x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Hughes issues a warning

While Phillip Hughes served notice of his intent with 78 in the tour match against Sussex yesterday, two of England's Ashes kingpins arrived in Birmingham for a team bonding session with an extra spring in their step.

While Phillip Hughes, the Australian batting sensation, served notice of his intent with 78 in the tour match against Sussex yesterday, two of England's Ashes kingpins arrived in Birmingham for a team bonding session with an extra spring in their step. Alastair Cook, the left-hander who will open the innings against Brett Lee and Co next month, showed a previously unseen versatility to his batting by plundering a remarkable Twenty20 hundred off just 57 balls for Essex on Thursday night.

On any other day, Cook's trailblazing innings would have been the talk of English cricket but, not for the first time, Andrew Flintoff stole the headlines. The all-rounder, who has only recently returned from knee surgery, announced his return to form with the bat by belting a brutal 93 off just 49 balls for Lancashire against Derbyshire in the domestic Twenty20 Cup. Pakistan will play two Tests and two Twenty20 internationals against Australia in England next July.

Pakistan has been declared unsafe to host international cricket since gunmen attacked Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore in March. Pakistan played a one-day series and two Twenty20 games against Australia in Abu Dhabi and Dubai earlier this year. Shane Bond is set for a return to the international fold after being included in New Zealand Cricket's list of 20 players to be offered central contracts from August.

The fast bowler, 34, lost his place in the national side18 months ago after electing to join the Indian Cricket League, but has severed ties with that competition. * With agencies