West Indies ODI and T20 captain Kieron Pollard rates his quick-fire 38 against Australia in semi-finals of the 2012 ICC World Cup as one of the best and most important performances of his career.

In its 2020 Almanack, Wisden has named Andre Russell as their leading Twenty20 cricketer in the world for 2019.

Australia coach Justin Langer is open to the idea of playing games behind closed doors once cricket can resume after the coronavirus pandemic.

Langer watched on as his side emphatically defeated New Zealand in a one-dayer played inside an empty Sydney Cricket Ground last month.

It was due to be the first of three matches between the trans-Tasman rivals, though the series was cut short due the COVID-19 outbreak as the Black Caps returned home in time to avoid quarantine restrictions.

While there is no immediate sign of a resumption to the international schedule, staging contests without any supporters could be a viable option in the future.

"The Australian cricket team are so fortunate to play in front of big crowds every time we play," Langer told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"But for the love of the game, and for still being able to entertain people through TV sets or radio, then there's value in that (playing behind closed doors).

"Yes, it's different, but we'll never, ever, ever take for granted how lucky we are, ever again. We are so lucky in what we do."

Australia are due to play a two-Test series in Bangladesh in June, followed by a limited-overs tour to the United Kingdom that runs into July.

 

Jos Buttler feels players will be open to everything, including two England matches being played in the same day, once cricket returns after the coronavirus pandemic.

The explosive batsman understands the importance of the revenue generated from international matches and a crowded schedule is likely if planned series' and tournaments in 2020 are to be salvaged.

Buttler believes players will be flexible in the instance of an intense run of fixtures, even if it meant days where there were multiple matches taking place.

He also thinks there will be a surge in fan interest after the break in sport, ensuring venues would sell out for games in quick succession.

"I think we have to be open to absolutely everything," Cricket World Cup winner Buttler said to talkSPORT. "It's so difficult to plan anything because everyone is in limbo with all things going on. 

"International cricket is going to be vital to the game and the revenue that comes into the game.

"If we can get any [cricket played], or as much as we can, if that means two games in the same day, then we have to be open to that.

"Everyone who is really missing their sport, hopefully when this is all over we will all appreciate it even more and want to flock to the grounds to all the different sports to watch the games. 

"I'm sure you could fill up two grounds if you had two teams playing on the same day."

Buttler is in the process of auctioning off the shirt he was wearing when he sealed England's historic World Cup final win over New Zealand.

The 29-year-old was wearing the shirt, which has been signed by his team-mates, when he ran Martin Guptill out to conclude a dramatic Super Over at Lord's last July.

It will provide much-needed funds for the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity, which launched an emergency appeal to provide life-saving equipment for COVID-19 sufferers.

The highest bid now stands at £65,800, delighting Buttler, who added: "I'm auctioning off my World Cup shirt and it's obviously gone way better than I thought it would already.

"It’s an amazing amount of money. The charity that supports the hospitals started an emergency fund to buy emergency equipment they need now because of the increase in patients due to the outbreak.

"We thought that auctioning the shirt would be a great way to raise money for that."

The owners of Indian Premier League franchises have discussed the possibility of staging games behind closed doors this year, according to Manoj Badale.

The 13th edition of the world's premier Twenty20 competition was due to begin this week, but it was postponed until April 15 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Badale, one of the co-owners of Rajasthan Royals, revealed one of the mooted options has been contesting fixtures without fans present, which he feels may be a necessary evil.

"Both conversations between the owners and the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India], that's already been discussed," Badale told BBC 5 live.

"As with the English Premier League, the atmosphere is a huge part of the spectacle, but, again, these are unprecedented times and sport needs to be put in the right perspective overall.

"If the way of ensuring the cricket economy survives is by playing behind closed doors, so be it."

There have been only 1,251 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India, fewer than Luxembourg.

So, while staging the IPL in the coming weeks would seem unfathomable to many in Europe, Badale said there is still a belief the tournament could be held in two months' time.

"In India the COVID phenomenon has only really just landed so when we have our owners' conference calls, there's still an expectation that there may be a way of the games being played in June," he added.

"Personally I can't see it happening until much later in the year."

That would have an impact on an already congested cricket calendar, especially as the T20 World Cup is due to start in October.

Yet Badale emphasised the financial value of the IPL to the sport.

"Fundamentally, to the cricket economy - not just to the Indian cricket economy, but to the global cricket economy - the IPL is incredibly important," he said.

"Not just what it means for players, but what it means for the supply chain that a $600m-a-year tournament creates."

