Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor has revealed he is facing a "multi-year ban" from international cricket for delaying reporting a spot-fixing plot.

Taylor says he was blackmailed by an Indian businessman, who paid him USD $15,000 to travel to India to discuss sponsorships and potential launch of a T20 competition in Zimbabwe in 2019.

The 35-year-old says he had not been paid by Zimbabwe Cricket for six months and it was questionable whether his country would continue playing international cricket.

Wicketkeeper-batter Taylor stated that he "foolishly took the bait" when he was offered cocaine on a night out for a celebratory dinner with the businessman and his colleagues after concluding discussions.

Taylor says he was "cornered" the following morning when six people stormed into his hotel room to show him a video of him taking cocaine and told the footage would be made public if he refused to spot-fix in international matches.

The ex-Zimbabwe skipper says he was handed USD $15,000 as a "deposit" for spot-fixing and was told another USD $20,000 would be paid once the "job" was complete.

Taylor felt he had to take the money, so he was allowed go home but suffered with both his mental and physical health following the life-changing ordeal in India that has taken him to some "dark places".

He stated that he has never been involved in spot-fixing, but is facing a ban for not reporting what happened in India to the International Cricket Council for four months.

Taylor said in a statement: "The 'businessman' wanted a return on his investment which I could not and would not give. It took me 4 months to report this offence and interaction to the ICC.

"I acknowledge this was too long of a time but I thought I could protect everyone and in particular, my family.

"I approached the ICC on my own terms and I hoped that if I explained my predicament, my genuine fear for our safety and wellbeing, that they would understand the delay.

"Unfortunately, they did not, but I cannot feign ignorance in this regard. I have attended many anti-corruptions seminars over the years and we knew that time is of the essence when making reports.

"I would like to place on record that I have never been involved in any form of match-fixing. I may be many things but I am not a cheat.

"My love for the beautiful game of cricket far outweighs and surpasses any threat which could be thrown my way."

Taylor revealed he will check into a rehabilitation centre on Tuesday to "get clean" and to get his life "back on track" after living in "hell for years".

Shaheen Afridi and Joe Root have been named the ICC men's Player of the Year and Test Cricketer of the Year for 2021.

Pakistan fast bowler Afridi took 78 wickets in 36 internationals at an average of 22.20, including a career-best of 6-51 against West Indies in August.

It was during Pakistan's run to the semi-finals of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup that the 21-year-old particularly impressed, taking seven wickets in six matches.

Mohammad Rizwan, England captain Root and New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson were also nominated for the prestigious award.

While Root missed out on that accolade, he was voted the top Test cricketer for 2021.

Root scored 1,708 runs in 15 matches, including two double centuries and a further four tons, in what was otherwise a disappointing year for England.

Only Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf (1,788 in 2006) and West Indies legend Viv Richards (1,710 in 1976) have scored more in a single calendar year.

The 31-year-old saw off competition from New Zealand bowler Kyle Jamieson, Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne and India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

"I am incredibly proud to receive this award," Root said. 

"I am very humbled to be in the same breath as a number of wonderful players around the world and it means a huge amount to have got this award."

 

Root scored more than three times as many runs as any of his team-mates last year, with Rory Burns (530) and Jonny Bairstow (391) next on the list.

He is only the second Englishman to claim the accolade after Alastair Cook in 2011. 

The award had been won by an Australian player on five of the last seven occasions it has been handed out, with Pat Cummins the most recent winner in 2019.

Elsewhere, Afridi's team-mate Babar Azam was named ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year on Monday after scoring 405 runs in six games at an average of 67.50.

And fellow Pakistan star Rizwan was crowned men's T20I Cricketer of the Year on Sunday, with England's Tammy Beaumont claiming the women's equivalent.

Rizwan, Babar and Afridi were also included in the ICC T20I Team of 2021, alongside the likes of Jos Butler, Mitchell Marsh and Josh Hazlewood.

