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.

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards believes veteran T20 player Kieron Pollard would make a better option for team captain than current skipper Carlos Brathwaite.

The 31-year-old Brathwaite was named captain of the squad in 2016, following the controversial dismal of World Cup-winning captain Darren Sammy and his heroics against England in the final.  The Barbadian has, however, struggled since taking charge of the unit, winning just 11 and losing 17 of his matches in charge of the team for a 36 percent win rate.

Despite being out of the squad for a couple of years, Pollard has continued to be one of the game’s most reliable players, recently returning to score 115 in a three-match series against India.  The Windies, however, lost the series 3-0.

“Given his experience in that format, I would have liked to see Kieron Pollard as the best choice for our T20 captain. But he is not, for there are some reasons for that. During the CPL, he is the best with the bat and his fielding talent,” Richards recently told the India Times.

“There is no disrespect to Carlos Brathwaite, but he probably would have been part of the team still. It was a political scenario after Darren Sammy exited the captaincy. Brathwaite is magnificent as an individual and highly competitive, but I know a lot of players in that team who believe Pollard would have been a great choice as captain.”

 

 

Bahamian quarter-mile star Shaunae Miller-Uibo continued an impressive spell of sprinting dominance after claiming a 9th straight win at the Birmingham Diamond League meeting on Sunday.

The Bahamian Olympic champion, however, had to work late on after trailing both Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith with 15 metres to go.  Miller-Uibo, however, held her form superbly to go by both in the closing stages, in the end winning by around a metre.  The result meant the Bahamian, who crossed the line in 22.24, has not lost a race since the 2017 Muller Grand Prix.  Asher-Smith was second in 22.36, with Fraser-Pryce third in 22.50.

Despite winning the race, however, Miller-Uibo was quick to admit that things did not quite go according to plan.

“The race didn't go to plan,” said Miller-Uibo, who set a meeting record of 22.15 when winning here last year, on that occasion also defeating Asher-Smith. “My start was just horrible and I had to rely on that 400m strength to get through."

“I’m feeling good. Before the race, we had an idea of how we wanted the race to go and it didn't go as planned so I’m happy for the win and ready to move on to the next.”

 

Jamaica World Champion Yohan Blake is increasingly confident of hitting his best form in time for the Doha World Championships, following a narrow win to claim the men’s 100m title, at the Birmingham Diamond League meet on Sunday.

Blake just got the better of Britain's Adam Gemili, who erased a comfortable early lead by the Jamaican to ensure a photo finish.  Both athletes were clocked at 10.07 seconds but Blake was declared the winner.  The United States’ Mike Rodgers was third with a time of 10.09.  Another Jamaican in the race Tyquendo Tracey was 6th in 10.14.

  It wasn’t the fastest time, considering a barely legal +2.0 seconds but the Jamaican athlete was pleased with the result nonetheless.

"It was coming," said Blake, who suffered a career-threatening hamstring injury in 2013.

"The weather wasn't great but I'm saving the big day for the world championships and the Diamond League finals in Zurich," said Blake. "I can run faster."

Despite holding the second-fastest times ever run over both the 100m and 200m, Blake has been overshadowed by the American trio of Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin and Noah Lyles so far this year.  Coleman was expected to take part in the Birmingham Diamond League but had withdrawn from the race earlier in the week.

 

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards has admitted to feeling let down by the Ricky Skerritt-led Cricket West Indies (CWI), following its controversial decision to dismiss the coaching staff ahead of the ICC World Cup.

Less than a month after taking the reins of the association from the four-term president Dave Cameron, the decision was taken to dismiss interim coach Richard Pybus and the entire selection panel.

 The decision was particularly debatable with the ICC World Cup just a few weeks away and the interim-coach and team having put on an outstanding performance against England, the world’s number one team, and eventual World Cup winners only a month prior.

Despite being a huge supporter of the Skerritt slate ahead of it being elected, Richards strongly believed it was a major misstep.

“To be fair I did put my everything behind my support for the individual who is at the helm, but I wasn’t happy with the so-called coming into that particular position and just the way in which subtle little changes were made to get certain individuals in place for them to be managers and coaches of the tour to the World Cup.  I didn’t like the start and I made my point, Richards said.

“I didn’t like the start. I am hoping that the finish is much better than the start.”

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards insists that star batsman Chris Gayle could be allowed to retire on his own terms provided he continues to perform at a high level.

The 39-year-old Windies star was thought to have retired following the third One Day International (ODI) against India earlier this week.  Ahead of the match, talk in some quarters surrounded the batsman continued presence in the team, particularly after a poor performance at the ICC World Cup and a combined total of 15 in the two prior games.

The big left-hander, however, gave a stirring response to his critics with a smashing 72 off just 41 deliveries.  In addition, Gayle insisted that he had not announced his retirement following the series, creating a conundrum for the selectors in upcoming ODI series. West Indies bowling legend Curtly Ambrose had suggested that Gayle should step aside to allow the team to focus on new talent, with the next World Cup in mind.  Richards, however, believes Gayle could still be a valuable contributor to the Windies squad.

