West Indies T20 vice-captain, Nicholas Pooran, has hailed the mammoth effort put in by lower-order batsmen Akeal Hosein and Romario Shepherd albeit coming in a losing effort against England on Sunday.

The English levelled the series after a narrow 1-run win, at the Kensington Oval, but early on in the West Indies run chase, after the visitors had scored 171, the result seemed a mere formality.

After a slow start from the hosts, tight bowling from England during the middle overs, spearheaded by Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, saw the West Indies tumble from 47 for 2 to 65 for 7 but a superb display of power hitting from Hosein and Shepherd, in the end, left the team just short of the target.

Shepherd blasted 44 from 28, a tally which included 5 sixes, while Hosein put in 44 from 16, including a flurry of boundaries to close out the match.

“Akeal and Shepherd have been working really hard on their batting.  We have a long list of hitters in our team and tonight we saw something special from Akeal and Shepherd, kudos go to them, they didn’t give up at all,” Pooran said.

“It just shows the strength in our team, tonight was their night, we lost the game by two runs but another night someone else will turn up to the party,” he added.

At the same time, Pooran admits that the team could have gotten a bit more contribution from the top order.  Pooran scored 24 himself and Darren Bravo 23, but both openers Brandon King (0) and Shai Hope (2) went for peanuts.

“I think Kingy (Brandon King) had a tough decision, but we have to accept those things and Hope was a bit unfortunate, the wrong decision maybe at that time.  That set us back in the powerplay but having said that (Reece) Topley bowled really well in the powerplay.”

 

England edged out West Indies by one run in an extraordinary second T20I at Kensington Oval, just about making up for their wretched start to the series.

There looked to be no doubt about the outcome when West Indies crumbled to 98-8 in pursuit of England's 171-8, but Akeal Hosein and Romario Shepherd both blazed innings of 44 not out to leave the home side just short on 170-8.

Hosein finished the match with three consecutive sixes off Saqib Mahmood, whose final over cost 28 runs as West Indies' chase ended in heroic failure.

After a nine-wicket battering on Saturday, England delivered a more competitive performance, with Reece Topley making a successful return to international cricket. For Topley, this was a first T20I appearance since facing South Africa in March 2016 and his brilliance had West Indies in immediate trouble at 6-2 in their reply to a solid England score.

After a relatively slow start, Jason Roy carted Fabian Allen for 24 runs from the 11th over as England began to pile on the runs. Roy top-scored with 45 before he was caught just inside the ropes at long-on by Kieron Polland off Shepherd, while Moeen Ali made a useful 31 and Chris Jordan flung the bat for 27 from 15 balls.

Topley then gave England a superb start with the ball, snaring Brandon King lbw with the second delivery of West Indies' reply before smartly running out Shai Hope.

Nicholas Pooran had been dropped twice before James Vince held an exemplary diving catch at deep midwicket to give Moeen the wicket of the dangerman for 24 in the eighth over, and West Indies imploded from there, or so it seemed.

Adil Rashid had Pollard and Darren Bravo pinned lbw, each time needing a review to get the decision, before Ali accounted for Jason Holder and Odean Smith in the 12th over, leaving the home side on 65-7.

Fabian Allen followed for 12 at the start of the 16th over, but then came the big flurry as West Indies, with two wickets remaining, got to the point where they needed 38 from the final two overs. Topley temporarily applied the brakes, but Mahmood was almost powerless to resist the big-hitting ninth-wicket pair, Shepherd making his runs from 28 balls and Hosein from just 16 deliveries.


A theme persists

West Indies have now alternated between victory and defeat in their last five men's T20I home matches. Their lower order gave England a headache in the closing overs, but recent history pointed to West Indies probably struggling to follow up their opening win. Indeed, the last time West Indies won their first two T20Is in a calendar year was in 2016, as they beat England and Sri Lanka in consecutive matches.

West Indies go down fighting

The hosts looked toast when they went seven down, but the lower order made England suffer horrendously, even as West Indies fell short of the victory target. The tourists' bowlers were seriously unsettled by the big hitting of Shepherd and Hosein, and there might be a lasting psychological impact caused by that pair, ahead of the third game in the five-match series on Wednesday.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler, Sir Andy Roberts, insists all of the team’s shortcomings at the crease should not be blamed on coaches at the senior team level, as overall, more work needs to be put into developing the region’s young players.

On the back of a historic shock loss to Ireland in their most recent international One Day International (ODI) series, the team’s performances have come under the microscope even more than usual, particularly as it relates to the patchy performance of the batting line-up.

