Heading into the final day of their four-day intra-squad match at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, the West Indies have continued to find the going tough with the bat, with the exception of wicketkeeper-batsman Joshua Da Silva.

Da Silva scored an unbeaten 133 as Jason Holder’s XI recovered from 120-5 yesterday to post 272 against the bowling of Peter McSween, 3-28, and Chemar Holder, 2-35.

There was also a wicket apiece for Oshane Thomas, 1-24, Keon Harding, 1-69, Markino Mindley, 1-32, Anderson Phillip, 1-16, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 1-32.

Da Silva formed good partnerships with Raymon Reifer, who scored 22, and Alzarri Joseph, who scored 38. Yesterday, only Sunil Ambris, with 25 managed a score in the double digits.

In fact, the next best scorer for Holder’s XI, who are competing against a team led by his vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite, was the extras column, with 43 runs going a-begging.

In reply, Brathwaite’s XI have found things just as difficult, with Kyle Mayers, on 43, and Mindley on nine, the batsmen at the crease with the score on 112-7 from just 25 overs.

Shannon Gabriel has been the pick of the bowlers for Holder’s XI with 3-34.

Kemar Roach, 1-14, Holder, 1-21, Joseph, 1-17, and Reifer, 1-21, have also got in on the action.

Earlier, Da Silva, batted for just over six hours, facing 248 deliveries for his tally and smacked 17 boundaries in a mature knock.

The West Indies are in preparation mode for the #RaisetheBat series against England, with the first match of a three-Test affair slated to begin on July 8 at the Rose Bowl in South Hampton.

The team will then play in two games at their Old Trafford base on July 16 and 24.

West Indies captain Jason Holder continues to struggle to shake off a bit of rust, or allay injury concerns, after being dismissed cheaply in the second and final intra-squad match at Emirates Old Trafford, on Tuesday.

This time around, the West Indies skipper made it to five, with his innings lasting just 13 deliveries.  The disappointment at the crease followed on the all-rounder’s golden duck in the first internal match that ended in a draw last week.

In addition to time away from the pitch, Holder has recently been bothered by what is thought to be a mild ankle injury.  Despite claims that he has not been hampered by it, Holder has looked less than comfortable at the crease.  In fact, he could have departed a lot sooner had Preston McSween held on to a relatively straightforward chance when the Windies skipper nudged the second ball of his innings to midwicket.  Holder had yet to score at the time.

Earlier, intermittent showers had wiped out the first four sessions of the four-day fixture but eased in time to allow play to start at 2:20 pm under lights.  Holder and Jermaine Blackwood were, unfortunately, part of a top-order collapse that saw Holder's side go from 79-1 to 108-5 against a Kraigg Brathwaite-led XI, before ending the day 120-5 when bad light stopped play.

 

England have confirmed Ben Stokes will captain the Test side against West Indies next week as Joe Root will attend the birth of his second child. 

Regular skipper Root will leave the team's training camp on Wednesday to be with his wife, Carrie, who is expecting their child later this week.

Due to coronavirus protocol, Root will need to self-isolate for seven days once he leaves the hospital, meaning he will miss the start of the first Test, which begins on July 8.

All-rounder Stokes, who is normally the vice-captain, will therefore fill in for Root as the skipper for the first of the three Tests.

Root is due to return to the role for the second Test, which begins in Manchester on July 13.

Mohammad Hafeez is among six Pakistan players given the all-clear to join the squad touring England after returning a second negative test for coronavirus.

Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz are also set to join the team in Worcestershire, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed on Tuesday.

Pakistan are due to play three Tests and three T20Is in England, but preparations for those matches were plunged into doubt after 10 players tested positive for COVID-19.

However, a PCB statement said: "Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz have tested negative for Covid-19 for the second time in three days and, as such, are now eligible to join the Pakistan men's national cricket team in Worcestershire.

"The players were retested on Monday, 29 June, following a first negative test on 26 June.

"The PCB will now start making their travel arrangements and the departure details will be shared in due course."

Kashif Bhatti, Haris Rauf, Haider Ali and Imran Khan tested positive for a second time earlier this week.

The rest of Pakistan's travelling party arrived in Manchester on Sunday and underwent testing prior to a 14-day isolation period in Worcestershire.

 

 

 

In just his sixth Test, Jermaine Blackwood showed class in scoring a century against England all the way back in 2015.

Two and a half years later, Blackwood had been dropped, having never made the three-figure mark in another innings.

In those two and a half fairly barren years, nobody doubted Blackwood’s talent. But everybody doubted his temperament.

