A yet-to-be-settled dispute currently roiling South Africa cricket threatens to scupper the team’s chances of touring the West Indies later this year.

The Proteas have been tentatively scheduled to tour the Caribbean in June of this year, most likely in Trinidad and Tobago, but a dispute between Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the government could lead to its cancellation.

The issue stems from the government's request that Cricket South Africa (CSA) adopt a new constitution for cricket administration in the country.  In a recent meeting, however, CSA voted against adopting the measure.  The country’s sports minister is as a result said to be considering taking serious measures against the board.

One option could be to take away the body’s right to designate itself as the official national representative of the country.  As such, CSA could not then select a national team for the tour of the Caribbean.

South Africa is one of several countries that are lined up to tour the Caribbean this year, as the region looks to recover from the financial setback of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Sri Lanka toured the region last month and Australia and Pakistan are also expected to tour the Caribbean later this year.  The South Africa series was previously reported to consist of two Tests and five T20s.

 

 Former England captain turned cricket analyst. Michael Vaughan. has questioned the overall fitness of West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell, despite the player’s fair start to the Indian Premier League (IPL) season.

In the second game of the campaign for the Kolkatta Knight Riders, Russell cleaned up the Mumbai Indians' tail for career-best figures of 5-15.  In the same match, however, the player was unable to finish the job with the bat as the Knight Riders slumped to a dramatic 10-run defeat as Russell added 9 from 15.

Vaughan pointed to the batsman’s work in the field and running between the crease as evidence the big hitter is not quite at his best.

“You got a player like Andre Russell, who has been a superstar, but on the field, when the ball is coming to him, he is always using his feet. He is obviously someone who cannot go down. It’s a very clever and careful aspect which Eoin Morgan will have to manage,” Vaughan told Cricbuzz.

“When he (Andre Russell) is at his best, he is great. But when you see him on the field, and when is bowling, he appears to be struggling. While batting he is not taking the twos,” he added.

“He needed to take the twos in the 19th over. Because you want him back on strike. Very difficult to manage for Brendon McCullum and Eoin Morgan.”

The Knight Riders have won 1 of their first 3 matches.

 The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has announced the withdrawal of a team to the World Athletics Relays set for May 1-2 in Chorzow, Poland.

In a release issued on Tuesday evening, the JAAA cited the difficulty of travelling during the pandemic and existing COVID-19 protocols as the reason for its decision.

“Based on existing travel restrictions, routing and possibilities since then, caused by the SARS Covid 19 Pandemic, it has become extremely challenging for the Jamaican team and officials to participate,” the release read.

Last week, the JAAA announced that an experienced team had been selected to take part in the event.  Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, Olympic and World Championships 400m bronze medalist, and former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell were among the headliners selected for the Jamaica squad.

Thompson was expected to be part of a 4x100m relay squad that included Natasha Morrison, Natalliah Whyte, Remona Burchell, Kasheika Cameron, and Shashalee Forbes.

She was also down to compete in the less often contested 4x200m, with Whyte, Forbes, Candice McLeod, Tiffany James, and Anastasia LeRoy.

Powell would have led a 4x100m team that included Oshane Bailey, Nesta Carter, Julian Forte, Nigel Ellis, Romario Willams, and Kadrain Goldson.

With recent spikes in the number of Covid-19 cases in Bermuda, a final decision on the fate of the 2021 Carifta Games will be announced in May.

The Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has joined forces with the Caribbean Cricket Podcast to bring even more engaging and entertaining content to their ever-growing social media following.

Despite admitting that their finances were in dire straits, President of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Ricky Skerritt has revealed that staff and players are now receiving their full salaries again after agreeing to a 50 per cent pay-cut last year.

It was in July 2020, at the height of the COVID19 pandemic which left CWI facing a major loss of income in the absence of regular cricketing activities, that CWI enforced pay cuts across the board, but the president now said all salaries are back to normal, even if only temporarily.

“The cut doesn’t exist at the moment…but let me just remind you (the cut) was part of the crisis management strategy,” he told Line & Length on Sportsmax over the weekend.

