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England intra-squad match: Ollie Pope top-scores for Team Buttler in draw

Ollie Pope top-scored as England’s three-day intra-squad warm-up match ended in a draw at the Ageas Bowl.

Surrey batsman Pope made an unbeaten 55 as Team Buttler set Team Stokes a nominal 255 for victory.

All-rounder Stokes, who will captain England in the first Test against West Indies, was 37 not out as his side reached 157-4.

The first Test of the three-match series begins on 8 July in Southampton and will be held behind closed doors.

A 22-man squad will be named on Saturday.

Opener James Bracey, who scored 85 on the first day, further impressed in a 61-run stand with Rory Burns for Team Buttler.

Joe Denly batted at three for Team Buttler but fell to his second ball, trapped lbw by Jack Leach, before Burns was bowled by Moeen Ali.

However, Leach was expensive in taking 3-82 from his 13.4 overs, and was hit for five sixes as Team Buttler accelerated.

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Dom Bess seems the most likely to be England’s leading spin bowler in the first Test, bowling economically across the three days.

Stokes reached 37 from just 17 deliveries and Zak Crawley made 34 in quick time before falling lbw to Mark Wood.

In the absence of any fans, Wood serenaded the teams onto the pitch with a rendition of Jerusalem.

“It has been quiet, especially at a ground like this where there is nothing going on outside, but that doesn’t change the quality of the cricket,” Pope said.

“Whether we are going to play a bit of music out of the speakers I’m not sure, but we can find ways of creating our own atmosphere I’m sure.

“We’ve got to find a way to do that when we get on top or when we need a bit of energy.”

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England could be bold and bring in Dan Lawrence against West Indies

England could be bold and bring in Dan Lawrence against West Indies after Joe Denly lasts just two balls in intra-squad warm-up game

  • England played the final day of their intra-squad warm-up game on Friday
  • Joe Denly gave selectors a headache by being dismissed second ball
  • They are agonising over the best way to replace Joe Root against West Indies

Joe Denly on Friday inadvertently gave England a compelling reason to decide that planning for their Ashes top-order future really should start now.

On the day England breathed a sigh of relief when Sam Curran tested negative for covid-19, Denly provided a smaller headache by failing to nail down his first Test place.

Denly’s dismissal to his second ball on the final day of England’s intra-squad warm-up game leaves the selectors agonising over the best way to replace Joe Root when they name their squad to take on West Indies at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday.

Joe Denly (right) managed just one run during England’s intra-squad warm-up game on Friday

The case for England to bring in Dan Lawrence instead next week is an exciting one

And their deliberations should revolve around whether Denly really is the best man to go in at three not just next Wednesday but against Australia in 18 months time.

Rory Burns, who spent nearly two hours making 35 on Friday for Jos Buttler’s team in his first game back from injury, has enough credit to make an immediate return to the top order alongside Dom Sibley.

England could still include both Denly and Zak Crawley, who made such a promising impression when deputising for Burns in South Africa, at three and four in the absence of their captain, now back home in Sheffield ahead of the arrival of his second child.  

But with Denly still struggling to prove he is capable of more than just lasting a hundred or so balls in a Test innings before getting out, the case for England to be bold and bring in Dan Lawrence instead next week is an exciting one.

Ollie Pope was promoted to four on Friday and went on to make an unbeaten 55 at Ageas Bowl

It was perhaps revealing to see Ollie Pope promoted to four on Friday where he made an unbeaten 55 before Buttler declared for the second time in the match with his side on 200 for six. Stand-in captain Ben Stokes’ team then responded with 157 for four before both teams bumped elbows on a draw.

Pope could now bat in Root’s place next week with Crawley at three and Lawrence at six. For now the Essex man, who made 58 in the first innings after starring for the Lions in Australia last winter, is at least expected to be included in what will probably be a 15-man squad, with seven reserves asked to remain in the Ageas Bowl bubble.

Curran, who was put into isolation on Thursday after suffering sickness, will return to training over the weekend and will be closely monitored by the team doctor before undergoing another covid test with the rest of the squad on Sunday.


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Sam Curran: England all-rounder tests negative for coronavirus

England all-rounder Sam Curran has returned a negative test for coronavirus.

The 22-year-old experienced a sickness bug on Wednesday night during England’s intra-squad warm-up match in Southampton.

