West Indies coach, Phil Simmons, believes batsmen must avoid the temptation of being too tentative in looking to navigate the Sri Lanka spin attack, as the team looks to bounce back in the third and decisive T20 international, on Sunday.

The Windies took the opening match of the series with a comfortable four-wicket win, with 41 balls remaining.  On Friday, however, Sri Lanka came roaring back to claim the second match after a star performance from the team’s spinners.

Lakshan Sandakan and Wanidu Hasaranga proved particularly hard to negotiate, each claiming three wickets, with Sandakan boasting a miserly economy rate of 2.73.  In pursuit of Sri Lanka’s 160 for 6, the Windies were restricted before being bundled out of 116.  Things had not gone smoothly against the spin in the first match, despite the result, with Akila Danajaya claiming a four-for, including a third over hat-trick before being taken apart by Windies captain Kieron Pollard who smashed 6 sixes off his over.  The coach believes a similar approach could pay dividends in the decider.

“The key is playing them in the right way.  You can’t be too tentative when you are playing against good spinners,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Saturday.

“We have to still go out there and look to score against them and playing cricket how we know how to play cricket,” he added.

“All the guys who played IPL would have played against these spinners or even better spinners and done well, so that is what we have to make sure we do tomorrow.”

West Indies captain, Kieron Pollard, insists he is not surprised by a fierce response from Sri Lanka as the tourist levelled the T20 series at 1-1 following a 43-run win on Friday night.

After setting a fair target of 160 for 6, the Sri Lanka spinners, led by Lakshan Sandakan and Wanindu Hasaranga, spun a restrictive web that eventually had the Windies all out for 117.

On Tuesday, chasing a smaller target, the Windies had been able to smash through thanks in large part to a fierce 38 from Pollard.  This time, however, it was the Sri Lanka spinners who took centre stage.  Particularly Hasaranga, who accounted for Gayle and Simmons, in his 3 for 17, Sandakan accounted for Pollard.

The captain, however, had special commendation for the bowling unit who restricted Sri Lanka late in the innings after a fast start.  Danushka Gunathilaka, who top-scored with 56, partnered with Pathum Nissanka to put on a blistering 94 off the first 10 overs.

“If you told us we were going to bowl them out for 160 today, we would have taken that.  I just know that we did not assess the situation quickly and we had a couple of soft dismissals," Pollard said following the match.

“They got off to a flyer and scored 90 odd in the first 10 overs, but these things happen.  You don’t expect them to come and lie down and just roll over.  I thought the guys came back in the last 10 overs and really executed with the yorkers and slower balls, using the dimensions of the pitch and the ground,” he added.

 

Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga led a withering spin attack which left the West Indies scratching their heads as the host pulled level with a 43-run win in the second T20 international on Friday.

Batting first, anchored by a resilient half-century from Danushka Gunathilaka (56), the Sri Lankans posted a creditable 160 for 6 after winning the toss and choosing to bat first.  Gunathilaka and Pathum Nissanka put on a blistering 94 off the first 10 overs.

In response, the Windies were also off to a strong start at 45-1 before losing five wickets for just 21 runs.

 Chris Gayle, who made a first-ball duck on Wednesday in his first appearance in two years, didn’t comfortable in making 16 before falling to a catch by Ashen Bandara off Hasaranga.

Opener Lendl Simmons (21) was next out, lbw failing to pick a Hasaranga googly.

 Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder, and Dwayne Bravo all followed quickly for single-figure scores.

Hasaranga ended with 3-17, off-break bowler Akila Dananjaya, who was the victim of Kieron Pollard's midweek assault claimed 1-13.  Wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan took 3-10, including accounting for Pollard who made just 13.

Dananjaya earlier accounted for Evin Lewis who made six.  Hasaranga added Fabian Allan to his list of victims with the West Indies then struggling on 89-7 in the 16th over.

