Marnus Labuschagne struck an unbeaten 154 to help Australia reach 293-2 on day one of their first Test with West Indies on Wednesday.

West Indies struggled to find answers at Optus Stadium in Perth, taking only the wickets of openers David Warner (5) and Usman Khawaja (65).

Australia, who have lost just one of their past eight Test series, were in trouble early on as Warner's lean streak in the longest format continued when he chopped on from Jayden Seales' wide delivery.

The home side were 9-1 when Labuschagne arrived at the crease, but he and Khawaja set about advancing their side to 72-1 by lunch and then kicked on.

Kyle Mayers gave West Indies a much-needed breakthrough when delivering a perfect ball that caught the edge of Khawaja's bat and was gathered by Joshua Da Silva.

The Khawaja-Labuschagne partnership may have ended at 142 runs, but the latter was not finished there as he struck 16 fours and a six en route to another huge score.

Steve Smith also chipped in with an unbeaten 59 while producing a 142-run stand of his own with Labuschagne, which they will look to build on when play resumes on Thursday.


Magical Marnus

Australia are undefeated in their past 11 Test series against West Indies, winning 10 of those and each of the past eight, and they already look great value to extend that streak.

Labuschagne was undoubtedly the star of the day with his eighth Test ton and he will now look to build on his unbeaten 154, which is the fourth-highest tally of his career.

Weak Warner

West Indies have won their past two Test series and they started well in Perth when sending Warner packing in the fourth over.

That was the Australia opener's fourth successive single figure dismissal in a home Test innings, and he will be grateful that Labuschagne in particular was able to bail him out.

Pakistan are in discussions with England over postponing the opening Test between the pair following illness in the tourists' camp.

The two are set to meet in their first red-ball match in Pakistan since 2005 this week, beginning a three-match series in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

But an infection has swept through England's party, disrupting their preparations, with only a handful of the squad training on Wednesday.

Now, the Pakistan Cricket Board is in dialogue with the England and Wales Cricket Board over delaying the fixture.

"The PCB and ECB are in discussions regarding the commencement of the first Test as some England players are down with [a] viral infection," said the PCB.

"The PCB continues to monitor the situation, is in contact with the ECB and will provide further updates in due course."

England batsman Joe Root, one of a handful of players who trained on Wednesday, suggested a postponement was the right decision to make, stating the tourists did not wish to shortchange the occasion.

"It's such a monumental tour and important series for so many reasons," he told BBC Sport. "We've waited 17 years to come to Pakistan to play a Test match.

"If it means waiting another day, is that the worst thing in the world? We're all desperate to play this game, and we know how important it is to the fans of Pakistan and their team as well."

Root was succeeded by Ben Stokes as captain earlier this year and ruled out leading the side if the latter was indisposed, suggesting Ollie Pope should instead deputise.

"I don't think that's going to be the case," he added when asked if he would skipper England. "Last week Popey did a great job in the warm-up game. I think that might be a better way for the group moving forward."

Babar Azam has put his success as Pakistan captain down to his attempts to replicate South Africa great AB de Villiers.

Azam will lead Pakistan in a three-match Test series against England, starting this week in Rawalpindi. It is the tourists' first red-ball match in the country since 2005.

The form of the skipper will be key to Pakistan's hopes of marking the occasion with a victory following another impressive year with the bat.

Azam is averaging 73.44 in Tests in 2022 after two centuries and four fifties in nine innings, and ahead of facing England, he revealed his inspiration in an interview with Sky Sports.

"To be honest, my role model is AB de Villiers because I love him and the way he is playing and the way he is playing all the shots," Azam said.

"When I see him on the TV, the next day I am trying every shot in the nets. I try to copy De Villiers and try to look and play like De Villiers because my ideal is everything he is."

De Villiers, who retired from all forms of international cricket in 2018, had a Test batting average of 50.66 and scored 22 hundreds in the longest format.

Meanwhile, Babar is relishing the chance to take on England on home soil, adding: "We are looking forward to a historic series, and first of all, welcome to the England team.

"I know a few of the boys already in T20 format and a few new faces, so I think they will enjoy it a lot. We are looking forward to the series and everyone is ready."

Liam Livingstone will make his Test debut for England when they begin their red-ball tour of Pakistan on Thursday.

Livingstone will bat at number eight in Rawalpindi after seeing off competition from Will Jacks, as well as offering a spin-bowling option for Ben Stokes' side.

