Cricket Australia remain hopeful over Bangladesh tour as pay dispute stand-off continues

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Will skipper Steve Smith lead his team in Bangladesh?

Australia’s cricket authorities are hopeful that a Bangladesh tour due to start in less than a month will go ahead despite a player rebellion over pay, a senior team official said.

The scheduled two-Test series has been placed in jeopardy by the long-running dispute, which has pitted Australia’s top cricket stars against the game’s governing body.

“There is obviously a lot of work to be done. But we are hopeful and optimistic that the tour will go ahead,” Gavin Dovey, Australia cricket team manager told reporters in the Bangladesh city of Chittagong late Thursday.

The fate of the series depends on the resolution of a revenue sharing deal between Cricket Australia and players. An Australia A tour of South Africa has already been cancelled because of the dispute.

Cricket Australia said Thursday it will take the bitter row to independent arbitration if an agreement cannot be reached by early next week.

Dovey made his remarks at the end of a four-day tour by a Cricket Australia team to inspect facilities and security arrangements in the South Asian nation.

The team visited the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong which is to host the second Test from September 4-8.

Australia are scheduled to arrive Bangladesh on August 18. The first Test is at Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on August 27-31.

Australia have not played a Test in Bangladesh since Ricky Ponting’s team visited in 2006, six years after Bangladesh were granted Test status.

They were due to play two Tests in Bangladesh in October 2015 but the tour was cancelled amid security fears after attacks by Islamist extremists in the Muslim-majority nation.

Australia refused to send their team to last year’s Under-19 World Cup in Dhaka over security worries. Bangladesh hosted England last year, drawing the Test series 1-1.

“We were very disappointed not to come in 2015 but obviously the safety and security of the players and the team is paramount, irrespective of whether we tour to Bangladesh or anywhere else in the world,” Dovey said.

Bangladesh has promised head-of-state style security for Australia’s cricketers this time.

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England vs South Africa: Alastair Cook stands tall in England mess and other talking points from a rain curtailed first day at the Oval

Ashish Peter 27/07/2017
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Cook once again shone for England.

Hosts England took on South Africa in the third Test of the four match series at the Oval on Thursday. England’s Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat first in overcast conditions on the Oval pitch hosting its hundredth Test match.

Root will be left wondering if he made the right call as Faf du Plessis’ men pegged the hosts back at 171 runs for the loss of four wickets before rain brought a premature end to the first day’s play.

There was plenty to talk about on a hard day’s grind for England as we look at three key stories of the match so far.

ENGLAND’S BATTING WOES CONTINUE

The hosts had come in for some criticism time and time again for their recklessly aggressive batting approach and the poor showing at Nottingham has only served to enforce it. England’s batting card after Thursday’s play will only go on to strengthen the criticism against them.

Keaton Jennings was all at sea before his third over dismissal for a duck in a repeat of his horror showing in the first innings at Trent Bridge. Debutant Tom Westley showed some grit along with Alastair Cook after the fall of Jennings but he was snared at third slip after swinging hard at a delivery he could very well have left alone.

Root could do nothing about the excellent delivery from Vernon Philander as he was caught behind magnificently by Quinton de Kock for 29 runs.

The second debutant Dawid Malan will not want to watch the replays as Kagiso Rabada knocked out his middle stump with an in-swinging yorker after scoring a solitary run.

PROTEAS’ BOWLERS CONTINUE NOTTINGHAM SHOW

The South African pace trio resumed their excellent form in the second Test to put the hosts on the back foot throughout the day. Philander has been a menace all series and he looked his threatening best in his first spell which claimed Jennings before a stomach bug forced the seamer off the field.

While Cook and Westley looked determined against Rabada and Morne Morkel in a 52-run stand, Chris Morris found some movement to break the partnership. He had Westley chasing a delivery outside off-stump to gift a simple catch to the South Africa skipper at second slip.

Philander returned to the field after his morning troubles and he wasted no time in removing the dangerous Root. A peach of a delivery on off-stump had the English skipper brilliantly caught by an outstretched de Kock.

Rabada then got in on the act with a searing yorker which sent back Malan’s middle stump a good distance on the Oval ground.

