AB de villiers has given up South Africa’s Test captaincy with immediate effect and has backed team-mate Faf du Plessis to take over the role on a permanent basis.”Following the squad’s performances in Australia, it is in the greater interests of the team that Faf should be confirmed as Test captain,” de Villiers said.”I have missed two series and I am still in doubt for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka. The interests of the team must always outweigh the interests of any individual, including me,” he added.Moreover, the Proteas team manager also confirmed that an injured de Villiers will be unavailable for the Test series against Sri Lanka starting December 26 but will try to return for the one-dayers at the end of January.Subsequently, Cricket South Africa have also confirmed du Plessis to take over from de Villiers. “It is no surprise that the CSA Board has confirmed Faf du Plessis as the Test captain to take over from AB,” CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.”AB has always carried himself as a true team player and his decision to step down confirms his attitude to put the team first,” Lorgat also said.De Villiers took over the Test captaincy in January after Hashim Amla stepped down and led South Africa in two Tests against England. However, he had to miss the tours of New Zealand and Australia due to an elbow injury.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bryce Harper swag is going, going and just about gone before he takes a swing in Philadelphia.Phillies merchandise stores and ticket vendors are certainly getting their hefty cuts thanks to Harper hype.Harper has Phillies fans spending stupid money on his No. 3 jerseys, tees and caps, and the franchise has set records with ticket sales headed into the March 28 opener.Billboards welcoming Harper to Philly line the interstate headed to Citizens Bank Park — and it’s Harper driving retail traffic at a record clip.No. 3 gear is No. 1 in Philadelphia.“I can’t wait to be a part of the Phillies for a long period of time,” Harper said. “I’ve grown to love playing in Philly, love playing in Citizens Bank Park.”When Harper looks in the stands on opening day — and over the remainder of his record $330 million, 13-year deal — he’ll see thousands of fans wearing his jersey.Fanatics said Harper’s No. 3 Phillies jersey was the all-time best-seller for any athlete during the first 24 hours of launch. Aramark, which manages the Phillies New Era Team Store at the ballpark, said “interest is high and sales are brisk” and new waves of merchandise arrive daily. MLBShop.com offered free shipping on all U.S. orders over $39 — a walk in the park for fans buying the $119 Harper batting practice waffle pullover hoodie or $44.99 for the Harper toddler official cool base player jersey.How’s this for a sign that Harper Mania has come out of left field? A notice was posted on the team store this week the store ran out of letters and did “not have any more R’s for Adult Home and Road Jerseys .”The die-hards haven’t balked at the $145 jerseys and $35 T-shirts and shoppers are leaving with the bags full. One fan even sold the first Topps Bryce Harper Phillies baseball card for $199.99 on eBay — no stale stick of gum included.Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper walks to the batting cages during baseball workouts Sunday, March 3, 2019, at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Fla. (Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)Fanatics, an online retailer, declined to reveal sales numbers but said New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was the top seller last season and Harper, wearing No. 34 for the Washington Nationals, was 12th.Harper already is a hit on the field, with a home run Wednesday in his first scrimmage with the Phillies.Harper could make a case for MVP to stand for Most Valuable Purchase.The Phillies once had the toughest ticket in baseball shortly after Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004 and the franchise set an NL record with 257 straight sellouts from 2009-12. The Phillies drew 3,777,322 fans in 2010 but failed to reach 2 million in any season from 2015-17. They were in the playoff hunt until August last season and drew 2,158,124 fans, though tickets flooded the secondary market at less than $10 a pop.The Bryce Boon has formed old-school lines at the ticket window.John Weber, the Phillies senior vice president of ticket operations, said the team sold 100,000 tickets last Thursday when the team signed Harper and another 80,000 tickets the next day. The Phillies sold 50,000 tickets over Saturday and Sunday and 45,000 more on Monday. Philadelphia sells face value tickets ranging from $20 to $140 — but opening day tickets started at $103 (before fees) Wednesday on StubHub.Weber said full season ticket equivalents have jumped from 9,500 to 12,300, thanks to the additions of Harper and four other All-Stars.