Legendary Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram has recently recalled an incident in which iconic West Indies batsman Viv Richards scared him senseless, during a series that ended with a fiery Test match, in Barbados, in 1988.

Pakistan had strolled to a 9 wickets win over the West Indies in the first Test before the teams drew the second encounter.  The famed West Indies were left battling to stave off defeat when Akram remembers the clash with Richards in the final Test.

“He would have hit me a lot in 1988. He was a muscular guy and I was very skinny. It was the last over of the day and I was bowling at a good pace. I had realized by then that I had become fast. Viv Richards realized I was a difficult bowler and saw I had a quick-arm action. I bowled a bouncer at him, and his cap fell off.  Getting Viv Richards cap to fall was a big deal,” Akram revealed in a recent talk with cricket commentator Aakash Chopra.

  “There was no match referee back then and I went up to him and sledged him in my broken English. He spat after staring at me and said don’t do this man. I understood nothing but just the man’s word. I said ok, no worries and went to my captain Imran Khan and told him Richards was warning not to abuse him or else he will beat me up. Imran Khan said don’t worry about that and just bowl him, bouncers. I bowled him a bouncer again and abused him after he ducked. On the last ball of the day, I bowled an in-swinger and he was bowled. I went up to him and gave him a good send-off, shouted go back and all,” he added.

According to Akram, who had Richards caught for 67 in the first innings, before dismissing him for 39 in the second, the issue was far from concluded.

“I went back to the dressing room with Imran Khan. In Barbados, the dressing of two teams is in front of each other. I was tired and taking off my shoes when a guy told me to come out of the dressing room. I asked, ‘who is calling me’ and he said you better come out man. When I went out, I saw Viv Richards standing without his shirt,” Akram recounted.

“He was sweating and had his bat in his hand, he also had his pads on. I got scared and ran back to Imran Khan. I told him that Viv Richards was waiting for me with a bat in his hand. Imran Khan asked ‘what should I do. It’s your fight, go and handle it’. I said skipper what are you saying, you have developed this strong body and are telling a skinny guy like me to face him. I went out and told him sorry. I told him that nothing of this sort will happen again and he said you better not, I will kill you.”

 

Former president of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Dave Cameron has advised the world’s smaller cricket boards to use the circumstances of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to call for more equity in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) revenue-sharing agreement.

Sporting entities across the globe continue to battle the economic fallout from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the spread of the virus bringing a halt to almost all international sport.  In cricket, specifically, the massive disparity between the previous earnings of the ‘big three,’ England, India and Australia and the rest of the smaller nations leaves them even more vulnerable to financial devastation.

The issue of economic disparity was one that was broached by the Cameron-led CWI administration two years ago in a paper to the ICC termed the ‘Economics of Cricket’.  The revenue-sharing model had been adjusted in 2017, but Cameron believed it still fell well short of a truly equitable system.  The former president believes the coronavirus emergency that has greatly exacerbated the situation, shows the dangers of the current model.

"With the current COVID-19 pandemic wreaking financial havoc, the less wealthy cricket boards like West Indies, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Zimbabwe will suffer more if they don't stand up,” Cameron said in an interview with the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.

"The gap between wealthier and less wealthy cricket nations is widening and will contribute to less wealthy nations being less competitive and the devaluing the international cricket product. The gap immediately expedites the flight of talent away from bilateral international cricket as the less wealthy cricket nations are disadvantaged in funding their professional domestic and national retainer contracts.

"Given the current situation with the COVID-19, the gap will widen further as the less wealthy cricket nations won't be able to sustain investment in cricket and player development, infrastructure and administration," said Cameron.

 

 

 

 

Windies spinner Hayden Walsh insists he would have very little issue playing in front of an empty stadium for the upcoming edition of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) as it would be like playing regional cricket.

The CPL is slated to get under way in August of this year but there is a lot of uncertainty, not just regarding its staging, but also the format it will take as well.  One of the ideas being floated around suggests a ‘social distancing’ version of the tournament, which would be held at Barbados' Kensington Oval.

