Former West Indies and Barbados batsman Philo Wallace has pointed to team captain Jason Holder’s lack of aggressive killer instinct as one of the issues that ailed the regional team in its recent loss to England.

The 28-year-old all-rounder has faced expected scrutiny in recent days, following a mid-series collapse against the Englishmen, which clouded over a promising start to the series. 

Holder had marshaled his troops to an impressive four-wicket win to begin the tour but the introduction of pace bowler Stuart Broad midway the second Test coincided with the team coming apart at the seams, with displays of less effective bowling and dismal batting.  Wallace believes a more aggressive stance from the typically laid-back captain would have been more beneficial.

“Jason handled the side well in the first Test match.  We won that match convincingly.  If you look at the second and third match and how he handled it, again, we see deficiencies in his aggression.  I don’t think he’s aggressive enough,” Wallace told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I don’t think he’s aggressive enough.  When Ben Stokes decided to come around the wicket we saw things change.  We didn’t see a lot of aggression from our captain and that’s why bowlers did not show the aggression,” he added.

Wallace was also highly critical of Holder’s continuing support for a struggling Shai Hope during the series.

“Obviously, when Jason decided to continually defend Hope, it's a massive statement to defend a man who hasn’t scored runs in Test match cricket for a long time.  Yet, you have the extra batsman available to you and you did not play him,” Wallace said.

“You went down the road with Shai Hope and Shai Hope did not deliver for you, so that is a massive responsibility for a captain to take on board,” he added.

“Sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves about West Indies cricket.  If West Indies cricket is to move forward, sometimes you have to make some harsh decisions.  You have to drop your friend to bring in the man who will fight and perform for you.  You cannot pick a friend and keep getting beat.”  

 

West Indies legend Curtly Ambrose believes the team should consider removing Shai Hope from the line-up against England, for his own good, after a brutal run of form has severely limited the player’s impact in the ongoing series.

Hope was among the few standout players when the team played England in the 2017 series.  In fact, his two finely crafted 100s played a critical role in the team turning the tables on England for a shock victory in the second Test at Headingly.

To say Hope has struggled since then, however, could only be construed as a massive understatement.  He has averaged below 25 in 21 Tests, with no hundreds and managed scores of 16, 9, 25 and 7 in the first two Tests against England.  With the final and decisive Test on the horizon, Ambrose believes some time out of the spotlight could be good for the 26-year-old, and that on the flip side, repeated failure could permanently damage the player.

"Something has gone terribly wrong for him since those two centuries at Headingley - he hasn't done anything really in Test cricket since then," said Ambrose recently told Sky Sports.

"He is a much better player than what he is showing at the moment and is obviously very low on confidence,” he added.

"Maybe in the next game we should rest him so he can regain some confidence. If you keep playing him and he keeps failing it will only get worse. You are going to destroy him if it continues like that.”

West Indies coach Phil Simmons has admitted there are some long conversations to be had about the composition of the team’s top order, ahead of the third and final Test against England.

Heading into the series, concerns had been raised about how the team’s top order would fare against an experienced England bowling attack.  So far, they have not proven to be unfounded.  With the exception of Brathwaite, the top team’s top three has failed to fire so far. 

John Campbell and Shai Hope have only managed to muster high scores of 28 and 25, respectively, so far this series, and failed to make it to double digits in two of four innings.  Though offering no confirmation, Simmons admitted it could be time for some changes.

“It’s something that we have to look at over the next couple days and decide which direction we go then,” Simmons told members of the media, via a Zoom press conference.

“They haven’t fired so we have to consider it (changes) over the next couple days,” he added.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons can no longer ignore the top-order batting of Shai Hope, who has failed to come off with the bat in four innings of the #raisethebat Series for the Wisden Trophy, currently ongoing in England.

Hope had scores of 16 and nine in the first Test the West Indies won by four wickets in Southampton before scoring 25 and seven in a 113-run defeat in Manchester.

