Cricket South Africa (CSA) is not planning to implement pay cuts for Proteas players during the coronavirus pandemic, though future salaries could be affected.

The Proteas' tour of India in March was cut short due to the proliferation of COVID-19 and all forms of cricket in South Africa were cancelled for 60 days on March 16.

Australia's visit to face the women's team was called off, while trips for the men to Sri Lanka in June and the West Indies in July could be in jeopardy if the situation has not improved six weeks prior to the start of those respective tours.

However, CSA chief executive Jacques Faul does not anticipate the salaries of players to be impacted in the short term, though the pot for future payments may have to be reduced.

"For now we've budgeted for the amount. It's a centralised system so both the Proteas and the franchise players have been budgeted for and we have enough to see through the next season," said Faul during a conference call.

"The players will lose out on match fees and win bonuses. If these tours are rescheduled they'll get the money. In the long term even if we cover this season we have to look at what it's going to be post this season and the financial impact of that and how much will be available to contract players.

"We've got to crunch the numbers first and experience the total effect of COVID-19, but it is a possibility the players will be receiving less of a player payment pool.

"I cannot see anyone for now getting less money than they're contracted for, but in future the allocation going to players I can see that being less."

Graeme Smith signed a three-month contract as director of cricket in December and Faul stated clarity on the former captain's tenure will be provided next week.

"We're in final negotiations with Graeme there will be an announcement next week," he said.

"We're at an advanced stage of the negotiations and hopefully we can make an announcement next week."

The owners of Indian Premier League franchises have discussed the possibility of staging games behind closed doors this year, according to Manoj Badale.

The 13th edition of the world's premier Twenty20 competition was due to begin this week, but it was postponed until April 15 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Badale, one of the co-owners of Rajasthan Royals, revealed one of the mooted options has been contesting fixtures without fans present, which he feels may be a necessary evil.

"Both conversations between the owners and the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India], that's already been discussed," Badale told BBC 5 live.

"As with the English Premier League, the atmosphere is a huge part of the spectacle, but, again, these are unprecedented times and sport needs to be put in the right perspective overall.

"If the way of ensuring the cricket economy survives is by playing behind closed doors, so be it."

There have been only 1,251 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India, fewer than Luxembourg.

So, while staging the IPL in the coming weeks would seem unfathomable to many in Europe, Badale said there is still a belief the tournament could be held in two months' time.

"In India the COVID phenomenon has only really just landed so when we have our owners' conference calls, there's still an expectation that there may be a way of the games being played in June," he added.

"Personally I can't see it happening until much later in the year."

That would have an impact on an already congested cricket calendar, especially as the T20 World Cup is due to start in October.

Yet Badale emphasised the financial value of the IPL to the sport.

"Fundamentally, to the cricket economy - not just to the Indian cricket economy, but to the global cricket economy - the IPL is incredibly important," he said.

"Not just what it means for players, but what it means for the supply chain that a $600m-a-year tournament creates."

Twenty-six years ago, a diminutive but powerful Trinidad and Tobago batsman, long known for his genius, became the highest run-scorer in a single Test innings, overtaking the man, who before his era, was regarded as possibly the finest to ever live.

Sir Garfield Sobers had a record, 365 not out, standing for 36 years, but on April 18, 1994, Brian Charles Lara cemented his name in history as one of the greatest to ever hold a bat, scoring 375 against England at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

The moment is worth remembering.

Before we get to Lara though, let’s look at the people who have held the record over the years. Of course, that ends with Lara, who broke the record for most runs in a Test innings 10 years after his journey to the rarified air of the top of the game.

In 1884, Billy Murdoch, the Australian captain, became the first man to score a double century, helping his side to 551 in a draw against England with 211.

It wasn’t until 1903 that Murdoch was overhauled, interestingly enough, by an England captain, Tip Foster. Foster, on debut for England, scored 287 against Australia in a five-wicket win.

Triple centuries would come next, as another Englishman, Andy Sandham, broke Foster’s record against the West Indies at Sabina Park in 1930, scoring 325 in a mammoth 849. The match ended in a draw.

The man, who many believe to be the greatest batsman of all time, underpinned by his 99.94 average in Test cricket, Australia’s Don Bradman, would not be left out. He smashed Sandham’s record just three months later, scoring 334 against, you guessed it, England. Bradman was just 21 at the time and scored 309 of those runs on the first day of the Test.