ICC Teams of the Year

Men's T20I Team of 2021: Jos Butler (ENG), Mohammad Rizwan (PAK, WK), Babar Azam (PAK, C), Aiden Markram (SA), Mitchell Marsh (AUS), David Miller (SA), Wanindu Hasaranga (SL), Tabraiz Shamsi (SA), Josh Hazlewood (AUS), Mustafizur Rahman (BANG), Shaheen Afridi (PAK). 

Men's ODI Team of 2021: Paul Stirling (IRE), Janneman Malan (SA), Babar Azam (PAK, C), Fakhar Zaman (PAK), Rassie van der Dussen (SA), Shakib Al-Hasan (BANG), Mushfiqur Rahim (BANG, WK), Wanindu Hasaranga (SL), Mustafizur Rahman (BANG), Simi Singh (IRE), Dushmantha Chameera (SL)

Men's Test Team of 2021: Dimuth Karunaratne (SL), Rohit Sharma (India), Marnus Labuschagne (AUS), Joe Root (ENG), Kane Williamson (NZ), Fawad Alam (PAK), Rishabh Pant (IND, WK), Ravichandran Ashwin (IND), Kyle Jamison (NZ), Hasan Ali (PAK), Shaheen Afridi (PAK). 

Quinton de Kock made a magnificent century as South Africa won a dramatic third ODI by four runs against India at Newlands to seal a 3-0 series whitewash.

Half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan (61) and Virat Kohli (65) gave the tourists a platform to build their chase of 288 from, but some excellent bowling and safe hands in the field saw the Proteas dismiss India for an agonising 283 off the second ball of the final over.

India won the toss and put South Africa in to bat, taking the early wickets of Janneman Malan (1) and Temba Bavuma (8). When Aiden Markram fell to Deepak Chahar for 15 in the 13th over, the hosts were 70-3 and wobbling until a partnership of 144 between De Kock and Rassie van der Dussen.

De Kock followed up his 78 from the second game in Paarl by making a classy 124 off 130 balls, with Van der Dussen (52) the only other to make a half-century for the Proteas.

However, both fell in consecutive overs, and though a useful pairing of David Miller (39) and Dwaine Pretorius (20) put on a partnership of 44, South Africa was all out in the last over, with Prasidh Krishna (3-59) bringing the innings to a close with the penultimate ball for a total of 287.

The chase did not start brilliantly for India as KL Rahul was caught by Malan off the bowling of Lungi Ngidi (3-58) for just nine, though Dhawan and Kohli set about repairing that early damage.

Their partnership of 98 appeared to set the tourists on their way to a consolation win, though after Dhawan was dismissed when he hit an Andile Phehlukwayo delivery straight up in the air, allowing De Kock to snaffle the catch, Rishabh Pant was out first ball to Phehlukwayo and India's chase looked less assured.

Kohli steadied the ship with Shreyas Iyer (26) before he was taken by Bavuma off the bowling of Keshav Maharaj, but Suryakumar Yadav (39) and Chahar (54) had India scenting a win.

However, with just 10 runs required for victory, Chahar hit Ngidi straight up in the air, with Pretorious taking the catch, before Jasprit Bumrah (12) was caught by Bavuma off Phehlukwayo to leave India needing seven runs from nine balls with one wicket remaining, which fell when Yuzvendra Chahal (2) hit Pretorious straight to Miller.

Proteas in safe hands with Bavuma

It is safe to say that South Africa's ODI captaincy is in safe hands, quite literally when it comes to Bavuma as he took four catches to help his team dismiss India in Cape Town.

Bavuma also used his bowling attack expertly, with five different bowlers sharing the wickets (Ngidi and Phehlukwayo with three, Pretorius two and Sisanda Magala and Maharaj getting one each).

One day woes for India

Although the first two defeats in this series were the result of poor performances, this was a much tighter affair and stand-in ODI captain Rahul will be pleased with the improvement.

