BBL skipper’s ‘s–t’ SCG pitch sledge sparks Test concerns, Rabada told to study Cummins, Williamson tons up

Melbourne Renegades captain Nic Maddinson has slammed the SCG pitch for his side’s 34-run loss to the Sydney Sixers in the BBL.

Chasing the Sixers’ 8/149, the Renegades were never in the hunt to be bowled out for 115, their second consecutive score of below 120 in the tournament.

Speaking after the match, Maddinson blamed the innings on the pitch, which he bluntly described as ‘pretty s–t’.

“I thought it was one of the worst T20 wickets I’ve seen for a while,” he said after the game.

“It’s been a little bit like that all competition where we’ve had some pretty tricky wickets.

“It looked quite challenging against the seam bowlers. It’s a worn wicket with a few cross cracks and it was quite patchy and it made for some variable bounce and [was] two-paced.

“When you’ve got guys who can bowl 140 [km/h] with great change-ups and great skills, it makes it pretty challenging.

“I don’t think the wickets have been fantastic across the competition, and it seems to be a common theme among most teams where the pitches probably aren’t as fast or consistent as what they’d probably like.”

Among the most concerning moments was a sharp riser from Ben Dwarshuis that struck Renegades veteran Aaron Finch on the hand, though he was able to bat on after receiving medical attention.

Adding to the concern is the looming Test match at the venue between Australia and South Africa, which starts in less than a week’s time on January 4.

The quality of pitches has already caused controversy this summer, with the Gabba wicket slammed for being too bowler-friendly after the Aussies wrapped up victory over the Proteas in just two days.

The Sixers’ win was set up by opener Josh Phillippe’s 40-ball 55, the only batter on either side to truly master the conditions.

Left-arm quick Ben Dwarshuis (4-17) set the tone for the Renegades’ innings with a blistering opening over to their prized recruit Martin Guptill.

The New Zealand white-ball star failed to make an impact on his Renegades debut, playing and missing at three balls then nicking a tentative drive to be caught behind for a duck.

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Skipper Nic Maddinson (1) followed shortly after to leave the Renegades reeling at 2-8 in the fourth over, until veterans Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh cautiously rebuilt their innings with a 55-run stand.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 28: Josh Philippe of the Sixers bats during the Men's Big Bash League match between the Sydney Sixers and the Melbourne Renegades at Sydney Cricket Ground on December 28, 2022 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Jason McCawley - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Josh Philippe. (Photo by Jason McCawley – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Marsh was typically edgy early but gradually looked more comfortable in his first match of the season after overcoming a calf injury until being clean bowled by Hayden Kerr for 28 off 25 balls.

It was left to Finch (36 off 35 balls) to blast the Renegades to an unlikely win but the national T20 captain was caught hitting out as the required run rate soared toward 12 an over.

The victory was all but sealed when Sean Abbott took a diving catch in the deep to dismiss Will Sutherland (13) just after the all-rounder had smashed a huge six off Dwarshuis and started to look dangerous.

The Sixers (3-2) have now won three consecutive matches – all at the SCG – to resurrect their season, while the Renegades (3-2) have lost two in a row after their promising start.

Renegades skipper Nic Maddinson won the bat flip and sent the hosts in but Philippe turned to his home ground expertise on the way to a 15th BBL fifty.

The 25-year-old frequently sought out a short boundary that was a mere 55m from the pitch, clearing the fence twice in a Mujeeb Ur Rahman over on the way to his crucial half-century.

The Renegades claimed the momentum after Philippe scooped a slower ball from Sutherland straight to Akeal Hosein, while Kane Richardson also restricted the hosts with 2-22, but their batting line-up was unable to live up to their reputations on the night.

Rabada told to study Cummins

South Africa’s bowling coach Charl Langeveldt has challenged Proteas spearhead Kagiso Rabada to bowl better on flat pitches.

Rabada, the world’s leading Test wicket-taker in 2022, was well below his best at the MCG as Australia piled on 8-585 to secure a 386-run first-innings lead.

