Vasbert Drakes says the pace of former sprinter Chemar Holder can make a fierce West Indies attack even more potent in the Test series against England.

Uncapped 22-year-old Holder was named in the touring party following some outstanding domestic performances for Barbados Pride in the West Indies Championship.

The Barbadian gave a demonstration of his huge potential back in 2016 when the Windies won the Under-19 Cricket World Cup and could make his senior debut during a three-match series in England, which starts behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl next Wednesday.

Former West Indies fast bowler and assistant coach Drakes has helped to nurture Holder's talent and thinks he can cause England problems if he is given an opportunity.

Drakes told Stats Perform News: "I've known Chemar from a young age, he went to school with my son, Dominic, and they have come through the system together and been part of the group of West Indies Emerging Players.

"I have done some one-to-one coaching work with him and he's got some good attributes, good skill sets. He's a hard worker and used to be a sprinter, he was a 400 metres runner and also competed in the 1500 metres.

"When he gets it right, he's consistently in the high 80s [miles per hour]. The only way to find out if he's ready is to throw him in at the deep end against England.

"He would have played against England A team last year and would have gone to England the year before that as part of the Emerging Players group, so he would have had the experience of bowling in those conditions."

Kemar Roach was among 12 members of the Windies squad who Drakes worked with before they flew out to England for the first international cricket since the coronavirus pandemic brought the vast majority of sport to a halt.

Roach was man of the series when West Indies won a Test series against England in the Caribbean last year and Drakes, who was assistant coach for that 2-1 triumph, says he can make a big impact again.

Asked if Roach will be the spearhead of the attack, he replied: "Absolutely. One of the things he did well last year was he took early wickets.

"Without giving away too much methodology in how to deconstruct the opposition gameplan and counter them, Kemar Roach has the ability to take early wickets, releasing the ball from wide of the crease and moving away from batsmen - particularly the right-handers.

"His track record against left-handers is phenomenal and England have some left-handers. Kemar and Jason [captain Holder], they set the tone along with [Alzarri] Joseph and Shannon Gabriel can be a threat with his pace and uncertainty he creates.

"It will be interesting to see if that combination can work as it did in the Caribbean."

The International Cricket Council (ICC) says there is no evidence to merit launching an investigation into allegations that the 2011 Cricket World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka was fixed.

A criminal probe was launched in Sri Lanka following claims made by Mahindananda Aluthgamage, the country's sports minister at the time of a final won by India in Mumbai nine years ago.

Aluthgamage alleged that Sri Lanka had "sold" the World Cup, prompting a special investigation to be opened.

Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva and Upul Tharanga were called in for questioning, but police this week dropped the probe. Mahela Jayawardene was due to be questioned but the investigation was dropped before he appeared.

The ICC on Friday said the governing body has not received any information to suggest there was any wrongdoing.

ICC anti-corruption code general manager Alex Marshall said: "The ICC Integrity Unit has looked into the recent allegations regarding the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup final 2011.

"At this time, we have not been presented with any evidence that supports the claims made or which would merit launching an investigation under the ICC anti-corruption code.

"There is no record of any letter regarding this matter sent by the then Sri Lanka sports minister to the ICC and senior ICC staff at the time have confirmed they have no recollection of receiving any such letter which would have led to an investigation.

"We have no reason to doubt the integrity of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup final 2011.

"We take all allegations of this nature extremely seriously and should we receive any evidence to corroborate the claims, we will review our current position."

England all-rounder Sam Curran will return to training this weekend after testing negative for COVID-19.

Curran pulled out of an intra-squad practice match in Southampton, which ends on Friday, as he was suffering from sickness and diarrhoea.

The 22-year-old was tested for coronavirus on Thursday and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revealed he has been given the all-clear.

Curran has been self-isolating in his hotel room at the Ageas Bowl but is set to re-join his team-mates ahead of the first Test against West Indies, which starts next Wednesday.

He will be tested for COVID-19 again on Sunday along with the rest of the England team and management group.

Regional cricket analyst Fazeer Mohammed has taken exception to recent comments made by Windies coach Roddy Estwick, who recently compared the current bowling unit to the famed West Indies pace attack of the past.

