win at Cape Town.

The post-Strauss back-catalog is littered with one-hit wonders that burnt brightly but briefly before being told to pack their bags and return to county cricket.

Nick Compton, Sam Robson, Adam Lyth, Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings each provide cautionary tales.

England cricket team is intended to tour South Africa from December 2019 to February 2020 to play 4 test matches, 3 one day games and 3 matches of Twenty20 International. Cricket fanatic can acquire South Africa Vs England Tickets online from our most assurance and dependable online ticketing marketing place.

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Whisper it, but England may have found a top three worthy of the name

Dom Sibley’s hundred:

As Sibley batted through eight hours in England’s second innings at Newlands, facing 311 deliveries on his way to becoming the first English opener to score a Test century at the ground since Jack Hobbs in 1910

James Anderson’s description of the Warwickshire right-hander as a “mirror image” of Alastair Cook started to feel a little less fanciful.

Speaking after his century, Sibley admitted that discussions in the media surrounding his unorthodox technique had affected the way he batted in New Zealand, where he scored 38 runs across three innings and led to him playing at deliveries he would usually have left alone.

“You’re never quite prepared for the spotlight you’re going to be under,” said the 24-year-old. “When you start playing for England, there are people writing about you and picking apart your technique and it’s tough to avoid. In New Zealand I probably put myself under a lot of pressure to get that big score. You want to prove to yourself you’re good enough for this level.”

England VS South Africa Tickets
Whisper it, but England may have found a top three worthy of the name

By scoring a hundred against an impressive South African attack and setting up a memorable victory, Sibley has proven to himself and his doubters that he is capable.

The turning tracks of Sri Lanka on England’s next tour will provide a different type of challenge but the composure and clarity of thought he showed at Cape Town gives reason for cautious optimism.

Joe Denly and Rory Burns:

While an ankle injury has ruled Rory Burns out of action for the next four months just as his Test career was gathering pace, there is now genuine hope that when he returns England will finally have an opening partnership with some staying power. Throw Joe Denly into the mix, and, whisper it, they may actually have a top three worthy of the name.

Denly’s average of 31.30 doesn’t leap off the page, and his failure to turn starts into big scores remains a concern. But he has now faced more than 100 balls in eight of his last 12 innings and looks increasingly comfortable at Test level.

England VS South Africa Tickets
Whisper it, but England may have found a top three worthy of the name

The value of that last statistic won’t be wasted on Root, Stokes, and Buttler, who thanks to Sibley and Denly got a rare opportunity to play some shots from a position of dominance in the second innings at Cape Town.

The knock-on effect of a solid top three cannot be overestimated with this England side. Think back to Matt Prior and the destruction he caused coming in at No.7, with 250-plus regularly on the board.

Jos Buttler recently admitted he is “not quite performing to the standards I need to” and one hundred from 38 Tests doesn’t come close to doing justice to his talent but how often has he been given the platform to play with the freedom so often afforded to Prior in those heady days.

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Malan’s powerful distinction between pressure and privilege

While Pieter Malan’s 288-ball, 369-minute knock of 84 came in a losing cause for the Proteas in the second Test against England at Newlands this week, it was one of the more impressive debuts you are likely to see.

Malan, at the age of 30 and with comfortably more than 10 000 first-class runs to his name, showed incredible application, concentration, and defensive resilience as he got his side agonizingly close to what would have been a famous draw.

Just as impressive as his on-field achievement, though, was how Malan handled himself in his post-match press conference, where he sat in front of a packed room of South African and English journalists.

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Malan's powerful distinction between pressure and privilege
Malan’s powerful distinction between pressure and privilege

Malan has waited a long, long time for this moment, having notched up nearly 150 first-class matches over the years, and finally, the world was taking note.

Faf on Pieter Malan:

His answers were inspiring in their honesty, while Malan provided a dose of perspective that is often forgotten when talking about playing sport at the highest level.

“Somebody asked me earlier about being out there and feeling pressure, but that does not pressure… that’s privilege,” he said, providing easily the quote of the series so far.

“Pressure is playing in a semi-professional game with nobody watching, fighting for your career.”

For Malan, it looked as if the opportunity to play international cricket had come and gone.

“Definitely,” he said, frankly, when asked if he thought this moment would never come.

“I probably thought that when I was way younger than I am now, that it was never going to happen.

“Life works in funny ways and I reached a point in my life where I decided that if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen and that it’s not something for me to worry about.”

Malan's powerful distinction between pressure and privilege
Malan’s powerful distinction between pressure and privilege

The advantage of fielding someone of Malan’s experience on debut is that he enters the international arena a complete player and one who understands his own game in and out.

Malan’s account of his past also speaks to a maturity that comes with trying and then failing and then doing it over and over again.

“I don’t think I did myself any favors when I was younger,” he added.

“I took a lot of stuff for granted and I didn’t really put in the hard work that, in hindsight, I needed to put in.

“It’s also a matter of opportunities and them being limited and then not taking them when I did get them.

Malan’s ability:

Malan’s character and ability to roll up the sleeves is exactly what the new Proteas leadership is looking for and he is now a shoo-in for the Tests in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.

