Moeen Ali has been dropped by England ahead of the second Ashes Test against Australia at Lord's, with Jack Leach and Jofra Archer coming in.

England slumped to a 251-run defeat at Edgbaston, with spinner Moeen proving expensive with the ball – taking three wickets for 172 runs – while scoring just four with the bat.

Somerset's Leach – who scored 92 as nightwatchman in a warm-up Test against Ireland – has been drafted into the 12-man squad as Moeen's replacement.

Meanwhile, paceman Archer, who proved he had recovered from a side strain with a superb performance in a Sussex second XI match this week, is set to make his Test debut having replaced James Anderson, who has been ruled out with a calf injury.

Olly Stone has also missed out, with the Warwickshire bowler struggling with a back problem.

Joe Root's side made a strong start to the first Test, but supreme batting from Steve Smith (144 and 142) in both innings helped Australia claim a resounding victory.

England team to face Australia in the second Ashes Test:

Joe Root (captain), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.

Kieran Read says New Zealand have no concerns that they could be knocked off the top of the rankings this weekend ahead of a blockbuster showdown with Australia.

The All Blacks head into the Bledisloe Cup clash in Perth on Saturday knowing a defeat at Optus Stadium will open the door for Wales to become the top-ranked side in the world.

A win for the Six Nations champions over England on Sunday and a loss for Steve Hansen's side would take Warren Gatland's men to number one.

Captain Read stated that the world champions have not given any thought to the possibility they could be knocked off the top as they prepare for another battle with their fierce trans-Tasman rivals.

The back-row said: "It's not even part of our equation really, to be honest.

"We turn up here to win the game. We'll try and do that again tomorrow. We know it won’t be easy and it never is over here. We’ll put in our best performance."

New Zealand have won 10 of their last 11 Tests against the Wallabies but Read is expecting a big challenge.

"They’ve definitely had the fire in their bellies the last few years." he added.

"We know they will certainly have that again tomorrow night, so we can't just rest on what we've done over those years. It's important we reset and make sure we play as well as we can.

"These games you can't rely on your skills. It's about your mental fortitude and how you turn up and how you want to be physical. It's going to be important for us how we do that tomorrow."

Ruaridh McConnochie and Willi Heinz have been handed England debuts, while Alun Wyn Jones will become Wales' most capped player in the Rugby World Cup warm-up match at Twickenham on Sunday.

Versatile Bath back McConnochie has played only season as a professional in the 15-a-side format but will start on the right wing against the Grand Slam-winners a year after ending his sevens career.

Heinz is to make his Test bow at the age of 32 and the New Zealand-born scrum-half has also been named as a vice-captain alongside Sam Underhill, with George Ford skippering the side.

Anthony Watson gets the nod on the left wing for what will be his first Test appearance since March 2018 after recovering from a serious Achilles injury.

Jack Singleton, Lewis Ludlam and Joe Marchant are set to make their debuts off the bench for Eddie Jones' men.

Wales skipper Jones will make a record 135th Test appearance and a 126th for his country in an experienced team.

Fly-half Gareth Anscombe again partners Gareth Davies, with Dan Biggar having to settle for a place on the bench.

 

England team: Elliot Daly, Ruaridh McConnochie, Henry Slade, Piers Francis, Anthony Watson, George Ford (captain), Willi Heinz; Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Charlie Ewels, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Jack Singleton, Joe Marler, Harry Williams, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam, Ben Youngs, Joe Marchant, Joe Cokanasiga.

 

Wales team: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Nicky Smith, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (captain) Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Aaron Shingler, Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.

Enoch Nkwe has been appointed as interim team director for South Africa's tour of India.

Nkwe will take charge for the Test and Twenty20 series against Virat Kohli's side after head coach Ottis Gibson's reign was ended.

Highveld Lions head coach Nkwe has been handed the reins while acting director of cricket Corrie Van Zyl carries out the recruitment process for a full-time successor to Gibson.

Nkwe said: "It is a tremendous honour and privilege to lead the Proteas as the interim team director.

"It is a special moment for me and my family and I will do my best to make a difference in this interim period.

