Legendary West Indies wicketkeeper Jeffrey Dujon believes the Test team will be forced to continue its search for an opening batsman as the current selections have not produced a great many positive results to date.

Since the team's successful tour of Bangladesh in February three players, John Campbell, Shai Hope, and Kieran Powell have been paired at the top of the innings with West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite.

To date, the pairing with the Brathwaite has not bred much success.  Campbell has averaged 18.5 in eight innings, Powell 14.57 in seven innings, and Hope 15 in the one match played so far.  The results have often left the team well short of a solid start that has not been a feature of its play in recent times.

“I still think we need to find another opener, we are still looking for an opener and one more top-class batsman in the middle,” Dujon told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Right now we are not getting the results, we need good open partnerships and we have not been getting that,” he added.

Dujon believes that so far, the openers paired with Brathwaite have been plagued by shortcomings with playing the new ball.

“I just don’t get the feeling that he is playing down the right line, as an opening batsman playing a moving ball, I don’t think he gets down the wicket far enough,” he said of Powell.

Having only recently returned to the team, Hope has also been tried in the position.  While he certainly believes that Hope should have a spot in the team, Dujon is convinced it is not at the top of the innings.

“He’s a very good player but he is not an opener.  His style of play to open the batting in limited over cricket is fine.  He should be in this batting line-up but somewhere around four or so.”

 

 

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite has hailed the contribution of allrounder and former captain Jason Holder as the team looks to secure its first Test series win over Pakistan in almost two decades.

Holder crafted a crucial second-innings knock of 58 and took 4 wickets as the team held on for a nail-biting one-wicket win to take the lead.

However, the top allrounder has also gained plenty of attention for his actions off the field, particularly for the mentorship shown to young fast-bowler Jayden Seales.  Seales was one of the highlights of the first match for the Windies after claiming an impressive five-wicket second innings haul.

“Obviously, Jason is the number one all-rounder in the world.  He is very crucial, and he has done a fantastic job, obviously with Jayden.  I see them having a lot of chats,” Brathwaite told members of the media via an online press conference on Thursday.

“All the guys are doing a good job, they all came together but obviously Jason is the number one all-rounder in the world so obviously he brings a lot of value.”

Brathwaite replaced Holder as captain of the team in February, following a successful tour of Bangladesh, the team has since drawn with Sri Lanka and lost to South Africa.

Despite a poor run of form with the bat struggling batsmen Kyle Mayers and Nkrumah Bonner are full of confidence and are raring to go ahead of Friday’s second Test against Pakistan at Sabina Park in Kingston.

Captain Kraigg Brathwaite led the way before he was run out just shy of a century as West Indies edged ahead of Pakistan in the first Test in Jamaica.

West Indies had bowled out their opponents for 217 on the opening day of the two-match series, only to then slip to 2-2 late in Thursday's proceedings when Mohammad Abbas struck twice.

It seemed they could struggle to get even close to parity when they slipped to 100-5 during day two, but Brathwaite stood firm to make sure his side claimed a first-innings lead.

The opening batsman hit 12 fours as he patiently worked his way to 97 but, with a hundred in sight, was caught short by Hasan Ali's direct hit from fine leg to depart.

Jason Holder contributed 58 as he added 96 for the sixth wicket with the man who replaced him as skipper, the former's fluent 108-ball knock including 10 boundaries.

Abbas dismissed Kemar Roach lbw in the closing overs, giving him figures of 3-42 in the match, while Shaheen Shah Afridi ended with 2-59.

However, Joshua Da Silva was unbeaten on 20 alongside Jomel Warrican, who will resume on one not out, as West Indies closed at 251-8, already holding what could be a crucial 34-run advantage in a potentially low-scoring contest.

Coming up short

Brathwaite appeared to be working his way towards a 10th Test century and a second of the calendar year, having made 126 against Sri Lanka back in March. While unable to make it to the milestone in the end, his defiant innings made sure West Indies hold the upper hand at Sabina Park.

Afridi strikes twice but hosts recover

Pakistan will feel they let West Indies off the hook, particularly after Afridi dismissed Jermaine Blackwood – whose ambitious attempt to hit over the top on 22 only found Abbas at mid-on – and Kyle Mayers with successive deliveries in the second session. They will hope to wrap up the tail quickly on day three.

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, has insisted the responsibility of leading the team has not had a negative impact on his batting performances in the recently concluded series against South Africa.

Brathwaite, who took over as captain of the team from Jason Holder in February, had his worst performance at the top of the order for some time, albeit against a rampant South Africa.

In two matches, the 28-year-old batsman could only manage a high score of 15 and in total scored 28 runs, which included an early duck in the first innings of the second match.  Prior to heading into the series, Brathwaite had averaged 33.43, including scores of 126 and 85 against Sri Lanka in the previous series.

