Retired Windies batsman Dwayne Smith is expected to head to Asia for the upcoming Everest Premier League where he will represent the Bhairahawa Gladiators.

The much-travelled power-hitter will bring plenty of experience to the Napal-based franchise as the tournament head into its fourth edition.

 The 36-year-old Smith, a former Windies batting all-rounder who made 255 appearances for the regional team, has played for over 14 T20 franchises.  He most recently appeared for the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).  Smith currently averages 26.23 and has played 337 matches.

The signing of the West Indian veteran proved a source of excitement for Gladiators captain Sharad Vesawkar.

"I still can’t believe that the powerhouse of West Indies Cricket and IPL for a long time, Dwayne Smith will be playing under me in the upcoming season of EPL,” Vesawkar said.

“This will do a world of good to the team’s top order and also serve as an exciting opportunity to all the players especially the young ones to observe how the greats go about their game.”

Cricket West Indies chief executive Johnny Grave has insisted the board will look to continue its objective of spreading the sport across regional venues.

Insularity and some amount of bias have often been charges leveled at those who select which grounds will be picked to host international cricket on various West Indies tours.  International grounds in bigger countries have often been given the nod but Graves insists it might not be the case in the future.

“The highest crowds we experienced in this series was in Grenada.  Grenada didn’t have cricket between 2015 and 2019 and I think it is important we spread cricket around our international grounds,” Graves said.

“I think we need to do far more as an organization to promote and market to make sure all the cricket fans and even the non-cricket fans know that the West Indies team is coming to their country to play,” he added.

“I hope everyone understands that policy and we do our best to spread cricket around the region.”

With the exception of Barbados the West Indies' first tour of the new year, against Ireland, was played in Grenada and St Kitts.  The New Zealand New Zealand tour in July will be hosted in Antigua, Dominica, and Guyana, with Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia and Jamaica.

Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt has insisted the strong showing of the U-19 team at the ongoing ICC U-19 World Cup is due to a policy of deliberate investment in youth cricket.

The U-19 Windies, who won the title in 2016, are off to a strong start at the current edition of the tournament after notching wins over Australia, England, and Nigeria.  The team’s latest win, a dominant 246 runs win over their African opponents, ensured that the Windies were top of group B.

According to the CWI president, the team’s strong showing, which has taken many by surprise, is no accident.

“This administration promised that we would invest more seriously and in a more focussed and strategic way on our youth cricket and this Under-19 team is an example of what we set about to do immediately – to give them the best possible preparation going into this World Cup,” Skerritt said recently.

“They have achieved already way beyond the expectations of most people.  They beat Australia, they beat England. We are going to hope and pray that they continue on the path of improvement and performing at their best and whatever the end result of this World Cup is for them they would have made the Caribbean people extremely proud.”

The West Indies commence their first away series of 2020 with three One-day and two Twenty20 internationals in Sri Lanka from February 22 to March 6.

The one-day matches will be the final bilateral series West Indies will play before the Caribbean side and all the top thirteen teams participate in newly formed ICC ODI league that runs from May 2020 - March 31, 2022.

In this new limited-overs cycle, under the 2019 - 2023 Future Tours Programme (FTP) established by the ICC to bring greater context to international cricket fixtures, the seven highest-ranked teams apart from India, who gained automatically entry as tournament hosts, will qualify for the 2023 World Cup.Following the 3- 0 ODI series clean sweeps against Afghanistan and Ireland, the West Indies currently sit in 9th position with 80 points with Sri Lanka in 8th place on 81 points.

A series win for West Indies will move them into 8th position ahead of Sri Lanka in the official ICC ODI Team Rankings, ahead of the first ODI league matches at home in July against current number three ODI ranked team, New Zealand.

The T20Is provide West Indies the opportunity to win their first T20I rubber since the 2-1 series victory over Bangladesh in December 2018 as they continue to build momentum ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia in October 2020, a country where the team won their first T20 World Cup title in 2012.

Director of Cricket Jimmy Adams said the series was important as the team sought to continue steady preparations for the World Cup.

“The Sri Lanka series allows us to continue the process of building towards this year’s T20 World Cup in Australia as well as the longer term goal of automatic qualification for the next ICC Cricket World Cup in 2023. Playing in unfamiliar conditions should be a good test for both of our squads.”

