Heinz to make England debut in Wales warm-up opener

England’s Willi Heinz during a training session in Bagshot. (Reuters)
Updated 09 August 2019

Heinz to make England debut in Wales warm-up opener

BAGSHOT: Gloucester scrum-half Willi Heinz was handed a chance to force his way into England’s World Cup squad after being given a Test debut in the starting side to play Wales at Twickenham on Sunday.

The 32-year-old Heinz, born in Christchurch, New Zealand, has also been selected as vice-captain for this weekend’s match against Grand Slam champions Wales, a fixture that takes place just a day before coach Eddie Jones names his 31-man World Cup squad for Japan 2019.

Fly-half George Ford will captain the team in the first of England’s four World Cup warm-up matches.

“Willi has earned the opportunity, he’s been good with Gloucester and he deserves this chance,” England attack coach Scott Wisemantel told reporters at the squad’s training base outside in Bagshot, after Jones named his team on Friday.

“We’ve got a good pool of good half-backs. He’s in that pool. We know what the others can do, let’s see what Willi can do. Willi’s quite aggressive and forceful. That’s a different profile for us.”

In spite of being born and bred in New Zealand, Heinz qualifies to play for England through his grandmother, Aylieff, who came from Southampton.

Heinz has impressed since joining Gloucester in 2015 and took part in an England training session two years ago without being given a debut by Jones.

“Willi’s been brilliant since he came in and has been brilliant for Gloucester up until this point. He’s captained them as well,” said Ford who will lead the side in place of Owen Farrell who is sitting out the Test.

“He has so much energy and everything you want from a nine, such as the strong execution of the basics.”

Ben Youngs, England’s first-choice scrum-half, is on the bench.

Bath wing Ruaridh McConnochie is also set to win his first cap after impressing in the English Premiership last season.

Meanwhile, left wing Anthony Watson will be making his first appearance for England since damaging his achilles at the end of the 2018 Six Nations.

Sam Underhill and Tom Curry start in the same back row despite being specialist opensides with Curry packing down at blindside flanker.


Recalled Malik leads Pakistan’s win over Bangladesh

Updated 24 January 2020

Recalled Malik leads Pakistan’s win over Bangladesh

  • Bangladesh could not put a reasonable fight, making it easy for Pakistan to chase the target
  • The win further consolidated Pakistan’s chances of hanging on to their world number one ranking in T20

LAHORE: Recalled Shoaib Malik smashed a solid half-century to anchor Pakistan’s five-wicket win over Bangladesh in the first Twenty20 international in Lahore on Friday.
Malik’s 45-ball 58 not out for his eighth Twenty20 fifty as Pakistan overhauled a modest 142-run target in 19.3 over to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Bangladesh had managed 141-5 in their 20 overs with openers Mohammad Naim scoring 41-ball 43 and Tamim Iqbal hit 34-ball 39 as Pakistan’s three-man pace attack kept them in check on a flat Gadaffi stadium pitch.
The win further consolidated Pakistan’s chances of hanging on to their world number one ranking in the shortest format. If they lose any of the remaining matches — on Saturday and Monday, also in Lahore, Australia will replace them at the top.
Lahore’s foggy weather prompted Pakistan Cricket Board to start the match at 2pm (0900 GMT) but it failed to attract more than 10,000 people in a capacity of 24,000 stadium.
Bangladesh could not put a reasonable fight as Pakistan won their first match after losing six of their last seven T20 matches with one washed out.
Malik, playing his first match since February last year, was in sublime form as he hit five boundaries and added 46 for the third wicket with debutant Ahsan Ali who made 32-ball 36 with four boundaries.
Malik, fourth leading run-getter in Twenty20 internationals with 2321 in a record 112 matches, credited bowlers for the win.
“Congratulations to the whole Pakistan for this win and for hosting another match,” said Malik. “It wasn’t an easy pitch and our bowlers restricted them to a gettable total.
“It’s tough to be in and out of the team but I have been playing leagues and domestic cricket and that helped me stage a comeback in this match.
“I am happy to help achieve this win in a chase.”
But Pakistan’s chase was initially jolted when they lost world number one Twenty20 batsman Babar Azam on only the second ball into their innings, caught behind off an inside edge off fast bowler Shafiul Islam.
Shafiul was the best Bangladeshi bowler with 2-27.
Another recalled batsman Mohammad Hafeez hit three crisp boundaries and was looking in good touch before he miscued a flick and was caught off Mustafizur Rahman for 17.
Malik and Ahsan took Pakistan to 81 and before Iftikhar Ahmed (16) added a further 36 for the fourth wicket but even the fall of Iftikhar and Imad Wasim (six) did not derail Pakistan.
Earlier, Bangladesh, who won the toss and opted to bat, were off to a good start as Iqbal and Naim put on 70 for the opening wicket.
Naim, fresh from his top score of 81 against India in November last year, cracked three boundaries and a six while Iqbal had four boundaries and a six but Pakistan pulled the scoring rate between 12-15 overs which yielded just 21 runs.
Iqbal was run out in the 11th over while Naim holed out off spinner Shadab Khan in the 15th.
Skipper Mahmudullah hit two boundaries in his 14-ball 19 not out.
Pakistan handed Twenty20 debuts to opener Ahsan and pacer Haris Rauf.