It has been an interesting start to the 2022 New Year for West Indies cricket.  The first days of 2022 have produced some exciting appointments to the West Indies Selections Panel, ongoing fitness concerns surrounding at least one key player, as well as a few very enlightening comments from head coach Phil Simmons.

Most West Indies cricket fans would have been excited by Cricket West Indies’ successive announcements of the appointments of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Desmond Haynes and Ramnaresh Sarwan, as the Selection Chairman and Member replacements for the recently deposed Roger Harper and Miles Bascombe.

The reputations of both Haynes and Sarwan, within both the Region and the wider cricketing world, as very well respected, knowledgeable, high calibre former West Indies players are undeniably solid.

The announcements of their respective appointments would have created a sense of optimism that some of the bizarre selection choices that were far too often characteristic of the previous panel, would now not be repeated. With the West Indies about to begin its all-important quest for qualification at two forthcoming World Cups, this year’s T20 as well as the 2023 50 overs, wisdom-guided selection of the best possible teams will be of immeasurable value.

The Haynes, Sarwan appointments also seem to be indicative of a Cricket West Indies decision to continue with the panel’s 3-person composition, with head coach Phil Simmons as the additional selector.  This despite the suggestion that had been made by several individuals including ourselves, that the process of selecting the very best West Indies teams would be much better served by a reversion to the former, far more successful, utilization of a five-member panel.

It will indeed be very interesting to see what the panel’s decided size will actually be. Regardless of its final membership size, one of the issues the new selection panel will have to address almost immediately is that of the continuing issues surrounding the fitness of West Indies cricketers.

Both Haynes and Sarwan would have been alarmed by the reported failure of two West Indies selection contention players, Chanderpaul Hemraj and Shimron Hetmeyer, to pass the Guyana Cricket Board’s (GCB) most recent fitness tests. The tests were administered during the first week of January 2022, as part of the Guyana National team’s preparation for its participation in the forthcoming Regional four-day competition. Kudos to Guyana’s head coach Esuan Crandon for having made those results public.

Given his encouraging performances at the recent 2021 ICC T20 World Cup, as well as his unquestionable potential to be one of the very brightest future stars of West Indies cricket, Hetmyer’s ongoing fitness challenges have long since become a matter of grave concern. Now still only a 25-year-old, Hetmeyer was West Indies' leading run-scorer in their disappointing 2021 T20 World Cup campaign. He has, however, now been left out of the West Indies ODI and T20 squads to play Ireland and England after failing the GCB fitness test.

Head Coach Phil Simmons’ reaction to Hetmeyer’s most recent fitness test failure was to describe it as a “heart-wrenching indication of his continuing inclination to be letting himself and his international team-mates down by paying insufficient attention to his physical fitness!” Hetmyer has now been omitted from several West Indies squads on fitness grounds, having also missed the recent tour of Pakistan due to personal reasons.

Prior to the Hetmyer exclusion, the former West Indies batting coach Toby Radford had, however, described the West Indies selection-related fitness testing protocols as being inconsistent. According to Radford, the existing policies are a convenient excuse for either omitting or excluding specific players.

“I do not think there is a consistency with the fitness testing and the way it has been used. It seems to me (that) if they want to pick a player, they give him a wavier! If on the other hand, they do not want to pick a certain player, they give the excuse that the guy is not fit. We have seen, with the T20 World Cup, (that) there were players who were selected that obviously did not pass any fitness test!

Radford has also advocated CWI’s adoption of an above-board, robust selection process with consistent fitness testing. 

 “Everyone has to be treated the same way and tested in an identical manner on the same day. At the moment, it is being used to select whoever they CWI want to have included in the respective teams,” Radford said.

We certainly agree wholeheartedly with Toby Radford’s comments. To those, we would now add the suggestion that the Desmond Haynes-led Panel should, as its very first order of business, announce the implementation of a new selection-related fitness policy.

Our suggested policy would require all CWI contracted players, as well as those others who are in contention for immediate selection to West Indies teams, to be tested by their respective Regional Boards, four times each year with all of the tests being conducted on the same day. Failure by any player to meet the established required, uniform standard would not only result in their exclusion from selection consideration but would also result in the immediate suspension of their contractual benefits. Such penalties would, however, only remain in effect until the affected player had improved their results to the required standard.

