West Indies middle-order batsman Shai Hope insists players must be willing to put up their hands and be counted in order to be successful on the upcoming tour of England.

With the team missing two of its most explosive batsmen in Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo, runs could be hard to come by against a dangerous England bowling attack.  On his last visit to England, Hope certainly did stand up for the Windies team.  In the second Test, his two centuries proved crucial in a five-wicket win that saw the regional team level the series before going on to lose 2-1.

Although admitting the team will be missing the duo, Hope insisted the big match-winning performances needed were simply about the players' available accepting the challenge on any given day.

“It just happened to be my day at Headingley but it can be anyone else’s day on any given day.  The key is just to make sure that whenever you get an opportunity in the middle you grasp it and do whatever you can to put in those performances for the team," Hope told members of the media.

“It’s a case where the performances will matter.  Yes, we are going to miss those guys, they play a big role on the team.  But it’s more performances that we miss rather than players, they could be here and it just doesn’t go their way, that’s how cricket goes sometimes.  You always just need someone to put their hands up, I always stress that.  It’s just key for us that we as batters put those runs on the board.”

The West Indies will defend the Wisden Trophy against England in three Test matches, beginning next month at the Rose Bowl Cricket Ground.

 

West Indies bowling coach Roddy Estwick is confident that the bowling unit’s steady improvement over the past several years means they are now a match for any team in the world.

The Windies are currently preparing for a return to international cricket with the upcoming tour of England, after a globally enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Ahead of the series, the regional team is likely to be encouraged by the fact that it once again has a full complement of first choice strike bowlers. The likes of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, and Alzarri Joseph are all available having recovered from injury.  The regional team’s bowling attack has on occasion shown that they can be a handful for even top batting line-ups.  Against England, in the Caribbean last year, Roach and Holder both claimed four-wicket hauls, with Gabriel and Joseph getting among the wickets as well.  Estwick believes a major difference that has boosted the team's bowling performance in recent years is its level of fitness.

“What we’ve done is to improve our fitness,  now we can sustain pressure,” Estwick said via a news conference.

“If you look back in the 80s, that’s one thing the fast bowlers had, it’s fitness.  Another thing is that they (current players) are now understanding fast bowling.  They have got to that age, Kemar and Shannon they are leading the charge and they are very experienced,” he added.

 “Jason Holder has become a much better Test match bowler in the last two years and Alzarri Joseph is now beginning to show his potential.  So were have four fast bowlers where we can challenge any team in the world.”

West Indies batsman Shai Hope said he is ready to transform his Test fortunes when the three-Test series against England begins on July 8.

West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach plans to launch his campaign towards 200 Test wickets and beyond during the upcoming three-Test series against England.

Former West Indies all-rounder Ian Bradshaw insists focus will be key for the regional team considering the prevailing extraordinary circumstances for the upcoming tour of England.

The West Indies and England will return to international cricket with a three-Test match series, in England, next month.  With the prevalence of the coronavirus still a major concern and ongoing racial equality protests around the globe, the situation to begin the tour is anything but typical.

In a bid to mitigate the risks of exposure to COVID-19, the teams will spend the entire period of the tour in what has been termed a bio-secure environment, which will keep everyone associated with the series quarantined from the general public.  With all the distractions, Bradshaw believes the task of focusing on just cricket is likely to be tougher for the team.

“We could lose the series mentality if we are distracted before the start of that series.  So, it’s going to be incumbent on the management team to keep the guys focused,” Bradshaw told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“These are trying circumstances that they are playing under, but they are professionals and they must act as professionals and really utilize the preparation time to the best of their advantage.”  

Retired West Indies all-rounder Ian Bradshaw has advised the team to realistically face up to its lack of quality all around batting and look to mirror approaches taken by past New Zealand squads, in order to be successful on the upcoming England tour.

