Spin duo Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been named in India's side for the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand at the Ageas Bowl.

The Black Caps did not face a frontline spinner in a 1-0 Test series victory over England, but they will have to contend with two in Southampton.

Ashwin and Jadeja were named in a five-match bowling attack along with Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah on the eve of an inaugural final that is due to start on Friday, but poor weather could result in an opening-day washout.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling are expected to be fit to return after missing the decisive second Test win over England at Edgbaston.

Watling will be playing in the final match of his professional career if he gets the nod to replace Tom Blundell.

Wednesday has been set aside as a reserve day in case a full five days cannot be completed and that may be required with rain and storms forecast.

New Zealand are top of the rankings and come into the game on a high after securing their first Test series win in England since 1999, hammering Joe Root's side by eight wickets early on day four.

They demonstrated their strength in depth by making six changes, with Matt Henry claiming the man of the match award after he was among the players to come into the side.

Skipper Williamson, who has been troubled by an elbow injury, is delighted with the strides his side have made and says there is more to come.

"There's been a lot of growth over a period of time so many challenges along the way every day but the team has bought into it and tried to move past those with a good attitude," the prolific batsman said.

"There is lot of hard work done over a long period of time to find ourselves here in the first final.

"It's exciting but for us it's just focusing on continuing that growth and trying to keep committing to the parts of our game that give us the best chance and that's where I know the guys will be focusing on. We are trying to look at the long game and try and improve all the time."

 

INDIA IN A QUEST FOR EXCELLENCE - KOHLI

Captain Virat Kohli says India will remain in a quest for excellence regardless of the outcome in the final.

He said: "For us as a team we have been on a quest for excellence for a while now. And we are going to continue to be on that path regardless of what happens in this game. We have no doubts whatsoever in our abilities and what we can do as a side.

"As an individual player, look, we won the 2011 World Cup which was a great moment for all of us. But cricket goes on. Just the way life goes on. And you have to treat failure and success the same way, and you have to treat the so-called outstandingly big moments pretty similar to the other moments as well.

"So, yes, it is an occasion that has to be enjoyed from our point of view, but it is not different for us or no more important for us than the first Test match that we played together as a young group of players back in the day when we were trying to come up the ranks. So, yes, the mindset remains the same."
 

BLACK CAPS SPOILT FOR CHOICE

New Zealand's bowlers tore through England in the second innings at Edgbaston, skittling them out for only 122 in another demonstration that the selectors are spoilt for choice.

Henry, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and India-born spinner Ajaz Patel did the damage as Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson were among the players given a chance to put their feet up.

Pacemen Southee and Jamieson starred when New Zealand whitewashed India 2-0 last year.

Southee was named man of the match with match figures of 9-110 in the first Test at Basin Reserve and Jamieson picked up the award in the second match, taking 5-45 in the first innings. 

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- The previous seven Tests matches between the two nations have seen each team pick up three wins (D1).
- India have lost each of their previous two matches at the venue against England, while this will be the Black Caps' first Test at the ground.
- Kohli's side have lost just one of their past seven Tests (W5, D1), the loss coming at home to England in February.
- No spinner has dismissed Williamson more times in Test cricket than Ashwin (five, also Pragyan Ojha). His false shot percentage of 21.9 per cent against Ashwin is his highest against any bowler he has faced a minimum of 150 balls.

Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel and middle-order batsman Darren Bravo have been recalled to the West Indies squad ahead of the second Betway Test match at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium in St Lucia starting on Friday, June 18.

Former West Indies captain Jason Holder has backed an ‘inexperienced’ batting line-up to eventually find its feet against better bowling attacks, on the back of a disappointing showing against South Africa in the opening Test match.

The start of the series against the visiting Proteas was no contest, with the regional team losing by an innings and 62 runs inside three days.  In a dreadful showing at the crease, the West Indies put up 259 in two innings and scored just 97 in the first innings.

After a string of positive performances against Bangladesh and then Sri Lanka, the outings at the crease against South Africa were more reminiscent of games last year, in New Zealand, where the Windies struggled to 385 in two innings against a fierce bowling attack and against England earlier in the year.

