West Indies batsman, Shai Hope, believes it will be crucial for the top order to meet the challenge of carrying on from starts to post ample totals, if the team is to have success on the upcoming tour of England.

The inconsistency of the batting unit has been a sore point for the Caribbean team for the past several years, particularly the top order, who are often accused of not spending enough time at the crease.

As expected, the performance of the top order has been crucial to the outcome of matches against England in recent outings.  In the last two series, the top order has averaged somewhere around 158, in wins for the West Indies, and around 66 in losses.

“We’re missing some key players right now, so it’s very important for us as top-order batters to get those runs on the board, see off the new ball and make it easier for batters coming down the line,” Hope told members of the media.

“As soon as we get those starts, we have to capitalise and go big for the side,” he added.

“It’s the first series back for us, it’s the perfect opportunity for us to showcase our skills and win the series.”

Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite were two of the standout performers for the regional team on their last tour of England.  In the only Test match that the team won, Hope, scored 147 and 118 while opening batsman Brathwaite made 134 and 95.

Rory McIlroy and LeBron James produced memorable moments on June 19, a date that means much to England cricket fans but one their Australian counterparts will always want to forget.

McIlroy was magnificent as he won the 2011 U.S. Open, five years before James and the Cleveland Cavaliers completed a memorable triumph over the Golden State Warriors.

As for the Ashes rivals, England's batsmen were undoubtedly on top in 2018 as they put Australia's poor bowlers to the sword in Nottingham.

Take a look back at some of the memorable moments that have happened on this day through the years.

 

2011: Major breakthrough for McIlroy

Just over two months after enduring a last-round meltdown that ended his hopes of Masters glory at Augusta, McIlroy secured his first major - and in some style, too.

The Congressional course was no match for the Northern Irishman, who left the field fighting it out for second place - Jason Day would eventually finish a distant runner-up - and had the statisticians trawling through the records.

McIlroy's eight-shot triumph was the biggest margin of victory in the tournament's history, while his final score of 16 under was a record for strokes under par (a feat matched by Brooks Koepka in 2017). 

2016: Cavs stun Warriors to reign at last

Having returned for a second spell with Cleveland, the team that drafted him back in 2003, James finally steered the Cavs to glory in the NBA Finals.

The Golden State Warriors appeared on course to retain their title when they led the best-of-seven series 3-1. LeBron, however, had other ideas, inspiring his team to rally from the brink of defeat to claim the city's first professional sports title in 52 years.

His triple-double was influential in deciding the outcome of Game 7, though his most notable play was 'The Block' on Andre Iguodala late in proceedings. Yet it was Kyrie Irving who made the key shot with just under a minute remaining, sinking a three-pointer that helped clinch a 93-89 triumph.

2018: Australia suffer as England run up the score

Going, going gone. England's one-day team made history in the third match of the series against Australia, smashing their way to a world record total in the 50-over format.

Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales both made centuries as the hosts amassed 481-6 at Trent Bridge. Captain Eoin Morgan weighed in with a rapid 67, helping England ease past their previous highest score of 444-3, made against Pakistan just under two years earlier at the same venue.

Australia could only muster 237 all out in reply to suffer their heaviest ever loss in ODI cricket in terms of runs (242 runs, to be precise). They would end up being swept in the series too, going down 5-0.

Legendary West Indian umpire has admitted watching iconic batsman Brian Lara was always somewhat of a guilty pleasure and that behind the stumps was the best place to be when the batsman was on the go.

The 74-year-old official stood in 128 Test matches and 181 One Day Internationals (ODI) in a career that spanned 20 years.  While admitting an affinity for the destructive power of Viv Richards, the Jamaican-born umpire admits there was something otherworldly about Lara.

“Viv Richards, the Master Blaster, I rate him very highly on my list because he destroyed every type of bowling…then there is Brian Lara who I think is the best thing the eyes can behold when he is on the go.  He was poetry in motion.  He did things that others couldn’t do,” Bucknor told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

"Once he was on the go then Lara is the batsman that I enjoyed umpiring.  In other words, I didn’t want to be a spectator when Lara is batting, I wanted to be in the middle to enjoy the cricket there.  As someone who has played the game you must enjoy the game out there,” he added.

“Umpires enjoy the game. In your heart, you cheer. You clap in your heart to see a good shot.  You clap in your heart to see a good delivery.  You enjoy that but you cannot show it on your face, in your eyes or anywhere.”  

 

West Indies pace bowler Shannon Gabriel insists there is no malice between himself and England captain Joe Root, after a heated exchange between the duo led to a four-match suspension when the teams met in the Caribbean last year.

