Kieron Pollard will lead a powerful TT Red Force squad when the CG Insurance Super50 Cup bowls off in Antigua and Barbuda from February 7-27.

Pollard heads a seasoned squad of players that include the likes of Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons and the hard-hitting Nicholas Pooran. Darren Bravo, who will form part of the strong squad will also serve as vice-captain for the team that were semi-finalists last time out.

The T&T selectors have also picked the experienced Jason Mohammed, who is on West Indies duty in Bangladesh as well as former West Indies representatives Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin and Ravi Rampaul.

Imran Khan, Akeal Hosein, opener Kjorn Ottley, Khary Pierre, Anderson Phillip and Jayden Seales are also in line to represent the team from the twin-island republic that on paper should start as favourites to win the shortened version of the competition in 2021.

The full squad reads: Kieron Pollard (captain), Darren Bravo (vice-captain), Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Jason Mohammed, Nicholas Pooran, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Imran Khan, Akeal Hosein, Ravi Rampaul, Jayden Seales, Kjorn Ottley, Anderson Phillip, Khary Pierre.

Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Carlos Brathwaite are among several West Indies players who have made themselves available for the Pakistan Super League draft set for January 10, 2021, in Lahore.

Evin Lewis and Lendl Simmons were also the players whose names were released on Tuesday by the PSL. They are among 25 international players who will be available for the six-team competition even though some of them will only be available for a part of the season due to a packed international calendar during the February to March window.

Gayle has played previously in the PSL for the Karachi Kings and the Lahore Qalanders.

Other notable players who are in the draft pool include Imran Tahir, Chris Jordan, Chris Lyn, Mohammed Nabi, Alex Hales and Morne Morkel.

The 25 foreign players have been placed in the 'Platinum' category, from which the six franchises will select.

 

 

I use my Sundays to look back at what has been happening in the world of sport. On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week through different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT. 

1. WEST INDIES FACE TOUGH CHALLENGE IN NEW ZEALAND

As West Indies get set to face New Zealand with the opening T20 in Auckland on November 27, followed by the second and third game in Mount Maunganui on November 29 and 30, the West Indies have a huge amount of work to do if they are to be successful during the series.

The Covid-19 pandemic has limited the number of practice sessions and injuries have also dealt a blow to the squad. On form, New Zealand ranked second in Tests and sixth in T20 has a clear advantage. 

In an exclusive interview with former West Indies fast bowler Tony Gray he believes the West Indies will miss the absent players. 

“I think the West Indies T20 team will be very competitive in the three-match series against New Zealand, although they will definitely miss the four senior players Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Andre Russell, and Dwayne Bravo, who would of given them a huge advantage mainly because of their international T20 franchise experience, their power hitting ability and, in the case of Bravo, his general all-round contribution, especially his ‘death’ bowling.  

“I think we have enough talent and experience to come away with a 2-1 win in that series.” 

The former Windies selector also weighed in on the Test team. 

“In the case of our Test team, I think we will struggle because of our batsmen’s technical deficiencies and their inability to concentrate for long periods, coupled with the fact that they will be coming up against one of the most disciplined, penetrative and varied bowling attacks in the world, so that our very inexperience batsmen will have to consistently make technical adjustments from bowler to bowler, as we saw in England,” Gray said.  

“The good thing for us is the fact that we had the perfect recent prelude to this tour of New Zealand when we played against England in England, similar playing conditions, similar opposition. 

“Our bowlers will hold their own, in helpful conditions. Head coach Simmons and his coaches have a lot of work to do.” 

Meantime, former wicketkeeper/batsman Sir Deryck Murray believes the tour will be a difficult one for the Caribbean side. 

"It will be difficult to beat New Zealand in New Zealand, particularly as, once again, Windies has not selected the best team. 

“While most of the West Indies players were on the last tour of UK and may therefore be more "match ready", that may not be sufficient for the team to spring a surprise on New Zealand in the Tests. The T20s, however, should be more competitive." 

 

 SHOULD MANCHESTER UNITED SACK OLE GUNNAR SOLSKAER? 

Manchester United’s Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under pressure after a dismal start to the Premier League campaign that sees the Red Devils languishing in the lower half of the table, with three defeats in their first seven matches. Had they not recorded a 3-1 win over Everton on Saturday, they would have produced the worst start to a league season in 30 years. The results have been so poor many have called for the manager to be sacked. 

However, football analyst Andre Sooklal believes the Red Devils issues go well beyond the manager. 

