Cricket Windies chief explains reasoning behind Russell's Global T20 Canada participation

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West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief executive Johnny Grave has clarified that Andre Russell’s decision to participate in the Global T20 Canada is part of an injury rehabilitation program for the all-rounder.

Russell raised eyebrows recently when he pulled out of the T20 series between West Indies and India before going on to appear for the Vancouver Knights in the Global T20 Canada just a day later.

The star all-rounder has been hampered with a troublesome knee for some time now and it was responsible for prematurely ending his 2019 World Cup in England. CWI chief executive Johnny Grave has now explained that Russell’s participation in the franchise T20 league in Canada is a gradual step in getting him back to full fitness.

“We cleared him fit to play in Canada as a batsman,” Grave told ESPNcricinfo.

“To monitor his fitness every day, a couple of our physios are over in the GT20, so we’ve got that oversight with Andre and his knee.

Andre Russell's World Cup was cut short prematurely.

Andre Russell’s World Cup was cut short prematurely.

“But there’s a massive difference between playing in domestic cricket to international cricket. Our fans really want to see Andre Russell at a 100 per cent while playing here against India: batting at 100 per cent, bowling at per cent, fielding dynamically outside the circle at 100 per cent.”

The Windies chief executive expects the knee to trouble Russell throughout his playing career but is backing him to last the distance through careful management.

“His injuries are probably not going to be ones that are ever going to be fully solved,” Grave said.

“Like many other sportsmen, like the Beckhams and the Ibrahimovics that have knee injuries, daily rehab is going to be part of his life for the rest of his playing career.

“We hope that he just takes our medical advice, strengthens his knee and hopefully when he’s back to 100 per cent fitness he’ll be back wearing maroon.”

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Ottis Gibson out as coach, South Africa overhaul cricket structure

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Ottis Gibson.

Ottis Gibson has been released from his role as head coach of South Africa. Gibson, who has been linked with succeeding Trevor Bayliss as England head coach, oversaw a disappointing World Cup campaign this summer as the Proteas won just three matches.

The 50-year-old’s contract with South Africa was set to expire in September, the same month in which Bayliss will step down following the conclusion of the current Ashes series.

Gibson’s departure was announced by Cricket South Africa (CSA) as part of a new structure which will see the appointment of a team manager to take overall charge of all aspects of the team, as well as a director of cricket.

Corrie Van Zyl has been named acting director of cricket until the position is filled and will work with CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe to appoint an interim management team for the tour of India.

The shake-up comes just before the team’s tour of India next month where the Proteas will their first three Tests of the new world Test championship.

CSA said the football-style team manager will take charge of all aspects of the national team, including the appointment of coaching staff, captain and medical and administrative personnel. The manager will report directly to the director of cricket, which again is a new position.

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Ashes 2019: Steve Smith still holds the key for Australia on day three

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Steve Smith once again held Australia’s Ashes hopes on his shoulders as England’s bowlers fought in vain to dismiss their nemesis on the third evening of the opening Test.

The home side claimed a handy first-innings lead of 90, all out for 374 after Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes backed up Rory Burns’ maiden international hundred with vital tail-end runs.

They then prised out three wickets before Australia had cleared the deficit, Broad, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes dovetailing to see off the top order, leaving the fate of the game revolving around Smith.

He produced a sensational 144 to drag his side back from the brink on day one, his first Test knock since his year-long ban for ball-tampering, and when bad light intervened shortly after 6pm at Edgbaston he had effortlessly reeled off another unbeaten 46.

Australia will resume on 124 for three, 34 in front, knowing their chances might well live and die with their former skipper.

TWEET OF THE DAY

EYES ON THE SKIES

The Met Office expects any early morning showers to give way before the scheduled start while there is just a 10 per cent chance of rain throughout the hours of play. Those hoping for sunshine may be disappointed as it is anticipated the cloud will hang around with temperatures rising to a peak of 23 degrees in the afternoon.

JOFRA ENTERS THE FRAY

The surprise figure of Jofra Archer made a brief appearance as a substitute fielder to cheers from the crowd shortly after Australia had wiped out the first-innings deficit. Archer, England’s leading wicket-taker in their triumphant World Cup campaign, was omitted from the XI to face Australia amid concerns about a side strain but he featured in the Vitality Blast for Sussex at Hove on Friday night. He was back in Birmingham on Saturday afternoon, and he briefly stopped play on his exit as he went upstairs behind the bowler’s arm.

WHO’S CAPTAIN?

Smith became increasingly animated in the field as Woakes and Broad wrestled back the initiative for England, at times appearing to direct fielders from first slip ahead of captain Tim Paine. The former Australia captain is banned from a leadership position for the next year because of his role in the ball-tampering affair but Paine seemed happy to delegate duties at times in a frustrating period for his side.

Steve Smith and Tim Paine

WARNER NOT A WALKER

On two occasions in this Test, Warner has feathered behind off Stuart Broad and stood his ground. It is a stance – irrespective of anyone’s views on the sensitive subject of batsmen walking – that is slightly incongruous to Australia’s ‘elite honesty’ policy since the ball-tampering scandal. Warner is not the only Australian to not walk in this Test but his blatant edge while attempting to withdraw late meant he must have known he made contact.

TOP OF THE SHOTS

Chris Woakes had a couple of nervy moments against Nathan Lyon early on but on the stroke of lunch, he cast off the shackles by getting down on one knee and slog-sweeping into the crowd beyond the deep midwicket boundary. Woakes and Stuart Broad went on to add 65 for the ninth wicket as England claimed a potentially crucial 90-run advantage in the first innings.

MONEY BALL

Moeen Ali’s batting continues to cause concern. His duck here was the sixth time in his last eight Test innings he has failed to get out of double figures while Nathan Lyon remains his bete noire. Dismissed seven times in nine innings in the last Ashes series Down Under, Moeen succumbed to his fellow spinner once again, offering no shot to one that went straight on, the ball going on to clatter into off stump for a wicket that got worse with each viewing.

WHAT’S NEXT

August 4: England v Australia, day four of the first Ashes Test, Edgbaston.

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