During the series, Root was picked up on the stump mics responding to an unheard comment from Gabriel. "Don't use it as an insult," he said. "There's nothing wrong with being gay."

Gabriel was charged the next day for an alleged homophobic remark and did not contest the charges.  The footage received widespread attention.  The player was charged with a Level Two offence under article 2.13 of the ICC's Code of Conduct, covering "personal abuse".

Having recently recovered from injury, Gabriel could be in line to face up with Root again when the teams compete in a three-Test series next month.  The bowler has downplayed the incident and has insisted he has long moved past it.

"To be honest that was in the past," Gabriel said. "I don't really think about it too much. Whatever happened or whatever was said, I don't really want to harp on about that, I'm just looking to the future now. I've just come here to play good cricket if selected, and do my best for West Indies cricket,” he added.

"I just think the way they dealt with it was blown way out of proportion," he added. "The story that was told was not entirely true, but I just want to move on and forget that."  

Two-time World Cup-winning captain Darren Sammy, Johnson Charles and West Indies U19 Captain Kimani Melius have all been confirmed for the Dream11 St Lucia Blast, a T10 tournament set to bowl off at the Darren Sammy Cricket Grounds in St Lucia next week Tuesday, June 23.

Justin Langer has compared telling Australia batting coach Graeme Hick he was being made redundant to facing Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh without a box or helmet.

Hick was among 40 members of staff to be laid off by Cricket Australia on Wednesday in cost-cutting measures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Former England batsman Hick had been on the coaching staff since 2016.

Australia head coach likened giving Hick the bad news to not being fully protected with former West Indies paceman Ambrose and Walsh charging in.

"Having to tell Graeme Hick yesterday morning was like facing Ambrose and Walsh without a helmet and a box on," Langer said.

"He's become a really good mate, his work ethic is second to none, his experience as a cricket person and his integrity, you couldn't meet a nicer person.

"We're going to have to lead a smaller staff but we'll get the job done and we'll be ready when cricket resumes.

"[The players] have been supported brilliantly for a long time and there's no reason they won't be able to be supported equally as well."

Langer says Australia are preparing to return to the field in September, but he stated it is too early to commit to a tour of England.

"I'm not sure when the soonest is. There's obviously complexities to all these things," the former opening batsman added.

"Same with England. I'd imagine it's really important for English cricket that the Australian cricket team goes there if we can. But it's not as simple as that.

"With isolation periods and preparation then when we come back [and] when the ICC make the decision in July about the World Cup.

"Then if the IPL is going on, there's so many moving parts at the moment. What I know is we'll focus on being ready for early September."

Tiger Woods did not only win the 2000 U.S. Open on June 18, he did so having obliterated the rest of the field.

Two decades ago, no one could get near to Woods and his record-breaking performance at Pebble Beach.

Mike Catt got much closer to Jonah Lomu five years earlier, not that he was able to stop him, while Eoin Morgan was delivering his own dominant performance on June 18, 2019.

Here we take a look at three major sporting events to have occurred on June 18 in previous years.

 

1995 - Lomu steamrollers England

Lomu delivered perhaps the finest individual performance at a Rugby World Cup match when starring for New Zealand against England in the 1995 semi-final.

The wing scored four tries as the All Blacks won 45-29 against an England side that simply could not contain the All Blacks' number 11.

His first score was the best, as Lomu collected a ball that bounced behind him, held off two England players and then dismissively ploughed over Catt when off-balance before dotting down.

In another incredible demonstration of speed, Lomu crossed for the fourth time when side-stepping Catt to leave the England back grasping at air.

 

2000 - Woods goes wire-to-wire at Pebble Beach

Stating Woods was the wire-to-wire winner at the 2000 U.S. Open only begins to explain his dominance given his eventual major record 15-stroke advantage.

Woods arrived at the 100th U.S. Open as a two-time major champion and a third looked assured even before the weekend as he had a six-shot lead after 36 holes.

Only playing against himself by the Sunday, Woods parred the opening nine holes before reeling off four birdies in five holes en route to a final-round 67. It was the first of four majors in a row that Woods would win - which became known as the 'Tiger Slam'.

 

2019 - Aerial Eoin dismantles Afghanistan attack

Prior to hosting the World Cup on home soil in 2019, England players had mused on the possibility of becoming the first team in ODI history to score 500 runs.

It did not quite happen, but the reason for such optimism was evident when they took Afghanistan's attack apart in making 397-6 in a group-stage game at Old Trafford.

Several records did fall as captain Morgan made the most sixes in an ODI (17), England accrued the most maximums in an ODI (25) while poor Rashid Khan went for 0-110 off his nine overs.

Morgan, who would end up lifting the trophy later that tournament, finished with a frankly ridiculous 148 from 71 balls before England claimed a 150-run success.

