England maintained their 100 per cent record in Twenty20 games played at Sophia Gardens thanks to a resounding eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their series opener.

Jos Buttler made 68 not out as England made it seven wins from seven at the venue in Cardiff, this latest triumph sealed with 17 balls to spare as they easily overhauled Sri Lanka's below-par 129-7.

Jason Roy gave the chase a fast start with 36 from 22 deliveries in an 80-run opening stand with Buttler, who hit eight fours and a six during his 55-ball knock.

Wanindu Hasaranga did excel with the ball for the tourists, giving up just 12 runs in his four-over spell, while Isuru Udana bowled Dawid Malan for seven off 14 balls. Jonny Bairstow finished up unbeaten on 13.

Sri Lanka had earlier been indebted to a half-century from Dasun Shanaka, his second at international level in the format, having opted to bat first after winning the toss.

Danushka Gunathilaka made 19 at the top of the order and captain Kusal Perera contributed 30, but the tourists struggled for momentum as they slipped to 79-5 at the start of the 14th over.

Adil Rashid claimed 2-17 in four economical overs, while there was a wicket for Liam Livingstone too. Shanaka made sure Sri Lanka at least finished strongly, hitting three fours and a pair of sixes as 25 came from the final two overs, but their total was no problem for England's powerful batting line-up.


Opening role just perfect for Buttler

Buttler has made clear his desire to continue opening in T20 action for England - and the numbers support his case. This was his ninth half-century in 20 innings at the top of the order, with the milestone arriving from 38 balls with a pulled four to the square leg boundary.

Tourists toil again in format

Sri Lanka have lost 10 of their previous 11 completed T20 matches, a worrying run of form with a World Cup to come later in the year. They do not have to wait long for an opportunity to draw level in this series at least, as the teams meet again at the same venue on Thursday.

England will be looking to extend their winning streak against struggling Sri Lanka when the Twenty20 series begins on Wednesday in Cardiff.

The three matches between the nations provide an opportunity to continue building towards this year's T20 World Cup, though the hosts are without two key players due to injuries.

Fast bowler Jofra Archer is sidelined after surgery on his right elbow, while Ben Stokes is not yet ready to return to England duty following a broken finger. However, the all-rounder is playing again for Durham, suggesting an international comeback is not too far away.

Reece Topley is another to be ruled out of action, with England opting for David Willey as an alternative left-arm bowling option. Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan have been injury doubts ahead of the opening fixture, though captain Eoin Morgan said on Tuesday he expects both to be available.

England's limited-overs skipper was also asked again about the possibility of a return for Alex Hales, with the batsman having not played for England since being withdrawn from the 50-over squad just prior to the 2019 World Cup.

"There are conversations to be had between Alex, myself and the coach and potentially a few of the players," Morgan told the media. "Trying to get those happening in Covid times has been an issue. They will happen at some stage."

England have won three on the spin against Sri Lanka, who have been beaten in nine of their last 10 completed outings in T20 cricket. Their solitary win during the miserable run came against West Indies in March.

In that same month, England lost a hard-fought series in India, going down 3-2 to Virat Kohli's side. Bairstow is one of a number of players back in the fold after heading home from the Indian Premier League earlier than originally scheduled once the tournament was halted due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hosts have an unblemished record at Sophia Gardens in T20 action too, winning all six games played there. This will be the first time they have hosted Sri Lanka at the venue.


Jonny be good! 

After isolating upon his return from India, Bairstow has been in outstanding form in the domestic T20 competition, the Vitality Blast.

The right-handed batsman has made 295 runs in four outings for Yorkshire, including hitting 112 against Worcestershire when needing a runner for half of his innings due to an injured ankle. Still, there is little need to move when you can hit boundaries – he has managed 26 fours and 18 sixes while scoring at a strike-rate of 175.59 runs per 100 deliveries while in action for his county in that competition.

Opportunity knocks

Chris Woakes is back for England, having not featured in a T20 at international level since November 2015. Like Willey, he will hope to make the most of any opportunity that comes his way in the series, which sees two games staged in the Welsh capital before concluding at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

Sri Lanka, too, have some fresh faces: Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya Lakshan and Ishan Jayaratne have been included in a 24-man squad for both this series and the three one-dayers that follow. The tourists are without former captain Angelo Mathews, however.

Key series facts

- England lost their most recent men's T20I on home soil, against Australia in September 2020; however, the last time they lost two consecutive such matches at home was in August 2013.

