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Wasim Khan unveiled as PCB’s new managing director

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Wasim Khan, Leicestershire’s chief executive, has been unveiled as the new managing director of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Wasim, who has been one of the leading lights of the ECB’s drive to engage British Asians in English cricket, forged his career as chairman of the schools’ cricket charity, Chance to Shine, before taking over at Grace Road in 2014.

He is understood to have been appointed to the PCB on a three-year contract, starting on February 1. He was sounded out for the role by Ehsan Mani, the former ICC chairman who was himself appointed as PCB chairman earlier this year by the country’s new Prime Minister, the former Pakistan allrounder Imran Khan.

“I am delighted to be offered the position of Managing Director of PCB – a role which I have accepted as a challenge,” said Wasim. “I have my roots in Pakistan, a country which is full of talent. I will be relocating to Pakistan with my family who are as excited as I am.”

Mani added: “We welcome Wasim who will be joining the PCB soon. He was selected unanimously following a robust interview process with some seriously good candidates. I must thank each and every applicant who participated in this process.

“Wasim brings with him fresh ideas and knowledge of cricket, and he will receive the support of the Board and the management of PCB.

“We have started the process of revamping the PCB and under Wasim, we now have an experienced leader of the management team who will oversee the implementation of the Board decisions. His first task would be to oversee the reforms of domestic cricket structure”.

Wasim’s departure is a blow to the ECB and, perhaps, sport in general in England and Wales. He is believed to be the only chief executive of BAME (black, Asian or minority ethnic) heritage at a professional sports club in the country and has long argued for greater ethnic inclusivity throughout the sport. At a time when English cricket is trying to reach out to Asian communities in particular, his departure leaves the game poorly represented.

For the PCB, on the other hand, the recruitment is something of a coup – especially as Wasim is understood to have been asked to apply for the ECB’s own vacancy, the England team MD role that Andrew Strauss recently relinquished for personal reasons.

The esteem in which Wasim is held in England circles was made clear in April, when he was appointed as chair of the ECB working party that was tasked with restructuring the domestic game for 2019. He remains a strong candidate to return to English cricket one day as the ECB’s chief executive.

Constitutionally, Mani will retain significant executive powers within the PCB’s new hierarchy, but Wasim is expected to take a lead role in the board’s corporate governance framework, working with all the PCB’s board-of-governors committees.

He will have a major say in the execution of approved strategies – in particular the reinvigoration of Pakistan’s domestic cricket, with a proposed move to eight regional sides – and is also expected to oversee the development of the PCB senior management executives to improve the board’s functionality and professionalism. At present it is thought that the board employs somewhere in the region of 900 people, at an annual budget of over Rs. 500million.

The ultimate feather in Wasim’s cap, however, would be to oversee the return of regular international cricket to Pakistan. In recent seasons, the successful staging of the PSL final (and latterly the semi-finals) has begun the process of bringing top-level sport back to the country, while Zimbabwe, West Indies and a World XI have all visited without incident since 2015.

However, Pakistan has not hosted a Test tour since the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in March 2009, and England have not visited since December 2005. Wasim will hope that his excellent relationship with ECB officials will help change perceptions about the country. In addition, as a long-time supporter of the PCA (the Professional Cricketer’s’ Association; the players’ union in England and Wales) he may also look to introduce a players’ union for Pakistan cricketers that would oversee the fight against corruption and doping.

The role is sure to bring a vastly different set of challenges for Wasim, not least at a cultural level. He himself is British-born, having grown up in Birmingham, but he intends to relocate with his family to Lahore, the city in which his wife’s parents have roots.

In his playing days, Wasim was a member of the Warwickshire squad that won the double in 1995. In addition to his administrative roles within cricket, he has also sat on the Equality & Human Rights Commission Sports Group, The Prince’s Trust Cricket Group, the board of Sport England and was recently named in the Parliamentary Review Muslim 100 Power List.

At present, the day-to-day workings of the PCB are centred on the Chief Operating Officer, Subhan Ahmad, who is among the board’s longest-serving employees, having started his career as a data analyst 20 years ago. He has worked alongside four previous chairman – Ejaz Butt, Zaka Ashraf, Shahrayar Khan and Najam Sethi – prior to Mani’s appointment.

In a further indication of the board’s renewed ambition, Sami-ul-Hasan, the ICC’s highly rated head of communications, has agreed to take on the same role at the PCB.



