Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves has given the proposed West Indies tour of England in July his blessing once Cricket West Indies can establish that the players representing the region will be safe.

Dwayne Bravo has been out of international cricket for a while and when he returned most recently for the West Indies, he looked rusty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lionel Messi delivered a moment of history for Barcelona on this day in 2009, as Manchester United lost the Champions League final in Rome.

Arsene Wenger also has fond memories of May 27 from his Arsenal career, having achieved an unprecedented FA Cup feat at Wembley three years ago.

Shane Watson powered Chennai Super Kings to 2018 IPL glory, while back in 1995, the great Jonah Lomu scored the first tries of a famous New Zealand career.

Join us in looking back on some memorable moments from this day in years gone by.

 

1995 – Jonah Lomu scores his first tries for New Zealand

One of rugby union's all-time most famous faces made his mark on this day back in 1995.

Lomu scored his first two tries for New Zealand as they claimed a 43-19 win over Ireland in a Pool C clash at the Rugby World Cup in Johannesburg.

He finished the tournament as joint-top try-scorer on seven as the All Blacks reached the final, where they were famously beaten by hosts South Africa.

Lomu tragically died at the age of 40 in November 2015.

2018 – Shane Watson scores unbeaten century as Chennai Super Kings win the IPL

It is two years since a spectacular innings from Watson secured Indian Premier League glory for Chennai Super Kings.

Questioned for putting their faith in a squad of players approaching the end of their careers, it was fitting that Chennai's triumph would be sealed by 36-year-old Watson's unbeaten 117 from 57 balls.

Watson hit eight sixes and 11 fours to dominate the contest, the Super Kings easing to an eight-wicket win with nine balls remaining.

 

2009 – Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Champions League final

Barcelona became champions of Europe on this day 11 years ago, denying Manchester United a piece of history and securing their own place in the record books.

Holders United were looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Champions Leagues in the modern format but were dealt an early blow when Samuel Eto'o squeezed a 10th-minute shot past Edwin van der Sar.

A header from Lionel Messi – a goal he still considers the most important of his career – made it 2-0 in the second half as Barca won the treble for the first time in their history in Pep Guardiola's first season in charge.

2017 – Arsenal beat Chelsea in FA Cup final as Wenger wins the trophy for a seventh time

Arsene Wenger became the most successful manager in FA Cup history three years ago when he lifted the trophy for a seventh time.

Premier League champions Chelsea were favourites, but a fourth-minute goal from Alexis Sanchez set the tone for the final.

Victor Moses' red card 68 minutes in made life tougher for the Blues and, although Diego Costa grabbed an equaliser, Aaron Ramsey struck what proved to be the winner three minutes later.

Aside from Wenger's feat – his 10th major trophy as Gunners boss – it was a final fondly remembered by fans for the performance of Per Mertsesacker, who was outstanding at the heart of defence.

The Ultimate Test XI is done and the fans have made their votes count, overruling a panel of experts and the SportsMax Zone to pick two spinners in their line-up.

From jump street, the fans looked as if they would not be swayed by the opinions of the Zone and the panel, who had to get their ducks in a row if they wanted the final say on who makes SportsMax’s Ultimate XI.

Whereas all were agreed that India’s Sunil Gavaskar was probably the greatest opener the world has ever seen as was a shoo-in for the first opening spot on offer, the fans disagreed with the panel and the Zone on the other opener. Hands down, Fanalysts believed Gordon Greenidge, despite boasting a lower average than most in the Ultimate XI Test shortlist, was the man for the job.

The Fanalysts were outvoted as the Zone, who had 30% of all votes and the panel, who had another 30, believed Australia’s Matthew Hayden the man to walk to the crease in partnership with Gavaskar.

Then there were other differences of opinion. According to the panel, the greatest middle-order batsmen of all time, read Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, and Sir Vivian Richards.

The Zone team, despite being made up of solely Caribbean journalists, disagreed. Sir Viv, they said could not fill the third spot in that middle order ahead of an Australian, Sir Donald Bradman.

The Fanalysts agreed and put the weight of their 40% of the vote squarely behind the Australian great.

So now the fans missed out on one of their picks for opener and the panel missed out on one of their picks for a middle-order batsman.

At the allrounder position and the wicketkeeper position, there was unison as Fanalysts, Zone and panel believed Sir Garfield Sobers should fill the former position, while Australia’s Adam Gilchrist is the best the world has ever seen don gloves.