With the squads of the immediately forthcoming Ireland and England white-ball series having already been selected, West Indies cricket followers’ attention towards the Desmond Haynes led new selection panel should now be whether it does indeed issue any sort of definitive statement in terms of what its approach towards fitness will be. Attention should, however, also be focused on the actual performances of the selected players during the forthcoming series, and certainly in terms of their execution of the “still lacking basic skills,” according to Simmons.

Now more than halfway through his four-year contract, Simmons’ biggest current concern, as expressed during a most recent media conference, is the need for the players under his charge to do the small things better.

 “Running between the wickets is one aspect of the batting that has let us down, and it is an area that the team will be placing a lot of emphasis on going forward. Fielding is another key area in which we want to see improvement!”

More than two years into the job and our head and batting coaches are still seeking improvements in the most fundamental requirements of strike rotation and pressure fielding. Meanwhile, their associate in charge of the bowlers, Roddy Estwick, likewise speaks publicly of the need for those under his guidance to be more disciplined.

Isn’t this now the most glaringly damning evidence of their respective incompetences? If not, then surely the Pope cannot be Catholic!

A new year, fresh Selection Panel members but the same old coaching cadre! Should we now expect the results to be any better than those that were produced in 2021?

 

 

The West Indies U19s did not have the best showing ahead of the start of the ICC Under-19 50-over World Cup after suffering a heavy 108 loss to India U19s  team in their first official warm-up match on Sunday.

After being set a challenging target of 279 to win, the young Windies struggled to 170 all out in just 43 overs.  The team got off to a solid enough start when openers Matthew Nandu and Shaqkere Parris put on 30 in the opening overs.   Parris was, however, the first to go after being dismissed by fast bowler Garv Sangwan.  The other batters, unfortunately, followed in quick succession, with Teddy Bishop being dismissed ten balls later, and Sangwan going lbw with the score on 35.

Nandu managed another 30 with Jordan Johnson (10) before falling to the spin of Manav Parakh in the 18th over, with the total at 65 for three.

Windies skipper Akeem Auguste went for a duck after also being bowled by Parakh, Rivaldo Clarke (11), and vice-captain Giovonte Depeiza (10) were also gone midway through the innings.

Nandu eventually departed in the 33rd over with a top-score of 52 off 101 balls, after being a victim of left-arm spinner Aneeshwar Gautam, caught by Kaushal Tambe.  Off-spinner Tambe then wrapped up the innings with the wickets of Carlon Bowen-Tuckett (20), Anderson Mahase (1), and an attacking Johann Layne.

Earlier in the innings, the team set a furious pace after skipper Yash Dhull won the toss.  Things did not start well, however, as the team found themselves at 18 for two in the seventh after excellent work from Layne got rid of openers Harnoor Singh and Angkrish Raghuvanshi.

Dhull, however, led a strong revival with 52 off 67 balls and put on 85 for the third wicket with Shaik Rasheed.   Aradhya Yadav attacked the bowling and added 82 for the fifth wicket with top-scorer Nishant Sindhu, who lashed seven fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 78 off 76 balls, effectively putting the match out of reach.

Scores

India U-19s 278-6, 50 overs (Nishant Sindhu 78 n.o., Yash Dhull 52, Aradhya Yadav 42; Johann Layne 3/51)

 WI U-19s 170 all out, 43 overs (Matthew Nandu 52; Kaushal Tambe 3/30, Manav Parakh 3/34, Garv Sangwan 2/18, Aneeshwar Gautam 2/37). --India U-19s won by 108 runs.

 

Windies middle-order batsman, Shamarh Brooks, admits it was a crushing blow to narrowly miss out on a debut ODI century but insists it is just part of a learning curve.

Brooks put on a solid performance that proved the backbone of a close 24-run win in the opening match of the series on Sunday

Together with Windies skipper Kieron Pollard, Brooks put 155 runs on the board for the 5th wicket, which proved critical in stabilisng the team’s middle-order after floundering at 4 for 62.

On 93 the player seemed destined to be only the second West Indian to make an ODI century on debut but was out lbw off the bowling of Mark Adair.

