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England captain Heather Knight and Australia wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy have called on the ICC to create “more centralised funds” that could help accelerate and spread the professionalisation of the women’s game.

Knight and Healy, two of the world’s premier all-format stars in the women’s game, underlined the need for the ICC to widen its role in addressing infrastructural inequalities in women’s cricket and increase the volume of cricket across more countries.

“As players, we understand that cricket countries around the world are in very different financial positions,” Healy and Knight wrote in the FICA Women’s Professional Cricket Global Employment Report 2020. This is a second such review conducted by FICA, after the inaugural edition was released in October 2018, two years after the female players were formally brought under the ambit of FICA.

“Having said that, there needs to be equal commitment from all countries to addressing barriers, and promoting and investing in the women’s game if we are to achieve gender equity on the global stage and in individual cricket countries,” they further wrote.

“At [the] global level, we think there is an opportunity for the ICC to prioritise increased and targeted investment in the game around the world, not just in global events. This could include for example more centralised funds to assist the professionalisation of the game in more countries and to ensure more cricket can be played.”

Healy and Knight’s recommendation threw into sharp focus the larger sense of uncertainty around the women’s game borne out by the 2020 report, a 31-page document published on Monday. As per the report, based on the findings of the 2019 FICA players’ online electronic survey, 46% of its respondents specifically highlighted remuneration as the foremost concern.

“Two-thirds of players feel insecure in their cricketing employment, whilst a further 81% would favour contract and job security over playing in different competitions. This anxiety is caused by limited, short-term and insecure contracts, with 82% of women cricketers currently on contracts that are one year or less in duration,” the report stated.

There has been increased broadcast exposure of global tournaments, leagues have flourished in Australia and England – first with KSL and now potentially with The Hundred. Yet, the study identifies women’s cricket as “an exclusive sport” as it comprises “a very small pool of players worldwide” at the elite level.

It puts the number of full-time professionals worldwide in 2018-19 at “just 119 (compared to over 400 professional male cricketers in England and Wales alone). Also, during the report period, there were a small number of semi-professional contracts available in just three countries: Australia, England and New Zealand.” This is down in part, according to the report, the “flight of talent” which typically sees a “worrying number of players who opt to leave the game.”

“Players often play cricket alongside their studies before going onto pursue professional careers elsewhere. This could manifest itself in a general lower standard of play as a consequence of a lack of competition for places, as well as an increasing ability gap between the top players and the rest,” the report said.

“The seven-week Kia Super League (KSL) tournament was the only semiprofessional structure below the national team, but it’s 90 contracted players were often forced to find a supplementary income to be able to participate in the competition.”

ODIs ‘are all-important’; Olympics desired

While most national boards and the ICC have through the past decade identified the T20 format as the most appropriate vehicle to promote and grow the women’s game, the review shed light on the players’ appetite for the 50-over game.

“In the absence of regular Test cricket,” the report stated, “and despite the continued emergence of T20, 63% of players view ODI’s as the most important format of the game. In 2018-19, only 39 women’s ODI’s took place (compared to 128 men’s) – that equates to just 21% of the scheduled women’s international cricket for that year.”

As far as Test cricket goes, though, the report doesn’t offer any specific insights on players’ stance on the gradual petering out of the longest format, especially when taking in account that in the review period – the 2018-19 season – the lack of an Ashes series meant no Test cricket was played by women. This, while total international fixtures in 2018 spiked to 186, more than doubling from 85 in 2017.

Additional findings in the report also underscored that 81% of survey respondents highlighted the inclusion of women’s cricket in the summer Olympics as something they would like to see in the near future.

“Along with cricket’s recent inclusion in the Commonwealth Games, and provided it fits in a well-structured global calendar, involvement in the Olympic Games would provide much-needed exposure as well as a boost to the amount of scheduled international women’s cricket on offer.”

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha

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Recent Match Report – Stars vs Strikers 40th Match 2020

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Adam Zampa picked up 5 for 17 in a match totally dominated by Melbourne Stars

Melbourne Stars 2 for 179 (Fletcher 89*, Valente 1-36) beat Adelaide Strikers 68 (Zampa 5-17) by 111 runs

Andre Fletcher has repaid Melbourne Stars’ faith in him with a stunning 89 not out before Adam Zampa claimed 5 for 17 to set up a huge 111-run victory over Adelaide Strikers at the MCG.