Another Englishman would hold the record in 1933, Wally Hammond scoring an aggressive 336 not out, slamming 10 sixes and 34 fours.

Sir Len Hutton, a man who ranks as one of the most technically correct batsmen the game has seen and with a 56.67 average and one of the best batsmen of all time, scored 364 against Australia in 1938.

20 years later, Sobers ended his innings on 365 not out in an innings and 174-run win over Pakistan at Sabina Park in Kingston.

After Lara’s 375 in Antigua in 1994, Australia’s Matthew Hayden helped his side to 735-6 declared against Zimbabwe in 2003. Hayden’s innings would include 11 sixes and 38 fours.

Lara, however, would re-take the record, becoming the first man to hold it twice when he scored 400 not out against England at the same ground he first set it.

Ten years earlier, however, Lara was in incredible form.

A few weeks earlier, he had scored more than 500 runs in a first-class innings.

Lara was a genius who entertained by playing shots that were not risk-free, though for him there was much less risk because he was so good.

In this innings, Lara would make no mistakes. He showed he could bat for long periods without making them as he did a year earlier when he was run out for 277 against Australia.

The series in the Caribbean had already been won, with the West Indies leading 3-1. The visitors had won the first Test in Barbados but having lost the next three, England had their pride to play for. Afterall 3-2 looks much better on paper than 3-1.

Things started well for England with the West Indies losing two wickets for just 12 runs on the morning of the opening day.

Things were looking good early but Lara was not in the mood to do anything else score runs; lot's of them.

He scored 164 runs on that day. He was patient to start, going about the business of rebuilding the innings. His first 50 came from 121 deliveries, but he soon accelerated, bringing up his 100 from 180 balls. From there to 150 was also slower, as he took 240 deliveries to get there. He would again accelerate to get to 200.

The point of all that data is to prove just how in control Lara was of the innings, changing pace at will, pacing himself for the long haul.

It was textbook batting, it was a teaching moment, as Lara made England’s bowler’s toil.

"We realised the record was on quite early because of the nonchalant way he went from 100 to 150 to 200. Once he got to about 250, you began to wonder where it was all going to end. By that stage, you have tried all your tactics and your variety, it has not really got you anywhere and it begins to boil down to if he will make a mistake," recalled ex-England paceman, Angus Fraser.

But the writing was on the wall even before that, according to Phil Tufnell, a former England spinner.

"I bowled my first over and was putting my jumper back on when Mike Atherton, the England captain, came over to me and said: 'Brian's batting well today, he might break the record.' He was only on 60! Athers was a clever bloke and he got it spot on," said Tufnell.

But the moment that was most significant wasn’t the score Lara would end up on. It was when England, who had been trying to keep Lara off strike to make him doubt himself or lose his rhythm, tried to stop him from scoring the single it would take to get him past Sobers.

It didn’t work.

Bringing in the field when Lara was on 365, Chris Lewis ran up and bowled a short-rising delivery. Lara did not hold back, pulling Lewis to the midwicket boundary with the assuredness that he was no longer a prince, but a king.

England captain Joe Root has been inspired to "do something special" during the next Ashes series against Australia after watching 'The Test'.

Root, like the rest of the United Kingdom, is in lockdown in a measure aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

With plenty of downtime, Root has started watching the Amazon docuseries 'The Test', which follows the fortunes of Australia's cricket team across eight episodes and culminates in the 2019 Ashes in England.

That series ended in a 2-2 draw, resulting in the tourists retaining the urn, and Root is now even more fired up for the next Ashes between the two countries in 2021-22.

"I resisted watching it for a good while but, having exhausted a lot of the shows I wanted to watch, it has come around," Root said on a conference call with reporters on Monday.

"It has been a good motivator to get back on the bike and incentivise myself.

"It goes without saying that the World Test Championship is very important and each game holds a huge amount of weight as we try and get into that final [scheduled for June 2021]. But a lot of things we do revolve around planning for that Ashes series.

"We have around 17-20 games until we go there and play - if all are played - and we have to use every opportunity to be ready for what those conditions throw at us, what Australia throw at us on and off the field.

"We need to use this time to ready ourselves to do something special because we know how challenging it can be to play there."

