Indian Premier League (IPL) club Kings XI Punjab are expected to predictably retain West Indian star batsman Chris Gayle but will release his compatriot Sheldon Cottrell ahead of the new season.

The 31-year-old pace bowler was bought for a sizeable INR 8.5 crore ($US1,156,239) during the IPL 2020 auction but failed to justify the price tag.  In six matches, Cottrell bowled 20 overs, claiming 6 wickets for 176 runs at an expensive economy rate of 8.80.  Unfortunately, perhaps the player's biggest moment came after being on the wrong side of thrashing from Rajasthan Royals Rahul Tewatia, who smashed 5 sixes off one of his overs during a record run chase.

Gayle, on the other hand, was sensational.  Despite starting the season on the sidelines, the big left-hander became the driving force behind the team's push for a playoff spot, although it ended with the team narrowly missing out on 6th spot.  The West Indian had been left on the bench for the first seven games of the season.  He was not picked for the first five, and food poisoning ruled him out for the next two.  He ended with 288 runs at an average of 44.14 and a high score of 99.

India batsman Karun Nair is also expected to be released but the team remains undecided on Australian Glenn Maxwell, who had a mediocre IPL season but had a splendid series against India.

  

The West Indies suffered a humiliating six-wicket loss to Bangladesh in the first of three ODI’s today, going down by six wickets with 97 balls to spare in the match played at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka.

Bengaluru FC coach Naushad Moosa insists the club parted ways with Jamaica international Deshorn Brown in order to allow the player to search for more playing time.

The 30-year-old forward recently completed a move to top-flight Indian team NorthEast United, away from Bengaluru, who he joined last year on a one-and-a-half-year deal.  Brown scored three goals in 17 appearances and increasingly found first-team football hard to come by.  

Moosa replaced outgoing coach Carles Cuadrat, as the club looks to begin a rebuilding process, that has seen the former B-team coach step up as head coach.

"When you talk about Brown, as a club we want to help the player. Now if you see Ajay (Chhetri), he is getting playing opportunities with East Bengal. Brown was not getting enough playing time (at Bengaluru). So, for his development, we should allow him to go and play [elsewhere]. We thought we should help him get more playing time," Moosa said.

Brown will be looking to regain his goalscoring form with the Highlanders who will be without Kwesi Appiah who is set to miss the rest of the season with an injury.  The Jamaican has previously played for the likes of DC United and Colorado Rapids.  It is hoped will be able to link up with Idrissa Sylla and Luis Machado. 

Brown has played 14 games for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz since making his debut in 2013.

 

 

 

 

Jamaica track and field star, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, does not anticipate that age will be a barrier to achieving success when the 2021 Olympics finally rolls around.

 At 34, Fraser-Pryce will be one of the oldest women lined up to face the starter's gun, should the event eventually be staged in Tokyo later this year.  The 32nd Olympiad was initially slated to be staged last summer but was postponed due to the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The postponement of the quadrennial event has meant another year of training and preparation for some legendary athletes facing another race, the one against time.  The situation will not be an entirely new one for nine-time World champion and two-time Olympic champion Fraser-Pryce.  In 2019, at the age of 32, she became the oldest female sprinter to win a 100m world title.  In that event, by comparison, silver medalist, Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith was nine years her junior.  Showing herself to be very much at the top of her game in 2020, however, despite the havoc the global pandemic wrought on the international schedule, Fraser-Pryce is clearly in the mood to defy the odds yet again.

“Yes, I’m 33, but if I can come back from having my son and be able to stand on the podium, my age is not going to stop me.  I’m still going to work hard.  I’m still going to be committed and I’m grateful for the years of experience I’ve had,” Fraser-Pryce told the BBC.

"I'm probably older than most of the women in the race but so what? I'm just focusing on getting the job done and being happy."

Legendary West Indies batsman, Brian Lara, has pointed to a performance that emanated from one of the uglier, darker moments of a largely sparkling career as one of his most memorable.

In one of a few instances the batting star was not greeted by applause and gestures of widespread adoration on his sojourn to the crease, Lara was booed by the Sabina Park crowd when strode out for the second Test of the 1999 Australia tour of the West Indies.

