Big-hitting West Indies stars Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard were both named as part of the ICC T20I Team of the Decade.

While the majority of his exploits in the game’s shortest format have occurred in the league format, Gayle has also made his presence felt on the international stage.  The towering left-hander played a crucial role in the West Indies winning two T20 world titles, first in 2012 and then again in 2016.

In addition, Gayle is fifth on the all-time list for the most T20I sixes with 105 registered so far.  India's Rohit Sharma is at the top of the pile with 127.  The player is fourth on the list of highest scores, with 117 off 57 balls, and is one of only nine players to score more than one century in T20I cricket.

Pollard, the West Indies T20 captain, was part of the successful World Cup-winning team in 2012.  He has scored a total of 1226 runs and has blasted 78 sixes with a highest score of 75 unbeaten.  Gayle and Pollard were the only West Indian men named to an ICC team of the decade

 

ICC T20 team of the decade

Rohit Sharma, Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, MS Dhoni (c), Kieron Pollard, Rashid Khan, Jasprit Bumrah, and Lasith Malinga.

Windward Islands Volcanoes batsman, Tyrone Theophile, has reportedly been airlifted to neighboring Martinique from Dominica where he will continue to receive treatment in the aftermath of a serious motor vehicle accident.

According to reports, Theophile suffered a fractured skull and spent the last few days being treated at the Intensive Care Unit of the Princess Margaret Hospital after being involved in a collision on Christmas Day.  The player was listed in stable condition before being airlifted to Martinique.

Reports indicate that Theophile was involved in a motorcycle accident in the vicinity of the Roseau Post Office in the capital city Roseau.

The opening batsman has captained the Volcanoes for a few seasons at the regional level and played a total of 68 first-class matches.  He has scored 3,055 runs at an average of 25.88.  He has also taken 18 wickets at 34 runs apiece with his off-spin.  Theophile has been one of the island’s best cricketers for a number of seasons.  He was a part of the team that won the regional Super50 title in 2017, the fourth time the islands were claiming the title.

 

Virat Kohli congratulated Ajinkya Rahane after the stand-in India skipper scored an unbeaten century on day two of the Boxing Day Test with Australia in Melbourne.

Rahane was afforded two lives en route to an unbeaten 104 for India, who reached 277-5 and a lead of 82 before stumps was called prematurely due to rain on Sunday.

It was Rahane's 12th Test ton and eighth away from home, his latest hundred coming from 195 balls as the tourists took control of the second Test.

The 32-year-old is also just the second Indian batsman to score a century on his first match as captain in Australia, joining Kohli in achieving the feat.

And Kohli, who has flown back home on paternity leave, took to social media to hail his team-mate's impressive display at the MCG.

"Another great day for us," he posted on Twitter. "Proper test cricket at its best. Absolutely top knock from Jinks @ajinkyarahane88."

Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja (40 not out) put on an unbeaten stand of 104 runs for the sixth wicket to frustrate Australia, who dropped four catches on the second day.

Indian opener Shubman Gill believes the patient batting of Rahane and Jadeja could prove decisive in the Test.

"I think it was a really valuable knock [from Jadeja]. He went into bat when we were 170-something for five," Gill told ANI. 

"It's very easy for us to loosen up and let opposition back in the game. So, the partnership between Ajinkya Rahane and Jadeja was really important for us.

"The way Rahane played was so patient. This knock was all about patience. 

"When you are playing such a high-quality bowling attack sometimes you go in that shell and you are not able to score runs. It was a magnificent knock to watch"

New Zealand are in a strong position following day two of the opening Test after Kane Williamson's century guided the hosts to an imposing first-innings total against Pakistan.

Williamson chalked up his 23rd Test hundred, the Black Caps captain's 129 leading New Zealand to 431 all out at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Sunday.

In response, Pakistan lost an early wicket – opener Shan Masood (10) dismissed by Kyle Jamieson (1-5) – before reaching 30-1 at stumps.

Abid Ali (19 not out) and nightwatchman Mohammad Abbas (0 not out) will return to the crease, with Pakistan still trailing by 401 runs.

New Zealand resumed on 222-3 on the second day of the first contest – Williamson making his way back out to the middle unbeaten on 94.

It was only a matter of time before Williamson raised his bat to celebrate back-to-back Test tons, having reached triple figures against West Indies, after Henry Nicholls posted a half-century from 108 deliveries.

