Prior to the start of the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup, Cricket West Indies’ Facebook Page had labelled the West Indies team’s campaign to regain its title as the tournament’s reigning champions “Mission Maroon!” With two defeats and just one win, a highly squeaky last over three-run win over Bangladesh, the West Indies team’s Mission Maroon has for all intents and purposes become Mission Improbable, if not altogether impossible.

The first three matches played by the West Indies have also been a major source of embarrassment to its Selectors both at home and at the actual tournament itself.

Having accumulated just two points after its first three matches, the West Indies still has a mathematical chance of emerging as one of the two Group A teams that will progress to the tournament’s semi-final matches. In order to do so, the West Indies will have to win both of its remaining matches against Sri Lanka and Australia by very sizeable margins so as to ensure it has a better run rate than any of the other likely semi-final spot contenders. Sri Lanka, in its very close loss to South Africa, has indicated that it will not in any way be an easy pushover!

Mission Improbable indeed, made even more so by the far superior performances to date from the likes of England, Australia, and even South Africa. Punctuated as they have been by much healthier run rates than that of the West Indies.

The chances of the West Indies now progressing beyond the Super 6 and into the semi-finals now, therefore, seems highly unlikely. What has become far more of a very tangible reality is the embarrassment that has been caused to the West Indies Selectors, Chairman Roger Harper and his Panel, by the substandard performances to date from the very players whose selections to the squad were so highly controversial. Messrs Gayle and Rampaul in particular, have to date done absolutely nothing to justify the Selectors’ expressed faith in their respective abilities to perform with merit during the World Cup.

Chris Gayle had celebrated his 42nd birthday on September 21, just weeks before the World Cup’s commencement. With his legendary skills as T20 cricket’s greatest ever batsman clearly in decline, as evidenced by repeated paltry scores in his most recent matches, Gayle’s inclusion in the West Indies 15 member World Cup Squad was discussed and debated throughout the entire Caribbean.

The West Indies Selectors, as well as the team’s Coach, Captain and Vice-Captain who had all publicly voiced their respective outstanding support for Gayle’s inclusion would therefore have been hoping for him to have effectively silenced all his critics with some superlative batting performances in his World Cup appearances. His scores to date: 13, 12 and 4 in the three matches he’s played, can now only be regarded as a source of colossal embarrassment to all concerned.

Much the same can also be said of Ravi Rampaul’s World Cup performances to date, the associated embarrassment factor for which has only been slightly less than Gayle’s. Rampaul was controversially selected to the West Indies World Cup Squad based on his 2021 Caribbean Premier League bowling. Rampaul’s World Cup performances to date have, however, confirmed the substantial gap between the batting skills of the West Indies’ opponents by comparison to those he would have encountered at this year’s CPL.

Rampaul has to date taken 2 wickets at an average of 30.50 from his 9 overs bowled to date. His economy rate within those 9 overs has been a relatively unimpressive 6.77. Yet in their infinite and now obvious lack of wisdom, Messrs Harper and Co, chose him at 36 to be one of the West Indies bowling attack’s supposed leaders.

As controversial as the West Indies’ Selectors final squad inclusion of both Gayle and Rampaul may have been, it was far less so than their non-inclusion of the ICC’s number one ranked Test all-rounder Jason Holder. To add further insult to injury, the Selectors’ also found it necessary to include Holder among the squad’s four travelling reserves.

As fate would have it, Obed McCoy’s subsequent failure to recover fully from the shin splints he had suffered prior to the tournament, yet another source of embarrassment for the Selectors, eventually resulted in Holder replacing him on the squad just prior to the West Indies’ match against Bangladesh. An opportunity that Holder fully grasped with both of his very large hands.

Included in the West Indies final XI for October 29 encounter, Holder struck two much-needed boundaries in a breezy cameo innings of 15 made off of just five balls which helped the West Indies to reach its eventual 20 over a total of 142-7. His economical bowling, which yielded 1/22-4, then helped restrict Bangladesh to 138/5-20 to give the West Indies its much-needed victory by just three runs.

