Vasbert Drakes says the pace of former sprinter Chemar Holder can make a fierce West Indies attack even more potent in the Test series against England.

Uncapped 22-year-old Holder was named in the touring party following some outstanding domestic performances for Barbados Pride in the West Indies Championship.

The Barbadian gave a demonstration of his huge potential back in 2016 when the Windies won the Under-19 Cricket World Cup and could make his senior debut during a three-match series in England, which starts behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl next Wednesday.

Former West Indies fast bowler and assistant coach Drakes has helped to nurture Holder's talent and thinks he can cause England problems if he is given an opportunity.

Drakes told Stats Perform News: "I've known Chemar from a young age, he went to school with my son, Dominic, and they have come through the system together and been part of the group of West Indies Emerging Players.

"I have done some one-to-one coaching work with him and he's got some good attributes, good skill sets. He's a hard worker and used to be a sprinter, he was a 400 metres runner and also competed in the 1500 metres.

"When he gets it right, he's consistently in the high 80s [miles per hour]. The only way to find out if he's ready is to throw him in at the deep end against England.

"He would have played against England A team last year and would have gone to England the year before that as part of the Emerging Players group, so he would have had the experience of bowling in those conditions."

Kemar Roach was among 12 members of the Windies squad who Drakes worked with before they flew out to England for the first international cricket since the coronavirus pandemic brought the vast majority of sport to a halt.

Roach was man of the series when West Indies won a Test series against England in the Caribbean last year and Drakes, who was assistant coach for that 2-1 triumph, says he can make a big impact again.

Asked if Roach will be the spearhead of the attack, he replied: "Absolutely. One of the things he did well last year was he took early wickets.

"Without giving away too much methodology in how to deconstruct the opposition gameplan and counter them, Kemar Roach has the ability to take early wickets, releasing the ball from wide of the crease and moving away from batsmen - particularly the right-handers.

"His track record against left-handers is phenomenal and England have some left-handers. Kemar and Jason [captain Holder], they set the tone along with [Alzarri] Joseph and Shannon Gabriel can be a threat with his pace and uncertainty he creates.

"It will be interesting to see if that combination can work as it did in the Caribbean."

England all-rounder Sam Curran will return to training this weekend after testing negative for COVID-19.

Curran pulled out of an intra-squad practice match in Southampton, which ends on Friday, as he was suffering from sickness and diarrhoea.

The 22-year-old was tested for coronavirus on Thursday and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revealed he has been given the all-clear.

Curran has been self-isolating in his hotel room at the Ageas Bowl but is set to re-join his team-mates ahead of the first Test against West Indies, which starts next Wednesday.

He will be tested for COVID-19 again on Sunday along with the rest of the England team and management group.

England all-rounder Sam Curran was tested for COVID-19 on Thursday after pulling out of the team's practice match in Southampton.

Curran was taken ill with sickness and diarrhoea overnight and has been self-isolating in his room at the Ageas Bowl.

A statement released by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) reported Curran was feeling better as the day progressed but would play no further part in the intra-squad warm-up game being played between sides captained by Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.

Curran scored 15 not out as Buttler's team posted 287-5 on Wednesday.

England are training and preparing at their Ageas Bowl "bubble" for the first of three behind-closed-doors Tests against West Indies, a series that begins next week.

Stokes will captain the hosts as skipper Joe Root attends the birth of his second child, with Curran's participation now a major doubt.

A left-arm swing bowler who also provides valuable lower-order runs, Curran played all six of England's away Tests in New Zealand and South Africa that comprised their 2019-20 winter schedule.

England will wear the Black Lives Matter logo on their shirts during the upcoming Test series against West Indies.

The Windies face England in behind closed doors games over the course of July, starting next Wednesday.

As a show of solidarity with the movement campaigning for racial equality, England's players will have "Black Lives Matter" displayed on the collar of their shirts throughout the three-match rubber after agreeing to do so with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

The emblem was designed by Alisha Hosannah, the partner of Watford captain Troy Deeney, and has been added to Premier League shirts for all games since the resumption of elite football in England last month.

