Former England captain turned cricket analyst Kevin Pietersen has expressed surprise at the decision by Punjab Kings XI to legendary West Indian batsman Chris Gayle out of the line-up on his birthday.

The iconic ball-beater turned 42 on Tuesday but could only watch from the bench as the team fell to a 2 runs loss to Rajasthan Royals.  The West Indian has managed 178 runs in 8 matches, with an average of 25.42.  The average is the fourth-best on the team, but on Tuesday the Kings opted for Aiden Markham at the third place in the line-up, which Gayle has been occupying since last season.

Pietersen admits he found the situation to be an unusual one.

   "There will be some questions asked. I don’t understand why you would leave Chris Gayle out on his birthday,” Pietersen said on Star Sports.

“If there was one game you were going to play him, it was this one. If he failed then you say ‘ok, you can have a bit of rest’. So, I can’t understand the thinking at all," he added.

Gayle has been selected for the West Indies T20 squad for next month’s ICC World T20, the appearance will mark his 7th at the global tournament.

In front of a home crowd, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots secured a place in the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) final with a dominant seven-wicket victory over the Guyana Amazon Warriors. 

The Patriots won the toss and chose to field first. Despite a bright start from the Amazon Warrior’s openers, wickets tumbled in the middle overs before a late burst from Shimron Hetmyer took his side to a substantial 178/9. 

In their chase, the Patriots once again opted to open with Chris Gayle, and he laid the platform for a successful chase, lashing the ball into the stands on numerous occasions before Evin Lewis then took over to guide his side to a crushing victory. 

The Warriors consolidated after losing Brandon King in the fourth over of their innings, with Chandrapaul Hemraj and Shoaib Malik patiently building. However, three wickets in three successive overs, including that of captain Nicholas Pooran, saw the side collapse, reaching 131-8 at one point. Spinners Jon-Russ Jaggesar and Fawad Ahmed were exceptional for the Patriots during this period. It was left to Shimron Hetmyer to salvage the innings and he did so in spectacular style, scoring 45 runs from 20 balls, including a remarkable 25 runs from the last over of the innings. 

St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in turn reached their highest powerplay score of this year’s Hero CPL, Gayle, and Lewis bringing up 68-0 after the first six overs. Gayle was in destructive form, scoring 42 from 27 balls, and after he fell to youngster Kevin Sinclair, it was Lewis who took responsibility to lead the chase. Supported by captain DJ Bravo, who promoted himself to number three, Lewis blasted 77* off just 39 balls as the Patriots won with thirteen balls to spare. 

With this win, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots will now go on to meet the Saint Lucia Kings in Wednesday’s Hero CPL final, with one side set to win their maiden title. 

St Kitts & Nevis Patriots returned to winning ways with an eight-wicket victory over the Trinbago Knight Riders on Saturday night to seal a spot in the latter stages of the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League. 

The Patriots bowled brilliantly and then backed that up with a dominant batting display that saw them knock off the victory target with 32 balls to spare. 

 It was Evin Lewis who was the star of the show, making 102 from just 52 balls. 

 The Knight Riders got off to a slow start in the face of some excellent bowling from the Patriots. They reached the end of their PowerPlay at 28-2 with both Lendl Simmons and Denesh Ramdin dismissed caught on the mid-wicket boundary. Ramdin could have gone an over earlier, but Ravi Bopara put down a simple chance. Thankfully for the Patriots, this did not prove too costly. 

A 50-run stand between Darren Bravo and Colin Munro steadied the ship and brought the Knight Riders back into the contest. Munro would go on to top score with 47 but when Darren Bravo went for 22 the Knight Riders lost momentum once again. When Munro and Kieron Pollard went in successive balls bowled by Jon-Russ Jaggesar it looked as if the Knight Riders would set a sub-par total but some big hitting from Sunil Narine took his team to 159-7. 

 The Patriots innings got off to a flying start thanks to Evin Lewis and Chris Gayle who was promoted to open as a result of an injury to Devon Thomas. They reached 67-1 from their PowerPlay overs with Gayle the wicket to fall for 35 from 18 balls. 

When Gayle went it was Lewis who took up the attack, passing his fifty from just 27 balls. While Narine was economical, returning figures of 0/10 from his four overs, the rest of the Knight Riders bowlers struggled for control in the face of the Lewis onslaught. 

Bopara and Lewis shared an 85-run stand, and Bopara contributed just seven runs as the Patriots opener smashed the ball to all parts. 

 This win moves the Patriots back to the top of the table and guarantees them a space in the semi-finals on Tuesday 14 September. 

