Pakistan tougher test than Ashes says England assistant coach Paul Farbrace

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Paul Farbrace is plotting yet more success with England alongside Trevor Bayliss.

England believe they have unfinished business, as they bid to become the first tourists to beat Pakistan since the relocation of their home Tests to the United Arab Emirates.

Alastair Cook's team are between warm-up matches on Wednesday, and assistant coach Paul Farbrace is confident they have made a fine start.

– LEGENDS: Warne and Tendulkar take cricket to the US

– ENGLAND: Cook's men draw with Pakistan A in difficult UAE conditions
– INSIDE STORY: USA cricket is trying to fight back

– Pakistan: Bilal reported for suspect action

He also cited an opportunity for Cook, and three other veterans of England's 3-0 defeat here in early 2012, to make up for that setback at a time when they had just risen to the top of the world rankings.

After last summer's Ashes success, England hope to be on the move upwards again.

The three-match series set to start in Abu Dhabi next week is a hazardous stepping stone to future progress, but Farbrace senses England have the right motivation and personnel to fare well here under Cook.

Having worked together previously with Sri Lanka, Bayliss and Farbrace reunited for Ashes glory.

He said: "We've got senior players who've been here and experienced it, and I think there was a feeling that – although they lost the last Test series here 3-0 – it was one they could quite easily have won.

"They didn't, that's history, it's gone now.

"But I think we've got a great chance with this group to play some really good cricket, and we're looking to be as positive as we possibly can be."

Farbrace is under no illusions about the difficulties which lie ahead, some apparent already as England had to dig deep for both runs and wickets in their drawn tour opener against Pakistan A.

"We're coming here knowing it's going to be a very, very tough series," he added.

"I said at the end of the Australian series I expected this to be a tougher series for us to play in."

So it was already as England began attuning themselves in the middle with bat and ball in Sharjah over the past two days, to promising effect but with room for improvement too.

England start their second two-day tour match against Pakistan A on Thursday.

"We knew it was going to be tough, very different obviously from conditions we've just played in the Ashes," Farbrace added.

"The application with the ball was outstanding.

"The one thing we've just had a quick chat about is that, to win a Test match, you've got to take 20 chances – and we've missed a couple of chances [here].

"That's something we'll have to work very hard on, and something we prided ourselves on in the Ashes series.

"We've still got a good few days to go, so there'll be plenty of catching (practice) done over the next few days.

"But generally, I think we had a really good two days. We saw how players adapted quite quickly to the situation and conditions."

Moeen Ali is thought to be first choice to partner Alastair Cook at the top of the order.

England have one major selection issue to confirm, although it appears – after being given the first chance to impress alongside Cook at the top of the order – Moeen Ali is the preferred option ahead of the uncapped Alex Hales to do so too, for the first time, in next week's first Test.

Farbrace nonetheless said: "Everybody in the 16, I think, genuinely has an opportunity … at this stage.

"I wouldn't rule anything in or out, and I think we need to keep our options open as long as we possibly can.

"Mo's had first go in this practice game, and we were very pleased with the way he applied himself … and that first hour was very difficult."

There is no doubt England will have two spinners in their Test team, debutant Adil Rashid to join Moeen.

Farbrace said: "It's exciting [to have them bowling together].

"It's the way we want to go, and I know [coach] Trevor (Bayliss) is a huge fan of two spinners in the side."

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Memon: Big challenges ahead for Manohar

Ayaz Memon 7/10/2015
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Shashank Manohar was named president of the BCCI for the second time last week.

Within a couple of days of beginning his second innings as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BBCI), Shashank Manohar was reminded of a major challenge that confronts him in the days ahead.

This did not come from the man whose ambitions he has stymied, N Srinivasan, or any other threat to his position within the administration, rather the way cricket is being administered in the country.

– LEGENDS: Warne and Tendulkar take cricket to the US

– ENGLAND: Cook's men draw with Pakistan A in difficult UAE conditions
– INSIDE STORY: USA cricket is trying to fight back

– Pakistan: Bilal reported for suspect action

The shameful behaviour of the Cuttack crowd during the second T20I match against South Africa – when bottles and other debris were thrown on the outfield to protest against India’s poor performance – was a more serious blow to the prestige of Indian cricket than the loss of the three-match series.

The attitude of the spectators was disappointing. India’s obsession with cricket is part of cricket lore, but this does not marry well with being sore losers. However, this was not the first time something like this has transpired (remember the 1996 World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens?) so obviously the state association should have been better prepared.

Crowd trouble disrupted India's second T20I clash against South Africa in Cuttack.

The Cuttack cricket administration and the local police were not only unprepared, but also unwilling to take any action for a period long enough to turn the match into a fiasco way beyond the miserable cricket played by India. With the authorities lax, the vandals had a free run, resulting in mayhem.

