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A file photo of Bangladesh all-rounder Mahmudullah Riyad. — AFP
A file photo of Bangladesh all-rounder Mahmudullah Riyad. — AFP
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Mahmudullah, 35, Retires From Test Cricket

Mahmudullah, a veteran Bangladesh all-rounder, has announced his retirement from Tests after a 12-year career. The 35-year-old, who made his Test debut in 2009, featured in 50 Test matches, scoring 2914 runs at 33.49, including five centuries and 16 fifties, and took 43 wickets. He also captained Bangladesh for six Tests.

Mahmudullah has made it clear that he wants to continue featuring in ODIs and T20Is. © Getty
Mahmudullah has made it clear that he wants to continue featuring in ODIs and T20Is. © Getty Images.

Mahmudullah Scored His Career’s Best Unbeaten 150 In His Final 50th Test

He played his 50th Test against Zimbabwe earlier this year in July at the Harare Sports Club. It was a momentous occasion for the all-rounder as he starred in Bangladesh’s 220-run win over the hosts by hitting 150* in the first innings and was adjudged Player of the Match.

In a statement, Mahmud Ullah said: “Leaving a format of which I have been a part of for such a long time is not easy. I had always thought of going on a high and I believe this is the right time to end my Test career.”

Mahmudullah. (Photo credit BCB/Twitter)
Mahmudullah. (Photo credit BCB/Twitter)

“I want to extend my gratitude to the BCB President for supporting me when I returned to the Test team. I thank my teammates and the support staff for always encouraging me and believing in my ability. It has been an absolute honour and privilege to play Test cricket for Bangladesh and I will cherish the many memories.”

Mahmudullah, who made his Test debut in the West Indies in 2009, winds up his Test career having scored almost 3000 runs at an average of 33.49, including five centuries. He also has a five-wicket haul in Test cricket, finishing with 43 wickets.

Mahmudullah Would Continue Playing ODIs And T20Is

While the BCB were pondering if Mahmudullah’s decision was just an emotional one, the batting all-rounder has made the call official. Despite quitting Test cricket, Mahmudullah has made it clear that he wants to continue featuring in ODIs and T20Is.

“Although I am retiring from Tests, I will still be playing ODIs and T20 internationals and really looking forward to continue giving my best for my country in white ball cricket.”

Mahmudullah In Tests --- Getty Images
Mahmudullah In Tests — Getty Images

Mahmudullah, who made a comeback to the Test format earlier this year in Zimbabwe, had already informed his teammates that he won’t be extending his career in the longest format following his career-best 150* against the African nation in Bangladesh’s 220-run win. The right-hander made an unbeaten 150 — his fifth Test hundred — in his final innings and was named the player of the match.

Mahmudullah played the last of his 49 Tests in January 2020 before earning a recall against Zimbabwe in July 2021. He was subsequently left out of the series against Zimbabwe last year and against West Indies and Sri Lanka this year.

Mahmudullah made him unavailable from the upcoming Bangladesh Cricket League, the country’s lone franchise-based first-class zonal competition scheduled to be played from December 10.

His announcement came two days before Bangladesh is scheduled to take on Pakistan in the first game of a two-Test series in Chittagong. Mahmudullah, the Twenty20 captain of Bangladesh who was not selected for Pakistan Tests, promised to continue playing the other two formats.

Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Getty Images)
Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Getty Images)
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Ajinkya Rahane Plays His Best Test Cricket If He’s His Aggressive Self, Says Wasim Jaffer

Wasim Jaffer, the former India opener, is confident Ajinkya Rahane will regain his touch in the two-Test series against New Zealand starting in Kanpur on Thursday, going by the form the Mumbaikar displayed in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy domestic T20 competition.

Ajinkya Rahane, who will lead in the first Test in the absence of the rested Virat Kohli, had scores of 75, 54, 17, 69, and 71 in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Former India batsman Wasim Jaffer reckons Ajinkya Rahane should bat positively and aggressively to retain his big score.

Wasim Jaffer
Wasim Jaffer. Image Credits: Twitter

Wasim Jaffer: It’ll Be A Crucial Series For Ajinkya Rahane

Ajinkya Rahane has had a horror run with the bat over the last year, which has seen his average dip to under 40. In fact, he averages a mere 19.58 in 11 Tests in 2021, his lowest average in a year since debuting in 2013.

Wasim Jaffer said:  “It’ll be a crucial series for Ajinkya Rahane. He hasn’t been consistent since his century in Melbourne (in December last year). However, I liked the fact that he played for Mumbai in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and even scored consecutive 70+ scores.