Against Ireland, the batsmen seemed technically incapable of dealing with either the moist conditions on the pitch or the craft of the Irish bowlers.  The team’s struggles have led some to question the work of head coach Phil Simmons and the team’s batting coaches, but while admitting that more needed to be done by the coach, Roberts insists the team’s troubles run a lot deeper.

“For what it is now, I don’t think I would blame the coach alone because of the (low) quality of our players coming out of the region,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“We have to put some emphasis on the coaches from our lower levels coming up because that is where you learn the skills of batting because most focus today is on batting.  I read where the captain said that the West Indies has a batting problem but we’ve been having a batting problem for years… we want to blame others at the top when this is a problem that comes from the lower level.”

 

Kingston College dethroned rivals Jamaica College to claim their 16th Manning Cup title.

After playing out a 1-1 draw in regulation, Kingston College held their nerve to secure a 5-4 penalty shootout victory in the game at Stadium East.

Kingston College took the lead in the 29th minute through talisman Christopher Pearson who gave them the advantage with a calm finish.

Jamaica College got their equalizer with a 43rd-minute free-kick from captain Duncan McKenzie.

The game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes which sent the game to penalties.

Kingston College captain Jemone Barclay stepped up to slot home KC’s first penalty.

Romaine Blake followed suit for Jamaica College to make it 1-1.

Carrick Stewart of KC and Michael Graham of JC then both scored to make it 2-2.

KC’s goal-scorer on the day, Christopher Pearson, then stepped up to kick the third penalty but was the first casualty as his penalty was saved by JC goalkeeper Denzel Smith.

Captain Duncan McKenzie then scored for JC to make it 3-2 in the shootout.

KC’s Romario Campbell, who was put on at the end of added time specifically take a penalty, scored to make it 3-3.

JC’s Giovanni Mitto then stepped up to try and make it 4-3 but blasted his penalty over the bar.

Louis Watson then scored to make it 4-3 to KC.

JC’s Tarick Ximines scored to make it 4-4 and take it to sudden death before KC’s Demario McCarthy scored for KC to make it 5-4.

The match was decided when Jaheem Fraser’s penalty was saved by KC goalkeeper David Martin.

KC secured their 16th hold on the Manning Cup and a date with daCosta Cup champions Garvey Maceo in the Olivier Shield.

West Indies secured a comprehensive nine-wicket win over England in the first of their five-match T20 International series at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Saturday.

 After winning the toss and choosing to bowl first because of, according to captain Kieron Pollard, the presence of some ‘juice’ in the pitch, the West Indies produced one of their best bowling displays in a long time to wreck the England batting line-up for just 103 in 19.4 overs.

Jason Holder took his best bowling figures in T20s with 4-7 off 3.4 overs and he was supported by Sheldon Cottrell who claimed 2-30 from his four overs.

Chris Jordan top-scored for the English with 28 and Adil Rashid added 22.

The West Indies looked comfortable in their chase, only losing one wicket before getting to the target in just 17.1 overs.

Brandon King got his second T20I 50, finishing not out on 55, while Nicholas Pooran finished not out on 20.

The second match of the series takes place tomorrow at the same venue and time.

 

St. Catherine High secured back-to-back Walker Cup titles with a 1-0 win over Kingston Technical in the final at Stadium East on Saturday.

Despite what the final score suggests, it was a dominant display from St. Catherine who came close to opening the scoring in the 5th minute when Dwight Gentles hit the crossbar with a left-footed strike.

They once again found themselves unlucky when a right-footed shot from Jevin Parkinson cannoned off the left upright in the 57th minute.  Their persistence was eventually rewarded when they took the lead with the only goal of the game, a well-placed 89th-minute header from substitute Dillion Richards.

 

Sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah and sprint hurdler, Hansle Parchment, were named Jamaica’s National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year for 2021, at the RJRGleaner Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards ceremony held on Friday night.

The event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thompson-Herah had a phenomenal 2021 season, which included her winning the 100m at the Diamond League final in Zurich and running 10.54 at the Eugene Diamond League to become the fastest woman alive and second fastest woman of all time.

Her greatest achievement in 2021, however, would have to be when she became the first woman in history to win the sprint double at consecutive Olympic Games.

Backing up her exploits from Rio in 2016, Thompson-Herah produced times of 10.61 and 21.53 to win gold medals in both the 100m and 200m at the Tokyo Olympics, in addition to being a part of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team, alongside Briana Williams, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who finished as runner-up for the Sportswoman of the Year award, and Shericka Jackson, that won the gold medal in a national record 41.02.

Parchment shocked the world to win gold in the Men’s 110m Hurdles in Tokyo, nine years after his bronze medal performance at the London Olympics.

