Kwesi Mugisa

Kwesi Mugisa

Kwesi has been a sports journalist with more than 10-years’ experience in the field. First as a Sports Reporter with The Gleaner in the early 2000s before he made the almost natural transition to becoming an editor. Since then he has led the revamp of The Star’s sports offering, making it a more engaging and forward-thinking component of the most popular tabloid newspaper in the Caribbean.

Jamaica history-making goal scorer Havana Solaun does not believe a 4-1 spanking at the hands of Australia was a fair reflection of the team’s final performance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Tuesday.

The lopsided result, the third for the Reggae Girlz meant the team conceded 12 goals in three matches, a total just behind Thailand’s 18.  Despite the result, the performance was in truth, the team’s best to date.

Just as they had for most of the tournament, the Jamaican’s struggled at the defensive end and the Australian’s were let off the hook after the team conceded two soft goals.  After 180 plus minutes, however, it was a proud moment for Solaun who became the first Jamaican woman and second Jamaican to score at a World Cup tournament.  Robbie Earle netted for Jamaica’s men at that team’s debut at the 1998 World Cup.

“It was a bitter sweet moment.  It’s not the result we wanted but I think as a team we are growing every game and I think that’s the goal,” Solaun said.

“Every game on the world stage is a good game.  Every game is a battle.  I don’t necessarily think the score line reflected the game but every day you have to come out,” she added.

 

Jamaica national women’s team coach Hue Menzies has called on the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to better help prepare the team if they are to be competitive at the FIFA World Cup.

The team’s maiden appearance at the global football showpiece ended on Tuesday.  It was a chastening experience.  The national team ended the campaign with a 4-1 loss to Australia, which meant that they had conceded a total of 11 goals in four games.  The results had also included a 3-0 loss to Brazil and a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Italy. 

The team’s final appearance against the Australians was, however, by far its most promising as slick passes around the pitch, particularly in the second half, created several scoring opportunities. It was one of those chances that saw Havana Solaun make history as the first women to score for the country at the World Cup.  Despite several lopsided results, after finding themselves in a tough group, Menzies insisted he was proud of the team’s performance, especially in the curtain closer.

“We never gave up.  We gave it the tallawah effort and that we knew that could do,” Menzies said following the match. 

“Our game plan worked but we just had to execute better.  We gave up some sloppy goals in the second half,” he added.

In order to make an impact at a tournament of the scale of the World Cup, however, Menzies believes the team’s preparation needed to be a lot better.

“Our preparation is important.  How do we prepare?  The Federation has to understand that this is not something that we just go out and we play Caribbean teams.  We have to play teams in Europe in order to get to this stage.”

The Jamaicans were the first English-speaking Caribbean team to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

 

Jamaica two-goal hero Dever Orgill has expressed delight with getting the national team off to a flying start at the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old forward found the back of the net early and then late in the first half to give the home team a comfortable 2-0 lead by half-time.  A furious second-half rally saw the Hondurans grab early and late goals of their own, before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat. 

“It was very important for me to score these two goals today because I have been playing for the national team since I was under-15 and I hadn’t scored a goal for the senior team.  It was nice to score in front of these fans,” Orgill said in an interview with SportsMax.tv.

The goals marked the first time the forward was finding the back of the net for the senior team. 

As one of the country’s brightest youth prospects, Orgill made his debut for the national team, under Whitmore, nine years ago.  The forward, however, fell off the radar for several years and was limited to sporadic appearances until the current spell.  Based on the evidence so far, however, Orgill has certainly fought for and deserves a spot in the current squad.

 

“I think being out of the national team for a little while helped me to get back in.  I felt like I deserved to be in the national team but there is a time and place for everything," Orgill said

"Those times that I wasn’t a part of it I think it wasn’t my time but I continued to play well in my club teams and here I am today with the chance to come here and show that I deserve to be here with the group of guys and the coach Theodore Whitmore who gave me my first call up for the men’s senior team."

 

 

Newly-minted senior Reggae Boy Leon Bailey is confident of putting in more dominant performances for the national team, after a lukewarm debut against Honduras in the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Monday.