The 27-year-old finished with figures of 2-144 as South Africa were forced to field for 145 overs.

“I think ‘KG’ (Rabada) wasn’t on song, but if I can single him out, and a few of the other guys in periods we didn’t ball well as a unit,” Langeveldt said.

Langeveldt urged Rabada to study Australia captain Pat Cummins as an example of a bowler with consistency.

“For KG, he’s a wicket-taker, he always has that ability to take wickets for us, the challenge for him is to be able to control that,” Langeveldt said.

“I think Cummins when he started off he leaked a few runs but then he got consistent and he was aggressive and that’s his (Rabada’s) challenge going forward.

“He is one of the leading wicket takers in in red-ball cricket but going forward playing on flatter wickets I think that’s going to be the challenge for him.”

South Africa will resume on Thursday at 1-15, still requiring another 371 to make Australia bat again in the Boxing Day Test.

Brown online for ICC honour

Aussie fast bowler Darcie Brown has been shortlisted for the ICC Women’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year award.

The 19-year-old South Australian has been nominated alongside England all-rounder Alice Capsey, 18, and India duo Renuka Singh, 26, and Yastika Bhatia, 22.

Brown is among the most exciting fast-bowling talents in the game and picked up 24 international wickets in 2022 – playing a key role in Australia’s Ashes, World Cup and Commonwealth Games triumphs.

The ICC citation said that after “picking up a wicket in each innings of Australia’s thrilling Test match with England, Brown then turned her attention to the ODI series as part of the Women’s Ashes, taking 4-34 to decimate the old foe in Adelaide. ”

It continued: “Brown emulated the form at the Cricket World Cup with two three-wicket hauls against New Zealand and India on the way to the team’s trophy-winning campaign.

“In the shortest format, Brown was a consistent performer, taking wickets in 10 of her 13 appearances, including all but one of Australia’s Commonwealth Games campaign.”

Brown represented the Australia Under-19 side when she was 15 and signed her first deal with Adelaide Strikers at 16 – the youngest player for the club across the male and female programs.

Tons of fun for Kiwis against Pakistan

Kane Williamson’s first international century for almost two years put New Zealand on top in the first cricket Test against Pakistan.

Williamson capitalized on two missed stumpings on Wednesday to hit an unbeaten 105 as the Black Caps reached 6-440 at stumps on the third day, a lead of two runs.

Tom Latham also made his 13th Test century, becoming the first New Zealand opener to achieve the feat, and Devon Conway hit 92 as the visitors dominated the spinners on a slow turning wicket.

Mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed picked up 3-143 and left-arm slow bowler Nauman Ali took 2-137 but neither could wrestle control away from the batters.

Wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed, making a Test comeback after four years, fumbled stumping opportunities when Williamson was on 15 and 21, while the former skipper also overturned an lbw ruling against Abrar through a television referral.

It was Williamson’s first international century since his 238 against Pakistan in Hamilton in January 2021. He stepped down from the captaincy in his team’s first Test tour to Pakistan in 20 years,

Tom Blundell (47) and Daryl Mitchell (42) played useful knocks and shared half-century stands with Williamson against some scrappy Pakistan fielding.

Blundell was dropped low down by Imam-ul-Haq at short midwicket before paceman Mohammad Wasim had him lbw late in the day.

Mitchell, who scored three centuries and two half-centuries in the three-Test series against England in June, smashed four successive boundaries off Wasim after Pakistan took the second new ball.

Abrar removed Mitchell and Latham to reverse sweeps as the ball ballooned to close-in fielders after hitting their gloves.

Captain Babar Azam was among at least three Pakistan players hit by a virus and didn’t take the field at the start. He stayed off until half an hour after lunch.

Latham raised his 100 with a single off Abrar before he fell for 113.

This is New Zealand’s first Test tour to Pakistan since 2002 and Karachi will also host the second match next week after Multan was ruled out because of weather concerns. The two-Test series will be followed by three ODIs, also in Karachi.

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