Debutant West Indies fast bowler Jayden Seales insists looking to maintain consistency was critical to his success, on a day when his hat-trick spell provided a rare bright spot on a tough start against South Africa.

The 19-year-old Seales ended with figures of 34 for 3.  His fiery response proved critical in ensuring the tourist ended the day with some doubts in mind at 128 for 4, some 38 runs ahead, and in command of the Test match early, but things could have been much worse.

Earlier on, Lungi Ngidi claimed a jaw-dropping 5 for 19 and Anrich Nortje 4 for 35 as the two combined to bowl out the spell-struck West Indies for 97 in the first innings.  Following the dismissal of South Africa opener and captain Dean Elgar, by Kemar Roach, Seales fired back, his deliveries removing Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, and Kyle Verreynne.

“I just tried to remain as consistent as possible.  To try and create pressure and don’t try anything too different.  I do that and I get wickets,” Seales said following the day’s play.

Despite a difficult start for the West Indies, however, the young bowler believes the team remains in the game.

“I don’t think we are out of the game.  Today is just the first day, we didn’t bat as well as we wanted to but I think we pulled it back with the way that we bowled today.”

 

South Africa dismantled a sorry West Indies for 97 on day one of the first Test in St Lucia, before debutant Jayden Seales impressed in a late charge from the hosts.

Lungi Ngidi took his second Test five-wicket haul and Anrich Nortje got rid of four batsmen as the tourists' rampant pace attack left the Windies reeling on Thursday.

It brought up what was just West Indies' second sub-100 total in a Test since 2004.

However, it was not all doom and gloom for West Indies, as teenager Seales took 3-34 to restrict South Africa to 128-4 at stumps.

Sharp bowling from Kagiso Rabada had West Indies on the back foot early, setting the stage for Nortje (4-35) to clatter Shai Hope's off stump.

Nkrumah Bonner received a nasty blow to the helmet from the next delivery and though he was given the go-ahead to continue batting, making 10 runs, that contribution marked the end of his match. Bonner was replaced in the field by substitute Kieran Powell, who will stay involved for the remainder of the Test.

Windies captain Kraigg Braithwate was also bowled by Nortje as South Africa clicked through the gears, and ultimately it was his predecessor as skipper, Jason Holder, who finished as the highest-scorer with a measly 20.

Holder's was the last wicket to fall and was Ngidi's fifth of the innings, the paceman having gone for just 19 runs.

Down but not out, the Windies struck early in South Africa's reply – Dean Elgar going for a duck just five deliveries into his first innings as full-time Test captain.

Keegan Petersen (19) followed in the 10th over, Seales claiming the first wicket of his Test career when the South African debutant edged through to Holder.

But Aiden Markram was on hand to steady the ship, taking South Africa to within a few overs of stumps before succumbing to Seales on 60.

Seales, 19, had his third wicket of a brilliant spell before play was up, Kyle Verreynne slashing at a shorter delivery, with Joshua Da Silva's impressive catch at least giving South Africa some overnight food for thought.

NGIDI AND NORTJE PICK UP THE SLACK

For too long, South Africa have been heavily reliant on Rabada to lead their attack, but his fellow fast bowlers were on hand to deliver this time around.

Ngidi's post-lunch spell was blistering, with Nortje having done the legwork in the morning session. It marked some step up from the last time Ngidi played a Test, when he took 2-74 against Pakistan in April.

SUPER SEALES SHINES

Perhaps the Windies figured they had little to lose, given their dismal first innings, but Seales offered a glimmer of hope.

He bowled with variety and plenty of pace. If the Windies are to get anything from this match, they may need a debut five-for from the teenager, and for it to come quickly on day two.

Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje took nine wickets between them as South Africa bowled the West Indies out for 97 shortly after lunch on the opening day of first Betway Test at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium in St Lucia.

After West Indies won the toss and chose to bat on a grassy pitch, Ngidi playing in his 10th Test match took 5-19 as he tore through the West Indies middle-order that was left exposed after Nortje (4-35) claimed the wickets of both openers – Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite, who each made 15.

Kagiso Rabada removed Nkrumah Bonner for 10 and Nortje took the wicket of Kyle Mayers for 1 to leave the home side 48 for 4 at lunch.

On the resumption, South Africa wrapped up the rest of the West Indies batting as only Jason Holder, 20, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 13, provided any resistance to the accurate South African attack.