He seemed too willing to throw his wicket away. Now Blackwood is back with the West Indies squad and despite scoring a duck in the first practice game before his side again takes on the might of the English in England, the Jamaican swears by the changes he has made to his game.

“I want to add a little bit more to my game and bat time. I'm really pushing hard for that and I'm really putting the mental work as well in, to bat time, Blackwood has said.

Once I bat time, I will score runs

He has not played Test cricket for two and a half years but he says: “This opportunity has come out and I have to grab it with both hands. I have something to go out there and prove against all the best bowlers in the world, I want to score runs against them."

Back in 2015, on a final day North Sound pitch, Blackwood’s West Indies faced a first-innings total from England of 399 thanks in large part to Ian Bell’s 143, Joe Root’s 83 and Ben Stokes’ 79.

The West Indies would end up well short of that total, scoring 295 in their reply but Blackwood’s innings got them close and helped the hosts stay in the contest and eventually come out with a draw.

Uncharacteristically, Blackwood was measured in his approach to the innings, batting for more than five and a half hours and facing 220 deliveries for an unbeaten 112.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 46, Kraigg Brathwaite, 39, and Marlon Samuels, 33, were the only other batsmen who offered any resistance to a bowling attack that read James Anderson, 2-67, Stuart Broad, 2-67, Chris Jordan, 1-46 and James Tredwell, 4-47.

Despite the quality of the bowling attack, Blackwood was not troubled, navigating the bowlers with skill beyond his years. After all, this was just his sixth Test match.

It would take 14 boundaries and two sixes for Blackwood to bring up his tally, the most classy of which was a straight hit off the bowling of Stokes.

But the signs of Blackwood’s nature were there even in that innings. While he showed good patience for much of the innings, the day could have ended earlier, as Blackwood did have some fortune.

He was caught off a no-ball from Ben Stokes on 21 and dropped at slip on 43, granted that chance was tough.

He was also peppered with short balls and even hit on the forearm, but Blackwood would stay put throughout, emerging from long slumbers of defending to audacious moments of attack.

If only there were more moments like that when the diminutive Jamaican would find that which is most needed in Test cricket, balance. He says he understands what to do these days, let’s wait to see if there is more in him like he managed to pull out on those fateful first two days of Test cricket all the way back in 2015.

Phil Simmons, a sort of gentle giant, was an explosive batsman and a more than useful allrounder for the West Indies and at the first-class level before he turned to coaching.

His greatest achievements as a player came while playing league cricket in England.

One season, playing for Leicestershire, he scored 1244 runs and took 56 wickets. In that season, Simmons was said to have been bowling very quickly, a change from his generally medium-paced efforts.

But before those exploits, Simmons, who played in England during the 1980s and ‘90s, said while playing in the Northeast of the country, he faced quite a bit of racial abuse.

"It's not a nice thing to face. Especially in the leagues where you're by yourself sometimes. It affected my wife when I was up there. It's not a nice thing.

"I played in three or four different leagues. It was one particular league up in the northeast."

Simmons was speaking before the West Indies revealed it will be using a Black Lives Matter logo created by partner of Watford City football club captain, Troy Deeney, Alisha Hosannah.

At the time, Simmons was as yet unsure about how the West Indies would show its unity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The West Indies are in England for the #RaisyourBat series for the Wisden Trophy.

The three-Test series begins July 8 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton with two other games scheduled for Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester.

Ben Stokes wants to continue with the same mindset should the England captaincy be bestowed upon him in the coming weeks.

England return to Test action next month with three matches against West Indies in the bio-secure stadiums in Manchester and Southampton, and they are set to be without skipper Joe Root when the first contest begins on July 8. 

Root is due to leave the team bubble to be with his wife for the birth of their second child and he will require a seven-day period of self-isolation before returning to camp.

That means vice-captain Stokes is set to deputise as skipper, despite concerns from former captain Kevin Pietersen that such a role would curb the all-rounder's attacking instincts.

Stokes is determined to remain the same man, though, even if he admits it will be hard to get the ball out of his hand when he is on a roll.

Stokes said: "If it's flat, I'll just chuck the ball to Jofra [Archer] and Broady [Stuart Broad] and Jimmy [Anderson] and say, 'On you go!'

"It is a tough one because when Joe asks me to come and bowl… if I'm not bowling well I know, right, I'm probably going to be taken off here.

"But then when I feel like I'm in a really good rhythm and don't want to be taken off, Joe doesn't say, 'Keep going.' He sort of looks and goes, 'One more?' And he'll say that for another four or five overs.

