Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The HUNDRED

As pricing is released for the brand new Hundred Competition, we take a look at the structure, participants and schedule of the competition.

Following the euphoria of England’s incredible World Cup victory last July, many fans of English cricket have been asking whether the new Hundred-ball competition will ‘cash in’ on securing new audiences that have gained an interest in the game, or do the opposite and become a significant deterrent due to the potential confusing nature of the game. What fans can unanimously agree on is the fact that the competition allows England’s best talent to showcase their skills on a huge stage against the best in the world.

When will the Hundred take place?
The competition will take place from the 17th of July to the 16th of August. Scheduled in the summer school holidays, the aim is to attract more families and younger audiences. All teams will wear a unique The Hundred Official Replica Cricket Shirt.

How many teams are there and where will the matches take place?
There are 8 teams that will be taking part in the competition at the following venues:

1. Birmingham Pheonix - Edgbaston
2. London Spirit - Lord’s
3. Manchester Originals - Old Trafford
4. Northern Superchargers - Headingley
5. Oval Invincibles - Oval
6. Southern Brave - Ageas Bowl
7. Trent Rockets - Trent Bridge
8. Welsh Fire - Sophia Gardens

What is the format of the game?

   100 balls per innings
   A change of ends after 10 balls.
   Bowlers deliver either five or 10 consecutive balls.
   Each bowler can deliver a maximum of 20 balls per game.
   Each bowling side gets a strategic timeout of up to two and a half minutes.
   A 25-ball power-play start for each team.
   Two fielders are allowed outside of the initial 30-yard circle during the powerplay.

Birmingham Pheonix:
Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Pat Brown, Liam Livingstone, Kane Williamson, Ravi Bopara, Benny Howell, Tom Helm, Shaheen Afridi, Adam Hose, Cameron Delport, Henry Brookes, Adam Zampa, Riki Wessels, Chris Cooke

Northern Superchargers:
Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, David Willey, Aaron Finch, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Chris Lynn, Adam Lyth, Richard Gleeson, Ben Foakes, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, David Wiese, Nathan Rimmington, Brydon Carse, Ed Barnard, John Simpson

London Spirit:
Eoin Morgan (c), Kyle Abbott, Mohammad Amir, Rory Burns, Mason Crane, Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Jade Dernbach, Dan Lawrence, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammad Nabi, Luis Reece, Adam Rossington, Roelof van der Merwe, Mark Wood

Manchester Originals:
Jos Buttler, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Imran Tahir, Dane Vilas, Phil Salt, Tom Abell, Dan Christian, Wayne Madsen, Wayne Parnell, Mitchell Santner, Joe Clarke, Marchant de Lange, Ed Pollock, Eddie Byrom

Oval Invincibles:
Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Jason Roy, Sunil Narine, Sam Billings, Sandeep Lamichhane, Rilee Rossouw, Reece Topley, Hardus Viljoen, Alex Blake, Will Jacks, Chris Wood, Nathan Sowter, Laurie Evans

Southern Brave:
Jofra Archer, Chris Jordan, James Vince, Andre Russell, David Warner, Liam Dawson, Shadab Khan, Tymal Mills, Ross Whiteley, Delray Rawlins, Ollie Pope, George Garton, Alex Davies, Max Waller, Craig Overton

Trent Rockets:
Joe Root, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Rashid Khan, D'Arcy Short, Lewis Gregory, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Steve Mullaney, Matthew Carter, Luke Wood, Tom Moores, Luke Fletcher, Ben Cox, Dawid Malan, Luke Wright

Welsh Fire:
Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, Colin Ingram, Mitchell Starc, Steve Smith, Ben Duckett, Ravi Rampaul, Simon Harmer, Qais Ahmad, Liam Plunkett, Ryan ten Doeschate, David Payne, Ryan Higgins, Danny Briggs, Leus du Plooy

All Rounder Cricket is an official stockist for all the teams in the Hundred Ball Competition. We will be stocking the following Hundred Replica Shirts: Birmingham Pheonix Replica Shirts, London Spirit Replica Shirts, Manchester Originals Replica Shirts, Northern Superchargers Replica Shirts, Oval Invincibles Replica Shirts, Southern Brave Replica Shirts, Trent Rockets Replica Shirts and Welsh Fire Replica Shirts.

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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Pakistan Cricket's Decade: The Highs 2010-19

As this year 2019 comes to an end, this decade is also drawing to a close.

This year belonged to Babar Azam. He played that one match winning ODI innings that will define him as a batsman for many years to come; he came into his own as a Test batsman ending the year with 3 centuries in 4 tests; and he ended 2019 as the only batsman in the top 6 of ICC's Batsman Rankings across formats.


This decade, however, was about the many accolades that Pakistan won across formats; the many memorable moments the team gave us despite all the turmoil that surrounds them.

We started the decade with Pakistan as the World T20 Champions; we are ending it with Pakistan as the number one ranked T20 team in the world.


We started the decade with Pakistan an average ODI team; we are ending it the same way. However in the middle of the decade, Pakistan toppled over the best in the business and won the ICC Champions Trophy.

We started the decade with Pakistan mesmerized by a new teen pace sensation; we are ending the decade with Pakistan mesmerized by a new teen pace sensation.


We started the decade with Misbah taking over as captain of the test team; we are ending the decade with Misbah taking over as Head Coach and Chief Selector of Pakistan's cricket team.

We started the decade with a season in Pakistan that had no tests played in the country; we are ending the decade with the country hosting its first test series in 10 years.

Following Pakistan cricket is no less than a roller coaster ride. The bumps, twists, and turns are aplenty, but it is the highs amidst all the lows that we all live for as there is no other feeling in this world that compares with that of the highs.

Here is my list of 10 of the greatest moments in Pakistan cricket that we witnessed over this past decade ... in chronological order ...

July 2010, Leeds
Pakistan vs Australia
Pakistan registered its first test victory over Australia in 15 years in a match they had no business winning! 1-0 down, a captain retired, a new captain in place, a young and inexperienced team, and Pakistan managed a test win as the world witnessed the emergence of a new left arm teen fast bowler from Pakistan who could have been the next big star ...


January 2012, UAE
Pakistan vs England
Up against the number one test team in the world and what does Pakistan do? Push them aside, clean sweeping them 3-0 winning each of the three tests in remarkable fashion on the back of Saeed Ajmal's and Abdur Rehman's heroics.


