Kagiso Rabada up to world number three spot in ICC rankings

Kagiso Rabada is proving his worth as one of South Africa's finest cricketers as he moved up two slots to reach a career-best third position on the ICC rankings.

The pace bowler gained the two slots among bowlers in the ICC Test Player Rankings after his player of the match performance against Bangladesh in Bloemfontein.

He helped the South Africans complete a 2-0 win in the two-Test series after grabbing five wickets in each innings for an enviable match haul of 10/63 that helped his side to an innings and 254 runs victory.

Rabada also made a notable improvement in the latest rankings, which also take into account the second Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Dubai.

He is now on 876 points, only eight points behind second-placed India spinner Ravindra Jadeja and 20 behind top-ranked James Anderson of England.

Rabada stocks keep on raising

Blue Bulls coach eyeing Currie Cup final four

Getting their rhythm and groove is what Blue Bulls coach John Mitchell wants as he named an unchanged team for the clash against the Steval Pumas on Friday.

The Currie Cup fixture will be staged at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in their last home league fixture of the season.

Mitchell was forced to make one change from the squad that travelled to Bloemfontein last weekend, with Ulrich Beyers being replaced by Travis Ismaiel.

“We are slowly but surely getting into some sort of rhythm in our play and consistency in selection,” Mitchell said.

“We are still in with a chance to make it into the final four and owe it to ourselves and our supporters out there to give it a full go.”

The Bulls need to win their last match and hope results in other fixtures go their way in order to make the semifinals.

Blue Bulls team: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Burger Odendaal (captain), 12 JT Jackson, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman

Substitutes: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Matthys Basson, 18 Jano Venter, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Travis Ismaiel

Will Pat Cummins ‘do a Mitchell Johnson’ in the next Ashes series?

Pat Cummins is hoping to be Australia’s ‘enforcer’ in the upcoming 2017-18 Ashes series against old enemies England.

The 24-year-old fast bowler is set to finally play Test cricket on home soil - he hasn’t played the longest format of the sport in front of Australian fans due to numerous injury problems - and believes that aggression and intimidation will be key to Australia regaining the Ashes.

Cummins has identified England opener Alastair Cook and captain Joe Root as the key wickets, and hopes to emulate Mitchell Johnson, who famously terrorised the Three Lions in the last Ashes series in Australia in 2013/14, when he took 37 wickets to lead the hosts to a 5-0 whitewash.

"We're lucky there's a few of us who are all pretty tall and get a bit of bounce with a bit of pace," Cummins said in Sydney, as quoted by ESPN Cricinfo.

"I'd love to play that [intimidation] role, hopefully the wickets have a bit of pace and bounce in them, getting the adrenaline up and running in and trying to bowl quick.

"No one really likes it if you've got real pace and real accuracy. Especially those kinds of guys, they play on slower wickets where there's not as much bounce.

“So over here and in South Africa as well it's one of our biggest strengths, as batsmen we grow up on these wickets and as bowlers, getting bounce has always been really important.

“So I think it's trying to make it as different to their home conditions as possible, bouncy fast wickets and short balls are definitely that.

"Just playing a Test match in Australia will be a pretty weird feeling, I've played five now but none at home which is obviously what you grow up watching, so it'll be great to be part of an Ashes series, it'll be pretty amazing.

“I was over there a couple of years ago in England, running drinks, so the prospect of playing in front of a home crowd, I can't wait."

Cummins added, “That series, one of the most exciting in recent times where fast bowling has really excited world cricket, and as a fast bowler I was super pumped to watch Jono [Johnson] and how he kept the whole morale of the side up at home in Australia against the Poms.

"That just shows the importance of having a really quick bowler and hopefully one of us three or four guys can do a similar job.

"I think we all show our aggression differently, you probably tailor it towards which batsman you're bowling to. That was one of the things along with the 150kph bouncers that really intimidated them, not just bowling.

“Hopefully that's not our only tool - I'm not quite quick-witted enough to come up with too many sledges, but hopefully we can show our aggression in other ways.

"Joe Root's probably their most in-form batsman so I think he'll be the prize wicket along with Alastair Cook, either of those two will be prime wickets."

The first Ashes Test will be played at the Gabba in Brisbane from 23-27 November.