“Firing Ole Gunner Solskjaer from Manchester United now would not solve the bigger problems at the club. Even if they had a world-class coach lined up, the past has shown that this approach has not worked,” Sooklal said.

“David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho are all top coaches, but they all struggled with the sometimes baffling decision making at the club by Ed Woodward and all left. 

 “To suggest that signing better players would solve the problems at the club would also show massive short-sightedness by everyone involved because that is simply not the case. The club has reportedly spent £850 million in player-transfers since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, which included the likes of players like Di Maria, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lukaku and Memphis Depay, just to name a few, yet the club continued to struggle.

“The only time was there was a brief positive moment was when the club managed to squeeze out some titles under Jose Mourinho. 

Sooklal said the current manager was hired to rebuild the club around young players and that can be a time-consuming process.

“If Manchester United were to fire Ole now they would have to obtain coach who can immediately turn the results around while building for the future.  The likely candidate it seems is Mauricio Pochettino for now but the decision-makers at Manchester United have to ask themselves if they want to be patient with Ole and let him build his team or cut their losses and go with another coach.”

Injury, concerns over safety and a need for a clear head are the reasons behind Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons and Andre Russell’s decisions not to accept invitations to join the West Indies’ tour of New Zealand starting next month.

The West Indies on Friday named a 14-man squad that is expected to play three T20 Internationals in New Zealand later this year that included Andre Fletcher who was making a return to the squad after a two-year absence as well as Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo. However, it was noticeable that Russell, Lewis and Simmons were absent.

Chief selector Roger Harper explained during a press conference Friday morning that the three batsman gave different reasons why they opted out.

Simmons, he said, decided against travelling after discussions with his family. Lewis, he said, also discussed the issue with family but was also concerned about a injury that needed more time to heal.

Russell, who is currently playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, said he needed time to clear his head after being in quarantine situations in the Caribbean Premier League and IPL competitions.

“Lendl Simmons and Andre Russell are two very experienced T20 players who performed very well on the last tour of Sri Lanka and their absence will surely be noted,” Harper said in a release from CWI.

However, the respective decisions to decline the invitations to tour will not factor in the selection process to future teams, CWI said.

 

 The Trinbago Knight Riders once again showed that they are a formidable squad, not just an XI, as even with four changes, Sunil Narine still rested and Colin Munro injured, they put together a superbly planned and executed performance to bowl out St Kitts & Nevis Patriots inside 19 overs and chase their modest target inside 12 overs, thus completing a perfect 10-for-10 record in the league stage of Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020.

Ben Dunk hit consecutive Hero Maximums in the last over to ensure Evin Lewis’ brilliance was not in vain, taking St Kitts & Nevis Patriots to their first win of Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020. The Barbados Tridents, however, will take encouragement from their middle-order firing at last as well as good performances from some inexperienced bowlers.

West Indian opener Evin Lewis has gone through his ups and downs with injury and form over the course of his eight-year career as a T20 opener to date. But there is no doubting his big-hitting potential when he is on. There are few more destructive batsmen in world cricket, with Lewis’ 125 still the highest T20I score for the West Indies, a team that boasts a colossus of T20 cricket in Chris Gayle. There are no good deliveries to Lewis when he is on the go, it is no wonder he chose Gayle as his mentor many years ago before he ended up partnering with the big left-hander at the top of the order for the West Indies. Lewis scores big too, the diminutive left-hander having had four centuries in his T20 career to go along with his 29 50s.

 

Career Statistics (2012-present)

Full name: Evin Lewis

Born: December 27, 1991, Port of Spain, Trinidad (28)

Major teams: West Indies, Barisal Bulls, Comilla Victorians, Dhaka Dynamites, Karnataka Tuskers, Mumbai Indians, Punjabi Legends, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Trinidad & Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel, Vancouver Knights, West Indies A, West Indies Cricket Board President's XI, West Indies Under-19s

Playing role: Opening batsman

Batting style: Left-hand bat

T20I Career

Mat   Inns   NO    Runs     HS      Ave      BF      SR      100   50      4s     6s    

32       31       2      934      125*   32.20    601   155.40     2      6      64     73   

T20 Career

Mat   Inns   NO    Runs      HS       Ave      BF       SR        100     50     4s     6s   

148     144     8      4217      125*   31.00    2934    143.72      4      29    344    282    

 

Career Highlights

  • CWI 2018 T20I Cricketer of the Year
  • 935 T20I runs at 32.20 and 155.40 strike rate
  • Highest T20I score by West Indian (125*)
  • 4217 T20 runs at an average of 31.00

The St Kitts & Nevis Patriots have retained or sign seven Caribbean players including Evin Lewis, Fabien Allen and Sheldon Cottrell ahead of the 2020 CPL draft.

