Smith confident over state of MCG wicket for Boxing Day Test

By Sports Desk December 09, 2019

Steve Smith is backing Melbourne Cricket Ground curator Matt Page to deliver an acceptable wicket for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand.

The final match at the MCG before that contest - the Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia - had to be cancelled on Saturday due to an unsafe pitch.

Umpires called off day one after Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were struck multiple times amid unpredictable bounce.

Cricket Australia promised to ensure there is a wicket of "international standard" for December 26, though, and Smith has no doubt Page will do the necessary hard work.

"I'm sure they'll produce something good for us on Boxing Day," the Australia superstar said ahead of the first Test in Perth this week.

"It's a really fine line with that wicket. Pagey is a very good curator - he'll be working as hard as he can to try to get a wicket that is suitable for bat and ball.

"These guys have a really tough job. They've tried a lot down in Melbourne but not been able to get something that is a bit more bowler friendly.

"They're going to work hard over the next couple of weeks to get us a good wicket for Boxing Day."

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  • Anderson strikes twice as England edge weather-affected first day Anderson strikes twice as England edge weather-affected first day

    England had the better of a weather-affected first day of the second Test against Pakistan as the tourists were limited to 126-5 at the Rose Bowl.

    In stormy conditions in humid Hampshire, Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat, but James Anderson (2-35) struck early to dismiss Shan Masood for only one.

    Dom Sibley and Rory Burns dropped catches as Abid Ali (60) and Azhar Ali (20) took Pakistan to 78-1, though the captain then fell to Anderson - who this week denied talk that he could be set to retire.

    England did further damage in between rain breaks – Sam Curran, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes striking before play was finally ended by bad light with only 45.4 overs possible.

    It was advantage England at the close on a day which saw Zak Crawley replacing Ben Stokes after the vice-captain flew to New Zealand to be with his family and Curran coming in for Jofra Archer

    Questions were asked over Anderson's place in the side following a disappointing showing in England's stunning victory at Old Trafford, but England's record Test wicket-taker soon let his class do the talking, swinging a brilliant delivery straight into Masood's pads.

    Abid should have been dismissed in the next over, only for Sibley to put him down after Broad drew an edge.

    Azhar's luck was in when the ball trickled back and hit the stumps without dislodging the bails, before Burns dropped Abid at second slip as Pakistan made it to an early, rain-enforced lunch without suffering further damage.

    Pakistan's luck ran out shortly after the restart – the probing Anderson drawing an edge from Azhar, with Burns holding on this time.

    Another rain break followed, with dark skies forcing tea to be taken early, but Pakistan resumed brightly – Abid passing 50 in nervy fashion with a thin edge which scuttled between fielders.

    Successive fours took Pakistan beyond 100, yet Abid was soon on his way back to the pavilion when he nicked a delivery from Curran to Burns.

    Sibley then took a low catch to send Asad Shafiq (5) walking, before Fawad Alam – making his first Test appearance since 2009 – was trapped lbw by Woakes, with England successfully reviewing before the weather closed in to halt the day's play.

     

    Evergeen Anderson responds to his doubters

    It took Anderson, who came in for criticism after posting poor bowling figures of 1-97 in Manchester last week, just eight deliveries to dismiss Masood, with the 38-year-old striking Pakistan's opener bang in front.

    His second wicket was another fantastic delivery, drawing Azhar into a flick outside of his off stump, as the seamer moved just eight shy of 600 Test wickets.

    Azhar's troubles in England continue

    Pakistan's captain scored 0 and 18 in his two innings in the first Test, and despite facing 85 deliveries on Thursday, only managed 20 runs before he succumbed to Anderson.

    Azhar came in for criticism after England's stunning turnaround in the first match of the series and really needs to start contributing with the bat to ease the pressure on him.

  • Who failed West Indies rising star Shaquana Quintyne? Who failed West Indies rising star Shaquana Quintyne?

    Seven years ago I was watching this T20 series involving the hosts West Indies women, England women and New Zealand women in Barbados.

    The West Indies won the triangular tournament in which Deandra Dottin was named MVP. Stafanie Taylor was named player of the final as West Indies defeated England by a resounding eight wickets.

    However, during that tournament, a 17-year-old girl impressed me, and I just knew she was going to be a superstar.

    Against England, Shaquana Quintyne almost single-handedly won a match for the West Indies that we had absolutely no business winning. England were 69 without loss, chasing 141 to win with openers Charlotte Edwards, England’s skipper and the number two batter in the world at that time, and Lauren Winfield going great guns.

    Shaquana, however, with her leg-spin, picked up both openers and also added the world’s best batter at the time Sarah Taylor as another scalp.

