Roger Harper, Cricket West Indies’ Chief Selector has expressed concern over the productivity of opening partnerships for the West Indies but laments the fact that no one is really knocking at the door to be selected.

Captain Kraigg Brathwaite has had a welcome return to form with two Test half-centuries and a century in his last four Test matches but fellow opener John Campbell has not been inspiring much confidence with his performances.

The Jamaican has scores of 3, 23, 36, 18, 42, 11, 5, and 10 in his last four Tests. His last half-century, 68, was made in the second Test against New Zealand in December last year.

As a result, solid opening partnerships for the Caribbean side have been rare and this is a worry for Harper.

 “I think it has been a concern for a while. It was pleasing to see the captain get some big scores, but we need the partnership, on the whole, to be solid,” Harper said this past week on Mason and Guest.

But while Campbell has been struggling for form, Harper acknowledges that the batsman has been working hard to correct his flaws, like the ones that saw him get out in similar fashion in all four innings in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka.

 “We were delighted to see Campbell applying himself and being more patient, but we need some more positive returns,” he said.

There are several players who could come in to bolster the batting but recent history does not offer much hope for success. Players like Shai Hope and Shayne Moseley are potential replacements; Hope especially who has shown a welcome return to form in the ODIs against Sri Lanka, but Test cricket is a different prospect for a player who has struggled in that format of the game.

Moseley, who has shown promise, is yet to demonstrate that he is ready after several failures.

“It is something we are looking at. We are looking at our best options. At the moment, from a red ball perspective, we don’t have enough openers who are knocking down the door in terms of performances,” he concluded.

 

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons believes a change of approach by his team’s batsmen is largely responsible for five of them averaging over 50 for the just-concluded series against Sri Lanka. Kraigg Brathwaite, Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers, Jason Holder and Rahkeem Cornwall hit that significant milestone during the series that ended in a stalemate between the two cricketing nations.

It was the first time since 2012, that West Indies batsmen have been able to achieve that feat and only the second time since 1995.

Brathwaite, who started off the series with scores of three and 23 in the first Test, finished strong with his ninth Test century, 126, and a second innings score of 85 that spiralled his average in the series to an excellent 59.25.

Kyle Mayers, perhaps the most consistent of the West Indies batsmen had scores of 49, 55, 45 and 52 for an overall average of 50.25.

Incidentally, these were the two lowest averages of the five batsmen. Nkrumah Bonner, who scored his first Test century in the series, 113 not out, averaged 72 while Jason Holder averaged 69 after scoring 71 not out, 30, 19 and 18 not out.

Rahkeem Cornwall had only two turns at-bat and he made them count. His 61 and 73 gave him an average of 67, to round out an impressive all-round performance from the West Indies despite the fact that they were unable to force a win in any of the two Tests.

Simmons, though, was pleased with what he observed.

“Everybody is looking to occupy the crease. People are working to bat for long periods and our depth goes deeper because Alzarri Joseph and Rahkeem Cornwall have shown within the last three series that they can bat and they can provide that 50-100-run partnerships that later down can take us to 350 to 400s,” said the West Indies head coach.

He was particularly pleased with Cornwall’s performance with the bat. Already, a crucial member of the bowling attack, Cornwall enhanced his reputation as a genuine allrounder.

“It was great to see Rahkeem’s batting coming to the fore, and in all, the batting has shown up in the last four Test matches and this is a great thing because, before that, the bowling was carrying us,” Simmons said.

The last time the West Indies had five batsmen averaging over 50 in a Test series was back in 2012, when Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kieran Powell and Denesh Ramdin all surpassed the milestone. Chanderpaul averaged over 300 for the series.

Before that, six West Indies batsmen - Chanderpaul, Junior Murray, Winston Benjamin, Jimmy Adams, Brian Lara and Sherwin Campbell - all averaged over 50 runs an innings against New Zealand in 1995.

 

 

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite insists he was proud of the fighting spirit shown by the team despite drawing both Test matches against Sri Lanka.

On Friday’s final day of the match, the visitors closed on 193 for 2 still almost 200 runs shorts of the target, and ensured that honours were shared not just for the match but for the series. 

In both matches, Sri Lanka in the first and West Indies in the second, the teams headed into the final day with big enough leads but found wickets hard to come by as they looked to force a result.  The hosts may not have come out on top in the final assessment, but the newly minted captain found plenty to be encouraged by moving forward.