A pair of wickets fell prior to lunch, Nicholls (56) and Williamson, as the pair's 133-run stand was eventually snapped – Naseem Shah (1-96) broke the partnership with the first ball after drinks and Williamson followed four deliveries later after edging Yasir Shah (3-113) to Haris Sohail.

New Zealand were 281-5 when Williamson departed, but BJ Watling guided the Black Caps past the 400-run mark as he recorded his fifty prior to the tea break.

Watling reached 73 in the final session before becoming Shaheen Afridi's fourth victim (4-109), while Jamieson (32), Mitchell Santner and Neil Wagner (both 19) made contributions as Tim Southee (0) fell cheaply.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management  (ODPM) hurriedly withdrew a previous advisory, which stated that the Russell’s T20 Restaurant and Sports Bar franchise, owned by Windies T20 star Andre Russell, had been ordered closed for breaching regulations.

On Wednesday the government body had issued a release stating that both the restaurants Old Harbour and newly opened Kingston location would be closed for breaching COVID-19 regulations.

 Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie, however, then claimed that the both establishments were operating in contravention to other regulations.  The ODPM has since claimed that the release had been prepared but was sent out in error.  

There is yet to be any update in relation to the claims of other permit violations later referred to by the minister.

Russell, one of the region’s biggest T20 stars, opened the Old Harbour franchise in 2017 before adding the Kingston location earlier this month.

Two restaurant sports bar locations owned by Windies T20 star Andre Russell have been ordered to close immediately for operating in contravention of the Disaster Risk Management Act and not having the proper licensing in place.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie confirmed that both the St Catherine and 12 Dunrobin Avenue locations of Russell's T20 Restaurant and Sports Bar were issued with orders to immediately close on Wednesday.

Night clubs across the island were ordered closed in March, in a bid to arrest the spread of the Covid-19 virus.  According to McKenzie, however, some of the locations across the island have been operating as restaurants in an apparent bid to circumvent the regulations.  In addition to that, however, McKenzie also claimed some of the establishments were not licensed to operate in the manner in which they were.

“There are two locations that we have decided to take actions against, immediate actions.  They are facilities that are owned by a prominent sports individual,” Mckenzie told Nationwide Radio.

“I’m talking about Russell’s T20, the one on Dunrobin and the one in Old Harbour.  The KSMEC and the St Catherine Municipal have never received an application for an amusement license or permit for the operations of these facilities."

Russell opened the Old Harbour branch of the restaurant in 2017, the Kingston location was opened earlier this month.

Justin Langer has challenged Australia to show they can become a "great" side when they face wounded India in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

India were humiliatingly bowled out for a pitiful 36 in the first Test at Adelaide Oval, where Australia coasted to an eight-wicket victory.

That was the tourists' lowest total in the longest format and the seventh-worst score of all time in Test cricket.

India will be without their captain and best batsman Virat Kohli for the remainder of the four-match series after he returned home for the birth of his first child.

Paceman Mohammed Shami will also play no part in the rest of the series due to a fractured arm, which is another huge blow to India's hopes of reaching the ICC World Test Championship final.

Australia are expected to be unchanged and head coach Langer wants to see them make another statement in such a big event on the sporting calendar, which will be the 100th Test between the two countries.

Langer said: "We were in for a real arm wrestle of a Test match [in Adelaide]. So it was amazing how things turned around. We know how good a team India is, we know we've got to keep improving.

"If we're going to become a great team we have to get better at winning after we win and people didn't quite understand that, but really good teams keep winning and winning, particularly when they're playing good cricket.

"So it's an area we've addressed, we'll have to start well Boxing Day morning and then be consistent, because we know India will fight back as we saw in the first two days of the Test match in Adelaide."

SELECTION POSERS FOR INDIA 

India were always going to make at least one change for the second Test in the absence of Kohli but there may well be several alterations to the side.

KL Rahul could get the nod, while Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini will be hoping to make their Test debut with Shami unavailable.

Prithvi Shaw's place at the top of the order is also under scrutiny after he made just four in his two brief visits to the crease in the opening Test.

Shubman Gill is pushing for selection as India look to avoid a fourth consecutive Test defeat away from home at a famous venue where they won in the longest format two years ago.

 

MORE OF THE SAME FOR AUSTRALIA

Australia are unsurprisingly set to go with the same line-up that embarrassed India to take a 1-0 lead.

Josh Hazlewood took incredible figures of 5-8 and Pat Cummins claimed 4-21 in an astonishing second-innings capitulation from the tourists.

