All members of the West Indies team have returned negative results from their third and final COVID-19 tests, conducted on Day 12 of the ongoing tour of New Zealand.

Barbados wicketkeeper-batsman Jamal Smith has labeled out-of-favour West Indies batsman Shai Hope as ‘technically flawed,’  and insists he was never convinced by the player’s Test cricket batting strength, despite heroics in England three years ago.

The 27-year-old was recently dropped from the West Indies squad for the tour of New Zealand, after a nightmare run of form had seen the player averaging 19.48 since December 2017 and just 14.45 since February 2019.

 On the England tour, the scene of his triumph three years ago, Hope averaged below 18 in a 2-1 defeat against England.  Overall, his Test cricket average has slipped to around 26.27.

“He never suggested to me, even with the games where he scored those two wonderful 100s, as far as the red ball is concerned that he is a force to be reckoned with,” the former Combined Campuses and Colleges player turned analyst told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“If I remember correctly, Shai Hope took a long time before he started to score runs in our regional first-class competition and do well…I think we are always looking for heroes.  Certainly, when Shai Hope is on the go, you’d pay your money for two cover drives, but at the end of the day Shai Hope has never suggested permanence at the top,” he added.

“It’s something that at Test level, I keep stressing on his strike rate. He bats about 80 to 90 balls and gets out somewhere between the 15s to 20s.  That suggests more to me, rather than him just having to adjust his mindset, that he is technically flawed.”

Smith believes the break from the team will provide the player with an opportunity to address some of those issues.

West Indies all-rounder Rovman Powell believes the team has adequate firepower to put up a strong fight in New Zealand, despite missing a few key players.

Some of the team’s biggest hitters the likes of Andre Russell, Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, and crafty death bowler Dwayne Bravo will all be missing when they take on New Zealand later this month.

The tour will already be a difficult one, with New Zealand proving to traditionally be a difficult place for not just the West Indies, but any team to play.  Powell, however, not only sees the team as having plenty of talent to cover the missing players but also believes it provides an opportunity for younger players looking to establish themselves.

“If you should look at the depth of the team, I think it’s a very good and strong team when it comes to power hitting, even with those guys missing,” Powell told members of the media from the team’s training base in New Zealand.

“What those guys being missing does is provide an opportunity for us as younger players just before the World Cup, the start of cricket 2021, to put our best foot forward and put good performances in place and hopefully that will carry us in good stead,” he added.

The West Indies will be looking to improve on a record that has seen the hosts win the last four T20 internationals that have been played in New Zealand.

 

West Indies bowling coach Roddy Estwick has revealed that he expects big things from young fast bowler Alzarri Joseph ahead of the team’s tour of New Zealand later this month.

After a measure of some success when the team’s faced off in the Caribbean, the 23-year-old had also been expected to have a solid performance on the team’s tour of England earlier this year.  Those hopes failed to materialise, however, as the bowler toiled but only managed to pick up three wickets in the first two Tests.  He was dropped for spinner Rahkeem Cornwall for the third and final game.

Estwick, who was quick to point out that he has constantly encouraged the young bowler to seize the moment, expects a much better showing this time around, along with the usual suspects Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, and Kemar Roach.  

“I have high expectations of Alzarri Joseph for this tour.  He has been around for a while and I’ve been trying to get him to realise that it’s time now that he really stands up and puts in big performances,” Estwick told members of the media from the team’s training facility in New Zealand on Monday.

“Those four will be very important to us, as you know the pitches in New Zealand are not spin-friendly.  So, the spinners might have to play more of a containing role while the fast bowlers are the key wicket-takers.

Since making his debut against India in 2016, Joseph has claimed 28 wickets in 11 matches.

 

West Indies coach Phil Simmons has admitted concern for the recent spate of injuries suffered by veteran T20 star Dwayne Bravo but insists the player remains in consideration for next year’s World Cup squad once fit and available.

The 37-year-old Bravo, who recently set the milestone of claiming 500 T20 wickets in this season’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL), picked up a knee injury that delayed the start of his India Premier League (IPL) campaign.  Bravo started the IPL four games late but found himself sidelined a few games later, this time with a groin injury.

The injury led to Bravo being ruled out of the team’s tour to New Zealand.  The player’s previous CPL season had also been hampered after he suffered a broken finger.  While admitting it is a source of concern, Simmons has assured the player will remain in the minds of the selectors once he can recover sufficiently.

“It’s a concern because he was injured in CPL and now he’s injured in IPL,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom press conference call from the team’s training camp in New Zealand.

“There’s a break now, so he will go home and do what is necessary for him to be fit enough to play and there are a few series and also another IPL before the World Cup.  So, there’s a lot of chance for him to go and get himself fit and we will see what his fitness is like heading into the tournament.”