England were due to be in Sri Lanka now for a two-Test series, but they returned home as sporting events started to get cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Root's team are due to face West Indies and Pakistan in home Test series in the coming months, though they would appear in doubt too.

There have been reports that the Sri Lanka trip could be rearranged prior to England's five-Test tour of India in 2021 and Root is mindful about burnout for his squad.

"It would be a very tough winter, a huge amount of workload, especially on the multi-format players, but we have had some tough winters in the past and found ways to get through them," he added.

"It would be interesting to see how they would fit it in looking at the schedule right now but if it was to go ahead, we would have to be able to adapt, look at the squad sizes we take over and make sure guys weren't blown out and overworked."

West Indies veteran Dwayne Bravo believes the West Indies possess the tools to dominate T20 Internationals.

Garry Sobers is regarded as the greatest all-rounder in the history of cricket.

The West Indies legend burst onto the Test scene at just 17, setting the stage for a remarkable career.

His debut for his country came on March 30 back in 1954.

On the 66th anniversary of that occasion, we use Opta data to see just how Sobers stacks up against his fellow all-rounders.

A RUN FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR

The most remarkable display of Sobers' batting credentials came in his stunning 365 not out against Pakistan.

That knock, which was a record when he produced it as a 21-year-old in 1958, stands as his all-time best from 93 Tests, eclipsing his all-rounder rivals.

Next on the list is England's Ben Stokes with 258, with South Africa's Jacques Kallis taking third spot with 224.

Of the rest, Stokes' compatriot Ian Botham (208) is the only other man with a double-century under his belt.
 

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Compiling a big score is one thing, but consistently racking up runs is the real test of talent.

The numbers favour Sobers on that front, too. His average of 57.8 again puts him top of the pile.

Kallis comes a close second with 55.4, with none of the other contenders even breaking into the 40s.

Pakistan's Imran Khan averaged 37.7, with Keith Miller posting 37.0 for Australia.
 

SOBERS THE CENTURY KING

In 160 Test innings, Sobers recorded 26 centuries.

While that figure pales next to Kallis' 45, the Proteas great took 280 innings to reach that tally.

That means Sobers triumphs again in this category, with 16.3 per cent of his innings producing scores of 100 or more, with Kallis standing at 16.1 per cent.

Nobody else on the list can boast a double-figure percentage, with Botham on 8.7 and Miller on 8.
 

HANDY WITH THE BALL

Sobers claimed 235 wickets from 159 Test innings with the ball.

In this area, at least, he does have to take a back seat to some more prolific wicket-taking all-rounders.

Chief among them is Kapil Dev, who accounted for 434 victims in a stellar India career.

Richard Hadlee's 431 puts the New Zealander second, with Botham on 383 and Khan on 362.


BEST FIGURES STAND UP

With best figures of 6-73, Sobers compares favourably with his competitors. 

Hadlee and Dev both enjoyed nine-wicket innings, but Botham's 8-34 in 1978 against Pakistan is the pick of the bunch.

Sobers' best match figures are 8-80, with Hadlee the proud owner of a 15-wicket haul.

With 36 five-fors, Hadlee also leads the way on that score, with Botham (27) followed by Khan and Dev (both 23).

Sobers', meanwhile, had just six five-fors.


NOBODY IS PERFECT

Although the data clearly supports Sobers' status as the GOAT, there is one category in which he comes last.

His bowling average - still a very commendable 34 - is a long way short of the 22.3 that belongs to Hadlee.

Khan (22.8) and Miller (23) are also a long way ahead of Sobers.

Charles Barkley established himself as an NBA legend with the Philadelphia 76ers and on this day 19 years ago the team paid tribute to him.

On March 30, 2001, the 11-time NBA All-Star became the seventh 76ers player to have their jersey number retired.

And Barkley is not the only sporting superstar to have made his mark on this date.

Let's take a look back...

 

2001 – Barkley's 34 retired by 76ers

Barkley wore the number 34 with distinction during his eight seasons with the 76ers.

Named MVP in 1993, Barkley was honoured by Philadelphia during half-time of the team's game with the Golden State Warriors.

"My years in Philadelphia were very special to me," Barkley said. "Now, to have my jersey retired, hung next to some of the greatest players of all time ... I consider this an incredible honour."

2001 – Teen sensation Phelps sets world record

Michael Phelps' phenomenal talent was evident from an early age.

