Moeen set to partner Cook as England opener against Pakistan

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Leading the way: Moeen.

England’s commitment to Moeen Ali as Alastair Cook’s new Test opening partner is likely to be set in stone once the team is announced for the final warm-up match against Pakistan A.

– 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

Moeen was selected ahead of Alex Hales for the first of two fixtures this week, a strong hint already that England favour his promotion up the order rather than blooding a debutant.

The all-rounder, also a key component as one of two frontline spinners against Pakistan in three Tests starting in Abu Dhabi next week, neither took nor fluffed his chance with 22 runs from 46 balls in Sharjah before he was caught pulling to deep square-leg.

England were sufficiently impressed with his efforts, assistant coach Paul Farbrace saying that all will become “absolutely clear” about plans for the first Test once the line-up for the second two-day match against the same opponents is named on Thursday.

Coach Trevor Bayliss said, even before a ball was bowled on this tour at a joint press conference in Dubai with captain Alastair Cook, that he anticipated all 16 squad members would have a chance to push their claims in the middle for Test selection.

That would require five changes to the team which first took the field – and especially in a key position such as a new opening partner for the captain, it is hard to consider the selectors would decline the opportunity of two innings together for the new pair.

Reflecting on an opening stalemate in which – after 90 overs of batting for each team – England made 70 more runs than their hosts, Farbrace cited a de-brief between captain and coach before Test plans are finalised.

“That’s still something (Bayliss) and Cookie need to decide on,” he said. “Once those two have made the call over the next two days, that will give everybody a fair indication over what’s being thought of as regards the side for next Tuesday.

“Mo’s had first go and we were very pleased with the way he applied himself… and that first hour was very difficult,” Farbrace added.

England have several players with more than one string to their bow, including four all-rounders and two wicketkeeper-batsmen.

Farbrace added: “I think that’s the conundrum, to make sure we get the balance absolutely right. “There are lots of players who can give you two things – and sometimes that can confuse matters – but it will be absolutely clear come Thursday what our team will look like for the Test.”

As England juggle their options, and players attune themselves to unaccustomed dry desert pitches and searing heat, Farbrace reports they have been helped significantly already by Mahela Jayawardene.

The former Sri Lanka great, with whom Farbrace and Bayliss both worked when they coached the Test team together in Colombo, is a batting consultant for England in the early stages of this tour.

“He’s fitted in brilliantly, and his communication is outstanding,” said Farbrace. “He’s shared every bit of knowledge he’s got. He is Sri Lanka’s best-ever captain, so tactically he’s been great.

“Within our group, Trevor and I haven’t played international cricket – (bowling coach) Ottis (Gibson), Ramps (batting coach Mark Ramprakash) and obviously Mahela have.

“Players listen to them automatically, because they know they have achieved at that level, and I think that’s a really good balance to have in our set-up.”

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Court hears that Cairns urged teammates Vincent & McCullum to fix

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Disgraced: Cairns.

Former New Zealand captain Chris Cairns persuaded a team-mate to fix matches with him and then got a friend to pressure him into lying about it during a High Court libel action, a court heard.

– 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

Cairns, who played 277 times for his country over 17 years, claimed his reputation had been shattered after the chairman of the Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi, accused him on Twitter in January 2010 of match-fixing while he was playing for the Chandigarh Lions in the Indian Cricket League in 2008.

Cairns, who it was also claimed approached current Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum with a view to match-fixing, brought a libel action against him and successfully sued him for £1.4m (Dh79m).

But Sasha Wass QC told London’s Southwark Crown Court that there was evidence to prove he had actually been involved in match-fixing and had lied about it under oath.

She told the jury that Cairns’ coaccused, his friend Andrew Fitch-Holland, a barrister and his “lead adviser”, approached the cricketer’s team-mate, Lou Vincent, to get him to lie during the libel action.

Vincent not only knew Cairns had fixed matches, but was involved in match-fixing himself under the direct orders of Cairns, Wass said.

During a Skype call, played to the court, Fitch-Holland told Vincent: “If you can literally get a one-paragraph statement that says ‘I played in the game, everything seemed OK’, end of … it makes it plain that things are a lot more straightforward than they look.”

Fitch-Holland appeared to accept that both he and Vincent knew the cheating had happened, saying: “Between you and I, we all know some of what is being said is clearly true”, but tried to reassure him that he would never have to swear his statement was true in court.

But Vincent said: “It’s a big ask from me to… in a legal document say something that isn’t true”, adding: “I am not proud of what has happened at all.”

Wass said the conversation was proof that both Vincent and Fitch-Holland knew the libel case Cairns was bringing was untrue.

She said: “What that means is that Chris Cairns was guilty of match-fixing. By denying it on sworn witness statements and oath Mr Cairns was committing perjury.”

Cairns, 45, from Auckland, who once lived in Dubai, is charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice, while Fitch-Holland is accused of perverting the course of justice. They both deny the charges.

Cairns attempted to recruit current New Zealand captain McCullum, saying he could earn big money by throwing games while playing in the ICL in 2008, the court heard.

They then later met up in a cafe in Worcester, where a touring New Zealand team were playing against the county side.

“At that meeting Brendon McCullum says Cairns approached him and asked him whether he had changed his mind,” Wass told the jury.

“He said no he hadn’t. Mr McCullum didn’t log an official report on Cairns at the time. He should have done that. He will tell you he regrets not doing that, but will explain Cairns was such a hero to him that he could not bring himself to do that straight away.”

It was not until McCullum underwent anti-corruption training at the Cricket World Cup in India in 2011 that he alerted officials to what happened.

Daniel Vettori, another former New Zealand player, and former Australian captain Ricky Ponting will both give evidence that Mr McCullum told them he was approached by Cairns. 

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Bangladesh to host two-Test series against Zimbabwe in November

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Bangladesh cricketer Tamim Iqbal scores a run against South Africa during the Test series in July.

Bangladesh will host Zimbabwe for a two-Test cricket series in November after Australia postponed a planned visit this month due to security concerns.

Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hasan said Zimbabwe had agreed to tour that month although no date had been finalised.

– PAKvENG: Pakistan tougher than Australia says Farbrace

– 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

"Zimbabwe have principally agreed to tour Bangladesh in November. We will finalise the date with Zimbabwe officials during next week's ICC (International Cricket Council) meeting in Dubai," Nazmul told reporters. 

Zimbabwe were originally scheduled to visit Bangladesh from next January 11-February 7 for two Tests, three one-day Internationals and three Twenty20 internationals. 

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland announced the tour was over earlier this month.

But the BCB president said the series would now be spilt in two parts. Zimbabwe would play the Tests in November and return in January for the ODIs and T20s.  

Nazmul said following a meeting of the BCB board of directors that Bangladesh would also bid for the Asia Cup Twenty20 tournament, which could be held in February next year just ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 in India.  

The BCB is under pressure to bring back international cricket to the country. South Africa's women's cricket team also postponed a planned tour later this month, citing security concerns. 

Australia called off its series after official warnings that militants may attack Western interests.

The postponement comes amid heightened tension in Bangladesh after an Italian and a Japanese were killed in separate attacks claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group. 

In other incidents three Islamic attackers attempted Monday to slit a Christian pastor's throat in a mainly Muslim town in northern Bangladesh.

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