West Indies opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite insists he is focused on the task at hand and not recent criticism or past successes as the team prepares for its upcoming tour of England.

The 27-year-old Brathwaite was a standout player when the regional team played in England three years ago.  The opener scored 40 in the first Test, before scoring 134 and 95 in the second, forming part of a crucial partnership with Shai Hopes as the West Indies leveled the series.

The player has not been in the best of form since then.  The top batsman averaged just 16 from his last six Tests, to see his overall average drop to 33.  During the recent first-class championship, he was averaging a mere 25 after the seventh round of matches before knocks of 48 and 84 not out against Guyana Jaguars in the eighth round, boosted his numbers.  It has led some to question his inclusion in the squad.  The player, however, insisted he would not focus on either those negatives or dwell on his strong showing in England the last time around.

“I look forward to any series against England but what I’m really focusing on is obviously doing my job on the team and built that foundation, that’s all I’m focusing on,” Brathwaite told members of the media on Wednesday.

“There’s no pressure.  You can’t always do well.  I know my role and it just about going out there and focus on each ball.  The batting hasn’t been going well the last few innings but I’m up for challenge,” he added

“Looking back, you obviously see things that you did well (2017) but that is history.  I have an important job to do here and now and I’m raring to go.”

 

 

Kraigg Brathwaite has not had a good time at the crease lately. In 2019, a score of 49 against the visiting English team in Antigua was his highest score for the year in what was a disastrous run as the West Indies Test opener.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani does not believe it is realistic to expect the Twenty20 World Cup to be staged this year.

The competition in Australia is due to start on October 18, but it appears it may be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings said it would be "unrealistic" and "very, very difficult" for the World Cup to go ahead as scheduled.

Mani is also struggling to see how it would be possible for the event to take place this year.

He said: "In my opinion I think [the World Cup] will probably be deferred for a year. The ICC [International Cricket Council] has time because ICC events were supposed to happen in 2020, 2021 and 2023.

"The gap in the middle can be filled and this will be deferred. That is where the talk is headed towards. What event will happen first and where, those talks are happening.

"It is a big risk that God forbid, in the middle of a big tournament, if a player gets an infection, the panic from that will be too much so we can't take that risk."

He added: "The biggest challenge in Australia - although Australia and New Zealand they have controlled Covid-19 - their governments are very cautious.

"If it is played this year they will likely insist it happens in a bio-bubble. Like with the Pakistan team in England, teams come, stay in a hotel, with no crowds.

"This is okay for one or two teams but when 12-16 teams play in a T20 tournament, it becomes an impossible thing. I don't think it is feasible today that there is any ICC event in 2020."

Mani expects a decision to be made within four weeks.

He said: "Cricket boards are one stakeholder. Another stakeholder is the broadcaster - Star is the broadcaster, they will see their position, what is better for them.

"Other than full members, associates also get money from ICC events so discussions are on with as to what their priorities are.

"But you'll see that in the next three-four weeks a decision will be taken on this. There is a conference call next week. We've had four-five con calls on this in the last month.

"Obviously a decision will have to be made about where the first event will be. Right now it was to be Australia, then India and then a gap of one year and then India for the World Cup.

"Now we have to see whether it will be Australia first, or India, to see who will host in 2022."

England all-rounder Moeen Ali is back in the Test fold after being named in a 30-man training squad for next month's series against West Indies, which features eight players who are uncapped in the longest format.

Moeen took a break from Tests after being dropped during last year's Ashes series but is set to be involved in a three-day practice game from July 1, after which point the squad for the first Test at the Ageas Bowl seven days later will be chosen.

The expanded group will convene at the Southampton venue for training from June 23.

Essex batsman Dan Lawrence, Gloucestershire wicketkeeper-batsman James Bracey, Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson, Somerset paceman Jamie Overton and Surrey off-spinner Amar Virdi are all included having not represented England at senior level in any format.

Somerset all-rounder Lewis Gregory, Lancashire leg-spinner Matt Parkinson and his fast bowling county colleague Saqib Mahmood have limited-overs caps.

All the established members of Joe Root's Test side are present, with seamers James Anderson, Mark Wood and Jofra Archer all recovered from injury complaints, along with opener Rory Burns.

To assist with operating with a larger group in bio-secure conditions, head coach Chris Silverwood will be joined by an expanded backroom team.

Assistant head coach Graham Thorpe is to be joined by Kent head coach Matthew Walker in overseeing the batsmen, with Lancashire boss Glen Chapple to work alongside Silverwood as bowling coach.