At 15, he became the youngest man to set a world record as he clocked one minute and 54.92 seconds in the 200m butterfly in Austin, Texas.

Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time following his retirement after the Rio Games, winning a remarkable 23 gold medals among a total tally of 28.

1954 – Garry Sobers makes his Test debut

Garry Sobers was another teenager whose potential was clear from the outset.

At 17 and listed at nine in the batting order, he made his Test debut for West Indies against England in Jamaica on this day way back in 1954.

Sobers is regarded as the finest all-rounder in the history of cricket, having averaged 57.78 with the bat and 34.03 with the ball in 93 Test appearances.

Veteran West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo believes T20 star Andre Russell has taken up the mantle of legendary players like Chris Gayle and Brian Lara for the regional team.

The swashbuckling 31-year-old was in fine form for the Windies during their recent tour of Sri Lanka, picking up man-of-the-series honours in a 2-0 win over the home team.  In fact, with a T20 strike rate of 171.29, the signature of Russell has become one of the most coveted on contracts all over the globe.  His development has impressed the Trinidadian all-rounder, who knows a thing or two about high-quality performances himself.

“It’s the same thing I used to say about Chris Gayle, we are happy to have someone like Gayle representing us, we don’t have to come up and bowl against him in an international match. I think it’s the same with Andre Russell. Andre Russell now is our Chris Gayle, is our Brian Lara in the T20 format. He is a superstar, he’s the best player and we are happy,” Bravo told local Trinidad-based radio station I955 FM.

“He’s the best in the world and we’re happy to have him in our team.”

Russell has claimed a number of titles with various franchises, including five in eight months in 2016.  He was named in the team of the tournament at the T20 World Cup that same year.

Sunday was due to see the start of the Indian Premier League in 2020, with champions Mumbai Indians scheduled to take on Chennai Super Kings in a repeat of last year's final.

It was to be the first of 56 group games during the 13th season, the success of the lucrative Twenty20 competition showing no signs of slowing up despite pretenders springing up all over the world hoping to find the same magic formula for success.

However, the coronavirus outbreak put paid to the best-laid plans.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India announced a postponement until April 15 initially, yet it remains to be seen when – perhaps even if – the campaign will begin, considering the health crisis that is unfolding around the globe.

Still need your IPL fix, though? Why not enjoy a leisurely trip down memory lane to recall some of the notable moments in the tournament's history.

The argument regarding the players who should be ranked among the best of all time gets harder and harder as cricket evolves.

Batsmen are more dynamic and harder to contain these days, while bowlers had more advantages when you look back at it. There was even a time when pitches were uncovered and therefore much more of a nightmare to bat on.

Despite the ever-changing circumstances that most certainly impact the nature of performances over the decades, SportsMax’s editors have still been hardpressed to avoid the addiction of coming up with the answers to the age-old question of who is the greatest of all time.

As usual, we’ve come up with XI of them.

Now, the most challenging form of cricket is undoubtedly Test cricket. There might be a debate about which form of the game is best to watch, most profitable, which is the future of the game, all that. But there’s no argument that Test cricket has lived up to its name and is the hardest. This is why our XI will only have players who have played the longest format of the game.

Best XI

 

Don Bradman (Australia)

While many of the experts of the game today, never saw him play, it is still generally accepted that Sir Donald Bradman, with 29 centuries and 13 half-centuries from just 52 Test matches, is the greatest batsman to ever walk the planet. His average of 99.94 in Test cricket will likely never be matched. Interestingly, Bradman only hit six sixes in his glittering Test career.

Sachin Tendulkar (India)

If Bradman was the greatest, Sachin is the most complete batsman to ever play the game. The little magician’s batting is considered by those who wrote the textbook on the subject, to have the perfect mixture of balance, economy of movement, precision stroke-making, and most of all, anticipation. Sachin put all those together more often than not to average 53.78 from his 200 matches, getting to a century on 61 occasions and to a half-century on 68 others. Those statistics meant he amassed a mammoth 15,921 runs, by far the most of any batsman.

