The British and Irish Lions will send a women’s team to New Zealand for a historic three-Test series in September 2027.

The inaugural women’s Lions tour will feature three clashes against the current world champions.

A Lions statement on Tuesday morning confirmed the tour will not overlap with that year’s men’s World Cup and will include warm-up fixtures, but said the full schedule had not yet been finalised.

British and Irish Lions chief executive Ben Calveley said: “Playing three Test matches against the current world champions, the Black Ferns in New Zealand, in front of thousands of fans represents the ultimate challenge and makes for a fantastic sporting spectacle.

“We look forward to working with all our stakeholders including New Zealand Rugby to finalise an exciting inaugural tour.”

Two-time champions West Indies will kickstart their ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup campaign against Papua New Guinea, as the fixtures for the ninth edition of the tournament was revealed on Friday.

The event to be co-hosted by West Indies and the United States of America is scheduled to run from June 1-29.

West Indies, having won the title in 2012 and 2016, will begin their hunt for a third title against Papa New Guinea at the Guyana National Stadium on Sunday, June 2.

This tournament will see a record 20 teams divided into four groups competing across 55 games for the right to be crowned T20 World Cup Champions 2024. Along with the co-hosts, the list also includes Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, England, India, Ireland, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

These 20 teams have been divided into four groups of five, with the top two teams progressing to the Super Eights:

Group A: India, Pakistan, Ireland, Canada and the USA

Group B: England, Australia, Namibia, Scotland and Oman

Group C: New Zealand, West Indies, Afghanistan, Uganda and Papua New Guinea

Group D: South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Netherlands and Nepal

ICC's Chief Executive, Geoff Allardice said the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 marks an exciting expansion of our sport with more teams than ever before set to compete in this event.

"It’s going to be an incredible spectacle bringing together 20 international teams from Africa, the Americas, Asia, East-Asia Pacific and Europe. The release of the fixtures is made even more exciting for fans as we enter a new frontier, with the USA hosting a major ICC event for the first time. With 16 matches being played across three venues in the USA, it allows us to make a statement in the world’s biggest sports market. It will also be great to have an ICC event back in the West Indies, which has such a rich history of the game. It has hosted World Cups with great success in the past and this tournament will certainly provide a boost to the game there, especially with the final being played in Barbados," he said.

The event commences with the two co-hosts starting their campaigns on the first two days of June. United States of America will take on Canada in the tournament opener at the Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium in Dallas on Saturday, June 1.

One of cricket’s biggest rivalries will take place in one of the world’s most iconic cities, with New York to host India and Pakistan on Sunday, June 9. The fixture will be played in a cutting-edge 34,000-seat modular stadium just 30 miles east of downtown Manhattan in Nassau County, New York. Eight matches will be played at the venue.

Defending champions England will begin their title defence on Tuesday, June 4, in Barbados against Scotland, and 2022 finalists, Pakistan, will get their challenge going on Thursday, June 6, when they play the United States in Dallas.

Among the plethora of blockbuster matchups scheduled in the group stage, fans can look forward to Sri Lanka taking on South Africa in New York on Monday, June 3, while England will go up against archrivals Australia in Barbados on Saturday, June 8. Another highly anticipated fixture will see the West Indies taking on New Zealand on Wednesday, June 12, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Trinidad and Tobago.

First-time qualifiers Uganda will play their first ever ICC Men’s T20 World Cup fixture in Guyana against Afghanistan on Monday, June 3. Nepal, who qualified for the T20 World Cup for the first time since 2014, will open their campaign against Sri Lanka in one of four matches to be played at Broward County Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida.

Upon completion of the group stage, the top two teams from each of the four groups will move into the Super Eight stage of the competition. Teams seeded first and second in their groups in the first round, will retain that seeding in the Super Eight, provided they qualify. Super Eight matches are scheduled to be played in popular Caribbean tourist destinations Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The two top teams from each group in the Super Eight will progress to the semi-finals, which will be held in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago on June 26 and 27 respectively. The final will be held at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Saturday, June 29.

Johnny Grave, CWI's Chief Executive echoed similar sentiments.

