West Indies Test captain Jason Holder wants his side to be among the best in the world by July 2021 and goes further to expect a top-five ranking by then.

There was a time when that kind of brash talk would have been expected from a West Indian but not given the kind of lean times the region has had with bat and ball in the last 25 years.

Holder was speaking after the West Indies won its first Test match under new coach Phil Simmons in Lucknow, India, beating Afghanistan by nine wickets.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) started the World Test Championship on August 1, 2019, creating a league for the top nine Test-playing teams over two years with the top two teams qualifying for a World Test League Championship Final. The World Test Championship begins again in July of 2021.

That being said, the West Indies did not start their World Test Championship campaign very well, losing to India in the Caribbean in a largely one-sided affair.

But now, with the dominance the West Indies showed against Afghanistan, despite it not being a World Test Championship encounter, hope abounds once again.

"I think by the end of the Test Championship, I don't see it being impossible for us to be fourth or fifth in the world," said Holder.

"That would be a significant achievement in a two-year period. We've got some tough series coming up. We've got England, then South Africa coming to the Caribbean, then we've got New Zealand… all good cricket sides. But I don't think it's beyond us to beat them. We've just got to make sure we keep building and developing. Once we do that, we can compete with any side in the world. A realistic target in two years would be to be ranked three or four in the world."

According to Holder, while the game was not part of the World Test Championship, there was enough shown by the West Indies to offer a road map of what needed to be done to get into the top five.

"I've said it in the last couple of series we've played: more responsibility needs to be taken by our batters," Holder said.

"Once they do that and take the bull by the horns, I think our bowling attack has shown it can compete with any attack in the world. We've shown glimpses of brilliance, which is all well and good, but consistency is the name of the game. In order to be a world-class team, you have to be consistent with your batting. You have to get 20 wickets of course, but you have to set it up with the bat. First innings' count for a lot. If we can put teams under pressure with our first innings scores, more often than not, West Indies will be up there among the top-ranked sides in the world."

Cameron Bancroft has been dropped by Australia in what is otherwise a settled Test squad to face New Zealand.

Australia recorded innings wins in both Tests against Pakistan and opted to name a 13-man squad for their three meetings with the Black Caps.

Bancroft has struggled in the Sheffield Shield and his omission was the only change to the squad named to face Pakistan.

"As we said prior to the Pakistan series we are striving to maintain a core group of players. The performance of the team against Pakistan was very impressive across all areas, while there is always some room to improve," Australia national selector Trevor Hohns said in a statement on Tuesday.

"David Warner has been in exceptional form with the bat. The support he received from Joe Burns in Brisbane and Marnus Labuschagne in Adelaide was exactly what we had been asking for from the top order. They delivered, setting up both matches in what was an outstanding all-round performance.

"We are backing the current batting line-up to continue their form across the next three Tests. Whilst not a part of this squad, Cameron Bancroft remains one of the standby players. Similarly, depending on conditions, we reserve the right to add a player to the squad at any time during the series.

"Michael Neser and James Pattinson will continue as cover for Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood through the series. Michael will play for Queensland against New South Wales in the Marsh Sheffield Shield game at the SCG, as James did last week for Victoria."

The first Test between Australia and New Zealand will begin in Perth on December 12 before matches in Melbourne and Sydney.

Australia: Tim Paine (c), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.

Carol Henry, the newly elected president of the St. Lucia Cricket Association, says he will be focussing on national administration, development of cricket on the island as well as player welfare during his two-year term.

Azhar Ali insists the Test progress made by Babar Azam means Pakistan have a major positive to take out of their heavy series defeat to Australia.

Pakistan lost the second Test by an innings and 48 runs on day four in Adelaide after Nathan Lyon took 5-69 in their second innings of 239 all out.

The tourists were following on after Australia declared on 589-3 in a first-innings onslaught inspired by David Warner's 335 not out.

Pakistan also lost the first Test by an innings but Azhar was unwilling to completely write off the tour ahead of two matches against Sri Lanka later this month.

Already a star in limited-overs cricket, T20I captain Babar scored 104 in the opening Test in Brisbane and 97 in the first innings of this contest.

"He's been tremendous in white-ball cricket and in the recent past he's been gradually building up his Test stats as well," Test skipper Azhar said of Babar. 

"This series definitely will be the breakthrough he wanted. We were all hopeful that he would do it.

"He's a good enough player. We all know that. But sometimes if you score in tough conditions against tough bowling attacks, it gives you the extra boost and the belief that you can make even better strides in Test cricket.