Holder believes the issue has to do with the team’s inexperience and the lack of cohesiveness it causes at the crease.

“It’s not every day that everyone will go out there and perform but what you would like is to have a bit more consistency and not have these massive imbalances when you get performances such as the one we had with our bat,” Holder told members of the media.

“You must also understand that we have a relatively inexperienced batting line-up.  Bonner is in about his fourth Test match, the same thing with Mayers, Joshua Da Silva, the majority of the top order is relatively inexperienced.  You only have Kraigg who has been around for a while, Powell coming back into the side…Roston coming back into the team after a little while as well,” he added.

“Guys are looking to re-engage themselves in the Test arena, some are looking to engage themselves for the very first time.  All these things add up in the grand scheme of things and we have to be a little more patient with this line-up.”

 

 

Despite being shot out twice for less than 300 runs at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium in the first Test against South Africa last week, West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach says pitches like the one they played on will help West Indies cricket in the long run.

On a grassy surface that offered bounce and pace to fast bowlers, South Africa bowled the West Indies out for scores of 97 and 162 while securing victory by an innings and 63 runs inside three days. South Africa made 322 in their only turn at-bat.

However, according to Roach, who took 2-64 from the 20 overs he bowled, said pitches like the one they played on will ultimately benefit the players in the region.

“I think the pitches benefit us in the long run, especially when we go on tours to South Africa and Australia where the bounce is a lot more,” Roach said.

“We wouldn’t be unfamiliar when we go to these countries. I think it’s good to have a pitch like this in the Caribbean we can prepare ourselves for these overseas tours.”

The bowler, who is a few days shy of his 33rd birthday, had a successful stint in May with Surrey in the English County Championship where he took 22 wickets at an average of 20.54. Among the 22 wickets were nine that he took in his final match against Middlesex.

He said the pitches he played on were different in nature to the one in St Lucia.

“Pitches don’t bounce much in England. There is a lot of movement because of the atmosphere and the amount of grass they put on the pitch,” he said, adding that he believes he and his teammates will need to adjust their game to suit the surface.

“The pitch in St Lucia bounced a lot more than I have seen in a while. It reminds me of a wicket in Australia or probably South Africa, so it’s about us adapting. It’s about taking on the challenge and trying to be as positive as we can.”

The West Indies will see how much they have adjusted to the St Lucia pitch when the second Betway Test begins on Friday.

 

Several top Australian cricketers including Pat Cummins, Marcus Stoinis and David Warner, have withdrawn from the white-ball tour of the West Indies, Cricket Australia has announced.

In addition, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, and Daniel Sams have also requested that they not be considered for the tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh for various reasons.

"We are naturally disappointed not to have all players available for the Australian team at this time however the National Selection Panel respects the decisions of those who have opted out of this tour," said head selector Trevor Hohns.

“Steve Smith was unavailable for selection due to an elbow injury and will now be able to use this time to fully recover ahead of the World Cup and home Ashes Series. Steve was disappointed to miss the tour with the decision made on medical grounds. International tours in the time of Covid-19 undoubtedly present many additional challenges for athletes.

"They also present opportunities for others and, in this case, the chance to push for selection in the Australian men’s T20 World Cup squad later this year and beyond. This is a great chance for these players to make a case for the World Cup and all are considered very real prospects of making that tournament by performing well across these tours.”

The 18-man squad comprises Aaron Finch (c) (Victoria), Ashton Agar (Western Australia), Wes Agar (South Australia), Jason Behrendorff (Western Australia), Alex Carey (South Australia), Dan Christian (New South Wales), Josh Hazlewood (New South Wales), Moises Henriques (New South Wales), Mitchell Marsh (Western Australia), Riley Meredith (Tasmania), Ben McDermott (Tasmania), Josh Philippe (Western Australia), Mitchell Starc (New South Wales), Mitchell Swepson (Queensland), Ashton Turner (Western Australia), Andrew Tye (Western Australia), Matthew Wade (Tasmania), and Adam Zampa (New South Wales).