The batsman has, however, rejected notions of added responsibility for the team impacting his performance at the crease.

“I’m not feeling any pressure.  I enjoy captaining.  I didn’t get any runs as the opening batsman, I just didn’t get any runs full stop,” Brathwaite told members of the media.

The player has targeted looking at a few technical issues and better mental preparation ahead of the next series.

“Opening the batting isn’t easy, but it’s a very crucial job because it basically sets up the game to make it easier for guys that follow and we didn’t do that and it put us on the backfoot for most of the time,” he added.

 

 

 

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, has insisted returning batsman Shai Hope is in a good frame of mind, despite a disappointing return to the Test area against South Africa.

Hope spent several months out of the team, after being dropped in November of last year, working on technical and mental issues following a poor run of form.

The 27-year-old’s return against South Africa last week, however, was a baptism of fire, so to speak, as he was uprooted for scores of 15 and 12.  Hope, who opened in the first innings and batted third in the second, was, however, far from the only batsman who struggled on the day with the team only managing 97 in the first innings.

Ahead of the start of the second Test, on Friday, however, Brathwaite has given assurances that the batsman is confident and mentally in good shape.

“Just like any batsman, it’s important how they are feeling.  He is feeling good at the top but I back him for whichever position, whether opening or number 5, I know he will do a good job,” Brathwaite told members of the media on Thursday.

“He’s always up for the challenge and he’s up for the challenge for any position, opening is obviously different but he’s ready for any position.  He is in a good space and that’s one of the main things.  Once the batter has that positive mindset and is confident then that’s the way forward.”

Hope will be looking to replicate some of the form from the Windies Best vs Best practice match where he impressed selectors with a century.

 

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, is already focusing on getting a much better performance from the team in the second innings after a disastrous start to the series against South Africa saw them dismissed for 97 on the first day.

The West Indies had a day to forget at the crease, failing to get to triple digits in an innings for just the 19th time ever.  Jason Holder had the team’s high score with a mere 20 runs, with Brathwaite himself and opening partner Shai Hope adding the next best with 15 apiece.

The hosts were undone by the pace tandem of Lungi Ngidi, who claimed an impressive 5 for 19, and Anrich Nortje who took 4 for 35.  In response,  South Africa were 128 for 4 but Brathwaite was already thinking about the second innings.

“Obviously, South Africa bowled well and we didn’t bat well, so we have to make up for it in the second innings, it’s as simple as that,” Brathwaite said at the end of the day’s play.

“We played some loose shots, but it happens, everything won’t always be perfect as batsmen we played some balls we know we probably shouldn’t have played at, we should have left, but we know what we have to do in the second innings.”

Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje took nine wickets between them as South Africa bowled the West Indies out for 97 shortly after lunch on the opening day of first Betway Test at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium in St Lucia.

After West Indies won the toss and chose to bat on a grassy pitch, Ngidi playing in his 10th Test match took 5-19 as he tore through the West Indies middle-order that was left exposed after Nortje (4-35) claimed the wickets of both openers – Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite, who each made 15.

Kagiso Rabada removed Nkrumah Bonner for 10 and Nortje took the wicket of Kyle Mayers for 1 to leave the home side 48 for 4 at lunch.

On the resumption, South Africa wrapped up the rest of the West Indies batting as only Jason Holder, 20, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 13, provided any resistance to the accurate South African attack.

The West Indies troubles were compounded by news that Bonner, who was struck on the helmet, the first ball he faced bowled by Nortje, has suffered a concussion and will take no further part in the match. He will be replaced by Kieran Powell.

Former Windies captain, Jason Holder, admits he has been left disappointed with how some things have been handled by West Indies cricket, particularly given his monetary sacrifices over the years.

The 29-year-old, who made his debut for the West Indies in 2013, has been an ever-present in the regional team.  Since 2014, Holder, who has been both ODI and Test captain, has been on a retainer contract with Cricket West Indies (CWI), which gives the regional team priority in many instances.

It has meant the sought-after player has perhaps been unable to ply his trade in some of the cash-rich cricket competitions around the globe, as they, at times, have clashed with regional engagements.

“I could sit down here and safely say I’ve passed up a lot of money to play for West Indies. I could have been a lot more well off than I am. I consider myself really blessed because I’ve made a lot of money in my life for a guy my age…but I probably could have made a lot more but I’ve always had that desire to play for West Indies,” Holder told the Headstrong An Innings With… podcast.  The player was addressing the situation that arises when players are often forced between signing lucrative deals and representing the regional team.

