Carlos Brathwaite is playing club cricket for Knowle and Dorridge in Birmingham ahead of a stint as captain of Birmingham Bears in the T20 Blast and he endured a debut to forget this weekend.

West Indies star Carlos Brathwaite had a day to forget after making his debut for Birmingham & District Premier League side Knowle and Dorridge Cricket Club.

Brathwaite, who memorably guided the West Indies to victory in the 2016 T20 World Cup with a brutal final over assault on Ben Stokes, is set to captain Birmingham Bears in this year's T20 Blast. And with the competition getting underway next month, the all-rounder is taking the opportunity to get in some game time with Knowle and Dorridge first as he returns from a shoulder injury which forced him to undergo surgery.

Over the Easter weekend, Brathwaite debuted for the club in a 50-over match against Leamington Cricket Club. However, things could not have gone much worse for the 33-year-old.

While bowling for the first time in six months due to his injury, Brathwaite was unable to pick up a wicket and conceded 31 runs from his four overs, making him the most expensive Knowle and Dorridge bowler. He then holed out for a first ball duck while batting as his side lost the match by 12 runs.

Brathwaite later tweeted about the match, revealing that his car had also been stolen. "What a day yesterday," he wrote.

"First time bowling in a game after injury for six months - First ball duck from a long hop - Car stolen but you know what, woke up this morning, Sun is shining and giving thanks. Happy Easter to all."

The 2022 Vitality Blast will run from May 22-July 16.

 

Stuart Broad has distanced himself from speculation he could succeed Joe Root as captain of the England Test team.

Yorkshire batsman Root announced he was stepping down from the role earlier this week, having led the side to both a record number of victories and defeats during his tenure.

Broad, who sat out the recent series defeat in the West Indies as part of a much-vaunted "red ball reset", is the third most-capped player in England Test history, with 152 matches.

It has been mooted England could turn to Broad, at least in the short term, to replace Root but the star paceman is not sure that scenario will play out.

"Naturally, I am aware that my name has been touted as a potential successor to Joe as England captain," Broad wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

"I guess that is because I am an experienced centrally contracted player who has been around the international game a long time. However, it is not something I have given any thought.

"I am not currently in possession of a shirt within the England Test team and my focus is very much on changing that by taking wickets for Nottinghamshire over the next few weeks.

"In fact, I would argue we are in a fairly unique position as far as selection for the Test team goes right now in that there are only two players whose names you could write in pen on the scorecard.

"One of them is Joe Root, the other is Ben Stokes - and one of them isn't going to be captain for the first Test of the summer against New Zealand at Lord's on June 2 because he has just given the job away."

Despite his assertions, Broad remains one of the likelier candidates to succeed Root within the wider Test squad, due to the lack of logical options.

Stokes has previously ruled himself out of the position, while former skipper Alastair Cook remains the only player still at county level to have previously led the side in Test cricket.

England will play three Tests against New Zealand in June to kick off their summer, before subsequent series' with India and South Africa.

Ben Stokes is the only candidate to replace Joe Root as England's Test captain, according to former skipper Michael Vaughan.

Root's record-breaking stint as captain was ended on Friday when he stepped down after a dismal run of results.

England have lost five consecutive Test series, winning just one of their past 17 matches under Root.

Root, who will remain in the team as one of cricket's elite batsmen, has overseen more Test matches (64), wins (27) and losses (26) than any other England skipper.

Attention is now turning to who might take on the role next, but England's poor performances and inconsistent team selections provide few obvious alternatives.

Superstar all-rounder Stokes is among the favourites, though, and that is who Vaughan would turn to.

"I don't see anyone else who could take the position and be guaranteed of their place in the side," Vaughan told the BBC's Test Match Special podcast.

"In Ben Stokes, you have clearly got someone who has got a smart cricket brain, he's going to give it everything, he is certainly going to have the respect of the players around him."

However, Vaughan added a word of caution: "Stokes is everything in a person and a player that you would want, but he will need a lot of support around him, because when you have got that all-rounder tag and they've got that persona, they think they can do everything.