"I am extremely excited about the challenge that lies ahead and am looking forward to meeting all players and staff."

South Africa and India contest three T20 matches in September and three Tests in October.

Van Zyl says 36-year-old Nkwe deserves his chance after achieving success for the Lions and the Jozi Stars.

"We are pleased to announce Enoch Nkwe as the interim team director of the Proteas for the tour to India." he said.

"His appointment is as a result of his merits and balanced approach and is someone who complements the direction that will be taken by the team going forward."

New Zealand will be expected to continue their dominance of Australia and Argentina are eyeing back-to-back wins over South Africa in the final round of the Rugby Championship.

The All Blacks' hopes of pulling off a clean sweep in the tournament were ended when they were last month held to a 16-16 draw by South Africa, who are a win away from clinching the title.

New Zealand have won 10 of their last 11 Tests against the Wallabies heading into the Bledisloe Cup showdown in Perth on Saturday.

Argentina entertain the Springboks in Salta on the same day after losing 16-10 against Michael Cheika's men in round two.

Take a look at the pick of the Opta stats ahead of round three.

 

Australia v New Zealand 

- New Zealand have won their last six Rugby Championship games against Australia on the bounce, despite having trailed at half-time in two of the last three encounters.

- This will be the first rugby Test played at Optus Stadium. The Wallabies are undefeated in their last six games played in Western Australia.

- New Zealand have won 11 of their last 12 Tests away from home. The only loss in that span came against Ireland in Dublin last November.

- Cheika's side Australia are chasing back-to-back wins in the competition for the first time since 2016, when they defeated South Africa 23-17 and Argentina 36-20.

- World champions New Zealand have failed to score more than two tries in four of their last five Test matches, this after a run of 12 consecutive matches in which they scored four or more times.

- Australia have the best line-out success rate (89 per cent) of any team in this year's Rugby Championship 2019, nine percentage points higher than the All Blacks, who have the lowest rate.

 

Argentina v South Africa

- The Pumas will be on the hunt for consecutive wins against South Africa for the first time after a 32-19 win in their last encounter.

- Two of the previous three games between Argentina and South Africa at Estadio Ernesto Maltearena have been decided by a margin of just two points.

- South Africa's past seven Tests on the road have all been decided by a single-figure margin; the Springboks' results have been evenly split during that run, winning three, losing three and drawing once.

- Argentina have conceded 14 penalties in the tournament, the fewest of any team.

- South Africa have scored the most tries in this year's Rugby Championship, their tally of six being twice as many as any other side.

- Herschel Jantjies is the only player to have scored multiple tries (three) in the opening two rounds, the scrum-half has made just seven carries.

Josh Hazlewood said the competition within Australia's bowling attack is spurring him on in his bid to play in the second Ashes Test at Lord's.

Hazlewood took 3-34 from 15 overs as Australia – despite some resilient lower-order batting from Charlie Morris – restricted tour-match opponents Worcestershire to 201-9 declared on Thursday.

The paceman missed out on the first Test, with Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Pat Cummins preferred for the clash at Edgbaston, with Australia defeating England by 251 runs.

Worcestershire offered little resistance as Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc (2-56) ripped through the top order in the morning session on Thursday, though Joe Leach's side rallied in the afternoon before declaring.

Hazlewood's form may not be enough to force him into Justin Langer and Tim Paine's plans for Lord's, though the 28-year-old believes the competition in Australia's squad can only help them as they look to double their lead in the series.

"We've got three guys with proper air speed and three guys who seam and swing a bit," Hazlewood said. 

"That's what they've got six quicks for, to have all bases covered. It's just who's bowling the best leading into a particular Test for who gets the nod. It's great competition within the squad.

"I've come back from back-to-back stress fractures, so it could take a while to get back into the swing of things. I feel like I'm getting better and better with each ball and really improving.

"I've just played the one Test at Lord's, but I got used to the slope pretty quickly there and the bowling conditions seem pretty favourable at the moment so I'd love to get the opportunity."

Australia made 92-1 in the evening session, with Marcus Harris reaching 62 not out as the visitors took a 157-run lead into day three.

