Fidel Edwards is harbouring ambitions of representing the West Indies at the ICC T20 World Cup later this year.

An 82-run eighth-wicket partnership between Joshua Da Silva and Raymon Reifer was the highlight of the final day of the three-day ‘warm-up’ match between the West Indies and the Bangladesh Cricket Board XI that ended in a draw today.

Former West Indies Under-19 captain, Emmanuel Stewart, hopes to insert himself in the debate for selection in what he believes could be a big year for regional cricket.

The 21-year-old Windwards Islands Volcanoes batsman was part of the squad that contested the 2018 Under-19 World Cup.  Since making his First-Class debut in 2019, for the Volcanoes, he had made three half-centuries in 9 matches.

For the upcoming season, the middle-order batsman will once again form part of the Windward Islands squad looking to claim a 5th Regional Super50 crown.  With plenty of international cricket on the horizon this year, including Caribbean tours for Sri Lanka, Australia, and Pakistan, Stewart knows a solid season could place him squarely in the thoughts of the Cricket West Indies (CWI) selectors.

“I think it’s an important year for cricket in the Caribbean, a lot of teams are touring the Caribbean,” Stewart told Grenada’s Talksport.

“So, I think what I have control over is my performance and once I continue putting the numbers up, then that is the most I can do,” he added.

“As long as I continue playing, I will continue putting my focus on those numbers and keep progressing for the Windwards and hopefully eventually the West Indies too.”

 

 

Off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall grabbed a five-wicket haul as the West Indies dismissed Bangladesh Cricket Board XI for 160, before ending the day at 175 for 5, when they batted again, on day two of the three-day warm-up match.

In the morning session, Cornwall got the key wicket of Mohammad Naim, who was bowled five runs short of a half-century, before later accounting for Yasir Ali. His victims also included Akbar Ali, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, and Khaled Ahmed.

A left-arm spinner, Jomel Warrican, also had a splendid showing as he swept through the middle order.  Warrican took the wickets of Shahadat Hossain, captain Nurul Hasan, and Towhid Hridoy.

Batting a second time, the West Indies lost Shayne Moseley first ball, but his opening partner John Campbell and Nkrumah Bonner carried the team to 130 for 1 with a solid second-wicket partnership.  Campbell’s dismissal on 68, off the bowling of Saif Hassan, then prompted a collapse.  Jermaine Blackwood (4), Kyle Mayers (8), and Kavem Hodge (19) all departed without really settling in at the crease.  At the close of play, Bonner remained unbeaten on 80, with Joshua Da Silva yet to score at the other end. 

The West Indies will head into the third day and final with an overall lead of 276.

West Indies all-rounder, Dwayne Bravo, has hailed the role of big-hitting teammates Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard in inspiring a new generation of exciting batsmen.

For decades the Caribbean has created some of the world’s most exciting stroke players, with the likes of Everton Weekes, Gary Sobers, and, later on, Viv Richards and Brian Lara thrilling crowds with their incredible run-scoring ability.

The likes of Pollard, Gayle, and Andre Russell have fallen very much into that mold and a new generation that includes players like Nicholas Pooran, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmeyer, and Brandon King have followed in their footsteps.

The 37-year-old all-rounder Bravo, one of the T20 cricket’s most devastating wicket-takers in his own right, was quick to commend Pollard and Gayle for passing the torch.

 “I think these young guys look up to players like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, what these guys have done in white-ball cricket,” Bravo told Khaleej Times after leading the Delhi Bulls to a win in the Abu Dhabi T10 league on Friday.

“The players from the younger generation now aspire to be like them (Gayle, Pollard) you know. Before them, they had Sir Viv (Richards) or (Brian) Lara and (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul, these players and the likes of Gayle and (Ramnaresh) Sarwan. The young players were looking up to those players,” he added.

“But now because of Pollard, Andre Russell, Gayle, you know, you have seen the likes of Pooran, Heytmayer, Rutherford, and Brandon King.”

