Representatives for England players will continue talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) over how to help the game during the coronavirus pandemic, though they have not received any demands from their employers to take a pay cut.

Having already revealed this week that they will provide a £61million support package to help ease the financial issues caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the ECB announced on Wednesday measures to reduce employee salaries as they aim to protect jobs in the long term.

Chief executive Tom Harrison has agreed to take a 25 per cent cut, while members of the executive management and team board will see their wages lowered by 20 per cent.

A report by ESPNcricinfo earlier in the day suggested the England squad had so far declined an invitation to follow suit, though all-rounder Ben Stokes called the story “utter lies" on Twitter.

In a statement, the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) said discussions for both the men's and women's team continue with the ECB over "all aspects of the game", including contracts.

"Regarding the England players, both men and women, separate and ongoing discussions are taking place between the ECB and the management boards of both the Team England Player Partnership (TEPP) and the England Women's Player Partnership (EWPP), which respectively represent these players," the statement read.

"Contrary to media speculation in communication this week, the ECB confirmed to centrally contracted players that there would not be any demands placed on England players to take any wage reductions to their central contracts.

"However, the England men's players through TEPP and the England women's players through EWPP have been and will continue to be in regular communication with the ECB.

"They will be discussing all aspects of the game that the ECB and the players are currently facing and most importantly how the players can best support their employers, the game and the country in the short, medium and long term. These issues shall also include the wellbeing of the entire cricket family, the playing of the game and the players' contracts."

Limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan made clear he is “extremely willing to help” amid the global crisis, with the English season not scheduled to start until May 28 at the earliest.

"In the extremely uncertain times at the moment where nobody seems to have any answers about the actual impact it will have on international cricket, English cricket, county cricket - I'm open to absolutely everything," Morgan said.

"I'm very aware of how serious the situation is, I'm very aware that everybody will be affected from top to toe within the game and every sport, so I'm open to helping when and where I can."

Eoin Morgan is "open to absolutely everything" to help efforts against the coronavirus pandemic but believes England's cricketers are entitled to more guidance amid a public clamour for them to take a temporary pay cut.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced a £61million support package on Tuesday to address "the biggest challenge the ECB has faced in its history".

A reduction in salary's for England's centrally contracted players is not yet a part of that effort, although ESPNcricinfo reported ECB chief executive Tom Harrison had written to his counterpart at the Professional Cricketers' Association, Tony Irish, to suggest the country's leading cricket stars should take a lead on this matter.

Harrison himself has volunteered to take a 25 per cent reduction in salary, with the executive management team and board taking a 20 per cent cut for the two months starting April 1. Some staff will also be asked to consent to furloughing under the UK government's coronavirus scheme, before having their salaries topped back up to 100 per cent by the ECB. 

Ben Stokes tweeted to strongly dispute the suggestion he and his team-mates had elected not to take a pay cut, while Morgan told reporters on Wednesday that he had not seen the letter.

"I'm extremely willing to help where I know it's going to make a difference," he said.

"In the extremely uncertain times at the moment, where nobody seems to have any answers of the actual impact it will have on international cricket, English cricket, county cricket, I'm open to absolutely everything.

"I'm very aware how serious the situation is, I'm very aware that everybody will be affected from top to toe within the game and in every sport.

"I'm open to helping where and when I can."

Morgan explained he felt finding the appropriate response was complicated for cricket players because their immediate plans are in such a state of flux.

"The difficult thing we find at the moment when we talk as players is that we can't answer that – we can't answer what is the best way to help out as players," he said.

"Is it to engage on social media? Is it to engage in other streams? Is it just to sit back and let this pass and hopefully we'll play?

"In relation to what we're trying to do and play cricket, get back out on the field, it seems to be quite a while away. The advice that we will be continually getting over the coming weeks is the important stuff."

One of Morgan's World Cup-winning colleagues to have taken a pro-active step in this regard is Jos Buttler.

The Lancashire wicketkeeper has put his shirt from last year's dramatic final triumph over New Zealand at Lord's up for auction on eBay, with the highest bid already in excess of £65,000.

Buttler's shirt is signed by the entire England team and the proceeds will be donated to the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity, to fund life-saving equipment to help those affected by COVID-19.

"It's an incredibly kind gesture," Morgan said. "Certainly, I'm not one for holding on to memorabilia and if I can help out in any way by auctioning off or donating to charity, I do what I can.

"Other people are different. We've seen during the Australian bushfires, where Shane Warne auctioned his baggy green cap for a million dollars or something ridiculous.

"The impact that can have on so many lives, as opposed to sitting in somebody's drawer and just having it as a bit of a trophy – personally that's something I don't understand.