 

Brian Lara (West Indies)

Whenever the conversation about who is the greatest of all time comes up, the name Brian Charles Lara is never far away. Undoubtedly a genius, Lara still holds the world record for the most runs ever scored in a single Test innings. Lara’s 400 not out was not the first time the left-hander was putting together a score that nobody else had. Australia’s Matthew Hayden scored 380 against Zimbabwe to pass Lara’s first world-record effort of 375 against England but the diminutive left-hander would not be satisfied without breaking that record all over again. Lara’s first record-breaking effort bested Lara would score 34 centuries from 131 Tests at an average of 52.88. The Trinidad & Tobago native also scored 48 half-centuries, getting to 11,953 runs before he called it quits.

Vivian Richards (West Indies)

Sir Vivian Richards, the Master Blaster, turned Test cricket on its head with his brand of aggression. In a time when bowlers were the aggressors with the insistence on pace and bounce, Viv, changed the game, making bowlers quake at the sight of his nonchalance in the face of searing pace and his penchant for taking bowling attacks apart. Viv played 121 Test matches and ended with an average of 50.23 despite a long lean spell toward the end of his career. His highest score was 291 but his 24 centuries and 45 half-centuries were remarkable instances each time. There is many a bowler who, throughout the ‘80s hated to get wickets against the West Indies because that would mean the man who brought ‘swagger’ to cricket, would walk to the crease.

George Headley (West Indies)

Depending on where you hail from, George Headley is either the Black Bradman or Bradman is the white Headley. In 22 Tests, Headley scored a remarkable 10 centuries and five half-centuries including a highest score of 270 not out. Headley was the only batsman that stood between West Indies and regular capitulations. In fact, between 1929 and 1939, Headley did not have one bad Test series, scoring eight centuries against England and becoming the first immortal at Lord’s. Sir Len Hutton, a man who could easily make this list as one of the first batsmen who could be called a superstar, said he had never seen a batsman who played the ball later, making him a nightmare to set fields for.

 

Garfield Sobers (West Indies)

Sir Garfield Sobers is likely the finest all-rounder of all time, taking 235 wickets in his 93 Tests and scoring more than 8,000 runs in his 93 Tests. But his efforts as a batsman are by themselves, worthy of making him a certainty for this list. Sobers scored 26 hundreds in Test cricket but his first is something the game will never forget. In 14 previous Tests, Sobers had a highest score of 66 and averaged just 32.54. Though his talent was undeniable, Sobers was just not getting over that hump. Then Pakistan came calling. Sobers went into the third Test at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica having scored three half-centuries (52, 52 and 80) in the previous two. Walking in at number three with the score on 87-1, Sobers and Conrad Hunte would take the West Indies to 533-2 when Hunte fell for a brilliant 260. Sobers would keep batting, getting to 365 not out before the skipper Gerry Alexander declared the innings on 790-3. Until the era of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, the argument for the greatest batsman of all time stood between Bradman and Sobers. Sobers also became the first man to hit six sixes in an over

 

Rahul Dravid (India)

Many of the great innings the world experienced from Sachin Tendulkar were made possible by the man known as ‘The Wall’. Steadily, Rahul Dravid created the reputation for being one of the finest batsmen in the world and started the Indian revolution, helping them become a team that was dangerous, not just at home.

His technique and robotic-like concentration would help him to 36 centuries and 63 half-centuries from his 164 Tests. His 13,288 runs have made him legendary in India but around the world too. Himself and Sourav Ganguly formed the backbone of a formidable Indian batting line-up and every team knew, that without getting out either or both, India were likely to come out the winning side.

 

Sunil Gavaskar (India)

The first man to get to 10,000 Test runs and score 30 centuries, make him most undoubtedly one of the greatest batsmen of all time. But Gavaskar has an even more interesting legacy. He is the man who made Indian cricket what it is today, teaching his teammates and the country of now over one billion, the importance of a professional approach to cricket. But outside of that, Gavaksar must be credited as one of the few batsmen to be able to score significantly against the West Indies all-pace attack of the 1980s, scoring 13 centuries against them. In fact, Gavaskar played five Tests at the Queen’s Park Oval, averaging 99.12 at the ground. Gavaskar was a fine opener, averaging 51.12 over the course of 125 Tests, scoring 34 centuries and 45 half-centuries with a highest score of 236 not out against the West Indies in 1983.

 

Jacques Kallis (South Africa)

Jacques Kallis is the only man to threaten Sir Garfield Sobers as the greatest allrounder of all time, and like his West Indian predecessor, his batting makes him a good fit for this list of some of the greatest batsmen of all time.

