Courtney Lawes insisted England are beginning to show their teeth in attack after they posted a bonus-point victory over Japan in their World Cup clash at the Stade de Nice.

England defied greasy conditions caused by the high humidity to emerge 34-12 winners, a messy and occasionally bewildering victory placing them in full control of Pool D.

A barrage of kicking in the first-half gave way to three tries being added when the match opened up, including Lawes’ comical try which he touched down after the ball had struck Joe Marler’s head.

“It was quite a lucky try but I’ll take them how they come. It was a good bit of luck for us and in these conditions, you take what you’re given,” Lawes said.

“I saw it ricochet off Joe’s head so I went to score the try just in case, but I was pretty sure that it had gone backwards and then come off his head. I had a good idea that it was going to be given.

“The conditions were tough. Even when you’ve got a good grasp of the ball you’d go into contact and you could feel it almost spinning out of your hands, sometimes even before you’ve made contact.

“It’s actually really challenging at the moment because it’s just so greasy. It’s hot and humid and you’re already really sweaty. It pretty much makes it like a wet weather game out there.

“We showed glimpses of how good our attack can be and we’ll continue to work on it.

“We’re getting better every day and that’s the main thing – that we’re taking steps forward.

“Come later on in the competition we’ll hope that we’re firing on all cylinders.”

England were booed by their own fans during the early stages of the second-half in response to the sheer volume of their kicking, which was eventually replaced by all out assault on the Japan line.

“The players did tremendously well,” said head coach Steve Borthwick, who revealed that Ben Earl suffered a dead leg.

“That was a really tough Test against a really well coached Japanese side who clearly came with a tactical plan and who play the game differently to anyone else in the world.”

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph admitted the Brave Blossoms paid the price for failing to show more ruthlessness in attack.

“We put them under a lot of pressure and we created opportunities but we didn’t take them because we made too many mistakes. That’s Test rugby,” Joseph said.

“England are an experienced Test side and over time they wore us down. That’s the nature of the game at the highest level.

“It’s disappointing for us because we put a lot of emotion into this week, but we’ll take the learnings from it.

“I was happy with the intensity but we just made too many mistakes when we were under the pump. The players are hurting but that’s footy.”

England have finalised their 15-man Cricket World Cup squad after dropping Jason Roy from the provisional list in favour of Harry Brook.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how the decision was reached and what it means.

How big of a surprise is Roy’s omission?

Roy has been a mainstay of the team for the past eight years and forged one of the most productive opening partnerships in history alongside Jonny Bairstow. Just a few months ago, travelling to India without him would have looked a fanciful notion, but things have changed quickly.

His form over the last four-year cycle has been patchy – well below what came before – and when back spasms saw him ruled out of the recent series against New Zealand, question over the opener’s place got louder and louder by the day.

So was it an issue of form or fitness?

Surely both. Had Roy been in peak condition he would have faced the Black Caps and been in control of his own destiny.

The back spasms, which came in two separate bursts, were a concern on the eve of the tournament that will test the durability of players over seven weeks. But England are not hiding behind that issue and the selectors were also mindful that Roy was no longer undroppable.

His influence has been on the slide for a while and he was also axed from the T20 squad just before last year’s World Cup. In summary, Brook was backed as a superior option.

Is this the end of his international career?

It would not be a surprise if Roy has played his last England match.

A wider changing of the guard is expected once the tournament is completed and with Roy already losing his place in the T20 team last year, he could have reached the end of the road.

Earlier this year he cancelled the remainder of his ECB central contract to take up a deal in the United States’ Major League Cricket and, at 33, life as a hired hand on the franchise circuit may appeal.

What about the reserve list?

England will have the chance to take three additional squad members as travelling cover, but it could be too much to expect Roy to fill that role in the circumstances.

Instead, they may look to the second string who start an ODI series against Ireland on Wednesday. That brings the likes of Ben Duckett, Phil Salt and Will Jacks into consideration, with the latter’s spin bowling an interesting factor.

Who made the decision?

Head coach Matthew Mott and captain Jos Buttler both have a key say in the team they lead, with the influential director of cricket Rob Key and national selector Luke Wright also involved. None were in post when a similar move was made in 2019 to bring Jofra Archer in at David Willey’s expense.

How did Brook make his case?

On the face of it, the Yorkshireman put in a modest audition during three innings in the recent New Zealand series, totalling just 37 runs. But he has had an exceptional start to his international career, including some eye-catching efforts in this summer’s Ashes.

His immediate reaction to being left out of the provisional squad – a blistering century in The Hundred, followed by rapid knocks of 43 not out and 67 in T20s against the Black Caps, was exactly the response required to inspire a U-turn.

Will he come straight into the team?

Dawid Malan is inked in to open with Bairstow after a prolific spell standing in for Roy. He goes about his business in a different way to Roy, a slower starter but a more consistent scorer, but has thoroughly earned his chance.

