Money-spinning matches featuring the England men's team must take priority over women's internationals this year.

That was the message on Wednesday from Clare Connor, director of women's cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), saying it was "a hit we might have to take".

Former England all-rounder Connor is realistic about the possibility of the women's team being unable to play a full programme of internationals, given the coronavirus pandemic could mean available and safe venues for cricket are limited.

And with men's broadcast deals so lucrative, particularly at a time when behind-closed-doors games are emerging as a best-case scenario, it is set to be the England teams skippered by Joe Root and Eoin Morgan that are prioritised by the ECB.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison this week told a UK government Digital, Culture, Media and Sport panel the organisation risked losing up to £380million this year due to the COVID-19 effect.

Connor, quoted widely by UK media on Wednesday, said: "If the international women's schedule can't be fulfilled in full but a large amount of the international men's programme can this summer, which is going to reduce that £380million hole, we have to be realistic about that.

"In order for the whole game to survive, the financial necessity rests upon many of those international men's matches being fulfilled."

She added: "If we have to play less international women's cricket this summer to safeguard the longer-term future and investment and building the infrastructure for a more stable and sustainable women's game, then that is probably a hit we might have to take."

Connor stressed she would be "devastated" if England cannot play any international women's cricket during the coming months.

A June-July series against India must be reorganised because cricket in England has been suspended until July 1 at the earliest, while South Africa's women are due to tour in September.

Connor said: "But we're only going to have a few venues, if any, in operation and if that ends up being two bio-secure environments or three, there's only a certain number of days to try to cram everything into."

News the Bundesliga is set to return this month means fans will soon be able to enjoy the next chapter of Jadon Sancho's rapid rise.

Football's hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped the England winger being linked with big-money moves to the Premier League, but his immediate focus will be Borussia Dortmund's bid to unseat long-reigning champions Bayern Munich.

In terms of his output, particularly when it comes to goals and assists, he is rivalling Europe's elite players and compares favourably to Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe in 2019-20.

With the help of Opta statistics, we have reviewed some of the most interesting numbers from Sancho's career to date.


IMPROVING EVERY YEAR

Sancho has averaged a goal or assist every 82 minutes in his Bundesliga career.

His first season in 2017-18 saw him either score or create a goal every 137 minutes, but that rate improved spectacularly to 95 minutes in 2018-19.

This term, Sancho has racked up a sublime tally of 14 goals and 15 assists, and has scored or set up one of his team-mates every 62 minutes he spends on the pitch.

Sancho's tally of 15 assists in 23 league matches this season is already higher than the 14 he managed when playing all 34 top-flight games in the previous campaign.

The same can be said for his goal tally of 14, given he managed 12 in the entirety of 2018-19.

That improvement can also be seen in his shot conversion rate, which was 10 per cent in his first season before improving to 30 and 31 per cent respectively.

In an ideal combination, his accuracy is going in the right direction at a time where he is taking more attempts, with Sancho having attempted 45 shots this season in 1,806 minutes, compared to 40 in 2,459 a season ago.


RIVALING EUROPE'S ELITE

Only two players in Europe's top-five leagues have a better record than Sancho when it comes to goals and assists this season.

Ciro Immobile has produced 34 (27 goals and seven assists), with Lionel Messi on 31 (19 goals and 12 assists), just ahead of Sancho's 29.

Timo Werner, Robert Lewandowski, Kevin De Bruyne, Ronaldo and Mbappe have all enjoyed fine campaigns but they rank behind Sancho.

Stretching the timeframe back to the start of last season, when Sancho became a first-team regular, he again sits near the top of the charts.

The England international has 55 goal involvements over that timespan, with 26 goals and 29 assists.

Barcelona's Messi is out on his own at the top with 80 (55 goals and 25 assists), with Mbappe (63) and Lewandowski (57) the only other players above Sancho.

That means the 20-year-old is above the likes of Ronaldo (53) and Mohamed Salah (52) over an extended period.

Misbah-ul-Haq says the prospect of Pakistan facing England behind closed doors is "not ideal" but believes it could provide a much-needed lift for "depressed" cricket lovers.

