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.”

 

Veteran Windies batsman Chris Gayle has admitted he is not a fan of the proposed four-day Test cricket format, insisting that shortening the game would lessen some of its appeal.

Gayle, who has scored a total of 7214 runs in 104 Test matches, with a high score of 333, is no stranger to the format.  The player last set foot in the Test area six years ago but has not lost the affinity for the grueling nature of the longest format.

It is of little surprise that Gayle recently added his voice to the throng of players and former players that have come out strongly against the possibility of reducing five-day Test matches to four-dayers.  The topic is expected to be discussed by the ICC over the next few months.

“I am not a fan of that (four-day Tests). I played 100 Tests, I mean a few finished in three days, a few in four but five days Test cricket is the ultimate and to have a four-day Test…I am not a big fan of that,” Gayle said.

“It has set the trend and it’s been there for ages so why go and mess with that. If they give other players a chance to experience that, it can be a life-changing experience to play five-day cricket. It is a mental state so that you can cope in life as well,” said Gayle.

 Indian captain Virat Kohli, South African skipper Faf du Plessis, English captain Joe Root and Indian great Sachin Tendulkar are among the other players to have spoken out in opposition to the change.

Windies star Chris Gayle insists he hopes to play for another five years or at least as long as possible.

The left-handed batting talisman turned 40 earlier this year and had initially speculated about retiring after the ICC World Cup.  Gayle, however, had a complete change of heart regarding that possibility and now insists that he believes he still has a lot to offer to the sport.

The West Indian already has a long list of accomplishments which includes being the highest ODI runs scorer for the West Indies, and having the most centuries with 25.  Gayle is also the first batsman to score a triple century in Test cricket, a double century in ODI cricket and a century in T20 internationals.

Despite his long list of accomplishments, however, Gayle believes he still has plenty to give to fans of the sport and league's around the world.

“A lot of people still want (to) see Chris Gayle out there in the middle. I still have that love for the game and that passion for the game as well. And I would love to carry on as long as possible,” Gayle said in a recent interview.

“Forty-five is a good number. Yeah, we can target 45. Let’s target 45, that’s a good number,” he added.

“Even in franchise cricket, I am still playing a few games here and there around the globe because I still feel I have a lot to offer.  The body is feeling good. And I am sure I am getting younger as days go on.”

 

Prime minister of Grenada and outspoken CARICOM official Dr Keith Mitchell believes the use of promising Windies talents over multiple formats could prove a hindrance in their future development.

Currently, the likes of Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, and Shai Hope, who lead a group of the next generation of talented Windies players, play both the 50 over and T20 formats or all three.  The practice is not at all uncommon as the evolution of the sport has offered different advantages to players taking part in multiple formats.  Particularly the lucrative T20 format, which offers major cash incentives.

Mitchell, however, believes that different temperaments and various styles needed to be successful in the different formats could prove damaging to young players still honing their craft.

"We have some talented players, the Poorans and Hetmyers and so on. I’m not sure that the right thing is to play these young people in all formats of the game at this point in time,” Mitchell explained in a recent interview.

“You have talent in Pooran and Hetmyer – these guys on the 50-over and on the Test team, we’d be moulding these guys. But when a guy gets used to sixes and sixes and hitting the ball in the air in the 20-over game which they must do, I think the mindset if they’re not well-developed yet … you can be spoiling a talent that is there for the [longest] version of the game and the 50-over game,” he added.

“That’s my opinion; I might be wrong … but in watching it from the sidelines, I think it is something [CWI] and selectors must look at – do you need to play these young players in all versions of the game? I’m not sure that’s the right thing to do.”

Veteran Windies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo has been revealed as the face of 10PL World Cup, a UAE-based tennis ball cricket tournament.

The 36-year-old Bravo will be heavily involved in the proceedings from start to finish, beginning with the tournament launch press conference in February, to a celebrity appearance on the final day.

 The tournament, now in its third year, has garnered increased interest for this edition with a reported 40 teams in pursuit of just 20 spots.  The first two editions of the tournament saw 16 teams take part.  Bravo has indicated his delight at both the association with and taking part in the tournament.

 “I am delighted to be the face of the 10PL World Cup of tennis ball cricket tournament. I have learned a lot of my key tricks that I'm sure many of the players in the tournament will employ, especially the use of slower ball and Yorkers,” Bravo said.