Chahar was one success story, coming in for his first game of the series and hitting 54 with the bat while taking two wickets with the ball, but this now makes it four defeats on the spin in ODIs.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has confirmed the Black Caps' limited-overs tour of Australia has been postponed until further notice over a lack of clarity as to when the team could return home.

Australia were scheduled to welcome their trans-Tasman rivals for three ODIs and a solitary T20I, with New Zealand set to be in the country from January 24 to February 9.

However, the New Zealand government has been unable to relax strict quarantine rules that have been imposed in response to the Omicron wave of coronavirus.

The conditions for re-entry into the country mean travellers have to undergo a 10-day period of hard quarantine.

As such, NZC has confirmed the tour has been shelved for the time being and discussions with Cricket Australia over when the matches can be played are ongoing.

"As we now know, the advent of Omicron prompted a change of heart from the government, resulting in a hard 10-day mandatory isolation period being imposed on all incoming travellers," said NZC chief executive David White.

"NZC and CA had explored a proposal to expand the tour and to push out the date on which the squad might return to New Zealand, in the hope that might be more achievable for the government.

"But we received advice this morning that they could not provide certainty over this, either."

No spectators will be allowed in to watch India's tour of South Africa due to a soaring number of coronavirus cases.

Six days before the Test series starts at Supersport Park, Cricket South Africa (CSA) revealed matches will be staged behind closed doors in order to protect the players.

The Proteas and India will play three Tests and as many ODIs without fans in attendance.

A CSA statement said: "Cricket South Africa (CSA) has noted the interests of cricket fans and other stakeholders on the scheduling and the release of the details of ticket sales, in connection with the forthcoming India vs Proteas tour that is scheduled to begin in less than a week.

"Regrettably, CSA wishes to inform the most ardent fans of cricket as well as all sports lovers that owing to the increasing COVID cases around the world, and the fourth wave locally, the two cricketing bodies have taken a joint decision to protect the players and the tour by NOT making tickets available for the India vs Proteas offerings.

"This decision was taken in order to avoid any breaches that could compromise the tour from a COVID-risk perspective and to also maintain a hazard-free bubble environment."

Pholetsi Moseki, the CSA acting chief executive officer, said: "We acknowledge the interest expressed by the fans and other stakeholders on being able to return to stadiums and want to assure all cricket fans that this decision was not taken lightly, but was instead taken in the best interest of the game and in the interest of the health and safety of all patrons.

"Consequently, we urge all sport lovers to exercise absolute care, during these extraordinary times.

"I also wish to take this time to urge all South Africans to continue spreading the positive messages of VACCINATION, VACCINATION AND VACCINATION, because this is the only way that we can truly get our country back into its high economic activity, which will assist government to open up the economy and all its forms of economic activity, including allowing greater numbers of fans back into stadiums."

 

New Zealand will tour Pakistan twice in 2022-23 after the two boards reached an agreement in Dubai last month.

The Black Caps pulled out of a limited-overs series in Pakistan at the last minute due to a government security alert.

Kane Williamson's side will be back in the country to play two Tests and three ODIs from December next year to January 2023.

They will then return for five ODIs and as many Twenty20 Internationals in April 2023 to make up for not facing Pakistan this year.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said: "Our respective chairmen, Ramiz Raja and Martin Snedden, had very fruitful and constructive discussions while in Dubai, further strengthening the bond between the two organisations It’s good to be going back."

Raja the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, said: "I am pleased with the outcomes of our discussions and negotiations, and thank Martin Snedden and his board for their understanding and support.

"This reflects the strong, cordial and historic relations the two boards have, and reconfirms Pakistan's status as an important member of the cricket fraternity."

The West Indies white-ball tour is at risk of being cancelled after five additional members of the touring party tested positive for Covid-19 during PCR tests administered by the Pakistan Cricket Board on Wednesday.

Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Justin Greaves as well as Assistant Coach Roddy Estwick and team physician Dr Akshai Mansingh all returned positive results and will now undergo a period of self-isolation. Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, and Kyle Mayers had tested positive prior to the start of the series are also in isolation.

