England drawn against Australia in T20 World Cup, India to face Pakistan

By Sports Desk July 16, 2021

England have been drawn in the same group as rivals Australia for the T20 World Cup, while India have been placed in a pool with Pakistan.

The Super 12 stage of the 16-team limited-overs tournament will see England, Australia, South Africa and West Indies do battle in Group 1, along with two qualifying teams.

Group 2 will contain India and Pakistan, along with New Zealand, Afghanistan and an additional two qualifiers.

Eight teams are involved in round one of the tournament and will vie to fill those final four places in the Super 12.

Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands and Namibia are in Group A, while Bangladesh, Scotland, Oman and Papa New Guinea make up Group B, with two from each pool to progress and join the highest-ranked nations.

A short round one stage will include 12 matches, starting on October 17 and the top two from each group progressing.

The winners of Group A joining the group involving England and Australia along with the runners-up of Group B. Bangladesh are favourites to win Group B - if they do, they will join the competitive group containing India along with the side who finishes second in Group A.

The Super 12 stage is scheduled to start a week later from October 24 and will consist of 30 matches, making up the bulk of the tournament.

Only four teams will emerge to contest the semi-finals, with the final then to be held on November 14.

It was confirmed last month by the ICC that the T20 World Cup will now be held in the United Arab Emirates and Oman rather than India this year.

Australia was originally scheduled to host the 2020 tournament ahead of India staging it this year. 

However, the pandemic forced the ICC to postpone last year's tournament, giving Australia hosting rights for 2022.

A second surge in cases of coronavirus in India then forced a major change to the 2021 competition, which will still be hosted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

West Indies are the defending champions after defeating England in the final the last time this tournament was held back in 2016.

England and India are rated as the leading contenders to come out on top, ranked one and two in the world respectively by the ICC in the format.

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    Ian Botham led an onslaught of criticism for England's Ashes failures after Joe Root's team capitulated pitifully to lose the final Test in Hobart.

    Botham was joined by fellow former England captains Alastair Cook, Michael Vaughan and David Gower in picking apart another wretched display, with Australia tying up a 4-0 series victory.

    England sit at the foot of the World Test Championship, and Botham said the culture of English cricket needed to change, with the heavy emphasis on domestic limited-overs competitions harming the five-day team.

    Speaking on Channel 7, Botham said: "It's been embarrassing, if I'm honest. Gutless.

    "The way they performed today disappointed me and will have disappointed everyone back home."

    England went from 68-0 to 124 all out, the final ignominy from a shambolic tour performance as Australia won by 146 runs.

    "The one thing we need to do right now is take our heads out of the sand and pull together and prioritise red-ball cricket," Botham said. "If we're not careful, the eskimos will be beating us."

    Cook, Joe Root's predecessor as captain, found it a jarring watch as England went from building a solid foundation to outright carnage, unable to hold back Australia's victory charge.

    "There was no resilience there. As soon as they get under pressure, you seen how much resolve there is," Cook said.

    "That was very, very tough viewing and that has to be our rock bottom. There cannot be any worse a place in terms of getting bowled out in an hour and a half."

    Speaking on BT Sport, Cook added: "As a batter and a professional who plays games of cricket, you get bowled out in a session once or twice in a career.

    "You see a batting line-up devoid of all confidence and belief, that once you lose one wicket or two wickets, nobody's going to step up and stop that slide.

    "You can talk all you want about it in the dressing room, but until some people grab this team by the scruff of the neck and move it forward themselves, I can't see what's changed."

    Vaughan, on Twitter, said England had carried through 2021's "year of the batting collapse" into this year, adding: "You can cope with losing but not when you throw the towel in."

    Gower suggested the positive messages that Root and coach Chris Silverwood attempted to deliver were misleading.

    "I think we understand very easily that neither Joe Root or Chris Silverwood are going to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth under these circumstances," Gower said.

    "Both are under pressure for different reasons. Joe has handled it well, kept a smile on his face. When you see him run out to bat today you can see there is a man who wants to do his best to finish on a high note, but he is not being supported.

    "Silverwood's role is a different one because he is fully implicated in selection, and selection's been one of the huge talking points on this tour, right from Brisbane onwards."

    For the first Test at the Gabba, England went into the match and series with star bowlers Stuart Broad and James Anderson mystifyingly left on the sidelines.

    "There were jaws dropping at home and in Brisbane when the team was announced and when events unfolded," Gower said.

    Also speaking on BT Sport, Gower said he had "genuine sympathy" for Root given the focus on white-ball cricket. Although England won the World Cup, in Test cricket they are firmly in the doldrums.

    "This is the oldest, most important form of the game," Gower said. "We need to defend it, we need an England team that plays it well, that is not languishing at the foot ... barely even at the foot of the World Test Championship.

