The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has suspended Yorkshire from hosting international and major matches in response to the club's "wholly unacceptable" handling of Azeem Rafiq's racism allegations.

Gary Ballance has also been indefinitely suspended from international selection after the former England batsman admitted he was responsible for some of the offensive and inappropriate language Rafiq was subjected to when they were Yorkshire team-mates.

An independent report into Rafiq's allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire upheld that the spinner had been victim of "racial harassment and bullying".

It also emerged the independent panel had deemed repeated use of the "P***" word against Rafiq was "in the spirit of friendly banter", according to ESPNcricinfo.

Yorkshire last week stated that the club had carried out their own internal investigation following the findings of the report and concluded no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that warranted disciplinary action.

The ECB board met on Thursday and has vowed to hold Yorkshire to account, ordering the club to deal with the matter "robustly", stating it is clear there are "serious questions" regarding the governance and management of the club.

The governing body stated Yorkshire's "failure in relation to actions and responses to their own report represent a significant breach of its obligations to the game."

England are scheduled to face New Zealand in a Test and an ODI against South Africa at Headingley next year, while the Leeds venue is also due to host an Ashes Test in 2023, but may lose all three.

An ECB statement said: "It is clear to the Board that YCCC's handling of the issues raised by Azeem Rafiq is wholly unacceptable and is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game. The ECB find this matter abhorrent and against the spirit of cricket and its values.

"There is no place for racism or any form of discrimination in cricket and where it is found, swift action must be taken. This matter must be dealt with robustly if the sport is to demonstrate its commitment to truly being a game for everyone.

"As a governing body with duties to act for all in cricket, the ECB Board reaffirmed its commitment to taking decisions in the best interests of the whole game."

The statement continued "It [the board] also agreed that sanctions including, but not limited to, financial and future major match allocations may be considered at the conclusion of our investigations.

"In the meantime, YCCC are suspended from hosting international or major matches until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and First Class County.

"The ECB Board has asked the ECB Executive to commission a review of Yorkshire CCC's governance to consider whether the existing arrangements are fit for purpose.

"The regulatory processes already underway into the allegations brought by Azeem Rafiq will ultimately be determined by an independent tribunal (The Cricket Disciplinary Committee).

"Before any regulatory investigation is complete, the Board wishes to take immediate action in relation to Gary Ballance. While Mr Ballance has not been selected to play for England since 2017, he will be suspended indefinitely from selection. This position will be reviewed following the ECB regulatory investigation into his conduct."

Rafiq stated earlier on Thursday that cricket desperately needs "reform and cultural change".

"I'm not intending to say very much until the [Department for Culture, Media and Sport's] select committee hearing later this month. However, I wanted to stress this is not really about the words of certain individuals," he tweeted.

"This is about institutional racism and abject failures to act by numerous leaders at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and in the wider game. The sport I love and my club desperately need reform and cultural change."

Rafiq and Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton are due to appear in front of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's select committee to give evidence on November 16.

Publishing company Emerald and Nike are among the sponsors Yorkshire have lost due to their handling of the Rafiq case.

Charith Asalanka further enhanced his burgeoning reputation as Sri Lanka ended West Indies' reign as T20 World Cup holders with a 20-run victory on Thursday.

The Windies needed two resounding wins to have any chance of reaching the semi-finals, but a third loss from four games dashed the holders' hopes of qualifying.

Asalanka (68 from 41 balls) became the leading run-scorer in the tournament as Sri Lanka posted an imposing 189-3 at Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Pathum Nissanka (51 from 41) and Asalanka put on 91 for the second wicket, with the Windies bowling attack lacking potency in a must-win game.

Dasun Shanaka also made a quickfire unbeaten 25 for a Sri Lanka side already out of the running to qualify from Group 1.

The holders fell short on 169-8 in their run chase despite a T20I-best of 81 not out off 54 balls for Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran's 46 in their penultimate match of the Super 12 stage in Abu Dhabi.