“The announcement of the match schedule for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 marks a significant milestone in our preparations for this year’s tournament.  We know that teams, fans and cricket enthusiasts worldwide have been eagerly awaiting this announcement, and now that it is available, it provides a roadmap for the thrilling journey that lies ahead. In addition to the match fixtures, the announcement also highlights the host countries and iconic venues that will set the stage for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

“Each host country and city will bring its own unique flavour to the tournament, and fans from every corner of the globe can expect an exciting blend of T20 cricketing entertainment, local culture and warm hospitality. From classic rivalries to history making upsets and continental showdowns, fans can start looking forward to an action-packed month of games at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup next June, and we encourage everyone to get tickets as soon as they go on sale as we expect the demand to be high," he noted.

Meanwhile, Peter Hutton, chair of T20 World Cup Incorporated, the entity established in the USA to deliver the event, is excited at the opportunity.

“The USA is already one of cricket’s biggest audiences for ICC events and bringing the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to New York City, Dallas and Florida is a massive opportunity to exponentially grow the sport. We’ve got three fantastic venues to host matches and we strongly encourage fans in the USA and around the world to start planning to secure their tickets for what will be a unique cricket spectacle featuring the best players in the world," said Hutton.

 

Kevin Sinfield is to step down as England defence coach after the summer tour to Japan and New Zealand.

Sinfield has been Steve Borthwick’s number two since the start of his reign in December 2022 but his time at Twickenham will come to an end after 18 months.

Before he moves on, the Leeds rugby league great will take charge of individual skills and work with the kickers having previously overseen the defence.

“Kevin after the World Cup had a period of reflection, like every member of the management team did,” Borthwick said.

“Kev’s decided that longer-term he’s going to head in a different direction away from the England rugby team.

“He’s going to work with the team through the Six Nations and through the summer tour.

“Ahead of the autumn series Kev will not work with the team then, he will move away from the team and in a different direction.”

When asked to expand on Sinfield’s future plans, Borthwick replied: “Not right now and Kev hasn’t told us. That’s a question you can discuss with Kev in due course.

“I’m just grateful that’s he added so much value over these 12 months and that he’s going to stay with the team for the Six Nations and the summer tour.

“Through this first 12 months, Kev’s role and what he’s added as we’ve reset the team, you can’t overstate the value he’s brought, what he’s done and the relationships he’s built.

“I’ve changed his role to skills and he will be working specifically on catch-pass skills with the kickers and goalkickers, which he does so very well.”

West Indies cricket has again found itself in the firing line, as Australian Test legend Steve Waugh has called for the intervention of cricket's world governing body, International Cricket Council (ICC), to salvage the credibility of the game's longest format, after South Africa followed the Caribbean selector’s lead and opted for an understrength Test side.

West Indies recently named seven uncapped players in a weakened 15-man squad for two Tests against Australia later this month, while South Africa also selected seven debutants for their two-Test series in New Zealand next month.

This, as South Africa’s top players have been allowed to focus their efforts on the shorter format, as the New Zealand tour clashes with the country’s premier Twenty20 domestic tournament.

"It's going to happen if the South African Cricket Board are any indication of the future, keeping their best players at home," Waugh said.

"If I was New Zealand, I wouldn't even play the series. I don't know why they're even playing. Why would you when it shows a lack of respect for New Zealand cricket?

"It's pretty obvious what the problem is — the West Indies aren't sending their full-strength side [to Australia this summer]. They haven't picked a full-strength Test team for a couple of years now.

"Someone like Nicholas Pooran is really a Test batsman who doesn't play Test cricket. Jason Holder, probably their best player, is not playing now. Even Pakistan didn't send a full side [to Australia],” he argued.

Both Holder, the Caribbean side's leading all-rounder, and batting all-rounder Kyle Mayers, skipped the Australia tour to explore T20 franchise opportunities.

While he acknowledged there is little financial incentive for smaller nations to play Test cricket, Waugh called for a standardised fee to be implemented by the ICC.

"If the ICC or someone doesn't step in shortly then Test cricket doesn't become Test cricket because you're not testing yourself against the best players,” Waugh said.

"I understand why players don't come; they're not getting paid properly. I don't understand why ICC or the top countries who are making a lot of money don't just have a regulation set fee for Test matches which is a premium so [that] people are incentivised to play Test Cricket. Otherwise, they'll just play T10 or T20.

"The public are the ones who are going to suffer because it's not the full side playing so it's not Test cricket,” he added.

Australia captain Pat Cummins has landed a record £1.94million contract at the Indian Premier League auction with England pair Harry Brook and Chris Woakes picking up deals worth just under £400,000.