 

 

 

 

 

West Indies batting all-rounder Rovman Powell has targeted beefing up his bowling as a means to improve his status as a complete all-rounder.

There can be no doubt that the 27-year-old can be absolutely devasting with the bat, which he has proven on several occasions in recent years. In the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), however, Powell also showed some ability with the ball.  He claimed 5 wickets in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, along with quite a few economic spells.

The player has, however, not been as successful with the ball recently, going without a wicket in the CPL this season.  It is an area he has targeted for improvement.

“I’m a batting all-rounder, for the last couple of years my bowling has fallen off.  It’s something I have sat down and thought about,” Powell said from the team’s training base in New Zealand on Thursday.

“It’s just for me now to work on my bowling and strengthen all three aspects of my cricket," he added.

One area of his bowling he would specifically like to strengthen is how much pace he can generate.

“To get that ex-factor I think I have to bowl a little bit faster.  Looking at the other all-rounders around the world and around the Caribbean, they tend to bowl a little bit faster than I do.  The slower balls and the variation will always come, but you know over the course of my career I have to come up with ways to bowl a little faster and that will give me an edge.”

 

 

 

West Indies T20 batsman Andre Fletcher insists the team will be hoping to claim an elusive series victory in New Zealand, a venue that has been far from a happy hunting ground in recent times.

In fact, over the last two tours, the regional team has lost its last four games in a row against the Black Caps on their own soil, the most recent a 2-0 defeat in 2017.  Overall, the West Indies have won only once in New Zealand, in 2006, with the other result being a draw in 2009.  It is a record the opening batsman hopes can be improved with the current campaign soon to get underway.

“This is my third time in New Zealand.  The team goal for me is to actually make sure that we can win this series.  My individual goal is to make sure I can get as many runs as possible so that I can actually cement my spot in the T20 squad,” Fletcher said in an interview with windies cricket.

In 12 matches for this season’s CPL, Fletcher scored 211, with a high score of 46 and an average of 21.10 for St Lucia Zouks.  The batsman believes he has improved since then.

“I’ve become a more positive player. My shot selection has improved a lot.  I’ve worked hard on the physical part of my game well.  I’ve been putting in a lot of strength work behind the scenes and it pays off,” he added.

 

Recently retired West Indies cricketer Marlon Samuels seems intent on carrying over his most recent feuds with Australian bowling legend Shane Warne and England all-rounder Ben Stokes into his new career.

Despite having not featured for the Windies since 2018, Samuels only officially retired from international cricket this week.  Last week, however, the player made the headlines with vulgar comments regarding Warne, Stokes, and his wife.

The West Indian was heavily criticised by some in the aftermath of the incident, but it seems Samuels is not quite ready to let things go as he has now promised more in an upcoming music track.  Samuels, who has transitioned into entertainment with the stage name Icon, recently revealed, via his Instagram account, that the track will be called Worst Enemy.

“Me just finish the baddest diss song with all 4 of them names.  There is nothing in this world that I can’t do punks.  I will be releasing it to the world, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Caribbean every media house,” wrote Samuels, who has now also included comments about Good Morning Britain television host Piers Morgan on the track.  Morgan had also been critical of Samuels in the aftermath of the incident.

“Piers Morgan.  How you reach ina this?   I can’t remember seeing you around the game of cricket.  That’s not how you speak to a legend.  Yu need to go take a picture at Lords with my number 7 jersey.  Am going live Friday worldlord style.  Got some questions to ask,” Samuels said.

West Indies wicketkeeper-batsman Joshua Da Silva admits he is thrilled with the prospect of another opportunity to showcase his ability after recently arriving in New Zealand.

The 22-year-old was last selected as part of the team’s tour to England after a solid performance in the regional four-day competition.  Da Silva led the T&T Red Force’s batting with 507 runs, a high score of 113, and an average of 50.70.

Da Silva, however, did not feature for the first-team squad, but made a good impression in the warm-up games, leading some to call for the player’s inclusion in the first team.  The player scored 133 not out in the first and 56 not out in the final practice match.  With some experience batting in New Zealand, Da Silva hopes to put in another good performance.

“I’m looking forward to learning a lot like what I did on the tour of England earlier this year. It’s really good to be playing red-ball cricket again and being back with the West Indies team,” Da Silva told West Indies Cricket.

“I played in Auckland and Queenstown … the pitches were always nice and good for batting so I’m really looking ahead to getting out there and performing,” he added.

The West Indies squad begun training in New Zealand, on Tuesday, after being given the all-clear following negative COVID-19 test results.

The team and management unit has been in isolation since arriving in the country last Friday.  Under New Zealand’s rigorous testing program, the team had to spend the first three days in isolation and then return a negative test before they could begin training in small groups at New Zealand Cricket’s High Performance Centre.