Sri Lanka were excellent in the field, Wanindu Hasaranga (2-19) once again the pick of the bowlers as they moved two points ahead of fifth-placed West Indies with a victory in their final game of the tournament.

A third loss from four matches for the two-time champions ensured the Windies will head home after facing Australia on Saturday, leaving Aaron Finch's side, leaders England and South Africa to fight it out for a top-two finish.

 

Asalanka and Nissanka leave Windies facing tall order

A semi-final spot proved to be beyond Sri Lanka, but they bow out with positives to take from the tournament, Asalanka and Nissanka standout performers with the bat.

The 24-year-old Asalanka struck a brilliant unbeaten 80 in the defeat of Bangladesh and gave another demonstration of his class, hitting a six and finding the rope eight times.

Asalanka moved above England wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler - who has only been at the crease four times - to become the highest run-scorer in the tournament so far with 231 at an average of 46.20 from six innings and Nassanka is second with 221, averaging 27.62 from eight knocks.

 

Hetmyer fireworks in vain as Sri Lanka sign off in style

With Chris Gayle falling for only one, Andre Russell only making two and captain Kieron Pollard out for a golden duck, it was left for Hetmyer and Pooran to give the Windies some hope.

The defending champions never really looked like chasing down their target, but Hetmyer produced some fireworks as he blasted four sixes and hit eight fours.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Chamika Karunaratne took brilliant catches, with Sri Lanka superb in the field. Hasaranga, the top-ranked T20I bowler in the world, leads the way in the tournament with 16 wickets.

Australia's Adam Zampa let team-mate Matthew Wade off the hook after the wicketkeeper failed to take a catch that would have brought up a hat-trick against Bangladesh.

Zampa starred with the ball on Thursday, taking 5-19 as Australia skittled Bangladesh out for just 73.

It was the fourth-lowest total of the T20 World Cup so far, with Zampa taking five wickets in the format for the first time.

Indeed, it is only the second time an Australia player has taken a five-for in a T20 World Cup match, after James Faulkner (5-27 v Pakistan, 2016).

However, Zampa's day could have been even better had Wade held on to an edge by Taskin Ahmed, but the wicketkeeper could only get his fingertips on the ball.

Three overs had passed since Zampa dismissed Shamim Hossain and Mahedi Hasan, however, and the spinner joked that perhaps only he knew that a hat-trick was on the cards.

"It's a pretty nice feeling, I've been playing five or six years now and that one had eluded me," Zampa said at the post-match presentation.

"I think I had like three overs between my [second] wicket and the next ball, so I don't know if anyone knew, I thought I was the only one that knew!

"If it wasn't for Wadey's hands at the moment then I wouldn't have as many wickets as I do. It was a tough catch but just happy to have taken five to be honest."

Australia surpassed the target with ease, Mitchell Marsh hitting a huge six to settle the contest after only 6.2 overs of the chase.

Captain Aaron Finch top-scored with 40 from 20 balls, a total that included four sixes and two boundaries at a strike rate of 200.

Finch, whose side moved above South Africa into second place in Group 1, as the qualification battle goes down to the wire, spoke of "a really clinical performance".

He added: "We thought we would take the opportunity to win big if we got the chance, but you can't plan for that. At the halfway mark, we knew we could get past South Africa.

"When you have that opportunity, you have to take it. Zampa's five for 19 was outstanding."

Adam Zampa claimed the best bowling figures of this T20 World Cup as Australia took a step towards the semi-finals with an eight-wicket thrashing of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh had won four of their last five T20Is against Australia, including a 60-win when they last met in August, but they were hammered at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday.

Zampa took a maiden five-wicket T20I haul of 5-19, and could have had a hat-trick if not for a dropped catch from Matthew Wade, in a brilliant bowling display from Australia, who skittled out the Tigers for a measly 73.