Ex-England wicketkeeper Chris Read will take care of the glovesmen, with the ECB's national lead fielding coach Carl Hopkinson completing the coaching staff.

Assistant coach Paul Collingwood will take charge of England's ODI matches against Ireland later in the season, subject to those matches being confirmed.

Cricket Australia (CA) has announced annual budget cuts of $40million Australian dollars while confirming it has made 40 redundancies due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body revealed it was making 14 per cent of its workforce redundant and Australia A tours would not take place this season as part of its cost-cutting measures.

CA has already released a packed home schedule for the international teams, while it also expects top-flight domestic cricket to be unaffected having announced the Big Bash League will run in its entirety.

"We recognise that this is a difficult time for Cricket Australia employees, particularly for those staff members affected by these redundancies and their families," CA chairman Earl Eddings said in a statement.

"However, our responsibility is clear: to navigate a path for cricket through this period of uncertainty and disruption to ensure we come out the other side sustainable in the short term and prosperous in the long term.

"Throughout COVID-19, the need to work closely with the cricket community and to move quickly as circumstances have changed has never been more important.

"With increasing clarity about the impact of COVID-19, we have managed the financial impact on our organisation, our people, our partners and players."

Eddings has also already said it appears "unrealistic" for the T20 World Cup to take place in Australia later this year as planned because of the COVID-19 crisis.

June 17, 2010 was the date Kobe Bryant got his fifth and final NBA ring.

The Los Angeles Lakers icon, who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year, helped his franchise beat the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals.

Two years ago Brooks Koepka became a back-to-back champion at the U.S. Open while in 1999 Australia and South Africa played one of the most thrilling Cricket World Cup contests ever.

We take a look at major sporting events that have happened on June 17 in previous years.

 

1999 - Australia edge past Proteas in dramatic semi

Until England's incredible Super Over win over New Zealand in last year's World Cup final, the 1999 semi-final between Australia and South Africa was perhaps the greatest ODI ever.

Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald managed to restrict Australia to 213 and though Shane Warne (4-29) kept his team in the match, South Africa entered the final over nine down but needing nine more to reach the final.

Successive fours from Lance Klusener (31 not out) tied the scores but, with the Proteas needing only one run from their final four deliveries, a mix-up between Klusener and Donald resulted in the latter being run out.

The game finished as a tie but Australia went through to the final because they had a superior run rate in the Super Six stage, with South Africa left to reflect on some all-too-familiar World Cup heartache.

 

2010 - Kobe leads Lakers past Celtics

Boston, who had beaten Los Angeles in the 2008 Finals, were 3-2 up after Game 5 but knew the series would be closed out in the City of Angels.

The Lakers, who were the defending champions, forced a Game 7 and came out on top 83-79 to clinch the franchise's 16th - and to date most recent - championship.

Bryant was voted Finals MVP for the second time in his career and scored a game-high 23 points in the decider.

 

2018 - Koepka wins U.S. Open again

Twelve months after he won by four strokes to claim his first major, Koepka proved to be unstoppable once more at the U.S. Open.

The American began the day in a four-way tie for the lead and his two-under-par 68 on Sunday was enough to earn him a one-stroke success over Tommy Fleetwood at Shinnecock Hills.

Koepka became just the third man since World War II - after Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange - to successfully defend the U.S. Open title.

West Indies middle-order batsman Shai Hope insists players must be willing to put up their hands and be counted in order to be successful on the upcoming tour of England.

With the team missing two of its most explosive batsmen in Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo, runs could be hard to come by against a dangerous England bowling attack.  On his last visit to England, Hope certainly did stand up for the Windies team.  In the second Test, his two centuries proved crucial in a five-wicket win that saw the regional team level the series before going on to lose 2-1.

Although admitting the team will be missing the duo, Hope insisted the big match-winning performances needed were simply about the players' available accepting the challenge on any given day.

“It just happened to be my day at Headingley but it can be anyone else’s day on any given day.  The key is just to make sure that whenever you get an opportunity in the middle you grasp it and do whatever you can to put in those performances for the team," Hope told members of the media.

“It’s a case where the performances will matter.  Yes, we are going to miss those guys, they play a big role on the team.  But it’s more performances that we miss rather than players, they could be here and it just doesn’t go their way, that’s how cricket goes sometimes.  You always just need someone to put their hands up, I always stress that.  It’s just key for us that we as batters put those runs on the board.”

The West Indies will defend the Wisden Trophy against England in three Test matches, beginning next month at the Rose Bowl Cricket Ground.

 

The West Indies team will be sporting new eye-catching training and playing kits during the Sandals Tour of England 2020 as part of Cricket West Indies’(CWI) new three-year partnership with Castore, CWI’s official team kit and merchandise partner.

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