 

Former West Indies coach Ottis Gibson has officially signed on to be the bowling coach of Bangladesh for the next two years.

The 50-year-old Gibson, who also twice served as bowling coach of England and most recently South Africa, will replace Charles Langeveldt, who quit the post in December.  Langeveldt, the former South African cricket coach, spent just five months in the post.

The South African had himself replaced another West Indian Courtney Walsh who left the team following the World Cup.  Gibson is expected to join the team in Pakistan for the three-match T20I series in Lahore later this week.   Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) CEO Nizam Uddin Chowdhury said Gibson's presence will be a major boon for the team.

"He brings in tremendous experience and has coached or played all over the world. He has also had the opportunity to observe Bangladesh cricket from close. I am sure he will be a very valuable addition to the Bangladesh team's coaching group.”

West Indies bowling legend Courtney Walsh will face off against India batting great Sachin Tendulkar with the former players selected as opposing coaches in the Bushfire Cricket Bash.

The charity event teams will be led by legendary Australian players Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne, with proceeds going towards rebuilding efforts in wake of Australia's recent devastating bushfires.

The match itself will be a bigger part of Cricket Australia’s charity efforts and will serve as a curtain-raiser to this year’s Big Bash League final day on February 8. 

Other former players confirmed for the match, called the Bushfire Cricket Bash, including Justin Langer, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Shane Watson, Alex Blackwell, and Michael Clarke. Steve Waugh and Mel Jones will be involved in a non-playing capacity.

"I'm delighted to confirm the Bushfire Cricket Bash will be Cricket Australia's major fundraising initiative to support Australians impacted by the recent unprecedented bushfire emergency," the CA chief executive Kevin Roberts said.

"People the world over have seen the overwhelming images of hundreds of thousands of hectares burnt, precious lives lost, hundreds of properties destroyed and the devastating loss of wildlife as a result of the fires. These images have reinforced the need to get behind organisations like the Australian Red Cross which is responding to the immediate requirements of people who have lost loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods."

Nyeem Young starred with the bat as West Indies sealed a maiden win over Australia at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup at the eighth attempt.

Jayden Seales did the damage with the ball to hustle Australia out for 179 and Young’s measured innings in reply saw West Indies to victory with 24 balls to spare of their Group B opener.

Young was the matchwinner for the Windies with a priceless 61 from 69 balls just as Australia were bearing down on his side’s tail.

"It's good to get a win," Young said. “It doesn’t matter the opponent, but it is good to get it against Australia. I am happy to get it across the line, and I think it shows how we fight with the ball and the bat.”

Australia batted first and were bowled out for just 179. Jake Fraser-McGurk fought a lone battle, with a defiant 84 from 97 balls at the top of the order.

Wickets tumbled around him though as Seales (four for 49) and Matthew Forde (three for 24) ran riot. Patrick Rowe struck 40 to give the young Aussies a sniff, but 179 was well below par.

Windies slipped to 92 for five in the chase, thanks chiefly to a fine spell of leg-spin bowling by Tanveer Sangha whose promise has already seen him feature in the Big Bash League.

His four for 30 ran the Windies desperately close, and they breathed a sigh of relief when his allocation came to an end.

Beyond the mystery of Sangha, West Indies found comfort through Young's mature knock and got home with three overs and as many wickets to spare.

Recently recalled Windies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo is confident the talent of the current squad could see the team return to dominating world cricket in 10 to 12 years.

The 36-year-old recently returned to the team ahead of the ongoing T20 series against Ireland, after nearly four years out of action.  The return to the fold was an unhappy one as Ireland registered a rare win over the hosts.  There were a few bright sparks, however, with Bravo himself claiming 28 for 2.

The veteran all-rounder would also have witnessed up close the new generation of players tasked with taking Windies cricket back to the top.  He admits that he is impressed so far and eager to play a part.

“I feel good to know that I am among this talented squad here and I think these guys have 10, 12 years in front of them where they can dominate world cricket at some point,” Bravo said.

“My role is not to come back and try and take anyone’s spot or to play every game but to try and share whatever knowledge I have and have gained over the years. I believe with a captain like Polly and a coach like Phil (Simmons) that these young players can produce great things for West Indies in times to come.”

Windies skipper Kieron Pollard has pointed out running between the wickets as a key area of concern for the team, on the back of a surprise four-runs loss to Ireland in the opening T20 international.

