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Mickey Arthur set to become Sri Lanka head coach

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Mickey Arthur is set to take over as Sri Lanka’s head coach. SLC has agreed a two-year contract with Arthur, the former South Africa, Australia and Pakistan coach, with a formal announcement to be made shortly. Joining his backroom staff will be Grant Flower as batting coach, David Saker as bowling coach, and Shane McDermott as fielding coach, in what is a complete overhaul of the team’s coaching setup.

“They will all be joining on two-year contracts,” SLC CEO Ashley De Silva confirmed.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Flower will only work with Sri Lanka’s white-ball teams, and will not travel to Pakistan for the two-match Test series later this month.

Arthur is the 11th head coach of the Sri Lanka men’s team in the last eight years, and his first challenge will be a return to Pakistan where he had been head coach from 2016 until the end of this year’s ODI World Cup in July. It is understood interim head coach Rumesh Ratnayake will also be on tour to help with the transition.

Pakistan removed Arthur as head coach earlier this year, following a string of poor results, but the team also achieved some notable highs during his tenure, including winning the 2017 Champions Trophy and gaining the No. 1 ranking in Tests, briefly, and in T20Is.

Flower joins Arthur’s backroom staff having vacated the head coach role at Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) side Rangpur Rangers. Flower has a good working relationship with Arthur, having worked with him as Pakistan’s batting coach before he too was let go earlier this year.

Saker has worked as bowling coach for both England and Australia over the last ten years, before he took up the role of bowling coach with USA earlier this year – one he has now left.

McDermott was the first of the four new appointments to have come on board, with SLC securing his contract earlier this month on the recommendation of Cricket Australia. He had earlier served as the South Australia Cricket Association’s high-performance coach.

Despite the new appointments, however, previous Sri Lanka head coach Chandika Hathurusingha remains under contract with SLC.



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PCB: Saleem Malik’s response unsatisfactory and irrelevant

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Saleem Malik‘s ongoing quest to be reintegrated into Pakistan cricket has been pushed back once again by the PCB. The board believes Malik hasn’t again responded satisfactorily to the contents of a conversation 20 years ago in which he talked about fixing cricket matches.

While Malik insists he had submitted a response last month to the board regarding a sting operation by an English tabloid 20 years ago, the PCB does not believe his response appropriately addresses the matter.

After the Qayyum report was released in 2000 – in which Malik was banned for life – the now-defunct newspaper News of the World released a video in which Malik was allegedly caught offering to potentially corrupt players and games in exchange for money.

The reporter involved in the sting – Mazher Mahmood – was the same as the one that carried out the 2010 Lord’s spot-fixing operation. The revelations and allegations arising from the sting were not part of the Justice Qayyum inquiry; that inquiry took place in the year before this story and the report had been made public days before the sting.

While Malik remained out of the fold for a number of years, he has recently begun to appeal to the PCB to reintegrate him, and made himself available for coaching or mentoring roles. The PCB, however, remain adamant that will not be possible until Malik has substantively dealt with the questions that the sting raised.

Malik submitted his response in June, but the PCB’s statement on Friday makes clear they are not satisfied with its contents. ESPNcricinfo understands the board believes the response to be irrelevant to the issue at hand. “In the backdrop of the above, the PCB will be unable to proceed any further until such time you respond on the said matter,” the statement said.

Malik’s cricketing career was ultimately sullied by match-fixing scandals. In a judicial inquiry that began in 1998 and continued for 13 months, he was found guilty of bribing Australian cricketers Shane Warne and Mark Waugh to lose the 1994-95 Karachi Test. Malik was fined Rs 1 million and banned for life in 2000, but eight years later his sentence was overturned by a Lahore sessions court, allowing him theoretically to return to the fold. However, today’s statement from the PCB makes clear little progress has been made between the two parties since Malik began his latest attempt to completely rehabilitate himself.

The PCB accused the former captain of “denial and avoidance” with respect to the transcripts, and referred to an apology he had made in 2014 in which he appeared to “accept my wrongdoing, apologise to the fans and start my rehabilitation process”.

The PCB also addressed Danish Kaneria‘s recent appeals for rehabilitation. The legspinner was banned for life in 2012 by the ECB after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of corruption after a stint in county cricket in the UK, implicated during fellow player Mervyn Westfield’s criminal trial. The board told the player he was appealing to the wrong party, and was advised to approach the ECB, the board that had banned him in the first place.