Brook will likely start the tournament as the spare batter but has the versatility to cover any of the top six. At some point during a seven-week competition, he should get his opportunity.

George Ford has been working with Jonny Wilkinson to turn the drop-goal into a weapon at the World Cup.

Ford landed three as England opened the tournament with a 27-10 rout of Argentina in Marseille last Saturday and is ready to continue using them if the opportunity arises.

To assist with the tactic, the Sale fly-half has been perfecting his technique with Wilkinson, who famously landed the drop-goal that enabled England to lift the World Cup in 2003.

“Jonny’s big thing is don’t worry about the posts,” said Ford, who continues in the number 10 jersey for Sunday’s showdown with Japan in Nice.

“Obviously you need to know where they are, but the only thing you can control is what you do in terms of how you place the ball and what you do with your body.

“Jonny said you can have the ugliest drop in the world but if you get your body right and the ball is in the slot, and you get the momentum of your body towards the target, you can do it.

“How many drop goals do you see that flap over? A lot of kickers say if you speak to kids growing up they are constantly looking at the posts as if they are going move to make the ball go over.

“The drop-goal has probably been underused. You watch Jonny’s era in 2003 and 2007 and the influence drop-goals had on the game then was enormous.

“Maybe the game has tipped the balance the other side of the spectrum where everyone thinks you need to score tries every two minutes, but you need a variety of ways of scoring.

“We had spoken quite a bit about them in pre-season and how big they can be, especially at World Cups. They can be really effective and hopefully we can show that again.”

In training, Ford competes with fellow playmakers Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith to see how many drop-goals they can kick – under the watchful eye of rugby league great Kevin Sinfield, who is now England’s defence coach.

“It is interesting speaking to Kev because in rugby league you might not see as many drop-goals because it is only worth one point,” Ford said.

“But he said as soon as play-off games came around, how much they practised went through the roof because they knew they would need a couple in a semi or a final, so we are doing this thing at the minute where we kick until we miss.

“Obviously if you don’t kick many before you miss you might go again, but there is a fair bit of competition and pressure between myself, Owen and Marcus when we are doing it.

“We are bringing lads over to come and put pressure on us, because we are not daft, you are not in armchair. You need to make it as realistic as possible.”

Maro Itoje insists England will do whatever it takes to win if a substance over style approach emerges as their blueprint for success at the World Cup.

George Ford kicked all 27 points in their rout of Argentina last Saturday as England responded to the third-minute dismissal of Tom Curry for a dangerous tackle by grinding the Pumas into submission.

It was a rousing riposte to a dismal warm-up campaign but having excelled in defence and shown the smarts to shape their gameplan according to events, a potent attack remains elusive.

Free running Japan are the next assignment at the Stade de Nice on Sunday and while Itoje would prefer to see England run riot, he will take a victory any way it comes.

When asked if it matters how the team win, Itoje said: “For me, it’s by any means necessary.

“Obviously, we like to score tries and we’d like to score loads of tries. But for me it’s by any means necessary as long as we get the win.

“Every game’s different and is going to present different challenges. The task is to find ways to get on the positive side of the result.

“We know Japan move the ball. We know they are a very clever team that comes up with clever plays. However, the goal and task is to enforce an English style of rugby on this game.

“We want to show our best hand and we want to defend it well. We want to impose our physicality.

“We want to get into our set piece game and when the opportunity is right our generals will fire us in attack. Yes Japan move the ball, but it is about us imposing our will on them.

“Japan run the ball more than Argentina and are very aggressive with how they play and the spirit and the energy of how they play.”

Japan are not the force that lit up the 2019 World Cup with the pandemic hitting them harder than any other international side as they were prevented from playing a Test for two years.

If, as expected, England dispatch a team who have fallen to 14th in the global rankings they will have clear sight of a place in the quarter-finals with group games against Chile and Samoa left to play.

But Jamie George accepts that if they are to progress further in the competition, they must develop more strings to their bow.

“If we’re going to win a World Cup, which is what we’re here to do, we know that we’re going to have to kick on from where we were,” George said.

“The great English teams that I watched growing up and that I have been a part of based their teams around great defence and great set piece.

“As long as we are doing that I think our attacking game flows off the back of that. We have got players who can do special things.

“You have just seen the start of us in this tournament. We hope you will see us score points in different ways.”

Lewis Ludlam’s understated influence has won the approval of Steve Borthwick after England’s unsung hero was picked ahead of Billy Vunipola at number eight for Sunday’s World Cup clash with Japan.

Vunipola has completed his two-match suspension for a dangerous tackle against Ireland last month but the hard-carrying Saracen is limited to a bench role for the Stade de Nice showdown.

Instead, Ludlam has been rewarded for his defensive masterclass as a replacement in the 27-10 win over Argentina on Saturday by filling the hole in the back row created by Tom Curry’s suspension, also for an illegal challenge.

