Australian cricketers, David Warner, and Pat Cummins could be given rest ahead of the West Indies series, as tensions continue to simmer over the latest ball-tampering comments.

The pair were both named as part of a 23- preliminary squad for the July series, which will consist of five T20Is and three ODIs, but recent reports are suggesting that Cricket Australia is contemplating resting the players, in order to give them more time with their families as fissions within the squad have appeared.

The issue came back into the public spotlight after recent comments were made by bowler Collin Bancroft who hinted that the team’s bowlers were aware of the plan to use sandpaper on the ball during the Test against South Africa.

The 2018 incident had led to bans for then Australia captain Steve Smith and vice-captain Warner and Bancroft.  The team’s bowlers Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, and Nathan Lyon all issued a statement denying any involvement in the issue but another investigation from Cricket Australia now seems likely.

Several players were left discontented after Warner’s manager, James Erskine recently came out openly to say that the Sandpaper Gate was handled badly and eventually the truth will come out.

 

There will be changes to way in which Cricket West Indies awards retainer contracts following backlash to the recent announcements of players who received contracts for the coming year.

Thirteen members of the West Indies men red-ball training squad and management have received vaccinations against COVID-19 in St. Lucia, where they are preparing for the upcoming ICC World Test Championship Test matches against South Africa.

The veteran trio of Chris Gayle, Fidel Edwards, and Dwayne Bravo have all been included in a provisional 18-man squad released by Cricket West Indies, ahead of a flurry of upcoming international matches.

As part of preparations for the upcoming World T20 championships the Windies, the defending champions, will be involved in three back-to-back five-match T20 International (T20I) series against South Africa, Australia, and Pakistan.

The squad, which will be captained by Kieron Pollard, will also see the return of the likes of Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, and Hayden Walsh Jr.  The players missed out on being selected for the team’s previous T20 international series against Sri Lanka, which was won 2-1 by the regional team.

Windies coach Phil Simmons has praised the squad as a combination of experience and youth.

“These upcoming T20Is are crucial in terms of our preparation for the ICC T20 World Cup. We have assembled a very solid squad — with experienced world-class match-winners and some exciting young talented players, ready to explode onto the global stage and do great things for West Indies cricket,” Simmons said.

 “We are at that point where we have identified those who we will look to be the core of the squad to defend our World Cup title, so we want to make sure the upcoming matches create that environment — the way we train, the way we plan, the way we execute and the chemistry within the group. We won five years ago, so the next few weeks and months will be major steppingstones on the road towards defending our title and being World Champions for the third time.”

 

FULL SQUAD SELECTED:

  1. Kieron Pollard – Captain
  2. Nicholas Pooran – Vice-Captain
  3. Fabian Allen
  4. Dwayne Bravo
  5. Sheldon Cottrell
  6. Fidel Edwards
  7. Andre Fletcher
  8. Chris Gayle
  9. Shimron Hetmyer
  10. Jason Holder
  11. Akeal Hosein
  12. Evin Lewis
  13. Obed McCoy
  14. Andre Russell
  15. Lendl Simmons
  16. Kevin Sinclair
  17. Oshane Thomas
  18. Hayden Walsh Jr

Former South Africa batsman AB de Villiers will not be making a return to international cricket.

De Villiers has not been named in any of the Proteas' squads to face West Indies and Ireland next month.

After talks about a potential comeback ahead of the World Twenty20 concluded, no agreement was reached and the 37-year-old's retirement is now final.

"AB de Villiers finalises [his] international retirement," read a statement from Cricket South Africa on Tuesday.

"Discussions with AB de Villiers have concluded with the batsman deciding once and for all that his retirement will remain final."

De Villiers had also been linked with a comeback before the 2019 Cricket World Cup, but ended up not being selected after making a last-gasp offer to play in the tournament.

The veteran last played for South Africa in a Test match against Australia back in March 2018.

He played in 114 Tests for the Proteas and scored 8,765 runs at an average of 50.66, with 22 centuries as well as taking 222 catches, 101 of those as a wicketkeeper.

