The British and Irish Lions have confirmed a revised schedule for this year's tour of South Africa.

All eight matches will be played in either Gauteng or Cape Town to reduce the risk of disruption potentially caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Warren Gatland's side start the trip with a fixture against the Lions in Johannesburg on July 3, rather than facing an SA Invitational team which would have been chosen from players across the country.

The tourists will play three games against provincial opposition in Gauteng before heading to Cape Town, where they will play another two warm-up games ahead of the first Test.

The Lions, who will be captained by Alun Wyn Jones, will then take on the Springboks twice at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg to complete the series.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has caused considerable disruption to the global sporting calendar, but after discussions with our partners at SA Rugby, we are very pleased to be able to give confirmation of the revised tour schedule," said Lions managing director Ben Calveley.

"While things will undoubtedly look different to a typical Lions tour, together with SA Rugby we are determined to deliver an uninterrupted Series for the players who will take the field, as well as the many millions of people watching at home.

"We would like to thank all Lions supporters for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate our way through the impact of the pandemic, and also extend our enormous gratitude to our commercial partners for their incredible ongoing support."

 

British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa schedule:

July 3: Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
July 7: Sharks (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
July 10: Bulls (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
July 14: South Africa A (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
July 17: Stormers (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
July 21: South Africa (First Test, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
July 31: South Africa (Second Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg)
August 7: South Africa (Third Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg)

Destructive batsman, AB De Villiers, could be part of the South African team booked for a tour to the West Indies next month, which was officially confirmed by Cricket South Africa (CSA) director of cricket Graeme Smith.

 After several months of negotiations, the teams are confirmed to play two Test matches and five Twenty20 Internationals.  The venue, which will be one country, due to existing coronavirus protocols, has not yet been announced.  Originally, it was believed the matches would be held in Trinidad and Tobago, but the country's fresh battle with a COVID-19 surge seems to have put that in doubt.

De Villiers, who played in the Caribbean with the Barbados Tridents in 2016, has not played for the South African team since a Test match against Australia in 2018.  The player has, however, given repeated displays of his jaw-dropping hitting ability for the India Premier League (IPL) franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

It was last month that South Africa coach Mark Boucher suggested the big hitter could return to the South Africa line-up for the T20 World Cup, scheduled for India from October to November.  It could still be moved due to issues caused by an outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Africa has not played in the West Indies since 2016.

Johnny Sexton's omission from the British and Irish Lions squad was one of Warren Gatland's "toughest decisions", the coach has admitted.

Ireland legend Sexton, the 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year, was one of the surprise exclusions from Gatland's 37-man selection for the upcoming tour of South Africa.

Sexton misses out despite the fly-half playing a key role on the 2017 trip to New Zealand, with Gatland expressing some concerns over the 35-year-old's "durability" and instead calling up Dan Biggar, Owen Farrell and Finn Russell.

"There's no doubt that that was one of the toughest decisions that we had to make," said Gatland at a news conference on Thursday.

"I've got a huge amount of respect for Johnny and his quality, but it's such a pivotal position for us and it's about sending a message to the 10s that we have selected that we have the confidence and belief in them to do a job.

"When we looked at where we were going in South Africa probably the thing that kept coming back to us was Johnny's durability, being able to put a string of matches together consecutively, and big matches.

"He has been rested on a number of occasions and unfortunately that's possibly what swayed it for us in terms of us not having the confidence that he can get through what's going to be a tough, physical tour."

Billy Vunipola was also a notable absentee from the list, while other big calls saw Wales centre Jonathan Davies, England prop Kyle Sinckler and Ireland second row James Ryan left out.

However, Gatland did find room for Exeter Chiefs number eight Sam Simmonds, who has not played a Test for England since March 2018.

The Lions will face the Springboks in Tests on July 24, July 31 and August 7.

Alun Wyn Jones has been named captain of the British and Irish Lions for their tour of South Africa, leading a 37-man squad.

Warren Gatland announced his selection on Thursday ahead of the trip in July, which follows a warm-up against Japan next month.

Wales great Jones has been chosen for the leadership role having featured in the past nine Lions Tests going back to 2009, the longest run in the professional era.

Jones has already skippered the side once previously in the absence of the injured Sam Warburton in Australia eight years ago, clinching a first series win since 1997.

Elsewhere in Gatland's squad, Ireland's former World Rugby Player of the Year Johnny Sexton misses out despite playing a key role on the 2017 trip to New Zealand.

