James Bhatti has withdrawn from Scotland's squad for their opening Six Nations match, while Gregor Townsend will also be without Josh Bayliss.

Scotland face England in their first game of the tournament at Murrayfield on Saturday.

However, Bhatti, a loosehead at Glasgow Warriors, has withdrawn from the squad due to injury.

Bayliss, meanwhile, will remain with his club side Bath for further assessment after he suffered a concussion against Leinster in the Champions Cup on January 22.

Scotland's update also confirmed Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Rowe had joined up with the squad and that Sean Maitland, who was not selected by Townsend but was with the group, has returned to Saracens. 

After hosting England, Scotland face Wales in Cardiff and then welcome France to Murrayfield before taking on Italy. They round off their campaign against Ireland in Dublin on March 19.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) and Apex Group have announced an extended partnership which will see Apex Group become the title sponsor of the three-match Apex Test Series between West Indies and England in March 2022.

Apex Group, a global provider of financial, sustainability and environmental services, will feature prominently on the global television broadcast, as well as prime pitch and wicket branding placements, and the Apex logo will also appear on the breast of the West Indies Test kit for the duration of the Apex Test Series. Apex will be granted access to the West Indies team for marketing activation and content and will deliver several sustainability initiatives involving the participation of West Indies players.

CWI’s and Apex Sustainability Partnership commenced in October 2021, ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup with the Apex brand appearing on the West Indies’ ICC T20 World Cup shirt. Apex is providing sustainability and environmental advisory services over a three-year period as CWI’s Exclusive Sustainability Partner. By providing CWI with annual carbon footprint assessments, Apex will help lead the way in driving sustainability in cricket across the region by supporting CWI in creating an action plan to reduce and offset climate-altering outputs, including international travel.

The Apex Test Series will be played for the newly-minted Richards-Botham Trophy, named in honour of legends Sir Vivian Richards and Lord Ian Botham. The Apex Test Series opens appropriately at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua from March 8-12, followed by the second Apex Test at Kensington Oval, Barbados from March 16-20. The third and final contest will be at the idyllic Grenada National Stadium from March 24-28. All three Apex Test matches are part of the ICC World Test Championship with both West Indies and England vying for points to challenge for qualification for the World Test Championship final in 2023.

“We’re delighted to build on our growing relationship with Apex for the upcoming Apex Test Series, which continues to be the most anticipated and highest-profile international sports event in the Caribbean,” said CWI CEO Johnny Grave.

“With the West Indies versus England Test rivalry dating back nearly one hundred years, this deeper partnership with Apex enables CWI to make cricket more sustainable as we move towards a second century of West Indies cricket and build the next generation of cricketers across the Caribbean.”

Meanwhile, Peter Hughes, Founder and CEO of Apex Group said this is an important partnership for his company.

“Following a challenging two years for sport, we are pleased to be a part of the return of International Test Cricket hosted in the West Indies,” he said.

“This is an important partnership for us, as we look forward to further leveraging the combined global platform Apex Group and the West Indies represent, to raise awareness for driving greater environmental sustainability in the sport; for fans, players and future generations.”

Jason Holder sensationally came up trumps at the end as he took four wickets in succession to help secure the West Indies a 17-run victory over England in the final T20I that sealed a 3-2 series win.

West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard had won the toss and elected to bat, with the hosts posting 179-4, with England falling short in reply, bowled out for 162 in the 20th over with Player of the Match Holder (27-5) decisive with a double hat-trick in the final over.

After an encouraging start, West Indies did suffer a minor wobble as they lost wickets in consecutive overs, with Kyle Mayers (31) and Romario Shepherd (six) falling in the sixth and seventh, giving England a boost.

Brandon King (34) was the next to go as he was caught at the rope, and Nicholas Pooran (21) was dismissed in the 14th over, with West Indies looking solid if unspectacular ahead of the final five overs of their batting innings.

It was then that they really picked up the slack, with Pollard (41 not out) and Rovman Powell (35 not out) accumulating runs at a much greater rate, their fifth-wicket stand of 74 ultimately integral in the grand scheme of things.