The Strikers were bowled out for just 68 chasing 180, their lowest total in BBL history, the third-lowest overall, and it was also the fourth-largest defeat by any team.

Fletcher had not passed 18 in the first nine matches in the tournament but he overcame a lack of strike in the first 10 overs to reach his first half-century in T20 cricket in more than 12 months before destroying the Strikers’ quicks in the Power Surge to set up a match-winning total of 2 for 179.

Fletcher revealed he received a phone call of encouragement from West Indies great Brian Lara a few days earlier, which inspired his innings.

He got good support from Glenn Maxwell (37 off 28) and Hilton Cartwright (30 not out off 17), though Cartwright’s innings possibly cost him a century. The Strikers attack lacked penetration without Rashid Khan and Peter Siddle, although Liam O’Connor and Daniel Worrall bowled tidily.

The Strikers then succumbed to the Stars’ spin trio as they raced through the overs with rain looming on the radar. Maxwell and Zahir Khan set it up in the Powerplay and finished with 4 for 31 from eight overs combined. Zampa then finished the job as the rain began to fall claiming his second T20 five-wicket haul.

Stoinis go-slow

It was a bizarre innings from Marcus Stoinis. He admitted to the media on Thursday that he had been struggling with how to build an innings under the new rules, having at times gone too hard in the four-over Powerplay and he even revealed he forgot about the Power Surge in the last game. Fletcher’s lean tournament has no doubt also played a part in his indecision. Stoinis faced 14 dots in total including 10 in Worrall’s first two overs. He has the confidence he can catch up but he never did, holing out to long-off to a borderline waist-high full toss from Danny Briggs for 13 off 26.

Fletcher faced just 15 balls and reached his highest total of the tournament of 22 while Stoinis was at the crease. Maxwell walked out at No.3 and avoided his third consecutive golden duck, but the Stars crawled to 1 for 57 after 10 overs with O’Connor stepping into Rashid’s enormous shoes and bowling and excellent four-over spell. However, he wasn’t able to take any wickets to expose the Stars’ middle order. Maxwell and Fletcher opted not to take the Power Surge despite both men being set at the start of the 15th over and Maxwell holed out to long-on at an inopportune time.

Spiceman runs hot

Fletcher hadn’t reached fifty in his last 30 T20 innings dating back to his century in the Bangladesh Premier League in 2019. Here, he got to his 50 off 36 balls at the end of the 16th and the relief on his face was palpable. The Stars took the Power Surge and Fletcher filled his boots. He torched Wes Agar and Worrall for four fours and two sixes as both quicks got their lengths horribly wrong delivering a mix of full tosses and length balls. Fletcher delivered a contemptuous no-look strike off Worrall over the long-on off the last ball of the Surge.

He was 82 not out with 12 balls left in the innings but only faced two more. Cartwright made 30 not out off 17 balls with two sixes, two fours, and three twos leaving Fletcher to watch at the other end. Fletcher finally got on strike last ball of the innings and deposited Briggs over the sightscreen. He was emotional as he walked off the ground and received a lengthy embrace from his skipper Maxwell. He later revealed that the emotion was for his late uncle.

Rain rush wrecks Strikers

With rain looming on the radar, Maxwell decided to race through three overs of spin in the Powerplay to get through five overs as quickly as possible. The gamble paid huge dividends as the Strikers slumped to 2 for 10. Alex Carey promoted himself to open with Phil Salt and both men fell cheaply. Salt gloved an attempted reverse sweep off Zahir to the keeper while Carey was clean bowled trying to launch Maxwell over long-on. Maxwell kept the spin attack rolling bowling just two overs of pace in the first 10 as the Stars defended just 57 to claim the Bash Boost point. Matt Renshaw and Jon Wells did not score a boundary off the spinners with Renshaw holing out to Zampa in the 10th over.