Billy Vunipola was also a notable absentee from the list, while other big calls saw Wales centre Jonathan Davies, England prop Kyle Sinckler and Ireland second row James Ryan excluded.

However, Gatland did find room for Exeter Chiefs number eight Sam Simmonds, who has not played a Test for England since March 2018.

"We believe we've picked a squad capable of winning a Test series in South Africa," Gatland - who opted for 11 Englishmen, 10 Welshmen and eight apiece from Ireland and Scotland - said following the squad announcement.

"Selecting a Lions squad is never easy and, in many ways, this has been the most challenging selection I have been involved in.

"Over the course of the last three weeks the coaches and I have rigorously debated each position.

"We saw some outstanding performances in the recent Six Nations, so competition for places has been tough with some incredibly tight calls to make. 

"However, we are very happy with the squad we have assembled and look forward to meeting up in Jersey in just over a month's time to start our preparation to take on the world champions.

"We've left out some very talented players which gives an indication to the strength of this squad and we know how important that stand-by list will be.

"Being selected for a Lions tour is the greatest honour for a British and Irish player and I congratulate everyone named today."

The Lions will face the Springboks in Tests on July 24, July 31 and August 7.


British and Irish Lions squad in full:

Josh Adams (Cardiff, Wales), Bundee Aki (Connacht, Ireland), Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales), Elliot Daly (Saracens, England), Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales), Owen Farrell (Saracens, England), Chris Harris (Gloucester, Scotland), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster, Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland), Conor Murray (Munster, Ireland), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland), Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester, Wales), Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh, Scotland), Anthony Watson (Bath, England), Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales); Tadhg Beirne (Munster, Ireland), Jack Conan (Leinster, Ireland), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland), Taulupe Faletau (Bath, Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster, Ireland), Jamie George (Saracens, England), Iain Henderson (Ulster, Ireland), Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England), Maro Itoje (Saracens, England), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales), Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England), Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales), Andrew Porter (Leinster, Ireland), Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh, Scotland), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, Wales), Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh, Scotland).

Alun Wyn Jones has been named captain of the British and Irish Lions for their tour of South Africa, leading a 36-man squad.

Warren Gatland announced his selection on Thursday ahead of the trip in July, which follows a warm-up against Japan next month.

Wales great Jones has been chosen as captain having featured in the past nine Lions Tests going back to 2009, the longest run in the professional era.

Jones has already skippered the side once in the absence of the injured Sam Warburton in Australia eight years ago, clinching a first series win since 1997.

Pakistan sealed a 3-1 triumph over South Africa in their Twenty20 series despite almost matching a wretched batting collapse by the hosts in the Centurion finale.

The Proteas slumped from 109-2 to 144 all out amid a display of artless batsmanship to set Pakistan just a modest victory target, yet the chasing side almost threw away the match with an implosion of their own.

Eventually they won by three wickets with one ball to spare, Fakhar Zaman smashing 60 from 34 balls and Mohammad Nawaz clinching victory with a six when just two runs were required.

Babar Azam's century had spurred Pakistan to a nine-wicket win in the third game of this four-match series, but where that contest, also at Centurion, was a run-fest, with both teams topping 200, this time South Africa were masters of their own downfall.

Aiden Markram came into the match behind three successive T20 fifties, attempting to be only the third player, after Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle, to make four in a row.

He was the first batsman to be dismissed, however, lbw to Nawaz, and although Janneman Malan (33) and Rassie van der Dussen (52) then put on 57 for the second wicket, there was little other resistance to be found among the South Africa batsmen.

Faheem Ashraf tormented the top order for figures of 3-17 in four overs, while Hasan Ali rebounded well from being carted for 29 in his opening two overs, finishing with 3-40.

In Pakistan's reply, Fakhar came to the crease after Mohammad Rizwan slumped to a first-over stumping, and the left-hander soon set about the home attack, crunching five fours and four sixes before being caught as a wild swipe at Lizaad Williams sent the ball skywards.

His departure triggered the second heavy flurry of wickets in the match, Pakistan sliding from 92-1 to 129-7, needing someone to find some composure.

Nawaz was that man, first punishing Sisanda Magala for delivering two consecutive no-balls in the penultimate over, flogging his second free hit over the ropes. In a nervy final over, Nawaz (25 not out) picked off Williams from the fifth ball, pulling square over the boundary for the winning runs.