Windward Islands Volcanoes coach and former regional fast bowler, Andrew Richardson, insists the West Indies must close the distance between themselves and top-class cricketing nations, in terms of talent development, if the team is ever to be truly competitive again.

World cricket powerhouses India recently earned plenty of plaudits for a stunning win over Australia, with a squad full of mostly inexperienced developing players. 

The West Indies on the other hand, once the world’s best cricket team, have suffered lopsided defeats at the hands of England, New Zealand, and most recently Bangladesh.  The defeats have led to renewed criticism of the regional team in some quarters, but Ricardson insists the world’s top team are simply reaping the fruit of their labour, which took the form of talent development.

“It’s a correlation that the boards that have the luxury of having more coaches employed, more facilities, more players on contracts, more A team tours, more money invested in development, are the countries that have been doing well,” Richardson told Grenada’s Talksports program.

“Case in point, India has an academy just for fast bowling,” he added.

“In the 80s, not to knock anything from the Lloyd and Viv Richards era, we had awesome talent.  During that time, if you check the history, most teams were setting up their academies to improve their game.  We didn’t set up our academy until around 2000.  So, they have been reaping the success of what they have put in.”

Richardson insisted that the region still has the talent and pointed to the team’s performances in the youth competitions to stress the point.  The West Indies won the U-19 World Cup in 2016  and were runners up in 2004.

 

West Indies Women’s Head Coach Courtney Walsh was impressed with the efforts of emerging bowlers  Steffi Soogrim and Kaysia Schultz who delivered standout performances during the squad’s first intra-squad 50-over match Antigua Thursday.

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, led the way with 85 as the regional team was dismissed for 257 on day one of a three-day warm-up match against Bangladesh Cricket Board XI on Thursday.

The opener’s tally came from 187 balls, with 10 fours and no sixes.  Other scores of note from the innings saw fellow opener John Campbell fall just short of a half-century on 44 and Kyle Myers add 40.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, the regional team put 67 on the board before Campbell was dismissed by Shahadat Hossain in the 19th over.  The regional team then tumbled from 110 for 1, to 131 for 5 as the middle-order of Shayne Moseley, Nkrumah Bonner, Jermaine Blackwood, and Kavem Hodge collapsed.  Mosely added 15 before being dismissed, and the team lost its next three wickets for just 11 runs.

It took contributions from Joshua da Silva, Kyle Mayers, and Alzarri Joseph, who made scores of 20, 40, and 25, to drag the visitors past the 250-run mark.

Leg spinner Rishad Hossain led the way for the Bangladesh XI with a five-wicket haul, while pacer Khaled Ahmed picked up three.  At the close of play, Saif and Shadman Islam guided the hosts to 24 without loss, having batted for eight overs.

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has announced a new two-year agreement with Vibes Radio, in Dominica, for exclusive radio commentary rights to all West Indies home international matches and regional tournaments.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) president, Ricky Skerritt, is adamant that the recent refusal by senior players to take part in the ongoing tour of Bangladesh and the subsequent results must be framed within the broader context of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The regional team was on the wrong side of a 3-0 mauling, at the hands of Bangladesh, in a lopsided series that showed a tremendous gulf in quality between the two teams.

The result could not have been entirely unexpected, as a full-strength Bangladesh comfortably beat a full-strength West Indies team in 2019.  The Jason-Mohammed team that took the field last week had at least eight players making their international debut.

Skerritt’s administration has made it clear that players who opt out of tours during the pandemic will not be punished, believes that the threat that the disease poses to the players must be acknowledged.

“We have to deal with the reality that players are facing a tremendously stressful decision about their careers and whether they participate in cricket under risky situations; even though cricket West Indies and other boards are doing everything possible to minimize the risk,” Skerritt told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“What do you do to get the best players on the park, when many of the best players are reluctant to travel and choose not to play?  Are you going to punish them? Are you going to say if you don’t play then you don’t play again ever, then you lose them forever?”