West Indies' players will wear an identical logo on their shirts.

"It is important to show solidarity to the black community and to raise much-needed awareness around the topics of equality and justice," said England captain Joe Root, who will miss the first Test in Southampton due to the birth of his second child.

"The England players and management are unified in this approach and will use the platform of international cricket to fully support the objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists.

"There has to be equal opportunity and equal rights for all. We hope by making this stance we can play our part in standing shoulder-to-shoulder as a team and we hope that by continuing to raise awareness we can move towards a society in which the colour of your skin and your background has no bearing on your opportunities.

"It is very simple, we believe there is no room for racism or any form of discrimination, anywhere."

 

Ben Stokes is a talisman who will do a great job as stand-in captain for England in the first Test against West Indies, head coach Chris Silverwood has said.

Stokes will skipper the side as international cricket returns from the coronavirus-enforced hiatus at the Ageas Bowl on July 8, with England's regular Test captain Joe Root set to miss the opening game of the three-match series to be at the birth of his second child.

Root will have to self-isolate for seven days before returning to the England camp ahead of the final two Tests at Old Trafford as part of coronavirus protocols.

All-rounder Stokes will step into the breach, with Jos Buttler serving as vice-captain, and Silverwood has the utmost confidence in the Durham man to perform the role to a high standard.

"I think he will do a great job," Silverwood told reporters at a media conference. 

"He is a talisman, isn't he? He leads from the front anyway. He is conscientious of the people around him as well so I think he will do a great job in Joe Root's absence."

Asked what kind of captain he will be, Silverwood replied: "We will find out won't we?

"We know he has got an aggressive nature but equally there is a good cricket brain in there as well. 

"I think he will be quite thoughtful about what moves he is making out there. I'm looking forward to working with him from a coaching point of view. I will extend him the same courtesies I do Rooty. 

"He will have a lot of say in what is going on and he will play a big part in giving his opinions across selection as well.

"I think he's in a good position to do it, he's been Rooty's right-hand man for a while. I know Rooty does turn to him a lot. He's been in a lot of the talks we have behind the scenes so he's in a great place to pick up the reins."

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.

 

 

 

Australia ODI captain Aaron Finch hailed the consistency of India skipper Virat Kohli and said the rivalry between the two teams is just as big in limited-overs formats as it is Test cricket.

Kohli made his Test debut nine years ago and has gone on to become one of the game's greatest batsmen, as well as taking on the captaincy across all three formats.

There is little love lost on the field between Australia and India but Finch recognises Kohli's class, saying he is part of a group of players such as Steve Smith, Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar who define greatness.

"Every player, regardless of who it is, has a bad series. But very, very rarely do you see Kohli, Smith, even going back Ponting, Sachin, these guys they don't have two bad series in a row," Finch said on the Sony Ten Pit Stop show.

"The pressure of playing for India is one thing but also leading India is another and the way he has done it, so consistently for a long time.

"And taking over from [MS] Dhoni, the leadership, that is huge. The expectations were high and he kept delivering and I think that that is the most impressive thing.

"What has been so impressive for so long is just his consistency across three formats. To be the best player of all-time in ODI cricket is one thing. But then to also be in Test cricket and T20 cricket as a rounded player, that is remarkable."

Australia are scheduled to go head-to-head with India for three T20 matches in October, before beginning a four-Test series in December and rounding out with three ODIs in January next year.

The uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic means no fixtures are particularly set in stone right now, but Finch says the rivalry between Australia and India is hot regardless of the format.

"India and Australia are two very successful teams, two countries that are very passionate about cricket as well. So, it's hard to compare the rivalry [in Tests and ODIs]," Finch told reporters on virtual news conference.

"One is the traditional game of Test cricket and the grind of five days, that mental battle day in day out while one-day cricket is more skill-based obviously, just on that day. If a couple of guys have a great day on the field, it goes a long way in winning the match.