Pakistan are due to start a three-match Test series against Joe Root's side at Lord's on July 30, with three Twenty20 matches also on the itinerary

The coronavirus pandemic has left that schedule in doubt, with England's Test series versus West Indies already having been postponed.

Spectators appear unlikely to be allowed in to venues if and when cricket returns and although Misbah would be disappointed to see the tourists play at empty venues, he thinks international action can help to lift the gloom.

The Pakistan head coach and chief selector told Stats Perform: "It's not ideal obviously, you'd love to go there and perform in an atmosphere with spectators - they are the most important part of any sport.

"It's not ideal, but if you look at it another way, people are mostly locked down in their homes and no sport is going on at the moment.

"They have nothing to watch and mostly COVID-19 news everywhere and people are depressed. In that sort of situation, if we can start sports, if we can start cricket, at least fans can watch that cricket on TV sitting at home and they can enjoy it.

"If you look at in that way, I think if we can do that with proper safety barriers and nobody is in danger, I think we can just go ahead and start from somewhere."

Misbah expects Pakistan players to be ready to hit the ground running when they are able to take to the field again.

He said: "I think in this situation, it's more towards individual responsibility as professionals; what we can do, how we are working.

"We are obviously just trying to communicate to the players that whenever we hit the ground again, the basic thing we need would be fitness. Obviously if we are fit enough, if we maintain our fitness levels, we can regain our form or skill quickly.

"If we lose our fitness in these isolation periods then it's going to be tough because once we are back on the job it will be difficult for us to either work on the skill or fitness. it's important for the players to physically and mentally prepare yourself."

Ben Stokes has vowed England will produce showstopping performances when cricket returns - even if the stands are empty.

After last year's Cricket World Cup and Headingley Ashes heroics, all-rounder Stokes and England would have been a hot ticket this year, and they were looking forward to a home series against West Indies.

A three-Test series in June has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there are hopes it could take place later in the year.

It seems inevitable the matches will be played behind closed doors, however, if they happen at all.

Asked whether the absence of spectators could mean a competitive edge being diminished, Stokes said: "No, I don't think so whatsoever.

"If you think about it, we're walking out to represent our country, we've got the Three Lions on our chest and there's a game in front of us for us to win.

"Whether that's in front of nobody or like we're used to in front of a full crowd, I don't think it's going to take that competitive side away.

"It's just going to be a completely different scenario for us to get our head around, that there isn't going to be the atmosphere or the cheering that we're used to when we're playing an international game.

"We would do anything to get cricket back on the TVs and for people to follow and watch, and if that means we have to play in front of nobody then so be it."

Stokes, who said he has never run more than eight kilometres in a single stretch before, was setting out to complete a half-marathon on Tuesday to raise money for NHS Charities Together and Chance To Shine.

He is waiting for the green light to return to cricket training, and eventually the go-ahead to return to the field of play for a resumption of competition.

Like everybody with an interest in cricket, he is waiting to hear from the powers-that-be.

Stokes told BBC Radio 5 Live: "There's always plans being put in place and spoken about, but we're still not 100 per cent sure on what's going to happen and when's that going to happen.

"Everybody's main concern at the moment when these chats are happening is the safety and wellbeing of everybody, because at the end of the day that is the most important thing to us as players and the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] as a business.

"They're not going to push anything until everybody is satisfied they can operate without having to worry that people are going to be exposed or put in danger to anything.

"Cricket is just a sport and the health, safety and wellbeing of everybody involved, not just in the team but around the cricket community, is the most important thing right now."

Stuart Broad has laid down the marker for England team-mate Ben Stokes ahead of the cricket stars competing in the Formula One Virtual Grand Prix on Sunday.

Broad and Stokes will take to the track along with professional drivers including Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon, plus Italy footballer Alessio Romagnoli, for a virtual race on the Interlagos course in Brazil.

Paceman Broad will be racing for Scuderia AlphaTauri, while Stokes will be competing alongside Albon for Red Bull.

