South Africa captain Faf du Plessis is drawing inspiration from a chance meeting with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp ahead of the Test series with England.

Du Plessis was out to dinner with South Africa's Rugby World Cup-winning skipper Siya Kolisi - a Reds fan - when they met Klopp.

While Klopp readily recognised Kolisi, Du Plessis admitted he was less familiar to the German, although the Champions League-winning boss certainly made an impression.

"He said he watches cricket," said Du Plessis, whose side begin the first of four Tests on December 26.

"The Liverpool guys watched the Cricket World Cup and he knew about how well England did, so that's great.

"For someone to be that famous, he is a great guy, and that's what I believe real leadership is about.

"It's about connecting with people, having great relationships with people, so I became a massive fan.

"I am not a huge football fan, I don't support a lot but I do support him now."

Du Plessis pines for the kind of stability that Klopp enjoys at Anfield but is at least enjoying the benefits of a hastily assembled interim structure following an administrative crisis.

The likes of Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis have been enlisted to steady the ship and Du Plessis is delighted to have them on board.

"Why have these guys not been here for the last 10 years?" he said. 

"If you look around international cricket, other teams have got that. Think of Australia - Justin Langer, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting. We need that. We want that.

"There is a vision. The test team is still in an infant stage. The plan is to get back [to number one]. As a Test team we do need to mature."

Joe Root says the whole England squad are throwing their full support behind Ben Stokes after the "horrible" news his father has been hospitalised in a critical condition.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed Stokes' father Ged has been admitted to hospital with a serious illness in Johannesburg and the all-rounder will be at his bedside while his team-mates train at SuperSport Park on Tuesday.

England are preparing for a four-match Test series against the Proteas and captain Root was saddened by the news affecting his deputy.

"It is horrible to hear," Root said to BBC Sport.

"The ECB have put a statement out so as far as we are concerned we can't give any more information.

"We just want to throw all our support behind him and his family and just stress the importance of trying to respect their privacy at this time.

"But it is really sad news and we are all there for him."

Root confirmed he did not know if Stokes would be able to play the first Test, which starts on Thursday.

"No [idea] and it would be wrong to go into that now," the batsman added.

"The support, that he is there with his family, that comes first. We will have to wait and see but most importantly we are all there for Ben and the rest of his family."

Chris Woakes has been the latest England player to be struck down with illness and will, along with Stokes, miss training on Tuesday.

"He wasn't very well at all on Monday," explained Root. "These things happen unfortunately and we will try to manage as best we can."

Stuart Broad, Jack Leach and Jofra Archer missed England's warm-up games with illness and the team had already called up Craig Overton and Dom Bess as additional cover before the developments on Stokes and Woakes.

As things stand, James Anderson, Overton and Sam Curran are the only pace bowlers who are definitely available for the opener.

Defending Big Bash League champions Melbourne Renegades crashed to a third consecutive defeat to start the season following a crushing loss to Hobart Hurricanes.

The Renegades' horror start to their BBL title defence continued on Tuesday – beaten by seven wickets at Blundstone Arena in Hobart.

Melbourne lost 8-38 as they were bowled out for 147 before Hobart – led by D'Arcy Short and Ben McDermott – chased down the total with five balls to spare on Christmas Eve.

The Renegades slumped to 0-3 following the devastating defeat, while the Hurricanes improved to 2-1.

 

RENEGADES IN A HOLE AFTER COLLAPSE

With Aaron Finch at the crease, the Renegades were looking comfortable in their pursuit of win number one this season.

After Sam Harper was dismissed for a duck and Shaun Marsh scored 37, Renegades captain Finch hit 50 off 36 balls to have the titleholders 109-2.

Then it turned sour for the Renegades. Finch chipped a shot to mid-wicket, sparking a stunning collapse against the Hurricanes.

The Renegades lost their final seven wickets in 23 balls – James Faulkner (3-26 from 3.1 overs), Nathan Ellis (3-15 from three overs), Riley Meredith (3-26 from four overs) and Qais Ahmad (1-23 from four overs) enjoying the ball.

 

SHORT AND MCDERMOTT STEER HURRICANES

The Renegades' capitulation opened the door for the Hurricanes, and Short and McDermott took full advantage.

Short set the tone after opener Simon Milenko and Caleb Jewell departed in the same Tom Cooper (2-32) over, hitting seven boundaries and a six for a 45-ball 60 in Hobart.