March 2012, Dhaka
Pakistan vs Bangladesh
Bangladesh were on course to win their first ever Asia Cup but the unlikeliest of heroes for Pakistan, Aizaz Cheema, delivered a near perfect last over of the Asia Cup Final to take Pakistan home by a margin of 2 runs!


November 2013, Port Elizabeth
Pakistan vs South Africa
Chasing 260 odd, South Africa required 20 off 18 deliveries with 6 wickets in hand. Hashim Amla, batting in the 90s, and JP Duminy were at the crease. Pakistan's magic was in the works as South Africa failed to chase handing Pakistan a 1 run win, which made them the first Asian side to win an ODI series in South Africa.


March 2014, Dhaka
Pakistan vs India
A close Pakistan vs India game is a thing of the past century and pretty much a myth for anyone born in the new millennium. But this game was closer than any in the past and it ended with not one but two sixes of the bat of Shahid Afridi when Pakistan required 10 runs to win off 5 deliveries with only their last wicket standing.


October 2014, UAE
Pakistan vs Australia
Pakistan's first test series win against Australia in 20 years! And it was quite an epic win with Australia outplayed in all departments in both the tests to give Pakistan a 2-0 series victory. I will always remember the series for Misbah Ul Haq's fastest test ton equaling Sir Viv Richard's 30-year old record (it has since been broken by Brendon McCullum).



July 2016, Lord's
Pakistan vs England
Another Misbah century, another test victory, but this one was special because of the push ups! What a celebration it was as the team paid tribute to the army jawaans who had helped train the boys in green for the tour.


May 2017, Dominica
Pakistan vs West Indies
Pakistan had never won a test series in the West Indies. This series was tied 1-1 and the third and final test was in its last few minutes with the West Indies having fought it out till the end! It was also the last test of Misbah's and Younis Khan's careers. The way it ended was simply fantastic with Yasir Shah picking up the final wicket of his final delivery of the match.


June 2017, The Oval
Pakistan vs India
After getting hammered by India in their opening game of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Pakistan were down and out. However remarkable wins over South Africa and Sri Lanka, followed by an unlikely win over England in the semi final, resulted in Pakistan reaching the final. Up against India, whom they had barely beaten in recent times, Pakistan had a herculean task in front of them. But they lived beyond everyone's expectations on the back of Fakhar Zaman's hundred and Mohammed Aamir's wickets of India's top three.


June 2019, Edgbaston
Pakistan vs New Zealand
This was just epic. Not because Pakistan won and gave themselves an outside chance of qualifying for the semi finals of the ICC World Cup 2019. Not because Babar Azam scored a career defining and match winning hundred. Not because Aamir started proceedings by clean bowling Guptill. This was epic because of the Birmingham crowd, a 25,000 strong Pakistani crowd. This was by far the best crowd experience I have ever had at any sort of event. There is truly no sight better than an in-sync passionate and energized group of Pakistanis cheering on the boys in green.


By winning the Champions Trophy and the Test Mace in this past decade, Pakistan achieved a rare of feat of winning every single ICC trophy (U19, WC, WT20, CT) and the Test Mace. Nothing short of EPIC!


You can reminisce about this past decade with all these magical moments and think that it was fabulous, or you can think of all the disastrous ones and feel that it was a terrible decade.

That is Pakistan cricket for you, best defined by Nasser Hussain's quote of the decade "Pakistan cricket at its best. One minute down. Next minute up."


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Monday, December 23, 2019

Babar, Abid, Naseem Rising for Pakistan

Quite a start to the day for Pakistan cricket fans.

A first test victory under Azhar Ali, a 5 wicket haul for teen pace sensation Naseem Shah, and a test series win that saw the rise of Babar Azam in test cricket, the legendary test debut of Abid Ali, many shattered records, and a jump to number 3 in the World Test Championship!

Yes, number 3 ...

Here is a look at the feats of Naseem, Babar, and Abid in the just concluded Test series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka

The Arrival of NASEEM SHAH
Everyone was excited to see a new teen pace sensation coming out of Pakistan when he was selected in the test squad to face Australia.

A video of his 8 over spell in a side match in Australia circulated on social media with enthusiasm not seen since Mohammed Aamer's breakthrough series in 2010.

On his test debut in the first test against Australia, he bowled with pace and snared the prized wicket of David Warner. But he was left out of the second test against Australia and everyone thought he was going to be mismanaged like so many others in Pakistan.

Then there was news of him joining the U19 team for the U19 World Cup. Moving backwards? Not surprising given Pakistan.

Sanity prevailed however and he was part of the test squad to face Sri Lanka.

Two wickets in the only innings of the first test and wicket-less in the first innings of the second test resulted in some saying he was over rated.

But like most Pakistanis, who like to surprise you when you are least expecting it, Naseem Shah showed the world why he was so highly rated by the Pakistan management.

A haul of 5-31 with the last 3 wickets coming in the space of 11 deliveries and Naseem Shah had arrived!

He finished the test in no time this morning and made fans reminisce the times when Wasim and Waqar used to mop up tails within minutes.

Naseem became only the second 16 year old in Test Cricket history to pick up a 5 wicket haul in an innings. He is also the second youngest ever to do so!


Creating records already!

The Rise of BABAR AZAM
For the past three years, he has dominated limited overs cricket and has shown that he is one of the best ODI and T20 batsmen in the world at the moment. While he averaged above 50 in both white ball formats during this time, his test average languished in the mid-30s.

The start of this season however, his fourth in test cricket, Babar made it a point to translate his ODI and T20 success to the Test format.

He started the season with a 104 against Australia at Brisbane and with the end of the Test series against Sri Lanka he has scored 3 test centuries in 4 tests. In the one test that he missed out on, he scored 97.

With scores of 1, 104, 97, 8, 102*, 60, and 100*, in 7 tests innings this season, Babar has cemented his position as Pakistan's premier test batsman.


In the two year period starting January 2018, Babar has the best test average in the world among all batsmen who have scored at least 1,000 test runs.

He has a better average than Smith, Kohli, Williamson, and Root during this time.


In all international cricket formats in 2019, Babar Azam is right up there with the very best in the business. He has the third highest runs tally, third best average, third most 100s, and third most 50s in all formats this year.

Babar is the number 1 ranked batsman in T20Is, number 3 in ODIs, and number 6 in Tests. He is the only batsman in the world who is among the top 6 in each format currently! (Kohli is number 1 in tests and ODIs and number 10 in T20s).

