Pakistan have confirmed that Haris Sohail will not travel for the tour to England because of coronavirus fears.

The middle-order batsman withdrew from selection for the three-match Test and Twenty20 series, with fixtures set to take place behind closed doors across August and September.

While Sohail's absence was made public on Thursday, it was only in naming the squad on Friday that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) offered a full explanation, having previously cited "family reasons".

A back injury has ruled out Hasan Ali, while Mohammad Amir is skipping the tour to be at the birth of his second child.

"Fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Mohammad Amir, and middle-order batsman Haris were not available for selection," read a statement from the PCB.

"Hasan is suffering from a back injury, Amir withdrew so that he can be at the birth of his second child in August, while Haris took the option of pulling out of the tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Pakistan Under-19 batsman Haider Ali has earned a call-up, with Kashif Bhatti the other uncapped player included.

Chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said: "The selectors have picked a squad which gives us the best chance of success in England.

"It was a challenging process as the players have not played for an extended period of time, but nevertheless, with the month that we will have in England and the intense training we will undergo, we are confident we will get the players up to the mark to be ready for the three Tests."

Pakistan squad:

Squad: Abid Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Haider Ali, Iftikhar Ahmad, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imran Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sohail Khan, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz, Imad Wasim, Kashif Bhatti, Shadab Khan and Yasir Shah.

Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy had every right to be angry with former Sunrisers Hyderabad teammates after their use of a racial slur to refer to him, even in jest, someone’s ‘blackness’ should never be the butt of a joke.

As such, it was a major disappointment to see some fans of the sport, not only accuse the player of seeking attention but also going on to further insultingly claim that he has no right to be upset.

The word used to describe the West Indian, Kalu, by one of its definitions on a list of ethnic slurs is itemized as literally meaning ‘blackie, generally used for black-skinned people in India, can also have racist overtone when referring to Africans.’ 

In a region with a long history of racial discrimination, it's hard to buy the excuse that the use of ‘blackie’ to refer to a black West Indian was used as a term of endearment. In all likelihood, it might have been used mockingly and in jest but why should that be accepted as normal or ok, how can the colour of a person’s skin be a source of even casual, 'harmless' ridicule.

If there were a bunch of roses would it be funny that one rose was redder than the rest?  It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  Of course, it does.  Perhaps the reason Sammy is being told to lighten up may come from the fact that some of us, at some deep subconscious level, believe being darker than someone else is somehow misfortune. 

To some Asian and Caribbean societies that have had their mentalities warped by the negative effects of slavery and/or by the oppressive regime of colonialism, perhaps such a thing seems casual or normal. The time is right though to call some of these things what they are, even if we don’t expect them to change, or are not necessarily offended by them. Let us not insist that someone else does not have the right to do so.

After all, we haven’t heard about any nicknames given to Brendan Taylor, Dale Steyn and Aaron Finch some of the white teammates who would have been on the squad with Sammy.  If there was, I stand corrected but would love to hear the light-hearted or playful joke or nicknames for how ‘white’ they were. If it is that jokes about standing out for having different colour skin is funny or is deserving of cuddly nicknames, then it should surely fall on both sides of the colour spectrum.

It is also disingenuous to suggest that because the West Indian captain has referred to himself as black, then it shouldn’t be a problem.  

Surely we don’t mean to associate Sammy’s reference to himself as a proud or confident black man with being called the equivalent of a ‘blackie’.

What would have been more hurtful for the player was the fact that he even laughed along with it, only to find out later on that he was in fact, the subject of the joke.

Coming out in support of Sammy, however, former West Indies teammate Chris Gayle rightly pointed out ‘it’s never too late to fight for the right cause’.  In this case, Sammy is well within his right to demand an apology and he should get one.

 

The Master Blaster, Sir Viv Richards, is English county cricket's greatest overseas player. This, according to BBC Sport users, who voted on the best players from each of the 17 counties. Each winner then went through to an overall vote.

When the final votes were tallied, the former West Indies captain had secured an astonishing 43.2 per cent of the final vote, finishing ahead of another former West Indies captain, Sir Clive Lloyd (9.2 per cent), and ex-New Zealand all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee who won 8.5 per cent of the vote.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) Johnny Grave has sought to set aside rumours that the regional team was obligated to accept the tour of England because of a US$3m loan they received from the England Cricket Board (ECB) earlier this year.

