West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards believes veteran T20 player Kieron Pollard would make a better option for team captain than current skipper Carlos Brathwaite.

The 31-year-old Brathwaite was named captain of the squad in 2016, following the controversial dismal of World Cup-winning captain Darren Sammy and his heroics against England in the final.  The Barbadian has, however, struggled since taking charge of the unit, winning just 11 and losing 17 of his matches in charge of the team for a 36 percent win rate.

Despite being out of the squad for a couple of years, Pollard has continued to be one of the game’s most reliable players, recently returning to score 115 in a three-match series against India.  The Windies, however, lost the series 3-0.

“Given his experience in that format, I would have liked to see Kieron Pollard as the best choice for our T20 captain. But he is not, for there are some reasons for that. During the CPL, he is the best with the bat and his fielding talent,” Richards recently told the India Times.

“There is no disrespect to Carlos Brathwaite, but he probably would have been part of the team still. It was a political scenario after Darren Sammy exited the captaincy. Brathwaite is magnificent as an individual and highly competitive, but I know a lot of players in that team who believe Pollard would have been a great choice as captain.”

 

 

David Warner likened Jofra Archer to South Africa great Dale Steyn after he took 6-45 in the third Ashes Test at Headingley, but the England newcomer is not surprised by his instant impact in the longest format.

In just his second five-day match, Archer ripped through Australia on a truncated first day in Leeds, taking five of the eight wickets to fall in the final session, including that of Warner (61) as the tourists were dismissed for 179 having been 136-2.

Archer, who was born in Barbados but qualified to play for England in March, showed no sign of being overawed by international cricket when he starred in the World Cup triumph earlier this year and the Test stage does not appear too grand for the 24-year-old either.

He returned match figures of 5-91 in his Test debut at Lord's - when his vicious 92.4mph struck Steve Smith on the neck and led to him missing the match at Headingley due to concussion - but his ability to get wickets on a more pedestrian track at Leeds was even more impressive.

"It's a bit like how Dale Steyn with the new ball tried to just use the conditions and then sort of ramp it up when they need to. That was world-class bowling at its best," Warner said of Archer.

It was the wicket of Warner - one of four Australian batsmen to nick behind - that turned a game that had been disrupted by rain and bad light after Joe Root had won the toss.

Archer got nowhere near the 96.1mph he clocked at Leeds and the threat of the bouncer was only minimal, but the conscious reduction of pace proved productive.

"This wasn't a short-ball wicket, it wasn't as hard as Lord's," Archer said. 

"So it's just get it on the full line and length and it got results today. I don't need to run in and bowl 90mph every spell to get wickets. It's shown today."

On the comparisons with Steyn, Archer added: "It's really flattering. Actually, Dale tweeted a few years ago when I first started for Sussex, it's nice that someone who has played so many Tests and taken so many wickets would even think about me."

Whereas others may be taken aback by Archer's swift adaptation to Test cricket, the man himself thinks he is just doing what he always has.

Asked whether he had been surprised by his impact, he replied: "No. It's the same thing. It's nice to play the Ashes in England at grounds you played at already and are familiar with.

"Sussex has the same hill so to me it doesn't feel like I've done anything different."

David Warner credited Ricky Ponting for helping him rediscover his best form after sharing a round of golf with the former Australia captain.

Warner ended a run of four consecutive single-figure scores in the Ashes with a battling 61 at Headingley, standing defiant alongside fellow half-centurion Marnus Labuschagne (74) as the tourists subsided to 179 all out.

Jofra Archer starred once again for England, returning figures of 6-45 – including the pivotal wicket of Warner, who edged a lifter behind when the score was 136-2.

Resistance was negligible from that point on as Archer and England made the most of helpful conditions on a gloomy Leeds evening, but Warner could at least reflect on a personal battle won.

"It's been challenging but coming into it mentally I felt like I was in form. I've had three balls where I probably couldn't have done anything with them," he told a post-match news conference, having played and missed frequently against his series nemesis Stuart Broad. "I've worked my backside off in the nets as well.

"Today was about trying to negate that good ball and not get out to it. I had a lot of luck, I played and missed quite a lot but I kept my bat nice and tight.

"I was very pleased with the way I adjusted very well. I moved across a little bit more so my bat was covering that off stump."

Warner and Labuschagne added 111 from 138 balls as England's discipline deserted them in the first hour of an elongated final session and there was no danger of the former's natural aggression being cast aside after a few holes with Ponting.

"Going out on the golf course with Ricky was great, it's always good to have my mate around and just let your hair down," he said. "He was all about making sure I'm still backing my gameplan, looking to get forward and looking to hit the ball.

