Adaptability, picking the right personnel and reading pitches correctly in the absence of home ground advantage will be key to success at IPL 2020, according to the Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming.
“This season is going to be very different tactically,” Fleming told the Super Kings website. “With no real home ground advantage here, we’ve got to be very good at adapting to the conditions in each ground. We’ve got three different grounds (Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi) to assess and each ground has its own character and nuances, and we’ve just got to be good enough to pick the right team and get the right game plan to match that. It’s like every game is an away game.”
Apart from not having been able to train in Abu Dhabi – the venue of their tournament opener against the Mumbai Indians on Saturday – a lot of the Super Kings’ first-choice players – including Shane Watson, MS Dhoni , Ambati Rayudu and Deepak Chahar- have been away from the game longer than some others. Add to it the challenges of playing in Abu Dhabi without having seen the wicket or assessed the conditions – something Mumbai have had the chance to do because they’re based there.
“It’s one of the challenges of having to travel to Abu Dhabi – we’ve got to have to be very good on the day to have to assess the wicket and pick the right combination,” Fleming said. “One of the big challenges for IPL teams is to get the combinations right.
“There are a lot of skillful players that make the side, but there are also a lot of skillful players that don’t. Picking the right side for the right conditions is one of the great challenges and we’ve got a good record at that. But I must admit, going to Abu Dhabi without seeing the wicket or assessing the conditions is going to be one of the big challenges to start with.”
That said, Fleming also believes the Super Kings will be able to cover up for the lack of match time by their combined wealth of experience. For the record, Mumbai have come up trumps in the last two meetings between the sides. “We’ve got experienced players, and experienced players identify key times and that’s why they’ve done so well in their careers – that they can turn games, absorb pressure or just sum out the situation. That’s what experience is about and that’s why we value it so highly.
“And that’s why we’ve been able to get over the line in so many close games because the key player has been one with a lot of experience. And you also mix that with skill. You are conscious of having a skillful side and adding youth when we can and with that get the balance pretty right.”
The lead-up to the Super Kings’ campaign has been chaotic. Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh opted out of the season for different reasons while two players – Ruturaj Gaikwad and Deepak Chahar – along with a number of support staff members tested positive. Among all teams, the Super Kings have trained the least in the UAE, having only been able to begin on September 6 after extended quarantine periods. But Fleming doesn’t think this will be a disadvantage.
“It has been different, and that’s been part of the challenge – understanding the unknown,” Fleming said of their build-up. “We didn’t get off to a great start, with some positive Covid-19 cases, but I think we dealt with it very well.
“We were calm around our approach, looked after the players and staff very well, and the rest of the players were calm in the hotel room. There was a bit of anxiety wanting to get out and train. It is what it is, and the players dealt with it very well. On hindsight, the amount of pre-season training that we’ve done up to now, and the extra few days in the room, was probably a blessing.”
Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma, the Mumbai captain, doesn’t believe the past will have any bearing on how his team will perform in this year’s IPL though they had lost each of their five games in the UAE in 2014, the last time the tournament was played in the country.
“We didn’t have a great experience last time yes, but it’s a different team now,” Rohit said at the pre-tournament press conference on Thursday. “The thought process is different. Six years is a lot of time. Like I said, it’s about understanding pitches and conditions, that is crucial so we are putting a lot of emphasis on that.
“Eventually the pitches will play a big part, so understanding and adapting quickly is important. But yes, the past won’t play any part – it was just myself, Kieron Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah from that team. I think Bumrah played just one game. So the team is different, the staff is different [and] thought process is different. Looking forward to a great IPL.”
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. push back on claims exhibition bout won’t be a ‘real fight’
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. were once tied together for a possible heavyweight showdown when both were active professional boxers. Now, with both men in their 50s, they are set to meet in an exhibition fight on Nov. 28.
The two men participated in a press conference Thursday in anticipation of the fight, with both men talking up the importance of the fight and addressing their preparation at their advanced age.
