Nov 252016
 

New Zealand opener Jeet Raval battled hard on the opening day of the second test against Pakistan in Hamilton.

PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand opener Jeet Raval battled hard on the opening day of the second test against Pakistan in Hamilton.

Brighter conditions indicated there should be more play on Saturday than there was on the opening day of the second cricket test between New Zealand and Pakistan in Hamilton.

Only 21 overs were possible due to rain at Seddon Park on Friday, as New Zealand reached 77-2 after being sent in by the tourists.

Rookie opener Jeet Raval was unbeaten on 35 while Ross Taylor, who is scheduled to have an eye operation on Wednesday following the completion of the two-test series, had raced to 29 off just 20 balls before rain forced the players from the field before 1pm.

Black Caps batsman Ross Taylor made a rapid start to his innings.

PHOTOSPORT

Black Caps batsman Ross Taylor made a rapid start to his innings.

Play started on Saturday at the earlier time of 10:30am to make up for some of the lost time on Friday.

READ MORE:
* Full coverage: NZ v Pakistan – second test
* Scorecard: Black Caps v Pakistan
* Learn about new NZ quick Lockie Ferguson

* Meet Black Caps’ new weapon
* Ronchi ‘New Zealand’s best No 5’
* DRS decision flummoxes captain Kane

The Black Caps lead the two-test series 1-0 after winning the first test in Christchurch.

 – Stuff

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Nov 252016
 
Black Caps v Pakistan second test, day two - scorecard

Last updated 10:15, November 26 2016

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali of Pakistan calls for a umpire review in the second test against the Black Caps, at Seddon ...

Dave Rowland/ Getty Images

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali of Pakistan calls for a umpire review in the second test against the Black Caps, at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

The scorecard from day two of the second test between the Black Caps and Pakistan, at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

COMMENTARY:
Black Caps v Pakistan

BALL-BY-BALL:
Scorer’s account

 – Stuff

Nov 252016
 
New Black Caps bowler clocked 155kmh: 'It was coming out OK that day'

MARK GEENTY

Last updated 10:08, November 26 2016

Lockie Ferguson was clocked at 153kmh and 155kmh during pre-season matches at Lincoln.

WILLIAM BOOTH/PHOTOSPORT

Lockie Ferguson was clocked at 153kmh and 155kmh during pre-season matches at Lincoln.

Bowling fast to a big crowd had Lockie Ferguson hooked before he’d even left school.

As a 16-year-old, before a near full house at Wellington’s Basin Reserve during an England cricket test in 2008, Ferguson chased the title of New Zealand’s quickest secondary school bowler.

An original field of 600, in a nationwide search to find the new Shane Bond, was whittled down to the final few.

A 16-year-old Lockie Ferguson at a 2008 national schools fast bowling competition alongside future Black Caps Jimmy ...

DAVE LINTOTT/PHOTOSPORT

A 16-year-old Lockie Ferguson at a 2008 national schools fast bowling competition alongside future Black Caps Jimmy Neesham, right, and Ben Wheeler, left, at the Basin Reserve.

He ran second, by 1kmh. His conqueror, an Auckland Grammar schoolmate one year ahead, is now a New Zealand team-mate who’ll join Ferguson on the plane to Australia next week to defend the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.

READ MORE:
Meet Black Caps’ new weapon

Ronchi ‘New Zealand’s best No 5’
DRS decision flummoxes captain Kane

Fast bowling is a tough gig, says Lockie Ferguson. "You get given a bit of talent in terms of bowling those speeds but ...

PHOTOSPORT

Fast bowling is a tough gig, says Lockie Ferguson. “You get given a bit of talent in terms of bowling those speeds but being able to do it for a long time and actually stay on the park is a whole other ball game.”

“Jimmy [Neesham] actually pipped me,” Ferguson recalled.

“That was pretty cool, during a test match down there and we had a full crowd surrounding our run-ups. It was the first time I’d experienced anything like that.

“In the final I was 132kmh and he got 133 with his last ball. He bowled a beamer and he beat me. That’s how things go, he was sort of my big brother through school.”

The speed gun and Ferguson have flirted ever since, with New Zealand Cricket nodding in approval from afar. In September at Lincoln, for the Emerging Players pre-season matches against the New Zealand XI, the radar confirmed what everyone knew. He can be rapid with Kookaburra in hand.