It is in the bowling category that the most controversy was expected and that’s where the most variance occurred.

According to the Zone, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose, Wasim Akram and Muttiah Muralitharan would provide the greatest bowling attack the world has ever seen.

The panel disagreed.

The panel, believed Marshall a shoo-in, New Zealand’s Sir Richard Hadlee could not be left out, and South Africa’s Dale Steyn was the final pacer to make up a bowling attack that had one spinner in Muttiah Muralitharan.

Hadlee never stood a chance for the Fanalysts, and neither did Steyn for that matter.

For the Fanalysts, a choice between Muralitharan and Warne, the two bowlers with the most wickets in the history of Test cricket, was too difficult to make and they picked both.

That left space for just two pacers and the all-West-Indian pairing of Marshall and Ambrose was the obvious choice.

With 30 per cent of the vote going to Hadlee, and another 30 per cent going to Steyn, Warne easily made his way into the Ultimate XI with the Fanalysts offering him up with their 40.

Based on all the Ultimate XI profiles have told you about these players, tell us who was right.

Were the fans who got their way with Bradman and the two spinners right? Or is there something to be said for the experts who went with Hadlee and Steyn, or even the Zone, who decided on Akram?

Were the Fanalysts accurate in going against the grain with picking Greenidge ahead of Hayden, or were the Zone and the panel correct in overruling them?  

Crazy or not, we are trusting the Fanalysts again with our Ultimate XI ODI team. 

Check out the shortlist below, tell me who you would pick in the comments section on Facebook and Twitter then go and vote after we tell you how wrong you are. Voting begins later today after the SportsMax Zone on SportsMax.tv.

 

Retired South African middle-order batsman Jacques Kallis has not been getting a lot of respect lately from the Ultimate XI panellists on the Sportsmax Zone.

Martin Guptill has all the tools to be a prolific Test opener but it is on the One-Day International scene where he has truly made his mark, becoming only one of five batsmen to ever score a double hundred in the format back in 2015 on no lesser a stage than at the World Cup.

Guptill’s 237 not out is still the second-highest ever ODI score, the tally playing no small part in making him the leading runscorer at the 2015 tournament, beating all-time greats like Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakarra and South Africa’s AB de Villiers.

Guptill is the first New Zealand batsman to score 6,000 ODI runs and the 34-year-old is not far from becoming the first from his country to score 7,000.  

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Martin James Guptill

Born: September 30, 1986, Auckland

Major teams: New Zealand, Auckland, Barbados Tridents, Derbyshire, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Kings XI Punjab, Mumbai Indians, New Zealand Academy, New Zealand Under-19s, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Sunrisers Hyderabad

Playing role: Opening batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm offbreak

 

ODI Career: New Zealand (2009-Present)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs      HS       Ave       BF       SR      100s     50s     4s      6s     

183      180     19      6843      237*    42.50    7825    87.45     16       37      694    176     

 

Career Highlights

  • 2nd player to score 200 in a World Cup innings, 5th in ODIs
  • Most runs by an opener and remain unbeaten (237)
  • Only Kiwi to have crossed the 180 run mark three times in ODIs
  • Fastest fifty by a New Zealand batsman (17 balls)

In 2005, he was voted the "World's Scariest Batsman" in a poll of international bowlers. And, they would know after being the recipients of the remorseless and relentless savagery of this dexterous Western Australian destroyer. His strike-rate is amongst the highest in both Tests and ODIs.      

A big-stage player, Gilchrist is the only player to chalk up 50-plus scores in three successive World Cup finals – all three being match-winning efforts.         

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Adam Craig Gilchrist

Born: 14 November 1971 (age 48)

Place of birth: Bellingen, New South Wales, Australia

Height: 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)

Batting: Left-handed

Role: Wicket-keeper–batsman

 

ODI Career: Australia (1996–2008) 

Mat     Inns     NO    Runs      HS     Ave     BF         SR      100s    50s    4s       6s       Ct      St

287      279       11    9619       172   35.89    9922     96.94     16      55     1162    149     417     55

 

Career Highlights

  • Named Wisden Cricketer of the year in 2002
  • Won Allan Border medal in 2003.
  • One-Day International Player of the Year  2003
  • One-Day International Player of the Year - 2004
  • Walter Lawrence Trophy 2010

