Sunshine Girls booked to face England in Vitality Roses Reunited series

By Sports Desk September 23, 2021

The Jamaica Sunshine Girls are set to take on England in a three-match series dubbed the ‘Vitality Roses Reunited’ set for London, in November.

The teams were originally set to face-off in a series in January but that was postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and strict travel restrictions.  The upcoming series will still be subject to Covid-19 travel restrictions but will be played in front of a maximum capacity stadium, with measures regarding crowd sizes eased in England.

The series will help both teams begin preparations for the next year’s Commonwealth Games, which will take part in Birmingham, England next year.  The Jamaicans have not played in an official international competition since the World Netball Cup in 2020.

The series is set to tip-off on November 28th at the Copper Box Arena, before moving on to the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, with consecutive games on December 4 and December 5.

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    Former Jamaica Reggae Boyz goalkeeper Ryan Thompson has questioned the practice of labelling the country’s national representatives as foreign-based or English-based in light of questions regarding the team’s unity.

    In recent months, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has looked to bolster the experience and quality in the team’s ranks by extending an invitation to players who qualify to represent the country by virtue of having Jamaican heritage.  Several players have accepted the offer but the team's overall integration has not gone smoothly.

    The situation was similar to the team’s historic 1998 campaign when a mix of players, some based in Jamaica and English players of Jamaica heritage qualified the unit for the tournament in France.  Ahead of its historic feat, there had also been controversy surrounding the inclusion of the players who were based abroad.

    Internationally, players opting to represent countries where they were not born is hardly an unusual situation.  The likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Christian Benteke, and Raheem Sterling, who was born in Jamaica but represents England, are among just a few who feature on the list.

    As it relates to the current crop, however, Thompson believes the aim must be to get the team to gel as soon as possible, a goal that having player labels and categories is unlikely to help.

    “If we can get the team to gel and call everyone Jamaican and not local based or foreign-based or English based, whatever it is, that’s when we will really be able to do some damage in the world, not just the Caribbean,” Thompson told TVJ Sports.

    ‘You don’t hear the German team talking about, oh this guy was from Austria or the US saying the same thing about German-based players.  They're Americans, why are we throwing labels on our players?”

  • 'It gave us belief, solidarity' - Jamaica goalscorer Roofe believes tough battle against Canada was turning point for team 'It gave us belief, solidarity' - Jamaica goalscorer Roofe believes tough battle against Canada was turning point for team

    Jamaica international Kemar Roofe has expressed delight with opening his goal account for the Reggae Boyz after finding the net in a 2-0 win over Honduras but believes the team started gathering momentum in the previous match.

    The Rangers striker found the back of the net, for a Jamaican team desperately in need of a win, in the 36th minute after successfully deflecting an attempt from strike partner Shamar Nicholson.  A defender, Oniel Fisher, scored the team's second in the second half.

    The goal was the first for Roofe in four matches, having started the last two.

    “It’s a special moment for all of us, getting my first goal for my country.  I want to dedicate this to my dad, he is the reason I am playing for Jamaica,” Roofe said.

    “It was massive for the team to get the three points.  I think it all stems from the game against Canada.  We didn’t get the three points but we got the draw and we came out of that game with solidarity and belief and a lot of respect as well and we brought it into tonight’s game.”

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    After a COVID-19 enforced postponement, the T20 World Cup will finally get underway on Sunday.

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    A first round featuring eight teams, including debutants Namibia and Papua New Guinea as well as 2014 champions Sri Lanka (who have reached three T20 World Cup finals, more than any other side), gets the tournament up and running, with four teams progressing into the Super 12 stage.

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    Virat Kohli's India are among the favourites, while Pakistan will be hoping captain Babar Azam delivers. Australia and New Zealand (the most economic side when it came to bowling in 2016) cannot be discounted either, with South Africa also improving in recent years.

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    Gayle on the record trail

    The Windies have won two of the last three T20 World Cups, triumphing in 2016 and 2012 either side of Sri Lanka's success, and they remain the only team to have won the tournament on multiple occasions. Key to their sustained success has been Chris Gayle, who at 42, is still the face of the sport in the Caribbean.

    He is just 80 runs away from becoming the second player to score 1,000 runs at the T20 World Cup. In fact, he needs only 97 runs to surpass Mahela Jayawardene's record tally of 1,016. Gayle already holds one competition record, for the number of sixes (60), while he averages 40 across 26 innings at the tournament, with a brilliant strike rate of 146.7.

    New Zealand great Brendon McCullum (123) is the only player to have a higher T20 World Cup score than Gayle's 117, and you would not bet against the Windies talisman claiming that record either.

    Gayle will have able support from the likes of Kieron Pollard (1,378 T20 runs), Dwayne Bravo (1,229) and Lendl Simmons (1,508), not to mention Nicholas Pooran.

    Despite batting in the middle order, Pooran hit the second-highest number of sixes in this year's Caribbean Premier League (25). He also has form in the middle east, having struck 350 runs at a rate of 170 in the most recent edition of the Indian Premier League.

     

    Malan and Livingstone to lead England

    The Windies' first opponents in the Super 12 phase will be England, who will be out for revenge. They had a batting strike rate of 148 in 2016, the best of any team, but still fell short. Yet while the West Indies are now ninth in the ICC's T20I rankings, Morgan's men sit top of the pile.

    Dawid Malan is the star batsman. He is ranked number one in the world in T20Is, with a rating of 841, way clear of second-placed Babar (819). Over 30 innings, he has amassed 1,123 runs at an average of 43.2 and a strike rate of 139.3.

    Morgan, not shy of a big innings himself, is also able to call on Liam Livingstone, who has made a fantastic start to his T20I career. 

    From seven innings, Livingstone has hit 206 runs with a strike rate of 167.5. His high score of 103 is the joint-highest in England's squad, level with Malan (103 not out).

    As was the case at the 2019 World Cup, England's batting depth is exceptional, though they are shorn of Ben Stokes, who always seems to deliver when it matters most.

     

    Kohli's last shot

    Not too far behind Malan in the ICC's T20I batsman rankings is India star Kohli, who is stepping down as the captain in the shortest format of the game following the World Cup.

    Winners of the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, India have only reached one other final, back in 2014. Kohli was named player of the tournament, top-scoring with 319 runs, and as he prepares to bow out as captain, he will be determined to cap off his tenure on a high.

    No player has made more half-centuries in the competition than the 32-year-old (level with Gayle on nine), though Kohli is yet to log a century.

    Kohli's hopes may well rest on the shoulders of Rohit Sharma. The opener debuted with an unbeaten half-century back in 2007 and has made 111 T20I appearances, behind only Shoaib Malik (116) and Mohammed Hafeez (113).

    Only Martin Guptill (147) has struck more sixes than Sharma (133) in the format, while over the last five years, India have won every time the batsman has scored 50+ runs.

     

    Captain fantastic

    Shahid Afridi has taken the most wickets of any player in T20 World Cup history (39). Indeed, Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan has taken the most wickets at the tournament of any player set to participate in this edition (30), which shows the void Pakistan are having to fill following Afridi's retirement.

    They do, however, possess a supreme batsman in the form of captain Babar. 

    Since his T20I bow in 2016, Babar has tallied up 2,204 runs. His average of 46.9 puts him third on the all-time T20I list (20+ innings), behind Kohli (52.7) and his fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan (48.4), who provides another string to Pakistan's bow.

    Babar, who has only managed one century to date (122 from 59 balls against South Africa earlier this year) was the fastest player to 2,000 T20I runs (52 innings) beating Kohli's previous best of 56, and an enticing encounter between the sub-continental rivals takes place on October 24.

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