"You need a senior core around him to give him a few pointers.

"You need to have someone say, 'listen Ben, just concentrate on what you're really good at', and that's out on the field, making decisions and trying to just give us your best performance.

"If he performs like we know he can, he will lead the team by example."

Stokes has captained England in only a single Test match previously, scoring 43 and 46 with the bat while taking 4-49 and 2-39 with the ball in a four-wicket defeat at home to West Indies in July 2020.

James Anderson hailed Joe Root for balancing the stresses of captaincy and becoming one of the world's greatest batters, after the England Test skipper stepped down on Friday.

Root was appointed in 2017 as the successor to Alastair Cook and boasts the most wins by an England captain in the longest format of the game (27).

However, Yorkshireman Root also holds the record for the most losses as skipper of his country (26), and decided to resign following a 4-0 Ashes thrashing and 1-0 series defeat against West Indies.

A new-look England side left out Anderson and Stuart Broad, who have 1,177 Test dismissals between them, for the latter series as the tourists made it just one win in their last 17 red-ball outings.

Root's side are also without victory in their last five series, but Anderson praised his team-mate of many years for the balancing act he has managed between captaincy and his batting.

Indeed, despite England's struggles in red-ball cricket, Root racked up 1,708 runs in 2021 – the most ever by an England player in a calendar year and third-most by any player in history.

"It's been a pleasure to be part of Joe Root's England side," Anderson wrote on Instagram.

"The way he's managed to balance the responsibilities and stresses of leading the team while also becoming one of the world's greatest batters has been extraordinary.

"He is an incredible ambassador for the sport and I can't wait to see him back out in the middle where I'm certain he'll cement himself as one of the all-time greats."

Anderson will be hoping he can join Root on the field when England host New Zealand, with the first Test starting on June 2, as the 39-year-old seamer looks to return after his West Indies omission.

One argument for not removing Joe Root as England Test captain was the seeming lack of credible replacements to take over the responsibility.

Well, that became a none issue on Good Friday when it was announced Root had stood down from the position after winning 27 Test matches as skipper – a record for an England captain.

His tenure came under question after England failed to win in five straight series and now the hunt is on for the Yorkshireman's successor.

Stats Perform have evaluated the most likely candidates to do so.

BEN STOKES

Already England's vice-captain and surely the top replacement to fill the void. It is hard to look beyond Stokes, not least because – aside from Root – he is about the only shoo-in for the Test side. So often England's saviour, the star all-rounder has 5,061 runs and 174 wickets from 79 Tests (averaging 35.89 with the bat, and 32.12 with the ball). A recent four-month hiatus, in which Stokes cited mental health reasons, may raise questions as to whether he will want to take on the job, but he certainly appears to be the frontrunner.

JOS BUTTLER

Buttler's main issue, like so many in the red-ball team, is that his place in the side is far from assured. Having said that, Buttler has been a big part of the leadership team in white-ball cricket and the attack-minded wicketkeeper-batsman may thrive if given the opportunity to lead his country in the five-day game. With 2,907 runs and a couple of Test centuries to his name, Buttler could be the one England turn to next.

STUART BROAD

The decision to drop Broad and James Anderson – the former second only to the latter in England's list of all-time leading Test wicket takers – from the recent series in the West Indies was met with complete bemusement. Admittedly, at the age of 35 Broad is in the twilight of his Test career but he could certainly provide a good short-term option until a more viable solution emerges. He has previously captained England in the T20 format too.

RORY BURNS

Recently dropped from the Test team, Burns is maybe more of an outside shot but perhaps with the added responsibility of captaincy he could cement a place in the team. Burns has proved his cricketing nous by leading Surrey to the County Championship in 2018. Burns would need to start scoring consistent runs at the top of the order, though.