On the back of a brisk 95 off 47 balls, which included an explosive eight 6s, the Irish posted 208 for 7.  The Windies, led by Evin Lewis’ 53 and a decent all-round team batting performance, made a good chase of the target before running out of enough balls to get there.

In analyzing the match, Pollard commended the bowlers for recovering from a poor start and the batsmen for making a competitive chase of the target.  He, however, believes the team could have done more running between the crease.

“When we were batting we did not have the urgency running between the wickets.  We know we are a good power-hitting team but when the singles are there and the twos are there we need to run hard between the wickets,” Pollard said.

“When Ireland were batting they hit the ball to our fieldsmen and they ran and that is something we did not do,” he added.

In their total, the Windies amassed 142 boundaries with 55 singles as compared to Ireland’s 124 boundary runs and 74 singles.

 

Windies T20 star Andre Russell has insisted he lives for the high-pressure moments after a solid performance with the bat to see Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) side Rajshahi Royals safely into the final, at the expense of Chris Gayle’s Chattogram Challengers.

Russell smashed an unbeaten 54 from 22 balls, which included seven sixes and two fours as the team successfully recovered from 80-4 in the 14th over to reach 164-8 with four balls remaining.  The total saw them claim a dramatic two-wicket win over Chattogram, who had been powered by Gayle’s blistering 60 off 24 balls.

"The plan was just to stay there until the end.  I wasn't worried about the falling wickets but as more wickets fell, it put pressure on me,” Russell told Espncricinfo.

“I just wanted one person from one end, and then let me do my thing at the other end. [Abu Jayed] Rahi stood up with me. Well done to him. I think every run was really important. These scores can be very tricky at times,” he added.

"I love playing in these situations, when it is 12, 13 or 14 runs [needed] per over," Russell said. "Sometimes I love when its like even 15 or 16. I like these challenges. I am strong and I know if I stay as still as possible, I will always have an open mindset and I don't premeditate.”

Rajshahi will face Khulna Tigers in the final on  Friday.

Windies skipper Kieron Pollard has heaped praise on recently returned all-rounder Dwyane Bravo, despite the player experiencing mixed fortunes in a rare T20 international loss against Ireland in Grenada on Tuesday. 

The 36-year-old, who has been out of competitive action at the highest level for several months, got off to a rocky start when he entered the bowling attack in the 5th over.  The bowler conceded 17 runs but recovered to end with 2 for 28, in the end playing a pivotal role in restricting Ireland to 208 for 7.

At one point, on the back of 94 from Paul Sterling and 48 from Kevin O’Brien, the Irish, who set the record for the highest power play score in T20 cricket, seemed set for a much bigger score.

“I thought he was fantastic.  After going for 17 or 18 in his first over a lot of chatter would have been about what’s going on with Bravo, he’s back and he’s expensive but it goes to show the importance of experience in T20 cricket.  You don’t lose a game in an over and he came back to get two crucial wickets,” Pollard said following the match.

Bravo accounted for the wickets of O’Brien, where he got the crucial breakthrough, and later removed Garth Delany.  Pollard also commended spinner Hayden Walsh.

“Hayden Walsh in all the carnage that was taking place as well, he bowled two overs on a trot and he was consistent with his line and length.”

 

 

 

Recently recalled Windies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo is confident of providing part of the solution needed for the team regarding its noted lack of quality in the fast bowling department.  

The 36-year-old was recently recalled for the team’s upcoming series against Ireland after being out of international action for four years.  During the time, however, the all-rounder has enhanced his reputation as one of the sport’s premier death bowlers.

Chairman of selectors Roger Harper admitted that a primary reason for Bravo’s inclusion is geared towards bolstering the team’s death bowling.

"Death bowling is an art," Bravo said in a recent espncricinfo interview.

"Not many people around the world have really nailed death bowling to the T. If you ask anyone in world cricket to name five death bowlers in the last decade, definitely my name will come along with Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell Starc,” he added.

"It is not an easy time of the game, that's why it is called death. A special skill is required to bowl in those situations. Most times, if you have the ball in the death overs, and you don't win the game, everyone turns to you, and says, "okay, it is because of the last over.”

With the team’s struggles containing batsmen during the middle and death overs, often on full display, as it was at the ICC World Cup, Bravo hopes to serve as a mentor to a new generation of West Indies bowlers.

