Ben Stokes has issued a statement apologising for his choice of language after becoming engaged in a verbal altercation with a fan during the fourth Test with South Africa.

The all-rounder was dismissed for two on the opening day at the Wanderers and was heard on a live broadcast aiming expletives at a spectator.

After Friday's play, Stokes – who claimed to have been "subjected to repeated abuse" – took to Twitter to say sorry for his "unprofessional" reaction.

"I wish to apologise for my language that was heard on the live broadcast today after my dismissal," he wrote. "I should not have reacted in that way.

"As I was leaving the playing area, I was subjected to repeated abuse from the crowd. I admit that my reaction was unprofessional and I sincerely apologise for the language I used, especially to the many young fans watching the live telecast around the world.

"Throughout the Tests so far, the support from both sets of fans (England and South Africa) has been brilliant. One incident will not ruin such a competitive series, which we are determined to win."

It remains to be seen if officials will take any action against Stokes, who was one of four batsmen dismissed as England closed with 192 runs on the board.

The tourists lead the four-match series 2-1.

England became the first team to score 500,000 Test runs on the first day of the fourth Test with South Africa, which saw the tourists' strong start curtailed by a final-session fightback from the Proteas.

Joe Root's men were dealt a blow before winning the toss with the news that paceman Jofra Archer would be unable to play at the Wanderers because of elbow soreness.

Having seen his side take command of the third Test in Port Elizabeth with a dominant first-innings batting display, Root elected to give his charges the same opportunity, and openers Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley laid an excellent foundation.

Crawley was in fluent form as he scored his first half-century for his country but England slumped to 157-4 after the first-wicket stand of 107 was broken. 

Root (25 not out) and Ollie Pope (22 not out) steadied the ship, the former seeing England to the half-a-million milestone as they reached 192-4 before bad light stopped play.

After falling six runs short of a fifty at St George's Park, Crawley made no mistake in Johannesburg in a stylish innings that featured 11 boundaries, combining with Sibley for England's first century opening stand since December 2016.

Crawley's maiden international 50 was brought up in more fortuitous fashion with a thick edge through point but Sibley, having successfully reviewed an lbw decision and been given a reprieve by a no-ball, was not so lucky.

A centurion in the second match in Cape Town, Sibley was strangled down the leg side on 44 as Beuran Hendricks claimed a wicket on his Test debut.

Vernon Philander then ensured he will end his final Test with a wicket as Crawley presented a simple catch to Rassie van der Dussen, who made another grab at slip to end a difficult 35-ball spell at the crease for Joe Denly (27).

South African hopes of an England collapse were given a significant boost when talisman Ben Stokes fell to Anrich Nortje for just two, the all-rounder's attempt at a drive seeing him send another straight to Van der Dussen.

Stokes was involved in a verbal altercation with a fan as he left the field but, while England will now have to wait to see if he faces any repercussions from that, in terms of the match their position was improved as Root and Pope provided stability.

They did so in confident fashion. Root surpassed 7,500 Test runs with a pull through midwicket for four and his single through the covers took England to the historic 500,000 mark.

The fading light saw the fifth-wicket partnership interrupted on 35 and, though England have plenty of batting to come, Root and Pope will know that stretching their stand well into day two will go a long way to sealing a 3-1 series victory.

Chris Woakes replaces Dom Bess in the only change to the England side after Jofra Archer was ruled out and Beuran Hendricks makes his South Africa Test debut in the final match of the series at the Wanderers.

Archer was pushing for a return in Johannesburg, but the paceman was troubled by his right elbow in the warm-up after the start was delayed due to rain on Friday.

The quick missed the tourists' victories at Newlands and St George's Park due to an elbow injury and will play no part as Joe Root's side, leading 2-1, attempt to complete a series win.

England have gone with an all-seam attack, Woakes making his first appearance of the series, Mark Wood retaining his place and spinner Bess missing out despite claiming a maiden five-wicket Test haul in Port Elizabeth.

