West Indies batsman Sherfane Rutherford rates his well-compiled half century against New Zealand at the ICC T20 World Cup on Wednesday as his best knock.

The 25-year-old came to the crease with the hosts teetering at 22-4 in the sixth over after bring put in to bat at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba.

On a pitch that he described as “tacky” and “spongy” in the post-match press conference, Rutherford took his time in the early part of his innings before accelerating to a top score of 68* to help the West Indies post a match-winning 149-9 from their allotted 20 overs.

Rutherford described the innings as perhaps the best of his career, so far.

“I will put it as my best knock. It’s a World Cup. This is my dream. I’ve always wanted to play in a World Cup and this one is going to stay close to my heart. Hopefully, I can continue to take out good innings like this for my team and for myself,” he said.

At the halfway point of the innings, the West Indies were 49-5 and Rutherford says head coach Daren Sammy’s advice was to bat time and take it deep.

“He was just telling me to take it deep. I was batting with Akeal (Hosein) so I told him to keep going but my role was to basically take it to the 15th or 16th over but after we lost wickets I just told myself to try and take it to the 20th over and try and maximize those last two overs which they had to make up with two bowlers,” he said.

The Guyanese hard-hitter was recently a part of the Indian Premier League with the Kolkata Knight Riders and, despite not getting a game, he says he has been using that time to prepare for situations like the one he faced on Wednesday.

“I pattern my game off these situations. Even before the World Cup, I try to put myself in positions in the nets where I have to bat properly and then have to excel in the end so I think it’s good to see that my plans and my work are coming to show,” he said.

He faced a similar situation when the West Indies found themselves 79-5 batting first in the third T20I against Australia in Perth in February.

Rutherford and Andre Russell put on 139 for the sixth wicket with Rutherford finishing 67* off 40 balls.

He says the main thing he took from that innings was the importance of giving himself time at the crease.

“The innings in Australia is one that I kept close to me and, even though it was a good innings, I try to pick a few things out of it. One of the few things was give myself time. It’s always a process and when you look too far ahead you can forget about the process so, for me, it was just ball after ball, give myself time, run singles and get myself ready so that in the back end I can make up,” he said.

Finally, Rutherford made mention of the crowd at the Brian Lara Stadium.

“When batting I try not to worry about the crowd. I just try to look at what’s in front of me and focus on the process but it’s good to have some support. It’s good to have the home crowd with us and hopefully they can keep supporting us,” he said.

The West Indies will next take on Afghanistan at the Daren Sammy Stadium on June 17.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No tournament is complete without a 'group of death'. 

Euro 2024 may have two, with France and the Netherlands looking to fend off a challenge from Austria in Group D, while heavyweights Spain, Croatia and Italy battle it out in Group B.

It's Spain and Croatia who get the latter pool under way on Saturday, facing off in a huge tussle at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

La Roja are the only team to win back-to-back editions of the Euros, achieving that feat in 2008 and 2012, yet they have only won two knockout ties across five major tournaments since that latter triumph.

Luis de la Fuente's team did, however, win the 2022-23 edition of the Nations League, overcoming Croatia on penalties in the final. Spain also memorably eliminated Zlatko Dalic's team from Euro 2020, winning an eight-goal thriller in the last 16.

Spain may have previous against Croatia, but few will be writing Dalic's team off following their third-place finish at the 2022 World Cup, at which an ageing but supremely talented side used all their big-game know-how to eliminate Brazil.  

The result of Saturday's game could go a long way to deciding both teams' fates in a group that could easily see a giant fall. Here, we use Opta data to preview the game.

What's expected?

The Opta supercomputer makes Spain favourites for this one, but La Roja's win percentage of 50 per cent suggests the outcome is far from a foregone conclusion.

Croatia were victorious in 24 per cent of match simulations conducted by the supercomputer, with 26 per cent ending level and potentially handing the initiative in the group to Italy.

There will certainly be plenty of familiarity between these two sides. Indeed, Spain and Croatia are facing each other at a fourth successive edition of the Euros.

That has only previously occurred on one occasion, when Spain and Italy met in four straight editions between 2008 and 2020. They will, of course, do battle at a fifth successive tournament when they square off in Gelsenkirchen on June 20.