The total of 180 certainly did not look unassailable for England and they reached the halfway stage at 86-2 having only lost Jason Roy (eight) and Tom Banton (16), with James Vince in fine form.

The wickets of Moeen Ali (14) and Liam Livingstone (six) followed just a few minutes apart, and while Vince (55) reached his half-century, he too departed in the 14th as a top-edged slog fell short of the boundary from Akeal Hosein (30-4).

The excellent Sam Billings (41) at least got England into a position where they were still alive in the final over, but they could not meet their target of 20 in six balls as Holder's incredible haul clinched the series.

Holder's historic heroics

Having almost looked without hope, England did make things a little tense towards the end – but what a performance from Holder.

Just when West Indies needed the ultimate display of experience, Holder took over in style. His hat-trick was the Windies' first in men's T20Is, and then he went one better. It was a truly memorable end to the series.

Billings deserving of praise

Although he was not England's highest scorer, Billings did play a vital role in keeping them in contention.

His 41 off 28 balls meant England were still in the hunt in the final over. A poorer showing could have seen them fold much earlier – he can leave with his head held high.

Heather Knight and Meg Lanning reflected on a remarkable finish to the only women's Ashes Test as England and Australia were forced to settle for a draw in Canberra.

That had appeared the most likely result heading into the final day's play, with Australia seemingly set to bat out the match and settle for two points – an outcome that forces England to win all three ODIs in order to win back the Ashes.

The same scenario was reached in far more dramatic fashion, however, as Lanning went on the offensive and declared, setting England 257 to win.

The tourists fell 12 agonising runs short in the narrowest draw in a women's Test having also set a fourth-innings record in making 245-9.

But by stumps, England were a little grateful not to have been beaten, as momentum swung back and forth on a chaotic day that saw Australia collect nine wickets in the final session.

Two of those dismissals came particularly late when England seemed set for a stunning success. They required 13 from 15 but lost two wickets for only a single run in a nail-biting finale.

"I'm really pleased with the fact that we got close," captain Knight said. "The psychology changed a little bit, we were giving it a go, and we were suddenly favourites.

"It was probably an opportunity missed, I think we'll reflect on this. But I think we'll look back and think, 'what a game to be involved in'.

"We went toe to toe with the Aussies and we're still in the series, which is the main thing."

Lanning, the Australia skipper, said: "I still don't quite know what happened in that last hour. We declared wanting to take 10 wickets, and England batted extremely well.

"But to fight back like that, I'm very proud of the group, to be able to get back into the game and get pretty close."

England secured a 34-run win over the West Indies in the fourth Betway T20 International at the Kensington Oval today to tie the five-match series 2-2.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard won the toss and chose to field, and the home side had early success when Jason Holder removed the man who got 73 for England in the last match, Tom Banton, for just four to leave the visitors 8-1.

Jason Roy and James Vince then put on 85 for the second wicket before Roy was dismissed in the 12th over for 52 off 42 balls.

Vince was next to go for 34 in the 13th over to leave the tourists 97-3.

A 65-run fourth-wicket partnership between stand-in captain Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone then carried the English to 162-4 before Livingstone was dismissed in the 19th over for 16.

Ali produced some brilliant late innings hitting before he was eventually dismissed for 63 off just 28 balls in the last over.

England’s innings eventually ended on 193-6 after their 20 overs.

Jason Holder finished with 3-44 from his four overs for the Windies.

In the chase, openers Brandon King and Kyle Mayers got off to a fast start reaching 64 before Mayers was dismissed in the eighth over for a well-played 40 off 23 balls.

King then fell in the 10th over for 26 to leave the West Indies 69-2.

After 10 overs, the West Indies were 76-2 needing 118 more to win from 60 balls with Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell at the crease on four and five, respectively.

Powell was unable to replicate his heroics from the third T20I after being dismissed for five by Adil Rashid in the 11th over.

After two massive sixes, Pooran was the next to go for 22 in the 14th over to leave the West Indies 97-4, needing 97 more runs to win off 39 balls.

Some brilliant hitting from Jason Holder meant that after 16 overs, the West Indies were 133-4, needing 61 off 24 balls to win with Holder on 29 and captain Kieron Pollard on 3.

