Kwesi Mugisa

Kwesi Mugisa

Kwesi has been a sports journalist with more than 10-years’ experience in the field. First as a Sports Reporter with The Gleaner in the early 2000s before he made the almost natural transition to becoming an editor. Since then he has led the revamp of The Star’s sports offering, making it a more engaging and forward-thinking component of the most popular tabloid newspaper in the Caribbean.

St Lucia Zouks captain Darren Sammy has revealed the team will be looking to its overseas imports for a much-needed boost, following a slow start to the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) season.

The struggling Zouks lost back-to-back encounters against the Guyana Amazon Warriors and Trinbago Knight Riders to start the season.  The St Lucian-based franchise would have been hoping for fast start to the season after losing six games last season and finishing in 5th place.

In five seasons the highest place St Lucia has managed is fourth, making the playoffs on just one occasion.  Hoping to buck that trend in this current season Sammy is hoping newcomers

“We have more experience coming in with Colin de Grandhomme who is batting really well for New Zealand.  He can bring that experience.  We also have Hardus Viljoen who just had a good T20 blast in England,” Sammy said.

The former West Indies captain was, however, quick to admit that the team needed to improve its overall effort.

“At the end of the day, it takes a total team effort to win cricket games…So far it’s only been Cornwall giving us that start but we need different people in the line-up to come out and perform.”

 The Zouks will take on the Jamaica Tallawahs at Sabina Park on Thursday.

 

Barbados Tridents skipper Jason Holder believes the availability of quality leg spinners could be a critical component for the team if it is to successfully challenge for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

After a record-setting night against the Jamaica Tallawahs, the Trident brought a high-scoring St Kitts and Nevis Patriots back to earth with an 18-runs win at Basseterre.  Sent in bat first, Leniko Boucher led the way with 62 from 47 as the Tridents put 186 for 2 on the board before dismissing the Patriots for 168.

Leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, proved to be the chief tormentor of the Patriots as he claimed 3 for 22, including the prized wicket of the dangerous Laurie Evans, who was dismissed for 61.  Hayden Walsh, who claimed 2 for 33, also made life difficult for the Patriots batsmen.

“It’s really good to have two quality wicket-taking leg spinners in the middle for us.  I think that is one of the things we really missed last year,” Holder said, following the match.

“To have Sandeep coming in and bowling as he did for us was a plus and also Hayden coming back to finish off expertly,” he added.

The win was the first of the campaign for the Tridents.

   

Jamaica Tallawahs stand-in captain Ravmon Powell insisted the bowlers did not stick to the plan on the back of a deflating four-wickets loss to St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, in a record-setting CPL encounter on Tuesday.

The Tallawahs, on the back of Chris Gayle’s majestic 116 from 62 balls and 73 from 36 from Chadwick Walton, seemed poised for victory after putting 241 for 4 on the board.  The innings was the highest ever recorded in the CPL and one of the most in T20 history.

In response, however, a savage opening spell from openers Devon Thomas and Evin Lewis and solid contributions from Laurie Evans, Fabian Allen, and Shamar Brooks, saw the two-hour record total eclipsed in fairly comfortable fashion.  The Patriots got to 242 for 6 with 7 balls to spare.

The figures were as expected particularly brutal for the Tallawahs bowlers.  Oshane Thomas, the best of them, went for 53 after taking 4 wickets.  Russell who claimed the other two, was blasted for 54. 

Jerome Taylor went 0 for 36, Steven Jacobs 0 for 30, Christopher Lamont 0 for 32 and Shamar Springer 0 for 36.  All failed to make any significant inroads or even significantly slow the Patriots.  After scoring 85 for 0 in the Power Play, the Patriots were 133 for 1 at the halfway mark.

“I think the bowlers did not execute according to the game plan that we set out but credit has to be given to the Patriots, they did fantastic,” Lewis said following the match.