One hears that Manohar, stung badly by the embarrassment caused by the unruly behavior at Cuttack is looking at punitive punishment against the local cricket administration: this could mean a fine or a ban on future matches for some time or both.

If this had to move from intent to action, it would be a major step in Indian cricket administration otherwise enmeshed in an unseemly game of votes-for-favour for a long time now. The plank on which Manohar had been voted to power was to bring back stability and credibility to the BCCI, and reining in vagabond state associations would be a great start even if it may seem less newsworthy than fighting Srinivasan.

BCCI President has asked Orissa Cricket Association for a report on unruly crowd behaviour in Cuttack in 48 hours. http://t.co/Opx7OwfmBO

— BCCI (@BCCI) October 7, 2015

To be fair to Manohar, the riot at Cuttack is something that he could not have anticipated. Even if he had some apprehensions, this came too soon after his ascension for him to have done very much about it.

Indeed, Manohar had been pretty much on the front foot when spelling out a fairly robust agenda to improve the processes and systems of administration and thereby the stock of Indian cricket.

There were some significant measures he announced straightaway in his first press conference, among them being a strict monitoring of the finances of state associations. There have been too many stories of money being squandered or pilfered to ignore.

N Srinivasan did not attend the Special General Meeting in Mumbai last Sunday.

Just because Indian cricket is rich the bottom line is not affected. But if the money is not well spent, at some stage there is bound to be a boomerang effect. The tendency in the past had been to turn a blind eye to such financial vagrancy in consideration for support during the BCCI elections.

The more important decisions, however, are to put up the accounts of the BCCI (and state associations) online for public scrutiny, the appointment of an ombudsman to look into actual and potential conflicts of interest involving officials and players (which seem to crop up every now and then) and to work closely with the government in tackling corruption.

These are stellar measures long overdue and it can only be hoped that they will not remain only as a wish list on paper or as sound bites for media and public consumption.

But apart from this thrust of initial bravado, there were also some intriguing developments where N Srinivasan and his relationship with the BCCI is concerned. For the record, not only did the former president not put up a rival to Manohar but he also did not attend the Special General Meeting in Mumbai last Sunday.

Manohar has announced he plans an overhaul of state associations' finances.

A day after Manohar was elected, the BCCI’s request to the Supreme Court seeking advice on how to deal with Srinivasan was met with an admonishment from the apex court. “Why are you asking us?’’ was the substantial missive of the SC.

Interestingly, on the same day, Srinivasan withdrew the perjury case he was pursuing against BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur. This was followed by some reconciliatory noises from Manohar that BCCI’s affairs should be tackled within the Board itself.

Some insiders aver that all this suggests some kind of a thaw in the frosty war between the two factions. Does this mean that Manohar will not pull the plug on Srinivasan’s position as ICC chairman?

Nobody knows for sure, but history suggests that while the BCCI’s internecine politics can be harsh and ruthless, differences can dissolve just as suddenly to make it a cosy club where everybody survives.

The next Annual General Meeting carries a lot of suspense.

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Warne and Tendulkar taking cricket to the US in Twenty20 series

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Captains arise: Shabe Warne (l) and Sachin Tendulkar.

Australian Shane Warne and India’s Sachin Tendulkar will captain two All-Star sides in a three-match Twenty20 series in the United States in a bid to spark interest in a sport alien to most Americans.

The ICC-sanctioned matches will be played on drop-in pitches at major baseball fields in New York, Houston and Los Angeles in November, with plenty of superstar talent on show.

Among the throng of cricketing greats signed up are Brian Lara, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Muttiah Muralitharan, Wasim Akram, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Glenn McGrath and Brad Haddin.

– England draw with Pakistan A in difficult UAE conditions
– INSIDE STORY: USA cricket is trying to fight back
– Pakistan: Bilal reported for suspect action

“We’ve signed all the top players you’d ever want to see,” spin king Warne, who initiated the idea with Tendulkar, told cricket.com.au.

“I’m excited for cricket fans in the United States to be able to see these amazing players for the first time.”

A portion of proceeds from the series will go to the ICC for the development of cricket within the US with the organisation’s chief executive David Richardson saying it “would help cricket to reach its significant potential in the USA”.

“We therefore wish them well and thank them for their enthusiasm to develop cricket outside of its traditional boundaries,” he added.

Batting great Tendulkar said he was excited about the prospect of taking the sport to a country more used to baseball and basketball. “Americans are so passionate about sports, and I think there’s a huge potential for cricket to take off,” he said.

“We’re also planning some other events and festivities in each city so we can reach as many fans as possible.

“It would be great some day to see cricket bats right alongside the baseball bats, basketballs and soccer balls in America.”

The first match will be played on November 7 in New York.

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