Quinton de Kock cited the importance of a fast start on day two as South Africa seek to gain a foothold in the first Test against Sri Lanka. 

The hosts were dismissed for 235 in Durban on Wednesday, with De Kock's knock of 80 providing some respite in an otherwise disappointing day for the Proteas.

Sri Lanka lost a wicket early in their reply, closing on 49-1 as bad light stopped play, and De Kock knows his side must make a statement of intent when play resumes on Thursday.

"We need to get off to a good start and try and find a way to strike early," he said.

"They have shown some good intent within their batsmen and will look to score quickly.

"We will have to figure out how we go about getting wickets."

Vishwa Fernando was particularly impressive with the ball for the tourists, taking 4-62, while Kasun Rajitha (3-68) provided excellent support.

But De Kock was not at all surprised by the quality of Sri Lanka's attack in the first meeting of a two-Test series. 

"Sri Lanka have always had a good pace attack, they have skill and their lines and lengths were tight as always," he added.

"Here, a bit more movement off the wicket really assists them."

Quinton de Kock's stubborn resistance provided some consolation for South Africa but Sri Lanka had the better of the opening day of the first Test.  

The hosts were all out for 235 after being put into bat in Durban, where De Kock's eye-catching 80 salvaged something approaching respectability after a poor start.  

Vishwa Fernando was in fine form as he took 4-62, while Kasun Rajitha (3-68) provided excellent support to help Sri Lanka establish a solid platform for success.  

They had reached 49-1 in reply when bad light intervened, with captain Dimuth Karunaratne (28 not out) and Oshada Fernando (17no) steadily building a partnership after Lahiru Thirimanne had departed for a 15-ball duck. 

The tourists won the toss and were quick off the mark to leave South Africa reeling as Dean Elgar was dismissed without scoring and Hashim Amla followed soon after.  

Amla had already enjoyed a reprieve after umpire Aleem Dar ruled Sri Lanka had taken too long to ask for a review following an lbw appeal that replays suggested would have succeeded.   

That would have left the Proteas on 0-2, although they were soon treading water after Aiden Markram's departure saw them slip to 17-3.   

The hosts enjoyed a brief rally as Temba Bavuma and Faf du Plessis put on a 72-run partnership, but Rajitha had the Proteas captain caught behind trying to flick to leg before lunch.   

Suranga Lakmal thought he had De Kock caught behind early in the afternoon, only for a review to spare the wicketkeeper-batsman, but Bavuma fell three runs short of his half-century in the most unfortunate circumstances.

Standing at the non-striker's end, Bavuma was run out after De Kock's drive deflected off Vishwa Fernando's boot and onto the stumps with the right-hander short of his ground.  

Rajitha accounted for Vernon Philander caught and bowled and Keshav Maharaj edged a Vishwa Fernando delivery behind as the home side limped to tea on 181-7. 

Sri Lanka were soon back on the offensive after the interval, Kagiso Rabada easily caught after misjudging a low full toss from the lively Vishwa Fernando.  

Lasith Embuldeniya clean bowled Dale Steyn (15) and De Kock was, perhaps fittingly, the last to go. 

Sri Lanka's reply suffered an early setback as opener Thirimanne failed to survive in the gloomy conditions, but Karunaratne and debutant Oshada Fernando will return on Thursday well set.

West Indies paceman Shannon Gabriel will miss the first four games of the one-day international series against England for comments made to Joe Root during the third Test in St Lucia.

Gabriel was charged by the ICC after an altercation with the England captain on the third day of a match the tourists won by 232 runs on Tuesday.

Root was picked up on the stump microphone saying to the Windies quick: "Don't use it as an insult. There's nothing wrong with being gay".

The skipper said after the close of play on Monday that Gabriel "might regret" his comments, but refused to state what the 30-year said to him.

Gabriel admitted breaching article 2.13 of the ICC Code of Conduct, which relates to "personal abuse of a player, player support personnel, umpire or match referee during an international match".