“We just didn’t go to our skillset early enough, we did not bowl enough yorkers, did not bowl enough slower balls, as you can see the pitch was gripping but it is just for us to learn,” he added.

 

St Kitts and Nevis Patriots captain Carlos Brathwaite insists the team never lost belief during a miraculous runs chase of historic proportions, against Jamaica Tallawahs, in the Caribbean Premier League on Tuesday.

Spearheaded by 116 from 62 balls from talisman Chris Gayle, his 22nd T20 century, the Jamaica Tallawahs posted what seemed to be an unassailable 241 for 4, which was the highest total in CPL history. 

The hosts, however, had other ideas and led by a blistering 50, in just 17 balls, from explosive opener Evin Lewis, reached to 242 for 6 with seven balls to spare and 4 wickers in hand.  Lewis' knock was the fastest half-century in CPL history.

“Actually, before we got off the field we got into a small huddle and we said this is the bullring, any total is chaseable,” Brathwaite said following the match.

Lewis and Devon Thomas got the Patriots off to a blistering start and the duo got to 85 for 0 inside the Power Play.  After he was surprised by extra bounce and caught behind by Glenn Phillips off Andre Russell, his opening partner took point.

Thomas got to 50 off 30 balls and new arrival Laurie Evans from England also made a strong contribution, his 41 coming from just 20.

“We just planned to get a good start, keep the run rate manageable and then close off the game.  Evin is in fantastic form, Fabian Allen as well, Devon Thomas, it's his second back to back 50.  We thought they got about 20 runs too much but it was a fantastic track, the wind wasn’t blowing and it was a small outfield.”

The runs chase, which was carried home by Allen’s 37 from 15, was the second-highest total chased in T20 history.

  

 

Big-hitting Nicholas Pooran has admitted that at times he even surprises himself with his uncanny ability to clear the boundary rope, after another scintillating display in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) on Sunday.

Against the Barbados Tridents, Pooran treated the crowd at the Providence to some impressive hitting as his unbeaten 61 from 30 balls anchored the Amazon Warriors 47-runs win.  In total Pooran banged the ball into the stands on six occasions, while hitting four boundaries.  His 78 runs partnership with Sherfane Rutherford, who had 32 from 14, accelerated the Warriors’ innings at the end pushing the projected score from around 160 to a solid 180.  In response, the Tridents were bundled out for 133.

“Sometimes I even surprise myself with the way I hit the ball.  Somehow God gave me the strength and I’m thankful and happy for the talent I’m blessed with,” Pooran said.

“Tonight, was my night.  You have some nights when it won’t go your way, then you have nights like this,” he added.

Pooran had a slow start to the tournament after being dismissed for a duck against the St Lucia Zouks and not batting against St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.  The team has, however, won all three games to start the season.

“It was just my day Shoib was out so I just took the responsibility to bat until the end.”

 

Trinbago Knight Riders captain expressed delight with the contribution of multiple players as the team maintained a perfect start to the new CPL season with a 7-wickets win over St Lucia Zouks on Sunday.

The win added to victories over the Jamaica Tallawahs and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, marked a third in a row for TKR who bowled off the season at the Queens Park Oval.  Powered by 50s from Denesh Ramdin (50) and Lendl Simmons (63), TKR comfortably hunted down St Lucia’s first innings total of 167 for 5.  Simmons hits five boundaries and five sixes for his total, while Ramdin reached the boundary five times only once clearing the ropes.

Against the Tallawahs the team had outstanding contributions from Sunil Narine and Tion Webster.  Jimmy Neesham and Pollard himself were the ones to deliver for the home team in the opening match.  Pollard, who took over captain duties from Dwayne Bravo at the start of the tournament believes the varied contributions so far is a good sign for the defending champions.

“That’s what cricket is about, it’s a team sport.  We know in T20 cricket in each and every game the same person is going to do it.  We spoke about it in the dressing room and every game can be someone else.  Last game was Tion Webster the youngster and Lendl has been searching for runs,” Pollard said following the match.