Babar's time is now and he is set to dominate all formats of the game for many years to come.

The Legendary Debut of ABID ALI
Abid Ali has been a heavy scorer in domestic cricket for the past many years, and he finally got an opportunity to represent Pakistan this year.

He began his international career with a bang scoring a century on ODI debut in the UAE against Australia earlier this year.

Abid followed that up with a century on Test debut against Sri Lanka becoming the first batsman in the 142-years of cricket history to score a 100 on ODI and Test Debut.

I say we hand him a T20 debut too asap!

Abid has also become the first Pakistan batsman to score a 100 in each of his first two Tests.


He has really been on a roll.

With scores of 109*, 38, and 174, Abid Ali has scored 321 runs in his first three test innings, which is the third highest number of runs scored by batsmen in their first three test innings (behind Tip Foster's 355 and Lawrence Rowe's 336).

It is not without reason that Abid Ali is referred to as "Legend" in the dressing room.

Records Broken by PAKISTAN BATSMEN
Abid Ali, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, and Babar Azam all scored centuries in the second innings of the second test against Sri Lanka. This was only the second instance of a team's top 4 batsmen scoring centuries in the same innings; and the first ever instance of it happening in the second innings.

Shan Masood, brought up his second test century, cementing his position as Pakistan's first choice opener in Tests. He put on a 278 run opening partnership with Abid Ali, which made its entry in multiple places in the record books.

It was the highest opening partnership in tests against Sri Lanka, breaking a 15 year old record set by the legendary duo of Hayden and Langer.


It was the second highest opening partnership in tests for Pakistan ever, missing the record by a mere 20 runs.


It was the third highest opening partnership in the third innings of a Test.


ICC World Test Championship
This series win by Pakistan has catapulted them to number 3 in the WTC table, and now they join India and Australia as the only teams with a series win in the WTC.


Pakistan rank ahead of Sri Lanka because of more series wins (SW). RPWR stands for Runs per Wicket Ratio (Runs scored per wicket lost minus run given per wicket taken). If teams are on equal points then the team with more series wins ranks higher; and if still equal then the team with a better RPWR ranks higher.

Now that Pakistan has opened its account in the WTC and new Tests stars have emerged at home, there is much to look forward to in 2020 and beyond.

May this be the start for these exciting players and may they reach greater heights in the years to come.


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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Can Altior take a page out of England's book?


England produced history in the summer by winning the Cricket World Cup for the first time in their history. It was a game that will live long in the memories of everyone who watch a breath-taking final between the Three Lions and New Zealand at Lord’s. Eoin Morgan’s men were triumphant on boundaries scored after the game was decided by a Super Over.

Rise To Dominance

England built a reputation of being the most dominant side in the 50-over game by winning all over the world – not just in the comfort of their own homes. That is what makes a great champion. There are examples all over the world of teams that have been able to win on the road or out of their own countries when the chips have well and truly been down or conditions have been against them. The sign of a great champion is also bouncing back when you have suffered adversity.
Morgan’s men were beaten three times in the group stage, putting their place in the semi-finals in jeopardy, losing to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia. However, they regained their form to win four-straight games to secure the crown. The resilience more than their quality was the driving force, needing to overcome huge obstacles to win the title. It is a characteristic that another one of the great competitors in the sporting world will need to define.
Victory is a fickle friend all across the sporting world. If we look to racing, our eyes fall on the great jumping horse Altior who recently suffered his first defeat since April 2015, ending an incredible run of 14-straight victories. Cyrname was the competitor to final oust Nicky Henderson’s charge from the top spot in their duel in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot. The victory was no fluke as the French thoroughbred had too much for his rival from start-to-finish. When Cyrname powered down the stretch, Altior had no answer as his opponent eased over the line to claim the victory by two-and-a-half lengths.

Can Altior Emulate England’s Exploits?

The taste of defeat will be unfamiliar to Henderson, jockey Nico de Boinville and more importantly Altior will be wondering why he’s not enjoying the delights of the winners’ circle. The result has affected the bookies’ confidence in the Irish thoroughbred, with his horse racing betting oddsdropping to 5/1 for the King George VI Chase on December 26 at Kempton Park. It is a contest full of quality runners and would take the nine-year-old on to new ground where he has not competed over three miles before in his illustrious career.
However, it would offer the perfect chance to bounce back. When England were seemingly down and out in the World Cup their next match was against one of the favourites for the competition India on a pitch that suited their opponents more than the host nation. Morgan’s men rose to the occasion and delivereda fine performance to secure a comfortable victory. The eyes of the National Hunt will be on Altior in the King George VI Chase where he could face off once against Cyrname among others including last year’s winner Clan des Obeaux. It would fitting for the great horse to prove his doubters wrong to reclaim his place in the winners’ circle at the first time of asking.

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Pakistan vs Australia Test Series: Selection Decisions for Pakistan


Pakistan's T20 International series against Australia was not the kind of start that new T20 captain, Babar Azam, was looking for; however we at least witnessed Babar take charge and impose his authority with the bat in 2 of the 3 T20 games.

Suffice to say that captaincy burdens will not hamper Babar's batting ability.

Despite Pakistan suffering a 2-0 loss, there has been plenty of excitement building up among the Pakistan fans for the upcoming Test Series.

Particularly due to the video clips of Naseem Shah's bowling circulating on social media.



This boy is going to be a sensation.

Even though it was Imran Khan whose 5 wickets destroyed Australia A in the 3-day match, every Pakistani was focused solely on Naseem Shah's 8 overs, his speed, and his 1 wicket.

There is something about a free flowing express pace bowler who keeps the batsmen jumping.

Naseem Shah is the real deal and every Pakistani is hoping he is the one who will continue the legacy of Pakistan's pace bowling.

But will Misbah and Azhar Ali play him in the first test that starts in 3 days?

Here's a look at some selection decisions that Pakistan will face for the first test against Australia.

THE BOWLING
Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah are sure starters in the 4-man bowling attack that Pakistan will field in the first test against Australia at Brisbane.

That leaves two spots and a choice between Shaheen Afridi, Imran Khan, Naseem Shah, and Muhammad Musa.

Musa impressed in the 2-day game against Cricket Australia XI with figures of 2-32 in his 14 overs. He generated quite a but of pace too, consistently bowling in the 140s.