COOK SOLIDITY STANDS TALL IN ENGLAND MESS

While questions continue to be asked about England’s batting technique, Cook’s old school approach is a delight to the eye for the cricket purists among the nation. While he has not been at his usual best in recent times, on Thursday, Cook stood tall like a mountain against the relentless South African pace battery.

The Essex man survived the early onslaught with some gritty orthodox batting to finish the day unbeaten on 82 runs. He could only watch from the other end as his partners fell one by one but he looked to be getting back to his best by the time rain interrupted the day’s proceedings.

Cook brings up half century number 54 of his Test career.

Cook brings up half century number 54 of his Test career.

He was characteristic in leaving deliveries he did not need to play forcing the South African bowlers to bowl to his strengths as he quietly went about in building a solid innings.

The other English batsmen will do well to take a leaf out of Cook’s book on how to build an innings as the former skipper added some semblance to England’s madness.

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Alastair Cook's unbeaten 82 steadies ship for England after some superb bowling from Vernon Philander

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Cook played a vital knock for the hosts.

England invested in future potential with three debutants at The Oval but closed day one in debt to an old favourite as former captain Alastair Cook bailed them out against South Africa.

Cook moved above Allan Border up to ninth among the world’s all-time record run-scorers, having long been England’s number one, when he scored the first of his unbeaten 82 out of 171 for four in the third Investec Test.

As he moved towards a 31st Test century – and new-boy batsmen Tom Westley and Dawid Malan mustered 26 between them – England had good reason yet again to be grateful for his remorseless appetite for runs which has left him with a running total of 11,256.

The no-frills opener excelled in conditions which were far from easy for any batsmen as the ball moved around in the air and off the pitch almost throughout – for the admirable Vernon Philander especially – after Joe Root chose to bat first on a day of many showers and only 59 of the scheduled 90 overs.

Cook lost his out-of-form opening partner Keaton Jennings early and, following an early flurry of boundaries, dug in with typically cussed abstinence as the hosts bid to bounce back here from last week’s trouncing at Trent Bridge in a series level at 1-1 with two to play.

Jennings has mustered just three runs in his last three innings, this time pushing forward to Philander and edging low to third slip for a duck.

Cook already had three boundaries on the board by then, and Westley was to go one better – counting his first 16 runs in fours, beginning with a flick off his legs from the fifth ball he faced in Test cricket from Morne Morkel.

Westley had just two of those early boundaries when he survived an lbw appeal from Morkel only because umpire Joel Wilson spotted a feint inside-edge as he aimed to leg. Then Cook escaped in similar circumstances on 28 after Chris Morris this time invoked DRS only for ultra-edge to detect another graze of the bat.

Vernon Philander (L) celebrates after dismissing Keaton Jennings.

Philander (L) celebrates after dismissing Keaton Jennings (R).

The miserly Philander posed the greatest threat, conceding no runs from his first 23 deliveries and precious few thereafter either.

He was indisposed with a stomach bug, however, as Cook and Westley posted an all-Essex half-century stand.

Westley’s morning graft then came to nought when he tried to drive his third ball of the afternoon on the up and instead edged Morris to second slip.

Root was another to begin with an early rush of boundaries but was becalmed as the South Africa attack found their range – and crucially, Philander returned too.

The England captain spent 21 balls on 27 and then, after a neat deflection for two into the leg-side off Keshav Maharaj, succumbed to Philander without further addition.

He was undone by a good ball which held its line off the pitch and an even better catch, wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock changing direction to dive off his wrong foot and cling on to a tough one-handed chance.

Malan had to be patient for his first run at this level – against the country in which he grew up – finally scampering a single from the 15th ball he faced, off Kagiso Rabada.

Shortly beforehand, a Cook square-cut counted the first boundary off Philander – doubling England’s tally off him to seven runs in eight overs – and brought the mainstay his second half-century in five attempts so far since he resigned the captaincy.

Malan was unable to add a second run before Rabada ended his maiden Test innings with a searing yorker.

Ben Stokes then helped to close out the afternoon – and in a remaining half-hour of play between the forecast downpours, England’s fifth-wicket pair remained intact as Cook extended his latest vigil to 178 deliveries from which he has garnered 10 hard-earned boundaries to date.

(Provided by Press Association)

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