He has been self-isolating in his hotel room and will play no further part in the match, which ends on Friday.

The Surrey man will be monitored by the team doctor with a view to returning to training at the weekend.

He will take a further coronavirus test on Sunday, along with the rest of the players and staff.

England’s three-Test series against West Indies, which begins on Wednesday in Southampton, is being held behind closed doors and in a bio-secure environment.

England have been living and training in Southampton as they prepare for the series.

Before Curran fell ill, players and staff had been subject to a total of 702 tests, all of which gave negative results.

England will trim their training group of 30 down to a Test squad of around 20 at the conclusion of the intra-squad match, with the announcement of the squad due on Saturday morning.

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Black Lives Matter: England players to have logo on shirts v West Indies

England will join West Indies in having a Black Lives Matter logo on their shirts for this month’s Tests.

CEO Tom Harrison said the England and Wales Cricket Board “fully support the message that Black Lives Matter” and “there can be no place for racism in society or our sport”.

He added: “Our support of that message is not an endorsement, tacit or otherwise, of any political organisation, nor the backing of any group that calls for violence or condones illegal activity.”

It is understood the England squad will not take a knee before the first Test at the Ageas Bowl next week.

Speaking on behalf of the England players, captain Joe Root said: “It is important to show solidarity to the black community and to raise much-needed awareness around the topics of equality and justice.

“The England players and management are unified in this approach and will use the platform of international cricket to fully support the objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists.”

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The ECB has taken a similar tone to the Premier League in distancing itself from suggestions it is endorsing a political movement.

The Black Lives Matter movement has led to global protests against racism and police brutality following the death in the United States of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, while a police officer knelt on his neck.

The Premier League has shown its solidarity, with players’ names replaced on the back of their shirts with ‘Black Lives Matter’ for the first 12 matches of the restarted season, and a Black Lives Matter badge will feature on all shirts for the rest of the campaign.

But while ‘Black Lives Matter’ has become the slogan behind the protests, Black Lives Matter also exists as a global organisation, founded in 2013, with several goals including to advocate against white supremacy and police violence towards black people.

A series of tweets from the Black Lives Matter UK account about Palestine at the weekend prompted criticism.

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England all-rounder Sam Curran goes into self-isolation

ECB holding its breath after all-rounder Sam Curran goes into self-isolation and takes coronavirus test following bout of vomiting and diarrhea ahead of first West Indies Test next week

  • England all-rounder Sam Curran’s health is said to have improved in the evening
  • But a positive coronavirus test would jeopardise the West Indies Test next week
  • The ECB were tight-lipped about the wider ramifications of a positive result 
  • The next round of coronavirus testing is currently scheduled for Sunday

English cricket is crossing its fingers after all-rounder Sam Curran went into self-isolation and underwent a Covid-19 test following a bout of vomiting and diarrhea inside the team bubble at the Ageas Bowl.

Curran’s health is said to have improved, but a positive result tomorrow would jeopardise England’s preparations for next week’s first Test against West Indies, who have been notified of the development.

The ECB were tight-lipped about the wider ramifications of a positive result, though Curran himself would begin seven days of quarantine, while the next round of testing – currently scheduled for Sunday – would almost certainly be brought forward.

England all-rounder Sam Curran has self-isolated following a bout of vomiting and diarrhea

Curran’s health is said to have improved ahead of the first Test against West Indies next week

All 29 squad members, plus the backroom staff, have been tested three times each since entering Southampton’s biosecure set-up on June 23.

Sources remain hopeful that Curran has succumbed to nothing more serious than a 24-hour bug. But the repercussions of a positive result – with team-mates forced into self-isolation less than a week before the start of the first Test on Wednesday, and inevitable questions about the viability of biosecure sport during a pandemic – do not bear thinking about.

The news overshadowed the second day of England’s practice match, though Somerset off-spinner Dom Bess made his case for inclusion against West Indies with figures of 20-6-60-2 as Ben Stokes’s team were bowled out for 233 in reply to the Jos Buttler XI’s total of 287 for five declared.

Sources are hopeful that Curran has succumbed to nothing more serious than a 24-hour bug

It overshadowed day two of England’s practice match where spinner Dom Bess shone

The 22-year-old Bess, who has played only four Tests, was England’s first-choice spinner during their 3-1 win in South Africa earlier this year, and insisted: ‘I want to push that spot and make it my own. The ball came out of my hand really nicely.’

