Flower surprise, Morgan senior and white rose recovery

Some of the globe’s leading players have already been sounded out about featuring for a World XI in the bid to return Test and one-day international cricket to Pakistan within the next 12 months. England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke, the head of the International Cricket Council’s Pakistan task team, boldly went public with his commitment to the invitational series in August. However, England’s players will naturally have reservations about such a venture following the spot-fixing saga and match-fixing slurs against them – the latter later withdrawn by Pakistan’s Ijaz Butt – which plunged on-field relations between the countries to a new low. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s leading men will understandably be reluctant about returning, having come under fire from gunmen in Lahore in March 2009. That was the last month in which Pakistan hosted international action and despite Clarke’s commendable comradeship and determination that terrorism should not be the victor, persuading others to get on board might be his toughest challenge in cricket administration yet.

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England coach Andy Flower might get a shock when he gets around to reading his recently-purchased copy of The Last Resort, a personal account of the social breakdown and struggle for survival in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe’s tumultuous regime. Not at the harrowing accounts of life in his homeland but the assertion by author Douglas Rogers – they were team-mates at provincial age group levels – that he was the superior cricketer when they flew over to Britain for club stints in 1987. Having witnessed several Rogers innings for Birmingham League club Water Orton, I can vouch for his quality. Let’s just say he is a fine writer and journalist. Flower, meanwhile, went on to average 51.54 in a 63-Test career.

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Great to see prominent Irishmen at the forefront of Irish cricket once more. Thankfully the International Cricket Council made the correct decision in verifying Ed Joyce’s availability for February’s World Cup – after he revoked his eligibility for England – while the Morgan family are also giving something back to Cricket Ireland. Not Ashes squad member Eoin but his father Jody, who has been named as the inaugural president of the newly-formed Connacht Cricket Union, the fifth Irish province to commit to the sport and one famed for its Gaelic games. Morgan junior, of course, owes his propeller wrists to his formative years on the curling field.

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The Performance Programme squad head Down Under this week with one notable absentee from last winter’s intake dispatched to South Africa. Yorkshire batsman Joe Sayers’ health has not been the same since contracting a severe bout of food poisoning in Pretoria last December. But thankfully the 27-year-old is returning to health following the disabling effects of Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome –  recuperation aided by a 10-day honeymoon in Mauritius with wife Lisa last month. October was a cause for double celebration, in fact, with the likeable Sayers signing a new two-year deal at Headingley. Even at this early stage, however, he is unlikely to be fit for the start of the 2011 season.

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