The TKR captain also expressed satisfaction with the team’s position in the early standings.

“I think it was crucial for us…playing three games in six days and the intensity of T20 cricket and playing at 12.  I thought the heat the better of us at the start and we were flat but we spoke about it and just asked for one big push.”

Trinbago Knight Riders all-rounder Jimmy Neesham hailed the contribution of newly minted team captain Kieron Pollard in a narrow 11-runs win for the defending champions over St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) opener on Wednesday night.  

The in-form Pollard crafted a responsible 47 off 32 balls, as the Knight Riders managed a par score 152 for 7 in their time at the crease.  Man-of-the-match Neesham also made a steady contribution for the Knight Riders, with 33 from 30 balls before claiming 3 for 18 as the Patriots eventually crumbled for 141 in pursuit.  Fabian Allen did his best to get what seemed a makeable target, accumulating 30 from 14 runs to push the Patriots.  His dismissal by Mohammad Hasnain, however, triggered a late collapse with Neesham closing out the game with the dismals of Rayad Emrit and Sheldon Cottrell.

“Obviously we wanted to get off to a strong start here in front of the home fans.  The way Poly batted was exceptional in the first innings to get us up to what was probably just above the par score and then our spinners especially did a great job in defending it,” Neesham said.

Having come up big at crunch time for the Knight Riders, Neesham was quick to admit it was the type of role he had learned to appreciate and hoped to flourish in it for the team this season.

“It’s something I had to learn to love.  I think as an all-rounder batting six and bowling death you are going to be involved in the crunch time and you either shy away from it or you enjoy it.”

 

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts insists the association was taken aback by the threatened protest action of members of the women’s national team, who are still owed money from the Women's World Cup campaign.

Several senior members of the country’s history-making World Cup squad, including Bunny Shaw, Havana Solaun, Toriana Patterson, Allyson Swaby and Lauren Silver, took to social media to air their grouses.

Under a banner declaring No Pay, No Play, the girls posted:

“This is an issue that goes simply beyond “getting paid.” It’s about the girls following in our footsteps. It’s about leaving something better off than when you found it. We signed contracts and have yet to be paid.”

  

According to Ricketts, however, the JFF had been in contact with members of the team regarding FIFA’s late disbursement of funds owed to the JFF, which prevented the payments being made on time“We have been in contact with the girls.  We wrote to them last week expressing our dissatisfaction with how things have unfolded.  Up until now, we have not yet received funds from FIFA,” Ricketts said in an interview with SportsMax Zone.
“We advised the girls that FIFA had indicated to us that the money would be made available at the end of September.  The World Cup ended in July, we certainly thought that we would have got that money, maybe a month thereafter,” he added.

“We wrote to FIFA on the 16th of July making inquiries about the payment and we were advised then that the money would not be paid until the end of September.  We wrote to the girls and we apologized profusely for it and asked that they bear with us and try and understand the situation.”

Ricketts revealed that the original plan was to pay the team at the end of August and that the organisation had made arrangements to pay the women’s team half of what was owed to them.  According to the JFF boss, the process for that payment, which began last week is expected to be completed later this week.

“We really don’t want to be in a fight with the girls.  We would love to amicably and quickly settle this issue so we can go on with the business of football. I honestly thought that they would have understood the situation.”

Jamaica Olympic and world 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod expressed delight with his conditioning as the clock counts down to the IAAF World Championships, in Doha later this month.

The sprint hurdler clocked a comfortable looking 13.07, well clear of France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who was second in 13.25, to claim top spot at the ISTAF Berlin World Challenge Meeting in Germany on Sunday.  Barbados’ Shane Brathwaite was third in 13.36.

