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.”

Umar Akmal has been banned from all forms of cricket for three years, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has confirmed.

The batsman faced a hearing in Lahore on Monday over two alleged breaches of the PCB's anti-corruption code.

The 29-year-old was accused of "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".

Akmal, who was provisionally suspended on February 20, was facing a maximum of a lifetime ban if found guilty.

The PCB issued a tweet on Monday, confirming: "Umar Akmal handed three-year ban from all cricket by Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel Mr Justice (retired) Fazal-e-Miran Chauhan."

Akmal has played 121 ODIs and 84 Twenty20 Internationals, also featuring in 16 Tests between 2009 and 2011.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison says The Hundred will be "even more important" for the future of English cricket due to the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis.

It has been reported that the new competition could be scrapped less than three months before the inaugural tournament is due to start.

The ECB on Friday announced there will be no professional cricket in England or Wales until at least July 1 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

International stars are due to fly in for from various parts of the world for The Hundred, which is scheduled to get under way on July 17.

While there is uncertainty over whether the competition will take place this year, Harrison says it must not be discarded.

"If anything this crisis and the implication long term or medium term, the case for The Hundred is even more important," he told the BBC.

"The Hundred is a profit centre for the game of cricket in this country, it will generate really important commercial value for the game, and help us achieve the second of our three priorities which is keeping the lights on through the network – making sure county cricket is really healthy and strong long into the future.

"And it will help broaden the audience for the game. There will be a huge clamour for audience coming out of this crisis, for all sport.

"I don't think this in any way dilutes the case for The Hundred, it absolutely accelerates it and makes it something cricket needs to get behind.

"We were starting from a position of strength – 180,000 tickets were sold – the quickest sale of cricket other than World Cup cricket that we've seen, so we've got to put the context of the last couple of years into a very different light.

"They are all decisions we will make but I am absolutely committed, as I think the game is, the first-class counties, they understand the importance of this competition to the future of the game and how it will help us achieve stability for everything the game has cared about for hundreds of years – that's super important to us."

Harrison also revealed there have been "multiple offers" from other countries, including Australia and New Zealand, to help finish the domestic season.

A large part of sport's huge appeal is the chance for the seemingly impossible to be achieved.

Shane Long and Chris Gayle realised that potential on April 23, each entering the record books in their respective sports.

Long and Gayle etched their name into the history books for delivering in quick time, but on this date 15 years ago Aaron Rodgers' NFL Draft experience was anything but swift.

Here we look back on some of the most memorable moments from the world of sport to take place on April 23.

 

1991: Borg way past his best on comeback

Having initially retired as an 11-time grand slam champion in 1984, Borg made his return to the tennis court, but was a shadow of his former self.

The 34-year-old proved too slow to compete with Jordi Arrese at the Monte Carlo Open, his Spanish opponent easing to a 6-2 6-3 win in just 78 minutes.

Borg went on to suffer first-round exits in 12 tournaments before putting the racquet down for good.

2005: Niners go with Smith over Rodgers

The San Francisco 49ers held the first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft and the sentimental choice was clear.

Quarterback Rodgers, a Northern California native who had starred across the bay from San Francisco in Berkeley for the California Golden Bears and grew up a 49ers fan, was among the cream of the crop.

However, instead of selecting Rodgers, the 49ers went with Utah quarterback Alex Smith, leading to a now-infamous draft-day slide.

Rodgers was eventually selected 24th overall by the Green Bay Packers and, as Smith experienced a rollercoaster career with the Niners, went on to establish himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

He won a Super Bowl with Green Bay at the end of the 2010 season, but revenge over the Niners has not been forthcoming. Rodgers has faced the 49ers three times in the playoffs and lost on all three occasions, including in last season's NFC Championship game.

2013: Universe boss sends records world records tumbling

West Indies star Chris Gayle is famed for his explosive batting, and he delivered in record-breaking fashion seven years ago.

Playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, Gayle struck an incredible unbeaten 175 against Pune Warriors.

Hitting 13 fours and a scarcely believable 17 sixes in a memorable 66-ball stay, Gayle set records for the fastest Twenty20 century and the highest T20 score of all time.

It truly was a day on which the self-titled 'Universe Boss' lived up to his moniker.

2019: Shane didn't need long to score

April 23, 2019 is a date Ledley King may want to forget, as the former Tottenham defender saw his record for the fastest Premier League goal broken by Shane Long.

The Southampton striker needed just 7.69 seconds to score in a 1-1 draw with Watford at Vicarage Road.

His effort was over two seconds quicker than King's, who netted for Spurs after 10 seconds against Bradford City back on December 9, 2000.

Umar Akmal will be summoned before a disciplinary hearing in Lahore on April 27 in relation to anti-corruption charges.

The batsman was charged with two alleged breaches of rules set out in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) anti-corruption code in two unrelated incidents.

The 29-year-old is accused of "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".