Holder then went for 36 in the 18th over to leave the Windies 144-5 needing 50 from 16 balls to win.

The target eventually proved to be too much for the West Indies who ended on 159-5 off their 20 overs.

Ali followed up his 63 with 2-28 off four overs to cap off an excellent all-round performance, while Reece Topley continued his good form with the ball in the series with 1-21 off his four overs.

The series decider will take place tomorrow.

 

 

The meeting between representatives of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and Cricket West Indies over claims that players in the senior squad are being victimized has been postponed until the end of the ongoing Betway T20 Series against England.

The West Indies lead the series 2-1 with the final two matches scheduled to be played on Saturday and Sunday.

Wayne Lewis, Honorary Secretary at WIPA confirmed to Sportsmax.TV today that WIPA received an email from CWI’s Director of Cricket Jimmy Adams Thursday afternoon informing of the delay to the discussions surrounding the issue that, according to sources, has caused discord within the senior team. He expects the meeting to be held sometime next week.

The matter surfaced earlier this week when allegations were being made that Jamaican all-rounder was being victimized by the team leadership and was eventually dropped for the third match played on Wednesday that the West Indies won by 20 runs. Smith’s replacement Rovman Powell scored his maiden T20 hundred for the West Indies.

Afterwards, Coach Phil Simmons pushed back on assertions that Smith was being victimized. The burly allrounder conceded four runs in the one over he bowled in the second T20 and dropped for the next match. He has also scored useful runs batting at number 10 but according to Phil Simmons, players are selected in the best interest of the team.

“We need to stop this foolishness that we are going on with. We sit here and look at the best team for the day and if Odean was not in the best team for the day it was because we thought Rovman Powell was better suited,” Simmons said afterwards while speaking with the media.

Meanwhile, Cricket West Indies has described the claims as being unsubstantiated and mischievous as it moved to head off any fallout.

In a statement released late Thursday, CWI said it was aware that “voice notes were circulated on social media, and in sections of the regional broadcast media, suggesting that there is a rift within the West Indies Senior Men’s team.

“Contrary to the unsubstantiated statements, containing unfounded and mischievous allegations, CWI is satisfied that there is no discord between the team captain and any member of the West Indies team.”

CWI President Ricky Skerritt indicated that the rumours represent an unwarranted attack on Captain Kieron Pollard.

“I view this as a malicious attack on the credibility of the West Indies captain, designed to sow division within our team that has just recorded three very impressive T20I performances against very strong opponents, including two outstanding wins and one heroic comeback to get within one run of victory,” Skerritt said.

“This clear attempt by well-known mischief makers to discredit the captain and to derail the team’s momentum in the ongoing Betway T20I Series should not be tolerated or encouraged.”

 

The West Indies are in a position to knock off the number one ranked T20 International team in the world, England, with a win in the fourth T20I of their five-match series on Saturday.

After a 20-run victory on Wednesday, the Caribbean side now leads the series 2-1 with the chance to take an unassailable 3-1 lead on Saturday.

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons says that even with a series win in sight, he is focused on how the team is playing.

“Saturday, if we win the game we’ll win the series so yes, I’d be happy, but I’m happier now with the way that the players are taking on board how we want to play going forward,” Simmons said in a press conference today.

With the ICCT20 World Cup a few months away, the emphasis for the former Ireland and Afghanistan head coach is for the two-time champions to have a much-improved performance from the disaster of the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup in the UAE where they won only one of their five group matches and crashed out of the tournament.

“Winning as a whole is a great thing for any team so it’s something that we’re happy with, but for me, at this point in time, it’s about building back the team because at the end of the day, October is another T20 World Cup and, especially with our performances in the last one, we want to get back up to where we normally are. I’m looking at the quality of the cricket we’re playing and how we’re improving rather than just a series win,” Simmons said.

The former West Indies player also commented on Rovman Powell’s brilliant maiden T20 hundred.

“I think it was a brilliant innings from the start. The way he assessed the situation at the beginning is something that we’ve been talking about as a group and I’ve been looking forward to someone doing that in a match and he did that. We’re moving in the right direction,” Simmons added.