McLeod will have plenty of reason to feel encouraged following a tough start to the season, which was perhaps fueled by somewhat of a ride on a coaching carousel of sorts early on.  The 25-year-old had trained with Eldrick Floreal up until late 2018 but then moved to Gary Evans at Empire Athletics in Florida.  Tony Ross at World Fastest Humans was his hurdles coach. 

Following early struggles, however, the athlete joined Tumbleweed camp of elite coach Rana Reider in Jacksonville.  His performances seem to have since improved as he claimed the top spot in Birmingham two weeks ago, before winning again in Germany.

“Everything was coming together perfectly. I ran so smooth, tight over the hurdles. This was like a final rehearsal for Doha,” McLeod said.

“I did it! Like my coach told me, I just got out and took control. Everything was good – the start, the finish and every hurdle. You could say it was a perfect race,” he added.

Fellow Jamaicans Orlando Bennett, 13.54 and Ronald Levy, 14.24 were 8th and 9th respectively.

 

Former Executive Director of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission Renee Ann Shirley admits that she does not share the optimism of Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Warren Blake regarding the situation facing rising star Briana Williams.

The 17-year-old athlete recently returned an adverse analytical finding, following her participation in the Jamaica National Championship.  The athlete blamed the finding on a contaminated batch of Pharma Cold & Flu medication, which she had used to battle the effects of a cold. 

The claim that the batch of contaminated medication contained the banned diuretic hydrochlorothiazide, was verified by an independent laboratory.  Based on the circumstances, Blake had previously suggested that he was confident that Williams could be cleared, even without a hearing.  The sentences possible for the young sprinter range from a reprimand to a 4-year ban.

Anything other than a reprimand for Williams, who booked a spot on the World Championship team by finishing third at the trials, could see the athlete miss out on taking part in the event.

“I don’t see it. I don’t see that being possible,” Shirley told SportsMax Zone in an exclusive interview.

“He was giving the most optimistic scenario.  What I want to caution everybody is that we are not dealing with an athlete that’s just running as a junior, this is someone that’s considered a senior athlete,” she added.

“I think that there are going to be questions that need to be answered and the IAAF’s AIU teams and their investigative panel, even if Jamaica decides not to do it, I think that we will find out that they are paying close attention to this case and so is WADA.”    

 

  

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards believes veteran T20 player Kieron Pollard would make a better option for team captain than current skipper Carlos Brathwaite.

The 31-year-old Brathwaite was named captain of the squad in 2016, following the controversial dismal of World Cup-winning captain Darren Sammy and his heroics against England in the final.  The Barbadian has, however, struggled since taking charge of the unit, winning just 11 and losing 17 of his matches in charge of the team for a 36 percent win rate.

Despite being out of the squad for a couple of years, Pollard has continued to be one of the game’s most reliable players, recently returning to score 115 in a three-match series against India.  The Windies, however, lost the series 3-0.

“Given his experience in that format, I would have liked to see Kieron Pollard as the best choice for our T20 captain. But he is not, for there are some reasons for that. During the CPL, he is the best with the bat and his fielding talent,” Richards recently told the India Times.

“There is no disrespect to Carlos Brathwaite, but he probably would have been part of the team still. It was a political scenario after Darren Sammy exited the captaincy. Brathwaite is magnificent as an individual and highly competitive, but I know a lot of players in that team who believe Pollard would have been a great choice as captain.”

 

 

Bahamian quarter-mile star Shaunae Miller-Uibo continued an impressive spell of sprinting dominance after claiming a 9th straight win at the Birmingham Diamond League meeting on Sunday.

The Bahamian Olympic champion, however, had to work late on after trailing both Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith with 15 metres to go.  Miller-Uibo, however, held her form superbly to go by both in the closing stages, in the end winning by around a metre.  The result meant the Bahamian, who crossed the line in 22.24, has not lost a race since the 2017 Muller Grand Prix.  Asher-Smith was second in 22.36, with Fraser-Pryce third in 22.50.

Despite winning the race, however, Miller-Uibo was quick to admit that things did not quite go according to plan.

