Ahead of the opening game at Edgbaston, we have compiled our combined best starting 11 featuring some of the biggest names in world cricket:
Test matches: 57
The fact that the Indian management is in a dilemma between Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul for the opening slot, tells you how highly rated Murali Vijay is. He scored his first overseas century on the 2014 tour with 146 at Trent Bridge and since then scored 11 half-centuries and eight tons including twice against England.
Test matches: 156
Got his fair share of criticism during the disappointing New Zealand tour in February where his top score was just 14. But his 70 against Pakistan in May showed how vital he still is to England. The former captain will be under pressure but given his extraordinary tally in this format, Cook should be more than capable of letting the bat do the talking.
Test matches: 69
The Yorkshireman has happy memories from the last time he faced India on English soil, top-scoring with 518 runs in the 3-1 series win. The spotlight will be on the 27-year-old captain, who will be keen to show why he is ranked third in the ICC ranking for Test batsman. His form has been impressive lately which bodes well for England’s chances.
Test matches: 66
The 29-year-old endured a miserable time in 2014 against England, averaging 13.40 in the five Tests. But the fact that he is now the second best batsman in the Test rankings shows how much he has improved in the space of four years. Has struck centuries on the tours of Australia, West Indies, Sri Lanka and South Africa and given his extraordinary talent, there’s no reason why he can’t add to that list this time round.
Test matches: 42
Stokes didn’t score a single run in the India Test series in 2014. Back then, he was batting as one of the lower order players but gradually adopted an aggressive batting style that saw him promoted up the order to No6. Whether it’s with the white or red ball, Stokes has become a key figure in all formats and he can’t be overlooked.
Test matches: 54
Since taking over from Matt Prior behind the stumps, the Yorkshireman has made the wicket-keeper position his own. Having overcome a difficult start, Bairstow has improved dramatically and even at number seven in the line-up, he’s more than capable of reviving the innings or finishing the job if needed.
Test matches: 20
The 27-year-old looked set to make his mark at the Test level after scoring two half-centuries against India in the 2014 series. But it has been a rollercoaster ride for the wicket-keeper/batsman as he paid the ultimate price for his poor scores in the longer format. Yet, his showings in ODIs and T20s – especially in the IPL – saw him recalled for the Pakistan series in May and made the most of his opportunity with scores of 67 and 80.
Test matches: 58
He’s no longer in the ODI and T20 teams but his Test record speaks for itself. Has tormented batsmen on Indian wickets and his spell with Worcestershire – where he claimed 20 wickets in four matches – is a sign that more Test wickets could be on its way over the next six weeks.
Test matches: 118
There have been a few question marks over the future of the Nottinghamshire pacer but the 32-year-old has let the ball do the talking. Making his return after injury for Notts last week, Broad is set for his 119th Test cap and build on his six-wicket haul in Leeds Test against Pakistan.
Test matches: 138
It will be interesting to see how the 35-year-old fares having returned from a six-week rest following a shoulder injury. Having established himself as England’s all-time Test wicket-taker, the Lancashire man is one of the first names on the team sheet and selectors will be hoping for an encore from Jimmy who dismissed Kohli four times in 2014.
Test matches: 82
India have been unfortunate to lose pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the start of the series but in Ishant Sharma, they have someone who isn’t short of Test experience. Once he gets going, he can prove to be a handful and his stint for Sussex this summer will surely be beneficial.
It’s not every day that you get to rub shoulders with an international cricketer – but the Desert Cubs Academy did just that on their trip to Australia.
The group of aspiring youngsters got to pick the brains of Australia’s 22-year-old rising star Sam Heazlett, who has featured for his country in ODI cricket, as well as receiving tips from ex-Australian all-rounder Andy Bichel at the Queensland High Performance Centre in Brisbane.
It came at the end of their two-week tour in Gold Coast and Brisbane where Desert Cubs’ Under-12, 14 and 16 sides tested themselves against their Australian peers in different formats.
“It was a great learning experience for Desert Cubs touring teams,” said head coach Presley Polonnowita. “They had the opportunity of getting some coaching tips from former Aussie great Andy Bichel during their practice session at Queensland High performance centre in Brisbane.
“On top of that, the tour ended with an award ceremony where the boys had the opportunity of meeting Sam Heazlett who has represented Australia national team. Sam was a great help and educated the players with his past experience of playing junior cricket in school as well as sharing his experience on how he overcame the barriers of becoming an international cricketer.”
Desert Cubs played a series of 40 and 50-over games as well as a two-day match. Among those to impress was Shrey Sethi with the U-12 skipper scoring a memorable unbeaten 100 against a formidable Brisbane Under-12 Selected XI. Hriday Savnani also scored a half-century while U-14 captain Dinuka Samarasingh scored a patient 78 in a 40-over clash.
Brandon Martis was unlucky to miss his century after falling on 98 but won many plaudits for the way he batted in the Under-16 category.
Polonnowita was pleased with the performances he saw from his players and is convinced the tour was a fantastic learning curve.
“It was a great opportunity for our young cubs to engage in longer version games as junior cricket in UAE does not fetch beyond 25 to 30 overs most of the time,” he said.
“The icing on the cake was playing against top quality regional teams from Gold Coast and Brisbane in lush green cricket grounds with hard and bouncy green tops to play on.
“We had a few Australian Under-16 national level players who played against the Desert Cubs Under-16 team, making the opponents much harder to tackle on their own back yard. We struggled during our first few games to keep up with their quality, agility and playing conditions but gradually bounced back towards the last few games. The Under-12 team showed their supremacy while winning six games out of 10 as well as the last T20 game.”
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4:00 pm – South Africa register impressive win
Spinner Tabraiz Shamsi (four for 33) and paceman Kagiso Rabada (four for 41) helped South Africa secure a five-wicket ODI win over Sri Lanka in Dambulla.
Sri Lanka were dismissed for 193 after just 34.3 overs before the Proteas chased down the total in 31 overs.
Full report here.
3:50 pm – Yorkshire see red
Yorkshire boss Martyn Moxon has urged the England and Wales Cricket Board to show more respect to the 18 first-class counties following the Adil Rashid affair. “Our disappointment is more the lack of communication and consultation that we’ve had in the background to this decision, but it’s not just about Yorkshire,” he said.
For more, click here.
2:00 pm – Mike Hussey bats for Ravi Ashwin
Former Australia said Ravi Ashwin should be seen as India’s main spinner during the Test series against England, stating Kuldeep Yadav has time to grow as a spinner.
“Kuldeep is a fantastic bowler and has done well. Personally, I don’t think Kuldeep should play at the expense of Ashwin. I think Ashwin deserves his place in the team as he has been a brilliant Test match bowler for a long period of time,” Hussey said.
Read more here.
1:50 pm – Sporting stars tuned politicians
Pakistan’s World Cup winning captain Imran Khan is the latest sport star to taste success in the political arena as he is tipped to become the next Prime Minister of Pakistan.
From Manny Pacquiao to George Weah, a few famous athletes have risen to the top levels of government in their countries.
Here we take a look at five such players.
12:00 Kusal Perera scores a fighting fifty
Kusal Perera hit 81 but Sri Lanka could only manage 193 in the first ODI against South Africa in Dambulla on Sunday.
Sri Lanka were bowled out inside 35 overs as pacer Kagiso Rabada and spinner Tabraiz Shamsi picked up four wickets each.
Read the mid innings report here.