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.

A solid century from opener Devon Smith gave the Windward Islands a solid start against Jamaica Scorpions in the West Indies Championship at Grenada National Stadium on Thursday.

At the close of play, the Windwards stood at 256 for 6 an innings underpinned by a patient 124 off 209 balls from Smith.  The batsman’s stubborn knock included 16 fours and no sixes.  A five-for from the Scorpions Dennis Bulli limited the damage somewhat as he ended with figures of 94 for 5.  In fact, with Smith’s obstinance to contend with, it was Bulli who claimed wickets at regular intervals and accounted for the entire top order. 

Smith’s opening partner Taryck Gabriel was the first of his victims as he was trapped lbw for 10 after facing 61 balls.  The pair Tyrone Theophile and Kirk Edwards, who next up at the crease, fared even worse off as they were consecutively bowled for eight runs each, having faced a total of 32 balls. 

Kavem Hodge then joined Smith at the crease and the pair put on 144 for the fourth wicket.  From a strong position of 205 for 3 the Windwards experienced a setback when Hodge was dismissed by Chadwick Walton for 56 and Smith, the victim of the brilliant Bulli, followed two overs later.  Alick Athanaze meekly two overs after adding a single run before being caught by Kenroy Williams off the bowling of Bulli.  Dennis Smith (36) and Sherman Lewis (16) will return as the not out batsmen.

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.

A majestic five-wicket haul from spinner Nikita Miller gave the Jamaica Scorpions a fighting chance against the T&T Red Force but the hosts face a stiff task to save the match heading into Sunday’s third day at Sabina Park.

Beginning the day at 62 for 2 and with a lead of 153, the Red Force had their eyes set on heaping more misery on the struggling Scorpions.  In the end, they did, as the team posted a second innings score of 233 but it could have been a lot worse were it not for the heroics of Miller.

After dismissing the opening pair of Kyle Hope (20) and Jeremy Solozano (13) on the previous day’s play, Miller returned to rip through the middle order, denying the Red Force any real momentum. 

With the twin-island republic in a strong position at 114 for 4, Miller removed the dangerous Jason Mohammed for 14 before having Denesh Ramdin caught for 25. 

Spinner Khary Pierre was the highest scorer for the Red Force in the second innings, crafting a hard-earned 46 from 142.  Miller ended the innings with overall figures of 7 for 87. 

In response, the Scorpions were off to a solid start courtesy of an opening partnership between Oraine Williams and Chadwick Walton that was worth 89 runs.  Pierre, however, got the crucial breakthrough when he snatched the back-to-back wickets of Walton and Williams in the 22nd over.  Both were caught by Ramdin.  Things got worse for the Scorpions as they lost the next three wickets for nine runs with Imran Khan removing Jason Mohammed for 1 and Daniel St Clair removing Paul Palmer (8) and Kenroy Williams (0).  Assad Fudadin (6) and Rovmon Powell (2) will begin the day as the not out batsmen with the Scorpions needing 217 runs to win at 108 for 5.

Windward Islands Volcanoes were dealt a late blow in their desperate bid to force a result against defending champion Guyana Jaguars, when experienced batsman Devon Smith was sent packing in the West Indies Championship at Providence Stadium on Saturday.

Smith had looked set after putting together a patient 65 from 128 balls but was dismissed in the 44th over of the day after a tight bowling spell from Romario Shepherd.

Beginning the day at 4 for 63, the Windward Islands managed to post 210 all out, thanks in huge part to Alick Athanaze’s determined 66 from 114 balls.  The Volacanoes were, however, left some 243 runs short of the Jaguars first innings total of 459 for 9.

Forced to follow-on, things looked bleak for the Windwards when opener Taryck Gabriel (16) was dismissed after being caught by Anthony Bramble off the bowling of Sherfane Rutherfod.  Smith was, however, joined by Cato at the crease and two put on 75 runs for the second wicket to give the Volcanoes some hope before Cato was caught, again by Bramble, off the bowling of Keemo Paul.

