Cricket Australia (CA) has announced the one-off Test against Afghanistan and the ODI series against New Zealand have been postponed due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Australia were due to face Afghanistan in the longest format for the first time in Perth in November, but that one-off game will not go ahead as planned. 

The rescheduled IPL season - which is due to finish in early November - created issues over Australian players quarantining upon their return from the Twenty20 tournament in the United Arab Emirates. 

New Zealand's limited-overs tour in January 2021 has also been called off amid "the challenges around international travel and quarantine restrictions" caused by the global health pandemic. 

CA hopes to find new dates for the fixtures in the coming years, with the postponements meaning India will be the only international side to visit Australia during the 2020-21 season.

"Cricket Australia looks forward to working with our good friends at the Afghanistan Cricket Board and New Zealand Cricket to deliver the matches at a time when, hopefully, the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have eased," CA's interim CEO Nick Hockley said in a statement.

"We all worked incredibly hard to make the series happen this summer, but the challenges around international travel and quarantine restrictions ultimately convinced all parties that the series would need to be played at a later date.

"CA looks forward to welcoming the Indian men's team for a full schedule of matches this summer in what promises to be an incredible contest across all three formats.

"CA would also like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful partners for their understanding and support as we have navigated the complexities of hosting international sport during a pandemic to deliver a thrilling summer across men's and women's cricket at international and domestic level."

Australia are due to face India in a four-Test series, as well as three one-dayers and a trio of Twenty20 fixtures. Details over the schedule are yet to be confirmed.

West Indies players account for the lions share of those considered the best to ever play the game as SportsMax completed its Ultimate XI T20 team ahead of the start of the Hero Caribbean Premier League on Tuesday.

A combination of a panel of experts, the SportsMax Zone, and fans who voted online called fanalysts completed voting on the SportsMax Ultimate XI team with a final discussion on three impact players.

The final six players from which the three were chosen were West Indians

Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, and Andre Russell, Australian Shane Watson, Pakistani Shahid Afridi, and Indian Yuvraj Singh.

The panel, made up of cricket commentator and broadcast journalist, Fazeer Mohammed, cricket umpire Chris Taylor, and statistician, Zaheer Clarke, picked an all-West Indian cast as their impact players, in complete agreement with the SportsMax Zone and Fanalysts.

There was one dissenting voice among the panellists with Fazeer deciding on Shane Watson over Kieron Pollard, however, Clarke and Taylor’s votes were enough to overrule him.

With all parties, the Zone, the panel, and fanalysts in agreement, the final list of the greatest T20 team of all time is complete.

The openers are Chris Gayle and David warner, the middle-order, batsmen 3-5 are Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the bowlers are Sunil Narine, Rashid Khan and Lasith Malinga, while the impact players are Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Powell and Andre Russell.

The Ultimate XI T20 team is made up of five West Indians in Gayle, Narine, Bravo, Pollard, and Russell, while Kohli and Dhoni make up the Indian contingent. Then there is the South African representation in de Villiers, one Australian in Warner, a Sri Lankan in Malinga, and the Afghan Rashid.

Fans and the SportsMax Zone were not in agreement with a panel of experts, who made a decision on its picks for SportsMax’s Ultimate XI T20 bowlers today.

The panel on the set of the Zone, made up of former West Indies fast bowler and cricket commentator Ian Bishop, cricket umpire Chris Taylor, and statistician Zaheer Clarke, along with Tom Moody and Vernon Singer (offset), have picked Sunil Narine, Rashid Khan and Lasith Malinga as their three bowlers.

The Afghan Rashid, the Sri Lankan Malinga and the West Indian Narine, were picked from a group of six that included India’s Jasprit Bumrah, South Africa’s Dale Steyn, and Australia’s Mitchell Starc.

Jasprit’s exclusion is where the bone of contention lies.

According to the SportsMax Zone, while Malinga and Narine are shoo-ins, Rashid was not.

In Rashid’s stead, the Zone has picked Jasprit.

In coming up with SportsMax’s Ultimate XI T20, there is a three-way split in the decision-making process with the panel’s picks accounting for 40% of votes, while the Zone has 25, and fans who vote online have a 35% stake in who makes the team.

Fans, so far, have agreed with the SprotsMax Zone’s take on the three best bowlers the T20 game has ever seen, also picking Jasprit to go alongside Narine and Malinga.

There is still an opportunity for the fans to change their minds, but at the moment, they are joining the zone in beating back the opinions of the expert panel.

