Tim Paine hinted David Warner's inclusion for Australia in the third Test against India may not be the only change to the side.

Warner is set to return from an adductor injury when the third Test begins in Sydney on Thursday, and Will Pucovski appears set to make his international debut.

Australia captain Paine confirmed on Wednesday a team had been picked – but he would not publicly name it just yet.

"We've got a team, we're just not releasing it at the moment," he told a news conference.

"The boys are still training at the moment so we'll get through that first unscathed and then we'll try and get a team out as quickly as we can after that.

"Obviously with David playing and potentially more, there's some conversation that need to be had first."

Paine confirmed Pucovski would open if he played, with Joe Burns already omitted from the squad.

That is likely to see Matthew Wade return to the middle-order and Travis Head potentially dropped.

In October and November last year, Pucovski became the first player to score double centuries in consecutive Sheffield Shield innings since Dene Hills in 1997-98.

Paine praised Warner, whose absence has been felt as Australia struggled with the bat in the opening two Tests.

"Davey's been awesome, brings really high intensity, fills guys with confidence around him," he said.

"He's a player that you love having on your side, he's always got plenty to say, really energetic, very professional and I've always loved playing with him and I know he's a player in this team that guys love to have in our side.

"He's made an instant impact with that energy and intensity that he brings.

"Will's been fantastic as well. He's been out of the bubble for a couple of weeks so he's excited, he's fresh, he's been batting really well in the nets and looks ready to go if he was called upon."

Former West Indies fast bowler, Franklyn Rose, believes current players representing the team could benefit from a change in mindset as he believes many might be too focused on playing the game solely for financial benefit.

The 48-year-old Rose, who played for the West Indies between 1997 and 2000, has openly admitted to being upset by the current plight of the regional team, particularly on the back of a brutal run of recent results.

After a hiatus enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, the West Indies resumed international cricket with a three-Test tour of England in July.  The Windies won the first match but were badly outplayed for the rest of the series in a 2-1 defeat.  The team then headed to New Zealand, last month, where they were handily beaten in both a three-match T20 series and a two-Test series where they suffered an innings defeat in both matches.

In recent times, particularly with the advent of lucrative T20 leagues, some players have been accused of putting personal gain over the pride of representing the West Indies.  Rose seems to among those that hold some form of that particular view.

“We need to focus more on the success of the game than just thinking about the big bank accounts,” Rose told Television Jamaica.

“Of course the guys are going to say that they have bills to pay and family to take care of and stuff but when you are at that level of the game, representing the West Indies, one of the greatest teams of all time, you need to have a different mindset.”

CWI President Ricky Skerritt has described the late Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart as a true West Indian legend following news of the latter’s passing on Monday.

Cricket West Indies are engaged in what they describe as ‘positive discussions’ with Sandals Resorts for the latter to resume as its primary sponsor.

Sandals signed on as the CWI’s primary sponsor in 2018 in a partnership that covered all West Indies teams from U15s through to the senior men’s and women’s outfits. The Sandals’ logo featured on all West Indies playing and training kit as part of the deal that expired at the end of last year.

Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave confirmed to Sportsmax.TV today that positive discussions are ongoing. He indicated that there will likely be a temporary halt in those discussions following news Monday night of the passing of Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, the founder of the Sandals Resorts.

He indicated that the discussions would resume at an “appropriate time”.

West Indies star batsman Chris Gayle has made it clear that he is looking forward to the T20 World Cup, with high hopes of helping the regional team win a third title.

Gayle’s last appearance for the Windes, a One Day International match at the Queen’s Park Oval last year, was a dramatic affair as he walked off the field to applause from both sets of players and fans.  The special occasion was thought to be his retirement from international cricket.

Following that match, Gayle turned down the selection to an ODI series against India, after insisting that he needed some time off to figure out his future.  Since then, however, Gayle has had a complete reversal of thought when it comes to the idea of retirement. 

The big left-hander recently showed that he remains capable of producing plenty of fireworks, after an outstanding season in the Indian Premier League (IPL).  After being left on the bench at the start of the tournament, the insertion of Gayle into the line-up fueled an impressive run for Kings XI Punjab who narrowly missed out on making the playoffs.  During the tournament, Gayle became the first player to reach 1000 T20 sixes. 

Having found himself in that type of form, retirement is understandably now the furthest thing from the batsman’s mind and he is ready to take that kind of form into international cricket.

“I’m enjoying my cricket, to be honest with you.  I just recently played the IPL in Dubai and did well.  Now I have the T10, honestly, I’ve been feeling good, I’ve been putting in some work,” Gayle said.