Meanwhile, another significant change sees Ben Duckett come in for his first Test appearance since 2016, replacing Alex Lees at the top of the batting order.

Asked about Livingstone's qualities, Stokes highlighted the way his style fits the aggressive philosophy of head coach Brendon McCullum.

"He's one of those cricketers who can come on from anywhere and take a wicket when the ball's flowing the opposition's way," Stokes said.

"It was a pretty simple conversation I had with him, actually before we went out to Australia for the [T20] World Cup. I obviously told him where we stood in terms of him playing some red-ball cricket out in the subcontinent.

"With the skill he has with the ball and the way he plays with the bat, [he] is very aligned with how me and Baz want to see the team play. He jumped at the opportunity. 

"He's a very natural cricketer, he's going to go out there and really express himself."

England's three-Test series will be their first in Pakistan for 17 years, with safety concerns preventing the team from visiting after the Sri Lanka team bus was targeted by gunmen on a 2009 tour.

England returned to the country for a seven-match T20I series during September and October this year, winning four of those contests.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite believes Tagenarine Chanderpaul can make an immediate impact on his Test debut against Australia in Perth.

The 26-year-old son of Windies great Shivnarine Chanderpaul will make his bow in the five-day game on Wednesday, and Brathwaite suggests he could soon be setting the standards.

Chanderpaul made a century and a fifty against a Prime Minister's XI in Canberra as West Indies prepared for this series, leaving no doubt he will open the innings as the two-Test series begins.

"I think it was great to see. He'll do extremely well at this higher level," Brathwaite said. "He has a lot of patience, he has good defence, and in Test cricket that's the basics you want, and from there you can always branch off and play a few shots.

"He was an example for us in the first game, and if we take a leaf out of his book for this series I think we'll be in good stead as batsmen.

"I didn't open with [Shivnarine] Chanderpaul, but I played with him. Obviously he was a great, so it's not shocking he had a son that's playing. I think 'Tage' will do a fantastic job and let's hope he could even do greater things, like his father would have done."

Australia's men have not lost any of their last 11 Test series against West Indies (W10, D1) and have won their last eight in succession, last suffering a defeat in the format in 1993 against the Caribbean opposition.

Brathwaite appreciates the scale of the challenge this time, saying: "We know Australia is a superior team. We've got to play 10 days of hard cricket, that is the main focus."

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon has taken a standout 14 wickets at an average of 15.5 at Perth Stadium in Tests against India and New Zealand, and now he gets a third outing at the venue.

Lyon told cricket.com.au: "I'm pretty excited to be honest. There's something about the ground. I used to enjoy bowling at the WACA as well, where you're able to use the breeze to your advantage and get some drift. Drift and bounce are the big things over here, and they are my biggest weapons."

Recent form provides hope for Windies

While Australia have dominated this rivalry of late, the current year has been a strong one for West Indies in Tests, with the team winning series against England and Bangladesh without losing a match.

The successive series wins followed a run that saw them win only one of their eight series prior (D2, L5), and West Indies have not won three in succession since a run of success from August 2012 to March 2013.

Cummins closing in

Home captain Pat Cummins (199) is one away from becoming the 19th player to take 200 wickets for Australia in men's Tests. This will be his 44th Test, and if he takes that wicket in Perth it will mean Cummins becomes the fifth-fastest player to reach 200 for Australia (Clarrie Grimmett – 36 matches, Dennis Lillee – 38, Stuart MacGill – 41, Shane Warne – 42).

Australia Test captain Pat Cummins says there are no cowards in the team in light of Justin Langer's recent comments following his acrimonious exit as coach earlier this year.

Cummins, speaking ahead of the first Test against the West Indies that starts in Perth on Wednesday, insisted there was no "ill will" towards Langer.

Langer criticised anonymous "cowards" who leaked information against him during his time as Australia coach, when speaking to the Back Chat podcast which was released last week.

The ex-Australian opener, who ultimately resigned from the role in February after only being offered a short-term extension, had tried to backtrack from those comments, stating the players were "like my younger brothers".

Cummins moved to defend his teammates on Tuesday but reiterated there were no hard feelings with Langer.

"There's no cowards in an Australian cricket team, not ever," Cummins told reporters. "I'd probably never disclose private conversations.

"I think it's disappointing sometimes the focus gets drawn to off-field issues but it hasn't really affected our team."

Cummins added: "I think there's no ill will to what he was trying to do and he clarified afterwards.