The West Indies and England are set for a return to international cricket next month with a three-match Test series, in England.  With the spread and effects of the coronavirus still very much evident in the UK, however, some have questioned the wisdom of the decision, particularly based on the risk posed to the players.

With 291,409 thousand reported cases and 41,279 deaths, the UK is the hardest-hit region in Europe.  The ECB has, however, been taking precautions with a chartered flight for the team to the UK and the implementation of a biosecure environment for the series, which will keep the players quarantined from the rest of the general public for the duration of the tour.  There is still, however, some risk attached but Grave has been quick to dismiss suggestions the invitation was accepted because of a debt owed.

“We got a three-million-dollar advance of our ICC distribution that was given to us by ECB.  It’s a short-term interest-free advance because its due to be paid back in full in July, directly by ICC to ECB and will be deducted from the money we get,” Grave told Barbados Nationnews.

“In early May when we received it, we weren’t discussing it at all because the situation in the UK was not the state that it is now.  So, I guarantee you it’s not linked in any way shape, or form to our touring or not touring.”

James Anderson expects England players to discuss showing solidarity with West Indies and the Black Lives Matter movement during their forthcoming Test series and called on cricket to do more to encourage inclusivity.

The Windies arrived in Manchester this week ahead of three Tests next month, which will take place behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford.

Discussing his team doing their part to support protests that have swept the globe in the aftermath of George Floyd's death in police custody, West Indies captain Jason Holder stated that the tourists could take a knee.

"Protesting and standing up for what you believe in is noble and courageous, and something I would never disapprove of." Holder said.

Anderson is certainly of similar mind and conceded English cricket must do more to serve the BAME community after his former international team-mate Michael Carberry told ESPNCricinfo: "Cricket is rife with racism. Black people are not important to the structure of English cricket."

England's leading Test wicket-taker Anderson said: "I think it's been a thought-provoking few weeks for everyone. It's made me do a lot of thinking.

"We definitely will have conversations as players about what we can do to make a stand. It's something that as players and a game we need to be more active with.

"It's made me think about whether I've experienced racism on the cricket field. I couldn't think of any instances. I wasn't there when Jofra Archer was abused in New Zealand [in 2019].

"It also made me think, have I just turned a blind eye to things? I'll try and support my team-mates if they do suffer any abuse but have I been active in supporting them?

"The game in general as well - I saw the stat that there's one black player that's come through the state school system in county cricket. That's not okay. We need to actively make this game for everyone.

"It can't keep going the way it is. That's what I've been thinking about and is there more that I can do to help as a player."

England captain Joe Root could miss some of the upcoming series, with his wife Carrie due to give birth to their second child at the start of July.

Ben Stokes is in line to step up as vice-captain and Anderson does not believe the superstar all-rounder would be compromised by the extra responsibility.

"Ben's been the vice-captain for a while now," the veteran seamer said.

"He's grown and grown with that responsibility. In the dressing room he's really got a presence He's got the respect of the team.

"The natural thing to do is for the vice-captain to step up if the captain's unavailable. I'd fully expect him to do a great job."

The main challenge heading into the West Indies series for Anderson, as a master of seam and swing, could be new regulations that prohibit bowlers from applying saliva to the ball in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 37-year-old is stepping up his preparations by bowling at England and Lancashire colleague Keaton Jennings and acknowledges breaking the habit of a lifetime is tricky, although he still expects most of the usual assistance pace bowlers enjoy in English conditions.

"It's going to be unusual," he added. "For me it's a natural habit to put saliva on the ball so it's been interesting trying to stop yourself doing that.

"Fortunately in Manchester we get quite a lot of rain, so I've been able to shine the ball on the grass.

"As far as I'm aware we can use sweat, so that's something and it'll be enough to polish the ball for it to do something through the air.

"I don't think it's going to be a huge deal for players. We'll manage to prepare the ball well enough for it to swing."

India have pulled out of a limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka that was due to begin this month.

The three ODIs and three Twenty20 matches that had been billed could now take place in August, according to reports.

Confirmation of the matches in June and July being called off came from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), with the national board citing coronavirus concerns as the reason.

An SLC statement read: "The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) informed Sri Lanka Cricket that due to the prevailing circumstances revolving around COVID-19 pandemic, the cricket series, which included three ODIs and three T20i matches will not be feasible."

