Late reprieve for Ben Duckett keeps England’s hope of miracle chase alive

By Sports Desk July 01, 2023

Ben Duckett was awarded a dramatic late reprieve to keep England’s hopes of an audacious chase alive at Lord’s and cap a remarkable day of cricket that saw Nathan Lyon book his place in Ashes folklore.

Duckett was on his way to the pavilion the closing moments of the fourth evening after a reckless uppercut off Cameron Green was caught by a sliding Mitchell Starc on the ropes.

The scoreboard briefly flashed up at 113 for five, with Duckett on his way for exactly 50, in what seemed a fatal blow to England’s hopes of chasing down a massive 371.

But TV umpire Marais Erasmus reviewed the replays and decided Starc did not have control of his motion before sliding the ball across the ground. To the horror of the Australian players, and the joy of the home crowd, Duckett was called back to the crease as he and Ben Stokes reached stumps at 114 for four.

They remain heavy underdogs to hunt down a score just seven less than the record chase against India last year, but with Duckett riding his luck and Stokes (29 not out) always capable of doing the impossible there is now just a sliver of a chance.

Despite the late controversy, and some remarkable dismissals from Starc and Pat Cummins, arguably the most memorable image of the day belonged to Lyon, whose participation in the match was assumed to be over.

The 35-year-old, last spotted on crutches following a serious calf injury on the second evening, limped to the crease to bat at number 11 in a bid to eke every run out of Australia’s second innings.

He was helped through the Long Room and hopped down the pavilion steps, rendered virtually immobile by the time he made it to the middle. The plan to occupy one end broke down when substitute fielder Rehan Ahmed produced a remarkable diving save to deny Starc a six, with Lyon wincing in pain as he dragged himself 22 agonising yards.

He even managed a boundary in a last-wicket stand of 15, a buffer Australia will hope they do not need on the final day of this gripping contest. Yet the mere fact that he was allowed to take the field suggested England’s reputation as fearless chasers had left its mark on the Baggy Greens.

Lyon was the eighth and final Australia batter to be dismissed by England’s relentless short-ball tactics, as the home seamers took it in turns to pound the pitch with bouncers over the course of nearly five hours.

It proved a remarkably effective method, driving Australia from 130 for two overnight to 279 all out. Stuart Broad led the way with four for 65, Josh Tongue picked up Steve Smith for the second time in the match and Ollie Robinson chipped in with two wickets. Stokes also defied his chronic knee problems with a 12-over marathon spell that culminated in the hard-earned scalp of Josh Hazlewood.

England looked a long shot as they began their chase but, having successfully pursued 378 against India last summer just three wickets down, they had done enough to give themselves an outside chance of another audacious chase.

With Lyon’s off-spin unavailable, there was even the sliver of a suggestion that Australia might be vulnerable – but their strike bowlers had other ideas.

The first wicket had an element of fortune, Zak Crawley strangled down leg for three as he feathered Starc to keeper Alex Carey, but the impact was significant. With a target that left minimal wriggle room, English optimism was wavering early in the piece while Australia had the breakthrough they needed to stiffen their belief.

Two balls later Starc saw an lbw decision against Duckett overturned, but the left-armer was in no mood to hang around. Returning for a third over he conjured a quite brilliant delivery, hooping it in at 90mph to leave Ollie Pope groping at thin air as his middle stump went flying.

Pope had taken the field with a painful shoulder injury on Friday in order to retain his regular slot at number three but must have wondered why he had bothered as he watched the replays on the big screen.

There was a fleeting moment of calm as England added 28 for the third wicket, but Cummins was about to blow the game wide open with a magnificent over that doubled his side’s haul.

The first ball left Joe Root with a bruise as he rose into his forearm but the second did the real damage, lifting sharply again and taking the edge as Root looked to open the face.

With England’s best player in the bag, Cummins came within inches of dismissing Harry Brook for a golden duck with a return catch and then knocked him over with surgical precision. Brook attempted to play the line but saw the ball snake past at high speed before pegging back his off stump.