“They had some software there and I don’t know how accurate it was, but I got clocked at 155kmh and 153 which I was pretty happy with. It was coming out OK that day.”

The ability to bowl fast is only gifted to a few. Genetics gave Ferguson a strong headstart, with mother Jan a sprinter and netballer and father Doug a rugby playing sporting allrounder.

And in echoes of Ben Wheeler, another future Black Cap who contested that school fast bowling competition, Ferguson scrapped in brutal backyard tests against an older sibling.

Brother Mitch, four years older, was a star at Auckland Grammar.

“My brother was a quick bowler and naturally I wanted to be better than him. Since I was a young fella I tried to bowl quick. I opened the batting too and tried for the best of both worlds.

“I used to play a lot of cricket with his mates, playing against the older boys and we had a lot of very competitive, aggressive backyard battles for sure.”

Young Lockie was pitched into the first XI at the end of the fourth form, his pace already turning heads.

But no fast bowler’s story is complete without injuries. Ferguson rattles off a few: stress fracture at 18, side strains, torn obliques. Then there was one he thought had ended his career in the 2012-13 season, caused by his back foot landing on his toes.

“I had a foot blowout which was apparently a freak accident. The pressure of one spike must have gone through the joint capsule and it burst and basically messed up all the soft tissue on my right foot.

“I had surgery and was out for four months and there was a lot of talk I might not be able to play again because it might keep blowing out. It took a bit to come back from that, with the rehab and then I was just lucky in the sense that it’s holding up allright.”

At age 25 Ferguson’s career comprises just 22 first-class matches, 14 Twenty20s and eight list-A (50-over) matches. His list-A debut for Auckland was on December 27, 2015 (he took 16 wickets at 28 in eight matches). Less than a year later he could be bowling for the Black Caps in Sydney, Canberra or Melbourne.

“I’ve worked hard at it [bowling fast] for a long time. You get given a bit of talent in terms of bowling those speeds but being able to do it for a long time and actually stay on the park is a whole other ball game.

“I’m fortunate that I have been able to stay on the park lately because I have battled injuries in the past. I try and bowl as fast as I can as accurately as I can. Speed is a big weapon for me so I want to use that to the best of my ability just like guys use swing.”

The topic of short-pitched bowling and intimidation is a sensitive one, with a spotlight on concussion and batsman safety. A Ferguson bouncer sidelined Otago’s Ryan Duffy this season, then he received a wakeup call when clanged on the helmet by Canterbury’s Ed Nuttall last week. It’s a tricky but regular discussion topic among the fast bowlers’ club.

“Part of the game is we want to be aggressive and we don’t want the batsman to be comfortable and if it means bowling short to muck up their footwork and put them out of position then that’s what we’ve got to do to win the game.

“Obviously hitting them in the head, we don’t want them to be hurt. A few dents and a few bruises is all good, that can heal. Anything further than that, we don’t want any long term damage. It is a bit touchy but I don’t think it takes away from how we play the game.”

Former Black Cap Andre Adams – another supremely gifted cricketer, straight shooter and combative individual on the field – is now his trusted mentor. They honed his action which has a bit of Adams about it, a medium pace run-up, pause then snap of the shoulder, seam and bounce his weapons at a speed quicker than anyone in New Zealand. It’s reaped him 18 Plunket Shield wickets at 22 this season.

Said Ferguson of Adams, the Auckland bowling coach: “We didn’t hit it off at the start, we butted heads a little bit and then we became good mates. We’ve got similar personalities. He’s been a huge help, just keeps things simple.”

Ferguson’s his own man, too. Lauchlan became Lockie as a youngster because he liked the unconventional spelling. He completed a business degree in marketing and worked in advertising – including work on the NZC account – before the on-field action became his fulltime focus. Newly announced in the Black Caps he was one of the best interviews you’d hear from a newcomer. No media training required here.

That big goal of cracking the international ranks was ticked off when Ferguson missed a call from selector Gavin Larsen on Thursday morning before taking the field for Auckland in Rangiora.

“You always dream of getting that phone call and when it happened it was like ‘s..t this is real’.