Holder was replaced as West Indies captain by, Kraigg Brathwaite, in March, after the latter’s strong showing in the team’s series against Bangladesh.  Holder was one of several players who declined to go on the tour.  The all-rounder cited health and safety concerns but also quarantine fatigue, as reasons he did not participate in the tour.

While not getting into the specific instances to which he was referring, Holder expressed disappointment with the fact that he doesn’t believe that West Indies cricket has always been generous in their handling of players that have sacrificed a lot.

 “My disappointment, however, comes when players like myself give up so much to commit to West Indies cricket, and then West Indies cricket isn’t as accommodating as they possibly can. There have been a few instances where I’ve been very disappointed in how things were handled,” he added.

 

Cricket West Indies has awarded first-time international retainer contracts to Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua Da Silva, Akeal Hosein and Kyle Mayers while newly-appointed Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo received International contracts for red-ball and white-ball cricket, respectively.

A total of 18 players have been offered contracts for the upcoming 2021-22 season which runs from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.

Meanwhile, Roston Chase, Shamarh Brooks and Shane Dowrich are among several who have lost their retainer contracts. Also losing their contracts were Sunil Ambris, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd and Oshane Thomas.

“Contracts offered for the 2021-22 period sees 18 players being retained, a decrease of four from last year. Jason Holder is the only player to retain his all-format contract due to his strong Test and T20I performances during the evaluation period,” CWI Lead Selector Roger Harper confirmed.

“There are several new players offered red-ball contracts earned by their strong performances during the last period. A number of players were not retained because they did not meet the minimum requirements.”

CWI Director of Cricket, Jimmy Adams was pleased for the players who were retained.

“I am happy for all the players who have been offered retainer contracts for the upcoming period. Especially pleasing was the number of players who were awarded first-time contracts in recognition of their performances during the period under review,” he said.

“I know that the 11 players who have lost their international retainers will be striving and fighting hard to get back into the teams and earn their central contracts back next year.  These players, along with our T20 specialists, will ensure that we have genuine competition for places that will push everyone to attain higher standards of performance.”

The evaluation period for the 2021-22 contracts covered performances and statistics from April 1, 2020, to April 1, 2021 (this was also supported by statistics from the previous 2019-2020 evaluation period). This allows for all players to be appraised immediately after the evaluation period and provides a notice period before new contracts on July 1, 2021.

Below are the players who have been awarded retainer contracts.

All-Format Contracts: Jason Holder.

Red Ball Contracts: Kraigg Brathwaite, Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner*, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva*, Shannon Gabriel, Kyle Mayers* and Kemar Roach.

White Ball Contracts: Kieron Pollard, Fabien Allen, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein*, Evin Lewis, Alzarri Joseph, Nicholas Pooran and Hayden Walsh Jr.

*Players offered contracts for the first time in 2021-2022

Players who are no longer receiving international retainer contracts are:

All Format Contracts: Roston Chase.

Red Ball Contracts: Shamarh Brooks and Shane Dowrich.

White Ball Contracts: Sunil Ambris, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd and Oshane Thomas.

 All players who are no longer on International retainer contracts are offered an A* grade Regional Franchise Contract for the following year.

Roger Harper, Cricket West Indies’ Chief Selector has expressed concern over the productivity of opening partnerships for the West Indies but laments the fact that no one is really knocking at the door to be selected.

Captain Kraigg Brathwaite has had a welcome return to form with two Test half-centuries and a century in his last four Test matches but fellow opener John Campbell has not been inspiring much confidence with his performances.

The Jamaican has scores of 3, 23, 36, 18, 42, 11, 5, and 10 in his last four Tests. His last half-century, 68, was made in the second Test against New Zealand in December last year.

As a result, solid opening partnerships for the Caribbean side have been rare and this is a worry for Harper.

 “I think it has been a concern for a while. It was pleasing to see the captain get some big scores, but we need the partnership, on the whole, to be solid,” Harper said this past week on Mason and Guest.

But while Campbell has been struggling for form, Harper acknowledges that the batsman has been working hard to correct his flaws, like the ones that saw him get out in similar fashion in all four innings in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka.

 “We were delighted to see Campbell applying himself and being more patient, but we need some more positive returns,” he said.

There are several players who could come in to bolster the batting but recent history does not offer much hope for success. Players like Shai Hope and Shayne Moseley are potential replacements; Hope especially who has shown a welcome return to form in the ODIs against Sri Lanka, but Test cricket is a different prospect for a player who has struggled in that format of the game.

Moseley, who has shown promise, is yet to demonstrate that he is ready after several failures.

“It is something we are looking at. We are looking at our best options. At the moment, from a red ball perspective, we don’t have enough openers who are knocking down the door in terms of performances,” he concluded.

 

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.

 

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