With a total of six players now ruled out of the tour due to COVID-19 and a finger injury to Devon Thomas (sustained in the 1st T20I), CWI and PCB Officials met Thursday morning, after all members of the touring party were tested again, to determine whether the tour can continue.

According to sources, it was decided that the final T20 will be played but the ODI series could be called off if there is a further outbreak among the West Indies players.

The West Indies trail 0-2 in the T20 having lost the first match on December 13 by 63 runs and the second on December 14, by nine runs.

 

Virat Kohli has insisted he was not asked to reconsider his decision to step down as India's T20I skipper and says he was not aware he might lose the ODI captaincy.

Kohli confirmed in September that he had decided to take a step back from leading India in the shortest format after the conclusion of the T20 World Cup.

However, he had agreed to stay on as India's ODI and Test captain, and remain available for selection in T20Is.

India failed to progress from the Super 12s in the World Cup, with Rohit Sharma named as captain for the subsequent T20 series against New Zealand.

But on December 8, Rohit was named India's new permanent white-ball captain.

The BCCI president, Sourav Ganguly, explained that the selectors felt there would have too much leadership within the white-ball squad had there been two captains for each of the formats.

Ganguly also claimed that Kohli had been asked to stay on as captain. However, the batsman has contradicted this statement.

 

"When I decided to leave the T20I captaincy and approached the BCCI about my decision, it was received well," Kohli told reporters.

"There was no offence or hesitation, I wasn't told to reconsider it. It was received well; I was told it's progressive and it's a step in the right direction.

"Then I told them I'd like to continue in Tests and ODIs, unless the office bearers and selectors feel otherwise.

"My communication was clear in what I wanted to do. I gave them the option, that if they feel I shouldn't [remain captain in Tests and/or ODIs], the decision is in their hands."

Kohli, who is staying on as Test captain, also revealed he was only told of the BCCI's decision to replace him as ODI skipper an hour-and-a-half prior to the squad announcement for India's upcoming red-ball tour of South Africa.

"I was contacted one-and-a-half hours before the selection meeting on December 8 for the Test series," Kohli said.

"There was no prior communication to me at all from when I announced the T20I captaincy decision until December 8, when I got a call before the selection meeting.

"The chief selector [Chetan Sharma] discussed with me the Test team, to which we both agreed, and before ending the call I was told the five selectors have decided I will not be the ODI captain, to which I replied, "okay, fine".

"In the selection call afterwards, we chatted about it briefly. That's what happened. There was no communication prior to that at all."

But Kohli is adamant the captaincy call will not impact his preparation for the South Africa Test series.

He added: "To be prepared for a tour like this and to perform to the best of my abilities, nothing has, and nothing can derail me from that.

"A lot of things that happen on the outside are not ideal and not how one expects them to be, but you have to understand you can only do so much as an individual and we have to keep thing in tight perspective and do things that are in your control.

"I'm focussed, mentally prepared, and excited to do the best I can for the team and make the team win."

Rohit Sharma has replaced Virat Kohli as India's ODI skipper and has also taken over from Ajinkya Rahane as Test vice-captain.

Opening batter Sharma was installed as Twenty20 International captain for the recent series win over New Zealand following Kohli's decision to step down at the conclusion of the T20 World Cup.

Rohit has now landed the role on a permanent basis and will also lead his country in the 50-over format.

The 34-year-old will also serve as Kohli's deputy in the longest format rather than Rahane, who has retained his place in the squad for the upcoming three-match Test series in South Africa.

Rohit, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.return to the squad to face the Proteas after being rested for the 1-0 series win over New Zealand.

Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shubman Gill and Rahul Chahar miss out due to injuries.

The first Test begins at Supersport Park on December 26.

 

India Test squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Mohammed Shami., Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj.

Standby Players: Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Arzan Nagwaswalla.

England fast bowler Jofra Archer has revealed he is "almost at the end of the road" with his recovery from an elbow injury.