Joe Burns made a much-needed unbeaten half-century as Australia wrapped up the victory and the opener could do with another significant contribution with the bat.

Langer said when asked about selection: "I'd be a pretty courageous man to change the XI for this Test match after the last one.

"At this stage, unless something happens over the next few days – and things can happen in the world we live in – we'll go in with the same XI, I'd say."

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Australia will be in the hunt for back-to-back Test wins against India for the first time since December 2014.

- India have won their last four Tests on the bounce without Kohli in the side, including an eight-wicket win against Australia in March 2017.

- Steve Smith needs just 69 runs to become the fifth Australian man to reach 1,500 Test runs against India; his batting average of 79.5 from 22 innings is the highest of any Australian to have more than six knocks against them.

- Three of Shaw's last six Test dismissals have seen him bowled, with all of those dismissals coming against pace bowling.

- Nathan Lyon needs just nine more wickets to reach 400 in Test cricket; only Shane Warne (708) and Glenn McGrath (563) have taken more for Australia in the men's game.

Joshua Da Silva said he is humbled by the praise heaped upon him by West Indies great, Sir Vivian Richards.

Da Silva, 22, one of the shining lights for what was otherwise a disastrous tour of New Zealand earlier this month. He made a composed 57 in the second innings on his Test debut after being called up to replace injured wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich.

His performance already has tongues wagging across the Caribbean about the Trinidadian taking over from his Barbadian colleague behind the stumps for the West Indies.

However, while Sir Vivian, who has scored 8540 runs from 121 Test matches, did not opine on whether Da Silva was ready to be the West Indies number-one wicketkeeper-batsman, he definitely likes what he sees. He expressed his opinions to the Antigua Observer in a recent interview.

“I think some of these guys should have a look at him and see how simple he keeps his game because even for the period I saw him at the crease he was compact, not flashy and had the bat coming down with all kinds of flashiness,” Sir Vivian said.

“He looks very respectable to me like he knows his game.

“You see him when he is batting and when he is looking to defend, how straight his bat is. He looks organized to me and you’re not seeing that in all the other guys.”

After reading about the Master Blaster’s remarks, Da Silva told Sportsmax.TV he appreciated the observations from the all-time great.

“I am honoured to see what Sir Viv has said and complimenting about my batting,” he said.

“I am just playing a simple basic game. I am not trying to be too flashy, score when I can score and defend when I can defend so it’s a great honour to get some compliments from a great like Sir Viv and I will take that and keep working at my game and getting better.”

 

 

Joshua Da Silva might have only played in one Test match, but according to one of the greatest batsmen of all time, the young Trinidadian's more experienced counterparts could learn a thing or two from the greenhorn wicketkeeper/batsman.

Called to the West Indies squad to replace the injured Shane Dowrich, the 22-year-old Da Silva got off to an inauspicious start in his Test debut which came recently against New Zealand.

After looking at ease in the middle, a moment of indecision cost him his wicket.

When on three, he decided to play at a fullish outswinger in the corridor from Tim Southee. In an instant, Da Silva tried to pull his bat away but not far enough as the ball brushed the bat face on its way through to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

However, in his second turn at bat with the West Indies following on, Da Silva was the most composed batsman, going on to make a polished 57. With the West Indies facing certain defeat and with only one batsman left to come, he was eventually trapped lbw by Neil Wagner. During the knock where he stroked six balls to the boundaries, the young Trinidadian impressed none other than the Master Blaster himself, Sir Isaac Vivian Richards.

“I think some of these guys should have a look at him and see how simple he keeps his game because even for the period I saw him at the crease he was compact, not flashy and had the bat coming down with all kinds of flashiness,” Sir Vivian told the Antigua Observer in a recent interview.

“He looks very respectable to me, like he knows his game.

“You see him when he is batting and when he is looking to defend, how straight his bat is. He looks organized to me and you’re not seeing that in all the other guys.”

Da Silva came away with a Test average of 30, the third best among the West Indies batsmen. Only Jermaine Blackwood with an average of 54 and Captain Jason Holder who averaged 34.33 were better.

 

 

 

Shadab Khan is the latest Pakistan player to be ruled out of the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand.

All-rounder Shadab captained the tourists in a 2-1 Twenty20 International series defeat to the Black Caps after Babar Azam missed out with a fractured right thumb.

Shadab will play no part in the first Test at Mount Maunganui, which starts on Saturday, after sustaining a thigh injury.