The spinner dismissed Afif Hossain (0), Shamim Hossain (19), Mahedi Hasan (0), Mustafizur Rahman (4) and Shoriful Islam (0) as sorry Bangladesh could only muster the fourth-lowest batting total of the tournament,

Aaron Finch (40) and David Warner (18) then set about making light work of the chase, with Australia reaching 67 inside the powerplay, bettering the previous tournament high, set by England in their demolition of the men in green and gold on the same ground on Saturday.

With Finch and Warner falling in quick succession to Taskin Ahmed (1-36) and Shoriful (1-9), Mitchell Marsh smashed 16 off five deliveries, including a huge six to get Australia home off just 6.2 overs.

The victory lifts Australia into second place with a better run-rate than South Africa in the tussle for the top two places in Group 1, with England top.

Finch's side face West Indies in their final Super 12 match on Saturday, with the Proteas up against England.

Zampa leads brilliant bowling attack

Zampa had to remind Wade he had dropped a catch on a hat-trick ball, but it was still a wonderful day for the spinner. He took his best figures in a T20I, tops the bowling charts in the Super 12 stage and became just the second Australia player to take a five-for in a T20 World Cup, after James Faulkner did so against Pakistan in 2016.

New-ball Mitchell Starc (2-21) and Josh Hazlewood (2-8) also capitalised on the Tigers' frailties with the bat, with Glenn Maxwell collecting the other wicket.

Bangladesh heading home winless

Bangladesh head home after failing to claim a win in the Super 12 stage and will finish rooted to the bottom of Group 1.

Mahmudullah went into the game needing an innings of 76 runs to become the 14th player in T20I history to log 2,000 runs in the format. However, the captain had been dismissed for ducks in two of his previous four T20I innings against Australia, and managed just 16 this time around.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) today confirmed that the West Indies Men’s team will play three T20 Internationals (T20I) and three One-Day Internationals (ODI) against Pakistan at the National Stadium in Karachi from December 13 to 22.

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.

This will be the West Indies’ first tour of Pakistan since April 2018 when three T20Is were contested. The two-time former World Champions will be playing ODIs in Pakistan for the first time since December 2006.

“Today we have confirmed the details for the West Indies Men’s white-ball tour of Pakistan in December. CWI would like to thank the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and our own cricket operations, medical and security teams for the work that has gone into the organization of this tour,” said CWI CEO Johnny Grave.

“West Indies and Pakistan have always delivered exciting series and we’re looking forward to visiting Pakistan to complete what has been a hectic and momentous year of cricket in the light of the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The tour starts a new cycle of T20i cricket, building towards next year’s ICC T20 World Cup in Australia. The ODIs also have great significance as West Indies looks to earn more points towards securing qualification for the ICC Men’s ODI Cricket World Cup in India in 2023.”

According to CWI, independent security advisors, Eastern Star International (ESI) will continue to monitor the security situation in Pakistan, and will also have a representative assigned to the team for the duration of the tour.

Meanwhile, the West Indies Women’s Team is presently in Karachi, Pakistan for three ODIs as part of their final preparations for the upcoming Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers.

Tour Schedule

December 9 – West Indies arrive in Karachi

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

 

 

Azeem Rafiq says cricket desperately needs "reform and cultural change" after Gary Ballance admitted using a racial slur towards his former Yorkshire team-mate.

Ex-England batsman Ballance on Wednesday released a statement admitting he was responsible for some of the offensive and inappropriate language Rafiq was subjected to during his time at Headingley.

Ballance, 31, said he deeply regrets some of the language he used in his younger years, describing Rafiq as his "best mate in cricket".

The Zimbabwe-born former Yorkshire captain claimed he and Rafiq had "said offensive things to each other which, outside of that context, would be considered wholly inappropriate".

An independent report into Rafiq's allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club upheld that the spinner had been victim of "racial harassment and bullying”.

It also emerged the independent panel had deemed repeated use of the "P***" word against Rafiq was "in the spirit of friendly banter", according to ESPNcricinfo.