While he was trapped lbw by Cameron Boyce (1-20 from four overs), captain McDermott (51 not out) and David Miller (25 not out) sealed the win and heaped further misery on the Renegades.

 

MILLER SHOWS HIS POWER

There are big sixes and then there are big sixes.

South African import Miller sent a Harry Gurney delivery out of the ground in the 17th over to cap a miserable day for the visiting Renegades.

Australia head coach Justin Langer insisted star opener David Warner will be "ready to go" for the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand in Melbourne.

Warner sent a scare through the Australia camp on Monday after he was struck on his left hand during a net session at the MCG.

The 33-year-old batsman – who posted scores of 43 and 19 in the 296-run rout of the Black Caps in Perth – returned to the nets later in the day, while he also featured on Tuesday morning.

Despite concerns, Langer declared Warner a certain starter for the second Test as Australia look to seal a series victory.

"He's fine," Langer told reporters on Tuesday. "There was a little concern for about two seconds and then he saw the doctor and he's hitting balls again.

"We know how well he's playing at the moment, we know how much all the boys love playing Test cricket and Boxing Day cricket … so he'll be ready to go."

"It's not unusual for Davey to do that," Langer said of Warner taking his left hand off the bat at times. "He's in really good nick, he's a very experienced player now, he knows how to prepare. As I said, I've got absolutely no worries that he'll be raring to go."

Langer, who also confirmed James Pattinson will replace injured quick Josh Hazlewood for his first Test on Australian soil since 2016, revealed Australia are pondering a selection shake-up.

The MCG has produced a lifeless pitch over the years, though a Sheffield Shield match earlier this month had to be abandoned due to a dangerous surface and unpredictable bounce.

If the pitch continues its theme, Langer said Australia could drop a batsman and field five frontline bowlers against New Zealand.

"The Australian cricket team doesn't usually go down that path of having an extra bowler," said Langer. "But if we're going to play on a wicket like we have in the last two years or so here at the MCG, we've certainly got to find a way to take 20 wickets.

"If we turn up on Boxing Day and it looks really flat, we've got the flexibility to be able to do it. In most circumstances ... we don't play an extra bowler because you don't need to do it.

Nicholas Pooran was always a talented batsman but fell off the wagon after a car crash left him unable to walk for six months.

His return to international cricket has revitalized a West Indies batting line-up accused of being altogether too inconsistent.

Pooran though, averaging 52 from his 19 games since his return to cricket, has helped to give his side the confidence that makes a dangerous side with the bat.

While that revival isn’t complete, Pooran is grateful that he has come this far and is thanking his skipper, Kieron Pollard, for making it possible.

“He’s been like a big brother to me, a father-figure. He’s been there since I returned to cricket. He gave me opportunity. I’m thankful for that,” said Pooran.

Pooran has already begun repaying Pollard the faith he put in him, scoring 29 not out off 23 balls, 75 off 47 balls and 89 off 64 balls in a recently concluded ODI series against India.

But it isn’t just off the field that Pollard has been there for Pooran, as batting with his father figure has helped him as well.

In the final ODI against India on Sunday, Pollard batted with the West Indies middle order to help them post a challenging 315-5, himself ending unbeaten on 74.

“We play with each other, with the same club, same franchise back home. So we had a good understanding of the wicket and the situation in the game and just executed our skills,” said Pooran, who scored 89 from 64 deliveries in a partnership that took the West Indies from 144-4 in the 32nd over to 279-5 in the 48th when he finally got out.

“We know how to complement each other. Polly was stronger to the spinners, so we allowed him to attack Kuldeep (Yadav) and I would try and play more shots to the pacers. It worked out,” said Pooran.

The middle-order batting has shown some improvement, but the ease with which India got to 316-6, doing so in the 49th over, winning their second series against the Windies at home this month, suggests there is still work to be done.

“Definitely we were on a team-building (mode). India are one of the strongest teams in the world. They proved that again today in the T20I and ODI series. At least we came here and we showed fight,” said Pooran.

Pooran, no stranger to adversity after fighting his way back to fitness after his accident, strongly believes the West Indies are on their way back to being the best team in the world.

“There are better things to come. We are taking it day-by-day and eventually we’ll get where we want to get,” he said.