The player admits that he already has one eye on the ICC T20 Championships, which will be held in November of this year.

“I’m just getting myself in condition.  I still have a lot of cricket to play.  I’m looking forward to the World Cup and hopefully giving the West Indies another T20 title.”

Gayle has not played in a T20 international since March of last year but intends to be part of the squad in lead up matches to the tournament.

 

South Africa hammered Sri Lanka by 10 wickets despite Dimuth Karunaratne's battling hundred to seal a 2-0 series win inside three days in Johannesburg.

Karunaratne was unbeaten on 91 at the close of day two of the second Test with Sri Lanka beginning Tuesday's play at 150-4, but any momentum quickly subsided in a sorry collapse.

The tourists added just 61 more runs and lost their final six wickets for the return of a measly 35, setting the Proteas a meagre target of 67, as Anrich Nortje (2-64), Lungi Ngidi (4-44) and Lutho Sipam (3-40) produced devastating spells with the ball.

Dean Elgar (31) and Aiden Markram (36) steered South Africa over the line with ease in just 13 overs either side of the lunch break to complete a convincing victory.

Karunaratne (103) hit successive fours in the third over of the day as he aimed to help Sri Lanka to a competitive total.

But, having already threatened a couple of times, Nortje (2-64) eventually got the Sri Lanka skipper, his wicked delivery edged into the hands of Wiaan Mulder.

Karunaratne's overnight partner Niroshan Dickwella (36) soon followed, falling to the impressive Ngidi, and the remaining wickets tumbled quickly after that.

Mulder (1-52) dismissed Dasun Shanaka (8), while Sipamla swept up the lower order by taking out Wanindu Hasaranga (16), Dushmantha Chameera (0) and Asitha Fernando (0).

Markram and Elgar, whose first-innings 127 was the highest score of the Test, returned to the crease in a professional mood and hit nine boundaries between them.

The former did have a brief scare when Kusal Mendis appeared to catch him low before the boundary, but the third umpire ruled it not out after replays suggested he grounded the ball, and from there it was plain sailing for the hosts.

Australia will hope the "very likely" return of David Warner can inspire them to regain the series lead as they take on India in the third Test from Thursday.

India produced an impressive turnaround in Melbourne last time out, squaring the series at 1-1 despite being without Virat Kohli and also losing the toss.

Stand-in Ajinkya Rahane stood up in the absence of India's captain, making 112 to set the tourists up for an impressive eight-wicket victory.

However, Australia are undefeated in their last nine Tests against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Indeed, their only defeat in meetings between the teams at the venue came in January 1978.

The hosts reacted to the defeat by dropping out-of-sorts opener Joe Burns, having made just 63 runs in four innings during the series.

Warner and Will Pucovski were both injured and missed the first two Tests but head coach Justin Langer gave a positive update on the former, who he thinks will be able to play through the pain.

Uncapped prospect Pucovski, meanwhile, has passed concussion examinations so will challenge Travis Head for a place in the side.

BUBBLE CONCERN FOR INDIA

India had to isolate five members of their squad as a precaution in the aftermath of the Boxing Day Test, amid concerns over a breach of protocols within the bio-secure bubble.

Rishabh Pant, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Navdeep Saini and Prithvi Shaw trained away from the rest of the squad after a video on social media showed them dining at an indoor venue in Melbourne.

However, both teams - and members of the support staff - tested negative for COVID-19 prior to travelling to Sydney to continue the four-match series.

Rohit has not featured for India on the tour so far due to injury, including missing the white-ball games that preceded the Tests, but could be involved at the SCG.

Batsman KL Rahul is out of the rest of the series with a wrist injury, ending speculation he could replace struggling Mayank Agarwal.

LANGER CONFIDENT OF SMITH RECOVERY

While the expected return of Warner could give them a boost, Australia will also be looking for a turnaround from Steve Smith.

Smith has only managed scores of 1, 0 and 8 during his completed innings in Adelaide and Melbourne, with spinner Ravichandran Ashwin having him caught in two of those three dismissals.

Ranked at three in the ICC rankings, he had only failed to reach double figures in two of his 14 previous innings since returning to Test cricket in the 2019 Ashes.

"Imagine how good we'll be when he does start batting well," said a confident Langer. "That's how I look at it.

"He hasn't had the best of series so far, he'll be the first to admit that, but my gosh, what I know about great players is the longer they miss out, the sooner it is that they're coming good again.

