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Asghar Afghan to retire from all formats after T20 World Cup game against Namibia

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If selected, he will finish with 75 T20I appearances, to go with six Tests and 114 ODIs

Asghar Afghan, the 33-year-old former Afghanistan captain who is a part of his country’s squad at the ongoing T20 World Cup, has announced his decision to retire from all formats of the game at the end of their fixture against Namibia on Sunday. The Afghanistan Cricket Board has accepted it, saying that it “welcomes and respects his decision” and “expresses gratitudes for his services to the country”.

Asghar – earlier Asghar Stanikzai – didn’t get a chance to bat in Afghanistan’s 130-run win over Scotland in their first Super 12s match at the T20 World Cup and scored 10 in seven balls in the defeat against Pakistan. That was his 74th appearance in a T20I, in which he has scored 1351 runs at an average of 21.79 and strike rate of 110.37.

Having started his international career in 2009 with an ODI against Scotland in Benoni in a World Cup qualifying game, Asghar scored 2424 runs in 114 ODIs at an average of 24.73 and a strike rate of 66.77.
He was Afghanistan’s captain in their inaugural Test match, against India in Bengaluru in 2018 and played six Tests, scoring 440 runs at 44.00.

A part of the Afghanistan Under-17 back in 2004, he represented his country at the senior level later that year, in Asian Cricket Council tournaments, and then became a regular part of the national team, playing the World Cricket League lower divisions in 2008-09.

Arguably a better captain than a batter, who led his team up the ICC ladder in tricky times, Asghar led Afghanistan in 59 of his 114 ODIs, and 52 of his 74 T20Is. In fact, he holds the record for the most wins as captain in T20Is: Afghanistan won 42 games in the format under him, with nine losses and one tie, while India won 41 under MS Dhoni, to go with 28 losses, one tie and two no-results.
His role as a leader, however, has been a bit up and down of late. In May 2019, the Afghanistan board had taken the all-format captaincy away from Asghar and put in place a three-way captaincy formula, with Rahmat Shah (Tests), Gulbadin Naib (ODIs) and Rashid Khan (T20Is) taking charge. But three months later, after the 2019 ODI World Cup, Naib was sacked – as was Rahmat – and replaced by Rashid across formats. Just months later, in December, Asghar was brought back, again across all formats, for one more stint.





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Travis Head wins the race to be Australia's No. 5 in the Ashes

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Mitchell Starc will complete the fast-bowling trio alongside Josh Hazlewood and captain Pat Cummins



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Mithali Raj – We have had ‘good preparation’ for 2022 World Cup by playing SA, England, Australia this year

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“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good,” she says

India Women are scheduled to play only one ODI series – against New Zealand – before the World Cup early next year but captain Mithali Raj feels the team has had “good preparation” so far in 2021.
This year, India hosted South Africa for five ODIs before playing a three-match series in England and Australia each. They lost all three series but made Australia, the No. 1 team, work really hard for their 2-1 win and also ended their 26-match winning streak in the third ODI there.

India will play World Cup hosts New Zealand for five ODIs before the World Cup in March-April.

“We have played three best teams since March and it has given us good preparation,” Raj said after a partnership between KFC and Indian Deaf Cricket Association in Delhi on Wednesday. “Players have played domestic cricket and also in the Women’s Big Bash so they are getting game time which is the most important thing.

“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good.”

India, who were unable to post 250-plus scores regularly earlier, did that twice in the Australia series and chased down 265 in the final ODI.

“When you play against a strong team in its backyard you try to give your best,” Raj said. “Though we lost the series, the matches were very close. We scored 270 (274) and chased 270-odd, if we can do that consistently we will be among the best sides in world cricket.”

India’s middle-order batting needs improvement but Raj said all departments must fire as a unit if they are to win the World Cup.

“We bat as a unit so you can’t pinpoint one area,” she said. “There are times when the top order failed and the others performed. As a unit if we look to post a good total then it will help. If we focus on one area like middle order then it becomes too much of a burden for that particular slot.”

India finished runners-up in the 2017 World Cup in England when not many expected them to but expectations will be higher this time.

“There were not enough expectations back then,” Raj said. “Now in 2021, players have got experience and got a lot of exposure with the T20 leagues. Overall we have young players but they have got enough exposure. It is just of matter of gelling well as a team.

“Every match will be different there. The quicker we read our opponents the better it will be for us.”



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The Ashes 2021-22 – Michael Vaughan stood down from BT Sport Ashes coverage after Azeem Rafiq allegations

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Channel to adopt a “hybrid” approach with Vaughan’s stints on Fox Sports to be overlaid

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, will not be heard by UK audiences during this winter’s Ashes in Australia, after BT Sport followed the BBC’s decision to remove him from their TV coverage of the series.

Vaughan, 47, was last week stood down from BBC Test Match Special’s coverage for “editorial” reasons, following allegations from Azeem Rafiq, the former Yorkshire cricketer, that he had said “there are too many of you lot” following the selection of four players of Asian heritage in a county fixture in 2009.

Vaughan, who denies the allegations, apologised last week in an interview on BBC Breakfast for the “hurt” caused to Rafiq during his time as a player at Yorkshire, and will still be involved in this winter’s Ashes coverage through his commentary role with Fox Sports, the Australian host broadcaster.

However, BT Sport – who are due to take the Fox Sports feed after choosing not to send a bespoke commentary team to Australia – announced on Tuesday that they will be taking a “hybrid” approach to their coverage, with Vaughan’s on-air stints to be overlaid with studio analysis.

“As a result of Covid and travel restrictions BT Sport had made the decision to take our commentary feed from the Australian host broadcaster,” the channel said in a statement. “The recent report presented to UK Parliament uncovering institutional racism within cricket and specifically Yorkshire County Cricket Club is extremely disappointing and a concern for all.

“Given these recent events and the controversy with the situation we have taken the decision that including Michael Vaughan within our Ashes coverage would not be editorially appropriate or fit with BT Sport’s values. We are still finalising plans but we are assessing the option of taking a hybrid approach, using Fox commentary where possible with the aim of putting our own commentary team in place if necessary.”

Vaughan’s troubled build-up to the series continued on Tuesday, when he announced on Twitter that his arrival in Australia had been delayed by a week due to a positive Covid test. “[It] is frustrating,” he wrote. “But at least I’ll avoid the rain in Brisbane for a few days!”

However, his hopes of being retained by the BBC after the Ashes have received a boost, after the corporation confirmed that they had been in “regular contact” with Vaughan since his suspension, and had held “positive conversations with him in recent days”.

“Our contributors are required to talk about relevant issues, so Michael’s involvement in a story of such significance means it’s not possible for him to be part of our Ashes coverage or wider cricket coverage at the moment,” the statement added. “We’re pleased with how our conversations are going and expect to work with Michael again in the future. He remains on contract to the BBC.”

The BBC’s stance was criticised this week by his former England team-mate Monty Panesar, who wrote in a column in the Daily Telegraph: “This feels deeply unethical — a classic case of someone being tried and convicted without any form of due process being undertaken.”



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