South Africa pace stalwart Dale Steyn calls time on his Test career

Sport360 staff 19:30 05/08/2019
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End of the road in Test cricket for Dale Steyn.

South Africa veteran pacer Dale Steyn has announced his retirement from Test cricket with immediate effect in a bid to prolong his white-ball career.

The 36-year-old decision brings to a close a glittering Test career that saw him overtake Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s all-time leading wicket-taker in the five-day format. Overall in his Test career, Steyn bagged 439 wickets in 93 appearances at an average of less than 23.

The right-armed modern-day great had been hampered by a spate of injuries over the past three years beginning with a fractured shoulder in South Africa’s 2016 tour of Australia. His recent World Cup in England for the Proteas also came to a sad end with the pacer being ruled out of the tournament without playing a single game.

“Today I walk away from a format of the game I love so much. In my opinion Test cricket is the best version of this game,” Steyn said on his Test retirement.

“It tests you mentally, physically, emotionally. It’s terrible to consider never playing another Test again but what’s more terrifying is the thought of never playing again at all.

“So, I will be focusing on ODIs and T20s for the rest of my career to maximise my full potential and ensure my longevity in this sport. I’d like to thank everyone in cricket, no one specific, because everyone has been a part of my journey. And I look forward to continuing to play for the Proteas in the shorter formats.”

Steyn retires as the fifth-highest Test wicket-taker among pacers in the all-time list with only James Anderson, Glenn McGrath, Courtney Walsh and Stuart Broad ahead of him.

Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe hailed Steyn’s contributions to Proteas cricket following his decision to retire from Test cricket.

“Dale is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats of cricket. From the time he made his Test debut against England in 2004 and dismissed their captain, Michael Vaughan, with a superb delivery, he has been one of the standout fast bowlers in world cricket,” the CSA chief executive stated.

“He has led the South African attack brilliantly and has set the standard for our future generations to follow. More than that he has been a wonderful mentor to our next generation of speedsters.

“We were saddened to hear of his decision, but it is one that management has to accept, and we thank him for his significant contribution to the sport and to the nation and wish him everything of the very best for the future.”

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Ashes 2019: Nathan Lyon spins a web around England as Australia take series lead

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Nathan Lyon's 6-49 handed Australia a big win in the first Test.

England’s fortress at Edgbaston was breached for the first time in over a decade as Australia completed a crushing 251-run victory over the hosts on the final day to take a 1-0 lead in the Ashes series.

Chasing a stiff target of 385 runs on the final day at Birmingham, England collapsed for just 146 inside two sessions under some relentless bowling from the visitors.

Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins were the chief architects of Australia’s dominant display on Monday with the off-spinner capturing six wickets while the pacer chipped in with four dismissals.

The Aussies were given the perfect start on day five with Cummins dismissing first-innings centurion Rory Burns with a mean bouncer. Jason Roy and skipper Joe Root mustered some resistance with a brief stand but they were both blown away by an inspired Lyon spell just before lunch.

The Aussie off-spinner deceived the advancing Roy with flight and turn to castle his stumps before Cameron Bancroft completed two excellent catches at short-leg to send back Root and Joe Denly off his bowling.

Those three Lyon wickets meant England went into lunch at 85-4 and matters were only compounded for the hosts post the interval. Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow fell to Cummins’ pace while Lyon dismissed Ben Stokes to bag his fourth wicket of the day as England slid to 97-7.

Lyon completed his five-wicket haul by snaring Moeen Ali once again before dismissing Stuart Broad off the very next delivery. Cummins completed the job for the visitors with the final wicket of Chris Woakes as England’s long spell of dominance at Edgbaston came to an end.

KEY MAN

Steve Smith

The Edgbaston Test will no doubt go down as Steve Smith’s redemption song with the former Australia skipper registering a ton in each innings to mark a triumphant return to the five-day game after more than a year out.

More than the remarkable feat of registering twin tons, it was the manner in which Smith attained those runs that will serve as a timely reminder of his prowess as arguably the best Test batsman of his generation.

The right-hander rescued Australia from a perilous position of 122-8 in the first innings to ultimately help them post a challenging 284. The visitors were in a spot of bother in the second innings as well after conceding a 90-run lead before Smith resurrected them again with a fine 142.

It took Smith’s Ashes tally of tons to 10 and he is now only behind Jack Hobbs (12) and Don Bradman (19) in that regard. For him to do it while being taunted with boos throughout the match makes his heroics all the more remarkable.

Sensational Smith to the rescue of Australia on Test return.

Sensational Smith to the rescue of Australia on Test return.

KEY TAKEAWAY

Jonny Bairstow’s horror run continues

While none of England’s batsmen covered themselves in glory in the second innings, another failure with the bat for Jonny Bairstow means that the wicketkeeper’s torrid run has continued.

On Monday, Bairstow gloved a Cummins’ short delivery towards the slip cordon after adding just six runs to the scoreboard. He is now averaging just 13.8 with the bat in nine red-ball innings in 2019 while his last five knocks have yielded just 16 runs.

The right-hander’s troubles go all the way back to the summer of 2018 with his average in the last 23 Test innings standing at a mere 22.91. His place in the playing XI is under threat with a talented wicketkeeper in Ben Foakes waiting in the wings and another wicketkeeping option in Jos Buttler also available.

KEY STAT

Australia breach fortress Edgbaston

It was the first win for Australia at Edgbaston since their 2001 Ashes win over England and it ended a run of 11 consecutive win across formats at the venue for the hosts.

It was also England’s first Test loss at the venue since their defeat to South Africa over 11 years ago in 2008. The hosts had lost only three Tests previously to Australia at Edgbaston in 14 attempts and only once in the last 26 years.

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Cricket Windies chief explains reasoning behind Russell's Global T20 Canada participation

Sport360 staff 16:54 05/08/2019
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West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief executive Johnny Grave has clarified that Andre Russell’s decision to participate in the Global T20 Canada is part of an injury rehabilitation program for the all-rounder.

Russell raised eyebrows recently when he pulled out of the T20 series between West Indies and India before going on to appear for the Vancouver Knights in the Global T20 Canada just a day later.

The star all-rounder has been hampered with a troublesome knee for some time now and it was responsible for prematurely ending his 2019 World Cup in England. CWI chief executive Johnny Grave has now explained that Russell’s participation in the franchise T20 league in Canada is a gradual step in getting him back to full fitness.

“We cleared him fit to play in Canada as a batsman,” Grave told ESPNcricinfo.

“To monitor his fitness every day, a couple of our physios are over in the GT20, so we’ve got that oversight with Andre and his knee.

Andre Russell's World Cup was cut short prematurely.

Andre Russell’s World Cup was cut short prematurely.

“But there’s a massive difference between playing in domestic cricket to international cricket. Our fans really want to see Andre Russell at a 100 per cent while playing here against India: batting at 100 per cent, bowling at per cent, fielding dynamically outside the circle at 100 per cent.”

The Windies chief executive expects the knee to trouble Russell throughout his playing career but is backing him to last the distance through careful management.

“His injuries are probably not going to be ones that are ever going to be fully solved,” Grave said.

“Like many other sportsmen, like the Beckhams and the Ibrahimovics that have knee injuries, daily rehab is going to be part of his life for the rest of his playing career.

“We hope that he just takes our medical advice, strengthens his knee and hopefully when he’s back to 100 per cent fitness he’ll be back wearing maroon.”

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