JONNY BAIRSTOW

Bairstow has no shortage of grit and desire. Moreover, he was the only England player to score a century in the Ashes debacle and also made a valiant hundred in the first Test against the Windies, which helped secure a draw in that match. However, Bairstow often finds himself in a battle to even make the team. Ollie Pope's emergence means he is not a shoo-in as a middle-order batman, while he is up against Buttler and Ben Foakes to play wicketkeeper.

There was a sense of inevitability about the impending resignation of England Test captain Joe Root.

Yorkshireman Root repeatedly reiterated his commitment to leading his country in the face of adversity, echoing his desire to continue after a 4-0 hammering in Australia and 1-0 series loss to West Indies.

The latter defeat made it five Test series without a win for England under Root, who has managed just one victory in his past 17 international red-ball outings as skipper.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad, the duo with 1,177 Test dismissals between them, were also omitted for the tour to the Caribbean as a new-look England side struggled as many of their predecessors had in recent years.

The ECB are now without a managing director, head coach, selector or Test captain ahead of a series against New Zealand, starting in June, with Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler among the favourite skipper replacements.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the highs and lows of Root's stewardship, which came to an end on Friday.

Perfect Proteas start – 2017

Root could not have dreamt of a better start to international captaincy following his appointment as skipper, replacing Alastair Cook – England's leading run-scorer in Test cricket (12,472).

England ran out comfortable victors against South Africa in the first Test at Lord's in July 2017 under Root, who crafted a magnificent 190.

The hosts slipped to defeat in the following meeting with the Proteas, with Root conceding his honeymoon period was already over, but responded to claim a 3-1 series defeat over Faf du Plessis' tourists.

Root accumulated 461 runs in the series, 131 more than his nearest challenger and Yorkshire colleague Jonny Bairstow, as he averaged an impressive 57.6.

 

Joy in the Indian summer – 2018

As Root would quickly learn, any hope of success rapidly diminished when his side were to travel Down Under, with a 4-0 thrashing by Australia and a series loss to New Zealand to follow.

However, England responded in remarkable fashion against the world's number one ranked side India as they recorded a 4-1 victory and celebrated a series of milestones.

Root fell slightly short of his own standards with the bat, finishing fourth with 319 runs behind his predecessor Cook (327), Buttler (349) and visiting captain Virat Kohli (593).

Cook capped a fine international career with a ton in his final appearance at The Oval, while Anderson moved past Australian Glenn McGrath to fourth in the all-time Test dismissals list.

Despite the retirement of Cook, things were starting to look brighter for Root and Co.

Overseas success at last – 2018

Root's record overseas as captain made for poor reading before the tour to Sri Lanka, having lost five of seven Tests while drawing the other two.

But the left-field selection of spin specialist Keaton Jennings and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes proved fruitful as both recorded hundreds in the first Test win over the hosts.

Root joined in on the act with a ton in the series-clinching second meeting, before becoming the first Englishman in 55 years to secure a whitewash abroad in a series of three matches or more.

"We are not a one-trick pony in our own conditions anymore," Root said as he hailed his tourists, who were again defeated in the Caribbean on the following tour.

South Africa saviour after Ashes failure – 2019-20

The pressure was mounting on Root after losses to West Indies and failure to regain the Ashes at home.

Silverwood was appointed as the successor to Trevor Bayliss and, despite a flu bug running through the England side that lost the first Test in Centurion, the visitors battled to a series 3-1 victory.

Stokes and Bairstow led the way for the tourists, who lost Anderson to injury in the second outing and utilised newcomers Ollie Pope, Dom Bess and Mark Wood.

There was also no three-figure score for Root, but that did not matter to him as he concluded "the sky's the limit" for his youthful and promising side.

 

Stokes-less England demolished in India – 2021

COVID-19 accounted for much of cricket in 2020, when England ran out 2-1 victors against West Indies and 1-0 winners against Pakistan after Root oversaw the series win in South Africa at the start of the year.

But 2021 signalled the start of the downfall of Root, who followed up another encouraging series victory against Sri Lanka with series losses to India and then New Zealand, without Stokes, who took an indefinite break from cricket to prioritise his mental wellbeing and recovery from injury.