The extent of the damage done by Shadab will be revealed after he has undergone MRI scans in Tauranga on Thursday.

Pakistan have drafted in uncapped left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar in the absence of Shadab.

Opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq also misses the opening match of the series with a thumb injury.

Australia opener David Warner has been ruled out of the Boxing Day Test, while Sean Abbott will also miss the Melbourne date with India.

Warner will sit out the blockbuster clash as he continues to recover from a groin injury, which sidelined him for the opening Test in Adelaide, where Australia won by eight wickets.

The 34-year-old Warner suffered an adductor injury during the second ODI against India last month as he watched Australia humble the tourists in the day-night contest at Adelaide Oval.

Australia paceman Abbott has returned to full fitness, but he will also be absent for the second Test due to Cricket Australia's (CA) strict biosecurity protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Warner and Abbott both departed for Melbourne on Saturday as a COVID-19 outbreak moves through Sydney, though they will be unable to enter the squad's hub.

"David Warner and Sean Abbott will re-join the Australian men's Test squad ahead of the third Test against India," a CA spokesman said.

"Warner and Abbott spent time in Sydney outside the team's bio-secure hub to recover from injury. While neither player has been in a specific 'hotspot' as outlined by NSW Health, Cricket Australia's biosecurity protocols do not allow them to re-join the squad in time for the Boxing Day Test.

"Warner has not fully recovered from a groin injury suffered in the ODI Series against India and would not have been available for the second Test match, while Abbott has recovered from a calf strain sustained during Australia A's tour match against India and would have been available for selection for the Boxing Day Test.

"The pair travelled from Sydney to Melbourne to continue their rehabilitation given the changing public health situation in Sydney at the time."

Matthew Wade and Joe Burns opened the batting for Australia in the first Test against India, and the pair are in line to continue atop the order.

Wade (33) and Burns (51 not out) put on a 70-run stand as Australia embarrassed Virat Kohli's India, who were held to a record-low Test score of 36 in the second innings.

The Boxing Day matchup will be the 100th men's Test between Australia and India, just the seventh fixture in the game's history to reach a century of iterations – Australia have won 43 of their previous 99 Tests against India (D27, L28).

Steve Smith (1,431) needs just 69 runs to become the fifth Australia player to reach 1,500 Test runs against India. His batting average of 79.5 from his 22 innings is the highest of any Australian to have logged more than six innings against them.

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon requires nine more wickets to reach 400 in Test cricket – only Shane Warne (708) and Glenn McGrath (563) have taken more for Australia in the men's format.

Mohammad Rizwan smashed 89 as Pakistan avoided being swept in the Twenty20 series against New Zealand, despite a late wobble in their run chase in Napier.  

Opening the batting, Rizwan hit 10 fours and three sixes in his maiden international half-century in the format, helping the tourists surpass the home team's total of 173-7 with four wickets to spare in the third and final game.  

Mohammad Hafeez contributed 41 to a second-wicket stand worth 72 and Pakistan appeared to be cruising at one stage, only to lose wickets in the closing overs.  

Tim Southee dismissed Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan – continuing to stand in as captain in the absence of injured Babar Azam – in successive deliveries in the 19th over, while Rizwan departed to Kyle Jamieson to leave the score at 171-6.  

However, left needing three from the final three balls, Iftikhar Ahmed sealed victory in style with a huge six. New Zealand were hampered by the absence of Ish Sodhi, the leg-spinner only sending down one over before suffering an injury in the field.

Devon Conway had earlier helped the Black Caps post what looked to be a competitive total at the halfway stage, hitting seven fours and a solitary six as he made 63 from 45 deliveries.  

Tim Seifert made 35 at the top of the New Zealand order, while Glenn Phillips (31) shared a 51-run partnership with Conway for the fourth wicket.  

Faheem Ashraf claimed 3-20 during his four overs, including dismissing home skipper Kane Williamson for one, bowled off an inside edge to a short delivery.   

There were two wickets apiece for Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf, though both went at an economy rate above 10 an over in an innings that included 16 fours and six sixes.  

The two nations now switch their focus quickly to Test cricket, with the series opener getting under way at Mount Maunganui on Boxing Day. 

Pakistan confirmed on Monday that Babar will not recover from a broken thumb in time to play, though the batsman may yet feature in the second and final Test, which takes place in Christchurch.

Steve Smith admitted his back was still troubling him slightly ahead of Australia's second Test against India.

