Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur has admitted that a Test retirement for Mohammad Amir had been on the cards since over a year.
Amir sprang a major surprise earlier this week when he announced his decision to walk away from Test cricket at the age of just 27 in order to prolong his white-ball career.
The left-armed pacer has struggled for fitness and a troublesome knee since making his return to international cricket in 2016 after a five-year suspension for spot-fixing.
“It was on the cards for a long while,” Arthur said about Amir’s retirement in an interview with ESPNcricinfo.
“Amir had been speaking to me about it with me for some time now. His Test career was taking a strain on his body. It’s not about management here. It’s about his desire to play Test cricket and the effects it has on his body.
“I think Amir’s an unbelievable bowler and reluctantly I accepted his decision because that’s what he wanted to do and that’s what he thought was best for himself. What it does do is give us a white-ball bowler that I think we can get a longer period from.”
Amir bows out of Test cricket with 119 wickets in 36 appearances with an average of just over 30. Arthur is now hoping that the pacer can become even a more potent asset for Pakistan in the shorter formats of the game.
“We get a white-ball bowler who’s going to be rejuvenated, refreshed, and with a T20 World Cup just around the corner, in 18 months’ time we’ve got a potential match-winner because we know he performs on the big stage,” said Arthur.
“Like every other player who plays for Pakistan, he’s going to need to put in match-winning performances.
“But he’ll certainly get the opportunity to do that, and he will start in our white-ball cricket.”
Amir had recently finished as Pakistan’s highest wicket-taker in the 2019 ICC Word Cup in England with the southpaw picking up 17 scalps in eight matches.
Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in the second ODI in Colombo to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Opener Avishka Fernando top-scored for the hosts with 82 off 75 balls while Angelo Mathews was unbeaten on 52 as Sri Lanka chased down their target of 239 with more than five overs in hand.
Bangladesh has recorded 238-8 off their 50 overs, with Mushfiqur Rahim finishing on 98 not out. Nuwan Pradeep, Isuru Udana and Akila Dananjaya each took two wickets for Sri Lanka.
It was Sri Lanka’s first bilateral ODI series win at home in three-and-a-half years. Despite the historic win, man-of-the-match Fernando said he was disappointed at missing out on a century.
“I am disappointed to not get to the three-figure mark and hopefully I can convert my starts in the future,” said Fernando. “The track was a bit slow and also spun a bit. I am glad that I was able to make a contribution.”
This is Sri Lanka's 1st bilateral ODI series victory since beating W Indies 3-0 (3) at home in Nov 2015 - 3 years, 8 months ago!— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) July 28, 2019
During this period they had only beaten Ireland 2-0 (2) in June 2016 and Scotland 1-0 (1-0) in May 2019 - both away from home!#SLvBan SLvsBan#BanvSL
Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne said winning at home after such a long period was a huge relief.
“We’ve done very well. Heard we won after 44 months at home. Bowlers did a great job, the spinners Akila and Dananjaya in particular. Avishka went for it in the beginning, unfortunately missed his hundred,” the skipper said.
His Bangladesh counterpart Tamim Iqbal said it was a disappointing outing and said his players simply did not put in the extra effort required.
“We needed to start well. Four down for 50 doesn’t help but the way we bowled even 300 would not have been enough. We just weren’t ready to do the hard work and chose the easy option,” Tamim said.
The hosts won the first ODI by 91 runs on Friday and the third and final match of the series will be held on Wednesday.
England’s World Cup celebrations will have to be put on hold for the time being as Joe Root and his men lock horns with arch-rivals Australia in the Ashes series.
It is the Aussies who are the current holders of the historic urn following their 4-0 triumph Down Under in 2017-18 and the onus will be on the hosts to wrestle it back in front of their home fans.
The Ashes have always been a spicy affair and the upcoming series promises to be no different with the added context of the inaugural World Test Championship. As the two teams get ready for the first showdown at Edgbaston, we look at six players who are bound to play major roles in the five-match series.
Just a few months ago, the Barbados-born pacer wasn’t even eligible to represent England but he is now the toast of the nation after his starring role in the team’s World Cup winning campaign.
The 24-year-old has had to bide his time to become eligible for England selection but he has not wasted a single second in finding his feet at international cricket level.
Archer’s 16 wickets were crucial for the side’s march to a maiden title but it was the manner in which he bowled that will spark more fear in the Aussie batsmen.
He was knocking over batsmen at will in the World Cup with his fiery bouncers at more than 150 kmph while he also possesses a mean yorker and slower delivery. It will now be interesting to see how Archer performs on his Test debut following his exploits in white-ball cricket.
England’s biggest concern heading into the Ashes will once again be the opening slots and they will be hoping that Jason Roy’s introduction to red-ball cricket can help in that regard.
The 29-year-old has been one of the key men in England’s rise to becoming the No1 ODI outfit with his explosive batting at the top of the innings. Roy played his part in the World Cup triumph through some excellent knocks along the way to the final and was subsequently handed a Test debut against Ireland.
While he did look shaky, Roy’s counter-attacking 72 in the second innings shows what he can bring to the table for England. The question now is whether his unorthodox technique can hold up against the most formidable pace attacks in the world.
It was the Ben Stokes World Cup after the all-rounder emerged as England’s most valuable player over the course of the tournament. The 28-year-old has scripted a fine redemption story for himself with his heroics in the epic finale at Lord’s earning him national hero status.
His international career was at a crossroads 20 months ago or so following his involvement in the Bristol nightclub incident which subsequently led to him being axed from the Ashes 2017-18 touring party.
Now, Stokes has been restored as the team’s vice captain and he could be England’s biggest match-winner in the Ashes based on his current form.
While David Warner and Steve Smith have naturally attracted most of the attention since their return to international cricket after a one-year absence, Cameron Bancroft has been quietly making his Australia comeback in the shadows.
The trio were at the centre of the ball-tampering controversy in South Africa last year and they are back together in the Australia Test squad for the first time since.
Bancroft has been excellent for Durham in the County Championship this year and has adapted nicely to conditions in England. His gritty unbeaten innings of 93 on a very difficult pitch in Australia’s intra-squad warm up clash sealed his Ashes selection and he looks favourite to partner Warner at the top of the batting order.
After years of battling injury after injury, James Pattinson is all set to play an Ashes Test for the first time since 2013. The 29-year-old pacer was once hailed as the next big thing when he broke onto the international scene in 2011 with a sensational Test debut against South Africa.
However, multiple injuries have robbed Pattinson of several years of international cricket with the pacer able to make only 17 Test appearances for Australia so far. He will look to put all the years of disappointment and frustration behind him as he prepares for yet another international comeback.
The former Australia skipper was the No1 Test batsman in the world before the ugly episode at Newlands occurred and he now finds himself in the fourth spot as he prepares for a red-ball return.
While Warner was brilliant for Australia in the World Cup, Smith is yet to look close to his commanding best since his return to international cricket.
The 30-year-old is bound to be greeted by a chorus of boos in every Ashes Test but he will be itching to show once again that he is still the king of red-ball cricket. England are Smith’s favourite Test opposition with the right-hander boasting of eight previous tons against them in just 23 matches.