South Africa batsman Hashim Amla has announced his retirement from international cricket with immediate effect.

Amla played 349 matches for the Proteas across all three formats in a stellar 15-year career, but on Thursday called time on his international career at the age of 36.

The classy right-hander will still be available to play domestic cricket in his homeland, but his Cricket World Cup appearance against Sri Lanka in June will be his last for South Africa.

Amla has been one of the best batsmen of his generation, scoring in excess of 18,000 runs for his country - including 55 centuries and 88 scores of 50 or more.

He said in a statement released by Cricket South Africa: "Firstly, all glory and thanks to the Almighty for granting me this Proteas journey which has been nothing but a joy and privilege.

"I learnt many lessons during this incredible ride, made many friends and most importantly shared in the love of a brotherhood called #proteafire.

"I would like to thank my parents for their prayers, love and support, it is their shadow over me that enabled me to play for years under the Protea sun.

"Also, My family, friends and agent, my team-mates and every member of the support staff throughout this incredible journey. A heartfelt thank you to every one of you.

"The fans for energising me when times were tough, and for celebrating with me when we succeeded together. Siyabonga South Africa.

"And, of course, a very special thanks to the President and the Board at Cricket South Africa - not forgetting the Chief Executive, Mr Thabang Moroe, and his administrative team. I really appreciate all the opportunities and am truly grateful.

"Love and peace."

Moroe paid tribute to the former Proteas captain, who was name South Africa Cricketer of the Year in 2010 and 2013.

"It is always sad to bid farewell to one of the true legends of the game, but at the same time this is rather an occasion to celebrate the richness that Hashim has brought to the game around the world both on and off the field." Moroe said.

"His humility has always been his standout quality and I cannot imagine a better role model to teach us all how to lead better lives. He has added great value not only to the Proteas but to the country at large.

"I am sure cricket players, administrators, the media and fans from around the world will join the CSA Family in congratulating Hashim on a job well done and to wish him all the best for the future.

"We can indeed be grateful that he remains available for our domestic cricket and will continue to contribute by passing on his rich cricket and life experiences to our next generation of players."

Azhar Mahmood says Mickey Arthur would be a great choice to succeed England head coach Trevor Bayliss.

Arthur is seeking a new challenge after it was announced on Wednesday that he will not stay on as Pakistan head coach.

Bowling coach Mahmood, batting coach Grant Flower and trainer Grant Luden also departed this week after their contracts expired.

The vastly experienced Arthur is reportedly a contender to replace Bayliss when the Ashes series against Australia ends next month.

Mahmood believes Arthur could be a resounding success if he lands the job and the former Pakistan all-rounder - who lives in England - would relish the opportunity to work with the South African again.

He told Omnisport: "Mickey has served South Africa, he's served Australia. He's been around for a while, so why not, I think he would do a great job

"I'd love to work with Mickey, we had a great relationship and if he becomes head coach and I had the opportunity to stay and work in England, you can't ask for anything more than that."

Mahmood added: "Mickey is very passionate, very emotional. He does things with his heart 100 per cent, whatever he does. I had a great time working with him, I learned a lot from him and I think he was the right man for Pakistan.

"Unfortunately, according to the pundits, we didn't produce, but there are issues with the fitness culture of players in Pakistan, there are a lot of unfit players. Our fielding, batting and bowling improved. People have to be given time, you can't produce overnight. 

"Throughout the period they [the Pakistan Cricket Board] never decided on a captain full-time, that was a problem."

Mahmood said he is open to opportunities in international and domestic cricket.

"I'm looking at my options, it's good to have a little bit of a break but I've already had offers, my phone has been ringing a lot and that was also the case while I was doing the job with Pakistan," he said.

"I have a lot to offer, I played one-day cricket and have been involved in the T20 format all over the world. 

"I would love to work in a capacity where I can pass on my huge experience, whether that be in domestic cricket in England so I can spend more time with my family, while also possibly working in tournaments in other countries.

"If an international opportunity comes up, then let's see. I am open to everything right now. People know I am available now so there is a lot of interest, I just need to work out which is best for my future."