Cummins sat out the 2023 tournament to focus on international cricket but became even hotter property after leading his side to the World Test Championship and last month’s 50-over World Cup on Indian soil.

Four teams vied for the fast bowler’s signature and Sunrisers Hyderabad ended up paying 20.5 crore rupees, eclipsing the previous high of 18.5 crore (£1.77m) Punjab Kings paid for English all-rounder Sam Curran last year.

Cummins, 30, had entered with a base price of just under £200,000 and saw the bidding war up his fee by a factor of 10.

Sunrisers had plenty of budget to play with having released Brook after one season of a £1.3m deal, with the Yorkshireman picking up a healthy but much-reduced payday with the Capitals.

He hit one superb century in his first IPL campaign but was otherwise badly short of runs with just 190 in 11 matches.

Woakes was later drafted for just under £400,000 by Punjab, joining his England team-mates Curran and Liam Livingstone.

Sunrisers also splurged on Cummins’ fellow Australian Travis Head, who capped a stellar year with a match-winning 137 in the World Cup final in Ahmedabad. He cost around £645,000 (6.8 crore) as he returned to the tournament for the first time since 2017.

West Indies T20 captain Rovman Powell was the first player to go under the hammer at the event in Dubai and fetched a surprisingly lavish £700,000 bid from Rajasthan Royals, while New Zealand all-rounder Daryl Mitchell scooped the biggest cheque of his career when he went to Chennai Super Kings for £1.3million.

CSK also signed Mitchell’s fellow Kiwi Rachin Ravindra, the breakout star of the World Cup, for a modest £170,000.

Stephen Kenny has admitted he does not expect to continue as Republic of Ireland manager when his future is decided next week.

The 52-year-old’s current contract effectively ended with Tuesday night’s 1-1 friendly draw against New Zealand in Dublin and the Football Association of Ireland’s board will meet next week to decide whether to stick or twist.

Public support for Kenny’s tenure waned as the Euro 2024 qualification campaign he had built towards came and went without the success he craved, and he acknowledges that the writing is on the wall.

He said: “Obviously the board are meeting next week. They’ve a decision to make and I respect whatever that decision is.

“Of course, it would be a dream to carry on and manage the team, of course it would, but my instinct is that’s not going to happen. That’s my own instinct and the evidence suggests that probably won’t happen, so I respect that as well.”

Kenny, who replaced Mick McCarthy as manager in April 2020, has presided over huge change but ultimately has won only six of the 29 matches for which he has been in charge.

He insists he has enjoyed the experience and is keen to carry on, but he is philosophical about the situation in which he finds himself.

He said: “From my point of view, there’s no greater honour than to manage your country, it’s a huge privilege.

“It was an emotional dressing room with the players there. Ninety per cent of the players, maybe over 95 per cent of players, their careers are on an upward trajectory and they’re only going to improve as players and as individuals.

“It’s been a privilege in that regard, the greatest honour you can have. Whatever you did in life, it would be a step down, no matter what you did, but that’s the way it is.

“We have had a lot of setbacks and I suppose that’s why I’m not getting a new contract if that’s the case. International football is ruthless, that’s the nature of it. I know that, I understood that, but that’s the way it is.”

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ireland Football (@irelandfootball)

On a night when he needed a resounding victory to support his claims of progress, he instead got more of the same, a tepid, toothless display in which a supposedly inferior side in terms of world rankings at times out-played his and might have considered themselves unfortunate not to be leaving with a win.

 

Adam Idah’s third senior international goal had given Ireland a first-half lead despite defender Nando Pijnaker’s justifiable protests that he had been fouled by Mark Sykes in the build-up, but they were unable to build upon it and Matt Garbett’s 59th-minute equaliser was little more than the All Whites deserved.

If Kenny left the Aviva Stadium with regrets over results, he had none over his radical approach to his dream job.

He said: “I’ve always been a big-picture person. Rather than to build something step by step, you have to see what the picture is and what you can achieve and what can be attained and then work towards that. That’s the way I see life.

“When you do that and you set the bar high, your fall can be acute. That’s the nature of how I’ve always managed, really. It leads you to incredible highs and setbacks. That’s the nature of how I see things.”

Matt Garbett ruined James McClean’s farewell party as the Republic of Ireland were held to an embarrassing friendly draw by New Zealand.

