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The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday announced that the men's cricket team's five-week-long tour of England next year will run from July 3 to September 2.
According to a PCB press release, the series will include three Test matches and three Twenty20 matches. It will be Pakistan's last World Test Championship (WTC) for the team during the 2019-20 season after they host Sri Lanka in October and Bangladesh in January along with a tour of Australia.
"The three T20s come up with an opportunity to prepare for the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia in October 2020," the press release stated.
As per PCB, the tour will start with a Test match at Lord's while matches will also be played at Old Trafford in Manchester and Trent Bridge in Nottingham.
"This tour holds special significance since this will be Pakistan’s first-ever tour of England for World Test Championship matches," said PCB director international cricket Zakir Khan.
He added that a tour of England "tests the skills and limits of the visiting sides" and anticipated that the tour would help Pakistan "furnish their red-ball skills" and prepare for the T20 World Cup in Australia in 2020.
"The PCB and the English and Wales Cricket Board enjoy an amicable relationship and this being Pakistan’s third bi-lateral tour of England in the last four years perfectly mirrors it. In 2010, the ECB provided the PCB facilities to host Australia in a two-match Test series," Khan said.
Additionally, PCB added that England’s return tour of Pakistan will be held 2022 as a "split affair" including a three-match One Day International series in October and three WTC Tests in December.
1st Test match, England v Pakistan, 30 July-3 August 2020, Lord’s, London
2nd Test match, England v Pakistan, 7-11 August 2020, Old Trafford, Manchester
3rd Test match, England v Pakistan, 20-24 August 2020, Trent Bridge, Nottingham
1st T20I, England v Pakistan, Saturday 29 August 2020, Headingley, Leeds
2nd T20I, England v Pakistan, Monday 31 August 2020, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
3rd T20I, England v Pakistan, Wednesday 2 September 2020, Ageas Bowl, Southampton
LONDON: England fast bowler Jofra Archer has the ‘X-factor’ that unsettles opposition batting lineups, said former Australia captain Steve Waugh who believes the evenly-balanced Ashes series would be decided by a few key moments.
Archer made his Test debut in the drawn second match at Lord’s and produced several spells of menacing quick bowling, hurrying the Australian batsmen up and forcing them into evasive action from deliveries that averaged more than 145kph.
He was also involved in the Test’s major talking point when Steve Smith was felled following a sickening blow in the neck from an Archer bouncer.
He also hit Marnus Labuschagne, who replaced Smith on the fifth day and became the first concussion substitute in test cricket, in the face grill of his helmet.
“It gives you the X-factor, knowing that you have that sort of bowler in your lineup when you can intimidate the opposition,” Waugh told a Cricket Australia podcast. “You can make things happen on a flat pitch and potentially get wickets in clumps. He’s a real asset to England.”
Waugh did not find any problems with Archer’s stamina either after the Barbados-born 24-year-old bowled 44 overs and took 5-91 at Lord’s.
“If he plays four Test matches in a row that will test him out,” Waugh said. “So far he’s come through with flying colours. He bowled 40 overs and each one was as quick as the previous one.
“He had an impressive debut but test cricket is about longevity and how you back up and how you handle conditions. But from England’s point of view, so far so good.”
Waugh, who stared down some of the fastest bowlers in the world like Malcolm Marshall and Shoaib Akhtar in a glittering career that netted more than 10,000 Test runs, said that Archer had one of the more economical bowling actions he had seen.
“I can’t say I have ever seen anyone bowl like that,” he said. “He ambles in, gets very close to the crease, makes the most of his height. He has got a very simple action and in a lot of ways a similar action to [Australian fast bowler] Glenn McGrath in that it’s very repeatable. I can’t see too much going wrong with it.
“His control is very good for that reason. He has that deceptive pace and has a wicked bouncer so that is something our team will have to analyse and work out to play him.”
While Australia had won the first Test at Edgbaston by 251 runs, the way England fought back in the second Test at Lord’s indicated how close the Ashes series would be.
“It really depends on who wins the big moments,” Waugh said. “It will come down to who is consistent. I think we can win the series and England will probably say they think they can. It will make for a great last three Test matches.”
