Faf du Plessis spoke of his sadness South Africa could not give Vernon Philander a fairytale finish to his Test career after their side went down to a heavy defeat against England.

England sealed a 3-1 series win by wrapping up a 191-run victory with a day to spare in the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers.

The match was far from a dream send-off for Philander, who having struggled with a hamstring injury ended with just 14 runs and two wickets as the Proteas lost a third straight contest

"I'd like to thank Vern for his services to the Proteas over the years," Du Plessis said after Philander was given a standing ovation and a guard of honour from his team-mates having been dismissed for 10 by man of the match Mark Wood.

"This team will miss him so, so much. We will sit with him tonight in the dressing room and share in the memories. 

"Off the field he's been a champion guy and I'm sad this game wasn't the fairytale moment he deserves.

"It's a lot of effort and time away from family, the sacrifices you make for over 10 years. We're very thankful."

Du Plessis, who has hinted his own Test career may be nearing its end, acknowledged the Proteas had fallen short, particularly when it came close to their batting.

The skipper added: "Right through this series after that first game, England were better in every department than us. 

"We did play well in that first game, but one Test doesn't make a summer. We didn't put enough runs on the board, though Rassie van der Dussen played well here and was unlucky not to get a great hundred.

"Anrich Nortje came through shining for us, we need pace to take the place of the Steyns and Morkels, and he has come through - the skill to land the ball in the same area is what has impressed me the most.

"Beuran Hendricks came in with five in his first Test match but from a batting point of view we weren't at our best and the scores reflect that."

Philander was keen to credit England after his Test career came to a close.

"Obviously not the way I wanted to end," he said.

"All credit to Joe Root and his team. We all fight hard on the park but at the end of the day we remain gentlemen. 

"To my guys, thanks for making it such an honour for me to wear this badge in the last few years. It's been an honour and privilege to share a dressing room with so many greats.

"I think now the hard work starts, giving back to young talent is my mission in life, hopefully I can mentor a couple to play for this wonderful team one day."

Joe Root believes the sky is the limit for England as a Test team after they completed a 3-1 series win in South Africa.

England wrapped up the series with a 191-run victory in the fourth Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Monday.

The triumph marks England's first series success since a 3-0 sweep of Sri Lanka in November 2018.

Dom Sibley, playing in only his second Test series, top-scored for England with 324 runs, forming an opening partnership with another new boy in Zak Crawley.

Ollie Pope scored two half-centuries and his first century while spinner Dom Bess vindicated his selection with a crucial six-wicket performance in the third Test. 

With so many young players contributing to an impressive victory, captain Root is confident there is a lot more to come from his side.

"Very special indeed. It's taken a lot," Root said of the win at the post-match presentation. "To pick ourselves up and play the way we have done in the last three games is extremely pleasing.

"It's been a real squad effort from a number of guys that are very much at the start of their international careers.

"The sky's the limit for us now, we have to keep looking to get better. It's been a fantastic series for our development as a Test team."

Ben Stokes won the man of the series award, having played an instrumental role, most notably in the second Test in Cape Town, where he scored 119 runs, claimed six catches and took a match-winning 3-35 in South Africa's second innings. 

He also struck a century in the third Test and finished the series with 12 catches, the most of any fielder, his performance coming after his father was rushed to hospital days before the series.

"The most important thing is that we're walking away with a series win," Stokes said. "It's been a bit of a rollercoaster.

"I hope the old man is in his hospital bed watching this with a big smile on his face."

Mark Wood was the key figure in England's fourth Test win, taking nine wickets in the match and also forming the highest 10th-wicket partnership at the Wanderers as he and Stuart Broad combined for 82 to push the tourists to 400.

Man of the match Wood had not expected to play in the series finale, but he was included after elbow soreness led to Jofra Archer's omission.

The seamer, who has frequently battled injuries in his career, said: "There was a bit of doubt going in but boy am I glad I played now.

"I'm over the moon. I've had a lot of dark days, credit to the backroom staff, everyone's so supportive, [head coach] Chris Silverwood tries to get me to have fun."

Describing his approach, he added: "I give it everything I've got, run in hard for the captain, as much energy as I can, and let it fly."

England wrapped up a comprehensive 3-1 series win over South Africa as their bowlers sealed a 191-run victory on day four of the fourth Test at The Wanderers.