    "These things really annoy people and apparently it's really annoying me at the moment.

    "When you're going to try to be constructive, you look at personnel for sure, so there will be people fearing for their position in the side. Then you also have to consider who else is there to take over. There are players out there who would hope they might get a go as a result of other people's failures, but they've got to show character."

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    Novak Djokovic's absence from the Australian Open "is a loss for the game", says men's tennis governing body the ATP.

    The world number one failed in his bid to overturn a decision from the government to cancel his visa on public health grounds at the Federal Court in Melbourne on Sunday.

    Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, will therefore be unable to participate in the Australian Open, where he was seeking a record-extending 10th title.

    As the 20-time grand slam winner prepared to fly out of Australia on Sunday, the ATP released a statement reflecting on a "deeply regrettable" saga that lasted 10 days.

    "Today's decision to uphold Novak Djokovic's Australian visa cancellation marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events," the statement read. 

    "Ultimately, decisions of legal authorities regarding matters of public health must be respected. 

    "More time is required to take stock of the facts and to take the learnings from this situation.

    "Irrespective of how this point has been reached, Novak is one of our sport's greatest champions and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game. 

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    "We wish him well and look forward to seeing him back on court soon. ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination to all players."

     

    Sunday's verdict brings an end to a long-running saga that began when Djokovic was held at an airport in Melbourne when he arrived in the country on January 6.

    The 34-year-old won an appeal to overturn the first bid to deport him from the country, but immigration minister Alex Hawke used his powers to again cancel the visa.

    That decision was taken amid much backlash in the country, which has strict coronavirus restrictions, and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison backed Sunday's verdict.

    "This cancellation decision was made on health, safety and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so," he said.

    "I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.

    "I thank the court for their prompt attention to these issues and the patience of all involved as we have worked to resolve this issue. 

    "It's now time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer."

    But the unanimous verdict did not go down well with everyone, with Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic launching an attack on Australia for their handling of the matter.

    "I talked to Novak and told him I can't wait for him to come to Serbia and return to his country, and to be where he is always welcome," Vucic is quoted as saying by Novosti.

    "They think that they humiliated Djokovic, but they humiliated themselves, and he can return to his country and look everyone in the eye with his head held high."

    Speaking prior to Sunday's verdict, Rafael Nadal insisted the Australian Open will be a great tournament "with or without" Djokovic.

    Other big names have yet to comment on the deportation order, but women's player Alize Cornet feels Djokovic's peers could have offered more support to the Serbian.

    "I know too little to judge the situation. What I know is that Novak is always the first one to stand for the players," she posted on Twitter. 

    "But none of us stood for him. Be strong, Novak."

    Djokovic had been due to face Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round on Monday but will now be replaced by lucky loser Salvatore Caruso.

    The ATP has confirmed that there will be no shuffling of the seeds due to Monday's schedule of playing having been released prior to the court's decision.

  • Ashes 2021-22: Root calls for England Test overhaul but warns 'that won't happen overnight' Ashes 2021-22: Root calls for England Test overhaul but warns 'that won't happen overnight'

    Joe Root declared England must make decisive changes to their Test cricket programme following their Ashes humbling – but warned that things will not "change overnight".

    Australia clinched a 4-0 series victory on Sunday after another batting collapse from the visitors saw them slump to a 146-run defeat in the fifth Test in Hobart.

    England had looked in a promising position to claim a first win of the series after Mark Wood's career-best 6-37 helped to dismiss the hosts for 155 in the second innings.

    Rory Burns and Zak Crawley mounted a good start as they chased a target of 271, but Cameron Green (3-21) sparked another rout.

    The tourists proceeded to lose all 10 wickets for 56 runs as they were bowled out for 124.

    It was a pitiful end to a dreadful series from England's perspective and another indication of their problems in the longest format.

    They have won only one of their past 14 Test matches since last February and, when they return to Australia in 2025, it will have been 14 years since they last won an Ashes Test away from home.

    Speaking to BT Sport, captain Root said: "A number of things have to change. In the short term, guys have to learn quickly. If you want to survive at this level, you have to learn quickly. What they are lacking is the opportunities to do that at the level beforehand.

    "We need to sit down and have a clear look at what direction English cricket needs to take, what direction English Test cricket needs to take to improve and improve quickly. That is not going to change overnight."

    He added: "It has been a frustration throughout. We have played good cricket in parts but not managed to string a whole game together.

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    Australia skipper Pat Cummins, meanwhile, declared his side want to make their mark on foreign soil after a resounding victory.

    "It is pretty crazy," he said. "As a professional cricketer, these are the series you have in your diary a couple of years out, so to come out with so many positives and winning 4-0, I am pumped.

    "It feels like we are really building to something big. Now we want to share our wares overseas."

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