- Since the beginning of 2020, Sri Lanka have the second lowest bowling dot-ball percentage (38.3 per cent) of any Test-playing country in the powerplay overs in men’s T20Is (Afghanistan 37.7 per cent).

- Sri Lanka have scored just 53.6 per cent of their runs from boundaries in powerplay overs in T20 games since the beginning of 2020, the lowest rate of any Test-playing country in that time.

- Morgan (201) needs just 13 runs to become the highest run-scorer in men's T20 clashes between England and Sri Lanka (Mahela Jayawardene – 213).

- Chris Jordan (12) needs just two wickets to become the highest wicket-taker in men's T20 games involving England and Sri Lanka (Lasith Malinga – 13).

George Garton has been given a first England call-up for the ODI series against Sri Lanka but Olly Stone misses out after suffering another stress fracture of his lower back.

Sussex's left-arm seamer, Garton is in line to make his debut in a three-match series versus Sri Lanka, which starts at Chester-le-Street on June 29.

Luckless paceman Stone has been ruled out for the remainder of the English summer, having played in a Test series-deciding defeat to New Zealand at Edgbaston.

Ben Stokes will make his return from a broken finger for Durham in the T20 Blast fixture against Birmingham Bears on Sunday, but the all-rounder has not been included in England's 16-man squad.

Pace trio Jofra Archer (elbow), Saqib Mahmood (abdominal) and Reece Topley (side strain) are making excellent progress with their recoveries from injury but will not face Sri Lanka.

Graham Thorpe will step in to take charge of the team as head coach Chris Silverwood takes a break, with Paul Collingwood set to take over duties for the Pakistan ODI series next month.

Silverwood said: "We have been monitoring the progress of George Garton for quite some time. He has been a significant part of Sussex's bowling unit in white-ball cricket for an extended period.

"His ability to bowl quick with his point of difference being a left-armer certainly gives us options in this series, and he deserves his chance at this level.

"This ODI series is important as we continue to build momentum ahead of the 2023 World Cup. Despite some injuries, the squad I have selected is strong and gives us depth across all departments. We are looking forward to competing and putting on a show for the fans."

He added of Stone's setback: "Unfortunately, following the second Test at Edgbaston against New Zealand, Olly Stone has been diagnosed with a stress fracture of his lower back and will miss the rest of the summer with the injury.

"It is a great shame as Olly was showing real promise with the ball and would have been part of our selection plans for this series."

 

England ODI Squad:

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, George Garton, Liam Livingstone, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Chris Woakes and David Willey have been named in England's squad for the Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka at the end of June.

A key component of the side that won the 50-over World Cup in 2019, Woakes has not featured in the shortest format at international level since November 2015.

Willey, meanwhile, will hope to get the chance to impress ahead of the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in October and November this year.

Liam Dawson is also included in a 16-man party that is minus the services of injured trio Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Reece Topley.

"With the T20 World Cup only a few months away, this summer is about perfecting our team and continue to progress on the field," England head coach Chris Silverwood said.

"We want to approach every series with an influx of players aiming to win every match and giving us the best preparation as we get closer to the tournament.

"With several high-profile players missing through injury, it allows me to look at some of our experienced players who have not featured at this level for some time.

"The likes of Chris Woakes and David Willey are very experienced cricketers, and to have them both in the mix is exciting and shows the depth of squad we have available.

"I want our team to play an attacking form of the game. I hope we can continue to excite the England fans with our approach."

The three-match series begins in Cardiff on June 23, with the second game also taking place at the same venue the following day. The Ageas Bowl will then host the finale on June 26.


England squad for T20 series against Sri Lanka:

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite was a happy man on Thursday upon hearing the news that his team is now sixth on the ICC Test rankings, up from eighth following improved performances against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in recent months.

Former Sri Lanka paceman Nuwan Zoysa has been hit with a six-year ban from all cricket after being found guilty of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.

The 42-year-old's suspension has been backdated to October 31, 2018 – the date when he was provisionally banned during his employment as Sri Lanka's bowling coach

An ICC Anti-Corruption Tribunal found Zoysa guilty of "being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of an international match".

He was also found guilty of "directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach Code Article 2.1". 

Zoya's third guilty charge was for "failing to disclose to the ACU [ICC Anti-Corruption Unit] full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the code".

"Mr Zoysa has also been charged by the ICC on behalf of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) with breaching four counts of the ECB Anti-Corruption Code for participants for the T10 League and those proceedings are ongoing," an ICC statement added.

The quick played 95 ODIs and 30 Tests for Sri Lanka, with his last international appearance coming in 2007.