“You hope you have a price that is fair for the ups and downs as best you can,” Weber said. “It’s not perfect. But we’re not raising prices $20, $30 dollars. Let’s get our fans here and let them enjoy the game as we move forward.”Marsha Zisling, of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, was a season ticket holder during the World Series seasons and gave them up once the team bottomed out in the NL East. Zisling held a shopping bag with a Harper authentic jersey as she stood in line this week at the ticket window and browsed potential dates. She even tuned into to a local sports radio station on the way to the park because she knew Harper would be a guest on the show.“It’s just been an exciting time to finally have enthusiasm about the Phillies,” she said. “He was just on the radio, and I swear I started to cry listening to him. He’s just so genuine and really sincere about coming here and making the city his home.”Nancy Hatfield, of Philadelphia, said Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen was actually her favorite player but she had to splurge on Harper merchandise. She held a couple of Harper T-shirts on her stop at the stadium to pick up her tickets. Hatfield has been a season ticket holder since 1996 and said Harper has energized the fanbase perhaps even more than the Ryan Howard-Chase Utley-Jimmy Rollins glory years.“We’ve been waiting for something good to happen,” she said. “Now we just hope he doesn’t get injured. That’s the Philly Curse. It’s been sad, all the empty seats the last couple of years.”Peggy McBreen makes a Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper baseball shirt at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Monday, March 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)Not everyone is on board with Harper’s arrival.Let’s check in with Elias, the guitar-strumming WWE bad guy, of course, and not the source of baseball statistics and historical data.“But you really want to know how I know I’m in Philly,” he sang at Monday’s WWE show . “Because the children here have no future no matter how hard they try. But you really want to know how I know I’m in Philly. Because Bryce Harper told me this was where his career would go to die.”The fans erupted in boos toward anyone who would dare slander their newest All-Star. Many fans were already wearing No. 3 T-shirts.But Phillies fans may want to slow the spending spree and save some of their cash for a rainy day.After all, Mike Trout is a free agent in two years .By: DAN GELSTON AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shares
Staples, the back-to-school specialty store, is teaming up with Jessica Alba to help students succeed in the upcoming school year with a scholarship sweepstakes and in-kind donations to support classroom projects on DonorsChoose.org.Together, Staples and Jessica Alba hope to spark the imaginations of the next generation of big thinkers.Staples plays a proud role in millions of teachers’ and families’ back-to-school shopping rituals providing the expertise they need to kick-start their year of educational discovery. As a busy mom of three, Jessica relies on Staples and its in-store specialists to help find the right tools for her kids’ backpacks and school supplies, and she values the quality time spent with her children during their annual back-to-school shopping trip.“What I love about Staples is they have incredibly accommodating in-store specialists that helps parents get their kids ready for the school year,” says Jessica. “Back-to-school is a special time for my kids because it signifies a milestone in their lives. It makes it even more meaningful that Staples is partnering with DonorsChoose.org because my children get to experience an important lesson in giving back while we shop for their back to school essentials.”“Jessica Alba represents the parents who are visiting our stores in search of the supplies their students need to succeed. Her influential voice will propel our charitable efforts and help us create a greater impact in the classroom,” says Steve Matyas, Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Retail, Staples. “Teachers play a crucial role in motivating and inspiring the next generation and as the back-to-school specialty store, Staples is committed to supporting teachers and students through DonorsChoose.org and the Staples for Students scholarship sweepstakes.”“Staples has been a generous and valued partner for five years, and we’re so thankful for the brand’s continued support of our mission, which helps bring learning to life for thousands of teachers and students in classrooms nationwide,” said Charles Best, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of DonorsChoose.org. “We also appreciate Jessica Alba’s support, and thank her for calling on the public to help classrooms in need across the country.”Shoppers who make a purchase of $25 or more can enter the Staples for Students scholarship sweepstakes to win one of five education prizes: a $50,000 grand prize scholarship presented by Jessica Alba, or one of four $25,000 first-prize scholarships.This year, shoppers can donate to classroom projects in their local areas at Staples stores, and Staples will match donations raised during the back-to-school season.Together, Staples and DonorsChoose.org have funded more than 700,000 classroom projects for teachers and positively affected more than 18 million students across the country.Parents, students and teachers can visit local Staples stores or Staples.com to support a classroom project or enter to win the scholarship today.