He will be unavailable for all but one of the ODIs against England after being hit with three demerit points, taking his total to eight in the space of two years.

Gabriel, who was banned one Test last year after reaching the threshold of four demerit points, was also fined 75 per cent of his match fee.

 

Winning the third Test and avoiding a whitewash against West Indies represented a "step forward" for England, according to captain Joe Root.

England were comfortably beaten by 381 runs in the first match of the series before a hapless display in Antigua saw the tourists go down by 10 wickets.

In St Lucia, a 125-run first-innings stand from Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes was followed by a stunning five-for from Mark Wood, before Root's century set the Windies a hefty target of 485 for a whitewash.

Roston Chase made a gritty hundred to keep their hopes alive, but he received minimal support as the hosts went down by 232 runs on Tuesday.

"It was important we played well this week. It should be a real confidence-booster going into an exciting summer for us," said Root.

"West Indies deserved to win the series, they outplayed us in the first two games, but it's a real step forward for this team to perform like we did this week.

"I thought we played some good cricket. In that first innings we managed to find a way to ride out some difficult moments in bowler-friendly conditions and then we got up to a good score. Then the bowlers got us on top and we went from there.

"We played better, that's important, we've got a fantastic squad, but over the next couple of years you'll see a huge amount of improvement."

Windies captain Jason Holder was suspended for the final match and had no doubt that, despite claiming a 2-1 series victory, the team can get better.

"It was disappointing the way we played in the last Test but there are still a few positives to write home about. Credit to the boys - although we lost this match we played a pretty good series. We still have a lot of improvements to make but lots of positive coming out of the series," said Holder.

"We have to keep improving in all three facets of the game - we've got to be clinical and be a lot more consistent than we have been in the past.

"Credit to our bowling unit, I think our bowlers have been outstanding and we just need our batters to come to the party more often than not.

"[The win is] important in a few contexts. It counts in the ICC rankings, counts for the morale of the side as well.

"We need to continue to build and improve as a side, not just rest on our laurels and think we've achieved something. We're still pretty low in the rankings and our goal is to be number one in the world, so there's definitely a lot to improve on and put right and a lot of positives we need to keep within in the team."

Roston Chase's gutsy century was not enough to stop West Indies falling to a 232-run defeat to England on day four of the third Test in St Lucia.

England added 36 runs to their overnight total to set the Windies a hefty target of 485, which the hosts never looked like reaching despite Chase making a brilliant unbeaten 102 off 191 deliveries.

Keemo Paul sustained a thigh injury on day three but hobbled out to the middle with Chase two short of a fifth Test century, but the match was over seven balls after he made it to three figures.

Paul was caught and bowled by Ben Stokes (2-30) as England picked up a consolation win - their first in Tests in the Caribbean since 2004 - for a 2-1 series defeat, the Windies bowled out for 252.

Shannon Gabriel, who was charged by the ICC with a breach of article 2.13 of its code of conduct after a sledging incident involving Joe Root on day three, was booed when he took the ball in the first session and Root sent the seamer's full toss straight to Shimron Hetmyer at midwicket in the sixth over of the day and immediately declared on 361-5.

James Anderson (3-27) got England off to a great start when he had John Campbell for a golden duck from just the third ball of the innings, but he owed a lot to Moeen Ali for a phenomenal one-handed catch in the gully.

Stokes managed to hold onto an outside edge from stand-in skipper Kraigg Brathwaite (8) off Anderson but Jos Buttler inexplicably put down Shai Hope in the slips to leave Stuart Broad (0-22) in disbelief.

A fine delivery from Anderson drew a nick from Darren Bravo (0) that flew straight to Root at first slip and, after appearing to gain confidence, Hope went for 14 by holing out to point off Mark Wood (1-52) as the Windies went to lunch at 35-4.