Pat Cummins

Robert Kubica moves closer to fairy-tale return to F1

Polish driver Robert Kubica has moved closer to a fairy-tale return to Formula 1 after completing a “successful test” with Williams on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old, who racked up 273 career points and one race win in F1 from 2006 to 2010, has not featured in the sport since a rally accident in early 2011 left him with only partial movement in his right arm.

Kubica revived his racing career by turning to rallying from 2012 to 2016, while this year he has worked hard to make a return to the premier racing formula.

The Pole has tested with Renualt, but they have already completed their driver line-up for 2018 by signing Carlos Sainz to partner Nico Hulkenberg.

Kubica then turned his attention to Williams and tested with the team in a 2014-spec car at Silverstone on Wednesday.

He is set to have another test with the British outfit at the Hungaroring later this month, which is being billed as a shootout between the Pole and Paul di Resta for a possible 2018 seat.

Whether Kubica manages to earn a place back in F1 in 2018 remains to be seen, but his determination and spirit have earned him countless new fans around the world.

Robert Kubica

Holmes: Joshua’s personality makes him perfect world champion

Legendary American boxer Larry Holmes has stated that Anthony Joshua’s personality sets him apart as the world’s best heavyweight world champion.

Former WBC heavyweight champion Holmes, 67, is one of only five boxers to defeat his countryman Muhammad Ali, who passed away last year June.

Nicknamed Easton Assassin during his boxing career, Holmes is looking forward to British boxer Joshua's next fight which is against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev.

Joshua will be defending his WBA (Super), IBF, and IBO heavyweight titles at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales on 28 October 2017.

"I want to go see a fight. I want to see someone who is determined to fight, to be the heavyweight champion of the world," Holmes told Metro.co.uk

"The heavyweights don’t have that no more. But, now we’ve got a guy like Joshua and Tyson Fury, they should be carrying the torch that we left behind.

"Work hard at it and be a good guy. You can’t be a bad guy and do things people aren’t going to accept," he continued.

"His personality stands out. He doesn’t say no. You see a lot of people say no. Say they ain’t got time for autographs.

"You can’t do that. People pay money, you’ve got to sign the autograph, take the picture, you know? You’ve got to do a lot," he added.

"Like I do, I always carry a [signed] card [to give to fans]. That’s what’s needed to be a heavyweight world champion of the world.

"You have to time for people and Joshua has that."

Federer reveals real reason he took break from tennis

Swiss super star Roger Federer has disclosed the real reason why he took a break from tennis.

The 36-year-old, who is widely regarded as the greatest tennis player in history, says the reason behind his decision was because he started 2017 very well.

Federer won this year's Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami as he marked his return to the game he has dominated.

“Taking sort of nine weeks off in the clay court season wasn’t something actually I had planned," Roger Federer told Sky Sports.

"That only come by me winning the Australian, Indian Wells and Miami.

"That gave me that opportunity that I should maybe take it easy and save myself for the rest of the season," he added.

"So I hope that I will feel the benefit now while other guys are maybe getting a bit tired.

Federer, who is currently ranked world No. 2 in men's singles tennis, is looking forward to the upcoming tournaments.

"I’m actually still fresh in a sense because I didn’t play that much this season," he continued.

"I’m used to playing 70, 90, 100 matches a season, so this year that’s not the case.

"That’s why I feel refreshed for Shanghai, and also for Paris and London."

Roger Federer

Ross Cronje raring to go

The Springboks, desperate for a win over the Wallabies in Bloemfontein on Saturday, will take huge comfort in the fact that they have scrumhalf Ross Cronje back in action.

The 28-year-old is still green when it comes to Test rugby - he has just four international caps to his name having suffered two injuries and an illness in 2017 - but he offers a stability that the Boks have lacked when he has been on the sidelines.

It is a large responsibility for a man who has represented his country just four times, but Cronje appears level-headed enough to take it in his stride.

"I don't feel that there's pressure on me," Cronje told media in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

"This isn't an individual sport ... it's a team sport and I believe the guys around me will make my life a lot easier.

"I'm just excited to be back in the mix."

Justin Shonga signs for Pirates

New Orlando Pirates signing Justin Shonga hopes to follow in the footsteps of his Zambian compatriots who have impacted positively on the club in the past.

The 20-year-old Zambian international was confirmed as having signed for the Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.

"I am happy to be here," said Shonga. "This is the right move for my career and my ambitions.

"I would like to emulate other Zambian players who have done well at the club such as Perry Mutapa and Isaac Chansa.

