Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

Roger Harper, Cricket West Indies’ Chief Selector has expressed concern over the productivity of opening partnerships for the West Indies but laments the fact that no one is really knocking at the door to be selected.

Captain Kraigg Brathwaite has had a welcome return to form with two Test half-centuries and a century in his last four Test matches but fellow opener John Campbell has not been inspiring much confidence with his performances.

The Jamaican has scores of 3, 23, 36, 18, 42, 11, 5, and 10 in his last four Tests. His last half-century, 68, was made in the second Test against New Zealand in December last year.

As a result, solid opening partnerships for the Caribbean side have been rare and this is a worry for Harper.

 “I think it has been a concern for a while. It was pleasing to see the captain get some big scores, but we need the partnership, on the whole, to be solid,” Harper said this past week on Mason and Guest.

But while Campbell has been struggling for form, Harper acknowledges that the batsman has been working hard to correct his flaws, like the ones that saw him get out in similar fashion in all four innings in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka.

 “We were delighted to see Campbell applying himself and being more patient, but we need some more positive returns,” he said.

There are several players who could come in to bolster the batting but recent history does not offer much hope for success. Players like Shai Hope and Shayne Moseley are potential replacements; Hope especially who has shown a welcome return to form in the ODIs against Sri Lanka, but Test cricket is a different prospect for a player who has struggled in that format of the game.

Moseley, who has shown promise, is yet to demonstrate that he is ready after several failures.

“It is something we are looking at. We are looking at our best options. At the moment, from a red ball perspective, we don’t have enough openers who are knocking down the door in terms of performances,” he concluded.

 

After being at loggerheads over wages for the past few weeks, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the Reggae Boyz have reached a contractual agreement that now allows the focus to return to the coming CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Haiti will take on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guatemala faces Guyana while Trinidad and Tobago will go up against Monserrat when Round One of the preliminaries of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off on July 2 and 3 at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Florida.

Cuba will tackle French Guiana, Guadeloupe will battle The Bahamas and Bermuda go up against Barbados in what will be the first time ever that the competition will have preliminaries that will see three teams qualify for the 16-team Group Stage.

“We look forward with great anticipation to this summer’s Gold Cup, which will undoubtedly be enhanced by this new Preliminary Round,” said Concacaf President and FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani.

“The past year has been very challenging in our region and our thoughts are with all the communities that have suffered. We hope the opportunity to watch the best men’s national teams in Concacaf compete in our flagship tournament can provide fans with some hope and enjoyment

All 12 of the competing nations in the Prelims will get a full Gold Cup experience at the excellent Inter Miami facilities and we look forward to a great set of games.”

“We look forward to hosting the Gold Cup Prelims tournament in our stadium,” said Inter Miami CF Managing Owner Jorge Mas. “Our facilities in Fort Lauderdale were built with the intent of giving our fans opportunities to enjoy the world’s game knowing that our vibrant culture and sports-centric region would be attractive for global teams and competitions. This is just the beginning of the great things that lie ahead.”

Round Two will begin on July 6 when the winner of the Haiti/St Vincent clash will take on the winner of the Bermuda/Barbados matchup. The winner of the Guatemala/Guyana encounter will play the winner of the Guadeloupe/Bahamas match. And finally, the winner of the Cuba/French Guiana match will tackle the winner of the Trinidad and Tobago/Montserrat clash.

The winning nation in each of the three Round Two matchups will advance to the Group Stage of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, where they were drawn into Group A, B and C as follows:

Group A: Mexico, El Salvador, Curacao, and Winner Prelims 9

Group B: USA, Canada, Martinique, and Winner Prelims 7

Group C: Costa Rica, Jamaica, Suriname, and Winner Prelims 8

Group D: Honduras, Panama, Grenada, and Qatar.

The 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage will kick off on July 10 and run through August 1, 2021, and will feature 16 national teams, of which Canada, Costa Rica, Curaçao, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, eight-time and defending champion Mexico, Panama, Suriname, six-time champion the United States, are already qualified to the group stage of the tournament. Additionally, Qatar has been invited to the tournament as the current champion and representative of the Asian Football Confederation.

