Faf du Plessis is approaching "a crossroad" in his career that could lead to him retiring from at least one format after the T20 World Cup. 

The South Africa captain will be 36 by the time of this year's tournament in Australia, which begins in October, and knows he may need to lighten the load.

Team-mate Vernon Philander, 34, is set to retire from international cricket after the ongoing four-Test series with England and that gave Du Plessis reason to reflect.

"I was the last one standing now with Vern [Vernon Philander] going from our generation," he said in a news conference.

"I said before that the T20 World Cup would be a crossroad in my career where I would see where I'm at.

"I think something will have to give from a format point of view. I don't know what this is yet.

"As a team probably if you look at the next year, Test cricket and T20 is probably our two main focus points. So possibly in the one-day game [we need to] start looking at guys who will get opportunities.

"I think it's important we do that more - get guys ready."

Du Plessis has played 62 Test matches, 143 ODIs and 44 T20 internationals ahead of the second five-day match with England, which starts on Friday.

Rory Burns will miss the rest of England's Test series against South Africa after sustaining an ankle injury during a football match in training.

Burns was hurt when he landed awkwardly during Thursday's session ahead of the Newlands Test and scans showed he has ligament damage in his left ankle.

In a statement confirming his injury, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said Burns "will return home for further assessment and treatment at the earliest convenience".

The opener made 93 runs across his two innings as England slipped to a 107-run loss at Centurion in the first Test.

England have been enduring a nightmare tour with 11 players struck down by illness, while Jofra Archer is a doubt to play in the second Test in Cape Town, which starts on Friday, due to an elbow injury.

Zak Crawley, who made his Test debut in the middle order on the losing tour of New Zealand at the end of 2019, appears likely to replace Burns as Dom Sibley's opening partner.

It is not the first time England have lost a player to an injury sustained playing football.

Jonny Bairstow - who is expected to make way for Ollie Pope at Newlands - hurt himself during such a game in 2018.

Despite having a torrid time of international cricket over the last year and a half, three women from the West Indies side have still been picked as part of this decade’s best XI, according to ESPN.

Stafanie Taylor, who scored the most One-Day International runs and is one of the three highest run-scorers in the World in T20 Internationals over the course of the decade, was a shoo-in, while all-rounding legend from the region, Deandra Dottin, also had no equal.

As a bowler, Anisa Mohammed has been the standout spinner this decade and so has also taken her place in the XI.

Taylor, according to ESPN, is joined at the top of the order by New Zealand’s Suzie Bates, while at number three, Australia’s Meg Lanning was a sure pick. At four in the batting line-up comes Indian great, Mithali Raj, who averaged 55.31 in ODIs this decade and 37.18 in T20Is.

England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor is set to walk at five in the team of the decade, while Australia’s Ellyse Perry and Dottin prop up the rest of the middle order.

The specialist bowlers in the side are made up of Shagnim Ismail, England veteran Anya Shrubsole, Mohammed and South Africa’s Dane van Niekerk.

This decade, Taylor scored 3993 runs at an average of 45.89, which included four centuries and 32 half-centuries. In T20Is, the 28-year-old West Indies captain managed 2639 runs at an average of 35.66 including 14 half-centuries.

Dottin’s all-round cricket has been impressive. She scored 2349 runs in ODIs this decade while taking 64 wickets. In T20Is the all-rounder was just as impressive, scoring 2175 runs while taking 58 wickets.

Mohammed has been the standout bowler this decade, taking an incredible 142 wickets in ODIs over the period. In 2011, for instance, the offspinner managed to remove 37 scalps from just 13 games. She has taken five or more wickets on three occasions since 2010.

In T20Is, where batters reign supreme, Mohammed was also brilliant, bagging 102 wickets with best figures of 5/12. She took five or more wickets twice in the period and had four for nine in 2010 and 2011.

Glenn McGrath believes Australia's bowlers are up there with the best attack they have ever had.

Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Nathan Lyon all made an impact when Australia beat New Zealand at Perth Stadium to seal the on-going three-Test series with a game to spare.

Pattinson got his chance after Josh Hazlewood limped out of the first Test with a hamstring injury, giving another demonstration of Australia's strength in depth. 

