Evin Lewis smashed 71 off 35 balls as West Indies cruised to an eight-wicket win over South Africa in the first Twenty20 international in Grenada on Saturday.

Rassie van der Dussen (56 not out) and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock (37) helped the Proteas post a modest 160-6 as Fabian Allen (2-18) finished the pick of the West Indies bowlers.

A blistering assault from Lewis laid the foundations for the win as he and opening partner Andre Fletcher (30) put on 85 for the first wicket in seven overs.

Tabraiz Shamsi (1-27) claimed the wicket of Lewis, but Chris Gayle (32 not out) and skipper Andre Russell (23 not out) saw West Indies home with 30 balls to spare.

South Africa thrashed West Indies in their recent two-Test series, but these five T20 matches look set to go the other way based on this one-sided game.

West Indies, the reigning T20 world champions, won the toss and elected to bowl first at the National Stadium in St George's and kept South Africa's batsmen in check.

Left-arm spinner Allen bowled particularly impressively as he accounted for the wickets of Reeza Hendricks (17) and skipper Temba Bavuma (22) before veteran Dwayne Bravo (2-30) closed out the innings.

South Africa's attack were no match for the brutal hitting of the West Indies batsmen with Lewis, who shrugged off a blow to the midriff, reaching his half-century off 22 balls.

Lewis had whacked seven sixes and four fours by the time he sliced Shamsi's left-arm wrist spin into the hands of David Miller at long-off, but Gayle and Russell continued to pepper the boundary in a convincing win.

 

Lewis gives flashes of batting guru

With West Indies team-mate Gayle as his batting mentor, it should be no surprise the left-handed Lewis deals in maximums, and this innings was reminiscent of the six-machine at his pomp.

Too short from Ngidi

South Africa paceman Lungi Ngidi bowled with aggression but should have used his head. He bowled way too much short stuff, was promptly dispatched to the stands, and finished with 0-46 from three overs.

 Ludlow Bernard has managed to keep the Stars of the East mentally focused ahead of the long-awaited start of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL).

Bernard will be keeping the same squad from last season. The Stars of the East last met and trained as a team in February.  As a result, the coach is concerned that the inactivity of the league and inconsistent training sessions might see a decline in his players' fitness levels.

The management team of the club admits they are cautious and concerned about possible injuries that may be sustained given the brief period allotted to prepare for the start of the league.

What seems to be the general modus operandi for all clubs, during the wake of the pandemic, Bernard's men were given training drills to complete independently.

The four-time champions are, however, currently facing financial hiccups.

"This is our primary line of activity, in the event that you are not being competitive, then your ability to earn, the ability for the players to be compensated on a monthly basis has certainly been hindered," Bernard said.

Even though the players have been badly impacted psychologically and physiologically have been hampered by over a year of inactivity, once news broke that the league would officially begin in June, Bernard is happy to report his players were delighted.

 

Head coach of Arnett Gardens, Alex Thomas, is looking forward to a productive season when the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) kicks off this weekend.

Arnett resorted to training in small groups when Covid-19 unexpectedly abrupted the sporting arena after Minister of Sports Olivia Grange had barred the Premier league teams from training as a unit.

Thomas revealed the club has since taken a different approach to their squad line-up, shedding some weight, and adding younger players to the team.

The club has released Ricardo Holder and Jamar Martin among a few veteran players that were with the team last season.

Thomas believes that the changes will bring positive results and is pleased with what he has seen so far.  Despite having had a short period to prepare for the season, he is not concerned about it impacting the quality of the team’s performance. 

"We have a nice squad put together and they have come a long way and we are shaping up well for it. We are ready for the 26th," Thomas said.

According to Thomas, the young players are keen to prove their abilities and will be guided by more experienced players in the team.

He and the rest of the management team are happy that there are no injuries within the squad for far and hope it will remain that way.

Thomas has lauded the club's involvement and interaction with the players during the pandemic and the uncertainty that came with it.

Social media engagement and zoom meetings were some of the club's avenues to communicate with the players.

"It worked quite well for us, we couldn't come together most of the time, but we kept the squad upbeat within the group, we have a WhatsApp group that we keep in touch with," said Thomas.

The five-time champions are confident in their chances of winning the league and will be pushing themselves to reign as titleholders once again.

"Our chance of winning this competition out of ten, I would say eight, but we are going to push them as far as possible. Our objective is to reach the top six and from the top six we take it from there. We will do very well for ourselves," Thomas ended.