La Roja have won two of their previous three encounters with Croatia (5-3 at Euro 2020, 1-0 at Euro 2012), while they were beaten 2-1 at Euro 2016.

If recent history is anything to go by, an entertaining affair could be in the offing. 

Three of the last five meetings between Spain and Croatia have contained at least five goals, and the most recent – a 5-3 extra-time win for La Roja three years ago – is the second-highest scoring game in Euros history, after France 4-5 Yugoslavia in 1960.

The supercomputer makes Spain Group B favourites with a 47.3 per cent chance of finishing top, to Croatia's 18 per cent, Italy's 29 per cent and Albania's 5.6 per cent.

With four third-place finishers reaching the last 16, La Roja (89.1 per cent), Italy (80.3 per cent) and Croatia (67.8 per cent) are all expected to progress.

Can Spain add punch to possession play?

At Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup, Spain won plenty of admirers for their patient, possession-based style, with Gavi and Pedri hailed as generational talents.

However, their approach did not win them enough matches. La Roja scraped past Switzerland on penalties at Euro 2020 before going out to Italy on spot-kicks, while a bold rearguard action from Morocco dumped them out in the first knockout round in Qatar. Before that, a shock defeat to Japan almost sent them out in the group stage.

Their patient approach is nothing new. Spain have had more possession than their opponents in each of their last 136 competitive games, last seeing less of the ball when they beat Germany with 46 per cent of the play in the Euro 2008 final.

They have also attempted 1,000 or more passes in four separate World Cup matches but only won one of those, beating Costa Rica 7-0 in Qatar.

Their last 50 Euros goals have all been scored from inside the area, with their last strike from outside the box coming via Real Madrid great Raul, against Slovenia in 2000's group stage.

De la Fuente will not stray too far from Spain's identity, despite Gavi missing the tournament due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The key to their success will be adding punch to their patient build-up play, and wide duo Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams could hold the key in that regard.  

Williams (second, 191) and Yamal (fourth, 141) both ranked among the top four players for dribbles attempted in LaLiga last season, also ranking third and fifth respectively for carries ending in a take-on (Williams 97, Yamal 82).

Athletic Bilbao's Williams has six goal involvements (two goals, four assists) in 13 senior appearances for Spain, while Yamal will become the youngest player in Euros history as long as he gets an outing before the final, which is one day after his 17th birthday. Few nations boast a pair of wingers as exciting as the Roja duo.

Tournament specialists set up to surprise

As is the case with Spain, control has long been the name of the game for Croatia, yet many would argue they do it with a level of savviness that deserted La Roja long ago.

At the 2022 World Cup, only Spain (135) recorded more sequences of 10 or more passes than Croatia, with Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic pulling the strings in midfield. 

Brozovic (509) and Modric (484), as well as centre-back Josko Gvardiol (505), ranked among the six players to play the most passes in Qatar, with Rodri out in front with 676 despite only playing four matches.

It was not everyone's cup of tea as Croatia relied on the penalty shoot-out heroics of goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic in their two knockout triumphs over Japan and Brazil.

Despite playing the full seven games, they only ranked seventh in the tournament for expected goals, their 7.05 xG some five fewer than Brazil, who managed 12.08 xG in five games.

But it was not simply a case of Croatia playing keep-ball until they could show their nerve from the spot. Dalic's team led everyone at the tournament for high turnovers (59), shots from high turnovers (10) and pressed sequences (109).

Andrej Kramaric, Lovro Majer and Ante Budimir are all comfortable doing the dirty work up top, and the latter was on target as Croatia scored an impressive friendly win over Portugal on Saturday – admittedly with Cristiano Ronaldo rested.

Difficult to beat and comfortable in transition and in possession, Croatia deserve their reputation as tournament specialists. Spain will underestimate them at their peril.

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Spain – Alvaro Morata

Missed opportunities have been a theme for Spain at recent tournaments. At Euro 2020, Morata missed more big chances (six) than any other player and also fluffed his lines as La Roja were beaten on penalties by Italy in the last four.

However, after enjoying the joint-most prolific campaign of his career in Europe's top five leagues, scoring 15 goals for Atletico Madrid in LaLiga, Morata will be trusted to shoulder the goalscoring burden again.