McGrath spearheaded a formidable Australia attack that included Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee and Shane Warne and he does not rate that unit as being any better than the current crop.

Speaking on the eve of the Pink Test at the SCG, which generates funds for the McGrath Foundation, the former seamer said: "They are right up there, without a doubt, their stats prove that.

"They are forming an attack that can compete with any era of Australian cricket.

"That spell on the day three [in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG] with Pat Cummins and James Pattinson, the way they bowled in tandem, was as good a fast bowling as you'll see anywhere in the world.

"To have Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood as well, four quality bowlers, throw in Nathan Lyon as well, it's as good a bowling attack as we've had.

"A lot people say New Zealand has been disappointing but I think a lot of that has been because of the way our bowlers have bowled.

"In Australian conditions they are tough to face, they will be tough to face anywhere in the world but especially at home."

New Zealand called up uncapped batsman Glenn Phillips on the eve of the final match of the series as cover for Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls, who have been laid low by illness.

Rory Burns is a doubt for England's second Test with South Africa after injuring his ankle while playing football.

The opener was England's top scorer in the 107-run first-Test loss at Centurion and his absence would represent a huge blow to the tourists, who have also been struck by illness in the camp.

Burns is set to undergo a scan but faces a race to be fit for the Cape Town clash, which starts on Friday.

Should he fail to prove his fitness, Kent's Zak Crawley is likely to be drafted in, while England could also be without paceman Jofra Archer.

"Rory burns has an injured left ankle sustained in the warm-up playing football. He has gone for a scan. We will update further in due course," an England statement read.

"Jofra Archer will not train today [Thursday] at Newlands, suffering with right elbow soreness. We are awaiting the results of his scan.

"He remains a doubt for the second Test."

The circumstances in which Burns suffered his setback will put the practice of having kickabouts under scrutiny once more, with Jonny Bairstow having injured himself during such a game in 2018.

Pieter Malan will make his South Africa debut in the second Test against England, while Temba Bavuma has been dropped from the squad and challenged to score a "weight of runs" to earn a recall.

Malan will open the batting with Dean Elgar at Newlands after Aiden Markram was ruled out of the rest of the four-match series with a broken finger.

That is the only change to a Proteas side that won the first Test at Centurion, where Bavuma missed out on a 40th appearance in the longest format.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis says his fellow batsman must pile on the runs to have any chance of forcing his way back into the team, with Rassie van der Dussen keeping his place.

Du Plessis said: "Temba is on board. Something we are trying to achieve as a batting unit is to raise our standards a little bit higher, push our performances from a runs point of view. He is on board with the process to try and get guys to score big runs.

"If you're not finding yourself starting now, it's about weight of runs. Temba was injured before the start of the series but it was a talking point even before the series - whose positions do we need to make sure there is more competition for?

"It's about finding guys that are knocking on the door all the time to push us to a level where we can take this batting line-up to win games of cricket consistently.

"Temba will be the first to say that his performance over the last while wasn't where it needed to be. Weight of runs would be the way back into the team, like it would for anyone."

Du Plessis says Van der Dussen earned another opportunity after making a half-century on his debut in the first Test.

"We feel it's the right thing to do to stick with Rassie," the skipper added ahead of the second Test, which starts on Friday.

"As a player, you feel like you get a bit confidence when you get an extended run - runs or no runs. Luckily he scored some runs in the first Test.

"A big part of international cricket is the mental aspect of belonging. Rassie has got a real composure to him and a presence when he bats. He ticks all the right boxes."

England will leave it late to make a decision on Jofra Archer's fitness, while Mark Wood and Jack Leach have been ruled out of the second Test against South Africa at Newlands.

Archer has been struggling with an elbow injury and the paceman is a doubt for the match in Cape Town, which starts on Friday.

Spinner Leach is not ready for a recall after being badly affected by the sickness bug that has swept through the camp and fast bowler Wood is still recovering from side and knee problems.

Captain Joe Root said when asked about Archer's availability: "It will be another late call.

"Not knowing exactly how Jofra is might change how we balance the side up.

"I think it's a recurring injury and he's had it before. He did pull up very sore [on Wednesday] and seemed to be in a little pain."

The Proteas lead the four-match series 1-0 after securing a 109-run victory at Centurion.