“The tournament, therefore, promises to be the perfect platform for raw talents to showcase what they are capable of. I am really looking forward to this competition,” he added.

Meanwhile, Abdul Latif Khan, who is the chairman of Petromann Events has expressed delight with having Bravo onboard.

 “It is an absolute honour to have Bravo as the face of the tournament. In the coming days we will be unveiling a campaign with Bravo to further raise the profile of the tournament,” he said.

The tournament is expected to take place between the 8-13 of March.

The West Indies under 19 team’s preparations for the World Cup are well and truly underway with the side already in camp in Johannesburg since Saturday.

The camp is set to run until January six days before the January 17 start of the World Cup.

Coming out of the camp, the West Indies u19s go into official warm-up games against Canada on January 13 and Scotland on January 15.

The West Indies are in Zone B of the World Cup group stage where they will face Australia, England and debutants, Nigeria.

According to Cricket West Indies, the players have been preparing well, given the exposure that has been afforded them through trial games in the Rising Stars Under-19 tournament, with players from the Super50-winning West Indies Emergin Players team, joining the World Cup outfit, as well as a skills camp in September of 2019, and two tri-series competitions against England and Sri Lanka in the Caribbean.

According to U19 coach, Graeme West, the two tri-series against England and Sri Lanka were instructive.
“The encouraging aspect of the Tri-Series was that the team got into strong positions in five out of the six games that were played, the bowling unit functioned well and was backed up by some impressive fielding that was enhanced by the introduction of Fielding Specialist, Julien Fountain. The batsman came out of the series with a better understanding of the skills they will need to deliver in order to achieve the team targets that have been set and the camp will certainly focus heavily in these areas,” said West.

“The six games has given each player a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities they will need to fulfil for the team to succeed. Equally as important was the time the players and coaches spent together to discuss, review and reflect on the cricket that was played and identify how each player can move their game forward and give more to the team.”


WEST INDIES UNDER-19 WORLD CUP SQUAD:

Kimani Melius - Captain

Nyeem Young

Ashmead Nedd

Leonardo Julien

Kevlon Anderson

Daniel Beckford

Matthew Forde

Joshua James

Antonio Morris

Mbeki Joseph

Avinash Mahabirsingh

Kirk McKenzie

Ramon Simmonds

Matthew Patrick

Jaden Seales

 

TEAM MANAGEMENT

Graeme West (Head Coach)

Kenny Benjamin (Assistant Coach)

Dwain Gill (Manager)

Dinesh Mahabir (Analyst)

Khevyn Williams (Physiotherapist)

Martin Gallyer (Strength & Conditioning Coach) 

Julian Fountain (Fielding Coach) 

Cricket West Indies has instituted a mandatory rest period for Test captain Jason Holder in what seems to be a calculated bid to avoid overuse injuries or player burnout.

Holder, who was a part of the team’s recent tour of India, will be rested for both the three-match ODI and Twenty20 series against Ireland.  The player will also be unavailable for his regional team Barbados in the upcoming four-day competition fixtures.

“Jason will be rested during the Ireland series and will be unavailable for Barbados until the end of the series against Sri Lanka in February. He will then be assessed coming out of the SL series and a decision made and communicated on what his regional workloads will be for the later rounds of the 4-day competition,” CWI Director of Cricket Jimmy Adams told Barbados Today.

With a busy 2020 coming up, which will includes the team’s defense of the T20 World title, another player targeted for load management is fast bowler Kemar Roach.

The bowler is not in the Barbados team for the opening match against Windward Islands Volcanoes in St. Vincent following a request from Cricket West Indies (CWI) that he plays six of the maximum ten matches.

“We see the need to manage Kemar and Jason’s workloads to get the best out of them for 2020," Adams explained.

 

 

Windies in-form batsman Shai Hope has labeled adaptability as a key component to his recent success and expects to successfully replicate his good form in the coming year.

The 26-year-old batsman has been the regional team’s top runs getter in the ODI format for 2019 and third overall in the world, behind the Indian duo of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.  At year-end, the right hander plundered 1345 runs at an average of 61 with four hundreds.