“My motivation also to try and work with current bowlers. There's [Sheldon] Cottrell, there's Keemo Paul, there's Alzarri Joseph, there's Oshane Thomas, there's Kesrick Williams. Collectively all of us have to get better, myself included. But with the experience that I have, I can get them to understand the importance of certain deliveries and when to bowl certain deliveries and work on a better finishing game plan."

Windies skipper Kieron Pollard seemed to make good on his promise to take ‘tough decisions’ after being dissatisfied with the team’s performance in the second ODI against Ireland.

Top-order batsman Shimron Hetmyer was dropped from the team’s line-up for the third One Day International (ODI) against Ireland, on the back of what has been general frustration with the looseness of his stroke play in the first two matches of the series.

On Sunday, however, the skipper seemed to make it clear the move was just a temporary one with Hetmyer expected to return to the team’s line-up later this week.  In the two ODI games played, Hetmyer made 14 runs and was caught on both occasions after questionable shots.

“We spoke about working hard and the discipline and what is required for the team.  He is a very important player for us and it is a discussion that we had.  We need him to settle down and bat the way that we know he can bat.  In India he did it very well for us,” Pollard said following the match.

“These things happen, it just goes to show the dynamics of the team we have, Sunil coming in and getting that opportunity as well.  We want guys to be very, very hungry because there are other guys knocking on the door so we can’t relax and take anything for granted,” he added.

“At the end of the day, all is well that ends well.  He is a jovial guy.  He has helped out throughout the day and we look forward to him making runs in the T20 series.”

Windies top-order batsman Evin Lewis has cautioned that he is hungry for runs after what was in many respects an underwhelming performance in 2019.

The 28-year-old batsman went the entire season without scoring a century after eight appearances, despite getting over the half-century mark on three occasions.  In fact, the last time Lewis did make it to triple figures was in 2017.  On Sunday, in the third and final ODI against Ireland, he ensured that the trend would not continue after scoring 102 in a comfortable win and series sweep over the tourist.  

The left-hander had come close to a ton once again but failed to convert to triple figures in the first ODI eventually being stuck on 99 not.  Now with 306 runs in three matches under his belt to start the season, which earned him man-of-the-series honours, Lewis is looking forward to a good year.

“I’ve been working hard in the nets with the batting coach.  I’ve been trying to open up a little more and hit the ball straight down the ground and it has been working so far,” Lewis said following the match.

“To be honest with you I have been hungry for runs.  My last ODI century was in 2017, so this year I’m very determined and I just want to make the best of it,” he added.

“Sometimes when I score 50 I get a little ultra-aggressive.  It was a great opportunity to put my head down and bat.  We weren’t behind in the game, we were in control most of the time.  Going forward I just want to continue batting like that.”

Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie has admitted that the team is distraught after coming up just short against the Windies in a low-scoring thriller at Kensington Oval on Friday.

In the end, pace bowler Sheldon Cottrell smashed a six off the penultimate over of the match to give the hosts a one-wicket win.  However, at several points during the match the Irish seemed on the verge of securing a rare win over the Windies, with the hosts struggling at 3 for 24, 4 for 76 and 7 for 148 before heroics from Khary Pierre, Alzarri Joseph and Cottrell lifted the team to 242 for 9.

Before Cottrell’s heroics, the big pacer only narrowly just avoided being run out at the bowler’s end.  Cottrell was a long way short of his ground when but was given a reprieve after the third umpire determined Mark Adair failed broke the stumps with his hand before the ball actually hit the wicket.

The drama in the final over was not yet over with Cottrell finding himself stranded three-fourth of the way down the pitch after Hayden Walsh failed to take a second run but luckily, the return throw went to the wrong end and Cottrell, despite slipping on his way back, managed to return to the striker's end safely.

“I can’t really fault guys now, they’re all distraught now actually.  We have thrown everything into the game and come up short and that will definitely haunt us today,”  Balbirnie said.

“We’ve lost a game of cricket, which is usually disappointing…I backed the bowlers to keep their heads, we have skillful enough bowlers.  Garry Wilson came up with an outstanding bit of fielding that almost won us the game but like I said I can’t fault our bowlers.  We have put in two really good efforts with ball and in the field and hopefully, we can come up better in the third ODI.”

 

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