“So, he’ll be in a good frame of mind. These two Test matches against New Zealand will be a huge opportunity for him and he’ll be fired up. If he gets a good start, he’ll definitely be looking at that three-figure mark.”

Wasim Jaffer opined that the current Indian lineup appears a little suspect in turning conditions at home.

“Even though saying India has quality batting, I feel that in Indian conditions, Indian batters have fallen short. I don’t feel like we have had that similar quality of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, and (VVS) Laxman against spin for a few years now. But again, even this batting will post a lot of challenges for this (NZ) bowling attack,” he said.

Wasim Jaffer, though, feels Ajinkya Rahane’s big knock is around the corner. He highlighted that the 33-year-old allows the bowlers to get on top of him when he is approaching a big score, and that is an issue he needs to sort out.

“Getting run in [Syed] Mushtaq Ali must have helped him and he’s one of those guys when he gets runs, he gets big runs. Looking forward to him having a really good series,” Wssim Jaffer said.

Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane. Image-Twitter

“Sometimes, I feel, he bats the best when he’s his aggressive self and that is the best he’s played. Even the hundred that he scored in Melbourne in the 2014 Test, that is how he bats the best. But sometimes, I feel, when he gets a big score, he goes into a defensive mode.

“That’s something which I have felt – he just lets the bowlers come on top of him, and that’s something which he needs to be aware of. So, if he’s his aggressive self, he plays his best cricket,” he added.

On the New Zealand series eve, Ajinkya Rahane asserted that some of his non-century innings have been important to the team’s cause.

“My job is to contribute to the team. And contribution doesn’t mean you score a hundred every game; 30-40-70 at a crucial moment is also an important contribution,” Rahane said.

“I always think about the team. I have never thought about where I am going. It is an honour for me to lead the team. What happens in the future is not of concern to me. I am focusing only on how I can give my best at a given particular moment,” he added.

Notably, Ajinkya Rahane has played 40 Tests and scored 7 half-centuries and 3 tons since 2019.

Wasim Jaffer Correctly Picked Umesh Yadav In His Probable XI For Doing Well In Indian Conditions

Wasim Jaffer picked his India XI for the first Test.

“I’ll go with two young openers in Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill. Then Cheteshwar Pujara at No 3. It’ll be a crucial series for Pujara as well,” domestic giant Jaffer said.

Wasim Jaffer chose Shreyas Iyer at No 5 instead of Suryakumar Yadav.

“Ajinkya Rahane in his No 4 slot. I’ll follow up with Shreyas Iyer ahead of Suryakumar Yadav as Iyer was in the squad before Suryakumar came in. My ‘keeper will be Wriddhiman Saha,” Jaffer added.

The former India opener chose three spinners and two pacers.

“At 7 Ravindra Jadeja. Ravichandran Ashwin will be my next spinner and Axar Patel, who did brilliantly against England, will be my last spinner. All the spinners are excellent batters as well, so the batting doesn’t seem to be an issue. They look like a solid, solid team,” he continued.

Umesh Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Umesh Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Wasim Jaffer selected Mohammed Siraj as his first-choice pacer and Umesh Yadav for bowling brilliantly in India.

“Mohammed Siraj will be my first seamer. And lastly, at No 11, I’ll pick Umesh Yadav. Yes, Ishant Sharma has more than 100 Test caps to his name, but Umesh has done brilliantly in Indian conditions. Moreover, Umesh’s ability to reverse swing the old ball will be crucial. So, this is my playing XI for the first Test match against New Zealand.”

India went in with 3 spinners and Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav as the 2 pacers, besides giving a debut to Shreyas Iyer.

Kyle Jamieson led a solid start for New Zealand when he struck with the wicket of opener Mayank Agarwal in the first hour of the morning session. However, Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara then rode through that nervy phase to build a fifty-run partnership, helping India recover from that early blow.

Mayank Agarwal was tentative, poking and missing a couple before finally edging one to be caught behind on 13 off Kyle Jamieson. But Shubman Gill scored a fifty before losing his wicket to Kyle Jamieson.

India: 1 Mayank Agarwal, 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Ajinkya Rahane (capt), 5 Shreyas Iyer, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Axar Patel, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Ishant Sharma.
New Zealand: 1 Tom Latham, 2 Will Young, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 Tom Blundell (wk), 7 Rachin Ravindra, 8 Kyle Jamieson, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Will Somerville, 11 Ajaz Patel.
World Test Championship, India
Indian test team[photo: Twitter]
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Paul Newman Blames IPL 2021 For 5th Test Cancellation Saying “India Did Not Respect Test Cricket”

Paul Newman did not shy away from firing shots at the IPL, Indian cricketers, and the BCCI after the fifth Test against England in Manchester was cancelled due to Covid-19 fears in the Indian camp. India’s assistant physio Yogesh Parmar tested positive for Covid-19 on the eve of the series-decider sending tremors down the Indian dressing room and ultimately leading to the cancellation of the match.

