While England have just started their white-ball home season with the ODI series against Australia, Scotland have just finished their entire home campaign. In the past seven days, they stunned England by six runs for their first-ever ODI win against Eoin Morgan’s side before succumbing to back-to-back T20 defeats against top-ranked Pakistan.
While Pakistan and England can look forward to regular fixtures until the end of the year, the same can’t be said about Scotland.
But unlike the Test sides, all four face an uncertain future of how many games they will play every year.
Here, we look at the four nations and their playing schedules until the end of 2018.
Awarded ODI status after winning the World Cricket League Championship, the Dutch are currently involved in a T20 Tri-series with Ireland and Scotland. That event, which will be held every year, was only finalised in April, a few weeks after Netherlands’ last match at the World Cup Qualifier in March.
After beating Ireland in both T20 matches, they will play Scotland in back-to-back clashes on June 19 and 20.
The Dutch will then fly to England, to the Home of Cricket, for another tri-series against the MCC and Nepal at Lord’s. With all games on July 29, Netherlands will play Nepal and then face a MCC side later in the afternoon.
Following their matches against Pakistan and England, there’s been little rest for Grant Bradburn’s men as they travelled to Netherlands for the on-going T20 tri-series.
They face Ireland back-to-back on Saturday before repeating the same against hosts Netherlands on June 19 and 20. Once that match is finished, there are no fixtures lined up for the rest of the year.
By the time they take to the field at Lord’s on July 29, four months will have passed since their last match. That came, ironically, against against the Netherlands – who they will face in London. Once that is completed, their focus turns to the Asia Cup Qualifiers which is likely to be held in early September.
Hong Kong, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore and the UAE will be competing where one team will book their ticket to the Asia Cup showpiece at the end of September.
Nepal will then have a one-month break before they turn their attention to qualifying for the 2020 World Twenty20 in Australia. They are one of seven teams along with hosts Malaysia, Singapore, Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Thailand set to compete in the Asian Eastern Regional Qualifiers. The top three will go through to the next stage of the qualifying process.
After a busy start to 2018, the UAE have had a deserved break and will report to training after the Eid holidays as they begin their preparations for the Asia Cup Qualifiers.
Although the tournament was switched from India to the UAE, Dougie Brown’s side will still have to earn the right to join the likes of India and Pakistan in the premier continental competition. They will fly to Malaysia early September for the qualifying tournament with the winners completing the Asia Cup line-up.
Eoin Morgan’s number one-ranked Three Lions ODI side, in the end, narrowly won Wednesday’s opener by three wickets at the Oval to take a 1-0 lead.
This series is a crucial building block for both teams in the run up to next year’s World Cup in England and Wales, with Australia, especially, starting with a clean slate following March’s infamous ball-tampering scandal.
Here, we assess some of the key taking points before the 50-over match.
Baggy Green could make changes
After being skittled out for just 214 in south west London, Australia’s batting frailties were exposed. At 90-5, things looked bleak until Glenn Maxwell managed to wrestle a stranglehold on their innings and top-score with 62.
That said, it was still Australia’s all-time lowest total against England in the history of the format when winning the toss and electing to have a bat first.
That doesn’t make for pleasant reading for a team searching for formulas and answers.
This weekend, Australian selection boss Trevor Hohns could look to move things around and oust paceman Kane Richardson in favour of either the explosive D’Arcy Short or Alex Carey, who has just made one ODI appearance to date, but showed his star-quality, averaging 49 for the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League.
They without doubt need some extra steel and power in the batting department, and could afford to go into this one a seamer light.
The Australians also have to decide where skipper Tim Paine bats. There is a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, from a leadership perspective, to transform Australia in all forms but his batting isn’t up to scratch for him to merit the No5 role.
A poorly-executed reverse-sweep saw Moeen Ali claim his wicket and only served to give more credence to the argument of promoting Maxwell, a decision coach Ricky Ponting could well be involved in.
This indeed would be a smart move as the tail have struggled to offer much resistance and Maxwell can attack in the middle overs.
