Grant Flower believes Sri Lanka possess the "flair" to be contenders to win a Twenty20 World Cup that he expects to be rescheduled.

Flower took the role of batting coach when Mickey Arthur was appointed Sri Lanka head coach on a two-year deal last December.

The new coaching team have not had much time to work with the players since taking over due to the coronavirus pandemic, but they are due to resume training next Monday.

Flower is optimistic the Arthur era will be a success and feels Sri Lanka can be a real threat at the next major tournament in Australia, which he believes will start later than October 18 as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

He told Stats Perform News: "I suppose the beauty of T20 cricket is it can be quite hit and miss, so it's a lot easier to topple the big teams than it would be over, say, a five-day game.

"It is much more of a test of all of your skills put together in a five-day match, but in a T20 you can have a great game where a couple of your key players come off, you can be the best, so hopefully our skill levels can come through.

"They have always been good with the white ball, through a bit of innovation and their flair, a bit like the Pakistanis, so hopefully that continues."

The International Cricket Council on Wednesday denied reports that the World Cup has been postponed, but Flower is anticipating the showpiece will be put back.

"I'm always optimistic, but whether or not it happens or whether they decide to have an IPL before... I can see the T20 World Cup getting pushed back to maybe the end of the year. From what I've heard so far that's probably the way to go."

Former Zimbabwe all-rounder Flower wants to see senior Sri Lanka players realise their potential and reap the rewards of the faith that has been shown in them over the years.

He added: "There's a lot of enthusiasm here and the guys are skilful, it just needs a bit of structure and a lot of hard work, but I don't see any reason why we shouldn't have a good run here and get some decent results.

"A lot of the guys are at stages in their careers where a lot of investment has been put in them and they've been around for a while working with some good coaches, so hopefully that pays dividends."

 

- Grant Flower was speaking on behalf of The Conservation Games, a first-of-its-kind initiative from the Zambesia Conservation Alliance. To watch Grant in action, visit and subscribe to the Conservation Games Channel on YouTube.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has denied reports that the Men's T20 World Cup in Australia has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been reported that the tournament, due to begin on October 18, will be put back to next year.

The ICC responded on Wednesday by insisting that is not the case and it is planning for the competition to go ahead as scheduled, but continuing to explore alternative options. 

A statement from the governing body said: "Reports of a postponement of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2020 are inaccurate and planning for the event continues whilst a number of contingency plans are being explored in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the COVID-19 virus."

The ICC also revealed no decision has been made over the process for naming a successor to chairman Shashank Manohar, who steps down this month. 

"The ICC Board met yesterday to discuss the process for electing the next chair of the ICC," the statement continued.

"No final decision was taken regarding the election process and the subject will be discussed further at the next ICC Board meeting on Thursday.

"The existing chair confirmed he was not seeking any extension to his term but would support the Board to ensure a smooth transition."

Sri Lankan bowler Shehan Madushanka has been banned from all formats of cricket after he was arrested for alleged possession of illegal drugs.

Madushanka, who took a hat-trick in his only ODI against Bangladesh in 2018, was suspended by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and faces an inquiry.

An SLC statement said: "Sri Lanka Cricket decided to suspend Shehan Madushanka from all forms of cricket, with immediate effect.

"The decision was taken following the player was arrested by the police and later sent on remand custody for alleged possession of illegal drugs.

"The decision to suspend will remain intact until a full inquiry is conducted by the SLC into the matter."

Madushanka also played in two Twenty20 internationals two years ago before being troubled by injuries.

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."

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will take up to four weeks to make a decision over whether the tour of England will go ahead.

Pakistan are due to start a three-match Test series against England at Lord's on July 30, with three Twenty20 Internationals also on the schedule.

Yet there are doubts over whether the tour will be staged due to the coronavirus crisis, with spectators highly unlikely to be allowed into venues if matches can go ahead.

PCB chiefs and the counterparts at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will hold talks on Friday.

Wasim Khan, the chief executive of the PCB, says there will be no rush to make such a big decision, with Pakistan's trip to the Netherlands already having been postponed.

He told reporters: "Health and safety is paramount for our players and officials and we are not going to compromise on it.

"The situation in England is poor right now, and we will ask them about their plans. We are not making any decisions, but we will assess and decide in the next three to four weeks.

"This isn't an easy situation, and it isn't an easy decision to make, because things are changing every day in England. There are so many things to be considered - flights, hotels and they are talking about bio-security stadiums… so if people ask me, I will tell them to wait and be patient.

"The longer they stay there, the more our players will be exposed. So there is speculation that the tour might be extended, but I can confirm that this is presently not on the table.

"The West Indies tour to England is also uncertain, and we don't know what to expect. So we are looking forward to the May 15 meeting and will see what are the options."