"Jos, I suppose, is one of those guys. I think his shirt will go for a lot of money but the gesture in itself, to help aid and buy new equipment, I think is outstanding."

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced a £61million support package to "keep the lights on" amid concerns the entire season will be lost due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison on Tuesday warned the governing body faces the biggest challenge in its history with the United Kingdom in lockdown.

Around £40m has been made available immediately as first-class counties and local cricket boards suffer from the financial impact of COVID-19, while around a further £21m will follow in interest-free loans for recreational clubs in a bid to ensure cricket can survive at all levels.

The start of the county season has already been delayed by six weeks until May 28, but there are fears that no play will be possible at all.

Alternatively, England's Test and limited-overs sides could play at the same time to cram in fixtures later in the season, while the inaugural edition of The Hundred may be postponed until next year or staged behind closed doors.

Harrison also confirmed that England players with central contracts will not be asked to take a pay cut or furloughed.

He said in a statement: "It is no exaggeration to say this is the biggest challenge the ECB has faced in its history.

"We are working around the clock to understand the impact on the game and we have taken these short-term steps to help counties and clubs get through the immediate impact."

Harrison added: "This is a real hammer blow to our plans. Our season is massively under threat now. It's an incredibly difficult time for the country and the game.

"Everyone will be impacted. Right now we are addressing the short term. There's more pain ahead if we lose a substantial portion of the season. We are building scenarios where we can take further steps as needed. We don't think this will be the end of it.

"We won't be playing until we know it is safe for players and eventually fans. We will then be prioritising the most valuable forms of the game: first international cricket, then the Blast and maybe The Hundred as and when we get there.

"This money - £40million in cash for immediate and then £20million in interest-free loans - is to give certainty in these extremely difficult times. It's to keep the lights on."

Cricket South Africa (CSA) is not planning to implement pay cuts for Proteas players during the coronavirus pandemic, though future salaries could be affected.

The Proteas' tour of India in March was cut short due to the proliferation of COVID-19 and all forms of cricket in South Africa were cancelled for 60 days on March 16.

Australia's visit to face the women's team was called off, while trips for the men to Sri Lanka in June and the West Indies in July could be in jeopardy if the situation has not improved six weeks prior to the start of those respective tours.

However, CSA chief executive Jacques Faul does not anticipate the salaries of players to be impacted in the short term, though the pot for future payments may have to be reduced.

"For now we've budgeted for the amount. It's a centralised system so both the Proteas and the franchise players have been budgeted for and we have enough to see through the next season," said Faul during a conference call.

"The players will lose out on match fees and win bonuses. If these tours are rescheduled they'll get the money. In the long term even if we cover this season we have to look at what it's going to be post this season and the financial impact of that and how much will be available to contract players.

"We've got to crunch the numbers first and experience the total effect of COVID-19, but it is a possibility the players will be receiving less of a player payment pool.

"I cannot see anyone for now getting less money than they're contracted for, but in future the allocation going to players I can see that being less."

Graeme Smith signed a three-month contract as director of cricket in December and Faul stated clarity on the former captain's tenure will be provided next week.

"We're in final negotiations with Graeme there will be an announcement next week," he said.

"We're at an advanced stage of the negotiations and hopefully we can make an announcement next week."

Australia's remaining ODI matches against the Black Caps and the upcoming Twenty20 series have been postponed after the New Zealand government introduced strict travel conditions due to coronavirus.

The cancelation of the series comes as New Zealand enforce a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for those entering the country from midnight on Sunday (local time) amid the global COVID-19 outbreak.

After Australia's 71-run win over New Zealand in Friday's ODI opener played without fans at the SCG, the hosts were due to face the Black Caps in Sydney (Sunday) and Hobart (March 20) for the final two 50-over fixtures.

New Zealand were also set to host a three-match T20 series, starting in Dunedin on March 24, however, the games have been called off as the Black Caps rush home.

"Arrangements are being made to fly the bulk of the squad home this evening [Saturday]," New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said in a statement.

"NZC believes both these series can be replayed in their entirety at a later and more appropriate date.

"NZC understands and supports the government’s position. This is a time of unprecedented risk and peril, and the personal health and well-being of our players is paramount."

New Zealand's border restrictions could also impact the A-League, NRL and Super Rugby competitions.

Coronavirus continues to disrupt sport across the world, with the Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, MLS, NBA, NHL, MLB and tennis among the sports on hiatus, while the Formula One's season-opening Australian Grand Prix was cancelled on Friday.

In Australia, there have been almost 200 cases of COVID-19 with three deaths, while New Zealand are yet to record a casualty in six cases so far.

