Former Windies bowler turned commentator Ian Bishop has heaped high praise on the current India pace attack, drawing comparisons to the relentless West Indies bowling units of the 1970s and 80s.

With a line-up that included the likes of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, and Colin Croft, the West Indies team of that era became a nightmare for opposing batsmen.  The four-pronged bowling attack was relentless but also possessed some skill to go along with sustained aggression.

Despite initially being known for producing top-class spinners, India has in recent years produced a fearsome pace bowling attack of their own.  The likes of Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, have proved capable of rattling even the best batting line-ups around the globe.

Bumrah has arguably been the pick of the pack and has developed a reputation for terrorizing opposing batsmen with pace and movement, despite a relatively short run-up.  Ironically, it was the West Indies that were rocked back by the bowler last year when he put on an outstanding display during a series between the teams, particularly during a Test match at Jamaica’s Sabina Park.  Bumrah returned outstanding figures of 6-16 from 9.1 overs - including just the third Test hat-trick by an India bowler.

“When you have three fast bowlers, sometimes four and an excellent spinner, it takes my mind back to the West Indies pace quartet before my generation, the Marshalls, the Holdings, the Garners, the Roberts – I’ll stick Colin Croft in there,” Bishop told Cricbuzz in Conversation.

“There is no release point, two come out, two come on.  There is no flow of runs and there is always a threat of penetration and physical harm to a lesser extent.  That is one of the things that makes this group of fast bowlers excellent.”

The Ultimate Test XI is done and the fans have made their votes count, overruling a panel of experts and the SportsMax Zone to pick two spinners in their line-up.

From jump street, the fans looked as if they would not be swayed by the opinions of the Zone and the panel, who had to get their ducks in a row if they wanted the final say on who makes SportsMax’s Ultimate XI.

Whereas all were agreed that India’s Sunil Gavaskar was probably the greatest opener the world has ever seen as was a shoo-in for the first opening spot on offer, the fans disagreed with the panel and the Zone on the other opener. Hands down, Fanalysts believed Gordon Greenidge, despite boasting a lower average than most in the Ultimate XI Test shortlist, was the man for the job.

The Fanalysts were outvoted as the Zone, who had 30% of all votes and the panel, who had another 30, believed Australia’s Matthew Hayden the man to walk to the crease in partnership with Gavaskar.

Then there were other differences of opinion. According to the panel, the greatest middle-order batsmen of all time, read Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, and Sir Vivian Richards.

The Zone team, despite being made up of solely Caribbean journalists, disagreed. Sir Viv, they said could not fill the third spot in that middle order ahead of an Australian, Sir Donald Bradman.

The Fanalysts agreed and put the weight of their 40% of the vote squarely behind the Australian great.

So now the fans missed out on one of their picks for opener and the panel missed out on one of their picks for a middle-order batsman.

At the allrounder position and the wicketkeeper position, there was unison as Fanalysts, Zone and panel believed Sir Garfield Sobers should fill the former position, while Australia’s Adam Gilchrist is the best the world has ever seen don gloves.

It is in the bowling category that the most controversy was expected and that’s where the most variance occurred.

According to the Zone, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose, Wasim Akram and Muttiah Muralitharan would provide the greatest bowling attack the world has ever seen.

The panel disagreed.

The panel, believed Marshall a shoo-in, New Zealand’s Sir Richard Hadlee could not be left out, and South Africa’s Dale Steyn was the final pacer to make up a bowling attack that had one spinner in Muttiah Muralitharan.

Hadlee never stood a chance for the Fanalysts, and neither did Steyn for that matter.

For the Fanalysts, a choice between Muralitharan and Warne, the two bowlers with the most wickets in the history of Test cricket, was too difficult to make and they picked both.

That left space for just two pacers and the all-West-Indian pairing of Marshall and Ambrose was the obvious choice.

With 30 per cent of the vote going to Hadlee, and another 30 per cent going to Steyn, Warne easily made his way into the Ultimate XI with the Fanalysts offering him up with their 40.

Based on all the Ultimate XI profiles have told you about these players, tell us who was right.

Were the fans who got their way with Bradman and the two spinners right? Or is there something to be said for the experts who went with Hadlee and Steyn, or even the Zone, who decided on Akram?

Were the Fanalysts accurate in going against the grain with picking Greenidge ahead of Hayden, or were the Zone and the panel correct in overruling them?  