Alex Marshall, ICC general manager – Integrity Unit, said: "Nuwan played 125 matches for Sri Lanka, attending a number of anti-corruption sessions during a decade-long international career.

"In his role as a national coach, he should have acted as a role model. Instead, he became involved with a corrupter and attempted to corrupt others.

"Contriving to fix a game betrays the basis of sporting principles. It will not be tolerated in our sport."

 

 West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, thinks losing the captaincy may have been a blessing in disguise for all-rounder Jason Holder, who he thinks is freer to be more himself without the additional responsibility.

After seven years in charge, Holder was replaced as captain of the Test team last month by Kraigg Brathwaite.  Brathwaite was himself promoted to the post after successfully taking charge during a successful tour of Bangladesh, which Holder had opted out of, along with 11 other players.

The change in circumstances has, however, not affected Holder’s play on the field and, equally importantly, he has been vocal with his encouragement of teammates on the field.  The previously mentioned characteristic is one many of his critics believe was absent during the majority of his tenure as captain.

 “Jason brought a different personality to the dressing room than what was in Bangladesh and it’s been working out nicely, especially the hard times in the field, Jason has been behind the guys, pushing us to do well.  I think him being skipper stopped that for a few years,” Mayers told SportsMax.tv’s The Commentators podcast.

“That’s the type of person he actually is.  A jovial person, always making fun, talking a lot.  I guess as captain being focused on the game, he couldn’t do that as much but now he is free, probably just trying to play as well as he can and be as free as he can,” he added.

“For me, if you are enjoying cricket more and you have less to worry about, it should make you better.  You focus more on yourself.”

Catch the full episode of The Commentators podcast below 

 

 

Promising West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, has expressed confidence at the prospect of becoming a top international Test cricket all-rounder, on the back of encouraging displays with both the bat and ball in recent months.

The attacking-minded Mayers burst on the scene with a stroke-filled 210 unbeaten in the first Test against Bangladesh, in February of this year.  However, against Sri Lanka last month, the player also had a good turn with the ball.  Not only extracting movement from a placid pitch but taking four wickets in the process, with just a short spell.

The display prompted some pundits to suggest that the player had the ability to become a dependable all-rounder for the squad if he could improve his overall fitness.

Bowling would not have been entirely new to Mayers, however, as he was at one point considered more of a bowling all-rounder, having claimed 71 wickets in 30 first-class matches at an average of 21.54.  Having displayed more prowess with the bat in recent months, Mayers is convinced that he can do both at the highest level in the mold of former West Indies captain Jason Holder, or England’s Ben Stokes, the world’s top-ranked all-rounders.

“I have it in me to do it.  I just have to become fitter,” Mayer’s told SportsMax’s The Commentators podcast.

“I just started Test cricket and people think watching it on tv, it’s very easy, it’s very hard.  I will always say that, and I will always let young people coming up know that if you want to play Test cricket you need to work very hard,” he added.

“Preparation is key for me to be up there with Jason.  It will take that hard work, but I believe I can do it for sure.  Having number one and maybe number two in the world can’t be so bad.  If they had two of the world’s best all-rounders the guys would be happy.”

 Catch full interview in the Podcast below

 

 

West Indies legend, Curtly Ambrose, has re-added his voice to the call for an end to the preparation of ‘placid’ pitches throughout the Caribbean for international and regional cricket fixtures.

In the light of the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka, which ended with two drawn games, several former players and Windies coach Phil Simmons has expressed dissatisfaction with the surface prepared for the tour.

The debate has, however, raged on long before that, with Ambrose himself listed among those previously suggesting that many of the pitches prepared are too flat and offer little assistance to bowlers. 

The West Indies, Sri Lanka series has only added to the dissatisfaction.  In both Test matches, Sri Lanka, then the West Indies, the teams enjoyed comfortable leads headed into the final day but ended up doing very little to disturb the batsmen in the pursuit of wickets.

“I have seen local cricket played at Sir Viv Richards cricket stadium where you have grass on the pitch and the ball bounces and carries with good pace … so it’s not a situation where it cannot be done,” Ambrose told the Good Morning Jojo Radio show.

“I felt that the pitches were a little too flat and I’ve been saying this for years — we need to prepare better cricket pitches where the batsmen could play their strokes and the ball bounces a bit for the bowlers,” he added.

Former Windies pace bowler, Richard 'Prof' Edwards, admits he is disappointed by what he believes to be the slow progress of promising pace bowler Alzarri Joseph.

The 24-year-old fast bowler has long been tipped to give West Indies the type of firepower typical of years gone by but is yet to completely deliver on that promise.

