Cricket News: ‘We were so close’

It was so close and yet so far for Queensland in a drama-charged final session when bad light robbed them of a Sheffield Shield victory against NSW with three overs remaining.

The Bulls openers needed 26 runs to win from the final five overs at Sydney’s Drummoyne Oval, with victory seeming a formality.

Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw polished off 10 of them in two overs before the umpires took the players off due to the light reading at 6:34pm (AEDT).

A furious Bulls captain Usman Khawaja came onto the field to ask the umpires why they could not continue as the Blues players swiftly made their way to their dressing room delighted to have secured a draw.

The bails were flicked off the stumps by umpires Greg Davidson and Simon Lightbody minutes later to bring an end to an extraordinary day’s play.

When Bulls legspinner Mitch Swepson (5-113) removed Nathan Lyon to dismiss the Blues for 256, victory had appeared assured.

Bulls allrounder Michael Neser summed up the mood in the camp.

“It is not the result we wanted. We fought so hard throughout the game,” he said.

“We were so close to that win. If we could have (bowled NSW out) a couple of overs sooner, it might have been a different result.”

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NSW batter Moises Henriques was left stranded on 99 after featuring in two match-saving stands.

“We were just doing our best to stay out there for as long as we could,” Henriques said of his resistance.

Henriques and Matthew Gilkes (48) batted through most of the first two sessions, which included a break for rain, in a 112-run stand.

With Henriques at the crease, the Blues went to tea on 5-211 before the game took a roller coaster turn.

Bulls pacemen Neser and Mark Steketee then captured 3-2 in the space of 12 deliveries with Joe Burns taking two diving catches at slip and wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson snaring one of his own to remove Sean Abbott (5), Baxter Holt (0) and Ben Dwarshius (0).

Chris Tremain (5 off 68 balls) combined with Henriques to hold up the Bulls for 27 overs in a 39-run ninth-wicket stand that was ultimately decisive.

Earlier the Blues had made 246 in their first innings and the Bulls replied with 6-477 declared on the back of big scores by opener Matt Renshaw (200) and allrounder Neser (136).

Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne of the Bulls show their frustration as they speak to Nathan Lyon of the Blues.

Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne of the Bulls show their frustration as they speak to Nathan Lyon of the Blues. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Stokes slams ‘stupid’ oversized ‘Toblerone’ markers after quick’s injury

Ben Stokes has criticised the “stupid” size of cricket’s boundary marking sponges after they caused Reece Topley’s injury which ruled him out of England’s T20 World Cup.

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During a fielding drill before England’s final warm-up against Pakistan at Brisbane on Monday, Topley suffered ligament damage to his left ankle after stepping on a padded cushion and landing awkwardly.

The left-arm seamer had been set for a pivotal role in Australia but will now return home to the UK after England’s tournament opener against Afghanistan at Perth on Saturday.

It is a cruel blow and – according to Stokes – an entirely avoidable one, for a player who has bounced back from multiple stress fractures in his back that threatened to derail his career.

Commonly referred to as ‘Toblerones’ due to their triangular prism shapes, the foam sponges present an advertising opportunity and have become widespread instead of a traditional rope around the ground.

But as they measure around 20cm in height and width, England Test captain Stokes feels the dimensions could be addressed to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

“It’s stupid. Unfortunately, it’s taken one of our players to be ruled out of the World Cup (to make people notice),” he said.

“I’m pretty sure it’s something they can look at but you know what it’s like – everybody wants to get their names on somewhere.

“But you look at player safety and the fact he’s stood on it and it’s ruptured ligaments and now he’s out of the World Cup – it should be looked at. I’m devastated for him.

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“We are all just absolutely gutted for him that he’s missed out on this World Cup because he would have been one of the first names on the team sheet.”

It is understood the England and Wales Cricket Board is not intending to raise the issue to the International Cricket Council.

England white-ball captain Jos Buttler told BBC Sport: “We practice around the boundary a lot to try and get used to it. I don’t see it as any more than a freak accident.”

Topley’s isn’t the only boundary rope-related mishap to occur at the World Cup to date, with UAE batter Aayan Afzal Khan tripping over the ‘Toblerones’ walking off after being dismissed against the Netherlands.


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