Holder’s height also proved crucial in his boundary-catching dismissal of Bangladesh’s top scorer Liton Das. Attempting to hit a six off the last delivery of Dwayne Bravo’s fourth and final over, the nineteenth of the innings, Das must have thought that he’d successfully cleared the boundary only to see, in absolute dismay, the ball being plucked out of the air by Holder’s extended hands.

Holder’s outstanding performances with the bat, ball, and in the field during the Bangladesh encounter would have been an additional source of embarrassment to the Roger Harper led Selection Panel. It would also have undermined whatever level of joy they must have been feeling by the reported extension of their tenure by an additional two months. Scheduled to have ended this very month, the West Indies Selectors’ term of Office has again, reportedly, recently been extended to the end of December.

As if to be consistent with the highly controversial decisions prior to the World Cup’s commencement, some of the West Indies final XI choices made for the matches played to date have been equally bizarre. Selected to the squad based on his outstanding CPL 2021 performances and has been the West Indies’ most outstanding batsman, with the only recorded half-century in either of the team’s two official warm-up matches, Roston Chase, was somehow not included in the final XI for the West Indies’ opening match encounter against England.

Despite the West Indies having been bowled out for 55 by England, the Selectors still opted not to include Chase in the XI for its second match against South Africa. They chose instead to replace the injured McCoy a bowler with Hayden Walsh a leg-spinner.

Having been so repeatedly embarrassed the West Indies’ Selectors, both at home and at the actual World Cup, will be hoping that their choices, particularly those of Gayle and Rampaul, will be vindicated by their outstanding performances in the remaining two matches and by also by the team’s progression into the semi-finals.

If and when the latter fails to become a reality, however, Mission Maroon will have effectively become “marooned!”

Orlando City were denied a late play-off clinching winner after being forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at home to Nashville in MLS on Sunday.

Alexandre Pato's 94th-minute free-kick cannoned into the crossbar, with Andres Perea forcing home the rebound, ushering in scenes of celebrations as it would have sealed a post-season berth for Orlando.

That jubilation turned into frustration when the goal was later disallowed after referee Allen Chapman consulted the video, deeming Daryl Dike committed a foul on Alistair Johnston amid the goal-line scramble.

"It's a very sad day for the league," Orlando head coach Oscar Pareja said. "There is no explanation on a play that we saw evident. And it destroyed the joy of our people."

United States international Dike had earlier opened the scoring in the 18th minute, before Hany Mukhtar levelled it up for Nashville eight minutes into the second half.

Orlando – fifth in the Eastern Conference – can still reach the play-offs if they beat Montreal on the final day of the season on Sunday, while Nashville are third.

Philadelphia Union moved above Nashville into second in the east with their routine 2-0 home victory over struggling FC Cincinnati.

The Union are ahead of Nashville on goal difference only, with strikes from Daniel Gazdag and Paxten Aaronson securing the win.

Cincinnati are eight points adrift at the foot of the table and have lost 11 games in a row and 14 of their past 15, while they have only one win in their past 24 games.

Elsewhere, Minnesota United stayed firmly in the play-off hunt thanks to a 2-1 home win over Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City.

Dominique Badji's 58th-minute goal was enough for Colorado Rapids to edge Houston Dynamo 1-0, meaning they tied their club record for points in a season with 58.

The bowling attacks have been switched around for the second Best v Best between Team Blackwood and Team Brathwaite set to begin on Monday, November 1, at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua.

The inaugural Tony Cozier and Reds Perreira 23 and Under T-6 Regional Cricket Festival is scheduled to bowl off from April 14-18, 2022 in Barbados.

Inter Miami have been eliminated from the MLS play-off race following a 3-1 defeat to New York City, while San Jose Earthquakes teenager Cade Cowell produced a stunning moment of individual brilliance.