Former West Indies captain and top all-rounder Jason Holder has urged caution in the development of young fast bowler Jayden Seales.

Despite some amount of debate surrounding the selection of the inexperienced player, the performance of the 19-year-old Seales was one of the few bright sparks in a wretched series for the regional team.

The teenager, who came into the line-up with the absence of Shannon Gabriel due to injury, claimed figures of 3 for 34 and overall figures of 3 for 75.  He did not get the chance at a second innings as South Africa only needed to bat once.  Prior to his debut, Seales had only played one First-Class match. 

While admitted to being delighted by the young bowler’s potential, Holder recommends caution as a necessity in ensuring he lives up to his full potential.

“I’m very excited for Jayden.  It was special to see not just the way he bowled but also the way the team rallied around him,” Holder told members of the media on Tuesday.

“I was actually commenting on his first Test wicket and everyone was saying they really enjoyed how he got around it.  I honestly felt like I was taking my first wicket when Jayden got his wicket,” he added.

“The most impressive thing for me about Jayden's debut is the sustenance of his consistency.  He was there, thereabouts nagging.  He asked tons of questions at multiple stages of the game, which is impressive for a 19-year-old.”

The sky’s the limit for him if he can just stay fit.  I just hope that we manage him well.  When I say manage him well, we still have to understand that for Jayden that’s his second first-class game, first Test match.  The body will take a little bit of time to adjust to the workload and we have to be careful not to bowl him to the ground.  I think sometimes we get excited by a young prospect like Jayden and throw him into all formats.  I would like to see a gradual build-up with him.”

West Indies coach Phil Simmons has insisted the team’s lack of productive opening partnerships continues to be a major concern.

While poor all-around batting display was the order of the day in a lopsided loss against South Africa in the first Test, the West Indies, as has become customary, had another slow start at the top of the innings.

The opening pair of captain Kraigg Brathwaite and recently recalled Shai Hope only managed to put 30 on the board in the first innings, with Brathwaite then partnering with another recalled batsman, Kieran Powell, to combine for 21 in the second innings.

Prior to this series, however, Brathwaite and opening partner John Campbell has had an average stuck at around the 22 mark for the last several series played.  Campbell has been ruled out of the current series with an injury.

On the back of the lopsided defeat to South Africa, Simmons insists it is an area the team is desperate to fix.

“It’s one of the things we have been desperately trying to work on because if you look back, a lot of times when we win Test matches against top teams, we have good opening stands,” Simmons recently told members of the media.

“It’s disappointing because when you look at the last 7 Test 100s scored by an opener, I think they were all scored by Kraigg.  So, it’s disappointing for us and we are trying to work very hard on that,” he added.

 

 

 

 

 

Kane Williamson and BJ Watling are expected to be fit to play for New Zealand against India in the ICC World Test Championship final at the Ageas Bowl.

Captain Williamson missed the second Test of the series with England due to an elbow issue, while a back injury stopped wicketkeeper Watling from playing in that game at Edgbaston.

However, the duo have both been included in a 15-man squad for the decider with India, which begins on Friday.

There is also a place for Ajaz Patel as the specialist spinner ahead of Mitchell Santner, while Colin de Grandhomme is the all-rounder and Will Young will provide batting cover. Tom Blundell - who took over behind the stumps in Birmingham - will be Watling's understudy.

Along with Santner, Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra are the other players to miss out on selection.

"There's had to be some tough calls with Mitchell and Daryl victims of the fierce competition we currently have for places in the Test side," said New Zealand coach Gary Stead.

"We’ve gone with Ajaz as our specialist spinner after an impressive outing at Edgbaston and we believe he could be a factor at the Ageas Bowl.

"Colin's been an integral member of our Test set-up for many years and it was great to see him return at Lord’s after a long injury lay-off. He’s a proven performer at the top level and we back him to do a job with the bat or the ball if called upon.

"Kane and BJ have certainly benefitted from their week of rest and rehabilitation and we expect them to be fit and available for the final."

Despite the absences of Williamson and Watling, a much-changed New Zealand side won the second Test against England, in the process securing a 1-0 series victory over their hosts.