The 21-year-old Bayer Leverkusen winger played a crucial role in Jamaica’s first goal, which ended in a 3-2 win over Honduras but aside from that struggled to impact the game in a significant fashion. 

It was, however, the player’s deft touch that set up a through ball to Peter-Lee Vassell, whose shot was then parried by the goalkeeper before being headed into the back of the net by Dever Orgill. 

In the second half, Bailey seemed just short of connecting with substitute Shamar Nicholson on a few through ball attempts.  The performance was perhaps to be expected, with the player admitting he is yet to gain full fitness after recently recovering from an injury.

“It was very difficult for me and in my opinion the pitch was terrible.  It was very dry and I’m not used to pitches like that.  On the plus side, I think my game was ok but I know I can do much better than that," Bailey told members of the media following the match.

 “It was my first game in two months after recovering from an injury, so I wasn’t expecting a whole lot.  I was glad to be here for the supporters.  I’m feeling good now and I just have to look forward to the next game,” he added.

Orgil added another goal to his 15th-minute opener in the 41st, but the team found itself pegged back when Antony Lozano netted a close-range response in the 54th minute.  Damion Lowe leapt high to restore the team’s two-goal lead with a powerful header two minutes later, but a battling Honduras made for a nervy finish after Rubilio Castillo scored in time added on. Despite being pleased with the team’s overall performance, Bailey had issues with their lapses in concentration.

“I think it was a game of two halves and both teams were pressing.  In the first half, we had a lot of control of the game but less so in the second half.  We have to keep our concentration until the whistle is blown.  We were a bit sloppy in conceding the goals but in the end, we got the three points.”

 

Bahamian quarter miler Shaunae Miller-Uibo was admittedly displeased with her performance at the Racers Grand Prix meet, despite destroying a quality field to claim the women’s 400m title in Kingston, on Saturday.

In just her second race in the event this season, Miller-Uibo clocked a respectable 49.54 seconds, not as fast as her opening run of 49.05 set in Florida, back in April, but more than good enough for a new meet record.  The time bettered the previous best of 50.52 set by American Allyson Felix in 2017.

 In fact, Miller-Uibo finished more than a second ahead of reigning World Champion Phyllis Francis, with the American crossing the line in 50.85.  Jamaica’s Chris-ann Gordon was third in 51.83. 

The reigning Olympic champion just proved to be a different class than the rest of the field on the day and had the World Champion Francis well covered by the 100m mark.  She proceeded to leave the American and the rest of her opponents fighting for the minor places by the top of the stretch.  The Bahamian, however, seemed to have been expecting a better performance.

“I think today wasn’t really a good run,” she said following the race.

“I’m working on a lot of things trying to perfect my race but I’m happy I finished healthy which is important.”

Jamaica women’s football team coach Hue Menzies is already plotting a quick recovery for the national team following a 3-0 loss to Brazil, on their FIFA Women’s World Cup debut, on Sunday.

The Reggae Girlz put in a creditable performance against their noted South American opponents but were in truth short of any real answers, on the heels of a three-goal blitz from Cristiane Rozeira.  The result put the Jamaicans at the bottom of a tough four-team Group C, hardly the ideal start, but the coach was quick to insist the team has plenty yet to play for.

“We’re still in it.  We just have to look at fixing our back line and let’s get Bunny (Khadijah Shaw) more involved,” Menzies said.

Shaw the team’s top scorer was indeed mostly a fringe figure, with sporadic touches on the ball throughout the fixture, but proved to be a menace when she did manage to get possession. 

The forward’s fierce 30th-minute strike was just tipped over the top by Brazilian goalkeeper Bárbara and she saw a 50th-minute header drift just wide of the target.  Menzies insisted the loss would not be a major setback and pointed to the fact that the team recovered from a tough situation to seal it historic qualification for the World Cup.

“We’ve lost games before, we just have to pick it up and get after it.  We lost to Canada got back and beat Costa Rica. So we just have to pick it up and get back in the business.”

Jamaica will next tackle Italy on June 14 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims.

Former India all-rounder Hemang Badani believes the West Indies may have become complacent after gaining an early advantage against Australia but hopes the team learnt a valuable lesson.