De Villiers was even more impressive in the ODI format, averaging 53.50 and racking up 25 hundreds in 228 appearances, while he also played in 78 T20Is.

South Africa will play two Tests and five T20Is against West Indies before three ODIs and three T20Is against Ireland.

Six uncapped players were named in the Test squad: Prenelan Subrayen, Lizaad Williams, Kyle Verreynne, Keegan Petersen, Sarel Erwee and Marco Jansen.

Dean Elgar will lead the 19-man squad for the first time as permanent Test skipper after replacing Quinton de Kock.

James Bracey and Ollie Robinson have been handed their first England Test call-ups, while Craig Overton earns a recall to a 15-man squad.

Chris Silverwood's options have been limited for the two-match home series against New Zealand next month.

Superstar all-rounder Ben Stokes (finger) and fast bowler Jofra Archer (elbow) are both injured, while Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes are all rested after completing a quarantine period following their return home from the postponed Indian Premier League.

It means wicketkeeper-batsman Bracey and seamer Robinson both get the call, rewarded for impressive performances in the early stages of the County Championship season.

Bracey averages 37.30 across his first-class career, but is at an impressive 53 – courtesy of 478 runs – for Gloucestershire so far this season. Robinson, meanwhile, has claimed 29 wickets at just 14 apiece for Sussex.

Both men have already toured with England as reserves in Sri Lanka and India, while they were included in extended groups for the Tests last year against West Indies and Pakistan.

Somerset all-rounder Overton, who has four caps, is set to return to the fold for the first time since the 2019 Ashes.

Head coach Silverwood said: "The summer of Test cricket will be fascinating.

"Playing the top two teams in the world, in New Zealand and India, is perfect preparation for us as we continue to improve and progress towards an Ashes series in Australia at the back end of the year. 

"With several players not available through injury or being rested for the New Zealand series, it is an opportunity for us to reward those who have been on the fringes of England squads over the past 12 months."

Silverwood also provided an update on Stokes, adding: "Ben Stokes is making excellent progress following his fractured left index finger sustained last month in the Indian Premier League.

"If he continues to improve without any impact on his rehabilitation, we could see him return next month for Durham in the Vitality Blast competition.

"We will assess him again towards the end of this month."

Archer had been ruled out on Sunday after a persistent elbow injury flared up again on his return to action for Sussex.

"We need to get this resolved once and for all to give him the best chance of being fully fit as we build up to an intense winter, which will include a T20 World Cup and the Ashes," Silverwood said.

"We need him firing in all formats of the game."


England squad in full:

Joe Root (captain), James Anderson, James Bracey, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Dom Sibley, Olly Stone, Mark Wood.

Australia bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon have called for an end to "rumour mongering and innuendo" around the 2018 ball-tampering scandal.

Then-captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were banned by Cricket Australia after all three were implicated in a plot to alter the condition of the ball with sandpaper during a 322-run defeat to South Africa at Newlands in March 2018.

Bancroft, who was caught on camera rubbing what was initially thought to be yellow sticky tape on the ball, was punished along with Smith and Warner, the latter as vice-captain also part of Australia's "leadership group".

Head coach Darren Lehman was cleared of any wrong-doing at the time and later stepped down, while the bowling attack of Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Lyon were also said to be in the dark.

In an interview with The Guardian last weekend, Bancroft was asked whether the bowlers knew what was going on and replied: "Uh … yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it's pretty probably self-explanatory."

Cricket Australia invited Bancroft to come forward with any further information after it conducted a full investigation at the time.

In a joint statement published on Starc's website, the Australian bowlers stridently denied any wrongdoing and said it was "time to move on".

"We pride ourselves on our honesty. So it’s been disappointing to see that our integrity has been questioned by some journalists and past players in recent days in regard to the Cape Town Test of 2018," the statement read.

"We have already answered questions many times on this issue, but we feel compelled to put the key facts on the record again.

"We did not know a foreign substance was taken onto the field to alter the condition of the ball until we saw the images on the big screen at Newlands."

