Despite having major upsets in the southern continent, Pakistan were triumphant in the West Indies tour of 2017, having won the T20 series 3-1, the ODI series by 2-1, and winning a thriller in the 3rd test to seal it 2-1. This was Pakistan's first ever test series win in the Caribbean.[60] Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan retired after, with the captaincy going to Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Michael Vaughan took over, with players encouraged to express themselves. England won five consecutive Test series prior to facing Australia in the 2005 Ashes series, taking the team to second place in the ICC Test Championship table. During this period England defeated the West Indies home and away, New Zealand, and Bangladesh at home, and South Africa in South Africa. In June 2005, England played its first ever T20 international match, defeating Australia by 100 runs. Later that year, England defeated Australia 2–1 in a thrilling series to regain the Ashes for the first time in 16 years, having lost them in 1989. Following the 2005 Ashes win, the team suffered from a spate of serious injuries to key players such as Vaughan, Giles, Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones. As a result, the team underwent an enforced period of transition. A 2–0 defeat in Pakistan was followed by two drawn away series with India and Sri Lanka.
At the grassroots level, local club cricket is essentially an amateur pastime for those involved but still usually involves teams playing in competitions at weekends or in the evening. Schools cricket, first known in southern England in the 17th century, has a similar scenario and both are widely played in the countries where cricket is popular.[125] Although there can be variations in game format, compared with professional cricket, the Laws are always observed and club/school matches are therefore formal and competitive events.[126] The sport has numerous informal variants such as French cricket.[127]
Central contracts were installed – reducing players workloads – and following the arrival of Zimbabwean coach Duncan Fletcher, England thrashed the fallen West Indies 3–1. England's results in Asia improved that winter with series wins against both Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Hussain's side had a far harder edge to it, avoiding the anticipated "Greenwash" in the 2001 Ashes series against the all-powerful Australian team. The nucleus the side was slowly coming together as players such as Hussain himself, Graham Thorpe, Darren Gough and Ashley Giles began to be regularly selected. By 2003 though, having endured another Ashes drubbing as well as another first-round exit from the World Cup, Hussain resigned as captain after one Test against South Africa.
On 23 March 2007, Pakistan players and officials were questioned by Jamaican police and submitted DNA samples along with fingerprints, as part of the routine enquiries in the investigation into Woolmer's murder.[49] Three days after leaving the West Indies for Pakistan, via London, the Pakistan team were ruled out as suspects. The deputy commissioner of Jamaican police. Mark Shields, the detective in charge of the investigation, announced, "It's fair to say they are now being treated as witnesses." "I have got no evidence to suggest it was anybody in the squad."[50] A memorial service was held in Sacred Heart Church, Lahore, for Bob Woolmer on 1 April 2007. Among the attendees were Pakistan players and dignitaries, including Inzamam-ul-Haq, who was quoted as saying, "After Woolmer's family, the Pakistan team was the most aggrieved by his death."[51] After the World Cup ended, serious doubts were raised about the investigation, with increasing speculation that Woolmer died of natural causes. This has now been accepted as fact, and the case has been closed.[52]
The tournament did not start well for Pakistan, losing to their arch-rivals India by 124 runs. But as the group stages progressed the bowling attack improved significantly for Pakistan, winning games against South Africa by 19 runs, and a crucial game against Sri Lanka by 3 wickets. This set up a semi-final against hosts and favourites England, where Hasan Ali took 3 wickets to take Pakistan to their first ICC Champions Trophy Final, a highly anticipated re-match with India.
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