"That's been a big positive now for us that Babar has stamped himself a Test player. He's been fantastic throughout the year, lovely to watch and hopefully he can continue this form in the Tests that are coming. Babar has been exceptional."

Azhar also highlighted the performances of wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan and Yasir Shah, who scored 113 in the first innings at number eight, but conceded the series was ultimately a disappointment.

He added: "Rizwan waited for his chance and then grabbed it with both hands. The way he batted at Gabba and the way he kept wickets in both games has been fantastic.

"We didn't want to give up at any stage and Yasir put up a lot of fight.

"But it has been a disappointing series. We didn't live up the expectations that were based around this young team. It's very hard here with a young bowling attack and we came with a lot of expectations but it didn't go well. 

"To win Test matches we need to take 20 wickets and we need to work out how to do that. And also to score big in the first innings – getting ahead of the game here is very important.

"It's always hard coming to Australia and we've been beaten by a better side. But very positive for the future, we will learn a lot.

"I'd like to congratulate Australia, especially David Warner for his triple hundred."

West Indies Emerging Players captain Yannic Cariah has revealed that self-belief was key to the team unlikely triumph in the Colonial Medical Insurance Super50 competition on Sunday.

At the start of the tournament, few would have given the unit hastily stitched together by Cricket West Indies a shot to win the it all.  In fact, the idea behind the Floyd Reifer-coached unit was to give player that had been rejected by their regional squads a chance to gain valuable experience.  On Sunday, a 205 runs thrashing of the Leeward Islands in the final proved they were just as good as anyone else.

After several strong performances, the team’s run in the tournament seemed to be at an end following a crushing defeat to the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force just a week ago, however, another unlikely scenario, a loss for the Guyana Jaguars to the United States, put them squarely back in contention for the top prize.

“I told the guys once we got through the semifinals, we would win the tournament because I know the caliber of players that we have.  We have a balanced team and the belief that everyone has is incredible,” Cariah said in a post-match interview.

“I have to thank the coaches, the staff who gave us the support that we needed.  Men played with niggles, men played under the weather and we still came out on top, that a fantastic achievement,” he added.

 

Tim Paine has called for an end to comparisons between the pink ball and its red counterpart in Test cricket, arguing the day-night format should be embraced for its entertainment value.

Paine saw his Australia side wrap up a 2-0 series win over Pakistan with a dominant victory at Adelaide Oval, the hosts triumphing by an innings and 48 runs.

Critics of the pink ball, including Australia paceman Mitchell Starc, which is used for day-night Tests argue it acts too similarly to a white one in limited-overs cricket.

But the huge attendances in Adelaide, who witnessed David Warner make a triple century, are proof the nuances of day-night cricket must be celebrated, according to Paine.

"I think what we want is people watching Test match cricket and I think the pink-ball day-night Test certainly makes that happen," said Australia's captain.

"It's bringing new people to the game. I think what we need to stop doing is trying to compare the pink ball to the red ball. It's not going to behave the same, it isn't the same ball. 

"From a players' point of view again, day-night Test cricket creates different challenges so the best players will again find way to succeed. And Mitchell Starc has done it. His record is unbelievably good with the pink ball.

"David Warner has just got a triple century. Marnus [Labuschagne] got a 100. All the good players still score runs and take wickets regardless of the colour I think it's just a slight shift in how we think about it. 

"It's not going to behave like a red ball, it's not going to behave like a white ball. It's going to behave like a pink ball. And at the moment it's relatively new and we're getting used to it. 

"It can be a challenging fielding at night and being in the slips but I don't think that's any different to a white ball sometimes either.

"It's just something players will adapt to and get better at but in terms of the product I think it's good to watch."

Joe Root believes England can win the second Test against New Zealand if they can get on a "wicket train" early on the final day.

England captain Root reached 226 on day four – his first overseas double century and his longest innings at 10 hours, 36 minutes – at Seddon Park before falling to Mitchell Santner as the tourists lost their last five wickets for 21 runs.

New Zealand saw Jeet Raval fall to a second-ball duck and Tom Latham dismissed for 18 in the final session, but Kane Williamson (37 not out) and Ross Taylor (31no) guided the Black Caps to stumps.

A draw appears to be the most likely result as rain is forecast for much of Tuesday, but Root thinks England have a shot at securing a 1-1 series draw if they can get Williamson and Taylor out quickly.

"If we can make an early breakthrough, it could get us on a bit of a wicket train, because they're such key figures in their batting line-up," said Root.

