Cricket West Indies is hoping to give Chris Gayle a proper send-off at Sabina Park when it hosts Ireland for a white-ball series in January next year.

Sri Lanka completed a comprehensive 187-run victory over the West Indies at Galle on Thursday despite defiant half-centuries from Nkrumah Bonner and Joshua da Silva.

Shreyas Iyer marked his Test debut with 75 not out as India held the upper hand by reaching 258-4 at stumps on day one against New Zealand.

Following 54 appearances in limited-overs internationals for his country, Iyer was given the opportunity in the long format and showed he has what it takes in this first game of a two-match series.

The 26-year-old shared an unbroken 113-run fifth-wicket partnership with Ravindra Jadeja, who scrambled a single in the fading light to end the day on 50 not out.

Their commanding batting meant India did not lose a wicket after tea, scoring 104 runs in 28 overs, with Iyer striking a six off William Somerville in the final over of the day.

It was his second maximum of the innings to go with seven fours, giving India a strong platform from which to build on Friday.

Kyle Jamieson was the pick of New Zealand's attack with 3-47 and said India were "maybe a fraction ahead".

He bowled India opener Shubman Gill for 52, having earlier had Mayank Agarwal (13) caught behind, then got lucky when India captain Ajinkya Rahane played on to go for 35.

Cheteshwar Pujara was caught by wicketkeeper Tom Blundell off Tim Southee for 26, but Iyer and Jadeja's solid union meant India finished the day on top at Kanpur's Green Park Stadium.

Jamieson told Sky Sports: "Hopefully the new ball swings a little in the morning and we can take a few, but at the same time there's two really classy guys in the middle and there's still some batters to come, so we'll have to be on our game tomorrow morning.

"I think we've hung around pretty good. To have them four down, certainly we'd have liked another one or two more, but if we have a good start early tomorrow morning we're still in a pretty good position."


Iyer in good company

As he navigated his way three quarters of the way to a century, Iyer found capable and experienced company at the other end. Jadeja is one of just five India players to have reached 200 Test wickets and 2,000 runs in the long format, and he now has 17 fifties alongside a lone Test century. Iyer became India's 63rd debutant to post a half-century, and he could become the 22nd newcomer to make three figures.

Not the only new face

As Iyer caught the eye, India Test debutant Rachin Ravindra found it altogether more tricky to make an impact. In seven overs of his left-arm spin, the 22-year-old Ravindra failed to make a breakthrough, giving away 28 runs.

Nathan Lyon insisted "the best gloveman in the world" Tim Paine must play for Australia after the wicketkeeper resigned as captain over inappropriate behaviour.

Paine stepped down from his Test captaincy role last Friday over a historical investigation into lewd texts sent to a former Cricket Tasmania colleague in 2017.

The 36-year-old, who at the time was found not to have breached Cricket Australia's conduct code and remained captain, is still in Australia's Ashes squad to face England, though a new leader is yet to be announced.

Batter Marcus Harris previously stated Paine has "got all the support of the players" and Lyon has echoed that sentiment towards the wicketkeeper, who was appointed captain in 2018 following Steve Smith's ball-tampering scandal ban.

"I can 100 per cent guarantee he has the full support of the Australian changeroom," Lyon told reporters as Australia prepare for the first Ashes Test on December 8.

"I don't see him as a distraction at all. Come the Gabba Test match and throughout the whole series, we are professional sportspeople, and we will go out and do our job.

"Tim made a mistake, he's owned it, for me that shows great courage to be honest. Tim has got my full support. I am looking forward to catching up as soon as we get out of quarantine.

"In my eyes, Tim is the best gloveman in the country, in the world.

"The selectors said they were going to pick the best available XI and in my eyes Tim Paine is the best keeper in the world. I want him. This is very selfish, from a bowler's point of view, I want the best gloveman behind the stumps."

Off-spinner Lyon and wicketkeeper Paine have formed a strong partnership for Australia but failed to combine for a single wicket against India in the Test series loss last time out.

Since then, Paine has undergone neck surgery in September before returning to action for Tasmania's second XI against South Australia.

Pat Cummins and Steve Smith have reportedly been interviewed by Cricket Australia amid ongoing speculation the pair will step in as captain and vice-captain respectively, much to Lyon's excitement.