Archer has not played since July and was ruled out of the Ashes series in Australia.

The paceman was a frustrated spectator as Joe Root's side were skittled out for only 147 on day one of the series at the Gabba.

But Archer was able to offer some positive news for England fans on a painful day for the tourists.

"It was a tough one to take seeing the ball bouncing and seaming a little bit [when Australia were ripping through the England batting line-up]," he told Channel 7.

"This is one tour as a fast bowler that you really don't want to miss.

"The [scan] results came back yesterday and it was quite promising, actually – everything is moving forward nicely.

"It is just a matter of waiting a little bit more, being a little bit more patient. I am almost at the end of the road."

Injury has forced Kieron Pollard out of the West Indies’ white-ball tour of Pakistan later this month. Pollard suffered the injury during the recent ICC T20 World Cup and has not sufficiently recovered in time for the tour that runs from December 13-22.

Several newcomers including Justin Greaves, Gudakesh Motie and Odean Smith have been called to the West Indies squads that will play three One Day Internationals and three T20 Internationals in Pakistan from December 13-22 at the National Stadium in Karachi, Cricket West Indies announced today.

Meanwhile, Jason Holder is being rested for this tour due to workload management and Fabian Allen and Obed McCoy are unavailable due to injury and rehabilitation. Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell and Lendl Simmons are all unavailable due to personal reasons, CWI said.

Greaves, Motie and Smith have been called up for the ODIs along with middle-order batsman Shamarh Brooks.

Smith and Motie are also selected in the T20I squad for the first time, along with left-arm fast-bowling all-rounder Dominic Drakes. Motie was a travelling reserve for the recent ICC T20 World Cup, while Drakes and Smith were net bowlers before the start of the tournament

“There are a number of talented newcomers in each format that will have the opportunity to show what they are capable of at the international level,” said Chief Selector Roger Harper.

“Justin Greaves is a very talented player, had a good CG Insurance Super50 tournament and performed well in the President’s XI match against Ireland in 2020. Odean Smith really grabbed our attention in the last CPL. His pace was never in question, however, he has added greater control and has displayed the ability to be a wicket-taker.”

Brooks gets called after his performances in the last Super 50 Cup.

“Shamarh Brooks batted well in the CG Insurance Super50 Cup and followed that up with good performances in the CPL,” Harper explained.

“He will lend greater depth to the batting line-up. Gudakesh Motie has been rewarded for his outstanding performance in the CG Insurance Super50, followed up by his showing in the CPL. Dominic Drakes has the potential to be an outstanding all-rounder as he displayed during the last CPL.

 “The ODIs in Pakistan are part of the ICC ODI Super League where points gained work towards qualification for the ICC World Cup 2023. So these ODI’s are very important to us and are being treated as such.”

The ODI Series will be West Indies fourth series of 12 in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League in which the top seven teams can secure automatic qualification for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in India. West Indies currently lie in eighth position out of 13 teams and have the opportunity to move above Pakistan into seventh position.

The full squads are as follows:

One-Day Internationals: Kieron Pollard (Captain), Shai Hope (Vice-Captain), Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Justin Greaves, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Gudakesh Motie, Anderson Phillip, Nicholas Pooran, Raymon Reifer, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith and Hayden Walsh Jr.

 T20 Internationals: Kieron Pollard (Captain), Nicholas Pooran (Vice-Captain), Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Dominic Drakes, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motie, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Oshane Thomas and Hayden Walsh Jr.

TOUR SCHEDULE
December 13 – 1st T20I, Karachi
December 14 – 2nd T20I, Karachi
December 16 – 3rd T20I, Karachi
December 18 – 1st ODI, Karachi
December 20 – 2nd ODI, Karachi
December 22 – 3rd ODI, Karachi

 

Tabraiz Shamsi says there is no chance South Africa will be "slacking off" when they face the Netherlands in a historic three-match ODI series.