While some players have claimed an empty stadium could be awkward, Walsh, who is a part of the defending champion Barbados Tridents, has insisted it would be business as usual.  Unlike the massive crowds associated with the CPL, the regional competitions do struggle at times to attract any significant crowd following.

“We still have quite some time to try and get ready while we are waiting for the tournament to come around. We see some progress with the region recovering from the virus, and probably at the start, it may affect the tournament where the social distancing is concerned, and it might not, but I am used to playing in front of an empty stadium in regional cricket where pretty much no one comes sometimes, so I guess it would be business as usual,” Walsh told the Antigua Observer.

Walsh, the tournament’s top wicket-taker last season, was one of nine Barbados Tridents retained.  The list also includes captain Jason Holder, Johnson Charles, Shai Hope and Raymon Reifer, Ashley Nurse and Johnathan Carter.

 

West Indies cricket legend Deryck Murray believes the current generation of cricketers has, to some extent, lost the meaning of what it means to represent the regional team.  

The 76-year-old former wicketkeeper played 88 matches in 10 years for what is generally referred to as the ‘all-conquering’ West Indies squad.  The team proved themselves to be the best in the world after capturing back-to-back ICC World Cup titles with wins over Australia and England at the 1975 and 1979 editions. 

For the current crop, however, those glory days have long faded.  The team has captured two world titles of its own in the freshly minted T20 format, but when it comes to the traditional ODI and Test formats, they have for the most part lost far more often than they have won.

Murray believes a part of the team’s recent failures is down to losing the significance of what it means to be on the pitch for the West Indies and the passion required to succeed.

“I’d love to give them an understanding of what it really means to represent the West Indies.  I think that is something that would be difficult to assimilate without the kind of mentorship that I had and I’m sure a number of youngsters coming into the team in my era had,” Murray told Barbados radio show, Mason and Guest, recently.

“I think now people talk about cricket as a job, you have to be professional. You have to do this you have to do that.  You have to hit a 100 balls in practice.  That’s not what international cricket is about.  International cricket is about the desire to play a Test match, to win a Test match, to win a Test series,” he added.

“It has nothing to do with how much you get paid or how much the coach gets paid or whatever.  It’s about wanting to do something, and you want to do it and go out and train.  Because you train for 35 minutes a day you recognize you really could train 40 minutes and it won’t hurt me.  When you do 40 minutes you think I can do an hour and you keep going.”

“…You need to get into the passion for what it is that you are doing and how you are doing it.  You need to believe that there is a meritocracy and feel that if you are the best the coaches and selectors will pick you…it’s as much as about the psychological game as much as the actual technique of batting and bowling.”

England Test captain Joe Root is in support of finding a way to make sure his side can welcome a visit from the West Indies as early as July.

For that to happen, the players would have to go through rigid isolation and testing protocols, as well as austere social distancing measures.

Of course, the proposal will include officials as well as media and the England skipper thinks it can work.

“I’m optimistic about it. It would be a real shame if it doesn’t happen. The public are desperate for some live sport and the guys are missing it,” said Root.
“The players would be sectioned off in one part of the hotel and would be in isolation together. There would be no interaction with the media, the TV crews or even the opposition when off the pitch.

“We would have separate lunchrooms. It would have a different feel to it but it’s probably manageable. Hopefully that is the case.”

According to the proposals, the three Tests would be played at ‘bio-secure’ venues behind closed doors.

Those venues, the proposal points out, are those that have hotels on location, like Manchester, Southampton and Headingly.

Root, while optimistic, is cognizant of the fact that Cricket West Indies (CWI) would have to take the risk.

In response, West Indies Test captain Jason Holder, has said his side would have to be certain of their safety before saying yes to such a proposal.

“This thing has been really, really serious as we all know and has claimed quite a few lives throughout the world and that’s the last thing any of us would really want,” said Holder.

“I think we’ve got to play the safety card first before we can even think about resuming our normal lives.”