A 45-run partnership between Chase and Hetmyer stemmed the tide but the latter was run out when Jonny Bairstow sent the stumps flying from a brilliant Joe Denly throw.

Buttler nearly produced a sensational, one-handed diving catch at midwicket to remove Shane Dowrich (19), but Moeen (3-99) got the job done with a full delivery that Stokes snaffled at slip.

Denly let a powerful Kemar Roach drive burst through his fingers before tea and the all-rounder was put down on 19 and 20 by Rory Burns and Bairstow as England made hard work of moving towards victory.

Wood snaffled Roach (29) off Moeen before Chase overturned the on-field umpire's lbw decision with a successful review on 78, keeping the Windies' hopes alive.

Alzarri Joseph slammed a pair off sixes off Moeen en route to 34 off 30 balls but he picked out Anderson at mid-on in the same over, and it looked like Chase would be left stranded when Gabriel's (3) wild swing at Stokes ended in the gloves of Bairstow.

Paul put his thigh injury aside to enable Chase to seal his ton by sending Denly to the boundary, but Stokes ensured play did not enter the final day.

West Indies seamer Shannon Gabriel has been charged by the ICC with a breach of its code of conduct following a sledging incident involving England captain Joe Root.

Gabriel was involved in an on-field exchange with Root and Joe Denly on day three of the third Test in St Lucia, as the tourists built a mammoth lead.

The England captain refused to disclose the details of what was said after play on Monday but stated the Windies paceman, who was booed when he took the ball on day four, "might regret" his comments.

An ICC statement issued during play on day four read: "Shannon Gabriel has been charged with a breach article 2.13 of the ICC code of conduct.

"The charge, which was laid by match umpires, will now be dealt with by match referee Jeff Crowe. Until the proceedings have concluded, the ICC will not comment further."

Article 2.13 relates to "personal abuse of a player, player support personnel, umpire or match referee during an international match".

Root said on Monday: "It's Test cricket, he's an emotional guy trying to do everything he can to win a Test match.

"Sometimes people say things on the field that they might regret, but they should stay on the field.

"He's a good guy who plays hard cricket and is proud to be in the position he is. The battle was a good contest, he's had a wonderful series and he should be proud."

Windies interim head coach Richard Pybus said the incident would be looked into.

"Nothing has been reported to me," he said. "But if a comment was made, we'll review it. And, if it was untoward, we'll be addressing it."

Faf du Plessis wants to see South Africa force beleaguered Sri Lanka to "breaking point" early in the two-match Test series.

Struggling Sri Lanka will start the series in Durban on Wednesday without a win in seven Tests, losing all but one during that dismal run.

Captain Dinesh Chandimal was dropped following an emphatic 2-0 defeat to Australia, so Dimuth Karunaratne will skipper his country against the Proteas.

A new selection panel was appointed in November and Sri Lankan cricket has also been rocked by match-fixing allegations, all of which head coach Chandika Hathurusingha said have had an impact in the dressing room. 

South Africa captain Du Plessis says his side will show no mercy on the tourists as they eye a whitewash.

"It's important for us to keep them under pressure to make sure they don't start the series well." said the batsman.

"If we can do that, possibly their breaking point will be a little bit sooner than it would [usually] be because of all the stuff that's happening away from the game."

He added: "They have had a tough time in Australia and there have been a lot of things happening away from their team,

"It's not ideal for them but I will always respect the opposition we play against. Our preparation doesn't change."

England captain Joe Root feels West Indies paceman Shannon Gabriel "might regret" what he said during day three of the third Test.

England captain Joe Root led by example with an unbeaten century establishing a healthy lead over West Indies on day three of the third Test in St Lucia.

Root became the first England batsman to score a hundred in the series by posting 111 as the tourists built a 448-run advantage over the Windies at the Darren Sammy National Stadium on Monday.

The hosts started brilliantly with Keemo Paul removing Rory Burns (10) with the day's opening delivery, but he was forced off in the fourth over after sustaining a thigh injury in the field.