Often finding himself nestled between power hitters, Hope’s unflappable nature and timely stroke play often proved crucial in whatever success the Windies team had.

“The key is knowing your role in the team and knowing how it affects your batting partners, so the key is about standing your role. I think everyone in the team is starting to understand their role and it’s making our batting performances a lot more successful and consistent,” Hope said in a recent interview.

“It’s about being adaptable. I believe that adaptability is the biggest thing in cricket, especially when you’re playing [different] formats,” he added.

Hope recently produced a strong showing against the world’s top-ranked ODI team India.  It was his unbeaten hundred in the series opener in Chennai which helped the Caribbean side take a 1-0 lead but knocks of 78 and 42 in the remaining matches failed to prevent defeats.  The young batsman insists he remains focused on improving.

“[It’s] about improvement. Obviously you want to score more runs as a batsman but the key is about gaining things, adding things to your game and improving as a cricketer.”

 

Ireland coach Graham Ford insists the team will arrive full of confidence heading into a limited over series against the West Indies at the turn of the New Year.

The teams are scheduled to play a three-match series in both the ODI and Twenty20 format, which will be the first full series for the 9th ranked Windies and 11th ranked Ireland.  The Windies are expected to be a significant challenge for the Irish following a strong showing against top-ranked India under new captain Kieron Pollard.  Ford, however, insists that the tourist will see the tour as one filled with infinite possibilities.

“There is a confidence and self-belief around the camp which comes from recent successes, and we’re looking to build on that in 2020,” Ford said in a recent interview.

 “Being our first-ever multi-format tour of the Caribbean, there is certainly a bit of a buzz around the squad and come the seventh of January, we’ll be more than ready to begin what is an exciting year in Irish cricket,” he added.

"We are very aware of the big challenge that we have here playing away from home coming out of the winter with only indoor training. The West Indies have been playing really good cricket and just pushed the number one team in the world (India) all the way and could have come out on top."

The first ODI scheduled to bowl off in a week’s time at the Kensington Oval.   The second ODI is also scheduled for Kensington Oval on January 9, with the Grenada National Stadium hosting the final ODI.

Grenada will be the venue for the opening T20 international on January 12 before Warner Park in St Kitts will host to back-to-back matches on January 18 and 19.

West Indies have beaten Ireland in seven of 10 ODIs and two of four T20s to date.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) is set to welcome a new kit sponsor, Castore Sportswear, onboard for the new year after agreeing to a three-year deal reportedly worth £3m (US$3,903,300).

The new sponsorship deal will come as good news for the Caribbean cricket team, which has struggled in that particular area for the past several years as they are set to name a third sponsor in two years. 

The team’s most recent deals included a three-year contract with Australian sportswear brand BLK, signed in 2017, and a two-year agreement with Caribbean hotel chain Sandals in 2018.

For the English-based apparel franchise, who are relative newcomers to the sportswear market, the deal represents a significant escalation as the Windies will become the company's first major sports team deal.  Castore previously signed British tennis star Andy Murray in March.  The partnership with the West Indies is expected to commence in June when the team tours England before heading to Australia to defend the T20 World Cup title.  Castore chief executive Tom Beahon framed the partnership as an arrangement that should mutually benefit entities in similar positions.

“We see an opportunity to partner with like-minded teams who like us are aspirational, but see themselves as challenging,” Beahon told the Financial Times.

“Realistically, we’re not going to sponsor Real Madrid in the next two or three years but in the level below those trophy assets, there are teams and countries who are looking for a partner who will invest in them more than maybe the big guys will do.” 

West Indies all-round legend Sir Garry Sobers has warned England fast bowler Jofra Archer is not yet the finished article, as the bowler has struggled to make a significant impact in recent appearances, after a brilliant start to his career.

The 24-year-old Barbadian born fast bowler captured the attention of the world with a brilliant showing for England at ICC World Cup. Archer then went on to steal the limelight in the 2-2 home Ashes draw with Australia, taking 6-45 in the third Test at Headingley and finishing the series as the third leading wicket-taker with 22, despite only making his debut in the second Test.

The player, however, then struggled in New Zealand recently, returning figures of just 2-209 in England’s 1-0 series defeat.

“One swallow does not make a summer,” Sobers said of the players start to life in international cricket.