 

He ended a five-match goal drought for his country as Northern Ireland were routed 5-1 in a warm-up friendly last week, and though he has his detractors, he has tournament pedigree.

Only Ronaldo (eight) and Antoine Griezmann (seven) have scored more goals than Morata's six across the last two editions of the Euros.

Croatia – Luka Modric

Modric personifies Croatia's measured approach, and despite playing a reduced role for Real Madrid in 2023-24, he will be their key man again at this tournament.

The 38-year-old only started 18 games in LaLiga last term, yet he ranked ninth in the league for total passes in the opposition half, with 923.

Among players with at least 15 starts, he ranked fourth for chances created per 90 minutes (2.94), joint-fourth for open-play chances created (2.14) and seventh for passes into the final third (10.9).

Modric versus Rodri and Pedri could be the most watchable midfield battle of the group stage.

Harry Kane believes the experience he gained playing for Bayern Munich last season has prepared him for Euro 2024 in Germany.

Kane made the move to Bayern from Tottenham in August last year, becoming the most expensive Bundesliga signing in history.

He enjoyed an impressive maiden season in the German top-flight, scoring 44 goals in 45 matches across all competitions.

Kane acknowledged how his time at Bayern has improved his game and given him valuable experience going into the tournament.

"It's been an incredible experience," Kane told UEFA.com.

"I think playing for a club like Bayern Munich can only improve you and only push you to another level because you're under huge pressure to be successful in every game and I think the standard of players, and the quality of coaches, you know, it's just a really high level, and I’ve really enjoyed that.

"And I just think playing, for me personally, it was time to play in different stadiums against different teams, and I've really enjoyed that experience.

"Some of the atmospheres here have been some of the best I've ever played in. So, I'm loving that part and I expect the games in the Euros to be the same as well."

Kane is set to become the first player to captain England at four major tournaments when he leads them out against Serbia on Sunday.

As the Three Lions' all-time top-scorer with 63 goals, Kane is set to be one of their key men once more, but he believes the team have earned the right to be labelled as one of the favourites.

"Being England captain and leading the boys out is probably the highest privilege I can have as a player, and I'll never take that for granted.

"That feeling is truly one of a kind. It's an honour to do it for a fourth time. We've had a semi-final, a final and a quarter-final, so I'm hoping we go to the very end and go on and win.

"I think this squad is one of the best, if not the best, we've had, going on form and the domestic seasons a lot of us have had.

"I hope that the guys can lean on me and ask me questions, and if I can help them get through anything, then great. But we have such a good togetherness, we're always talking or having dinner together and there's always conversations being had, so that helps us."

After their opening fixture, England will play Denmark and Slovenia in their other group games.

Matthijs De Ligt believes the Netherlands have every chance of claiming their first international trophy since 1988 at Euro 2024. 

De Ligt, who will be featuring in his third major tournament for the Oranje in Germany, did not feature in the final four games of their qualifying campaign through injury.

The 24-year-old endured another stop-start season with Bayern Munich, making 22 appearances in the Bundesliga and was left on the bench as the Netherlands concluded their preparations for the competition against Iceland. 

De Ligt has made 45 appearances for his country and is one of the more experienced players within Ronald Koeman's ranks heading into the tournament despite his age.

However, De Ligt is confident that the selected 26-man group has more than enough to deal with the pressures of tournament football.

"It's good that we have a lot of guys at top teams in Europe,” he said ahead of their Group D opener against Poland in Hamburg on Sunday.

“That’s very important for a tournament like this because it means we have the necessary experience playing against top players every three to four days.

"We have a lot of quality across the board. We have to take it game by game but I think we can certainly go far.”

The Netherlands have had to deal with a number of injuries leading up to the tournament, with Barcelona's Frenkie De Jong the latest to withdraw from the squad. 

While the Oranje have an array of talent within their group, De Ligt believes not having a standout player could prove to be an advantage heading into their Euro 2024 campaign. 

“It means that everyone has their nose on the same starting line and are all pulling in the same direction.

“We have a nice, good group. It's about performance. We are working well on that. We have a group that can grow closer together, on and off the field."