Kallis played 166 Tests and averaged 55.37 on his way to scoring a mammoth 45 centuries and 58 half-centuries on his way to putting together 13,289 runs. Kallis was part of South Africa’s second rebirth after being let back into international cricket and along with young skipper Graeme Smith, he led a fight-back to international prominence by performing at a remarkably high level for a long time.

 

Steve Waugh (Australia)

Steve Waugh is not the batsman that a ground outside of Australia might fill up to watch and it was largely agreed that his brother, Mark Waugh, was the more talented of the two batsmen. However, Steve’s drive to do well, mixed with hard work and a fine ability to read a situation from the middle of the pitch made for a career that was more than something to be proud of. Waugh led Australia to becoming the most dominant team in World cricket throughout the early 2000s, overtaking the West Indies for that title, with a symbolic 2-2 draw in the Caribbean. Interestingly, Waugh made that draw possible with a double century in the final Test at Sabina Park in Kingston that kick-started a spree of run-scoring that would not be halted until his retirement.

Waugh would play 168 Tests at an average of just over 51. That double century in Kingston was his highest score on the way to 10,927 runs. His 50 half-centuries meant there were very few times Waugh didn’t contribute to Australia’s eventual totals. Like Dravid and Ganguly were for India, Waugh was the rock that held the team together, the talented batsman evolving over time to a player who had eliminated risk from his game.

 

Kumar Sangakarra (Sri Lanka)

Kumar Sangakarra came into the Sri Lankan team on the back of careers like that of Arjuna Ranatunga and Asanka Gurusinha, who paved the way for dismissing the myth that batsmen from that area of the world could be blown off the pitch by good aggressive pace bowling. Sangakarra was decidedly a battler, but he added quite a bit of grace to the role, cementing his place in the side for 134 Tests in which he averaged 57.40. Sangakarra would end his Test career with 12,400 runs, 38 centuries and 52 half-centuries. Interestingly, nobody, not even the great Sachin Tendulkar, made it to 10,000 runs more quickly, the two being joint quickest to the milestone.

March 28 was the day when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went from the interim manager to Manchester United's permanent boss.

It was also the date that the Colts upped sticks and made the stunning move from Baltimore to relocate to Indianapolis.

March 28 remains a day of one of cricket's most significant milestones as well.

We take a closer look at what happened on this day in sports.

 

1955 - New Zealand all out for 26

The lowest Test score in history - recorded by the home side in Auckland - may never be broken.

New Zealand, who, at that point had not won a match in the longest format in the 24 years since they were granted Test status, were skittled out inside 27 overs against England.

Four batsmen were dismissed without scoring, another three having made only a single.

New Zealand's innings lasted just one hour, 40 minutes and they fell to an innnings-and-20-run loss to the tourists.

1984 - The Colts head to Indy

It is one of the most famous, and shocking, stories in NFL history.

Fifteen trucks turned up at the Baltimore Colts' Owing Mills facility under the cover of darkness, packed up the team's belongings and headed for Indianapolis.

Baltimore city officials had already passed legislation that would allow them to seize control of the Colts but, once the trucks left the state of Maryland, that did not matter.

The Colts remain Indianapolis' team today while Baltimore had to wait until 1996 before being awarded another NFL franchise - the Ravens.

2019 - Solskjaer appointed on a permanent basis

Exactly one year ago, United responded to their first back-to-back losses under interim boss Solskjaer by making the Norwegian's arrangement permanent and handing him a three-year contract.

United had previously won their first eight games in a row under Solskjaer and beat Paris Saint-Germain in France in March to advance in the Champions League.

"This is the job that I always dreamed of doing and I'm beyond excited to have the chance to lead the club long term," Solskjaer said of his appointment.

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) decision to award the Regional first-class title to runaway leaders Barbados Pride in its aborted season is untidy, although widely accepted.

The Pride were dominant all season and I am quite sure they would have emerged champions in a completed 2019-20 campaign but the fact is their lead was not impregnable with two rounds remaining.

To declare the season annulled must have been a huge consideration, primarily because the championship was incomplete and an outcome contrary to the current standings was still possible, even if unlikely.

These unforeseen circumstances should now force the CWI’s competition organisers to include a section in the conditions covering an incomplete season.

With 134.8 points, the Pride were a massive 40.2 points ahead of nearest rivals T&T Red Force (94.6) after eight completed rounds with the dethroned champions Guyana Jaguars and the Jamaica Scorpions joint third on 91.8 points.