The West Indies troubles were compounded by news that Bonner, who was struck on the helmet, the first ball he faced bowled by Nortje, has suffered a concussion and will take no further part in the match. He will be replaced by Kieran Powell.

Lionel Messi could spend the latter days of his career at Inter Miami in Major League Soccer – at least, the club's co-owner is "optimistic" such a deal could be arranged.

Messi's future has been shrouded in uncertainly for the best part of a year, with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner attempting to force a departure from Barcelona last August.

While that did not come to fruition, with Messi unwilling to drag the club through the courts in an attempt to exercise an apparent get-out clause, his future has been a constant source of speculation through 2020-21 due to his contract expiring at the end of June.

Barca president Joan Laporta said this month that contract discussions were going well, with Messi seemingly happier at the club since the October resignation of Josep Maria Bartomeu and the previous board.

Although a move to Miami would seem unlikely at this juncture regardless of Messi's relationship with Barca, Jorge Mas, co-owner of the MLS side, sees no reason why an agreement would not be possible in the future.

"I am optimistic Messi will play in an Inter Miami shirt because I think it will complete the legacy of the greatest player in our generation and will meet with the ambitions of the owners of Inter Miami to build a world-class team," Mas told the Miami Herald.

Former Real Madrid, Manchester United and England star David Beckham is among the others to own a share of the MLS franchise and also serves as its president.

Mas says he and Beckham have certain ambitions regarding the calibre of player they want to see in Florida, and someone of Messi's reputation fits the bill.

He added: "David and I have been working really hard, we have aspirations of bringing the best players here and Messi is a generational player, arguably the best player of all time."

Caribbean squash champion Chris Binnie says he is “happy” to be back playing competitively again after a 15-month layoff.

Jason Holder admitted it has been difficult to adapt to a new role in the West Indies Test side, after the captaincy was handed to Kraigg Brathwaite.

Holder opted not to tour Bangladesh in January due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Brathwaite filling in as captain.

Brathwaite subsequently retained the leadership role for the home series against Sri Lanka in March, and the batsman will again be captain for South Africa's tour of the Caribbean.

It was a decision that came as a surprise to Holder – who had been captain since 2015 – though the 29-year-old is now hoping he can use the opportunity to focus more on his own game.

"It was kind of a shock. Yeah, still lost for words in regards to that, but I am not dwelling on it. I don't think it's something I should dwell on, to be fair," Holder told ESPNcricinfo ahead of the first Test of the two-match series, which starts on Thursday.

"Yeah, it's been difficult. I probably may not show it, but it has been difficult.

"For the last five-six years, I've been captaining West Indies, whether that be Test-match cricket or one-day cricket. So now being relieved of both captaincies, it has been a strange transition for me personally."

Holder had some fine individual moments during his captaincy, though in total only managed 11 Test wins, compared to 21 defeats.

"I am just trying to find ways to move on and transition back to just being a regular player. For me now, it's about showing a bit more of my character, and being a lot more… I would say outspoken. I am relatively outspoken, but just expressing myself a little bit more and having fun," he added.

"I feel as though I have been really, really committed to West Indies cricket – I am still committed to West Indies cricket, but more or less for me now it's just about having fun and enjoying however many days I have playing international cricket.

"There is a lot less pressure, a lot less responsibility. It's just about me now personally… I'm 100 per cent a team man. So I'll play my part to help the team and if there are other players who are seeking out advice or guidance, no doubt I'll be here to give them that."

The Proteas, meanwhile, are set to hand a debut to Keegan Petersen, who has drawn the praises of new Test captain Dean Elgar.

"I've been nervous for a while now," said Petersen, who is likely to replace the retired Faf du Plessis.

"It gives me goosebumps thinking about it. I know I will have big boots to fill. Anyone would be nervous. This is what we dream of as kids and eventually when the dream becomes a reality, it gives your system a bit of a shock."

BLACKWOOD CLOSING IN ON MILESTONE

Jermaine Blackwood could well be crucial if the Windies are to pull off a series victory this month, though they do face a South Africa team who have lost their last nine Tests as tourists.

He needs just 55 runs to bring up 2,000 in total in Test cricket, having averaged 37 from his 67 innings so far. Blackwood and the likes of Shai Hope and Kieran Powell – who have earned recalls – will need to be wary, however, with South Africa's bowling strike rate of 52.2 in Tests since 2018 ranking them behind only India (47.8).