Chaos reigns

A contest littered with chaotic cricket was perhaps best summed up by the first delivery of the ninth over in Pakistan's reply. Tabraiz Shamsi's delivery was short, sat up and called for severe punishment. Even so, Fakhar looked sure to miss out on a boundary as George Linde moved to sweep up inside the boundary. Yet Linde inexplicably failed to get his body in the way of the ball. Really rather poor all round.

Hasan heroic

While Faheem and Haris Rauf (2-18) kept it supremely tight throughout their spells, the same could not be said for Hasan, who came in for some brutal early treatment. It takes sporting courage and skill to rebound from two horror overs, and he demonstrated such attributes by taking three wickets in his next two sets of six, including that of Magala from his final delivery.

South Africa levelled the four-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan at 1-1 thanks to a convincing six-wicket win at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

The Proteas - minus their Indian Premier League stars - had slipped to defeat in the opening game on Saturday but recovered impressively from that setback, with a disciplined bowling performance restricting their opponents to 140-9.

Aidan Markram led the reply with 54 from 30 balls and while there was a mid-innings wobble as they slipped to 98-4, the hosts still cruised to their victory target with six overs to spare.

Stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen finished up unbeaten on 36, while George Linde was 20 not out from just 10 deliveries to complete a fine all-round performance.

Mohammad Rizwan had starred in Pakistan's successful run chase at the weekend, making an unbeaten 74, but fell for a first-ball duck this time.

The recalled Sharjeel Khan – playing his first international game since January 2017 – also departed early for eight, leaving the score at 10-2 in the third over of an innings that simply never gained momentum.

Skipper Babar Azam made 50 at a run-a-ball rate and Mohammad Hafeez contributed 32, the pair adding 58 for the third wicket.

However, three wickets apiece for Linde – who opened the bowling with his left-arm spin - and Lizaad Williams restricted Pakistan's final score. Tabraiz Shamsi also played his part with the ball, recording figures of 1-22 from his four overs.

The two teams meet again in the third T20 at Centurion on Wednesday, with the series concluding at the same venue two days later.


Rare failure for Rizwan

Rizwan had posted scores of 74 not out, 42, 51, 104 not out and 89 in his previous five T20 appearances for Pakistan. However, the impressive run of form came to a rapid halt on Monday.

The wicketkeeper-batsman fell to the first ball of the game, an ambitious attempt to hit Linde over the top only providing catching practice for Markram at mid-off.

Opening case continues

Markram made sure South Africa had no issues with the required rate in reply, hitting seven fours and three sixes in a 30-ball knock.

The opening batsman has hit back-to-back half-centuries in the format now, furthering his case for a spot in the full-strength line-up ahead of the T20 World Cup later in the year.

Mohammad Rizwan was Pakistan's match-winner again as he carried his bat through a record-breaking run chase to beat an undermanned South Africa side by four wickets in the first Twenty20 International.

Opener Rizwan was the leading run scorer with 197 when these teams met for a three-match series in Pakistan earlier this year, and his outstanding 74 not out suggested he will again have a big role to play across four games in South Africa.

It was a much-needed contribution after the Proteas - missing a host of stars, including new captain Temba Bavuma - scored a competitive 188-6 at the Wanderers.

Stand-in skipper Heinrich Klaasen won the toss and elected to bat, and he was stationed at the other end of the wicket as Aiden Markram claimed a first T20I fifty.

Markram swiftly departed for 51, but Klaasen (50) followed him to the half-century mark before Pakistan belatedly slowed their hosts a little.

In reply, neither captain Babar Azam (14), caught by debutant Lizaad Williams, nor Fakhar Zaman (27) could provide Rizwan with a steady partner.

Tabraiz Shamsi (2-29) accounted for both Fakhar and Mohammad Hafeez (13), playing his 100th match in this format, before Beuran Hendricks (3-32) took two wickets in two deliveries, including Haider Ali after 14 off eight.

That pace was surpassed by Faheem Ashraf (30 off 14), though, and a partnership of 48 with Rizwan had Pakistan needing 11 from the final over.

Williams (1-39) was handed the ball and had opportunities either side of the dismissal of Faheem, but dismal fielding throughout fittingly concluded the chase - Pakistan's highest in T20Is - with a delivery to spare courtesy of an overthrow.