Fast bowler Hendricks gets the nod to make his Test bow in the absence of the banned Kagiso Rabada, while batsman Temba Bavuma and Dwaine Pretorius replaces Zubayr Hamza and Keshav Maharaj respectively.

Root won the toss and elected to bat in Vernon Philander's final Test, with play due to start at 1.20pm local time. 

 

South Africa: Malan, Elgar, van der Dussen, du Plessis (captain), de Kock (wk) Bavuma, Pretorius, Philander, Nortje, Paterson, Hendricks.

England: Crawley, Sibley, Denly, Root (captain), Stokes, Pope, Buttler (wk), Curran, Woakes, Wood, Broad.

 

 

Faf du Plessis avoided questions over his South Africa future and urged his side to stay fully focused on winning the final Test against England.

South Africa are 2-1 down heading into the fourth and final contest in Johannesburg, with Du Plessis having already been replaced as ODI captain by Quinton de Kock ahead of the one-day and Twenty20 matches against 50-over world champions England.

Du Plessis has also hinted the match at the Wanderers could prove to be his last in red-ball cricket on home soil, revealing he may quit after facing West Indies in July and August.

However, Du Plessis did not entertain queries over his plans, instead focusing on the Proteas' chances of salvaging a draw from the series.

"I'd like to, for my own personal reasons, have my focus specifically on this Test match," Du Plessis told reporters.

"I know there has been a lot spoken about all the other things and too much noise away from Test cricket and the Test team. I would like to speak about what is in front of us.

"This is about this Test match for me. I have not changed communication to you guys in one instant.

"I've said the same thing but the question keeps coming up. I am still committed to playing for South Africa. That hasn't changed. It's normal business as usual."

Du Plessis does not believe South Africa can dedicate any more practice to improving technically, but rather asked his team to display a new mindset.

"When you are deep in the series already, the extra time in the nets is not going to make that much difference," Du Plessis said.

"The challenge is how mentally strong we are. There's not enough time to change techniques. The secret weapon lies in how strong we can be emotionally and mentally.

"If you are mentally off it, teams that are on top of you just keep running with that momentum. But we know England are not going to say, 'here you go guys here's five or six wickets in this next session, let's play now', we have to earn it."

Joe Root would rank a series win over South Africa as his greatest achievement as England Test captain and believes the "sky is the limit" for his young side.

England head into the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers - which starts on Friday - with a 2-1 lead, having already extended their unbeaten run in away Test series against the Proteas to four.

The tourists have been hit hard by both illness and injuries in South Africa, with James Anderson, Jack Leach and Rory Burns having all returned to England, while paceman Jofra Archer missed the last two Tests with an elbow issue.

Given the circumstances, Root says beating the Proteas in their own backyard would probably go down as his most satisfying accomplishment since taking over as skipper almost three years ago.

"It's been a tour that has thrown everything at us," Root told reporters. "But the whole squad, the players and the coaching staff, have worked tirelessly to make sure we stayed calm and as in control as we could.

"When we've had our opportunities to bounce back, we've really taken them. It's been really pleasing in many ways.

"We're a very young side at the start of something and we've seen some very promising performances. To win three Tests in a row would be a very big achievement for this group.

"A series win here probably would be my proudest achievement as captain, because of the different things we've had to manage throughout this tour.

"We've had injuries and senior players having to fly home and a lot of illness to deal with and we have adapted to very different conditions.

"For a young group of players that has been very pleasing and a sign we're doing the right things. If we can harness that and keep looking to improve then I do think the sky's the limit for this team.

"But we're very much at the start of something here and we're not perfect by any means. We have to keep that attitude and keep driving that forward for a long period of time if we want to get to number one in the world."

Mark Wood came into the side for the third Test and it remains to be seen if he will be able to play back-to-back matches with Archer pushing for a recall.

"It would be nice to see how Archer and Wood go together," Root said.

"It would be a relentless barrage of pace. It would be great to have that extra bit of pace and firepower, but ultimately we've got to hit the right areas as we have done in the last couple of games."