The Black Caps are on an eight-match unbeaten run in the format, while India have lost just once in their previous seven Tests. In the past seven meetings between the countries, both have won three apiece to go along with a solitary draw.
 

New Zealand squad for ICC World Test Championship final: 

Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young

Cricket West Indies (CWI) President, Ricky Skerritt, has paid tribute to Desmond Haynes and the late Sir Learie Constantine, who are to be inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame later this month. The two are among 10 cricketers from across five eras who will be inducted.

West Indies greats Desmond Haynes and Sir Learie Constantine are to be inducted into the International Cricket Council’s Hall of Fame, it was announced today. The West Indies duo is among 10 legends of the sport, who are to be inducted to celebrate the prestigious history of Test cricket and to coincide with the first-ever ICC World Test Championship Final that begins on June 21.

The players to be inducted were selected from across five eras of the game and will join the ranks of the world’s greatest players.

Haynes was recognized for his contributions during the ODI-era from 1971-1995 during which time he played 116 Tests, scored 7,487 runs at 42.29 and was one half of the most prolific opening batting partnership in Test history alongside Gordon Greenidge.

He was capable of some destructive innings and combined impeccable timing with power in his stroke-making and has played four ICC World Cups in that era.

“I have played cricket with some of the greats of the game from the West Indies who are also inducted in the ICC Hall of Fame. That team from 1978 till about the 1990s was a fantastic team. As a young boy growing up in Barbados, I never dreamt that I would be one day inducted in the ICC Hall of Fame,” Haynes said in reaction to news of his induction.

“I have really come a long way and I am very happy for this honour. The journey was not smooth, I started playing cricket in a little area of St. James in Barbados where I was loved by everyone in the community, who also helped me stay out of trouble. This is also for my grandmother, my mum and my wife, all of whom supported me in my journey.”

 Bob Willis was the other player from that ODI era selected for the honour.

Sir Learie Constantine is among the players whose greatest contributions were during the Inter-War Era Players from 1918-1945.

Sir Learie Constantine played 18 Tests, scored 635 runs at 19.24, took 58 wickets at 30.10, and can be considered the first great West Indian all-rounder, playing with a flair and freedom that was decades ahead of his time. He was a champion not only amongst players but for his people too in their political and legal fight against racial discrimination. He was also the first black member of the House of Lords.

Among the other inductees were Aubrey Faulkner and Monty Noble from the Early Cricket Era (pre-1918). Stan McCabe from the Inter-War Era; Ted Dexter and Vinoo Mankad from the Post-War Era (1946-1970); and Andy Flower and Kumar Sangakara from the Modern Cricket Era (1996-2015).

The 10 icons inducted as part of this special edition were voted for by the ICC Hall of Fame Voting Academy, comprising living Hall of Fame members, a FICA representative, prominent cricket journalists and senior ICC figures.

The ICC’s independent statistician compiles a long list of ex-players or other significant cricketing figures for each era (based on the period during which they had their most significant impact) and these are presented to the Hall of Fame Nominations Committee, together with relevant statistics and brief commentary.

The Hall of Fame Nominations Committee subsequently convenes to select six names to be shortlisted in each of the five eras noted above.

The ICC Hall of Fame Voting Academy, comprising active Hall of Fame members, a FICA representative, prominent cricket journalists and senior ICC figures, vote online to identify their selections for induction in each of the five eras.

Results produced a weighted score, against which the top two individuals in each era are inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame. In the event of a tie, the players with the most first-choice votes take priority.

Joe Root insists lessons must be learned by his England side after they suffered an eight-wicket defeat to New Zealand in the second Test at Edgbaston.

New Zealand clinched just their third series win in England – and first since 1999 – as they eased to a win which takes them to the top of the ICC Test rankings.

The Black Caps, who face India in the ICC Test Championship final next week, did the damage on Saturday, leaving England heading into day four on 122-9 in their second innings.

Trent Boult dismissed Olly Stone with the first delivery on Sunday, and New Zealand tallied up the 38 they required to win within the hour, although Devon Conway and Will Young lost their wickets.