“Over the years Chris has been a brilliant batsman.  The only worrying thing I have would have with Chris now is if we cannot see the performances that we did in Port of Spain,” Richards said in an exclusive SportsMax Zone interview.  

“We can agree that one particular thing is that he is not as mobile in the field as when he was younger but if he can put in those types of performances, that in my opinion would suggest that we can still have him around to add that type of experience,” he added.

“I love to see class, I appreciate class and Chris brings this.  If he cannot perform like he did on a consistent basis well then we can start thinking other things like whether he should be there or not.”    

Windies skipper Carlos Brathwaite was left to rue another sub-par performance with the bat as India secured a 7-wickets win, in the ultimate match of the T20 series, at Providence Stadium and with it a 3-0 sweep of the regional team.

After losing the toss and being sent to bat, the Windies found themselves in early trouble when they lost Sunil Narine (2) to the bowling of Deepak Chahar.  Chahar would go on to remove Evin Lewis (10) and Shimron Hetmyer (1) en route to man of the match honours.  Once again, the regional team’s top order had failed to fire, losing their first three wickets for 14 runs.

Experienced middle-order batsman Kieron Pollard brought some respectability back to the innings after scoring a quick 58 from 45 balls, before being bowled by Navdeep Saini.  Rovman Powell also did his best to add to the total with an unbeaten 32 from 20 balls, as the Windies fought to 146 for 6.  In reply, half-centuries from India captain Virat Kohli (59) and Risbah Pant (65*) ensured that the visitors chased down the target with relative ease.  O’Shane Thomas was the best of the Windies bowlers after ending with figures of 2 for 29.

"We didn't start well with the bat again. Kudos to Pollard. As a team, we talked about progress, we took it to the last over. We knew 140 was below par but the bowlers fought again,” Brathwaite said.

“I'm not sure why the top-order isn't firing. Today, we didn't start well - if the top three play the way they do, we may have to take some decisions, but if they play how we know they play, we can get 180 easily,” he added.

“I, personally, need to perform as skipper. We have had some changes in the squad, so we need to establish ourselves as a unit further. We have seen some restructuring in batting from game to game and we are still searching for our perfect batting."

Rising Jamaican sprint phenom Briana Williams has admitted the country’s reverence for the sport of track and field made it an easy decision to choose the tiny Caribbean island over the United States.

The 17-year-old Williams is considered one of the brightest up and coming prospects in the sport of athletics. In fact, the sprinter is expected to follow a long line of exceptional Jamaican sprinters, the likes of which include Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson and the legendary Usain Bolt. 

Williams was, however, born in the United States, a country that has a proud track and field legacy of its own.  For the diminutive young sprinter, however, the choice between the track and field rivals was always a straight forward one.

“I was grown up in the Jamaica tradition way.  All the time when I was watching the Olympics, I would see Bolt and Shelly-Ann winning and think I want to be like them,” Williams said recently, in a podcast with the Olympic Channel.

“America has football, baseball they are more fans of that. In Jamaica, they show support to their track athletes and I like that.  In America, there is track but it's not at the same level.  When the Jamaica athletes are at the Olympics or World Championships, there is screaming in the middle of the streets and people cheering them on.  I like that culture more,” she added.  

Boldon, the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic bronze medalist, was in complete agreement.  Like Williams, Boldon could also have represented Jamaica as he was born in Port of Spain to a Jamaican mother.

“Even me being from Trinidad and Tobago, sometimes track and field athletes, despite us having the bulk of our Olympic medals, are not as revered in Trinidad and Tobago, like it is in Jamaica,” Boldon said.

“Many times during my career, when I saw the support for Jamaican athletes, I used to saw wow maybe Jamaica should have been the place I ran for because it just matters more," he added.

Williams, the World U-20 sprint double Champion, will represent Jamaica at the Doha World Championships later this year.   

India legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not expected to travel to the Caribbean for the team’s tour against the West Indies.

According to reports, the team has opted to groom new wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant after Dhoni came under criticism for his performance during the ICC World Cup.

“MS [Dhoni] will not go to the West Indies,” a source with knowledge of the situation told Times Now News said.

“Going forward, he will not travel with the team within India or overseas as the first-choice wicketkeeper. Rishabh Pant will take over and there will be a grooming window for him until he settles down,” he added.

“During this time, MS will help in the transition. For all you know, he could be part of the 15 but not part of the 11. This team needs a guiding hand on multiple fronts and wishing MS away is clearly unhealthy.”

The tour will include 3 T20 Internationals, 3 ODIs and 2 test matches in the Caribbean.   The tour kicks off with the T20 internationals on August 3 and carries on until September 3, which marks the fifth day of the second test match.

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.

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