Temba Bavuma is among a host of South Africa players to be given a rest for matches that will form part of the Cricket World Cup Super League, so Keshav Maharaj leads the side in a series that starts at SuperSport Park on Friday.

South Africa are ninth in the Super League standings, while the Netherlands are bottom but have only played three matches as they eye a place in the 2023 World Cup.

The Dutch are very much underdogs for their first full international series against the Proteas in South Africa.

Shamsi says South Africa will not be taking anything for granted as they look to put the disappointment of missing out on the T20 World Cup semi-finals behind them.

The spinner said: "It is going to be a good challenge. They are obviously going to be up to the fight but so are we because we have some new guys in the squad. That's a lovely opportunity for all of us to put in performances and to put our hands up.

"As you have seen, we have a World Cup basically every year and we always want to win but the simple thing is to prepare as best as we can.

"We can't take these guys lightly because they have quality players in the squad. They have a lot of guys who have been playing county cricket as well but we are definitely not slacking off.

"Just looking at the opposition, they have some quality players in their squad and we will have to be at our best to beat them and get all the Super League points."

 

Proteas pacers can show strength in depth

South Africa are set to unleash a new-look pace attack on the Netherlands after Lungi Ngidi joined the list of absentees following his positive coronavirus test.

With Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje rested, there will be a chance for Sisanda Magala, Daryn Dupavillon and Junior Dala to charge in.

The experienced Wayne Parnell makes a long-awaited return, while Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo are also included.

Khaya Zondo is also back in the squad over three years after the middle-order batsman played his last ODI.

 

Feeling at home on tour

The tourists will have a former South Africa international in their ranks as Roelof van der Merwe returns to his homeland.

Colin Ackermann, Stephan Myburgh, Brandon Glover and Clayton Floyd were also born in South Africa, while Ryan ten Doeschate has taken on a mentor role following his recent retirement. 

The Netherlands have been smarting from failing to qualify for the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup, having lost all three matches.

Cricket West Indies is hoping to give Chris Gayle a proper send-off at Sabina Park when it hosts Ireland for a white-ball series in January next year.

West Indies Women captain, Stafanie Taylor, has warned against complacency from her team as they begin their quest to qualify for the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup to be held in New Zealand from March to April in 2022.

The Windies Women open their campaign tomorrow at 2:30am local time against Ireland in Harare and Taylor has warned against underestimating their opponents.

“That’s one thing you don’t want to do. Everyone’s here to win the competition. We’re not here to take any team for granted. We’re here to play hard cricket and come out on top,” said Taylor.

With the West Indies Women having completed a 3-0 series sweep against Pakistan prior to their arrival in Harare, Taylor says she hopes the team can carry their momentum into the tournament.

“I think we had a good series against Pakistan so I would love to see us continue where we left off from there. We’ve been playing some good cricket and getting some really good scores from our top players and even the lesser batting line up," she said.

Taylor concedes, however, that even with the team entering the qualifiers in good form there are still areas that need improvement.

“In our batting, it’s running the first one hard, turning twos into threes. In bowling, bowlers need to get early wickets and eliminate the wides,” she said.

The captain also provided some insight into the confidence of the team coming off some good results before the tournament.

“The morale is pretty good, especially seeing batters getting runs. I think that’s something that we’ve been working on because we’ve been relying on the bowling department for quite some time now so it’s really nice that the batters have been scoring those runs,” she said.

The West Indies other group games will be Saturday, November 27th against Sri Lanka and Monday, November 29th against the Netherlands with both matches beginning at 2:30am local time.

The Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers feature nine teams divided into two groups.

West Indies Women are in group A alongside Ireland, Sri Lanka and The Netherlands while group B comprises Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Zimbabwe and the USA.

Papua New Guinea were also supposed to be in the field but had to withdraw after a Covid-19 outbreak within the team before boarding their flight to Zimbabwe.

The top three teams from each group will advance to the Super 6 phase and the top three teams at the end of that phase will qualify for the 2022 World Cup alongside Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa and England.

 

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