Rassie van der Dussen agonisingly missed out on his first Test century as England took 10 wickets on Monday in Johannesburg to complete the win with a day to spare.

Chasing a world-record target of 466 in the fourth Test, South Africa had made a solid start on day four before losing captain Faf du Plessis (35) and Van der Dussen (98) in the last 10 minutes before tea.

That dropped the Proteas from 181-2 to 187-4 and England quickly got rid of the home side's lower order in the final session for a third consecutive triumph, Mark Wood (4-54) ending with nine wickets in the match.

England paceman Mark Wood sealed the second five-wicket haul of his Test career and then thanked West Indies great Michael Holding for a priceless piece of advice.

Wood's probing returned figures of 5-46 at The Wanderers as South Africa were all out for 183 on day three of the fourth Test, before England posted 248 in their second innings to set the hosts a world-record run chase.

South Africa will have two days to get the 466 runs they require to win the match and draw the series, but it is a tall order.

And with Wood showing sizzling form with the ball, South Africa may struggle to take the contest to a fifth day.

Asked about his bowling display, Wood said: "I'm over the moon."

Returning from knee and side injuries to reclaim his England place, a conversation Wood had with Holding yielded a morsel of great wisdom from the man who took 249 wickets for West Indies in 60 Tests.

By lengthening his run-up, Wood has taken some of the explosive element out of his action, which should help on the fitness front, and the suggestion came from 65-year-old Holding.

Wood told Sky Sports: "I wish I'd changed my run-up sooner. Some guy did mention it to me..."

With a nod to Holding, who is working for the broadcaster, Wood explained: "He said, 'You're putting too much strain on your body, lengthen your run-up', and since I've done that it's been a lot better.

"I've got a little bit more momentum. It takes a little bit more pressure off my body, whereas off my short run it felt like I had to force it. You're not going to have rhythm every day when you're running in.

"The days where I didn't quite feel it, I was still having to force it and I was putting that extra strain on my body, so it's been nice to take a load off and just feel my way in but still bowl quickly.

"I was stubborn to change it because it had worked for me up to a point. But if I was going to play more cricket or if I was going to improve, I was going to have to change something.

"I just felt it was the right time for me to change it. I wish I had done it earlier, but it's all in the past now."

England's second innings saw opener Dom Sibley make 44, with captain Joe Root adding 58 and all-rounder Sam Curran plundering a rapid 35.

Curran hailed Wood's efforts and reflected the mood in the camp by stressing the tourists are on a high, with their victory prospects looking strong.

Curran told the BBC's Test Match Special podcast: "It's a great position to be in at the close, maybe we would have liked to have been batting tomorrow, but the lead is nice.

"It was nice to have a bit of fun out there with Rooty. Woody with five wickets, what a man, the team is so happy, he's one of the great guys in cricket. For him to come back from injury and get five is amazing."

Sloppy second-half play from Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls resulted in them losing to New Zealand in the final of the 2020 Vitality Nations Cup at the Copper Box Arena in England on Sunday.

South Africa all-rounder Vernon Philander was fined 15 per cent of his match fee from his final Test after swearing at Jos Buttler following his first-innings dismissal.

Philander's exchange with Buttler continued a feud between the pair that saw the England wicketkeeper-batsman himself sanctioned for comments made during the second Test.

The Proteas star breached Article 2.5 of the ICC Code of Conduct, relating to "using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batter upon his/her dismissal during an International Match".

On Sunday, Philander accepted a fine and a demerit point for his send-off of Buttler in England's first innings the previous day, although the latter punishment counts for little as Philander prepares to retire.

Philander bowled only nine balls in the tourists' second innings due to a hamstring injury, Joe Root leading his side to 248 all out, setting South Africa a huge target of 466 for victory.

Along with Philander and Buttler, both Kagiso Rabada - consequently suspended - and Ben Stokes have received fines and demerit points in this series, which England lead 2-1 going into the last two days of the fourth and final match.

England cemented their dominance of the fourth Test with South Africa as they closed day three with a 465-run lead in Johannesburg.

After bowling the hosts out for 183, Mark Wood claiming a five-for, England opted against enforcing the follow-on and instead built on their 217-run first-innings advantage.

Captain Joe Root led the way with a 58, his wicket bringing the tourists' fun to an end as Faf du Plessis took a stunning one-handed catch to give Beuran Hendricks 5-64 on his Test debut.

