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Kwesi Mugisa

Kwesi Mugisa

Kwesi has been a sports journalist with more than 10-years’ experience in the field. First as a Sports Reporter with The Gleaner in the early 2000s before he made the almost natural transition to becoming an editor. Since then he has led the revamp of The Star’s sports offering, making it a more engaging and forward-thinking component of the most popular tabloid newspaper in the Caribbean.

Bahamian quarter miler Shaunae Miller-Uibo was admittedly displeased with her performance at the Racers Grand Prix meet, despite destroying a quality field to claim the women’s 400m title in Kingston, on Saturday.

In just her second race in the event this season, Miller-Uibo clocked a respectable 49.54 seconds, not as fast as her opening run of 49.05 set in Florida, back in April, but more than good enough for a new meet record.  The time bettered the previous best of 50.52 set by American Allyson Felix in 2017.

 In fact, Miller-Uibo finished more than a second ahead of reigning World Champion Phyllis Francis, with the American crossing the line in 50.85.  Jamaica’s Chris-ann Gordon was third in 51.83. 

The reigning Olympic champion just proved to be a different class than the rest of the field on the day and had the World Champion Francis well covered by the 100m mark.  She proceeded to leave the American and the rest of her opponents fighting for the minor places by the top of the stretch.  The Bahamian, however, seemed to have been expecting a better performance.

“I think today wasn’t really a good run,” she said following the race.

“I’m working on a lot of things trying to perfect my race but I’m happy I finished healthy which is important.”

Jamaica women’s football team coach Hue Menzies is already plotting a quick recovery for the national team following a 3-0 loss to Brazil, on their FIFA Women’s World Cup debut, on Sunday.

The Reggae Girlz put in a creditable performance against their noted South American opponents but were in truth short of any real answers, on the heels of a three-goal blitz from Cristiane Rozeira.  The result put the Jamaicans at the bottom of a tough four-team Group C, hardly the ideal start, but the coach was quick to insist the team has plenty yet to play for.

“We’re still in it.  We just have to look at fixing our back line and let’s get Bunny (Khadijah Shaw) more involved,” Menzies said.

Shaw the team’s top scorer was indeed mostly a fringe figure, with sporadic touches on the ball throughout the fixture, but proved to be a menace when she did manage to get possession. 

The forward’s fierce 30th-minute strike was just tipped over the top by Brazilian goalkeeper Bárbara and she saw a 50th-minute header drift just wide of the target.  Menzies insisted the loss would not be a major setback and pointed to the fact that the team recovered from a tough situation to seal it historic qualification for the World Cup.

“We’ve lost games before, we just have to pick it up and get after it.  We lost to Canada got back and beat Costa Rica. So we just have to pick it up and get back in the business.”

Jamaica will next tackle Italy on June 14 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims.

Former India all-rounder Hemang Badani believes the West Indies may have become complacent after gaining an early advantage against Australia but hopes the team learnt a valuable lesson.

In the end, it was the Australia’s who triumphed with a 15-run victory at Trent Bridge on Thursday, but for long spells of the encounter, it was the regional team who seemed to hold the advantage. 

Choosing to bowl first, the West Indies had Australia on the ropes at 3 for 56 and then 5 for 77.  The team lost its early momentum, however, after Steve Smith (73) and Nathan Coulter-Nile's swashbuckling 92 off 60 balls propelled Australia to 288 all out.

“They had the game in their hands, it was probably a question of getting one wicket.  They had to come really hard and probably even be a bit more aggressive when Australia was five down.  You just get the feeling that the West Indies took the game a little lightly and felt that they really would get them out at 150-160 and go out there and score those runs, that’s when the game comes back and bites you,” Badani assessed.

“You never take the game lightly, you always have to go hard.  When you are on top, stay on top.  They will have learnt a lesson.  Going forward the solution isn’t to change the bowling, it’s to stay in the moment, keep going hard and don’t get complacent.”

