Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor has revealed he is facing a "multi-year ban" from international cricket for delaying reporting a spot-fixing plot.

Taylor says he was blackmailed by an Indian businessman, who paid him USD $15,000 to travel to India to discuss sponsorships and potential launch of a T20 competition in Zimbabwe in 2019.

The 35-year-old says he had not been paid by Zimbabwe Cricket for six months and it was questionable whether his country would continue playing international cricket.

Wicketkeeper-batter Taylor stated that he "foolishly took the bait" when he was offered cocaine on a night out for a celebratory dinner with the businessman and his colleagues after concluding discussions.

Taylor says he was "cornered" the following morning when six people stormed into his hotel room to show him a video of him taking cocaine and told the footage would be made public if he refused to spot-fix in international matches.

The ex-Zimbabwe skipper says he was handed USD $15,000 as a "deposit" for spot-fixing and was told another USD $20,000 would be paid once the "job" was complete.

Taylor felt he had to take the money, so he was allowed go home but suffered with both his mental and physical health following the life-changing ordeal in India that has taken him to some "dark places".

He stated that he has never been involved in spot-fixing, but is facing a ban for not reporting what happened in India to the International Cricket Council for four months.

Taylor said in a statement: "The 'businessman' wanted a return on his investment which I could not and would not give. It took me 4 months to report this offence and interaction to the ICC.

"I acknowledge this was too long of a time but I thought I could protect everyone and in particular, my family.

"I approached the ICC on my own terms and I hoped that if I explained my predicament, my genuine fear for our safety and wellbeing, that they would understand the delay.

"Unfortunately, they did not, but I cannot feign ignorance in this regard. I have attended many anti-corruptions seminars over the years and we knew that time is of the essence when making reports.

"I would like to place on record that I have never been involved in any form of match-fixing. I may be many things but I am not a cheat.

"My love for the beautiful game of cricket far outweighs and surpasses any threat which could be thrown my way."

Taylor revealed he will check into a rehabilitation centre on Tuesday to "get clean" and to get his life "back on track" after living in "hell for years".

Shaheen Afridi and Joe Root have been named the ICC men's Player of the Year and Test Cricketer of the Year for 2021.

Pakistan fast bowler Afridi took 78 wickets in 36 internationals at an average of 22.20, including a career-best of 6-51 against West Indies in August.

It was during Pakistan's run to the semi-finals of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup that the 21-year-old particularly impressed, taking seven wickets in six matches.

Mohammad Rizwan, England captain Root and New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson were also nominated for the prestigious award.

While Root missed out on that accolade, he was voted the top Test cricketer for 2021.

Root scored 1,708 runs in 15 matches, including two double centuries and a further four tons, in what was otherwise a disappointing year for England.

Only Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf (1,788 in 2006) and West Indies legend Viv Richards (1,710 in 1976) have scored more in a single calendar year.

The 31-year-old saw off competition from New Zealand bowler Kyle Jamieson, Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne and India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

"I am incredibly proud to receive this award," Root said. 

"I am very humbled to be in the same breath as a number of wonderful players around the world and it means a huge amount to have got this award."

 

Root scored more than three times as many runs as any of his team-mates last year, with Rory Burns (530) and Jonny Bairstow (391) next on the list.

He is only the second Englishman to claim the accolade after Alastair Cook in 2011. 

The award had been won by an Australian player on five of the last seven occasions it has been handed out, with Pat Cummins the most recent winner in 2019.

Elsewhere, Afridi's team-mate Babar Azam was named ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year on Monday after scoring 405 runs in six games at an average of 67.50.

And fellow Pakistan star Rizwan was crowned men's T20I Cricketer of the Year on Sunday, with England's Tammy Beaumont claiming the women's equivalent.

Rizwan, Babar and Afridi were also included in the ICC T20I Team of 2021, alongside the likes of Jos Butler, Mitchell Marsh and Josh Hazlewood.