The West Indies will return to international cricket, following an enforced absence due to the coronavirus epidemic, with a three-Test tour of England next month.  The unpredictability of the team’s batting line-up, much as it has in recent years, will again be a source of concern, particularly with explosive middle-order batsmen Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmeyer unavailable for selection.

The duo, along with all-rounder Keemo Paul, opted to miss the tour over health concerns.  The West Indies will need no further illustration than the opening Test of their last England tour for an example of a dismal batting performance.  On that occasion, the team was dismissed for 168 and 137 in pursuit of England’s 514 declared.

“We've been concerned with our batting for a while, let’s just stop and be realistic.  We don’t have the quality of batting that we want," Bradshaw told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“We don’t have the quality batsmen but what we hope for, is that collectively we can rally and that we can get 300 and 350 and 400 by batting deep and by batting sensibly," he added.

"There are other teams in the world that have a similar challenge and they manage to fight through.  For a number of years, we saw that with teams like New Zealand, where each player coming to the crease understood your job was to build a partnership that allowed the team to put a competitive total on the board.  Getting runs in England is important, especially in the first innings, so there is no doubt that we will have to bat deep.”

 

West Indies pace bowler Shannon Gabriel will have a good chance of featuring for the final Test squad against England if he can prove his fitness in the coming weeks.

The 32-year-old pace bowler was initially named as the 15th member to the official Test squad for the upcoming tour.  Gabriel, one of the team’s lead strike bowlers, has not played cricket since September of last year after a brief spell with Gloucestershire.  The player was sidelined after suffering an ankle injury that required surgery.

Head coach of the West Indies Phil Simmons, however, recently revealed the player had been training well and would be in contention for a spot in the final day Test squad.

“We have to put this in perspective.  We selected 14, but Shannon, as we know, has come back from injury and being a senior member of the squad in the past two or three years we would have to look at him if he is up to that fitness level heading into the first Test,” Simmons told members of the media on a conference call on Saturday.

Gabriel claimed eight wickets and bowled with plenty of menace when the teams met in the Caribbean last year.  The West Indies won the Test series 2-1.  The player was, however, suspended for five One Day internationals after a verbal exchange with England batsman Joe Root.

John Morris was "totally blind-sided" by reports that he is under pressure after Eddie Jones was linked with the Cronulla Sharks job.

Sharks coach Morris was stunned to hear that his position could be under threat following an NRL victory over North Queensland Cowboys last week.

It was then reported that England head coach Eddie Jones was being lined up for a sensational code switch to replace the 39-year-old Morris.

A 30-16 defeat to St George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday led to Morris being probed about talk of Jones taking his job, but he was defiant after the Sharks dropped to 14th in the ladder.

"I'm a young coach, that's for sure, but I think everyone across the game can appreciate the challenges I've had in the first 12 months," Morris said.

"We've had massive challenges around the club with the salary cap fine. We've had to let players go as a result of that.

"We played finals football last year in my first year as a rookie coach, so I don't want to sit here and feel sorry for myself or anything like that, but I think I've done a really good job so far and I've had a lot of injuries as well. 

"We still can't put our main side on the park at the moment. The Eddie Jones stuff obviously caught me by surprise and did a lot of people. I'm contracted until the end of 2021, so I can't read too much into that read.

"Speculation and rumour, I can't let that distract on me, I'm focused on this playing group and getting them going, we had a really good win up in North Queensland last week and we wanted to get better this week, but we obviously slipped up today."

Morris called for the club to back him after he was pressed further on his future in the post-match news conference.

He added: "You'd have to speak to the club, there has been no mention at all to me about my position, it came from left field after our win last week against the Cowboys.

"We were singing the team song in the sheds and it's reported that my job was under pressure, so that's totally blind-sided me. 

"But one thing is I've got a really good bond with the playing group and all of our staff and we're working real hard. We've got some unprecedented challenges around our club at the moment and we are all working as hard as we can to get through that.