Smith was then joined by Kirk Edwards at the crease, but the pair only managed 28 for the third wicket, before Bramble took another key catch.  This time it was the dangerman Smith off the bowling of Romario Shepherd.  Edwards (40) and Kavem Hodge will begin the fourth day at 167 for 3 and the Volcanoes still trailing by 76 runs.  

 

Haitian sprinter Bryand Rincher seemed to expect even more on debut for Florida State University (FSU), despite breaking the Haitian national 60m record at the Orange and Purple Elite meet on Friday.

Rincher, who was making his college debut, stopped the clock in a time of 6.60 seconds, which was good enough for second behind North Carolina States University’s Cravont Charleston who clocked 6.59 for first spot.  Rincher’s teammate Kasaun James was given an identical time for third spot.  The time puts the athlete’s third in the early season NCAA rankings.

The mark lowered the national record previously held by Virginia Tech’s Darrell Wesh who set the time of 6.62 in 2016 at the Virginia Tech Challenge. 

Rincher came close to breaking the record in the heats clocking 6.64 to win heat one, good enough to take over the NCAA lead.  The former Piper High athlete, was, however, far from entirely pleased with the performance.

“I had very high expectations for myself, but that didn’t really go as I planned. I had to play catch-up [in the final] because my block start was horrible" Rincher said.

 

Jamaican sprinter Natalliah Whyte seems to be adjusting well to life at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) after a solid debut at the 2019 UAB Blazer Invitational meet on Friday.

The 21-year-old Whyte only recently completed what some considered to be a surprise move to Florida from the higher profile Auburn Athletics track programme. 

Whyte, however, looks to be right at home and got things going in comfortable fashion as she clocked 7.36 to claim the women’s 60m dash in school’s opening meet of the season. The Jamaican finished well-clear of second place Brandee Presley of Ole Miss, who clocked 7.47 for the runner-up spot and Old Mississippi’s Kelly Rowe (7.57) who finished third in 7.57. 

The mark was well short of Whyte’s best time of 7.12, which was set in Texas in March of last year but still represented FAU’s second fastest ever time over the distance. 

Interestingly, it was Whyte who set the new school record with a time of 7.36 in the preliminary round, before narrowly failing to equal the mark in the final.

The duo of Jenae Ambrose and Jamesha Moorer, both Whyte’s teammates, had a picture finish in the 60-metre preliminaries after crossing the line in 7.65, which is tied for the seventh fastest time in school history.

 

Former Calabar High alumni Fabian Hewitt has made a good early impression on Clemson University head coach Mark Elliot after setting a new personal best at the 2019 Clemson Orange and Purple Elite meet on Friday.

At the team’s second meet of the season, the 21-year-old, who earlier transferred from Wiley College, clocked the personal best in the men’s 300m with a time of 33.78.  The run saw Hewitt eclipse his previous best and team-leading 34.30, which he set for the Tigers on his debut in December.

The effort put the Jamaican athlete second behind South Carolina’s Arinz Chance, who took the event with a time of 33.00.  Third place went to Hewitt’s teammate Deonte Tolbert who stopped the clock at 33.98.

 The athlete’s run was perhaps even more impressive as he competed in the men’s 60m dash preliminary round a little over two hours prior.  In that event, Hewitt recorded the 10th best time after stopping the clock at 6.89, which earned the glowing assessment from the coach.

“Some of our incoming student-athletes such as Fabian [Hewitt] in the 300m and the 60m showed today that he has good range,” was Elliott’s assessment.

A measly four-for from pacer Keemo Paul left the Windwards Islands Volcanoes runs chase in tatters on day two of the West Indies Championship at Providence Stadium.

Resuming the day in a strong position at 307 for 6, Tagenarine Chanderpaul went on to score his second first-class century to anchor the Guyana Jaguars eventual tally of 452 for 9.  Romario Shepherd, who opened the day at the crease with Chanderpaul, made a healthy contribution of his own, going on to score 72 as the two partnered to make 121 for the seventh wicket.

In response to the daunting total, the Windwards were in early trouble after losing the typically obdurate Devon Smith in the 10th over after he was caught by Griffith to become Paul’s first victim. 