Suranga Lakmal's early final-day burst set Sri Lanka on their way to a 10-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the first Test at Harare Sports Club.

Zimbabwe resumed on 30 without loss on the last day of a slow-moving match, trailing by 127 after Sri Lanka racked up 515-5 declared.

The outstanding Lakmal (4-27) set the nerves jangling by taking three early wickets before Zimbabwe collapsed from 120-3 to 170 all out.

That left Sri Lanka requiring only 14 to win in the final hour and they needed just three overs to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series, captain Dimuth Karunaratne hitting the winning run.

The tourists had failed to make inroads in 17 overs after Karunaratne declared in the final session on day four, but Lakmal came steaming in to give them just the start they had hoped for on Thursday.

The paceman had Prince Masvaure (17) caught behind off the eighth ball of the day and removed Brian Mudzinganyama (16) in his next over before Craig Ervine (7) became his third victim, caught by Karunaratne at short leg.

Brendan Taylor (38) and captain Sean Williams put on 79 for the fourth wicket, seeing off 22 overs before the former became a pumped up Lakmal's fourth victim.

Zimbabwe were reeling on 152-6 at tea with Williams (39) and Sikandar Raza (17) gone and they folded in the final session, Lahiru Kumara coming to the fore by taking 3-32.

Karunaratne made 10 not out and Oshada Fernando was unbeaten on four when his skipper got Sri Lanka over the line.

 

 

Temba Bavuma will replace Zubayr Hamza in the South Africa side for the final Test against England at the Wanderers, which starts on Friday.

Bavuma has not played for the Proteas since a crushing defeat in the third Test against India in Ranchi last October.

The diminutive batsman was dropped from the squad after being omitted for the first Test against England, and he was challenged to go away and make first-class runs for the Lions.

Bavuma responded by making a career-best 180 against the Dolphins last week and will feature in Johannesburg at the expense of Hamza as South Africa strive to salvage a 2-2 series draw.

Rassie van der Dussen will move up the order to number three in the absence of Hamza, who has made only 39 across five innings since scoring 39 in the first innings of the first Test at Centurion.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis told reporters on Thursday: "I can tell you that Temba is back in the side.

"The rest, we are still waiting to see what the weather does tomorrow. We don't have 100 per cent clarity on that yet, but that is the one thing that is definite."

A player who will definitely not feature in the fourth Test is Kagiso Rabada. The paceman serves a one-match ban for the excessive celebration of Joe Root's wicket in the third Test that earned him a fourth demerit point.

Graeme Smith plans to have a "robust discussion" with Faf du Plessis on his future after the Test series against England.

Cricket South Africa on Tuesday announced Quinton de Kock had replaced Du Plessis as ODI captain ahead of the series against the world champions.

Du Plessis stated the fourth Test against England at the Wanderers, which starts on Friday, could be his last appearance in the longest format on home soil, revealing he may quit after facing West Indies in July and August.

The batsman had earlier outlined his desire to remain Proteas captain until the T20 World Cup in Australia in October, and Smith wants some clarity over Du Plessis' plans.

Interim South Africa director of cricket Smith said of the decision to appoint De Kock as ODI captain: "We see Faf playing a role as a player but from a leadership perspective, we felt the need to move on.

"Faf doesn't see himself being around in 2023. Leadership has been an issue of late in South African cricket and we have made the decision to give Quinny an opportunity.

"We feel tactically he is good, there are areas of his leadership that we all know we need to grow and develop but he is the right guy at this stage to take the one-day side forward."

The former Proteas skipper added: "With the World Cup around the corner, we need to go forward.

"At the moment Faf is in that position but I need to sit with him post this Test series. He has got a bit of time because he is being rested from the one-day series, so we will have some time to have a robust discussion on his future.

"He is the South African Test captain. The next Test match we play after this series will be in the Caribbean - there is an extensive amount of time. I need to understand how he sees his future in the game."