"So that puts a big smile on my face. I don't coach Steve Smith. Steve Smith coaches himself and I'm sure he's going to work it out. 

"He is a great player and I can't wait to watch him bat this Test match and the next Test match."

KEY OPTA FACTS

- India have lost only two of their last nine Tests against Australia (W5, D2) - they now search for back-to-back wins against them for just the second time since 2013.
- Australia's loss in the second match snapped an eight-game winning run in Tests at home; they will now look to avoid consecutive home defeats for the first time since November 2016.
- The home team dropped eight catches last time out in Melbourne, their most in a single Test since dropping nine against India in the New Year's Test of 2012 in Sydney.
- Ricky Ponting (8) is the only player to have logged more centuries at the Sydney Cricket Ground than David Warner (7) in international cricket.
- No player has taken more wickets (10) or posted a better bowling economy (2.1) than India's Ravichandran Ashwin throughout this series.
- Nathan Lyon is six wickets shy of becoming just the third Australian bowler to take 400 in men's Tests (Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath); his 89 wickets against India are his most against any team.

Kane Williamson and a hobbling Henry Nicholls put on a batting masterclass as New Zealand tightened their grip on the second Test against Pakistan.

The pair delivered an almost faultless 369-run fourth-wicket partnership, the third highest for any wicket in Black Caps Test history, as the hosts finished day three with a lead of 354 runs.

After New Zealand had declared on 659-6, the tourists were sent in to face 11 overs and the in-form Kyle Jamieson removed Shan Masood as Pakistan closed day three on 8-1.

Williamson had earlier posted another two blistering sessions to score a brilliant 238 and become the quickest of three New Zealanders to score 7,000 career Test runs.

The world’s top-ranked Test batsman notched his fourth Test double century and was supported by a gutsy 157 from Nicholls, who was hampered by a calf strain while bringing up his third Test 150.

Nicholls pushed through the pain barrier on his home ground at Hagley Oval to join Brendon McCullum as the only players with two Test hundreds in Christchurch.

Daryl Mitchell raced to his first Test century before the declaration, scoring 102 not out, as New Zealand recorded their fifth highest all-time Test total.

Starting the day 11 runs behind the tourists’ first-innings total, the hosts picked up where they left off yesterday with Nicholls bringing up his century off 213 balls for 315-3.

Limping between the creases, Nicholls dug deep to navigate the new ball and went on the attack, hitting the first six of the innings, as Williamson surged past 7,000 career Test runs.

The Black Caps skipper was once again putting on a clinic, punching his 21st boundary back past Naseem Shah to bring up the 300 partnership from 459 balls.

The 30-year-old continued to rack up the milestones, reaching 150 in 247 balls, and bringing up 400 on the final ball of the session as the hosts headed to lunch 103 runs ahead.

Let’s face it. Melbourne Stars batsman Andre Fletcher has not set the Big Bash League alight with his batting. The Grenadian batsman, who has been opening for the Stars, has a top score of 18 in seven outings. And, after scores of 10, 10, 18, 4, 6, 12 and 12, few would argue with the growing consensus that he should be to be dropped.

However, he showed on Sunday - with two spectacular catches against the Hobart Hurricanes - that his value extends well beyond his batting skills, as he twice helped swing the match in favour of the Stars, who eked out a close 10-run victory.

Fletcher made 10 of the Melbourne Stars’ 183 for 6 from their 20 overs, thanks mainly to Marcus Stoinis’ unbeaten 55-ball 97 that included seven fours and seven sixes; 36 from Hilton Cartwright and 26 from the in-form Nicholas Pooran.

Riley Meredith, who had Fletcher caught behind after his four-ball stay at the crease ended with 2 for 25 but it was Nathan Ellis, who dismissed Cartwright and Pooran, who was the Hurricanes’ best bowler with 3 for 31.

Daunting as the target might have seemed, Ben McDermott seemed headed to make light work of it with a blazing knock of 91 off just 58 balls and included eight fours and five sixes. It was while going for his sixth six that Fletcher intervened, changing the direction of the match in the process.

On the last ball of the 19th over, Liam Hatcher (1 for 45) served up a thigh-high full toss wide outside off McDermott, who flayed it flat over extra cover. Fletcher, known as the Spiceman, raced close to 10m to his left before taking off like Superman to hold on to a spectacular catch to have the Hurricanes at 163 for 5.

Fletcher’s blinder was his second of the match.

At the fall of the Hurricanes’ second wicket, that of Dawid Malan for 26 with the score 89, Colin Ingram and McDermott flayed the Stars’ bowling to all parts putting together a 50-run stand in just 22 balls.