“You were banned for life by the ECB’s Cricket Discipline Commission after it was established that you had ‘knowingly induced or encouraged Mervyn Westfield not to perform on his merits in the Durham match'” the statement said. “You subsequently challenged the decision before the Appeal Panel of the Cricket Disciplinary Commission, which was upheld. Then, you appealed before a commercial bench of the High Court in London, which was dismissed. Then, you appealed before the Court of Appeal (Civil Division), which was rejected. The PCB’s rehabilitation programme is offered to players upon conclusion of the respective periods of ineligibility and not for players who are serving life bans.”



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First-class counties to compete for Bob Willis Trophy

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First-class counties in the UK will compete for the Bob Willis Trophy in a four-day competition as part of a shortened 2020 domestic season, the ECB has confirmed.

The ECB said on Friday that all 18 first-class counties had agreed to play in the same competitive red- and white-ball competitions, following a delayed start to the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As reported by ESPNcricinfo in May, the four-day competition will feature three regional groups of six teams who will each contest five first-class games with a five-day final expected to be played at Lord’s. The winner will claim the Bob Willis trophy, named after the former England captain who died in December. A shortened Vitality Blast competition will begin on August 27.

ALSO READ: County Championship could include Lord’s final with hopes for August start

Neil Snowball, ECB managing director of county cricket, said in a statement on Friday that the counties had “been united with a common goal to get back to our core function of playing cricket”.

“The commitment of the chairs and chief executives of the first-class counties to work together to achieve that ambition has been resolute and we will remain in close discussion as we continue to assess risk factors that need to be mitigated in order to ensure the safety and welfare of their players, coaches and staff,” Snowball said.

“We are all delighted that agreement has been reached across the game and we are now in a position to look forward to and prepare for a new men’s domestic season starting on 1 August.”

ESPNcricinfo understands that the counties voted by a narrow margin to play first-class and T20 cricket in the abbreviated season while some, including Hampshire, held safety concerns about hotel stays and voted to start the season with a 50-over competition and not play first-class cricket in 2020.

Venues would contact ticket holders for men’s domestic matches and first-class county members to inform them of the options available to them after a new fixture schedule has been announced, the ECB said.



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Stuart Broad ‘frustrated’ and ‘angry’ at being left out of England side for first Test

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Stuart Broad has described himself as “frustrated” and “angry” at having been left out of England’s side for the first Test of the series against West Indies.

Broad, the second highest wicket-taker in England’s Test history, said he found the decision “difficult to understand” and suggested he had sought clarification on his future from Ed Smith, the national selector.

“I’m not a particularly emotional person but I’ve found the last couple of days quite tough,” Broad told Sky Sports shortly before play resumed on the third day. “To say I was disappointed would be an understatement; you’re disappointed if you drop your phone and the screen breaks.

“I’m frustrated, angry and gutted. It’s difficult to understand. I’ve probably bowled the best I’ve ever bowled the last couple of years, I felt it was my shirt. I was in the team for the Ashes and going to South Africa and winning there.”

ALSO READ: Broad’s stock rises in lone spectator role

Broad was England’s leading wicket-taker in their previous Test series – he claimed 14 wickets at a cost of 19.42 apiece in South Africa – and in the Ashes series of 2019, when he claimed 23 wickets at 26.65.

“I spoke to Ed Smith [the national selector] last night, he said he was involved in picking the 13 and this side was picked purely for this pitch,” Broad continued. “I wanted clarification on my the future going forward and I was given pretty positive feedback going forward.

“So yes, I was frustrated in the fact that I felt like I deserved a spot in the team.”

ALSO READ: Broad faces axe as England ponder Wood and Archer for first Test

Despite that frustration, Broad accepted the bowlers picked in front of him also deserved their places and accepted that the current competition for places was probably a healthy thing for England.

“You can’t argue the bowlers walking on that field don’t deserve to play,” Broad said. “Everyone deserves to play. Chris Woakes, Sam Curran were bowling really well and probably deserve to be in the XI. It’s just annoying when it’s not you that’s in that XI. Very rarely do you get guys fit and available for each Test match. That’s where selection has been tricky.

“It’s great to see strength and depth in the fast bowling ranks. It’s the only way that England cricket moves forward and gets better. And with high competition in squads it keeps the standard high. Everyone is under pressure for their spots.”

Broad’s omission broke a run of 51 consecutive home Tests dating back to 2012.



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