The remaining three countries will qualify through the Gold Cup Prelims, in which 12 Member Associations will compete for the final three spots, to be played July 2-6- at Inter Miami CF Stadium in South Florida.

 

 

The Jamaican government will provide more than JMD$45 million in direct financial support to athletes preparing for this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

The global pandemic has been frustrating for many athletes, who have been unable to compete and consequently earn their keep. However, for some it is an opportunity to hone their craft, to become even better than they were before.

Such is the case of World Championship silver medalist Shanieka Ricketts, who uncorked a world-leading 14.63m triple jump at the National Stadium in Kingston on March 20.

The mark was 13cm shy of her best ever opener of 14.76m in 2019, and 30cm off her personal best, but it was an early indication of how much she had worked to improve in the time she was unable to compete in 2020 because of the many cancellations of track and field meets as the Covid-19 virus raced across the world.

Ricketts, who turned 29 in February, had one of her best jumps at the World Championships in Doha where she produced a 14.92m effort to secure a silver medal behind Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas.

Now finally competing again, she expects to go even farther this year, maybe even getting closer to the Venezuelan, who won gold with her best jump of 15.37m.

Rickett’s confidence comes from the work that she and her coach and husband Kerrylee Ricketts have been putting in during their ‘down time’, and based on past experience, the likelihood that it will bear fruit.

“My step phase has improved since last year. The triple jump is very technical, so we are aiming to improve as many aspects of the jump as possible in order to surpass my personal best,” she said.

“Training is very different from competition, so it takes a while to get the hang of competing and getting back into top shape. We do our best to assimilate a competition-type environment in training so that it does not feel foreign once we begin to compete.

“It is definitely challenging to navigate from training to competition but proper preparation builds confidence and makes the transition more comfortable. The extra time gave us a chance to work on improving my strength and sprinting mechanics which are essential in doing well.”

The uncertainty of the season has impacted her ability to compete more frequently and bring those elements perfected in training to competition. However, once she gets the chance, jumping beyond 15m could be a lot closer to reality.

“I am pleased with where I am at this stage of the season. I am hoping to jump far this year, and I know that once I got the technical aspects of the jump correct, the distances will come,” she said.

“I am not in peak shape right now so I know that I will be able to produce bigger jumps as the season progresses.”

Following the recently concluded 0-0 Test series between the West Indies and Sri Lanka, the first nearly since the nil-all stalemate between Bangladesh and South Africa in 2015, West Indies head coach Phil Simmons, believes Caribbean curators need to prepare better pitches, ones that can yield results.

The two sides battled to the two-Test stalemate in which some batsmen filled their boots but more often than not the bowlers struggled to get 20 wickets. In the first of the Test matches played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Sri Lanka failed to get 20 wickets in the match as the West Indies had scores of 271 and 236-4.

The local bowlers had early success bowling Sri Lanka out for 169 only to toil as the visitors scored a mammoth 476 in the second innings. In the second Test, West Indies made 354 and 280-4 while Sri Lanka had scores of 258 and 193 for 2.

In both matches, batting became much easier for both teams while the bowlers struggled.

The trend was not lost on the West Indies head coach.

“I think we from a country standpoint need to get better wickets where we can have Test matches that will create a result,” he said.

“Even if we lost a Test match after it’s gone to the fifth day, you will still think that we’ve done well to get to the fifth day and were in with a chance of winning the Test match, so I think that’s an important part of it.”

Notwithstanding the struggles of his bowling attack, Simmons said he was comfortable with what he has now.

“We had the bowlers there who we wanted to be in the Test team,” he said.

“Everybody else is still work in progress and still looking to put themselves in contention so right now these five bowlers are our main bowlers.”

 

The Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association (JATAFCA) believes the absence of track and field competitions because of the Covid-19 pandemic is proving to be destructive.

In light of this claim, they have called upon the relevant authorities to immediately authorize the resumption of track and field that will allow the country to maintain its standing in global athletics.