In the meantime, CWI Chief Executive, Johnny Grave, has said the England Cricket Board’s proposals were being considered but that first all the moving parts would have to be understood.
England will be desperate to get back the Wisden Trophy they lost to the West Indies last year for the first time in a decade.

West Indies batting star Chris Gayle remains very much a wanted man in Nepal as the country mulls the possibility of a new date for the Everest Premier League (EPL).

The 40-year-old left-handed ball beater was expected to be the tournament’s biggest star, but things were put on hold due to the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.  The organisers of the competition are yet to determine the best date for a possible restart but insist the securing the services of Gayle and other overseas players remain very much on the cards.

 “Of course the availability dates for Chris Gayle and other foreign players shall be considered, and shall be put on priority,” said Aamir Akhtar, the league’s managing director.

“We would love to have him in EPL if everything works out. He has a huge fan following in Nepal.”

In January Gayle announced he had signed for Pokhara Rhinos for the fourth season of the Twenty20 competition in Kathmandu.  The West Indian was heading an impressive list of overseas players bound for the competition, with the likes of Mohammed Shahzad, Paul Stirling , Kevin O’Brien, Upul Tharanga and Corey Anderson all due to feature.

The tournament was postponed shortly before its scheduled March 14 start date because of the situation surrounding Covid-19.

 

Legendary West Indies fast bowler turned commentator Michael Holding has heaped criticism on the newly introduced International Cricket Council (ICC) World Test Championships (WTC) series.

The competition, which was introduced in August of last year, is meant to be the premier championship for Test cricket.

The tournament features nine of the twelve Test-playing nations, each of whom plays a Test series against six of the other eight teams. Each series consists of between two and five matches, so although all teams will play six series (three at home and three away), they will not play the same number of Tests. Each team will be able to score a maximum of 120 points from each series and the two teams with the most points at the end of the league stage will contest the final.

Holding has however taken exception with both the format of the competition and its established points system.

"It doesn't work," Holding was quoted as saying by Wisden. "First of all, the points system is ridiculous. You can't play five Test matches and get the same amount of points if you play two Test matches,” he added.

"And secondly, at some point, you're going to have teams who know they cannot get to the final and so those Test matches aren't going to be all that entertaining. People know it's just another game."

West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell admits that like many others he is more than eager to see the back of the coronavirus pandemic, in order to get back to doing what he loves to do best, and that is hitting sixes.

The power slugger, however, also has another important reason to want to see the virus contained and that is to get his family back together.  Russell’s wife and newborn daughter were both in Miami, in the United States, when travel restrictions were enforced, while the Jamaican was in his homeland.

“She [his daughter] and Jassym, they are both in Miami. I stay connected to them and talk to them. I wish I could have them here, but with all these travel restrictions, we cannot do anything,” Russell said in an interview with the website of his IPL team, KKR’s official ‘Knights Unplugged.

 “It’s not really a situation anyone would want to be in. This is affecting the world, it’s affecting me, preventing me from hitting sixes. Hope this thing calms down in a month or two and we can go back to normal life again.”

The player hopes to once again feel the excitement of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which has been postponed indefinitely amid the outbreak.  For Russell, nothing compares to the excitement of the IPL  and facing his home crowd at Eden Gardens.

“Let me confess something, IPL is where I get the most goosebumps. I get that in CPL (Caribbean Premier League) as well but when it comes to playing in IPL, especially Eden Gardens, there is no comparison,” Russell said referring to his team’s home ground in Kolkata.

“The welcome I get, that’s love. It puts pressure on me but it’s good pressure,” he added.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose has encouraged spinner Rahkeem Cornwall to silence critics by achieving success with his own unique style.

The 27-year-old was recently the target of criticism from legendary spin bowler Lance Gibbs, who doubted whether the spinner could be truly successful with such a short run-up.  Gibbs was, in fact, critical of the current crop of regional spinners in general who he insisted did not turn the ball enough.