Akmal, who was provisionally suspended on February 20, could face a lifetime ban if found guilty.

He did not request a hearing before the anti-corruption tribunal after being charged with breaches of article 2.4.4 of the PCB code.

Akmal has played 121 ODIs and 84 Twenty20 Internationals, also featuring in 16 Tests between 2009 and 2011.

South Africa's tour to Sri Lanka in June has been postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Proteas were due to play three one-dayers and a trio of Twenty20 contests against their hosts, but the trip will now have to be rearranged.

Sri Lanka and South Africa jointly announced the decision on Monday.

"It is very sad that we have been forced to take this step and we will re-schedule the tour as soon as cricket returns to a sense of normality and our international fixture list allows," said Cricket South Africa's acting chief executive Jacques Faul.
 
"Our Proteas would not have been able to prepare properly taking our own lockdown situation into account and, more importantly, health considerations for our players, which are always paramount, were the over-riding factor.
 
"It would have been a particularly important tour for us with the three ODIs counting for the new ICC one-day league and the T20 programme being part of our preparation for the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled for Australia later this year. 

"It is very frustrating for the players who want to build on the good form they showed at the backend of our home summer against Australia."

Graeme Smith has been appointed as Cricket South Africa's (CSA) director of cricket on a permanent basis.

The former Proteas captain was given the role for three months back in December.

It had been expected CSA would look to extend his time in the job and he has now been handed an initial two-year contract.

"Graeme has made a huge impact with his energy, expertise, hard work ethic and characteristic determination and passion he has brought to the position during the six months he has served in an acting capacity," said CSA acting chief executive Dr. Jacques Faul.

"Although there is certainly a great deal of work to be done, as reflected by the performances of our various national teams, he has certainly put our cricket on an upward trajectory that provides light at the end of the tunnel.

"He has bought into all the overall pillars of our strategy and that includes the important one of transformation.

"As far as the technical and support teams he has put together are concerned, the black generic component amounted to more than 70 per cent across the board and the Black African component varied between 30 and 60 per cent for the Standard Bank Proteas for the home international season, for the Momentum Proteas for the ICC Women's T20 World Cup and for the ICC under-19 World Cup, which we were privileged and proud to host.

"He also made a number of strategic temporary appointments with Linda Zondi appointed interim independent national selector, Ashwell Prince taking charge of South Africa A and Malibongwe Maketa joining the under-19 squad as a coaching consultant."

Smith added: "My appointment brings a degree of permanency to my position which makes planning the road ahead a lot easier.

"As Dr. Faul has said, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done, not just at international level but throughout our pipeline development pathways as well but I am determined to get South African cricket back to where it belongs as one of the world leaders at international level."

Smith scored 9,265 Test runs and 6,989 in ODI cricket in a decorated career as an opening batsman for his country.

South Africa's youngest skipper, he is the most successful captain in Test history, having led the Proteas to 53 wins in the longest format.

However, they are winless in their last three series, with home defeats to Sri Lanka and England sandwiched by a whitewash in India. They also failed to progress beyond the group stage of last year's World Cup.

Ben Stokes must have endured nightmares over this day four years ago, when Carlos Brathwaite smashed West Indies to T20 World Cup glory in such dramatic fashion.

Gregg Popovich also has bad memories of April 3, having been ejected only 63 seconds into the San Antonio Spurs' NBA clash with the Denver Nuggets last year.

Lionel Messi scored two penalties when Barcelona beat Milan to reach the Champions League semi-finals on this day back in 2012.

We take a look back at April 3 in sporting history.

 

2016 - 'Remember the name' - Brathwaite goes berserk

Stokes has had plenty to celebrate in the past year, but the England all-rounder endured a horror show at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Windies all-rounder Brathwaite was the star of the show, blasting Stokes for four sixes off the first four balls of the final over to ensure his side became the first to win two World T20 titles.

Commentator and former West Indies bowler Ian Bishop belted out "remember the name" when Brathwaite sealed a stunning victory, having needed 19 off the final over.

While Stokes has gone on to better things, he will certainly not have forgotten the name of Brathwaite. 

 

2019 - Off you pop

Some spectators may not have taken their seats when Spurs coach Popovich was given his marching orders 12 months ago.

He took exception to a non-foul call and was issued a technical by official Mark Ayotte before being handed another by David Guthrie just over a minute after tip-off in an encounter with Denver.

The Nuggets went on to win 113-85 three nights after Popovich was also ejected during a loss to the Sacramento Kings.

2012 - Milestone for Messi as Milan crash out

There have been many days when Messi achieved a milestone and his half-century of Champions League goals came eight years ago to the day.

The Barcelona superstar made no mistake from the penalty spot twice as the Catalan giants beat Milan 3-1 to reach the last four.

There were no goals in the first leg at San Siro, but Messi proved to the match-winner, with Andres Iniesta netting the third. Chelsea ended Barca's run at the semi-final stage, though, winning 3-2 on aggregate.