"We had to release Matt Prior before the season even started due to the salary cap, we let Josh Morris go. We've had some challenges there and I think the more the club can support me in these challenging times, the better we'll be in the long run."

Asafa Powell broke the 100 metres world record on this day 15 years ago, and the New York Rangers ended a 54-year NHL title drought in 1994.

No man has ever run faster than Usain Bolt over 100m, but Powell was Jamaica's sprint king in 2005.

The Rangers were celebrating at Madison Square Garden 26 years ago, while Canada's cricketers will not want to be reminded of this date in 1979.

We go back in time to look at some memorable sporting moments that have taken place on June 14.

 

1979 - Canada crumble at Old Trafford

A Cricket World Cup contest between England and Canada always looked like it was going to be a mismatch.

That was very much the case in Manchester, where the minnows were skittled out for only 45 - the lowest ODI score in history at the time.

Bob Willis (4-11) and Chris Old (4-8) wreaked havoc, Franklyn Dennis making almost half of Canada's runs before England took just 13.5 overs to seal an eight-wicket win.

 

1994 - Rangers rule in New York

The Rangers had not been crowned NHL champions since way back in 1940 and it looked like they may have blown their chance in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks.

Mike Keenan's side led the series 3-1 after losing the opening match, but the Canucks rallied to force a decider.

The tension was almost unbearable for Rangers fans, but Brian Leetch, Adam Graves and Mark Messier were on target to secure a 3-2 victory and spark a huge party.

There has been no NHL glory for the Rangers since that triumph.

2005 - Powell keeps true to his word in Athens

A 22-year-old Powell said he was ready to break Tim Montgomery's 100m world record in Athens.

His confidence was certainly not unfounded, as he set a new mark of 9.77 seconds at the Olympic Stadium.

"It shows no-one knows how fast a man can run." Powell said after making history. He went faster another three times after Justin Gatlin had gone quicker in 2005.

Bolt holds the current record of 9.58, set in Berlin 11 years ago.

 

2007 - Imperious Spurs sweep Cavs

The NBA Finals 13 years ago proved to be one-sided, with the San Antonio Spurs dominating the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In their 40th season as a franchise, the Spurs wrapped up a 4-0 series victory with an 83-82 win in Cleveland.

Manu Ginobili scored a game-high 27 points as LeBron James' 24-point haul was in vain, with Tony Parker named Finals MVP for Gregg Popovich's side.

Phil Simmons does not expect boredom to be an immediate concern for West Indies as they prepare for their Test series with England in challenging circumstances.

The Windies are set to face England in three Tests behind closed doors, the first beginning at the Ageas Bowl on July 8 before two matches at Old Trafford.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, which brought professional cricket grinding to a halt in March, West Indies are using Old Trafford for training and quarantining.

However, head coach Simmons is not concerned about his side keeping entertained, believing the hunger to play cricket again will help combat any feelings of boredom.

Speaking on a conference call on Saturday, Simmons said: "There's always dominoes - as you can imagine if you've been to the Caribbean that is a highly explosive form of entertainment.

"We have a golf simulation centre, we have cards, a few things the guys are enjoying. When you have characters like Jason Holder everyone is always laughing and enjoying themselves.

"The biggest challenge is boredom, but saying that in this scenario - because of doing nothing, no cricket being played for the last however many months - that will take a while to come into play.

"The guys are hungry, they want to play and practice."

Not since a 4-0 win in 1988 have the Windies won a Test series in England, but the current crop have not had to look far for inspiration, with Gordon Greenidge's double-hundred at Lord's in 1984 recently broadcast on British television.

"I saw the Test at Lord's where Gordon scored a double [hundred] on the last day," Simmons added.

"I'm not too sure how close some of the younger players are [to the past] but we're trying to bring that back, get younger guys to understand where we've come from in terms of being top of the world for such a long time.

"Sometimes when you know the whole West Indies saga is coming from, it gives you more impetus to be pushing forward to get the team back on top."