England do not play another Test series until August, when they host India, and Root knows there is much to improve upon.

"More than anything, it's what we can take from it. You can have bad sessions on occasion with the ball but you can't have a session like that with the bat," he said at the post-match presentation.

"That's cost us, but throughout the game New Zealand outplayed us. If we lose quick wickets, how are we going to get through that? Mentally we have to make sure we're resilient and we manage passages of play better.

"It's the lessons from watching the opposition, using the experience in the dressing room, and trying to make sure when you're in the same situation to don't make the same mistakes.

"You can look for excuses but they outplayed us, they played good cricket and we've not matched that. We know we're better than this."

England have white-ball series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan coming up, and Root is hoping a switch to a different format will offer a reset for some of the squad.

"Freeing the mind, look at the game in a different context, it can liberate you. It's the chance to go back into a different format and find rhythm," he added.

"You can never beat wickets and runs."

New Zealand stand-in captain Tom Latham surpassed 4,000 Test runs on Sunday, and fittingly clipped away the winning boundary.

"Great to have that performance, through the four days it was outstanding, with a few changes, everyone came out and did their roles. It was a complete team performance," he said.

"[England have] a fantastic attack, a lot of wickets among them. We played them really well on surfaces we weren't expecting at Lord's and here. I thought we adapted well."

Tom Latham surpassed 4,000 Test runs as he led New Zealand to a comprehensive eight-wicket triumph over England in the second Test at Edgbaston.

The damage had been done on Saturday, as England collapsed to 122-9 in their second innings, leaving the Black Caps on the verge of their first Test series win in England since 1999.

Trent Boult sent Olly Stone back to the pavilion with the first delivery of day four, leaving New Zealand chasing a mere 38.

Devon Conway was dismissed in the second over, though stand-in captain Latham (23) ticked off a milestone as New Zealand cruised to a maiden Test win at Edgbaston, setting themselves up for the ICC Test Championship final against India in emphatic fashion.

Any possibilities of complacency creeping in from New Zealand were dashed before a minute of play, Boult's supreme delivery nicking off Stone's edge and through to Tom Blundell.

A maiden over from James Anderson – whose record-setting Test match has not gone according to script – kept Latham, six off his 4,000th run in the longest format, at bay, and Stuart Broad subsequently gave the crowd something to cheer.

Conway fished at a delivery outside his off stump, with James Bracey gathering it in.

Latham and Will Young knew the Test was won, though, with sensible shots from New Zealand's stand-in skipper ticking him towards the landmark, which came when he nudged Broad for a single.

Mark Wood very nearly ran Latham out with an acrobatic, underarm throw from close range, though even that wicket would have been immaterial.

After clipping a brilliant shot through backward point, Young dragged a wider Stone delivery onto his stumps, but Latham fittingly had the final say.

A sublime flick to the legside boundary was followed up by a deft touch through to third man to seal a 1-0 series win, just New Zealand's second in England.

No home comforts for sorry England

England's footballers get their Euro 2020 campaign started on Sunday, and the Edgbaston crowd were singing "football's coming home" as they watched the cricketers learn a brutal lesson in the Birmingham sunshine.

Joe Root's team, who have lost a series on home soil for the first time since 2014, do not convene again until they host India in August. While they had injuries to key players, along with off-the-field issues that marred the first Test, England have much to improve on, with their batting once again letting their bowling attack down.

Black Caps top the rankings as dominance over England rolls on

With this triumph, New Zealand have moved ahead of India to the top of the ICC Test rankings, though the ultimate test will of course come in the inaugural ICC Test Championship final against Virat Kohli's team in Southampton next week.

New Zealand may have ended a dismal run in England, but overall, they have now not lost a Test to them since 2015 – a run of seven.

Kagiso Rabada took five wickets to help South Africa to victory over West Indies by an innings and 63 runs in the first Test in St Lucia on Saturday.

The tourists carried a lead of 143 into day three and completed the job before lunch at the Daren Sammy Stadium for their first away Test victory since 2017.