"They've got huge amounts of experience and are class players, so it would give our guys a lot of confidence for sure.

"They're two experienced players who you expect a bit of rearguard from – they know how to play in those situations, and on a good surface you expect a bit of a fightback from the number two side in the world."

He added: "I wanted to try to get us in a position where we could force a result in this game. A good couple of wickets tonight, it would have been nice to get a couple more.

"But I still feel it we can sneak a couple tomorrow morning first thing – I know there's a bit of weather around but you just never know. There will be one big last push from everyone to try and come away with a levelled-up series.

"We'd have taken this position at the start of the day."

Neil Wagner sparked the decimation of England's tail by removing Ollie Pope and he went on to claim his fourth five-wicket haul in as many Tests, but the left-armer was modest when assessing his performance.

"I was a bit lucky to get the rewards. All the other bowlers bowled well, too, and grafted away," said Wagner.

"It just sort of came my way and I ended up getting a couple of wickets which is quite nice and pleasing and satisfying.

"But all the bowlers bowled well with not a lot of luck and reward. We hunt as a pack and bowl really well in partnerships and I was lucky it came my way."

Nathan Lyon claimed a five-for as Australia thrashed Pakistan by an innings and 48 runs at to seal a 2-0 series victory in the second Test at Adelaide Oval.

Australia, who declared on 589-3 after David Warner's historic unbeaten 335 and imposed the follow-on when Pakistan made 302 in response, closed out a second successive resounding triumph thanks to some fine bowling from Lyon on day four.

Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali and Babar Azam fell in the final session on Sunday but Shan Masood (68) and Asad Shafiq (57) ensured Pakistan still put up a fight by extending their partnership to 103 runs.

However, Lyon eventually weaved his magic, finding plenty of turn and bounce on a flat track to tear through the Pakistan attack and return figures of 5-69.

Australia will hope to build on a pair of thoroughly impressive victories when they take on trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in a three-Test series starting on December 12.

Masood was aggressive from the off and brought up his fifty when he found the ropes through mid-on – one of nine boundaries that included one maximum.

The Pakistan opener narrowly evaded Tim Paine when he nudged Josh Hazlewood (3-63) down the leg side and his partnership with Shafiq soon reached triple figures.

Masood was made to pay for a poor shot selection when he chipped Lyon to Mitchell Starc and after Shafiq brought up his fifty that was as good as it got for the tourists.

A shorter delivery from Lyon bamboozled Shafiq, who could only send it straight to Warner at leg slip, but a positive start from Mohammad Rizwan (45) helped Pakistan to 167-5 at tea.

The runs did not come as freely in the second session and Iftikhar Ahmed (27) was taken at the second attempt by first-innings centurion Marnus Labuschagne ​– who had been unable to hold onto Rizwan on four ​– off Lyon at short leg.

Pakistan lost their final four wickets for just 38 runs, with Lyon trapping Yasir Shah lbw on 13 before Shaheen Shah holed out off the prolific spinner for just one run before dinner.

Hazlewood expertly bowled Rizwan with a full delivery and Pakistan's resistance ended when Mohammad Abbas (1) was run out by Pat Cummins.

England remain a chance of winning the second Test against New Zealand after Joe Root scored a double century on Monday.

Root (226) continued to star on day four at Seddon Park, where Ollie Pope (75) also helped England to 476 – a first-innings lead of 101.

While the tourists, who trail the two-Test series 1-0, scored slowly, they moved into a lead and then struck twice before stumps.

Sam Curran (1-26) and Chris Woakes (1-8) removed Jeet Raval (0) and Tom Latham (18) respectively to give England hope of an unlikely victory.

Curran trapped Raval lbw, the opener opting not to review despite appearing to get an inside edge.

The Black Caps fell to 28-2 when Latham edged Woakes to Root at slip, but Kane Williamson (37) and Ross Taylor (31) were unbeaten at the close of play as they steadied the hosts, reaching 96-2 – still trailing by five runs.

Earlier, Root and Pope combined for a 193-run sixth-wicket partnership to boost England.

New Zealand struggled to create many chances as England edged into a lead prior to lunch before Root reached his third Test double century.

The tourists looked to lift their run rate but the lower-order were unable to contribute much of note as Neil Wagner (5-124) took a ninth Test five-for.

Woakes and Stuart Broad went for ducks, while Curran (11 not out) and Jofra Archer (8) made small contributions.

But the two late wickets have given England hope, although rain is expected in Hamilton on Tuesday.