Shai Hope is the most prolific One-Day International batsman to his first 3000 runs the West Indies has ever seen.

On Sunday, during a losing effort against India , Hope struck a single to get to 35 runs and with it, reached 3,000 runs in ODIs.

Sir Vivian Richards, long known as the most fearsome ODI batsman the West Indies has ever seen, took 69 innings to get to 3000 runs, while Lara, the greatest the region has produced and arguably the greatest of all time, took 79 innings to do so. Hope was playing his 67th innings on Sunday.

Gordon Greenidge, who formed part of the greatest opening ODI parternships in West Indies history with Desmond Haynes, achieved the milestone in 72 innings, while one of the greatest exponents of white ball cricket, Chris Gayle took 80 innings.

In fact, there has only ever been one batsman in world cricket to get to 3000 runs faster than has Hope, with South Africa’s Hashim Amla owning the record of the quickest to the milestone of all time, getting there in 57 innings.

Hope would go on to score 42, as the West Indies went on to post 315, a total India got to for the loss of six wickets in the 49th over.

On the way to 316-6, Rohit Sharma scored 63, KL Rahul, 77, and Virat Kohli, 85, to smother the efforts of Hope, Nicholas Pooran, 89, and Kieron Pollard, 74.

Hope had also scored 102 not out and 78 in the previous two games, taking his tally to four centuries this calendar year, along with seven half-centuries.

The West Indies lost a T20I series to India, 2-1, and suffered the same result in a three-match ODI series that ended Sunday.

India have included fit-again duo Jasprit Bumrah and Shikhar Dhawan in their squads for the upcoming limited-overs games against Sri Lanka and Australia.

Paceman Bumrah has not played for his country since the Test series against West Indies concluded early in September due to a stress fracture of the back.

However, the 26-year-old is set to make his return in the three-match Twenty20 series with Sri Lanka, which takes place early in January.

Bumrah – who was part of India's squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup - will also be involved when Australia are the visitors for three one-dayers later in the same month.

Dhawan also returns, the opening batsman available after overcoming a leg injury. However, Hardik Pandya is absent as he continues to recover from a back problem.

Rohit Sharma, meanwhile, is rested for the Sri Lanka series, along with fast bowler Mohammed Shami.

The first T20 takes place on January 5 in Guwahati, followed by games in Indore (January 7) and Pune (January 10).

As for the series with Australia, that begins in Mumbai on January 14. Virat Kohli's side will then be in 50-over action in Rajkot three days later, followed by the finale in Bangalore on January 19.

 

India squad for T20 series against Sri Lanka: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shivam Dube, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Washington Sundar.

India squad for ODI series against Australia: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami.

Chris Silverwood revealed England are mulling over sticking with an all-seam attack for the first Test against South Africa at Centurion.

England selected four seamers and all-rounder Ben Stokes for the second and final match of their series against New Zealand last time out.

The tourists have been affected by illness ahead of the opener against the Proteas, with Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Jack Leach among those struck down.

Head coach Silverwood says spinner Leach may not be selected regardless of his health, due to previous fixtures at SuperSport Park.

Asked if it is possible England could line up on Boxing Day without a frontline slow bowler, he replied: "Yeah, I think it is.

"Obviously in Hamilton we looked at all the stats, who took wickets at the ground, and it showed that spin didn't really play much part in the games, or certainly have much effect on the games.

"We look at the stats for this ground, it's the same thing, you're looking at wickets taken by seam, wickets taken by spin and the averages that go along with them, it suggests that seam is the way forward, and the thing that has most effect on the game here, so we're certainly looking at that."

Uncapped leg-spinner Matt Parkinson is another option for England, while Dom Bess was called up as cover for Leach.

Silverwood added: "We've got some good resources in the spin department, Leachy is coming back to fitness now, we've got Dominic Bess here as well, Parky who bowled nicely in Benoni [where England drew with South Africa A in a tour match].

"So we've got the resources but we're looking at it for what it is, what has most effect in this game. We're not definitely going down the road of all seam, but it's something we've got to discuss over the next few days.

"I''s not rocket science, every team has these stats. You look at what's effective on that ground and then you look at what you've got in your arsenal and try to put out the best side you can."

Jake Weatherald's electric 83 and a swift half-century from Alex Carey set the Adelaide Strikers on their way before Rashid Khan played a crucial role in an entertaining 15-run victory over the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League.