The league format has been altered from the usual three rounds to just one. Instead, teams will play each other in a round-robin. Therefore, the top six teams will have a chance to book a spot in the finals, and the bottom six will battle each other in another round-robin format; this will determine their respective placings on the league table.

Team Manager of Dunbeholden FC Paul Christie has no time for excuses, despite the pandemic affecting their usual way of getting business done.

Dunbeholden FC has been adapting to the circumstances and creating a pathway to a successful campaign for the upcoming season.  Christie reports that the club's coaching staff are effectively getting the players ready for competition and the title is theirs to take.

"At Dunbeholden FC, right now we are in it to win it. We are trying our best to prepare like any other team, and we give ourselves a chance against any opponent,” Christie said.

The Spanish Town-based club is looking to secure their first-ever league title and wants to do so in style.

Christie admitted to SportsMax.tv that his players had some psychological impact due to the pandemic. However, he said the management team addressed those issues with professional intervention because the team needs to be focused mentally on winning the title.

"We have persons who we had to engage for psychological evaluation, based on the severity of what was happening to them.  However, I know that our opponents will not empathize with that, on the game day they will still have to show and give the best account of themselves and that is what we are assiduously working on at this time,” he added.

In a bid to strengthen their overall depth, Dunbeholden FC has added several quality players to their armoury. Among the new signings are former Portmore United striker Rondee Smith, defender Roberto Johnson, Damion Hyatt from Arnett Gardens, Diego Gordon, Kiethy Simpson, and Mark Miller from Waterhouse FC.

Christie believes Smith will be lethal up front and is expected to be a nightmare for their rivals.  Johnson should be sturdy in defence, organising and commanding their backline. Miller and Simpson will be mobilising the midfield, threading, and splitting defences with creative passes, putting their strikers on the end of open goal-scoring opportunities.

The new signings expect to give Dunbeholden FC a competitive edge with a degree of experience and talent, says Christie.

Dunbeholden FC had also signed the late Tremaine Stewart in September of last year. However, the 33-year-old forward did not feature for the club because of the cancelled season due to the pandemic.

Dunbeholden FC had felt Stewart's presence instantly when he joined, and Christie was confident that with Stewart’s talent and energy, Dunbeholden would be sure winners of the competition.

According to the manager, the team was in a sombre mood but has since redirected their emotions towards winning the league title in honour of Stewart.

"We are trying to flip it around…although we are having a sad and a mournful time, we are trying to use it as motivation and try to just do this one for our fallen brother."

Mount Pleasant manager David Galloway has picked the trio of Prince Christie, Ricardo Gaynor, and Kevin Wilson to stun the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) this season.

In an interview with SportsMax.tv, Galloway lauded the talent that has progressed from the academy and believes the young players are going to be brilliant and surprise many in our local sporting arena.

Galloway insists Mount Pleasant is currently enjoying their football in training, and the passion and quality of play he is seeing should put his team in the top two come the end of the season.

The Saint Ann-based will not be threatened or intimidated by any opponent in the league. However, Galloway also said that his players and technical team are not complacent and are taking every opponent seriously.

"Football is a highly competitive sport, doesn't matter who you play against it's the day that counts, and at the end of the day it is the score that counts. You can go out there with your best team and still not come out on top. We try our best to just stay focused, maintain that discipline and we try to prepare players mentally and physically to get them out there and do the job and finish according to our dream plan."

He admitted that the ending prematurely last season was a disappointment.  The team was fourth and he believes their in-form squad would have been serious title contenders.

Since Mount Pleasant has resumed training, players are showing signs of 'top form' once again and Gallaway says he is thankful and elated for the team's consistency. 

Mount Pleasant's first bridge to cross is against five-time champions Tivoli Gardens FC on Sunday, at 8:30 am at the University of the West Indies Bowl, Mona campus.

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, insists he will not be overly perturbed by the din surrounding the selection of some senior players for the team, as a debate would have surrounded the squad regardless.

The selection of veteran players Chris Gayle, Fidel Edwards, and Dwayne Bravo has ruffled the feathers of some fans who insist the team should be more focused on developing younger players. 

With the T20 World Cup coming up, however, the position of the panel of selectors, and articulated by Pollard himself, has been to leave the door open for any player that can meaningfully contribute to the team winning a third title.

