Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir has retired from Test cricket but on Tuesday showed he remains a potent force in red-ball cricket by guiding Essex to a tense three-wicket win in the county championship.
Playing against Kent, Amir took four wickets in the first innings as Kent made 226. But with the bat, Essex batsmen made a meal of their first innings, getting bowled out for just 114. It was Amir once again who made a contribution, top-scoring with 28.
With a deficit of over 100 runs, Essex were staring down the barrel. But then came the most incredible passage of play on Tuesday as the new-ball pair of Amir and Sam Cook decimated the Kent batting line-up. Fast bowler Cook snared seven wickets for just 23 runs from his nine overs – finishing with 12 wickets in the match – while Amir picked up 2-16 to bowl Kent out for just 40 in 18.1 overs.
A target of 153 proved to be tricky as Essex were reduced to 84-6 but they kept their cool to reach the target with three wickets in hand and Amir remaining unbeaten on 4.
Amir thus ended up with six wickets in the game, raising hopes of a change of heart regarding his Test retirement. The left-arm seamer had quit Test cricket after the World Cup in order to prolong his career but with tours to Australia and England lined up, there is hope that Amir will change his mind and lead Pakistan’s inexperienced seam attack.
Former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is set to lead a 17-day conditioning camp for the country’s top cricketers, leading to speculation over his possible appointment as head coach.
Misbah will oversee the high-intensity training camp that includes 14 centrally contracted players and six additional players. The pre-season camp starts on August 19 at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore with two days of fitness testing followed by the training camp from August 22 to September 7.
The former batsman will be the “camp commandant” and work with the NCA coaching staff to ensure Pakistan players are in top condition ahead of the new season.
“Misbah-ul-Haq, who has been Pakistan’s most successful captain, understands the arduous demands of the format in this day and age. With the advent of the World Test Championship, the PCB wants Pakistan to turn up with their best red ball game when they face Sri Lanka in the two-match Test series at home,” Zakir Khan, PCB director of international cricket, said.
“Ahead of the Sri Lanka series, these players will be a part of the initial rounds of what will be a highly competitive Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. So, this camp will further benefit them in gearing up for an exciting cricketing season.”
With the Pakistan board not renewing the contracts of almost the entire national support staff, the responsibility given to Misbah has led some to believe he is likely to be made the next head coach. However, he doesn’t have the requisite coaching experience at the highest level, as required by the PCB when they recently invited applications for the post of head coach.
A century from Babar Azam helped Somerset to a dominant win over Hampshire and boosted their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the T20 Blast.
The in-form Pakistan batsman hit an unbeaten 102 off just 55 balls in Hampshire’s impressive total of 202-4, bringing up his ton with a six off the final ball of the innings. In eight games for Somerset, Babar has hit three fifties and a ton.
Hampshire never looked like getting anywhere close to that total, Craig Overton and Jerome Taylor taking two wickets apiece to reduce the hosts to 69 for six when rain brought an early end to play.
That gave Somerset a 63-run victory on Duckworth-Lewis and lifted them up to fifth place in the South Group.
Sussex opened up a two-point lead over Kent at the top of the table with a four-wicket victory over Middlesex, who were without Eoin Morgan.
Middlesex posted 127-6 from their 20 overs, Ollie Robinson taking four for 15, and Sussex reached their target comfortably with more than three overs remaining to maintain their unbeaten record.
Rain also interfered at The Oval, where Gloucestershire defeated Surrey by nine runs on DLS.
The visitors got through their 20 overs, posting a total of 165 for eight. Surrey were then set a target of 104 from 12 overs but were always behind the curve.
Sam Curran, who had taken two wickets, put in a fine late charge, hitting 51 off 35 balls, including two sixes in the final over, but it was not enough.
Nottinghamshire climbed to second in the North Group with a 28-run victory over Birmingham Bears, again on DLS.
Luke Wood took three wickets as Birmingham were restricted to just 119 for nine from their 20 overs.
Joe Clarke hit 47 not out from 32 balls to put Nottinghamshire well in control at 86 for two when the rain came.