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2019
COLOMBO: New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson and Sri Lankan spinner Akila Dananjaya have been reported for suspect bowling action after the first Test between the two nations in Galle that finished on Sunday, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has said.
While Williamson is a part-time spinner who bowled only three overs, Dananjaya bowled 62 overs in the match, picking up five wickets in the first innings to set up Sri Lanka’s victory.
“The match officials’ report, which was handed over to the management of both teams, cited concerns about the legality of the bowling actions of both players,” the ICC said in a statement on Tuesday. “Williamson and Dananjaya will now undergo testing within 14 days from the reporting date [18 August] and during this period both will be permitted to continue bowling in international cricket until the results of the testing are known.”
Dananjaya, 25, was similarly reported following a Test match against England in Galle in November last year and subsequently suspended after an independent committee deemed his action illegal.
However, his ban was lifted in February by the ICC and he was allowed to resume bowling in international cricket after remedial work and a reassessment of his action.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s loss in the first Test had been a lot closer than the six-wicket defeat suggested and the side had learned a lot about how best to play in local conditions, according to pace bowler Tim Southee.
New Zealand’s only warm-up game was badly affected by torrential rain and the Black Caps went into the match in Galle a little underdone.
Despite that, Southee felt his side had been competitive throughout and it was really only a century-stand between captain Dimuth Karunaratne (122) and Lahiru Thirimanne (64) as they chased 268 for victory that separated the two sides.
“We played some good cricket throughout the five days but Sri Lanka were just better in the back end of the game,” said Southee, who was confirmed on Tuesday as the captain for the Twenty20 series following the second Test at the P. Sara Oval in Colombo. “We showed glimpses throughout and the guys learned a lot from playing in these conditions.
“Hopefully we can put in the hard work and turn out a performance over the next Test match.”
Southee and his fellow pace bowler Trent Boult, who will miss the three-match T20 series along with regular captain Williamson, were barely used on an unresponsive Galle pitch.
The spin trio of Ajaz Patel, Will Somerville and Mitchell Santner combined for 128 of the 179 overs bowled by New Zealand in the match.
Southee bowled just seven overs in the first innings and 12 in the second.
“It’s a tough one because you know that you’re only going to get a short spell, so you walk a fine line of not trying too much and trying to keep it tight but still trying to take a wicket,” the 30-year-old added. “I guess we’re doing more of a support role for the spinners who are more attacking in these conditions.”
New Zealand’s top-six batsmen failed to truly fire in the first Test with only Ross Taylor, who scored 86 in the first innings, and wicket-keeper B.J. Watling (77 in the second), posting substantial scores.
The fact the visitors set Sri Lanka a target at all was due to the tail wagging in their second innings, with Somerville scoring a career-best 40 not out, while Southee (23) and Boult (26) chimed in with handy cameos.
Patel also scored 14 as the number 11.
“The tail did a great job to get a competitive score in the third innings,” Southee said. “If you look around the world the good sides do have contributions from the tail.
“When you have a batsman like BJ who bats so well with the tail then its about hanging in and trying to support him in the job he does.
“If you’re able to leak out as many runs as possible then that makes it tougher for the opposition.”
The final Test starts on Thursday with Santner under the most pressure to hold his place and he could be replaced by leg spinner Todd Astle or all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2019
WOLVERHAMPTON: Manchester United were held 1-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers and missed out on taking top spot in the Premier League on Monday as a sumptuous Ruben Neves strike cancelled out Anthony Martial’s first-half goal and Paul Pogba missed a late penalty.
After a 4-0 home win over Chelsea on the opening day, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team dominated the early exchanges and led after 27 minutes when Marcus Rashford slipped the ball in for Martial to score his 50th goal for the club in all competitions.
But Wolves, who beat the visitors in the league and FA Cup at Molineux last season, were transformed in the second half, rejuvenated by substitute Adama Traore on the wing.
In the 55th minute, a clever corner routine left Portuguese midfielder Neves free outside the area from where he hit a delightful curling strike over keeper David de Gea that went in off the underside of the bar, ramping up the raucous atmosphere.
The goal was confirmed after a VAR review into whether Joao Moutinho was offside when he received the ball back following a the short corner routine.