That afforded the Proteas some joy on an otherwise frustrating day and they will return on Monday needing to complete a world-record chase to avoid a 3-1 series defeat.

South Africa resumed on 88-6 on Sunday and facing an uphill struggle which became all the harder when Vernon Philander fell in the first full over of the day in his final Test outing.

Chris Woakes claimed that scalp and Ben Stokes accounted for the stubborn Dwaine Pretorius (37), but it was the impressive Wood (5-46) who took the key wicket of Quinton de Kock for 76.

Dane Paterson was Wood's final victim as South Africa's dismal innings came to an end, England deciding to bat and doing so for the remainder of the day.

Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley enjoyed a 107-run opening stand in the first innings and managed 56 this time before Pretorius dismissed the former. 

Joe Denly was out cheap to Paterson when he inside-edged onto his own stumps, while Sibley went for a patient 44.

There was some typically ambitious hitting in a 24-ball Ben Stokes cameo that yielded 28 runs and six boundaries, while Root had been steadily edging towards his half-century as partners came and went at regular intervals.

Wood added to his bowling exploits with 18 runs from 12 balls and Root was the last man to fall, Du Plessis showing superb athleticism and incredible handling to grasp a fast-moving ball down low to his right.

Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls booked a spot in the final of the Vitality Netball Nations Cup final following a 70-66 win over England Roses at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday.

In another strong performance, the Jamaicans led wire to wire before eventually outpacing the slow-starting Roses who staged a furious fourth-quarter rally.  The win will see the Sunshine Girls taking on New Zealand for the title on Sunday.

The Jamaicans started quickly, driving the ball up court with quick passes, the moves expertly finished off by a dominant Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.  Defensively, they managed to force the Roses into careless errors, approaching the first break with a 19-15 lead.

In an attempt to shot down Fowler-Reid in the second quarter, England double-teamed the 6ft 6in phenom with defenders Stacey Francis and Kate Shimmin.  The Caribbean team, however, quickly switched the passes to goal attack Shanice Beckford, who finished just as effectively.  At halftime, the Jamaicans held a 39-31 lead.

The Sunshine Girls looked to press their advantage soon after the resumption and held an 11-goal lead with 9 minutes of the third remaining and ended the period up 57-44 and seemingly set for a comfortable win.

A furious fourth-quarter rally from the home team, however, made things seem far less academic as they clawed their way back to within a four-goal deficit.  The Jamaicans, however, held on to cross the finish line.

 

Ben Stokes has issued a statement apologising for his choice of language after becoming engaged in a verbal altercation with a fan during the fourth Test with South Africa.

The all-rounder was dismissed for two on the opening day at the Wanderers and was heard on a live broadcast aiming expletives at a spectator.

After Friday's play, Stokes – who claimed to have been "subjected to repeated abuse" – took to Twitter to say sorry for his "unprofessional" reaction.

"I wish to apologise for my language that was heard on the live broadcast today after my dismissal," he wrote. "I should not have reacted in that way.

"As I was leaving the playing area, I was subjected to repeated abuse from the crowd. I admit that my reaction was unprofessional and I sincerely apologise for the language I used, especially to the many young fans watching the live telecast around the world.

"Throughout the Tests so far, the support from both sets of fans (England and South Africa) has been brilliant. One incident will not ruin such a competitive series, which we are determined to win."

It remains to be seen if officials will take any action against Stokes, who was one of four batsmen dismissed as England closed with 192 runs on the board.

The tourists lead the four-match series 2-1.

England became the first team to score 500,000 Test runs on the first day of the fourth Test with South Africa, which saw the tourists' strong start curtailed by a final-session fightback from the Proteas.

Joe Root's men were dealt a blow before winning the toss with the news that paceman Jofra Archer would be unable to play at the Wanderers because of elbow soreness.

Having seen his side take command of the third Test in Port Elizabeth with a dominant first-innings batting display, Root elected to give his charges the same opportunity, and openers Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley laid an excellent foundation.

Crawley was in fluent form as he scored his first half-century for his country but England slumped to 157-4 after the first-wicket stand of 107 was broken. 

Root (25 not out) and Ollie Pope (22 not out) steadied the ship, the former seeing England to the half-a-million milestone as they reached 192-4 before bad light stopped play.

