Former West Indies captain, Darren Sammy, has admitted that a nasty delivery faced by batting legend Brian Lara from Pakistan fast bowling great Shoaib Akhtar made him fearfully question whether he wanted to continue playing cricket.

The incident took place during the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy in a semi-final encounter between the teams.  Lara, then the West Indies captain, was on 30 when the brutish delivery from the Rawalpindi Express spat off the pitch and caught the evading batsman in the back of the neck.

Sammy, then a 19-year-old, had watched from the bench.

“When I made my debut for the West Indies in the Champions Trophy, I remember Pakistan playing West Indies at the Rose Bowl in Hampshire. They were opening with Mohammad Sami, Waqar Younis, and Shoaib Akhtar," Sammy told The Current.

 "I saw Shoaib Akhtar bowling a bouncer to Brian Lara and hit him in the head. Brian Lara fell back, probably almost unconscious. I was sitting, and I was 19 years old next to Dwayne Bravo. I literally questioned whether I wanted to play cricket again. Shoaib Akhtar did that to me,” he added.

After staying down for a while, Lara left the field injured and did not return.  The West Indies, however, ended up winning the match easily with seven wickets to spare.

West Indies fast bowler, Alzarri Joseph, is set to join the St Lucia Zouks for the upcoming Caribbean Premier League season, after not being retained by St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.

The 24-year-old quick has been a part of the Patriots franchise since 2016.  Joseph did, however, struggle last seasons, claiming just three wickets from seven matches, at an expensive 9.29. In 2019, the pace bowler captured 9, the third most on the team, with an economy rate of 7.75.

Late last week, the Patriots announced that they had retained Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Sheldon Cottrell, Rayad Emrit, Jon-Russ Jaggesar, Joshua Da Silva, and Dominic Drakes.

Joseph is currently taking part in the English County Championships where he is currently representing Worcestershire.

This season’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL), which bowls off on August 28, will be held in its entirety on the island of St Kitts & Nevis.  This year could mark the return of fans, with fully vaccinated patrons expected to be allowed to attend a half capacity Warner Park venue.  The Patriots have never won the CPL but went to the final of the competition in 2017.

 

West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach ended his five-game stint in the English County Championship on a high on Saturday taking nine wickets in Surrey’s drawn match with Middlesex.

Following PCR Tests administered on Friday, 21 May, for all members of the West Indies Men’s red-ball training camp being held in St Lucia, Jamaican fast bowler, Marquino Mindley, tested positive on his second COVID-19 test.

In accordance with the medical protocols established with the St Lucian Ministry of Health, Mindley, who is currently asymptomatic, will now self-isolate in his hotel room under the supervision of the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Medical Team until he returns two back-to-back negative results.

All other members of the training squad and coaching team were re-tested and isolated in their rooms, with training cancelled for the weekend. All of these training squad and coaching team members have now tested negative following their repeat tests and the squad will train in small groups starting on Monday 24 May, at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground.

The West Indies red-ball training camp is being held in a bio-secure environment ahead of the ICC World Test Championship two-match Series against South Africa, scheduled to start on June 10.

CWI continues to work with all the regional governments and CARPHA to encourage and assist all squad members to get vaccinated.  To date, 43 members of West Indies Men’s playing and coaching staff have received vaccination doses.

 

 

The Jamaica Tallawahs have retained T20 star Andre Russell, former Windies T20 captain Carlos Brathwaite, Rovman Powell and Chadwick Walton ahead of the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League, which begins on August 28, in St Kitts & Nevis.

Russell boasted the team’s highest average of 44.40 last year, having scored 222 runs in 9 matches.  The all-rounder also bagged three wickets.  Brathwaite largely struggled with the bat, averaging just 12 runs in 11 matches but took 10 wickets.

Powell, who was the team captain, also had a below par season, scoring 106 runs in 11 matches for an average of 11.77, while Walton struggled after averaging 3 runs in eight matches, with a high score of 10.

Interestingly, there has been no mention of the team’s leading run-scorer last season, Glenn Phillips, who has been one of the team’s most consistent performers for the last 4 seasons.  The 24-year-old was recently offered his first retainer contract by New Zealand Cricket.

 Afghan off-spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, who was the team’s leading wicket-taker with 16 wickets last season, and Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, who snared 12 wickets, the second most, have also not been retained.