SLC quoted a message it had received from the BCCI, confirming a wish to abide by cricket's future tours programme (FTP), provided health assurances have been received.

That BCCI message said it would need "to seek the advice from government of India and the health regulatory authorities before taking any decision for the resumption of cricket".

According to Sri Lankan newspaper The Island, India would be prepared to tour in August if they obtain governmental permission to make the trip.

Bangladesh are due to tour Sri Lanka in July and August for a three-Test series, but the Ceylon Daily News this week reported those matches were in doubt.

It quoted Bangladesh Cricket Board director Akram Khan as saying the "chances are very slim" of the tour going ahead in its current calendar slot.

James Anderson has thanked West Indies for taking the "scary decision" to play a Test series in England.

Like much of the global sporting calendar, the English cricket season has been ravaged by the coronavirus crisis, with no competitive action able to take place so far.

England will play West Indies in three matches behind closed doors next month, with the tourists based at Old Trafford.

The Manchester ground will host the second and third games as a bio-secure venue, after the Ageas Bowl in Southampton stages the opener.

It is hoped a Test series against Pakistan can take place in August, with the possibility of limited-overs engagements against the same opponents, Australia and Ireland on the schedule.

The United Kingdom has suffered more COVID-19 deaths than any other country in Europe, while the Caribbean has been minimally impacted by the virus compared to other parts of the world.

Anderson is not treating West Indies' opting to help get the international game back up and running lightly.

"From our point of view we're certainly very grateful that the West Indies are coming over here," he said.

"Obviously, with what's going on in the world, I imagine it's a scary decision for a lot of them, for all of them to make the journey over so we're hugely grateful.

"It's great for the game. It's brilliant that we are closing in on getting some Test cricket played after a decent lay-off."

Anderson, England's all-time Test wicket-taker with 584 victims, has managed to be creative in order to maintain his fitness during lockdown and in training with Lancashire.

The 37-year-old suffered injury setbacks when facing Australia and South Africa and feels Joe Root might look to rotate his battery of seam bowlers on home soil.

"Training has been going well," he said. "I've managed to tick over quite well during lockdown.

"I've luckily got enough space to fit half of my run-up in on my drive, so I've been ticking over with my bowling. When I came back to training with Lancashire I've not been going in cold.

"I felt like I hit the ground running pretty well. I've been enjoying being back."

Anderson added: "Obviously there are concerns about the fact we are not going to have had any competitive cricket before that first Test match and then we've got three Test matches in quick succession.

"So there are obviously things that we need to look at ahead of that in terms of workloads and whether we play all three as bowlers or whether we rotate.

"I'm sure the medical staff and the coaches are doing their due diligence on that; that's something we'll have to look at in a few weeks' time.

"But at the moment I'm enjoying myself, I'm enjoying being back and feeling really good."

West Indies captain Jason Holder said the Windies are not favourites for their upcoming series against England but his players are eager to get into action.

West Indies T20 star Dwayne Bravo has joined the growing throng of celebrity voices calling for an end to racism, saying all people of colour want is equality.

West Indies legend Sir Andy Roberts believes up and coming fast bowler Oshane Thomas should have been one of the names scribbled higher on the list for the team’s upcoming three-Test tour of England.

The 23-year-old pace bowler has been added as a reserve for the tour but is not a part of the 14-man squad for the series.  In fact, he is yet to make his test cricket debut but has played 20 ODIs and 12 T20Is since his debut in late 2018 and picked up five-wicket hauls in both limited-overs formats. 

Roberts believes the tour would provide the perfect opportunity to look at the player for the longest format of the game, because of one attribute, his raw pace.

“He should be in that 14-man squad from the onset.  He has what others want, he has pace.  Everybody wants pace,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“He may not be a wicket-taker but he may create some problems for the opposition and that is what you want.  Sometimes it’s not the guy who gets the wickets, it’s the guy who creates the problem that gets the other guys the wickets.”

Thomas had an impressive outing for the West Indies before the global game was halted due to the spread of the coronavirus.  He took 5 for 28 and 1 for 24 as West Indies swept Sri Lanka 2-0 in a T20I series in the first week of March.