So far, the panel has picked Chris Gayle and David Warner as its openers, Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and AB de Villiers as its middle order to go along with Rashid, Narine and Malinga as its bowlers.

Tomorrow the panel will go about whittling down what are termed impact players in a bid to come up with its version of an Ultimate XI.

The Zone has differed in small ways to date, picking Rohit Sharma to go along with Gayle as well as picking Jasprit over Rashid.

Fans have stuck even closer to the panel to date. As far as openers and the middle order are concerned they are in complete agreement but have veered away with the bowling choices, choosing the same way as the Zone.

But the voting isn’t finished and fans, called fanalysts, can vote by clicking here or going to SportsMax.tv and just clicking on the Ultimate XI tab at the top of the screen.

SportsMax.tv has also built a list of profiles where Fanalysts can go to have a look at the careers of the players who have made the SportsMax Ultimate XI shortlist just in case you want to learn a little more about them before making your choice. To take a look at those players click here.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has officially launched the inaugural ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League, starting with England's one-day series against Ireland.

Introduced to help bring context to 50-over cricket at the highest level, the Super League will be used as a qualification system for the next ICC World Cup, scheduled for 2023 in India.

There will be 13 teams involved – the 12 full members, as well as the Netherlands – and the top seven in the final table will automatically secure their place at the global tournament, the ICC confirmed in a statement.

All sides will play four series at home and away, with each consisting of three matches.

"The league will bring relevance and context to ODI cricket over the next three years, as qualification for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 is at stake," Geoff Allardice, ICC general manager for cricket operations, said.

"The Super League gives cricket fans around the world even more reasons to watch as the drama of league cricket unfolds.

"The decision last week to move the World Cup back to late 2023 gives us more time to schedule any games lost due to COVID-19 and preserve the integrity of the qualification process, meaning it will be decided on the field of play, which is important."

Reigning world champions England will kick things off this week when they start their series against Ireland, the first of three matches between the teams taking place at the Rose Bowl on Thursday.

"We're looking forward to playing cricket again and to the ICC Men's World Cup Super League," England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan said.

"Given the situation, it will be quite different to the last time we played at home, when we lifted the World Cup at Lord's, but it's nice to be starting our journey for the next edition of the tournament. 

"I'm sure cricket fans all over the world will be excited to see white-ball cricket resume and we're looking forward to the challenge."

Defending Hero Caribbean Premier League Champions (CPL), the Barbados Tridents, have earned the prized signing of the world’s number-one T20 bowler in Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan.

The Tridents were pulling off a coup on last year’s beaten finalists the Guyana Amazon Warriors, for whom Rashid would have last played for in the CPL.

Rashid will be joined by a team similar to the one that claimed the CPL title in 2020, as the Tridents have retained Jason Holder, Harry Gurney, Johnson Charles, Shai Hope, Hayden Walsh Jr, Ashley Nurse, Jonathan Carter, Raymon Reifer and Justin Greaves.

In yesterday’s CPL draft, the Tridents also picked untested Pakistan medium-fast bowler Shayan Jahangir, Afghan wicketkeeper-batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz and re-drafted Kyle Mayers.

In addition, they have also picked up powerful English opener Alex Hales, despite a relatively lean time with the team last season.

Hales will be joined by new signing Australian middle-order batsman Marcus Stoinis and West Indies under-19 standout Nyeem Young.

Barbados Tridents: Rashid Khan, Jason Holder, Marcus Stoinis, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Johnson Charles, Shai Hope, Hayden Walsh Jr, Ashley Nurse, Jonathan Carter, Raymon Reifer, Kyle Mayers, Joshia Bishop, Nyeem Young, Justin Greaves, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, and Shayan Jahangir.

Tiger Woods did not only win the 2000 U.S. Open on June 18, he did so having obliterated the rest of the field.

Two decades ago, no one could get near to Woods and his record-breaking performance at Pebble Beach.

Mike Catt got much closer to Jonah Lomu five years earlier, not that he was able to stop him, while Eoin Morgan was delivering his own dominant performance on June 18, 2019.

Here we take a look at three major sporting events to have occurred on June 18 in previous years.

 

1995 - Lomu steamrollers England

Lomu delivered perhaps the finest individual performance at a Rugby World Cup match when starring for New Zealand against England in the 1995 semi-final.

The wing scored four tries as the All Blacks won 45-29 against an England side that simply could not contain the All Blacks' number 11.