Scores: St Kitts & Nevis Patriots 160-2 (Lewis 102*, Gayle 35; Pollard 1-20, Khan 1-54) beat Trinbago Knight Riders 159-7 (Munro 47, Narine 32*; Jaggesar 3-32, Drakes 3-32) by eight wickets

 

Ravi Rampaul and Roston Chase have been called for the West Indies World Cup squad for next month’s International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Men’s T20 World Cup, 2021 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Former West Indies opener Philo Wallace does not believe Chris Gayle should be included in a West Indies squad for the ICC T20 World Cup to be held in the United Arab Emirates next month.

Wallace believes the 42-year-old Jamaican, arguably the best T20 player in history, who has served West Indies cricket well over the years, is now well past his best. He cites Gayle's performances so far in the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League as clear signs that the Universe Boss is not the game-changing player he used to be.

“Past performances don’t cut it,” Wallace argued while speaking on the Mason&Guest radio show in Barbados on Tuesday evening.

“Gayle has done wonderfully well. I have no disrespect for Christopher Gayle. I think he has done wonderfully well for the West Indies and himself but the time has come where you need to sit down or stand in a mirror and say ‘can I make it? Can I make it through a world cup?”

At the time he made his comments Gayle had scored 83 runs in five matches in the 2021 CPL with a top score of 42. He is averaging 16.6 runs an innings and has a strike rate of 110.60. According to Wallace, those numbers are simply not good enough.

“For where he is right now in the CPL, it’s a bit of a struggle for someone like Gayle knowing his reputation and what he can do, but you want people of that vintage to be striking it,” Wallace said.

“You had enough time to prepare for the CPL and you know that the CPL is coming before selection for the World Cup.

“If you really wanted to make a statement that I want to go to the world cup despite my age you need to be striking the ball and score runs. There is no excuse for it.”

Wallace named the team he would select for the World Cup and it included Kieron Pollard (captain) Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain), Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons Shimron Hetmyer, Fabian Allen, Andre Russell, Obed McCoy, Dwayne Bravo, Jason Holder, Andre Fletcher, Hayden Walsh Jr, Akeal Hosein, Odean Smith and Roston Chase.

He listed Sherfane Rutherford, Oshane Thomas and Romario Shepherd as his reserves.

“There is no Gayle, there is no Fidel Edwards because I feel when you get to a certain vintage and you are not fit you have to quit,” Wallace said.

“This cricket is going to be hard. The UAE is not going to be easy against the best players in the world. New Zealand has left out Ross Taylor as well, so they’re looking to move on. West Indies cricket needs to move on.”

 

 

 

St Kitts & Nevis Patriots maintained their unbeaten start to the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) with a remarkable final ball win over Barbados Royals, who suffered their fourth defeat of the tournament.

Former West Indies fast bowler Tony Gray believes the Australia series could be make or break for veteran batsman Chris Gayle, insisting he would give him just another two games to turn things around, if he were on the panel of selectors.

The 41-year-old Gayle has struggled to make a positive impact with the bat since being recalled to the team in February of this year, after two years away from the squad.

The batsman's selection to the preliminary World Cup squad has proven to be a source of controversy with opinion sharply split into two camps.  On one hand, many believe the batsman's ability to change a game within a few deliveries continues to make him an indispensable asset heading into the tournament, others point to his decline in explosiveness and fitness as evidence that the spot should be taken up a younger player.

His performances so far have done little to make a strong case for his inclusion.  In eight matches, against Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Australia, Gayle has averaged 12.71, with a combined 89 runs, and has a highest score of 31.  In addition, the batsman has a strike rate of 94.68, well below his career average of 139.71.

Speaking just before the start of the Australia series, Gray suggested the batsman could be running out of time to repay the faith of the selectors.

“I think initially the selectors did a good job of picking this T20 squad.  You have to give Chris Gayle the chance to show he has some kind of form, but if he is getting the opportunity and not firing, I would not pick him,” Gray told the Mason and Guest radio show.

Gayle is the all-time leading runs scorer for the West Indies in T20 international cricket, having scored 1716 in 66 matches.

"I think they need to have a serious word with Chris Gayle in the sense that he is 41 years old now, and obviously they have to have some sort of system where they say to Chris Gayle that 'we're giving you about nine games,'" Gray said.

"If you're not firing for nine games, then the remaining games before the World Cup, we have to give a young player', so that's the sort of system they need with Chris Gayle,” he added.

