England are preparing to hand Olly Stone a debut as they begin their winter travels with a one-day international in Dambulla.
The Warwickshire paceman has impressed during his first week with the senior international squad and looks set to make the XI for the first of five ODIs in Sri Lanka.
Stone, who turned 25 on Tuesday, sent down six lively overs in England’s only warm-up match and has impressed enough in nets to nudge himself into the team.
With Liam Plunkett having been excused for the first three games of the series to get married, Stone is seen as the best like-for-like replacement and will bring some extra pace to the touring team.
Vice-captain Jos Buttler, who kept wicket to the seamer in Colombo last week, said: “He’s hitting the gloves hard, I thought he was impressive.
“The guys facing him in the nets said it wasn’t that enjoyable. He’s obviously had a great season and come back really well from injury. I think he is a really exciting prospect.
“They (Stone and Plunkett) perform a pretty similar role: a big, tall guy with a lot of pace.”
Elsewhere in the side Alex Hales looks set to be the odd man out at the top of the order, amid reports he has agreed a controversial deal to play in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Hales, alongside captain Eoin Morgan, declined to tour the country in 2016 on security grounds but has now been linked with a lucrative franchise stint in the domestic Twenty20 competition.
England’s selection plans will not have been affected by the link, with Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow always considered the likelier opening pair on this trip.
The final place in the side may not be decided until the pitch is revealed, with paceman Mark Wood and third-choice spinner Liam Dawson vying for one slot.
Whatever happens, Morgan’s place is not under any imminent danger. Despite that, the Dubliner took the unusual step of suggesting he would not be afraid to axe himself if it improved the team’s chances at next summer’s home World Cup.
Morgan told Sky Sports Cricket: “When you drop yourself as captain it almost sets that example, that nobody’s place is cemented in this side.
“If I’m not supposed to be in the team I’ll be the first one to say it. If it means making a tough decision I’m more than capable of doing that.
“It’s a brave call, but we’ve come a long way with this team. We need to put ourselves in the best position in order to be contenders. If that means I’m not good enough to be in the team, both as a captain or as a player…I’m a pretty honest guy.”
The Sport360 Team is in place bringing you the latest cricket news on Tuesday.
There is plenty of action to look forward to with day three of the first Test between Pakistan and Australia currently underway in Dubai.
8:30pm – UAE captain Rohan Mustafa not happy with former coach comments
Rohan Mustafa has responded to comments made by former coach Aaqib Javed, who said the national team were not going in the right direction after his departure. Click here on what he said.
8:00pm – Aaron Finch praises bowling effort of Bilal Asif
The Australian Test debutant had nothing but praise for the 33-year-old off-spinner. Read what Finch said about Asif’s six wickets here.
7:30pm – Bilal Asif credits Mushtaq Ahmed
It was a sensational Test start for Bilal Asif after his six wickets rattled the Australian batsmen in the first Test in Dubai. Following his success, the 33-year-old off-spinner credited spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed. Click here on what he had to say.
5:30pm – Dinesh Chandimal backs axed Angelo Mathews to bounce back
Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal admits his axed predecessor Angelo Mathews remains the country’s best one-day batsman.
Mathews will sit out the five-match series against England, which gets under way in Dambulla on Wednesday, after being dropped in acrimonious circumstances by selectors.
Read what Chandimal had to say about Mathews here.
5:00pm – Pakistan in control at Dubai after Bilal Asif debut show
The third day’s play in the opening Test between Pakistan and Australia has drawn to a close and its been one which has belonged to debutant Bilal Asif. The Pakistan spinner picked up a six-wicket haul on his debut as Australia were bowled out for 202 in their first innings following a dramatic collapse.
Armed with an 180-run lead, Pakistan reached 45-3 in their second innings before stumps were drawn at the Dubai International Cricket stadium. Our man Alex Broun has been covering the action from the stadium and you can read more on the day’s play in his Test diary here. You can also read his report card from Tuesday’s play here.
4:30pm – Darren Lehmann looking to return to coaching
Australia’s Darren Lehmann is keen to return to coaching following a few months out of the game.
The former Australia coach resigned from his post at the end of March following the infamous ball-tampering episode which occurred during the team’s tour of South Africa.
Read what Lehmann had to say on his future plans here.
3:30pm – Inconsistencies continue to hamper India’s KL Rahul
As the India and West Indies prepare for the second Test, the spotlight will be bright on KL Rahul whose inconsistent 2018 shows no signs of ending.
For a batsman whose talents have promised much, Rahul has flattered to deceive more often than not. Here, we take a look at how inconsistencies have continued to hamper his progress ever since he made his Test debut against Australia.