Rafael Nadal confirmed he will miss Wimbledon in order to focus on competing at his "last Olympics" in Paris.

The Royal Spanish Tennis Federation confirmed on Wednesday the 22-time major winner will feature in the men's singles and men's doubles events, which will be played on the clay courts of Roland-Garros.

Nadal, who will partner Carlos Alcaraz in the doubles, played what was expected to be his final French Open campaign last month, where he said he was unlikely to play at Wimbledon following his first-round exit to Alexander Zverev.

And the 38-year-old confirmed his decision on his social media channels, opting to continue his preparations on clay rather than switching from grass at the All England Club, where he is a two-time champion.

"It was announced yesterday that I will play at the Summer Olympics in Paris, my last Olympics," said Nadal, who will prepare for the Olympics by entering the ATP 250 event in Bastad earlier in July.

"With this goal, we believe that the best thing for my body is not to change surfaces, and to keep playing on clay until then. It's for this reason that I will miss playing at the Championships this year at Wimbledon.

"I am saddened not to be able to live this year the great atmosphere of that amazing event that will always be in my heart, and be with all the British fans that always gave me great support. I will miss you all."

West Ham have announced their first signing of the Julen Lopetegui era, with young Brazilian winger Luis Guilherme set to sign from Palmeiras on Friday. 

The 18-year-old, who will complete his move when the transfer window officially opens, has put pen to paper on a five-year deal at the London Stadium.

The Brazil under-20 international will join the Hammers with plenty of experience already under his belt, having won a Brazilian Serie A title with Palmeiras and played in the Copa Libertadores.

Widely regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in South America, he is delighted to fulfil his boyhood dream by making the move to England.

"I'm very happy to be signing with West Ham United, a club that trusted in my work," said Luis Guilherme. "If things go well, we have a beautiful journey ahead.

"The head coach and I have already had a conversation. He showed me his project and I believe I'll learn a lot from him. He's coached at the national level in Spain and managed big clubs.

"The Premier League is the best league in the world. I believe I'll improve a lot here with the entire staff at West Ham, which is crucial for my development.

"Growing up, whenever I had the chance, I watched English football. Seeing how it is and now being able to play here is an incredible feeling. Since I was 11, I have had this dream, and now it's becoming a reality."

In an unfortunate developing situation, Jamaica and Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey has withdrawn from the Reggae Boyz 26-man squad named for the upcoming Copa America tournament. His inclusion and subsequent withdrawal comes amid controversy and conflicting statements from Bailey and his representatives.

Bailey, who was suspended for breaking curfew during the November international break, has not featured in Jamaica's recent matches, including the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against the Dominican Republic and Dominica earlier this month. Following the release of the squad by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Wednesday, Bailey took to Instagram on Wednesday night to label the selection as "misleading information."

The winger’s father, Craig Butler, reiterated Bailey’s stance on social media, stating that his son's decision to step back from international duty remains unchanged. "We kindly ask that you respect his wishes at this time," Butler wrote. "Posts made on social media that are surfacing at this time is a misrepresentation of his position. We wish the Reggae Boyz well in the Copa America competition and he, along with his management team, will continue to support the Jamaica National Team at all levels … change must come…Respect and One Love for all."

The JFF has not commented on whether they received a commitment from Bailey to participate in the tournament.

Bailey, 26, recently expressed his deep love for his country and his frustrations with the national team environment. In a recent interview with The Cut, he said, "Honestly I don’t know when I will be back in the national team colours. I love my country to the core. I am always here in Jamaica. I can’t tell when I will be back in the national team colours. Once I feel like I have seen a little bit of change … I don’t know how to explain it but why I’m taking a break is because it is too much for my head sometimes."

He continued, "A lot of people don’t understand or look deeply into why I am representing. I really love my country. I love my country so much that I am willing to get injured, willing to risk not going back to a starting Aston Villa team. I make so many sacrifices to make the national team. People don’t understand that and that’s what hurts me. It’s too much for my head sometimes."