A four-four from spinner Kevin Sinclair and three from Yannic Cariah led the West Indies Emerging Players to a crushing 205 runs victory over and to the Colonial Medical Insurance Super50 Cup at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain on Sunday.

Sent in to bat, Leonardo Julien smashed an enterprising 83 from 85 runs as the Emerging Players piled up a daunting 293 for 7 in their 50 overs.  In their turn at the crease, the Hurricanes never got going as they were scuttled out for just 88.

Opening with Kimani Meluis, Julien got Emerging players off to a solid start before, Meluis was caught for 28 by Kacey Carty off the bowling of Jacques Taylor.  He went on to put on another 84 for the second wicket with man-of-the-match Cariah, who made 34 from 51 before being run out.  Julien was dismissed, caught by Thomas off the bowling of  Sheeno Berridge, with Emerging Players well poised at 163 for 3.  Rolando Cato (31), Kevin Sinclair (28) and Dominic Drakes (38) put on another 97 at the bottom of the order.

Chasing the big target, the Leewards were on the back foot also immediately after losing opener Montcin Hodge for one run with just 11 on the board.  When his partner Kieran Powell (13) followed soon after, caught by Da Silva off the bowling of Kevin Sinclair the writing was on the wall for the Leewards.  Amir Jangoo provided the most resistance with 20 from 43 deliveries but his innings was brought to an end by Cariah.

 

Mitchell Starc spent little time worrying about his Test future after the Ashes, despite playing a minimal role for Australia in England.

Left-arm seamer Starc is playing in his 54th Test against Pakistan in Adelaide, yet his Ashes involvement was limited to the fourth match at Old Trafford, taking four wickets to help the visitors retain the urn.

The 29-year-old returned to star with seven wickets in the first-Test win over Pakistan and has impressed again this week, his match figures 7-76 at the end of day three.

Victory now appears a formality for Australia, and Starc said after Sunday's play of his role: "It's not really come into my thought process.

"Playing a bit of Shield cricket and the T20s [before the Pakistan series] was the focus to begin with, and [then to] see how the Shield games played out and if I was selected in the Test squad, then go from there.

"It was never really a worry or a focus. I was just looking forward to playing some games for New South Wales and playing some white-ball cricket."

Yasir Shah made an unlikely 113 for Pakistan, but they were forced to follow on as Starc continues to excel with the pink ball, boosting his total in day-night Tests to a still world-best 33 wickets.

"I still think it's more like a white ball than a red ball, so that's probably playing in my favour there," the bowler said.

"It still went soft for us on that wicket, as we saw through the early afternoon session today where it didn't move around much at all and the wicket was quite flat.

"When it's going through those stages, it's trying to control the scoreboard. We did that fairly well at times and then Yasir got away from us a fair bit."

Australia are seven wickets from securing a whitewash of Pakistan in their two-match series after another dominant day in Adelaide, though Yasir Shah did restore some pride for the tourists with a century.

Pakistan resumed day three of the second Test on 96-6 but a stand of 105 between Yasir and Babar Azam did see them mount a recovery of sorts.

Yasir had never previously scored 50 in Test cricket but struck 13 fours en route to 113, while Babar fell three short of a second successive hundred. Pakistan could still only manage 302 in reply to 589-3 declared and were forced to follow on against an Australia attack that continued to make frequent inroads into the visitors' batting line-up.

As they did in the final session of day two, Pakistan gave away cheap wickets at the start of their second innings and closed on 39-3, still trailing by 248 runs and destined for an emphatic defeat to end a winless tour.

Rain stopped play prematurely and could frustrate Australia on day four, but with a better forecast for day five, the hosts should have plenty of time to wrap up a 2-0 win.

Babar had been the only Pakistan batsman to emerge from day two with any credit and he continued to take the fight to Australia as he closed on a third Test century.

It did not arrive, however, as Mitchell Starc, who took 6-66 in the first innings, drew a thick edge and Tim Paine claimed a diving one-handed catch.

Shaheen Shah Afridi was trapped lbw from the next delivery but Starc missed out on a hat-trick and Yasir forged an unlikely ninth-wicket stand with Mohammad Abbas (29).

Yasir produced a gritty performance that belied his Test average of 12, yet it was more by luck than judgment that he reached his century, clipping just beyond the grasp of Pat Cummins at mid-on.

He sank to his knees and kissed the ground before twirling his bat in celebration of a feat few would have anticipated.

It was Cummins who broke Pakistan's resistance, a brutal short ball seeing Abbas caught at gully before a similar delivery was top-edged by Yasir, Nathan Lyon hanging on at deep backward square to end the best batting innings of his career.