"That said, it's not a case of being less important or being taken lightly because it's ODI or T20 cricket."

The global health pandemic has seen Australia's home ODI series with Zimbabwe, which was scheduled for August, postponed indefinitely.

As things stand, T20 clashes with the West Indies and India in October that precede the T20 World Cup – which could still be rearranged – will be the next assignments for Australia.

But there remains the possibility of limited-overs matches being organised to take place in England, something Finch is preparing for.

"It's a little bit up in the air, just with how quickly everything is changing. In Victoria [where restrictions have been tightened] we are going the other way again," he said.

"We're not exactly sure when our next game is going to be. In our mind we were planning for Zimbabwe, we were planning for England, and all going well, I think that was our next game, that's what we are planning for.

"I am preparing to go to England and play, whether that happens we will wait and see.

"We just have to be really conscious of being ultra flexible. There might be a tour comes up at relatively short notice because we can get there, and that would be brilliant.

"Whatever it takes. The players are all in the same boat. Whatever we have to do to get a game up and going, that is in the best interest of world cricket, we’d be up for that."

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?"

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."

Pakistan will travel with an initial 20-man playing squad for the tour of England following the results from the latest round of coronavirus tests. 

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) released a statement to reveal the list of names who will be on the chartered flight to Manchester, as well as an update on the situations of those who had previously tested positive for COVID-19. 

Of the original 29-man squad, 18 received the all-clear following Thursday's checks, as well as 11 members of the support staff. 

They will be joined on the journey by fast bowler Musa Khan and wicketkeeper Rohail Nazir, who have also been tested twice in the past week. Zafar Gohar, meanwhile, will team up with the squad on their arrival in England.The left-arm spinner played a solitary one-dayer for Pakistan in 2015, though he will only be involved in pre-match preparations.

As for those not making the initial trip, they will not be able to travel until returning two successive negative results.  

Six players - Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz – have done so once and will be tested again next week with a view to joining their team-mates.

Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Kashif Bhatti and Imran Khan, along with masseur Malang Ali, all tested positive again, however. The PCB medical team has instructed them to remain in quarantine, with their progress to be monitored. 

"I want to reassure the players and the official left behind that the PCB will provide them the best support and look after them during the quarantine period," PCB chief executive Wasim Khan said in a statement.  

"It needs to be remembered that these players were asymptomatic, which means their chances of regaining complete fitness are higher and brighter than most. As soon as these players test negative twice through the PCB testing process they will be flown to England to join the squad. 

"I am aware Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz took personal tests outside of our process prior to the second PCB testing. While their results came up negative, as per the PCB testing programme, they are deemed to have one negative test following a positive test.  

"Therefore, once they are retested and receive a second negative result under the PCB testing programme, they will be available to join the squad in England."

Pakistan are scheduled to play three Tests and a trio of Twenty20 fixtures against England.

 

Pakistan squad travelling to England: Azhar Ali (captain), Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Ahmad, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Rohail Nazir, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Usman Shinwari, Yasir Shah. 

Pakistan's cricketers will arrive in England as planned on Sunday despite 10 of their players testing positive for coronavirus.

England are set to face Pakistan in three Tests and three T20 internationals across July and August but the tour was thrown into doubt over the past week as the initial 29-man touring party was struck by a raft of COVID-19 cases.

Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan and Wahab Riaz all tested positive.

The ECB said in a statement that players testing positive will not be allowed to travel with the advanced group, with Hafeez's status unclear after the all-rounder tweeted a picture of a negative test and claimed he had received the all-clear.

Test captain Azhar Ali, white-ball counterpart Babar Azam and the remaining players will use Worcestershire's New Road as their training base during their mandatory 14-day isolation period before transferring to Derbyshire's County Ground.

Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Musa Khan and Mohammad Nawaz have been named as reserves for the Pakistan squad and could make the trip subject to returning negative coronavirus tests.

England's home season has been delayed by the global pandemic but they will host West Indies at the Ageas Bowl next month in the first of three Tests.

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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