The Reggae Boyz squad for the Copa America is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Shaquan Davis, Andre Blake, Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Jahmali Waite

Defenders: Dexter Lembikisa, Di'Shorn Bernard, Greg Leigh, Damion Lowe, Michael Hector, Richard King, Wesley Harding, Ethan Pinnock, Jon Bell, Amari'i Bell

Midfielders: Kasey Palmer, Kevon Lambert, Bobby Reid, Alex Marshall, Joel Latibeaudiere, Karoy Anderson

Forwards: Shamar Nicholson, Renaldo Cephas, Michail Antonio, Demarai Gray, Kaheim Dixon, Leon Bailey*

 

With Bailey's participation in doubt, the Reggae Boyz will have to navigate the Copa America without one of their key players, unless further developments arise. The situation remains fluid, and fans are eagerly awaiting clarity on Bailey’s final decision regarding his national team duties.

Wimbledon have announced a record prize pot of £50million for the 2024 tournament, which begins next month.

Both singles champions will receive £2.7million each, after Carlos Alcaraz and Marketa Vondrousova pocketed £2.35million apiece after winning last year's events.

The total prize money is £5.3million higher than 12 months ago, while it has doubled from £25million in 2014.

First-round singles losers will take home £60,000 - a £5,000 increase on 2023 - while the prize fund for wheelchair events increases to £1million. 

There is also a 14.9 per cent increase in the qualifying competition for Wimbledon, which will run from July 1-14 at the All England Club.

Edin Terzic has resigned as coach of Borussia Dortmund, the Bundesliga club confirmed in a statement on Thursday. 

Terzic departs after leading his side to the Champions League final, which they lost 2-0 to Real Madrid at Wembley earlier this month. 

The 41-year-old, who was in his second spell in charge of Dortmund, asked Die Schwarzgelben to terminate his contract, which was due to expire next year.

"Even though it really hurts, I want to inform you that I will leave BVB today. It was a huge honour to lead this club to a DFB Cup final and recently a Champions League final," Terzic said in a club statement.

"After our final at Wembley, I asked the club bosses for a talk, because I've been at BVB for over 10 years now, with five as a coach and two-and-a-half as head coach, and I have the feeling that our new beginning should also come with someone new on the touchline.

"After intense discussions, my feeling hasn't changed. I wish Borussia Dortmund all the best. It's not goodbye, but till next time."

The German had previously been interim boss for seven months in the 2020/21 season, guiding Dortmund to their fifth DFB-Pokal title. 

Terzić oversaw 96 competitive fixtures during his two seasons at the helm, having stepped into the role on a permanent basis before the 2022-23 campaign, winning 55 matches and averaging 1.93 points per game. 

The New England Patriots will retire the number 12 shirt and build a statue in honour of iconic quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady was inducted into the Patriots' Hall of Fame on Wednesday, having led them to six Super Bowl titles during his 20-year stint with the franchise.

The three-time MVP is the all-time regular-season leader in pass attempts (12,050), completions (7,753), passing yards (89,214) and touchdown passes (649) in the NFL.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the statue would be placed outside the franchise's Hall of Fame to recognise Brady "not as the greatest in franchise history, but as the greatest in all of NFL history".

"I am eternally grateful. I am Tom Brady. And I am a Patriot," Brady said at the ceremony at the Gilette Stadium.

Former Patriots coach Bill Belichick added: "Thank you for all that you've done for us. Thank you for all you've done for me. And thank you for the example and motto you've been for all of us on a daily basis for 20 years."

Lionel Messi has ruled out the possibility of participating in the Paris Olympics, conceding "it would be too much to play two straight tournaments".

Messi is gearing up for Argentina's Copa America title defence, which begins against Canada on June 20, while they will also face Chile and Peru in Group A.

The final takes place on July 14, with the Olympic tournament beginning in Paris 10 days later. 

With three overage players allowed per team in the primarily under-23 event, leading to speculation that Messi could feature for La Albiceleste.

However, the 36-year-old, who was a gold medallist in Beijing 16 years ago, revealed he would not be partcipating following a discussion with Argentina under-23s coach - and former team-mate - Javier Mascherano.

"I talked to Mascherano and the truth is we both understood the situation," Messi told ESPN.

"It's hard [to think about the Olympics right now] because we're in Copa America. It would be two, three straight months of not being with the club, and more than anything, I'm not at an age to be in everything.