James Vince made a big impact on his return as the in-form Sydney Sixers denied Melbourne Renegades a first Big Bash League victory with a six-wicket win on Thursday.

A new year did not bring about a change of fortune for defending champions the Renegades, who paid the price for a lack of runs at Marvel Stadium.

Lloyd Pope (2-22) and Jackson Bird (2-24) excelled with the ball to restrict the Renegades to 153-6 after they were 69-1 in the eight over, Sam Harper top scoring with 45 off only 24 balls and Shaun Marsh making 40.

The Sixers followed up their dramatic Sydney Smash Super Over triumph by extending their winning run to three matches, Tom Curran hitting the winning run off the penultimate ball of the match.

Vince struck 41 from just 26 deliveries on his return from an elbow injury, while Dan Hughes (40) and Jordan Silk (36 not out) also made significant contributions as the Sixers moved up to second place despite the absence of Sean Abbott (side strain).

 

POPE PREYS ON RENEGADES FLAWS

The Renegades were going along nicely on 65-1 after seven overs when Pope came into the attack and the spinner put the squeeze on to frustrate the champions.

Pope removed Harris with a googly in his second over, which cost only four runs, and the flame-haired tweaker trapped Beau Webster (17) lbw in his final over to put the Renegades on the back foot.

Dan Christian (32no from 17) set about the expensive Curran, who went for 58 from his four overs, but Melbourne were well short of a daunting total.

 

PHILIPPE AND HUGHES GET SIXERS OFF TO FLYER

Josh Philippe made a statement by clattering the first ball of the run chase from Webster for six and had a stroke of luck when he was dropped by Christian.

The impressive Tom Andrews somehow cleaned up Philippe (33) with a first ball that should have been hammered into the crowd, but not before the wicketkeeper-batsman and Hughes had put on 70 for the first wicket.

Cameron Boyce and Andrews (2-22) gave the Renegades hope by dismissing Hughes and Moises Henriques respectively to leave the Sixers 80-3 in the 12th.

 

VINCE AND SILK DELIVER WITH DECISIVE STAND

The Sixers needed 54 from the last six overs after Boyce conceded only six runs off the 14th, but Vince and Silk chipped away at the target with a fourth-wicket stand of 57.

Vince launched a leg break from Boyce for six, but was bowled nine short of a half-century attempting to put the next ball in the same spot.

Silk passed 1,000 Big Bash runs and dispatched the otherwise-economical Kane Richardson over extra cover for six in the penultimate over, then struck the second delivery of the final over from Richard Gleeson over the rope, leaving Curran to hit the winning run with a ball to spare.

Glenn Phillips has been called up to the New Zealand squad for the final Test against Australia as doubts hang over the availability of Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls.

Captain Williamson and fellow batsman Nicholls have been laid low by viral infections ahead of the third Test at the SCG, which starts on Friday.

Uncapped Auckland Aces batsman Phillips has been flown out to Sydney as a precautionary measure. 

Williamson and Nicholls were unable to train on Thursday, but coach Gary Stead is hopeful they will recover in time to be included in the Black Caps side as they attempt to avoid a 3-0 whitewash.

"We've obviously got a few balls up in the air at the moment and we want to be on the safe side and have options," Stead said.

"Glenn has been in terrific form this season and has good versatility with where he can bat and the roles he can play.

"He's been around the Black Caps T20 team for the past couple of years so should feel comfortable in the environment.

"We're still hopeful Henry and Kane will pull through and we will give them every chance to prove their fitness.

"If one or both are ruled out then we will consider our options and, most importantly, how they balance the side for this final Test."

 

Melbourne Stars overcame a dramatic late collapse to beat Sydney Thunder by three wickets at the Showground to replace their hosts at the top of the Big Bash League.

The Stars appeared to be coasting to victory as Marcus Stoinis and Nick Larkin piled on 123 for the second wicket in reply to Thunder's 142-7.

But Larkin hooked the returning Chris Morris (2-24) to Daniel Sams at fine leg to depart for a well-made 65, before Stoinis (58) chipped to mid-on from the final ball of the 17th over.

In the next set of six, left-arm seamer Sams (3-25) had Glenn Maxwell caught behind when trying to steer the ball fine and bowled Ben Dunk with his next delivery.