Ben Earl switches from number eight to openside to accommodate the return of Ludlam, who played every minute of this year’s Six Nations and has been one of England’s most consistent performers of recent times.

The versatile Northampton skipper’s elevation above the less mobile Vunipola is a nod to Japan’s high tempo tactics, which assistant coach Kevin Sinfield has compared to Barcelona’s tiki-taka style of football.

Borthwick believes the quality of Ludlam’s performances deserve greater recognition.

“We’ve been really impressed by Lewis in training and I’ve been really impressed with his impact from the bench,” England’s head coach said.

“With the nature of this game and the challenge Japan pose, I thought Lewis was the right person to start. He carries, he runs hard and covers a lot of ground in defence, which I don’t think people often see.

“What he does often goes under the radar. He’s that type of player and we value that here. Lewis is a great energy giver. He is a great driver of this squad and very generous in helping other team-mates improve. You always need those type of players in your team.

“He has been a key leader of his club side for many seasons and I have seen that growth in him as a leader.”

Two further changes in personnel have been made in the front row where Kyle Sinckler and Joe Marler displace Dan Cole and Ellis Genge as starting props.

Sinckler has recovered from the pectoral injury that limited his game time during the warm-up Tests and prevented him from facing the Pumas in the Pool D opener in Marseille.

The 30-year-old tighthead will be making his first World Cup appearance since being knocked out in the final against South Africa four years ago.

“It’s great to see Kyle Sinckler back in the team. He probably could have played against Argentina but he’s now absolutely 100 per cent this week,” Borthwick said.

“I saw a great advancement in the consistency of his game in the Six Nations. What I see of him now is physically a guy who is in great shape.

“He’s exceptionally strong and he’s moving really well. I sense the hunger in him and a desire in him to want to do exceptionally well for England in this World Cup.”

Borthwick has retained the same backline that featured against Argentina with George Ford given another opportunity to argue his case for being viewed as first choice fly-half.

Owen Farrell completes his four-match ban – once again for a dangerous tackle – versus Japan and becomes available for the last two group matches against Chile and Samoa, forcing Borthwick to make a difficult call at 10.

England will march on to a place in the quarter-finals if they topple Japan, who are not the dynamic force that captured hearts and minds at the last World Cup when they reached the knockout phase for the first time.

Having risen to tier-one status, they have now slipped to 14th in the global rankings but at least opened the tournament with a thumping 42-12 victory over Chile.

Dawid Malan’s series-clinching century against New Zealand pushed him into pole position to open in England’s World Cup defence next month, as question marks continued to linger over Jason Roy.

Roy was once again missing due to back spasms, meaning he has been sidelined for all four games against the Black Caps, and Malan produced a gem of an innings to lay claim to his top-order spot.

He made a superb 127 from 114 balls at his old home ground of Lord’s, steering England to a score of 311 for nine that the tourists never came close to matching.

They succumbed for 211, going down by exactly 100 on the night and 3-1 overall, as Moeen Ali spun his way to figures of four for 50.

It is only a matter of days since Malan was being floated as a potential fall-guy should Harry Brook find himself parachuted into the squad for the tournament in India, but he has picked his moment expertly, following knocks of 54 and 96 with his fifth ODI ton.

Now, rather than finding himself squeezed out of the trip entirely, he seems likelier to slide into the first-choice XI.

Roy, England’s long-established opener, was left kicking his heels in the dressing room once more and may now be sweating over his place. He was one of the stars of England’s 2019 triumph but his fitness issues have emerged at the worst possible time as the final squad announcement nears.

Captain Jos Buttler, who admitted at the toss that Roy is frustrated by his struggles, suggested England could add the Surrey man to a second-string side that faces Ireland next week in a bid to get him up and running.

His absence opened the door for Malan and he played his part impeccably, scoring 14 boundaries and three sixes as he occupied the crease for 40 overs with a combination of touch and timing that eluded his team-mates. When he finally departed, reaching for a cut and nicking Rachin Ravindra, it was an ill-fitting end.

By then he had eased past 1,000 ODI runs in his 21st appearance – claiming a share of Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott’s joint record. With an average of 61.52 and a strike-rate of 96.52, he has a formidable track record by any reckoning.

England rested Ben Stokes after the exertions of his record-breaking 182 on Wednesday evening but Brook was unable to make a go of his chance at number four, allowing Roy some respite.

Brook was dismissed for 10 when he hit a Ravindra drag down straight to mid-on and, with 37 from his three outings this series, has failed to amplify his case. Joe Root’s struggle for rhythm also continued, twice dropped in single figures before losing his stump for 29 aiming a slog sweep at Ravindra, who finished with four for 60.

Tim Southee paid a heavy price for his handling error in the 14th over, leaving the field for X-rays which revealed a fractured and dislocated right thumb. Like Roy, his World Cup place now hangs in the air.

Buttler was the best of the rest for England, chipping in a lively 36, before New Zealand took five for 68 in a busy final 10.