Umpires Nigel Long and Richard Illingworth inspected the condition of the ball after Bancroft appeared to tamper with it and did not find enough damage to change it – something Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Lyon chose to highlight.

The statement added: "None of this excuses what happened on the field that day at Newlands. It was wrong and it should never have happened.

"We've all learned valuable lessons and we'd like to think the public can see a change for the better in terms of the way we play, the way we behave and respect the game. Our commitment to improving as people and players will continue.

"We respectfully request an end to the rumour-mongering and innuendo. It has gone on too long and it is time to move on."

The Guyana Cricket Board has written to Cricket West Indies expressing what it says is its disappointment at public comments made by Chairman of Selectors Roger Harper relating to four Guyanese players, who were not awarded retainer contracts by the governing body.

Marnus Labuschagne will miss Australia's white-ball tour of West Indies in July due to travel complications amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Labuschagne is currently playing for Glamorgan in England's County Championship and Australia's selectors have decided it will be more practical for the batsman to remain in the UK.

Australia will play five T20s in St Lucia and three ODIs in Barbados.

Although Labuschagne has not represented his country in the shortest format, he has three fifties and a century in 12 ODI innings, at an average of 39.41.

"Anyone who knows Marnus understands he would give absolutely anything to play for Australia and he is deeply upset to miss out due to circumstances beyond anyone's control," Australia's selection chairman Trevor Hohns said.

"We worked through numerous options in conversations with Marnus to find a workable solution but ultimately came to the conclusion it was more practical for him to remain in the UK.

"Had we not been in the middle of a global pandemic, Marnus would be on this tour as a well-established member and important part of the one-day side.

"It's an unfortunate circumstance of the many challenges the world is facing right now. As it stands, Marnus has the opportunity to continue in county cricket and T20 games with Glamorgan as we head into the [T20] World Cup and home summer."

Daniel Sams asked to be left out of the tour, which could yet be followed by a limited-overs trip to Bangladesh, for personal and mental health reasons.

The all-rounder tested positive for COVID-19 during his recent stint in the Indian Premier League, which was subsequently postponed due to the worsening coronavirus situation in the country.

Cricket Australia's integrity unit has contacted Cameron Bancroft to ask whether he wishes to provide any new information over the 2018 ball-tampering scandal that saw himself, Steve Smith and David Warner banned.

In an interview with The Guardian on Saturday, Bancroft hinted Australia's bowlers during that Test match against South Africa at Newlands – who were not punished – knew about activities undertaken to illegally alter the condition of the ball.

"Yeah, obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory," he said.

 

Preliminary Australia squad for limited-overs tour of the West Indies:

Aaron Finch (captain), David Warner, D'Arcy Short, Steven Smith, Josh Philippe, Alex Cary, Matthew Wade, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Swepson, Tanveer Sangha, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jason Behrendorff, Josh Hazlewood, Riley Meredith, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Andrew Tye

Jofra Archer has been ruled out of England’s two-Test series against New Zealand having suffered a setback in his return from an elbow injury.

Pace bowler Archer made his comeback in domestic action for Sussex this week after undergoing surgery on his right hand at the end of March.

However, a persistent elbow issue flared up while in action against Kent, with Archer unable to bowl during the final two days of the County Championship fixture.

England confirmed on Sunday that the 26-year-old will now seek further medical advice over the next course of action, meaning he will not feature in either game against the Black Caps on home soil.

"England and Sussex seamer Jofra Archer has been ruled out of the Test series against New Zealand starting next month," an England and Wales Cricket Board statement read.

"Archer, who returned to action for Sussex in the LV= Insurance County Championship against Kent this week at Hove, only bowled five overs in Kent’s second innings. He was suffering from pain in his right elbow when bowling and was unable to bowl in the final two days of the match.

"The England and Sussex medical teams will now seek guidance, and Archer will see a medical consultant later this week to determine the next course of action on the management of his elbow."

Archer bowled 13 overs in Kent’s first innings, taking 2-29 in a rain-hit contest that finished as a draw.