In the end, it was the Australia’s who triumphed with a 15-run victory at Trent Bridge on Thursday, but for long spells of the encounter, it was the regional team who seemed to hold the advantage. 

Choosing to bowl first, the West Indies had Australia on the ropes at 3 for 56 and then 5 for 77.  The team lost its early momentum, however, after Steve Smith (73) and Nathan Coulter-Nile's swashbuckling 92 off 60 balls propelled Australia to 288 all out.

“They had the game in their hands, it was probably a question of getting one wicket.  They had to come really hard and probably even be a bit more aggressive when Australia was five down.  You just get the feeling that the West Indies took the game a little lightly and felt that they really would get them out at 150-160 and go out there and score those runs, that’s when the game comes back and bites you,” Badani assessed.

“You never take the game lightly, you always have to go hard.  When you are on top, stay on top.  They will have learnt a lesson.  Going forward the solution isn’t to change the bowling, it’s to stay in the moment, keep going hard and don’t get complacent.”

In response, at 149-3 midway through the chase, Holder's men looked well set to make it two wins from two but Shimron Hetmyer's run out and some poor shot-making saw that honour go to Australia, for whom Mitchell Starc shone with 5-46.

Australia pace bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile has warned the Windies that the team is prepared to fight fire with fire when they square off in their next fixture of the ICC Cricket World Cup on Thursday.

Short-pitched deliveries by fast bowlers of both teams played a critical role in convincing opening fixture wins.  The speed team of Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Starc and Patrick Cummings proved much too strong for Afghanistan, who they went on to dismiss for 207, before claiming a comfortable 7-wicket win. 

Pakistan found short-pitched deliveries from Jason Holder, O’shane Thomas and Andre Russell impossible to deal with, as they were dismissed for 105 before the Windies also cruised to a 7-wicket win.

Neither side will change the approach headed into their second encounter and Coulter-Nile is already cautioning the Windies to be ready to face the chin music.

“You’ve got to give it (bouncers) to the Windies, otherwise they just get on the front foot and pogo you everywhere,” the 31-year-old told reporters.

“We’ll definitely give it to them, we give it to every team. You’ve got to use your two (permitted bouncers per over).

“The grounds are so small and the wickets are generally pretty flat, so you’ve got to use bouncers when you can.”

Another concern for the Australians, ahead of the match, is the form Windies opener Chris  Gayle, who cracked a 34 ball 50 in the first match.  Coulter-Nile believes aggression and pace will also be key in neutralising the Windies’ main threat up top.

“Oh, Starcy (Mitchell Starc) will knock his off pole out. It will be easy,” he said jokingly about the 39-year-old Gayle.

“You know he’s going to hit your good balls for four and hit your bad balls for six. Just keep as bowling as many good balls as you can we’ll stick a few up him.

“I think you just need to be aggressive at him. He’s still smacking them but he is getting older. I don’t know if he’s faced too much of Starcy and Paddy (Pat Cummins) recently but they’re bowling quick. So we’ll see how he handles that early,” Coulter-Nile added.

Windies all-rounder Andre Russell has urged statisticians to respect the speed of his pace bowling, following a short-ball barrage against Pakistan, which earned him two wickets in the team’s ICC World Cup opener.

The 31-year-old all-rounder proved a constant thorn in the side of the Pakistan batsmen as he bowled 16 rapid short balls.  Particularly troubled was Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman as Russell’s 86mph bouncer ricocheted off his bat and helmet before hitting the stumps.

“A lot of people have been saying I have been coming in the team as a big hitter, but a lot of people don’t remember that I’m a fast bowler,” he said.

“I think they underestimate me. I have been getting jealous in the past couple of years! People have me as ‘a medium-pacer’. When I see Andre Russell come on the screen and I’m a medium pacer, I think, ‘Who are they talking to?’

“At the end of the day, I show them I can bowl 90mph and I just think they should put some respect on my name were ‘medium pace’ should go to ‘fast’.

Russell the innings ended with figures of 2 for 4 off three overs as Pakistan were bundled out for 105.  The West Indies went on to register a comfortable seven-wicket win.