3:00pm – Eoin Morgan willing to sacrifice himself for World Cup glory
Eoin Morgan insists he would not think twice about dropping himself if it helped England‘s chances of winning the World Cup.
Despite his considerable position of strength, the Dubliner has made it clear that nobody should consider themselves certainties over the next eight months.
Read what the England skipper had to say here.
1:30pm – Rohit Sharma to make domestic cricket return
While team India’s Test stalwarts battle it out with the West Indies in the two-match series, Rohit Sharma is set to turn out for Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Having been ignored for selection in the Test squad, the India opener plans to warm-up for the upcoming ODI series against the Windies by sweating it out in the domestic arena for Mumbai.
Read more on this developing story here.
12:30pm – Rahul Dravid wants India to alter red-ball approach
Rahul Dravid believes that India’s red-ball set-up is in need of a push in the right direction with lack of opportunities in the format hindering players.
The India batting great currently coaches the U19 and India A teams and believes that the two can create a healthy pipeline of talent for the senior team if used correctly.
Read what the India legend had to say here.
10:30am – Australia look to build on momentum in Dubai
Australia’s openers Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne are at the crease on day three of the opening Test against Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket stadium. The Aussies resumed from their overnight total of 30-0.
Earlier on day two, Haris Sohail’s maiden Test ton and a spirited fightback by Australia in the final session saw Pakistan eventually bowled out for 482 in their first innings. Do not miss the action from this intriguing Test by following our live score service, here.
10am – Syed Kirmani questions India selectors’ suitability
Former India wicket-keeper and selector Syed Kirmani has said that the current MSK Prasad-led selection panel is not experienced enough to challenge captain Virat Kohli or coach Ravi Shastri.
The former gloveman expressed his concerns after Test players Karun Nair and Murali Vijay were omitted from the squad for the West Indies series
Read what Kirmani had to say here.
9:30am – ICC provisionally suspends three Hong Kong players
The ICC on Monday charged three Hong Kong cricketers for breaching the Anti-Corruption Code on a total of 19 counts and provisionally suspended them with immediate effect.
Irfan Ahmed, Nadeem Ahmed and Haseeb Amjad are the three players who have been sanctioned by the governing body after they admitted to breaching the code.
Read more on this breaking story, here.
Asif’s 6-36 saw Australia collapse from 142-0 to 202 all out in their first innings as Pakistan took a substantial 280-run lead into their second dig.
The 33-year-old off-spinner was all smiles following his debut show as he made his return to international cricket after a period of nearly three years.
“First of all, thanks to God that everything went well. I am feeling very good. I was just trying to do well and stay with my basics,” Asif stated following the end of the day’s play.
“It has been a very good debut and I will try my best to build on this and keep performing for Pakistan.”
The Sialkot-born man became only the third spinner in Pakistan history after Mohammad Nazir and Shahid Afridi to complete a five-wicket haul on debut.
It was not always rosy for the Pakistan spinner on Tuesday and he had to endure a wicketless morning session before bursting into life.
“Being a debutant, of course there is pressure. In the first session, I wasn’t feeling well because I did not bowl as well. However, my team-mateswere very supporting and encouraging and gave me the confidence to perform,” Asif explained.
The off-spinner made his Pakistan debut in October, 2015 in an ODI against Zimbabwe before being dropped from the squad from the squad just one month later. Asif has credited Pakistan great and current spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed for helping him fight his way back into the national team.
“I have been struggling for the last few years. I made my debut against Zimbabwe in 2015 and it has taken three years for me to come back. It has been a long time. I was working very hard in the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and the guys there really helped me. Now I am here, I am very happy,” Asif stated.
“See, being a professional cricketer, you have to be strong mentally. I never doubted myself. I just wanted to keep up my hard work. Whether I got a chance or not is not something I can control. Performance and getting a chance is all down to God. My only job is only working hard. I made a lot of efforts in the two-three years after I was out of the team.
“I attended many camps in the NCA and I would like to thank Mushy bhai (Mushtaq Ahmed) for my performance since he has been working hard with me for the last three years. Now that I have got the reward, all the credit goes to Mushy bhai.”
While Asif shone with a six-wicket haul, leg-spinner Yasir Shah went wicketless despite bowling the most number of overs (28).
Defending Yasir’s performance, Asif said: “This is a team game. He might not have picked a wicket but he is a world-class bowler. It was my luck that I got so many wickets.
“Yes, there was pressure after not picking a wicket in the first session as a debutant. However, I kept all these things on the side and focused on my bowling and in the end God helped me.”