Hope, since scoring back-to-back hundreds against England in 2017, has only managed to get past 50 on four occasions, even as he faced the music 39 times.

“I am concerned. He has now gone some four innings without a score and in contrast to how he played over the last four months, five, six months in the other formats, I am concerned about his form and we will be sitting down and chatting about that,” said Simmons.

The coach, who was speaking in a press conference after the West Indies defeat by England in the second Test at Old Trafford, was referencing Hope’s phenomenal year with the bat as an ODI player.

In Hope’s last 10 ODI innings, he has scored three centuries, and three half-centuries, including 115, 51 and 72 in his last three innings against Sri Lanka earlier this year.

Simmons has said it was too early to decide on whether or not Hope would be dropped for the third Test or if another role in the batting line-up would suit him more.

The West Indies are in danger of losing the second Test in #raisethebat Series at Old Trafford, in Manchester.

At lunch on the final day, the West Indies have already lost their openers and Shai Hope with just 25 runs on the board but more importantly, still with 74 overs to face and 287 runs to get.

England only batted for 11 overs of the morning session as Ben Stokes went into limited-overs mode to help them push their lead to 311 before a declaration 11 overs into the day.

Stokes was unbeaten on 78 off 57 balls as England declared on 129-3, giving the hosts 85 overs to bowl out the West Indies and tie the three-match series at 1-1. They will have two new balls to get the victory.

Any result looks possible on the final day — as was the case in the first Test in Southampton last week, when the Windies won by four wickets after chasing down 200 for victory.

West Indies' aim will likely be survival, though, with the victory target of 312 unlikely.

Stokes smashed two sixes over long-off as the big-hitting allrounder and England captain Joe Root put on 53 runs in the first 43 balls of the morning before Root was run out for 22 — effectively sacrificing his own wicket to get Stokes back on strike.

Now alongside Ollie Pope (12 not out), Stokes still had time to slog Jason Holder down the ground for another six, pushing the lead past 300, before Root called them back in.

By then, England had made 92 runs off 66 balls.

The second new ball will be available for England after 80 overs.

John Campbell, 4, was the first to go, going caught behind off the bowling of Stuart Broad, while his opening partner Kraigg Brathwaite was trapped on the crease off the bowling of Chris Woakes for 12.

Shai Hope’s struggles with the bat have also continued as Broad got a delivery to nip back at him, taking the top of off stump, with the batsman hapless after his decision to play back to a fullish delivery.

Roston Chase, yest to score, and Shamarh Brooks, 2, are the batsmen at the crease.

On the eve of the second #Raisethebat Test match between the West Indies and England and Old Trafford on Thursday, West Indies Jason Holder is backing Shai Hope to eventually come good with the bat.

On the eve of the West Indies historic bio-secure Test series against England, I thought it interesting to take a look back at the last time the Caribbean outfit had any good days in England.

The West Indies are about to play against England in England for the Wisden Trophy and we at SportsMax thought it may be interesting to look back at the best performances from the Caribbean side in that country.

The West Indies lead England in head to heads, 57-49, with 51 drawn games between the teams.

The teams began to play for the Wisden Trophy in 1963 and since then have won the series 14 times to England’s 10, though this year’s hosts have been dominant recently, save for last year when the West Indies wrested the trophy from them in a 2-1 win. There have been three drawn series since 1963.

But performing in England has always been tough and good performances there have always been counted at a premium, living in the memories of batsmen, bowlers and fans for a very very long time.

Here are the performances that stand out in my mind, tell me if you have others you remember. Comment on these performances on Facebook or Twitter, I wouldn’t mind the trip down memory lane.

 

Best XI West Indian performances in England

 

Allan Rae and Frank Worrell lay into England (The Oval 1950)

Centuries from Allan Rae and Frank Worrell helped the West Indies to win their first series against England in England.

The West Indies would end up winning the series 3-1 but that was set up from the first innings of the first Test where, electing to bat first, Rae bat for five hours to score 109, while Worrell, batting at number three, did the same to score 138.

