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. 

) Nicholas Pooran - one for the future.    

West Indies have provided Nicholas Pooran with the opportunity to prove that he is worthy of being part of the Test squad by including him in a 14-man 'A' squad to play a pair of first-class matches in New Zealand next month.

This, I feel is a good move.

The 25-year-old Trinidadian has played well in the shorter formats to the extent that many fans and pundits alike have suggested that he should considered for Test selection. There are others, however, who believe he should not be included because of his limited participation in first-class cricket in that he has only played three games for Trinidad and Tobago back in 2014.

My question is, how will we know unless he tries?

Sometimes an opportunity is all you need. The chance Pooran is now being given will allow selectors to determine if he has what it takes. Cricket West Indies lead selector Roger Harper believes the player deserves an opportunity.

"This series will give our players an opportunity to play first-class cricket against foreign opposition as well as experience different conditions here in New Zealand. It will also help to keep them in the frame should the need for replacements for the test team arise as we will have players who have been playing red-ball cricket and in form to consider."

There are two four-day matches set for December 3 in Mount Maunganui and December 11 in Nelson.

 

  1. Ineffective bowling cost the Windies

West Indies were outplayed by New Zealand and lost by 72 runs in the second T20 International on Sunday at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui. New Zealand’s Glenn Phillips cracked a 51-ball century, the quickest in T20Is by a New Zealander as the home side took a winning 2-0 lead. 

The West Indies struggled to make a mark in the first two matches of the series. In the first match, there were a combination of errors with the bat and ball.  Despite the heroics of skipper Kieron Pollard, who blasted 75 not out, the Windies lost five wickets for one run and needed Pollard’s brilliant knock to get them back into contention.

Wickets were also hard to come by as Keemo Paul went for 39 runs in three overs that included five costly no-balls. Kesrick Williams gave up 33 runs in two overs while Fabian Allen went for 32 runs in the 12 balls he was allowed.

 

In the second T20 international, Andre Fletcher looked good for the time he lasted but was run out on 20 having faced 14 deliveries. Brandon King failed miserably and was dismissed for duck. West Indies' biggest hopes in the middle order Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran failed to fire.

How many times do we expect the Windies captain to carry the side? Skipper Kieron Pollard top-scored again for the Windies with his 15-ball 28, which included three consecutive sixes off Mitchell Santner but it was not enough.

As was the case in the first match, none of the Windies bowlers made an impact. Instead of gaining momentum when Guptill and Seifert were dismissed they literally dropped the ball. There were a number of misfields and a general lack of discipline from the bowlers.  Fast bowler Keemo Paul conceded 64 runs in four overs and Sheldon Cottrell went for 39 runs.  

The final T20 international will be held at Mount Maunganui on Monday, before a two-Test series begins in Hamilton on December 3.

  

  1. The world rocked by the passing of Diego Maradona. RIP Sir.

 On Sunday, Lionel Messi paid an emotional tribute to Diego Maradona by revealing a Newell's Old Boys shirt after scoring for Barcelona in their 4-0 win over Osasuna. The forward looked emotional during the minute’s applause for Maradona, who died at the age of 60 on Wednesday after a heart attack.

Messi, his fellow Argentine, alongside Pele and Cristiana Ronaldo best summed up the passing of the legend when they said "He is gone, but he will be with us for eternity."

Without a doubt, Maradona will be remembered for his many achievements on the field. He won titles in three different countries. He took Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup. He delivered two league titles to the city of Naples, something most felt was impossible. However, the Argentine’s impact off the field is what touched people the most.

He was vulnerable and showed that openly as he lived a life of excess in the public eye.  He immersed himself in whatever he did and took on the authorities when they failed to represent what he stood for. He will be remembered for his work on and off the field. Rest in peace, Sir. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. Batting clicked in Windies warm-up match

The three-day warm-up match between New Zealand A and West Indies at Queenstown ended in a draw on Sunday. Electing to bat first after winning the toss, New Zealand ‘A’ put up a dominant display of batting to post 308 for 3 declared in the first innings and then 124 for 1. The Windies scored 366 in what must be considered a commendable effort.

     The 112-run partnership between Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo helped bring the Windies compile a good score after opener John Campbell was bowled for 4.

Brathwaite went on to score 47 while gave a glimpse of his class in a memorable Bravo 135. Bravo knock included 13 fours and five sixes. Top order batsman Shamarh Brooks also stepped up with the bat scoring 80 while Captain Rostan Chase contributed 42 from 76 balls. 

  There is cause for optimism when considering the performance with the bat from the West Indies even though John Campbell does need to show greater game awareness and application. The lower order also needs to raise their game as four of the batsmen were dismissed in single digits.

Despite the commendable batting performance, the Windies had a tough time with the ball. Kemar Roach, Chemar Holder and Rahkeem Cornwall ended the match wicket-less and the bowling attack only managed to snare four wickets during the match.

If the West Indies are to be competitive during the coming series, the bowlers need to quickly shake off the rust and get firing.