The former English cricketer said the Indian cricketers did not want to take the field because they did not want to risk missing the resumption of IPL on September 19 in Dubai.

Paul Newman (Image credit: Reuters)
Paul Newman (Image credit: Reuters)

Paul Newman: No India Player With An IPL Contract Wanted To Risk Playing In The 5th Test, Testing Positive And Be In England Missing Restart Of IPL 2021

Paul Newman, however, said the Indian cricketers did not want to take the field because they did not want to risk missing the resumption of IPL on September 19 in Dubai.

“There is no way this series decider would have been called off on the morning of the first day had the majority of India’s players not been flying to Dubai next Wednesday for the resumption of the richest tournament in cricket.

“No India player with an IPL contract wanted to risk playing in this Test, then testing positive and being forced to stay in England for another 10 days, so missing the restart of the tournament in the UAE on September 19,” Newman, who has played 135 first-class matches and 177 List A games, wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.

India vs England Test
India vs England Test- Image Credit: Twitter

“The positive PCR test of Yogesh Parmar was the trigger India’s players needed to up sticks and get out of here as soon as possible even after they had all returned negative tests themselves en masse on Thursday evening.

“There really should have been no reason why they could not play on once those test results were returned. That is the criterion that has governed every game this season as cricket continues to navigate the complex Covid world. Why should that change now?”

Junior physio Yogesh Parmar was tested positive for COVID-19 and even the ECB in their press release explained that the Indian players will not be able to take on the field. Now, former English cricketer Paul Newman has slammed Indian players for flouting the rules.

Paul Newman: India Did Not Respect Test Cricket And Series

Paul Newman said that India did not respect this series and they did not respect Test cricket by violating the guidelines of Covid-19 before the fourth Test.

“India did not respect this series in pulling out yesterday and they did not respect Test cricket either in flouting Covid guidelines ahead of the fourth Test,” he added.

The former seamer also blamed India head coach Ravi Shastri‘s book launch event ahead of the fourth Test in London. Paul Newman was quite angry with the Indian team pulling out of the series and slammed Virat Kohli and men for pulling out the series.

Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli during Shastri's book launch event in London | Twitter
Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli during Shastri’s book launch event in London | Twitter

“This whole outbreak in their camp could well have been started by the presence of Shastri along with captain Virat Kohli and several players and staff at a book launch at a London hotel attended by more than 150 people two days before the Oval Test.

“It was a breach of protocols that privately angered those at the ECB who have done so much to keep the show on the road in the last 18 months, not least with three Tests at Old Trafford last year that salvaged millions of pounds of revenue for the game. What a way for Lancashire to be rewarded for all they did then,” he said.

He said that the team disrespected the series by pulling out in this fashion. The former England cricketer also slammed the Indian team for flouting COVID-19 rules and not following the given guidelines. The England Cricket Board was about to write to the ICC for seeking the results of the last Test match.

England(AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
England(AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
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Marcus Trescothick Blames Scheduling And Lack Of Test Cricket For England’s Dismal Performance On 1st Day Of Nottingham Test

Marcus Trescothick, England batting coach has blamed scheduling and lack of red-ball cricket for the home side’s dismal performance in the first innings of the first Test. England was bowled out for 183 in the first innings as nine of their batsmen apart from Joe Root could not cross 30.

England skipper Joe Root’s decision to bat first backfired badly as India pacers led by Jasprit Bumrah (4/46) and Mohammed Shami (3/28) put up an impressive show to bowl out the hosts for 183 runs in the opening Test at Nottingham on Wednesday.

Joe Root
Joe Root Photograph: Sri Lanka Cricket

Marcus Trescothick: Scheduling Is Always An Issue

England captain Joe Root was the only batsman who could deal with the pace and swing of the Indian speedsters. Joe Root scored his 50th fifty in the format and ended up with 64 runs off 108 balls while Jonny Bairstow (29), Zak Crawley (27), and Sam Curran (27 not out) managed to reach the twenties but the rest failed miserably against the Indian pace trio.

“Probably not,” said Marcus Trescothick on being asked if the preparation was ideal.