Klaasen steps up but fielders fail

Bavuma added to a long list of absentees, but South Africa's performance with the bat offered few excuses and Klaasen, captain for a fourth time, contributed handily.

A target of 189, boosted by the skipper's 50 off 28, should really have been beyond Pakistan, too.

However, Williams - the most prominent of three home debutants - was denied victory in frantic fashion, Faheem dropped before he was bowled and next man in Hasan Ali also escaping prior to the decisive final error.

Pakistan reliant on Rizwan once more

Pakistan named an array of batting talent at the top of the order, with skipper Babar opening and Fakhar given his T20 chance at number three following exceptional ODI form.

But it was Rizwan, Babar's opening partner, who again came to the fore in this format after his team-mates departed.

Rizwan had 81 more runs than any other batsman in the series earlier this year and is set to play a pivotal role again, although he will hope for more help from Babar in particular over the next three matches.

Depleted South Africa will have to do without new captain Temba Bavuma as they look to quickly bounce back from ODI disappointment in a four-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan.

The Proteas went down by 28 runs in a high-scoring decider in the third and final one-dayer on Wednesday, coming up short in their run chase after the tourists had posted 320-7.

Bavuma suffered a strained hamstring while batting and will not be available for the first T20 contest on Saturday, which takes place at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg and will play no part in the series.

Heinrich Klaasen will lead the Proteas in the absence of batsman Bavuma, while the in-form Rassie van der Dussen is undergoing treatment on a quad muscle strain and Dwaine Pretorius misses out with a fractured rib.

Reeza Hendricks is also absent following the recent birth of his first child, with Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje playing in the Indian Premier League.

Aiden Markram, Andile Phehlukwayo, Daryn Dupavillon and Wiaan Mulder have been retained from the ODI squad.

Pakistan, meanwhile, will be hoping for further white-ball success, having come out on top by a 2-1 scoreline when they hosted their opponents in T20 action earlier this year.

They have added Fakhar Zaman to their squad following his outstanding form in the 50-over fixtures on South African soil.

The opening batsman followed up his 193 in a losing cause in the second game last Sunday with a crucial knock of 103 in the winner-takes-all showdown, with back-to-back centuries moving him up to number 12 in the ICC rankings.

However, Shadab Khan is ruled out due to a fractured toe. The all-rounder will be sidelined for a month, meaning he will also miss the upcoming tour to Zimbabwe. Zahid Mahmood has been named as his replacement for the T20 games on that trip.

 

Opportunity knocks in absence of Proteas stars

South Africa have failed to win their last five series' in the shortest format and you have to go back to the 2019 whitewash of Sri Lanka for their last triumph.

Miller was man of the series in that 3-0 triumph but the dangerous batsman is among the key absentees for the Proteas' next assignment.

With a T20 World Cup to come in India this year, the players who get their opportunity must grasp it and stake a claim for a place in the squad.

Will Fakhar get his chance?

The left-hander's twin hundreds boosted his career average in ODI action to 49.17. However, his T20 record at the highest level is not so hot, as he has averages 22.05 in his previous 40 appearances.

Pakistan are not short of options to bat at the top of the order, either. Captain Babar Azam has tended to open the innings, while Mohammad Rizwan scored a century - just his country's second in the format - when batting there in the home series against South Africa earlier this year.

Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam produced more brilliance to help Pakistan seal a 2-1 ODI series win over South Africa on Wednesday.

Pakistan won the decisive third ODI by 28 runs at Centurion.

They set South Africa a target of 321 after Fakhar (101) followed up his memorable innings of 193 last time out – an ODI record score in a run chase – with another century.

Pakistan captain Babar scored a century at this venue in the first ODI and almost repeated the trick before falling for 94, while Hasan Ali smashed 32 from 11 balls as the tourists scored 320-7.

Janneman Malan (70), Kyle Verreynne (62) and Andile Phehlukwayo (54) ensured South Africa – who were playing without their Indian Premier League contingent – were competitive in their run chase.

But they were ultimately bowled out for 292 in the final over as Pakistan continued a fine ODI streak that has seen them lose only two of their last 12 matches.

It is only the second time in 10 attempts that Pakistan have defeated South Africa in a 50-over series, this win coming after their triumph on the 2013 tour.

The two teams now turn their attention to a four-match T20 series which begins on Saturday.

With an all-new seam attack due to the absence of the likes of IPL duo Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, South Africa struggled to make an impression with the ball.