“I think he looks awesome,” Jones said of recent footage of Tyson training in the gym. “He looks very good. I was very proud to see him bounce back the way he did. Most guys, at 54, they start counting themselves out. Think about it, when I came along, at 32 years old, you were considered an old guy who couldn’t box no more. Seeing Mike hit the pads and the body bag the way he’s doing it, it’s phenomenal. But, we’re freaks. That’s why this is such a big thing.”
Tyson said that he has been sparring, and has gone as long as seven rounds. The fight is an eight-round affair, featuring two-minute rounds, which Tyson took issue with because “the women fight two minutes.”
“I look at film of Roy when he was at his best because that’s the guy I anticipate fighting,” Tyson said. “I’m in the best shape. I boxed seven rounds so far and it keeps improving. I’m boxing younger guys and hungry guys and it’s showing me that, from the looks of things, I’m doing really well.”
California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster stated that the bout, which takes place at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, should not be confused with a “fight-fight” and that the fighters have been instructed to not go beyond “hard sparring.” Foster also said referee Ray Corona will be enforcing that neither man is to actively look for a knockout and will keep the intensity of the bout in check.
Both Tyson and Jones took issue with that line of thinking when asked how they will approach the fight under these guidelines.
“Listen, I don’t know what you’re talking about that it’s not a real fight,” Tyson said. “It’s Mike Tyson and Roy Jones and I’m coming to fight and I hope he’s coming to fight. That’s all you need to know.”
Jones doubled down on the thinking, stating, “First of all, if you think you’re going to get in the ring with Mike Tyson, the last guy to get an ‘exhibition’ with Mike got dropped in the first round. If you don’t know that, there’s something wrong with you. Who goes in the ring with the great, legendary Mike Tyson and thinks ‘Oh, this is an exhibition’? 12-ounce gloves? No headgear? Really? This is an exhibition? Come on, bro. Be real.”
The original plans with the CSAC included the fight not being scored. The fight has changed slightly, with the WBC entering the picture and implementing a remote scoring system while also putting up a “Frontline Championship” they created for the fight.
Asked why they would open up their exhibition to an “alphabet organization” like the WBC, especially in light of Floyd Mayweather’s recent comments that boxing is hurt by the number of belts in the sport, Jones became visibly upset.
“I don’t give a damn what nobody got to say. I do what I do, my business is my business,” Jones said. “I don’t care what [Mayweather] or nobody else says. It’s got nothing to do with him. This ain’t got nothing to do with him. He can stay in his lane and do what he’s got to do. Let me do what I do. Secondly, when I was fighting, I wasn’t like them. I went and got every belt possible in my weight class at the time. Mike did the same thing. We come from the old school. We want every belt you got, I don’t care what kind it is. It can be the Joe Petty Seafood belt. I want that. If you want to see me perform and you put a belt on the line? It’s like drugs, I can’t say no.
“It don’t mean nothing to him, maybe. But it means the world to me.”
Tyson didn’t have much to add, but did support Roy’s message, stating, “He said it all. It’s like drugs.”
Australia v India, 2020-21 – Cameron Green’s runs defy Justin Langer’s first impression
About the time Cameron Green was getting into the 190s for Western Australia in Adelaide, a fourth century in his most recent nine Sheffield Sheld matches, a mea culpa message buzzed through to the phone of the former selector Greg Chappell. It was from Australia’s coach, Justin Langer, who was finally ready to concede his first impressions of Green had been overtaken.
In fairness to Langer, that first impression had taken the shape of a zingy, swinging spell of pace bowling from Green at Bellerive in early 2017, when he snapped up 5 for 24 on his Shield debut for the state while batting at No. 8. Chappell, though, had remained steadfast in his belief that Green would ultimately be more valuable to Australian cricket as a batsman than a bowler, with the risk of losing that opportunity through the injuries so often suffered by young speedsters.
So Langer, a few days before selecting Green in Australia’s limited-overs squad to face India without seeing him even bowl a single competitive ball this season, reached out magnanimously to Chappell. “I texted Greg Chappell a couple days ago,” Langer said, “and I said ‘GC, wasn’t it me that was telling you what a great batsman Cameron Green was’ and I had a whole lot of smiley emojis, because Greg Chappell’s been telling me for two years ‘Cameron Green is brilliant, he is the best young batting talent’.