Shaheen has been on a comeback trail and had a good outing against Australia A, picking up 2-42 in 16 overs in the first innings and 1-22 in 9 overs in the second.

Imran Khan was the star of the first practice game with sterling figures of 5-32.

But the talk of the town has been Naseem Shah!

So who gets to play come Thursday?

It will be a tough choice for the Pakistan team management. I think Imran Khan and Shaheen Afridi would be the wise choice, but I really want to see Naseem Shah in the XI.

While Pakistan's bowling does look exciting, its ability to pick 20 Australian wickets is debatable.

THE BATTING
In fact, I believe that Pakistan's batting will shine in the upcoming test series and it will be the bowlers who will struggle against the Aussie batting.

Babar Azam has been in wonderful touch. He kicked off the T20s with two 50s and then followed that up with an unbeaten 150 odd against Australia A. He dominated an international level bowling attack and played some stunning strokes in that innings, leaving everyone in awe of his talent and form.



Iftikhar Ahmed has also been in great form since his comeback to the side in the home series against Sri Lanka. In Australia, he played a brutal unbeaten knock of 62 of only 30 odd deliveries in the last T20, and in the 3-day match against Australia A, he again played an unbeaten knock of 79. Bowlers have found it extremely difficult to dismiss him, and all his unbeaten knocks have catapulted his average in T20 Internationals to a whopping 75!



Asad Shafiq, the mainstay of Pakistan's Test batting line up for the past many years, has warmed up for the test series with centuries in each of the practice matches. He scored an unbeaten 119 against Australia A, where he was involved in an unbroken partnership of 276 with Babar Azam. He followed that up with another unbeaten knock of 101 against Cricket Australia XI, where again he put on a century partnership with Babar.

The openers Shan Masood and Imam Ul Haq have also warmed up well. Shan managed scores of 65 and 76 in the two matches, while Imam played a solitary innings of 44.

The only batsmen not to find any form were Pakistan's new Test Captain, Azhar Ali, and Haris Sohail. Azhar scored 11 and 1 in the two innings against Australia A and then sat out the match against CA XI. While Haris has scores of 18, 2, and 4 in the three innings he played in these practice games. Haris also had a very disappointing T20 series.

THE PLAYING XI
Even though Haris Sohail scored a 147 in the last test series he played for Pakistan, I feel his struggle in Australia is real and he should sit out the first test. Moreso because Iftikhar Ahmed has been in red hot form and deserves to add to his solitary test cap.

The other 5 batsmen pick themselves.

The bowling, as mentioned above is the tricky part, however I am sold on the excitement generated by Naseem Shah, and I feel Pakistan should play two bowlers who bowl in the 140s, rather than two who bowl in the 130s.

I am not convinced with Mohammad Rizwan's ability to shine in international cricket, but there is no choice really. Abid Ali, while a far superior batsman, is not an international level wicket keeper. One needs a specialist for Test matches.

Here's my XI for the first test1. Shan Masood 2. Imam Ul Haq 3. Azhar Ali 4. Babar Azam 5. Iftikhar Ahmed 6. Asad Shafiq 7. Mohammad Rizwan 8. Yasir Shah 9. Shaheen Afridi 10. Mohammad Abbas 11. Naseem Shah

Can't wait for this Test Series to start already!

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Monday, October 28, 2019

Pakistan's New Look Test Attack

With the test retirements of Mohammad Aamer and Wahab Riaz, Pakistan's selectors had to look into the trenches to find able replacements for the upcoming Test tour to Australia.

The Chief Selector, Misbah Ul Haq, surprised everyone when he named young pacers, Naseem Shah and Muhammad Musa, and the domestic spin stalwart, Kashif Bhatti in Pakistan's Test squad.

Niether of them have played international cricket yet.


Also returning to the fold was Imran Khan Snr, who has appeared in 9 tests for Pakistan but last appeared for them three years ago!

These 4 join the experienced Yasir Shah, and somewhat experienced Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Afridi, in a 7 man attack that is part of Pakistan's Test squad for the two tests against Australia.

These 7 have played 61 tests collectively. Nathan Lyon alone has played 91!

Talk about inexperience, that too for a place like Australia.

We all are aware of what Yasir, Abbas, and Shaheen are capable of. Here is a look at what made the selectors include the other 4 in the squad.

KASHIF BHATTI
He is 33 and has been around the domestic scene for 12 years now.

A left arm finger spinner, Kashif has a very impressive domestic record, having picked up 327 wickets in 83 first class matches at an average of 22.8 and economy of 2.6. He is quite handy with the bat too averaging 24.2 in these 83 FC matches with 10 fifties and 2 hundreds.

Kashif has represented Hyderabad in the domestic circuit and in the newly revamped domestic circuit he is part of the Sindh team.

In the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Kashif has played 3 matches in which he has picked up 10 wickets at an average of 27.4 and economy of 2.04!

He not only has wicket taking ability but can also stop the flow of runs, which as we know is what Misbah likes for choking the opposition in Test cricket.

In recent times, Pakistan's spinners have started their International careers in the 30s, including legends like Saeed Ajmal and Yasir Shah. It is the same for Kashif who has finally got his chance; he would be looking forward to getting an opportunity in Australia.

NASEEM SHAH
He is the most exciting name in Pakistan's line up in my view. Naseem is only 16 and he is extremely fast!

He made his first class debut only a year ago and has played a mere 5 first class games. However the impression he has made in those games is good enough to give him a crack at International cricket in a place where the wickets are the fastest in the world.

In 5 FC matches, Naseem has picked up 17 wickets at an average of 18.7 and economy of 2.9.

In the ongiong Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, he is representing Central Punjab and he is the second highest wicket taker among pacers with 9 wickets at an average of 26.2.

Naseem is a very exciting prospect and he would relish the opportunity to have a go at the Australian batsmen in Brisbane and Adelaide.

MUHAMMAD MUSA
He is another young tearaway at 19 years old and we all saw him turn out for Islamabad United in the PSL earlier this year.

But why he is in Pakistan's test squad, I am not too sure.

For his 17 wickets, he averages 37.5 in 7 First Class matches and in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, his 5 wickets have cost him 68.4 per wicket.

I understand he is an exciting prospect and probably has a bright future ahead of him, but there are so many other pacers in the domestic circuit, who are currently doing so much better in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, who could have been considered for the Australia tour.

Just to name a few, the likes of Sameen Gul, Haris Rauf, Tabish Khan and Ehsan Adil have been quite impressive in the QeT, and definitely far better than Musa has been.