"I guess I might have to be a little bit more mindful as I'm the person who's making that decision, but if I've got the ball in my hand or I've got the bat in my hand, I would like to think I'm still going to have to that same mentality as I always do.

"I've been in so many different situations in the field as a batter and as a bowler that I can always relate back to them and think, 'Right, what did Joe expect of me in this situation?' But it's a tough one isn't it to know if you are feeling good as a bowler when to keep yourself on."

While others such as Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss and Root had been earmarked to be England captain long before they were eventually handed the role, Stokes acknowledged few would have considered him as a skipper-in-waiting.

However, the 29-year-old believes he is ready for the position having played in 63 Tests since his debut in 2013.

"I've been a senior player since 2016 under Cooky and since Joe's been in charge," he added.

"Being able to learn from Alastair Cook and Rooty in terms of different situations throughout the game has rubbed off on me and will put me in good stead for all the different situations that a Test match can throw at you.

"At the same time, we've got some really experienced guys out in the field who I can use. We've got Jimmy, Broady, who've just got ample Test matches and wickets between them. There's so many people that you can throw ideas off.

"I would like to think I would be quite an open captain and wouldn't want my way is the only way. I don't think that's the best way to operate.

"There's 11 guys out in the field so why not get 10 other opinions on something that you're thinking about?"

The West Indies have become the latest team to don the logo of the Black Lives Matter campaign, skipper Jason Holder and co, having it affixed to the collar of the outfits set to be worn during the #RaisetheBat Test series, starting July 8.

The West Indies are in England to challenge for the Wisden Trophy, they won last year in the Caribbean.

The logo, designed by Alisha Hosannah, partner of Watford Football Club captain Troy Deeney, features a clenched fist, along with the words Black Lives Matter. The word ‘Black’ has the logo inserted where the ‘a’ should be.

Reports out of England are that the CWI approached Deeney for permission to use the logo as per the International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations.

“This is a pivotal moment in history for sports, for the game of cricket and for the West Indies cricket team. We have come to England to retain the Wisden Trophy but we are very conscious of happenings around the world and the fight for justice and equality. We believe we have a duty to show solidarity and also to help raise awareness," said Holder.

According to Holder, the decision to wear the Black Lives logo was not taken lightly and that the West Indies understand very well, the position they hold in regard to the fight for equality.

As a group of young men, we know of the rich and diverse history of West Indies cricket and we know we are guardians of the great game for generations to come.

“We did not take our decision lightly. We know what it is for people to make judgments because of the colour of our skin, so we know what it feels like, this goes beyond the boundary.

There must be equality and there must be unity. Until we get that as people, we cannot stop. We have to find some way to have equal rights and people must not be viewed differently because of the colour of their skin or ethnic background.”

According to Deeney, he and his partner are delighted to be part of the statement the West Indies chose to make in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign.

“Alisha and I are immensely proud to be asked and take part in a monumental moment in world sport, this amazing decision by the West Indies cricket team to show their support for Black Lives Matter. When I got the call, I didn’t hesitate to respond, because I know as sportspersons in the spotlight, how important our efforts are to bring about change and the role we play in moving towards change in our society," said Deeney.

Deeney said growing up, the West Indies were part of what shaped his childhood.

“Watching cricket with my grandad, and seeing Brian Lara transcend from being a cricketer to a worldwide superstar, shaped my childhood, so it’s great to be able to help West Indies Cricket show their support in such a meaningful way.”

West Indies will play England in three Test matches behind closed doors – the first at the at Ageas Bowl in Southampton and the other two at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, where they are presently based.

Due to COVID19 they have been training and live in a “bio-secure” environment as part of the comprehensive medical and operations plans to ensure player and staff safety.

The Football Association (FA) says it will make 82 people redundant as the governing body braces for approximate losses of £300million caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

While COVID-19 brought mass disruption to sport across the world, it also caused many other industries to come to a standstill, and the FA has been impacted by more than just the three-month suspension of football.

All events due to be held at Wembley Stadium since March have been unable to go ahead, while all future bookings for the year – which include concerts and NFL matches – had to be scrapped.

Hospitality revenue for Wembley Stadium brings in an estimated £35m to the FA every year, but the not-for-profit organisation considers that figure to have "completely fallen away and will probably take years to recover".

The financial implications of the pandemic have forced the FA to analyse all areas of the business for cost-saving purposes, but CEO Mark Bullingham revealed the situation worsened to an extent where staff need to be cut.