During a tumultuous period for the Windies, the issue for some home fans stemmed from what they believed to be disrespect shown to bowling legend Courtney Walsh in what they deemed to be a hostile takeover of the captaincy by the Trinidadian.  Walsh, who was appointed captain in 1994, served as captain for 22 Test matches before being replaced by Lara in 1998.  On the back of a heavy loss to Australia in the first Test and having also previously been whitewashed by South Africa, The Prince found himself occupying the unusual status of public enemy.

His response, a classy, shot-filed 213, which would go on to underpin a massive 10 wicket win at Sabina Park to level the series, it must be said, went a long way in lightening the mood.

“Everyone says the 153 was second maybe to Sir Don Bradman’s (Against England at Melbourne in 1936-1937), maybe post-war, one of the better innings, but a week before that I was in Jamaica where we played against Australia in that second Test match,” Lara told 7Cricket.

“We came off scoring 51 in the fourth innings in Trinidad and I stood there in Jamaica, I was given the captaincy for two Test matches, on probation, never before had that happened in the history of West Indies cricket…that 213 in Jamaica was for me (special) in terms of not just batsmanship but my inner strength to come out of that situation I was in,” he went on.

“I was facing expulsion as the captain, of course, I was going to be playing, the captaincy was not that important to me that I wouldn’t play, but the threat of the expulsion and the fact that everyone was sort of jeering against me, in the Caribbean, was just unbelievable.”

West Indies captain for the upcoming One Day International (ODI) series against Bangladesh, Jason Mohammed, says the team will draw inspiration from India’s surprise triumph over Australia, at the much-vaunted Gabba fortress, on Monday.

The relatively inexperienced India team ended a 32-year unbeaten run for the Aussies on the back of a stellar innings from Rishabh Pant.  The team’s performance broke Australian hearts, and records as well, with the mammoth target of 328 runs representing the highest ever successful runs chase at the venue.  It was achieved with 3 wickets remaining.

Heading into the series as huge underdogs, the team owed a large part of the victory to resilience, Shubman Gill's crucial 91 and the dogged determination of Cheteshwar Pujara who faced 211 deliveries and 10 body blows to defend the Border-Gavaskar trophy on a dramatic final day.

For, Mohammed, who will lead a hastily assembled and likewise inexperienced squad against Bangladesh, starting on Wednesday, there is plenty about the India performance to draw encouragement from.

“It’s obviously something we will look to.  It depends on the day and how you play,” Mohammed told members of the media via a press conference call on Tuesday.

“A lot of the guys will be making their debut, but once you have that belief and belief within the team that you can do well and that you can win games then these things are achievable and it showed in the India versus Australia series,” he added.

“We have the same mindset.  We are just looking to play some good cricket starting tomorrow and hopefully, the results will be on our side as well.”

 

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 trending issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT the 2021 edition with Mariah.

  1. Windies men- Nothing to lose so much to gain!

It is no secret that as the West Indies get set to face Bangladesh on January 20, in their first One-Day International, the home side is the overwhelming favourite, especially because of their track record of winning at home. The Windies enter against a backdrop comprising of several senior players opting out, Hayden Walsh Jr getting Covid-19 mere days before the first ODI, eight players making their ODI debut and the captain, Jason Mohammed, who last played for the Windies in 2018. Despite all these factors, they walk into this series with nothing to lose and so much to gain.

It is easy to point out the lack of experience in the Windies team. Simply put, as I mentioned before, eight of the players suiting up will be making their debuts. In the ODI setup, Rovman Powell is the most experienced having played 34 matches with the skipper Jason Mohammed ranked second with 28. While this is enough to say the Windies team is inexperienced we must also note that Bangladesh also has three uncapped players - off-spinner Mahadi Hasan and pacers Shorful Islam and Hasan Mahmud.

Similarly, it is natural to feel uneasy that ODI skipper Jason Mohammed has been out of Windies cricket since 2018. However, we cannot forget that Mohammed previously captained the Windies in an ODI against England in 2017 and in three T20Is during their 2018 Pakistan tour.

It was during a similar situation when key players refused to play and CWI thrust Mohammed to the helm.

All things considered, it is not always a disadvantage to be the underdogs if the team is physically and mentally ready. In World-Cup-winning captain Clive Lloyd’s open letter to the team, he highlighted that he made his debut on short notice against India 1966. He got his call up just hours before the game and went on to score 82 and 78. 