“Word can’t express (how disappointing it was) but at the end of the day it was still my first game and I’m still happy with the score that I got.  It’s just unfortunate to miss out on triple figures,” Brooks said.

“I wouldn’t say I panicked in the nervous 90s.  Some people would have been a little more cautious having been set but as we all know it’s a learning curve at this stage.  I’ll take this one on the chin and look to grow from strength to strength,” he added.

The West Indies and Ireland will face off again in the second match on Tuesday.

  

 

Veteran all-rounder Dwyane Bravo will join fellow West Indian Chris Gayle at Fortune Barishal for the upcoming Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) after replacing Sri Lanka's Danushka Gunathilaka.

Gunathilaka was forced to pull out of the tournament after he failed to receive a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). 

In addition to Gayle, who will be playing for the franchise for the third time, the franchise has also added another two Caribbean players.  Pace bowlers Alzarri Joseph and Obed Mccoy will also be joining the team.

The 38-year-old Bravo, who retired from international cricket following the ICC T20 World Cup earlier this year, has previously represented the Chittagong Kings, Comilla Victorians, and Dhaka Dynamites in the BPL.

The competition, which is scheduled to bowl off on January 21, will be played across three cities and will feature 6 teams.

 

Australia captain Pat Cummins wishes the weather had been on his team's side after England frustrated their hosts to draw the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney.

James Anderson batted out the final over of the day – and the 102nd of England's second innings – at the Sydney Cricket Ground to ensure the tourists reached 270-9 at stumps and avoided a series whitewash.

With the Ashes already lost after a dismal opening three Tests, Joe Root's team performed resiliently to restore some pride heading into the final match in Hobart.

They relied on some good fortune, too. Rain delayed the restart in the second session on Sunday, further stalling Australia after they had clinched the important wicket of Zak Crawley (77), who became England's third-youngest opener to score a half-century in an away Ashes series, just before lunch. Rain also effected play earlier in the match.

Cummins, meanwhile, held on late to declare on day four despite Australia having built a towering lead, with Crawley and Haseeb Hameed only facing 35 minutes at the crease late on Saturday.

"Obviously, [we were] really keen [for the win]," Cummins said at the post-match presentation.

"But I think it was a great game of Test cricket, we got close. A bit less weather might have got us there but it was a really hard-fought match – that's why we all love it. We'd have loved to go up 4-0, but it was a good match.

"The weather forecasts are hopeless, I learned that this week. I think day four was meant to rain all day. I was ready to follow-on, we'd have had a full day of sunlight yesterday to bowl in."

Asked about his late declaration, Cummins added: "Being in a position to get up close to 400, I think we needed that.

"The wicket wasn't playing many tricks, we’ve got some class batters. Today was good fun, I felt really lucky to have genuine bowlers plus Smithy [Steve Smith] and Marnus [Labuschagne] to throw the ball to. It felt like we were right in with a shot."

Australia were led in the fourth Test by the magnificent Usman Khawaja, who marked his first appearance in their red-ball side since the 2019 Ashes series with a hundred in each innings.

He became just the third player to score a hundred in each innings of an SCG Test, and the first since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting in 2006, also against England.

"Two hundreds, no it can't [get much better]," Usman said.

"It was a terrific game. We'd have loved to win but it was a great game, a great fight from England, Test cricket at its best, right down to the wire. It could have gone either way – we couldn't ask for much more."

Khawaja has already said he does not expect to be in Australia's team for the final Test, with Travis Head expected to return from a coronavirus-enforced absence, but the 35-year-old knows he has a big role to play over the next 12 months.

"I'm enjoying the game, love the game. There's lots of ups and downs. I fully know I could go out next time I play and get two ducks, it's just the way this game is," he continued.

"That's why we love it. It's such a hard game. It's really satisfying. There's nothing harder that Test cricket, when you perform like that you know you've done something right.

"There's a lot of cricket coming up. Fingers crossed we stay healthy. The guys have played unbelievably before this game, 3-0 up. We couldn't have asked for much more from this series and hopefully the next game we can win that, and then win a few games away."

England have stubbornly held on for a thrilling draw with one wicket left to halt Australia's bid for an Ashes series whitewash at the SCG on Sunday.