Pakistan's upcoming tour of England does not come with the caveat that Joe Root's side must return the favour in future, Misbah-ul-Haq has insisted.

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic resulting in India pulling out of fixtures in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, Pakistan are set to follow West Indies in touring England for three Tests and Twenty20s between August and September having named a 29-man squad on Friday.

West Indies arrived in England earlier this week ahead of Tests that will take place at bio-secure venues in Southampton and Manchester, and the Pakistan series appears likely to follow a similar format.

Even though the contests will likely be staged behind closed doors, they can still be lucrative to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), with West Indies and Pakistan willing to tour a country still grappling with COVID-19.

That has raised suggestions that Pakistan have only decided to travel with the proviso England visit their country in future, something they have not done since the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009.

"It is not in our minds that we are coming and keeping in view something that the ECB has to do for us in return," Pakistan head coach Misbah said.

"At the moment the PCB [Pakistan Cricket Board] is just thinking about the restart of international cricket. That is very important to us, to get the players back on the ground.

"Obviously, in a bigger picture, we are not expecting anything in return. Overall we want not just the ECB but all cricketing nations to help each other so this game can grow. It's important for the cricket fans in Pakistan and also for Pakistan cricket that countries start touring Pakistan."

The prospect of playing in empty stadiums is one few countries around the world have experience of.

However, having staged 'home' Tests in front of sparsely populated stadiums in the United Arab Emirates since the Lahore attack, Misbah believes Pakistan will be better prepared than most when cricket resumes.

"Nobody understands it better than us because we played much more cricket than any other team in the world with empty stadiums in the UAE," he said.

"Obviously in a bigger picture, if we want to resume international cricket, we have to start it from somewhere."

Misbah also said he was hoping for the best for ex-Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi after the latter revealed on Twitter that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

"My prayers are with him, all well wishes with him that he gets out of this soon," Misbah added.

“Throughout the COVID situation he was helping the poor, doing a very good job. I think he was doing a lot of work in the area of Balochistan and the northern areas just to help the people."

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is determined to "deliver meaningful and long-term change" after acknowledging sport is "not immune" to systemic racism.

George Floyd's death while in police custody in Minneapolis last month led to protests in the United States and far beyond.

Former England batsman Michael Carberry this week stated that cricket is "rife with racism" and "black people are not important to the structure of English cricket".

James Anderson, England's leading Test wicket-taker, said the national team will have conversations about what they can do to make a stand and be more active in combating racism.

The ECB says it will listen and learn from the Black Lives Matter movement and will act in a bid to break down barriers.

"We have listened carefully to those who have spoken out in recent weeks about their experiences of being black in cricket, sport and society," the governing body said in a statement.

"We admire them for being vocal on this crucial topic. We know that systemic racism spans institutions and sectors across the country and we know that our sport is not immune.

"We truly believe that cricket is a game for everyone but understand that sadly, barriers to its enjoyment exist for many communities. We have made progress in bringing cricket to more and more people around the country and it is our resolve to break down barriers and reform our structures everywhere across the game.

"In recent weeks we have reflected, and acknowledge that black players and fans, who have contributed so much to the history of our game, now feel disenfranchised. They do not feel as if cricket is a game for them. This must change.

"That is why it's so important that we continue to listen to the voices of those who have spoken out, to educate ourselves and face uncomfortable truths in order to create action internally and throughout the game, to ensure long-term change.

"We will now work to engage community leaders and black influencers within cricket so that we can review and evolve our existing inclusion and diversity work and specifically address the issues raised by the black community.

"From there, it is our overall desire to create demonstrable action, in order to deliver meaningful and long-term change that permeates every layer of the game."

Sven-Goran Eriksson believes his England starting XI was stronger than the current generation, but feels Gareth Southgate's overall squad is more impressive.