It was a partnership that was threatening to take the match away from the visitors when in the 17th over, Billy Stanlake (1 for 41) bowled one full and wide. Ingram sliced it in the air over extra cover. Fletcher charged in, misread the flight of the ball and then adjusted as the ball began to tail away towards the boundary rope.

At the last minute, Fletcher dove to his right and snatched the ball inches off the ground before breaking out into a celebratory dance.

It was then 139 for 3, with the Hurricanes still in the hunt until Fletcher struck out in the field once more.

Dimuth Karunaratne holds the key to Sri Lanka salvaging the second Test with South Africa as the tourists reached 150-4 at stumps on day two - a second-innings lead of just five runs.

Having collapsed to 157 all out in their first innings, Sri Lanka saw Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen build on their overnight stand of 114.

The pair added another 70, Elgar registering his 13th Test century and Van der Dussen eventually dismissed for 67.

But a maiden five-wicket haul in Tests from left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando (5-101) in Johannesburg saw the Proteas collapse from 218-1 to 302 all out, denting their hopes of closing out a 2-0 series win.

A heavy defeat still looked the most likely outcome for Sri Lanka when Kusal Perera fell in the third over of their second innings.

Yet captain Karunaratne counter-attacked in thrilling fashion to post 91 at the close and ensure this side hold a slim advantage with six wickets still in hand.

Elgar knocked a Vishwa delivery past point to bring up three figures and at that moment there was little sign of the chaos to follow, with Van der Dussen easing to a half-century.

The opener eventually edged Dushmantha Chameera to first slip as his innings was ended on 127. Van der Dussen followed in short order, deemed to have gloved Dasun Shanaka behind on review.

Lungi Ngidi (3-26) went round the wicket to remove Perera, the seamer going on to account for Lahiru Thirimanne (31) and Kusal Mendis (0).

However, Sri Lanka - who lost Minod Bhanuka to a stunning Keshav Maharaj catch off first-innings tormenter Anrich Nortje - found hope at the top of the innings in the form of Karunaratne, whose 116-ball stay at the crease has so far yielded 17 fours.

Sri Lanka have little room left for error, though, and will hope the skipper and Niroshan Dickwella (18 not out) can guide them towards a total that Vishwa and an on-form attack at least have a chance of defending.

Moeen Ali has tested positive for coronavirus upon arrival in Sri Lanka, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced.

Ali and the rest of the England Test squad were checked at the airport in Hambantota on Sunday after flying in ahead of the two-match series, which gets underway on January 14.

The all-rounder will now observe a 10-day period of self-isolation, while team-mate Chris Woakes will isolate for a minimum of seven days after being deemed a possible close contact.

Further testing of the rest of the party will be carried out on Tuesday, with England's players then due to begin training the following day.

"Ali will now observe a period of 10-days self-isolation, in accordance with the Sri Lanka government's protocol on quarantine," a statement from the ECB read.

"Chris Woakes has been deemed as a possible close contact, and he will observe a period of self-isolation and further testing.

"The touring party will be PCR tested for a second time on Tuesday morning. At this stage, the team will train for the first time on Wednesday."

England selected a 16-man squad for the series in Sri Lanka, though seven reserves were also announced for the trip to help cover for potential absences.

The white-ball tour to South Africa in December was cut short due to a number of COVID-19 cases within the bubble shared by the two teams.

While the three-match Twenty20 series against the Proteas was completed, the one-day games scheduled had to be cancelled.

Kane Williamson continued his impressive form to give New Zealand control of the second Test against Pakistan on Monday.

Williamson scored his 24th Test century and second in as many Tests on a strong day two for the Black Caps at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

The right-hander finished the day unbeaten on 112 as New Zealand reached 286-3, trailing Pakistan by just 11 runs, with Henry Nicholls (89) also not out.

Williamson, who moved top of the ICC rankings for Test batsmen last week, was scratchy early before accelerating.

He needed 105 balls to reach his half-century but just another 35 to bring up his ton.

It came after Pakistan put themselves in a promising position by reducing the hosts, who lead the two-Test series 1-0, to 71-3.

The wickets of Tom Latham (33), Tom Blundell (16) and Ross Taylor (12) had Pakistan on a high, and they should have had Nicholls cheaply.

The left-hander was caught by Mohammad Rizwan on three, but Shaheen Afridi (1-45) overstepped.

Williamson and Nicholls attacked as the day went on and Pakistan had their troubles in the field, the former edging through Shan Masood and Haris Sohail in the slips on 82.