The West Indies would go on to score 503, before limiting England to 344 and 103 to win by an innings and 56 runs.

 

Sobers goes on show, Charlie Griffiths works up a head of steam (Headingley (1963)

Sir Garfield Sobers scored 102 against England at Headingley as the West Indies won the fourth Test of their 1963 series against England, setting up a first-innings total of 397, which quickly turned into a 223-run lead thanks to Charlie Griffiths’ 6-36. The performances set up a 221-run victory and the series would end 3-1 in favour of the visitors.

 

Lance Gibbs turns Old Trafford on its head (Old Trafford, 1966)

In 1966 Lance Gibbs was the greatest spinner in the world and England crumbled at the feet of his twirling in the first Test of their series. Following on from Garfield Sobers’ 161 in a first innings at Old Trafford where the West Indies scored 484, Gibbs’ 5-37 left England flapping at 167 all out. The follow-on didn’t go any better for the hosts, with Gibbs bagging 5-69 from a marathon 41 overs of bowling. The West Indies would go on to win that 1966 series 3-1.

 

Lloyd, Boyce take over the Oval (The Oval, 1973)

Cllive Lloyd scored 132 in the first innings of the first Test at The Oval in 1973, but that was just part of the story of the way the West Indies dominated made their way to a 158-run victory and a 2-0 series win against England. Keith Boyce only played 21 Tests for the West Indies over the course of four years but in 1973 England had no answer to him. Lloyd’s Innings proved the catalyst fo the West Indies’ 415-run first innings byt then Boyce returned to bag 5-70 to restrict England to 257 and give the visitors a decided advantage. The West Indies would quickly score 255 before Boyce was back at it again, taking 6-77 on the way to dismissing England for 255.

 

VIV Richards shows complete dominance (Trent Bridge, 1976)

Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards is a name that really needs no introduction and England would feel the brunt of his brutality on many occasions. In 1976, the West Indies won a five-Test series in England 3-0, but Richards was dominant from ball one. Batting at his customary number three in the first Test of the series, Richards would help the West Indies to 494 runs in a first innings where he slammed 232. When England responded with 332 in their first innings, the West Indies needed to score quick runs so they could declare with enough time to bowl England out a second time. Richards obliged with 63 and even though the match ended in a draw, the performance of the Master Blaster.

 

Gordon Greenidge puts his name in the Lord’s book in emphatic style  (Lord’s 1984)

The second Test of a series against England at Lord’s had a number of brilliant performances from both teams. England’s Graeme Fowler had scored a fighting 106 in his side’s 286. The low total was brought about by Malcolm Marshall’s special bowling performance of 6-85. That bowling performance was superseded by Ian Botham’s 8-103 to help restrict the West Indies to 245. In the second innings, England declared on 300-9 thanks to Allan Lamb’s 110. Chasing 341 in the second innings, Gordon Greenidge eclipsed all those performances with a sparkling 214 not out, as the West Indies romped to 344-1 in just 66.1 overs. Larry Gomes got a front seat to the action, scoring 92. The West Indies would go on to win the series 5-0.

 

Malcolm Marshall leaves England a little short (Lord’s 1988)

From the lates 1970s until the mid-1990s the West Indies could depend on one part or another of their team to pull them out of tough situations. In the second Test of their 1988 Wisden Trophy series against England, they were up against it early with Gus Logie’s 81 helping the West Indies to just 209. But Malcolm Marshall proved that any total could be enough, destroying England with 6-32 and leaving the game well balanced and maybe giving the West Indies a slight advantage.

Gordon Greenidge’s 103 gave the West Indies a good lead headed into England’s second innings and despite Allan Lamb’s 113, Marshall’s brilliance meant they never got close. The West Indies won by 134 runs and Marshall took 4-60 to end with figures of 10-92.