He ran 13.04 to win gold in Tokyo ahead of prohibitive favourite Grant Holloway of the USA.

The past student of Morant Bay High and Kingston College was also third at the Diamond League final in Zurich.

His teammate Ronald Levy, who was the runner-up for the Sportsman of the Year Award, took home the bronze medal in Tokyo.

Other major awards given out on the day include the Chairman's Award to veteran journalist Lance Whittaker; the People's Choice "Performance of the Year Award" to Fraser McConnell; the VM Group Y.O.U.T.H Award to sprinter Tina Clayton and the Gleaner Newspaper Iconic Award to Michael Holding.

Former Ireland batsman turned commentator, Nyle O’Brien, believes the West Indies batsmen have become caught-up playing an old fashion type of cricket, which has little chance of success in the modern game.

The Caribbean side was beaten by Ireland, in a One Day International series, for the first time in their history earlier this week.  The team had a poor showing all-around but as has become custom in recent times their substandard display at the crease was noticeable.

The team struggled to come to grips with not just the surface, but also the Irish bowlers, particularly Andy McBrine who took 10 wickets over the three games. O’Brien believes a major part of the issues at the crease stems from the batting unit’s outdated philosophy of run-scoring.

“The West Indies, they’re playing a very old school type of cricket.  They just stand around in the crease and either block or try to hit the ball for four or six.  Unfortunately, when you are playing international cricket that doesn’t happen very often.  Very rarely do you see a West Indies batter come down the pitch, using their feet, knock it to long-on, or long-off for singles, rotate the strike, or manipulate the field.  We saw very few sweeps, when Shamarh Brooks did play a sweep he was out lbw,” O'Brien told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“When you’re a batter if you’re going to stand in the crease waiting for a bad ball, this is international cricket, the bad balls don’t come very often…It’s a technical thing, it’s a tactical thing…it’s something for West Indies cricket, it’s been a pattern for many, many years they don’t play spin very well.  They really on their brute force and teams are getting more clever with how to go about that.”

 

 

Edwin Allen High School won their first trophy in schoolboy football after defeating St. Elizabeth Technical 3-2 in an enthralling final at STETHS on Friday.

Negus Daley followed up his goal in the semi-final against Frome Technical with the opener for the home side in the 16th minute.

Edwin Allen got the equalizer in the 47th minute through a right-footed strike from close range by Alwayne Bryan.

Jahiem Harris scored the first of his two goals on the day to give Edwin Allen a 2-1 lead in the 63rd minute.

Substitute Davin Wright got the goal that he thought would send the game to penalties for STETHS with a header in the 85th minute to make it 2-2 before Harris got his second of the game, a brilliant left-footed strike from outside the box to give Edwin Allen a 3-2 lead and secure their maiden Ben Francis Cup title.

 

West Indies white ball captain, Kieron Pollard, says the team will be starting from scratch in their Betway T20 International series against England beginning on Saturday in Barbados.

The last outing for the regional team in the format came in January with a 3-0 defeat in an away series against Pakistan.

The majority of that squad will get another opportunity to represent the region and Pollard, speaking in a pre-match press conference today, says the team is eager to get started.

“For us, it’s like starting from scratch. These guys got a run out in Pakistan in the three T20Is and I’m sure they’re looking to build on their own personal performances and that, in extension, will help us get victories,” he said.

If the West Indies are to come out victorious in the five-match series, Pollard says execution in all three phases of the game will be critical.

“We have to execute in all three facets of the game. It’s been mentioned over the last week or so, batting has definitely been a problem for us but a good thing about it is that we have some new faces in the group again. Guys are looking to make a name for themselves on the international scene and so we just need to be able to do the basics and play according to the situation of the game,” Pollard added.

With the team coming off a disappointing ODI series loss to Ireland, Pollard says it will be important to leave that in the past and focus on what they can do going forward.

“It’s a new series. We can’t take the disappointment from that series into this one. There’s a different sort of mindset and approach that is needed to come into this series,” Pollard said.

The first match of the T20I series between the West Indies and England bowls off at the Kensington Oval in Barbados at 3:00 pm Jamaica time.

 

 

 

 

West Indies fast-bowling allrounder Odean Smith is taking his ascension to the West Indies limited overs team in stride.

Speaking to the media, on Thursday, before the team’s five-match Betway T20 International series against England, Smith said he has ambitions to be a fixture in the West Indies white-ball setup for years to come.

“Definitely. I think I have a long way to go and a lot of work to do but it’s all a learning process. Cricket is a learning process. I just have to work on my game along the way and I think I’ll definitely get to where I want to be when the time comes,” he said.