Masood dropped Williamson after the star New Zealander passed his century before Rizwan put down an easy chance off Nicholls – then on 86 – off Shaheen.

Nicholls hurt his calf late in the day but managed to get to stumps alongside Williamson on an excellent day for the Black Caps.

Crowd capacity for the Sydney Test between Australia and India starting on Thursday has been reduced to 25 per cent.

Questions were raised over the venue of the third Test after a coronavirus outbreak in New South Wales.

The clash will go ahead at the SCG, but on Monday it was announced the crowd capacity had been cut from 50 per cent to 25.

"In response to the public health situation in NSW, we are working closely with Venues NSW and NSW Health to put appropriate biosecurity measures in place for our staff, players, match officials, broadcasters and fans to ensure we play the third Test at the SCG safely," Cricket Australia (CA) interim chief executive Nick Hockley said.

"Reducing the capacity of the venue is crucial in achieving social distancing requirements, and we sincerely thank ticketholders for their patience, as we process refunds today, reconfigure the SCG seating plan to deliver these social distancing measures and go back on sale."

The four-Test series is locked at 1-1, with some doubts now over the venue for the final match – due to be held in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, Australia paceman James Pattinson has been ruled out of the Sydney Test due to bruised ribs suffered in a fall at home.

West Indies One Day International (ODI) captain for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh, Jason Mohammed, hopes to bring a sense of calm to the team ahead of what is expected to be a difficult match-up next month.

A quick glance at the record books will tell you that the hastily selected second-string unit is expected to have a difficult trip to Asia. The West Indies has won just one of the last seven ODIs against Bangladesh.  The most recent loss saw Bangladesh stroll to a comfortable 7-wicket win at the 2019 World Cup.  With several first-team players, including West Indies captain Jason Holder, in-form batsman Shai Hope, in the 50-over version anyway, and the explosive Shimron Hetmeyer are just a few of the players missing from the squad.  Their replacements will be short on experience.

While admitting that results will not be easy to come by for the series, Mohammed hopes to at least lead the team to consistent and calm performances.

“What I can bring to the table is being calm.  That’s one of the things that get us in trouble.  Speaking for myself, as an experienced player, sometimes when we overthink the situation, we just don’t stay calm in certain situations like bowling in the right areas, shot selections,” Mohammed told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“A lot has been said about the team going but I don’t think there will be a lot of pressure on us as players because at the end of the day we are going to represent the West Indies.  We still have a job to do.”

 

West Indies ODI Squad

Jason Mohammed (captain)

Sunil Ambris (vice-captain)

Nkrumah Bonner

Joshua Da Silva

Jahmar Hamilton

Chemar Holder

Akeal Hosein

Alzarri Joseph

Kyle Mayers

Andre McCarthy

Kjorn Ottley

Rovman Powell

Raymon Reifer

Romario Shepherd

Hayden Walsh jr

 

 

 

 

Anrich Nortje claimed career-best bowling figures as South Africa dominated the opening day of the second Test against depleted Sri Lanka in Johannesburg.

Nortje finished with 6-56 as the tourists were dismissed for 157 in just 40.3 overs, with the Proteas already closing in on that below-par total as they were on 148-1 in reply by the close.

Dean Elgar finished up unbeaten on 92, in the process becoming just the 10th South Africa batsman to reach 4,000 Test runs.

The left-handed opener combined with Rassie van der Dussen – who will resume on Monday on 40 not out – to share in an unbroken second-wicket stand worth 114.

Sri Lanka handed debuts to Minod Bhanuka and Asitha Fernando as injuries forced changes to the team that had lost the series opener by an innings at Centurion.

Kusal Perera top scored with 60 from 67 deliveries in their innings but, having made it to 71-1, his dismissal sparked a collapse, a middle order missing Dhananjaya de Silva and Dinesh Chandimal – who both scored half-centuries in the first Test – crumbling.

The visitors lost their final nine wickets for just 86 runs, the impressive Nortje rattling through the tail to claim his second five-wicket haul in the format.

Wiaan Mulder ended the innings with 3-25, including taking two in an over, while the other wicket was picked up by Lutho Sipamla. Despite being passed fit following a groin injury, Kagiso Rabada was not recalled to the team.

Fernando claimed his first Test wicket when Aiden Markram was caught at second slip for five, though that was the solitary success for Sri Lanka's new-look attack.

Elgar hit 16 boundaries to close in on a 13th Test century; he will no doubt be eager to get there on day two, having been dismissed for 95 in the previous match.

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