 

The Ambrose and Walsh show take over Trent Bridge (Trent Bridge, 1991)

The West Indies conveyor belt of fastbowlers had begun to run dry by 1991 but they still had the services of Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Andrew Walsh and Curtly Ambrose. And while they would lose the Wisden Trophy to England that year, there was one Test at Trent Bridge where Ambrose and Walsh reminded the world of the great days of fastbowling and pointed to what would become the most successful opening bowling partnership in World cricket for the next 10 years. In the first innings, led by Graeme Gooch’s 68, England scored 300 all out, but it would have been a much higher total had it not been for 34 overs from Ambrose that yielded 5-74. The West Indies would go into the second innings with a healthy 97-run lead, thanks in large part to Viv Richards’ 80. When England bat again, Walsh made sure the West Indies would not have much to chase, bagging 4-64. In that England second innings, Ambrose had 3-61.

 

Richie Richardson plays anchor role (Edgbaston, 1991)

Richie Richardson had the reputation for being an aggressive batsman, who hooked and pulled his way out of trouble for the most part, but at Edgbaston, in 1991 a different type of batsman was called for. England had been dismissed for 188 courtesy of Malcolm Marshall, 4-33, and Curtly Ambrose, 3-64. But the West Indies were in trouble with the bat as well, with Chris Lewis running rampant for England with 6-111. Standing in the way though, Richardson, recognizing that wickets were falling all around him, faced 229 deliveries to score 104, his strike rate of 45.41, unusually low for his aggressive nature. The innings helped the West Indies to 292 and set up a seven-wicket win  

 

Lara’s 179, Hooper’s 127 keeps things even against England (Kennington Oval, 1995)

With the six-Test series tied at 2-2 headed into the final game, the West Indies, a team in decline by 1995, needed to make sure they did not lose.

England had scored 454 thanks to Graeme Hick’s 96 and despite Curtly Ambrose’s 5-96. Replying, the West Indies scored 692-8, building a lead of  238 to make sure the game could not be lost. The total is still the biggest without featuring a double-century from a batsman, but there was still much brilliance on show. Brian Lara for instance, scored a masterful 179 from just 206 deliveries, slamming 26 fours and a six. But Lara didn’t have to do it alone, with Carl Hooper scoring 127, skipper Richie Richardson, scoring 93, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, scoring 80, and Sherwin Campbell scoring 89. As a team, that was probably the last time the West Indies showed complete dominance with the bat in England.

 

Shai Hope becomes an immortal at Headingley (Headingley 2017)

Still a growing team, the West Indies unit that went to England in 2017 were expected to be thrashed and they were. While the defeat in the three-Test series was only 2-1, and the a result came down to the final Test, the truth is the teams were world’s apart. In that second Test though, the West Indies learned they could not only compete, but they could win in England. Ben Stokes had scored a century to prop up England’s first innings at 258, as Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach with four wickets apiece gave West Indies real hope. Then Kraigg Brathwaite with 134 and Shai Hope with 147, pushed the West Indies advantage, the innings ending at 427. England were up against it but batted well to score 490-8 and give the West Indies a serious total to chase. Again, Brathwaite and Hope were on show. Brathwaite fell for 95, agonizingly close to a second century in the match, but there was no stopping Hope, who was unbeaten at the end, scoring 118to lead the West Indies to 322-5 and a famous victory.

Tell me I’m wrong isn’t a call to prove myself to be a better cricket analyst than anybody else but rather, expresses the hope that all West Indians have ahead of the team’s historic bio-secure Test series against England beginning July 8.

Half-centuries from Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope carried a Brathwaite XI team to 275 all out at stumps on day one of the West Indies’ three-day warm-up match against Jason Holder’s XI at the Emirates, Old Trafford on Tuesday.

West Indies batsman, Shai Hope, believes it will be crucial for the top order to meet the challenge of carrying on from starts to post ample totals, if the team is to have success on the upcoming tour of England.

The inconsistency of the batting unit has been a sore point for the Caribbean team for the past several years, particularly the top order, who are often accused of not spending enough time at the crease.