"If he doesn't fire against Australia for the first two games, I'm not taking him to the World Cup. That would be seven games - against Sri Lanka and South Africa - and the next two games would be nine games, he had an opportunity to fire.”

Gayle made just 4 runs in the opening match against Australia on Friday.

 

 

West Indies chief of selectors, Roger Harper, has admitted that much better performances were expected from the team’s senior batsman after a sub-par showing against South Africa in the recently concluded T20 series.

Despite starting the series in strong fashion, the West Indies were beaten eventually beaten 3-2 after failing to successfully chase a target of close to 170 in three of five matches.

Fabian Allen had the team’s highest average with 67 in four matches, followed by Evin Lewis with 35.60 in five and Andre Fletcher 32.50 from two matches.  However, there will have been major concerns about some of the team’s seasoned batting stars who struggled to find a way into the series.

Veteran batsman Chris Gayle played four games and averaged just 18.66, with a high score of 32.  Andre Russell averaged 15.50, also in five games, with a high score of 25, team captain Pollard had a high score of 51, but also struggled, managing to average just 22 in five matches.

A few of the team's younger, but seasoned T20 players also struggled, with Shimron Hetmyer averaging 19 and Nicholas Pooran 17.75.

The panel of selectors has come under pressure in some quarters for picking the veteran’s trio of Gayle, Fidel Edwards, and Darren Bravo.  However, while Edwards picked up two wickets in two matches and Bravo was the leading wicket-taker with 10, the spotlight has continued to shine on Gayle’s struggles.

“Certainly, Bravo was the leading wicket-taker and Fidel played a couple of games and started to get into stride in the second game.  But from a batting perspective we expect quite a bit more from the senior guys,” Harper told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Maybe we just got carried away with the manner and the method that we used to win that first game from a batting perspective and just thought that we could continue in the same vein and found ourselves in a hole in the middle overs because South Africa adjusted their approach.”

 

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, insists he will not be overly perturbed by the din surrounding the selection of some senior players for the team, as a debate would have surrounded the squad regardless.

The selection of veteran players Chris Gayle, Fidel Edwards, and Dwayne Bravo has ruffled the feathers of some fans who insist the team should be more focused on developing younger players. 

With the T20 World Cup coming up, however, the position of the panel of selectors, and articulated by Pollard himself, has been to leave the door open for any player that can meaningfully contribute to the team winning a third title.

Gayle (41), Edwards (39), and Bravo (37) have been called up to the team ahead of a series of T20 contests, ahead of the global tournament, which began with a series against Sri Lanka back in February.

“When you look at if from a logical perspective if you go with youngsters there will still be noise.  No matter what you do there will be noise,” Pollard told members of the media, in addressing the issue.

“So, I think it’s what’s best for us, what’s best for us, and what we think is best for us going into a tournament like that.  If those guys can be assets for us, then why not get the opportunity to use the little bit of experience or a little bit of cricket that they may have left in them," he added.

“It’s a situation that we are looking to pick the best team.  So, these guys they play around the world, and we get the opportunity to see them play around the world and we wonder why they are not playing for us but then when we select them, we ask the questions, why are we selecting them?  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”   

Andre Russell has been named among a 13-man squad for the first and second CG Insurance T20 Internationals (T20I) against South Africa starting on Saturday (June 26) in Grenada.

The matches will be played at the Grenada National Stadium on Saturday and Sunday. The first ball daily is 2 pm (1 pm Jamaica Time).

Russell is a two-time T20 World Cup winner, having been a member of the squad which won the titles in 2012 and 2016. He has played 49 T20Is for the West Indies and his last appearance was against Sri Lanka in Pallekele in March last year.

“Andre Russell will add that ‘X’ factor to the team. He is an impact player with both bat and ball and lends greater depth in both departments," said Chief Selector Roger Harper while explaining the reason for the Jamaican's recall.

"The aim is to build on the performance against Sri Lanka earlier this year, to build confidence while determining our best squad and team as we run into the ICC T20 World Cup.”

 Trinidad's Kieron Pollard will lead the squad and have compatriot Nicholas Pooran as his vice-captain. The other members of the squad include Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons and Kevin Sinclair.

Fully vaccinated fans will be able to buy tickets for the game from the stadium box office and ticket booths on presentation of their vaccination documentation and their national ID, with tickets available at EC$50 per match.

Fans in the Caribbean can watch live on Flow Sports or via the Flow Sports app. Live radio commentary is available on the Windies Cricket YouTube channel and on a number of local radio stations across the Caribbean. Fans also follow live ball by ball scoring in the www.windiescricket.com live match centre, featuring the new live match blog.