Representatives for England players will continue talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) over how to help the game during the coronavirus pandemic, though they have not received any demands from their employers to take a pay cut.

Having already revealed this week that they will provide a £61million support package to help ease the financial issues caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the ECB announced on Wednesday measures to reduce employee salaries as they aim to protect jobs in the long term.

Chief executive Tom Harrison has agreed to take a 25 per cent cut, while members of the executive management and team board will see their wages lowered by 20 per cent.

A report by ESPNcricinfo earlier in the day suggested the England squad had so far declined an invitation to follow suit, though all-rounder Ben Stokes called the story “utter lies" on Twitter.

In a statement, the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) said discussions for both the men's and women's team continue with the ECB over "all aspects of the game", including contracts.

"Regarding the England players, both men and women, separate and ongoing discussions are taking place between the ECB and the management boards of both the Team England Player Partnership (TEPP) and the England Women's Player Partnership (EWPP), which respectively represent these players," the statement read.

"Contrary to media speculation in communication this week, the ECB confirmed to centrally contracted players that there would not be any demands placed on England players to take any wage reductions to their central contracts.

"However, the England men's players through TEPP and the England women's players through EWPP have been and will continue to be in regular communication with the ECB.

"They will be discussing all aspects of the game that the ECB and the players are currently facing and most importantly how the players can best support their employers, the game and the country in the short, medium and long term. These issues shall also include the wellbeing of the entire cricket family, the playing of the game and the players' contracts."

Limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan made clear he is “extremely willing to help” amid the global crisis, with the English season not scheduled to start until May 28 at the earliest.

"In the extremely uncertain times at the moment where nobody seems to have any answers about the actual impact it will have on international cricket, English cricket, county cricket - I'm open to absolutely everything," Morgan said.

"I'm very aware of how serious the situation is, I'm very aware that everybody will be affected from top to toe within the game and every sport, so I'm open to helping when and where I can."

Eoin Morgan is "open to absolutely everything" to help efforts against the coronavirus pandemic but believes England's cricketers are entitled to more guidance amid a public clamour for them to take a temporary pay cut.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced a £61million support package on Tuesday to address "the biggest challenge the ECB has faced in its history".

A reduction in salary's for England's centrally contracted players is not yet a part of that effort, although ESPNcricinfo reported ECB chief executive Tom Harrison had written to his counterpart at the Professional Cricketers' Association, Tony Irish, to suggest the country's leading cricket stars should take a lead on this matter.

Harrison himself has volunteered to take a 25 per cent reduction in salary, with the executive management team and board taking a 20 per cent cut for the two months starting April 1. Some staff will also be asked to consent to furloughing under the UK government's coronavirus scheme, before having their salaries topped back up to 100 per cent by the ECB. 

Ben Stokes tweeted to strongly dispute the suggestion he and his team-mates had elected not to take a pay cut, while Morgan told reporters on Wednesday that he had not seen the letter.

"I'm extremely willing to help where I know it's going to make a difference," he said.

"In the extremely uncertain times at the moment, where nobody seems to have any answers of the actual impact it will have on international cricket, English cricket, county cricket, I'm open to absolutely everything.

"I'm very aware how serious the situation is, I'm very aware that everybody will be affected from top to toe within the game and in every sport.

"I'm open to helping where and when I can."

Morgan explained he felt finding the appropriate response was complicated for cricket players because their immediate plans are in such a state of flux.

"The difficult thing we find at the moment when we talk as players is that we can't answer that – we can't answer what is the best way to help out as players," he said.

"Is it to engage on social media? Is it to engage in other streams? Is it just to sit back and let this pass and hopefully we'll play?

"In relation to what we're trying to do and play cricket, get back out on the field, it seems to be quite a while away. The advice that we will be continually getting over the coming weeks is the important stuff."

One of Morgan's World Cup-winning colleagues to have taken a pro-active step in this regard is Jos Buttler.

The Lancashire wicketkeeper has put his shirt from last year's dramatic final triumph over New Zealand at Lord's up for auction on eBay, with the highest bid already in excess of £65,000.

Buttler's shirt is signed by the entire England team and the proceeds will be donated to the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity, to fund life-saving equipment to help those affected by COVID-19.

"It's an incredibly kind gesture," Morgan said. "Certainly, I'm not one for holding on to memorabilia and if I can help out in any way by auctioning off or donating to charity, I do what I can.

"Other people are different. We've seen during the Australian bushfires, where Shane Warne auctioned his baggy green cap for a million dollars or something ridiculous.

"The impact that can have on so many lives, as opposed to sitting in somebody's drawer and just having it as a bit of a trophy – personally that's something I don't understand.

"Jos, I suppose, is one of those guys. I think his shirt will go for a lot of money but the gesture in itself, to help aid and buy new equipment, I think is outstanding."

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