Teenager bowler Jayden Seales, meanwhile, will be looking to make an impact on his debut.

TIME FOR RABADA TO CLICK BACK INTO GEAR

Only one pace bowler has taken more wickets than South Africa's Kagiso Rabada (202) in men's Tests since his debut in November 2015 (Stuart Broad – 203).

Rabada averages 23.4 and has a strike rate of 41.7 across 82 innings, but as of late the burden of carrying South Africa's attack appeared to have dragged him down prior to an 18-month COVID-19 enforced lay off for the team.

While questions remain over the rest of South Africa's pace attack, the tourists need Rabada to step up and deliver at his best. A five-for would be a good start – he has not taken one since March 2018 against Australia.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first time West Indies play South Africa in a men's Test since January 2015 – the Windies are winless in their last eight Tests against the Proteas (D2 L6).
- South Africa have won all their eight men’s Test series against the West Indies so far, four of which were won away in the Caribbean.
- West Indies have a win and two losses at the Daren Sammy Cricket Stadium in men's Tests, the remaining four matches they have played at this venue ended in a draw.
- Quinton de Kock has dropped nine catches since 2019 in Test cricket; the only wicketkeeper to drop more catches during this period is India's Rishabh Pant (12).
- West Indies are unbeaten in their last four Tests (W2 D2); however, they lost their four such matches prior to this run.

Recalled West Indies batsman, Shai Hope, has targeted making a solid start on his return to Test cricket ahead of the team’s series against South Africa, which bowls off on Thursday.

The 27-year-old batsman last played for the red ball team in July of last year, after being dropped for a poor run of form in Test cricket ahead of the New Zealand series, in November of last year.

After taking the time off to focus on a few technical inconsistencies and fine-tuning his mental approach, Hope was selected as part of a final 13-man squad for the upcoming Test series earlier this week.

 The batsman impressed selectors with his performance in the West Indies Best vs Best practice match, where he scored 79 in the first innings and 104 in the second.  In addition to that, he also made 68 in a practice match against Sri Lanka earlier this year.  The player is hoping that kind of form translates if he takes the pitch for the upcoming series.

“I want to be clearer in my thought processes and obviously, achieve overall success.  I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and start a fresh book, so hopefully, I can hit the ground running if I get a chance to go out there,” Hope told members of the media.

“Cricket covers different aspects, both technical and mental.  So, I have been working on different things.  The main thing is just to get success out there and I believe in finding a way.  I just need to find a way to score runs for the team.”

 

West Indies opening batsman, Kieran Powell, admits he is looking forward to an opportunity to cement his position in the squad having recently earned a long-awaited recall.

Earlier this week, the 31-year-old left-hander was named among the final 13-man Test squad that will compete against South Africa.  His selection marked a two-and-a-half-year absence from the team, despite some believing the player to be among the region’s top talents.

 Powell, who last represented the West Indies in 2018, during the team’s series against Bangladesh, was in contention for selection to the team last year but failed a fitness test in May.

With several first-string players opting out of the Bangladesh tour earlier this year, he was certainly favourite to claim a spot in the squad but was declared to not have met the fitness standard required by the Cricket West Indies (CWI) selection panel.  Both the player and the Nevis Cricket Association (NCA) rejected the claims and insisted the batsman had in fact met the required fitness standard.  Having been given another chance to shine, Power is, however, eager to claim the opportunity.

“I’ve been out of the team for two and half years now and I’ve counted each month I was not on it,” Powell told members of the media.

“So, it’s obviously a great feeling to be back, but being back is just the start.  Obviously, now when I get my opportunity I have to go out and perform and cement my spot,” he added.

 

CWI chairman of selectors, Roger Harper, has defended the selection of young fast bowler Jayden Seales, despite the player’s lack of experience at the regional level.

With strike bowler Shannon Gabriel out of the upcoming series against South Africa, due to injury, the 19-year-old Seales made it into the final 13-man squad on the back of an impressive performance in the recent West Indies Best vs Best practice match.

The young fast bowler took five wickets overall, including a three-wicket burst that saw him remove the top order of West Indies Best B in the second innings. 

With only one first class match under his belt, however, some have objected to the young bowler being picked ahead of those with a lot more experience.  Harper has insisted, however, that the player’s performance in the practice match was enough to show the selectors plenty of what they were looking for.