And, in that is the bigger picture. A ticket to the World Cup awaits any player who seizes this moment. Wicketkeeper/batsman Joshua Da Silva impressed on his Test debut in New Zealand where he scored an impressive half-century.

Batsman Kjorn Ottley is another player who could force his way into the first team. In 2019, he played for Barbados in the 50-over competition and scored 325 runs in the nine innings at an average of 54.16.  All-rounder Akeal Hosein will be eager to transfer his CPL form into this format of the game.

The 27-year-old was the leading wicket-taker in T&T’s 2020 first-class season with a total of 36 wickets at an average of 20.61. 

 

  1. Brooklyn Nets Success: One Word- Sacrifice.

News of James Harden leaving the Houston Rockets and joining the Brooklyn Nets did not sit very well with me as a Rockets supporter. It took me a few days to process his exit. However, as Harden’s biggest supporter and critic I understand the reason for the move. The three-time NBA scoring champion is desperate to win a Championship and he is not getting younger. However, if the Nets are to be successful it comes down to a key factor - sacrifice.

 The “Big Three” of James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant can only work well if they share the ball. Over the last 10 seasons, all three players have ranked in the top 10 in the highest usage rate in clutch time. Harden described it best while addressing the media. 

“When it comes to facilitating it depends on the flow of the game. Some nights I’ll be a facilitator. Some nights I might get it going and score the ball at a high clip. That is the beauty of being versatile and being able to do more than one thing. Same with Kevin and same with Kyrie. Every night is going to be different.”

 Each of the three players will be required to sacrifice whatever is going on behind the scenes of their lives if they are to win a championship. Irving was fined USD$50,000 for breaching the NBA Covid-19 protocols after a video surfaced on social media that showed him at a birthday party with no mask.

He also made an appearance at a Zoom fundraiser for a progressive political candidate half-hour before the tipoff of a Nets game.  He needs to show up mentally and physically.  Harden is out of shape and will have to avoid getting into Covid-19 trouble again. Additionally, it will be in the team’s best interest if KD stays injury free and avoids getting the virus again.

 In order for the Nets to get the best of the Harden trade all egos have to be put aside and the players need to allow rookie head coach Steve Nash and assistant coach Michael  D'Antoni to do their jobs without interference.

A positive to draw from this is Harden has worked well with D’Antoni at the Rockets and even cited his move had a lot to do with the influence of the assistant coach.

Kevin Durant, without a doubt, is a selfless player. He sacrificed his Achilles when he returned to the 2019 NBA finals too soon.  His value to the team goes without saying, however, a key element of the Nets success this season will be his acceptance of the leadership role. 

The Brooklyn Nets are championship contenders for 2021. The big question is then “Who is selfless enough to step back?” 

  

  1. Widespread vaccination and speedy rollout can ensure the Tokyo Olympics proceed.

Japanese government officials say they are committed to hosting the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo despite a recent rise in Covid-19 cases.  Reports indicate that the international Olympic Committee is working on ways to ensure that athletes are vaccinated so the event can proceed safely in July.

As of Friday, 15 January, Tokyo confirmed 2001 new infections. The number of new infections and the shortage of hospital beds are making it difficult to hospitalize coronavirus patients.  Deputy head of the Tokyo Medical Association Masataka Inakuchi has warned that the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients could rise to approximately 4600 in a week and 7000 in two weeks.

One can only hope that there will be widespread vaccination rollouts and speedy distribution in Tokyo so the Olympic Games can proceed without any further delay. 

 

 

West Indies vice-captain for the One Day International (ODI) team Sunil Ambris is hoping to stake his claim for a regular place in the first-team squad, by scoring at least one 100 in the upcoming tour of Bangladesh.

The 27-year-old Ambris was among several players unexpectedly named to the West Indies squad for the tour after 12 first-team players made themselves unavailable for the tour.  Prior to that Ambris had last played for the team in February of last year, on the team’s tour of Sri Lanka.  On that occasion, the player averaged 26 in three matches.  He was not selected to the team for either of the team’s previous tours to England or New Zealand.

Ambris, in addition to providing support for less experienced players on the tour, hopes to push himself back in the conversation for regular selection.

“This is the first tour that I’m actually confident that I will be starting.  So, I would like to use this tour to cement myself in the starting 11 for other tours,” Ambris told members of the media via an online press conference on Friday.