"You have a bowler's mindset and a batter's mindset rather than two batters; they can come together and really come up with some good guidance," Lyon said. "I am excited by the fact we are potentially going to have a bowler as captain."

Australia will head to the Gabba with added confidence as well after their T20 World Cup win in the United Arab Emirates, and Lyon claimed there is still a buzz around the camp despite Paine's resignation.

"The mood is incredible," he said. "On the back of the boys winning the World Cup, there are only nine guys here who were part of that, but the staff too, there is an unbelievable feeling in the Australian cricket changerooms right now.

"Our preparation is flying along. I'm ready to go."

Cricket commentator and analyst, Fazeer Mohammed, believes using an official international fixture to bid farewell to legendary T20 batsman Chris Gayle could set a bad precedent.

The 42-year-old batsman was widely expected to call time on his career following an unsuccessful ICC T20 World Cup campaign.  Following the team’s elimination from the tournament, however, the big-hitting left-hander suggested that he may be given one more game, at Sabina Park, in his home country of Jamaica, to bid a final farewell to international cricket.

The suggestion has divided opinion.  While some believe that paying tribute to a player who has scored the most runs ever in the format, with 14,321, others believe he should simply have moved on following the end of the tournament.  In the past, the regional board has been accused of not honouring players that have made a huge mark for the West Indies, but some insist an exception should not be made for Gayle if his form does not merit a place in the squad.  Mohammed, however, believes the solution could lie somewhere in-between.

“It’s another thing to see a situation where a player has basically called for a farewell, called for an opportunity to play a final match,” Mohammed told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“Gayle also wanted to play a last Test in Jamaica thankfully that was not granted because I think that is going down a road where players of a certain stature are making demands, which I don’t think should be entertained as far as the international structure of cricket,” he added.

“Are you saying somebody is going to be left out on merit to accommodate somebody’s farewell? Give him a testimonial, in the same way, you see in other countries…but I think it’s a dangerous precedent where someone is allowed to play an official international match as a farewell if they don’t deserve that place on merit.”

 

West Indies middle-order batsman, Nkrumah Bonner, admits the team is disappointed with another poor showing at the crease but believes it remains possible to escape the current predicament.

Heading into the final day, the Windies are 52 for 6 and chasing a massive total of 296.  Bonner (18) and Joshua Da Silva (15) are the batsmen currently at the crease and will both be hoping to be the start of an unlikely recovery.

Earlier, in pursuit of Sri Lanka’s second innings total of 191 for 4 declared, the West Indies experienced a shocking top-order capitulation that left them struggling at 18 for 6 after just 13 overs.

Spin bowling continued to be the major issue for the batsmen with Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Kyle Mayer, and Jason Holder all failing to pick the straighter deliveries.  Similar to the first innings, it was the loopy offspin of Mendis that the team continued to struggle to negotiate, as he claimed four in the second innings to take his tally to seven.

“I think everyone is disappointed but it’s the nature of the sport.  People will get out in cricket, that will happen.  It’s just up to me and Josh and the rest of the batters to get the job done,” Bonner said.

The West Indies had also found themselves in trouble in the first innings before a 62 runs late innings partnership between Jason Holder and Kyle Mayers brought some stability to the innings.

“We have about 640 balls to bat tomorrow.  If me and Josh can face the majority of the balls.  Obviously, we want to play each ball on its merit, respect the bowler.”

 

Kane Williamson insists New Zealand will not be favourites when they start the defence of their World Test Championship title against an under-strength India side in Kanpur on Thursday.

The Black Caps beat India by eight wickets in the inaugural World Test Championship at the Ageas Bowl in June, so India will be out for revenge in the two-match series on home soil.

Virat Kohli has been rested for the first Test, so Ajinkya Rahane takes charge of a team that will not include Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Rishabh Pant.

Rohit, Bumrah, Shami and Pant have been given a rest for both games, while Rahul misses out due to a thigh strain.

India have plenty of strength in depth, though, and you have to go back 33 years for the last time they lost a home match against the Black Caps in the longest format.

New Zealand captain Williamson sat out India's 3-0 T20I whitewash of the tourists, which came so soon after his side had been beaten by Australia in the T20 World Cup final in Dubai.