The bowling unit of Kemar Roach, Jason Holder and Shannon Gabriel and on occasion Alzarri Joseph has done well for the West Indies in recent series, leading an excited Estwick's claim that the West Indies were ‘beginning to get blessed again with fast bowlers’ and that 'the current crop was the best group since the great days.’

While agreeing that the unit did possess some amount of talent, Mohammed insisted Estwick’s comparison was a bit over the top.

“I think there is too much being made about the quality of our fast bowling.  Roddy Estwick made the point that this is our best fast bowling unit since the great era, that is complete nonsense,” Mohammed told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“These four fast bowlers are really good and show tremendous talent, but I think Roddy is getting a little carried away, there is no way this quartet compares with the like of Roberts, Malcolm, Croft, and Garner,” he added.

In addition to the afore mention trio, however, the current crop is also able to call on the likes of bowlers Chemar Holder and O’shane Thomas who have plenty of pace, if not the necessary experience.

Kyle Mayers missed out on a century on the final day of the West Indies’ four-day intra-squad match at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, running out of partners, while Shannon Gabriel picked up four wickets in a low-scoring draw.

With the first day and a part of the second a wash-out, the West Indies intra-squad game came down to a one-inning affair and by necessity, a draw.

There were two points of interest with the bat, none of them coming from the usual suspects.

On day three Joshua Da Silva scored an unbeaten 133 as Jason Holder’s XI recovered from 120-5 on Tuesday to post 272 against the bowling of Preston McSween, 3-28, and Chemar Holder, 2-35.

There was also a wicket apiece for Oshane Thomas, 1-24, Keon Harding, 1-69, Markino Mindley, 1-32, Anderson Phillip, 1-16, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 1-32.

Da Silva formed good partnerships with Raymon Reifer, who scored 22, and Alzarri Joseph, who scored 38. On Wednesday, only Sunil Ambris, with 25 managed a score in the double digits.

In fact, the next best scorer for Holder’s XI, who faced a team led by his vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite, was the extras column, with 43 runs going a-begging.

In reply, Brathwaite’s XI scored a paltry 178 all out, the only bright element of the innings coming from Kyle Mayers, who scored an unbeaten 74, running out of partners before he could get to three figures.

But Mayers failure to get to three figures wasn't for a lack of effort. He was savage, scoring his 74 from just 56 deliveries in which he clubbed three sixes and nine fours.

Shannon Gabriel was the pick of the bowlers for Holder’s XI, showing himself to be somewhere back to full fitness with an impressive bowling performance of 4-42.

Kemar Roach, 2-25, Holder, 1-21, Joseph, 2-64, and Reifer, 1-21, also got in on the action.

The West Indies are in preparation mode for the #RaisetheBat series against England, with the first match of a three-Test affair slated to begin on July 8 at the Rose Bowl in South Hampton.

The team will then play in two games at their Old Trafford base on July 16 and 24.

West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel has been included in the Test squad for the upcoming series against England.

Initially, the 32-year-old quick was included as a reserve, having recovered from an ankle injury in the past several months.  With no competitive cricket available to the player during the COVID-19 pandemic, doubts had surfaced regarding his fitness.

Gabriel has, however, proven himself match fit over the last couple of weeks and is expected to return to the bowling line-up.  In the warm-up matches, the bowler has claimed eight wickets at an average of just over 15.

Thursday was the last day of the West Indies' second and final warm-up game.  The team’s coach Phil Simmons returned to the bench after his latest negative coronavirus test.

West Indies captain Jason Holder, who has struggled for form with the bat, tried to gain more time in the middle by promoting himself up the order to open the batting for his team, against the Kraigg Brathwaite XI.  The all-rounder could only manage two off 15 deliveries, for a total of just seven runs in the warm-up games.

Gabriel was much better as he took four for 42 as Brathwaite's XI were bowled out for 178 in a drawn encounter, after resuming on 112 for seven.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) yesterday paid tribute to Sir Everton Weekes, the legendary West Indies batsman and pioneer. Sir Everton was one of the most significant figures in the history of the sport – as a batsman of the highest quality, he played alongside other forefathers of West Indies cricket for a decade at the international level.

He was part of the famous Three Ws – alongside Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Clyde Walcott. He was also a highly respected coach, a knowledgeable analyst on the game for the regional and international media, as well as a former Team Manager, Match Referee for the International Cricket Council, and a member of the ICC Hall of Fame.

