Jofra Archer handed maiden Test call up as England name squad for Ashes opener

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A first England Test call up for Jofra Archer.

Jofra Archer has been fast-tracked into England’s Test squad for next week’s Ashes opener at Edgbaston, with all-rounder Ben Stokes reappointed as vice-captain.

The decisions represent a ringing endorsement for two men who arguably did more than anyone to deliver England’s historic World Cup final win over New Zealand earlier this month, involved with bat and ball in the unprecedented super over which secured the silverware.

Archer, uncapped at Test level, was nursing a side strain after the tournament but reported fit after a brief holiday in his native Barbados and returned to action for Sussex on Friday night.

His two wickets for 21 runs in the tied Vitality T20 Blast clash with Surrey convinced the selectors to include him in an expanded 14-man squad featuring plenty of bowling options.

Stokes, meanwhile, reclaims his position as Joe Root’s deputy – a role he was stripped of following a late night brawl in September 2017. He was ultimately cleared on a charge of affray last summer but Jos Buttler has been acting vice-captain until now.

Ten of the 11 players who defeated Ireland in a rollercoaster Test at Lord’s are included, joined by Stokes, Archer, Buttler and James Anderson, who were all rested for that match.

Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad finished things in spectacular style at the home of cricket, taking six for 17 and four for 19 respectively as the Irish were demolished for just 38. Olly Stone and left-armer Sam Curran complete the pace options.

Jack Leach unfortunately misses out having been named man of the match for his nightwatchman’s knock of 92 in a low-scoring game. His left-arm spin was considered surplus to requirements.

National selector Ed Smith said: “Though it is unusual to select a squad of 14 for a home Test, there are compelling reasons to do so here.

“Several bowlers are recovering from injuries or niggles. In addition, some bowlers who played in the World Cup are being closely monitored to assess their preparation for Test match cricket.

“The wider circumstances – a successful home World Cup campaign followed so quickly by a home Ashes series – are unprecedented. It feels sensible to select an expanded squad and leave a number of bowling options open for the final team selection.”

On Stokes’ return to a leadership position, a statement confirmed the decision had passed through several senior management figures at the England and Wales Cricket Board.

It read: “Colin Graves, chairman of the ECB, has approved the reappointment of Ben Stokes as Test vice-captain following the recommendation from managing director of England men’s cricket Ashley Giles and ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.”

England begin their Test preparations with an optional training session on Monday at Edgbaston.

England squad for first Specsavers Ashes Test:

R Burns (Surrey), J Roy (Surrey), J Denly (Kent), J Root (c, Yorkshire), B Stokes (vc, Durham), J Buttler (Lancashire), J Bairstow (wkt, Yorkshire), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), S Curran (Surrey), C Woakes (Warwickshire), J Archer (Sussex), S Broad (Nottinghamshire), J Anderson (Lancashire), O Stone (Warwickshire).

Provided by Press Association Sports

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Lasith Malinga's ODI swansong was a fitting tribute to a great Sri Lankan career

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Lasith Malinga bowed out of the One Day International stage in the way he largely graced it – bowling over batsmen and giving the Sri Lankan fans exactly what they want.

On this occasion, what they desired was not just victory but a fitting farewell, a fulfilling final chapter to a storied career. For 15 years of exemplary service, they yearned for one more exhilarating display to give their favourite son the send-off he deserved.

‘Slinga Malinga’ didn’t disappoint. His slow approaches to the crease as if trying to keep his pace a secret, his wildly unorthodox action that’s grown from questionable to iconic and an underrated tactical mind. It was all on show in this final flourish.

A fifth ODI century for Kusal Perera helped post a first innings score of 314/8, one that Malinga made a ceremonious contribution to with his unbeaten six runs.

Leading the bowling attack for one last time, the 35-year-old took on the new ball and gave his side the perfect start by dismissing Bangladesh skipper Tamim Iqbal with an absolute ripper in the opening over.

The left-hander was beaten all ends up by a delivery that can be described in one of two ways. The perfect in-swinging yorker or a Malinga special.

Iqbal stood no chance as the ball homed in threateningly at his toes and his feeble attempts to position his bat in their place only served to knock him off balance as he hit the deck with the bails dislodged behind him. Vintage Malinga.