India then visited for a five-Test series, which they led 2-1 before a coronavirus-enforced cancellation of the final meeting as Jasprit Bumrah headed Kohli's bowling attack that tore through England.

While Root cited "small margins" as the difference in a topsy-turvy series, there was nothing competitive about Root's side when they headed Down Under again.

Ashes disappointment – 2021-22

Australia have proved a step too far for many an England captain, and Root was no different as his team collapsed in abject fashion to highlight the deficiencies of the Test side and county set-up.

Pat Cummins' rampant hosts, aided by some Scott Boland brilliance, secured the Ashes series within 12 days of cricket – longer than England were required to quarantine on their arrival Down Under.

The visitors failed to pass 300 even once, and during the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, England were bowled out for 68 in their second innings.

The tourists also collapsed on the third day of the final Test in Hobart when they lost 10 second-innings wickets for just 56 runs, with only a fourth Test draw in Sydney preventing a 5-0 whitewash.

Nevertheless, Root's batting did not falter despite captaincy pressure. His 1,708 runs in Test cricket last year were the most ever by an England player – and third-most by any player in history.

 

Caribbean conclusion – 2022

Head coach Silverwood was dismissed in the wake of the Ashes thrashing, with Paul Collingwood appointed as interim coach to work with Root.

Bold calls followed as the evergreen Broad and Anderson were left out, with Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Fisher, Craig Overton, Chris Woakes and Wood the seamers to feature in the Caribbean.

Credible stalemates across the first two Tests slightly raised the incredibly low levels of optimism surrounding the Test side, but a chastening 10-wicket loss in Grenada confirmed another series defeat.

That left Root with just one win in his past 17 Tests, and he decided to call an end to his captaincy on Friday, though he outlined his intentions to carry on playing international cricket for England.

He ends with the most wins as an England Test captain (27) but also the most defeats (26).

Ben Stokes has thanked Joe Root for his "sacrifices" after the England Test captain stepped down from the role.

Root was appointed as the successor to Alastair Cook in 2017 and holds the record for most wins as an England captain in the longest format of the game (27).

However, disappointing returns in recent outings, with England winless in five Test series, brought Root's tenure into question, and the Yorkshireman announced he had stepped down with immediate effect on Friday.

Stokes is among the favourites to replace Root and took to Instagram shortly after the announcement to show his appreciation.

"Been a great ride with you my friend," Stokes wrote. "Watching one of my great mates lead us all out on to the field was a privilege.

"You have given everything to English cricket and we all want to say thank you for your sacrifices and hard work."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan also had words of praise for Root, despite being counted among his critics in recent times.

Following the series defeat to West Indies last month, the 47-year-old told BBC Radio Five Live: "If [Root] rings me in the next week and asks for some advice, I'll be dead honest: I'd tell him to step down."

Vaughan posted on Twitter on Friday: "He gave it everything with very little support for the red ball team under his watch... then he had to deal with COVID times.

"He still is and will [be] the game's best role model for many, many years. Now enjoy being the senior player for many more seasons."

Joe Root has called an end to his England Test captaincy.

Root was appointed as the successor to Alastair Cook in 2017 and holds the record for most wins as an England captain in the longest format of the game (27).

But disappointing returns in recent outings, with England winless in five Test series, brought Root's tenure into question.

Head coach Chris Silverwood was sacked in the wake of a 4-0 Ashes thrashing by Australia before a series loss to West Indies under interim coach Paul Collingwood.

The ECB are expected to soon announce a new managing director to shape the future of English cricket, and Root confirmed on Friday that he would not take up the captaincy for any longer.

He said: "After returning from the Caribbean tour and having time to reflect, I have decided to step down as England Men's Test captain. It has been the most challenging decision I have had to make in my career but having discussed this with my family and those closest to me; I know the timing is right.  

"I am immensely proud to have captained my country and will look back on the past five years with enormous pride. It has been an honour to have done the job and to have been a custodian of what is the pinnacle of English cricket.  