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David Hussey to replace Stephen Fleming as Melbourne Stars coach

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David Hussey, the former Australia batsman, is expected to be unveiled as the new coach of Melbourne Stars for next summer’s Big Bash League as early as this week, after winning a duel with ex-Victoria coach David Saker for the role to replace the outgoing Stephen Fleming.

ESPNcricinfo has learnt that, after having served in various assistant coaching roles since his retirement as a player, Hussey was ultimately considered the best choice by the Stars’ management and board to maintain the steady improvement of the men’s team in the 2018-19 BBL, where the club rose from its lowest-ever finish the previous season to be narrowly defeated by Melbourne Renegades in the competition final.

Formerly the captain of the Stars, Hussey has strong relationships with Fleming and also the Stars chief executive Clint Cooper, making for a more seamless transition from one coach to another than may have been the case if Saker had taken the job. Hussey was also named as a Cricket Victoria Board director in October 2018.

Hussey and Saker are believed to have interviewed for the job last week, with Hussey offered the role on Friday.

After working successfully as England’s bowling coach, Saker was named as the coach of Victoria and also Melbourne Renegades for 2015-16, before he was recruited by Cricket Australia as assistant coach to Darren Lehmann. He left that role in February following the conclusion of the home Test season, amid differences with Lehmann’s successor Justin Langer.

“Under Boof [Lehmann] particularly, we won an Ashes and had some really good series wins, so that was good. There were obviously some frustrating times after South Africa,” Saker said earlier this month. “New coach came in, things changed quite a bit, and I probably wasn’t as passionate as I was before that.

“On reflection, it’s probably a good thing that I got out, just refreshed myself. As I said, I’m ready to go again. I enjoyed my time with the Australian cricket team but I think it was time for me to move on.”

Fleming, also coach of Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, has remained a part of the Stars set-up as an international talent advisor despite electing, after reaching two BBL finals in four seasons, to exit the role. “I feel the time is right for me to step down and allow someone else to take the reins and the club forward,” he said when announcing his departure.

“The club is in very good shape having rebounded from last in BBL07 to grand finalist this season. Whilst we didn’t get the ultimate prize I’m confident that the group of players we have assembled will be motivated to go one further next season.”

The Stars, captained by Glenn Maxwell, appeared on course to win the BBL final comfortably at Docklands Stadium in February, before crumbling in their chase to hand the title to the Renegades.

“This will probably drive us next year, we’ll use it as motivation to go one step further,” Maxwell said at the time. “We were so close. With eight overs to go, we probably looked like we were winners. To fall that short is disappointing. It’s hard to take right now, but once the dust settles, we’ll get back into it next year.”



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Dimuth Karunaratne eases self-doubts with composed knock

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Sri Lanka’s less-heralded players helped ease through the side’s first test in the UK, as they beat Scotland by 35 runs via the DLS method.

Opener Avishka Fernando, who had had a poor tour of South Africa earlier this year, produced 74 off 78 balls, while Dimuth Karunaratne, on ODI captaincy debut, made 77 off 88. The pair put on 123 runs for the first wicket. Kusal Mendis also contributed 66 off 56 balls through the middle overs, but it was bowler Nuwan Pradeep who impressed most of all, taking 4 for 34 in the rain-shortened second innings.

For Karunaratne, the match was not only a test of his leadership, but also an examination of his batting. Having not played ODIs since the 2015 World Cup, there have been doubts over whether he could score quickly enough in this format. He was dropped twice before eventually being caught at long-on, but in making a half-century, and providing the middle order with a good platform, Karunaratne suggested he was not completely out of place in ODIs.

“Playing an international one-dayer after such a long time is not easy,” Karunaratne said afterwards. “I was under pressure early on and was struggling a little bit. But once I got set and thought about how to play – which bowlers I should target – I felt better. Fortunately, I got a couple of chances. But thanks to the runs I got, I got some confidence.

“Avishka was excellent as well. We know how capable he is. He can hit hard and rotate the strike as well. We talked to him about what we needed from him. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get a hundred, but I think he can get a big hundred in the World Cup.”