After falling six runs short of a fifty at St George's Park, Crawley made no mistake in Johannesburg in a stylish innings that featured 11 boundaries, combining with Sibley for England's first century opening stand since December 2016.

Crawley's maiden international 50 was brought up in more fortuitous fashion with a thick edge through point but Sibley, having successfully reviewed an lbw decision and been given a reprieve by a no-ball, was not so lucky.

A centurion in the second match in Cape Town, Sibley was strangled down the leg side on 44 as Beuran Hendricks claimed a wicket on his Test debut.

Vernon Philander then ensured he will end his final Test with a wicket as Crawley presented a simple catch to Rassie van der Dussen, who made another grab at slip to end a difficult 35-ball spell at the crease for Joe Denly (27).

South African hopes of an England collapse were given a significant boost when talisman Ben Stokes fell to Anrich Nortje for just two, the all-rounder's attempt at a drive seeing him send another straight to Van der Dussen.

Stokes was involved in a verbal altercation with a fan as he left the field but, while England will now have to wait to see if he faces any repercussions from that, in terms of the match their position was improved as Root and Pope provided stability.

They did so in confident fashion. Root surpassed 7,500 Test runs with a pull through midwicket for four and his single through the covers took England to the historic 500,000 mark.

The fading light saw the fifth-wicket partnership interrupted on 35 and, though England have plenty of batting to come, Root and Pope will know that stretching their stand well into day two will go a long way to sealing a 3-1 series victory.

Joe Root would rank a series win over South Africa as his greatest achievement as England Test captain and believes the "sky is the limit" for his young side.

England head into the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers - which starts on Friday - with a 2-1 lead, having already extended their unbeaten run in away Test series against the Proteas to four.

The tourists have been hit hard by both illness and injuries in South Africa, with James Anderson, Jack Leach and Rory Burns having all returned to England, while paceman Jofra Archer missed the last two Tests with an elbow issue.

Given the circumstances, Root says beating the Proteas in their own backyard would probably go down as his most satisfying accomplishment since taking over as skipper almost three years ago.

"It's been a tour that has thrown everything at us," Root told reporters. "But the whole squad, the players and the coaching staff, have worked tirelessly to make sure we stayed calm and as in control as we could.

"When we've had our opportunities to bounce back, we've really taken them. It's been really pleasing in many ways.

"We're a very young side at the start of something and we've seen some very promising performances. To win three Tests in a row would be a very big achievement for this group.

"A series win here probably would be my proudest achievement as captain, because of the different things we've had to manage throughout this tour.

"We've had injuries and senior players having to fly home and a lot of illness to deal with and we have adapted to very different conditions.

"For a young group of players that has been very pleasing and a sign we're doing the right things. If we can harness that and keep looking to improve then I do think the sky's the limit for this team.

"But we're very much at the start of something here and we're not perfect by any means. We have to keep that attitude and keep driving that forward for a long period of time if we want to get to number one in the world."

Mark Wood came into the side for the third Test and it remains to be seen if he will be able to play back-to-back matches with Archer pushing for a recall.

"It would be nice to see how Archer and Wood go together," Root said.

"It would be a relentless barrage of pace. It would be great to have that extra bit of pace and firepower, but ultimately we've got to hit the right areas as we have done in the last couple of games."

Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt has insisted the strong showing of the U-19 team at the ongoing ICC U-19 World Cup is due to a policy of deliberate investment in youth cricket.

The U-19 Windies, who won the title in 2016, are off to a strong start at the current edition of the tournament after notching wins over Australia, England, and Nigeria.  The team’s latest win, a dominant 246 runs win over their African opponents, ensured that the Windies were top of group B.

According to the CWI president, the team’s strong showing, which has taken many by surprise, is no accident.

“This administration promised that we would invest more seriously and in a more focussed and strategic way on our youth cricket and this Under-19 team is an example of what we set about to do immediately – to give them the best possible preparation going into this World Cup,” Skerritt said recently.

“They have achieved already way beyond the expectations of most people.  They beat Australia, they beat England. We are going to hope and pray that they continue on the path of improvement and performing at their best and whatever the end result of this World Cup is for them they would have made the Caribbean people extremely proud.”

Temba Bavuma will replace Zubayr Hamza in the South Africa side for the final Test against England at the Wanderers, which starts on Friday.

Bavuma has not played for the Proteas since a crushing defeat in the third Test against India in Ranchi last October.