The squad must now undergo two further tests on Day 6 and Day 12 before they are allowed to train in larger groups.

 The tour will bowl off with a T20I series against the Black Caps at Eden Park in Auckland under lights. The series then moves to Mount Maunganui for two matches at Bay Oval – the first a day match and the second under lights.  The team will then travel to Hamilton for the first Test at Seddon Park and then south to Wellington for the second match at the historic Basin Reserve.

 

Match Schedule:

November 27: 1st T20I at Eden Park, Auckland

November 29: 2nd T20I at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui

November 30: 3rd T20I at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui

December 3-7: 1st Test at Seddon Park, Hamilton

December 11-15: 2nd Test at Basin Reserve, Wellington

 

 

In a previous edition of this story comments attributed to former West Indies cricketer Roland Holder were, in fact ,made by former England batsman Roland Butcher. Sportsmax.TV unreservedly apologizes for the error and any inconvenience or unforeseen impact that may have resulted from it.

 

Former England batsman Roland Butcher does not believe West Indies Test cricket captain Jason Holder should be recalled to the T20 squad, despite several recent creditable performances in the format.

The all-rounder last represented the regional team in the shortest format of the game in India last year.  Since the resumption of cricket, however, the player has put in a few notable T20 performances.  In the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), Holder was the Barbados Tridents' third-highest scorer with 192 runs in 10 matches and had a high score of 69.  He also made an impact with the ball after claiming 10 wickets, the second-most on the team.

Despite not being initially drafted to the Indian Premier League (IPL), Holder was called up to replace Mitchell Marsh by Sunrisers Hyderabad.  In three matches he has managed to claim six wickets so far.  Albeit being currently just outside of the playoff spots, the Sunrisers are still in contention with a handful of games to go.  The player has, however, not been included in the T20 squad to face New Zealand next month, which Butcher insists is the right call, at this point in time.

“I think Jason, based on his performance in the CPL, could have come in for some consideration, but again, I wouldn’t want to burden Jason, with all the different disciplines he has to play already,” Butcher told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“He’s doing well as Test captain.  He’s an integral part of the 50-over side as a player.  Why would you want to go and force T20 on him at this point in time? He’s one of our player’s that’s performing so why would we want to overload him so that he doesn’t perform.”

 

Cricket commentator Michael Holding believes Nicholas Pooran should be playing Test cricket despite the fact that he has not played much first-class cricket.

West Indies spinner Hayden Walsh Jr insists his confidence heading to New Zealand will not be diminished, despite enduring a relatively poor CPL campaign this season.

The 26-year-old burst on the scene during the 2019 CPL season, when he was the tournament’s most lethal bowler with best match figures of 5 for 19 and a total of 22 wickets.

Walsh struggled to replicate that form this season, managing just 7 wickets in 10 matches, at an economy rate of 7.65.  Notably, the bowler suffered a brutal onslaught from a rampaging Kieron Pollard, which saw him end with figures of 44 for 1 in that match.  Nonetheless, Walsh was selected as part of the T20 squad for the tour of New Zealand next month.

The bowler, however, remains confident of making an impact, perhaps as much as he did in India last year where he was decisive in the second game.

“I would agree that the results didn’t quite go my way, but I was still quite satisfied with the way I was consistent, but as I said, you can’t win all of them all of the time so it really was a good learning opportunity and a good learning tournament,” Walsh told the Antigua Observer.

“That one game or that one over doesn’t determine who I am as a leg-spinner on a whole.  I always try to get back to my feet because my father always taught me that cricket and life go hand in hand.  So, it is just like life, when you fall down today, we still have to get back up the next day and keep going again.”

 

West Indies and Kings XI Punjab star Chris Gayle has been fined 10 percent of his match fee after breaching the IPL Code of Conduct during Friday’s loss at Rajasthan Royals.

The IPL’s release did not specify the nature of the offense but it in all likelihood it was due to an outburst of anger the player displayed after being dismissed during the match.  Gayle admitted to the Level 1 offence 2.2 of the IPL's Code of Conduct and accepted the sanction.

The release read: "Chris Gayle, the Kings XI Punjab batsman, has been fined 10 percent of his match-fee for breaching the Dream 11 Indian Premier League's (IPL) Code of Conduct during his team's match against Rajasthan Royals at Abu Dhabi."

Gayle smashed a whirlwind 99 from 63 balls, on a historic day that also included the batsman being the first player to get to 1000 T20 sixes.  His crowning moment was somewhat ruined by another West Indian, England bowler Jofra Archer, who dismissed the batsman with the very next ball.

An irate Gayle, who narrowly missed out on scoring a 7th IPL century, swung his bat in frustration before congratulating Archer and leaving the pitch.  He became the only player in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to miss a century by a single run on two occasions.

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