“I’d love to get at least one hundred out of these three games, I think that would do me a lot of good,” he added.

  

Windies batsman, Andre Fletcher, has pointed to a call from legendary batsman Brian Lara as pivotal in helping to turn around his form in this season’s Big Bash League (BBL).

On Thursday, Fletcher smashed a brutal 89 for just 49 balls to underpin the Melbourne Stars massive 111 run win over Adelaide Strikers.  The knock was timely for Fletcher as he had not passed 18 in his first nine BBL encounters.

The 33-year-old had previously also performed below expectations in a low-scoring Caribbean Premier League (CPL), where he scored 211 from 12 games despite his team St Lucia Zouks making it to the final.  As it turns out, it was a call from the legendary West Indian batsman, who is on commentary duty at the BBL, which proved critical in helping Fletcher turn around that recent run of bad form.

"He called me, and I was surprised, to be honest," Fletcher said following his explosive performance.

"He was telling me that, looking from the outside, I've been striking the ball cleanly and he just told me to give myself that opportunity. Giving myself that chance and playing each ball on its merits,” he added.

"I'm an aggressive player so there's no need to go out there and look to [over] power the ball. To be honest, that's what I did today.

"I've met him before. He's a great guy. I told him over the phone, after what he told me I was like, 'So Brian, now I understand the reason you were so great'.

"He told me, feel free to call him any time I wish to, he's there, he's open for anything and willing to give me advice."

Former West Indies fast bowler, Tony Gray, believes it is a mistake for selectors to get caught up with selecting teams based on conditions.

Recently, Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief of selectors Roger Harper set off a firestorm with an explanation that promising fast bowler Chemar Holder had been left out of the Test squad for the Bangladesh tour, in order to include an extra spinner to exploit conditions.

For some, the decision was all the more vexing considering the absence of Jason Holder, who was typically part and parcel of a four-prong pace bowling attack, and Chemar Holder’s promising debut in New Zealand where he took two wickets in trying circumstances.

For his part, in addition to pointing out that Bangladesh were exceptional at handling spin, Gray pointed to the fact that a multitude of pace bowlers had done well on Asian pitches for several decades.

“I think that they (selectors) are fixated on the conditions, you cannot be fixated on the conditions,” Gray told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I played my first Test series in Pakistan and I got 14 wickets in three games.  You want the mindset to be there.  If you are telling a young fast bowler, for example, who can bowl some 90 miles an hour deliveries, that you are not going to perform well because of bowling conditions that are not really suited to your pace and your style of bowling, then you are doing the wrong thing,” he added.

“So, I think they have been fixated on conditions and there are other things to take note of for example the strengths of the opposition, the Bangladeshis are very adept at playing spin bowling.”

Windies fast bowling legend Sir Andy Roberts has hailed current West Indies captain Jason Holder as an excellent cricketer but concedes aspects of his captaincy could use a bit of work.

Roberts believes that, in particular, the all-rounder still struggles with the setting of his field and making key leadership decisions at crucial times.

Holder’s captaincy has come under the microscope in recent months, on the back of disappointing results and underwhelming performances by the team against both England and New Zealand.  The issues disgruntled pundits have pointed out have had to do with the his field placings and decisions whether to bat or bowl after winning the toss.

“I think Jason Holder as a captain on the field is lost. I don’t think he is aware of what is going on on the field because if I win a toss as a captain and before lunch on a green top pitch I am having a man on the point boundary, then I am lost,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“That’s the first thing. His field placing (leaves) a lot to be desired and I believe the time should come where he takes instructions from the coaches who can see the game better than he can,” he added.

Roberts, however, also believes Holder has been let down by players around him, while also calling on the all-rounder to be more aggressive.

“A captain is only as good as the men who he leads, so there has to be something wrong with the 11 guys on the field and cannot pinpoint certain things to the captain,” Roberts said.

“I would give him an ‘A’ grade for his interviews – he interviews very well. He’s a damn good cricketer but he needs to be more aggressive in his approach as a captain. He’s too defensive-minded.”

West Indies legend Sir Andy Roberts insists the region’s fall off in producing top-class bowling talent is due to the unwillingness of the current generation to put in the hard yards required to be successful.

For decades, the region was the producer of fearsome fast bowling talent, which often left opposition batsmen with plenty to think about.  The likes of Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Wes Hall, and Michael Holding are only a few of the names who could leave opponents with plenty to dread once they strode to the crease.