Zampa shrugs off shoulder concern

Zampa hurt his shoulder diving in the field and had to spend some time sitting on the dug-out when he wasn’t bowling. But it didn’t affect his legspin as he put on another masterclass. The damage had been done by Maxwell and Zahir but Zampa was still needed to close out the 10th over and secure the Bash Boost point. He was far too good for the Strikers tail claiming four of the last five wickets.

Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne

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Kaprizov’s OT winner lifts Wild past Kings in season opener

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LOS ANGELES — Kirill Kaprizov scored his first NHL goal with 1:13 remaining in overtime and finished with three points as the Minnesota Wild rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the season opener for both teams Thursday night.

The 23-year-old Russian scored on a breakaway, putting the puck past Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick. Kaprizov, who is the third Russian-born player to make his NHL debut with the Wild, also had a pair of assists. He was a fifth-round selection by Minnesota in 2015 before signing a two-year, entry-level contract last summer.

Minnesota trailed 3-1 after two periods before rallying. Jonas Brodin, Victor Rask and Marcus Foligno also scored for the Wild. Cam Talbot made 32 saves in his Minnesota debut.

Dustin Brown scored his 300th goal, Jeff Carter had a goal and an assist and Andreas Athanasiou also scored for Los Angeles. Quick stopped 23 shots.

Brown got his milestone goal with 2:55 remaining in the second on the power play with a wrap-around that put the Kings in front by two goals.

The Kings, who were one of seven teams that missed the playoffs, were playing their first game since March 11. They were the league’s hottest team with seven straight wins before last season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Minnesota was playing its first game since Aug. 7, after it lost to Vancouver in four games in the best-of-five qualifying round in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Talbot had a rough game in his Wild debut. Talbot, who signed a three-year contract last July, fell to 7-10 in 17 career starts against Los Angeles.

UNAVAILABLE

Minnesota G Alex Stalock, along with Los Angeles D Kurtis MacDermid, G Cal Petersen and Sean Walker

BUSINESS TRIP

The Wild remarked before the game how strange it felt walking through their largely empty hotel across the street from Staples Center, with no activity at the adjacent LA Live complex, either. There was no team meal, just grab-and-go food for coaches and players to take to their rooms and eat on their own.

“I packed a lot more recovery stuff this year,” Talbot said. “More sweatpants. Less jeans. You can’t really go anywhere, so it’s just comfy clothes and stuff to keep you entertained in the room.”

WHAT’S NEXT

The teams will meet again on Saturday night. Eight of Los Angeles’ first 21 games are against Minnesota and the season series will be wrapped up by the end of February. The Wild are one of four Central Division teams who are part of the reconfigured West Division this season.

“Adjustments will come into play on both sides but saying that these early games are more about us,” said Kings coach Todd McLellan about playing teams in back-to-back games for most of the season. “It is about doing things in our world before picking things apart about other teams.”



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Evander Holyfield wants to fight Mike Tyson for a third time: ‘No more excuses’

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Evander Holyfield heard about the hype behind a 54-year-old Mike Tyson returning to the ring to fight a 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr. and decided that he wanted in on the action. The former undisputed heavyweight champion has called out Iron Mike for one last bout between the two middle-aged men.

“No more excuses,” said Holyfield in a statement, per Reuters. “This is the fight that must happen for both our legacies. Saturday night you said you were ready to fight me, so sign the contract and get in the ring, Tyson. The world is waiting and it’s on you now. I’m ready.”

If there’s anyone who understands the magnitude of the draw these two fighters can still bring, it’s Holyfield. Not only does the boxer keep his ear to the ground on such things, but Tyson once helped it get there in one of their two famous bouts. The first Tyson-Holyfield fight ended in an 11th round TKO for Holyfield, while the second infamously ended when Tyson was disqualified for biting a chunk of Holyfield’s ear off.

Holyfield offered up his services to fight Tyson in his return to the ring, but promoters went with Jones Jr. instead. The 58-year-old appears to be using his being spurned as motivation to get this second comeback fight for Tyson to happen.

“My side tried to make the fight happen and we got nothing but excuses,” Holyfield’s statement continued. “Now I can see why he wanted a tune-up fight before thinking about fighting me. Roy Jones was a good local opponent for Mike but a fight with me would be a global event and the only fight that anyone wants to see is a fight between us.

“There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t make it happen.”



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