Angelo Mathews struck a brilliant maiden international double-century to give Sri Lanka a healthy lead on day four of the first Test against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club.

Mathews spent 10 hours at the crease to make an imperious unbeaten 200 with support from Dhananjaya de Silva and Niroshan Dickwella, who each made 63 in the tourists' 515-9 declared.

Sri Lanka will resume on the final day looking to make quick inroads with the ball after Zimbabwe reached stumps on 30 without loss, trailing by 127.

Mathews had waited since December 2018 to reach three figures in the longest format, but brought up his 10th Test century early on the penultimate day after Sri Lanka resumed on 295-4.

Dhananjaya had a sixth Test half-century when he went through for a single after being struck on the glove by a Donald Tiripano, but a fifth-wicket stand of 98 ended when he drove Victor Nyauchi (3-69) to Prince Masvaure at mid-on.

That was the only wicket to fall in the morning session and the Zimbabwe bowlers endured more frustration after lunch as Mathews, dropped by wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva on 108, and Dickwella increased the lead.

Dickwella was put down by Sean Ervine on 45 and struck only three boundaries in his 15th Test half-century before being trapped lbw by Sikandar Raza, halting a stand of 126.

Raza (3-62) saw the back of Suranga Lakmal and Lasith Embuldeniya in consecutive deliveries, but Mathews went on to become the first Sri Lankan man for five years to score a Test double-hundred.

Kasun Rajitha's dismissal prompted Dimuth Karunaratne to declare, but Sri Lanka were unable to end the day on a high note as Masvaure and Brian Mudzinganyama saw Zimbabwe through to the close unscathed.

England paceman Jofra Archer staked his claim for a recall for the final Test against South Africa with an impressive showing in the nets on Wednesday.

An elbow injury kept Archer out of victories at Newlands and St George's Park that have given the tourists a 2-1 lead with one match to play at the Wanderers.

The quick could come back into the side in Johannesburg on Friday after catching the eye in practice, while England are monitoring Mark Wood after he played his first Test for 11 months in Port Elizabeth.

England assistant coach Graham Thorpe told talkSPORT: "Jofra had good rhythm and bowled nice and quick today.

"That's where we want Jof to be. He looks good, but he will have to come in again tomorrow and back it up.

"The elbow problem has been a big issue for him. You can't force that, you have to wait for the player to be confident with it.

"Mark Wood hasn't played back-to-back Test matches for a while, but he bowled exceptionally well for us in Port Elizabeth. He bowled at high speeds of 90mph plus and gave us an X-factor. We'll have to see how he is and I'm sure Woody will be really honest with us.

"Historically, it's a pitch which has good carry and pace and generally starts softer then quickens up. It has that carry which bowlers, batters and spinners alike enjoy.

"It would be tough if [spinner Dom] Bess didn't play this Test. He has done himself no harm, though, in the way he has come into the set-up and the way he's bowled.

"He's progressed from the last time I saw him about six months ago and when you perform it gives you confidence. So we won't rush straight into a decision, it'll be nice to have all those options on the table."

Half-centuries from Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis put Sri Lanka on top in the first Test and Zimbabwe debutant Kevin Kasuza suffered a nasty blow on the head on day three at Harare Sports Club.

Kusal made 80 and Mathews was unbeaten on 92 when the tourists closed on 295-4 in reply to Zimbabwe's 358 all out on Tuesday, trailing by only 63 runs.

Victor Nyauchi (2-38) claimed his first two international wickets but it was not such a memorable day for another man making his Zimbabwe bow.

Kasuza was struck on the helmet by a pull from Kusal and sustained soft tissue injury to the skull, but the batsman's concussion test showed up as negative and a CT scan ruled out any internal damage.

Dimuth Karunaratne (37) was caught by Ainsley Ndlovu at midwicket off Nyauchi and that was the only wicket to fall in a morning session that ended with Sri Lanka 124-2, with Kasuza absent after being struck in the last over before lunch.

Kusal brought up an 11th Test half-century before dispatching Sikandar Raza for three consecutive fours as Mathews dug in at the other end.