Chris Gayle had a relatively quiet start to his international career but eventually established himself at the top in both Tests and ODIs for the West Indies. His aggressive streak sees him fit into the Virender Sehwag and Viv Richards school of batting. He is unstoppable on his day, smashing hapless bowlers, regardless of whether they bowl pace or spin. Gayle built a niche for himself in international cricket: it gets in the zone, the ball usually disappears. Though his average is on the lower side at 37.83, his 25 centuries and 54 half-centuries mark the most by a West Indian, and that is saying much, given that Brian Lara hails from the Caribbean as well. Gayle is also handy with the ball, bowling his gentle offspin from about nine feet up, he has bamboozled 167 batsmen with variations in flight and pace.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Christopher Henry Gayle

Born: 21 September 1979 (age 40)

Place of birth: Kingston, Jamaica

Batting style: Left-handed

Bowling style:   Right-arm off-break

Playing role: Opening batsman

 

ODI Career: West Indies (1999– present)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs     HS     Ave      BF          SR       100s    50s     4s       6s     

301      294    17      10480    215    37.83    12019     87.19      25      54      1128   331   

 

Career Highlights

  • Highest run-scorer for the West Indies in ODIs
  • Second West Indies player (after Brian Lara), and 14th overall, to pass 10,000 runs in ODIs
  • Most centuries by a West Indian (25).
  • In World Cup 2015, he hit the fastest ever ODI double century, against Zimbabwe, off 138 balls
  • Is one of just two batsmen to ever score a World Cup double century

As an opening batsman for Sri Lanka in ODI cricket, Jayasuriya is believed to have revolutionized batting style.

Playing against legendary bowling names like Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, etc., he has smashed runs against all of them. But the revolution came in the way teams approached the first 15 overs where there were fielding restrictions.

Dismissing the convention of opening the innings by carefully building a partnership for your middle order to build on, accelerating later because of wickets in hand, Jayasuriya went on the attack from ball one, increasing the average totals his ODI team was able to achieve.

At the 1996 Cricket World Cup, Jayasuriya’s all-round performance was also a major reason for Sri Lanka’s maiden victory. For his performances was adjudged the ‘Man of the Tournament’.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Sanath Teran Jayasuriya

Born:   30 June 1969 (age 50)

Place of birth: Matara, Sri Lanka

Height: 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)

Batting style: Left-handed

Bowling style: Slow left-arm orthodox

Playing Role: All-rounder, Opening Batsman

 

ODI Career: India (1989–2011)

Mat  Inns   NO    Runs     HS     Ave       BF           SR        100s    50s        4s          6s

445   433    18     13430    189   32.36      14725     91.20        28      68        1500       270

 

Career Highlights

  • Has scored four 150 + scores in his ODI career and taken four 5-wicket hauls. The most for any player who has achieved both these feats
  • Holds the record for the highest ODI innings by a Sri Lankan, 189 runs against India
  • Only all-rounder to score over 10,000 runs, capture more than 300 wickets and take over 100 catches in ODI cricket.
  • Only all-rounder to score over 1,000 runs and capture more than 25 wickets in Cricket World Cup history
  • Fourth-highest run-scorer in ODIs with 13,430 runs

Sachin Tendulkar holds the record for the highest tally of runs in Test as well as ODI cricket.

He was the first batsman to score a double century in the white ball game. 

He was a nightmare for captains setting the field, as his range and repertoire of strokes had multiple answers to questions posed by bowlers. If there was one stroke from his wide cornucopia which left onlookers spellbound it was his back drive - often just a defensive half-push - that blazed to the straightest part of the ground.

 

Career Statistics 

Full name: Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar

Born: 24 April 1973 (age 47)

Place of birth: Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra, India

Height: 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)

Batting style: Right-handed

Playing role: Top-order batsman

 

ODI Career: India (1989–2012)

Mat     Inns  NO       Runs       HS    Ave      BF       SR     100s     50s     4s    6s   

463     452     41       18426      200*  44.83  21368   86.23    49       96     2016  195    

 

Career Highlights

  • Leading run-scorer in One-Day Internationals, with 18,426 runs.
  • Holds the record of the highest number of centuries in ODIs (49)
  • Holds the world record for playing the highest number of ODI matches (463).
  • Has scored over 1000 runs in a calendar year in ODIs 7 times
  • In 1998 he scored 1,894 runs, the record for the highest number of runs scored by any player in a single calendar year for ODIs.
  • He is the first male cricketer to score a double-century in one-day cricket.
  • 1997 Wisden Cricketer of the Year
  • 1998, 2010 Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World.
  • 2003 – Player of the tournament in 2003 Cricket World Cup.
  • 2004, 2007, 2010 – ICC World ODI XI.