David Beckham's Inter Miami were looking to keep their fading play-off hopes alive on Saturday, however, second-half goals from New York City pair Valentin Castellanos and Talles Magno dashed that dream.

Inter Miami had never taken a point against New York City in their three previous meetings, losing all three. New York City were one of two teams Inter Miami had faced more than once without claiming a point, along with DC United.

That drought continued despite Inter Miami defender Jorge Figal initially cancelling out Castellanos' 33rd-minute opener at DRV PNK Stadium, where co-owner Beckham was in attendance.

But New York City – third in the Eastern Conference – hit back via Castellanos and Magno to clinch a play-off spot thanks to results elsewhere as Inter Miami were left to pick up the pieces in Phil Neville's first season as head coach.

Cade Cowell, meanwhile, scored a memorable solo goal as the Earthquakes outlasted Real Salt Lake 4-3 in a wild showdown.

The 18-year-old collected the ball in his own half with 21 minutes remaining before barging down the right flank, cutting in between two RSL defenders and finishing past David Ochoa with the outside of his boot.

Elsewhere, Fabio netted a dramatic stoppage-time winner as New York Red Bulls edged Montreal 1-0 to move into the seventh and final play-off spot in the east.

Defending champions Columbus Crew kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a 3-1 win over DC United, Toronto and Atlanta United drew 1-1 and 10-man Dallas edged Austin 2-1.

West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite says the team will be looking to finish the year strong as they prepare to face Sri Lanka in a two-match Test series at Galle next month.

The series, which will take place from November 21 to 25 and November 29 to December 3, will be part of the 2021-2023 ICC World Test Championship.  In preparation for the series, the West Indies team is currently taking part in the Best vs Best intra-squad matches and Brathwaite insists the team is brimming with confidence and ready for the challenge.

“Sri Lanka is a very strong team, especially at home and as a team, we are looking forward to the challenge,” Brathwaite said.

“We know it won’t be easy.  The last time we went down there we did ok, it was a couple of years ago and we look forward to the challenge,” he added.

The team last travelled to Sri Lanka in 2016 where they lost 2-0.  Brathwaite did, however, claim six wickets.

“I think we have had a good year so far and it would be good to finish the season strong for the fans.”

The West Indies began the year with a win over Bangladesh, followed by a draw against Sri Lanka, a loss to South Africa, and a draw against Pakistan.

Decorated Jamaica track star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has brushed aside suggestions of retirement, insisting that she is feeling strong and at the peak of her career.

Although the sprinter turned 34-years-old this year, an age that in past decades would ordinarily see most sprinters, well outside prime years, looking to hang up their spikes, Fraser-Pryce’s performances last season proved she did not fall into that category.

In June, Fraser-Pryce ran the then fastest time of her career over 100m, clocking what was then the second-fastest time ever run over the distance at 10.63.  The sprinter had to settle for second spot at the Olympics behind the irrepressible Elaine Thompson-Herah but even so, there was little doubt that the duo was in a different class.

A month later, however, Fraser-Pryce bettered the time she set earlier in the year after clocking 10.60, the third-fastest time ever run over the distance, behind Thompson-Herah’s 10.54 and Florence Griffith-Joyner’s longstanding world record of 10.49.  Now, age aside, the diminutive Jamaican is hoping to push those boundaries even further.

“I’m at the peak of my career. It’s so mind-blowing that I think I owe it to myself, I owe it to the next generation of women that will come after me and those that are still here, to push this to another level,” Fraser-Pryce told Sky Sports News.

“I said to my husband and my coach, it’s so strange because I’ve heard of people when they are about to retire they say they’re feeling so much pain. And while you understand their journey, I’m looking at it like, I still feel good! And if I feel good, why not go for it,” she added.

Fraser-Pryce is one of the sport’s most decorated athletes having won a total of 11 World Championships and 8 Olympic medals.

Construction of the house of former national football star Miguel Blair in Rae Town was completed after three years and Michael Tulloch, one of the founders of the Unsung Ones Foundation, was more than happy with the project.