In response, at 149-3 midway through the chase, Holder's men looked well set to make it two wins from two but Shimron Hetmyer's run out and some poor shot-making saw that honour go to Australia, for whom Mitchell Starc shone with 5-46.

Australia pace bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile has warned the Windies that the team is prepared to fight fire with fire when they square off in their next fixture of the ICC Cricket World Cup on Thursday.

Short-pitched deliveries by fast bowlers of both teams played a critical role in convincing opening fixture wins.  The speed team of Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Starc and Patrick Cummings proved much too strong for Afghanistan, who they went on to dismiss for 207, before claiming a comfortable 7-wicket win. 

Pakistan found short-pitched deliveries from Jason Holder, O’shane Thomas and Andre Russell impossible to deal with, as they were dismissed for 105 before the Windies also cruised to a 7-wicket win.

Neither side will change the approach headed into their second encounter and Coulter-Nile is already cautioning the Windies to be ready to face the chin music.

“You’ve got to give it (bouncers) to the Windies, otherwise they just get on the front foot and pogo you everywhere,” the 31-year-old told reporters.

“We’ll definitely give it to them, we give it to every team. You’ve got to use your two (permitted bouncers per over).

“The grounds are so small and the wickets are generally pretty flat, so you’ve got to use bouncers when you can.”

Another concern for the Australians, ahead of the match, is the form Windies opener Chris  Gayle, who cracked a 34 ball 50 in the first match.  Coulter-Nile believes aggression and pace will also be key in neutralising the Windies’ main threat up top.

“Oh, Starcy (Mitchell Starc) will knock his off pole out. It will be easy,” he said jokingly about the 39-year-old Gayle.

“You know he’s going to hit your good balls for four and hit your bad balls for six. Just keep as bowling as many good balls as you can we’ll stick a few up him.

“I think you just need to be aggressive at him. He’s still smacking them but he is getting older. I don’t know if he’s faced too much of Starcy and Paddy (Pat Cummins) recently but they’re bowling quick. So we’ll see how he handles that early,” Coulter-Nile added.

Windies all-rounder Andre Russell has urged statisticians to respect the speed of his pace bowling, following a short-ball barrage against Pakistan, which earned him two wickets in the team’s ICC World Cup opener.

The 31-year-old all-rounder proved a constant thorn in the side of the Pakistan batsmen as he bowled 16 rapid short balls.  Particularly troubled was Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman as Russell’s 86mph bouncer ricocheted off his bat and helmet before hitting the stumps.

“A lot of people have been saying I have been coming in the team as a big hitter, but a lot of people don’t remember that I’m a fast bowler,” he said.

“I think they underestimate me. I have been getting jealous in the past couple of years! People have me as ‘a medium-pacer’. When I see Andre Russell come on the screen and I’m a medium pacer, I think, ‘Who are they talking to?’

“At the end of the day, I show them I can bowl 90mph and I just think they should put some respect on my name were ‘medium pace’ should go to ‘fast’.

Russell the innings ended with figures of 2 for 4 off three overs as Pakistan were bundled out for 105.  The West Indies went on to register a comfortable seven-wicket win.

 

Eyebrows were raised around the region after several high-profile players failed to find a home during Wednesday’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL) draft in London.

Leading the list of notable Caribbean absentees for the upcoming season were Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Sunil Ambris, Davendra Bishoo and Kevon Cooper. 

The case of Simmons is particularly surprising as things seem to have spun in a 180-degree direction.  Only a few months ago the player was selected as the first pick of the 2018 draft for the St Lucia Stars.

On that occasion, Simmons went for $US 160,000 after entering the draft for $US 70,000.  The Trinidadian native entered the draft at the same price but this time around but found no takers.

The much-travelled Simmons previously played for the Jamaica Tallahwahs, Guyana Amazon Warriors and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.  The 36-year-old Smith, who previously opened for Barbados Tridents and Amazon Warriors, also found himself without a team after entering in the $US 70,000 category.