The prolific batsman knows the Black Caps face a huge challenge, particularly without the opportunity to play any warm-up games.

He said: "I don't think we are favourites. One of the key strengths of Indian cricket is its depth. India has great knowledge of their own conditions, we know the challenge is a big one."

Williamson added: "As we have seen in this part of the world, the spin component has been very large and it has played a big role in changing the complexion of the game.

"I am sure throughout the whole series, the spin component will be a factor and it will be no different in Kanpur. It will be all about assessing the conditions as quickly as possible."

 

Opportunity knocks for Iyer

Shreyas Iyer will make his debut after Rahul was ruled out and is set to come into the middle order, with Shubman Gill to open with Mayank Agarwal.

The 26-year-old right-hander averages 52.18 in first-class cricket, scoring 12 centuries and boasting a strike-rate of 81.54.

Rahane hinted that India may play three spinners, stating: "We are not too sure of the combination. But in India you generally get spin-friendly wickets, the ball generally keeps slightly low and slow.

"We expect that but not too sure how the wicket will play. We will have to wait until tomorrow and assess from there."

Refreshed Jamieson closing in on half-century

Kyle Jamieson joined Williamson in missing the T20I series as the Black Caps managed his workload.

The paceman has made an outstanding start to his Test career and was man of the match when New Zealand beat India in the final in Southampton, having claimed match figures of 7-61.

Four wickets shy of 50 in the longest format, it would be a surprise if Jamieson does not come straight back into the team, particularly with Trent Boult not involved in the series.

New Zealand, who are unbeaten in nine Tests and have never gone 10 without defeat, must decide who replaces Devon Conway (broken hand) at the top of the order, with Will Young appearing set to get the nod.

Michael Vaughan has been stood down from the BBC's coverage of the Ashes due to "a conflict of interest" amid recent allegations of racism made by ex-Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq.

The former England captain was this month named in a report investigating Rafiq's claims of institutional racism at Yorkshire.

Vaughan, who played for Yorkshire from 1993 to 2009 and led England to Ashes glory in 2005, allegedly said to a group of Asian team-mates there were "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it".

Rafiq's version of events have been supported by Adil Rashid and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, but Vaughan has strongly denied the allegations made against him.

The BBC withdrew Vaughan from his Radio 5 Live show three weeks ago and the corporation has now confirmed the 47-year-old – who first joined their radio team as a summariser in 2009 – will not form part of their upcoming Ashes coverage.

"While he is involved in a significant story in cricket, for editorial reasons we do not believe that it would be appropriate for Michael Vaughan to have a role in our Ashes team or wider coverage of the sport at the moment," said a BBC statement.

"We require our contributors to talk about relevant topics and his involvement in the Yorkshire story represents a conflict of interest."

Vaughan is also contracted to commentate for Australia's Fox network for the five-Test series, which begins in Brisbane on December 8.

In a statement made earlier this month, Vaughan said: "I categorically deny saying the words attributed to me by Azeem Rafiq and want to restate this publicly because the 'you lot' comment simply never happened.

"It is extremely upsetting that this completely false accusation has been made against me by a former team-mate, apparently supported by two other players.

"I have been in contact with the six other players from that team and not one of them has any recollection of the remark being made."

The West Indies will be praying for a lot more rain come Thursday as they stare defeat squarely in the face after slumping to 52-6 in their second innings still needing 296 runs for what would be an improbable, if not impossible victory.

After rain delayed the start of the fourth day of the Test, the West Indies resuming from their overnight score of 224-9, were eventually bowled out for 230 when Praveen Jayawickrama trapped Shannon Gabriel lbw for 2 leaving Joshua Da Silva not out on 15.

Jayawickrama finished with figures of 4-40 from 19.5 overs to be the best of Sri Lanka’s bowlers.

Leading by 156 on first innings, Sri Lanka led by Captain Dimuth Karunaratne’s 83 and Angelo Matthews unbeaten 69, raced to 191-4 in 40.5 overs, setting West Indies a target of 348.

The pair put on 123 for the third-wicket that effectively batted the West Indies out of the match.

Rahkeem Cornwall took 2-60 while Jomel Warrican finished with 2-42.