ICC Teams of the Year

Men's T20I Team of 2021: Jos Butler (ENG), Mohammad Rizwan (PAK, WK), Babar Azam (PAK, C), Aiden Markram (SA), Mitchell Marsh (AUS), David Miller (SA), Wanindu Hasaranga (SL), Tabraiz Shamsi (SA), Josh Hazlewood (AUS), Mustafizur Rahman (BANG), Shaheen Afridi (PAK). 

Men's ODI Team of 2021: Paul Stirling (IRE), Janneman Malan (SA), Babar Azam (PAK, C), Fakhar Zaman (PAK), Rassie van der Dussen (SA), Shakib Al-Hasan (BANG), Mushfiqur Rahim (BANG, WK), Wanindu Hasaranga (SL), Mustafizur Rahman (BANG), Simi Singh (IRE), Dushmantha Chameera (SL)

Men's Test Team of 2021: Dimuth Karunaratne (SL), Rohit Sharma (India), Marnus Labuschagne (AUS), Joe Root (ENG), Kane Williamson (NZ), Fawad Alam (PAK), Rishabh Pant (IND, WK), Ravichandran Ashwin (IND), Kyle Jamison (NZ), Hasan Ali (PAK), Shaheen Afridi (PAK). 

West Indies T20 vice-captain, Nicholas Pooran, has hailed the mammoth effort put in by lower-order batsmen Akeal Hosein and Romario Shepherd albeit coming in a losing effort against England on Sunday.

The English levelled the series after a narrow 1-run win, at the Kensington Oval, but early on in the West Indies run chase, after the visitors had scored 171, the result seemed a mere formality.

After a slow start from the hosts, tight bowling from England during the middle overs, spearheaded by Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, saw the West Indies tumble from 47 for 2 to 65 for 7 but a superb display of power hitting from Hosein and Shepherd, in the end, left the team just short of the target.

Shepherd blasted 44 from 28, a tally which included 5 sixes, while Hosein put in 44 from 16, including a flurry of boundaries to close out the match.

“Akeal and Shepherd have been working really hard on their batting.  We have a long list of hitters in our team and tonight we saw something special from Akeal and Shepherd, kudos go to them, they didn’t give up at all,” Pooran said.

“It just shows the strength in our team, tonight was their night, we lost the game by two runs but another night someone else will turn up to the party,” he added.

At the same time, Pooran admits that the team could have gotten a bit more contribution from the top order.  Pooran scored 24 himself and Darren Bravo 23, but both openers Brandon King (0) and Shai Hope (2) went for peanuts.

“I think Kingy (Brandon King) had a tough decision, but we have to accept those things and Hope was a bit unfortunate, the wrong decision maybe at that time.  That set us back in the powerplay but having said that (Reece) Topley bowled really well in the powerplay.”

 

Legendary West Indies fast bowler, Sir Andy Roberts, insists all of the team’s shortcomings at the crease should not be blamed on coaches at the senior team level, as overall, more work needs to be put into developing the region’s young players.

On the back of a historic shock loss to Ireland in their most recent international One Day International (ODI) series, the team’s performances have come under the microscope even more than usual, particularly as it relates to the patchy performance of the batting line-up.

Against Ireland, the batsmen seemed technically incapable of dealing with either the moist conditions on the pitch or the craft of the Irish bowlers.  The team’s struggles have led some to question the work of head coach Phil Simmons and the team’s batting coaches, but while admitting that more needed to be done by the coach, Roberts insists the team’s troubles run a lot deeper.

“For what it is now, I don’t think I would blame the coach alone because of the (low) quality of our players coming out of the region,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“We have to put some emphasis on the coaches from our lower levels coming up because that is where you learn the skills of batting because most focus today is on batting.  I read where the captain said that the West Indies has a batting problem but we’ve been having a batting problem for years… we want to blame others at the top when this is a problem that comes from the lower level.”

 

England edged out West Indies by one run in an extraordinary second T20I at Kensington Oval, just about making up for their wretched start to the series.

There looked to be no doubt about the outcome when West Indies crumbled to 98-8 in pursuit of England's 171-8, but Akeal Hosein and Romario Shepherd both blazed innings of 44 not out to leave the home side just short on 170-8.

Hosein finished the match with three consecutive sixes off Saqib Mahmood, whose final over cost 28 runs as West Indies' chase ended in heroic failure.

