England v Pakistan, Twenty20, Bristol August 27, 2006

Time to get back to the day job



Stuart Broad will have his first taste of international cricket after an impressive season © Getty Images
After a week where the focus shifted dramatically from action on the field to action off it, England and Pakistan will face each other for the first since The Oval Test in Monday's Twenty20 International at Bristol.

In the aftermath of the events of the final Test this match, and the following five one-day internationals, were in serious doubt, so much so that the ECB put plans in place to play an International XI if Pakistan withdrew from the tour.

However, following the Darrell Hair revelations the hearing into Inzamam-ul-Haq's charges has been moved to the end of September. Although Pakistan still have the events of last weekend hanging over their heads they have vowed to move on with the rest of the tour.

Andrew Strauss told Sky Sports News: "We're looking forward to getting cricket back in the headlines for the right reasons. If we are going to do that, it means we're going to have to win these games.

"The most important thing is for people to see good cricket being played, to see good, tight games and then hopefully the attention will be turned back to the good parts of cricket rather than what's just happened."

Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan coach, added similar comments: "We want to play cricket, entertain everyone as much as we can and win this series. We are looking forward to the cricket and getting everything else that's happened over the past week out of the way.

"What's happened in the past week has not been good for cricket. We just want to leave that alone now and get on with the rest of the tour. All the players want to do is forget what has happened. We think that is possible."

England will be aiming for a vast improvement from the first one-day portion of their summer, when they went down in the Twenty20 against Sri Lanka before being crushed 5-0 in the ODIs. That squad was full of experimentation, and so is the selectors' latest effort at finding the right balance for England's limited overs game.

Stuart Broad and Michael Yardy have earned their first taste of international cricket after impressive domestic seasons, and Yardy arrives on the back of Sussex's C&G triumph over Lancashire. For Broad, it was only a question of 'when' and not 'if' he would be selected after topping the economy tables in the domestic Twenty20 competition and impressing everyone who has watched him.

At the other end of the age spectrum is the grand old-timer, Darren Gough, who has talked a good game all season and now gets the chance to push his claims for a World Cup spot. He is 36, has suffered sore shins in recent weeks, and isn't the liveliest in the field, but England's one-day efforts have been so woeful he is back by default.

Pakistan will provide a stern challenge and under normal circumstances they would be clear favourites. But the last week has been anything but normal and it is still to be seen how much they really want to be here.

Shoaib Akhtar is back after recovering from his ankle injury while Mohammad Asif showed his ability during the final Test. When you include Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and the explosive all round talents of Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi and the fit-again Shoaib Malik they are a formidable outfit. And that doesn't even touch on the top-order batting.

Whatever happens on the field for the remainder of the tour the extraordinary developments of the last seven days will still dominate. But for the two sets of players this is the start of the last serious cricket before the Champions Trophy and there are places up for grabs and trophies to win.

England (from) Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Michael Yardy, Ed Joyce, Rikki Clarke, Jamie Dalrymple, Chris Read (wk), Stuart Broad, Sajid Mahmood, Darren Gough, Steve Harmison, Jon Lewis

Pakistan (from) Imran Farhat, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Shahid Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wk), Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneira, Rao Iftikhar

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo

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