Pakistan duo Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez have lost their central contracts for the 2019-20 international campaign.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Thursday announced the list of centrally contracted players has been reduced from 33 to 19.

Batsman Babar Azam, captain Sarfraz Ahmed and spinner Yasir Shah are the only three to be given a top-level Category A deal.

Shoaib and Hafeez were overlooked a day after it was announced head coach Mickey Arthur would depart his role along with bowling coach Azhar Mahmood, batting coach Grant Flower and trainer Grant Luden.

Experienced all-rounders Shoaib and Hafeez will still be available for selection in a new era for Pakistan.

PCB managing director Wasim Khan said: "I want to congratulate all those who have been offered central contracts for the next season.

"We have significantly increased the financial value of the 2019-20 retainers across each category. This is over and above what had been agreed in the current agreement, which is due to run until 2021.

"The PCB have set high standards and targets in its strategic plan for the upcoming season. We want to attach a high value to receiving a central contract. We have complete faith and confidence that these players will set up and produce on-field performances that will help us collectively achieve our objectives and targets."

The contracts run from August 1 2019 to June 30 2020, the PCB said, with Pakistan playing Tests and limited-overs matches against Sri Lanka, Australia and Bangladesh in that period.

 

Pakistan's centrally contracted players for 2019-20:

Category A – Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed, Yasir Shah

Category B – Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Abbas, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Wahab Riaz

Category C – Abid Ali, Hasan Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Rizwan, Shan Masood, Usman Shinwari

Australia head coach Michael Cheika has brushed off Steve Hansen's "Mickey Mouse" jibe ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener in Perth on Saturday.

New Zealand head coach Hansen labelled Cheika as the cartoon character during a fundraising event in Wellington in February.

Hansen was reacting to a statement brought up by former Australia player Mark Ella, who stated: "Mickey Mouse could coach the All Blacks to victory."

The wily Hansen quipped: "They've got Mickey Mouse coaching Aussie", but Cheika shrugged off the comment when asked about it two days before the trans-Tasman rivals do battle at Optus Stadium.

"Oh mate, is that even a question?" Cheika said when asked about Hansen's words.

"No drama for me."

He added: "There is certain things in footy that you... respect is an important thing in footy.

"It's the nature of the game, you rip into each other and then you socialise after."

Hansen said too much has been made of what he said six months ago.

"I never said he was Mickey Mouse. What I said was in a throwaway line, or something said in jest after an interviewer said to me Mark Ella thinks Mickey Mouse could coach the All Blacks because they have got so much talent," the 60-year-old stated on Thursday.

"And I just said, 'Well he can't because he's in Australia, coaching Australia'. So you can make a big thing out of it if you want, or you can take it for what it was. Something in jest.

"I have got plenty of respect for what Michael has done. End of story, really."

Tendai Mtawarira will tie the record for the most South Africa appearances in the Rugby Championship as the Springboks look to clinch the title on Saturday.

Mtawarira will earn his 110th cap against Argentina and his 53rd in the southern hemisphere tournament, equalling Bryan Habana's South Africa record.

The hugely experienced prop comes into the side in Salta as Rassie Erasmus makes just three changes to the team that drew with New Zealand, all in the front row.

Mtawarira and Trevor Nyakane come in for Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, while hooker Bongi Mbonambi replaces Malcolm Marx.

The three men who miss out drop to the bench as South Africa chase their first title since 2009.

With the All Blacks just behind Erasmus' side, a bonus-point victory over the Pumas would seal top spot, with any win also still potentially enough to triumph. Each team is only playing three matches due to the Rugby World Cup.

Erasmus said: "The Pumas are a very difficult team to play at home and they will be fired up for this one in front of their passionate crowd in Salta.

"This Test is a good opportunity for Bongi and Trevor to start next to 'Beast' [Mtawarira], who has a wealth of experience from playing more than 100 Tests for the Springboks.

"We all know about the massively difficult forward threat of Argentina, however; they are a clever side with skill and pace out wide, so we will have to be alert on defence right until the final whistle."

 

South Africa XV to play Argentina: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Tendai Mtawarira, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.

