Windies cricket analyst Fazeer Mohammed insists it would be difficult to argue against recently recalled batsman Darren Bravo’s spot in the squad, based on merit, due to the lack of quality options available to the regional selectors.

The 29-year old batsman has been called to the team ahead of the Test series against England, his first inclusion in a regional team for the game’s longest format in two years. 

Having been out of the game for an extended period, Bravo, who boasts a Test average of 40, would hardly have had a recent record of form to recommend him to the squad, having only played one match in the ongoing West Indies Championship. 

Following a disastrous tour of Asia, however, a board of selectors looking for changes and experience could hardly be expected to pass over the talented batsman.    

“He has justified it on reputation not performance, as far as first-class cricket is concerned,” Mohammed told the SportsMax Zone.

“If you use the yardstick of having played a lot of first-class cricket to confirm your spot it would be difficult as he has only played the one match for the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force the previous weekend,” he added.

“The fact of the matter is that the cupboard is pretty much bare when it comes to West Indies cricket at the moment and therefore you would have expected changes following the embarrassment in India and Bangladesh.”

Bravo ran afoul of the regional body in 2016 after calling Cricket West Indies boss Dave Cameron a ‘big idiot’ in a tweet.

Uncapped John Campbell and Shamar Brooks could make their debut in the England series but both batsmen average under 35.  Are their better options available?

Out-of-favour batsman Darren Bravo is set to rejoin the Windies Test team for the first time in two years having been selected for the upcoming series against England.

The 29-year-old Bravo has often been considered one of the region’s most promising prospects in the game’s longest format, an area that has seen the team struggle mightily in recent years.  Bravo, however, ran afoul of the cricket board in 2016 after a tweet that called CWI president Dave Cameron a ‘big idiot’ surfaced on his Twitter profile during a contract dispute.

Following talks late last year the way was clear for the player to return to the unit and was recalled to the Windies one-day squad but was yet to be included in the longest format. 

Bravo is expected to be joined by debutants John Campbell, a 26-year-old left-handed opener from Jamaica, and Shamarh Brooks, the former West Indies Under-19 captain. 

Windies chairman of selectors Courtney Brown insisted on the back of disappointing tour of Bangladesh that the time was right for changes with the series coming up on home soil.

"After a difficult Test Series in Bangladesh late last year the opportunity presents itself for our team to pick itself up," said Brown.

 "Although a tough series against England is anticipated, home turf has always been a place where our team has made strides."

Retired Windies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo has lamented a lack of opportunity to make a bigger impression at the international level.

The 35-year-old called time on his international career last year, following a 12-year stint with the regional team.  At the time of his retirement, the Trinidadian native had, however, not played Test cricket since 2010 or an ODI game since 2014.  In T20 international’s Bravo had fared a bit better playing his last match against Pakistan in 2016.

During his playing days, Bravo was among a group of senior players that often found themselves at odds with the regional governing body (then WICB) and infamously captained the team that abandoned the tour of India in 2014 over a wage dispute.

The player, however, continued to play T20 League cricket going on to be considered as one of the best all-rounders in the world.

“I could have achieved a lot in international cricket, but it was cut short.  I am happy that I was able to represent West Indies at the international level.   Not too many people get the opportunity to represent their country,” Bravo said.

 “I am fortunate enough to have been a part of the West Indies set-up for more than 12 years.  I enjoyed every moment of it.  I haven’t achieved much (at international level), having not got too many opportunities.  Such is life.  There are some things you don’t have control over.  But my career went on and my brand developed even bigger without playing international cricket because I was able to play around the world and fans welcomed me.”

Legendary West Indies captain Clive Lloyd believes more regional players should be given a chance to lead the unit in the wake of the appointment of Englishman Richard Pybus to the post.

The 54-year-old former director of cricket and head of the high-performance centre was appointed to the position on an interim basis last week.

 According to Cricket West Indies, (CWI) Pybus will oversee the upcoming series against England and this summer’s ICC World Cup campaign.  Despite the position being announced as temporary, the former Pakistan and Bangladesh coach was selected ahead of several former West Indian players that had shown an interest in the post.  Among them was former opener Desmond Haynes.

 “I heard about it but I thought they were quite a few names put forward and I think somebody had said that Desmond was one of those names,” Lloyd told the popular cricket radio show, Mason and Guests.