His first score was the best, as Lomu collected a ball that bounced behind him, held off two England players and then dismissively ploughed over Catt when off-balance before dotting down.

In another incredible demonstration of speed, Lomu crossed for the fourth time when side-stepping Catt to leave the England back grasping at air.

 

2000 - Woods goes wire-to-wire at Pebble Beach

Stating Woods was the wire-to-wire winner at the 2000 U.S. Open only begins to explain his dominance given his eventual major record 15-stroke advantage.

Woods arrived at the 100th U.S. Open as a two-time major champion and a third looked assured even before the weekend as he had a six-shot lead after 36 holes.

Only playing against himself by the Sunday, Woods parred the opening nine holes before reeling off four birdies in five holes en route to a final-round 67. It was the first of four majors in a row that Woods would win - which became known as the 'Tiger Slam'.

 

2019 - Aerial Eoin dismantles Afghanistan attack

Prior to hosting the World Cup on home soil in 2019, England players had mused on the possibility of becoming the first team in ODI history to score 500 runs.

It did not quite happen, but the reason for such optimism was evident when they took Afghanistan's attack apart in making 397-6 in a group-stage game at Old Trafford.

Several records did fall as captain Morgan made the most sixes in an ODI (17), England accrued the most maximums in an ODI (25) while poor Rashid Khan went for 0-110 off his nine overs.

Morgan, who would end up lifting the trophy later that tournament, finished with a frankly ridiculous 148 from 71 balls before England claimed a 150-run success.

WACA chief executive Christian Matthews and chairman Terry Waldron have vented their frustrations after Cricket Australia (CA) decided against using Perth as a venue for a planned Test series against India.

Cricket across the globe is currently on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, though a schedule for Australia has been drawn up for later in the year.

After facing Zimbabwe in a three-match ODI series at venues yet to be determined, Australia will play three Twenty20s against both West Indies and India.

Perth Stadium will then host a one-off Test against Afghanistan in November, with a four-Test series against India – along with three ODIs – scheduled for December.

However, the Perth venue has not been selected to host any of the Tests, with Brisbane preferred, a decision which has left WACA's top officials bemused.

"This is the second time we haven't had India scheduled, the last time we were told it was because our venue wasn't good enough and if we supported a new stadium, this would never happen again, and here we are again," CEO Matthews told reporters.

"I want to make it clear, hosting a Test is a privilege, not a right and we understand that, and we're as privileged to host Afghanistan as anyone else and we'll certainly put on a really good show and welcome Afghanistan to the Test arena in Australia.

"But suffice to say, not having India tour here for the second time in six years is very disappointing for us, for our members, for our fans, and I daresay for the government who has put in a lot of time and effort into creating a stadium that has been recognised around the world as the most beautiful stadium in the world and in fact, was rated as the second-best cricket ground in Australia in a survey.

"So we've been a little bit bemused and disappointed how we haven't been scheduled for one of the prime series in the cricket calendar."

WACA chairman Waldrom added: "I actually think it's the wrong decision, we made a really compelling case, along with the government to CA, I looked at that again this morning, and when I went through it, I just can't understand why they'd make that decision.

"I do understand it's difficult for CA, they have to make the call and we will now pick up the cudgels and we'll get on with it. Afghanistan are an exciting, emerging team.

"But I am disappointed and I actually think it is a kick in the guts to WA, to all our cricket-loving people in WA and to our WACA members.

"When you've got one of the best stadiums in the world and when you've got the second-best cricket venue, the time slot back to India for TV, to me it's a no brainer.

"I understand it's a tough decision for CA, good luck to Queensland and we wish them all the best. We'll keep putting the pressure on because we've got a responsibility to cricket in WA, to cricket supporters, to fans and to our members."

Cricket Australia (CA) has released a full international schedule for 2020-21, with the four-Test series against India to begin at the Gabba on December 3.

CA revealed the fixtures for Australia's men's and women's teams on Thursday and the schedule is packed despite fears that matches may have to be cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The men's team, who have not played since March when a one-day international series against New Zealand was cancelled after just one game, are due to first face Zimbabwe in three ODIs, beginning on August 9 at a venue yet to be determined.

After playing three T20s against West Indies and then India, Australia will host Afghanistan in a one-off Test in Perth that starts on November 21 before taking on Virat Kohli's team again in four Tests and three ODIs.