Rafiq on Thursday responded to Ballance's statement by posting on Twitter: "I'm not intending to say very much until the [Department for Culture, Media and Sport's] select committee hearing later this month. However, I wanted to stress this is not really about the words of certain individuals.

"This is about institutional racism and abject failures to act by numerous leaders at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and in the wider game. The sport I love and my club desperately need reform and cultural change."

Rafiq and Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton are due to appear in front of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's select committee to give evidence on November 16.

Publishing company Emerald has been among the sponsors Yorkshire have lost due to their handling of the Rafiq case.

 West Indies captain Kieron Pollard believes Thursday’s crucial T20 World Cup clash against Sri Lanka represents an opportunity for the team to break free from its shackles, so to speak, particularly as it relates to the batting line-up.

To say a West Indies line-up, filled with explosive batting talent, has struggled to ignite so far seems a bit of an understatement.  The team began the tournament being bowled out for 55 by England, then collapsing to 143 against South Africa after a promising start.  The team got 142 in a win against Bangladesh but have yet to put in a convincing display at the crease.

With a run rate of 1.598, the team has the worst run rate in Group I and the third poorest overall.  After three matches Evin Lewis is the team’s leading scorer with 68 runs but that total is not in the tournament’s top 15.  Having lost two of its first three games and low run rate the team is on the outside looking as it relates to their chances of staying in contention for the semi-finals.

“The guys are confident, we know exactly what’s needed from a run rate perspective and we’ll take all things into consideration when that match starts,” Pollard told members of the media on Wednesday.

“I believe it’s very important that we try to go through the process of trying to improve each and every game as a team and especially from a batting perspective,” he added.

“It’s an opportunity now, guys can kind of take off the shackles that have been kind of holding us back in terms of our batting performances, there’s no secret about that.  Having said that the first thing to think about is winning the cricket game.”

 

 

 

Former West Indies batsman Carlisle Best has been made a Barbados selector, reports coming out of Barbados said on Wednesday. The 62-year-old Best replaces Ronald Butcher, who has resigned his position from the Barbados selection panel.

According to cricket commentator and talk show host Andrew Mason, the members of the board of the Barbados Cricket Association voted unanimously in favour of Best’s addition to the selection panel.

The 62-year-old Best, played eight Tests and 24 One Day Internationals for the West Indies after making his debut for the West Indies against England in 1986. He is among a handful of batsmen to hit a six to open his account in a Test career.

He did so while facing Ian Botham, who bowled two bouncers at the Barbadian opener, who responded by carting the third ball for six and becoming only the second batsman to do so.

Australia’s Eric Freeman was the first to accomplish the feat.

 

Raymon Reifer and Rahkeem Cornwall scored half-centuries as the second BestvBest between Team Brathwaite and Team Blackwood ended in a draw on Wednesday at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua.

Resuming from their overnight score of 213-8, Team Blackwood scored 268 with Reifer 40 not out overnight going on to score 62. Cornwall, 27 overnight, scored a valuable 52 that took Team Blackwood to within 58 runs of Team Brathwaite’s first innings score of 326-6 declared.

Alzarri Joseph was the best of the bowlers with 4-48. Jomel Warrican who did most of the damage on Tuesday ended with 3-38.

Batting a second time, Team Brathwaite stumbled to 46-4 when Captain Kraigg Brathwaite declared. Jeremy Solozano top-scored with 12 before retiring hurt. Joshua Da Silva, who seems to be struggling for form, scored 11 before he was dismissed lbw by Cornwall.

Shannon Gabriel, who is returning from injury, claimed the wickets of Kyle Mayers for seven and Brathwaite for two to finish with figures of 2-24 from his five overs. Cornwall was stingy taking 2-2 from 2.4 overs.

Chasing 105, Team Blackwood’s Shayne Moseley scored 29 and Kavem Hodge 26 in a first-wicket partnership of 57. Hodge then lost his wicket to Imran Khan before the match was called off and declared a draw.

Khan had figures of 1-27 from 7.2 overs.