Eriksson became the first non-British manager to be appointed England boss when he left Lazio to take over in 2001, turning around their qualification campaign for the 2002 World Cup and securing a spot at the tournament in Japan and South Korea.

With the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Michael Owen, the Three Lions were fancied to make an impact.

But they were beaten by eventual champions Brazil in the last eight. Two years later they fell at the same hurdle in Euro 2004 to Portugal, who also sent England packing in Eriksson's final tournament in charge – the 2006 World Cup.

One of the main legacies of Eriksson's time in charge was a perceived inability to get the best out of England's so-called 'golden generation', but he thinks Southgate has more options at his disposal.

When asked if he feels the current England team was better than his, Eriksson told Stats Perform News: "Maybe not, but they have more choices today than we had.

"Number 20, number 21, the quality went down a bit. It's easier today, there are many hugely talented football players.

"They did well at the last World Cup, they will be even better in the next Euros. It's a new generation. They are young, they are good.

"They have a lot of quality all over. It looks like a very hungry team. They have a lot of pace and that's important.

"If you defend well, then you will be very strong in counterattacks and then, you have a born goalscorer [Harry Kane], and you need that man who can score [many] goals in a major tournament."

Recently, Eriksson was criticised by Ferdinand for apparently urging the former Manchester United centre-back to not play out from the back – but the Swede insists that was not the case.

"He was one of the best central defenders in the world, maybe the best, and as he rightly said, he could play," Eriksson added. "He was a very modern central defender. Football was different then.

"Everybody wants to play like Barcelona, but not everybody should. Not everyone can play like Ferdinand. But that back four was very, very strong.

"I always in all my career was very keen not to lose the ball when we have it in our own half of the pitch: you give opportunities to your opponents to create.

"If you're going to lose it, then do so up front, but if we could play in a secure way from behind, then do it, if not then don't make life difficult for us. But I never ever said don't play from the back."

Euro 2020 was due to start on Friday, but due to the coronavirus pandemic it was postponed for 12 months in March.

England will face Croatia, Czech Republic and as yet undetermined third team, who will be decided by the qualification play-off, when the tournament takes place from June 11, 2021.

For Eduardo Camavinga, Ansu Fati, Phil Foden, Joshua Zirkzee and Youssoufa Moukoko, a delayed European Championship may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

The 24-team tournament, which was postponed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, was due to start on Friday. Instead, it will now begin on June 11, 2021.

There is a strong likelihood several nations will have different starting line-ups in 2021, with new stars tipped to emerge.

Using Opta data, we take a look at those uncapped youngsters who might benefit from the Euros being moved back to next year.

 

EDUARDO CAMAVINGA

The central-midfield axis of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante was well-established during France's run to glory at World Cup 2018, though, due to injury, neither man featured regularly in the Euro qualifiers as Didier Deschamps utilised Corentin Tolisso, a bit-part player for Bayern Munich, and Moussa Sissoko, who will soon turn 31.

Teenager Camavinga shot to prominence by dominating in a win over Paris Saint-Germain as a 16-year-old in August. His assist in that game makes him the youngest player to be involved in a goal across Europe's top five leagues this term, and he has since established himself as a regular for high-flying Rennes.

His 64 tackles in Ligue 1 this season is more than any other midfielder in the major European leagues, while he played more than three time as many minutes (2,112) as any other under-18 player in those divisions prior to the COVID-19 suspension.

Already a France Under-21 international, Camavinga has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and, based on his current trajectory, it is easy to see him muscling his way into Deschamps' plans.

 

ANSU FATI

The youngest goalscorer in the history of the Champions League was granted Spanish citizenship in September and it appears only a matter of time before Fati is a senior La Roja international.

There were reports that the Barcelona forward, who was born in Guinea-Bissau, would have been included in the preliminary Spain squad for the March friendlies that were ultimately cancelled.

There were no teenagers in the most recent Spain squad so, at 17, Fati can use the extra time to convince Luis Enrique he is a special case worthy of a regular spot in his selection.