In the meantime, the Tallawahs have also kept faith with fast bowler Fidel Edwards who showed plenty of pace after returning to the CPL in 2020.  The Jamaica-based franchise will also be welcoming back left-arm spinner Verasammy Permaul and ICC America's player from last season, Ryan Persaud. 

The rest of the squad, which includes the remaining 10 spots, will be announced in the coming weeks.

 

The West Indies cricket team camp in St Lucia is reportedly dealing with a COVID-19 scare, which has seen players and the management team forced into isolation.

The details or extent of the outbreak are yet to be confirmed by Cricket West Indies (CWI), but the team’s practice session at the Darren Sammy Grounds in St Lucia on Saturday was cancelled, with no official reason yet to be provided.

Several members of an 18-man squad, which had been called ahead of a flurry of upcoming T20 international series, reported to a bio-secure environment, where they were to live and train in preparation for the upcoming series.  The players and support staff were expected to undergo rigorous COVID-19 testing.

In addition to that, however, 13 members of the training squad and management received vaccinations against the coronavirus last week.

CWI has been painstakingly and, for the most part, successfully navigating play during the coronavirus pandemic for the last several months.  The West Indies and England were the first teams to return to playing international cricket, with the Raise The Bat series, which took place in a biosecure environment in England in July of last year.

West Indies leg-spinner, Hayden Walsh Jr, admits he is eager to put a difficult year behind him, with solid performances in the upcoming series of T20 internationals.

The 29-year-old was named as part of a preliminary 18-man squad that recently began preparations to face South Africa, Australia, and Pakistan in a flurry of upcoming T20 internationals. 

The group was named with preparations for the T20 World Cup in mind, which is slated for India later this year.  Despite not featuring in a number of matches for the regional team this year, he was one of 18 players offered an international retainer contract.  Chief of selectors Roger Harper went on to explain that the player’s status as the only quality leg-spinner, in the region, prompted the selectors to include him in the team’s retainer plans.

The player suffered from misfortune last year after being forced to pull out of the tour to Bangladesh, after testing positive for Covid-19.

 “I’ve been having a tough year so far, so the fact that I am still in the plans and I still have a lot to work for, it’s still a good feeling,” Walsh said in an interview with the Antigua Observer.

“I started out the year testing positive for Covid, which ruled me out of the Bangladesh series, which I was really looking forward to. I came back to the Super 50 and I didn’t really do as well, mainly because I’ve been in isolation and I didn’t have any preparation,” he added.

 “If that did not happen, then I probably most likely would have been around the T20 and One Day squads against Sri Lanka, so I feel like I’ve missed out a lot.”

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) will host the West Indies Professional Cricketers Draft for the 2021/2022 cricket season next Tuesday via video call.

The territorial board franchises will be convening to draft the final two players for their squads to play in the forthcoming season, which will hopefully include the CG Insurance Super50 Cup and the West Indies Championship. 

The draft will be conducted over two rounds, where each franchise must pick a player in each round. Each franchise will pick two players to add to their pre-selected squad of thirteen (13) protected players, to make a full squad of fifteen (15) players. The franchises will be selecting their two picks from a pool of nearly 100 players. 

For the 2021-22 season, each franchise will be allocated a pick number according to their final league position and performance of the franchise in the last West Indies Championship, held in 2019-20 and won by the Barbados Pride (see table below for sequence of draft picks).  Each franchise will have 90 seconds in each round to make a pick. Where a selection is not made within this time period, the franchise will miss their turn and will have to wait until all the other franchises have made their selection in that round, before making its selection.

Once the franchises have made their full picks to confirm their fifteen retained players, a total of 90 cricketers across the six franchises will be retained on full-time regional contracts for the next twelve months. 

CWI’s Cricket Operations Manager, Roland Holder said, “The draft, now in its eighth (8th) year, demonstrates that CWI remains committed to our professional cricket structure and system, even in these times of uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. The ninety (90) regional players who will be awarded regional franchise contracts, will be able to train and practice professionally as CWI hopes for a return to normalcy in regional cricket later this year.”

Each choice by each Franchise selection committee will be monitored and recorded by the draft overseer (s), as notified to the Franchises by CWI.

 

West Indies white-ball captain Kieron Pollard says he wants to see Shimron Hetmyer competing in all three formats for the men in maroon, but believes the Guyanese batsman has to work harder if he wants to regain a Cricket West Indies (CWI) central contract.

The St Kitts & Nevis Patriots have announced their retentions for the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League which takes place in St Kitts & Nevis from August 28 to September 19.