Just 48 hours earlier New Zealand had fallen short by a massive margin of 181 batting second and would have been eager to show greater resolve this time.

England, though, refused to let them into the game. Buttler took care of the dangerous Devon Conway in the fifth over, flinging off his right glove and running the opener out with an opportunistic effort behind the stumps, then held on to Will Young as David Willey found an outside.

Having failed to bring the required power to the powerplay, and with news of Southee’s fractured thumb emerging, an air of resignation appeared to take hold. Twice in a row a Buttler bowling change paid off in the first over, Brydon Carse firing one into Daryl Mitchell’s off stump with a nipping delivery approaching 90mph and Moeen darting an off-break down the slope and right through Tom Latham.

At 88 for four, and with two injured tailenders, it looked like game over. Ravindra completed a productive evening in north London by smashing 61 from number seven, but by then Moeen had already done enough.

He had Henry Nicholls lbw thanks to Buttler’s insistence on calling for DRS, then picked off Kyle Jamieson and Matt Henry with successive deliveries. Ben Lister defied a hamstring strain to block the hat-trick before Sam Curran ended Ravindra’s spree with a yorker.

England head coach Steve Borthwick has highlighted World Rugby’s inconsistent approach to disciplinary issues.

Tom Curry was sent off in the third minute of Saturday’s World Cup victory over Argentina for a dangerous tackle and received a two-match ban, yet similar incidents involving South Africa’s Jesse Kriel and Martin Sigren of Chile failed to produce a dismissal, citing or suspension.

It has raised concerns over the officiating of illegal challenges involving the head.

Borthwick also highlighted that when Owen Farrell was sent off for a dangerous tackle against Wales and then cleared by a disciplinary hearing, World Rugby intervened by appealing against the decision.

“There has been a large amount of commentary from different sources about what appears to be a lack of consistency and transparency in the decision making process,” Borthwick said.

“Now it’s not my role to comment on that, it’s World Rugby’s. I also note there was a tremendous amount of comment from World Rugby on Owen Farrell for a couple of weeks during our preparation for this tournament.

“It was a situation that went on and on with lots of comment from World Rugby. I note there hasn’t been very many comments from World Rugby – I’m told – in the last week or so. I will leave that to World Rugby.”

Gareth Anscombe has revealed how he feared his Rugby World Cup hopes might have been destroyed by injury for a second successive tournament.

The Wales fly-half missed Japan 2019 after suffering an horrific knee injury during a World Cup warm-up game against England that sidelined him for two years.

Anscombe fought back to put himself on the international stage once more – then injury struck again during Wales’ World Cup training camp in Turkey earlier this summer.

An attempted tackle on George North left Anscombe with a thumb problem that resulted in scans and him having to wear a plaster cast for a month, ruling him out of Wales’ three pre-World Cup Tests.

“I suppose I had a night there in Turkey where I thought I was done again, and that was devastating,” said Anscombe, who starts Saturday’s Pool C clash against Portugal at Stade de Nice.

“You have some dark thoughts then, but thankfully I had some luck on my side for once.

“It didn’t look great at the start, and the initial prognosis was it was probably going to need surgery, but thankfully the scans came back better than first thought.

“I had to be in a cast for a month, which was difficult, but at least I could still run.

“I missed the warm-up games, but to have the backing of the coaching staff was great. They spoke to me and said I was still in their plans, which was nice to hear.

“It has been about getting myself right and ready for when an opportunity presented itself, and here we are this weekend.”

Anscombe is one of eight survivors from Wales’ 2015 World Cup squad to be involved eight years later, and he offers considerable experience through 35 caps.

And the New Zealand-born number 10 is relishing a chance to play his part as Wales aim to reach the World Cup knockout phase for a fourth successive tournament.

He features in a team showing 13 changes from the side that toppled Fiji, and it is Anscombe’s first World Cup appearance since he started at full-back against quarter-final conquerors South Africa eight years ago.

“We know there are parts of our performance that we need to improve if we want to progress deep into this tournament,” he added. “But it was a great start (against Fiji).

“There has been an element of confidence brewing. The more time we spend together, we always improve.

“You look back to the Six Nations, a new coaching group and a fairly volatile situation in Welsh rugby.

“We’ve just been able to get away from a bit of the noise, which I think has been important for us as a group. Getting away in Switzerland and Turkey, focusing on ourselves.

“You always need an element of luck in World Cups, with injuries and decisions. We just hope to slowly go about our work and ride the wave.

“We had fantastic support on the weekend. I think more people will jump on the plane over and get behind us. I think you see when Welsh fans get behind us, who knows what can happen.”

An emotional Andy Murray broke down in tears at the end of an epic Davis Cup win over Swiss debutant Leandro Riedi after revealing he was missing his grandmother’s funeral to play in the tie.

Murray needed all his nous to grind out a 6-7 (7) 6-4 6-4 victory in three hours and 10 minutes at Manchester’s AO Arena, giving Great Britain a 1-0 lead over Switzerland.

