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Cancellations, concussions and cricket at the Olympics: Three talking points from the week in cricket

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Roar Guru
9th December, 2020
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From the cancellation of England’s ODI series in South Africa, to another concussion for Will Pucovski, and Olympic dreams, let’s dive into some of the talking points from the week in cricket.

The premature end to England’s tour of South Africa adds to the mess CSA is in
This weekend had an air of inevitability about it when it came to England’s tour of South Africa, the ODI portion of which was cancelled on Monday.

Even though the two previously unconfirmed positive cases within the England touring party later came back negative, something which may lead some to criticise the decision to call off the tour, the team no longer had confidence in their supposedly bio-secure bubble.

It’s welcoming to see that players’ concerns have not only been acknowledged, but acted upon as well, with no regard for what the reaction to such a decision would be.

In life, some things are more important than sport, and players’ safety and wellbeing is one of those things.

However, the cancellation of the tour comes with the unfortunate downside of the costs that Cricket South Africa (CSA) has to now bear as a result of this decision.

With Sky Sports and SuperSport by all means entitled to a partial refund of their broadcasting fees, CSA will not receive the full R70 million (A$6.2 million) that they were estimated to earn from this series, and, as per the arrangements of the tour, they will continue to pay for England’s accommodation until their scheduled departure today.

A cricket board already in crisis, with an interim board in charge, now has to contend with the threat of tours by Sri Lanka and Australia also being called off, although ESPNCricinfo has reported that both countries are willing to move the tours back home, on the proviso that the revenue streams are directed CSA’s way.

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Meantime, England’s list of beneficiaries they need to repay, which already included the West Indies and Pakistan, now includes South Africa.

England now find themselves obliged to squeeze a rescheduled ODI tour of South Africa into their already bustling tour schedule.

Will Pucovski’s concussion throws another spanner in the works for Australia
The Australian top order was already in a bit of disarray before Will Pucovski suffered his ninth concussion when he copped a bouncer on the helmet on the final day of Australia A’s first warm-up game against India at the Drummoyne Oval on Tuesday.

Now, with exactly a week to go until the first Test at the Adelaide Oval, it is well and truly in disarray.

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What started off as a competition between an underperforming Joe Burns and Pucovski to see who would join David Warner out in the middle in Adelaide has now turned into a search for who can partner Joe Burns in Adelaide, as Warner has been ruled out of the first Test while he continues to recover from a groin injury and Pucovski sits out the day/night game between Australia A and India, which starts tomorrow at the SCG.

Will Pucovski may have been concussed

Will Pucovski of Australia A (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

There is no way that Pucovski’s next match can be the first Test against India, fresh off the back of a mild concussion suffered from a bouncer on a suburban cricket ground, where seagulls outnumbered humans in the crowd.

As much as a Test debut for the 22-year-old Victorian is within touching distance after an impressive Shield season so far, taking some time to rest will do him good.

It leaves Burns more or less guaranteed a place at the top of the order, on the basis of being the incumbent and despite having a batting average of just 8.71 in first-class cricket so far this summer.

Although he was not named in Australia’s squad for the Test series against India, Marcus Harris will still get a chance to throw his hat in the ring for a return to the Test team when he opens the batting alongside Burns in the Australia A game this weekend.

Marnus Labuschagne also looks to be a contender to become opener for the first Test, while Cameron Green may be in line for a Test debut, after his unbeaten century and two-wicket haul at Drummoyne Oval earlier this week.

The Australian XI for the first Test against India could look like this:
1: Joe Burns
2: Marcus Harris/Marnus Labuschagne
3: Steve Smith
4: Cameron Green/Marnus Labuschagne
5: Matthew Wade
6: Travis Head
7: Tim Paine (c, wk)
8: Pat Cummins
9: Mitchell Starc
10: Nathan Lyon
11: Josh Hazlewood

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Get on the blower to the International Olympic Committee, ICC, if breakdancing can be in the Olympics, so can cricket
Early Tuesday morning Australian time, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that breakdancing would make its Olympic debut at the 2024 Games in Paris.

Upon reading the news, my mind was cast back to an article I wrote back in May, which posed the question of whether cricket should be included in the Olympics.

Let’s face it, if people can bring their boomboxes and breakdance to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, or whatever the urban youths that are being targeted by the IOC want, and potentially win an Olympic gold medal for their efforts, then the International Cricket Council (ICC) should seriously consider putting forward a proposal for cricket’s inclusion in the Games.

Sure, the Olympic programme may be reaching its full capacity and I may be fuelled by some bitterness, but, if breakdancing can become an Olympic sport when it isn’t really a sport, then there’s no reason why cricket can’t either.

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