"I think he had a think about it and clarified it, so thank him for that. But we're really proud of the last 12 months, how we've fronted up, the way we've played, the way we've conducted ourselves. Players can certainly hold their heads high."

Cummins confirmed no surprises in the side's XI for the first Test with fast bowler Scott Boland and opening batsman Marcus Harris to be the two players to miss out from Australia's 13-man squad.

"To be honest it is the most stable team I have played in ever," Cummins said. "You could probably have picked the side 12 months ago, I feel like we are in a good spot.

"Everyone has done well to get them fit and firing for this series and we’re in a really good place. Easy decision."

Mark Wood has been ruled out of England's first Test in Pakistan due to a hip injury.

The fast bowler sustained another injury setback during England's successful T20 World Cup campaign, missing the semi-final and final in Australia.

Wood sat out a training camp in Abu Dhabi last week in the hope of making the first contest of a three-match series against Babar Azam's side, which begins in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Head coach Brendon McCullum said: "Mark's not going to make the first Test squad unfortunately because of his injury.

"We expect him to be ready for the second Test and otherwise we've got a full squad to pick from."

The 32-year-old quick has played 26 Tests for England, taking 82 wickets at an average of 31.91.

England also have James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, Jamie Overton in their squad, while captain Ben Stokes is another seam option.

England's other pace options for the first Test include James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, Jamie Overton and captain Ben Stokes, while Jack Leach is the main spin option.

Leg-spinning all-rounder Renan Ahmed could become the youngest man to play a Test for England at the age of 18 if he is given the nod.

Mitchell Starc says he has a "pretty good relationship" with Justin Langer after the former Australia head coach denied a rift between himself and the players.

Langer this week accused sources who leaked stories to the media during his time in charge of the national team of being "cowards".

Speaking on the Back Chat podcast, the ex-Australia opening batter bemoaned a lack of honest feedback given by his players before he ended his reign in February.

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley responded by expressing his disappointment with Langer for "unfairly criticising" the players.

Speaking ahead of Australia's first Test against West Indies at Optus Stadium in Perth, which starts next Wednesday, paceman Starc revealed he has no problem with Langer.

"I have a pretty good relationship with Langer," he stated. "We exchanged text messages post the [T20] World Cup. I'm pretty comfortable with my relationship with JL.

"[It] was mentioned that there could be some noise around [this Test], obviously being in the west, [but] we're comfortable. [We] spend a lot of time together as a three-format group.

"It's all preparation for this Test match. Not too much is going to distract us. I'm sure we'll see [Langer] at the ground and throughout the summer."

 

Justin Langer has rubbished talk of a rift between himself and the Australia team as he likened the players to "younger brothers".

Langer stepped down in February after overseeing Australia's first T20 World Cup triumph and an Ashes hammering of England on home soil.

The former opener has been back in the spotlight following his comments on the Back Chat podcast, accusing sources who leaked stories to the media during his reign of being "cowards" with agendas.

Langer also bemoaned a lack of honest feedback given by players while he was in charge of the team.

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley responded by expressing his disappointment with Langer for "unfairly criticising" the players.

The ex-Australia batter had his say once again in a West Australian column, stating he has not fallen out with the players.

"This rubbish dialogue of me fighting with the current team must stop. Simply because it is not true," Langer wrote.

"They are my friends. They are like my younger brothers. Anything said to the contrary is false.

"For four years we drank, ate, celebrated, strategised and lived together. We fought back from 'sandpaper gate' and Covid together and we won the T20 World Cup and Ashes together."

Langer made it clear he has no issue with captain Pat Cummins.

"For the record, I am a great admirer of Pat Cummins. Not only is he an outstanding cricketer but he is also a very good human being," he said.

"Would I have liked him to have backed me more publicly towards the end of my time as coach? Of course, I would. Who wouldn't?"

He added: "Was it always perfect? No, it wasn't? What business, what team is always perfect?

"I have never met a leader who is every single person's cup of tea. Again, that's life.

"And I accept my four years with the team had to come to an end. It's just a shame it happened like it did. But now, it's time to move on."

England Test captain Ben Stokes hopes to have "one of the superstars of the international game" Jofra Archer fit and firing for the Ashes.

Archer has not played on the international stage since March 2021 due to injury, but returned to action for the England Lions against England this week.

The luckless paceman bowled nine overs in his first match for 16 months, not taking a wicket but rattling Zak Crawley on the helmet with a rapid bouncer in Abu Dhabi.