"I know when I'm looking to hit the ball my defence takes care of itself and I'm compact. I was fortunate enough that it came off. Obviously, you get another good ball there but can't do anything about it."

As he did when playing as a concussion substitute for Steve Smith at Lord's, Labuschagne raised his bat in the absence of Australia's talisman in their middle order.

Warner feels his team-mate's time in the County Championship with Glamorgan this season is paying dividends.

"I thought he was outstanding, his discipline was outstanding," Warner added. "Him coming over here and playing that stint of county cricket, scoring some runs and knowing where his off stump is, I know he has worked really hard on that.

"He has a lot of fight in him. We talked our way through our innings out there, we rebounded a lot of positive comments and he kept telling me about being disciplined and making sure I’m holding my shape, which was great getting reassurance from a youngster."

England paceman Jofra Archer was "over the moon" after he skittled Australia out with a maiden five-wicket Test haul on a rain-affected day one of the third Ashes contest at Headingley.

Archer took 6-45 - including five of eight wickets to fall in a dramatic final session - as the tourists collapsed from 136-2 to 179 all out after being asked to bat on a gloomy day in Leeds, where only 52.1 overs were bowled.

The quick bowled with great skill under grey skies, tormenting Australia after making a huge impact on his Test debut at Lord's.

Australia folded after third-wicket stand of 111 between David Warner (61) and Marnus Labuschagne (74), with Stuart Broad taking 2-32 before Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes took a wicket apiece.

Archer reflected on a job well done less than a week after he rattled Steve Smith on the helmet with a bouncer, resulting in the prolific former Australia captain being ruled out of the third Test with concussion.

He told Test Match Special: "Firstly, it means I get to rest. We've been in the field all day, it was stop start all day, which is really annoying. You start to bowl well and then you have to go off and start again. I'm over the moon to get six wickets but equally happy just to get off.

"The ball just started swinging randomly from the over before the Warner wicket. It got a bit more overcast and then from then on the ball was really good.

"We thought it was going to be a repeat of Lord's and losing the first day. But we got a large portion of the bad weather out of the way today."

He added: "I didn't do too much differently from Lord's, the slope there just makes the balls a lot harder to play. It was a bit bowler-friendly today, at times it did go flat and the ball stopped swinging but it started again.

"There were a few threes and no sweepers, I'll more than take 6-45 but I can be tidier in the future. It's been really good so far, from the moment I've put the badge on, it's been the happiest days of cricket so far and hopefully plenty more ahead.

"They've got some good bowlers as well so we've got to bat really well tomorrow."

Jofra Archer took six wickets as Australia were skittled out cheaply on a rain-affected first day of the third Ashes Test at Headingley despite half-centuries from David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne.

Australia lost eight wickets for 43 runs in a dramatic final session on Thursday, collapsing to 179 all out after Joe Root put them in under grey skies following a delayed start due to dismal weather in Leeds.

Warner (61) returned to form with a battling knock and Labuschagne (74) made a second successive half-century, having frustrated England with a crucial innings when he was called in as a concussion replacement for Steve Smith at Lord's.

Labuschagne, selected with Smith ruled out, and Warner put on 111 for the third wicket before the magnificent Archer took five of eight wickets to fall after tea, giving England a great chance of levelling the Ashes series at 1-1.

Strike bowler Archer, whose rapid bouncer flattened Smith last weekend, sealed a maiden Test five-for with figures of 6-45, while Stuart Broad posted 2-32 in the 52.1 overs that were bowled on a gloomy day.

Archer struck in his second over after play began following a delay of just over an hour, snaring Marcus Harris – in for the dropped Cameron Bancroft – caught behind with a brilliant delivery.

Australia were 25-2 when Broad strangled Usman Khawaja down the leg side after an early lunch was taken due to more dismal weather.

They were back off for rain with the tourists 39-2 and England lost control after an early tea was taken due to bad light.

Opener Warner slapped Ben Stokes for four and brought up his half-century with a streaky boundary over point in the same over as England's frustration mounted.

Warner successfully reviewed when he was given out caught behind off Broad for 61 but was on his way when he nicked a sharp ball from Archer through to Jonny Bairstow.

Travis Head was cleaned up by an unplayable delivery from Broad and Matthew Wade was also on his way without scoring in unfortunate fashion, seeing the ball trickle back and hit the stumps after Archer struck him on the glove.

Labuschagne was in agony when he was hit in a painful area by Broad after reaching his half-century and Chris Woakes had captain Tim Paine leg before following a successful review.