Keaton Jennings made a start before falling for 23 in bizarre fashion to leave serious question marks hanging over his future in the team ahead of the Ashes.

However, Root anchored England's innings by building a 107-run union with Jos Buttler (56) after Joe Denly (69) claimed his maiden Test fifty.

The skipper opted not to declare before the close, which he saw out alongside Ben Stokes (29 not out) with England at 325-4 and in a strong position to avoid a whitewash.

Burns and Jennings steered England through 10 overs on Sunday, but the former did not last a single ball more with a tame shot off Paul straight to Alzarri Joseph at square leg.

Paul was taken away on a stretcher after pulling up while chasing a cover drive from Denly and Shannon Gabriel (1-87) was left fuming when Shimron Hetmyer put the opener down on 12 at slip – although replays suggested the seamer had overstepped.

Joseph (1-63) followed Paul's lead by claiming a wicket with his opening delivery, though there was an element of luck in Jennings dragging onto leg stump via his thigh pad.

Denly brought up his fifty after lunch with the eighth of his 11 boundaries but his fine knock came to an end after a second wild cut in succession saw him edge Gabriel through to Shane Dowrich.

Buttler injected some urgency but soon settled and overturned a caught-behind decision from umpire Rod Tucker with a wise review before tea.

Root had his first fifty for eight innings off spinner Roston Chase (0-92) but Kemar Roach (1-31) made full use of the new ball by bowling Buttler with a pinpoint delivery.

The England captain punished a full toss from Joseph with a punch back down the ground to reach three figures and cap off a fine day for the tourists that puts a first win of the tour in their sights.

West Indies were dealt a blow in the opening session on day three of the third Test against England, as Keemo Paul was taken off on a stretcher with a thigh injury in St Lucia.

All-rounder Paul, who replaced suspended captain Jason Holder in the team, was chasing Joe Denly's cover drive in the fourth over of the day when he pulled up in pain.

The 20-year-old received attention behind the ropes before being carried around the boundary on a gurney.

A Windies statement read: "Keemo Paul has suffered a right quadricep strain and is unlikely to return to field before tea."

The Windies started the day trailing by 142 runs and Paul got them off to a brilliant start by removing Rory Burns with the opening delivery.

 

Paceman Pat Cummins won the Allan Border Medal for the first time on Monday.

The hostile quick claimed Test-best match figures of 10-62 in the recent series victory over Sri Lanka and has been a shining light in a tough time for Australian cricket.

Either banned duo Steve Smith or David Warner has been named Australia's best male player in each of the last four years, but Cummins was given the honour in their absence at an awards ceremony in Melbourne.

Spinner Nathan Lyon was named men's Test Player of the Year, while Marcus Stoinis landed the ODI gong and Glenn Maxwell the best male Twenty20 player.

Alyssa Healy picked up the Belinda Clark Award and was named female Player of the Year in all three formats.

Cummins was pinching himself after putting his injury woes behind him in such impressive fashion.

He said: "It's crazy. Mitchell Johnson, I was there when he won it a few years ago and I think of the summer he had.

"All the incredible batsmen who have got it before - it's a bit weird to be honest."

Ricky Ponting believes the job "control freak" Justin Langer has faced could not have been any tougher after taking over as Australia head coach in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal.

Langer was named as Darren Lehmann's successor last May, just over a month after Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were banned for their parts in a Newlands debacle which rocked Australian cricket.

Ponting is looking forward to helping ease his former team-mate's workload after being appointed as his assistant for the World Cup in England.

"I think it's been as hard on him as it possibly could be just because of the situation Australian cricket has found itself in with some senior players being out, a lot of changes happening internally," said the former Australia captain.

"Knowing what Justin is like as well, I'm not . . . well I will say it, he's a bit of a control freak. He wants to make sure that everything is exactly how he wants it to be and that's the way it should be as the head coach of the Australian cricket team.