England will attempt to regain the Ashes from Australia on home soil next year and Stokes wants hostile quick Archer to play his part.

The all-rounder told Sky Sports: "It's been great to see him out here when we joined up with the Lions.

"It's great to see him back running with the ball in his hand. He's one of the superstars of the international game and it's great to see him running back in, bowling fast and it's really good to have him back around the group as well.

"I think he's just really excited to be back. He's obviously had a long time off with injury and as exciting as it is we've got to be careful not to rush him back as we don't want to see Jofra Archer on the sidelines for this amount of [time] again.

"That's the plan, hopefully we can have Jofra fit and ready especially for The Ashes.

"That's something that we're looking at for Jof and it would be great to have him available for selection for that."

Leg-spinning all-rounder Rehan Ahmed could become the youngest man to play a Test for England against Pakistan next month after he was added to the squad this week.

Stokes is excited by the potential the 18-year-old, who also played for the Lions in a drawn three-day match this week, possesses.

He said: "We've seen him as one of those very rare talents. To have someone at such a young age be so noticeable as a cricketer with the way that he bowls and the way that he bats.

"We saw it as a very good opportunity to get him into the squad, get him around the group, get him into the environment.

"He's a fantastic talent, he loves cricket, he just spends all his time shadow-batting in his room. He absolutely loves it.

"I'm really excited to have him into the squad, get him round the group and see what he's got."

Luke Wright has been appointed as England men's selector after calling time on his playing career.

Former England all-rounder Wright will input into all England men’s squads and team selections from senior teams to Lions and Young Lions. 

The 37-year-old will share responsibility of selections with coaches, captains, England men's managing director Rob Key, performance director Mo Bobat and player ID lead David Court.

Alec Stewart was among the other names linked with the role, but the former England captain reportedly this week ruled himself out of the running.

Wright has been involved in the New Zealand set-up and will take up his new position in March after finishing his coaching duties with Auckland Cricket, having played his last game for Sussex in June.

Wright said: "It's a huge honour and privilege to take on this role, one that I am incredibly excited about. With the Ashes and ICC Men’s 50-over World Cup next year, I can't wait to get started and try to contribute after what has been a fantastic year for England men’s cricket."

Key stated: "Off the back of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup win and a successful summer for our men's Test team, I'm delighted that Luke will be joining as England selector.

"With his significant experience of playing in England and overseas as well as his in-depth knowledge of county cricket, he will be an important voice in squad selection while also helping to identify the next generation of England stars.

"It’s an exciting time for England men’s cricket, but with the Ashes and the ICC Men’s 50-over World Cup next year there is a lot of hard work ahead if we are to build upon what has been an exciting year."

Shaheen Shah Afridi's recovery from an injury suffered in the T20 World Cup final rules him out of Pakistan's 18-man squad to face England in a three-match Test series in December.

Afridi landed awkwardly while catching Harry Brook in Pakistan's defeat to England in the final, though he was cleared him of a serious knee injury and it was announced he would need a fortnight of rehabilitation.

However, the paceman then underwent surgery on his appendix and the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed he will not feature in a Test series that starts at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on December 1.

Haris Rauf's impressive white-ball performances have earn him a Test call-up, but Hasan Ali misses out after taking just five wickets in his past four Tests.

Fawad Alam is another notable absence after scoring only 58 runs in four Test matches in 2022, a distinct downturn in form from the previous year when he recorded 571 runs in nine matches.

Uncapped bowlers Mohammad Ali and Abrar Ahmed are included following some impressive displays in first-class cricket.

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood, Zahid Mahmood.

David Warner has welcomed the chance to have his lifetime ban from captaining Australia reviewed following a change in Cricket Australia's (CA) code of conduct, while lamenting the delay in allowing him to appeal.

CA ruled that the opening batter would never hold a leadership role again due to his part in the 2018 Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

Warner, who was said to have played a key role in Cameron Bancroft using sandpaper to alter the condition of the ball during the Test against South Africa in Cape Town, had been touted as a candidate to replace Aaron Finch as ODI skipper following his retirement from the format in September.

While Pat Cummins was named as Finch's successor last month, the door may be open to Warner captaining his country in the future after CA amended its code of conduct.

Players were previously unable to appeal against sanctions after accepting them, but Warner is relieved to have the opportunity to seek a review of his ban under a new policy.