“Scheduling is always an issue and, trying to get the balance right for the batters moving into Test series, of course, you would want them to play a certain amount of red-ball cricket,” the former England opener Marcus Trescothick added.

England is coming off white ball series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Apart from that, domestic cricket has involved the T20 Blast and The Hundred competitions.

“We all appreciate that trying to get all the cricket in for what you need for players across the whole summer — county teams, The Hundred, all these competitions going on — there’s no easy solution to get this right and something always has to give.”

Marcus Trescothick Getty Images
Marcus Trescothick Getty Images

Marcus Trescothick, however, refused to use it as an excuse.

“Of course, we don’t want to use it as an excuse but we’d love to get more time into them at the crease – bowling with the red ball, facing the red ball. But it’s not the way so you have to find a way and get into it in a different fashion.”

He called Wednesday’s performance an aberration and promised an improved show from England in the remaining days as well as the rest of the series.

“We’ll go away, lick our wounds, and find a way to try and get back in the game. Today has not been the ideal day. Of course not, but that does not define how the rest of the game or the rest of the series is going to go.”

It is perhaps hard to single out just one member of England’s top order who was most in need of discovering some form in this series, but Zak Crawley must have felt himself near the top of that list, averaging just 10.25 in Tests since his extraordinary 267 against Pakistan last summer.

Marcus Trescothick: India Is Potent And Covered All Bases As Proved By Reaching Insaugural WTC Final

He also said that India has improved over the past few years. India had lost the 2018 series in England 1-4 but since then they have scored two series wins in Australia.

“India are the most potent in comparison to where they have been for the past few years. They have a lot of bases covered. We saw them go to Australia and perform there. So it is no surprise to us. It’s just challenging and we know it’s a real contest. We have to raise our game to match up against their skills, ” Marcus Trescothick said.

“They have a good stock currently. They don’t get to the World Test Championship final for no reason, ” Marcus Trescothick said.

Brisbane Test: India beat Australia by 3 wickets at Gabba to win series 2-1, retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy Image Source : AP IMAGE
Brisbane Test: India beat Australia by 3 wickets at Gabba to win series 2-1, retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy Image Source: AP IMAGE

From 138-3, England lost their next six wickets for 22 runs in the space of just 59 balls. Twice they even managed to lose two wickets in an over. Rory Burns was the man to go, the first of four English ducks on the day, taking their total in 2021 to an extraordinary 31 from just nine matches.

England won against West Indies 2-1 after losing the 1st Test in July 2020 at home and also beat Pakistan 1-0 in a 3 match Test series. New Zealand however prevailed against them in a 2 match Test affair prior to the WTC Final as the Kiwis won the 2nd Test by 8 wickets. It was the same result in the WTC Final which the Kiwis won against India.

Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
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Virat Kohli Feels There Isn’t Enough Motivation For Players Towards Test Cricket

Virat Kohli |  Photo Credit: AP
Virat Kohli |  Photo Credit: AP

Virat Kohli: It’s The Players That Keep Test Cricket Alive

The Virat Kohli-led team will be without Mayank Agarwal in the first Test after he got hit on the head during a practice session ahead of the series. KL Rahul will probably open as he is in fine form in the IPL 2020 and 2021 and carried that in the warm-up match against Select County XI, where he slammed a century.

“Test cricket would have been in trouble three years back as well, but I think it’s the players that keep Test cricket alive. To be honest, if we did not have the mindset to play Test cricket and be so passionate for it, then it would have taken a huge hit, or that would have given a huge blow to Test cricket all over the world. I can assure you that,” said Kohli in an interview with Dinesh Karthik for Sky Sports.

Dinesh Karthik Photo: © Reuters (Main Image)
Dinesh Karthik Photo: © Reuters (Main Image)

“WTC is a very positive move, it is a step in the right direction, there is everything at stake in every Test match you play and I think it all depends on what the players want from Test cricket. If people-watching on television feel like I do not want to miss a ball, that is eventually what is going to keep Test cricket alive,” he added.

India is concerned about the opening combination for the 1st Test as both Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal have been ruled out owing to injuries.

Virat Kohli Feels There Isn’t Enough Motivation For People Towards Tests

Compared to 2018, when the team lost 1-4 due to a couple of bad sessions, the skipper Virat Kohli feels that they are much better prepared this time around with two months in England helping them to acclimatize with changes in the weather pattern. India and England will square off in the first Test of the 5-match series which kicks off on Wednesday at Tent Bridge, Nottingham.

