Cricket West Indies (CWI) on Monday announced the West Indies Championship 2022 will start on Wednesday, February 9, marking the return of first-class cricket in the region since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CWI has unveiled the match schedule for the first two rounds of the West Indies Championship as part of a five-round tournament scheduled for the six professional regional franchises.

The West Indies Championship marks not only a return of the regional red ball competition but also the opportunity for West Indian players to stake their claim for selection to the West Indies Test squad for the forthcoming Apex Test Series between West Indies and England in March 2022.

The first and second rounds will be played in Barbados and Trinidad from Wednesday, February 9 to Saturday, February 12 and from Tuesday, February 15 to Friday, February 18. The teams will again compete for the Headley/Weekes Trophy named in honour of West Indies legends George Headley and Sir Everton Weekes.

Defending champions, Barbados Pride will face Leeward Islands Hurricanes in the first match at Kensington Oval, home team Trinidad and Tobago Red Force host Jamaica Scorpions at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Trinidad while the newly named Guyana Harpy Eagles face Windward Islands Volcanoes at Queens Park Oval in Trinidad.

In the second round, Barbados Pride faces Jamaica Scorpions at Kensington Oval, Trinidad and Tobago Red Force take on Windward Islands Volcanoes at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy and Guyana Harpy Eagles meet Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Queen’s Park Oval.

The last three rounds of the West Indies Championship are scheduled to be contested in May.

For the 2022 tournament, each squad will consist of 15 players due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CWI is also implementing a special “player loan” system to try to ensure that each team will be able to complete their fixtures. If a team has a player(s) ruled out due to a positive COVID-19 result, they can request to use a player(s) from another team and/or from a pool of locally registered reserve players.

Johnny Grave, CEO of CWI, commented on how the West Indies Championship is a critical part of CWI’s professional cricket calendar. Jimmy Adams, CWI’s Director of Cricket also welcomed the return of the four-day format.

“Following detailed planning over the past six months, we are delighted to finally announce the return of the West Indies Championship. This is exciting news as we know the teams have been putting in hours of hard work in the nets, patiently waiting for the matches to be confirmed and are looking forward to being back on the field and entertaining their fans. These upcoming matches are especially crucial as we host England in the Apex Test Series in March, so the ‘Championship’ will be the ideal preparation for our Test players as well,” Grave said.

“I am pleased to see the re-introduction of regional four-day cricket for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. This competition plays a critical role in our player-development pathway and, after almost two years, we are delighted to have our regional players back playing competitively in this format,” Adams said.

Live ball-by-ball scoring of each game will be available through the www.windiescricket.com match centre. CWI will be streaming each of the matches with commentary via the Windies Cricket, YouTube channel. The Championship will also be streamed live in India on FanCode, as part of CWI’s partnership with the Indian broadcaster.

Following Sunday's six-wicket defeat to India, fast bowler Alzarri Joseph believes the West Indies need to do a better job at the crease.

After batting first and posting a paltry 176 all out in just 43.5 overs, India needed just 28 overs to get to 178-4 and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Pace bowler Alzarri Joseph, who was the best bowler on the day for the Windies with 2-45 from seven overs, said the nature of the pitch made bowling difficult.

“It was a pretty difficult wicket. It was slow and spin-friendly so there wasn’t really much in it for me. We had our team meetings and we had specific plans for specific batsmen so I was just bowling towards the plans. I just tried to put in my effort and put my best foot forward for the team,” he said.

A common theme in the West Indies batting over the years, Joseph lamented the lack of application during their innings.

“I just think we need to assess a bit better and spend some more time at the crease. As you see, Fabian and Jason gave us a good partnership and partnerships will give us a better total. We needed to score a bit more," the Antiguan said.

"I think maybe 240 or 250 would have been a more challenging total on that wicket but it’s our first game out and we have two more games to get back in the series so we’ll just go back to the drawing board and put our plans in. We have two days to go back and plan so we’ll have our post-match meetings and come up with plans to get to where we need to get.”

Joseph has had an excellent start to his ODI career with 66 wickets in 41 matches and his goal is to just keep improving.

“My goals are just improving as a cricketer every time I go out on the field. Year after year, month after month, week after week, day after day, I try to improve myself and be better than I was yesterday,” he said.

The second ODI takes place on Wednesday.

 

 

Paul Collingwood will lead England in their Test series against West Indies following Chris Silverwood's sacking.

The ECB has made big changes following a humbling 4-0 Ashes defeat to Australia, with Silverwood and assistant Graham Thorpe following managing director Ashley Giles out of the door.