Australia needed 10 wickets on the final day to claim a 4-0 series lead in the fourth Ashes Test but could only claim nine, with tail-ender Jimmy Anderson staving off the final over from Steve Smith.

Smith had claimed the ninth wicket with the final ball of the 100th over, meaning Anderson (0*) and Stuart Broad (8*) had to navigate two more overs but survived.

England, who resumed at 30-0 needing an improbable 388 for victory, got through 91 overs on the final day, with Australia taking five final session wickets to apply intense pressure.

Zak Crawley (77), Ben Stokes (60) and Jonny Bairstow (41) led the rearguard despite the latter two being hampered by injuries, before Leach (26), Broad and Anderson saw England through to a draw in fading light.

MCG hero Scott Boland (30-3) was the pick of the bowlers along with Nathan Lyon (28-2) and captain Pat Cummins (80-2), who claimed two wickets in three balls in the final session to ignite the home crowd.

Crawley offered positive resistance in the first session but was trapped lbw by all-rounder Cameron Green for 77 before lunch, after Boland got Hameed early and Lyon had bowled Dawid Malan.

Rain delayed the resumption before England were stubborn in the second session, scoring only 52 runs in 21 overs but Australia got the key wicket of Joe Root (24) to Boland.

The game came to life in the final session, with Stokes' heroic stand ending caught by Steve Smith at slip off Lyon for 60 from 123 balls. Cummins struck twice in three balls in the 85th over, trapping both Jos Buttler and Mark Wood lbw to give the hosts real hope.

Jonny Bairstow was dropped by Smith at second slip on 28 but Boland struck again, when England's last remaining recognised batsman edged onto his pad allowing Marnus Labuschagne to catch at silly mid-off for 41.

Leach, who batted for more than an hour, and Broad fought hard, with the former edging off Carey's gloves to Warner late, before England's final two did enough to claim a hard-earned draw.

The West Indies secured a 24-run win over Ireland in the first of their three ODIs at Sabina Park today.

In pursuit of 270 for victory, captain Andrew Balbirnie and William Porterfield strode to the crease to begin Ireland’s reply.

Their chase got off to the worst possible start as experienced opener Porterfield was dismissed for a duck by Akeal Hosein in the second over to leave them at 1-1.

Andrew McBrine joined Balbirnie at the crease and the pair carefully carried the score to 30-1 after 10 overs.

McBrine, unfortunately, had to leave the field at the end of the 17th over, on 34 from 50 balls, after being struck on the helmet by Odean Smith with the score on 62-1.

Harry Tector came to the crease to join Balbirnie and the two brought the score to 74-1 at the end of 20 overs with Balbirnie on 31 and Tector on three.

Ireland brought up their hundred with only one wicket down in the 25th over with Balbirnie and Tector on 46 and 12, respectively.

Balbirnie brought up his 13th ODI 50 off 74 balls in the 27th over.

After 30 overs, Ireland was cruising at 134-1 with Balbirnie on 60 and Tector on 32.

Balbirnie (66) and Tector (42) continued scoring freely to bring up Ireland’s 150 in the 33rd over.

Tector brought up his fifth ODI 50 off 62 balls in the 35th over.

At the start of the 36th over, Balbirnie and Tector brought up their 100-partnership.

The West Indies finally got the breakthrough they were looking for when Romario Shepherd removed Balbirnie for 71 off 94 balls in the 37th over to leave Ireland 165-2.

Odean Smith got his first ODI wicket in the 38th over by removing Harry Tector for 53 to leave the tourists 173-3 needing 97 more to win from 75 balls.

Curtis Campher then became Shepherd’s second wicket when he was dismissed for six in the 39th over to leave Ireland 173-4.

After 40 overs, Ireland was 178-4 needing 92 from 60 balls to win with Lorcan Tucker on 3 and George Dockrell on 2.

Tucker was next to go, bowled by Alzarri Joseph for 9 in the 42nd over, to leave the score at 186-5.

Joseph then bowled a perfect yorker to dismiss Gareth Delaney in the 44th over for his second wicket to leave Ireland on 194-6 needing 76 from 37 balls to win.

Neil Rock came in as a concussion substitute for McBrine and helped Ireland bring up their 200 in the 45th over with four wickets in hand.

