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.

  

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.”

 

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.”

Following PCR tests administered on Wednesday, January 13, Cricket West Indies (CWI) can confirm that Hayden Walsh Jr has tested positive for COVID-19 and will now undergo a period of self-isolation.

The Leeward Islands and West Indies leg-spinner, who is asymptomatic, first returned a negative test result on arrival into Bangladesh on the weekend, and then had a positive return on his test in Dhaka yesterday. This result was verified by a second positive test today.

The West Indies touring squad has been in individual isolation since arriving in Bangladesh and so there has been no contact between squad members since arrival. In accordance with the established medical protocols, Walsh remained isolated from the West Indies squad and is now under the care and supervision of the Team Physician, Dr Praimanand  Singh.

Walsh will remain in isolation until he returns two negative PCR test results and therefore is unavailable to play in the upcoming three-match ODI series against Bangladesh.

All other members of the West Indies touring squad returned second negative COVID-19 tests, after undergoing four tests within the last 11 days.

The three-match ODI Series starts on Wednesday, January 20.

  Full Tour Schedule:

  • January 18: One-day warm-up match, BKSP, Savar
  • January 20 1st ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka
  • January 22: 2nd ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka
  • January 25: 3rd ODI, ZACS, Chattogram
  • January 28-31: Four-day warm-up, M.A. Aziz Stadium, Chattogram
  • February 3-7: 1st Test Match, ZACS, Chattogram
  • February 11-15: 2nd Test Match, SBNCS, Dhaka

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.

 

West Indies captain for the upcoming Bangladesh tour, Kraigg Brathwaite, insists he does not see the current squad as merely a stand-in 11 but a talented group capable of winning games.

With 12 regular team players making themselves unavailable for selection ahead of the tour, after citing health and safety concerns, the Caribbean team will start as massive underdogs heading into the series.

The full-strength squad was comprehensively outplayed in 2018, with the hosts comfortably coasting to a 2-0 series win.  Brathwaite will lead a squad without the likes of Jason Holder, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, or Shamarh Brooks available.  While he himself, and the likes of Jermaine Blackwood, Shannon Gabriel, and Kemar Roach, will provide some experience, four players could be making a debut with five having less than 10 appearances for the West Indies.

“I think I have a good team here, a few guys haven’t played international cricket, some haven’t played in a little while but I know this team is fully capable of doing well at the international level,” Brathwaite told members of the media on Wednesday.

“The guys here, I don’t see them as second-string guys, I believe they can perform at the international level.  So, I know they are looking forward to the opportunity.”

 

Tributes have poured in from around the Caribbean for Jamaica-born former West Indies Women’s all-rounder Vivalyn Latty-Scott who passed away at the weekend.

Latty-Scott was a member of the first West Indies team to play a women’s Test match in 1976 against Australia. After retirement, she was a coach at all levels and also an umpire.

During her career as an off-spinner and right-handed batter, Latty-Scott played 10 Test matches and six One-Day Internationals. She was the first West Indian woman to take five wickets in a Test innings – 5 for 48 off 41 overs on debut against the Australians in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Ann Browne-John, CWI's Lead Selector for women's cricket and a former international player noted: "It is with great sadness we heard of the passing of Vivalyn Latty-Scott. She was always a fierce competitor and took her cricket very seriously. She taught us how to put our all into the game and paved the way for what we see today. She was an excellent cricketer. She was truly one of the stalwarts of women's cricket in the Caribbean."

Dorothy Hobson, who played alongside Latty-Scott for Jamaica and West Indies described her as a “dedicated and committed cricketer and lifelong fan of the game”. Louise Browne, the first West Indies women’s Test captain hailed Latty-Scott as a “passionate player with amazing knowledge of the game”.

“When I started as captain, ‘Latty’ was one of the senior members of that first West Indies women’s team and she excelled with bat and ball. Whenever I put the ball in her hand I had the confidence she would produce good figures and she never disappointed. She was passionate about the game and was always aware of the statistics and what the team required. When the history of women’s cricket is updated, Vivalyn must be mentioned among the outstanding players,” Browne said.

Hobson said: “She was a great captain for Jamaica and a great player for the West Indies. She was a complete player with bat and ball, equally adept at both skills. Cricket was ‘her game’, she was a dedicated and committed cricketer and she always had a dream of doing great things for the West Indies. Her legacy is that she contributed to the game at all levels — boys, girls, men, and women — she made a great impact at all levels.”

Stafanie Taylor, the current women’s captain and most successful women’s player in West Indies history also paid tribute to Latty-Scott.

“I have known this amazing lady from when I went on my first tour with the Jamaica team and she was very helpful to me. She set a trial in women’s cricket and she played a very important role in my development and inspired many young cricketers in Jamaica to play the game and to excel. We all admired and respected her.”

West Indies coach, Phil Simmons, believes the team has travelled with a balanced bowling line-up for the Bangladesh tour, despite recent discussions surrounding too many spinners being selected for the squad.

The issue was brought to the fore after up and coming fast bowler Chemar Holder was left out of the Test team for the tour.  Holder, who made his debut in New Zealand, showed plenty of promise in tough conditions.  Chief of selectors Roger Harper went on to explain that the player had been left out to accommodate more spinners, in order to take advantage of Bangladesh’s slow pitches.

The Test squad selected included four spinners but also has the usual pace bowling trio of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, and Alzarri Joseph and Simmons insists the balance of the first team is yet to be settled.

“I think we are here with a balanced squad, we have three spinners, we have three fast bowlers and a seeming all-rounder, it’s a case where we have balance all round,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom conference on Tuesday.

“So, it’s a case where we have balance all around.  The decision has to be made whether we go with three fast bowlers, two spinners, two fast bowlers, three spinners, a decision hasn’t been made yet.  We just have a balanced lineup and that’s what we came here with.  We will make decisions closer to the game.”

 

 

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