He has 42 wickets at an average of 31.04 in 13 Test appearances for England, who have a home series to come against India later in the year.

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) Selection Panel has named a 30-man squad for a three-week high-performance red-ball training camp in St Lucia, starting today in preparation for the upcoming Test Series against South Africa.

 Veteran International commentator, Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira has launched a stinging rebuke of Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) for the timing of contracting players for the upcoming calendar year.

In addition, the 81-year-old Perreira says he is totally and utterly disappointed that there has been no cover for fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, who in his estimation has deteriorated.

“We have given contracts to people who played four Test matches in a year, that cannot be fair,” Perreira said on the Line & Length TV Show on Sportsmax.

“The omission of (Shamar) Brooks and (Roston) Chase was surprising given the limited amount of cricket they played, I mean two series? Four or five Tests? I was hoping that WIPA would not have pushed for contracts now, especially since there is no first-class season.

“You dropped players and don’t give them contracts so how will you adequately judge their form and scores. Ideally, because of all that’s going on, those contracts should have been delayed until after the South Africa or Australia tour….or even Pakistan,” he passionately explained.

“(Shimron) Hetmyer not given a contract? He was losing weight and looked good in the IPL and we have to be careful not to lose players. Chairman Roger Harper said they are working with him, but doing what?! We just rushed a bit this year with the contracts,” he said.

As far as Gabriel is concerned, Perreira pointed to the fact that the 33-year-old who has 157 wickets from 54 Tests has slumped over the last season and CWI should have seen fit to contract two younger fast bowlers as cover for him.

“Gabriel is getting on and had an operation on his ankle. He is not the same! He struggled for rhythm and pace in England, seemed out of sorts against Sri Lanka, and in my estimation can’t play back-to-back Tests matches anymore.

“Gabriel is not bowling 140kmph easily and one good spell is not good enough. Surely, if you pick him, then the Board should have contracted two young fast bowlers to work alongside him and (Kemar) Roach,” he said.

The Guyanese Perreira who is a St. Lucian resident also endorsed the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, previously the Beausejour Stadium as the venue to hosts the West Indies vs South Africa series and advocates for a crowd of at least 1,000 spectators in the Johnson Charles stand, once they can prove a certificate of vaccination against the COVID19 virus.

 

 

West Indies all-rounder, Jason Holder, is set to be given rest ahead of the upcoming series against South Africa, as part of the team’s load management strategies.

The 29-year-old recently returned to the Caribbean following the postponement of the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he represented Sunrisers Hyderabad.  The West Indies are expected to begin camp in St Lucia, on Sunday, ahead of the series which will take place between June 10 and July 3.

The camp, which comprises 30 players, will include two 'best v best' inter-squad matches.  Holder, who was replaced as Test captain earlier this year, will join the camp at the end of the month.

The team’s Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite and fast bowlers Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph will also not be attending the camp, as they are currently competing in English County Championship and will return to the West Indies for the Test series if selected.

 

 

West Indies fast bowler Alzarri Joseph has credited increased mental focus on his batting with improved performances at the crease.

Over the past several months, the bowler has made the headlines for positing solid totals at the crease, as much as if not more than multiple wicket hauls.

Against New Zealand, in December of last year, Joseph recorded his highest total of 86, which was his maiden half-century. The Antiguan then went on to add another after scoring 82 in February this year against Bangladesh.

Fast forward a few months later and the player has taken his form with the bat to a debut season of English County cricket for Worcestershire.  With best scores of 46 and 61, Joseph has shown plenty of ability to be handy with the bat when the team needs it.  In four matches to date, Joseph has scored 128 runs and claimed 10 wickets.

“Whatever I could contribute to the team I am happy to do, so it’s good that I have been getting a few scores but for me, I think it’s also about being consistent doing it,” Joseph told the Antigua Observer.

“I have always enjoyed batting but it was just down to me being a bit more focused on it so I think for me it’s just about staying focused, being consistent in any aspect of the game.”

 

 

 

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