But despite having practised alongside his team-mate this week, Broad has no intention of giving Stokes an easy ride on Sunday.

"I'm taking part in the Virtual GP this weekend at Interlagos, Brazil, racing for Scuderia AlphaTauri," Broad said in a video on F1's official Twitter account.

"I vow to do the team proud and when I say proud, that doesn't mean bring points home, it means to beat Ben Stokes – my England cricket team-mate.

"There's a good rivalry on this track, we've been training hard this week, getting in about 100 laps a day.

"We've been learning off each other about different strategies and stuff but when the race starts, battle is on, Stokesy!"

The Formula One season has yet to get under way due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with the first track action set to take place in Austria in early July.

England batsman Jason Roy is eager to play matches behind closed doors in order to get international cricket back up and running.

Roy acknowledged he feels like a "pawn in the sporting world" amid the coronavirus pandemic and will not needlessly put himself at risk.

But once it is deemed safe to play matches, he is keen to do so even if it means the unusual prospect of international matches taking place without spectators present.

"I'm more than happy to play behind closed doors [in England]," Roy told reporters. 

"I just want to play some cricket, to be honest. For us to be able to go out and play some cricket would be an incredible feeling. 

"It feels weird. I feel like a kid again but I guess we are governed by the government. There are way bigger things going on.

"I won't be going to my bosses and saying, 'Put me in the front line'. I'll just get told what to do. I'm just a pawn in the sporting world.

"Everyone is missing sport, but safety comes first. If an individual wants to go on to the front line and put himself at risk, then good on him, but if somebody doesn't want to, I don't think they should be criticised. 

"I've got a huge amount of trust in the ECB. I think they will look at every single avenue and I'll probably have a chat with Morgs [limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan], see where his head's at and go with that.

"I'm going a bit stir crazy. I’ve got a bat and I’m just shadow-batting in the mirror – I’m looking pretty good! That’s all I can do apart from hitting a tennis ball against the wall here at home.

"I think all of the boys are on edge, waiting for the call - so we know if we've got a month's turnaround or six weeks to get in the net and hit some balls. The boys will be as ready as they can be."

Roy has experience of playing a recent competitive match behind closed doors.

He played in February's Pakistan Super League contest between Quetta Gladiators and Lahore Qalandars with no spectators present as COVID-19 was beginning to spread.

"There was no atmosphere - it was as simple as that," reflected Roy. "It was a very strange feeling.

"As a batsman I'm used to it being relatively quiet with the bowler running in - you learn to block out the crowd - but as soon as that ball is done you hear the crowd going absolutely berserk.

"Over there, when that was the case, it was just like dead silence - it was the strangest thing. You could hear your mate calling for ones and twos. 

"You don't have to work on body language. It was quite strange and quite hard to get up for but it was just something that we knew we had to deal with."

Atletico Madrid and England defender Kieran Trippier has been hit with a misconduct charge over allegedly breaching Football Association (FA) betting regulations.

The former Tottenham full-back is alleged to have breached rules E8(1)(a) and E8(1)(b) last July.

Rule E8(1)(a) states: "A participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on – (i) the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in or in connection with, a football match or competition; or (ii) any other matter concerning or related to football anywhere in the world, including, for example and without limitation, the transfer of players, employment of managers, team selection or disciplinary matters."

While Rule E8(1)(b) stipulates: "Where a participant provides to any other person any information relating to football which the participant has obtained by virtue of his or her position within the game and which is not publicly available at that time, the participant shall be in breach of this rule where any of that information is used by that other person for, or in relation to, betting."

Trippier has until May 18 to respond to the charges. 

The 29-year-old joined Atleti from Spurs in July 2019 on a three-year deal for a reported fee of $25million.

Australia have replaced India at the top of the ICC Test rankings and are also the number one Twenty20 side in the world.

India had been the top-ranked Test side since October 2016 but have dropped to third behind Tim Paine's men and New Zealand.

Australia lead the way with 116 points, with the Black Caps on 115 and Virat Kohli's side - still top of the Test Championship - amassing 114. South Africa dropped below Sri Lanka into sixth spot.