Batting a second time the West Indies batsmen were bamboozled by the Sri Lankan spinners crumbling to 18-5 by midway the 12th over.

Ramesh Mendis did most of the damage taking 4-17. He was supported by Lasith Embuldeniya, who took 2-18.

They did meet some late resistance, though, as Da Silva and Nkrumah Bonner, the only batsmen to reach double figures, have so far but on 38 for the seventh wicket. The former is not out in 15 while Bonner is on 18. They will be hoping to bat throughout Thursday’s final day with hopeful eyes on the clouds above.

Marcus Harris insists Tim Paine has the full backing of his Australia team-mates after the wicketkeeper stepped down as Test captain.

Paine resigned as Australia's skipper in the longest format last week due to the emergence of a lewd text exchange with a former Cricket Tasmania colleague back in 2017.

At the time, Paine was found not to have breached Cricket Australia's code of conduct and remained as Test captain, having taken up the position in 2018 following Steve Smith's demotion in light of the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal.

Paine will remain involved with the Australia squad, having been named in the selection to face England, though a new captain is yet to be announced.

Tasmania chairman Andrew Gaggin hit out at CA's treatment of Paine and while Harris revealed the Australia squad were shocked, he says there is full belief that Paine will play a key role in their attempts to retain the Ashes.

"People were obviously a bit shocked but we've got a lot of good leaders around our group," Harris told reporters.

"It's not ideal but someone's going to have to step up and lead from the front.

"Painey will still be around and can still show leadership in many different ways but we're looking forward to getting into camp and getting on with it.

"I think you'd probably still argue that he's still the best gloveman in the country.

"I know he's got all the support of the players and like I said, all that other stuff is up to people above me."

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite has admitted it was a tough situation for debutant Jeremy Solozano who was forced out of the opening Test after sustaining an injury.

Solozano, who was expected to partner Brathwaite at the top of the order, had to be stretchered off on the first day of the opening Test after being hit flush on the helmet by a pull shot from Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne.

The young batsman was taken to the hospital for scans and remained overnight for observation, but the tests showed no further damage.  The player will, however, remain on concussion protocol for the next few days.  Solozano was replaced in the line-up by Shai Hope.

“It was a tough situation, but at least we heard he’s doing good, his scans came back good, and we’ll be supporting him 100 percent,” Brathwaite said.

As per CWI’s concussion policy, Solozano is expected to miss a minimum of seven (7) days. During this time, he will be monitored and evaluated before he can return.  The second match between the teams will take place between November 28 and December 3.

 

 

Deandra Dottin was player of the match as the West Indies Women enjoyed a victorious start to their ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifying campaign in Zimbabwe on Tuesday.

Dottin top-scored with 73 from 87 balls to help the Windies chase down their target of 160 to defeat Ireland by six wickets.

After captain Stafanie Taylor won the toss and elected to field first, the West Indies bowled out Ireland for 159 in 43 overs.

Anissa Mohammed was the pick of the bowlers for the Caribbean side, taking 3-40 from her 10 overs.

She was supported by Hayley Matthews who took 2-20 from her 10.

Shamilia Connell took 2-33 from her 10 and Taylor took 2-15 from her 3 overs.

Gaby Lewis top-scored for the Irish with 36 from 58 balls.

The Windies Women then needed only 39.3 overs to chase their target with Dottin getting 73 and Taylor finishing not out on 41.

The West Indies and Sri Lanka both have two points, having won their first game, with the Windies at the top of the group due to a superior net run rate.

Those two will face off next on Saturday.

Only four overs of play were possible after lunch as the West Indies continued their fightback on day three of the first of their three-test series against hosts Sri Lanka.

After starting the day on 113-6, a strong partnership between former captain, Jason Holder and Kyle Mayers propelled the Windies to 163-6 before Mayers was deceived by off-spinner, Dhananjaya de Silva, and lobbed a catch to captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, at short cover for a top score of 45.

Holder was next to go, caught at point by Dushmantha Chameera off the bowling of Praveen Jayawickrama for 36 with the score on 175.

He tried to play a cut shot off a ball that got some extra bounce and ended up lobbing the ball in the air to Chameera, who took a good catch diving to his right.