    The much-vaunted England batting wilted under the pressure, and the girl from Barbados had stolen my heart and garnered admirers all over the world as she picked up a career best 5-16 off 4 overs. I still remember her beaming child-like toothy smile during that game.

    The following March, she was ranked the second-best bowler in all of T20 cricket.

    But this story does not have a happy ending.

    Shaquana Quintyne, though not formally, for all intents, at just 24 years old, is retired. She cries herself to sleep.

    She cries not just because of the pain she endures in her leg but she’s haunted by a future she now knows she will never have.

    In March 2017 while fielding in a West Indies squad practice match at the Coolidge cricket ground in Antigua, Shaquana did some damage to her right knee. She felt the pain immediately.

    What happened afterwards was a laid back, negligent response to her plight.

    After all, what does a 21-year-old girl know about serious injury? It must be an exaggeration. She’s fine. Give her ice and Cataflam, that’ll do it.

    Neither the Cataflam nor the ice worked.

    A month later, when the pain became unbearable, she took it upon herself to get an MRI scan done. And the scan showed she had a full-blown posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) grade three tear. Then and only then did the medical team of the then West Indies Cricket Board take it upon themselves to advise her to have the urgent surgery needed… three months later in Jamaica.

    And so the up-and-coming star, who was at this time, the captain of the Barbados team, had to go under the knife on June 8, 2017, and do surgery, (by a WICB recommended doctor) which could take her out of the action for about a year.

    However, while in Jamaica in the immediate aftermath of her release from the hospital, she experienced more pain. Ripped stitches and blood made for a dramatic scene at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel before she was rushed back to the hospital.

    And although she was put on a first-class flight from Jamaica to Barbados, one week after that intrusive surgery, it wouldn’t have helped being on a plane for 12 hours, and in high altitude making stops in Antigua and Trinidad.

    Back in Barbados… more pain. Shaquana was told it was all in her mind.

    However it was clear she needed another surgery.

    And four months later, an independent surgeon from Barbados, removed one of the screws implanted and found out that the graft from the first surgery did not take hold. The doctor also noticed her right knee was not positioned properly back into the socket. There was nothing the doctor could do for Shaquana then and there. The recommendation was to go to Canada.

    By the time the third surgery came around in Canada in April of 2018 at the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, the doctor informed her that based on the damage in her knee, and the lack of cartilage, she would not play cricket again.

    And this is when the support of Shaquana by Cricket West Indies stopped.

    Previously, according to the board, the Total and Permanent Disablement policy, which did not exist for the women’s team in 2017 was extended to the young Bajan, in light of her injury.

    Since the third operation in Canada, however, she has had to fend for herself. She went under the knife for a fourth time, in Canada where she spent six months in rehab. In total her expenses have exceeded US$30,000.

    There has been radio silence from Cricket West Indies since June 14, 2018 under the previous administration led by Dave Cameron. Not a call. Not a bit of inquisition. Not a care in the world. And nothing has changed under the new administration led by Ricky Skerritt.

    I once had empathy for sporting associations which, based on the economic climate in the Caribbean, can do little to help athletes. However it is bordering on cruel to totally abandon one of your brightest stars, a young star, a girl, in her hour of need.

    The call by chairman of selectors Courtney Browne informing her she would not have been offered a central contract for 2018 to 2019 despite the fact she was injured on the job, wreaks of the injustice many in this world are fighting against today. At the first opportunity, she was forsaken.

    Where is the West Indies Players Association in all this? Their last call to her was on her birthday in January of 2019… wishing her all the best. No solid representation from an association of which she is still a member.

    There is no argument which can be made stating that enough was done. The loyalty of our regional cricketers should never be questioned until this travesty is addressed.

    Who failed Shaquana Quintyne? There are so many dirty hands at the moment.

    Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • 'CPL will miss fans'- but COO Hall encouraged by increased global viewership demand 'CPL will miss fans'- but COO Hall encouraged by increased global viewership demand

    Caribbean Premier League (CPL) COO Michael Hall has revealed the competition’s delight at increased interest in viewership demand, despite the scaled down nature of this season’s tournament.

    With the region and globe disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus this year’s edition of the tournament will be held in Trinidad and Tobago.  The event, which will get under way August 18, will be played in a bio secure environment and without fans, which Hall admits is a big challenge.

    “We will be no different than any other sporting event that has taken place since the pandemic.  Is it going to be the same, ‘absolutely not’,” Hall told the Mason and Guest radio program.

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    “I don’t know how much of a factor (no spectators) that is in players performances.  I’ve always heard that the really great athletes shut out the crowd and focus, so I don’t know. But are we going to miss the fans, absolutely there are the lifeblood of the tournament,” he added.

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    The CPL will be the first T20 tournament played since the start of the pandemic.

     

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