When Dinesh Karthik asked why there are not enough teams really competing in the longest format, Virat Kohli said: “Firstly, you need to be honest with yourself. You know Test cricket is tough, even when you are one of the top teams in the world, you can go into space where you do not want it. At certain stages, you can feel like do I want to do this over five days? Are you ready to go out there on day three when stakes are against you? Are you strong enough to do that.”

Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI
Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI

“Firstly, looking yourself at the mirror and asking do you want to play Test and if the answer is yes then just go out there and be relentless. I honestly feel there is not enough motivation for people towards Test cricket, something I have observed. That is why invariably you see, teams giving up in Test cricket,” he added.

In the first WTC cycle, New Zealand defeated India in the finals to win the Test mace. India had last won a Test series in England in 2007 under the leadership of Rahul Dravid and after that, the Men in Blue have struggled to get past the Three Lions in their own backyard.

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant
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Rishabh Pant Has Made Us Love Test Cricket, Says Irfan Pathan

Irfan Pathan has said that current dashing keeper Rishabh Pant’s belligerent batting has made everyone fall in love with the longest format of the game. Rishabh Pant played a few match-defining knocks in critical junctures to help Team India qualify for the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final.

The swashbuckling wicketkeeper-batsman will hope to continue in the same vein in the title decider as well.

Irfan Pathan claimed a hat-trick against Pakistan in Karachi in 2006(ICC/Twitter)
Irfan Pathan claimed a hat-trick against Pakistan in Karachi in 2006(ICC/Twitter)

Irfan Pathan: Rishabh Pant Has Made Valuable Runs And Helped India Win

During a discussion on Star Sports, former pacer Irfan Pathan lauded keeper Rishabh Pant for drawing everyone’s attention towards Test cricket.

“Rishabh Pant has made us love Test cricket. If we say that, not many people will deny it. Because he has played in a fearless fashion. He does the work that Gilchrist used to do, coming in at no. 7 and changing the course of the game,” said Irfan Pathan.

Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant | Source: Twitter
Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant | Source: Twitter

The former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan highlighted that Rishabh Pant has gone through the grind before securing his place in the Indian team as he displaced Wriddhiman Saha as the No. 1 keeper.

“He has made valuable runs and made the team win. This has not happened easily; the performance was not happening, the captain backed him. Wriddhiman Saha used to be the no. 1 wicketkeeper of the team, and to replace him and make his place, centuries in England and Australia. Outstanding cricketer,” observed Irfan Pathan.

Rishabh Pant is the only Indian wicketkeeper to score a Test century in both England and Australia.

Aakash Chopra: Rishabh Pant Has Bounced Back Very Strongly From Indifferent IPL 2020 At UAE And White Ball Team Axe

Aakash Chopra pointed out that Rishabh Pant was sidelined for the initial part of India’s tour of Australia after an indifferent IPL 2020 campaign. Rishabh Pant was not in the Indian team’s scheme of things for a considerable while as he was dropped from the white-ball Australia tour too.

“He had a middling IPL in the UAE and was not in the white-ball team. He was not in the first Test as well because it was the pink ball that moves more, so it was important to play Wriddhiman Saha.”

The former India opener observed that Rishabh Pant’s short but sweet knock in the Boxing Day Test started tilting the balance in his favour as Wriddhiman Saha was dropped after the Adelaide Test debacle.

“After that, when the team folds for 36, and Kohli and Shami have left, then Rishabh Pant is played to strengthen the batting a little, with Jadeja also playing. There he scored twenty-odd runs in the first innings, but it was crucial as it started to change the momentum.”

Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

While reflecting on Rishabh Pant’s scintillating knocks in Sydney and Brisbane, Aakash Chopra lauded the 23-year-old for staging a fabulous comeback to the team.

“After that knock in Sydney and what he did at the Gabba, you have confidence in your abilities, but you have self-doubt also at times because of which you have seen the change in his game as well. If you are a 22-24 year-old kid, you will have ups and downs in life, and he has seen a lot at a young age. He has bounced back very strongly from it.”

Rishabh Pant’s 97-run knock in the Sydney Test raised the prospect of an unlikely India to win before they had to settle for a draw. However, the left-hander was not to be denied in Brisbane, as he took India to a series-clinching win by scoring an attacking unbeaten innings of 89. The wicketkeeper-batsman has amassed 662 runs in 11 Tests at an average of 41.37 in the WTC cycle.

File image of Alastair Cook. Reuters
File image of Alastair Cook. Reuters
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England Batsmen Can’t Handle Pressure Of Test Cricket, Says Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook, England’s legendary opening batsman delivered a stinging rebuke to the current team’s batsmen by saying they “can’t handle” the pressure of Test cricket as they suffered a humiliating Test series loss to New Zealand at Edgbaston on Sunday.