After a nine-wicket battering on Saturday, England delivered a more competitive performance, with Reece Topley making a successful return to international cricket. For Topley, this was a first T20I appearance since facing South Africa in March 2016 and his brilliance had West Indies in immediate trouble at 6-2 in their reply to a solid England score.

After a relatively slow start, Jason Roy carted Fabian Allen for 24 runs from the 11th over as England began to pile on the runs. Roy top-scored with 45 before he was caught just inside the ropes at long-on by Kieron Polland off Shepherd, while Moeen Ali made a useful 31 and Chris Jordan flung the bat for 27 from 15 balls.

Topley then gave England a superb start with the ball, snaring Brandon King lbw with the second delivery of West Indies' reply before smartly running out Shai Hope.

Nicholas Pooran had been dropped twice before James Vince held an exemplary diving catch at deep midwicket to give Moeen the wicket of the dangerman for 24 in the eighth over, and West Indies imploded from there, or so it seemed.

Adil Rashid had Pollard and Darren Bravo pinned lbw, each time needing a review to get the decision, before Ali accounted for Jason Holder and Odean Smith in the 12th over, leaving the home side on 65-7.

Fabian Allen followed for 12 at the start of the 16th over, but then came the big flurry as West Indies, with two wickets remaining, got to the point where they needed 38 from the final two overs. Topley temporarily applied the brakes, but Mahmood was almost powerless to resist the big-hitting ninth-wicket pair, Shepherd making his runs from 28 balls and Hosein from just 16 deliveries.


A theme persists

West Indies have now alternated between victory and defeat in their last five men's T20I home matches. Their lower order gave England a headache in the closing overs, but recent history pointed to West Indies probably struggling to follow up their opening win. Indeed, the last time West Indies won their first two T20Is in a calendar year was in 2016, as they beat England and Sri Lanka in consecutive matches.

West Indies go down fighting

The hosts looked toast when they went seven down, but the lower order made England suffer horrendously, even as West Indies fell short of the victory target. The tourists' bowlers were seriously unsettled by the big hitting of Shepherd and Hosein, and there might be a lasting psychological impact caused by that pair, ahead of the third game in the five-match series on Wednesday.

Quinton de Kock made a magnificent century as South Africa won a dramatic third ODI by four runs against India at Newlands to seal a 3-0 series whitewash.

Half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan (61) and Virat Kohli (65) gave the tourists a platform to build their chase of 288 from, but some excellent bowling and safe hands in the field saw the Proteas dismiss India for an agonising 283 off the second ball of the final over.

India won the toss and put South Africa in to bat, taking the early wickets of Janneman Malan (1) and Temba Bavuma (8). When Aiden Markram fell to Deepak Chahar for 15 in the 13th over, the hosts were 70-3 and wobbling until a partnership of 144 between De Kock and Rassie van der Dussen.

De Kock followed up his 78 from the second game in Paarl by making a classy 124 off 130 balls, with Van der Dussen (52) the only other to make a half-century for the Proteas.

However, both fell in consecutive overs, and though a useful pairing of David Miller (39) and Dwaine Pretorius (20) put on a partnership of 44, South Africa was all out in the last over, with Prasidh Krishna (3-59) bringing the innings to a close with the penultimate ball for a total of 287.

The chase did not start brilliantly for India as KL Rahul was caught by Malan off the bowling of Lungi Ngidi (3-58) for just nine, though Dhawan and Kohli set about repairing that early damage.

Their partnership of 98 appeared to set the tourists on their way to a consolation win, though after Dhawan was dismissed when he hit an Andile Phehlukwayo delivery straight up in the air, allowing De Kock to snaffle the catch, Rishabh Pant was out first ball to Phehlukwayo and India's chase looked less assured.

Kohli steadied the ship with Shreyas Iyer (26) before he was taken by Bavuma off the bowling of Keshav Maharaj, but Suryakumar Yadav (39) and Chahar (54) had India scenting a win.

