Over 12 thousand students appeared in Zalmi cricket trials

LAHORE (APP) – Over 12 thousands students belonging to KPK government schools appeared in cricket trials for the selection of teams to take part in the Zalmi school cricket league to be played later this year in KPK.

“Massive number of students belonging to twenty five thousand government schools of the KPK took part in the trials which showed their passion for cricket and their aim to be part of Zalmi teams”, said a spokesman of Peshawar Zalmi while talking to APP here on Tuesday.

The first phase of the Zalmi school league was completed last year in December and the event was named after the martyrs of Army Public school,  Peshawar. He said the trials were held under a combined project of Peshawar Zalmi Foundation, Elementary and Secondary Education Department, KPK, to promote cricket among school students.

“Through trials we have selected teams of Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Hazara and MalaKand while teams team of Peshawar and Mardan will soon be named”, he added.

“We are working on a mission which is to provide equal opportunity to the students of KPK to use our platform to play cricket and to progress ahead with our help ,provided they have the necessary talent and potential”, he asserted.

He said through school league new talent will be identified which will also serve Pakistan cricket in due course of time.

“We shortlisted a number of talented cricketers from the first phase of our school league and we are confident to find a pool of players from our coming event”, said the spokesman.

He said Zalmi school league is a big step forward to expand and strengthen the base of the game and to secure the future of cricket.”That time is not far when we will be providing ‘finished products’ to serve Pakistan cricket in years to come”, he said. 

‘Fearless’ Pakistan ready to put England under pressure

LONDON (AFP) – Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur believes his “fearless” side have everything to gain when they face an “under the pump” England in the first Test at Lord s on Thursday.

England will be looking for some much-needed home comfort after recent winless Test tours of Australia and New Zealand extended their poor away record in cricket s longest format to 13 matches without a victory.

Pakistan, by contrast, enter this two-match campaign on the back of a morale-boosting five-wicket win over Test debutants Ireland at Malahide last week.

“We haven t come here not to win,” Arthur told reporters at Lord s on Tuesday.

“It s a changing room full of very, very skilled cricketers, very young cricketers, fearless cricketers. If we get the breaks and things go our way, they will certainly put England under pressure.”

England, in their first Test since Ed Smith became their new head selector, continue to have doubts over a batting order where captain Joe Root has been promoted to number three, wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow to five and Jos Buttler recalled at seven.

And with Jack Leach injured, England could give a Test debut to his fellow Somerset spinner Dominic Bess.

“In their home conditions, England are a different team to England abroad,” said Arthur. “We ve had a look obviously at Buttler, he adds an attacking side to England.”

Two years ago, England were held to a 2-2 home draw by Pakistan in a four-Test series.

Since then veteran batsmen Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have both retired, with Pakistan hoping the likes of Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq can fill the void.

But it is Imam-ul-Haq, the nephew of Pakistan selection chief and former Test batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq, who has made three fifties from as many games this tour — including a match-clinching innings against Ireland.

“He s a totally different character to Inzi,” said Arthur of Imam, a 22-year-old left-handed opener, who is somewhat quicker between the wickets than his celebrated uncle.

“He played beautifully for us, under pressure, against Ireland in his Test debut.”

Arthur believes Pakistan are fitter now than when he took over two years ago and more aggressive with it.

“We are an incredibly fit unit. The guys have trained unbelievably hard, not that we weren t coming in 2016 but that was the start of almost the fitness regime,” he said.

“The brand of cricket we are playing is certainly more attacking. We felt we needed to change with the times and get another bowler in,” the former South Africa and Australia coach explained of a side captained by wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed.

Much could depend on Pakistan left-arm quick Mohammad Amir, who has enjoyed Test success and a Champions Trophy triumph in England, as well as a 2017 County Championship title with Essex, since his career was almost ended by his involvement in a spot-fixing scandal at Lord s during the 2010 tour.

If the 20-year-old Bess plays he won t be the youngest slow bowler in the match, with 19-year-old Pakistan leg-spinner Shadab Khan replacing the injured Yasir Shah.

England appear set to decide between seam-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes and injury-prone fast bowler Mark Wood for the last place in their XI, with one of pacemen Rahat Ali or Hasan Ali dropped from Pakistan s 12-man squad.

“There will be an Ali playing!” joked Arthur.

Meanwhile Buttler was well aware of the threat posed by Pakistan, whose last Test at Lord s saw them beat England by 75 runs.

“They ve lost some experience, but as we saw in the Champions Trophy, Pakistan are a very strong side,” he said.

England will field a trio of Test veterans in opener Alastair Cook and the new-ball duo of Stuart Broad and James Anderson.

“With all that comes a lot of responsibility and accountability,” said Arthur. “A couple are under the pump.

“Our guys don t fear that at the moment. They are looking to grab the opportunity with both hands.