New Zealand won a two-match Test contest 1-0, taking just 11 overs and 52 minutes playing time on the fourth day to complete a convincing eight-wicket win in the second Test after being set a meager target of 38. Tailender Olly Stone was out to the very first ball of Sunday’s fourth day but by then the damage had already been done, with England resuming on their overnight score of 122/9.

Stand-in skipper Tom Latham is congratulated by the injured Kane Williamson // Getty
Stand-in skipper Tom Latham is congratulated by the injured Kane Williamson // Getty

Alastair Cook: England Batsmen Can’t Handle Intensity Of Test Cricket Under Pressure

New Zealand overpowered England by eight wickets in the second Test at Edgbaston on Sunday as they sealed a 1-0 series win with more than a day to spare. That actually represented a recovery after England had subsided to 76/7 in their second innings inside 27 overs on Saturday.

Although current England skipper Joe Root, Alastair Cook’s successor as England captain, boasts an impressive Test average of 48.68, the next best in his side belongs to opener Rory Burns, with 33.23 — a worrying sign ahead of their bid to regain the Ashes in Australia later this year.

Alastair Cook. Pic/AFP
Alastair Cook. Pic/AFP

Meanwhile, the form of batsmen Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, and Ollie Pope remains a concern, not least to Essex opener Alastair Cook, who retired from Test duty in 2018 as England’s leading scorer with 12,472 runs at an average of 45.35, including 33 hundred. Having only retired in 2018 and while the team contains fresh faces Alastair Cook knows some of the key senior figures better than anyone, including his successor Joe Root.

“From what I’ve seen of this batting line-up when the pressure comes on, the intensity of Test cricket, the scrutiny of it, they can’t handle it,” said Alastair Cook while commentating for BBC Radio’s Test Match Special on Sunday.

“They have quirky techniques, but they’ve scored a lot of runs in county cricket and at times scored Test runs. When the pressure comes, they are not handling the mental pressure that you need to do,” Alastair Cook added.

“It is a massive area of concern for me,” saids Alastair Cook.

New Zealand on Sunday toppled India to become the number one ranked Test team in the world. The Kiwis achieved the feat after defeating England 1-0 in the two-match Test series on Sunday. New Zealand now has 123 points in ICC Team Test Rankings while India has 121 points. Sunday’s defeat, which followed a draw at Lord’s, meant England had lost a home Test series for the first time since a 1-0 reverse against Sri Lanka in 2014.

Joe Root Warns Against Wholesale Changes As He Feels It Would Be The Wrong Time To Panic

But Joe Root, ahead of a five-match Test series at home to India — who face New Zealand in next week’s inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton, warned against wholesale changes.

“It would be the wrong time to start panicking and rip up all the hard work we have done for such a long period of time,” he said. “Historically we’ve done that going into major tournaments and going into major series and it’s made things even worse.”
He added: “We’ve been outplayed in all three departments and particularly batting.”

England entered this match amid the off-field furore caused by the suspension of Ollie Robinson for historic racist and sexist Twitter posts.

Joe Root, however, insisted: “I don’t think that dripped into the way we played and it would be a bit of an excuse, to be honest.”

Ben Stokes, England all-rounder
Ben Stokes, England all-rounder (Photo | AP)

England, already without the injured all-rounder Ben Stokes and pacer Jofra Archer, rested batsman Jos Buttler, all-rounder Chris Woakes, batsman Jonny Bairstow, and spin all-rounder Moeen Ali from this series after their return from the now-suspended IPL 2021. Rest and rotation, initially a response to the pressures of ‘bubble’ life amid the coronavirus pandemic, has been a feature of England’s selection for more than a year.

England coach Chris Silverwood, now in sole charge of picking the side has repeatedly defended the policy. But England, beaten 3-1 in India earlier this year, appear to be nowhere near good enough to avoid selecting their best-available team.

“That’s out of my hands, to a degree,” said Joe Root. “In terms of having our best XI, I’d like to think that if we are all fit and ready, that will be the case for the five-Test matches against India.”

Zak Crawley is having a poor run as he averaged a mere 8.75 against Sri Lanka, 16.75 against India, and 5.25 against New Zealand in the ongoing Test series, but is still being persisted with.
Dominic Sibley’s average hasn’t been above 35 in any of the series against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, and New Zealand. Joe Root managed only 97 runs averaging a mere 24.25 Dominic Sibley managed 103 runs averaging 34.33. Daniel Lawrence managed 81 runs averaging 40.5. Rory Burns managed 238 runs averaging 59.5.
Yuvraj Singh. (Photo by Marty Melville/Getty Images)
Yuvraj Singh. (Photo by Marty Melville/Getty Images)
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New Zealand Will Have An Edge As Lack Of Test Cricket Can Hurt India: Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj Singh, a former Indian all-rounder who played only 40 Tests for the country and amassed 1,900 runs, feels it will be Kane Williamson & Co. who will have an edge in the English conditions.