Fakhar had nine fours and three sixes as he put on 112 with Imam-ul-Haq (57) and then 94 with Babar to leave the tourists at 206-2 by the time his 104-ball innings came to an end.

He was dismissed by Keshav Maharaj, the pick of the Proteas bowlers with figures of 3-45.

The Pakistan innings had a huge finish when Hasan fired four maximums off the bowling of JJ Smuts (1-67) in the penultimate over.

Babar remained until he fell on the final delivery, caught by Verreynne on the boundary as he sought a six that would have taken him to three figures.

South Africa were left needing 76 from the last seven overs with five wickets in hand.

But their hopes of a successful run chase ended when they lost both Verreynne and Phehlukwayo – who put on 108 for the sixth wicket – in the space of seven balls.

It meant defeat for new captain Temba Bavuma, who has been handed the job through to the 2023 Cricket World Cup, in his first series at the helm.

Fakhar Zaman's stunning 193 proved in vain as South Africa levelled the three-match ODI series against Pakistan with a 17-run victory in Johannesburg on Sunday. 

Babar Azam's century propelled Pakistan to a dramatic three-wicket win in the first match on Friday, but they fell short of winning the series at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium after some significant contributions at the top of the order from the hosts. 

Captain Temba Bavuma was in supreme form, hitting a wonderful 92, while Quinton de Kock (80) and David Miller (50 off 27 balls) helped South Africa to 341. 

Zaman's 155-ball 193 was the highest score in a chase in ODI history, although it was not enough to help his side to an improbable victory. 

Aiden Markram set the tone for South Africa's innings with an impressive 39, ultimately falling to a Faheem Ashraf delivery.

De Kock and Bavuma anchored South Africa, putting up a 114-run partnership for the second wicket, the former bowled by Haris Rauf 20 runs shy of his century. 

Rassie van der Dussen plundered 60 off 37 balls to put the hosts in a strong position, before Bavuma was caught by Azam from Rauf's bowling for 92. 

Miller then gave South Africa's total an even healthier look with a half-century.

Pakistan suffered an early blow in the chase when Imam-ul-Haq was dismissed by Lungi Ngidi in the second over, while Anrich Nortje took three quick wickets. 

The visitors' hopes of an unlikely win looked in tatters, but Zaman gave them hope with a record-breaking innings. 

His spellbinding 193 surpassed Herchelle Gibbs' 175 as the highest individual score at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium, and was the second highest ever in a losing ODI cause.

Zaman fell in the penultimate over when he was run out by Markram after De Kock had cheekily encouraged him to think the ball was going to the other end.

Babar Azam's 13th ODI century propelled Pakistan to a dramatic three-wicket victory over South Africa as Temba Bavuma suffered defeat in his first game as limited-overs captain.

Bavuma, who replaced Quinton de Kock as skipper, could only manage one run with the bat at Centurion, but Rassie van der Dussen's unbeaten 123 helped South Africa to 273-6.

Captain Babar (103) struck 17 fours as he went at almost a run a ball, with Pakistan 186-2 when he departed.

However, they lost five further wickets for just 85 runs from there as South Africa threatened an unlikely turnaround, with some impressive death bowling from Andile Phehlukwayo fraying the nerves.

But Faheem Ashraf got Pakistan over the line off the final ball to give them a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

South Africa were reduced to 55-4 after being put into bat by the tourists, whose early inroads owed to a blitz from Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-61), who removed openers Aiden Markram and De Kock before then catching Bavuma at third man off Mohammad Hasnain.

Van der Dussen's 116-run stand with David Miller (50) gave South Africa's innings momentum, though, with Phehlukwayo sharing a stand of 64 as the Proteas' centurion found crucial support from the lower order.

The impact of that assistance looked to be minimal when Pakistan set about their reply, Babar and opener Imam-ul-Haq (70) combining for 177 to lay the platform.

Mohammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan appeared to have steadied the ship after Anrich Nortje (4-51) accounted for Pakistan's talismen as he ripped through the middle order.

But there was to be great drama in the closing overs. Rizwan holed out to deep midwicket off Phehlukwayo and, when Shadab fell to the same bowler going for the big shot on the first delivery of the final over needing only three off six balls, comeback hopes were very much alive.

Phehlukwayo then produced three successive dot balls but Faheem took advantage of a slower ball and a wide delivery to produce the final three runs as Pakistan survived a nervier conclusion than was necessary.

