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World Cup call paves the way for summer like no other

first_img… CA committed to completing a full international summer, but concedes the schedule could change again given the global uncertaintyBy Andrew RamseyTHE International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to postpone this year’s planned men’s T20 World Cup has afforded cricket authorities worldwide greater clarity for scheduling purposes and enables Cricket Australia (CA) to focus fully on delivering its 2020-21 programme.While the uncertainty that enshrouds all event planning amid the global coronavirus pandemic means it is unknown if Australia will host the showpiece tournament next year or in 2022, CA’s interim CEO Nick Hockley indicated either outcome would be welcomed.He reiterated the ICC’s rationale for not yet confirming which of Australia or India would stage the planned T20 World Cups in October-November 2021 and 2022 was to give both nations the best possible chance to deliver a successful tournament against the backdrop of COVID-19.“Whether it’s 2021 or 2022 in Australia, we will put on a fantastic event,” Hockley said, adding the current view is the postponed tournament would be rescheduled with the same “footprint”, number of competing teams and matches.“If it’s 2021, the plans are really well progressed and we’re really well placed to deliver that event.“Equally if it’s 2022, it will be a fantastic event and in many ways it gives even more time to create certainty around the health situation because no-one knows how long this is going to last.”It’s the uncertainty relating to freedom of movement across international and domestic borders as well as the vast costs that accompany the creation and operation of bio-secure environments that led the ICC, as had been widely predicted, to abandon plans for a 16-team tournament in Australia this year.But with the question of how CA (as the host board) and the local organising committee (that successfully delivered the women’s T20 World Cup earlier this year) might stage such a logistically complex tournament now deferred, planning turns to a no-less-complicated summer schedule.CA has already released its proposed men’s and women’s international fixtures as well as the BBL and WBBL programme for 2020-21 and, while stressing that a “level of flexibility” will be needed as the health landscape changes, Hockley noted CA plans to deliver the schedule as it stands.That includes the proposed historic one-off men’s Test against Afghanistan at Perth Stadium beginning on November 21, even though the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is expected to utilise the now vacant October-November window in the international schedule to hold its lucrative IPL.“At the moment, we’re scheduled to play Afghanistan in Perth and we’ll be doing everything we can to get those opening bowlers to the top of their run and get cricket back being played,” Hockley said.“As we work through all the different scenario planning, and as we do real-time monitoring of the health situations and restrictions, that will inform our planning.“If there’s a change to the current schedule, then we’ll be making announcements in due course.“Currently we’re planning to go ahead, but there’s a lot to work through and a lot that can happen between now and then.”BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has recently reaffirmed India’s commitment to touring Australia later this year for a four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy Series as well as a three-game Gillette ODI campaign.Earlier this month, Ganguly told an India television show the BCCI would be seeking a reduction in the number of days players might have to serve in quarantine upon entering Australia “because we don’t want the players to go all that far and sit in hotel rooms for two weeks”.Hockley said yesterday that while those protocols are set by government and health authorities, CA was mindful of ensuring international visitors – and Australia players returning from overseas commitments such as the IPL – have access to “optimal” training facilities while observing quarantine requirements.CA has been closely liaising with its England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) counterparts to glean information gathered from the current England-West Indies Test series, the first international cricket fixtures since world sport entered lockdown.Hockley noted the yet-to-be-completed hotel at Adelaide Oval drew close parallels to facilities provided at England’s bio-secure Test venues at Southampton and Manchester, and that was one consideration for cricketers entering Australia in coming months.“It’s unlikely that international travel restrictions will have lifted by time India are due to come into the country, so clearly there will be testing regimes,” he said.“The reality is we will be able to test people before they get on the plane and then it’s a situation of making sure we’ve got the quarantine arrangements in line with government and health authority protocols.“What we’re working on is making sure that, even within that quarantine environment, players have got the absolute best training facilities so their preparation for the matches is as optimal as it can possibly be.“Whether it’s a hotel on site, or whether it’s hotels in close proximity to venues, creating that environment where we’re minimising the risk of infections and creating a bio-secure environment is the absolute priority.“There’s a huge amount at stake if we’re unable to do that.“Adelaide Oval has got a hotel (due for completion in September), and we’re obviously in discussion with all venues, but that does provide a facility not dissimilar to Old Trafford (in Manchester) or the Ageas Bowl (Southampton) where a hotel is integrated into the venue.”Hockley conceded that in the absence of certainty due to the ongoing pandemic, clarity such as that flowing from the ICC’s decision overnight (and with an IPL announcement expected this week) was vital to finalising a full summer schedule.He said CA was also being regularly informed by codes such as the Australian Football League, National Rugby League and Super Netball that are currently mid-season and dealing with the daily complexities of programming and delivering matches.But he also noted there were unique challenges in fixing men’s and women’s international and domestic cricket games in an ever-changing environment.“I think what’s different for cricket is that we’ve got – between now and through the summer – an overseas (men’s) tour outbound potentially to England, we’re bringing international teams in both women’s and men’s, we’ve got two domestic leagues in the WBBL and BBL, and then we’ve got all the domestic cricket competitions,” Hockley said.“So whereas other sports have been focussed on a singular league, we do have this portfolio of cricket across all the different formats and that brings with it its own massive set of complexities.“What’s clear is we’re going to need to have a level of flexibility, and it’s by no means going to be a normal summer.“In relation to the T20 World Cup, with international borders currently closed and requiring exemption and the same with some state borders, the prospect of bringing 15 teams in and moving them around the country … the decision to postpone the event was absolutely inevitable. “But it allows us to focus with real clarity on the summer ahead, and we’ve got a brilliant summer to look forward to. (Cricket.com.aU)last_img read more