“Obviously it was a good pitch. In both Test matches the bowlers really worked hard and what I was pleased with is that none of the guys ever gave up,” Brathwaite said.

“Even down to Alzarri’s last spell he was still giving an effort to get some short balls in so I’m very happy with the effort of the team.”

The captain was also pleased with the fact that the team knuckled down to bat a fair number of overs.

“… batting-wise, we continued to bat a number of overs – 90-plus overs which is a positive for us. And yes, we would’ve liked to have won but I was very happy with the attitude and discipline that we had. The pitch was a good one throughout; it didn’t spin at all, but I was very happy with the fast bowlers’ effort.”

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite said he wanted to lead from the front as his side played to a draw against Sri Lanka in the second and final Test of the 2021 Sandals Series at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua today.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite came very close to a second century in the second Sandals Test match on Thursday, which helped the team to a commanding position against Sri Lanka after the fourth day.

The experienced opener followed his 126 in the West Indies first innings with a patient 85 in the second innings which, along with half-centuries from Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder, allowed him to declare the second innings at 280 for 4, setting the visitors a target of 376 on a good pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. Holder was 71 not out, having shared a 53-run partnership with wicket-keeper Joshua Da Silva who was 20 not out.

West Indies then had 40 minutes to bowl at Sri Lanka before stumps and they reached 29-0 with captain Dimuth Karunaratne (11 not out) and Lahiru Thirimanne (17 not out) at the close. They will resume on Friday with another 347 needed for victory, while West Indies will be hunting 10 wickets in 98 overs on what is expected to be an enthralling last day.

Sri Lanka started the day at 250-8 in its first innings and the home side took just over three overs to wrap up the innings at 258 and take a first-innings lead of 96 runs. Pathum Nissanka, on 49 overnight, completed his half-century from the fifth ball of the day, but was out soon after for 51 – caught by substitute Hayden Walsh Jr. at deep backward square from the bowling of Kemar Roach after the trap was set for the hook shot.

When West Indies batted a second time Mayers went on to a half-century from 63 balls, with eight fours, before eventually falling lbw to seamer Saranga Lakmal for 55. Brathwaite reached his 21st half-century from 137 balls and looked set to reach centuries in both innings when he went on to 85, which came off 196 balls and included four boundaries. Holder played a number of outstanding shots and paced the innings well with his half-century requiring just 69 balls.

 

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite has been offered a contract by English County Championship club Gloucestershire for the first eight games of the season.

The 28-year-old Brathwaite, who recently replaced Jason Holder as captain of the West Indies, is expected to depart for England following the conclusion of the ongoing series against Sri Lanka.

The opening batsman could possibly make his debut against Surrey next week but is much more likely to be available for the team’s next fixture against Somerset.

Brathwaite is no stranger to English county cricket, having previously played for Yorkshire (2017), Nottinghamshire (2018), and Glamorgan (2019).  For his part, he revealed that he was eager to return to playing County cricket.

"I truly look forward to the opportunity to represent Gloucestershire,"  Brathwaite said.

"I have always enjoyed county cricket and cherished the times I've been able to play in England. I'm excited to come to Bristol and do my best for the team, the club, and of course the Gloucestershire supporters,” he added.

Having made his Test debut at just 18, Brathwaite has averaged 32.24 over 67 matches with a top score of 212 made against Bangladesh in 2014.

This year, under his captaincy, West Indies have won two Tests against Bangladesh and drawn the opening Test of their two-match series against Sri Lanka

      

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite completed his ninth Test century to place his team in a strong position at the close of play on the second day of the second Sandals Test match against Sri Lanka.

 Brathwaite needed only two balls at the start of the day to reach triple figures – when he worked the second ball from Suranga Lakmal to fine leg for a single to reach the landmark off 241 balls with 11 fours.

Brathwaite ended on 126 off 311 balls with 13 fours in seven hours and shared a crucial 103-run eighth-wicket partnership with Rahkeem Cornwall, which helped West Indies to 354. Cornwall reached a new highest score of 73 off just 92 balls with 10 fours and a six, to follow up his 61 in the first match last week.

Sri Lanka replied with 136-3 at the close of the day.