Matthew Hayden was admittedly a much better Test opener than ODI batsman, which is strange since power and aggression were the hallmarks of his batting. Joining the ranks of Australia’s more notable ODI openers took time, with Hayden going from averaging 25 in 1993 to 54 in 2002.

However, his form would dip from 2003 to 2005, when he averaged at highest, 41 in any calendar year. In 2004 he scored 946 runs in 23 games but just 482 in 16 the following season, and saw his average fall from 41.13 to 32.13. Australia’s selectors duly dropped him.

As his form in Test cricket improved, so did the expectation that he would do well again in the ODI team and the selectors were proven right. Hayden only played two ODIs in 2006, but his average of 51.50 in that year may have prompted a recall and he went to the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.

There he showed his worth,  where his domination had no equal. Hayden averaged 73.22 in the tournament, scoring 659 runs with a fractured toe and a broken bone in the other foot. His 66-ball century against South Africa earned him honorary citizenship in St Kitts. To boot, he lifted the World Cup for a second time. That year he played 26 ODIs, batting in 25 and averaged 62.18, his highest since 2002 when the six innings he played yielded 315 runs at an average of 105.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Matthew Lawrence Hayden

Born: October 29, 1971, Kingaroy, Queensland

Major teams: Australia, Brisbane Heat, Chennai Super Kings, Hampshire, ICC World XI, Northamptonshire, Queensland

Playing role: Opening batsman

Batting style: Left-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium

Height: 1.88 m

 

ODI Career: Australia (1993-2008)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs    HS      Ave      BF        SR       100s    50s     4s      6s     

161     155     15      6133     181*   43.80    7767    78.96      10      36      636     87    

 

Career Highlights

  • Former Australia record holder for highest ODI score (181*)
  • 5th fastest century at a World Cup (66 balls)
  • 3 centuries at 2007 World Cup, highest run-getter
  • ODI player of the year 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mitchell Starc thinks the ICC's recommendation to ban polishing the ball with saliva due to health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic could lead to boring cricket.

The ICC chief executives' committee will vote on the proposal, which has been put forward to "mitigate the risks posed by the COVID-19 virus", in June.

It has been reported the ICC will not permit the use of an artificial substance to generate movement when the ball is in the air, though players can use sweat.

Australia paceman Starc understands the concerns but thinks bowlers should be offered an alternative to ensure batsmen to not get an advantage.

"I understand that completely and hear what they're saying in terms of a foreign substance, but whether that can be controlled by the umpires in terms of they have a portion of the wax and you can only use a small amount, I don't know, but there needs to be a maintaining of the even contest," Starc said in a video conference.

"I understand what they're saying with foreign substances and that it's black and white in terms of that, but it's an unusual time for the world and if they're going to remove saliva shining for a portion of time they need to think of something else for that portion of time as well.

"Whether it be the wickets being not as flat or at least considering this shining wax to a degree, there needs to be some thought on that, I think.

"I guess you use both those things [saliva and sweat] to shine the ball. I've probably been a bit more on the sweat side, just trying to not get my hands in my mouth too much.

"But I agree completely with what Pat [Cummins] commented on last week: that contest with bat and ball, we don't want to lose that or get further away from that even contest, so there needs to be something in place to either keep that ball swinging.

"They've mentioned that it's only going to be there for a period of time and then once the world gets back to a relatively normal situation then saliva can come back into shining the ball.

"But if it's going to be a window of time there, maybe then instruct people to leave more grass on the wickets to have that contest or if they're going to take away a portion of maintaining the ball, there needs to be that even contest between bat and ball, otherwise people are going to stop watching, and kids aren't going to want to be bowlers.

"I think as we saw in Australia the last couple of years, there's some pretty flat wickets, and if that ball's going straight, it's a pretty boring contest.

"I think [ball manufacturers] Kookaburra have been developing a shining wax or something of the sort, so whether there's consideration of that, there needs to be some maintaining [of] that even contest.

"Generally, the spinners reckon that the wickets that seam a bit also spin, so maybe if you bring the bowlers back into the game, you'll tick all the boxes."

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