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Cricket Buzz: Australia bowling coach Saker resigns

Last updated on: February 07, 2019 18:17 IST
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Australia bowling coach David Saker has resigned less than three months before the team's World Cup title defence in England.

Governing body Cricket Australia said Saker, who succeeded Craig McDermott in 2016, had resigned "effective immediately" and would be replaced by Troy Cooley for upcoming one-day international series against India and Pakistan.

Australia bowling coach David Saker. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

While Australia completed a dominant 2-0 Test series win over Sri Lanka earlier this week, the team's bowlers have been under fire during a disappointing home summer.

They were upstaged by India's potent seamers in a 2-1 Test series loss to Virat Kohli's team, Australia's first defeat to an Asian side on home pitches.

Head coach Justin Langer said he and Saker had been talking about his position for several months.

"David and I have had ongoing discussions over the past nine months about his role with the team, and we agreed it’s the right time to head in a different direction in the best interests of the team," Langer said in a statement on Thursday.

Saker took the unusual step of publicly criticising his bowlers in the fourth and final Test against India in Sydney last month, revealing discord with staff over tactics.

He finishes with a mixed record, having helped Australia to big Test series wins at home to Pakistan (2016/17) and England (2017/18) but also having overseen demoralising home defeats to South Africa (2016/17) and India recently.

Saker said he had enjoyed "working closely with a great group of fast bowlers" and would look forward to a new coaching role.

The 52-year-old enjoyed his greaTest international successes in charge of England's bowling, helping Andrew Strauss's side to a breakthrough Ashes win in Australia in 2010/11 and Alastair Cook's team to a rare Test series win in India in 2012/13.

CA said it would confirm the coaching set-up before the World Cup starts in England at the end of May.

Leach tells England to improve, not complain about pitches

England must prepare their batsmen to handle different types of pitches and not just complain about unfamiliar tracks if they are to be more consistent overseas, spinner Jack Leach has said.

England suffered a 10-wicket defeat to the West Indies in the second Test last week as their batsmen struggled to cope with the variable bounce on a green Antigua wicket, managing scores of 187 and 132 in two innings.

That display followed another batting failure in the first Test at Barbados, where the tourists were bundled out for 77 and 246 to lose by 381 runs on a flat wicket.

"We need to challenge people to be better at cricket rather than complain about pitches," left-arm spinner Leach, who missed the first two Tests, told British media.

"We need players to experience different surfaces.

"I don't know if that comes from the top or the counties, but it's a big thing. There are very few times where you spend 150 overs in the field and it's a batting paradise."

Leach, who has honed his skills on a Taunton pitch that offers turn, picked up 18 wickets as England completed a 3-0 sweep at Sri Lanka last November.

However, the 27-year-old said England had a tendency to view spinning wickets negatively.

"But if it's seaming around we're not too bothered. That needs to be addressed, how they mark pitches," he added.

"So as much as I think spinning pitches are important, playing on flat ones, too. You can't do things you haven't practised before."

The third Test begins in St Lucia on Saturday.

England Lions reach 303-5 against India A on Day 1

England Lions overcame a mid-innings stutter to reach 303 for 5 at stumps on day one of the first unofficial Test against India 'A' in Wayanad.

Sent into bat by home skipper Ankit Bawne, the Lions got off to a solid start with openers Ben Duckett (80) and Max Holden (26) sharing a 82-run stand in 23.3 overs.

Duckett, in particular, played with a lot of assurance as the visitors negotiated the opening hour without any loss.

Navdeep Saini struck the first blow in the 24th over when he had Holden nicking a delivery to keeper K S Bharat.

Sam Hain then joined Duckett and added 44 runs before the opener was bowled by Shardul Thakur with a delivery that came in.

Duckett hit 15 fours during his 118-ball knock.

Hain held fort even as Test discard Ollie Pope (8) and captain Sam Billings (9) fell with India A fighting back.

Kerala All-rounder Jalaj Saxena then ended Hain's 167-ball vigil, having him caught behind for 61.

Steven Mullaney (39) and Will Jack (40) then defied the India 'A' bowlers, mixing defence with some attractive shots, to add 65 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket partnership.

Saini was the best bowler for the home team with 2 for 57, while Thakur, Saxena and Avesh Khan scalped a wicket each.

Brief scores: England Lions 303 for 5 in 90 overs (Ben Duckett 80, Sam Hain 61; N Saini 2/57).

Rahane to lead Rest of India against Ranji champions Vidarbha, Rahul to lead India A vs Lions

India Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will lead the Rest of India side against Ranji Trophy champions Vidarbha in the Irani Cup match to be played in Nagpur from February 12-16.

A day later, Test opener KL Rahul will lead India 'A' in the second unofficial 'Test' against the England Lions at Wayanad.

The Rest of India side's batting line-up bears a formidable look with a lot of current India players in the mix.

Apart from Rahane, there will be other senior internationals like Mayank Agarwal, who impressed against Australia in the recent Test series, Hanuma Vihari, Shreyas Iyer along with fringe players like wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan and off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham.

Saurashtra keeper-batsman Snell Patel, who scored a hundred in the Ranji final and left-arm spinner Dharmendra Jadeja, with fifty-plus wickets, have also made the cut.

As has become the norm now, both Rest of India and India 'A' squad have wrist spinners. Rajasthan's Rahul Vhahar is in the Rest squad while Punjab's Mayank Markande is in the A squad.

UP's Ankit Rajpoot, Karnataka's Ronit More, Kerala's Sandeep Warrier and Rajasthan's left-armer Tanveer ul Haq will make the four-pronged pace attack, rewarded for their good show in Ranji Trophy.

Rest of India squad: Ajinkya Rahane (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Anmolpreet Singh, Hanuma Vihari, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Krishnappa Gowtham, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ankit Rajpoot, Tanveer Ul-Haq, Ronit More, Sandeep Warrier, Rinku Singh, Snell Patel

India A squad: KL Rahul (Captain), AR Easwaran, Priyank Panchal, Ankeet Bawne, Karun Nair, Ricky Bhui, Siddhesh Lad, K.S. Bharat (wicket-keeper), Shahbaz Nadeem, Jalaj Saxena, Mayank Markande, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Varun Aaron. 

Mulder gets South Africa Test call-up for Sri Lanka series

South Africa have called up uncapped all-rounder Wiaan Mulder to their squad for the two-Test series against Sri Lanka that starts next week.

The 20-year-old, who was previously included in the squad for last year's series against Australia but has yet to make his Test debut, was sidelined by an Achilles injury from September to January.

His inclusion is the only addition to the squad that scored a clean sweep over Pakistan in their three-Test series in December and January.

"Wiaan has been part of our strategic thinking in developing a batting all-rounder for the Test squad for some time," head selector Linda Zondi said in a statement on Thursday.

"His injury came at an unfortunate time and we are gradually working him back into the Proteas set-up.

"We never want to rush players back from injury because that can be counter-productive, but he has now had a couple of good weeks of action in the four-day domestic series.

"After the convincing victory against Pakistan the selectors are looking to exercise consistency in the squad and at the same time to strengthen it through the inclusion of Mulder," Zondi added.

Squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn.

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