 

  1. A sigh of relief for Trinidad and Tobago’s football!

Football’s world governing body, FIFA, on Thursday lifted the suspension of the Trinidad and Tobago football Association, TTFA. The decision was communicated in a letter to the Head of FIFA’s normalization committee in T&T, Robert Hadad. This is a major fillip for Trinidad and Tobago’s football as it paves the way for the team to participate in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers. 

     Despite the setbacks, it is my hope that the normalization committee will cleared the massive debt burdening the association while paying salaries and getting the national team ready for international competition.

  1. Huge blow to Golden State Warriors after Klay Thompson’s injury

The Golden State Warriors star guard Klay Thompson suffered a season-ending tear to his right Achilles tendon during a workout last Wednesday in Southern California. The 30-year-old Thompson missed all of last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. 

The Warriors were hopeful that Thompson would return fit and ready to compete for the 2020-21 season. However, they are now trying to figure out how they will cope without one half of the Splash Brothers, whose absence contributed to their league’s worst record (15-50) last season.

 Another season without Thompson on the court will be a huge blow to the Golden State Warriors chances of winning a title next season. How does one accept that such a dependable star has become so vulnerable? 

 

 

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. A disappointing start for the Jamaica Reggae Boyz both on and off the field!

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz were poor in their first international match since the Covid-19 lockdown and it ended in a 3-0 loss to Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, on Saturday. It is evident that off-the-field issues has seeped onto the field with the number of careless errors displayed in the match.

 Prior to the first friendly, Covid-19 infections within the Reggae Boyz delegation were a huge blow to the Theodore Whitmore-coached squad.  In addition to 30-year-old goalkeeper Dennis Taylor, who was travelling with the Reggae Boyz delegation testing positive for the virus while en route to Riyadh, another player and a member of the Jamaica Football Federation administration fell victim to the disease. In addition, two other players are under investigation with the JFF declining to name them.

The Reggae Boyz, who were on course to be the top team in the Caribbean, will need to get their act together very quickly as these matches could have influence their 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup showing set for July 10 to August 1, 2021.

Prior to this 3-0 loss, it had been eight months since they last played an international match. Despite their inactivity, they remained at number 48 in the FIFA world rankings, even displacing Costa Rica at number 3 on the CONCACAF list. 

The Reggae Boyz looked out of sorts due to their preparation being hampered by the coronavirus. Without a doubt, there are top individual performers within the Jamaican team. However, football is a team sport and the success of the squad lies in whether or not Coach Whitmore can get each player to combine well with his teammates. It is not too late for the Reggae Boyz but they have work to do!

 

 

  1. Paternity leave for professional athletes? A step in the right direction.

India’s captain Virat Kohli and his wife Anuskha Sharma are expecting their first child and Kohli has asked for and been granted paternity leave by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

BCCI Secretary Jay Shah said the 32-year-old middle order batsman has been cleared to leave the India setup after the first Test against Australia in Adelaide in December. Although the skipper’s presence will be missed on the field, Kohli’s decision to be with his family increases my respect for him as a person.

 

Australia’s Head Coach Justin Langer praised Kohli’s decision.

 

“Virat Kohli is probably the best player I’ve ever seen in my life for so many reasons, not only batting but his energy and passion for the game, the way he fields. I cannot believe he displays the energy he does in everything he does and I’ve got so much respect for him. I’ve also got respect for him in the sense that he’s made this decision to return to India for the birth of his child,” Langer said.

“He’s human being like all of us. If I was giving advice to any of my players I would always say never, ever miss the birth of your children because it is one of the great things you’ll ever do.”

 Paternity leave for professional athletes should be legislated and normalized. Once the government can create a formula within reason that avoids abuse of the system, paternity leave can be an asset. It will allow fathers to be present for the birth of their children while simultaneously providing support for the child’s mother. In the long term, it can also play a key role in the quality of families that are raised.

Policies that ensure fathers have the support they need to prioritize their family responsibilities, while also meeting work demands, can significantly increase the personal and economic well-being of their families. Paternity leave can promote parent-child bonding, improve outcomes for children, and even increase gender equity at home and at the workplace.

 

  1. A good call by Windies selectors to allow Kraigg Brathwaite to focus on his game.

 

West Indies Chief Selector Roger Harper said stripping Kraigg Brathwaite of the team’s vice captaincy will allow him to concentrate on improving his batting. Brathwaite was first appointed Test vice-captain in 2015 but has averaged 21 from his last 15 Tests heading into the England series. Roston Chase has been appointed vice captain.

This is a good move by those leading the charge as it allows the 27-year-old to simply buckle down and get to work.

The Barbadian has had his fair share of struggles. His last Test century came against Bangladesh in Kingston two years ago and since then his game has been inconsistent. Before the Test series against England in July, Brathwaite played 20 innings without making a Test 50. In that time, he only scored 233 runs at an average of 12.26.

 Earlier this year, he showed signs of improvement with half-centuries in the first Test against England when he scored 65, and in the second test with 75. Brathwaite, however, also had scores of 4, 12, 1 and 19.
 Like Roger Harper, I am hoping removing the additional responsibilty will allow Brathwaite to be more consistent.

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

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.

 Cricketers are feeling the brunt of Covid 19!