The British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa is set to go ahead as planned later this year after proposals to stage matches elsewhere were rejected.

Due to continued complications surrounding the coronavirus crisis, questions were raised over whether the Lions would be able to travel to South Africa for the eight-match trip.

But rather than host matches in the UK and Ireland, or take up Australia's offer to play games Down Under, it has been decided to press ahead with the original itinerary

The Lions and SA Rugby released a joint statement on Tuesday to confirm an agreement is in place over the staging of the tour, which begins on July 3 and continues into early August.

"After reviewing information relating to the various contingency scenarios being considered, I can confirm that the board's intended position is for the Tour to go ahead as scheduled in South Africa in 2021," said Lions chairman Jason Leonard.

"We acknowledge that there is a significant amount of work still to be undertaken to deliver a robust Covid-19 countermeasure plan to ensure a successful, safe and uninterrupted Tour. SA Rugby will have our full support to help implement this plan."

However, the original plan for the Lions to play five warm-up matches against provincial teams, an invitational side and second-string South Africa A before the three-Test series with the Springboks could still change.

"We appreciate the Lions' faith and share their desire to see a safe and successful tour,” said SA Rugby president Mark Alexander in the same statement. 

"We have been in regular contact with our government to make that a reality against the backdrop of the pandemic and its predicted progression over the coming months.

"There are serious financial implications for SA Rugby, should the event take place without any supporters in attendance, and we cannot ignore that in our considerations. 

"But we are determined that the eventual outcome will deliver the best occasion and experience for players, supporters and our commercial partners."

Speaking earlier on Tuesday, RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney acknowledged the preferred contingency plan of staging the tour in the UK had become increasingly unviable.

"It was always the preferred option to go to South Africa," he said. "We had to develop a whole range of different scenarios given the potential outcomes and one of those was a UK series.

"It's quite controversial as it's not the spirit of the Lions, but as fall-back option, we thought it was a strong one. If they can't host it, the agreement's off and we've probably run out of time to host it in the UK, so you play in 2025."

Lions coach Warren Gatland is due to announce a squad for the tour at the start of May, with the first warm-up match to be played on home soil on Murrayfield against Japan on June 26.

South Africa have announced the appointment of Dean Elgar as Test captain, while Temba Bavuma is to take charge of the Proteas in limited-overs cricket.  

The announcement of the duo to their respective roles comes after Quinton de Kock had led South Africa in all formats on a temporary basis, though Heinrich Klaasen was in charge for last month’s Twenty20 series in Pakistan due to the wicketkeeper-batsman's absence.  

Cricket South Africa (CSA) director of cricket Graeme Smith thanked De Kock for his efforts as skipper, while made clear he will continue to play an “integral role” as part of the leadership group.  

Opening batsman Elgar – who has played 67 Tests and scored 13 hundreds in the format - will be skipper through the next cycle of the ICC World Test Championship.  

Bavuma, meanwhile, is to lead South Africa in the 2021 and 2022 T20 World Cup tournaments, as well as the next 50-over World Cup, which takes place in India in 2023. He will also serve as vice-captain in Test cricket, too.

"We as CSA are pleased with the appointments of Temba and Dean and believe that we have the men who will lead the Proteas back to their winning ways of old," Smith said in a statement. 

"The pair bring the required stability in both leadership and form to turn the ship in the direction that will eventually bring trophies back to the cabinets. 

"Temba has been a strong and influential voice in the team in recent times and has shown consistency on the field in all formats, solidifying his place as a leader. He also has the trust and backing of the players and coaches around him.” 

On Elgar, he added: “Dean has made no secret of his Test captaincy ambitions over the years and we are pleased to have a leader who is ready, willing and able to step up to the massive task of turning our Test cricket fortunes around.  

"His role as a leader in the Test team has never been in doubt and I know that he relishes the prospect of captaining the Test team. We are confident that he will bring the same grit and determination to his captaincy as he has brought to his many performances on the field over many years."

Rugby World Cup-winning South Africa captain Siya Kolisi has officially signed with the Sharks.

Kolisi was at the weekend released from his contract with the Stormers, which had been due to expire in October, upon the acceptance of a transfer fee.

The 29-year-old flanker was expected to join Durban-based franchise the Sharks and that move was confirmed on Wednesday.

Kolisi made 118 Super Rugby appearances in his 11 years with the Stormers, for whom only Schalk Burger (123) managed more.

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