However, with just 10 runs required for victory, Chahar hit Ngidi straight up in the air, with Pretorious taking the catch, before Jasprit Bumrah (12) was caught by Bavuma off Phehlukwayo to leave India needing seven runs from nine balls with one wicket remaining, which fell when Yuzvendra Chahal (2) hit Pretorious straight to Miller.

Proteas in safe hands with Bavuma

It is safe to say that South Africa's ODI captaincy is in safe hands, quite literally when it comes to Bavuma as he took four catches to help his team dismiss India in Cape Town.

Bavuma also used his bowling attack expertly, with five different bowlers sharing the wickets (Ngidi and Phehlukwayo with three, Pretorius two and Sisanda Magala and Maharaj getting one each).

One day woes for India

Although the first two defeats in this series were the result of poor performances, this was a much tighter affair and stand-in ODI captain Rahul will be pleased with the improvement.

Chahar was one success story, coming in for his first game of the series and hitting 54 with the bat while taking two wickets with the ball, but this now makes it four defeats on the spin in ODIs.

Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan has been named the men's ICC T20I Cricketer of the Year, while England's Tammy Beaumont has won the women's award.

Rizwan accumulated an impressive 1,326 runs across 29 games in 2021, at an average of 73.66 and a strike-rate of 134.89.

The wicketkeeper-batsman also excelled behind the stumps as Pakistan made it to the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup.

Rizwan is currently third in the ICC's T20I batting rankings behind England's Dawid Malan and fellow Pakistan opener Babar Azam but was awarded the top men's prize on Sunday following a year in which he scored the maiden T20I century of his career against South Africa in Lahore, as well as a classy innings of 87 against West Indies in Karachi.

His standout performance of 2021 was undoubtedly his partnership of 152 with Babar as Pakistan beat rivals India by 10 wickets at the T20 World Cup in Dubai. Rizwan hit a spectacular 79 not out from 55 deliveries, hitting six fours and three sixes.

Beaumont takes the women's Cricketer of the Year award after scoring 303 runs in nine matches at an average of 33.66.

She was England's highest scorer in T20Is in 2021, and third-highest overall in the world.

She top-scored and was named Player of the Series on the tour of New Zealand, hitting 102 from three innings, including 63 from 53 balls in the second game to help England to victory.

Beaumont performed just as well against the same opposition later in the year, again managing the most runs on home soil in the series with 113, including 97 in the first encounter.

West Indies secured a comprehensive nine-wicket win over England in the first of their five-match T20 International series at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Saturday.

 After winning the toss and choosing to bowl first because of, according to captain Kieron Pollard, the presence of some ‘juice’ in the pitch, the West Indies produced one of their best bowling displays in a long time to wreck the England batting line-up for just 103 in 19.4 overs.

Jason Holder took his best bowling figures in T20s with 4-7 off 3.4 overs and he was supported by Sheldon Cottrell who claimed 2-30 from his four overs.

Chris Jordan top-scored for the English with 28 and Adil Rashid added 22.

The West Indies looked comfortable in their chase, only losing one wicket before getting to the target in just 17.1 overs.

Brandon King got his second T20I 50, finishing not out on 55, while Nicholas Pooran finished not out on 20.

The second match of the series takes place tomorrow at the same venue and time.

 

West Indies T20 star Chris Gayle has made himself unavailable for the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League, which could signal an end to his time at the tournament.

The 42-year-old has played in the world’s premier T20 tournament for the past 13 seasons, where he has played a total of 142 matches since making his debut in 2009.  Gayle has represented the Punjab Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

After experiencing inconsistent playing time during the last edition, for Punjab, and leaving the tournament early to prepare for the T20 World, questions had been raised regarding the player’s future.

The batsman has been one of the league’s most iconic players and is its seventh-highest runs scorer, having scored 4,965 runs at an average of 39.72 and with a strike rate of 148.96.  Gayle tops the list with the most centuries (6) and also holds the record for hitting the highest number of sixes (357).  The West Indian has, however, never managed to win a title.

On the back of a disappointing World Cup, Gayle was expected to retire from international cricket but has registered to play for Fortune Barishal in this year’s Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).  The BPL got underway yesterday, but Gayle is not expected to join the squad until later in the season.