The Strikers made an impressive 198-4 from 18 overs after a rain delay led to a slightly shortened match, with Weatherald putting on 86 for the second wicket with Matt Short (34).

Carey whacked 55 off just 24 balls as the Strikers posted an imposing total at Adelaide Oval in the annual Indigenous celebration match on Monday.

The Scorchers made a flying start in reply, with Josh Inglis (50) and Liam Livingstone (69) putting on 124 for the first wicket.

But the brilliant Rashid (3-40) stopped the Scorchers in their tracks, dismissing both openers and quickly removing Ashton Turner (4) as the runs dried up for the visitors, who were 183-7 after their 18 overs.

The Strikers are consequently up and running for the campaign, while the Scorchers have lost two of their three matches.


WEATHER GRIM, WEATHERALD BRILLIANT

A rain shower early in the Strikers' innings caused a slight delay but it did little to dampen the spirits of Weatherald.

The opener cracked three sixes and 10 fours from 47 deliveries before being brilliantly run out by Jhye Richardson.

He may have fallen short of what would have been a deserved century but Carey dished out more punishment, adding a brisk 55 - including eight fours and a couple of sixes.

 

LIVINGSTONE, INGLIS MAKE STRIKERS SWEAT

Livingstone earned a maiden BBL fifty off just his 21st delivery with a mammoth strike over deep square leg in the eighth over and followed that up with another wallop for six.

He contributed seven sixes and five fours in a bulldozing knock, while Inglis was also flying with a half-century of his own.

The duo helped the Scorchers reach 124 for no loss, but then spinner Rashid had his say.

 

RASHID ROCKS SCORCHERS REPLY

It was not Rashid's best delivery by any means but Livingstone paid the price for an ill-advised front-front slog that resulted only in holing out to Phil Salt in the deep.

From the very next ball, the brilliant Rashid saw the back of Inglis to completely alter the momentum of the game.

Turner fared little better, edging behind off Rashid in the 11th over. From there, only three players added double-digit scores with Wes Agar (2-36) playing his part.

South Africa seamer Vernon Philander has announced he will retire from international cricket next month following his country's home Test series against England.

One of the leading bowlers in Test cricket since his debut in 2011, Philander has taken 216 wickets from 60 appearances in the five-day game, at a superb average of 22.16.

The 34-year-old, part of a Proteas team that reached number one in the Test rankings, has also claimed a further 45 scalps in the limited-overs formats, along with a total of 1,784 international runs.

"I will be retiring from international cricket at the conclusion of the Test series against England. I feel that it is the appropriate time to conclude what has been an amazing journey," said Philander in a statement released by Cricket South Africa (CSA).

"It has been a honour and privilege to have played alongside the very best in the game as well as being part of the best Test team for a number of years."

Philander received fulsome praise from CSA's director of cricket, Graeme Smith.

"Vernon has been an outstanding performer in the time that he has represented his country, especially in the Test format," said Smith, a former team-mate of the bowler.

"He has made a huge impact for the Proteas and has been at the frontline with the ball for most of his time in the set-up. He has given his best in every appearance and I think that how he has turned himself into an all-rounder has been particularly pleasing to watch.

"One of the many things that has stood out for me with Vern is his character. His determination and the way that he has always been up for a fight and a challenge has shown the heart of the man.

"He has really done himself and his family proud and I hope he can finish his final series for South Africa with the same character and flair that has become synonymous with him."

CSA's interim CEO, Jacques Faul, added: "Vernon has made a huge contribution to the success of the Proteas over the past years, particularly in Test cricket. The finest tribute one can pay is that he briefly overtook our acknowledged champion, Dale Steyn, as the number-one ranked bowler in Test cricket."

Azhar Ali offered heartfelt thanks to Sri Lanka following the successful return of Test cricket to Pakistan.

The hosts completed a 263-run win in the second Test in Karachi on Monday, 16-year-old seamer Naseem Shah finishing with five wickets as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 212.

However, while Pakistan could therefore celebrate a series victory, after a drawn first Test in Rawalpindi, the resumption of Test cricket in the country following a 10-year hiatus provided much greater satisfaction.

Prior to this two-match series, Tests had not been played in Pakistan since March 2009, when six policemen and two civilians were killed in an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.

A decade on, Sri Lanka's return was the source of much pride and happiness, as Pakistan captain Azhar noted in his post-match comments.

