Ch takes game to new level

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Cricket - Vipers Storm South­ern Western Cen­tral Sparks Thun­der’s East Stars Sun­ris­ers. South

Eng­land v Pak­istan

(prob­a­ble): JM Bairstow,

T Ban­ton, DJ Malan, EJG Mor­gan (capt), JL Denly, SW Billings (wkt), Moeen Ali, DJ Wil­ley, CJ Jor­dan, TK Cur­ran, AU Rashid.

(prob­a­ble): Babar Azam (capt), Fazhar Za­man, Haider Ali, Mo­ham­mad Hafeez, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mo­ham­mad Rizwan (wkt), Imad Wasim, Wa­hab Riaz, Haris Rauf, Sha­heen Afridi.

M Burns, D Millns.

de­liv­er­ies for six – more than a six ev­ery eight balls. He is now in rare ter­rain: a bats­man hit­ting al­most as many sixes as fours.

In bas­ket­ball, at­tempt­ing a three – rather than a two from closer to the rim – is re­garded an­a­lyt­i­cally as the savvi­est shot. Some­times in T20, the pay-off of a six – if there is a short bound­ary or wind in the bats­man’s favour – makes a max­i­mum the shrewdest shot to at­tempt.

Mor­gan has a bril­liant ca­pac­ity to size up when the six is the best op­tion. In the third T20 in South Africa, he smote his fifth ball for six and hit seven sixes in 22 balls. He did not hit a four. Six max­i­mums were over the same short leg-side bound­ary, which Mor­gan tar­geted with cal­cu­lated ruth­less­ness.

This is dar­ing and un­in­hib­ited, yes, but it is also smart cricket. Like Kieron Pol­lard, the West Indies cap­tain, Mor­gan is at the apex of his game, a crick­eter brim­ming with T20 knowl­edge who mar­ries won­der­ful ball-strik­ing with shrewd­ness.

While both men at­tack with sa­ga­cious se­lec­tiv­ity, their games also em­brace what an­a­lysts have long em­pha­sised: most bats­men in T20 are too cau­tious. So be­ing bolder is both ag­gres­sive and play­ing the num­bers. As Mor­gan has said: “Peo­ple talk about tak­ing risks all the time and T20 cricket be­ing so risky. And nat­u­rally you don’t take as high a risk as you should and as data tells you to.” Part of Mor­gan’s

bril­liance now is tak­ing as high a risk as the data tells him to.

His au­dac­ity is now also the tem­plate for re­li­able run-scor­ing. He has al­ways been ca­pa­ble of py­rotech­nics against pace at the death. With next year’s T20 World Cup in In­dia in mind, his game against spin has soared to new heights. In all T20s, he av­er­aged 18 with a strike rate of 114 against spin from 2015-18, but 53 with a strike rate of 152 since.

At times it has been tempt­ing to de­pict Mor­gan as a sort of white­ball Mike Brear­ley. Yet he is a white­ball ti­tan even if his cap­taincy is ig­nored. Mor­gan is Eng­land’s high­est in­ter­na­tional run-scorer in both one-day and T20 cricket. In­deed, he is a bats­man of such pedi­gree that, de­spite man­ag­ing only a brief Test ca­reer, only 10 crick­eters have ever scored more in­ter­na­tional runs than him for Eng­land.

For all his achieve­ments as Eng­land cap­tain, Mor­gan’s essential great­ness as a white-ball bats­man has never been so clear.

Eng­land all-rounder Nat Sciver recorded the first hun­dred of the Rachael Hey­hoe Flint Tro­phy and claimed two wick­ets to help North­ern Di­a­monds to a nine-run vic­tory over Light­ning.

Com­ing to the crease with her side four for one in the sec­ond over, Sciver hit 104 off 116 balls, in­clud­ing 13 fours, to help her side post 226 for nine from their 50 overs.

Her in­nings was all the more im­por­tant with Light­ning cap­tain Kathryn Bryce dis­man­tling the rest of the North­ern Di­a­monds’ top or­der cheaply be­fore her fifth wicket even­tu­ally came in the 48th over when she bowled Sciver to fin­ish with fig­ures of five for 29. Bryce then top-scored for her side with an un­beaten

68 but, de­spite open­ers Tammy Beau­mont and Sarah Bryce also hit­ting half-cen­turies, the lower or­der were not able to get Light­ning over the line. In ad­di­tion to Sciver, Jenny Gunn and Lin­sey Smith also took two wick­ets in Di­a­monds’ sec­ond suc­ces­sive vic­tory.

Mean­while, in the South Group, Tara Nor­ris (right) took four for 45 in eight overs as beat arch ri­vals

by 22 runs. Storm’s re­ply to Vipers’ 239 all out looked to be on course as Heather Knight and cap­tain So­phie Luff put on 130 for the sec­ond wicket fol­low­ing the early loss of Fi Mor­ris for four. But a bat­ting col­lapse, sparked by an in­spired spell from Nor­ris, cost the hosts seven wick­ets in 11 overs while scor­ing 31 runs, and they were even­tu­ally bowled out for 239 in­side 48 overs. Ear­lier, cap­tain Ge­or­gia Adams, Danni Wy­att and Char­lie Dean hit half-cen­turies for the Vipers, who top their group. se­cured their first win of the tour­na­ment, suc­cess­fully chas­ing down 135 to­tal with four wick­ets re­main­ing. Marie Kelly an­chored the in­nings with an un­beaten 59 af­ter Issy Wong and Gwe­nan Davies had ear­lier starred with the ball, tak­ing three wick­ets each af­ter Thun­der opted to bat. There was also a first vic­tory for as Eng­land’s Sophia Dunk­ley plun­dered 97 off 116 balls in their 77run win over De­spite cap­tain Amara Carr’s 99, the Sun­ris­ers were all out for 212.

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