 Steven Smith revealed he has no plans to participate in the Big Bash this summer due to the demands of being in a bio-secure bubble. The likes of David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are also expected to follow suit. In Starc’s case, he has only been at his home in Sydney for 30 hours since August even though he did not go to the Indian Premier League.

Windies captain Jason Holder has voiced his personal struggles dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The 28-year-old Barbadian, who is currently playing in the IPL, revealed there were players in his West Indies team who were mentally "worn out" by the effort involved in playing the Test series against England in the COVID-19 era. The Windies lost the series 2-1 at Old Trafford.

Despite being happy to play the sport he loves in uncertain times, Holder, speaking at the end of the third Test, said: "It's been challenging, it's been really challenging. Mentally some of the guys are a bit worn out.

"It could be this way for a little while so we've got to find ways to make it work. Hopefully things could ease up throughout the world and probably guys can get out of the hotel a little bit more, but it has been challenging for sure.

“It's tough to constantly get up, you're here, you open your curtains and you just see the cricket ground. You're not hopping on the bus as you normally do."

   As much as our cricketers are happy to play the sport they love one must not ignore that these are uncertain times and their mental health may be affected.

 Windies star Gayle still a threat!

West Indies hard hitter Chris Gayle at the age the of 41 has been proving in the ongoing Indian Premier League that he still has what it takes. The Universe boss, who has been lighting up the T20 tournament in Abu Dhabi, currently holds the IPL record for most sixes hit.

This past week, the Kings XI Punjab batsman was fined 10 per cent of his match-fee for breaching the IPL’s Code of Conduct during his team’s match against Rajasthan Royals when he was bowled for 99. Gayle lost his cool and swung his bat which flew towards mid-wicket. Despite this unfortunate event, the ‘Universe boss’ wrote his name yet again into the history books becoming the first player to smash 1,000 T20 sixes.

 

 

 

 

 

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

 

1.Barca losing- the new normal?

 Real Madrid were emphatic 3-1 winners in the first El Clasico of the season and last of the decade.  A combination of factors accounted for Barcelona’s humiliating loss: dependence on single players, coach Ronald Koeman’s team selection coated in off field issues seeping onto the field.

  It is no secret that Barca has depended on Messi to lift the team. When Messi is having a good season, Barca does well. He is the club's top goal scorer, top assist provider and, among his 34 trophies with the Catalan club, he boasts four Champions Leagues, 10 La Liga and six Copa del Rey wins. The statistics speak for themselves.

Messi has now gone six consecutive games in El Clasico without scoring and it is a cause of concern. In the last 20 minutes of Saturday’s match, the 33-year-old disappeared. This disappearance can be attributed to his age as well as the mismanagement of the player. Messi should have played less minutes in the Champions league match earlier in the week and been allowed to play the full match against Real Madrid. Despite his previous superhuman performances, the Argentine is human, and it is natural for him to feel tired too.

The team has been transitioning with the new coach and integration of younger players. The club is aware Messi has a few years left in him and is now shifting the dependence, attention, and pressure on the youngster Ansu Fati. The 17-year-old became the youngest scorer in El Clasico history after scoring the equalizing goal against Real Madrid on Saturday.

 

  It is now up to Barca, if they mould Fati properly and do not become too dependent on him which can do more damage than good.  The Spanish player has notched four goals in the league and one in the Champions League, making him the club's top scorer so far. He took up the number 9 position in the Clasico and was his side's most dangerous asset against Real Madrid.

     After Saturday’s loss fingers are being pointed at Coach Ronald Koeman. Did he get his substitutions wrong? Was Barca too attacking? Is Antoine Griezmann being underutilized?  The reaction when Real Madrid scored the second goal was too slow. There were no tactical changes and the first substitution-  a triple substitution- came in the 81st minute.

Fati made way for Griezmann, Pedri for Francisco Trincao and Sergio Busquets for Ousmane Dembele. Five minutes later, Jordi Alba, who was clearly tired after returning from an injury which had kept him out for three weeks, was replaced by Martin Braithwaite.

 

  Barca is now 12th place in the points table but have played two games fewer than most of the other teams. To add insult to injury, the team confirmed on Sunday that the Brazilian Philippe Coutinho is set to miss Wednesday’s Juventus clash in the Champions League due to a hamstring injury he suffered on Saturday. It is unclear how long he will be out. He has played  five La Liga matches and one Champions League scoring one goal in each competition. 

 

What is clear is Barcelona’s play has not improved from last season, a campaign which ended without a trophy.

 

  1. Shai Hope’s comeback starts with self-responsibility!

 

          Barbadian Shai Hope’s exclusion from the Windies Test squad set to tour New Zealand from November 27th has attracted criticism. However, there comes a time where one must accept that one cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results.  As CWI Chief selector Roger Harper said, sometimes by continuing to select a player you do more harm to them than good. It was time for the 26-year-old to step away and come back stronger. 

Without a doubt, Hope has been one of the outstanding batsmen in One Day Internationals, but in Test cricket, he has struggled. Since December 2017, his Test average is 19.48 and since February 2019, 14.45.

In the recent series defeat to England he averaged below 18. 