Crazy or not, we are trusting the Fanalysts again with our Ultimate XI ODI team. 

Check out the shortlist below, tell me who you would pick in the comments section on Facebook and Twitter then go and vote after we tell you how wrong you are. Voting begins later today after the SportsMax Zone on SportsMax.tv.

 

Brian Lara made his ODI debut against Pakistan on November 9, 1990. He made just 11 then but he would go on to amass more than 10,000 runs in his career, which perhaps was not as exceptional as one might have come to expect from one of the greatest batsmen who ever lived.

He made his first ODI hundred, 128, on February 19, 1993, against Pakistan and would add 18 more over the span of the next 14 years until his final game in 2007. His 169 against Sri Lanka in October 1995 was his best score in the limited-overs format, averaging 40.48 over the course of his career.

Along with his 18 ODI hundreds, the little magician from Trinidad also fashioned 63 half-centuries in the 299 matches he played.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Brian Charles Lara

Born: May 2, 1969, Cantaro, Santa Cruz, Trinidad

Major teams: West Indies, ICC World XI, Marylebone Cricket Club, Mumbai Champs, Northern Transvaal, Southern Rocks, Trinidad & Tobago, Warwickshire

Playing role: Batsman

Batting style: Left-hand bat

Height: 5 ft 8 in

 

ODI Career: West Indies (1990-2007)

Mat        Inns        NO         Runs      HS     Ave        BF           SR        100s        50s                    

299         289          32         10405    169     40.48     13086      79.51        19           63          

 

Career Highlights

  • 2nd most runs in ODIs for the West Indies
  • Scored 19 centuries and 63 fifties in ODIs
  • 1st player for the West Indies to pass 10,000 ODI runs
  • Scored 10,405 runs at an average of 40.48

Chris Gayle had a relatively quiet start to his international career but eventually established himself at the top in both Tests and ODIs for the West Indies. His aggressive streak sees him fit into the Virender Sehwag and Viv Richards school of batting. He is unstoppable on his day, smashing hapless bowlers, regardless of whether they bowl pace or spin. Gayle built a niche for himself in international cricket: it gets in the zone, the ball usually disappears. Though his average is on the lower side at 37.83, his 25 centuries and 54 half-centuries mark the most by a West Indian, and that is saying much, given that Brian Lara hails from the Caribbean as well. Gayle is also handy with the ball, bowling his gentle offspin from about nine feet up, he has bamboozled 167 batsmen with variations in flight and pace.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Christopher Henry Gayle

Born: 21 September 1979 (age 40)

Place of birth: Kingston, Jamaica

Batting style: Left-handed

Bowling style:   Right-arm off-break

Playing role: Opening batsman

 

ODI Career: West Indies (1999– present)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs     HS     Ave      BF          SR       100s    50s     4s       6s     

301      294    17      10480    215    37.83    12019     87.19      25      54      1128   331   

 

Career Highlights

  • Highest run-scorer for the West Indies in ODIs
  • Second West Indies player (after Brian Lara), and 14th overall, to pass 10,000 runs in ODIs
  • Most centuries by a West Indian (25).
  • In World Cup 2015, he hit the fastest ever ODI double century, against Zimbabwe, off 138 balls
  • Is one of just two batsmen to ever score a World Cup double century

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose was typically content to let the ball do the talking but recently recalled an occasion when he was tempted to let his fists answer a few questions of their own.

Desmond Haynes first made his name on the international scene with 148 at Antigua in a One-Day International against Australia.

Until recently, he held a number of ODI records, including most runs and most centuries.

The 148 against Australia remains the highest number of runs ever made by a batsman on debut in an ODI as well as the fastest century scored by an ODI debutant.

He played in the World Cup of 1979, won by the West Indies, and returned to the competition in 1983, 1987 and 1992.

In 25 World Cup matches, Haynes scored 854 runs at 37.13 with three fifties and one century.

Like most West Indian openers, Haynes was strong against pace and, after struggling against spin early in his career, developed into a strong player of slow bowling, exemplified by his knocks of 75 and 143 against Australia on an SCG dustbowl in 1989.