With more than 22 an over required, Sandakan then got the wicket of Pollard, who was caught in the deep for just 13 having surprisingly opted to bat at number seven.

The final match of the series is on Sunday.

 

Former West Indies opener turned pundit, Philo Wallace, believes the poor performance of the Barbados Pride in the recent regional Super50 tournament provides even more evidence that selectors should stick with Kraigg Brathwaite as captain for the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka, as Jason Holder has ‘lost the art of captaincy.’  

Brathwaite received plenty of plaudits for leading an understrength Windies squad to an unexpected 2-0 Test victory in Bangladesh earlier this year.  Brathwaite, who had been axed as vice-captain the series before, was put in charge of the squad after regular captain Holder was one of 12 players to opt-out of the tour after citing health and safety concerns.

Since then, the debate has raged fiercely on both sides regarding whether the panel of selectors should return Holder to his original position or stick with the momentum achieved by Brathwaite in the unexpected win.  Wallace falls firmly in the camp supporting the latter.

“I believe that there is a shift with what Brathwaite did in Bangladesh, something happened in Bangladesh that brought a 2-0 victory for the West Indies and 2-0 defeat for Bangladesh at home,” Wallace told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Kraigg Brathwaite and that management team did something right.  The head coach said he saw a difference in attitude.  He saw a different type of vibe with the guys.  Are we going to kill that vibe as we return to Antigua? Or are we going to rekindle that vibe and take it into the Sri Lanka series,” he added.

“Jason has lost the art of captaincy.  There are no tactical moves.  We just saw a Super50 competition he captained six games and we lost 5.  We had a team 87 for 8 and we could not crush them.  The captain who is 6ft 6’ could not take up the ball and bowl three devastating yorkers and bowl out the team for under 120.  That is what we call leadership, you take it up and you do it yourself.”

 

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, insists the team will resist the impulse to chop and change without giving players enough opportunity to showcase their ability.

The regional team ending up beating Sri Lanka in the first T20 by a fairly comfortable margin, in the end, but things did not always look so straightforward.  Overall, a few of the players did not have the expected impact straight out of the gate for the Windies.  This was particularly the case with the batting line-up where three players, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran and Fabian Allen were dismissed for ducks.

In pursuit of the modest target of 131 for 9, the Windies were rocked in the third over by an Akila Dananjaya spell, which saw the dismissal of Evin Lewis, Gayle, and Pooran.  Gayle was batting in the unfamiliar third spot, which worked well during this season’s IPL campaign.

Pollard is adamant he is, however, in no hurry to change things around, particularly after one game.  In fact, he believes the practice is one that has hurt the team in the past.

“If we are honest with ourselves, that’s one of the problems that has plagued us over the years, the constant chopping and changing when things don’t go right after one or two games,” Pollard told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Thursday.

“We don’t expect miracles from people.  Sometimes you have to give them a chance and opportunities to fulfil what they are trying to achieve and after a period of time you can make a judgment call,” he added.

“After one game I don’t think we are even thinking of doing any changes or anything like that.  We need to get away from the fact that if a guy doesn’t perform, not exclusively using Chris for example, but any individual that has played one or two games, thinking they are not good enough and just be looking to discard them."

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, hailed the role of the team’s experienced players in a four-wicket win over Sri Lanka, in the opening game of the three-match series on Wednesday.

In the end, the West Indies coasted to the line, in fairly comfortable fashion, with some 41 balls left, but at times the result had not always seemed like a foregone conclusion. 

With the ball, the team put in a dominant performance and restricted Sri Lanka to 131 for 9 at the end of 20 overs.  In response, things also got off to a flyer with openers Evin Lewis (28) and Lendl Simmons (18) putting on 52 for the first wicket.  However, following the dismissal of Lewis, by Akila Dananjaya, in the third over, the team found itself in a real instance of concern with a flurry of lost wickets.  Dananjaya took a sensational hat-trick removing big hitters Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran for ducks.  Simmons departed the very next over to leave the West Indies struggling at 62 for 4.  /a captain’s innings from Pollard (38), which included a savage 6 sixes off Dananjaya, however, went a long way to restoring the situation.  Jason Holder, who added a resilient, unbeaten 29 from 24 balls, safely carried the team over the line following Pollard's dismissal. 