“We had put in place what we had called a financial strategy advisory committee which was a small task force combined from our finance committee and our audit risk along with the compliance committee, the CEO (Johnny Grave) and myself.

“The pandemic isn’t over but we have relaxed one of those conditions, which is we are back to full remuneration,” said the 64-year-old Kittitian.

According to auditors KPMG, the Board’s financial records show that CWI’s liabilities exceeds assets and raised the “material uncertainty” about the sports organization’s ability to keep operating indefinitely.

“We draw attention to Note 2 to the consolidated financial statements, which describes that the group’s revenue is cyclical in nature and depends on the popularity of the various reciprocal tours undertaken by West Indies teams,” the independent auditor’s report said.

“As at September 30, 2020, the group’s current liabilities exceeded its current assets by US$14,836,946 and its total liabilities exceeded its total assets by US$10,747,720.

“These events or conditions, along with other matters as set forth in Note 2, indicate that a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the group’s ability to continue as a going concern. Our opinion is not modified in respect of this matter.”

Skerritt, who was just handed another two-year term along with his vice president, Vincentian Dr Kishore Shallow, also indicated there were much better relations with stakeholders, players and staff over the last two years.

“The whole process is to not distract players away from their focus on cricket as far as possible and doesn’t give any interventions or any intrusions from an administrative or management level that can cause the players any kind of distress or any kind of unnatural concerns to do with the environment they find themselves in whether on tour or not,” the CWI president said.

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez started the MLS season with a bang, scoring twice as LA Galaxy spoiled Phil Neville's Inter Miami debut in a 3-2 victory.

Former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Chicharito endured a difficult and injury-plagued 2020 season, Mexico's all-time leading goalscorer netting just twice after joining the Galaxy.

But Chicharito kicked off his redemption season in style – his two-goal second half sinking David Beckham's Inter Miami in Sunday's season opener.

"I'm holding [back] my tears. I suffered the loss of my grandfather, I would love him to keep watching [me] scoring goals," Chicharito said. "I'm very touched because, like I told you, last year was very difficult.

"I miss him so much and these goals are for him, my kids, my whole family, my friends, everyone. I maintain patience, I keep grinding and thankfully things are coming around and hopefully, like I say, I just want to be a part of an unbelievable season and lift the trophy."

Trailing to Robbie Robinson's opening goal in first-half stoppage time, Chicharito equalised just past the hour mark in front of a sell-out crowd in Miami.

Former Juventus and Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain restored Inter Miami's lead in the 68th minute – just his second goal for the club since arriving in the United States.

It had ex-United utility and former England women's boss Neville dreaming of a dream start in Miami, where he replaced Diego Alonso as head coach ahead of the 2021 season.

But Chicharito levelled proceedings again with a trademark header 17 minutes from the end before Sacha Kljestan put the Galaxy in front in the 81st minute.

Elsewhere, reigning champions Columbus Crew drew 0-0 against Supporters' Shield holders Philadelphia Union, while Vancouver Whitecaps edged Portland Timbers 1-0.

Michael Ricketts, President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) said he is deeply saddened after learning of the sudden death of former National player, Tremaine “Tan Tan” Stewart. 

Team manager Paul Christie said he was rendered speechless by news of the sudden death of Dunbeholden FC midfielder Tremaine’s Stewart this morning.

The New York Red Bulls let slip a lead to lose 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City on the opening weekend of the new Major League Soccer (MLS) season.

Caden Clark had put the Red Bulls up with a spectacular goal early in the second half but last season's Western Conference top spot finishers hit back.

Gadi Kinda netted a 59th minute penalty with Hungarian forward Daniel Salloi putting KC ahead barely 60 seconds later with a simple close-range finish.

New York City were also opening day losers, blowing a 1-0 lead to go down 2-1 at D.C. United.

City, who reached last season's play-offs, went ahead on the quarter hour from Valentin Castellanos.

