Ashes 2019: Unbeaten Steve Smith holds the key for Australia as rain halts England's progress at Lord's

Ashish Peter 16/08/2019
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Smith remained unbeaten on 13 on day three.

On an overcast and gloomy day at Lord’s, England found plenty of joy in the small chunks of play that were possible on Day Three of the second Ashes Test against Australia.

Having been bowled out for 258 runs in their first innings, the hosts came roaring back into the tie in the morning session of day three with the pacers making early inroads in the Aussie response.

Stuart Broad was the pick of England bowlers with two scalps while Jofra Archer bagged his maiden Test wicket as the visitors were left reeling at 80-4 before play was abandoned for the day.

England’s nemesis Steve Smith was still unbeaten at the crease but David Warner’s miserable Ashes continued with the opening falling to Broad for the third time in a row in the series.

Warner was bowled around his legs for just three runs before to give England the first opening before Cameron Bancroft and Usman Khawaja steadying things down with a gritty stand.

The pair added 49 runs for the second wicket amidst some excellent bowling by the hosts before Bancroft’s luck ran out. The Australia opener became Archer’s maiden Test scalp after being caught plumb on the pads by a sharp in-swinger.

Things went from bad to worse for the Aussies with Khawaja departing after his solid 36 in the very next over. Lord’s favourite Chris Woakes was the man to do the damage with Khawaja getting a thick edge which was gobbled up safely by Jonny Bairstow.

Broad had his second of the day with the help of a review after Aleem Dar had originally turned down his lbw shout against Travis Head as Australia slumped to 71-4.

The hosts were celebrating a fifth wicket soon after when Dar raised the finger to Ben Stokes’ appeal against Matthew Wade but the Aussie batsman was the one to benefit from a review this time around with replays showing the delivery as pitching outside leg-stump.

Smith remained a solid figure in his 40-ball vigil at the crease and the right-hander will hold the key on the fourth day if Australia are to remain in the hunt in the Test.

‘Twitchy’ Smith’s theatrical leaves

Smith’s idiosyncratic movements at the batting crease can be off-putting for most bowlers and England skipper Joe Root had hoped that his bowlers will be able to ignore them in the second Test at Lord’s.

“It’s something you’ve got to look past. A lot of what he does is to try to put you off in a way, trying to make it look extremely different so you have to think way outside the box,” Root had said ahead of the Lord’s Test.

“You look at his dismissals over a period of time, it’s not far away from everyone else’s – the movements before and after it might look slightly different but it’s just being really clear on how we want to go about it.”

Smith was even more extravagant with his trigger movements on Friday with the right-hander displaying some theatrical leaves during his unbeaten 40-ball vigil at the crease. Whether it put off England’s bowlers is debatable but Smith was the only Aussie batsman who looked untroubled on a day which was highly conducive to swing bowling due to the overcast conditions.

Better forecast for final two days

While the unfavourable weather has already cost more than one and a half day’s play in the Test, there is cause for optimism for the final two days.

The weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday is largely favourable and two complete days of play is a real possibility. Whether that is enough for either side to force a result remains to be seen but it is the hosts who look to be ahead at this stage and they will be desperately hoping to dismissing Smith early on day four and bundle out Australia cheaply in the first innings.

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Eoin Morgan in no rush to commit himself to England captaincy for 2020 T20 World Cup

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England World Cup-winning skipper Eoin Morgan.

England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan will take his time before committing to lead the side at next year’s Twenty20 tournament in Australia.

The 32-year-old struggled with a back problem during last month’s dramatic success on home soil and was restricted to limited training.

There has been speculation about Morgan’s future in the role and, if he does not intend to continue for next October’s World T20, England may wish to name his successor in time for this winter’s trip to New Zealand.

After taking a two-week break, Morgan has been playing limited-overs cricket for Middlesex this month but has yet to decide on the England captaincy.

“I need more time to think, that’s the honest answer. It’s a big decision, it’s a big commitment,” he told BBC Test Match Special.

“Given the injury that I went through in the World Cup, I need time to get fully fit. I need time to get back fit because the only training I could do throughout the World Cup was quite limited.

“I actually need the season to end pretty soon so I can have that time to physically get fit and guarantee it’s not an injury risk between this year and next and then I’ll be able to make a call on it.”

Asked if he wants to lead England at the tournament, he replied: “Absolutely, who doesn’t?

“But I don’t want to let anybody down. When you lead, you have to lead from the front. And you have to be physically fit to start, fighting form is another thing. Hopefully that works itself out.”

Ashley Giles has been keen not to rush Morgan into making a decision.

Giles, managing director of men’s cricket for the England and Wales Cricket Board, said a fortnight ago that he had not spoken to Morgan about his position.

“I’ve not talked to him yet and I’ve done that quite purposely. I want to give him some time,” said Giles.

“We’ll have a chat at some point but he’s still probably got to come back down to earth, do some thinking and then we’ll get together and have a chat. We’re not rushed at the moment.”

Provided by Press Association Sports

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Grant Flower believes Imam-ul-Haq is destined to have an excellent career for Pakistan

Waseem Ahmed 16/08/2019
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Pakistan opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq.

Former Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower is backing Imam-Ul-Haq to have a highly successful international career if he continues to develop on the promise he has shown so far.

Imam has so far struck seven tons and six half-centuries in 36 ODI appearances for Pakistan but the left-hander has continued to face increased scrutiny by virtue of being the nephew of Inzamam-ul-Haq who recently stepped down as the selection chief.

Flower, whose contract as batting coach of Pakistan was not renewed after the World Cup, believes Babar Azam and Imam are the two most improved batsmen from his five-year stint with the Men in Green.

“Babar Azam’s the obvious one,” Flower told ESPNcricinfo in an interview when asked about the most improved Pakistan batsman.

“But also Imam-ul-Haq, I think he’s really improved. You’re going to see a lot more of him because he’s very driven.

“As long as he doesn’t get too far ahead of himself, I think he’s going to have a really good career.”

Flower (c) had a five-year stint as Pakistan batting coach.

Flower (c) had a five-year stint as Pakistan batting coach.

Adding on his thoughts on Babar, Flower said, “He’s probably the best bloke I’ve ever coached – certainly the best Pakistani I’ve ever coached.”

While he has been encouraged by the progress of Babar and Imam, the former Zimbabwe international has been dismayed by Fakhar Zaman’s inability to kick on from his electric start to life in international cricket.

“I’ve worked quite a lot with him (Fakhar), but he’s got such a different technique to others,” said Flower.

“He’s quite hard to work with, even though he’s a lovely guy. There’s a lot of rawness about him, but his results have been very inconsistent.

“But I think he’s good enough to make something of it, but he’s got a lot of work to do.”

Pakistan’s fifth-place finish in the 2019 World Cup has resulted in the non-renewal of the contracts of the entire coaching staff including head coach Mickey Arthur. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has already invited applications for the new head coach of the side with reports in Pakistan suggesting that former skipper Misbah-ul-Haq could be in consideration for the job.

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