Results from 2016-17 were wiped off when the latest rankings were calculated, with matches played since May last year rated at 100 per cent and those from the previous two years 50 per cent.

Australia drew the Ashes series in England 2-2 last year before whitewashing Pakistan and New Zealand on home soil. 

There have been plenty of changes in the T20 order, with Australia rising to the summit for the first time since rankings were introduced in 2011.

They replace Pakistan, who slip to fourth, with England up to second and India into third.

World champions England have increased their advantage over India at the top of the ODI rankings to eight points.

England football skipper Harry Kane saluted war veteran Captain Tom Moore on Thursday as the fundraising hero celebrated his 100th birthday.

Captain Tom walked 100 laps of his garden in an effort to bring in money for the NHS Charities Together group, and a public rally behind his efforts saw the challenge raise over £30million.

He was made an honorary colonel to mark his birthday, which was marked with a Royal Air Force flypast and messages from the Queen and prime minister Boris Johnson.

Kane showed his support for the centenarian on Twitter, writing: "Happy birthday @captaintommoore! An incredible inspiration. Have a great day."

The England cricket team also declared Captain Tom an honorary member of their side, with former captain Michael Vaughan saying on BBC Breakfast: "We all want to welcome you, Captain Tom, to our team.

"As you celebrate a maiden century in the company of your family, enjoying the adulation and the affection of a nation, this is our way and our time, to say thank you."

Vaughan's fellow ex-England skipper Andrew Strauss spoke of the "incredible impact" made by the West Yorkshire-born former British Army man.

Responding to a message from an array of cricketers, Captain Tom said via Twitter: "What a privilege. Truly amazing to be made an Honorary Member of the England cricket team. Thank you @MichaelVaughan and @englandcricket for this very special honour."

Moeen Ali fell out of love with Test cricket after feeling he was often "getting the blame for everything" with England but would now jump at the chance to make a fresh start.

The all-rounder has not played in the longest format since the opening match of last year's Ashes series on home soil, dropped after England slipped to a heavy defeat at Edgbaston.

Moeen missed out on a central contract and made himself unavailable for the tours of South Africa and Sri Lanka, though the series with the latter did not go ahead as the squad returned home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While still involved in white-ball cricket, the 32-year-old felt he was often scapegoated for England's shortcomings at Test level, even if the team as a whole performed badly.

"For sure, I did fall out of love with the longer format," Moeen told the media on a conference call. "You get into a negative space, a negative frame of mind.

"You're getting the blame for everything and everyone is looking at you.

"I definitely felt like, while I was playing, that if we lost the game and were 54 all out or 82 all out, it was my shot that lost it or was highlighted more.

"It was my mistake with the bat. It would always be my face."

England's home schedule in 2020 remains up in the air because of the COVID-19 outbreak, with the Test series against West Indies already postponed.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has said no professional cricket will be played until at least the start of July, with the lengthy delay leaving Moeen desperate to play again as he looks for a "fresh start" to his Test career.

"For sure, if I got the call tomorrow to play, I would definitely put my hand up," he said.

"It's about just forgetting everything and almost having a fresh start. Hopefully that's what has happened in the last year or so, it has put me in a better mindset.

"When I first played for England, I remember telling myself I wasn't going to let anything affect me, but I did during the last year or so I was playing

"It's just about going back to basics and playing like I'm a kid again. I've just got to enjoy my cricket and not think too much about what people say."

Sir Robert Charlton CBE (born 11 October 1937) was a member of the England team that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup, the year he also won the Ballon d'Or.

He played almost all of his club football at Manchester United, where he became renowned for his attacking instincts, his passing abilities from midfield and his ferocious long-range shot, as well as his fitness and stamina.

Charlton made his debut for the Manchester United first-team in 1956, and over the next two seasons gained a regular place in the team, during which time he survived the Munich air disaster of 1958 after being rescued by Harry Gregg.

After helping United to win the Football League First Division in 1965, he won another First Division title with United in 1967. In 1968, he captained the Manchester United team that won the European Cup, scoring two goals in the final to help them become the first English club to win the competition.

