Former Windies pace bowler, Richard 'Prof' Edwards, admits he is disappointed by what he believes to be the slow progress of promising pace bowler Alzarri Joseph.

The 24-year-old fast bowler has long been tipped to give West Indies the type of firepower typical of years gone by but is yet to completely deliver on that promise.

The young bowler has shown plenty of flashes of that prodigious talent.  He put in a strong performance against England, in 2019, and took a record-breaking six for 12 on his debut for Mumbai Indians.  Joseph has, however, not produced such performances consistently.  Joseph, who made his debut in 2016, has taken 38 Test wickets in 16 matches and 54 One Day International wickets in 34 matches.

“It’s disappointing that he does not seem to have gone on from the time he started until now, there doesn’t seem to be any great improvement,” Edwards told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“He seems to be bowling wide of the crease to right-handers, angling it.  He should get as close to the stumps as possible,” he added.

“He is not accurate, he had not been able to develop as much as you would have expected.  He is not a real swinger of the ball, he is athletic, he looks like he bowls pretty fast, but he is not doing much with the ball.”

 

Former West Indies fast bowler turned analyst, Richard ‘Prof’ Edwards, believes batsman Kyle Mayers could blossom into a genuine all-rounder for the regional team, buts needs to consider shedding a few pounds.

The 28-year-old has had a splendid start to his Test cricket career for the West Indies, bursting on stage with 210 on debut against Bangladesh.  The innings helped lay the foundation for an expected away series win and catapulted the player into the spotlight. 

In the recently concluded Test series against Sri Lanka, he again garnered some attention this time with the ball. His brisk medium pace accounted for batsman Oshada Fernando and later Dinesh Chandimal at a crucial period on the third day of the opening Test.  The wickets were the first of his international career.  Overall, Mayers ended with 28 overs, 13 maidens, and four wickets.   On the back of such displays, Edwards believes the player could have the makings of a solid all-rounder.

“He did well.  He was a surprise package to the Sri Lankans.  They didn’t expect him to get the ball to swing and by the time they realized it was too late and he had wickets,” Edwards said in assessing the player’s performance on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I’m saying that if he goes on and develops his bowling, he won’t trick batsmen as early as that again and he would have to consistently bowl well, but he can, he has the natural ability to bowl.  However, he has to lose about 25 pounds.  He is too young to have all that weight carrying around on him,” he added.

“He is a big strong guy, but he has got to drop 20 pounds at least.  He will bowl faster and he would be the genuine all-rounder in the side.  We wouldn’t be looking to get four overs out of him or five overs but he would be a fellow you can throw the ball to when you are looking to get wickets in a spell of eight overs are so.”  

 

Following the recently concluded 0-0 Test series between the West Indies and Sri Lanka, the first nearly since the nil-all stalemate between Bangladesh and South Africa in 2015, West Indies head coach Phil Simmons, believes Caribbean curators need to prepare better pitches, ones that can yield results.

The two sides battled to the two-Test stalemate in which some batsmen filled their boots but more often than not the bowlers struggled to get 20 wickets. In the first of the Test matches played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Sri Lanka failed to get 20 wickets in the match as the West Indies had scores of 271 and 236-4.

The local bowlers had early success bowling Sri Lanka out for 169 only to toil as the visitors scored a mammoth 476 in the second innings. In the second Test, West Indies made 354 and 280-4 while Sri Lanka had scores of 258 and 193 for 2.

In both matches, batting became much easier for both teams while the bowlers struggled.

The trend was not lost on the West Indies head coach.

“I think we from a country standpoint need to get better wickets where we can have Test matches that will create a result,” he said.

“Even if we lost a Test match after it’s gone to the fifth day, you will still think that we’ve done well to get to the fifth day and were in with a chance of winning the Test match, so I think that’s an important part of it.”

Notwithstanding the struggles of his bowling attack, Simmons said he was comfortable with what he has now.

“We had the bowlers there who we wanted to be in the Test team,” he said.

“Everybody else is still work in progress and still looking to put themselves in contention so right now these five bowlers are our main bowlers.”

 

Legendary West Indies fast bowler, Curtly Ambrose, believes the team could have been more aggressive in going for the win against Sri Lanka in the second and final Test but admitted to being pleased with the strides the team had made.

In the end, West Indies and Sri Lanka played to a 0-0 Test series draw with neither team really able to press home advantages at various stages in both matches.  In a reversal of fortunes, it was the West Indies who had headed into the final day of the final Test with a big lead and looking to put the pressure on the visitors.  The team, however, managed to take two wickets as Sri Lanka closed the day on 193 for 2.  Ambrose, however, believes the West Indies did not give themselves enough time to win the game.