USC to battle Colorado in Pac-12 tournament opener

first_imgSenior forward Kayla Overbeck will start her final postseason run Thursday against Colorado. (Ling Luo | Daily Trojan) After a 16-13 regular season and an 8-10 Pac-12 record, the USC women’s basketball team is getting set for its first matchup of the Pac-12 Tournament. Entering as a No. 7 seed, USC will play against No. 10 Colorado in Las Vegas  Thursday. This marks the beginning of postseason play for the Trojans, who are coming off a three-game winning streak, including a win over the Buffaloes in Sunday’s regular season finale. USC will depend on its star freshmen, who have become forces in the Pac-12 already. Freshman guard Endyia Rogers has dropped double-digit points in 18 games this season, averaging 12.8 per game. USC in recent years has struggled to break into the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament. In the last four seasons, the Trojans have only moved past the first round twice. Rogers’ 2.7 assists per game have aided the new Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, forward Alissa Pili, who has been the scoring anchor for the Trojans and figures to play that role in Vegas. Pili had an unprecedented regular season for USC, earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors four times. The true freshman has proven unstoppable even against the NCAA’s best defenses — logging double digits in scoring against several ranked opponents — and is a top-five rebounder in the conference.  Four teams have first-round byes in the tournament, meaning if USC moves past Colorado it will have a showdown with crosstown rival No. 8 UCLA. In the midst of a 1-1 season series after a double-overtime win at Galen Center in January — UCLA’s first loss of the season — this game could be a testament to how far the young team has developed over the season — should the Trojans advance. “There’s no excuse to not try that hard because this is what we’ve been waiting for,” senior forward Kayla Overbeck said. “This is the chance to win as many games as we can so we can go to the NCAA Tournament.” “We just gotta study Colorado play and anticipate any adjustments, and then we gotta make a few,” Trakh said. “But Colorado is very good. It’s going to be tough playing somebody back-to-back like that.”center_img The Trojans tip off against Colorado Thursday at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. USC is 4-8 away from its home crowd. A lack of adjustment to the demands of conference play and travel could be the reason behind this paltry road record, with the majority of the eight losses coming early while the seven freshmen on the team were transitioning from high school to collegiate level basketball.  The Pac-12 is one of the toughest conferences in the NCAA and the tournament’s stacked field reflects that. But head coach Mark Trakh has shown a glimpse of the ability to lead his team far, going into the then-Pac-10 finals with his 2008-09 squad before falling to Stanford. Trakh hasn’t broken past the second round since his return to USC in 2017, but that could change with a team that has seen a late-season uptick. This year’s first round will be the deciding game for who wins the season series between USC and Colorado. The Trojans lost their first match to the Buffaloes 66-53 in the midst of their early five-game conference losing streak. While they made it up at Galen Center last weekend with a 66-55 win, the recent history does not guarantee a win for a team that has faltered on the road this season. The Buffaloes are coming in with a comparable 6-7 away record but are looking for a team ready to avenge its average regular season, which ended with a two-game losing streak. Freshman guard Endyia Rogers will look to repeat her 20-point game from Sunday against Colorado Thursday. (Ling Luo | Daily Trojan)last_img read more