But Collingwood, another assistant, has remained in place and will take charge for the three Tests, as he did for last month's T20I tour.

After the ECB confirmed his short-term appointment on Monday, Collingwood said: "I am genuinely excited to be leading the Test team for the tour of the Caribbean. I can't wait to get started.

"Having a challenging Test series against the West Indies straight off the back of the Ashes disappointment gives us a chance from now to reset and rebuild.

"Playing Test matches for England is the highest accolade in the game. My objective is to give players clarity, direction and encouragement for them to start building something special.

"I have spoken to Joe Root and Ben Stokes, and both are excited and passionate to take the team forward in this new cycle. Although they know it won't be easy, they have the desire and bravery to do things differently to ensure the team can prosper.

"We have an opportunity to get back on track."

The England squad is set to be named later this week, with Collingwood to join them in Antigua on February 25 following a break in Barbados.

Adam Gilchrist has been upset by the treatment of Justin Langer, believing the departed Australia coach has been "painted by some particular people as a monster".

Langer stepped down on Saturday after rejecting a short-term contract extension.

Cricket Australia had hoped Langer would remain in his role for a "period of transition", with the organisation looking elsewhere for a long-term appointment.

The coach's intensity away from the pitch had been an apparent point of contention among some of the playing squad – an issue that has been raised again following his departure.

"My life has been built on values of honesty, respect, trust, truth, and performance," Langer wrote in a resignation letter reported by The Australian. "And if that comes across as 'too intense' at times, I apologise."

But Gilchrist, who played alongside Langer, has bristled at this criticism, as he explained to SEN on Monday.

"He's been painted by some particular people as a monster," Gilchrist said. "That is not Justin Langer.

"He'll be the first to admit he has his frailties, he has his areas of weakness, but gee, he'll sit and look you in the eye and work it out with you.

"So, to be painted as a monster, what sort of effect would that have on you personally and what's the flow-on effect to your family and the people that are nearest and dearest to you? Particularly through a period of time when you're not nearly understanding what is going on, the consistent innuendo and rumour.

"I think he stated it perfectly in his resignation letter: honesty, respect, trust, truth, performance.

"And then, unfortunately, he felt a compelling need to say 'if that's been the trouble, I apologise' – they're the foundations he bases his life on.

"I totally agree with him; I unfortunately disagree with him that he felt a need to apologise, because that shouldn't be a situation."

West Indies Women lost their final ODI by six wickets to South Africa’s Women in Johannesburg on Sunday and with it the series 2-1.

Rohit Sharma enjoyed a brilliant start to life as India's ODI captain in a dominant six-wicket defeat of West Indies on Sunday.

Rohit was named skipper in December but only now, in the series opener in Ahmedabad, has he been able to lead his side due to a hamstring injury.

It was worth the wait, however, as India cruised to victory in their 1,000th ODI, aided by 60 runs from 51 balls from Rohit.

That knock, which included 10 fours and a six, set the tone for a straightforward chase after West Indies had been bowled out for 176.

Even that modest total required some heavy lifting from Jason Holder, whose 57 improved markedly on a woeful 7-79 start after the Windies skipper survived a scare.

Holder could have been the victim of a hat-trick ball from Yuzvendra Chahal (4-49), but his inside edge fell short of short leg.

Chahal's fellow spinner Washington Sundar – returning for his second ODI more than four years after his first – finished with 3-30 to help ensure a straightforward target for Rohit and Co.

An opening partnership of 84 with Ishan Kishan took any jeopardy out of the situation, as India comfortably made 178-4 in 28 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Holder reaches milestone in attempted rescue act...

A stunning spell from Chahal, whose four wickets took him to 103 in 60 ODIs (the fifth-fastest India bowler to 100), had West Indies in all sorts of trouble, but it also brought Holder out into the middle.

The captain led the way as the tourists belatedly showed some fight, making 57 to pass 2,000 ODI runs (2,011) and become the fifth West Indies player to reach that mark along with 100 wickets in this format. Holder has 141 ODI wickets but could not add to that tally.

But both innings belong to opposite number Rohit

There is little doubting Rohit's ability with the bat, and the opener's 60 took him past Sachin Tendulkar (1,573) onto 1,583 ODI runs against West Indies, with only Virat Kohli (now 2,243) scoring more for India.

The full-time captaincy role is a new one, however, and Rohit was just as impressive in that sense. Rewarded for putting his faith in the spinners, the skipper also had three successful reviews from three to account for Darren Bravo, Nicholas Pooran and Shamarh Brooks.