“I had to keep it quiet all day, and not even tell my family and I thought ‘you’re killing me’. But it was all good and I managed to tell the family on [Thursday] night and tell them to keep it secret.”

That was tough for father Doug, a golf nut who was in Melbourne’s Kingston Heath for the World Cup of Golf and took a call from his excited son. “He was on the 17th hole and he was like ‘you beauty’ and I could hear the golf going on in the background. He was pretty happy.”

Now with Adam Milne sidelined, Ferguson is the fastest gun in black, selected to provide a point of difference in a land that churns out fast bowlers like a production line. He’s excited, knows nerves will be a factor but won’t be overawed if summoned.

“It’s the ultimate challenge and I’m pretty excited to play on some Aussie pitches that hopefully have pace and bounce. I’m confident of competing with these guys and our squad has some serious talent.”

And, at last, some serious speed.

 – Stuff

Nov 252016
 
Zimbabwe edge out West Indies to reach ODI tri-series final

Last updated 08:38, November 26 2016

Zimbabwe all-rounder Sean Williams.

QUINN ROONEY/GETTY IMAGES

Zimbabwe all-rounder Sean Williams.

Zimbabwe have beaten the West Indies by five runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method to book a place in the final of the triangular one-day international tournament, to be played against Sri Lanka.

Rain ended the last round-robin match early on Thursday after Zimbabwe fought back from a dismal start to post a competitive score and pegged the Windies back to 124 for five in the 28th over when play was halted.

Sikander Raza and Tendai Chisoro shared a record ninth-wicket stand of 84 to lift Zimbabwe to 218 for eight off 49 overs after rain had interrupted the early stages of the match in Bulawayo.

Zimbabwe had been reeling at 63 for five but Raza led a revival and finished 76 not out while number 10 Chisoro made 42 not out off 35 balls.

READ MORE:
* Kane Williamson flummoxed by DRS dismissal 
Art of ball tampering: How to give bowlers an advantage
* Khawaja steps up for Australia in day-night test v Proteas
* The Black Caps’ new 150kmh weapon – Lockie Ferguson

Chisoro removed both West Indian openers in his first two overs before Jonathan Carter (43 not out) led a fight back, thwarted by heavy showers, and ultimately narrowly behind in the run rate.

Sri Lanka’s close-fought win over the West Indies on Wednesday secured their place in the final.

 – Reuters

Nov 252016
 
England captain Alastair Cook seeks clarity from ICC on ball-shining practice

AMLAN CHAKRABORTY

Last updated 02:58, November 26 2016

Alastair Cook: "Players are slightly uncertain at the moment, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable."

DANISH SIDDIQUI/REUTERS

Alastair Cook: “Players are slightly uncertain at the moment, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.”

The age-old practice of shining the cricket ball has become a “grey area” and the game’s governing body must provide clarity to end the prevailing confusion, England captain Alastair Cook said on Friday.

The method, ostensibly to generate more swing with the ball with one shiny side, has come under scrutiny after South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was declared guilty of ball-tampering by the International Cricket Council (ICC) earlier this week.

Television footage appeared to show du Plessis applying saliva to the ball while sucking on a sweet during the Hobart test against Australia but the Proteas captain has decided to appeal the ICC decision which cost him his entire match fees.

England paceman Chris Woakes rued lack of clarity on the issue on Thursday and his views were echoed by Cook ahead of their third test against India beginning on Saturday.

READ MORE: The art of ball-tampering in cricket

“I think Woakesey summed up quite nicely yesterday, it is a bit of a grey area at the moment,” Cook told reporters at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium.

“Players are slightly uncertain at the moment, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. I haven’t studied Faf’s case that closely to see if he was taking the sweet straight to the ball or did he just happen to have a lolly in his mouth.

“I think the players are now, after the last 10 days, probably just looking to the ICC to clarify what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.”

Cook was not sure how much it actually helped but preferred clearer guidelines.

“If they said you aren’t allowed to directly put your finger from the sweet onto the ball, it might clear it up,” he added.

His India counterpart Virat Kohli was accused by a section of British media of shining the ball with sugary saliva in the first test at Rajkot even though no charges were levelled against him.

“If I was doing something, ICC would have spoken to me,” Kohli told reporters, calling such allegations a ploy to distract his team.