 Another stunning omission, maybe the most surprising, from the team selection was Barbadian born Englishman Jofra Archer, who was the most expensive ever Caribbean-born player for the 2018 IPL season.  The all-rounder also had several big performances in the Australia Big Bash League.  The player was recently selected for the England World Cup squad.

 

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose has picked the team to make a deep run at the ICC World Cup, which gets under way in England later this month.

The regional team won the first edition of the tournament in 1975 and 1979 and were only narrowly beaten by India in the following edition.  Since then it has been a major barren stretch of sorts having failed to advance to the semi-final stage in seven of the next eight tournaments.  The only exception came in 1996 when the team did manage to make the final four before being narrowly beaten by Australia.  Ambrose, who was a part of that squad, believes the current iteration could at the very least equal that feat.

“Our chances are as good as anybody’s because when you look at cricket in general and like I’ve said to the guys when I was with the team [as a coach], ICC ratings or rankings don’t really count on the field,” Ambrose told the Antigua Observer.

 “In the rankings, you could be one, two or three but it simply means you’re more consistent and you’re winning more games so you get the points to move to the top of the table but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the better team,” he added.

“We have a decent team but of course, people are going to argue about one or two players which will happen from now until eternity, but I feel we have a good enough team to go deeper into the World Cup.

Our problem is the consistency factor where we would win one game handsomely then maybe lose two or three and then win another one and if you’re so inconsistent then you’re never going to go far. As long as we are consistent in this World Cup, we can spring some surprises and go deep but we have to be consistent,” he said.

Regional cricket commentator and analyst, Fazeer Mohammed, has rubbished claims that players who showed up to play for the ICC World Cup qualifiers should have been given preferential consideration when the final squad was selected by Cricket West Indies (CWI) on Tuesday.

Of the sixteen players who took part in the qualifier in Zimbabwe last year, which secured the team a place at next month’s World Cup, nine have been included in the final squad. 

Two-time T20 World Cup winner Marlon Samuels is the most notable absentee in a list that also includes Jason Mohammed, Devendra Bishoo, Nikita Miller, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell and Kesrick Williams. 

 In this instance, scribbled on the final list submitted to the ICC on Tuesday, the most notable inclusion would perhaps be that of Andre Russell who turned down the chance to represent the region at the qualifiers, after stating that he had not sufficiently recovered from injury. 

The situation has sparked debate in some areas, particularly the exclusion of Samuels who had not played cricket for some time due to an injury but expected to be fit for the World Cup.  In an interview with the SportsMax Zone, however, Mohammed insisted cricketing reasons should be the only consideration in selecting the squad.

“This is a competitive sport. This is not about giving favours or doing people favours for long service or that sort of thing, or turning up when others didn’t turn up,” Mohammed told the SportsMax Zone.

“You remember in the days of the Kerry Packer era when the West Indies lost their Packer players for a period and the likes of Alvin Kallicharan and even Malcolm Marshal and so on came into the West Indies squad. From the moment that was sorted out and the World Cup came up in 1979 all the top players were back,” Mohammed added.

“There is no room for sentiment in competitive sport.  I understand the recognizing the roles played but are we selecting a squad as a favour for turning up or are we selecting a squad to be competitive or even get to the winning stage of the World Cup.

Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) president Conde Riley has insisted the organization followed the rules in coming to its decision to support incumbent Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Dave Cameron.

The organization’s stance has come under fire in recent weeks, with a contingent led by former BCA board member Hartley Reid starting a petition to review the board’s position.

In stating his objections to the board’s decision to support Cameron, Riley has pointed to concerns regarding a lack of democracy and fairness.  Riley has, however, insisted that the board came to its decision via a vote and welcomed any challenge that showed a violation of the organization’s policies.

 

“The process that we followed is set out in our rules.  The board met and the board made a decision, there were no other nominations.  We have no problem with listening to Mrs Skerritt and Shallow.  We made the decision as a board, not Conde Riley,” Riley said in an interview with the SportsMax Zone.

“The rules permit us to so do.  We put it to a vote.  We know how many people supported it, nobody was against it and we know the abstentions,” he added.