I cannot help but note that Shai Hope’s problem is not in the technical aspect of the game.  This is evident in his ODI performances as in his 78 matches he has an average of 52.20 with a high score if 170. Among these ODI performances he has nine hundreds and 17 fifties.

His bounce back in Test cricket has to begin with him taking responsibility for what has been affecting his Test form. When a batsman is in the middle, he must be able to think for himself. Despite everything taught by a coach, application is up to the player. It is now left up to the Barbadian to go back to the basics of his game and execute them to the best of his ability.

The West Indies selectors’ decision to omit Shai Hope from the tour to New Zealand is not detrimental to the player. He must now take full responsibility for the revival of his own game.

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

 

  1. Windies captaincy in good hands. Time for the rest of the team to rally.

West Indies named the Test and T20 squads on Friday that will face New Zealand in three T20 Internationals and two Test matches from November 27 to December 15. The captaincy of both the Windies squads is in good hands. It is now up to supporting cast to do their part and contribute.

Jason Holder continues as Test captain having grown as a leader since making his debut against New Zealand in 2014 in Bridgetown.  New Zealand won that match by 53 runs and Holder bagged two wickets and scored a total of 76 runs.

The 28-year-old going into this match will be confident having performed well against the Black Caps in the past. 

In the last Test match he played in Manchester in July 2020, England won by eight wickets. Holder got two wickets and made 58 runs. On current form, Holder has attained the highest points tally by any West Indies bowler in 20 years, reaching a career-best second place in the Test Rankings after playing a crucial role in his side's four-wicket victory over England in Southampton that helped take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

           In the limited overs format, Kieron Pollard leads from the front with his all-round performances.  He has been very impactful for the Mumbai Indians in the ongoing Indian Premier League. In eight matches he has picked up two wickets and scored 174 runs, with a top score of 60 at an average of 174.  In the recently concluded Caribbean Premier League he was named Player of the Tournament. The 33-year-old blasted a total of 207 runs with a top score of 72 at an average of 51.8.  His best bowling figures for CPL 2020 was 4/30. 

With both Pollard and Holder at the helm, the Windies are a force. However, cricket is a team sport and it is up to the rest of team to contribute with bat and ball and ensure they support those leading the charge. 

 2. Can Liverpool win the Premier League without two key players?

 Liverpool departed Goodison Park disappointed by the 2-2 draw against Everton on Saturday.

The real tragedy, however, is that the Reds will be without two key members for some time due to injuries sustained during the match.  Though defender Virgil Van Dijk and midfielder Thiago Alcantara suffered serious injuries it is not over yet for the Premier League champions. However, Jurgen Klopp and the rest of the team have some work to do to cover for the absence of their two world class players.

Van Dijk’s leadership, organizational skill and passing range will be missed as his ACL injury will see him out for more than six months. The 29-year-old Dutchman was a key figure in Liverpool’s dominance having played every minute of the team’s 74 Premier league matches since his move from Southampton in 2018.

In the 2019/2020 Premier League season, the towering centre-back played all 38 matches, scored five goals and had an assist for his club. More importantly, he helped Liverpool’s defence evolve into one of the stingiest in all of Europe.

 The season before, he also helped Liverpool become the best defensive team in England.

His prolonged absence this season is a major blow to Liverpool’s chances of successfully defending the league title and to also make another run at the Champions League title they won in 2018.

Thiago Alcantara also suffered a knee injury against Everton in what was his first start for his new club. He also faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines as a result of a reckless tackle from Everton forward Richarlison.

Despite these injuries to key players, it would be foolhardy to rule the Premier League champions out. However, a lot will depend on Jurgen Klopp to get his players to fill the massive void created by the absence of these two stars.

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

  1. NBA FINALS 2020- ONE FOR THE BOOKS!

Despite which team emerges as the 2019/2020 NBA champion, this final series has been one for the books It is the first of its kind, being played amidst the coronavirus pandemic in a bio-secure bubble in a socially and politically charged environment. The players, coaches and organizers are true heroes for completing the season.

The 2020 NBA bubble which cost $170 million, was created to protect players from the Covid-19 virus for the final eight games of the regular season and the entirety of NBA playoffs. Simply put, players have been away from their families since July.

There were cases when some players spoke out about how the bubble took a toll on their mental health. Cleveland Cavaliers Kevin Love shared his own challenges with mental health.

LA Clippers forward Paul George was quoted saying, “I underestimated mental health. I had anxiety, a little bit of depression, us being locked in here. I just wasn’t here. I checked out.”

The issue became so pertinent, the NBA made provisions to allow players to invite some guests into the Orlando bubble. Again, credit must be given to those who put everything aside to play the sport they love in such uncertain times and under challenging circumstances.

Then, as if playing in a bio-secure bubble without loved ones around was not enough, the players were asked to give their best in a highly politically and socially charged environment. Basketball was being played at a time when a young black woman, Breonna Taylor, was shot to death by police her at home. Afterwards, in Minneapolis, George Floyd died at the hands of a police officer, who kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.