“The objective was to win the game and we did that, obviously there’s a couple of kinks to iron out, we have not played T20 cricket in a while. We had a couple of guys coming back into the set-up as well so we’ll take the win and have discussions about how we want to continue playing," Pollard said.

“In terms of the batting collapse we have had, we have seen that but what is good is that this time around we got over the line with the experienced guys like Jason, using all his Test experience, Bravo using his experience as well.  Having said that, well done to the openers for the start that they gave us, so we were able to cruise on the back end.”

 

 

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, believes the team's current mix of youth and experience is an ideal balance and should be a blueprint going forward.

With the return of veteran batsman Chris Gayle and pace bowler Fidel Edwards, along with the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Jason Holder, and Pollard himself, to call upon, the West Indies has plenty of firepower to begin the series against Sri Lanka and build-up to the ICC World Cup, which will be held in India, in October.

With many of the above players forming parts of World Cup-winning teams, in the case of Simmons, Bravo, and Gayle on multiple occasions, the team has an unrivaled amount of title-winning know-how.

Added to the firepower of a younger generation, led by the likes of the explosive Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen, and Andre Fletcher the two-time World Champions could have the perfect ingredients for another powder keg.  With Gayle being the oldest members of the squad to face Sri Lanka, at 41, and Kevin Sinclair the youngest at 21, the average age of the squad is around 30.

“We’re excited to have certain individuals back.  We excited as well to have the younger players trying to get an opportunity as well.  I think the way to go forward is having that sort of mix,” Pollard told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

“In the team, we have youth and experience.  The youthful guys can learn from the experienced guys.  These are some of the things that have been missing throughout, from 2016 till now, can we say we have put out our best T20 team to go to any series or anything like that.  There was always different things happening in the midst of it.”

West Indies star batsman, Chris Gayle, has admitted he contemplated retirement from international cricket but could not turn down the call to don the colours of the regional team once again.

Gayle, now 41, had initially announced his intention to retire following the 2019 ICC World Cup.  The player then targeted the One Day International series against India, shortly after the World Cup, as possibly his final hurrah.  Following a standing ovation received following the series, the batsman seemed to have a change of heart.

Two years later, however, the batsman has found himself in fine form and, on the back of an outstanding IPL campaign for Punjab Kings, could once again prove a major force for the West Indies with the ICC World T20 tournament on the horizon.  As such, the player was recalled to the T20 squad as the team begins a series of matches that will lead up to defending its title in India.

“Back then I thought about actually walking away from the game and people said, no, don’t do it, stay and play for as long as possible.  I decided I would actually continue playing the game of cricket,” Gayle told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

“I wasn’t looking down this road.  I thought of playing franchise cricket and exploiting my talent to entertain the people as much as possible.  When I got the call and they asked if I was willing and interested, I said yes. Once I’m playing for the West Indies that’s where my heart is.  I’m never going to turn down anything pertaining to West Indies cricket,” he added.

“I decided I was full-on, I was actually in a tournament and they said ‘you know Chris this is the structure we have in place, so we need you to be a part of it, we need you to fit into what is basically set for the team, so I basically agreed to it.  I came back from Pakistan to be part of the set-up leading into the World Cup.”   

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, has pointed to the fact that the senior players recalled to the team have consistently proven their value with high-level performances, which has not always been the case with younger players who got the opportunity.

The recent recall of veteran players Chris Gayle and Fidel Edwards, who are 41 and 39, respectively, caused consternation in some quarters.  Some argue the selection of such senior players may have taken opportunities away from younger players looking to secure places in the World Cup squad.