“I think that we didn’t show enough intent to try and win that game. We batted too long in my opinion, we took too long to score the runs which means we didn’t have enough time to bowl out Sri Lanka on a very placid surface and I thought that the urgency in getting those quick runs wasn’t there. We batted too long,” Ambrose told the Antigua Observer.

During the second innings, with team captain Kraigg Brathwaite anchoring the unit on the third day, Ambrose believes the batting line-up should have been re-tooled in an attempt to score more quickly.

“We know the captain Kraigg Brathwaite isn’t going to take an attacker path. He is one of those guys who are going to bat for long and accumulate his runs and nothing is wrong with that,” Ambrose added.

“Kyle Mayers we know will go on the attack but I thought that later on after Kyle Mayers got out, we should have at least sent Jimbo [Rahkeem Cornwall] or Alzarri Joseph ahead of Da Silva to get some quicker runs so we could have enough time after the declaration to try and bowl out Sir Lanka. Sending Da Silva to me wasn’t a good move at that particular stage.”

Ambrose insisted, however, that there were several positives to be taken from the display.

“You can see that the guys are putting a lot more thought into the cricket which is very good to see. They have been patient, they try to construct their innings in terms of the batting and even in the bowling department, you could see they were really trying to bowl in good areas and not just trying to get a wicket every ball."

Windies middle-order batsman, Joshua Da Silva, believes there is plenty to be proud of when it comes to his performances so far for the regional team.

Since making his debut against New Zealand, in December of last year, the batsman has averaged 37.62 in five Test matches, with a high score of 92.  The half-century was one of two scored by the player during the period.

Da Silva has scored 301 runs so far, his innings often providing much-needed stability at crucial times in the team’s batting line-up.  Despite narrowly missing out on a triple-figure and a few half centuries, the player admitted he was pleased with his work to date.

“I don’t think I could have been more proud of what I have done so far in Test cricket. I definitely would have wanted to convert some of those forties into fifties and that 90 into a 100, but hopefully there are going to be a lot more opportunities to do that,” Da Silva told Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

Da Silva recently played a crucial part in the Test series draw with Sri Lanka, which saw batsmen with the upper hand for most of the series, partly due to a flat surface.

“I don’t think we could fault any bowler or batsman according to the conditions. It was quite challenging for the bowlers. Overall, I thought we had a very positive series, a lot of good things came out of it.”

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons believes a change of approach by his team’s batsmen is largely responsible for five of them averaging over 50 for the just-concluded series against Sri Lanka. Kraigg Brathwaite, Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers, Jason Holder and Rahkeem Cornwall hit that significant milestone during the series that ended in a stalemate between the two cricketing nations.

It was the first time since 2012, that West Indies batsmen have been able to achieve that feat and only the second time since 1995.

Brathwaite, who started off the series with scores of three and 23 in the first Test, finished strong with his ninth Test century, 126, and a second innings score of 85 that spiralled his average in the series to an excellent 59.25.

Kyle Mayers, perhaps the most consistent of the West Indies batsmen had scores of 49, 55, 45 and 52 for an overall average of 50.25.

Incidentally, these were the two lowest averages of the five batsmen. Nkrumah Bonner, who scored his first Test century in the series, 113 not out, averaged 72 while Jason Holder averaged 69 after scoring 71 not out, 30, 19 and 18 not out.

Rahkeem Cornwall had only two turns at-bat and he made them count. His 61 and 73 gave him an average of 67, to round out an impressive all-round performance from the West Indies despite the fact that they were unable to force a win in any of the two Tests.

Simmons, though, was pleased with what he observed.

“Everybody is looking to occupy the crease. People are working to bat for long periods and our depth goes deeper because Alzarri Joseph and Rahkeem Cornwall have shown within the last three series that they can bat and they can provide that 50-100-run partnerships that later down can take us to 350 to 400s,” said the West Indies head coach.

He was particularly pleased with Cornwall’s performance with the bat. Already, a crucial member of the bowling attack, Cornwall enhanced his reputation as a genuine allrounder.

“It was great to see Rahkeem’s batting coming to the fore, and in all, the batting has shown up in the last four Test matches and this is a great thing because, before that, the bowling was carrying us,” Simmons said.

The last time the West Indies had five batsmen averaging over 50 in a Test series was back in 2012, when Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kieran Powell and Denesh Ramdin all surpassed the milestone. Chanderpaul averaged over 300 for the series.

Before that, six West Indies batsmen - Chanderpaul, Junior Murray, Winston Benjamin, Jimmy Adams, Brian Lara and Sherwin Campbell - all averaged over 50 runs an innings against New Zealand in 1995.

 

 

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite insists he was proud of the fighting spirit shown by the team despite drawing both Test matches against Sri Lanka.

On Friday’s final day of the match, the visitors closed on 193 for 2 still almost 200 runs shorts of the target, and ensured that honours were shared not just for the match but for the series. 