Many will point to the pace-bowling lineage being broken with the end of twin towers Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, with no bowler since managing to come close to consistency matching that once fearsome legacy.

“I don’t think that these guys are prepared for the hard work that fast bowling entails,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest program.

“If you look at it, most players now prefer to play T20s, it's only four overs.  I must say that fast bowling is hard work, I would say donkey work, but I just believe they are not prepared,” he added.

In recent times, some have blamed poor preparation of the region’s pitches for suffocation of the Caribbean’s fast bowling talent, Roberts, however, does not agree.

“A lot of people blame the pitches, but I always ask, Pakistan is supposed to have some of the slowest pitches in the world, yet still they produce some of the fastest bowlers in the world.  How do they do it and we can’t,” Roberts said.

 “People believe that during the 60s, 70s, and 80s we used to have really fast pitches, that is far from the truth.  We used to have Kensington Oval, the ball used to swing around and move off the seam on the first day, but after that, it became one of the best batting pitches in the region.  It has nothing to do with pitches, it has a lot to do with the work ethics of the young cricketers, they don’t want to work hard.”

West Indies captain for the upcoming series against Bangladesh, Jason Mohammed, insists there is little pressure on fringe players selected for the tour, having been unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight.

The Caribbean team will take on Bangladesh with somewhat of an unfamiliar line-up, having seen several players pull out of the tour due to concerns regarding the coronavirus.  Among the replacements will be four Test players who are still looking for their first cap and 7 One Day International (ODI) players who could be playing for the first time.

An unexpected and surprise selection for the West Indies squad could, however, gift some players with a platform to make their case for regular inclusion in the first team squad.  Mohammed, however, does not expect that fact to put added pressure on himself or the other batsmen to perform well during the series.

“I wouldn’t say it more pressure there are young guys who are obviously looking to play international cricket.  I don’t think it’s more pressure, I think it’s an ideal opportunity for all of us,” Mohammed told members of the media on Thursday.

“We can put our hands up and say we are ready for international cricket.  I do not think it is more pressure for us, I would say we are just looking forward to the opportunity.”

 

West Indies captain for the Bangladesh tour, Jason Mohammed, has taken to heart words of encouragement from former WI captain Clive Lloyd, in light of what he believes have been some negative perspectives.

In all honesty, few are likely to favour the team’s chances against a full-strength Bangladesh when the tour bowls off later this month.  The West Indies were left short-handed in the experience department after 12 of their first-string players opted out of the tour after listing health and safety concerns.

As a result of the regulars opting out, the selectors were forced to hastily assembly a squad that consisted of majority fringe players and a few others with limited experience.  Bangladesh outplayed the full-strength team during a 2018 tour, and have generally had the better of the results in recent encounters.

Still, Mohammed refuses to completely write off the team’s chances before a ball is bowled and was grateful to receive encouragement from the well-respected former West Indies captain, Lloyd, who reportedly penned letters to several players.

“It meant a lot coming from one of our greats.  Those are the things you want to hear because there has been a lot of negative talk going around,” Mohammed told members of the media on Thursday, via an online press conference from Bangladesh.

“When you hear from someone like Clive Lloyd it puts great belief within you. With the World Cup coming up it’s an opportunity for all of us to put our hands up and try and get into the original team, when the full squad is back and have a chance of going to the World Cup.  I think it inspired the guys a lot and hopefully, we can back his words up.”  

 

 

 

West Indies coach, Phil Simmons, has encouraged players who will get an unexpected opportunity to represent the regional team to make full use of it.

Following the withdrawal of 12 first-team players from the Bangladesh tour, the regional team will be made up of a majority of fringe players.  In fact, for the Test squad, four players could be in line for a debut with five having less than 10 caps.  The One Day International (ODI) squad contains 7 players who could be picked for the first time.

Despite being massive underdogs, however, Simmons believes the situation presents a unique opportunity for the inexperienced players that have been selected.

“My role and my message to all the players here: you’re not here to fill in, you’re here to give yourself a chance,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

 “You have a chance now to seal your place in this team. If you do well here, that augurs well for you going forward.  You come here, you do well in the three games in the ODI series and the two-Test matches then you’re putting yourself in a place where nobody can move you, so you have that opportunity and only you have that opportunity,” he added.

 

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