Category: News

No. 1 plan to keep Yasir Shah out – Peter Siddle

Peter Siddle, Australia pacer, has admitted that the team is wary of the spin challenge at hand in the upcoming two-match Test series against Pakistan and keeping leggie Yasir Shah at bay would be their No. 1 target in order to achieve success.

“He’s (Yasir) going to play a big part,” Siddle said on Tuesday (September 25). “Spin bowling in this series is going to play a massive part. I think it’s going to be a tough contest. He bowled well against us last series over here. He took a lot of wickets, so I think it’s going to be number one plan to keep him out.”

Yasir played a massive role in Pakistan’s 2-0 win the last time Australia had toured UAE – in 2015 – picking up 12 wickets at an average of 17.25.

However, this time around, it is not just Yasir but also the threat of young leggie Shadab Khan that will have to be countered. Australia have been preparing extensively for the spin challenge. After a couple of camps in Brisbane and an A series in India, where several of their squad players were involved, they are in Dubai for pre-series training. S Sriram, their spin bowling coach, has roped in two Indian spinners – legspinner Pardeep Sahu and slow left-armer K Jiyas – to aid them in their preparation.

Siddle believes they have had an ideal preparation for the two-match series. “I think in the past we’ve come into series, worked hard on spin but not specifically on what they’re bowling, the deliveries they bowl and the cues to watch as a batter,” he said. “We’ve been lucky enough to get a couple of guys come in that are very good spin bowlers. I think the big focus is they’ve got two star legspinners, Yasir Shah who we’ve played before, a great player, and Shadab Khan, who’s been playing and we expect to line up.

“So we’ve got a contest against those two guys, and having good discussions about different deliveries, what to watch, I think it’s been good for us tailenders as well to hear from different batters, the way they go about it, the way they watch the ball. It’s nice to hear from them and it gives us something to work on when we get in the nets. I definitely think it’s helped me personally and the other guys have definitely learned a lot from it.”

Siddle, who is returning to the national setup after almost two years, believes his role won’t change a great deal. With a lot of cricket taking place at the venues in the ongoing Asia Cup, the pitches are expected to deteriorate much quicker than they did in 2012. As a result, spin is likely to dominate, and his role would largely be to keep things tight and put pressure on the batsmen.

“I think for me it’s going to be similar to what I do in Australia, it’s about holding up an end, building pressure and trying to put the batsmen under a lot of pressure to generate those wickets,” he explained. “I don’t think my plan changes a hell of a lot from different conditions. But probably more so here it’s about hitting the stumps, making them play a lot more and having the fielders in the right positions.”

Siddle, who has returned to the national setup after almost two years, was a part of the team that lost to Pakistan on their last tour. Even as the team lost, he is hopeful of putting that experience to good in the upcoming series.

“Emotions come out in games and different things happen throughout matches, which you react to. Hopefully just being around the group and just giving a bit of knowledge about conditions… I’ve played in the subcontinent a lot, I’ve played here once before, and it’s just about talking about those experiences. I got to play under some great guys on my first ever Test tour [in India in 2008], Haydos and Punter and Brett Lee, guys like that who’ve played a lot of cricket.

“I’ve taken a lot of knowledge from them and hopefully I can pass a bit of that to these guys and watch them go forward. I think these days the boys have played a lot in the subcontinent, even the younger guys, so they’ve been exposed to those conditions, which is exciting. They’re not coming in here in an unknown world not knowing anything, so the young guys are preparing very well in the nets at the moment.”

As Siddle returns to the side, he will be playing under his third national coach – after Mickey Arthur and Darren Lehmann. In Justin Langer, he is expecting a more focused approach to the game, one that came to define his batting.

“He’s very intense. I think people could understand the way he went about the game when he played, how switched on and how hard he worked. I think we probably get a good understanding that’s how he’s coaching regime’s going to be. It started off like that, which is enjoyable. He knows his plans, knows the way he wants the team to go and I think the boys are getting a good feel for that over these first couple of days.

“I’ve had a few coaches over my time in the role as a player, but it’s always fresh when a new coach, a new person comes in, their personality and they way they want to coach and lead the team. It always gives a good vibe around the group and with the younger guys here also it’s been enjoyable.”

The two-match series is set to begin October 7 in Dubai. Before that, Australia will be facing Pakistan A at the ICC Academy for a four-day practice game.

Mohammad Shahzad approached to underperform in Afghan T20 League

Mohammad Shahzad, the Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman, has become the latest high-profile subject of a spot-fixing approach. The offer, made during the ongoing Asia Cup, was to underperform in the inaugural edition of the Afghan Premier League T20 to be played in Sharjah from October 5 to 23.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Shahzad immediately reported the approach to the team management, and all protocols were followed in raising the matter with the ICC’s anti-corruption unit. Shahzad was picked up by the Paktia franchise to play in a tournament that is set to feature a number of current and former internationals like Brendon McCullum, Shahid Afridi and Chris Gayle.

“There was an approach made during the Asia Cup, but for their [Afghanistan’s] own T20 league,” an ICC official said. “The matter was reported through the right channels on Saturday and is being looked into by the anti-corruption unit.”