The Patriots have brought in two players from other franchises. They have signed Dwayne Bravo from Trinbago Knight Riders in a trade deal that saw Denesh Ramdin go the other way. They have also signed Sherfane Rutherford from Guyana Amazon Warriors.

In addition to these two signings, they have retained Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Sheldon Cottrell, Jon Russ Jaggesar and Rayad Emrit.

Exciting young prospects Joshua da Silva and Dominic Drakes round out the retentions.

The Patriots have eight spots to fill to complete their squad and these will be announced in the coming weeks.

“The St Kitts and Nevis Franchise extends a warm welcome to the new players joining us this year as well as to our retained core team for yet another exciting season of the Hero CPL. This year makes it extra special with us playing at our home – Warner Park. I would like to thank all our team players, support staff and management as well as our global fan base for their continued love and support. I look forward to an amazing season in 2021,” said Patriots owner Mahesh Ramani.

The retained players are Dwayne Bravo, Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen, Sherfane Rutherford, Sheldon Cottrell, Rayad Emrit.

Former West Indies fast bowler turned analyst, Richard ‘Prof’ Edwards, believes veteran batsman Chris Gayle could still add plenty of value as an x-factor, with the team set to continue preparations for the upcoming T20 World Cup.

The big-hitting left-handed was included in the 18-man squad for a flurry of upcoming T20 matches, in the Caribbean, which will include series against South Africa, Australia, and Pakistan.

The 41-year-old batsman’s inclusion, along with the inclusion of a few other senior players, has continued to divide opinion.  While some believe the players are solid and experienced additions to any potential World Cup squad, there are others who believe the focus should be on developing younger players.

Edwards, however, believes a player like Gayle's ability to change a game means he should very much remain a consideration, despite other potential drawbacks.

 “You do want fellows to be very mobile.  The trouble that we all know with Chris Gayle is that if you hit the ball to him, he will catch it, but he’s not as fast these days, he slowed down quite a lot,” Edwards told the Mason and Guest program.

“He is still such a dangerous player with the bat, though, if he gets away and hits an 80 off 28, off 30 balls, you’re in with a chance to win the match,” he added.

“If you put him at first slip, short extra cover, short mid-wicket and say well ‘they may get one of two past him, but we’ll still be in a position to win because he has made 80 runs off 30 balls.”

England fast bowler Jofra Archer is to undergo surgery on Friday in an attempt to resolve his persistent right elbow problem.

The 26-year-old was last week ruled out of England's two-Test series against New Zealand after suffering a setback on his return to domestic action for Sussex.

Archer, who previously had an operation on a hand injury at the end of March, was unable to bowl during the final two days of the County Championship match against Kent.

Having managed just two matches since being given an injection for the long-standing issue in March, it has now been confirmed Archer will go under the knife. 

A short statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board on Thursday read: "Jofra Archer has been reviewed by a medical consultant in respect of his right elbow soreness.

"He will now proceed to surgery tomorrow. Further updates will be released in due course."

Archer has 42 wickets at an average of 31.04 in 13 Test appearances for England, who face New Zealand in a two-Test series next month as part of a busy schedule until the end of the year.

England play white-ball series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, as well as five Tests against India, ahead of the T20 World Cup and Ashes Tour of Australia.

Australian cricketers, David Warner, and Pat Cummins could be given rest ahead of the West Indies series, as tensions continue to simmer over the latest ball-tampering comments.

The pair were both named as part of a 23- preliminary squad for the July series, which will consist of five T20Is and three ODIs, but recent reports are suggesting that Cricket Australia is contemplating resting the players, in order to give them more time with their families as fissions within the squad have appeared.

The issue came back into the public spotlight after recent comments were made by bowler Collin Bancroft who hinted that the team’s bowlers were aware of the plan to use sandpaper on the ball during the Test against South Africa.

The 2018 incident had led to bans for then Australia captain Steve Smith and vice-captain Warner and Bancroft.  The team’s bowlers Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, and Nathan Lyon all issued a statement denying any involvement in the issue but another investigation from Cricket Australia now seems likely.

Several players were left discontented after Warner’s manager, James Erskine recently came out openly to say that the Sandpaper Gate was handled badly and eventually the truth will come out.

 

There will be changes to way in which Cricket West Indies awards retainer contracts following backlash to the recent announcements of players who received contracts for the coming year.

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