Next, at the crease, Roland Cato made 14 off 15 deliveries before himself being caught by Griffiths off Paul and Kirk Edwards endured an identical fate to leave the Volcanoes struggling at 4 for 63.

Kavem Hodge would be Paul’s final victim, as he was dismissed without scoring after being gobbled up Anthony Bramble.  Paul ended the innings with figures of 4 for 24.

Alick Athanaze (25) and Dennis Smith (3) will resume the day as the team’s not out batsmen.

A sizzling century from middle-order batsman Anthony Bramble put Guyana Jaguars in a strong position against Windward Island Volcanoes in the West Indies Championship at Providence Stadium on Thursday.

At stumps, the Guyana Jaguars were 307 for 6 off 90 overs, with Tagenarine Chanderpaul (71) and Romario Shepherd (5) the not out batsmen at the crease.  Earlier, Bramble slammed 168 from 151 balls in an innings that included 6 sixes and a remarkable 17 fours.

The Jaguars found themselves in early trouble after Trenton Griffith became the first of Josh Thomas’ three wickets.  Next, at the crease, Leon Johnson only lasted six balls and made 5 runs before being sent back to the pavilion when he was caught by Kavem Hodge off the bowling of Sherman Lewis.  Shimron Hetmyer joined Chanderpaul at the crease and added 26 runs before being caught by Devon Smith off the bowling of Ray Jordan.

Bramble then joined Chanderpaul at the crease and the pair put on 209 runs for the fourth wicket.  The partnership ended when Bramble was caught by Smith again off Thomas. 

Thomas ended with the Volcanoes best figures after claiming 3 for 62.  Sherman Lewis and Ray Jordan both claimed one wicket each.

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].”

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.”

Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Dave Cameron has extended a warm welcome to USA Cricket after the organisation saw its application to join the ICC officially approved.

The USA, then under the control of the US Cricket Association (USACA), was one of the first ICC associate members.  However, the body was repeatedly suspended for violations of governance and expelled in June 2017.

USA Cricket was formed later in 2017 and facilitated the transition back to autonomous governance following more than three years of oversight from an ICC Americas caretaker administration.  In addition to being able to receive funding in accordance with the ICC development funding policy like other Associates, USA Cricket will also now be able to sanction domestic and international cricket in the United States.

"We welcome back USA Cricket to the international community. Cricket West Indies (CWI) stands ready to support efforts to move cricket forward,” Cameron said.

“We have done a tremendous amount of development in this region and we look forward to any reciprocal agreements and arrangements to enhance the current set of programs.”

The West Indies have already committed to playing at least T20Is per year in North America through to 2023.

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.

 

 

A four-for from Guyana Jaguars spinner Veerasammy Permaul severely hampered the efforts of Barbados Pride as they struggled in pursuit of a humungous first innings total on day three of the four-day West Indies Champions on Sunday.

At stumps, despite battling half-centuries from Shane Dowrich and Johnathan Carter, Barbados Pride were well short of the total and were all-out for 360, still, some 188 runs short of the Jaguars 548. 

The Pride began the day looking to solidify the innings, following the previous day’s loss of opener Shayne Mosely.  Kraigg Brathwaite and Shamar Brooks put on a partnership of 73 runs but the team was soon in trouble again.

 It was Brooks (34) who would become the first of Permaul’s four victims after being caught by Leon Johnson.  Brathwaite (43) followed did not stay long after and followed five overs later after being bowled by Clinton Pestano. 

With the typically reliable Roston Chase, next to bat, managing to add just one run to the total before being gobbled up by Johnson, again off Permaul, the Pride looked in real danger at 123 for 4.

Carter, who had 68 off 107 balls and Dowrich (81 off 113), however, came together to form the base of the Pride resistance as they put on 131 for the fifth wicket.  Permaul again figured prominently in both dismissals, bowling Carter and catching Dowrich off the bowling of Sherfane Rutherford. 

Barbados captain Jason Holder (44 from 87) and Jomel Warrican (23 of 35) added late runs to push the Pride score, but the team will have its work cut out on Monday’s fourth day.  Permaul ended with overall figures of 4 for 124, with Raymond Reifer and Pestano claiming two wickets each.

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