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Moeen Ali to assist with England Lions camp ahead of Australia tour

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Moeen Ali will join an England Lions camp in Loughborough on Wednesday ahead of their upcoming tour to Australia.

Moeen, the offspinning allrounder whose most recent international appearance came in last summer’s first Ashes Test at Edgbaston, declared himself unavailable for the ongoing Test series in South Africa, writing in his Guardian column that he was hoping to “freshen up” while away from the side.

He is expected to remain absent for the two-Test series in Sri Lanka this March, having signalled his intention to “see out” his contract with Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League, but his presence at Loughborough suggests that his relationship with the ECB remains very healthy.

He will travel to South Africa for the white-ball leg of England’s tour at the end of the month, having been named in both the ODI and T20I squads.

Moeen will be joined at the Lions camp by Tim Bresnan, who played 23 Tests and 119 white-ball internationals for England between 2006 and 2015, with the pair asked to share their respective experiences of playing in Australia and adjusting to local conditions.

“I’d like to thank Tim and Moeen for their time this week at the camp,” ECB performance director Mo Bobat said. “I’m sure the information and experience they can impart will be very useful to many members of our squad as they look to hone their games to Australian conditions.”

The ECB has also confirmed that Lewis Gregory, the Somerset allrounder, will captain the Lions for both the 50-over and four-day legs of their tour, which starts later this month.

Gregory, who made his international debut during England’s T20I series in New Zealand in November, is Somerset’s T20 Blast captain, and has previously captained the Lions in white-ball cricket against Pakistan A last winter and in red-ball cricket against Australia A during the 2019 summer.

Tom Abell, his county team-mate, is vice-captain for the white-ball series, while Keaton Jennings – who is in line for a call-up to England’s Test squad for their tour of Sri Lanka – will be Gregory’s deputy in the four-day games.

Gregory said: “It’s an honour to be chosen to captain the Lions again and I’m looking forward to what will be a great challenge in Australia. I can’t wait to lead the team out at the iconic MCG against Australia A and try to lay a foundation for future England success Down Under across the whole tour.

“I’m fortunate to have some good experience around me, including Tom and Keaton – my vice-captains. It’s important to have reliable people to turn to for advice, as well as players who have experience of playing in Australian conditions, such as Mason Crane, Craig Overton and Richard Gleeson.

“It promises to be a tough but rewarding tour and one that will help all of us improve our games in unfamiliar conditions.”

Bobat added: “Lewis was an obvious choice to captain the Lions in Australia and I’m confident he’ll bring out the best in our two squads. His previous experience leading the Lions shows that he commands the respect of his team-mates. Tom and Keaton will provide great support in the white and red-ball formats respectively.”



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From Kingston to Karachi: England’s ten greatest away wins

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As England take the field for their 500th overseas Test at Port Elizabeth (which was, coincidentally, the scene of their first in South Africa in 1899), ESPNcricinfo takes a look back at ten of their finest away wins, out of a current tally of 149.

Kingston 1989-90

The gold standard of England’s overseas Test wins. It wasn’t simply that this result was unexpected, it was beyond the bounds of possibility, as wild a sporting upset as you could wish to encounter. England’s record against West Indies going into the first Test of 1990 was played 15, lost 14, drawn 1. They hadn’t won a Test against them since 1974, and they arrived in the Caribbean off the back of a 4-0 Ashes drubbing with a squad that had been ravaged by Mike Gatting’s rebel tour of South Africa. But in Graham Gooch‘s first outing as full-time England captain, he inspired a rag-tag army to surpass themselves. Angus Fraser claimed 5 for 28 to skittle West Indies for 164; Allan Lamb produced a majestic hundred to ensure that advantage didn’t go to waste. Despite an anxious wait for rain to clear in the closing stages, Wayne Larkins sealed an incomprehensible win by nine wickets.

Sydney 1894-95

Only three teams in history have won a Test match after following on, and Australia have been on the receiving end on each occasion – most recently at Headingley in 1981 and Kolkata 20 years later, but also way back in the mists of time on Andrew Stoddart’s tour of Australia in 1894-95, when Wisden declared the first Test at Sydney to be “probably the most sensational match ever played either in Australia or in England”. Australia recovered from 21 for 3 to rack up a massive 586, with Syd Gregory‘s ninth-wicket stand of 154 with Jack Blackham remaining an Australia record to this day, before chiselling England out for 325 by the close of day three. The follow-on proved arduous for the Aussies as Albert Ward‘s 117 kept them in the field for 181 further overs, but a target of 177 ought to have been achievable. However, heavy overnight rain coupled with a steaming hot sixth day gave the pitch an attack of the vapours, and Bobby Peel required no second invitation – despite apparently needing to be stuck under a cold shower to ease the effect of his own overnight watering. “Give me the ball, Mr Stoddart, and I’ll get t’boogers out before loonch!” he is said to have declared. He wasn’t wrong. Australia collapsed from 130 for 2 to 166 all out, losing by ten runs with two minutes of the session remaining.

