Afghanistan teenage leg spin ace Rashid Khan is being courted by two English counties according to the Daily Mail.
The 18-year-old – who earlier this month produced the fourth best bowling figures ever in ODI cricket, taking seven for 18 to destroy the West Indies batting line-up in Saint Lucia – has taken 63 wickets in 29 ODI and 42 in 27 T20I appearances for his country.
However, according to the newspaper, the problem regarding Khan – who is higher than any of the English bowlers in both the International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI and T20 rankings – is whether he passes strict work visa regulations.
Natalie Sciver and Heather Knight both hit maiden one-day international centuries as England got their World Cup campaign back on track with a 107-run victory over Pakistan via the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method.
England, who suffered a shock defeat against India in their tournament opener, bounced back to rack up their World Cup-best 377 for seven as Sciver (137) and captain Knight (106) put on 213 for the third wicket at Grace Road.
Katherine Brunt then took two early wickets as Pakistan reached 107 for three in the 30th over before rain, which had delayed the start of the match by half-an-hour, returned to force a DLS result overwhelmingly in the hosts’ favour.
In pursuit of the second-highest total in the tournament’s history – behind Australia’s 412 for three against Denmark 20 years ago – Pakistan were never threatening, despite a career-best 56 not out from opener Ayesha Zafar.
Sciver’s century came from just 76 balls and contained 13 fours, and Knight reached three figures from 105 with a reverse-paddle off Sadia Yousuf for her 11th four to go with two sixes.
They joined forces after Knight lost the toss and England then struggled to 42 for two.
Sarah Taylor missed some full-length swing to be lbw to Kainat Imtiaz, and her fellow opener Tammy Beaumont was caught-behind off the same bowler as Pakistan’s seamers found swing under cloudy skies.
Knight and Sciver soon prospered against spin, however.
The third of four successive fours off slow left-armer Nashra Sandhu took Sciver past her 50, and 84 runs were plundered between the 20th and 30th overs.
The stand had equalled England’s and the tournament record – set 24 years ago against Ireland – when Knight’s attempt to dispatch the returning Asmavia Iqbal (three for 62) saw her instead caught at long-off.
Sciver upped the ante again with three successive sixes in the same over, before aiming another maximum in the next only to hole out at deep midwicket off Sana Mir.
England had two new batters in at the start of the last 10 overs. But Danni Wyatt, in her 50th ODI, and Fran Wilson bagged a stand of 59 off 35 balls as the hosts fell just one run short of their all-time ODI record total – against the same opponents, last year.
After her emergence as a potential star of the tournament, Sciver told Sky Sports 2: “I clearly enjoyed it. It was good to get the big one. We were just saying it was a good pitch, and we knew the outfield was lightning, so ‘get yourself in and get as many as you can’.”
England 377-7, 50 overs (Natalie Sciver 137, Heather Knight 106, Asmavia Iqbal Khokhar 3-62) beat Pakistan 107-3, 29.2 overs (Ayesha Zafar 56*, Nain Abidi 23*, Katherine Brunt 2-21) by 107 runs via DLS method.
Player of the Match – Natalie Sciver.
Ireland may have to wait beyond 2018 to make their Test debut, chief executive Warren Deutrom has warned.
Both Ireland and Afghanistan were awarded full membership to the International Cricket Council (ICC) last week as they met for their annual conference in London.
The two newest nations were voted in unanimously to become the first newcomers since Bangladesh in 2000 and take the number of full ICC members to 12.
Ireland have been playing as affiliate members since 1993 and have recorded famous victories over Pakistan, England and the West Indies in that time.
Now they will be able to play Test cricket against the world’s best – but scheduling a first match may take some organising and Deutrom believes it may prove difficult to shoehorn in around the other nation’s full schedules.
Asked by Press Association Sport if Ireland would play their first Test in 2018, Deutrom replied: “To be honest there are so many pieces of this jigsaw.
“It is probably somewhere between not wanting to wait years for our first Test match versus making sure we have the appropriate sense of occasion.
“Another consideration is that we are ready to play our first Test match as we haven’t played a five-day game yet.
“History would suggest that new full members play their first Test, at home, against a big nation within a year.
“But I know how much busier the full members are with their own schedules so trying to find a gap within 12 months in an already-congested schedule is incredibly difficult.
“We are going to do our best, we will have as many conversations as possible, but I can’t put any members on the spot, although quite a few have been generous to say ‘let’s have a conversation’.
“I don’t want to express disappointment if no-one is available because I know how packed those schedules are.”
With most Test-playing nations having fixtures planned, it could be that Ireland make their bow against fellow newcomers Afghanistan, with neither Deutrom nor his Afghan Cricket Board counterpart Shafiq Stanikzai ruling out that possibility last week.
The pair will also be pressing to learn when the financial benefits of being a full member of the ICC comes into play.
For Deutrom it could again prove to be something of a waiting game.
“My understanding is that, like any other business, the ICC will have budgeted for cash-flows in this year so to throw a couple of extra million in the pot may or may not be possible,” he added.
“I suspect it will be the beginning of next year when the financial distributions for being a full member will commence.
“My heart says it would be great to have the cash now, my head says it may well be better that we have six months sitting down and planning our priorities.
“The game should be patient while we get those right. There are a whole series of things that are questions to be answered.”