Ashes 2019: UK sports minister criticises England fans for booing Steve Smith

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Britain’s sports minister Nigel Adams has condemned England cricket fans who have been booing Australian batsman Steve Smith, calling their behaviour “distasteful” and saying it is time for the jeering to stop.

Smith and team-mates David Warner and Cameron Bancroft have been roundly heckled during the current Ashes series for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year, for which Smith and Warner received 12-month bans and Bancroft a nine-month suspension.

Adams on Monday joined a chorus of condemnation aimed in particular at England fans who booed Smith when he returned to the crease to resume batting after being felled by a Jofra Archer bouncer that struck him in the neck during the second Test at Lord’s on Saturday.

“The vast majority of the Lord’s crowd were on their feet applauding Steve Smith after his innings but a small amount of booing from a tiny element of the crowd has made the news,” Adams told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s distasteful and we have to remember that the Aussie players who got themselves into trouble have been punished and done the time.

“Smith, in particular, is a brilliant batsman and whilst of course, I don’t want him getting too many runs while he’s over here, he’s mesmerising to watch and as genuine sports fans we should be applauding him, not jeering.”

Adams, a committed fan of the game and secretary of the Lord’s and Commons Cricket Club, echoed the comments of Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, who called Saturday’s booing of Smith a “total Ashes foul”.

Smith, who retired hurt suffering concussion before resuming his innings of 92, faces a battle to be cleared to play in the third Test starting at Headingley on Thursday.

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West Indies vs India: Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and others with a point to prove in Test series

Ashish Peter 19/08/2019
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Rohit Sharma has a chance to consolidate his Test spot.

It is the season of Test cricket around the globe with the Ashes series between and England dominating all headlines over the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, another Test battle is set to begin in the Caribbean on Thursday with the West Indies and India about to lock horns in a two-match series.

It will be the first assignment for both teams in the inaugural World Test Championship and there will be 120 valuable points at stake across the two matches.

As the two sides prepare to square off, we look at the three players from each side who will be eager to put in a big performance in the upcoming series.

WEST INDIES

Rahkeem Cornwall

Cornwall picked up 54 first-class wickets in nine games in 2018-19.

Cornwall picked up 54 first-class wickets in nine games in 2018-19.

The stocky off-spinner used to weigh over 140kgs at one point in his professional career but he is now all set to make his Test debut for the hosts after consistently picking up wickets in the West Indies’ first-class tournament over the past three seasons.

Cornwall finished as the highest wicket-taker in the 2018-19 first-class season in the Caribbean with 54 scalps at an average of less than 18. The 26-year-old has also impressed against England A and India A recently in both first-class and List A cricket and he will be eager to leave his mark in the upcoming series if given the chance.

Cornwall is also a handy lower-order batsman and can chip in with some important runs.

Shamarh Brooks

It could be a Test debut at the age of 30 for Brooks who has been handed a maiden West Indies call-up following his impressive displays for Barbados and West Indies A in recent months.

An all-rounder who can bowl some handy leg-spin, Brooks has formerly been the captain of the West Indies U19 team before progressing through the ranks in domestic cricket.

It has been an unfulfilling senior career so far for the right-hander but he now has a chance to finally make his mark at the international level and he will be desperate to do so at any cost.

Shai Hope

Hope has failed to build on his 2017 Edgbaston twin tons.

Hope has failed to build on his 2017 Headingley twin tons.

The 25-year-old has always carried plenty of promise ever since he broke through as a junior cricketer, but his senior career hasn’t exactly materialised as hoped.

Hope has been able to step up finally in the ODI format over the past 18 months or so but he comes into the Test series on the back of a less-than-satisfactory World Cup and a woeful display in the recent ODI clashes against India.

Hope looked to be finally coming into his own in the Test format in 2017 when he registered tons in each innings of the Headingley clash against England to help pull off a sensational win for the Windies.

However, he has gone off the boil since with his average hovering around the 20-run mark in the past two years.

INDIA

Ajinkya Rahane

Rahane's reliability has been decreasing.

Rahane’s reliability has been decreasing.

The India middle-order stalwart no longer looks the reliable batsman he once was in overseas conditions with his performances dropping drastically over the last two years or so.

Batting averages of 34 and 30 respectively in 2017 and 2018 are hardly the kind of returns India want from their vice-captain and Rahane will need to arrest this slide as soon as possible if he wants to remain a part of the Test set-up.