The young bowler has shown plenty of flashes of that prodigious talent.  He put in a strong performance against England, in 2019, and took a record-breaking six for 12 on his debut for Mumbai Indians.  Joseph has, however, not produced such performances consistently.  Joseph, who made his debut in 2016, has taken 38 Test wickets in 16 matches and 54 One Day International wickets in 34 matches.

“It’s disappointing that he does not seem to have gone on from the time he started until now, there doesn’t seem to be any great improvement,” Edwards told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“He seems to be bowling wide of the crease to right-handers, angling it.  He should get as close to the stumps as possible,” he added.

“He is not accurate, he had not been able to develop as much as you would have expected.  He is not a real swinger of the ball, he is athletic, he looks like he bowls pretty fast, but he is not doing much with the ball.”

 

Former West Indies fast bowler turned analyst, Richard ‘Prof’ Edwards, believes batsman Kyle Mayers could blossom into a genuine all-rounder for the regional team, buts needs to consider shedding a few pounds.

The 28-year-old has had a splendid start to his Test cricket career for the West Indies, bursting on stage with 210 on debut against Bangladesh.  The innings helped lay the foundation for an expected away series win and catapulted the player into the spotlight. 

In the recently concluded Test series against Sri Lanka, he again garnered some attention this time with the ball. His brisk medium pace accounted for batsman Oshada Fernando and later Dinesh Chandimal at a crucial period on the third day of the opening Test.  The wickets were the first of his international career.  Overall, Mayers ended with 28 overs, 13 maidens, and four wickets.   On the back of such displays, Edwards believes the player could have the makings of a solid all-rounder.

“He did well.  He was a surprise package to the Sri Lankans.  They didn’t expect him to get the ball to swing and by the time they realized it was too late and he had wickets,” Edwards said in assessing the player’s performance on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I’m saying that if he goes on and develops his bowling, he won’t trick batsmen as early as that again and he would have to consistently bowl well, but he can, he has the natural ability to bowl.  However, he has to lose about 25 pounds.  He is too young to have all that weight carrying around on him,” he added.

“He is a big strong guy, but he has got to drop 20 pounds at least.  He will bowl faster and he would be the genuine all-rounder in the side.  We wouldn’t be looking to get four overs out of him or five overs but he would be a fellow you can throw the ball to when you are looking to get wickets in a spell of eight overs are so.”  

 

Following the recently concluded 0-0 Test series between the West Indies and Sri Lanka, the first nearly since the nil-all stalemate between Bangladesh and South Africa in 2015, West Indies head coach Phil Simmons, believes Caribbean curators need to prepare better pitches, ones that can yield results.

The two sides battled to the two-Test stalemate in which some batsmen filled their boots but more often than not the bowlers struggled to get 20 wickets. In the first of the Test matches played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Sri Lanka failed to get 20 wickets in the match as the West Indies had scores of 271 and 236-4.

The local bowlers had early success bowling Sri Lanka out for 169 only to toil as the visitors scored a mammoth 476 in the second innings. In the second Test, West Indies made 354 and 280-4 while Sri Lanka had scores of 258 and 193 for 2.

In both matches, batting became much easier for both teams while the bowlers struggled.

The trend was not lost on the West Indies head coach.

“I think we from a country standpoint need to get better wickets where we can have Test matches that will create a result,” he said.

“Even if we lost a Test match after it’s gone to the fifth day, you will still think that we’ve done well to get to the fifth day and were in with a chance of winning the Test match, so I think that’s an important part of it.”

Notwithstanding the struggles of his bowling attack, Simmons said he was comfortable with what he has now.

“We had the bowlers there who we wanted to be in the Test team,” he said.

“Everybody else is still work in progress and still looking to put themselves in contention so right now these five bowlers are our main bowlers.”

 

Legendary West Indies fast bowler, Curtly Ambrose, believes the team could have been more aggressive in going for the win against Sri Lanka in the second and final Test but admitted to being pleased with the strides the team had made.

In the end, West Indies and Sri Lanka played to a 0-0 Test series draw with neither team really able to press home advantages at various stages in both matches.  In a reversal of fortunes, it was the West Indies who had headed into the final day of the final Test with a big lead and looking to put the pressure on the visitors.  The team, however, managed to take two wickets as Sri Lanka closed the day on 193 for 2.  Ambrose, however, believes the West Indies did not give themselves enough time to win the game.

