Rauf takes hat-trick as Stars soar to summit

By Sports Desk January 08, 2020

Haris Rauf took a hat-trick and Glenn Maxwell became Melbourne Stars' record run-scorer as Sydney Thunder were beaten by six wickets at the MCG.

The in-form Stars moved top of the Big Bash League table, level on points with Sydney Sixers with a better net run rate and a game in hand, by securing a fourth consecutive victory on Wednesday.

Pakistani paceman Rauf claimed the second Big Bash hat-trick of the day after Rashid Khan took three in three during the Adelaide Strikers' defeat to Sydney Sixers.

The Thunder were restricted to 145-5 after a brilliant final over from Rauf (3-23), Matthew Gilkes top scoring with 41 from 35 balls.

Marcus Stoinis (50) struck a third consecutive half-century, while Maxwell made an unbeaten 59 from just 37 balls to replace Luke Wright as the Stars' leading run-scorer to get his side home with more than two overs to spare.

Defeat for the Thunder was their second in a row and dropped them down a place to fourth on a day in which spinner Chris Green was banned from bowling for three months due to an illegal delivery action.

 

RAPID RAUF ROCKS THUNDER

Rauf has been a revelation for the Stars since being plucked from grade cricket in Hobart as cover for Dale Steyn.

The quick could be returning to Australia for the T20 World Cup later this year after he took his tally of wickets to 13 in four matches in dramatic fashion.

Rauf saw the back of Gilkes, who struck two sixes, with the second ball of the last over and Callum Ferguson played on to the next delivery before Daniel Sams was trapped lbw on the hat-trick ball. 

 

SENSATIONAL STOINIS CONTINUES PURPLE PATCH

Stoinis maintained his outstanding form to move over the 300-run mark for the tournament.

The leading run-scorer in the 2019-20 competition had a touch of fortune when he was given not out after being rapped on the pad by Chris Tremain in the third over.

Stoinis took advantage by anchoring the run chase, hitting a six and another four boundaries before holing out off Jonathan Cook, leaving the Stars 103-4 in the 14th. 

 

MAGNIFICENT MAXWELL EASES STARS HOME

Captain Maxwell took only 29 balls to score his first half-century of the tournament.

The all-rounder, who also conceded just 18 runs from three overs, found the rope eight times and launched Tremain for six to keep the Stars on course for victory.

Maxwell was on the deck after trying to clatter Morris and making no contact, but he hit the South Africa bowler for a glorious boundary to finish off the job in the same over.

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    When the West Indies were knocked off their perch by Australia at Sabina Park in 1995, the team’s performances, at first, gradually declined and then from about 2000, it plummeted to the point where the Windies have been wallowing in a quagmire of mediocrity.

    Since 2010, the West Indies have won nine Test series. They lost 20 over the same period. Counting the ODI losses would make the numbers even worse, so I won’t even get into that.

    What we have seen during that period are batsmen who lack the required technique to last an hour at the crease and toothless bowling because the bowlers are incapable of maintaining the required line and length and in many cases, seem to be bowling in the absence of a clear strategy.

    What I see are fundamental weaknesses in batting, bowling and fielding technique that leads me to believe that grassroots programmes are woefully inadequate.

    When I watch local U15 cricket in Jamaica’s high schools, I see kids wafting their bats as if hoping to make a connection with a ball that is more often than not, off-target.

    Like football, mastery of the fundamentals is essential. Back when the West Indies were kings, kids played cricket in the streets and through trial and error learned how to defend. They learned how the play the ball of their legs. They learned how to keep a bouncing ball down.

    Kids don’t play cricket in the street anymore so ways have to be found to get them playing in a format that aids development while still allowing them to have fun.

    I don’t think Kiddies cricket is the answer even though there is some merit to the pursuit.

    What is needed in the West Indies are programmes in each of the territories, similar to those that obtain in India. Coming out of these programmes are scores of eight, nine and 10-year-old players who have already mastered the fundamentals.

    Their style of play is already set, which means relatively little honing is done, while getting them to play at the very highest level. By the time they get to the under-19 level, they tend to be better than what we see in the Caribbean.

    There are those who will argue that the West Indies u19 teams have done well in recent World Cups. My response to that is if you look at the next lot of players just outside the World Cup-playing batch, do you find players who are anywhere near as good and could form a second XI, performing at the same level at a World Cup?

    From where I sit, the answer is no.

    Each individual territory needs to be looking at how they can improve coaching levels at prep and high school under a template that defines the West Indian way. By the time they get to the u-19 or West Indies ‘B’ level, they should be ready to kick the door in, not just stare and hope someone opens it for them.

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