 

Career Statistics 

 

Name: Desmond Haynes

 

Born: February 15, 1956, Holders Hill, St James, Barbados

 

Major teams: West Indies, Scotland: Barbados, Middlesex, Western Province

 

Batting style: Right-hand bat

 

ODI Career: West Indies (1978-1994)

Mat        Inns        NO         Runs      HS          Ave        BF           SR           100s        50s           

 

238          237        28           8648      152*      41.37     13707      63.09          17           57                         

 

Career Highlights

  • Scored the highest century ever by an ODI debutant (148)
  • He played 4 world cups for the West Indies between 1979 and 1992
  • He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1991
  • Scored 8,648 runs at an average of 41.27

West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel is hopeful of returning from injury in time to be selected for a planned Test tour of England.

The Windies and England are attempting to organise a three-match series - to be held behind closed doors - for July, with games pencilled in for July 8, July 16 and July 24, according to Johnny Grave, the Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief executive.

Grave also confirmed a 25-man squad, including 10 reserves, will travel to the United Kingdom in the week commencing June 8.

Gabriel has not featured in the longest format since September 2019, having struggled with an ankle injury which subsequently required surgery in November last year.

Now, the paceman is focusing on stepping up his rehabilitation with the aim of returning to the fold for the series.

"It's a good feeling always to represent West Indies. It's good to be back out on the park," he told i955FM.

"The plan is right now to try to make it to the tour to England - hopefully that comes off. I'm just trying my best to stay positive and I hope everything goes well.

"It has been a long journey since November when I did the surgery on my ankle. Everything is going well, it has been a long process in terms of getting back to running and bowling and stuff like that.

"I am trying my best to be as fit as possible so I'm really working hard in terms of my fitness and managing my weight, trying not to get too heavy to put too much strain on my ankle. So I know once I put in the hard work everything will be okay in the end. I just want to stay positive.

"There has been no high-intensity work, I'm just taking my body back into it easy, taking it one day at a time and not trying to push too hard but it's still long while before the first Test in England and by that time I'm sure I'll be fit and ready."

With cricket having been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gabriel does not expect it to be an easy transition for many players to return, especially with physical-distancing measures introduced by the ICC.

"It's going to take a lot. It's going to be mentally taxing on the brain but you have to stay positive. Keep your mind fresh," Gabriel said.

"I know they [England] are going to be coming at us all guns [blazing] at us, but I know the guys

"Plus plenty of the guys haven't been playing any cricket, so it is going to take us a while to get back there. On the positive side, you're still getting the opportunity to play cricket and represent your country so that in itself should be enough motivation."

In 1993 the West Indies went into the fifth and final Test of a series against Australia at Perth tied at 1-1 and a number of brilliant performances made the game a one-sided affair, giving the visitors a not-so-close 2-1 victory.

A decision on whether the West Indies will go ahead with their three-Test tour of England could be made by Thursday this week, CWI CEO Johnny Grave has said.

Tony Astaphan SC, attorney-at-law for former Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Dave Cameron, has taken exception to the appearance of what he termed a diminished sense of ‘collective responsibility’, considering some of the accusations levelled against his client in the recent audit report.

The financial report, which singled out Cameron for criticism on several occasions, was commissioned by the current CWI board and conducted by independent auditors Pannell Kerr Foster (PKF).  Among other things, it raised concerns regarding an inadequate accounting system that enabled financial irregularities to go unreported.

Cameron’s legal team has already requested a copy of the contentious document, which has already been leaked, but Astaphan has also been quick to point out that the structure of the CWI remains a board of directors and all decisions were taken and approved at that level.

“If the auditor is in fact making so-called findings on matters that were dealt with by the board and they are so concerned about irregularities and abuses; the directors, including the present ones, from top to bottom, are going to have to come forward and explain their votes to the region and the shareholders,” Astaphan said on the Mason and Guest radio show.

“You can’t just decide to throw one man overboard and say well there goes Cameron swimming down the lagoon again.  Collective responsibility is very important,” he added.

The lawyer strongly rejected the notion that the board members were bullied into voting by the former president, as has been previously suggested.

“It was said that the directors were subservient, subservient, grown men, grown independent men, successful businessmen, politicians and all were subservient to Cameron, that is why they went along with the votes.  As a Caribbean man I would consider that to be contemptuous of my position on the board.”

“There is an implication that there was this and that but everyone went along with Dave Cameron like the pied piper and the rats into the pond.”

The image of a former West Indies Women’s team representative left to hobble around in pain for years because of an injury sustained while on national team duty is certainly enough to bring tears to your eyes.

My thoughts, of course, turn to former Barbados women’s team captain and Windies women all-rounder Shaquana Quintyne, who sustained a devastating knee injury during the regional team’s preparation for the 2017 Women’s World Cup.