 

 

 

West Indies fast bowling great Sir Andy Roberts insists it was a mistake for the team to embark on the current tour of England, without tangible compensation, due to the high risk taken by the players.

The West Indies and England will return to international cricket next month, with a three-Test match series behind closed doors.  With the spread of the coronavirus continuing to be a serious concern in the UK, for safety reasons, the players and everyone associated with the series will be kept in what has been described as a biosecure bubble for seven weeks.

With the United Kingdom (UK) being one of the hardest-hit countries by the virus and some 41,128 deaths already reported, there will doubtlessly be some element of risk in travelling for the tour.  As such, West Indies players were given the option of not accepting the invitation, with Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul all deciding to opt-out due to safety concerns.  As is customary, it is the host team that will be entitled to the revenue from the series, with the decision by the West Indies expected to save the England and Wales Cricket Board £120million in reimbursements to Sky Sports.

Due to the exceptional nature of the circumstances, Roberts believes the Caribbean team should have secured better compensation.

“I don’t have a problem with them negotiating to go to England, but what I have a problem with is talk that the West Indies will not benefit from the tour financially,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I think that is a mistake because the chances that we are going to take, I don’t think you have many more countries that would be willing to take such a chance,” he added.

“If they are to benefit financially then I don’t have a problem, but if they are not going to benefit from it, then I have a problem, why take the risk and sacrifice the guys?”

Two weeks ago a young footballer was shot and killed in Jamaica. Not long before that, the United States of America had a rejuvenation of its #BlackLivesMatter campaign following the death of George Floyd, who died after a policeman, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes, camera rolling and all.

It has been heartening for me to see black people from all over the world standing, marching, kneeling, lying face down, repeating Floyd’s last words ‘I can’t breathe’ together to say enough is enough.

The reach of the Black Lives Matter movement has been incredible since Floyd’s death, reaching all over Europe, Canada, the Caribbean.

But I am now hoping that there is another type of spill-over effect.

Already, there is very little talk about the young man, Shemar Nairne, who was one of eight people murdered on a random Wednesday in Jamaica.

Nairne played football for a living and he isn’t the first sportsman to be impacted by violence. Sports can no longer stand on the sidelines (the irony is obvious here), while the ills of society go without highlight.

For a long time, sports has sought to stay out of the fray for fear that it will be used for political gain and lose its purity, its independence.

But in Jamaica, just as has been the case in other countries, sport isn’t immune to the problems of the society it grows from.

I asked the question, what will be sport’s response to the murder of Nairne and by extension the wanton violence that pervades an increasing number of spaces on the island of Jamaica?

The responses were the very generic indignation that something like this could happen and the condolences to the family. It was not a George Floyd moment.

Sports, like music, are great at bringing people together in Jamaica.

I can remember watching Shell Cup football and being able to run through the spaces between the seats as Jamaica beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 to lift the crown.

The peanut vendor never had to chance his arm when selling his product to me and hope that I was decent enough to pass the money person-to-person across rows of fans to get him his due. He came to my feet to sell me the salted delights and was in no danger of blocking anyone’s view.

But then I can also remember that less than a decade later, I could not move more than a few inches either side of me when the Reggae Boyz were making their historic trek towards a first World Cup berth and the peanut vendor could not hear my screams for his attention. But Bunny didn’t mind. He was very much in the black with the number of orders he was getting. And violent crimes were down.

I say all that to say, Sports and music,  have a major part to play in getting the perpetrators of violence in Jamaica to stop.

Just as the Black Lives Matter campaign has gained worldwide traction and I witnessed as people like dancehall icon Bounty Killer waved placards in front of the US Embassy calling for an end to injustice for all black people, I want a concerted response from sports stars in Jamaica.

Football clubs, cricket clubs, track clubs must lead the way in bringing about an understanding of the importance of life.

I am fully aware of the fact that #GhettoLivesMatter is about putting an end to police excesses, but I believe the slogan can mean something bigger.

For some reason, and by ‘some’ I mean I know all the reasons but will not get into it, it is largely the poor who suffer at the hands of violence and this is a bigger statement than saying the police always brutalize the poor.

That being the case, #GhettoLivesMatter is apt.

Let’s hear the voices of the Jamaica Olympic Association, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, the Jamaica Football Association, Netball Jamaica, the Inter-Schools Sports Association, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the sports stars who fall under all these umbrellas.