“I saw a young bowler play in games where Test players and the best of our regional first class players were playing and he performed exceedingly well, better than a number of players that have been playing first class cricket over a number of years,” Harper told members of the media.

“The match was not classified as a first class match but those matches were played by the best of our regional first class players and he did exceedingly well.  So, I like to think that if he can perform well in those games against those players, he had the potential to transfer that to Test games,” he added.

The series against South Africa will get underway at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia, on Thursday.

 

Dan Christian has been added to Australia's preliminary squad for the white-ball tours of West Indies and Bangladesh along with uncapped pacemen Wes Agar and Nathan Ellis.

The selectors announced an initial party of 23 to face the Windies and the Tigers, featuring a number of players who played in an Indian Premier League that was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They have now added Christian, Agar, Ellis, Ben McDermott, Cameron Green and Ashton Turner.

All-rounder Christian, 38, and wicketkeeper-batsman McDermott will end spells in England with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire respectively to fly home and complete the mandatory two-week quarantine period before the final squad's scheduled departure for the Caribbean late in June.

Christian has not played for his country since October 2017, while Agar and Ellis will be hoping to make their international debuts.

Promising all-rounder Green made his ODI bow against India last December, while Turner has featured in the 50-over format six times and played 11 Twenty20 Internationals.

Confirmation of the tours are subject to agreement on bio-security arrangements and relevant government approvals.

Reggae Boyz captain, Damion Lowe, described the team’s 1-1 draw against Serbia in Japan this morning as a step in the right direction for the team that is preparing for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and FIFA World Cup qualifiers later this year.

Christian Pulisic scored a 114th-minute penalty and substitute goalkeeper Ethan Horvath saved a spot-kick six minutes later as the United States overcame Mexico 3-2 after extra time in a stunning inaugural CONCACAF Nations League final.

Poster boy Pulisic, who ended the 2020-21 campaign as a Champions League winner with Chelsea, converted deep into the second period of extra time after Carlos Salcedo was penalised for a foul following a VAR review on Sunday.

Mexico had the chance to force a penalty shoot-out six minutes later after receiving a spot-kick of their own via VAR, but Horvath – a replacement for injured star Zack Steffen in the 69th minute – denied Andres Guardado.

Extra time was needed after the Nations League decider finished 2-2 at the end of 90 absorbing minutes in Denver, where Jesus Corona's first-minute opener was cancelled out by Giovanni Reyna approaching the half-hour mark.

Mexico thought they had won the trophy thanks to substitute Diego Lainez in the 79th minute but Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie equalised three minutes later to send the match to extra time.

CONACAF Gold Cup holders Mexico were gifted a dream start inside a minute when Mark McKenzie's pass across the penalty area was played into the path of Corona, who fired powerfully past Steffen.

USA looked vulnerable defensively after the self-inflicted wound, though Josh Sargent managed to test Ochoa three minutes later.

Mexico thought they doubled the lead in the 24th minute after Hector Moreno found himself unmarked as he headed home Hector Herrera's delivery, but it was ruled offside following a VAR review.

That was a massive sigh of relief for USA, who went up the other end and equalised two minutes later via Reyna after McKennie's header had rattled the post.

Hirving Lozano wasted a golden chance to restore Mexico's lead two minutes before half-time – the Napoli forward beat the offside trap to find himself in a one-on-one situation with Steffen, but the City goalkeeper was quick off his line.

Mexico continued to be a threat in the second half, however Tata Martino's men had nothing to show for their efforts.

Sargent wasted a great opportunity to put the USA ahead just past the hour mark, but his rebound after Ochoa spilled McKenzie's long-range effort went over the bar.

Ochoa produced a magnificent save to keep the match on level terms, the Mexico goalkeeper diving to keep out McKennie's header with 19 minutes remaining.

Mexico introduced Lainez in the 78th minute and it proved an inspired substitution after drifting onto his left foot and firing into the back of the net a minute later, but the lead lasted just three minutes as McKennie restored parity with a header from a corner.

Extra time was needed, and VAR played a huge role in the second half of the additional period – USA firstly awarded a penalty in the 114th minute following Salcedo foul at the conclusion of a review.

VAR then ruled that McKenzie handled the ball inside the box the 120th minute, but Guardado saw his penalty saved by Horvath in wild scenes.

The improving gelding Miniature Man recorded a booming win in the Jamaica 2000 Guineas on Saturday for owner Elizabeth DaCosta as her son Jason DaCosta logged his first Classic triumph at Caymanas Park.