The diminutive batsman was dropped from the squad after being omitted for the first Test against England, and he was challenged to go away and make first-class runs for the Lions.

Bavuma responded by making a career-best 180 against the Dolphins last week and will feature in Johannesburg at the expense of Hamza as South Africa strive to salvage a 2-2 series draw.

Rassie van der Dussen will move up the order to number three in the absence of Hamza, who has made only 39 across five innings since scoring 39 in the first innings of the first Test at Centurion.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis told reporters on Thursday: "I can tell you that Temba is back in the side.

"The rest, we are still waiting to see what the weather does tomorrow. We don't have 100 per cent clarity on that yet, but that is the one thing that is definite."

A player who will definitely not feature in the fourth Test is Kagiso Rabada. The paceman serves a one-match ban for the excessive celebration of Joe Root's wicket in the third Test that earned him a fourth demerit point.

England captain Owen Farrell has declared "nothing is set in stone" when it comes to his Saracens future.

After last week's dramatic announcement from Premiership Rugby that Saracens will be demoted to the Championship next season, the focus has switched to what that will mean for the club's elite players.

Years of breaching the Premiership salary cap has come back to bite Saracens, the current champions of England and Europe.

Farrell was one of seven Saracens players named in a 34-man England squad on Monday and there will be clear-the-air discussions during the team's training camp.

Rival clubs have been angered by Saracens' over-spending and England will move quickly to defuse any tensions that may exist within coach Eddie Jones' group.

Asked whether he would stay with Saracens beyond this season, Farrell said: "There's obviously ongoing chats. We have an idea of what our plan would be for the lads that are coming into camp.

"We've had a sit-down, but obviously nothing is set in stone so [I am] not in a position to talk about it, but we feel clear enough at this moment in time to get on with what's in front of us and get excited about getting to England."

Farrell was asked for his view on the punishment meted out to his club side, and told ITV Sport: "It's disappointing obviously, but as a club we've accepted the punishment and I back the club to come back from this."

England's squad were set to gather on Wednesday and Farrell, as the team's leader, will likely have a key role in making sure there are no disruptive divisions between the players given the need for unity.

Asked whether there might be issues between the Saracens contingent and players from other clubs, Farrell said: "I don't know. The best thing about this squad over the past year or so [is] we've got better at being up-front with each other.

"We've got better at being open and better at being honest, and if that's the case we'll get it out there and we'll sort it out and be able to move on.

"It'd be wrong of us not to say anything so we'll see what comes of it when we do mention it."

Farrell left no doubt he is relishing the chance to focus on England matters over the coming weeks.

After the run to the Rugby World Cup final, England will bid to dethrone Wales as Six Nations champions.

"It's massively exciting," Farrell said.

"The group that we've got is obviously a lot of people that've been together for a while now, but with some people that are hopefully going to add a lot to it.

"We want to push, we want to get better, we want to improve, and we want to see where we can take it.

"We've got to work hard and that'll be what we do now when we meet up."

Saracens' troubles will not make facing England in the Six Nations any easier, according to France captain Charles Ollivon.

France kick-start their Six Nations campaign against the Rugby World Cup finalists on February 2 at the Stade de France.

Six players who appeared in England's defeat to South Africa in Japan play for Premiership champions Saracens, who will be relegated at the end of the season due to a breach of salary cap rules.

Elliot Daly, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola, Billy Vunipola – who will miss the Six Nations due to a broken arm – and captain Owen Farrell are all regulars under Eddie Jones, yet Ollivon is not expecting any uncertainty over their club futures to impact their performances for England.

"You have to remember that England is the second-best team in the world, so I'm not sure whether it is the best time to play against them or not," Ollivon, who has been appointed as France captain for the tournament, told reporters.

"In any case, for us it will be our first game and we want to be able to perform. We want to be there and meet the expectations and get started with the championship.

"We have been preparing for it since the end of the World Cup so we're eager to get on with it."

France's initial 42-man squad includes 19 uncapped players, with coach Fabien Galthie already casting an eye to the 2023 World Cup, which will take place on home soil.

"It's a young team both in terms of age and caps," Galthie said.

"We have a two-fold vision, we have a four-year vision and then we have a shorter-term vision with the England squad for February 2.

"It's a squad that we'll have to quickly gear up to be able to perform and also to be able to raise the bar and the standards."

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