Sri Lanka made 322 for 8 in their 50 overs, but had seemed set for a score of over 350 at one point, before they experienced a serious middle-overs stutter. Having been 203 for 1 at the end of the 33rd over, Sri Lanka mustered only 19 more runs in the next seven overs, as they lost three quick wickets. While that slowdown was not ideal, it was important that Mendis and Lahiru Thirimanne stabilise the innings at that stage, Karunaratne said. Sri Lanka later made 99 runs in the final ten overs.

“We planned to bat out 50 overs, so when we were struggling in the 33rd over – we had lost a couple of wickets, in Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera – we were trying to make sure we batted long. Kusal Mendis was playing well, and Lahiru Thirimanne went in and did a good job. When you have wickets in hand, you can go for it at the end. We were struggling through that period, but we rotated the strike, and in the last ten overs we went for our big shots.”

Although they had a substantial score to defend, the arrival of rain partway through Scotland’s innings had complicated the task of Sri Lanka’s bowlers, who were visibly struggling to grip the ball. Pradeep, though, was able to maintain excellent control, and was rewarded with the Player of the Match award for his returns.

“When Scotland were going quite well, I spoke to Nuwan Pradeep and asked him to try a couple of bouncers,” Karunaratne said. “He did that really well and we were able to squeeze them through that middle period. It’s not easy to bowl yorkers, especially with the ball getting wet because of the rain. If you don’t execute it well it will go for a six. But Pradeep knows how he has to bowl, and he went for the straight yorker. I hope he takes that confidence into the World Cup.”



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ICC confirms James Vince, Liam Dawson cannot play Royal London Cup final

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Hampshire have been unsuccessful in their efforts to secure the availability of James Vince and Liam Dawson for Saturday’s Royal London Cup final after both were named in England’s World Cup squad, after the ICC confirmed that its regulations would not allow them to play.

The county entered into discussions with the ECB and the ICC in an attempt to have the pair released for the match at Lord’s despite the game taking place on the same day as England’s warm-up match against Australia at the Ageas Bowl. However, Hampshire soon resigned themselves to the fact they would be without their captain and spinning allrounder when they take on Somerset.

An ECB spokesperson said: “ECB made representations to ICC on behalf of the board and Hampshire Cricket in an attempt to ensure Liam Dawson and James Vince were available for their county for the Royal London One-Day Cup final.

“ICC regulations around global tournaments are clear that squad players are not permitted to play in domestic cricket after the start of the Support Period (May 23) and while we understand the ICC decision we are nevertheless disappointed that it will lead to two leading international players missing our showpiece domestic final at Lord’s.”

Vince, Hampshire’s captain and leading run-scorer in the competition, tweeted his disappointment on Tuesday at not being able to play.

“As it stands they are not available due to ICC regulations,” England’s national selector, Ed Smith, said earlier in the day. “But I also understand that Hampshire and the ECB are going to do whatever they can to make a case that they would be released if indeed they aren’t required by England. But, as it stands, they are not available. It falls within the support period.”

Following confirmation of the ICC position, Hampshire chairman, Rod Bransgrove, said: “Obviously this is very disappointing from the club’s point of view. I am grateful to the ECB and we accept the decision. We have done everything we can but the ICC is robust in its regulations.”

Speaking during Hampshire’s fixture at Newport on the Isle of Wight, Bransgrove had suggested the main sticking point was possibly in the fact that England would not be able to replace them if either player sustained an injury while at Lord’s.

“Hampshire and the ECB have made a joint-submission to the ICC’s technical committee to see if we can get a special dispensation to play the players in the final on Saturday and we await their response,” he said. “I understand there was a precedent set during a World Cup in Australia but I don’t know the full details of that.”

“If the ECB are successful in this application and the player becomes available, the selectors still have to make a decision as to whether or not he is selected for the game against Australia or freed to play in the cup final. My understanding is that if they were free to play in the cup final and they incurred an injury that would prevent them playing further cricket, the fact that they had been playing in a domestic competition and not a squad tournament would probably mean that England couldn’t replace them with another player.”

Both Vince and Dawson were additions to England’s 15-man squad, having not made the preliminary cut in April. Vince came in as a direct replacement for Alex Hales, after the reserve opener failed a drugs test, while Dawson’s Royal London Cup form helped him leapfrog Joe Denly for the reserve spinner spot.

Both players were integral to Hampshire, the cup holders, reaching a second successive Lord’s final. Vince had led the way with the bat, scoring 509 runs at 72.71, while Dawson claimed 18 wickets at 20.33 as well as averaging 45.66.





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