In both matches, Sri Lanka in the first and West Indies in the second, the teams headed into the final day with big enough leads but found wickets hard to come by as they looked to force a result.  The hosts may not have come out on top in the final assessment, but the newly minted captain found plenty to be encouraged by moving forward.

“Obviously it was a good pitch. In both Test matches the bowlers really worked hard and what I was pleased with is that none of the guys ever gave up,” Brathwaite said.

“Even down to Alzarri’s last spell he was still giving an effort to get some short balls in so I’m very happy with the effort of the team.”

The captain was also pleased with the fact that the team knuckled down to bat a fair number of overs.

“… batting-wise, we continued to bat a number of overs – 90-plus overs which is a positive for us. And yes, we would’ve liked to have won but I was very happy with the attitude and discipline that we had. The pitch was a good one throughout; it didn’t spin at all, but I was very happy with the fast bowlers’ effort.”

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite said he wanted to lead from the front as his side played to a draw against Sri Lanka in the second and final Test of the 2021 Sandals Series at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua today.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite came very close to a second century in the second Sandals Test match on Thursday, which helped the team to a commanding position against Sri Lanka after the fourth day.

The experienced opener followed his 126 in the West Indies first innings with a patient 85 in the second innings which, along with half-centuries from Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder, allowed him to declare the second innings at 280 for 4, setting the visitors a target of 376 on a good pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. Holder was 71 not out, having shared a 53-run partnership with wicket-keeper Joshua Da Silva who was 20 not out.

West Indies then had 40 minutes to bowl at Sri Lanka before stumps and they reached 29-0 with captain Dimuth Karunaratne (11 not out) and Lahiru Thirimanne (17 not out) at the close. They will resume on Friday with another 347 needed for victory, while West Indies will be hunting 10 wickets in 98 overs on what is expected to be an enthralling last day.

Sri Lanka started the day at 250-8 in its first innings and the home side took just over three overs to wrap up the innings at 258 and take a first-innings lead of 96 runs. Pathum Nissanka, on 49 overnight, completed his half-century from the fifth ball of the day, but was out soon after for 51 – caught by substitute Hayden Walsh Jr. at deep backward square from the bowling of Kemar Roach after the trap was set for the hook shot.

When West Indies batted a second time Mayers went on to a half-century from 63 balls, with eight fours, before eventually falling lbw to seamer Saranga Lakmal for 55. Brathwaite reached his 21st half-century from 137 balls and looked set to reach centuries in both innings when he went on to 85, which came off 196 balls and included four boundaries. Holder played a number of outstanding shots and paced the innings well with his half-century requiring just 69 balls.

 

Stubborn resistance from Pathum Nissanka and persistent rain frustrated the West Indies on the third day of the second Test, as Sri Lanka closed play on 250 for 8, still some 104 runs behind the first innings target.

The Sri Lankans resumed play at 136 for 3 but the promising partnership of Dinesh Chandimal (44) and Dhanajaya De Silva (39) was halted in its tracks during the morning session.  Chandimal was tempted into an attempted hook shot by Shannon Gabriel and caught at deep square leg.

De Silva was given lbw on a delivery from part-timer Jermaine Blackwood, which seemed to be turning away from the stumps.  The decision was, however, not appealed.

The rain repeatedly interrupted play after lunch but there was still time for all-rounder Jason Holder to account for Niroshan Dickwella (21), who was caught behind from an inside edge.  Suranga Lakmal did not stick around long as he lasted for 9 deliveries before being caught at mid-on by Kraigg Brathwaite off Alzarri Joseph.  Dushmantha Chameera became the eighth wicket to fall, after tea, when he was caught by Joshua Da Silva off Holder but Nissanka dug into to reach to within one of a half-century and will resume tomorrow with Lasith Embuldeniya, who is scoreless. 

The rain meant that, overall, only 42 over of play were possible at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite completed his ninth Test century to place his team in a strong position at the close of play on the second day of the second Sandals Test match against Sri Lanka.

 Brathwaite needed only two balls at the start of the day to reach triple figures – when he worked the second ball from Suranga Lakmal to fine leg for a single to reach the landmark off 241 balls with 11 fours.

Brathwaite ended on 126 off 311 balls with 13 fours in seven hours and shared a crucial 103-run eighth-wicket partnership with Rahkeem Cornwall, which helped West Indies to 354. Cornwall reached a new highest score of 73 off just 92 balls with 10 fours and a six, to follow up his 61 in the first match last week.

Sri Lanka replied with 136-3 at the close of the day.

Lahiru Thirimanne followed his scores of 70 and 76 in the first Test with 55, which provided solidity at the top of the Sri Lanka order. Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya De Silva then batted through 25 overs in an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership which was worth 59 runs at stumps. Chandimal was 34 not out and De Silva 23.