Speaking at a media event in Dubai on Monday, Alex Marshall, head of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, confirmed as many as five international captains have been approached for spot-fixing over the last 12 months; four of them from Full Member countries. Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, is the only one to have publicly stated that an approach had been made, during the Sri Lanka series last year.

“There have been 32 investigations in the last 12 months, eight involve players as suspects,” Marshall said at the ICC’s headquarters. “Five of them involve administrators or non-playing personnel. Three of these individuals have been charged. Five internationals captains have also reported receiving approaches to spot-fix.”

Marshall underlined the need to work closely with all boards to prevent corruption and of the need to keep educating players about the many methods fixing syndicates use to spread their influence across the newly formed T20 leagues.

“We try to link up with the intelligence. We look at what we know about this event, are we providing anti-corruption cover, are we already there or is it being provided by another party? Are there any other strands of intelligence we have about that tournament. Is there anything about financial backers or the people surrounding the tournament are suspicious?

“We never launch off an investigation because something looks odd on the field or we get a single anonymous report. We get quite a lot of single, anonymous reports. We start putting the pieces together and there’s sufficient reason to think on reasonable grounds to start investigating this, then we take it on. We do find a lot of corrupters who move between formats of international and domestic, because they’re looking for the opportunity and vulnerability.”

On Sunday, Ehsan Mani, the new PCB chairman, expressed reservations of fielding Pakistan players in the upcoming T10 League citing doubts over credibility of franchise owners. Dave Richardson, the ICC chief executive, said the tournament had their backing, but also stated the need to remain vigilant. Mani, however, is yet to formally take a call on the matter and a meeting between him and the players is expected to take place soon.

“I will first satisfy myself that we have enough information on the T10 before we release our players,” Mani said. “We have to be satisfied where the money is coming from. We have to be satisfied who the sponsors are, we have to be satisfied who the franchisees are. None of this information exists in any file in the PCB today. Until we are satisfied there are no risks to the players, the board, or our reputation, no player will play. We are having discussions with ICC on this, and if they can give us assurances they do not have an issue with the T10, then I will not have an issue.”

Stuart Law resigns as West Indies coach

Stuart Law has resigned as West Indies’ head coach after less than two years in the job. The 49-year-old’s tenure will end following the tours to India in October and Bangladesh in November, after which he will move to England to take charge at Middlesex.

Law was credited with improving West Indies’ standing in Tests during his time in charge, as well as securing qualification for the 2019 World Cup. He was also involved with moves to bring back a number of star players, such as Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, after disagreements with the board.

“I have had to make the difficult decision to leave my role of head coach with CWI,” Law said in a press release. “It has been very enjoyable, and I believe we have made tremendous strides forward as a team during the past two years.

“I will be taking a role with Middlesex which will keep me close to my family, whilst continuing within the cricket family. I wish the players and staff of CWI every success in the future.”

Law took over from Phil Simmons, who was sacked in September 2016 on disciplinary grounds. He won six out of 15 Tests, including a famous chase of 322 at Headingley last year, and secured series wins over Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, as well as a draw with Sri Lanka.

The team’s record was even more impressive in T20Is – eight wins in 19 matches including victory over a World XI team at Lord’s in May. It was a different story in ODIs, though. He took over with West Indies having failed to qualify for the 2017 Champions Trophy and they had to make sure of a World Cup spot the hard way via the ICC Qualifier in Zimbabwe earlier this year.

CWI chief executive Johnny Grave said: “I am disappointed that Stuart is leaving as I believe that we have made real progress under his leadership. I know it was a difficult decision for him and that ultimately the opportunity to work in England, where his family is now based, was a major factor in his decision. We will start the process to appoint a new head coach immediately.”

Law has signed a four-year contract with Middlesex and will be their head coach for all three formats. He replaces Richard Scott, who left the club midway through the season with Middlesex struggling to mount a promotion challenge from Division Two of the County Championship. Law’s arrival also means the end of Daniel Vettori‘s two-season spell as specialist T20 coach.

A former Australia international who had a long county career with Lancashire, Essex and Derbyshire, Law said it was a “great privilege” to take on “one of the plum jobs in world cricket”. He has previously coached Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, as well as with Queensland and Brisbane Heat, and Cricket Australia’s high performance programme back in his home country.

Middlesex were crowned county champions in 2016 but suffered relegation a year later. They have consistently underperformed in the limited-overs formats since winning the T20 Cup in 2008.

“We have always tried to recruit the right kind of person at Middlesex and we believe Stuart is the right man to build on the foundations laid over the past decade,” Angus Fraser, Middlesex’s director of cricket, said. “He will provide a fresh voice and a fresh vision to inspire our players, and drive them towards our twin goals of promotion back to Division One of the county championship and limited-overs success.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Richard Johnson for leading the 1st XI in the county championship since July. Richard has done an excellent job since taking over from Richard Scott and has helped Middlesex finish the season on a positive note.

“I would also like to thank Daniel Vettori for his time and commitment to Middlesex as T20 coach. During the two spells Daniel had with us, he made a really positive impression on everyone at the club and we are grateful that he has been so understanding that the arrival of a new coach means that his specialist role will not be required next year.