The last track meet was held on March 20, 2021, and with the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships and the World Relays in Poland looming, Jamaica’s athletes will be at a significant disadvantage.

“The current delay is destructive. The psychological and mental damage to our athletes and coaches is almost irreparable. As a nation, we cannot afford a cancellation of ISSA Champs 2021, which the delay will cause. Not only is the competition a major pillar for our world-renowned track and field prowess, it provides the platform for student-athletes to earn athletics scholarships to overseas colleges and universities.”

JATAFCA said that the available data indicates that Jamaica’s student-athletes earn scholarships valued at over J$2 billion. This is a stark contrast to the J$85.791 million allocated in the 2019-20 Estimates of Expenditures for the Ministry of Sports for Athlete’s insurance. No other line item was identified as applicable.

“We, therefore, call upon the authorities to recognize the importance of track and field to the overall national development, the psyche and contribution to the young people of our nation. We implore them to partner with the JAAA, ISSA and their sponsors, to stage these competitions safely and successfully,” they said.

The inactivity, JATAFCA said, is due to the absence of approval by the authorities for the additional competitions organized and managed by the governing body the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA).

“We are made to understand that the authorities are concerned about the spike in COVID-19 cases and the stress on the public health system,” the JATAFCA said in a statement Thursday.

“Let it be clear that we too are equally concerned. We are, however, of the opinion that concern for public health is not diametrically opposed to the staging of COVID-19 safe track and field competitions. It is all about striking a balance, minimize the fallouts, and pursue the things we are best at.”

The coaches’ association said that over a three-week period from February 27 to March 20th, the JAAA staged 20 competitions that saw 39 junior athletes - 27 boys and 12 girls - making the very rigorous qualifying standards for the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi Kenya.

In addition, there was at least one world-leading performance from a senior athlete.

“With some 1500 juniors and close to 300 senior athletes competing in the Qualification Trial Series (QTS), there was no reported positive COVID-19 case(s) among athletes, officials or athlete support personnel,” the coaches said.

“The JAAA executed well and established a blueprint that several countries across the NACAC region, including USA and Canada, have now adopted.

 “We also make the call for authorities to provide clear and immediate responses, within 24 hours, to the applications for permits now in their possession. Further delay would be tantamount to assisting our global competitors in making light of our efforts when we meet on the track or in the field later this year.

“As an association, we will continue to play our part in encouraging our members to practice all the COVID-19 protocols for mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene. They know we hold them to a high standard of compliance, a similar standard that has resulted in us being ranked third in World Athletics.”

Five Jamaican referees have been selected to officiate at the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup starting July 10 in the United States.

The Jamaica Football Federation is said to be close to a resolution in the wage impasse with the Reggae Boyz.

Jamaica’s Kemba Nelson has designs on being in Tokyo for the Olympic Games this summer and based on what she has done so far at the University of Oregon she believes she has a good shot at it.

Bahamian sprint queen Shaunae Miller-Uibo threw down the gauntlet to would-be challengers over the 200m on Sunday when she sped to a world-leading 22.03 run with a trailing wind of 1.5m/s at the Pure Athletics Spring Invitational in Clermont Florida.

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons believes a change of approach by his team’s batsmen is largely responsible for five of them averaging over 50 for the just-concluded series against Sri Lanka. Kraigg Brathwaite, Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers, Jason Holder and Rahkeem Cornwall hit that significant milestone during the series that ended in a stalemate between the two cricketing nations.

It was the first time since 2012, that West Indies batsmen have been able to achieve that feat and only the second time since 1995.

Brathwaite, who started off the series with scores of three and 23 in the first Test, finished strong with his ninth Test century, 126, and a second innings score of 85 that spiralled his average in the series to an excellent 59.25.

Kyle Mayers, perhaps the most consistent of the West Indies batsmen had scores of 49, 55, 45 and 52 for an overall average of 50.25.