"I listen to some of the discussion’s about COVID and I wonder if we believe that COVID only affects us individually and we should be fearful, but players and others shouldn’t.  So what has happened with this particular tour and the two tours before, during COVID is that you could not get all of your best players on tour at the same time.”

 

West Indies coach Phil Simmons hopes the relative experience of the Test team, compared to the One Day International (ODI) unit, will make for a more competitive showing against Bangladesh when the series bowls off next week.

World-class spinner Shakib Al Hasan and a full-strength Bangladesh made short work of the regional team in a lopsided 3-0 sweep of the ODI series last week.  The Windies went into the series without several of its regular first-team players who pulled out of the tour for various reasons.

The ODI team, which was captained by Jason Mohammed, was the hardest hit, however, with at least eight players making their international team debut.  With more proven campaigners like bowlers Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel, and batsmen Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood, the Test team should be in better shape, in terms of experience in any case.

“It’s a big difference, we may have one, maybe two debutants for this Test series, whereas we had 10 for the ODI series.  So, it’s a huge difference,” Simmons said.

“The good thing is that those guys have been down here before.  On the last tour down here, Kraigg (Brathwaite) was captain, and Shannon and Roach were here.  So, it’s good to have that kind of experience going into a Test series,” he added.

The West will play Bangladesh in a two-Test series, which begins on February 2nd.  The second Test will take place between February 10th to 15th.

 

Kagiso Rabada put his impressive achievement of reaching 200 Test wickets down to hard work but insisted the "show goes on" after becoming the third fastest South African to reach the milestone.  

The Proteas paceman claimed 3-70 in Pakistan’s first innings during the series opener in Karachi, with the last of those wickets seeing him get to the notable personal landmark in his international career.  

Hasan Ali was bowled to see Rabada make it to 200 on day three of his 44th Test outing; only Dale Steyn (39) and Allan Donald (42) have managed it in fewer appearances for South Africa.  

He is also the third quickest ever when it comes to deliveries bowled – Waqar Younis and Steyn sit above him on that list – having recorded nine five-wicket hauls and taken 10 in a match on four occasions.  

For Rabada, there remains the appetite within to keep on improving, worrying words for opposing batsmen around the world when you consider he is still just 25. 

"It's just hard work and spending a lot of time on your craft, seeing where you can get better," Rabada told the media about his success in the Test arena. "Analysing it, but not over-thinking it.  

"It hasn't all been easy – you find yourself trying to perfect something that might seem so simple, but it's constant repetition, hours and hours of work, so being relentless with that and trying to see how much better you can get and finding ways."

Asked about being in the same company as compatriot Steyn and Pakistan great Waqar when it comes to balls bowled, Rabada replied: "It's a massive feat to be included in a list of such names.  

"When you start playing you don't ever think that you'd be on such a list and have such statistics. All you want to do is the best that you can. 

"I'm really glad, it's satisfying; it's a great milestone, but the show goes on."

Rabada missed the chance to bring up his 200th wicket on home soil as he did not feature in the recent series against Sri Lanka in South Africa, the Proteas understandably taking no risks with their premier strike bowler upon his return from a groin injury.

It meant his appearance against Pakistan was his first in the format since the third match of the series against England, back in January 2020. 

"Test cricket never gets old, never gets any easier as well – you are constantly challenged," Rabada explained upon his return to duty for his country

"Playing in Pakistan as well, it's quite an amazing place. The only place that I haven't played previously, so I'm glad to have the opportunity to play here.  

"It's been hard work, just like any Test match, especially in the subcontinent where you have to be more patient. It teaches you a lot of lessons and I've been reminded of some of them."

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has finalized a groundbreaking new five-year deal with ESPN+ for the exclusive media and digital rights in the United States to all West Indies international home matches and regional tournaments.

CWI’s media partnership with ESPN will bring West Indies cricket to millions of households and viewers across the United States through the ESPN+ sports streaming service.