While not going into the specifics of Gibbs’ objection to Cornwall’s style, Ambrose insisted it was part and parcel of the sport for professional athletes.  Ambrose went on to encourage the spinner to keep focused and get the job done in his way.  Since bursting on the scene a few year ago, Cornwall has had some measure of success at the regional level but has also faced criticism for his weight.

“Everyone has their own opinion about things and if Lance Gibbs gave his opinion about Jimbo then that is just his opinion but that should not deter Jimbo from progressing so I wouldn’t even want to touch that subject because that is his opinion,” Ambrose told the Antigua Observer.

“As an athlete, a sportsman or sportswoman, you are going to get criticised no matter what, so that is not anything new. But I would say to Jimbo, continue to work hard, you know your ability, you know what you can do so just ignore all of the negative comments or, as a matter of a fact, take those negative comments and turn them into positives and prove these people wrong. Let them see you can get the job done in your own way and your own style,” he added.

It seems with Windies veterans Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels unable to speak as effectively with runs from their bats these days, most of the running has come from their mouths via vicious attacks on former teammates. Surely, gentlemen, you can do much better.

Based on all that you have accomplished, is any issue that significant to warrant injury to what is likely to be your most significant role at this point, that of a mentor to a new generation of hopeful future West Indies stars?

In many sports, the position of the ageing superstar is worthy of reverence. A sporting icon who has won the titles and broken the records then stands up as a guide and inspiration for the new generation. Often, once a maverick himself, the rash impetuousness of youth blossoms into a much broader understanding of the greater importance of the sport and their place in it.  In setting this example, the late great Kobe Bryant comes to mind. Bryant was himself mentored by another great, for many, the game’s greatest ever, Michael Jordan.

Closer home, I recently listened to an interview with another great, legendary West Indies spinner Lance Gibbs, who spoke about the importance, having positive examples played in his development as a cricketer. I’ll go one better, both Gayle and Samuels have spoken of the importance of being examples. It is interesting that in the same video where Samuels speaks of being a mentor to younger cricketers, Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite, a current and former West Indies captain, he launched his unabashed broadside.

Surely, winning multiple world titles and successes on the pitch most will only ever dream of, combined with significant economic remuneration, should be enough to prevent one from joining needles squabbles regarding team selection at the twilight of one’s career. If not, then what will?

What type of positive could up and coming players possibly take from the savage disparagement of a current West Indies captain, or a former teammate? In addition, the public nature of these disagreements not only shows a general lack of regard for the person criticised but seems to suggest a lack of regard for the sport itself. 

These raw unfiltered responses would draw swift rebuke were they to be uttered by a 20-year-old perhaps yet to imbibe the wisdom of thinking before he speaks. 

It’s truly shocking that that sort of behaviour comes from accomplished veterans. With all their talent and ability, it seems that an important trait for achieving true maturity seems to be missing from some of our senior regional players.  What on earth could be the matter?

At the very least you would hope that players who have spent most of their lives developing and contributing to a sport would realize its value and be warier of bringing it into disrepute. 

The game has, of course, been around long before the current generation and we should all hope will be around for many generations after. Why not accord it the respect it deserves as you fade gracefully to memory.

This type of all-encompassing perspective seems to, sadly, not exist for two of the region’s most idolized players.

Former legendary West Indies wicketkeeper Jeffrey Dujon believes recent social media flare-ups from veteran Windies players Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle are sad but not unusual for players facing the end of their careers with some amount of bitterness.

The 63-year-old former player turned commentator, pointed out that while he did not have insight into the specifics of the situations the phenomena itself is nothing new.  He believes it has, however, been magnified with the advent of the social media age and players being able to share their opinions with the click of a button.

Gayle and Samuels recently garnered the attention of the ‘social media verse’ with blistering tirades against former teammates.  Samuels vented his frustration with current West Indies Test captain Jason Holder, while Gayle reserved his anger for Ramnaresh Sarwan his former teammate and assistant coach at the Jamaica Tallawahs.  The Caribbean Premier League (CPL) team did not resign Gayle in the offseason.

