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 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.

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.

 

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