"I have loved leading my country, but recently it's hit home how much of a toll it has taken on me and the impact it has had on me away from the game.   

"I want to take this opportunity to thank my family, Carrie, Alfred and Bella, who have lived it all with me and been incredible pillars of love and support throughout. All of the players, coaches and support staff that have helped me during my tenure. It has been a great privilege to have been with them on this journey.  

"I would also like to thank all the England supporters for their unwavering support. We are lucky to have the best fans in the world, and wherever we play, that positivity is something we always cherish and admire, which is a huge drive for all of us out there.  

"I am excited to continue representing the Three Lions and producing performances that will enable the team to succeed. I look forward to helping the next captain, my teammates and coaches in whatever way I can."

England have won only one of their last 17 Test matches, while Root also suffered more defeats than any other captain of his country in red-ball cricket (26).

Ben Stokes, Root's vice-captain, Rory Burns, Stuart Broad and Jos Buttler are among the favourites to lead a new-look England against New Zealand in a Test series that starts in June.

Tom Harrison, the ECB's chief executive who will be tasked with finding a new managing director, head coach, selector and Test captain before New Zealand visit, hailed the efforts of Root.

"Joe has been an exceptional role model during his tenure, balancing the demands of Test captaincy whilst continuing to shine brilliantly through his own personal performances," he said.

"He has led by example, and that has resulted in more Test wins than any other England captain, alongside a number of famous series home and away victories.   
  
"Joe's leadership qualities were exemplified by how he led the team through some of the most difficult and uncertain times we have known, playing during the pandemic all over the world, which speaks volumes for him as a leader and as a person.   

"I know that every single person who has played or worked under Joe's captaincy will speak of his integrity and humility as a person, as much as his determination and example as a leader. 

"Off the field, Joe has been no different. It has been a privilege and a huge pleasure to have worked with him in his capacity as our men's Test captain, and I know he'll continue to drive English cricket forward as a senior player, offering his wealth of experience and advice to support his successor."

England great James Anderson is "still trying to make sense" of being dropped for the West Indies tour and is disappointed with the manner in which he was informed.

Lancashire bowler Anderson was omitted by England as they opted for a new-look squad, led by interim coach Paul Collingwood, to the Caribbean for a three-Test series in March.

Fellow seamer Stuart Broad was also left out as Joe Root's tourists, without the pair that have 1,177 Test wickets between them, fell to a 1-0 series defeat against Kraigg Brathwaite's hosts.

Anderson, who is England's leading Test wicket-taker in history with 640 dismissals, remains confused by the decision, citing a lack of contact and feedback as his main issue.

"It's a bit strange because I am still centrally contracted but have not had too much feedback from them [England] so I have just been trying to work with the guys here at Lancashire," he said.

"I'm still trying to make sense of it [being dropped] and I've just put it to one side. It was completely out of my control. I've got to focus on what I can control and that is bowling as well as I possibly can.

"Firstly, that's here at Lancashire this next two months and take as many wickets as I can."

Chris Silverwood was dismissed in the wake of a 4-0 Ashes thrashing and the ECB are in search of a permanent coaching appointment, along with a new managing director.

Anderson understands England are going through a difficult period, but explained he expected more than a "five-minute call" from interim director Andrew Strauss.

"I would have loved a sit-down face-to-face. I would have loved more than a five-minute phone call," he continued.

"It is difficult because there is no one in those key positions [at England]. I would expect to hear something more once those positions are filled. There's no one in those positions permanently so I am assuming that is why I have not heard anything from them.

"It is what it is. Something like this for me is quite a big deal because it came out of the blue and I still feel like I am bowling well. I'm still in the top ten in the world rankings.

"I still feel like I am doing a job for the team. So I feel like I've got a lot to offer, not just on the field but off it, and I've really enjoyed working with the other bowlers that are coming through."

 

Anderson has not been permitted by England to play in Lancashire's first County Championship match against Kent, which starts on Thursday, due to his central contract.