At the end of what had been a light-hearted on-court interview, the Scot choked up, revealing the added significance of his victory.

“Today is a tough day for me, it’s my gran’s funeral today,” he said. “I’m sorry to my family that I’m not able to be there but gran, this one’s for you.”

Murray then returned to his bench where he sat sobbing into his towel.

It made his efforts in coming through another long and tense battle even more impressive.

Murray had only lost three of his previous 35 singles matches in the competition and never to a player ranked as low as world number 152 Riedi, but the big-hitting 21-year-old produced a performance well above that.

Having seen his gamble to play debutant Jack Draper and Dan Evans handsomely pay off in Wednesday’s victory over Australia, captain Leon Smith made use of his options by naming Murray and Cameron Norrie as his singles players here.

Evans’ 0-5 record against Wawrinka may have played a part in his thinking along perhaps with caution not to overplay Draper considering his physical fragility this year.

Murray played singles against Kazakhstan at the same stage last year but only once Britain were already eliminated, making this his first live singles rubber in the competition since 2019 and only his second in seven years.

Switzerland also sprung a surprise by picking Riedi ahead of their number two Dominic Stricker, and Murray admitted that had thrown him having prepared to face a left-hander.

After negotiating an 11-minute first game, the Scot broke serve immediately and had a chance to open up a 4-0 lead.

He could not take it, though, and Riedi worked his way into the contest, beginning to cause Murray increasing problems with his big forehand and aggressive tactics.

They earned him a break back when the Scot served for the set at 5-3, and Murray was then unable to take two set points in the tie-break, Riedi converting his first opportunity with his 22nd winner.

The young Swiss, who had never previously beaten a top-50 player, had his tail up and Murray kicked his bag in frustration after failing to break in the third game of the second set.

He finally made the breakthrough at 3-3 when Riedi double-faulted, only for the 21-year-old to leave his opponent rooted to the spot with a series of blistering returns.

Undeterred, Murray engineered another break and this time held onto it with trademark grim determination to level the match.

The 36-year-old has been in similar situations hundreds of times during his career and ultimately experience won out, although it was still nip and tuck, with Murray slamming his racket to the court after handing an early break back in the decider.

He broke again to lead 3-2, though, and quashed Riedi’s hopes of a comeback by taking his first match point with an ace.

Murray said: “It’s obviously incredible to get through that one, it easily could have gone the other way.

“It was ridiculous the shots he was pulling off, amazing, amazing returning. I kept fighting and tried to stay focused and managed to turn it round.”

Nat Sciver-Brunt reflected with pride on her record-breaking century as England brought the curtain down on their summer in barnstorming fashion by thrashing Sri Lanka.

On her 100th ODI and captaining the side in the absence of the unwell Heather Knight, Sciver-Brunt demonstrated a masterclass in controlled aggression to peel off a stunning 66-ball hundred.

It was the fastest ton in a women’s ODI by an England batter – eclipsing Charlotte Edwards’ 70-ball effort from March 2012 – as the hosts prevailed by a whopping 161 runs to seal a 2-0 series win.

Sciver-Brunt holed out for 120 off 74 balls, her third three-figure score in her last four ODI innings, having helped England draw a gripping multi-format Ashes series with back-to-back hundreds in July.

“I’m really happy to bat the way I did and continue with what I was doing against Australia as well,” Sciver-Brunt said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Sciver-Brunt was rested from the preceding three T20s between the teams, where England suffered a shock defeat, but the 31-year-old has felt the benefit of some downtime in a hectic summer programme.

She has been managing a knee problem for several months and played in this series as a specialist batter but anticipates returning to all-rounder duties on England’s tour of India before Christmas.

“The decision not to bowl post-Ashes was more to give the body a bit of a rest,” she said. “I’m looking forward to picking up the ball again. I want to influence games as much as I can.

“That’s the best part of being an all-rounder and fielding for 50 overs and not really being able to influence with the ball was a little bit frustrating but I was happy to have the body break for that.

“When we play so much cricket through the summer, we probably don’t need to train too many things, just be right in the mind and body and hopefully continue that mindset that I had (in the Ashes).”

England were bogged down by Sri Lanka’s spinners in the T20s when batting first and may have feared the worst when Tammy Beaumont and Alice Capsey were dismissed early in a match reduced to 31 overs per side at Grace Road because of rain that led to the start time being pushed back by more than three hours.

But Sciver-Brunt exhibited why she is so instrumental, taking on the coterie of off-spinners and slow left-armers, punching with aplomb off the back foot and displaying her full range with fluid drives, pulls, sweeps and one scoop for 18 fours and a single six.

Maia Bouchier, featuring in just her third ODI and in her second innings in the format, provided ample support with 95 off only 65 balls.  The 24-year-old opener crashed a dozen fours and two sixes in a 193-run stand from just 121 deliveries with Sciver-Brunt.