The ESPN+ partnership will feature live broadcast of every international West Indies home series covering all T20 Internationals, One-Day Internationals and Test matches within the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Future Tours Programme (FTP). Commencing with the all-format Tour of the Caribbean by Sri Lanka in March, ESPN+ first year will feature series against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan in 2021 building to five home series in 2022 including tours by England and India.

“This is CWI’s largest-ever media rights agreement in the USA and is the first of several new multi-year agreements which we will confirm in the coming weeks. Broadcast media rights income is crucial to the future financial sustainability of CWI, and this five-year rights agreement is just the start of good things to come,” said CWI President Ricky Skerritt.

The new agreement also includes CWI’s marquee regional 50-over tournament, the CG Insurance Super50 Cup, which is also aired exclusively in the Caribbean by ESPN.

The CG Insurance Super50 Cup will be the first live cricket from the West Indies in the partnership, as the biggest regional rivalries and world-class players take the stage from February 7 to 27 at the Coolidge Cricket Ground and the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua http://www.windiescricket.com).

“ESPN is THE sports channel for American households and sports fans and we’re delighted that West Indies cricket will now be enjoyed in the homes and on the devices of millions of Americans. We have an ambitious strategic plan to grow our brand and content in North America, and ESPN is the perfect partner to help us achieve our goals,” said CWI CEO Johnny Grave.

Meanwhile, John Lasker, Vice President, ESPN Digital Media Programming said Cricket West Indies is among the best in the world and their ICC schedule over the next few years is second to none.

“Cricket has always been a priority for us with ESPNcrincinfo leading the way as the premier destination for cricket coverage and news. Adding a strong slate of CWI events to ESPN+ is just the latest example of our commitment to cricket and serving fans with the best, most comprehensive cricket content in the U.S,” he said.

 

Barbados Pride Captain Jason Holder said his team is excited and focused on winning the CG Insurance Super50 competition set to begin on February 7 in Antigua.

Barbados last won the title in the 2016/17 season and Holder believes that with a shortened season before them, they need to be ready to win consistently.

“We are really looking forward to the first tournament of the year. It’s great to be back and there is a lot of excitement in our camp. We are focused on winning,” Holder said.

“It will be important to hold our nerve under pressure and execute under pressure. The team that is most consistent always wins, and we have to look at being consistent and win for our country and our fans.”

Meanwhile, Red Force Captain Kieron Pollard believes his team is blessed with a good blend of youth and experience to advance to the finals and eventually win it all.

“I believe we have a very good team in terms of youth and experience and we can go that step further and make it to the finals,” he said.

“In the last few years, we missed out, reaching the semi-finals and being beaten, once by CCC and once by Leewards. Hopefully, we have all the energy and all the gas in the tank and go all the way. This promises to be a really good tournament, and I know players will be aiming to impress and improve their careers.”

Both captains are among several West Indies stars set to participate in this year’s tournament.

In addition to Holder and Pollard, players such as Roston Chase (Barbados Pride), Shimron Hetmyer (Guyana Jaguars), Sheldon Cottrell (Jamaica Scorpions), Hayden Walsh Jr (Leeward Islands Hurricanes), Nicholas Pooran (Trinidad and Tobago Red Force) and Andre Fletcher (Windward Islands Volcanoes) have signalled their participation in the tournament.

Whilst COVID-19 related constraints mean that 2019-2020 Champions, the West Indies Emerging Players, are unable to defend their title, eight of those talented young winners from the 2019 tournament have found spots in the competing franchise teams, including Keon Harding, Dominic Drakes and Justin Greaves (Barbados Pride), Kevin Sinclair (Guyana Jaguars), Ashmead Nedd (Leeward Islands Hurricanes), Jayden Seales (Trinidad and Tobago Red Force) as well as, Kimani Melius and Roland Cato (Windward Islands Volcanoes).