Bridgetown 1993-94

The events in Barbados in April 1994 are proof, if nothing else, that long before the World Test Championship was introduced to provide officially sanctioned “context”, each individual Test match counted for something irrespective of the series scoreline. At 3-0 down with two to play, England were dead and buried on their 1994 tour. Their one chance at salvation, in the previous Test in Trinidad, had been scorched by Curtly Ambrose in their 46-all-out debacle, and after being routed by a West Indies Board XI in a practice match in Grenada, the prospect of a third blackwash in ten years was a clear and present danger – especially as they headed for Fortress Bridgetown, a venue where West Indies hadn’t lost since 1935. But then the miracle started taking shape. Alec Stewart and Mike Atherton added 171 for England’s first wicket, with Stewart going on to the first of his twin hundreds, before Fraser pounded through West Indies’ defences with a career-best 8 for 75. It couldn’t change what had gone before, but in a decade featuring just nine away wins, this was right up there with the best.

Adelaide 2010-11

Andy Flower, rarely one to let his guard slip, declared this to be nigh on the “perfect” England win, and despite the hyperbole, it’s hard to deny he had a point. This was a masterful initiative-seizing victory, a strike right at the heart of a rattled Australia team who had seen a routine win in the first Test at Brisbane quashed by the small matter of England’s second innings: 517 for 1. And Australia’s response to that indignity was calamity: a scoreline of 2 for 3 on the first morning as James Anderson snaked his way through the top order before Alastair Cook continued where he’d left off with another dry-as-dust 148. Enter Kevin Pietersen, who slapped a sun-baked attack for a punitive double-hundred, before Graeme Swann took his cue on the final day with five match-sealing wickets. To make it all the more perfect, the outfield was drenched by a thunderstorm barely half an hour after the finish.

Mumbai 2012-13

It may all have ended in tears and recrimination, but like ABBA or Fleetwood Mac, Cook and Pietersen sure made some beautiful music when the mood took them. Two years after Adelaide, they reprised the same rhythm with another chalk-and-cheese alliance, and this time the impact on their opponents was even more stark. India had eased to victory in the opening Test in Ahmedabad, though not before Cook’s 176 in the second innings had shown his team the requisite bottle for Indian conditions. But when he repeated that dose in the first innings at the Wankhede, this time Pietersen was waiting to turn on the style. Newly “reintegrated” to the England team after the textgate row of the summer, he disintegrated India’s resistance with an astonishing onslaught – 186 from 233 balls included a firestorm of boundaries against spinners R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha. And talking of spinners, who should be waiting to ice England’s cake? Their own spin twins, Swann and Monty Panesar – the perfect combo for the conditions – who wrapped up the contest with 19 wickets between them.

Sydney (and Melbourne) 1954-55

Blows to the head aren’t generally advised in this day and age, but one of the most famous blows of all time is widely acknowledged as the catalyst for one of the great series turnarounds. Two years after winning the Ashes back on home soil for the first time in 19 years, Len Hutton‘s prospects of retention weren’t looking too promising after an innings thumping in the opening match of the 1954-55 series, in Brisbane. His key fast bowler, Frank Tyson, claimed 1 for 160 in that match, and his tour took another turn for the worse when he was knocked out by a Ray Lindwall bouncer in the second Test at Sydney. But from that moment on, the joke was on Australia. “I was a little cranky,” Tyson later admitted, as he blew through Australia with six second-innings wickets, to turn a 74-run deficit into a famous 38-run win. Two weeks later in Melbourne, he was in an even crankier mood – nothing could survive his second-innings 7 for 27, as Australia were wrecked for 111.

Brisbane 1986-87

Okay, so the quality of the contest was a notch below the usual standards – Australia really were at a low ebb in this post-Lillee, pre-Warne era. But who could failed to be swayed by the optics? Like the cackle of Emperor Palpatine in the trailer for the latest Star Wars, the first Test at Brisbane heralded the rise of an Australian nemesis whose best endeavours had been buried for so long, you could only assume he was finished. But no! Back he strode to his throne of Ashes – revoltingly mulleted and broader at the midriff than in his heyday, but still possessed of an eye like a dead trout. Merv Hughes bore the brunt of Ian Botham‘s 14th and final Test century, as England seized an initiative that carried them to glory with a Test to spare. Can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field indeed…

Johannesburg 2004-05

England’s tour of South Africa in 2004-05 was a bruising, shattering bunfight – ideal preparation, in hindsight, for the ultimate test that awaited that summer against Australia, but at the time it seemed likely that the two teams would punch themselves to exhaustion. England might have been 2-0 up after two, but for South Africa’s epic rearguard at Durban, and instead it was 1-1 with two to play after a Jacques Kallis masterclass had set up an innings rout in Cape Town. Cue the craziest contest of the lot at the Wanderers, where Marcus Trescothick transformed a faltering third innings with a blistering 180 – including 58 priceless runs for the tenth wicket with Steve Harmison. The only trouble was… who was left to take the wickets? Harmison the bowler was on his last legs, and the rookie Anderson was out of his depth at this early stage of his career. Up stepped the shop steward, Matthew Hoggard, with an inspirational 7 for 61, including a first-ball outswinger to Kallis that has to rank among the greatest deliveries in English Test history.