The star Australia batsman was dealing with a stiff back ahead of the series opener, which the hosts won by eight wickets in Adelaide.

Smith said the issue was still causing him some troubles, but he expects to be ready to go for the Boxing Day Test starting in Melbourne on Saturday.

"Just if I sit down for too long really. If I'm up and about and moving around I'm pretty good. I might be a bit stiff after this press conference," he said on Tuesday.

"If I'm moving around or laying down, I'm good. If I just sit around for too long, it's not great for it.

"I'm not worried about it. I think everything will be fine and I'll be good to go."

Smith was dismissed for one in the first innings in the series opener, before facing one ball in the second.

Australia's top scorer in the first Test was Tim Paine, the captain making an important 73 not out in the first innings.

Only Adam Gilchrist (47.6) has a better Test batting average than Paine (33.4) among Australia wicketkeepers and Smith backed the 36-year-old to continue building.  

"He [Paine] is another one who will take a lot of confidence out of the way he played the other day. He took the game on, was scoring at a good rate, and changed the momentum of the game there," Smith said.

"We’ve always known that Tim's had such a good ability with the bat, and I think he's just getting better. If he can keep having those performances and change the momentum, I think that's part of his job as a number seven and a wicketkeeper.

"I think the guys that do that the best are willing to play the situation and take the game on, whether it's pushing a total up or getting us out of a bit of trouble by playing aggressively and taking it on. I thought he did that really well the other day and hopefully he can keep doing it for us."

Quinton de Kock says he has too much on his plate to be South Africa Test captain on a long-term basis.

The Proteas' white-ball skipper this month agreed to lead his country in the longest format for the 2020-21 season.

De Kock will take on the duties for the encounters with Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia, replacing Faf du Plessis after the batsman stepped down in February.

Wicketkeeper-batsman De Kock ruled out staying on as captain, but is happy to fill in until a full-time successor to Du Plessis is appointed.

"When they [the South Africa selectors] told me the situation that we were in, I understood where they were coming from," De Kock said ahead of the first Test against Sri Lanka, which starts on Boxing Day.

"Obviously, I didn't accept it immediately. I did think about it and I understood, it's just for now. For this season. It's not a long-term thing.

"It's just [until] when we get someone who really puts up their hand, they will take over. The guys are looking for a long-term leadership role. I won't be doing that.

"There does seem a lot on my plate but I am quite happy to do it for now."

De Kock revealed he will retain the gloves in Test cricket, so it appears Kyle Verreynne will have to be patient before he is handed a debut.

"I wasn't going to keep in the ODIs against England. We were going to give someone else a chance and now that I am looking after the Test team, we are looking at ways to get a lot of things off my shoulders," De Kock said.

"But in Test cricket, I need to be there as keeper."

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards has described the current crop of Test batsmen as timid following the recently concluded debacle in New Zealand where the team lost by an innings in each of the two Tests.

For two decades, Sir Vivian, one of the greatest batsmen of all time, destroyed bowling attacks across the globe, plundering 8540 runs in 121 Tests. The nature of his dominance was such that he once held the world record for the fastest-ever Test century, getting to the hallowed milestone from just 56 balls. It is against this background that that his criticism of the current crop of West Indies batsmen is seen as being telling. 

During the recent tour of New Zealand, the West Indies batsmen were harried and bullied by the pace and bounce of Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee, who between them took 38 wickets.

In the first Test at Hamilton, New Zealand, batting first on a green wicket, made 519 for 7 declared with Captain Kane Williamson getting 251 runs. In reply, the West Indies could only manage 138 and following on, 247, losing by an innings and 134 runs.

It was a similar situation in the second Test at Wellington where after New Zealand made 460 all out reduced the West Indies to 131, and following on, 317, losing by an innings and 12 runs.

Of note, is that no West Indies batsman in four innings cumulatively managed to score more runs than Williamson’s score in the first Test. Jermaine Blackwood, who scored a century and a half century over the two Tests came closest with 216 runs.

Richards, in a recent interview with the Antigua Observer, said the West Indies batsmen were not able to withstand the hostility of the home team’s bowlers.

“We are struggling to play the short ball, and we look like the individuals we used to deal with. We are looking very timid and West Indians over the years have always been part of that destructive force when it comes to playing fast bowling,” said Sir Vivian.

“There are certain improvements in the team but we are seeing it in bits and pieces and we are not seeing those pieces being out together, we are not seeing that.”

Richards said it was becoming hard to watch the West Indies play under the current state of affairs.

 

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