 

Eyebrows were raised around the region after several high-profile players failed to find a home during Wednesday’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL) draft in London.

Leading the list of notable Caribbean absentees for the upcoming season were Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Sunil Ambris, Davendra Bishoo and Kevon Cooper. 

The case of Simmons is particularly surprising as things seem to have spun in a 180-degree direction.  Only a few months ago the player was selected as the first pick of the 2018 draft for the St Lucia Stars.

On that occasion, Simmons went for $US 160,000 after entering the draft for $US 70,000.  The Trinidadian native entered the draft at the same price but this time around but found no takers.

The much-travelled Simmons previously played for the Jamaica Tallahwahs, Guyana Amazon Warriors and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.  The 36-year-old Smith, who previously opened for Barbados Tridents and Amazon Warriors, also found himself without a team after entering in the $US 70,000 category.

 Another stunning omission, maybe the most surprising, from the team selection was Barbadian born Englishman Jofra Archer, who was the most expensive ever Caribbean-born player for the 2018 IPL season.  The all-rounder also had several big performances in the Australia Big Bash League.  The player was recently selected for the England World Cup squad.

 

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose has picked the team to make a deep run at the ICC World Cup, which gets under way in England later this month.

The regional team won the first edition of the tournament in 1975 and 1979 and were only narrowly beaten by India in the following edition.  Since then it has been a major barren stretch of sorts having failed to advance to the semi-final stage in seven of the next eight tournaments.  The only exception came in 1996 when the team did manage to make the final four before being narrowly beaten by Australia.  Ambrose, who was a part of that squad, believes the current iteration could at the very least equal that feat.

“Our chances are as good as anybody’s because when you look at cricket in general and like I’ve said to the guys when I was with the team [as a coach], ICC ratings or rankings don’t really count on the field,” Ambrose told the Antigua Observer.

 “In the rankings, you could be one, two or three but it simply means you’re more consistent and you’re winning more games so you get the points to move to the top of the table but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the better team,” he added.

“We have a decent team but of course, people are going to argue about one or two players which will happen from now until eternity, but I feel we have a good enough team to go deeper into the World Cup.

Our problem is the consistency factor where we would win one game handsomely then maybe lose two or three and then win another one and if you’re so inconsistent then you’re never going to go far. As long as we are consistent in this World Cup, we can spring some surprises and go deep but we have to be consistent,” he said.

Regional cricket commentator and analyst, Fazeer Mohammed, has rubbished claims that players who showed up to play for the ICC World Cup qualifiers should have been given preferential consideration when the final squad was selected by Cricket West Indies (CWI) on Tuesday.

Of the sixteen players who took part in the qualifier in Zimbabwe last year, which secured the team a place at next month’s World Cup, nine have been included in the final squad. 

Two-time T20 World Cup winner Marlon Samuels is the most notable absentee in a list that also includes Jason Mohammed, Devendra Bishoo, Nikita Miller, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell and Kesrick Williams. 

 In this instance, scribbled on the final list submitted to the ICC on Tuesday, the most notable inclusion would perhaps be that of Andre Russell who turned down the chance to represent the region at the qualifiers, after stating that he had not sufficiently recovered from injury. 

The situation has sparked debate in some areas, particularly the exclusion of Samuels who had not played cricket for some time due to an injury but expected to be fit for the World Cup.  In an interview with the SportsMax Zone, however, Mohammed insisted cricketing reasons should be the only consideration in selecting the squad.

“This is a competitive sport. This is not about giving favours or doing people favours for long service or that sort of thing, or turning up when others didn’t turn up,” Mohammed told the SportsMax Zone.

“You remember in the days of the Kerry Packer era when the West Indies lost their Packer players for a period and the likes of Alvin Kallicharan and even Malcolm Marshal and so on came into the West Indies squad. From the moment that was sorted out and the World Cup came up in 1979 all the top players were back,” Mohammed added.

“There is no room for sentiment in competitive sport.  I understand the recognizing the roles played but are we selecting a squad as a favour for turning up or are we selecting a squad to be competitive or even get to the winning stage of the World Cup.

Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) president Conde Riley has insisted the organization followed the rules in coming to its decision to support incumbent Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Dave Cameron.

The organization’s stance has come under fire in recent weeks, with a contingent led by former BCA board member Hartley Reid starting a petition to review the board’s position.

In stating his objections to the board’s decision to support Cameron, Riley has pointed to concerns regarding a lack of democracy and fairness.  Riley has, however, insisted that the board came to its decision via a vote and welcomed any challenge that showed a violation of the organization’s policies.

 

“The process that we followed is set out in our rules.  The board met and the board made a decision, there were no other nominations.  We have no problem with listening to Mrs Skerritt and Shallow.  We made the decision as a board, not Conde Riley,” Riley said in an interview with the SportsMax Zone.

“The rules permit us to so do.  We put it to a vote.  We know how many people supported it, nobody was against it and we know the abstentions,” he added.

“If one of our membership decides that he is aggrieved and he can show where the BCA did not follow the letter of the law, in terms of our rules, then he can get the petition it’s not a problem it’s a democratic process.”

Cameron and challenger Ricky Skerritt, a former Windies cricket team manager, will square off for the leadership of CWI later this month.  Barbados, Guyana and the Windward Island have announced support for Cameron, while Trinidad and Tobago and the Leeward Islands seem to be in line to support Skerritt.  Jamaica has indicated that they are yet to decide on the issue. 

Surging Portmore United registered a fifth straight Red Stripe Premier League win, following a 1-0 triumph over UWI, despite going down to 10-men in the encounter on Sunday.

The defending champions looked to have found themselves in a tight spot after Damano Thomas received a straight red card in the 68th minute.  Their nerves were soon settled, however, after striker Javon East converted a 76th-minute penalty to extend their lead at the top of the table to eight points.

The race to avoid the drop tightened at the other end of the table, when Leslie St Fleur netted a crucial late goal for Montego Bay United for a 2-1 win over Reno. In the relegation six pointer, Dwayne Ambusley put the visitors ahead in the 17th minute but Donovan Brown brought Reno back on level terms in the 59th minute.

The result moved Montego Bay, who are currently in the relegation zone with Reno to within one of Harbour View.  The Stars of the East saw the distance between themselves and the relegation zone lessen following a 1-1 draw with Tivoli.  Tevin Scott gave Habour View the start they dreamt of after just three minutes but Tivoli pegged things back nine minutes later when Colorado Murray brought the visitors on level terms. 

Promoted Dunbeholden also failed to add to their buffer and remain just one point above Harbour View following a 1-1 draw with Cavalier.  In a hot-tempered affair, Nicholas Hamilton and Dunbeholden’s Kemo Gayle were both ejected from the pitch 30 minutes into the encounter.  Luke Rankine then put host Cavalier ahead in the 41st minute but Dunbeholder struck back early in the first half through Lorenzo Dubidad.  Despite Jeremy Nelson receiving a second yellow card in the 63rd minute to leave Cavalier down to nine men, Dunbeholden failed to press home the advantage.  Elsewhere, Mount Pleasant registered a 1-0 over Humble Lion.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler turned commentator Michael Holding has rejected the notion of an increase in the use of stump microphones, which some have argued will benefit the game of cricket.

Debate in the public sphere has raged, as of late, after the devices played the role in the sanctioning of two players.  Windies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel was banned for four matches after being accused of directing a ‘homophobic’ jibe toward England captain Joe Root.

In an ODI against South Africa, Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed was picked up on the stump mic making a racist comment to Andile Phehlukwayo and was also subsequently banned for four matches. 

Proponents of the argument have pointed to the positives of both outcomes and argued that an increase in microphones would also bring fans closer to players.  Holding, however, vehemently disagrees with the idea.  

"I had a conversation on air here in South Africa where I voiced my opinion on the stumps microphones being left on at all times.  It’s a backward step as far as I’m concerned,” Holding told Mumbai Mirror.

“The field of play and the dressing room belong to the combatants and the excuse being offered that it helps the viewers to enjoy the game is very lame.  If the public needs to hear the players on the field, it simply means the product being offered has a problem,” he added.

 

 

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