“If one of our membership decides that he is aggrieved and he can show where the BCA did not follow the letter of the law, in terms of our rules, then he can get the petition it’s not a problem it’s a democratic process.”

Cameron and challenger Ricky Skerritt, a former Windies cricket team manager, will square off for the leadership of CWI later this month.  Barbados, Guyana and the Windward Island have announced support for Cameron, while Trinidad and Tobago and the Leeward Islands seem to be in line to support Skerritt.  Jamaica has indicated that they are yet to decide on the issue. 

Surging Portmore United registered a fifth straight Red Stripe Premier League win, following a 1-0 triumph over UWI, despite going down to 10-men in the encounter on Sunday.

The defending champions looked to have found themselves in a tight spot after Damano Thomas received a straight red card in the 68th minute.  Their nerves were soon settled, however, after striker Javon East converted a 76th-minute penalty to extend their lead at the top of the table to eight points.

The race to avoid the drop tightened at the other end of the table, when Leslie St Fleur netted a crucial late goal for Montego Bay United for a 2-1 win over Reno. In the relegation six pointer, Dwayne Ambusley put the visitors ahead in the 17th minute but Donovan Brown brought Reno back on level terms in the 59th minute.

The result moved Montego Bay, who are currently in the relegation zone with Reno to within one of Harbour View.  The Stars of the East saw the distance between themselves and the relegation zone lessen following a 1-1 draw with Tivoli.  Tevin Scott gave Habour View the start they dreamt of after just three minutes but Tivoli pegged things back nine minutes later when Colorado Murray brought the visitors on level terms. 

Promoted Dunbeholden also failed to add to their buffer and remain just one point above Harbour View following a 1-1 draw with Cavalier.  In a hot-tempered affair, Nicholas Hamilton and Dunbeholden’s Kemo Gayle were both ejected from the pitch 30 minutes into the encounter.  Luke Rankine then put host Cavalier ahead in the 41st minute but Dunbeholder struck back early in the first half through Lorenzo Dubidad.  Despite Jeremy Nelson receiving a second yellow card in the 63rd minute to leave Cavalier down to nine men, Dunbeholden failed to press home the advantage.  Elsewhere, Mount Pleasant registered a 1-0 over Humble Lion.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler turned commentator Michael Holding has rejected the notion of an increase in the use of stump microphones, which some have argued will benefit the game of cricket.

Debate in the public sphere has raged, as of late, after the devices played the role in the sanctioning of two players.  Windies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel was banned for four matches after being accused of directing a ‘homophobic’ jibe toward England captain Joe Root.

In an ODI against South Africa, Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed was picked up on the stump mic making a racist comment to Andile Phehlukwayo and was also subsequently banned for four matches. 

Proponents of the argument have pointed to the positives of both outcomes and argued that an increase in microphones would also bring fans closer to players.  Holding, however, vehemently disagrees with the idea.  

"I had a conversation on air here in South Africa where I voiced my opinion on the stumps microphones being left on at all times.  It’s a backward step as far as I’m concerned,” Holding told Mumbai Mirror.

“The field of play and the dressing room belong to the combatants and the excuse being offered that it helps the viewers to enjoy the game is very lame.  If the public needs to hear the players on the field, it simply means the product being offered has a problem,” he added.

 

 

Windies batting star Chris Gayle has lamented a ‘reckless’ shot, despite a whirlwind knock of 162 against England in a losing cause at the Grenada National Stadium on Wednesday.

In pursuit of a sizable target of 418, which was anchored by a smashing innings from Englishman Jos Butler, it was Gayle who launched a fierce response of his own. 

The big left-hander fell just short of his record of 16 sixes in an ODI innings, when he slammed 14 over the boundary rope in a battling effort at the crease.  Gayle was dismissed after missing against Ben Stokes.

In the end, it was not enough to stave off a loss for the Windies who fell just 29 runs short of the sizable total but few could argue it was an effort to be proud of.  The 39-year-old became only the second batsman to reach 300 runs, with the performance pushing him to 305, second to only Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi (351).  The total, the 25th century of the batsman’s career was his second highest total in the format.

