Ben Stokes misses out as England retain James Anderson as vice-captain for New Zealand series

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Anderson will continue as Root's deputy for the two Tests.

England have decided to retain James Anderson as vice-captain instead of handing the role back to Ben Stokes for two Tests against New Zealand.

Evergreen seamer Anderson replaced Stokes for this winter’s Ashes, once it became clear the all-rounder would not be available.

Stokes missed the 4-0 defeat to Australia, while he waited to discover if he would be charged over a late-night incident outside a Bristol bar last September.

He rejoined England here in New Zealand only once he had indicated a not guilty plea to affray at Bristol Magistrates Court last month.

Stokes learned on Monday, after a hearing at Bristol Crown Court, that he will face trial in August on a charge of affray alongside two other men, and the next day England announced Anderson will once again be Joe Root‘s deputy for a two-match campaign which starts in Auckland next week.

Speaking after England’s practice session in Hamilton, for two warm-up matches over the next four days, Anderson told BBC Test Match Special: “I’m delighted Joe has asked me to do it again for this series.”

As in Australia, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker stressed that the extra responsibility will have no major bearing on the way he conducts himself.

“Being a vice-captain doesn’t make me behave any differently in the dressing-room or on the field,” said Anderson.

“It doesn’t change my role in the team a huge amount.

“I see myself as a senior player and I’m there for people if they need advice.

“Certainly if Joe needs help on the field, I’m there for him.”

Anderson is the elder statesman of an England attack which he and Stuart Broad have led for much of the past decade.

Anderson and Broad have led England's attack for almost a decade.

Anderson and Broad have led England’s attack for almost a decade.

He added: “I know what my job is for the team – I’ve got to take wickets with that new ball, create pressure during the middle periods as well, try to take wickets, and help the other bowlers out as well.

“It’s a big group effort when we go on the field, so it’s important that we get that right.

“Again in the dressing-room, it’s trying to get people relaxed and ready to play Test cricket.”

He is one of a clutch of senior players who naturally help others feel at ease on the international stage.

“It’s not just my job; it’s Joe’s, Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad have plenty of experience, and the coaches as well who have been around the block.

“It’s our job to help out where we can and try to help this team progress.”

After it emerged that Stokes is set to miss next summer’s showpiece Lord’s Test against India because of a clash with his trial date, it appears likely Anderson will be re-engaged again as vice-captain once back home.

Asked about that prospect, he said: “I honestly don’t mind.

“It’s totally down to Joe.

“It’s an honour that he’s asked me … (but) I’m not looking further than these two Test matches.”

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Afghanistan make the cut for World Cup Qualifier Super Six stage

Waseem Ahmed 12/03/2018
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Afghanistan scraped into the Super Six Stage of the ICC World Cup Qualifier after Nepal defeated Hong Kong by five wickets in Bulawayo on Monday.

In their Group B clash, Hong Kong were bowled out for 153 in 48.2 overs with mystery spinner Sandeep Lamichhane finishing with superb figures of 3-17 from his 10 overs.

In reply, Nepal were in deep trouble at 66-5. Lower order batsmen Rohit Kumar (48) and Sompal Kami (37) shared an unbeaten 89-run partnership to clinch a consolation win for Nepal, who exited the Qualifier with three defeats and one win.

Afghanistan, pre-tournament favourites but with just one win from four matches, were tied on two points along with Nepal and Hong Kong. However, they made the cut for the Super Six stage as they are the only team among the three with a positive net run rate (0.038).

The road ahead will only get tougher as Afghanistan won’t carry any points into the Super Six stage. The top two teams in the World Cup Qualifier qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

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South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada suspended for two Tests

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Rabada has collected a further four demerit points on his account.

South Africa were dealt a huge blow on Monday after pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada was suspended for two Tests by the ICC following the Proteas’ series levelling win in the second Test.

The youngster was found guilty of a Level Two offence for making contact with the shoulder of Steve Smith following the Australian skipper’s dismissal in the first innings at Port Elizabeth.

He was subsequently hit by another Level One charge in the second innings after he screamed in the face of David Warner as the batsman made his way back to the pavilion.

After a lengthy one-hour hearing by match-referee Jeff Crowe, the 22-year-old was found guilty of both the charges.

As a result, he has been slapped with a fine of 50 per cent of his match fees along with three demerit points for the Level Two offence. He has been handed a further 15 per cent fine and a solitary demerit point for the Level One offence.

This means that Rabada, who came into the Test with five demerit points already to his name, now has nine. This in effect has resulted in a two-Test suspension and means that the fast-bowler will miss the remainder of the four-match series.

Rabada had taken a five-for in both innings during South Africa’s six-wicket win, capturing his fourth ten-wicket haul of his career in the process. His suspension is a huge blow for the Proteas and they will be hoping that Dale Steyn can make his expected comeback for the third Test to bolster the pace attack.

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