Guyanese prodigy, Shimron Hetmyer, has earned a recall to the West Indies squad scheduled to play against Sri Lanka in two Twenty20 Internationals on March 4 and six after the completion of the current One-Day International between the teams.

Hetmyer and Evin Lewis were spectacularly dropped after an announcement they had both failed fitness tests Cricket West Indies selectors had implemented as a requirement for selection.

There is still no recall for Lewis, who had, not long before, overcome poor form in typically destructive fashion.

The squad also includes a recall for Andre Russell and Oshane Thomas.

Allrounder Russell, 31,  hasn't played for the Caribbean side since pulling up short midway through the 50-over World Cup in June 2019. However, he has taken part in other matches, most notably in the Bangladesh Premier League in December and January

Russell is a two-time ICC T20 World Cup winner, having played a crucial role in the triumphs back in 2012 in Sri Lanka and 2016 in India. He has successfully completed the Cricket West Indies (CWI) return-to-play assessment programme under the supervision of CWI Medical Team in his native Jamaica. He has so far played 47 T20Is for the West Indies.

Fast bowler Thomas, who turned 23 earlier this week, is selected after making a full recovery from a car accident in Jamaica recently. Additionally, wicket-keeper/batsman Shai Hope has been included alongside left-arm spinner Fabian Allen.

Commenting on the squad, CWI lead selector Roger Harper said: “Shimron Hetmyer missed out on selection for the ODI squad. He has since attained the required fitness level, becoming available for selection and has been included.

"Andre Russell is back in the squad, having been cleared by the medical panel and successfully completing CWI’s return-to-play protocol. Andre will add potency to every department of the team. Oshane Thomas appears to be focused and raring to go. He will add pace and penetration to the bowling unit.”

Harper added: “Shai Hope provides an opening option and cover as a back-up wicket-keeper also. Fabian Allen returns from the injury he sustained in the series against Afghanistan late last year. He will provide a spin-bowling option as well as adding depth to the batting group.”

Looking ahead to the T20I matches, Harper outlined that he will have one eye on the ICC T20 World Cup to be played in Australia later this year. West Indies are the defending champions and the only team to lift the trophy twice.

“I look forward to the team building on its recent performances and winning the T20 series in Sri Lanka. This is another opportunity for the team to build on its strengths and identify areas that need improvement while continuing the process of building up with the aim of peaking for the T20 World Cup in October,” said Harper.

The two T20Is will be played at the Pallakele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy.

West Indies and Sri Lanka are now contesting a three-match ODI series. Sri Lanka won the first match today by a wicket in Colombo.

The second match is in Hambantota on Wednesday.

 

West Indies T20I squad

Kieron Pollard (capt), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kesrick Williams.

 

IN: Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, Fabian Allen, Shai Hope.

 

OUT: Evin Lewis, Khary Pierre, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd.

CWI chief executive refutes claims players omission was no conspiracy and players have known rules for two years.

Discarded West Indies batsmen Shimron Hetmyer and Evin Lewis could rejoin the West Indies squad in a couple weeks’ time if they are able to achieve the required fitness standards when re-tests are administered.

Hetmyer and Lewis were dropped from the regional team ahead of the upcoming One Day International (ODI) series against Sri Lanka, after failing to meet the minimum fitness standard required.

The Windies will play three matches against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club, the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Hambantota and the Pallakele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy. The ODIs will be followed by two T20 Internationals in Kandy.

According to CWI chief executive Johnny Grave, the duo could return in time for the T20 series if they manage to pass upcoming re-tests.

“In the case of Hetmyer he has been extremely fit and bought into the fitness standards but for whatever reason, the test came back well below the minimum standard, but we expect him to be re-tested in two weeks.  Hopefully, he’ll pass the test and be available for selection,” Grave told the SportsMax Zone.

“The squad that we have announced is for the three one day internationals against Sri Lanka.  There are two T20 internationals after those and that squad hasn’t been selected.  Hopefully, the players will re-take those tests and pass them and be available for selection.”

West Indies Cricket chief executive Johnny Grave maintains the regional sport’s governing body takes very little pleasure in excluding players from the squad for fitness reasons but insists the standards are well known and accepted.

Controversy struck earlier this week after promising batsmen Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer were left out of the regional team, ahead of its series against Sri Lanka after both failed a fitness test.  The opener Lewis’ omission came as even more of a surprise in the circumstances, considering the fact that he was the team’s best player in the recently concluded series against Ireland.