It was such a refreshing reminder that, sometimes, hard work pays off and the cream rises to the top.

“Being out there in front of the Barmy Army, with Jimmy Anderson running in … it felt like a video game at one stage,” he said.

“It was unbelievable and I felt very privileged to be in a position where I could fight for the team.

“I’ve walked down these stairs a lot of times playing for WP and I’ve even played a club game here. I always take a second or two to look up at the mountain and appreciate where we play. It’s very special for me.”

Then, around 10 minutes later as the journalists were bashing away furiously at their laptops, Malan returned to the room.

Malan's powerful distinction between pressure and privilege
Malan’s powerful distinction between pressure and privilege

He had forgotten his pair of sunglasses on the press conference table, alongside all of the microphones and recording devices.

“Sorry, I forgot these here. I don’t get them for free,” he said to laughter, picking them up and scurrying off.

Malan, before this past week, was a regular Joe who did regular things. That is all about to change, and it is so fully deserved.

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Ben Stokes: Tests should be five days forever

Ben Stokes made an emphatic case for five-day Test cricket this week by inspiring England to a series-leveling win against South Africa in the final over’s of the match.

His match-winning performance in Cape Town on Tuesday came at a time of intense debate over the future of the longest form of the game, which has been played since 1877.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) now wants to reduce Tests to four days as part of structuring the global calendar beyond 2023. The proposal, part of an effort to tackle the crowded international cricket calendar and save on costs. But it has divided players, many of whom consider Test cricket the gold standard of the game.

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Ben Stokes: Tests should be five days forever
Ben Stokes: Tests should be five days forever

ICC Rules for Test matches:

The ICC allowed four-day Tests in 2017 and they have been tried in one-off games between South Africa and Zimbabwe and England against Ireland. But they are not allowed in the Test world championship.

The Cricinfo website said mandatory four-day Tests during the current cycle from 2015 to 2023 would have freed up a total of 335 days of cricket over the period.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has offered “cautious” backing to the proposal and Australia and New Zealand have said four-day Tests deserve serious consideration.

Several top cricketers are against the idea and the global players’ representative body has warned of “significant player resistance”. Others such as Shane Warne have voiced support for a change.

England all-rounder Stokes claimed the last three South Africa wickets at Newlands to earn a 189-run victory for England, who leveled the four-match series at 1-1 on Tuesday.

Ben Stokes: Tests should be five days forever
Ben Stokes: Tests should be five days forever

Afterward, he and England captain Joe Root spoke out in favor of the longer format, which allows the drama and nuances of the game time to play out.

“It’s why five-day cricket should always be around. It’s the best form of the game,” said Stokes, England’s man of the match.

Root’s opposite number, Faf du Plessis, also said he did not support a move towards four-day Test matches, despite a statement by Cricket South Africa that it was official policy to back a reduced format.

England director of men’s cricket Ashley Giles said on Wednesday that five-day Tests were “precious”.

“If we played four-day cricket, I fear we would miss out on a lot of matches like yesterday (England’s win),” Giles told the BBC.

Virat Kohli’s view:

Ben Stokes: Tests should be five days forever
Ben Stokes: Tests should be five days forever

India’s Virat Kohli spoke earlier this month about his opposition to any move to cut a day from Tests, questioning where it would ultimately lead.   With four-day Tests “you are purely only talking about getting numbers in and entertainment, and I think the intent will not be right,” said the India skipper.

“Then you will speak of three-day Tests. I mean, where do you end?

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Ben Stokes passes on Player of the Match award to Dom Sibley

At the end of England’s dramatic Newlands victory over South Africa, Ben Stokes refuted the television media’s assertion that he should be awarded the player of the match award. Instead, when his name was announced he tried to bring maiden centurion Dominic Sibley with him to collect the award.

Sibley though, whether out of humility, shyness or some combination of the two, refused to join Stokes in front of the cameras. But the attempt did not go unnoticed and the all-rounder was asked about it as he gathered the award.

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Ben Stokes passes on Player of the Match award to Dom Sibley
Ben Stokes passes on Player of the Match award to Dom Sibley

Ben Stokes on Sibley:

Asked why he tried to bring Sibley with him, he answered, “I came in situations where it was done or die really and I thought Dom put all the hard yards in to get us in the position of winning. He’s the man of the match; he should be the one up here. But he’s unfortunately slid away, but I won’t be taking that, he’s trying to run away as fast as he can. Full credit’s got to go to Dom and how he played.”

Stokes was given the award for his superb all-round performance. He became only the third player to complete the trio of 100 or more runs, six catches and three wickets in a single Test, alongside Frank Wooley and Jacques Kallis. Sibley meanwhile scored a gritty unbeaten 133 to provide the backbone to England’s second innings.

Stokes later said that the two were battling for who was going to take the trophy with them, each trying to sneak it into the other’s belongings in the changing room until Stokes issued an ultimatum.