The Caribbean Premier League is holding to its intended start date of August 19 amid concerns over the pandemic that has so far seen most sporting activities shut down. For now, they say, the season will proceed as planned.

England's home Test series against West Indies might be salvaged and the domestic season should not be considered a write-off, officials insisted on Friday.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has suspended the start of its 2020 campaign until May 28 at the earliest because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But it is working towards a June launch, which would mean the three-Test duel with West Indies goes ahead as planned, with matches at The Oval, Edgbaston and Lord's.

The ECB is wary June may yet prove too soon to resume, but there exists the possibility of staging matches without spectators, with a pointed aim to protect "the most financially important forms of the game".

In a statement, the ECB said it had "begun modelling a range of options to start the season in June, July or August", with June cricket the immediate focus in the hope the money-spinning T20 Blast would also survive, along with England Women's matches against India.

The ECB added: "Close liaison with the Government will continue, with discussions on the potential of starting the season behind closed doors and giving sports fans the opportunity to live broadcast action.

"The potential for reduced versions of competitions, should the season become further truncated, will also be discussed."

The ECB will also be eager to see its inaugural and Hundred domestic competition held, with its dates spanning July and August.

That and the T20 Blast could provide major financial boosts for the sport, which is poised to be hard-hit, along with so many others, by the COVID-19 crisis. Traditionalists may fear the County Championship will be low on this season's list of priorities.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, said: "Securing the future of the game will be a primary focus as we plot a revised schedule with an emphasis on the most financially important forms of the game for the counties across international and domestic cricket."

Windies star Chris Gayle has continued to give indications that he does not intend to retire anytime soon, this time expressing the desire to score another ten T20 centuries.

The 40-year-old West Indies talisman is already at the top of the list with 14923 runs inclusive of 24 centuries.  Gayle had expressed thoughts about the possibility of retiring after the last World Cup, before picking a series in the West Indies against India as a final swansong.

The player has, however, apparently now had a complete change of heart even pushing back at some of those who have suggested it could be time to step aside. Gayle has since insisted, in various interviews, that he is feeling good and hopes to play another five years.  In responding to a celebration of his achievements by cricket statistic website Crictracker, who pointed out the achievement of the most T20 centuries, Gayle insisted that there was more to come.

“10 more to come!” the player said in response to the celebratory tweet.  With the World Cup fast approaching, Gayle has been out of action for his international team since last year but has continued to participate in various T20 leagues around the world.  He is expected to take part in the upcoming IPL campaign.

India's remaining two ODIs against South Africa have been postponed as the spread of coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar across the world.

The first ODI on Thursday was abandoned without a ball being bowled in Dharamsala due to bad weather.

And the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced on Friday the meetings in Lucknow on Sunday and Kolkata on March 18 - both scheduled to be played behind closed doors - will not go ahead as the COVID-19 threat grows.

South Africa will now visit India at a later date to play a three-match series.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed on Friday the IPL, due to get underway on March 29, will now begin on April 15.

There have been more than 80 confirmed cases of coronavirus in India, resulting in one death.

The first ODI international between India and South Africa was abandoned without a ball being bowled in Dharamsala.

Both teams suffered the same fate at the same venue six months ago when they were set to meet in a T20I showdown.

The washout means the three-match series will head to Lucknow on Sunday all square.

Bangladesh eased to a 2-0 series win over Zimbabwe as Liton Das' unbeaten 60 paved the way for a routine nine-wicket triumph in Wednesday's Twenty20 in Dhaka.

Brendan Taylor's haul of 59 not out from 48 deliveries at least helped Zimbabwe post a total of 119-7 from their 20 overs.

Das and fellow opener Mohammad Naim swiftly set to work dismantling that total, moving Bangladesh onto 77 before the latter picked out deep midwicket off Chris Mpofu.

But Das – man of the match and player of the series – was in no mood to hand Zimbabwe any more hope and, after two boundaries in succession, brought up his fifty with a single flicked towards fine leg.

Soumya Sarkar wasted little time in settling in, sending Wesley Madhevere for six before smashing a maximum off Mpofu to tie Bangladesh level, and a single two balls later secured a sixth straight victory for Bangladesh across all formats.

"I think the we way played, the way we have been consistent, that has been very pleasing," Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah said at the post-match presentation.

"Especially the way Liton showed consistency and hunger, really happy for him too. The hunger was there. Last couple of series we were not up to the mark. We are trying to build up the confidence for the World Cup."