“What I would like to see in the future of our cricket that people like Gordon Greenidge, who has coached all over the place, and Desmond Haynes [given a chance]. These guys know about cricket and our cricketers and they are not getting a chance to show what talents they have, and I think it is about time we start to do something of that nature,” he added.

 “We’ve tried a lot of overseas coaches and we’re still at number eight [in Tests] and number nine [in one-dayers].”

Wicketkeeper/batsman Jahmar Hamilton is to captain a CWI President’s XI squad to face off against the visiting England team for two two-day matches, the first of which begins on January 15 at the 3W’s Oval in Barbados.

Windies players hoping to gain selection for the regional team will have to meet a new fitness benchmark set by Cricket West Indies (CWI).

In a bid to match international standards, players will now be subject to the Yo-Yo Endurance Test.  The move follows the recommendation of the board’s sports medicine and science team.

The test consists of a commonly used endurance metric method developed in Denmark by football physiologist, Dr. Jens Bangsbo.  The test evaluates an individual's aerobic endurance fitness. 

Grave, who explained that the implementation of the test was geared towards overall performance improvement, explained that it would have an immediate impact on player selection.

“Player fitness at elite international level is a key ingredient of successful teams. To maintain and improve fitness standards, the CWI Board has now set a benchmark standard that is tied to eligibility for selection, using the Yo-Yo Endurance Test following the recommendation of our Sports Medicine & Science team,” said Grave.

“It has also mandated that this benchmark must be achieved for players to be eligible for selection to the squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 England & Wales. The CWI Board has also agreed that any exceptions would be subject to its approval through its medical panel.”

Windies batting star Chris Gayle had a tough debut for Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) team Rangpur Riders on Tuesday, despite a comprehensive win over Comilla Victorians at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.

The 39-year-old batting talisman had missed out on taking part in the team’s opening match against Chittagong Vikings after delays in acquiring a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Cricket West Indies (CWI).

The opener, the champion team’s top run-scorer last campaign, had a forgettable debut facing five balls before being caught by Anamul Haque off the bowling of Abu Hider.  The total posted by Comilla had, however, never been a challenging one as only Shahid Afridi provided any resistance when the team was all out for 63.  Riders then chased down the target scoring 67 runs in 12 overs losing only the wicket of batting sensation Gayle. Rilee Rossouw and Mehedi Marul remained unbeaten on 20 and 36 respectively.  Hider took the lone wicket conceding 11 runs.

Gayle had managed to make an impact in the field for the team after catching Afridi off the bowling of Nazmul Islam.  Rangpur will play their next match against Dhaka Dynamites on January 11.

Opener Montcin Hodge crafted an entertaining half century that left Leeward Islands Hurricanes in the ascendency against Trinidad and Tobago Red Force on day three of the West Indies Championship, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy on Sunday.

Beginning the day at 149-4, Red Force were eventually dismissed for 252 still some 173 runs short of the Leewards massive first innings total.  Overnight batsman Jeremy Solozano was dismissed soon after the resumption, managing to add just two runs to his overnight total of 78.

In chase of the big total, the Leewards batsmen lost wickets at regular intervals with only Denesh Ramdin(31), Brian Charles (39) and Joshua Da Silva (19) offering any further resistance.  Rahkeem Cornwall was the most of the Leewards bowlers after claiming figures of 4 for 73.  Alazarri Joseph also had had some success with the ball after claiming 3 for 8, while Jeremiah Louis captured two.

In their second time at the crease, Hodge fired an unbeaten 77 off 127 balls as the team with Cornwall adding 22 from 23 as the Hurricanes made 168 before declaring.  Shannon Gabriel was the pick of the bowlers the second time around for T&T after claiming 3 for 35.  In response, the Red Force were 26 without loss and needed 316 to win on the final day.

 

 

Cricket West Indies have clarified its position on new Windies head coach Richard Pybus, saying the appointment is an interim one, as the organization seeks to find a head honcho from within the region. 

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John Williams claims the organization has taken steps to clear outstanding match fee amounts due to members of the country’s national team.

According to reports, members of the country’s national squad have considered taking strike action ahead of upcoming friendlies to protest months of non-payment of fees. 

Several players claim they had been owed match fees since the October 2017 World Cup qualifier against the United States.  In addition, they also claimed John Williams and members of the association proved elusive in addressing the issue.

With the twin-island republic expected to play Wales next month in their next friendly, however, John Williams has insisted the organization is making significant steps to resolve the dispute.