Globally, over 5,400 people have died from the virus following more than 145,000 cases.

Australia paceman Kane Richardson has been tested for coronavirus and will miss the opening ODI against New Zealand on Friday.

Richardson reported a mild sore throat on Thursday and is being quarantined as he awaits the results of his coronavirus test.

The 29-year-old was part of the Australia limited-overs squads that played in South Africa in February and March.

"Our medical staff are treating this as a typical throat infection but we are following Australian Government protocols that require us to keep Kane away from other members of the squad and perform the appropriate tests given he has returned from international travel in the last 14 days," a Cricket Australia spokesperson said, via cricket.com.au.

"Once we receive the results of the tests and Kane recovers in the next few days we expect he will re-join the team.

"We will not be making further comment until something changes."

Sean Abbott has joined the Australia squad as cover.

The three-match ODI series, which begins in Sydney on Friday, will be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus.

Hardik Pandya, Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are back in the India ODI squad to face South Africa after recovering from injuries.

All-rounder Pandya had not played an international game since September having undergone back surgery.

A shoulder injury suffered in the ODIs with Australia in January had kept Dhawan on the sidelines, while Bhuvneshwar, who last played for India in December, has been out with a sports hernia.

They return to the squad along with opener Shubman Gill. Kedar Jadhav, Shivam Dube, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami and Mayank Agarwal drop out from the squad that suffered a 3-0 whitewash in New Zealand.

Pandya provided a reminder of his quality with the bat as he proved his fitness to selectors in the invitational DY Patil T20 competition.

He scored two centuries in that tournament, including an unbeaten 158, and will hope to make a similar impact against a South Africa side that completed a 3-0 series win over Australia on Saturday.

The first match of the three-game series takes place on Thursday in Dharamsala.


India squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, Navdeep Saini, Prithvi Shaw, Kuldeep Yadav.

Mashrafe Mortaza earned glowing praise from Bangladesh team-mates after captaining his country for the final time in ODIs.

Bangladesh thrashed Zimbabwe by 123 runs on the Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method in Sylhet, sealing a 3-0 series triumph and making it 50 ODI wins from 88 matches as skipper for Mortaza.

The 36-year-old was then showered with effusive tributes from the likes of Liton Das, who scored a stunning 176 to set a new national record in the format.

"He's got a very special place in my heart," Das said of Mortaza. "I made my debut under him.

"He's always supported me. Having a captain like that is always rare.

"We will miss him, because when he leads, there's no distinction between seniors and juniors. It's a lot of fun."

Mortaza gave credit to his players, saying: "This is a great honour. My boys have been fantastic. They have given everything for the team. I'd like to say my thanks to all the boys."

Adding to the kind words, Mahmudullah cited Mortaza's overall impact on the game in Bangladesh.

"He's been a brother and a friend, and he's done so much for Bangladesh cricket," he said. "We have operated in a very nice way. When he took over, we were floundering a little bit."

They were sentiments echoed by Tamim Iqbal, who shared a 292-run opening stand with Das on Friday.

"When he took over in 2014, we were nowhere," said Tamim, after making an unbeaten 128. "From 2014 to 2019, he took us to a stage where we were taken seriously all over the world.

"There were people who wanted me dropped, but he backed me all the way."

Liton Das and Tamim Iqbal dominated Zimbabwe's bowlers to complete a 3-0 ODI clean sweep for Bangladesh and give Mashrafe Mortaza a fitting send-off as captain.

In a match shortened by rain to 43 overs per side in Sylhet, the hosts posted 322-3 in Mortaza's final game as skipper, with Das and Iqbal sharing a 292-run opening stand – the third highest in ODI history.

Zimbabwe were set a revised target of 342 and came up well short, Mortaza earning his 50th win in the format as the side's leader, the 36-year-old chipping in with 1-47 in a 123-run DLS triumph. 

The home side were making fine headway when the weather closed in, the Tigers going off for more than two and a half hours with 182 runs on the board and the first pairing still going strong.

After resuming, Carl Mumba did manage to break the bond, taking three late wickets, although Tamim – who made 158 in the second match – remained unbeaten on 128.

Das smashed 16 fours and eight sixes in his stunning career-best 176, which came from 143 deliveries and ensured he eclipsed Tamim's tally from the previous outing to claim a national record in the format.

Zimbabwe's response was not nearly as spectacular, with Tinashe Kamunhukamwe falling in the first over to Mortaza and setting the tone for an innings of fruitless toil from the tourists. 