Full squads:

Barbados Pride: Jason Holder (Captain), Joshua Bishop, Shamarh Brooks, Jonathan Carter, Roston Chase, Dominic Drakes, Jonathan Drakes, Justin Greaves, Keon Harding, Chemar Holder, Akeem Jordan, Nicholas Kirton, Zachary McCaskie, Ashley Nurse, Tevyn Walcott; Dexter Toppin (Head Coach)

 

Guyana Jaguars: Leon Johnson (Captain), Shimron Hetmyer (Vice-Captain), Christopher Barnwell, Anthony Bramble, Asad Fudadin, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Tevin Imlach, Keon Joseph, Ramaal Lewis, Gudakesh Motie, Akshaya Persaud, Kemol Savory, Romario Shepherd, Kevin Sinclair, Nial Smith; Esuan Crandon (Head Coach)

 

Jamaica Scorpions: Rovman Powell (Captain), Derval Green (Vice-Captain), Fabian Allen, Dennis Bulli, Sheldon Cottrell, Javel Glenn, Brandon King, Andre McCarthy, Jamie Merchant, Romaine Morris, Paul Palmer, Jeavor Royal, Odean Smith, Aldaine Thomas, Oshane Thomas; Andre Coley (Head Coach)

 

Leeward Islands Hurricanes: Devon Thomas (captain), Montcin Hodge (Vice-Captain), Colin Archibald, Sheno Berridge, Quinton Boatswain, Keacy Carty, Nino Henry, Amir Jangoo, Nitish Kumar, Jeremiah Louis, Ashmead Nedd, Kieran Powell, Ross Powell, Hayden Walsh Jr, Terance Warde; Stuart Williams (Head Coach)

 

Trinidad and Tobago Red Force: Kieron Pollard (Captain), Darren Bravo (Vice-Captain), Akeal Hosein, Imran Khan, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kjorn Ottley, Khary Pierre, Nicholas Pooran, Anderson Phillip, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Jayden Seales, Lendl Simmons; David Furlonge (Head Coach)

 

Windward Islands Volcanoes: Sunil Ambris (Captain), Andre Fletcher (Vice-Captain), Alick Athanaze, Roland Cato, Keron Cottoy, Kenneth Dember, Larry Edward, Ryan John, Ray Jordan, Desron Maloney, Obed McCoy, Preston McSween, Kimani Melius, Emmanuel Stewart, Kevin Stoute; Andrew Richardson (Head Coach)

 

 

In-form West Indies middle-order batsman, Jermaine Blackwood, has credited brief advice received from top-class India batsman Virat Kohli as helpful in changing his mindset towards scoring runs.

The 29-year-old scored his first century against England in 2015, a plucky 112 unbeaten in a draw in Antigua.  Following that impressive achievement, however, Blackwood seemed unable to cross the double-digit threshold.  In fact, before finally breaking the streak with 104 against New Zealand, in December, Blackwood had managed to score 10 half-centuries in-between but always fell short of a triple-digit score.

Included in that number were some figures frustratingly well clear of the 50 mark, but falling just short of the 100 mark, when for all intents and purposed the batsman seemed well set to do so.  The tally includes three scores in the 90s.  He scored 92 against Sri Lanka, in Galle, in 2015; 95 against Pakistan, in Abu Dhabi, in 2016, and 95 against England, in Southampton, in July of last year.  Prior to that, Blackwood also registered 85 against England, in Bridgetown, in May 2015.  During India’s tour of the West Indies, Blackwood took the opportunity to seek the advice of run-machine Kohli when the two briefly interacted off the pitch.

“I just asked him how come all the time I score so many half-centuries and just one century, and he just replied, ‘What did you do when you scored the century? How many deliveries did you face?’ I said I faced 212, and he said that’s it, once you can bat some balls you will score runs,” Blackwood recalled.

“I took a lot from that and I’ve always told myself, after that conversation, once I can bat over 200 balls or 300, I’m going to score runs.  Once I’m there, the way I bat, I’m going to score runs regardless of who I’m playing against or where I’m playing.”

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