In the 1970s, Blair, of Santos fame, would be compared with the likes of Allan 'Skill' Cole, Peter 'Dove' Marston, Derrick 'Shastri' Denniser and Herbert 'Dago' Gordon as the leading players of that era.
But Blair has fallen on hard times and was living in squalor in an open lot that was eventually turned into his beautiful home.
Tulloch, a feared striker in his time, had high praises for the efforts from the government through the Sports Development Foundation (SDF); the Food For The Poor, Bert’s Auto and members of his organisation including Allan “Skill” Cole, Charlie Chaplin, Neville Oxford and Bev Melbourne to name a few.
“Miguel (Blair) is elated and that’s what’s important,” Tulloch pointed out.
“I just want to thank everyone involved. The Ministry of Sports through SDF and Mr Denzil Wilks provided the funds to get the trucks and the tractors to clean up the land. Bert’s and Food For the Poor all did a tremendous job,” Tulloch explained.
Wilks, General Manager of SDF, outlined that they have been providing care packages to Blair and collaborated with the Sports ministry, his family and the Vere Technical High School past students in making him as comfortable as possible.
“We also provided the Justice of the Peace to verify his living conditions then we sent off the information to the Food for the Poor”
“The Ministry also made contact with his sister, Pauline Blair, in regards to the house title and we are aware that the Vere Technical Past Students assisted in paying off the taxes so that the land would be available,” Wilks pointed out.
Members of the Bert’s Auto team were on hand, working feverishly to finish the project and Marketing Officer Waynette Strachan, said joining the cause was a no-brainer.
“It’s a one-day construction so we intend to hand it over today (Thursday) and at the end of the day Mr Blair would be in a new structure of a two-and-a-half bedroom,” said Strachan.
“With the new design that Food for the Poor has, there is a septic tank, a water tank, two solar panels that power the light bulbs. He also gets three double beds, a kitchen and a bathroom.
“He used to live in a shack before and his story was carried in 2018 so when Bert’s reached out to Food for the Poor saying that we wanted to donate a house to somebody and when they brought this to our attention it was a no brainer.”
Food for the Poor’s Development and Marketing Manager Marsha Burrell-Rose was also on-site.
“We are here with the Bert’s team, they are the donors for this house and when it came to us, Bert’s wanted to assist somebody with the house and since they are close by we decided to align the two together,” said Burrell-Rose.
“If you see where Mr Blair is coming from in terms of where he is currently living; and so we are very excited to just see the difference that this house is going to make.”

Despite scoring an unbeaten century for Team Blackwood on day two of the BestvBest match at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua on Thursday, Nkrumah Bonner said spending time at the crease was more important to him as he prepares for the West Indies’ upcoming tour to Sri Lanka later this year.

Monterrey claimed a fifth CONCACAF Champions League title after edging Mexican rivals Club America 1-0 in the final.

Rogelio Funes Mori was the hero, with the Mexico international's ninth-minute goal proving the difference at Estadio BBVA in Guadalupe on Thursday.

America defender Sebastian Caceres failed to deal with a ball into the penalty area, his whiffled clearance gifting Mori and Monterrey the early opener.

Former Tottenham striker Victor Janssen went close to doubling Monterrey's lead with 10 minutes of regulation remaining after rounding goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, but his effort was cleared off the line.

There were incredibly 15 minutes of stoppage time and America came close to dramatically equalising in the 101st minute when Federico Vinas rattled the crossbar in a goal-mouth scramble.

Monterrey, though, held on for their second Champions League trophy in three years.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will face another empty stadium for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against the United States, after a request for permission to have fully vaccinated fans attend the game was denied by the government.

The Jamaicans are scheduled to face the United States in a crucial encounter on November 16, as the team looks to push itself back into contention for a spot at next year’s World Cup. 