But United responded by taking the lead before the interval with a sensational long-range drive from Brendan Hines-Ike and another from Russell Canouse, coming from a perfectly executed corner routine.

 

10-man Revolution hit back, Pato debut

Last season's semi-finalists New England Revolution fought back from two goals down to claim a thrilling 2-2 draw away to Chicago Fire.

Revolution, who were reduced to 10 men in second-half stoppage time after a DeJuan Jones red card, trailed 2-0 after 11 minutes following goals from Robert Beric and Luka Stojanovic.

Polish attacker Adam Buksa and Gustavo Gou netted in the following 15 minutes to level the match.

New England debutant Edward Kizza should have scored the winner when he struck the crossbar with an 87th minute header.

Victor Wanyama was among the goals as Montreal eased past Toronto 4-2 in their Canadian clash, while former Brazil international Alexandre Pato debuted for 2020 quarter-finalists Orlando City who had a scoreless draw with Atlanta United.

However, Pato limped off in the 80th minute with an apparent knee issue which will have Orlando sweating on scans.

Los Angeles FC started the new season with a solid 2-0 victory at home over newcomers Austin with goals from Corey Baird and Jose Cifuentes.

Nashville fought back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Cincinnati thanks to Randall Leal's 64th minute long-range curler, while Dallas and Colorado also played out a 0-0 draw.

 

Premature substitution

LAFC coach Michael Bradley admitted he "might have jumped the gun" when he accidentally subbed off star Mexican attacker Carlos Vela in the 22nd minute after he waved in his direction. In hindsight, Vela was calling for treatment from a trainer after picking up a knock.

 

Teenager's special strike

The Red Bulls went ahead when 17-year-old midfielder Clark fired in a superb volley out of mid-air. The teenager appears a star in the making.

 

Saturday's results

Montreal 4-2 Toronto FC
Orlando City 0-0 Atlanta United
Los Angeles FC 2-0 Austin
Sporting KC 2-1 New York Red Bulls 
FC Dallas 0-0 Colorado Rapids
DC United 2-1 New York City FC
Chicago Fire 2-2 New England Revolution
Nashville 2-2 Cincinnati

 

Galaxy in Florida

There's three games on Sunday including a glamour fixture between David Beckham's Inter Miami against his former club Los Angeles Galaxy.

Jamaica Olympic champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah, coasted to victory in the women’s 100m at the Velocity Fest meet, at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Thompson-Herah crossed the line in section one of the event, in a time of 11.21, well clear of Sprintec’s Remona Mitchell who was second in 11.35.  Thompson-Herah’s MVP teammate Natasha Morrison took third overall after winning section 2 in a time of 11.41.

In the men’s equivalent, former world record holder Asafa Powell was forced to settle for third spot after crossing the line in 10.48.  MVP’s Nigel Stewart took the top spot with a time of 10.39, just ahead of Sprintec’s Rodney Brendon who clocked 10.40.

In the women’s 200m, decorated multiple champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the event after crossing the line in 22.66, winning section 2 ahead of Stephanie McPherson who was second in 22.90.  Section one winner Brianna Lyston was third overall in 23.28.

The men’s equivalent was won by Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes who destroyed the competition after recording 20.14.  Sprintech’s Romario Williams was second in 20.59, with Petersfield Antonio Williams third in 20.70.

In the women’s 400m, first place went to Sprint Tech’s Ronda Whyte, who finished first in 51.28.  Second place went to UWI Mona’s Candice McCleod (51.56) with Roneisha McGregor taking third in 52.06.

Jamaica discus thrower, Shadae Lawrence, registered a fourth consecutive win after taking first place at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational meet on Friday.

Lawrence recorded a distance of 57.86m, finishing well clear of the rest of the field.  Finishing in second was the University of Miami’s Kristina Rakočević who recorded 51.80m, with Jalani Davis (Ole Miss) third with a distance of 51.32.