Justice for Shemar Nairne. #GhettoLivesMatter      

West Indies star Chris Gayle has come out in defense of former captain Darren Sammy who recently expressed anger and frustration with incidents that might have been deemed racist during his time India Premier League (IPL) club Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Sammy recently accused several of his former teammates of a racist gesture after realizing the nickname he given, ‘kalu’ did not mean what he thought.  The West Indian cricketer has insisted he believes the world meant strong and admits he was hurt that he later called himself by that name and expressed hope that he had not been the butt of a joke.

 By various definitions the term literally means blackie and is on occasion used to describe black-skinned people in India.  Although the incident happened in 2014, Gayle insisted that it was never too late to right a wrong.

It's never too late to fight for the right cause or what you've experienced over the years! So much more to your story, Darren Sammy. Like I said, it's in the game," tweeted Gayle who has played for Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab in the IPL.

 Both Gayle and Sammy have spoken out in support of the racial injustice protests currently sweeping across the globe.

Cricket West Indies Chief Selector Roger Harper is suggesting that the structure of the West Indies team now in England for a three-Test series starting next month, and the expected playing conditions there, precluded the selection of Guyanese spinner Veerasammy Permaul.

Permaul, the 30-year-old slow left-arm orthodox spinner from Guyana, snared 50 wickets during the West Indies Championships that ended in March at an excellent average of 12.98. Speaking with Sportsmax.TV shortly after the season ended, he said he felt that the success he enjoyed would have put him closer to selection to the West Indies senior squad.

“Playing for the West Indies is always my goal every season I play,” he said, “but I wasn’t finding favour with the West Indies selectors. I don’t know how close I am to making the West Indies team, I would think after an excellent season like this one I am not far from playing for the West Indies again.”

However, according to Harper, a fellow Guyanese, Permaul’s success did not get him close enough.

“If you look at the structure of the team; the Test squad and the reserves, you realize that there are not many spinners in the party,” Harper said while speaking on the Mason and Guest talk show in Barbados on Tuesday.

“In England, we looked at the conditions you are likely to face there and the sort of bowlers we will need in the squad and (Rahkeem) Cornwall was selected as a spinner in the squad from his performance in his last Test match.

“Looking at the reserves we thought we would look at a replacement for the positions in the Test team…the panel went for the incumbent who was on the last tour.”

The decision to exclude Permaul did not go down well with Hilbert Foster President of the Berbice Cricket Board in Guyana. Permaul plays his domestic cricket in Berbice.

“The BCB would like to condemn in the strongest possible way the sick treatment being handed out to this outstanding son of Berbice and would like for an explanation to been given on his non-selection," Foster said.

"Has a decision been taken that Permaul's career is over at just 30 years old? Is there another unknown factor for his non-selection? Is he indisciplined? Is he considered just a regional bowler or is he too old?

"We deserve to know as the BCB is, without doubt, the hardest working cricket board in the Caribbean and we would not sit back and watch our cricketers being treated like a second class when they deserve better."

West Indies captain Jason Holder revealed that he is yet to personally face racist abuse, while on the pitch, but was once shocked at the vitriol directed towards South African cricketer Hashim Amla.

The issue of racial injustice has been at the forefront of global discussion in recent weeks, following the killing of an African American George Floyd by a white police officer.  Derek Chauvin was filmed with his knee on the neck of Floyd for nearly nine minutes in a video that prompted anguish and outrage around the globe.

The issue has morphed into a broader discussion on the need for an end to racial discrimination and inequality, with several athletes joining the cause.  Holder noted that although it was important to be professional, the circumstances can be tough for players to take.

“Look, as a player, you just got to be professional and shut it out, but some comments are such that it’s hard to block out. You know some of those comments sometimes make people retaliate,” Holder said during an Instagram talk with sports commentator Arun Venugopal.

“I haven’t personally had to bear the brunt of any of them, but I have seen things with people like Moeen Ali and Hashim Amla [who were subjected to racist attacks]. I have met Hashim Amla, I have played cricket with Hashim Amla. If you probably think I am a nice man, he is the ultimate nice guy, man. He is the nicest person that I have ever met, swear to God,” Holder added.

“And to hear people get down on Hashim and say things or even bring racial comments into it, it is just sad, man. It’s just sad to see the level of intelligence of people,” he added.

 

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