Three years and four surgeries later the player is not only unable to return to the sport but is, if reports are to be believed, at times unable to walk due to excruciating pain.

First let me say, based on the evidence that has been made available so far, we must dismiss the notion that Cricket West Indies (CWI) has done nothing to help the young player.

No one disputes the fact that the regional cricket body paid for consultation and three separate knee surgeries sometime between 2017 and 2018, plus the requisite rehabilitation. 

With cruciate ligament surgeries ranging from anywhere between an estimated US$5,000 and US$15,000, the organisation has clearly spent a pretty penny.

If we are to believe CWI CEO Johnny Grave, and there is no reason we shouldn’t, then the organisation also deserves commendation for adding Quintyne to the Total and Permanent Disablement policy even though it came into existence after she was injured.

Despite all that, however, the fact remains that Quintyne is still not back on her feet. I don’t know what the overall prognosis was, and cruciate ligament injuries are known to be a serious issue, but with athletes known to require multiple surgeries and several specialists before things are made right, I’m not quite sure that all has been done to safeguard the future of Quintyne. 

In any case, she is 24 years old and was injured in the line of duty so to speak. If she is unable to continue her cricketing career, she should at the very least be able to lead a pain-free, or pain-minimized existence as she looks to take what must certainly be new, uncertain steps in her life.

The CWI might not have a contractual obligation to do so, but certainly, a moral one and continued assistance for the player would go a long way in sending the right message to current and future generations.

I listened to Grave speak eloquently and passionately about the organisation’s desire to repair relationships and care for players. It is indeed a very positive mindset to have.

It is a well-known fact that for years, in one way or the other, the major bone of contention between the regional cricket board and regional players has had to do with the fact that players, rightly or wrongly, believe they are often short-changed and abused by the board. They are of the opinion that a profit-making board does not care about their well-being. 

What better example than Quintyne’s case to show that any such narratives are things of the past and send a clear message to a new generation of players looking to give their all to regional cricket, ‘we will always take care of our own.’

The dim view taken of the board in such matters involving players is not just held by the players themselves, but many fans of the regional game as well, who are once again watching with keen eyes. There are some cases that your reputation and the ability to enhance it will always be worth more than a few dollars.

In some cases, football clubs, for instance, have been known to make significant investments in the health of the player without reaping a tangible reward. 

At 31-years-old, former Arsenal midfielder, Santi Carzola had to undergo as much as 10 surgeries on a troublesome ankle injury, which eventually nearly cost him his leg, and saw him spend three-years out of the game.

In 2017, despite the player having not appeared for the club for some time, Arsenal extended him a one-year contract in order to allow him the opportunity to fully recover. He never appeared for the club again, but sometimes it makes sense to be about more than just dollars.

The CWI clearly does not have Arsenal’s resources but shouldn’t be willing to give up on Quintyne, her health or future just yet.

Legendary West Indies captain Clive Lloyd agrees in principle with former players stepping in to provide mentorship for the new generation but has called for a careful screening process to get the best outcome from the experience.

The 75-year-old Lloyd has been respected for generations, not just for his cricketing ability but steady and inspiring leadership, which saw the West Indies lift back-to-back ICC World Cup titles in 1975 and 1979. 

With the team currently a long way from those heady days of success, several former players have pointed to the issue of mentorship as a missing element in the current team’s success and have been quick to offer their assistance to rectify the problem.  Not so fast, says Lloyd.

“We have to find out how strong they are in certain departments.  You can’t just say this guy is going to be this when he isn’t suited for that role.  You have to find out what strengths he or she has,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“I’m talking about players that have done extremely well, have been through the mill, and can pass the knowledge on," he added.

 "Not every great player can be a teacher but there are certain aspects and things that they are strong at, and that is what we have to search for, so that when we have a player coming through and they get to Test level they are not learning on the job they have already qualified.”

 

A quick look at the stats of legendary South African all-rounder suggests that he should not just routinely be part of conversations that speak about the best all-rounder of all-time but perhaps the best of all-time.

Instead, it seems the South African has been found short of ground in another routine legend ranking discussion, finishing behind the incomparable Garfield Sobers and it seems struggling to finish ahead of Imran Khan, in the latest Ultimate XI Test cricket all-rounder choice.

Let’s get this straight, if Kallis is to come up short it will certainly never be on the weight of his statistics.