Rumesh Ratnayake has been named interim head coach of Sri Lanka, who appear to be ushering Chandika Hathurusingha towards the exit.

Ratnayake will lead the team for the upcoming series against New Zealand.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) stated on Wednesday that Hathurusingha, who has been head coach since December 2017, was consequently removed from his role.

However, it is claimed SLC has not yet agreed a deal to sack Hathurusingha, who would reportedly be due a significant severance package.

SLC president Shammi Silva said: "We have appointed Rumesh Ratnayake as interim coach.

"The decisions made from behind the scenes have been successful, but some of the decisions have not been made public. All these decisions are for the benefit of Sri Lankan cricket.

"When we came to power, there was not much time left before the World Cup. We actually had less than two months left.

"We wanted to work on changing the coach, but we had to use the former coach because of the World Cup."

Hathurusingha told ESPN: "As far as I'm concerned, my contract with SLC is still there. The letter [from SLC] doesn't say anything about termination of contract or anything like that."

Dinesh Chandimal has been included in Sri Lanka's preliminary 22-man squad ahead of the Test series against New Zealand.

Chandimal was dropped for the Tests against South Africa earlier this year but his impressive form in domestic action has led to a recall.

Akila Dananjaya and Dilruwan Perera are also back in contention, along with opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka and fast bowler Lahiru Kumara.

Akila was suspended from international cricket for an illegal action late last year, meaning he missed out on selection for the Cricket World Cup in England.

Angelo Mathews, who did not feature against South Africa due to injury, is back.

All-rounder Shehan Jayasuriya and fast bowler Asitha Fernando are the two uncapped players in a group that will be cut down to 15 next week.

Sri Lanka preliminary squad in full: Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Perera, Oshada Fernando, Danushka Gunathilaka, Shehan Jayasuriya, Chamika Karunaratne, Dilruwan Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Embuldeniya, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Asitha Fernando.

Rory Best says Ireland's Six Nations failure provided a "reality check" ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Ireland were unable to repeat their 2018 Grand Slam heroics, finishing third after losing to both England and a Wales side that pulled off a clean sweep to secure the title in March.

Captain Best says Ireland will be ready to put that disappointment behind them at the showpiece in Japan.

Best, who will retire after a tournament which will also bring an end to head coach Joe Schmidt's reign, said: "When Joe first came in the big question was 'how do we perceive ourselves?'. The big answer was 'inconsistent'.

"And what we've worked hard to do is to prepare the same whoever we play and whatever we do.

"That's how it's always been under Joe and we certainly won't go away from that now. It sometimes takes a reality check and finishing third was bitterly disappointing.

"So coming in at the start of this pre-season everyone is as hungry as I have ever seen them.

"We've had a group of players that want to prove that the 2019 Six Nations was the blip, not 2018."

Ryan Harris believes James Anderson ought to shoulder a big share of the blame for England's defeat in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston.

Anderson apologised to his team-mates after suffering a recurrence of a calf injury on day one of the series against Australia last Thursday.

England's leading Test wicket-taker was only able to bowl four overs as the tourists recovered from a poor start to win by 251 runs.

Anderson was passed fit to play in Birmingham after missing the one-off Test against Ireland due to a calf injury he sustained playing for Lancashire last month.

The 37-year-old will miss the second Test at Lord's and former Australia paceman Harris has questioned how he came to be selected for the start of the battle for the urn.

He told Omnisport: "All in all, it's easy to question Joe Root's captaincy but I'd put a bit of pressure on Jimmy Anderson, saying he was fit for the match and getting through only four overs.

"I know injury is injury, but to come off an injury and say you are 100 per cent fit for an Ashes Test match is a big call.

"Bowling in the nets to bowling in the intensity of a Test, let alone an Ashes Test, is very different. To break down after four overs, you could cop it after 20-odd overs, but after four overs puts a lot of pressure on your bowling unit.

"From the start Joe Root was sort of doomed, all Australia had to do - although they didn't in the first innings - was to grind the bowlers down as they knew they were a bowler down.

"They did that in the second innings. It doesn't help when your experienced, leading strike bowler does that."

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