Root held on at first slip when Archer drew an edge from James Pattinson – in for Peter Siddle – and Pat Cummins became Archer's fifth victim before Labuschagne missed a straight full toss from Stokes and was triggered lbw.

Archer fittingly finished Australia off by getting Nathan Lyon lbw with the first ball of the final over of what turned out to be very much England's day.

 

ARCHER AND BROAD HIT THE MARK AGAIN

Archer rose to the occasion on his Test debut at Lord's and showed no signs of fatigue with another hostile display of fast bowling.

The Barbados-born quick came to the fore in a dramatic evening session, tearing through the tourists as he bowled with pace and great control.

Broad was also outstanding once again and could easily have had at least five wickets as he generated plenty of swing and movement off the seam.

 

WARNER STOPS THE ROT, LABUSCHAGNE A SUPER SUB FOR SMITH

Warner had not made it to double figures in his four visits to the crease at Edgbaston and Lord's, but the opener was back in business in Yorkshire.

The left-hander rode his luck, playing and missing time and again, but struck seven boundaries and ran aggressively in a battling knock.

Labuschagne came to the rescue when he replaced Smith in London with a resolute half-century and was in the runs again after earning his place in the side, batting with excellent technique and application.

 

MOMENT OF THE DAY

Archer conjured up a couple of brilliant deliveries to dismiss Harris and Warner, but a pumped up Broad left Head shaking his head with a peach of a ball which struck the top of off stump.

 

OPTA FACTS

- The second-highest stand after David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne's partnership was only 23 – between the latter and Tim Paine.
- Stuart Broad is one wicket away from becoming the all-time leading Test wicket-taker at Headingley.
- Labuschagne has reached 50 in eight of his last 11 first-class innings; having been in sublime form during a spell with Glamorgan.
- Travis Head's duck was the second of his Test career – the first came in his maiden innings.

England's bid to level the Ashes at Headingley was hampered by rain and bad light at Headingley as Australia's batsmen faced just 18 overs in the first two sessions of the third Test.

The hosts, 1-0 down in the five-match series, had inserted their opponents under gloomy skies after winning the toss in Leeds, yet play was delayed for 80 minutes due to showers, and only four overs were possible before the inclement weather returned.

During that time, however, Jofra Archer made the early breakthrough by drawing the edge of the recalled Marcus Harris (8), whose opening partner David Warner lived a charmed life, particularly against the impressive Stuart Broad.

Play resumed again at 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT) and Broad eventually got his reward, Usman Khawaja (8) given out following England's review when his bat brushed the ball en route to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow's gloves.

The players were forced off once more due to further rain and only 3.1 overs had been bowled when proceedings were halted again, this time due to bad light.

Warner, who was unbeaten on 26 having been out for single figures in each of his previous four innings in the series, appeared only too happy to depart, though England's players were less impressed as he and Marnus Labuschagne (7 not out) walked off while the umpires checked the light.

The latest interruption meant tea was taken at 16:10 on a frustrating opening day.

England removed Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja cheaply in Australia's innings, but the first day of the third Ashes Test continued to be interrupted by showers at Headingley.

Both the toss - which England won - and the start of play were delayed by bad weather and the first ball was finally delivered 80 minutes after the scheduled start time.

Only four overs were possible before the rain returned, by which time Jofra Archer had dismissed recalled opener Harris, who edged behind on eight.

Play resumed at 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT) and Stuart Broad soon had Australia two down when a delivery down the leg side brushed the bat of Khawaja (8) before reaching wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.

Broad and Bairstow were both convinced of the edge and though umpire Chris Gaffaney was unmoved, England's review showed a clear nick to leave Australia 25-2.

Another 14 had been added by the time the latest round of rain arrived and, despite some initial hesitancy on the part of Joe Root and his team to leave the field, play was once again halted with David Warner (18 not out) and Marnus Labuschagne - yet to get off the mark - having seen Australia to 39-2.

Dimuth Karunaratne was on the brink of a fifty at the end of a weather-affected first day of the second Test between Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Captain Karunaratne scored a second-innings century as Sri Lanka won the first match in Galle by six wickets and he looked ready to continue that fine form on Thursday despite rain wreaking havoc in Colombo.

The opener was unbeaten on 49 with the hosts 85-2 when bad light stopped play after just 36.3 overs.

After a torrential downpour resulted in a delayed start, the hosts won the toss and elected to bat first.

Lahiru Thirimanne made two from 35 balls before sending William Somerville (1-20) to Kane Williamson at short cover, though Kusal Mendis injected some urgency and Sri Lanka reached tea at 71-1.