 NBA players and management did what they could to stand up for social justice. The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted a game against the Orlando Magic. The Houston Rockets and the OKC Thunder also boycotted games forcing the NBA to postpone their remaining playoffs for the day.  

In response, the NBA spent a great amount of time spreading messages against social injustice while the players did the best to provide entertainment for their millions of fans. Despite which team is crowned 2019/2020 NBA champions, this is one that will go down in history.

 

  1. Rashford continues to use his political capital to assist those in need.

Manchester United and England striker Marcus Rashford is set to be awarded the Member of the British Empire (MBE). It is a well-deserved honour that highlights the importance of sporting personalities using their platform to give voice for the voiceless.

 

The 22-year-old championed the fight for 1.3 million children to claim free school meal vouchers in England during the Summer holidays. He did so by writing a powerful open letter to lawmakers that was supported by his more than 12 million followers on social media.

The England international subsequently formed a child food poverty task force, linking up with some of the nation's biggest supermarkets and food brands. During September, Rashford received the Professional Footballers' Association merit award for his efforts.

Rashford’s 22 goals in the interrupted campaign helped Manchester United to third place in the Premier League. Manchester United said they were "delighted" to see his work off the pitch had been recognized.

"Everyone at Manchester United is hugely proud of Marcus for the work he has been doing to tackle food poverty among vulnerable children," a club statement read.

"His campaigning has raised awareness of a crucial issue and made a positive difference, and we are delighted to see his efforts being recognized with this honor."

It is about time other sporting personalities used their power to assist the vulnerable. Keep up the good work Marcus Rashford, on and off the field!

 

 

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

 

  1. Is Courtney Walsh the answer to the Windies women's woes?

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has appointed West Indies bowling legend Courtney Walsh as the new Head Coach of the West Indies Women’s team, at least up until the end of 2022. The retired fast bowler has served as an assistant coach with the Bangladesh men’s team and subsequently worked on a short-term contract with the West Indies Women’s team, including at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2020 held in Australia earlier this year. Despite all this, I strongly believe it will take more than a new coach to help get our Windies women back to winning ways.

Since winning the World T20 title in 2016, the West Indies Women have experienced a steep decline in form. This was reflected in the 5-0 sweep at the hands of England last week.  Apart from the disappointing World Cup performances, they have won just four of 10 series played since and drawn one.  It is key to note that the wins came against Pakistan and Ireland.

 The fitness of the women has been called into question many times and it is evident in the poor fielding and batting performances. Most of the batters lack  the ability to hit with power and run consistently between the wickets.  All-rounder Deandra Dottin was the pick of the batters against England with a total of 185 runs at an average of 37. No other batter scored 100 runs during the series. Captain Stefanie Taylor came closest with 78 runs scored at an average of 26. The rest of the Windies women averaged single digits in the series.

 Despite Courtney Walsh’s expertise, our Windies women need new structure. It is evident that what exists is not working. Our women need opportunities to play more competitive cricket. They also need to work on their fitness and confidence. They need to bat better. We need more of our players averaging in the 20’s. It is clear it will take more than just the Windies bowling legend to get our ladies back to their winning ways.

 

  1. The LA Lakers- a cut above the rest!

Anthony Davis and LeBron James combined one again to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 2-0 series lead over the injury-hit Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Davis posted a double-double and James top-scored in Friday's 124-114 victory against the Heat at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. What is clear is the Lakers have buckled down and they are not taking anything for granted until they finish the job at hand.

There are several factors that have contributed to the Lakers success, LeBron James’ inability to slow down combined with Coach Frank Vogel’s wit. The synergy between LeBron and Anthony Davis is impeccable. The experience that this team has is also notable. They have veterans other than James who have also contributed significantly like Rajon Rondo, Danny Green and even JaVale McGee.

 

 On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

 The NBA’S MVP criteria need to be re-visited.

 Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been named the NBA's Most Valuable Player for the second successive season after garnering 25 of the 101 first-place votes and 962 points in the voting. Although the award is based on the regular season, the fact that it is awarded during the playoffs makes it potentially contentious. In this case, although Giannis gets the award, his team, the Milwaukee Bucks, have gone home after the Miami Heat eliminated them in the second round of the playoffs.

The decision has raised eyebrows including that of that Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James with some even suggesting that LeBron was robbed of the award based on his overall contribution to his team.

James, who is still in contention to win his fourth NBA title, also alluded to the inconsistencies, “Sometimes it's the best player on the best team. Sometimes it is the person with the best season statistically. Giannis had a hell of a season; I can definitely say that."

The fact that the Lakers are in the Western Conference Finals while Milwaukee barely made it through the playoffs triggered the negative criticisms. Once the criteria for winning the award is consistent and the timing that the award is presented is altered, this will help in ensuring that there is little negative perception. There is a need to change and there needs to be consistency!

Glad to see both the Windies and England women supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Taking a knee and wearing the Black Lives Matter logo are more than mere gestures. They are constant reminders and a subtle form of education.

Both the West Indies and England women will wear the Black Lives Matter logo on their playing shirts during the Vitality T20 International (T20I) series that begins on Monday, September 21. The decision was a mutual one taken by players and management based on current situation globally.