Pollard, however, insists that several players have been given an opportunity in recent years and have failed to consistently provide what the team has needed.  With the reigning World Champions currently ranked at 10th in the ICC rankings and the World Cup just a few months away, Pollard believes it’s time to prioritise winning games.

“Some of the guys have gotten opportunities when we started off in 2019, I believe, and it hasn’t produced the results that we might have wanted on a consistent basis.  Guys were still in and out for non-cricketing reasons and stuff like that,” Pollard told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

“These guys (Gayle and Edwards) continue to perform despite their age and one thing that has been said throughout is that the door is open to each and every individual, once you show that you can perform at the highest level,” he added.

“We need to start winning cricket matches, we need to win series…so we have to strike a balance.  We are the defending champions of the T20 World Cup and we have to get into that winning habit.  If it’s the case that we have a couple of extra senior guys to start that process, so be it.”

 

 

 

West Indies talismanic batsman, Chris Gayle, has stressed the massive importance of talented players like Shimron Hetmyer to the regional set-up and vowed to speak to the young batsman regarding staying focused on achieving his full potential.

The 24-year-old Hetmyer will miss the upcoming T20 and One Day International (ODI) matches against Sri Lanka after disqualifying himself from selection because of a failed fitness test.  The player, who recently took part in the Regional Super50 competition, will return to the team for the Test squad after subsequently passing another fitness test, along with Roston Chase.

Of concern, however, is the fact that Hetmyer also failed a fitness test administered at around the same time last year and a result missed out on some matches of an away series to the same opponents.

“It’s very unfortunate that he is out of the squad for fitness reasons but there is a protocol and things put in place.  It is beyond my control but it is up to him if he really wants to represent the West Indies and to really help West Indies cricket because he is such a talent,” Gayle told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Monday.

“West Indies cricket needs that type of talent, it’s just unfortunate and hopefully things work out and these guys take it seriously.  These guys are the future.  A guy like Hetmyer, with his talent, he is the future.  We need him, we definitely need his talent,” he added.

“We don’t want to lose such a talent, so if I see Hetmyer I will try and have a talk with him.  I’ve spoken to him before and I will do so if I get the chance again.”

 

When Joshua Da Silva dedicated his 92-run match-winning knock in Bangladesh to Andrea Bharratt, Ashanti Riley and other Trinidadian women who have been victims of violence, he did so in part because a recent horrifying incident made the matter personal.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) Director of Cricket, Jimmy Adams, has reiterated the fact that special consideration is given to players who could have physiological limitations or chronic conditions when fitness assessment tests or conducted, as is often the case in standard international practice.

In the light of the omission of batsman Shimron Hetmyer from the West Indies squad, ahead of the tour of Sri Lanka, based on the player failing to meet the requisite fitness standards, critics have pointed fingers towards other members of the team they doubt are able to meet the requirements.

While a few expressed doubts about legendary batsman Chris Gayle’s fitness level, the majority pointed to the continued inclusion of Rahkeem Cornwall.  The off-spinner is listed as 6’ 7” and 308 pounds but has performed creditably for the West Indies on a few occasions, most recently against Bangladesh.

“As is best practice around the world, there are going to be times when players for different reasons might be unable or incapable of achieving minimum standards either across the whole battery of tests or certain aspects of it,” Adams told members of the media via a Zoom press conference call.

“There are exemptions that are given to these players and the four main areas that are considered for these exemptions would be the player’s age, individual physiological limitations, their injury history, and also their training history.  This is standard across many high-performance environments and we are no different,” he added.

“There are quite a few players that have been exempted under one of these four headings and it is something that I think maintains robustness about the situation.  If I go back and look at an Indian spinner in the 70s who had a withered arm, if he were to have an upper-body strength test he would not be able to complete that test and therefore in that area he would have to have an exemption,” Adams said.

“It is there ensuring that we do not discriminate against players that have issues, injuries, long-standing chronic things that might prevent them from completing some of these tests.”