Rahul Dravid will replace Ravi Shastri as India head coach after the T20 World Cup.

Shastri's reign will come to an end following the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and the Board of Control for Cricket in India last month invited applications for the post.

Legendary former India batter Dravid was expected to succeed Shastri and his appointment was confirmed while India were playing Afghanistan in a crucial World Cup match on Wednesday.

Dravid, 48, will start his tenure with a home T20I series versus New Zealand this month followed by two Tests against the Black Caps.

Shastri took over as head coach of his country for a second time in 2017 and helped guide India to the top of the Test rankings and an inaugural World Test Championship against New Zealand, which the Black Caps won this year.

Dravid said: "It is an absolute honour to be appointed as the new head coach of the Indian Cricket Team and I am really looking forward to this role.

"Under Mr Shastri, the team has done very well, and I hope to work with the team to take this forward. Having worked closely with most of the boys either at NCA, U19 and India A setup, I know they have the passion and desire to improve every day.

"There are some marquee multi-team events in the next two years, and I look forward to working with the players and the support staff to achieve our potential."

Sourav Ganguly, president of the BCCI, said: "The BCCI welcomes Rahul Dravid as the head coach of India's senior men team.

"Rahul has had an illustrious playing career and is one of the greats of the game. He has also served Indian cricket as head of National Cricket Academy (NCA) with distinction. Rahul’s effort at the NCA has nurtured several young cricketing talents who have gone on to represent the country at the international stage.

"I am hopeful that his new stint will take Indian cricket to new heights."

Ben Stokes is relishing the prospect of making his return in "the pinnacle of Test cricket" when England do battle with Australia in the Ashes.

Stokes was initially omitted from the squad for the series Down Under as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing.

The all-rounder then gave Joe Root's side a huge lift last week by declaring he was ready to make his comeback.

Stokes will fly out to Australia with the Test and Lions squad on Thursday and is raring to go ahead of the first Test at the Gabba on December 8.

"I just took it day by day, step by step. I had fantastic support around me to help me through that, and I'm just excited to get out there," Stokes told Sky Sports.

"I had a lot of scar tissue build-up around my joint and my tendons so he [the surgeon] removed all that, which thankfully allowed me to actually get some movement and took away the frustration in terms of pain as well.

"I'm glad to come out the other side of that. I think it's important for anyone [to take a step back]. Whether it be a job or their day-to-day life, it's important for everyone."

 

Stokes believes England have a good chance of regaining the urn, with the onus not only on proven world-class players such as himself to perform.

"One player doesn't make a team, and although I know I'm a senior member of that team over the last few years, every member of that team is just as important as each other," he added.

"We have got a huge amount of experience in our squad, although we've got some young guys who are still learning their way in Test cricket.

"We've got the likes of Jimmy [Anderson], Broady [Stuart Broad] who have obviously been there, done that. Rooty - fantastic leader and England's greatest-ever batter, so we've got everything to come back at Australia with what they've got.

"You are playing at the highest level possible and the Ashes - for an Englishman in Australia, that is the pinnacle of Test cricket. It is the only series that is almost like a World Cup, because they are such rivals."

Luckless England paceman Tymal Mills has been ruled out of the rest of the T20 World Cup with a right thigh strain.

The left-arm quick did the damage while bowling in the victory over Sri Lanka in Sharjah on Monday.

Mills went for a scan on Tuesday and discovered that he would not be able to play any further part in England's quest to win the tournament for a second time.

Reece Topley, who was already in the United Arab Emirates as a traveling reserve, has been added to the squad.

It is another unfortunate setback for Mills, who has been beset by injury problems and was wearing a back brace at the start of this year.

The 29-year-old was recalled for the World Cup following four-and-a-half years in the international wilderness.

Mills had taken seven wickets as Eoin Morgan's side won their opening four matches to stand on the brink of the semi-finals.

A stunning 93 off 56 deliveries from Martin Guptill helped New Zealand to a 16-run victory over Scotland in the T20 World Cup Super 12 stage.