One of the biggest talking points across the regional cricket landscape over the last few years has been player fitness and Smith said he is fully aware that if he wants to achieve his goals, he must prioritize taking care of his body.

“I think it’s very important. If you’re not taking care of your body then you probably won’t have far to go so, I work a lot on my fitness. Cricket is a lot of running so I tend to do a lot of that. I don’t really go to the gym to do a lot of strength work. Running and eating well are the things I take pride in,” Smith added.

A member of the triumphant 2016 West Indies Under-19 team, Smith also stated that it is an ongoing process because of a busy schedule.

“I’m not where I want to be right now because, as I said, it’s an ongoing process and there’s a lot of cricket going on so it’s hard to get anything done during the season. When I get a little time, I’ll focus on distance running and my eating habits,” he added.

Smith has, so far, played 3 ODIs and 5 T20Is for the West Indies.

With the team coming off a disappointing ODI series defeat to Ireland and England coming off a 4-0 defeat to Australia in the Ashes, Smith believes the upcoming series will be an important one for both teams.

“Both teams have an equal opportunity to go out there and win this series. England has a very good team and we also have a very good team as we’re trying to rebuild. We have a few new guys so the coaches are trying to figure out roles for everyone. This series is going to be very important for both teams going forward,” he added.

The series between the West Indies and England gets underway at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Saturday.

 

 

Life under interim manager Paul Hall got off to a shaky for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz following a 3-0 loss to Peru at the Estadio Nacional, in Peru, on Thursday.

Following a scoreless, even first half the game burst into life when Lewis Iberico outjumped the Jamaican backline to head past goalkeeper Amal Knight in the 48th minute.  Another bit of poor defending saw Alex Valera intercept a ball played across the area to double the host’s lead in the 66th minute.

Given too much room just outside the area, Yosimar Yotune finished things off with a long-range blast, which saw a diving Knight come up empty-handed.  The mostly locally-based team put together enterprising play at times but seemed to lack ideas and accuracy in the final third of the pitch.

The full squad will be back in action next Thursday when they host Mexico in the World Cup qualifiers.  Three days later the team will head to Panama, before hosting Costa Rica at home.  Hall replaced Theodore Whitmore as head coach of the team last month, following a string of disappointing results.  

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts has expressed disappointment with the government’s decision not to allow fans to attend the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Mexico, and possibly Costa Rica.

The Reggae Boyz will return to action against El Tri on the 27th of January, in a crucial World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium.  The team has played the majority of home matches so far with empty stands, impacted by the government’s Covid-19 management protocols.

The exception came against the United States in the last round, where up to 5,000 vaccinated fans were allowed to attend the fixture.  The JFF was hoping to have the same number of fans, if not more, but the recent increase of coronavirus cases, however, meant they had other ideas.

“Covid will be here if not forever, for a very long time so you just have to put things in place and figure out how best you are going to navigate this pandemic,” Ricketts said.

“We must live with Covid, so we must adhere to the protocols and be as careful as we can, but we must also understand that life goes on.”

The Reggae Boyz have been the only team in the octagonal round that has been affected so severely by coronavirus restrictions, with many other teams sticking to the practice of limiting the numbers of fans allowed at the venues.

Jamaica, however, has the lowest vaccination rate of all the countries participating in the qualifiers.

 

  

Legendary West Indies batsman, Viv Richards, has once again decried what he believes to be the role of poorly prepared playing surfaces in the underdevelopment of both the region’s batsman and bowlers.

The regional team is in the grips of a particularly bad spell, after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Ireland in the most recent One Day International series.  The series was the first the Irish have won again them and sent shockwaves around the region.

The team’s batsmen were in particularly woeful form with only Sharmarh Brooks, Shai Hope, and Odean Smith managing to average over 30.  Albeit on a pitch that held moisture early on, and losing the toss three times, the West Indies only managed to make over 250 runs in the first match, well short of the total typically required for a good innings in modern ODI cricket.

With many of the batsmen continuing to look out of sorts, despite often putting in strong spells in regional cricket, Richards believes substandard pitches are partially to blame for the situation.

“I don’t think there is enough preparation being put into wickets, and wickets play a huge part because sometimes you get some individuals who would be selected because of some good performances on some dodgy tracks,” Richards told Antigua’s Good Morning Jojo Radio program.

“So, when you get to the bigger picture or they take a step up, then you find individuals are found wanting because these wickets are rather inferior on either sides of the coin, whether it’s batting or bowling. We need to pay a little more attention to having proper wickets that can be quite competitive for bat and ball,” he added.

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