Rohit Sharma takes charge of India for a milestone ODI against West Indies on Sunday, saying the team "have to change" as his tenure as captain begins in earnest.

India have lost their last four ODIs, after slumping to a 3-0 series defeat to South Africa in January, with Rohit forced to miss the games against the Proteas due to a hamstring injury.

The opening batsman was appointed India's ODI skipper in December, taking over from Virat Kohli, but he has yet to feature for his country since then.

Now his chance to stamp a mark on the team has arrived, and Rohit said it would be "the same template" rather than anything radical that he brings to the leadership, but it is clear this is a flexible template.

A three-match ODI series awaits, with matches being played on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, all at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, ahead of a three-game T20I tussle in Kolkata.

At the age of 34, Rohit is seen as a wise tactician, a safe pair of hands for the coming years, and he has no designs of being a radical skipper.

"We are a good team and have good players. It's just that on certain occasions, there will be situations presented in front of us where we have to change our game a little bit," he said.

"We have to change our game, there is no doubt about that. Adaptability and being open to different things at different points is what we have spoken of."

He explained: "We have played good ODI cricket over the course of a few years – more than a few years, actually.

"Suddenly a loss of a series doesn't mean there's a panic that we need to create. It's just the certain understandings, certain learnings that we need to take into our game.

"The South Africa series was a great learning [experience] for us as to what we didn't do collectively as a team."

India's 1,000th ODI arrives on Sunday. They will become the first men's team to reach that mark and have won 518 matches in the format to date (L431 T9 NR41) – only Australia have won more such games (581).

Rohit will be partnered at the top of the India order by Ishan Kishan, with COVID-19 positive tests sidelining both Shikhar Dhawan and Ruturaj Gaikwad, while Mayank Agarwal, called up to add another option, is in the quarantining stage as he joins the team bubble.


A tangled history

India have won seven of their last eight men's ODIs against West Indies; however, it has been a different story at the venue for this series. In fact, West Indies have won four of the five ODIs they have played against India at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

India's lone win came in November 2002. The latest meeting of the teams at this ground took place in 2011, so although there is a historical record of West Indies dominance, it would be a stretch to point to this as particularly relevant to this series... unless, of course, West Indies rout India, then wise heads can say they saw it coming.

That seems unlikely, though. India have won nine of their last 10 bilateral home men's ODI series (L1), including the last three. Their lone defeat in this period was a 3-2 loss to Australia in March 2019. The last time West Indies triumphed against India, in India, in a bilateral ODI series was a 4-3 success in November 2002.

Can Holder dazzle again for West Indies?

West Indies are fresh from beating England 3-2 at home in a T20I series, so their morale is high. Jason Holder's four wickets in four balls in the final over of the series decider stands him in good stead, and the former captain will have another achievement in his sights. 

Holder, who has 141 ODI wickets, needs 46 more runs with the bat to reach 2,000 in ODI cricket. It would make him the fifth man to register 2,000 runs and 100 wickets for West Indies in the format.

India are champions of the ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup for a fifth time after a four-wicket win over England in the final at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium in Antigua on Saturday.

Despite a near flawless 95 off 116 balls including 12 fours from James Rew, England had a disappointing outing with the bat, being bowled out for 189 off just 44.5 overs.

James Sales was the next highest scorer for the English with 34 not out off 65 balls.

All-rounder Raj Bawa led the way for India with the ball with 5-31 off 9.5 overs, the best figures in the history of U-19 World Cup finals.

Bawa was supported well by Ravi Kumar who narrowly missed out on a five-wicket haul of his own, taking 4-34 off his nine overs.

After an indifferent start to the reply, an unbeaten 50 off 54 balls from Nishant Sindhu helped guide India to their target, finishing 195-6 off 47.4 overs.

Vice-captain Shaik Rasheed earlier got an even 50 off 84 balls for the Indians while Bawa also contributed 35.

Joshua Boyden, Tom Aspinwall and James Sales all took two wickets each for England.

Bawa was voted player of the match while South Africa's Dewald Brevis was voted player of the tournament after scoring 506 runs in six innings, the most runs in an Under-19 World Cup.

In any form of cricket, you can’t score runs off the deliveries you don’t face. This rings true whether it’s Test, ODI or T20 cricket.

For the West Indies in the One-Day International format, a main problem over the last few years has been an inability to bat for their full 50 overs.

Speaking on Saturday ahead of the start of the regional team’s limited-overs tour of India, Captain Kieron Pollard says the main focus will be to rectify that.