"I didn't know what was going to happen. Normally when chasing a big total, you give yourself less overs to get in,” Gayle said following the match,

"It was a good wicket and once you get momentum as a batter, you are going to get runs,” he added.

"Wood bowled well. With his pace, he's always going to be somebody to be wary of. After losing two quick wickets, I said we had to build a partnership but the shot I played, in the end, was a bit reckless. If I had batted deeper, who knows what might have happened?"

The Leeward Islands Hurricanes and T&T Red Force played to a predictable draw in a high scoring West Indies Championship encounter at Warner Park.

Beginning the day with a 195-run lead, the Hurricanes eventually declared at 315 for 6 on the back of 94 off 109 balls from Devon Thomas.  Thomas began the day on 22, alongside Hamilton, who opened on 23, and went on to score 77 from 86 balls.  Odean Smith was the pick of the bowlers after claiming figures of 2 for 64.

In pursuit of an unlikely 351 to win, the T&T Red Force got off to a strong start before losing opener Jeremy Solozano for 30.  Solozano was caught by Cornwall off the bowling of Damion Jacobs.  His opening partner Joshua Da Silva added 75 from 124 balls before being caught by Keacy Carty off the bowling of Cornwall, with Lendl Simmons adding 59 from 55 before being bowled by Alzarri Josephs.

At the close of play, the Red Force were 236 for 4 in their second innings reply, still, some 116 runs short of the total. Jason Mohammed (10) and Denesh Ramdin (22) were the not out batsmen at the crease.

A devastating hat-trick from pace bowler Miguel Cummins triggered a spectacular Windward Islands Volcanoes collapse, to hand Barbados Pride what seemed an unlikely victory in the West Indies Championship at Arnos Vale on Sunday.

Heading into the final day’s play, the Volcanoes found themselves at 181 for 3, needing a mere 89 runs to win with seven wickets still in hand.  The task, however, proved to be far more difficult than expected.

Overnight batsman Kavem Hodge, who scored a resolute 65 from 165 balls, was the first to go after being bowled by Jomel Warrican soon after the resumption.  His overnight partner Roland Cato did not fare much better.  Cato added five to his previous 26 before becoming the first victim of Cummins, when he was caught by Tevyn Walcott.  Cummins sent back Dennis Smith for a duck just three balls later and Ray Jordan would be his third wicket when he was sent back, for one, three balls later.

Alick Athanaze and Sherman Lewis, however, seemed determined to rescue the situation, adding an eighth-wicket partnership of 41.  The partnership was broken, however, when Lewis (21) was caught by Tevyn Walcott off the bowling of Chaim Holder.  Athanaze also met his end at the hands of Holder as he was caught by Jonathan Carter on 33, to leave the Hurricanes at 246 for 9 still some 24 runs short of the target.  Larry Edwards was then bowled by Warrican.  

 

Jamaica distance runner Kemoy Campbell seems to have set his sights on a return to the track, just over two weeks after collapsing during a race at the Millrose Games in New York.

The 28-year-old athlete will, however, plans to compete with the help of an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD), a device that will restart his heart should it stop suddenly again.  Campbell collapsed during the men's 3000 metres race in early February and had to be revived with the use of CPR and a defibrillator after trackside medical staff treated him for minutes.

The athlete confirmed, via his Instagram account on Saturday, that subsequent tests had failed to discover a reason for the illness, but seemed to suggest he had every intention to return to the track.

“After multiple vials of blood, ECHOs, EKGs, ultrasounds, MRI, CAT scan, PET scan, and heart biopsy.  The weeks of testing resulted in no diagnosis for the cause of my heart stopping.

‘On Monday I will be putting an ICD in my body (left side of my ribs).  This device will shock my heart back into rhythm if this is to happen again.  I was told that I would have to take a few months off from running.  After those months I could start getting back at it slowly with permission from the cardiologist.”

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