 West Indies Women’s captain Stafanie Taylor has been vocal about the cause, accepting that as athletes they have an important role to play in raising awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement. I commend the women, as their actions can be a driving force for education and giving a voice to the voiceless.

 All matches will be played behind closed doors at Derby, where West Indies have been based for the past three weeks.  Monday's series opener will be the first Women's international match since Australia defeated India in the T20 World Cup final in March of this year.

Trinidad and Tobago Football have been reduced to a game of wait and see. 

FIFA has given the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) an extended deadline’ of September 23 to withdraw its claims against it currently before the Trinidad and Tobago High Court of Justice.

Ousted TTFA president William Wallace, who says he has the support of roughly half of the local body’s delegates, has refused to back down.

 On August 26, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura firmly requested’ that the ‘TTFA former leadership’ withdraw its claim from the local High Court ‘by 16 September 2020 at the latest’. She said then that ‘failure to comply with this directive would result in the commencement of suspension proceedings.

With an extra five days, one can only hope that those involved in the ongoing dispute will act in a manner that will ensure that football wins. Meanwhile, the football-loving public is left sitting on the edge of their seats awaiting the fate of the sport they love. Let us hope good sense prevails!

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

  1. Well-deserved CPL win Trinbago Knight Riders!

It is one thing to be strong on paper but ensuring that it translates to on the field is the true test. Execution is key in any sport.

The Trinbago Knight Riders demonstrated that critical characteristic as they clinched a record fourth Caribbean Premier League title in style, making light work of the St Lucia Zouks and winning by eight wickets in Thursday’s final.

In doing so, they completed a historic unbeaten campaign, winning all 12 games.

Overall, TKR was the strongest team in the tournament with both bat and ball. Their score of 185/3 against Barbados Tridents was the highest total in the competition this year. Captain Kieron Pollard who was awarded “Man of the Tournament”, led from the front with his own heroic performances. Even when key players sat out important matches for various reasons, other players stepped up ensuring that the team remained unbeaten.

 

  1. LaLiga is back and oozing with excitement!

          The curtain was raised on the 2020/2021 LaLiga season on Saturday with three matches. Eibar and Celta Vigo played to a goalless draw while Granada beat Athletic Club 2-0 and Osasuna overcame Cadiz 2-0.  What we know is that La Liga promises tons of excitement both on and off the field.

   With this season likely to be the last for Lionel Messi in LaLiga, I will be keeping an eye out for the young players hoping to step to fill the void.

Among the candidates is Ansu Fati, the breakout star at the Camp Nou last season. Just 17 years old, he forced his way into Barca’s first team scoring eight goals last season. He is also now the youngest scorer for the Spanish national side having found the net on debut earlier this month.

 

  1. Alex Morgan joins Tottenham Hotspur!

 Tottenham has captured the talents of forward Alex Morgan, one of the biggest names in sports in United States.  Apart from her undeniable skill, the 31-year-old will bring her commercial impact to the Women’s Soccer League.  She has 9.1 million followers on her Instagram account, more than the Spurs’ 8.5 million.

Alex, who will don the No.13 shirt for Spurs, helped the USA win back-to-back FIFA Women World Cups. She scored six goals in 2019's tournament in France. The new mom, who gave birth to her daughter on May 7, has scored 107 goals in 169 international appearances for the USA. The WSL has just attracted a lot more fans! Smart move!

 

 

 

 

 

 

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

  1. St. Lucia Zouks’ Mark Deyal is turning heads with his CPL performances.

The St. Lucia Zouks franchise has never won a CPL title. Entering the 2020 edition of the tournament opinions were mixed about whether the Zouks would qualify for the top four. Upon studying the new team fielded for 2020, interviewing the new Coach Andy Flower, and accepting the new conditions created because of COVID 19, I saw the Zouks putting up a great fight.

One new addition to the team’s roster, Mark Deyal, has sparked interest based on his exploits in all three departments of the game - bowling, batting, and fielding.

So far, in the 2020 Hero CPL, Mark has a top score of 40 off 33 balls when he blasted five fours against the Trinbago Knight Riders on Saturday. In the seven games he has played, Deyal has accumulated 105 runs.

He has also been handy with the ball despite not bowling many overs. In the four overs bowled he has taken one wicket at an economy rate of 3.50. His athleticism and awareness also make him an asset on the field where he has taken four catches. In my estimation, if Mark continues working and converts his starts into bigger totals, the right people will notice him.

In an exclusive interview that I conducted with Mark, he expressed his delight representing the Zouks.  “It’s really pleasing personally because this year with this team I have more responsibilities and it’s something I'm really excited about,” he said.

On his performance in the CPL so far the 27-year-old all-rounder said, “I would have to say it is below par for me because I personally set high expectations for this year although I had a couple of good performances. Luckily, the tournament is not over so I still have time to have an impact.” 

The young Trinidadian says making the Windies limited overs team is at the top of the list of his personal goals and he sees the CPL as the ideal place to turn the right heads and gain recognition.

He also revealed his aspirations for playing in the Indian Premier League. “That’s also a dream of mine, which is why it’s important that every chance I get I showcase my ability in all areas, batting, bowling and fielding so that I can make the move up from CPL to IPL.”