 

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, batted through the day for an invaluable 99 not out as the team reached 287-7 at the close of play, on the opening day of the second and final Sandals Test against Sri Lanka, at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, in Antigua on Monday.

Brathwaite demonstrated patience and tenacity on a pitch which offered some assistance to the seam bowlers in the first session. Brathwaite’s innings has spanned six-and-a-half hours in which he faced 239 balls and struck 11 fours. He is on the verge of a ninth Test century, which would also be his second at the venue, the other was 121 against Bangladesh in 2018.

When he reached 98, Brathwaite also became the 16th West Indian batsman to surpass 4,000 Test runs – to join an elite list. The others are Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Sir Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Sir Gordon Greenidge, Alvin Kallicharan, Sir Richie Richardson, Sir Clive Lloyd, Roy Fredericks, Chris Gayle, Shiv Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Desmond Haynes and Carl Hooper.

He held the innings together and shared the day’s honours with Saranga Lakmal who had claimed two early wickets – John Campbell and Nkrumah Bonner and added Jermaine Blackwood to end the day with 3-71.

Brathwaite and Kyle Mayers had a third-wicket partnership of 71 as the left-handed made 49. West Indies slipped to 222-7 in the final session of the day, but Brathwaite found another resolute partner in Rahkeem Cornwall, who closed unbeaten on 43, in a partnership that has been worth 65 runs so far for the eighth wicket.

 

Discarded West Indies players Shai Hope and Roston Chase will have to fight their way back into the Test team, after not being selected for the matches against Sri Lanka.

Hope, widely agreed to be one of the region’s most talented batsmen, was dropped from the team after a poor run of form in November of last year.  Chase, the consistent all-rounder, at the same time replaced Kraigg Brathwaite as vice-captain ahead of the New Zealand series.

Both players were called to the team ahead of the Bangladesh series but were among 12 players to decline due to health and safety concerns. 

Hope has since returned to the ODI squad, where he looked to be in strong form.  Chase, who initially missed out on the minimum fitness requirement ahead of the series, put on a strong display in the warm-up tour matches.  Both players remain on the sideline, so far.  For now, according to Simmons, however, the current players are doing well enough to keep their places.

“The guys who played in the Test matches have done well, so we need to continue to back the guys who have done well in the last three Test matches,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom press conference.

“The way I look at it is the guys did well.  The guys went to Bangladesh, each one of the batsmen did well.  They earned their places.  So, it is a case where they continue to play and play well,” he added.

“Roston, Shai, those other players will have to fight their way back in, and that just how cricket goes.”

Newly promoted West Indies skipper, Kraigg Brathwaite, insists there is no worry about the added responsibility of captaincy affecting his batting form after somewhat of a slow start to officially taking the reins.

Brathwaite, who officially took over from Jason Holder at the start of the Sri Lanka series, made a total of 26 at the top of the order for the first Test, for an average of just 13.  The batsman did, however, manage to occupy the crease, his score of 23 in the second innings coming from 124 balls.  While not showing up on the scoreboard, the player believes it was a vital contribution.

“I’m not concerned.  In the second innings I managed to spend over two hours at the crease, which was important for us as a batting unit,” Brathwaite told members of the media via a Zoom press conference.

“As I said before, I always enjoy leading and I know what I have to do, I know my role as a batsman and also as the captain.  So, I’m not concerned.”

In the previous series against Bangladesh, as the stand-in captain for Holder, Brathwaite scored 149 runs over the two matches, for an average of 37.25.  The West Indies unexpectedly won the series 2-0, which played a crucial role in Brathwaite securing the leadership post.

 

 West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, has backed the team's strike bowler Shannon Gabriel to bounce back following a poor showing against Sri Lanka in the first Test.

The 32-year-old pace bowler had a first Test to forget, failing to claim a wicket for the entire match.  Overall, he ended with figures of 0 for 89 in 27 overs.  The bowler last went wicketless in a match last year, in the second Test against England where he ended 0 for 122.

In assessing the player’s most recent performances, however, Simmons dismissed Gabriel’s first-match struggles as just a blip and looked forward to a much better showing in the second Test.

“I thought in Bangladesh, he bowled exceptionally well in both Test matches and he was the main one, on the occasion in the first Test, who turned things around with his spell in the evening,” Simmons said in an assessment of the player’s recent form.

“He had a bad game and bowlers have that. Two of the main bowlers did not have a good game but that’s one game,” he added.

“I think he has been unsung, in New Zealand he was unsung, in Bangladesh he was unsung, so, one bad game does not change him being the strike bowler.”

In New Zealand, despite a tough series for the regional team, Gabriel, who was the pick of the bowlers, extracted plenty of pace and bounce from the surface to claim six wickets in two matches, where New Zealand only batted once.

 

 

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