Duckett batted with poise and purpose as he reeled off a calm half-century and Stokes held his nerve to reach the close, but the mood took a febrile turn that will surely carry into day five as soon as Starc’s catch was sensationally ruled out.

Related items

  • Heather Knight says counties’ frustrations hails ‘progress’ for women’s cricket Heather Knight says counties’ frustrations hails ‘progress’ for women’s cricket

    England captain Heather Knight insists counties feeling upset by their failure to land a new ‘tier one’ women’s team represents “progress” for the female game, while the England and Wales Cricket Board have made it clear a disappointed Yorkshire have not been “punished for past sins”.

    The move away from the current regional setup to a fully professionalised top flight from 2025, aligning with first-class counties in the process, is a major step forward for women’s cricket but not everyone has made the initial cut.

    Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey and Warwickshire were all successful, but eight other proposals were not. Yorkshire have been approved alongside Glamorgan to be elevated in 2027 and a further expansion to 12 teams is planned.

    Yet that delay represents the latest setback for a proud cricketing county after several years mired by the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal and financial pressures which saw them reappoint the divisive Colin Graves as chair earlier this year.

    However, ECB chief executive Richard Gould made it clear there was no sense of re-litigating those issues in a process that was focused entirely on elevating women’s cricket to fresh heights.

    “It’s certainly not (about) being punished for past sins, that’s not our role. Our role is to promote the game, not punish,” he said at the launch of a new national tape ball competition, aimed at further broadening the sport’s appeal.

    “It will be disappointing for those venues that either haven’t been selected for tier one at this point or who have been, but perhaps not quite as quickly as they expected.

    “There will be individual circumstances but I don’t think anybody should see this as anything other than a positive for the women’s game – we’ve had 16 counties bidding so strongly to host professional women’s cricket.

    “We were so relieved by the amount of focus, attention and frankly, love, that was being put into the women’s game in those bids.”

    Knight, meanwhile, sees the intensity of the bidding process – and the level of frustration at those who were not approved – as a positive sign given a a relative lack of enthusiasm for female teams earlier in her career.

    “It sounds like there’s some counties disappointed which is a shame but also pretty cool,” she said.

    “When I was playing a long time ago, a lot of counties weren’t interested. So that disappointment is a sign of the progress that has been made.

    “The regional structure has been super successful in professionalising the game and this is the next logical step.

    “It has been a problem with regions, mine (Western Storm) has three different counties, and sometimes you feel you don’t have a home or a bit all over the place with facilities, not getting the same equal access as the guys do. Hopefully that will change with this coming in and counties will be accountable. That’s the whole idea: one club, two teams.”

    Yorkshire, who have hosted the Northern Diamonds and can now expect their top players to head elsewhere in search of the best – and best-paid – cricket opportunities, had earlier tabled their own statement.

    “Yorkshire County Cricket Club are surprised and disappointed not to be awarded one of the initial Tier 1 women’s teams,” it read.

    “The news is especially frustrating and upsetting for the players and staff at the Northern Diamonds. Our focus is on supporting them through this difficult period and gaining as much clarity on what the future looks like.”

    Simon Phillip, speaking as chair of a Kent side who have hosted the South East Stars in recent seasons, was similarly aggrieved.

    “As the most successful county team in the history of Women’s Cricket, offering the only dedicated women’s performance centre at Beckenham and based in a highly diverse south-east London population of 1.2 million people, the decision is difficult to swallow,” he said.

    “Whilst this decision will take some getting over, we remain committed to women’s and girls’ cricket and are determined to not let it hamper our long-term ambitions.”

    Leicestershire were also vocal about their feelings on missing the boat, claiming “a missed opportunity by the ECB” and saying the club was “crestfallen” not be included.

  • CWI's VP Bassarath joins efforts to secure Narine's return for T20 World Cup CWI's VP Bassarath joins efforts to secure Narine's return for T20 World Cup

    Cricket West Indies (CWI) vice president Azim Bassarath has declared his intentions to join the effort to possibly coerce spinner Sunil Narine to come out of international retirement for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to be hosted in the Caribbean and United States.