The St Lucia Zouks, who are third on the CPL table with 10 points, have already made it to the semi-finals. They have one more match, against Jamaica Tallawahs. If they win that by a big margin, there is still a chance they could finish second, on net run-rate.

 

  1. Better Luck next time St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots.

St Kitts and Nevis Patriots suffered an early exit from the 2020 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) after heavy rain forced a no-result in their match Thursday against Jamaica Tallawahs at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Trinidad. They ended their 2020 run with three points.

Their highest total this season was the 150 they scored against the Guyana Amazon Warriors. Despite the team’s failure to advance to the semi-finals, the Patriots 2020 showing is not a proper representation of the individual talent that the team possess.

 

 Patriots Captain Rayad Emrit in an exclusive interview explained what he believes to be the reasons behind the team’s failure this season.

 “It has been a very tough tournament for us. Firstly, losing our head coach then Dennis Bulli due to COVID 19 and then the biggest of all, Fabian Allen missing his flight. I think we missed these players and coach. We haven’t batted well in the entire tournament and to date we only had two guys scoring half-centuries,” he said.

“I think the bowling was decent in most games but still we haven’t been as consistent as we should be. We have not learnt as a team as quickly as we should have. I know players have not been playing for close to six months and T20 can be a very cruel game.

“Joshua Da Silva has been okay for us playing his first T20 tournament, and John Russ Jaggessar has been good as well. I think we have to regroup and come back a lot better next year if we are to compete in this tournament, especially with the CPL getting better every year.”

 

  1. Can Messi genuinely enjoy football at Barcelona anymore? There are so many unanswered questions.

Ten days after he stunned the world of football and informed Barcelona that he wanted to activate the release clause in his contract, Lionel Messi has decided he will stay at the club he has called home for almost 20 years. Barcelona has been extremely silent since Messi’s public statement Friday that he will stay at the club.

 Club President Josep Maria Bartomeu has not spoken in public since the interview. 

There are so many unanswered questions swirling around. What we do know is that Messi will take his coronavirus test and then return to the club’s training on Monday. How will the Messi and coach Ronald Koeman relationship unfold? Will Messi remain as captain? What does his future at the club look like? Only time will tell! 

 

 

 

 

 

I use my Sundays to look back at what has been happening in the world of sport. On many a Sunday, I realise 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.

May his legacy live forever!

The last of the three Ws, Sir Everton Weekes, died this week at his Christ Church home, aged 95, after battling with an ailment for some time.  He was a man who impacted the lives of many on and off the field. His legacy will live on through his work and records.

Condolences poured in, the majority shedding light on the calibre of Sir Everton. Barbados Cricket Association President Conde Riley expressed sadness at the news.

“Sir Everton was one of our greats. He has made a massive contribution to Barbados and West Indies cricket. This is a sad time for cricket. We have lost a legend.”

Cricket West Indies had this to say:

“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of an icon. A legend, our hero, Sir Everton Weekes. Our condolences go out to his family, friends, and many fans around the world. May he rest in peace.”

What is clear is Sir Everton had a full career and the statistics speak for themselves. He began his international career against England on January 21, 1948, and enjoyed a career spanning 48 tests in 20 years. He accumulated an average of 58.61, scored 15 centuries, and 19 half-centuries, with a high score of 207.

One cannot forget, even for a second, his role in shaping the West Indies transition from being a competitive team to being one of the most dominant in sporting history.  Sir Everton Weekes was a true hero and son of West Indian soil. May his legacy live on through his work and the lives that he touched.

 Come on Skips! Time to dust off the rust!

Two intra-squad practice matches have been completed and there has been no sign of batting form from West Indies captain Jason Holder and he has hardly bowled. Some may say, it is just a practice match, do not get overworked!

However, I am fretting as I don’t think there will be a magical turnaround. Even though practice matches count for nothing, because of the lack of sports and training due to COVID-19, this one counts for something, even if it is simply confidence.

Holder continues to struggle to shake off a bit of rust, or allay injury concerns, after being dismissed cheaply in the second and final intra-squad match at Emirates Old Trafford, on Thursday. Scores of 0, 5, and 2 certainly raised eyebrows.  In the intra-squad practice matches the West Indies skipper’s highest score was 5, with his innings lasting just 13 deliveries.  It is also difficult to forget the all-rounder’s golden duck in the first internal match that ended in a draw last week.

In addition to time away from the pitch, Holder has recently been bothered by a mild ankle injury.  Despite claims that he has not been hampered by it, Holder has looked uncomfortable at the crease.

This lack of form is worrying, especially as this Windies group is young and the players will be looking to the number one Test allrounder to lead by example. The Windies is a stronger unit with the skipper fully fit.

 We are missing the bigger picture!

 As humans, sometimes we choose to focus on the wrong things, and in so doing, we are distracted from the bigger picture. President of the Barbados Cricket Association, Conde Riley, initially called for the immediate sacking of West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, after he heard on a radio station in Barbados that Simmons had broken the bubble to attend the funeral of his father-in-law.