“I think it’s just to take the focus away from the series, to be honest,” said Kohli whose team have a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

“It happened in Australia when South Africa won the series. I’m surprised the issue, what I’ve been told, came up in Rajkot but there was no mention of it until we saw the result in Vizag.

“I don’t read newspapers. I was told five days after the thing came out and I just laughed it off. I don’t pay attention to all those things.

“It’s just that some people are trying to take the focus away from the series, good luck to them. We are totally focused on what we have to do in this game.”

 – Reuters

Nov 252016
 
Handscomb determined to take his chance

Newly capped middle order batsman Peter Handscomb says that he is determined to make the most of his opportunity to play for Australia after he notched a fifty in his first Test innings.

It was a knock that brought tears to a proud mother’s eyes and piled on the agony for a Proteas attack that toiled hard but got little reward despite extracting consistent movement through the air and off the pitch.

When asked after play how determined he was to make a place in the team his own he said: “Very determined.

“There is that chance there to try to cement a spot in the middle order, which I’ll be trying to take with both hands. I’ll just go out there and do what I do and hopefully that will be enough.

Handscomb

“It was an amazing platform they set, especially Matt on debut. It was a great testament to him. He went about playing his own way, playing his own game and hopefully that’ll continue to work for him. Uzzy [Khawaja] did an amazing job last night and today.

“They set that platform where the middle order were able to come in and still wait for that bad ball, but we were able to try and jump on it and score as many runs as we could.”

Handscomb was lucky enough to bat with a classy Test batsman like Usman Khawaja down the other end and lauded the quality of the left-hander.

Handscomb

He said: “He’s seeing the ball really well and his movement patterns are great.

“Batting out there with him was awesome because he just kept it really calm. In between overs, we discussed what we think the bowler’s trying to do and from there we developed our own plans. He was very collected and very calculated.

“He never looked flustered out there even if the ball beat his outside edge, he’d just go back, do his routine and do what he was doing all day, keep backing his process. It was awesome to watch.”

Handscomb credited his friends and family with keeping him grounded in a week of tremendous change.

He went on: “A few of my mates have been coming in and having a coffee before the game.

“which is nice to get away from what’s going on around me. You can keep a level head, which is good.

“As I was going out to bat as well, the mates were off to the side yelling all sorts of stuff. It takes your mind off what’s happening, you go out and try to play with freedom.”

Handscomb was unaware of his mum’s tears: “I didn’t actually know that, I haven’t been able to speak to her yet or see her.

“Looking forward to getting back to the hotel. Going to see how she’s going and hopefully she’s feeling alright.”

Handscomb

The right-hander forced his way into the team with a double ton in the Sheffield Shield but had been on the selectors radar for some time.

His time at the crease was terminated by a ripper from Kyle Abbott but he has impressed in his first innings for the Baggy Green.

Nov 252016
 
Checking out the PCA Stadium

Established: 1993
Capacity: 28,000
Floodlights: Yes
Ends: Pavilion End, City End
Home Team: Punjab
Curator: Daljit Singh
Test History: 12 Tests; 6 home wins; 1 away win; 5 draws
Tosses: 8 batted first (3 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses); 4 bowled first (1 win, 3 draws)

Overview

Formerly a swamp with deep ravines, the PCA Stadium is located in Mohali, a suburb of both the Punjabi and Haryanan capital, Chandigarh, in northern India.

Most of the ground is made up of low uncovered stands with a trench separating spectators from the field which becomes a moat when there’s been some rain about. But the Pavilion stand gives the ground a new-age feel as the facilities on offer are of a world class standard and are less than 20 years old.

At the City End there is a slim, tall stand which gives spectators an excellent view of the match from behind the bowler’s arm, and behind it one will find the superb practice facilities.

The pitch used to be known as the liveliest in the country with plenty of bounce, and India were even bowled out for just 83 on the first morning of a Test match against New Zealand in 1999. However, it has flattened out over the years to produce many high-scoring draws.

Last Time Out

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja put the Proteas in a spin in a low scoring affair with India struggling almost as much as the South Africans on a vicious turner.

Only three batsmen could get passed fifty in a Test that lasted three days.

They Said

England allrounder Chris Woakes said in the build up: “I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to see that the ends are a bit more trimmed than the middle of the pitch, so therefore we’re expecting it to spin.”