Charlton was both Manchester United and England's long-time record goalscorer, and United's long-time record appearance maker, as well as briefly England's until Bobby Moore overtook his 106 caps in 1973.

His appearance record of 758 for United took until 2008 to be beaten when Ryan Giggs did so in that year's Champions League final. 

With 249 goals, he is currently United's second all-time leading goalscorer, after his record was surpassed by Wayne Rooney in 2017. He is also the second-highest goalscorer for England, after his record of 49 goals which was held until 2015 was again surpassed by Rooney.

He was named in the England squad for four World Cups (1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970), though did not play in the first. At the time of his retirement from the England team in 1970, he was the nation's most capped player, having turned out 106 times at the highest level.

Playing Career 

Full name: Robert Charlton

Date of birth: 11 October 1937 (age 82)

Place of birth: Ashington, Northumberland, England

Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)

Playing positions: Attacking midfielder/Forward

 

Club

Years                   Team                             Apps         (Gls)

  • 1956–1973 Manchester United              758         (249)
  • 1974–1975 Preston North End                38            (8)
  • 1976          Waterford                             3            (1)
  • 1978          Newcastle KB United               1            (0)
  • 1980          Perth Azzurri                          3            (2)
  • 1980          Blacktown City                       1            (1)

Total                                                           801         (261)

Honours

Manchester United - Football League First Division (3): 1956–57, 1964–65, 1966–67; FA Cup: 1962–63; Charity Shield (4): 1956, 1957, 1965, 1967; European Cup: 1967–68; FA Youth Cup (3): 1953–54, 1954–55, 1955–56

International

  • England 1958-1970

Honours

  • FIFA World Cup: 1966
  • UEFA European Championship third place: 1968
  • British Home Championship (10): 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970

Individual

  • FWA Footballer of the Year: 1965–66
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1966
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (2): 1966, 1970
  • Ballon d'Or: 1966
  • Ballon d'Or (2nd place): 1967, 1968
  • PFA Merit Award: 1974
  • FWA Tribute Award: 1989
  • FIFA World Cup All-Time Team: 1994
  • Football League 100 Legends: 1998
  • English Football Hall of Fame: 2002
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: 14th
  • PFA England League Team of the Century (1907 to 2007):
  • Team of the Century 1907-1976
  • Overall Team of the Century
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award: 2008
  • UEFA President's Award: 2008
  • Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award: 2012
  • FIFA Player of the Century:
  • FIFA internet vote: 16th
  • IFFHS vote: 10th
  • World Soccer The Greatest Players of the 20th century: 12th
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Orders and special awards
  • Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE): 1969
  • Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE): 1974
  • Knight Bachelor: 1994
  • Order of the Rising Sun, 4th class: 2012

Cricket West Indies (CWI) CEO Johnny Grave has continued to insist the body will put the players' health first but remains flexible regarding the scheduling of the West Indies versus England series.

The series was originally expected to begin in London on June 4, followed by matches at Edgbaston and Lord's starting on 12 and 25 June respectively.  With the world, however, yet to assert any significant measure of control over the spread of the novel coronavirus, sporting activity remains suspended.  Even if the series between the teams is played later in the year rules banning mass gatherings would likely still be in force, meaning matches would have to take place behind closed doors.  Grave insists the CWI would remain guided by the best medical advice available and discussions surrounding the issue are already under way.

"Clearly playing in June is now not possible and we will continue our discussions with the ECB and other international boards on trying to find new dates," said Grave in a statement from the governing body.

"Our respective medical teams are beginning to discuss how this (England) series could be played whilst guaranteeing the health and safety of our players and support team,” he added.

"We will be as flexible as we can without compromising the safety of our team.”

It is 17 years to the day since Jacques Rudolph announced himself on the Test stage with a magnificent debut double-century for South Africa against Bangladesh.

Rudolph crafted a brilliant 222 not out on day three of a crushing innings-and-60-run win in Chittagong aged only 21.

Australia's Charles Bannerman was the first cricketer to score a century on his Test bow against England way back in 1877, while the great W.G. Grace also hit a debut hundred.