IMRAN KHAN (Snr)
I also do not understand what has resulted in a recall for Imran Khan. He has not had a good QeT with 5 wickets in 4 matches at an average of 54.8. He has not done much in the 3 years that he has been out of Pakistan's Test side. Nor does his Test average of over 30 make it seem like he was dropped unfairly.

Then why is he back when there are so many more talented pacers in Pakistan?

While Naseem and Kashif are inspired selections and both represent players with immense potential who can deliver for Pakistan; Musa and Imran Khan selections do not make much sense.

I am most excited about Naseem Shah and hope he gets a chance to play at least one of the test matches down under.

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Sunday, October 27, 2019

Why was Pakistan's T20 Squad Overhauled?

We have already discussed the unfortunate decision to replace Sarfaraz Ahmed as captain of the T20 team. A team that he had taken to the top of the ICC T20 Rankings.

Before Sarfaraz was replaced, he had to contend with the inclusion of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal in his T20 squad for the series against Sri Lanka.

Instead of blooding fresh faces at home in conditions known to local players, Misbah Ul Haq's selection committee decided to bring in tried, tested, and failed players.

Who failed once again.

As a result, Pakistan lost the series 3-0 and Sarfaraz Ahmed was sacked!

Pakistan's two senior most cricketers - Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez - were unavailable (with the PCB's permission) for the T20 series due to their CPL commitments.

So fine you needed to replace them but why bring in Shehzad and Umar when other promising prospects are available?

What is even more disturbing is that for a tough tour to Australia, Misbah's selection committee has not only decided to change the captain of the T20 team, they have chosen to ignore Malik and Hafeez, and have selected uncapped and untried batsmen like Khushdil Shah and Imam Ul Haq respectively.

With all due respect to Imam Ul Haq, who I believe is one of Pakistan's best batsmen in Tests and ODIs, I really do not think that his game is suited to T20 cricket.

Khushdil Shah is also a promising middle order batsman with a penchant for power hitting, but he really should have been tried at home against Sri Lanka. The selectors are not doing him any favors by sending him to Australia for a first taste of international cricket.

But what have Malik and Hafeez done wrong?


Since The World T20 in 2016, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez have been Pakistan's leading batsmen in T20s, after the newly elected captain Babar Azam.

Malik is in fact the second highest run scorer, behind Babar, during this period.

Hafeez is the only other batsman from Pakistan, besides Babar and Malik, to average in the 40s.

Their performances with the bat, and the ball, and in the field, have contributed immensely towards Pakistan's number 1 ranking in the world.

Not only for Pakistan, but both Malik and Hafeez have been among the best in the world in T20s over the past 3 years.


Malik is among the top 10 run scorers in the world in T20 Internationals in the past 3 years.

His average is the third best among these batsmen, behind Babar and Maxwell. His strike rate is also the third best among these batsmen, behind Maxwell and Munro.

Besides Maxwell and Malik, there are no other batsmen in the world who average above 40 and have a strike rate above 150 in T20 Internationals in the past 3 years.

Mohammad Hafeez is among the only 9 batsmen in the world who have an average above 40 in T20 Internationals in the past 3 years (among top 8 teams with a minimum of 10 innings).

Then why were Malik and Hafeez ignored for the T20 series against Australia?

Shouldn't they be the backbone of Pakistan's World T20 campaign next year?

Should they not get some innings in the conditions where the World T20 will be played in 2020?

What are Misbah and co thinking?

There was absolutely no need to tinker with the T20 team.

Instead Misbah has overhauled a team that was the best in the world!

Unbelievable ...

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Was it Right to Sack Sarfaraz Ahmed?

Sarfaraz Ahmed is gone.

His time as captain of Pakistan's national team across all three formats is over and for now his time as a player is over too!

While I was still trying to get my head around this decision, Pakistan's new and all powerful Chief Selector announced the Test and T20 teams for the tour to Australia, which left me even more perplexed.

My head is in a cross wire over all these changes and I am still trying to make sense of them.


CAPTAINCY CONFUSION

When the announcement came, the headline read "Sarfaraz Ahmed removed as Pakistan Captain from all 3 formats".

Azhar Ali was announced Test Captain, Babar Azam was announced T20 Captain, and a decision on the ODI captain was deferred till July 2020, which is when Pakistan plays its next ODI.

Within minutes, however, the article was updated:

So which one is it?

Has Sarfaraz been retained as ODI captain or has he been removed?

I still don't know.


WAS IT RIGHT TO REMOVE SARAFRAZ?

There is no easy answer.

Pakistan won the Champions Trophy under him two years ago.

They failed to qualify for the World Cup semifinals but only because of Net Run Rate. They ended the World Cup with 4 straight wins.

Pakistan have won their last 6 ODIs under Sarfraz.

Pakistan have been the number 1 ranked T20 team for two years under Sarfaraz. No Pakistan captain had a better record in T20s than him.

Considering all this, maybe he should have been retained.

But then you think about all those losses in ODIs against the top 8 teams. Besides the wins in CT2017, Pakistan barely registered any victory against the top 8 ODI teams under Sarfaraz.

You think about losing a first ever test series in the UAE, which had become Pakistan's fortress under Misbah Ul Haq.

You think about the clean sweep in the T20 series against a second string, albeit talented, Sri Lanka.

But even then was the captaincy strip warranted?

A closer look at Sarfaraz's captaincy record reveals this:

TESTS
13 matches | 4 wins | 8 losses | 1 draw
568 runs at 25.81 with 5 fifties

He looked out of depth as test captain.

His batting suffered.

While those numbers are not bad, they are not good enough for someone who wanted to bat in the top 6. For a number 7 WK they are also strictly okay. He was far better before he took on the captaincy and was averaging in the 40s.

ODIS
50 matches | 28 wins | 20 losses | 2 NR
804 runs at 32.2 and SR of 87.3 with 5 fifties

A W:L ratio of 1.4 is not bad.

However, a closer look at the wins shows that 17 out of 28 came against the top 8 ODI sides, out of which 8 wins were against Sri Lanka.

Out of the remaining 9 wins, 3 came on the trot leading to the Champions Trophy win.

Pakistan never looked like a world beating ODI team under Sarfaraz, except for that 1 week in 2017, however it wasn't all that bad either.