Khan stressed that will not be influenced by whether England are prepared to make a long-awaited return for a tour of Pakistan when they make their decision.

He added: "It's a tough situation for everyone right now, and I don't think it's fair to take advantage of the situation.

"The most important thing for us is to revive the game for all countries. If we don't, we will be facing a lot of problems going forward.

"The next 12 months will be tough for cricket financially. Thankfully, the PCB is fine for the next 12 months but thereafter, in 18 months' time, we will also have problems.

"Hopefully, by then, cricket will resume and I don't think we are going to take our discussion with the ECB [with a tour of Pakistan a big factor], but we will definitely talk about it when we tour them.

"Look, the MCC toured Pakistan, an Australia delegation came as well, so there is no reason why England and Australia shouldn't be here in 2021 and 2022."

Afghanistan international Shafiqullah Shafaq has been banned from all forms of cricket for six years after accepting four corruption charges.

Shafiqullah admitted to four breaches of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) anti-corruption code.

The charges against the 30-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman related to the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League T20 in 2018 and the 2019 Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).

A statement from the ACB revealed Shafiqullah had unsuccessfully attempted to get one of his team-mates to engage in corruption during a BPL match last year.

ACB senior anti-corruption manager Sayed Anwar Shah Quraishi said: "It is an alert for all those players who think their illegal activities concerning the game of cricket will not be disclosed to the ACB's ACU. Our coverage is vaster than what is perceived."

He added: "During our educational program, we always instruct players to report each suspicious activity in order to keep the game cricket and their own careers clean of any corrupt practices."

Shafiqullah's last appearance for his country came in a Twenty20 game against Bangladesh last September.

He has represented Afghanistan in 46 T20 fixtures and 24 one-dayers.

Indian cricket board treasurer Arun Dhumal claims it would be "difficult" for the ICC T20 World Cup to go ahead as scheduled in Australia later this year.

The tournament is due to get under way in October, but the coronavirus pandemic has sparked doubt over whether it can take place.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is going ahead with plans to stage the competition, but Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said "all other options" are being explored.

Dhumal, from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has suggested it may be unrealistic for the World Cup to take place given players are likely to have spent a sustained period out of action.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald: "They will have been out of cricket for a long time. Would you want to be without training for that long and straight away go and play [the] World Cup?

"That is a call every board has to take. It seems to be difficult."

Dhumal says India would expect to be quarantined if they do travel to Australia.

"There is no choice - everyone will have to do that. You would want to resume the cricket." he added.

"Two weeks is not that long a lockdown. That would be ideal for any sportsman because when you are in quarantine for such a long period, then going to another country and having a two-week lockdown it would be a good thing to do.

"We'll have to see what the norms are post this lockdown."

Misbah-ul-Haq says the prospect of Pakistan facing England behind closed doors is "not ideal" but believes it could provide a much-needed lift for "depressed" cricket lovers.

Pakistan are due to start a three-match Test series against Joe Root's side at Lord's on July 30, with three Twenty20 matches also on the itinerary

The coronavirus pandemic has left that schedule in doubt, with England's Test series versus West Indies already having been postponed.

Spectators appear unlikely to be allowed in to venues if and when cricket returns and although Misbah would be disappointed to see the tourists play at empty venues, he thinks international action can help to lift the gloom.

The Pakistan head coach and chief selector told Stats Perform: "It's not ideal obviously, you'd love to go there and perform in an atmosphere with spectators - they are the most important part of any sport.

"It's not ideal, but if you look at it another way, people are mostly locked down in their homes and no sport is going on at the moment.

"They have nothing to watch and mostly COVID-19 news everywhere and people are depressed. In that sort of situation, if we can start sports, if we can start cricket, at least fans can watch that cricket on TV sitting at home and they can enjoy it.

"If you look at in that way, I think if we can do that with proper safety barriers and nobody is in danger, I think we can just go ahead and start from somewhere."

Misbah expects Pakistan players to be ready to hit the ground running when they are able to take to the field again.

He said: "I think in this situation, it's more towards individual responsibility as professionals; what we can do, how we are working.

"We are obviously just trying to communicate to the players that whenever we hit the ground again, the basic thing we need would be fitness. Obviously if we are fit enough, if we maintain our fitness levels, we can regain our form or skill quickly.

"If we lose our fitness in these isolation periods then it's going to be tough because once we are back on the job it will be difficult for us to either work on the skill or fitness. it's important for the players to physically and mentally prepare yourself."

Marnus Labuschagne has made a stunning start to his Test and ODI careers and the Australia batsman is also eager to get his chance in the Twenty20 format.

Labuschagne, 25, earned a national contract last week after impressing in Tests and ODIs, formats of the game he averages 63.43 and 50.83 in respectively.

