Jofra Archer is happy to call Steve Smith a pal but insists there will be “nothing friendly” on the field during England’s crucial World Cup clash against Australia.
Archer shared a dressing room with Smith at this year’s Indian Premier League, playing for a Rajasthan Royals side that also included Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes.
The quartet joined forces throughout the Twenty20 competition but will be on opposite sides for the remainder of the summer, starting at Lord’s on Tuesday and then carrying on through the upcoming Ashes series.
Smith and team-mate David Warner have not had too many warm welcomes since arriving in England, with their recent return from year-long ball-tampering bans leading to a predictably hostile public reaction, and Archer insists any niceties from him will have to wait until after the contest.
England’s game face will most certainly be on after their surprise defeat to Sri Lanka, their second lapse of the competition and one that means there is precious little breathing space if they lose again.
Asked if he considered Smith a friend, Archer said: “Yes, and I’d like to think he considers me the same way as well.
“He’s a really good guy. But cricket is cricket and I guess it’s time to be friends after. Until the game is over, there will be nothing friendly about it.”
Booing from the stands has certainly not derailed Smith, or Warner for that matter, with both scoring heavily so far and the former skipper hitting a match-winning century in a warm-up clash against England in Southampton.
A blast of express pace might do the trick, though. Archer has already cranked it up to 95mph during the tournament and made a cheeky suggestion that Smith did not fancy facing him in practice during their time together.
Invited to offer some insider tips on bowling at the 30-year-old, he said: “To be honest, I didn’t bowl at him much.
“A lot of the guys probably don’t want to face me or (fellow quick) Oshane Thomas in the nets. They like the side-arm and the throw downs.
“But when you play with them you pick up on things you won’t normally notice when you’re just playing against them.
“So hopefully me and Ben can get together, I think we might bowl together at some point as well. We probably know what to do when he’s in.”
Barbados-born Archer has never tasted cricket’s oldest rivalry at close quarters, having only qualified for England in March.
He was also rested for the warm-up fixture ahead of the World Cup but realises just how much the game means – in the wider context and to his side’s semi-final hopes.
“Just from watching the Ashes and stuff I know it is a pretty intense game between them,” he said.
“I’m not too sure if it will affect me coming in without having experienced it before. It could be an advantage, me not being part of what happened before.
“But it’s the World Cup, so there are no easy teams and no easy games, as we saw from our last game. The pressure has been on from the very first game.
“I think it is a chance to really see where our game is, having probably the four hardest games last. It will do us well so that if we do get through, we should be OK to pretty much win everything.”
With Lord’s hosting Pakistan versus South Africa and therefore unavailable for training purposes, England decamped to Merchant Taylor’s School near Watford.
They were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of local children and cricket fans, with even their fielding drills receiving loud cheers.
Opener Jason Roy was absent, with the implication that his recovery from a torn hamstring is some way from complete, but seamer Liam Plunkett took a full part following his recent virus.
Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes revealed “we only need five games and we’ve won the World Cup” as they look to keep their slim hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive against Afghanistan.
Despite amassing their highest one-day international total of 333-8 last Thursday, Bangladesh were beaten by 48 runs against Australia at Trent Bridge, the Tigers’ third defeat of the tournament.
Their prospects of a semi-final place are already hanging in the balance and even winning their final three group stage matches – starting against Afghanistan at the Hampshire Bowl on Monday – may not be enough as they rely on results from elsewhere.
Mehidy Hasan hit on the head while giving an interview near the nets. Physio has had a look. Concussion being checked. #cwc19— Mohammad Isam (@Isam84) June 23, 2019
But a bullish Rhodes said: “If you really break it down and we do win these matches coming up, we only need five games and we’ve won the World Cup. That’s one way of looking at it, if you think of them all as knockout games.
“Of course, that is not easy, and the first challenge is Afghanistan. That’s why we won’t look further than the next game, which is Afghanistan. They’re a tough team. They’re a tough bunch of cricketers.
“But we’re not fearful. We are confident. We’ve been playing some good cricket, so if we do win game after game after game, who knows?”
Mehidy Hasan was struck on the head in bizarre circumstances during a net session in Southampton on Sunday though Rhodes thinks the issue to the off-spinner is not too serious.
Rhodes added: “He just got hit on the side of the head. I think he was doing an interview at the time, and the ball came flying out of the net. He seems OK, he seems fine.
“The physio was checking him over, there was no blood or anything like that. I would imagine the physio would check him over for something like concussion because that’s normally the done thing, but that’s all I can tell you at the moment.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Team selection has been one major area of concern for the Pakistan team, to go with other long-standing issues on the field. The men in green have received heavy criticism from various quarters for backing an out of form Shoaib Malik for far too long and not showing faith in young tearaway quick Mohammad Hasnain.
On Sunday, Pakistan – in a must-win match against South Africa – got the first step right by picking left-arm seamer Shaheen Afridi and bringing in Haris Sohail in place of Malik.
The selection of Sohail came a few games too late but it’s better late than never. The left-handed batsman is a proven performer in ODIs and had two centuries under his belt in 2019. But he got dropped from the team after the opening World Cup game against the West Indies where the team was blown away for 105.
Despite the fact that Sohail averages 45 after 35 ODIs and averages a fifty-plus score every third innings, the southpaw warmed the bench as Pakistan’s batting missed more often than it hit the mark in England. But against South Africa, Sohail proved that the management had made a big mistake in dropping him.
Can't believe Haris Sohail was warming the bench in the last three games. Since 2018, he has scored 643 runs in ODIs at an average of 53.58 with two 100s against Australia. #CWC19— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) June 23, 2019
Sohail’s two ODI tons both came this year – against Australia in the UAE. He brought that form to Lord’s on Sunday, cracking a majestic 89 from just 59 deliveries with nine fours and three sixes.
The pace at which Sohail batted showed that he has the game to not only hold the innings together in the middle order but also provide fireworks at the death. His drive for a four followed by a slash for six off Kagiso Rabada – the best South Africa quick – was just the boost Pakistan’s batting and dressing room needed.
Sohail has been playing competitive cricket for 12 years, hence knows his game inside out. There is a fine line between having experience and just hanging around for ages; Sohail falls in the former category. Putting years of knee trouble and an unceremonious axing from the playing XI behind him, Sohail ensured Pakistan’s inning didn’t lose the momentum provided by openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq, adding 81 with Babar Azam and 71 with Imad Wasim.
Maybe Sohail’s knees will never allow him to be at his best for long. But World Cup’s don’t come around that often and he pounced on the opportunity to almost immediately solve all selection issues plaguing the Pakistan team.