Joe Root is eager to begin working alongside a new England coach, with Gary Kirsten still the firm favourite to succeed Trevor Bayliss.
Kirsten was initially thought to be out of the picture due to the touring demands of the job and his recently-agreed role with Welsh Fire in the Hundred, but the England and Wales Cricket Board have been willing to remove both hurdles.
England are open to allowing assistant coaches to take an expanded role to allow the top man a less prohibitive schedule and the ECB may be tempted to use a vacancy in the Hundred to appoint an aspiring English coach such as Marcus Trescothick.
Kirsten, who had a fine track record with South Africa and India, could be appointed as early as next week if talks continue to go smoothly, while two members of Bayliss’ backroom team – Chris Silverwood and Graham Thorpe – have shown interest in stepping up to the top job.
The experienced Graham Ford has also been linked, but reports suggest former England captain and current Surrey chief Alec Stewart has now withdrawn.
As Test captain, Root is not directly involved in the process, with director of cricket Ashley Giles in charge of making the appointment, but he has run the rule over the candidates and likes what he has seen.
“I’ve been made aware of who has been going in for interview and some of those candidates are really exciting. You look at the list and I’m thrilled with the names involved,” he said.
“There’s a lot of noise around certain individuals but the group have all done special things and could bring good things to English cricket. Ashley has got an exciting but difficult decision to make. That’s not my pay grade.
“The sooner the better but ultimately I think Ash is just desperate to make the right decision.
“One thing you always want from a new coach is a bit of energy and a slightly different way of going about things. Trevor did a brilliant job managing English cricket but I’m sure whoever comes in will want to put their stamp on it quite early.
“Personally I’m looking forward to Test cricket being slightly more of a priority than it has been for the past few years.”
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A fighting ton from South Africa opener Dean Elgar has kept the visitors in the hunt in their first Test against India at Visakhapatnam.
The left-hander’s superb century helped the Proteas overcome a horror-start which had seen them reduced to 39-3 at the end of play on Day Two.
Earlier, a maiden double ton from Mayank Agarwal and a free-flowing 176 from his opening partner Rohit Sharma had helped India to a mammoth score of 502-7 before the first innings was declared by skipper Virat Kohli.
Will the visitors be able to carry the fight further in the opening Test against India? Find out by following the ball-by-ball LIVE commentary from Vizag below.
The former Pakistan skipper will now hope to achieve similar success in the upcoming T20I series which gets underway on Saturday.
Misbah has already sprung a few surprises in the 16-man Pakistan T20 squad announced on Wednesday with as many as three players making their international comebacks.
As the hosts prepare to do battle in the three-match series at Lahore, we look at five players who will be keen to prove a point to Misbah.
Controversy’s favourite child Umar Akmal is back after being called up to the T20 squad for the first time since September 2016.
Despite his undeniable prodigious talent with the bat, the 29-year-old’s run-ins with previous head coach Mickey Arthur and inconsistent form saw him drop out of favour with the Men in Green.
He was given a recall to the ODI squad earlier this year in the five-match series against Australia but failed to make the most of his chance and ultimately missed the cut for the 2019 World Cup squad.
Having impressed in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) for Quetta Gladiators, the younger Akmal sibling will now hope to bring that same solid form into the T20 clashes against Sri Lanka.
Misbah has made it clear that he is willing to give forgotten players a second chance and Akmal will need to seize his opportunity if he wants to be a consistent present in the Pakistan set-up.
Having lost his place in the Pakistan squad after failing a doping test last year, Shehzad is one of the three players who has been given a new lease of life by Misbah for the upcoming series.
Like Umar, Shehzad too, has divided opinions over the course of his international career with his inconsistent displays. While his T20I average of 26.43 might be nothing to write home about, Shehzad has still managed to register the two highest individual scores in the format by any Pakistan batsman.
He remains the sole T20I centurion for Pakistan and gave brief glimpses of his ability in the PSL earlier this year. With Imam-ul-Haq (injury) and Abid Ali missing out for the upcoming seriers, the 27-year-old could really make the opening spot his own if he can register some big scores in the three clashes.
The explosive middle-order batsman was meant to be Pakistan’s trump card in the 2019 World Cup but he failed to make his mark and was dropped from the playing XI after two poor displays.
Having battled through personal tragedy in the summer, the T20 series is a chance for the Islamabad United batsman to reaffirm his limited-overs credentials for Pakistan.
He possesses the ability to clear the rope at will as his displays in the PSL have shown over the years, but his failure to bring the same consistency to the international stage has set him back time and again.
Asif was one the key protagonists in Pakistan’s rise to the top of the T20I rankings and he will now need to do it all again if he wants to remain in Misbah’s good books.
Asif’s Islamabad United team-mate Faheem Ashraf is another one to be given a second chance by Misbah and the all-rounder will be determined to prove a point after his 2019 World Cup snub.
Along with his ability to bowl some tidy seamers, Faheem is also a handy lower-order batsman who can pile on some quick runs in the death overs.
The 25-year-old has serious competition for the all-rounder’s spot with Imad Wasim and Iftikhar Ahmed also vying for the same place. However, he can put himself in the driving seat if he can considerably improve on his measly T20I batting average of 11.36.
The 19-year-old turned heads with his express pace in the 2019 PSL and a Pakistan debut followed soon after in the ODI series against Australia. The teenager was able to book his spot in Pakistan’s 2019 World Cup squad subsequently but chances have since dried up for him.
The Hyderabad man has been carrying the towel in Pakistan’s last 10 ODI encounters and failed to get a single game in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka.
With skipper Sarfraz Ahmed promising to give every player a chance in the upcoming T20 series, Hasnain could finally get another opportunity to impress.
While he is definitely one for the future, Hasnain only needs to look at fellow youngster Shaheen Afridi’s meteoric rise for immediate inspiration.