Incidentally, these were the two lowest averages of the five batsmen. Nkrumah Bonner, who scored his first Test century in the series, 113 not out, averaged 72 while Jason Holder averaged 69 after scoring 71 not out, 30, 19 and 18 not out.

Rahkeem Cornwall had only two turns at-bat and he made them count. His 61 and 73 gave him an average of 67, to round out an impressive all-round performance from the West Indies despite the fact that they were unable to force a win in any of the two Tests.

Simmons, though, was pleased with what he observed.

“Everybody is looking to occupy the crease. People are working to bat for long periods and our depth goes deeper because Alzarri Joseph and Rahkeem Cornwall have shown within the last three series that they can bat and they can provide that 50-100-run partnerships that later down can take us to 350 to 400s,” said the West Indies head coach.

He was particularly pleased with Cornwall’s performance with the bat. Already, a crucial member of the bowling attack, Cornwall enhanced his reputation as a genuine allrounder.

“It was great to see Rahkeem’s batting coming to the fore, and in all, the batting has shown up in the last four Test matches and this is a great thing because, before that, the bowling was carrying us,” Simmons said.

The last time the West Indies had five batsmen averaging over 50 in a Test series was back in 2012, when Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kieran Powell and Denesh Ramdin all surpassed the milestone. Chanderpaul averaged over 300 for the series.

Before that, six West Indies batsmen - Chanderpaul, Junior Murray, Winston Benjamin, Jimmy Adams, Brian Lara and Sherwin Campbell - all averaged over 50 runs an innings against New Zealand in 1995.

 

 

Two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell Brown continued her comeback on Saturday, winning the half-lap sprint at the 2021 Colonial Relays at the College of William and Mary Zalde Stadium in Virginia on Saturday.

The 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion, who has a personal best of 21.74 from 2008, clocked 23.73 into a headwind of -1.1m/s but finished well clear of Amanda Stead and Amaya Johnson, who were second and third in 24.40 and 24.71, respectively.

This was Campbell-Brown’s first outdoor meet this season. She ran a 7.34 60m dash indoors at Virginia Beach in February.

Her last time under 23 seconds, 22.60 was done in Gainesville, Florida in March 2017.

Campbell-Brown, 38, was out of competition for more than two years recovering from injury and giving birth to her daughter Avianna Amora Brown, who was born in February 2019.

The Guyana cricket fraternity is in mourning following the death of Guyana Cricket Board and Demerara Cricket Board treasurer Pretipaul Jaigobin. Jaigobin perished in a motor vehicle accident on April 1.

According to a statement from the GCB, Pretipaul, an economic and financial analyst of the European Union Task Force Unit in Guyana’s Ministry of Finance, was travelling from Mahdia to the ministry when the accident occurred.

 Jai, as he was popularly known, was well-liked and respected. His congeniality, humility and sense of humour endeared him to many,” the GCB said in its statement.

“Pretipaul had been an active and trusted cricket administrator for over 20 years with a vast knowledge of the game, especially in relation to cricket records and statistics. His contributions to the deliberations and decisions at cricket meetings especially on financial issues and effective governance were invaluable.

“Jai had a special affinity for youth cricket. His professional approach helped in the stimulation of affirmative action in cricket administration.  He was constantly looking at ways to improve the accounting and marketing procedures.” 

From 2009-2011 Jaigobin served the GCB as the assistant treasurer during the period 2009 to 2011.

In February of this year, he was elected treasurer of the DCB at the court-supervised elections of that board.  On March 29, 2021, he was elected Treasurer of the GCB at the elections convened by the Cricket Ombudsman in accordance with the Guyana Cricket Administration Act, No. 14 of 2014.  

“Pretipaul’s passing is a tremendous loss to the wider cricket fraternity.  It is with heartfelt grief that the Executives of the GCB and the DCB and the staff members extend sincere sympathy to his family, relatives and friends,” the GCB said.

 

Caribbean athletes Shadae Lawrence and Shane Brathwaite scored victories in the discus and sprint hurdles, respectively at Saturday’s USATF Sprint Summit in Prairie View, Texas, where several of their regional compatriots also had podium finishes.

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