 

 

 

 

 

West Indies vice-captain, Nicholas Pooran, believes his performance against England was enhanced by a certain clarity of thought regarding what needed to be accomplished for the team.

Rovman Powell may have stolen the headlines with his sensational knock of 107, but Pooran played just as critical a role in providing the backbone that the 20-run win for the West Indies was built on. As a pair, they combined to frustrate the England bowlers after adding 122 runs for the third wicket.

Pooran, who admits he is still working on adapting to batting at the unfamiliar position of three, scored a crucial 70 off 43 balls.

“For me it was simple. The last couple of games, even from Pakistan I got the opportunity to bat at number 3 and I’m trying to figure out how I should bat at number three. Today I just felt like I had to be clear. Today was about being clear and just executing. If I said I wanted to look for a single for example, I looked for a single and picked the gap. I just tried to put the ego away for me it was all about staying in the moment, playing the situations well. Trying to play things as well as I can."

The team was also forced to put in a strong effort in the field as led by 75 from Tom Banton, England made a good effort of chasing the target before falling short at 204 for 9.

"For me the extra 22 runs at the end was key. In saying that England batted well but we knew if we could string a couple good overs together we would have a good chance. It seems like they played more bowlers today, so that was also a big help for us."

England captain Eoin Morgan will sit out the final two matches of the T20I series against West Indies due to a thigh injury.

Morgan's team are 2-1 down after three games of a five-match tussle, with each contest being staged at Bridgetown's Kensington Oval.

The World Cup-winning skipper played in the first two matches of the ongoing series but was sidelined for the third on Wednesday, suffering an injury in the warm-up which meant Moeen Ali led the team in his place.

England lost a high-scoring match by 20 runs, and they must also cope without Morgan's on-field leadership for the games on Saturday and Sunday.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said Morgan sustained "a low-grade quadriceps injury" in his right leg that was "relatively minor" but meant he could play no further active part in the series.

West Indies all-rounder, Rovman Powell, stole the show with a maiden T20 hundred in the team’s 20-run win over England in the third of their five-match Betway Series at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Wednesday.

Powell smashed a belligerent 107 off 53 balls, including five fours and 10 sixes, to help the home side amass a total of 224-5 off their 20 overs. In the field, Powell took two catches to help the Windies restrict the English to 204-9 and secure a 2-1 lead in the series but it was with his batting that he spoke loudest.

“It means a lot. The last six or seven months have been tough, not getting a lot of runs so it was good for me to get an opportunity tonight and I took it. I hope it’s a breakthrough international performance. It’s just for me now to go back to the drawing board, think about the stuff that I did right and hopefully I can replicate it come Saturday,” Powell said after the game.

Many fans and pundits were left bemused when Powell strode to the crease at number four ahead of Darren Bravo, who batted at that position in the second game, but Powell said that the move was tactical and that he was told of the possibility the night before by captain Kieron Pollard.

“It was to split up the two left-handers. We didn’t want Pooran and Bravo at the crease at the same time, so I was the right-hander that slotted between them. Last night (Tuesday) he told me it's a possibility that I would bat four so I started to think back to some of my good innings and started to come up with a game plan. I think that plan served me well today. When I walked out to bat, I was confident because for the last five months I’ve been working hard and stroking the ball well so that confidence transferred into the game,” he said.

That confidence also comes from a fantastic stint Powell had at the Abu Dhabi T10 League in late 2021 for the Northern Warriors where he scored 305 runs in nine innings at an average of 33.88 with 15 fours and a mammoth 27 sixes.

“I think I’m in very good form. I told the guys I’m sure that I’m one of the best in the world at the moment when it comes to hitting the ball and it started from the T10. When I went there, I just tried to express myself and catch back the eyes of the selectors and now everything is coming to fruition,” he added. West Indies fans are hoping that that form will carry over into the fourth T20I which takes place on Saturday. 

West Indies century-maker Rovman Powell admits he has spent the last few months away from the team working out a susceptibility to wrist spin.

The 28-year-old returned to the regional squad with a bang on Wednesday, blasting the first T20I century of his career, and third for a West Indian player, with 107 in a 20-runs win against England.  The crucial innings, along with 70 from vice-captain Nicholas Pooran anchored the team’s effort in taking a 2-1 series lead.