Nyauchi had Kusal caught by Brendan Taylor at first slip to end a third-wicket stand of 92 and Sri Lanka were 227-4 when Dinesh Chandimal was caught and bowled by Sean Williams.

They were unable to dislodge Mathews, though, and the former captain was rewarded for his patience with a sixth Test half-century after slapping Ndlovu over midwicket for six before launching Williams over the rope.

Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva (42 not out) had put on 68 for the sixth wicket to put Sri Lanka in a promising position when stumps were drawn.

Kagiso Rabada accepts he must learn to keep his emotions in check after the South Africa seamer was banned for the fourth and final Test against England.

The paceman was sanctioned for his exuberant celebration after claiming the wicket of England skipper Joe Root on day one of the third contest at St George's Park.

Rabada was found guilty of a level one breach of the ICC code of conduct, earning a fourth demerit point in a two-year period and triggering a one-match ban.

With South Africa 2-1 down and needing a big improvement to avoid a series defeat, Rabada's absence represents a huge blow to the struggling Proteas.

The 24-year-old is unsure whether his actions were worthy of punishment but acknowledged it is a side of his game he must work on.

"It's something that I didn't expect. Whether it was the right thing to ban me, or the wrong thing, the reality is that I am banned," he said.

"Obviously it hurts, but it gives me a chance to work on my game and to have a bit of a rest.

"It can't keep happening, because I'm letting the team down and I'm letting myself down. It just can't keep happening and that's why it hurts so much."

South Africa were resoundingly beaten by an innings and 53 runs in Port Elizabeth and Rabada concedes the team are struggling to find solutions.

"It's difficult to find solutions when you are not doing so well in your career, and us as a team have not been doing so well," he added.

"You can get into a situation where you overthink trying to find solutions, so it's quite tough to say what to do. I think the most important thing would be to stay positive and play positively.

"It's difficult when you're not playing well and everyone will have an opinion on you. We've played cricket long enough to know how to get out of a slump, but it can be difficult."

Zimbabwe ended day two of the first Test with Sri Lanka in a strong position despite a five-wicket haul for Lasith Embuldeniya at Harare Sports Club.

The hosts, playing their first home Test since 2017, finished day one on 189-2 thanks to half centuries from Prince Masvaure, Kevin Kasuza and Craig Ervine.

Ervine was eventually dismissed for 85 on Monday when Suranga Lakmal (3-53) got one to nip back in and clatter the stumps. 

Embuldeniya led the way for Sri Lanka with 5-114 as they continued to make inroads, but Sikandar Raza (41) and Donald Tiripano (41 not out) helped Zimbabwe to 358 all out.

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne (12 not out) and Oshada Fernando made a promising start in reply for the tourists, but Tiripano's fine day continued when he cleaned up the latter for 21.

Tiripano extracted the same movement Lakmal exploited by flattening Fernando's off stump, Kusal Mendis (6 not out) saw Sri Lanka through to 42-1 - trailing by 316 runs - along with his skipper when bad light brought play to a close.

Day three is set to start at 09:54 local time following that earlier finish.

Faf du Plessis insists he still plans to continue as South Africa captain until at least the T20 World Cup but admits the fourth Test against England could be his last on home soil.

The Proteas trail England 2-1 with one match remaining in Johannesburg, having been thrashed by an innings and 53 runs at St George's Park on Monday.

It has been rumoured skipper Du Plessis could end his Test career after the four-match series, despite previously describing the limited-overs tournament in Australia later this year as "a crossroad in my career".

The 35-year-old said in his post-match presentation he had "heard the rumours of a possible retirement" but "nothing has changed".

However, speaking at a news conference, he recognised the Wanderers could see his final home appearance in the longest format, as he will not consider quitting mid-series.

"I have committed until the T20 World Cup," Du Plessis said. "There isn't a lot of Test cricket left this year.

"One massive Test where we need everyone to be as strong as possible. Afterwards, there is quite a big gap.