After a promising partnership with Dockrell, Rock was dismissed by Jason Holder in the 47th over for five to leave Ireland 222-7 needing 48 from 20 balls to win.

Dockrell gave the West Indies something to think about late on with some big shots but was eventually dismissed by Joseph in the 48th over for 30 from 25 balls to leave Ireland on 237-8, needing 33 from 14 to win.

Shepherd then got his third wicket of the innings, removing Craig Young for a duck in the 49th over to leave the score at 239-9.

The win was secured when Nicholas Pooran took a brilliant diving catch on the boundary off Odean Smith to dismiss Josh Little and secure a 24-run victory.

Alzarri Joseph and Romario Shepherd took three wickets each for the West Indies and they were supported by debutant Odean Smith who got two.

Earlier, Ireland won the toss and put the West Indies in to bat.

Shamarh Brooks (93) and captain Kieron Pollard (69) were the chief destroyers as the West Indies finished 269 all out off 48.5 overs, against three-wicket hauls from Mark Adair and Craig Young.

Brooks was voted Player of the Match.

 

 

Well-compiled half-centuries from captain Kieron Pollard and debutant Shamarh Brooks propelled the West Indies to 269 all out from 48.5 overs in the first ODI at Sabina Park today.

After Ireland won the toss and chose to field, vice-captain Shai Hope and debutant Justin Greaves were tasked to open the innings for the home side.

The pair battled to 18-0 from 5.4 overs before Greaves was removed caught off the bowling of pacer Mark Adair for 7.

Nicholas Pooran joined Hope and the pair brought the score to 36-1 after 10 overs with Hope on 17 and Pooran on five.

They reached 59-1 in the 17th over before Pooran was dismissed, caught on the boundary off the bowling of off-spinner Andrew McBrine for 13.

Shai Hope was the next batsman to go, caught by wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker off the bowling of medium-pacer Curtis Campher for 29 to leave the West Indies 59-3 early in the 18th over.

Roston Chase replaced Hope at the crease and didn’t last long, becoming McBrine’s second victim, for one, leaving the West Indies 62-4 after 19 overs with captain Pollard joining Brooks at the crease.

After 20 overs, the Caribbean side were 66-4 with Brooks on five and Pollard on one.

The same pair were at the crease when the West Indies brought up their 100 in the 27th over with Pollard on 20 and Brooks on 17.

After 30 overs, West Indies were 121-4 with Pollard on 26 and Brooks on 27.

Brooks brought up a debut ODI 50 off 61 balls in the 36th over to move the score along to 159-4.

Pollard followed suit in the 37th over, hitting consecutive sixes off McBrine to bring up his 13th ODI 50 off 51 balls.

With 10 overs remaining, the West Indies were 204-4 with Brooks and Pollard looking comfortable on 70 and 66, respectively.

Pollard finally went for 69 off 66 balls in the 42nd over to leave the Windies 217-5.

Brooks was dismissed narrowly short of a debut hundred in the 45th over, going off the bowling of Mark Adair for 93 from 89 balls to leave the West Indies 238-6 with five overs remaining.

Romario Shepherd was the seventh wicket to fall, caught off the bowling of Craig Young in the 47th over for two to leave the score at 246-7.

More misery followed as Jason Holder went off the very next ball for 13 to leave the Windies 246-8 off 46.5 overs.

Alzarri Joseph was next to go in the 48th over for a duck to leave the score 253-9.

Mark Adair was the pick of the Irish bowlers with 3-38 from his 8.5 overs and he was supported by Craig Young who recovered from an expensive start to his spell to finish with 3-56 from nine overs.

 

 

 

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI), during a meeting of their Board of Directors on Thursday, announced the appointment of former Windies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan as a Selector to the West Indies Men’s Senior and Youth Selection Panels.

The panels are led by the Most Hon. Dr Desmond Haynes and Robert Haynes respectively.  Sarwan will be stepping down from his current role as Chairman of the Guyana Cricket Board’s Senior Selection Panel to focus on this role and avoid any conflict of interest.