Melbourne were 133-5, having lost 4-10 off nine balls and, although a Sams bouncer on leg stump being harshly called a wide was punished by Nathan Coulter-Nile crunching the extra delivery down the ground for four, there would be a further twist.

More miserly work from Morris took the game into the final over and Nathan McAndrew followed Sams in putting himself on a hat-trick – removing Coulter-Nile before pinning new man Clint Hinchcliffe lbw.

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who earlier took 1-33 from his allocation, held his nerve with the scores level and clipped the hat-trick ball through midwicket for the single required.

The Stars now have eight points at the summit, thanks to four wins and one defeat from their five matches, while the Thunder have seven points from six matches in third, having nudged below Adelaide Strikers on net run rate.


MAXWELL'S DOUBLE BLOW SETS UP STARS

Before that awful shot amid his side's nerve-jangled end to the match, captain Maxwell (2-17) helped to set up Melbourne's victory as his decision to open the bowling paid off.

The Thunder's average opening partnership this season heading into the clash was 40.4, but they found themselves 11-2 and with two of their best batsmen removed.

Off-spinner Maxwell bowled both Alex Hales (0) and Usman Khawaja (1) in the opening three overs and the Thunder were forced to play catch up.
 

RUTHLESS RAUF CONTINUES TO STAR

Haris Rauf (3-24) continued to take his chance for the Stars.

Back in the team, the paceman took his tally to 10 wickets this season while bowling 14 dot balls.

Rauf removed the competition's leading run-scorer this season, Callum Ferguson (19), and the dangerous Alex Ross, who top scored with 40.

LARKIN'S FIRST BBL FIFTY PROVES DECISIVE

The quality of Larkin's strokeplay, on a surface where most batsmen struggled for timing, should not be lost amid the chaotic finish to the match.

While Stoinis was more circumspect, the 29-year-old displayed some wonderful strokeplay during his 45-ball stay, which featured eight fours and a maximum and deservedly earned the man-of-the-match award.

Tom Latham hopes Kane Williamson can play for New Zealand in the third Test against Australia as the Black Caps' squad is hit by the flu.

Williamson missed training for the second straight day on Thursday on the eve of the Test starting in Sydney.

Henry Nicholls and Mitchell Santner are also suffering from illness in a blow to New Zealand's preparations for the final Test of the series at the SCG.

Latham, the New Zealand vice-captain, hopes star batsman and skipper Williamson can take his place.

"I think it'll take a lot [to keep Williamson out]," he told a news conference.

"He's obviously a great leader amongst this group and he's passionate about this group.

"I'm sure if there's any chance of him playing, even if it is a small chance, he'll certainly be playing."

Latham said he was unsure whether the ill New Zealand players would be available, but he is hopeful.

"Obviously it's up in the air at the moment, but a couple of boys are a little bit crook unfortunately," he said.

"But they're going to have today off as well as yesterday so fingers crossed that they'll be right to go tomorrow."

Tim Paine backed staff to make the right decisions amid concerns over poor air quality during Australia's third Test against New Zealand in Sydney.

Bushfires are raging across Australia, including in New South Wales, leading to concerns over the air quality ahead of the Test at the SCG.

Paine said he had discussed the issue ahead of the Test, which begins on Friday, amid worries over the players' health.

"Not at the moment I'm not [concerned], but again we're lucky that in the Australian setup we've got world-class doctors and people that are put in place to make those decisions," the Australia captain told a news conference.

"As a playing group we're just focusing on what we can control which is going out and playing and we'll be doing that until we're told otherwise.

"I've been given a sort of rough guide but basically when it gets smoky, we're coming off.

"Our doc I think is having a pretty big say in reading the levels of air quality and stuff like that so I think it's all set, we know the number. If it happens it happens and unfortunately that's life."

Australia, leading the three-Test series 2-0, are set to go in unchanged despite expectations the pitch in Sydney is set to be spin-friendly.

Paine said Australia would wait to make a decision, with leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson part of the squad, adding they could either drop a batsman or paceman if they wanted to play another spinner.

"We've got some guys in and around our squad that provide quite a bit of flexibility," he said.

"I think even with someone like James Pattinson can really lengthen our batting anyway.