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief of selectors, Roger Harper, hopes the selection of veteran players like Chris Gayle and Fidel Edwards gives young players a good idea of the kind of standard required for selection heading into the team's World Cup title defense later this year.

The talismanic batsman, Gayle, who is 41-years-old, and Edwards, who is 39, were both selected as part of the T20I squad ahead of the team’s upcoming series against Sri Lanka.

 Despite being past the age many other players have retired from the sport, both men have expressed an interest in representing the team at the T20 World Cup, in India, in October.  On the back of an impressive IPL campaign, for Kings XI Punjab, few would have issues with Gayle suiting up.  Edwards would have been more of a question mark, however, as he was not available for selection, due to a Kolpak contract, for the last eight years.  The bowler recently showed he is still more than capable of hostile bowling at express pace.  In the recent Abu Dhabi T10 league final, Edwards was seen hurrying young in-form compatriot Nicholas Pooran.  According to Harper, despite the player’s age, he still brings exceptional quality to the team.

“I would hope it (selection) sends a message to the young players of the standards they need to attain,” Harper told members of the media via an online Zoom press conference.

“You would recall in some of the T20 games, for example in New Zealand, us losing some games and where we were deficient,” he added.

“I would hope the message that is sent is that these are the standards we need to attain and the sort of players that we need to have in these sort of teams; guys who will work harder at developing their skills to get to that level.”

 

 

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) Director of Cricket, Jimmy Adams, has insisted players are well aware of the minimum fitness requirements needed to be considered for selection before even individual form is considered.

Based on an agreement between CWI and the West Indies Player Association (WIPA), players must achieve a rating of 40 during the evaluative yoyo fitness test to be considered for selection. 

Adams comments come on the back of the recent non-selection of talented batsman Shimron Hetmyer for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka.  The 24-year-old had looked in splendid form based on a scoring a majestic 112 in the semi-finals of the CG Insurance Super50 competition, which lifted Guyana to the final.  Hetmyer, however, clearly fell below the 40 percent stipulation.

“The policy asks for a minimum standard in certain aspects of the fitness testing.  So on the yoyo intermittent test, that minimum standard is 40 and for a couple of years we have had selection tied to the achievement of that minimum standard,” Adams told members of the media via an online press conference chat on Saturday.

“It’s pretty simple and all the players are aware of it.  Failure to get to 40 makes them unavailable for selection.  So when the panel sits, the first thing that they will consider,before looking at the teams and the squads they want to put together, is who are the players that are available through achieving that minimum standard,” he added.

The occasion was the second that Hetmyer missed out on making the minimum fitness standard, after failing a fitness ahead of a tour against Sri Lanka in February of last year.  The player last represented the team in the New Zealand series in November and was called up but opted out of the tour to Bangladesh earlier this month.  The test is conducted twice per year.

Trinidad and Tobago Red Force captain, Kieron Pollard, believes the team’s all-round balance should be enough to deliver a 13th regional 50-over title, with a win over Guyana Jaguars, in the final of the CG Insurance Super50, on Saturday.

A dominant Red Force squad has certainly set the marker as the team to beat this season, and a seventh straight win will cap a flawless performance.  In advancing to the final, the Red Force coasted to a comfortable 6 wicket win over the Jamaica Scorpions with 47 balls remaining.

In fact, it is the Red Force who handed today’s opponents, the Guyana Jaguars, their only loss of the season so far, on that occasion also a comfortable win.  Pollard believes the team’s dominance so far has been down to getting the personnel just right.

“In terms of personnel, I think we have the right mix – in terms of experience, in terms of youth, in terms of wicket-taking ability, in terms of flexibility in the batting order and stuff like that,” Pollard said.

“We tried to cover all bases and it has shown that each and every individual that has come into the team has done well despite their varying roles. We’re very flexible in what we’re doing and we take everything on a game-by-game sort of basis.”

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