Both McClean – who was making his 103rd and final senior appearance for his country – and manager Stephen Kenny, out of contract on the final whistle and with seemingly little hope of an extension, might have hoped for a rousing conclusion at the Aviva Stadium.

But a paltry crowd of 26,517 saw NAC Breda midfielder Garbett cancel out Adam Idah’s first-half opener to claim a 1-1 draw on a night when Ireland, who have slipped to 58th place in FIFA’s world rankings table, were at times out-played by a side some 45 places below them.

A review of the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, which ended fruitlessly for the Republic with Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by the Netherlands, will be considered by the Football Association of Ireland’s board next week, but evidence of the progress Kenny believes has been made was in painfully short supply once again.

Ireland, starting with a flat back four, made an uncertain start as the All Whites enjoyed early possession in their opponent’s half, but as McClean and Celtic winger Mikey Johnston got the bit between his teeth down the left, they started to make an impression.

New Zealand defender Michael Boxall had to be in the right place at the right time to deny first McClean and then – from the resulting corner – central defender Shane Duffy, with the home side pinning the visitors back.

Kenny’s men continued to dominate possession but found space at a premium as the All Whites defended their box resolutely until the 28th minute when they were finally pierced, if with an element of controversy.

Sligo defender Nando Pijnaker felt he had been caught by Mark Sykes – making a first start for his country – as he dispossessed him, but his appeals for a free-kick went unanswered as the midfielder found striker Idah, who made no mistake.

The visitors might have been back in it seven minutes later when, after the Irish defence had struggled to deal with Tim Payne’s cross, skipper Chris Wood diverted Marko Stamenic’s shot wide with his knee as it sped across goal to the relief of goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher.

Kelleher was called upon for the first time three minutes later when he clawed the excellent Sarspreet Singh’s curling attempt out of his top corner and he saw the same man fire into the side-netting after being released by Liberato Cacace in a strong finish to the first half by Darren Bazeley’s men.

The Liverpool goalkeeper departed at the break to be replaced by Mark Travers and the newcomer suffered a scare within four minutes when Singh picked out Garbett with a cross and saw the striker lift a shot wastefully over the top.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by All Whites (@nzallwhites)

 

Jayson Molumby fired just wide after being set up by Johnston and Duffy headed a McClean corner straight at goalkeeper Max Crocombe with Ireland responding, but they were rocked with 59 minutes gone when Singh again stretched the home defence and when the ball fell to Garbett on the edge of the box, he smashed it past the helpless Travers to level.

Singh tested Travers with a 64th-minute strike and Kenny chose that moment to make two significant changes, the first to replace Idah with Evan Ferguson and the second to hand McClean a standing ovation as he made way for Ryan Manning as his international career drew to a close.

Andy Moran was handed a senior debut as Kenny looked for inspiration, but Travers had to rescue defender Andrew Omobamidele after substitute Max Mata went for goal and substitute Ryan Manning prevented Mata from winning it at the death, while the final whistle came as a merciful release for the home fans.

India captain Rohit Sharma felt his side could never relax as they closed out a 70-run win over New Zealand to reach the World Cup final following Virat Kohli’s record-breaking 50th ODI century in Mumbai.

Sachin Tendulkar was in his home city to witness first-hand Kohli set a new benchmark in ODIs with a typically assured 117 off 113 balls which laid the foundations for India’s mammoth 397 for four.

New Zealand then battled hard in the chase, but hopes of a third successive World Cup final appearance were dashed despite Daryl Mitchell’s fine 134 as they were all out for 327 as Mohammed Shami took a career-best seven for 57.

Rohit, though, admitted he had never taken victory as assured as the 1983 and 2011 champions kept on course for victory on home soil.

“I have played a lot of cricket here, any score on this ground, you can’t relax. Got to get the job done quickly and stay at it,” Rohit said in his post-match presentation interview.

“We knew there would be pressure on us. We were very calm, even though we were a bit sloppy on the field.

“These things are bound to happen, but glad we could get the job done.

“The form all the guys are in, top five or six batters, whenever they’ve gotten an opportunity, they’ve made it count.”

Rohit added: “Being the semi-final, I won’t say there was no pressure, whenever you play there’s pressure, but a semi-final adds a bit extra.

“We wanted to not think too much about it, just do what we’ve been doing like in the first nine games. Things came off for us nicely in the second half.”