However, based on the report put out by Cricket West Indies Simmons got the Board’s approval and would self-isolate upon re-entry as well as undergo COVID-19 tests before rejoining the group.

Upon reading Mr. Riley’s reaction and CWI’s statement, the SportsMax Zone reached out to Mr. Riley regarding his pronouncements. In this interview Riley stated:

1. He had sent a letter of inquiry to CWI as he was not notified that Simmons was leaving the bubble. He said, “if it is true” that he left the camp for a funeral it was “reckless” and “endangered the players.”

2. Parts of his letter to CWI were leaked thereby misleading the public.

3. Being a board member, if he was notified, he would not have reacted impulsively.

4. There were three board meetings before the team left for England and at no time during those meetings was he made aware that Simmons's father-in-law had died.

 How could Mr. Riley and the CWI be so divergent in their views? Is there a bigger issue?

How did part of Riley’s letter get leaked to the media? Is there a lack of confidentiality and communication between CWI and its board members?

There appears to be more than what meets the eye here.

 

I use my Sundays to look back at what has been happening in the world of sport. On many a Sunday, I realise 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.

Let’s not Pressure Cornwall

Former West Indies batsman Philo Wallace in an interview on the Mason and Guest radio show welcomed the inclusion of spinner Rakheem Cornwall in the final match-day squad for the Test tour of England. Wallace described the Antiguan as the “match-winner” and “trump.” In my opinion, Cornwall has immense potential but to call him a match-winner is simply putting too much pressure on the young man who is new to this level and format of the game.

The 27-year-old off-spinner has so far played two Test matches for the West Indies. He took three wickets against India on debut before claiming 10 wickets in his one-off Test against Afghanistan. During the recently concluded practise match in England, Cornwall took one wicket and scored two runs. Is this a sign that he is already feeling the pressure of expectation?

Based on Cornwall’s limited Test-match experience, I would suggest that we allow him time to settle as a member of the Test squad. I strongly believe Test cricket is a completely different level of the game and playing against England will not be a walk in the park as they are at home and hungry for a win.

Chris Gayle Opting out of CPL – A Surprise!

The 2020 Hero CPL will be different without the Universe Boss. As a journalist and a cricket fan, I will miss the energy that he brings to the games although I respect highly his personal decision not to play, especially in light of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Last Monday, Gayle communicated his decision to the St Lucia Zouks by email saying he would be unavailable.

In the email, Gayle pointed out that due to the lockdown he was unable to meet his family and his young child who are in St Kitts because he was in Jamaica. Gayle said he needed a break and wanted to spend time with his young family.

Who can fault the cricketer for this, especially considering the recent turn of events?

Gayle signed up with the Zouks in April after an acrimonious split with Jamaica Tallawahs. Based on the fallout with the Jamaica Tallawahs, I was expecting fireworks from the T20 superstar. I was expecting him to use his frustrations as fuel to score heavily this CPL.

Meanwhile, Gayle's abrupt decision will have disrupted the Zouks' plans for the players' draft, conducted virtually for the first time because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The Zouks signed Gayle as one of the marquee players outside the draft in the US $130,000 - 160,000-price bracket. In his absence, the franchise is likely to get the first pick at the draft now.

 Mediation should have been the TTFA's first choice

 Having taken Mediation Studies at the post-graduate level, I believe mediation is a viable option for settling the dispute between FIFA and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

Frankly, I am surprised that it was not utilized earlier. It is cheaper than heading to the courts, especially based on the reported financial situation of the William-Wallace administration finds itself in.

FIFA dissolved the Wallace-led executive on March 17, 2020, less than four months after the latter had been on the job. They were replaced by a normalisation committee led by local businessman Robert Hadad. The committee has been mandated to oversee the affairs of local football and reducing the TTFA’s crippling $50 million debt.

Mediation, though informal and flexible, could play a big part in shaping the outcome of the dispute. In the case of the TTFA, they would be presented with a chance to influence the outcome of the process while getting a listening ear from FIFA.

In addition, at the heart of mediation is the preservation of the long-term relationship between the parties. Should the TTFA have gone this route earlier things may not have been as messy as it is presently.

Congratulations! Well-deserved Liverpool

How can one be upset when a team wins a major title after 30 years of disappointment and frustration?

How can one question a team that has dropped only seven points in 31 matches so far this season? How can one not celebrate a team that has claimed a title with seven games to spare?

Hearty congratulations to the Reds, who might have experienced some anxiety because of the uncertainty of completing the season because of COVID 19. Credit must go the manager Jurgen Klopp, who took over from Brendan Rodgers in 2015 when the team was 10th in the league table. Though it has taken him five years to win English football's biggest prize, Klopp's impact on Liverpool was immediate. "We have to change from doubters to believers,” were his striking words during the press conference where he was introduced as the club’s new manager.

Overall, Liverpool has been a consistent group and as Klopp said, “They are confident because we won, but they are humble. If they stay humble, we have a good chance to be successful.” Congratulations boys!

 

 

 

 

 

All agree that it is good of athletes to give back to the people who have helped them become global superstars and mega-wealthy people. But are they doing enough?

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