Justin Langer does though need to find out a way to get the best out of Paine.
England need to guard against complacency
England made hard work of their run chase in the opening ODI, when in truth, it should have been a doddle given their talent and depth of batting.
The pitch was true and possessed no such demons and while Australia’s pace trio Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye and Michael Neser deserve credit, losing three wickets for 10 runs to slip to 163-6 could have been avoided.
Aggressive cricket has transformed Trevor Bayliss’ outfit but there were a few below-par shots and even when Moeen Ali was at the crease, he failed to show composure with the willow when batting out the equation of 18 runs to win from 69 balls was all that was needed.
Fortunately, David Willey – who produced arguably his best ODI knock to date of 35 not out – saw the hosts over the line but there were some warning signs that the Three Lions can’t afford frequent dips like that.
When Chris Woakes is fit and firing, he is a man that can knit together the lower middle-order and tail and help ensure that England don’t make hectic work of a rather simple equation.
History doesn’t favour the tourists
Whilst the venue of Sophia Gardens is traditionally not one of England’s heralded grounds, mainly because it sits outside of the country but within the England and Wales Cricket Board’s catchment area, Australia have endured a wretched record there down the years.
The Australians have lost four out of five ODI clashes at the venue – inclusive of a five-wicket defeat to Bangladesh in 2005 – while England also won the 2015 Ashes Test at the venue by 169 runs and before that, in 2009, famously batted out a draw. On both occasions, they went on to win the Urn.
They also lost their one and only T20 contest there in 2015.
To get back into this series, the visitors will need a change in luck and will be planning to stop England from securing a sixth ODI victory in seven matches against the old enemy.
The visitors looked to be down and out for the most part of the day before bouncing back in the final session to reduce India to 347-6.
Afghanistan’s star man Rashid Khan picked up his debut Test wicket but went for a few runs early on.
Here, we take a closer look at the performance of the No1 ranked T20I bowler in the word on day one at Bengaluru.
OVERS BOWLED: 26
RUNS CONCEDED: 120
The 19-year-old came into the match on the back of heightened expectations after his burgeoning reputation as the most lethal bowler in the limited-overs format. He was made to look pedestrian for most of the day as he went at more than six runs an over but suddenly, the leg-spinner burst into life in the final session after the pacers had given the breakthrough. He got the wicket of India skipper Ajinkya Rahane with a skiddy leg-spinner as Afghanistan came roaring back in the final session.
Rashid Khan is just bowling googlies. What a great leveller the game is. Of course, he will reflect and get better but the game teaches you to never take your success for granted (not saying Rashid has) but to stay humble and keep working hard.— Nikhil 🏏 (@CricCrazyNIKS) June 14, 2018
It took him some time to get there, but Rashid did eventually get it right as the day progressed. After trying to do too much in every delivery at the start, the spinner settled down finally as tried to work over the batsman without becoming all too predictable. He hit the right lengths and was wicket-to-wicket as edges flew off both sides of the bat of the Indian batsmen. Set Rahane up beautifully with a leg-spinner that skidded on straight to trap the stand-in India skipper plumb in front of the wicket.
Test cricket is tough and Rashid Khan will learn that quickly.. #indvafg— zainab abbas (@ZAbbasOfficial) June 14, 2018
Rashid took way too long to adapt to Test match lengths and lines as he leaked runs like a chimney at the start. He tried to overdo his googly and only used his stock leg-spinner sparingly and that played into the hands of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, especially the former. With it all becoming too predictable, the teenager looked nowhere near the bowler who was terrorising batsmen in the IPL only recently.
Rashid Khan has conceded 100 off 99 balls on his Test debut. Go figure! #IndvAfg— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) June 14, 2018
VERDICT – 6.5/10
It was perhaps one of the harshest introductions to Test cricket Rashid could have imagined and through things did not go right for him for the most part, he showed that he can adapt and learn. His spell towards the end of the day was a reminder of the enormous talent the wrist-spinner possesses. What is more important is how Rashid performs from this point on and if he can take the confidence from that performance into the rest of the Test match.