“I am delighted to confirm that Ramnaresh Sarwan has agreed to accept the post of selector on CWI’s Men’s Senior and Youth Panels. He is a student of the game and knows what is required of our young cricketers in order to achieve international success. The Board of Directors are confident that Mr. Sarwan will add enormous value to the cricket system,” said CWI President Ricky Skerritt, reacting to the appointment.

Sarwan, a former West Indies captain who had an international career spanning over a decade, also reacted to his appointment to the panels.

“I want to thank CWI and everyone involved for giving me this opportunity to again serve West Indies cricket, as a member of the selection panels. I’m passionate about the game of cricket and especially West Indies cricket and once asked to contribute, I didn’t hesitate. I look forward to working with my colleagues, The Most Hon. Dr Desmond Haynes and Mr Robert Haynes, and the two Head Coaches, as well as everyone else involved in the development of this sport we love and respect so much,” he said.

Sarwan will be a member of the Men’s Senior and Youth Selection Panels until 30 June 2024, a period that includes four ICC Global Events, two T20 World Cups (2022 & 2024), the Cricket World Cup (2023), and the World Test Championship Final (2023).

He played 81 Test matches, 181 One-Day Internationals, and 18 T20 Internationals for the West Indies between 2000 and 2013.

He scored 5842 runs in Tests, including 15 centuries, and 5804 runs in ODIs, including five centuries, and was a member of the West Indies team which won the ICC Men’s Champions Trophy in 2004.

 

 

Sam Billings has joined the England Ashes squad, driving more than 500 miles down the Australian coast to ease the tourists' injury crisis.

With Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler both doubtful for the fifth and final Test of England's disappointing Ashes series, Billings got the call to join the squad just 90 minutes before he was due to leave Australia.

The 30-year-old was in Queensland with Big Bash League side Sydney Thunder, and spoke of his surprise at the call-up, after driving down the east coast of the country alone, as a precaution against COVID-19.

"I thought it was a joke," a thrilled Billings said in an interview with BBC Sport's Test Match Special program.

"I was due to go to Brisbane airport to fly home, and instead I went to Gold Coast airport to pick up a rental car, and I was on my way."

Ollie Pope stood in behind the stumps for England on day four of the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with both Bairstow and Buttler waiting on scans after sustaining hand injuries.

Pope took four catches before the hosts declared at 265-6.

England's prospects of victory look unlikely, given they are chasing a target of 388. However, openers Zak Crawley and Haseeb Hameed were disciplined in a short spell at the crease in the evening session on Saturday, and the tourists' focus will now be on securing a draw to avoid going 4-0 down in the series.

Billings is hoping to make a positive impact in the final Test. Should he feature, he will become the 700th man to represent England in the longest format. 

"I've had to bide my time for an opportunity or consistent game time," Billings said. "I'm really enjoying my cricket, to have the chance to play and not just to run the drinks, I've done that too much!

"I want to prove, not only to myself, but also to other people, that I'm not just a fill-in, I am good enough to warrant a place in the side.

"If the opportunity does arise then there's no pressure on me. It's something that no one really expected, and I've got nothing to lose. That's a great place to be, and sometimes that's when you play your best cricket."

Billings then discussed the rather unique overnight journey that he undertook to meet up with the squad. 

"It's been quite a long drive, I'm not going to lie," said Billings. "People don't realise how big Australia is. It really is vast."

After an overnight stop near the border between Queensland and New South Wales, the 30-year-old continued his journey "at the crack of dawn" on Saturday morning, and was at least able to take in some of the country's scenery. 

"I've been on a motorway through lots of trees, hills and rivers. It's been pleasant, better than the M25!"

Australia's Usman Khawaja is expecting to miss out on a place in the side for the final Ashes Test, despite his stunning display at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

England will need to bat out the final day at the SCG on Sunday, and perhaps hope for help from the weather, as they look to seal a draw from the fourth Test and stave off the threat of a 5-0 series whitewash.

The tourists will resume on 30-0, their highest opening partnership of the series so far, after Australia declared on 265-6 in their second innings.

England had kept themselves in the fight thanks to Jonny Bairstow's century on day three, and added 36 runs to their overnight total in the morning session on Saturday.

Their bowlers started well, reducing Australia to 68-3 by the time Khawaja came to the crease, and Steve Smith's dismissal then left the hosts at 86-4.