“The race didn't go to plan,” said Miller-Uibo, who set a meeting record of 22.15 when winning here last year, on that occasion also defeating Asher-Smith. “My start was just horrible and I had to rely on that 400m strength to get through."

“I’m feeling good. Before the race, we had an idea of how we wanted the race to go and it didn't go as planned so I’m happy for the win and ready to move on to the next.”

 

Jamaica World Champion Yohan Blake is increasingly confident of hitting his best form in time for the Doha World Championships, following a narrow win to claim the men’s 100m title, at the Birmingham Diamond League meet on Sunday.

Blake just got the better of Britain's Adam Gemili, who erased a comfortable early lead by the Jamaican to ensure a photo finish.  Both athletes were clocked at 10.07 seconds but Blake was declared the winner.  The United States’ Mike Rodgers was third with a time of 10.09.  Another Jamaican in the race Tyquendo Tracey was 6th in 10.14.

  It wasn’t the fastest time, considering a barely legal +2.0 seconds but the Jamaican athlete was pleased with the result nonetheless.

"It was coming," said Blake, who suffered a career-threatening hamstring injury in 2013.

"The weather wasn't great but I'm saving the big day for the world championships and the Diamond League finals in Zurich," said Blake. "I can run faster."

Despite holding the second-fastest times ever run over both the 100m and 200m, Blake has been overshadowed by the American trio of Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin and Noah Lyles so far this year.  Coleman was expected to take part in the Birmingham Diamond League but had withdrawn from the race earlier in the week.

 

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards has admitted to feeling let down by the Ricky Skerritt-led Cricket West Indies (CWI), following its controversial decision to dismiss the coaching staff ahead of the ICC World Cup.

Less than a month after taking the reins of the association from the four-term president Dave Cameron, the decision was taken to dismiss interim coach Richard Pybus and the entire selection panel.

 The decision was particularly debatable with the ICC World Cup just a few weeks away and the interim-coach and team having put on an outstanding performance against England, the world’s number one team, and eventual World Cup winners only a month prior.

Despite being a huge supporter of the Skerritt slate ahead of it being elected, Richards strongly believed it was a major misstep.

“To be fair I did put my everything behind my support for the individual who is at the helm, but I wasn’t happy with the so-called coming into that particular position and just the way in which subtle little changes were made to get certain individuals in place for them to be managers and coaches of the tour to the World Cup.  I didn’t like the start and I made my point, Richards said.

“I didn’t like the start. I am hoping that the finish is much better than the start.”

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards insists that star batsman Chris Gayle could be allowed to retire on his own terms provided he continues to perform at a high level.

The 39-year-old Windies star was thought to have retired following the third One Day International (ODI) against India earlier this week.  Ahead of the match, talk in some quarters surrounded the batsman continued presence in the team, particularly after a poor performance at the ICC World Cup and a combined total of 15 in the two prior games.

The big left-hander, however, gave a stirring response to his critics with a smashing 72 off just 41 deliveries.  In addition, Gayle insisted that he had not announced his retirement following the series, creating a conundrum for the selectors in upcoming ODI series. West Indies bowling legend Curtly Ambrose had suggested that Gayle should step aside to allow the team to focus on new talent, with the next World Cup in mind.  Richards, however, believes Gayle could still be a valuable contributor to the Windies squad.

“Over the years Chris has been a brilliant batsman.  The only worrying thing I have would have with Chris now is if we cannot see the performances that we did in Port of Spain,” Richards said in an exclusive SportsMax Zone interview.  

“We can agree that one particular thing is that he is not as mobile in the field as when he was younger but if he can put in those types of performances, that in my opinion would suggest that we can still have him around to add that type of experience,” he added.

“I love to see class, I appreciate class and Chris brings this.  If he cannot perform like he did on a consistent basis well then we can start thinking other things like whether he should be there or not.”    

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