“She’s a fantastic player,” England head coach Jon Lewis said of his stand-in captain.

“It’s the calmness she brings – and I thought we saw that in abundance here. The calmness she brought to Maia in a situation when we were 18 for two, she’s come out with an authority.”

Sciver-Brunt was the first to three figures but Bouchier could have made sure her team-mate’s record lasted just a few minutes had she dispatched her 65th ball for six, only to be trapped lbw.

“I was absolutely gutted for her that she didn’t score a hundred because I know that when she does score a hundred, she’ll score a lot of hundreds,” Lewis added. “She’s incredibly talented.”

Sciver-Brunt and Bouchier underpinned a mammoth 273 for eight, a total which would have stretched Sri Lanka in a regulation 50-over game and the tourists were never in contention in the chase.

They capitulated to 112 all out in 24.5 overs, as Charlie Dean claimed five for 31, her maiden five-wicket haul for England which the off-spinner recognised was built on Sciver-Brunt’s stunning knock.

“She’s the best all-rounder in the world, the best batter,” Dean said. “She brings a lot to the team, she definitely elevates us with her standards alone.

“I guess she goes under the radar with her leadership – she’s so calm. We have so many players that can do similar but there’s only one Nat Sciver-Brunt.”

Stand-in captain Nat Sciver-Brunt marked her 100th ODI with a record-breaking century as England thumped Sri Lanka to wrap up their summer in scintillating fashion.

Deputising for an under-the-weather Heather Knight, Sciver-Brunt gave a masterclass in controlled aggression as she flayed a 66-ball hundred – the fastest in women’s ODIs by an England batter.

After eclipsing the previous best off 70 balls by Charlotte Edwards against New Zealand in March 2012, Sciver-Brunt made 120 from 74 deliveries before England prevailed by 161 runs for a 2-0 series win.

Her record would only have stood for a couple of minutes if Maia Bouchier had hit her 65th ball for six but she was lbw for 95, ending a boundary-laden 193-run stand in 121 deliveries with Sciver-Brunt.

Their efforts underpinned England’s mammoth 273 for eight in a contest reduced to 31 overs each because of a rain-delayed start at Grace Road, with Charlie Dean’s five for 31 hastening Sri Lanka’s demise to 112 all out in a doomed pursuit.

Bouchier and Sciver-Brunt came together after England had lurched to 18 for two, with Tammy Beaumont edging a wild heave to slip before a flat-footed Alice Capsey saw her stumps disturbed by a Udeshika Prabodhani inswinger.

With Sri Lanka’s coterie of spinners still to bowl, England might have feared the worst in their final outing of their summer programme.

They laboured when batting first against Sri Lanka’s slower options in a shock defeat in the preceding T20 series, but Sciver-Brunt was rested for those matches and she exhibited why she is regarded as one of the best batters against spin in the women’s game.

After taking two singles from her first seven deliveries, Sciver-Brunt settled into her stride with one of several back-foot punches through cover off Inoka Ranaweera before larruping through midwicket to bring up England’s 50 and then shimmying down to the slow left-armer and elegantly driving for six.

Opposite number Chamari Athapaththu rotated her options but the spinners offered very little threat and no containment, with all of them going at more than 10 an over when Bouchier and Sciver-Brunt batted.

Sciver-Brunt drove, pulled and swept expertly, scooping once, going proficiently through the gears as she brought up her third ton in four ODI innings, reaching the milestone in understated fashion as she nudged seamer Achini Kulasuriya off her pads for a single.

Bouchier offered ample support. This was just her second ODI innings but she matched Sciver-Brunt blow for blow, registering a dozen fours and two sixes, having benefited from Emma Lamb’s continued absence with a back spasm.

Her timing was excellent as she effortlessly whipped left-armer Prabodhani and fellow seamer Hansima Karunaratne over the leg-side fence, while she was also fluent driving down the ground and pulling across the line.

https://x.com/englandcricket/status/1702357098393145776?s=20

After three successive fours off Oshadi Ranasinghe, Bouchier might have been stumped on 55 when she overbalanced against the off-spinner but wicketkeeper Anushka Sanjeewani fumbled the take.

Bouchier was eventually out five short of a maiden hundred after playing all around one from Kavisha Dilhari, but the opener’s innings went some way to justifying England giving their fringe players a chance in this series.

Sciver-Brunt had not offered so much of a sniff in compiling the sixth fastest ODI century in the women’s game but her stay, containing 18 fours and a six, ended when she holed out to long-off off Ranaweera.

Her departure marked the start of England losing five wickets in their last 32 balls although debutant Bess Heath’s cameo 21 off 14 deliveries helped them add 50 to a monumental total that would have stretched Sri Lanka in a regulation 50-over game.

Having amassed 106 for nine in Tuesday’s abandonment at Northampton and been skittled for an identical total in a seven-wicket defeat at Chester-le-Street on Saturday, Sri Lanka simply never got going.