“For this series against India, I think one of the things we need to take forward is how we bat 50 overs. We haven’t batted 50 overs for the last couple series against Ireland and Australia so that’s something that we need to look at. As a team, we need to follow the template and follow the plans that are put out there so we can be successful,” said Pollard.

“It’s another opportunity for us to test our skills and see where we are, coming up against a formidable Indian team in Indian conditions. If my memory serves me correctly, I think the last time we were down here, we did pretty well. We didn’t win the series but we pushed them so now we’re looking to push that one step further,” he added.

His memory does serve him correctly as the last time the West Indies toured India in 2019, they suffered 2-1 series defeats in both the ODIs and T20Is.

Asked about where he is mentally going into this series, Pollard said: "I’m in a good space, you know. I didn’t tour Pakistan so I got some much-needed time off to refresh the mind and body. Coming back in the Ireland series was difficult and the England series was tough as well but these things happen.

"Once you have intentions of playing sports; emotions, mental space, physical capabilities, all these things are tested and, for me, I’ve played my entire career with a lot of things riding on it and I’ve come through it with a smile on my face and that’s how I’m going to finish my career as well.”

The West Indies will oppose India in three ODIs and three T20Is, with the first ODI taking place on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

As the ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2022 reaches its crescendo, Cricket West Indies (CWI) President Ricky Skerritt has lauded the diligence and commitment of the four host governments and tournament staff in delivering another world-class event.

 

Speaking in Antigua yesterday – ahead of today’s grand tournament finale between England and India – he noted that, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has taken place “almost seamlessly which is a great credit to all who worked tirelessly to make it a reality in difficult circumstances”.

 

“We knew it would be extra tough hosting such a large sporting event during the pandemic, especially moving so many people around different countries with different protocols; 16 teams, match officials, event staff, and broadcast crews. Then we had to factor in the periodic (COVID-19) testing of everyone associated with the tournament and, of course, we had some positive cases which we dealt with appropriately. It has proven a rigorous examination of our readiness; the systems we put in place; and of our ability to adapt and respond quickly to evolving situations,” he noted.

 

“Our people have done an amazing job to stay focused and to keep cricket playing. Congratulations to all the host countries as well as to our Tournament Director Fawwaz Baksh and the entire Project Team. I must single out our host governments for going above and beyond to ensure this event’s success. Thank you for such wholehearted and priceless support.”

 

Stressing this is the fourth International Cricket Council (ICC) global tournament being hosted by Cricket West Indies, Skerritt underscored the value of having “a growing cadre of sport-events professionals who are experienced in delivering events to world-class standards and capable of remaining calm under pressure”.

 

“Our Tournament Director and other project staff have worked on previous World Cups which the region has hosted. The fact that we were able to stay on track with the tournament schedule is glowing testament to them, as well as to the dedication of the host governments, the Local Organizing Committees, the airlines, hotels, medical experts, transportation operators and other service providers with whom we worked.

 

“Everyone understood what was at stake. This has been a collective exercise in resilience and a determination to find solutions and to show our best in the face of adversity. It has been great teamwork – including with the ICC – and a sterling reminder that we are always stronger together.”

 

The President was thankful that COVID-19 hardly interfered with on-field action in the 23-day event; with only two matches in the Plate competition being cancelled because Canada could not field a team.

 

“Fans watching on television or via live streaming have been marvelling at how we have pulled this off. It was viewing as usual – cricket being played in Guyana, St. Kitts, Trinidad and now Antigua – and ultimately that’s what will be remembered: the exploits of the next generation of international stars and the excitement they brought to the world.”

Australia secured a two-wicket win over Afghanistan at the Coolidge Cricket Ground to finish third at the ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup Friday.

Afghanistan won the toss, chose to bat first and posted a relatively modest 201 all out off 49.2 overs.

Ijaz Ahmad Ahmadzai was the chief run-getter for Afghanistan with 81 off 79 balls including five fours and five sixes.

He was supported by captain Suliman Safi (37) and Mohammad Ishaq (34).

Nivethan Radhakrishnan was the pick of the Australian bowlers with 3-31 from 10 overs while William Salzmann supported well with 3-43 from his 10 overs.

Radhakrishnan completed a fine all-round performance with a top score of 66 off 96 balls including seven fours to lead Australia in their chase.

Campbell Kellaway also got a half-century (51) in the Australian reply.

After seeming to have it all under control at 118-3 in the 29th over, timely wickets made the journey a lot harder than the Aussies would have liked.

Some tight bowling and unsure batting led to Afghanistan being on the cusp of an unlikely comeback victory with Australia reeling at 196-8 with two overs remaining before Joshua Garner and Jack Sinfield held their nerves to get Australia over the line, reaching 202-8 off 49.1 overs to secure the win.