Rakheem Cornwall then joined wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva at the crease and the two steadied the ship, bringing the score up to 224 before Cornwall went, caught by Ramesh Mendis, off the bowling of pacer Suranga Lakmal for 38.

Cornwall’s wicket fell on the last ball of the 80th over and the rest of the day’s play was washed out by rain.

The West Indies will start day four on 224-9, still 162 runs behind Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 386 with Joshua da Silva at the crease on 11 and Shannon Gabriel yet to score.

 

The treatment of Tim Paine has been the worst experienced by an Australia Test captain for over 50 years, according to Cricket Tasmania's chairman.

The 36-year-old stood down from the Australian Test captaincy having been embroiled in a lewd text message scandal from 2017, which was investigated by Cricket Australia (CA) and Cricket Tasmania the following year.

At the time, Paine was found not to have breached CA's code of conduct and remained as Test captain, having taken up the position in 2018 following Steve Smith's demotion in light of the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal.

An emotional Paine made his resignation announcement on Friday after learning the messages were to be revealed publicly, and Tasmania chairman Andrew Gaggin has questioned his treatment. Paine plays domestic cricket for Tasmania.

"The treatment afforded to the Australian Test captain by Cricket Australia has been appalling," Gaggin said. "It is clear that the anger amongst the Tasmania cricket community and general public is palpable.

"At a time when Cricket Australia should have supported Tim, he was evidently regarded as dispensable. The treatment is the worst since Bill Lawry over 50 years ago."

Lawry, who was sacked as captain ahead of the final Test of the 1970-71 Ashes series, found out about it through the media.

Cricket Australia chair Richard Freudenstein and CEO Nick Hockley addressed media on Saturday and stressed they were not in their current positions at the time of the initial investigation, thus were not across the rationale behind the decisions made.

Freudenstein said: "While I cannot speak about the original decision-making in 2018, what I can say is that faced with the same circumstances, and with the benefit of all relevant information about this matter, Cricket Australia would not make the same decisions today.

"I acknowledge that the decision clearly sent the wrong message to the sport, to the community and to Tim – that this kind of behaviour is acceptable and without serious consequences. The role of Australia captain must be held to the highest standards."

At the time of the investigation, David Peever was CA chair and James Sutherland was the organisation's CEO.

Freudenstein added: "A decision was made in 2018 and that decision was final. The details weren't known to anyone who've been on the board since that stage."

West Indies Women captain, Stafanie Taylor, has warned against complacency from her team as they begin their quest to qualify for the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup to be held in New Zealand from March to April in 2022.

The Windies Women open their campaign tomorrow at 2:30am local time against Ireland in Harare and Taylor has warned against underestimating their opponents.

“That’s one thing you don’t want to do. Everyone’s here to win the competition. We’re not here to take any team for granted. We’re here to play hard cricket and come out on top,” said Taylor.

With the West Indies Women having completed a 3-0 series sweep against Pakistan prior to their arrival in Harare, Taylor says she hopes the team can carry their momentum into the tournament.

“I think we had a good series against Pakistan so I would love to see us continue where we left off from there. We’ve been playing some good cricket and getting some really good scores from our top players and even the lesser batting line up," she said.

Taylor concedes, however, that even with the team entering the qualifiers in good form there are still areas that need improvement.

“In our batting, it’s running the first one hard, turning twos into threes. In bowling, bowlers need to get early wickets and eliminate the wides,” she said.

The captain also provided some insight into the confidence of the team coming off some good results before the tournament.

“The morale is pretty good, especially seeing batters getting runs. I think that’s something that we’ve been working on because we’ve been relying on the bowling department for quite some time now so it’s really nice that the batters have been scoring those runs,” she said.

The West Indies other group games will be Saturday, November 27th against Sri Lanka and Monday, November 29th against the Netherlands with both matches beginning at 2:30am local time.

The Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers feature nine teams divided into two groups.

West Indies Women are in group A alongside Ireland, Sri Lanka and The Netherlands while group B comprises Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Zimbabwe and the USA.

Papua New Guinea were also supposed to be in the field but had to withdraw after a Covid-19 outbreak within the team before boarding their flight to Zimbabwe.

The top three teams from each group will advance to the Super 6 phase and the top three teams at the end of that phase will qualify for the 2022 World Cup alongside Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa and England.

 

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