He did register a desperately needed half-century in the ongoing warm-up clash against the West Indies A but Rahane will know that he needs a big performance in the two-Test series in the Caribbean.

Rohit Sharma

While Rahane is battling to save his place in the Test squad, Rohit Sharma will look to consolidate his after being handed an extended run in the red-ball format for India.

The India limited-overs deputy captain has made just six Test appearances since the turn of 2017 but his consistency in white-ball cricket has paved the way for another Test call-up.

Rohit averages a decent 39.63 in the format so far but his performances in overseas Tests, especially against the moving ball, have been suspect and he will need to allay those fears in the West Indies if he wants to become a permanent fixture in India’s red-ball set-up.

KL Rahul

Rahul has already been given a long rope in the Test side.

Rahul has already been given a long rope in the Test side.

The Karnataka-born batsman was excellent for India in Tests in 2016 and 2017 but it has all been downhill for him ever since. He was particularly disappointing in India’s spate of overseas tours last year and did nothing of note bar his one innings of 147 in a dead-rubber clash against England at The Oval.

It always seems to be the last chance saloon for Rahul but the selectors inexplicably find a way to call him back in to the side despite his deteriorating standards and form. There is no doubt that the right-hander is one of the most magnificent batsmen to watch when in full flow but those instances have been too few and far in between over the last two years.

With Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal and a suspended Prithvi Shaw all competing for the openers’ slot, time is definitely running out for Rahul to save his spot in the side.

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Ashes 2019: Not the best time to be an opener and other things learned from Lord's Test

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Warner's has a torrid time in the Ashes so far.

The second Ashes Test between England and Australia that ended in a draw on Sunday may have been badly affected by rain but it still produced plenty of exciting cricket.

We look at three things we learned from a fascinating clash that preserved Australia’s 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

Archer lays down Test marker

All teams want a genuinely fast bowler because speed can beat the reactions of even the best batsmen, especially if accompanied by late movement.

Jofra Archer, on the ground where he bowled the decisive Super Over that sealed England’s World Cup final win over New Zealand, marked his Test debut with five wickets and, in repeatedly topping speeds of 90 mph while bowling 44 overs, went some way to answering questions about his stamina raised by Australia coach Justin Langer.

And in striking Steve Smith on his unprotected neck during an innings of 92 – the first time this series the star Australia batsman was out for under a hundred – Archer may have delivered a telling blow.

Smith was unable to bat in the second innings because of a concussion that could rule him out of the third Test.

There are only four days between the last day at Lord’s and the first at Headingley, raising concerns that the Barbados-born Archer, like so many young quicks before him, could be over-bowled.

Former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop, urged caution by tweeting: “For the sake of the world game, England & (captain) Joe Root need to be more mindful of better managing Jofra Archer’s workload.

“Don’t ‘kill the goose that laid the golden egg’. We’ve seen this movie before.”

Opening up is hard to do

Australia opener David Warner scored over 600 runs at an average of nearly 72 during the recent World Cup.

Yet in four innings this Ashes, Warner has yet to reach double figures and has scored just 18 runs in total.

It is a graphic illustration of the difference between Test and one-day cricket.

The red Dukes ball in use for Tests in England tends to swing more than the white one deployed for one-day internationals, while the lack of fielding restrictions in the longer format mean captains can attack more with the new ball.

And a short gap between the World Cup and the Ashes meant batsmen involved in both events had little time to adjust to their different demands.

Warner has also been up against fine new-ball bowlers in the Ashes, with Stuart Broad alone dismissing him three times.

Nor is Warner the only Ashes opener struggling for runs.

Jason Roy scored over 400 runs at more than 64 as hosts England won the World Cup.

But he has found his debut Ashes series hard work, with just 40 runs in four innings so far.

Normally a middle-order batsman in first-class cricket, Roy has been getting out to shots that would be applauded in the one-day game – or at least excused as an occupational hazard – but are viewed as reckless in the context of a Test match.

Roy too has also been up against quality fast bowlers in the likes of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

More jeers than cheers

Steve Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft have all been booed repeatedly by English crowds in their first Test series since they each completed lengthy bans following a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

But when Smith had to retire hurt after being felled by Archer at Lord’s and again when he was eventually out, there were far more cheers than jeers, although one MCC member was ejected from the Lord’s Pavilion for allegedly booing him.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticised the booing, which may have sounded worse on television. But regrettably wherever a Test match is held, not everyone in a large crowd can be guaranteed to behave in sporting fashion.

Provided by Press Association Sports

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