The maximum points on offer for any winning team for each round in the 10-game home and away format is 24 points, meaning the second-placed Red Force could have finished with 142.6 points after the 10 completed rounds, clearly ahead of where the Barbados Pride are now.

No one could have foreseen the dramatic turn of events in all our lives the COVID-19 Pandemic has triggered and massive decisions have had to be made.

The CWI Board of Directors “unanimously agreed” to award the Headley/Weekes Trophy to the Barbados Pride on the basis that a huge majority of the season (80%) had been completed and on projection and form it was reasonable to deduce that the Pride would have gone on to easily top the championship table. The Pride needed a mere 7.8 points from their remaining two games to secure the title and their performance curve was comfortably heading there.

Add to that, their fast-bowling battery poised to earn valuable pace-bowling points -- world-class Test bowlers Jason Holder and Kemar Roach plus Chemar Holder and Keon Harding, No.2 and No.7 respectively on the list of the championship’s most prolific wicket-takers.

The CWI would have also considered recent precedents in the issue. In New Zealand, the 26-point league-leaders Wellington Firebirds were declared winners of their National Plunket Shield with the last two rounds of the competition cancelled even though their lead was not unassailable.

New South Wales (NSW) were also given the Sheffield Shield title in Australia after the cancellation of the final also as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. NSW were declared champions after “leading the competition through nine rounds" Cricket Australia said in a statement.

The CWI’s decision to award the Pride their first title since back-to-back wins in 2013 and 2014 had “no dissenting voices” in the Board room and I have, up to this point, heard not a single complaint about the unorthodox decision.

I am eagerly awaiting the 2019-20 English Premier League football conclusion. Big leaders Liverpool are 25 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City and need six more points to be mathematically sure of the title. The push is to have the season completed no matter what but should it happen that the season is incomplete, would they award Liverpool the title?

Boxing has some clearly defined rules regarding aborted bouts, if for instance injury – example an accidental head-butt -- terminates a world championship contest. A technical draw, a virtual no-result, if the bout is halted within the first five rounds (halfway stage) but if the bout is halted beyond the halfway stage, a winner is declared by a “technical decision” based on who is leading on the scorecards at the point of the stoppage.

There is room for a leader being awarded a victory in an aborted competition, but I am more accepting of it, if the pre-existing rules stated it.

This uncontested CWI decision to crown the Barbados Pride may have also been an example of stakeholders recognizing in these times of a sweeping worldwide pandemic taking tens of thousands of lives, that understanding and compassion are human virtues winning over fighting and quarreling, which I guess is good.

Congrats to the Barbados Pride though who are rewarded for being the undisputed best in the championship.

They stuttered in an opening-game loss to the Windward Islands Volcanoes but then reeled off five consecutive wins over the Jaguars, Scorpions and Leeward Islands Hurricanes before a revenge win in the sixth round over the Volcanoes, and, to accentuate their supremacy, lashed five-time defending champions Jaguars by a massive 235 runs to close out the shortened season.

West Indies Limited overs captain Kieron Pollard is asking his players to, not just stay safe during the most worrying times in recent history with the massive spread of COVID-19, but is also telling them to be ready for when normalcy returns.

According to Pollard, while the spread of COVID-19 has brought sport around the world to a halt, there is an opportunity for West Indies players to improve.

“I think it is a good time for introspection, a good time for reflection, a good time to look at where you are as an individual, in your career and what you want to achieve going forward,” said the skipper, a man not known to mince words.

The West Indies have been sporadically producing good results under Pollard’s watch, but the big all-rounder has craved consistency, something he says will come with a better mental approach.

That approach, thanks to COVID-19, can be honed during this time off.

“[…] you have to take the time to do that and also to keep yourself in physical shape and mentally as well because when the bell rings and you hear ‘ok everything is back to normal and we need to go on tour,’ there might not be enough time to prepare so you, yourself as an individual have to be prepared mentally in order for you to try to perform at your best,” he said.

According to Pollard his public statements won’t count as new to the players.

“[…] guys have been notified as to where they need to be and the onus is on individuals to try and meet those requirements,” said Pollard.

The Barbados Pride were crowned kings of the West Indies Championship even though the season ended with two games yet to play. Is there are an argument that they are undeserving?

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