"I have to choose carefully, and it would be too much to play two straight tournaments. I've been very lucky to play in the Olympics, and win it together with [Mascherano].

"It was a wonderful experience on a football level. Olympics, under-20s, memories I'll never forget."

Milan have confirmed the appointment of former Lille head coach Paulo Fonseca as Stefano Pioli's successor at San Siro, with the Portuguese coach penning a three-year contract.

Fonseca stepped down from his position at the Ligue 1 side last week against the backdrop of speculation linking him with the Milan job.

The 51-year-old spent two seasons with Lille, finishing fifth and fourth, and has previously coached Porto, Braga, Shakhtar Donetsk and Roma.

Milan's confirmation of Fonseca's arrival comes three weeks on from the 19-time Italian champions announcing Pioli would depart at the end of the 2023-24 season.

Pioli won the Scudetto during his five-year spell at San Siro, doing so in 2021-22 as the club ended their 11-year wait to finish top in Italy.

However, they followed that up with a fourth-place finish the following season and a more respectable second-place finish this past season, albeit 19 points adrift of Inter.

Sergio Conceicao, Mark van Bommel and Julen Lopetegui had also been touted as contenders to replace Pioli.

Captains Kane Williamson and Rovman Powell were in agreement that Sherfane Rutherford was the difference in West Indies' 13-run victory over New Zealand. 

Rutherford hit an unbeaten 68 off 39 balls for the co-hosts as the Windies secured a 13-run victory over their opponents to reach the Super-8 stage at the T20 World Cup.

The 25-year-old came to the crease with West Indies 22-4 inside the powerplay, and responded with a career-best effort that repaired the early damage, including hitting 37 runs from the final two overs to secure the win. 

"We told the guys that somebody has to play a blinder," Powell said after the match. "It wasn't going to be an easy wicket because of the inclement weather.

"We always believe that individual brilliance in T20 cricket is needed some time and Sherfane's innings was a fantastic knock. It gave us confidence and at the halfway mark, we believed [we could win]."

The result sees New Zealand on the brink of elimination from the tournament following their 84-run defeat to Afghanistan in their opening group fixture, with Williamson admitting his side were beaten by a beautifully timed innings by Rutherford. 

"The margins in the match are fine and in conditions like that, two or three balls where the match-up suits, that can be the difference," Williamson said at his post-match press conference.

"We saw a fantastic knock from Rutherford and he certainly timed it beautifully and got his match-up. I think at the end of the day, that was the difference."

Jaylen Brown said the Boston Celtics had learned from past mistakes after they took another step towards clinching the NBA championship with Wednesday's Game 3 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Brown had 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Celtics took a 3-0 lead in the series, holding off a late Dallas push to claim a 106-99 win.

They could now capture a record-breaking 18th NBA crown on Friday, when they are again on the road for Game 4 at American Airlines Center.

The Celtics were beaten NBA finalists against the Golden State Warriors two years ago and have also lost two Eastern Conference finals series in the last five seasons.

Brown thinks experiencing those near misses has made them stronger, saying: "Experience is the best teacher. 

"All year long we've been hearing about the Celtics in the past, for the last six to eight months, all we've been hearing is all the different shortcomings we've had in the past.

"This is a new team, you know what I mean? We've learned from those experiences. In these moments, you can see that we learned from it. We stepped up to the plate, and we found a way to win."

None of the previous 156 teams to face a 3-0 deficit have rallied to win an NBA playoff series, in any round.

Dallas gave themselves a chance of making a series of it when a 22-2 spurt pulled them within one point with three minutes and 37 seconds left.

However, a Brown putback was followed by a Derrick White 3-pointer and a Tatum dunk as the Celtics rediscovered their composure to pull clear once more.

Tatum is refusing to take his eye off the ball despite Boston now having four chances to clinch the title, saying: "Last year, when we were down 0-3 in the conference finals, we really felt like we were going to come back.

"We almost did. You know, we were my sprained ankle away from having a real shot, so we are not relaxing or anything like that. 

"You know, we're not even focusing on winning or Friday or whatever. However long it takes, that's our motto. That's what it's going to take, and nobody is trying to relax at all."

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