In a statement published to the FA's website, Bullingham wrote: "The high level of uncertainty in our landscape means that we have had to plan for a whole range of potential scenarios. As previously communicated, we are currently planning for potential losses of approximately £300million. As a not-for-profit organisation, this will hit us hard.

"Therefore, over recent months, we have forensically analysed the budget of every division within The FA in order to identify the most suitable areas to make costs savings; and the situation has worsened to a point where we now need to reduce the size of The FA in order to deal with the financial impact of the crisis.

"We are proposing to make 124 positions redundant. Because we halted recruitment the day we left the offices in March, we are able to take 42 vacant positions out of the structure, which means that we are proposing to remove 82 roles from the organisation.

"Proposing redundancies is the toughest cost-saving measure that any organisation can consider implementing, but we believe that we must now adapt and future-proof the organisation to ensure our cost base reflects a future with significantly lower revenues.

"We have a responsibility to preserve our core functions that regulate and serve English football. We also have a duty to support our men's and women's senior teams in their efforts to win major tournaments.

"That means we have set out in our proposals some difficult choices because we do not think we can afford to do all the things that we did before. We believe the impact of this crisis is to force us to focus more than ever on our key priorities."

England's "fragile" top order will be the target of Pakistan in their upcoming Test series, according to captain Azhar Ali.

A 20-man squad travelled to England on Sunday for the tour, which begins with three Tests, with 18 of Pakistan's initial 29-man group having been given the all-clear following the latest coronavirus tests.

Fast bowler Musa Khan and wicketkeeper Rohail Nazir have joined those 18 in making the trip.

Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz were among those to test positive for COVID-19 and those who have been infected must return two negative tests before they can travel to England.

Pakistan are set to face an England side who have struggled to replace Alastair Cook since his retirement from international duty in 2018.

Excluding nightwatchman Jack Leach, England have used five different opening pairings and found consistency hard to come by.

The obdurate Rory Burns displayed promise in the Ashes, while Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Joe Denly will be in contention to open alongside him when England face West Indies in a three-match series starting on July 8, prior to the Pakistan games.

"Their bowling attack is brilliant in their own conditions and there is no doubt about it," Azhar said prior to Pakistan's departure for England.

"Other than Jofra Archer we have faced all of them - [Stuart] Broad, [James] Anderson, [Chris] Woakes, [Ben] Stokes and even [Mark] Wood was there, but we have still won against them.

"Looking at their batting, their top order has been fragile for some time since Alastair Cook retired.

"They have tried a lot of combinations lately and might be looking a bit more settled, but they haven't been really confident with it. So there is something for us in it to look at."

Fast bowlers Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi might be lacking in experience of English conditions, but Azhar has confidence in their ability to overcome a lack of practice on the surfaces they will encounter.

"In terms of number of games, of course England have tons of experience in their bowling," Azhar added. "But we have the skills: they [our bowlers] are young and have a lot to offer. They can give trouble to any team in the world. In a very short time, they have achieved a lot and that is a good sign.

"You can't buy experience immediately, and for that you obviously have to play more, but then we have a very experienced coaching staff with Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed.

"Their expertise and knowledge can be utilised and they will be helping them. So I believe, when this combo of experience and skill is brought together, that we can produce a great result. I am confident about this."

West Indies paceman Alzarri Joseph says he is a better bowler today than the one who faced England in England three years ago.

Joseph had a torrid time of the one Test he played in England during the 2017 Wisden Trophy, toiling for 22 overs without a wicket at a cost of 109 runs.

“I think I have made some improvements as a bowler. That was a big learning experience for me, my first time in England. So I have some experience here now so I know now how to bowl in these conditions in my second time around,” said Joseph.

According to Joseph, the key to bowling in England is making small adjustments to the increased movement in the ball.

“The ball does a bit more here in England than in the Caribbean. There are just some slight adjustments. Nothing too big,” the paceman said.

Joseph and the West Indies will be going into the second of their warm-up games ahead of the July 8 start to the battle for the Wisden Trophy.

In his first outing, a three-day encounter earlier this week, Joseph picked up 4-60 as a team captained by Jason Holder drew with another skippered by Kraigg Brathwaite.

Still, Joseph isn’t using the practice games to impress the coach into putting him in the final 11 for the July 8 series start, but rather, is ensuring he is ready if that happens to be the case.

“I see this as an opportunity to get some more overs under my belt, some more time out in the middle to get used to the conditions. I’m just looking to stay consistent. I think I bowled pretty well, so I am just looking to repeat what I did last game,” he said.