“I just hope they do because if they do it solidifies exactly what we want to do with Pakistan cricket.”

‘Won’t disappoint if given chance’, Fakhar Zaman determined to make test debut against England

KARACHI: Pakistan ODI opener Fakhar Zaman is a part of the test squad currently touring England and is determined to prove himself in test if given chance against England.

In an interview in Leicester recently, he said that it was coach and captain’s decision to put him in the team. He expressed his wish to begin his test career from the historic Lord’s stadium and prove his mettle in the longest format of the game.

He further said that test cricket is the toughest form of the game in which players can realize their true potential. He said he would not let the opportunity slip away from his hands to prove himself yet again if given chance.

The first test between Pakistan and England is scheduled on May 24 at Lord s.

Stokes makes low-key exit after IPL struggles

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Ben Stokes cost the Rajasthan Royals $10,000 for every Indian Premier League run he managed this year, making him a luxury even by the opulent league’s standards.

Stokes, under pressure over a looming court case for a street fight, was voted the IPL’s Most Valuable Player last year and was the top foreign signing for 2018 with a $1.96 million deal.

But he left India this week having scored just 196 runs in 13 games.

By contrast New Zealander Kane Williamson, captain of table-topper Sunrisers Hyderabad, has bashed his 625 runs so far for less than $725 each. And he is still going strong.

Many commentators believe England star Stokes’ off-field troubles have blunted his performance on the pitch.

“Ben Stokes hasn’t been that aggressive in-your-face cricketer in this tournament due to what’s happened,” said former New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris.

“And part of that reason I think is because he has to keep a low profile. That’s not his personality,” Styris told AFP on the sidelines of his Star Sports show Select Dugout.


Stokes in a rut


The Royals, coming back after a two-year corruption ban and struggling in the race for a playoff place, have badly missed the explosive batting and bowling that made Stokes one of the world’s leading allrounders. He managed just eight wickets with the ball.

“He needs to be that Ben Stokes the character who dominates the game,” added Styris.

“He was the number one allrounder in the world, he was MVP,” the cricketer-turned-commentator said.

Stokes was picked up for $2.16 million with Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017 and lived up to his reputation by hitting 316 runs and taking 12 wickets in 12 matches. It sealed him a big reputation in India, which is why the Royals took the risk.

Former Australia batsman Dean Jones said Stokes’ relative lack of international cricket in recent months had affected his performance.

 

“Don’t go there and start smacking from the word go.

“It’s all about momentum at the start. If you have scores under your belt then you relax in your job, but he hasn’t got that.”

It was another Englishman, Jos Buttler, who stole the Royals show this year. Buttler’s showing was in stark contrast to Stokes’ as he hit 548 runs in 13 games at a strike-rate of 155.4.

Like Stokes, Buttler has returned home to prepare for England’s first Test against Pakistan at Lord’s on May 24.

The English duo recorded a video message for Royals fans before leaving, in which they expressed hope that the champions of the IPL’s opening 2008 season would at least make the final four.

Royals play their last league game against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday.

The seven-week tournament has $8 million in prize money, including $4m for the team crowned champions at the May 27 final in Mumbai. 

 

Botham backs controversial 100-ball cricket format

LONDON (AFP) – England great Ian Botham has backed controversial plans for a new city-based 100-ball competition despite widespread criticism from within the game.

The former all-rounder believes England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves is right to press ahead with the “Hundred” concept in the hope that it can match the global appeal of the Indian Premier League and Australia s Big Bash, both played under Twenty20 rules.

But the Durham chairman s comments are in contrast to those of other current players, including his county s captain Paul Collingwood, who led England to their World Twenty20 victory in 2010 and believes a bigger effort should be made to exploit the existing competition, the T20 Blast.

Botham believes the new tournament, due to start in 2020, could compete with the other popular franchise leagues.

“The game has to move on,” he said. “I think we re in danger of diluting the red-ball game too much and going down the one-day road, but that s what the public wants at the moment and we re trying to do something different.

“No one s agreed anything yet regarding the new competition so we ll have to wait and see how it all falls into place. But we needed a competition in England to compete with the Big Bash and the IPL — everyone else has one and we ve been slow to pick up on it.”

Botham was speaking at a ceremony to mark the renaming of a pavilion at Durham s ground in honour of Collingwood.

Collingwood challenged the assertion, made by Graves last week, that young people are not attached to the sport.

“If you took that survey around the northeast it wouldn t be very accurate,” he said. “But they ve been out there, they ve done the surveys and they re saying it needs to be grown, so you ve got to take their word for it.”

“If the T20 game was marketed well in England, I think it would bring the crowds in and bring in a new audience,” he added. “But who is to say this  Hundred  competition isn t going to be bigger and better? We ll just have to wait and see.”