SA Rugby and Cricket South Africa have welcomed the decision for players to be able to return to training as part of revised lockdown regulations in the country. 

Nathi Mthethwa, minister for sports, arts and culture, announced the changes at a media briefing on Saturday, with non-contact sports cleared to resume both training and playing.  

As for contact sports, Mthethwa revealed while reporting on the department’s COVID-19 sector relief fund that they will be able to go back in a staggered, controlled manner. 

All professional teams now have 14 days to submit proposals to explain how they will ensure the safety of players and officials. 

"This is the news sport has been waiting to hear as it allows us to begin to ramp up preparations for an eventual return to play," said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby. 

"We submitted a comprehensive, staged return-to-play protocols document to the department five weeks ago and we are ready to begin medical screening of players immediately. 

"We will seek further clarity from the department on the application of the guidelines as they apply to contact training. 

"But this is an opportunity for our players to enhance their lockdown training regimes by increasing their fitness work for an eventual return to play."

South Africa’s cricketers can also now prepare to resume training again, though no individual will be forced to do so if they are not comfortable with the current situation.

The updated conditions only apply to the professional game, too.

"This is a big boost for the operational side of our cricket," commented Cricket South Africa's acting chief executive Jacques Faul.  

He added: “I have already had discussions with the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) and I would like to stress that no player, coach, support staff or administrator will be forced to return to training if they are uncomfortable with it at this stage.”

Christopher Henry Gayle is arguably the greatest One-Day International batsman the West Indies has ever produced but today his innings in the Ultimate XI ODI edition came up short.

Gayle had, yesterday, avoided the cut and made the final six among contestants vying for the honour of being one of the two best openers the game has ever seen.

According to the SportsMax panel of experts, Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar would form the greatest partnership the game to ever grace an ODI cricket pitch.

That would leave other greats like South Africa’s Hashim Amla, Sri Lankan legend Tillakaratne Dilshan, Pakistan’s Saeed Anwar, and, of course, Gayle as bystanders.

According to the SportsMax Zone, Sharma and Tendulkar are also the best it could come up with from the shortlist of 12, of course, the Zone did not do the culling of the herd the panel did yesterday.

For the unitiated, Rohit Sharma has scored as many ODI double hundreds as there are people who have scored them, while Tendulkar is by far and away, the heaviest ODI runscorer in the history of the sport and their picks may be hard to disagree with.

Unless, of course, you’re a Fanalyst.

Fanalysts have, so far, chosen Chris Gayle as one of their two openers and have also disagreed with the choice of Tendulkar to be the man to join him, instead going for Sharma.

Tendulkar, is at this point, the reserve option for the Fanalysts, but that could all change.

Have your say in the conversation by going to SportsMax.tv and clicking on the banner, or following the link here.

World Rugby has ruled out the possibility of holding an international invitational tournament in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2021 to provide relief following the coronavirus pandemic.

Former Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron had proposed the one-off 16-team competition to raise money "for keeping the game of rugby alive around the world", with sport suspended in recent months due to the global crisis.

The event, held in the UK in order to avoid disrupting France's 2023 Rugby World Cup preparations, would see 31 matches across June and July and prompt the postponement of the British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa.

The suggested tournament - dubbed the 'Coronavirus Cup of World Rugby' as Baron revealed his plan to the Telegraph - would reportedly aim to bring in up to £250million to support the sport as it recovers from the pandemic.

However, the  idea has been dismissed by governing body World Rugby.

A statement read: "World Rugby notes a proposal by former RFU CEO Francis Baron suggesting the organisation of a major international rugby event in the UK in 2021 to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on global rugby.

"World Rugby does not intend to pursue such a proposal.

"All stakeholders continue to progress productive discussions regarding the immediate global COVID-19 financial relief strategy and international rugby calendar optimisation, both of which will further the success of Rugby World Cup 2023 in France."

World Rugby has already postponed all July Tests and set aside a $100million relief fund in a bid to assist those struggling the most.

A batsman of breathtaking enterprise, AB De Villiers was a cricketer overflowing with talent and the temperament to back it up.

De Villiers is a 360-degree batsman who can hit any ball, anywhere, against any bowler. Indeed, his range of inventive shots has grown as his career has unfolded.

He has been ranked among the top Test and ODI batsmen in the world.

He holds the records for the fastest 50 (16 balls), 100 (31 balls) and 150 (64 balls) of all time in One Day Internationals by any batsmen, and also holds the fastest hundred by a South African in Tests and the fastest 50 by a South African in T20Is.