“It was fantastic,” Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo said of Neves’ strike. “In the first half we struggled so much, but it all changed in the second... I am proud of all the performance.”
Pogba then missed a penalty awarded in the 67th minute after he tumbled in the area under Wolves captain Conor Coady’s feet.
The Frenchman’s spot kick, superbly saved by Rui Patricio, was his fourth missed penalty in the Premier League since the start of last season, raising questions as to why United’s other designated penalty-taker Rashford did not step up instead.
“The two of them are confident penalty takers,” Solskjaer said as he defended Pogba. “When there are two names there, it’s the one who’s most confident. Paul’s scored so many before, so absolutely no problem at all.”
Rashford said Pogba “wanted to take it, it’s that simple.”
“Anyone can miss a penalty,” Rashford said. “He has scored so many penalties and it is normal to miss one. I took one last week, so for me it’s no problem that he took it. It’s unfortunate he didn’t score but that’s football.”
The result left United on four points from two games, while Wolves are still looking for their first win of the season, having picked up two points from two draws.
Goalscorer, Neves, however, was jubilant with another strong performance from the Midlands team against a leading side.
“I’m really happy for the goal and the result as we drew against a big team,” he said.
After regaining their supremacy in possession, United had another glorious chance near the end but defender Luke Shaw shot straight at Patricio from the edge of the area, to the relief of the home fans in the 31,314 crowd.
A win would have taken United above early pacesetters Liverpool and Arsenal on goal difference.
But Solskjaer seemed content to have collected four points from the opening two games after most pundits had ruled out his team’s chances of being title contenders this season.
“First half was a mature performance. Second half was a bit sloppy,” said the Norwegian. “In the first half, we dominated possession. In the second half, we knew they were going to come out like a house on fire... Then we took control again and could have won it. We are a young team who will learn. We learned on the pitch today.”
As against Chelsea, United were far more solid at the back, led by 80 million pounds ($97.05 million) close-season signing Harry Maguire, the world’s most expensive defender.
He is building a strong partnership with Victor Lindelof that may banish memories of the uncharacteristically shaky United defences of recent years.
Up front, they looked fast and fluent, with Rashford and Martial showing a good understanding and receiving excellent support from Jesse Lingard and pacy new signing Dan James.
Wolves also drew their first game, 0-0 at Leicester.
United next host Crystal Palace in the league on Saturday while Wolves face a trip to Torino in a Europa League playoff first leg on Thursday before hosting Burnley on Sunday.
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2019
LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday formed a three-member independent panel of experts to review and finalized the six provincial cricket associations’ squads which will feature in the revamped domestic season that starts from Sept 12 with the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy.
The panel includes former Pakistan captains Misbah-ul-Haq and Rashid Latif along with ex-Test spinner Nadeem Khan, according to a PCB media release.
It may be mentioned that Misbah has already been appointed as camp-commandant of the pre-season Pakistan camp and now gets another role to finalize the provincial squads. The PCB domestic department with the expertise of former members of the selection committee and current members of the national junior selection committee had already finalized the provincial squads but the independent panel will review their selections before giving a final shape to those teams.
It may be mentioned that reports are emerging that the PCB would adopt a new model of future Pakistan team selection from three modes which are currently under consideration. The topmost scenario which has emerged is that Misbah is tipped to become the chief selector-cum-head coach of the national side.
The new system at the domestic level will see Sindh, Central Punjab, South Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Northern Areas competing instead of the defunct formula of previous seasons when as many as 16 teams — eight regions and as many departments — playing first-class cricket.
The PCB media release further stated: “The three-member panel [comprising Misbah-ul-Haq, Nadeem Khan and Rashid Latif] will meet at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday after which the six teams will be announced next week with details to follow in due course.
“The provisional sides were prepared by Tauseef Ahmed, Wajahatullah Wasti, Wasim Haider [members of the ex-national selection committee], Saleem Jaffer, Arshad Khan, Rao Iftikhar, Taufeeq Umar [members of junior selection committee], Akram Raza, Azam Khan, Ijaz Ahmed Jr and Raj Hans, who had taken into consideration the performances of the players in the previous season and their future prospects.