SA paceman Dale Steyn on the key to his successes in India: “One of the key things I have done here is to bowl fast. Pace through the air is really important. With the wickets being on the slow side, anything from 135 down – batters are able to make the adjustment when the ball hits the deck.

“It’s the guys that bowl 145 plus, that really rush batters because it gives them a lot less time to be able to adjust when the ball is reversing or there is a bit of something off the deck. But control is another thing. You have to land the ball in the right area.”

Happy Hunting Ground

The ground is used infrequently for Tests as such only a handful of players in the current group have registered 2 Tests here.

Murali Vijay has fared excellently despite challenging conditions scoring 301 runs in four inninhs at 75.25.

Jadeja has 14 wickets to his name at the venue while Ashwin and Amit Mishra both have 12.

Alastair Cook is the only English batsmen to play a Test here scoring 50 and 10 in two innings.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad were involved when England met India here in 2008 but managed only two wickets apiece in the match.

Weather Forecast

Warm and dry for five days.

Conclusion

This deck has become a paradise for spinners in recent years, and India are expected to field three slow bowlers. Batting is tough for those unused to the conditions, so focus will be required, and pacemen will have their work cut out after day one.

One imagines the toss-winning skipper will opt to bat, as one doesn’t want to be trying to score runs on day five on this deck.

Nov 252016
 
Usman Khawaja hits century as Australia take the lead in Adelaide

Last updated 01:09, November 26 2016

Steve Smith was well short of his ground after a dreadful mix-up

JASON REED/REUTERS

Steve Smith was well short of his ground after a dreadful mix-up



Usman Khawaja hit his country’s first century of the series and Peter Handscomb a half-century on debut as Australia reached 307-6 with a lead of 48 at end of the second day of the day-night third test against South Africa on Friday.

Khawaja’s magnificent 285-ball 138 not out was the glue in Australia’s innings, the left-hander putting on 137 with Steve Smith until his captain was calamitously run out and then 99 with Handscomb.

Australian batsman Usman Khawaja celebrates reaching 50 on day two of the third test at Adelaide Oval.

MORNE DE KLERK/GETTY IMAGES

Australian batsman Usman Khawaja celebrates reaching 50 on day two of the third test at Adelaide Oval.

Sean Abbott (3-38), who took two wickets in the first hour, returned to dismiss Handscomb before Kagiso Rabada bowled another debutant, Nic Maddinson, for a duck and Vernon Philander removed Matt Wade for four.

Khawaja will resume with Mitchell Starc (16 not out) on day three as the hosts look to extend their lead and put themselves in a commanding position to get the result they need to avoid a first ever 3-0 series sweep on home soil.

READ MORE:
Art of ball tampering: How to give bowlers an advantage
Full coverage: Black Caps v Pakistan – second test
Scorecard: Black Caps v Pakistan – second test
Black Caps eye series win at Seddon Park
Sneak peek: Seddon Park pitch
Hamilton hot shots, the stars of Seddon Park
Ferguson poised for Black Caps call

Australian David Warner of Australia walks off after getting out to South Africa pace bowler Kyle Abbott.

MORNE DE KLERK/GETTY IMAGES

Australian David Warner of Australia walks off after getting out to South Africa pace bowler Kyle Abbott.

Now 29, Khawaja has been recalled and discarded with regularity since his debut in 2011 but was retained for Adelaide despite the clearout that followed the humiliating innings and 80-run defeat in Hobart.

After opening in place of David Warner in the wake of South Africa’s declaration on 259-9 on Thursday, he negotiated a difficult opening hour on Friday before mixing fierce concentration with some typically elegant strokes.

He brought up his 50 with back-to-back fours and his fifth test century with a 10th boundary cut through point, whipping off his helmet to take the applause of another big crowd at Adelaide Oval.

Smith, dropped earlier by Hashim Amla, had departed for 59 just before his partner reached the milestone, tearing off for an optimistic single and left stranded as Khawaja stood his ground and Quinton de Kock removed the bails.

Handscomb, brought into the side on the back of a double century for Victoria, proved a more than able partner, however, and any prospect of another Australian batting collapse quickly dissipated.