The right-hander has played just 10 T20s during his career, making 97 runs at 12.12, but is yet to represent Australia in the format.

However, Labuschagne is keen to star in all three formats for his country if he gets the chance.

"By no means do I want to limit myself to only those two formats. I definitely have ambition to play T20 cricket for Australia," he said in a video interview.

"Obviously my opportunities have been minimal and with the schedule it doesn't look like there might be too many other opportunities in that actual format.

"For me, it's about just scoring runs in one-day cricket and Test cricket for Australia and if I get opportunities down the road to make sure I take them.

"I think by no means do I want to restrict myself to being only a two-format player, I think there's definitely ambition and drive to play T20 cricket."

In 14 Tests, Labuschagne has already made 1,459 runs, while he already has an ODI ton in just seven games.

But the South Africa-born batsman said he felt no pressure to continue delivering.

"For me it's just about making sure that my processes, that I'm prepared, that I understand what the game requires and then to make decisions upon that," Labuschagne said.

"If that means that I get runs then that's great, and if that means I miss out for me it's just about going back to the chalkboard and understanding my game and making sure I continue to learn from that."

Australia have replaced India at the top of the ICC Test rankings and are also the number one Twenty20 side in the world.

India had been the top-ranked Test side since October 2016 but have dropped to third behind Tim Paine's men and New Zealand.

Australia lead the way with 116 points, with the Black Caps on 115 and Virat Kohli's side - still top of the Test Championship - amassing 114. South Africa dropped below Sri Lanka into sixth spot.

Results from 2016-17 were wiped off when the latest rankings were calculated, with matches played since May last year rated at 100 per cent and those from the previous two years 50 per cent.

Australia drew the Ashes series in England 2-2 last year before whitewashing Pakistan and New Zealand on home soil. 

There have been plenty of changes in the T20 order, with Australia rising to the summit for the first time since rankings were introduced in 2011.

They replace Pakistan, who slip to fourth, with England up to second and India into third.

World champions England have increased their advantage over India at the top of the ODI rankings to eight points.

Australia national selector Trevor Hohns feels Shaun Marsh's international career is probably over, while he labelled Usman Khawaja "unlucky".

Khawaja and Marsh were among those to miss out on national contracts, with a 20-man list named by Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday.

Marsh, 36, last played for Australia in mid-2019, having featured in 38 Tests, 73 ODIs and 15 Twenty20s for the country.

But Hohns said Marsh's time playing for Australia was probably over.

"Shaun, you never say never, and I'll never say never of course, but I think Shaun, I think he's now 36 or 37, is probably past representing Australia," he told a video conference on Thursday.

"We've spoken to Shaun regularly over the last 12 months and he understands the situation. He's been a wonderful player in domestic cricket, he's played some very, very good innings for Australia in Test match cricket and he'll be sorely missed.

"But what is good is that he's continuing to play the game and as a senior player playing domestic cricket around Australia, he's got a big role to play and as I suggested it's great to see players like that continuing to play and put back to state cricket."

As for Khawaja, Hohns said leaving out the left-hander was the toughest decision.

The 33-year-old batsman has not played for Australia since being dropped during last year's Ashes series.

"Usman is one of the unlucky ones, there's no doubt," Hohns said. "As we know, Usman didn't play cricket for Australia last year at all in any format after being dropped from the Ashes series.

"If I'm looking at Test cricket, Usman's form in domestic Shield cricket didn't demand that he was chosen for Australia and I think that's pretty fair. One-day cricket, he didn't play for Australia despite being a very good performer in the Marsh Cup early in the season, but the area that he operates in, like a couple of our unlucky omissions, is up the top and we're pretty well looked after up there with [Aaron] Finch, [David] Warner, [Steve] Smith and now Marnus Labuschagne so it was a difficult time for him and then of course in T20 cricket he hasn't played for Australia for some time.

"Usman obviously received rankings in a couple of those forms of the game, but those rankings weren't sufficient enough to get him into the contract list in the end."

Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh were among the players to miss out on national contracts from Cricket Australia (CA) for 2020-21.

Khawaja, 33, was dropped from the Test team during last year's Ashes, while his last ODI was also in 2019.

Marsh, 36, has been out of international action since mid-2019 and was also left off a 20-player list named on Thursday.

"As Mitch Marsh and Matthew Wade have proven there are always plenty of opportunities for those who have missed out to be reselected by performing consistently at domestic level; and importantly to make the most of any opportunity that comes their way at international level," Australia national selector Trevor Hohns said in a statement.

"As is always the case there are unlucky omissions but, however, because you are not on the list does not mean you cannot be selected to represent Australia."

Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Burns, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Kane Richardson and Ashton Agar were called up to the nationally contracted list.