Karachi 2000-01

“Stay in the game at all costs!” Nasser Hussain‘s exhortation was writ large across this magnificent heist, as his team of honest toilers gained their rewards at the end of an exhausting series dominated by slow and at times thoroughly tedious batting. But with the series deadlocked at 0-0 with just minutes left to play of the penultimate evening in Karachi, Ashley Giles unpicked the lock with the vital scalp of Inzamam-ul-Haq and England sensed their moment to strike. Pakistan lost their final seven wickets in just under 30 overs on the final day to leave England with a race against time – 176 runs before nightfall. Pakistan’s captain, Moin Khan, mocked their optimism, knowing full well that the encroaching winter darkness would save them before long, but umpire Steve Bucknor refused to give in to his time-wasting and insisted that play had to go on. Graham Thorpe anchored the chase with a masterful 64, as victory was sealed with an inside edge past the stumps, and through a Pakistan infield that could no longer see where the ball was going.

Port of Spain 1973-74

In a week when debate has raged about the relative merits of England’s great allrounders, here’s a compelling submission from the forgotten master, Tony Greig. His decision to join World Series Cricket in 1977 – and the concurrent rise of Botham – mean that his derring-do is too easily overlooked, but when his game was on song he was every bit the colossus. Needing victory to square the series in the final match of their 1974 tour of the Caribbean, Greig used every inch of his 6ft 6in frame to unleash his lesser-spotted offspin to devastating effect. He racked up 8 for 86 to restrict West Indies to a first-innings lead of 38, then added a further 5 for 70 in the second innings as the hosts, chasing 226, collapsed from 63 for 0 to 199 all out. It was the end of the road for Garry Sobers and Rohan Kanhai, two Caribbean greats, who never played again. But England wouldn’t win again for another 16 years, as Clive Lloyd and his mean machine prepared to roll into the region …



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Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez back for Bangladesh T20s

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The experienced pair of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will return to the Pakistan side for the T20I series against Bangladesh next week. Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz have been left out, with pace bowler Muhammad Musa keeping his place in the shortest format, while batsman Ahsan Ali and fast bowler Amad Butt were called up.

For the second T20I squad in succession, head coach Misbah-ul-Haq rung in the changes as Pakistan look to break a streak of seven T20Is without a win. Pacer Shaheen Afridi returns to the side for the first time since May, having sat out the T20s against Sri Lanka and Australia as he recovered from about of dengue fever, while Usman Qadir keeps his place and may finally be in line for his debut. Haris Rauf has also been called up after his impressive season in the Big Bash League with the Melbourne Stars.

Squad: Babar Azam (capt), Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt, Iftikhar Ahmed Haris Rauf, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Musa, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Usman Qadir

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BCCI drops MS Dhoni from central contracts list

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MS Dhoni is no longer a centrally contracted player with the BCCI. His name didn’t feature in the 27 contracts handed out by the Indian board on Thursday. He last played for India during the World Cup in 2019 post which there has been a suspense around his future. He had been awarded a Grade A contract, which brings a retainer of INR 5 crore, in 2019. Top-order batsman KL Rahul made the jump from Grade B to A, an incentive of INR 2 crore.

ALSO READ: ‘Good IPL, he puts himself into contention’ – Ravi Shastri reiterates Dhoni still in the mix

While Dhoni has not played any professional cricket since the World Cup, India coach Ravi Shastri has said more than once that Dhoni could throw his name in the ring for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year if he does well in the IPL. Others to lose contracts were Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik and Khaleel Ahmed.

Otherwise, there weren’t many massive changes from the contracts list from last year. Test opener Mayank Agarwal, who made his debut in Melbourne in a delicately poised series and immediately impressed, was the big gainer, entering the list at Grade B, which comes with a retainer of INR 3 crore. Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, who had dropped to Grade C thanks to injuries, came back to join Agarwal in Grade B.

Other new names in the contracts – as of now – included limited-overs specialists: Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Shreyas Iyer and Washington Sundar. They all entered the system at Grade C, which comes with a retainer of INR 1 crore.

The A+ grade, which includes players who feature in all three formats, remained unchanged with Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah retaining their INR 7 crore fee. The injured Hardik Pandya, who has played only T20Is since the World Cup, retained his Grade B contract.

These contracts are for October 2019 to September 2020. The total number of retainers has come down from 29 to 27. The recommendations for these contracts are made by national selectors based on a combination of performance in the previous year and the roles players are expected to play in the contract period. If someone out of this list gets an India cap during the period, he automatically gets a retainer.



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