He is a three-time ICC ODI player of the year, winning the award in 2010, 2014 and 2015.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Abraham Benjamin de Villiers

Born: February 17, 1984, Pretoria

Major teams: South Africa, Africa XI, Barbados Tridents, Botha XI, Brisbane Heat, Delhi Daredevils, Jacques Kallis Invitational XI, Lahore Qalandars, Middlesex, North Eastern Transvaal, Northerns, Pretoria University, Proteas, Rangpur Riders, Rest of South Africa, Royal Challengers Bangalore, South Africa A, South Africa Under-19s, Titans, Tshwane Spartans

Playing role: Wicketkeeper batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Fielding position: Wicketkeeper

 

ODI Career: South Africa (2005-2018)

Mat        Inns        NO         Runs      HS          Ave        BF           SR         100s        50s     Ct        St

228          218        39           9577      176        53.50     9473      101.09          25          53     176        5

 

Career Highlights

  • Holds the record for the fastest ODI century (31 balls)
  • Holds the record for the fastest ODI 50 (16 balls)
  • Holds the record for the fastest ODI 150 (64 balls)
  • Named ICC ODI Player of the Year thrice

Regarded as one of the greatest opening batsmen of all time, South Africa’s Hashim Amla currently holds the record for being the fastest ever to 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 ODI runs. He also became the fastest cricketer to reach 10 ODI centuries.

His ODI history is a repository of records.

Having made his debut against Bangladesh in March 2008, Hamla quickly established himself as a class above the rest and by 2014, he had become the fastest cricketer to reach 15 ODI centuries, doing so in 86 innings.

That year he also became the fastest cricketer to reach 16 centuries, achieving the feat in his 94th ODI inning and fastest cricketer to 17 centuries in ODIs in his 98th innings.

On January 18, 2015, he became the fastest cricketer to score 18 centuries in ODIs in his 102nd innings. He was also the fastest to 20 ODI centuries.

Amla has scored ODI centuries against all Test-playing countries and is only the fourth person to do so.

 

Career Statistics

Name: Hashim Amla    

Born: March 31, 1983, Durban, Natal

Major teams: South Africa, Barbados Tridents, Cape Cobras, Derbyshire, Dolphins, Essex, Khulna Tigers, Kings XI Punjab, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa XI, Trinbago Knight Riders, World-XI

Playing role: Top-order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

 

ODI Career: (2008-2019)

Mat        Inns        NO         Runs      HS     Ave        BF           SR           100s        50s           4s           6s              

181         178          14          8113      159    49.46     9178        88.39          27           39           822          53  

 

Career Highlights

  • Fastest to 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 ODI runs
  • Fastest to 25 ODI centuries
  • 1st South African to score 25 centuries in ODIs
  • 4th cricketer to score 25 centuries in both Test and ODI cricket

Dean Elgar would be open to taking the South Africa Test captaincy and believes his experience should stand him in good stead for the role.

Over three months after Faf du Plessis stepped down as skipper, there has been no confirmation of a successor.

Quinton de Kock took over as white-ball captain, but South Africa director of cricket Graeme Smith stated that he would not lead his country in the longest format.

Aiden Markram has expressed his desire to take charge of the Test side and his opening partner Elgar suggested he would not turn down the chance to replace Du Plessis.

Elgar, who turns 33 next month, said in an interview released by Cricket South Africa on Monday: "I have done the captaincy thing in the past and I have done it from school level and provincial level‚ and now in a few professional franchise teams‚ and I have extremely enjoyed it.

"If I was asked to do the captaincy‚ definitely I will think hard and long about it because it would mean a lot to me."

The left-hander, who has twice stepped up to captain the Test side, thinks both his leadership experience and playing alongside influential characters can only be a positive.

He added: "I think my learning has definitely been quite vast in that regard because of the personnel that I have had before me in the change room.

"It has definitely been an eye-opener for me‚ a great learning curve‚ which I am extremely grateful for.

"As a person you never stop growing really. There is still a lot of growth coming and hopefully what I have learned I can pass it on to the younger guys."

The Rugby Championship could be played in a hub in Australia due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Rugby Australia (RA) interim chief executive Rob Clarke.

With travel restrictions in place around the world due to COVID-19, a new format could be needed if Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina are to play the annual tournament.

The possibility of all teams relocating to Australia, which has more than 7,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 102 deaths, is an option.