We pick out five of the best debuts in the longest format over the years.

 

TIP-TOP FOSTER MAKES AUSTRALIA SUFFER

Reginald Erskine Foster, or 'Tip' as he was known, grasped his opportunity with both hands after being selected for the first Ashes Test in 1903.

Business commitments prevented Foster from making his England debut earlier, but he made up for lost time in Sydney with a record-breaking innings.

He made 287 - more than Australia's first innings total - after coming in at number five in the tourists' first innings, finding the boundary on 37 occasions.

England went on to win by five wickets thanks to Foster's knock, a Test record on debut. 

 

SWEET 16 FOR MASSIE

Bob Massie could not have dreamed of a better start to what proved to be a short Australia career.

The seamer tore through England in both innings of the second Test at Lord's in June 1972, claiming an incredible 16 wickets in the match.

Massie took 8-84 in the first innings and 8-53 second time around, setting up an emphatic eight-wicket victory.

His match figures of 16-137 are the fourth-best in Test history, not bad for a bowler who went on to play in only nine matches for his country.

 

ROWE THE KING OF SABINA PARK

Big things were expected of Lawrence Rowe ahead of his West Indies debut on his home ground Sabina Park against New Zealand in 1972.

The Jamaican batsman lived up to the hype in spectacular fashion, striking a flawless 214 in the first innings in Kingston.

Rowe inflicted more punishment on the tourists' attack in the second innings with 100 not out, becoming the first man to score a double-century and a hundred on his Test debut.

New Zealand salvaged a draw, but that did not take the gloss of the exploits of Rowe, who said: "This is my home ground, and I have no right to get out here."

 

TEENAGER HIRWANI TEARS THROUGH WINDIES

Narendra Hirwani hit the ground running with a sensational India bow against West Indies in Chennai 32 years ago.

The bespectacled leg spinner took 16 wickets in the fourth Test, with 8-61 in the first innings and 8-75 to put the seal on a 255-run thumping.

The 19-year-old claimed the scalps of greats such as Viv Richards, Desmond Haynes and Richie Richardson on a pitch that he would have loved to have rolled up and taken with him.

Hirwani played only 17 Tests, with his staggering debut proving to be something of a false dawn but his match figures of 16-136 versus the Windies are the third-best in the longest format.

 

RUDOLPH TAMES TIGERS

Rudolph was just 21 when he got his chance to showcase his talents in the longest format and he showed his class in MA Aziz Stadium.

The left-hander shared an unbroken third-wicket stand of 429 with Boeta Dippenaar, a South Africa record and the 10th highest in Test history.

Rudolph hit two sixes and found the rope 29 times in a masterful innings, laying the platform for a huge victory along with Dippenaar.

Bangladesh were unable to take a wicket on day two and were eventually put out of their misery when Graeme Smith declared on the third day.

England paceman Jofra Archer is having a "blast" in lockdown despite being unable to find his Cricket World Cup medal.

Archer has moved into a new flat and has had plenty of time to settle in due to the restrictions imposed in the United Kingdom during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, he has revealed the winner's medal received at Lord's last July following England's World Cup final win over New Zealand is proving to be elusive.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Oh, jeez. So, the funny thing is...I have a portrait that someone did of me and sent to me, so I had the medal hanging on that.

"I moved flats, the picture has been put on a new wall but there's no medal.

"I've turned the house upside down for over a week and still haven't managed to find it."

Archer will continue the search for the biggest prize of his career to date, adding: "Trust me, there's nothing else to do in these conditions!"

The 25-year-old, who was ruled out for around three months after suffering a stress fracture in his right elbow in February, has had no trouble adapting to life during lockdown.

He said: "To be honest with you, I'm having a blast.

"I get to play Call of Duty as long as I want and I still get to train at home. I did play the cricket [video] game last week - I'll probably stick to CoD."

Cricket West Indies (CWI) on the advice and agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), has announced the postponement of the West Indies Men’s three-Test series against England in June, to a future date to be determined.

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