Kent’s Zak Crawley top-scored with 43 on a sluggish pitch, while Stokes hit an attractive 41, including six over extra cover off Bess, before he was stumped off Lancashire leg-spinner Matt Parkinson. Mark Wood bowled with pace and hostility, while Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson produced a probing spell of 9-4-7-2.

Meanwhile, West Indies captain Jason Holder continued to struggle with the bat when he was dismissed for just two during his team’s rain-affected practice match in Manchester.

Holder, who promoted himself to open in a bid to spend time in the middle, has now scored seven runs in three innings ahead of next week’s first Test. He was watched by coach Phil Simmons, back in the team bubble following five days in self-isolation after he attended a funeral.

Ben Stokes hit an attractive 41 before being stumped off leg-spinner Matt Parkinson

Meanwhile, West Indies captain Jason Holder continued to struggle and made just two 




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England v West Indies: Ben Stokes says captaincy will not change his style

Ben Stokes says he will not alter his style of play if he is confirmed as England captain for the first Test against West Indies.

Skipper Joe Root is set to miss the match, which begins on 8 July, for the birth of his second child, with vice-captain Stokes likely to step in.

“I hope that I always try to set the example in terms of attitude and commitment,” said 29-year-old Stokes.

“If I am in charge that’s not going to change the way that I go about things.”

Stokes has enjoyed a stellar 12-month period in which he led England to victory in the World Cup final, then played one of the all-time great Test innings in the remarkable one-wicket Ashes win over Australia at Headingley.

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The Durham all-rounder regularly produces his best performances in pressure moments, and did so again by bowling England to victory on the final day of the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town in January.

“In terms of how I want to influence the game, I try to have a positive effect with the ball or bat in my hand,” he said.

“No matter what I do in terms of choosing what to do in a situation, it will always be the positive route.”

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Stokes was named vice-captain when Root took over as captain in 2017, but was stripped of the role following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September that year that led to him being charged with affray.

He asked to be reinstated at the end of 2019 and is now set to become the 81st man to lead England in a Test, and the first all-rounder since Andrew Flintoff.

“Getting the opportunity to captain England is a huge honour – even if it’s only the once you can still say ‘yeah, I’ve captained England’,” said Stokes, 29.

“It’s a huge honour to think about, and something I’m really looking forward to if the opportunity presents itself, but also at the same time I know I’m only stepping in for the one game because of Joe’s personal situation.”

Stokes, who has no captaincy experience in the professional game, and said the last time he led a side was during his time with the Durham academy.

“We’ve got some really experienced guys out in the field who I can use,” he said.

“I’d like to think that I’ll be quite an open captain and wouldn’t want to just think that my way is the only way.

“There are 11 guys out on the field, so why not get 10 other opinions on something that you’re thinking about?”

The opening day of West Indies’ four-day intra-squad practice match – their last game before the Test series – was washed out at Old Trafford.

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Ben Stokes to captain England for the first time against West Indies

Ben Stokes to captain England for the first time against West Indies with Joe Root set to be at the birth of his second child – forcing the skipper to self-isolate for a week

  • Joe Root is set to miss England’s first Test next week against the West Indies
  • The 29-year-old has not missed a Test since being made skipper back in 2017
  •  His absence will mean Ben Stokes is set to captain England for the first time

Ben Stokes is preparing to captain England for the first time after the team management resigned themselves to being without Joe Root for next week’s first Test against West Indies.

Root’s wife, Carrie, is due to give birth to their second child, and has been booked in for a C-section in Sheffield over the next few days. But with Covid-19 protocols dictating that Root would have to self-isolate for a week even after leaving hospital, his chances of walking out at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl on July 8 are remote.

His absence will end an unbroken sequence of 77 Tests since he returned to the team in 2014 following his dropping at Sydney in January that year. Only Alastair Cook, who played a world-record 159 in a row, has appeared in more consecutive Tests for England.

Ben Stokes is set to replace the absent Joe Root as captain in the first Test with West Indies

That means Stokes, less than two years after he was acquitted on charges of affray at Bristol Crown Court, will finally lead his country, despite never having captained any team more prominent than the Durham academy in 2008.

And he will do so with the endorsement of England’s senior players.

‘Ben will be absolutely fine,’ said fast bowler Stuart Broad.