However, Pakistan's celebratory mood did not last long into their follow-on. Josh Hazlewood trapped Imam-ul-Haq with the final ball before dinner and Steve Smith took a stunning catch at second slip to dismiss Azhar Ali as he tried to work Starc to leg. 

Intermittent rain saw the covers come on several times but Hazlewood was able to take the key wicket of Babar before inclement weather called a halt to proceedings for the day, although that will not dampen the spirits of an Australia side set to win by a massive margin.

While the West Indies were expected to dominate their one-off Test against Afghanistan in Lucknow, India, they still had to do it and it was important to their skipper, Jason Holder, that the year ended with his side tasting some success.

The West Indies, playing in a one-off Test after T20 and ODI series against Afghanistan, were emphatic nine-wicket winners after bowling out the hosts for 187 and 120 while scoring 277 and 31-1.

The results were brought about by Rahkeem Cornwall’s 7-75 and 3-46, as well as Shamarh Brooks first-innings knock of 111.

“Really important win, you know. We had a tough series against India. Was important to finish the year well,” said Holder after his West Indies side finished the game inside three days.

Holder also pointed out that there was a certain type of unity within the West Indies squad that he believed would hold them in good stead for bigger challenges on the horizon.

“We've got a good group going. The whole management staff has been excellent. We've got good unity, we have a one-team motif. Once we love one another, the job becomes much easier on the cricket field. Hope it continues," he said.

Holder was also pleased with the way the new players in the side have come on and held their hands up to be counted when the going gets tough.

“Very pleasing to see new guys come in and take the opportunity. Shamarh did that. He scored a fifty in the last innings and followed it with a hundred here. It was full of class. And then Rahkeem getting seven in the first innings, in just his second Test, is amazing,” said Holder.

Rory Burns hailed a "beautiful" performance from Joe Root and was happy to get his own tempo right as both struck hundreds for England on day three of the second Test with New Zealand.

Burns hit only his second Test century as England fought back at Hamilton, while captain Root ended a long wait with his first ton in the five-day game since February.

Root's 17th Test hundred will ease the pressure on the under-pressure skipper, who has consistently faced questions over whether the burden of the captaincy was affecting his form.

He stood unbeaten on 114 but Burns was run out on 101, with England going on to lose the wickets of Ben Stokes and Zak Crawley before the close, leaving them on 269-5 in reply to New Zealand's 375.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Burns said of Root: "He played beautifully, to get himself back to where he wants to be, good Test match hundred and he's still in and still fighting away and hopefully he's going to make it a massive one.

"From a personal point I feel like I got my tempo right and managed to cash in."

On the run-out, when he was pushing for a second run, Burns added: "I thought I was just about there. I thought I had enough in the tank but didn't quite. That's disappointing to miss out in that way, it could have been a real big one."

England's prospects of winning the match and saving the two-game series appear to be slim, with the tourists facing the likelihood of needing to bat well into day four to gain a lead with which they could declare and then attempt to claim an innings victory.

Burns, however, remained hopeful, saying: "There's still a fair bit of batting there, it's about getting as far ahead of them as we can now and see what we can enforce."

An unbeaten century from Joe Root helped England stay in the second Test against New Zealand in Hamilton on Sunday.

Root (114 not out) guided England to 269-5 in response to the Black Caps' 375 at stumps on day three at Seddon Park.

The England captain scored his first Test century since February to give the tourists hope of salvaging a drawn series.

Rory Burns (101) also made a century after England had resumed in a precarious position at 39-2.

Burns and Root controlled the first session, although the latter needed a review when given out caught behind on 47, a delivery from debutant Daryl Mitchell (0-28) having hit his pad, not bat.

Burns was dropped on 10 on Saturday and he survived again on 86, Matt Henry (1-56) squandering a great run-out chance as the difficult day continued for New Zealand.

The England opener would reach his second Test ton before being run out thanks to excellent fielding by Jeet Raval.

England had battled through the second session as Ben Stokes (26) joined Root before the all-rounder edged Tim Southee (2-63) to Ross Taylor at slip.

Much to his relief, Root got to his 17th Test century thanks to an under-edge that went for four.

Zak Crawley, making his Test debut for England, only lasted six balls before edging behind to BJ Watling off Neil Wagner (1-76).

Rain meant the day was cut short with England back in the Test and hoping Root and Ollie Pope (4) can push them into a first-innings lead on Monday.

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