Resuming play on 82-4, West Indies lost Jermaine Blackwood (13) and Jason Holder (four) early on before Roston Chase provided some temporary respite.

Chase added 62 runs for the hosts, but he was bowled by left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj and Rahkeem Cornwall was caught at mid-off by Rassie van der Dussen for a duck.

A fifth wicket for Rabada followed soon after, with Joshua Da Silva (nine) doing little to extend the session.

Anrich Nortje claimed the last wicket as Jayden Seales (three) flashed at a wide ball and edged to Wiaan Mulder, giving South Africa a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.


RABADA LEADS THE WAY

The likes of Lungi Ngidi and Nortje played a big part in South Africa's dominant victory, but Rabada deserves particular praise after his first Test five-for since March 2018.

West Indies had no response to Rabada's bowling, which included the wickets of Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Blackwood, Da Silva and Cornwall.


CHASE RUNS NOT ENOUGH

The West Indies lost by an innings at home for the sixth time in 253 matches despite the best efforts of Chase, who top-scored for his side with 62 runs.

Chase was the only West Indies player to score above 20, a tally that included back-to-back boundaries to bring up his half-century off 122 balls.

England collapsed to 122-9 in their second innings against New Zealand at Edgbaston in the second Test – a paltry advantage of 37 that leaves Joe Root's side on the verge of a 1-0 series defeat.

Beginning their second innings 85 runs in arrears after dismissing New Zealand for 388, the hosts lost Rory Burns for nought to the second ball of the innings – the opener reaching for a Matt Henry delivery and edging to stand-in captain Tom Latham at second slip.

Henry (3-36) got one to nip back at Dom Sibley (8), who could only squirt the ball to Daryl Mitchell in the cordon, and it was 30-3 when the seamer trapped the off-colour Zak Crawley lbw for 17.

Crawley reviewed more in hope than expectation, much like Ollie Pope, whose breezy 23 off 20 balls ended when all-action left arm paceman Neil Wagner brought one back in to the right hander.

Like Burns, Dan Lawrence followed passing 80 in the first innings with a second-ball duck, Wagner (3-18) having him caught behind before Ajaz Patel again exposed the folly of England failing to pick a specialist spinner.

Patel bowled James Bracey (8) sweeping and when Root edged to keeper Tom Blundell when trying to cut the slow left-armer – concluding a painstaking 11 from 61 deliveries – the game was emphatically up for his side.

That brought Mark Wood and Olly Stone together with the score on 76-7, something of an unfair predicament for the two fast bowlers, who worked tirelessly on a fairly benign surface to briefly bring their team back into the contest.

New Zealand had progressed to 290-3, within 13 of England's first-innings total, when Stone (2-92) had Ross Taylor caught behind for 80, with Henry Nicholls (21) falling in similar fashion to Wood (2-85).

Stuart Broad (4-48) had Blundell caught by Root at slip for 34 and got Patel lbw for 20 on review to finish as the pick of the England attack.

By stumps he had been and gone with the bat, bowled by Trent Boult for one after Wagner ended Wood's fun on 29, leaving Stone (15 not out) with only last man James Anderson for company.

South African pace bowler Lungi Ngidi has hailed the potential of West Indies debutant Jayden Seales who claimed a hat-trick on debut for the regional team earlier this.

The West Indies have had a mediocre start to the first Test, with the young bowler’s performance on the first day, where he claimed 3 for 34 one of the few highlights of the match so far.

The inclusion of the 19-year-old, in the absence of lead strike bowler Shannon Gabriel, had proven to be somewhat of a controversial decision.  Critics insisted that the player’s limited experience, having played one First-Class match prior to his debut, meant that more experienced bowlers were being overlooked in his favour.

Ngidi, who himself lit up the first day for South Africa after claiming a sensational 5 for 19, insisted that he had so far been impressed with the young bowler’s talent.

 "He is a bit of a danger and a very exciting future lies ahead for West Indies with him in the line-up," Ngidi told members of the media.

"I was keeping a really good eye on him and his seam presentation is pretty much what I tried to do when I was bowling. I think he has a great wrist behind the ball and a very clean action and he seems he can run in all day."

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