"I'm not a criminal," Warner said on Monday. "You should get a right of an appeal at some stage. I understand that they put a ban in place, but banning someone for life, I think it's a bit harsh.

"Where it's been disappointing is it's taken this long to get to where it has. It was brought up in I think February this year. So it's been drawn out.

"It's traumatic for me and my family and everyone else that was involved in it. We haven't needed to go back into that detail. We don't need to relive what happened.

"But it's good to get in a position where we are now today. It gives me an opportunity to ring up the integrity unit to have a word to them and put forward my case of, I guess, the 100 hours [of community service] that I did in 2018.

"Basically, all this good behaviour stuff that I've done, I think I have to put forward, so I'm happy to do that."

In a statement released on Monday, CA said: "Players and support staff can now apply to have long-term sanctions modified.

"Any applications will be considered by a three-person review panel, comprising independent code of conduct commissioners, which must be satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist to justify modifying a sanction."

CA's new policy allows for the panel to modify punishments if it is felt the recipient has "demonstrated genuine remorse" or shown good behaviour since the ruling, while they will also consider the length of time which has passed since a sanction was issued.

Joe Root had to relinquish the England Test captaincy due to the toll it started to take on his personal life as he felt like a "zombie".

The Yorkshire and England batter succeeded Alastair Cook as red-ball captain in 2017 and resigned last April after a torrid run of one win in 17 Tests, with a 1-0 series defeat to West Indies the final straw.

Root still delivered remarkable returns with the bat in 2021, despite England's struggles, scoring 1,708 runs in 15 matches, including two double centuries and a further four tons.

A new Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum era has somewhat transformed England's red-ball cricket, with two convincing series triumphs over New Zealand and South Africa either side of victory over India to secure a draw in the rescheduled meeting.

Root has still played a vital role, scoring three Test centuries since stepping down as captain, though he admitted the change was necessary after the role had started to impact him.

"The captaincy was starting to take a toll on me," Root told the Mail on Sunday.

"The limited time I did get to spend with family, which should be enjoyed and treasured, I wasn't able to do that. I wasn't really there. I came to realise that that had been the case for a little while.

"There were times when I was thinking about something I couldn't control or something that hadn't happened previously. You go in on yourself.

"We would still do what we would normally do as a family, but I would not be listening. I just felt like a bit of a zombie almost.

"I could start seeing it have an impact on me as a person. You want to bring your personality to the role, not bring the role to your personality. It was reversing into something slightly unhealthy."

Root will hope to continue to support Stokes' England as McCullum's side head to Pakistan for a three-Test series, which starts on December 1 at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

Kane Williamson will continue to represent New Zealand in all three formats despite his T20I future being questioned following the Black Caps' World Cup exit earlier this month.

Williamson captained his country on their run to the last four at the tournament in Australia, where they suffered a seven-wicket loss to eventual runners-up Pakistan.

That defeat represented the latest tournament shortfall for New Zealand, who also lost last year's T20 World Cup final to Australia and finished as runners-up to England in 2019's 50-over World Cup.  

At the age of 32, Williamson accepts he must manage his workload, but he will not follow the lead of international team-mate Trent Boult by being selective regarding which formats he plays.

"I love all the formats, for different reasons. In fact, playing the three and changing between them is a challenge that is enjoyable," Williamson told ESPNcricinfo. 

"But having said that, there is a balance to strike in terms of just general volume [of cricket], and that's important.

"Everybody is a little bit challenged by that, certainly some of the players that may have done it for a long time, and you're always looking to be clear with that direction – to stay fresh and focused on what is most important with your involvement in any team." 

World Test champions New Zealand have finished as runners-up at three World Cups across the two shortened formats since 2015, but Williamson is not thinking about the prospect of a transitional period as the country's golden generation comes to an end.

"You sort of hope that whilst you're here, and trying to do as well as you can as a team with all the other individuals involved, that there's a real effort to try and grow the game," he added.

"To try and play your role to the best of your ability, to try and improve as much as you can as a player, hopefully that sort of adds to the depth of cricket that we have.

"Focusing on what's in front of you is what's really important, and in years to come there'll be transition, or there's perhaps transition a little bit earlier – that's always there.

"That's always happening in professional sport, and whoever the next group or crop are, I'm sure they'll have a lot of motivation to want to get better as a team and go even further as a side."

New Zealand will look to bounce back from their World Cup exit when they host the first of three T20Is against India on Friday, with that series being swiftly followed by three ODI meetings. 

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