Ashes tour diary: Stuart Broad bemoans Covid-era cricket as Usman Khawaja reveals LeBron James inspiration

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·4-min read
Ashes tour diary: Stuart Broad bemoans Covid-era cricket as Usman Khawaja reveals LeBron James inspiration
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  • Los Angeles Lakers
    Los Angeles Lakers
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Stuart Broad
    English cricketer (born 1986)
  • Usman Khawaja
    Usman Khawaja
    Australian cricketer

In the course of his latest stunning press conference, Stuart Broad bemoaned cricket in the Covid-19 era, citing an entertaining example. Broad’s figures took a slight blemish when Nathan Lyon launched him for six with the final ball of the innings, meaning he was not immediately allowed to get his hands on the Kookaburra.

"There's no doubt I found the Covid times the hardest out of all my career,” said the veteran. “It's just a different way of touring in this modern era.

“Actually, it's quite a nice five-for ball I've got because it's the only five-for ball I've got hit for six with the last ball I bowled with it. It had to get sanitised because it went into the crowd so I've got this soaking wet ball back for a five-for. That'll be a nice one to keep, you know, the hand sanitised ball, which sort of shows the modern times we're living in.”

Khawaja’s LeBron celebration

Usman Khawaja is among the most popular cricketers on the circuit, especially in Sydney, where he grew up and his parents still live. When he reached his hundred, in the over before tea with three off Jack Leach, the place went wild.

Not least Khawaja himself, who celebrated with a LeBron James-inspired shuffle, and his wife Rachael in the crowd. She is pregnant with their second child and held the first aloft, Lion King-style.

“I was just excited, I was so pumped,” he said of his celebration. “Hundreds don’t come very often, a lot of hard work goes into them. Yeah, I got taken away by the moment. The crowd has been so great, I got a big roaring reception.

"I don’t know why I did it. I muck around with the boys and do it while I’m shooting hoops, or win in table tennis, pool, anything stupid. I brought it to Test cricket – why not?

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“I watch a lot of Basketball and LeBron is someone I’ve always looked up to.”

In all, Khawaja’s press conference was almost as good as Broad’s. He spoke about his family moving from Pakistan and his belief that he might not get another chance with Australia.

"I am joking, but I’m quite serious about it,” he said. “There’s the American dream. I am living the Australian dream. My parents came over from Pakistan, to give our family a better life, they have come all the way out here, and I am representing Australia in our national sport.

“It's something I absolutely love doing. I have gone through a lot of hard times, breaking down a lot of barriers to get where I am now. And I think on some level people can relate to that. The love I got out here today is something I will never forget.”

Good call

England had extra cause to be relieved when Zak Crawley was caught at first slip late in the day. Not only were they grateful that Mitchell Starc had overstepped, but also that it was possible to find out.

For some of the afternoon, the front foot no-ball technology was down, meaning it was back in the sole gift of the umpires (who rarely call them). This was reminiscent of the farcical technological scenes in Brisbane, and allowed Crawley a very welcome reprieve.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Women’s Ashes schedule change

The Women’s Ashes has had a fairly significant fixture tweak. England fly to Australia tomorrow, as planned, but the multi-format series will now begin a week earlier than scheduled.

There will be three T20s in four days at Adelaide Oval (two points each), a Test at Manuka Oval in Canberra (four points), before three ODIs (two points each). The first will be at Manuka Oval, before two at Junction Oval in St Kilda, Melbourne. The whole thing will be done between January 20 and February 8 – a flying series.

England A will also be joining the squad on a charter flight this Friday. They play three T20s (Adelaide) and three 50-over matches (Canberra) between January 20 and February 2. There will also be two intra-squad warm-ups in Canberra on January 15 and 16.

The reason for the change? Both Australia and England must quarantine for 10 days before the World Cup, which takes place in New Zealand in March.

Low Sydney crowds

A picture of the state of Sydney now: for the Ashes Test, the SCG would normally be filled to the rafters (capacity 48,000). Because of Covid – and perhaps the poor forecast (which never eventuated on day two) – the crowds have been 25,078 and 24,855. That’s lower than the daily number of Covid cases the city is recording.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

BBL Covid chaos

This segment is getting quite boring now. Brisbane Heat were forced to hand out eight debuts for tonight’s game against Melbourne Renegades because of the sheer volume of cases in their camp.

Tomorrow’s game, between the decimated Melbourne Stars and Perth Scorchers, has been called off, while Sydney Sixers have also recorded plenty of cases. Word is that the season will be completed in a bubble in Melbourne. That’s if there are any players out of isolation.

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