Yet Khawaja, who marked his recall in place of coronavirus-hit Travis Head with 137 in the first innings, went on to thwart England's bowling attack once more, with his unbeaten 101 leading Australia into a 387-run lead.

Khawaja, who played for New South Wales and currently is a star man for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, became the first player to score a hundred in each innings of an SCG Test since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting in January 2006, also against England.

However, the 35-year-old, who had not appeared in an Australia Test team since facing England at Headingley in 2019, does not expect his performance to be enough to secure his spot in the XI for the final match in Hobart.

"At the moment I'm quite resigned to the fact that I'll probably miss out," Khawaja told reporters. "That's just from talking to [head selector] George Bailey about continuity. That's important, I'm not totally against that process.

"I felt like throughout my career, a lot of changes were made and I was on the wrong side of them, so I'm the first to say that I think there needs to be structure and stability. I know how hard it is for a cricketer chopping and changing.

"I actually like the processes that the selectors have been taking throughout the series, so at the moment I'm not really expecting to play the next match, but I'll always be ready.

"Someone else may get COVID or something else happens. Heady batted beautifully in that first Test. I'd be very surprised if too much changed. Scotty Boland was amazing last game, something I'm not sure I'll see again, and he was going to be dropped. It's just the reality. It sucks, but that's just cricket."

While Khawaja is not expecting to play in Tasmania, he may also be joined in watching on by England trio Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Bairstow.

Stokes scored a resilient 66 as he battled through a side strain in England's first innings, while both Buttler and Bairstow did not field on Saturday after sustaining hand injuries.

Ollie Pope filled in at wicketkeeper, taking four catches, while Sam Billings has been called up by England for the Hobart Test, and assistant coach Graham Thorpe does not know if the trio will be fit to return.

"We've obviously got some blows. It's possible [they will miss the final Test] but we will be assessing all of that at the end of the game," he told reporters.

England were forced to field Ollie Pope as a substitute wicketkeeper in the second innings of the fourth Ashes Test with Australia.

Injuries to Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow left both unable to field at the Sydney Cricket Ground as England attempt to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat.

Buttler injured his left index finger while Bairstow scored England's first century of the series with an injured thumb.

He returned to bat in the morning session on day four but was unable to don the gloves, which were instead handed to Pope.

Pope claimed a pair of catches prior to lunch as Australia were reduced to 66-2, a lead of 188 after England were bowled out for 294.

The substitute keeper claimed a third catch in the afternoon session as Marnus Labuschagne was caught behind for 29.

Sam Billings, playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, has been called up to England's Test squad.

 

West Indies One Day International and T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, implored his team to aim to put together a string of consistent performances on the eve of their first ODI against Ireland at Sabina Park in Jamaica.

Pollard spoke in a pre-match press conference on Friday and acknowledged the criticism the team has received for its frequent inconsistent play.

“A lot has been said over the last couple months in terms of performances by the West Indies team; us not doing well and losing games and it is something that we accept. We want to be able to string good performances together on a consistent basis and that is the nature of some of the conversations we’re having as a team,” Pollard said.

The Trinidadian also explained that finding the right combination can take time so fans should be patient.

“Hopefully the fans can bear with us until we find that right combination and guys in the frame of mind to actually perform on a consistent basis,” he added.

Finding that right combination is also made more difficult by the fact that some of the most talented players in the region have persistent fitness issues that prevents them from being selected to represent the Caribbean side, a notion which Pollard also echoed during his press conference.

“It has been a topical issue that has been plaguing us for the last couple years or so. I think it’s an individual choice. The selection policy is there, the fitness policies are there. Guys know exactly what is needed for you as an individual to represent the West Indies and sometimes as individuals, we tend to take things for granted. Yes, it has hindered the process of selecting the best team at any given time,” he said.

In terms of preparation, the captain says training has been going well and the team is relishing the opportunity to produce.

“We have an opportunity to try and put things right, so for the last couple days guys have been training hard. This is a different format to the ones that we have played recently and we’re looking forward to the challenges for the season ahead, not only this series,” Pollard said.

The first ODI between the West Indies and Ireland bowls off at Sabina Park on Saturday, January 8 at 9:30 am Jamaica time.

 

 

 

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