Their home season will conclude with a four-match ODI series against New Zealand in January and February.

The Australia women's team are set to return to action in September with a T20 series against New Zealand, who they will then meet in three ODIs prior to another series in that format against India in January.

The headline series for the men's team is undoubtedly the four-Test dual with Kohli's India, which will take place in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

In announcing the fixtures, CA CEO Kevin Roberts conceded the final schedule may have to be tweaked depending on the spread of the coronavirus over the coming weeks and months.

"While acknowledging the difficulty in navigating a global pandemic, we are nonetheless encouraged by the progress Australia is making in combatting the coronavirus and the positive impact that is having on our ability to host an exciting summer of cricket in 2020-21," Roberts said.

"We know that circumstances or events beyond our control could mean that the final schedule potentially may look different to the one released today, but we'll be doing everything we can to get as much international cricket in as possible this summer. We will communicate any changes to the schedule if or when they are required. 

"We are engaged in ongoing discussions with federal and state governments, our venues and the touring nations to continually understand and monitor the situation in front of us, which is evolving every day. We'll continue to act in accordance with public health advice and government protocols to ensure the safety of the public, players and support staff."

India won the most recent Test series in Australia in 2018-19, the first time they had emerged victorious in that format Down Under.

Afghanistan international Shafiqullah Shafaq has been banned from all forms of cricket for six years after accepting four corruption charges.

Shafiqullah admitted to four breaches of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) anti-corruption code.

The charges against the 30-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman related to the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League T20 in 2018 and the 2019 Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).

A statement from the ACB revealed Shafiqullah had unsuccessfully attempted to get one of his team-mates to engage in corruption during a BPL match last year.

ACB senior anti-corruption manager Sayed Anwar Shah Quraishi said: "It is an alert for all those players who think their illegal activities concerning the game of cricket will not be disclosed to the ACB's ACU. Our coverage is vaster than what is perceived."

He added: "During our educational program, we always instruct players to report each suspicious activity in order to keep the game cricket and their own careers clean of any corrupt practices."

Shafiqullah's last appearance for his country came in a Twenty20 game against Bangladesh last September.

He has represented Afghanistan in 46 T20 fixtures and 24 one-dayers.

Kevin O'Brien hit a match-winning six as Ireland defeated Afghanistan in a dramatic super over to avoid a Twenty20 series whitewash.

With all three matches being played in Greater Noida, India, the series outcome was already decided after the opening two contests were won by Afghanistan, but that did not prevent a thrilling finale.

Ireland posted 142-8 after winning the toss and electing to bat, Afghanistan debutant Qais Ahmad and Naveen-ul-Haq combining for six wickets as Gareth Delany top-scored with 37.

In response, an innings of 42 from opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz set up an intriguing run chase which left his side needing 16 off the final over.

It looked like it was all over for Afghanistan when captain Asghar Afghan (32) was dismissed with three balls left and 13 runs still needed. 

But Rashid Khan, helped by two wides from bowler Josh Little, hit a four off the last delivery to thrillingly force a super over as they ended on 142-7.

Craig Young then superbly restricted Afghanistan to only eight and although Ireland initially stumbled, leaving them needing three off the final ball, man-of-the-match O'Brien cleared the ropes.

Afghanistan defeated Ireland by 21 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Twenty20 series.

Captain Asghar Afghan led the way with 49 from just 28 deliveries as Afghanistan – who won a rain-hit opening game between the teams on Friday - posted 184-4 in Greater Noida.

Openers Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz made 28 and 35 respectively while Mohammad Nabi contributed 27, with all Afghanistan's batsmen reaching double figures against an attack that used seven different bowlers.

Ireland’s reply was restricted by Mujeeb Ur Rahman, the spinner dismissing opening duo Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien on his way to figures of 3-38 from four overs.

Andy Balbirnie top-scored with 46 and Harry Tector hit 37, the latter becoming the last of Mujeeb's wickets, but they came well short in the final reckoning, finishing on 163-6.

Afghanistan will have the chance to complete a sweep when the third and final T20 takes place on Tuesday at the same venue.

Najibullah Zadran and Rashid Khan guided Afghanistan to an 11-run DLS victory over Ireland in the first of three Twenty20 International clashes.

Rain stopped play with Afghanistan on 133-5 after 15 overs, needing 40 runs from 30 balls as they chased down a victory target of 173 in Greater Noida, India.