After moving to three figures off 106 balls, Kohli leapt and punched the air, briefly sunk to his knees before rising and soaking up the acclaim from a frenzied crowd which included Tendulkar and David Beckham.

Tendulkar wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, he “couldn’t be happier that an Indian broke my record” as Kohli moved into a class of his own in his 291st ODI – 172 fewer than his former team-mate.

Reflecting on his achievement, Kohli said: “It is the stuff of dreams.

“It is very difficult for me to explain this, but if I could paint a perfect picture, I would want this to be the picture.

“My life partner, the person I love the most, she’s sitting there (in the stands). My hero (Tendulkar) he’s sitting there. And I was able to get the 50th in front of all of them and all these fans in such a historic venue. It was amazing.”

India gained a measure of revenge for being dumped out at the same stage of the 2019 tournament by the Black Caps.

Shami said: “It feels amazing. In the last two World Cups, we lost (in the semi-finals), so who knows when or if we will get a chance again.

“We wanted to do everything for this, one chance we didn’t want to let go.”

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was proud of his side’s efforts.

“Firstly, congrats to India, they played outstandingly well, probably their best game today,” he said. “400 was naturally going to be tough, but credit to the guys, proud effort to stay in the fight.

“It is disappointing to go out, but I am super proud of the effort that has gone in for the last seven weeks.

“The effort was there, but India are top class, have world-class batters who didn’t give us a sniff really.

“You come in and get 400, it’s a tick in the box. They deserve to be where they are, played outstandingly well.

“It wasn’t to be today, but it was nice to be out there to give ourselves a chance.

“It was a fantastic crowd, unbelievable atmosphere, slightly one-sided in the support, but special to be part of the tournament.”

Virat Kohli’s record-breaking 50th ODI century saw him leapfrog the great Sachin Tendulkar and propel India into a fourth World Cup final following a 70-run win over New Zealand.

Tendulkar was in his home city of Mumbai to witness first-hand Kohli set a new benchmark in ODIs with a typically assured 117 off 113 balls that laid the foundations for India’s mammoth 397 for four.

After moving to three figures off 106 balls, Kohli leapt and punched the air, briefly sunk to his knees before rising and soaking up the acclaim from a frenzied crowd, including Tendulkar and David Beckham.

Tendulkar wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, he “couldn’t be happier that an Indian broke my record” as Kohli moved into a class of his own in his 291st ODI – 172 fewer than his former team-mate.

New Zealand battled hard in the chase but their hopes of a third successive World Cup final appearance were dashed despite an excellent 134 from 119 balls from Daryl Mitchell as they were all out for 327.

Fast bowler Mohammed Shami’s career-best seven for 57 took him to the top of the tournament’s wicket-taking charts after only six outings and was instrumental as the 1983 and 2011 champions gained a measure of revenge for being dumped out at the same stage of the 2019 tournament by the Black Caps.

After ending a run of semi-final defeats and claiming a 10th straight win in a tournament they are dominating, India can look forward to a showdown against either Australia or South Africa on Sunday.

There was controversy before the toss because of a late switch from a fresh to a used pitch but Kohli’s landmark innings, containing nine fours and two sixes, relegated the issue to a mere subplot.

Rohit Sharma lit the touchpaper for an India onslaught after they won the toss with 47 off 29 deliveries, while Shubman Gill contributed an unbeaten 80 off 66 balls despite struggling with cramp.

Kohli moved quickly through the gears alongside first Gill, who retired hurt on 79 before returning late on, then Shreyas Iyer, who thumped eight of India’s 19 sixes in his 105 off 70 deliveries.

This was Kohli’s day, though, and he got to his ton with a slap across the line, coming back for a second run before taking in the acclaim as Kiwi captain Kane Williamson offered his congratulations.

Kohli eventually holed out to deep backward square-leg off Tim Southee, who claimed three for 100, but India buttressed their total by adding 110 in the last 10 overs as New Zealand’s bowlers were flayed.

The 2015 and 2019 finalists slipped to 39 for two as Shami brushed the outside edges of Devon Conway then Rachin Ravindra but Williamson and Mitchell combined for 181 off 149 balls to frustrate India.

Mitchell was especially attacking – thumping seven sixes overall – and when Shami spilled a simple chance at mid-on when Williamson was on 52, the momentum was creeping slowly towards New Zealand.