“We’ve made it clear to the players for three years now.  The last thing we want to do is to be fining any players.  The last thing we want to be doing is to be downgrading a player’s contract.  The last thing we want to do is to not have any of our players available for selection,” Grave told the SportsMax Zone.

“At the same time if we have really to make a difference in driving a new fitness culture in our cricket and professionalizing all elements of cricket in the West Indies, we have to have minimum standards, accountability for those standards and consequences if players don’t adhere to those standards,” he added.

According to the official over the last two years, CWI has been forced to fine players significant sums of money and significantly reduced salaries.

Both players failed to meet the minimum standard but are expected to be re-tested in a few weeks.

  

 

Paul Stirling's blistering 95 set up a thrilling four-run triumph for Ireland in the opening T20I against West Indies in Grenada.

Stirling clattered eight sixes and six fours in a 47-ball knock, putting on 154 alongside Kevin O'Brien (48) for the opening wicket – meaning the tourists' eventual haul of 208-7 was relatively disappointing.

Evin Lewis was the only Windies batsman to pass fifty but muscular contributions from Shimron Hetmyer (28), Kieron Pollard (31), Nicholas Pooran and Sherfane Rutherford (both 26) took the contest to the wire.

Rutherford and Dwayne Bravo – making his first international appearance since 2016 - fell to impressive left-arm seamer Josh Little (3-29) in the final over as Ireland bounced back from defeat in the recent ODI series to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match rubber.

Their success was built upon the best powerplay score in T20I history as the openers stood on 83 without loss after six overs, Stirling having brought up his half century from 20 deliveries with his fifth six.

They duly brought up three figures in the next over but, after leg-spinner Hayden Walsh and Pollard took pace off the ball to slightly check the scoring rate, veteran all-rounder Bravo bowled O'Brien with a fine yorker that ducked in late.

Sterling mistimed a slog sweep off Walsh to be caught by Lewis five shy of a deserved century and Ireland never truly regained momentum.

Gareth Delany was their next highest scorer with 19, producing the shot of the innings with a glorious six over extra cover from Kesrick Williams, who returned a woeful 0-48 from three overs as Bravo, Khary Pierre and Sheldon Cottrell took two wickets apiece.

West Indies were unable to find a contribution of similar substance to Stirling's at the top of the innings after George Dockrell pouched a stunning catch at deep point to remove Lendl Simmons for 22, with Little the beneficiary.

Lewis stormed to a sixth T20I fifty and was typically strong square of the wicket until he hit Craig Young to a scampering Harry Tector on 53.

Hetmyer looked in the mood with three towering sixes, only for an embattled Dockrell (1-51) to have him caught by captain Andy Balbirnie.

Pollard took up the mantle and kept his side up with the rate, although Dockrell continued to enjoy himself far more in the field and held on when the Windies skipper sent Simi Singh skyward.

The pattern continued with Pooran, who pulled Young (2-31) to Delany for 26 after the 18th over from Barry McCarthy (0-55) cost a damaging 27.

Rutherford found Dockrell's unerring hands at wide long-on before Bravo – sensing a picture-book return – also went six and out as Little and further flawless catching in the deep saw Ireland home, the Windies finishing just short on 204-7.

Windies top-order batsman Evin Lewis has cautioned that he is hungry for runs after what was in many respects an underwhelming performance in 2019.

The 28-year-old batsman went the entire season without scoring a century after eight appearances, despite getting over the half-century mark on three occasions.  In fact, the last time Lewis did make it to triple figures was in 2017.  On Sunday, in the third and final ODI against Ireland, he ensured that the trend would not continue after scoring 102 in a comfortable win and series sweep over the tourist.  

The left-hander had come close to a ton once again but failed to convert to triple figures in the first ODI eventually being stuck on 99 not.  Now with 306 runs in three matches under his belt to start the season, which earned him man-of-the-series honours, Lewis is looking forward to a good year.

“I’ve been working hard in the nets with the batting coach.  I’ve been trying to open up a little more and hit the ball straight down the ground and it has been working so far,” Lewis said following the match.

“To be honest with you I have been hungry for runs.  My last ODI century was in 2017, so this year I’m very determined and I just want to make the best of it,” he added.

“Sometimes when I score 50 I get a little ultra-aggressive.  It was a great opportunity to put my head down and bat.  We weren’t behind in the game, we were in control most of the time.  Going forward I just want to continue batting like that.”

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