Gayle (41), Edwards (39), and Bravo (37) have been called up to the team ahead of a series of T20 contests, ahead of the global tournament, which began with a series against Sri Lanka back in February.

“When you look at if from a logical perspective if you go with youngsters there will still be noise.  No matter what you do there will be noise,” Pollard told members of the media, in addressing the issue.

“So, I think it’s what’s best for us, what’s best for us, and what we think is best for us going into a tournament like that.  If those guys can be assets for us, then why not get the opportunity to use the little bit of experience or a little bit of cricket that they may have left in them," he added.

“It’s a situation that we are looking to pick the best team.  So, these guys they play around the world, and we get the opportunity to see them play around the world and we wonder why they are not playing for us but then when we select them, we ask the questions, why are we selecting them?  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”   

When it comes to winning races that count, there is hardly a better sprinter than Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

In eight global finals, since she won her first Olympic title in Beijing in 2008, the Pocket Rocket has won six. She demonstrated that mettle once again on Friday night when she won her fourth national 100m title against a strong field on day two of the Jamaica National Championships in Kingston.

The two-time Olympic champion stormed to victory in 10.71, the second-fastest time run by anyone this year, only bettered by her world-leading 10.63 run at the same venue on June 5.

Using her explosive start to her advantage, she got away from the field that was unable to close as she flashed across the finish line.

Second was Shericka Jackson, who surprised everyone when she clocked a big lifetime best of 10.77 to win her semi-final just over an hour before. She ran an equally impressive 10.82 holding off the 2016 double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, who was third in 10.84.

Briana Williams, who at 19, was the youngest in the field, finished fourth in 11.01, which earned her a place at her first Olympic Games.

There was also another surprise in the men’s 100m as Tyquendo Tracey ran 10.00 flat to edge Yohan Blake 10.01 and an ecstatic Oblique Seville, who ran a personal best 10.04 for third and booked a spot to his very first Olympic Games.

There were two runaway winners in the 400m hurdles but the more impressive of the two was Jaheel Hyde who clocked a lifetime best 48.18 to win and also exceed the Olympic standard of 48.90, which means he is also going to Tokyo this summer.

He punched the air as he crossed the line and saw the flash time on the electronic clock on the infield.

Second went to Sean Rowe who stopped the clock at 49.60, just ahead of Kemar Mowatt, who was third in 49.61.

Janieve Russell ran away with the women’s race to win in a season-best 54.07.

Ronda Whyte was second in 54.94 while Leah Nugent was third in 54.98 in a close finish that saw Shian Salmon finish fourth in 55.00.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) Director of Cricket, Jimmy Adams, has questioned whether West Indies and regional cricketers are aggressive enough with their approach to honing their craft and overall self-improvement.

The issue comes to the for on the back of a tough, lopsided loss to South Africa, where the batsmen, in particular, struggled to deal with the guile and pace of the opposition bowlers.  Many, however, will point to the team’s proclivity to succumb to batting collapses as a chronic illness.  From his perspective, the situation has left the former batsman to ponder about the amount of work and investment being put in by individual players behind the scenes.

He, however, admitted that the overall issue was a complicated and difficult one to assess.

“Is it that heading into a Test series we aren’t preparing well enough technically and mentally, or is it that when players have their own downtime they are not targeting key areas that are critical,” Adams asked on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Any successful player, at the international level or the elite level, who stays there for any period of time, would have spent all of that time doing remedial work because the cycle never ends,” he added.

“If you get exposed, you cover that gap.  When you think you have that gap covered you get exposed somewhere else.  You talk to any of them, the Laras the Ricky Pontings, the Sachins, they can confirm that they spent all their careers doing remedial work.”

Against the South Africans, the Windies batsmen were floored for 97 in the first innings and never managed to make 200 in any of the four innings against the visitors.

 “I would throw it out for consideration, do we have that mindset amongst our quote and quote elite players? I’m not talking about just international players; I’m talking about first-class cricketers as well.  Are they attacking themselves enough?

“Not just batsmen, bowlers, and wicketkeepers as well.  The one thing that you can guarantee at the international level is you will know where your weaknesses are.  If you are deaf and blind, then the rest of the world will know.  The critical question is am I as a player embracing that? I am taking ownership in a way that as soon as I have my spare time I am attacking myself, I am getting at my weaknesses because the opposition already has it.”