Shami, though, atoned when Williamson miscued into the deep on 69 and Tom Latham was lbw two balls later to put India back in the driving seat, shortly after Mitchell had brought up an 85-ball hundred.

Mitchell kept plugging away but the required run-rate spiralled well into double figures before he gave Shami his five-for after whipping to Ravindra Jadeja on the boundary, and with him went New Zealand’s hopes.

Shami bagged Southee and Lockie Ferguson in the penultimate over to become the fifth bowler and first Indian to record a seven-wicket haul in a World Cup match as New Zealand were all out with seven balls unused.

Virat Kohli set a new benchmark as he recorded his 50th ODI century to overtake fellow India great Sachin Tendulkar as New Zealand were put to the sword in their World Cup semi-final.

Kohli equalled the record earlier this month and is now out in front as Tendulkar watched his former team-mate compile a superlative 117 off 113 balls to underpin India’s 397 for four in Mumbai.

After moving to three figures, Kohli jumped up and punched the air before sinking to his knees and soaking up the cacophonous applause from the likes of Tendulkar and former footballer David Beckham.

Tendulkar wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “The first time I met you in the Indian dressing room, you were pranked by other teammates into touching my feet.

“I couldn’t stop laughing that day. But soon, you touched my heart with your passion and skill. I am so happy that that young boy has grown into a ‘Virat’ player.

“I couldn’t be happier that an Indian broke my record. And to do it on the biggest stage – in the World Cup Semi-final – and at my home ground is the icing on the cake.”

Shreyas Iyer thumped 105 off just 70 balls while there were contributions from captain Rohit Sharma (47), Shubman Gull (80no) and KL Rahul (39), with New Zealand struggling to contain their opponents.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is upbeat about his team’s chances of taking down “exceptional” India when the teams meet in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Hosts India have won all nine of their games at the tournament so far and are the favourites to go on and lift the trophy for the first time since 2011.

The Black Caps suffered four group-stage defeats, including a four-wicket loss to India on October 22, but Williamson insists that will have no bearing when the teams meet again in Mumbai for a place in the final.

“India have been exceptional,” he told a press conference. “They are one of the, if not the best team going around and are playing cricket that matches that.

“But we know on our day, when we play our best cricket, it gives us the best chance.

“We know it’s going to be a really tough challenge. They are a side that have been playing extremely well but we all know, come finals time, everything starts again and it’s all about the day.

“Every game in this tournament is a tricky one. As we’ve seen throughout, anybody can beat anybody on the day, whether that be the quality on both sides but also the change in conditions and if that has an impact.

“For us, it’s great to have got to the final stage and then take a fresh approach because it does start again.”

Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls lost two of three matches on Saturday to finish fifth of the six teams in the 2023 Fast5 World Series Netball that was won by Australia who defeated New Zealand win a second consecutive title.

Jamaica defeated the champions in their opening match before getting the better of Malawi in another thrilling encounter on Friday night. However, they lost their third match of the day going down to South Africa.

Needing to win their matches on Saturday, Jamaica lost to England 33-27 before being clobbered 50-16 by New Zealand. The Sunshine Girls rounded out their matches by defeating Malawi 36-31. Romelda Aiken-George was the Player of the Match.

Australia, meanwhile, defeated England 37-16 before going on to beat New Zealand 35-23 to take the title.

Saturday's results means Jamaica ended the competition with four points, the same as South Africa. However, the Jamaicans placed fifth because of their loss to the South Africans on Friday.

Malawi finished sixth with zero points.

England finished third with six points.

After a fairly decent showing on day one action, Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls will be hoping to return to winning ways on the second and decisive day of the Fast5 Netball World Series, as they push for a medal in Christchurch, New Zealand on Saturday.

The Jamaicans, who defeated Australia 38-36 and Malawi 41-37 courtesy of some classy long-range shooting from goal-attack Gezelle Allison, failed to go unbeaten on the day, after being hammered by South Africa in a 17-33 loss.

Still, they remain on course for a spot in the medal round with only New Zealand, Australia and England –all of whom also had two wins and a loss –ahead of them on goal difference.

With that in mind, Shawn Murdock, is cautiously optimistic that the Sunshine Girls will achieve the feat, though they are scheduled to face two tough opponents in New Zealand and England.