Sikandar Raza did post a defiant 61, with Regis Chakabva (34) and Wesley Madhevere (42) also gaining some credit, but their contributions came in another losing effort as Mohammad Saifuddin (4-41) did most of the damage.

The result completed a miserable series for Zimbabwe, who lost the opener by a record 169 runs, before succumbing to a defeat by just four runs in the second meeting. 

Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen have been recalled to South Africa's ODI squad for the series with India, for which George Linde has received his maiden limited-overs call-up.

Du Plessis and Van der Dussen were both involved in the T20 series with Australia but were rested for the ongoing ODI series, which South Africa lead 1-0.

However, they will feature in a three-match series in India, which starts in Dharamsala on March 12.

Also included is left-arm spinner Linde, whose only previous international appearance came in the third Test against India last year in Ranchi, where South Africa lost by an innings and 202 runs.

Linde took 4-133 in that heavy defeat, and has 86 wickets in his list A career at an average of 28.95.

Kyle Verreynne, whose 48 off 64 balls helped the Proteas beat Australia in the first ODI, keeps his place in the squad. Tabraiz Shamsi is unavailable for selection as he and his wife are expecting the birth of their first child.

"It is exciting to see the amount of competition for spots that we have within the team and in the franchises, it's a good headache for us as selectors to have," Linda Zondi, CSA's independent selector, said. 

"We are satisfied with our picks for what will certainly be a challenging tour of India. We saw some promising performances last year from the T20 squad that travelled there and we wanted to give a player like George Linde another crack at the conditions which seemed to really suit him. 

"We are also particularly pleased with the balance of youth and experience that we have achieved while our young leadership group continues to establish itself. We are looking forward to some good performances in this relatively short tour."

 


South Africa squad: Quinton de Kock (captain), Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis, Beuran Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lutho Sipamla, Jon-Jon Smuts, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne.  

South Africa claimed victory in the first ODI with Australia after producing a disciplined bowling display to back up Heinrich Klaasen's eye-catching century at Boland Park on Saturday.

In the first meeting of a three-match series, it was the Proteas who impressed to triumph by 74 runs, Klaasen's unbeaten 123 proving key, while Lungi Ngidi (3-30) was clinical with the ball.

The victory came despite a sluggish start from the hosts, who were reduced to 48-3, with newcomer Janneman Malan among the victims as he was out for a golden duck.

But another debutant shone far more brightly, Kyle Verreynne's handy contribution of 48 – along with David Miller's 64 and Klaasen's heroics – helping South Africa to 291-7.

Even in the absence of influential paceman Kagiso Rabada, out with a groin strain suffered in the T20 series, the home side applied pressure with the ball to limit Australia's response and seal victory in the 46th over.

Malan fell first ball to Mitchell Starc, given out lbw on review, and captain Quinton de Kock was out tamely for 15 when he nicked one into the gloves of Alex Carey off Josh Hazlewood.

Temba Bavuma dragged on from Pat Cummins to leave South Africa in real trouble before Verreynne and Klaasen's 78-run stand stirred a revival.

Klaasen, who racked up a maiden international hundred, combined just as effectively with Miller after Verreynne was caught at square leg by Marsh, the newly minted partnership adding a decisive 149 runs.

With a sizeable target to chase, the tourists struggled to get going, although Steve Smith's 76 did raise hopes of making it a competitive contest after openers David Warner (25) and Aaron Finch (10) had been dismissed by Ngidi.

When Smith was trapped lbw by Anrich Nortje in the 35th over, Australia were running out of overs and wickets, requiring 118 runs from 96 balls.

Carey's five from 16 deliveries was decidedly unhelpful, but he was not the only one to come up short on a day when Australia simply failed to fire, finishing 217 all out.

Kagiso Rabada will miss not only South Africa's one-dayers against Australia on home soil but also the upcoming tour to India due to a groin strain.

Paceman Rabada suffered the injury during the Twenty20 series with Australia, which concluded on Wednesday at Newlands in Cape Town, and underwent an MRI scan to assess the extent of the problem.

The 24-year-old will be sidelined for a month, according to a statement released by Cricket South Africa (CSA) on the eve of the first ODI in Paarl.

After hosting Australia, the Proteas travel to India for three 50-over fixtures, starting in Dharamsala on March 12.

"The significant injury means that he will take approximately four weeks to heal, which effectively rules him out of both the Australia and India ODI series," said Dr Shuaib Manjra, CSA's chief medical officer.

"The CSA medical staff will ensure his effective and expeditious recovery."