Former Ireland batsman turned commentator, Nyle O’Brien, believes the West Indies batsmen have become caught-up playing an old fashion type of cricket, which has little chance of success in the modern game.

The Caribbean side was beaten by Ireland, in a One Day International series, for the first time in their history earlier this week.  The team had a poor showing all-around but as has become custom in recent times their substandard display at the crease was noticeable.

The team struggled to come to grips with not just the surface, but also the Irish bowlers, particularly Andy McBrine who took 10 wickets over the three games. O’Brien believes a major part of the issues at the crease stems from the batting unit’s outdated philosophy of run-scoring.

“The West Indies, they’re playing a very old school type of cricket.  They just stand around in the crease and either block or try to hit the ball for four or six.  Unfortunately, when you are playing international cricket that doesn’t happen very often.  Very rarely do you see a West Indies batter come down the pitch, using their feet, knock it to long-on, or long-off for singles, rotate the strike, or manipulate the field.  We saw very few sweeps, when Shamarh Brooks did play a sweep he was out lbw,” O'Brien told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“When you’re a batter if you’re going to stand in the crease waiting for a bad ball, this is international cricket, the bad balls don’t come very often…It’s a technical thing, it’s a tactical thing…it’s something for West Indies cricket, it’s been a pattern for many, many years they don’t play spin very well.  They really on their brute force and teams are getting more clever with how to go about that.”

 

 

The West Indies Under-19s have failed to advance to the Super League stage of the 2022 ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup after suffering a hard-fought three-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka Under-19s at the Conaree Cricket Ground in St. Kitts on Friday.

Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to field first, and despite the continued absence of regular captain Ackeem Auguste, who made 57 in the first match against Australia U-19s, West Indies Under-19s got their highest total of the tournament with 250-9 off their 50 overs.

In the must-win encounter, Kevin Wickham, playing his first game of the World Cup, top-scored with 56.

He was well supported by Jordan Johnson, who got 47, as well as Rivaldo Clarke and Teddy Bishop, who got 45 each.

Sri Lankan captain Dunith Wellalage, who has so far taken two five-wicket hauls in the tournament, was again the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers with 3-39 off his 10 overs.

Despite a valiant effort from the West Indies Under-19s bowlers, Sri Lanka were able to get to their target, finishing on 251-9 with 10 balls remaining.

Opener Sadisha Rajapaksa top-scored for the Sri Lankans with 76 and he got support from Anjala Bandara (40) and Shevon Daniel (34).

McKenny Clarke led the West Indies bowlers with 2-38 off his 9.2 overs while Isai Thorne took 2-41 off 10 overs.

Sri Lanka Under-19s and Australia Under-19s will now advance to the Super League stage as the top two finishers in Group D.

The tournament hasn’t ended for the West Indies Under-19s, however, as they will now compete in the plate quarterfinals.

 

West Indies white ball captain, Kieron Pollard, says the team will be starting from scratch in their Betway T20 International series against England beginning on Saturday in Barbados.

The last outing for the regional team in the format came in January with a 3-0 defeat in an away series against Pakistan.

The majority of that squad will get another opportunity to represent the region and Pollard, speaking in a pre-match press conference today, says the team is eager to get started.

“For us, it’s like starting from scratch. These guys got a run out in Pakistan in the three T20Is and I’m sure they’re looking to build on their own personal performances and that, in extension, will help us get victories,” he said.

If the West Indies are to come out victorious in the five-match series, Pollard says execution in all three phases of the game will be critical.

“We have to execute in all three facets of the game. It’s been mentioned over the last week or so, batting has definitely been a problem for us but a good thing about it is that we have some new faces in the group again. Guys are looking to make a name for themselves on the international scene and so we just need to be able to do the basics and play according to the situation of the game,” Pollard added.

With the team coming off a disappointing ODI series loss to Ireland, Pollard says it will be important to leave that in the past and focus on what they can do going forward.

“It’s a new series. We can’t take the disappointment from that series into this one. There’s a different sort of mindset and approach that is needed to come into this series,” Pollard said.