Bay boy Ben Stokes selected in England squad

Ben Stokes was included in England's 16-man squad for the Ashes tour of Australia announced on Wednesday despite his recent arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.

Durham all-rounder Stokes was dropped for Wednesday's fourth one-day international against West Indies at The Oval after being arrested early on Monday in Bristol following England's win in the third ODI in the southwest city on Sunday.

The 26-year-old remains under investigation after being released without charge.

Ben Stokes ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Springboks have to improve says Franco Smith

Springboks backline coach Franco Smith says the manner in which the South Africans bounce back on Saturday against the Wallabies would demonstrate the character of the current team.

Speaking to media at the team hotel in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, Smith said a vital part of the Springboks' turnaround strategy this coming weekend will be to prioritise and protect possession against a quality Wallabies side in Bloemfontein.

Smith said an analysis of their heavy loss in Albany showed they have to be more accurate when it comes to holding onto the ball.

"To turn it around, we have to ensure we are a factor with ball in hand," said Smith.

"We have to re-establish our general shape on attack, and to give ourselves the best chances to score by looking after possession, and then we need to convert our opportunities with that try-scoring mentality."

Franco Smith

Nick Price eyeing glory at Presidents Cup

International team captain Nick Price believes his "hodgepodge" band have the talent, and the fire, needed to prevent the United States from winning a seventh straight Presidents Cup this week.

The biennial match play event between the USA and a team drawn from around the world tees off on Thursday at Liberty National Golf Club.

The United States have won nine of 11 prior editions of the event, with one tie and just one International victory, in 1998 in Melbourne.

"Even though we're a hodgepodge of a team from all around the world, we are all competitors," Price said of a team that this year draws from eight nations.

"We like to compete, and we don't like to get beaten."

Anderson fails at final hurdle

"This isn't the result I wanted but I'll keep fighting & I'll be back," the South African said after his first career final.

He also called Nadal "one of the greatest ambassadors in our sport," per ATP World Tour.

While this was the last major of the season, there are still several big events remaining in 2017, including the Shanghai Masters and Paris Masters leading up to the ATP Finals. Based on Nadal's recent play, he should be able to once again end the year as the No. 1 player in the world.






NZ referee for Wallabies v Boks in Perth

New Zealand’s Glen Jackson will referee Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test between Australia and South Africa in Perth (kick-off 12:05 SA time).

Jackson will be assisted by compatriot Paul Williams and Ireland’s John Lacey, while New Zealand’s Ben Skeen will be the television match official (TMO).

Meanwhile, Australia’s Angus Gardner will be in charge of the day's earlier match between New Zealand and Argentina in New Plymouth (09:35 SA time).

Gardner will be assisted by Wales’ Nigel Owens and England’s Matthew Carley, with Australia’s George Ayoub the TMO.

Glen Jackson

Franks out but Cane, Crotty back for All Blacks

New Zealand prop Owen Franks has been ruled out for the rest of the year with Achilles problems, but three other injured All Blacks have been cleared to face Argentina in New Plymouth on Saturday.

Sam Cane and Ryan Crotty, who were concussed in the second Rugby Championship Test against Australia, and prop Wyatt Crockett, who suffered a head knock in the first Australia Test, were all available, coach Steve Hansen said on Monday.

Kvitova fights back from knife attack to shine

Battling back after a home-invasion knife attack last December that jeopardised her career, two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova matched her top US Open performance on Sunday by reaching the quarter-finals.

The 13th-seeded Czech left-hander ousted Spanish third seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 to book a Tuesday last-eight date with US ninth seed and seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams.

Kvitova, who also reached the 2015 quarter-finals, is playing only her eighth event of the year after left hand surgery following a break-in assault last December that is still under investigation by Czech police.

Hamilton pulls three points clear of Vettel

Lewis Hamilton took over as leader of the drivers' world championship for the first time this year on Sunday when he claimed a lights-to-flag victory as Mercedes dominated the Italian Grand Prix.

The 32-year-old Briton, seeking his fourth world title, made a perfect start from his record 69th pole position to lead his Mercedes teammate Finn Valtteri Bottas home for his sixth win this year, his third at Monza and the 59th of his career.

Hamilton now leads four-time champion Sebastian Vettel by three points after the German finished third, 36 seconds adrift, in his Ferrari.