The batsman’s Test record compares favourably with almost any other batsman of modern times.  In terms of run scored, his total of 13,289 is third on the all-time list, bettered by only Ricky Ponting (13,378) and Sachin Tendulkar (15,921). 

In fact, Kallis has scored some 1,336 more runs than Brian Lara, a man who is generally considered as one of the four best batsmen of all time, and in some instances, the best. In terms of averages, he has a higher average than Lara, Tendulkar, Dravid, and Ponting. Compared to batsmen who have made debuts in the past 30 years, only Kumar Sangakkara, Steve Smith, and Adam Voges (who only played 20 Tests) can top Kallis’ career average of 55.37.

His 45 Test centuries is second on the all-time list behind Tendulkar’s 51 and four ahead of Ponting and lest we forget he was just short of 300 Test wickets with 292 at 32.65.

But, despite constantly etching his name above the greats some have found it easy to dismiss Kallis's case because he lacked one factor many of his contemporaries possess. He was unspectacular.

The South African simply got the job done with very little fanfare. Best summed up in his own words; “I think it was my personality. I never really enjoyed the limelight, I liked going about my business and just getting on with the job. I never played the game for accolades or anything like that.”

For some, that has been enough to relegate one of the greatest players of a generation to a mere consideration, or well below what his achievements merit in the debate on greatness, but it shouldn’t be.

West Indies spinner Rahkeem Cornwall has vowed to 'stick to what he knows', despite being the subject of recent criticism from legendary spinner Lance Gibbs.

The 85-year-old Gibbs, undisputedly one of the region’s finest ever craftsmen in the disciple of spin bowling, was critical of the performance of the current crop of regional spinners on a whole.  His issue with Cornwall stemmed from what he described as the spinner’s short run-up and ‘lack of rhythm’.

Cornwall, who has insisted he only just heard of the remarks has insisted he is not fazed by the criticism as it was impossible to make everyone happy.

“I am not really on social media that much to see some of those things [comments] and if one or two people don’t say something to me I may not see it but I just don’t really dig too deep into it,” Cornwall told the Good Morning Jojo Radio Show.

“I really can’t stress on that, everybody has their own opinion and if you dwell on every opinion you will find yourself get mixed up in all sorts of things so you just have to control what you can control and when the opportunity arises to go and perform you just make sure you stick to what you know and perform,” he said.

The burly spinner, who made his debut for the West Indies against India last year, was recently named as part of a CWI 29-member preparatory squad for a possible tour of England.

Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt has insisted the organisation is in process of implementing several recommendations of a recently commissioned audit, which promises to deliver on previously stated targets of governance reform and financial transparency.

Recent news reports had pointed to financial irregularities discovered after an audit of the CWI balance sheets, which pointed to what was deemed to be, among other things, the improper handling of funds in a recent transfer. 

According to Skerritt, however, issues that have affected the organisation as it relates to governance structure and financial management systems were already being address in two previously commissioned reports.  The Accounting and Management Consulting firm of Pannell Kerr Foster (PKF) was employed to examine the organisation’s financial practices, with a task led by Senator Don Wehby expected to review governance systems.  The CWI president pointed out that PFK had already flagged several issues and that the recommendations suggested were already being adopted by the organisation.

“In carrying out its assessments PKF uncovered some illustrations of questionable executive standards and practices. It verified and emphasized the need for drastic operational reorganization and realignment, with an urgent need for improved risk assessment and cash flow management. The PKF consultants accordingly presented their report in person to the CWI Board of Directors in December, and their twenty-eight (28) recommendations were unanimously adopted,” Skerritt stated via press release.

The recommendations were said to include; Reinforcing the President’s role as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board, with responsibility for strategic policy and governance, while empowering and supporting the CEO and his management team with full responsibility for all operational aspects of the organization; realigning the organisation’s leadership, reporting, and functional structure, to enhance accountability and reestablish clear lines of authority and responsibility; strengthening internal controls and ensuring timely reconciliation and reporting of all accounts; and modifying fundamental management practices to ensure transparency, and best practices.  It also called for discontinuing the operations of the Executive Committee of The Board and reporting to the Board on a timely basis, the accurate financial situation.

Skerritt has insisted the organisation did not consider the report for general release because it was an internal matter.  The CWI will now decide whether to release it in full.  According to the president, the recommendations from the Wehby report will be known in a few weeks.

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