Steve Smith could be doubt for Ashes because of elbow surgery

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Former Australia captain Steve Smith’s participation in the Ashes could be in doubt as he needs elbow surgery.

Smith’s 12-month ban following the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal is set to end on March 28.

The 29-year-old could have found himself back in contention for the baggy green again ahead of the World Cup and the Ashes, which are both to be staged in England.

However, following the ligament problem in his right elbow which forced him to stop playing for the Comilla Victorians in the Bangladesh Premier League, it remains to be seen how much recovery time the 29-year-old will now face.

Cricket Australia revealed Smith is set to undergo surgery on January 15, and is expected to be in a brace for around six weeks, followed by a period of rehabilitation.

“Return to play timeframes will be clearer once the brace has been removed,” a spokesperson for Cricket Australia said.

Smith’s ban applies to international and domestic cricket, but he has featured in T20 leagues in Canada and the Caribbean.

The former Australia captain had spoken of the “dark days” which followed the fall-out from the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

Cameron Bancroft’s attempt to manipulate the ball with what was later revealed to be sandpaper was a plan orchestrated, according to a Cricket Australia investigation, by vice-captain David Warner.

Smith was found to have known about the plan midway through the third Test against the Proteas in Cape Town in March but failed to prevent it and, as such, all three players received lengthy suspensions.

The former captain, who is unable to hold a leadership position until 2020, had talked about the possibility of a return to international action for Australia in England, adding he would be ready to face the “incredibly hostile” home crowd if he were back in the fold.

The 2019 World Cup opens with hosts England against South Africa at The Oval on May 30. Australia are scheduled to play their first group match against Afghanistan in Bristol on June 1.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor.

When you talk of the best batsmen in limited overs cricket, names likes Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jonny Bairstow come to mind.

India captain Kohli is by far and away the most dominant batsman in ODI cricket and his recent record proves that. Since the beginning of 2018, Kohli has amassed 1,202 runs in 14 matches at an average of more than 133 with six centuries and three fifties. Those numbers are almost unheard of and he has been at it for a few seasons, mastering the art of batting in ODI cricket and becoming the all-time best in the format.

In the period mentioned above, only two other batsmen have scored more than 1000 runs in ODIs – Rohit (19 ODIs) and Bairstow (22 games). To match Kohli’s numbers takes some doing and no one has done it successfully.

But one batsman has dared to do so and has come fairly close to Kohli’s numbers. New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor doesn’t pop up on many cricket followers’ radar when talking about ODI batting. But a look at his numbers in the last 12 months make for incredible reading.

In his last 14 ODIs, Taylor has amassed 920 runs at an average of 92 with three tons and six fifties. He crossed fifty in his last six innings and scored the 20th ton of his career in the third ODI against Sri Lanka.

It has been a remarkable revival in fortunes for the 34-year-old. In 2016, Taylor had to take a break from cricket after a growth in his left eye hampered his vision and had to be removed surgically.

Taylor has vision problems for some time and it was feared it might cost him his career. But the Kiwi middle order batsman returned from that medical scare with renewed vigour.

That New Zealand are one the most consistent performers in all formats and conditions is down to the synergy between veterans like Taylor and stars like Kane Williamson, and bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult. Taylor is providing the solidity in the middle which allows Kiwi batting to flourish in all conditions and against all opposition.

In Taylor, the Kiwis have yet another highly effective player who goes about his business with the minimum of fuss. The Blackcaps are so likeable that their fine record slips under the radar; they beat Pakistan in Tests in the UAE 2-1, thrashed England by an innings at home and in ODIs have won 11 out of 16 matches. That’s as great as Taylor’s run in ODIs.

After his 20th ODI century – most by a Kiwis – this week, Taylor said he just wants to make the most of this form in a World Cup year. “It was nice to get the 20th hundred, I would have taken that at the start of my career. I’m getting old, so hopefully, I’ve got a few more in me”. He definitely has a few more up his sleeve.

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