In the batsman’s previous appearance, against Pakistan, he averaged 16.5 in three games where he had real issues navigating wrist spinner Shadab Khan.

“I think it’s been overall improvement, I can strike the ball well but I also have a little problem with wrist spin.  Every time I start my innings they come and bowl wrist spin.

I went away and for the last six, seven months and I’ve been working on wrist spin and trying to open up the offside and I think that showed today," Powell said after the game.

Powell played a watchful innings in seeing off dangerous England spinner Adil Rashid, who claimed 2 for 24 in the previous match of the series.

“We know Rashid is the most threatening of all the bowlers, so all we did is see if we can get 24 or 30 off him, that’s good, just to limit his wicket count and take our chances against the other bowlers for the other 16 overs.”

England's stand-in captain Moeen Ali has praised the side's three debutants in Wednesday's 20-run loss to West Indies with Phil Salt shining with a quickfire half-century.

West Indies took the game away from the tourists with a stunning 224-5 headlined by Rovman Powell's hundred where he combined with Nicholas Pooran for a 122-run third-wicket stand.

England, who were without skipper Eoin Morgan after he felt his thigh in the warm-up, fell short in reply at 204-9.

Tom Banton blazed 73 from 39 balls at the top of the order, while debutant Salt came in at six but managed 57 from 24 deliveries to keep England in the game.

Salt was one of five changes from the second T20I and one of three debutants, alongside allrounder George Garton and Harry Brook.

"We were done a little bit with Morgs going down and playing three debutants but they played really well," Ali said after the game.

"A fantastic partnership took the game away from us but proud of the way the boys batted at the end."

Sam Billings was unwell and Chris Jordan rested, while Saqib Mahmood and Liam Dawson dropped out with England offering opportunities throughout the five-game series.

England's Test squad returned home following their 4-0 Ashes defeat, rather than link up with the T20I squad, meaning Chris Woakes, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan and Mark Wood are absent for the series.

But Ali said the tour had offered some opportunities to explore their white-ball depth.

"We've got guys putting their hands up, Bants was outstanding today, great for his confidence going forward," Ali said.

"We are confident in our side and we said from the start it would be a brilliant series."

Garton took the early wicket of Brandon King but finished with 57-1 from his four overs, while Brook only managed 10 from 13 balls batting at seven.

A ruthless century from Rovman Powell gave the West Indies the perfect base to secure a 20-run win in the third T20I against England at the Kensington Oval in Barbados to go 2-1 up in the five-match series.

Powell became only the third West Indian to score a T20I century after Evin Lewis and Chris Gayle as he hit an incredible 107 from 53 balls, including 10 sixes. His partnership of 122 with Nicholas Pooran (70) set the hosts on their way to a daunting total of 224-5 from their 20 overs, though England and in particular Tom Banton (73 from 39 balls) and debutant Phil Salt (57 from 24 balls) put up a spirited chase.

Brandon King (10) fell to George Garton - also making his first appearance - in the second over as the Sussex bowler found the top of off stump, before Shai Hope went for just four after clipping a Liam Livingstone delivery against his own leg pad, which sent the ball into the air for a simple catch for wicketkeeper Banton.

Pooran and Powell then set about hitting England's attack all over the park, before the partnership was finally broken in the 17th over when Pooran hit Adil Rashid straight to the waiting Livingstone. Powell reached his century before also hitting a shot to Livingstone, this time off the final ball of Reece Topley's spell.

Jason Roy (19) tried to get England's chase going with a couple of big sixes but soon mishit a Romario Shepherd ball to the waiting hands of Jason Holder, though things looked promising for the tourists as they reached 61-1 at the end of the powerplay, seven runs ahead of the West Indies at the same stage.

Banton and James Vince kept the required rate within reach early on until the latter fell at the end of the eighth over as he hit Akeal Hosein to Kieron Pollard for 16. Stand-in captain Moeen Ali fell for a second-ball duck, dangerman Livingstone could only manage 11, and after Banton was caught by Holder off the bowling of Pollard, Salt and another debutant Harry Brook (10) tried to get the innings back on track before Brook was sent packing by Holder.