Clarke, named RA interim CEO earlier this month, said Australia could host every team later in the year.

"We can do it in the October-November timeframe," he told The Daily Telegraph.

"If we can fly international teams into a hub like Australia that sits in the middle of our territories, and put together a competition structure that might well be more towards a Rugby World Cup-type structure where there might be midweek games and weekend games, try to condense it as much as possible, we're looking at that as a potential solution.''

South Africa won the Rugby Championship last year, ending the All Blacks' run of three straight.

Ten of the leading international rugby union teams are exploring the possibility of a new aligned schedule.

South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina - the nations that make up SANZAAR - and the half a dozen countries that compete in the Six Nations are aiming to collaborate for the sport's benefit.

Several unions have been affected by the impact of coronavirus, with World Rugby having postponed all July Tests and setting aside a $100million relief fund in a bid to assist those struggling the most.

Now discussions are ongoing between SANZAAR and Six Nations boards over a new calendar designed to limit club-versus-country rows and create more lucrative games between the world's best teams.

A joint statement read: "Even though there may be different preferences, from the outset the nations have adopted a mindset that has sought to eliminate self-interest and recognise that the international and club game have shared mutual benefits that if approached and managed correctly can enable both to flourish."

It added: "The nations, together with other key stakeholders, remain open to shape the options that have been developed in an effort to resolve an issue that has held the game back for many years and are committed to putting rugby on a progressive path."

Last month World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont suggested a Nations Championship - similar to cricket's recently formed ICC Test Championship - could get off the ground after being met with initial resistance.

 

Cricket South Africa's (CSA) director of cricket Graeme Smith believes there is a "very good chance" the T20 World Cup will go ahead early in 2021.

The event, which is scheduled to take place in Australia between October 18 and November 15 this year, remains in doubt due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Smith says the Proteas are preparing for all eventualities.

"If it does get postponed, we're looking at February or March next year," he told reporters on Thursday.

"We are consistently looking at strategies for tours, what the FTP [Future Tours Programme] looks like, what our focus is going to be over the next period of time.

"We'll have to assess players on form, as was always going to be the case. When that event comes around, we will look at what the best squad is that we could possibly send to give us an opportunity to win the trophy.

"I think the key at the moment, across the board from players to coaches and operational staff, is to try and make sure that we're ready for when the opportunity arises to play cricket again and then we'll have to assess players quickly.

"The hope was that we would have 14 T20 games before the World Cup in October and that's not going to happen anymore. There is a very good chance it's going to be shifted into the beginning of next year, so we'll have to consistently assess.

"There are so many things up in the air, so the key is just to be ready."

CSA CEO Jacques Faul believes delaying the tournament would not necessarily have a huge financial impact.

"The T20 World Cups gets sold and the money is essentially distributed to the members," he said. 

"I don't think a delay in the tournament would lead to a cut of that funding. As long as it takes place within the same financial year, then it should be fine. 

"If it doesn't take place or if it is delayed for a longer period, then it would have an impact."

South African batsman Abraham Benjamin de Villiers was just an excellent athlete. As a fielder he was superb and when he took the gloves there was no difference between himself and a wicketkeeper who had spent all their career behind the stumps. AB de Villiers is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s greatest cricketers. Batting from anywhere from one to eight in the South Africa line-up, his versatility as a batsman is world-renowned. Over the course of 114 Tests, de Villiers would end up with an average of 50.66, 8,765 runs, 22 hundreds and 46 half-centuries, a career with the bat that anybody could be proud of.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Abraham Benjamin de Villiers

Born: February 17, 1984, Pretoria

Major teams: South Africa, Africa XI, Barbados Tridents, Botha XI, Brisbane Heat, Delhi Daredevils, Jacques Kallis Invitational XI, Lahore Qalandars, Middlesex, North Eastern Transvaal, Northerns, Pretoria University, Proteas, Rangpur Riders, Rest of South Africa, Royal Challengers Bangalore, South Africa A, South Africa Under-19s, Titans, Tshwane Spartans

Playing role: Wicketkeeper batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium

Fielding position: Wicketkeeper

 

Test Career:   South Africa (2004-2018)

 Mat   Inns    NO     Runs     HS      Ave     BF          SR      100s    50s    Ct      St

114    191      18      8765      278*   50.66   16077    54.51     22       46    222      5

 

Career Highlights

  • Played 24 Tests as a wicket-keeper/batsman
  • Highest batting average for a wicket-keeper (57.42)
  • 7 of his 22 hundreds came as a wicket-keeper
  • 7 of his 46 fifties came as a wicket-keeper

A quick look at the stats of legendary South African all-rounder suggests that he should not just routinely be part of conversations that speak about the best all-rounder of all-time but perhaps the best of all-time.