His own form too was alright. An average of 32 for a wicket keeper is fine in my opinion. He probably did not fit in the top 5 but at 6 or 7 he was fine.

He perhaps could have continued as ODI captain. Maybe he will. Who knows.

T20Is
37 matches | 29 Wins | 8 losses
521 runs at 27.4 and SR of 130.6

Someone who achieved these numbers did not deserve to be sacked.

Under Sarfraz, Pakistan won 11 consecutive T20 series, beating all teams in all sorts of conditions. They beat England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka, and even a World XI.

Pakistan rose to the top of the International T20 Rankings and remained the number 1 T20 team for two years.

They still are the number 1 T20 team, despite the 3-0 loss to Sri Lanka.

Pakistan have won only 1 out of their last 6 T20 internationals, however after a string of wins across 11 successful series, the selectors should have been a bit more considerate.

While remaining as ODI captain is debatable, Sarfaraz surely did not deserve to be sacked as a T20 captain. Even his batting record was fine in T20s.

Sarfaraz was one of the most successful captains in the history of T20 cricket. The least the PCB could have done was give him a chance to lead the team in a World T20.



*                   *                    *

In my view, it was right to remove Sarfaraz as test captain and replace him with Azhar Ali. In fact, Azhar Ali should have always been test captain. It is quite unfortunate that Azhar was made ODI captain and did not get the test captaincy, after Misbah's retirement, because of his failure as an ODI captain.

Removing Sarfaraz as T20 captain is completely unjust. Sure Pakistan lost 3-0 to Sri Lanka but take a look at the 3 years before that. Does that count for nothing?

I wish Babar Azam all the success in the world - as a batsman and as Pakistan's T20 captain. But his time could have come later. Pakistan need his batting right now more than his captaincy.

Sarfaraz should have been the one to lead Pakistan in next year's World T20.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

What can we expect from new BCCI President, Sourav Ganguly?

In the year 2000, Sourav Ganguly was handed the reins of the Indian cricket team due to the match-fixing scandals by other players and the resignation of Sachin Tendulkar from the post due to his poor health. Ganguly went on to take the Indian team to new heights, the highlight being the 2003 World Cup when India reached a World Cup final after 2 decades. 19 years later, Sourav Ganguly is again at the position of responsibility with great challenges and in the center of cricket news, this time as the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Ganguly will be the first president of the BCCI since the Lodha Committee reforms were implemented.

After retiring from international cricket in 2008, Ganguly played in IPL till 2012. In the last seven years, Sourav Ganguly has been part of various organizations related to cricket He’s the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal - a post he will most likely hand over to Avishek Dalmiya. Ganguly is also the President of the Editorial Board with Wisden India. Ganguly is a member of the Technical Committee, Indian Premier League. Sourav Ganguly is also one of the four members of the Indian Premier League’s Governing Council. He was appointed at this position by the Supreme Court in 2016. Ganguly has also been the chairman of the Cricket Association of Bengal’s Cricket Development Committee.

The BCCI President elections were scheduled to be held on October 23, but as Ganguly was the lone candidate applying for the job, he was elected unopposed as the President. Ganguly will assume office on October 23, along with his team consisting of Jay Shah and others. Provided that Ganguly’s cooling-off period will begin as mentioned in the Lodha Committee recommendations, he, for the time being, is supposed to serve on the post for ten months. He will become only the second Indian cricketer to serve as the president of the BCCI. Maharaja of Vizianagaram was the first cricketer to be the BCCI president, a post which he served between 1954 and 1956. Some other cricketers like Suni Gavaskar and Shivlal Yadav have served as the interim BCCI President.

Sharing his vision, Ganguly said that First-Class cricket will remain his priority. Given that there are close to 200 matches every year in the Indian domestic cricket circuit, it is natural to have this as the top priority. Ganguly also spoke of getting India its fair share and representation at the International Cricket Council. Tackling conflict of interest and repairing BCCI’s tarnished image is also high in Saurav Ganguly’s agenda. Ganguly said that in the next few months, everything will be put in place and normalcy will be brought in Indian cricket again. There is no doubt in the fact that Ganguly is focused BCCI to the top just like the India cricket team, which is playing nothing less than a Dream11 team.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka T20s - Over Reaction Much?

Pakistan played its first international match under the new regime of Misbah Ul Haq against Sri Lanka a couple of weeks back and convincingly won the ODI by 60 odd runs.

They posted a 300+ total on back of a Babar Azam century, a Fakhar Zaman fifty, and a late flourish from Iftikhar Ahmed who looked very promising on his return to the international fold.

Pakistan followed that win with another one, this time chasing down a 290 odd score with few balls to spare. They won it comfortably by 5 wickets and Iftikhar was there once again at the end.

The successful chase was set up by the openers - Fakhar who followed his 54 with a 76, and Abid Ali who impressed once again with a well made 74.

Abid looks like a million bucks in the middle.

ODI series won 2-0 and there was hardly any hue and cry about it. Pakistan extended its ODI winning streak to 7 and no one made any noise about it.

That's fine. It was a second string Sri Lankan team so wins were expected.

But chasing 290 odd is not something Pakistan does often, so I feel it was a great win.

Moving on to the T20s and Pakistan could not have started off on a worse footing.

The first public reaction was to the return of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal to Pakistan's T20 squad. Just this resulted in tremendous amount of criticism for the new Chief Selector / Head Coach, Misbah Ul Haq.

How could he bring both of them back into the team?

Shehzad and Umar Akmal are tried, tested, and failed batsmen at the International level so what really resulted in them being recalled?

For starters, Pakistan's two most experienced T20 batsmen, Shoaib Malik (averaging 44 in T20s since 2016) and Mohammad Hafeez (averaging 31 since 2016) were unavailable due to their CPL commitments.

This meant, Pakistan needed 2 replacements for the squad. But no one expected the 2 replacements to be Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal.

Umar Akmal had not played a T20 for Pakistan since he was axed in September 2016, while Shehzad was dropped in June 2018.

So they must have done something during this time to warrant selection, right? Let us take a look.


AHMED SHEHZAD

In PSL 2019, Ahmed Shehzad scored 311 runs at an average of 51.83 and strike rate of 126.93. He knocked 4 fifties in 8 innings with a highest score of 99.

Shehzad was one of the only two batsmen who averaged 50+ during the PSL. The other was AB De Villiers.