“As always when we face England and New Zealand it’s never an easy encounter.  The English showed some fight yesterday and they are perhaps our biggest rivals internationally over the years; New Zealand are playing at home and are still smarting from their World Cup performance.

“So I expect the home crowd and their hurt from their World Cup campaign to be major factors for them.  So we just have to control the controllable from our end and ensure we are scoring goals consistently and our defenders are winning balls to provide more opportunities for us,” Murdock told SportsMax.TV.

“As you know, five doesn’t go in three, so it’s game on for a place in the medal matches. Still a major mountain to climb as five of the six teams are all in a position to still make the gold medal match. Only two can make it though, and so I expect all the teams to come battling hard today,” he added.

Jamaica’s day one performance already represents a significant step up from last year’s outing when they failed to win a single game. For that, Murdock, who is co-coaching with Nicole Aikin-Pinnock, expressed pleasure with the team’s display on Friday’s opening day.

“We are pleased with the performance of the ladies. We are from a country that loves winning so we were disappointed we never got three victories yesterday because that would have placed us in prime position heading into the two other matches today. We, however, are proud of how the ladies have performed so far,” he said.

Much like she did against the Australian Diamonds, Allison again scored a last-ditched six-pointer, to lift the Jamaicans over Malawi, in a contest where their East African counterparts lead for most of the way.

Sloppy ball handling by the Jamaicans, who led the first quarter 12-6, allowed Malawi to assert their authority from the second stanza onward.

It wasn’t until the backend of the third quarter that they started a rally and with a mere two points separating the teams in the closing stages of the fourth, Allison came up trumps with another big six-pointer in the powerplay seconds to end with 24 goals.

Captain and veteran goal-shooter Romelda Aiken-George scored 13 goals from 12 attempts, while Amanda Pinkney and Rhea Dixon both scored two goals.

However, they failed to repeat the heroics of their two earlier wins, as their shooting returns ran cold against a plucky South African team that burst their bubble.

Despite that, Murdock and his Sunshine Girls know a win over England and, or New Zealand would all put them in the final two.

“The mood heading into day two action is very positive. Of course there was a level of sadness from the ladies not being able to secure all three wins last evening, but we’ve placed that loss and yesterday behind us. 

“It’s a new day, all teams start again, so we are focusing on trying to replicate or do better than how we performed in our first match yesterday. The game is about scoring goals, and so we’ve done what we can to ensure our shooters and the overall team got enough recovery to face the day ahead,” the coach shared.

Action is scheduled for 5:45pm Jamaica time.

Live coverage will be on SportsMax and SportsMax 2

Crystal Plummer had a stellar maiden Vitality Netball World Cup appearance earlier this year, as her performances in South Africa assisted Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls to end a 16-year medal drought when they claimed bronze.

Now back on the international assignment for a second Fast5 Netball World Series appearance, Plummer knows it is another opportunity for her to make a mark on the big stage with hopes that an efficient execution, both individually and collectively as a team, will propel them to another medal.

Plummer, 21, possesses incredible physical prowess and the intensity that she paraded at the World Cup is testament to the demands she puts on herself to always perform at her best.

It is that stubborn determination, coupled with an unwavering desire to succeed, that place her among a number of dangerous young prospects that will grace the court at the fast-paced, two-day tournament in Christchurch, New Zealand, and she is definitely out to prove that much.

“Honestly, I am excited and looking forward to the challenge. For me it is another opportunity to show what I can do because I am always looking to do better every chance I get. It’s about doing my best and having fun at the same time, but still focused on the goal head,” Plummer told SportsMax.TV. 

“Unlike last year when I struggled to get acclimatised, this year, I am both mentally and physically ready and I am very motivated and just looking forward to doing my utmost best to execute according to the team's game plans," she added.

Should the now Nicole Aiken-Pinnock and Shawn Murdock-coached Sunshine Girls achieve the medal feat, it would represent a significant improvement on last year’s display when they placed at the foot of the six-team ladder without a win. It would also be the country’s fourth Fast5 medal and first since 2018.

But that is easier said than done, as Australia, England, Malawi, South Africa and seven-time champions New Zealand, are all formidable opponents, who will take some amount of beating.

“It’s always challenging, but the entire team is up for the challenge and we will be leaving it all on court as we hope to come away with a medal. I have a saying ‘work hard and win easy’, so again, I am ready for the excitement of Fast5. My aim is to be one of the standout players for this year’s competition and to do that I will need to be consistent in how I play to get the job done,” Plummer declared.