Chris Gayle, Shakib al Hasan and Faf du Plessis will be playing at 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) which takes place in St Kitts & Nevis from 28 August to 19 September.

Chris Gayle will be back with the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, a team he played for in 2017 and 2018. Gayle guided the Patriots to their only Hero CPL final in his first year with the franchise. As the leading run-scorer in T20 history, he brings a huge amount of experience to the Patriots squad. 

Shakib al Hasan has joined the Jamaica Tallawahs for the 2021 season. This will be the second time that the world’s leading spin-bowling allrounder has represented the Tallawahs having been with the franchise in 2016 and 2017.

Faf du Plessis will be playing for the St Lucia Zouks this season. The former South Africa captain has been in outstanding form in recent months for the Chennai Super Kings at the Indian Premier League where he made four consecutive half-centuries, including 95 not out against Kolkata Knight Riders. This is his second stint at the Hero CPL having played for the Patriots in 2016.

 

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.”

The veteran trio of Chris Gayle, Fidel Edwards, and Dwayne Bravo have all been included in a provisional 18-man squad released by Cricket West Indies, ahead of a flurry of upcoming international matches.

As part of preparations for the upcoming World T20 championships the Windies, the defending champions, will be involved in three back-to-back five-match T20 International (T20I) series against South Africa, Australia, and Pakistan.

The squad, which will be captained by Kieron Pollard, will also see the return of the likes of Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, and Hayden Walsh Jr.  The players missed out on being selected for the team’s previous T20 international series against Sri Lanka, which was won 2-1 by the regional team.

Windies coach Phil Simmons has praised the squad as a combination of experience and youth.

“These upcoming T20Is are crucial in terms of our preparation for the ICC T20 World Cup. We have assembled a very solid squad — with experienced world-class match-winners and some exciting young talented players, ready to explode onto the global stage and do great things for West Indies cricket,” Simmons said.

 “We are at that point where we have identified those who we will look to be the core of the squad to defend our World Cup title, so we want to make sure the upcoming matches create that environment — the way we train, the way we plan, the way we execute and the chemistry within the group. We won five years ago, so the next few weeks and months will be major steppingstones on the road towards defending our title and being World Champions for the third time.”

 

FULL SQUAD SELECTED:

  1. Kieron Pollard – Captain
  2. Nicholas Pooran – Vice-Captain
  3. Fabian Allen
  4. Dwayne Bravo
  5. Sheldon Cottrell
  6. Fidel Edwards
  7. Andre Fletcher
  8. Chris Gayle
  9. Shimron Hetmyer
  10. Jason Holder
  11. Akeal Hosein
  12. Evin Lewis
  13. Obed McCoy
  14. Andre Russell
  15. Lendl Simmons
  16. Kevin Sinclair
  17. Oshane Thomas
  18. Hayden Walsh Jr

Former West Indies batsman Suruj Ragoonath insists that he would leave both veteran players Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine out of a squad for the T20 World Cup, but very for different reasons.

With the World Cup just a few months away, the debate has raged on regarding the most effective composition of the squad.  Experienced players like Gayle, Narine, and Dwayne Bravo, who all have world titles under their belts, remain eligible for selection.  Some have called for the selection panel to look past the players.

Recently, the selection of veteran players Fidel Edwards and Gayle, for the West Indies series against Sri Lanka, set off vigorous debate around the region.  While some endorsed the decision the Cricket West Indies (CWI) selection panel’s decision to add experience to the World Cup squad.  Some argued that Gayle being 41 and Edwards 39, the CWI should be invested in selecting promising youth players.

 In the meantime, top spinner Narine is only 32 but has not appeared for the West Indies since 2019 and prior to that had not played consistently.

“I don’t think that Sunil Narine is interested in going to World Cup, to be honest, given the challenges he had,” Ragoonath told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Dwayne Bravo is showing that he is still capable and Chris Gayle for me is a big question mark.  For the first time, I’ve seen Chris Gayle actually dive around in a match.  The last game they played (Punjab King’s XI).  He looks a little fitter, but at the same time, I am not inclined to taking Chris Gayle to a World Cup at this stage,” he added.

Gayle struggled to make an impact against Sri Lanka in March, scoring just 29 runs in three matches.  Since the start of this season’s IPL, the batsman has been solid, if not spectacular for Punjab Kings XI after scoring 165 runs from seven matches.

“Of the three, I would love to have Sunil Narine on my side, but psychologically Sunil is not half the player he used to be and so Bravo is the only one I would give serious consideration to.”

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