However, the 39-year-old will be allowed to feature in the second red-ball fixture with Gloucestershire as he looks to again prove his worth to England ahead of their next Test series with New Zealand, which begins in June.

That meeting with Kane Williamson's tourists remains Anderson's sole aim for now.

"If I think of the build-up to a Test series, I want to be in as good a form as possible going into that series," he said.

"For me, the best way of doing that is performing for Lancashire, trying to win games of cricket, and hopefully will lead to a call-up."

England could be considered as "the biggest favourite" for the 2022 World Cup, according to former Three Lions manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Gareth Southgate's team reached the semi-finals at Russia 2018, matching England's best effort at a World Cup since they triumphed on home soil in 1966.

England then made their first major tournament final appearance since 1966 when they faced Italy in a Euro 2020 showdown last year, only to lose on penalties.

Eriksson managed England at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, reaching the quarter-finals of each tournament respectively, while also getting to the last eight at Euro 2004.

Beaten by Brazil in 2002, and Portugal at the following two tournaments, Eriksson was unable to guide England's 'golden generation' to success.

But the Swede believes Southgate's team have earned the right to be considered among the favourites – and, indeed, the frontrunner overall – to succeed in Qatar later this year.

Eriksson told Stats Perform: "I think they are one of the big teams who can win, and maybe they are the biggest favourite.

 

"I'm not sure how strong Brazil and Argentina are in this moment, but in Europe, Italy [are] not there. Spain, I don't think they are good enough to win it too. Germany, you never know they could do it. Belgium, always a good team."

Eriksson also believes England should easily progress from Group B, in which they have been drawn alongside Iran, the United States and one of Ukraine, Scotland or Wales.

"The group with England, Iran, United States and then it's Ukraine Scotland or Wales. I mean, it's always difficult in the World Cup, but I can't see them not winning that group," Eriksson added.

"That's impossible. They will win it easily. And then it depends always, who are you going to meet next stage, and then if you win there you go to the quarter-final.

"So, a little bit of luck there and no injuries, important players and so on and England can do it."

Eddie Jones declared England's Test series against Australia a "vital" staging post on the road to the World Cup, as it was revealed the Sydney Cricket Ground will host the potential tour decider.

England trailed home a distant third in the recent Six Nations, winning just two of five matches for the second successive year, and the progress the Rugby Football Union (RFU) would have hoped to witness was difficult to detect.

With the 2023 Rugby World Cup now less than 18 months away, England will be hoping to show significant improvement when they tackle the Wallabies in three July Tests.

The dates and venues for those fixtures were confirmed on Tuesday, with Perth's Optus Stadium hosting the first game on July 2, before the teams battle at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium seven days later.

Sydney's SCG will then put on the third game on July 16, with international rugby returning to the famous cricket venue for the first time since 1986.

England last toured Australia in 2016, when Jones' then Six Nations grand slam winners got up and running with a 39-28 victory at Suncorp Stadium, on their way to a 3-0 series clean sweep.

Jones, England's Australian head coach, must know there will be pressure on his shoulders if his team fail to perform Down Under this time.

For now, the RFU has his back, with chief executive Bill Sweeney continuing to endorse the 62-year-old's leadership.

Jones said: "The Australia tour is a great opportunity for growth for this team and a good challenge at the end of the season.

"It will be the first time many of the younger players have toured abroad with England and it will be vital practice and experience ahead of the World Cup, along with the 2023 Six Nations. We last went there in 2016 and had a very successful tour.

"Australia will be a good challenge for this team. They have rebuilt strongly and they are well coached by Dave Rennie. We're looking forward to getting out there and continuing the development and journey of this England side."

Wallabies boss Rennie, whose side lost to Scotland, England and Wales on tour last November, is also looking to show that Australia can build momentum for the World Cup in France.

Rennie said: "We talk a lot about wanting to challenge ourselves against the best teams in the world and three Test matches in a row against England is the perfect opportunity to do that."

Wayne Rooney would be "delighted" if Harry Kane surpasses him as England's record goalscorer, but hopes it happens before the 2022 World Cup.