“I think that we didn’t show enough intent to try and win that game. We batted too long in my opinion, we took too long to score the runs which means we didn’t have enough time to bowl out Sri Lanka on a very placid surface and I thought that the urgency in getting those quick runs wasn’t there. We batted too long,” Ambrose told the Antigua Observer.

During the second innings, with team captain Kraigg Brathwaite anchoring the unit on the third day, Ambrose believes the batting line-up should have been re-tooled in an attempt to score more quickly.

“We know the captain Kraigg Brathwaite isn’t going to take an attacker path. He is one of those guys who are going to bat for long and accumulate his runs and nothing is wrong with that,” Ambrose added.

“Kyle Mayers we know will go on the attack but I thought that later on after Kyle Mayers got out, we should have at least sent Jimbo [Rahkeem Cornwall] or Alzarri Joseph ahead of Da Silva to get some quicker runs so we could have enough time after the declaration to try and bowl out Sir Lanka. Sending Da Silva to me wasn’t a good move at that particular stage.”

Ambrose insisted, however, that there were several positives to be taken from the display.

“You can see that the guys are putting a lot more thought into the cricket which is very good to see. They have been patient, they try to construct their innings in terms of the batting and even in the bowling department, you could see they were really trying to bowl in good areas and not just trying to get a wicket every ball."

Windies middle-order batsman, Joshua Da Silva, believes there is plenty to be proud of when it comes to his performances so far for the regional team.

Since making his debut against New Zealand, in December of last year, the batsman has averaged 37.62 in five Test matches, with a high score of 92.  The half-century was one of two scored by the player during the period.

Da Silva has scored 301 runs so far, his innings often providing much-needed stability at crucial times in the team’s batting line-up.  Despite narrowly missing out on a triple-figure and a few half centuries, the player admitted he was pleased with his work to date.

“I don’t think I could have been more proud of what I have done so far in Test cricket. I definitely would have wanted to convert some of those forties into fifties and that 90 into a 100, but hopefully there are going to be a lot more opportunities to do that,” Da Silva told Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

Da Silva recently played a crucial part in the Test series draw with Sri Lanka, which saw batsmen with the upper hand for most of the series, partly due to a flat surface.

“I don’t think we could fault any bowler or batsman according to the conditions. It was quite challenging for the bowlers. Overall, I thought we had a very positive series, a lot of good things came out of it.”

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons believes a change of approach by his team’s batsmen is largely responsible for five of them averaging over 50 for the just-concluded series against Sri Lanka. Kraigg Brathwaite, Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers, Jason Holder and Rahkeem Cornwall hit that significant milestone during the series that ended in a stalemate between the two cricketing nations.

It was the first time since 2012, that West Indies batsmen have been able to achieve that feat and only the second time since 1995.

Brathwaite, who started off the series with scores of three and 23 in the first Test, finished strong with his ninth Test century, 126, and a second innings score of 85 that spiralled his average in the series to an excellent 59.25.

Kyle Mayers, perhaps the most consistent of the West Indies batsmen had scores of 49, 55, 45 and 52 for an overall average of 50.25.

Incidentally, these were the two lowest averages of the five batsmen. Nkrumah Bonner, who scored his first Test century in the series, 113 not out, averaged 72 while Jason Holder averaged 69 after scoring 71 not out, 30, 19 and 18 not out.

Rahkeem Cornwall had only two turns at-bat and he made them count. His 61 and 73 gave him an average of 67, to round out an impressive all-round performance from the West Indies despite the fact that they were unable to force a win in any of the two Tests.

Simmons, though, was pleased with what he observed.

“Everybody is looking to occupy the crease. People are working to bat for long periods and our depth goes deeper because Alzarri Joseph and Rahkeem Cornwall have shown within the last three series that they can bat and they can provide that 50-100-run partnerships that later down can take us to 350 to 400s,” said the West Indies head coach.

He was particularly pleased with Cornwall’s performance with the bat. Already, a crucial member of the bowling attack, Cornwall enhanced his reputation as a genuine allrounder.

“It was great to see Rahkeem’s batting coming to the fore, and in all, the batting has shown up in the last four Test matches and this is a great thing because, before that, the bowling was carrying us,” Simmons said.

The last time the West Indies had five batsmen averaging over 50 in a Test series was back in 2012, when Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kieran Powell and Denesh Ramdin all surpassed the milestone. Chanderpaul averaged over 300 for the series.

Before that, six West Indies batsmen - Chanderpaul, Junior Murray, Winston Benjamin, Jimmy Adams, Brian Lara and Sherwin Campbell - all averaged over 50 runs an innings against New Zealand in 1995.

 

 

Page 1 of 7
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.