"You should have everything lined up the way you want it. He's just come into the job at a really difficult time.

"That's what makes it even more exciting for me to get in and get my hands dirty and help him out as much as I possibly can. We are great mates. We know each other really well.

"We'll work really well together, I'm sure, if he can put up with me. But no doubt it's been tough, but I think I'll be able to take a bit of that workload away from him when I get involved as well."

England paceman Mark Wood described his five-wicket haul against West Indies as better than taking the Ashes-winning scalp in 2015.

Playing his first Test since May 2018, Wood took 5-41 in St Lucia on Sunday to put England in a strong position in the third Test.

It marked his first five-wicket haul in Tests as the Windies were bowled out for 154, England finishing the day with a 142-run lead.

Wood took the wicket that sealed the Ashes against Australia in 2015, but he felt day two at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium was even better.

"There have been dark days and plenty of self-doubt but I felt like I belonged," Wood told the BBC.

"I managed to take the Ashes-winning wicket but I think today trumped that.

"I have got to back it up now and that is a sign of a true fast bowler."

Wood believes his performance was proof he could deliver at Test level, as he features in the five-day format for the 13th time for England.

"There have been times where I wondered whether I would play for England in Test cricket again," he said.

"I am pleased I have shown people at least for one day that I can be a proper England cricketer."

Mark Wood shone on his international return with a first five-wicket Test haul as England removed West Indies for 154 before building up a 142-run lead at stumps.

With England having already lost the three-match series, Wood was recalled for his first Test appearance since May 2018 and made up for lost time with a devastating spell that included a pair of wickets in his first over.

Joe Root's team had earlier slumped to 277 all out - having started the day 231-4 - but Wood and Moeen Ali (4-36) tore through the Windies and earned England a 123-run first-innings lead.

Rory Burns and Keaton Jennings then saw England to the close with their 10 wickets intact as the tourists enjoyed a rare position of dominance on the second day.

Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes had both made half-centuries on Saturday but the former failed to add to his overnight 67 when bowled by Shannon Gabriel.

Stokes moved on to 79 - his best Test score since he was involved in an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in 2017 that resulted in a suspension - but when his mistimed hook off Kemar Roach was brilliantly taken by a diving Shane Dowrich, England unravelled.

They would add just 21 runs for the loss of their final five wickets, Roach accounting for Jonny Bairstow, Wood and James Anderson to finish with 4-48, while Moeen gave Alzarri Joseph his second wicket.

West Indies openers Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell had made 50 partnerships in three of their previous four innings in the series - with the other alliance unbroken at 17 in reaching a victory target - and once again they made a solid start.

Anderson eventually played a part in the first wicket, though as the fielder, flying around from cow corner after Brathwaite (12) had launched Moeen into the air.

Campbell (41) was pinned in front next ball and West Indies soon went from 57 without loss to 59-4, with Wood having an immediate impact.

His opening deliveries, some of which reached 90 miles per hour, troubled Shai Hope and so it was no surprise to see him slice to Burns at gully, the same fielder then hanging to another chance to send Roston Chase back for a golden duck.

Wood's extra pace was proving too much and he found Shimron Hetmyer's outside edge before tea, Root holding on at the second attempt at first slip.

Durham seamer Wood then had four wickets for the first time in a Test with his seventh ball of the third session, Darren Bravo picking out Root again in the cordon.

Keemo Paul (9) and Dowrich (38) managed to take the hosts into three figures, though the former would perish when stumped off Moeen.

Dowrich eventually fell lbw to Stuart Broad, who then took a brilliant one-handed catch from over his head after Joseph launched Moeen into the sky.

That left both Moeen and Wood on four wickets each, and it was the latter who would finish with five as he rattled Gabriel's stumps.

Burns (10) and Jennings (8) then negotiated  the final 10 overs of the day without much drama - though the former almost edged to first slip in the final over - to raise hopes of a consolation victory for England.

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