“This is not the first time something like this has happened, this goes way back.  In terms of even myself the way that my career ended.  In those days we didn’t have the media like what they have now to voice their opinions,” Dujon told the Mason and Guest radio program recently.

“It’s always sad when someone, people who have been outstanding in one way or the other end their careers on a sour note like that, but that’s the world today, people have the platforms to speak their minds and are more inclined to do so,” he added.

“It’s not nice when people are at the end of their careers and there is that much bitterness, but we have to move on.”

 

Cricket? That’s what I say when there’s dead silence but did you know it’s also a sport?

I asked individuals to share what comes to mind when they hear the word cricket. Here’s what they said.

#Windies

Respondent 1 says it’s short for West Indies. He believes they were every Jamaican’s favourite team. I can see that since most responses mentioned them. Plus, people prefer winning teams. So, for them to have such a strong fan base it can only mean one thing. The Windies are great!

He also recommended I listen to a song.

I cue ‘Rally round the West Indies’ by David Rudder when I’m through.

While I listened to it, it was obvious that the Windies were facing some adversities. Perhaps even a lot. So much that a song was made for encouragement.

#WorstIndies

So wait, apparently, they aren't good? According to respondent 2, they were successful at one point but haven't been the same since.

“Those glory days are long gone. They’re getting beaten left, right and centre.”

Respondent 2 confessed he was a faithful fan of cricket once and even though he anticipates cursing from other faithful fans, he does not care “ they are the worst indies!!”

#20/20

For respondent 3, 20/20 comes to mind. She describes 20/20 as a vibrant and exciting game in cricket. Apparently, it's a new type of cricket where fans get the final results quicker than having to wait 5 days. According to her, 20/20 was made for people with short attention spans like millennials. She suggested I give it a try.

Although her invitation was a nice gesture, deep down I couldn't help but think she was trying to find someone to blame for what seems to be cricket’s dying relevancy. If not, she was definitely trying to tell me ( in a nice way) that cricket got boring.

#White

I could tell respondent 4 was as inexperienced as I was. “They wear all white,” he answered brilliantly. He continued to impressively describe the shape of their bats, “ they use rectangular bats too.” I found his responses comforting. I could identify with them because it perfectly represented how much I know about cricket. He may even know more than I do because personally I wouldn’t have called the bat a rectangle.

#Baseball

Respondent 5 compared it to baseball.

“All I know is you have a batsman and you have the ‘throwerman’— the throwerman throws the ball and the batsman hits the ball with the baton.”

“When he hits it (the ball), before it falls on the ground, somebody on the field needs to run fast to try and catch it and when he catches it somebody will run… or is that baseball?”

#Lara

When I asked respondent 6,  who is Lara and if he’s any good. He replied with,

“Not good...he’s great!!!”

He went on to describe him as one of the greatest to play the game. Here’s why. When Lara was playing cricket, it was hard for anybody to beat the West Indies, especially India. We (West Indies) would play them and win most games. Now, he claims that the West Indies are losing to India a lot.

#Grandpa

Respondent 7 remembers her grandpa watching cricket on a black and white television. “Some days he was glued to the radio,” she added. She explained that he loved it and it brought him great joy to cheer for the West Indies. She can’t imagine what her grandpa would say today. It makes her sad that they fell off. According to her, the other teams caught up to the West Indies. “Some say it's a cycle. After we began declining, Australia took over. They ruled the roost for some time but have been uprooted now... it's the nature of the game,” she lamented.

 

#Goodtimes

Despite everything, I guess there are good memories attached to cricket. Respondent 8 recalls playing cricket as a boy:

“Listen, one day I was batting and the ball hit me under my chin— I saw blinky! Me just throw down the bat…that ball is tough!!!”

I asked if it was tougher than a tennis ball.

Obviously embarrassed, he sighed and muttered,

“If only cricket was as influential as it was...”