He passed away on Wednesday at the age of 95.

Ricky Skerritt, President of CWI said: “On behalf of CWI I want to publicly express our deepest sympathy to the family of this remarkable Iconic sportsman and gentleman, who passed away earlier today [yesterday]. I also send condolences to former CWI President Sir Wes Hall, and his family, who were all extremely close to Sir Everton. I never had the opportunity to see Sir Everton bat, but I had the opportunity to get to know him a little in his later years. I learned about his incredible career by reading about him and looking at old videos when I could. His performance stats were excellent as he set tremendously high standards for his time.

Sir Everton was, therefore, a most amazing pioneer in West Indies cricket; a gentleman and quite simply a wonderful human being. I got to spend a couple of hours with him last year just sitting at his home and talking with him, at a time when he was recovering from a serious illness. I have never known a more humble and gentle human being. I grew to appreciate his sense of humour and his love of people and witnessed the love and respect that so many held for him in Barbados and across the entire region. I am so privileged to have known this amazing West Indian Legend and gentleman. Sir Everton Weekes was truly one of the founding fathers of West Indies cricket excellence. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”

Born, Everton DeCourcey Weekes, he was a member of the famous Empire Club in Barbados, which was also home to several other legends of the game including Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Charlie Griffith and Sir Conrad Hunte.

He made his Test debut at age 22 against England at Kensington Oval in 1948 under the captaincy of George Headley. His final match was against Pakistan in Trinidad a decade later.

In his career, Sir Everton played 48 Test matches and made 4455 runs at an average of 58.61 per innings. This included a world record five consecutive centuries in 1948 – scores of 141 against England in Jamaica, followed by scores of 128, 194, 162 and 101 in India. In his next innings, he made 90.

His average of 58.61 runs means Sir Everton is one of two West Indies greats, along with George Headley, in the top 10 Test averages of all time. This average has been bettered by only four players in history to have scored more than 4000 runs. In all first-class cricket he played 152 matches and scored 12010 runs at an average of 55.34 with a top score of 304 not out.

England all-rounder Sam Curran was tested for COVID-19 on Thursday after pulling out of the team's practice match in Southampton.

Curran was taken ill with sickness and diarrhoea overnight and has been self-isolating in his room at the Ageas Bowl.

A statement released by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) reported Curran was feeling better as the day progressed but would play no further part in the intra-squad warm-up game being played between sides captained by Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.

Curran scored 15 not out as Buttler's team posted 287-5 on Wednesday.

England are training and preparing at their Ageas Bowl "bubble" for the first of three behind-closed-doors Tests against West Indies, a series that begins next week.

Stokes will captain the hosts as skipper Joe Root attends the birth of his second child, with Curran's participation now a major doubt.

A left-arm swing bowler who also provides valuable lower-order runs, Curran played all six of England's away Tests in New Zealand and South Africa that comprised their 2019-20 winter schedule.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has offered its condolences following the death of former West Indies batsman Everton Weekes at the age of 95.

In a statement, ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney remembered ICC Cricket Hall of Famer Weekes as a top batsman of his era and one whose performances will be long remembered.

“Weekes is a distinguished name in cricket and he was an integral member of one of the best Test sides ever. We all know of the ‘The Three Ws’ that comprised Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott and Weekes, and the reputation they had during the 1940s and 50s.

“His attacking batting contributed in making the West Indies such an attractive side to watch. To be in that team itself was such a big honour, but there were times when Weekes really stood apart with his distinct style. On behalf of everyone at the ICC, I send our sincere condolences to his family and friends,” said Sawhney.

Weekes played 48 Test matches from 1947 to 1958, aggregating 4,455 runs at an average of 58.61. Known to show quick footwork and fluent stroke-play, Weekes slammed 15 centuries, which included a record five in consecutive innings in 1948.

One of those centuries came at home against England and four on a tour of India. He almost got a sixth consecutive century but was unlucky to be run out for 90 at Chennai.

Weekes’s cousin Bam Bam Weekes and son David Murray played international cricket while a few other relatives played first-class cricket.

Weekes officiated as an ICC match referee in three Tests and four One Day Internationals, all in 1994.