“Jofra has a lot of talent and the potential to go a long way, but how far depends on him.  You see a promising player come along and do well for a series, which maybe gives an inflated impression of his ability. If he thinks, ‘Oh, I’ve got it now, I’ve done this, done that’, there’s a danger he will not fulfill his potential,” he added.

“He must recognize the harder he works, the better results he will get.”

Archer will feature for England in a Boxing Day Test against South Africa at Centurion.

 

Shai Hope is the most prolific One-Day International batsman to his first 3000 runs the West Indies has ever seen.

On Sunday, during a losing effort against India , Hope struck a single to get to 35 runs and with it, reached 3,000 runs in ODIs.

Sir Vivian Richards, long known as the most fearsome ODI batsman the West Indies has ever seen, took 69 innings to get to 3000 runs, while Lara, the greatest the region has produced and arguably the greatest of all time, took 79 innings to do so. Hope was playing his 67th innings on Sunday.

Gordon Greenidge, who formed part of the greatest opening ODI parternships in West Indies history with Desmond Haynes, achieved the milestone in 72 innings, while one of the greatest exponents of white ball cricket, Chris Gayle took 80 innings.

In fact, there has only ever been one batsman in world cricket to get to 3000 runs faster than has Hope, with South Africa’s Hashim Amla owning the record of the quickest to the milestone of all time, getting there in 57 innings.

Hope would go on to score 42, as the West Indies went on to post 315, a total India got to for the loss of six wickets in the 49th over.

On the way to 316-6, Rohit Sharma scored 63, KL Rahul, 77, and Virat Kohli, 85, to smother the efforts of Hope, Nicholas Pooran, 89, and Kieron Pollard, 74.

Hope had also scored 102 not out and 78 in the previous two games, taking his tally to four centuries this calendar year, along with seven half-centuries.

The West Indies lost a T20I series to India, 2-1, and suffered the same result in a three-match ODI series that ended Sunday.

West Indies middle-order batsman, Shimron Hetmyer, while happy for a second chance at the Indian Premier League, isn’t focusing on the lucrative, high-profile show, in which his price tag suggests he needs to play a starring role.

Hetmyer was discarded by the Royal Challengers Bangalore after just one season but scored a brilliant century in the first One-Day International against India, as well as a few attractive-looking cameos in T20 Internationals against the same team, inclusive of his first half-century.

The left-hander went for US1.1 million to the Capitals at the IPL draft but wasn’t paying any attention to it, choosing instead to focus on the final game his Windies side have against India on Sunday.

The teams go into that third ODI locked at a game apiece.

“I wasn’t really looking too far ahead about it (auction). Really and truly I was just thinking all about the West Indies,” he said.

Hetmyer believes it is what has happened while playing with the Windies that makes him an attractive sell in the IPL and he doesn’t want to quickly forget that.

“They have brought me [here] and made me the person I am today so all thanks to the West Indies for just giving me the chance to represent [them]. I just do my thing and it’s all for the team,” he said.

Windies fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell is raring to go after he landed a million-dollar contract from the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) earlier this week.

Cottrell entered the draft at a base price of US$70,400 but found himself the subject of a bidding war, with Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab displaying more than just a passing interest.

That interest catapulted his value to US$1.2 million with Kings XI eventually coming out tops.

“I’m really looking forward [to] that,” the Jamaican left-armer said following the auction.

“I am very thankful and humbled at the same time, and just to play alongside Chris (Gayle) and Nicholas (Pooran), KL Rahul – just some of the names – I’m very elated.”

Cottrell  earned his place among the elites of T20 cricket after a year in which he bagged 30 wickets from 23 One-Day Internationals and 14 from 12 T20 Internationals.

Even a disastrous World Cup campaign for the West Indies did little to stop his momentum, the pacer collecting 12 scalps despite.

Though his good bowling has not resulted in many wins for the West Indies, Cottrell doesn’t believe he could have achieved what he has this season without his teammates.

“Without my teammates [and] West Indies, I wouldn’t have made it here in my personal view,” he pointed out. “They have backed me 100 per cent and I just want to tell them thanks.”

Before all that though, Cottrell will be eyeing another good performance for the West Indies in the deciding game of three-match ODI series against India in a few hours time.  

 

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