Instead, it seems the South African has been found short of ground in another routine legend ranking discussion, finishing behind the incomparable Garfield Sobers and it seems struggling to finish ahead of Imran Khan, in the latest Ultimate XI Test cricket all-rounder choice.

Let’s get this straight, if Kallis is to come up short it will certainly never be on the weight of his statistics.

The batsman’s Test record compares favourably with almost any other batsman of modern times.  In terms of run scored, his total of 13,289 is third on the all-time list, bettered by only Ricky Ponting (13,378) and Sachin Tendulkar (15,921). 

In fact, Kallis has scored some 1,336 more runs than Brian Lara, a man who is generally considered as one of the four best batsmen of all time, and in some instances, the best. In terms of averages, he has a higher average than Lara, Tendulkar, Dravid, and Ponting. Compared to batsmen who have made debuts in the past 30 years, only Kumar Sangakkara, Steve Smith, and Adam Voges (who only played 20 Tests) can top Kallis’ career average of 55.37.

His 45 Test centuries is second on the all-time list behind Tendulkar’s 51 and four ahead of Ponting and lest we forget he was just short of 300 Test wickets with 292 at 32.65.

But, despite constantly etching his name above the greats some have found it easy to dismiss Kallis's case because he lacked one factor many of his contemporaries possess. He was unspectacular.

The South African simply got the job done with very little fanfare. Best summed up in his own words; “I think it was my personality. I never really enjoyed the limelight, I liked going about my business and just getting on with the job. I never played the game for accolades or anything like that.”

For some, that has been enough to relegate one of the greatest players of a generation to a mere consideration, or well below what his achievements merit in the debate on greatness, but it shouldn’t be.

World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit's future is up in the air after he requested to have his Stormers contract cancelled.

The South Africa flanker asked for his deal to be torn up before a 21-day window closed on Thursday.

Du Toit's team-mates Cobus Wiese and Jean-Luc du Plessis also submitted terminations notices, an option players were given in South Africa as part of cost-cutting measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The trio remain on the books of the Super Rugby franchise, though, as they are still contracted to Western Province Rugby and are set to hold talks over their futures.

A Stormers statement said: "There were just three players – Pieter-Steph du Toit, Cobus Wiese and Jean-Luc du Plessis – who submitted termination notices before the deadline on May 14.

"As previously indicated by WP Rugby, the existing contracts between the players and the company are considered as binding and WP Rugby has reserved the right to hold players to these contracts or exercise other rights that may be held.

"These options will be discussed with the players that have purportedly cancelled their contracts and more information about the course of action will be provided in future."

Hooker Malcolm Marx was another member of the Springboks Rugby World Cup winning squad who asked for his contract to be cancelled and is on the move from the Lions.

World Rugby has taken the decision to postpone all international rugby matches scheduled for July because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Reigning Rugby World Cup holders South Africa had been due to face Scotland and Georgia, while England were set to tour Japan and New Zealand had been scheduled to host Wales and Scotland.

However, all of those matches, and Ireland's tour of Australia, have been postponed with no new dates set.

A statement from World Rugby read: "Extended travel and quarantine restrictions that apply to numerous countries, and concerns over adequate player preparation time, mean that any sort of cross-border international rugby competition cannot be hosted in July.

"Monitoring of the potential impact on the remaining 2020 international windows continues in collaboration with international rugby stakeholders and the respective authorities.  

"All parties, including member unions, international competitions, professional club competitions and International Rugby Players, will be involved in the evaluation of potential contingency options with a view to achieving an aligned calendar for the remainder of the year.

"All decision-making will be entirely contingent on national government travel, quarantine and health advice and important player welfare and hosting considerations in line with return-to-rugby guidance recently published by World Rugby."

Rugby Australia's general manager Ben Whitaker had previously suggested that games could be rescheduled for October.

International rugby has been on hold since March when the Six Nations was halted with four matches still to play.

The financial impact of having no games has already severely impacted the unions in Australia and the USA, with World Rugby having set up a $100million relief fund.

 

Jason Gillespie remains hopeful the ICC T20 World Cup will go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic, while he sees a route for domestic cricket to not only survive but thrive in unprecedented circumstances.