Kane matched Bobby Charlton on 49 goals for the Three Lions when he struck the winner against Switzerland on March 26.

However, Gareth Southgate chose to rotate his squad for last week's meeting with Ivory Coast at Wembley.

England cruised to a 3-0 win, with Kane coming on in the 62nd minute, though the Tottenham striker did not score.

Rooney was stunned the forward, who he labelled as "one of the best players the Premier League has seen", did not start against Ivory Coast, as he believes it would be better for England if Kane breaks the record prior to the World Cup, which starts in November.

"I'd be delighted for him," Rooney said on Sky Sports. "I was so surprised he didn't play against Ivory Coast.

"I think for him, for Gareth as well, he should try and get that record before the World Cup so it doesn't become a distraction, so I would have played him to try and get that record before the World Cup comes along, so there's no distraction on it."

The Derby County boss was also asked if Kane, who he also called a "genuine, nice, humble guy" will go on to surpass Alan Shearer as the Premier League's record goalscorer. The 28-year-old is currently 82 short of the haul of 260.

 

"I think he gets it, I think he beats Shearer. He's young enough to do that, if you look at his numbers, he'll have no problem," Rooney said.

Kane turned in a star performance in Spurs' thrashing of Newcastle United on Sunday. He provided one assist, but was involved heavily as Antonio Conte's team moved into the top four.

After a slow start to the season, Kane now has 12 league goals and six assists, and Rooney is thrilled to see how the forward has developed his game, in particular under Conte.

"When you get a bit older you lose that sharpness but I don't think it’s the case with Harry," Rooney added. 

"I think over the last couple of seasons, he has been dropping deeper, and I think this is the first time it looks like it's worked on. If you look every time the ball is played into him, Tottenham have got players sprinting and that allows him to use his quality. He can do both. He can play as a nine, a 10, he's an incredible player.

"I think Harry Kane of three, four years ago, all he's thinking about goals. Now he's thinking goals and assists.

"I've been there, I used to love assisting goals, so I know he wants to get the goalscoring record but I think he wants to get the assist record as well and he's capable of doing it.

"He's not old, he's a fairly young lad, I don't think his speed will have gone, I think he's done that on his own back but what Conte's done is he's gone in and worked on it. If you look at the reaction of the other players, they know he can deliver that pass. It's almost like [Francesco] Totti at Roma, he'd come deep and they'd have runners going beyond him.

"The one thing I think he needs to do a bit more is go and join in, once he's played the pass, because if it comes into the box he's the one player you want to be on the end of it."

Kane has assisted 40 goals in the Premier League; his first 20 assists were spread across his first 211 appearances in the competition, while his last 20 have come in his last 63 matches.

Alyssa Healy produced a record-breaking 170 to guide Australia to their seventh Women's Cricket World Cup but she still believes she is not a "big-game player".

Healy registered the highest score – by a man or woman – in a World Cup final in a superb 138-ball knock, becoming the first player to score a century in both the semi-final and final at the same World Cup.

The wicketkeeper-batter's scintillating outing also ensured she set a record for the most runs scored by a woman in the tournament, taking her tally to an astonishing 509 in Christchurch, as Australia defeated England by 71 runs on Sunday.

But the 32-year-old opener does not think she can be labelled as a player for the big occasions despite her heroics.

"Not sure I'll let you name it. I'll let you find it," Healy told reporters after the final. "But, 'brave'? I just think you've got to be brave to come out in situations like that to be able to play your game.

"You know that the opposition are going to come really hard at you. They want to take your wicket early and you have got to be brave and back your skills.

"So, personally, I'm really proud of that. I still don't think I'm a big-game player. So, turn that down, but you have just got to be brave to be able to do it."

Healy became the first player – man or woman – to hit 150 or more in the final of a world tournament, and she acknowledged that the victory means even more after failing to make the World Cup final in 2017.

"I don't think I've ever dreamt of anything like that before, I can guarantee you that," she added.