It was clearly an emotionally charged encounter for the veteran who celebrated wildly as if it were his maiden scalp. His bowling on the day was noticeably intense, featuring a series of yorkers and bouncers, knowing full well that his aging body would no longer have to endure the demands of a 50-over match beyond this.

He bowled with great vigour as if determined to take another wicket, just one more, with every ball. That approach led to few wayward deliveries but an economic first spell would yield another classic.

While Iqbal was perhaps caught off guard, there can be no excuse for his opening partner. Having escaped two yorkers, nearly dragging one onto his stumps with an inside edge, Soumya Sarkar naively attempted to drive another full-pitched delivery.

Of course, it was no juicy half-volley or loose full toss. Malinga was on the money again. There was no driving that delivery and another batsman returned to the pavilion with his stumps rattled.

It was fitting that Malinga’s swansong should hit all the right notes and that his trademark yorkers feature prominently.

Prior to this game, he had already bowled 1,018 yorkers in ODIs according to cricviz.com. The bowler closest to that mark is Tim Southee with 390.

Those precise yorkers are responsible for Malinga’s best moments. Think back to World Cup 2007 when he destroyed the South African lower order with a fierce spell, taking four wickets in four balls.

As the years passed, that lethal pace slowly faded away with injuries inevitably taking a toll. An already underwhelming run up was reduced to a slow jog and while the yorker remained his most potent weapon, a new level of guile sustained his international career.

And as that repertoire of variations has served him so well in recent years, so it did again on Friday at the Premadasa Stadium.

Bangladesh were on their knees with nine wickets down and the vociferous crowd encouraged Malinga to strike the killer blow. Into his final over, the yorkers had lost their zing and so the experienced pacer reached into his bag of tricks.

Determined to go down swinging, Mustafizur Rahman slashed at another delivery, failing to read the subtle change in pace. The slower ball was skied and Thisara Perera made no mistake with his catch just outside the inner circle.

Malinga raised his arms in the air, grateful for his third wicket. His figures of 3/38 drew a strange symmetry with the fact that it saw him end with 338 ODI wickets, a tally that took him above Anil Kumble into ninth on the all-time list.

“I feel it’s the right time for me to retire from ODIs,” Malinga said in his post-match comments.

And so to Sri Lanka’s next great bowling talent…

You don’t need to reveal yourself this instance. You don’t have to be the new Malinga or Muttiah Muralitharan. You shouldn’t be expected to scale similar heights.

But please, make sure you have a uniquely iconic bowling action.

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Imad Wasim impresses on debut after joining Nottinghamshire for T20 Blast stint

Waseem Ahmed 27/07/2019
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Pakistan all-rounder Imad Wasim.

Pakistan all-rounder Imad Wasim had a respectable debut for Nottinghamshire on Friday after signing up with the county outfit for the ongoing T20 Blast.

Imad signed for Outlaws on Friday and was drafted straight into the playing XI for the clash against Derbyshire which his side managed to win by 27 runs.

The all-rounder struck an unbeaten 10 with the bat before finishing with figures of 1-16 from his three overs in the clash.

“I can’t wait to represent the Outlaws in T20 cricket,” the Pakistan man said on his Nottinghamshire stint.

“Trent Bridge is a wonderful ground with fans who are passionate and knowledgeable. They were a generous audience during the One-Day International earlier this year and Trent Bridge under floodlights looked amazing.

“My aim is to contribute to the Outlaws going all the way. They did it in 2017 and we have an exciting squad with lots of international talent that’s capable of doing it again.”

Imad has so far played 52 ODIs and 35 T20Is for Pakistan over the course of his career and has managed to establish himself as a limited-overs specialist.

The all-rounder’s signature was welcomed by Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire’s director of cricket.

“With the nature of the international schedule, it’s a very difficult market in which to sign overseas players – far more difficult than it used to be,” Newell stated.

“With Imad becoming available on the back of the World Cup, we acted as quickly as possible to secure him. The paperwork and clearances have taken a little bit of extra time, meaning we’ve had to start the tournament without him.

“He brings an additional spin bowling option that we think we can benefit from and he’ll strengthen our middle-order batting as well.”

Meanwhile, Imad’s Pakistan team-mate Babar Azam sizzled for Somerset in the T20 Blast on Friday with a 61-ball 95. The Pakistan man still ended up on the losing side eventually with Liam Dawson leading Hampshire to a four-wicket win.

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