Kevin O'Brien hit a match-winning six as Ireland defeated Afghanistan in a dramatic super over to avoid a Twenty20 series whitewash.

With all three matches being played in Greater Noida, India, the series outcome was already decided after the opening two contests were won by Afghanistan, but that did not prevent a thrilling finale.

Ireland posted 142-8 after winning the toss and electing to bat, Afghanistan debutant Qais Ahmad and Naveen-ul-Haq combining for six wickets as Gareth Delany top-scored with 37.

In response, an innings of 42 from opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz set up an intriguing run chase which left his side needing 16 off the final over.

It looked like it was all over for Afghanistan when captain Asghar Afghan (32) was dismissed with three balls left and 13 runs still needed. 

But Rashid Khan, helped by two wides from bowler Josh Little, hit a four off the last delivery to thrillingly force a super over as they ended on 142-7.

Craig Young then superbly restricted Afghanistan to only eight and although Ireland initially stumbled, leaving them needing three off the final ball, man-of-the-match O'Brien cleared the ropes.

Soumya Sarkar hit an unbeaten 62 as Bangladesh eased to a 48-run victory over Zimbabwe in the first Twenty20 International.

Sarkar's 32-ball innings, which included four fours and five sixes, helped propel Bangladesh to 200-3 in Dhaka. All five batsmen reached double figures, Liton Das also scoring a half-century with his 39-ball 59.

Zimbabwe wilted in response as they were bowled out for 152 with an over to spare. Mustafizur Rahman and Aminul Islam took three wickets apiece, with debutants Tinashe Kamunhukamwe (28) and Carl Mumba (25) the pick of the batsmen for the tourists.

The series comes to a close on Wednesday when the second and final match takes place at the same venue.

Afghanistan defeated Ireland by 21 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Twenty20 series.

Captain Asghar Afghan led the way with 49 from just 28 deliveries as Afghanistan – who won a rain-hit opening game between the teams on Friday - posted 184-4 in Greater Noida.

Openers Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz made 28 and 35 respectively while Mohammad Nabi contributed 27, with all Afghanistan's batsmen reaching double figures against an attack that used seven different bowlers.

Ireland’s reply was restricted by Mujeeb Ur Rahman, the spinner dismissing opening duo Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien on his way to figures of 3-38 from four overs.

Andy Balbirnie top-scored with 46 and Harry Tector hit 37, the latter becoming the last of Mujeeb's wickets, but they came well short in the final reckoning, finishing on 163-6.

Afghanistan will have the chance to complete a sweep when the third and final T20 takes place on Tuesday at the same venue.

Australia captain Meg Lanning praised her team for coming through "tough times" to emphatically win the Women's T20 World Cup on home soil.

Alyssa Healy smashed 75 from 39 balls and opening partner Beth Mooney top-scored with an unbeaten 78 as Australia posted 184-4 in Melbourne, a total that proved well beyond India's reach as they were all out for 99 in reply.

However, while they triumphed by the huge margin of 85 runs in the final, it had not always been plain sailing for Lanning and her squad during the tournament.

They lost to India in their opening match in the group stage and, already without Tayla Vlaeminck due to a fractured foot, were dealt a further blow when Ellyse Perry suffered a hamstring injury against New Zealand.

The duo were still present for the victory over India on Sunday, taking part in the celebrations after Australia were crowned champions for a fifth time in front of a crowd of 86,174 - a new record for a women's cricket match and a female sporting event in Australia.

"I'm just really proud of this group of players and staff," Lanning said at the presentation ceremony.

"We've had everything thrown at us, ups and downs. It was tough, definitely, especially after we lost that first game. There was a lot of expectation on us, inside and out.

"There were definitely some tough times in there, but we stuck with each other, had each other's backs.

"Coming in they [the injured players] were a big part of our plans, we had to go to plan B and C.

"It's been massive, 86,000 people at the MCG, I've never seen it before and didn't think I'd be part of it in the middle."

India were left to rue missed opportunities in the field - Healy was dropped by Shafali Verma in the first over, while they also put down a chance off Mooney during a pivotal 115-run opening stand.

Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur hopes her players will learn from the experience after reaching the final of the T20 event for the first time.

"We need to focus, especially in fielding," she said. "But I trust this team. It's part of the game, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You have to keep learning. 

"If we talk about the last T20 World Cup, we got to the semi-finals, and this time to the final. I think we're on the right path.

"Every year we are improving. We just need to think of how we play with focus in the main games. Sometimes we don't manage that."

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