Lahiru Thirimanne followed his scores of 70 and 76 in the first Test with 55, which provided solidity at the top of the Sri Lanka order. Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya De Silva then batted through 25 overs in an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership which was worth 59 runs at stumps. Chandimal was 34 not out and De Silva 23.

 

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, batted through the day for an invaluable 99 not out as the team reached 287-7 at the close of play, on the opening day of the second and final Sandals Test against Sri Lanka, at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, in Antigua on Monday.

Brathwaite demonstrated patience and tenacity on a pitch which offered some assistance to the seam bowlers in the first session. Brathwaite’s innings has spanned six-and-a-half hours in which he faced 239 balls and struck 11 fours. He is on the verge of a ninth Test century, which would also be his second at the venue, the other was 121 against Bangladesh in 2018.

When he reached 98, Brathwaite also became the 16th West Indian batsman to surpass 4,000 Test runs – to join an elite list. The others are Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Sir Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Sir Gordon Greenidge, Alvin Kallicharan, Sir Richie Richardson, Sir Clive Lloyd, Roy Fredericks, Chris Gayle, Shiv Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Desmond Haynes and Carl Hooper.

He held the innings together and shared the day’s honours with Saranga Lakmal who had claimed two early wickets – John Campbell and Nkrumah Bonner and added Jermaine Blackwood to end the day with 3-71.

Brathwaite and Kyle Mayers had a third-wicket partnership of 71 as the left-handed made 49. West Indies slipped to 222-7 in the final session of the day, but Brathwaite found another resolute partner in Rahkeem Cornwall, who closed unbeaten on 43, in a partnership that has been worth 65 runs so far for the eighth wicket.

 

Newly promoted West Indies skipper, Kraigg Brathwaite, insists there is no worry about the added responsibility of captaincy affecting his batting form after somewhat of a slow start to officially taking the reins.

Brathwaite, who officially took over from Jason Holder at the start of the Sri Lanka series, made a total of 26 at the top of the order for the first Test, for an average of just 13.  The batsman did, however, manage to occupy the crease, his score of 23 in the second innings coming from 124 balls.  While not showing up on the scoreboard, the player believes it was a vital contribution.

“I’m not concerned.  In the second innings I managed to spend over two hours at the crease, which was important for us as a batting unit,” Brathwaite told members of the media via a Zoom press conference.

“As I said before, I always enjoy leading and I know what I have to do, I know my role as a batsman and also as the captain.  So, I’m not concerned.”

In the previous series against Bangladesh, as the stand-in captain for Holder, Brathwaite scored 149 runs over the two matches, for an average of 37.25.  The West Indies unexpectedly won the series 2-0, which played a crucial role in Brathwaite securing the leadership post.

 

West Indies Test captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, insists the team will not be complacent against Sri Lanka heading into the start of the two-match series on Sunday.

The Windies are riding momentum following a hard-fought 2-0 series win away to Bangladesh and a strong performance in a 3-0 One Day International (ODI) series sweep over Sri Lanka.

Despite the recent success, however, Brathwaite, who officially replaced Jason Holder as captain to start the series, insists the team will be looking for a fierce fight from the tourists.

“It’s Test cricket so we won’t be taking them for granted.  I think they have some experienced batsmen that have played a lot of Tests, have scored a number of Test 100s, and an experienced bowler in Lakmal,” Brathwaite told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Saturday.

“Going into the game we won’t be underestimating them.  I think they will come and fight because the Sri Lanka team always tends to fight,” he added.

Sri Lanka have shown plenty of fight, despite losing both the T20 and ODI series their spinners gave the West Indies batsmen a lot to think about once they were deployed.

Opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite has replaced Jason Holder as West Indies Test captain, Cricket West Indies confirmed tonight.

Captain Kraigg Brathwaite fell just short of a century as West Indies Brathwaite XI, in pursuit of West Indies Chase XI first day total of 328, were 242 for 5 at the close of play on the second day.

Brathwaite scored a stroke-filled 95 from 156 balls, before becoming the third wicket of Jomel Warrican.  The team’s pursuit of the target took an early wobble when opener Kieran Powell was dismissed for a duck in the second over.  Powell was caught by Sunil Ambris off the bowling of Chemar Holder, having faced just four balls.

Brathwaite, however, immediately partnered with Shamar Brooks to settle the innings and put on 76 for the second wicket before Brooks was caught, for 19, by Hamilton, off the bowling of Nial Smith.  Next to bat, Shimron Hetmyer only lasted 5 balls before has was bowled, by Warrican, for 12 runs.