    Bassarath's declaration follows that of West Indies T20 captain Rovman Powell, who has led the charge of trying to get Narine back to the regional setup ahead of the June 1-29 global showpiece.

    Narine, 35, confirmed his retirement from the international game last November. However, after a stellar 56-ball 109 for Kolkota Knight Riders (KKR) against Rajasthan Royals in an IPL tie on April 16, Powell said he’s been trying to coax Narine to rejoin the squad for the past year “but he’s blocked out everyone.”

    At the same time, the Jamaican revealed that he sought the assistance of Nicholas Pooran and retired international stars Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo to convince their compatriot to return. Former maroon fast bowler Tony Gray also believes Narine would be a welcomed addition to Darren Sammy's side to challenge for a third T20 World Cup title.

    West Indies won the 2012 and 2016 editions of the tournament.

    After KKR's IPL win against the Lucknow Super Giants on April 14, Narine when asked about the possibility of returning to the West Indies team by former West Indies teammate Samuel Badree, pointed out that “I will be watching from home, Badree.”

    However, Narine in another interview on Tuesday, appeared to soften his stance about making the proverbial U-turn, when he said, “It is what it is, but we'll have to see what the future holds.”

    Bassarath explained that he has tried unsuccessfully to make contact with Narine, but he intends to keep at it.

    “I haven’t spoken to him [Narine], and he hasn’t spoken to me. Everybody is asking for him to change his mind and come represent West Indies, at least for this last chance. It is my intention to give him a shout, and if I have to beg him to come back and make himself available to play in this tournament. Because this is what the people need," he said in a T&T Newsday article.

    Bassarath, the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) president Bassarath also revealed that he reached out to Queen’s Park Cricket Club president Nigel Camacho – Narine’s domestic club – for help.

    “I have also spoken to the QPCC president, and he indicated to me that he will also reach out to Sunil to see if he can change his mind to come on board," he shared.

    West Indies are set to open their T20 World Cup campaign against Papa New Guinea in Guyana, on June 2.  Afghanistan, New Zealand, and Uganda are the other teams in the group.

  • T&T to host 2024 Women's CPL; to be contested before men's tourney for the first time T&T to host 2024 Women's CPL; to be contested before men's tourney for the first time

    Organizers have confirmed that Trinidad and Tobago will host the third staging of the Women's Caribbean Premier League when the tournament bowls off in August.

    The inaugural tournament in 2022 was played in St Kitts and Nevis, while last year's showpiece was played in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. This year's edition scheduled for August 21-29, will see Guyana Amazon Warriors, Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) and reigning champions Barbados Royals battling for top spot, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA) in Tarouba.

    “We would like to thank Trinidad and Tobago for agreeing to host this tournament and we are excited to be having the Massy WCPL taking place before we get the men’s tournament underway,” said CPL chief executive, Pete Russell.

    “The commitment that the Trinidad & Tobago government has shown to women’s sport has been phenomenal and we are looking forward to another superb exhibition of world class cricket over these seven matches from 21 to 29 August," he added.

    The three teams will clash in six group games, with the top two teams featuring in the final.

    Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of Sport and Community Development, Shamfa Cudjoe-Lewis, expressed joy that the twin island republic will be host to the women's tournament, which will for the first time be contested before the men's edition.

    "We are delighted to host once again the Massy Women's CPL, where the extraordinary talent of women in sport from across the region will be showcased. This tournament highlights the incredible skills of our female cricketers and underscores Trinidad and Tobago's unwavering commitment to promoting gender equality and fostering inclusivity in sport," she said.

    "The Ministry of Sport and Community Development takes pride in spearheading the advancement of women's cricket and sport tourism in TT and we look forward to welcoming players and fans alike to our shores for an electrifying display of cricketing excellence," Cudjoe-Lewis noted.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.