Shoaib complete 200 ODI wickets

Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar became only the 26th bowler to complete 200 wickets in one-day internationals. He achieved this feat when he disturbed the furniture of England’s Dalrymple in the first game of the five-match ODI series at Sophia Gardens Cardiff. Shoaib’s career tally now stands at 202 wickets in 130 matches. It is to be noted that six of Shoaib’s 202 wickets were taken while representing Asian XI against African XI in 2005. So this means, he is yet to reach the milestone of 200 wickets while playing for Pakistan. For reader’s interest the accompanying tables have the complete details.

Umpires could lose forfeit power

Calls have been made for the power to decide on the forfeiture of Test matches to be taken away from umpires and instead given to the match referee.

Many feel the ball-tampering furore in The Oval Test may have had a different outcome had referee Mike Procter, not umpire Darrell Hair, made the decision.

Sri Lanka Cricket publicly announced it was in favour of a rule change. The Chairman Jayantha Dharmadasa said: “The ICC should discuss if some decisions would be better left to referees.”

Flintoff set for Champions Trophy return

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Star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has announced plans of making an early international comeback and would captain England in this fall’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy in India.

Flintoff, out of action because of an ankle injury, is set to return at the Champions Trophy but would only be playing as a specialist batsman.

The England skipper missed the series against Pakistan and was only scheduled to return to the squad for the Ashes getting underway in Australia in November. But he made better than expected progress in his rehabilitation which included two practice sessions in the nets last week.

Racial discrimination forced me to leave South Africa: Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen says heartbreaking racial quotas forced him into making the biggest decision of his life, to quit his native South Africa and move to England.

The batsman said his starring role in last summer’s Ashes’ triumph only happened when racial discrimination resulted in him being left out of the Natal side because of the colour of his skin.

Pietersen made the decision to move to England, his mother’s place of birth, and impressed for Nottinghamshire then Hampshire to earn a call-up to the national side of his adopted country.

The Oval Test incident surrounded by media guesswork

Nine days after The Oval Test fiasco, the media continue to speculate on the reasons why umpire Darrell Hair accused Pakistan of ball tampering.

The latest theory brought forward by a leading British newspaper on Tuesday is that the ball used by Pakistan in England’s first innings in the fateful fourth Test displayed such obvious signs of tampering that Hair needed only slender evidence in the second innings to charge the tourists.

According to the report, Pakistani bowlers Mohammad Asif and Umar got a lot of reverse swing on the opening day of the Test, something that made them suspicious at least to Hair. Both Asif and Umar got four wickets each in the England first innings.

Hair in big trouble, says Inzamam

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Pakistan cricket team’s captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has said umpire Darrell Hair is now in “big trouble” as the ball-tampering row took a new twist.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chiefs have called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to hold an inquiry into the conduct of 53-year-old Australian umpire Hair before disciplinary charges, due to be heard late next month, are considered against Inzamam.

The fourth Test between England and Pakistan at The Oval, London, ended in bizarre fashion a week last Sunday when the tourists refused to take the field after tea on the fourth day in protest at being earlier penalised five runs for ball-tampering by Hair and the West Indian umpire Billy Doctrove.

Woolmer hopes ODIs will keep controversy in background

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Bob Woolmer is hoping the Pakistan team would play the sort of cricket in the One-day International (ODI) series against England that would put The Oval Test controversy in the background.

The Englishman is happy that cricket action has resumed after a weeklong gap that was dominated by what has been termed by the British media as ‘Hairgate’.

“It’s such a relief,” Woolmer told this correspondent as his players prepared to take on England in a day-night ODI here at the Sophia Gardens on Wednesday. “Whatever happened in the past week or so was so unnecessary but thankfully we are moving on,” added the Pakistan coach.

Selection of Shahid Yousuf in playing eleven unlikely

Young middle-order batsman Shahid Yousuf was sent to England ahead of the One-day International (ODI) series to strengthen Pakistan’s batting line-up.

But early signs are showing the young Sialkot batsman, who has scores loads of runs in the domestic seasons, would return home without playing a single game.

Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq, when asked whether the youngster would get any match on this tour, gave a wry smile and said: “We don’t have room for some good, tried and tested players in this team, how can we fit him (Shahid) in.”

Big guns Shoaib, Asif restrict England to 202

Shoaib Akhtar almost erased doubts over his fitness when he took three wickets to help Pakistan skittle out England for 202 runs in the first One-day International at the windswept Sophia Gardens on Wednesday.

On a cold and cloudy day, Shoaib ended with figures of 3-45 in ten overs after limping out of field following his first spell of 0-13 from four overs.

The star speedster helped Pakistan wrap up the England innings after young medium pacer Mohammad Asif (3-28) did the initial damage with a three-wicket haul from his first spell.

Strauss rejects Ashes umpires suggestion

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Stand-in England cricket captain Andrew Strauss has dismissed Cricket Australia’s (CA) suggestion to use Australian and English umpires instead of the International Cricket Council (ICC) neutral umpires for the forthcoming Ashes series.

“I am happy with the system which is currently in place. From my point of view the regulations the ICC has in place are perfectly adequate. I don’t see any reason to change that,” he was quoted as saying by Daily Telegraph.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) reacted coolly to CA’s suggestion.