Ridden by Panama-born jockey Dick Cardenas, the 2-1 second favourite Miniature Man fought off Nuclear Noon’s stout homestretch challenge to win the JA$3.75 million (US$25,195) Colts and Geldings Guineas by a length and a quarter just an hour after Trainer Ian Parsard also landed his first Classic victory with She’s a Wonder in the 1000 Guineas.

For Jason DaCosta, the Guineas win honoured his late father, 18-time champion trainer Wayne DaCosta, who died in March.

“It means the world, this one is dedicated to Dad,” said previously US-based DaCosta, who has returned home to take charge of his father’s barn of racehorses.

“This is a special one,” he added, reflecting on a tough year for the DaCosta family. His uncle, Elizabeth DaCosta’s brother Wayne McCulloch, had also passed away the week before Wayne’s death in late March.

Hyped as the absorbing rematch of the May 8 Kingston Graded Stakes dead-heat between Miniature Man and 2020 Champion two-year-old Further and Beyond, the 2000 Guineas was contextually anticlimactic as the 3-5 favourite Further and Beyond hardly threatened and finish third.

Down the backstretch, the 9-2 bet Billy Whizz, one of five DaCosta entries in the six-horse field, set the early 23.2 and 46.3 fractions, chased by 66-1 outsider Regal and Royal and Nuclear Noon (4-1).

The pace quickened leaving the half-mile with Nuclear Noon and Regal and Royal on the heels of the front-running Billy Whizz while Miniature Man gained rapidly in fifth and Further and Beyond looked troubled about eight lengths off the lead in seventh place.

Four-time champion jockey Dane Nelson roused Further and Beyond for a rapid move into third coming off the final bend but the pair of Miniature Man and Nuclear Noon had already escaped into a clear advantage.

That duel was riveting until Miniature Man edged away in deep stretch for the win, his third in a row and fourth in nine lifetime starts. Miniature Man clocked one minute 39 and 3/5ths for the eight-furlong win.

“It was a good race. The horse on the inside (Nuclear Noon) was a tough horse but my horse never gave up,” Cardenas said after his third Jamaica 2000 Guineas victory, adding to Mark My World (2010) and Uncle Donny (2012).

Earlier, She’s a Wonder delivered a flawless win in the 1000 Guineas for Fillies, scoring by 7-1/4 lengths as the 1-2 favourite for jockey Reyan Lewis’s first Classic success.

“It feels good to win a Classic at my age and I am thankful,” the 21-year-old Lewis said.

After a brief tussle with the 99-1 shot Silver Hawk early down the backstretch, She’s a Wonder cruised into a commanding lead and used splits of 23.0 and 45.2 to enter the homestretch more than six lengths in front of the 2-1 second favourite Secret Identity and Sure Curlin (48-1). In the end, the 7-1 bet Amy the Butcher (7-1) snatched second from Secret Identity.

Owned by Henry Pratt and the trainer’s wife Karen Parsard, the unchallenged She’s a Wonder clocked 1:41 and 3/5ths while stretching her winning streak to four races.

“She is a fantastic horse to train. We knew coming in that everything was perfect,” Parsard declared after the unchallenged win.

Despite once again re-writing the record books, Jamaica sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce admits she was not expecting to clock such a fast time.

On Saturday, at the JAAA Destiny Series, in Kingston, Fraser-Pryce ran the fastest women’s 100m time since Florence Griffith-Joyner set the world record 33 years ago. 

The multiple-times Olympic and world champion stopped the clock at 10.63, moving her second on the list of the fastest times in history.  The time, which obliterated her previous national record of 10.70, is only bettered by Griffith-Joyner’s 10.49.

“I was just making sure that I had a good run before the National Championships, because I don’t have any more races before that.  I was just looking forward to putting in a solid race,” Fraser-Pryce said following the event.

“I was focused on getting my technique and everything together ahead of the national championship.  So, in terms of the 10.6, I really wasn’t expecting it to be honest and maybe that was a good thing,” she added.

Heading into her final Olympics, Fraser-Pryce had insisted that she would prioritise running fast times, having already won several gold medals.  The race was the athlete’s fourth over the distance this season, having opened with a fourth-place finish at the Diamond League meet in Gateshead.  In Doha last week, she recorded the then 3rd fastest 100m time this season after crossing the line first in 10.83.

 

 

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