After all, only Lionel Messi (110) and Luis Suarez (125) in the Barca squad have better minutes-per-goal ratios than Fati (202) this season, while the fearless and gifted teenager averages the fourth-most dribble attempts (2.38) per match among Blaugrana players.

PHIL FODEN

You have to be pretty decent if Pep Guardiola has called you "the most talented player" he has ever coached.

Although there have been only fleeting glimpses of Foden in a Manchester City shirt, he has certainly made an impact. In his 11 starts this term, Foden's had a hand in nine goals (seven assists, two goals), while he also has the best minutes-per-assist record (155) across all competitions of Premier League players to have played more than 1,000 minutes.

Regular playing time will surely be less of an issue for the 20-year-old once David Silva departs after the 2019-20 season.

The Spaniard's heir-apparent Foden has already caught the eye for England Under-21s, and might have made the cut for Gareth Southgate's squad in 2020 anyway, but both club and country will have earmarked the classy midfielder for a breakthrough campaign next year.

JOSHUA ZIRKZEE

The enforced break could be considered both a blessing and a curse for Bayern Munich's young Dutch striker Zirkzee.

An injury to Robert Lewandowski had resulted in the 19-year-old starting Bayern's previous two Bundesliga games before the suspension and, having needed just three minutes to score his first two league goals earlier in the season, he was seemingly set to enhance his reputation in the following weeks.

But the season hiatus put paid to that and Lewandowski was fit to return when the campaign resumed, with the Pole typically lethal since. But that doesn't take away from the fact Zirkzee is Bayern's third-youngest Bundesliga goalscorer, as he lays the groundwork for a potential breakthrough season in 2020-21, either at Bayern or on loan elsewhere.

Having only represented Netherlands as high as Under-19 level so far, Zirkzee still has a way to go to force his way into Ronald Koeman's senior squad for competitive fixtures, but another year of development will surely aid his case, particularly given the Oranje's lack of established options in the striker role.

YOUSSOUFA MOUKOKO

A name that may be unfamiliar to many outside of Germany, though perhaps not for much longer given the goalscoring record Borussia Dortmund's 15-year-old prodigy has.

Moukoko netted for the 34th time in his 20th Under-19 Bundesliga game in March, setting a record for the competition, having scored 50 in 28 appearances at U17 level last season.

A Euros this year would have definitely come too soon for Moukoko but Lucien Favre wants the Germany youth international training with his first team soon, and following a regulation change, he will be able to make his debut when he turns 16 in November.

By this time next year, a man already on Joachim Low's radar may just be a long shot for Die Mannschaft's senior team too.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) Johnny Grave has sought to set aside rumours that the regional team was obligated to accept the tour of England because of a US$3m loan they received from the England Cricket Board (ECB) earlier this year.

The West Indies and England are set for a return to international cricket next month with a three-match Test series, in England.  With the spread and effects of the coronavirus still very much evident in the UK, however, some have questioned the wisdom of the decision, particularly based on the risk posed to the players.

With 291,409 thousand reported cases and 41,279 deaths, the UK is the hardest-hit region in Europe.  The ECB has, however, been taking precautions with a chartered flight for the team to the UK and the implementation of a biosecure environment for the series, which will keep the players quarantined from the rest of the general public for the duration of the tour.  There is still, however, some risk attached but Grave has been quick to dismiss suggestions the invitation was accepted because of a debt owed.

“We got a three-million-dollar advance of our ICC distribution that was given to us by ECB.  It’s a short-term interest-free advance because its due to be paid back in full in July, directly by ICC to ECB and will be deducted from the money we get,” Grave told Barbados Nationnews.

“In early May when we received it, we weren’t discussing it at all because the situation in the UK was not the state that it is now.  So, I guarantee you it’s not linked in any way shape, or form to our touring or not touring.”

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