The whole of the cricketing fraternity is eagerly awaiting the ICC World Test Championship final (WTC). Virat Kohli-led Team India and Kane Williamson’s New Zealand, the top-two ranked Test sides respectively, will square off against each other in the summit clash with an aim to win the first-ever WTC.

Yuvraj Singh | Oli Scarff/AFP
Yuvraj Singh | Oli Scarff/AFP

Yuvraj Singh Feels 3 Tests Will Be Ideal And New Zealand Will Have An Edge

Ahead of the marquee encounter — which is to be held at The Rose Bowl, Southampton from June 18-22 — many former cricketers, experts, and pundits of the cricket fraternity have already opined on which side will have an edge over the other.

Ravi Shastri. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Ravi Shastri. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Yuvraj Singh also agreed with the likes of Indian team head coach Ravi Shastri and Ravichandran Ashwin that the WTC final should ideally be a best of three affairs.

In a conversation with Sports Tak, Yuvraj Singh said, “I feel in a situation like this, there should be a best of 3 Tests, because if you lose the first one then you can come back in the next two. India will have a slight disadvantage because New Zealand are already playing Test cricket in England.”

Yuvraj Singh further opined, “There are 8-10 practice sessions (for Team India) but there’s no substitute for match-practice. It will be an even contest but New Zealand will have an edge. I do believe India is very strong because lately, we have been winning outside the country. I think our batting is stronger, in bowling they are at par.

Prior to the team’s departure for the United Kingdom, Shastri and captain Kohli had addressed the media where the former had said, “Ideally, in the long run, if they want to pursue with the Test championship, a best-of-three final would be ideal — a three-match final as the culmination of two and a half years of cricket around the globe. Best of three would have been ideal,” he maintained.

New Zealand Drew With England In The 1st Test

England 275 (Burns 132, Southee 6-43) and 170 for 3 (Sibley 60*, Wagner 2-27) drew with New Zealand 378 (Conway 200, Nicholls 61, Robinson 4-75) and 169 for 6 decl. (Latham 36, Robinson 3-26)
Tim Southee
Tim Southee
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Tim Southee Loves Test Cricket Since It Gets His Blood Boiling

Tim Southee, veteran New Zealand seamer revealed he loves Test cricket more compared to other formats, adding that it gets the best out of him as it gets his ‘blood boiling’. The Kiwi bowler also spoke about the prospect of facing India in the first-ever World Test Championship final.

New Zealand has taken off for England, and they will start their quarantine soon in preparation for the upcoming two-match Test series against the Three Lions. However, all eyes will be on Southampton at the Rose Bowl when the Blackcaps face off against India in the World Test Championship final on June 18.

New Zealand’s Tim Southee (AP Photo/Ross Setford)
New Zealand’s Tim Southee (AP Photo/Ross Setford)

Tim Southee Loves His Treasured Format Test Cricket Which Gets The Blood Boiling

The New Zealand men’s cricket team departed for England on Saturday night to play a two-Test series, followed by the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final against the Virat Kohli-captained India from June 18 onwards. While the Black Caps will play the first Test against the hosts from June 2 in London, the second Test will commence in Birmingham on June 10.

“I love test cricket. For me it’s my most treasured format. I love all three, but test cricket is something that really gets the blood boiling. Being the first [World Test Championship final] it will be pretty special as well. India in England is unusual on its own, but it’s great to test yourself against one of the best sides and they have been for a long period of time. It should be a great match,” Tim Southee said in an interview with stuff.co.nz.

BJ Watling, IND vs NZ, WTC final
This will be the last tour for New Zealand’s wicketkeeper-batsman, 35-year-old BJ Watling. Image Source: GETTY IMAGES

Tim Southee also jokingly remarked how the current crop of New Zealand players had got it easy compared to when he started his international cricket journey. The bowler debuted in 2008 as a 19-year-old and won just once in his first 14 Tests. However, things are changing, and the Kiwis have won 9 of their last 11 Test series.

“Ross [Taylor] and I quite often laugh about it because it took so long to have those wins. Guys are coming in and Kyle [Jamieson] has won six test matches already and hasn’t lost a test match,” Southee remarked.