More rain prolonged the teams' absence from the field and Mendis edged Colin de Grandhomme (1-14) behind to BJ Watling on 32 shortly after their return.

Karunaratne was unable to add to his six fours before umpires called a halt to the action, with Angelo Mathews yet to get off the mark after facing 14 deliveries.

Recalled Australia opener Marcus Harris lasted only a dozen balls as Jofra Archer struck early in the third Test, but the rain returned at Headingley and forced the players off after four overs.

Showers initially postponed the toss and came back shortly after Joe Root had inserted Australia under gloomy skies in Leeds, meaning play did not start until 12:10 local time (11:10 GMT), a delay of 80 minutes.

Root's decision to try to take advantage of the day-one conditions looked wise when an out-of-sorts David Warner played and missed at a series of deliveries from his recent nemesis Stuart Broad, but it was Archer who claimed the first wicket, Harris nicking behind when on eight with the final ball of the fourth over.

Both Warner and the England players followed Harris back in, though, as the rain fell and the covers were brought on with Australia 12-1 as lunch was taken at 12:45 local time.

Harris had been restored to the XI for Cameron Bancroft in one of three changes made by Australia, with Steve Smith – missing following a bout of concussion – and Peter Siddle also replaced by Marnus Labuschagne and James Pattinson.

England, 1-0 down in the five-match series after Australia's win at Edgbaston was followed by a drawn Test at Lord's, were unchanged as opener Jason Roy was passed fit after suffering a blow to the helmet in the nets on Tuesday.

Australia opener Cameron Bancroft was dropped for Marcus Harris at Headingley while Jason Roy was declared fit for an unchanged England, who opted to field first in the third Ashes Test.

Tim Paine's team, 1-0 up in the five-match series after their victory at Edgbaston was followed by a drawn Test at Lord's, made three changes to their XI.

One was enforced as Steve Smith was ruled out on Tuesday following a bout of concussion, and Marnus Labuschagne, his replacement during the game at Lord's, came into the team from the start in Leeds.

The tourists also chose to replace opener Bancroft with Harris and bring in seamer James Pattinson – who featured at Edgbaston – for Peter Siddle.

England had concerns over Roy's availability after he suffered a blow to the helmet in the nets on Tuesday, but he was declared fine to feature following concussion tests.

The toss was put back by 40 minutes due to drizzle on a dull morning and though play was due to commence at 11:20 local time (10:20 GMT), further rain brought the covers back on and delayed the start.

Whatever happens at Headingley and beyond, Marnus Labuschagne will struggle to ever forget his first innings in Ashes cricket.

The Australia batsman made history when becoming the first concussion sub as a replacement for Steve Smith on the final day of the second Test against England at Lord's. After ducking his first delivery from Jofra Archer, the next one struck him flush in the grille – Labuschagne was down (albeit not for long) but, crucially, not out.

Rising to his feet so quickly a boxing referee would barely have started counting to 10, the 25-year-old recovered his senses, survived the oncoming barrage of short stuff and came out the other side with a half-century, a valiant knock in trying circumstances that helped preserve his side's slender 1-0 series lead.

It was not the first time Labuschagne had capitalised on an unexpected chance that came his way, though.

When Shaun Marsh was selected in Australia’s squad for the Cricket World Cup earlier this year, Glamorgan had to find a new overseas player in a hurry.

Mark Wallace, relatively new into his role as director of cricket at the Welsh county, followed up on a tip-off from an old club colleague Down Under to fill the void, taking a "bit of a punt" on Labuschagne, a player with an unspectacular first-class record but a hunger to improve.

"The link between myself and Marnus is that we have played for the same grade club in Brisbane, which is Redlands Tigers, albeit I played 15 years before he did," Wallace explained to Omnisport.

"Our paths never crossed, but when I took on the job [in February] I received a text message from a lad I had played with out there called Blair Copeland who is now a coach. He said, 'if you're looking for an overseas player, there is a lad who plays at the club called Marnus Labuschagne'.  

"I'd heard of Marnus because he had played for Australia by then, but I probably thought this was more like the sort of thing where he [Blair] was one of his mates, so I said thank you and got on with things.

"But when Shaun Marsh was picked for the World Cup, we suddenly needed an overseas player. I went back and had a look at this guy, did a bit of digging around, and the message we kept getting about him was that he was a good player but he was going to be an influence around the dressing room and just wanted to play cricket, wanted to get better at the game, and that was what we were after.

"We wanted a different style of overseas player, someone who was young and hungry. We went for him and it worked out pretty well."

Pretty well is an understatement.