The Black Caps' quest for the semi-finals got off to a strong start as they set a target of 172 in Dubai.

Although they lost Daryl Mitchell (13) and captain Kane Williamson for a duck in the fifth over, Guptill steadied the ship with a supreme display of batting that included six fours and seven sixes.

Glenn Phillips managed 33 off 37 balls before he was caught off a good ball from Brad Wheal (2-40). Guptill fell at the next ball, a tired launch to long on comfortably caught by Calum MacLeod.

Scotland put up a spirited chase after Kyle Coetzer (17) was caught by Tim Southee. George Munsey (22) and Matthew Cross (27) spearheaded a brave batting display, the latter smashing five consecutive fours in the sixth over to put his side at 48-1.

When Munsey was caught superbly by Southee after hammering a full toss from Ish Sodhi (2-42), Scotland's resistance seemed to falter, Southee skittling Cross in the 11th over.

Michael Leask led a late charge with a brilliant 42 from 20 balls, but they could not stop New Zealand moving onto four points in the group.

Guptill greatness

Guptill's ruthless knock saw him become just the second batsman to reach 3,000 runs in T20 internationals after Virat Kohli.

Only four men have hit more sixes in the entire tournament this year than the 35-year-old managed in these innings alone.

Scotland show heart

Scotland have now gone three defeats in a row in this format for the first time since they lost four on the spin from January 2017 to June 2018.

Yet this was a spirited performance that should give them confidence ahead of Friday's showdown with India.

Babar Azam claimed "everything has gone to plan" after Pakistan sealed their T20 World Cup semi-final spot with victory over Namibia on Tuesday.

Captain Babar and Mohammed Rizwan combined for their second 100-opening stand of the tournament, leading Pakistan to 189-2 – the second-highest score in the competition so far.

Namibia – led by David Wiese (43 not out) and George Williams (40) – batted impressively in their response but could still only muster a 45-run loss against the 2009 champions, who have now won all four of their opening games.

Despite a few misdemeanours in the field, Babar was left satisfied with yet another efficient performance from his side as they became the first team to officially confirm their place in the final four.

"It was a different plan today, we wanted that opening partnership to go deep and it worked for us," Babar said at the post-match presentation.

"We then had two good players in [Mohammed] Hafeez and Hasan Ali. They'll be important in the next stage and it was important we ticked those boxes [scoring runs at the end, batting first].

"There was some dew that didn't help with the fielding, but that's not an excuse, we need to be better.

"Everything has gone according to plan. We're looking forward to the semi-finals and playing our cricket with the same intensity."

Pakistan sit on eight points at the top of Group 2, with Afghanistan currently in second on four points.

In Group 1, England have all but qualified with four wins in four games, with South Africa – Pakistan's potential semi-final opponents – on six points in second, two clear of third-placed Australia.

The West Indies Women will be guarded by a massive security detail for their upcoming tour of Pakistan with the total security team engaged for the tour expected to be above 800.

The Windies Women arrived in Karachi on Monday, ahead of a three-match ODI series against the hosts.  The tour is part of a reciprocal arrangement after the regional team hosted Pakistan in the Caribbean earlier this year.

International cricket returned to Pakistan in 2019 after a near 10-year absence, following a deadly terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009.  Things have, however, not returned to normal with both New Zealand and England pulling out of tours earlier this year, with security concerns being pointed to as an underlying issue. 

With the West Indies Women coming to town, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and country are determined to show the environment is safe for international athletes.  As such a reported 368 commandoes from the Pakistan Police Special Security Unit, including lady commandoes, and 500 personnel of the Security and Emergency Services Division (DIGa) will join other law enforcement agencies to secure the National Stadium Karachi, airport, route, hotels, and other places. 

In addition, a specialized command and control bus will remain deployed around the stadium to monitor the law-and-order situation.  A Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team including women commandos will be on standby at the SSU headquarters to deal with any emergent situation.

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