So far, the team is the only country not to allow fans into the stadium, in some capacity.  However, with an estimate of just 12.4 percent of the population being fully vaccinated Jamaica also has the lowest rate of any nation in the final round and is the only one below 20 percent.

According to a recent press release the denial was based on concerns regarding the capacity and logistics required to ensure that only vaccinated persons were allowed inside the stadium.  The decision caught Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) boss Michael Ricketts off guard as, according to him, the football body had harboured optimism of having fans return in some capacity for the upcoming round, following positive talks with government entities.

“We had discussions with persons from the Ministry of Health and we would have put our ID unit in motion.  In fact, one suggestion was that we would merge both ID entities so that once you apply for a ticket the JFF could say to you we can or cannot verify your vaccination,” Ricketts told TVJ.

“We put everything in place, all the plans.  We made several site visits.  We were working closely with IPL on how to have the patrons seated.  We had a meeting and went through all the protocols and that gave us the confidence that we would have been permitted to have fans.”

The government has indicated, however, that the proposal is under review and the request could be granted in time for the January round of matches. The team is currently in 6th place on 5 points, three outside of an automatic qualifying spot.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) said it is to meet with Reggae Girlz Head Coach Hubert Busby Jr. next Tuesday to discuss allegations that he tried to solicit sex from a player while he was head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps Women’s team a decade ago.

Busby Jr has denied the allegations.

The 52-year-old Busby was appointed Reggae Girlz head coach in January 2020, taking over from Hugh Menzies, who resigned his position over financial disagreements with the JFF.

“The JFF is aware of allegations surrounding National Women’s Head Coach Hubert Busby. The executive of the JFF will convene next Tuesday to discuss the matter with Mr Busby,” the JFF said in a tersely worded statement on Thursday.

The allegations against the Canadian-born former player emerged in a story published by the Guardian newspaper in England in which it is claimed that he made unwanted sexual advances to Malloree Enoch, who at the time, was seeking a job in the administration of the Whitecaps in September 2010.

According to the Guardian, Busby suggested that she could play for the club instead of working in the front office and plied her with “sports equipment as gifts, take her to restaurants in one-on-one situations, and ask her to stay with him alone in his hotel room while working in his role as Whitecaps coach.”

Enoch told the Guardian that on one of those occasions she spent three nights in his hotel room but said she made no sexual advances toward her during that time.

In another incident, Enoch said: “He insisted I stay (in his hotel room) because now it was late and when I agreed it was far too late to drive back. When we got back to the hotel he again didn’t have a room reserved for me. I had to stay in his room. This particular night there were two beds and I laid in my own bed and he made his way to my bed and at some point was standing over the top of me.

“He was on all fours fully on the bed. He was definitely aroused. He tried to kiss and touch me. The light was not on but I don’t think he had his shirt on. I had to negotiate to get him off the bed. I told him I wasn’t interested.

 “I think there was a lot of emotion. I was definitely scared. I had this dream to be a soccer player and I was trying to pursue something I had wanted to do since I was five and now I was put in a really shitty position. He was using this power because he had something that I wanted. I was very uncomfortable. I was resistant to it and he tried to pursue it and pursue it and then he got pissed off and went over to his own bed and went to sleep.”

She said she did not report the matter to the club because she was embarrassed and did not want to compromise being able to play for the club.

She was eventually signed by the Whitecaps.

However, at the end of 2011, the Guardian reported, the Whitecap players sent an email to club officials detailing a list of complaints concerning inappropriate behaviour by Busby and the coaching staff.

The club hired an ombudsman to interview the players and in October that year, the club sent an email to the players stating that “it was in the best interest of the club to make a change in the coaching staff for our women’s team programme.”

The email also told the players that it would be inappropriate for the players to comment on the matter publicly.

 

 

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has congratulated West Indies cricket legends on recently being awarded honorary doctorates from the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Nkrumah Bonner scored an unbeaten 90 as Team (Jermaine) Blackwood reached 234-4 at the end of day one of the BestvBest match against Team Brathwaite at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua on Wednesday.

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