West Indies batsmen showing signs of improvement

By Mariah Ramharack April 04, 2021

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these trending issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT the 2021 edition with Mariah.

 

 Positive signs for Windies batting

West Indies batting has been a matter of concern, especially in the Test format for some time.

As recently, as of July 2020 when West Indies faced England in three Tests, the Jamaica Observer newspaper blared the headline “West Indies bowlers undermined by batting woes” a sentiment shared by many newspapers in cricket-loving nations around the world.

After winning the first Test against England, the West Indies only survived 70.1 overs in the second innings of the second Test. It was even worse in the second innings of the third Test when they lasted a mere 37.1 overs as England completed a 269-run win in Manchester.

However, against Bangladesh and in the just concluded test series against Sri Lanka, the Windies have shown signs of improvement.

Generally speaking, West Indies batsmen do not face enough balls and hence give their wickets away cheaply. Against Sri Lanka, there was a refreshing change in attitude and application.

In the final Test, Captain Kraigg Brathwaite made 126 in the first innings- his ninth Test century, his first as captain and 85 in the second. In all, the skipper batted 813 minutes, the most in a Test for the Windies. In that time, he faced 507 balls, the joint-most by a West Indian in a Test match since Brian Lara's 400* off 582 balls against England in 2004.

Similarly, Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder each spent time at the crease while setting a 377-run target for Sri Lanka. Mayers faced 76 balls for his 55 while Holder scored 71 not out off 88 balls.

In the first Test, Nkrumah Bonner’s maiden century of 113* was an exercise in patience and determination. Batting at number three, the 32-year-old Jamaican faced 274 balls in more than seven hours at the crease.

 There is still a lot of work to be done but the early evidence suggests that the West Indies batsman might finally be on the right path.

 

 Sergio Aguero still has value

 It has been confirmed by Premier League club Manchester City that Sergio Aguero will leave when his contract expires at the end of the season.

However, this does not mean that his career has come to an end.

This season has been a challenging one for the striker, who has had to endure injury, Covid-19, and lack of game time. In his 14 appearances, he has started nine games and scored three goals.

Despite his struggles, he is arguably the best non-English striker to grace the Premier League and the numbers speak for themselves. Aguero is the fourth highest goal scorer in the Premier League history with 181 goals. He also leads the statistics in the rate of scoring in English top-flight football since 1992.

Aguero’s famous goal in injury time against QPR in 2012 when he clinched the club’s first English title in 44 years, is one for the books. Overall, he has helped The Citizens to four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and five League Cups.

Though slowed by age and injury, in Saturday’s game against Leicester City, he worked hard off the ball and contributed to his side’s win, something he has done constantly during his incredible career at Manchester City.

His boots will not be easily filled as was made clear by Pep Guardiola.

“I want to be clear. Maybe we'll find a new player to replace Sergio. In terms of numbers, he might be replaced, but in terms of what he means to the club, it is impossible.” 

 

Why are super teams an issue for some in the NBA?

The news of LaMarcus Aldridge joining the Brooklyn Nets did not sit well with many Los Angeles Lakers fans with many saying the Nets are so desperate for a championship they are buying one. Lakers superstar Le Bron James’ son Bronny also weighed in tweeting, “All this to stop a 36-year-old man in Year 18.”

LA Lakers CEO and owner Jeanie Buss, who sees the move as making the NBA a more compelling product said, “So, bring it on.”   

Personally, I see nothing wrong with the Nets creating a super team because LeBron has done the same many times in the past.

In fact, LeBron created his own super team with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami Heat in 2010-2011. He also helped assemble Kevin Love Kyrie Irving for the championship-winning Cleveland Cavaliers.

 And while the Nets signed the talented LeMarcus Aldridge it is important to note that the Lakers also recently signed two-time all-star centre Andre Drummond, who is averaging 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds this season despite having not played since February 12.

 

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    Sergio Aguero and Ansu Fati have been included in Barcelona's 23-man squad for Sunday's crucial LaLiga clash with Valencia at Camp Nou.

    Manchester City great Aguero has yet to feature in a competitive game for Barca since joining at the end of May, due to a troublesome calf issue.

    Fati is being eased back into the first team after a long-term knee injury absence, with the teenage forward having featured three times as a substitute since making a return from a near year-long lay-off.

    Both players are in contention to play a part against Valencia as Barca attempt to kickstart their LaLiga campaign on the back of a 2-0 loss to Atletico Madrid two weeks ago.