Nangeyalia Kharote took 3-35 off 9.1 overs while Shahidullah Hasani and Noor Ahmad took two wickets each for Afghanistan.

 

 

West Indian batsman Sherfane Rutherford’s Peshawar Zalmi got their second win in the 2022 Pakistan Super League (PSL) with a nine-run victory over the Karachi Kings in Karachi Friday.

The Kings, led by the number-one-ranked T20 batsman in the world Babar Azam, won the toss and chose to field.

Peshawar posted 173-4 off their 20 overs thanks to a top score of 52 not out off 28 balls from Captain Shoaib Malik that included five fours and two sixes.

Afghanistan power hitter Hazratullah Zazai contributed a 27-ball 41 at the top of the innings while Rutherford ended not out on nine from four balls with one six.

Umaid Asif was the best bowler for the Kings with 3-36 from four overs.

Despite a well-compiled 90 not out off 63 balls from Azam, the Kings ended agonizingly short of their target finishing 164-6 off their 20 overs.

Babar’s knock included 12 fours and one six while Englishman Ian Cockbain was the next best contributor with 31 from 19 balls.

Mohammad Umar was the pick of the Zalmi bowlers with 3-22 from his four overs.

Peshawar Zalmi are now fourth in the points table with four points while the Karachi Kings have yet to register a point after registering their fourth loss in as many games.

Joe Root will continue as England's Test captain at least for the upcoming tour of the West Indies, interim managing director Andrew Strauss has confirmed.

Root's position as skipper was thought to be under threat in the wake of England's crushing 4-0 Ashes series defeat to Australia.

That embarrassment proved the final straw for much-maligned head coach Chris Silverwood and managing director Ashley Giles, who were both dismissed this week.

There have been plenty of calls from fans and pundits alike for Root to also be removed from his position, though it would appear he is safe for the time being.

In his first news conference since temporarily taking over from Giles, Strauss said: "Having spoken to [Root], it is absolutely clear the extent of his commitment to taking this England cricket team forward. He has got incredible motivation and energy to do that.

"He is bruised, hugely disappointed by what went on in the Ashes – that goes without saying and many others are in the same boat – but he has the respect of the players, they all play for him and obviously he sets a magnificent example both on and off the field.

"I'm very happy to give him my support, and make sure that we've got the right sort of structure around him to take the pressure off him and allow him to do his job on the pitch."

Graham Thorpe, who operated as Silverwood's assistant, has not been so fortunate.

A statement confirmed the former England batsman "has left his position" with immediate effect.

Strauss said: "I'd like to thank Graham for his work over many years on the England coaching staff and wish him the best for the future."

England are due to begin their three-Test tour of West Indies on March 8.

Chris Silverwood has been sacked as England's head coach following their dismal Ashes campaign, it has been confirmed.

An interim replacement will be appointed for the upcoming Test tour of the West Indies, which gets under way in Antigua on March 8. 

Silverwood's exit came a day after managing director of England men's cricket Ashley Giles left his post, with the decisions taken following an ECB review of performances in Australia. 

England succumbed to a 4-0 defeat to their Ashes rivals, with significant questions asked of their selections and batting. 

"During his time in the role, Chris has given absolutely everything to make a success of it. He is a man of great integrity, who players and staff alike have enjoyed working with," said ECB chief executive Tom Harrison. 

"Under Chris, England men's white ball teams have been ranked first and second in the world while he also led the Test team to a number of series wins including away in South Africa and Sri Lanka. 

"He has led the England men's team with great resilience and empathy through an incredibly challenging period for English cricket, and he deserves our sincere thanks and gratitude. 

"In the coming days Andrew Strauss will appoint a caretaker coach for the tour of the West Indies and will then consider the appropriate coaching structures to help England move forwards." 

Silverwood said: "It's been an absolute honour to be England head coach, and I'm extremely proud to have worked alongside our players and staff. I want to thank them all for the hard work and commitment they have given during my time in the role and I wish them all the very best moving forward. 

"The last two years have been very demanding but I have really enjoyed my time with the team and working with Rooty [Joe Root, Test captain] and Morgs [Eoin Morgan, white-ball captain], and I am very proud of this group considering the challenges. 

"I leave with fond memories and I am now looking forward to spending some quality time at home with my family and embracing the next chapter."

Silverwood had been in the role since October 2019, having replaced Cricket World Cup-winning coach Trevor Bayliss.

Chris Silverwood has been sacked as England's head coach following their dismal Ashes campaign, it has been confirmed.

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