England will wear the Black Lives Matter logo on their shirts during the upcoming Test series against West Indies.

The Windies face England in behind closed doors games over the course of July, starting next Wednesday.

As a show of solidarity with the movement campaigning for racial equality, England's players will have "Black Lives Matter" displayed on the collar of their shirts throughout the three-match rubber after agreeing to do so with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

The emblem was designed by Alisha Hosannah, the partner of Watford captain Troy Deeney, and has been added to Premier League shirts for all games since the resumption of elite football in England last month.

West Indies' players will wear an identical logo on their shirts.

"It is important to show solidarity to the black community and to raise much-needed awareness around the topics of equality and justice," said England captain Joe Root, who will miss the first Test in Southampton due to the birth of his second child.

"The England players and management are unified in this approach and will use the platform of international cricket to fully support the objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists.

"There has to be equal opportunity and equal rights for all. We hope by making this stance we can play our part in standing shoulder-to-shoulder as a team and we hope that by continuing to raise awareness we can move towards a society in which the colour of your skin and your background has no bearing on your opportunities.

"It is very simple, we believe there is no room for racism or any form of discrimination, anywhere."

 

Heading into the final day of their four-day intra-squad match at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, the West Indies have continued to find the going tough with the bat, with the exception of wicketkeeper-batsman Joshua Da Silva.

Da Silva scored an unbeaten 133 as Jason Holder’s XI recovered from 120-5 yesterday to post 272 against the bowling of Preston McSween, 3-28, and Chemar Holder, 2-35.

There was also a wicket apiece for Oshane Thomas, 1-24, Keon Harding, 1-69, Markino Mindley, 1-32, Anderson Phillip, 1-16, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 1-32.

Da Silva formed good partnerships with Raymon Reifer, who scored 22, and Alzarri Joseph, who scored 38. Yesterday, only Sunil Ambris, with 25 managed a score in the double digits.

In fact, the next best scorer for Holder’s XI, who are competing against a team led by his vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite, was the extras column, with 43 runs going a-begging.

In reply, Brathwaite’s XI have found things just as difficult, with Kyle Mayers, on 43, and Mindley on nine, the batsmen at the crease with the score on 112-7 from just 25 overs.

Shannon Gabriel has been the pick of the bowlers for Holder’s XI with 3-34.

Kemar Roach, 1-14, Holder, 1-21, Joseph, 1-17, and Reifer, 1-21, have also got in on the action.

Earlier, Da Silva, batted for just over six hours, facing 248 deliveries for his tally and smacked 17 boundaries in a mature knock.

The West Indies are in preparation mode for the #RaisetheBat series against England, with the first match of a three-Test affair slated to begin on July 8 at the Rose Bowl in South Hampton.

The team will then play in two games at their Old Trafford base on July 16 and 24.

The last of the three Ws, Sir Everton Weekes has passed.

President of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), Conde Riley, is wrong to ask for the immediate sacking of West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons.

I have great respect for Mr Riley, who has served Barbados and West Indies cricket admirably for more than 20 years, but his utterances this week were, in a word, irresponsible.

Mr Riley’s comments have created an issue where there should be none.

Here are the facts as I understand them.

Simmons had a death in his family and there was a funeral which would, if he were to go, place him at risk of contracting COVID-19 because he is now outside of the bio-secure controls at Old Trafford, Manchester where the West Indies cricket team is staying ahead of a three-Test series against England.

Once outside of the bubble, Simmons (and the coach must have been fully aware of this, put himself at the risk of adding to the 313, 483 cases of Coronavirus in the United Kingdom.

The CWI and the England and Wales Cricket Board had come up with a strategy for ensuring the safety of cricketers in this series, inclusive of protocols for when somebody has to leave the bio-secure environment.

Those protocols satisfied both parties that those inside the environment would be kept safe from those who come into it from outside.

Simmons would now be treated like somebody coming from outside and would have to self-isolate and go through testing before being re-integrated with those who had remained inside the bubble.

That being said, once all protocols are observed, there would be no risk to the players and/or staff, even if Simmons contracts COVID-19. So far, he has tested negative on two occasions.

The BCA president pointed out that he had received a number of phone calls from concerned parents and members of the BCA with concerns about the safety of the players, given Simmons’ actions.

