South Africa pace legend Dale Steyn takes wicket on return to competitive cricket

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Steyn had been out of action since January this year.

After an extended spell on the sidelines due to multiple injuries, South Africa pacer Dale Steyn returned to competitive cricket on Wednesday evening.

The 34-year-old fast bowler, whose comeback from a long-term injury earlier this year was short-lived due a freak toe injury he suffered against India in the first Test at Newlands, is currently plying his trade with English county side Hampshire on a one-month contract.

Steyn made his first appearance for the Ageas Bowl club on Wednesday in the Royal London One-Day Cup clash against Somerset.

The veteran’s return didn’t go accordingly to plan as he went for 50 runs in his first five overs. However, he did have a much better second-half as he bowled a brilliant penultimate over for Hampshire under pressure while claiming the wicket of Roelof van der Merwe.

The South African ultimately finished with figures of 1-80 from his 10 overs as Somerset claimed a thrilling last-ball victory chasing down Hampshire’s total of 357 with three wickets to spare.

In a video posted by Hampshire on Twitter, Steyn had earlier confirmed the good news of his impending return with an eye on South Africa’s upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.

“The ball is coming out sweetly,” the Proteas pacer said in the video.

“I needed to get back on the park and play a bit of cricket. South Africa tour Sri Lanka in July so I felt that June was a great time to come and play some cricket.”

South Africa are slated to play two Tests and five ODIs in their tour of Sri Lanka which gets underway in July.

In 86 Tests for South Africa, Steyn has picked up a staggering 419 wickets at an average of just over 22. He needs only three wickets to overtake Shaun Pollock (421) as the most successful bowler in South Africa’s history.

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Ricky Ponting joins Justin Langer's coaching staff for Australia's limited-overs tour of England

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Ricky Ponting will assist Justin Langer for the ODIs and sole T20I.

Former skipper Ricky Ponting has joined the Australian squad in a coaching role for the upcoming limited-overs series against England.

The man nicknamed ‘Punter’ will assist head coach Justin Langer in his first assignment since taking over the position from Darren Lehmann.

Ponting has only recently returned from the IPL where he oversaw Delhi Daredevils to a bottom-place finish in his first year as the head coach of the franchise. He has previously occupied coaching roles with Mumbai Indians as well as the Australian national in various capacities.

Australia are slated to play five ODIs against England starting from June 13 before playing a sole T20I at Edgbaston to conclude their short tour.

On his part, Langer expressed his delight at working alongside his former team-mate and skipper.

Ponting and Langer have coached together previously for Australia.

Ponting and Langer have coached together previously for Australia.

“Ricky is one of the greats of the game, and since he was already in England doing some commentary we saw it as a great opportunity to have him join our team for this important series,” he was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

“We have played a lot of cricket together and coached alongside each other previously, and he will also know many of the players already through his work with the team over the past two summers and his BBL commitments.

“Ricky’s knowledge of the game is second-to-none, and we know that his experiences, tactical expertise and leadership will be invaluable for this group, as we start to build a team capable of winning a World Cup in these conditions in a year’s time.”

Ponting had previously assisted Langer for Australia’s T20I series against Sri Lanka in 2017 while also working alongside Lehmann in the Trans-Tasman T20I tri-series in February this year.

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Sri Lanka's tour of the West Indies one of the rare ones in cricket

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Sri Lanka begin their first tour of the West Indies in 10 years with the opening Test in Trinidad on Wednesday.

You have to go back all the way to the time left-arm swing ace Chaminda Vaas was still playing to look at the last visit by the Sri Lankans to the Caribbean. Not only the visit, Test clashes between the two teams are so few and far between there is hardly any history to speak of.

In the last ten years, Sri Lanka have played the West Indies in Tests just twice – at home in 2010 and 2015. The only other team the Sri Lankans have played so few Tests against is Zimbabwe. Australia and South Africa have played three Test series against Sri Lanka in the same period, New Zealand and England four, Bangladesh five, India six and Pakistan eight.

When it comes to Sri Lanka and the West Indies, it is finances that have dictated their Test history. Since both boards are not flush with funds, broadcast money has a say in which series goes ahead and which doesn’t. And since there are very few takers for a SL-WI Test series from a commercial point of view, the teams simply don’t play each other, especially in the Caribbean.

And it’s a shame because it was against Sri Lanka that Chris Gayle – the king of T20 cricket – hit his highest Test score of 333 in 2010.

Just to shine some light on the commercial impact on cricket schedule, just look at India-Sri Lanka clashes last season. India travelled to Sri Lanka for a full tour of three Tests, five ODIs and a T20 in July last year before inviting the islanders for three Tests and as many ODIs and T20s in November.

Following India’s visit, the Sri Lankan board registered 33 fold increase in net profit in one year while doubling revenues.

Recently, Cricket Australia cancelled the tour of Bangladesh to the country later in the year as it was not found to be commercially viable after signing a record $1 billion TV deal.

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