The 25-year-old survived a scare when he just dived back into the crease ahead of a direct hit from Temba Bavuma but opened the following over with two drives and a pull for three fours that got him to his fifty and gave Australia the lead.

It was the outstanding Abbott who ended Handscomb’s maiden test innings by bowling the Victorian through the gate an hour into the night session.

The 29-year-old, who came into the side in the second test for the injured Dale Steyn and took 6-77, started the day with a brilliant exhibition of disciplined seam bowling, finishing with figures of 2-7 and six maidens in his first 10-over spell.

Australia resumed on 14-0 but debutant Matt Renshaw was only able to add two runs to his overnight tally before he was brilliantly caught for 10 at third slip by Dean Elgar.

That brought to the crease Warner, who was unable to open as usual on Thursday after Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis’s calculated declaration caught him off the field having treatment on his shoulder.

Warner failed to thrive at number three and was dismissed for 11 when he got an edge off an Abbott delivery that was seaming away from him, with Elgar once again snaffling the catch in the cordon.

 – Reuters

Nov 252016
 
Khawaja drags Baggy Green ahead

An unbeaten century from makeshift opener Usman Khawaja helped Australia to a solid position on day two of the third and Final Test in Adelaide.

Australia ended the day on 307 for 6 with a 48 run lead having been pegged back by a flurry of wickets in the final session.

The hosts resumed on 14 without loss with Khawaja and Matt Renshaw at the wicket but the latter wouldn’t last long as a beautiful catch by Dean Elgar gave Kyle Abbott his first wicket and the debutant fell for 10.

David Warner would then come out to bat having been denied the opportunity to bat the day before by Faf du Plessis’ cheeky declaration.

Warner (11) didn’t last long as he was unable to resist the carrot dangled outside his offstump by Abbott with Elgar doing the honours in the corden.

That brought together Khawaja and Skipper Steve Smith and the pair would put on a stunning third wicket partnership of 137 runs to wrestle the initiative away from the Proteas.

JP Duminy came close to getting the breakthrough as he enticed the edge from Smith when he was on 46 but Hashim Amla’s horror tour took another terrible twist as he grassed the chance.

In the end it wouldn’t be a Proteas bowler who brought about Smith’s (59) demise but a mix-up with Khawaja as the skipper was run out for 59.

Peter Handscomb joined Khawaja and after some early struggles settled in to Test cricket like a natural which will leave many wondering why the Baggy Green persisted with the out of sorts Adam Voges for so long.

Khawaja would become the first Australian to score a century in this series as he notched his fifth career Test hundred.

Handscomb went on to score a fifty on his debut with his mum on hand to witness the special moment for the young man.

Abbott produced a ripper to account for Handscomb (54) and leave Australia 273 for four, with the seam movement making the ball nearly unplayable.

The third of Australia’s debutants Nic Maddinson (0) wasn’t able to make the impact Handscomb did as he was cleaned up by Kagiso Rabada who gave the batsman a send off that might land the quick in hot water.

Matthew Wade (4) departed cheaply as Vernon Philander got in on the act, producing an excellent ball that Wade could only nick off to.

Mitchell Starc joined Khawaja and looked out of sorts from the start but survived being given out leg before with the review showing the ball pitched millimetres outside leg.

Starc (16 not out) and Khawaja (138 not out) would see out the day though reaching 307/6 and a 48 run lead.

This was the first time Australia have managed to bat through a day in this series with solid contributions from the middle order finally materializing.

Abbott ended the day with stellar figures of 3 for 38 from 25 overs.

Nov 252016
 
Press Tent: Lollipop edition

It is difficult to know where to start with this. But the beginning is as a good a place as any.

Footage emerged of South Africa’s captain, Faf du Plessis, appearing to run his finger over a mint in his mouth and then rubbing that minty fresh salvia over the ball.

This was seen by the ICC chief executive and Faf was charged with a Level 2 breach of the ICC’s Code of Conduct. The accusation was that du Plessis had altered the condition of the ball using an artificial substance.

You are allowed to rub your own bodily excretions on the ball, but not ones that are generated by sucking on a sweet. From there it all went batshit mental…

Australia are in the midst of a cricketing crisis. They keep losing loads of wickets all at once and as a result they are on a run of five defeats in Tests.