"We're lucky that we can go either way, both have sort of been discussed a little bit, I think our preference would be to keep the winning combination together."

West Indies Women’s captain, Stafanie Taylor, has scored the most One-Day International runs over the last decade of her career.

According to the statistics, Taylor, who led the West Indies women to a historic T20 World Cup win, has interestingly, done better in the longer format of the game, even though her team has only managed a runner up finish on the World stage.

This decade, Taylor has scored 3993 runs at a healthy average of 45.89.

Those runs mean she finishes the decade ahead of the prolific Meg Lanning, the Australian scoring 3,693 runs at an average of 52.75.

Taylor also bested another prolific scorer in the women’s game today, New Zealand’s Suzie Bates, who scored 3,621 runs this decade at an average of 45.26.

Taylor, on her way to amassing the total scored, scored the third-highest total among women in an ODI, slamming 171 against Sri Lanka in the 2013 World Cup.

Also along the way, she scored four centuries with two of those coming in 2013.

The all-rounder also scored 32 half-centuries over the period, with 2019 her most productive, where she scored five of them.

Though Taylor has not scored a century since 2013, she has consistently come close, scoring 95, 98 not out, 85, 90, 90, and 94 in the year’s following.

Taylor, a Jamaican, has opened for West Indies Women since she was a teenager, and is known for her determined accumulation of runs. At just 19, she became the youngest woman to reach 1000 ODI runs.

Given the two T20 World Cups under the belt of the West Indies, it may be no surprise that the Caribbean side has dominated ESPN’s best XI in the format over the last decade.

ESPN had come up with a list of its best XI in Test, One-Day and T20 Internationals and while there were no West Indians in the two longer formats of the game, they may have made up for it in the shortest.

At the top of the order comes Chris Gayle, T20’s all-time leading run-scorer. Interestingly, the opening spots have been covered by the West Indies with Sunil Narine earning a pick for his innovative pinch-hitting at the top of the order.

India’s Virat Kohli comes at number three in the batting line-up, with South Africa’s AB de Villiers locking down number four.

At five, ESPN has gone with another Indian in veteran Mahendra Singh Doni before turning again to the Caribbean where West Indies white-ball captain Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell can decide who bats six and seven.

At number eight, the best in the world this decade, according to the writers at ESPN, comes Dwayne Bravo before the leg-spin option of Rashid Khan. Narine, is, of course, the other spinner in the side.

Sri Lankan great, Lasith Malinga makes the best team of the decade next, while Jasprith Bumrah finds his way into the side as the second seamer. The two are seen as the best death bowlers in the world because of their ability to bowl Yorkers.

Quinton de Kock does not believe Jofra Archer's possible absence from the second Test between South Africa and England will make a difference to the Proteas' preparations.

De Kock was South Africa's star performer with the bat in their win in the first Test, with his 95 in the first innings providing the hosts with a platform from which to build on after initially succumbing to 97-4.

England paceman Archer struggled to have an impact in South Africa's first innings, finishing with figures of 1-65, though the 24-year-old took 5-102 in his second spell with the ball.

However, there are doubts over whether Archer will be fit to participate in the second Test in Cape Town, as he was unable to bowl on Wednesday due to a sore right elbow, though the fast bowler joined in with fielding drills and did bat in the nets.

De Kock does not foresee a massive change in how South Africa will approach the match even if Archer is not fit, however.

"To be honest, I don't think it changes anything for me at least," De Kock told reporters at Newlands. 

"They'll bring in Mark Wood or something, he also bowls 145kmp/h, so it doesn't really change much.

"Maybe playing on this wicket, pace will be nice to face. We'll have to see what happens, but it doesn't change much for me at least."

South Africa endured a difficult year in 2019, after a disappointing performance at the World Cup and a 3-0 Test series defeat to India.

With their 107-run win at Centurion, however, De Kock says the Proteas' side is now full of confidence heading into the first Test of 2020.

"The guys are very focused at the moment," the wicketkeeper added.

"I'm not saying they weren't focused before, but I think, honestly, the confidence was down and then with this win now the confidence, I wouldn't say it's flying, but it's very high at the moment.

"We've got a great team environment now; some new guys, some very funny guys and some great characters. It's a good environment to be in at the moment. We just need to bring it on to the field also."

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