The first match of the T20I series between the West Indies and England bowls off at the Kensington Oval in Barbados at 3:00 pm Jamaica time.

 

 

 

 

West Indies fast-bowling allrounder Odean Smith is taking his ascension to the West Indies limited overs team in stride.

Speaking to the media, on Thursday, before the team’s five-match Betway T20 International series against England, Smith said he has ambitions to be a fixture in the West Indies white-ball setup for years to come.

“Definitely. I think I have a long way to go and a lot of work to do but it’s all a learning process. Cricket is a learning process. I just have to work on my game along the way and I think I’ll definitely get to where I want to be when the time comes,” he said.

One of the biggest talking points across the regional cricket landscape over the last few years has been player fitness and Smith said he is fully aware that if he wants to achieve his goals, he must prioritize taking care of his body.

“I think it’s very important. If you’re not taking care of your body then you probably won’t have far to go so, I work a lot on my fitness. Cricket is a lot of running so I tend to do a lot of that. I don’t really go to the gym to do a lot of strength work. Running and eating well are the things I take pride in,” Smith added.

A member of the triumphant 2016 West Indies Under-19 team, Smith also stated that it is an ongoing process because of a busy schedule.

“I’m not where I want to be right now because, as I said, it’s an ongoing process and there’s a lot of cricket going on so it’s hard to get anything done during the season. When I get a little time, I’ll focus on distance running and my eating habits,” he added.

Smith has, so far, played 3 ODIs and 5 T20Is for the West Indies.

With the team coming off a disappointing ODI series defeat to Ireland and England coming off a 4-0 defeat to Australia in the Ashes, Smith believes the upcoming series will be an important one for both teams.

“Both teams have an equal opportunity to go out there and win this series. England has a very good team and we also have a very good team as we’re trying to rebuild. We have a few new guys so the coaches are trying to figure out roles for everyone. This series is going to be very important for both teams going forward,” he added.

The series between the West Indies and England gets underway at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Saturday.

 

 

T20 World Cup holders Australia will face 2021 finalists New Zealand in the Super 12s stage of this year's tournament.

Australia triumphed over their trans-Tasman rivals by eight wickets in the final of last year's competition in the United Arab Emirates to clinch the T20 World Cup for the first time.

Aaron Finch's team will look to defend their title on home soil later this year, with the World Cup running from October 16 to November 13.

Sri Lanka, champions in 2014, start the preliminary round – which also includes 2016 winners West Indies – against Namibia, with the Super 12s starting on October 22.

The first fixture will be a repeat of last year's final, with New Zealand taking on Australia in Sydney.

England, who lost to New Zealand in the 2021 semi-finals, and Afghanistan are also in the same group.

India, Pakistan, South Africa and Bangladesh will face off in Group 2. 

Pakistan and India go head-to-head in Melbourne on October 23.

The semi-finals will take place on November 9 and 10.

Legendary West Indies batsman, Viv Richards, has once again decried what he believes to be the role of poorly prepared playing surfaces in the underdevelopment of both the region’s batsman and bowlers.

The regional team is in the grips of a particularly bad spell, after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Ireland in the most recent One Day International series.  The series was the first the Irish have won again them and sent shockwaves around the region.

The team’s batsmen were in particularly woeful form with only Sharmarh Brooks, Shai Hope, and Odean Smith managing to average over 30.  Albeit on a pitch that held moisture early on, and losing the toss three times, the West Indies only managed to make over 250 runs in the first match, well short of the total typically required for a good innings in modern ODI cricket.

With many of the batsmen continuing to look out of sorts, despite often putting in strong spells in regional cricket, Richards believes substandard pitches are partially to blame for the situation.

“I don’t think there is enough preparation being put into wickets, and wickets play a huge part because sometimes you get some individuals who would be selected because of some good performances on some dodgy tracks,” Richards told Antigua’s Good Morning Jojo Radio program.

“So, when you get to the bigger picture or they take a step up, then you find individuals are found wanting because these wickets are rather inferior on either sides of the coin, whether it’s batting or bowling. We need to pay a little more attention to having proper wickets that can be quite competitive for bat and ball,” he added.

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