Salt's knock before he was bowled by Shepherd in the final over provided a hint of what he can bring to this England team in future, but on this night it was not a victory as the West Indies closed their opponent's innings at 204-9 to edge ahead again in the series.

Ka-Powell

Powell only averages 22.00 from his 26 T20I innings, but did a good impression of the legendary Gayle here as he hit England all over the Kensington Oval.

As well as reaching comfortably his highest score in T20Is, he also did so with a strike rate of 201.88, significantly above his average of 130.81.

England's bowling attack left battered and bruised

Rashid (25-1) and Topley (30-1) might consider themselves to have performed pretty well considering what happened their their team-mates at the hands of Pooran and Powell in particular.

Garton took an early wicket on debut but ended with figures of 57-1, while Livingstone came away with 42-1 from just three overs, and Tymal Mills took 52-1 from his four. Ali also bowled a single over for 14 runs and no wicket.

Paul Collingwood says the England players deserve "medals" rather than criticism for getting through a miserable Ashes series as they were "sitting ducks” in Australia.

The tourists were subjected to a 4-0 hammering as Pat Cummins' side exploited their batting frailties Down Under.

Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Jonny Bairstow were among the England players who travelled to Australia soon after missing out on T20 World Cup glory in the United Arab Emirates.

England were also devoid of match practice with the red ball before doing battle with Australia.

Collingwood, England's assistant coach, says the strains of having to contend with bio-secure bubbles and such a demanding schedule meant they never really stood a chance of regaining the urn.

He said: "Yes, we made mistakes, 100 per cent we made selection mistakes, we made toss mistakes, but the fact we actually turned up and agreed a five-match Ashes series, the guys should be given medals for that.

"It would've been much better if we'd done two matches and then three next year. That would've been a great compromise.

"But no, Australia were not bothered that they were going to receive an England team who were mentally fatigued, they just wanted to get the product out there. They just wanted the Ashes. We were sitting ducks."

He added: "Resilience is a major quality you need to have when you go to Australia, and if your resilience is removed – because of the conditions you've been in – that has an effect.

"These guys don't deserve criticism. They should be told 'well done' for even going. It's the equivalent of the England football team being asked to go to a World Cup, then from that bubble into the Euros. Would you expect a performance in that scenario? It's ludicrous."

Collingwood, who has stepped up for head coach duties for the ongoing T20I series against West Indies, is concerned about the long-term effects being restricted to bubble environments will have on players.

"You can't even explain what it's like until you experience it," he said.

"Take someone like Chris Woakes, the most loveable and down-to-earth guy. I have seen him in some serious mental states. We have seen Ben Stokes, someone we consider to be the most mentally tough cricketer in the world, hit by this.

"I just hope there are no ramifications moving forward, because when they come, they won't be obvious next week or the week after. These are things that might come out down the line. That's what scares me."

Rovman Powell scored a magnificent 100 as the West Indies amassed 224-5 in the third T20 International in the Betway Series against England at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Wednesday evening.

Powell scored 107 from just 53 with four fours and 10 sixes as he became only the third West Indian batsman behind Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis to score a hundred in a T20 International. His 50 came up off just 31 balls as he dominated England’s bowlers.

Coming to the crease with the West Indies 48-2 after the home side lost the wickets of Brandon King for 10 and Shai Hope for four, Powell and Nicholas Pooran put on a West Indies record 122 runs for the third wicket.

Pooran was also in belligerent form scoring 70 from 43 balls with four fours and five sixes as quickly as he scored, Powell was quicker.

The 100-run partnership came up in just 56 balls with Powell getting 71 of them. The Jamaican’s 100 came up off 51 balls and became only the third West Indies batsman to score a century in a T20 International. Only Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis have achieved that prior to Powell’s innings.

He hit a six off the 52 bowled by Reece Topley but was out next ball going for another big hit.

Fabian Allen was out first ball of the 20th over bowled by Tymal Mills but Captain Kieron Pollard, who made nine from four balls and Romario Shepherd 11 from five took the West Indies to their highest ever T20 score against England.

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