"But I'm just really proud to have been able to contribute to this win. I messaged Pez [Ellyse Perry] this morning when I found out she was in the XI and I said, like, 'I just want to be a part of it. I really want this. I want to contribute to this win and to be able to do that was really special.

"I ran drinks the whole 2013 World Cup. You know we didn't make the final in 2017. So, for me, this trophy means a lot and to be able to turn up at the back end and go all right in the last two games means a whole heap."

The records continued to tumble for Healy, whose 170 also surpassed Adam Gilchrist's 149 in 2007 as the highest score in a World Cup final by an Australian wicketkeeper-batter, but she remains uninterested in those achievements.

"That's pretty cool, [but] I'm not in the game for that sort of stuff. Getting our team into a winning position was the most important thing," she responded on Gilchrist's record.

"I guess one day when I retire and I reflect on my career, it's a moment that I can kind of remember and cherish that. I always looked up to Adam Gilchrist; Uncle Ian [Healy] first, but then Adam Gilchrist, so to knock him off the pedestal - sorry about that - but I'm sure he'll appreciate it."

Ukraine midfielder Taras Stepanenko wants their World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final against Scotland to be postponed again.

Scotland and Ukraine were meant to meet last month, but FIFA delayed the match until June due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

As such, Wales – who beat Austria 2-1 in their play-off semi – are yet to find out which team they will face for a place at the Qatar World Cup in November.

Wales, Scotland and Ukraine all know which group they will be in should they progress, however, with the winner of the play-off path having been drawn alongside England, Iran and the United States in Group B.

But with no sign of the conflict in Ukraine ceasing, Stepanenko, who has played 69 times for his country, has called on FIFA to delay the match with Scotland again. 

The Shakhtar Donetsk man, who last played a match in December, told The Sunday Times: "We don't want to be known as victims here. We are strong and capable guys, everyone is fine, and we can play 100 per cent.

"But the question I would ask is how can we play such an important game when you haven't played a match for such a long time?

"Every football player knows that if you recover from an injury for a long time, no matter how much you work out in the gym and do running, you go out to play football and everything is different.

"The level and strength may not be enough with one match, but we will be asked to play two incredibly tough matches in maybe four days to get to the World Cup. If there is no option, then we must play.

"But I think it would be extremely difficult to achieve two positive results. We are hoping FIFA and UEFA recognise this and postpone the matches to give us more time to prepare."

Speaking after the World Cup draw was made in Doha on Friday, both England manager Gareth Southgate and USA coach Gregg Berhalter stressed they were not concerned by how long it might take for the final team in their group to be confirmed, given the extraordinary circumstances.

"When that tie is played out is irrelevant really," said Southgate, while Berhalter added: "We're patient on that and pulling for [Ukraine] 100 per cent."

Alyssa Healy made history by producing one of the greatest ODI innings as Australia beat England by 71 runs to win the Women's Cricket World Cup for a seventh time.

Healy crafted a magnificent 170 – a record score by a woman or man in a World Cup final – as Australia racked up a mammoth 356-5 after Heather Knight won the toss and opted to field at Hagley Oval on Sunday.

The wicketkeeper-batter struck 26 boundaries in an outstanding 138-ball knock, becoming the first player to score a century in both the semi-final and final at the same World Cup.

Healy's masterclass also ensured she set a record for the most runs scored by a woman in a World Cup, taking her tally to an astonishing 509 in Christchurch.

Rachael Haynes (68) and Healy got Australia off to a dream start with an opening stand of 160 before number three Beth Mooney made 62 off only 47 balls.

Healy's epic knock was finally ended by Anya Shrubsole (3-46) in the 46th over, the centurion stumped by Amy Jones.

Defending champions England faced a massive run chase and Nat Sciver ensured they might make a good fight of it, scoring a brilliant unbeaten 148.

Sciver was left stranded, though, as opener Tammy Beaumont was the second-highest scorer with only 27.

Alana King (3-64), Jess Jonassen (3-57) and Megan Schutt (2-42) did the bulk of the damage as Australia regained the title.

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