“TTFA has begun to pay the players.  We have around three games outstanding for them now.  Over the past week we have paid them for three games,” Williams said.

“There is no secret that the TTFA has serious cash flow problems and that is due to the fact that we have been paying debt accrued by previous administrations,” he added.

The president explained that the issue had arisen after the organization failed to claim expected funds.

“We were expecting some inflows by 15 December, unfortunately, that did not happen but we expect the inflows in the next 10 to 15 days and we will deal with the matter.”

Windies captain Jason Holder has attributed an outstanding 2018 to a more patient approach on the cricket pitch.

The 27-year-old finished the year in second spot on the Test all-rounder;s rankings list, just behind Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan.  Holder scored 336 runs including two half-centuries at an average of 37.33.  He was, however, more remarkable with the ball. 

In six Tests Holder took 33 wickets at the impressive average of 12.39, which included four five-wicket hauls in successive matches.

“I just believe I was more so a lot more patient than before. I was able to settle down a lot more when I was bowling and try to be a lot more patient than I was in the past. One of the things that I really focused on was consistency,” Holder told Barbados Today.

“I always had the skill to move the ball both ways in and out. In my view, one of my downfalls as a bowler was that I experimented a bit too early and too much. Last year, I was more patient, therefore I began stringing together a lot more spells consistently and performing my role as a bowler more effectively,” he added.

“I have always been regarded as the workhorse in the team who can come on and bowl long spells. The only way a bowler can bowl long spells is to keep his economy rate down and be tidy and pick up wickets along the way. I was successful in doing so last year.”

 

Windies captain Jason Holder believes he is fully recovered from a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for several weeks at the end of last year.

The injury saw the 27-year-old all-rounder miss some of the team’s recent tour of Asia.  Holder put in a few commendable performances against India before missing the entire series against Bangladesh. 

The player, who spent a few weeks of rehabilitation in England, recently joined the Barbados Tridents ahead of this weekend’s Regional Four-day fixture against the Guyana Jaguars.

“I had some time off from cricket to correct the problem I had with my shoulder. I spent a month in England getting some rehabilitation work done on my shoulder which went well,” Holder told Barbados Today.

“I am playing in the match against the Guyana Jaguars on Friday to find out how strong my body is and trying to see if I can improve and go from strength to strength, but I feel fine,” he added.

Despite the injury, Holder had an outstanding season, finishing as the world’s second-ranked Test all-rounder. 

In six Tests he took 33 wickets at the impressive average of 12.39, which included four five-wicket hauls in successive matches. Holder also scored 336 runs including two half-centuries at an average 37.33.

 In ODIs, he dismissed 21 batsmen at an average of 33.75 and accumulated 405 runs at 33.75.

Defending champion Windies have gained automatic qualification to the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.

As hosts, the Australians were already guaranteed a place at the tournament and will be joined by the other top-ranked nine teams in the world.  Leading that list are number one-ranked India who are followed by England, South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Despite claiming back-to-back World Cups the West Indies find themselves in seventh position, the last of the automatic qualifying spots.  Based on their rankings as 9th and 10th , Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will have to play the group stages with four other qualifiers.

The top eight teams will automatically qualify to the Super 12s stage, which will take place after the group phases.  Despite missing out on the automatic qualification to the Super 12s Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga was confident the team would still get there.

"Having played three finals and winning once, it is natural that everyone expected us to finish in the top-eight, but we have to take the opportunity in the extra matches of the group stage and prepare well for the knock-out matches."

Windies captain Jason Holder has been named as an all-rounder on several team of the year cricket lists after several exceptional performances in 2018.

In fact, the 27-year-old Holder ended the year as the second best-ranked all-rounder in the world behind Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan.  The West Indian finished the year with 33 Test scalps at an average of 12.39.  His match-best figures best came against Bangladesh, where he claimed 11 scalps for 103 runs against Bangladesh in Jamaica.  The Windies skipper also scored 336 runs at an average of 37.33

His performances have seen Holder named as part of the Cricket Australia Test XI of 2018, Cricbuzz Test Team of the year and ICC Test Team of the year.  On the overall bowler rankings list Holder ended the year ranked at 10 and is the only West Indian on the charts.

The ICC Test team of the year team is completed by Aiden Markram, Dimuth Karun-Kratne, Virat Kholi, Steve Smith, Joe Root, Jos Butler, Ravindra Jadeja, Kagiso Rabada, James Anderson and Mohammed Abbas.

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