However, as a member of the CWI board, Riley should have known that the protocols, put in place before the players left the Caribbean, would have meant no added risk because of Simmons’ exit and subsequent return. There should never have been this sort of knee-jerk reaction.

As a member of the CWI board, it should have been incumbent on Mr Riley to assure those calling, that the maintenance of the players’ safety had not been compromised.

Instead, Mr Riley fuelled an unjustified panic regarding the situation and ‘put pen to paper’ in an email to the board, that clearly spoke to an uninformed position.

"I just heard on the radio that our head coach Mr Phil Simmons attended a funeral recently and is now being quarantined as a result. If this is true, I am calling for his immediate removal as head coach,” read the email.

Simmons wasn’t being ‘quarantined as a result’. That was part of the protocol agreed to before he left. And the president of the BCA should never ben using language like “if this is true.” Why wouldn’t you get all the facts before penning such a potentially damaging missive?

Mr Riley went on to call Simmons’ behaviour “inconsiderate and reckless” but I submit that it was carefully planned and not reckless at all. There was no danger to anyone but Simmons himself.

Cricket West Indies had made a public statement about Simmons’ activities and Riley’s email runs in stark contrast to that.

"The entire process of his exit and re-entry to the bio-secure location was approved and managed by the medical teams of the CWI and the ECB and strictly followed protocols set up prior to the tour which addressed such scenarios," read the CWI statement.

How could Mr Riley and the CWI be so divergent in their views?

Mr Riley also suggested that the CWI be pro-active in anticipation of backlash from the English press.

No such backlash has come.

In fact, the only question that has come from the English press about Simmons’ actions, have had nothing to do with player safety.

Alzarri Joseph was asked if Simmons’ self-isolation would impact the ongoing practice game the West Indies are now playing in preparation for the first Test on July 8.

Joseph’s response was instructive.

According to the young fast bowler, the team of coaches was prepared for Simmons’ absence and everybody, including the players, already know what their jobs are.

Mr Riley should also know what his job is, and it isn’t to suggest that a coach be fired.

Now let’s hope the West Indies can put this behind them and get back to the business of retaining the Wisden Trophy at the end of #RaisetheBat series.

England have confirmed Ben Stokes will captain the Test side against West Indies next week as Joe Root will attend the birth of his second child. 

Regular skipper Root will leave the team's training camp on Wednesday to be with his wife, Carrie, who is expecting their child later this week.

Due to coronavirus protocol, Root will need to self-isolate for seven days once he leaves the hospital, meaning he will miss the start of the first Test, which begins on July 8.

All-rounder Stokes, who is normally the vice-captain, will therefore fill in for Root as the skipper for the first of the three Tests.

Root is due to return to the role for the second Test, which begins in Manchester on July 13.

Former India opening batsman turned cricket pundit Aakash Chopra has excluded West Indies batsman Chris Gayle from an All-time XI IPL squad, opting in favour of a more ‘consistent’ David Warner.

Gayle, the big Windies left-hander, has his name etched on a host of IPL records and accomplishments at the top of the order in the IPL.  The opening batsman has the tournament’s highest individual score (175), most sixes (326), fastest century and the most 100s (6).  The Australian, however, has 222 more runs overall, in one more match than Gayle, and has also scored the most 50s with 44.

While acknowledging Gayle’s explosiveness as an opener, Chopra explains he chose Warner based on consistency.

“My first pick is David Warner, the first overseas player as an opener. You will also think of Chris Gayle, but he is not more consistent than David Warner,” Chopra said on his YouTube channel.

“He [Gayle] has been explosive but Warner is not behind anyone. So, Warner as one of the overseas players. He has been one of the most consistent batsmen ever.”

Mystery spinner and sometimes pinch hitter Sunil Narine was the only West Indian to make Chopra’s XI, with the former opener also finding no place for another big hitter and fan favourite Andre Russell.

 

Aakash Chopra’s All-time IPL XI

  1. David Warner
  2. Rohit Sharma

       3. Virat Kohli

  1. Suresh Raina
  2. AB de Villiers
  3. MS Dhoni
  4. Sunil Narine
  5. Harbhajan Singh

      9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar

  1. Lasith Malinga
  2. Jasprit Bumrah
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