July 11th, 2006

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Grass scrubbing work begins at Arbab Niaz Stadium

Work has been started on scrubbing of the grass of Arbab Niaz Stadium, the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) curator in NWFP Mir Bashar Khan said here on Monday.

It would take another month to make the stadium playable for any class of cricket activities, Bashar added. Bashar, who is also assistant director in the NWFP Sports Directorate, disclosed that earlier they had scrubbed the grass and levelled Arbab Niaz Stadium in June 1998, it had decided to repeat similar work after eight years in order to shape up the stadium according to international needs.

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Oxygen chamber breathes life into Hoggard fitness bid

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Matthew Hoggard is to spend time in an oxygen chamber during the next few days as he attempts to get fit to face Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s starting on Thursday.

The 29-year-old paceman, an ever-present for England’s last 32 Tests, had his run threatened after Yorkshire team-mate Tim Bresnan trod on his hand during the warm-up before Saturday’s third day of the four-day clash between England A and Pakistan at Canterbury, a match that ended in a draw.

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Glenn McGrath unlikely to play in Champions Trophy

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Andrew Hilditch, the Australia chairman of selectors, has hinted Glenn McGrath may miss the ICC Champions Trophy which begins mere weeks before the start of the Ashes.

McGrath, 36, missed Australia’s tours of South Africa and Bangladesh earlier this year owing to his wife’s battle with cancer. Jane’s health has improved in recent months and, in May, McGrath hit back at the critics who said his career could be over when he said he had “been working on a number of things I believe will make me an even better bowler come the start of the Ashes”.

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Samiullah Niazi has progressed in leaps and bounds

Mianwali-born Samiullah Khan Niazi, a fast improving left-arm medium-fast bowler, has been called up y the team management for the current tour of England. The move has been necessitated by the withdrawal from the team of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan through injury and fitness problems faced by some other pace bowlers.

Samiullah will turn 24 years old early next month. His career has already progressed in leaps and bounds and, after just four seasons of first-class cricket, he has gathered 138 wickets in 32 matches at an inexpensive 19.48 runs apiece.

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Flintoff makes fairytale return

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Andrew Flintoff made a spectacular return to senior cricket with an astonishing bowling haul here at Old Trafford.

In his first match in a month since being ruled out with an ankle injury, Flintoff took three wickets for four runs in three overs in Lancashire’s seven-wicket Twenty20 win over Nottinghamshire.

Although the man England hope will captain them in the Ashes will not feature in the first Test against Pakistan starting at Lord’s on Thursday, the selectors hope to have him leading the side at his Old Trafford home ground when the second act of the four-match series gets underway there on July 27.

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Pakistan team doubly determined after warm up shambles

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Pakistan cricket team’s coach Bob Woolmer insisted his team’s comical draw with England A in their final warm-up match would steel the tourists ahead of the start of Thursday’s first Test against England at Lord’s.

What might have been an intriguing fourth and final day at Canterbury rapidly descended into a ludicrous contest, not a single wicket falling as both sides employed part-time bowlers for lengthy spells.

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Pacer Asif could be fit for first Test at Lords

Mohammad_Asif

Talented medium-pacer Mohammad Asif has a 50-50 percent chance to play in the opening Test against England getting underway at Lord’s later this week, a Pakistan team official said here on Monday.

Team manager Zaheer Abbas told this correspondent that Asif got intensive treatment for his elbow injury he sustained during the four-day game against England A at Canterbury last week.

The injury was initially thought to be serious enough to rule him out of the first Test starting from July 13 but Zaheer said that there was hope that the youngster would make it just in time to play the opening match.

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Naved-ul-Hasan out of Test series, flies back home

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Injured medium-pacer Rana Naved-ul-Hasan flew back home from here on Monday after his efforts to regain fitness ahead of the second Test against England at Old Trafford were cut short by an aggravated groin problem.

Pakistan manager Zaheer Abbas told ‘The News’ that Rana left for home after it became clear that he will need at least four to six more weeks to get back in shape for international cricket. He said that the team management has requested the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to send young pacer Samiullah Niazi as Rana’s replacement. However, Zaheer was not sure whether Niazi would be able to join ahead of the opening Test at Lord’s.

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