Labuschagne amassed 1,114 runs in 10 first-class games for Glamorgan, hitting five centuries. The first of them arrived on his County Championship debut, Northamptonshire the opponents, while there was a match-saving 182 to deny Sussex down by the seaside at Hove and then hundreds in both innings against Worcestershire towards the end of his stint.

"We weren't surprised because he's a good player – we just didn't know he was that good," Wallace admitted. "We haven't genuinely got a bad word to say about him. He just wanted to talk cricket, be involved in cricket and get better.

"It was a little bit of a punt, but we wanted someone different and all the feedback had been how this was a young, influential guy. He was just desperate to improve and county cricket really suited him.

"He just loved playing – with most overseas [players] the thing that strikes them when they come over is the amount we play, whereas with Marnus he just thought that was brilliant. It gave him the opportunity to play all the time, to practice all the time.

"He got a hundred in his first game and never took his foot off the gas after that."

Labuschagne's county performances boosted his Test prospects, yet he still appeared set for a watching brief during the Ashes. That was until Smith was struck by an Archer bouncer, a blow on the neck that created a ripple effect that seems set to be felt by both sides for the remainder of the series.

It also created a sudden opening in the middle order. Smith's stand-in received an early and emphatic wake-up call yet refused to be counted out of the contest, aided by a slight technical tweak to his game that was honed while playing with Glamorgan.

"He did a few things that I think he had developed from being over here," revealed Wallace.

"Marnus clicked with our coach, Matt Maynard, early on and they worked on something where he would take a step down the wicket, as well as over to the off stump. The aim is to take lbw out [of the equation] and you saw him do it a few times to Chris Woakes.

"It was good to see, because you spot something guys have done with you working then on the bigger stage, which for our young guys means they are thinking, 'crikey, Marnus has been working on something here that has transferred into a higher level'. That's great.

"He's very good at solving problems, too. He's so into the game that he's always trying to learn. He's desperate to do well, although all international cricketers are like that. But he's up for the scrap, up for the fight."

After doing an admirable job as a stand-in last time out, the super sub gets the chance to start in the third Test.

Australia head coach Justin Langer said in the build-up to the game in Leeds that Smith has "unfillable shoes" – he has contributed 32 per cent of his team's runs in the first two Tests (and that is without even making it out to the middle on day five at Lord's) and boasts a mind-bending career average of 63.24 in the longest format.

Wallace acknowledges it is a nigh on impossible for Labuschagne to fill the crate-like space left at number four, but expects him to embrace the challenge: "To put him in the same bracket as Steve Smith is just unfair – he is still a young guy making his way in Test cricket.

"But he will have a chance – and all sport is about to take that chance when you get it. He will be up for it and can probably have a positive effect on the series.

"We'd like to see him do well, albeit from our perspective we want England to win. Marnus getting a hundred and England winning by an innings would be perfect."

Glamorgan are hopeful they get the chance to bring Labuschagne back at some stage in the future – so long as they can afford him.

"We would like him to be part of the club long term – hopefully the price hasn't gone up!" Wallace joked.

"I've been speaking to him since he has been away with Australia and he's still in contact, still wishing us good luck. The day the Australia squad was announced I actually spoke to him in the morning, when he was going to meet Justin Langer to find out if he was in or not, and he was not entirely sure.

"We had a Twenty20 game that night, and he said that if he was not in the squad, could he play that evening. I said yes, because we hadn't cancelled his registration yet, but that just showed how he has that nice, childlike enthusiasm just to play the game."

Labuschagne's enthusiasm for the game was evident at Lord's. So, too, was his determination to seize an opportunity that had unexpectedly come his way. As Glamorgan will testify, he's good at doing that.

West Indies will be without all-rounder Keemo Paul for the first Test against India, with Miguel Cummins called up as his replacement.

Paul has been ruled out with an injury to his left ankle and the 21-year-old will remain in Antigua to continue his rehabilitation.

Experienced Cummins, who made his Test debut in a series against India three years ago, taking a career-best 6-48 in the second innings of the second match, features in the 13-man squad in Paul's absence.

"With Keemo ruled out for this match, it’s good to have someone with Miguel's quality back in the squad, as he brings experience to the team," Windies interim head coach Floyd Reifer said.

"Watching him in the last A Team series against India A and the training sessions his lengths have improved. He's a very hard worker and a wicket-taker. I'm sure, if given the opportunity to play, he will make a valuable contribution in our bid to win this series."

The Windies have not won a Test series against India since 2002 and are winless in the past 21 Tests between the teams.

India head into the two-match series, which begins on Thursday, having won three Twenty20s and two ODIs throughout their tour so far.

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