Well, that was my introduction to cricket. The views from others gave me an opportunity to scope out the sport. It helped me appreciate that I’m not the only one who doesn't understand it. It was also a chance to experience the disappointment it brought (and still brings) many people.

 

Please share your thoughts about cricket on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use the hashtag IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Cricket West Indies (CWI) CEO Johnny Grave has continued to insist the body will put the players' health first but remains flexible regarding the scheduling of the West Indies versus England series.

The series was originally expected to begin in London on June 4, followed by matches at Edgbaston and Lord's starting on 12 and 25 June respectively.  With the world, however, yet to assert any significant measure of control over the spread of the novel coronavirus, sporting activity remains suspended.  Even if the series between the teams is played later in the year rules banning mass gatherings would likely still be in force, meaning matches would have to take place behind closed doors.  Grave insists the CWI would remain guided by the best medical advice available and discussions surrounding the issue are already under way.

"Clearly playing in June is now not possible and we will continue our discussions with the ECB and other international boards on trying to find new dates," said Grave in a statement from the governing body.

"Our respective medical teams are beginning to discuss how this (England) series could be played whilst guaranteeing the health and safety of our players and support team,” he added.

"We will be as flexible as we can without compromising the safety of our team.”

West Indies great Lance Gibbs has jokingly suggested he would need a belt in order to help the talented but often mercurial young batsman Shimron Hetmyer.

The legendary spinner, who turned 85-year-old last year, had a good laugh when asked to assess what measures could be taken to get the 23-year-old to consistently produce the type of performances his immense ability often seems to suggest he is capable of.

“I want a belt.  I want a belt in my hand when I see him,” Lance quipped during an interview on the Mason and Guest radio show.

The former U-19 World Cup-winning captain has been both a source of both delight and frustration for West Indies fans in recent years.  While he has often been revered for his effortless and beautiful stroke play, the player has also been guilty of a certain amount of recklessness, which often gifts his wicket to opponents.  Hetmyer was dropped for a few games in February after failing a fitness test.

“You don’t just throw away your hand like that,” Gibbs added.

The spin bowling legend, however, believes that the attitude of some of the modern players is influenced by how much they participate in the shorter formats of the game, which have become the most lucrative.

“We play limited-overs cricket at a fair pace, you have 20 overs you have 50 overs. The 20 overs is a slug, our young players are not putting their heads down to bat for a period of time.  We probably need more 50 overs.  A youngster like Hetmyer, for example, goes out and always wants to hit the ball for sixes, you don’t bat that way.”

As means of a solution, Gibbs suggested the creation of a formal medium where past generations could be given the chance to meet and mentor the current crop. 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) CEO Johnny Grave insists large scale pay reductions are not yet on the table for the organisation but could become a reality as it struggles to make ends meet, with the fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic.

CWI and other cricket boards around the world have struggled to come to grips with both a drop-off in revenue and the uncertainty of surrounding fixtures that have had to be moved around for safety reasons.  With a large portion of the organisation’s revenue coming from broadcast rights, a nightmare scenario like no cricket for the rest of the year could leave the organization in dire straights and with tough decisions to make.

“Cleary that (no cricket) would have to see a significant reduction of all of our costs and salaries for playing staff and officials is clearly a part of that,” Grave said in a recent interview on the Mason and Guest radio show.

The CEO insists that while CWI are not yet forced to face that worse case scenario, the body has put together a committee to assess the organization’s options.

 “We’re in unprecedented times and everyone is in difficult situations and everyone is doing their best to protect what cash they have and keep their staff and their people paid,” he added.

“It’s very difficult to say with any degree of certainty what action we may take, but clearly the priority for us at the moment is, first and foremost, the health and safety of all our players and staff and clearly their wider communities and the countries of the Caribbean. We need to act very responsibly and in line with the government and medical advice.

“Secondly, our major priority is to try and keep all our people paid at full pay for as long as we can, but clearly there will come a point in time where that becomes not a possibility.”

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