 

 

Andre Russell has been named among a 13-man squad for the first and second CG Insurance T20 Internationals (T20I) against South Africa starting on Saturday (June 26) in Grenada.

The matches will be played at the Grenada National Stadium on Saturday and Sunday. The first ball daily is 2 pm (1 pm Jamaica Time).

Russell is a two-time T20 World Cup winner, having been a member of the squad which won the titles in 2012 and 2016. He has played 49 T20Is for the West Indies and his last appearance was against Sri Lanka in Pallekele in March last year.

“Andre Russell will add that ‘X’ factor to the team. He is an impact player with both bat and ball and lends greater depth in both departments," said Chief Selector Roger Harper while explaining the reason for the Jamaican's recall.

"The aim is to build on the performance against Sri Lanka earlier this year, to build confidence while determining our best squad and team as we run into the ICC T20 World Cup.”

 Trinidad's Kieron Pollard will lead the squad and have compatriot Nicholas Pooran as his vice-captain. The other members of the squad include Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons and Kevin Sinclair.

Fully vaccinated fans will be able to buy tickets for the game from the stadium box office and ticket booths on presentation of their vaccination documentation and their national ID, with tickets available at EC$50 per match.

Fans in the Caribbean can watch live on Flow Sports or via the Flow Sports app. Live radio commentary is available on the Windies Cricket YouTube channel and on a number of local radio stations across the Caribbean. Fans also follow live ball by ball scoring in the www.windiescricket.com live match centre, featuring the new live match blog.

Stafanie Taylor and Reneice Boyce will lead the West Indies Senior Women’s team and the ‘A’ team, respectively for the three CG Insurance T20Is against Pakistan Women from June 30 to July 3, with the West Indies Women’s ‘A’ Team also playing their historic, first-ever, three-match T20I Series on the same dates.

South Africa welcome back white-ball captain Temba Bavuma but will have to do without Dwaine Pretorius for the five-match T20I series against West Indies after the all-rounder tested positive for coronavirus.

Following their series-sealing Test win in St Lucia, South Africa's squad travelled to Grenada, where all five of the matches will be played at St George's over the course of eight days starting on Saturday.

The remaining players have returned negative COVID-19 tests, but Pretorius is ruled out of the compacted schedule under recovery and return to play protocols despite being asymptomatic.

Wiaan Mulder – who took a remarkable 3-1 in four overs in the first innings of the second Test - will take Pretorius' place in the travelling party, having been retained from the red ball squad, and will hope to add to his solitary T20I cap. Similarly, left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks had been due to return home after the Tests but has stayed on.

Bavuma missed South Africa's dominant 2-0 Test series triumph, dislocating a finger after being initially laid low with a hip complaint, but the batsman is expected to be fit for the toss as his side look to snap a six-match winless run in the format.

West Indies begin an intensive period of preparation for the defence of the T20 World Cup in India later this year, with the South Africa series the first of three consecutive five-match rubbers.

Australia and Pakistan are also on the agenda for Kieron Pollard's side within the space of the next six weeks.

Star all-rounder Andre Russell is back in the fold alongside batsman Shimron Hetmyer, pace bowlers Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas and leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

West Indies – Evin Lewis

Lewis will be charged with providing the fireworks at the top of the West Indies order – something he relishes. The powerful left-hander is 11 runs away from 1,000 in T20Is. He would be the sixth Windies player to reach the landmark and the second-fastest in terms of innings, with the series opener set to be his 35th. Chris Gayle reached four figures in his 34th match.

South Africa – Aiden Markram

Opener Markram began the Test series with a fifty but could only contribute nought and four to a resounding 158-run win last time out. Nevertheless, he is likely to be in a confident mood heading into a format he relishes. Markram has hit a boundary for every three deliveries faced in T20Is since the beginning of 2019 – the most frequent for any batter to have faced 50 balls or more from a Test-playing country.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- West Indies will be aiming for back-to-back multi-game bilateral men's T20I series victories for the first time since March 2013, following their 2-1 triumph over Sri Lanka in March.
- Ireland defeated West Indies by four runs in the only previous T20I at the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada.
- West Indies have scored 62 per cent of their runs from boundaries in T20Is since the beginning of 2019, the best rate of any Test-playing country and five percentage points higher than South Africa (57 per cent).
- South Africa have a bowling dot-ball percentage of 33 per cent in T20Is since the beginning of 2019, the lowest of any Test-playing country and two percentage points fewer than West Indies (35 per cent).
- South Africa have saved 58 runs when fielding in men's T20Is since the beginning of 2019. Only New Zealand (61) have prevented more in that time amongst Test-playing countries.