“[Back then] I said ‘mate he’s six foot seven, I saw him bowl to George Bailey in his first over and he’ll never bowl a better over in his whole career than he did’. When I first saw him bowl I thought his action was like a young Shaun Pollock, because it was just so simple, but then he grew a lot.
“I know he’s working hard on his action to ensure he stays healthy, but if Greg Chappell’s telling me he’s the best young talent he’s seen for a long time, and I’ve seen how he bowls, he’s potentially in the future a great all-round package. At the moment his batting speaks for itself and he’s bowling a few overs. But it’ll be a pretty good package won’t it, if he stays fit and healthy.”
Leaving aside a low score on a grassy pitch in the Shield game against Tasmania that began on Friday, Green has won plaudits from opposing captains, bowlers and team-mates for offering a maturity of approach that does not always seem the way of a 21-year-old. No less a judge than the Test captain Tim Paine has spoken warmly of Green’s awareness of what bowlers and captains are trying to do, and of the unruffled countenance that has allowed him to put together many hours at the crease.
“He bats long periods,” Langer said. “I know George Bailey’s really big on this as one of our new selectors, he bats time. Allan Border used to say ‘there’s a lot more time than you think young fella’, so there’s a lot of time in Test cricket, there’s a bit more time in one-day cricket. Obviously there’s less time in T20 and he was batting down the order for the Scorchers last year, which is a tough spot for anyone let alone a kid, but he’s ticking a lot of boxes at the moment.
“I go back to the point, competition’s healthy, he is banging really hard on the door, like Moises [Henriques] has been doing, and he deserves an opportunity as a specific replacement for Mitch [Marsh]. So they’re banging on the door hard, which is a positive thing.
“When I used to go play county cricket all those years ago, all the English guys used to say ‘in Australia you’ve got this great youth policy, you always pick these young players’ and they talk about Damien Martyn or Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke. But what I kept saying was ‘it’s not a youth policy, you just pick the guys who are playing the best cricket’. Cameron Green’s got, albeit in Sheffield Shield cricket, four hundreds in his last six or seven Shield games, so he’s a terrific young player.”
Expectations of course are now sky high, not least after Chappell himself labelled Green the best young talent he had seen come through since Ricky Ponting. But Langer is hopeful that the same temperament Green has displayed in the middle will be applied to dead-bat the dangers of thinking too far ahead, or letting the ego chase deliveries that the mind and hands would prefer to leave well alone.
“It tends to happen doesn’t it, the new kid on the block comes in and there’s high praise and people get carried away,” Langer said. “How does he handle it? He watches the ball as closely as he is now, he stays fit and healthy and he gets on with his job.
“That’s the hardest part actually of playing international cricket, eliminating the distractions, but that’s what mental toughness is about, he’s not going to have it all at the moment, it’s going to be a journey for a long time for him as it is with any young player. But this is all part of it, people will say ‘he’s the next future captain, he’s the next Ben Stokes, he’s the next this and this’, that’s why I tell all of them not to listen to any of it. If he wants to keep watching the ball, that’s all he needs to do.”
One additional Badgers player, two staff members test positive for COVID-19
The COVID-19 outbreak in the Wisconsin Badgers football program continues to grow.
The athletic department announced Thursday that one additional Badgers player and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 16 active COVID-19 cases in the program, including 15 positive tests since Oct. 24.
On Wednesday, Wisconsin canceled its Oct. 31 game against Nebraska after 12 people — six student athletes and six staff members, including head coach Paul Chryst — tested positive for the coronavirus.
All football activities have been paused for at least one week, slotting the team’s earliest possible return date at Nov. 4. Wisconsin’s next game on the schedule is Nov. 7 against Purdue at home. Based on CDC and Big Ten protocols, Chryst can potentially return to the Badgers in person on Nov. 7 following a 10-day quarantine period.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez received his results Thursday and tested negative for COVID-19.