Lauren Filer continued her excellent summer by uprooting Sanjeewani’s middle stump and castling Imesha Dulani. Teenage left-arm seamer Mahika Gaur, recalled after being rested at Wantage Road, located the outside edge of Harshitha Samarawickrama before Charlie Dean ran amok.

Unperturbed at being thrashed for two fours in her first over, Dean invited another swipe from Athapaththu, who missed a slog sweep and fell lbw to the off-spinner for the second match in a row.

The Sri Lanka captain was the big wicket and any faint hope disappeared with her although Dean still rubberstamped the win by snaring Karunaratne, Hasini Perera and Dilhari in the same over.

A maiden five-for in England colours was assured when Prabodhani dragged on and Sri Lanka quickly subsided in 24.5 overs.

Stand-in captain Nat Sciver-Brunt marked a landmark appearance with the quickest women’s one-day international century by an England batter against Sri Lanka at Grace Road.

On her 100th ODI, Sciver-Brunt led England in the absence of ill Heather Knight and thrashed a 66-ball hundred, beating the record held by Charlotte Edwards off 70 deliveries against New Zealand in 2012.

Her record might have lasted only a few minutes but Maia Bouchier, unbeaten on 95 off 64 balls at the time Sciver-Brunt reached three figures, fell lbw when a six would have seen her set a new benchmark.

The pair put on a boundary-laden 193 in 121 balls to lift England to a mammoth 273 for eight in a contest reduced to 31 overs per side because of a rain delay that pushed back the start time more than three hours.

In the final match of their summer programme, England, leading 1-0, slipped to 18 for two in the fifth over but it was one-way traffic from then on as Bouchier and Sciver-Brunt starred.

Sri Lanka’s coterie of spinners came in for sustained punishment as Sciver-Brunt, who eventually holed out for 120 off 74 balls, and Bouchier, in just her second ODI innings, routinely took them on.

England got off to a false start as Tammy Beaumont, having been put down at midwicket in the previous over, edged a wild heave to slip while a flat-footed Alice Capsey was undone when left-arm seamer Udeshika Prabodhani nipped through her defences.

However, Bouchier, who had already expertly timed Prabodhani over the leg-side fence, then unfurled two glorious drives for four to ignite England’s charge, with the end of the six-over powerplay and introduction of the spinners working to their advantage.

Sciver-Brunt’s ability to stay back in her crease but pierce the off-field gaps was frequently exploited while she brought up England’s 50 with a whip off Inoka Ranaweera for four before shimmying down to the slow armer and elegantly driving for six.

Chamari Athapaththu frequently rotated her slow bowlers but they erred in line and length too often with no one able to stymie either Sciver-Brunt or Bouchier, who bludgeoned a free hit off seamer Hansima Karunaratne’s only over for six.

England’s 100 was brought up in the 13th over but, after thumping Oshadi Ranasinghe for three successive fours, Bouchier overbalanced and should have been stumped on 55 but Anushka Sanjeewani was unable to gather cleanly.

Sciver-Brunt missed a pull on 96 off a delivery that skidded on and kept low from Prabodhani as Athapaththu belatedly brought back her quicker bowlers, but the deputy England skipper went to her 100 in the next over, nudging Kulasuriya off her pads for a single.

Bouchier missed a hoick across the line and was given lbw, wisely electing against a review, but later in the over, Sciver-Brunt took three consecutive fours off Dilhari.

Sciver-Brunt slammed Ranaweera to long-off with 5.1 overs still left, with England losing five wickets for 40 at the end of their innings, although they were still able to get to a formidable total.

Chris Woakes says Ben Stokes’ record-breaking 182 gave England a timely reminder of what they can achieve with his “superhuman” skills.

Stokes was in rampant form against New Zealand on Wednesday, making the country’s highest ever ODI score in just his third innings since reversing his year-long retirement from the format.

With England’s World Cup defence less than three weeks away it was a perfect way for the man who carried them to victory in the 2019 final to prove his sense of occasion once again.

Stokes has nothing left to prove on the big stage but watching him bully England’s first World Cup opponents with nine sixes and 15 fours sent a wave of energy through the dressing room.

England went on to wrap up victory by a huge margin of 181 runs, another reminder that when he is in the side, the whole team walks a little taller.

“We obviously see Ben as this superhuman that can do incredible things. We know he can,” said Woakes, who picked up the baton with three early wickets in the field.

“It was great for the group and brilliant for Ben too. He’s an unbelievable cricketer but coming back into the team having retired, it will do his confidence a world of good.

“We always have doubts and performance anxieties at the best of times, so it’s great for his confidence and great for the team’s confidence and belief that we can post huge scores.

“It was amazing to be here and play in the game because that was an incredible knock.

“He struck it cleaner than anyone else out there. It just shows how good a player he is.”

Since walking away from 50-over cricket last summer citing workload issues, Stokes has poured his energies into his role as Test captain.