UWI FC has opted out of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) ahead of the new season, Dean of the Faculty of Sports, Dr Akshai Mansingh, confirmed earlier this week.

With the competition scheduled to get underway this weekend, Mansingh pointed to a number of issues relating to the timing of the league and the availability of members of the UWI team.  The players are scholarship athletes and are currently on summer holidays.

 Mansingh also pointed out that the extended delay to the start of the league had severely impacted the university financially.  As part of its preparation, the team housed athletes on campus, allowing for small group training in order to build team chemistry and strengthen relationships with the coaches.

However, the administrator went on to explain that the university follows strict guidelines regarding the semester system, and unfortunately, they have now come to the end of the academic year.

Mansingh further clarified that the university’s objectives were different from the remaining teams in the Premier League.  He said that the priority of the University is to offer students the best opportunity to excel at sports and in so doing represent the UWI.  Members of the team must be university students.

Mansingh insisted that the university would prefer to play in the JPL but would not sacrifice the principles of being a university team in order to be one with just its name.  The UWI FC were promoted to the league in 2015 and have since done well for themselves.

Chairman of the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), Chris Williams, said that sincere efforts were made to ensure that UWI had remained a part of the JPL.

 


 

 

Shericka Jackson set tongues a-wagging on Thursday night when she ran a new personal best to advance to Friday’s semi-final of the 100m at the Jamaica’s National Championships at the National Stadium in Kingston.

Yohan Blake, the 2011 World Champion and double Olympic silver medalist showed glimpses of the Beast, as he also advanced to the semi-finals of the men’s 100m with the fastest time.

Jackson, 26, a 400m specialist, clocked 10.91 and was the fastest among the women. That takes some doing considering that the preliminary round also featured four-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who cruised to victory in her heat in 10.97.

Elaine Thompson-Herah, the 2016 double Olympic champion also looked to be in incredibly great shape as she won her heat in 10.96.  Briana Williams, 2018 World U20, was also a picture of good form in winning her heat in 11.00.

Also among the 16 women advancing to the semi-finals were Natasha Morrison, who was second to Jackson in 11.06 while Shian Hyde was a distant third in 11.50.

Sashalee Forbes advanced from Fraser-Pryce’s heat having run 11.13, close to her personal best of 11.10 while finishing second to the two-time Olympic 100m champion. Remona Burchell, the 2014 NCAA champion, showed the form that made her champion clocking 11.14, a brand new season-best and her fastest time since she ran 11.07 in 2017.

Natalliah Whyte (11.13) and Shockoria Wallace (11.22) advanced from Thompson-Herah’s heat while Kemba Nelson ran 11.05 and Kevona Davis (11.19) advanced from Williams’ heat.

Briana Williams, the national U20 record holder at 10.97, showed that she will not be outrun by anyone cruising to an 11.00 clocking to also advance from Heat 4 along with Kemba Nelson (11.05) and Kevona Davis (11.19).

 Ashanti Moore (11.15), Kashieka Cameron (11.28), Jodean Williams (11.45) and Schillonie Calvert-Powell (11.53) are also through to Friday’s semis.

Meanwhile, Blake looked like the sprinter of a decade ago when only Usain Bolt was faster when he eased to a 10.03 clocking to win his heat. Davonte Burnett was the second-fastest through to the semi-finals when he won his heat in 10.05.

Burnett, whose father is Jamaican, grew up in Massachusetts and attends the University of Southern California. He was fifth in the NCAA Division I finals in 10.19.

Julian Forte and Oblique Seville both looked good while crossing the line together in their heat in 10.08, similar to what happened in the opening heat with Tyquendo Tracey and Nigel Ellis, who were both credited with 10.13.

 Romario Williams, who clocked 10.27, also advanced from that heat.

Also advancing to Friday’s semi-finals were Senoj-jay Givans (10.20), Oshane Bailey (10.26), Andre Ewers (10.22), Bryan Levell (10.25), Jelani Walker (10.32), Michael Campbell (10.25), Ashanie Smith (10.25), Jevaughn Minzie (10.27) and Ramone Barnswell (10.32).

The Jamaica Olympic Association and Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange praised Veronica Campbell-Brown for her outstanding career as Jamaica’s decorated athlete.

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