    Aguero's inclusion and the return of Fati will be considered a major boost for coach Ronald Koeman, whose side are down in ninth place after seven matches.

    Barca's shot conversion rate of 13.6 per cent in LaLiga this term is their lowest in a single campaign since 2007-08 (13.5 per cent).

    Asked on Saturday about Aguero's chances of playing his first competitive minutes at club level since the Champions League final, Koeman said: "He's improved a lot lately.

    "He played 20, 25 minutes in Wednesday's [practice] game and it is going well. But he lacks the rhythm of the games and a certain physique.

    "He will get that with games. His quality is not questioned; he can give a lot to this team. Especially up front."

     

    Fati has scored 14 goals in 46 appearances for Barca since making his senior debut in August 2019, but he has just 57 minutes of playing time under his belt this term and was not included in Spain's most recent squad.

    Koeman will not take any unnecessary risks over the youngster's fitness, with games against Dynamo Kiev and Real Madrid to follow in the coming week, in the Champions League and LaLiga respectively.

    "Every day he is doing better because he has been away for a long time," Koeman said at Saturday's pre-match news conference.

    "You have to think with Ansu that there are three games this week and he cannot play the entire three games. We must decide what is best for him and the team."

    Elsewhere, Barca are without the injured Ronald Araujo, Pedri, Martin Braithwaite and Ousmane Dembele.

    The Catalan giants have just lost one of their last 10 LaLiga games against Los Che (W5 D4) – a 2-0 reverse in January 2020 under Quique Setien.

  • 'No words describe Gayle value to West Indies cricket' - Pollard backs under fire batsman to deliver at World Cup 'No words describe Gayle value to West Indies cricket' - Pollard backs under fire batsman to deliver at World Cup

    West Indies captain Kieron Pollard insists the team is backing talismanic batsman Chris Gayle to do well at the T20 World Cup despite not heading into the event in the best of form.

    Heading into the tournament, the swashbuckling left-hander is 97 runs away from scoring the most runs in T20 World Cup history.  Based on the player's most recent run of form, however, there is no guarantee of him getting there.  In the 16 games, the player has only managed 227 runs at an average of 17.46.

    In addition, the 42-year-old has faced criticism from a vocal section of the West Indian cricket fanbase who are adamant that he should have stepped aside for younger talent.  Gayle was recently involved in a war of words with bowling legend Sir Curtly Ambrose, who suggested that while the player was still capable of lighting up bowling attacks on his day, he was not at the same level as he was a few years ago.  For Pollard, however, the batsman has been and continues to be a very valuable asset to the team.

    “Again, no words to describe what he has done for us in World Cups, in the T20 World Cups, and T20 cricket around the world as an individual," Pollard said during an interview with team captains' on Saturday in Dubai.

    "For him, 97 runs away, but I don't think he will be looking at that. I think the main goal for us and him, is trying to win a World Cup and defend the title. He is looking forward to that. Hopefully, he can come and deliver for us. We back him to do well," he added.

     

  • 'Going into big games you need experienced players' - veteran WI fast bowler insists experienced players a plus for World Cup 'Going into big games you need experienced players' - veteran WI fast bowler insists experienced players a plus for World Cup

    West Indies fast bowler Ravi Rampaul is confident the experience of senior members of the team will be crucial in its effort to retain the ICC World Cup.

    The 37-year old’s call up to the squad has been among the most controversial made by the Caribbean team, with some fans insisting the West Indies should have focused on selecting younger talent.  Rampaul’s effective showing the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), however, convinced selectors that he could be an asset for a team looking to successfully defend its title.

    In 10 matches, Rampaul was the tournament’s leading scorer with 19 wickets at an economy rate of 7.96 and a best of 4 for 29.  The bowler is satisfied that the work put in merited selection to the team’s T20 World Cup squad.

    “In every team, you want to play for, you have to put a performance out there and I know I needed to work hard and show the selectors I could still take wickets and compete at a level.  I needed to put the performance out there and show them I could take wickets at the CPL stage,” Rampaul told members of the media on Saturday.

    Despite the criticism aimed towards the age of some members of the squad, Rampaul believes the experience of the team will be critical in the bid to retain the trophy.

    “Going into big World Cup games you need experience and the team that was selected is a lot of experienced guys and a lot of young guys as well, guys that play around the world in different conditions.  We know games come quick and fast and the experienced guys will know how to manage themselves.”

    The West Indies will bow into action with a match against England on October 23rd.

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