“The independent panel will finalise 32 players for each association — who will be offered domestic contracts by the PCB for a 12-month period — and recommend names of the captains for the first and second XIs.”
PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan, whose post has been changed from that of Managing Director after the implementation of the amended PCB constitution said: “The PCB has constituted a panel of highly respected cricketers to assess and review the balance, composition and strength of the six sides to ensure there remain no gaps. The knowledge, expertise and experience of these three cricketers with regards to domestic cricket is second to none as they are actively involved in the process in one way or another.
“With the void of a current national selection committee, the PCB drew on the knowledge of former national selectors, the current junior selection committee and coaches to select the provisional squads.
“To ensure we are ready for the start of the new season in September, this initial process was required to ensure we keep moving forward positively in the interim period until the cricket associations are fully operational and functional.
“Bringing in an expert independent three-member panel to critique and sense check the provisional player lists will support our ongoing pledge to remove any claims of nepotism or favoritism through a merit based and transparent process.
“I want to thank all members for their hard work in putting together provisional squads and confident that the critical and objective review by the independent experts will further enhance and strengthen the integrity and credibility of the teams, the PCB and its domestic events.”
Meanwhile, Rashid Latif said: “I am thankful to the PCB for considering me for this important assignment and look forward to making a meaningful contribution in consultation with my other respected colleagues.
“We all need to see a highly competitive and strong domestic cricket structure, in which there should be cut-throat competition. This is the only way we will be able to narrow the gap with international cricket and, in this relation, selection of players and team combinations is a critical element to that objective.
“Pakistan boasts some very exciting and talented cricketers and we will try our best to provide a good and equal balance across all sides so that every match counts and each performance is valued.”
The forthcoming season will run from Sept 12 to April 24.
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2019
LEEDS: Australia’s star batsman Steve Smith has been ruled out of the third Ashes Test beginning on Thursday after suffering concussion, Cricket Australia announced on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old — who has scored two centuries and 92 in his three innings in the first two Tests — was felled by a Jofra Archer bouncer on Saturday in the first innings of the second Test at Lord’s.
Smith’s absence will be a huge blow to Australia who hold a 1-0 lead in the five Test series and victory at Headingley would ensure they retained the Ashes.
Their other batsmen have not looked convincing — experienced opener David Warner has totalled just 18 in his four innings — with Smith being the lynch-pin.
“Steve Smith has been ruled out of the third Ashes Test at Headingley, with coach Justin Langer confirming the news after the batsman sat out Australia’s training session on Tuesday,” Cricket Australia announced on their website.
The team doctor Richard Saw had the final say on whether Smith played or not and he was seen speaking with him during team training on Tuesday.
According to the website vice-captain Pat Cummins patted Smith on the shoulder and coach Justin Langer wrapped his arm round the former captain as the rest of the squad trained without him.
Smith — who has risen to number two in the world batting rankings — was pictured with his head in his hands and Langer looking glumly at the ground.
Smith, whose two centuries in the first Test were pivotal in Australia taking a 1-0 lead, returned to bat on Saturday despite the blow to the side of the head that felled him. He added 12 runs before being out.
However, he was unable to play on the fifth and final day on Sunday as he awoke feeling ‘groggy’. Australia held on to draw the Test with his concussion substitute Marnus Labuschagne playing a key innings.
The Ashes series is the first being played under the International Cricket Council’s new concussion substitute regulations, as part of the inaugural World Test Championship.
The regulations allow players who have suffered head or neck injuries to be replaced fully by a substitute, who was previously restricted to fielding alone.
During Saturday’s play Smith was wearing a helmet without the additional stem guard neck protection introduced following the death of his former Australia team-mate Phillip Hughes who was hit by a bouncer in a domestic Sheffield Shield match in Sydney in 2014.
Australia, bidding for their first Ashes campaign triumph on English soil in 18 years, lead the series thanks to a 251-run win at Edgbaston a fortnight ago.
In that match, Smith marked his first Test since completing a 12-month ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa with superb innings of 144 and 142.
Smith has two weeks to be ready for the fourth Test at Old Trafford in Manchester, which starts on Sept 4, with a three-day tour match in Derby from Aug 29.
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2019