Working closely with head coach Brendon McCullum, he has revitalised the red-ball set-up, flipping their fortunes in dramatic fashion and playing out a thrilling drawn Ashes series that gripped the nation.

Woakes feels that stepping back into the ranks under Jos Buttler’s leadership, and operating as a specialist batter rather than all-action all-rounder, is a good thing for Stokes.

“I think him coming back into this team is probably a refreshing feeling for him, without the captaincy on his shoulders. To run the England Test team is a tough job,” he said.

“He’s probably seen this as a breath of fresh air, to play his natural game and be his natural person, which he always does.

“This group of players who have been around this team for a long time, always feel comfortable when we come back together.”

England’s World Cup squad has one more game together before departing for India, wrapping up their clash with the Black Caps at Lord’s on Friday.

There is hope that Jason Roy and Mark Wood will be fit for selection, with both sidelined for each of the last three matches. Roy has been laid low twice by back spasms and Wood has been kept in cotton well since ending the Ashes with a heel problem.

Roy, in particular, will be eager to feel bat on ball. Dawid Malan made 96 at opener on Wednesday to position himself as a viable alternative and Harry Brook continues to linger as a possible replacement should Roy’s fitness continue to raise questions.

“I think he’s hopeful. This close to a World Cup it’s a bit of a risk to throw him into a game when you’re unsure as to how he’s going to go,” said Woakes.

“Fingers crossed he’s alright. I’m sure he’s desperate to get out there and I’m sure he’s frustrated as well.

“Pre-World Cup you want to get a bit of form behind you and play as many games as possible but he’s a resilient character; the lads have got around him and I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

Harry Maguire’s mother has criticised the “disgraceful” abuse her son has been subjected to which she claims goes far beyond football.

The under-fire Manchester United defender dismissed the reception he received at Hampden Park during England’s 3-1 friendly win over Scotland but manager Gareth Southgate said it was “ridiculous” and “a joke”.

Now Maguire’s mum Zoe Maguire-Wilkinson has waded in.

 “As a mum seeing the level of negative and abusive comments in which my son is receiving from some fans, pundits and the media is disgraceful and totally unacceptable to any walk of life never mind someone who works his socks off for club and country,” she wrote on Instagram.

“I was there in the stand as usual, it’s not acceptable what’s been created, over nothing. I understand that in the football world there are ups and downs, positives and negatives but what Harry receives has gone far beyond ‘football’.

“For me seeing him go through what he’s going through is not OK. I would hate to have to see any other parents or players go through this in the future, especially the young boys and girls breaking through the ranks today.

“Harry has a massive heart and it’s a good job he’s mentally strong and can handle it as others may not be able too. I wish this sort of abuse on nobody!”

Little more than two years ago, the centre-back was an ever-present for United and earned a place in the Euros team of the tournament after helping Southgate’s side reach the final.

But a drop in form and club game time, including being replaced as captain at Old Trafford, has led pressure and criticism to ratchet up on Maguire, which culminated in every pass Maguire made on Tuesday being met by an ironic cheer after he was brought on as a half-time substitute – where he scored an unfortunate own goal.

“It pretty much takes the pressure away from my team-mates and puts it all on myself. It makes them play better, for sure,” said Maguire after the game.

“It is a little bit of banter and it is a hostile environment, coming away to Scotland.

“I would not say I am a person who struggles with pressure mentally. I have been through a lot in the last couple of years and I have been Manchester United captain for nearly four years.

“You take a huge lot of responsibility and everything that comes with it and that is a lot of bad as well as good.”

England captain Harry Kane has agreed a deal to make his memorabilia available to purchase exclusively through American company Fanatics.

The platform will become the sole distributor of the Bayern Munich striker’s autographs, match-worn shirts and boots and other collectable items.

Kane, who is both England and Tottenham’s record goalscorer, is the first British athlete to partner with Fanatics, who have signed deals with a host of big-name American athletes including former NFL star Tom Brady and MLB’s Aaron Judge.

The 30-year-old, who was drawn to the company by its links to the NFL, which he has said he one day hopes to play in, said: “I’m thrilled to announce my new exclusive memorabilia partnership with Fanatics, who is the renowned, innovative leader in this space.

“This partnership will allow me to share some of my most incredible career memories and experiences with sports fans across the globe.

“It’s an honour to join their world-class roster of athletes across all sports – including the NFL, which I am incredibly passionate about.

“I am extremely proud to be aligned with a company that is raising the game for sports fans all over the world, and I can’t wait to show what we have in store for fans over the years to come.”

The partnership comes after Kane scored his 59th goal for England in Tuesday’s friendly win over Scotland at Hampden Park. He recently told the PA news agency that he is targeting a century of goals for his country.

The striker is in the early days of his time at Bayern following his £100million move from Spurs in the summer. He left his boyhood club as their record goalscorer, with 280 competitive goals, 16 more than Jimmy Greaves.

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