The wing defence, who has been a staple in the Sunshine Girls team since making her debut at the Americas qualifiers on home soil last year, was also a part of the historic Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games winning team.

Having grasped significant lessons from those, and in particular, the World Cup outing, Plummer said she has benefitted from self-preparation, as she is well aware that there is always room for improvements.

“Preparation will never be easy, but I am committed to doing what I have to, to achieve my goals and that included working on my confidence and my passes. So, as it is now, I am refuelled for this mission because each time I get to showcase my skill against world class players, it is basically one of my goals crossed off the list,” the cheerful player ended.

Live coverage is on SportsMax and SportsMax 2, starting this evening at 6:00pm Jamaica time, while coverage on Saturday’s second day is slated for 5:45pm Jamaica time.

Jamaica squad: Romelda Aiken-George (captain), Adean Thomas (vice-captain), Gezelle Allison, Theresa Beckford, Rhea Dixon, Abbeygail Linton, Amanda Pinkney, Crystal Plummer, Kimone Shaw, and Abigale Sutherland.

With the high of last year’s Fast5 Netball Series debut still fresh in her mind, Amanda Pinkney is cautiously optimistic about the prospects of not only improving her performances, but also the possibility of Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls challenging for a medal on this occasion.

Though the Sunshine Girls lost all five games played and ended at the foot of the six-team ladder without a point last year, Pinkney celebrated the minor victory of being named Player of the Game in the Jamaicans narrow 27-28 loss to South Africa.

Pinkney, who play both goal-shoot and goal-attack positions, also had the distinction of ending that tournament as the player to score the most three-point goals, a feat which she knows she is very much capable of repeating.

“Last year was really good year for me, it was my first time participating in the Fast5 competition and it was a really good eye-opening experience in terms of the level of competition and the pace of the tournament. Some high for me was the connection that the players had and also when I received the Player of the Game award, that really showed me that I am very much capable of doing great things if I remain focused,” Pinkney told SportsMax.TV from the team’s base in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“At that same tournament, there were some concerns about the team’s readiness, but we weathered the storm and gradually improved each game, and we gave it our best. So, it is just about focusing on our responsibilities, both individually and collectively as a team and once we do that, I know we will be much more competitive this year,” she added.

The Sunshine Girls will indeed require some degree of consistency to complement their speed and agility, as they are expected to again face some stern tests against Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Malawi and England in the fast-paced six-team tournament scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

With Jhaniele Fowler being absent, New South Wales Swifts star Romelda Aiken-George will lead from the front, with Gezelle Allison, Pinkney, and former England Under-21 Rhea Dixon, who recently became eligible to represent Jamaica, expected to complement her shooting prowess.

Adean Thomas, Theresa Beckford, Kimone Shaw, Crystal Plummer, Abigale Sutherland and Abbeygail Linton, complete the team coached by former captain Nicole Aiken-Pinnock and Shawn Murdock.

For Pinkney, 24, copping an historic gold at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in El Salvador earlier this year, provided the necessary impetus to fuel her ambitions for this tournament and beyond.

Simply put, Pinkney has a desire to become a staple in the Sunshine Girls team going forward and to do so, she is well aware that she will have to work diligently to improve her craft.

“My goal is to perform better than I did both at last year’s Fast5 and also at the CAC Games. I want to showcase strong teamwork, to improve my individual skills. So even after this tournament, I intend to take the lessons and experiences back to Jamaica and continue putting in the work because I am hoping that I can get a contract in one of the international netball leagues,” she shared.

But, for now, the immediate focus of the soft-spoken player is to exude the necessary confidence and willpower to assist the Sunshine Girls medal ambitions in Christchurch, as she knows that maintaining the enthusiasm is essential to trigger further development to bring about the much-needed excitement and fulfillment she desires.

“Things are going good so far, I honestly can’t complain, I think I’m more ready for Fast5 this season than before because I have so much confidence in myself and my teammates and I know that we will do much better than the last season,” Pinkney declared.

“I know the teams won’t come easy, but we definitely won’t back down. Like I said, I think this year I got more practice for the competition and not only that, but the combination that we practiced I think that will make the difference from last season. So, it might seem far-fetched but I’m also hopefully that we will win the tournament,” she ended.

 

 

 

Page 1 of 39
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.