Afghanistan beat West Indies in their most recent T20I series and Zadran ensured they got over the line on Friday, his 42 runs from 21 balls coming in a crucial partnership of 63 with Samiullah Shinwari (28).

Paul Stirling (60) and Kevin O'Brien (35) had earlier given Ireland an electric start, though their innings lost momentum after the openers had been dismissed, with Rashid recording impressive figures of 3-22 from his four overs.

West Indies all-rounder Nyeem Young and paceman Jayden Seales have made the ICC’s U19 Cricket World Cup Team of the Tournament.

The young West Indies finished fifth in the competition won by Bangladesh, who were claiming their maiden world title.

Despite not making it to the semi-final, the West Indies did have some impressive performances with both bat and ball.

Young, for instance, became the first West Indian to take a five-for (5-45) and score a half century (66) in an under-19 match when he helped the side to a dominant victory over England in the first round. His 61 was also instrumental in helping the West Indies get past Australia.

Young would end the tournament with an average of 28 with the bat and eight wickets from six games at an average of 26.75.

For his performances, Young makes the side as the designated number six batsman.

Understandably, further down the order lies Seales, who is an out-and-out strike bowler, having taken 10 wickets with a best of 4-19 against Australia at an impressive average of 18.3. He was also miserly when not taking wickets, ending the tournament with an economy rate of 3.89 runs per over.

Only India and Bangladesh have more players in the team of the tournament with Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ravi Bishnoi and Kartik Tyagi, making the cut.

Tournament winners Bangladesh have Mahmudul Hasan Joy and Shahadat Hossain making the team as batsmen, with Akbar Ali chosen to keep wicket.

Afghanistan, like the West Indies, have two players in the side with Ibrahim Zadran and Shafiqullah Ghafari making the cut.

Canada’s Akil Kumar is the team’s 12th man.

Asghar Afghan has been reappointed as Afghanistan captain in all formats, eight months after he was sacked.

Afghan was surprisingly axed in April, less two months before the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales. 

The decision to relieve Afghan of his duties was criticised by some of his team-mates, but the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) said they made the decision with an eye on the future.

Gulbadin Naib initially replaced the batsman as ODI skipper, with Rahmat Shah taking over the Test side and Rashid Khan named Twenty20 captain.

Rashid was handed the captaincy in all formats in July, but Afghan was reinstated on Wednesday – a little over two weeks before his 32nd birthday.

Spinner Rashid will be Afghan's deputy after his short reign was brought to an end.

Afghan led his country for four years in his first spell at the helm.

 

West Indies Test captain Jason Holder wants his side to be among the best in the world by July 2021 and goes further to expect a top-five ranking by then.

There was a time when that kind of brash talk would have been expected from a West Indian but not given the kind of lean times the region has had with bat and ball in the last 25 years.

Holder was speaking after the West Indies won its first Test match under new coach Phil Simmons in Lucknow, India, beating Afghanistan by nine wickets.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) started the World Test Championship on August 1, 2019, creating a league for the top nine Test-playing teams over two years with the top two teams qualifying for a World Test League Championship Final. The World Test Championship begins again in July of 2021.

That being said, the West Indies did not start their World Test Championship campaign very well, losing to India in the Caribbean in a largely one-sided affair.

But now, with the dominance the West Indies showed against Afghanistan, despite it not being a World Test Championship encounter, hope abounds once again.

"I think by the end of the Test Championship, I don't see it being impossible for us to be fourth or fifth in the world," said Holder.

"That would be a significant achievement in a two-year period. We've got some tough series coming up. We've got England, then South Africa coming to the Caribbean, then we've got New Zealand… all good cricket sides. But I don't think it's beyond us to beat them. We've just got to make sure we keep building and developing. Once we do that, we can compete with any side in the world. A realistic target in two years would be to be ranked three or four in the world."

According to Holder, while the game was not part of the World Test Championship, there was enough shown by the West Indies to offer a road map of what needed to be done to get into the top five.

"I've said it in the last couple of series we've played: more responsibility needs to be taken by our batters," Holder said.

"Once they do that and take the bull by the horns, I think our bowling attack has shown it can compete with any attack in the world. We've shown glimpses of brilliance, which is all well and good, but consistency is the name of the game. In order to be a world-class team, you have to be consistent with your batting. You have to get 20 wickets of course, but you have to set it up with the bat. First innings' count for a lot. If we can put teams under pressure with our first innings scores, more often than not, West Indies will be up there among the top-ranked sides in the world."

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