This will be the last tour for Kiwi wicketkeeper-batsman, 35-year-old BJ Watling, who recently announced that he was retiring from competitive cricket. He represented New Zealand so far in 73 Tests, 28 ODIs, and five T20Is.

Tim Southee Thinks Age Is Only A Number And One Should Continue Playing Tests As Long As One Is Still Able To Perform And Reach High Standards

The 32-year-old believes as long as he can maintain the requisite fitness standards, age is just a number and he can continue playing international cricket at the top level. Tim Southee also talked about how players take better care of their bodies in the modern-day, which is undoubtedly helping them elongate their careers.

“As long as you’re still able to perform and reach those high standards it takes to represent your country then I think age is only a number. You look at the likes of [England test veteran] James Anderson who is 38. He’s still arguably bowling as good as he ever has. hink cricketers in general look after themselves a lot better. We’re a lot fitter as a group, we train a lot on the strength and conditioning side of things. I think you’ll see players play for longer,” Tim Southee added.

Tim Southee
Tim Southee becomes third New Zealand bowler to pick 300 Test wickets, Black Caps Twitter

The seamer is still going strong in Test cricket and he has the fourth-most wickets in the longest format since 2019 (65 wickets from 14 matches). Only Pat Cummins, Stuart Broad, and Ravichandran Ashwin have taken more scalps in that time period.

Tim Southee has 302 wickets in 77 Tests averaging 28.71 besides having 190 scalps in 143 ODIs and 99 scalps in 82 T20Is. He has also picked 28 wickets in 40 IPL games having played his last match in 2019.

In the 2011 World Cup, he scalped 18 wickets at an excellent average of 17.33  which showed ample proof of his ability to adapt to sub-continental conditions. He also shone during the 2015 World Cup where New Zealand made their first-ever appearance in a final. His career-best spell of 7/33 came in World Cup 2015 where Tim Southee destroyed England’s batting line-up with his lethal spell with the new ball.

Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma
Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma
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Rohit Sharma Jumps Six Places To Achieve Career-Best 8th Position In Test Cricket

Rohit Sharma, Indian opener has progressed six places to attain a career-best eighth position in the ICC Men’s Test Player Rankings after a fine performance in the low-scoring third Test against England in Ahmedabad that the home side won by 10 wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.

Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin have also made rapid strides while England’s Joe Root and Jack Leach also have moved up after shining with the ball in Ahmedabad.

Rohit Sharma climbed six places after the third Test against England BCCI
Rohit Sharma climbed six places after the third Test against England BCCI

Rohit Sharma Scores 66 And 25* After 161 In 2nd Test At Chennai

Rohit Sharma top-scored in the first innings with 66 and remained unbeaten on 25 in the second to move ahead of compatriot Cheteshwar Pujara among others. His rating points aggregate is 742, 20 more than his best of 722 in October 2019 when he was ranked 10th.

Cheteshwar Pujara
India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara (File | PTI)

Rohit Sharma’s sublime form made sure that he leapfrogs six places to move to the eighth position, while Cheteshwar Pujara has slipped to the tenth position. Rohit Sharma was the top scorer in both the last Tests after scoring 161 and 26 at Chennai in the 2nd Test. He didn’t play the limited over games and first 2 Tests of the Australian tour for being sidelined due to a hamstring injury suffered during IPL 2020.

Axar Patel Reaches 38th Position And Ravichandran Ashwin Is At 3rd Spot

Spinners Axar Patel, the Man of Match in the 3rd Test, and Ravichandran Ashwin have also made solid gains after helping carve out a crucial win that helped India remain in contention for the ICC World Test Championship final.

In bowling rankings, Ravichandran Ashwin has moved four spots and he now sits at the third spot in the Test rankings. Left-arm spinner Axar Patel’s 11-wicket match haul has helped him gain 30 slots to reach the 38th position while off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who took seven wickets has moved up four places to the third position.

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

England spinner Jack Leach has entered the top 30 for the first time, as he moved up three places to 28th after taking four scalps. Captain Joe Root’s maiden five-wicket haul in Tests has lifted him 16 places to 72nd among bowlers while he is now joint-13th among all-rounders. Opener Zak Crawley who top-scored with 53 in the first innings advanced 15 places to 46th in what was the only notable gain for any of England’s batsmen.

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson is currently ranked as the number one Test batsmen while Australian pacer Pat Cummins heads the bowling rankings. Indian skipper Virat Kohli is at the fifth spot in the batting rankings, while Cheteshwar Pujara has slipped to the tenth spot.

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