Joseph has had some trouble with injuries in recent times but feels he is fitter and stronger and more able to deal with the rigours of Test cricket.

“I put it down to a lot of hours on the training ground trying to improve my strength and my conditioning. Working on bowling consistently for longer periods,” he said of his recovery.

As far as fitting into a four-pronged pace attack which is expected to give England some trouble, Joseph is banking on the element of surprise.

Obviously those three [Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, JasonHolder] guys have a lot more experience than I do, so more often than not, teams may see me as the weak link,” said Joseph.

“I can use that as an advantage for me because I know my abilities. They might not know but once I get in on the day and get the job done I know I can get on top of any opponent.”

Tell me I’m wrong isn’t a call to prove myself to be a better cricket analyst than anybody else but rather, expresses the hope that all West Indians have ahead of the team’s historic bio-secure Test series against England beginning July 8.

England's training squad have all tested negative for coronavirus ahead of the Test series against West Indies.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have carried out a total of 702 tests during June, involving not just players but also members of the coaching team and staff at the two bio-secure venues - the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford - set to host the upcoming matches.

All those checked were clear of COVID-19, the governing body confirmed on Wednesday. The first Test starts on July 8.

"The England and Wales Cricket Board can confirm that 702 COVID-19 tests were carried out between June 3 and June 23 with several stakeholder groups working at the bio-secure venues of the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford," a short statement read.

"These groups include players, support staff, match officials, ECB staff, venue staff and hotel staff. We can confirm that all 702 tests were negative."

All of England's players bar Jofra Archer arrived at the Ageas Bowl, which stages the series opener, on Tuesday to take part in a behind-closed-doors camp.

Paceman Archer is set to join up with his team-mates on Thursday, his delayed arrival coming after a member of his household felt unwell over the weekend.

After starting out at the Ageas Bowl, England and West Indies will move up to Manchester for the remaining two Tests.

Mohammad Hafeez says he has tested negative for coronavirus after being one of 10 players who the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) revealed to have contracted COVID-19.

On Tuesday the PCB said seven of its team members and a masseur had tested positive, with three others having been found to have the virus on Monday ahead of a scheduled tour to England.

However, on Wednesday Hafeez claimed he did not have coronavirus, tweeting a picture of a test result that showed he was negative.

The all-rounder said he and his family got the all-clear after seeking a second opinion.

England and Pakistan are due to play three Tests and three Twenty20 Internationals from the end of July until September. 

The PCB said the latest players to test positive, aside from Hafeez, were Fakhar Zaman, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan and Wahab Riaz, along with masseur Malang Ali. 

In a statement, the PCB said its medical panel was "already in contact with these players and the masseur, who have been instructed to observe strict quarantine at their homes for their and their families' wellbeing". 

It remains to be seen if Hafeez's latest result will allow him to be free of the same quarantine restrictions.

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon could not resist a lighthearted quip when asked about the prospect of an unexpected Test series against Ashes rivals England.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with the 2020 sporting calendar and cricket has not been spared the scheduling headache caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.

Test cricket is set to resume next month with a behind-closed-doors series between England and West Indies.

Pakistan are due to tour England for three Tests and three T20 internationals immediately after, but the confirmation of 10 positive tests for coronavirus among Misbah-ul-Haq's squad has led to concerns over those matches.

Officials said plans to play Pakistan remain on track but there have been some murmurings that Australia, who are due to feature in a rescheduled limited-overs tour of England in September, could be asked to play some red-ball cricket should the matches with Pakistan be curtailed.

Asked about that possibility, Lyon replied with a smile: "It just sounds like England want the Ashes back ASAP!"

Australia's own plans are up in the air, with uncertainty over August's home ODI series with Zimbabwe, while the T20 World Cup – which is slated to take place in the country across October and November – may yet be moved to early next year.

"I've got no idea when we're playing next or when potential tours are or anything," Lyon added.

"There's so many balls up in the air. I'm not qualified to be making any arrangements.

"We know something will come eventually. It's just about getting some really good preparation under our belt."

Lyon has another target in his sights for later in the year, namely gaining revenge on India for Australia's 2018-19 Test-series defeat on home soil.

It was the first time India had won a red-ball series in Australia and Lyon wants to make amends when Virat Kohli's side are back for four Tests, the first of which starts in December.

"You never like losing series or games of cricket for Australia," Lyon said.

"India a couple of years ago, they outplayed us. But we're looking forward to having those guys come here, it's getting up there to the pinnacle series alongside the Ashes.

"They've got a side full of superstars and it's going to be an amazing challenge this Australian summer when they get out here."

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