"I have said before, there is an opportunity to release some of the captaincy. Two Test matches in the West Indies [in July], and the rest of the year is white-ball stuff.

"Most probably, after that, Test cricket will be something that won't see me. That's a decision I will make then. For me now, it's to be as strong as possible."

Dismissing the idea of quitting before the fourth Test, he said: "I don't think that's what's leadership is about.

"I felt that the team has needed a leader to stand up and guide the ship through a difficult time. If you leave the team when they need you most, that's not my style.

"I have been under pressure a few times and I've played my best innings under pressure. I can't leave the team when they need me most.

"We are in a transition but I can't do it forever. It has been chipping away at your character. For now, that's what we need. I think it will make it worse if I say I'm out."

South Africa will be without suspended strike bowler Kagiso Rabada when they attempt to draw the series, but Du Plessis is also concerned by his batting unit.

The Proteas never threatened to push England in the third Test, their biggest partnership of the second innings by far a 10th-wicket stand of 99 between Keshav Maharaj (71) and Dane Paterson (39 not out).

"[Missing Rabada] is a big frustration, disappointment," Du Plessis said. "He's our best bowler, and it's not the first time that we've lost him in what will be a crucial game for us.

"We're already a little bit light on experience in our Test unit. He will be a huge loss - that's just the cards that we've been dealt. We've got to make the best of it. There's no using excuses for that.

"We have to regroup, have some firm chats over the next few days about where we need to get better, and make sure we move forward. We've shown signs of that.

"With the bowling, our controlling of the rate has been something we've been good at. Kesh [Maharaj] had a five-for, which showed this wicket was made for the spinners. There were a lot of wickets taken by the spinners.

"The same thing is happening with the batting unit - we're not putting on big totals. If you look at England, it's just one or two guys that put their hands up and score big hundreds.

"One big partnership gives you that momentum that you need, so we need to be better."

Joe Root believes England are in a great place after their youngsters continued to shine in a crushing third-Test victory over South Africa at St George’s Park.

After being delayed by a last-wicket partnership of 99 from Keshav Maharaj and Dane Paterson, England got over the line to comprehensively win by an innings and 53 runs in Port Elizabeth on Monday.

That put the tourists 2-1 up in the four-match series, having successfully followed up their dramatic victory at Newlands.

Ollie Pope made his first Test century, top scoring with 135 not out in England's 499-9 declared, before Dom Bess (5-51) claimed a maiden five-wicket Test haul as the Proteas were dismissed for 209 in their first innings.

Dom Sibley had starred with a century in Cape Town and Root is thrilled to see his young players thrive.

"We've had four guys under 25 making hundreds or taking five-fors and that's a great place to be," England captain Root said after taking 4-87 in South Africa's second innings.

"We want to keep continuing to provide an environment where that becomes possible and keep giving those guys that confidence to make sure when they get that opportunity they can fulfil it as they have done here.

"That's what it's about, it's not going to be the same guys every week. It's about collectively doing your role within the team. We've got a very good squad of players, there's a couple of very good players who aren't in this XI, and that's a really exciting place to be as well.

"When guys are really stepping up to the plate, especially at a young age, and showing they can perform at this level, that’s going to fill everyone with a huge amount of confidence. 

"Ollie batted beautifully with Stokesy [Ben Stokes], a brilliant partnership which really put us in a commanding position and the way Bessy bowled was fantastic that first innings. 

"From that point on we always felt we were in control of things. We go into a massive game next week feeling we are in a really nice spot."

The last Test of the series begins in Johannesburg on Friday and Root acknowledged England must continue to react to changing conditions.

He added: "We've adapted quickly so far. We learned our lessons very quickly from Centurion and made sure we figured out a method that was going to be successful at Cape Town and stuck to it really well. Similarly here. 

"It'll be exactly the same in Joburg. It'll be very different, different challenges for both batters and bowlers. 

"We must make sure we are very disciplined in how we set up and approach the conditions."

Page 1 of 59
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.