This performance justifies selection in my opinion. But what I don't understand is that while Pakistan's first choice openers in T20s - Fakhar and Babar - are fit and fine and performing, what is the need of an Ahmed Shehzad? And what is the need to drop Fakhar and play Shehzad? And what is the need of playing Shehzad at #3 when all his runs have been scored while opening?

Selection might be justified, but giving him opportunities over Fakhar makes no sense.

UMAR AKMAL
Umar did not even have a great PSL 2019 like Shehzad. He scored 277 runs in 10 innings at an average of 34.62 and strike rate of 137.12.

Decent numbers, but there were many who performed better than this; for example Imam Ul Haq (who is not considered a T20 batsman) and Umar's elder brother Kamran Akmal who was the leading national run scorer in PSL 2019 (behind only Shane Watson).

In December 2018, there was a National T20 Cup played in Pakistan. Umar Akmal played 5 matches scoring 109 runs at an average of 21.8.

Surely this performance does not deserve selection. There was a plethora of local batsmen who were far more impressive than Umar Akmal.

So while Shehzad's case of being selected still holds merit, Umar Akmal's does not.

Both of them however could have proven every one wrong through their performances but their failures in the two T20 losses to Sri Lanka have made them become a laughing stock.

Especially Umar Akmal who registered a golden duck in both games!

Misbah and Sarfraz have to be blamed for selecting them, playing them over the likes of Fakhar, Haris, and Iftikhar, and then persisting with them.

But I feel the reaction from the public has been a bit overboard.

I mean there are people out there calling for Misbah's head over this.

Give the guy a break for God's sake.

Pakistan just won the ODI series 2-0. I didn't see any praise from anyone. In fact no one even discussed the matches.

But the moment Pakistan loses two games, people are out with their knives and guns.

Bit overboard I feel.

The World T20 is a year away. Pakistan will play a dozen or so T20s before that tournament. This is not enough international exposure for new blood to be inducted into the team. There isn't enough time for preparation.

I also feel that Pakistan's T20 team is well set so you don't really need new players.

Shehzad and Akmal were brought back to fill in the shoes of Malik and Hafeez and with the CPL coming to a close, Pakistan's veterans will be back and the two prodigal sons will return to the wilderness.

I really don't think such reaction is warranted over what has happened. 

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Pakistani Ramblings ...

Pakistan are playing their first series since the World Cup, and while the results in ODIs were heartening, the team has been disastrous in the format in which they have been the top ranked side for some time now.

Before I talk about the series against Sri Lanka, I also want to take note of what happened during Pakistan's off season.

Pakistan got a new chief selector, they got a new head coach who is also the chief selector, got a new bowling coach too who is also the former head coach and former bowling coach, a new domestic structure was put in place, the newly designed Quaid-e-Azam Trophy kicked off, and as always there was an unlimited supply of drama, conjecture, and memes ... 

Misbah Ul Haq at the Helm ...Again!
For 7 years he ruled Pakistan cricket as captain. During that time, Pakistan's Test team reached unprecedented heights, but ODI and T20I cricket suffered like never before.

I feel the same may happen during his time as Head Coach. He is the best person for the job when it comes to Test Cricket, and given the start of the first ever World Test Championship, the timing could not have been more ideal for Misbah to take charge of Pakistan's Test Team.

But we also have two World T20 tournaments in the next two years, and for that I fear Misbah is perhaps not the right man to be coaching the team.

We can ignore ODIs for now as that is what all nations seem to be doing for the next two years.

Head Coach is also Chief Selector
Misbah is not only Pakistan's new Head Coach, he is also the new Chief Selector. This is the first time that anyone has been given this dual responsibility and it makes Misbah the most accountable person in Pakistan Cricket.

Not to mention the most Powerful too.

Pakistan, by all means, has become Misbah's team.

Only time will tell whether this dual role works or not, but in my view this structure has more merits than flaws.

Giving Misbah this dual role has taken away the blame game that has plagued Pakistan cricket for ages. Considering the close relationship between Captain and Coach, they will always get the squad that they want - which is great for Pakistan.

Waqar Younis is Back!
Again!? After several failed stints as head coach and bowling coach, Waqar is back as the new bowling coach of Pakistan. Not sure what Azhar Mahmood did wrong, neither sure of why we had to go back to Waqar rather than bringing in someone fresh.

Waqar has not had a good past as a coach. Pakistan has not had a good time with him as coach.

The only positive out of this is that Misbah and Waqar share a good working relationship.

Hopefully this time Waqar can focus on improving Pakistan's pacers and not worry about power struggles.

The New Domestic Cricket Structure
For 3 decades, Imran Khan has been voicing his opinion on how Pakistan's domestic cricket needs to be improved in order to achieve International success.

All these years, no one implemented Imran Khan's suggestions. But now that he is the Prime Minister, he can ensure that his plans are implemented.

The Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan's premier first-class domestic competition, featuring 6 regional teams under the new structure kicked off. Imran Khan believed that this format will provide for more quality cricket and will develop better cricketers for international cricket.

I am not too sure that has happened. But what we have seen is a number of tons and big scores by batsmen!

On the opening day, Sami Aslam and Abid Ali cracked unbeaten double centuries. Salman Butt even followed it up with one. Ashfaq Ahmed from KPK has already hit 3 centuries in as many matches, including a 173! International Azhar Ali, Kamran Akmal, and Mohammad Rizwan have both knocked two centuries each. And a number of others have scored tons too including Imam Ul Haq, Shan Masood, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Nawaz, Asif Ali, Fawad Alam, Adnan Akmal, and several others.

No bowler has really stood out. Yasir Shah is leading the wicket tally, but he has leaked so many runs resulting in a 40+ average, which at domestic level is quite mediocre. The finger spinners, Zafar Gohar and Bilal Asif have better returns and are a wicket behind Yasir.

Rahat Ali is the only pacer with some decent returns, but I refuse to mention any thing more about him.

While batsmen continue to make merry in the domestic circuit, they have struggled big time against Sri Lanka - particularly in the T20s.

Series vs Sri Lanka
Pakistan's first ODI assignment after the World Cup was a cakewalk. Their main batsmen - Babar, Imam, Fakhar, and Haris - all scored runs. When Abid Ali got an opportunity, he showed why he should be a regular in the ODI XI. And Iftikhar Ahmed, who seems to be the replacement for Shoaib Malik/Mohammad Hafeez, displayed enough potential to get a longer run with the team.

Iftikhar was there at the end in both the games finishing off Pakistan's innings in style.

