Of course, age does not matter when it comes to playing international cricket – and Naseem is clearly a talent, as he demonstrated by clocking more than 147km/h in his first over on Friday and then having David Warner caught behind, only for the dismissal to be overturned because he had overstepped.
But Pakistan Cricket Board CEO Wasim Khan, who is in Brisbane, told The Tonk that suggestions he was older than 16 were “absolute rubbish”. “You only need to look at his face,” he said. “He’s hardly got any growth on his face. In terms of that, people question it no doubt, just because of his age and the fact that he’s a mature lad and the fact he’s playing international cricket at this age. But the bottom line is he’s 16 years old and he’s playing. We don’t really care what India think.”
Punchline on the nose
How soon is too soon? It’s a question Kevin Roberts might have been asking himself after comedian Mick Molloy headbutted the line, to use some pre-Cape Town Australian team parlance, in a skit on Channel 7 featuring the CA chief. Posing as a wannabe selector interviewing for the vacant job on the Australian panel, Molloy asked Roberts: “What are your thoughts on the reverse sweep?” Roberts replied: “We need more of it”. Molloy fired back: “I’d like to ban it. It’s cricket’s version of the broomstick putter as far as I’m concerned, tantamount to cheating. Not that that goes on at Test level…”
Pink ball in India’s court
As Virat Kohli likened the pink ball to a hockey ball, Roberts said he hoped India’s foray into day-night Test cricket at Eden Gardens, in a match against Bangladesh starting on Friday, was a sign of things to come next summer in Australia.
The match was shaping as a spectacle, with the 67,000-seat venue reportedly sold out for the first four days. The schedule for the next Australian summer is still six months off being announced, with the two big questions being whether Brisbane or Perth will be awarded one of the four Tests against India – the additional Test of 2020-21 being against Afghanistan – and whether India will agree to a pink-ball match or two. “We’re having productive conversations with India about the prospect of us playing day-night Tests against us in future,” Roberts told SEN. “Let’s hope this week’s experience in Kolkata is a really powerful one for them. We’ll work through this over the next few months.”
Reunion for Test rescue squad
The second day of the first Test marked two decades to the day since Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist’s rescue mission in Hobart was completed, and they could stage a reunion, with many players from that match against Pakistan at Bellerive Oval being in Brisbane. There are nine in total at the Gabba, in either coaching or commentary capacities: Langer, Gilchrist, Michael Slater, Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Damien Fleming, Glenn McGrath, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. “I can’t believe it’s been 20 years,” Langer told the ABC. “I just saw Gilly. That’s the great thing about Test cricket. I get to see all my mates.”
Chris Barrett is Sports Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.