The win for the Jamaican national record holder follows up on a victory last week at the USA Track & Field (USATF) Sprint Summit.  Elsewhere, former Jamaica College jumper Clayton Brown also claimed the top spot in the men’s high jump.  Brown took first place with a leap of 2.21m, ahead of Old Miss’ Allen Gordon who took second in 2.16m.  Third place went to Louisville’s Trey Allen who recorded 2.11m.

In the Men's 200 Dash Olympic Development Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards clocked 20.30 to secure second place, behind the United States’ Fred Kerley who took the top spot in 20.24.  Erriyon Knighton was third in 20.39.

MLS concluded David Beckham's Inter Miami violated the league's roster and salary rules following the signing of France international midfielder Blaise Matuidi.

Inter Miami lured Matuidi from Serie A champions Juventus to the United States for their inaugural season in 2020 – the World Cup-winning star teaming up with Gonzalo Higuain after the club used targeted allocation money (TAM).

But as Inter Miami prepare for their second season in MLS, which kicks off under Phil Neville against LA Galaxy on Sunday, MLS deemed the club were not roster compliant – meaning the team effectively had four designated players last season rather than the three allowed.

Higuain, Rodolfo Pizarro and Matias Pellegrini were Inter Miami's listed designated players in 2020.

"The league has concluded that Inter Miami was not in compliance with the roster and budget rules during 2020," a statement read on Friday, with the league to finalise its investigation and sanctions in the "near future".

"In 2020, Matuidi was categorised as a targeted allocation money [TAM] player. Matuidi's compensation was above the compensation limit for a TAM player and he should have been classified as a designated player.

"As a result, Inter Miami CF violated the designated player limit as the team had three designated players in addition to Matuidi during 2020."

To become roster compliant, Inter Miami exercised their off-season buyout on midfielder Pellegrini – one of last season's designated players.

Pellegrini – signed from Argentine side Estudiantes ahead of the 2020 campaign – joined the club's USL League One affiliate Fort Lauderdale CF on loan and will not be eligible to play on the team's 2021 MLS roster.

"We've been working with Matias, his representatives and MLS to reach an agreement, and at this time we believe this is the best option for all parties," Inter Miami sporting director Chris Henderson said.

"Matias is a talented young player with an exciting career ahead. He will remain with the organisation as we work on finding an on-field opportunity and next steps for him."

Inter Miami endured a tough time in 2020, finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference before losing in the play-in round of the playoffs.

They also suffered three defeats in three games in Group A of the MLS Is Back tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Raul Ruidiaz netted a brace and Joao Paulo scored a stunning goal as Seattle Sounders started their 2021 MLS season with a 4-0 drubbing of Minnesota United.

Ruidiaz scored twice in the second half after Joao Paulo's memorable opener to give last season's runners-up Seattle the perfect start on opening day.

The Sounders – beaten by Columbus Crew in the 2020 MLS Cup final – hit the front four minutes into the second half, Joao Paulo cushioning a cleared cross with one touch before rifling a thunderous volley into the top corner on Friday.

Ruidiaz entered the new season on the back of 12 MLS goals last term. According to Stats Perform, his 0.76 goals per 90 minutes led the league in 2020. When the Peruvian star was on the field, the Sounders scored two goals per 90 – besting their average of 1.5 goals per 90 when he was not last year.

A dominant force in the Western Conference since Brian Schmetzer succeeded legendary former boss Sigi Schmid in 2016, the Sounders doubled the lead with 20 minutes remaining when Will Bruin teed up Ruidiaz.

Ruidiaz made it 3-0 three minutes later after Cristian Roldan turned provider before Fredy Montero completed the rout four minutes from time at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, where the Sounders had an expected goals (xG) difference of 20.9 last season, well clear of next-best team Los Angeles FC (12.0)

In the only other match on Friday, Houston Dynamo edged San Jose Earthquakes 2-1.

Houston built a two-goal buffer by the 55th minute thanks to Memo Rodriguez and Maximiliano Urruti.

A stunning 74th-minute strike from San Jose substitute Paul Marie set up a tense finish, but the Dynamo held on for maximum points.

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