Currently Rain Clouds over Birmingham

August 2, 2016 | By

This piece begins with a fervent prayer for the early and complete recovery from his illness of Hanif Mohammad the greatest opening batsman ever. May Allah Grant him health.

Since the end of the Old Trafford Test Match when England levelled the current Test series against Pakistan in a majestic triumph by 330 runs, I moved away a little from cricket.

I decided to take a vacation in Scotland which I had never visited before. It is another country. The landscape is breathtaking, the buildings seeped in history, the people hospitable and friendly, and the sea food particularly the salmon when cooked with expertise is simply “scrumptious”.

The weather was crisp and cool but it can get bitterly cold in winter. The Scots are more into soccer than cricket. They still pride themselves in having hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The signs are still there. The lush green fields for playing “bowls” which if you remember your British history was what Sir Francis Drake the Admiral of Queen Elizabeth I was doing when the Spanish Armada was sighted. The movement for Scotland’s independence is still a force to reckon. I witnessed a large rally (disciplined and peaceful) on Saturday in George’s Square. A referendum may be on the cards again.

The top news and views currently deal with the conditions in Rio de Janeiro where the 2016 Olympics will kick off in a few days’ time. The accommodation arrangements in the Olympic Village are so below standard that the English contingent have contracted the services of a plumbing company to ensure that the toilets do not get blocked!! Then the fear of the Zika virus has forced some participants to keep away. Rory McIlroy the ace golfer being the main player to pull out. The fate of the Russian participants still hangs in the balance over the doping controversy.

Football (soccer) has been in the news. Sam Allardyce has hogged the headlines. He has been signed on as the new England Football Manager. And talking of Football, 30th July 2016 was the 50th anniversary of England winning the Football World Cup on July 30, 1966 defeating Germany 4-2. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was in my final year at University and because England were hosting (and secretly hoping to win the title) my friends introduced me to the finer points of soccer and we watched the World Cup with enthusiasm.  Moore, Best, the Charlton Brothers, Best, and of course Geoff Hurst who scored three goals for England are still household names.

Others whom I remember are Brazillian wizard Pele (who I think was injured early in the tournament), Eusabio the wonder boy from Portugal, and the Germans Uwe Zehler and Franz Beckenbauer to name a few. English fans are re living those great moments. But being a cricket enthusiast I could not keep away from “my” game. I have not paid much attention to a lot of song and dance about the ECB having drawn up a radical plan for a city-based Twenty20 league to rival the best in the cricketing world. County cricket will be overhauled by 2018.

The Twenty20 games will be played at Wembley and the Olympic Stadium. The counties are sharpening their weapons and drawing up battle plans to fight this Twenty20 revolution in cricket being contemplated by the ECB. The Daily Telegraph has termed it “Cricket’s Civil War.”

I kept track of Pakistan’s useful batting practice in their two day non first class match against Worcestershire. It was useful as it gave Azhar Ali and Shan Masood an opportunity to regain some of their waning confidence. The bowlers who did not feature in the Lord’s and Old Trafford Tests Imran, Sohail and Zulfiqar did nothing of note to enhance their chances of being called up for the Edgbaston Test taking a wicket each as did Wahab. Rahat again was outstanding with two scalps. It will depend on the condition of the pitch and the weather to see what combination the Pakistan Tour Selectors pick in the final XI.A new opening partner will be required for Hafeez although Shan should not be jettisoned. For Younus and Azhar suffice it to say “Class is permanent; form is temporary.”

England, on the other hand, have shown their hand by announcing their squad without of course the injured Stokes. Ball, Finn and Rashid are all back. Two out of these three will not be in the final XI. The batting shows no youngsters and Vince, Balance and Hales have all been given another reprieve. This means no “blooding” budding youngsters like Jack Burnham, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Haseeb Hameed, Joe Clarke, Ben Duckett, Tom Westley, Tom Abell, Nick Browne.

But wait a little more and you will hear more of some if not all of them. What the final line up will be depends again on the pitch and conditions. I have a sneaky suspicion that the ground staff may have been “instructed” to leave a little bit of greenery on the 22 yards so England will go in with the pace quartet and Moeen Ali.

Moeen and the England batsmen seem to have benefited tremendously from the one week of crash course given by Saqlain Mushtaq. England it is reported are negotiating a longer assignment contract with Saqlain ahead of their tours of the sub continent. It should be noted that none of the counties employ oversea spinners in their championship squads except Warwickshire who have the services of Jeetan Patel and he has a tally of 146 wickets at 26 apiece. So there must be something in the Edgbaston track for the spinners. After Old Trafford the figures of Moeen Ali are being compared with those of Yasir Shah – Moeen has 7 wickets at 32 per wicket while Yasir has 11 scalps at 37 apiece.

Statistics they say can be oh so misleading. But Misbah’s trump card will still be Yasir Shah; Misbah may not have forgotten the role of spinners in the 2013 Champions Trophy.  Root has been the toast of all England cricket writers, analysts, ex- players and the common man. His life story, including interviews of his parents and brother have appeared in almost all the leading newspapers here.

He has been compared to Kumar Sangakkara as perhaps the best one down batsman ever. Joe Root fully deserves all the accolades and the praises and publicity. He was majestically brilliant, regally entertaining and clinically precise in his innings of 254. As an ardent cricket fan I would go a long way to watch him (and I have watched many in the past half a century) and others like him bat. What I am trying to say is that it is not only in our region that we go overboard it is everywhere around the world.

The weather in Birmingham at the time that this report is being filed just before midnight on 1st August 2016 is wet. It has rained earlier but hopefully it will brighten up before the start of the 3rd Test Match.

Chishty Mujahid

Chishty Mujahid is an author at ScoreLine and has written numerous articles published at

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