It continues Labuschagne's incredible rise, with the right-hander averaging 63.43 in 14 Tests and 50.83 in seven ODIs.

"We feel all deserve their inclusion recognising the performances of those players in the past 12 months and, as importantly, what they can offer in the next 12 months," Hohns said.

"Marnus' rise has been meteoric and well documented, Joe has been a good Test match player, Ashton Agar’s form in T20 internationals has been exceptional, while Kane Richardson has been outstanding in the 20-over and one-day games.

"Matthew Wade's summer showed he is not only a tough but a good Test player for us. His form extended into white-ball cricket late in the summer, earning him well-deserved call-ups to the one-day and T20 Australian squads.

"After missing the list last year Mitch Marsh's recent form showed he has a lot of international cricket ahead of him as a batting all-rounder. Mitch proved this with his man-of-the-match performance against New Zealand at the SCG in the last game Australia played and a five-wicket haul in the last Test match he played on the Ashes tour."

Cricket Australia contracted player list: Ashton Agar, Joe Burns, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

AB de Villiers has denied reports he has been asked by Cricket South Africa to lead the Proteas, adding: "It's hard to know what to believe these days."

The batsman has not played international cricket since April 2018 but has been linked with a return ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup, which is scheduled to start in October in Australia.

De Villiers was quoted as saying to Star Sports Cricket Connected that he had not only held talks about a comeback but also over taking on a leadership role.

"The desire is there from my side to play for South Africa, and [I] have been asked by Cricket South Africa to lead the Proteas again," he said, before adding a comeback would only happen if he is "still good enough to be there" in the team.

However, the former Proteas skipper reacted to the story via Twitter on Wednesday.

"Reports suggesting Cricket SA have asked me to lead the Proteas are just not true," De Villiers tweeted out to his 6.9million followers. 

"It's hard to know what to believe these days. Crazy times. Stay safe everyone."

De Villiers played in 114 Tests and 228 ODIs, averaging over 50 in both formats, as well as 78 T20 fixtures at international level. He retired in May 2018 having "run out of gas". 

AB de Villiers revealed he has been asked to lead South Africa but says he will only make an international comeback if he merits a place in the side.

The explosive batsman ended his Proteas career in May 2018 as he had "run out of gas".

Mark Boucher said he would try to tempt De Villiers to return to the international stage after he was appointed as head coach and the 36-year-old stated he would "love" to play for his country again, with the T20 World Cup due to be staged later this year.

Former captain De Villiers says that it has been requested that he not only comes out of retirement, but takes on a leadership role once again..

"The desire is there from my side to play for South Africa, and have been asked by Cricket South Africa to lead the Proteas again," he told Star Sports Cricket Connected.

"The most important thing to me is that I have got to be in top form, and I have got to be better than the player next to me. I

"f I feel I deserve my spot in the side, it becomes much easier for me to feel that I should be part of the playing XI.

"I have not been part of the Proteas for a while, and I feel that it’s important for myself and for other people to see that I am still good enough to be there."

Quinton de Kock took over from Faf du Plessis as South Africa's white-ball captain in January.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) counsel Taffazul Rizvi believes Umar Akmal deserved a three-year ban from cricket after he "insisted on justifying his failures".

Akmal was punished for two breaches of the PCB's anti-corruption code at a hearing in Lahore on Monday.

The batsman was charged with "failing to disclose to the PCB vigilance and security department (without unnecessary delay) full details of any approaches or invitations received by the participant to engage in corrupt conduct under this anti-corruption code".

Rizvi later revealed that Akmal, who has played for Pakistan 221 times across all formats, showed a lack of remorse.

"He was repeatedly attempting to justify his folly. His reply was confused, he neither accepted his position nor denied it," said Rizvi.

"He did admit the questionable incidents, yet was offering frivolous justifications for non-reporting. When you admit violation, you leave yourself to the mercy of the tribunal.

"There is no general exception in the anti-corruption code that you report on your wish or convenience. You either report or do not report."

He added: "Even today, the honourable judge asked him [Akmal] on a clear note if he accepts his indiscretions, but he insisted on justifying his failures.

"He was charged on two counts, for two different unrelated incidents while Mohammad Irfan [who was suspended for one year] and others had completely different cases.

"Irfan got a lesser ban because he had accepted his mistake and agreed to the imposed sanctions. But Umar Akmal tried to justify why he didn't report.

"This three-year ban on the basis of non-reporting is considered appropriate. The PCB was asking for a stiffer sentence.

"It's high time that duration of the ban should be increased because it's very clear that players are not learning the lessons as much as they should have.

"So as far as the legal side is concerned, I am very satisfied as the duration of the ban is reasonable, justified and proportionate.”

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.