‘He has got a really good cricket brain, and has grown and matured incredibly over the last three or four years. To come in and captain one game, I think he’ll find that very easy. 

‘He’s taking over Rooty’s team to make on-field decisions, so I don’t think he’ll struggle in any aspects.’

 ‘One thing we have to encourage him as other players is to make sure he uses his own ability as well.

Joe Root is set to be at the birth of his second child in the coming days and will have to isolate 

Root’s absence means that Stokes will step in his place and captain England for the first time

‘Captains can be quite shy of bringing themselves on to bowl. But we just need to him encourage him: “Actually Stokesy, now’s your time to come on with the ball and make an impact.”

‘I’ve got no doubts he will be brilliant at captaining England.’

Root is expected to be ready to resume his leadership for the second Test at Emirates Old Trafford starting on July 16.




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England cricketers will not be allowed contact during West Indies test

No high fives! England cricketers are issued warning over physical contact during their ‘bio-secure’ three-Test series against West Indies as they are urged to avoid celebrations and handshakes

  • England cricketers have been told to avoid handshakes, high-fives and hugs
  • The warning comes before their ‘bio-secure’ three-Test series v West Indies
  • Doctors want players to bump fists or touch elbows to stop spread of COVID-19

England’s cricketers will be told to avoid handshakes, high-fives and hugs during their ‘bio-secure’ three-Test series against West Indies in a bid to lessen the risks of coronavirus.

Instead of the usual celebrations, they have been advised by team doctors to bump fists or touch elbows, minimising the chances of the virus being transmitted via the palm of the hand or by air droplets.

The plan may be easier said than done. West Indies went into their recent three-day practice match in Manchester with similar plans, but players were soon high-fiving as normal when wickets fell.

England cricketers have been told to avoid physical contact during their West Indies test series

Last week, the ECB confirmed all 702 Covid-19 tests carried out in preparation for the three-match series — at the Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford — had come back negative. That tally included Jofra Archer, who had two tests after a member of his household reported symptoms.

Meanwhile, England spinner Jack Leach believes he might have contracted Covid-19 in January during the tour of South Africa, not long after a life-threatening bout of sepsis in New Zealand. 

He said: ‘We’ll never know. But if you had the symptoms I had there now, you’d think, “This is definitely coronavirus”. I feel healthy now, and want to stay that way.’

Doctors are bringing in the hygiene measures in a bid to prevent spread of coronavirus  




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Joe Root warns England about 'formidable' West Indies pace attack

England captain Joe Root has warned his side about West Indies’ ‘formidable’ pace attack ahead of the upcoming three-match Test series.

Root’s side will play three behind-closed-doors Test matches against the Windies, beginning at The Ageas Bowl on July 8.

In the most recent Test series between the two teams, West Indies triumphed 2-1 in the Caribbean at the start of 2019, and Root expects his side to be tested once again over the next month.

‘We are very aware of the skill West Indies have and what they will bring to this series,’ Root told BBC Sport.

‘One thing that stood out was how formidable their bowling attack can be. It is really important we prepare well and we are ready for all of that.’

Leading West Indies’ pace attack will be the experienced Kemar Roach, while captain Jason Holder and fast bowler Shannon Gabriel will bolster the tourists’ resources with the ball.

Holder, the leading run-scorer on either side last year, is the number one all-rounder in Test cricket, ahead of England’s Ben Stokes.

Root added: ‘Jase is one of the most well-respected guys in international cricket.

‘He took the job at a young age and we are starting to see him at the peak of his career.

‘He comes across as a very good bloke. I am looking forward to chatting to him from a social distance.’

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Ultimate England Cricketers: Vote in the batting categories

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Who has possessed the best cover drive in the England men’s team in the last 20 years? Whose power and innovation would you choose?

BBC Sport and the England and Wales Cricket Board have teamed up and want your help to build the Ultimate 21st Century England cricketers.

Our panel of ex-players, coaches and broadcasters has created a shortlist of three England players for eight shots and skills but now it is down to you to vote for your favourite.

This week it is the turn of the batsmen, with the bowlers’ vote taking place on Monday before the winners are revealed on Friday 3 July on the BBC Sport website and app.

Select your winners below…

Cover drive

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Cut

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Defence

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Pull

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Straight drive

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Innovation

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Power

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Off their pads

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