Rabada was rested for the limited-overs games against England earlier this year but returned to face Australia, picking up two wickets in his three appearances as the tourists won the T20 series by a 2-1 scoreline.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said that while he could pinpoint a great many things his side got wrong during a one-sided affair against Sri Lanka at Hambantota on Wednesday, he would not go into the business of scapegoating but would talk to his team about what transpired.

Sri Lanka won the game by 161 runs but more importantly, the hosts now hold an unassailable 2-0 lead in their three-match ODI series.

The hosts benefitted from centuries of 127  and 119 from opener Avishka Fernando and Kusal Mendis respectively, the pair helping them to a mammoth 345-8 from their 50 overs. The West Indies did not get close, as only Shai Hope, 51, and Roston Chase, 31, offered any resistance.

The visitors would end on 184 all out against the bowling of Wanindu Hasaranga, 3-30, Lakshan Sandakan, 3-57, and Nuwan Pradeep, 2-37. There was also a wicket for Angelo Matthews, 1-20.

But Pollard did point out that things could have been different had he not dropped Mendis early in the innings and maybe, the series would now be different.

"It was the start we were looking forward to, getting two wickets early. But I put the catch of Kusal Mendis down, otherwise they would have been three down,” said Pollard.

In addition, Pollard believes his side did not have faith in the plans they made.

“We didn't stick to our plans long enough. I don't think we were up to the international standard today. Well bowled to them and well played to them,” he said.

Pollard will now look toward the final game of the series to see if the West Indies can win one.

“We weren't there in all three departments today. We can pinpoint a lot of things but I don't want to go into a lot of details. We'll do that as a team. I cop this one on the chin and we move on to Kandy."

Avishka Fernando and Kusal Mendis combined for a 239-run third-wicket stand to set Sri Lanka on course to thrash West Indies on Wednesday and clinch their three-match ODI series.

Sri Lanka were in complete control of the second one-dayer after opener Fernando (127) and Mendis (119) produced a dominant early showing, teeing up a 161-run triumph in Hambantota.

The hosts did not hit a single six but posted 345-8, the biggest total in men's ODI history not to include a maximum.

And the Windies never looked capable of causing Sri Lanka serious trouble with the bat, opener Shai Hope's knock of 51 their best effort as they were bowled out for an underwhelming 184 with 65 balls remaining.

The tourists' day had started in positive enough fashion, with Kieron Pollard winning the toss, choosing to bowl and then seeing Sheldon Cottrell (4-67) remove home captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera from consecutive deliveries in only the third over.

But that was just about as good as it got, with Fernando and Mendis subsequently combining for their devastating, match-turning partnership.

They stood together for 228 balls until Alzarri Joseph (3-57) finally made a breakthrough in the 41st over, as Mendis, who survived an early drop from Pollard, top-edged for a comfortable Hope take.

Although Joseph took out both Fernando and Angelo Mathews in his next over, the scoreboard had long since got away from the Windies, and scoring remained steady throughout the remainder of the innings.

The reply was initially solid enough, but Hope left partner Sunil Ambris (17) high and dry for a run out.

Mathews got Hope, and then Wanindu Hasaranga (3-30) came to the fore, his haul including a golden duck for Windies skipper Pollard.

Only brief floodlight failure after the eighth wicket delayed Sri Lanka's progress, with the final two dismissals arriving within four balls of the restart courtesy of Nuwan Pradeep (2-37) and Lakshan Sandakan (3-57).

Former captain Faf du Plessis will be rested again by South Africa for the upcoming ODI series against Australia, Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed on Wednesday.

Du Plessis has stepped down as Proteas skipper across all three formats in recent weeks, with Quinton de Kock taking charge.

Although the 35-year-old is playing against Australia in the ongoing Twenty20 international series, he missed the clashes with England in the same format earlier in February.

And Du Plessis will be absent again when South Africa return to 50-over action on Saturday.

"With a busy year and a half in mind, the selectors have opted to give further rest to Faf du Plessis and other senior players, such as Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius, while giving themselves an opportunity to see what some of the country's up and coming talents have to offer," CSA posted on its Twitter page as the squad was announced.

Keshav Maharaj is granted a recall, having last played limited-overs cricket for the Proteas in August 2018.

The 30-year-old left-arm spinner has been a Test regular in recent years but is yet to play T20s for South Africa and has featured in just four ODIs.

Meanwhile, Lutho Sipamla, who debuted against England at the start of the month, and Janneman Malan, with two T20 caps, are among the younger players included, along with Kyle Verreynne.

Verreynne, 22, is yet to feature for his country at senior level.


South Africa ODI squad in full: Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Beuran Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Janneman Malan, Jon-Jon Smuts, Anrich Nortje, Lutho Sipamla, Keshav Maharaj, Kyle Verreynne.

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