As expected, the performance of the top order has been crucial to the outcome of matches against England in recent outings.  In the last two series, the top order has averaged somewhere around 158, in wins for the West Indies, and around 66 in losses.

“We’re missing some key players right now, so it’s very important for us as top-order batters to get those runs on the board, see off the new ball and make it easier for batters coming down the line,” Hope told members of the media.

“As soon as we get those starts, we have to capitalise and go big for the side,” he added.

“It’s the first series back for us, it’s the perfect opportunity for us to showcase our skills and win the series.”

Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite were two of the standout performers for the regional team on their last tour of England.  In the only Test match that the team won, Hope, scored 147 and 118 while opening batsman Brathwaite made 134 and 95.

West Indies batsman Shai Hope said he is ready to transform his Test fortunes when the three-Test series against England begins on July 8.

Reports have emerged that Cricket West Indies has contacted 29 regional players telling them to prepare for a possible tour of England this coming July.

West Indies batting legend, Brian Lara sees quite a bit of talent in the Windies squads currently hunting for a resurgence in world cricket but there is still work to be done.

Lara, speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, for instance, believes talented 23-year-old Shimron Hetmyer has personal issues like his fitness that he needs to deal with before he is quite ready to take the world by storm.

“People have challenges in different ways and Hetmyer, obviously, is a very talented cricketer, someone who plays all forms of the game for the West Indies. If he is unfit, he has to see it as a personal challenge. Fitness levels are so very important. So if fitness is his problem, I would like to see him face that challenge himself, and he’ll be a much better cricketer,” said Lara.

Lara though, has much more immediate hopes for others in the West Indies squad like Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran and Alzarri Joseph.

According to the former Windies captain, Pooran understands his role in the team, while the West Indies can find Hope’s stability useful, even in the T20 form of the game, while Joseph is a gamechanger with his ability to take wickets.

“I like Nicholas Pooran, he’s settling down and understanding his responsibilities more now. Shai Hope could play a part in the T20 World Cup, being that solid guy with a great technique that can hold the innings together. Those are the three players I’m really looking forward to seeing. Alzarri Joseph is someone who I look at and say ‘this guy has got potential, he’s a wicket-taker’. He is someone who I’d like to see do well,” said Lara.

Lara, as he has said before, believes the team can learn much from the example of Virat Kohli.

Kohli, he said, has worked hard on his fitness and that, Lara explained, is the perfect lead for Hetmyer to follow.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said that while he could pinpoint a great many things his side got wrong during a one-sided affair against Sri Lanka at Hambantota on Wednesday, he would not go into the business of scapegoating but would talk to his team about what transpired.

Sri Lanka won the game by 161 runs but more importantly, the hosts now hold an unassailable 2-0 lead in their three-match ODI series.

The hosts benefitted from centuries of 127  and 119 from opener Avishka Fernando and Kusal Mendis respectively, the pair helping them to a mammoth 345-8 from their 50 overs. The West Indies did not get close, as only Shai Hope, 51, and Roston Chase, 31, offered any resistance.

The visitors would end on 184 all out against the bowling of Wanindu Hasaranga, 3-30, Lakshan Sandakan, 3-57, and Nuwan Pradeep, 2-37. There was also a wicket for Angelo Matthews, 1-20.

But Pollard did point out that things could have been different had he not dropped Mendis early in the innings and maybe, the series would now be different.

"It was the start we were looking forward to, getting two wickets early. But I put the catch of Kusal Mendis down, otherwise they would have been three down,” said Pollard.

In addition, Pollard believes his side did not have faith in the plans they made.

“We didn't stick to our plans long enough. I don't think we were up to the international standard today. Well bowled to them and well played to them,” he said.

Pollard will now look toward the final game of the series to see if the West Indies can win one.

“We weren't there in all three departments today. We can pinpoint a lot of things but I don't want to go into a lot of details. We'll do that as a team. I cop this one on the chin and we move on to Kandy."

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