The Australia media have grabbed hold of this minty story like an excitable puppy with a chew toy and they are shaking their heads vigorously from side to side. The cricket team itself have kept their distance from the mayhem, but the press pack have been absolutely obsessed with confectionary.

There was a remarkable press conference held on the outfield of the MCG, where Hashim Amla spoke to the press about how the accusations against his captain were laughable. He talked about red frogs, biltong, nuts and brushing teeth during a day’s play. This in itself would have been quite funny – that Amla was stood surrounded by the entire South African squad (apart from du Plessis) who were looking as serious as they could took it to the level of grand farce.

faf-gum

When the South African squad arrived at Adelaide airport the media were waiting for them, and a local Channel 9 reporter managed to make himself part of the story. Will Crouch, a reporter with the network’s Adelaide office, walked along side the South African team trying to get du Plessis to comment.

Zunaid Wadee, the head of security for the tourists, began shoving him out of the way. Crouch would not be deterred, and he was eventually slammed into a glass door by Wadee.

This was one of those glorious instances where everyone involved looks ridiculous. Du Plessis smirking like a petulant schoolboy did not help his case. Crouch knew full well that du Plessis would not say anything, after all, he works for the network that has the TV rights to the series and as a result knew of du Plessis’ stance on passing comment.

Wadee completely overreacted when he shoved the over-zealous reporter into that glass door. Brilliantly, this wasn’t even the first time such an incident had occurred – a near identical fracas took place at the team hotel in Melbourne. The whole nonsensical mess was summed up by Geoff Lemon writing in the Guardian.

Over the next few days, two television news crews were kept from du Plessis by security. The first story of a reporter being manhandled” at a hotel didn’t take off, but the crew at Adelaide airport scored better.

Both crews work for Australia’s cricket broadcaster. This means they have full access to press boxes, press conferences, and all media updates. They can call South Africa’s media staff any time, or speak with them at training and tour matches.

“They would have been told the same as everyone else – that du Plessis couldn’t comment until his ICC hearing was over, and that provided he wasn’t banned, he would give a captain’s press conference the day before the Adelaide Test and complete his usual TV obligations before play.”

Still, a bloke getting shoved at an airport generated some buzz, didn’t it?

Over on Fox Sports there was a think-piece about the way du Plessis had behaved in the face of this relentless barrage of press coverage about him sucking on a sweetie. Steve Wilson wrote that du Plessis was “passing through Adelaide airport [with] the smug self-satisfaction of the cocky narcissist”.

Wilson wasn’t done there. “The preposterous Hashim Amla plus full team press of a media appearance (what Faf described as a proud moment for him”), the Year 12 swagger at transport hubs, the chippy tweets and general smoky demeanour has all made the South Africans appear childish and hopelessly self regarding.”

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Faf_du_Plessis2

It is safe to say it isn’t only the South African cricket team that have come out of this looking self-regarding and childish. A large portion of the Aussie press have been joining them.

In the Press Tent we know what you are thinking. You want to scream: ‘HE SUCKED ON A MINT, WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS?”

Well, we aren’t done yet. Du Plessis has appealed the verdict that found him guilty of ball-tampering before the start of the Adelaide Test. He is absolutely convinced he has done nothing wrong. The ICC are not. They have released a statement expressing their “disappointment” in du Plessis appealing. That will calm all of this down.

Belt up boys

The lads onboard the Channel 9 banter bus are in trouble. A Facebook Live post from Shane Warne filmed while they were travelling from the Hobart ground to their hotel showed Kevin Pietersen, Michael Slater and of course, banter-meister in chief, Warne not wearing seatbelts.

There was some hilarious behind the scenes footage of the commentary team, which was basically the same as their average commentary stint, but it did not take long for the viewers to point out that they weren’t wearing their belts.

In essence, Warne had filmed himself and his mates committing a crime. The Tasmanian police were not amused. Each of the three men have been issued with a $300 fine.

ahead of the World Cup of Golf at Kingston Heath Golf Club on November 23, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.

Beefy’s Brexit

In a normal edition of the Press Tent an article by Sir Ian Botham talking about how delighted he is that the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union would get some serious coverage. Unfortunately the entire Cricket365 office has been either talking about sucking mints or laughing at Australia being hopeless. So you will need to read it and do your own snarky analysis of his badly thought out political views. It’s here.

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