Pakistan put up a score and defended it, and they also chased one down. Both with quite some ease.

ODIs won 2-0. Job Done. All praise for new support staff and Pakistan who took their ODI winning streak to 7.

Considering this performance, the T20s should have been a walk in the park. After all Pakistan are the #1 T20 team in the World. They have won more T20s and more T20 series than any other team in the past 2-3 years. They have beaten all comers, easily and comprehensively.

Yet, a new look Sri Lanka side has thrashed them in the first two T20s.

Prodigal Sons Return
The T20 series started on the worst possible foot with the inclusion of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal in the T20 squad.

I ignored it thinking that the presence of Babar, Fakhar, Haris, Asif Ali, Iftikhar, Nawaz, Imad, and the skipper Sarfraz would mean that Shehzad and Akmal will only warm the benches.

But no. They played. They played both T20s. They failed in both T20s.

What else was anyone expecting?

Shehzad and Akmal have been around for 10 years now, having made their International debut in 2009. This is enough time to realize that they will never fulfill the potential of their immense talent at this level. It is time to leave them forever in the domestic structure. It is fine, International cricket is not for them.

Had Pakistan invested this much time and  money in some other batsmen, they would be reaping the benefits by now.

I don't know what Misbah was thinking when including them in the squad and then in the playing XI. I don't know what Sarfraz was thinking when backing them. But at least we all know now that it is game over for them. Forever.

With Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez returning from the CPL and available for future T20 series, there will be no place for Shehzad and Akmal anyway.

Iftikhar is a good talent and he has shown in the 3 innings he has played so far that he is one for the long haul.

I hope Misbah has a better time when selecting and coaching the team for Australia !

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Saturday, September 7, 2019

Three Players Who Could Answer England’s Batting Problems In the Future


Although England are the number one team in the world now in the international one-day rankings, their Test performances have suffered as a result. The world champions have tried to covert explosive white-ball specialists into the Test arena and it has not worked.
Here is a look at three players England are likely to be monitoring closely and could get a call-up in the winter and beyond.

Haseeb Hameeb (Lancashire)



It was only a couple of years ago that Lancashire’s Haseeb Hameeb was seen as England’s future opening batsman. He made his debut for the Three Lions at the age of just 19 against India where he scored 82 runs in three matches before being ruled out due to a finger injury. Sadly for the youngster, he has been unable to impress the selectors enough to get a recall back into the Test team. Lancashire, who are now as short as 1/50 incricket betting for the County Championship Division Two, recently revealed that they will be releasing the batsman at the end of the current season, therefore, Hameeb will need to go elsewhere and prove himself again. There is unlikely to be a shortage of offers for the Englishman so don’t rule out him producing his best cricket again in the near future and forcing himself back into the England team.

Sam Northeast (Hampshire)

At the age of 29, Sam Northeast is now in the peak stages of his career and will feel now is the time he should be given the chance to shine in international cricket. The Hampshire batsman has scored three centuries in the Country Championship this season and is very much on course for passing 1000 runs when the campaign is over. Northeast has featured for the England Lions when they faced the West Indies A team in Antigua, so he has been on the selectors’ radar before. Given the season he has had domestically, there is a strong case to be made for him to be given an opportunity this winter when England travel to the southern hemisphere to take on New Zealand and South Africa respectively.

Dominic Sibley (Warwickshire)

No player has scored more runs in the County Championship this season than Warwickshire’s Dominic Sibley. The domestic game is there to support the England team and if statistics like that are used to help the selectors, then Sibley is surely top of the list when it comes to who will be the next man to given a chance in the Test fold. The 23-year-old has had a superb campaign so far and has really excelled since joining Warwickshire. Sibley still holds the record for the being the youngest player in County Championship history to score a double century as he did so as the age of just 18. If needed, the right-arm batsman can bowl leg-break which would give England another option with the ball in the winter.
For now, all the focus will be on the Ashes as England look to come out on top against their old foes Australia, but the selectors are sure to be thinking about what the future of this team is.

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Sunday, July 28, 2019

The First Ever World TEST Championship

The first ever World Test Championship gets underway in 4 days with the start of the first Ashes test on 1st August.

For a format that has been around for 142 years, it is about time that it gets a world championship.

Over the next 22 months, 9 teams will take part in 73 tests to crown a World Test Champion.

That is more matches than any ODI World Cup, and perhaps the longest world championship tournament for any sport ever.

Each team will play a total of 6 test series - 3 at home and 3 away as part of the World Test Championship.

England will play the most matches - 22 tests, while Pakistan and Sri Lanka will play the least - 13 tests each.

But there's no disadvantage as each of them vie for the same number of points per series.

There has been a lot of speculation over the points system considering that not all teams will play every other team, nor will they play the same number of matches. However, in my view, it is an ideal system given the economics of the game.

Here is a look at the points system, the schedule and my view on what is ideal and what is not.

THE POINTS SYSTEM

The Plus Points

The same number of points are available for each series.

No unfair advantage to teams that play more tests than others.

What can Improve?

Teams get the same points for a win at home and for a win away. Surely an away win should count for more, should it not?

It is easier to win 2 tests out of 4 or 5, than to win 2 out of 2; particularly on away tours where touring teams are still finding their feet over the first game.

England, who play the most number of tests, are playing for the same number of points as teams who play lesser games; meaning each test win for England will count for less points.

THE SCHEDULE
(click image to enlarge)

The Plus Points

Each team will play 6 other teams; 3 higher ranked ones and 3 lower ranked ones.

Each team will play 3 test series at home and 3 away.

Provides more context to every single test match this is played from hereon.

What can Improve?

India and South Africa have an unfair advantage - they play 2 more tests at home than they do away.

West Indies are at a major disadvantage - they play 3 more tests away than they do at home.

Not every team plays the other. Each team plays 6 out of the 8 possible opponents. Perhaps another two series could have been scheduled for each team, making it a 3-4 year tournament?

*              *               *

A new Test Champion every 4 years wouldn't be such a bad thing. That is how long it takes to crown a new ODI one too.

Irrespective, a World Test Championship sounds very exciting. It gives context to the test series being played and I am already looking forward to a WTC Final in 2 years' time.

That will be quite a game. At the home of cricket I believe.

Lord's has crowned an ODI World Champion on 5 occasions already; about time (well in 2 years) it crowns a Test Champion too.

Let the games begin!

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