"Special thanks to Sri Lanka from the bottom of our hearts," said Azhar. "They have given us immense happiness by playing in Pakistan. It was an emotional moment returning home to play."

Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne hailed the security staff who have looked after his side during their tour.

"The security was really good," he said in a news conference. "We knew we were secure and we feel safe here.

"I just want to thank all of the security guards who gave us security, the Pakistan Cricket Board and all of the fans of Pakistan. They were really good.

"For me, I can say for now it's really safe here. All of the other countries, all the nations who play cricket, they can come and play cricket here. It's safe to play in Pakistan."

Naseem Shah became the second-youngest player in Test history to claim a five-for as Pakistan took just 16 balls on the fifth morning to wrap up a series-clinching win over Sri Lanka by the emphatic margin of 263 runs in Karachi.

After a drawn first Test in Rawalpindi, Pakistan took charge of the second match by amassing 555-3 declared in their second innings - each of their top four making hundreds - and they began the final day needing just three wickets to seal victory.

Thanks to Naseem and Yasir Shah, the hosts completed the task without conceding a run, centurion Oshada Fernando one of the three Sri Lankan batsmen to fall in successive overs as they were dismissed for 212.

Oshada (102) was caught at slip off Yasir, while Naseem had Lasith Embuldeniya caught behind for a golden duck before trapping Vishwa Fernando lbw to bring the contest to a swift end.

Naseem (5-31) therefore completed a five-wicket haul at the age of 16 years and 307 days. Only Nasim-ul-Ghani, who was four days younger, has returned a Test five-for at a younger age, for Pakistan against West Indies in 1958.

The wicket of Vishwa triggered jubilant scenes as Pakistan - playing a Test series on home soil for the first time in 10 years - revelled in a significant triumph.

Sri Lanka's previous tour of Pakistan ended in tragedy in 2009 when their team bus was attacked by gunmen in Lahore, with eight people killed and several players injured.

A decade on, Sri Lanka's return to Pakistan has been the source of great pride and happiness. While the home side were able to celebrate a series win on Monday, Pakistan's players and fans could take more joy from the simple fact they had been able to play Test cricket at home once again.

Former West Indies wicketkeeper Courtney Browne is in a hospital in Barbados with serious injuries suffered in a motor vehicle mishap in which a man died on Sunday morning.

Virat Kohli played a key innings as India signed off for 2019 with an ODI series triumph over West Indies - and then he rued the fact it was not a year of global conquest.

A four-wicket win in Cuttack on Sunday came on the back of 85 from captain Kohli after openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul weighed in with 63 and 77 to put the home side in control in their chase of 315-5.

Still, amid the celebrations, thoughts turned back to India's hopes of Cricket World Cup glory being shattered at the semi-final stage in England in July.

On that occasion, a wretched start in their reply to New Zealand's 239-8 at Old Trafford saw India's top three - Rahul, Sharma and Kohli - dismissed for one run each.

Kohli said: "2019 has been one of the best years for Indian cricket.

"Apart from the 30 minutes [against New Zealand] in the World Cup, it's been a great year. We'll keep chasing that ICC trophy, this group deserves it for the amount of hard work we have put in. We have a vision in place."

Speaking to reporters at a news conference following Sunday's match, Ravindra Jadeja expressed his satisfaction at getting India over the winning line to secure their 2-1 series success.

His unbeaten 39, paired with a guns-blazing unbeaten 17 from six balls by Shardul Thakur, shut the door on West Indies' hopes of clinging to victory.

Jadeja said: "It was a decider game today so when I went to bat I was just looking to play with Virat because the wicket was so good to bat on.

"Me and Virat were talking in the middle out there, about how the wicket was so good.

"He told me, 'Just continue trying to keep playing your shots, I'll try and finish the game', but unfortunately he got out and he told me to keep playing just normal cricket, don't try and do something silly."

The pep talk paid off as Jadeja received post-match praise from former captain Sourav Ganguly, who tweeted to say the 31-year-old's upturn in batting form was "so important" to India.

"I need to prove to myself I'm still capable of playing limited-overs cricket," Jadeja said. "So I don't need to prove to anybody else in the world, I need to prove to myself."

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard is taking a positive outlook on his team’s four-wicket loss to India in Cuttack on Sunday.

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