Ben Stokes passes on Player of the Match award to Dom Sibley
Ben Stokes passes on Player of the Match award to Dom Sibley

“We are sitting next to each other in the dressing room and I walked in, gave it to him and he put it in my place. I went ‘no’ and put it in his bag, walked back in and it was back in my bag. I said: ‘You’ve shafted me once by making me do the interviews if it ends up back in my spot we are never sitting next to each other again.’ He has got it now.”

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Flurry of late wickets seals SA defeats

South Africa’s resilience on the final day wasn’t enough as England won the second Test at Newlands in Cape Town by 189 runs to level the four-match series 1-1.

Prior to this defeat, South Africa had lost only four Test matches at Newlands and all of them have been against Australia, but England’s better showing with the bat proved to be the ultimate difference in the end.

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Flurry of late wickets seals SA defeats
Flurry of late wickets seals SA defeats

Ollie Pope’s crucial contribution in the first innings certainly led to an early advantage for England after the Proteas looked on top for the most of day one.

The Proteas were always going to be on the back foot after being dismissed for 43 runs less than England in their first innings.

While Dom Sibley’s ton and Ben Stokes’ 72 in the second innings ultimately took the game away from South Africa, and it was going to take something special to chase 438 or bat out the whole of the final day with the hope of salvaging a draw.

James Anderson got the ball rolling early on Tuesday morning, getting rid of night watchman Keshav Maharaj before Faf du Plessis lost patience while facing Dom Bess as he opted for a sweep shot which was taken at square leg by Joe Denly for 19.

Sam Curran:

Pieter Malan’s valiant effort of 84 also ended shortly after the lunch break when a superb spell by Sam Curran had him caught at second slip by Stokes.

Flurry of late wickets seals SA defeats
Flurry of late wickets seals SA defeats

Rassie van der Dussen and Quinton de Kock then did extremely well to get to tea without losing a further wicket as they brought up a 50-run partnership.

But De Kock also made a poor shot selection against Denly, just after getting his half-century when he tried to go big against the spinner, only to pick out Zak Crawley at midwicket.

Local boy Vernon Philander strolled out to the middle for the final time at Newlands as he tried to block as much deliveries as possible with Van der Dussen at the other end.

Van der Dussen then also made a very poor shot selection as he played from his legs down leg gully’s throat after Stuart Broad decided to come around the wicket to the right-hander.

Flurry of late wickets seals SA defeats
Flurry of late wickets seals SA defeats

Dwaine Pretorius was the new man in but he never looked comfortable against Ben Stokes, who was steaming in from the Wynberg end, nicking a straight one to Joe Root at first slip.

Kagiso Rabada managed to prevent Stokes from claiming a hat-trick, but it was all over when the Englishman got Philander out after he failed to deal with a shorter delivery, the catch taken by Pope as England sealed the victory.

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Listen to Day five in Cape Town as Dom Sibley and Ben Stokes put tourists in a good position

Listen to Day five in Cape Town as Dom Sibley and Ben Stokes put tourists in a good position

It’s day five of the second Test and England needs eight wickets to beat South Africa in Cape Town. Dom Sibley made 133 not out his first ton in Test cricket and the first England opener to do so at New lands since Jack Hobbs in 1910.

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Ben Stokes hit an impressive 72 to help put England in a firm position for a final day push for victory. Ahead of day four, Sibley who played a big part the previous day was praised by Gareth Batty, a member of the commentary team. Having scored for fun at the county level, he said it was brilliant seeing him do it on the big stage.

Listen to Day five in Cape Town as Dom Sibley and Ben Stokes put tourists in a good position
Listen to Day five in Cape Town as Dom Sibley and Ben Stokes put tourists in a good position

Ahead of day four, Sibley who played a big part the previous day was praised by Gareth Batty, a member of the commentary team. Having scored for fun at the county level, he said it was brilliant seeing him do it on the big stage.

“He, with Joe Root, has put England in a wonderful position,” he said.

“I’ve spoken to him a few times and he was feeling pressure because he’s used to scoring runs. He has the game for international cricket 100 percent.”

Dom Sibley’s Knock:

Sibley looked very calm and collected in the second Test at Cape Town on Monday. Sibley also demonstrates he can bat in a different approach, that he can play the situation. We can’t complain England has lost the ability to bat long, and then call it boring.

It is an English peculiarity to focus on what a player is not fairly so good at, but after his maiden Test century, it is best to contemplate on what Dom Sibley can do very well.

The longer he batted here in the second Test, the latter he played the ball, letting it come right to him and playing it under his nose. Sibley looked very composed.

From time to time, because we talk daily about Test cricket, there can be a propensity to make decisions about players too soon.

Think back, for instance, to when Steve Smith emerged and people were calling him a bit of a clown. But just look at the way he changed and adapted and became a run machine. Sibley is no Steve Smith, but he knows his game and proved here that he can bat long at this level.

Listen to Day five in Cape Town as Dom Sibley and Ben Stokes put tourists in a good position
Listen to Day five in Cape Town as Dom Sibley and Ben Stokes put tourists in a good position

Stokes was the ideal foil for Sibley on Monday because there was a declaration to be set up and England did not want him slow towards his milestone.

With Ben Stokes playing aggressively, it enabled Sibley to sit there and get the 15 runs he needed overnight.

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