The seventh edition of the T20 tournament is due to take place in Australia during October and November, though the ongoing global health crisis has raised logistical issues that have put the event in doubt.

Different guidelines will affect when players can return to practice due to the risks posed by COVID-19 in each country, while the international fixture list for 2020 has been decimated.

Then there are potential travel restrictions for those flying to Australia, with former South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis proposing a two-week quarantine period for players both before and after the World Cup.

Gillespie insists it should only go ahead if all countries can participate, but expects contingency plans are being put in place in case it needs to be moved.

"I'm still hopeful that we can have a tournament in one form or another," the former Australia fast bowler told Stats Perform. "Whether it's on when it's scheduled is another conversation, I think.

"My gut feeling would be potentially to push it back a little bit, but at the moment, I'm still hopeful that all the teams participating can do that. That will come down to the administrators, the authorities, to make the right calls at the time.

"But I think, at the moment, because there is a bit of time, I think we can assume things will go ahead, but I’m sure, behind the scenes, there'll be Plan B and Plan C in any situation that can crop up."

Gillespie should have been busy in his role as head coach at Sussex at this stage of the year, yet the 2020 English county season remains on hold.

However, there is the potential for a positive to emerge from the situation, according to Gillespie, as domestic teams around the world may suddenly benefit from having international stars available on a more regular basis.

“I'm trying to put a positive spin on this situation, and I think the one thing I keep coming back to is borders are essentially closed in all the countries, but local sport can play," he said.

"It's a really good opportunity for cricket. I think it's a wonderful opportunity for the various boards and Cricket Australia to really promote the fact that international players are going to play a fair chunk of the season for their respective states, which I think is absolutely fantastic.

"I’d be really pushing Sheffield Shield cricket hard [in Australia] and giving it a lot of coverage and promotion, because I think it's a wonderful competition.

"These days, international players don’t get to play much Sheffield Shield cricket. They love playing Sheffield Shield cricket, but with the schedules, it makes it very difficult, so I’d say really promote that.

"All around the world, can you imagine India having all their superstar players playing their domestic cricket? English cricket stars if cricket's able to played there, having all their international players; South African domestic cricket, Pakistan domestic cricket.

"All around the world, I think it could really give domestic competitions a shot in the arm, and that can only be really good for our sport.

"I'm sure a lot of people will be following domestic cricket if there is limited international cricket. Then the domestic game can not only survive, I think it can thrive."

Not only is Jacques Kallis one of the best allrounders in the history of the game, but he is also widely considered one of the best batsmen of all time.

Few players who belong to the modern age are a better fit for the notion of the classical cricketer. Kallis had at his disposal both a rock-solid technique and a mind impervious to distraction, characteristics that have allowed him to score more than 13,000 Test runs.

Kallis announced himself as a batsman of international stature in his seventh Test, the drawn Boxing Day epic at Melbourne in 1997 when he scored a fighting 101 on a worn last-day pitch. Not even Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne could dislodge him before he had all but saved the match for South Africa.

Kallis played 166 Test matches and had a batting average of over 55 runs per innings.

From October to December 2007, he scored five centuries in four Test matches. With his century in the second innings of the third Test against India in January 2011, his 40th in all, he moved past Ricky Ponting to become the second-highest scorer of Test centuries, behind only Sachin Tendulkar's 51.

Kallis was named Leading Cricketer in the World in the 2008 Wisden for his performances in 2007 in addition to being the ICC Test Player of the Year and ICC Player of the Year in 2005.

Kallis became the fourth player and first South African to score 13,000 Test runs on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand on January 2, 2013.

He was named one of the Wisden cricketers of the year in 2013.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Jacques Henry Kallis

Born: October 16, 1975, Pinelands, Cape Town, Cape Province

Major teams: South Africa, Africa XI, Cape Cobras, Glamorgan, ICC World XI, Kolkata Knight Riders, Middlesex, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sydney Thunder, Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel, Warriors, Western Province

Playing role: Allrounder

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm fast-medium

 

Test Career (Batting) - South Africa (1995-2013)

Mat    Inns    NO    Runs    HS    Ave      BF         SR        100s     50s          

166     280      40    13289   224   55.37    28903   45.97       45       58    

 

Career highlights

  • The only player to score 10, 000 runs and take over 200 wickets in both Tests and ODIs
  • Most Man of the Match Awards in Tests (23)
  • Amassed 13, 289 runs at an average of 55.37
  • Secured 292 wickets at 32.65

 

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