The captain was then part of another significant partnership, putting on 67 with Kavem Hodge, before departing the scene with the team at 170 for 4.  Joshua Da Silva became Warrican’s third wicket, after he was caught by Nkrumah Bonner, after putting seven runs on the board.  Hodge, who has gone on to 59, has partnered with Paul Palmer Jr (31) as the team continues to pursue the target.

Warrican has so far claimed 3 for 52 with Holder and Smith taking one each.

Earlier resuming the second day at 280 for 7, overnight batsman Jermaine Blackwood, who resumed the day on 18, added another 16 runs before being bowled by Preston McSween.  Imran Khan, the other overnight batsman, added another 21 to his 3 before becoming McSween’s fourth wicket.  McSween ended with figures of 4 for 64.  Jayden Seales claimed 3 for 42.

Former West Indies opener turned pundit, Philo Wallace, believes the poor performance of the Barbados Pride in the recent regional Super50 tournament provides even more evidence that selectors should stick with Kraigg Brathwaite as captain for the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka, as Jason Holder has ‘lost the art of captaincy.’  

Brathwaite received plenty of plaudits for leading an understrength Windies squad to an unexpected 2-0 Test victory in Bangladesh earlier this year.  Brathwaite, who had been axed as vice-captain the series before, was put in charge of the squad after regular captain Holder was one of 12 players to opt-out of the tour after citing health and safety concerns.

Since then, the debate has raged fiercely on both sides regarding whether the panel of selectors should return Holder to his original position or stick with the momentum achieved by Brathwaite in the unexpected win.  Wallace falls firmly in the camp supporting the latter.

“I believe that there is a shift with what Brathwaite did in Bangladesh, something happened in Bangladesh that brought a 2-0 victory for the West Indies and 2-0 defeat for Bangladesh at home,” Wallace told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Kraigg Brathwaite and that management team did something right.  The head coach said he saw a difference in attitude.  He saw a different type of vibe with the guys.  Are we going to kill that vibe as we return to Antigua? Or are we going to rekindle that vibe and take it into the Sri Lanka series,” he added.

“Jason has lost the art of captaincy.  There are no tactical moves.  We just saw a Super50 competition he captained six games and we lost 5.  We had a team 87 for 8 and we could not crush them.  The captain who is 6ft 6’ could not take up the ball and bowl three devastating yorkers and bowl out the team for under 120.  That is what we call leadership, you take it up and you do it yourself.”

 

The West Indies have named 26 players to participate in a “Best v Best” four-day practice match in preparation for the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka.

Former West Indies batting coach, Toby Radford, has suggested calls to replace all-rounder Jason Holder are an overreaction and would stick with the current captain, despite the success of Kraigg Brathwaite in Bangladesh.

Brathwaite was widely commended for his role in leading an understrength team to a 2-0 win away to Bangladesh earlier this month. Holder, on the other hand, was one of 12 players to pull out of the tour after citing health and safety concerns.

Holder had, however, also pointed to feeling some level of fatigue having had to deal with quarantine situations in both the West Indies prior tours of England and New Zealand.  However, in addition, aspects of the team’s performance on those tours had also put Holder and his captaincy under the microscope.

While admitting that the team had performed exceptionally well in Bangladesh, Radford, however, sees no reason to replace Holder as the man in charge for the upcoming Sri Lanka series.

“I think they surprised everybody not least of all Bangladesh, probably their own supporters as well.  They performed really well.  But it’s very easy to get carried away, isn’t it? You have a couple of big wins like that and then suddenly we have done it because Kraigg Brathwaite is captain and Jason Holder wasn’t captain,” Radford told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Who’s to know if Jason was captain whether you would have had the two wins anyway,” he added.

“There were a lot of very good individual performances and because individuals play well and you win two matches, to me, that isn’t down to captaincy.”

In supporting his decision to stick with Holder, Radford pointed to the example of the incident with India captain Virat Kolhi, which occurred during the Asian team's big win over Australia.

“It was raised the other day, someone mentioned Virat Kohli.  They (India) lost the game in Australia, he went home for the birth of his child.  They went suddenly and won a couple of games.  When they started the Test series against England, in India, nobody questioned whether Kohli should captain the team. He came back in because he was captain.”

   

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